Tag Archives: Bernese Mountain Dogs

well pleased

This last weekend was our second attempt at dog obedience/training classes.
We took Odin on his own on Saturday, but unfortunately due to staffing issues, the trainer couldn’t stay and had to return to OR to man the desk/counter, so instead I sent Odin and husband off to walk with the only other people who pitched up: Punchen (not sure how to spell it) the deaf, albino Great Dane pup (only 7 months old and he is over 130lbs) and his owner, Stephanie. Initially Odin was very wary of the big lug, but my husband said that as they walked, he got over it, and eventually they were walking side by side for quite a bit of the walk. That’s awesome news.
And then Sunday, the trainer suggested we take Odin early, on his own, for the “puppy play class” just so he could chill and watch and see how things went without worrying about Azzie. He didn’t have to do anything (but he did go into the agility arena for a walk around with the other pups) and he just chilled, while the puppies ran around and played together. My husband said he was very good – just a few “moments” but much better.
Then I arrived with Az and G, and this time around I let Azzie greet all the dogs (on her own) and she was 99% better. She’s a social dog and likes to meet everyone, which is my main issue: when the dog doesn’t WANT to meet Azzie she still wants to go say hi – so I thought that letting her say hi and interact a bit with the others would put her more at ease… and it WORKED!!
I was so proud of her! The only barking/craziness came when she was playing with husband and Ods in the “time out” area (it’s enclosed, so he took them in there for them to play when we got there – as Odin desperately wanted to play with his big sister, after watching all the other dogs play together) even though they weren’t in time out, while I took Gina into the agility arena and ran her through that. Gina was AWESOME!! Everyone was so impressed. She didn’t do the raised walking thing, or the rigid tunnel (it was set up in a curve, so she couldn’t see the other side, and she’s never done it before so the trainer said don’t worry about it this time) and she did a shortened version of the soft tunnel, but she jumped everything, and even did the see-saw and BOTH sets of weave poles :) I was so pleased with her! She was also very pleased with herself! She LOVES to do that stuff!
Now that Odin knows some of the commands (he does, however lay down for “sit” and for “down” and for “relax” and for “gentle” – but we’re working on getting him to tell the difference) I took him through the rally course (obedience course) and while he was a little wary of the pieces of laminated plastic attached to the cones, he did really well :) He really is a smart dog, and is coming along so nicely. Everyone noted his progress, just as everyone commented on how good Azzie was this time around too.
Next week, I want to take Azzie through the agility course, and maybe even Odin… and then impress everyone with Gina on the rally course 😀

All in all, a really good weekend with them. A huge relief after the hell-hounds of last time.

A gorgeous morning walk and a little Odin update

A gorgeous morning – still cool enough that the dogs could enjoy themselves, but the sun was out and it warmed up slowly. By the time we got back to the car, it was starting to get quite warm, so we were just in time.

We discovered a NEW section of the Bahrenbach Pfad! (The Bear River Path) and took a wander down that to explore, but didn’t get too far as Odin started to whine a little bit as his leg started to get sore.
Dogs were _awesome_ on the walk! So well behaved. Odin met the horses for the first time, in the paddock near the parking area and he was scared at first, but then when he saw Gina being peaceful and calm and relaxed with them (sniffing noses and being nuzzled softly) he came close enough to sniff and be sniffed and it was awesome. Azzie did well too – she does get SO excited though and wants to play… luckily these are two elderly boys (the horses) and so they weren’t easily spooked by her play bows and huffs. But they all did well and I was very pleased. They also all three waited beautifully while a lady with a very feisty and large Labrador went by down the other path. The lady thanked us profusely for our patience and calm, which was pretty cool :) No barking, no silliness. They sat (well Odin stood – he’s still too wobbly/sore to sit properly) and watched and Gina even wagged her tail. I gave them treats, they watched me. It was brilliant.
Same thing when we got to the car – another lady was parked there and she came up another path behind us a few seconds after us…
Dogs didn’t bark, even when they were in the car and the dog came and sniffed the car before heading to his car. I was SUPER proud of them :)

Azzie was a little anxious as there was medium loudness kabooms coming from the range, so I put her back on her lead and she felt a bit “safer” and enjoyed herself more. But she was not in the mood to play, despite Odin’s best efforts (he even did a yoga stretch out on the open field, expecting her to want to play and chase him around – but she didn’t want to) to engage her.
Odin’s tummy not so great this morning – maybe too much food again (I upped it a little last night as he seemed VERY hungry) or maybe still ruminating on the marrow bones. He perhaps needs a smaller one :) I forget he’s not as big as the girls, sometimes.
All in all, a lovely walk!

Here are some photos:

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Odin is coming along really well – gaining weight, putting on muscle and he can go further and further on the walks now. He is a happy boy. He has a few quirks we need to work on – but nothing major (so far) that causes concern. He is a gentle boy, still, and I am hoping he remains that way. He and Azzie play so nicely together – nice and gently, the way Azzie likes – and even Gina gets in on the dog piles now. She did lose her temper a bit this morning and put him in his place, but I think he accidentally stood on her tail while they were wrestling. He wasn’t phased – just left her alone for a few minutes and then went back for more when she calmed down. She happily played some more, so she was fine too.

On other good news notes: I lost another pound! I’m well pleased with myself – only one more to go until I reach my (first) goal weight! It’s been a long, difficult haul for me, but worth it. I think I’m looking ok for a (nearly – just a few months away) 40 year old.

and then it all changes again

I think I’ve waxed on about this point many times in other posts – military life means that you NEVER EVER know what’s going to happen from one day to the next.

My husband got news last night that his dream career in the army has COME THROUGH! Finally! The paperwork made it, at last, to the right place and got approved. After YEARS of struggling to get this done – being shut down and blocked by his unit over and over again – he finally jumped through the right hoops and crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s and IT’S HAPPENING! (He just told me now, this morning – there were things going on yesterday that made him wait to tell me as he didn’t want to stress me out more than he felt I already was) But of course now this means EVERYTHING changes. All the plans we were making for our travels back to the States are now, once again, in limbo. Does he leave in a couple of months? When does the school start? Where do we go? Or do we have to wait another few months here in Germany? And is it “we” or is it just him? Will HE go back for training and we stay here? Or do we all go together to the training place (not sure where/which one) and then move again when he is done and gets assigned to his new unit?

Plus we will most likely have a third dog, by that point. Odin will, as far as things are going now, be going to join us. It will be complicated – I will be doing the whole thing on my own, as my husband will still be away. And now this?

Interesting times. It’s all an adventure, right?

 

Dogs

Our dogs are doing better – slowly coming right. With no dog park visits their immune systems are becoming stronger and they are feeling healthier and happier (especially Gina) and we’ve been walking further distances and longer durations.

I’m being very careful to keep everything the same and not change anything drastically (or even just a little bit) – they get the same food, the same treats and the same amounts etc. I’m dropping their meal size just a little bit (at the request of the vet – two of them now! My girls are FAT!) each time though, but not enough that they really notice (less than 10%) so they don’t get silly about being hungry all the time. Azzie has in fact curbed her appetite quite well, and I’m letting Gina decide when she’s hungry – sometimes she misses 2 or 3 meals a day – but she’s been very good about eating her breakfast.

We’ve had some WONDERFUL walks the last few days – weather is changing, but thankfully still cool enough for us to walk at our “usual” time and for long durations. Azzie is still working on the “pacing” of her energy usage :)

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In other dog news: Odin (the dog that my husband is “rescuing” from his awful situation) has now been diagnosed and he will be having his surgery (dislocated femur, torn cruciate knee tendon – they are pretty sure he was hit by a car) this week. Will cost a pretty penny, but my husband is adamant that he wants to do this. Then Odin will be flying to the US, to be “fostered” (and while I’m grateful that he will be safe, at least – I can’t say that I wouldn’t be happier with a different situation – but it’s impossible right now for us to take him until we get there) until we move back to the States (just a few months, if all goes well) and we can HOPEFULLY make him part of our furry family. He deserves that much. Of course I know that while my husband says he “shares a special bond” with Odin – we all know who will be walking/feeding/training the dog, right?

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quietly growing up

I think Azzie is, very gently, very quietly, growing up…

She’s nearly 3 years old, which is apparently when BMD’s reach their emotional maturity (it takes them a long time, compared to most breeds) and she’s recently been … different. She’s calmer in new situations, calmer with new people, gentler with children, more responsive to me (especially on the short lead) and in the last week or so she’s also started curbing her appetite. She started this when Gina got so sick – she stopped grumbling to be fed, stopped grumbling to go out, etc. I thought it was just her being concerned for Gina, but she’s continued it even now when they are both much better.

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So I’ve begun an experiment (Don’t Panic! I’ve not changed their food or anything else! I’ve learned my lesson regarding that, believe me)  – I feed them (put their food out – it’s just dry food now) and I keep an eye on the bowls. Gina ate when she wanted to this morning, before we went back to bed after early morning toilet break. Azzie ate about an hour after we got back from our long morning walk. Gina ate a little bit after that. She didn’t finish her bowl (and she only eats from one of the bowls, as does Azzie – another sign of maturity?) but she ate enough to obviously fill her up. I have to be careful – I have to keep an eye on the time they eat, so that I make sure we don’t do any exercise for an hour after they eat. So it will get tricky when they eat at different times. I need to keep an eye on them to prevent bloat as well. But if it makes them happy and they lose some weight at the same time – then I’m willing to go the extra mile for them, so to speak :)

We went on a nice long walk along a new path, this morning. It’s a path I’ve driven by many times, seen the start of it (and a place to park) but never been brave enough to actually go to. But today we did it. Dogs were AWESOME and so well behaved, it was perfect walking weather (cool, but not icy cold and not too hot) and the dogs had a great time exploring the new area. We did take a few shortcuts across fields, as I wasn’t totally sure where some of the path sections went, but now that we’ve been around there, I think next time we will just follow the path all the way around :)

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Spring is definitely here – only a few bits of snow left in weird locations (Azzie made a point of rolling around in all of them, just to make them feel special for hanging around so long in the warmer weather – she’s sweet like that) and everything else was freshly tilled earth and newly budding flowers. Germany in springtime is quite a sight to behold.

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A New Year

So. 2015 huh? And still no flying cars.

Tesla’s are cool, of course – but they don’t fly…. yet.

ISIS are making a concerted effort to f**k the world up.

America slips deeper into idiocracy. (That movie is a scary warning, which unfortunately no Americans seem to take seriously)

My home, South Africa, begins to twist into “new Zimbabwe” thanks to Zuma and the ANC “gang” – with farm attacks and “reallocation of land” and load shedding and all that fun stuff. Apparently Zuma blames the “white colonials” for all the trouble they (the black people) are having now in South Africa. Yeah. Because it was so rosy before they arrived, right?

Dogs are doing well (although G is having a bad tummy morning – but I know the reason why and I have taken steps to sort her out)

Husband is still away. They extended his mission time.

So there went our Nordic dream trip. Yay army.

One good thing came of all that mess – in trying to sort out a shengen visa to travel around Europe, I discovered that because of various factors (foreigner, married to a US military member, living in Germany on orders) I can actually get a kind of residence permit, which will allow me to travel Europe without the need for a visa! Yay!

So this afternoon I’m off to see Mr Kupke at the “government house”  (not the Rathaus, he was quick to clarify) and begin the paperwork for that.

I just let Gina out on the balcony for the 10th time this morning, and 7 seconds later she was at the door, asking to come back in – I timed it. Seriously. She’s worse than a cat. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with this in and out and in and out and in and out every 2 minutes, so she can now sit there and chill until I feel like opening the bloody door again.

UPDATE: there was a reason for her restlessness – she is quite unwell. Vomiting, bloody diarrhea. So I rushed her through to the vet. No parasites or Giardia, thankfully. But she will have to fast for today and see how she does tomorrow with a little bit of chicken or something. Danke schon, Doktor Dehn.

Been a few months now as a vegetarian and I’m doing well. No anemia, no weakness or issues. I’ve been using an app called “MyFitnessPal” which helps me count calories etc and I have been slowly and steadily losing weight. I’ve lost 10lbs now, and while I have hit a slight “rut” now, hovering around a weight, I just need to be disciplined and stick to it and I am sure I can lose some more. I’m close to my goal weight. I just need to stay on track.

We’ve had loads of snow, but I think it’s now petering off a bit. We’re heading into March (it’s Gina’s 6th birthday tomorrow!) and it’s starting to warm up. Then again, Germany (Baumholder especially) likes to keep us on our toes when it comes to the weather.

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First winter snow

Happy snow dogs, lemme tell ya!

Treats, please!

Day … whatever of Life Without Facebook and I don’t miss it at all :)

Finally the snow has come for the winter and hopefully more to come – my dogs were BORN for this, they LOVE it!

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Even Gina sheds her normally stoic exterior and becomes a nutcase in the snow!

Gina doing zoomies

A little quiet around here with husband away, but we’re used to it. It’s only really difficult at night – but the dogs like the extra space on the bed! :)

Stay frosty!

Queen of Excuses

I am the queen of excuses.

Sometimes they are valid, but mostly they are just pathetic attempts to make myself feel better for being lazy/clumsy/fat/uninspired.

So yesterday, I finally kicked my own butt, and made an effort. I signed up to Livestrong Women and got the “MyPlate” app for my phone as well.

It has a calorie tracker. I set my current weight, my goal weight, my age, my sex, my height and my activity level and it told me how many calories I should try and consume a day to help me lose weight.

I thought – that looks easy! And then I started actually putting in the things I was eating and wow do those calories add up quickly! Luckily, I saw that a nice easy dog walk a few times a day helps a GREAT DEAL – so imagine how fat I would be if I didn’t have my girls to keep me active?!

So today, I am feeling much better about it all – I know I _can_ go through the day on the calories I have to consume, without feeling hungry, and as long as I keep up with the dog walking, I will manage to lose some weight. Of course, I need to get a scale to actually see if I’ve lost anything!

One of my many excuses for not running started out as a legitimate one: while at the dog park, one of the dogs (not Azzie, surprisingly!) slammed into my knees and popped my right knee back very hard. It was swollen and bruised for over 2 weeks and I could barely walk, much less run. So I gave it 4 weeks to heal. That was 6 weeks ago. So. No more excuses. I MUST RUN! If dog walking takes off anything from 97 to 170 calories, imagine what running can do?! Come on, biatch, get your fat butt in gear.

I must just ignore the guilt I feel for leaving behind two perfectly good dogs while I go off and do stuff on my own… right?

It’s hard. They do everything with me – they are with me nearly 24/7 (only times they are not is when I have to go into a shop etc, so I leave them at home – I don’t leave my dogs in the car if it’s even vaguely warm outside – and if it’s cold, I still only do it for maximum of 5 minutes) so it’s difficult to leave them behind and head out the door in my running shoes. I know it’s all me! They don’t care, as long as I come back! They were the only ones worried the one night that I went for a run late at night and got locked out of the gate I went through  and had to run an extra 4km to get home… I was gone nearly an hour… my husband had no idea, but the dogs went ballistic when I got home!

I love them so much, these two silly fluffy butts. They are just getting healthy again, after so many months (years, in Gina’s case) of being unhealthy and not quite “right” at all. They are (besides my husband) my everything in this world.

But it has to be done! I REFUSE to turn into a fatty before I’m 40! It’s no excuse! Sure I’m getting old, heading into middle age… but I know women who are twice my age and they run marathons, for goodness sake! I’m HEALTHY, got use of my legs my body my mind – I have NO  excuses left.

And the yoga, too – I need to do that more. The dogs settle after a few minutes of flopping all over me and climbing under my Downward Dog, so that’s not an excuse EITHER!

Vegetarian thing is going well – I’m settling in to my routine and menu nicely, even when tempted by other food that I loved before. I just think about where it came from, how it got there… and my mind is set. I feel healthy, despite the weight I’ve gained (and I know I have, thanks to the wobbly bits and the bits that fight me when I put on an old pair of jeans) I just need to drop the fat now, and tone the muscles that I know I have underneath!

Doing the 30 Day Ab Challenge (Livestrong Women) and I WILL FINISH IT. No giving up.

another hodgepodge

I’ve been doing all these “things” to try to (almost) force myself to blog more… I added myself to a website “circle” all about sewing, I added an author link on G+ and I linked my blog to some other web groups as well…

I’m also still trying to keep the “blogging tribe” experiment going… I did warn them that I am a sporadic blogger, but I really want to be a more consistent one. Not necessarily daily/scheduled but at least more than once a month!

Thing is, I don’t really have that much to blog about – my daily life is routine: get up, take dogs down, come back, make breakfast for dogs, me, husband, get dressed to go, walk dogs, come back, clean house, feed dogs, do laundry, walk dogs again, do more household Domestic Goddess stuff, feed dogs again, chill for a bit, walk dogs, make dinner, chill, take dogs down before bed, then off to bed… and the next day I do it all again.

Right now, husband is away for a few weeks, so I have even less to do, but I am trying to keep up the schedule, for the dogs and to stop myself from vegging out.

So I have set myself a few goals for these 3 weeks of “alone time” and I will do my best to both blog about it and also complete said goals. Or just blog about not completing them. Failure is always an option. I’m a starter, not a finisher.

This hodgepodge post is to “catch you up” to where I am right now: sitting at my awesome (and quite neat at this time) desk, with dogs lolling around in their spots, licking ice cream from their sweet white furry lips. All the fans are going, as it’s heating up already. Going to be pretty warm today (29C) despite the fact that it’s already August and it should be cooling down rapidly. *shrug* Germany has not exactly been “normal” as far as the weather goes, this year. We had snow and negative temperatures, in May, so I’m not really counting on this “summer” to end too soon. The whole week is going to be a scorcher. So husband left one of our air conditioners (the big one) up in the apartment for me, and of course there’s the kiddie pool downstairs and the bath upstairs, to keep the pooches cool. I really need to invest in those cooling mats. I think the dogs would like them. Or a cooling vest. They did well this morning on our walk, though – we stuck to the shade, took lots of little breathers under trees, and I gave them lots of water. Azzie is on the bed – it’s her new favourite place. I worry when it gets quiet though – she really is like a toddler… you’d rather there was noise… or you know they are up to something!  I’m going to go check on her in a second, when I am done with this post.

The Dog Food Adventure is going well. I’m going to bake some eggshells today, and grind them up – a major source of calcium and other nutrients – I’ve gathered quite a large amount. The girls LOVE their “meats” in their meals now. Gina loves the ground beef (93% lean) and Azzie loves her chicken. Azzie eats anything I put in her bowl, but I have to be sneaky with Gina. She has, however, been eating her veggies (carrots and green beans and a small amount of potato) in the stews I’ve made for them. I’ve also ordered something called “Longevity” by Springtime Inc. It’s a powder that you put on their food, once a day, which apparently is so good for them that there are now 19 year old herding dogs running around like 4 year old pooches, amongst other success stories. The Bernese Mountain Dog group that I am on swears by it – especially for big dogs like ours, so I am looking forward to that arriving. It helps to heal previous damage as well – so I am hoping it will help Gina’s back left leg to heal properly. I want to start running with both of them.

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As for my running – I ran a proper race! Only 5km, but it was my first actual race (for myself, not for my school) in over 20 years. I was pretty proud of myself. I ran 95% of the way – only walked (briskly!) up the very long, steep hills, and only for a minute each time. I finished in a time of 33 or 34 minutes (not too sure, as I was so excited about actually doing it that I forgot to start my stopwatch until I was at the end of the first street!) which was a pace of around 6:25 or 6:35… either way, I was pleased as punch for actually DOING IT!  My husband was proud of me too – but he laughed at my time :) That’s ok. My goal was to just FINISH it and finish strong. I sprinted to beat another runner, at the end. Unfortunately my husband didn’t see my epic finish, as he was standing off to the side with the dogs, because they were worried about me “running off” without them. Silly girls. Next time, I will take them with me! So we all need to get fit again. Apparently you can win a prize too, if you are the first to cross the line with your dog!

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My sewing has had a pause again – I did complete 95% of a black micro suede wiggle skirt, but I made a miscalculation on the amount of fabric I needed, so it was shorter than planned, and I have to still do the kick split at the back. I will post photos when that’s done. One of my goals in this “alone time” session is to make something new. So I’m looking at my patterns, and my fabric and trying to decide what. I might make a nice comfortable top, or maybe some yoga pants.

I haven’t done yoga in weeks and weeks. Makes me sad. It’s almost impossible to get down on the floor to do anything, without the dogs getting all excited and literally climbing all over me. Gina crawls under my Downward Dog, and Azzie thinks my Bridge pose is so she can sit on my chest. So it’s been complicated. I really do want to get back into it – and that’s another goal for these 3 weeks.

They are doing construction outside our buildings right now and since yesterday we’ve had to move our cars to parking places across the road and quite far down. Annoying, but hopefully it won’t be for long. Thankfully the buildings where I am parked are not full, so there are free spaces still. I left a note on my car windshield so that anyone whose bay I am in can come find me if they need me to move one of the cars. I’m polite like that. Can’t say the same for the rest of the people around here. There is a serious lack of respect for others, sometimes. And, as you know, don’t even get me started on the dogs stuck inside all day. *deep breath* *counts to ten*

So that’s a catch up, for now.

Our Dog Food Adventure

I am part of an excellent and highly informative group who all own Bernese Mountain Dogs. 95% of these people (breeders and just regular owners – not that you could call Berners “regular” dogs :) but that’s another story for another time) feed the BARF (or Raw diet) or what we call “human food” diets.
I’ve been wanting to try the Raw diet for my girls for a while, but it’s complicated and I’ve never really had the time to sit down and work it all out. Plus, being overseas, it would get very expensive, and we also don’t really have space in our freezer/fridge for all the extra meats etc.
However, I DO know that my Gina especially, LOVES eating _real_ food as opposed to dry dog food. We have them both on an excellent organic brand (Castor&Pollux Organix) which they have done well on, but Gina sometimes just leaves her food and doesn’t bother eating it. It bores her, I suppose. So I started trying to entice her back to her bowl by adding some chicken (cooked breasts) and rice (brown they don’t digest so well, but white seems fine) and she tucked in to her food with great enthusiasm… for a while… I still added about half the amount of dry food that I would normally feed, and made up the rest of the meal with chicken and rice. She loves it, Azzie devours it (I have to hand feed her sometimes when she’s really hungry, as she just sucks it all up like a vacuum cleaner) and they both seemed happy like that.
Then a while back we had a braai (bbq/cookout – whatever your culture wants to call it) and I bought them each a large juicy steak. My husband cooked them on the fire (no salt no added anything) and made sure they were rare.
I chopped up the steak into small cubes and fed them each about 5 or 7 pieces in their food.
Gina’s reaction was almost COMICAL in her zeal. She licked her bowl CLEAN. It was wonderful!
So for the next few days they had little bits of steak in their bowls and they were super happy… I thought this was a good time to start thinking about either a Raw diet, or what I’ve read about – the whole food diet.

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Carefully balanced meals (“stews” and other things) for your dogs weight and calorie needs, made from “human food”
I downloaded a book on my Kindle – with much recommendation from people in my BMD group – called “Feed Your Best Friend Better” by Rick Woodford.
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So today: our adventure begins…
With their “lunch” (half a bowl of rice and chicken, usually) I added some scrambled eggs (no salt or pepper or anything else) – just a small amount, to see how their stomachs react, and also to test out their eating reaction :)
Gina, of course, sniffed her bowl and each piece of egg before eating it, but she also finished her bowl and licked it clean (with only chicken and rice, no steak!) and of course Azzie went back to double check there was nothing left over…
Now they are both snoozing in their spots – happy pups.

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A good start!

I love my dogs and I want to be sure they are getting a balanced diet filled with all the nutrients and good stuff they need – and I want them to be HAPPY about food time as well. We share everything else with our dogs, why not our (good!) food?
I will be doing my best to keep this adventure updated… so if you are at all interested in feeding your dog Raw/wholefood instead of commercial kibble… keep an eye on this story!

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