Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Training: Lulu learns the down command

This is Lulu.

I made it myself. ;)

It is also one of the reasons Lulu started lessons last week with a trainer at PetCo.

It's not that Lulu is a bad dog. She just has some things that make her rough around the edges. She has to meet every dog she sees. She jumps on people to say hello. She sometimes tears into things when she's home alone.

So we are doing four private lessons to smooth out those edges. And it won't be easy.

Lesson One: Down.

My trainer says the goal is once she learns down, we'll add the word "settle." That way when she needs to calm down, I can get her to do so.

Now in the books I've read, you take the treat and bring it down, and the dog eventually follows by the nose. That never worked with Lulu.

Lulu will do anything for a treat. And Lulu is learning with a clicker too. But this wasn't easy.

Lulu needed to follow the treat. The trainer at least got her to understand down. She followed the treat through his legs.

It took all hour to get her to do this.  And she had to be prompted.

But now...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Caturday: Life with beagle from the cat's point of view

The servant feels guilty for all the time she spends with the beast, so she is permitting me to take to this machine and meow my mind.

I am Galadriel. Rubbish name for a cat. I was named that by my previous servant, who proved unfit, as he preferred the company of beasts. This current servant was adequate, until she too brought a beast into the house.

The servant says the beast's arrival was for my protection as well as hers. Bad men came into our home in the night and took our things. I cried and cried when the servant returned and she would not let me alone. And now every time I hear a man's voice I run and hide.

But is the security the beast provides worth the pains? It steals my food, and the feces from my toilet. It barks when it should be quiet, which is all the time.  And the servant now must include the beast's care in her daily routine, including feeding, and walking. That's less time to care for my grooming.

I'm beginning to think the time is right to move on. Though it's not easy.

This door is quite heavy. And the servant is rather large. She catches me when I try to run out.

I could sneak in her bag when she goes out for the weekend. But the trouble is, she takes the beast with her often. I can't get away.

I suppose I can stay for now. At least the bed is comfy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Six signs of food poisoning in pets, and preventing it too

Making sure our pets get good food is tough enough today. There are so many varieties, and there are so many reasons a dog might not want to eat the food you give them.

So when we start hearing about dogs getting sick and dying, and the only common denominator is what they eat, it shakes us to our core. Even worse, it's not like the pet can tell us what's wrong. We're left guessing.

When I saw a tweet about Beneful possibly being tainted, it was late at night. But after reading comment after horrifying comment posted on Consumer Affairs.com, I woke my mother up over the phone to make sure her dog was not eating it any longer.

Lulu stopped eating Beneful a full two months before I saw the website. Mom's dachshund started on Beneful, but was now on something else. And after talking with my brothers, their dog Max is off it now.

We're lucky. Our dogs apparently didn't get bad batches of food. And Purina will not be recalling the product any time soon.

With reports of similar trouble with other pet food and treats, it's up to the pet parent to know how their pet is doing, and if their pet's food is upsetting them.

But how do you know if your pet has food poisoning?

I asked Dr. Angela Chesanek, a veterinarian with SPCA of Central Florida. She said to look for these signs:
  1. Lethargy 
  2. Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  3. Fever
  4. Vomiting
  5. Decreased appetite
  6. Abdominal pain
These are all symptoms the dogs who got sick on Beneful showed. Of course, these could be symptoms for any number of illnesses. Dr. Chesanek suggests bringing a stool sample to help in the diagnosis when you can go to the vet.

One simple test you can make: take the food away. 
"Most of these diseases are self limiting (i.e. improve on their own with removal of the contaminated diet), but a veterinarian can provide supportive care to help the pet feel better faster (fluids, antibiotics, anti-diarrhea meds, etc)."
So now the question is: what should you feed your dog?

Dr. Chesanek says raw diets can cause bacterial contamination in pets too. In fact, it's much more common. And if you look at the recall list over on the Food and Drug Administration website, many dog foods have had to issue recalls, from Pedigree to Blue Buffalo.

Dr. Chesanek suggests pet owners look for foods that are trial approved by the Assocation of American Feed Control Officials. You should find the AAFCO statement on the nutrition label.

Chesanek also said that you should buy the right food for your pet's stage in life.

"I do not recommend foods labeled as ‘for all life stages’ or for both ‘growth and maintenance.' For example, a balanced puppy food should carry a label that reads: 'animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth and reproduction.'  An adult dog food should carry a label that reads: 'animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult maintenance'."

I have three dog food bags in my pantry: one is a Beneful bag, one is Innova and one is Nutro. The Nutro and Innova both had AAFCO labels, but I couldn't find one on the Beneful bag.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Smile for the Camera

It's from our recent trip to Sanford, which we wrote about last month.

This is one of those pics that I flip to when I'm having a glum day. She looks so happy, and it makes me smile.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Frankenweenie comes out next month -- Turn your pet into a monster!

Disney's "Frankenweenie" came out in theaters October 5, 2012. The Tim Burton movie is based off Burton's own short film.

To promote the movie, Disney's "Frankenweenie" website gave viewers the chance to "Frankenweenie-fy" their pets.

I admit I was a little taken back by the idea. Knowing the plot of the movie, the concept kind of bothers me. The movie is about a boy who loses his pet dog, then brings him back to life. However, I have to admit, this was fun.

Take away the background, add items like crazy eyes, horns, even wings, then choose a new background.

And, here is Lulustein!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

10 things I learned about blogging from the Central Florida Bloggers Conference

Stepping away from pet talk for a bit...

Saturday I attended my first bloggers conference. There was a lot of information to absorb, a lot of questions to consider about where I want my blog to go. I came home feeling like my head was going to explode (and this is hopefully just a precursor to Barkworld Expo!).

So here are 10 things I took away from the Central Florida Bloggers Conference in Orlando. I hope my fellow bloggers from all walks of life, whether they walk on two or four legs, learn something from this.
  1. Be everywhere. Get your name and your content out there in as many platforms as you can. That advice comes from the keynote speaker and Disney expert, Lou Mongello. Which leads to a question for me: is this blog my hobby, just something I do on the side, or a precursor to something bigger?
  2. Know your value. This is something I learned in the session on building media kits. If you want to network successfully, people need to know, and you need to know who you are, what you are doing, who you are reaching and how you can help others. It's the only way you'll grow. Otherwise you'll just reach an audience of readers who are just out there. Which brings me to the next point....
  3. Engage. I gotta talk more to my readers, and to my Facebook fans, and to my Twitter followers. More importantly, I need to get them to talk about themselves. This needs to be more than my stories and opinions. This can be a forum. To do that, though, I also need to reach out to others.
  4. Socialize. This is something I don't do enough of, as evidenced by my 12 Facebook followers. I asked my friends to join my Facebook page yesterday and only three of them did! Socializing and engaging outside of my circles are essential to building an audience.
  5. Think outside the box. And this goes to engaging and socializing. I came to BlogCon because I realized I couldn't just reach other pet bloggers, but now I need to reach out to more than bloggers in general. So who else might benefit from reading my blog? It's something I need to think about, but two words kept coming up yesterday: real estate.
    Time for a cute doggy intermission:
  6. People are watching. I've had a small group of people reading my blog since I started in March. I don't know who the majority of you are. I have only three email subscribers (though to be fair I don't think that gadget works right). I know who some of you are because you are either very dedicated, or you hopped over from a blog hop and you stop by often. But many people are reading this blog and I don't know who they are. So I need to be on my toes. I need to get better with catching grammar mistakes, smarter with my content, and come up with better ideas. And do more things.
  7. You can never have too many likes. Not too many people liking my Facebook or Twitter pages, but me liking too many. If nothing else, it's a way to reach out to people to create ideas, create content, create partnerships.
  8. Treat fans like friends. People aren't just readers. They are potential friends. I need to do a better job of engaging you guys. If for no other reason that if you are happy with me, you will share me and my blog with your friends, and we can build a bigger community.
  9. Write more. I don't write enough. If I write three to four posts a week, it's amazing. It's not enough. Not every post has to be an epic. Not everything I do has to be well-researched and documented. Sometimes it can be a picture of Lulu rolling in the grass. As long as it's good. And there needs to be more.
  10. Be positive. So up above I did lament a few things, and complained about my 12 Facebook fans and how no one seems to want to comment on my blog. That's all ok. I have a habit of wanting the results without thinking about the process. There's an upside to everything: I'm a blogger. Who'd a thunk it? I did this blog just to see if I could keep up with it, and I'm having a blast, and I'm meeting lots of interesting people. This is fun.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cats and Dogs living together: The Cold War inside my house

This is Galadriel.

I've had Galadriel since she was 3, when my brother and I adopted her from Orange County Animal Services. She was supposed to be his cat, but he was always more of a dog person, and she is not always very loveable.

But she can be very cute.

Galadriel, however, does not like dogs. I don't know if something happened when she was a kitten or what. She and my brother's dog never got along. If Chewie would walk by, Galadriel had the claws out ready to attack. But Chewie never put up with the cat. Lulu on the other hand...

That's Lulu in the back, afraid to walk past the cat, even for a treat.

I did do all the things you were supposed to do when introducing a cat to a dog. We kept them apart, then we slowly introduced them. And Lulu and Galadriel had known each other off an on for at least two years before Lulu became my dog. But the minute Lulu came into the house, Galadriel made sure to assert her dominance. 

I wish I could show it to you, because it was amazing. That cat, half Lulu's size (though maybe not weight), chasing Lulu from one end of the apartment to the other, until Lulu was crouched in a corner, quivering, and Galadriel just sat there, hissing at every move the dog made.

She hasn't done that lately. But to this day, Lulu doesn't try to cross her often. Except, of course, if I have food. Then all bets are off. Lulu knows she's not getting any, but she wants to make sure Galadriel doesn't get any either. With teeth bared and barking.

Not entirely sure what to do to make them at least tolerate each other more. Separating them with treats doesn't really work. And Lulu tries all sorts of ways to get a little of her own back at the cat -- like going into the litter box.

Cesar Millan is, sadly, silent about this from what I've seen. Most places only talk about how to introduce the pets, not what to do if they are already established. I did find an interesting story on Slate, very well written. But the writer's conclusion that Prozac is helpful leaves me feeling doomed.

I will take any tips people have at this point, so please share.Until then, these fleeting moments of peace between the two of them will have to do.