Senior Dogs 101: Supplementing For Longevity!

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I know I’ve been mentioning Ru’s age a lot more than usual, but I guess that’s because I want to stay aware of what this next phase of life will bring. I’m lucky that as of right now, I have an incredibly vibrant and healthy old man. Rufus shows no outward signs of achy joints, cloudy eyes, or hearing loss. His coat is still beautiful and shiny and he’s fairly active. Besides his ongoing issues with his gums (which are all genetic and mostly pain-free for him), he’s a healthy guy . A healthy, salt-and-pepper senior dude.

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He just really loves his naps. Like..a lot.

It’s important to stay proactive about your older dog’s health, even when everything seems to be going pretty freaking well. That’s how we keep things on the up-and-up, right?

I experiment a lot with what I give Rufus and always keep a close eye on any changes I see. There have been a few duds in the supplementation department, but here are a few that I continue to use and love:

Turmeric

I started giving Rufus turmeric after his dental scare last year to help fight some of the inflammation. It’s helped a little in that department, but like I said, it’s an uphill battle. HOWEVER! Supplementing with turmeric has proven to help in a lot of other ways. Turmeric can aid in relieving arthritic pain as well as any gastrointestinal issues. Not to mention this little plant can be cancer-fighting as well! We juice semi-regularly in this household, so sometimes I have turmeric root on hand but mostly supplement both of our diets with turmeric powder I buy in bulk online. Like I said before, Rufus doesn’t seem to be having joint issues yet but he is a tad slower getting up after a long snooze, so I figure it can’t hurt.

Raw Feeding

Ru’s diet isn’t 100% raw, but we’re leaning more and more towards that way of living as he gets older. His food digests so well, his poops are tiny, and he absolutely loves it! Yep. This vegan feeds her dog a 50% raw food diet in the form of freeze dried mixes and frozen patties thanks to Honest Kitchen and Stella and Chewy’s. The Honest Kitchen isn’t so bad because it’s dry fish and a ton of veggies, but the patties kind of make me wanna barf. The things we do for our pets…

Coconut oil

Another supplement the whole family shares. Coconut oil is great for dogs (and humans) and helps keep their coats shiny, their guts happy, and their brains functioning healthily. Rufus goes crazy for coconut oil as well – he loves his fats! It’s also great on toast with some coconut sugar and cinnamon for us humans. Just FYI.

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Blurry but on the go!

Those are just a few of the supplements I give to Rufus to keep him happy and healthy. All of them are fairly affordable, especially since I only supplement with the raw food as of right now. I’m really happy with the results I’ve seen in the long term, so I thought it was worth sharing with all of you out there fighting the good fight. We can’t stop our pups from getting older, but we can certainly keep their quality of life from diminishing for as long as possible.

What supplements do you use for your dogs? Any tips on how to make a 100% raw diet more affordable? And maybe even less disgusting…ahem.

Help! I want a second dog but I don’t want to mess up.

(…just so this blog doesn’t get too wordy, I’ve thrown in some photos of Mr. Ru for good measure.)

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It’s true. I struggle with these conflicting feelings on a pretty consistent basis. The dog lover in me longs for a second companion, especially as I see Rufus grow older and slow down a little bit. We just moved to Colorado, so hiking is back in full swing. And while Rufus can still hike with the best of them, I know he’s going to require more TLC as the weather heats up. If I don’t have a dog to hike with, it’s a whole lot less exciting. The dog is like 80% of the fun!

But as soon as I get in full second dog mode, the doubts start creeping in.

What if she has separation anxiety or other behavioral issues? Even if we go through a foster-based rescue, those traits can sneak in very easily. I should know. I had many fosters with severe separation anxiety. And now that we live in a full-blown complex, the idea of a screeching pup stresses me the heck out! And let’s not even get into the idea of having another reactive dog to manage…

What if she’s too high energy? You know. The kind of dog who can’t settle. The pup who needs a job to do 24/7. I’m all for training and tricks and excitement, but we are a super chill family. Like…we need a pup who knows how to Netflix hard on Sundays just as much as they need to love the outdoors.

-What if Rufus feels betrayed? Ok, this isn’t a real fear. Despite his grumpy nature, Rufus is pretty easy to match up with the right dog. His type: mostly females (or submissive but confident males), a little feisty but not hyperactive, under 70 lbs, and not too fluffy. Yes that’s right. My dog hates super fluffy dogs. He’s the worst/best. So as much as I’d love to pick out our second dog, I know Rufus will get the last word.

-What if we don’t connect? I have had fosters that were perfectly fine pups but I never really connected with them. And while I didn’t hate my time with them, I was very happy to see them go to their forever homes. It turns out I’m just as picky as my dude, which is fine but also a little scary when going into finding a second dog.

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So…I guess what I’m realizing is that I should probably foster for a little while before diving into the “forever dog” territory just to see how it feels. I think that’s the best solution, right?

I would love to hear from those of you who have had similar struggles when adding a second (or third or fourth) dog into your home. What doubts did you have? How did you overcome detachment feelings if you had them? Am I just being an over-dramatic weirdo?  Seriously, guys. I want to hear it all!

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Help!

The Many Faces of Ru

Maybe this isn’t the most popular thing to say, but having a reactive dog often feels like a burden. With behavioral issues that even I don’t fully grasp sometimes and often seem like they come out of nowhere, Rufus is complex to say the least. Despite all of this , I love him with my whole heart.

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I think that those of us who have fallen hard for reactive dogs are drawn to the “virtual platform” of sharing because it’s our way of showcasing our complex pups in all of their glory. We get to share those moments of pure bliss when our dogs are 100% themselves. Nothing is making them tense. Nothing is making them unsure. They are just dogs. Wonderful, uncomplicated canines.

And sure – progress happens and there are even times when he just plain surprises me with his intuitiveness in certain situations, but I’m just being real about the bigger picture. Rufus is a tough cookie and he makes me reexamine our training techniques over and over again. For years now, guys! Years! Ugh…

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But then there are the moments when it’s just the two (or three) of us. And I remember why I adore this guy so much and why I’m so happy he came into my life. Screwball behavior and all.

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That one time we disappeared.

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Listen up.
Ok guys. This blog is not obsolete…not yet anyway.
Here’s the long and short of where we’ve been:
-Left Oregon on September 29th and traveled to Colorado. Stayed about 8 days with friends and in various Airbnb’s. Decided we absolutely wanted to move there.
-Traveled the rest of the way to Illinois to spend what we thought would be just a few weeks with friends and family.
-Life happened. Jobs fell through. Holidays kept coming! At one point, one of us (the dude) even started a job in the Chicago suburbs hoping that we could make it work. He hated it. We looked briefly at apartments in said ‘burbs and decided we just didn’t want this path for ourselves. Dude quits job.
-Plan B is set in motion.
-After lining up a few interviews, dude travels to Colorado by himself and lands a job. SCORE!
-Since we were on a pretty tight deadline, he had to making a very quick decision on an apartment. It’s not ideal by any means, but we can make it work for awhile. More on that later…
-We are officially Colorado residents! Hooray!
…and it only took us less than 5 months! Ugh.
So yeah. That’s where we’ve been. And while it was a really tough 5 months for me, I still wanted to blog and write and create. I really did…but we were kind of on borrowed wi-fi and it all became a pain in the butt. And yes, I was a little blue. It happens. All apologies, guys. I didn’t mean to abandon you.
So consider this a formal invitation to come back to the blog. Please come back! We’ve missed this little space.

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And Rufus is so thrilled to finally  be home. ❤ 

Dogs I’ve Loved | Saying Goodbye to the PNW

As our time is wrapping up in Oregon, I am a little bit heartbroken. I have said goodbye to most of my clients, but I still have a few more appointments this week before we head out.

:gulp:

I’m mostly excited about the adventures that lie ahead, but I sure will miss these sweet faces. Like…a lot.

My two lemons. They were a handful, but totally worth it. I mean..look at those wrinkles!

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The sweet, shy girl took awhile to warm up to me but we became the best of friends. Her brother is also a big softie. 😉

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The most fun duo! I couldn’t ask for a better pair of pups. Ugh…these two were some of my favorites ever.

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Oh, Cora. Rufus reluctantly let you into his life…and you were such a champ for putting up with his grumpy ‘tude!  Even though we all know he kind of liked you. Kind of.

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Ru’s favorite gal, Abby. This one is going to be the hardest of all. I can’t wait to cuddle this goof a few more times this week. My heart is gonna feel this one.

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I like to think of this time as a “See You Later” moment. It’s been a whole lot of fun! We will return, you beautiful coast. Oh yes we will. 

My Cautious Canine #2 | Training on-the-go

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A lot of people with reactive dogs feel as though they have limited options when it comes to traveling with their furry friends.

-No busy cities or tourist spots

-No public stays such as hotels

-No way am I taking my dog on “vacation” when time away from home with them is anything but relaxing.

But the one thing I’ve been pretty diligent about is making sure I include Rufus in as many activities as possible, which has included his fair share of trips and vacations.

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Over the weekend, we took Rufus out of town with us. I knew this would be a great opportunity to work on his reactivity. And with the right tools, it was pretty stress-free.

We stayed in a very pet-friendly hotel. And because they were so accommodating, we actually had a personal entrance so that we wouldn’t have to walk through the main lobby. However, we did run into other dog owners and I’m proud to report this dude did pretty well with all of our encounters.

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My two tools:

  1. Lots of treats
  2. Head halter/gentle leader

That’s it. It has been years since I’ve used the head collar on him and wow! I can’t believe how wonderfully it worked this time around. Having control at that level made it so easy to get his attention and gently correct him when he was getting too excited. It was kind of like magic. Honestly, I feel silly that I waited so long to try this again. It’s a total game changer! He was calm, relaxed, and willing to work the entire weekend.

And at the end of every day, he was pooped. He wasn’t sweatin’ it.

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I know I’m lucky that Rufus is incredibly motivated by food. He will LITERALLY do anything for a nibble. It makes life and training so much easier.

And while we still have a long way to go, I have to say that I couldn’t have asked for more from this amazing dude. I love traveling with him and he made our trip so much more memorable. After all, he is my best friend.

Good boy, Rufus.

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The Cautious Canine | A Revisit #1

There are a lot of reasons why we as dog owners/parents/caretakers sometimes allow ourselves to slack on training.

Sometimes life gets hard or hectic.

Sometime we get lazy.

Sometimes we work with other dogs all day and we forget we have a project pup at home…:cough: 

Sometimes it’s easier to avoid our dog’s obstacles and triggers than it is to keep it up with hard work and consistency.

For whatever reason, sometimes we mess up. And while that’s completely fine in some behavioral cases, it really isn’t for Rufus.

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I know he looks smug and confident, but he’s really a total wuss.

This dude thrives on repetition and positive association.

So after a few incidents in which I found myself avoiding situations or completely shocked by Ru’s reaction to a trigger, I decided to dust off the old “dog behavior” book pile and strap on the treat pouch. Time to get back to work.

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The Cautious Canine outlines the most straight-forward approach to correcting unwanted behaviors rooted in fear. And for the most part, Ru’s behavioral quirks (to put it nicely…) are all rooted in fear. It’s a subtle fear, but it’s definitely there…

Here are our baby steps:

  1. Keep him a safe distance from his triggers and reward him for being brave and calm in those situations. In this case, that means FEED HIM ALLLL THE TREATS!
  2. Be consistent.
  3. Slowly shorten the distance from said triggers while continuing to build up his confidence and reward him for his progress.
  4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

 

It doesn’t seem like much, but it works! I plan on making this a mini-series and keeping all of you out there up to date on Ru-man’s progress. I hope you like this kind of stuff as much as I do. Dog behavior nerds unite!

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Happy Healthy Dogs<3