Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sickly Pupsickle

I'm really excited for the week to come. My father is coming to visit from Wales on Saturday and I literally can't wait to see him. I don't think I've seen him since May of last year, seeing as my visit at Christmas fell through because of the terrible snow and ice. I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time with him, eating good food, strolling in the evening sun with Gerry (the weather has been fantastic through the whole of March in Ireland, for once!), and visiting lots of galleries and some new sites he's never seen before. I'll be taking my camera with me everywhere so I'll definitely have a few pics and stories to share about vegan eats and treats!

We'll also be visiting Dublin Flea Market. Some friends and I are thinking about getting a stall there next month - I will be flogging some vintage jewellery and clothes, while they will be selling their artwork, zines and papercraft items. It will be a really fun venture and will give us a bit of extra money on the side.

In other news, I took Gerry to the vet as he has been experiencing hair loss on the back of his legs since January. I hadn't taken him any sooner as I thought it may have been natural shedding, or something known as "Bald Thigh Syndrome" that greyhounds are prone to getting, for no particular reason. Also, as he didn't seem irritated by it in the slightest I didn't really see the urgency. Anyway, yesterday I trotted him over to the vet to get it checked, as it's been getting a bit worse lately and I wanted to make sure it wasn't something serious. Gerry is always straining at the lead to go to the vet's because he can see all the doggies in the waiting room and wants to go in and say hello and have a good sniff around the food and toys they have for sale at reception. However, getting him into the surgery is a totally different matter! He refuses point blank to walk in, and I have to carry [all 21kgs of] his big, gangly body into the surgery and up onto the table. What a scaredy-pup! Once he was in there he was grand though, he waited patiently while I talked to the vet and didn't whine or make a fuss when he was given an antibiotic injection. He is now on antibiotics for 2 weeks, as he seems to have a bit of a skin infection. They are hoping it's some sort of mite and that the antibiotics and application of a repellent spot-on called Advocate will get rid of it once and for all, and that it's not a skin condition that will need constant management or an allergy that we can't do anything about. I have to take him back in a fortnight to see how he's doing. If it hasn't cleared up they'll be taking him in for a skin test, but hopefully it won't come to that and we can just continue with the monthly application of the Advocate and see if he needs any more antibiotics or not. Poor little chap! Apart from this he's in amazing health though, enjoying the Springtime sunshine in the park, running around with his friends and lapping up the attention he attracts from everyone!

I am still trying to source vegan kibble for him. It's a nightmare. I've literally checked everywhere, and as nowhere in Ireland stocks any (apart from one place which is way too dear) it's either too expensive to get it shipped over from the UK, Europe or America, or they won't deliver here at all! I've emailed a few places to check that their ridiculously high shipping fees are correct, but I've yet to hear back from them. All I can do at the moment is feed him as high quality raw organic kibble as I can, and make sure all his other treats are vegan. He goes crazy over a kong filled with frozen mashed banana and apple chunks, and he adores his vegetable based chews and biscuits, as well as rice, broccoli and carrots, so he's definitely a healthy pup who doesn't get fed any junk :-)

I just got a lovely email from a staff member at Veggie Pets about ordering 30kgs of  V-Dog. She is going to find out exactly how much it is for me to send it to Ireland, and they can hopefully do it quite cheaply if I'm going to be a regular customer. I really do hope it's an option as £22 for a 15kg bag is very very good, and I would have no problem paying an extra £20 on top of that for shipping. Even if it costs me a total of the equivalent amount of euros that it would to get the Yarrah food from Zooplus, I still wouldn't mind as it would be 10kgs extra food than what Zooplus could give me. FINGERS CROSSED!

Here's a photo of the gorgeous Bianca over at Vegan Crunk, and her vegan dog Datsun who is a most handsome ambassador for V-dog. Hope you don't mind me stealing this pic from your blog, Bianca!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Greyhounds to China Protest

Today I attended a demonstration in Dublin city centre, to protest against the Irish Greyhound Board exporting greyhounds over to China for racing. There are no welfare policies for animals in China, so you can imagine what an awful life our Irish dogs will lead during their racing careers - not to mention what will happen to them afterwards.

It was a really decent turn out, and some people even brought their dogs along with them. Not only was it great to attend and show my support, but I even met some really nice, interesting people. I met up with lovely fellow vegan and lurcher lover, Cat, whom I've met through this blog and also managed to exchange details with a girl who lives not too far from me who owns a greyhound, so that we can organise some doggie meet-ups.

Here are some photos from today's protest. I'd really appreciate it if anyone, regardless of where you live in the world, could go HERE and sign the online petition. We have to stop this NOW.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not Going To Plan

Gerry will have his first birthday next month, meaning that I've owned him for 6 months now. Time has flown and he's a pleasure to have around!

The only thing is..... veganising his diet is not going to plan at the moment. It's not worrying me too much, but it's still annoying. Especially as the only obstacle is money. I work part time and the cheapest place I can get vegetarian kibble from charges €72.00 for 20kg. That's a lot of money for food which would only last about 2 months tops. I am currently in the process of changing him over from Red Mills to Happy Dog, which is only €48 for 30kgs and is described as: "dog food containing no chemical colourings, flavours or preservatives, no animal meal and no soy."

I was recommended Happy Dog by a German girl who works in Maxi Zoo. I mentioned to her that I fed Gerry Red Mills and she told me that it wasn't very good quality, and that it was still full of sugar even though it wasn't listed plainly in the ingredients, as Irish advertising standards do not require that you do this. I don't know if this is true, it sounded odd to me, but I took it on board anyway. When I got home I checked the ingredients and the pack actually said "animal and meat derivatives" on it....... last time I checked all it said was "chicken" and a certain percentage, which I was happy about as I was avoiding foods that just vaguely listed "meat and animal derivatives" as an ingredient, for obvious reasons. I have no idea if the ingredients suddenly changed, or the way they listed them changed, but I clearly remember not seeing this before. So I decided to get the Happy Dog, which is apparently made from the best raw ingredients, and actually seems to list everything concisely on the package. I want to know that the meat he does eat is pure and not any kind of disgusting off-cut unfit for human consumption.

It still sickens me to think that I'm failing with this, but what else can I do? I simply cannot afford Yarrah Bio-Vegetarian. If anyone out there can recommend a site where I can get vegan kibble at a more affordable price and cheap or free shipping to Ireland please let me know! The other alternative is, of course, to make meals from scratch for Gerry. But I worry about my own health and nutrition on the best of days, and vegan canine nutrition for a naturally carnivorous animal is even more complicated to cater for, not to mention costly.

I don't know where to go from here. I guess it all depends upon me getting full time work, but I am happy where I am at the moment and if I were to change jobs it would mean I'd be around far less for Gerry.

Also, if anyone could recommend a vegetable based oil that I could feed Gerry to improve his skin and coat that would be great. Greyhounds are prone to getting BTS (Bald Thigh Syndrome) where they lose their hair on their bums and back legs. Gerry has this now to some extent and it's a cosmetic condition, rather than medical.  It doesn't bother him in the slightest but it still is rather irritating to have to deal with. I've had to temporarily start feeding him salmon oil to improve his coat and give him the extra fatty acids and Omega-3 that he needs. If there's a vegan alternative out there I'd certainly be using that instead.... Would coconut oil have the same effect and similar amounts of Omega-3? HELP!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dog Treats fit for Humans!

Just a quickie...

As Gerry has to be left alone for the occasional day where my boyfriend and I are both in work at the same time, I decided to bake him some lovely treats to go inside his activity ball. I'd run out of his Christmas supplies of Organic Pet mini biscuits, so instead of buy more I decided to go for the cheaper (but very much more laborious!) option of making my own.

I used:

- 1 Cup Cornmeal (Polenta)
- 2 Cups White Flour
- 1 Cup Oats
- Honey (a little to sweeten)
- Vegetable Oil (to glaze and aid browning)

They turned out really really well! It took me FOREVER to roll them into tiny balls, and this amount of mixture made quite a substantial amount. I wouldn't normally have honey in the house, of course, but we still had some left over from when Gerry had kennel cough back in October. You can substitute this for agave nectar or molasses.

They are gorgeous by the way, I even had a few myself!! This should keep him entertained tomorrow, trying to fish them out of the ball by pushing it around the floor with his nose. I feel so so bad having to leave him for the whole day, but as long as he gets a long run in the morning and another again when I get home he's usually fine... I leave the radio on for him, he has plenty of toys, and some long-lasting chews to keep him happy.