Nutritious and delicious for your dog

real food for dogs

What do you feed your dog? Kibble? Raw? Real? I feed mostly real. The little one is one his way to completely real but we are taking our time. I do not want a puppy with diarrhea, no thank you.

What the heck is “real food?”

Real - being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary:

Food - any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, promote growth etc.

Okay, so real food is good for you versus highly prepared food. Kibble and/or prepared food can sustain us and our dogs but does it allow us to thrive? I think not.

Do my dogs eat the best of the best every day, no. But, neither do I. I try to eat really healthy most of the time and I try to feed very nutritious food to my dogs most of the time.

The most important thing for me in feeding real is variety. The more variety you feed the more nutrients you feed; that is as long as you are feeding real food. As far as cooked or raw, I feed mostly cooked but throw in raw when I can sneak it in. Elsa is not a raw fan although I’m sure that Riggs will be.

I feed lots of different types of animal protein; which is the most important part of a dogs meal. When I cook it I just barely cook it if they are eating it right away. If I am making batch food I will cook it a bit more but it is never over cooked.

Beef - 20% protein/3 oz

Chicken - 25% protein/3 oz

Cod - 15% protein/3 oz

Egg - 6% protein/1 large

Salmon - 17% protein/3 oz

So these numbers are solely from the animal protein. Much of the problem with dog food is that the protein percentage is taken from meat by products and or plant protein. Things like beaks and feathers can be used to up the protein level in food but is not easily utilized by dogs. Also plant protein is not the same as animal protein and there is lies the problem. Dogs need meat.

Along with quality animal protein I feed veggies. Lots of different leafy ones, cabbage, carrots, green beans etc. These are either wilted down or cooked enough to be easily digested by my dogs.

I sometimes throw in potato, sweet potato, squash and other things. Variety, variety.

I am not a big supplement person; not for humans or for dogs. But I do offer a few extra things like goat kefir, cranberry concentrate, krill oil etc These are never given on a daily basis but every so often when I think about it.

I am not a science type person and think that we have been pushed into a state of fear when feeding our dogs. We have been made to believe that we “cannot” do it on our own and that “dog food” is the way to go. Please feed variety. Even if you just want to feed dry kibble; switch it up and offer many different protein sources. Do your research and feed the best that you can.

Add a bit of real everyday. The more variety that you feed your dog the more their system is capable of accepting lots of different foods.

We can do better for our dogs


With camera in hand, my sister and I head out to visit her breeder.  Finally after all these years, I was going to meet Dawn; the woman behind all the stories.  Sadly I was meeting her after the passing of my sister's much loved Ruby.  

Turning into the driveway, I scanned the springtime terrain that was trying to escape the winter cover.  The ground was very wet and muddy; giving off the very familiar smell of spring.  Even though April is a messy time of year in Canada; it carries with it the hope of sunshine and warmer temperatures of summer to come.  

Getting out of the car, I stepped over a big puddle to avoid getting a soaker (foot submerged in water).  We head towards the house where we got our first sneak peek at the Tollers who were enjoying the outdoors in a fenced area off to the left.  The door opened and we were welcomed in with open arms and hugs.  Dawn and my sister (Bonnie) are family; family through the mutual love of a very special dog.

After our welcome we sat in the living room and waited for the releasing of the hounds.  Excited barking could be heard before a sea of red charged through the doorway and headed our way.   Three Tollers (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers) and a small but mighty Toy Poodle welcomed us to their home.  Immediately after our welcome the retrieving started.  Tollers love to retrieve.  

Our conversation began with who was related; where everyone came from and breeding.  Dawn then opened a book that held a wealth of information.  I was amazed as she sifted through the family (Toller) records with the topic turning to Ruby's siblings.  Two siblings remained and Dawn shared the history of the rest.  It amazed me that she kept track of each and every family member (Toller) who had left her charge over the years.  The families who had adopted a Toller from Dawn were indeed family.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

It is rare to find someone who is as passionate about dogs as I am but Ruby's breeder (Dawn) is most definitely that and then some.  I have not met a more conscientious breeder.  These are the type of breeders we need to support.  We talked about extensive health testing, health, breeding and temperament testing in detail.  I learned a lot as Dawn shared her Toller mission with us. 

Throughout our discussion Dawn shared a great deal of information that she had learned over the years.  We talked about a wonderful company that focuses on changing the future of dogs called Avidog.  She also explained Nomographs, which I have never heard of.   Nomographs are done by testing a mother's blood to see what level of antibodies are being passed to her puppies in  her colostrum.  This lets a breeder know when it is best to vaccinate puppies.  This explains why puppies given vaccinations too early can get ill.  Fascinating. 

Between the canine conversation, I tried to capture a few photos of the dogs.  It was clear that the little Toy poodle was the boss.  Easily outweighed by all the red dogs she was confident and happy to rule the roost.  

As our visit neared the end we head outside and toward the kennels.  Dawn also runs a boarding kennel.  We were going to meet Ruby's brother who is one of the two siblings remaining from her litter.  As soon as we set eyes on him, it was impossible not to see the resemblance.  Bonnie knelt down to meet the old man; a link to her much loved Ruby.  It was a moment; one that most of us never get to experience.  

Meeting this old man was an honor for me.

Meeting this old man was an honor for me.


Before we left we were lucky to meet the future of Dragonluck kennels.  The new members who will continue the legacy of filling the position of much loved family members with their offspring.  

Perhaps the future.  

Perhaps the future.  

As we drove away, back down the driveway and head for home we reflected on our visit.  This is what a breeder should be.  Dawn has a wealth of knowledge, a caring heart for dog and human; with a drive to do better and desire to know more.  This is what you want to find when you are searching for a breeder; no matter what breed you are looking for.  This is who we should be supporting.   

The Queen

The Queen

Protecting our dogs-United Airlines


It's our job to protect our dogs.  We stand between our dog and everyone else; creating a shield of human guardian protection.  We are appointed this very serious obligation when we add a dog to our family.  That dog then becomes a member of the inner family circle and protected as such.   

I want to address the incident that was in the news yesterday.  A young French Bulldog died after being placed in the overhead compartment of a United Airlines flight.  The owner has stated that she was told to put the dog in the compartment.  If she was told that her dog needed to be placed in the overhead compartment, she should have declined (if she thought that it was not a good idea).  If the employees of United Airlines persisted, she should have left the plane.  

How much protection do we owe our dogs?  Complete and absolute.  

Common sense dictates that free flowing and fresh air does not exist in the airplane overhead.  How any canine guardians would allow their dog to be placed in the compartment and then have the hatch shutdown, I just do not understand.  I would think that most guardian would say "NO," at this type of request.  That and then follow up by standing strong on the protection of their dog. 

This is such a sad scenario in so many ways.  Not to mention a horrific death for the dog.  It is our job to protect those living beings in our care.  This never had to happen.  So many humans failed this dog but the sole responsibility lies on the dog's guardian.  

Guardian - a person who guards, protects, or preserves.

It's our job, bottom line.

I am not pointing fingers; I am simply stating that our dog's well being and safety is in our hands.  We as guardians should never do what we deem dangerous with our dogs; especially at someone else's request. 

Humans failed this dog.



Intact Tail

When the shutter snapped on my cell phone, I hoped that I'd caught it, and I did.  I was so happy to see this shot as I filed through the images of Elsa, Yogi and Lucy on their play date.  Shooting with my cell phone is far different than using my big Canon Camera.  My Samsung is not fast, has a lag time and can't shoot at the speed of my big one; so when I actually capture something that I hoped that I had, I'm stoked.  

I am also stoked over the number of breeders leaving tails intact these days. 

Stoked - exhilarated; excited.

This was the shot I was hoping for.  Elsa using her tail to the max.  She scoops her friends in and keeps them close.  I have many photos of her doing the same thing to Luke over the years.  Below is just one.

It is happening.  Many breeders are stopping, thinking and choosing what is best for our dogs.  There really is no other option if you are honestly doing what is best for our dogs.  Amputating tails because someone in the dark ages said it should be done is...well, stupid.  

Years ago when I began my life with Standard Poodles, I hated the idea of their tails being amputated.  Back then there really was no option, they are chopped at three days old and there were no breeders not doing it.  But things are changing baby, big time.  I am so happy to see all the tails and nails being left intact.  That's right, they are keeping their parts.  More and more are seeing the light.  :)  

There are definitely options now; you can seek out breeders who leave tails intact.  This is not just about Standard Poodles either, all dogs, breeds and mixes need their tails.  

I often sit and ponder the idea of amputating tails these days.  I do not breed and I never intend on breeding dogs but if I did!  I cannot imagine seeing all those puppies with their little tails and then chopping them off; it truly is barbaric.  I can't stand seeing day old puppies and then the follow up day 3 or 4 with tails removed.  I can't even.  

I am seeing Rottweillers, Boxers and Springer Spaniels with full tails.  I LOVE IT.  Leave them the way they were meant to be.  They are popping up everywhere.  And if you've never seen a particular breed with it's tail left as it should be, simply google the breed in Europe.  You'll see lots of examples of breeds who have their tail left as they were born.  

I love all dogs.  If their tail has been removed then it it sad for them and has nothing to do with the dog.  It is the humans who do this, and this is what I am against.  Many people have asked "what if I was going to rescue and the rescue had it's tail docked?"  Well, that has nothing to do with what I stand for as long as intact tails.  A rescue is just that, a rescue.  Finding a breeder who believes in leaving dogs the way that they are meant to be is something entirely different.  

No dog should have it's tail removed unless there is a medical reason for it.  Bottom line.  



Pet Sitter?

Finding someone who will care for your dog like you do is not easy. But they are out there.

Finding someone who will care for your dog like you do is not easy. But they are out there.

I've been looking for another pet sitter.  I have a pet sitter now who I love but the problem with having a great sitter is that he/she is not always available.  I have to say that it is a discouraging task; call after call, interview after interview results in just more work.  how many “REALLY?” moments can I have while searching for a pet sitter?

The most troubling thing to me is what pet sitters consider to be sitting.  “We’ll arrive around 7-8pm, stay overnight and leave by 7am” one girl told me over the phone.  “REALLY?”  I said and then she went on to say that they could come back for a 30-minute visit midday if I required. 

I have a protocol for interviewing sitters.  Get a recommendation from another canine guardian, make a call, doing a phone interview; and if they get through the interview call then I interview in person.  Most never make it past the phone call and only three have ever made it past the in person interview.  We’ve been very lucky to have had what I’d consider to be the best of the best.  But how could I possibly think about going away and not leaving my dog/s with the best? I couldn’t.

I have a lot of questions when I interview and most sitters have probably never been questioned like this before.  I’m a need to know kind of person and I most definitely need to know the facts if I am ever to even consider someone for the position of taking care of Elsa. 

·       What does your day entail?

·       What time do you arrive and leave?

·       Where do you live?

·       Do you have dogs?

·       Do you work alone?

·       How many dogs do you walk during the day?

Although I have a great number of questions, other than specific questions I don’t talk much, I listen.  Much can be heard by reading between the lines of answers.  It is the little things that are said or are not said that can give you the most information. 

If they make it through the phone interview and we meet in person, then body language is what I watch mostly.  People can tell you anything but their body language does not lie.  I can get a read on people very, very quickly.  My current sitter took about three minutes before I knew that I would love her. 

Watching the “sitter” with your dog is very important.  I had one woman come to interview and when Luke licked her hand she gave me a creepy sort of smile and said “that’s okay, I have to shower anyway.” Don’t let the door hit you too hard on the way out lady.  J  Dog sitter?  REALLY?

So my search continues.  Great sitters are out there.  They are not easy to find but if you have the patience to sift through all the mediocre you can find the gems.  I have and have had the best, I am not about to lower the bar. 

There are people who just want someone or some robot to let their dog out to pee.  I’m not one of those.  Having been a dog trainer for so many years, I have heard the pet sitter horror stories. I think that too many sitters start out doing one thing and very quickly become overbooked and callous to what they are doing.

A Pet Sitter is someone is a replacement for us when we have to be away.  Some people may be okay with hiring a robotic sheep herder, I am not.  As a canine guardian, I do my best for Elsa.  I am not about to put her into the hands of someone who does not understand the importance or definition of real care.    

Do I have high expectations?  Do I expect a lot?  Is my Pet Sitter bar extremely high?  Freaking right it is. 




Moving Through the Loss of Your Canine Companion

It is done, and all I can say is what a write.  It is a good thing that I don't actually write on paper because it would be completely ruined by the end of it all.  There have been many tears shed over this book; but it has helped me to heal immensely.  I hope that it can help those of you who may be going through a loss down the road, right now or in the past to heal just a little.  

The book covers everything from, knowing when, through the loss and grief and coming out the other side.  A special addition is at the end of the book with a few stories by others who have lost their dogs along with my own and after death experiences.

The book is available by clicking on the above image or it is also available on Amazon in print or ebook form just by typing in the title. 

I hope that you enjoy it.  It has been written from the heart, most definitely.  


Fat Dogs

Elsa gains weight easily so I am constantly monitoring. 

Elsa gains weight easily so I am constantly monitoring. 

This morning I want to talk about fat dogs; those who carry an extra few pounds to the morbidly obese. So many dogs suffer from being overweight and it is sad because it can diminish their quality of life drastically.  Even a few pounds can make a big difference in how a dog moves and feels. Depending on the size of the dog, a few pounds might be an 1/8th of the dogs full weight.  Even on a large dog, a few pounds can be radical.  

Society today looks at the athletic body of a dog and thinks "too skinny."  Keeping our dogs lean and fit is our job.  They are not feeding themselves and they often don't have the opportunity to exercise themselves.  So it is solely on us, the weight that they bear is ours.  

I see sooooo many dogs that are far too heavy and their owners haven't a clue.  When I am out on a training session and working with a heavy dog; I will at some point let the owner know.  It is not easy and depending on the person, I must take great care with how I deliver the news.  It usually comes as a huge shock to the owner.  I'm not quite sure why people don't see that their dogs are too heavy.  Perhaps because fit shape is not something that we are programmed to see.  We simply see our wonderful dog that we love, extra sponge and all.  

Dogs that carry to much weight are prone to joint pain and injury, decreased stamina, heat intolerance, diabetes, kidney failure and many other ailments that are linked to being overweight.  We need to educate ourselves to see what is too much and what is too little.  

Diet and exercise go hand in hand, just like they do for ourselves.  I am currently cutting calories and trying to drop a few pounds, not easy, especially because I have an ankle injury right now and have to wear a stupid boot.  It is so much easier for us to drop weight on our dogs than ourselves.  They eat what we give them and they exercise when we offer it.  Eating too many calories for the amount of movement during a day adds pounds of fat.  So what is the answer?  

First we need to teach ourselves what fit looks like.  Our dogs should have a nice svelte waistline.  Each breed and mix is different but every dog should have a waist.  From the top looking down they should go in at their waist.  You should be able to easily feel ribs, enough to be able to count them.  Think in terms of a thin layer of neoprene over the ribs.  

Every extra pound that your dog carries, brings with it more work to move.  Many dogs get caught in the vicious cycle of carrying too many pounds so they stop moving as much which adds extra pounds.  It is much the same as humans but they suffer more because of their size.  A few pounds means a lot on a dog.  

Like humans, each dog is an individual.  Some will be hard to get any weight on, some will gain weight too easily.  It is up to us to keep our dogs in peak condition.  Diet and exercise, it's what it is all about.  Too much garbage food will add weight; too little movement will add weight.  Together they can be a deadly combination.  

If your dog is carrying around too much weight, time to get to work.  It is actually easy for dogs to drop weight.  Don't go the route of "low fat" diets.  Cut back on quality food and get moving.  It is all up to us.  


Dogs and Hot Weather

T his little man was comfortably panting.  What a cutie.  :) 

This little man was comfortably panting.  What a cutie.  :) 

There is a huge focus on dogs and hot weather right now.  Finally people are starting to realize that the car on a hot day is not the place for your dog.  Although there are still people who do it; and I've personally had to hunt people down to save their dogs.  On the flip side, there are those who think that too much emphasis is being put on dogs and hot weather.  They feel that too many car windows are being broken; they also think that too many people are being falsely accused of heat crimes with their dogs.  

I think that the attention to dogs being left in cars is good.  Perhaps it will save a few dog's lives.  

But what about exercising our dogs in the heat?  This morning Elsa and I were out early; it was warm but not as warm as yesterday.  We were lucky to squeeze in a full fifteen minutes of power chuck it.  Half of the field was shaded which was great; but I still kept a very close eye on Elsa's body.  I always get out early or late with Miss Elsa; although some mornings are hot early.  So I watch her tongue and her body.  

What I'm watching for:

Excessive panting.  Dogs pant, they have to pant as they get warm; but fast uncontrollable panting is different.  It is essential to know what normal panting is.

Foam.  Once a dog starts to foam, they are overheating.  Typically the panting becomes frantic before that.  

Slowing down.  If at any point she starts to slow down, time to stop.  

These three things are most important.  Often a dog's tongue will hang out the side; this can be a sign of overheating but it can also be how a dog's tongue is so you need to know your dog.  

You also want to be sure that your dog can cool quickly.  Elsa had already stopped panting by the time we got home which meant that she was perfectly fine after her power workout.  

Being environmentally aware is so very important with dogs.  I see people out in the middle of the day running their dog down paved roads.  The dog is foaming at the mouth with their tongue hanging very far out the side, not good at all.  It's actually horribly cruel to do this to your dog.  

There are folks who think that we should work or exercise our dogs in the heat, makes them tough.  But given the choice, our dogs would choose not to.  If you ever watch a pack of wolves in the summer, they will not be out hunting midday; they are much smarter than that.  Our dogs are also that smart; and in the heat they will head for the shade.  

Something to remember as well is that old, sick, disabled or flat faced dogs will suffer more from the heat.  And dogs that carry extra weight are more susceptible to heat issues.   No dog should be fat, even a few pounds can make a huge difference in a dogs health.  More on that in the next blog.  

It really is all about common sense; sadly something that seems to be void in much of life today.  If I get out of the car at the park and it feels really hot; I may walk around the park once with Elsa and then jump in the Xterra with the AC on.  Today gave us a nice window to get Elsa a power workout in; it is so good for her MOJO.  :)  Just like us, dogs feel good when they exercise.  

Not sure what the day will hold for our evening retrieving; it might just be done inside in the AC.  Stay cool everyone.