Vet Visit

I love my vet.  She owns a tiny little practice with no bells or whistles, but she and her staff are phenomenal.  They are extremely pit bull friendly and adore Inara.  Her prices are ridiculously cheap (Inara’s spay was $110 out the door, and an office visit is only $23) and her hours are fantastic, with lots of evening and weekend times.  They actually have a picture of Inara and her brother (Atlas, RIP) hanging at the front desk.  It’s been there for 3 years.  They also have Inara’s Christmas card up there as well.

So you can imagine my surprise last month when I accompany a friend and her three dogs (2 pits, 1 pit/rott) to the vet to help with the dog wrangling.  There was a new vet tech there who was having a lot of trouble holding Echo, the pit/rott.  The Doc had to keep correcting her on how to hold Echo, where to put her arms, etc, and I finally ended up grabbing on Echo’s back end to help her.  Fine, whatever, everybody has to learn.  But here comes the good part.  As my friend was paying, this vet tech was all excited and saying, “I can’t wait to go to class tomorrow and tell everybody how I pinned down a vicious pit bull all by myself!  It was like wrestling a tiger!”  Um, what?

So when I took Inara to the vet this evening I told them that chick was not allowed anywhere near Inara, and shockingly enough, they told me she was no longer working there.  Gee, what an absolute shocker that is.  She seemed so qualified.  *envision me rolling my eyes in a big way as I say that*  They were appalled when I told them what she had said.  

Regardless, my vet is awesome.  Even though Inara was acting like a fruitcake today and squirming all over, the Doc still talked nicely to her and joked around as she managed to give her a rabies shot and draw blood for her annual heartworm test.  I love my vet.

And on a side note, Inara is heartworm free, regular worm free (poop test done today, too!) and down to 46 lbs.  This time last year she was 59 (I let her gain too much winter weight.  Oops.)  She looks fabulous and is healthy.  Life is good.  

 

Spoiled?  Naaah.
Spoiled? Naaah.
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The Well-Dressed Dog

Let me begin this by saying that I am not one to dress my dog for the sheer point of dressing my dog.  Inara wears a coat and possibly booties when the weather/ground conditions outside warrant it.  I do not subject her to t-shirts in the summer to be fashionable.  She doesn’t like it, I don’t want to torture her.  It kind of creeps me out when people spend more money on their dog’s wardrobe than their own.  Or when they have matching outfits with their dog.  Or if the dog can’t leave the house without a dress or something on.  Just not my style.  That being said, I wanted to take you through Inara’s winter wardrobe.  Red is my favorite color, and since Inara is white, red looks smashing against her coat.

So we have to begin this ensemble with the most critical part of her “going outside” attire – her collar with tags.  As Inara has the strength of a Mack truck, I get her collars custom-made from Collarmania.  Lisa caters to those of us with bully breeds or other ridiculously strong dogs that would snap a little 1/2″ collar with a plastic snap in about 2 milliseconds.  Her work is outstanding and if you can think of it, she can design it. Inara has 5 Collarmania collars, all 1 1/2″ thick: a no-buckle slide collar, 2 leather buckle collars, a martingale and a plain nylon buckle collar.  Excellent quality, highly recommend her work.

Next is the leash.  Again, this needs to be a well-made piece of equipment to keep Inara where she belongs.  I prefer a 6′ leather leash in black. Simple and classic, but most importantly, strong.  

Inara is currently being worked on a Halti while we work through her dog-reactivity issues.  Originally the only Halti I could find in stores was black, so I had to use that for a while.  Everybody always thought she was a boy though, and quite frankly, I wasn’t happy with black on her face.  So a fantastic person sent me a red Halti that she no longer used (thanks, Erin!!!).  Whew – I could finally relax as Inara could continue with her red theme.

Next up is the coat.  It gets a tit bit nipply *giggle* here in NE Ohio and Inara has no body fat and a short coat.  Another fantastic person (I know lots of them!) sent Inara a beautiful red quilted coat, lined with black fleece (thanks Diana!!!).  It looks fabulous on her and, well, it’s red!

Finally are the booties.  Mock me if you will, but the ice here seems to freeze not flat, but in sharp little ridges that quickly cause Inara to limp.  So I ordered her some fleece booties that keep her feet warm and dry even when playing in the snow.  These are actual sled dog booties so they even stay on in deeper snow.  And they were cheap, always a plus.

So there we have it – red collar, Halti, coat and booties with a black leash.  She does get compliments when we go out, but most importantly she can stay warm.

 

Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill affect with it!
Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill effect with it!

It’s my turn!!!

Mom told me that I could write tonight’s blog!  Actually, she’s writing it as I dictate as I don’t type very well.  My footsies tend to mush down several keys at once, and I already stepped on Mom’s laptop and broke off the Caps Lock key.  Who needs that key anyway though, right???

So I deliberated long and hard about what to talk about for my very first blog.  I thought I would talk about my favorite toys, in case that maybe helps some other pit bulls (or other dogs, I s’pose) out there.  I don’t really have an all-time favorite as my mood varies (do I want to destroy a stuffie, annoy mom with a squeaker, or just chew on something?), so here’s a run-down of the classics.  Mom is also going to put in the website so you can see what it looks like:

1.  Bad Cuz/Other Cuz – I’m sure the good ones are, well, good, but I only have the bad ones and the Other Cuz.  I have 2 currently, only one of which still squeaks.  Mom hates these with a passion and always threatens to shoot them when I pick it up and just start squeaking it compulsively.  It’s super-loud and obnoxious!  It’s AWESOME!!!  I know some dogs gnaw off the horns and legs, but I haven’t done that.  These are really sturdy.  (Note from Mom: you can pop the squeaker out with a screwdriver if it gets to be too much to bear!)

2.  Kong Ball – I am a destroyer of weak balls (did that sound wrong?), so the Kong Ball is great for me.  It bounces really well, but it’s not hollow so even if I gnaw on it a bit it doesn’t mush up.  

3.  Racquet balls – These may actually be my all-time favorites.  When I was learning flyball, I ran much better if there was a racquet ball in the box instead of a tennis ball.  Mom couldn’t figure out how I knew, but I did.  I destroy these really quickly though (after a few tosses) so these are a special treat for when I’ve been really good.  Mom says the only problem is they get all slimy and gross when playing fetch, but that’s part of why I like them.  

4.  Rope bone – These are so simple, yet classic.  My faves are about 18″ long – long enough for mom to play tug with me, but short enough that I can fling it side to side wildly and thump myself in the ribs.  Mom’s shocked I haven’t broken anything yet.  These get frayed after a few months, but they’re cheap to replace.

5.  Nylabone Wishbone – When I just feel like chewing on something, this is my favorite.  I like the Wishbone because it’s got three good tips to chew on as opposed to just two.  These are fantastic chewables!  Super tough.

6.  Deer Antler – Mom got me one of these and was disappointed because it was expensive and I didn’t chew it for a long time.  But recently I’ve been going through a big phase where I will gnaw on these for a long time.  They’re all natural!

These are probably my favorites that have withstood the test of time (and my teeth!).  Hopefully if your doggie mom and dads are in need of ideas this will help them.  Thanks for reading!

 

Me looking all model-ish
Me looking all model-ish

Let’s talk food

I am a food snob, at least when it comes to Inara.  From day one of getting her, she was fed quality food.  And then I switched her to raw for a while.  “Raw what?” you may be asking.  Raw meat and bones.  Sounds gross, but the benefits of feeding this natural diet are phenomenal.  Click here for an excellent overview of how to feed raw.  Unfortunately that became too cost-prohibitive, so I switched back to kibble.

Not long after that all those pet food recalls began happening.  Fortunately I was feeding high-end food (Merrick) and none of their foods were recalled.  It’s such a travesty that it takes beloved family pets dying to make people aware of what they are feeding, what is actually in those crap foods that are so cheap to buy.  Cheap now, yes, but in the long run?  Possibly obesity, possibly higher vet bills, possibly cancer, possibly early death.  I know, I know, your family always fed Alpo to the family dog and he lived a ripe old life.  Good chance that was sheer luck.  

It’s critical that you learn how to read the ingredients label on your dog’s food.  If, like me, that is way over your head, I highly recommend this site:  Dog Food Analysis.  It rates foods on a 0-6 star basis.  Inara is currently eating Wellness Core – a 6 star food.  It’s expensive, I won’t lie – $55 for a bag.  But because she eats such a small amount (1.5 cups/day) a bag lasts me about 6 weeks.  That’s about 70 cents a day.  

The higher-quality food you feed, the less you have to feed because it’s not packed with fillers.  A side benefit of eating less, is pooping less.  One of my girlfriends feeds Ol Roy to her dogs (J, you know who you are!), and holy hell let me tell you about how much they poop.  It takes two hands to pick it up.  Ga-ross!  I can pick up almost 3 piles of Inara’s poops in one hand.  

I also feed a couple supplements just to aid in Inara’s long-term health.  She gets 1000mg of salmon oil with breakfast, and a multi-vitamin in the evening that has glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM (sulfur).  All of those supplements aid in joint, skin and coat health.  I get them from GNC – so much cheaper than buying stuff made specifically for dogs!  

All I ask is that you really take a look at what you are feeding your dog.  As I said above, it may be more expensive up front to buy good food, but it’s cheaper in the long run.  

 

Glossy coat, great tuck - she's healthy!
Glossy coat, great tuck - she's healthy!

Pet Health Insurance

Watching Inara play today – racing up and down the stairs, slamming into walls, skidding across the floors – I had the thought of, “Thank god I have health insurance for her.”  This thought pops into my head frequently, generally several times throughout the day.  

I got insurance for Inara when she was a puppy, maybe about 3 months old.  I got her at 8 weeks of age, and I could tell from day one that she would be an absolute train wreck.  She feels no pain.  She actually dented the drywall at my old house when she was about 4 months old.  With her head.  Gave her quite a bump that lasted for a long time, but it didn’t slow her down any.  

I chose Embrace Pet Insurance (you can find a link to them on the right side of my blog).  They seemed the most personalized and had the most reasonable price tag for the coverage.  They do not cover basic routine care, but I can afford that.  I wanted something that would cover expensive accidents and surgeries.  And this does.  I was able to choose the level of coverage that I wanted, as well as add on the cancer rider in case, god forbid, she ever gets cancer.  I was also able to choose the deductible that I wanted.  Embrace gives discounts if your dog is micro-chipped, which Inara is, so that was nice.  I also appreciate that every time I call there, not once have I ever gotten a recording.  At all.  A real person actually answers the phone!  And that person doesn’t pawn me off on anybody else – they answer my question.  Amazing.

Fortunately (miraculously!) I have never had to use the insurance.  I have been blessed with a remarkably low-maintenance (health-wise, at least!) dog.  I know so many people whose pit bulls have horrible allergies, skin problems, ACL issues, etc.  Inara *frantically knocking on wood* has only once had to go to the vet for a non-routine problem, and she only needed some antibiotics for a few days to clear up her fever from that.  

Even though I’ve never had to utilize her insurance, the peace of mind it gives me is wonderful.  Too many people have to give up their dogs, or make do with less effective remedies, because they can’t afford surgery.  I’ll never have to say, “put her down because I can’t afford to save her.”  

Cost of monthly pet insurance: $30

Peace of mind that gives me?: Priceless.

 

Her butt is covered by Embrace!
Her butt is covered by Embrace!

Future Topics

Just wanted to make a list of things I’m planning on discussing here in the future.  Please leave in the comments any suggestions of things you guys want to talk about!

  • Nutrition
  • Dog sports
  • Breeding
  • Puppy mills
  • Toy reviews
  • Trainer reviews
  • Why the H$U$ and PeTA are so bad
  • Dog aggression/reactivity

Hopefully you guys throw some suggestions out there as well, and we can get some good discussions going!

 

Inara playing with her beloved 99 cent ball
Inara playing with her beloved 99 cent ball