Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warm weather = Itching Jack....

Trend of seeing increase in Jack's scratching does not seem to be a coincidence. He's definitely scratching more...I'm kind of bummed about this. Snow fell yesterday and more is expected maybe today but it's been really warm and he's definitely showing an increase in needing to scratch. Dewey gave him a bath yesterday after a swim in the ocean, thinking it might help a bit but we're not noticing a change.

Staying consistent on the diet, which does help. Off to FL at the end of the week where everything is green....we'll need to monitor whether he starts scratching more or not. Also Amos is scratching a bit as well. Please don't let us have TWO allergic doggies!

Need to make more of Jack's food today so we have enough to bring with us on the trip. Trying a different method on the cooking of the meat this time. I'm going to brown in batches on the stove and see if it's a bit easier.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Less snow - more itching....

UGH! It's been so warm and spring-like, that there's a lot of bare grass and fact in the warm spot along the foundation of my kitchen, poor little tulips and crocus are trying to emerge. Hello - it's February!! It still could snow (a lot!). Don't get me wrong, I love the warm weather, the last two days or so, Jack has started scratching a bit again...A bit frustrating - while we think we may have the food allergy somewhat under control thru the special diet, we still have the external allergens to deal with. If when spring fully hits and he's scratching like mad still, we will have spent a full year doing the allergy shot injections possibly for nothing.

We leave for FL in 10 days or so - all green grass down there - it'll be interesting to see what happens to him. Does he resume itching like he did all fall? Or fingers crossed, maybe no....we'll see I guess. BTW, how many dogs get to go on vacation(s) with their family? Montana & Wyoming last summer, FL this spring....while we know we can't always take them, it does definitely add to the fun having them with us. Actually really looking forward to it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Milkbone Incident

I am reporting this incident second-hand as I've been in CA all week and Dewey's been home with the dogs. When I spoke to him a couple nights ago, he told me how when he picked the guys up at daycare, the staffer there was quite concerned to report that a breech had occured in Jack's strict compliance with the elimination diet (e.g. nothing but the 3 ingredients should cross his lips).

Apparently, at "snack time" when all the dogs get treats and Jack gets his lovingly prepared dehydrated sweet potato slices, he just couldn't stand it. They were passing out the milk bones and Jack just lunged at the lady and snatched one straight out of her hand. They apparently tried to grab him and retreive the stolen treat but he swallowed it whole, and proceeded to wag his tail happily, as if to say "I'll fix me those dumb sweet potatoes!".

Because our daycare operation is so conscientious, they were really worried that the whole test was sunk now, but we figure it's probably not, and if suddenly he begins to scratch again, we're determined milk bones are the culprit. So bottom line, funny to us....and probably no real harm done.

Jack's little brother has his "procedure" at the vet today, or as it's been referred to in the Far Side cartoons his "tutoring". So Dewey took Jack along to the vet's office when he picked Amos up. Vet came out to say hello to Jack and check his progress. He was amazed at how much better Jack looks - coat is shiny & thick, muscle tone is better, he's put his weight back on, etc...He complimented us on sticking with the diet, which was nice and did mention the same as I alluded to in an earlier post...after the conclusion of the test, what next?

Stay tuned...we'll figure it all out I guess!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jack's coat continues to improve

I had the daycare place do a bath on Friday and they commented how much better he looks, how much less he's shedding (like none right now). Music to my ears! It was at daycare early in January when he had a bath that we realized how bad things were as they commented then how much fur was coming out, etc...this proved to be the catalyst for the trip to the dermatologist vet that got us started on the road of the special diet. So now 3+ weeks in, we think it's definitely helping! What happens at the end of the 8 week trial period is the next question....but we have several weeks to work that out and at least one more opportunity to go thru the prep process for the meals (ugh!).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scratchy Jack - hoping it stops...

Noticed Jack's doing a little bit more itching again....hoping a bath will help. We try to give them baths once a month or so and he's about due. Amos is scratching as well. Nothing serious from either of them but noticable. Otherwise, things seem on the same good track. Jack did have his allergy shots over the weekend for his environmental allergies but we shouldn't necessarily be seeing increased itching this many days away from the time the shot was given. It could be a factor though - that's what makes all of this allergy management stuff so darn hard!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Second batch of food cooked over the weekend

This weekend, Dewey got a chance to see firsthand that it's a fair amount of work to put together a few weeks' supply of the special "ostrich porridge"...Maybe there's an easier way to accomplish but too many years of banquet waitressing has ingrained in me the need to pull it all together assembly-line fashion.

So, if you're curious, this what this process looks like:

1 - Place order for 40 lbs of ground ostritch on the MONDAY prior to the weekend you plan to devote to cooking the porridge. Company only ships on Tuesday, Wed. and Thurs. since it's perishable, so you need to plan ahead such that the shipment arrives on Friday and you can cook over the weekend. I buy 40 lbs and that makes about a 20 day supply of food. Any more than 40 lbs, and I would not have room to store the frozen individual portions.

2 - Friday night, get your massive quantity of sweet potatoes purchased and baked off. I bought 40 this time and needed to buy an add'l 8 or so to finish up the batch. Baking them seems to be most efficient as you just stick them in the oven for an hour or so. Once cool, they peel really easily.

3 - Saturday morning, spread all the indiviudal 1 lb. packages of ground ostrich on all flat surfaces in your kitchen to defrost.

4 - Go to gym, go run errands, go out to lunch...whatever kills a few hours to get the packages unfrozen!

5 - Pull out every large cassarole/pyrex/broiler pan you can find and start emptying the 40 individually wrapped portions into them. Shove as many as will fit at one time into your oven at 375. Stir every so often, being sure to spill into the oven, ensuring you'll need to run the clean cycle at the end of the process!

6 - Peel and cut up sweet potatoes, into ginormous bowl.

7 - check meat for doneness - stir and spill some more.

8 - Make giant batch of oatmeal - I've been buying two of the biggest size containers and using about 1 and 2/3. You'll need two big spaghetti pots for this - and be sure and spill on your stovetop as well.

9 - At this point, Dewey has lost interest and the smell of the cooking ostrich is making him this I say "really, you're a can gut deer and this grosses you out??". Mostly I think he's lost interest.

10 - Pull pans of meat out, sort of chopping it up so you can scoop with a measuring cup. Ensure oatmeal is done as well.

11 - Lay out as many 4 cup tupperware containers as you can locate and/or use 1 gallon ziploc bags. Makes sense to sort of prop them open as once you start scooping, everything is very messy...

12 - Start assembling......two cups of meat, one cup of sweet potato and one cup of oatmeal. Keep going until you run out of one ingredient (and energy). Plan to purchase whatever you ran out of the next day and go take a break....

Everything goes into the freezer in the kitchen or outside in the garage, and you've got enough of a supply for another 20 or so days. Which means about 3 weeks from now, I have to start over again!!

The good news is that Jack continues to improve - he clearly feels better, has more energy and his coat looks SO much better. That makes it worth it (I think...).

We're two full weeks into this and his scratching has basically stopped. Music to my ears!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Symptoms still seem to be improving

Dewey, who's been away for the last couple weeks and got home on Sunday night, is definitely noticing that Jack's appearance and coat seem better. He's impressed with how much Jack seems to love the new recipe (hello, he's a lab! even if it had dirt in it, he'd probably chow down). We both notice the scratching has nearly disappeared. Occassional short bouts of it but much much less....This weekend puts us two weeks into the diet.

Ordered more ostrich as we'll cook up a new batch over the weekend. Each 40 lb shipment of the ostrich lasts about 3 weeks. I have a trip coming up in mid-February so want to get enough prepared so Dewey doesn't have to tackle this while I'm gone. No, I'm not that considerate - I'm more afraid for my house and the mess he'd make if I wasn't here!

Next post, I'll detail the process I used to prepare the servings of the recipe. I'm sure there are other/better ways out there but so far, this works...