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Reason For My Blog: The Not So Secret Life Of The American Foster Mum

I’m a new foster mom(temp mummy)for Kitsumi. I am also a permanent fur mummy for 2 babies. I need a place to rant rave and just generally let it all out. I might be offensive, I might be mean, or just rude. This is my place to vent, primarily about fostering, but also about daily life with dogs. If I offend you, that is not my intention. All I ask is if you stumble on my blog that you be respectful. If you think I’m an ass please just carry on, it is nothing against you personally.

This is Kitsumi! She is 1 years old and a Shiba Inu mix! She is my foster pup!!

This is Zoey. She is a lab mix. She is 2 years old.

I also have Riddick. He is a senior.

 

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A Puppy For Christmas

I think it great that you want to help a puppy in need or welcome a dog to a warm house for the holidays.
I have several issues with a few commercials and websites. The commercials and websites say “a puppy makes a great christmas gift”. I won’t lie and say if I got a puppy for christmas, I wouldn’t be in love, because I would. So, your kids want a puppy and you decide that for christmas you want to get them one, and you yourself are ready to welcome a puppy or older dog into your home not just for the holidays but for the years to come. That great, I love when this happens!!
What I don’t like with this saying is the gift part. So, let use our imagination for a few minutes. You walk in to your apartment and all of a sudden you feel something is at your feet. You look down and squeal at the super cute yorkie your boyfriend got you. Best boyfriend ever, or so you think at the time. Now you look and see your boyfriend kneeling by the christmas tree with the cute sweater you got him with a big grin on his face (let face it, he knows he got you the best gift EVER!!). Now lets fast forward to a few months later. You got a promotion and your home a little less, and you just can’t keep your relationship going any longer. When you get home to your apartment, you take your shoes off and keep your coat on (getting ready to find that dog to take him to the potty). Now your in the bathroom getting the dog pile out of between your toes. (With that new promotion, you had less time to potty train and that boyfriend is now useless).

So as you can tell, she would go and get rid of her dog in the end. That might not be the conclusion in the end but I does contribute to a lot of dogs going to the shelters. You also have to think of the financial end also. You might have the money to afford the vet bills but what about the new owner/gifted. Husbands/wifes that want to surprise their spouse, is great, as long as they are on board too. You might think this puppy/dog is a great gift, but if the receiving end isn’t on board with the same thought and commitment, there isn’t a win in there for anyone, least of all the dog who when sick and tired of fighting over him, you decide to get rid of.

Please be responsible around this time of year. I know that we all get in a christmas spirit (or whatever you celebrate, or don’t) and that puppy in the window looks like what your niece wrote on her christmas list to santa, but stop for a minute and think of the future, think of her mom (who is really the one responsible for this pup.)

Puppies make great gift, don’t get me wrong. I love the idea, I just get sad when I think of the end result.
Happy holidays, and good luck finding the perfect gifts!!

Pawty Fun

A very big plus for me is their customer support! Excellent customer support. When I was in the hospital they also didn’t mind that it took me a bit to get to writing my review! They were extremely friendly, helpful and didn’t bat an eye at having to wait. They were incredibly polite (which goes a long way with me!!), and they even wished me a get better!! Really great company!!

I liked this box, but I didn’t love it. The first thing I didn’t care for was I believe this is for a single dog. If you only have one dog in your household or your dogs don’t mind things not being fair, then it probably wouldn’t be a problem for you. We received a tug toy, a super cool squeaky toy (I total love that toy. It bounces and makes a really cool noise), 2 small bags of treats, a big bag of treats (the pea treats you can see in the picture), and one hoof.

When I filled out the information when checking out (they gave me a special price because I really wanted to review it) I let them know we have 3 dogs and they are heavy chewers. They got the heavy chewer part down for sure! But my dogs can’t have different things like this. If I gave zoey the hoof, riddick the tug toy and kit the squeaky, we would have a big problem!! I don’t have an issue with giving them different toys/chew in the same category (By that I mean, one gets cow squeaky, another gets a pig, and the other gets a zebra. Or one get a ham bone another a cow, etc.). The ingredients on the treats are really good, I liked about this box as well as the squeaky we got.

I would have to give this box a 50/50 review. The treats are an a+, again I loved them. The problem I had was with the wide variety in each box.

Pawty Fun Website

They aren’t too badly priced if you buy more than one. One box is $27. but you can pay $20 a box if you get a year subscription. Not sure what I will do. I don’t think we will stay with this one though.

 

Ruby’s paws

Very Impressed!! I would like to start out by saying that! I also found the small box different. The box that you get delivered isn’t bigger like bark box and other subscription boxes. The small box doesn’t say anything about the content though. Really great ingredients. Below is a stock picture from their website. I couldn’t get very many pictures of my pups because of they wouldn’t stay still long enough. They loved the treats almost as much as I did!

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^^^^I took this picture^^^^This is what we got!!^^^^^

 

I clearly states Natural Dog Treat Box at the top the tab when you visit their site, and I can’t agree more. I am a stickler on their treats. Okay, well at least I try. Sometimes though, I know I am not alone when I say I’m low on funds for treats. So when I can get treats for my pups that they like and I love with a low price, that’s one for the keep list.

They aren’t the cheapest treats at 30 dollars a month. I got a lot though. I received a bag of their liver treats (which are for cats too, and as I have one, another win-win), two bags of their kali wag treats (a smaller bag like in the picture above, and a bigger bag). What I liked about the kali wag treats are they can be broken into any size you want. If you have a yorkie, then one small square it is, but if you have a great dane size dog then more. It’s really great for people like me who have a great difference in dog sizes (with Kit @ 45, Zoey @ 75 & Riddick @ almost 90). We also got a chew (which Kitsumi got because it was about 6 inches), as well as a bag of anchovies.

The chew Kitsumi loved, didn’t last long but she loved it.

Now let’s talk about those anchovies. I’m not going to lie, I’m very nervous. I don’t eat fish ever! So I am not sure if it will smell, or what. We haven’t tried those yet but we will eventually.

Ruby’s Paws Website 

They also have a facebook page. I would really love to keep getting these boxes, I think the company has the right idea. Good goes in, good comes out. I like knowing how to pronounce the ingredients in my dog’s food and treats.  They tried so hard not to move for this picture!! I am proud they could this much. We are working on our pictures with treats photo’s most of the time they are good. These treats must have smelled really good to those sensitive noses. Kitsumi couldn’t even wait for mom to open and unpack the box before she had to look and get a sniff in.

I like to use the Kaliwags for after training treats. (The ones where they get a really great treat{s} for a great session/ they did something great/ breakthrough). They really like to train, if you can’t tell.20171120_135236 (1)

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^^^^**Mom please go away so I can eat my chew in peace please…..Thanks a lot**^^^^

Pepto Bismol

      Can you give pepto to dogs? Does your dog have an upset stomach, diarrhea, dry heaves, gas? I know when I have these symptoms that I want something as a quick fix.

      My vet for Kitsumi said NO! She told me not to give her pepto. While I am not sure if it’s toxic, I can say that when my vet tells me something I tend to listen. They have spent how many years and how much money on vet school, so they should know what they are talking about. Kit has been on antibiotics for her complications after her spay surgery, so she has an upset tummy. She was throwing up and today she was dry heaving. Yesterday she was in for a check up and the vet told me to discontinue the antibiotics, because that’s probably what it is. She said the mass in her stomach has gone down. We left with an appointment for 2 weeks later.

      Anyway, back to the real issue, I hate seeing Kitsumi in pain. Even if she isn’t necessarily in pain, this time it’s just dry heaves. Does it suck, yes. So what the vet assistant I talked to today said I could make her fast and then give her a bland diet of chicken breast and white rice.

      Grrrrr…. How can I just let her not eat? I don’t know if you can stand it but I just can’t. So my plan is to give everyone bland diet, I am not going to pick up the food. When I see them hungry as they go for their food, I am going to give them the chicken/rice combo.

      I have heard that ginger tea can help, for little dogs about 1/4 cup. I personally have never tried it.
     Does your dog have tummy troubles? Do you have a secret formula? I may try adding some magic pumpkin to a little rice tonight. Any other ideas?

Foster Awareness

          Do you know what fostering is? You might remember a time when you seen a sign or commercial about becoming a foster parent for a kid in need. Have you seen the television commercials about how abused animals need your help? About how much your donation will help? About how they get a new life with their adopted family? Have you heard about how much medical attention or money it takes to help them? I know I have. I haven’t seen a commercial or much advertising about animal fostering. Animals, meaning not just dogs. But dogs are the focus of my topic.

          When you think about getting a dog, or decide a dog might be the right fit for you, what do think of? Animal shelters? Rescues? Breeders? The cute puppy in the window of a pet shop? How about a foster dog?

          When you decide you want to help a dog by adopting it, that’s great. Some people want only purebreds of a certain breed. They’re rescues and shelters that lean toward one or even a few certain breeds. Some mainly take in small or big dogs, etc.

          There is nothing wrong with wanting to adopt, actually it’s a great thing!

          What have you heard about fostering a dog? I hadn’t heard much. I did know that, I could get a troubled dog dropped off at my house, and then love them before getting my heartbroken when they get adopted by someone else.
That’s not true!! I didn’t know what I know now! I also didn’t know that every life you save from a shelter is 2 lives you’re changing. One when you take the pup into your home temporarily(fostering), and another, because the spot you opened up will be another place for another dog in need.

          So what is foster? That’s the question, right? Well I suppose everyone has their own opinion on what fostering is to them. To me fostering is yes, opening your home to a dog that you will fall in love with, and get heartbroken when they leave to their forever home. But it is so much more.

          My first (and current) foster, Kitsumi, comes from animal control in Chicago. It isn’t a great place from what I’m told. It’s probably one of the worst, at least this is what I am told, in our area. I was informed by a senior foster mom, that it might take Kit a while to open up, and mellow out, that it’s “a rough shelter”.
Kitsumi has not been with me a month yet, and she is bouncing around with my lab mix, Zoey. They are the best of friends.

          I have watched Kit come out of her shell. She isn’t all the way there but we’re getting there. So Fostering means when kitsumi finds a home (which I am even able to not only help find, but also be there to meet them and interview them) she will get just that, a home, a home forever. She isn’t going to get a few years home.
When you get a dog from a shelter kennel, you don’t know a lot about them. You don’t know if they are potty trained, if they are friendly with other animals, their moods, their energy levels, and so on. Sure a few of the kennel assistance could tell you that when they go for a walk all they do is pull, and when they go in to put their food bowl down the dog goes in the corner and shakes or on the opposite side, that they jump on them while trying to knock the bowl out of their hands. That doesn’t mean that the dog isn’t a “good” dog. Nor does it mean that the dog is a high strung speed racer with issues. The only people that dog gets to see daily is the ones that come into his house (or whatever enclosure he is in). So he might be jumping because he thinks you will think its cute, and stay longer to pet him because you do think that so he does get his reward of more of your time, therefore he is getting reinforced.

          With kitsumi, she was dumped off at animal control allegedly because the owner had “too many dogs”. It was written down that the owner said “she sleeps on the porch with the rest of the dogs.” Kit was scared after everything she had ever known what ripped away. So she growled at some “nice” people at the shelter. They told her that they understood by removing her from the adoption floor and placing her in the back to sit on death row, you could go see her. She wasn’t one of the dogs you could even ask about, she was put under that only a rescue group could take her (which isn’t easy to find on their website, or anywhere for that matter).

          I found kitsumi on a website that said she was in danger of being euthanized any day. I talked it over with my mom, and when we agreed, I took action immediately. I emailed the contact on the website (that was all the info I could get, the animal control in Chicago doesn’t have a phone number you can call or talk to someone). I received an email back later that day, and was directed to find a rescue to help, and then that’s when everything began.

          I can tell a future owner that Kitsumi does have an off switch, but it’s after Significant play time. She would rather sleep with you in bed, but she will go in her crate. A plus is that she is crate trained, if you prefer to crate train, if not that’s okay too. Kit loves to train. She likes learning new things, and she picks them up fast. She doesn’t appear to like staying in the kitchen. She isn’t great with cats, but is bff’s with dogs. She likes to play rough, so if they have a dog, it needs to be the same energy level. She doesn’t pull hard on leash, but she could stand to do a little more training, as she doesn’t pay much attention to where your feet are and ends up trying to trip you. She is very destructive with toys. I could go on, and on.

          A dog that comes from a foster family, is more likely to get a forever home versus a dog that comes from the shelter. Does that mean I don’t think you should get a shelter dog? No, shelter dogs are not bad, they don’t all get taken back, some dogs go from shelter to homes and get a forever home with a patient loving family.

          It is just that you know what you’re getting with a foster pup. Therefore, it is easier to make a better match. It is also less frustrating for the owner and gives them more confidence.

          If a dog cowers in the corner, for a few days, that makes an inexperienced dog owner nervous and unsure of themselves. If Kitsumi was the dog in this situation, she would growl if this person came too close. What do you think an inexperienced dog owner will do with a dog that they can’t get near (so it is going to the bathroom all over the place.) and now she is growling at said person. If I play this scenario in my head, I don’t like the conclusion I come to.

          Fostering doesn’t cost anything, is what rescues say on their websites. That is true for the most part. It also depends on the rescue. With my rescue, and I think every other, the vetting is billed directly to the rescue. They provide the food, toys, crate, etc. But I free feed, and long story short, it’s easier to have everyone on the same thing, so I buy the food for her. They didn’t bring toys, I bought some of those because I wanted kit to stop chewing on everything else (they did bring some later though). I also borrowed a crate, because while they did bring one, it didn’t work right. They brought a thin crate mat and sheet. I donated blankets I had.

          I know that it might hurt to give her to someone else, but I know that without my help, she would be put to sleep by now. I know that fostering her, helped make her chances at not only survival better, but the chance to have a long and happy life, with a family that will provide not only the basics (a warm and dry place to sleep, food, water, etc.) but love her, cuddle her, and give her a life that full of meaning, and happiness. I feel like if more people knew more about fostering, they could be better educated and know more about what fostering really is. Consider fostering, if you can’t give up your foster, that’s perfectly okay. Many people fall in love and decide to adopt them that they even have a name for it. It’s called foster fail.

          What does fostering mean to you? Do you have a foster story? I do, and I am willing to share. Have questions? If I know the answer, I will be more than happy to pass it along, if not I might be able to find out from fellow moms.

The Magic Of Pumpkin

The magic of pumpkin, that should say it all. I love pumpkin. The dogs go nuts for anything I make with pumpkin. They even love it straight out of the can.
I can’t emphasize it enough though, it should be plain pumpkin! Not the stuff for pie. The pumpkin mix in the can looks like the same thing, and might even smell better, but all the spice and things that they add in that make our pies yummy, are not great for the dogs.

So getting normal pumpkin in the can, can be expensive and in some places hard to find. It does last a while though. I get mine at the superstore by my house around thanksgiving. I can normally find it for a little more than a dollar. Any other time of the year it is anywhere from $2.50-$4. So I stock up.

On to why pumpkin is so great! For one (and for me it’s the best reason) its great for digestion! I recently had to change dog food, and I had to specially order it from a store. It wasn’t going to work out where I had enough of the old food to mix for transition. Zoey has a sensitive tummy on somethings, mostly she gets diarrhea. So for this instance, I made some bowls with pumpkin, enough that it coats all the kibble. My pups will eat this like they haven’t had food in days. No upset tummies. I mixed this for about 2 days.

They also love a spoonful as a treat. For them it is a very yummy treat.

Also it hides pills great. Kitsumi is having complications with her insides after her spay, and is now on antibiotics which she won’t eat in a pill pocket, or any other way. I don’t like to even think about forcing it down her throat. The trust you thought you had, yeah gone. The vet said I could take the medicine in the capsule and mix it in something. “As long as she gets the medicine, it doesn’t matter” said the vet.

Kit also loves peanut butter. With pumpkin, it can be watery, so I mix 50/50. I dump her pill with pumpkin and peanut butter and mix in a small bowl. I spoon a small bit at a time to kit, and she takes it. Success!!

It is also watery, as I said above! That’s great, because dogs can get dehydrated from any number of reasons. Pumpkin (and wet food) is a great way to get extra water. You can also freeze it then in the summer they get a great treat!

I have mixed flour (you can use any variety you like), peanut butter, pumpkin and made a dough. Roll it out and make shapes or however you want to cut it up. Bake. 350 degrees, how long depends on how big your shapes are and how think, as well as how crunchy or soft you want them. You really can’t go wrong.

Don’t be afraid to cook for your dogs. They don’t care if you left something in a bit too long and it’s a little browner than normal (at least dogs that don’t have sensitiveties). They also don’t care if it’s chewy, or dry. Some of my best recipes for my family have come from practicing on dog biscuits. My cinnamon rolls are a bigger version or the small ones I make for the dogs.

A bit of advice for people on budget: Don’t get the transition pumpkin canned food that they offer for $4 at the pet stores!! All it contains is pumpkin!! I got suckered into buying a jar. You know how someone puts you into a position where if you don’t get it you look like a turd, or a cheapskate? Yeah that’s exactly what I mean! When I got home I was so disappointed. Have your own pumpkin recipe? Let me know, and we can swap!

Canine Thyroid Disease

Zoey is a black lab mix, with what else I have not idea. It’s not rare but it is uncommon for dogs under 2 years old to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It is very similar to hypothyroidism in humans. I know to some people that word might sound like a mouthful, and well, it isn’t the easiest thing to repeat.

Hypothyroidism in dogs is when their thyroid doesn’t function properly. The thyroid is a butterfly gland in the neck that secretes hormones. Its regulated by the pituitary gland, which is located on the base of your brain. The hormones that the thyroid secretes are a vital part of making your body function the way it should. The thyroid regulates your energy levels and regulates our metabolism. It can also effect your mood. It also does a lot more, but this is just for a basic over view without going too deep.

 

A blood test is the only way to truly diagnose a thyroid disease. Hyperthyroidism in dogs is rare. Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid problem in dogs.

It’s said that fixed dogs have a higher risk, and certain breeds are more genetically likely to get this disease, but it can affect any dog, at any point in their life.

Some of the symptoms of a thyroid problem are:

  • Lethargy: which means that they lie down, don’t really play around like they usually do, and basically sluggish. Zoey did have this symptom. She also stopped holding her tail up high, which is normally higher than her butt and slightly curled.
  • Skin/Coat Problems: You will know if your dog has a problem in this area. Believe me! Zoey started off super itchy. Then she started pulling out her fur. We tried to stop her but I couldn’t watch her 24/7.  When we took zoey to the vet, I thought she had mange.  I was calling a few vets to get prices, and they were all the same for a skin scrape.  (their coats and skin won’t be red or irritated like with allergies.)
  • Weight Gain: Zoey didn’t gain much weight, if she did at all. She also wasn’t finished growing, so what I thought might have been normal growth for a developing puppy, might have been thyroid related.
  • Muscle loss: Zoey isn’t very muscular to begin with so I didn’t notice this either. (Also the developing puppy thing.)
  • Intolerance to cold: Yes! Zoey didn’t like to go out in the rain. She normally was fine, then one day she just started to refuse to go to the bathroom in the rain. I tried everything. In the end I was soaked, she stayed dry under the awning on the deck, she didn’t go to the bathroom and I was frustrated and confused.
  • Recurring Infections (skin and ear): Zoey didn’t have any issues with this one.

There are other symptoms, but these are the most common. If in doubt, just have the vet check it with their physical or the next time you’re at the vet.

The difference with this disease is that in dogs they take a pill twice a day (every 12 hours). Whereas in humans, we would take it once a day.
I know so much about both because Zoey developed hypothyroidism, than a month later I did. I know it might seem weird right? It truly is “like dog, like owner”.  No it is not contagious, but it does seem rather funny.

Does your dog have these symptoms? Do you? Is your dog less active than normal, for no apparent reason? Is your pup losing all her fur? Do you have more questions? Feel free to ask me, I will let you know, if I know the answer or give you my opinion. I’m not a vet, just an experienced dog owner.