Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Grain-Free Dog Kibble: To Feed or Not To Feed. That is the Question

I have never purchased a “low-fat” or “no-fat” product in the grocery store because if the fat is taken out it has to be replaced with something else, and it’s probably chemical. That was my intuition speaking to me years ago and I paid attention.  

Why then, would I feed my dogs a grain-free diet? Adhering to the above logic the grain would also have to be replaced with something else. Like most people I got caught up in the hype that has taken over the dog food industry, and thought it was something good. My multiple dogs often have itchy skin that can’t be diagnosed without extensive allergy testing that may or may not identify the problem. So, it seemed reasonable that it could be the grain as suggested by the industry. The truth is, after several years of grain-free kibble my dogs are as itchy as ever especially in the spring and fall. The scratchy skin is cyclical and occurs around the change of seasons. I now think it is non-food related and has more to do with the environment. But, until recently it never occurred to me to put them back on grain.

The Current Rage
Consumers have been buying grain-free kibble for several years now. It’s actually hard to find a high quality dog food that has grain these days. We often equate high-quality with the price which may or may not be the case. I have recently read articles about the downside of a non-grain diet relating to the substitution products added when the grain is eliminated. I spoke to my veterinarian about this and her comment was: “grain is good.” Apparently veterinarians are beginning to see medical issues associated with the substitute products that are added to the kibble. These issues are heart related and can be serious.

I’m putting this out there as food for thought—no pun intended. We all want what’s best for our  four-legged beloved dogs. My advice is to research the pros and cons, read the ingredient labels, and talk to your veterinarian to determine the right choice for your dog. After doing just that,  we have made the decision to return to grain. 

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Moral to the Story

When TBTB Dog Camp hires a temporary dogsitter we look for someone that will be with us for awhile, not just a one time fly-by-night person looking to make some money. There is training required to care for multiple dogs, procedures to learn, and the dogs need consistency. In other words, they need to get to know the person caring for them in my absence. Dogsitters in the past have lasted well over a year, some longer. 

In November we hired a person living in Soldotna. She had all the right answers about dogs, seemed very efficient and always responded to me immediately, almost to the point of being too good to be true. The stereotype used car salesman was my initial impression of her. My instincts told me there must be another reason she wanted to come to Homer to do this, leaving her three dogs and husband in Soldotna over the holiday. She confided in me that it was the perfect reason to not have to be with her in-laws on Thanksgiving. She had also mentioned her desire to own a dog business such as TBTB so I assumed she wanted the inside scoop on how I did things and that was totally okay with me. I don’t mind sharing what I do and am not worried about competition. I did some reference checking and learned that ironically she and her husband had owned a car dealership in Soldotna. Her enthusiasm was contagious so I decided to go with her for a short stay over Thanksgiving.

Clients were mostly pleased with her, and except for the one dog that ran off and required getting the owner back to retrieve the dog thus losing the business, things appeared to go okay. When I returned after ten days, she was glowing about the dogs and how much she loved them all; gung-ho to do it again. That is, until I tried to reach her. 

Gone was the speedy response and initial aim-to-please attitude. Days went by without a response, and only after calling her on it did I get an apologetic, love-filled text wanting to negotiate the pay, gas allowance and various other perks. I agreed to pay her more and cover her gas for a big-ass truck to and from Soldotna. But again, when I tried to nail down travel dates she did not respond for several days. I suspected she was practicing her negotiation tactics on me without any intention of dogsitting again. A few days later I received another glowing text that reeked of bullshit, about how family was number one to her and she probably wasn’t going to be able to respond in the timely manner I was accustomed to, so it was best if she didn’t continue dogsitting at TBTB. I decided to cut my losses and move on without further discussion. This was early January.

On Sunday, February 11,  I noticed a truck parked at the top of my driveway and the dogs were doing their job at letting me know by running onto the deck and barking. I had found a lost dog earlier in the day and posted an ad on Facebook with my location. I thought maybe it was someone for that dog so I walked up the driveway, and was surprised to see it was the Soldotna dogsitter sitting in the truck. She rolled the window down and appeared really nervous, talking rapidly and directing my attention to the dog sitting next to her. Her husband was on the other side of their parked truck, blocking the trail the dogs and I usually walk on. I asked her if they were just hangin’ out and she said no, they were headed home. It was an uncomfortable, weird conversation. I came back to the house and they stayed up there for another 10 minutes. All I could see was her husband’s legs underneath the truck on the other side as she remained in the drivers seat. When he finally got back into the vehicle they hightailed it out of here spinning their chained tires and throwing snow in their haste to escape Katie Jean Circle. What they left behind was a no trespassing and private property sign posted at the head of our walking trail. 

I can only surmise they researched the owner of that property across the street, obviously made contact and somehow purchased it. It had not previously been for sale. I knew she was up to something rather than just working here. She watched the dogs, walked then on that trail and now she is posting a sign that they are no longer allowed to walk there. 

We have 2.5 acres of uncleared land of our own that can be developed into a lovely doggie playground so all of this is really okay. I only question the way she handled the situation—I don’t understand passive-aggressive actions. She could have told me rather than being sneaky about it. I have no idea what her intention is for the property, and don’t really care. I can’t control other people and what they do, but I can control how I respond. All I know is that karma will be the judge, and what goes around, comes around.  This underhanded approach to doing business is not the Homer way, and I suspect it will be short-lived.

Years ago when my home in Anchorage was broken into, I felt totally violated. Not caring anything about the stuff stolen, it was more about the negative energy that had entered and contaminated my space. Karma came into play, the thieves were quickly identified and all my property was recovered. This encounter has left me once again feeling violated but for a different reason. I let someone into my life with dogs that was not deserving of that privilege. 

This experience reminds me again why I prefer hanging out with dogs more than humans. There are no games (other than chasing balls), what you see is what you get, and the only drama that occurs is during competition for catching a yummy chummy in mid-air. Life is simple, and  pure.

And the moral to the story?

— If it appears too good to be true, It Is.
— Instincts are not wrong, pay attention to them.  

If you are looking to rent a cabin near a pond in Soldotna, be wary. Things may not be as they appear. 


Our view up the hill is no longer pure nature
Signs in the wilderness on Katie Jean Circle