Life with Jasmine and Juliet, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with our two rescued miniature dachshunds

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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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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Recipe for a Good Tummy

Well, the vet called to tell me that the blood work came back on Jasmine, and she’s healthy and normal.  That’s a relief!  I told him about the blood in her stool last night, and he said that wasn’t unusual given her situation.  I’m to continue the white rice and cottage cheese diet until she’s completely normal, and then I can slowly introduce the new food to her.

If Eukanuba had not changed their canned pet food formula, I probably would have kept her on their food to keep from disrupting her digestive system.  But now that I’ve been forced to make changes, I’m going to feed Jasmine the EVO.  Better nutrition, better ingredients and no grain fillers make it a good choice.  However, I’m fuzzy on the “science” of dog nutrition.  The argument is that dogs, in the wild, eat a diet mostly of protein, and that whole foods are better than processed junk and fillers.  I’ll buy that–to an extent.  The Dog Food Analysis site has an explanation of how they rate the foods…but where’s the science behind these ratings?  There is a regulatory agency, the AAFCO, that oversees the feed manufacturers to ensure that a) the ingredients and guaranteed analysis of the food on the label is correct and b) the ingredients provide whole and proper nutrition for the animal in question.

What it boils down to is what do you believe?  I think either of the foods are sufficient to ensure proper nutrition for Jasmine.  The marketing hype for both is substantial.  EVO claims better nutrition due to higher levels of protein, no grain fillers, etc.  Eukanuba claims better joint health for Dachshunds because of the inclusion of Glucosamine and Chondroitin (ala ground up bones and cartilage).  Reading packaging, EVO seems more wholesome and does have a guaranteed analysis that is much more skewed towards protein.  But is this necessarily better?  I don’t know.  What is the optimal amount of protein for a dog?  Has anyone proven this?  I guess it just makes ME feel better to give Jasmine food that has better ingredients–more whole foods, less “by-products.”  She seems to like the way it tastes.  And hopefully, when her tummy settles down, she’ll be on the way to optimal health.

Some Facts for Comparison

EVO Small Bites Ingredients:  Turkey, chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, herring meal, chicken fat, natural flavors, egg, apples, tomatoes, potassium chloride, carrots, vitamins, garlic, cottage cheese, minerals, alfalfa sprouts, ascorbic acid, dried chicory root, direct-fed microbials, vitamin E supplement, lecithin, rosemary extract.  Protein = “minimum 42%”

From Dog Food Analysis site:

  • Rating: Six Stars (highest)
  • Recommended: Yes
  • Pros: First four ingredients are named meat products, high meat content, grainless, quality ingredients throughout
  • Cons: None
  • AAFCO Certification: Yes. “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that EVO Dog Small Bites Dry Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.”

Eukanuba Dachshund Formula Ingredients:  Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Natural Chicken Flavor, Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Dried Egg Product, Fish meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Flax Meal, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Minerals, Dried Chicken Cartilage, DL-Methionine, L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract.  Protein = “not less than 25%”

From Dog Food Analysis site:

  • Rating: One Star (lowest)
  • Recommended: No
  • Pros: First ingredient is a named meat product
  • Cons: Insufficient meat content, byproducts, low quality grain, controversial filler
  • AAFCO Certification: Unknown.
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Dog Food

I’ve been researching dog food since Jasmine got her tummy ache.  Many dogs have loose stool when their diets are altered, including changes in food formulas or switching brands/types or even flavors of food.  Other dogs are less sensitive to changes in diet.  I guess Jasmine is in the former group.

I found a site, Dog Food Analysis, that details the contents of and reviews both kibble and canned dog foods.  I also saw a list of foods that the Whole Dog Journal recommends–it’s pretty similar to the Dog Food Analysis site’s findings.  Looking at the Dog Food Analysis site, their preferences for good dog food stems from a more “natural” diet that is high in protein, high in nutrients and “whole” foods (veggies, whole grains, natural preservatives), and low in carbohydrates and fillers.  I looked at all the “six star” dog foods and decided to try the EVO Small Bites dog food (the only food in the list with smaller kibble for smaller dogs) and EVO canned dog foods for Jasmine.  As long as we’re going through a slow change in food, I thought I would try to find the best food for her.

Does this mean mass-market commercial food is bad?  Nope.  Eukanuba has done well for Jasmine, but i want to make sure that she’s getting the best she can.  Is this a little overboard?  Actually, no.  The food was readily available at the local pet food store, and was significantly LOWER in price than Eukanuba’s new formula with better ingredients.  Eukanuba went from a 10.3 ounce can for $1.29 with their old formula to a 13 ounce can for $1.79 for their new formula.  I called their “expert” hotline yesterday to ascertain what was different in the new formula, and their “expert” claimed, “oh, we’re using better ingredients.”  Hm.  Some expert.  She told me that I should try their other brand, Iams, and she’d send me coupons for some free cans.  No thanks.

We’re now transitioning Jasmine slowly from the old dog food to the new, but we only have one can of the old…so Jasmine will be fully on the new canned food.  We have plenty of Eukanuba kibble, so I’ll be slowly transitioning her to the new stuff by mixing her food.  Hopefully, this will keep her from experiencing more tummy problems.  The slow transition is bringing her back to normal–thank goodness!

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Tummy Ache

Jasmine has been having stomach problems for the last couple of days.  I’m pretty sure that it’s because of a change in dog food.  Eukanuba, our preferred food for both canned and kibble, changed their formulas for their canned dog food.  We generally give Jasmine a tablespoon of canned dog food mixed with warm water to make a gravy for her dry kibble.

We made the change a few days ago, and for the last two days, Jasmine has been having…issues.  Last night, she also soiled inside the house, rendering the carpet runner in our front halllway a relic for the trash can (no big loss).  Poor baby.  She still has issues with signaling us when she has to go out, and I can’t seem to teach her how to properly let us know when she needs to go–especially when it’s urgent.

I had one can left of the old stuff, so I’m going to ease her into the new food over the next week or so.  I should have done that in the first place, but I thought that Eukanuba to Eukanuba shouldn’t be a big change.  I’m also wondering if it’s something she could have picked up at the kennel, but it’s been some time since she returned…it would have shown up immediately.

Jasmine is still her rompy/sleepy/rompy self, so I’m not too worried.  Okay, so I’m a LITTLE worried.  What Mom wouldn’t be?  If she doesn’t adjust well within the next few days, it’s off to the vet we go.  She’s due for shots anyway.

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Training Me

We attended our first doggie obedience school class at A Dog’s Life on Saturday. A friend of mine, Cecilia, is the Director of Training there and is the instructor of the class. The class is called “Canine Middle School”–a beginner’s class for adult dogs.

The first class didn’t include Jasmine. We talked about training theory, how a dog’s brain works, issues and challenges for each of us, etc. It was actually quite useful information, rather than just jumping into “sit…good doggie” lessons.

We have some homework to do. The first step is to get the dog’s attention. We give her her cue (call her name). When she responds (turns her head, looks at me), we “mark” the behavior. Many people use a “clicker” to mark, but I like Cecilia’s approach of using a word instead; you always have your voice with you, but don’t always have a clicker. We then reward (treat, praise, etc.) and release the dog from the behavior. Seems easy enough, eh? In theory, yes. But I’ve read that it can take 1000 impressions for a dog to understand a command. In the last few days, she’s had quite a few. But, she only looks when SHE feels like it. 🙂

One of the things we’re supposed to do as well is to test the value of treats. Put two different treats, one in each hand, in front of the dog and let her show you which one she prefers. What did I learn? She prefers my right hand. And cheese. Other than that, food is food. Except for kibble. She doesn’t like plain kibble.

Oh, the inner princess in her is coming out!! Gotta love it!

What did I learn in class? Training the dog is all about training US. We need to be consistent. She picks up cues from our behavior and acts accordingly. Makes sense.

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We All Scream for Ice Cream!

We were out running errands yesterday, and we decided to take Jasmine along to help socialize her to new situations. After we were finished with our errands, we decided to get some treats at the local frozen custard/ice cream shop.

When I was waiting for my order (Jasmine was outside with Tom), I asked the counter person if they had anything that was safe for dogs. He said that their frozen custard was what he usually gave to dogs–with no issues or complaints. He gave me a small portion in a cup, and I went outside to sit and eat my treat and give Jasmine her first taste of frozen delight.

It was hot yesterday–over 90 degrees. Jasmine and I sat in the shade, and I placed her cup in front of her. She sniffed the custard a little, then began lapping it. And lapping it. Boy did she like it!

Tom came out with his treat and I handed him Jasmine’s custard cup. She ran right over to him and began lapping up the treat. Now, she usually doesn’t like to go near him, but for frozen custard, well, she even let him pet her! Whooooo hooooooo!

I decided to look for the Frosty Paws doggie ice cream in the local PetCo, but they don’t carry it anymore. After looking at the ingredient list online, I decided that I’d rather make something for her instead. After reading a bunch of recipes online for doggie ice cream, this is what I’ve made for her:

Margaret’s Doggie FroYo

32 ounces plain yogurt (with active cultures)
1 small jar baby bananas
1 small jar baby applesauce
3 tablespoons honey

Whisk everything together and spoon into serving cups. I made 1 ounce portions and placed them into 2-ounce portion cups (available from food service supply places like Smart and Final) with lids. Freeze. When serving, zap for a few seconds in the microwave to soften.

Jasmine licked the unfrozen mix off my finger, so I know she’ll like it even more when frozen.

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