Dog trains man

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hovawarts On A Raw Diet

Today I turn the blog over to Jan Wolfe - raw feeding advocate and Hovawart enthusiast - to learn more about feeding raw. 

Something I have struggled with for a long time, and kibble is so convenient. I also noticed more and more Hovawarts are on a raw diet. Jan gave us the last push to go raw.


Reading Kenzo’s blog, and in particular, about Viva’s health problems, led me to contact Leo to ask him if he had ever considered feeding a raw diet.  It turns out that he has, but had found it hard to find enough information about it to be able to do so with confidence.  He invited me to do a guest blog, and I am delighted to do so.


I started raw feeding my dogs some 14 years ago.  We had a young Labrador with food aggression problems and a speed-eating “disorder”.  He was also a generally difficult dog – we had adopted him from the local rescue kennel at around six months of age and we had no idea of what his early months had been like.  We were advised by the kennel to feed him a certain dry food as it was a complete diet specially designed for a growing dog.  I felt very sorry for him as this dish of brown cardboard pieces would last him about 30 seconds at the very most.  I don’t think it touched the sides.

Tussock as a pup with her first raw snack
Some months later, we were still tearing our hair out with him and to add to the existing issues, he now had very itchy and smelly skin.  It was whilst seeking advice on how to deal with the food aggression that my path crossed the subject of raw feeding.  Raw feeding?  What did that involve?  Bones?  Chicken bones?  Surely dogs cannot eat chicken bones?  How do you make sure the dog gets everything he needs?  So many questions.

But then I bought  a book by Dr Ian Billinghurst and my mind was blown wide open.  The light bulb went on and has never gone out.

It was rather daunting at first – I remember giving Sisko his first bones and wondering if I was going to be rushing to the vet later in the day or week.  I remember his face on finishing that first meal – if he were human, he would have said “Wow!”  I also remember inspecting his poo every day and marvelling at the transformation from monstrously smelly and sloppy heaps to small firm nuggets.


I currently have two hovawarts and one flat coated retriever and all have been raw fed since about eight weeks old.  The eldest is six and a half and the youngest is eighteen months.  Sadly, Sisko the Labrador died just a few months ago at the age of 14 – his teeth were still clean!

Chicken, minced tripe with veggies
The mainstay of their diet is chicken – I buy carcasses from a local butcher, and he also keeps a “goodie box” for me of any bones, scraps, stuff that is past its date for human consumption, or that has been damaged in any way.  I allow them to catch the odd rabbit, and I pick up fresh road kill.  I feed them fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, eggs, fish, cheese, and they are able to graze on grasses and eat horse poo.  I can imagine you screwing up your nose at the last item, but horse poo is actually very nutritious for dogs!  There are also several companies here in the UK that cater for the raw feeding market making it much easier for many people to feed raw.  I do buy a few minces to give my dogs variety.

Should you be interested in feeding raw, or want to research it a bit more, then you are more than welcome to join our raw feeding group on Facebook.  It is a non-judgemental, helpful and often hilarious group where no question is silly and nobody is absolutely right or absolutely wrong – we all feed slightly differently the same way as we ourselves eat differently.  [Note Kenzo: the group has great resources too, like a Raw Feeding Starter Guide and more]

There are also many books to read by Ian Billinghurst, Lew Olson, Kymythy Schultz, Tom Lonsdale, to name a few.


Why give yourself extra work of sourcing food and providing a balanced diet?  Is it not easier to buy “complete” food and be assured your dog is getting everything he or she needs?  Is it not an expensive way to feed a dog?  Still more questions.

When pet food was introduced it seemed a brilliant idea.  Years of advertising has “convinced” us that it is the only way to feed our dogs and cats.  Images of cute puppies and kittens have pulled at our heart strings and we have believed that the people who make these foods have the interests of our animals at heart.  Our conscience was led to believe that we would do our dogs and cats a disservice if we didn’t feed this specially prepared food.

In the early days it was tinned food, and to be fair, it was probably okay stuff!  I remember my first dog ate Chappie and Winalot for much of his life and he lived to almost 17.  Then kibble was introduced.  Complete food.  All you have to give to make your dog healthy and hearty.  But is it?  Are there not now more health issues with dogs?  More cancers, more dental problems, more obesity, diabetes, thyroid problems, skeletal issues, skin problems, allergies, arthritis, compromised immune systems, and so much more.  Dogs seem to be living shorter lives, despite all this researched nutrition.

Do I need to say more?
Granted, there are many other factors involved with the things listed above, but human nutritionists tells us that “we are what we eat”.  They encourage us to eat fresh meat and fish, lots of fruit and vegetables, to avoid processed food, too much salt and sugar, preservatives, colourings, flavourings……. So what do we feed our dogs?  Meat and fish by products that have been rendered beyond all recognition, devoid of colour, flavour, texture, and nutrients.  Add to this mush several colourings to make it look nice, salt and sugar to make it tasty, artificial nutrients to make it complete, then bake it to give it texture.  Finally it is sprayed with a solution containing vitamins and minerals.   Oh, and when your dog has teeth covered in tartare, here’s another product to help clean them, or a special toothbrush to clean them.  Oh and doggy toothpaste, too!

And come to think of it – I haven’t seen many dogs able to bake, use cooking utensils, open tins, or use a toothbrush……  But I have seen dogs catch a rabbit!


Thanks Jan, you have convinced us! Normally I would add a little biography of the author, but Jan is participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry as well. So stay tuned, to get to know Jan and her Hovies a little better.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill Meltdown: 40 Hovawarts In Harms Way

The notorious Danish Hovawart puppy mill  "Hof-Joy", otherwise known as "kennel Hovawart", is now in serious trouble. Due to financial problems and health issues with one of the owners, the kennel couldn't keep up their appearances when they were visited by the Danish police in October last year.

The police found up to 40 Hovawarts in horrible conditions inside the property, and some were completely emaciated and in very bad shape. Their license to breed Hovawarts was revoked by the police and  the Danish animal welfare protection agency ("Dyrens Beskyttelse") was put on the case. The property is being foreclosed and the family moved to a rental property close by. Still, the Hovawarts remained in the abandoned property. Even today the family is still trying to sell their current litters. A contact informs: "there is a litter of 10 puppies, they are 14 weeks old. One of them was sold to a person who never owned a dog before and is an alcoholic".

A recent visit by the police showed the dogs were being fed, but still the circumstances were horrendous, and the police mentions in particular that "the stench of ammonia due to urine and feces was unbearable". The kennel has until February 1 to bring the number of dogs down to 10.

I wonder how in earth police and animal welfare organizations have not removed the dogs already, and even gives the kennel yet another chance to survive. They have been doing this since at least 2006. What more facts do we need to make this stop?

Anyhow, I wanted to have this quick message out to all you Hovawart lovers. Contact each other, contact your clubs, contact the Danish Hovawart Club, as we might expect that very soon the future of 40 Hovawarts is decided upon. Let's discuss with each other what we can do as I am afraid their fate doesn't look good. It is best to be prepared. They are probably in very poor condition and poorly socialized. There is a real risk police and animal welfare officers will euthanize them.

Maybe you remember Bamira? She was recently acquired to breed  more generations in this puppy mill. We reported about Bamira in Victims Of A Hovawart Puppy Mill when we heard the story of her former owner, that wanted to stay anonymous at the time. In October last year however, her owner, Pia Skovmose, went public and was on Danish TV.  What will happen to the 40 Hovawarts. What will happen to Bamira? She is in there, trying to survive in that filth, with her 39 companions.

This is the time, where we as a Hovawart family have to reach out and help each other, and make ready to help our Hovawarts.

Please discuss with each other what we can do to help would it get that far the dogs are seized. Not only to help with possible adoptions or re-homing. But any other way we can think of. Like trying to help the Danish animal welfare organization understand the Hovawart better to prepare them, or build a network where people that adopt can refer to for advice, etc. Any ideas are welcome, and you can leave it in the comments area below, send me a mail to kenzohw (at) gmail (dot) com, or open a discussion in the Facebook group Stop

Sadly, let us hope it comes that far. Because the alternative is that the kennel will continue to spread their horror, or that authorities will euthanize most, if not all, dogs.

Update January 13:
A contact informed me "that the animal welfare organization already had to euthanize 12 dogs, due to the poor condition they were in". We also started a petition you can sign and share:


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Ear Nibble Prohibition

Viva is almost done with the cone-of-shame after her eyelid surgery. The stitches will be removed in a couple of days. But impatient Viva feels healthy already, and she can't understand what this new and evil ear nibble condom is doing on her head.

I can't feel anything ?!?

Oh yeah, this is so good, so, so good. Purrr.

We'll soon be back in the good old days.

Kenzo did smuggle in some ear nibbles through, he is actually getting the hang of how to beat this cone-of-shame. Maybe he misses giving ear nibbles more than Viva does receiving them. Soon we'll celebrate the end of prohibition with some old-fashioned and full-fledged ear nibbles.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hovawart TV: Hovie Zoomies

Heban gives an excellent display of the Hovie Zoomies. Ready? Set. Go!

Heban is a Hovawart with a blog, and although he writes mostly in Polish, you'll find a lot more fun video's of him. Have a look.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Yikes, It Is Alive

Finally, the Great New Year's After-Party is here. The Pet Blogger Challenge!

To be absolutely honest though, we are, like Viva on the picture, a little hangover when we look at the results. We didn't reach our goals from last year. We didn't even come close.

The thing is we achieved the opposite of what we set out to do. We wanted engagement and put stats aside, what we got was doubled stats while scoring an all time low on the engage-o-meter. What can I say? I am definitely not complaining.

Can you still remember what sparked the whole Pet Blogger Challenge event? In 2010, Amy and Edie had a feeling of being bullied by their blogs - here and here. That's exactly how I now also feel. The blog seems to follow it's own path, despite of what I intend it to do. Maybe this blog is doing more than bullying. Yikes. It is alive. This is creepy.


Let's give the blog a final chance to start listening, so let's go to this years questions:

1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

We have been blogging for 2½ years. As long as there have been Pet Blogger Challenges, last years post is here.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

My secondary goal around travel was a wild-card anyway, as I didn't know how our travels would evolve. And as it turned out, it didn't. But I still had my main goal which was to have fellow Hovawart lovers engaged with the blog. Have them write for the blog, comment and discuss. In short, more engagement.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I loved the contributions we got from Hovawart lovers for the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardy. I can't thank Kelsey, Nolan, Astrid, Deanne, Marc and Cheryl enough for participating. They are some of the most popular reads on the blog, Kelsey's post even made it to the top 10 of most read posts. Their contributions are so important for people to get to know the Hovawart, based on real-life stories and experiences, and not by the usual fairy tales you hear.

I'd hoped for a lot more though, probably my expectations were too high.

And on the bright side, the engagement was there, it just didn't take place on the blog. I had some controversial posts, like "Why The Hovawart Must Never Become Popular" and "The Forgotten Hovawarts", that were discussed a lot on Facebook, in forums, and got me the highest numbers of private Facebook messages and mails ever

4. How often do you post?

Ah, my weak spot. On average I only post once a week. We really have to remedy that.

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?

I still blog as the spirits moves me. I try to find a good balance between keeping my readers interested and to continue to enjoy what I do. Although I write as the spirit moves me, I "publish" in what appears to be a more scheduled rhythm. I think some type of schedule is important if you want to keep your readers interested.

I have one - very selfish - measure to determine if a topic is "post-worthy". Would I like to write about it? Have an urge to say something about it? Need to express my opinions? And, would my readers possibly think it is interesting? Other than that, it should be about dogs.

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your tips for staying on top of it all.

It usually takes me an hour to write a post, and another hour to edit it. Even for the Hovawart TV series, which in itself is just a video and a caption, I spend an hour just to search, watch and select the video. Some posts are tougher though, and need more research. In which case I write them finished in the weekends. A couple of posts even took me the whole weekend to finish.

I have a number of blogs from which I always read every post. They are on my blog roll, so a couple of times a week, I go through them and read what they posted. I have a wider selection in my reader of other blogs I stumbled upon that I skim through once a week. I try to keep the number of blogs below 50 at all times, as that really is my limit.
In all, I think the reading also takes around two hours a week. So in total, I spend at least 4 hours blogging and reading every week.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?

Something I always struggle with. The measure of success for us is how much searches on Hovawarts send people to the blog and how long they stay. Or even better, return. And best, if they would contact us with a question, or leave a note they appreciated the blog.
Of course in the end, it all leads to more traffic, and although it is a number you can't draw many conclusions from, it is the strongest indicator of how the blog is doing.

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

What a great opportunity. What always is nagging me is there tend not to be a lot of focus here. We post in a wide range, like cute pics and video's, write about BSL, puppy mills and of course Hovawarts. And everything in between. Do you think that is positive thing? Or does the lack of focus actually works counter-productive?

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

Definitely BSL. July 2013, the BSL laws in Denmark are taken under the loop and there is a danger 13 more breeds are added to the banned breed list. But it also gives an opportunity to have the whole BSL madness repealed. Our goal is to play our part in getting BSL repealed.

The other goal is already decided by you, my readers. I received requests for more frequent and regular Kenzo and Viva updates. You really want me to blog more about them, the actual stars of the blog. And true, I blogged only 31 times about Kenzo, and 29 times about Viva. A very thin harvest for 2½ years of blogging.

And finally, I really have to get my act together and post multiple times a week. Maybe when I start blogging more about Kenzo and Viva, that shouldn't be so difficult after all. They shower me with daily tidbits already.
That should be feasible, even for a creepy blog that is alive. I hope it is listening this time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Top Spot For The Top Dog

Viva's favorite place to sleep is an old carpet we have in our spare room. Kenzo occasionally uses the dog bed in the room too. To give Viva some extra TLC in the post eyelid surgery days to come, I set up a camp bed for myself over there.

Hey dad, thanks for the upgrade of my room, glad you guys keep me company.
You really shouldn't have done that, so kind of you.

In return, I insist you take the top spot on the carpet.

Why doesn't that make me feel like the top dog?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Showing Off Our Waistline

Of course, you are the judge if there really is something we can show off with. And to explain why we suddenly became exhobitionists over night: we are joining the Show Off Your Dog's Wastline Campaign over at Jana and Jasmine Rade's blog Dawg Business.

Look at that waistline:

When you have a look at the infographic on Jana's blog, you can find out if that's an ideal waistline or not. I am blurred when it concerns Kenzo and Viva, they are always ideal to me. And while you are over there, read more why it is so important to keep an eye on your dog's waistline. Jana can explain it a lot better than I can. Knowing Jana, it is probably very important for your dog's health.

To close off with some facts. Viva was obese when we got her, her weight was 50 kg. She is now on a stable 43 kg, which seems a lot for a Hovawart lady, but she is a tall girl, so her waistline is a much better indicator than breed averages. Kenzo had opposite issues before his neutering, as he stopped eating because of all those love bugs in his stomach. He was even down to 39 kg, but after his neutering he is now on a stable weight of 43 kg.

Now show off your dog's waistline.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Am I A Hova Now? Or Half-a-Hovawart?

No Viva, just the Wart on the inside of your eyelid is gone. It annoyed you so much, we asked the vet to remove it for you. You don't need a Wart to be a Hovawart. Even without it you are still the most gorgeous ever Hovawart, sweetie.

So it was kinda like very expensive plastic eyelid surgery?

I'll expect a whole lot of Kenzo TLC the coming days anyway

Viva had a small wart - already as long as we have her - on the inside of her eyelid. Lately it started growing and annoying her, and yesterday the wart was even bleeding a little bit. So the wart had to go. Our luck was that we finally have Viva's health in such a good shape, that there was no additional risk to let her undergo surgery. The stitches can be removed again in 10 days, until then, we take extra good care of her.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hovawart TV: He's Back

Remember that fearless toddler opening a car hatch full of Hovawarts? He's back on Hovawart TV! Now in a scenery that matches the season.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Never Leave Home Without It

Treats, water, cell phone, doggy bags, and ... I think I forgot it. Now the real question is, does my mistake go unnoticed?

Hey there, dad. Thanks for carrying it, can you get it out of your left pocket now? Thanks.

No? Right pocket then silly, you know it should be in the left. Come on, check it please.

You didn't....

How could you!

Nope, Kenzo didn't forget. Never leave home without it.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig