Keeping the Tooth Fairy at Bay

Yes, it’s a very good idea to brush your dog’s teeth! Doggie oral care is just as important as it is for us humans. I have found a couple things that help me take care of my dogs’ teeth, so I figured I would share what I’ve learned from Dr. Donna Kelleher, our Bellingham holistic vet.

For brushing, PetzLife Oral Care Gel is what I use. It’s all natural (containing grapefruit seed extract and herbs and natural oils). There are two flavors – salmon and peppermint. I shop around on-line for this product as the pricing varies. I like the toothbrushes I’ve been getting from Northshore Veterinary Hospital here in Bellingham; they are just right for little dogs. PetzLife Oral Gel also comes in a spray, but Dr. Kelleher told me that the gel and a toothbrush are more effective.

Another great product I use is PlaqueOff. The manufacturer is ProDen. I also shop on-line for this product as it is fairly pricey. It’s a seaweed product (a powder) and you just mix a scoop (scoop is provided with the product) in your pet’s food (you can use it with cats too). It’s quite effective! In 8 weeks my dogs’ teeth brightened up quite a bit and tartar disappeared.  The 60g bottle will last a long time.  It’s well worth the price. On the Schipperke Chat Site I discovered that a lot of Schippie owners also use this product and they rave about it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than a dental on your dog. Don’t be surprised if your dog’s breath smells a bit, well, fishy (but it’s mild!).  LOL.


Fall News

The days are getting shorter but we’re as busy as ever here at the Lodge! Right after Labor Day, photographer Nicki Bailey and I hosted a photo shoot to benefit Whatcom Humane Society. I did all the posing while Nicki took the photos. It was so much fun! The dogs did great, even under all the lights. We raised several hundred dollars for WHS. We are thinking of doing another photo shoot sometime in 2012, so if you missed the September one and would like to participate in the next one, let me know. Some of the comments we received from the participants ranged from “WOW!” to “I wish I had had professional photos taken of all the other dogs in my life!”

Just a reminder that this weekend (Oct 7, 8, and 9) is the NADAC agility trial in Lynden (at the horse arena on the fairgrounds) and the public is welcome to watch. It starts Friday night around 5 p.m. and runs all day Saturday and Sunday. It’s a great opportunity to see a fun sport with both mixed breeds and purebreds. I’ll be there with Bizzy all 3 days . . . our goal? To have fun!

DON’T FORGET THAT WE OFFER DOGGIE DAYCARE BY THE HOUR AT THE LODGE! With the holidays approaching and shopping and parties, football games, whatever you have planned, why not bring your pooch to the Lodge for some fun while you’re out doing your thing? Daycare is available every day except Thursday. Call to make an appointment.

THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS: Folks are booking now for holiday stays, so don’t delay if you are making travel plans. Yes, all Campers will get special treats on Thanksgiving and Christmas!


Books and other news

Awhile back I mentioned on my Facebook page that I’m reading a terrific book called DOG SENSE: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. I am not quite finished reading this book, but I highly recommend it to any dog parent or dog lover (and it would make an excellent holiday gift). Whether you want to understand why our dogs behave like they do, or you’ve heard concerns about certain (e.g. Cesar Milan’s) training methods, or you just want to know how to better bond with your dog, this is the book for you. This is a book with scientific research behind it; the author, John Bradshaw, is a renowned animal scientist. He has quickly become one of my favorite authors, along with Patricia McConnell and Jean Donaldson.

Business has been brisk here at the Lodge! I’m meeting fabulous folks and their dogs and it’s been an honor and great fun to be part of these “families.” Some of my (two legged) Lodge visitors are expressing interest in agility and K9 Nosework: Chuckanut Dog Training Association is a good place to start pursuing these (and many other) activities. You can also check out the Tails-A-Wagging website for agility and other cool things to do with your dog (like Doga!). I’ve been doing Rally and Agility for a few years now; I’m not the highly competitive type but I love classes (I’m less enamored with the actual trials . . . I have a hard time waiting for “my turn” to do a course!). We have some great instructors in our area, so let me know if you need any information.

At the end of the day (and they certainly are getting shorter and shorter this time of year), I have to admit that my favorite thing to do with my dogs is going for a walk. I love just walking along and watching the dogs take in the world through their noses. For me walks are about reconnecting with that we tend to forget or take for granted. Whether you believe in animal communication or not, I’m fascinated with the idea that no matter how much we try and understand and communicate with our dogs, there’s a world of information out there that we’re only scratching the surface on . . . and yet, it seems it’s right in fron of our own noses! So close, yet so far.

Til next time. . . .

Feed the dog!

Several people have asked me about the homemade diets I feed my dogs, so I thought I would share what I do. I feed my dogs under the supervision of Dr. Donna Kelleher, Bellingham’s fabulous holistic vet. Personally I only feel comfortable feeding homemade diets under her supervision. I know there are a number of books on the market about homemade and raw diets, but I prefer to tailor a diet to my dogs’ individual needs. Several of my five dogs have health issues and/or allergies, so what I share here is just for them and I don’t advocate adapting my recipes for your own dog(s) without consulting with someone like Dr. Kelleher. WHOLE DOG JOURNAL is an excellent resource for high quality kibbles and also for books on homemade dog foods.

Are homemade diets a lot of work? Yes and no. Now that I’ve been feeding homemade diets for a couple of years, it’s just what I do. I prepare the veggies and meats a couple of times a week (multi-tasking helps a lot! I can cook up the meat while I puree the veggies to save time). I’ve seen a wonderful improvement in my dogs’ coats, health and behaviors since they’ve been eating homemade food. I’m finding that I’ve become more and more interested in canine nutrition as a result of my own experiences, especially when it comes to integrating herbs into their diets.

The “3 Schipperkes” Diet (Guiness, Bizzy and Juno eat this) – 2x a day

1/2 cup (plus a little extra) cooked ground turkey or beef
1/4 cup pureed raw veggies (all organic)
1 tsp or so of canned organic pumpkin
1 tbs of goat yogurt (Skyhill is the only brand from the Food Coop without tapioca)
1 tsp ground flax meal
1 300 mg capsule (broken open) Twin Labs calcium citrate with magnesium
1/2 capsule Blue Bonnet Quercitin
At dinner they also get 1 vitamin chewie (Canine Plus Senior from Vet Labs)

A couple notes: Bizzy is allergic to chicken, fish, and grains, which is why I seek out the Skyhill Farms goat yogurt since it doesn’t contain tapioca as a thickener). The beef I buy is currently from Whatcom Natural Beef, which is all grass fed and humanely raised, very lean, and free of hormones and antibiotics. I switch proteins every three weeks or so from beef to turkey. Veggies include a mxture of several of the following: carrots, Swiss Chard, kale, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, yams or sweet potatoes, beets, celery, and the like.

Tripp, my beloved blue Schip, is on a version of the above, but with the addition of multiple herbs and heart medications (about 15-18 items go into a bowl of food for him).

Jolly, my rescue chihuahua, is also on the version of the Schip diet, but also with his own meds and herbs.

My dogs never gain weight on this diet; in fact, I periodically increase the quantity of meat to keep Bizzy and Juno from losing weight (they compete in agility and are pretty active).

Periodically Dr. Kelleher adjusts the above, but this is what we’re doing for now. Works for me! And more importantly, it works for my dogs.

Books and products I like

Right now I’m reading a book called HERBS FOR PETS – The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. The authors are Gregory Tilford and Mary Wulff. This is a great book to read if you like to try and integrate a more holistic approach into your pet’s healthcare. I have a crew of 5 small dogs, several of whom have serious health issues, and so I’m continually trying to educate myself on best practices to managing their health, and for me that involves integrating western medicine and the so-called “alternative” medicines/practices: seeing a holistic vet, visiting chiropractors, and incorporating acupuncture and herbs. It can be tricky, as sometimes I feel like I’m caught in the middle of conflicting opinions about what avenues to take in treating my dogs, but ultimately the extra work helps me make more informed decisions and I learn a LOT along the way. We are lucky to have really good vets and other animal care practitioners here in Bellingham. Choices are good, even if the choices sometimes feel weighty.

A couple of people have asked me recently about dog foods: I like to refer people to Whole Dog Journal and their annual dog food review. I’m not an expert but I do know that WDJ provides solid dog food advice and there are many excellent kibbles to choose from. My dogs eat home-made diets and my biggest quest right now is finding a source of meat from animals that have been humanely raised. I don’t eat meat anymore myself, but my dogs need it and I would like to be sure that what they eat isn’t full of hormones and all the other things that unfortunately are found all too often in animal feed and our foodchain in general. The current issue of BARK magazine has a good article on this subject.

Til next time. . . .

Check out our Facebook page!

If you haven’t been to the 3 Schips and a Girl facebook page, you’re missing some cute photos of some of our happy campers!

I just put a note on the wall there today about Living Earth Herbs. This nice little shop has a new pet friendly section with a custom doggie shampoo and a custom salve (made from plantain) that is great for bee stings and other mishaps and the great part about it is that dogs can lick away at the salve and it won’t hurt them! If your dog gets the occasional hot spot (one of my Schips, Tripp, occasionally does from a protein imbalance), a nice herbal salve and tea can do the trick and make your dog more comfortable. We are lucky to have Living Earth Herbs in town as a resource, along with Dr. Donna Kelleher who can work with you on herbal (and many other) solutions. Personally, I really enjoy practicing a holistic approach to my pet care: western medicine, Chinese medicine, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and herbs all have a place in my dogs’ lives, and they are all the better for it. Yes, it’s a little more work for me (in terms of doing research and making decisions), but I learn a lot more in the process.

Travel Safely

In the December 2010 issue of Whole Dog Journal, Susan Sarubin (CPDT-KA), wrote a great article about buckling up dogs (buckling up as in doggie seatbelts). Did you know that according to AAA, “more than 30,000 accidents a year are caused by dogs riding in the front seat of a vehicle?” And that number represents only dog owners insured by AAA, so the number is undoubtedly much higher.

Please, for the safety of your dog, use a seatbelt or a crate for your dog when you have them in the vehicle with you. These two options are best for two reasons: They help protect your dog in the event of an accident, and they also prevent your dog from escaping in the event of an accident . . . think about it.

Scrumptious treats!

Here at the Lodge DOORSTEP PET SUPPLY now features some scrumptious treats for your pooch! We believe that treats should be as high quality as possible so everything we offer is real meat or grain free. If you’re not familiar with Doorstep Pet Supply, pick up a brochure during your next visit or visit their website at I have used Doorstep Pet Supply for quite a while now and have always loved their free delivery service . . . one less errand to run!

Speaking of treats and dog food in general, Whole Dog Journal is the go-to place for learning about the importance of feeding your dog quality foods. WDJ is a monthly publication and you can also find them on-line. In addition to providing info on foods, you’ll find great advice on training, behavior issues, and much more. My favorite publication by far!

Til next time. . . .

The Canine Lodge is up and running!

Hello again! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, and that is due to the construction of my new Canine Lodge (and home, which is right next door). Thank you Squalicum Builders! We broke ground in December and I moved in at the end of March. Woohoo!

While I am missing the dogs and cats I cared for during my days of pet services, I’m very excited to be able to offer doggie daycare and overnights for small dogs. If you missed our Open House dates, please call me to schedule an appointment to tour the Lodge. It’s a cheerful, open, and fun environment and my Campers are making the most of it! The Lodge features K-9 Grass indoors and the doggies absolutely love it! For all our rainy weather, it makes for a superior play surface that brings the outdoors inside. You can learn all about the Lodge from my revamped website.

CLIENT REFERRAL PROGRAM: Existing clients will get $5 off a visit for any referral who signs up for doggie daycare or for overnights. Tell your friends! I’m conveniently located near the Cordata neighborhood where many small dogs reside and what could be more fun than getting out of the condo for the day and having a day of play? A day of play is guaranteed to stimulate your dog and make him or her happier and better behaved. A bored dog can be a destructive dog, so think about the Lodge for even just a few hours of play a couple times a week.

On another note, Juno and I are busily training for the upcoming trial in Lynden on May 21 and 22 where we hope to earn our Rally Excellent title. We have not been doing much at all the last few months so we have our work cut out for us. In February, Juno secured her novice title in Jumpers and Weavers in the AKC agility trial that Chuckanut Dog Training Association hosted. Juno is a rescued Schip and I’m quite proud of her.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon!


2010 Wrap Up

It was a busy 2010, full of changes (some very unexpected), but the year ended on a good note and I’m excited about 2011. Some of you may have heard that I’m opening up a dog hotel and I hope to be opening those doors come April or May. We broke ground before Christmas and are moving right along. Stay tuned for details. I will say that this will be a small, very cozy and fun hotel (more like a “hound camp”) that caters to small dogs.

On another note, I want to say how grateful I am to all my clients. I have met such wonderful people and their dogs and cats this year. Christmas time was special in that I really enjoyed the evening and night-time (potty!) walks in the various neighborhoods – the Christmas lights were so festive. The best thing about being involved with pet services is that I am able to observe the love between pets and their humans, which is a nice counterbalance to what I sometimes see in the world of rescue.

Speaking of love, Schipperke lovers are a tight-knit and proud group of folks. I was walking my two Schips Bizzy and Juno in the rain and wind the other day, and a car coming in the opposite direction slowed way down and two young girls in the back seat rolled down their window and waved and showed me their Schipperke, shouting something like “Schipperkes Rule!” or some such before driving off. It was hilarious. Due to the dreadful weather I didn’t get to send off a proper salute to this family, but it was so typical of Schip lovers . . . a “Brake if you see a Schipperke” moment. How many Lab owners do this? LOL.

I wish everyone a wonderful 2011. Be kind to your furry friends and listen to what they have to say.