dogs

Chew(y) on this for a minute.

Convenience. Price. I totally get it. For about four years I ordered dog food through a discount retailer online after I got tired of lugging bags of food home from Petco. The bag would arrive at a regular interval, the price was good, so it seemed just great. But then one day as I was opening a “fresh” bag, I thought to myself that the stuff really didn’t smell that good. Not spoiled—just not fresh. This set me to wondering about the journey that the food went on to get to me, and how long this bag had been around. Where was it made? When did it leave the factory, and where did it go from there? How old was it by the time it got to me? What if there was actually something wrong with it? How would I know?

When we switched to Life’s Abundance from our former brand—which was, by the way, a “premium” food—I found several key differences right off the bat:

  • Better nutrition. The comparisons are available and worth a look to see how your brand stacks up.
  • Value. Notice I did not say price. Bag price does not equal bag price. What you need to compare is serving sizes and cost per ounce. What I found is that although my bag of Life’s Abundance may cost a little more than my previous brand, the feeding guidelines call for less food in volume, so the overall cost per day is also less.
  • Freshness. I know that the food delivered to my door will have been manufactured within the past six weeks. It has not been on a store shelf anywhere. The first time I opened a bag of Life’s Abundance food was while we were transitioning from the old brand over to this new food. The difference in smell and color was astounding! Like, you might actually want to try it yourself! True confession...I ate a piece of kibble. 
  • Peace of mind. In its nearly 20-year history of making pet food, Life’s Abundance has never had a recall of any of its products. Not one. That alone is a major statement, as we’ve seen multiple recalls in 2017 from popular brands that are touted on on-line retail sites as healthy, natural food choices. If the food you purchase from your online retailer had a recall, would someone contact you and let you know that you might not want to feed that bag of food to your pet? This is part of Life’s Abundance’s commitment to its customers. Should there ever be a problem detected with the pet food they produce, the buy-direct method of doing business affords them the knowledge of who bought what food, from what lot, manufactured on a specific date. No one wants that call or email, but it's reassuring to me to know that I’m not going to have to read about a recall weeks after a news release that tainted food "may have been sold" by these retailers between certain dates and that the food I'm feeding my pets could be causing them harm.
  • Giving back. As a company, Life’s Abundance has formed a foundation bearing the name of the holistic veterinarian whose involvement is integral in the formation of their pet products. The Dr. Jane Foundation awards grants several times a year to animal rescue organizations around the country. A portion of the proceeds of every pet food/treat purchase goes to the Dr. Jane Foundation so they can help these organizations—most of which are very small, volunteer-run rescues or clinics—do their important work.

Yes, I pay a modest shipping fee for my Life’s Abundance pet food delivery on my regular auto ship delivery. But would I switch back to Amazon Prime or Chewy for free shipping? No way. The shipping fee is a small price to pay for everything I get in return for doing business with a company with a big heart for people and their pets. Drop me a note at happyvalleyhealthy@gmail.com when you are ready to make the switch, or shop now.

Just like that...Wilbur gets a little sister.

And, we are a two-dog household. It happened so fast, I can hardly believe it. Monday, we were driving home from a long weekend out of town. Norm was kind enough to take over the second half of the driving because my legs were feeling antsy, so I was using my passenger status to look at Facebook, where I saw a message from a friend, saying that a local rescue organization was frantically looking for a foster home for a female Boston Terrier. I read the message to Norm, we looked at each other, and we agreed instantly we should call and find out more. What we were told on the first call is that the dog was about six years old and had been used as a mill mama at an Amish farm nearby. They were ready to surrender her, but the rescue coordinator was out of personal space and did not want to pick the dog up unless she was sure she could place her in a foster. We asked the coordinator for a few minutes to discuss while we were riding, and a few minutes later called her back to say we would commit by phone to taking her, and would fill out the foster application as soon as we got home, which we then did. Tuesday around midday, I was told that the dog would be picked up later in the afternoon. Around 4:00, I got a photo of her, looking scared but oh-so-sweet. And tiny--my gosh, compared to Wilbur, our loving "oaf"--she is about 1/3 his size. If that. By 5:00 she was at our house. I couldn't believe how much she resembled Edna, the Boston Terrier Norm had before we had married (and the first Boston I fell in love with). The rescue coordinator sat with me in the house, and gave me lots of tips, because we had never done this before. Then we decided to work our way outside to see if she would pee for me. She had been called "Ann" by the Amish (original!) and she comes when called. But a collar, a leash, hardwood and tile floors--all new. We stayed with her in the yard for quite awhile, Norm got home from work and I could tell from his expression that he was immediately in love with this little girl. And the feeling seemed to be mutual--she allowed him to hold her, and she was full of kisses for him. All this time, Wilbur was in the house, in a room with the door closed. At the point where we thought we were ready, we brought him out to be introduced to her--both of them on leash. He was his usual, over-enthusiastic self, barking and trying to lunge. We have tried and tried to break him of this, without success yet. Honestly, it's not mean behavior, he just gets so excited and doesn't seem to have any concept of how big or strong he is. So, we kept ample distance and tried to stay very calm, knowing that both of them would absorb and reflect our energy levels. By the end of the evening, they were both in the house, off leash, and occupying their own spaces. Wilbur tried once or twice to get Ann to play with him, by bringing her a toy, but she has no idea what to do with a toy. The concept of play is unknown to this little one. Today she goes to the vet to have all her shots brought up to date, to be spayed, and to get micro-chipped. Then we can start to work on familiarizing her with the elements of a dog's life that she hasn't had the privilege of experiencing--healthy food, intentional exercise, a comfortable, safe space to sleep, the joy of play. The reality of this little dog's life is that if she had been left on this farm another day or two, she would probably have been disposed of. Who got lucky? I think we both did. You bet, we'll be making our intentions known to adopt this little one into her forever home. 

Remembering Edna, "An Odd Little Dog"

She was no bigger than a peanut and she was forever cold. Edna Lou came to Norm from a shelter, "a couple" of years old. She was surrendered to shelter life by someone who decided to open a daycare for children in their home and they could no longer keep the dog. Edna spent some long hours at home alone, often coiled up near the wood burner or in Norm's favorite chair. My first recollection of her was seeing her bouncing up and down, jumping straight up from the floor, into the air, as if she was spring-loaded from the feet. Those screen doors that are solid halfway up and a window on top? When she sprung into the air, you would see her big ears and eyes in the window for a split second. Boing! Boing! Boing! She was jumping at good 3 feet into the air. How she landed on those creepy little feet repeatedly without hurting herself I will never understand.

Edna was definitely Norm's dog. She was good with me, but always seemed worried. Her worry played itself out in the form of odd habits, like licking the floor constantly. She fidgeted a lot if you had to touch her, not cooperating with us for things like nail trims. She went for walks when she felt like it, and if she didn't feel like it, she would just sit down and refuse to move. We carried her home more than once. She liked to ride in the car, but only if she could be on Norm's lap.

Edna slept with us, usually curled up next to Norm, though as she got older and more accustomed to me, she was affectionate with me too. Yet, she never lost that worried look. When she looked at me, I always felt like she was repeating the question "Do you love me? Do you love me?" 

She started slowing down a bit in late 2010, and she started to show her age, which at that point we estimated to be somewhere between 9 and 10. Appetite came and went, bowel function good some days, not good other days, occasional vomiting--by spring 2011 something was clearly not right. Several vet visits later, the bad news that a mass was growing in her gut. The advice was to keep her as comfortable as we could, indulge her as much as we were able, and enjoy whatever time we had left. We celebrated her 10th birthday in March that year (which really wasn't her birthday but it's when she came home with Norm) and then the next month it became apparent that the rainbow bridge was calling. It was in those final days that I saw something different in her eyes. Instead of the questioning "Do you love me? Do you love me?", instead what I saw was "You really do love me, don't you?" And it's true. This odd little dog had captured my heart in a big way. We set Edna free from this life on May 5, 2011. Wrapped in a pink blanket that she got for Christmas in 2010, we placed her little body in a walnut box that Norm crafted with his own hands, and buried her in our back yard. 

To not end the this story on a completely sad note, I have to relay the funny part of that day. My awesome co-workers knew that Norm and I were grieving, so they were kind enough to have flowers sent to our house. Unbeknownst to us, the floral delivery man arrived while we were out in the back yard, shoveling the hole where we would lay Edna to rest. He rang the doorbell, no answer. Seeing the garage door open, he walked into the garage, placed the flower arrangement on the wooden box that was sitting on the workbench, and left. Tearfully making our way back to the garage from the backyard, we entered the garage, saw the spray of flowers sitting on Edna's burial container, and burst out laughing. Leave it to Edna to send flowers to her own funeral. There will never be another one like her.