Hurricane Gustav

With hurricane Gustav expecting to hit on Monday a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans has been ordered. Now, one would think that given the experience of Katrina and what people went through they would be clamouring to leave the city. Well, sadly, that is not the case. Check out this post at Shakesville. Apparently some people don’t want to leave because they lose their jobs – as dishwashers. Even more ominous are the people who feel they can’t leave because they are undocumented illegals in the US. Authorities day that no identity papers are required to get on the buses provided by the city but apparently officials from Immigration will be there. What a horrible choice to have to make – stay and risk death or injury or leave and risk deportation.

There is something seriously wrong in the US when people feel they can’t flee an area because of their immigration status. If New Orleans was serious about saving lives there would be no immigration officials present on these buses. But as we all know it is the poor who will need the transportation provided by the City and it seems they are going to use this opportunity to punish the poor yet again. Is it not enough that much of the subsidized housing available in New Orleans has not been rebuilt yet as a result of Katrina?

I came across another post at Shakesville about what has not been accomplished since Katrina. It is truly scary. Clearly, Katrina has been used as a vehicle to remove poor people (most likely women and people of colour) from the city. The run up to Gustav indicates that it is Act II. I feel sick.

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Published in: on August 31, 2008 at 8:43 pm  Comments (1)  

The Inmates have taken over the Asylum: The Littlest One

Molly, a former SAINT, is our littlest, slightly crazy, neurologically screwed up purebred Pomeranian. She has had more than a few strokes and she kind of walks like a question mark and does everything to the right. She is a fierce protector of my office and she will ‘shark attack’ any four-legged creature who comes near my office door or her food. She especially has it in for the cat. I am not sure why given that Molly weighs 5 pounds and the cat – 25 pounds.

Bella on a hot day

Bella on a hot day

Molly

Molly

Just a little size differential! But the truth is everyone here thinks she is crazy and Molly uses it to her advantage. Even the 130 pound Newfoundland Dog, Kiefer, is a little wary of her. What none of them know is that Molly has not teeth. We promised her we wouldn’t tell them!

For a dog her size Molly has so much chutzpah it is unreal. When she first came here and was recovering from having all of her teeth removed we fed her wet commercial dog food. Within a couple of weeks though we kept catching her with raw food – chicken legs, pork bones, beef etc. She was stealing it from whoever she could get it from but mostly Clio. So we decided to start giving Molly raw. The only problem is that because she can’t chew the bone she can’t get all the value and nutrients of bone so we do have to supplement with ground bone for her. For a dog who has no teeth I have never seen anything quite like how she is able to strip a raw chicken leg in under 10 minutes. Here is the evidence”

Molly with her two chicken legs

Molly with her two chicken legs

About 20 minutes later here is what is left:

What is left...

What is left...

Molly is perhaps one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. She gives herself, wholly and completely to those she loves. Sometimes, when we are outside, we will play this little game where she runs away from me. I admonish her to come back and she looks at me, turns on her little feet, and spins a little further away. I call her again in a happy voice and clap my hands. She comes running and I bend down and put my hands out and she jumps into my arms. It is so very sweet. She loves to be held, but only a certain way to accommodate for her neurological issues, cuddled and stroked.

Perhaps her biggest claim to fame is her pilates and yoga routine. When Molly wants attention she will stretch her backlegs out very purposefully, one at a time. Then she will engage in some yoga poses that we have named ‘downward dog and ‘the frog.’ It has been very difficult to get pictures of her doing this but I think we successfully got some video. Check out Molly’s YouTube Video:

Published in: on August 28, 2008 at 12:36 am  Comments (7)  

What the struggle is really about

In some very sad news, Del Martin, wife of Phyllis Lyon, passed away this morning. Phyllis and Del were in the vanguard of a burgeoning gays right community in the 1950s when they formed the Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian rights group. They were finally able to marry, this year in California, and did so in June. Rest in peace Del and many condolences to Phyllis.

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 11:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Wow, Thank You!

Well, the blog has officially gone over 10,000 hits. It was hovering just below last night and this morning it is over. Thank you to everyone who reads, links and comments. It is an honour.

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 9:41 pm  Comments (1)  

I think I might be weird: The toilet paper edition

Ok, so I confess right off the top that I know I am weird. I have been told I have weird addictions (kleenex and lip balm). But nothing is quite as weird as my need to have toilet paper in the house. Now, I am not talking a couple of rolls – I want like 30. We got down to 5 rolls this week and I was busy becoming paniced and figuring out when we were going go Costco to be the toilet paper. Now, part of the problem is that we have a septic system and there is really only one kind of toilet paper I like that does not bung up the system. Generally, only Costco has this kind but I had seen it at our local grocery store.

So yesterday I went up and looked for and could not find it so I was resigned to going to Costco. Then, on the way out, out of the corner of my eye, I spied it!!! Right by the freaking door!!! I walked right by it! So now I am happy. We have at least 33 rolls of toilet paper in the house and I won’t need to worry for a while.

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 6:34 am  Comments (4)  

Leashing children?

I was at the local grocery store today and I saw a mother with her child. The child had a harness on and there was a leash attached to it. Now, I am not sure if there was a reason for this but none that I observed. She was holding the little girl’s hand in addition to having her leashed. I don’t have children (and maybe some of you who do will comment) but I can’t see why you would want to leash them unless they were so fast and destructive that it was for thier own safety. This little girl just seemed to be learning to walk and the leash seemed really bizarre. Maybe it is just me.

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 1:09 am  Comments (17)  

Chris’ iPod: Emmylou Harris

What can I say, I have been listening to Emmylou Harris al ot recently. There is something about her voice that just touches my soul. Her voice is full of character and soars beautifully. One of my favourite albums is Red Dirt Girl. There are many great cuts on this disc. One song, “My Antonia,” he sings this song with Dave Matthews and it is out of this world. Their voices work so well together. Emmylou covers a lot of other people’s songs. There is one called Blackhawk that was written by Daniel Lanois. It is quintessentially Canadian referencing the Dofasco steel plant and a book store on ‘St. Clair.’ It is on the Wrecking Ball album, another song written by a Canadian: Neil Young. Other stand outs on this album are “Sweet Old World” which she sings with Neil Young and “Waltz Across Texas Tonight.”

Most people know Emmylou Harris as a country singer. Wrecking Ball marked a shift in the kind of music she made. While it still has that country twang here and there it is by far more eclectic. In 2006 she teamed up with Mark Knopfler and they released “All the Roadrunning.” This album has some great tracks as well. “If this is Goodbye.” is an absolute gem. I also love “This is Us” which is a lovely song about the course of a relationship and how things change. I think this album contributed to the later collaboration of Allison Krauss and Robert Plant. Their album “Raising Sand” seems to be in the same vein: two veteran musicians from very diverse musical genres collaboration to produce something completely different. In my opinion, the Emmylou/Mark collaboration is stronger.

I think what really appeals to me about Emmylou Harris is her unique phrasing. Her style is quite different from mainstream music. She has a bit of an edge to her voice that really appeals to me. I am not really a fan of the ‘perfect voice’ like Celine Dion for example. So, if you are looking for something different I suggest starting with “Wrecking Ball” or “Red Dirt Girl.” You won’t be disappointed.

Published in: on August 24, 2008 at 11:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Raw-feeding 101

I am often asked about how one goes about converting a dog from kibble to raw. Many people, concerned about the pet food poisonings from last year, are looking for a more healthy way to feed their animals. What better way than feeding carnivores a species appropriate diet of raw meat and bone? Raw feeding is not rocket science. We have been conditioned over the years by vets and pet food companies that our dogs need all these supplement and special foods that can only be found in their expensive kibble. Now, I am not going to go into all the evils of kibble. There are lots of sites out there that discuss this issue far better than I could. Here are a couple of links: link 1

There are different methods of feeding a raw diet. The two prominent ones are the BARF (bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw foods) and RMBs (raw meaty bones). People who feed BARF believe that in addition to feeding raw meat you feed raw vegetables as well. Now, I am not going to get into the debate about whether or not dogs need vegetables. Personally, I don’t believe they do. That being said are dogs do get some vegetables in their diets. In my opinion, dogs need a healthy variety in their diets which includes all sorts of foods.

Once you decide to feed raw you are faced with a plethora of choices. Should you feed ground raw? What about veggies? Grains? Supplements? It can be an extremely daunting undertaking. We first decided to feed raw when one of our shihtzus developed a bladder stone. When it was removed it looked identical to a piece of Iams kibble – which is what they had eaten for years. I did a little research and learned pretty quickly that bladder stones form in a high ph environment in the body. Feeding raw makes the body more acidic and prohibits the formation of the stones. At first we fed a ground raw that had veggies, supplements and some kind of grain ie oats, rice etc. We did this for a while until the quality started to slip and the dogs would no longer eat it. We then tried making our own which proved to be a whole lot of work and not much fun. More research let us to the conclusion that feeding raw meaty bones was the most appropriate diet for our canine family.

Now, a little definition, a raw meaty bone (RMB) is not a bone with a little meat. Think of a chicken leg and thigh and that is what I am referring to when I talk about RMBs. Another good example is pork bones, riblets, ribs, chops etc. Dogs are able to chew up and digest raw chicken and pork bones. These bones are only dangerous to our dogs in the cooked form. Beef ribs and shank steaks, for example, are also good examples of RMBs but the dogs cannot chew up the beef bones.

If you are considering starting your dog on RMBs, and your dog is a bit of a gulper, it is wise to start with pieces that are larger than the dogs head. This will encourage the dog to chew and eat the food rather than swallowing it whole. When first starting out it is advisable to start with one meat source – chicken is usually a good first choice for many reasons. Chicken has almost the perfect ratio of meat, bone and organ (more about that later). The bone is easily eaten and digested by the dogs. It takes the dogs a couple of weeks to adjust to the new diet and there could be diarrhea. Chicken will mitigate this problem. The bone in the chicken will help to produce firm stools (bone poops). After a couple of weeks you can start to add other meats. If the dog develops diarrhea then adding some chicken bone with richer meat is one solution. For the first couple of weeks it is also a good idea to give the dog some yogurt – like plain astro or something like that.

Let’s talk about amounts of food and ratios. First of all you want to feed 1-3% of a dog’s ideal body weight depending on the dog’s activity level. You will need to buy a scale and weigh the food. You also want to feed based on the following ratio: 10% bone, 10% organ – of which 50% is liver. Now, before I lose you, you don’t need to feed this everyday. We are striving for balance over time. In our house we rotate through different meats, every other day is chicken as it is the perfect ratio. Getting the organs in can sometimes pose a problem as some dogs don’t like them. We have that problem here and have solved the problem by drying liver and other organ meats for the dogs.

A bit about sourcing the food for your dog. We find that we get really good variety from a small Asian grocery store in Vancouver. We get excellent prices and they will cut and package the meat as we want. They also have more ‘diversity’ than your average grocery store. We have found things like pig snouts, pig tails, lung, spleen, chicken feet, rabbit etc. You need to make sure that you find a reputable source for your meat. If feeding your dog organic is important to you then you will want to find an organic source.

Dog size is no barrier to feeding raw. In our house we started the pug on raw at 6 weeks of age. She had her first lamb neck slice at 8 weeks. Everyone eats raw at our house. We have a 19 year old Pomeranian who has no teeth. We were giving her other food and she started to steal RMBs from the other dogs. So we gave up. We still need to supplement her diet with some commercial food as she cannot eat the bone (no teeth) and she develops diarrhea from time to time. She really enjoys here RMBs and can strip a raw chicken leg in under 15 minutes. The other dogs are very helpful by cleaning up her bones when she is done.

Molly with a big beef bone

Molly with a big beef bone

What benefits can you expect from feeding raw? Overall we have noticed an increased level of health. Our dogs have not been treated for fleas since we got rid of the fleas in the house we bought. We have not treated for fleas for over 18 months in spite of the fact that we have multiple dogs who go offleash all the time. Our dogs seem to need to go to the vet less. Their teeth are pristine. All of the bone chewing, meat ripping and masticating keeps their teeth in great shape.  Raw also helps dogs who are prone to allergies. Their meals are entertaining for them and very enjoyable.

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I will answer them there or expand this post. Here are some other great links:

Rawfeeding group at Yahoo – high volume list.

Raw Meaty Bones list at Yahoo

More Pictures:

Piper with a RMB

Piper with a RMB

Clio finishing up some chicken

Clio finishing up some chicken

Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 10:03 pm  Comments (12)  

Tucker went to the vet yesterday…

Tucker laying on a comfy bed

Tucker laying on a comfy bed

It was a pretty new adventure for Mr. Tucker who has spent most of his 15 years of life in a pen. He must have been at least once as he is neutered. He handled it like a trooper! Dr. David Loff is perhaps the kindest and most gentle vet I have ever met. He handles the rescue dogs so kindly and respectfully. Tucker’s ears were dirty. We knew this and we had been trying to clean them but we didn’t do it right. Dr. Loff squirted some ear cleaning solution into his hear and proceeded to rub around his ear canals with gauze pulling out all the gunk. Tucker started making noise…we thought it was a growl at first but Dr. Loff clarified that it was actually a groan and likely meant a ‘little to the left please.’ I almost cried. Tucker was so clearly enjoying something that most other dogs hate. Likely he has never had his ears cleaned before and there was 15 years of gunk built up in them along with a yeast infection.

Tucker also has arthritis in his hips and so he was started on cartrophen injections, he will get one a week for 4 weeks and he is on metacam to try and reduce the amount inflammation and pain in his hips. He also has a bladder infection so we are off to pick up medication for that and it may (or may not) help with his incontinence problems.

All in all, for a 15 year old dog Tuck is in pretty good shape. Tucker is a SAINT and he is up for adoption. He is a great dog and deserves a home of his own. In the meantime he will be fostered at chez Thomas. Adopting a senior dog will change your life.

Laughing Tucker

Laughing Tucker

Tucker looking kind of regal

Tucker looking kind of regal

Published in: on August 16, 2008 at 9:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Pet Peeves: The Heat Edition

Ok, I confess, I hate summer. Actually, I more than hate it, I loathe it and I dread it. Yet every year it comes. This summer has not been as bad as summers past but it is still bad enough. We are now on day 3 of a heatwave that has seen the temperatures in the valley close to 35 degrees celcius. This is insane. I take a shower, come downstairs, clean up after the dogs, let a few out and I am sweating. It is insanity. Having auto-immune disease makes one even more susceptible to the heat.

It also makes me incredibly bitchy. I have no fucking patience for anything –  not for the dog panting on my already hot leg, or the one who wants to be velcroed to me. Simple errands become an excercise in entering hell and becoming overheated. And it never fails that when there is a heatwave I will have some major running around to do. So far, during this heatwave, my computer had to go into the shop, my laptop died and I had to get another one, I picked up my computer and they did not do what I wanted so it had to go back again today and picked up again today. Then there is all the setting up and finding of software because they had to do a clean install of windows. Oh and the sound wouldn’t work and I couldn’t make it work with sweat dripping in my eyes.

Even the poor dogs can’t get cool despite three air conditioners running. I feel the most sorry for Kiefer because he is big, hairy and black. Molly the little pom who is also quite hairy suffers too. They are all panting big time and sucking back the water. Most of them don’t really want to eat either. The only one who does not seem at all bothered by the heat is Clio who is currently making bizarre noises and digging her bed. Oh the joys of the blind and brain injured little dog!

Thankfully I am done for today. I just looked at the weather eye and the temp is 30 but it feels like 37. Just tell me it will end. Thank god the ice machine is working!

Published in: on August 16, 2008 at 8:46 pm  Comments (2)