Cache’s Pâté Meat Balls

CacheHow to Get a Dog to Eat When Her Appetite Wanes

Last week was a week none of us want to deal with. We had to make the difficult decision to bid farewell to one of our beloved Maremma Sheepdogs. Most of us who have had multiple dogs have a few “heart dogs.” Cache was one of mine.

Maremmas are livestock guardian dogs. Their natural instincts allow them to take responsibility, making their own decisions in the absence of their owners. This means they are very independent thinkers. They decide for themselves how best to deal with prospective invaders (people or varmints) or potentially dangerous situations. Typically, the breed is not well suited as a typical household pet. They need space and a job to do.

Cache’s personality was true to her breed. However, we heavily socialize all our Maremmas. When we are in public, ours are soft, gentle, and friendly. On our own property, their natural instincts come out loud and clear. Cache was serious about protecting her turf, the animals she was raised with, and guarding us. She always made me feel comfortable and safe. She was with me most of the time, whether it be at work or at home.

Last year a nasty growth had to be removed from her third eyelid. The vet felt he got good margins and she healed up in no time. Seven months later, the growth was back. This time, when we had it removed we sent it in to be tested along with full blood work.

Unfortunately, we learned she had a very aggressive form of cancer that takes over the entire system in a short amount of time. The best thing we could do was keep her comfortable and enjoy the limited time we had left with her.

The first few weeks she was pretty good, but then her appetite started to fade along with her weight. Within a month we had to entice her to eat. We added eggs to her kibble. When she started turning her nose up at that, we added ground meat. Before long she was eating around every kernel of kibble, eating only the meat. Even though we fed her twice a day, she was not consuming enough calories to maintain any weight. We increased the ground meat. As we increased the straight protein, her system had a hard time digesting it. We found ourselves having to do regular spot bathing to clean up her hind end.

At the end of May, Judy Hudson and Sue Zecco arrived for National Dog Groomers Association of America Certification Testing at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. They came in a few days early just to hang at our farm, ride horses, cook healthy meals, and drink a little wine.

Judy watched me as I tried unsuccessfully to entice Cache to eat. By this time, I was making small raw meatballs for Cache. I would mix it with a little bit of her kibble and feed her by hand. I could always get her to take the meatballs but I could not get her to eat any of her kibble.

Ms. Hudson is a natural problem solver. Judy has been around my dogs quite a bit. Even though Cache’s mind was still sharp, Judy knew she was going downhill quickly. She needed to eat something more than just a small about of raw meat.

That’s when she asked, “Would Cache eat meatballs if you mixed other things with it?”

PATEShe suggested utilizing a food processor and creating custom meatballs more suitable for Cache’s digestive system. Judy proposed we soak a small amount of kibble in hot water until it was soft, then add some cooked rice, a little bit of bacon grease, and some raw meat. If we needed more moisture we could add some bone broth. Sort of like a pâté. Brilliant!

We quickly pulled out the food processor and got to work. We ground everything up until it was the consistency of cookie dough. Once it was mixed well, we tested it. I rolled out five ping-pong ball-sized meatballs and offered them to Cache. After a couple sniffs, she tried the first one. She did not hesitate on the second, third, fourth, or even fifth meatball!

I was thrilled! But as happy as I was that she was eating, I had a huge fear looming in the back of my mind.

The following week I left for Australia for a 10-day speaking engagement. I was terrified Cache would not hang on until I returned home. I knew if we could get her to eat, there was a good chance she would make it until I got home.

My husband Marc had been gone during Judy and Sue’s visit. When he got home, I showed him how to mix up these enticing pâté meatballs.

Cache rode to the airport with us as I left for Australia. I told Marc he needed to send pictures of Cache every day. He did. Lots of the photos were of her enjoying her meals. Sitting on the couch. Getting belly rubs. Laying comfortably in her bed – many times totally upside down.

When I returned home, Cache was in the car when Marc picked me up. I wanted to cry. My girl had waited for me.

Her mind remained sharp. She was alert. She was responsive. She seemed comfortable if she was lying down. Unfortunately, her legs were giving out. Before I left, she was just very stiff. When I got home, she was severely lame on three legs.

I was able to spend 5 more days with her before she told me it was time. Her legs refused to work any longer. Even when she could no longer walk, she still looked forward to her meatballs.

We bid good-bye to my sweet girl on June 22, 2017. Cache had just turned 11 years old.

I wonder if it was the pâté meatballs or the fact we were feeding her by hand that had made her eat so well. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she was able to eat up to the very end.

rollingI want to share the recipe with you. At some point, you may have a dog that loses its appetite. Maybe this recipe will help you get a beloved pet through a difficult situation.

I used a full-size food processor. I would mix up a batch to last for three or four feedings. Cache normally weighed about 85 to 90 pounds. When she was sick, she dropped to about 65 pounds. We fed her twice a day, 5-7 meatballs with each feeding.

Cache’s Pate Meatballs

Equal amounts of:

  • moistened dry kibble
  • cooked rice
  • cooked or raw ground meat
  • 1 or 2 hotdogs
  • small amount of avocado oil, olive oil, or bacon grease
  • enough bone broth or meat stock to form a dense dough-like consistency

ROLLEDPlace moistened kibble, cooked rice, ground meat, and hotdogs into the food processor. Grind until mixed. Add oil or bacon grease. Grind until incorporated. Add enough bone broth or meat stock to form a dough-like consistency.

Place mixture in a sealed container and store in refrigerator until ready to form pâté meatballs. If cold, heat for 30 seconds in the microwave to soften the pâté slightly. Roll out enough meatballs for a single meal in a size suitable for the dog.

Place in a bowl, on a plate, or hand feed.

Cache was a special dog to me. She was way more than just a dog or a pet. She truly was a fur child in my eyes. One of my heart dogs. I’m so grateful for my time with her. I have beautiful memories of my girl.

This recipe worked wonders for Cache.  If you are struggling to get a dog to eat, maybe this meatball pâté will work wonders for your dog, too.

Melissa

 MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteTry out the recipe and tell us if it helped your pet, too. Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and share recipes that you love for your dogs!

The Importance of Downtime

HAMMOCKIn many of my business lectures, I ask my audience how many of them take regular vacations. I’m always shocked when I see how many pet professionals don’t schedule vacations or downtime for themselves.

Did you know roughly half of all Americans don’t take annual vacations? And if they do take vacations, it’s common that they stay connected to work or even bring work along with them! Are you guilty of either of these situations? I have always scheduled downtime for myself. However, I admit I am guilty of being connected to work wherever I am – even when on vacation.

Scheduling time off for yourself is important to your overall physical and mental health. There are many positive effects to your well-being.

Here’s a short list of positive attributes to scheduling down time for yourself.

  • increased productivity
  • open to new ideas and viewpoints
  • increased creativity
  • lower stress levels
  • higher energy
  • improved moods
  • positive relationships with family and friends

2017-02-08_1539I learned early in my career the importance of scheduling time off for myself. I have always been an over-achiever, taxing my system both mentally and physically on a regular basis. Yet, I always maintain an intense pace. Why? I know the importance of unplugging.

The key is getting it SCHEDULED.  What gets scheduled – gets done. That’s true for everything, including down time!

Schedule time to disconnect. Schedule time to unplug. Schedule time to breathe. Schedule time to just enjoy life.

Here is a collection of ways to unplug. Use it to get your ideas flowing on how YOU can find time to decompress from an abundant (and sometimes insanely busy) life.

  • Daily Down Time – Do something every day you enjoy. Maybe it’s spending quality time with your family or friends. Cooking. Exercise. Sports. Reading. Doing something creative. Just take the time to enjoy the simple things life offers.
  • ab3ca0e2f7a04a4ad659c82ea2485e0eFull Days – Book a day just to do something fun and special. You might opt to include only yourself. Or plan an activity with friends. Or with family. Many times, special days don’t require money but they do require time and planning.
  • Weekend Jaunts – When is the last time you booked a weekend excursion? Everyone has different tastes. Some enjoy the solitude of the woods, water, or slopes. Others get a charge out of dog show weekends. Others gravitate to the city. There are literally thousands of things you could do on a weekend, creating special memories for a lifetime.
  • Staycations or Holistay – If your life is supercharged or you don’t have the financial resources for a full-fledged vacation, staying home could be the best answer. What is a staycation or a holistay? It’s when you stay home and participate in leisure activities within driving distance. You sleep in their own bed at night. You might make day trips to local tourist sites, swimming locations, or participate in fun activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, wine tasting, hiking, or visiting museums. Most of the time it involves dining out more frequently than usual or participating in carefree dinner menus.
  • Vacations – Think big. Have fun. Head to the islands. The slopes. Experience a cruise. Explore areas you have never been. Participate in activities that are new to you. Every city, state, and country has a wide range of activities. The only thing holding you back is your imagination and possibly your pocketbook.

A word of caution. When planning any type of downtime – is make sure it stays downtime. Don’t over schedule too many activities. If you do, you will just jump from one frenzied lifestyle into another. You won’t relax and rejuvenate.

Vacations and down time reduce stress and improve health. Time away makes you an effective, productive, and happier worker. You’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life tosses your way. Take the time to get down time into your calendar.  You deserve it!

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteP.S. How do you unplug?  If you don’t – or can’t – tell us why.  Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.

 

 

clinicSpend the day with Melissa

Melissa Verplank will be in Lutz, Florida on Sunday, March 19, 2017 for an all day seminar.  Melissa will present four of her most popular lectures that are sure to help you and your business!

The Power of Natural Remedies

Using Natural Remedies to Ward Off Laryngitis

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I’ve been a long-time believer of natural remedies. The healing power of nature is amazing. There are so many avenues, it’s often mind-boggling.

I have used natural remedies to cure tendonitis, boost my immune system, sleep better, relax, increase energy, control cholesterol, and ward off cancer. I follow a Paleo/anticancer diet which eliminates all processed foods. I have had great success using natural means to ward off health concerns.

This success makes me a true believer in this quote:

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This year has been extremely busy. With the release of the second edition of Notes from the Grooming Table, I have been doing a lot of speaking engagements. I also have a long history of losing my voice when I speak for extended periods. I’m just very prone to laryngitis.

I always feel fine – I just can’t speak above a very soft whisper. Normally, I have been able to get through my events before I lost my voice. This year was different. I was consistently losing my voice after just two lectures.

I had been hired by Barkleigh Productions to speak at Groom Expo. A few weeks before the show, reality started to sink in. I had been hired to give seven lectures over the weekend! Not only was I speaking, I had a judging assignment, too. In addition, I was attending the Barkleigh Honor Awards banquet for two nominations: Website of the Year and Book of the Year. When you factor in all of the talking that happens at any trade show, I knew laryngitis was likely. What would I do if people couldn’t hear one of my hour-long presentations? How could I motivate, inspire, or teach them if I couldn’t speak?

I needed to keep my voice.

product5_seasonal_throatcoatlemonechinacea-06-348x408At the Atlanta Pet Fair, Lisa and Eric Leady introduced me to an organic tea that their daughter Amanda drank before singing engagements. My husband ran out right away and got me a box of Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals. After drinking a few cups over night, my voice came back.

About a week before the Hershey show, I reached out on Facebook and asked if anybody had any suggestions on natural preventatives for laryngitis. I was flooded with suggestions!

Luckily, there are many common threads. Added humidity, essential oils combined with tea, honey, and lemon were the top contenders. I narrowed down the comments into the following treatment plan.

Humidity

When I thought back on my speaking engagements for this year, I realized all were in hotels or convention centers with air conditioning. Hmmm… Air-conditioning removes humidity from the air. Could that be a major cause for my bouts with laryngitis?

Many of the comments suggested running a hot shower in the hotel room to build up humidity levels. Other people suggested running a humidifier.

I didn’t do either. I took it one step further.

We were traveling and staying in our coach at a local RV park. We opted to leave the windows open versus running the air conditioner which would have reduced the natural humidity levels.

I knew I had a steam inhaler sitting in the cabinet. It got packed into the coach. I used it at least three times a day while I was speaking – with a few drops of essential oils.

Essential Oils

essential_oilsFor years I had been hearing about the powers of essential oils. I had dabbled in it, but hadn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon. I even had two books outlining suggested usage for essential oils, as well as all the items that go along with using them! I was totally ready to jump in!

For laryngitis, I used a combination of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender in a variety of ways. It was also heavily suggested that I boost my immune system by using Doterra “On Guard,” an essential oil protective blend.

Here’s how I used the essential oils.

I mixed On Guard with fractionated coconut oil according to directions in my book. I put this mixture in a small rollerball applicator. I started using On Guard about a week prior to the event. I put it on my wrists, forearms, and the bottoms of my feet several times during the day.

I also mixed sandalwood with fractionated coconut oil according to instructions and put it in a small rollerball applicator. This would be applied to my forearms and my throat five or six times a day while I was speaking.

I started to put On Guard into my diffuser. I ran the diffuser whenever we were in the coach. The diffuser added the immunity boosting properties of On Guard into the air. The little bit of the humidity it added didn’t hurt either! Plus, it smelled great!

The steam inhaler was a great bonus item. I really feel it helped keep my voice strong. I spent about 20 minutes, three times a day, using the steam inhaler that contained a drop of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender essential oils.

Tea

coffee-and-dna-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smartAs soon as we arrived in Hershey, I started drinking my Throat Coat tea. There are two types, one with lemon and one without. I have used both with great success. I would start my day with a nice mug of hot tea and one or two tablespoons of honey. I continued to drink the tea and honey throughout the day. It was always in my spill-proof travel mug and never far from my side. On a rare evening occasion, I’d even added a small splash of Jim Beam Honey to the brew. It’s not the best way to stick to my overall diet plan, but it’s sure a great way to wind down after a long day!

So how did my natural remedies work while I was at Groom Expo 2016?

I’ve got to be honest. I was a bit skeptical about my voice holding up, but I was still going strong after four lectures! I did fine through a judging assignment, another lecture, and the Barkleigh Honors Awards where I gave two acceptance speeches. My voice remained strong (okay, maybe a little jittery during the acceptance speeches) and I went into my third day with two more lectures without a hint of laryngitis!

I have become a true believer of the power of essential oils combined with other natural healing methods to overcome common ailments. I was thrilled with my results. In the future, the items pictured above will always be my traveling companions for any speaking engagement!

What natural methods do you swear by? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Why Should I Schedule Holiday Appointments in September?

dogIt’s hard to think about scheduling for the holidays with apples still growing bright on the trees and pumpkins still turning orange in the fields. Warm weather makes it hard to start thinking about holiday plans. What if I told you that this is the perfect time to avoid holiday stress?

The secret to avoiding holiday madness is to put your festive season pre-booking plans into gear before the chill hits the air. Are you surprised? It’s true! Here is an added perk to pre-booking holiday appointments. ‘Tis the season to guarantee the typically quiet months of January and February are lively and robust. This is the perfect time to ensure you have a holly, jolly, and profitable grooming season.

When you count it out, we are not that far out from many prime holidays. In just six short weeks it will be Halloween. In 10 weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. In about 15 weeks we will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. All of these holidays revolve around friends and family.

holiday-stress-600x300pxOne of the biggest ways to eliminate being frazzled by all the holiday pressures is to get organized, now. The last thing your clients want to worry about is having their four-legged fur baby looking unkempt and bedraggled as friends and family enter their homes to celebrate the season.

Years ago we discovered that pre-booking was a great way to get control of our salon schedule. It offered a great benefit to our customers, as well. We even found a few hidden bonuses. One of those bonuses was shortening the time frame between appointments on our five and six-week clients. Our customers often opted to shave off a week or two from their regular schedule just to make sure their dog was looking fresh and festive. By doing so, the added revenue dropped directly to our bottom line. Another bonus was the generosity of tips around the holiday season. The third bonus was our ability to pre-book into the typically slower January and February appointment time frames here in Michigan. When done correctly, our January and February can be some of our more profitable months.

So how do you kick this off?

Start by going through your client list. Identify your premiere clients. You know who they are – the clients that book regular appointments every one, two, three, four, five, and six weeks. You will start pre-booking appointments based on the frequency your clients typically come into the salon.

5-phone-calls-that-saved-me-100Once you have them identified, it’s time to pick up the phone and get them scheduled. I consider it a courtesy call to our most important and regular clients.

Your weekly and bi-weekly clients should have automatic standing appointments throughout the entire year. Those clients are your most valued premier customers. Confirm all of their appointments. They should be dropped into the schedule first, getting premium appointment choices. Once all your one and two-week clients are booked, move to your three-week clients. If they do not already have pre-scheduled appointments through the holiday season, pick up the phone to get them scheduled. Continue to move down the list to the four-week clients. Finish up with your five- and six-week clients.

By the time you are done, you will have very few appointments left. Why? Because you’ve done such a good job taking care of your most valuable clients. If you do have any appointments left, you can be selective about what you take. You will have the control and confidence to know what can be done or what needs to go on to a cancellation list or when you simply need to say, “I’m sorry, but we are full.”

Once the schedule is set – stick to your guns. Sure, the holiday season can be extremely profitable for grooming establishments, but do you really need to push yourself beyond your limits?

No. Not if you value your mental and physical health.

istock_83916991_mediumOnce you get into the final countdown in November and December, looking forward six weeks will be January and February. Before those clients leave, they should have their January and February appointments pre-booked. If you struggle to get clients to pre-book during the colder months, think about incentives to help encourage pre-booking. Maybe it’s a discount off their next grooming. Maybe it’s a free add-on, upsell, or spa treatment. Get creative – but make sure you’re ready to offer the incentive at checkout to get those deep winter appointments booked.

Don’t forget, the holiday season is about friends and family. You have a right to enjoy them, too. How can you fully enjoy family time when you’re totally drained? Some of you may miss festivities altogether! I can’t tell you how many Christmas Eve’s and even Christmas days I totally missed because I was simply exhausted. Most successful groomers have to learn this lesson the hard way – including myself!  Don’t believe me? Click here to check out my video on Learn2GroomDogs.com!

When you have a pre-booking priority system, you are in control. You’ll be able to recapture your holiday spirit and sanity – and so will your team!

Remember, as the holidays draw closer, the dogs get easier. Typically, these are the one- to three-week regularly scheduled pets. Simple spruce-ups are usually all that’s needed to make them look amazing for their families.

This system works best when you start pre-booking in September. Don’t wait. You’ll thank me later when you have time to enjoy loved ones and some holiday cheer.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa