Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winterize Your Dog!

We change the way we feed our dogs in the winter months. Why? For the most part, because our very active dogs become a lot less active in the winter. For some of our dogs, that means cutting food in half, for some, we cut it a little less, and for some we might not cut it all all. And as always, with all of our dogs, we watch their weight and make adjustments on a weekly or even daily basis, if necessary. I try to encourage people who come into our store to make adjustments based on the way their dog looks and feels weight-wise, rather than going by what any food manufacturer says to do. They all metabolize differently, just like we do.

I also change what they eat and what I supplement with. Our dogs are on a raw diet, and throughout the summer months, we supplement their diet with lots of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. We are members of a local CSA which provides us and our dogs with lots of great stuff. In the winter though, when it's hard to find good local produce, we use The Honest Kitchen's Preference for every meal (we use it supplementally in the summer). Even in the dead of winter, you can serve up a green bowl of goodness for you dogs everyday by using Preference. We also start adding a good antioxidant blend at this time of year on a daily basis. In the summer months, we use an antioxidant before and while we are traveling (not very often these days). At this time of year, we start using it everyday. We switch back and forth between Animal Essential's Organic Green Alternative and The Honest Kitchen's Invigor. We like both of these products, and like everything else with a raw diet, feel the rotation is good.

Also, if you don't in the summer months, make sure to add a good oil in the winter months to combat dry, flaky skin. We use a good, cold-pressed, wild-caught salmon oil by Lakse Kronch all year round, but it's especially important as we head into the winter months.

These are just a few of the ways we winterize our dogs. Hope you find some of this information useful!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bad Blogger!

I have been a bad blogger! Bad, bad, bad. I am blogging right now just to get back into the swing of blogging. I can make excuses about being busy, and that's part of it. But I also feel like, once I have gone for a while without blogging, my next blog entry should be especially deep and meaningful. When I don't have anything especially deep and meaningful to say, I just put off my blogging more and more.

So . . . here is my especially not deep and meaningful blog post just to get me back into blogging.

We had a nice morning with our dogs today -- Monday is our one day off. Then we headed out to Animal Farm and had a great couple of hours with some of the dogs out there. Then we ran a bunch of errands. First time to the grocery store in about three weeks. WAY overdue.

Looking forward to another fun week at Hooked On Dogs! More blogging from me SOON!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Honor of Squirt

Did you know it's Deaf Dog Awareness Week? It is, and in honor of DDAW, I'm blogging about my deaf little cutie pie Squirt. I adopted Squirt on March 30, 2006 from Second Chance Rescue out of Merriam, Kansas. I had adopted Bandit from them a couple years before. They knew I had become active in dog sports with him, and contacted me when they had "crazy little heeler/terrier mix" in rescue. I told them I'd post her to our frisbee list to help her find a home. When I went back to check her Petfinder listing a week later, they had her listed as a deaf dog. They discovered she was deaf while in rescue because she slept through sounds that a lot of other dogs reacted to. When I found out she was deaf I said I'd take her, sight unseen (except for a Petfinder photo that was pretty darn cute but didn't do her justice). I can't exactly say why, but I just felt like I should. From day one with her, I am so glad I made that leap of faith.

For any three year old dog, Squirt has accomplished a lot. She's a frisbee fiend who has qualified for several world championships, she's traveled all over the place as part of the Incredible Dog Team, she's become a pretty good agility and dock diving dog. She's accomplished all of this despite the fact that she can't hear a thing. Her future is limitless, and I think her accomplishments have helped create some awareness of the ability of deaf dogs to be amazing sport dogs. But these aren't the best things about Squirt.

The best things about Squirt are . . . that she makes me smile every time I look at her (even when she's being bad), that she's always smiling, that she's perfect with the other dogs in the house, that she always wants to lay next to me when we're watching TV at night, that she gives 150% at everything she does. Squirt is all heart, and I love her with all my heart.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Darling Clementine

August 2009 was a good month for Fargo's Finest Clementine. She started off the month with an appearance on the CBS Morning Show and ended it with an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman!! The show had a dock jumping segment this past Monday, and Clem was invited, along with three other dogs, to compete for the longest jump. Three of the dogs made it onto the show, including Clem. We were so proud of her.

The best part of the day came when David Letterman made a GREAT plug for rescue. Most you know that all of our 10 dogs are from rescue. It's an issue that is near and dear to our hearts. To have Dave (my new BFF) use Clem as an example of why we should all adopt was amazing. ADOPT ONE UNTIL THERE ARE NONE!

We took lots of photos of our fun day in the city. Here is one with Clem and the paparazzi:

Clem and Nadja on the dock:

And one of Clem jumping off the dock:

All-in-all, it was a very fun and memorable day, and we were so proud of our Clemmie. If you'd like to see a clip of the show, go to our home page (www.hookedondogs.net), and click on the picture next to the story of Clem. Enjoy!

It's Fair Time Again

I can report personally that things are in full swing at the Dutchess County Fair again. Our store has a booth set up at the fair for the second year in a row (thanks Pawstars!). The year before that, we were at the fair helping out with dock diving and frisbee shows. I still feel pretty new to the Hudson Valley most of the time, but when fair time rolls around, I feel like a regular. I like that about the fair. You always know what you're in for. The milkshakes are great, the canine tent is a lot of fun, and most people can't resist squeezing a squeaky toy when they walk past one.

I also like being able to hang out with friends I don't get to see often enough. Our friends Kara and Erich Steffensen and Michelle Paulucci have been doing the frisbee show at the fair for three years now (see Pawstars). For at least one week of the year, we've been able to hang out together in the canine tent for long periods of time with nothing to do but watch the people walk by. This is a luxury that, as grown-ups, we don't usually get. In all of our busy schedules, we're lucky to get a two-hour dinner together once a month. At fair week, we get to catch up on everything we missed out on during the rest of the year.

Yesterday was pretty soggy out at the fair, and it seems like today will be the same. But I will be happy to soak up these last soggy days of summer with good friends, a milkshake, and my best buddy, Bandit sitting by my side.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Action-Packed End of Summer at Hooked On Dogs

We have a lot of fun stuff happening at Hooked On Dogs over the next several weeks.

This Sunday we're going to be chillin' and grillin' at The Chocolate Factory. We're having a BBQ at HOD just because we feel like it. Come by Sunday sometime between noon and 4, and have a burger, dog, or a grilled veggie item. Hang out for a while, and enjoy a lazy summer Sunday afternooon with us.

Next week, HOD will be at the Dutchess County Fair. We'd like to thank our friends from Pawstars for inviting us to "set up shop" in their booth again this year. If you are going to be at the fair, stop by the dog tent to say hi, and make sure you catch one of the Pawstars frisbee shows! We will be open at the store, too, but with reduced hours. We'll be open from noon until 5 Tuesday through Friday (and then regular hours over the weekend).

We have three adoption days coming up! Out of the Pits (August 22), Perfect Pets Rescue (September 4), and Animal Farm Foundation (September 12) will each have days at the store to share information and show off some of the wonderful dogs looking for homes. All 10 of our dogs are from rescues/shelters (the most recent, Thelma, from AFF), and I can say from experience, there's no better way to add a new family member.

September 24 - 28, the store wil be CLOSED. You say it better be for a damn good reason??? We think it is! Nadja and I have both qualified dogs to compete in the Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship in Chattanooga, TN!! I qualified with Squirty Birdy, and Nadja qualified with Wee-la. This is the first time we will head to the world finals with each of us having qualified a dog in advance. We are very excited, and have decided to close the store for 4 days so we can both go compete. :-) We'll be updating our Facebook page with results, so make sure to follow the action. Here's a picture of Squirty tracking her Frizzz.

Whew . . . once we get through all of this action, fall will be in full swing. I can smell the apple crisp baking . . . my favorite season of the year . . .


Sunday, August 16, 2009

How We Keep Our Dogs Cool On Hot Summer Days

Well, summer is finally here in the Hudson Valley. With all the early rains keeping the temperatures cool, I thought we might not see summer at all this year. Now it's here loud and clear. Oy. I sweat just thinking about it, or maybe it's our un-air-conditioned house that's making me sweat???

Anyway . . . time to dust off the list of important things to remember about keeping our dogs cool in the hot summer months. I've seen a lot of lists with good rules to follow -- this is my own homemade version of what we do to keep our own dogs cool:

1. Limit playtimes to cooler parts of the day and keep sessions short. On days like today, our dogs get a little romp in the morning, and nothing after that, unless it's a water activity. Swimming is always great exercise, but is especially good in the hot summer. On days where the temp is 90+ though, we are even pretty careful with them in water. Watch the tongue -- if it's getting enlarged or red, and especially if it starts to curl up on the edges, call it quits! Dogs can overheat even when swimming. Surprising but true . . . much depends on the temp of the water.

2. If your dog gets hot, the best way to cool her down, is to wet her underside with cool (not cold) water, focusing on the groin area and armpits. All too often I see people hosing down their dogs' backs -- this is not very effective at cooling, and with darker-colored dogs, can actually make them heat up more.

3. Think about investing in a cooling coat of some kind, especially if you know your dog will be out during the hot hours of the day. We keep the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler in stock at Hooked On Dogs at this time of year, so stop by to check it out if you think you might need one.

4. Make sure your dog gets plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

5. Don't leave your dog in the car. At most times of the year, dogs are okay in the car as long as your leave the windows partially rolled down, but at this time of year, it's too hot even for that. If you have to run errands in places where you can't take your dog in with you, leave her at home at this time of year.

Please share other thoughts and ideas in the comments section if you have them, and . . .

stay cool!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Carpe diem

"Carpe diem," commonly translated as "sieze the day."

I think of this phrase, and I think of a number of ways this can be applied to my life with my dogs. Appreciate my dogs every day. Spend quality interactive time with each of my dogs every day (not easy to do when you've got 10 dogs, but I make it a point). Feed them the best food I can. Pet them every day. Love them.

In our line of work, we are reminded of this all the time, but some days, some customers really hit it home. Tonight, when we were getting ready to close, I had a customer come in to buy raw food. She had been in before and bought food from us (dry kibble, not raw) and perhaps a treat or two -- not a regular, but a sporadic visitor. Tonight was different.

Tonight . . . she went right to the raw case and said "I want raw, and I know you keep it over here." I asked if she wanted me to explain the different varieties of raw we carried. She said, "our dog is eleven and was just diagnosed with cancer. We're following a treatment protocol, and a raw diet is a part of it." I explained to her what the options were. She explained to me the treatment protocol. She selected a high-quality raw food for her dog (for any dog).

I WISHED we were there to recommend a raw diet to her dog when her dog was three years old. I WONDERED what difference it would have made in her dog's life. I HOPE raw food makes a difference now.

Carpe diem.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fargo's Finest Clementine

Clementine appeared on the CBS Early Show this morning with Nadja. She showed examples of what people can expect to see dogs doing when they watch the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. As a true "jack of all trades," Clem is a perfect dog for this job. At 9-years-young, this incredible mutt has had an amazing career and isn't showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. Clem's story is a great one, so I thought I'd share a bit of it here.

Nadja adopted Clementine when when she lived in Fargo, ND (Fargo you ask? Yes, Fargo.). Clem was a stray who showed up at a lake one day where lots of Fargo-ites hang out in the summer. After entertaining people all day long by playing fetch, someone had the good sense to call a rescuer they knew who came and picked up Clem and and took her into foster care. After spending several months in foster care, Nadja decided to foster Clem to see if she could find her a sport home. Well . . . after about a day with Clementine, Nadja knew she had found her next dog and that Clementine wasn't going anywhere.

Nadja quickly started training Clem in agility. Clem showed natural skills right away, and with some great training by Nadja, it wasn't long before Clem started earning titles, eventually earning the title of Master Agility Dog in the USDAA. Along the way, however, Nadja discovered another amazing skill Clementine had . . . dock diving! At 28 pounds, Clementine, is much smaller than your typical "leaping labrador," but that doesn't stop her from outjumping most of them. In 2005, Clem earned a spot in the ESPN Great Outdoor Games in Big Air, by far the smallest dog to ever do so.

At the ripe age of 6, Nadja started competing seriously with Clem in the sport of canine disc. Most dogs peak in this sport between the ages of 4 and 6. Of course, Clem isn't like most dogs . . . starting out as an old lady in the sport, she has qualified for the world finals in four different organizations. Clem has travelled all over the country and to South America twice to thrill audiences in multiple sports. She never lets them down.

Over the years, Clem has been x-rayed for injuries here or there (her self-preservation skills leave a little to be desired). Everytime she is x-rayed, we find a new BB. She is riddled with them from her days as a stray. We always talk about what her life as a stray in Fargo must have been like. Did she get too close to a farmer's chickens a couple of times? Come across some kids playing with a BB gun? Who knows. One thing I do know is how she survived. Clem has a spirit that could take her through almost any situation. You can count on her for anything. As long as a toy or some food is involved, she will give you 110% everytime. :-) Her zest for life is inspiring. I am lucky to know this dog, and look forward to spending the next 9 years with her.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Brief History of Hooked On Dogs

Many of you know, but some may not, how Nadja and I became Hooked On Dogs. Both of us were born with a fondness for dogs, having grown up with them. We both adopted our own first "non-family" dogs when we were still in college. I adopted Dixie Dog (1991 - 2006) when I was just beginning my third year in college. She spent two years with me in college, three years in law school, and the rest of her life helping to keep me sane during my legal career. Nadja adopted Indalo (fondly referred to as Indi), now almost 14 when she was in graduate school at the University of Florida.

Over the years, of course, we both added a lot more dogs to our homes, all rescues. When we combined our packs (think of us as the Brady Bunch with dogs), we had 4 dogs each, and we've added Lolita and Thelma since that time. When we say we are "Hooked On Dogs," that is truly what we are. Our dogs range in size from 14 pounds (Wee-la) to 44 (Pippi). We have six cattle dog mixes, three total mutts, and a pit bull. All have at least dabbled in agility, with Clementine, a Master Agility dog, being the most accomplished in that field. Most like to swim daily in the summer, and several like dock diving (Clem, again, the superstar, as the smallest dog ever to qualify in the sport of Big Air on ESPN's Great Outdoor Games). Four have qualified for the world finals of canine disc (Bandit, Clem, Wee-la, Squirt), and three hope to do the same when they grow up (Smokey, Lolita, and Thelma -- the great hopes for the future).

When Nadja, formerly a professor of architecture, and I, formerly a corporate lawyer, decided to say Chuck-It! to those careers, we only had one goal . . . how to turn our passion (dogs) into something we could do full-time. We spent some time on the road figuring it all out. For several months, we traveled with our dogs competing and performing . . . and visiting every dog store in every town we visited. We saw what we liked and didn't like, and we didn't see some things we thought should exist in the world of dog stores that didn't.

When we finally settled in the Hudson Valley, our goal was simple . . . to use our combined knowledge and experience to bring the best toys, treats and food to dog lovers in a clean, friendly, and educational environment. In June 2008, Hooked On Dogs was born in Red Hook, NY where we hope it stays for a long time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Best Find of the Week: Ice Buckets!!! Courtesy of Animal Farm Foundation

Nadja and I both had the privilege of participating in the Internship Program at Animal Farm Foundation this week: I lectured on Nutrition Monday, and Nadja demonstrated how to get shelter dogs interested in canine disc on Thursday. The staff of AFF put together a wonderful program and had a great group of caring and inquisitive interns.

Most of you who know us at Hooked On Dogs know that we are always looking for cool new products for the store -- fun toys for dogs to play with, the best treats to train with, and healthy foods to nourish with. Every once in a while we come across a really cool way of using something that already existed that we think is worth sharing. Following my lecture on Nutrition Monday, I learned about ice buckets from AFF staff member Ashley, and I was blown away.

Ice buckets have changed the way we feed our own dogs. Ice buckets partially inspired me to start this blog. In short, I believe ice buckets are the greatest thing since the Kong . . .

Animal Farm started using ice buckets as a way to give the shelter dogs a form of mental stimulation that was enjoyable and long lasting. A way to make the dogs forget they were in a shelter for an hour or so. We have long used Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or high-quality canned dog food and then frozen to "keep our dogs busy" for 20-30minutes. When people come into our store looking for ways to lessen separation anxiety, give their dogs something to do to "take the edge off," etc. we always suggest a Kong used in this way, or a good treat or kibble dispensing toy. Ice buckets take this type of activity to a whole new level.

So what is an ice bucket??? Simply . . . a freezer-proof bucket (or food bowl if you don't have a bucket handy) loaded up with frozen, stuffed Kongs, any other kind of enticing chew toy you can find, bones to chew on, part of your dog's meal, treats, ect. frozen into one big glob and served to your dog for at least an hour of enjoyment. The water you use to fill the bucket should be laced with something to make it even more yummy . . . low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, yogurt diluted in water, or for an extra special and tasty treat try Ice Pups by The Honest Kitchen. You can even freeze in multiple layers to give your dog an assortment of yummy options.

At Animal Farm, they have stopped feeding their dogs by just putting kibble in a bowl. They now use every mealtime as an opportunity for mental stimulation. They might stuff a Kong with 1/2 cup of food and seal it off with peanut butter and then freeze it, another quarter cup or so will go into a hollowed out marrow bone, sealed off with canned dog food and then frozen. All of these frozen stuffed treats will go into an ice bucket. What used to take just 30 seconds or so, now gives each dog at least an hour of something to work on. With this type of mental stimulation, the dogs are happier and healthier.

What if we all did this with our own dogs, too? We started doing it with our dogs for one meal a day, and they LOVE IT! They start their day a little more contented, with a calmer approach to the day. One thing is for sure . . . ice buckets are here to stay at our house. We hope you all will give it a try with your dogs, too!

Thank you Animal Farm Foundation for this wonderful way of enriching our dogs' lives!


P.S. If your dog isn't too keen on licking or chewing his way through all that ice, you can make a "busy bucket" instead. The same frozen stuffed food treats can just go in a bucket or bowl, just without the ice. It may not take as long as an ice bucket, but it will take a lot longer than regular meatime.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome to the Hooked On Dogs Blog!

I've had a few thoughts lately that I wanted to put in writing somewhere, but wasn't sure where . . . I didn't want to clutter our Hooked On Dogs website and there isn't really enough room to wax eloquent on our Facebook page. I have been inspired by a few friends' blogs lately, and I thought this forum might work well. So . . . I have created this blog to talk about good dog stuff, from fun activities to healthy food options to whatever else we might want to discuss. Look for blog posts from Nadja or I from time to time. Thanks for reading.

Hooked On Dogs