Monday, January 27, 2014

Chaos in this month's BarkBox!

Sinead the Boston terrier in her dog bed
As I mentioned last month, I have a new BarkBox approach. Rather than opening up all of the treats and letting the dogs nosh on each product we get, I'm introducing just one edible snack at a time. It makes for less nuanced reviews, as the dogs haven't even tried everything in the box, but I'm hoping it'll also help Liam avoid some gastric upset.

This month, however, the dogs didn't really care about the treats inside the box. The crinkling of the paper that surrounded the Think!Dog alligator jerky left them cold, and while they were happy to try out the Loving Pets Barkster cookies, they ate only one before running off into the living room. I couldn't even tempt them with the rope toy from Harry Barker (and that was pretty surprising, as they usually love toys like this).

The reason for this preoccupation?

It's orange, it's rubber, it flexes and it bounces. It's called a Pocket Bone, and these guys went nuts for it.

This toy is made of rubber, and it has a slightly strange smell (a bit like chocolate). There's a tiny spot in each end that's made to hold a treat, but I haven't tried this yet, as my dogs are happy just to gnaw on it when there is no treat inside the toy at all.

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toy

Both of my dogs are heavy chewers, and they've been at this toy for several days. Liam has even held one part of the toy between his feet as he pulls on the other end with his teeth. Even so, I can't see any deterioration or chew holes in this thing at all. It looks just as good as it did when we got it.

The only downside is that we got just one, and these two don't like to share.

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier try to share a bone

I just ordered a few more.

So thanks to the BarkBox team for another great toy find! (And thanks for the treats, too.)

Want to try your own BarkBox? Use my code. I'll get a free box, and you'll get a discount. Bonus!
Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mandibulectomy: Before and after

Seamus the Boston terrier on his bed
When I was looking into surgical interventions for the mouth tumor Seamus developed early in his life, I didn't have a lot of time to do research. The thing grew so quickly that I just didn't have a lot of time available to weigh the pros and cons and make a truly informed decision.

At one point, however, I looked for photographs of dogs that had the same surgery I thought he might need (a mandibulectomy). Specifically, I wanted to see photographs of what the dogs looked like before the surgeons got started, and what they looked like when all was said and done.

Unfortunately, those photos were really hard to find. I never really understood why, but I decided to do something about it, and I made Seamus pose for an "after surgery" shot. I had a "before" photo that I loved, and I thought putting them in a side-by-side format could help someone else down the line.

Unfortunately, I forgot all about the film I used for this project, and it languished in the corner of my desk for ages, until I developed it. Then, I forgot to post the shots.

It's an oversight I am correcting today. Now, I know I've talked about this surgery in other places on this blog (including here and here), but these photos might be more indicative of the changes dogs with amelioblastoma and surgeries face as they recover.

So here goes.
Seamus the Boston terrier before mandiculectomy

Seamus the Boston terrier after mandiculectomy

This is the same dog, but he looks quite a bit different. His personality was the same, as was his intelligence, but he just had a different look about him.

As always, if anyone is contemplating this surgery for their dogs and has any questions or comments, remember to bring them up with a veterinarian. It's a big surgery that comes with big consequences, so it isn't something to take lightly!

And if you want to talk with me about it, contact me on social. I'm happy to help. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thoughts on senior cats

black cat Ikea cat bed
Maggie rarely makes an appearance on this blog. She's appeared in a few pieces that have to do with Eamon's health, and I did torture her by making her show up in a demonstration piece involving nail trims, but I often allow her to hide in the background. She doesn't like having her photo taken, and she rarely has any noteworthy health problems that merit blog coverage (thankfully).

But, this week, she joins the senior club. Yup, she turns 10.

Prior to adding Eamon to my household, I had serious difficulties in getting cats to reach their golden years. My first rescue had a fatal bladder problem, my first kitten struggled with kidney failure and the next cat I had developed a lung tumor. I started to wonder if I'd ever have seniors.

So I take special pride in breaking my losing streak. At the moment, my house has four senior cats, in a home with five cats total. I'm doing it right!

But in honor of Maggie's birthday, I thought I'd devote a little space to photos of her throughout the years. The "how big will my kitten get" post I did awhile back remains one of the most popular posts on this site (who knew?), and these photos might tell the tale of growth and maturity much better than charts and statistics do.

So here goes!
tiny kitten big cat bed
First week at home. She's so fluffy!

tiny black kitten baby gate
She was also adept at scaling baby gates.
black cat and Boston terrier
Staring out the window was a favorite hobby.
cats Christmas tree
And it's one she still enjoys.
black cat Boston terrier
She has a playful side.
black adult cat bed
But she's just as content to rest.
Here's to 10 more years!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why I shop local for pet supplies

Beorn the cat and his food bowls
It's no secret that I have many, many pet mouths to feed. Three indoor cats (two with special dietary needs), two outdoor cats and two dogs (one with special dietary needs) means that I spend hundreds of dollars each and every year on really simple things like food, cat litter and supplements. All of these little bodies can have a big impact on my monthly budget.

Not surprisingly, I am sometimes tempted by flyers that come from companies like With just a few clicks of the mouse, I could order all kinds of food and other goodies for my kids, and I might not even be required to pay for shipping. I could save both time and money. Quite a deal, right?

However, I rarely take the bait. Why? Because I like to support local businesses.

Lucy the blind cat on her couch

A recent study suggests that something like 90 percent of businesses in the pet sector are privately owned, and most of these businesses have fewer than 5 employees. These are the sorts of places that hang in the balance when the economy takes a slide or a local employer shifts manufacturing to another country. They just don't have the capital to sustain this kind of dip in revenue, and they go under.

I know that my few dollars spent each month can't keep a company afloat. But I like to do my part. That's why I try to buy the bulk of my food and litter at my locally owned company. All of my canned food, all of the dry food, all of the cat litter and most of my grooming supplies come from the same store, and I get service from the same friendly staff each time I walk through the door.

To be fair, I sometimes buy from nationwide suppliers. BarkBox is a big part of the life of my dogs (see my review of the current box here), for example, and I've also been known to get medicated shampoos and other over-the-counter medications from online pharmacies. I do step away from the comfort of my community from time to time in order to take care of my pets. But when I can, I try to stay local. I think you should, too.