Stuck in Between

Now that the ‘high’ has worn off of getting my certification, and learning new skills, I’m back in the same place I was before. Ready for the next step of my life. Just waiting. The ‘in between’ stage.

Napoleon End of My Leash Heather Hamilton

Napoleon, happy to see me.

I find myself constantly anxious. Not really settling down, not relaxing, just… always going. Always doing something, and never taking a break. I’m exhausted. I can’t stop, and I can’t just BE. When I do try to relax, I’m caught up in thoughts about what’s next?

I’m not happy in this current ‘in between’. I’m always looking ahead. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it never gives me a chance to really calm down or relax.

It feels like there are things holding me back from greatness, and to break free means to change my lifestyle drastically. Not just make a decision, but… more than that. It’s something I can’t do. I just have to live with it.

I have plans that are in motion, but it feels like it isn’t enough. Like I’m not doing enough, or they aren’t moving fast enough. I’m stuck.

I’m trapped in this cycle and it’s suffocating. I know I’m doing everything I can, but then I feel like even that isn’t enough, and I should be doing more. So I try to do more, and then burn myself out. Repeatedly. What am I missing?

I work too much, so I fail in other areas of my life. And if I actually take the time to relax, I’m not working enough. I’m always falling behind in one area or another. I can’t ever be good enough.

We all wear multiple hats. Mine: Wife, daughter, sister, maid, cook, employee, entrepreneur, trainer, pet parent, driver, friend, teacher, accountant, coworker, the list goes on. And as I’m excelling at one, I’m failing at another. I laugh at myself for putting ‘cook’ up there, as I haven’t actually made a meal for my family in… oh, I can’t even remember. Which means I’m failing at that.

I don’t have the energy to keep up with everything anymore. I’m slowly falling into a hole that I can’t get out of. It’s all too much. I want to stop, I want to take a break. But every single one of those takes up valuable energy that I’m slowly running out of.

Tiberius, Heather Hamilton Bearded Dragon

Tiberius rocking the green.

I’m depleted. There isn’t anything else for me to give. I have no fight left, so I just let things happen. I will fail, I just accept it. I won’t be enough, but that’s ok. I will make mistakes, fuck things up and just shrug about it and move on. I just say ‘ok’ because I just want the decisions to be already made by the time I get there.

Again, professionally no one will see this when I am working. I will put on the face, do what I do, and no one will know the wiser. But inside, my fire is out. I can’t offer any more.

I feel I am a strong woman, and I can’t let a little discouragement bring me down. So, here’s my list of 10 things when I really need it. Like today:

1)      My dog is always happy to see me.

2)      My husband and I found a new show to watch.

3)      I get to watch a great dog this weekend

4)      I get to show my fellow trainer everything I have learned at my certification course at social this weekend.

5)      Change is coming, and I know it will be good. Many changes are coming.

6)      I’m happy when I’m working with dogs.

7)      I have a new favorite hoodie. A pitbull hoodie I bought of etsy.com.

8)      My house is clean.

9)      Tiberius’s cage is clean and is rocking green carpet.

10)   It’s getting colder, meaning we can go snowboarding soon.

Life Lessons

life-lessons-no-school-taughtToday, I feel like I need to sort out some of my feelings based on the decision I had to make recently. Yes, it has been about a month or so, but I’m not ‘over it’. I’m fine for a couple days now, and then I’m caught off guard by someone checking in. “Hey, how’s the training going with Ryder?” “I heard what happened with Ryder…”

So, I’m finding big decision quotes and how they relate to what I’m going through. It’s helping, because I feel like a bigger person for making this decision. Even though it sucks, it was right. I’m having dreams… and I wake up, thinking I’m boarding Ryder, and I actually walk all the way downstairs to the kennel he used to sleep in, and he’s not there. I think if he was actually there, I would check myself into a mental hospital, but that’s’ not the point.

So, here’s to you, Ryder. Because I did what was best.

 

“There must be a few times in life when you stand at a precipice of a decision. When you know there will forever be a Before and an After…I knew there would be no turning back if I designated this moment as my own Prime Meridian from which everything else would be measured.”
― Justina ChenNorth of Beautiful

This decision was life changing for me. It changed my personally, emotionally, and it has changed the way I see aggression. It has changed the way I train, and how I interact with people with difficult dogs. And it changes the way I evaluate dogs. I will not set myself or the dog up to fail by taking on a case too difficult for me for my current skill set. I am more reserved as a person, and I have taken a step back from the ‘Let’s go do this’ attitude I usually have.

 

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take can sometimes be the most painful…” 
― José N. Harris

 “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” 
― Elbert Hubbard

“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.
” 
― Jarod KintzThis Book Title is Invisible

All 3 of these quotes represent what I felt like before it happened. This is what I felt when we were weighing the option of rehoming or euthanasia. Waiting on the family to make a decision. Then, the procrastinating to make the appointment. Then, making the appointment and hoping a miracle would happen. Then, after it happened, the healing process. At least I made a decision.

 

“If you always make the right decision, the safe decision,
the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.” 
― Paul Arden

I am not the same. And I never will be ‘normal’. My experience with this situation has been life changing, and I will never be the same again, either.

 
“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” 
― Shauna NiequistBittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I have sacrificed time with my husband, my free time, and my mental health to make this transition. Not necessarily because of Ryder, but he helped me overcome this career obstacle that every trainer needs to go through. And going through this fueled my fire to not give up. I am sad and crushed that it had to come to this, but he is at peace now. I have given up sleep on weekdays, and sleeping in on weekends to be able to switch my career and do what I love. I love my husband for being so patient with me, as when I find something I want, I go for it. I can’t stop. It’s a curse, and a blessing.

So I’m still in the process of grieving. But I’m fine, and I’m healthy, and I will be ok.  I really miss him though. Sometimes, when I don’t have any boarding dogs, I feel like he’s at my house in his kennel. I wake up at nighttime sometimes and hear his bark. A few times, I have really thought he was there.

I’m able to talk about him more and more. People who follow me on my blog, or know me in person, people who love great danes, people who have been interested in hearing my progress with my new career… they ask about him. They sympathize and understand. People who have had aggressive dogs or dogs with mental illnesses have reached out and given me their support.

People who know me know this will haunt me for a while. Out of respect, out of love, out of concern, they won’t say anything, but they are thinking it. And I want all of you to know – I’m ok. I will be fine. Sometimes, I’m a rock. Other times, I’m so fragile, just a caring look will break me. Professionally – I am put together and you will not see this while I am working. Putting on this armor sometimes helps me take my mind off of it.

I write this blog and keep a log of how I feel for a few reasons.

1)       I want people to know I’m human too. I succeed, I fail, I feel. Just like everyone else.

2)      I have a mental disorder I have chosen to not be medicated for. I am an emotionally passionate person with bipolar Type II, so when I feel sad or happy, it’s on either side of the spectrum. When I’m sad, I’m devastated. When I’m happy, I’m annoyingly joyful (ask my husband!) I am living with this. It’s a choice I have made that I am proud of. I can do it without medicine.

3)      I want to help people realize they can do whatever they want. I want to train dogs. I’m doing it. I am changing my destiny and improving my quality of life.

4)      I use this as a therapy tool – it helps to put all these feelings somewhere. I choose to make this public. I am not hiding anything. I write about the good, the bad, and sometimes, the funny. Sometimes, it’s personal. Other times, educational. And occasionally, just downright sad. I  write about my journey. This is what my blog is about.

5)      Education. I do occasionally write educational articles on this blog about dog training. Many people can benefit from just reading about what I go through to learn how to better communicate with their canine friends.

6a0133f351a1fb970b0191030616ca970c-500wiSo, in short. Ask me, don’t ask me. Read, don’t read.  Love me or don’t. But if you get anything from the journey I have taken so far, please – get this: Live and be passionate. Life hurts and it knocks you down, and you are MEANT TO FEEL. So feel!! Crying, being sad, being joyful and being angry are all parts of being human. Embrace this, but don’t let it rule you. Get back up after you have been brought down. Don’t let it stop you from being a great person.

Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

Emma

Pendulum

A poem I found that really describes how I feel about the manic behaviors of being bipolar.

I’ve been a huge bitch lately. What is even worse – is that I don’t care. Is that bad? I really just want to curl up in a blanket, and put all the cushions of my couch over me, and pretend like I don’t exist. I just want it all to stop. Let the world keep going while I stop. I just want it all to all fucking end.

I have caused unnecessary fights with my husband. I have picked fights with friends and intentionally upset people. I regret almost every single thing that comes out of my mouth. I feel this way from time to time, but it usually gets better. For the last month or so, every day gets worse and worse. I am now a rude, hateful person.

I’m making mistakes at home, at training, and at my day job. I over analyze everything and read way too much into each little thing someone tells me. I have irrational thinking, mind reading, I’m emotional, and I have selective listening. There are medical terms for all of those things, but basically, I’m depressed.

I feel physical pain when getting up in the morning. I relive every single thing that happened the day before and start to feel sick because I read too much into every interaction I had with a person and pick out my faults. I analyze every bad thing that is happening and read into it to find out why it happened. Because I’m pessimistic and I’m over analyzing and using non-productive thinking patterns, I blame myself.

Between my friends, the fights with my husband, Ryder, things happening at work, correcting a dog not enough or too much… my fault and I just want it all to end. I can’t stop. I’m manic. Now that I actually know what that means.

I have posted this video before, but I felt I needed to post it again. This is a pretty good representation of what it means to have any mental disorder, so I wanted to share it again.

I’m drowning and I can’t get out. I want to throw up, but I can’t. I want it to stop, but it won’t. I want to kill myself, but I won’t do it. I don’t want to continue going through the motions, but I do. Why do I even try? Because I have to. Because I know that it will get better. I know it will because it always does, but I’ll just spike up again. And take on too much, and then I’ll ‘crash’ again. The highs are like mountains, and the lows are like cliffs.

I have a friend who named the ‘down side’ of her bipolar disorder. I told my therapist about this, and she said because I was high functioning and intelligent, I can differentiate between which stage I am in. I have 2 ‘sides’ to every thought I have. A positive thought and a negative thought. Every thought I have, I have these 2 sides having a conversation before I can even make sense of it. It’s exhausting. She said it might help if I name mine as well. So we did.

There are 10 different negative thinking patterns: Mental Filter, Jumping to conclusions, Mind Reading, Fortune-telling, Labeling, Personalization/Blame, “Should have/Would have” statements, Emotional reasoning, magnification, Discounting the positive, over generalization, all-or-nothing thinking.

My therapist picked out the thinking patterns I use the most when I am depressed, and my personality is named:

Emotional Reasoning
Mental Filter
Mind Reading
All or nothing thinking

Go away, Emma.

And here’s a song I was listening to today that really helped me write this blog today.

Questions

Down point again.

I get to an ‘up’ point, and then things start to collapse around me.

I try to stay strong. I put on a suit of fake happiness and try to fake it to make it.

I want to block out the world. I just want to snuggle with my dog.

But I have to power through.  How? I have nothing else to give? I’m empty.

I’m not enough. I don’t know enough. I’m not going fast enough.

I can’t slow down, I’m not allowed.

Everyone depends on me. So I have to stay strong. But how? How can I offer something I don’t have?

It sometimes feels like I haven’t started my life yet… I’m waiting. For what?

How long can I hide it before it’s too much?

bipolar

My therapist says I’m definitely bi-polar. I have a manic-depressive disorder. I feel like I’m on a tightrope. She thinks I’m doing better and can handle it.  When I’m ‘up’ I feel that way too. But now… can I handle this?

When things are ‘up’, I’m able to walk across and be on top of the world. When things are ‘down’, I feel like I might fall off. Then what happens? When I fall, will someone help me pick myself up and get back up there so I can fall again?

“Why do we fall, sir? So we may learn to pick ourselves up.” – Alfred from Batman.

What if I can’t pick myself up again? What will happen?

I have chosen not to be medicated. Why? I don’t know, maybe it’s a social stigma, maybe it’s because I don’t want to accept there is something ‘wrong’ with me. Maybe because I feel I have something to prove.

Why do I feel this way? Why do I want to cry for no reason? Why do I want to separate myself from society? Why do I want to give up, but can’t? It feels like there is a monster in me, tearing me apart from the inside so it can get out. What happens if it does?

Me

Misdiagnosed

I saw my therapist today. I like her, she asks a lot of questions, and she really is qualified to help me unlike that other therapist. However, today was one of the most emotional days I have had in a while. Ups and downs, and then some news that I have been misdiagnosed all these years.

In Grade 2, I was diagnosed with ADHD. That was about 20 years ago. I didn’t know what that meant, all I knew was that my brain functioned at a higher level than everyone else’s. My brain thought faster.

Turns out, I DO NOT have ADHD, or I have this along with another mental illness: Bipolar Disorder Type II or Cyclothymia.  Both of these disorders are manic depression disorders that affect the mood.  My therapist is trying to figure out which disorder I have, but I don’t just have major depression (aka chronic depression), OCD and/or ADHD behaviors. I could also have obsessive compulsive habits, which many people have told me I do, but I would like a proper diagnosis. See, I was misdiagnosed before with chronic depression. Apparently, that is not the case.

I had an emotional day, and I’m ready to just collapse in a heap of confusion with my big yellow boy.

SilkFlowers

4-12-13 Here are some silk flowers I found at my therapist’s office

Oh, before I jump off – I found this poem on Darcy’s blog and it really describes how I feel sometimes. I sometimes have to fake it to make it.

I quite like myself
slouched over a television with a broken remote,
pale skin alive with glowing colors
at 3:33 in the morning

I think I am at my best
when I am hovered
over the kitchen sink just after dark
running hot water
over my raw fingers

I feel great
when I am sprawled across my bed
crying before I even wake up
sun pushing, unwanted,
through a dirty window

I am very happy with who I am
I say aloud in the car
all alone
while I consider driving into a tree
I am very happy with who I am

 

What is In Dog Food?

dogfoodIn the wild, do dogs dig up dog food from the ground? Do they eat little bits of kibble that fall off trees? What about ‘kibble plants’? No, they don’t. They eat meat. They eat organs. And they eat bones. Raw animal protein, sinew, and muscle. So, why does dog food include things like grain, vegetables, and chicken beaks?

Because the commercial dog food industry is cheap… and deceiving   They can get away with it, and put the minimal amounts of protein to satisfy the FDA. Most dog foods are NOT USDAA approved. They don’t need to be. What does this mean, you ask? Well, that means our animals are eating CRAP sold by the pet stores, by the top dog food companies. I.e. Science Diet, IAMS, Eukanuba, Purina, etc. They put these attractive pictures on the bag and say ‘nutritionally balanced’… which they are not. They put vegetables, wheat, and pictures of cut meat on the bag to make them look ‘balanced’ and ‘healthy’. It’s a lie.

Ingredients

Ingredients in a standard bag of dog food.

They have grain, and they all have something in their ingredients called ‘meal’ or ‘byproduct’. What is that? ‘Chicken byproduct’. I’ll tell you what this is. It’s beaks, chicken feet, eyes, diseased dead chickens. The chickens found in factory farms who have been dead for months. Cows who have had mad cow disease. It gets worse: Your pets, who you have euthanized trustingly at your vet clinic are put into dog food. Roadkill found on the side of the road – dogs, deer, birds, skunks, anything they can find.  That’s the main ingredient in most commercial dog foods.

What about the grain, the fillers? Sawdust and trash that has been swept up from the ground is put into dog food. Grain – dogs can’t process this, and it just stays on their teeth, causing tooth decay, gingivitis, tarter and plaque… gum cancer, and tooth extractions. Internally, it’s a filler, it just sits in the stomach and then passes through. Dogs get zero nutrition from that part of the food. It causes obesity, over-eating, allergies, death, skin and coat conditions, ear infections, eye problems, excess waste (poop), and causes behavioral concerns.

There are good kibbles out there… you just have to know what to look for. I recommend Nature’s Domain (from Costco – a Kirkland brand), Taste of the Wild, Stella and Chewy’s, Merrick’s, Blue Buffalo, Grandma Lucy’s dog food, Wellness Core (Grain free), Acana, or EVO. There are many others, but I highly recommend Nature’s Domain, Grandma Lucy’s, and Taste of the Wild. I have also used Stella and Chewy’s in the past, but it’s not the cheapest food out there.

Pedigree

Deceiving packaging

Why does your veterinarian recommend Science Diet, IAMS or other foods? One word: COMMISSION. They get commission off of selling certain foods. Many veterinarians do not study nutrition. They study medicine. If your dog gets hurt, yes you should see a veterinarian. However, if you want what is best for your dog nutritionally, you should speak to a more holistic vet, or do your own research on what ingredients are good/bad for your dog. Since I am interested in training, and food changes behavior, I have learned about nutrition and what is the best possible thing to do for your animals.  I have found a more holistic vet, whom I trust fully with the health of my animals, and he agrees with how I am raising them. Find a vet who you trust, who you can ask questions about nutrition, and who aren’t in it for the money.

Treats

freeze-driedWhat about treats? I don’t give my dog any treats (more because he’s really food motivated, and I am trying to teach him to calm down.). Most treats in the pet store have grain, meat meal/byproduct, or excess sugar. I like to use freeze-dried meat as training treats, or just as a special treat whenever (again, not with my dog, specifically). You can buy freeze-dried treats at the pet store, usually in a tub. I also use cooked hot dogs (never raw, dogs can get bacteria listeria from raw hot dogs), bits of chicken, bits of apple or cheese (careful with this one, can cause diarrhea). Some dogs even go for ice cubes (mine does).

Raw feeding

I have begun feeding raw with my 8 year old dog (around 7 months ago) and I see a tremendous change in his behavior, in his health, and in his mouth.
-No more bad breath. NONE, his breath is nice and ‘puppy like’.
-Coat is shinier, skin isn’t flaky anymore.
-Ear infections – he’s prone to them, he’s a lab. His ears are cleaner, but still gets them.
-Eyes are clearer
-Nails don’t break or split as easily.
-More energy (sometimes this is a bad thing).
-Weight – easier to maintain a healthy weight
-Cost is about the same as what I was paying before, but with less vet visits. This is a plus.
-Teeth are nice and white, clean and no tarter build up at all. I no longer get dental cleanings (his last one was over a year ago, and we won’t be getting them anymore).
-He eats less raw food than he ever ate kibble (and if your dog/cat is on a higher quality kibble or raw, they will eat less too)
-Less poop. You would think I have a little dog, not a 90lb big pooper! haha.

So, what do I feed him? Raw meat, organs, supplements, and bones. On any given day, this is his diet.

-1 raw egg. Shell and all.  (great for coat, skin, and digestive system)
-4 salmon oil liquid gels. (for skin, coat, ear/eye health)
-3 tables of Canine Plus vitamin and mineral supplements (enzyme supplement, and completes the nutrition when I don’t have organs)
-1 lb of raw meat I get from the butcher (usually it’s venison and beef. Sometimes I also supplement with raw chicken if I can find some on sale. I’ll prepare the chicken and give him parts of it. Wings, Ribs, etc)
-When I have some (hard to find) organs. He LOVES hearts, lungs, and kidneys. He won’t eat liver.
-When I have some (around Thanksgiving/Christmas), necks from turkeys/chickens.

He also gets a marrow bone weekly. He takes about a week to get it to the point where it needs to be thrown away.  NO TREATS or Rawhides(unless we get some as a gift, which is occasional, but it takes months to go through them).

Bones? Haven’t you heard somewhere you aren’t supposed to give dogs bones? Well, you can, and they should have them! Don’t cook the bones though – they will splinter and can cause choking or internal damage. I give marrow bones as a treat, chew toy. He has one outside all the time, and in his kennel. Marrow bones are disgusting, so he only gets them outside or in a confined space.

Napoleon eating a Raw Marrow bone

Napoleon eating a raw bone with meat on it

There are lots of great places to find out more about raw feeding if you are interested. Here are some sources I scoured before actually making the switch.

Raw Fed Dogs
B.A.R.F. Diet
Whole Dog Journal
The Whole Dog
(This book)
(This book)
(This book)
And many other sources, you can do your own research, but also talk to trainers in your area about feeding raw.

Next time… The Danger of Vaccinations!