Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All Theo All The Time!

You know what's nice about being home in the middle of the day?  It's sunny out!  I took Theo for a walk yesterday and was actually able to take some pictures! *gasp!*

You know what's not nice?  The reason I was home in the middle of the day in the first place.  The reason I was home today, and will be home tomorrow.  I was laid off from my job last week.  Totally lame.  But this isn't a feel sorry for me blog.  This is a Corgi blog!  So what does this mean for Theo?  Well the first thing we cut was doggy daycare, so he's home with me all day every day.  So he gets tons more mommy time.  We've also been going to the dog part every couple of days.  And Thursday mornings we'll be joining Sidney (aka the only Corgi Theo will actually play with occasionally) and his mom on a hike, which she does every week, but I was never able to tag along before.  Seeing as how I used to work Thursday mornings.  So I'm trying to make sure Theo still gets out and gets stimulation and exercise, but I'm sad he won't get to see his doggy daycare fur-buddies.  Hopefully his exile will be of very short duration.

As much as I try to get Theo outside, he still spends a lot of time like this:

As much as I'd like to spend all day playing with Theo, I do actually have to spend the better part of the day looking for another job.  Poor guy.

Anyway, back to the walk.  Since I had my camera on hand, and since my camera totally stresses out, Theo spent most of the walk feeling a bit self conscious. He yawns when he's stressed...

He licks his nose when he's stressed...

He even smiles when he's stressed...

He sneezes too, but never mind that.  He's also been super snuggly.  Every evening I curl up on the couch with a glass of wine after a hard day of job hunting and Theo jumps up with me and sleeps with his head propped up on my legs.  It's my favorite time of day, and it really helps me not go insane.  Corgis are cool like that.

This is hardly worth mentioning, but since I got a pretty good picture of it, I'll share.

Theo had developed one of those fatty tumors on his side, and a few weeks ago the vet shaved him down and drained the tumor.  For a few days after I had to continue to drain it, which basically consisted of popping a pimple.  It was quite disgusting.  Did you know the stuff that comes out of those is like cottage cheese?  Blecgh!  It was a bit painful for Theo, and unappetizing for me, so generally not a good time all around.  Heh. Hopefully I drained it enough that it won't grow back. If it does, the vet will have to be a bit more invasive in removing it.  2 years old is a little young to be developing fatty tumors.  Hopefully it's an isolated incident!  But really, is there anything more pathetic than a shaved dog?  I'm glad it's starting to grow back.

So on the upside I should have plenty more opportunities for posting, and many more photo ops for Theo.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baby Tested

I've mentioned that Theo loves kids before, but oh my, I wish I had a video of Theo meeting my nephew last weekend.  My sister came into town for work and was generous enough to put up with lugging her 19lb sack of potatoes (with cheeks!) all the way across the country just so I could see him.  Really.  Ok, not really.  But let's just say I'm the awesome reason...k?  Anyway, I had a 5 month old adorable baby in the house for 6 days, and Theo was hysterical.

First off, my sister knows Theo and I was glad to see, she trusted him implicitly around the wee babe.  I wouldn't have blamed her if she had been hesitant to have an excitable dog too near her precious cargo, but she walked right in, sat down, and even encouraged Theo to jump up on the couch with her so he could get a better sniff at my nephew.  How awesome is she?

Anyway, Theo's reaction to my nephew was priceless.  I knew he would love him.  I knew he would be excited.  But he was jumping out of his skin with excitement.  I've never seen his nubbin move like that!  It was like a hummingbird's wings!  Of course, I could tell he was excited because I know him, but outwardly he stayed very calm and gentle because he was around a baby, and he understands they're breakable.  It was so cute!  He sniffed his face, he smelled his breath, he licked the palm of his hand.  He just took him in.  My nephew did something similar.  My sister was laughing over them smelling each other.  And my nephew attempted to pet Theo, but ended up just kind of dropping his hand on his nose a few times.  Theo loved it.

Theo was this kid's protector the entire time they were here.  When nephew fussed or cried, Theo whimpered, very softly, but enough to alert us to the issue (like we couldn't hear it ourselves, but that's ok).  At one point my sister came out of our guest room and said "I feel like your dog is judging me!"  And I know exactly what she meant because I got the same looks when I was babysitting a couple days of their trip.  He would lay outside the bedroom door with a look that said "What are you doing to that kid in there!?  Why can't you keep him happy!"

After the initial meeting, Theo observed his usual two foot rule.  He was my nephew's protector. If my nephew was laying on a blanket on the floor, Theo would sniff him to make sure all was sound, then he would lay down with his body facing outwards, ready for whatever might come.  How cute is that??  When I put my nephew down for a nap Theo would sniff at the play pen we used for naps, then park himself outside the room.  One time, before giving my nephew a bath, I had him laid out on a towel on the bathroom floor.  I ran to the guest room to grab a diaper, and when I came back Theo had sprawled his body across the door frame with a look that said "None shall pass!"

I was impressed that Theo immediately sensed that he had fallen a wrung on the totem pole.  He knew his needs would come after my nephew's.  I was prepared for a needy dog who was jealous of the attention I gave the baby, but I actually got the opposite!  He was less whiny than he normally is because he knew I had a reason for ignoring him.  It was pretty awesome, but I also felt bad for him on the days that he didn't get much attention.  Heh.

So overall, I was really happy that Theo was so awesome with the baby.  I'm definitely not planning on having my own anytime soon, but it's nice to know that when the time comes when Husband and I are ready to grow the family, we'll have a dog that's been baby tested!  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Pointer

Sorry to be a bit vulgar, but I have to share this story with you. It involves poop. Faint of heart be warned. Heh, no it's not bad, it's actually pretty awesome.

The other night I was out on a walk with Theo and Husband. Theo stopped to poop (aside: How cute are Corgis when they poop? The way they scrunch of their long bodies is kind of adorable, even though they're doing something rather unsavory. I should get a picture some time and post it. Would that be weird? I mean weird for me.), and Husband and I were chatting and not really paying attention. I stooped down to pick up his little present, and saw only a tiny turd, a third of its normal size. I jokingly scolded Theo for his tiny poop and asked him where the rest of it was. And as if he understood me (because of course he did, he's an uber smart Corgi for goodness sakes), he pointed his nose at another turd I had completely missed about a foot away as if to say "The rest is right over here, Mommy! Don't forget to pick it up too!"

I was flabbergasted. I howled in amusement, and then I praised him profusely. "What a good boy for showing Mommy where the rest of your poop was!"

Husband claimed Theo was merely smelling his poop, but I refuse to believe it. First, that's not nearly as cool as a dog who can point, not nearly as awesome as a dog who can understand me when most people can't make out my bumbling mumblies, and not nearly as hilarious as a dog that can't take a joke. And also, he never smells his poop. That's gross. Eating sheep poop, however? Totally acceptable.

It's hard to put to words exactly why owning a Corgi is just about the best thing ever. It's more than just their smart, they're tenacious, they're goofy. Those words don't quite convey just how smart, tenacious, and goofy they are! You have to see it for yourself in the daily goings on, when they do something so adorable, so surprising, so hilarious that you think to yourself Corgis are just the best! I regret that half of the great Corgi things Theo does never make it into this blog. They are so random and surprising, I often thoroughly enjoy those moments and then proceed for forget all about them. Just know that for every moment like Theo's point, there are probably two or three other moments that I just never shared. I'll try and be better about that!

Have you ever seen your Corgi point? What about other fun behaviors that sent you into spasms?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Samples - Vital from Freshpet

You might remember a few months ago I switched Theo to a new food and was touting it's magical properties of awesomeness. Or last week, when I talked about how Theo could give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money (He was never that way before the food switch)? Sufficed to say, I have been very pleased with Deli Fresh, which is the "gently cooked" sausage-like slice and serve food we have been giving Theo. And I'm going to tell you more about it, and a new product I just tried.

So here's the thing. I really like this company, Freshpet, that makes Theo's food. I'm not saying they're perfect, because I'd need to be clairvoyant to know that for sure, but I like what I can see. Their website is one of the most, what I would describe as open dog food websites I've seen. It takes some hunting around all the different areas of the website, but a lot of good information is there (and well presented!). And I don't mean a bunch of buzz words spewed on a mostly empty page with a bunch of pictures of cute dogs. I mean real, quantified information on a page with a bunch of pictures of cute dogs (why would you skip a chance at pictures of cute dogs?). For instance, they say their slice and serve food is "minimally processed" and "gently cooked". Well what the heck does that mean, exactly? It means this. Not only do they tell you the thermal units used to cook the food, but they give a handy dandy comparison to typical dry and wet foods as well. It's nice to feel like I'm not just taking their word for it. They're making a claim, backing it up with their information, and letting me decide for myself. As it should be!

You know what else is great? The ingredients in these gently cooked logs. No meals, no byproducts, nothing that suggests the unsavory bits of the animal. Does this mean their "fresh chicken" doesn't come from the 4Ds? Goodness I hope so! But at least I'm getting meat and not bones and beaks and what not. Also, every ingredient that's in there has a purpose (which they explain in their philosophy pages). The grain isn't filler, it's whole grain, it's nutritious. There are ingredients to provide fiber, prebiotics, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, etc. along with the usual vitamins and minerals. Nothing too scary. As I've said in the past, when you slice into the log, you can actually smell chicken. It has the consistency of real meat, and you can see the bits of the grains and fruits and vegetables sprinkled throughout.

I'm not trying to preach that what you should feed your dog. That's up to you, and what you think is best. I'm just trying to pay it forward. A friend of mine told me about Deli Fresh, and before that, I didn't even know products like this existed. And I am just a really big fan.

Anyway, in the course of events (aka, yada yada yada), last week I ended up with free samples from Freshpet in exchange for a review on this here blog. They had posted on the Freshpet Facebook page that anyone interested in free samples of their new product with a blog should contact them. I already touted them a number of times on this blog, so why not? By the end of the week I had four 2LB logs of their new Vital line of product. The main difference between the Vital line and the Deli Fresh line is that Vital is grain free. They focus more on high protein and antioxidants. 2 of the 4 varieties are 85% protein and 10% fruits and vegetables. It says so right on the package. I guess the other 10% is the vitamins and minerals? Another is 80%/10%, and they also have an all meat variety that is 90% protein! Yeah, that's a lot.

So far I've fed Theo 3 of the 4 varieties, and here's what I found:
  • The Vital and Deli Fresh products are very similar and quality. Just like the Deli Fresh, you can smell meat, and see bits of vegetable and fruit. It looks like real food that's been squished into a log.
  • 90% protein is kind of an insane amount! I ended up with a dog that was a 90% ball of energy. On Tuesday I took Theo for our usual morning run. Usually when we get back to our house, Theo collapses on the ground while he waits for me to take off his collar. This time he stayed standing, and when his collar was off, he ran for his tennis ball for me to throw for him. That was a first. And you can tell when you slice into it that it is really almost all meat. It looks like it.
  • You can tell a lot about a dog's health by their poop, and Theo's poop has been great this week. Regular intervals, nice and solid, etc. His system obviously processed the food nicely.
  • Theo didn't experience any discomfort in the switch between products. He ate it up like any other day, no visible tummy aches.
  • Need I even bother mentioning that Theo likes the food? Of course he did. It's food, ergo, he likes it. I don't know if he even noticed a difference, since he wolfs it down just the same.

Overall I am really pleased with the Vital food. I had never fed Theo a strictly grain-free diet before, and besides the little boost in energy, I didn't notice a big difference in him (which is a good thing, I think, since he's already on a high quality food). Each of the 4 varieties is aimed at a specific dietary need for some dogs (limited ingredients, alternative protein, etc.), but since Theo doesn't have any special dietary needs, I could feed him all 4. I know a lot of people do the grain-free approach, but as long as they're whole grains, I've never had a problem with them. I don't really subscribe to the ancestral diet idea, since by that same reasoning I shouldn't drink milk or eat cheese, which are both very good for me and delicious! But let's put it this way, if Deli Fresh didn't exist, I would but Vital. I really like both products for the same reasons, I just like Deli Fresh a hair more, I just like the focus of their ingredients a little better. And I hate to say it, but Vital isn't yet carried in the big 6lb logs at my pet store. When they are there side by side (which they may be next time I go, this is a new product after all!), I'll actually probably have a hard time deciding which to buy. I probably shouldn't switch between them, but I'll be tempted!

To find where you can buy Vital near you, here is their store locator. You might be surprised to find that it's carried close to you, I know I was! Be not afraid of the refrigerated section!

I'm fully aware that it sounds like Freshpet paid me in more than just meat for an endorsement, but really they didn't (I wish! I'm going to be needing the money very soon!). I would have written this up without a free sample (though free samples help me get over my laziness, let's be honest), just because I love it so much. I actually go out of my way to buy it, since the pet store I buy every other item for Theo doesn't carry it, which reminds me, I've been meaning to ask the manager about that because I sure would love to just make one trip. I actually just sent emailed them requesting they carry it!

Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter. Feel free to chime in if you've tried any Freshpet products yourself, your take on "gently cooked" food, or whether you subscribe to the grain-free approach or not and why.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trudge On!

Theo went on his first hike 2 weekends ago! Like a real hike. Up a mountain.

It was kind of a random last minute thing. My friend called me the day before asking if I wanted to go hiking with him the next morning. It was a relatively short, and easy hike (6 miles round trip), and it was listed as dog-friendly, so I could bring Theo along. It just so happened that Theo had been completely stir-crazy that day, so I thought a hike would be just the thing for both of us.

The mountain we climbed was relatively short, but it took so much mileage to get up it because it was basically just a series of switch-backs. This worked out well because if you didn't know, Theo's legs are a little shorter than the average dog. So rather than trying to climb straight up a mountain, we got to climb a steep turn, then walk a relatively flat trail, and another steep turn, another flat trail, etc. So basically, for Theo it was a few high jumps, followed by mostly easy trail.

And he was a rock star! He loved every minute of it! Some of the climbing was really steep, involving climbing some pretty big rocks. I always expected him to stop and cry for me to lift him up them, but no, He worked it out on his own, figuring out the best hops and jumps to best get him around the bend. I was so proud of him! And, being the energizer bunny, he didn't slow down the entire climb. He was too happy to bother with something as pesky as being tired.

Here's a tip about those hiking guide books: when they say a hike is dog-friendly, I don't think they image someone bringing their toy poodle. I saw dog after dog on the trail, but they were all huge. Lots of Labs and Shepherds, and one lone Beagle who made a quick friend of Theo (Theo considers Beagles honorary Corgis, I think). Just about everyone we passed marveled at such a stumpy-legged dog making such a steep climb. A few people even expressed concern. All for not, of course. Theo needed to sympathy. He actually out-hiked my friend, who kept the pace a bit too slow for Theo's liking.

At the top of the mountain we took a short break for some water, then headed back down. This is the part I was most concerned about. Not for Theo. For myself! I am fine with climbing up anything, but climbing back down is always where I falter. See, I'm tall. Tall people have a high center of gravity. Also, I'm clumsy. Tall, clumsy people have a long way to fall. And I had Theo attached to me. Theo likes to climb down things. He has a very low center of gravity. He doesn't have to worry about falling down. And he doesn't understand that mommies really don't want to be dragged down steep rocks for fear of their lives. Thankfully Theo was pretty good about not yanking on the leash while I was in the middle of being precariously perched, and we all three made it down safe and sound.

It was a really great time. Overall, my favorite moment was when Theo leaped onto the smooth face of a steep rock, couldn't find traction, and slowly slipped back to the ground. What'd he do? He leaped up to the same spot again, and sliiiiiiid back to the ground. It was hilarious to watch! It looked as if he was thinking "This time I'll make it for sure!" So cute. I finally had to suggest an alternate route for him, when I could stop laughing long enough to speak. A close second was when we passed a small child who was crying and throwing a fit to his parents. He had fallen down and was hurt. Far too hurt to possibly consider continuing on the hike! Or so he was trying to convince them. Theo, distressed at the thought of an adorable child being so unhappy, ran up to the boy and started gently licking his fingers, to try to assure him that everything was ok. The boy immediately stopped cry, smiled at Theo, said "Hello doggie!" and bend down to pet him. As soon as we parted, I heard him start trying again, picking up where he left off. Sorry kid, I think your parents were on to you. Hehe!

Husband was bummed to miss the hike, he was out of town, so I'm sure we'll be doing it again soon with him in tow. Since I was handling Theo on my own, I didn't get a chance to take any pictures, which bums me out. Next time!

So after a 6 mile hike full of leaping and bounding over rocks, what does Theo do as soon as we walk in the door? Well if you read this blog with any kind of regularity, I'm sure you can guess that he immediately got a toy for me to throw for him. Yes, he actually still had energy to play fetch. I'll admit, it was a very half-hearted game of fetch, but the fact that he didn't immediately keel over and take a nap stunned me. I don't call him the energizer bunny for nothing, people!

Do you have any fun hiking stories with your dog to share? Is s/he like Theo in considering the steeper the climb the better?