Wordless Wednesday: A Note to Summer

Is it the heat? Is it the humidity? Is it the blazing sun? How do you feel about summer?

Thank you to our friends at BlogPaws for hosting the Wordless Wednesday blog hop.

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Pet Therapy: Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles

In many ways, my human mommy/blogging assistant and I are a team. We do our best teamwork when we’re bringing love and leaving smiles for the Visiting Pet Program. We started the process of becoming a pet therapy team about two years ago. Because most of our work would be done in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our initial evaluation simulated what we would experience during our visits: a raucous round of bingo, walkers and wheelchairs navigating hallways, slightly-less-than-gentle petting, unexpected loud noises. My manners were perfect, I handled each step of the evaluation beautifully, and we moved on to our probationary visits. During three months of probationary visits, we were paired with human buddies (senior members of the Visiting Pet Program) who watched as we met with the residents at several different nursing homes. And then in December 2015, my human mommy and I became a full-fledged pet therapy team for the Visiting Pet Program.

Mommy and I do our regular monthly visits at a place called Colonial Oaks Living Center. We spend about an hour going from room to room to see our friends. They love telling us about all the dogs they’ve had through the years. I love being petted and told how pretty and sweet I am. It can be kind of exhausting, so sometimes I lie down and take a quick nap. No one seems to mind. In fact, I think my little naps are somehow comforting to my friends.

We also do special visits. Mommy and I have been to a summer camp at the Lighthouse for the Blind. I was a big hit there. All the campers said I was super soft. A couple of months ago we visited Camp Tiger, a free camp for children who are physically and/or mentally challenged organized by the LSU Health Sciences Center and staffed by medical school students. Last fall, we attended the blessing of the animals at Christ Church Cathedral.

Tallulah and my human daddy joined us at that visit . . . unofficially, of course. The humans thought Tallulah could use a little blessing. Turns out an exorcism might have been more appropriate at that point in her life. My little sister has calmed down a lot since then, and one day I think she’ll make an excellent therapy dog . . . but not yet.

Back to the real team. Our favorite visits are the ones that we do with university students before they take big tests. We’ve helped students at Loyola University relax before finals and calmed the nerves of physical therapy students in the LSU School of Allied Health Professions. Most of our university visits have been with the students at Tulane University School of Medicine.

They have two really important tests each year. There’s a lot of pressure, and they can get pretty stressed out. You should have seen this group when they walked into the room where we were meeting: eyes focused on the ground, shoulders hunched, fists clenched. Within five minutes we were all on the ground. They were petting and hugging me, laughing, sharing photos of their dogs back home, and snapping selfies with yours truly. It felt good to bring a little love their way, and I definitely left some super big smiles. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a great time. And I hope you remember to bring love and leave smiles. Cheers!

 


Doggy Herpes: Even Good Girls Get It

I have something kind of super embarrassing to share with you. If it were up to me, I would totally keep this a deep, dark secret. But what I’m about to tell you was a learning experience for my human mommy. She’s lived a long time. In fact, she’s 378 years old in dog years (hey, if I have to be completely embarrassed, she does too). She’s had a lot of dogs, but she’d never been through this with one of her dogs. So she thought this terribly embarrassing thing I’m about to tell you might be new to you, too, and that I should let you know about it. “Sharing is caring, Miss Lee,” she said. Sure, easy for her to say. Anyway . . . deep breath . . . here goes.

Several months ago, Mommy noticed this teeny tiny growth on my lip. We happened to be going to the LSU vet school in Baton Rouge a few days later, so Mommy asked the lady who does my hip and elbow dysplasia therapy if she thought we should see our local vet. (Mommy knew good and well what the answer would be, but sometimes humans just have to hear it from another human.) Miss Jennifer said she thought it would be a good idea. She said it probably wasn’t anything; but if it was something (and when human ears hear “something” their brains immediately think “cancer”), the vet would want to remove it when it was still small and before it had a chance to go into the bone. The minute we returned to New Orleans, Mommy made an appointment to see our vet the next day.

The next morning on our daily walk, Mommy and I passed by our neighborhood groomer, Hair of the Dog. We stopped to visit with Miss Morgan and Mommy told her about my little growth and our planned visit to the vet. And that’s when Miss Morgan said this: “It could be herpes.” WHAT!?! She said that one of her clients had just canceled a grooming appointment because his dog had herpes and that it was going around some of the doggy day care facilities. WHAT!?! Mommy found herself in a bit of a state of shock and braced for what the vet would diagnose later that afternoon: nothing (I mean probably not; how often is anything ever nothing?); cancer (every dog parent’s worst nightmare); or herpes (totally new to her and completely mortifying).

Later that afternoon, the vet took one look at my lip and said, “She has a little viral papilloma.” After Mommy’s brain processed not cancer, she looked at Dr. Kevin and timidly asked, “Is that herpes?” I’m pretty sure he felt that question coming. “Well, people sometimes call it that,” he said, “but not exactly.” So he carefully explained viral papilloma and gave Mommy a printout from a VeterinaryPartner.com article. (Click here for the full article. I highly encourage you to read it.) Here are a few highlights:

  • The virus can only be spread among dogs. It is not contagious to humans or to other pets.
  • The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the papillomas on an infected dog or with the virus in the pet’s environment (toys, bedding, food and water bowls, etc.).
  • The incubation period is generally one to two months.
  • Viral papillomas generally go away on their own after one to two months.
  • Recovered dogs cannot be infected with the same strain of virus, but there are several viral strains.

The three picture above show the progression of my viral papilloma. (The final photo was taken about four weeks after the first photo, when my outbreak was at its height. Please pardon the quality of the photos. They were not taken with a blog post in mind.) My papilloma’s appearance was classic:

Viral papillomas are classically fimbriated, meaning they are round but often have a rough, almost jagged surface reminiscent of a sea anemone or a cauliflower. They occur usually on the lips and muzzle of a young dog (usually less than 2 years of age). Less commonly, papillomas can occur on the eyelids and even the surface of the eye or between the toes. Usually they occur in groups rather than as solitary growths so if one growth is noted, check inside the mouth and lips for more.

My case was unusual in that I only had one papilloma (for which my human mommy will be eternally grateful) and my infection happened when I was significantly past two years of age (I am now eight years old). We really have no idea where I came into contact with the virus. I hadn’t been boarded or visited doggy day care in the one to two months before it appeared. But I do like to drink from the community water bowls that we encounter on our daily walks, and I can be quite a kisser when I see another dog on the sidewalk.

It’s interesting that my little sister, Tallulah, never came down with the virus. Mommy decided that it would be impossible to keep us separate while I was infectious. Plus, if Tallulah did catch viral papilloma from me, it’s not really dangerous and she would develop an immunity . . . kind of like exposing all the children in one family to chickenpox. We were considerate of other families’ dogs. While I was contagious, I didn’t drink out of public water bowls and I did not make contact with other dogs when I saw them on my walks. Just for the record, that part was really hard for me.

One day, after about a month and a half, my viral papilloma disappeared . . . and I was back to my gorgeous Golden self. So now you know: This good girl had doggy herpes, which wasn’t actually herpes at all. It was viral papilloma. It wasn’t really dangerous; it didn’t last that long; and now I’ve developed an immunity. Wow. Sharing that with you wasn’t super embarrassing after all . . . but Mommy still owes me a treat. 🙂

 


Sunday Selfie: Tallulah Gets Silly

Don’t ask me how it happened, friends, but somehow Tallulah Bee got her paws on our human mommy’s cell phone. She unleashed her inner Kardashian selfie self.

And then she got a little silly. Wishing you a happy week ahead . . . filled with just the right amount of silly. Cheers!


Hemp Is Hot for Dogs

When we unpacked our BlogPaws 2017 swag bags a few weeks ago, my human mommy noticed a couple of treats containing hemp. This made her curious (it just made me hungry), so she decided to do a little research. Turns out hemp is the hot new thing in pet care. Here’s what you need to know:

HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA–Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant–Cannabis sativa–and they both contain two major cannabinoids–THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). But the similarities end there. Marijuana contains higher levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that causes a “high.” Hemp contains a higher level of CBD, which reduces the psychoactive effects of THC. So, if you humans were thinking about eating hemp dog treats to get a little buzz, forget about it. Hemp treats won’t get your pets high and they won’t get you high either.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF HEMP?–It’s important to note that peer-reviewed research is lacking, so information about the benefits of hemp for dogs is largely anecdotal. That said, the following anecdotal benefits of hemp seed oil for dogs have been suggested:

  • strengthens the immune system
  • boosts skin and coat health while reducing flaking and shedding
  • boosts energy and supports a healthy weight
  • supports healthy organ and heart health
  • supports healthy brain functions
  • acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • aids healthy growth and development
  • produces positive effects on fertility/reproduction
  • reduces anxiety
  • lessens the associated side effects of chemotherapy

Enough of Mommy’s type of research, Tallulah and I were ready to do our own sort of science: the taste tests.

First we sampled the Treatibles CBD pumpkin grain-free chews. The ingredients list reads like something you’d find at the finest healthy human bakeries: hemp-derived phytocannabinoids (CBD, CBN, CBG), gluten-free oat flour, pumpkin, peanut butter, organic coconut oil, brown rice flour, apple sauce, organic coconut nectar, organic hemp seed oil, turmeric, vanilla, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and potato starch. Coconut oil is an antioxidant that is good for our coats and skin; pumpkin helps digestion; and peanut butter has high levels of protein. Plus, the treats are gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Here’s what the Treatibles website says about the source of the hemp the company uses in its chews:

The non-psychoactive cannabinoids used in our proprietary formula are sourced from hemp grown in Colorado. It is a full plant extract which contains terpenes and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBDA and CBDV. This extract contains no THC.

But best of all, they taste great! They come in two sizes: small-to-medium for dogs up to 50 pounds and large for dogs over 50 pounds. Tallulah and I tasted the small-to-medium Treatibles chews . . . so we could eat a few extras. The Treatibles website offers a store locator. A few specialty pet shops in my area carry the products. You can also use the site to purchase online (a bag of small-to-medium pumpkin chews–roughly 36 Treatibles–is $24; shipping for orders over $40 is free). By the way, Treatibles was established in 2013 and is based in California.

Next we tried True Leaf Pet’s True Hemp chews in the health support for dogs formula. (Seriously, this photo part is so tedious. When does the tasting start?) These treats contain ground hemp seed, hemp oil, DHA (an Omega 3 source derived from whole-cell algae that supports cognitive health), polyphenols and pomegranate, salmon, buckwheat flour, yellow pea flour, sunflower seed oil, blackstrap molasses, vegetable glycerin, natural fish flavor, citric acid, and mixed tocopherols. The back of the bag lists the following benefits of hemp:

  • one of nature’s most balanced and richest sources of fatty acids
  • contains Omega 6 and Omega 3 in an optimal 3:1 ratio
  • one of the few plants containing GLA (gamma linolenic acid, known to fight cancer, reduce joint pain, and improve skin and coat)
  • naturally supports the body’s response to inflammation
  • contains tocopherols, a natural antioxidant

I don’t know about the back of that bag, but Tallulah and I can certainly attest to the tasty nature of what’s inside the bag. The True Leaf pet website offers a store locator option. Sadly, there are no retailers near my house, but my sleuthing human mommy did find their hip-and-joint and calming chews on Amazon for less than $19. You can also order directly from the website. The Canadian company is a division of True Leaf Medicine International Ltd., which was established in 2013 for humans. True Leaf Pet was started in 2015 and here’s what the website says about the source of its hemp:

The hemp used in our proprietary formula is grown in Ontario, Canada. This extract contains no THC and in non-psychoactive.

Tallulah and I are pretty excited about the new treats we’ve discovered, and our human mommy is equally excited to have discovered the health benefits of hemp. If you’d like to read more, she suggests the following sources:

 


A Couple of Sparklers for Your Fourth

Happy Independence Day! My little sister, Tallulah Bee, and I have had a pretty great day so far . . . except of course for having to put on silly outfits and have our pictures taken. That part was slightly torturous.

But we cooperated because we got a couple of our favorite red, white, and blue treats. Mommy froze whole blueberries in our star-shaped ice-cube tray and then dumped the frozen treats into our outside water bowl. I was a dainty drinker.

Tallulah, as usual, lacked restraint . . . but definitely had a good time.

Next we headed inside for some frozen yogurt and crushed strawberry bone-shaped delights. After a challenging-but-successful “Leave it!” command, Tallulah and I dove in like a couple of hotdog-eating contestants at Coney Island.

Sending you sweet kisses and best wishes for a safe and happy Fourth of July!

 


Fancy Fences

Isn’t it wonderful when humans take something perfectly ordinary and make it amazingly extraordinary? Like when they dip your plain old dog treat in some yummy canned food? Or when they drop ice cubes in your water bowl?

My human mommy/blogging assistant and I walk every morning. I’m a creature of habit, so we usually take the same two or three basic routes. It gets a little boring for Mommy. Not for me, you understand, because the smells are always different, always enlightening, and always fabulous. But Mommy’s sense of smell isn’t quite as advanced as mine. Therefore, we’re always on the lookout for something extraordinary on our ordinary daily walks.

We recently found a couple of fancy fences in our neighborhood. How wonderful that our neighbors have taken the time to transform something so very ordinary into something extraordinary for us to enjoy. So, as we enter the long holiday weekend, I hope you’ll take the time to look for the extraordinary in all the ordinary around you . . . and let me know what you find. Cheers!