Hello my lovelies,
It’s time for my second weekly column! I am still receiving she-mails from many of your mamas and he-mails from your dads. Please tell them thank you, ok?
I am trying to reply to as many of your requestions as I can, but it’s hard work for only one dog. So please don’t become angered if I am delayed in getting back to you. Deal?
Dear Bug…my name is Iris and I live in Minnesota. I am a super chewer and my Mom likes to leave my kongs stuffed with peanut butter. I LOVE that but now the vet says I am getting too tubby. What does you Mom put in your Kong to keep you happy? I love all kinds of snacks and veggies too. Love, Iris ps. I think you are cute.
Dear Tubby Iris,
I can’t blame a gal for loving the peanut butters, but it’s no wonder you’re getting tubby! Is it ONLY peanut butters going into your kongs, without anything else? I don’t know how to read nutritional labels or anything, but I think that peanut butters are packed with fats, proteins, and calories — all important things for us dogs, but in moderation! I am allergenic with peanut butters so I can’t eat them, but my brother can, and he says mama never gives him more than a tablespoon or two in a day!
Luckily, there are many other yummies your mama can put in your kongs for you that are more health-like than just peanut butters. Here are some of our favorites:
- cooked green veggies (broccoli or kale or green beans or spinach or . . .) chopped up and mixed with mashed sweet (or not sweet) potato or canned tuna or mashed beans (lentils, pinto, etc) and a little fish oil or yogurt to get it wetter, then frozen
- kibbles mixed with canned dog food, then frozen
- carrots or celery or cabbage or other crunchful foods diced and mashed with a little banana and plain yogurt or peanut butter, then frozen
- frozen berries and chopped cooked greens (collards, kale, spinach), mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese, then frozen
Basically, our favorite recipes include something crunchy-not-mushy (kibbles, berries, raw or cooked chopped veggies) or something semi-mushy (potatoes, canned tuna, cooked greens) and something mushy to help it stick together (canned dog food, plain yogurt, banana, peanut butters). Tell your mama to mix it all up and freeze until it’s solid.
If she wants to get all fancy-like, she can give everything a whirl in the food processor and stuff it into your kongs and bones that way — but it all depends on whether you’re a smooth or crunchy peanut butters kind of gal!
PS- Here’s me helping mama with one of my favorite stuffers, sweet potatoes!
Dear Doodlebug, What is a “good fit” for a harness? xxxooxxx, Purl, Melo, Bounty
Dear Three Musketeers,
Here’s me modeling one of my several harnesses. Doesn’t it make me look even handsomer?
I’ll tell you what makes this harness most excellent. First, it does not rub me in my armpits when I walk. If yours rubs in your armpits, it’s not a good fit. Second, it doesn’t squeeze my shoulders together (like certain popular harnesses do). That makes it comfy and more orthopedically sound, since it won’t give me any muscular or skeletal injuries if I get real excited and jump toward a squirrel, yikes! Third — and this is a special thing about the way I learned to walk on a harness), it has two connection points — one on the back and another on the chest. So when mama walks me, she actually has a double-ended leash with one clip attached to each point! I don’t know why this makes me feel safer, but it does — and it helps us communicate with each other better. Mama says to think of it as walking with somebody guiding you gently holding both of your shoulders, rather than just pushing and pulling on the back of your shirt (or the front of your shirt). Much safer and more pleasant, right?
Some of the harnesses we like the best are the Control-Ease (my Chick uses this one) and the Freedom Harness (I uses this one), if you’re looking for a most excellent one!
Dear Opie & Gemma & Mama,
What a most excellent question you are asking me! It was so interesting, in fact, that my brother, dad, mama and I thought and talked about it for a long long time. We have many different kinds of feelings about your question — some of which are conflicting — but in the end we came up with a bottom line, and it is this: the most important thing to us is that everybody be proud of their dog and treat it with love and respect. People who take pride in their dog (often via an activity) are probably more likely to feed it well, take it to the vet, and form a strong, trusting relationship with it. At least, that’s our opinion. And if a variety of activities and types of “image” help more people find healthy ways to be proud of their dog, then we think that’s great! For us, our mama and dad’s love and respect means agili-dogging, hikes, lots of snuggles, learning tricks, and plenty of dog modelings. And it’s easy for us to assume that everybody who loves a pit bull dog loves it for those kinds of reasons. But that would be kind of narrow minded.
There are as many types of excellent dog owners as there are spots under my brother the Chick’s white furs. Some take pride in their dog by dressing it up in tutus, others by maintaining its natural beauty, others by making it a therapy dog, others yet by helping it to excel at a dog sport like frisbee dog, and still others are very, very proud of their champion weight-pull dog. And we don’t think we have a right to believe that the pit bull dog owners who work hard to build their dogs’ muscle mass and use weight pull training as their primary form of excercise are any less excellent, as “breed ambassadors,” than those whose dogs wear tiaras and tutus and swim for exercise.
Here’s another thought: all kinds of people are drawn to dogs like me and my brother (and those dogs with many more toughnesses in the photo you sent us). Some people do want to portray a “macho” image with their large and muscular dogs, and that’s ok, right? And isn’t it even better if they do it via a positive means — like organized weight pull competition — than something abusive or illegal? Let us know what you think!
Dear Doodlebug, I live where it gets very cold and snowy and, even worse, the roads are heavily salted to melt the ice. This makes my pads burn and I don’t like to go outside, and I frustrate my mom by removing the boots she puts on my paws (this girl likes to be freeeeeeee). Mom already makes me work for my food–sometimes I give her the stink eye because of it. But I need other ways to get my crazies out. So, any suggestions on indoor activities to help exercise/exorcise the mind and body? Thanks, Shelby the Wonder Dog
Dear Shelby the Snowdog,
I myself am a native Texan, but my brother once told me tales of snowy lands where your paws get froze and you actually wish you were wearing more than one sweater. I can’t imagine it! But here in Texas it sometimes gets most very hot — so hot that you can burn your little pads on your tootsies if you walk on the street while the sun is out, can you believe it? And so, I think I know about the need for exercise/exorcise that your writings are about.
Here are some thoughts on how to keep yourself busy during those snowish winters. First, mental exercise is even better than physical exercise for getting the sillies out and exhausting a dog. A three-mile run may take the edge off, but 10 minutes of trick training, a 10 minute puzzle game, and a 5 minute game of fetch (with rules!) will make you dog-gone pooped!
In our climate-controlled house we play all kinds of physical and mental games to keep me and my brother nappish all day long. Those include:
- Fetchings (which I just learned last week and am loving very much!);
- Trick training (we like this book for new trick learnings);
- Scavenge (where mama puts me in the sit-stays and hides kibbles or other treats all over the house, then releases me to scavenger hunt for them);
- Mini agilities in our living room (using benches, brooms, and chairs);
- Hide-and-seek (where mama puts us both in the sit-stays together and then goes and hides and releases us and we have to find her);
- and of course many puzzles of different kinds — frozen kongs and bones, other kibble-dispensing puzzles, and sometimes kibble puzzles made of non-dog-things like a pile of towels with kibbles hiding all throughout them or even a big box with paper inside and kibbles. Check out how many funs I had and thinkings I had to do to get the kibbles out of this box the other day:
Enjoy your indoor adventures!
Dear Doodlebug, My mom has been on this thing called a sabbatical for the past several months, which was great because we got to hang out a lot more than usual. Now, although I have separation anxiety, mom gives me a few toys stuffed with food (kibble, apples, pumpkin, yum) around the house, and I am good. I am afraid that my mom is going to have the worse separation anxiety when she has to leave me more often now. What can I do to keep my human’s separation anxiety at a minimum (I don’t think her colleagues will like if she chews their books like I used to do)? Signed, Concerned Canine
Well aren’t you full of thoughts for your mama, worrying about her being separationally anxious about you when she goes back to the Workplace to stare at a glowing rectangle all day! Here are a few things you can do to help her not be so anxiousful. First, make sure she brings lots of snacks to chew on so she doesn’t chew on her colleagues’ books. Second, maybe you can pack her a giant paper box full of paper and kibbles to work on when she starts to feel worried? Would it fit in her car? Third, tell her that she can take Rescue Remedy. Many people give it to their dogs to help with the anxieties, but people can take it too! Mama’s boss swears by it. May be worth a try! And fourth, if she has an iPhone and a computer with a camera in it (most macs do and many PCs), she can download an app to her computer and phone that makes her computer into a webcam that she can watch on her iPhone! My mama and dad did this when I was new and doing my magical crate-destruction-and-escapism-routine, and also the first few times they left me and my brother alone together. It helped make them feel better knowing they could always check in and see what I was doing at any moment. And know what? Most of the time I was just stone cold sleeping!
All my love, Doodlebug