Life with Jasmine and Juliet, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with our two rescued miniature dachshunds

Belfast Wienerfest

This weekend, we attended the 10th annual Belfast Wienerfest in Belfast, Maine. When we vacationed in the area last year, we happened upon this little-known event an had a ball! Wienerfest is a celebration of all things Dachshund. Doxies of all shapes, sizes and colors congregate, and it becomes one big bark-fest! The event includes a parade, costume contest, wiener dog races and vendors! Last year, we had ‘store bought’ costumes (the girls were the ultimate New England sports fans). This year, I went all out and made them costumes! While the weather wasn’t the best, it still was a fabulous event! There was a professional photographer on hand to memorialize the girls in their fabulous Geisha Girl costumes!

Jasmine Juliet Belfast Wienerfest Maine

Oh my lovely Geisha Girls – My favorite part is the hair

Unfortunately, the girls did NOT win the costume contest, although they did get into the finals (top 5 out of 36). The local favorite won (drat). It was fixed!!! 🙂 We still had a blast.

The girls had doggie ice cream from the Loyal Biscuit Company. It was sweet potato ice cream with meat gravy and liver ‘sprinkles.’ As you an see, they gobbled it up!

Jasmine Juliet ice cream Belfast Wienerfest Maine

Nom Nom Nom

Jasmine Juliet doggie ice cream Belfast Wienerfest Maine

Oh, that’s SO good!

Both dogs enjoyed the day, although Juliet was a bit more outgoing while Jasmine was content to view the festivities from the comfort and security of their ever-popular doggie stroller.

Juliet Belfast Wienerfest Belfast Wienerfest Maine

Juliet enjoys Wienerfest

Do not feel bad for Jasmine. She’s definitely enjoying the mini-vacay!

Jasmine Belfast Maine

Jasmine Loves Maine

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Go Straight to Dessert

We just passed the four-year mark with Jasmine. I still marvel at the journey we’ve had with her. As I read back on our first days, I think about the happiness I feel when I see that happy little dog dancing at my feet when I come home from work. Or the little bundle of warmth that snuggles up to me in the middle of the night and sighs a happy sigh.

And I think of the dog who didn’t know what treats were. The dog that was not motivated by food. At all. And I laugh.

Jasmine’s evening routine is very centered around food. That’s because she’s a total “food hound.” I come home (waggy waggy waggy) and after I put down my things, I fix Jasmine’s dinner. I put it down, and she gobbles it up as I’m fixing our evening meal. I then ask her the long-awaited question, “Have you been a good girl?” The crowd (okay, Jasmine) goes wild! Leaps of joy, excessive wagging of the tail and a prancing pony emerge. Of course, it’s time for a treat. These days, that treat entails a piece of doggie chicken jerky. I hand her a treat and she goes skittering to the family room to munch on her prize. Hubby and I munch on our meals.

Jasmine, of course, is done much faster than we are. She then waits for the next event of the evening–Peanut butter time!

Now, Jasmine has recently decided that she wants to skip dinner and go straight to the treats. She has been practically ignoring most of her dinner and going straight for the “aren’t you forgetting something” stare. And then a wooft. And a stare. And a spy hop. Oh the agony I put her through!

So last night, I broke part of her jerky treat into little bits and mixed it in her food. HA! FOOLED YOU!

That was yesterday. I wonder what tonight will hold?

Okay. I’m a sucker. I admit it. But with a face like this…who could resist?

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Broccoli? Seriously?

Once again, I’m sorry for the long lag between posts. Life has been totally crazy.

Jasmine is doing really well. Last week, I left on a business trip–the longest one I’ve had in a very long time. Jasmine was her usual obstinate self. She refused to eat at first, but hubby finally coaxed her into eating her meals. She also refused to “do her business” for over 24 hours. I just wonder if it’s her way of trying to exert some dominance, or if she just likes to torture my poor, misunderstood husband…

When I returned home, she was overjoyed. Hubby brought her to the airport when he picked me up, and there she was…that little face was staring out the window, ears perked. There was whining. Lots of whining. And there was a waggy tail, kisses, more waggy tail, more kisses. I really wish Jasmine would give hubby the same love and affection she does to me. He’s so kind to her.

Okay, so that’s what’s happening. What does that have to do with broccoli? Absolutely nothing. Except tonight, hubby was out of town at a conference. Jasmine and I had a night alone. She was her usual cute self. I was cooking dinner (a nice pot of soup on a cold cold night), and I was steaming some frozen veggies to put into the soup. A piece of FROZEN broccoli fell off the counter and dropped onto the floor. Jasmine, food hound, pounced on it like it was chicken. And ate it like it was…chicken!

Broccoli Jasmine? Seriously?

Hence, the title.

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Food and Water Don’t Mix (Now)

We solved Jasmine’s food refusal problem just a day or two after it started. We went and got some samples of different dog foods at the local store and decided to try them out until we found something new that got Jasmine out of her food slump. It turns out that Jasmine wasn’t really tired of her dog food. She was tired of having dog food soup.

When we first got Jasmine, she generally didn’t drink water. So we had the bright idea to mix water into her meals and mix a little wet dog food into the water to encourage her to drink. It worked. She lapped up her “meat water” and then chomped down on her dry (okay, moist) kibble every day. And then, one day, she didn’t want her food made this way anymore. I took out the water, just mixed the dry and canned food together and she’s been chowing down ever since. AND she’s been drinking water like a normal dog.

So she’s a foodie hound again, and we’re going to continue to try new flavors of food to keep her engaged (and to ensure that she has a varied nutritional profile). It’s great that the local store had a bunch of samples for us to try. It really helped us make some smart choices and we now know that she likes different flavor combos and the changes will not cause any stomach problems. Win win!

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Hunger Strike

Jasmine is still being difficult about her mealtime. Except I think it’s my fault. Oh the guilt.

I’ve been feeding Jasmine the same food for several years ever since the unfortunate whipworm incident–we thought it was a food change that caused her some tummy issues; it turned out to be parasites). We feed her Innova Small Bites mixed with a spoonful of California Natural Chicken & Rice canned food and 1/2 cup of water. She doesn’t drink much water, and this encourages her to get a good amount of water with her yummy meal.

Well, she apparently doesn’t think the food is very yummy anymore. And I know that dogs SHOULD be switched from food to food every few months to help them get a different balance of nutrients and to get some variety. I just got complacent. I also was kind of afraid of rocking the boat. She has been happy with her food and welcomes meal times. Until a few days ago. She now thumbs her nose at the kibble (still drinks the canned-dog-food-flavored water). I thought it was because of nervousness, but she’s hungry for “other” food (treats, meats, etc) that are dropped into her bowl.

So, I have to go back and try some other food for her. To keep her engaged in mealtimes, to keep her balanced nutrition, etc. I know to ease her into a new diet, but I also know that it’s time for a change.

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Peanut Buttah!

Blame it on Bob.

Our friend Bob gave Jasmine her first taste of peanut butter when we were visiting he and his wife in Maine. Jasmine, who doesn’t take treats from strangers, lapped it up like Bob was her long lost friend. No hesitation.

Of course, that was our cue to go get a jar of peanut butter and have Hubby be the “Peanut Butter Man.” Or, I should say, the “Peanut Buttah Man” with Hubby’s Boston accent (he says, “What accent?”).

Every evening, I put Jasmine in my lap. And instead of snuggling in to my nice warm lap for some quality time, she perches on the arm rest of the chair and wags her little flirty tail at Hubby. She looks at him hopefully, and I call out, “Peanut Buttah Man!” She wags her tail more and tries to look cute (not difficult). Hubby chuckles, and I pick Jasmine up and put her on his lap. He grabs the jar of peanut butter and digs out a fingertip of creamy goodness on his finger. She laps it up and sniffs for more. A couple of doses later, and the official peanut butter period has ended.

Then and only then will she come back to me and settle on my lap for an evening snooze.

Oh boy, does she have us trained well or what?

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Where’s My Apple?

I changed my breakfast routine yesterday and Jasmine was quite unhappy about it.

I had a grapefruit for breakfast yesterday. I wanted a change, and I hadn’t had grapefruit in a long time. I was enjoying my breakfast when I heard a little bark. I looked down and saw a somewhat anxious and unruly pup. She was looking at me with an annoyed look on her face, as if to say, “Hey! What’s with this grapefruit stuff? Where’s my nicely peeled and chunked apple? Huh?”

Ooops. In my haste to change my breakfast routine, I forgot that Jasmine counts on HER routine, and that includes a bit of apple every morning. So what did I do? I went and got a piece of apple from my lunch and gave it to her. She happily munched away on the apple (peeled, of course) as I munched away on my grapefruit. I got a nice laugh and a nice start to my morning.

It’s great when a story has a happy ending, isn’t it?

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Dog Food For Thought

The Whole Dog Journal publishes their list of approved canned and dry dog foods every year.  January’s issue covered canned foods and February’s issue, which came in the mail yesterday, covers dry.  Jasmine’s core foods–Innova Adult Formula (small bites kibble) and California Natural Chicken & Rice (canned) are both blessed by the WDJ.

The criteria they use are simple:

  • High-quality animal protein should be at the top of the ingredients list (and should be at least the first two ingredients in the food since ingredients are listed in order of weight)
  • Use of whole foods (vegetables, fruits, grains)
  • Locally sourced organic ingredients

You should be wary of products that contain:

  • Meat/poultry by-products
  • Artificial preservatives
  • Added sweeteners
  • Artificial colors

Jasmine’s foods meet all these criteria as well as the WJD’s newest–that the companies disclose their manufacturers.  This is especially important since the Melamine debacle.  Natura Pet Products, the maker of Innova, California Natural, Evo, Karma and Healthwise brand foods, has very distinct manufacturirng quality criteria including the new criteria that NONE of their products contain ANY ingredients from China.

One of the surprising recommendations that WJD makes is that you regularly switch your dog to a different food.  Their argument is that a single type of food may have more (or less) of the nutrients that your dog needs, and if you only feed one type/brand of food throughout the dog’s life, he/she may get too much or not enough of vital nturients.  They also recommend that when you do change the dog’s food, do so gradually to avoid digestive problems.

I like The Whole Dog Journal in general.  It’s a nice, no-nonsense publication about the healthy life of our canines.  It’s all substance, no fluff (well, except for selling their own pubs).  I highly recommend the newsletter.

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Simon & Hueys Sold

Simon & Hueys, the makers of Soft Training Treats (Jasmine’s favorite treats), have sold their company.  I was going to replenish my supply–I was dangerously low.  The local doggie boutique was sold out, so I went to the company’s website to make a bulk purchase.  The website was gone.

I tried calling their phone, and their voice mail was full.    Uh oh.

I did a Google search for the little morsels, and I found a couple of online stores selling them.  But better yet, I found an ad on Craigslist selling “overstock” of these treats.  I contacted the seller, and it just happens to be one of the owners.  She said that they sold the business to Paws Gourmet, Inc. Paws Gourmet was in the process of learning and perfecting the manufacturing process.  They were clearing out their excess inventory.

I ordered a bunch to stock up.  Unfortunately, they got my order wrong (not surprising since they’re probably in shut-down mode), but I got MOST of what I ordered.  So Jasmine is assured that her favorite training treat is on hand for some time.  I did find some substitutes (I particularly like Cloudstar’s Soft & Chewy Buddy Biscuits, but they are a bit pricey) but I still love the Simon and Huey’s product.  They are tiny, made with only a few ingredients and Jasmine loves them.  That’s good enough for me.

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Weighty Thoughts

Jasmine lost some weight when we were away.  She’s now about 10.5 pounds–just right for her.  She was over 11 pounds when we last took her to the vet.  Even with the long walks, she was getting a little pudgy.  It’s hard to regulate food and treats for a low-energy dog.  Since we’ve been back, I’ve been cutting back a little on her meals to compensate for the treats she’s been getting during the day.

While I was out buying her California Natural pet food, I found that the manufacturer (Natura) makes a treat called Health Bars.  Made from a similar formula as their Innova dog food, it’s a balance of good, healthy ingredients and crunchy texture.  I like the fact that it’s focused on providing balanced nutrition rather than just acting as a method to reward and/or clean teeth.  So, we’ve been using these treats as part of her daily nutrition as well as a reward.  However, that means that her meal volume has to be reduced.

The best way to figure out how much food a dog needs every day is based upon a simple calorie calculation.  Just like humans, dogs need a certain amount of calories to maintain, lose or gain weight.  This number is based upon factors such as life stage, age, activity and environment.  I found a decent Metabolic Energy Requirement calculator on the My Cocker Spaniel site.  Natura Pet (the dog food manufacturer) also has calculators for feeding as well.  But remember that the amount of food is based upon the total caloric requirements (Metabolic Engery Requirements).  Using that base figure, calculate how much food you need to feed after factoring in the treats you feed your dog every day.

At 10.5 pounds and sedentary, Jasmine needs about 341 calories a day. Jasmine gets 1 Tablespoon of California Natural Chicken and Rice canned food and 1/4 cup of  California Natural Chicken and Rice Adult Dry food plus 1/4 cup of water.  While the canned food has about 13.5 ounces of food by weight, by volume, we get about 18 servings, which is equivalent to about 30 calories per serving. The dry kibble has about 511 calories per cup. Given these figures, Jasmine gets about 158 calories per meal.  She’s getting two meals per day so she’s getting about 316 calories a day in meals–just about what she needs.

However, treats need to be factored in.  The small Health Bars have about 50 calories each.  Milk-Bone biscuits have 20 to 30 calories each (depending on size and flavor).  Dingo Mini Bones are less than 1/2 ounce each and probably have about the same amount of calories as other typical treats (they don’t include caloric information, so I’m just assuming 50 calories each).  So, one Dingo bone and a Health Bar could mean up to an extra 100 calories a day–almost 1/3 more than her metabolic needs!  No wonder Jasmine has been gaining weight!

Given what I’ve learned about Jasmine’s caloric needs, if we cut down her kibble to 1/8 cup in the evening and still give her treats, we’ll be just right.  It may seem hard to gauge, but until I started doing the math, it was just a “guess.”  By calculating her energy requirements and figuring out how much I’m feeding her, I have a precise method to determine how much to adjust her food on a day-to-day basis to ensure her health.

Jasmine has become much more food-oriented and is always up for a treat–unlike when she first came to us and didn’t like anything but soft food and treats.  Treats are a way to train and reward, but let’s face it–it’s just plain fun to give her treats.  These tools will help me keep her slim, trim and healthy.  I guess my good habits have rubbed off on how I treat her.  I’ve gone from a size 10 or 12 to a size 2 or 4 over the last year in a similar matter.   Jasmine has had everything to do with that–the daily walks have done both of us good!

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