Tag Archives: Freshpet

spring_cleaning

Spring Into the Season with Your Pets

Since it’s now officially spring, we can finally start thinking about spring cleaning. After all, it is always better when everything is fresh and new. While you’re cleaning your house and emptying out your closets, remember to include the dogs and cats of your family in the process. The winter months were just as long for them! So here are a few simple, yet crucial things you can do to include your dogs and cats in the spring cleaning.

 

Grooming We don’t need to tell you how good it feels to get a fresh cut. The same should go for your dogs and cats. Take them to the groomer to give them a good wash and trim. Now that it’s getting warmer out, their winter coats should be left behind. Your dogs and cats will look and feel lighter. There’s nothing like celebrating spring with a new ‘do!

 

Exercise Winter pounds are a real thing for both you and your furry family. After all those months of being cooped up inside, it’s time to get outside and moving. Whether you’re going for a jog or a bike ride, bring your pup along. They’ll be more than happy to run with you. There’s no better workout buddy! Check out more exercise tips here.

 

Travel Plans The arrival of spring means that summer vacations are right around the corner. If you’re planning to head out of town and planning to leave your pets behind, make sure to arrange their boarding options soon. As is the case with your own vacation, the earlier you plan the better!

 

Visit the Vet There’s no better time to pay your veterinarian a visit than in the springtime. He or she will give your dogs and cats a thorough check-up and prepare them for the outdoor months of spring and summer. April is Heartworm and Lyme Disease Awareness Month as well, so make sure to get your dog back on his preventative medication, because the warm months bring on those pesky bugs.

 

Restock on Toys, Leashes, and Collars Isn’t it nice when you get a new wardrobe for the spring? We recommend treating your dogs and cats the same way. Chances are, after a long winter season, their toys and collars will have gone through some wear and tear. The start of spring is a good time to throw the old away and invest in some replacements. Your pets will always appreciate a whole new slew of toys to play with.

 

Clean up their Beds In a perfect world, dogs and cats would be able to make their own beds. Since that isn’t the case, your pets beds should be included on your spring cleaning list. Run their bed covering or sheets in the washer and dryer, just make sure to use non-scented detergent and softener. Scented versions may irritate your pet’s

Vital

Our Vital Transformation

photo copy

The next time you’re in your pet specialty store looking for our Vital® recipes, you may notice something a little different. Our Vital packages have a new look to them. But don’t worry, pet parents. While the package may have changed, the quality ingredients and delicious taste that keep your pets healthy and happy are exactly the same. Your pets will eat it all up as usual!

And on top of that, the Vital family is growing even larger. Deli Fresh® Turkey and Chicken recipes are joining the team as Vital Balanced Nutrition. They’re the same recipe, now under the Vital name.

Vital

 

To celebrate the debut of Vital’s new look, we’re happy to announce our Vitals Fresh Look sweepstakes! If you encounter these new Vital packages in the wild –er the fridge, snap a picture. You can send it to us by uploading to our Facebook page, tagging it with the hashtag #VitalsFreshLook or emailing us at online@freshpet.com. You’ll be entered to win a grand prize from us at Freshpet. That means more tasty treats for your dogs and cats.

Tots and Pups Updated Photo

We’re On Team Cuddle…Are You?

We couldn’t be more excited to announce our newest contest: Team Cuddle!

 

Inspired by the adorable cuddling duo Theo and Beau that has taken the Internet by storm, we’ve partnered with Momma’s Gone City and Mommy Shorts to bring you the search for the cutest cuddling photo…and we want you to join in on the fun!

 

Team Cuddle is a celebration of the moments of love that we share with our families, which of course includes our pups and kitties, too. Nothing beats snuggling on the couch with your kids and pup, or your kitty nuzzling up against you when you wake up in the morning.

 

And it’s moments like these that remind us just how lucky we are to have all of this love in our lives. As we’ve seen with Theo and Beau, these moments make for beautiful photos to capture and share with others.

 

So, Freshpet fans, grab your cameras or dig up some old photos, and get into the cuddling mindset as part of Team Cuddle!

 

 

 

Here’s How it Works:

 

We have four downright adorable categories for you to enter, including the following:

Kiddos and Kittens  |  Tots and Pups  |  Sibling Snuggle  |  Family Cuddle

Team Cuddle Blog Collage

 

Starting today, grab your best cuddling photo that you feel fits into one of the categories above and enter in any of the following ways:
  • Post your favorite cuddling photos to the Mommy Shorts Facebook page
  • Tag your cuddling photo on Instagram using #FreshpetTeamCuddle, and be sure to tag @Freshpet @MommyShorts and @MommagsGoneCity to enter!
  • Or, email your entry to TeamCuddle@Freshpet.com. Just be sure to mention which category you’d like to enter :)

 

When you submit your entry, don’t forget to include the first names of all of the family members involved (including your pets, too) in order to be eligible to win. But be sure to enter before midnight on March 3rd, as we’ll be announcing the cutest cuddling moments as our Freshpet Team Cuddle Finalists the following morning. ** And note that you’re only allowed one entry per category, so make sure it counts!

 

And the fun doesn’t stop there. We’ll need your help in choosing our favorite entries, who will be named either one of our Category Winners or, better yet, the Grand Prize Winner, so be sure to “Like” your favorite entries in the Mommy Shorts Facebook album! If your photo proves to be too cute to handle, you might win any of the following prizes:

  • The Grand Prize Winner will receive a cash gift card in the amount of $1,000
  • Four Category Winners will receive a cash gift card in the amount of $250
  • The winners of the “Kiddos and Kittens” and “Tots and Pups” categories will also receive Freshpet Prize Packs, stuffed with Freshpet food, treats, t-shirts, coupons and more!
We’re just getting started and we can’t wait to update you more all about this lovable contest. So grab your loved ones and get cuddling for what is sure to be a fun-filled next few weeks!
Jude Facebook Picture

How A Stray Named Jude Found His Appetite, and Spirit, With Freshpet

The following is a story that is sure to warm your heart.

 

We are proud to introduce Lateefa, who has been involved in the veterinary community for over 20 years. With a heart as big as gold, Lateefa couldn’t help but beam as she described her story to us…

 

Last August, Lateefa was at the Redbank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey for a client visit when she bumped into the head doctor of the facility. It had been a few years since her last pup, a German Shepherd / Collie mix, and she was finally coming around to inviting another into her home. “I’m thinking about fostering a German Shepherd!” she told the doctor. “Oh geez, don’t do it. You know better than anyone else how exhausting it can be. Are you sure you’re ready?” he replied.

 

But there had been an absence of love in her house without a pup, and besides, “If I was going to foster a dog, it’d have to be a dog that really needs me and my expertise, right?” thought Lateefa. And so, she decided to give the gift of her love and care to a pup in need.

 

Lateefa knew that whatever dog she ended up fostering, it was likely that food was going to be an important factor on the road to recovery. So, the doctor at Redbank connected her with Dr. Lisa Weeth, a leading veterinary nutritionist at the hospital who could help advise on the proper food to get her future foster dog eating again.

 

As it turns out, Dr. Lisa Weeth was one of the nutritionists who helped create the original Freshpet formula. To this day, we still work closely with Dr. Weeth on ingredients, nutritional consultation and recipe ideas to ensure your dogs and cats are getting everything that they need.

 

See where this story is headed?

 

Enter Jude. Jude was picked up as a stray on the streets of Helmetta, New Jersey. Jude was believed to be an eight-year-old German Shepherd, weighing in at a dangerously frail 50 pounds – half the healthy body weight for his breed and age. Jude found his way to the Garden State German Shepherd Rescue (GSGSR) in Millburn, New Jersey. A few days later, Lateefa got the call.

 

Jude Beginning

 

Having been told about Jude’s condition, Lateefa was nervous and hopeful that she was up to the task. Jude was pretty much barren of any fur from his rib cage to his tail, with a bulging spine from malnutrition. Lateefa had been told by GSGSR that Jude was struggling to eat, but with Dr. Lisa Weeth’s advice about feeding Freshpet in mind, Lateefa was optimistic.

 

At 2pm on August 8th, 2013, Lateefa met GSGSR to pick up Jude, and braced herself as they opened the car door.

 

Right away, she thought to herself, “Oh my God…he’s got Mange, too.” Aside from a lack of fur, decrepit body and wounded morale, Jude couldn’t receive physical affection because of his lesions.

 

While he may have looked at Lateefa with the gentlest eyes you can imagine, “In 31 years, I have never seen a dog as emotionally broken as Jude,” uttered Lateefa. He seemed eager to get into her car, and from there the two drove home together.

 

Lateefa simply tried to make Jude comfortable for the first few days. With Dr. Weeth’s nutritional advice in mind, a low-fat, high-protein, high-fiber diet was just what Jude would need to find his appetite and put on body weight to aid in his physical and emotional recovery. So, Lateefa pulled out a roll of Freshpet Vital Beef and Bison from the fridge and waited with anticipation to see if Jude would take to it.

 

Within minutes, the dog that struggled to eat while at GSGSR took right to his new fresh, all natural food. “I love the fact that Freshpet is a natural diet,” says Lateefa, “and for the first few weeks I would feed him ¼ pound of Freshpet with a boiled egg and rice six times a day, just to get his weight up.” Finally, Jude was getting into a healthy eating routine.

 

It didn’t take long for Lateefa to begin to notice a change in her Jude.

 

Jude - Eating FP

 

“I genuinely believe that it was his love for food, his Freshpet, that brought him out of his broken state,” says Lateefa. Jude’s favorite Beef and Bison, along with Lateefa’s amazing communication and one-on-one interaction, is what boosted Jude’s weight and lifted his spirit.

 

With Jude eating again, Lateefa got another stroke of luck early in her fostering of Jude. Lateefa had kept in touch with the GSGSR to let them know how Jude had been doing, and was so pleasantly surprised to hear that Freshpet had recently donated over 800 pounds of Vital dog food to their shelter. “We haven’t had to buy a roll yet, all of Jude’s food has been donated from Freshpet,” remarks Lateefa. “He’s absolutely in love with beef and bison – he freakin’ loves it!” In fact, Jude loves his Freshpet rolls so much that he won’t touch kibble if Lateefa tries to mix it in, “He just picks out the Freshpet.”

 

Today, Jude is now over 90 pounds, with a full coat and is finally showing his true personality. “He barks at the deer now – that’s a sound I wasn’t sure he would even make,” says Lateefa.

 

Jude Montage

 

The former stray who suffered from physical and emotional heartbreak, with signs of obvious physical abuse from previous owners, now runs and wines and jumps and nudges you for attention…and his food.

 

“He’s now such a foodie,” says Lateefa, “so much of his happiness came from his food. I really think his Freshpet made all the difference.”

 

Today, Jude is available for adoption and looking for a forever home that can provide him with the same love and care that Lateefa has so generously given. Thank you Lateefa and GSGSR for the amazing work you’ve done to get Jude back to his normal self, and we can’t wait to hear more about how Jude is doing in the near future!

 

Do you have a Freshpet Story you’d like to share? Or do you want to learn more about how we work with shelters across the country? Write a review of your favorite Freshpet recipe or visit our Charitable Donations page at Freshpet.org.

 

Puppies in Super Bowl Commercials

Our Favorite Super Bowl Commercials Featuring Puppies!

The Big Game may have been a bit boring, but many of the commercials during the Super Bowl were anything but!

 

And if there’s any one thing we took away from last night’s TV ads, it was that we were reminded of the Power of the Pup. Several of last night’s most popular commercials involved puppies – and we loved it!

 

Which one was your favorite, Freshpet fans?

 

“Gracie” - This little girl knows how to bargain.

 

 

“What Can You Do With #nocontract?” So…whatever happened to those puppies that Tim Tebow saved? Can we have them please?

 

 

“Slow Bark” – Many of us saw CarMax’s Slow Clap commercial last night. But, did you know that they re-enacted it with only puppies? We can’t stop watching it!

 

 

“Time Machine” - We wouldn’t necessarily recommend feeding Doritos to your pup, but it was cute nonetheless ;)

 

 

5. Doritos’ “Cowboy Kid” – Is there something about dogs and Doritos that we’re unaware of?

 

 

“Doberhuahua” - We’ve heard of some adorably awesome mixed breeds, but this was a first!

 

 

“Puppy Love” - This one’s got everyone talking this morning. Pass the Kleenex!

 

 

Did we miss a Super Bowl commercial featuring either a pup or kitty? Let us know in the comments below!

Vine Tutorial Post

How To Guide: Feeding & Storing Freshpet

One of the great things about Freshpet recipes is that they’re easy to prepare and serve, taking the hassle out of cooking for your pup or kitty.

 

Just reach into the fridge, grab your Freshpet roll, bag or tub and serve to your furball within seconds. But while it’s easy to do this, there are a many different styles and techniques on serving these delicious meals!

 

With Freshpet being such a different kind of food for your pups and kitties, we get loads of questions on the best ways to feed and store our recipes. Over the years, we’ve found a few methods to be the cleanest and easiest to serve and store, all of which we’ve shared with you below. For those Freshpet pro’s out there, this may not be any new news. But for new Freshpet parents, hopefully this helps make feeding Freshpet to your pup or kitty even easier. We’ve also included a fun little surprise at the bottom…

 

What’s your preferred way to serve and/or store your fur-kid’s favorite Freshpet recipe?

 

Serving Freshpet’s Slice and Serve Rolls:

 

Pups everywhere love their Freshpet Slice and Serve rolls! Made with fresh proteins and healthy veggies, it’s a pooch favorite. There’s a really easy way to cut the rolls that we like to think we’ve perfected over the years.

 

Start by poking a hole in the top of the Slice and Serve roll, which in this case is our Freshpet Select Chicken, Vegeatable and Rice recipe. This helps to make it easier to begin slicing. Using the hashmarks on the Freshpet roll packaging, slice off the appropriate amount for your pup based on the recipe’s Feeding Guidelines. Once you’ve got the correct number of slices for your pup’s meal, cut into small chunks, drop into the bowl and voila – ready to serve!

 

Storing Freshpet’s Slice and Serve Rolls:

 

There are a few different ways to store our Slice and Serve rolls that we typically recommend to pet parents. Each is easy to do and safe to store, so it’s really more a matter of preference. Our preferred method for serving pup’s their favorite Freshpet roll is to pre-cut all of the slices and store in a Ziploc bag.

 

   

 

Another great way to store our Slice and Serve rolls is to cap or seal the open end of the roll after a meal. In this case, we used some plastic wrap to keep the air out and to preserve freshness. After serving a meal to your pup, simply cut off a piece of plastic wrap, stretch over the open end and tie with a rubber band. There’s no need to then place it in a ziploc bag (although you definitely can!) as it should be safe in the fridge as long as you’ve sealed it tightly.

 

 

Serving and Storing Freshpet’s Meals for Pups or Kitties:

Whether it’s your kitty’s favorite Freshpet Select Roasted Meals, your pup’s Vital Complete Meals, or a new bag of our Nature’s Fresh Whole Meals, serving this to your fur-kid at mealtime is a synch!   Using a dry measuring cup, pour the appropriate amount of our meals for your pup or kitty. This may take a few different cups full of morsels, but pour in accordance with the Feeding Guidelines that you can find on the packaging. After you’ve said “bon appetit” to your fur-kid, simply re-seal the bag, place back in the fridge and you’re all set until the next mealtime!

 

 

And, for the Grand Finale…

 

Wait a minute, how did this video get in here!? :)

 

 

Here’s Freshpet’s very own Lacey enjoying one of her many days at the office – and staying warm in her adorable sweater!

 

 

Do you have a way of serving or storing your fur-kid’s favorite Freshpet recipe that we didn’t list above? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll share with the rest of our fans!

Blog - Make Your Vet Visit Count

Dr. Katy: Making the Most of Your Vet Visit

When ABC’s 20/20 program aired a TV segment in November titled “Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” it left much of the pet community buzzing with questions and concerns.

 

As we all know, trust in the relationship between pet parent and veterinarian is extremely important. The idea that some veterinarians may have pushed unnecessary services onto pets to make additional money is frightening! But as Dr. Katy points out, the vast majority of the vet community always puts pets and their health first.
 Dog Visiting the Vet

 

One of the best ways to avoid a negligent vet visit is to make sure that you’ve properly prepared going into the visit. To help you prepare to make the most of your next visit to the vet, Dr. Katy shares with us some important tips on how to make sure that your pup or kitty is getting the proper care that he or she needs.

 

From Dr. Katy:

 

When ABC’s 20/20 segment on veterinarians came out last November, it created quite the stir in the pet community. While many of my colleagues were talking about it, I really haven’t heard any concern or questions from any of my pet parents. Hopefully that’s a sign of faith in me!

 

But in all seriousness, this is a very important topic to address. I have the utmost faith in the veterinary community, and the response to the segment on ABC’s 20/20 has shown just how much veterinarians truly do care about the pets that they serve each and every day. Regardless of your personal feelings about the segment, it served as a very important reminder about just how much trust plays a role in the veterinarian / pet owner relationship.

 

With all of the veterinarians that I’ve gotten to know over the years, I genuinely believe they’ve always had one thing in mind: what’s best for your pet. But, the veterinarian cannot do it all by him or herself. That’s why it’s important that you approach each vet visit with the proper preparation and mindset, to help your vet make informed decisions in the best interests of you and your pet.

 

Dr. Katy and Her Dog

 

So I’ve put together some “Do’s and Don’t’s” that I’ve learned over the years since working as a vet. Keep these in mind during your next visit to help get the most out of your time there, and to ensure you and your pet leave on the healthiest note possible:
  • DO: Bring In A List of Your Questions: When heading to the grocery store, we often go with a grocery list in hand because it’s easy to forget everything we need. Shouldn’t the same be for your vet visit? I’d recommend keeping a journal, whether on your phone, computer or a good old-fashioned paper one, where you jot down things that your pet does that might be a concern. Maybe a few times a month he/she drinks a bowl of water and throws it up. Or maybe twice a week she walks away from her breakfast without eating. It’s always better to bring up small problems before they become big problems, and writing them down can help you remember to address them at the vet’s office before life’s other distractions get in the way.
  • DON’T: Bring In Tons of Your Own Research! While we love to see the enthusiasm, it can sometimes be misinterpreted by veterinarians as implying that you don’t trust their knowledge or experience. If you’ve done your own investigating, or perhaps a friend has hinted at a potential diagnosis, feel free to bring it up to the veterinarian, but try to avoid creating a diagnosis before you walk in the office. Sharing what you’ve noticed in your pet is invaluable for your vet, but remember, they’re the professionals and are usually the experts in proper diagnoses!
  • DO: Bring a Fresh Fecal Sample: If it’s time for your pet’s annual exam, then your vet will likely run your dog or cat for an annual parasite check. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea, then your vet may look at the stool to determine the cause. No matter, it’s better to be safe than sorry – and bringing a stool sample can be very telling to your vet!
  • DO: Ask for An Estimate: If your vet suspects a problem that may require additional diagnostics or procedures, don’t be afraid to ask for an estimate. Actually, your vet would probably prefer you be up front and ask to avoid any surprises with the final bill. Everyone stands to benefit this way!
  • DON’T: Bring Everyone to the Vet’s Office: You love your family and friends dearly, but you often only have 30 minutes with the vet, so the fewer guests fighting for your attention, the more time you can focus on what’s important during the visit: your pet! If you do bring your kids along, make sure they’ve got something to remain entertained while mommy and daddy can hear everything the vet is saying.
  • DO: Ask About Your Pet’s Oral Hygiene: Most pets start to have some form of dental plaque and tartar build up after age three. A thorough dental exam should be done by your veterinarian at each visit. Ask if your pet needs a professional cleaning, and what you should be doing at home to keep you pet’s teeth healthy.

Dog's Teeth

  • DON’T: Put Off Exams: Annual exams (or semi-annual for older pets) really are necessary! By having your pet examined frequently, your veterinarian can find and address minor problems early on before they turn into something major. Also, if your pet is having a problem, make the appointment sooner rather than later. There’s nothing worse than finding out that something that could’ve been treated early on was left unaddressed for too long.
  • DO: Ask About Your Pet’s Weight: Studies show that thinner pets live an average of two years longer than overweight pets. With over 60% of American pets being overweight or obese, it’s a serious problem. If your veterinarian says that your pet is obese, don’t take it the wrong way, they have your pet’s best interest at heart! Ask your veterinarian for a detailed weight loss plan, discuss your pet’s diet, routine exercise, etc. By being proactive and addressing this properly, you can get your pet’s weight under control and hopefully gain a few more happy, and healthy, years together.
If you can keep these in mind for your next visit, you’ll help your vet help you in making sure your pet is the healthiest he or she can be – and that’s what’s most important at the end of the day!

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for a new veterinarian for your pets, I like to recommend trying a few reviews sites, such as VetRatinz, which often have lengthy reviews from other pet parents like yourselves about local vet practices, veterinarians, etc. Feel free to post your own as well to help grow this community!

 

Do you have a question for Dr. Katy about your pet’s health? Feel free to ask in the comments below and Dr. Katy will select a few to answer!

Walking Dog in Snow

Dr. Katy: Prepping Your Pet for 2014!

With the holiday season having come and gone, we have so much to look forward to with a brand new year ahead!

 

You’re not alone if you may have indulged a little too much in tasty food and drinks over the holidays as you were enjoying the time with family and friends. While it can be easy for us to head to the gym or make slight changes in our diet to get back to our target weight, it can be more difficult for our pets to shed any unwanted pounds they may have added. According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, on average dogs gain 0.3 pounds and cats gain 0.4 during the holidays. That is equivalent to 5-7 pounds for a human; a lot of extra weight for a pup or kitty to lug around!

 

As I’ve often said before, keeping a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our pets is critical for long-term health and happiness. Unfortunately, because our pets cannot choose their diet on their own, it’s important for us to make sure they’re putting their “best paws forward” when it comes to nutrition and activity.

 

As we head into 2014, here are my tips on how you can help your pet battle the bulge that he/she may have picked up in the new year, and how to monitor their weight throughout the year:

 

A quick check to determine if your pet is a bit overweight is by feeling around the rib cage.

A quick check for excess weight can be done by feeling for your pet’s rib cage, which should be easy to spot if your pet is at a healthy weight. (Photo: elfin_peaz. Flickr)

 

  1. Check your pet’s weight regularly. You can check your pet’s weight at home by gently running your fingers along their rib cage. At a healthy weight, their ribs should be felt easily and have a thin, silky layer of skin moving over them. If you feel your pet is overweight, make an appointment with your vet to discuss an appropriate action plan. You can read more about how to conduct the “feel test” here.
  2. Portion control. Pet obesity is largely due to the overconsumption of commercial food and treats. Feeding guidelines are usually based on a “healthy adult pet” and one size does not fit all. There are many factors used to determine how many calories your pet needs, like life stage, reproductive status, physical activity, and disease conditions, so be sure to speak with your vet to determine what daily caloric intake is right for your pet. This is what we call “target weight,” or the ideal weight for your pup or cat. And while we love to feed our pets treats, these added calories can push your pet over their target weight – so treat with caution!
  3. Read labels. Cats and dogs are natural carnivores and thrive on fresh, meat-based diets. Many traditional shelf-stable pet foods are carbohydrate-based and contain fillers like corn, wheat and soy, which are harder for your pet to digest. Instead, look for all natural food that has meat as the first ingredient, like Vital Beef & Bison or Freshpet Select Chunky Chicken & Turkey slice & serve rolls. A protein-dense food will also help your pet stay fuller longer and provide longer-lasting energy.
  4. Avoid table scraps. Human food is not appropriate for household pets in most instances. A complete and balanced food made especially for pets is recommended, just like all of the recipes you’ll find with Freshpet.
  5. Regular exercise. Keeping your pet active will help them burn calories and gain muscle tone. For a list of fun ways you and your pet can exercise together this year, visit my blog post on 10 fun ways to exercise with your pet.
 
Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen - WikiCommons)

Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen – WikiCommons)

 

 
I hope that 2014 brings many amazing experiences and memories with you and your pet, but most importantly, I wish you a healthy (and happy) year ahead!

 

Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Blind Pups Shelby and Raina Are the Fresh Fans of the Week!

When we started Freshpet back in 2006, we set out with the following mission in mind: “ALL pups and kitties deserve fresh pet food, too.”

 

Since Day One, giving back has always been a core principle of what we do here at Freshpet. And rarely is the spirit of giving more prevalent than during the holiday season.

 

When Kristen with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance posted on our Facebook page about her pups Raina and Shelby, we knew they were special. We asked Kristen if she’d share some more details about her pups with special needs, and got an incredibly heartwarming tale just in time for the holidays. We’re so happy to feature these two pooches as our Fresh Fans of the Week!

 

Fresh Fans of the Week: Shelby and Raina of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance!

 Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Here’s what we learned about Kristen and her amazing dogs, Raina (above right) and Shelby:

 

How Did Raina and Shelby Become a Part of Your Family?

 

One day, I was browsing on PetFinder.com. I came across this gorgeous white puppy with the cutest pink nose you’d ever seen. Her name was Raina, and was born blind and deaf, the result of bad breeding. While I’d never had a special needs pup before, I applied to adopt Raina. A round-trip car ride from New Jersey to North Carolina later and Raina became part of the Murdoch family. Having her in our family has truly changed my life.

 

Did Raina Inspire You to Become More Active With Blind Dogs?
You have no idea! After adopting Raina, I became an active volunteer with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. That’s when I came across other blind pups in need that I couldn’t help but want to bring in under my roof. Shelby, pictured above, is my sixth foster dog for the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. Shelby was found as a stray on the side of the road in North Carolina, who had developed diabetes and has cataracts, not to mention she is blind, but can hear. Despite this laundry list of ‘issues,’ Shelby is one of the happiest and healthiest girls you’ll ever meet. With lots of love and a nutritious diet, thanks to her favorite Freshpet Vital rolls, she is learning to give and receive affection and how to interact playfully with others!

 

What Are Some of the Challenges in Fostering Blind Pups?
The communication can be an issue with dogs that are blind, deaf or both. So for Raina, who is both, it certainly takes some more time for her to learn instructions and how to live in her environment comfortably. We’ve taught our baby Raina touch commands, like on moving directionally, and it’s amazing how quickly she’s picked them up – she’s so smart! But what’s the most incredible thing is that Raina, being born blind and deaf, doesn’t know that she’s different from the other pups – so we try and treat her that way, too. With Shelby, she can often be more scared of her environment because she can hear noises, but not see where they are coming from, and can be startled easily. It is very important to know the needs of individual pets with specific conditions in order to communicate effectively.

 

 

Blind Dog Rescue Alliance  video 2013 Ryot challenge from linda@ssmpr.org on Vimeo.

 

You Mentioned Raina Inspired You – How Else Have You Gotten Involved With Blind Animals?

 

Where do I start!? I coordinate and volunteer for monthly rescue events with Raina and Shelby. I also maintain the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance’s Facebook page, where these two have accumulated quite the digital following. In 2007, I started Lending a Paw!, a community outreach program which has raised over $18,000 in donations to date! In 2011, I received an Honorable Mention for the Humane Society of the United States’ National Kind Teach Award program. When you find something you love, it becomes so easy to get inspired to get involved and give back – and I’ve got my pups to thank for that!

 

What Has the Freshpet Donation Meant to You and Your Pups?
All of my furry girls LOVE Freshpet! The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance volunteers and our blind dogs truly appreciate the generous donation of Freshpet food. I want my pups to eat healthy, but a raw diet just won’t work in this house. So when I first tried Freshpet, my dogs went crazy for it, and to have some donated now is so amazing. To my dogs, Freshpet is not dog food – they think they are getting a special treat. Raina uses her incredible sense of smell around mealtime, which leads her to the fridge, and Shelby and the other girls will “circle dance” when I open the fridge at mealtime. They all lick their bowls completely clean!!

 

Do you have any experience with dogs or cats with special needs? Share their story in the comments below!
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Dr. Katy’s Advice for Beating End of Year Stress

This time of year, it can feel like we’re being pulled in a thousand different directions.

 

There’s holiday shopping, the end of year blitz at work, managing your busy schedule, managing those of your kids (furry ones included), and prepping for the New Year. It can be exhausting. Then, there are so many things that we feel like we should be doing as well: volunteering, giving to charity, going to visit family, etc. With all of that going on, we can forget to take care of ourselves.

 

There’s a known term for letting our hearts get too big and actually causing stress: “Compassion Fatigue.” Whether you’ve got a house full of pets, kids still at home, or are responsible for the well-being of others as part of your career, when you focus on others too much without practicing self-care, that’s when a healthy adjustment might be necessary. While there are many lessons we can learn from our pets, taking time for ourselves to relax is one of the most important and healthy.

 

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As an emergency veterinarian, I have certainly experienced “Compassion Fatigue” in my career. There are days in this job where it seems like everything I see is in critical condition, and every owner has a story that pulls on the heartstrings. Some days, all I can do is stay compassionate and supportive for them and their pets. But when I have my own things to worry about, taking on someone else’s can be draining.

 

While caring for the needs of others is extremely important, balancing their needs with your own is critical. If you’re not happy and healthy, it’s hard to care for someone else! Thus, prevention of emotional, physical and spiritual burnout is key. Here are my tips for surviving the busy (and sometimes overwhelming) holiday season and heading into the New Year with you on your mind:

 

    1. Carve Out Time for You: I know, easier said than done; but as a multi-career working mother, wife, entrepreneur, volunteer, daughter, friend, etc. let me assure you that it can be done. Be sure to make yourself as much a priority as you do everyone else.
    2. Get Some Rest and Manage Your Intake: Beware of yummy “feel good items.” It’s okay to have that delicious Gingerbread Latte occasionally, but having to have one can become a problem. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can make you feel better temporarily, but are not the answers when experiencing burnout. Instead, make sure to get into bed earlier to wake up feeling well rested and with a more positive outlook.
    3. Spend Time With Your Pets: Loads of research over the last 25 years has shown us that living with pets provides numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. In an article I wrote recently, I mentioned that spending more time with our pets could lower our blood pressure, lessen anxiety, reduce allergies, encourage healthy socializing, and boost our immunity. So, there’s a great excuse to build in more time with your pets, even if it’s just a quick walk together or extra few minutes of giving them affection.
    4. Get Some Exercise: Just a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood with your furry friend can make a healthy impact. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural “feel good” hormones. This way, you’ll be doing your body and mind a favor, while helping your pet experience the same. Here are some great ways to get exercise in with your dog or cat, whether at home or on vacation this holiday.
    5. Ask for Support from Those Closest to You: It’s never a sign of weakness to tell those you love that you could use a hand. Perhaps you can delegate a few responsibilities, or ask for them to help you get something done. Or, sometimes just having someone to listen can make us feel so much better. It’s important to be sure to ‘escape’ from the busy lifestyle every once in a while and, sometimes, doing so with a close friend or loved one is the best way!

 

 

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Our pets are great at taking time for themselves, something to emulate! And don’t underestimate the positive effects spending time with our furballs can have on our health. (Photo: Phil Roeder, Flickr)

 

By taking a little time for yourself, you strengthen your own ability to give to others by making yourself a happier person. As we enter the thick of the holiday season and begin to think about the New Year, it’s important that we remember these important tips to take care of ourselves.

 

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and I can’t wait to connect with everyone again in the New Year!