Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cleaning Up After Your Dog - Is it Ethical?

Some behaviors are so widely accepted that we never stop to think about why we're engaging in them, or to consider whether what's commonly deemed "right" really is. This week, after decades of pet ownership, it occurred to me for the first time that the socially-accepted norm of picking up behind our dogs was one of those behaviors.

Here's how it happened:

I was walking my dog, plastic bag in hand, and stooped to clean up after him.  As I knotted my plastic bag and turned toward the dumpster, I suddenly realized just what I was doing. I was taking organic, biodegradable matter that acts as a powerful fertilizer out of the grass, placing it in a plastic back that would take decades to break down and then tossing it into a dumpster to be transported to a landfill.

Sure, it's the social norm to clean up after your dog. And many areas have ordinances requiring that you clean up after your dog. But is it the right thing to do? Is your neighbor's distaste at dog droppings more important than the environmental impact of leaving it there (positive) or putting it in a plastic bag and sending it to a landfill (negative)?  Suddenly, I'm thinking not so much. And I'm wondering why I've never thought to question this before, and whether I'm alone in this.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Oatmeal and Fleas

This is purely anecdotal: I have no idea why it happened or whether it will work for your dog, but I thought it was worth sharing.

My Yorkie has fleas, and we're having trouble getting rid of them. Though I did eventually give in and spray the furniture and carpets (after two rounds of laundering and vacuuming on the same day as a flea bath didn't work), I haven't sprayed the dog or put the medication on his back. He's less than five pounds and pretty sensitive, and I'm considering chemicals a last resort.

In the meantime, he's itchy. Since bathing him in oatmeal shampoo seemed to give him some relief but didn't last, my daughter decided to try rubbing him down with actual oatmeal and letting it sit on him for a while. The oatmeal did relieve his itching quite a bit and he settled down to sleep afterward with very little scratching. But that's not the bit I wanted to share.

The oatmeal seems to have killed a lot of fleas--more than the medicated flea baths have. Not only did a much larger number of fleas wash off the dog when she rinsed off the oatmeal than we'd seen in the flea baths, but we found far fewer on him later that evening AND (for the first time in this process) he dropped a few dead fleas around the floor and couch.

While I'm not super-excited to be finding dead fleas on my furniture, I'm very happy to see them spontaneously dropping dead...like I thought they were supposed to after the medicated bath, but never seemed to.

Like I said, I have no idea whether there's a scientific basis for this or whether anyone else would see the same results. But oatmeal is cheap and harmless, so if you're fighting fleas it couldn't hurt to try. Tori used regular Quaker Oats, prepared according to package instructions except, of course, NO SALT. It took about a cup and a half, prepared, to cover our five-pound dog.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When Dogs Attempt Suicide

The day before Thanksgiving, Jake had his distemper shot and for the rest of the day he didn't eat. That didn't come as a surprise; I know that dogs often don't feel well the day they get shots and just decided to keep an eye on him the next day. What I didn't take into account was that while it might be normal for a dog not to eat for a day after getting his shots, a dog who tips the scales at 5 pounds even can't handle it.

By the time he hadn't eaten much for a couple of days--which I've seen dogs only slightly larger do several times over the years--he was lethargic, hard to wake up from sleep and kept going and hiding behind the couch. He'd rouse himself to go outside and come when he was called and such, but didn't seem very interested and, if nothing else was being asked of him, he slept.

I thought he was sick from his shots and took him back to the vet, only to discover that he was actually suffering from low blood sugar and essentially starving himself to death.

Apparently, after just over a day of not eating, he was feeling sick enough that he didn't want to or didn't think he could eat. He'd lost 6/10 of a pound, which doesn't sound like much but was more than 10% of his body weight. Even the vet freaked out a little when he saw the change in his weight over just a few days.

After loading him up with Nutrical and high-calorie prescription soft food and pretty much anything he showed the slightest interest in for a few days, he's back to his normal (read: highly energetic) self, but it could easily have gone the other way. It turned out that while I thought he was just sleeping off his shots, he was actually too weak to eat. And it happened in just over 24 hours.

Obviously, the dog wasn't really trying to commit suicide, but he was just lying around waiting to die, and if my daughter and I weren't both a shade on the overprotective side, we could easily have waited too long to seek help.

Apparently, if your dog weighs five pounds, it needs to eat every day whether it wants to or not.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What I Forgot (1)

In three years of doglessness, I entirely forgot the feeling of having a dog run at full speed across the yard to greet you or fling himself against the door when he sees you coming, as if your arrival is the most important thing that's ever happened to him in his life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lost Whippet in Boston - please help!

Re-posting this call for help from a friend; if you're in the Boston area please keep an eye out for this dog and leave a comment here if you find her. I don't have a phone number to share at the moment, but will get in touch with her immediately if anyone has information to share.

Friends in and near Boston I need your help!!! Please put the word out - the dog I was walking tonight slipped out of her collar and took off, I cannot find her! She is a small female whippet, white and grey and answers to the name Gracie. She is very fast and very skittish. She was last seen on Beacon and Joy - if you see her PLEASE contact me IMMEDIATLY.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Everyone Loves a Puppy

You all know by now that I got a puppy about a month ago (and promptly dropped out of sight because I'm...well...busy with my puppy). He's pretty cute, in case you haven't noticed.

My daughter, much to her own surprise, is crazy about him.

She argued strenuously for a cat. She knew we couldn't really get one (I'm allergic), but she made it clear that the whole dog thing didn't interest her and she was just going along because she knew how much I wanted one.

The biggest surprise, though, has been the interest of other people. When my friends first started making posts on my Facebook wall asking me to post more pictures of Jake, I thought they were humoring me. Don't get me wrong--I appreciated it, and I definitely took the opportunity to go ahead and post more pictures (and video) of Jake, but I really thought they were just trying to give me an opportunity to show him off, like a new mother.

It seems like not. Video of Jake seems to be in hot demand, as he does fascinating things like walk across the couch, run down a hill, and sit in my yard.
. video
Big news like the fact that Jake had his first bath is received with excitement.

I'm surprised, but it's all good. Keep those requests coming, even if you are humoring me. I'm always happy to look at Jake and talk about how cute he is.