Saturday, May 30, 2009

Die Happy

Squirrels are the absolute bane of Winnie's existence. No, seriously.

I actually think they're kind of cute (except when they're dropping acorns on your head), but don't tell Winnie.

If she could catch a squirrel, I think she would die happy. Metaphorically, of course.

Squirrel patrol

What would make your pup "die happy"?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Persimmon Tree

Winnie has recently discovered that the barely-fruiting persimmons from our persimmon tree are quite delicious. I found her nomming on the ones that had fallen to the ground.

They're still tiny and green (the ripe ones are orange and the size of a tomato) but still have that persimmon-y taste, as I found out when I smelled it.

Nom nom nom.

Bwahaha, the little pig is drooling while I make her Leave It.

My Evil Mom-ness makes her do silly things like this :)

Have fun with your pup(s)- it's almost summer!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Insert Witty Title Here

Honey the Great Dane tagged us in a game in which we share stories of our dogs’ parents and/or how our pups came to live with us. I don’t know much about Winnie’s parents, so I’ll share the story about the latter :)

It started out a little over 2 years ago when my family decided to get our first dog. Well, technically our second. We used to have a dog when I was much younger (around 3 years of age?) but of course I don’t remember anything from back then.

Me as a child and our family's old dog, Joy. He was a smart little mutt, according to my parents! Sorry for the poor quality, the original picture was stuck in a frame so I had to take a picture of the picture!

So initially we found a wonderful, sweet little Chow mix named Winnie through Petfinder, but she ended up finding a better forever home more suited for her.

Things were starting to look dismal (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating) for us when on a Friday morning my mom decided to go on Radio Korea ’s website. She went to the pet section, where the Korean community (mostly from Southern California, I think?) posts random pet-related topics, including pets needing homes.

Lo and behold, that’s how we found Winnie, who was then named Coco. She was around 4.5 months old back then and living in Irvine with a young couple. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t allow them to be taking care of a dog at the time, especially a young puppy.

A few days after we got her. Her unbearable cuteness has already allowed her to claim the couch! LOL

A Corgi had been on my list of “possible/ideal breeds”, so we gave them a call and claimed her, so to speak (apparently many others were interested in her). My mom and I drove to Irvine the next day and took her home with us, along with all her things (treats, toys, etc). During the entire car ride I tried to think of a better name (I certainly didn’t like Coco!) but could only think of Winnie, the name of the adopted dog that we had originally been interested in. So in the end she became Winnie!

Her love (or hate?) for squirrels has transitioned from stuffed ones to real ones...

Her previous owners told us she would be small because her parents were small, hence Winnie’s tiny size (a measly 18 lb). They had bought her from a pet store in Irvine. I didn’t know better back then- I obviously don’t support puppy mills and BYB now, but I wouldn’t trade Winnie for anything in the world. She is my first dog- my one and only heart dog! I’ve learned so much as a first time dog owner and I don’t regret getting her one bit. (In my own defense, I do plan to adopt my second dog in the future (which won’t happen anytime soon, but will happen!) ;)

High school graduation

So what’s your story?

We'll tag the following blog pups, but feel free to share even if you weren't tagged :)

The Corgi Girls
Lance and Vito
Mia the Chi
Gio and Romeo

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dog Beach Day

The fam and I took a road trip down to Huntington Dog Beach today! We had planned to stop by Huntington Dog Park for the weekly Corgi meet-up, but we left the house too late (it's from 10AM-12PM) so we went straight to the beach instead. We did end up meeting a tricolor Corgi at the beach, though.

Getting some shade in a rock crevice!


Rock climbing?

She doesn't even swim. What a poser ;)

Just about ready to pass out...

...and she's gone.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chatty Birds

I never really pay attention to the birds outside (I'm not much of a bird person). They're usually just pigeons or crows. Today I was surprised to find quite a different kind of bird, and chatty ones at that!

Aren't they gorgeous? There was a whole flock of them, but those two seemed happy to be together.

Surprisingly, Winnie was focused more on her ball than on the birds.

I think she knew the birds were too far to be worth barking at?

Ball > birds

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Damp Wind Heat

Yesterday I took Winnie in to see a homeopathic vet for her chronic allergies. I didn't want to see her injected with more Predinosolone or give her more Medrol pills. Allopathic medicine was essentially taking away the symptoms but not the cause of the problem.

I tend to be the kind of person who likes to "research" things beforehand (seriously, Wikipedia is my best friend). I put research in quotes because Wikipedia doesn't always provided the most credible sources, LOL. So the day before the appointment I spent some time Googling and Wikipedia-ing "homeopathy". While I am very much open to alternative medicine (I'm thinking of going into holistic veterinary medicine myself) I will admit that I wasn't 100% confident about homeopathy itself. But what's there to lose? (except $, that is)

I'll start off with an explanation about what homeopathy is. You can find a ton of information on the internet- I found this website to be particularly helpful. The paragraphs below are taken from that site.


No other approach to medicine better fulfills the philosophy of holistic medicine than does Homeopathy.

Homeopathy is founded on the premise that symptoms seen in a patient are the result of an imbalance or disharmony in the Life Force.

Rather than divide the symptoms into separate diagnoses and prescribe a different medicine for each diagnosis, the Homeopath seeks to find the common cause of all the symptoms and to find the single medicine which will bring the entire patient to health and wholeness.

With this premise, there is no condition in any patient which is not treatable with Homeopathy. The Homeopath is not dependent on finding a diagnosis before treatment can begin but instead uses the entire complex of symptoms produced by the patient as a guide to the single medicine which will treat the entire patient.

The Homeopathic approach catalyzes health and wholeness in the patient. The end result is a patient who is not compromised by chronic, recurrent disease.


To treat a patient Homeopathically, the Homeopath must gather as much information about the patient as is possible. This will require an in-depth examination of the patient and interview with the care-giver.

Sometimes in complex cases, diagnostic tests may be run or the services of other individuals such as body workers or animal communicators may be used to gather more information.

Once all the details about the patient have been gathered, the Homeopath, following the specific techniques of Homeopathy, searches for the single medicine which will address all the symptoms seen in the patient. By treating the patient with a single medicine, the Homeopath can avoid the complications caused by multiple concurrent medications so common in conventional medicine today.

When this single medicine based on the complete symptoms of the patient is found, it is given in the least dose at the greatest interval to catalyze healing changes in the patient.

After the medicine is selected and given, the care-giver observes the patient for changes in the symptom pattern and reports these changes to the Homeopath. In this way, and only in this way, can the Homeopath be directed to the appropriate therapeutic measures in the future.

Because of the individualized nature of the Homeopathic treatment, each medicine, each dose, and each dosing schedule is tailored to the specific needs and nature of the patient.

So in a nutshell, the essence of homeopathy is that "like cures like". You give the patient a treatment that would produce the symptoms of the sick patient in a healthy patient, but that same treatment will cure the sick patient. The German physician Samuel Hahnemann founded homeopathy back in the late 1700s when he discovered that cinchona bark, which was then used to treat malaria, would produce malaria-like symptoms in a healthy person but would cure a sick person with those same symptoms. Here is the wikipedia link for homeopathy.

To make it a bit more complicated, there are two different styles of homeopathy. One is classical homeopathy, which is the older method that was developed by Hahnemann. The other is complex or contemporary homeopathy, which has been adopted by many holistic veterinarians today. From what I understand, the main difference between the two is that in classical homeopathy, there is only a single remedy that encompasses all of the patient's symptoms. The practitioner takes into account every symptom and finds a remedy that matches all of those symptoms. In complex homeopathy, there are multiple remedies that are used in a combination. I recently found this article to have a great comparison of the two styles. For those who are interested, the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy has an interesting list of "standards of practice" for veterinary homeopathy.

So, on to Winnie's appointment...

The veterinarian that I saw practices complex homeopathy. I have a friend on Dogster who swears by classical homeopathy and no other (for good reason, homeopathy has done her and her dog wonders for their health). So I will admit I was kind of disappointed that I was seeing a complex homepathist (I totally just made up that word) but since I don't have enough knowledge or experience with all this stuff I have decided to keep an open mind to both styles for now.

During our 1 hour consultation we started off talking about nutrition. My one big disappointment for the day was that he didn't approve of the fact that I didn't include vegetables in Winnie's raw diet. I did explain the fact that I felt that her organs (liver, kidney, spleen) provided all the nutrients that she needs, but he didn't buy it. He insisted that I add some steamed/pureed vegetables into her diet. Meh, I think I'll stick to the prey model style diet...sorry!

So with Winnie's allergies, he thought it to be likely that they're food-related. Since I feed a wide variety of meats everyday and her itching happens regularly throughout the year, he thought that she might be allergic to a type of meat, which is entirely possible.

The vet also describe her as being "damp-wind-heat" (Have I completely lost you guys yet?). This is an aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that incorporates the ideas of yin and yang. When one is in excess (for example, Winnie apparently has an excess of heat), the body produces undesirable symptoms in an attempt to re-balance everything. This link describes the "Six Evils".

So it seems that meat such as beef and lamb are considered "hot" foods while turkey is considered a "cold" foods. Once again I did some research into the temperature of different food in Chinese medicine and came upon some interesting links here and here.

He recommended that I start feeding Winnie "cooler" meats such as turkey. Since raw food is technically "cooler" than cooked, we're already off to a great start, LOL! I think the part where I got confused is how to distinguish between the different temperatures of foods and what meats she's allergic to? Crap, I should've asked him that yesterday. Oh well.

So to sum it up, the vet gave her two injections, one of "Echinacea Forte" and one of "Lutis Comp". We also got a bunch of pills to take home.

I asked the vet to make me copies of the pages from the book that explains all the different remedies. Here are the functions of each of them:

"Lonicera 13"- clear heat, remove toxin, dispel wind

"Zaocys"- dispel wind and dampness, calm internal wind

"Dermatotrophin"- controlling glandular function in the cases of both hypofunction and certain hyperfunctioning states

Some allergen formula that I have to administer orally. I don't know what it contains!

Winnie seemed to like the Dermatrotrophin pills but promptly spit out the Lonicera and Zaocys- I don't blame here, they're kind of big and smell strongly like Chinese herbs, LOL! I did stick them in a bit of string cheese and she ate those fine.

So that concludes my ridiculously long post about homeopathy- we'll see how Winnie does on these remedies. I can't adjust her diet until after we move to NY (we already have her meat pre-packaged in Ziploc bags for the next 2 weeks or so) but we'll see how Winnie does on the remedies.

The vet recommended something called "isopathy" or "isotherapy", which is an extreme form of homeopathy- instead of "like cures like", it's more of "exact cures exact". He basically takes Winnie's blood sample and makes her blood into a homeopathy remedy specifically for her.

Learning about all these alternative, older forms of medicine has me really fascinated. It makes me wonder how society survived without the allopathic medicine we have today.

I'll update you all on Winnie's progress. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Winnie the...poop?

Yesterday at the dog park Winnie found herself a nice pile of poop to roll on. Most of it ended up on her collar. The rest got on her neck and a bit on her back. People spent the rest of the evening calling her "Winnie the Poop".

Pooped and proud.

She earned herself a nice bath when we got home.

"How embarrassing"

"Aw jeez, Mom. Really?"

As for her poop-covered collar- it got rinsed off, then dunked in a bucket of water and shampoo.

Thankfully it seemed to work and it's as good as new!

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the homeopathic vet for Winnie's allergies. I really hope homeopathy works for her- I don't want to inject her with more Pred and rely on Medrol pills forever. Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Raw, raw, sis boom bah!

A couple weeks ago I promised Kaley's mom of that I would write up a post for her regarding the raw diet. I couldn't do it then because I had finals (eep, glad those are over...) but now that I'm being lazy at home I was able to write one up. Here it goes!


I started feeding Winnie a raw diet a couple weeks after I got her at around 4.5 months of age. She came to me on Science Diet puppy food. Her previous owners told me that she was eating it fine, but when she came to live with us she refused to eat it. I’m not sure if it was the stress of moving to a new home that made her lose her appetite, or if she never really liked kibble to begin with. In any case, I joined Dogster soon afterwards and started learning more about dog food and dog nutrition. I made a switch to Wellness puppy food, and after less than 1-2 weeks of an unsuccessful transition, I decided to try out a raw diet.

What is this “raw diet” I speak of? A raw diet consists purely of raw meat, bones, and organs. The idea is to feed a species appropriate diet, one that wolves eat in the wild. Dogs are direct descendents of wolves- and while their behavior has changed drastically, they still maintain the same internal physiology. As much as our dogs like non-meaty food (Winnie’s personal favorite is apples), they are still carnivores and thrive on a meat-based diet.

There are two styles of raw feeding- the prey model style and the BARF style (promoted by Dr. Ian Billinghurst). I personally feed the prey model style, which consists of 80% meat, 10% bones, and 10% organs. The BARF style incorporates vegetables as no more than 20-30% of the diet. Which you choose is really more of a personal decision. Since I feed a prey model style diet, I will base most of my discussion on that. The rule of thumb is to feed 2-3% of your dog's body weight, depending on his/her activity level. For example, Winnie is about 18 lb (yes, she’s a tiny Corgi!) and she is fed about 0.4-0.5 lb a day. That is about 2.5% of her body weight. Half of the organ allotment (5%) should be liver, and the other half should be another organ (pancreas, thymus, spleen, kidney, etc).Heart and lung don't count as organ because they don't secrete, but you can feed it as a muscle meat. As the popular saying goes (at least on Dogster!),

“If it doesn’t secrete, feed it as meat!”

Edibility of Bones

As for bones, all RAW poultry bones (chicken, turkey, duck, etc) and rabbit bones are edible. Cooked bones are ALWAYS a no-no, no matter what diet you're feeding. Raw bones are soft and pliable and are perfectly fine. The edibility of some bones, however, depends on the dog (esp. the size of the dog and his ability to handle larger bones). Beef bones are generally not recommended for any dog because they're very dense and can wreck your dog's teeth. However, if they're nicely covered with meat, then it's fine for your dog to eat them (but take the bone away after the meat is gone). Weight-bearing bones (hooves, legs, etc) are especially dense and I don't recommend them. Remember that you never want to just feed bare bones. It is ideal to feed something that is covered in gobs of meat.

Starting out

Most beginning raw feeders stick with chicken for the first couple weeks so that their systems adjust to raw. After that, progress slowly to organs and other proteins. Liver and other organs are VERY rich and can cause runny poop if they are given too soon. Pork and lamb also tend to be rich because they’re fattier. The key to raw feeding in the beginning is to take it easy and slow. If you don't want to switch your dog cold turkey, then feed kibble in the morning and raw at night (or vice versa) and slowly decrease the amount of kibble while increasing the amount of raw. It is generally not recommended to feed kibble and raw at the same time because cooked and raw digest at different rates.

Buying and storing meat

Asian markets tend to have a lot of weird, good items not available in your usual grocery store. Raw is as expensive as you make it. I generally try to stay under $2/lb, and for some people it ends up being cheaper than kibble. I like to think that you end up saving money in the long run because of reduced trips to the vet's office and no need for anesthetic dental therapy (which can cost a lot of $$$). I personally get my meat from Asian markets (which are abundant where I live), regular grocery stores, and online stores. I also try to avoid buying meats that are injected with antibiotics and hormones.

Do-it-yourself raw (as in, buying your meat from the grocery store) is always cheaper than pre-made raw, especially if you have larger dogs. Some premade raw brands include Nature's Variety, Stella & Chewy, Primal, and Bravo. You can also get meat for free if you have friends who hunt. If you do get wild meat, make sure to freeze meat for at least 2 weeks to kill off parasites if the meat you're feeding is fresh-killed meat. I also recommend buying in bulk because it tends to be cheaper. You can also go on Craigslist or Freecycle and ask for unwanted, freezer-burned meat. I once got several pounds of chicken breast, beef roast, and pork roast off of Freecycle from a lady who had just turned vegetarian. All for free. Score!

If you have any local raw-feeding co-ops in your area, it is definitely worth checking them out. Most co-ops operate through Yahoo! Groups. There are many online raw suppliers as well, but shipping can get expensive, depending on where you live. Here's a list of some online raw suppliers (there are more, I just don’t remember all of them). Generally, the more you buy, the less you pay for shipping. Many people find that it helps to have an extra freezer to store meat, but it’s definitely not necessary. Meat lasts indefinitely in the freezer (dogs don't care about freezer burn), so it's good to stock up during hunting/holiday season when meat is cheap.

West Coast:

East Coast:

Feeding time

I usually feed Winnie outside or on a towel. Others like to feed inside a crate, in a bathtub, on a piece of tarp, etc. Make sure to take proper precautions when handling raw meat. Dogs can handle raw just fine (their systems were meant to handle bacteria), but humans should still wash their hands and wipe down things appropriately.

My dog has eaten the following meats during her lifetime: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, eggs, salmon, sardines, venison, goat, bison, lamb, and rabbit. Fish (raw or canned) and green tripe make up about 5% of her diet. Organs usually include liver, kidney, and spleen. Raw feeders generally like to make red meat (beef, pork, venison, lamb, etc) at least 50% of the diet. A poultry-based diet (chicken, turkey, duck, quail, etc) can lead to nutrition deficiency. For me, poultry makes up no more than about 25% of her diet, more or less.

Keep in mind that all this variety is not necessary, but you increase the chance of providing the necessary nutrition by feeding different kinds of protein. You DO NOT have to go out of your way to feed your dog filet mignon or prime cuts of steak. Dogs are perfectly happy with freezer-burned meat! (no, seriously). Nor do you have to seek out more expensive, “exotic” meats like goat, bison, etc. Stick with what you can provide (but don’t be cheap and feed only chicken either, because a poultry-based diet will lead to a nutritional deficiency).

Another big piece of advice (which I consider very important) is to know thy dog. Know what your dog is capable of, what he/she can or cannot handle, and his eating habits. No dog will have the same “menu”- each dog is different. For example, I know that Winnie is a very careful chewer when it comes to bones. I am therefore confident in giving her smaller pieces of bone without worry. I also know that she cannot handle most pork bones or any beef bones, so I stick to giving her boneless pork or beef. If your dog is a gulper, stick with big pieces of meat so that he has to gnaw and chew and not swallow the entire thing whole. KNOW THY DOG.

My thoughts

Feeding raw does take more time than dumping kibble into a bowl, but I enjoy watching my dog eat species appropriate food. I love meat shopping for my dog and knowing the fact that she's eating something so healthy and species-appropriate. I know that I’m giving my dog a diet that will significantly improve her quality of life for years to come, and I strongly encourage other dog owners to look into feeding their own dogs a natural diet.

She has sparkling white teeth, a soft and shiny (and non-smelly) coat, a muscled and toned body, good energy, and tiny poop. You probably couldn’t even tell she had environmental allergies (save her scratching). I’m convinced that if she were on a kibble-based diet, her paws would be pink and her coat would be nasty and brittle.

The best part is that she actually LIKES to eat now. She LOVES her meal time like no other! (Although that video on Youtube of Sparky doing his kibble dance might beat Winnie in enthusiasm)

Without a doubt, there are probably many issues, topics, and concerns that I failed to address in this post (either because my fingers or tired or I just forgot to mention something). The raw diet isn’t something to take lightly- it requires you to take the time to do proper research; you can’t just jump straight into it without knowing what is going on. In all honesty, the raw diet does take work in the beginning- the amount of information to retain can seem really daunting. HOWEVER, it is simpler than it seems. As time goes on, it gets a lot easier. Before you know it, you'll be thinking, "Jeez, this stuff is so easy and simple! No wonder nature thought of it" :)

I personally found that Dogster was a wonderful resource for me. The community in Dogster’s Raw Forum helped me enormously when I first started exploring the diet back in 2007. Since then, the “members” of the Raw Forum have increased dramatically in number!

If there was one main resource I would recommend to anyone who is interested in starting the raw diet, it would be this link. The thread was started by a fellow Dogster member, Gio (and his brother Romeo), who compiled MANY raw diet resources into that one thread. It is worth checking all of the links!

And of course, I would be more than happy to answer any personal questions through email. Since I’m currently on summer break from college, I have more than enough time on my hands :)

Happy (M)eating! :)

NOTE: If you're going to talk to your vet about feeding raw, just know that most veterinarians do not condone raw; don't be surprised if your vet is strongly against it. If you want to pursue feeding your dog a raw diet, make sure you have a vet that respects your opinion, even if it may differ from his/hers. There are, of course, some vets that are tolerant of or support raw. If you're lucky, you may have such a vet.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home sweet home

I'm finally home! A delayed flight and missed connection later, I'm back in beautiful California. My parents had to go to Vegas for the weekend (business/pleasure trip) the day I came home, so I get the house and car to myself for the entire weekend. Woo!

Winnie started doing zoomies when she saw me last night, it was so cute! She had this look on her face that said, "MOM? Is that you? OMGMOMSHOMELETSPLAY!" Then she proceeded to attack me with kisses.

I drove her to the dog park (read: my old high school's ginormous front lawn) this morning. Lots of running around, peeing, sniffing, and rolling. Good stuff.

Corgi pants

"They see me rollin'" exposure?

Winnie the...cow?

It'll be nice being a lazy bum in my parents' home for the next 2 weeks before I go back to Ithaca and work :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The end of the beginning? The beginning of the beginning? Er..prologue.

I'm sitting here in my room, staring miserably at the mess that I have created in an attempt to clean up that mess. I have resorted to writing my first ever blog post. I was going to wait until Friday or Saturday, when I was back home, but procrastination took over.

So...I have officially finished my first year of college! 9 months away from home, away from my parents, and (just as important) away from Winnie. As it stands, there are about 16 hours until I get to see this cute little face again.

"Nom nom nom"

The best part is, she'll be moving to Ithaca to live with me starting this summer! I got a cute little apartment on campus for the school year. Hopefully she'll enjoy Ithaca as much as I [sometimes] do.

I had more room to work with to pack because my roommate moved out yesterday. I basically took over the entire room with all my stuff!


203423 hours later. See how much progress I made? LOL!

It's currently raining outside. Surprise, surprise. I really need to go to the Student Center and buy another packing box. Alas, I'm sitting here...blogging.

1 more day until I'm home. California, here I come!