Monday, January 6, 2014

$40.00 [Kurgo Wander Bed]

We have one of each type:  a "hot" dog (Betelgeuse) who wants to sprawl out on a cold hard floor and a "cold" dog (Lulu) who is constantly looking for somewhere soft to curl up and snooze.  Traveling with our hot dog is easy -- she'll sleep anywhere -- but we needed a good compact travel bed for the cold dog.

A few years ago, we purchased the Kurgo Wander Bed (Medium, $40.00), and it's gone everywhere with us since then.  Two features make it different (and better) than most of the other travel dog beds on the market:
- It rolls up like a sleeping bag, secures with velcro, and has a handle, and
- It has a waterproof bottom, and it's thick enough to stay warm even if the ground is cold.

Great for camping, for car rides, and for visiting family and friends where dogs are not allowed on furniture -- a rule my dogs cannot even begin to comprehend.  We're in Vermont now, and the Wander Bed is a nice place for both pups to get comfy in an otherwise bare-bones room where they can't get up on the beds.

Because even our "hot" dog needs a warm bed in Vermont during the Polar Vortex of 2014.  It is -14 degrees Fahrenheit outside!

A bonus for us:  even the medium size is big enough for everyone (two dogs and a human baby).  $40.00 for a solidly constructed dog bed for the perfect mammal pile!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

$0.02 [Toxoplasmosis]

Cat butts on door knobs.

When I see photos like this, I can't believe I didn't test positive for a Toxoplasma infection.  I have had ample opportunity to become infected.  One life could not possibly have been filled with more cat poop.

I requested a toxoplasmosis screening test from my doctor because, wait for it, I'm pregnant!  Yep, we're expecting a little human sibling for Lola, Betelgeuse and Lulu in less than six weeks.

If the tests results were positive, it would have meant previous exposure and immunity, so the baby and I would not be at risk for contracting toxoplasmosis during my pregnancy.  (A first exposure to toxoplasmosis during pregnancy = really really bad news.)  But I tested negative, so I have spent most of this year being ever vigilant in fighting feline fecal matter.  Lola may not carry Toxoplasma, but this is another one of those better-safe-than-sorry pregnancy rules.  Kyler had to assume full responsibility for scooping the litter box and all cat and dog poop from the backyard (Lola's actual litterbox), which, I'll admit, hasn't been so bad for me.  But I also had to be careful when spending time in the backyard or gardening -- no fun -- and extremely diligent in cleaning surfaces in our apartment.  Because, let's face it, when you live with a cat, cat poop can be anywhere.  See photo above.  The proof is in the pudding/the cat butt on the door knob.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

$11.00 [A Dog Toy the Size of Your Dog]

Betelgeuse has (finally) fully recovered from last week's sickness.  Thank you for your get well wishes!

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A few weeks ago, we shared a room at La Quinta Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia with my brother, his lovely girlfriend, and their dog, Rigel.  My puppy nephew has gotten so big!

Rigel had this big plush squeaking bunny dog toy that he just loved.  He would squeak it, shake it, hold it, hump it.  I had never thought to get my little dogs such a big toy, but it was super cute to see Rigel and a Rigel-sized bunny locked in an embrace.  So on our way out of town, I stopped into a pet store to purchase Betelgeuse her own big plush squeaking bunny.  Only this pet store didn't sell big plush squeaking bunnies, so I got her a big plush squeaking blue dog instead.*  She loves it, guys.

And so now we have three dogs ($11).

*  I can't for the life of me find a link to the blue dog on the Internet.  It is difficult to come up with Google search terms for a dog toy that is also a dog.  Let me know if you come up with anything.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

$428.25 [Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis]

Despite my love for them, my animal companions are constantly trying to find new and more costly ways to die.

In the last 48 hours, Betelgeuse, my three-year old 12 lb. spitz, came down with a case of Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, more affectionately known by those in the field as "HGE."  I would rank this death attempt in second place behind last year's rat poison consumption.

Spoiler Alert:  Betel is feeling much better now.  (Not all dogs are so lucky, RIP Ansel.)

Our timeline:
00:00 Hours.  Out of nowhere, Betelgeuse threw up her dinner in our bed.  We cleaned it up.  Then she threw up in the bed again.  And again.  And then on the floor.  And then again.

08:00 Hours.  We woke up for the day, although I'm not sure that we actually slept.  For every sip of water Betelgeuse would take, she would throw up three times.  Lulu, our control variable, was fine.  Kyler and I reluctantly went to work.  I checked in on Betel every hour or so on the webcam.

16:30 Hours.  Kyler got home from work.  Betel refused to eat anything, including tasty things like cooked chicken.

18:30 Hours.  I got home from work.  Betel drank some water and threw up several times.  And then she had bloody diarrhea.  For those of you new to animal companions or stumbling on this page from a Google search, in the event of bloody diarrhea, seek veterinary care immediately.

19:00 Hours.  At the vet.  Blood work ($35.00) and x-ray ($145.00).  X-ray was fine, but blood work revealed an elevated hematocrit level, which is how Betel got her HGE diagnosis.  She was given subcutaneous fluids for dehydration ($45.00), a cerenia injection (anti-nausea medicine) ($47.00), and a famotidine injection (an H2 blocker, which decreases the amount of acid made in the stomach) ($35.00).  We were told to monitor her overnight, and we made a follow-up appointment in the morning for additional blood work and more subcutaneous fluids.

32:20 Hours.  More bloody diarrhea, right outside the vet's office.  I took a picture of it with my iPhone to show the vet, which offended my husband.  I will spare your eyes and not post it here, but you can email me if you want to see it.  (And I know that some of you want to see it since "bloody diarrhea" is the search term that brought you here.  Note that in my email response to you, I will advise you to seek veterinary care immediately.)

32:30 Hours.  At the vet again.  Blood work ($35.00) and subcutaneous fluids ($45.00).  Betel's hemocrit level was lower, although still slightly elevated.  The vet said she could be treated on an outpatient basis and gave us medication for the next several days -- cerenia (anti-nausua) ($25.00) and flagyl (antibiotic effective against anaerobic bacteria and certain parasites/anti-diarrheal) ($16.25).  Kyler and I played with Leo the ferret and stunk for the rest of the day.

34:00 Hours.  Betelgeuse ate boiled chicken and white rice.  I decided to work from home.  Betel proceeded to sleep all day.  No vomit.  No diarrhea.

41:00 Hours.  She retrieved a ball from somewhere and tried to get me to play.  When I refused on account of work, she groomed Lulu.  She was clearly feeling better.

42:00 Hours.  She ate more boiled chicken and white rice with no adverse side effects.  She got her first at-home doses of the cerenia and flagyl.

45:00 Hours.  We are still waiting on a bowel movement from Betel.  And in the meantime I decided to blog about HGE in case any other pet owners out there are faced with these same sudden, inexplicable gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis ("HGE")
Symptoms:  Sudden, profuse vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anorexia, depression.  Elevated hemocrit levels in blood, but no fever and a normal white blood cell count.
Causes:  Uncertain.
Contagious: No.
Treatment:  Intravenous fluid therapy to replace lost fluid volume.  Symptomatic treatment of vomiting and diarrhea.  Antibiotics targeting C. perfringens.
Level of seriousness:  The progression of HGE is so rapid that hypovolemic shock and death can occur within 24 hours if untreated.  Mortality is high in untreated dogs.  Less than 10% mortality with treatment.
Recurrence:  10-15% of cases will recur.

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We could have saved $145 if we turned down the x-ray, but at that point I wasn't sure that Betelgeuse hadn't eaten something weird that was lodged in her intestines.  I wasn't sure of anything.  But whatever.  With the help of our trusty veterinarian, and for a mere $428.25 (ugh.), we thwarted another death attempt and can rest easy.  For now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

$12.50 [Wagatha's Organic Dog Biscuits]

My childhood dog, Patches, would go nuts over Milk Bones.  He liked them so much that it made me want to taste them just to see what all the fuss was about

Do you know what my current dogs Betelgeuse and Lulu will do if you offer them a Milk Bone?  They either (1) sniff at it and refuse to accept it at all or (2) take it in their mouths and then spit it out -- yes, they will open their mouths and let the Milk Bone fall right off their tongues.  And it's always some well-meaning small business owner or family friend offering the Milk Bone, so it's just embarrassing that my spoiled little Brooklyn dogs are so unapologetically, Thanks, but no thanks, we're too good for a Milk Bone.

New York did the same thing to my husband's and my taste buds, but we will graciously accept and eat the bland boxed mashed potatoes you offer us and then complain about them later when we're alone.  We don't refuse or spit them out.  In any event, we're supposed to have refined tastes because we're human.

So what is the (over)budget pet version of a Milk Bone, then?  Easy -- it's Wagatha's Coconut Grove Organic Dog Biscuits ($12.50 for 16 oz.).

These wheat-free bone-shaped biscuits are made with human-grade certified organic ingredients, including coconut and tart cherries.  My dogs love these things!  Wagatha's biscuits also come in Little Bites ($7.00 for 8 oz.) and in a host of other flavors, big and little, none of which Betel and Lu have tried.

I like to give each pup a biscuit or half a biscuit when I leave for work in the morning.  It's a little routine we've developed that seems to make my daily departure easier on all of us.  Betel and Lulu used to stand right by the door, holding onto a final hope that I was not in fact going to work but rather was about to grab the leashes so we could all go somewhere awesome together.  And then I would close the door in their little doggie faces.  Now, they settle down happily on the rug with a biscuit as I leave.  Sure, Milk Bones would be cheaper, but these two are worth every penny of that $12.50.

Bon app├ętit!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

$0.02 [Happy Adopt-irthday, Lulu!]

Cinco de Mayo marks the one-year anniversary of our official adoption of Lulu.

It took us months of fostering to decide whether to keep her, and now we cannot imagine a life without her.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!  And now, some of the many faces of Lu...

Monday, March 12, 2012

$0.02 [Happy Birthday, Betelgeuse!]

Betelgeuse is three years old today!

This is actually unbelievable.  Little Betel Bailey with her puppy years well behind her.  She's turned out to be such a great dog, a friend to all.

Happy Birthday, Bebe!  And don't think I forgot -- I've got a Lazy Dog Happy Birthday Pup-PIE ($8) in my bag for you and Lulu to share tonight when I get home from work. <3

Sunday, March 11, 2012

$0.02 [Happy Birthday, Lola!]

My sweet little orange lady cat Lola is nine years old today.

We built a fort / put a cardboard box on the floor to celebrate the big zero nine.

Happy Birthday, Lola.  We love you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

$4.50 [Collars]

Collars.  The mark of domestication.

I gave collars a lot of thought during our recent vacation in Costa Rica. There were dogs everywhere -- running loose in the streets (or on the sidewalks), sleeping outside in shady spots, or hanging out in most bars and restaurants. The only thing that distinguished these domesticated dogs from their feral cousins: collars. Some wore traditional collars, others just wore bandanas or swatches of fabric, but they all wore some type of collar. No tags, no leashes, just collars. Collars alone won't prevent the pup from getting lost or help him get home in the event he's found, but they're just a pretty effective way to signal that this dog is no stray, he's got a human.

This is a dog who came to visit our villa at Playa Avellanas. His human was nowhere in sight, but we knew there was a human somewhere because -- yep -- collar. He refused to cross the threshold into the villa. (We later learned that while dogs in Costa Rica are valued for their protection of people and property, they generally are not thought of as members of the family and are often not even allowed in the house.)

I always keep a collar on my cat Lola. She even has a bald ring around her neck from where her collar rubs. It serves as a vehicle for her tags in case she gets lost, plus it's cute. She currently sports a Red Dingo Classic Cat Collar ($4.50) in dark blue, pictured above.  It looks almost purple against her orange fur.  That little plastic fish clasp kills me. 
A quick tip:  When choosing a cat collar, you may be tempted to look at the selection for small dogs, but a breakaway collar is very important -- cats get into tight spots and the breakaway collars prevent Mr. Cuddles from getting snagged somewhere or, much worse, asphyxiated.

Lola used to wear a Coastal Pet Products Safe Cat Adjustable Breakaway Collar ($6) in light green, which you can see if you click on her name in the above paragraph. I love that these collars say "Safe Cat" -- it brings to mind images of animals in flotation vests or wearing crossing guard uniforms. The light green Safe Cat collar was retired because after several years part of the clasp broke. Kitty wore one in orange, which is in her urn with her ashes (sentimental much, AEB?)

My pups Betelgeuse and Lulu usually do not wear traditional collars. They used to wear them all the time, but they have such full Pomeranian-esc manes that the tight collars end up matting their fur. These days they wear bandanas instead, and their tags are on their harnesses when we go out.

In case you had a question, yes, in that last photo, Betelgeuse is wearing a bandana featuring a sexy marijuana leaf in a bikini (an Andrew Jeffrey Wright creation that came into my possession in Baltimore). I came home from work the other night to discover that Kyler had accessorized the dogs.  If she gets lost wearing this bandana, people will know she is domesticated and that has a human (or two), but I assume they might re-think giving her back to us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

$20.00 [Don't buy me this.]

If you didn't already know, I HATE shit like this.  This being a dog butt towel holder ($20).  I will not validate this product with a link, although I should give credit to Pawesome, which is where I stumbled across this terrible thing.

Nobody buys this sort of crap for themselves.  It's always a gift from someone else, and then you (you usually being ME) end up with a dog butt towel holder in your apartment.  Maybe you actually put it up on your wall because the gifter is a regular guest in your home or maybe it's hidden away in a box until enough time has passed that you don't feel guilty anymore when you donate it to Goodwill.

Well, here is a tip for the next time you are shopping for an animal lover:  Do not buy her anything with a dog butt on it.  She has too much interaction with dog butts already, so it's just not funny.  The same goes for cat butts.  Someone actually bought me cat butt magnets ($5) in the past.  I don't speak to this person anymore -- not on account of the cat butts, but I should have taken that as a warning sign.

These cat butt stickers are currently out of stock on most websites.  This post is already too little too late.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

$5.95 [Cloud Star Soft & Chewy Buddy Biscuits]

The humans and animals were reunited yesterday following the humans' return from Costa Rica.  And this particular human immediately commenced with guilt-induced post-vacation spoiling of said animals.  (Yes, this is different from my normal non-guilt-induced everyday spoiling of said animals.)

For the cat:  I gave Lola a good brushing with the Furminator ($32), which she loves.  She just rolls around on the floor meowing while I remove enough fur to construct a second Lola.  I did not, however, give Lola any treats because she's got a weigh-in at the vet on Saturday, and she's looking a little plumper following her week with the cat sitter.

Lola trying to break in to the Costa Rican beer and coffee.

For the dogs:  I took Betelgeuse and Lulu on a long early morning walk today, and we stopped by Unleash Brooklyn and picked up some Cloud Star Soft & Chewy Buddy Biscuits in the most junk-foodie flavor of all, Bacon & Cheese Madness ($5.95 for 6 oz.).

Cloud Star treats are great.  They're all natural and my somewhat picky dogs love them, and, if that wasn't enough, the company donates at least 10% of its net profits to non-profit organizations that benefit animals, women, children, and the environment.  [Cloud Star also makes grooming products that we've never tried but that have received positive reviews online.]  The dogs got treats in exchange for doing all the tricks in their repertoires -- which it turns out equals a lot of treats.

And then we commenced excessive cuddling on the couch, while the other human in the clan, Kyler, got ready for work.  His vacation is over, but I have another few days before I return to land of the law firm, and I plan to make the most of it by spending all my time and money on the creatures.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

$150.00 [Animal Vacations]

Note: A version of this post may have previously shown up in your RSS feed, although it was deleted from this blog. If so, please excuse the re-post.

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By the time this post goes live, (1) the human members of the clan will (finally) be in Costa Rica, and (2) it will be the right time to wish you a HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY from us here at (over)budgetpet!  ♥♥♥

We're missing the animals, especially on this day celebrating love, but the three creatures are currently enjoying alternate vacation accommodations better suited to their tastes than Costa Rica.

Our dogs Betelgeuse and Lulu are vacationing in Long Island with Icarus. Long walks and romps in nature, cuddling, treats, etc. They love getting out of the city, and they love Icky and his humans. I dropped them off on Saturday in Long Island, and they were not the least bit sorry to see me go. Since then, I got word that Icky harnessed his inner wolf and took down a deer while my glorified dog-cats relaxed inside.

Our cat Lola is staycationing at our apartment in Brooklyn with the cat sitter. I am paying the cat sitter $150 to sleep in my bed -- and this is a good deal in New York. I scattered Lola's catnip toys around the house since the dogs aren't here to chew them up and break them open, and she's been having a blast.  She's spending Valentine's Day high as a kite on catnip and purring her little heart out.

I'm not sure what this blog will look like during the remainder of our trip. Maybe a guest post or two? Maybe a photo of me hangin' with monkeys? In any event, Happy Valentine's Day and best wishes from the rainforest. And until the next time my wallet opens for an animal who needs a home or a cute outfit, some portraits of my crew:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

$0.02 [Puppy Fight Club]

1st RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.
3rd RULE: If someone says "stop" or goes limp, taps out the fight is over.
4th RULE: Only two dogs to a fight.
5th RULE: One fight at a time.
6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes.
7th RULE: Fights will go on as long as they have to.
8th RULE: If this is your first night at FIGHT CLUB, you HAVE to fight.

If I didn't already have a billion useless tags, I would tag this "Helena Bonham Carter."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

$499.99 [iPad]

I've blogged about the iPad ($499.99) before, but some new uses for the device have come to light in recent days.

It turns out that not only can my dog Betelgeuse use the iPad to FaceTime with cat cousin Future Cat [post here], she can also use it to FaceTime with Future Cat's new puppy brother, Rigel.  It shrinks the 700+ miles between Brooklyn, New York and Columbia, South Carolina to almost nothing.  Human and environmental costs aside, the results couldn't be cuter.

Betelgeuse:  Seriously, Rigel, you gotta try the cat food.

What else is the iPad good for?  Well, it makes a great puppy length and width measuring device.

Yes, he's smaller than an iPad.

For measuring puppy weight, however, the iPad won't help you.  You'll still have to use a traditional scale.  I would recommend using the biggest scale you can find.

2.9 lbs. of cute.

$9.99 [World's Biggest Bully Stick]

This past weekend was a busy one for the clan.  We had a rotating cast of house guests [when don't we?], and Sunday was a day full of fun homebrew events [have I told you that my S.O. is both an animal lover AND an award-winning brewer?].

But I digress.  After all, this isn't a blog about humans, it's a blog about the money this human spends on animals.  And although I almost made it to the end of the month, I officially exceeded January's pet budget by buying a gift for our canine house guest, Icarus.  What did I buy that broke the threshold?  A Full Bully Stick Cane, 36" ($9.99).

The Full Bully Stick Cane is so much bigger than your average bully stick -- in fact, a full 30" bigger than your average bully stick.  And for just under $10.00, it's a pretty good deal on a cost-per-inch basis.  Oh man, it's the best joke.  After I bought the Bully Stick Cane at Pets On the Run, I carried it home like it was my royal staff -- yes, I'm the kind of royalty that proudly parades large intimate parts of bull carcasses around the five boroughs.

The Bully Stick Cane was (literally) a big hit with Icarus.  The first thing he did was grab one end of the stick with his mouth and jump up on the recliner, almost knocking over the lamp with the other end of the stick.  I was delighted.  Then he got down to business, really stinking up the living room.

A boy and his magic pipe.  Lulu wanted in on the action, too.  She eventually had the Bully Stick Cane all to herself -- it was nearly three times her body length.  Her radiant happiness (and filthy mane, featuring bits of the bully stick) was captured by Justin in the photo below.

Lulu was also featured chewing on the Bully Stick Cane in a raw, uncut horror movie filmed by Justin at our apartment.  Release date T.B.A.  Leave your kids at home.