My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Almost human" ? I think not!!

A dog is not "almost human" and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such. ~John Holmes
I found this quote recently at "Quote Garden" and had to share it. There have been times I've looked at the stupidity of the dog owners I've met since owning my dogs, not to mention others we've all had the pleasure of running across, and knew I was not the only one who could appreciate this quote. And here's why I know I'm right.
A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level.
~Author Unknown

Monday, March 19, 2007

Celebrating "100": For the Love of "my" Labradors

I've always wondered why the 100th episode of any TV series is such a big deal, especially when it's been a show I've liked. "Of course, they'll be here next season," I'd think. Then came the late 90's and early 2000's when reality TV came on the seen and sitcoms that I thought were great were canned just as I was really enjoying them. That's when it hit me why there's all the "hoopla" and celebration when it comes to the "100th" episode.

Getting to my "100th"post came on me almost unawares. I was doing some label editing recently when I realized, looking at my blogger dashboard, that "100" was not too far off. So, here's to eveyone who has become a regular here on my humble blog.
With the recent dog food recall making headlines across the nation I was doing some reflection today and the realization hit me that if I had never done the Google search "What's really in dog food", I would still be feeding my Labradors Eukanuba. The thought sends chills down my spine. It's been a long time now that I have despised commercial dog food. You only need look as far and the ingredients label to see why. If you don't know what all those words mean you probably should not be feeding them to your dog. I told our first vet (trust me she's no longer our vet and hasn't been for a long time) that I refused to feed my Labradors dog food that contained corn, rice, or wheat, as the primary sources of protein or calories. Then I read today in the Reuters news article (Pet deaths expected to rise despite recall: FDA), that the tainted item was wheat gluten (in my opinion an inferior protein source). I can remember clearly now, how my first vet scoffed at me and looked at me like I'd gone "left of center". This same doctor insisted that (one of the recalled labels) Eukanuba's "puppy formula" was better suited for my dogs.

My dogs switched to Flint River Ranch all stage dog food the next week when the food I'd ordered arrived, and I haven't regretted it for a second. (I covered some of these details in my previous post "What to feed a Labrador Retriver.") For those of you wondering, here's the ingredients label for the "Fish-n-Chips" formula I feed my dogs. When you compare this list to what the "Animal Advocate" has to say, you'll see why I recommend this dog food for my Labradors.

If there's one thing that convinced me to look for the best dog food possible it was the realization that the five largest processed food manufactures were also responsible for the majority of the dog food labels out there.

Three of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational companies: NestlĂ© (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One), Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature’s Recipe), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food). Other leading companies include Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams), Mars (Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham’s), and Nutro. From a business standpoint, multinational companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products, and pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients.
What they can't sell as addictive crap to humans they sell as toxic leftovers to our beloved pets. I won't apologize for being angry. This just hits the wrong button for me. The irony is infuriating, and the FDA in my opinion has turned too blind an eye in the pet food industries direction.
Most people don't know that the pet food industry is largely self-regulated. The few laws that do exist are poorly enforced, leaving consumers with little recourse. In addition to modest federal standards, some states have enacted tougher rules, but even these are generally inadequate. For example, in California, no resources are allotted for enforcement of the state's pet food regulations, which are based on guidelines that are more than 30 years old. The sad fact is that concerns about the quality of pet food fall low on the list of priorities of government officials, even though good nutrition is one of the most important factors in determining whether an animal will lead a long and healthy life.
Maybe now consumers will vote with their pocket book. That always proves to be most successful in the long run. The multi-nationals can no longer hide their dirty little secret. They don't give a rats ass about your pet or their health and wellness despite the cute, charming, emotionally drenched commercials, that they spend millions on.
I am thrilled that the absolute unique visitors to my site is growing. I hope that what I've shared here has made others look twice at what they are feeding their pets.

2,601 Absolute Unique Visitors . . .
and counting!!

So, here's to 100 more posts that continue to make the best information readily accessible for anyone truly looking for answers.

Remember, "never stop learning" . . .
it might just save the life of someone you love!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

End of week "2 dog household" summary

So, we've begun to enjoy life with our two dogs on a completely new level. Specifically one of the things we are able to do now is leave their crate doors open at night. In the morning they wait for us to get up and release them to head out to the kitchen for their morning potty check and breakfast. The first night I actually forgot to close Shelby's crate I was quite proud of my boy. Then came the realization that we now would be enjoying the protection and security of two amazing watchdogs. God protect anyone entering our house at an un-godly hour of the night, as both dogs are no longer secured in their crates.

Then, we were working late yesterday evening on some end of week projects. It was around 11:30 pm when both dogs get up, stretch, do a wake up "shake off" and slowly saunter outside. We could hear them step on their pee rocks. Next thing we see, they're headed down the hall to their crates. Without a single prompt from us our two "fur children" have put themselves to bed. We've begun a new stage in the wonderful life with well trained dogs. They have settled into our routine and have begun to anchor to our normal patterns. Even though we had a bit more to do before we followed them, they had turned in for the night.

Today we made it to the beach and it was a beautiful day!! The dogs loved the extra fun and exercise at their favorite place to play. When I got home I have a message in my in-box with a link to the following YouTube video. Go check it out! This guy really has a sense of humor. I hope you enjoy!!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My responce to "Teri's Tail Wag"

Thanks to Teri and her comment on my last post: Wasn't it just yesterday that they were puppies?, here's my response.


I'm so happy for you and your new family members. You are doing much better from the start than I did and I hope you avoid some of the struggles that I ran into. I don't think you need to keep your puppies apart for days on end.

Here are my thoughts but keep in mind that it may be good to keep looking for advice. I would check with the books from the awesome trainers I've recommended here on my blog for starters. First and foremost go with what you know, and what feels right for you. They're your dogs and it has to be right for you and them. Dogs have as diverse temperaments as children and so need different approaches in their training and raising as well. This blog is about my experience with my two unique dogs.

Here are my thoughts on some of the key times you've mentioned:

  • Crate time - different crates are a must. Whether in the same room or different room is up to your logistics and your gut feeling. Dogs are pack animals and I think that it is positive and important to nurture this natural characteristic dogs have, as long as we are the ones leading the pack by setting necessary limits and building their trust and confidence. We had to put a visual separator between the two crates to tone down the whining. They could however, get audible reassurance that the other was close. If your puppies are doing well at night in separate rooms then stick with what is working for you.
  • Feeding time - We still do, and have always done this together, but I would suggest different areas in the same room with at least different food dishes. It may be easier for them to share a water dish but this is up to you. It sounds like you have this logistics worked out already.
  • Play & Training time - They should have both dedicated play time and training time with you. This will give them both disciplined and relaxed time with you and they will learn to distinguish the difference in your body language and tone of voice. But I would definitely allow them to play together with you and all members of the family. They need this because as I've mentioned already it's hard wired into their instincts to be "family" (pack) oriented. I personally feel it's also important for their emotional and psychological development. Towards the middle and end of adolescence (9 - 13 months) I would also encourage you to bring them together for training time. That way they learn that they need to pay attention and obey not just play when they are both with you. You got two dogs like I did so that you could enjoy both their company. You need them to be able to be disciplined as well as relaxed when they are together.
  • Obedience class - Logistically it was not possible for us to take our dogs to different "puppy" and "beginning/intermediate" obedience classes. We did run into some problems as adolescence started but we had not done some of the important things you are doing already so we had the cards stacked against us. If you can take them to different classes they will learn to socialize with other dogs independent of each other. This will be very good especially if un-beknownst to you they would have the tendency to double team on a new dog and overwhelm that dog. Fear is never a good emotional state for any dog not to mention any dog encounter.
These are just my thoughts and my experience is limited to my two dogs. I hope this offers you some food for thought. Keep me posted on how things go.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wasn't it just yesterday that they were puppies?

When I was a kid, I remember getting up in the morning and feeling as though the day would last forever – hours and hours in which to live a lifetime, yet still be home for tea. These days, or so it seems, all I need to do is blink and the day is gone.
© David J. Nightingale
used with permission
This quote comes from one of my favorite online photographer's blog Chromasia. It so captures how I've been feeling lately. Time seems to take on a life of it's own when you're young. On the good days it stretches out before you in the beautiful suspension of a long afternoon summer sun. That time of day when the sun seems to hover in the sky with an eternal soft warm glow. That's how the days have become again for me with our two wonderful dogs. Some of that "joy in fleeting moment" has become more real to me lately. With Spring showing her warm face this week and teasing us with promises of the summer days to come, I can hardly wait for those lovely long summer afternoons that will be here soon.

Life with my two dogs has settled into a comfortable pattern. This in no way means that we do not still have our challenges that surface, giving me fodder for this blog. I just have been relishing recently the place we have arrived at where they know enough of the basic rules that I can take them just about anywhere with me and there presence is in no way a burden or worry.

Just the other week when my sister invited me to spend the day with her and a friend I took the dogs along. The day was overcast and cool and I knew they'd be fine in the Pilot, as they treat it as an extra large crate. We spent the several hours enjoying a craft fair and then went to lunch. With a couple "potty breaks" and two nice fetch sessions when I arrived at my sisters and again before I headed home, the dogs were great.

There are many things that got us to this point, many of which I have shared throughout this blog. Although it seemed to stretch on for ever in the harder parts of puppy adolescence the reward now is "oh so very sweet". If you've found us in the mist of your own struggles, hang in there! Stay focused the reward is worth it, trust me!!

The dogs and their favorite extra-large mobile crate.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A good lead from: Top 50 "Just Labradors" website.

I just discovered a new Labrador specific blog, and this one is worth reading from day one. It will take you a while but I think you'll enjoy your stay. This brave blogger blogs with the companionship of 4, Yes, 4 Labradors. So check out "Lab Tails" and fall in love with four beautiful Labradors.

Shelby, the Robins, and "his birds" . . .

About three weeks ago, before the recent rain storms here in California, we had winged visitors. It was about 10 am, I was at my desk and the dogs were sleeping behind me, when I heard a chorus of chirps. I turned around to see no less than a dozen Robins swirling between the branches of our Japanese Maple and our red berry bush. In no less then 5 minutes they had all the red berries devoured and had moved on. It was a special moment for me. Growing up in rural northern California farmland there were always tons of Robins, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, Finches, and Sparrows. The Robins were always my favorite. Now, once again living in northern California, my greatest joy was seeing the first Robin that appeared on our lawn about two weeks after we moved into our new home. I've continued to see an occasional one here and there. The other day, however, was the first time I've seen so many at one time. It got me thinking that I should really set up a bird feeder. What better way to coax more birds to hang out around here. Yeah, I know, dugh!!, but with the dogs, especially Shelby being easily excited by the sight of birds I haven't wanted to add fuel to the fire.

Well last week I set up the bird feeder and it has been a big hit. The other day my husband counted close to 20 birds out by the feeder. No Robins, but still a beautiful array of different Sparrows and Finches and the ever present Morning Doves. The dogs favorite sun spot in the house looks out to where the bird feeder sits in the branches of the Japanese Maple. At first Shelby would get excited and when let outside would charge out to the yard. I've been consistent about telling him, "No, leave them alone", and he's beginning to get it. Than the other day a squirrel discovered the feeder. Shelby was the one to let me know that we had a thief. He let out a low growl as if to say, "Hey, that foods not for you". Once I had sent the squirrel scampering and moved the feeder out of his reach the birds returned. Shelby settled back down in his favorite spot to watch "his birds" and all was at peace again. Go figure!?, putting up the feeder has done him more good than harm and I get to enjoy the beautiful birds.

Despite their furious fluttering I was able to snap this shot out my office window of atleast one.