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"

Monday, April 30, 2007

What we live for . . .

True to tide . . . we headed to the beach this weekend. With a full moon pulling tides nice and low the beach was the perfect Labrador playground. The dogs had a blast!!

We met up with several friends and their children. The 5 kids ranged in age from 1 1/2 to 6 years old. The dogs played fetch with them all much to the delight of the littlest one, who giggled with delight as Shelby raced back to drop the ball at his feet.

Can I just tell you now, that I love my dogs!!! They were so good with the kids, and the squeals of "my turn!, my turn!" were sweet echoes in my ears as the kids clammered to be the next one to throw the ball for the dogs.

It was a fun day, with memories of crazy, out of control, adolescent puppies drifting further and further into the soon to be forgotten past.

Being a tide watcher I added an awesome new widget to my sidebar that keeps track of moon phases. I like how clean and simple the interface is. I hope you enjoy it, if you are a moon watcher, for what ever reason. Here's the link: Moon Phase Module.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Update: Pet Food Recall - May have you thinking vegetarian

In a news article posted today by "SFGate.com" one reporter points out a disturbing detail in the escalating recalls. In the article titled: "Ogden Pet-Food Maker Extends Recall" Debbie Hummel points out the following:

On Thursday, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced about 2,500 hogs from four farms in northern Utah would be euthanized because they may have eaten contaminated pet food scraps from ANI.

The decision to kill the animals came after the FDA decided any animal that might have consumed feed from the plant after April 1 should be euthanized as a precaution.

The nitrogen-rich chemical melamine is used to make resins and is a byproduct of several pesticides.

Melamine appears to have caused acute kidney failure in pets that died or were sickened after eating pet food contaminated with the chemical in recent months.
DEBBIE HUMMEL, (Associated Press Writer Friday, April 27, 2007)
It's scary when you think of the number of animal products you may serve your own family in a given week, and that now the feed these animal are being fed is being called into question. I hope it makes you stop and do a double take!!

Personally I'm glad I'm vegetarian.

More here: "Hogs given tainted feed may be in human food supply"

Update: Just when you thought it might be safe . . . The pet food recall gets worse!

So many of you may be thinking, who's doing something to fix this problem? Where's the FDA when it's obivious something needs to be done? Maybe for some of you the cute picture below is all you need to feel better again. Personally I'm pretty under-whelmed!!

Just in case you were wondering, here's what the FDA is doing:

To keep up on the latest pet food recalls, here are some good links:
The PetsitUSA.com Blog

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dog "Tails" . . . It's more than just a wag

Who knew . . .

In a recent New York Times article, "If You Want to Know, if Spot Loves You So, It’s in His Tail" (Published: April 24, 2007) Sandra Blakeslee explains the current science behind understanding dog tail wags.

Did you know . . . ?

When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.
The article is fascinating in that it goes on to explain that this right brain vs. left brain distinction in various circumstances also exists in many species.

Research has shown that in most animals, including birds, fish and frogs, the left brain specializes in behaviors involving what the scientists call approach and energy enrichment. In humans, that means the left brain is associated with positive feelings, like love, a sense of attachment, a feeling of safety and calm. It is also associated with physiological markers, like a slow heart rate.

At a fundamental level, the right brain specializes in behaviors involving withdrawal and energy expenditure. In humans, these behaviors, like fleeing, are associated with feelings like fear and depression. Physiological signals include a rapid heart rate and the shutdown of the digestive system.

One of the scienfitic anatomical explanations is that . . .

The asymmetry may also arise from how major nerves in the body connect up to the brain, said Arthur D. Craig, a neuroanatomist at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Nerves that carry information from the skin, heart, liver, lungs and other internal organs are inherently asymmetrical, he said. Thus information from the body that prompts an animal to slow down, eat, relax and restore itself is biased toward the left brain. Information from the body that tells an animal to run, fight, breathe faster and look out for danger is biased toward the right brain.

Go check out the whole article, it's a facinating read.

Who knew . . . ?
you do now!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Summer + Labrador's + Water = No Problem!!

With summer just around the corner there are several things to keep in mind as you expand your dog recreation options.

Water dog health tip #1: Have a tried and true ear cleaning solution to administer as soon as your done playing in the water.

Our holistic vet recommended the following:
• small clear glass 16oz bottle of vodka
boric acid dry crystals

Slowly spoon in the boric acid, cap and shake bottle between measures to allow boric acid crystals to dissolve, let the solution rest and settle, when a small amount remains down at the bottom of the bottle and does not dissolve then stop, you now have a concentrated (or saturated) solution.

Transfer this to a clear narrow-tip bottle for administering in the dog ears. You can also use a large dropper bottle or a medium syringe.

When administering be sure to hold your dog securely in order to gently massage the ear canal while the solution is in place. I hold my dogs head with a towel in one hand. With the ear with solution turned up towards me I cap it with the towel while I rub the ear canal. Then I turn their head myself to allow the excess to drain out into the towel before I let them shake their head. If I'm lucky I can do both ears before they squirm away and then I don't have to try and coax them back to me. Not an easy task after pouring liquid into their ears. Have lots of cookies handy to say "I'm sorry!, we're still friends, right?"

Here's a great link from Wood Haven Labs website that confirms the soundness of this home remedy: Cleaning Ears and Treating Ear Infections

For more information about Boric Acid click on the picture above.


Personally summer for us means more time at the lake. As we are fortunate enough to have things warm up a bit sooner here on the west coast our dogs have already had some fun afternoons swimming. Nutmeg has an absolute passion for the water. It's truly a joy to see her having so much fun. If her brother can out maneuver her on land than she is queen and water is her domain. I'll be adding a movie taken last week to this post soon so check back later this week.

Fun Labrador Artwork

I hope you have noticed the new link in my right side bar. I stumbled onto Angi's delightful art on Cafepress. Here's a sample:

She promises more Labrador art soon. I'm looking forward to checking back often.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My other amateur passion, in a previous life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Now that's one smart dog!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pet Food Recall List Summary

Below I've summarized the list of brands affected. Just click the image to view the list in detail. If you want more specifics on the exact products and manufacturing codes for the items affected just click the link below the image to download the pdf.

Thanks Karen for putting this link out there for others: http://srv.ezinedirector.net/?n=1666824&s=41304140

This list is chock full of ironies. With names like, "loving meals", "pet essentials", "presidents choice", "cadillac", "award", "science diet", "best choice" ... . Is there anyone else out there that isn't just a little bit furious with the bull shit marketing behind names like these? Obviously there was no thought given to compromising quality when it came to the bottom line and making a profit.

Personally I'm happy I feed my dogs a brand that has the founders name in it. Now there's some motivation for maintaining the integrity and reputation of your product.

Update: 4/17/07:
Take a deep breath before you click this link: "Organic Pet Food Brand Joins the Recall List"

Obiviously Dick Van Patten didn't care that his name was going to be dragged into the wake of "3000 dead and counting"!

For a list of pet foods
--> NOT <--
on the recall list go to:
The Pet Food List

Update: 4/27/07
Hold onto your hats folks, this will blow you away. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse it did get worse!!

Check out this link to American Nutrition's website listing the recall of such brands as:
Blue Buffalo, Harmony, Natural Balance, Kirkland Signature Premium, Canine Caviar, Mulligan.

My girlfriend feeds her dog Canine Caviar. She has paid a premium to do it as it has been sold as a top quality food and she has to have it shipped to her. And she has to pay shipping unlike Flint River that does not charge shipping on top of the price listed for their food.

Once again, (and I hope I never have to take back my words) I am so very very glad I feed my dogs Flint River Ranch dog food!!!! They are a family owned company that manufacture thier own food in a manufacturing plant in Redlands, CA.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thanks to my labs . . . I'm regaining my balance

So the cobwebs were getting thick and I had no more excuses so I figured that this blog was due for some spring updates as well. I got two bad colds, my niece came out for spring break, I was involved in helping out with a church event, and of course these are all excuses.

Back in March Pappy's Dog Blog shared a post titled, "Rough day at the dog park", in which he shares the following:

That takes me back to the time that Pappy was injured in the dog park. I still tell myself that it was a play accident rather than an act of aggression. But the truth is I really don't know what happened. Even with my dog being the victim, I was pretty desperate to rationalize the whole situation as something that wasn't going to implicate the safety of the dog park. Because if the dog park isn't safe, what am I doing taking my dog there?

Of course this rationalization is less dangerous than the one that an erratically aggressive dog can be trusted at a dog park, no matter how much someone loves him. [...] When you think about it, it's a pretty thin fabric of faith and good sense that holds the dog park situation together.
Well, he was braver and more optimistic than I have been. It wasn't more than a few days after reading this post that a female pit bull that we had spent the last 8 months interacting with at our local park went after Nutmeg. The growling and snarling freaked me out. One minute Nutmeg was panting at my side after retrieving a ball and the next she was snarling back at this dog to protect her own face and neck.

I can make all kinds of excuses for this pit bull; she was: - a rescue that for whatever reason was sound sensitive, - a dog generally more on the nervous side; she was a dog: in the hands of an owner that was not at all capable of understanding her needs, - an owner who used more negative reinforcement than was ideal, - a man who had come to the park drunk with his dog and to say the least just didn't quite get it. Than come to find out this was not her first incident, it was her forth. For me, I realized after that day that is was the last time I'd trust that dog with my dogs.

I realized that because I had begun to trust my dogs more I had eased up my vigilance in watching them as closely. This incident made it very clear to me was that even if I could trust my dogs I could not always trust the dogs around me, not mention the care or carelessness of their owners.

Yes, I love Labradors, but I also have been honest that they are not the perfect dog for everyone. I never wanted to fall back on stereo types when it came to dogs, but this incident has taught me something. There's a reason the school yard mean kid is called a "bully". It's the same reason why a whole category of dogs are called "bully" breed dogs. Does that mean that I think all these dogs a "bad", absolutely not. But these breeds of dogs in the wrong hands are a very dangerous combination. That being said any and all dogs in the wrong hands can be an accident waiting to happen.

Being a responsible dog owner is a challenge when you live in a suburban community. I can appreciate why Suzanne Clothier lives in upstate New York where she can happily say, "I own everything I can see from my house." There are days I'd love to be able to say the same. I'm afraid that here in California it will not likely ever happen for us. I suppose one can always dream though.

More to come soon, I promise . . .