Category Archives: dogs

Dog food alarm bells!

Last weekend I was minding my own business, scrolling through my facebook feed when an article caught my attention: 12 facts you need to know about dog food, or something like that.  Of course I clicked on it and even though it was obviously written by a dog food company I am always willing to learn as much as possible about what I should feed my dogs. (Should I be concerned that the internet knows I have dogs?)

Many of the facts listed were things I already knew but there were a couple of warnings that stood out.  There is a wide range of food available and there is also a wide range of ingredients used.  I’ve seen the 4 d’s highlighted before (dead, dying, diseased and decaying) which prompted me years ago to do extensive research to find the most healthy food for my dogs.  I’ve been using the same food for years and it has worked well for us, but every couple of years there seems to be a new brand that is getting lots of hype and I will compare foods again to see if it’s time to make a change.

I recently did this just before we brought Winn home.  She had been eating a different brand with her breeder so I was trying to decide if I should keep her on that, transition to our brand’s large breed puppy formula, or switch everybody over to this brand.  Maybe it was better than what we’ve been using.

I’m not a nutritionist, medical professional or breeder.  I simply have my own experience to draw from, other people’s opinions to consider, and research and articles available to refer.

As I read through this list of facts, one of the warnings was about meat with the word meal, and that it was bad. I quickly opened another window and brought up the ingredient list of our dog food and holy s**t the first ingredient is chicken meal!  Oh no, I looked further down the list and also saw whitefish meal.  I have tried so hard to do right by my dogs and now I’ve somehow been duped into giving them crap food for over 15 years!

As my heart was racing, I opened another window and pulled up the ingredient list of the food her breeder was using.  It’s a brand I’ve heard other Newfoundland owners recommend and I knew it was considered to be a high quality food. The first ingredient was duck, then chicken meal.  I took a breath, and concluded that I needed to dig a little deeper to figure out what was good and what was bad.

I found a website that has product reviews on almost every food on the market.  They evaluate the ingredient list item by item, give explanations of these items and make recommendations based on their findings. With my head spinning from information overload, I was relieved to see our food was on the best dry dog food list (4 1/2 stars, should I switch to 5 stars?) but most importantly, I was finally able to understand why the ingredients chosen were important and what the deal is with meat meal.

Not all meals are alike and this is an easy to understand explanation:

Meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew — except that this stew is intentionally over-cooked.

With rendering, you start with a meat stew, cook away the water and bake the residue.  And you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder — or meat meal.

Of course, not all meat meals are created equal. Some are of very high quality while others are positively awful.

It all boils down to the stew’s contents — the raw materials. And one critically important principle…

No meal product can ever be better than the raw materials that were used to make it.

Better meals are typically made from the meat of clearly identified sources. Low-grade meals come from anonymous materials like slaughterhouse waste and spoiled supermarket meats — even diseased or dying cattle — or dead zoo animals.

In other words, you want to see meal that is animal specific such as chicken, lamb, beef, venison, ect.  Avoid dog foods that include the words “by-products” next to the meal or fail to name the source of the meal. Examples include: meat meal, chicken by products meal, animal meal or meat and bone meal.

If you are curious and want to read about your food of choice or are looking for a recommendation here’s a link to this website: Dog food advisor. 

In addition to testing and evaluating foods they also have other helpful articles available such as these about large breed puppy food and how to find superior brands.

Here’s my own list of helpful hints:

  1. Choose foods that are protein rich and avoid foods that use corn and corn germ meal, especially at the top of the ingredient list. Corn is an inexpensive ingredient that is low in nutritional value.
  2. Wash your dog’s bowls after each meal and provide lots of fresh water.
  3. Be aware of human foods that your dogs can and can’t eat and keep the phone numbers of poison control and the nearest emergency vet handy.
  4. Trust your instincts.  You know your dogs better than anyone and you also know when they have an upset stomach.
  5. Spoil your dogs, in a healthy way!

    Can you tell who thinks meal time is exciting?



There’s a challenge floating around social media to tell your naming story.  Since each girl joined us in the midst of family changes, I’d like to share their stories.

NewfGirlsWeb-85Maisie: My daughter had just gone off to college, and we had our two senior dogs Bailey (10 1/2- year-old Newfoundland) and Charlie (13-year-old Newfoundland Labrador mix). Charlie had been diagnosed with a large abdominal tumor and we knew he had limited time but Bailey was still in very good health.  I thought Bailey would be a great big sister to a new puppy, however the week before we picked up our new puppy Bailey took a turn and suddenly passed away.  We brought home this little bundle and poor Charlie wasn’t feeling well.  He passed away 1 week later.  Suddenly we went from 2 senior dogs to 1 young puppy.  We were starting over again and I kept thinking back to when Bailey was a puppy and my kids were little.  My daughter is an avid reader and we both shared our love of books and read together a lot, especially at bedtime.  One of our favorites was Daisy Head Maisie and it seemed like a perfect name for our little brown girl.

NewfGirlsWeb-14Annie: My son had just gone off to college and I was feeling the quietness of the empty nest.  I looked into Newfoundland Rescue and found Annie, who was still in foster care one year after her rescue. Annie was one of 44 Newfoundlands surrendered from a puppy mill in December of 2014.  The paperwork and records were spotty and all that we received for Annie was her 2014 Rabies certificate.  Her name was listed as Paris but Annie was handwritten across it.  I don’t know why she had two names or even how it was known that this was her name but she has always responded to Annie not Paris.  Assuming this is correct, I found a listing for Paris on a Newfoundland registry with a birthdate of June 7 2006 so that is when we celebrate her birthday.  We call her Annie Bear, Sweet Annie and Annie McFanny.

NewfGirlsWeb-31Winn:  On January 2nd of this year my very healthy Dad was diagnosed with a large tumor on his liver.  I was with him in February for his radiation therapy that was supposed to give him 2-3 years.  I hoped at that time that there would be a puppy available for me once they were born, and that I would bring her with me when I returned for his 3 month follow-up appt.  I rushed back to his side on March 24th.  The litter had been born and I shared my news with him and any new pictures as I got them from her breeder.  As my family and I sat around him in the hospital, we shared lots of stories and memories and by far our favorite place was our lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  Dad loved his boat and my spot was always on the left side of the bow.  Whenever he felt like going for a spin, I eagerly joined him and we would tour around the lake.  I told him I would be naming her Winn and that made him smile.  Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to meet her but to honor him and those happy memories I decided her registered name should be Bearfoot in the Bow.

I know this post ends on a bit of a sad note, but Winn exudes so much joy and her antics bring me laughter when I need it most. It’s impossible to be sad when she is around.

I would love to hear from all of you with your naming stories, human or 4 legged!

What was that?


Last weekend the weather was absolutely beautiful and my husband and I decided to enjoy a fire in the fire pit for the first time this summer.

The dogs were happy, Winn slept by my feet, Annie was relaxing on the other side of the fire pit and Maisie was in the back of the yard staring across the fence hoping for a sighting of the neighbor’s dog.

We were about ready to go in, it was pretty dark and the fire was just about out when we heard a scuffle behind us.  Maisie came running up behind me and fortunately put on the brakes when she reached my chair.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw something small and dark race just past my feet, scuttle over the speed hump that was Annie and disappear under the deck.

Annie jumped up and started to run towards her hidey-hole but then gathered her wits and slowly came back towards us.  Clearly, she did not like the sensation of something racing over her back side.

My best guess is chipmunk or maybe a mouse.  It was about the size of a tennis ball but not bouncy enough to be a baby bunny.  Whatever it was, it provided a very entertaining ending to a relaxing evening at home!

P.S. Winn slept through the whole thing and had to be woken up to go inside and go to bed.

Winn’s a Star!

Last night Winn and I completed her puppy training class. Of course she passed her test with flying colors and has attained her AKC S.T.AR puppy certificate. (I will send in her paperwork and get an official certificate from AKC with her full name and some bling she can wear when she’s feeling fancy.)IMG_2876.jpg

S.T.A.R. stands for socialization, training, activity and responsibility and is taught by a certified CGC (Canine Good Citizen) trainer.  It is basically CGC pre-school, and on Wednesday we will start new classes to continue training with that goal in mind.IMG_2868

Maisie passed her CGC test a couple of weeks ago.  It took longer than I anticipated because I was out-of-town for most of February and all of April. My absence took a toll on Maisie, and we had to work together slowly to rebuild her confidence.  We started training in December with the hope that she would be CGC and Therapy Dog certified before Winn joined the family.  For now, I need to focus on Winn and then Maisie and I will decide if Therapy Dog seems like a good fit for us as a team.  We still sneak away together when we can and she loves our walks along the lake. She is so well-behaved when we are out and about, which is really the most important thing.281FA15F-6CC5-43FE-9683-C4C66A27AD1DSo cheers to Winn, let the advanced training begin!