Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dog food snobbery

Yes I have to admit, I am a dog food snob, and yes I believe there is something to the slogan you are what you eat. So when my dogs develop any issues I do look at what they eat. Twice a day they get a bowl of dog food, often with extras added. They also love fruits and veges.

       So when Inca had a weird episode a week and a half ago I questioned my dog food, she had not had any recent meds or insecticides. I have been feeding mostly Canidae for more than 10 years, I raised two very healthy litters on it, until we had issues with horrible mucous wrapped stools and found Canidae had changed the grain portion of their foods without changing the label, we switched to Earthborn holistics, that was about a year, but I noticed Roma just looked a bit rough, so I went to Taste of the Wild. Eventually when Canidae came out with the single grain I went back  to that, remembering the healthy years. Each change brought the cost of feeding my dogs up, and I thought I  had hit my ceiling for costs.  After reading in Whole dog journal and Dog Food Advisor about rice and arsenic I moved to the grain free pure elements, at $55/ 30lbs I really was over my ceiling, but if it was the best I could feed, and keep them healthy, I would give it a try.
  The morning after the episode I called Canidae, I decided I needed to know that the food was produced in their new Ethos mill and not the Diamond plant in SC. To my surprise they told me no that the Pure Elements was still being made in SC. A plant that has been the source of so many recalls, I was spending this much to give my dogs the healthiest meal I could, and was very uncomfortable with where it was being produced .
 So I decided I needed a new food and set out to make a list of what I wanted.
I started by looking at the foods who had received
5 stars from dog food advisor and were
on WDJ list of recommended foods, looking into those foods further I added;
Made by a company that only makes pet or animal feeds.
Made by the company not outsourced.

Ripple won't let go! She sleeps with a cow hoof in her mouth!

That became a very narrow list.

So my dogs are eating  Acana wild prairie now, the dogs are crazy about it! Inca is obviously feeling and acting better. Her bloodwork came back with odd results and will have to be repeated in a couple months, I may start her on meds, the vet left it up to me, she said with the bloodwork it could go either way but we will retest either way. I'm still contemplating. I also ordered a bag of  Orijen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

No More Lies

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." ~Rumi

"There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going to"

I trained my first dog for Competition Obedience while a sophmore in College, he earned a CD and I joined an Obedience club, I continued training him and when he was all trained for the Open excerises I entered him , but we didn't qualify, he had trouble after the jumps, x-rays showed grade 2 dysplasia. He retired, I later got another dog and again we earned a CD we continued to train in open, I didn't do a good job with the ear pinch retrieve, because I couldn't pinch a Cattle Dogs ear hard enough to make her yelp (thereby opening her mouth so I could shove the dumbell in)
I went to a lot of seminars in those days, Michael Tucker the Aussie Guide Dog trainer, Diane Bauman, Bernie Brown, Patricia Gail Burnham, others I have trouble remembering now, But I do so remember how "proofing" for the Obedience ring really meant setting your dog up to be wrong so you could get a good strong correction in.
Then there were changes happening and I went to seminars by Chris Bach, Dawn Jecs, and others who were the first wave of more positive training with food rewards. At the time the Obedience club I belonged to's Head Trainer forbid food in the club, and as what I was seeing from people at match's was food being spit at dogs, uugg, not something I wanted to start doing.
   I was in a quandry, I wanted to train, I wanted a better relationship, but I wasn't competitive enough to need titles.
        At this time I started training my horses in Natural Horsemanship, this taught me more about the relationship I wanted to have with my dogs than most of the seminars I went to.
 I went 15 years, the lifetime of the most special Cattle dog ever born :-), without earning an Obedience title, and yet I had a dog I adored who would have done anything I asked of her and done it happily, I am certain she was the best trained dog I had to that time.
I never lied to her.
I never set her up to be wrong.
She went everywhere with me.
She trusted me implicitly.
 I was never going back to the correction and lies of the old ways.
    Dog obedience continued to change and more positive methods infiltrated even the club I belonged to, I went to seminars with Leslie Nelson, John Rogerson and Chris Bach again. I decided I wanted a dog who was a bit softer than my Cattle Dog, a little less intense, and after having the most perfect dog of a breed it's too hard an act to follow for another dog.
     I got my first smooth Collie, sweet and sensitive, I started training her in Obedience, but she took off in the breed show ring and for years I enjoyed that. Then one day I had a litter, in that litter a little tri girl glued herself to me from the time her eyes opened and I knew she would be my new obedience dog.
  I joined positive classes with her and she earned her first title in Rally at 8 months of age.
Unfortunately I learned that some places were using Positive in their names but were still using Positive punishment for "proofing" this was not for me or my sweet sensitive dog, so we often dropped out of classes because I felt we were lured into them by false pretenses of "positive"
 Then I entered a class called "Motivational" by a trainer who called her school "Positive" something. and found out Motivation meant Compulsion! Dropped that class before the first session was over. The way to teach heeling was to have the dog in heel position, and with a piece of hot dog in hand, leash tight, jerk straight up hard and fast as you take a step, so the dog jumps forward and you stuff the food into their mouth.
I spent many years using luring to train my dogs, then had to learn how to be effective at fading the lures, I didn't think I would ever get into shaping. but took a couple workshops with Dee Ganley and my Mudi and found I could do this.
  A year or so ago I found this Blog by a woman named Denise Fenzi, she had OTCH dogs and she was training without lies and corrections, I started following her Blog and she talked about a combination of lureing and shaping, oh, maybe I could do this!
   I signed up for an on-line class in how to play with your dogs as a training reward, to make treaining enjoyable and fun, breakout from training, play go back ot work. Unfortunately at that time Keyna got sick and before the class was over I lost my dear girl.
   But I had learned the importance of play and integrating it into a relationship from the start.
Now my young Ripple and I play lots, I have done some shaping (clicker style) training and am now taking another on-line class at the new Fenzi Sports Academy in Heeling Games.
Even if we don't earn titles we are having fun, but I think those titles will be coming too.