A coworker of mine recently told me about a charity event where a local dog photographer, Alex and crew from Zilker Bark, was taking Valentine’s Day portraits at a charity event. I immediately was all in once she told me about this opportunity! My initial reaction was that I’d selfishly have a great, professional picture of Fiona in her all her grey glory (pictured in a flower crown provided by Ben White Florists!!). It’s pretty much all I need right now since she’s getting to be an older girl!
Proceeds from the event were going to a local dog rescue called Lizzy’s Animal Hospice. This is not just any dog rescue… it’s a senior dog rescue! By experiencing the aging process with Fiona I have a soft spot in my heart for senior dogs! The incredible wisdom and love they provide are unmatched. I also find their temperament to be way more my speed than a puppy’s: very chill, self-assured, calm. It’s one of the many reasons why I chose to love and live with mastiffs at the end of the day – they’re super low-key.
The event was open to the public (although you did have to preregister for the photos) and it was pawesome! When we showed up, there was a giant line (no worries as that was a good thing) to check-in. The gal who checked us in was so kind and complimentary of both Fiona and my friend’s dog Murphy (Instagram @goldenboyatx). As they were being fitted for their crowns, Fiona’s chin strap broke immediately because I think her head was too big for it. Yep, that’s a giant dog problem! Once we got the crown locked into place, up she went to quickly get her pictures taken! Click! Flash! I absolutely LOVED the experience!! Once we got home, the photographer posted that they photographed 240 dogs in 3 hours!! Talk about a wonderful experience and terrific contribution to the community!
Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden
I had never been to Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden and it blew my mind. They atmosphere was so hospitable and very dog friendly! Like a lot of Austin eateries, it had a substantial outdoor area with ample seating. There were a couple of food trailers there as well but we had already eaten so didn’t sample the cuisine. Seems like another reason for us to go back (when it warms up 🙂 )!
Top Reasons to Visit Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden:
Dog friendly outdoor spaces!! It got a little muddy with the rain sprinkles and cold weather so wear shoes you don’t mind covered in a bit of dirt if the weather looks dicey. They had a lovely fenced in garden too which I thought was awesome!
Great beverage selection! A small group of us stayed to hang out after the session was over and this place had a variety of beverages! Beer, coffee, kombucha, sparkling water, list goes on! Oh yeah and tons of water for our dogs!
Considerate and nice staff! The weather was crazy cold and we were able to sit outside because the staff kept outdoor fire pits fed with cedar logs!
If there were any down side, I’d have to say parking was tight. We lucked out as someone was leaving just as we were pulling in. Outside of that, it was easy to find and get to!
I have zero complaints about this wonderful event! There were so many cool dogs to look and at a really great venue! Hopefully they’ll continue with this in the future as it seemed to create so many happy and smiling faces while giving back to a noble cause! Valentine’s Day is only a couple of days away but you would have thought it was on Saturday because there was so much love in a little brewery in Austin!
Creamy or crunchy peanut butter? Cocktail or beer or wine? Dogs on the couch or on their bed? Oy. I know. I know. Dogs on furniture are not exactly ideal. It hinders a certain cleanliness factor that we all want (and quite frankly need with giant breeds in my life). On the flip side, they also provide a nice warm blanket (cause they’re so big) when you want to cuddle and relax. I’m just wondering… who’s side are you on? Get on up here and let’s cuddle or go lay down in your bed?? Let the great furniture debate begin!
Life When They Were Younger
I was in my early 20s when I got Fiona so the only furniture we acquired was the free type! Any sort of hand-me-downs and Craigslist items I could find seems to suit me just fine. After a couple of years out to the curb it went and on to the next set of “newer” used items. When Bruce came into the picture, I was older and my style was evolving. I wanted to get pieces of furniture I liked because I liked them. Not because they were free. Hello gigantic three-piece sectional! Bonjour king-sized bed!
When I acquired all these fabulous items I was a single girl and loved the companionship of having my dogs sit and watch whatever was on Bravo with me. Loved. This. Feeling! At night there was no better feeling than to be in a sandwiched between two giants and sleep until one of their dreams or snores woke me. Which inevitably happened daily..
Since moving in with my guy, he has respectfully opted out of my usual routine of blankets or sheets to protect the couch. I thought I was saving the amount of fur that could make it’s way into all sorts of crevices by putting sheets on top. Instead we are trying to “retrain” the dogs to not get on the couch. Imagine how that’s going when the floors are damn cold in the winter and they’ve been allowed up there their entire lives. I feel for them! However, summer’s they’ll be grateful for non-carpeted floors.
All Things Take Time
You can only imagine how well that’s going when their entire lives have been pretty unrestricted. At first it made me feel really sad to deny that heavy Bruce head an area of the couch to sit and hang with me. After a month or so, it’s been getting better and they aren’t doing anything when we’re at home. Therein lies the caveat. “When we’re at home.” I’ve on occasion ran back in the house forgetting my tea or something and I walk into all dogs wherever they want. They aren’t stupid. When that door locks, they have free range. Honestly, I couldn’t even get mad. Instead of fussing about it, I applauded them on knowing that they can really do whatever the f— they want.
After presenting a case to the fella, we decided to adopt a “don’t invite them up and don’t get upset if it happens” policy. This new household policy means:
Don’t know what’s happening when we aren’t in the house so can’t get upset if we don’t “catch them in the act”
Don’t invite them up with you: It’ll take some getting used to but its compromise for the humans.
Make sure all the dog bed options are available and if possible keep a nice inviting Nylabone on each bed… you know, a reason for them to get cozy.
Bed is definitely off limits. Two humans in a king size bed is wonderful. They don’t seem to mind actually because they’re all in the room with us anyways which I think they find to be the best part.
Interested to hear what y’all think and if you allow your dogs on the furniture!
“How much do they eat?” “What do you feed them? Small children?!” “You must go through a lot of food!” “How much do you spend in dog food?”
Above are frequent questions I encounter by loving giants. My response to those questions are (in order): “A lot!”, “Mainly just dog kibble”, and “A. Lot.” I try not to think about that last one because… it’s adds up!!
Bruce had his annual at the end of last year and because of his breed and age, we’ve decided to change up his diet a bit! Our brand of choice has always been Hill’s Science Diet. I’ve always fed this brand through every stage of their lives and have received terrific feedback from my vets and others who see them on the street! My dogs love it and it’s always kept them healthy and looking really good!
The new bag of food for Bruce is the Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Healthy Mobility. It now means Fiona and Bruce are on the same bag of dog food again (the stars have aligned)! Mainly we discussed him switching over to a joint based diet food because of his size. With the mass he carries on all his bones, something extra for those joints would be oh so helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and giving him the boost where his body could use it!
Weight: 185 lbs Age: 5 years old (36 years old in human years) Quantity: Eats twice a day; 4 cups per meal totaling 8 cups/day. Side note – Bruce isn’t keen on people food. You’d think for a guy his size he devours everything in sight… not the case!
Weight: 115 lbs Age: 9 years old (61 years old in human years) Quantity: Eats twice a day; 2 cups per meal totaling 4 cups/day. After Fiona’s last annual, I increased her amount slightly as she lost close to 10 lbs in a year. My vet decided it was probably because of how her body is metabolizing protein. She is also getting egg whites occasionally to help give her some extra protein.
I’m very grateful that the high-quality that Science Diet provides allows me to feed them less cups per day. I did a random Google search that showed the average mastiff (180 lbs) ate about 10-12 cups a day (“That’s crazy!” – says the lady with two mastiffs).
This isn’t an advertisement. I didn’t get paid to write this but would looove some compensation in the future! The math behind what I’m spending and have spent on dog food in the past 9 years makes me wonder why sometimes. (DON’T DO THE MATH) Then I look at those drooly faces after their breakfast and dinners and Those foamy, slimy faces tell me “Thank you for loving us enough to care about what goes in our bodies.” Almost immediately followed by drool on my clean clothes.
Recently, we’ve moved into a house with a sizable yard (yay!)! As convenient as it is to open the back door and know they are safely outside doing their thing, it takes a toll on physical activity for both the pups and me! During the winter months, the cold mornings make it doubly challenging. While some find the brisk, crisp air invigorating, we find cold mornings harder to maintain our routine of hitting the streets for an exercising walk. Rather than surrender to our cozy beds, here are a couple of things we’ve tried to help get us up and out!
A Few Ways to Get Motivated and Move:
Dress appropriately – seems obvious, right? In cold weather months, coats for both pups and humans help a lot! Fiona has a coat that doesn’t cover all over her body but keeps her fairly warm. Bruce on the other hand has nothing. I can’t find anything that will fit him outside of equine apparel… giddy up! Bruce’s internal temperature registers so hot, I’m not really all that concerned with him.
Hot months require a Kool Collar or something comparable. I’ve found the Kool Collars work with the size of their necks (larger than my waist!) and I’m able to use both indoor and outdoor with the gel inserts provided. I really like this product!
Find a new time to hit the streets! Another obvious way to combat the freezing mornings and go later in the day. Recently we had a random weekday off so we walked to the park at 3:00 pm. The much warmer temperature made it more enjoyable for me (selfish? yes.) and also increased my desire to be outdoors!
Explore! Take a new path or go down a new street outside of your regular walk. Luckily, if you’re like me and walk with 300+ lbs of dog no one will bother you! Who knows what adventure or cool finding you’ll have.
Pop in those earbuds! Listen to that album you love or the podcast you’ve been putting off! What I’m listening to depends on the day I’m having or had but usually anything gets me in the mood to move. For morning walks, it’s pretty uplifting, good feeling music that wakes me up nice and slow.
With the new move into a home from apartment living, the convenience factor is definitely trumping that quality time. At the end of the day, it’s the time spent with the dogs doing something I know they love and know is keeping them healthy that keeps me going!
The annual vet visit occurred! Let’s rejoice in ensuring that bodies are healthy and if not, remedying those particular issues so we can be! Vet visits can be anxiety ridden for both pup and human alike (mainly me).
Great news from the visit: Fiona is looking great and at 9 years old for a giant breed her body is doing all sorts of good things for her!
Weight under control – she’s going to start eating more protein because I found out girls her age sometime don’t absorb protein at the same rate. Now, I can start making egg whites for us both!
Teeth, ears, and eyes look good – I’ll be continuing with our ear wash remedy to remove gunk from her horizontal ear canal
Joints look good – phew!
One problem – She has a UTI. Got antibiotics will be better in three (3) days, woo!
The Problem at Large
Fiona (even as a puppy) has always had issues with UTIs. She’s prone to this issue as she’s a bigger girl that doesn’t lift much off the ground when she goes no. 1. Her lack of unknowing cleanliness is an issue I’m pretty aware of as we’ve gone through multiple throughout her lifetime. It’s a horrible feeling for her because I can see the shame in her eyes when she has an accident inside. And she never goes inside…
Making Her Feel Better
After a visit and conversation with our vet (Matt), we are exploring a couple of really great options both in the now and down the road. Here are a few of the recommendations he suggested:
Antibiotics – Fiona’s lab results showed she needed medicinal help (which I personally use as a last resort). Antibiotics are the most effective because of her lab results. I’m grateful she takes these down without any issues. No problems just putting them in her regular food and down they go!
Hibiclens Antimicrobial/Antiseptic Skin Cleanser – Due to Fiona’s lack of hygiene, as a preventative, I’ll be cleaning her problem areas to ensure she’s getting properly sanitized.
I’m happy to report that she’s doing much better and back to her normal self!
It’s a new year and we are very excited to welcome everyone to our new blog! For those of you who don’t know us, I want to introduce to Bruce (left) and Fiona (right)! We experience life through new adventures and trial and error but we wanted to discuss share some of the things we’ve gone through (and are going through)!
Looking forward to letting y’all in a bit of our world and seeing what stories you all have to share!