Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Flash Back

This picture was taken about 5 years ago, and its not particularly good, but it does show my favorite thing about dog ownership--companionship.  Not pictured is Norbert who was likely in another room but the little lass on the left is our sweet Dr. Zira who passed away two years ago.

 I spend every major Holiday home with my dogs and I wouldn't have it anyway.  Its the simple things like this that we all aught to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mini Pumpkin Cheese Cakes for Pups

Pumpkins and pups are a natural combination.  As demonstrated above a pumpkin style hat as modeled by Tubby is a winning look, and pumpkin in a pups food is a healthy treat.  I wrote in this blog post about how I often add pumpkin to my dogs food.  While fresh pumpkin is the healthiest option canned pumpkins ease makes it a natural choice for treats.  With Thanks Giving just around the corner I decided to say thank you to my dogs with some Pumpkin Cheese Cake Treats.

Mini Pumpkin Cheese Cakes for Pups

1 can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
8 ounces low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp coconut flour
1 egg, beaten
1 package Pumpkin flavored dog cookies, such as Plato Turkey and Chicken Treats
cupcake tin liners

Preeheat the oven to 350.  Stir all the ingredients, except the cookies, together until smoothly combined.  You might want to use an electric mixer but I did it by hand.  Line a cup cake with paper liners and put one pumpkin cookie in the bottom of each liner.  Spoon the pumpkin cheese cake mixture over the cookies and bake 25 minutes, until slightly firmed but still jiggly.  Cool and serve.

If you are interested in a delicious Pumpkin Pie for peeps check out our Vintage Blog The Old Fashioned Way


Oh and we have one announcement to make.  We sincerely hope we don't offend anyone and  mom absolutely loves all of blogville, she considers some blog ville friends better friends then non computer ones.   However, in an effort to save some cash and make Daddy happy, it was his request, we are opting out of sending cards this year.  As there are so many of us and we use shutterfly our cards are pretty pricey and it will be hard to swing the expense this year.   So please please don't feel you need to send us a card, we will feel bad if we get cards and can't reciprocate.  We hope no one is angry with us over this as we love you all. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Cutest Dog Cartoon Ever

I'm betting a lot of you have already seen this and I'm just late to the party but a co-worker showed me My Dog: The Paradox from The Oatmeal and I've already read it about 50 times.  It might be the funniest dog thing I've ever read, with a very sweet and sad ending as well.   Here is a link to the entire comic.   Definitely check it out.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday-Kiss Puggy

Note:The title of this post is a tribute to one of my favorite literary characters, who I wrote about here.   Its an alternation of a line, Kiss Tuppy, from the first episode of the fourth season of the TV show Jeeves and WoosterHere is a clip from  of the episode.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You Say Potato-I Say Potata

While I'm not one to argue with Fred and Ginger, I do think there is only one way to pronounce potato, and its not with a tah at the end.  However, this post is not about any controversy around potato pronunciation (I just thought it would be a good opener), its about potatoes in dog food.  As grain free dog foods have become more popular more and more dogs are eating foods that eliminate grains like corn and wheat and instead turn to potatoes for carbohydrates.  My own dogs eat a rotation of grain free kibbles, all of which feature potatoes some where on the ingredients list.  Still potatoes and dogs can be a somewhat contreversial topic.

Dogs do not require any carbohydrates to survive.  The nutrients needed for a dog to function and be healthy are proteins and fats.  Unfortunately proteins and fats can be pricey, particularly high quality proteins, and many dog food companies bulk up their foods with low cost carbohydrates such as corn and wheat.  These ingredients provide a low cost source of energy for dogs but they don't provide optimal nutrition.  Concerned about their dogs getting too many carbohydrates and not enough protein and wanting to closely match a dog's ancestral diet, more and more owners are feeding their dogs raw food, and often prey model raw.  

Unfortunately owners who want to feed kibble but also want to feed as close to a natural diet as possible are left with a problem: a completely carb free kibble is an impossibility as some form of carbohydrate is essential to the kibble making process.  However, owners don't need to panic, carbs are not necessarily bad for dogs.  Even though they are not essential to the canine diet they do provide energy and nutrition and when they are of high quality carbs they can even be beneficial.    When looking for a good quality kibble its important to look for one with a high protein content, the first ingredients listed should be meat or fish  products such as chicken, chicken meal, salmon, etc.  Farther down on the list should be your carbohydrate sources and ideally those should not be form corn, wheat or soy.  Wheat, corn, and soy are difficult for dogs to digest, provide no nutritional value, and often trigger allergies.  A much better source of carbohydrates is the potato.

Sweet potatoes and white potatoes both contain important nutrients, such as calcium and potassium.  Of the two sweet potatoes pack more nutritional punch then white potatoes.  They have a lower glycemic index then white potatoes which can be important for dogs with diabetes as foods with high glycemic index cause blood sugar levels to rise.  There is also evidence that foods with lower glycemic index and more healthy overall and can help in weight control.  Sweet potatoes also have high levels of beta-carotene, a powerful anti-oxident, and plenty of fiber.   These are all reasons that I'm happy when I see sweet potatoes listed on the ingredients list in my dogs food. 

Of course sweet potatoes aren't just for kibble.  I often add sweet potatoes to the kibble topper stews I make for my dogs and they enjoy dried sweet potato chews.  This weekend  I made stuffed potatoes for my husband and myself and I got to thinking about how I could create a similar treat for my dogs.  Luckily Kolchak puggle had already come up with a terrific potato treat for Super Sunday Potato Skins.  The only change I made was to use sweet potatoes and to top them with some fat free yogurt.

 In case your interested in the people friendly recipe here it is:

Baked Stuffed Potatoes

 4 large russet potatoes
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
1 cup diced brocolli
1 minced shallot
1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
8 ounces sour cream or greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 and 1/2 cup shredded or diced cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prick potatoes with a fork and rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.  Turn down oven to 350.  Meanwhile, saute the shallot, broccoli, and mushrooms until wilted, about ten minutes.  Cut a little of the top of the potatoes.  Scoop out the potato flesh leaving just enough so that the potatoes still have  a structure.  Mix in the sour cream or yogurt, cheddar, or vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon back into the potatoes and sprinkle with paprika if you have extra filling, which you probably will, spoon some into a small baking dish and bake side along the potatoes for fifteen minutes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Mischief-Lazy Saturday

If you ask us the best Saturdays our lazy.  This weekend it was rainy, after :
 our morning walk we spent the day inside.   We opened our November Bark Box:

Weasley particularly liked the fuzzy white toy in the box:
 Tubby enjoyed the dental chews:

After we played with our new toys we settled in for some napping.

  First we napped while mom watched Poirot and oohed and aahed over these 1930s beach pajamas.

 Later we napped while mom ooohed and aahhed over these grey and white dresses on Episode 6 American Horror Story

 After our busy day of napping we were very tired, so mom put on our PJs and we went to bed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Black and White Sunday-Happy Birthday Toto!

Today marks the birthday of Terry (later officially renamed Toto) who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz:

Bob celebrated by reading one of our favorite books:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weasley Considers The Merits of Cabbage

Start time Weasley picks up a piece of cabbage:

5 minutes in Weasley has neither accepted, nor rejected cabbage as a food, refusing to eat it or spit it out.


10 minutes in a bit of cabbage is still visible

If you want a good cabbage recipe try this one for Rye Spaetzle Gratin from the New York Times its what we were making when Weasley picked his scrap of cabbage of the floor. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

On The Dubious Widom of Resurrecting a Beloved Literary Character

A few days ago mom got an alert on her kindle thingamajig, she clicked it and the alert lead her to a description of an item the Amazonians thought she might like to buy.

Now we have written before about our mom's love of PG Wodehouse  (here and here and here again).  See mom was raised on this stuff, our late grand dad was a major Wodehouse fan and while other children were listening to Good Night Moon mom was hearing Jeeves and The Tie that Binds.  When mom met dad she quickly set about educating him in the ways of Wodehouse and while Dad is not as big of a fan of the books as mom, he does like the Jeeves and Wooster TV show, which is frequently on repeat viewing here.   When they got married they even had a line, only one for me,  from the song Oh by Jingo which was sung on the show engraved on their wedding rings (you can here the song in the clip below.)

 So you might think mom would be  jumping for joy at the idea of a new Jeeves and Wooster book, but in fact she is pretty non-plussed.  See this book is not some lost tome from the master, but rather the work of an imitator, Sebastian Faulks.   Apparently Wodehouse's estate thought it would be a good idea to publish another novel and Faulks who previously resurrected James Bond was their choice.

The idea seems pretty silly to us, Wodehouse was nothing short of prolific.  During his 93 years he published 96 novels and short stories, 15 plays, and  the lyrics for over 30 musical comedies, a tolerably large amount of material to keep his legions of fans entertained.

We have heard that many feel the Wodehouse  writing style is a bit shall we say formulaic, something Wodehouse admitted to himself in the introduction to Summer Lightening (1929)

A certain critic—for such men, I regret to say, do exist—made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled this man by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy. (From preface)

But shouldn't a formula this perfect be left to the master, and if Jeeves and Bertie do have to be resurrected then shouldn't our dear friend Bouncing Bertie  have done the honors?  

While Bouncing Bertie's chosen field may be science one glimpse at  his blog will show you he has mastered satire.  Perhaps a letter writing campaign to the Wodehouse estate could ensure that the responsibility for next book, if there is a next one, could be placed in his capable paws.

Note: If you have no idea who PG Wodehouse is then we apologize for this post.  Also we hope Bouncing Bertie doesn't mind us using his picture.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Keeping The Golden Years Healthy-Seven Tasty Tips For The Nutritional Needs of Older Dogs

 As someone who lives with three senior dogs, and one soon to be senior,\ Bob will be 7 in April, I'm often thinking about the subtle changes I see in my babies as the age and how I can best keep them healthy and hopefully lengthen their life spans.   One of the best ways to do this is through some little diet modifications.

1) Watch the Fat-

As animals age they begin to loose lean muscle mass.  This happens even for pets who get regular exercise.   Since older dogs tend to have less lean muscle and more fat its a good idea to try and limit fat in their diet.  This can be done by looking for foods with high quality, low fat protein, or feeding treats such as skinless chicken or low fat cheese, rather then richer fattier foods.  Its also important to realize that the amount your dog ate as a youngster may need to be greatly reduced.  Norbert, for example, eats about half the amount he did as a two year old and his weight remains the same.

2) High Quality Protein-  With pets living longer and longer lives there is an ever increasing dizzying array of senior diets for our animal companions.  Unfortunately, many may do more harm then good.  In an effort to lower calories many senior foods skimp on the protein.   This is really unfortunate because current research indicates that dogs and cats need more, not less, protein as they age.  Make sure you are feeding your senior pet a food with a high quality protein source.  For example the first three ingredients in Wellness Core Grain Free Reduced Fat are Debonbed Turkey, Turkey Meal, and Chicken Meal.  These are all high quality meat sources.    In contrast the first three ingredients in IAMS Pro-Active Health are Chicken, Chicken By Product Meal, and Corn Meal.  Corn meal is NOT a high quality protein source and since its very high up on the ingredients list in this food it means that dog who eats it is going to be getting a lot less quality protein then a dog who eats the Wellness food.

3) Consider Adding Antioxidants-Antioxidants are nutrients that help prevent the cellular breakdown caused by aging, as well as strengthen the immune system.  Studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants help prevent cognitive decline in aging humans, and they may very well do the same for older dogs.   High quality pet foods already contain antioxidants, but its a good idea to give an extra boost.   You can add some fresh fruits and vegetables to your pets diet or consider a supplement, such as Cell Advance 880

This product is available on Amazon for around twenty five dollars.  I've been giving it to my older pets daily for years.  Its very easy to open the capsules and sprinkle them right over the food.

4) Remember Aging Teeth-As our pets age their jaws get weaker.  In addition many older pets have gum disease or may have had some teeth removed during dental cleanings.  Its a good idea to feed softer chews and treats to our older pets.  One option is senior chewz from antler chewz  these antlers are softer and easier for older dogs to chew and our still a safe and natural chew.

5) Consider Adding Curcumin-I sprinkle a curcumin capsule over my older dogs food every day.
Curcumin is an extract of the spice Tumeric and it has dozens of health benefits.  Its an anti-inflamatory that helps with arthritis and its anti-carcinogenic.  Studies have shown that tumeric helps prevent the formation of cancerous tumors.  Its also a great detoxifier and benefits the liver.

6) Add Some Coconut Oil-I am just starting to use  this one myself.  I'm not sure why I missed the coconut oil craze for so long, but its probably because I was so focused on using fish oil.  

The big plus of coconut oil, and the reason I will be adding it to my pups food, is that it helps to reduce cancer risk.  It also aids in the absorption of other nutrients and helps to regulate thyroid function, a problem for many older dogs.  Make sure you get an organic, cold pressed, coconut oil.  As I add coconut oil to my dogs daily diet I'll write more about the subject.

7) Fresh Food Add Ons-As pets age there sense of smell often decreases and they may get a bit pickier.  A good way to ensure that your older pet will keep eating their meals is to boost the flavor with some fresh add ons.  I regularly add cooked meat, yogurt, low fat cheese, squash, and  other vegetables and fruits to my dogs food.  It keeps there meals interesting and healthy, which should keep aging pets eating.  Of course raw meat is very healthy too but it probably should not be fed in the same meal with kibble.

If you keep your dogs food healthy and tasty then hopefully  your senior pet will be enjoying their meals for years to come.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Norbert the Foodie

As a gourmet food lover myself and someone who owns three pugs and a bulldog who would eat literally, anything, I've always appreciated Norbert's more refined tastes when it comes to edibles.  This weekend he outdid himself.  On Saturday while our power was turned off for a few hours my husband decided to make some pancakes with an old box of Bisquick we had lying around from a corn dog making experiment.  

Now being a pancake snob I've never in my life made Bisquick, or any other mix, pancakes.  I tried one pancakes and rejected it as blah, Norbert's reaction was the same as mine and matched that of the above picture.  He spit the pancake right out where a greedy pug made short work of  it.   My husband gave him another pancake to see if it was a freak, again Norbert spit it out.  At that point I became worried he was ill, ever since he turned 11 I am constantly worried he is ill, and I know that Norbert loves pancakes, or at least home made not from a mix pancakes.   I went into the kitchen and got some fancy duck jerky treats which Norbert promptly gobbled up.  That is when I realized that Bisquick pancakes must for Norbert reside in the same category as milk bones, not fit for  his discerning consumption.  See Norbert has an internal register that immediately rejects any dog treat that is not organic, free range, made in America or Canada, and cost lest then ten dollars a bag as not fit from his consumption.  A milk bone handed out by a friendly patron at the dog park or one of those vet office treats, he will spit  right onto the floor, but give him a fancy pants organic morsel and he gobbles it right up.  It might be my favorite thing about him.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Books Review-Dogs of War by Francess Pauli

A few months ago Francess Pauli was kind enough to contact me and ask me to review her book Dogs of War: Vertigo.  The novel is a sort of romance, time-travel, science fiction, and dog book mash up.  I explained to Ms. Pauli that I am not a romance reader, honestly I've never read a romance novel in my life and usually find myself gagging during the romantic parts of any movies and if there are romantic parts in the movies I see they are sub plots because you would have to hog tie me and drag me to a theatre to get me to see a straight romance.  Still I recognize that romance is a very popular genre and I knew from talking with Ms. Pauli that this book had many more elements then plan romance so I agreed to read and review it.  (Ms. Pauli was also very sweet about my lack of affinity for romance).

 The book starts out with the main character, Viv, going to pick up her new puppy Flora, a hairless dog.  I loved how excited Viv was about getting her new pup and the importance the book put on their developing relationship.  Anyone who reads positive dog training books, such as the works of Patricia McConnell, will recognize some of the language of the texts in Viv's interactions with Flora and in her communication with Flora's breeder.  I think its wonderful that a fictional book that is not entirely focused on dog training is communicating current positive training methods, rather then the old school dominance approach.  

This is not a dog training book though, and the plot quickly moves in the direction of time travel and romance.  Viv finds herself inexplicably flashing back in time to WWI where she is experiencing life through the eyes of a soldier who is working on training dogs to help in combat.  At the same time she develops a strong attraction to a local cop.   I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but there is a demon about who is bent on destroying Viv's budding relationship, and what with the past lives and all its not the first time this has happened.  Thankfully dogs and demons don't get on well, and with Flora around Viv has at least some protection.  As someone who adores dogs and knows how powerful the dog/human bond is I really appreciate how Pauli portrays Flora's ability to protect Viv.  

Romance readers who are also dog lovers and history buffs will really enjoy this book, and I think in particular they will love learning more about the role of dog soldiers in World War I.  Sadly, not enough people know about the amazing sacrifices these dogs made.

My favorite part of the book is Pauli's characterizations of "dog people."  You can tell she has been involved in the dog show and training world.  I  particularly liked her development of the character Angel, a somewhat prickly dog breeder.  The portrayal was so true to life I feel like I may have met her at one of the dog shows I've attended.  All in all I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any dog loving romance fan, or anyone interested in the role dogs played during World War 1.  Its the first book in a series so readers will have more to look forward too.   The other books in the series will also explore the role of dogs in war so there will be plenty of opportunities to learn even more about canine heroes.