Saturday, December 24, 2011

May all your Christmases be warm and furry!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours...

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Time and sanity saving tips for living with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Last year around this time I posted "Our Favourite must have's for a doggy Christmas". I had planned on doing something similar when I realized that my list hasn't changed all that much! Either I'm a creature of habit or my poor neglected dogs weren't spoiled enough this year. ;)

Instead of doing what would end up being a very similar list, I decided to share something different. A list of a few things that will make living with a royal spaniel easier during the Christmas holidays (and after).

Puzzle toys
Our challenge in life aka: Zoey, requires you always to be one step ahead of what she is thinking. As a younger dog she suffered from severe separation anxiety. We often joke that she is a border collie stuck in a cavalier's body. She is high energy, high anxiety, and high on fun every single day. Although her separation anxiety has improved with age certain situations are always sure to set her off. (like the preparation of getting ready and heading out for a Christmas party, out of routine, not normal)

A treat ball has been a magical solution to our problems. A few kibbles in the bottom and our wild woman Zoey becomes so busy with her treat ball she forgets to be anxious when we leave her.

Zoey and her treat ball
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Snoods

I am always surprised by the number of cavalier owners who do not own snoods. Ours are well worn with everyday use. Gunky ears with yesterdays left overs...ewww. A snood is a quick and easy way of keeping your cavaliers ears out of their dinner or anything yucky. A Google search brings up many wonderful places to buy a snood for your cavalier. Every cavalier owner should have a snood!

Princess Molly and her snood ready for a dog show
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Zoey modelling a snood we made for a handsome tri boy
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Tangles and spay/neuter coats
Like many cavaliers, since Zoey was spayed I have noticed changes in her coat.  She now mats and tangles very easily. Previously I would carefully bath and condition her coat, and save the brushing for after her bath was completed.  The end product was these horrible small mats all over her body coat.

Mats like these
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Our solution: Brush the conditioner into the body coat while they are still in the bath. It sounds too simple but it really works. She dries mat free with an incredibly soft coat because the conditioner has properly coated the hair. I've also been using this trick with Molly who is not spayed. We get smooth tangle free coats every time. Our Chris Christensen wooden pin brush works really well in the bath!

Brushing out the mats
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Smooth and tangle free
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Tidy paws
The cavalier breed standard calls for no trimming. One of the important exemptions to this rule is the bottom of their paws. Many owners are under the impression that they have to take their cavalier to the groomer to get their pads trimmed. With some training and care. grooming paws does not have to be a task for the groomer. You can save yourself lots of money and stress on your dog by doing it at home after a bath. All that is needed is blunted ended scissors and some treats.

Hairy toes, Zo's grow really fast
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Start by getting your cavalier desensitized to you handling their feet. Anytime they are near you and relaxed pick up their feet, hold them in your hands, play with their feathers, touch each nail, and in between their pads.

I find it easiest to trim the hair between their pads after their bath while they are still wet. Carefully lift up a foot and cut the hairs so that the pad of their foot is fully showing. Cut, treat, cut, treat, cut, treat. My guys are so used to this routine that I am able to do it on my own and finish with one treat at the end. You may have to start with having someone help you.

All done
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Dish soap
The world's best shampoo for cavalier ears! It can also be used as a safer alternative to flea shampoo. Dish soap is very drying so try to use it once a month or so for gorgeous de-greased ears. Cavalier ears get very greasy fast.  Nothing will make a Cavalier's ears softer and cleaner. Don't believe me? Try for yourself and see what you think. Cheap and almost always accessible!


Pretty ears
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Canine life muffins
Many of us have read about dog nutrition and know that dog kibble isn't always all its cracked up to be. Raw is intimidating for most owners including myself.  For me the worry of proper sanitation, perforated bowels and choking is too much for me to handle. Home cooked doggy meals provide a wonderful alternative but they can also be very time consuming to make, and have to be carefully balanced  

For us these muffins are the solution. They are very straight forward to make, use normal everyday ingredients, are easy to combine in large batches and freeze, and offer me peace of mind knowing that my dogs are getting a nutritious healthy meal full of fresh ingredients.

They mix and bake like a meatloaf
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There are a few different mixes such as this on the market so you should be able to find one at a higher end doggy store.

My girls love their muffins! A word of caution: They are dense and nutrient rich and cavaliers tend to gain weight quickly on them. Use in moderation and very small portions. 1/2 a muffin is *too* much muffin for a lazy small cavalier like Mylee. 1/3 is about right. (use in combination with a snood, trust me on this!)

Happy holidays to everyone. Hopefully you will find some of this post useful. Christmas card coming soon..

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Molly's MRI

This past week has been very stressful for me. I've had several late nights spent worrying about a special black and tan princess. Add a little red dog wanting to go out on middle of the night excursions and you have the recipe for a *very* over tired owner!

Princess Molly, home from MRI
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Molly recently turned 2.5 years old. For Cavalier breeders who choose to have MRI scans done on their dogs it is a milestone number. It represents the age in which an MRI scan should be completed prior to breeding. Most severe cases of SM show up prior to 2.5 years old.

Yesterday was that day for our girl.

Still a little woozy
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I would once again like to say thank you to Matheson Blvd. Veterinary Services for what they do for our Cavaliers in Ontario. Yesterday 11 breeding dogs were MRI'd at MBVS. Without Jane Sykes and her team's compassion and expertise, MRI's for Cavaliers in Ontario would not be affordable for breeders, nor performed as often as what they are. We are so fortunate to have them.

Molly sailed through her MRI with flying colours. This is always the biggest concern and risk for Cavalier breeders performing MRI's. The dogs must undergo a general anesthesia which is both invasive and does not come without risk.

You've starved me all day, can I have a cookie yet?
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Seriously? Not yet? What do you mean I'll throw up!
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Only a pink bandage is suitable for a princess
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Not only did she recover easily from her procedure she also had a beautiful clear scan.

I'm so happy and thrilled with this special girl. Thank you especially to her breeder Karen Murray (Mysticmoon Cavaliers) for sharing this healthy princess with us. I am excited for what the future will bring...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wetnoses

A few weeks ago I encountered a very nasty problem. I went to open one of our favourite types of treats and the entire bag was moldy. So disgusting!

Can you see the black/green mold?
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Wetnoses pride themselves on being organic and safe for pets. In fact on the front page of their website it states:

"We know that caring pet owners want to be absolutely sure that what their dogs are eating is safe as well as beneficial to their health."

Nasty mold was so far from that statement that I decided to contact them. I only half expected a reply, let alone a detailed response. Much to my delight and surprise they not only responded, they were wonderful! :)

The representative let us know that they had a problem with a leaky skylight and only a few boxes of their cookies were impacted. They gave me the offer of replacing my box which I kindly accepted. No company is perfect but the ones who truly care about their customers and pets are worth buying from again.

Without a quick email and a response on their behalf, chances were very low that I would have bought Wetnoses cookies again. Now its the opposite.. I'm here posting a great review for them and will definitely buy some more boxes in the future.

Our box arrived more than a few days ago.

Wetnoses
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Inside was our replacement box of Pumpkin Cookies
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Wetnoses was very kind to include a water bottle and a coupon! Someone has already been into my water bottle... and it wasn't me.
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The coupon we hope to use soon.
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Thank you to Wetnoses for standing by your product. There are so many companies who don't and choose to ignore customers like me. (worst PR move you can make) My dogs really do love your cookies.

Unfortunately none of them were in the mood to be photographed tonight. I think that means i've been playing too much with my new camera and using them as props. Pure abuse around here.

Only this beautiful boy wasn't fooled by my lens.. but only for a few.

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Even the normally very photogenic red dog wasn't interested in a photo op tonight. Who needs words when you can make faces of disgust like this?

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winter Woofstock 2011 - take 2

Last year I wrote an absolutely scathing review of Winter Woofstock at Toronto's Direct Energy Centre. I am the last person that thought I would find myself in attendance for this years event.

The poopy purple carpets, severe over crowding of people and dogs, and the complete utter chaos was not a scene that I was ready to repeat again so soon.

The Wednesday night before this years event I got a phone call from a good friend. "Are you interested in going to Woofstock?" Ugh, how should I answer? I absolutely love dog events, and dog events that are purely shopping for your dogs? Amazing. That being said I was very reluctant and the best answer I could give was maybe.....

2 nights later, on the Friday before Woofstock weekend, I receive another phone call from a another very good friend. "I want to go to Woofstock and you are coming with me."

So my decision was made. I attended Winter Woofstock last weekend with two very good friends of mine.

Winter Woofstock 2011, take 2
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I am happy to say we had a complete blast and spent over 6 hours at the indoor event.

We did a lot of shopping. We did a lot of talking. We paid hugely inflated prices for drinks and something small to eat. We did more shopping. We enjoyed ourselves.

Kudos to Winter Woofstock for addressing the severe challenges of last years event. Also kudos for responding to my concerns on Twitter. You definitely earned my praises this year. Much better facility choice (same facility different rooms), wider aisles, no carpet, and a potty park for those who brought their dogs. Very welcomed and huge improvements.

Winter Woofstock potty park
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We were smarter this year. All of our cavaliers were left home. Yes even my little red dog stayed at home.

There were a few cavaliers in attendance but not very many. We did get to meet sweet Daisy and her beautiful sweaters from Dogs and Daisies

She was having a snooze when we got there but was excited to come out and greet us in typical cavalier fashion. Your sweaters are gorgeous Daisy!

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My good friend Rebecca from Pet Empire was also there. For any type of grooming equipment her products are the best of the best. (Spectrum 10 shampoo & conditioner, buttercomb's and wooden pin brushes, need I say more?)

She had her sweet Havanese girl with her. Don't tell my girls but Havanese are on my short list of breeds that I'd love to own.

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Shopping, shopping, shopping...was the word of the day.

Cookies for people or dogs? Dogs!
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In case you didn't know what the small bags were for...
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We almost came home with this and the matching jackets
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I really didn't end up spending too much money. I got a few bags of cookies, 2 larrrrge bully sticks, and a joint supplement that I am excited about. Wellytails - Their products look wonderful, I'm looking forward to trying them out.

My friends didn't fare as well with their wallets. :)

Now to start saving for the summer...







Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clarification

Its been pointed out to me that a comment in my last post regarding MVD has offended some readers.

I would like to clarify this comment:

Fortunately for our Cavaliers veterinary medicine has come a long way in regards to diagnosis and treatment. Many cavaliers with MVD can live comfortably for several years with careful treatment, management and monitoring.

The comment above should be taken simply as it is stated. Cavaliers when first diagnosed with MVD can and do live longer with the intervention of veterinary medicine and conscientious
owners.

I in no way discredit the severity of MVD in our breed or the great impact it has on owners and breeders who deal with it. It is a horrible disease, and it is not ok that progress hasn't been made to improve quality of life and longevity in our breed.

However, I would not take the time to write this blog if I did not care about education and supporting breeders who are doing everything they can to improve and save this breed. There isn't many, but there are a few.. and they deserve every ounce of support I can muster because they certainly do not get much when being lumped into the general category of "breeder".

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beating the odds - Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Disase or MVD is the leading cause of death in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Almost all of our beloved dogs will eventually be afflicted with MVD. Over half will have MVD before they are five years old.

It is our duty as their guardians to become as educated as we can regarding MVD. Read and research all you can, have conversations with other cavalier owners and most importantly have a conversation with your breeder about the heart history and testing behind your cavalier.

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LinkResponsible breeders have been working diligently trying to delay the onset and severity of Mitral Valve Disease. The health conscious will know their lines inside and out. They will be able to show you heart clearances on their dogs. Cavaliers should not be bred from before they are 2.5 years of age or if their parents were diagnosed with MVD before five years of age.

Fortunately for our Cavaliers veterinary medicine has come a long way in regards to diagnosis and treatment. Many cavaliers with MVD can live comfortably for several years with careful treatment, management and monitoring.

Early detection and intervention are extremely important.

Sadie's grandfather having his heart listened to
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Make sure that you have your vet listen to your dogs heart at every appointment. When they reach their fourth or fifth birthday it is my personal recommendation to start taking them annually for an auscultation by a board certified cardiologist.

One of the best ways to do this is to attend a sponsored clinic through your local breed or regional clubs. Your breeder should be able to direct you to where you can go to get a proper auscultation.

Mylee helping perform an echocardiogram
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This past weekend the Cavalier Fanciers of Southern Ontario hosted their annual heart and eye clinic. Three of my four had auscultations completed. Molly for breeding purposes, Zo(5) and Mylee(4) for peace of mind. Sadie missed out this time as she is still a puppy. Thankfully all were clear.

The one I really want to celebrate though is Zoey.

I am thrilled to share that at five years of age Zoey is in the 50% of Cavaliers that are still heart clear. Her mother has been heart clear up until this past year and her father has stayed clear as well, so I am hoping she takes after her parents.

My beautiful heart clear girl
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All that frisbee helps keep Zo muscular and fit
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Zo ALWAYS has to have her tongue out for the camera
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There have been some other major over 5 milestones to celebrate in my cavaliers history.

Sadie's father (8), grandfather (6) great grandfather (9), and great grandmother (9) are all still heart clear. Molly's mother (6), father (6), and grandfather(9) are all are still heart clear as well. *That* is what heart health should look like.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Birthday to Someone Special

Happy Birthday!
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Party?
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Stupid hat
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With love,
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(and Sadie)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What should we be for Halloween?

Zoey here,

I wanted to tell you about all about one of my favourite celebrations.....

Halloween!

I love it because we get to dress up in crazy costumes and there are tons of wonderful visitors to our house. I just love saying hi to everyone at the door. We get lots of smiles and compliments. I love making people smile.

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Before we lived here we lived in a wonderful city. We had so many doggie friends there and we did so many doggie things. Just look at some of the fun we have had on Halloween.

Can you believe that I wasn't even a year old in this picture? I'm going to be 5 in November!

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One time we hosted our own Halloween party. Charlie disguised himself as Batman. Hes so handsome.

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Our friend Crystal came as a cop but ended up drinking sooo much Pomtini she passed out!

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Mylee dressed up like a lady bug. She was so little and red that no one could tell she really was a dog and not a bug!

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Someone had the horrible idea that I should be a PINK bunny.....as if. Luckily I'm a good sport who just loves Halloween and played along. I didn't even mind my furry feet and bunny tail.

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We even got to go to a Halloween party at Petsmart.

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I'm so glad my Mom has gotten much better at taking pictures.

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This is me and my good friend Bella. Bella taught me how to sniff out all the best stuff. I spent so much time with Bella that if you asked me I would have told you that I was a beagle and not a cavalier.

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I have no idea what to dress up as this year. Just please no more pink bunny.

I really miss my friends in London and our Halloween adventures. I think my Mom should investigate taking us to a Petsmart Halloween party, we haven't been to one in forever!

What are you dressing up for Halloween this year as?