Eden is (finally) spayed

This past Tuesday, we finally got Eden spayed.

cone of shame

As you can see from this blurry phone photo, she wasn’t super-thrilled about it.

We waited to spay her until she was 16 months old, partially for health reasons and partially for outright laziness. I know the longer you wait to spay (especially large breeds), the better. And I am aware of the health debate regarding whether it’s good to spay at all. Anyway, regardless of those mini-controversies, we decided to spay, and I’m glad we did. Bitches in heat = not the best time I’ve ever had as a dog owner.

The real misery now comes from trying to keep this monster quiet (and away from her stitches) for the remainder of her recovery period…

Did you spay or neuter your dogs? If so, how did all of that go for you?


A quiet autumn with the dogs

We’ve been enjoying lovely weather lately, and the dogs are content. What more can you ask for?

Snapshots of backyard living:

Fall on the backyard

Honey baby

Odd allure of morning glories

Princess P

My only minor concern involving the pups is that Pyrrha has developed a small, strange little sore on her upper and lower lips. We’re in touch with the vet about it, and we’re switching up some routines to try to rule out possibilities (wound from rubbing/digging, allergies, autoimmune disorder). I’m sure she’ll be OK, but I feel kind of obsessive about it. I’m a hypochondriac on behalf of my dogs. Can anyone else relate??

Anyway. All will be well. How have you been spending your fall days?

Pup, your breath stinks! (TropiClean Fresh Breath review)

See this cute little face?

Pretty, crazy baby

Don’t let her get too close to your mouth. There’s a reason why I’m not one of those people who lets her dogs lick their faces copiously, and it’s called coprophagia. Charming, right?

Pyrrha is an occasional poo snacker, but Eden can be downright compulsive. She can be called off if she’s caught in the act, but we are not out in the yard with them every second. Guion, the faithful spouse that he is, scoops poop every day, but we’re going to miss some. I aim to brush their teeth at least once a week, but I admit I can miss the regularly scheduled brushings.

All that said, I’m always eager to try dental chews, toothpastes, and additives, so we were happy to receive a review sample of TropiClean’s fresh breath water additive for dogs.

TropiClean Fresh Breath Water Additive | Doggerel

The product claims to:

  • Reduce plaque and tartar
  • Reduce risk of periodontal disease

There’s no brushing involved, and you add one capful of the additive to every 16 ounces of water (usually amounts to 2.5 caps in our giant water bowl). The formula has aloe and green tea in it, and the product it also made in the USA. We’ve been trying it for about two weeks now, and I daresay Eden in particular has sweeter breath. I haven’t noticed any difference in the girls’ plaque or tartar buildup, but I think the aroma coming from their mouths is noticeably less foul!

This product is on sale right now at Chewy.com for $10.99 for a rather large bottle (33 oz.). There’s also a smaller version (16 oz.) for sale, if you wanted to trial it before a bigger monetary commitment.

Do you have a poo snacker in your home? Have you ever tried a water additive for breath?

Disclosure: We were provided with a sample of this product in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are mine and unbiased by any companies.

Dog health recently

Family goodbyes at Easter
The dogs saying goodbye to my sister and her husband last weekend.

The good news: Eden is all clear for giardia!

The bad news: Pyrrha now has giardia.

Ugh. I kind of wondered if this would happen. We’ve been so vigilant about cleaning up the yard, but my best guess is that Eden transferred it from all of the kissing. She licks herself, and then she loves to lick Pyrrha’s mouth. We also got their food bowls mixed up, so there could have been a remnant there, too. Anyway, now Pyrrha is undergoing treatment, and our house is in a police state. The poor girls don’t know what’s going on, or why we yell at them for licking themselves and then trying to kiss each other. Just hope it will all be over soon!

The additional good news is that, aside from the giardia, Pyrrha had a good annual check-up at the vet. She’s at a trim 64 lbs., and the vet complimented the health of her coat and teeth. Pyrrha was a huge baby about the exam itself, but our vet is a pro with shy dogs, which is wonderful. And as soon as the vet and vet tech pulled out some treats, Pyrrha acted like she’d never been afraid of anything, throwing tricks right and left. Such a diva.

Eden is finishing up her first heat, finally. It lasted about 10 or 11 days. I thought she had a UTI, because she had started peeing small amounts in her crate, which she had never done before. We did a urine analysis, though, and it came back normal, so the vet thinks it’s probably just related to her heat, but we’re keeping an eye on that as well.

Moral of the story: Don’t have dogs?? I don’t know. We couldn’t have prevented any of this (as the vet thinks Eden came to us harboring giardia), and I am assuaged by the fact that none of these health issues are the direct result of them being German shepherds, but I still feel like blaming their breed. GSDs are genetically cursed, right?? You gotta blame someone! Hah. Our wallet is suffering.

Unrelated: Thanks everyone for all of the comments and great conversation on yesterday’s post about the pro-purebred and pro-rescue camps. I always enjoy hearing from all of you and your experiences!

Level of sagacity

Marlon Brando with family dog, Illinois, early 1950s.
Marlon Brando with a family dog in Illinois, early 1950s.

“The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.”

— James Thurber

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

How sage is your dog? I’d say that Pyrrha has a fair level of internal sagacity, but Eden’s sagacity levels likely dip around zero. I saw a post somewhere this past week arguing that German shepherds, especially working-line GSDs, have the most hellish adolescent periods of maybe any other breed. I BELIEVE IT. Although I’d put my money on a malinois or a kelpie… But yeah. I sometimes feel like Eden is never going to grow up and is going to live out the rest of her life keeping us in a state of terror.

Speaking of Eden, I’m in a middling state of panic about her health and how underweight she is. But I need to be patient and wait to see how she reacts to these antibiotic/probiotic treatments. It feels hard to keep calm.

(Sidenote: Whew, young Marlon Brando. What a beautiful asshole. I still feel so good about naming our first foster Brando. It fit him perfectly, and his new family decided to keep the name!)

Any fun weekend plans? We are on hands and knees, prayerfully begging for SPRING! And for the yard to dry up, at least for a few days… Have mercy on us!

How often do you bathe your dog?

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Real talk: How often do you bathe your dog?

I feel like there are many opinions about the desired frequency of dog baths, usually tending to either side of the spectrum (tons of baths –> very few baths).

I fall on the “very few baths” side, for a few reasons. One: Pyrrha HATES bath time. Really, serious fear; bath time is the only time she’s ever tried to bite me from fear and anxiety. We’ve taken her to a self-serve grooming salon, and that set-up has been helpful. It’s a lot more quick and painless than trying to wrangle her into a tub here. Two: I kept reading things that said that too many baths were bad for a dog’s skin. Pyrrha was very flaky when we first got her, but her coat is in great shape now (it’s very soft and glossy), and we don’t bathe her much at all. And so I don’t want to mess up that equilibrium. Three: And this is the lazy part of me, but our yard is a swamp right now, and with two rambunctious young dogs, I feel like it’s not worth it, you know? They’re just going to get muddy again… and then I’ll towel them off and brush it out so they can go get muddy again in a few hours.

BUT then I saw this magazine article from a popular veterinarian saying that dogs should be bathed at least once a week. I was agape. Once a week?? Pyrrha and I would both die from anxiety if we had to do that. The vet cited things like dust, dirt, and “pathogens” in a home that irritate a dog’s skin, and so they should be bathed more often to combat such things. Which is the opposite of what I’d read, which argued that too many baths dry a dog’s skin out and gets rid of the important natural oils in their coats.

So, that makes me want to crowd-source this question. How often do you bathe your dog? And give your reasons for the frequency! I’m curious and now wondering if I should switch up how I think about bath time. At the very least, it’s a conversation I want to have with our vet next time we go in!

Review: Pukka’s Promise

Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs
Pukka’s Promise

I am surprised a book like this hasn’t been written yet. It’s about time we started talking about why our dogs are dying so young.

Ted Kerasote takes on that question in his newest book, Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs. Kerasote, heartbroken by the death of his beloved dog Merle, sets out on a quest to investigate canine longevity. In the process, he brings home an athletic labrador retriever, Pukka (pronounced: puck-uh), who inspires his journey into dog health, diet, genetics, and environment.

Kerasote is based in the wilderness of Wyoming, but his research takes him all over the country. He interviews dozens of veterinarians, breeders, shelter workers, and just general dog people about their perspectives on how we can extend the lives of our canine companions.

I particularly enjoyed his chapters on breeding and genetics. I’ve become increasingly dismayed at the purebred breeding practices in the United States, and Kerasote shares my concern. He examines the recorded longevity of many purebreds and notes that most breed organizations add a handful of years to the breed’s estimated longevity; in reality, most purebred dogs die many years earlier than they are “supposed to,” according to breed standards. He shares findings from studies and anecdotes from breeders intent on improving genetic health. I was especially fascinated in his discussion of the silken windhound, a breed invented by geneticist Francie Stull. By selecting dogs for health and longevity, many of Stull’s windhounds lived into their upper teens and several into their twenties, which is remarkable for a dog of any size or breed.

In choosing his new dog (Pukka), Kerasote decides to go with a breeder instead of a rescue, despite citing research that mixed breeds tend to live, on average, a year longer than purebreds of similar sizes. He makes the choice based on reliability of information: you have a better idea of what you’re getting from a breeder than from a pound puppy. However, I thought it was a bit contradictory that he railed against dog fanciers for valuing looks so highly, because he repeatedly turns down puppies because they didn’t look just like Merle, his previous dog; they had to have that “rangy look” and that “rufuous coat” or he wouldn’t accept them.

His discussion on diet and vaccinations I also found to be helpful. Particularly, his approach to vaccinations struck me as level-headed and reasonable, not swinging too much to either party line (vaccinate all the time vs. never vaccinate). Instead, he vaccinates the minimum recommendations from his vet and then uses titers thereafter.

(As a side note, I was delighted that he spent a whole chapter about his visit to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA [CASPCA], which is our local SPCA and the SPCA that I volunteered at for a year while waiting for Pyrrha! He uses CASPCA as a shining example of a successful no-kill shelter and a pleasant place for homeless animals. I felt a lot of hometown pride.)

My only critique of the book is that I wish Kerasote’s recommendations were more broadly applicable to the average dog owner. He lives on a plot of vast acreage in Wyoming. He feeds Pukka raw, wild game that he kills himself. Pukka gets hours of free-roaming adventure and play every day. Pukka does not wear a leash, ever. Kerasote is a single, childless person who also has a stay-at-home job, so he gets to be with Pukka all day long. This sounds like paradise to every dog-loving person, but I don’t think many of us could follow all of his doggy lifestyle recommendations. Most of us have full-time jobs, human families, budget constraints, and live in suburban or urban areas in which it would be both unsafe and unwise to let our dogs roam, leash-less and intact. It would have been nice to have made some more applicable advice or shared modifications on how we can incorporate these healthy living principles into our dogs’ lives.

All in all, it’s a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read general research on dog longevity and discover some broad principles to extend the life and well-being of one’s beloved canine.

Bonus: A video of Pukka by the author.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book, but all opinions expressed here are my own.