Category Archives: Companion Animals

Chicken Allergy…Who Knew?

My cat has had hideous feline dermatitis for months and months. Scabby, oozing sores that she’d open daily with her itching. Tried everything to get rid of it. Finally, after reading a Review of a chicken free catfood (Instinct), I realized that almost all commercial catfood has some form of chicken in it…and she’d developed an allergy to it.

I spoke with pet store folks about this and they told me that the processing of the chicken is what they figured was causing an outbreak in toxicity to animals. The frozen, or freeze-dried versions are affected as well. I guess it’s the equivalent of ‘pink slime’ in human-grade hamburger in terms of using industrial solvents to clean the chicken.

Gross and disgusting. I’ve finally found Instinct and Evanger’s, both are pretty pure. The dermatitis has gone away.

More About Jane

To add more about Jane  —  I don’t want her story to inflame the anti-dogmushersout there.   Her story is unusual, not born of intentional cruelty but human ignorance.

We dogmushers come in many personas, like horse owners, but most of us are kind and considerate of our animals. They are our canine family, our transportation, our athletic superheros who we depend upon to carry us through this often harsh and brutal land.  Mine are also my business partners. As with all animal partnerships, humans are the weak link, who sometimes lay the burdens of their own emotional misgivings or shaky egos upon these amazing beings.  But most of us love and care for them beyond anything the average person can understand.  They eat the best of meats, salmon, fats, and commercial dogfood. (My favorite costs nearly $50 for 40 lbs.)  They have sound houses with thick straw.   They are well-conditioned, and in that process can perform athletic feats beyond that of any known animal on this planet. Running and pulling a sled for 150 miles per day in sub-zero weather, day after day.  There are no reins, nothing to keep them moving only their own will.  They are bred for this and running is what they live for.  Trying to take one for a “walk” in the summer means you must have strong shoulders and hands. They cannot do anything but pull, and with a smile, while you struggle to keep up.

A Story About Jane

Jane the Gentle Leader
Jane the Gentle Leader

Jane is a blue-eyed beauty, an awesome lead dog that was sold for $4,000 4 years ago from a retiring Iditarod musher to another. She was run too hard and injured, then traded to a veterinarian for vet work. She was made to run 60 miles at -65F
without conditioning and collapsed on the trail. She was then given to me (because it was figured she would never run again I’m sure.) Her original owner was stunned when he heard this story.

She had a slight shoulder injury when I got her. She is a gem, one of those rare leaders you can trust your life to…she is now 11 and in semi-retirement, relaxing under a shady tree as I write this. She is a gentle soul, and I shudder to think what she has been put through.

Last winter, after a huge snow, about 2 ft, our trail was obliterated. The snowmachine guy couldn’t find it in many places, which meant we would sink and flounder  without a base. We had guests, so I hooked up Jane and nine others, put the guests in and off we went. She found the original trail under all that snow.

I was screaming her name and yahooing and tears ran down my face. How these dogs do such things is nothing short of mindboggling.

Mottle’s World

I asked Mottle, the dainty little, mostly-feral tortoise shell cat that has lived in my backyard jungle for 7 years now, if I could write about her.  She agreed — but only if I didn’t divulge her true location on any given day.  She prides herself in being illusive.

Mottle came to live in my compost when she was young and so skinny that she disappeared when she turned sideways.  She loved the compost (it was warm) but was hanging out with a new boyfriend (an unsavory looking fellow) and wouldn’t be lured into shelter until she was full of kittens and autumn was on its way.

I named Mottle after a cat in Timothy Findley’s book Not Wanted On the Voyage which is a dark comedy and fascinating retelling of the old story of Noah and the arc.  In that story, Noah is portrayed as a quintessential patriarch.  His wife, who has no other name but Mrs. Noyes, has a cat named Mottle and both of them can only just barely tolerate the old man (he’s mean).  In preparation for the voyage, Mrs. Noyes brews gin, bottles it in quart jars and hides it in the rafters of the arc.  Once the rain begins and the voyage is underway, Mrs. Noyes and Mottle sneak down to the animal deck each night,  crack open a jar of gin and spend the evening teaching the sheep to sing. I loved that.

So when I told Mottle how she got her name, she chuckled and murmured under her breath as she strutted by on the way to the raspberry patch….”I love to sing!”