Friday, March 4, 2011

PFC Day 2: Merrick "Grammy's Pot Pie" 5-Star Entrees for Dogs

Hi again. Back to it. Shoulda had the dog food first, then the Haagen Dazs. The Dulce de Leche is arguably one of the finest ice creams available- subtle in its sweetness, supple and delicate on the tongue...

The Merrick offering reminds me at first glance of Beneful, which I have not had the pleasure of sampling. This stuff is dry and crunchy, and has a light and crisp consistency. It consists of tiny kibble bites in three variations- one brown, one whitish, and one green. The brown are pretty much as expected, though these have a heavy and almost overcooked protein flavor under the fiber consistency. Certainly not much to my liking this time, though I again think the ice cream may have something to do with this and intensifying the flavor a bit. The whitish bits are mild and almost corn flavored, and the green ones have the flavor of, you guessed it, fibrous peas. Yes, peas. I can actually taste it, and it imparts a kinda pleasant flavor to the mix. For a dog food, not a bad impression of pot pie.

Clifford says: mmmm.... now we're talking. Skip the Purina, and gimme some pot pie! Tell mom I can taste the veggies!!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pet food challenge! Day 1: Platinum Natural Chicken and Rice Dry

More a semi-moist than a dry, this food has a firm consistency and a dark brown color. 70% whole chicken, and no animal "byproducts", I had high hopes for this offering. The representative told us how this food is made from whole chickens, roasted at just below boiling for 16 hours. Or was it 18? 22? Some very long roasting time, anyway. I was assured that this was pure nutrition. They even had a nifty display with several foods in jars with the same amount of water added that morning. This stuff doesn't swell with water like regular kibble, and gets a fun fatty layer floating at the top of the jar.

In short, this stuff tastes like dog food to me. Thinking back on my experience as a three year old sharing kibble with our Great Dane, I recall a fibr flavor. Kiinda grainy, but mostly dry, kinda tasting like hay smells. Doesn't conjure up great ntrition in my mind, in any case. Well, that's where we are with this one. Not bad for flavor exactly, but certainly not vibrant and savory. Second bowl? No thanks. I didn't finish the first one.

Clifford says: serve this on top of my Purina. Higher in protein, sure. Enhanced nutrition, you bet. I'm not picky. Bring on the dog food that tastes like dog food. Yum, another meal in paradise.

Pet food challenge!

So, I'm not sure this particular project has been done before. At least, not in public. Not that anyone will admit to. You might think I'm gross. Or crazy. Or crazy gross. I just wanna know one thing: what's my dog eating every day?

We went to a pet expo downtown in Sarasota the other day, and got a whole bunch of sample packets of dog food, and it occurred to me that a lot of claims were being made about nutrition and palatability, and organicness, and earth-friendliness and the like. Now, nutririon can be quantified, to some extent. Calories, protein and fiber content, vitamins... yeah, yeah. And purity of ingredients can be claimed. We use 70% real chicken and no byproducts! Ok, great. But palatability? Who's actually quantifying this variable?

My dogs think just about everything is tasty. Dog food? All about it. Cheese? Like, OMG! Dead fish, decaying on the beach? That's so tasty they not only devour it, but want to roll in it to take the scent home. I've even seen dogs eat poop. POOP, people.

Now, I'd like to say I'm not one to judge, but come on. We all judge. So, I'm here for you and your dog. I consider myself a bit of a conisseur of people food. I'm not exactly a snob, but I do judge my food rather critically. Bland. Too much salt. Dry. Overcooked. Not enoughh salt. Trying too hard. Not trying enough... so I'm going to take the hit on this one. No, I'm not about to try some poop or dead fish for palatability. But I figure, I feed my dogs out of a giant bag of dried food chunks every day, and they seem to like it quite a here goes...

I'm going to try each and every one of these dog foods. Then on to the next. I'll be judging on several loose criteria, with overall flavor being the holy grail. I'm assuming, for all intents, that nutritionally these foods are all comparable. The specifics, as they stand, may be the subject of future debate. In the scope of this comparison, however, flavor will be king. I rarley rave over how nutritious a meal is. I do rave oer flavor. So here goes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Looking back, I realized my kids have all been posted here, except one. Boo Radley, AKA "Bad Dog" (says so on his ID tag!)... this is one crafty little critter. He used to fly over the 4' chain link to go roaming in Tennessee. He'd end up in the neighbors' backyards, playing with their dogs. More than once, he was brought home in the back of someone's car. A couple apologies later, and I'd always get: "oh, no, he's fine! We love him to death! He was playing with our dogs... we were just leaving, so we thought we'd drop him off at home"

Boo is a classic foster failure. He was foisted on me as a young pup, probably a year old, by a coworker at the vet hospital. "Just until we find him a home." Right. I'm not sure anyone actually looked for a home for him after that. I think I was the mark, the fall guy, the sucker, the intended home. Seven years later, and here he is, still with me, still up to his old antics...

This year for Halloween, he went as... himself. I left him unattended in the backyard for five minutes while Rhys and I were inside, and he managed to find a way under the fence. Guess he wanted to go trick-or-treating. We had a good time driving around for a couple hours yelling "BOO!" out the car window...

I consider him the luckiest dog alive. Not only has he escaped being hit by a car, despite his insistence on fleeing the yard at every opportunity, but he's also escaped being strangled in my frustration...

Harry Potter's food was placed up on my desk, close to the back wall, far out of reach of grounded dogs. Worked for about a day, until Boo realized there was food up there. I noticed that the food was disappearing at a quick rate. Not so surprising, as Harry is a big kid, but then I noticed that the bowl was crumb free. I've never seen a cat lick a bowl, but you never know. Well, the other night, I rounded the corner and caught Boo standing in the middle of the desk top, munching away... I made a noise and he scrambled frantically off the desk and out the door. Tell me he doesn't know better, and I've got a bridge to sell you...

So, we put up a baby gate... right. Not sure exactly why I thought it would change anything. After all, this is a fence jumping, desk mounting, food stealing machine we're dealing with here. That lasted about a day as well, and I came home to find the baby gate laid out in the floor and the food bowl licked clean again... grrr... so now I've just gone back to closing the door.

Things I Learned Today

Sunday is likely the most popular day to realize that something's just not right with the cat. I have to assume that this is because people have mroe time on Sunday to hang out at the house and stare at the cat. Add to that that nobody else but the ER is available to see patients on a Sunday, and I'm thinking Tuesday and Wednesday seem like good days to take off...

No questions so far... email me at if you have a topic for me to write about. Till then, good night...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Harry Potter, and things I learned today

Harry Potter... now lives with me. Temporarily. Or so they tell me. So he's got some urinary issues. We need to test him, but for now we're keeping up with his methioform. And, he's very sweet. He loves attention, and has this habit of stretching out his left paw while he talks to you... quite endearing. Anyone need a cat? Just fill out an adoption application! Until then, he'll be protecting the house from rodents for me :)

Things I learned today:

1. Best to transfer your samples to the serum separator tube before transferring to your EDTA tube if you're using the same needle for both. Got a cat sample back with Ca 4.3 and K of 9.5.... kinda threw me for a loop, not what I was looking for on a Saturday morning. A little research and some help from a colleague, and it turns out that EDTA contamination, even in minute amounts, can jack up your results. I know it binds calcium, but not sure about the potassium...

2. Invoices are something I'm not fond of. Getting them in the mail, or creating them. Needless to say, it's a bit more rewarding to create them, as it means I'm getting paid. I don't enjoy dinking around with spreadsheets much, though. Much as I enjoy doing fruitless tasks for hours on end on the computer, I've identified this one as one more thing I'd as soon have someone else do for me. Thankfully I have an awesome office manager to keep me in line and on track... and she works for free, pretty much. You should be so lucky. Rhys, you're awesome. And, we have an accountant who wants to help us... Rhys's mom, I know where Rhys gets her awesomeness... : )
OK, I guess I really only learned one important thing today. I already kinda knew about invoicing being something I was not interested in...

Oh, 3. Dog food made with 70% chicken, formed into little brown pellets, still tastes like dog food. Not as dry as kibble, but the flavor is still there. Don't judge me. I try just about everything once.

The HSLWR project is moving forward, ever so gradually. It's amazing the amount of work involved in just coordinating a thing like this. We're so close to getting really rolling... I'm really looking forward to bringing in the next round of critters for adoption! We've taken in a cute little Shih tzu who needs some special care, and a little immiticide, and we're preparing a place for her... spay next week, and maybe adopted the next? Stay tuned and find out...

Meanwhile, I've taken on some new clientele, and we're getting the groove of the housecall business. Six animals in one housecall... not bad. Now if I can just get enough prevention products in the same place at the same time to cover it all...

Ask me a question, and I'll try to give you an answer. This could be fun. We might both learn something.
Good night.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lucy, now

Slim and trim, 65 pounds.... here's where I have to give props to Royal Canin. I started her on Weight and Osteo in January last year, and cut her food intake to about a cup and a half a day. The first couple days she gave me the puppy dog eyes and insisted I was starving her to death. She put up with the fat jokes at work, and we started hitting the beach for fetch in the water pretty much daily. Five months later, she finally reached her fighting weight, and the difference was incredible!

At her fat weight, she would get winded just running up and down the yard a couple times. It was a struggle just getting up, and she would lay around the house and pant for no apparent reason. Short runs would leave her stiff and half lame... i even thought about putting her on Rimadyl!

Now she's a puppy again. 25 pounds later, and she is running laps around her old self. Get the weight off. Totally worth it. YOU are responsible for what your dog eats. Don't look at me like I'm crazy when I tell you your dog is fat. Been there. Done that. Good night.

Fatador (sorry, Lucy!)

IMG_4184 copy (Custom)
Originally uploaded by screeminee
Lucy then... after a couple years on the free her peak, she hit almost 90 pounds! Crazy for a dog her size. She still loved to run and play, swim and fetch, but it was getting hard. She would lay in front of the food bowl, munching away, until she hit the obese stage. She had trouble getting up, and short sprints would leave her sore for hours. People seem to think labs are supposed to be chunky. Psha. You put on 75 extra pounds and see how it feels.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Going on my new business cards, and my website... so far. Many many many thanks to my awesome babe-a-licious Sunshine for entertaining me and coaching me through setting this thing up. After several years using basic functions in Photoshop, I realize that there's a lot more I don't know about it than what I do know... and thanks too for investing in the preventive products portion of the business. Deliveries tomorrow...

AND many many many thanks to my financial and logistics supporters... I've had a couple people step up to provide my insurance, organization memberships, funding for my DEA license, my web domain, a business phone line, and serious marketing mojo... I mean, basically, all my setup costs. Couldn't come at a better time for me either, as I couldn't have gotten this far without help. Now, I just need clients. Lots of them. Bring 'em on. We're ready to roll.

Worked relief for a clinic down south today, and had a pretty good time. It's nice to have a guaranteed paycheck as an 'independent contractor'. I was also offered 2 days a week for a month later in the year. Supplemental income? Don't mind if I do...

These last couple months have been incredibly stressful. We've accomplished things I hadn't even conceived before. We've survived the stress of working 70 hours a week for the simple joy of working. We love what we do. Lots of people get paid to go do jobs they hate. We're lucky by comparison, overall, I think, most days. I wish I could afford to just go to work for free. I do spays and neuters for fun, on the weekends. I let my heartworm patients sleep in the bed with me, so long as they don't absolutely reek. There's a cat living in my house, waiting for a home. I'm allergic to cats.

So, Vets to YOU! is now a reality. I'm looking forward to having a full schedule. I'm looking forward to hiring a tech and an office manager. I'm looking forward to renegotiating my fee for 'borrowing' a surgical and dental suite. Bookkeeping not so much... but it's all necessary.

We'll be donating 2% of our sales to Fairy Tail Endings, Inc.. The IRS says I can't be a contractor for the organization, which is probably just as well. I can donate though! The nonprofit status should be granted any day, so we can start accepting outside donations and making a difference.... Rhys is getting excited, and I am too...

Some folks in MA poached the Fairy Tail Endings, Inc. name... they're a shelter and non-profit. Don't know what the law says exactly about interstate copyright/trademark policies, but... I'm thinking of sending them a cease and desist letter, but I'm also thinking they're also a nonprofit animal rescue group, and we're basically trying to accomplish the same thing, so... we'll have to think a while to formulate a response. FWIW, we are NOT affiliated on ANY way.

Good night couch. Good night chair. Good night computer. Good night you. Go to bed. I am...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cliffie sporting his Walkin' Wheels from Aint he handsome? It's mid 70s in Florida while everyone else is getting snowed in... we're hitting the beach!

Vets to YOU! is now underway

I've come to the conclusion that people don't really like going to the vet. Dogs like it even less than the owners most of the time. So I'm bringing my services to you. In the works: contracting with a local clinic for use of surgical suites, dental tools, x-ray services, and other things I can't fit in my car. Starting a website, and finding ways to maximize exposure to new potential clients. And, getting the shelter running! For now, check out for news and updates on the Humane Society. We're growing and really gaining momentum after our AWESOME kick-off extravaganza... right, add to the list getting my thank-yous out to everyone who made that happen. Turns out running a couple businesses is more work than going to work most days. I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome, and some income, in the near future. For now, I'm just eating a lot of ramen noodles...