If you would not eat it, why should they?!?!? Think about this statement for a minute. Really think about. Take it in. Do you know what you are feeding your dogs? We do. We both know it and fully understand it, but we didn’t always make the best nutrition decisions for our dogs. It was not until 2004, when I lost 4 dogs to cancer and illness back-to-back that I started to educate myself, join forums and topic lists, attend workshops, READ LABELS, etc. We encourage anyone with pets to go through this same “soul-searching” of sorts and truly challenge themselves to learn about canine nutrition and wellness.
Back in October, we posted a blog entry about canine nutrition and specifics about how we feed our dogs. Since then, there have been some major changes in our feeding regimen at home and some new articles have been released. Since we are pretty big into nutrition, for not just ourselves, but also our furkids, we thought we would repost the entry with some updates. It’s amazing how many times per week we get questions about what we feed our dogs, so we feel this repost is long overdue.
While struggling with finding the right food for Luna, Mouse and Orso the last few months, we bounced around quite a bit. We went from Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed to Fromm Family Gold Large Breed to Precise Holistic Complete Large Breed to Red Barn Rolls to where we are today with Orijen Adult Dog Food. All of these foods are excellent and contain human grade ingredients, but none of them were working out for us until we switched to Orijen. We seriously considered transitioning everyone to a RAW diet but decided against it since we travel with (and without) Orso way too often to feed RAW. RAW diets are not easy on the road and creates a mission for our dogsitter. Instead, we decided on a food that is the closest we can come to RAW without the mission of feeding RAW. We are now feeding Orijen Adult to all of the dogs and are THRILLED with the results. No one is leaving food behind, we are seeing enthusiasm at feeding time, stools are reduced in size and are firmer and all the dogs look amazing!
According to Orijen’s website, this is what they had to say about the food we selected for Luna, Mouse & Orso: “BY NATURE, DOGS OF ALL BREEDS AND SIZES ARE EVOLVED AS CARNIVORES — BIOLOGICALLY ADAPTED FOR A DIET RICH AND VARIED IN FRESH MEATS, WITH SMALLER AMOUNTS OF FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND GRASSES. Formulated to match your dog’s natural diet, ORIJEN ADULT is loaded with the protein-packed meat ingredients (80%) that Mother Nature intended all dogs to eat — including free-run chicken and turkey, whole eggs and wild-caught fish that are farmed or fished within our region by people we know and trust. Passed ‘fit for human consumption’ ORIJEN’s regional ingredients are delivered FRESH EACH DAY, so they’re never frozen, preservative-free, and bursting with unprocessed, biologically appropriate proteins and fats to nourish your dog completely. Carbohydrate-limited and grain-free to replicate the natural diet, ORIJEN supplies a full 20% of regional fruits, vegetables and botanicals — including kelp, juniper berries and marigold flowers — that are naturally rich in phytonutrients, B-vitamins and essential trace minerals. Made with pride in our award-winning factory here in Alberta, Canada, ORIJEN ADULT keeps your dog healthy, happy and strong.”
Basically, it comes down to this – if WE wouldn’t eat it, why should our dogs eat it? With regard to supplementation, only Orso is given additional supplements with his food. Orso travels a lot with us and he is under more stress than the other dogs, so he gets some extra stuff in his food to help him stay strong and healthy. He gets 6000mg of fish oil daily, which works out to 3 softgels with breakfast and 3 softgels with dinner. This helps with cardiac and vascular health and helps keep his coat shiny and healthy. He also gets his recommended daily servings – split between breakfast and dinner – of 3 different products that Nature’s Farmacy makes: Dogzymes Ultimate, Dogzymes Digestive Enhancer and Dogzymes Phyto-Flex. Dogzymes Ultimate is a supplement that contains necessary vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and essential amino acids with no preservatives or additives, no added sodium or sugar. Dogzymes Digestive Enhancer is an egg based digestive bacteria and enzyme product that contains the highest levels of 5 beneficial bacteria types and 6 enzymes, making it the most complete digestive product on the market. Dogzymes Phyto-Flex is a bone & joint formula that contains an exclusive herb package for maximum nutritional support of bones, joints and connective tissue, making it ideal for the geriatric dog, agility dog or puppies.
Every once in a while, we add egg yolks, canned pumpkin, plain yogurt or cottage cheese to their food. We also often substitute an entire meal with RAW food, whether its chicken backs, necks, quarter legs, meaty bones, anything with substance that would be a suitable replacement for a meal. It’s important to remember that this is served RAW! Don’t cook it! We also give fruit and raw veggies every once in a while.
For treats, we also try to buy snacks for them that are in line with our feeding philosophy – all natural, human grade ingredients, grain free, etc. In the show ring, we bait Orso with either sliced Natural Balance Rolls or plain baked chicken breast meat.
Although Luna, Mouse & Orso’s diets may have changed, there are still some basic things that haven’t changed around here. We still rely heavily on the The Whole Dog Journal, an online resource and publication that is very informative with regard to proper care for pets, including annual recommendations of human grade dog food. As an example of the great stuff The Whole Dog Journal publishes, click here to read to read an article from February 2010 about how to pick the right food for your dog and click here for their 2010 list of recommended dry dog food.
If dog nutrition and holistic wellness are topics that seriously interest you, you can get a realistic and unbiased glimpse of what really goes into commercial pet food, including “4D” meat, which means the animals used in the food are dying, dead, diseased or disabled (this also includes the use of household euthanized pets), by reading this book: Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food, by Ann N. Martin.
I have made decisions about our dogs’ wellness routine, which includes nutrition, vaccination and supplementation, based on research and help from professionals well-versed in canine nutrition and wellness, such as veterinarians and licensed experts on this topic. Vaccines and disease have been linked. Traditional commercial pet food and disease have been linked. Low quality supplements and disease have been linked. All of our decisions are driven by research. There is a plethora of information on the internet, which makes educating yourself very difficult and confusing. Also, the marketing dollars spent by most of the big-name commercial dog food companies, such as Iams, Purina & Science Diet, make it very attractive to believe that your pet is receiving top quality pet food – research and investigative reporting strongly indicate otherwise. You owe it to your most loyal friends – your dogs – to educate yourself and make a feeding decision for your dogs that will help them live long and healthy lives. Happy learning!
On June 3rd, Orso and I are heading to Dayton, Ohio for the 2nd Annual SACCI (Society in America for Cane Corso Italiano) National Dog Shows. According to SACCI, this event “…will be the largest gathering of Cane Corso enthusiasts in the United States in 2011. With five conformation shows including four Italian Judges and ten Working Events plus breed seminars there will be tons of fun for everyone.” The event will be held on June 5th and June 6th and from what we heard through the grapevine, there will be over 70 Corsi there!
Over the course of 2 days, there will be five conformation dog shows in which Orso will be competing with professional handler Ashley Cuzzolino, who also handles GR CH PrideNJoyz Afterglow. The judges for the shows, who include four Italian judges, are all very well-respected in the Cane Corso community. The judges are as follows: Dr. Pierluigi Scalia, Mr. Danilo Giorgio, Mr. Daniel Rosa, Mr. Roberto Giannuli and Mr. Alessandro Bigozzi.
Along with the conformation shows, the 2-day event will have plenty of working events that Orso is entered in, specifically Working Dog Evaluation (WDE), Deterrent Dog (DD), CAL1, Weight Pulling and Lunge. It will be Orso’s first time participating in a working event and we know it’s going to be a wonderful experience.
Needless to say, we are very excited about attending this event because it will be more than your traditional dog show beauty pageant. We get to see Orso participate in some very cool working events and demonstrate to us what he was bred to do – WORK!
Every few weeks, the remnants of once-new toys are gathered from throughout our house and discarded. We rummage through all the bedrooms, bathrooms and our dogs’ favorite hiding places to make sure that nothing is left behind. Toys are inspected and either kept for future bouts of destruction or tossed due to irreparable damage. Naturally, we have to replace these toys, especially the tug toys that seem to bear the brunt of the abuse and dismemberment around here.
Several days ago was “online doggie toy replenishment day” and we ordered a bunch of stuff online for Orso, Luna & Mouse. Today, I got home from the gym to find a large box sitting on the kitchen counter filled with what will be next week’s destroyed toys, LOL. Below are some of the goodies that our furkids got in today’s shipment, enjoy!
BEATING THE HEAT! – 05.21.2011
May in Miami brings with it incredible heat and humidity and it only gets worse from here. At times, it gets so steamy outside that it’s unbearable and it feels as though the air is smothering you. Because of this, I had already started to practice Orso’s trotting at strange hours when there was no sun out. We had found that this practice wasn’t really working too well because his feeding schedule was getting thrown off. To beat the heat around here, we have decided to teach Orso how to use the treadmill. I am lucky enough to own a gym, which means finding a treadmill for Orso was easy and he took to it so easily. He was unsure at first and I treated him for smelling it and standing on it. We left the motor running for a little while so he would get used to the sound. Within minutes, we managed to get him on it at a walk just to familiarize himself with the feeling of the belt below him.
Below is a video clip of Orso’s absolute first time on a treadmill. The clip is about 5 minutes long. Orso is a brave dog, very confident and does not need too much coaxing to try new stuff! Enjoy!
ORSO TAKES BEST OF BREED & BEST OF WINNERS IN PERRY, GEORGIA, UNDER JUDGE MR. BURTON YAMADA WITH HANDLER DANIEL SANCHEZ – 05.15.2011
Leading up to this past show weekend, we had entered the Ft. Myers, Florida and Perry, Georgia shows. No event announcement was posted because we did not know where we were going until literally the very last minute. We finally decided to take Orso back to Perry, Georgia, for 4 days of showing with the Columbus Kennel Club, Inc., the Southeast Alabama Kennel Club, Inc. and the Macon Kennel Club, Inc.
We dropped in on Henderson Village again, the most amazing B&B around, and were assigned to an outstanding stand alone cabin! It was huge with its own front AND back patio! Orso, like last time he visited Henderson Village, spent a considerable amount of time lounging in bed with us, see photo below.
On to the shows… The first three days of shows were rough for us, but day four was a blissful way to end the trip. Orso took first place in his age group and then took Reserve Winners each day. On the fourth day, Orso was taken into the ring by long-time working dog Handler Daniel Sanchez and won first place in his age group, Winners Dog, Best of Winners AND Best of Breed, getting us closer to finishing Orso’s AKC Championship! We were very excited to see how well Danny and Orso got along! They had worked together once when Orso was a 4 1/2 month old puppy and I even posted a blog entry about it on November 1st, 2010. To revisit this post, click here.
Below are the professional show photos from Sunday with Judge Mr. Burton Yamada. Many thanks to Judge Mr. Yamada and, of course, to Daniel Sanchez and Vanessa Lanz-Sanchez of Vandas Kennel for a wonderful beginning to what I anticipate will be a long and successful relationship as Orso’s new show handling team. We also want to thank Sheila Lieberman of Loving Obedience Dog Training for having introduced us to Danny and Vanessa last year.
Another cool thing that happened this show weekend is that Orso got to meet a half-sister of his! I had the pleasure of meeting Gina Dilello and her beautiful female Corso, Mar e Sol’s Zenyatta, who is almost 2 years old. She is the daughter of Saggio, who is also Orso’s dad, and Ramona. Below is a photo of Orso (horribly stacked by yours truly) with his half-sister Zenyatta. Great to meet you, Gina!
From left to right: Gus Quevedo (Former Co-Owner), Judge David Swartwood, Judge Thomas Nesbitt, Judge Emma Jean Stevenson, Handler Jessie Herzon, Judge Steve Dainard, Owner Yvonne Alemán
Dead center: Orso the Cane Corso!
LUNA, MOUSE & ORSO FINALLY GET “THEIR” NEW SECTIONAL SOFA DELIVERED – 05.10.2011
After our little “accident” in December where one of the cushions of our previous sectional tore on the seam, we were on a perpetual mission trying to find a new sectional that would (1) NOT be high quality leather – try telling a furniture sales person that you are shopping for furniture for your dogs’ family room; (2) would fit in the family room; and (3) would provide ample seating for everyone, not just the furkids! We finally found something we liked and it was delivered today! The dogs LOVE it! Can you tell???!!
Well, maybe not, but it was a cute heading! In honor of Mother’s Day a couple of days ago, Grandma Mariela “helped” Orso write a letter to me in Spanish thanking me for everything I do for him. It was VERY sweet and cute! Below is what Grandma Mariela & Orso wrote to me – it’s in Spanish, so I included an English translation under the original message:
“Grácias mamá Yvo, grácias papá, porque ustedes me han cuidado y han demostrado su amor por mi, pero lo más importante, me han educado. Soy algo diferente a la gran mayoria de perros, aquellos que no han tenido la suerte mia de tener unos padres tan especiales. Yo hago lo mejor que puedo en cada show, porque han confiado en mi y abanico mi colita para dejarles saber cuanto les quiero. Los premios son de ustedes y mi campeonato es el de ustedes, nada hubiera podido lograr sin el esfuerzo y el sacrificio de mis padres adoptivos, y si alguna vez no me he portado muy bien, recuerden que solo tengo unos meses. Les regalo mi fidelidad incondicional y hasta mis travesuras. Besos, ORSO”
“Thank you, momma Yvo, thank you poppa, because you have cared for me and have demonstrated your love for me, but most importantly, you have taught me manners. I am very different than most dogs because there are many who have not been fortunate enough to have such special parents. I do the best I can at every show because you trust in me to do so and I wag my tail to let you know that I love you. The ribbons and medals I win are dedicated to you, as is my championship, since none of it would have happened without the efforts and sacrifice of my human parents. If I have ever misbehaved, remember that I am only a few months old. I give you my unconditional loyalty and even my mischief. Kisses, ORSO”
After a couple of very long show days, we decided to spend the night and drive home today. We took our time getting organized and finally left Orlando close to mid-day. On our way out, we stopped at a BBQ place for some lunch. Mouse and Luna stayed sleeping in the cargo van in their crates – with the A/C turned on, of course – and Orso hung out with us by our picnic table, see below.
After lunch, we headed over to meet with 2 wonderful ladies to get Orso his own Kool Koat! After working so hard this weekend, we figured he deserved to be pampered with his own apparel. We had it embroidered with his name and everything! Once we finished up there, we were on the road back home. It was great to drive home in silence. The dogs were all so tired from the weekend that they didn’t make a peep. They all snored the whole way back to Miami, see below.
Day two of showing started bright and early for us with an 8am ring time. Ouch. Our judge for the 3rd of 4 shows was UCI International & Canadian Judge Mr. Thomas Nesbitt. He awarded Orso an SG1 rating and Best of Breed. Orso earned his National Champion title with this 3rd SG1 rating! How exciting! 10 months old and already a conformation champion! He went in to the Working Group Puppy Class and Mr. Nesbitt awarded him group first out of 13 dogs! Wow, what an honor! Orso would have another chance at Best in Show later in the day! We are thankful to both Judge Mr. Thomas Nesbitt and Jessie Herzon, Orso’s handler, for this great win!
Below are some of our favorite photos of the morning, enjoy!
To read what Mr. Nesbitt had to say about Orso, click here for his written critique.
Show two of the day also went very well for Orso. Our judge for the 4th of 4 shows was Canadian Judge Mr. David Swartwood. He awarded Orso an SG1 rating and Best of Breed. Orso went back in for Working Group Puppy Class and took group 2nd place; Judge Swartwood later commented to me that he wanted to place him 1st in the working group class but Orso acted up at the end of the showing and blew it, LOL. Having earned this 4th SG1 rating meant that Orso is now an International Champion. How awesome is that?!? A ton of thanks go to Jessie for rocking the ring with Orso this afternoon and to Judge Swartwood for issuing Orso’s 4th rating to complete his International Champion requirements!
Unfortunately, my camera decided it didn’t want to cooperate while Orso was in the ring with Mr. Swartwood but it came back to life for the group class. Below are some of our favorite photos of the afternoon, enjoy!
To read what Mr. Swartwood had to say about Orso, click here for his written critique.
ORSO TAKES BEST IN SHOW PUPPY UNDER JUDGES MR. STEVE DAINARD & MR. DAVID SWARTWOOD – 05.08.2011
Our last experience of the show day was amazing! Orso had taken group first in the morning and went back into the ring to compete for Best in Show Puppy. I was so nervous. He did so well! The judges awarded him Best in Show Puppy and I almost passed out – Mr. Dainard and Mr. Swartwood, thank you for such a great honor! I even let out a little scream from all the excitement! Everyone was clapping; it was great. Orso was so overcome from all the excitement that he tried to eat his Best in Show rosette! Below is the sequence of pictures leading up to him trying to eat his well-earned beautiful ribbon!
We want to thank our handler, Jessie Herzon, for working so perfectly with Orso this weekend. The show days were very long and exhausting and she was a total trooper. We also want to thank all the great judges that Orso showed under. All of you were wonderful and took the time to learn about and truly understand the Cane Corso breed. We also want to thank Drew Alderson and his team for being an incredible Superintendent for the shows and taking care of every last detail. IABCA puts on an excellent event and we highly recommend it for anyone who shows dogs. The experience was invaluable.
Below are some of our favorite photos from the Best in Show judging, along with some photos of Orso hanging out before the show, and of course, I have included the shots of Orso trying to eat his rosette. Professional show photos will be posted as soon as we receive them. Enjoy!
This morning’s dog show was a huge success for Orso. We didn’t know what to expect since we are accustomed to the traditional AKC-type dog shows, so we just allowed Jessie Herzon, Orso’s handler, to guide us through the morning. We knew we had to be ringside at around 8:30am but that was about it. We were staying at the Orlando Sun Resort & Convention Center, which was conveniently where the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA) dog shows were being held. It was great to just wake up and walk to the show location! It was especially convenient since we had Luna & Mouse with us. Like we do at all the shows, we set up our soft crate and all of Orso’s show things. We followed our usual routine and showed up about 45 minutes before ring call to allow Orso a little settling down time in his crate. When it was finally time to report for our breed’s time, we headed over to our designated show ring with Jessie.
It was very cool to see how the show was organized. Each dog goes into the ring alone for his evaluation where he is judged against the standard. After individual evaluations are done, the dogs all go back in to the ring together to get ranked against each other. Our judge for the 1st of 4 shows was Canadian Judge Mr. Steve Dainard. He awarded Orso an SG1 rating, which is the highest rating that can be awarded to a dog showing in Orso’s age group. In order to be awarded a National Champion title, Orso needs three SG1 ratings this weekend. Four SG1 ratings will earn him a National and International Champion titles. Orso then took Best of Breed and went in to show in the Working Group Class. Mr. Dainard placed Orso first in his group out of 13 dogs! What an amazing moment this was for us! So special! Orso had the opportunity to go back in the ring later to compete for Best in Show and he behaved wonderfully! He didn’t win Best in Show but he managed to win the hearts of many of the spectators. Jessie did a great job with Orso this morning. Below are some of our favorite photos of the morning, enjoy!
To read what Mr. Dainard had to say about Orso, click here for his written critique.
Show two of the day was also a great success for Orso. Our judge for the 2nd of 4 shows was UCI International & American Judge Ms. Alice Bixler. She awarded Orso an SG1 rating and Best of Breed. He went in for Working Group Class but did not win the group class. Orso now has two SG1 ratings of the three required for his National Champion title and of the four required for his International Champion title! Yay, Orso! And many thanks to Jessie for doing such a wonderful job with Orso today. It was a long day for everyone. We started at just after 8am and did not finish at the show until after 6pm. Below are some of our favorite photos of the afternoon, enjoy!
To read what Ms. Bixler had to say about Orso, click here for her written critique.
PROFESSIONAL PHOTO FROM ORSO’S 1ST PLACE WIN IN WORKING GROUP PUPPY UNDER JUDGE MR. STEVE DAINARD – 05.07.2011