Gerry has been settling in very well. Lots of long walks, cuddles, playtime and love. I was not expecting a 6 month old puppy to be so good, but his last owner did some very good basic training with him. He's a bit panicky when left alone, but he needs to learn that we can't be with him 24/7 and that we will always come home to be with him. We leave him lots of toys and the radio on a relaxing classical station, and I take him for an hour's walk in the morning before work on the days I have to go in. I'm not allowed to let him off the lead for another 3 months, until he knows who I am and that I feed him and he should return to me. He really loves running though, and a lot of our walks have turned into runs, so I've ordered an extendable lead so at least he can get more of a free rein. I can't wait til I can let him off the lead properly, he will get so much exercise and will probably tire himself out in 10 minutes as he's super fast and active! He loves his toys (a de-haired my little pony, a squeaky soft cat, a peanut butter filled kong and a squeaky plastic bone that is so loud it scares him!) and seems really happy to snooze on the couch on his blanket while we watch TV and sleep on his bed next to ours at night. He's not had any accidents so far (apart from a little tiny one on the first day out of fear of being in a new house) and he's even had a bath, which he didn't make a fuss about... such a good pup! Only thing is he *may* be coming down with kennel cough. We're keeping a close eye on him, he coughs a little in the morning and at night, but no discharge from the nose or coughing up phlegm has occurred yet. I'll be keeping him away from other dogs until we figure out if it's coming or going... I've started giving him some Benylin which may soothe it and stop it from developing even further. I'm such a worried mommy! His stitches are due out next week so I have to book an appointment at the DSPCA, and they said they'd check his cough while he's there.
OK, so now on to my long term plans for him. I actually intend to bring him up as a vegetarian/vegan dog. Of course, we'll have to do it gradually and see how it goes. I'm a bit hesitant to make this public knowledge to any old person and will only tell them if they ask about his diet specifically. It's well known that dogs thrive on a vegan diet. There's been a lot of scientific research done, and I've read a lot of blogs and sites to do with it. In fact every vegetarian dog I've come across seems to be in tip-top condition and apparently the world's oldest dog at the moment is a vegetarian! Also, many canines have dairy and meat allergies, so have to be put on vegan diets and there are thousands more pets brought up as vegans in the UK than you'd ever imagine. I also have an issue with a lot of pet foods. They are made from the cheapest, most disgusting left over animal parts which aren't fit for human consumption - yes, even parts that a wild animal wouldn't even bother eating off it's prey! I don't want my dog eating these overly processed, unhealthy foods. Especially with so many additives and E numbers in them. Organic and fresh homemade food is definitely the way to go, and I also heard that it keeps their digestive systems healthy and regular. Veggie dogs also fart less, believe it or not!!
Of course, you really have to know about nutrition to make sure your dog gets all the vitamins, minerals and protein that it requires. It definitely isn't a walk in the park, so to speak! Also, animals have sensitive stomachs so any change in diet has to be done gradually (even if it's just switching brands of dry dog food), so if I was to change to a vegetarian kibble, such as Yarrah / Wafcol, then I'd have to begin by mixing small amounts of it into his current Baker's puppy food, changing the ratio gradually over time until his diet is 100% Yarrah / Wafcol. I'm currently emailing around companies and shops to try and find the best deals possible.
At the moment though, I'm keeping him on his Baker's diet until he reaches his first birthday. I want to make sure he's got all his growing and developing out of the way so he can go on to adult food, as I'm not sure if younger dogs can eat the adult vegetarian food. As budget is also an issue at the moment I'm thinking of swapping him from Baker's to Tesco Premium. I've looked at the ingredients of both and they are exactly the same (even LOOK the same) but Tesco's is almost half the price!
For now, on the veggie front, I'm going to be experimenting with various foods to see what he's interested in. So far he loves:
- Peanut Butter
- Coconut Milk
- Textured Vegetable Protein
- Asian Mock Duck
That's all I've tried, as I don't want to give him anything in large quantities yet. His favourite is a kong stuffed with peanut butter. He's a dog after my own heart, we share the same love and will probably argue over the jar ;) He doesn't seem too interested in dog treats to be honest. I have no idea why. Even meaty ones. However he has had a few vegetarian milk drops from the pet shop (doggie friendly chocolate which he likes), Aldi chocolate flavoured vegetarian bone shaped biscuits (although he's not very keen on them), and these vegan biscuits that I found in the pick'n'mix section of Maxi Zoo. I'm going to try baking a few doggie treats myself from recipes that I've found online. Maybe for Christmas other doggies I know might get lucky as well! ;)
I'll update again when I discover what else he likes. He's got a couple of cute coats coming in the post for the colder, wetter weather, and an extendable lead. Eventually I'd like to invest in a doggy trailer for my bike so we can take him on longer trips out, seeing as we don't have a car and don't want to rely on anyone else to take us anywhere (our carbon footprints and pawprints shall be greatly reduced!).
I really hope he continues to be a good, happy chappy.