April 29, 2015

Feigning Ferocious

The Smackdown

  The Snarly Standoff

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Derps

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April 28, 2015

Boca's Gotcha Day Giveaway

In celebration of her first Gotcha Day - the day she arrived as a "foster" dog in Colorado after traveling all the way from the island of Grand Bahama - Boca would like to share some of her favorite things! Okay...that's not entirely true. Boca doesn't actually want to share her personal stash, but instead keep it all in the dragon's lair she's made out of her Molly Mutt bed. Fortunately, our awesome sponsors have generously provided the following prize package for one lucky reader to win:

  • A dog duvet and matching stuff sack of your choice from Molly Mutt. I got tired of replacing polyfill beds when Ruby decided they were giant chew toys, and decided to try these dog duvets instead. They are available in a variety of sizes and indoor or outdoor fabrics in an array of stylish and adorable patterns. They can be filled with old towels, clothing, or even other dog beds. We are always getting compliments when I post pictures of the Ginger Sisters and their beds on Instagram.

  • A $20 gift certificate from One Dog Organic Bakery, a sweet little dog treat company that we're very fond of. Not only do these treats contain healthy, all-natural ingredients, but every bag purchased is matched with a bag donated to the featured rescue organization of the month. In March, 60 bags of treats were donated to Boca's shelter! The Ginger Sisters' favorite are the ginger snaps (of course), and they have grown accustomed to a bedtime cookie each evening.

  • Two Benebone Wishbone chews. These synthetic chew bones are made in the USA and come in Bacon and Peanut Butter flavors. They are a long-lasting and unique shape that dogs can really get a grip on. We always have two or three around the house and Boca likes to hoard them all for herself. 

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This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. One winner will be randomly selected and notified by email on or around May 5th and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. The prizes were provided by the brands listed above and I received no other compensation for this giveaway. 

April 27, 2015

One Year of Potcake Love

Boca has never once doubted that she was home.

One year ago today, I was anxiously checking my email for updates on Boca's flight from The Bahamas, made up of several legs with a layover in Florida. Her name was then Lydia, she had lived at The Humane Society of Grand Bahamas for about a year after being rescued from the streets, and she was supposed to be a foster dog. I didn't know what to expect...Ruby had made a few dog friends but was highly reactive to dogs in general and I was nervous about the initial meeting. I didn't know what Lydia would be unsure or afraid of, how she would do with my ancient little cat or what she would think of my hyperactive terrier.

I needn't have worried. The hardest thing about fostering Lydia was accepting my "failure" as a foster home - and that wasn't even hard. Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes reminds me that the goal of fostering is to find the dog its forever home, and in that case we succeeded wildly. Even though I didn't officially adopt her until May 18th, as far as Boca was concerned she went home from the airport on that evening at the end of last April. One year later and I can't imagine life without my goofy, gentle potcake. One day before her first Gotcha Day I wanted to reflect on some of my favorite things about Boca Face:


I love her snuggliness. She is the absolute best at squeezing herself in to the smallest space to be close to me, whether that's behind my knees or curled up next to my head on the pillow. She isn't pushy or wiggly, she just settles in with an uncannily soothing presence - my aunt says she is like a cup of chamomile tea. I decided to adopt her at a difficult time in my life, and I will never forget what a comfort Boca was, her affection and assurance a touchstone during uncertain days and nights.


I love her patience with Ruby. My nutty Border Jack can be relentlessly energetic, and Boca allows Ruby to tease her, jump on her, lounge on her and chew on her with limited scolding. They play so nicely together, which was one of my biggest concerns with having two again since my previous two always had a tense relationship. I adore watching the two of them interact and finding them in the cutest napping arrangements together, sharing the dog bed in the sun. Their perfectly coordinating colors and markings are just a small part of what makes them The Ginger Sisters.

Most of all, I love her Bocaness. Her ability to sleep in the weirdest positions, her funny underbite, her frog-legged sprawl, her sweet Eskimo kisses, they way she bumps the back of my legs when she wants to go for walk, how cooperative she has been with me and various vets through ear problems and eye problems, her lovely unhurried strolling pace on walks and how she wags her tail constantly outside, our shared belief that weekends are for sleeping in, putting up with wearing bubble wrap and other silly blogger stunts, what she has taught me about potcakes and other street dogs, her crazy "hubba hubba" growl-bark she makes to get Ruby to play, they way she opens her kennel door on her own, her folded in-between ears that are so expressive, how she gets so excited at meal time, the way she inspires people to smile everywhere she goes, and the ease and determination with which she made herself undeniably at home with us from the start.

April 22, 2015

Ten Seconds Guaranteed to Make You Smile

The Ginger Sisters have been working on their synchronized tail wagging...
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April 20, 2015

Understanding Pet Insurance & Why I Won't Go Without It

 dog wrapped in bubble wrap

If you've been following along with Boca's recent Ocular Ordeal, you know that pet insurance saved our butts on treatments and surgery totaling several thousand dollars. While the process wasn't perfect (my claim was initially denied), it did confirm that buying pet insurance for The Ginger Sisters was the right choice for me, and I won't go without it for my dogs. Pet insurance can be overwhelming and confusing, and there are many considerations to explore before purchasing a policy.

Having worked in the insurance industry for fifteen years now, I am comfortable navigating the fine print of coverages, exclusions and claims, something I know can be intimidating. This is by no means a comprehensive analysis, and although Ruby and Boca are both insured, I won't be specifically promoting or linking to those companies here. I use two different companies and my dogs have two very different policies - something that is nice about pet insurance is that it is very customizable. You can find coverages to fit almost any budget.

I have had claims with each of the companies I use; a small suspected obstruction claim for Ruby (which thankfully turned out to be nothing) and a major claim for Boca's conjunctival graft surgery and associated treatments. Both were handled quickly and I had reimbursements in hand or directly paid to my vet within two weeks of submitting the claims. Something that is extremely important to remember is that pet insurance in the U.S. handles claims on a reimbursement basis, which means that they reimburse you after you pay the vet charges for accident or illness. Some companies will pay the vet directly if this is pre-arranged and agreed upon by all parties.

I want to emphasize that every policy is different. Pet insurance is not required by law and so there is little standardization. Every company provides varying coverage options. I've been happy with both companies I use for different reasons - they each have strengths and weaknesses and I like having the real-life comparison. When shopping for pet insurance, here are some of the most important things to look for:

Limits: This is the amount the policy will pay per year or over the lifetime of the pet. There are some companies that have an unlimited lifetime benefit, and others that offer as low as $1,500 per year. Unlimited policies are going to be more expensive, and lower limits will be more budget-friendly.  Some policies have both annual and lifetime caps.

Deductible: This is the flat-fee amount you will pay out of pocket when you have a claim. Some companies offer an annual deductible and others are per-claim. For example, if you have a $500 annual deductible and submit a $1,000 claim, you would be reimbursed $500 (less your co-insurance and any exclusions or adjustments) but any claim after that within the policy year would not be subject to a deductible. If you have a $100 per-claim deductible, that would be subtracted from each claim. Your deductible choice is reflected in the premium - lower deductibles cost more.

If you want something for catastrophic events, such as a long term illness or emergency surgery, but are comfortable paying smaller bills out of pocket, a mid-range limit, high-deductible plan is a good choice. This is what I have for Boca. For Ruby, who needs more bubble wrap due to her flight-risk, high energy and propensity for eating things like gravel and plush toys, I have an unlimited plan with a low-deductible. Ruby's monthly plan costs more than twice what Boca's does, and my own risk management somewhat backfired when Boca was the one who ended up needing expensive treatment. Choosing insurance can feel a bit like gambling. 

Co-pay or Co-insurance: This is a percentage of a claim that you are responsible for. Most companies offer 70%, 80% and 90% reimbursement rates with a few offering 100%. Going back to that $1,000 claim with a $500 deductible, if you also had an 80% reimbursement rate, you would receive back $400 after your deductible and co-pay were applied (and yet another way in which companies differ is the order in which deductible and co-pay are applied to the claim.) Once again, the lower your co-insurance, the higher your premium will be.

Premiums: This is the bottom line - the amount you will pay for the coverage on a monthly or annual basis. I think many people assume that insurance is too expensive; however, in researching eight of the primary companies I found that premiums can range from as low as $10 a month to as much as $100 a month. I pay $16 a month for Boca's coverage, and if we only ever have the eye claim it will have more than paid for itself in her lifetime. It's one of those things you hope you never need, and if you pay for it year after year without a claim it can be tempting to let it slide. I might be a little superstitious in feeling like that one day I let the coverage lapse is the day something will go wrong. It is well worth it to me to include this monthly cost in my pet budget.

Below is a comparison of the major companies that I put together. The premium range is for a young, medium-sized mixed-breed dog: age, breed and size will affect pricing. I apologize for the tinyness/blurriness and any missing information - this was all gathered from websites. I am happy to email the PDF by request.

dogs insurance vet bills

Exclusions: This is a big one, and one of the most crucial things to understand before purchasing a policy. While every company has different exclusions, pre-existing conditions are excluded across the board. I find that this is often misunderstood and one of the biggest reasons for dissatisfaction with pet insurance. Many people don't think about insurance until something is wrong, and of course by that time it is too late to get coverage. Even if the pet hasn't exhibited symptoms, but had something related to or indicative of the problem previously noted by a veterinarian, it most likely would not be covered because the pet insurance companies will request all vet records when there is a claim.

Even if your pet does have a pre-existing condition, that isn't always a reason to skip insurance altogether. A pet with hip dysplasia could still have a costly gastro-intestinal illness and a pet with allergies could still tear an ACL and require an expensive surgery. Some companies do not cover genetic conditions, alternative treatments, or behavioral therapy. Routine care and dental care are not generally covered under the standard policy, but many companies offer a separate wellness plan.

Other Considerations: Although it can be tedious to pore over policy wording, it is absolutely essential that you understand what you are buying. In looking over reviews on petinsurancereview.com, I found that negative reviews were very often due to a lack of understanding of their policies or insurance in general. A few things to pay special attention to are whether or not the policy covers exam fees (many don't), dental treatment (most don't), whether the reimbursement rate is the same for specialist and emergency treatment, whether medications are covered (some are automatically, others are an add-on coverage) and what the waiting periods are for accidents and illness (most are between 15 and 30 days, many have longer exclusions for hip dysplasia and other orthopedic conditions). It is also important to note that in most cases, once you have a claim, you cannot lower your deductible and co-insurance or increase your limits.

Something that I hear over and over when weighing the pros and cons of pet insurance is the savings account argument. This suggests that it is better to put the money you would pay toward insurance premiums into a savings account instead. If I had saved the money from both dogs' premiums from the time I adopted Boca, I would have had around $500 at the time of Boca's eye issue, and been short more than $2,500 for her surgery. This plan would not work for me, and unless you are able to set aside several thousand dollars right off the bat, you will not be prepared for a serious illness or major surgery. Since pet insurance usually requires vet bills be paid in advance, it's a good idea to have some savings in addition to pet insurance if at all possible. I do think that a savings account is a fair alternative to pet wellness plans, since those are essentially a savings plan with a discount for routine care (vaccinations, elective surgeries, dental work).

I believe that pet insurance is an essential part of pet guardianship, even if that means you are self-insuring with an adequate savings account or line of credit. Personally, I won't ever go without it. Even the healthiest of pets can have an accident or a sudden illness and vet bills can amass into the thousands of dollars very quickly. Veterinary emergencies and medical decisions are so much less stressful for me knowing that The Ginger Sisters have insurance coverage, although bubble wrap is still a good idea...

What about you - did you make it this far through all that "boring" insurance talk? Have you considered pet insurance?

April 15, 2015

Eyes Wide Open

potcake, conjunctival pedicle graft, nonhealing corneal ulcer
No more squinty eye!

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April 14, 2015

Ruby Reviews: The Honest Kitchen Revel

It's no secret that we are huge fans of The Honest Kitchen at the Ginger Sister residence. Ruby and Boca have been eating their dehydrated, human-grade recipes for breakfast for close to a year now. I feed a rotation diet and I think that quality and variety are important for nutrition and healthy appetites. I was excited to hear that The Honest Kitchen was introducing a new chicken formula, highlighting affordability and palatibility. Revel is their lowest priced whole-grain food, and it should please the pickiest pups. 

I normally stick to grain-free kibble, but I rotate between whole-grain and grain-free recipes of The Honest Kitchen.The girls don't have any allergies or sensitivities that I'm aware of, so I'm completely fine with The Ginger Sisters having some "cereal" in the form of oats or barley for breakfast.

As with all of their products, Revel's ingredients are 100% human-grade:  
Free-range chicken, organic barley, potatoes, organic flax, organic oats, green peas, carrots, bananas, parsley, organic kelp, celery, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, thiamine mononitrate
Ruby tends to be a bit picky about her meals, but my dad discovered that adding coconut oil to her breakfast guarantees a clean plate every time. I previously added coconut oil to their kibble in the evenings, but this one little switch has made such a difference for Ruby's appetite. Boca is happy to eat anything I put in her bowl (or that she finds on the ground, unfortunately!). Taste-wise, they do seem to prefer the whole-grain Honest Kitchen varieties, and I feed mainly Halcyon and Keen. I will definitely be adding Revel to their regular rotation! 

As you can see, Ruby was sure to lick every last bit of Revel from her bowl! We're happy to offer you the chance to win a 4 lb box of Revel for your dog, and I'm also throwing in an awesome pair of Robusto bowls like the ones pictured. We won them from Kol's Note's Advent for Dogs giveaway and ended up being sent two sets. They are lightweight ceramic-lined aluminum, easy to clean, and best of all, the orange and white and red and cream are the Ginger Sisters' colors! 

Click here to receive 50% off a 2lb box of The Honest Kitchen.


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Disclaimer: I was provided a 2 lb box of The Honest Kitchen Revel chicken recipe in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I only publish reviews for products I feel comfortable using in the day to day life of my pets.

April 13, 2015

Why Laissez-Faire Attitudes Are Unfair to Our Dogs

It's my job to be responsible so my dogs can be carefree.

No matter how much I talk to the Ginger Sisters and treat them like family, I never forget that they are dogs first and foremost. No matter how well-trained (speaking in general here as I am a dog training novice and an admittedly permissive pushover), no matter how well you think you know your dog, they are living creatures with minds and reflexes of their own. There will always be an element of unpredictability because they are not machines or robots. I've witnessed a few dog-related incidents lately that have made me question what people are thinking and why they eschew such simple precautions as leashes, collars and fences.  

My office is located near a major thoroughfare, which is congested with traffic at rush hour. While driving home from work earlier in the month, I saw a man crossing a busy intersection with a German Shepherd. I had to do a double take to confirm that, to my complete shock and dismay, the dog wasn't wearing a leash or a collar. The man was empty-handed, not even carrying a leash. The dog was following him happily, and the man didn't appear at all concerned. I couldn't comprehend why he was taking such a huge risk. I've seen this before in other parts of the city - people with the leash in their hand instead of attached to their dog, strolling down the sidewalk alongside cafe diners and speeding traffic. It almost seems like arrogant swagger, brandishing (illusory) control. As a chronic worrier who outfits her reactive dog in an array of collars and harnesses with security features and backup attachments, I don't understand the carefree attitude. What if the dog sees a squirrel across the street? What if a car backfires and startles the dog? What if it can't resist the temptation to snatch a cookie from a child and gets a finger instead? A leash can be a lifeline protecting dogs from the world's many variables we can't foresee. Tragedy can happen in a heartbeat. Even to the very best of good dogs. Even to the very coolest people.

A lab mix aggressively charged Ruby, Boca and I at the end of an otherwise wonderful walk on Saturday, just outside the building adjacent to ours. Its owner left their gate open while they were next to their car - maybe they'd just returned with the dog or were unloading groceries. The owner would probably say that the dog is friendly or that it wouldn't go anywhere, and yet as it was barreling toward us with its head low and its ears back all I could think was that I was about to be in the middle of a three-way dog fight, with the strange dog greatly outweighing both of mine. Thankfully, the dog did put the brakes on as soon as its owner screamed "NO!" just before it reached us. It happened so quickly that Ruby barely had time to react. I resisted the temptation to say something and just led my girls off briskly - we were so close to home, anyway. A moment of inattention and a day that could easily have gone terribly wrong, with the animals paying the price as they so often do, and the humans left with apologies and regrets.

Sometimes I do wish that I was a more easygoing person, and that my mind wasn't constantly circumnavigating the world of worst case scenarios, but at the same time I feel that my caution and prudence are assets when it comes to protecting my animals and being a responsible guardian. My animals' lives are not a fair extension of my ego nor should they be expected to transcend their natures. I'm supposed to be the more advanced thinker. These examples are just two of the many instances I see on a regular basis both in real life and on the internet where people seem to let their best judgment lapse. We all make mistakes, but a brazen disregard for safety, thinking that the rules don't apply or that nothing bad will happen is a disservice to the animals we are charged with safekeeping and those that share our space. I try not to take unnecessary chances but I've still had close calls of my own. I use those moments of hindsight to make improvements for the future when possible. It's the best I can do. It's what my sweet dogs depend on and deserve. 

April 10, 2015

Five Intriguing Dog Breeds

Manchester Terrier, photo via Wikipedia
There was a question circulating among my dog friends on Facebook recently asking what five breeds you would love to have. I gave it some thought, since I am always considering dogs past, present and future. On any given day, I see four or five dogs on various shelter and rescue and sites that I'd adopt in a heartbeat.

Every dog I've had has endeared its breed or mix to me. I think Lasya, my Chow/GSD was the perfect mix. I adore Norwegian Elkhounds because of Freya. I'm crazy enough to want another Border Jack, and if all Potcakes are like Boca, I'll take a dozen more.

I haven't had very much contact with four out of five breeds that I've listed - they have simply piqued my interest and intrigue me for one reason or another, some on the esoteric side.

Ibizan Hound: I think these dogs are just stunning, with their tall, graceful bodies, their gentle sighthound temperaments and the EARS. The wire-haired variety is especially unique. I have always been drawn to Spain and its animals - the Andalusian horse captured my heart decades ago, and I took the trip of a lifetime to southern Spain in 2013. The Ibizan Hounds and Podencos are unfortunately in great need of rescue in their home country, and I dream of retiring there and helping them.

Chinese Crested: This is a recent obsession, due in part to a friend rescuing one and learning how fun and trainable they are, but mainly because they look like they were created by Jim Henson and they actually need to wear clothes.

Swedish Vallhund: My beloved Norwegian Elkhound crossed with a corgi. Wolf corgis. Hipster corgis.Viking corgis. I would name my Swedish Vallhund Tyrion Lannister (with the season premiere in two days, I have Game of Thrones on my mind). 

Manchester Terrier: Ruby has given me an appreciation for terriers, and I've always thought that Manchesters were the perfect size in their snappy black & tan suits. Often mistaken for Min-Pins even though they are quite a bit larger, I think they would be a lot of fun (and probably a little trouble, too).

Australian Cattle Dog: The least exotic on my list, I grew up in cattle dog country and several of our family dogs were heeler mixes. I love the herding group in general; Australian cattle dogs are sturdy, smart, and just the right amount of naughty, plus they are always available through rescue.

It's more likely that I'll continue to adopt my dogs rather than seek out one of these somewhat rare breeds (except for cattle dogs), but there are rescue groups for nearly everything. I think these sorts of lists are the fun equivalent to fantasy football for the dog enthusiast. 

What about you? Which five breeds would you love to have someday?

April 9, 2015

The Company of Dogs

This is a typical picture from my childhood and amusingly enough, it holds true today more than thirty years later. I still rock a side braid, there is always a dog around, and my dad is always building something. He planned and built this house practically single-handedly, and we lived there until I went to college. We had five acres in rural southwestern Colorado and I grew up surrounded by animals and nature. I was an only child and our dog, Poppy - an Airedale-cattle dog mix - was my best friend. We would play outside all day long, hunting for crawdads or toads, building forts and playing hide and seek. Poppy was incredibly smart and I had no doubt that she understood most of what I said. I considered her my equal, my sibling, and I suppose it's no wonder that I refer to Ruby and Boca as sisters - primarily to one another but also, I think, to me. I have never known loneliness in the company of dogs. 

April 8, 2015

This Love

 I'm 38 and I'm single and I'm having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine. 

The older I get, the less I feel I understand about love and relationships, but what I do know is that every day my two dogs are teaching me something about compassion, devotion, communication and understanding. My love for them is unfettered by expectation, social construct or ego. It is beautifully uncomplicated and full of joy.

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April 7, 2015

Boca's Ocular Ordeal...Is Over!

I am thrilled to report that following Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of Boca's non-healing corneal ulcer saga, things are finally getting back to normal at the Ginger Sister residence. My three-day weekend was the perfect time to fade out the cone, and while I watched her like a hawk that first day, Boca is far more interested in chewing all the things, sunbathing and napping than rubbing her eye. 

Her eye looks better every day. There is minimal watering, and she is holding it all the way open full time - something she hasn't been able to do in months. If you are curious what it looks like, the photo is here behind a cut. This was taken Friday - the edges of the graft are still sort of raised but it should continue to thin and smooth out. I think it is so incredible that the veterinary ophthalmologist attached the graft with teeny-tiny micro stitches. Can you imagine the steady hand that must take? 

I hope that chronicling my experience will be helpful to others since I could find very little personal documentation about the surgery online when I was researching. We have a re-check appointment on Thursday and after that it will probably be a month before we need to go back.

Boca has been such a trooper through everything - maintaining her goofy, optimistic spirit - but she was so obviously happy to free of the cone! She can fit in her crate (where she loves to sleep of her own accord), curl up in a ball, gnaw on antlers and most importantly, play biteyface with Ruby every morning again:

April 6, 2015

Ten Minute Trick Training and Spring Training Giveaway

I'm very excited to be co-hosting this month's Positive Pet Training Week Blog Hop along with Cascadian Nomads and Tenacious Little Terrier. Not only are we talking about how training can be "fun sized" in easy, ten minute increments, but we are giving away an awesome prize package worth $75!

Ruby knows over thirty tricks and I am always trying to come up with new things to teach her and polish existing cues. I would like to apply for a trick title, but aside from that we trick train just for fun. It's a great way to provide mental stimulation during the long winter months, creates a strong bond and improves communication with your dog.

I use clicker training for shaping and capturing new tricks and also for refining known cues. Yesterday I decided we would work on a few of the tricks that have been in progress for a while, and see if we could have any breakthroughs. I set the timer for ten minutes and used Ruby's kibble dinner as treats. Ruby gets so excited when she sees I have the clicker - she really loves trick training and for this reason kibble is high value enough for her.

I actually think ten minutes is too long to work on one single behavior for Ruby. She is a very sensitive dog and if she is not getting something "right," she can get frustrated. I know it's time to move on to something different if she lays down during a session. She also tends to be an overachiever who will offer a lot of her tricks before I even ask. Commonly when I ask for 'down,' she will go ahead and roll over, or when I ask for 'sit' she will go ahead and sit pretty. I have to be fast with the clicking and treating to mark what I've asked for.

Yesterday when working on one of her more challenging tricks, 'march,' in which I want her walk forward while raising her front legs up high, like chorus-line kicks, I realized the importance of breaking things down into smaller steps. I also learned that I needed to increase the rate of reinforcement (delivery of treats). Eventually I want Ruby to take multiple steps on one cue, but my goal yesterday was just to get one step from each foot. If she took more than two steps I would "jackpot" reward her and give her a small handful of kibble.

I think we made a lot of progress in just ten minutes - a wonderful reminder that everyone has time to train! Whether you want to teach a fun trick or work on something practical like loose-leash walking or recall, dedicating ten minutes a day to training is an easy way to positively affect your relationship with your dog.

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a prize package containing a nosework DVD, puzzle toy and more!

No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and over. Void where prohibited. Giveaway will run from Monday, April 6th, 2015 through Sunday, April 12th, 2015 at 11:59pm PT. One (1) winner will be randomly selected by PromoSimple.com and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize. Participants must read and agree to PromoSimple's Privacy Policy before entering and participating in this promotion. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, KONG, Outward Hound, Zuke's, i-Click, Dogwise Publishing and Howln Moon Press do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. Prize pack will be shipped separately by participating bloggers who donated prize items. Prize pack may not be as pictured. 

This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop - join us on the first Monday of every month to promote positive pet training and share advice and experiences. The hop is open all week long! The next hop begins May 4th with a review theme - please join us if you have a book, DVD or other positive training aid review to contribute.

April 2, 2015

Boca's Ocular Ordeal: Part IV

Hopefully, this series will be winding down as Boca's eye improves day by day following her conjunctival graft surgery two weeks ago. We had a recheck appointment last Saturday, and a few days before I was feeling very discouraged as she still wasn't holding her eye open very much. The day before the appointment, she seemed to turn a corner and by the time we saw the ophthalmologist she was very happy with her progress and said we were on the right track. Boca does seem to be a slow healer, something to take note of. 

She is now off all oral medications, with eye drops twice a day, and is doing better little by little. The appearance of the graft changes as time goes on, and I was told that was to be expected. Right now it is in a very red/pink phase but she holds it open more and more. I was surprised that even though the graft covers a good portion of her eye, she still has a swift blink response, which tells me she retained a good deal of vision. The vet said that the graft will smooth out over the next couple of months until it is fully incorporated with the cornea. We have another appointment next week and with supervision, Boca should be able to lose the cone over the weekend - no Easter bonnet for her!

I expected to be alarmed by how Boca's eye looked - especially because her graft is much bigger than most of the photos I found online. Instead, I am just thrilled that she is feeling better, that she got to keep her eye, and that she is the same goofy, loveable girl. One of her nicknames, Bocacabra (a play on "Chupacabra") fits even more perfectly now. I've decided to call it her "supernatural eye" and this has certainly taught me some lessons about inner and outer beauty that I will delve into in a later post. Dogs are the very best teachers of acceptance and adaptability, aren't they?

I continue to be impressed with Boca's insurance company. They issued payment yesterday for her surgical claim and even with my high deductible ended up covering about 75% of the total bills. I've started a pet insurance discussion group on Facebook. Having worked in the insurance industry for fourteen years, six of those in horse insurance, I am comfortable with the jargon and happy to talk about policy wording and comparisons. I hope you'll join, and watch for my pet insurance post coming soon. Meanwhile, Boca, Ruby and I will be getting back to normal at our house with fewer vet visits and no more cone!