Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charlie Hikes With A Friend

Yes, you heard that right! Charlie has a friend. For reals.

Charlie and Ellie at Grandfather Falls Segment

Charlie has been fear-aggressive toward other dogs for a couple of years now. We've worked with a trainer occasionally to help her resolve these issues and the trainer had recommended that I find one or two other dogs in my neighborhood that we could continue "practicing" with.

Unfortunately I had not found any good prospects, until a month ago, when I saw my neighbor walking her 2 dogs and decided to talk to her as she passed my front porch.

I explained the situation with Charlie and asked if she'd be willing to help me out. She said yes!

So we started out slowly and introduced them properly. They got used to each other on neutral territory with lots of positive reinforcement (treats and praise). Sara and I were both cautious and a little nervous at times, but eventually the dogs got used to each other and even began looking forward to their nightly walks together.

It was such an amazing feeling that I seriously wanted to *cheer* out loud.

So today was the next step in their "friendship"... riding in a car together to go hiking.

I buckled Charlie into her harness in the front seat and Sara sat in the backseat with Ellie also buckled in. There was a moment of growling at first, and then they both just sat in their seats and relaxed.

Again - amazing!

The hike went just as well. Charlie and Ellie walked side by side with no tension or aggressiveness from Charlie and they even drank out of the same water bowl with no issues (where a month ago, Charlie growled and snapped at Ellie for drinking out of "her" travel bowl).

Hopefully Sara and I will recruit other neighborhood dogs into our evening walks and perhaps even start a hiking meet-up for other dog-lovers and continue to expand Charlie's social network.

You have no idea how happy this makes me!!! Also, it's super-awesome to have someone *help* me pose the dogs for blog pictures... this is way harder than it looks! (Thanks Sara)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

At Home In The Wilderness

We've been doing a bunch of "city walks" during the week lately, working on socializing Charlie with my neighbor's dogs to help her with her fear-aggressive tendencies. It's been working great! Charlie's making friends and enjoying her walks.


She's also developed a lot of noise phobia over the past year and sometimes she'll hear something that just sets her off. All of a sudden her ears are pinned to her head, her belly lowers to the ground and she practically digs into the pavement trying to get home and "duck for cover."

This panic causes her to breathe so heavily she sounds like she's almost hyperventilating. I typically give her a dose of Rescue Remedy and walk home as calmly and slowly as I possibly can (so I don't give her the impression that I'm scared too).

Anyway, she's had these "panic attacks" for the past 3 days, so today I opted to drive 20 minutes to the Dells of the Eau Claire Park so we could hike in the peaceful quiet of a wilderness forest and hopefully get some quality hiking on a weeknight!

It worked.

Charlie was SO happy! Her ears were up and alert, her tail was wagging and her body language was completely relaxed.

Charlie is most at home in the wilderness. And so am I.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hiding Under The Bed

Charlie is not happy about all this rainy, chilly weather. It's the kind of day to just stay in bed and snuggle. Or in Charlie's case... hiding under the bed.

I'm with you, girl.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Merrick Backcountry Product Review

*This post is brought to you in partnership with Merrick. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Last month, when I returned from my Seattle trip, there was an email waiting for me from Merrick Pet Foods asking if I wanted to partner with them on their campaign to promote their new Backcountry Raw Infused dog food.

After doing some quick research, and finding the food comparable to the other high-quality kibbles I occasionally feed Charlie, I agreed!

As most of you know, Charlie is a "mostly" raw-fed dog but there are times - especially when we are backpacking or camping - when bringing along her homemade raw food is not possible.

And let's face it, feeding 100% raw homemade food 100% of the time is HARD. 

I look at it like this:  there are wonderful "Soccer Mom's" out there that do their very best to feed their kids organic, home-prepared food and limit all the soda, candy and artificially-flavored-and-colored foods from their diets. BUT. There are also going to be times when you're running late and the kids are hungry and you pull into a fast-food restaurant. 

I get it. I'm a dedicated Dog Mom and I take educating myself on diet options very seriously.

Kibble is the ultimate "convenience" food for dogs, but there are ways you can make sure that you're giving them a high-quality food.

First, this is a high-protein, grain-free food with no artificial colors or preservatives, all of which are very important to me.

Second, I was happy to see that Merrick's Backcountry dog food was listed under the 5-star category of dry dog foods on Dog Food Advisor. I feel good about choosing this dry dog food for Charlie - and even more so because it has the chunks of freeze-dried raw meat in it - Charlie LOVES those!

When our Welcome Kit arrived with the Great Plains Red Recipe (containing beef, lamb and rabbit), along with some varieties of grain-free canned foods, Charlie would not leave the box alone! She had her nose in it before I could even get it open.

Charlie "wolfed" down her first bowl of Backcountry Raw Infused dog food so quickly that I barely had time to snap some photos of her eating it! Apparently she approves.

Satisfied customer! So content.

Our second taste-test took place in the backyard during a barbecue cookout (for the humans). Charlie wasn't even distracted by the aromas wafting from the grill... she wanted her Backcountry!

"Mom, can I have more?"

I don't feed Charlie canned food very often, so it's a really special treat when she gets it! The next evening, I opened the can of Alpine Rabbit Stew and let Charlie have dinner "al fresco" on the front porch... a VERY special treat!

Charlie absolutely loves veggies - especially peas! I was pleasantly surprised to see a good amount of peas and carrots in the food and knew Charlie would be delighted.

And I was right. Look at that tongue mopping up juices!

During one of our food tests, I opened a can of Hearty Chicken Thigh Stew recipe and discovered a bone in the food! I was pretty alarmed since it looked like it could have been a choking hazard, but after contacting the helpful people at Merrick, they informed me that the bones are in certain flavors of their canned foods on purpose!

Here's the statement from the can:  "Our slow cooked, whole chicken thighs/wings are marinated tender chicken cooked on a soft bone. This special cooking process makes the bone mushy and safe for your dog to enjoy. Feel free to serve whole, remove, or break apart the soft chicken bones for ease of pet consumption."

Charlie and I will soon be off on our Merrick-sponsored backcountry adventure. We'll be hiking a couple of segments of the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin while camping, so having the Backcountry Raw Infused kibble along will keep Charlie happily fed during our adventure!

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Join the conversation about Merrick Backcountry by using hashtag #Wild4Backcountry and visit Merrick's website for coupons and more information:  Merrick Backcountry Website

*Disclaimer: I received compensation for writing this review; although this post is sponsored, all opinions and thoughts are my own and I would never recommend something I didn't believe in. Pinky swear.