Monday, July 30, 2012

Martha Stewart Fleece Bone Hoodie Review

Did you know Martha Stewart has a line of pet products at Petsmart? When I caught a glimpse of the clothes I nearly died. So cute! I've been eyeing the barn jacket for wet fall mornings when Luna goes for a walk:

As luck would have it, the Martha Stewart dog clothes were 20 percent off this weekend. We picked up the barn jacket as well as this adorable bone hoodie:

We had planned to take her to an outdoor concert in the evening so we thought the hoodie would help keep her warm. Because she's part chihuahua, Luna gets cold easily.

Luna weighs about 5 pounds and her back measures about 10 inches. We got her a size S. We tried the XS on her but she got really mad and nippy, because it was a bit snug. For those shopping online, here's the size chart from the tag:

XS 7"
S 9"
M 13"
L 17"
XL 20"
XXL 23"

The sweatshirts is a cozy fleece (100 percent polyester) and although she fought us at first, she seems to really like it. There are snap buttons at the neck which gives you a nice large opening at the neck to get the sweatshirt on.

  • At one point, the hood covered her head and eyes so Luna freaked out.
  • About half an hour into the concert, Luna got really overstimulated so we put her in her crate. Her lower teeth got stuck on the snap buttons and she freaked out again so don't leave the sweatshirt on your unsupervised puppy.

The verdict:
Overall, this is a fashionable yet simple piece of clothing without any attachments that a mischievous puppy can bite off. Ideally, I envisioned a more form-fitting item so Luna can't get her paws tangled in the sleeves but she still has some growing to do so this should be less of an issue when she's bigger. At the sale price, this sweatshirt is a much cuter alternative to the tacky clothes at most pet stores.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Puppy Toys

It feels like every day I'm buying treats or a toy for Luna. Yesterday, we plucked a plastic bottle and yogurt lid from the recycle bin, and she had a grand ol' time for about an hour! We had to confiscate the yogurt lid after about five minutes, as Luna could probably have bitten off a piece of the flimsy plastic.

The bottle lasted longer. We used a sturdy Snapple ice tea bottle. Just remove the label and plastic cap. Don't forget the little plastic ring. We had to remove that after we noticed Luna almost got it off herself. She rolled the bottle, chased it, carried it around, and chewed on it. We had rinsed the bottle with warm water, but maybe she could still taste some residual ice tea because she kept poking her tongue into the opening. To make it more stimulating, we added a few kibble. It took her about five minutes to figure out you have to tip it to get the kibble out.

We tried a water bottle before but it was too soft and crushable. A Calistoga sparkling water bottle had a long neck that was too frustrating. Somehow the Snapple plastic bottle was just right. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pork Shoulder Chili Recipe

While puppy was napping today, I made chili. Of course I kept looking over my shoulder to see if she woke up. We're house training and I'm supposed to watch her like a hawk. Yes, I decided to live dangerously and cook. If I can do this under extreme stress, this recipe should be a cinch for someone cooking under normal conditions.

2-1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-1/2" chunks
2 T cumin
2 t cinnamon
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
12 oz beer
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 T dehydrated onion
2 15-oz cans kidney beans
1 bell pepper, small dice
1 15-oz can corn
2 T corn flour (or corn meal), finely ground

Season pork with salt and brown in heavy-bottomed dutch oven. You may have to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding your pan. It took me about 4 mins per side.

Return pork to pot. Sprinkle cumin and cinnamon over pork. Neither of these spices have heat so you can add more if you like. Add tomatoes and beer. Deglaze the pot by scraping the brown bits at the bottom with a wooden spoon.

Add garlic and onion. Dehydrated onion is a lifesaver when you're pressed for time. Of course, you can use fresh onion. If you don't want to take the time to brown it, use a grater so the onion will cook down faster. After the pot comes to a boil, simmer for about an hour.

Taste your pork to see if it's tender. (Mine needed another half hour.) If your pork is tender, add kidney beans, bell pepper, and corn. Simmer for about 5 mins more.

If your chili looks too watery for your taste, bring pot back up to a boil. Sprinkle corn flour and stir until sauce thickens.

So easy and so delicious!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Puppy House Training Tips: Week Two

We adopted an eight-week-old puppy named Bitsy from a local shelter about a week ago. I'll admit it. I'm not an animal person but I'll do anything for my ten-year-old, Phoebe. That girl owes me big time. On the car ride home Phoebe said, "This is the happiest day of my life." The shelter listed the puppy as a terrier mix. However, once we started the paperwork, the manager revealed that her mother was a chihuahua! We're hoping it's a myth that chihuahuas are difficult to house train.

For a control freak like me puppy house training is a nightmare. We quickly renamed her Luna (Bitsy was a little too close to Bitchy), as the shelter manager told us she doesn't really know her name yet. Week One was a blur of constantly taking Luna outside to check if she had to eliminate. But still she had at least one accident a day. Now that it's Week Two I feel like my nerves can handle blogging about it.

We're following Sarah Hodgson's method for house training in Puppies for Dummies:

Step One: Put the puppy on a leash and tell her "Outside." Take her to the door.
Step Two: Lead her to the grass and say "Let's potty." In our case, Luna preferred the ivy that borders our lawn. I read that dogs feel vulnerable when they're eliminating so they usually choose a private area. If she poops or pees say "Potty" while she's crouching and doing her thing. Once she's done pooping give her lots of praise. I squeal "Good girl!" while scratching under her neck. Then give her a treat. Linger outside for ten minutes or so in case she also needs to pee.
Step Three: Say "Inside" and go directly back into the house. In the beginning, we're trying to make it clear to Luna that the front lawn is just for eliminating. Once she gets the hang of it, we don't have to be so restrictive.

Helpful hints:
Feed your puppy on a schedule. My kids keep a detailed log recording what time Luna does the following: Eat, Poop, Pee, Nap. At the shelter, Luna was allowed to graze all day because she was so small (3 lbs!), and they were afraid she wouldn't gain enough weight. Because house training was my top priority, I nixed the grazing habit right away. She still kind of plays with her food. She grabs a kibble, takes it a few feet away, and then eats it. Then she goes back for more one painstaking kibble at a time. We often have to walk over, point at her bowl, and remind her to "Eat." Did I mention that I'm controlling? After half an hour we take her food bowl away.

Get your puppy a crate. We bought a plastic one from Petco. We lined the bottom with a pink towel and gave her a mini Build-a-Bear teddy my kids found in their room. It has tightly stitched thread eyes so we don't have to worry about Luna swallowing small parts. Lucky for us she liked her crate right away. During the day, we leave the gate open so she can go in for naps but at night we lock her in so she can't get out while we're asleep. When we let her out in the morning, she poops and pees outside right away.

Know when to take your puppy out to eliminate. The best bets are after she sleeps and after she eats. Based on Luna's log, she poops within an hour of eating. Sometimes if she hasn't pooped after the last meal, she might have trouble eating so we have to take her out to check if she needs to poop. Peeing is less predictable but here's the general formula for calculating how long your puppy can hold her bladder: months old + 1. This means Luna can hold her bladder for up to 3 hours. Usually it's longer during the night. Her record is going to sleep at 10:30 and not getting up until 5:30. That said, she usually goes more often than every three hours, because we leave her water bowl out until 7:30 in the evening.

Be prepared. Keep at least two treats in your pocket at all times. That way, in case she poops and pees you can be consistent about rewarding both times. Hang your keys on the doorknob so you don't get locked out. Have a flashlight or lantern, your shoes, and plastic bags by the door. You don't want to be searching for these things when you're racing outside.

Lessons learned:
Because Luna has not received all her vaccinations, we can't take her on sidewalks where she could pick up Parvo. Also, she doesn't get her rabies vaccine until she's four months old so she can't come into contact on a walk with strange dogs. The safest bet is to use our backyard but we don't have grass in our backyard. Luckily our house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, so the vet gave us the green light to use our front lawn where it's unlikely a dog walker would venture so far off the beaten path. Good thing I didn't listen to people advising me to use newspapers or pads in the house.

Most of the time when Luna had an accident, we would realize in hindsight that she had given us a sign. Once she was pacing, one time she was chasing her own tail in circles, another time she was nippy with Phoebe. In general, if you're giving your puppy lots of attention and she still acts restless and nippy, she might need to eliminate. Of course, puppies are playful, curious, and naughty so it's often confusing whether she's just acting like a puppy or acting weird. We've also discovered that like human infants, she gets fussy around late afternoon.

I found myself so hell bent on preventing an accident that sometimes I would stay outside with Luna for an hour. I felt like a puppy abuser dragging her back to the ivy every ten minutes to check to see if she had to pee. Once you see that she understands potty, you have to let go a little and watch for the signs. True, you risk an accident but worse case, you take her out a few extra times and get better at catching the signs. This is only week two but Luna has shown me that she understands potty by crouching and trying to pee--even though she has nothing!

Although I know she's not considered house trained until she doesn't have an accident for four weeks straight, I've seen so much progress in one week that I'm hopeful we have a genius dog. Whenever I feel frustrated, I remind myself that someday her bladder will be stronger, she'll only needs to eat twice a day, and she can go on walks.

Sweet success!