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Ambassador Shannon
Canine Thoughts on Vacation
I recently took a little jaunt to the Sunshine State for some much needed heliotherapy. I must admit - it was incredibly lovely to wake up to the soothing sound of ocean waves...instead of the wild ruckus of snow ploughs on Sherbrooke West. I was able to lounge in bed in the morning, with no obligation to don my parka and boots to take my pooches out into the frigid, semi-darkness of the barely risen sun. Now - don't get me wrong. I absolutely love all the responsibilities that come with having a dog - but, as any pet owner would likely concur, a little break once in a while (particularly when the daily temperature dips well below freezing) is pretty darn agreeable.
My dogs are not really candidates for boarding at a kennel when I'm gone, so I have to time my getaways with moments when my retired parents are not gallivanting all over the globe on some fabulous adventure. Lucky for me, my folks absolutely adore my dogs, and are generally pleased as punch to take them from me for whatever time I'm away. And, on the flip side, my fur babies are pretty much obsessed with going to my parents house. Can't blame them really - my mother concedes to them every time they give her an earnest look that says, "Feed me, please. Can't you tell I'm starving?", and my father takes daily naps with them on the living room sofa. To sweeten the deal even further, my dad keeps a stack of logs in the backyard, ready for them to rip to shreds whenever they saunter out into the snow, and my mom wraps them in blankets in the solarium so that they can enjoy the sun, without being too chilly. (I get daily updates, with photos attached.)
Fiona is a pretty independent lass and makes herself comfortable wherever she may be, but my mother reports that Floyd cries at night and runs to the front window whenever he hears a sound outside, hoping for my return. What's kind of hilarious about this is that upon my return, Fiona gives me a theatric and exceptionally enthusiastic welcome...and Floyd pretty much ignores me. One time, my parents picked me up at the airport with the dogs in the backseat of the Jeep. I opened the door to say hello, and Fiona jumped onto me, placed her front paws on my shoulders, and attempted to lick my face. Floyd, on the other hand, looked out to the left, acting as though he was searching for some other person being picked up. The funniest part of this is that he's only able to give me the cold shoulder for less than two minutes... By the time I put my suitcases in the back and hop in, he's already flopped on top of my lap, nuzzling his face into the crook of my arm.
That feeling...being reunited with my furry little angels...oh, how sweet it is! It's nice to go away, absolutely. But the wonderfulness of coming back to these wiggly little companions is not something words can do justice to! 
Owning a Dog is Bliss
Having a pet is probably one of THE most wonderful privileges there is. I have no idea what I'd do without my dogs; actually, I don't even remember what life was like before I got them. (I vaguely recall that coming home did not involve joyful little creatures theatrically greeting me as though I'd been gone for a hundred years, but that seems like a very distant thought that I have no interest in.) 
Recently, I celebrated two years of having Fiona in my life, and four years with Floyd. Both were adopted from the same shelter, and I still marvel at what an incredibly perfect match they make. They have completely different personalities - Floyd loves attention and is a total busybody, whereas Fiona is the queen of independence and could happily lay in one spot for hours on end. It works especially well between them because Fiona has been playing hard to get with Floyd since the moment they met. This is so perfect because Floyd is a bit sensitive to dogs that get all up in his grill, so Fiona's aloofness has been successfully reeling him in since day one. 
Let me tell you, he works hard to impress her!! Case in point: Floyd, an early riser like me, usually follows me out of bed in the morning. Fiona, on the other hand, will stay completely hidden under the blankets until I call her to go out for our morning trot. As soon as Floyd has his collar on and he hears Fiona getting up, he runs back to the bedroom door and waits for her. She usually hops off the bed, and breezes right past him, pausing ever so slightly to let him lick her face. He chases after her, attempting to plant a few more kisses on her before getting to the door. This occurs on a daily basis, and I find it ridiculously cute every single time.
I'm so glad that these two get to spend their golden years together. When I see them cuddling on the couch, I can't help but feel so grateful to have been gifted with such a delightful pair of pups.
No Food in the Freezer
It happens to the best of us: we wake up, take the dog(s) out, and come back inside to find that we didn't quite plan things right...and there's no food in the freezer. Shoot! What now? First off, don't panic. (It might sound dramatic, but we all know how ridiculous we can be when it comes to our fur babies!) Even in the unlikely event that you had absolutely nothing at all to give your dog as a substitute for his usual meal, dire consequences would not ensue. In nature, animals fast all the time! So if your dog went a day sans food, it would pretty much just give his digestive tract a little chance to rest. Heck, it might even be good for him!
If this seems a little too extreme for you, fret not - there are plenty of options! First off, don't worry too much if this will make a "balanced" meal or not. It's not the end of the world if your pet has the equivalent of a human "cheat day". If you'd like to give him toast with peanut butter because that's his fave, go ahead and do it! Or - make a fruit and veggie cocktail (just no grapes and raisins, celery, or avocados, please). You can add a chopped up hard boiled egg (shell and all!) or canned sardines, if you've got some on hand. If you have some fish oil from Mrs.Meadys, douse whatever you're feeding with it. The oil contains healthy fats, which will help keep your pooch feeling satiated until you return to regular programming. Basically, as long as you avoid things that could be harmful, like chocolate or cooked bones, everything should be just fine! (PS: you might have to deal with slightly different poop the next day, but that will regulate itself as soon as you go back to feeding raw.)=
The Raw Scoop
I've noticed that a lot of people get really nervous when deciding to switch their pets from a commercial diet to a raw one. Suddenly, they find themselves fretting over whether the prey model is best, or should they follow a B.A.R.F. (biologically appropriate raw feeding) diet? They read all kinds of differing opinions on the internet, and then they're feeling paranoid that maybe their dog or cat won't get the right percentage of muscle meat, bone, and organ in each meal. But really, at the end of the day, all I can say about that is...chill out and enjoy the ride!
If your pet is going from kibble to raw, you're already winning. Even a high quality, "balanced" kibble can't match the benefits of raw feeding for your dog or cat. If you stop and think about it, an animal in the wild is not worrying about percentages of anything. Chances are, they'll eat the muscle meat off their prey first, maybe chow down on some organ...and then, when there isn't of that left (potentially a few days later), they'll go for tendons, bones, and ligaments. And then? They might not even eat anything for a few days after that...because they haven't found another animal to feast on!
So...instead of getting your knickers in a knot, relax and let your pet guide you to their preferred noshing habits. One of my pitties has a very sensitive system - he can't take too much organ, or he'll be throwing it up on my carpet (no idea why he has to go for the shag and not the hardwood...but, I digress). Same thing for most things fish-related - it clearly doesn't agree with him, so I just don't give it to him anymore. (Luckily, he'll still eat his meal when I add a few squirts of Meady's Norwegian fish oil on it - so he's getting plenty of omegas.) Also, Floyd needs to eat his meals still frozen. If not, he swallows an entire half-pound in one gulp, and, you guessed it - the carpet cleaner is on duty!
Fiona, on the other hand, would literally eat dirty socks and be happy as a clam. She will chow down on whatever I put in front of her, and be totally fine. So I've adapted to these parameters, and I don't worry about whether or not everything is exactly "perfect". Some days, they eat blends with organ. Other days, simply horse or beef, with *omg*, no bone at all! And guess what the end result has been? Both of my dogs are thriving since making the switch to raw, and that's good enough for me not to worry.=
Gettin' Fishy
Personally, anything fish-related isn't really my cup of tea. So when Mrs.Meadys started stocking Danish fish oil as a supplement for dogs, I can't say that I was overly keen to try it. But - it just so happened to coincide with my visiting puppy having an unexpected bout of dandruff. I took a bottle home, and offered up a squirt to each of the dogs. Fiona and Bless slurped it right up (no surprise there), and Floyd looked at me for a while with a discerning eye before giving it a ginger try. (He used to be like me, and hate anything fish-related also...until Fiona came along. He now eats whatever she eats because his ego won't let him do otherwise!)
I started giving each dog two squirts a day with their food in the morning, and within a week, the puppy's dandruff was almost completely gone! As for the other two dogs, I also noticed big changes in the quality of their fur. They were already both very soft and shiny, but Fiona would sometimes shed a bit when you'd pet her for an extended period of time (which happens rather often at our house lol). Within about two weeks of daily doses of the oil, that stopped entirely. And Floyd - well, Mr.Soft and Shiny may as well be his new stage name. His body is so ridiculously lustrous and the fur on his face is like peach fuzz, I can't seem to stop giving him affection. (Not that it wasn't already the case...but, I digress.)
So...I am now officially a fish oil convert. I'll even admit that the smell of it isn't all that bad! But you know what? Even if it was, I'd make the sacrifice and deal with it because this stuff has had such an amazing effect on my babies. My pack o' pits gives it three paws up ;)=
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