Rescuing Dottie

Four years ago this August, I sent my sweet Scooter across the Rainbow Bridge; it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

It took me a long time to decide I wanted another dog, but last year I started yearning for another, so Beloved bowed to the inevitable and put out feelers on Facebook for another dachshund or dachshund mix.

We were very specific about what we wanted – an adult dog that was house-trained, past the puppy “chewing” stage, and that would at least be tolerant of our new grandson (more on that later this week).  Most of the dogs we found that were up for adoption were snatched up before we could do much more than inquire about them, so in July when we found a solid black female dachshund mix for adoption in Birmingham, Alabama I didn’t ask about her because I figured she’d be gone just as quickly as the others.

Lo and behold, nearly a month later, the person who’d located her for us asked, again, if we were interested.  I contacted the foster there who, in retrospect, seemed a little too eager to adopt Dottie out.  (I discovered later that while the foster was disingenuous, if not quite dishonest, about some of the dog’s less-than-desirable qualities, solid black dogs are notoriously difficult to find homes for, and I’m still not sure why.)  We began the paperwork to adopt her, paid the appropriate fees, and found ourselves – quickly, under questionable circumstances that I won’t go into here – driving ten hours to Birmingham to get her.

Maybe not the smartest move in the world, adopting a dog sight unseen, but we were sad about her plight – we’d been told she was a puppy mill mom, which should have been suspicious right off the bat since she was only two years old and not a purebred.  (When I finally received her paperwork from the shelter from which she’d been rescued, she was listed as a stray – she was too healthy and too friendly to have been abused, and my theory is she was just the result of some very irresponsible owners who never had her spayed or registered and let her run loose, and she was picked up by the local dog catcher.)  We’d also been told she’d been scheduled to be euthanized while at the shelter and rescued by the foster, and that much is true.

We both fell in love with her the minute we saw her, and although she growled at me initially, the feeling was mutual as far as Beloved was concerned and she’s been his abject slave ever since, albeit an occasionally recalcitrant one, at least in the beginning.

We’d been told she was energetic, but that is something of an understatement – This. Dog. Never. Stops.  And she was definitely NOT past the puppy chewing phase, as my kitchen cupboards and dinette set will attest to; she is, in fact, what’s known as an “aggressive chewer” – there are chew toys, antlers and the sad remains of squeaky toys all over the house (but she’s no longer eating the furniture). She’s the first dog I’ve ever kenneled, because she’s the first dog I ever had to kennel; in truth, it turned out to be a wise decision, because she’s so curious and exuberant, if left to her own devices she will get into all SORTS of trouble (one day I’ll have to post the photos of the living room after she yarn-bombed it with $60 worth of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky).

Dottie also loves to run – boy, does she love to run – and is an accomplished escape artist; our yard simply cannot contain her (although that is getting better).  She also has a talent, as I mentioned earlier, for getting into trouble; in the first three months we had her, she was attacked by ground wasps – she ran through their nest in the back yard – and grazed by a car (see the “escape artist” comment above), fracturing her tailbone.  In the beginning, we questioned our sanity, bringing what we now affectionately refer to as “The Hell Hound” into our home.

But if Beloved and I share any two qualities, it’s our stubbornness and sense of responsibility – we’d adopted her and we were going to keep her and make it work, by golly.  We began by enrolling her in two obedience courses at the local Pet Smart (where she frequently had her trainer in stitches) and she did well.  We have worked tirelessly with her and she’s come such a long way in the last year – she’s still energetic and exuberant, but she’s no longer destructive and when she does escape the yard, we rarely have to hunt her down; she’s close by and comes when we call (and, boy howdy, wasn’t THAT an accomplishment).  In fact, these days we can take her into the front yard without her leash and she stays on our property, even if there are children out – she loves, loves, loves to play and be petted.

At any rate, that’s the story of how we rescued Dottie.  We love her to pieces, and although Beloved will deny that – it’s some kind of guy thing, I guess – she adores him beyond all measure.  And she’s pretty fond of me, too.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the future.

Scooter’s Diet, And An Update

ScooterThis week’s Spin Cycle is about pets.  If you’ve been reading here any time at all, you know I have an 11-year-old dachshund mix named Scooter.  He’s been a frequent subject here, but most recently because when we changed our diet, we changed his, too.  I wrote about it last year, and thought I’d rerun it again, with a brief update.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Update:  Scooter is still on a raw food diet, and is still happy and thriving.  I’ve begun adding small amounts of pulverized egg shells and sea salt to his food once a week, since he no longer gets any edible bone.

However, recently he became quite ill as the result of a rawhide chew stick.  I’d had people tell me that dogs shouldn’t have them, but I’d been giving them to Scooter occasionally for years without anything bad happening to him.  I wish I’d listened, because it was truly awful; we thought we were going to lose the little guy.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can give him to satisfy his need to chew?  Bone is out of the question, since it gives him diarrhea.

Scooter’s Raw Food Diet

I was going to put off this post until next week and instead do a huge political rant, but this isn’t a political blog, as Beloved has repeatedly pointed out.  So let’s just suffice to say that yes, I’ve read the entire thing, I understand the context perfectly well, thank you very much, and it’s still insulting as shit.  There must be something very comforting in the idea that if you’re not responsible for your successes, you must not be responsible for your failures, and that someone will come along and bail you out – but everyone will get a trophy anyway.  Just remember that when someone comes along and takes away everything you thought was yours because “you didn’t build that,” you gave them permission to do so.

I’m sure the Chinese – who are funding the massive, crushing debt we’re passing on to future generations and expecting someone else to take care of (basically anyone with more money than us) – will appreciate it.**

Moving forward.

About a year ago, I wrote about Scooter – our little beagle/dachshund mix – and the autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands that he developed after years of eating commercial dog food (Kibble and Bits Beefy Bits, to be exact).  The ingredients are horrible:

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

You have no idea the guilt I feel because I let my sweet little dog eat that garbage for so many years.

When Scooter began having his problems, they were accompanied by terrible inflammation and infections.  I was pretty sure that much of this could be mitigated by diet, but when I spoke to the vet about it, he said I should keep him on commercial dog food, because if I fed him anything else he would run the risk of nutritional deficiencies.  In fact, his only solution to the problem was to put Scooter on steroids for the inflammation and give him antibiotics for the infections.  So we did, and the minute his course of steroids ended the inflammation returned, and eventually the infection did as well.  This happened three time before the vet decided that he was just going to have to be on steroids permanently – he could even end up on low levels of the antibiotic for the rest of his life, as well.

In the meantime, Scooter was miserable.  The inflammation was somewhat better, but he was still constantly licking his backside and dragging it across the carpet.  Because of the steroids, he was constantly, ravenously hungry and even though I wasn’t feeding him any more than usual, he was still gaining weight – at his heaviest, he was 24 pounds.  That may not seem like a lot, but for a dog that’s only supposed to weigh 16 or 17 pounds, that’s a lot of weight gain, especially in a very short period of time.  He also lost all of his spunk; he’s always been a happy, active dog – even at 10 years old, he’s more than happy to play fetch, or zoom around the house if he can get you to chase him, or run around the yard or take a walk.  But no longer; all he wanted to do was eat and lay on the sofa.  It was breaking my heart.

Now, as soon as he became ill and the vet told us to keep him on commercial food (and tried to sell us a brand that cost almost as much per week as we spent on groceries for the three of us), I began  to make Scooter’s food myself.  After doing a little research on what was in most home-prepared pet foods, he went on a mixture of cooked beef, rice and vegetables, mostly peas, carrots and green beans.  He loved it at first – he’d always preferred “people food” over kibble – but when those initial courses of steroids were over, he began to lose his appetite and often refused it, which worried me a great deal – Scooter NEVER left food in his bowl.  By the time the vet said he needed to be on steroids permanently, I decided it was time to get drastic – so I put him on a raw food diet.

When I told the vet this, he said that was unsafe; it was simply not a “balanced diet” for a dog.  But the more I thought about it, the sillier that statement seemed and when I began researching raw food diets for dogs, it became even sillier.  So Scooter began eating raw meat – mostly beef and pork, with some chicken thrown in every now and then and liver or other organ meats about once a week.  (We do give him bones from time to time, but even before he became ill bones messed with his digestive system – when we give him one, we have to confine him to areas of the house that are tiled because there will be a mess.)

Scooter loved the raw food diet – he ate it enthusiastically, and it wasn’t long until we began to see some improvements.  He continued to gain weight, because that’s just the nature of the Prednisone beast, but he regained some of his spunk and began acting more like the dog we all love so much.  And after much deliberation, we decided that when it was time to get the steroid prescription refilled, we’d wait a bit and see what happened.

What happened was astounding…or maybe not.  The inflammation not only didn’t return, it became better.  Not entirely better – it may never go fully into remission – but remarkably better.  The lingering infection, which the vet said might not ever entirely go away, even with long term antibiotic use, cleared up almost immediately.  He immediately began to lose weight and is now back down to 17 pounds.  More importantly, he is his old self again – active and happy and feeling pretty good for a 10-year-old dog with what amounts to nagging case of hemorrhoids.

Now, we’re not going to fire the vet – we’ll continue to take Scooter for his immunizations and we’ll take him in case of another serious illness or accident.  But if you think I’m going to listen to another blessed thing that man says about diet for my dog…well, you’re as crazy as you’d be if you think I’d listen to my doctor about my diet.

**I have a lot more to say about the subject, and will be glad to take the discussion respectfully into the comments section if you want.  However, I may not be able to get back to you immediately; we have a busy day in front of us – it’s Jolly’s birthday and we’re spending much of the afternoon/evening with her, and I will be busy at work this morning so I can do that.  But before you begin making any assumptions about why I feel the way I do, let me say right now that I am NOT a Republican and can’t stand Mitt Romney.  And I don’t particularly care that Ayn Rand collected Social Security; I’m not an Objectivist either.

Please Don’t Feed The Dinosaurs…Or The Kids

Beloved woke me up this morning by mumbling, “Stop feeding Filet Mignon to the dinosaur!  It’s expensive!”

I’d like to say I have no idea what kind of a dream the man was having, but I’m afraid it was all too clear.  It amused me, though, so I related the incident to The Young One while I made his breakfast, and Beloved was stumbling, bleary-eyed, toward the coffee pot (I told him not to bother watching the end of the game last night, and I was right – Texas choked).

“You laugh,” he said (because The Young One was), “but you know good and damn well that if we had a pet dinosaur, your mother would be feeding him grass-fed beef.”

I really do take exception to that – the dog gets CAFO beef, mixed with grass-fed or pastured organ meats.  A dinosaur would be any different?

But it also explains my dilemma about Halloween this year.  I love the holiday, and always have, although my enjoyment of it has diminished somewhat since moving to Ohio (not by choice, believe me).  However, I cannot in good conscience give what I’ve come to view as poison, and I don’t want to be like the neighborhood dentist – every neighborhood has one, and he always hands out toothbrushes.  So, we’ve reluctantly decided not to participate this year, which is sad, but what alternatives do we have?

Because you know if I’ve been instructed not to feed the dinosaur Filet Mignon, it’s certainly not an option for trick-or-treaters.

For more Halloweenie spins, head on over to Sprite’s Keeper.  Don’t bother with the candy, but take her some virgin coconut oil – she’ll love it.

A Pain In The Butt

Yesterday, I re-ran a post from April 2010 where I wrote about taking my dog, Scooter (who is a dachshund/beagle mix), to the vet.  I made a humorous story out of it, which was fine since there were many humorous elements to it.  But the reason for the visit wasn’t humorous, and it isn’t today – mostly because what was wrong with Scooter is still wrong with him.  In fact, he will suffer from it for the rest of his life.

Scooter has an autoimmune disease centered in his anal glands.  This basically means that his own immune system is attacking his body.  Because of this, he has had several infections and been on several rounds of corticosteroids.  Prednisone, to be exact.  And while it breaks my heart to see my sweet little dog suffering, either from the disease or the medication we must give him to treat the disease (long term corticosteroid use is no joke), I have to face the fact that I am responsible for his illness.

You see, I feed my family, which includes the dog.  And until about 6 months ago, Scooter ate dry dog food – Kibbles ‘N’ Bits Beefy Bits to be exact.

I can’t say he enjoyed it.  We never had to portion it – I’d pour about a cup in his bowl in the morning and it would be gone by the next morning, but it took him a full 24 hours to eat that small amount.  He ate it very grudgingly and only when he was very hungry.   In the meantime, he’d follow anyone and everyone every time they walked into the kitchen, hoping for a handout of “people food.”  (Yes, he often got it.)

The fact that he did not particularly care for his dog food never really struck me as odd – I mean, if you lived in my house and got a taste of the food that came out of my kitchen, would you want to eat dry dog kibble?  However, once we eliminated processed food from our diet, it occurred to me to think about the processed food I was feeding my four-legged baby.  So, I read the ingredients and was immediately appalled.

Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, beef, water sufficient for processing, animal digest, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, caramel color, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, titanium dioxide, calcium sulfate, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, BHA (used as a preservative), potassium sorbate, dl methionine.

How on earth anyone could possibly pass that off as nutritious for any living thing, even a dog, is beyond me.

Unlike cats, dogs are not obligate carnivores; their digestive tracts can handle a certain amount of vegetable matter.  However, if people are not adapted to refined grains, soy, corn syrup, preservatives such as BHA and artificial food colorings (and we’re NOT), how could a dog be?  Especially when you consider that commercial dog food didn’t even exist until the late 1860s.  Our pets have not had 11,000 years to “adapt” to a diet heavy in grains.  And just what the heck is “animal digest??”  It sounds disgusting, and this is coming from a woman who is planning on cooking a cow’s tongue this weekend.

At any rate, there is growing evidence that autoimmune disorders and diseases are linked to the consumption of grains, particularly wheat, and I see no reason why this would be less true for a dog than a human being.  Couple large amounts of corn and wheat with equally large amounts amounts of soy (which I can assure you are GMO), preservatives, inferior sources of protein, chemicals and artificial colors and you literally have a recipe for a sick pet.

The minute we read the ingredients of the food we were feeding Scooter, we took him off of it and I began preparing his food myself.  At first, it was a mixture of cooked ground beef, white rice (which is simply pure starch) and vegetables, with offal of some sort mixed in occasionally.   This seemed to help a great deal for awhile, but he recently had a bad flare-up which has him back on antibiotics and Prednisone, so I’ve removed the rice from his diet and am feeding him mostly raw ground beef (CAFO beef, but it has got to be better for him than corn syrup and “wheat middlings”), eggs, whatever meat we are having for dinner, and raw liver or other offal when I’m preparing it for my human family.

I guess the point of this post is that while you’re thinking about what you feed your family, please don’t forget about those who can’t speak up for themselves.  And I’ll keep you updated on how Scooter does on his new diet.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday