Still alive

Dog life in May 2015
Still living!

It’s been a long time since I last checked in, and although I don’t think I will take up the regular posting schedule that I once did, I may endeavor to write a bit now and then. Because I’m still obsessed with dogs. As much as I may pretend that I’m not.

What’s new with the pups since January 2015:

  • Eden’s itchiness reached desperate levels. She was scratching constantly and causing hot spots. After hundreds of dollars and a series of unhelpful tests (including a $300 allergen panel that came back saying she had no allergies whatsoever) and false diagnoses, it seems that she may just have environmental allergies. So, she’s now on a daily dose of Apoquel, and that seems to be helping her. Sigh. Makes me think about what I wrote about a while ago, musing on the misleading health of expensive purebreds versus sloppily bred/mutts.
  • On the whole, however, they are happy and fairly healthy. Pyrrha is now 5 and Eden turns 3 in July.
  • They are currently living with my parents for the summer, because my husband and I are living/working in London right now! We miss the dogs, but they are having a great time. I don’t think they miss us at all. Eden is getting lots of daily exercise with my dad (including Frisbee, morning runs, and rollerblading sessions), and Pyrrha is just happy to be with Dublin on a daily basis. We’re really grateful that they can have such a happy temporary home.

Not having them around right now makes me think about them more and about all of the training goals I have for them when we come back home at the beginning of August.

Three main things I want to work on:

  1. Eden developing some impulse control, especially at doorways and when greeting house guests.
  2. Pyrrha’s tendency to be the “fun police” with Eden and other dogs; specifically, her very annoying habit of explosive barking every morning and redirecting it at Eden when they are let out of their crates.
  3. Putting daily walks back in my schedule. I was good about this with Pyrrha, but I got lazy when we added Eden to the family, and having two leash-reactive German shepherds made me even less inclined to take them out on my own. And so it became a vicious cycle, in which I rarely walked them because of the reactivity and their reactivity never improved because I rarely walked them. Mea culpa!

More ideas on this later, but I have been doing lots of behavioral refresher readings during my lunch breaks in London. (Eileen and Dogs seems to always know what I want/need to read!)

Simultaneously falling asleep
Napping in synchrony.

What’s new with you and your pups?

Does your dog have allergies?

Do you have an allergic pup?

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

German shepherds, along with their litany of other health problems, are also known for having allergies. I’m beginning to suspect that Eden may have allergies of some kind.

I guess that’s one of the big troubles with allergies and dogs: How do you know what’s bothering them? Environmental allergies could include a large list of possible irritants, and food trials are costly and time-consuming (just ask Jessica at My Imperfect Dog, who is by now a veritable expert on dog allergies). I’m willing to do what it takes to find out what’s at the bottom of Eden’s itchiness, but I confess that I feel a bit daunted.

She isn’t a chronic itch-er, but she’s certainly scratching more than Pyrrha on a regular basis (and we’ve ruled out fleas). As she’s my new little baby, I worry about her.

I’ve thought about adding fish oil to her food daily, as a first step, to see if that mitigates the issue. And then we could move on to allergy tests and maybe food trials, if need be. For the interim, I’m keeping close tabs on what she’s exposed to and what she ingests. And, of course, we’ll also be talking with our vet soon to see what ideas and suggestions she may have.

If your dog does have allergies, what has been effective in combating those issues?

Pup links and a soapbox

A Kennel of Dogs print, by Woop Studios. Source: Design Sponge

Studying Kids and Pet Allergies. This is a confirming study–apparently, if you’re born into a home with dogs, you’re less likely to develop a pet dander allergy later in life. (The Bark blog)

Custom Dog Stamps by Kozue. I love stamps, woodcuts, and dogs. So, I guess I need one of these stamps. (Dog Milk)

Siro Twist Pet Bed. This bed is so attractive and designer-friendly. Too bad it’s $460. Because you know if you bought your dog a $460 bed, he’d never sleep in it and prefer the pile of old towels by the back door. (Pawesome)

Holy Imprinting! Imprinting is always totally adorable. Especially when it involves a Pembroke Welsh corgi and two yellow ducklings. (Cute Overload)

Not Enough Time. I would just like to add my rousing agreement to this post from the Inu-Baka blog–and step up on a brief soapbox. I am always astounded by people who bring dogs into their lives with seemingly little thought to how much time dogs need and deserve. Clearly, as the writer here points out, you can have a full-time job AND be a great dog owner. If you say that your full-time job keeps you from caring for your dog, you don’t care enough about your dog. And you should never have gotten a dog in the first place. For anything that we prioritize in our lives, we will make time for it. I make time for my husband because he matters to me. I make time to read because I love to read. I will make time for my dog because I will love my dog and want what’s best for him.

I once heard a new dog owner talk about how dogs were so much better than children because “unlike kids, you can leave a dog in a crate for 12 hours and it’ll be fine.” I think my mouth fell open. No, that dog will NOT be fine! This is borderline animal abuse. And yet so many people think this is an acceptable way to “live” with a dog.

I always get a little nervous when people come into the SPCA looking for dogs as “companions” for their young children. I feel like many parents believe that dogs come pre-programmed to be a child’s best friend. Nothing could be further from the truth. The great “Lassie”-like dogs you see are great because of extensive training, attention, and care. So many people adopt cute puppies for their kids and then, less than a year later, those same puppies are back in the shelter–confused and abandoned–because people were totally clueless about how much attention and time a puppy needs.

Judge your schedule very carefully before bringing a dog into your home. This is something I tell other people and I tell myself regularly. Adopting a dog is not a carefree or temporary commitment. Don’t get a dog if you will abandon it a year later. Dogs deserve better.