Freedom 55 -- Eight Legs Under the Table
...but they are easier to haul out of the water.
Fur-babies come with similar challenges to human ones. . .
The two Manchester Terriers the we live with now have replaced our sons in many respects. Certainly there are a few unique benefits to having dogs around the house instead of kids. For one thing, the food bill is much less for two small dogs than it was when feeding three or more teenage boys at one sitting. The dogs are much happier eating any leftovers than the kids were, plus they’re particularly fond of liver, something that the human kids never seemed to get an appreciation for.
Like human kids, our fur kids have grown up with a complete set of individual challenges. Our first-whelped, Packet, came into our house as an eight-week-old puppy. He was the runt of the litter and while he attained full size, he has long been described as “beautiful but brain dead”. His litter-mate, Jericho, came to us as a rescue from a home where the family unit was verging on collapse. The turmoil and stress from that household made him into our very own ‘problem child’ since he didn’t play well with either other people or other dogs.
If you think your child's allergies were tough to fix, just wait til your dog develops them!
Another thing that our dogs have in common with our children in that they have human like allergies. Some years back, while selling at local Farmers' Market I decided to make up some ‘gourmet’ dog treats and see how they did. The treats did well, Packet and Jericho were enthusiastic taste-testers and never turned down a chance for samples. Whenever I was making the best-selling meatballs, Jericho was always found wedged between my legs and the cupboard with nose upturned, waiting for those teeny bits that mysteriously found their way from the counter top into his mouth.
One day friends asked us if Jericho had a sunburn on his back. Closer inspection showed that his back had actually been chewed raw. The sunburn appearance came from the bare spots that were inflamed and bleeding. He had developed a nasty hot spot and proceeded to chew it until it bled. Since nothing had changed in his diet we were initially at a loss to explain why he had developed such a spot on his back while his perky puppy companion – litter-mate Packet – was completely fine. Both were eating exactly the same diet, Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF if you’re into acronyms) yet one had a hot spot and the other did not. More thinking produced an explanation, Jericho was allergic or at least very sensitive to some of the ingredients in the dog treats I was making.
Healthy Dogs are Happy Dogs
Back to a black Manchester again.
So the experiments began. I ended up modifying two or three of the most popular recipes to remove wheat and beef from them and the hot spot got much better. Jericho will be 10 years old in a couple of weeks and he still has some allergy issues but these are working their way through his super-sized Manchester Terrier system. His coat still shows the after effects of the hot spot but it has started to feel softer and smoother and the dull red hair that characterized the hot spot is beginning to recede.
Jericho is no longer our problem child -- well, at least not when Dad is walking him -- and most of his allergy challenges have been overcome. We had a bit of a dietary blip this past winter when both dogs lost an extraordinary amount of weight, which on medium-sized dogs with little hair is very noticable. Since virtually nothing had changed in their diets I was beginning to fear the worst, diabetes or something else expensive and potentially life-threatening. Once a tape worm had been ruled out a very small variation in their diet (chicken legs instead of backs) turned out to be the culprit causing the weight loss. Chicken backs are once again their staple food and the weight has returned rapidly, much to our relief. As we continue on with our efforts to reduce living expenses -- simplification is our goal -- having to deal with two dogs with diabetes would definitely bring more challenges than our fragile budget could hand right now.