Ginger, our Cavoodle, arrived at our home in 2012. She was only 2 months old; tiny and very quiet. She had just flown in straight from a Melbourne farm. We only realised later that she was born on 8th August that year, an auspicious double 8 date for the Chinese. Just as we have tried to bring her up as best as we can, this little dog has taught us some lessons herself.
Discipline is important, even for dogs
It is really important to be firm and to instill good habits from day 1. This means, making sure that your dog has her meals and bed time at regular times every day. A predictable daily routine gives dogs some kind of structure. Just like children, structure seems to comfort dogs.
When a puppy arrives at your home, there will be some chaos at first. They will whine and whimper if they are confined to a place. In our case, we joined 2 metal enclosures. We then placed two $2 disposable Daiso mats in one corner. Ginger was only placed inside when it was her bed time i.e. around 9 pm every night. Initially, she whined endlessly but she got over it. As for potty training, she learnt soon enough that if she were indoor, she would have to go to the mat.
You can be a dog whisperer
We considered getting her trained. This would mean that she would be able to do doggie tricks. That never happened but she definitely knows what ‘sit’ and ‘stay still’ means. Dogs are incredibly intelligent. I watched one dog trainer in action. Like human beings, dogs can feel it if the human being is confident and self assured. They seem to have the ability to smell fear and insecurities. I say this because it is obvious that Ginger knows when we mean business. All it takes is for us to give her a steely glare and a low firm ‘no’ when she wants to do something naughty, like bite our shoes.
Dogs definitely have feelings
Amongst all the animals in the animal kingdom, only the dog has been described as Man’s best friend. Ginger is loyal, grateful and sensitive. If someone at home is sad or angry, it’s obvious that our mood affects her.
Cavoodles are hypoallergenic
Cavoodles are a hybrid between King Charles Cavaliers and Poodles. One lovely and real consequence is that cavoodles do not shed fur. At first, we were sceptical that cavoodles are really hypoallergenic but for sure, this dog does not shed at all. This means your home is a lot cleaner and that allergenic family members can live comfortably with cavoodles.
Dogs are not too different from human beings. Ginger’s step brother, Cody has a different father and he was bought by our close family friend. When we compare notes, both Ginger and Cody are wary of strangers be it dogs or humans. Both are sensitive and loving but lack bravado.
A balanced diet alleviates food allergies
At first, we fed Ginger canned and dried dog food. This seemed convenient but it was a nightmare. She had diarrhoea and bloody stool every day. The canned food was a bigger culprit but dry food alone did not work. We tried dry hypoallergenic food but she could not move after consuming one meal. The feedback from the vets was that we should try different kinds of foods until her allergy receded. It felt like a losing battle.
Out of desperation, we googled. We came across a Youtube video by Dr Karen Becker, an American vet. She suggested that such dogs may be better if they are fed with a variety of proteins, especially novel proteins such as lamb, veal, duck, turkey, bison and venison. The key was to rotate a variety of novel proteins every day so that the dog would not be exposed to the same type of protein. The theory is that constant exposure to the same type of protein will trigger an allergic reaction.
It is challenging and costly resorting to these less common meats but if you search hard enough, it is possible to buy frozen veal and venison at some shops. We tried Dr Becker’s suggestion and amazingly, it works. Now, for every meal, Ginger has fresh (frozen, thawed and steamed or boiled) meat e.g. chicken, pork, duck, lamb or beef mixed with dry food of the same meat. It can be cumbersome but at least, she is healthy and well.