It all started one summer afternoon when Tucker and I were playing in the backyard.
I looked down at him as he was being a goof, rolling around in the dirt and grass on his back and noticed some red patchy rashes on the inside of his back legs. I must have looked so awkward crouching down to get a closer look, trying to get him to hold still. I couldn’t see any obvious active bleeding or bites, so I went right inside and called my vet to make an appointment. I was so worried that we had mites or bedbugs or something! But after a visit to the vet (which by the way is Tucker’s favorite thing – weird, I know!) it was confirmed that Tucker had major food allergies.
Now, that doesn’t go to say that we knew what he was allergic to – but it was time to start the elimination diet.
If you’ve ever had an animal with allergies, or you yourself have had to narrow down food intolerances, you know how tedious the food elimination diet can be. If you’ve never had to deal with it, consider yourself lucky! Basically, we had to stop giving Tucker ANY food other than his regular kibble for at least 4 months, to see if perhaps there were ingredients in his kibble that he is intolerant to. If we found that the rashes went away within those 4 months, we could then introduce 1 ingredient – yes, ingredient, not food – at a time, giving him a few months to react or not react. And so on and so on.
So, the process started. We were feeding him a chicken-based kibble that we bought from Costco, so we made a note of all of the ingredients and noticed after a few months that the rashes did not go away, but instead, INCREASED! So we made a transition to a salmon-based diet and gave it a few more months. That seemed to help, but his rashes were still there. Goodness this was a process! Looking further into the ingredient list, we noticed wheat products. Wheat products and chicken tend to be very common allergies for dogs, so hoping that this would do it, we switched to a salmon-based wheat-free kibble.
The rashes went away! 😀
Mind you, we were not feeding him ANYTHING else other than this kibble. This is very important when narrowing down the culprit ingredient(s)!
So after the rashes were completely gone, we got the go-ahead to introduce treat ingredients one at a time. We are still in the process, but since then, we’ve discovered that chicken, wheat, beef, and really any meat other than fish make him react.
What does this have to do with making a pet binder? Well, this was the entire reason for us.
We had a few week-long commitments coming up where we could not take Tucker with us. I was already kind of anxious leaving him with a pet-sitter because he was at such a young, impressionable age and we were getting some really great progress in training and house behavior. I was trying to find a sitter who would hold Tucker to the same standards that we expected of him at home and I was getting really anxious as the day got closer! How could I get all the information across to a sitter that I needed them to know??
That’s when the pet binder was born!
If you have a special-needs pet, a bunch of pets, or even one really well behaved pet that you want to make sure is well taken care of while you’re away, this idea is for you!
I wanted to make sure that not only Tucker was well taken care of while we were gone, but that our pet-sitter felt comfortable and knowledgeable.
So, before I gathered my materials, I needed to decide exactly what would go into the binder. I came up with these main categories:
Front page: Tucker’s picture and name (if you are making a binder for multiple pets, feel free to make it a generic cover, and designate some pages inside to identifying each animal)
Travel info, contact info and vet info
Routine: I included subcategories of Food, Bathroom Schedule, Crate, Activities/Typical Behavior
Commands & Tricks (the fun part!)
*Special Treats: *updated: since making the binder, I have been able to make some homemade dog treats that work for his allergy problem, so I put the recipe in this section, hoping to add more as I figure them out!
I took an afternoon to fill in these categories with pertinent information that would help a sitter out. I made sure to emphasize the importance of only feeding him his kibble, no other treats. Luckily, Tucker likes training and his kibble so much that we use it as training treats. 🙂
Since Tucker was still young when making this binder, I included his bathroom schedule to ensure his housetraining was kept up to par. Now that he’s a year and a half old, he is completely housetrained of course, but I kept the information in there because we have been moving so often which could easily disrupt his training.
The section for his crate training I hope to slowly phase out now that we are moved into a house. Tucker loves his crate and is crated whenever he is home without supervision. So now that we have a house and don’t have to worry about him being destructive in a rental (to an extent…:P ) I can work on training him to be home alone. He now has a whole room to himself at night without any issues, so we are getting there!
The section that was the most fun to write was without doubt his commands & tricks. Tucker is a smart boy and is so eager to learn, so he has a wide selection of behaviors under his belt. But until I had to sit and write them all down, I didn’t realize he knew SO many! Good boy, Tucker!!
Since making this binder, we’ve had 3 pet-sitters and one new vet visit where this binder has come in handy. In fact, at the vet visit, it was just my husband who was available to bring him in and he didn’t know the info they needed off the top of his head, so he handed over the binder. The vet staff fell in love with the idea!
*since starting this post, we moved from our apartment to our first real house, so the pet binder is packed away somewhere. So pictures of it will be coming soon, as well as printables for you if you like the design of my binder!*
This binder has been very satisfactory for my slightly OCD ways. Let me know if you guys decide to try it out! Is there anything you would add? Anything you did add that I should put in mine? Any questions or comments, you are always welcome to send my way!
Warm wishes until next time,
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