Triple Ouchie!

December 11, 2011 § 12 Comments

What an uncomfortable start to the morning for this little tyke—three jabs of the needle in one visit to the veterinary clinic. Miss Maple probably had better ideas of how she would rather spend her weekend morning: (1) a playdate at the dog park, (2) a liver treat buffet, or (3) a 15-minute belly rub. But, no, her momsy and popsy had to make her endure the nail-biting journey to the vet followed by a triple ouchie.

Here is Miss Maple, somewhat sleepy-eyed and oblivious to the vaccinations that were being prepared right behind her.

The first needle was inserted with no fuss at all and Miss Maple gave us an impatient glare as if to say, “Are we all done here? Can we leave now?” Then came the second and third needles… Before the vet could even administer the shots, Maple let out a shrill yelp that could be heard down the corridor where other furry ones were nervously awaiting their turns. *sigh* That’s our drama queen for you.

On the drive home, our furball was very moody and refused to acknowledge us—she was playing the guilt card. And it worked. Lots of treats and lots of cuddles later, all was forgiven and forgotten… until next year, that is!

Oh Dear, Oh Deer!

November 16, 2011 § 28 Comments

Antlers… they evoke images of pristine wilderness and a wintery wonderland. But, antlers in tropical urban Singapore? Why, yes! Ever since hearing about deer and elk antler chews from our blogging buddies, we have been eagerly anticipating the introduction of these natural chews for dogs in the Singapore market. Seen as a novelty item, antler chews have yet to gain popularity in Singapore. So, it was with a bit of luck that I chanced upon deer antlers at a local pet store.

At the time of my visit, there was only one packaged brand of deer antlers available called AntlerChewz (made in Canada) with three different antler ‘cuts’ to choose from: Puppichewz, Seniorchewz, and Vitachewz. I selected the Puppichewz (S$17.90 @ Polypet) which is a piece of an antler sliced length-wise; this exposes the marrow-like material in the middle, thereby making it gentler on the teeth for puppies as well as dogs that are not as aggressive when it comes to gnawing on bones.

I have to admit, I was initially a little apprehensive about handing Maple a familiar, yet unfamiliar, foreign object to chew on. Beef marrow bone? Been there, done that. Chicken drumstick? Easy as pie. Deer antler? There’s always a first for everything, I suppose. Well, it didn’t take too long for my nerves to settle because Maple knew instantly (and instinctively) what to do with the antler chew.

Here is the furball giving the antler an orientation to her itty bitty teeth…

Before introducing it to her gaping mouth!

I couldn’t be more pleased with the results of the deer antler—not only is Maple enjoying the activity of gnawing and getting her chewing fix, but she is also benefiting from the  mineral-rich (calcium and phospherous) content of the antler. From an environmental standpoint, antlers that are: (1) naturally shed by deer and elk without harm to the animals, (2) responsibly harvested, and (3) re-purposed into safe dog chews seem to offer a sustainable option that I find hard to resist, especially after given our trial with the Nylabone non-edible dental chew.

What I also like about the antler is that it is virtually odourless and relatively hygienic—just give it a good wipe with a damp cloth, lay it out in the sun to dry, and it’s ready for the next session! I limit Maple’s time with the antler to 30 minutes or so, otherwise she would happily spend all day with it. This also ensures that she doesn’t ingest too much of the antler bone in one sitting. There should be a bowl of fresh water made available immediately after each session because, if your pupster is anywhere close to being like our Lil’ Miss Maple, the antler will definitely whet his or her thirst for water…LOTS of water!

These days, Maple has grown to become quite playful with the antler. She loves to toss it about, hide it in her blankie, and carry it around the apartment like a prized possession. At one point in time, this naughty pipsqueak got so protective of her new chew that she would retreat into her ‘den’ while holding the antler hostage. Thank goodness she has learnt to let go a little, but not before her 30 minutes are up!

Disclaimer: HAPPY.BARK.DAYS is an independent entity and was not paid to write this review by any of the commercial enterprises mentioned in the article.

Mission (Un)Accomplished

August 4, 2011 § 27 Comments

When it comes to getting primped and preened, it is an accepted fact that our Lil’ Miss Maple will be chalking-up more hours of blowdrying time in the grooming department than my neglected mane ever will. It is also a well-known fact that we have had more luck getting a finicky eater like Maple  to finish her meals than with finding a forever groomer that Maple could gel with. And so, after much contemplation, MM and I arrived to the conclusion that, in the long-run, the only way to make the grooming experience less of a stressful ordeal for all of us is to home-groom Miss Maple ourselves.

Maple, the glum sour plum, is not too keen about the idea:

Tools of the trade:

Armed with an Andis UltraEdge Clipper and plenty of seriously-delicious liver treats, we quickly mustered up our confidence before it could vanish and proceeded to make the first trimmings with the clipper. Four hours later—the end result: two very frazzled pawrents and one very moody puppy!

Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Well, technically, yes. We did manage to shorten the length of Maple’s coat but, after seeing how appallingly uneven it turned out, we decided to halt the mission before we could get a chance to tackle the most complicated anatomy—the noggin.

Not wanting our home-grooming session to go further astray, we made an appointment with a professional groomer to give Maple a proper trim around her face. Just as our luck would have it, Maple absolutely detested this particular groomer—but I don’t blame her one bit because I was there watching the nightmare unfold. I can’t even bring myself to name the grooming salon, other than to say that the recommendation came to me from a pet supplies store that I believed upheld a pretty good reputation. 

Well, MM and I certainly are more determined now than ever to learn the technique of dog-grooming. We hope that with some research and practice, we can become more efficient with the tools. Miss Maple, however, looks like she’s losing her patience with us—snubbing is what this pupster does best.

   

*sigh* Time to whip out Maple’s comfort food… liver treats. There’s nothing these potent and tasty morsels of calorie-rich goodness can’t resolve!

Snippity Snip

May 23, 2011 § 42 Comments

With the weather warming up and Maple sending us signs of discontent that her coat has gotten too fluffy for her liking, we decided it was time for a good trim. The last grooming session (which also happened to be ours and Maple’s first experience) was one of utter shock. Maple walked out of the salon as naked as a piglet.  Having learnt from our previous mistake, we now know not to wait until Maple’s hair gets matted and out-of-control before sending her for a groom.

We booked an appointment at Bark & Bubbles, which we discovered while perusing a local pets forum. Bark & Bubbles is located off of Jalan Bukit Merah, just minutes away from IKEA and Queensway Shopping Centre. The location suits us nicely since we live in the West of Singapore. 

Recounting the first experience we had at a grooming salon, I felt a little nervous about what we would encounter at Bark & Bubbles. Upon entering Bark & Bubbles, however, I felt a sense of ease. I can’t quite place my finger on it—perhaps it was the cleanliness of the salon, the clutter-free decor, the calmness of the four-legged customers waiting to be groomed, or the pint-sized Toy Poodle named Toffee who greeted us with such authority for a small little dogster.

Toffee’s owner, Joette, is the proprietor of Bark & Bubbles. Having worked in the banking industry for fifteen years, Joette decided to leave her profession to pursue a longtime passion for pets. As a proud owner of two Toy Poodles and two Cocker Spaniels, Joette became a certified groomer. It was at the grooming school that Joette met Megumi, a former fashion designer. Both Joette and Megumi provide grooming services at Bark & Bubbles, which has been in operation for five years.

We spoke with Joette about our preferred style for Maple and she was patient to listen to both of our differing views—we eventually settled on a look for the munchkin. As usual, we also requested that these two common procedures not be performed on Maple: anal glands expression and ear-hair plucking. We didn’t expect the waiting time to be two hours and needed to make our way to a pre-arranged a meeting that couldn’t be cancelled. Thankfully, Joette allowed Maple to stay with her in the salon until our meeting ended later that afternoon. Feeling comforted that Maple was in good hands, we left the salon to run our errands.

When the time came for us to pick-up Maple, our eyes beamed at the sight of her. Heeeeere’s Maple!

What a pretty gal—we LOVE the little red bandana that Maple was wearing.

There was a lot of oohing and aahing as we all gushed over Maple’s new look. It was clear, however, that Maple was tired. Here she is giving us a sulky face (totally understandable, of course)…

The cost of the full grooming was S$45, which seems to be the average in Singapore for a toy breed like Maple. We left the salon feeling like we made a good choice. It was only that evening, however, that we noticed a couple of glitches. One glitch was the scissoring work around Maple’s ears and muzzle—some unevenness here and there (I’ll probably touch it up a bit in these next few days). The other glitch is a little more worrisome and I wish I had inspected Maple closely before leaving the salon. We specifically requested that the hair in Maple’s inner-ears not be plucked. When I examined Maple’s ears at home, however, there was significantly less hair than before. I’m unable to tell what method was used for the hair removal, but Maple’s ears have a noticeably reddish hue and the irritation is causing her to scratch her ears more often than usual.

Will we be returning to Bark & Bubbles? It’s a tough call—we really adore Maple’s new do and would like to think that we’ve found her a suitable groomer. Ultimately, however, it is our hope to one day groom Maple on our own—I know several dog owners who are already doing this for their four-legged friends, and I am so impressed. Until that day comes, we’ll have to depend on professional groomers to help us in this department. So, we’ve created a list of things to remember the next time we make a trip to the grooming salon. If anything, hopefully this might help other newbies like us 😀

Make No Bones About It

May 2, 2011 § 26 Comments

Make no bones about it, Maple has discovered a new found treat and can’t stop wagging her tail. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maple is drooling incessantly right this very minute as I type these words: raw beef marrow bone.

After much consideration, MM and I finally gained our confidence to introduce Maple to a raw chew treat. We have been thinking about it for some time now, but always ended up procrastinating. So, it was perfect timing when we went to Dempsey Village for dinner one evening and, low and behold, found a butcher shop right next to the restaurant.

Although I have seen the Huber’s Butchery signage on several occasions while passing by the area, I’m usually hit with a pang of guilt when I think about splurging on really expensive cuts of meat. That evening, however, my guilty conscience miraculously disappeared—we were going to check out the store whether our wallets agreed with us or not!

I was giddy and full of anticipation—who knew shopping for bones could be so exciting. Once we entered the store, my eyes zoned in on the counter displays, but there were no bones in sight. After checking with the staff, I learned that the only raw bones available were frozen pork ribs and frozen beef marrow bones. Seven dollars and sixty cents later, we went home happily swinging our shopping bag filled with frozen Australian beef marrow bones.

After defrosting and trimming some excess fat from one piece of bone, we were ready to rock and roll!

Maple knew something out-of-the-ordinary was about to unfold. Her nose kept twitching and her tongue made frequent appearances while she patiently sat and waited on her Towie for instructions. 

At long last, the moment arrived…

But Maple wasn’t quite sure what to make of the bone. 

 A sniff here… 

And a sniff there. 

Finally, some teeth action! 

And tongue action… 

After thirty minutes of tentative gnawing followed by a full-on face-plant (Maple has no shame), we knew we had one very satisfied puppy. 

Although it took a little while for Maple to get the hang of chewing on a raw bone, I think she eventually figured it out with her canine instincts. As beef marrow bones are known for their high fat content, we’ll be using them sparingly as a recreational treat rather than a regular chew. Maple wasn’t too pleased when we took away her prized possession, but we made it up to her with an off-leash run in the park. Shhh… we were secretly making Maple burn off those calories 😉

For newbies to raw beef marrow bones, here are some further details of our escapade:

  • The bone cut might have been a little too big for Maple’s liking. Maple’s a tiny gal and not an agressive chomper, so she might have faired better gnawing a bone on which she could wrap her jaws around. That’s something for us to remember the next time we do our shopping.
  • The raw beef marrow bones in this particular package came with no meat attached. Now that Maple has been introduced to the concept of ‘raw’, we’ll slowly upgrade to meatier bones.
  • Maple experienced one minor bout of diarrhea shortly after her raw bone treat, but I suppose this is something to be expected for a first-timer? Maple’s stool returned back to normal later that evening, which we found very reassuring.
  • Immediately after Maple’s thirty-minute session with the raw bone, I removed the bone and rinsed it under cold running water. I then patted it dry and wrapped it up to be stored in the freezer. I think we can safely have one more round with this bone before it’s  time to toss it out.

Now that we have shaken off the jitter bugs that came with our first ever attempt at feeding a raw bone to Maple, we will continue our exploration into the world of raw foods. The sight of Maple enjoying her raw bone treat has given us all the more reason to do so, in my novice opinion 😀

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