Get Your Dog on a Healthy Eating Plan with FreshPet

freshpet.jpgIf my dog had her way, her only meals would be treats throughout the day and the chicken that my wife makes for the family. Getting her to eat regular dry dog food is a challenge and we continue to try different brands that will hopefully excite her as much as the occasional hot dog (maybe frankfurter is the more appropriate choice of words in this case) coming off the barbecue. I know why my dog loves many of the same foods that me and my family love to eat. Because they taste great. But when it comes to her own dry dog food, I really have no clue as to why she might like one or get easily bored with another. It’s pretty difficult to figure out unless you are eating it yourself, something most people rarely do. Sure I entertain my kids a little by occasionally putting a dog biscuit in my mouth just to see their reaction, but I seldom finish the whole thing. To date, we have still not found a dry food for our dog that she will eat on her own without a little enhancement. Different types of shredded cheese or grated parmesan usually does the trick to coax her into eating everything in the bowl and from time to time, it requires a bit more like pieces of leftover meat from family dinners. When it gets to that point, I know it’s time for a new brand of dog food. As long as we just have to add the cheese, we will continue to stick with the brand which is what we have done recently with Freshpet Fresh Baked.
Dry_02_P.pngThis recently launched brand was kindly sent to our home by the Freshpet team and our dog has been given the opportunity to have it as part of her morning and evening meals for the past couple of weeks. So far the results appear encouraging as she has been finishing mostly everything in the bowl. But again, we still need to add some cheese to get her to eat it. I do like the fact that company is very transparent about what is actually in the food itself with all of the ingredients right on the front of the bag. It is also reassuring to know that it is all natural and made with fresh ingredients, with no artificial or chemical preservatives.
Other appealing aspects of the product included the fact that it is 100% fresh chicken or turkey and that it is not processed at all. Interestingly, there are real fruits and veggies mixed in to the bag. I will admit that curiosity got the best of me when I saw that so I actually decided to try a little piece of the chicken and a mixed in sweet potato myself. While I am not not going to make it a dietary staple anytime soon, I will say that I could actually eat the dried fruits and veggies in there if I ever got into a real pinch. But for now, I think I will let my dog have it. FreshPet is currently sold at Target Stores and an 11 pound bag is approximately $30. Visit FreshPet.com to find out how you can get your pet on the road to a healthy eating routine.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are 100% my own.

The Inside Poop with Santana Feldman

10346464_10152488729725205_2245940093005943819_n.jpgIt has been a long journey for the southern bred pooch. Rescued from the mills of Tennessee and adopted by a loving family of four in Westchester NY, Santana Feldman, who now simply just goes by the name Santana, has become a widely popular figure throughout the parks of New Rochelle. The once down on her luck dog that unknowingly was adopted on a street corner of Manhattan has since taken her new chance for a great life and used it to help find ways to make other dogs in the community happy, physically fit and educated. The days are extremely busy for Santana, packed with car trip errands with her dad, long walks, playdates at the local schoolyard, workouts at the dog park, cozy naps on the living room love chair and of course, the occasional bath. Role Mommy was able to catch up with Santana for a few minutes during one of her short scheduled breaks to talk to her about what life has been like in the suburbs of New Rochelle, how she and the Feldman family have impacted each other and what she wants to educate her canine brethren about.
Role Mommy: So Santana, it looks like you have made a pretty good life for yourself since coming to New York. Was that because of your own will and determination or should we say you got lucky?
Santana: Well it’s probably a little bit of both. I’m definitely lucky to have been taken out of that hell hole down south and know that there are so many others that never get that chance. But I have taken advantage of that luck and am making sure that I do whatever it takes each and every day just to be happy.
Role Mommy: That’s great to hear Santana. But how do you make yourself happy?
Santana: That’s simple. By constantly being around the people that I know love me. Even when they may not quite be in the mood for my playful affection, I don’t give them the choice. They eventually get the point.
Role Mommy: I assume you are talking about the Feldman family.
Santana: Well of course. They are wonderful to me. I have a special relationship with each and every one of them. Darin, my father, is the one I usually hang out with the most, but my mommy Beth and my siblings, Rebecca and Dylan do so much to also love me and keep me entertained. But it’s not just the Feldman family, it’s anyone that comes to our house or anyone that I see during my busy schedule.
Role Mommy: Hmmm. That’s very interesting to hear you say that Santana. So you actually believe that you are a family member?
Santana: Not sure I understand the question. Just look around you. Everything in this house revolves around me. What else would I consider myself?
Role Mommy: Good point. Now let’s move on. Tell me a little about some of your favorite things to do.
Santana: Chase squirrels
Role Mommy: Besides that.
Santana: Chase birds.
Role Mommy: No Santana. I’m referring to the types of things that you like to do and your family actually let’s you do.
Santana: Oh okay. Sorry about that. Well I guess digging large holes wouldn’t be an appropriate answer. I guess I would have to say going to the Ward Acres dog park. That place is just awesome.
Role Mommy: Sounds cool. What do you like about it?
Santana: Where do I even start? I get to see all of my friends from the tiny Boston terriers to the huge Bernese mountain dogs. I can wrestle with any of them and the best of them, playfully of course. I get to run the length of a football field, sit under the shade when I want and catch a water break any time I need it.
Role Mommy: Doesn’t that exhaust you Santana?
Santana: You bet it does. But I love it. Run hard, play hard and then go home and sleep like a baby.
Role Mommy: Does it give you time to eat?
Santana: Of course it does. Why? Do you have a treat for me?
Role Mommy: No Santana, unfortunately I don’t. What I’m trying to ask is with everything you have going on when do you get a chance to have a meal?
Santana: I see. Sorry about that. When I wake up in the morning before the start of my day and at around 6:00 after a trip back from the dog park. By the way, do you have a treat now?
Role Mommy: Still no on that Santana. That’s great to hear that you have two full meals a day.
Santana: And don’t forget a lot of snacks in between along with a sock, a couple of pairs of sandals and all those toys Grandma Sally buys for me me that I like to rip to shreds.
Role Mommy: Thanks again Santana. I think we are actually running out of time. We are so happy to see you are doing well and that you have made a great and comfortable life for yourself. Any last words before we go?
Santana: I don’t think so. I just want to say thank you to Darin, Beth, Dylan and Rebecca for giving me a life that other dogs could only dream of having. And I’m sure they would want to thank me too knowing how much joy I have brought them.
Role Mommy: Thank you Santana.
Santana: Wait, one more thing! Go and rescue a dog. You will be happy that you did.

I Got a Puppy and Lost My Mind

In honor of national puppy day, I’ve decided to share the story behind the newest member of our family…Santana.
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But let’s start with the fourth grade. Yup — that was the year I wrote this poem. (Yes I know I am insane since I have it memorized to this day):
My New Dog Poem, Circa 1978
My dog would have a bone,
That would be hard to gnaw,
And I’d scream in a loud tone,
On the pooper scooper law.
My dog would be such fun,
And we would be so happy,
He would not weigh a ton,
And his name would be Pappy.
But my dream will not come true,
Cause my parents won’t agree,
I’d cry and say “boo hoo,”
But there’ll be no dog for me.
As you can see, I have always wanted a dog. But that dream eluded me…until now. Earlier this year, my family decided we were finally ready for a pooch and we decided to go the rescue dog route. After responding to an email on PetFinder.com, we fell hard for a feisty eight week old puppy who was literally handed to us on the streets of Manhattan. We became her foster parents at that moment and one week later, we officially adopted her.
We fell for Santana hook, line and sinker. Her adorable black and white coat, her playful spirit and the way she would cuddle with us after her little body would conk out after a day running us ragged. At the beginning, Santana had worms, pooped everywhere and was not that interested in her crate – in fact, she whined and cried whenever we put her in there but my dog expert friends, our local veterinarian and my client, i4C Innovations, creators of Voyce, a new health and wellness device and service for dogs and their owners, gave me the best advice I could ask for as we tried our best to train our puppy.
By the time she was 10 weeks old and had all our shots, we enrolled Santana in puppy training classes at Pet Smart. While she graduated after six weeks (we’ve got the cap and certificate to prove it), she managed to eat my husband’s computer keyboard a few days later and exploded all over her crate. It looks like there will be a lot more training in her future.
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Santana has even been on a long road trip. During February break, we drove down to Florida from New York to visit my parents and rented a minivan so that she could travel with us too. We could tell that she loved every minute of the trip. Sure, she had a few accidents here and there, but Santana has become an integral part of our lives. Even my parents, who are not dog lovers, took a liking to her – I even have a photo of my mom walking her to prove it!
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Living with Santana is exactly like having a baby all over again. She gets up at the crack of dawn, she pees, poops, eats, plays, sleeps and then starts the process all over again. She chews on everything and I’ve found that deer antlers and bully sticks, while they smell quite bad, have become our best friend. But the biggest difference between having a baby and having a puppy is simple…dog parks.
Santana has come to love her daily runs in the dog park. When we were vacationing in Florida, we were able to easily find dog parks nearby with the help of BringFido.com and we’ve come to rely on that app to find pet friendly hotels and restaurants too. The only thing we do need to be careful about is when she comes in contact with other dogs who might be a little too aggressive for their own good. When he saw a photo of Santana in the park, expert dog trainer Jeff Noce, president of i4C Innovations, explained she was in a dominant pose (ears were forward and tail was curved) which signaled that if another dog mimicked the same behavior that it could be a dangerous situation for her. She actually had a run in yesterday with an overly aggressive Jack Russell and my husband removed her from the scuffle immediately.
While we still have a long way to go, I feel fortunate to have so much support as we try our best to train our puppy. We’ve got her crate trained, she can do a few tricks and she is so sweet when she snuggles with us on the couch (which she’s doing right now as I write this post). Sure, she still jumps on people when they walk through the door, but Jeff gave me a great piece of advice for that issue. When you come home, you don’t make a fuss, you walk past the dog and take about five minutes for yourself before you return to the dog and spend time with her. That way, she won’t equate the door opening with excitement that someone is about to play with her.
Now that Santana has joined our family, every day is an adventure and while my furniture and floors will never be the same, we’ve welcomed her with open arms. Despite the fact that our cats Hazel and Jasper and the bearded dragon, Guapo might protest, our home is now complete. Sure, it might look like a zoo, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.