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Featuring dog related businesses - discussing dog related subjects.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lena Pavia

Found a great shop on Etsy for those of you who enjoy dog couture. Lena Pavia on ETSY is based out of LA and has some of the best models to show off incredible millinery.

From Wikipedia: 

....Millinery refers to hats and other clothing sold by a hatter (a maker of hats) or to the profession or business of designing, making, or selling hats, dresses, and hat trim. It can also be used to refer to a type of store that sells those goods....
Why limit hatting to the human species? I am all for accessorizing Phideaux and those naughty kitties! Clearly, there is a niche market for it as per the shop profile on Etsy.

"Aside from the pieces you see here, I also have my own clothing line called L Pavia. It has grown rapidly in the last 3 years and has sold to over 200 stores. I thank you again for visiting my page and if you would like to see more of my work visit my website at"

 Well worth the look!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You are a Bullmastiff - not a Dalmatian

Having a few dogs here and there plus a degree in Exercise Physiology, there is no escaping fitness in this house. I even make my cats exercise. I am serious. Otherwise they would be fluffy and lethargic. Though at 3AM,  I wish they were not so energetic.

So I make it a habit to run with the dogs on a regular basis. Being that Dalmatians are a breed built for running, they really seem to enjoy this. The Bullmastiff - not so much. She usually ambles along at her own pace, declaring WOE IS ME status in falling out on the ground. We never refer to her as fat. She is festively plump. Year round. And I do mean ROUND. Last weight was 101lbs. That is a small Bullmastiff. 

The irony of having a resident Bullmastiff is that they are not Dalmatians. They wish they were. In fact, if she sees a Dalmatian that is not in her pack, she immediately perks up and throws herself at them in glee. Those Dalmatians react in horror as she does kind of resemble a gargoyle. 

This girl has so fallen in love with the idea of being a "Dal" that she went as far as to develop Dalmatian related health issue. Crystals in her pee.

Last week she had blood in her urine. A trip to the vet and $300 buckaroos later - it was determined she had struvite (infectious) crystals which were causing her to bleed.

Dalmatians process purines from protein uniquely different from other breed.  From the Dalmatian Club of America:

"...The stones found in Dalmatians are often "purine" or "urate" stones.Urate stones are composed of one or several of three types of purines: 1) ammonium acid urate, 2) uric acid or 3) sodium urate. Over 90 percent of stone-forming Dalmatians produce ammonium acid urate..."

If you know of a dog you know is having urinary issues related to stones, you can visit Specialist Veterinarians for Consultation on Stone-Forming

Scroll to the bottom of the page and a listing will appear. Best of luck with your dogs and remember that the treatment for urinary issue treatment is dependent on the type of crystals and stones. Assaying the urine is the key in determining the type and the course of treatment.

So back to the Bullmastiff. She had what is referred to as struvite (infectious) related crystals. She is on antibiotics and recovering just fine. She still wishes she were a Dalmatian. I suppose we can paint her, but the curves would giver her away!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rendering Plants: Pet Food's Dirty lil Secret

Rendering. What is it?

According to Merriam Webster, the transitive verb means:
a : to melt down ; also : to extract by melting b : to treat so as to convert into industrial fats and oils or fertilizer.

Brief History:
The rendering process began centuries ago for the purpose of soap and candle making. This took place using a kettle over an open fire. As technology advanced, new methods were employed and different rendering expanded to other products. Namely beef.

Steam boilers replaced kettles and introduced steam into the process to produce better grade products. This also cut down the risk of fire using the older method. In the 19th century, steam "digesters" injected steam into the product being rendered, both edible and non edible. The fat was drained off, the remaining water entered another vat and solids were dry pressed  and steamed into product. Remaining water sent to sewer or evaporated or compressed into a glue protein which was added to fertilizer.

Enter beef. Rendering advanced Chicago meat processing through by employing the use of this economical byproduct run off in a solution that would have otherwise overloaded the environment. Big beef packing companies contracted out to rendering plants at first,  but then created in house processing to cut costs.

In the 20th century, wet steam rendering was replaced with dry processing resulting in less obnoxious odors and far more economical.
More than likely the word TALLOW rings a familiar bell. As pertains to rendering, from Wikipedia the following explanation is offered:

"Tallow, derived from beef waste, is an important raw material in the steel rolling industry providing the required lubrication when compressing steel sheets. The meat and the bones (which are in a dry, ground state) are converted to what is known as meat and bone meal. For many years meat and bone meal were fed to cattle. This practice is now prohibited in developed countries because it is believed to be the main route for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad-cow disease, BSE), which is also fatal to human beings. Meat and bone meal from cattle is, however, fed to non-ruminant animals and meat and bone meal from non-ruminant animals is fed to cattle in the United States. This may not prove to be a solution to the problem due to the resistant nature of the infectious agent of BSE, a misfolded protein called prion, therefore, even if cattle is fed to non-ruminant animals and vice-versa, it will not prevent BSE from occurring. The underlying cause is that the prion survives within the system of the animal that has been fed with meat and bone meal from different animals including cattle. These animals are then eventually rendered and fed to cattle, which also results in the development of the disease."

So why am I blogging about this? Because if you own and feed an animal commercial dry dog food that is made by unsavory rendering plants, you should know the truth behind what is in this food source. Look at labels. Do you see these ingredients?
  • Poultry by-product meal
  • Meat by-product meal
  • Fish meal
  • Animal fat
These are from rendering plants. What are these ingredients comprised of? This is where is gets ugly. Rendering converts waste into animal feed. The kind of waste to which I refer may include:

  • Slaughterhouse waste (organs, heads, hooves, beaks, feet)
  • Bread and cereal rejects (cobs, stalks, mill sweepings)
  • Contaminated grain middlings
  • Dying, diseased and disabled farm animals
  • Road kill (deer, skunks, and raccoons)
  • Distiller fermentation waste
  • Spoiled supermarket food with packaging thrown in
  • Dead zoo animals
  • Restaurant grease
  • Euthanized cats and dogs (with flea colors still attached)
While unfit for human consumption, it is legal for making pet food.

The (past) President of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the folks who, along with the Pet Food Institue, decide what goes into pet food is shown here in an interview. Listen to the very last KEY WORD he uses. It will sicken most people:

Wonder why pets develop health issues when fed lesser quality pet food? Look to pet food companies that utilize rendering facilities. In an article called "The Dirtiest Secrets of the Dog Food Ingredients Industry" the atrocities of our pets deaths can land them in rendering facilities for pet food consumption:

"Dead Dogs Are Included In Dog Food Ingredients
When dogs don't get adopted at dog shelters, they usually get euthanized. It is very expensive to bury these euthanized dogs so they often get picked up by rendering companies and used to make dog food and other animal feed. They get "rendered" by throwing them into huge vats along with other ingredients at very high temperatures and then chopped up and melted down into one big conglomerate rendered soup. So, dead dogs get "recycled" back into dog food. The term "recycled" is an industry term. When you feed your dog commercial dog food, you may very well be feeding dog to your dog, although "dog" or "canine" will never be listed specifically in the ingredients. At one point, the city of Los Angeles alone was sending 400,000 pounds of euthanized dogs and cats to rendering factories. The $2.4 billion dollar per year rendering business doesn't mention these figures anywhere on their websites that tout "recycling" and the multi-billion dollar pet food industry (more than $13 billion per year in the United States alone) keeps this a hush hush secret.
When treasured family pets get terminally ill and the family decides to euthanize them or when pet dogs die on the operating table, the bereft family often leaves the dead dog with the vet. However, most of these dogs do not get buried or honored in any special way. Just like the fate of the unwanted shelter dogs, euthanized pet dogs at the vet's office often get sent to rendering plants to be turned into dog food. That's right... beloved family pets get turned into dog food. Never leave your pet dog at the vet's office no matter what.
Believe it or not, it gets even worse. The barbiturate that is used to euthanize dogs (and other animals included in dog food such as zoo animals), sodium pentobarbital, does not fully break down in the rendering process. In other words, high temperature does not break down sodium pentobarbital. So, when you feed your dog, there is a very high likelihood it is laced with a residue of the chemical used to euthanize dogs!
If the dead dogs included in dog food had cancerous tumors or contagious diseases, it doesn't matter. They are still sent to the rendering factory. If the dead dogs had been treated with powerful antibiotics and other strong medications, these are included in the vat at the rendering plant. If the dog was wearing a chain around its neck, had surgical pins containing heavy metals inserted, had a flea collar on, it doesn't matter. Nothing is removed. It is all just dumped in with the rest, mechanically chopped up, heated to very high temperatures, and turned into dog food and other products like cosmetics. If the dog died of mad cow disease, the dog would still be picked up by the rendering plants because vets don't even call it mad cow disease. Instead, they euphemistically call it "Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)." The FDA is in complete denial on this subject...."

 If this information does not provide a need to take control of your pet's final disposition as well as feeding choices, take a look at this article "A Look Inside A Rendering Plant"

..."Rendering has been called "the silent industry". Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12.5 million tons of dead animals, fat and meat wastes. As the public relations watchdog newsletter PR Watch observes, renderers "are thankful that most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence"."

It is this kind of practice that has brought about holistic and human grade ingredient pet food that IS fit for your pet's consumption. Holistic refers to natural grade human grade ingredients that are fit for consumption. Fillers and by products not included.

Holistic pet food is very expensive which has led people to either make their own dog food or seek out RAW or BARF (Bones And Raw Foods) to replace the shameful rendering related pet foods on the market. You can find out more on BARF by visiting BARFWORLD

As always - keep in mind I am not a veterinarian or specialist on the topic. Consult your veterinarian regarding the proper way to feed your pet and ask more about their opinion o the BARF and homemade recipes for dogs. Some vets are not in favor of the BARF program while others believe in it wholeheartedly as does my vet.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Explanation

AKC Champion Delta
Growing up as a kid, we had show horses. The memories of stumbling around in the dark in the early morning on the day of the event. My appaloosa always greeted me with a swift hoof stomp against the stall door. On show mornings, I was less than thrilled to be up and feeding large farm animals and preferred to be in front of the TV watching cartoons while eating sugary cereal.

Fast forward 30 or so years. The smell of fresh cut hay in the countryside can trigger the body memory of my youth. Smells of leather, horse sweat, muddy boots and fresh bags of pine bedding. Almost like it is ingrained within my being.
ShadyOak Bullmastiff Pup
 When I was age 7, my sister was working as a vet tech. She managed to bring home several creatures over the years. Mom and dad were less than thrilled but never said NO to her. What later became known as "rescue" in animal keeper terms was not yet an acronym. Nonetheless, our first encounter with a life long breed started with a Bullmastiff. Then another. And so on.
I still remember when crating dogs for the safety of their well being and that of your accumulated home furnishings had not been a training tool. Unfortunately, I recall my sister living in her first apartment and the two Bullmastiff rescues reducing her to tears after a long day at her new job. It was not the plants they dragged throughout the house - but the ripped up couch and other assorted items. Here she had given them a second chance and felt they had rewarded her with a complete doggy mess.As my mother always said, "This too shall pass." What Mom did not realize is that dogs were to play a bigger part of all of our lives than anyone could have predicted.

Part of showing horses involved conditioning. Trail rides through the Connecticut countryside broke up the monotony of ring work. Back in the day, living on an old reservation, dogs and leashes were not standard fare. As it were,our Bullmastiffs (we had a gaggle at this point) would accompany us on those rides. "Echo" had an affinity for hocking too closely. There were those idiot occasions where she would delight in going for the rear hoof. And the horse would let her know this was unacceptable. She ended up with a split tongue and it was then I decided one day I would have a dog that could coach alongside a horse. Until that day, we were sharing our lives with a variety of dogs, most being Bullmastiffs.

AKC Champion Fresco

They sure did make and impression on the circular driveway atop the flagstone stairs to the front door. My father learned to respect the effect it had on new suitors for his many daughters. Historically, the Bullmastiff was bred to stealthily accost poachers and knock them to ground while standing on their chest. They would alert the king with their unique deep bark. The king would arrive and kill the poacher. While many Bullmastiffs seen today tend to be fawn colored, the best poaching dog for evening nightwatch was brindle. Needless to say, Dad relied on these silent beasts to look out for his kids. For not only did we have a gaggle of dogs. There were a gaggle of children on his watch.

Over the years my sister became immersed in the sport of dog showing and as a vet tech, she learned much about diagnostic testing and applied them to the show dogs we had. Today's medical advances far exceed those of early breeding programs, and to watch technology advance in this area over the decades has been interesting to say the least.  By default, the rest of the family became experienced in the husbandry and upkeep of show dogs. This included long nights whelping brachycephalic puppies and managing uterine inertia as a result of some of these difficult deliveries. I recall all of us rubbing down failing newborns with towels to stimulate their first breath. Nowadays a simple depression of the accupressure point between the nostrils does the trick! Puppy pediatrics and Dam obstetrics became part of our lexicon as was the importance of health screening and spay/neuter of those placed in pet homes.

Dalmatian Smile from AKC Champion Piegan
The show ring and horses continued to become ingrained in my life. Horses were my first love and racing through the trails and over jumps were part of the wonderful world of long, hot Indian summers shared with our animal friends. My brother and I caught snakes in the reservation swamps and we studied them in mason jars in the shed. We always knew when Mom found them, as punctuated by her terrified screams.

My best friend outside of the usual neighborhood suspects, was a Bullmastiff named Sheba. Sheba was a pitiful rescue with extra nipples that looked like dried up raisins.  She accompanied me through my excursions into the wilderness as I investigated buglife, frog eggs and wild bunnies. She did not always want to go with me and sometimes took off for home when I was bent down picking up some interesting critter. One Christmas, Sheba was presented with a fruitcake we baked. Even she wouldn't eat it, proving that fruitcakes should go into extinction. We learned dogs will eat horse shit and cat crap, but evil fruitcake was taboo. Even to a Bullmastiff.

My love for the horse and dog sent me on a search for a canine companion that would be able to travel long distance and serve as a loyal protector. I found that in the Dalmatian. It was a natural progression.I was fortunate enough to have bought my first Dalmatian show dog from a reputable breeder who helped me network with other show people in the breed. It is one thing to know Bullmastiff show people, but each breed has it's own constituents. We have jokes about owners of different breeds and how their personalities reflect their dogs.

Fendi & Halen
Each specialty club  is a microcosm of the  specific breed and different focus. I also joined an all breed club and held many offices including public education, board member and chaired many events. In essence, I was immersing myself in the world of dogs on every level. As a competitor, a reputable breeder, rescue and educator. I stayed on top of current health research as distributed by our national breed clubs and even contributed to their National publications as well as being interviewed by local newspapers on responsible dog ownership. As a resource for purebred dog owners and even mixed breeds, every recognized AKC breed has a National parent club. For example, in Bullmastiffs, it is the American Bullmastiff Association. For Dalmatians it is the Dalmatian Club of America. Most of these "parent" national clubs fall under the sanctions of the American Kennel Club and can be found on the AKC site listing.

Newborn Halen - no spots yet
Regional breed clubs are breed-specific and local to most states. You do not have to show your dogs to be a member. There are many activities, seminars and mentorship programs within these clubs to educate people on breed specific issues. They also help with rescue and often chair transport and funding events. Participation is always encouraged and embraced within these clubs. Thanks to falling under the National Parent club, regional specialty clubs are privy to ongoing research handed down to them. This helps breeders stay on top of and utilize cutting edge diagnostic screening tools. National clubs help serve as a clearing house database for regional specialty clubs and not many people know these clubs are near them and want your participation.

A great aspect to joining a club is the camaraderie. We travel together to shows, help trouble shoot health or training aspects, dog sit for one another and socialize outside of the "dog world". If you show around the country you get to know others across state lines and network. This is helpful in transporting rescues or the like. Most will open their homes to you if you happen to be passing through town.

A large part of canine health comes back to the basics long before diagnostics came into technological play. By this, I mean diet. There are breeds who have a genetic predisposition to certain problems such as allergies, dermatological issues such as alopecia and staph infections, overall vitality, energy and joint health. Diet is the cornerstone for which health is affected. In my years of ongoing studying of the Dalmatian breed, urinary problems are linked to diet. A breed with a propensity of urinary, kidney, bladder problems can often be linked to diet. For example, Dalmatians should not be fed a diet of high-purine yielding proteins such as beef and organ meat. To do so increases the potential for urinary problems which can quickly grow into lifelong health problems that further restrict their diet and necessitate ongoing medical monitoring.

AKC Champion Jenna
Diet also plays a part when we show and train dogs. In the Dalmatian I was concerned at the lack of common sense when owners would bait these guys with beef hotdogs and liver. When on the show and competition circuit, repeated bathing and disruption of the normal dermal flora coupled with high purine yielding bait would express in the following ways: urinary infection that can lead to urate crystals of struvite or oxalate nature. Some of these crystals can grow into stones. In a male Dalmatian - this can result in immediate need to have an emergency backflsuh procedure or worse, surgery whereupon the dog no longer urinates out of his penis. He will need a urethrostomy stoma which he will urinate the rest of his life. He will then need to be on a prescription diet for life. Lack of a hydrated and routinely prevented from voiding urine will cause crystals to dam up the OS penis causing pain, infection and the need for emergency vet care at a high cost.

Years ago the Dalmatian DIET was suggested to help keep the urinary tract hydrated and provide a non offensive low purine yielding source of protein (chicken, eggs). This diet was cooked at home and really was the basis of a holistic and human grade ingredient food that resulted in far healthier dogs. Adding in yogurt, eggs, rice, oatmeal and a variety of deep leafy green vegetation provided optimum nutrition which was expressed in the coat. Soft, low shed, healthy fur and undamaged skin. Allergies caused by most commercial dog foods were eliminated in most dogs on this diet. The results were staggering and impressive. I put my bullmastiffs on this same diet and noticed the benefits of high quality protein in a food I was able to control and know it was top notch.

I was still plagued by the nonsense of throwing all this solid knowledge out the window in watching my peers baiting with crappy dog treats and hot dogs. Most of their dogs came home with intestinal fecal tsunamis and in some cases, blood in the stool from irritation of diarrhea. So they were put on Flagyl and the added probiotics and special digesters to correct the avoidable nonsense they put their dogs through. My answer to this was to take the Dalmatian diet principles and apply them to dog treat or bait snacks. Over the years people have bought and borrowed this bait from me for training and showing in the ring. Their dogs responded as well if not better than they did to salt laden beef jerky. No more crappy coats or compromised intestines.

Halen @5 wks
Working with my holistic vet who also specializes in accupressure and massage therapy, I developed a diary of what worked and that which did not. I was encouraged to continue in my efforts and I have finally set up a shop on Etsy whereby I sell these treats to owners who appreciate holistic gourmet with a common sense approach.

The name of my shop is ROCKSTAR DOG TREATS. I just happen to be a lead vocalist in a band and feel every one of my furkids should be treated like they are in the spotlight. No pun!