more recall information

Hello – sadly, the recall is being extended to new brands and even a dry food formula. Here’s an article that explains the details well:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/03/31/pet.food.recall.ap/index.html 
As before, there is still nothing affected in any of the foods that Green Dog sells. All of our foods are made with “human grade” ingredients (ingredients are of the same quality as human foods, and are from the same sources). One interesting thing we’ve found out is that there are actually only a handful of canneries for pet food in all of North America, and Menu handles far more than the list of foods that were recalled. There are separate facilities for cuts and gravies than for canned foods.  As each brand of food is responsible for choosing the ingredients that are used, it really comes down to that – the quality of ingredients that are chosen. We feel confident that the brands we carry are diligent about the sources and types of ingredients they choose, and they are never choosing poor quality fillers and protein sources like wheat gluten over good quality meat proteins.

Fun video of dog and handler dancing

The Musical Dog Sport Association defines Canine Freestyle as a dog sport in which training, teamwork, music and movement combine to create an artistic, choreographed performance highlighting the canine partner in a manner that celebrates the unique qualities of each individual dog. It is built upon the foundation of a positive working relationship of a dog and handler team.
Although I can’t help thinking Freestyle is a tad goofy with its costumes and routines, I am also in awe of how much you can accomplish with positive training, and I think it’s a testament to how much fun we can have with dogs when you engage their minds and bodies in activities that challenge them and allow them to have fun at the same time. Check out this amazing video – any one of these moves could be a fun trick to work on with your dog.

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Pet Hair Everywhere! (and my pet won’t let me groom her!)

pet-hair.jpgNow that the weather’s getting warmer, we’re seeing dogs in the store who are “blowing their coat” – another term for seasonal shedding. Some of you might say, “Seasonal shedding?? But my pet sheds all the time!” This is a common complaint, and one that can often be cleared up with the addition of fatty acids to your pet’s diet. We have a few great brands in the store, and you’ll be amazed at how either a switch to a better food, or the addition of a fatty acid supplement can improve your pet’s skin and coat. Fatty acids have been shown to help inflammation, to slow the growth of yeast infections, to help joint pain, and of course to lessen shedding! Dogs will smell better when their skin is healthier. Cats won’t have as many problems with hairballs when they’re ingesting less hair.

But even pets with healthy glossy coats still will lose hair as the weather gets warmer, and some breeds lose entire layers of their coats as the season changes. We certainly have a variety of tools in the store that can help get that shedding hair out, but what’s to be done if your pet won’t let you brush him or perform routine grooming tasks? Make sure that your pet likes to be groomed, so it’s not such a hassle when you need to do it. Grooming is necessary for all hair types (even short-haired dogs benefit from brushing, which gets rid of dead skin and hair and distributes the natural oils through the coat. For cats, the less loose hair there is to ingest, the fewer hairballs they’ll have) and can either be a pleasant bonding experience or a nightmare. Toenail clipping is something some people don’t even attempt to do, but wouldn’t it be better if they weren’t scared by it when the groomer does it? If you have a puppy or kitten, start making grooming a fun experience right from the beginning. Play with your puppy in the bathtub a few times before you introduce water. Then just rinse him and dry him off to start with. Pair really super treats with brushing for both cats and dogs. Handle your animal’s feet as often as possible — especially with puppies and kittens — get them used to a foot massage right from the beginning. Make them like it. Even older animals can be taught to like grooming and handling, as long as you go slowly enough. Our old lady kitty, Zoe, hated the brushing until I worked on a minute or two of interaction with the brush every night followed by the best treat I could find. She now loves it and I no longer have to use the treats! Here’s how I did it:
Identify your motivator. What’s the best, most mind-blowing treat you can think of for that individual? You might have to try a few things they’ve never had before – real bits of chicken? Cheese? Once you find it, save it only for this task. For her it was a tablespoon of canned cat food. At the time she only ate kibble and the wet food rocked her world (now she eats raw food and canned cat food only).
Think about what you can get away with without this animal becoming nervous. If you can’t handle his feet, can you touch his legs? Can you brush her back but not her belly? For Zoe, she would rub her face on a metal flea comb, but if I moved it to her body she’d run away. At least I knew where I could start – rubbing her face on the flea comb was my starting point.
Set up a routine. Animals almost universally like a routine. Every night around the same time, I called Zoe into the living room and sat on the floor with my flea comb. I’d let her rub her face on the flea comb for a minute, then I’d hop up all excited and ask her if she wanted her soft food. We’d run into the kitchen together and I’d put her canned food on a plate. The next night, I called her in, she rubbed on the brush, and we ran into the kitchen to get her treat. By the third or fourth night, she was showing up for our appointment. She didn’t know I was up to anything, she just liked the idea of this new easy way to get her favorite thing.
Take it slow, and only move forward when the step you’re on is very easy. If your dog is very upset by having his feet touched but loves a back rub, just do the back rub for a while and then occasionally move down to the shoulders and right back up to the back. You certainly can have little yummy treats there with you as well that you slip him when you’ve strayed to the shoulders without a problem. Then when he no longer notices the shoulders, stray a little down the legs, reward, and move back up to the shoulders. When Zoe was really comfortable with the face rubbing, I’d push it along her cheek to the shoulder every once in a while. If I overstepped my bounds, she’d leave. Trick is, if she left, she wouldn’t get her treat, so she’d inevitably come back a few minutes later for a little more. I’d just do a few more moments, then I’d end the session on that good note. With dogs, watch for them to stiffen or freeze a little when you go too far for them too fast. Or, they may turn their heads towards the spot you’re touching, or maybe give you that wall-eyed warning look. Cats will start to flick that tail, or their ears may flatten a little. Be sensitive to their signals and try to keep it all to what they currently find enjoyable, and just pushing the edge a little at a time.
Incorporate more steps than you think you’d need to if your pet is wary of the final goal. For example, for nail trims, you’d move from leg massage to foot touching, to foot massage, to foot massage with clippers on the floor nearby but never touched. Then to picking up the clippers, giving a treat, and putting the clippers right back down again. Once you can pick them up without the animal noticing, touch them to the paw without using them. Work up to tap tap tapping on the nails for treats. Then pretend to clip a nail (I even read somewhere of a trainer that clipped a wooden matchstick held under the nail to simulate the clip sound of the nail trimming. Clever!).
Always end on a positive note. When you get a tiny bit further than you usually do, jump up for the big finishing treat, or play a game they love. If you went too far, do something easier that you can then give this big reward.

Within a very short time, you should see very good progress. It doesn’t have to be but a few minutes a day, and this fairly easy work will really pay off – imagine a lifetime of stress-free brushing or nail trimming for just a few minutes a day of interacting and rewarding your pet. Zoe now lets me brush her whole body, and the bonus is, she loves it. It was paired with so much love and so many treats over and over (classical conditioning at work) that she now finds a previously scary experience quite pleasurable. She was 15 when I started this — who says an old animal can’t be taught something new?).

Have a situation where you’re having too much trouble desensitizing them to something scary like nail trims or other handling? Never hesitate to bring in a positive reinforcement trainer to help set up a plan that will work for you and your pet.

Stuff your Kong!

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Winter is a tough time to have a busy dog. Granted, this winter has been much milder than most here in Portland, but what do you do for dogs that have lots of energy when it’s cold and rainy out? Keep their mouths busy – stuff a Kong! Many people know about stuffing Kongs – those durable red or black rubber toys are great to smear a bit of peanut butter in. However many people don’t get creative enough about their Kong stuffing, and may be wasting a good opportunity to keep a dog busy. The stuffing is only limited to your imagination. Peanut butter with no added sugar or salt is a good stuffing for sure. A bit of cream cheese is often fun. We even carry 3 flavors of Kong stuffing paste (peanut, liver, and breath pastes). However, when you start thinking outside the box, you can really make those Kongs interesting. The best way to really make the Kong work for you is to feed your dog out of it. When you put your dog’s food in a bowl it’s gone in a few moments, but if you stuff it into the Kong, breakfast can take a lot longer to get through. For the Kong novice dog you can just put their kibbles in there and let them roll it around and eat them as they fall out. As they get the hang of it, you can soak the kibbles in a bit of water to soften the kibbles, or mix canned dog food in there, and stuff that mixture into the Kong to create more work for them. You can create layers of soaked kibble (or ground raw meat if you feed raw), a cookie or two, some cooked rice, another layer of kibble, some cottage cheese, etc. If you need it to last even longer, you can freeze that mixture the night before. Freezing is actually a great way to even make treats last longer in the Kong. Yogurt and bananas are fun to freeze, or canned dog food, mashed potatos, cooked carrots, or how about plugging the little hole with cheese, standing the Kong up in a cup and filling it with chicken broth to freeze (ok, so maybe that’s a good summer outdoor treat). I have a friend that puts shredded cheese and kibble in her Kong and microwaves it to melt it and stick it all together, then freezes that! The nice thing about a Kong is you can also wash it on the top shelf of your dishwasher. Nifty! Do any of you have a creative idea about stuffing Kongs? Post them in a comment here and share them with others!

Snow Day!

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Our winters are usually a little wetter than white, but we do get the occasional snow storm. This one’s a good one with lots of fluffy snow, and a lot of happy dogs and kids playing in it. We made it into work, as we’re New Englanders with a bit of experience with this situation, and we don’t live far from the store. We had lots of fun seeing our neighborhood regulars off from work and out playing in the snow. This is a beautiful photo of Abby and Cooper enjoying it, snug in their locally made winter jackets. Also check out this cute photo of one of our customers’ miniature horse, Bentley, playing in the snow. Yippee!

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Green Tip – LED Christmas Lights

Now is a great time to pick up some LED Christmas lights on sale! If you were in our store between Thanksgiving and Christmas you might have noticed that we decorated with Christmas lights. These were actually strings of LED lights, which are an amazing innovation in Christmas lights – they’re incredibly durable (you can step on them and they don’t break), if one goes out it doesn’t affect the whole strand, and they stay cool to the touch when in use. Even better, they last about 25,000 hours (some even claim up to 200,000 hours) before burning out, and use 80-90% less electricity. If you’re getting rid of old strings of lights, make sure to find a place where you can recycle electrical waste instead of just throwing them away, as they often contain lead in the wiring/coating and shouldn’t be landfilled. LEDs are a bit more expensive but well worth it in the long run in energy savings and durability. Get some now while they’re on sale around town. Happy Holidays!

Welcome to the Green Dog Blog!!

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Hello everyone! Welcome to our new blog. A fair number of our customers have said they don’t know what a blog is, so I’ll give you a rundown – I’ll be trying to post little messages here at least once a week. Sometimes they’ll be announcing an event, or a new product, sometimes I’ll write articles like I’ve done in our past newsletters. And sometimes it will just be something funny we’ve found on the web related to dogs and cats, or something funny that happened in the store, or I’ll post a photo of a cute new puppy customer. The neat things about blogs are that you can respond with comments to any of my postings, or ask questions about a post. Also, you’ll be able to search the contents easily, and find all the nutrition articles, for example. To that end, I’ll be slowly adding the articles you might have already read in past newsletters, just so others can see them and you can search them in the future if you’d like.

Check out a few other blogs to see how it works:

This is a blog that one of our customers, Bella the Boxer, writes.

Go Fug Yourself is a funny blog that makes fun of celebrity fashion “don’ts”.

The Candy Blog is by a woman that eats vast amounts of candy and reviews it.

I’ll still send out the occasional newsletter letting you know of upcoming events, etc but most of the action will be here on the blog from now on. I certainly hope you enjoy it, and that you’ll bookmark it and check in on it regularly to see new posts. Anything you’d like to see on here – just let me know!

Thanks to all of you for your support these past few years!

Christine