Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: Sometimes Procrastinating is Okay

Life has this tendency of throwing a whole bunch of stuff at you at the same time. Your car needs fixing, and your bills come due, and you get sick so you have to miss a day or two of work, and maybe your kids/pets/spouse are having some sort of crisis that needs your undivided attention to sort it immediately. If you are like me, and many other middle class people, it can be tough to field one emergency at a time, let alone three or four. The financial strain of all these different things, in addition to missing work, make it incredibly easy to stress out and fall into pits of anxiety. This is normally when I find procrastinating to be a little bit helpful.

I know that depression and procrastination are two things that can feed off of each other and create some clusterfuck of self-deprecating cycles. Maybe it would be better to call it a pause. It’s very important, when you have a thousand things piling up in front of you, to put it all aside for a moment and breathe. Take twenty minutes, play some of your favorite music, light some incense or a candle and do whatever you need to do to help you decompress. Whatever is on your plate right now will still be there after your pause. Give yourself permission to take a beat.

I’m the type of person who really likes to take the stressors in my life and get them sorted right away. My logic is that if I deal with it now when it’s a baby stressor, then it won’t turn into a big stressor that will take more time, energy, and money to sort. It also frees my capacity up for other stressors to come into my life. In my mind, if I just save them for later, or think to myself “it’s not a big deal now, I’ll just handle it later” then there will come a time when I have something that I have to deal with RIGHT NOW, but I also have three or four on the back burner that I was saving for a rainy day. All of a sudden, I’m overwhelmed and unable to handle everything at once and my poor boyfriend has to coax me off the cliff I’ve built for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not condoning putting your whole life on hold and running away for days and days. That’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that can cause so much more trouble than the original problems. But taking a moment for self care and self love is just as important as taking on your life head on.

Posted in From Kibble to Raw, Maui's Caturday, Willow Wednesday

Kibble To Raw: The Honest Kitchen

I mentioned The Honest Kitchen in another post a couple weeks ago, when I was talking about goat’s milk. I have now been feeding Willow THK exclusively for a month, and Maui has been eating half THK and half canned food. They have also been getting a digestive supplement called Perfect Form, also by THK, mixed in with their foods every day.

WARNING: THERE WILL BE TALK OF BODILY FUNCTIONS IN THIS POST. IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO DISCUSSING OR READING ABOUT THINGS COMING OUT OF A HEALTHY BODY, PLEASE CONTINUE READING WITH CAUTION.

THK Backstory

THK is a product line that we sell at my job that, I will openly admit, I overlooked for several months. Then we had a training session with some company representatives, and I learned all about it. They provided us with extra training links, which I blew through within 24 hours. I’m not going to lie, I was hooked.

The owner, Lucy Postins, started her company with the intention of giving her pets food that would not make them sick, have any allergic reactions, and would give them all the nutritional benefits of raw food. She wanted something that could be used for all stages of life, from the toothless puppy phase to the seniors with low tolerances phase. Since then, she has gotten special permission from the FDA to place the words “human grade” on her packaging (because it’s manufactured and processed in a place that also manufactures and processes baking mixes and cereals) and has changed the lives of many allergy riddled pets.

I could waffle on for days about this company (and I often do while I’m at work), so if you have any other questions about what specifically about this company I really like, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a PM.

Willow:

My lil pupper took to THK very quickly. The palatability was right up her alley, the warm water I used to mix released the super yummy smells really well, and she straight up licks her entire bowl sparklingly clean every time I put it down in front of her. I have had no adverse reactions regarding her fish allergy, which means to me that what they put on the label is ONLY what’s in the products. (Pet food manufacturers don’t have the same standards as human food manufacturers, so they can get away with a little bit more).

I’ve also noticed significant changes in her, physically. Her fur is a lot softer, and she’s shedding quite a bit less than she used to. (Could partially be winter, but in previous years, she would shed quite a lot in the wintertime too.) Her eyes are running a lot less and the stains by her tear ducts are smaller too. Her intestinal gas has decreased a huge amount and they’re not nearly as pungent as they were before, and she seems less stiff when the weather changes.

But the most noticeable thing for me was in her poops. She used to drop healthy sized poos, stinky and colored depending on what she ate that day. They had the consistency of soft, healthy poop that easily squished into the grass whenever I tried to pick it up, and one poo would damn near fill up my poop bags. Now, her poops are much darker brown, not colored by very much, and very easy to pick up. They are much more condensed now, which makes them SO much easier to get out of the grass, and they’re a lot less stinky. I can also now fit at least 4 separate deuces in one bag and still have enough room to tie it off.

All in all, Willow is responding beautifully to THK, and I’m very excited to see what her responses will be to the next steps on our Journey to Raw.

Maui:

Maui took a little more time to adjust to the new food. The texture was different than anything he’d ever eaten before, so that was a bit of an adjustment for him. Being a wee little baby, he adjusted within the week and is now looking forward to his daily dose of THK.

For the first little while, he did have some soft poos that I was keeping an eye on. His energy levels didn’t change at all, he didn’t seem like he was uncomfortable in any way, so I just rode it out. Now, he’s well balanced and his GI has settled into his new diet.

Similarly to his sister, I have noticed improvements with his coat. He’s now cloud kitten soft, with clear eyes and no more gunk in his ears. If anything, his energy levels have increased and he’s experimenting with his athleticism pretty extensively. His reaction time when playing is faster too, we have to work harder to get him to miss the toys he pounces on and he’s having a lot of fun destroying boxes.

I have been keeping him on half canned food for two reasons: 1) he really enjoys the texture of it and 2) it’s easier for Vinh to do the pm feeding when he doesn’t have to use a measuring cup and mix it up. I will eventually get him onto THK completely before switching him over to raw, but this is a good system for what we need it for right now.

Overall, I love the way THK is responding with my animals. They’re both doing healthier, enjoying their foods, and are doing much better with the higher digestibility. I highly recommend this food for anyone who just wants to try something a bit healthier than kibble, or someone who may have a pet with allergies or geriatric sensitivity. If any of you are interested in trying it out, I have a link for 50% off of a 2 pound box for you to try out here. 

Posted in Just One Of Those Days

Holiday Mayhem: It’s Back

It’s getting to be that time of year again. The air is getting cooler, the sun is setting in the middle of the afternoon, I’m no longer able to take Willow outside to potty in my sleeping shorts without fearing pneumonia or hypothermia. And holiday things are ALREADY in stores.

I went to the grocery store the day after Halloween, I kid you not, and there was already an entire aisle dedicated to plates for Santa’s cookies, mugs that are decorated in the classic red-and-white, boxes for packaging up holiday boxes of cookies and what have you lining the shelves. Christmas lights and baubles and wreaths and garlands galore. And (American) Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. It’s just so magical and cheerful that I don’t even really know what to do with myself most of the time. Dismissing the religious connotations (cue angry BUT IT’S A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY comments) the feeling behind it all just makes me feel so whole. It’s got this warm and fuzzy, hot chocolate and candy canes kind of feeling that I cannot get enough of. I’m already itching to decorate and the best part of it all is that Vinh has already said that he didn’t care if I decorated before Thanksgiving or not, bless him.

The negatives with the return of the holiday season is that I work in retail again. Pet retail, yes, but retail nonetheless. We had our first company send us holiday themed treats in October. At the end of the first week in November, we already had frilly and fluffy neck scrunchies decked with little bells to put over our pets heads that they will undoubtedly hate. We have little elf and Santa hats with elastics to turn our unassuming dog or cat into a holiday gremlin. And don’t let me forget about the pet friendly PSL’s and eggnog mixes that we have started getting in. As much as humans love the holidays, they love imposing those holidays on our pets, who don’t know what it all is and couldn’t really care less.

I’m excited for this holiday, I’m not going to lie. It’s the second holiday season Vinh and I are spending together, it’s Maui’s first holiday, and Willow is always excited because she gets untold treats and yummies. Now all that’s left is to avoid spending all of my money on holiday things I don’t need.

Posted in Willow Wednesday

Willow Wednesday: Aging

Willow has been a member of my family for 3 years this month. When I adopted her, she was a month away from her third birthday and she had already spent a year in a shelter and lived with 3 families. She was very nervous, stressed out, and scared. Over the years, I’ve seen her settle down a little bit and become a bit more confident in certain scenarios. But now, with her sixth birthday looming over us, I’m noticing some other changes in her that are frankly breaking my heart.

Now I realize that Willow is not an old dog. 6 is middle aged at best for most dogs and they have the potential to live for 10 more years. I also realize what stress and anxiety does to a person’s life expectancy and overall health. One of her kidneys is already being a little wonky and I’ve been told by several different people that most dogs who live such a high stress life don’t usually live past 8-10 years old.

I’ve been noticing differences in her, physically, too. Where she was once pristinely white with black spots under her fur, now she has gained lots of tan doe spots. Her ears, which used to be the faintest tan, are slowly deepening to a definitive brown. The skin under her chin is a little more wrinkly than it once was, and she’s a little bit slower to get up and move around in the cooler weather. She takes more naps and is quicker to cuddle than she used to be.

It’s hard to watch someone you love so much change. It’s a reminder to me that every day that I get to spend with her is another day that I love her more than I’ve ever loved anyone. The only thing I can do is give to her everything that she has given to me.

Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: You Gotta Love Yourself

It’s really easy to get down on yourself sometimes. Especially if you become complacent in your life and let certain things get out of control. Then those thoughts of “I should have known better,” “Why did I do this to myself,” and “What is wrong with me that I didn’t stop this sooner?” start to swirl around your head. The hopelessness of the situation presses down on your heart and makes you say and do stupid things like lash out at the people who care about you and are trying to help you. In these moments, it’s the easiest to let depression and self-destruction be the primary forces in your life.

It’s extremely important when these thoughts are bombarding you to reach out to those people who make you feel good. Who’s that person that always makes you laugh? Who’s that person who always makes you feel like you can do anything? Who’s that person who doesn’t need to know a single detail about your situation, but will hug you and love on you and make you feel like everything will eventually be okay? Find them and bring them into your bubble. It might be uncomfortable, it might be scary, but it’s really important. It will feel so effortless to just sit in that darkness and wait for it to dissipate, but it’s essential for you to try to build a ladder and climb out of it.

This week has been rough for me for no reason other than life happens. I wasn’t on top of some of my responsibilities and it’s all piling up in an overwhelming heap. But I am extremely lucky to have a few people in my life who will always help me out of the darkness. They are always there with a funny story, kind words, or a virtual hug, no matter where we are. I am so blessed and lucky, and these are the moments that I realize just how true that is.

Posted in Doggy Reviews, From Kibble to Raw, Uncategorized

Goat’s Milk and Why I Love It

I love pro- and prebiotics. I eat Greek yogurt religiously and take supplements for myself, and I force feed my boyfriend his own as well. So naturally, I’m going to be feeding my animals pro- and prebiotics as well. The easiest way for me to administer The Biotics for me is through goat’s milk.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

I am extremely fortunate that my animals enjoy eating things that are good for them (also not good for them like cheetos [Willow] and pretzels [Maui]). I don’t have to struggle to hide pills in various types of wizardry to get Willow to take her meds, and I don’t have to force feed either of them their supplements. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to make them more palatable. Willow’s pills are always wrapped up in some Greenie’s Pill Pockets and Maui has special treats for when I do something particularly unpleasant like nail trimming or looking at his teeth. I have recently started giving the kids a digestive supplement by The Honest Kitchen called Perfect Form that they aren’t super crazy for the taste of. Maui picks at his food if it’s just sprinkled on top of it and Willow just kind of halfheartedly laps at it.

Goat’s milk is my FAVORITE way to hide them in it. Its got a decent fat content, which hides any flavors they may not like and also helps keep their joints healthy. It’s chock full of probiotics and prebiotics that help balance out their guts. I’ve noticed a difference in their poops color and consistency (namely smaller, darker and a bit dryer) but the best of all is that I’ve noticed a HUGE decrease in the amount of gas they have, both burps and farts.

I’ve used a couple of different types of goat’s milk: 1. Answer’s Raw Goat’s Milk 2. Primal Raw Goat’s Milk 3. The Honest Kitchen Pro Bloom Instant Goat’s Milk .They each have their own pros and cons, and hopefully I can outline them a little bit here.

I didn’t notice a huge difference between the Answer’s and the Primal. They are both sold frozen due to their short shelf life and have to be defrosted before serving. I usually put it in my refrigerator either a full day or two days before I wind up needing it. If I need a shorter defrost period, I’ll leave it on my counter for an hour or so and use whatever defrosts in that time. They both usually have a little bit of sediment in them (which is totally fine! It just separates during the freezing process) so they have to be shaken up a bit. The downside to them is that the smallest size they come in is a pint and I just don’t go through it fast enough. I usually wind up having to throw a bunch of it away before ever getting close to the bottom.

My favorite is the Pro Bloom. I make it as I need it, it’s shelf stable, and it’s VERY inexpensive for the amount that it makes. I give Maui about an ounce a day (he’s a 4 month old, 3ish pound kitten) and I give Willow about 4 ounces a day (5 year old, 45ish pound doggo). I find that too much more than that gives them soft poos. Naturally though, this is going to vary based on your own particular animal. It took me quite a while to figure out exactly how much Willow could take each day and I’m still working on adjusting Maui’s levels to be perfect for him too.

So what do you think about goat’s milk? Something you may want to include in your pet’s diet? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Posted in From Kibble to Raw

Transitions: I’m Going to Feed Raw

I have been feeding Willow kibble for three years. She came to me eating Science Diet (aka utter sh*t) and have since transitioned her to single-protein Acana (a LOT better, nutritionally), on which she has done well. I have dabbled a little bit in canned wet food, but honestly, Willow isn’t crazy for it. I think there are ingredients in it, or maybe it’s the gravy, that just doesn’t sit well with her. Wet food always, a l w a y s gives her unnecessary amounts of extremely odorous gas, the cans containing a higher nutritional value are usually obscenely expensive (the Koha I mentioned in this post sells for $2.79 per can from the pet store I go to) and as a 45 pound dog, one standard can is only about 1/6 of her daily value of nutrition. You can do the math, it’s not realistic for me to feed her wet all the time.

But lately, I haven’t been satisfied with her food anymore. It’s not necessarily the Acana, which in the game of dry food is a very high contender. Maybe it’s partially that I can never find a wet food that I feel drives Willow bananas. Don’t get me wrong, she really liked the Koha. But that’s also really liking a category of food that has never really made her lose her mind (this girl has gone utter bananas over a piece of bacon that I dropped on the floor and a bag of cheetos she found when I was showering). Maybe it’s also partially just how expensive Acana is (I pay between $70 and $75 per 25lb bag for her dry food) in addition to her normal supplements and treats (goat’s milk as a probiotic, dental treats and marrow bones for her teeth, and then her normal treats for training).

Maybe it was adopting Maui and learning more about feline nutrition and realizing that while I was doing what I thought was right and best by feeding kibble to both of my babies, perhaps I wasn’t. But what is life but learning from one’s mistakes?

Or maybe, it’s just me learning more about the difference between kibble, freeze dried, dehydrated, frozen raw, and just plain raw food. I’ve been going through a bit of a boot camp with regards to different types of food, different requirements for canine and feline nutrition and how kibble just doesn’t meet those requirements.

So, I have decided to change how and what I feed. Which is unfortunate after purchasing a bunch of new foods for Maui. BUT I DIGRESS.

I will be talking about the different steps I’m going to take to transition from kibble to, ultimately, some form of raw feeding. I will be making some stops at freeze dried, testing some dehydrated food, and sampling different types of raw that are on the market, breaking down the prices and their ease of use.

If there’s anything specifically you would like me to try out or if you think there’s something that I definitely should try, please let me know!

Disclaimer 1: Before telling me that it’s unhealthy to be switching between different foods all the time, it’s important for everyone (animals and humans) to have a varied diet to get all the nutrients that they might not be exposed to if they were only eating the same thing every single day. Also bear in mind, this is not going to be something that I’m doing every single day. They will be staying on a single type of food for, potentially, months. So this series is going to be a slow burn.

Disclaimer 2: While I would absolutely LOVE your opinions, bear in mind that I will also be doing research on any brand/company/food that is recommended to me extensively before even considering feeding it to Maui or Willow. I am not going to irresponsibly feed my animals any random food that someone online tells me to feed (no offense).