Monday, December 18, 2017

Solid Gold Behavior with Solid Gold Superfoods Chewy Dog Treats from Chewy.com

Rye has been struggling to stay on Santa's Nice List lately, so she's been spending a lot of time dreaming that something wonderful would show up just for her.


Then one day a Chewy.com box arrived with a bag of Solid Gold Superfoods Chewy Dog Treats in Beef, Mango, and Turmeric. Rye knew that this had to be a special message from Santa's elves to encourage her to keep trying to be good.


Rye could not wait to try out these treats. She loves beef flavored snacks and one our agility classmates has raved about other Solid Gold products, so she knew that these were going to be good. I had high hopes just from looking at the packaging--I love it when you can see the product through the packaging because I need to know that I'm getting treats that we can break into little pieces for training. 


The package is filled with little meatballs that have ingredients like beef, mango, and turmeric, but also pumpkin and parsley. 


Rye tried to sneak a bite several times before I could get a picture of the treats. They had a strong meaty smell, so her little hound nose was working overtime as soon as I opened the bag.

These treats also come in other proteins, including turkey, pork, and chicken, so they have plenty of  options for dogs with discerning tastes like Rye.

The treats do break up into smaller pieces, but they're not as chewy as I expected and they crumble a little bit, which makes them less desirable for tossing into my pocket for a walk. They also take a little work to break into pieces, which is more challenging when I'm wearing gloves, so we'll probably save these for summer snacks--but Rye would be more than happy to eat them year round.

Disclaimer: We were given a package of Solid Gold Superfoods Chewy Dog Treats from Chewy.com as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program in exchange for our honest review.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Walking in a Winter Horrorland

Walking with Barley the abominable snow pup has always been relaxing--even when it's really cold and I'm afraid I'll be a popsicle by the time we get home. Walking with the junior abominable snow pup, though, is proving to be less relaxing.

Rye and I didn't do a lot of walking last winter. She is leashed chaos and our neighborhood is usually a sheet of ice, so we got a few short walks in when there was a layer of snow on the roads to give us a little traction, but for the most part, we just played in the yard last winter.


This year, with the help of a new harness, some training, and YakTrax, Rye has ventured out with Barley and me on several winter walks.


Rye loves the snow--especially bounding through deep drifts, so I was sure she'd be happy to go on winter walks as long as I could find a way to make sure she didn't kill me in the process.

On our first outing, though, I realized that the marshmallow world Barley and I enjoy exploring so much isn't quite the same wonderland for Rye. 

My sensitive little dog doesn't handle change well. The world looks different in the snow--and she doesn't get to watch it slowly transform like she does as she runs in and out to play in the snow in the yard. Instead, lawn decorations magically disappear, cars crunch through the snow, plows threaten to cover us with snow, and kids run and scream and throw things at one another.

It hit me that my little dog needs a little more help navigating the world on winter walks when an elderly neighbor stopped us on our walk and asked if the dogs were friendly. I was in the process of saying Barley is and Rye can be shy, but isn't unfriendly when the woman's furry hood slid down and she reached up to push it back. Barley was preparing to get snuggled up to the woman's legs for a good pat and Rye started bouncing, barking, and darting behind me.

Since then, we've been loading up on treats before leaving the house so that we don't run out before we get back to the house and can do unlimited reaction to distraction practice when we see other people and plows. We've been walking the same routes so that Rye isn't caught off guard by the changes as snow falls.

She's finally starting to settle in and she's was loving bounding through the snow on the unshoveled sidewalks. 


She was very upset that I wouldn't let her go down to the lake.

We've even had a little success with working on loose leash walking as long as there are plentiful rewards coming Rye's way.


We've also had some really lovely walks outside of the neighborhood where we don't have to worry about plows or cars along our walk. 



Every time we get back home, though, I take a little moment to be thankful for the fact that I made it through the walk in one piece.


And there's nothing better than snuggling up under the covers to get warmed back up after we get inside.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chewy.com: Not Just For Pets

When I turned 21, I went to Walmart and bought a set of 4 wine glasses for $4. Now, over a decade later, those are still my main wine glasses. I have lots of different glasses with winery logos from various tastings (I have a knack for moving to places surrounded by wineries!), but my only matching set is that cheap set from long ago. Recently, our friends at Chewy.com contacted me to see if I'd be interested in helping them get the word out that they now sell home goods by reviewing a product for humans! That's right--for once, our Chewy package was going to be all for me! There were so many great options to choose from: home decor like picture frames and pillows, absorbent rugs that would be perfect for when the dogs track in snow, and then I saw what I had to have: stemless wine glasses.

Everyone knows that the best things come in Chewy boxes.

The most difficult task was choosing the right design. Chewy.com has so many different designs to choose from. There were some with the word Love with a paw print instead of an O. There were cat designs. There were rescue designs. And then there were the breed specific designs--which won me over with their word play. I was really drawn to the dachshund design: even though I'm not a trekkie, the Live Long and Prosper glass made me laugh out loud. But I was afraid that my sister would try to steal them when she came to visit and I knew that Rye would never forgive me for not choosing the beagle design since beagles are sorely underrepresented in our home decor.

The glasses are made by Susquehanna Glass--a family owned, American company that's been in the glass business for over 100 years. They shipped inside of a box with cardboard dividers to keep the glasses from clinking against each other in mailing and each glass was individually wrapped and then the whole thing was placed inside the classic Chewy box and padded with that brown paper that Rye loves to destroy.

In addition to being packed perfectly, the glasses are even cuter than they were on the Chewy website. They come in a set of four glasses with a different beagle themed design on each glass. The beagle themed glasses have different pop culture references from music to movies. The designs are manually sand-etched, which the company says makes them perfect for every day use. By being sandblasted, they don't have any dyes or lead in the design--it's all just plain old glass.

The Beagles

Beaglejuice

Regal Beagle

I decided my inaugural drink from the glasses should be out of my favorite design: the Fly like a Beagle design. Since the Beagle is in aviator glasses, I assume this is a reference to Snoopy when he's the Flying Ace--but it's also a reference to the song "Fly Like an Eagle" and the Space Jam soundtrack was an integral part of my childhood, so this glass was really the selling point for me when I picked out which glasses to test out. The glasses are also designed to be perfect for any cold drink--not just wine--so I grabbed a Rye IPA out of the fridge and poured it in my glass.

And my favorite design: Fly Like a Beagle

With my dog's names, it's no secret that beer is my beverage of choice, so it was fun to see how the design popped against the nice red rye color of the drink. I'm also looking forward to seeing the designs against a nice red wine when I curl up in front of our electric fireplace in the library on a snowy day.

Rye thinks photos are more fun when the treats are for her.

These glasses are designed to hold 21 ounces of liquid--so that's almost 3 cups worth of liquid! I know anyone who's watching the final season of Scandal has wine glass envy every time Olivia Pope sits down with a glass of wine, so with these glasses, you can embrace your inner Olivia and pour most of the bottle into a single glass.

I was also impressed with the weight of the glasses. I love to browse at Crate & Barrel and have given their wine glasses as gifts on more than one occasion, but there are some designs where the stem or the actual cup is so thin that I feel like I'll break the glass just picking it up to take a drink. Barley's tail is exactly coffee table height and I have lost more than one wine glass to her tail, so I can't have those delicate glasses in my life. Between being stemless--and therefore more stable--and being pretty hefty, these glasses are going to take more than a quick brush of a tail to end up on the ground.

Another plus is that these glasses are advertised as dishwasher-safe. I'm a little wary of putting glasses with designs in the dishwasher, so I decided to just test that out with one glass--my least favorite of the four designs: Beaglejuice (hey, that movie was creepy). It's been through the dishwasher twice and still looks as perfect as it did when it arrived. I'll probably be hand washing the others, though, until I'm 100% convinced that they won't be hurt by the dishwasher over time.

Why would they have beagles and not border collies? We're much cuter.

These glasses are a delight. They're fun but also high quality. They hold a ton of liquid--so even if you're only drinking water, they are a great way to stay hydrated without having to refill your glass all the time. If you're tired of all of the packages that arrive at your house being for your pets, these glasses are the perfect solution (although be warned, your pets will not be happy when they find out there's a Chewy box with nothing for them inside!).


These also make the perfect gift for the dog lovers (or cat lovers--Soth was a fan of the cat designs, too) in your life. With Chewy's 2-day shipping, there's still plenty of time to get these glasses before the holidays--and if you don't want to disappoint your pets, you can throw in a couple bags of treats or a new holiday toy and qualify for free shipping. Then you'll know there's something for everyone under your tree this year.


Disclaimer: We were given one set of beagle themed stemless wine glasses from Chewy.com in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Naughty or Nice? Positive Training For Both Sides of the List

When I had a regular babysitting gig back in college, I had the kids I babysat convinced that I was Santa's elf and that I regularly sent reports back to the North Pole. That made babysitting a breeze throughout November and December. Unfortunately, that Christmas magic doesn't work on my pets.

Soth has pretty much been the perfect boy since his surgery. He's eating well. He's using his box consistently. He's snuggly and playful. He's definitely on the Nice list this year.


And even if he wasn't, Santa Paws delivered his present a few weeks early because there was no way we were toting it to his grandparents' house and back.



The girls, on the other hand, are walking a fine line between the Nice and Naughty list--one of them is working extra hard to solidify her position at the top of the Naughty list.

Rye has been wound up and on the go non-stop for weeks. 

She's spending extra time working out to make sure she can be super fast with her zoomies.

She's been into everything. One day, I came home for lunch and she stayed beside me for most of the meal hoping for a morsel of something, but somehow she still found a way to sneak upstairs and have a little fun with the toilet paper while I was eating. She's also got ninja-like speed and stealth and has jumped up under my elbow while I was putting syrup on a pancake and stolen a piece of bacon. She grabbed three slices of cheese right off the counter when I was adding crackers to my plate.


She's also spent a lot of time howling out the windows. During daylight hours, it's usually because there's a squirrel in the yard or in the trees. At night, though, I have no idea what's possessing her. She'll be snuggled up beside me while I read and the second I turn out the lights, she's off to the races going from window to window letting that beagle bugle sound.


Barley has been up to her fair share of naughtiness lately, too. She has been diving into dinner before I tell her she can eat. She's eaten cat food any chance she's gotten and she's climbed to get to a bag of treats on top of my dresser. 

Rumor has it that Santa Paws has picked out some fun new toys for these pups and I'd hate to have to tell Santa that he has to turn the sleigh back around. So, we've been focusing on training that will get them back on the Nice list.

Dedicated Training Time. A year ago, we were training hardcore. I was determined to get my girls to be able to co-exist. We were doing 2+ training sessions with both dogs, plus individual training sessions on self-control and obedience every single day. We've been slacking on setting aside time specifically for training with the exception of our agility class each week. We have our daily rituals like sitting to get the leash on and off, self-control at the front door before walks and at dinner, and reaction to distraction on walks. But we haven't spent much time doing extra training. The last couple weeks, I've been trying to do better at that. Training time doesn't have to be long--and probably shouldn't be since you don't want to break your dog's brain--but having 10 or 15 minutes a day just to train helps wear your dog out mentally and a tired dog is a good dog. And a good dog is on Santa's nice list.

I've started working with Rye on noseworks. She knew the basics from watching Barley. She knew that find it means that you start using your sniffer to find something--often treats--and that if boxes are out and your hear find it, you should be sniffing those boxes. But she didn't know what she was sniffing for. So, we started training with Birch and she's doing a great job. Usually, we use about half a stick of string cheese and then I swap her out for Barley and give Barley a chance to do a little training.

We also need to get our mats back out--when Soth was really having health problems, he peed on all of our mats, so we haven't had them out and haven't done any of our beloved mat work in ages. We have been doing self-control work, though, and making pictures and spelling words with the treats while the dogs wait patiently.

Adventure Time. We've also been trying to make the most of our few hours of daylight and going on adventures. We've spent time at the lake after work and we spent one of our weekend days at the arboretum. Both dogs have been more reactive than usual on walks--for a variety of reasons--and going on adventures for our walks gives us a break from the neighborhood distractions, gives the girls new smells to sniff, and gets them physically worn out as we wind our way along the trails. They are much more content to curl up while I grade after an adventure than they are after a walk in our neighborhood.


Management. Sometimes, naughty behavior can just be avoided with a little management. If I take the trash out more frequently, Barley doesn't get into it. If I have Rye in a down while I prepare meals and snacks for myself, she's less likely to jump up and steal my food. If Rye is howling out the spare bedroom window, I can shut the bedroom door so she can't watch out the window. 

Of course, there are still moments when management fails--as Barley made very clear last year.



I have faith, though, that with a couple more weeks of training, adventuring, and managing, both of my girls are going to find themselves solidly on the nice list. After all, they are the very best snugglers and have been excellent company as I've been grading papers during the last two weeks of the semester.


So don't write them off yet, Santa Paws! They're trying really hard to be good dogs.


This month, our theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is Naughty & Nice: Your Dog's Good Points and Bad Points and How You're Working to Improve Them. We welcome any positive training posts, though, and the hop is open all week, so please join us with your positive training posts and be sure to check out all of the great blogs linking up with us and our co-hosts Wag 'n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thankful For Fun & Food From Pet Treater

The girls are always excited when our mail carrier rings the bell and they see the colorful Pet Treater box on our front step.


Our November box didn't disappoint--as usual, it delivered fun and a whole lot of great snacks.


There were so many snacks in this month's box. We got two different packages of Loving Pets treats, including Puffsters Chips and Totally Grainless chicken sausage bites. There were the usual Emmy's treats, including a turkey that I'm saving for the girls to split on Thursday, a little package of Charlee Bear treats plus some Noah's Bark treats in three different flavors.


There was also a cute bandana that says "Got My Mind on My Turkey and My Turkey on My Mind"--I always appreciate a good 90s rap reference, so I chuckled a bit as I put it on Rye. 


Barley was most excited to try some Beer Paws treats with spent grains and peanut butter. We always get treats whenever we visit a brewery that sells one, so I knew that they'd like these treats.



Rye couldn't wait to play! There was a football-textured, softball shaped stuffed ball. She grabbed that as soon as I put the camera down and started running laps around the house and giving it a good shake any time she stopped. 


Barley snuggled up with the rabbit toy we got. If Barley decides to share this one with Rye, it will be great for tug because it doesn't have stuffing and there's a rope on one end. 


As always, Pet Treater included something for me--a canister of tea. I drink one type of tea: passion tea--but this tea had similar ingredients to the tea I keep on hand, so I thought I might like it and gave it a chance. It was better than most tea that I've tried, but I still couldn't finish a whole cup, so I'm going to send it home with my sister who actually drinks tea. The canister is cheerful and the tea bags were so pretty that I wish I liked this enough to drink it myself! We also got a couple packages of wet wipes for the pups--with muddy fall days, these are exactly what we need!

We're thankful that Pet Treater always includes something for all three of us--and it's always a fun adventure to see what's hidden inside that cheerful box!

Disclaimer: We were sent a Pet Treater box in exchange for our honest review.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

3 Weeks Post Cystotomy

It's hard to believe that three weeks have already passed since Soth had his bladder stone removed. There are some regular reminders that make it seem like it was just yesterday--like his shaved spot on his leg and his bald belly--but most of the time, we've settled back into normal life so seamlessly that it almost feels like it's never happened.

I keep thinking that his leg is weird and crooked and broken every time I look at him.

Soth's stitches came out 10 days after surgery and we were all very happy that he could be released to the rest of the house and be part of the family again. Rye was especially happy to have her partner in crime back.



Soth's continued to eat well throughout the whole experience and he has been using his litter box regularly. He's even been playing with his toys again.


This week, Rye had to go in for her rabies vaccination and parasite test. While we waited for the heart worm, Lyme, and other parasite-related disease test to finish, the vet mentioned that she'd gotten Soth's stone analysis results back from the lab.

The first thing she said was that in 29 years of practice she has never seen a cat with this type of stone. Most stones are struvite or oxalate stones. Soth has an ammonium urate stone, which is something that is usually seen in dalmatians and sometimes English bulldogs. I'd heard a little bit about these types of stones because my aunt has dalmatians and my best friend has a bulldog, but I didn't know much.

The vet sent me home with lots of paperwork and information about the type of stone that was found in Soth's bladder. According to the research our vet did, only 5% of stones submitted to the Minnesota Urolith Center at the University of Minnesota are ammonium urate stones. There's very little known about why they form.

This cat prides himself on being different from every other cat in the universe.

One reason they can form is because of liver disease, but we did a lot of blood work on Soth when we were trying to find out why he was vomiting and having anal prolapses and all of his liver levels were completely normal. For about $200, we can do a more complex liver test to determine if there's some underlying liver problem. It can also be the result of a shunt that keeps blood from filtering properly, which is what the case often is in dalmatians and bulldogs. Or, it can be a completely unknown reason.

While struvite and oxalate stones have special diets that help dissolve the stones, there aren't diets specially designed to dissolve ammonium urate stones. Even though there's not a special diet to dissolve these stones, a diet that helps keep the urine pH greater than 6.6 can help keep the stones from forming. To keep the urine at a higher pH level, Soth needs a diet of lower protein, lower purine foods. I didn't get my parents' chemical engineering genes, so I won't pretend to know exactly what a purine is, but according to my dictionary, it's "a colorless crystalline compound with basic properties, forming uric acid on oxidation." Some proteins, like organ meat and certain types of fish, have higher purine levels, so we're avoiding those types of diets--which includes his current prescription food. The lab recommends a prescription diet for cats with kidney disease since they are lower in protein and won't "overly acidify the urine."

After Rye's appointment, the vet sent us home with a sample of one of the kidney diets they keep in stock to see if Soth liked it and tolerated it. She also told me to try mixing in some water with his current wet food to help dilute his urine as well. He gobbled up the can of kidney food and although I was skeptical that he'd eat moistened dry food, he also emptied his bowl when I added 2 teaspoons of water to his dish. I'm hoping he continues to do that.

We'll be getting a few more cans from the vet as well as some new dry food and trying that out to see if Soth will eat it consistently and not go back to his regular vomiting schedule. In about two months, we're going to do a urinalysis to see what his urine pH level is. If it's below 6.6 even with the prescription diet, we'll try some medication to help get the levels to where they should be to keep the stones from forming.

We've also spent some time watching the final season of Longmire and looking for shots of our old apartment!

I've spent most of my free time since getting the information from the vet researching different prescription diets, purines, and ammonium urate stones. For now, we're going to try the diet we've sampled from the vet, work on continuing to increase Soth's water in take, and just see what the urinalysis says in a couple months. After we get those results, we'll decide if we need to take any further action.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Love Letter to My Puppy

My sweet potato Rye,

I can't believe it has been a year since I walked into the APL planning to get an 8-week-old coonhound puppy and saw you. It was love at first sight. I knew from the minute I saw you that you were mine.


They told me that you were the calmest, best behaved puppy and they didn't think that you'd really want to do agility. 


As soon as we got home, you proved you were anything but calm. 


I was afraid to love you, though. I didn't even announce that you were part of the family for a full 24-hours because I was afraid that things wouldn't work out and I'd have to return you to the shelter. It wasn't until our trainers emailed me back and said they'd help me introduce you to your sister that I told anyone other than my family and closest friends that you existed.


But my sweet little girl, you were so willing to work with me and you worked so hard to be accepted by Barley. You caught on to every single self-control lesson we did in no time. And then one day, Barley initiated play with you. It still brings tears to my eyes to look at those pictures and videos.


You are exactly the sister Barley needed. 


You are the most respectful puppy ever. You tolerate her impatience with grace and humor. You give her the space she needs when she needs it. You can read her even better than I can. 


You are also the very best sister to Soth. I don't even think that I asked how you were with cats at the shelter. I was just so sure that you were meant to be with me and you seemed unfazed by the cats in the kennels around yours. You fit in with Soth seamlessly.



You bring me so much joy, my sweet potato. 


You love life and know how to enjoy it to the fullest. 


You love agility like no dog I've ever seen before. There is nothing I enjoy more than training with you. You read me so well and I love watching you fly through courses. We are never more connected than we are doing agility.


When I first brought you home, you hated nature and were scared of everything, but you have blossomed so much in our first year together. I love watching you conquer every challenge that comes your way. 


There is not a day that you don't make me crazy, but there is also not a day that you don't leave me laughing. 


My little love, I can't imagine life without you in it. You turned our world upside down and then right side up again, and we repeat that cycle of chaos every day. I wouldn't want things any other way.


I love you more than songs can say, my girl. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings for us. Happy, happy adoption day!