It's Going to the Dogs: Temptalia's Favorites for Dogs

Mellan in an Orvis Bed
Mellan in one of his many Orvis Beds

Mellan is my dog that I’ve had since he was a mere eight-weeks old. He’s just over 10 years old now, and he’s been featured on Temptalia weekly for most of his life (Temptalia is a year older than he is!). I often get asked about his beds and collars, and I thought it might be fun to try something a bit different by writing a post on things I’ve found and loved that are dog-related and not beauty-related. It certainly proved to be cathartic for me to share some of what I’ve learned with Mellan over the years as well as just to write about something not lipstick for a moment (but I quite enjoy writing about makeup 99% of the time!). I’d love to hear about any of your go-to pet products and things that you’ve discovered, too! 🙂

Don’t worry if you’re only here for beauty posts as I don’t expect these types of posts to be too frequent (and this is an additional post to today’s schedule, not in lieu of something beauty-related–it’s a bonus not a substitute!).

Best Dog Beds & Crates We’ve Used

Mellan and I are big fans of Orvis Memory Foam Dog Beds; three of his four (yes, four) beds are their Deep Dish style, which is now called the Bolster Dog Bed. The bed above is their Small size, which was his very first dog bed that I got him after we moved into our 2-bedroom apartment.  For a dog of his size (65-70 pounds), I’d recommend getting a Large bed, but I originally picked the Small because it fits inside his crate, too.  His two other bolster beds are the X-Large size, which I’d say is oversized for him but was the best fit before (they’ve improved their sizing over the years).

Orvis’ beds are by no means affordable, but I expect the fact that I’ve bought four of them is a testament in and of itself of just how happy I am with them.  He is a huge leaner, and he often likes to lay along the bolster and over it, so there’s always one weakened bolster on his beds.  He also likes to slither and keep his rear supported by the bed but have his front half on the floor at times.  Mellan curls up like a croissant as often as he sleeps upside down or completely sprawled out.

The small bed above he’s had for about nine years, and I only recently replaced the cover last year where it had a few patches where it was threadbare from him trying to fluff it up over the years.   The base of his beds are all in fantastic shape. He’s had one of his X-Large beds for five or six years, I believe, as we bought that when we moved into our house.  When we moved into our current house, I bought an additional X-Large bed as we have a bit more space, so he has his larger beds in the family room and my office (where he hangs out with me most of the day). His smaller ones are next to my bed and one in my master closet (where he tends to sleep and where he goes when we’re not at home).

We wash his bed covers every four to six weeks and have been doing so for the life of the beds, which amounts to quite a few washes!  The covers hold up well, and they’re really easy to get on and off.  The base is covered with a water-resistant liner, which helps to protect the memory foam.  I’m incredibly pleased with how well they’ve held up over the years, and I love that I can replace the covers separately.

Sometimes styles and designs go on sale, which is how I justified picking up his fourth bed, their WaterShed Indoor/Outdoor Wraparound Dog Bed.  It holds its shape well, has washed well, and is a great, low-maintenance bed.  Mellan fits perfectly in size Large, as you can see him lounging here.  (He seemed to hate the more cot-like outdoor bed we tried before.)

For travel, we use a foldable, soft crate (we’ve had Noz2Noz in 36″ for Mellan since 2011, which has served its purpose, held up well, and continues to work for us). When we lived in California, we routinely visited my husband’s family and my family, so having a crate that easily folded and fit into our car was ideal.  When he was a puppy, we did crate training, so he has always loved his crate/den area.  I also like that the roof can be unzipped, which can help with height for standing room.  We also use a metal gate with a door (Supergate Portico Arch Gate, make sure to grab bumpers if you use a pressure mounted gate to avoid ruining your walls/doorway!) to keep him confined to my office as needed.  It’s easy to open to get in an out of a room without having to hop over a gate, and the pressure-mounted system makes it really hard to loosen it.

We occasionally use an ultra-wide adjustable gate/play pen for larger areas as needed (like when he doesn’t feel well or if we go on vacation, we’ll confine him to a larger space); my mom and I both love and use the Regalo 192″ Super Wide Play Yard.  It moves and bends really well but stands up fairly well, though she has small dogs and I have one big, doofy dog that doesn’t seem to realize he could a) jump the fence or b) move it himself.

Best Shops for Dog Bow-Ties

Mellan most notably wears a plethora of bow-tie collars, and yes, he has far too many for any one dog.  I’ve donated a few dozen over the years as I’ve picked up new styles for him (it’s a weakness; I’ve been making a concerted effort to resist new ones).  I always get his collars through shops on Etsy, and some of my favorite shops over the years have been: CrewLala, Pecan Pie Puppies, and BigPaw Collars.  If you ever go that route, I highly recommend getting a dog tag clip (we use Rubit), which makes switching between collars very easy.  We also use a tag silencer (Quiet Spot), which I like but don’t love (it’s not quite as silent as I’d like…).

Best Dog Cleaning Supplies & Tools We’ve Used

One, if you don’t know anything about labradors, know this: they shed like crazy.  If you’re unfamiliar one, whatever amount you’re imagining, triple it!  He gets a bath every four to six weeks, and for the last year or so, a mobile groomer comes out to bathe and brush him.  He loves water, though, and he’ll gladly jump into a tub  or shower as soon as I say “okay.”  I presently prefer a groomer since they just do an infinitely more thorough job brushing his coat out than I do (because laziness).

Otherwise, I’ve been a devoted user of Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo for years, which I find does a good job cleansing the fur, leaving behind a pleasant but non-perfume-y scent that keeps him pretty much at no odor for weeks (even up to two months).  I’ll use the Conair Massage Brush for Dogs to help work the shampoo into his coat, which is comfortable to hold and doesn’t slip too much.

For my house, I cannot recommend investing in a steam vacuum if you have any pets prone to accidents in the house.  I have a Hoover SteamVac (most recent version here), which is just superb at pulling up most of the excess liquid and leaving behind a clean, stain-free carpet afterward.  It is heavy and a little more annoying to clean afterward, but for bigger messes, it’s a lifesaver.  I also like it than spot-cleaning devices that you can set and walk away from because it ensures the whole area is clean in one go and minimizes the chance that one spot may be cleaner than the rest of your carpet.  For true spot cleaning, I have been using Simple Solution Extreme (or whatever they call it at the time) for years as it’s just the most effective spray cleaner I’ve come across for lifting and removing stains (and odors) even if I haven’t spotted them immediately.

For furniture, the Fur-Zoff Pet Hair Remover, which feels like a gritty rock, has been the best at removing hair off of fabric surfaces–nothing else has compared, better than lint rollers.  For clothes, I just don’t wear nice things until I’m about to leave, haha–saves on the lint rolling costs.

Mellan’s Favorite Dog Toys

Mellan is spoiled like the prince that he is, but he’s actually a very gentle dog when it comes to toys.  He has no desire to tear and destroy, so his toys last ages.  I tend to donate toys as he accumulates too many.  They’re more likely to get tossed due to him whipping them around and biting them enough that the puncture holes start to open up or seams loosen.  What I’ll say is that most of the “tough” stuffed toys on the market have lasted worse than regular stuffed toys (even children’s stuffed animals).  His favorite toys:

  • Hedgehog — he loves the grunting squeaker
  • Lamb Chop — he seems to love really large, fluffy toys
  • Kong Air Squeakers — he loves the squeaker and how irregular the bounce is of the football one in particular (husband’s least favorite toy; very squeaky)
  • Knotted Rope — he loves to throw it around and whip it back and forth; we prefer 3-knots or greater as if we do play tug with him at all, he regrips all the time, and I like some space between his teeth and my fingers!
  • FrontPet Foldable Dog Pool — he’s a water dog, but we don’t have a pool, so last year I picked up this foldable pet pool, and it was surprisingly durable and useful.  It fills easily, retains its shape without having to fill it all the way (I usually do it about half-way, since he can’t actually swim in it!), drains with a plug (sooo much nicer than most pet pools!), and folds away.  If your dog is a chewer, I wouldn’t recommend as I expect they’ll cause the sides to fail.

Mellan’s Favorite Dog Treats

Like the food we eat as humans, the food we give our pets can be quite personal, and it will be influenced by our own ideas about what is good/bad in food and any particular requirements of our pets.  Mellan is a dog who hasn’t been in great health at any point in his life; he has a laundry list of problems and most of them are lifelong issues.  Since this post is designed to be a comprehensive list of the things we use and love for him, I’ve included some foodstuffs below, but we’ve worked closely with his team of doctors over the years.

  • Fruitable Treats — I try to only buy treats that state calories to avoid overfeeding; these are small, he loves them, and they work well for training, too, since they are small and not too high in calories.
  • Greenies — we used to use Nylabones, but after talking to our vet, think they may be too hard on teeth, so we switched to the ever-popular Greenies, and they seem to do the trick for Mellan and keep most of his fish breath away (his main food is fish-based) and does seem to help minimize the need for professional dental cleaning (he’s only had one or two in his lifetime). That being said, per my vet, there are a lot of factors that go into teeth health and some dogs need yearly cleanings and others need them rarely, often regardless of what pet owners do.  Amazon usually has these at a good discount during Black Friday.
  • Greenies Peanut Butter Pill Pockets — Mellan takes a lot of pills, and he’s had a pillbox for almost as long as we’ve had him (10 years).  In the last few years, he’s had more capsules added to his medications, so these have come in handy. I only recommend them if you routinely use them, though, as I do feel they dry out over time.  Pro tip: smash them into a flat, round shape and then fill with multiple pills and reshape to fool the dog.

What I’ve Learned: Health & Wellness

As I’ve mentioned, Mellan’s health has never been great, though he’s the most optimistic of dogs and you’d never know that he is anything but a happy, healthy boy.  I wanted to conclude this post with some tips, tricks, and insights I’ve learned over 10 years of dealing with:  pulmonic stenosis; severe, bilateral hip dysplasia; severe, bilateral luxating knees; acid reflux; auto-immune canine hepatitis; copper storage disease; and irritable bowel disease.  I think that’s the list.

Keep track of your pet’s behavior.  The more you know what’s “normal” for your dog and what’s “weird” the better you’ll be able to spot signs of possible problems.  For example, for the last year and a half, we’ve been dealing with Mellan’s liver diagnoses, and we’ve discovered that when he chews on his foot oddly and spits it out (almost like it hurts him to chew), it means all the liver values we want to keep down have shot up all over again.  (This was the sign that actually caused me to bring him into the vet–I thought it was a tooth that was hurting him, and the pre-dental bloodwork showed a different story.)

Get a second opinion in the case of severe (or expensive) diagnoses and/or treatments.  Mellan’s hips started to pop out at around six-months of age.  He was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia in both of his hips, and the first orthopedic surgeon we saw said that we had to do surgery (triple pelvic osteotomy, TPO).  The first orthopedic surgeon said he wouldn’t be able to walk by two-years of age if we did not. It was a devastating diagnosis, but I did more reading and talked to my regular vet, and then I used Yelp to find another orthopedic surgeon.

She said one of the most profound things to me (which is something I’ve heard through the years since by many doctors!), which was: “Treat the dog, not the x-ray.” She said that we could try conservative management (a mix of pain medications, supplements, keeping him lean, etc.), and if and when it was needed, we could always do a total hip replacement (THR), which, by the way, is the gold standard for hip dysplasia with a very high success rate.  His third (and current) orthopedic surgeon (since we moved) actually argued that doing a TPO would have been worse and doesn’t recommend it.  Mellan’s over 10 years old, and his hips have not needed to be replaced yet.

You might find you get the same diagnosis and/or treatment recommended, but sometimes, there are alternatives, and the decision of what to do for our pets is often deeply difficult on an emotional level. I’d also say that sometimes it might be prudent to ask your pet’s doctor if there are any alternatives to try, different mix of medications, exercises, or what have you.  We had to switch Mellan’s pain regimen to something else due to his liver diseases, and we’ve actually found that one of the new medications seems to have worked even better.

Also, there are a lot of forums and groups online these days that can be support systems if your pet has a disease or illness.  They can be invaluable in helping one navigate a diagnosis and/or treatment!

Start an emergency fund or get health insurance.  Mellan’s had pet insurance for most of his life, but he was diagnosed with a heart murmur at his first vet appoint at eight-weeks of age (later, officially diagnosed with low-severe pulmonic stenosis and mild tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD)).  I was fortunate enough that I could swing the surgical correction for it, but it made me get insurance straight away for the rest of him.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I know now about dogs, their health, and insurance companies, so I bought insurance for a place that had lifetime limits by category, and those categories were large and encompassing.  Mellan maxed out his lifetime benefits due to his knee surgeries, so I have actually switched to a second pet insurance provider (with a yearly limit instead of a lifetime or condition limit).

Insurance has worked out for me; we came out ahead, significantly, with the first company, and with Mellan’s liver issues, we’re ahead with the second company as well.  I know that not everyone feels that insurance is worth the money, so for those who don’t think it’s the right move, I would highly recommend putting together an emergency fund for any pets to help make difficult decisions a little less difficult. I speak from experience when I say that not having the funds makes everything so much more emotional and challenging, and I’m just very thankful that alternatives were available, have worked in his favor, and that I’ve been able to do everything else I’ve ever wanted to do for him since his original hip dysplasia diagnosis. (I’ve since made it a priority to be able to do a total hip replacement if that’s what we think he needs.)

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Pill pockets are a lifesaver! My doggo rarely needs pills (which is nice since she’s 10 years old, not exactly a puppy even though I still call her one all the time) but when she does, the pill pockets work like a charm. She’d eat them every day if we let her.

They are! I find it’s just less fussy than cutting up cheese and the like… and holds together better more successfully, lol. They are pricey, so I try to get as many as I can in each one when I use ’em! The peanut butter ones are particularly nice since they smell like peanut butter, while the meat ones can be more off-putting (well, to us humans…).

The insurance can help out quite a bit and soften the blow financially, and if you’ve already used up your emergency fund for something else and haven’t had the chance to build it back up, it’s again just really nice to have in case. I’m pretty risk-adverse, though!

As a recent, first time dog owner (my pug just turned 1) this was so nice to read! Although our dogs are very different sizes, the last section was refreshing to read. All I want is for my pug to be happy and healthy so it’s good to know that just watching their daily behaviour is a good indicator of how they are feeling. Would love to see more stuff like this!!

Hope you are enjoying your new pup, Brittany! My family had dogs when I was growing up, and even though one was supposed to be mine, he never really felt like he was mine (my dad took care of most of the dogs’ needs, and they loved him dearly for it), so Mellan felt like the first for me in a lot of ways. I wish I had more photos!!

I love seeing Mellan. He has the same Orvis bed that I had for my beloved Daisy a Bernese Mountain Dog. Daisy passed away almost a year ago and I’m still not over her. I adopted a new little dog who unfortunately has the same name and I didn’t think I could change it since she knew her name. My new Daisy has a small Orvis bed and I need to get her another one for the car. My dogs have always loved Huggle Hound toys and they seem to last pretty well.

I’m so sorry for your loss, ElKay! I hope your new Daisy will continue to help you heal, but I know your first Daisy will always hold a special place in your heart!

Because I absolutely LOVE the adorable pictures and video clips of Mellan that you have been kind enough to share with us, I loved reading about all his equipment to keep him the joyful, playful guy that I vicariously have come to love. I’m not even a dog owner, yet I came away with some powerful insight into his breed, into Mellan as an individual, and how to get better prepared for a potential medical crisis of ones beloved furbaby. Something that I do sadly have experience with having lost my dear little kitty, Pookie, to a 3 ½ year battle with FIV. Also, the grooming issues! Labrador and Maine are pretty darn close geographically, so a Golden Labrador and a Maine Coon Cat both shed ENORMOUS amounts of fur and require quite the commitment to grooming by us, their human servants! You *know* I can relate, I’ve combed, brushed and dematted an entire 6 month old kitten out of my Maine Coon Cat Scunci this past 2 weeks. Oy vey. But so worth it to keep Mellan (and Scunci) as handsome and well coifed as can be! Anyway, thank you so much for writing this!

I don’t envy your grooming activities! The best part about the lab is they’re pretty wash and wear – the coat will benefit from brushing but doesn’t need it to avoid matting and the like. He just sheds… all… the… time. With the warm climate of CA/AZ, it never feels like there’s a break, lol.

So sorry about the loss of Pookie! She was lucky to have you to help her with her battle with FIV!

I have cats but this still has good information for all human companions. I bought my girl an orthopedic bed because at 19, her arthritis is pretty bad and her kidneys can’t handle anti inflammatory meds. But being a cat, she won’t use it. I also rely on Pill Pockets in chicken flavor because my boy needs anti seizure pills three times a day.

I don’t have insurance for these two. The issue I had was that reimbursement rates are based on “reasonable and customary” charges and that was not geographically based. Vet costs in NYC must be higher than national averages so while all the services were covered, the reimbursement amount was miniscule. Anyone contemplating buying insurance should research this aspect before buying.

The first bed I ever bought Mellan (something cheaper), he peed on, LOL. What a bummer she won’t use her comfy new bed!

I’ve never heard of the latter, Lesley! I haven’t had any claims denied between the two companies, and I don’t know that the costs were particularly low. I made claims in CA where the COL is quite high, and the claims I’ve made while in AZ did not seem cheap but they’ve been for his internal issues, which I’m not as familiar with re: costs. Sorry to hear that it did not work out for you and appreciate the insight so I can keep an eye on that in the future!

My family’s corgle is obsessed with that hedgehog toy too!

I’m really glad you included info about pet insurance and having funds for emergency vet care, I think this is a very important thing for people to keep in mind. I want a Great Dane very badly, but I don’t have the money right now to pay for their care if something went wrong, so I’m waiting until I’m more financially secure to get one because I want to be a responsible dog owner.

That’s very admirable, Charlene! Those cute faces can be hard to resist even if the timing is not right so kudos to you for knowing what responsibility you’ll be facing with a pet.

Have you thought about using a slide on tag for Mellan’s info rather than a hanging tag? I use Boomerang tag’s slide on collar tags for my personal info on my lab’s collars because I also can’t stand the sound. The rabies tag is the only I have hanging down off the collar (so it doesn’t make nearly as much noise).

I sympathise with the shedding; my vet jokes that labs only shed twice a year—during the first six months and the second six months. Thanks for a fun post!

I hadn’t heard of them, but I’ll check ’em out! He has four tags in the lil’ pouch, I think.

Yeah, I hear that they have two big sheds a year but have no ability to relate to that. It just feels constant and then maybe occasionally it seems to be, “Hey, I hugged him and I’m only half covered in hair” vs. “Why is there a cloud of loose hair billowing around you every time you move?”

Nobody can truly prepare you for the shedding of a lab until you go through it, though 😉

I enjoyed reading this Christine 🙂 I’ve been reading over the years about new Mellan health issues as they’ve arisen, so it’s really nice to read an overview of all the diagnoses and treatment, and how his pain has been managed. You’ve become so saavy about pet health and insurance issues! Really great advice about pet insurance and saving up a pet fund.

I love each Mellan post and am glad you share them with your readership!

Christine, I couldn’t agree more about having an emergency vet fund! I have needed to dip into it many times. It was so much less stressful not having to worry about the cost during an emergent situation.

Wow this hits close to home right now because one of my dogs is actually in an overnight at the vet right now. He has an auto-immune disease that flared up very badly a couple of years ago. The vet says it’s not a flare up but he’s gone from 70-something to a little over 50 lbs in a short amount of time so the unknown isn’t very reassuring! Your dog being sick is so upsetting because we know they deserve to be comfortable and healthy as possible. And, Pill pockets are awesome for sure, my family and the vet swears by them lol.

And Mr. Mellan is so sweet and adorable! I love when you post about him. He looks great you would never know he has several health issues. I’ll continue to pray for his health and longevity! It’s clear you love him so much and he’s lucky to have such an amazing owner. An emergency medical fund or insurance is brilliant by the way. I am going start looking into it today. This was a great post overall, I hope you do more like this in the future!

Fingers and paws crossed for your baby, Aishah! I hope you and your vet(s) can figure out what’s wrong. The not knowing is so difficult since you aren’t sure what to do for them yet.

Even though we don’t have a dig, I still liked reading your informative article. Mellon certainly is so lucky that he has you and your husband as his mummy and daddy, because he has been so well loved and cared for with his many health challenges.
Lots of really good advice and tips here Christine. Thank you.

Another dog lover/owner here! I love seeing photos of Mellan every week. Apparently, in dog world, Greenies are like manna from heaven! My dog goes absolutely crazy for them. His favorite toys include his Kong (filled with chicken), rope toys, and especially dog puzzles.

My dog has had many health issues over the years, including cancer. We’ve spent a fortune on medical care for our sweet little boy. Thanks for the helpful info about insurance. I am going to look into it. And thanks for this great post. I loved reading it. Mellan is a very lucky dog.

Insurance might not work for your baby at the moment, if he has a lot of pre-existing conditions, but it’s definitely something worth looking into for any future pets 🙂

Any particular puzzles he enjoys? Mellan has one, and he likes it inasmuch as it means treats, but he is like a bull and just tries to use brute strength really… he gets it but he’ll try brute strength first, lol.

That’s what I was afraid of, insurance-wise.

My boy loves the puzzles by Nina Ottosson. He has Brick, Tornado, Miracle, Twister, and Casino. He’s gotten really good at them, though he occasionally gets confused by Twister. My favorite is Casino because I like watching him open the little drawers. He has a few puzzles by other brands, too. His all-time favorite is the Aikiou Activity Food Center, which is a food bowl in puzzle format.

(For anyone new to dog puzzles, they are meant to be interactive. Dogs should never be left alone with these toys. I sit with him, guide him, cheer him on, and pick up the pieces as he removes them so they don’t get chewed up or become choking hazards.)

He has a new rugged treat toy by Kong called Ballistic Hide ‘n’ Treat, which he’s still figuring out. He likes to toss it around until the treats fall out.

Casino is great! It took our pup a few weeks to stop getting frustrated and to understand that he has to remove the bones first to open the drawers, but with lots of patient encouragement from us, he now does the whole thing in about a minute flat! (Just don’t let him be alone with those little removable bones.)

Love the article. I’ll share it with my sister since I don’t have a dog…I AM aunt to a furry four legged little girl named Lucy though. Great idea Christine.

Great stuff!
We just got (as a couple who have been married for just shy of 21-years) our first dog as a couple–a rescue from Mexico, four months ago.
He is a rare Xoloitscuintli (yes, the spitting image of Dante from Coco), which we foster-to-adopted one week before the movie came out in late 2017. Thankfully, in retrospect, as the others who wanted a rescue and saw the photos of a Xolo, went through the roof as soon as we got him.
We’ve had hairless cats (sphynx) our entire married lives and we adore them (sadly, lost our eldest just over three weeks ago–a massive loss and hole in our family, sob) and we were drawn to him, as he’s a hairless dog; my husband has allergies.
He’s an absolute joy, so gentle and loving, and we’re still learning (as he’s, coming from a warm climate in Cabo to a rainy one on the West Coast) what works for him weather-wise, toys and everything else.
We’re unsure what he went through prior to getting him, but there are obvious issues, which will take time.
I think one of the best things we’ve done is start an Instagram account for him, we’ve connected with Xolo owners from all over the world and they have outstanding advice about the breed and their needs–we share a lot of our delights, and health (mostly skin and ear) issues of this breed–it’s been a saviour!
Paws up and long life to Mellan, fur babies and furless ones alike!

Congrats on your new addition, Daenna! I think it would take me awhile to learn how to type out the breed name right, lol. It is awesome that you’ve already started to reach out to other Xolo owners – there is so much info out there, and it can really help to find spots of like-minded owners!

I’m so sorry for your recent loss! They so easily worm their way into our lives and hearts.

I so enjoyed this! We have 4 large breed dogs (black lab, Akita mix, 2 American pit bulls) and our roommate has a Siberian Husky, that I treat as one of my own. I don’t know what I would do without any of them. The lab cost us $5k in 2016 and another 1k last year for varies surgeries and her liver is not in the best shape but she is worth every penny. Akita mix has ear infection issues and skin allergies. The pit bull have been healthy so far but are also the youngest at 4 years old. I’m definitely picking up the Zoff Pet Hair Remover because I’m always trying easier ways to keep hair off the furniture. Thanks for sharing and I love the weekly pictures you share of Mellan!

Wow! That is quite the menagerie 😉 Five big dogs in one space! That is really admirable how they all get along. My husband really loves the look of pit bulls, but we know we’re not the right type of owners for one. Thank you for giving them good homes!!

Let me know how the remover works! It is one of the strangest things I’ve ever used… but it does the trick.

I don’t have a dog, so I kinda skimmed this, *but* I’m totally down with the idea of expanding your posts when they aren’t a replacement to what we all come here for, but an addition. 🙂

You have so many fur loving readers that you ought to do this quarterly, a nice change of pace. I know that insurance can be critical. Having to take over 12K from my meager retirement funds has left me with a score of stress conditions. Reasearch into your breed, through breed clubs and reliable online sources is also critical. Certain breeds are prone to certain conditions and diseases, like cruciate ligaments, cancer, back problems, skin, allergy issues. Being informed and proactive is the only way to go. Patticake is doing great. The toll on me has been immeasurable.

Fingers crossed that there’s a path that leads to less stress for you, KJH, while still giving your babies a great life!

I’m a proud momma of Charlie, a red Boston terrier mix, and Sadie, an English bulldog, so I LOVE this post! Both of my babies are actually still babies (they will turn one in June), but I was previously momma to Lola, another Boston, and Tater, another English bulldog, for 8 and 9 years respectively. I had Lola since she was just 4 weeks old(!) and she was the one who made me a mother.? Tater was a family dog who just so happened to turn into MY dog lol.
I can absolutely vouch for Orvis beds and Kong’s. Both my Boston’s are destroyers and stuffies last anywhere from a matter of minutes to one week around here.
Pill pockets are Lifesavers, Tater had arthritis and bone cancer at the end of his life, and he felt like he was getting treats instead of meds!
Financial planning with pets is SO IMPORTANT. Bulldogs are notorious for health problems and I swear I keep my vet in business. I wouldn’t change it for the world though!! The love and joy pets can provide is indescribable. ?
PS–my babies are also year round shedders and after going through vacuum cleaner after vacuum cleaner, I bought a Shop vac and have never looked back?

Happy to hear that you’ve had good luck with Orvis beds, too, Lindsay! I’m a true believer in ’em.

I remember I wanted a shar pei when I was younger, but they can have a lot of medical problems / health conditions, and I knew it wasn’t a good move as I definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford one properly!

What type of shop vac do you have? I’m assuming there are types…

Oh! This tips and information has been great! We just got a beautiful Border Collie he is so smart and sweet! I been wondering which kinds of strong durable toys to get cause the cheap don’t last an hour. He loves a fuzzy raccoon sort of tail filled with some noisy making plastic (broken already) but he keeps playing with it and a rubber squeaky toy. We have two beds, two water bowls, two feeding plates for patio and inside the house and several tennis balls all over the patio and one of those ropes but yeah, best to get a longer one to be safe with teeth! My dog is male so I guess I won’t be looking for highliters for him! Lol! His name is Zorro since he is white with black patches on both eyes. So cute! They call him handsome many ladies on the street and men. ?

Ooh, border collies are fun, and they can be a handful!

If you are handy with a needle or duct tape, you can get replacement squeakers by the truckload for pretty cheap on Amazon and just put those into stuffed toys. My mom does that a lot since two of the dogs LOVE squeakers and those go first.

Aww thanks so much for that tip Christine. I was just standing at Pestmart yesterday after buying his food Natural Valance then I was researching for some good strong toys. He has a few chewable bones and I bought him a squeaky a small squishy one which he loves. Another he loves and it got destroyed in a second is a tale which had plastic inside I keep stuffing it back. Lol! Like you said, yes, they can be a handful I can just see it how easily he can destroy toys best thing is to take this guy for long walks 4-5 miles he loves it! Then he passes out back at home after playing like a crazy nuts for 5 minutes full of endorphins I guess? He doesn’t dig inside my containers but does outside sometimes. I feel like one of those Olympic curling athlete sweeping every other day border collies are famous for shedding yikes! But otherwise, very smart dog and so, so sweet he’s got my heart stolen for sure! I named him Zorro he has a black patch on each of his eyes and another two on his long body they resemble samples of paintings when people do those swatches on the wall. Lol! He is a sweet monster that’s what I call him. Hubby says I don’t want to leave him now I tell him he’s my boyfriend.
I’m saving this page to refer back when I need something is been so helpful! We previously had a toy Papillon ‘Lucky’ she was so cute and flirty with our rat terrier we had from birth ‘Mickey’ stubborn as a mule but great with kids and another bone digger in the patio he destroyed every table cover, chairpads torn on the deck as if it had snowed but still love them. 🙂

My brother-in-law’s lab destroys stuffed toys sooo quickly! I really feel like the odd one out with Mellan sometimes, lol!

Great name for your pup, Silvia 🙂 I bet he’s a change from your past dogs!

He is! The other two much smaller rascals could fully entertain themselves chasing each other in the backyard. Lol! This one is is big one a working dog he’s got me working allright. I’m going to loose weight again (as I did when I ran marathons not really that much actually I guess you gain muscles). He was a rescue from Mexico also as someone above mentioned theirs is. The owner lives close to us in Culver City that’s a good thing to ask her questions.

My Elroy is half BC, you really have to give them stuff to do or they get sulky and maybe even destructive. Elroy loves herding, agility, fetching, hiking, walking and swimming. He’ll also flush game on trails. He’s half Lab too so I guess I should expect that. Fetching is his fave. Get a chuck it one size larger than recommend to reduce choking hazard or maybe even larger. I use the XL glow ball and it’s a miracle worker.

Thank you so much for the advice. Yes, must keep these guys busy and take him for long walks they are smart and get bored easily but also very affectionate. I’m quite busy with this one! Zorro! Lol! He is keeping me in shape.
I’d like to take him herding that’ll be so great but I live in the city. Are their places you could take them herding? I’m in L.A. not far from Santa Monica beach in between Mar Vista and Culver City.

Definitely a good and welcome article!
My oriental cat died at 5 years old a month ago from a restrictive cardiomyopathy that was diagnosed just 3 days before his passing. It was brutal and absolutely unexpected.
Having an emergency fund or an health insurance would have prevent me hating myself from thinking about financial issues.

Orvis might seem unaffordable on the surface but the face that you can return or exchange anything at any time is fantastic. I bought my dog a collapsible crate from them, took her to a breed club function, and someone’s male dog peed on it.

I asked Orvis for washing instructions, and they just told me to send the whole thing back and I could have a new one. I wasn’t going to argue!

Aw, that’s fantastic!! I ordered the wrong size replacement cover (they changed their sizes over the years), and they were super good about exchanging and looking up the right one that I needed (also appreciated that though they’ve changed names of their sizes, they have references for us previous owners!).

I don’t have a doggo, but any article that has:
1) Pictures of the phenomenally handsome Mellan
2) A subhead titled “Best Shops for Dog Bow-Ties”
…is a must read for me. So awesome!

Irritable bowel disorder is not fun at all. The cat that we had since he was a hand kitten got it at age 2 (very early apparently) and within a couple of year his intestines were so scarred that he wasn’t absorbing food anymore and started to loose weight rapidly. Out of desperation, we started cooking for him and that kept him alive for another 12 years. He turned out to be allergic to basically everything, and even on a diet that he wasn’t actually allergic to, he still got sick without his special food (lamb, quinoa, and carrots ground up like baby food – very very gross, especially for a vegetarian). I truly hope it never gets that bad for you (though I suppose it’s good to know that that’s an option).

Poor kitty! It is a testament to how much love and care he received to last for 12 more years! I was very worried about having to cook Mellan food (we barely cook for ourselves, so it would have been truly a labor of love if I had to) due to his copper restrictions but thankfully, I was able to find a commercially prepared food that was approved by his vet.

His mix of acid reflux and IBD seem to be mostly controlled through low dose of budesonide (prescription) and then he gets a small amount of food around 9-10PM at night (he normally eats at 8AM and 5PM for his regular meals). We also switched to Prilosec for his reflux and shifted his 2nd dose of tramadol (pain meds) to his third meal time. The latter makes him less restless while sleeping and thus more likely to sleep through the night . For awhile there, he was vomiting almost every morning around 5-6AM with blood 🙁 He also would not sleep through the night at all, was restless throughout. It took about two months for us to narrow down causes and make all the changes.

I think it also helped for him to get back on a more fish-based diet (he was on Avoderm Lamb & Rice for about a year, since it was one of the lowest copper foods on the market; Mellan did not seem to like dehydrated foods!). Now that the drugs have worked out the excess copper stored in his liver, there are some more options for food (we’re using Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream; he was pretty much raised on Orijen Six Fish for eight years prior!).

That sounds like quite the balancing act! You two are doing an amazing job dealing with multiple conditions and keeping him HAPPY and HEALTHY. The three of you are good together.

I don’t cook for myself either, but we did eventually figure out how to make it easy on the humans: we made food about once a month and then froze it in daily sized amounts in sealable freezer bags. Every evening: empty out the old bag and get out the next day’s food and put it in the fridge, it’s thawed by morning. If we forget, just put it under a hot tap and it’s thawed in five minutes (and smells vile and is even more delicious than usual for the cat). I think the whole cooking and cleaning up process took maybe 3 or 4 hours, but since it was only once a month, it was definitely doable.

If it came down to it, you could do it, for Mellan! We all hope you never have to.

Aww, I love posts about Mellan! Thank you for compiling this list, I bookmarked it for future reference and added a bunch of stuff to my Amazon lists.
I especially love the Etsy links- my dog uses harnesses because of his glaucoma but I’m a sucker for cute bandanas and these stores sell super cute ones!
I don’t know if you struggled with separation anxiety with Mellan, but I thought I would mention this tip that helped with our struggle: We give him a command to “Guard the House”! and then give him a nice Kong filled with something yummy to occupy him when we left. He started associating the command with the Kong and now that command is SUPER useful to let him know that I’m leaving him and he’ll be okay. I use that command at the groomers, vet, and leaving him with family. It was a tip I learned from a family friend a long time ago and thought it might help new dog owners here! Also if you google Kong recipes you can find some really tasty ones that will occupy your dog for a long time, especially if you freeze the Kong. 🙂

I always thought we would struggle with it, since my husband has worked from home the entire length of Mellan’s life, and I’ve worked at home or gone to school (aka I’m home often). He actually seemed fine for the most part, but when we moved from California to Arizona.. he had a huge adjustment. I’m not sure if it was the actual change in location but rather all of the lead-up and hoopla of putting the house on the market. He chewed the corner of baseboards in my new office, LOL! He seems to be okay now, though 🙂

Thank you for the tips!!

Best tip ever for dogs that need warmth on walks or even in the house on cold day: Gold Paws pullovers! ( They’re microfleece, super thin and weigh nothing. Come in a bunch of colors, plaids, etc. You should see my rescue Chihuahua-mix in her leopard print. I have 7 of them. They’re super stretchy so err on the smaller size. Cinnamon wears a 10 and she’s 12 lbs. Discovered them in a pet boutique in Marin County but haven’t seen them anywhere else. On our walks dog owners are always asking about what she’s wearing.

Wow, this just made me realize how long I’ve been reading your blog! I remember Mellan when he was a young whipper snapper.

I really enjoyed this post. I like the idea of a recurring pet post where we get more in-depth Mellan updates / trivia and people can discuss their pets in the comments! You could even have a theme or reader question like you do in some of your other posts.

I wish Elroy would take to a bed but he never has! He loves being on the couch, bed, or floor. He just usually needs to be right next to us and a bed is too far away! We rescued him as a pup so it’s not surprising. Our other dog (technically my sisters dog) loves any bed he can get his paws on. Though he prefers my expensive pottery barn wool rug to any other sleeping surface!

Luckily, we have pool now in AZ. Elroy is the bigger swimmer but he’s kind of afraid of the pool, he goes in but he’s very goal oriented and will not swim unless fetching is involved. Max, who never really swam swam much even as a younger pup, does laps in the pool. He’ll swim as long as we let him. I’ve been capping off at 45 minutes to an hour of constant activity. Max is about to be 12 and is GSD/Malamute mix and huge. Luckily he’s got no real issues other than hip arthritis. Since moving to AZ and having the pool, he’s going up and down stairs like he did when he was little, very playful, and is getting in and out of the car without help. Elroy is enjoying have grass he can roll in and seems to be moving a little better too as he’s got the beginnings of spinal arthritis at age almost 9.

Our favorite pet item is The Furminator! Natures Miracle is close second.

Happy to hear both boys are enjoying the pool, Erin!! It is impressive to hear how much Max has been loving the pool and how it’s helped him!

I love this post! My beagle boy is my son and absolutely everything to me!! Beagles are obsessed with food and of course I’m obsessed with making him happy!! Which is not a healthy combination. My dog is a treat snob and is hooked on Vera Wellness treats. They are expensive for small little packs at Petco/Petsmart. I get them on Amazon- my dogs favorites are the pork sausages, beef fillets and chicken and salmon. What I like about these is that they are 95% meat. No corn, soy, wheat, none of the bad ingredients. After reading this article I went and bought and Orvis bed for him. My favorite bow tie collars are from Crewlala. Im always checking their sale collars. I have a question how did you find his breeder? I’ve always adopted which has been awesome but it’s so sad because you get so attached and then you just have an estimate of the Dogs age and sometimes you don’t have much time with them. I’m searching for a really good beagle breeder. But am too scared to ask on social media because everyone will clap back about adopting. ??‍♀️

Try contacting any local or regional breed clubs – they are likely to have a good idea of breeders in the area, and you can go from there. If there are any individuals that show beagles at nearby dog shows, that would be another place you could ask!

Mellan is from a backyard breeder, which I would not recommend, as you have no idea how good of a breeder they are (or aren’t) – I didn’t know anything about breeders when I got Mellan.

May I ask what pet insurance company you use? I am researching companies and getting overwhelmed. Thanks for the post! Love your blog!

PetPlan! 🙂 They remain fantastic – made a claim for his emergency stomach surgery (they retrieved a “foreign body,” which turned out to be a mega hair ball) as well as root canal, and they processed and paid out exactly what I expected without a fuss. (The other claims I’ve made have been for his liver diagnosis and ongoing medications/treatments for it, which have all been paid out as expected without any debate or fuss!)

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