How Much Chocolate is Too Much

When someone near to me came home from London, he brought me something that I appreciated very much.

I just did not know how much?

I mean… this is apparently a “Thing” in Britain.

By which I mean “Supersized” chocolate bars.

I am laughing at the display on my room organizer right now.  This is … ridiculous.

But it is a “thing” there, and the reality is that there is the concept of a reasonable amount of any given food to eat.

Really, this is huge!  The sheer size of it has me laughing.

Way up at the top of the picture is a “standard” single serving Hershey’s Chocolate bar.  It’s not my favorite chocolate by a long shot, but here in the land of Big Food and Cheap Food, it’s what we think of as a single serving.

Granted, it is 220 calories which is a bit large for some of my more petite friends to have in one sitting.  I have a friend who is 1/2 my size and weight, and that 1.55 ounce, or 43 gram serving is what should be about all she should have of candy or dessert all day.

My being twice that size I’m maintaining weight with twice that amount per day.  I lose a pound all week, gain it back on the weekend, and I have since High School.  It’s in balance.  My doctor had no complaints about my weight or my fitness level at all.

Rule of thumb is calories are to be balanced from 30% Fat, 30% Carb, 40% Protein.

Training Diets are 1 gram protein per pound of weight.  Lower Fat and Carbs as needed.  Good luck with that.

Nutrition guidelines aside… that little bar is a “single serving”.

Now, since what we get here in Los Estados Unidos with the name Cadbury doesn’t taste right to me, I have a standing order with anyone going to England to bring back Cadbury Chocolates.

It used to be that Cadbury was made by Hershey by license.  It also does not taste right to me, nor the same.

 

Close, but not quite.  Kit Kats are the same too for me.  I could be wrong.

 

Could be the water, or that the chocolate is different.  I don’t know.  When I have a Cadbury branded chocolate here I don’t think it tastes “right” to me.  My opinion.  I’d just rather get Cadbury imported from Old Blighty than walk down the block to the rather excellent candy store and get a bar there.

Maybe I should.  Just not today.

 

That and my licorice allsorts.  Bassetts.  They’re stale if I get them locally, but amazing if bought at the airport at Gatwick just before you leave.

 

Please Exit the UK via the Gift Shop.  Don’t forget your Licorice and your ridiculously large chocolate bars!

So I am getting enough from other sources.

Then there’s that bar of Cadbury Fruit and Nut in the middle.   It is 300 grams.  10.58 ounces.

And don’t get me on Your Country Should Go Metric.  We did, it’s just we have a translation layer there so it makes things easier for us.  All our units of measurements are defined as a multiple of Grams or Liters or what have you.

 

Maybe you shouldn’t have a license plate for a candy bar.

Anyway, at 495 calories per 100 grams, the whole bar is 1485 calories.  At 212 calories per serving it serves 7.

Seven.  And that is the middle sized bar.

When I first saw that bar I thought it was insanely sized.  Why?  Because I know people who would attempt to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Don’t do that.  Nearly a day’s budget of calories for a tall woman in one bar of chocolate is insane.  Just Don’t Do it.

Well, at least that’s the math if I can read the British Nutrition Label.   They suggest a more reasonable serving size of a little more than an ounce.

While people in Britain are smaller than in some parts of the US – Buddy, you folks are catching up.

But that fruit and nut bar that I truly enjoyed massively was a shock when I saw it.  Ok, “Gift Sized” was what I called it.

What about that plank of Dairy Milk in the box.  On the bottom of the picture.

Come on Cadbury, you’re kidding me!  800 Grams?

Yes, I know, Portion Control.  I’ve been doing portion control for so long that I can estimate calories in my head – and do.

800 Grams.  28.22 Ounces.

When I saw it I asked “What the hell is that thing, is it really chocolate?”

Yep!  I am laughing at the massive bounty of chocolate that that is.

Real good chocolate too.  The way a Cadbury Chocolate Bar should taste.

And yes, I will enjoy it, completely.  Every last gram.  But I will “Do The Math”.

For 100 grams, it is 530 calories.

For the whole bar that is an amazing 4240 Calories.

Serving size according to Cadbury is a measly 25 grams or 132 calories.

So a giant 800 gram bar serves 32?

I’m laughing at that.

No wonder why the NHS is moving to disallow hospitals to sell these on premises.  I would say that the heft and size of the thing, it could be used as a weapon.

So I guess the whole supersizing thing that we went through here, they did in Britain, differently.

Good luck folks, I’m still laughing at the bar being so bloody large!

At least I have until December 2018 to finish all this stuff!

I’ll go with a roughly 200 calorie serving and enjoy each bit.  By the time I finish all this stuff, this “table leveler” block of chocolate, someone else will be going back to England and coming back with a ludicrously large bar of chocolate again.

It will be appreciated.

 

Six Chunks at a time.  I just want to watch the world burn and have a wee bit more.

Is Yogurt Dog Approved? Of Course! How About Some Other Ffoods?

My old dog, Lettie, was never fussy with food until she got quite old.  I used Yogurt to wake up her taste buds for a while.  She’d tear into it with a puppy like energy and really seem to enjoy the stuff.

Rack, my year and a half old Mc Nab Dog, has always been fussy with food.   So I tried the yogurt trick with his food.  Big surprise, he prefers his food with a bit of yogurt on top.

I got the old Doubletalk recently.  The question was: Since Cheese is not a good idea and milk is just a bad idea for a dog, why yogurt?

It turns out that Yogurt brings its benefits to aid digestion.

Pretty much the same reason why you should be eating the stuff is the reason why your dog could use yogurt in their diet. 

Assuming that you’re not giving the dog massive doses of yogurt, only a tablespoon or two are recommended for your dog, it may help with some of your dog’s more annoying dietary byproducts.

The rule is simple.  Plain yogurt, no sugars, definitely no artificial sweeteners like splenda, and you’ll be fine.

What it does give your dog, and you, are a healthy payload of “probiotic benefits”.  Good bacteria as well as some extra calcium and protein.  So make sure that the yogurt you feed your dog has Active Cultures or Live Cultures. 

If you don’t have live cultures, give that brand a miss.  You’re basically eating pudding.  Pudding may be nice, but it doesn’t bring many benefits to the table for you or your dog.

If you make your own, you are guaranteed to have the right stuff at a fraction of the price.  I make about a quart of yogurt a week. The recipe is simple.  Warm your milk to just below boiling, allow to cool to lukewarm (105F/40C or less) and add a tablespoon or so of active culture yogurt to the now cooled milk.  Stir vigorously and allow the mix to “brew” on the counter in a warm area for a day or two until it sets.  Cool and serve.  No weird machines, no trips to the store, and you can use your old yogurt to make new yogurt. 

My own yogurt recipe is linked here, and there’s a jar of the stuff I just put into the refrigerator the morning I wrote this piece.

If you’re making your own, you can use any kind of milk you prefer.  Skim or 1% is best, since everyone benefits from less fat in their diet, and that includes your furry best friend.

While you are considering tweaking your dog’s diet, you can also introduce some specific dog safe fruits and vegetables instead of those pre-packaged treats.  Dogs can eat blueberries, bananas, apple slices, and melons.  Some raw vegetables that I have found are safe are carrots which are great raw to keep their teeth clean, zucchini slices, green beans, and frozen peas.   All of those vegetables are low in calories and help with keeping a pudgy dog more fit and definitely more regular with all that dietary fiber.

You can even slip in some oatmeal to the dog’s diet.  Oatmeal is great for humans for the same reason.  Soluble dietary fiber will cleanse your arteries and lower cholesterol.  It will aid in digestion, and your dog will love it too.  Just be careful not to give yourself a payload of extra sugar that you both don’t need.  Try serving it with fruit and fruit juice instead of milk.

Remembering Friends Gone Before Sunrise

I’m out way too early these days.  Stepping onto the front lawn an hour before sunrise, I have to go and walk my Rack around town. 

Since we’re looking for a mile and a half, I’m also seeing the majority of my neighborhood at the same time.

The skies were clear and even crisp which is not all that common here.  Of course anything under 80 is cool to me now.

I’m walking Mr Dog and seeing more people than I used to.  If you want to really meet your neighbors, keep the ears open with no headphones, and get a dog.  You most likely need the exercise, and your dog will benefit from it.

Knowing that Rack is over eager when it comes to other dogs, I tend to hold him back a bit while out.  The problem with that is that other dogs want to say hi, so it is drawing me out to have a chat in someone else’s lawn well before 6AM.

Sorry folks, I’ll try to keep my voice down.

I had stopped listening to the music on the headphones a while back when Lettie got sick.   She was incredible at spotting trouble, but when she lost her hearing, I realized I needed to pick up the slack.  I haven’t started listening since.  I’m noticing that people actually do say hello even in the pre-dawn gloom under those starry skies.

Today when I got to near the mid-point of the walk, someone stopped me and chatted me up.  Sheila knew me from when I walked Lettie and thought that my dog looked different.   I explained that the similarity even gets me sometimes, but I had “lost my Lettie” back in April.  This was Rack, and he’s a puppy of right around a year.

Sheila was talking about her Chow Chow who was her constant companion since three weeks of age.  When she mentioned that she had lost her dog due to Chronic Renal Failure, I had to share my own experiences.   Apparently I was lucky.   In order to keep her dog alive, she had him on an IV Drip Feed for 2 months.  Lettie never stopped drinking water, in fact drank so much that I was letting her out to water the front yard as much as eight times a day.

There’s a spot of grass in front of my house that still is struggling to recover six months later.

I explained that while I wasn’t giving IV, I was syringe feeding her up until the day before her last day.   Sharing war stories is a good way to get past grief, even if in these cold Western Societies, we aren’t expected to grieve over a loss of a dog.

When Sheila began to cry over her lost friend she apologized and explained it was only a month ago when it all happened.

I told her the story of how we rescued Rack and that I was basically ordered to get him when we lost Lettie.  The pain was strong with our own loss but Sheila took comfort in knowing that she could release a little of her own. 

The thing was that I’m still convinced that Lettie’s diet was what killed her kidneys.  I refuse to feed Rack anything that has any content that could be sourced from China as a result.   There is just too much of a culture of deception when it comes to quality control there.  What that means is that I’m feeding my Rack a much better diet than I did with Lettie.  She got a “premium dog food”, but it was made by a large pet food company.   Large pet food companies get the size they did by cutting corners.  I won’t cut corners again.

Rack gets either Merrick or Orijen food.  He’s on Orijen now, and that’s a small company out of Canada using only Canadian products.  No “GMO”, no “foreign” sourced food – and nothing from China.

I may be wrong, but I’m not willing to compromise.   I’ve done quite a lot of quality control in my own software development work.  I understand what it means to have zero defects in a product.   When I hear about “premium dog food” being recalled because there was a “scare” or that there’s a correlation between Chronic Renal Failure in a specific brand, it clearly makes me aware that something is seriously wrong in the product. 

This is the sort of thing that can easily happen with our own food supply.   The whole Taco Bell scare a few years back when it was found out that the beef in their beef tacos was only around 33% beef and the remainder was other “stuff”.  Thankfully the last Taco Bell meal I had was some time back in the mid 1990s. 

Needless to say, I got on this kick with myself and our own food supply.   Making my own food is one thing, it allows me to control the quality of the ingredients, and the other thing about it is that it is vastly cheaper than what sits on a shelf at the store.   Fewer ingredients of better quality, and no preservatives has to help quality and health in the future.

If it is a good idea for the dog, it’s a good idea for you.  Sure, cooking takes more time, but aren’t you worth it?

I know your kidneys are.

Sharing Breakfast With Dad – Picture

I realized that I was sharing breakfast with an old friend more and more these days.  It’s the complete opposite of what we’re used to doing, but when you’re an old dog they make adjustments for you.

I used to get just a bowl of this stuff.  Smelled like sheep, crunched like a bone, and came in a big bag.  Dad would keep the big bag in the corner by the box he called trash.  I wasn’t allowed in that box, and wasn’t allowed in the big bag of crunchy sheep either.

Dad knew just how much I could have and gave it to me in my bowl.  It said C, A, T on it.  I think he was playing a joke on me because I couldn’t read.  It made him happy so I didn’t care.

I started getting sick last year.  I’m getting up there in years, and Dad didn’t realize that I didn’t want the crunchy sheep any more.  He took me to the doctors that one day and I don’t like that.   They treat me well, but I just don’t like anyone poking me.

I never did.

That was when Dad gave me strange food.  Some of it I liked a lot, others I wouldn’t go near.   We all got real frustrated then until I showed him just what to get and what not to.

He slips once in a while and gives me peanut butter, but that makes me sick the next day.   I heard him say “no more”.  I guess that’s it for the peanut butter.

Lately I follow him more than usual.  I know my time may be short and I want to show him I still care as much as I can.

Breakfast time is the best time to follow Dad.  I’m a little slow on my feet now, so I have to stand back and stare at him.   He tells me that I “have the most beautiful brown eyes on the planet” and then gives me some of what he’s having.

The other day he laughed as he gave me a bowl of this stuff called cottage cheese and said “I’m going to have to stop giving you this or you will stink up the place”.  No idea what he means by that but it’s OK. 

I lick at that bowl until I can get enough out of it but it is hard to eat.  The bowl starts on one side of the house and ends up on the other.   I stopped just before it ended up going down the one step to that warm place in the back of the house.  Florida Room I heard it called.

Well, I’ll have to catch you later.   The sun is out today and I can catch a nap there on my place near where Dad sleeps every night.  The sun makes me feel better and I like that.

How I Spent My Saturday Afternoon – Picture

My dog is teaching me bad habits.  Some would say simply eating hamburgers is a bad habit, I’m not so sure.  I’ve had some really good burgers but these aren’t what anyone would call “good”.

In fact, they’re about 10 percent Panko Bread Crumbs.

Yep, more LettieBurgers (TM). 

See I ran low on food for the dog.  Since I had 5 pounds of low grade, 77% “lean” beef sitting in the freezer, I made this mess up. 

I’ve been on a training diet since I was a teenager.  High protein, low fat is the general rule.  My dog requires the exact opposite.  I’m learning how to eat badly for a person because for a 12 year old dog with weak kidneys and a bad thyroid, that is how they need to survive.

In March we nearly lost her due to the thyroid problem compounded with her Chronic Renal Failure.  I knew something was up when she passed out against the chair I was sitting on.  By the time Summer hit, we were being educated on what to feed and what not to feed.  Low phosphorous, low potassium, low salt and so on. 

No peanut butter I’m afraid, girl!  Too bad, she loved the stuff.  One day I forgot and gave her some and it literally took her two days before she was normal again.

Basically the recipe is 1 pound beef, 1 egg, plus 1 cup of bread crumbs and form into a burger. 

Why?  Well some dog foods are around 26% protein.  This cuts that back so that she can eat 2 ounces in the morning, two more at night.  I slip her 1/2 of a thyroid pill each time.

When she starts refusing burgers, I’ll have to find something else, but for now, it’s a solution to a furry little problem.

Chronic Renal Failure – Tricks and Feeding for your Dog

Feeding Tricks or Tricks in Feeding?

Standard Disclaimer –  See a qualified Professional.  Get your pet to the vet, get yourself to the doctor and ask pointed questions.  I am not a doctor, this is merely what I am finding as I go along.

See here’s the thing.  Chronic Renal Failure, Kidney Disease to the rest of us out there, can be a trial.  Especially when the patient can’t speak like a dog or a cat.

I’m getting a lot of good information on the side of what to do, and it’s complex to sort through all the information.

First get tested.  That Vet is a requirement.  I am not a vet.  Did I say that earlier?  Oh yes I did.

The Kidney Foundation is a great resource for diets and suggestions at http://www.kidneyfoundation.org – and they ARE professionals for people. 

There are three main kinds of things that you have to watch out for in feeding.

1.  Protein.  When protein is processed by the body, it makes Urea and a lot of other chemicals.  The kidneys process it and put the urea in the urine.  That’s why it’s yellow.  So you have to limit the amount of protein you feed your friend.  I was told it was “.6 grams to .8 grams per Kilo”.  To work that out in numbers that an American would understand, my 43 pound dog should get between 11 and 15 grams per day, no more, roughly.

2.  Potassium. Too much potassium and your dog’s kidneys have to flush it out of the system.  They’re taxed enough as it is, so try to keep that down.  Luckily that’s usually listed on the nutrition labels of foods these days.

3.  Phosphorous.  Same as Potassium.  As Low As Possible.

So what I’m being told is:

Cut back on Protein – easy on the meats like Beef and Chicken.  I’d put peanut butter in this same bucket too since you can easily get a lot of protein from a PB&J.

Increase Carbohydrates.  I’m getting good results with oddball things like unsweetened cereals and low sugar cookies and crackers. 

Since they do need some protein, small amounts of Cottage Cheese, Tofu, low salt cheeses like Feta are a good idea, if they will tolerate it.  Too much protein and you will know it tomorrow when they refuse food.

No Bananas, No Oranges, No Tomatoes.  There are a lot of fruits and vegetables that you would think are safe but aren’t. I’m still sorting through this as well and there are more that are unsafe.

The problem is that cereals, you know the stuff you put in a bowl and smother with milk, tend to be small pieces.  Your best friend will have a problem since one of the symptoms is that they’re nauseous.  Sick to the stomach means they won’t want to eat at all.  You’re sitting in a Captain’s Chair in the dining room much earlier than you prefer bleary eyed and not exactly happy because the dog won’t eat out of their own bowl now.  So you pick up the bowl and start handing them to her one at a time.  Get a cereal with a larger surface area – Rice Krispies are too small, Try Corn Flakes… that sort of thing. 

Yes, that is indeed what I do every morning before sunrise.

I also found that we both got bored fast with that.  So I turned feeding into a game.  When some people think “Fake The Throw” is cruel, but in reality it’s a great way to keep your dog entertained.  Feeding my own Lettie takes an hour twice a day now.  I’m tossing food at her one bit at a time.  When the nose is down on the floor trying to get the last bit, you might accidentally drop another piece of Cheerios on the floor and have her discover them.

Anything to keep her moving.  After all it’s tough to schedule this much time and have a productive life.  I’m already thinking about bumping the alarm clock back another half hour just to get things done at a reasonable pace.

If you don’t want to put “that kind of time” in to helping your best friend, then please, when they cross the rainbow bridge, don’t get another.  They deserve better than that.

Chronic Renal Disease in Dogs – Feeding Strategy

Standard Disclaimer:
Your Vet knows the answers.
I am not a Vet.
I am writing my insight on this and things change as I learn more new wrinkles.
Consult your vet. 

Your Dog (or other pet) will appreciate it, even if they are scared by the vet.

Chronic Renal Disease is the loss of function in Kidneys.  It will eventually be fatal, if nothing else intervenes. At least that is what I’ve been led to believe.  After all, your dog won’t get dialysis.  Won’t happen.  No transplants.  Sorry.

I will fight it as much as I can, my own Lettie deserves as much.

Some of the symptoms make her hate food.  She’ll turn her nose up to just about anything she’s eaten because it does some things to her generally to make her feel like crap.  She’s showing symptoms like she’s got a queasy or sick stomach, so she turns away from most things I offer her.  Even things like Yogurt that she’s begged for many times, will make her go so far as to show her teeth at me with a growl.

First, offer small samples.  Think “Hors d’oeuvres”.   Finger food.  Snacks.  Get yourself a good kitchen scale.  Mine measures down to the gram, and trust me, I use it both in Metric and Imperial pounds and ounces.  If you offer too much, I’d say you’re going to throw it out.   Limit yourself to 1 ounce at a time or 28 grams. 

Second, be creative.  My personal opinion is that the gloves are off.  If it has calories and she wants it, she’s getting it.  You can’t feed a dog onions, so that rule doesn’t change.  What I mean is that the border between dog food and people food has gone.  I personally tend to graze, eat smaller portions whenever I feel the need.   My Lettie will follow me into the kitchen, and if she even looks slightly interested, she’s getting a sample.  If she likes, I’ll make more for myself.

Third, Count Calories.  I do this for myself, and now I’m counting for two.  In the case of her dog food, she was getting 1 cup of Purina Lamb And Rice twice daily.   That works out to be around 700 calories.  350 in the morning, 350 at night.  If your dog is refusing food, but snacking, she may be getting enough in nibbles so that the energy levels are enough.

Fourth, be flexible.  Lettie is showing that she is more nauseous in the morning.  She was always a morning person, but now she just looks at food like it is her enemy.   Think “morning sickness”, although we know in her case that that is impossible.   So I give her the morning pills then take her for her walk after giving water.   Come home and offer morsels.  Tortellini for example.  She loves them right out of the freezer like an ice cube.  Lunch time, she’ll mooch more.

Fifth, Phosphorous, Bad.  I was told that specifically, foods high in phosphorous are to be avoided.  I was told to include Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Tofu, Beef, Chicken, Rice.  If there’s a lot of phosphorous in the food, you’re going to make it harder on your dog’s weakened kidneys, so be careful.  Certain cheeses are acceptable (Feta, Cream Cheese, Cottage Cheese) and others are questionable.   Search online the specific information, and see if it is acceptable.  I’ll have to watch how much of that VT Extra Sharp Cheddar I give her from this point on!

Sixth, Water Early, Water Often.  But don’t water late.   My Lettie showed her problems first by having accidents at night.  I didn’t even notice the “leaking” until it got to be rather pronounced.  She started drinking more and more water, and then all the sudden the water bowl was empty in the morning.  So give her what she needs until dinner, then make sure that there isn’t a giant amount sitting in the bowl overnight.  Oh, and close the lid to the toilet.  They will drink there.  The trick is to give just enough water so that the water bowl has a little bit in the morning.   This takes practice.  In our case right now it is between 26 and 32 ounces per day, with 20 ounces immediately after giving her pill in the bowl, and topping it off with 6 more later, whenever later is.

At this point, it’s a long post.  I’m going to cut off here.  I may return with a later post as I find more things out.  Like I said, it’s a learning experience for me.  What you need to remember is that the strategies in Dogs are the same for a Human with kidney problems.   If the Kidney Foundation recommends it, it’s probably going to work for your dog.   We’re really not that different after all.

Fish Oil or Hot Lava, You Decide

Lately Mrs Dog has been even more quirky than usual.  Being 11 and almost 12 with a flaky thyroid, leaky bladder, and a special diet, I guess she has a right.

You see, other than getting up at 2AM, placing a plastic sheet under her mat in the bedroom, and microwaving the special diet, there are no changes.  Actually, they’re all changes. 

Getting old is not for the weak I guess. 

We adjusted her thyroid meds, took her in for a check up and they sent me home with a prescription diet.  After 11 years of being fed exactly 1 measured cup of Purina Lamb and Rice, I was told to mix in gradually this new stuff.  It’s a Renal Diet, supposed to benefit her kidneys, and it smells like low tide at the fish market.

Take the food, add two ounces of water, microwave for 20 seconds to soften it all up.   11 year old teeth aren’t really that strong.  Place 1/2 thyroid pill on top along with a glucosamine tablet and the fish oil capsule.  Put the bowl on the ground.  Watch Lettie Enjoy.

Not today.   She sniffed at it today.   Ate the glucosamine since it is yummy and sweet.  No, really the white capsules that are grit are slightly sweet.  I guess she really does have a sweet tooth.   Ate the thyroid capsule, thankfully.  Ate about three of the little kibbles and left the rest in the bowl.

We wandered around the neighborhood.  A little more energy than she’s used to but she’s got a strong preference.  Since I don’t want to be walking a marathon before sunrise, I let her steer me home.

Gobble down some now cold kibbles.   Sniff at the rest.  Leave that fish oil capsule in the bowl and a dart of food.  Apparently it’s not going to be a normal food day.  

Oh well, what’s an old dog to do.  I know… SLEEP!

Fish Oil and a Special Diet For The Dog

Having an older dog means having to watch over her and make sure you adjust.  When she’s been “the same for years” it’s a bit of a surprise when you have to change things.

It’s just good luck that she seems to like the change.

I’m surprised since I don’t like the stuff for myself.

Mrs Dog is going to be 12 in November.  I hadn’t realized that it was quite “That Old” until a good friend here, Constance, reminded me that she’s going through those changes near the end of her life.

In those words.  It was also a bit of a shock.

After the seizures, she’s bounced back.  Those were more then a year or so ago and a year before that.  You wouldn’t know she’s had them.  Her slowness is just starting to show, and we’ve now got “Shade Walks” for the 6pm walk.  High summer will melt anyone, and in Florida, you’ll see people standing in the shade of a stop light pole instead of out in the sun.  It’s what we do here, and why should a dog be any different, especially a mostly black dog.

Yes, she’s a solar panel and she wilts in full sun.

We’ve been quite lucky.  Her breed, the McNab Dog, has not been ruined by popularity, inbreeding, and “fashion”.  She’s been healthy for the most part, excluding those seizures.  She’s eating what she had been when I found her as an adolescent almost 10 years ago, but that’s about to change.

See she’s “leaking” in the middle of the night and after some tests she’s now on antibiotics and will be starting a special diet.  I’ve been told that some dogs are on a special diet since almost day one.  Most of that is fashion and “affect”, but in this case it is prescribed.

Yes, prescribed food.  A “Renal Diet” which is supposedly low protein, high “energy”.  I guess it’s higher carbohydrate so we’ll see how that goes.  She’s still got her energy as long as she’s not outside soaking up old Sol.

She’s also taking nearly as many vitamins as I do.  One of the changes is to add Fish Oil to her diet.   Dogs should take twice as much as humans per pound.   So on top of her food, she gets one golden capsule.   The food has become a production now as well.

One cup dry food, two ounces water, microwave for 20 seconds.  Add 1/2 pill for thyroid, one Glucosamine capsule, and now the Fish Oil.  Luckily she likes all of those.  Glucosamine is sweet, the thyroid is supposed to be just neutral tasting, and the Fish oil…

Ever have a can of Tuna?  Compressed into a pill? 

Now you know why those bottles come in a “Burp Free” variety with an extra thick capsule.   Fish Oil Burps are the worst.  Like someone stuffed a trout down your throat.

Being a Dog, she doesn’t find that terrible, yet.  She bites down on that pill filling the kitchen with a faint scent of the sea and chews the daylights out of it.

Mmmm Fishy!

As long as it keeps her around a couple extra years.  I don’t mind the effort, and walking behind the shopping center to stay in the shade in High Summer is not terrible.  It’s just a bit odd visiting the back of all the shops that people come from all over the world to visit the front of.

Cats are my Kryptonite

When I was young we would go to visit my Aunt Ann and Uncle Frank in Glassboro.

Every Saturday night without fail we’d get into the car, the four of us, and ride through Suburban New Jersey.  The trip was around a half hour and for a pre-teen it felt like it was forever.  Not to worry though because they were good people, family.  It was one of those comfortable routines we’d have until I hit my teens and started getting that “hard wired angst” that we all got.  I’d slowly duck out of sight and then begin to opt out of going by the time I was 13 or 14. 

While family night was all well and good, there was a problem.

Aunt Ann had cats.  Not one but usually a herd of three or more.  She loved those cats and like anything else if you have pets, they are yours.  For others, pets are part of the background.   The cats didn’t necessarily ignore me or the rest, they were just going about being cats.  Which is to say fairly indifferent until you had something they wanted and then all the sudden you’d have a friendly being trying to take advantage of your good nature.

That’s all well and good but while Aunt Ann had cats, I had allergies.   Specifically to Cats.

My allergies were so bad at one point that my visit to Aunt Ann consisted of going there, saying hi and hanging out for as long as I could then retreating to the front porch to try to decongest.  We tried allergy pills that sometimes worked to help me stay inside for a while but the reality was that it was so bad that when I stopped going, it wasn’t so much of why but why it took me so long to assert health.

This allergy got so bad that in my 20s I would call ahead to find out if there were cats at the party and if so I would simply beg off. 

There were a couple things going on here.   In New Jersey at that time, I would have hay fever from Labor Day through the first hard freeze.   I would also be gobbling a Chlor-Trimeton tablet every 12 hours without fail.  It would make me sleepy, tired and somewhat cranky for four months out of the year.   If I suspected that there were cats somewhere I had to go, I’d slip in another tablet at an hour or so before I’d arrive which meant no alcohol.  I was the designated driver before we got a name for it.

One Christmas Dinner at Mom’s house in my early 30s I had an interesting conversation.   It drifted onto my cat allergy and that I just had come off of “allergy meds for the season” and was grateful that we had an early freeze.  The couple that sat across the table listened intently and told me of their own problems with allergies and their solution.

The premise was that I was one of those typical kids fed on whole milk and cereal every morning without fail.  Add to that heaping gobs of cheese with dinner and a glass of milk to go with the sandwich at lunch.  Their explanation was simple – your body was loaded with allergens already from your dairy addiction.  Cut the dairy out and your allergies would go away for the most part.

It seemed kind of strange to me that something that the Milk Marketing Board was saying was so healthy could be the downfall of my childhood, but I thought I’d try it next season.  Starting August 1st, I begun to use up the milk in the house and by September 1 I would be completely off of any sort of dairy. 

It Worked.   Completely. 

That first season I had to take exactly three chlor-trimeton tablets.  Three.  In four months.

I was the kid who could not even sit on the front porch of my neighbor, Karen, because she had her black cat there.  Now I was actually able to spend time with friends with cats.  It wasn’t that I was able to spend the evening or sleep over, but instead of going there and hanging out for 20 minutes and leaving, I could go and stay a reasonable amount of time, enjoy myself and then disappear.

Since moving here, I’ve returned to baking with dairy, and if I’m having a hamburger, it will have a slab of extra sharp cheddar on it.  I’m also noticing that I’m not quite as bulletproof around cats as I used to be. 

The moral of this story is that while it may not work for you, it was a life changer for me.  As a result, I am now able to visit with friends for a time where I couldn’t do that before. 

It all came to notice to me the last time I went for a visit to work with someone on his website.  There’s a cat in the house and I lasted an hour before I had to beg off.  It looks like I’ll be using up the cheese and treating it as a once in a while thing instead of a daily requirement.  Between the spring time allergens that we get in South Florida that are beginning to get to me, and the limitations that my cat allergy put on me, it is a small price to pay for the freedom not having to worry about all of that brings me.