Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets. www.greytinspirations.com

Extreme Sheep LED Art

One of my favorite dog videos!  For people who think herding sheep is obsolete.  LOL

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July 28, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Greyt Inspirations - 50% Off Sale

Greyt Inspirations - 50% Off Sale

July 21, 2009 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Huge 50% Off Sale

July 17, 2009 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

A Greyt Inspirations Giveaway!

Be the first to take advantage of a rare Greyt Inspirations Giveaway!

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* While supplies last.

May 15, 2009 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Is your pet getting enough exercise?

Spring is finally here.  I know this because it’s been raining for a week where I live but we still have flowers.  The dogs are spending some time outside.  I have to go out and bring in their soggy toys.  So far the squeakers still work.  But when it’s too wet to go out the dogs have been having some epic play session in the living room…and in the dining room…and in the kitchen…and, well, you get the idea.  They’re dogs gone wild!  If I had a camera they would dance on tables for me.

 

I suppose my dogs are getting enough exercise but it’s not very structured.  Right now they’re in good weight.  No one is overweight or obese.  Taylor, who had lost some weight last summer, has gained weight and he’s in good shape.  He’s 12 and I cook for him a couple of times a week.  He gets mashed up chicken and sweet potatoes everyday in addition to the same dog food everyone else gets.  No matter what I’m doing, when he thinks it’s time for his extra meal he won’t give me any peace until I feed him.  I have to stand guard while he eats to hold the other dogs back.  I tell all of them that I will do the same for them when they’re old dogs.

 

2807890400_b11393ecaf1The truth is that an estimated 40 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.  Pfizer Animal Health found in a recent study that vets consider about 47 percent of their patients overweight or obese.  Only about 17 percent of owners thought their dogs were overweight or obese.  That’s a big difference.  Obviously vets and owners are not looking at the dogs the same way.

 

How can you tell if your dog is overweight?  You should be able to feel ribs.  Not see them — that’s too skinny.  But you should be able to feel ribs when you press your dog’s sides.  Your dog should have a waist or slight tuck up.  Most dogs are not supposed to be built like a sausage.  If your dog has rolls of fat that’s an indication that he’s overweight.  If your dog has respiratory problems then they could be the result of being overweight.  Walking from the yard to the house should not make your dog breathless.  If your dog waddles then you should waddle him right onto a diet.

 

One of the main causes of overweight and obesity in dogs is overfeeding.  Cutting back on food, feeding smaller portions, feeding less fattening treats will all help your dog lose some weight.  It’s not entirely an owner’s fault.  In many cases, if you follow the feeding directions on a bag of food you will be overfeeding your dog.  The best thing to do is to start off following the feeding directions and then to adjust the amount depending on how your dog gains or loses weight.  If you see that your dog is obviously gaining too much weight you should cut back the amount of food you’re feeding him.  If he objects to smaller portions you can add carrots or green beans to his food.  They can help fill him up without adding many calories to his diet.  Give your dog popcorn as a treat.  Most popcorn is low in calories.

 

You should also make sure that your dog is getting plenty of regular exercise.  Walks are a great way to help your dog get more exercise.  If you bike you can buy a springer attachment to let your dog trot along beside you.  Swimming is another great exercise that you and your dog can enjoy together.  Many joggers like to jog with their dog.  If you like to hike your dog can be a great companion.  Whatever activity you like to do yourself, see if there’s a way to include your dog.  He needs the exercise and the two of you can have a great time together.

 

Here’s a cool way one dog likes to get his exercise:

 

 

May 6, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glowing dogs and positive reinforcement

090428-dog-glow-hlarg-7prp600x350There is a perfectly wild story in the news today about dogs that glow.  I’m not kidding you.  I wouldn’t make this up.  Those crazy South Korean geneticists have been at work again — you never know what they will do next.  This time they have cloned a litter of Beagles which glow red under ultraviolet light.

 

South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases. The four dogs, all named “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — look like typical beagles by daylight.

But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs’ nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.

Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world’s first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.

“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

 

This is the first time that dogs with modified genes have been successfully cloned.

 

Now, the purpose of doing this is to show that it is possible to successfully insert genes with one specific trait into cells.  This could lead to implanting other (non-fluorescent) genes that could help treat specific genes.  According to the scientists the team has begun implanting human disease-related genes in the course of the dog cloning.  This will supposedly help them find new treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson’s.  They refused to elaborate on their research.

 

Of course, this is getting into a controversial area.  Some people don’t like the idea of using animals, especially dogs, for this kind of research.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with cloning to reproduce a specific dog or try to improve the chance of reproducing a dog with very desirable skills, such as a drug-sniffing dog.  But I do start to have problems with cloning in order to give dogs specific diseases for research purposes.  I’m not sure how moral it is to clone dogs in order to give them a disease.  My personal opinion is that we can’t afford to forego all animal testing.  Without it we would be living in the dark ages as far as medicine and health care are concerned.  Something to think about.

 

box-largeIn other news, there’s a great article about the woman who trained Bo Obama, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, in USA Today.  The really interesting part of the article is that Sylvia-Stasiewicz discusses a bit about her training methods and she’s completely committed to positive reinforcement.  If you don’t know this term it means that she trains by using treats and praise and rewarding a dog when he does something desirable.  Positive reinforcement largely ignores a dog’s “bad” behavior so there’s no punishment or corrections, no pain or yelling.  It is, as the name suggests, a very positive approach to training dogs.

 

Positive reinforcement is already a popular training method.  It’s great to see it getting some attention.  Maybe this will encourage even more people to consider training classes or to find out about positive reinforcement.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Trek and doga

We have another story somewhat related to the Leona Helmsley story earlier this week. How many of you are Star Trek fans? If you are from my generation (and I’m not saying what generation that is) then you couldn’t escape growing up with Star Trek. That means that you know who Gene Roddenberry was — and you probably know who Majel Barrett Roddenberry was. Well, Majel Barret Roddenberry, Gene 425barrettmajel121808Roddenberry’s wife, died late last year. Her estate is now in probate. According to documents obtained by E! News, Mrs. Roddenberry has left $4 million to her dogs so they can continue to live in one of her mansions. She’s left another $1 million to their longtime caretaker, Reinelda Estupian, and residential rights in the home.

“I do not want the animals to be placed in a kennel or other boarding facility,” Majel stated, adding that she also wished for her trustees to hire someone to check up on the dogs periodically, “to be certain that they are being cared for properly (as I cared for them during my lifetime).”

Unlike Leona Helmsley who left many close family members out of her will, Mrs. Roddenberry left $100 million to her 35-year-old son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr., to be paid in installments.

Gene Roddenberry died in 1991. His and Mrs. Roddenberry’s ashes are to be launched by rocket into orbit next year.

If you’re familiar with the Star Trek series and movies you know that Majel Barrett Roddenberry played Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi, the voice of the ship’s computer, and made a few other appearances over the years. Interesting to know that her dogs will be benefiting from the Star Trek empire.

I’m starting to wonder how these millionaire dogs spend their days. What do you think they do with their time after their owners have passed away and they are living in total luxury? Do they have a personal chef? A masseuse? They probably have a swimming pool. I wonder if they simply lie beside the pool or if they get in and swim a few laps. I wonder if they have a wardrobe and expensive collars? Does the vet make house calls for them?

artdownwarddog2cnnMaybe they need to do doggie yoga to handle all of the stress of being rich, celebrity dogs. CNN has an interesting story online about doga — doggie yoga. The reporter, unfortunately, has kind of a snarky attitude, but the class sounds kind of interesting.

“There are a lot of people who think it’s a little silly, but the class is very lighthearted,” said Sophie’s “mother,” Grace. She carries Sophie around in a Louis Vuitton bag that’s bigger than my apartment. “No one takes it too seriously. It’s just a chance to bond with your dog and have fun,” she said.

Another class member brought her “baby” because she thinks he’s a bit too hyper and needs to chill out.

Instructor Kari Harendorf has been teaching doga for several years. She said she believes the classes are perfect for these stressful times.

“It’s actually been proven scientifically that just the simple act of petting a dog will release happy hormones in humans and will lower their cortisol, which is the stress hormone,” she said.

“Studies have also shown that it goes both ways, that when dogs receive the petting and attention that their stress levels decrease.”

By the end of our session, the dogs did appear to be more “blissed out,” to borrow a term from Harendorf. Not a bark or a growl was heard. The only person panting was me.

I keep promising myself that I will give yoga a try. I even bought the mat and a DVD so I could attempt it at home. The only problem is that every time I try to get started I am surrounded by five dogs snuffling and nosing me in the floor. Maybe if I try to make them part of the session I will have more luck. Instead of doing yoga I should be trying to do doga. I will say that even doing it the way I’ve been trying has been a stress-buster. You can’t stay very stressed when you have five dogs trying to play with you in the floor. We usually end up rolling around and laughing. It’s all good.

Embedded video from CNN Video

April 23, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why you shouldn’t get a PWD

I literally can’t help myself. Just one more Obama puppy video and then I promise I’ll stop for a while.

 

In related news, maybe we should talk about the reasons why a Portuguese Water Dog isn’t for everyone? As you can see for yourself, these are medium to large dogs and they are very active. They’re also very smart and bold. Sure, they like to cuddle as much as the next dog, but they’re also up for sports and adventure. If you can’t provide those things for them they may get bored — and bored dogs can get into trouble no matter the breed or mix.

The AKC and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America have been very up front with the media about the temperament and activity levels of “Porties.”

“This breed possesses a lot of energy, so without training or a job to do, the dog may entertain itself by running full-speed down the West Wing or barking at Republicans,” said Mary Burch, Ph.D, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and CGC Director. “That type of behavior may not make the best impression on visiting dignitaries, so we recommend that the Obama’s enroll Bo in an obedience class such as the new AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program.”

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy stands for what every puppy needs – Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible Owner. Dogs up to one year of age are eligible to enroll in a six-week puppy or basic training class that is instructed by an AKC approved CGC Evaluator. Classes include valuable training tips for puppy owners such as housetraining and lessons on practical skills for puppies such as coming when called. The program is a pre-cursor to the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, which teaches and rewards dogs with good manners at home and in the community.

As a purebred, the Portuguese Water Dog has a predictable temperament, activity level and coat type, which is ideal for allergy sufferers like Malia. They are loyal and loving companions, cherished by many Americans throughout the country. However, the breed was developed to be a working animal and requires daily vigorous exercise. Historically, the breed spent most of its day swimming, assisting its fisherman owner by retrieving broken nets, diving for fish and delivering messages between ships.
 
Although currently only the 64th most popular breed in the United States according to 2008 AKC registration statistics, the Portuguese Water Dog’s popularity is likely to rise due to its appointment as First Pup. Therefore, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, the AKC Parent club which monitors the health and well-being of the breed in U.S., has issued a press release of their own to urge the public to be cautious before jumping on any trend that involves a living animal.
 
“PWDs are classified as working dogs. That means they enjoy being given jobs to do where they can display their intelligence, strength and stamina,” said Stu Freeman, President of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. “Like all dogs, they need positive training and socialization.”

According to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, this is the most publicity the breed has ever received since they were introduced into the United States in the 1960s.

“While the PWD is a wonderful family pet, we want to use the increased interest in the breed as an opportunity to educate people about it,” said Freeman.

“We encourage those who may consider adding a Portuguese Water Dog to their lives to do the proper research to ensure that this breed fits their lifestyle.”

Jean Hassebroek, Corresponding Secretary of the PWDCA said, “The best thing about the breed is its versatility – PWDs have been full-time sheep herders, R.E.A.D. therapy dogs and we even had a FEMA 1 hero. But, they can also be champion couch potatoes, content to just hang out.”

Because PWDs will form a strong bond with their families — even a “First Family”– they don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time or when boarded in kennels. PWDs enjoy participating in activities with their family such as youth soccer, baseball and basketball games, picnics, hiking or any other outing, especially those near water. They do well in homes with children, but it’s possible a PWD could mistake a small child for a littermate and play too hard. In general, small children should never be left unsupervised with a dog of any breed.

The PWDCA is comprised of 1,500 members devoted to the well-being of the breed. Its members are available to discuss:
. The history and traits of PWDs
. How to responsibly acquire a PWD
. Health issues in the breed
. Grooming requirements of PWDs

For more information on Portuguese Water Dogs and to obtain a copy of the PWDCA Puppy Information Pack visit www.PWDCA.org or visit www.AKC.org/breeds/portuguese_water_dog.

(Each of the 161 breeds registered by the AKC is represented by a Parent Club, which oversees the breed standard and seeks to protect the welfare of the breed. )

If you think you may be interested in a Portuguese Water Dog then, by all means, investigate the breed. But don’t get a dog because someone else has it. Make sure any dog is a good fit for your lifestyle. The AKC recognizes over 160 distinct breeds. There are over 400 breeds worldwide. And there are many great mixes available at animal shelters. All of this means that you should take your time to find just the right dog for you and your own situation. Consider things like the size of the dog when grown, his energy level, his historical background — if he’s a terrier he may not leave your garden alone, for example; if he’s a sighthound he may see other small pets, even cats, like prey animals. Consider potential health problems in the breed or the health of the parents. Is it important that the breed is good with children? Do you need a dog that gets along well with other dogs or with other pets, like cats or other dogs?

By considering temperament, size and tendencies before you get a dog you have a much better chance of choosing the best dog for you — a best friend who will live out many long, happy years together with you. Don’t just follow a popular trend. You wouldn’t do that with other important decisions so don’t do it when choosing a pet.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The story behind the new White House puppy

How cute is he?

How cute is he?

As we posted yesterday, the new White House puppy definitely seems to be on the White House premises. He’s scheduled to make his first public appearance on Tuesday of this week but there’s some speculation that he may show up at today’s White House Easter Egg Hunt, just in case you want to have your TV on. Puppy – kids – Easter egg hunt? Oh, yeah! How cute would that be?

The Washington Post must have had a team of reporters working on this top secret story — Mrs. Obama promised them an exclusive. But they were scooped this weekend by a couple of Internet web sites: FirstDogCharlie.com and TMZ. It happens. Even PetConnection.com had a great interview on their web site last night with Charlie/Bo’s breeder.

The Washington Post still managed to provide some great stories about the new puppy. They have an article today about how Bo (as he will be called) ended up with the Obamas. It was a story with a few twists and turns.

Photo released by the White House.

Photo released by the White House.

Bo was born in October, along with nine littermates. His breeder was already a big Obama supporter and gave the litter a “Hope and Change” theme. Consequently, all of the puppies had registered names that had something to do with Hope or Change. Bo’s registered name is Amigo’s New Hope — perfect for President Obama’s dog, don’t you think? Senator Ted Kennedy, who also got a puppy from this litter, has a puppy with the registered name Amigo’s Change to Believe In.

When he was old enough Bo was sold to a woman in Washington DC who had just lost her old Portuguese Water Dog. But she still had another old Portie. She thought that the puppy, whom she named Charlie, would be good company for the old girl. Unfortunately, Charlie proved a little too much. For one thing, he tried to nurse on the other dog, which some puppies will do. The other dog was not happy about this situation. And, sometimes bringing a puppy into a home with an old dog, especially if they may be grieving, can be a problem. So the owner decided she couldn’t keep Charlie.

That was in March. It was at this point that the Kennedy family learned of Charlie’s situation from his breeder. They put two and two together — realized that Charlie needed a new home and that their good friends the Obama family were looking for a Portuguese Water Dog puppy, and, well, having the Obamas meet Charlie seemed like a great idea.

Bo meeting his new family.

Bo meeting his new family.

When Charlie met the Obama family he seemed to win them over. Charlie has been learning a few more manners since then from the dog trainers that Senator Kennedy uses for his dogs. Senator Kennedy seems to have given the puppy (now named Bo) to the girls this weekend.

As you can see from the pictures Bo is perfectly adorable. He’s about six months old now and everyone should be happy with the way things turned out.

Of course, not everyone is happy. The Internet has been lit up with people complaining about the Obamas’ puppy choice. Many animal rights people are angry because the Obamas didn’t get a dog from an animal shelter and because Bo comes from a private, hobby breeder. In fact, he’s an AKC-registered purebred dog from champion breeding.

The fact is that if you are looking for a specific kind of dog you are usually better off going to a breeder. In this case, Malia Obama has dog allergies. The Obamas couldn’t just adopt any dog. Even some mixes and hybrid dogs which claim to be hypoallergenic aren’t always. For instance, the Labradoodle can have three kinds of coat — wavy, curly and straight like human hair. All of these hair types can show up in the same litter. To find a hypoallergenic Labradoodle the Obamas would have had to meet many dogs individually, something that the First Family may not have had time to do. Hybrid dogs are also not breeds in the true meaning of that word. They don’t “breed true.” You can breed two Labradoodles together and not get any puppies that look like the parents. All of these things make it hard to choose a Labradoodle or a mix from a shelter for a person who is allergic to dogs.

The fact that Malia is allergic to dogs also means that she probably can’t personally visit animal shelters or rescues. Those are the last places where a person with dog allergies should go.

There are good, practical reasons why it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Obamas to adopt a shelter dog in their situation. There’s also the simple matter of children (and adults) having the right and privilege of choosing a breed of dog that they like and being able to get it. No one should get a dog from a shelter or rescue simply out of guilt. Guilt is a terrible reason to get a dog or to do anything else.

An adult Portuguese Water Dog.

An adult Portuguese Water Dog. Courtesy American Kennel Club.

There are some people clamoring that President Obama should have set an example for the whole country by adopting a rescue dog. How about congratulating him and his family on setting an excellent example for all of us on how to go about carefully choosing a dog based on what’s right for your family? They waited until they were settled in their new home. They researched dogs and breeds paying special attention to their special circumstances (allergies). They met the dog before agreeing to get him. They made sure that the dog received appropriate training to help him settle into his new life. This choice was obviously important, especially to the girls, and they didn’t rush into it.

Lest anyone criticize any part of this process, this puppy comes from a responsible breeder who sold the dog to a responsible owner. When the home didn’t work out, the breeder was there to take the puppy back and find him a wonderful new home. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. And, because this breeder has been successful and responsible for a long time, she has sold dogs repeatedly to Senator Kennedy who was instrumental in finding that new home for Charlie/Bo. Do you think that Senator Kennedy would keep going back to her for dogs if she didn’t breed good dogs and have an excellent reputation?

I really don’t see what people have to complain about with Bo being chosen by the Obama family. We wish him a long, happy, healthy life and we hope Malia, Sasha and the whole Obama family will be delighted with him.

Can’t wait to see him!

You can find out more about Portuguese Water Dogs on the AKC web site. Here’s some great video of these very active dogs (and some cute puppies).

April 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | 1 Comment

What to feed your dog

The San Francisco Gate’s Christie Keith (always a good writer) has an interesting article online today about feeding your dog a raw diet:  Raw food for pets?   Christie feeds a raw diet herself and I think she’s a little more biased toward this way of feeding than I would be, but it’s a very interesting article.

 

118405415_e03f850cf6_mAs she points out, there was no commercial dog food until the 1890s.  You can get the whole story of the creation and development of commercial pet food from the Pet Food Institute web site.  They’re the “voice” of the pet food industry.  Dog food got its start when American James Spratt, a lightning rod salesmen, was in London.  He was offered some awful ship’s biscuits for his dog to eat and decided that his dog deserved better.  He created the first “dog cakes” — baked dog biscuits with wheat meals, vegetables, beetroot and meat.  From that start a little over 100 years ago dog food has slowly developed into the recipes and forms we know today.

 

2959686334_9b8128b0a5_mCommercial dog food today has to meet minimum nutritional standards.  All this means is that it has to provide a certain amount of protein, fat and a few other ingredients.  The minimum requirements are often far different from the amounts provided in premium foots.  The FDA and AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials which provides the labeling guidelines that most pet food companies follow) provide some guidance about what goes into commercial dog foods but there are many ingredients that would probably shock owners.  There are also formal definitions for the ingredients on the label of your dog’s food.  For instance, consider the following forms of chicken that may be in your dog’s food:

 

Chicken – the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.

Chicken By-Product Meal – consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.

Chicken Liver Meal – chicken livers which have been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.

Chicken Meal – chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.

 

The manufacturer can claim that the food contains chicken no matter which of these versions of chicken is used in the food.  Some are better than others.  If your dog food contains whole chicken as the first ingredient, that chicken is full of water.  It may appear as the first ingredient listed on the label since ingredients must be listed by weight before processing.  In actuality, after processing when the water is removed, that whole chicken will be a much less significant portion of your dog’s food.  Chicken By-Product Meal is usually considered an unsatisfactory source of protein for dogs.

 

Because of the difficulty in verifying what kind of ingredients dog food contains and how it is processed; and because of the increase in dog food recalls in the last few years, more people have become interested in preparing their own food for their dogs.  Some people simply feel that dog food prepared at home is healthier for dogs.  Whether that’s actually true or not is debatable.

 

2773213408_4aa8eccb96_mThere are concerns about preparing food for your dog.  One concern is the problem with bacteria like E. Coli and salmonella.  If you buy meat in bulk and work with it in your kitchen there are concerns that you may not be able to keep bacteria levels down.  Advocates point out that wolves and dogs in the wild eat raw animals and carcasses and that they must also have bacteria, but our pets aren’t wild animals.  Most domestic dogs also live longer and enjoy better health than wild animals.  Could that be partly because of commercial diets?  E. Coli and salmonella in your kitchen can also be transferred to humans.

 

Another criticism of feeding raw diets is that it’s hard to get the nutritional requirements right for your dog.  The big dog food companies spend a lot of time and money testing their foods and doing research on canine nutrition.  A lot of what we know today about dog nutrition is thanks to companies like Purina, Waltham-Pedigree and Iams.  It’s true that the process of making kibble may destroy many vitamins because of the high heats involved but other vitamins and minerals are added in.  Can dog owners meet the exact nutritional needs of their dogs by feeding a raw or homecooked diet at home?  Feeding a wide variety of meats and other foods can help, but dog owners also have to add supplements and probiotics to try to meet their dogs’ nutritional needs.  It’s always something of a guessing game.

 

Finally, there’s the cost and preparation time.  Feeding raw and homecooked food to your dog usually costs more than buying commercial dog food, even if you buy in bulk or through a cooperative.  If you buy meats in bulk you will need to invest in an extra freezer.  You may also need to consider a meat grinder if you buy meat with bones.

 

None of this information is intended to discourage people from feeding raw or homecooked food to their dogs.  I feed homecooked food to one of my dogs who wasn’t doing well on kibble after he turned 12.  But there are pros and cons to feeding raw and homecooked food.  I doubt that they’re going to replace the ease of feeding commercial dog food.  And there are many good commercial dog foods available for anyone who does some research about foods.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment