Friday, July 18, 2014

The Lily-Monster & Why I Enjoy Pet Sitting

Every so often Niles and I have the pleasure of pet sitting for a friend. I love these opportunities because it lets Nailah interact with another dog, something that has become pretty infrequent since moving to Miami. 

Even though Niles was highly socialized growing up I still believe a dog needs to interact with other pups as often as possible. I feel like they can lose touch with their social skills they pick up if they're locked away from the outside world for too long. I have tried taking her to a few dog parks here in the city but sadly we haven't had good experiences with them. So when our friends asked if we'd pet sit their 2 year old German Shepherd mix Lily, I was thrilled. 

Lily is the 2 year old German Shepherd Mix we got to
pet sit during the Fourth of July weekend.

Lily is a sweet girl and also extremely playful. I will admit that since she is young and full of energy, I was slightly concerned on how Niles and her would get on. Nailah is a pretty dominant dog, so she doesn't like other pups jumping all over her and being pushy. Despite my concern I knew it'd be good for Niles.

When Lily arrived there was a little scuffle but they were quick to work it out. Nailah, being the grumpier and older dog, asserted herself and Lily being the sweet and younger pup let her have her space.

After a little scuffle, Nailah and Lily figured out their pecking
order. After that the two got along great. Note: This is them
playing, not fighting!

After they worked things out the fun started. Lily enjoyed playing with all of Nailah's dog toys and it didn't take her long to discover that most of the goodies were tucked inside of the toy box. Once she made that discovery she wasted no time snagging the ones she wanted, bringing them over to Niles. 

Pet sitting dogs is a great way for Nailah to socialize with other
pups. It also helps her get a lot of energy out!

It was actually pretty fun to watch them interact, and I was amazed that Niles was able to keep up with Lily. When Niles did tire out, Lily would bring over a toy and poke her with it, hoping to encourage her to get back to playing. Most of the time it'd work but when Niles had really had it she would just sit there until Lily got the picture... moving on to one of the humans. 

Nailah and Lily played the whole weekend! I'm really surprised
Niles was able to keep up with the much younger dog for
so long.

Pet sitting Lily not only provided Niles with a good workout and some good dog socialization time, but it also gave her the chance to not be an only dog. She had to get used to my attention being divided between her and Lily and sometimes that was a bit tough for her to deal with. After all, it's no secret that Nailah is a spoiled dog. Having another dog in the house is a good way for her to deal with not being the center of attention. 

Having another dog in the house also forces Niles to share me
and my folks which is great. It can be difficult for her to adjust to
not being the only dog but helps her work on her patience.

The weekend flew by fast and before we knew it Lily was off to her home. It was wonderful having her as a house guest and I hope to pet sit her in the future. I'm sure Niles will be happy to welcome her into the pack again too.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Dog's First Fishing Adventure in the Florida Keys

My father and I love fishing, and in the past we have shared this passion with our dog. Harper (Nailah's brother that has since passed on) used to go fishing with us down to the Florida Keys. He'd spend his time watching us on the shore line, patiently waiting with my mom under a larger umbrella as we toiled away. 

Since I moved away to start college, and got Niles when I was up in Central Florida, Nailah never had the chance to go fishing with us. Since moving back to Miami we haven't done too much fishing either, but since last weekend was the 4th we decided to head down to the Keys and take Niles along. 

Since we had a long weekend we decided to take a little
fishing trip down to the Florida Keys. We used to take our other

dog fishing with us so we decided to take Niles along for the ride.

Since it's so hot and muggy in Miami (the temperature can easily soar from 80 degrees to 90+ in the span of a few hours) we knew we'd have to work to keep Niles cool. Luckily I saw a Facebook post where someone came up with the ingenious idea of using a kiddie pool filled with bags of ice as a way of keeping their dog cool. I decided that this, along with bringing lots of cool drinking water and a big umbrella, would be the perfect way to keep Nailah at a comfortable temperature. 

Even though we had all these items with us we also decided we'd start our fishing at 8 am and leave before 1 pm, ensuring that it didn't get horribly hot. 

With our kiddie pool, bags of ice, a couple of gallons of freshwater, and our other supplies we were off to the Keys! Nailah loves traveling in the car so she had a great time looking out the window as I drove us to our destination. Since we left early (it was around 5:45 am when we got on the road) it was a fun and relaxed drive. 

Since it's summer and because we live in Florida we had to prepare 
Niles for our little fishing trip. We got hold of a kiddie pool, 
filled it with ice and water and let my doggy have at it.

When we arrived at our favorite fishing spot we set up Nailah's little pool (it was already inflated since it fit in the trunk) and got all our gear settled. I made sure to encourage Nailah to get into her pool, tempting her to put her paws in the water. She isn't much for getting wet but I knew she'd climb in if she got hot enough, seeing how she's done so in the past at the dog park we used to visit.

Niles watching us while we fished. She stayed with grandma
next to her kiddie pool and under her umbrella while we toiled away.

After making sure Niles was set my dad and I started fishing, leaving my mom to watch over her. The weather forecast said there was 30% chance of afternoon showers so we weren't worried about rain, though as we kept on fishing we did notice it was getting pretty overcast... 40 minutes later it started raining. 

The squall hit us so quickly that we didn't have much time to get 
into the car with all our stuff. We all got soaked, including Niles.

This was no leisurely shower either, it poured. I had to run back to the car, drive it up to our site and rescue Niles and my parents. We all got soaked in the process and we just sat in the car gawking at the storm. Since it was so early in the day we decided to wait the squall out from the safety of our car. Thankfully the rain did let up after 25 minutes or so and we decided to get back to it. Sadly we didn't catch anything edible, just a couple of barracudas, so after an hour we decided to call it quits. 

We didn't have much luck fishing. We only managed to catch 
a couple of barracudas.

On the way home it started to pour again. There was thunder and lightning, strong winds, all sorts of wonderful things. Thankfully Niles didn't mind the horrible mess that was going on outside the car and she fell asleep shortly after our departure. After winding our way back up north, and avoiding a few accidents on the way, we finally made it home. After unloading everything we all hit the showers and passed out.

Squalls, terrible traffic, and not a single edible fish. Niles
first fishing trip wasn't very successful though it was memorable.

Even though our first fishing trip with Niles wasn't successful we still had a good time. We plan on taking her back to the Keys in the future but will probably get there even earlier and try to stake out a better spot (one closer to the parking lot). We'll also not be so trusting of the weather forecast. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fireworks & Dogs - The End to a Long Fourth of July Weekend

I got Nailah a special headband to help her celebrate the
Fourth of July in style! I think it looks like a little
derby hat for dogs.

Another Fourth of July has come and gone, and Niles is certainly glad to see it go. Dogs aren't known for being fond of loud fireworks going off and Nailah is no exception, they drive her nuts. 

Every time a firecracker goes off she bolts towards the sound, barking all the way. Naturally it's the worst on the actual fourth, but I've noticed people have started setting them off before and after Independence day. This means we have to be more careful about letting her out for potty breaks (something I usually let her do off leash since it's a plot of grass right outside my door). We've also been taking her for walks earlier than usual, not waiting until the sun sets. 

Niles isn't a fan of fireworks. She gets really worked
up when they start going off, making her bark and run around
like crazy. Poor puppy isn't really a fan of Independence Day.

Despite all our precautions we still get caught off guard every so often. Since I always let Niles out before I go to bed (usually around 11 pm) there's an increased chance of us getting spooked by a rouge firework. I of course leash her for these late night potty trips and we try to make it as quick as possible, but sometimes that isn't enough.

Last night as she went out to tinkle we got surprised by a rather loud (and pretty close!) firework. Nailah was in mid squat,  she pees like a lady, and when it happened she jumped up and started barking her head off. Poor thing tried to finish up when another one went off, so her pee session involved her hopping while peeing as she barked at the fireworks. 

My Red, White, and Blue puppy had a pretty good scare
the other night thanks to some fireworks. Even though she's
an All American dog she still gets spooked on the
Fourth of July.

Since it's Monday, and 3 days past the Fourth of July, I'm hoping we won't have to deal with any more random explosions in the sky. However, we are going to continue leashing her for her late night potty breaks for another week or so just in case.

If people are still shooting off fireworks in your area, and if your dog doesn't care for them like Niles, feel free to check out our video. It's got some tips on how to help your pet keep calm when the sky sounds like it's exploding. 


Monday, June 30, 2014

Not Letting Joint Pain Keep a Good Dog Down - Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews Review

Niles just turned 9 years old last month, and her age is beginning to show. Even though she's in great shape Nailah is starting to have some arthritis issues. There are mornings where she'll wake up stiff and sometimes she'll limp a bit if we overdo it on the exercise. 

Since it's hard to keep a herding dog down I've been giving her joint supplements. She's been on these supplements for a a few years now but I figured it was time to try something new to see if it'd be a better fit. So after Marvelous Products reached out to us after BlogPaws we decided to try out one of their products: Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews.

Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews contain 500 mgs of Glucosamine and 400 mgs of Chondroitin. These chews also have other ingredients that can help keep a dog's joints healthy like:
Boswellia Seratta Extract, a natural anti-inflammatory
Methylsulfonylmethane, which helps in the building of cartilage and joints
Fish Oil, which can help minimize inflammation in the joints

After reading the ingredients that were in these chews, along with learning that Osteo-Pet products are made in the U.S.A, I felt it was time to let Niles give them a taste test!

Nailah knows that almost all the packages we receive are
for her, so she's usually pretty curious about them. This box
was no exception. My silly dog was eager to see what
Marvelous Products had sent us.

Niles of course knew she was going to get to try something new since about 95% of the packages that arrive at our house are for her. After opening the box we got from Marvelous Products she was ready to see what yummy treat lay in store for her this time.

Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews contain 500 mg of
Glucosamine and 400 mg of Chondroitin along with other
healthful ingredients that promote dog joint health.

I was excited about the sturdy packaging these dog joint
supplements came in. Niles on the other hands just wanted
to taste test them!

After examining the container I discovered that these Glucosamine Soft Chews are wheat, gluten, fragrance, and artificial coloring free, all things I don't want to be in my dog's daily supplement. I also noticed that the box the chews came in doubled as a cute little storage container, something that I'll totally reuse after the chews are gone.

Since Nailah can only wait patiently for so long, I decided it was high time to move on... and examine the actual chews! 

These Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews are a pretty
decent size and smell like smoked meat. They're also plenty
soft, making them easy to break up for smaller dogs.

As you can see from the photos, the Osteo-Pet Glucosamine Soft Chews are a pretty good size. Since Nailah weighs 42 lbs she'll be getting two of these chews a day, making this 200 count box last me 100 days (or a little under 3 months and a half). The chews have a smokey scent to them and they were definitely soft. It was easy to break them up with my fingers, which would come in handy if you were feeding them to a small dog. 

Nailah was happy when I finally let her test these joint
supplements that Marvelous Products sent us. As you can see
she was very eager to eat them!

With all of the physical, smell-able, and feel-able out of the way it was time for the taste-able! 

And on that front there were no complaints, my silly little Australian Shepherd was ready to chow down on these chews as soon as I'd opened the package. I'm glad I can give her two of these joint supplements a day since Niles inhaled them in a moment before trying to guilt the next one out of me! 

Since Nailah needs to get 2 of these Osteo-Pet joint supplements
a day I'll be giving them in place of her morning and bedtime
snacks. Since she was eager for more soft chews I'm
sure she won't mind her other treats being swapped out
for them.

Niles has only been on these dog supplements for a week so I can't give a final verdict on these chews just yet. However, I am able to say that I love the fact that they're made in the U.S., have a bunch of healthful ingredients that can help with her joint issues, and are apparently very tasty. I also love the fact that she can get two in a day since I can substitute them for treats. 

So if you find yourself in the market for some dog joint supplements I suggest checking out these Osteo-Pet® Joint Care Supplements for Dogs.

These dog joint supplements by Osteo-Pet
 earn Nailah's lick of approval for taste!
This post is sponsored by Marvelous Products. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Osteo-Pet® Joint Care Supplements for Dogs, but The Adventures of Puppy and Cat only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Marvelous Products is not responsible for the content of this article. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mango Pina Colada Dog Treats

Nailah carefully eyeing her freshly made Mango Pina Colada
dog treats.

My herding dog is creeping hard in this photo, she's
trying to work her herding dog stare to get me
to give her the dog treat!

Since summer has officially begun (for us South Floridians it's been going on for a few months now...) I figured it was high time I make Nailah some tropical dog treats! Seeing how we've got mango's and pineapple's up the wazoo at the moment I decided to make her some Mango Pina Colada biscuits. These yummy snacks are pretty simple to make, are relatively healthy (the only sugar in there is from the fruit!), and are Nailah approved!

If you feel like baking up some yummy dog treats for your pup make sure to check out our video!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

#UniteToFight - How Canine Cancer Stole My First Dog

Today the Morris Animal Foundation is having their virtual walk to help fight pet cancer. Since I lost Harper, my first dog, to canine cancer 3 years ago I thought it'd be fitting to share our story today. 

~~~~~~~

I still remember the day I got Harper. I was 15 years old and didn't know about backyard breeders so that's where I got him from. He was the last of his litter, the runt, and completely the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted an out going light golden female and he was a skittish dark gold (reddish really) boy. On our ride home I remember him sitting on my lap looking outside the car window, it was such a beautiful moment... until he threw up all over my jeans. We had to pull over to get the puppy vomit off me but I didn't care, he was my dog. 

The gas station we stopped at to clean off Harper's
puppy vomit was torn down a few years ago to make
way for something else. Every time I drive by the lot I still
remember that summer's day.

I had all these grand ideas about how I was going to go about raising Harper (whose name my brother and I came up with one summer afternoon while playing video games. One of the characters was an Archer and we figured Harper sounded nice.).  He was going to be my agility, obedience, everything dog. He was going to be a champion and would be perfectly behaved. I'd take him to dog parks and we'd have an amazing time wherever we went. 

It's nice to have big dreams, but reality has a funny way of getting in the way of those dreams sometimes. Harper was 3 months old when I got him and it was obvious he'd never been socialized. He wasn't extremely skittish but he was a bit of a pansy. One day my parents were setting up a new fence in our backyard and my mom decided to let Harper hang out with them. She tied his leash around her patio chair and sat directing my father from it. They'd been out there for a while when my dad asked for a hand. My mom got up without thinking and Harper followed suit. When he reached the end of the leash the chair fell over and well, you can only imagine what happened next. He ran and the chair followed, my poor puppy went insane with fear. Finally the chair caught on the fence and my parents were able to free the terrified dog, he was never the same after that. 

Harper next to one of the offending chairs that traumatized
him. My poor scaredy dog.

If there was a storm, he'd cower in fear. Fireworks? He'd shake like a leaf. Someone came over to visit? He'd urinate and slink away. It was bad. I didn't have as much knowledge on dogs back then so I tried everything I could but my efforts provided no results. Harper was a fearful dog. My dreams of having him be my champion dog went out the window. 

Even though Harper couldn't be all the things I wanted him to be he was still my best friend. He'd hang out with me when I played video games, would let me use him as a giant fluffy pillow while I read, and was the sweetest boy you could ask for. He was our family dog. 

Harper wasn't the bravest dog but he was a great house pet.
He just wanted to be loved and play, he was
definitely a retriever!

When time came for me to go to college I had to leave him behind. I was going to live in the dorms so there was no way I could bring him with me. My mom became his primary caretaker but he was still my dog. 

After my first year I decided to move into an apartment with some friends, this was my chance to bring Harper up with me. I debated it for a while but finally realized two things: 

1. Harper wouldn't be happy in the new environment since he didn't handle change well 
2. My mom would be sad without him

Harper loved the water, what
golden retriever doesn't?

My mom had developed a special relationship with Harper since she didn't have her kids around to mother anymore. She showered him with love and would relish giving him his dinner, grooming him, making him toys, and being with him. Another realization I had was that Harper wasn't the type of dog that would fit my lifestyle. I loved having people over, going to events, and being active. Those were things that Harper wouldn't enjoy. So after talking with my mom we decided it'd be best for me to leave my Golden Retriever in her permanent care and that I'd get my own dog, that's how I came to get Nailah. 

Nailah and Harper were great friends. He let her boss
him around and she loved him for it. They are both great
dogs in their own special way.

Nailah and Harper were the best of friends. He'd let her boss him around and she would literally drag him by the collar (No, seriously. He'd just flop on his side and she'd drag him across the house. No one was hurt and it was extremely funny to watch). Whenever we'd visit they had a great time together. 

Even though Harper and Nailah were very
different dogs they got along great.

As time passed Harper started getting a bit slower. He was actually in decent shape (he was always overweight since my mom showed her love via food), but you could tell he was getting old. He got his "ghost face", the graying hairs on his face made a sort of mask, when he was almost 8 years old and since he was overweight he started having some arthritis. Despite all this Harper was a healthy boy. 

Harper was a fearful dog but he still got to enjoy life. He was
still pretty healthy and energetic when he was almost 9.

In March my mom started telling me that Harper wasn't eating as much as he had before. I suggested switching foods and trying some canned to see if that'd open up his appetite. The switch actually did work but after a while he went back to eating half his meals. Since she'd just taken him for a full wellness exam in January we didn't suspect anything major, I thought it might just be him getting older. 

Harper yo-yo'd with his meals for a few more months. Since I wasn't around to see him I didn't worry too much about it, besides, my parents didn't think he looked that bad. 

Harper playing with one of my mom's homemade dog toys.
He'd sit at her feet for hours while she sewed the toys up.

On May 16th I drove down to visit my family since my brother was flying in, he'd been given a last minute vacation and he decided to spend it with us. When I opened the door and saw Harper I was floored. He was not the same dog I'd left in December. He had lost a lot of weight and he seemed a bit unbalanced. He greeted me happily at the door, tail wagging, but I knew he was extremely sick. I threw Nailah into the house and grabbed him and off to the Vet we went. 

I yelled at my parents the whole way there but they still couldn't see what I saw. Sometimes if you're too close to the problem, and dealing with a hectic lifestyle, it can be hard to see a gradual change. When we got to the clinic the Vet took blood and quickly did his work. I had to go and pick up my brother from the airport so I left Harper with my parents at the clinic. 

My brother was astonished when I told him Harper's situation and we decided to drive straight to the clinic. When we go there we all received the bad news together. Harper's blood work had led the Vet to take an X-Ray, in it he saw a black mass on his lung. My father, mother, brother, and I all stared at the mass together before my mom and I started crying. 

After regaining my composure I asked him if there anything we could do. This man had been Harper's Vet since the day I bought him, he'd done his neutering, and administered all his shots and treatments. He knew our family well. He said that if Harper reacted well to a full day's worth of IV's that perhaps he could have a chance, but that it was a very slim chance. After discussing the situation we decided to give it a shot, we'd bring him back the next day to have him on the IV line. 

I doubted Harper would pull through, even though he did eat some wet food and was still responsive, so I talked to my brother about the prospect of a home euthanasia. After dropping Harper off at the clinic I searched for a Vet that could do the home euthanasia. When noon rolled around Harper's doctor called to let us know that he was not improving, that's when we knew his time had come. 

My brother made the arrangements with the Vet to come over in the evening at 8 pm, that would give my parents time to say goodbye. My brother and I went to pick up Harper at 3 pm, he could no longer get up. A Vet Tech and my brother had to carry him to the car while I thanked the Doctor and went to pay. The Vet told me that the day was on the house and that he was truly sorry he couldn't do more. That's when I realized how much he had cared about Harper and my family, and that's when I couldn't help but sob like a child. We moved past gawking people who asked what was wrong with Harper and I couldn't bring myself to say anything. What I wanted to do was yell at them "He's dying? What does it look like?" but my brother ushered me away. 

My parents arrived at the house at the same time we did so my dad helped carry Harper in. After settling him onto his favorite spot on the couch we told them the news. There was crying, yelling, begging, denial, my mom went through the DABDA phases in record time. Since I knew Harper would be put to sleep I had bought a paw print kit along with a keepsake box. I helped her cope by making the paw print impressions and snipping off some of his hair. 

As the hours ticked by, Harper got worse. Our house was in mourning the whole time we waited but towards the end I couldn't take it anymore. Harper started gasping for air and I couldn't stand to watch him suffer. Finally the Vet arrived and she quickly set everything up. Thankfully Harper still had his catheter in so he didn't even need to feel the pinch. We all huddled around him and told him how special he was, how sorry we were, and how much we loved him. The Vet administered a sedative first and he was out like a light, next came the actual drug and we was gone. 

We got to spend some time with him before the doctor took him away. I let my mom stay with him for as long as she needed because I was honestly relieved it was over. The last thing we did before Harper was taken was let Nailah out to see him one last time. She ran over to him, sniffed him all over and then backed up slowly. She looked him over one last time and then ran off, I'm pretty sure she knew he was gone. 

After the good Doctor placed Harper in the back of her van we all gathered to watch him drive away. My mom and I stayed until the very last moment and watched her car turn the corner and vanish. 

~~~~~~~

Harper the golden retriever, my first dog. He left his mark
on the whole family and will always be
remembered.

I'm thankful that the whole family was able to be with Harper when he passed away. I'm also grateful that he was able to go at home where he was the most comfortable. I am, and always will be, sad that he had to go so early. Harper had just turned 9 years old in March, he had so much time left. This is the reason I want to support the Morris Animal Foundation. I hope that they can find a way to help other pets and their owners so that others don't have to go through we what did. Because even though Harper wasn't the champion dog I had always dreamed he'd be he was the perfect house pet and a valued member of our family. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dog Umbrellas and Why I Love Doing Dog DIY Projects

Why do I love doing dog DIY projects? Because it helps
me save money while still letting me have cute things
for me and Niles like this dog themed umbrella.

Times are tough for pet parents. With the economy still trying to recuperate a lot of us have been forced to cut back on our budgeting for our dogs. I know I haven't been an exception, having been faced with choosing between getting my dog new and engaging toys or nutritious training treats.

Even though people can argue that these items aren't really a necessity, and that a dog can easily have a happy and healthy life without them, I have to disagree. My dog is a high energy herding dog, an Australian Shepherd named Nailah. She needs to have her mind and body worked on a daily basis. Obedience training, stimulating toys, exercise, and yummy and nutritious treats are all part of what I consider a balanced lifestyle for my pet.

Since I view these things, along with other fun dog mom projects, as more of a necessity than a luxury I have found myself driven to create many of these items on my own, making me a DIY kind of dog mom. On my blog and YouTube channel I often post Do It Yourself ideas that I feel other pet parents may benefit from. Some of my favorites so far have been holiday themed dog treats (like Christmas themed peanut butter dog treats decorated with yogurt icing), a How To on making a rope toy from old shirts, and game ideas like hide and seek. 

Every week I find myself being inspired by new challenges I face to come up with fun, cute, and inexpensive items to meet Nailah and my needs. This week was no exception. We've been dealing with a lot of nasty thunderstorms here in Miami, and I do mean nasty. Because of this I decided to make a fashionable yet functional dog umbrella to keep me nice and dry (and to also show off my dog mom pride). 

If you're in the market for some new rain gear I suggest checking out our How To for this cute project. Painting the umbrella did take some time but honestly I think it was worth all the effort.