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Dog Food

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I now have a love/hate relationship with PetSmart. On one hand, they do have a lot of dog products and services. I love that I can pay PetSmart to clip Shelby's nails. She squirms and whines when we try to do it, so it's worth the 8 bucks. On the other hand, whenever I bring Shelby with me, I am always approached by people selling their brand of dog food, or puppy classes, or whatever. It gets tiresome. We don't bring Shelby with us to PetSmart anymore because we're sick of people hawking their product on us. The last time we went, dog food reps approached us, and we conversed about how terribly Steven and I are feeding Shelby. Ugh.

But this did get me thinking. I should pay more attention to what Shelby eats. So I did some research on the Web. By and large, there seem to be an awful lot of sites that push one brand of dog food over another. I was looking for a non-partial view when I found this site. http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/dogfoods.html

I like that the site does not recommend one food over another, but rather it provides resources so that you can decipher dog food ingredients, and decide for yourself. I now choose Shelby's food with more confidence, since I am better informed on what is good for her. Shelby gets a mixture of wet and dry food twice a day. I was pleased with her dry food ingredients, but I switched to a higher quality wet food.

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And of course, Shelby won't eat it. She seemed to really like it for about a week. Now she won't touch it.
This is the same puppy who loves eating the stuffing inside her toys, chewing dog litter, and enthusiastically tasted horse poop. Go figure.

May 31, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (18)

The athletic pug

I'm quite suprised how athletic Shelby is. I read a lot about how pugs don't need that much exercise, and therefore assumed that they weren't strong dogs. Shelby is quite strong. But she overheats so quickly because of her short snout that I wouldn't describe her as having "endurance." She's more of a sprinter. Sometimes, Steven has taken her jogging with him on the trail. He gives her walking breaks and water breaks, and Shelby keeps up pretty well for about 2-3 miles.

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Here is a camera phone photo of Shelby walking up a hill with us on Memorial Day weekend. It was pretty hot, so we kept the walk quite short. Shelby had a good time, but as you can see she's panting to keep herself cool. We kept an eye on the hawks to make sure none of them had an eye on Shelby.

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Afterwards she was quite tired, and found a spot in the sun to take a nap.

May 30, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Roomba vs. Shelby — A Roomba Product Review

We've had Roomba for about 2 weeks now. We've used just about every other day to help deal with Shelby's fur. Here are some first impressions.

The first time
Roomba's instructions are easy enough to understand. Unfortunately it takes 12 hours to charge. There is a quick charger, but it's a separate purchase. (And we didn't buy it.) 12 hours later, we gave Roomba its first run. It needs to be watched the first time so that we can evaluate any trouble spots where Roomba might get stuck. After that, it doesn't need supervision. In general I was impressed. It doesn't fall off stairs, and I saw it lift itself off if a wire tube furniture leg when it high-centered. We moved chairs out of the room so that it could get around everything. We did find that Roomba's power swtich was the exact same height as one of our door stops, and as a result Roomba would turn itself off accidentally. Luckily, Roomba comes with a little "virtual wall" module that let's you seal off a room. So we seal off that door stop when Roomba is at work. The module takes batteries, which are not included.

How well does it vacuum?
We set Roomba loose on the dining room, which has not been vacuumed well in about 6 months. (Some of this dirt and dust has been here so long that it should be paying rent.) It came back with a dirt bin full of hair, dust, and other crap. I then set it loose again on the same room immediately after. It pulled in less, but there was more dirt and hair. I set it loose a third time. This time it pulled in significantly less hair and dust. About 1/3 the amount of the first session. I haven't had time to compare this to other vacuums. I mean, why doesn't it get everything the first time around? We're willing to forgive this, since
Roomba's low profile means it gets under things that haven't been vacuumed in years. This is great! We saw it go under the curio, and it almost made it under the couch. We shimmied up the couch so it would go underneath.

Maintaining Roomba. Roomba needs to be emptied after each room. It's dirt/dust container is small. Ths air filter is also pretty small. There are 3 areas that need to be emptied. The dirt container is separated into two compartments, and occasionally, stuff gets sucked into the lower tray. It sound like a pain, but it's not hard. The directions recommend that we remove foreign items from the brushes as well, but we haven't found any yet. For as much hair that Roomba is picking up, I find this remarkable.

Battery Life. The battery life is OK. Not great, not lousy. Just OK. Roomba has done up to 3 large rooms before running out of batteries, so for us, it cannot do the whole house on one charge, but it can do one floor. That means it will take 12 hours before we can vacuum the second story.
We have low-pile berber carpet and wood floors. Roomba's instructions say that it works best on low-pile carpet, and not at all on a high shag carpet. The higher the pile, the fewer rooms it can clean on one charge.

Durability. I can't say much about this yet, since we've only had it two weeks. So far so good. Nothing's broken. Parts of it do feel cheaper that on a standard vacuum, but that might be due to its small size.

Noise. Roomba is not as noisy as a standard vacuum, thouth I wouldn't try to watch TV or listen to the radio with it running. It's about as loud as my dishwasher.

What is Roomba good for?
You'll have to decide if Roomba is right for you. The ideal situation for Roomba would be a low-pile carpet or smooth floor (wood, laminate etc.). Do a good cleaning with your vacuum, or even better, a carpet cleaning. Then use Roomba for maintenance cleaning. For example, set Roomba loose on the first floor on Mondays, and the second floor on Tuesdays, letting Roomba charge for 12 hours inbetween. Keep a small vacuum around for times when Roomba is charging, or for emergency spills. Since Shelby sheds constantly, Roomba has worked out very well for us. It takes care of all the vacuum maintenance with no supervision required. Shelby has stopped barking at it, and doesn't appear alarmed when Roomba is doing its thing.

By the way, no one paid me to review Roomba. I paid $200 at Target, but found it cheaper online.

May 24, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Shedding

I mentioned before that Shelby sheds. Now that summer is upon us, Shelby seems more like she is molting. I cannot believe the amount of fur that comes off this pup.

I'm still waiting to see if there is a noticible difference between standard puppy shampoo, and shed-preventing shampoo. I am also using the Kong Zoom Groom brush, which takes off a lot of loose fur. It was very clear, that we also needed more regular vacuuming. It's time consuming. Steven and I both hate it. So we went to buy a new vacuum, and came home with Roomba.

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Shelby hates Roomba as much as any other vacuum. I don't think she likes Roomba's erratic movements. We placed a large bacon treat on top of Roomba, to get them to "be friends." Or at least to "quit barking." She did stop barking, but she still doesn't like it. However, we didn't buy Roomba to make Shelby happy.

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The proof is in the dirt tray. 90% Shelby hair. 10% other gross stuff. This photo was taken after vacuuming the kitchen and family room. We later unleashed Roomba in the dining room and got similar results.

I'm not pleased with Roomba's charge time (12 hrs), and it's a bit more expensive that a standard vacuum (~$200). (Black and Decker has a competing model that costs $99.) It comes with a 90 day warranty, so we plan to use it a lot during the first 3 months to test its durability. If it sounds like I'm being critical, it's just because I don't want this to seem like a product endorsement. It's far too soon to tell if Roomba was a good purchase, but Steven and I agree, Roomba has the potential to save us from being buried in Shelby's fur this summer.

May 17, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (50)

Teething

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Shelby got a bath this weekend. I tried a new shampoo that supposedly reduces shedding. It contains Omega 3 oils and antioxidents. I'm a bit skeptical because I've always thought that preventing shedding had to do with internal factors. However, at less than 4 bucks, I figured it was worth a try. Shelby doesn't care for the bath part, but she loves wrestling the towel afterwards. I was drying her off when I stepped on something that felt like a pebble.

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Shelby lost a molar! Steven and I have noticed that she's been losing teeth, but we haven't successfully saved one until now.

I've heard nightmare stories about how bad the teething process can be, but Shelby's teething has not been traumatic for her, us, or the furniture. We couldn't tell she was teething until we noticed some bloody chew toys. Otherwise, her behavior remains the same. She chews as much as she ever did, and more importantly, she chews her toys only.

May 17, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (8)

A salty dog

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Shelby had her first visit to the beach today. We went with her friend Mocha. She loved it. There were other dogs, and some horses to meet on the beach. Shelby's first act was to taste a big lump of horse poop. Gross!

It was the most exercise she's had in a while. We played fetch-the-ball. Mocha's a faster bigger dog, so mostly Shelby chased Mocha, who chased the ball. A couple times Shelby got brave and decided to take on a wave. Luckily, she wasn't "stupid brave." She was soaked, but we never had to rescue her from the water.

Coming back, we realized she had enough sand under the eyelids, to fill a contact lens. If there's any question of how this happened, check out the pictures of her digging in the sand. She didn't rub her eyes; in fact it didn't seemed to bother her at all. So no harm done. We used a baby's ear syringe and flushed all the sand of her eyes.

She smelled like a sea puppy after the trip, which smells like a combination of salt water and puppy food. See the photo album for more pictures of her first day at the beach.

May 8, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2)

5 months old — A review

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Shelby is now 5 months old. I figure now's as good a time as any to review her life thus far.

She has learned the commands sit, down, stay, come, and shake. She will heel only when she's not distracted.

She has had all her puppy shots including rabies, and has a new tag to prove it.

Thus far, she costs about $120 per month to raise. A lot of this is initial puppy start-up costs. We had nothing for a puppy, so that meant: toys, a crate, bedding, a pen, vet visits, and medicine (Heartguard and Frontline). It also includes AKC registration. Food really isn't that costly but snacks can be. Now that we have bought mostly everything she needs, I expect that the monthly expenses to drop. But I notice that she has worn out or outgrown some of the items, so they will need replacing. This does not include the cost of buying Shelby, which was approximately $200/lbs.

She's barking more. Not excessively, but as she grows more confident of her surroundings, she is more certain that certain noises, people, and objects are out of place. The other day she barked at some teenagers walking along the sidewalk. I wasn't amused.

She begs less. Sometimes we even get a peacful meal where she just sits at our feet.

She licks just as much as she used to.

She nips a lot less.

She still refuses to wear her Doggles.

She's teething now. Though it's really not as bad as I thought it would be. I was playing with her this weekend and noticed that her mouth was bleeding a little, so I looked in her mouth, and sure enough a tooth had fallen out. I thought it would be great to save one, but I can't ever find the lost teeth. Where do these things go?

She sheds more than I thought possible. I bought a new shedding brush that works amazingly well. Bless the Kong Zoom Groom; it is amazing. Shelby is sitting in a pile of her own fur when I brush her with this thing.

She's still distraught when she's left alone. Through the wonders of technology we now know what Shelby does when left alone. I penned up Shelby and gave her a treat bag with a Beggin' Strip (which she loves) in it. Steven watched her via Webcam while I left. Upon leaving, Shelby immediately started barking, and then pooped. She then continued barking for about 5 minutes, until she sat down and waited for me to come back. We're going to have to get smarter about solving this issue.

She is pretty much house-trained, meaning she has control, and she knows where she is supposed to "go potty." Any wayward poops at this point are clearly a political statement.

Shelby has taken a test ride on the motorcycle to see if she enjoys it, and she didn't seem to mind. I have ordered a backpack carrier for her so we can bring her on short trips on the bike.

May 4, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (5)