Busted

Hoping you stay “honest” in all your weekend activities. Clearly I’ve  got some ‘splaining to do to a certain pup.

Live, love, bark! <3

Well that Stinks…

skunk-tall-tailUh-oh…you’re hiking along and the dog runs ahead and suddenly you hear barking or maybe a yip or two. You go to investigate and lo and behold, you catch up to your pup and realize he’s been sprayed by a skunk. Your eyes begin to water, you nearly puke from the smell and your pup wants comfort and relief and looks to you for it. “Mommy…what just happened?  I thought that was a kitty!” What’s a good fur-mom supposed to do?

Although skunks are generally docile, they will definitely let you know if you’ve threatened their space. Normally they will quickly waddle away, duck under a bush or use some other flight mechanism. But sometimes a dog doesn’t quite catch the hint. The result being that distinctive make-your-eyes water-smell you cannot seem to easily get rid of from a poor pup’s furs.

looney1While the lovable cartoon character Pepe Le Pew may be made into a big screen movie, as recently reported during the last week’s Comic-Con, we hope the furry critter stays on the big screen and does not cross our path any time soon. Fortunately, we haven’t had skunks in our ‘hood (although a very similar, though far less potent smell accompanies neighborhood foxes who happen by), we used to visit my daughter in the nearby foothills. With all manner of critters including deer, foxes, bears, skunks, rock squirrels, I always worried one of the dogs would end up being sprayed. And with Sam being the dimmest of the lot, I figured it would be him. So far we’ve been ‘lucky.’

But it occurred to me not every dog is so lucky (and I’m sure our day will come). Even though the first thing that will tip you off that your pup has been sprayed by a skunk will be the smell, there are other signs that suggest being sprayed including drooling, vomiting, red or swollen eyes, face rubbing, sneezing, temporary blindness, maybe even rolling trying to get that stench off it’s fur. If lethargy, weakness, a change in urine color or pale or brown gums appear hours or days later after being sprayed, you should take your pup to a vet right away. The components in skunk spray are definitely irritating and can result in damage to red blood cells and the last thing you need is anemia on top of the stink. Remember too that skunks may carry rabies so if your pup was bitten as well as sprayed, be sure to check with your vet.

Obviously you’ll want to bathe your pup. Sadly regular shampoo for dogs isn’t gonna cut it but a homemade mixture of 4 cups of 3% fresh hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid soap (Dawn is a decent choice here). Lather up the dog, and leave in for at least 5 minutes. Rinse. Rinse again, and rinse yet again. Repeat. The peroxide might lighten your pup’s fur so be aware but it’s not toxic. If your pup took a direct hit to the eyes, rinse out with gobs of tepid water for 20 minutes to relieve the discomfort. As this recipe from the ASPCA doesn’t store well, you should make it up fresh whenever there’s an encounter with Pepe Le Pew.

Naturally prevention is the best way to deal with skunks but if it does happen to your fur-kid, you’ll know how to take care of the problem. Remember to keep food or bird seed in well sealed containers without easy access by the black and white stinker. Keep your pet away from wood piles, limit access to underneath decks or any obvious areas where they might make a den. A motion-activated lighting system may help as skunks prefer dark areas. If you find a suspected den, sprinkle kitty liter to signal that location should not be used to set up house.

Has your pup ever had an encounter with a skunk? What did you use to get rid of the stink? Here’s wishing you a smell-free weekend. At the very least, one without skunks.

Live, love, bark! <3

Animal Assisted Therapy

“Animals stimulate us not only by touch, but by some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, a connection to part of something greater, more healthy and more whole.” Peter Levine

I’ve read you can always find hope in a dog’s eyes and it’s certainly apparent when we go on pet therapy visits. Discounting the tactile nature of his soft fluffy fur, Sam’s connection with peeps is palpable. It’s hard not seeing him connect with people he encounters. This sweet goofy boy treats everyone he meets like they are the only one around.

imageHow does your pup connect with you and others? Is it nose to nose?

Live, love, bark! <3

Tuesday Tips

Summer woes…otherwise known as hot spots can be a real pain in the neck…literally. Blech. We hate ’em. And, according to Sam who is surprisingly immune to the wonders of super healing dog saliva, they can lead to all sorts of health problems.

hotspot1Sometimes known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots can be caused by any number of reasons, i.e. allergic reactions, insect bites, fleas, ticks, mites… but you can guarantee that bacteria will be front and center like a kindergartener’s pageant when it comes to this annoying condition. Any dog can suffer from hot spots, but dogs with thick coats, allergies, dirty or moist skin tend to suffer from them more often, and dogs with decreased immune systems will also suffer from hot spots. What exactly are hot spots? Glad you asked. Frequently moist, this condition is manifested as an inflamed/infected area that is painful and itchy and is aggravated by licking or chewing the area.

Treatment however can be simple but first should start with disinfecting the site. Frequent cleaning is absolutely critical and necessary before healing can take place. Trimming or shaving the surrounding fur is recommended and will keep any buildup of weeping sores from getting matted in the fur.

Around the Ranch, we use this handmade salve recipe to which we add lavender, lemon and Melaleuca essential oils to treat hot spots. This salve has become a lifesaver around our house. We started making it earlier this year and the good news is, it’s easy to make and works for both (wo)man and beast. We’ve used this healing salve on dry rough paws, abrasions, cuts, and even on burns. Given how amazing it is, it’s become our favorite go-to solution for just about any malady. We know some peeps will prefer to use any number of commercial treatments on hot spots and that’s perfectly fine, too. The bottom line for all of us is making our fur-kids feel better with this summer time condition and then finding out the underlying cause so they don’t get it again. Naturally if the hot spot doesn’t heal in a reasonable amount of time, you should consult your vet.

Have you been vexed by hot spots lately? How did you treat them?

Live, love, bark! <3

Mercurial Monday

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Sam here. Mom has been working on a couple new, regular ideas for the blog and the first one she said I could contribute on the first go-round. She wanted me to highlight what she refers to as the ‘quirky’ things I do that make her snort coffee through her nose tickle her heart. Personally, I think she’s being sarcastic but hey…if she’s gonna give me the laptop, I’m pawing out my side of the story, the way I see it!

 

Mom says it cracks her up whenever I face rub my eye snort face against her thigh or on the comforter. Again, I think she’s being smart-alecky but she does giggle…but oddly only after there is loud shrieking and ‘ew’s,’  especially when I rub against Dad’s side of the bed. Heh, heh.

cd3f0a554c608e0b19b7b8724a5a659eDoes your dog exhibit any quirky behavior that gives you pause ‘paws’? Be sure to share them in the comments, I need to show mom us 4-legged critters are the normal ones…’kay?

Live, love, bark! <3

Saturday Smiles

frenchpoodles

Here’s hoping no one ‘rains’ on your weekend.

Live, love, bark! <3

Dr. Dolittle’s got nuthin’ on us

With the craziness over the past several days, both in the U.S. and on the world front, my poor heart can not take much more so we’re gonna focus on strictly sweet things today from around our ‘hood.

Dr. Dolittle’s got nuthin’ on us, we have more of our fair share of Mother Nature in the heart of the Mile High City. The other night while walking Sam, we ran into this little guy. I swear Sam did a triple-take when this little fella moved. He watched us for a steady 5 minutes, while Sam’s tail never stopped wagging. While it’s not unusual to see raccoons scampering down the storm sewers, I hadn’t seen any for a while so this was a welcome treat. There has been so much new construction of multi-family housing projects here that it probably has the local ani-pals as wigged-out as us uprights with all the congestion and non-stop traffic noise. It makes me long for simpler times and many more masked faces.

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photo 1We’ve had all manner of fur-critters in the ‘hood. From mule deer stopping by to nosh on the salad bar otherwise known as my lupine garden, to beautiful foxes who frolicked under my bedroom window in the dead of a cold winter night. We’ve seen a horned owl and a pair of falcons in the pre-dawn morning along our walks and especially given the gawd-awful events of the past week or so, a far more welcomed sight.

Foxes in the 'Hood

finalLast Friday evening we encountered a bunny who caused Sam to stand up straight as if his low-rider mechanism was engaged and raised. He did a double-take and then tried to quickly dash after the bunny. Luckily I was prepared for the “rip-out the shoulder maneuver” he tried to employ and luckily managed to maintain my upright status. Sam looked at me like I’d just kicked his little sister. “Come on….mom….why won’t you let me go play with the cute bunny?” Oh wait, maybe because there’s no way he could ever catch him? Just thinking out loud.

Do you have wildlife encounters around your neighborhood?

Live, love, bark! <3

Wordy Wednesday

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Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the hydrant. Either way I love this topiary image-Sam will want to sniff that entryway now. Happy Hump Day . 😉

Live, love, bark! <3

Therapy opportunities in strange places

DSC00045As the driving half of a pet therapy team, I know how great Sam is at visiting patients at the hospital and hospice. It’s his special gift where people are drawn to him whenever he trots down a hallway. Thought I don’t expect it to happen outside the hospital, sometimes therapy encounters happen in the strangest places.

Take for example last night. We were out for our evening walk. It had rained earlier and the air was pleasant with the fresh scent of rain still clinging to flowers, grass and trees. About 2/3 of the way of our usual path, we encountered a couple of ladies, a mom and her adult daughter walking an adorable Dachshund/Lab mix. Yes, it was a strange-looking dog, but cute as a button. “Molly” seemed to gravitate toward Sam and her owner said she generally likes tall male dogs. We talked for several minutes and Sam kept gazing into the daughter and the mom’s eyes quite intently. The conversation turned when they said how they just couldn’t get over his soulful eyes and I mentioned he was a therapy dog. At the same time,  they both exclaimed, “no wonder…that totally explains it!” The mom it turned out works as an admittance nurse at another metro area hospice center and she remarked how perfectly suited Sam was to ministering to patients since he was doing the same thing with them. The mom admitted she had never been a fan of poodles in the past but there was something very special about Sam. She proceeded to get down on the sidewalk and sat next to Sam and repeatedly stroking his head and ears for a good number of minutes. It was really remarkable how he patiently and genuinely waited for a signal that they were finished and yet he seemed to hang on their every word as if he completely and deeply understood what they were saying.

As someone else who works in the palliative care biz, it was a real treat to talk with someone about the job and what we often see that is less than flattering about humans at the end of their lives. She observed how wonderful it was and how much they appreciated volunteers and their dogs when they to come to her facility. Sam watched her every move, followed her words with his eyes as if she were the only human that mattered at that moment. She was very impressed with his calm presence as was her daughter, a legal assistant. She and I talked about her job and I could totally empathize with the non-reaffirming work she was doing. It made me wonder how long she could stay in the field as she seemed more empathetic in nature, just like her mom. Both were caregivers at their cores and Sam totally picked up on that and lingered with them.

When little Molly voiced her displeasure at missing out on her walk, we bid adieu with the hope of running into one another again in the neighborhood. Then the mom turned and came back one last time and petted Sam for several more minutes. She laughed that maybe she needed ‘therapy’ as Sam was incredibly focused on her and I know he always stays with someone as long as they need him. “He just knows a good soul when he encounters one,” I said. And with that, she smiled, cocked her head toward Sam and said good evening. The rest of the way home I kept thinking about what a blessing it was to cross paths with such a really neat woman.

We really are fortunate to be able to ‘minister’ to patients and staff and as we discovered on the walk last night, to meet and visit with a couple of neighbors who really touched us. It made me very excited and grateful about being able to do this work and I’m looking forward to our visit later this week at the hospital.

Do you experience such beautiful and serendipitous encounters with your pup that leave you smiling from ear to ear?

Live, love, bark! <3