Monday, May 30, 2011

LEAP - May 28-30, 2011

Off to Granby, Massachusetts for LEAP's Memorial Day weekend trial. The weather for the weekend was hazy, hot and humid - OK by hot I mean mid-80's and by humid about 75% humidity pretty consistently all weekend. Add pollen and I think everyone was struggling a bit.

After a three hour nap in the air-conditioned car,
Woo hit the pool for some deserved R&R. 
Teller went three for three with his standard runs this weekend - Saturday and Sunday he ran standard by 8am, which was really a bonus for him. Humidity was still high, but the temperature was actually a bit lower, which suited him well. Contacts were best on Saturday, OK on Sunday and he didn't stop on any contacts today. Still wish I could replicate that dogwalk tunnel (chute) appeal in training! After our three weekends out in May, Teller is 7 for 8 in standard. Still on the right track - always a journey. My plan this week is to work contact reps this week. Net points for the weekend was 45. Every little bit helps!

Woo's JWW runs were a bit problematic this weekend - usually we pass JWW and flunk standard  - always something different. Saturday we missed the weave entry (which is a fair mistake actually - and that particular entry took out well over half the 24" dogs on Saturday), Sunday and Monday we had a wrong course. Today's JWW run came at 2pm, full sun, 88 degrees and 72% humidity. I kept Teller in the shade - actually laying on his belly in the dirt under a lean-to - as long as I could, but he was just HOT. As we came around a pinwheel I pushed out and traveled for a front cross and he went out and around. I should have supported him and I didn't - tough since if we hadn't Q'ed in standard (at NOON under sun too) I probably would have scratched him from jumpers entirely. Note to self - don't enter any more outdoor summer trials - it's not good for either of us. I am so pleased though that he stayed in the game even though he was so hot - pulling off a 4.5 YPS JWW run. It felt like slow motion but he stayed in the game with me - I can't begin to articulate how much I appreciate this dog. He's just so giving - on and off the clock.
Murphy enjoys a frozen yogurt post-swim. Notice the
closed eyes and intense concentration on his little cup
of blueberry goodness.....

Things we'll work on this week - bonus cookies for contacts. We're not doing a lot of full contact reps, but a fair amount of on the side and cookie. Just get that reinforcement in. Some weave work - After Teller's weave mistake in Saturday JWW he got really careful and cautious in the weaves the rest of the weekend, I'm sure he's getting that from me, I want to get some reinforcement on FAST poles this week.

On a related note, Teller got his standard Q cheeseburgers on Saturday and Sunday - but Sunday night we re-negotiated the contract :-) Cheeseburgers for QQ's now Woo - with the fine print highlighting a "your handler is stupid clause" the terms of which entitle Teller to a cheeseburger for a non-QQ resulting from handler stupidity.

The runs from the weekend:

Friday, May 27, 2011

FAQ: So what's up with the fish?

Since my post on Sunday depicting my dogs chowing on partially frozen and completely intact mackerel, I've received about 25 emails from readers who want to know more about the fish and about feeding fish.

You feed the whole mackerel?
Yep. The whole mackerel. The whole sardine too. For anyone who is squeamish, sardines might be a better place to start with whole raw fish - they're smaller and less investment in product. A sardine is about 2 bites for my dogs. Poof! Gone. Sardines are easier to feed for indoor meals though, so if you're somewhere where you can't turn your dogs loose in the yard with some fish, sardines might be a better option. Sardines are a bit lower on the food chain than mackerel, so there's likely less contamination (from eating other fish) - however, Mackerel are fattier fish. I've fed both, but I find mackerel to be a great size for my dogs.

Is it thawed?
Partially. I like the fish to be thawed enough for the dogs to easily make progress, but not so thawed as they can eat it without chewing. I like the fish to be pretty firm still, semi-flexible - frozen in the middle. This means the dogs have to work a little bit to get through them - thus they eat them slowly. The more frozen the fish is, the longer it'll take the dog to work through one. If you're concerned about how your dog is going to eat his fishsicle then feed it more frozen.

Do you gut it before feeding it?
Nope. Really it's OK - you don't need to gut the fish before feeding it.

What about the bones?
Cooked fish bones are a disaster - super dangerous, sharp needle-like pieces - one of the reasons I'll NEVER -EVER - EVER eat tuna fish again. Raw fish bones though are flexible, digestible and nutritious. Know your dog. If he doesn't chew his food you might have a problem. I watch my dogs very closely, they're trustworthy with fish and bones...

What about the eyeballs?
Yeah, the eyeballs are gross. Both of my dogs start with the eyeballs. Like it's the best part. Whatever - if that makes them happy, that's fine. From the eyes Murph eats the head down to the tail. Teller takes a bunch of little bites all over the fish and saves the head for last. I don't question.

Why do you feed whole fish?
Fish is a great protein source! Oily fish, such as sardines and salmon contain high levels of vitamins A and D. Fish bones provide an additional source of calcium and phosphorous. Oily fish contain omega's and in Teller's case he does need some additional fat in the summertime.

Do you remove the scales?
I don't. I suppose you could if you wanted to. I don't, the dogs don't complain. Honestly the scales on the average sardine or mackerel are pretty small.

Do you remove the fins?
Actually, sometimes I do. Some of the mackerel come with pokey fins. On a couple of occasions I have snipped off the dorsal fin.

Why do you feed your dogs ugly fish like sardines and mackerel?
For the same reason as above. It's a great protein source, fish add some variety to the other TCM cool proteins I feed already and I do feed more fat in the summer when the dogs are so active.

Where did you get your mackerel?
I buy cases of mackerel from Oma's Pride. Mackerel come in cases of 30-40lbs, each fish is about 14-16oz, so that's about 40 fish per case. Oma's also carries 2# bags of sardines.

Can I go to Hannafords and find a whole mackerel? Is it the same thing?
Yes, probably the exact same thing. Oma's Pride pet food is manufactured by Miller Foods in CT, many of their products are labeled for human consumption - I'd guess that the mackerel are in fact the same fish that end up in restaurants - probably in the same size case. I know the bags of sardines from Oma's are labeled for restaurant supply.
If you buy a fresh fish at Hannafords (likely it's been frozen and thawed actually), I'd really recommend re-freezing the fish and feeding it partially (or entirely frozen).

Seriously don't you worry about bones?
I do, that's why I watch my dogs eat their fish. I want to make sure they're chewing the fish as they're eating it. If they were gulpers I wouldn't feed them whole fish (or I'd feed smaller whole fish).

My dog has a sensitive stomach - can she still have a mackerel?
Probably. Perhaps the solution is to cut the fish into pieces - half or thirds. That'll give you an idea of how things are going to digest without really committing to being up all night with a dog who needs to go outside.

Don't your dogs smell like fish after eating a fish?
No. Unless they roll in the grass that has fish pieces on it. I hose down the areas where they ate the fish after they finish. Not because they roll in it - but leftover fish pieces - even microscopic ones can get stinky in the sun.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The "kids" are five and a half weeks old now! Gaining, growing - I can almost see their little personalities coming through. All photos are by Kathy:
Who does this remind you of?

Growing fast means lots of naps!!!


Love the reflection here.

MOMMA! WAIT for me!

Woo won Mr. Koala at a the Syracuse trial - he gave it to the kiddos.
Purple boy likes the tuftie bits :-)

So does "no color" girl.

Puppy agility anyone?

Mr. Purple was the first up.

Annnnd, it looks like he got his contact!

Puppy clubhouse?

Someone's practicing a "one rear toe" contact!

Naptime rumble.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

As the pool toys float....

"If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by."
Sun Tzu, Author "The Art of War"

"If you stand by the pool edge long enough, you will see all your pool toys float by."
Erica Ferland, Author "This Blog"

My brain must be getting soggy. All this rain and wind. I think we're going on 15 of the last 17 days have had measurable rain-fall. OK, in the grand scheme of things we're not on Lake Champlain that last week was 3' above the previous 1890 record level, my home has not been flooded with several feet of water, I'm not a resident of Joslin, Missouri (my heart breaks for that community - 125 dead and 1500 still missing, that just hurts) and I don't live in a community on the Mississippi River (I can't imagine being in a position where the government decides to open a dam to sacrifice MY home to save the home of a stranger down river - I just can't get my head around THAT ever being OK) - but with all due respect to whatever force in the universe that has dumped 15" of water on us over the last month - please stop already.

Today was one of those two dry days! Sunshine, no wind, no rain. Of course we're stuck in the office on this beautiful day, but the boys squeezed in a quick morning swim before breakfast - and a more proper 90 minute swim and romp this evening. Just a few pics of the evening activity....

May 25th: Ships passing at sea...
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May 25th: Smooooth.
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May 25th: Classic Teller water entry. He wouldn't win any style points.
Murph just stays out of the way.
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May 25th: And this boys and girls is why (even after 15" of rain this month) that I had to add water to 
the pool tonight.I think he removes about 1.5 gallons every time he got out of the pool....No, I wasn't 
going to sit poolside in a puddle to throw toys. 
iPhone 4
May 25th: Please throw the fish again....
iPhone 4

More rain and high-winds on the forecast for tomorrow. Just in time to fill the pool the rest of the way....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Session - May 23rd, 2011

Here's what we setup for some training this afternoon. Really quick session - 15 minutes of sequencing for Mr Teller-Woo - LOVED the purple weave entry  - Teller just nailed it both times I asked him for it.

Take-away from "What the Iditarod can teach us about performance dogs"

This is "part-two" of my brain-dump of Kim Henneman's lecture on her experiences working as a staff veterinarian at the 2011 Iditarod. If you've landed here, I'd suggest you go back and read part one which contains a lot of background.  For me, probably the best part of the lecture was confirmation and clarifications - and a couple of new ideas to ponder and perhaps implement into our routine...

Hydration and Electrolytes
I've long used Go-Dog or Glycocharge - which is similar to CPN Powerboost. I was not using it at full concentration though - rationalizing that dogs don't sweat, thus don't loose a lot of electrolytes. Once I started "feeding" Glyco-Charge at full concentration though I started seeing a dramatic difference in how Teller came back for his second and third runs of the day, even in some amount of heat - certainly above Teller's comfort level anyway. Dr. Kim mentioned electrolyte supplementation in the canine athlete, I mentioned glycocharge. dr. Kim's answer was interesting - her concern with glycocharge, Go-Dog, Powerboost, etc was the source of the ingredients. That it was possible that many of the ingredients were sourced in China - and thus might not be as safe as we might think them to be...

Wow! I go to a lot of lengths to feed my dogs naturally. OK, not organically - but I don't feed kibble because I worry about the source of the ingredients - and while glycocharge (and Go-Dog and PowerBoost) are made in the USA I did not investigate the origins of the ingredients. HUGE oversight on my part and something I need to catch up on before I re-order any of those products.

Dr. Kim mentioned that she recommends Gatorade to her canine sports medicine clients - primarily the powdered (drink-mix) variety as it has fewer questionable ingredients (preservatives) than the bottled variety.

Dr. Kim also recommends providing dogs with two bowls/buckets in their crates post-exercise. One plain water, the other an electrolyte mixture, saying that dogs are really good at regulating and knowing what they need. Often they will drink what they need of each. In humans Dr. Kim mentioned that if Gatorade "tastes good" then your body needs it - if "it doesn't taste good to you, you probably don't need to drink it" - the body knows.

During this conversation Saturday night I expressed some doubts about whether my dogs would drink Gatorade (of any flavor) and as luck would have it Gatorade was on sale this week at Shaws. I purchased several different colors (I don't really think they have different flavors - red tastes pretty much like orange and purple) and so far I've only offered "Yellow" (lemon-lime) to the dogs after they finished several hours of swimming - neither dog was particularly interested in the offering. Teller dipped his tongue in before walking away and Murphy walked away after a sniff. I suppose it's possible that they simply didn't NEED electrolytes, but generally after swimming (a lot of water in and out) they do want some glycocharge.  I don't think they have ever turned down a bowl of glycocharge - yummy liver flavored deliciousness and always drink all of the glycocharge that is put in front of them.

I'm also going to try some Coconut Water (essentially coconut milk from an immature coconut) - which (from Vita-Coco) is marketed to be "Loaded with the five essential electrolytes that your body craves -- including potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous -- Vita Coco has what it takes to keep you hydrated and refreshed throughout your busy day.
In fact, each serving of Vita Coco has more electrolytes and 15 times more potassium than the leading sports drink, and more potassium than two bananas (about 700 mg of potassium is in each 11.2-ounce serving size). These electrolytes work to keep the body cool, help boost poor circulation, replenish your body's fluids after exercising, and aid in the detoxification process while boosting your immune system." Again, not sure if the boys will drink it - I've bought  it a few times for myself and it was very refreshing (if served cold)!

There are some natural foods and fruits that supply natural sources of electrolytes - Dr. Kim specifically mentioned blueberries. It's hard to travel with fresh blueberries though....I might experiment with small containers of frozen blueberries to see how well they travel.

Last year I read an article about mushers supplementing their dogs with potassium gel. I can't for the life of me find that article again - DAMMIT! Anyhow, the crux of the article cited VERY low blood potassium levels after hard workouts and races. Potassium supplementation makes me nervous. There are a lot of things that can go wrong if calcium and potassium are out of whack - including heart issues. Agility dogs aren't sled dogs - Teller never works as hard physically as a sled dog. However, I think some natural sources of potassium are in fact beneficial... For us it's bananas. Bananas travel well in all seasons - though they do ripen faster in the summer, they're very portable, palatable, won't upset the tummies and perhaps actually helping upset stressed out tummies. Dr. Kim agreed with the banana supplementation at trials and also mentioned spinach for the same reason - some other foods that are high in potassium: milk, meat proteins, lima beans, avacados, I said - Bananas are MUCH easier to travel with than spinach.

Fat and Fish
One of my summer struggles has been keeping weight on Teller. He already has a pretty efficient metabolism, then I add in all of his swimming, longer days with more play and it can be very hard to keep weight on Teller - even with huge volumes of raw food. Last year I was saved by grain - Teller's weight stabilized when I started adding some whole grains pasta to his daily rations. Dr. Kim recommended adding more fat and more fish. Pork jowl is a pretty fatty cut of pork and is easy to buy in either bulk from Oma's (a special order) or from a local butcher (apparently people use pork jowel to flavor soups, roasts, vegetables, etc). On the fish side, Dr. Kim mentioned oily fish - anchovies (not packed in oil) or sardines. The lower on the food chain the better (fewer contaminates than larger fish). I already feed whole mackerel from time to time and I can purchase bulk sardines easily from Oma's. I'll add some to my next order - as we'll be in PRIME swimming season by the end of June - between now and then we have PLENTY of mackerel to keep the boys busy.

**B-A-N-A-N-A-S - I always think of Gwen Stefani's Hollaback girl. Specifically the lyrics: This $hit is bananas - B-A-N-A-N-A-S ....
The B-A-N-A-N-A-S part comes in at 2:25:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Swimmies and what's for dinner?

Yesterday's day off turned into quite the packed day - the annual NOMAD equipment restoration party, run-throughs with Teller at Show Me the Biscuit, a run at the school for Teller, then some swimmies and off to Colchester to pick up some friends to head to the Iditarod lecture. We left the house at 8:30 and didn't really stop again until 10pm.

Today's agenda was considerably less involved!
Summa-Tyme. The pool is a balmy 65 degrees!
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Woo in the foreground w/ Chuck-it Duck
Murphy in the background looking for fishie.
I liked the look of focus on Teller's face here...
And after all that swimming, pool and yard play it was still not raining (with significant rainfall 7 out of the last 7 days we're a little rained-out at this point), so it was time for the boys to have some of their outdoor dinner tonight. The boys love to eat al fresco because it always means some of the 'good' stuff! Here's what was on the menu tonight (pictured below thawing in the garage):
First course: Whole Mackerel
Second course: Performance Dog (Tripe and Trachea)
....Country Club attire required.....

Murphy makes quick work of his mackerel...They always start with the head.
Which is JUST as disturbing as it sounds.
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Having finished his own fish, Murphy offers to help Teller finish his fishy.
Murphy was eventually escorted off the patio until the second course.

Lecture: What the Iditarod can teach us about performance dogs

I was fortunate enough to attend a fantastic presentation by Utah's Kim Henneman last night, Kim is an integrative DVM who has a very strong background in canine and equine sports medicine. Dr. Kim made her way to Alaska this March to work as a race veterinarian for the longest dog sled race in the world.
Iditarod Wiki site:
Iditarod Official site:
Photo courtesy of Flauto;
subject to a Creative Commons license
One caveat to note that this post is by and large just a brain-dump (and my brain specifically) of the material presented.

I went in with one impression of the Iditarod (and of mushers in general) and left with a very different and far more favorable impression. I tend to focus on the chain-lines of dogs, bedded down outside with little shelter. And to some extent that's certainly true. But my notion of sled dogs as "tools" really wasn't true. Teams start the 1130 +/- race with a team of 16 dogs - all of which must pass a pretty serious health check prior to even hitching up to start, including a full bloodwork panel, an EKG and full physical evaluation. If values don't check out the dogs don't run - period. It's not unusual for a musher to submit a team of 20 dogs and then choose from the dogs the dogs that pass - though I'm told that a high percentage of the dogs do pass. Mushers must finish with at least 6 dogs. Dogs can be "dropped" (more on that in a moment) but dogs can not be substituted once the race starts.

Most teams are not made up of Malamutes or Siberian Huskies. The elite mushers are breeding their own stock to improve speeds, durability, endurance and overall performance. They might contain malamute or huskies - but that's not the entirety of heritage. They want double-coated breeds of course, but modern Iditirod dogs appear to have german shepherd, pointer, collie and hound in strong phenotypical representation. They have a strong market for the dogs that don't make the cut - demand for dogs that don't have the double coat or have the stamina for long races generally end up with amateur mushers.

Very few dogs are altered. Bitches are allowed to run in season. Kim showed one picture of a group of dogs on a flight back to Anchorage - 20+ dogs in an open cargo area, including one full (intact) team of dogs. One bitch who was - ummmm....attractive (and receptive) to the boys had to ride separately. And there was still a bit of a rumble in the "back of the bus".

It goes without saying that sled dogs are fit. These athletes are in phenomenal shape. I spend a great deal of time and thought on conditioning my agility dog (and my couch potato) - mushers do all that and much much more. Iditarod training is year round on the glaciers and the serious conditioning begins around labor day.
Photo courtesy of Flauto;
subject to a Creative Commons license

Lots of raw feeders on the Iditirod trail. Mushers must pan and pack for all 16 dogs throughout the entire trip. Their packs are dropped at various checkpoint locations along the way to reduce the amount of supplies that teams are carrying. If a dog is "dropped" from a team the musher MUST provide rations for that dog for the remainder of the race. Dogs are fed snacks and meals along the trail - snacks are often in the form of 'meat-sicles' - Dr. Henneman's word not mine. For meals meat is thawed and mixed with a slurry of broth, electrolytes and occasionally high-fat kibble in the event dogs go off their foods. These dogs are fed as marathon athletes (as they are). Most dogs along the race will eat about 11,000 calories per day over the 10 day race. Multiply that by sixteen dogs and WOW. That's a lot of packing.

Like the lure coursers (which was something I picked up last weekend) - race dogs aren't fed bone while they are racing...Bone taking longer to digest and sitting in the gut - racing dogs don't have time to digest bone. One of the reasons that racing kennels feed so much tripe and performance dog. It's a complete meal that is very easily digestible.

Check out this blog: This is just one musher's dog food preparation. I won't look at packing for a trial quite the same way again!!!

Stomach Ulcers
Apparently stomach ulcers are big big problems for dogs on the trail. Lots of dogs are dropped for bloody diarrhea caused by bleeding ulcers. Untreated these ulcers lead to hemmoraging, bleed-outs and deaths. Since the 2010 race all  mushers MUST feed pepcid to their race dogs along the trail. Since 2010 (and now 2011) no dogs have died on the Iditarod.

Wild animals on the trail. 
Apparently moose attacks are not uncommon on the Iditirod trail. Mushers are not allowed to hunt while on the race, they are however allowed to shoot and kill an animal threatening their team. If they kill a moose (bear, etc) they cannot continue the race until they field dress the animal (and yes they can keep the meat to feed to their packs). However, dressing a moose takes quite a bit of time - during which no team may pass that team - so it's in everyone's best interest to jump in, assist and divvy up the meat so that everyone can move forward.

Entry Fees.
Running the Iditarod is not cheap. Entry expenses alone top $5000. Plus expenses a deposit for veterinary fees for dropped dogs - all told the race costs $50,000 per musher. I found THIS budget from musher Robert Forto who is preparing to make a Iditarod bid in 2013. Mr. Forto puts the number closer to $30,000 - but I suspect that without putting too fine a point on the number it's an expensive race - FAR more than the average agility competitor spends for an entire year of campaigning.
Photo courtesy of Travis S.,
subject to aCreative Commons license

Dropped Dogs
Dogs can be dropped for any number of reasons - some mushers use the first couple of legs as training for some of their younger dogs who need exposure, dropping them after a couple hundred miles. Dogs are dropped for health reasons, physical reasons. Hydration, fever, cough. Sometimes dogs just decide to stop pulling. You're only as fast as your slowest dog - so dogs get dropped. Now, here's another piece that I found fascinating...what happens to dropped dogs? Essentially there are teams of veterinarians who are specifically assigned to care for the dropped dogs. There's a papertrail for every race dog - and that paperwork follows the dropped dogs as well. Before mushers pull out of a checkpoint they must provide all food and medications for any dropped dogs.
Dropped dogs are coded by need - red dogs (obviously high priority), Blue dogs (high and low blue) are any dogs on medication - and then White dogs (no medical conditions). Dogs are all flown back to Anchorage to await pickup by the musher (or the musher's agents).

Net take-away.
For me it was a whole new respect for mushers. I'm not particularly fond of the cold, cold wind, snow, ice and the like. To WANT to be there, to love the sport, to love the dogs, to challenge one's limitation - all qualities I can appreciate and respect.

This has gotten a bit too long for one post - So I'll have to add the "lessons for performance dogs" in another post. Look for a part two shortly...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I tried once again to get back into "A Game of Thrones", but once again couldn't get into the storyline...I suppose a 33 hour audiobook is bound to start slowly as characters are developed, but I'm not feeling the love for it right now. Since I discovered and so thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeper I decided to go back and download another of her novels - this time "Garden Spells", like a well worn pair of jeans it was easy to settle into this listen.

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers.
Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants - from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor.
Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys - except for Claire's rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.
When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire's quiet life is turned upside down - along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy - if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom - or with each other.

I don't know why I'm drawn to "southern" novels....I'm a born and bred New England girl, suffering through miserable winters, rejoicing at the rejuvenation that comes with spring in Vermont - but I'm drawn to southern novels: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, The Help, The Peach Keeper and now Garden Spells. As refreshing as sweet tea (which is entirely too sweet to be refreshing), it's always fun to slip into that culture - an easy, over-romanticized way of life. I enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells for the same reason that I enjoyed her most recent novel The Peach Keeper - a hint of magic, a smooth storyline that could be picked up and put down again as the week progressed. The dramatic bits certainly could have been more dramatic and the characters could have been more developed - but ultimately a satisfying listen.

Garden Spells was written by Sarah Addison Allen and published by Brillance Audio. Garden Spells was narrated by Susan Ericksen and has an audible release date of May 23, 2008. Garden Spells has an unabridged runtime of 7 hours 48 minutes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's in your dog food? It might not be what you think...

I came across an interesting post today - a copy of a letter sent to Evanger's from the FDA regarding some violations of their license. The original FDA letter is here - but the crux of the problem is that Evanger's Lamb and Rice canned food actually contained no lamb (instead contained bovine matter) and Evanger's grain-free Duck formula did not contain any duck. How can that happen?
Evanger's Grain-Free Duck

From the FDA letter to Evangers:
We found that you offered for sale (b)(4) Lamb and Rice Dog Food which was adulterated. Under Section 402(b)(2) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 342(b)(2), a food is deemed to be adulterated if any substance has been substituted wholly or in part therefore.  Our analytical sample results of this product revealed that a substance (lamb) was not detected in the product and another ingredient (bovine material) detected in the product was substituted therefore. Furthermore, this product was misbranded.  Under Section 403(b) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 343(b), a food is deemed to be misbranded if it is offered for sale under the name of another food. This product was offered for sale under the name of “(b)(4) Lamb and Rice Dog Food.”  However, the analytical sample results did not detect the presence of lamb, but detected the presence of bovine material.

This discovery - though I never fed any Evanger's products - is at the heart of why I feed my dogs raw food. You just don't know what is in that bag of kibble. If consumers cannot trust labels and they cannot trust the  companies producing dog food. What if you had a dog sensitive to beef proteins? You're spending MORE (about $1.50 for a 6 ounce can) to buy a semi-premium canned dog food which has the following ingredients on the label:  DUCK, WATER SUFFICIENT FOR PROCESSING, LIVER, GUAR GUM

Sure, beef is cheaper than lamb, beef liver is cheaper than duck. If no one is the wiser they might very well save thousands of dollars a year selling beef labeled as lamb and duck.

Does anyone really feel good about feeding their dogs mystery meat? What about the adverse reactions that might have happened with dogs allergic to whatever protein source was in that can of duck? Lastly, if that can of "Duck,Water, Liver and Guar Gum" didn't actually contain duck - what did it contain? Just liver? Just guar gum? Chicken beaks? Applesauce?

As disturbing as the problems with Evanger's protein contents, there's another line buried in the FDA warning letter - specifically: In addition, your firm was not able to provide processing and production records upon written demand, as required by 21 C.F.R. 108.35(h), for products manufactured in 2009.

What? Evanger's was unable to come up with manufacturing records? One has to speculate that perhaps no records were produced because producing the records might in fact be more embarrassing to Evanger than simply not providing said records. Think about all the scary things that have gone on in pet food plants over the last 10 years that have ultimately come to light - now imagine all the things we don't know about.

With raw food I can see what I'm feeding my dogs - sometimes it's not pretty (even in the ground raw there are large chunks of organs and connective tissue), but I know what's in there. I see what's in there. I know the company that produces the foods my dogs eat. I trust Oma's Pride raw and The Honest Kitchen - they've earned my trust and I KNOW that package of chicken necks are in fact chicken necks, that chunk of apple in Embark is in fact, an apple...Did you know that the foods from Honest Kitchen are the only one dog food products that can legally carry the "human grade" (for human consumption) all the way through the manufacturing process? Lots of dog foods advertise "human grade" - but in most facilities the product loses that certification through either adulteration, contamination or as a result of the process. "Human Grade" means that absolutely everything that goes into that plant MUST ALSO be human grade - USDA inspected for human consumption.

Yes, It costs a little more to pay attention to details, to make sure that ingredients are properly sourced and tested - but that is the responsibility of a dog food manufacturer. It's our responsibility as consumers to hold manufacturers to a higher standard and to do right by our pets. Do your research!

Evanger's Website:
FDA Letter to Evanger's:
FDA Petfood site:
Oma's Pride:
The Honest Kitchen:
Truth about Pet Food - limited ingredient lies:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The first swimmies of 2011...

A pictorial entry tonight (click the images for larger versions)...
Teller didn't need to be asked twice - he was the first one in...
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Murph wasn't too far behind.
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Teller (front) and Murphy
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Murphy and Fishy
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Murphy (coming) and Teller (going)
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Teller cutting through the water.
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Teller's not so graceful water entry, Murphy with the fish.
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Teller's sea monster impression.
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Teller looking particularly big-headed.
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If I didn't know better, I'd think Murph was smiling!
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Murphy's post-swim ZOOOOOOOMIES!
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More Murphy zoomies!
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Spikey headshot!!!
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