Monday, September 22, 2008

Tigers and Boxers

I'm a docent at the San Francisco Zoo, and every time I'm at the zoo I can't help but think about Cassius my Boxer. Nearly every animal some how reminds me of my little guy. Lately, I've been spending most of my time at the tiger exhibit, where we have 3 Sumatran tiger cubs. All boys, all bouncy.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, make sure to get to the zoo to see the cubs. If you don't live close by, take a look at the SF Zoo's tiger cub album (where I grabbed the shot above). Too cute, and unfortunately, like all of the 5 tiger species, critically endangered. To learn more about tigers and what's being one to save them, visit the Save The Tiger Fund site. To save a Boxer in danger, visit your local shelter or find a Boxer Rescue like Boxer Rescue LA.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Snuggly Boxer

I'm going to end the week with just a couple of cute photos. Cassius loves to be cuddled. He even likes to be carried around like a baby. I can do this because my boxer is a little guy. He's only about 60 pounds. We were expecting him to be a big boy because his father was 85 pounds and his mother was 65.

Great things come in small packages!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rollerblading Along the Bay Trail

Cassius and I were out rollerblading along the Bay Trail in Foster City
the other day when we ran across a statue of the Indian deity Ganesh.
I have no idea why the statue was placed along the trail, but suspect it was to bring good fortune to the many feral cats who live along the trail in the rocks.

We're always on the look-out for the cats because they can be a dangerous distraction. They sometimes make a game of dashing across the trail, perhaps to taunt the dogs, and I'm afraid Cassius isn't perfectly trained to ignore them quite yet;-)
Perhaps the statue was placed along the trail to protect the unassuming bikers, runners and rollerbladers from being startled by the cats, who knows? I do know that rollerblading with my buddy is a fun way to get both of us some good exercise. Also, we stop a lot less to smell and spray than we do when we walk, which is ok by me!
Some people look at me like I'm a nutter for blading with my dog, and I can only imagine what they're thinking. I assume it's something along the lines of "dangerous for the dog", or "annoying speed hazard", but I have been rollerblading for 20 years, I keep Cassius's collar loose in case of spills, we practice releasing and voice commands in case I need to let go and keep him with me, and I do wear a lot of padding.
There is only so much I can do though to protect us from accidents. You never know what the other trail users will do to cause a spill, which is why I'm always vigilant when I rollerblade. The normal issues we run across are the dog walkers who wear headphones and don't hear or heed my warning "passing with dog on your left", and the bikers who don't offer us any warning and use us as drive cones and startle the beans out of us both.

The worst "traffic offense" occured when were only a few blocks from home. We approached 2 adults walking a 3 month old lab, on leash. They were in the grass and there seemed to be no reason to avoid them because there was plenty of space (if space is a concern, I either stop and walk Cassius around the obstacle, or divert into the road). When the couple saw us coming they unleashed their puppy and encouraged her to come after us! Cassius threw the puppy on her back once she pounced on him, probably out of shock, but not trying to hurt her. I spun around yet managed to stay on my feet and keep ahold of Cassius. The owner then ran up to Cassius, grabbed at him and nearly punched him for "attacking" his dog. Absolute chaos, all thanks to stupid human tricks. Thankfully, most of the dog owners in my town are much smarter than that lab's owner.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Football or Rollerblading?

Football is soooo boring! And really, are the 49ers going to win anyway?  We just blocked a Seahawk punt and they still managed to get a first down!

Cassius and I are going to head out soon and go rollerblading. We go about 4 miles a day now that the weather is cooler. Wooo hoo! I'll try to snap some pics, but, it's not always easy (nevermind safe) to get shot when I'm on the blades.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gingivectomy: $1400. Bright, Healthy Smile: PRICELESS

Cassius brushes inconsistently, he doesn't floss, and he's a boxer. Three strikes against my little guy when it comes to dental care. Oh, and the fourth being that some of his old meds (Atopica) cause gum swelling. As you can see from the picture, my gorgeous little buddy has an ugly problem: gum disease. To be specific, he has gingival hyperplasia.

It looks like we only have one option, and that is a gingivectomy, a minor surgical procedure to remove the gingival tissue (what I call gums). That's right, my baby is going under the knife for the first time in his life.

The dentist assures me they do this all of the time, especially with boxers and that the anesthesia they use is very safe. Both my husbad and I are very anxious when it comes to general anesthesia. He had a near-death experience himself, and I know we've lost some zoo animals (I'm a docent at the SF Zoo) due to anesthesia complications. OK, I get anesthesizing a giraffe is probably more complex than a dog, but hey, I'm allowed to be nervous, right?

Poor Cassius. Looks like he takes after his mom in that he's high-maintenance where teeth are concerned. I started seeing an orthodontist at the ripe age of 7 and continued for the next 8 years. Anywho, the gingivectomy is going to run us about $1400.00. Looks like the pet insurance was a good idea after all! We should be covered for up to 80%. A wee slice of good news.
We'll be brushing his teeth daily from now on. It's actually kind of fun, and Cassius likes the chicken flavored toothpaste (apparently, he doesn't take after me in all ways, I prefer the peanut butter flavored paste).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Flea Market

It's fall.  We lose the leaves, warm weather and daylight, but we gain fleas!  Apparently September can be the worst month for fleas because the weather conditions are just right.  I found an interesting article on the subject here:

I discovered some fleas on Cassius last week which was surprising/shocking given he's never had them before. We'd discontinued using topical parasiticides for at least a year, and were relying on an oral medication (Interceptor) to take over.  It did a pretty good job up until this month. Looks like we'll be adding a new med to Cassius's drawer.  Our veterinarian prescribed a drug called Comfortis, and says he has great results at home with his pets.  It's worth a try.  Apparently it kills fleas within 30 minutes, before they can lay eggs.  Because I had Frontline at home I used that on Cassius when we first spotted the fleas, but we'll be switching over to Comfortis in 3 weeks.

Cassius's belly button is probably his itchiest spot (pictured 2nd from top).  Our vet told me the umbilical fold area (3rd photo) is a hotbed for fleas on male dogs.  A flea market, if you will.  Poor Cassius is getting tired of me flipping him on his back so I can perform my obsessive hunt for fleas.  I'm more than a little unnerved by the thought of mobile parasites living on my little guy.  I haven't found any fleas on him since we dosed him with Frontline on Saturday, so they should all be dead.  We're just dealing with the aftermath now (bites, skin irritation and hair loss from scratching,  etc.).

So the poor guy's scaly skin problem didn't alarm our vet. He said the skin looks fine and it could be a result of the flea infestation.  I'm keeping a cone on him to limit the itching and have him on a small dose of prednisone to help alleviate the itching. 

We visited the dentist yesterday too, but more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scaly Skin Mystery

Cassius, like many boxers, suffers from allergies. We've spent a lot of time and money at the doggie dermatologist's and discovered he has a whole host of environmental allergies.

I have an entire kitchen drawer dedicated to the medications he's either on, or has been on to combat the itchy-scratchies (prednisone and benedryl) , heal skin after he's broken his skin (Mometamax), and of course, to prevent the allergies from erupting (Atopica, brand name for ciclosporin). There are also fish oil pills, tablets to prevent worms and other hideous parasites, ear cleansing solution, eye ointment, etc.

Most of the time, he itches his armpits or his neck. This week, his adorable buttocks and back legs are bugging him (along with the regular sites). He's been shedding skin from his back leg and inner back thigh area. The skin flaking off is darker, pigmented skin, leaving behind beautiful pink skin. I have no idea what the cause could be, and worry that he has some kind of fungus.

We have an appointment with the vet tomorrow, so I will update the blog with the findings, and perhaps add another prescription to the drawer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

12 Tasty Nuggets of Raw Delight

I switched Cassius over to raw dog food recently and we're both very happy with the decision. He loves the food. How do I know? Besides inhaling the food, he does a post-meal joy run through the house, bouncing off of all of the furniture, then settles on his favorite couch and buries his face in, as if nuzzling it. Thankfully, the food finishes clean, so he's not using the sofa as a napkin like he used to with his old messy mix of dry and wet food.

I love the new food too because he's pooping a lot less. He used to go at least 3 to 4 times a day, and in sizeable quantities. Since switching to the raw food, he only goes a couple of times, and his stools are "small, firm and void of any offensive odor" just like manufacturer, Primal Pet Food, advises.

The raw food seems to be a healthier option, and greener for sure. Less packaging than traditional kibble and wet food, and no cans to deal with...and less doggie waste.

I buy the raw food at Wholefoods in the pet food section, where there is a mini-freezer. Because the food comes frozen and you should keep it that way until you're ready to defrost it to serve, it' s a little more work, but just a little. I've posted pics of the frozen nuggets just in case anyone is curious.

When the nuggets defrost, I mush them up with my hands and then serve. I'm adding bones to his diet so that his teeth get a workout (and because he loves them).

I'm not going totally raw, but for the main staple of Cassius's diet, I have, and both dog and mom are happy with the switch.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bones Baby, Bones-NO MORE BONES


Cassius or Narcissus?

Cutest boxer in the world

Squishy face, I squish you!

I don't know about the rest of you boxer owners out there, but I spend a good 50% of my time at home squishing my dog's face and kissing him.   Cassius, my beloved 2 year old boxer, is the cutest little goofball I've ever known, and I have a hard time restraining myself when he's around (which is always).  Can't keep my hands off of him.  This could be why my laundry is piled up, as well have the dishes.