There was a time when I could keep eight plates spinning at the end of eight poles all at once while balancing a checkbook.
Okay. I lie. I’ve never been able to balance a checkbook.
As for the spinning plates thing, admittedly that’s a metaphor for being able to juggle a lot of things at the same time. It took an energy level I no longer choose to expend in so many different directions, but while I’ve cut down on the number of things I have going, the projects themselves require more time and greater concentration: Staying current with my writing, maintaining a small business, showing my dogs, and cycling to stave off decrepitude.
Most people don’t have to think very hard while riding a bike, but I do. I’ll never completely shake off the nasty accident my husband and I had a couple of years ago. I got my first “shiner” in that wreck, and two weeks later took it to Westminster where I learned that men don’t like to walk alongside a woman with a black eye. I guess it’s a “guy thing.”
Eukanuba, Westminster, the flu, and six weeks of lousy weather kept me off a road bike until yesterday – and while it felt great to be “back in the saddle again,” I often felt like this kid as I slugged my way through twenty one gears and unforgiving hills.
It wasn’t pretty, but I like to think I’m on the road to a trimmer and fitter me. Do I look like I’ve lost weight to you in the picture below?
In addition to my cycling, something else I’ve neglected are Product Reviews for DogKnobit. Luckily, the timing of my Puli’s biological clock afforded me a good opportunity to test something I’d been reading about: Pheromone based calming sprays, but first, meet the real product testers:
“Katie” is on the left, and at the right is “Maci.” A few weeks ago, they had a love that “dared not speak its name.” Plainly put, Katie was in season and Maci lost his mind.
Because I work from home, I was able to keep a vigilant eye on the pair, but if you’ve ever had to share a house with a hormonal dog, you know there’s a week when you don’t sleep. I became desperate for a remedy. The old stand-by’s – Vicks Vapor Rub, vanilla, chlorophyll – these have never worked for me. I remembered reading about dog appeasing pheromones said to calm dogs with anxiety-related problems ranging from a fear of thunderstorms to visiting the vet. Secreted by the sebaceous glands found in nursing bitches, these pheromones induce feelings of well-being and comfort to nursing puppies. French veterinarian, Patrick Pageat, wondered if the same pheromones could ease anxiety and stress in adult dogs based on the theory that dogs remember smells through adulthood. A study done in 2005 showed that puppies in a training class fitted with pheromone collars were later found to have less behavioral problems and were more sociable than puppies who didn’t get the collar. But in a 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a review of DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) concluded that while researchers couldn’t definitively declare that pheromone therapy didn’t work, neither could they say that it had any benefits based on their best evidence (Frank,D. Beauchamp,G. Palestrini,C. Systematic review of the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs. J.Am.Vet.Med.Assoc., 2010, 236, 12, 1308-1316).
I didn’t care. I wanted to sleep and was ready to try anything. I staggered into my nearest pet supply store, leaned on the counter, and weakly said, “help me.” Thinking back on it, I suspect now I must have sounded like the tiny-voiced, human-headed insect in the 1958 movie, The Fly.
I bought an 8 ounce bottle of Nature Vet’s “Quiet Moments” spray because, to be honest with you, that’s what the store carried. Like any good dog person, I inspected the ingredient panel: Special Proprietary Blend of Fragrance Extracts (Simulated Canine Pheromones) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (0.5%)Rosemary Oil (0.2%) Clove Oil (0.1%). Inert Ingredients: Purified Water. It wasn’t lost on me that rosemary and clove oils carry a hefty punch in the fragrance department making me wonder about the pheromone’s actual contribution to the product. I didn’t care. Blubbering from a lack of sleep, I would’ve used the spray had the ingredient panel read: putrified fish (48%) Stench of Wench (0.13%) and dirty socks (.07%).
As per directions, I sprayed the area my dogs would be occupying ten minutes before lights out, and then we went to bed.
It was the first full night of sleep I’d had in a week. During the day, the dogs resumed their howling and whining, but at night, we all rested comfortably.
As a rule, I’m skeptical of quick fixes and products that claim to distract dogs from anxiety, let alone hormonal urges, but I have no other explanation other than that the product worked even in the face of inconclusive scientific studies. At under $7.00, the spray might be worth trying out if your dog could use “chilling.” If you have used this spray or a similar product, I’d like to hear from you.
I hadn’t been able to find the right time to test “Calming Collars” on my dogs, in large part because my dogs aren’t afraid of thunderstorms, trips to the vet or being groomed. I didn’t think herb-filled collars alone would pack enough “punch” to deal with the challenges of dogs gripped by hormones, but after Katie went out of season, I tried one of the collars on “Maci.” I wanted to see if it would take the edge off a dog who thought that any minute, she might come back into season and he didn’t want to miss a minute. The Calming Collars concept is based on aromatherapy, each collar filled with a special blend of dried herbs that smells wonderful. After wearing the collar for an hour, the dog smelled wonderful. “Maci” did seem to rest a bit better with it on.
Each fabric collar is handmade, filled with a precise amount of dried herbs, and fitted with a plastic buckle to allow for adjustments. The inventor, Deborah Mendez, offers a refund of the purchase price if the patented collar fails to perform for you, but I’m offering another way for you to score a collar for your own anxious dog at home.
Simply submit your name and contact e-mail address to KnobNots@KnobNots.com for a drawing to be held May 5th. Your contact information will not be shared (in fact, I’m going to shred all the names when the drawing is over and compost my garden with them). The collar will be shipped to the winner the next day.