More blogs about pitbull pit bull dog travel southern california.

Monday, January 30, 2006

And now for something completely different/Dog Daycare

I was looking at the posts and getting depressed -- well, also looking at Honey's dejected expression as she realized I'm not going to chase her with her toy, she's not getting any more treats (trying to keep her weight down so there's less pressure on the knee) and I am not letting that black cat that lives here into the room so they can meet properly. Honey hasn't had a whole lot of fun since she had the TPLO surgery on her knee.

So, I thought it would be helpful to look forward to when we're all done with this. Not sure how long it is going to be 'til she's ready for some heavy dog play but when she is - the first place we're going: Bow Wow Bungalow in Burbank.

This is one of Honey's very favorite places anywhere which, of course, makes it one of mine. It's a place I can leave Honey for the day and go off to work, let her stay overnight, or even a full vacation (close to Burbank Airport) and have NO guilt. Housed in a big, multi-colored building with a large outside play yard, this is basically dog paradise.

I can drop her off as early as 7AM for daycare, 9AM for boarding. She literally drags me in, wagging her tail non-stop as she greets the office crew, and then, more excitement for the play yard staff member who comes to take her back. As I watch her through the bone-shaped window overlooking the yard, she runs eagerly over to all her dog pals that she must lick, rollover or sniff - lots of regulars she has to say hi to, although I think her best friend is Prinn.

Prinn is lying down on the left in the picture below - it looks like another dog is debating on joining them.

If it's at all warm, she will then make a mad dash for the water. She jumps in the pool tempting other dogs to follow and then, sometimes she'll climb the waterfall mountain. Lots of labs are available for water fun and everyone has a blast.

The play yard crew - all dog lovers, of course - throw balls, offer toys and otherwise entertain them. All the dogs have been pre-tested for dog aggression and there is a lot of dog play going on. It is so funny to see how they love to chase each other, bowing in play pose to get the game started. It is a great way to keep a single dog socialized in a very safe environment.

The office team is very helpful on nutrition, dog behavior, safety and training. There is also a talented trainer on staff, Carolyn, who will work your dog while she's there for the day, or help you in the group classes that are offered after hours.

When I come to pick up Honey (six hour half-day, or twelve hour full-day stay), you couldn't find a happier dog. She jumps up into the back seat of the car, throws herself down and promptly falls asleep - dead-tired and blissfully content. Fantastic If you've had some really busy work days and aren't quite up to a dog who has spent the day resting in anticipation of big entertainment when you come home....

Sunday, January 29, 2006


You know it's gotta be a good year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What could go wrong?/Dog confinement

I wanted to be completely ready for Honey to come home and start the 8 weeks of minimal activity. I purchased a dog ramp, an x-pen, prepared a small bedroom by taking the bed down to one mattress, and was fully armed with my notes from the veterinary technician. The biggest danger is the explosive move - jumping up on furniture, dashing after squirrels (a big one for dogs) so I knew to avoid that at all costs. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell Honey.

She'd done well in her x-pen all day. After dinner, I closed up the pen with a blanket, toys, a bowl of water and some bones and she lay there happily and went to sleep. I tiptoed out of the room and went quickly to a friend's house to pick up some things I'd left there. When I got back Honey was out of the x-pen and limping. How was it possible? She's not a tall dog, it's a three foot fence with a small interior space so no way to build up speed but....somehow, she jumped it. There is no other explanation and nothing could be worse.

I called the vet (open 24 hours, thank you) and he said the best thing to do was bring her right down for an xray to see if she damaged anything. One hour freeway driving and $175 later, I saw the xray results which showed the surgery was still firmly in place but her leg was swollen. I refused the pain medication for her this time. The start of this adventure was Honey thinking her sore leg was not longer sore. Now I want her to know there's a problem. She's already pretty impervious to pain so I'm hoping this gives her some sense she is not superdog.

Recommendation: I would like to point out carecredit for those of you who don't know about it. If your pet is trying to break you, counter their move with a credit card that will help you take care of their bills. Honey's next xrays - two weeks.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bringing the dog home from the vet

This really isn't the travelling Honey or I had in mind but things are going to be different for a couple of months. Since successful TPLO surgery requires COMPLETE rest for approx. eight weeks, there are all kinds of challenges.

A big one you face is, where do you keep a dog that is used to free roam of the house and yard? Ideally, they should be crated or kept in a pen although some people move all the furniture that is seductively jump-up-on-able and use baby gates to section them off from activity. Whatever the arrangement, the dog isn't going to be thrilled about it. A picture says it all. Here is one of Honey's fellow TPLO-patients, Chloe, sitting in her xpen.

Yes, it is a little cold under the circumstances, that x-pen is actually short for exercise pen.

Recommendations: Look around quickly to see what kind of adjustments you are going to have to make. Think of the route you will take them out to take care of business, if there are stairs, how will you confine them, etc. If you work it out quickly, you'll be able to get a better deal on anything you have to buy or, you might even have time to make your own ramp, for example.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dr. Schulman, Star dog vet pt. 2 and Dog ACL injury

Have you ever heard of an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in dogs? I hadn't and I was in for a big surprise. A slight limp becomes a more continual limp which becomes more pronounced until an xray confirms it is a problem that has to be dealt with.

The ACL is a knee ligament and is a common and often ignored site of problems. One site said "approximately 50% of all dogs have partial or chronic tears without obvious instability" and one of the signs they talk about is a dog sitting on one leg with the other one outstretched - and I thought it was so cute when Honey sat exactly like this photo example they used.

From what I have been learning, there are a couple of different options for surgery which include traditional, TPLO and a new surgery called TTA. There is also a program of conservative management which, unfortunately, in the long term, isn't that successful in larger, young dogs.

I went to see Dr. Schulman, a very talented veterinary orthopedic surgeon, heading a practice at Animal Medical Center on Sepulveda in Los Angeles. His recommendation was for a TPLO which is a big decision. It is expensive and there is a very long rehabilitation program which is the scariest part. When you have an extremely active dog that only knows two speeds (0 and 60) the idea of keeping them still for two months, followed by limited activity for two to three more months - well, it seems overwhelming. I went to the internet to look for help and there it was - a yahoo group called orthodogs. After reading about other successful surgeries and rehabilitations - including on other very active dogs - and lots of encouragement from the very supportive members, it became do-able. One recommendation was to keep the dog mentally stimulated which led me to another very helpful site, where I found suggestions for games and tricks to help me, oh yeah, and Honey, through this.

Honey had the surgery and everything went well. It will be a long time until she will be running again but I know it will all be worth it when I see her trying (and failing) to chase down a squirrel.

Recommendations: No one without a medical background can really make recommendations on this but, after going through it with Honey, this is what I would've wanted someone to say to me. At the first sign of trouble, go to a vet you trust (if you don't have one, start asking around. It is a more common situation than you think - seems especially so in pits and Aussies.) This is a situation you want to take care of sooner rather than later. Then, sign up for the orthodogs group and start reading about other dogs and their owners who have been or are going through it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hollywood: Batcave/Dog Park West LA: Dr. Schulman/Star dog vet

Honey and I had been working out of dog paradise: a client-now-friend's house in LA where there are three other playful dogs, bones and treats for all and lots of squirrels hanging from the trees. And, to top it off, every morning we would take a quick drive up Bronson canyon (above Franklin) ending up at the park and some off-leash running around the former Batcave (used during the old TV series. ) It was all dog entertainment galore.

Bronson Canyon park, itself, is a great place to take a dog no matter what their activity level. For older, slower pups who like to take a stroll, there's a steady but not too intense uphill fire trail hike; it's a short walk up to the flat grassy area where the ball-aholic mutt hangs out (where you can watch him carefully put down one ball to have thrown to him while keeping another one in his mouth at all time); a little higher up is a variously-sized (depending on time of year and rainfall) waterfall to drink from or walk in; and, my friend's dog disappears for up to an hour at a time answering the off-road, slightly urban call of the wild. The dogs seem most dog-like running up and down the hills and paths chasing the unstoppable cotton-tailed rabbits who flirt with disaster. The rabbits are fast and the cause of quite a desperate and eventually frustrating animal chase. I have the feeling they return to their underground homes laughing at the incompetence of the city dogs.

Unfortunately, Honey tried to do the most squirrel/rabbit chasing AND exploring AND dog play and I watched a slight limp become more serious. I had her calm down for a couple of evenings and everything seemed okay so I wasn't too concerned.
I did have to bring her to the vet, Dr. Schulman, for an update on her bordatella so I asked him to take a look at the limp at the same time. He had already saved Honey's life once when there were complications after her pregnancy, (I found her that way - I would NEVER let a dog have a litter with so many great pups out there that will never get a home), so I trusted him. When I told him about the limp, he was concerned and asked to do an x-ray. The news was not good. More to follow.....

Recommendation: Park in the top lot and go for the uphill hike first. If feeling ambitious, you can hike up and walk all along the upper crest with the Hollywood sign in sight. If you want an easier time, come back down, put your dog back on leash as you pass the lot, walk the short piece of road down, then back up to your left to the Batcave. Come early if you want to see the rabbit show.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Silverlake: Sun, gourmet sandwiches and lots of ice tea/Dine with dogs

Meeting a friend for lunch? Your dog determined to go along? Your friend's dog might show up, too? If you want all that and something really delicious, too Say Cheese on Hyperion is the perfect choice. Outside dining with great food, potent caffeine pick-me-ups and dog-friendly waiters and clientele.

When I dine out and I have Honey along, I sometimes end up at places that aren't my food favorites but - they allow dogs so they'll do. Say Cheese is so much better than that. I started going to it before I had Honey because the sandwiches are everything a restaurant sandwich should be. They are made on crusty french baguettes or fresh rosemary bread or walnut bread or whatever works with the great cheeses, sliced meats and tasty toppings. The side salad is actually delicious, mixed lettuce salad with balsamic vinegrette, so it's part of the meal and not a garnish. The ice tea with refills makes it easy to enjoy the sidewalk dining, sitting out, soaking up the sun and your choice of coffee drink after the meal is better than any dessert (although I've had a bite of one or two of those and they were quite good) with the latte getting the most rave reviews.

And, best news, Honey can hang out, too. There are only a few outdoor tables so you have to time it right - probably easier to do during the week. But, with a little patience, I can usually get a table where Honey can have a view of the sidewalk traffic while I slip her a couple of tastes of prosciutto or turkey. She also likes to have room to fit partially under the table for a little shade if it is a sunny day. The wait staff will help with some water if you ask and you will usually see one or two other dogs there (besides those on parade.)

There is parking in back and on the street and, if it's a lure, I hear this is a some-time celebrity hangout. Honey and I are usually busy with unknown celebrities and their dog friends so I admit we've missed them if they have been around. For me, this is the place to meet a friend who wants to meet your dog but also wants to get in some deep discussions and do some extensive catching up. The sun, the food, the caffeine, the happy dog and before you know it - hours have gone by - this is vacation-style dining.

Recommendations: If you have the schedule that permits it, I would try to go during the week or toward the end of lunch on weekends. On-leash and be prepared to share your lunch. Dogs know good food, too.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Oxnard/Ventura: On the Beach/Dog Run

Most people know Southern California has beautiful beaches - long stretches of clean sand to lie on, seagulls and pelicans dive-bombing the dark blue surf, dolphins and sometimes even seals swimming close to shore as surfers take the waves. Most dogs have no idea. They aren't allowed anywhere near the water and sure don't get an opportunity to see how to have any fun there.

In Ventura, there is a huge stretch of beach called Mandalay Shores where dogs are swimming, dogs are playing. And, even more unusual, they are welcomed there by the mix of surfers, sunbathers and weekend tourists. Mandalay Beach can be found off of Harbor Blvd., between 5th Street all the way down to Channel Islands Harbor although I usually stay toward the North.

Access to the water is at various points of the streets and alleys closest to the water. There are dog litter bag dispensers scattered near these entrances and trashcans for quick disposal. Dogs are to be kept on leash but during the week when the beaches are emptier, the dogs have more leeway and can be seen sprinting around in the sand. Labs and other water-loving dogs are jumping in, getting soaked, then returning to their owners to share the fur-water shakeout.

This is a great place to have a dog companion. Honey and I walk farther than I ever would on my own, playing the whole way. She runs into the edges of the surf. She does love the water but this is quite different from the wading pools she's used to. One time a small but strong wave caught her so I quickly grabbed her collar to offset the pull of the tide back. I'm glad it happened because, it wasn't deep enough to do any harm but, it was scary enough to teach her not to run in.

Honey also likes to stroll along and eat some of the seaweed that gets washed up. I watch this pastime of hers pretty carefully. I met a woman with a nice young basset hound that had developed a taste for sand crabs. She let the dog feast on them and then found out the shells were lodged in his intestines and he had to have an operation to clear it up.

There's also some stick chasing, some ball retrieving (but not much because the sandy taste of the ball does seem to interfere with some of the pleasure of that) and sometimes we're just lying down in the sand and watching everyone. Honey is a big people watcher - especially if they're a little distance away so she can't see them very well. One woman was buried in the sand turning her head this way and that to talk to her companions. Honey went into a rigid sit pose and couldn't take her eyes off her. She really wanted to know what that was about and wasn't truly satisfied until the woman got up. Since Honey is an AmStaff aka Pit Bull, her stare seems initimidating to some people but the only thing she is interested in is if there is a dog around for her to play with....she loves people but dogs trump people any day because they know how to play! (Some pits ARE very dog aggressive and their owners need to be responsive to that - luckily, Honey is one of the sociable ones.) Okay, and I do believe she is constantly on alert in case there is an abandoned piece of buttered toast or perhaps a nice breast of chicken.

Recommendation: Park on a side street. Start off on-leash. If you don't bring water, have some in the car in case it is a hot day. Look around for a doggie bag dispenser (or bring your own), and find one of the many signs that point to coastal access. Walk on in and start exploring. Weekends during the winder - morning, noon and right before sundown, this makes a great dog day.