a formal introduction

I’ve always been a dog person. I’m not one of those people who have dog-print pillows lining their couches or custom-fit, personalized jackets for their dog. No disrespect to anyone who does, of course. I don’t necessarily want this to become a place where I ramble on about how perfect my dogs are (because they’re not — just today, they decided to chomp at our bedposts like beavers… naughty, naughty), but I do think it’s important to introduce them as mention of them will be sprinkled in every now and again.

I would talk about them all day, every day if people would tolerate me. I’m trying to learn how to stop bragging about them.

Oh, I do love them — and their feet smell lovely.

Quinn Riggs

I have had a dog or two all my life, but for the first year I spent in Iowa, my boyfriend and I were in transition without anything furry running about our living space. Of course, my main motivation for getting my own dog was to have a dog, but it was also to force me to become more active outdoors. My dog was to become my gym membership and it worked, up until the blizzard season of the Midwest hit us. Since then, I need motivation to even leap onto my treadmill. Luckily, warmer weather is right around the corner!

Quinn (4.17.2011) is a vizsla/lab mix that we adopted from a local animal shelter at 3 months old. Her legs are a mile long and she’s skinny, skinny, skinny — and, yes, I do feed her.

Riggs (10.16.2012) is a mastiff/lab mix that we also found at the same shelter we adopted Quinn from year and a half prior. Clearly, he’s going to be quite large. He’s much more confident than she is and makes noises like a lawnmower.

This is how they spend most of their time:

I thought I’d write up a little hodge-podge of questions and answers because, hey, I find that sort of thing interesting and perhaps there’s someone out there who does, as well.

On rescuing a dog:

Growing up, all of my family dogs were purchased by a breeder for my father to train and hunt with. They were all purebred labs, save for one dog that was my mother’s baby for years. They were exceptionally wonderful dogs, but they weren’t “mine” — they were “ours.” Not to sound cheesy, but I firmly believe that there’s a smidge of a connection between you and your future dog — when you know, you know. When the time came to choose between buying or rescuing, I knew that I wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter. It was also helpful that the basics are normally taken care of prior to adoption: spay/neuter, micro-chipping, and first doses of medication. It certainly cuts down on the costs of your initial vet consultation.

We looked at several litters, but I always found a reason to keep looking, until we came across Quinn’s photograph on a local rescue’s web site.

Unfortunately, I learned quickly that rescue dogs certainly do not come with health guarantees. At less than a year old, Quinn was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and we later learned that her sibling also had symptoms, as well. The owners of her sibling decided to put their dog down to “avoid future expenses.” If my distaste is not clear through my quotations, suffice it to say that canine hip dysplasia is definitely manageable at a young age.

In fact, after a summer of makeshift backyard hydrotherapy (we bought a $90 32″ pool at Target and a $20 dog life jacket as we couldn’t afford the outrageous quotes we received to have her in a supervised underwater treadmill), these supplements,  and a fish oil pill once a day, her symptoms (which were severe) have all but disappeared. Thanks to our little therapy sessions, we now have a dog that refuses to leave the dog park unless we let her swim away in the pond.

If you have any questions about canine hip dysplasia and would like to exchange thoughts, do let me know.

Does it matter what you feed your dog?

It sounds like an absurd question, doesn’t it? “Of course it does” is clearly the answer, but there’s nutritional differences between dry dog food that’s offered on your local store’s shelves. I’m not about to lecture anyone as to what they should feed their dog as I realize that cost is a factor — but I do think it’s important to do your own research as I had assumed what my family fed my dogs growing up was “fine” as was surprised to realize it was quite subpar. I would suggest analyzing different options through sites such as Dog Food Advisor as they’re one of the most unbiased sites I’ve come across. Dog Food Chat’s forums are also full of a plethora of useful information. A few things keep in mind when researching food are: the protein level of the food, the protein source, and the company’s history with recalls.

In my personal opinion, I’ve found Fromm’s to be an exceptional brand. I also find BOGO Bowl to be an interesting idea — if you buy a bag, they’ll donate a bag to an affiliated shelter (which I’ve seen first-hand — the shelter that we adopted from has an entire storage room of dog food from this company simply from donations). I’ve never personally fed it, though.

You can purchase quality food at sites such as Chewy.com for wonderful prices (and excellent customer service from experience), but I’d definitely suggest taking a look at your locally-owned dog food stores. They often offer rewards programs where if you purchase a certain number of bags or spend a certain amount of money, your next bag is free. If you know you will be feeding a certain brand for quite a while, it’s definitely a good idea to take advantage of available rewards programs.

For more health ideas and articles, try visiting my Pinterest board devoted to all things canine.

I’m worried about getting a second dog because __________.

We spent a lot of time questioning whether or not we were prepared for an additional dog. Would she like him? What if she didn’t like him? What if we didn’t like him? Could we return him? What if he gets too big for our house? Looking back, it was quite ridiculous of us. I almost feel cruel for not getting him sooner. While she had a great life prior to his joining our family, it became clear — very quickly — that he would keep her far more entertained than just our presence ever could.

So, if you’re considering a second dog, don’t over-think the process. Don’t worry about your “baby” and whether or not she will be jealous (note: she will be and there will be a small transition period, but it’s so worth it) — in the end, it will be more than worth it. Local shelters also usually offer “foster-to-adopt” programs if you inquire, as well. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you’re still helping the dog out during your transition period.


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