Cooper's Thoughts on Japan and Breath Freshening Treats

Enjoying a car ride
So Mom is pretty busy again this week with final papers and exams for school (she has less than two weeks left!) so I’m going to write the blog this week.  I’m Cooper, by the way.  Cooper Neal Mahakian Lambertus.  Which is a lot of names to learn, even for a highly intelligent puggle like me.  Fortunately Mom and Dad usually just stick with Cooper.  In case you are wondering, I am 7 years old, I spent my childhood in Ohio and I like to stay in really good shape.  I run around my backyard a lot trying to keep the squirrels away, and once I trapped a possum, and I’ve found bunnies under the deck a bunch of times.  This was not my first home but it is for sure my furever home.  I love my mom and dad (and even Fagan and my cat sister Laverne), I have a couple of super good friends that come to visit, and I even get to sleep on the big cloud bed with the whole family at night! Mom says it’s getting a little crowded... but it’s the best home ever!  

It’s been an interesting week.  Yesterday we took a car ride with Mom and Dad.  Which is usually great, because I love taking car rides with my people parents.  And it was Sunday, which I think Fagan explained last week was, like, the best day of the week.  But then Dad got out of the car with a suitcase, gave Mom a kiss, gave Fagan & me hugs, and went into a building.  And Mom drove away with us.  What was that about?!?  This is not okay.  Mom explained that Dad was going on a business trip to a place called Japan, and he would only be gone for 5 sleeps, but I don’t think I like this at all.  And Fagan really doesn’t like it; she’s been pouting a lot. Aaaaaanyway......

My fave photo
I thought I would talk about treats today.  Because I really like treats.  Probably more than regular food.  My favorite treats?  Ones that taste like coconut... or peanut butter.... or mint and parsley.  Yeah, I know mint and parsley sound like a weird combination, but they taste pretty darn good and Mom says they make my breath smell much better.  Which is awesome, cause there’s a shitzu down the street that I really like.  I think she likes me too, since she smells my butt like every single time she sees me!  So yeah, I digress.  Mom says the mint helps my breath smell better while the parsley helps with the enzymes in my belly.  Not sure what all that means, but if mint & parsley treats taste good and help with the ladies, I am all about ‘em.  And Mom named the mint and parsley treats she makes “Kiss Me Coopers.”  Which is pretty cool.  I bet there aren’t that many dogs with treats named after them!  


Hope you are having a super good week!  I’m going to go patrol the backyard one more time before bed, so I’ll catch you all later!  


Top Five Reasons Sundays are Better

Sunday morning I woke up, yawned, rolled over, leapt out of bed and ran down the hall. I practically inhaled my breakfast and ran to the back door of the house to go outdoors to do some business.  

(Oh. Okay. I guess I should point out that Mom is super busy with homework and starting her new company, so I agreed to do her blog for a week or so. And in case you don’t know who I am, I am Fagan. Puggle extraordinaire living in downtown Brighton with my brother, Cooper (also of puggle heritage), my sister Laverne (a cat) and my parents. So anyway, back to my story.)

As I cavorted around our GINORMOUS backyard with Cooper, I thought a lot about how much I like Sundays.  And how much better they are than Mondays.  After coming back in the house and getting a treat and drinking some water and taking a nap, I thought about it even more and came up with five pretty solid reasons Sundays are better.  

1.  No loud buzzy noises first thing in the morning.  I mean, really.  What are those awful noises Dad sets to go off most mornings, waking the entire house and interrupting some awfully good puggle dreams. Like one day last week, I was dreaming of running through the green grass (that stuff I haven’t seen in months ‘cause it’s covered with snow) and rolling around in the sunshine and BAM! That loud buzzy thing next to the bed starts making its racket and then everyone has to get up. Don’t like it and Sundays it doesn’t ever seem to work. So I like Sundays. 

2.  More snuggles. Everyone seems to have a lot more time to relinquish a lap and let me take advantage of some good snuggle time. I really like to hang out with my peoples, and it seems like they are awfully busy with other stuff on other days and snuggle time is pretty limited. But on Sundays? They get a big mug of that stuff they drink every morning and they sit back down. Which allows a puggle and her brother to take advantage of some serious lap time. Good stuff.  

3.  Play time in the yard. Whether it is winter and Dad is out there with the loud, snow blowy toy that he likes to push around the yard, or it's summer and Mom is planting pretty, smell good things for Cooper to pee on (that is why she plants them, right?), the weekends mean some serious play time in our awesome yard.  We get to run up and down the fence, and roll around in the sunshine, and play ball for hours.  Sometimes the neighbors will stop by and that gives Cooper the chance to really stretch his vocal chords.  He’s a super good barker!  I try to be a super good barker too but I usually lose interest after someone starts petting me, but not Cooper!  He commits to the bark!

4.  Mom makes super yummy treats for us in the big box with a door in the kitchen.  Today I heard her making some noise in the kitchen and came out to investigate.... What did I find?  Mom was making some of those AMAZING cheesy treats that I love so much!  She says that they take me on a flavor joyride to the intersection of Cheddar and Parmesan.  I just think they taste fantastic; they are my favorite right after the Michigan Cherry Berry Bites.  And apparently, once school is over in a few weeks, she’ll be making treats a lot more often.  

5.  Family field trips.  Dad is gone a lot during the week, so on the weekends, he likes to take us lots of places.  Sometimes we go on super duper long walks and he lets us smell just about everything.  Other times we all get in the car (except Laverne, she’s old and cranky and doesn’t like cars at ALL) and we go to the best places!  Like Kensington MetroPark, or Island Lake Recreation Area, or the dog park, or PetSmart, or Starbucks, or some other magical place where the people are super smart and like dogs!  It’s super amazeballs  and we all get to hang out!  Dad wanted to take us to see Frozen this week, but Mom told him about some crazy rule that theaters don’t let people bring dogs with them (that’s crazy, in my puggle opinion, by the way!!!), so Dad said we’ll have to wait until summer and go see a movie at the drive in.  GO DAD!  Can’t wait!  By the way, if you haven’t seen Frozen, Mom has been playing the song “In Summer” a lot and I have included here for your listening pleasure:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFatVn1hP3o



So what is your favorite day?  Is it Sunday too?  

Pugs and kisses, 

Fagan Marie 

Why does my dog's food cost more than my food???

Cooper enjoys a good story
There has been a huge shift in the pet industry recently.  Not so long ago, we were feeding our dogs’ Purina Dog Chow, which currently costs about $23 for a 46 pound bag (that works out to about fifty cents a pound).  Now there are premium, super premium and ultra premium foods being sold at virtually every store that sells pet food.  And these foods come at a “premium” price.... the Blue Wilderness Salmon Dog Food is $59 for a 24 pound bag (that works out to about $2.46 a pound).  How did we end up buying dog foods for nearly 500% more than we used to pay?

Well, a couple of things happened in the pet industry over the past twenty years.  First, we started looking at our dogs less as animals we “owned” and more like family members.  PetSmart refers to their human customers as “pet parents.”  This trend has driven pet industry spending from $17 billion in 1994 to nearly $60 billion in 2013.  This spending increased at a steady 4-5% every year, including during the recession years.  We are clothing our pets, buying orthopedic beds for our pets, and they are eating often as well or better) than we eat. 

Fagan loves the kitchen!  
Secondly, there have been a few pet food recalls that have frightened many owners into feeling obligated to buy "better" foods.  The Menu Pet Food recall of 2007 included more than 150 brands that were produced, at least in part, in China.  Melamine was found in many of the we food products after a significant number of pets got sick or died from eating the foods.  

So where does that leave us when trying to feed our pets?  Well, we need to use our eyes to read labels and some common sense.  Look for products made in the US; China and other developing countries have different manufacturing standards.  Keep the corn, wheat and soy to a minimum; dogs are carnivores and the inclusion of these items has no value to your dog’s diet.  Plus corn, wheat and soy are often found to be allergens in dogs.  Skip the chicken and beef by-products.  And finally, look at the “guaranteed analysis on the label; items high in protein with moderate levels of animal fat and higher moisture content are generally regarded as being better for your pet.  
Michigan Cherry Berry Bites 


Finally, keep in mind that pet industry marketing is done for the benefit of the business, not as a public service to the community.  It’s up to us to research and make decisions that are based on the best information we can find.  

Cooper: Our "Tail" of Successful Pet Adoption

With this weekend being the PetSmart National Adoption Weekend, it got me thinking about all the animals sitting in shelters and rescue organizations, waiting for a family to come find them and take them home.  

We had Fagan since she was a puppy, and about six months later I saw Cooper on a rescue site.  He was in Ohio (not far from where we had driven to get Fagan) so I reached out via email to the rescue.  I didn’t hear back for a couple of days so I sent another email.  Cooper’s foster mom emailed me back that time, but explained that she was hesitant to adopt Cooper out.  Cooper had been abused in his first home, and as a result has some protective aggression issues that had caused some problems in the two adoptive homes he had been in since.  


I took Fagan with me to meet Cooper at a PetSmart in Ohio about four hours from our home, and he was very docile and calm.  We decided we definitely wanted him so they finished the paperwork I had started online and we were soon close to heading home.  Cooper’s foster mom made me promise that if he didn’t work out in our home that I would call her to get him, rather than take him to a shelter.  I promised that we would keep in touch with her, and then we were on our way. 

Cooper has been the best little man and fits in perfectly in our home.  When I occasionally ponder his quirks (overall he still doesn’t like strangers in our home) I have to remind myself that his issues were created by humans, like most behavioral problems that dogs have.  He plays and naps with his puggle sister, and although he and the now eighteen year old cat started out not the best of friends, they apparently now have come to a mutual understanding of the order of things (the cat is in charge).  When we bought  our half acre yard and the house that was attached, Cooper was in heaven patrolling the yard and chasing squirrels and rabbits and the occasional opossum.  We live near a relatively small downtown area now, where we visit stores & coffee shops and the Mill Pond with its duck population, and Cooper has thrived in an environment with so much social interaction.  

So if you are ever thinking about finding an animal to become part of your family, please consider a rescue pet.  You may find a furry soul who is the perfect match for you that really just wants a person or family to love.  They may have an issue or two for you to contend with or work out, but I’m guessing we all have a few of those ourselves...   

Happy Pet Adoption Weekend to you all!

February adventures with dogs

When it’s bitterly cold and dark outside by the time we get home for work, it’s very tempting to snuggle up on the couch for the evening.  But our dogs are starting to get cabin fever from being inside so much.  What can we do to give our dogs something to do without any of us getting frostbite?  

If your dog is good in cars, there are tons of places that our puggles like to visit!  The Starbucks in Brighton gives the furry kids that come through their drive thru window a lid with whipped cream in it!  Many banks and fast food restaurants also keep treats for the dogs that visit their drive thru windows.  So take your fur kids on errands with you!

Fagan & Cooper enjoying a road trip
PetSmart is a great place to take your dog and they are always welcome!  They can try on a new collar or coat, check out the treat section, and sniff all the toys and dog butts they can find.  PetSmart also has some great training classes for dogs of all ages and training levels.  And of course, on their way out of the store, they are always offered a treat. 

There are facilities that offer dog agility classes and swimming classes, and these have the double benefit of exercise and socialization at the same time.  Check around your area... you may be surprised to find the activities offered for dogs!

Dogs - particularly larger dogs - absolutely love the snow and playing fetch can last longer than the pet parent wants to be outside!  Our yard can become quite the place to be once we start throwing balls (or snowballs with a treat stuck inside).  

During a walk during a somewhat warmer day, there are tons of places that the puggles are welcomed!  As I’ve mentioned before, Two Brothers Coffee on Main Street welcomes dogs inside for a treat while their owners warm up with a latte or cappuccino.  Because Cooper was an abused rescue before he came to live with us, going downtown and getting him acclimated to being around people was crucial and he has made so much progress since we moved here.  Dogs are social animals and the more you can have them be around other people and dogs, particularly when they are young, the more they will benefit.  

Of course, there isn’t anything much better than snuggling with a furry lap warmer when it’s cold outside, but remember - our dogs love (and need) to get out for an adventure whenever possible! 



Let's "paws" for a moment and consider winter feet


Actually, I’d like you to think specifically about your dog’s feet.  February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and the winter weather, combined with ice melting products, can wreak havoc on our puppaloos’ paws!  So here are a few ideas for you to think about.

Long-haired breeds need to have the hair trimmed between their paw pads.  This will help to prevent snow from balling up around the hair and causing pain for your dog while walking or running.  Groomers are really good at doing this; if you don’t have a groomer available to you then there are many articles explaining how to do this at home.  

Our cousin Roxie!
Dogs also need their nails clipped.  Otherwise, the long nails can splay the dog’s foot out while they are walking, allowing snow to accumulate between the pads.  Can you even imagine the discomfort of walking barefoot and getting snow stuck between your toes??  

Snow, salt and just general cold can make winter really uncomfortable for your dog and his feet.  Just like us, proper care and preventative maintenance can really help.  A pet specific product, like dog paw wax, can help with snow getting between the paws and causing irritation.  If you use this type of product, it must be applied every time the dog goes outside.  Other products, like bag balm (found in drugstores), when used regularly, will help heal cracks and cuts in the pads and prevent the pad from cracking.  Other products are out there too; asking your favorite pet store or veterinarian will yield some valuable ideas.  

Finally, one of the best way to prevent damage to your pet’s feet and make the walks outside more comfortable are dog boots.  Yes, they may look ridiculous.  But if you make sure to get the right size (again, your favorite pet store can help) and get them used to wearing boots when they are young, it will make your dog’s time outdoors much more enjoyable.  


References

Cameron, M. (2010).  How to care for a dog’s paws and pads in winter.  Retrieved on January 29, 2014 at http://voices.yahoo.com/how-care-dogs-paws-pads-winter-7252500.html

Winter Exercise for your Furry Family Member

Winter is tough for all of us... and especially our dogs!  When it's bitterly cold outside, the last thing we want to do is take our furry little kids on a nice, long walk.  So we end up giving them very little exercise, which contributes to two issues.  One, our dogs need exercise to maintain a healthy weight!  Just like us, if we don't get exercise but keep our calorie intake the same, the weight starts to creep on.  And with dogs, a little weight can affect them much quicker than a pound or two might affect us.  And two, a lack of exercise can contribute to behavioral issues.  Without proper exercise, our pups are far more likely to chew things they are not supposed to chew, have accidents in the home and they can even become irritable (just like us)! 

So what can we do to get our fur kids enough exercise in the bitter cold?  A quick game of ball outside in the yard (or inside, if you have the room) can be a great short burst of exercise.  Also, hiding treats (or a favorite toy) in the house can create a great game of hide and seek, and mental activity will wear a dog out quicker than physical activity!  Another idea is to look into a dog daycare center near your home.  While you go to work, once or twice a week you can take your dog to daycare and they get to play ALL DAY!  This is great for everyone; your pup will come home exhausted and you will get to enjoy a relaxing evening at home.  If you decide to look into daycare, make sure you research the center before taking your dog there.  See if you know someone who takes their dog and get their opinion, see if you can find reviews online, and make sure the center requires the dogs to be spayed or neutered and up to date on all of their shots, like the bordatella shot.  

So if it’s not too cold, get those puppaloos outside and playing in the snow!  If it is too cold, I hope you can find an idea that will keep everyone in your family happy... and healthy!  

Snow Day on Spencer Street


With three new inches of fresh snow and a whole lot of energy, Fagan & Cooper are rested up and ready to roll into town...  First we’ll head to the Mill Pond and traverse our way through the snow covered Tridge system.  In case you’ve never visited Brighton before, the Tridge system is a bridge and trail system that wanders around and over the Mill Pond, with well over a mile and a half of sights and smells that dog noses just cannot resist! 

Before heading home, we’ll stop by Two Brothers Coffee, where a piping hot latte is waiting along with a couple of eagerly anticipated dog biscuits.  Two Brothers Coffee is the best!