Thursday, July 31, 2014

Doggie Daycare - The Options

Yesterday we took Barry to daycare (more on what happened tomorrow)! We looked into many places (there are a lot) and after a recommendation on Tucker Pup's, reading reviews, and a tour of their facilities with Barry we decided we would give it a try there. Tucker Pup's isn't fancy. I don't see the need for it to be fancy anyhow. It should be all about the dogs and Tucker Pup's really seems to be that. There is an indoor play spot (a few indoor play spots for dogs of different sizes and temperaments) and an outdoor (8 foot tall wooden gate surrounding) play spot. Both include balls, slides, and other fun equipment. They also have boarding options and grooming if needed.

Here's what we liked from what we read:
No breed discrimination. Dogs are separated by size and temperament - not breed.
No crate time during the day ever (unless requested).
Play time is for the whole time your dog is in daycare (7AM to 7PM).
During boarding your dog will play from 7AM to 7PM and then have dinner and crate time.

This is what we don't like:
You have to pick your dog up by 7PM or they will automatically board your dog overnight and you can pick up the following day which includes additional fees.
The boarding area is all small crates/kennels, it's a nice environment overall for dogs but crates/kennels are not ideal. Not for Barry anyway. Many dogs have no problems with this but Barry would likely hurt himself in their boarding facility.

Compared to other daycare places the play time outweighs all the stuff we didn't like. We don't want to put Barry in daycare and then have him be put in a crate for a few hours during the day at any point. Many daycares we looked into do just that. One in particular (that might be more ideal for boarding) ends play time at 4PM on weekdays and 2PM on weekends and then they go into their suites (big spacious kennel rooms w/bed). We just want Barry to play and have fun. Not only that, Barry doesn't do well in crates.

This is what happened to Barry when we tried to crate him one day.
We may go with Pooch Hotel for boarding if we ever need it for anything. They have very nice facilities and the kennels they put the dogs in after play time are nice and spacious and we think Barry would do better in that environment. Another very nice thing about Pooch Hotel is that you can drop your dog off at any time and pick up at any time. That is highly unusual for most daycare/boarding places. You pay extra if you go past the normal hours but even having the option is ideal.

I can understand why most places don't allow pick up after a certain time and there are set hours. However, for me, I love the idea that I can do that with Pooch Hotel. I'd be willing to pay the additional fees for it.

Still, Tucker Pup's has the edge on the daycare portion (which is what we'd use most often anyway). We won't use daycare everyday. Maybe two or three times per month. It's good for Barry to get more socialized and to interact with other dogs unleashed.

Another thing that is ideal with a good daycare is that on a weekend day we could put Barry in to play while Husband and I go out and run errands, shop, have a nice lunch or early dinner and then pick up a pooped out dog from a long day of play. Without feeling guilty of leaving him in our condo by himself all day with nothing to do.

Up Next: Doggie Daycare - The Report Card

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weighty Issues

After mentioning the slight weight loss we noticed with Barry in this post we wanted to up his food intake and continue to monitor his weight. After weighing him again a week later he'd lost another 2.4 lbs. Yikes! That was even with increased portions.

String bean.
I decreased the amount of water I was putting in the food to make it heartier and thicker and bulk up the calories some. After looking into the calorie count of the Honest Kitchen vs. Blue Buffalo I'm still coming up a little confused. The only thing I have found about the calories in the Honest Kitchen Love is 514 per cup. I'm not sure if that's dry or rehydrated with water (can't seem to find the answer). The Blue Buffalo Wilderness came in at around 470 calories per cup (not exact and I can't find the stats right now). The two are pretty similar in regards to calorie and protein count. Also, being that I was putting in a little extra water to hydrate the food the calorie count would be brought down a little with the Honest Kitchen food which would be even more comparable to BB.

In the end, Barry's calories haven't been reduced much, if at all. His weight loss has been alarming. For an adult human losing about 3-4 lbs in a week and a half is probably no big deal. For a dog that weighs around 65 lbs that IS a big deal. He is still in a healthy weight range so I won't be freaking out too hard just yet. I do not like that this weight loss happened so quickly, though.

Walking down the street with his twisty bone in mouth.
Now that we are doing everything we can to make sure his calories are back to normal (or comparable to when he was being fed BB) he should gain some weight back. If he continues to lose then we'll need to take him in to the vet to make sure there isn't anything else going on. If he remains at the current weight then we can just chalk it up to summer time weight loss, increased activity, and food that his body is processing quickly/completely due to how unprocessed it is compared to BB. I'm hoping that's all it is. We are waiting until his next weigh in.

Yes, this is actually comfortable.

Friday, July 25, 2014

New Food & Bathroom Updates

For those who are dying to know!! Barry hasn't had diarrhea since we started switching him over to a new food and added Kefir for probiotics. The switch took us about 2 weeks. We did it slowly and healthy so that he wouldn't get upset stomach or diarrhea in the process which can be typical. He never got diarrhea once. We have stopped putting pumpkin in his food because Love from Honest Kitchen features pumpkin as an ingredient. We have kept up with the Kefir, though, because he seems to love it and it's good for his gut.

We are now totally on the Honest Kitchen food and during the switch we noticed a slight weight loss. We have started to monitor his weight and will weigh him once per week to see how he does. We have upped the amount of food we feed him from 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups per meal. With Blue Buffalo he only needed 1 1/2 cups per meal (total of 3 cups per day) but the Honest Kitchen may have slightly less calories (we're not too sure) so we have decided 4 cups per day for the Honest Kitchen will be better for him for now. We can't be sure that his weight loss was from the lack of calories but after we weigh him tonight we'll see where he is weight wise and take it from there. If he packs the pounds back on too fast we'll reduce the food a little. This is all a learning process. Not all foods are created equal. The Honest Kitchen has all natural and whole ingredients (human grade) and is so much easier to digest for Barry. Blue Buffalo is a good quality food but it still has some ingredients that don't agree with Barry and wasn't as easy for him to digest.

Speaking of his digestion, he has started to poo much less as well. He has one good one during the day and then maybe another small movement later. His gas is also minimal. Thank goodness.

Even after taking him to Wisconsin last weekend and being fed biscuits and sausage gravy he had no issues. No diarrhea. Usually after eating questionable food (such as biscuits and gravy) he would be embattled with diarrhea and stinky toots. Not this time! Not that I think it's a good idea to feed him whatever from now on... I just feel that now that he has a good base for food that his body can process, plus good probiotics which are helping to balance his flora, he can handle the occasional naughty treat with no problems. Such a relief.

We still aren't totally sure if he has a chicken allergy or if it was just the Blue Buffalo in general being processed and harder for him to digest that caused so many issues. For now I'm happy that he's doing so well. I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet, but he's doing great right now. I want to wait before I totally get excited. I think once he's on this food alone for a good two weeks solid with no issues I can allow myself to get excited about this new food. I'm already pretty excited about it but no celebrations will be happening just yet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hair of the Dog

I meant it when I said that Barry flipped our lives upside down. We aren't the same anymore, and I imagine we'll stay not the same from now on. Even after Barry's long gone we'll have been changed by him. I'm not keen on talking about after Barry. It's a reality that most pet parents face at some point, though. Watching your beloved pet get sick or pass on. Husband and I have already both experienced this separately. I can hardly imagine what it must be like for us when it's Barry, though. I am thinking about it because we recently watched an episode of Derek on Netflix where Derek's favorite dog had to be put to sleep because of cancer. I cried. It is more personal now that we have our own dog. Before Barry I would always get upset when animals were hurt or died on T.V. but it's different when you have your dog sitting right next to you.

Moving on from that. He's young and healthy right now so we have many good years ahead of us. Happy thoughts!

Before Barry we had a very tidy and clean condo. Sometimes we'd skip sweeping or cleaning the bathroom but it was never a big deal because we'd always get to it. We could leave to go anywhere at any time without worrying about anything. We could leave a pair of pants on the floor, put our shoes next to the door in the hallway, and even leave our couch cushions on the couch! I'm not saying our condo isn't tidy, but I'm not saying it IS tidy either. It's just different now. Vacuuming the couch and rugs doesn't get all the hair out. Sweeping every couple of days doesn't really cut it anymore. Walking out the front door wearing anything black is no longer a mindless task. I feel like the time I have to clean is taken up by the walks we take Barry on, preparing his meals, getting his KONG ready for the next morning, putting items away so that Barry can't get to them when we leave, loving on, paying attention to, and playing with Barry. There is no longer such as a thing as just leaving either. Not in the sense that I can grab my purse and walk out the door. It's a process now. I have to make sure a KONG is prepared. Put on some classical music. Get the calming aromatherapy diffuser on. Everything's put away and then I give Barry his KONG. I have to wait a minute just to make sure he's into it and not watching me as I leave. Then I quietly leave and lock the deadbolt so that Barry doesn't escape.

I think I still need to find the good groove to get into. I have become pretty good at all the Barry stuff but now I need to begin incorporating all the other life stuff as well. The biggest issue is making the time for it. I also need time to sit and relax. I haven't found the perfect balance of cleaning, taking care of Barry, making dinner, and relaxing yet. It's been over 7 months and I still haven't gotten it yet. I think I will eventually but I'm not there yet. My priorities lean towards Barry and dinner during the evenings. Then I have time to sit a bit before it's time to take Barry on his last evening walk and then getting ready for bed. That leaves cleaning on the back burner all the time.

As bad as all that sounds it really isn't. The cleaning gets done eventually. I enjoy doting on Barry. I love getting home to our semi clean condo and having Barry wiggle his butt and follow me everywhere because he's so happy to see me and have my husband there to greet me with a kiss. I love the life I live. I know not everything is perfect in life all the time (or ever really). Right now our life is a little bit more hairy than we'd prefer but what is the alternative? No hair anywhere? It's just not possible as long as we have Barry and I'd rather keep Barry around for as long as he lives. So hair it is. Barry is worth it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Selfie Saturday!!

It's Saturday! One of the very best days of the week!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Selective Hearing & The "Treat" Counter

Barry can be the best listener. Sometimes I just take it for granted how well behaved he is. I think I dwell too much on the times he's in squirrel mode. That, of course, is no one's fault but mine. Our amazing dog trainer once told me something along the lines of, "You're flunking him before you even give him a chance to pass!" That has stayed with me. I have to remind myself of my attitude and how it affects Barry. The training was mostly for me. Husband too but mostly for me I think. Barry was just along for the ride and the treats. He already wanted to do whatever we told him, he's made ready to please.

All that to say, there are the times when Barry loses our voice. He gets in this mode that is hard to break. His attention is no longer on us. He can't hear us. It's not often. We see it fleetingly with squirrels he finds on our walks or a dog that is just too interesting to not sniff. There are also the times that he's searching intently for a squirrel or critter. He is on high alert. He barely listens. He'll sit down next to us but won't look. We have to wait for him to snap out of it. He's listening, though, that's the thing. Otherwise he wouldn't sit. He's only half listening, though. Still searching for critters.

Then there's the front desk area. Barry thinks of this place as the treat counter. The front desk guys love Barry and Barry loves them. Barry takes on their energy and he's crazy, pulling us to the desk and he jumps up to peer over the counter and get a treat. We've started making Barry sit before he can receive one of those front desk treats. For some reason those treats are the best thing he's ever eaten. I'm sure whatever it is they have isn't the sort of treats we're giving Barry. It can't be as delicious but for some reason he goes nuts over the milk bone type treat. Even though Barry has a sensitive stomach we allow him to have one in the evening because it's one of Barry's favorite things ever!

As soon as we get anywhere near the front desk Barry pulls his hardest so he can get
there fast!
Then he jumps up to the counter to see over the side. This is our doorman walking
around to make Barry sit so he can give him a treat.
Barry sitting and licking his lips.
Now that he's had his treat he's trying to go behind the desk to sniff out more!
Sometimes I'm not sure who's happier to see whom. The front desk man to see Barry or Barry to see the front desk man. Either way, Barry gets excited like a kid when we near the "treat" counter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Doggie Play Date

On Sunday we headed out to the burbs to meet up with some friends and their dogs. Barry gets a little bit of socialization but he always relishes the moments that he's allowed to play with another dog like he did on Sunday.

Muddy paws = a good time.
This is Kasia. All of the dogs (besides Barry) belong to her. She is holding Anya and
in the foreground is Pancho.
Little Anya.
Barry has met these dogs before but it was on the first day we adopted him. I briefly mentioned a sweet girl dog named Lizzy that we wanted to adopt in one of the first posts I wrote. Well, Barry got to hang out with her (as much as she'd let him) on Sunday as well! I was thrilled to see Lizzy too, she's doing so well and loves her home.

This is the lovely Lizzy.
Lizzy prefers to hang out by herself  (this is why there are not as many pictures of Lizzy)
but we were able to get this picture of  Barry & Lizzy together. 
Barry got snacks and treats, and lots of love, not to mention he got to hang out with some cool dogs. It was a good Sunday.

Pancho followed Barry everywhere. His nose was nearly glued to Barry's bottom!
It is exactly what it looks like. Barry is peeing on the bush while Pancho
is taking in the scent as closely as possible. Hopefully without getting peed on.
Barry chewing on a grass blade while Pancho (in the background) reclaims the bush
Barry previously marked.
We can't wait for our next visit - which we already planned out. Great company and awesome dogs!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's For Dinner?

We all know too well about Barry's digestive troubles. Pinpointing the exact issue may never happen. We can just help by eliminating certain things and staying consistent. Consistency isn't always easy when you eliminate one thing and add another in order to find the culprit of his issues.

Hold me Daddy. My tummy hurts.
I recently posted about giving Barry probiotics, kefir specifically. We have been doing the pumpkin thing as well, that has been something we have been mixing in his food pretty consistently since the beginning. Then once he seemed better we'd stop putting it in his food. Then we'd start again once he had diarrhea. See the pattern? So we've decided to continue giving him pumpkin with his food. It's relatively inexpensive and it's healthy for him so there isn't any harm in giving him the pumpkin each day regardless of his stools.

Since adding and keeping with the Kefir we've noticed he has had pretty normal poo. We give him about a quarter cup in the AM and that's it. Just once per day. Another relatively cheap addition that we can continue giving him that won't hurt. Now, his poo has been on the mushy side a few times but no diarrhea so I am hesitantly optimistic that this stuff is helping him. Time will tell but so far so good.

We also recently started  noticing small patches along his belly and thigh and through his side on the backs of his legs and near his bottom. Dry, round patches where there is some hair loss. Barry didn't seem too bothered by them but he has been sort of chewing and scratching at them infrequently. I looked up a few possible things that could cause this and one of the first things that came up was a food allergy. The more I looked into it the more I have become convinced that Barry has a food allergy. Obviously his main source of food is the kibble we feed him. We've been feeding him Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken. Blue Buffalo is a decent food and is well ranked with very few questionable ingredients. We don't know what he could be allergic to.

Since I get into everything who knows what is causing me to be sensitive!
We have started to slowly introduce him to a new food that is ranked very high and is all human grade with great ingredients. It's called The Honest Kitchen: Love. It's a little more expensive (it's dehydrated and a 10 lb box makes 40 lbs of food) but only by about twenty cents per pound. We will see how he does on the new food. It will be a while before we completely switch over as we're doing a slow incorporation.

So far he seems to enjoy the taste of his new food and he sure was excited to open the package when it came!