Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PET WARS: A New Hope

So how do you get your dog and cat to get along when your cat is infinitessimally outraged you brought a fire-breathing dragon home to her lair and your dog is ravenous to shower the cat with kisses?

Why, do what any self-respecting mom would do, of course! Drug them both with the most potent of species-specific psychedelic substances!

Here, Yoda is completely immersed in chewing her bone (it's actually a Wapiti antler) meanwhile Tomayitsa, our 9yo cat is a-plotting something from afar in a rather dark side-esque fashion


Tastefully lay out a bucket of catnip and the kitty trap is laid. Beast = catnip = heaven = love.

Thus, beast = love

And so, after 3 weeks of fearful avoidance and rotating schedules visiting her minions (that's us by the way), the dark side quietly approached the light.

To be continued...

Anyone have a story to share about how they got their cats and dogs to interact peacefully? I'd love to hear!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pitbull Named Yoda, hrmmm?

If dogs could get a legal name change, ours would file for the name Yoda.

That's the name we have chosen for our pup after more than a handful of people telling us she looks just like the Star Wars character. My husband (the biggest star wars fan ever) had ZERO influence in this decision. None. Nada. *giggles*

We find her new name suits her wise, calm ways and her oversized ears!

Lo and behold, the rise of our Yoda-Dog!

Alike we look, hrmmmmmm? Smarter than him, I am.

May the force be with you!

Enjoying the first dog day of summer!

"Mama, it's hot outside!"

Here is my rrrruv, first time basking in the sun this season! In a span of 2 weeks, we went from cold and snow to +25 degrees summer weather! Aaah, gotta love Montreal!

To a wonderful summer ahead together my Yoda-dog!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Girl's Best Friend

Last night, after a super long walk together, was the first time I invited my girl up on the sofa bed to cuddle.
She simply collapsed in my arms and went straight to sleep. It's safe to say I was on cloud no. 9! :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shout-Out from the Pitbull Rescue

Pit Stop Montreal Rescue posted an adoption announcement on their facebook page today and I was really happy to see it:

"Lovely and almost perfect Casey got adopted! From a home where she was unwelcome and in the way, to a home where she is so well taken care of, both physically and psychologically. Obedience classes, huge doggy beds, lots of reading on dog ownership and lots of TLC. Let's wish them an amazing life together and we will surely have regular updates to share. // L'adorable et presque parfaite Casey a été adoptée!! D'une maison où elle n'était pas la bienvenue et encombrate elle passe chez une famille où on prend tellement soin d'elle, autant psychologiquement que physiquement. Des cours d'obéissance, des gros coussins pour chiens, beaucoup de lecture sur le sujet et beaucoup de TLC. Souhaitons-leur une super belle vie ensemble et nous recevrons sans doutes plusieures mises à jour à partager!"

Thank you guys, we promise to take care of her fur-ever!

Chicken liver and peanut butter sauce! Yummers!

So in the name of giving a healthy boost to our girl's immune system, I have been doing a lot of reading on supplementing dogs' diets with raw meats and vegetables.

My mom, being the best mom ever, immediately went to the grocery store the next day and bought us about 4lbs of fresh chicken liver. 

Thing is, I don't think our girl ever ate raw meat before. Though she drools over freeze dried liver treats, she cautiously sniffed the fresh liver piece I so lovingly presented to her and snubbed it.

(Just a note, anyone who knows me, knows I can barely touch any raw meat even to cook it! Hence why my hubs is the one always cooking....and I know he's reading this... lav youuuu! lol)

So here I was...me...on the ground, massaging a piece of chicken liver and Madame wouldn't have any of it.

Houston we have a problem.

Then I had an "aha!" moment: She loves peanut butter!

Out came the ninja food processor and in went the chicken liver and a heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter and Voilà! An absolutely unappetizing pink purée special of the day! But our Pitty princess gobbled it up in a flash! Tail wagging and all.

I guess it was the texture of it that threw her off at first... Now we know what to do for next time until she gets used to the raw foods :)

What ingenious ways did you guys come up with to introduce new foods to your dog and how did that go? Any tips you would like to share, would love to hear back.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Demodex (demodectic mange)

Demodex. Sounds like a revolutionary synthetic-like fabric. Kinda like spandex, but it is anything but.

Our girl has a bald spot on the top of her head and some thinning patches of fur around her neck. The previous "family" that abandoned her told the rescue it was just seasonal allergies which recur yearly. I wasn't going on base myself on their words, so I got it checked out by our vet.

So the seasonal allergies bit was a lie. It's Demodex.

If you're a new dog owner like I am, you probably asked yourself...

"What's a Demodex"?

Demodex is a microscopic mite, a parasite, that almost all dogs carry on them since puppyhood without any issue whatsoever. It becomes a problem when a dog's immune system becomes suppressed or compromised and is unable to provide the necessary resources to maintain a healthy skin and coat. At that point the demodex mites are able to multiply and take over the skin in larger colonies (I don't know about you but just that word gives me the heeby jeebies)

The mites basically set up shop in the hair follicles and the hair starts to thin and fall out. When the demodex have reached this stage of creating patches of hair loss and scaly skin, the result is called demodectic mange.

Types of Demodex

If there are only a few spots it's called localized demodectic mange.

If there are more than 10 spots it's considered generalized demodectic mange.

Puppy vs. Adult Onset of Demodex

It seems that puppies get demodectic mange frequently and this is almost normal since their immune systems are still developing. This type of mange usually passes on its own with time as the pup's immune system catches up.

However, when an adult dog develops demodectic mange, especially the generalized type, it may be a cause for concern. It is a strong sign that the dog may at that time or within the next year be suffering from a serious illness which is taxing their immune system, such as diabetes, cancer or Cushing's disease. Heat cycles also affect bitches' immune systems, which is another reason why spaying and neutering are so important.

Now, how to treat Demodex?

The automatic reflex is, naturally, to want to treat the demodex, but that is only treating a symptom of the underlying problem. It is equally, if not more, important to get a full vet checkup to investigate the root cause and deal with any illnesses.

Feeding your dog a high-grade good-quality diet, ideally with some raw meats and vegetables will help boost your dog's metabolism. Has anyone noticed how much corn and filler is used in commercial dog food, especially grocery store kind? No wonder dogs get so sick!

I am no expert, but through my vet and Internet research (e.g. http://www.webmd.com/?mobileref=true&id=) I learned that for localized demodex, a good 10-15 minute wash with benzoyl peroxide shampoo (e.g. Pyoben) daily or every other day will usually solve the problem.

For generalized demodex, the most commonly used treatments are:
-whole body Amitraz dips, which are laborious and have numerous side effects
-Ivermectin injections taken orally daily for 6-8 weeks but sometimes up to a year (though this is an off-label use)
-Revolution (an Ivermectin derivative) which doesn't officially treat demodex but it is sometimes used for that and also treats fleas.

Considering our pup also has mild sarcoptic mange, a different mite than demodex which burrows in the skin and causes intense itching, and that sarcophagus mange is very easily treated with a few doses of Ivermectin, we are choosing to go with Ivermectin for the demodex as well. Might as well kill two mites with one stone and kill 'em good.

This just leaves me with trying to find out *why* she developped this demodex in the first place and trying to boost her immune system so she can stay healthy and avoid a relapse. Can't help but worry though.

Has anyone else had to deal with demodex and which treatment did you use? What are your thoughts? Would love to hear back!

The cocooning period (I.e. The first two weeks)


Having just started this blog, it's a bit hard to post in accurate detail about all the things that already happened in the past two weeks, without sounding like a boring summary. I'm thinking that posting up a mashup of my Facebook posts + pics will allow me to capture what I was feeling the moment and be a bit less boring lol.

We spent our first two weeks isolated together at home, just her, my husband and I so we could tighten our bond with her. We had no visitors and we avoided meeting other people and dogs in the street until we got to know her better and make sure she is feeling comfortable and recognizes us as her "people". You can read more about the cocooning period here.

The Introduction:

"This is a pup I might be rescuing ... We were selected out of a few families to adopt her! Sleepover try-out next week!! 2.5 year old american staffordshire/pitbull mix and she loves cats and babies! What a cutie patootie!"

A friend of mine told me I look like a kid on a Christmas morning, I certainly felt that way!

The Drive Home: 

My friend Sophie Pinto and I drove up to Trois-Rivières, Québec (3 hours from Montreal) to pick her up on a Monday night. She was so happy to see me again (ok, ok, so she is happy to see just about anyone). Surprisingly, even though she was with two new people in an unknown car, she didn't make a sound the whole 3 hour car ride back to Montreal! What a trooper!

The First Night:

We set her up in our spare bedroom on the first night and she quietly settled in to relax:

Look at those cute puppy dog eyes 

Life around home the first few days:

We spent the first few days tethered together with the leash, as a sort of umbilical line training. This is a technique used when you first bring home a rescue dog. Basically, you use the "umbilical cord" (lead attached to the belt) so that the dog has to stay close, get used to you changing directions and learns to pay attention to you. It also aids in housetraining problems as you can spot the signs of wanting to go early enough and avoid accidents.

Luckily our girl is fully housetrained and we had zero accidents!

Here she is lazying around: 

And frolicking in the snow (actual frolicking not pictured) on the last snowfall of the year ;) :

By our first weekend she was getting very comfortable around me and I learned that this girl loves to pose for the camera, much like her mama pitbull!

In the middle of our second week, we realized how important the "drop it" and "leave it" commands are. (More on our training method used in a separate entry):

"We had our first emergency and serious bonding moment last night.  Poor girl picked up a branch and started chewing, she dropped it after I gave the "drop it" command, but there was a big piece stuck in her mouth beside her gum and she was in alot of agony trying to get it out. Took alot of trust from my hubby and I to put our hands in her mouth to remove it. Such a good girl, she would stop biting when our hands were there and despite her pain, was kissing our hands. We got it out finally and there was a huge hug'n'kiss fest. Thank god we avoided the trip to the emergency vet. Here she is relaxing after the big mess in her new bed. I don't think she will pick up branches anymore!"

Not to mention, did anyone notice how huge her bed is? Lucky girl!

Every morning we have a set routine. We go for a good 25-40 minute walk (more about teaching her not to pull on her leash in a separate post) and then we cuddle for 5-10 minutes after she has been fed. She looks so peaceful here. And skinny. Got to work and bringing her weight up a bit.

By the second weekend, she had learned some new tricks! What a hipster dog she is!

If anyone wonders why we aren't referring to her by name it is because we haven't decided what to name her just yet. She came to us with the name Casey from her prior home, but we aren't sure we want to keep that. And if we use it, it will stick. Does anyone have any suggestions? :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Deciding to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog - and why we chose to rescue

Having a dog has been a life-long dream. Getting one while growing up was never feasible and I basically wasn't allowed to have one by my family for fear of the potential mess and work that comes with owning a dog. It was always disappointing but I understand the reasoning though. I spent all those years doing research on dogs and getting prepared instead! I got married a few years ago and we moved out to our own house and it was such a big joy to finally be able to adopt a pup!  To give you an idea how much I love pets, I have a cat, (had) 2 birds and 2 aquariums...and now, a dog!

The first decision we had to take was whether to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog from a shelter. While a puppy can be oh-so-cute, there are some serious things to consider before getting one. Bringing a puppy home is much like bringing a baby home. It will have zero prior knowledge, education or experience. While this can be a good thing because you will have the chance to raise and socialize the pup on your own and make sure it never lives any traumatic events and develops into a great adult dog, there are some drawbacks. It will pee, poop in the house and chew everything it finds, lack basic manners and need a lot of tending to much like babies do. Your presence in the home is primordial when you have a puppy because their bladder is so small, they need to be let out every couple of hours to do their business. You also have to take advantage of the key socialization "windows" available to you during a puppy's first few months of life, so if you are gone a lot, you risk depriving your pup of the attention and experiences necessary for the pup's healthy social development. That's just plain unfair for the pooch. Basically, having a full time-job and owning a puppy aren't compatible. We love babies, but we weren't ready to raise one (just yet).

Now, let's say one of us was home most of the day (I WISH!) and we were ready to adopt a puppy, then there is also the very important question of *where* do you get your puppy from? I have too many friends who fall in love with the cute puppy behind the window at their local pet store, but they fail to realize that buying from a pet shop fuel the puppy mill industry and that the parents of that cute little doggy is a puppy mill dog bred year-round for litters and kept in cold, dirty cages all day without any exercise, often abused and left to die. Pet shop dogs are also usually inbred and have numerous health, genetic and temperament problems because puppy mills do not carefully select which dogs they breed. Which is why, for example, the calm and docile Golden Retriever most of us imagine, is often hyperactive, nervous, snappy and out of control when you cross it in the street. Because careless puppy mill or backyard breeding produces dogs with such nervous and other temperament problems. My moral of the story is: DO NOT adopt a dog from a pet shop unless you find it in a rescue or shelter. Why buy when you can rescue one of the millions of dogs that have been abandoned and deserve a chance at life and love?

That brings me to my next point. We settled on no other way than adopting a rescue dog. We went through the wonderful people at Pit Stop Montreal Rescue http://www.pitstopmontreal.com/ and found this wonderful pitbull mix girl called Casey. This was her description and I instantly fell in love with her when I read it.  

Her prior so-called family abandoned her because they didn't want her stepping on the carpets of their home or walking on the grass of their gardens. They didn't like her smell and were generally disgusted with her and kept her locked up and away from everyone all day. What a life!!! When they brought her in to the rescue, the rescue spayed her and it took a few weeks before we were able to meet her. We scheduled numerous other meetings with other dogs but we kept holding out knowing that this girl was special. How did we know she was the one? Ahhhh the mysteries of life!

We love our girl and although it's only been two weeks we would never change her for the world and we are 100% happy with our decision to adopt an adult dog rather than buying a puppy! It pains me to think that so many wonderful and loving dogs are put down every day because they have been abandoned and people keep buying instead of adopting! 

But (and I know I should never start sentences with "but").... but there are some issues with adopting a rescue dog, that you should be aware of. You don't always know what the background story is. We were fairly lucky that our girl came from a home - not a great one - but at least we were able to know her history. Many rescue dogs are strays or runaways and while that doesn't mean they won't be terrific pets, you simply don't know about their previous life and how it may have affected them, so it is wise to conduct a preliminary temperament test to get a general idea of the personality. (There are many useful links about this if you google how to select a shelter dog, for example, here are some that I found useful: 

http://dogwork.com/html/shelter-dog.html )

The great majority of all shelter dogs will make wonderful and loving pets and despite their pasts, with patience and love, all dogs can adjust and fit in with your family. Don't fall for the charm of the puppy eyes behind the pet shop window, give an older rescue dog a chance and he/she will reward you. Remember that with adult dogs WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) so if you are generally satisfied with how an adult dog acts when you first meet, then you are safe to assume that is how he/she will act once home. The same is not the case with puppies that can be a mixed bag of anything once they grow up and you can't easily predict which way they will go, if at all. 

That said, my hubby and I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having given a loving home to our beautiful rescue dog. She has already adjusted super super well and it has only been 2 weeks. I sense the bond has already started developing and it is absolutely heart-warming! She's a smart one and she already picked up 5 new commands within the first new week. Who ever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 


Hi, it's Mama Pitbull!

Hi there and thanks for stopping by!

My name is Roberta - also known as Mama Pitbull - a Montreal chick, Lawyer by day, DIY'er, avid scrapbooker, fitness freak and pitbull lover.

My hubby and I recently adopted of a female pitbull mix from a rescue...and I am so excited, I just have to write about it!

I started this blog to document the exciting adventures of being a first time dog owner and figured having a place to voice my thoughts and experiences would be fun and allow me to get feedback from fellow bloggers and maybe it will help (and hopefully entertain) anybody reading my posts out there.

My goal is to discuss things related to dogs in general, such as health, nutrition, fitness, training, dealing with behaviour issues, as well as issues specific to the pitbull breed and bull mixes and doing my part in the hopes of educating those who are prejudiced against these breeds and raising awareness against Breed Specific Legislation.

Hope pitbull and bull breed lovers and all dog lovers alike enjoy reading my blog!

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