lauantai 16. maaliskuuta 2019

Saturday meal preparation

Saturday is usually the day I prepare the veggie mash for dogs. I have been grading their vegetables for a while now and they eat them like that, too, but now I wanted to prepare the mix again just because it has all the goodies in the same pack.

Minus the beginning of this routine, meaning the preparing of the vegetables, our routine is the same every evening. In the morning things are a bit more simple because there are no meds or supplements to hand out nor is there any dishwashing.

I started today at 6:30 P.M

1. Preparing the vegetables

Our vegetable mix usually consists of broccoli, cucumber, lettuce and zucchini.

Broccoli is very rich in about everything. It has lots of vitamins and minerals and would be best used raw, but I have noticed it may cause gas to some dogs. That's why I tend to boil the broccoli. It does cause some of the nutrients to vanish, but as vegetables should always be considered as a possible plus in nutrients, but mostly a source of fiber, it's not a big thing.

Lettuce is mostly good for fiber, as it does have some vitamins and minerals but not nearly as much as broccoli, for example. I find lettuce a good add on to the mix mainly because dogs like it's taste a lot. I am not sure what exactly charms them as much, but they like to munch it in pieces as well as eat it blended. The same goes with cucumber. 

Zucchini is said to be beneficial for digestion and helps to clean up the system. Whether or not this is true with dogs is to be debated, but once again, dogs like it's taste and it's also very good source for fiber. I tend to use one zucchini and two cucumbers when I prepare this exact mix, but sometimes during the summers when mother provides me with home grown zucchini and cucumber the ratio might change depending on how much cucumber and zucchini I have.

 At this point, when everything is chopped and broccoli is boiled I will invite my trusty Elsi The Electrolux Blender to the party. Life has been better after Elsi joined our family. I am bad at eating (poor teeth. Not good breeding material :P ), and Elsi has helped me a lot by turning everything into a gorgeous liquid of nutrients.

True, sometimes the product looks exactly like dog vomit, but at least usually it does taste good.

Last but not least, I pour all blended vegetables into a huge bowl and add some dried seaweed. Seaweed has many health benefits and nutrients and for raw feeders one of the most essential of them is the iodine. Dogs needs very small amounts of iodine, but they DO need it. Seaweed is the best and the easiest source, so I highly suggest using it. It's usually easy to find from almost everywhere.

2. Distributing of the meat

Ah, the best part. Vegetables are beneficial for dogs, but as some dogs are more carnivore by their digestive system than others, and we can't really tell who is what by just looking at them, vegetables are always to be seen as a possible plus. You can't really consider them as a main source for anything (except in some cases, like with iodine and seaweed, because seaweed is so packed with iodine even if just a few percents are absorbed, it is enough). 

Meats are what dogs are supposed to eat. After I have washed the bowls it's time to take out our meats from the fridge.

Here are the meats for the day! 

On the upper row a crowd favorite; boneless turkey. A classic, loved by everyone. If I would have to choose one meat and only one, boneless turkey would probably be the pick.

On the bottom left we have minced beef meat and heart. I always try to go for as much meat as I can when I buy minced meats. This product is meant for puppies and hence it doesn't have cartilage or anything like that, only meat and some heart minced together. It's super quality and even smells just like the beef meat I eat myself. 

On the bottom left another crowd favorite; MUSH Vaisto Sininen (MUSH Vaisto Blue). MUSH is a Finnish pet raw food provider and it has many products I use daily. One of my all time favorites and something dogs love too is their complete raw food formula Vaisto. Vaisto products have many meats minced together with liver, finely grounded bone and other intestines to provide a good, balanced mix to use as it is or as part of the feeding. I tend to use it as a part of our feeding, mainly as a source of calcium and vitamin A (because of the liver). Vaisto Sininen (Blue) has beef, turkey and salmon in it, along with some vegetables and sunflower oil. My dogs like this formula the best, but they do love other Vaisto products, too, for example their Wild formula and Vaisto Vihreä (Green). Vaisto Vihreä is also a very easy way to start raw feeding, as it consists of products that are easy to digest and it has less bone in it.

I like to prepare the meals myself to make sure everyone has their individual needs met, but I have always recommended Vaisto for those who just simply want to feed raw without all the fuss.

At this point I usually give meals for the ferrets first. They tend to roam free while I am preparing food, so I go and give them their food and leave them to eat it in peace. Sometimes I may feed them with a spoon, because 1. they are cute 2. they are spoiled 3. Private is picky, but everything fed with a spoon turns into a culinary delicacy in his mind.

Trooper needs his insulinoma medicine every day and because it should be given about the same time every evening, giving the food for ferrets first is a good way for me to make sure he eats his quarter of a pill before I continue with anything else. Today's supper consisted of minced boneless turkey meat and an egg yolk. Ferrets can eat the whites, too, but just every now and then.

3. Supplementing 

Almost done! When ferrets have eaten their portions (or are eating them currently. I only stay to make sure Trooper has his medicine eaten for sure) I get back to prepare the meal for the dogs. Supper also has all the supplements added, so depending on what the dogs are eating today I add all the needed extra.

When there is not that much fish in the dish, I add vitamin D to make sure dogs have their needs met. I don't supplement vitamin D every day. If I give lots of salmon, white fish or herring that day, supplemented vitamin D is not needed. What I DO give every day is zinc for everyone (this product is actually only used by the hounds. General doesn't do good with it, so I use Avital Biotin for him) and WorkingDogHyaluron 365 for Jester and General. It is like liquid GOLD. 

That's it! Supper is served at 7:45.Vegetables took about 30 minutes, so usually distributing meals takes me about 45 minutes in the evening. During the mornings it's about 15 minutes less. 

My feeding style does require some time but as I find it relaxing to mix and match, it doesn't matter. In the beginning I was intimidated by preparing the meals myself, but the more I learned and read, the less I stressed. You can't really go THAT wrong if you keep it versatile and use quality products. As I said earlier, there are also complete formulas for those who like their feeding simple and fast.

lauantai 2. maaliskuuta 2019

Higher cost, better food?

A little while ago I asked in my personal Facebook page how much people spend to the foods of their dogs, no matter what their dogs eat, and what defines how much money they are willing to spend. Do they go with what is equally “pretty good” and “pretty affordable”, or are they willing to spend more to get top quality.

Most people said they are willing to spend more for a quality product, but that they will settle on “pretty good but also pretty affordable” rather than “very expensive allegedly top quality”, because they didn't think the cost actually correlates with the quality after certain prize point. This was true specially with kibble. No matter prize does say something about the quality, with kibble name most certainly adds a few extra euros to the prize. Super cheap kibbles are usually not that rich in nutrients and protein, but after passing a certain point on quality, kibble doesn’t get better the more it costs. Raw feeding is more tricky; better quality costs more. The more the product has actual meat inside, the more it costs.


I did some researching and compared some kibbles together. The prizes I use here are euro prizes of Finland, so bear that in mind.

The first brand I have here is a common more expensive brand, and this product is for medium size dogs. One bag of 12 kilos costs approximately 70 euros in Finland. Here’s what they say about ingredients:

  • Dehydrated poultry protein, maize flour, maize, wheat flour, animal fats, wheat, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, fish oil, minerals, soya oil, yeasts and parts thereof, hydrolysed yeast (source of manno-oligosaccharides (0.05%). Crude ash: 6.1%. Crude fibre: 1.3%. Crude oil fats: 14%. Moisture: 0%. Protein: 25%.

Here are the added vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A: 12500 IU, Vitamin D3: 800 IU, E1 (Iron): 43 mg, E2 (Iodine): 4.3 mg, E4 (Copper): 13 mg, E5 (Manganese): 55 mg, E6 (Zinc): 133 mg, E8 (Selenium): 0.11 mg - Preservatives - Antioxidants

The second brand I chose is about 60 euros for 12 kilos. It, too, is meant for medium breed dogs. Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • lamb meat meal (38%), rice (37%), chicken fat (preserved with tocopherols), dried apples, salmon oil (2%), natural flavors, brewer’s yeast, hydrolyzed crustacean shells (a source of glucosamine, 260 mg/kg), cartilage extract (a source of chondroitin, 160 mg/kg), mannanoligosaccharides (150 mg/kg), herbs and fruits (cloves, citrus, curcuma, rosemary, 150 mg/kg), fructooligosaccharides (100 mg/kg), yucca schidigera (100 mg/kg), inulin (90 mg/kg), milk thistle (75 mg/kg)

Additives next, like last time:

  • vitamin A (E672) 20,000 IU, vitamin D3 (E671) 1,500 IU, vitamin E (α-tocopherol) (3a700) 500 mg, vitamin C (E300) 200 mg, choline chloride 600 mg, biotin 0.6 mg, vitamin B1 1 mg, vitamin B2 4 mg, niacinamide (3a315) 12 mg, calcium panthothenate 10 mg, vitamin B6 (3a831) 1 mg, folic acid (3a316) 0.5 mg, vitamin B12 0.04 mg, zinc (E6) 80 mg, iron (E1) 70 mg, manganese (E5) 35 mg, iodine (E2) 0.65 mg, copper (E4) 15 mg, selenium (3b8.10) 0.25 mg

The third brand is most certainly to the more expensive side, costing about 85 euros for 12 kilos. Ingredient list looks like following:

  • Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, atlantic flounder, whole eggs, whole atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, whole dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, whole chickpeas, lentil fiber, chicken fat, natural chicken flavor, pollock oil, ground chicken bone, chicken cartilage, turkey cartilage, mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, freeze-dried chicken liver, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, thiamine mononitrate, D-calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

We don’t really get other percentages than min 38% of protein, 20% of carbohydrates and min 18% of fat. Added vitamins look like following:

  • Vitamin A 28.0 kIU/kg, Vitamin D 32.00 kIU/kg, Vitamin E 170 IU/kg, Thiamine (B1) 25.0 mg/kg, Riboflavin (B2) 17.0 mg/kg, Pan. Acid (B5) 25.0 mg/kg, Niacin (B3) 100 mg/kg, Pyridoxine (B6) 20.0 mg/kg, Folic Acid 2.50 mg/kg, Vitamin B1 20.12 mg/kg, Choline 2000 mg/kg

The fourth brand is a cheaper kibble that doesn’t want to write anything in English damn it, but I managed to get some basic information for us to compare to the previous ones. This brand costs about 50 euros for 12 kilos.

  • Chicken meal, oat, potatoes, flax seed, beet, rapeseed oil, forest berries. Protein 26%, fat 13%
  • A-vitamiini/vitamin 13 000 IU, D3-vitamiini/vitamin 1500 IU, E-vitamiini/vitamin 110 mg, B1-vitamiini/vitamin 10 mg, B2-vitamiini/vitamin 15 mg, B3-vitamiini/vitamin 55 mg, B5-vitamiini/vitamin 20 mg, B6- vitamiini/vitamin 15 mg, B9-vitamiini/vitamin 4 mg, B12-vitamiini/vitamin 0,07 mg, biotiini/biotin 0,2 mg, rauta/iron 160 mg, sinkki/zinc 140 mg, kupari/copper 18 mg, mangaani/mangane 14 mg, jodi/iodin 2 mg, seleeni/selenium 0,2 mg. All are per kilo.

We do see some change and variation, but I’d say keeping in mind the cost range between all four is from 50 euros to 85 euros, there isn’t that much that changes.

Raw feeding

With raw feeding costs depend on how much meat the food has. There are some brands offering complete raw food formulas, and they tend to cost about the same as medium to higher end kibble. One complete brand available in Finland costs about 45 euros per 10 kilos, another offers complete raw food mix about 65 to 70 euros for ten kilos. The first one hasn’t got added vitamins, the other one has added vitamin D, zinc and glucosamine.

It is cheaper, no doubt, to build the diet oneself. I use a mix of both methods; I use the first brand’s complete food formula as part of our diet every now and then, and otherwise I mix and match based on what my dogs need. This way does expect you to actually know what you need to give to the dog and how much they need, but in general if you feed many meats and organs consistently and you use good quality products, you will automatically answer to most needs.

My style of feeding as well as products I use have changed a bit from last time I did a full-on in-depth post about it, so I will roughly give an idea here about how much feeding four dogs and two ferrets costs now, with my current feeding style.

These prizes are, once more, based on euro prizes of Finland and I do get a discount from certain products, may it be because I am a regular customer or I have a breeder’s discount card.

Our monthly costs at the moment are:

  • D-vitamin product, minced boneless turkey (10kg), minced beef meat and hearts (10kg) 63 euros
  • Random amount of chicken fillets, pork pieces, boneless chicken, chicken with bones, white fish, salmon, random meats for fun 50 to 70 euros per month (I can’t say the exact amount, but my animals eat about two kilos a day and one part of the doof consists of these foods here)
  • Complete raw food formula 40 euros / 10 kilos (this amount lasts about a month if not a bit more with us)
  • Vegetables and eggs about 25 euros per month
  • Zinc about 15 euros per month
  • Sunflower oil about 8 euros per month

I buy calcium for ferrets and seaweed for all animals in large containers that would make so little per month they are not taken into consideration here. This adds on to the total of 201 euros to 221 euros per month, if my pets would eat all of that food. However, some products last longer than a month, we don’t really by all of this every month and sometimes I leave out the complete food formula. The more realistic expectation of food costs per month is about 150 to 190 euros per month.

It is a lot of money, but then again, compared to the cost of OK quality kibble I would have to buy per month, and remembering kibble is never optimal for any animal, I think feeding raw is the most wallet friendly way of feeding your animal in a proper way.


I am still very much a believer in natural feeding. While there are OK kibbles around, kibble is not an optional food for any kind of a carnivore, and the cost of good kibble is always going to be more or less on the higher end. With the same amount of money you’d be able to buy lots of different meats and no matter you do use more of meat in weight than you’d use kibble, the food itself gives more to the animal than kibble ever would (assuming you use good quality products and have enough variation). This means in general you get more with your money when you feed raw, because cost doesn't seem to correlate with the quality directly when talking about kibble.

Another thing to keep in mind with feeding, or course, is that we as owners are responsible of our animals. I sometimes, if rarely, meet people who say they have “so many dogs I can’t afford to buy them proper meat or some costly kibble” and they will choose the cheaper option to be able to feed all the animals. While this is very much something one has to do, feed ALL the animals, not just a few, having many pets is a choice.  I don’t think anyone should have so many pets they can’t afford to feed them properly, may that be with kibble or raw food. We did see expensive kibble doesn’t mean superior kibble, but if the kibble prize is very low, that means the ingredients used are mediocre at best. The same goes with raw meats, of course; be aware of what goes into the product. If the product is “too cheap to be true”, read the ingredients. Paying mostly for salmon heads and spines or ligaments and bone is like paying for nothing.

maanantai 4. helmikuuta 2019

Feeling helpless

Old pets are a delight. Having a past behind you two, been living together for so long makes you understand each other in a special way. Old pets also have this certain knowledge in them and even the more neurotic ones do actually react less hyper to certain things just because they have seen it before. With age, however, also comes problems. Every pet gets old, and every old animal will be affected, somehow, by their age. The older they are, the bigger the effect.

It’s very, very snowy here in Finland now. My yard has up to one meter of snow, roads are covered with it and it’s snowing more and more every day. Despite the obvious problems in transportation, possible damage caused by heavy snow etc, dogs who like snow REALLY have fun now.

General is one of those dogs. He has always loves snow, but he has a bad habit of inhaling and eating so much snow sometimes he might get sick. It happened this year again and he developed a small respiratory infection because of cold. He is coughing and sneezing, so I have him on rest for now. Another, more severe problem at the moment is his arthritis that’s really giving him trouble now. Having to jump around in snow is rough to his joints, and no matter in certain amounts snow actually helps with arthritis (it softens the effect of impact because it’s, well, soft), these amounts make it worse.

Trooper was diagnosed with insulinoma a little before Christmas. No matter he responds good to the cortisone treatment he gets, I know our time is growing thin. Little by little the dose must be increased, until it can’t get any higher. Then, II have to say goodbye. The end that’s growing more and more near every day fills me with fear and doubt. Sometimes Trooper has bad days, sometimes he feels a lot better and runs around and is active and happy. However, the bad days are hard to watch. He is not in pain as far as I know, but more sleepy and a little disoriented. This is caused because of blood sugar levels being low. To some extent the effect can be fought with many small meals a day (and of course the medicine), but sleepy days do occur anyway.

Both of these situations sometimes make me feel helpless. There is only as much I can do, and no matter how much I try, sometimes all I can is just to be there for them. Good days still outnumber bad days, but that doesn’t make the bad days any easier.

It’s funny how when you carry home a puppy (or a ferret kit or any kind of small/healthy animal) you don’t really think what waits for you years forward. Maybe it’s a good thing - I would have most certainly reconsidered getting ANY pets if I’d have known how hard it is when they are getting old or when I know the end is near. That is, however, what we sign up for. The day comes when the animal is old and is having a harder day. When they require us to be there, thinking of ways to make their life better. Improve the quality of their days.

The day comes, also, when we need to be able to see this is it. This is where one journey ends and another begins, and to that journey we can’t follow.

I have been feeling very helpless lately. I wait for the spring to arrive, the weather to get warmer, so General’s arthritis can get better and he can once again be active and accompany me in long walks. We have been through this same phase during a few winters already, but every winter it gets a bit tougher.

With Trooper I wish to see one more spring. Have a few more walks in late spring fields of grass. See him bury his face to the dirt, digging holes under the roots and morning mist making the hair on his head all wet and stick up so he looks like a punk.

Sometimes, specially during the days when you feel helpless, owning an old pet does seem pretty grim. However, most days it’s not at all grim. Like I said, there is a special connection between an old pet and the owner. That special connection is worth the extra work caring for an old pet requires.

tiistai 15. tammikuuta 2019

How dogs sense our mood and why we should listen to them

Dogs have been said to sense the change in people moods, specially the mood change of their owners. Some dogs are very sensitive to people in general, working in therapy and said to know "exactly who to go". I have never really had a first hand experience about this, but a very dear friend and "a big sister" to me works with therapy animals and she has said on multiple occasions that her animals seem to know who needs their help the most.

My experience lays with with animals reacting to stress. I have seen how stress affects them, and I have seen dogs get stressed because of the stress of their owner. I have never really seen dogs react to mental health issues before it happened to myself.

The following is a very personal post to me, and I was debating whether or not I want to post it. However, I feel that people should not be ashamed of admitting they have had mental health issues. Many of us have them at point point, some of us have a mental disease. None of us should be ashamed of being sick. That's why I decided to talk about this, in hopes of both showing dogs really DO sense our moods and also to encourage everyone to listen to their dogs. 

If they keep giving warning signals, don't close your eyes. Stop and think.

A small glimpse of history behind my current situation 

During the past years things have been pretty hectic, pretty dramatic and pretty exhausting for me.

I work as a classroom assistant, occasional part time teacher, in an elementary school. My field of work usually consist of aiding children with special needs, particularly social difficulties, impulse control problems and violent behavior. About two years ago I was given a difficult job assignment, very much whether or not I wanted to take it, and sent to work in a different town. The assignment and the customer I was working with was very demanding, and it required 100% of me every day. I don’t go into more detail, as obviously I can’t, but the emotional load and the amount of work I had was ten times what I had had before, and the salary did not meet with the difficulty of the job.

In my private life I had lots to do, too. I live alone, with four dogs and two ferrets, and I have a small house to look after. This is my choice, I love living like this and right here, but it’s still a lot of work. Snow Princess is a young dog with young, dominant dog’s needs, and General, Jester and Trooper are old, having their special old pet needs already.

During about five past years I have been very much engaged to this one friendship I had. It was with a person I met through a hobby, and we quickly became very close. Or so I assumed. We talked daily, and what started as a super friendship at one point turned to some sort of a twisted version of what it once was. My friend was very keen on giving critique, but the said friend also did not like to receive it. The friend was demanding, kept reminding me of staying in touch and frequently suspected I am not genuine or interested in how the friend is feeling. Our relationship had grown to be one of the most important I have ever had and I truly, deeply cared for this person, so I tried my best to give the friend 100% as well. Of course I sometimes failed, but I tried my best. It didn’t seem to be enough and the smallest of disagreements would send the friend into a flaming rage. The friend would talk very nasty to me, openly state I am selfish or arrogant or not caring. I was so afraid of losing the friend I distanced myself from my other friends, because I trusted that they’d be there, surely, when I am done. This person here needs me now.

To top all this, I started studying at a university in 2018. I am an English Major (believe it or not, hah) and studying has required a lot. It’s far harder than I anticipated, obviously, and even though I have taken great leaps forward with my skill, giving 100% to studying while giving 100% to work while giving 100% to a relationship means I have been giving 300% for the past about two or so years.

Now, a person only can give 100%. I have stretched to amazing limits, refusing to see the signs in me that have told me to stop. It’s not in my nature to stop.

Warning signs

About a year ago, I started seeing the change in Jester. He had become more wary, more nervous and little by little his separation anxiety that had been away for years came back. I was baffled with this. Why did it happen? I had problems with Snow Princess testing me. I saw General was more snappy towards other dogs. Duchess was more alert, guarding a lot, and in return sleeping a lot. She was serious. Trooper and Private were a bit distant towards me sometimes.

I wondered what was going on every now and then, but I didn’t give it lots of thought. All my pets are well trained, so life was OK, I just assumed they might have some stress issues because of something and I tried to follow the routines we had more strictly.

Then came the end of 2018. It was around the turn of September and October when physical issues started developing.

I had growing pains, daily, and they were not mild. They were serious and they really affected my mood. I felt dizzy, I had night terrors and I had nightmares. I developed a constant flu and a constant fever that would go away for a day or two and then return. My head was aching frequently. I started having rage bursts.

My studies were going OK, but required lots of work, I had returned to my old job from the assignment I was in before, but the work schedule was A LOT to handle and the job itself was a hassle. My car got vandalized during a work day, at my school’s parking lot, I got thrown with rocks, I got called names. I even got death threats sometimes. I was at the edge with my work, really having to push myself through every day, and then the issues with my friend started escalating. Eventually they led to the friend cutting all ties with me without any explanation, causing me a great deal of stress.

At this point, Jester’s separation anxiety had turned to overall anxiety. He slept poorly during the nights and kept walking. He was not happy. I was starting to think he was sick. I also noticed the moment I sat down on the floor General, Duchess and Snow Princess would try to come over me, to lay on my chest or lap. They are very affectionate, but usually they do that to get cuddles. Now it seemed that they were just there. They were licking my joints and sniffing at me and seemed worried. Jester, on the other hand, kept away from me.

Do you see the pattern here?

It was about two weeks before Christmas when I doctor asked me, after another set of blood tests and what evers, if I was feeling OK. I was like “NO, I have had fever and pains for weeks!”, and she answered “No, I mean your mind. Do you have stress?”. I thought about it a bit and answered that yeah, I kind of feel very stressed. A very important friendship had ended without any reason to be told, I had health issues, I had my job, I had my studies, and I still felt like I was a disappointment. That I did not do enough. That I SHOULD do even more.

It was after Trooper was diagnosed with insulinoma when my world collapsed. When during one morning I couldn’t get up. I felt HORRIBLE. A failure. I started thinking if someone so worthless as me would vanish, seize of being, would anyone even notice?

That’s what woke me up. I went to the doctor, I said I need help and that I think I am mentally ill.

And I was.

Smart little critters

I am on a long sick leave now. I have been given lots of good advice on how to work down my stress level and I have been helped to realize how much this over all situation has weighed me down. How it turned my everyday life from living to surviving.

My pets saw this. They noticed this FAR before I did. They saw something was wrong, and that’s why their behavior changed. They have tried to tell me long before things got bad that something is not right.

It is said dogs can smell the change in our moods. Our brain chemistry changes, hormone levels increase or fall, and the dogs are said to be able to sense it with their amazing sense of smell. They are also super at reading our behavior, and our behavior changes when we are stressed, depressed, tired, hyper, you name it. We are not normal in their eyes, and they react to that.

Jester is super sensitive. He was the one reacting the strongest. He couldn’t trust in my judging and actions anymore, because he saw I was not myself. Duchess was alert, because I was not. Snow Princess saw I was weak, and she tested me. Teens do that, give her a break. She also sniffed at me, licked at me and seemed almost agitated. Almost as if she was TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING. She was, I just didn’t listen. General was snappy, because he was stressed about my weird and inconsistent behavior. Ferrets stayed at a distance, because I didn’t seem safe to them, I assume. I was odd.

I am now a bit better. Not well, but better, and it has been amazing and yet horrifying to see just how different my pets behave now. Jester’s separation anxiety is almost gone and he is once more affectionate, happy and goofy. He comes for cuddles and wags his tail and does funny tricks. Snow Princess needs only a glance, maybe a word, and she behaves. Duchess is playful and energetic, almost as if SHE HAS BEEN ON DUTY FOR FAR TOO LONG, and she was. God knows how long she has been taking care of guarding full time because she saw I was in a weak state of mind. General is not as snappy. He is a bit tired, though, because he has been stressing for so long. When he is awake, he is happier and more relaxed and forgiving to others. Ferrets come to me, they want to play with me and spend time with me.

This is all because I FEEL better. I have no medication, I only receive help and tips from mental health experts. It is amazing to witness just how much different our life is, and how horrible I felt before. Only now, when I feel better, I see just how on the edge I have been, and for how long. How this situation with all it’s parts: job, studying, health issues, difficult, and I would say pretty abusive in some parts, relationship… how all this has affected my pets, specially my dogs, through my lowering mood.

I have seen how dogs react to mental health issues. They really do see and smell and sense the change in us, and we should listen. I have written about our pets reacting to our stress before, but mental health issues go deeper than just stress.

Stop and listen

If you find yourself in a situation where your dogs have strange, usually either stress related or anxious or aggressive, behavior, obviously go through their life. What could cause that problem? Things like this don’t just pop up. Everything has a reason, whether genetic or caused by the surroundings. If you can’t find any reason, or even if you do, always remember to look in the mirror and ask: do I do something different? Do I act different than before? Do I feel well?

Signs to look for are usually 

  • changes in behavior that are not explained with health issues
  • change in how the dog reacts to you and behaves around you
  • anxiety developing, anxiety relating problems developing (difficulties in sleeping, calming down, learning, social interaction skills decline)
  • calming signals
  • excessive licking or sniffing you
  • aggression, such as leash aggression, that appears "out of nowhere"

If you have any reason to think you might have mental health issues, and specially if your dogs have started to behave differently, seek help. Remember, they know us far better than we think, and they see the change far before we do.

Don’t let your world collapse. Care for yourself, because in the end, when things fall, you are the one picking up the pieces. It’s a horrible feeling to realize you let things go so far it actually damaged those you love the most.

If things DO go so far, try to fix it, change things, seek help, but also forgive yourself. You have been sick. Never forget, so it doesn’t happen again, but forgive. Mental health issues are HEALTH ISSUES. You did not choose them, but it’s your decision to seek help. Getting better is a long road, and it’s the longer the further you walked down the path of doom. In some cases the disease may not be curable, but in most cases there are ways to help you to survive with it. Find those ways.

You are your dog’s whole world. Let their world be as happy as it could be.

lauantai 12. tammikuuta 2019

A New Beginning!

From now on, due to the increasing difficulties I have had with Weebly's blog feature, Nokkaeläimet will continue here! Our previous site with all the posts will remain there in the never ending jungle that is the internet, so if you ever want to check out something from a previous post, you can do it there. 

I will continue the blog in English, but some posts will be in Finnish. I will try to write mostly in English to serve every reader, but some topics may be more so familiar with the Finnish readers, meaning writing it in English really serves no purpose. 

The blog will also take a slight turn from very long, very informative posts that require increasing amount of research to shorter, a bit less professional ones. This is because I feel writing articles "for nothing" was a bit time consuming and tiring. I want to post once a week from now on and include more personal experiences about stuff as well as just moments of our lives. Take things a bit less "seriously", if I may say so. 

I hope transferring the blog to Blogger also makes it easier for all of you to join as readers and hopefully stay in touch with comments and likes. Things like that didn't really work that well in Weebly.

As you may notice, the look of the blog has changed, too. All the pictures you see in The Court and around the blog in general are, if not mentioned otherwise, sketched by me and lined and colored digitally by my very gifted, very dear friend Saiccu. You may now go and immediately follow her in her deviantart site here

Without further ado, welcome aboard! May you be a new face or an old follower, I am equally happy to "see" you!