Black & White Sunday – Chyler

chyler thornton beach

I love this photograph of Chyler. The light is so soft and it made her look like a elf.

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Black & White Sunday – May/June ’15 Finances

Half a year passed by in a blink. Is it  just me or is this year zooming by? I feel a little despondent. Mostly because it’s time to round up our finances again.


Lepto Vaccine (Chyler): $31

Supplements: $201.55

Vet Visit: $101.6

Acne Products: $44.91

Total for health these two months is $379.06. This wasn’t as bad as the last round but still awful.

Chyler needed a booster for the lepto vaccination as she never had it before. We also discovered in May that QQ has a luxating pateller. We noticed on four separate occasions that he will suddenly lift up his right hind leg after running vigorously. Each time, we picked him up and stretched his leg a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t a sprain. We set him down, and he will resume running normally. I called a vet chiropractor to ask if we should bring him in. The vet chiropractor said it sounded like pateller luxation. So we made an appointment with our regular vet and she diagnosed him with a Grade 3 pateller luxation. Although QQ’s pateller was quite loose, she said it didn’t seem to affect QQ very much, and she doesn’t suggest that we consider surgery at all. She had us add an additional joint supplement (Doggeviti) and think we should double the dose of Connectin that we were already feeding. Thus, I stocked up on a few months worth of joint supplements. Since we doubled the dosage of Connectin and added Doggeviti to the mix, we haven’t seen another incident of QQ’s pateller popping loose. Hopefully his grade of pateller luxation will reduce the next time we bring him in to the vet!

When playing with the dogs (rolling around on the floor with them), I noticed that both the dogs have a little bit of acne on their chin. I was so shocked. I had no idea that dogs get acne. I suspect that it’s because we add additional oil in their food (we rotate between pollack oil, salmon oil, coconut oil, olive oil and flaxseed oil). Sometimes when eating the oil gets on their chin and that might cause the acne breakout. I bought some anti-bacterial wipes and also a acne shampoo. The acne disappeared quite quickly after using these products. We had to be careful though as these products are very drying. I noticed Chyler’s chin showing a bit of redness when we used the wipe twice a day on her. I stopped the moment the acne showed signs of clearing up.


Waterbowls/ChuckIt Balls: $17.99

PoopBags: $20.15

Toothpaste: $8.71

Grooming total comes to $46.85

We have a portable waterbowl that we used to hydrate the dogs when outside. It gets pretty banged up because we hook it to the QQ’s leash. We’ve been using it for close to a year already and decided it’s time to replace it. We bought two replacements. QQ only has one Chuck It ball and we have been using it for a year too.  It went through ALOT. It was recently stolen by a big dog at the dog park and when returned, it was entirely unrecognizable. We decide to leave it at the dog park and buy a set of replacements.

I usually buy poopbags by the bulk, and the last time we bought it was also near to a year ago. Time for another set of 1000 poopbags! We are also starting to run low on toothpaste so I bought another tube.

Food & Treats

Stella & Chewy’s Carnivore Crunch: $26


Tripe treats: $21.37

K9 Naturals: $348.77

Food and treats came to total of $486.14.

I’m trying to find high value treats that can help us to train QQ in reducing his reactivity. I tried Stella & Chewy’s Carnivore Crunch because it’s freeze dried raw. A note in case people haven’t received the news yet, Stella & Chewy’s are recalling a range of their products due to possible exposure to other foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Their Chicken and Turkey Carnivore Crunch is included in the list of products recalled. Luckily, the ones I bought are beef and salmon. I bought these in early May and the dogs have already finished them. But I would avoid buying Stella & Chewy’s for awhile. I also don’t see QQ showing exceptional preference for these treats either and I don’t like how they crumble into powder easily so it’s likely I won’t repurchase this treat in the future either.

I also bought two different types of freeze dried tripe treats as well. I think if these still don’t work, then there doesn’t exist a treat high value enough to distract QQ from his triggers. As it turns out, QQ do seem to pay these tripe treats more attention then he does the other types of treats, but he still doesn’t focus on them as much as we wish he will…

I bought a six month Barkbox groupon awhile back and decided to finally put it to use as we are running low on treats. I activated it in May and thus we will receive a box monthly until November. I really like to surprise of opening a box of treats every month with the dogs!

We finished all the dry dog food we have and needed to buy some more when we took the dogs on a 3 day weekend trip in June when the grandparents visited. I’ve heard a lot of good things about K9 Naturals from the people working at Pet Food Express. One of them said his dog makes the smallest poop ever when he was on K9 Naturals. I have to agree. QQ and Chyler’s poop has always been pretty solid and small as they are on a raw diet, but their poop became even tinier when they were on K9 Naturals! I took advantage of Pet Food Express’s buy 3 get 1 free deal and bought 4 4 lb boxes in varying proteins which should last quite awhile. They finished the venison box in one month.



Insurance as usual is $101.98 for two months, bringing the total for these two months to $1014.03. This brings the running average for 2015 to $671.48. Yep. Still over budget. And we are due for another daycare package next month so I don’t foresee the average dropping. No wonder Chyler looks sad.




But maybe we should take a leaf from QQ’s book. We get to have fun life experiences and cuddle time with our dogs this long weekend.  Why let some numbers bring us down?

Here’s hoping everyone had a good Fourth of July!

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Black & White Sunday and March – April, ’15 Finances

It looks like my monthly finances posts are becoming every-other-month-ly posts.

I was so caught up with completing the A to Z challenge that I entirely forgot about doing March’s finance post, and now the A to Z challenge is done and it’s a brand new month, I might as well combine both months together.

This couple of months isn’t going to be pretty, primarily because of QQ’s root canal procedure, which I talked about here.

Here’s the breakdown.


QQ’s root canal: $960.12

Lepto Vaccinations: $62

Probiotics: $27.99


Health alone this two months is a whopping $1080.11!

Like I talked about in the root canal post, QQ’s procedure was going to cost us $2300. Luckily we had insurance. But with the deductible and because we had a 80% plan, we still had to pay $960.12 out of pocket. But I’m not complaining because we did make the choice of which plan to take, and insurance did take care of a big piece of the total bill.

We realized QQ didn’t get his Lepto vaccination this year although he did get it last year. We debated for awhile and decided that we go hiking frequently enough and QQ have the tendency to taste weird and strange stuff, it’s safer to get the vaccination. We got it for both QQ and Chyler at our community vet clinic because it’s cheaper. Chyler will need a booster next month because she never got it before.

We have not been feeding any prebiotics or probiotics to either of our dogs before, but we thought it’s better to start now. After doing some research, we decided to go with FullBucket which is supposed to have both prebiotics and probiotics in it. I also decided to start the dogs on In Clover Connectin Joint Support which is a joint supplement. QQ has always been so active and both of them run and jump a lot which is hard on their joints. We’ve fed them both supplements for a couple of weeks now, mixing it in with their food. They both appear to have no objections whatsoever. I’m also adding tumeric in to their daily diet.


Tripe: $36.89

We made no major food purchase this couple of months, which means we are probably due a major food purchase next month in May. We did buy three rolls of green tripe to supplement their raw diet though. I talked about tripe in this post.


Poopbag holder: $10.04

Chyler’s harness: $8

Seat belt hook: $5

The remaining items are just random items. The husband has somehow managed to lose our three, THREE, poopbag holders all within the last month, so we had to go out and buy a new one. We like to hook a poopbag holder on our leash so we never find ourselves without a poopbag when we need one. I used to like hooking one poopbag per leash for both Chyler and QQ, although we rarely take them out separately so essentially we only need to hook it on one of their leashes. But now that I realized the husband cannot be trusted with the poopbag holders, I decided it’s better to just use one, so as to reduce the possibility of losing more holders, and to keep an extra roll of poopbags in my bag.

Chyler have always only had the one hand-me-down harness from QQ’s puppy days. She wears it day in and day out and it’s beginning to smell, especially after she got it wet a few times when she chased seabirds into the waves. QQ had two so he can switch out. We decided it’s time to buy another harness for Chyler so she can switch too and we can put her harness into the wash. We also decided to buy a seat belt hook for her, we used to only have one.


Insurance for two months is $101.98


And that brings the total for March and April to $1242.02. That brings the running average for 2015 to approximately $660. Which is still way over our goal for the year… But what can you do with unexpected accidents like chipping a tooth? I’m trying to make myself feel better that at least whatever QQ had was fixable.


And now for the fun part of the post, Black & White Sunday.


We took this at an off leash park we recently discovered. It had this sculpture consisting of silver poles with a wave like formation. I love the play of shadows on the ground. I thought it looked really cool!

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A to Z Challenge: M is for Mistakes

QQ is our first dog. As first time dog owners, even though we did a ton of research and tried our best to make every decision with as much knowledge as we can garner, we still made a ton of mistakes.

Some of these mistakes were minor, and some were just plain stupid. Such as trying on a backpack on QQ when he was 5 months old. He was so filled with energy we kept thinking of ways to work it off. We read that carrying a backpack on walks help to release extra energy from dogs, so we tried it on QQ. We didn’t consider that he was just a small sized puppy. We put it on him, and he basically sat down and didn’t get up. When we did succeed in luring him to get up with treats, he promptly flopped over and couldn’t get up because of the weight of the backpack.

IMG_0911 12662359485

This backpack is half my size. What on earth are you thinking human? Nope, not getting up.

Silly mistakes aside, there were some pretty major mistakes we made.

I think the worst mistake we made was socialization. To be accurate, the lack of socialization. We were told that we should socialize QQ before he hits 16 weeks old. However, because of QQ’s vaccination schedule, he was only due to get his rabies vaccination when he is 16 weeks old. I was extremely paranoid and didn’t want to expose him to any possible dangers before he is fully vaccinated.

We only socialized QQ with our neighbor’s dogs that I trust is fully vaccinated, and we did playdates with a few of the other puppies that our trainer was also training. We did have our friends over to play with QQ as often as we could. But it was not enough.  We took him to dog parks and took him everywhere once he got his rabies shot, but it was too late.

What we should have done was to take QQ to puppy socials. As frequently as we could, preferably every other day at least. Puppy socials give all the puppies a chance to get to know the world at their own pace.

Someone also told me about a couple that brought their puppy downtown, sat at a highly visible chair with a jar of treats, and basically invited people to pet their puppy and feed him treats. They sat there until the jar of treats was empty and they did this almost daily.

If only I could turn the clock back, this is one thing I would change in a heartbeat. I will socialize QQ everyday between the age of 12 and 16 weeks.

Because of the lack of socialization during this crucial period, QQ is very leash reactive. He goes crazy barking and lunging when he sees a passing dog when he’s on leash. Sometimes, boisterous children also triggers his reactivity. We have been working on controlling this reactivity for a long, long time. It’s very disheartening and it kills me to know that it’s because I was so paranoid about keeping him safe and lack of complete knowledge that caused it. I didn’t believe that waiting  4 weeks before socializing could make such a difference.  But it did.

An article I read said that once the puppy crossed over into 16 weeks, the door slams shut. Dogs mature at a much quicker rate than humans. We always speak of how a dog ages at seven times that of humans. At 3 months, a dog can walk and run whereas a human baby can’t. The article likened it to learning a language. If a kid learns a language well before he turns 12, he speaks it like a native. If he learns a new language after the age of 12, it will always be a second language for him, he can be fluent at it, but it takes a lot more effort and it’ll never come to him as naturally as a native language. Dogs can be socialized after week 16, but it’ll be so much more difficult and they will never have the same ease as dogs that were socialized between week 12 and 16 in the presence of strangers. I’m not sure how much of these information is based on fact, but it do make sense to me. Naturally, this is speaking of dogs in general. Just like there are children that are more linguistically inclined and could still pick up languages easily even after the optimal age, there are probably dogs that have very sociable personalities that are unlikely to show anxiety-related aggressive traits even if under-socialized. Unfortunately, QQ isn’t one of those dogs.

I blame myself often for failing QQ in this matter. So if there’s one advice I can give new dog owners, it is to socialize, socialize, socialize. Especially between the ages of 12 and 16. Play it safe, take your puppy to puppy socials. Take them often. Don’t do it only once a week. Do it daily if you can. It’s only 4 weeks. Work hard for this 4 weeks and it’ll save you so much heartache in the future. And you get to play with so many puppies! It’s definitely a win-win all round.

Black & White Sunday and Black & White Finances

I missed doing the finances for January due to an overload of work, so I decided to combine Jan and Feb together for a post. And which better post to merge it than our weekly Black and White Sunday? After all, numbers are also black and white…

The beginning of the year is never good – vet visits and food replenishment etc always seem to be happen around this time, so sharing Jan with Feb gets a better average that’s not as scary…

I started grouping our expenditure into several groups, partly so we can see which are the groups we are spending more on. And also because it’s easier to list.

First up, Health & Grooming

  • Vet Visit: $186.95
  • Annual Registration: $75
  • Revolution: $163
  • Teeth Scraper/PlaqueOff/Eye Envy/Shampoo: $106.66
  • Coconut Oil: $45
  • Insurance: $101.98
  • Collar (QQ): $3.24
  • Grooming brushes: $22.02

Total: $703.85

QQ was due for his annual health visit. I don’t know why an annual visit cost so much… He did get a fecal test that came back entirely negative and the vet pronounced him as healthy as always, so there’s that. He also finished his annual dosage of Trifexis. We decided to switch to Revolution, which is what Chyler is using. QQ also don’t like the taste of Trifexis and we always have to crush it into a powder and mix in his food. Revolution is just easier all round. Both Chyler and QQ had to renew their pet registration with the county, so that fee is for two dogs.

We brush QQ’s teeth every night, and he gets 24 hour access to antler chews as well as a weekly marrow bone. But we are still seeing plaque/tartar build up. The vet said there’s no need for any teeth cleaning this time, and she doesn’t have any additional advice on what to do about the plaque accumulation other than what we are already doing. I went online and did some research and decided to buy a teeth scraper to manually scrap the plaque off. We also bought PlaqueOff. We’ve only tried PlaqueOff for a couple of days so I can’t say anything about how effective it is, but the teeth scraper is very effective! Chyler has quite significant tartar when we adopted her, and the scraper almost took everything off. QQ’s teeth also looks a lot better. I have to say that this is something that must be used with caution. It’s very sharp and it’s easy to poke the eye or the soft gums of the dog if the dog struggles. QQ is used to us poking around his mouth since he was a puppy so he’s very good about staying still. Chyler is a tiny little thing so it’s easy to hold her still. We only do it together so one of us can hold the dog and cover the eyes while the other one does the scrapping. We also do it little by little, a couple of minutes every week.

Chyler has quite severe eye stains. I’ve tried feeding her Only Natural Pet Pet Tears which we used to use for QQ, but it doesn’t seem to help at all. I read reviews of Eye Envy and decided to give it a try. We haven’t used it long enough to say how effective it is yet. We got another bottle of shampoo to try, but haven’t used it yet for any comments.

We give the dogs pollack oil regularly to help with their coat, but I decided to try giving the dogs coconut oil for a change as that’s supposed to help freshen their breath too. We haven’t tried it yet as we are still finishing up the salmon oil. I might try opening the coconut oil to alternate.

QQ’s old collars are getting stretched out, so I got him a new ID collar that was on sale after Christmas.

The slicker brush we are using is getting too small for QQ too, so I got a couple of new ones. We are still keeping the old one as it’s a perfect size for Chyler.

Insurance is for both dogs for two months.

The Health & Grooming sector is killing us these two months…


Next’s up, Food & Treats

  • Darwin: $167.19
  • Sea Jerky: $16.50
  • Okashi Barkery: $5.89

Total: $189.58

We finished our food around January, so we had to get a new shipment from Darwin. I got some interesting treats from Amazon called Sea Jerky. It’s 100% dried cod skins so it’s high in Omega 3. The dogs don’t get any fish in their regular diet, so I like that they get some in their treats. Okashi Barkery is a local dog bakery that I’ve been meaning to visit for awhile. I love that she sells local baked treats for the dogs. I got two small bags of treats, one spinach flavored, and one calamari flavored. These are such unique flavors and the dogs love them!


Last item is Daycare. We finished our package and I had to buy another one which costs a whopping $500. Last year we spent a total of $780 on daycare for QQ. Chyler didn’t go to daycare last year as we were worried she might be frightened.  This year, we are starting to send Chyler in to daycare with QQ as well as she’s getting more confident. But at the same time, we are also leaving both dogs together at home a couple of times to see how that works out. My hope is that we can do daycare once or twice a week for both dogs so they get to interact and socialize with other dogs and work out any pent up energy, but they stay home the remaining weekdays where they can just hang out with each other. This way we also keep daycare fees manageable.


So the total for Jan and Feb 2015 is $1393.43, which comes out to approximately $700 per month, which is waaaaaaaay over my budget. I am very despondent about this, but I do hope that now the vet visits/food replenishment/annual tick prevent/daycare package is out of the way, the next few months will be better.

And now for a serious Black and White photograph that kinda reflect my serious and black mood…


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