When The Struggle Is Worth It.

August 16th, 2019

The Three Peaks Challenge was the hardest physical challenge I have ever done in my life. OMG!

Inspired by my friend Tasha Anderson, I booked the challenge on the 3rd of August 2019. My thoughts were that August is usually nice and warm, and it was. We were very lucky with the weather. It was sunny and warm but not too hot with a few light showers at night while climbing Scafell Pike. To be honest, at that point I didn’t really care what was falling from the sky 😂.

For those who don’t know, the National Three Peaks Challenge is an event in which participants attempt to climb the highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours. This event is frequently used to raise money for charitable organisations and in my case, I was raising money for Vita Canis Style to Rescue. I’m happy to report I raised £840.

Thank you to all who supported me!!

So during the challenge, the walkers climb each peak in turn and are driven from the foot of one mountain to the next. According to Wikipedia, the total distance walked is estimated at 42 – 44 kilometres (26 – 27 miles) with a total ascent of 9800 feet (3000m). To be honest it felt more like a zillion km!

I prepared for the challenge by running, training at the gym, exercising at home and I thought I was pretty well prepared as I’m an active person anyway. Well… I needed to train harder. I actually needed to go out into the mountains and train there as the road run and gym equipment does NOT prepare you for the uneven surface, slippery rocks, and crumbling gravel. At least I know this for next time.

The first mountain we climbed was Ben Nevis (1345m) in Scotland. I could see the mountain from my B&B window and was thinking to myself… gosh, I’ll be there tomorrow.

We started the morning with a meeting at 8 am at the train station at Fort William. The mountain leaders introduced themselves, the whole process and itinerary was explained and our equipment was checked. When you sign up, you get a list of equipment you must have, like a head torch, hiking shoes, water, hat and gloves and waterproofs – as the weather in mountains can change quickly.

The coaches then took us to the bottom of the Ben Nevis and off we went. I really enjoyed Ben Nevis, the sun was shining, the view was amazing and I didn’t know how but I went up pretty fast and ended up at the top with the first group – the fast guys 😀. I was well chuffed and thought this challenge wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. How wrong I was!!

When we got back to the bus, coffee, tea and cakes were waiting for us and after a quick change and stretching, we were heading to England to climb Scafell Pike in Lake district. The 6-7 hour journey didn’t help my muscles. My legs became stiff, my feet began to swell and my back was hurting from sitting. I then got so angry with myself because I left my roller and my muscle pain-relieving gel in my suitcase in the trailer 🙈.

We got to Scafell Pike just before 10 pm, and it was already dark. My legs weren’t moving as easily as before but I thought I’d be able to shake it off and that with more walking they would loosen up. Another mistake… they didn’t loosen up and the walking didn’t become easier but, in actual fact, harder. I tried to keep up with the fast guys but I couldn’t, tried to convince myself… you can do it… mind over body… one step at the time…quitters never win… winners never quit… and other mantras and self-talk of which some I can’t publish 🤣. Well, I didn’t quit. I was just told to take a break and wait for the 3rd group. I gratefully accepted and I enjoyed the 10 minutes sitting in pitch black dark on the mountain, in complete silence. Tasha told me it would be magical, and it was ✨.

I had thought that Scafell Pike would be the easiest one as it was the smallest. Another mistake! Already tired after Ben Nevis, with no sleep, except dosing off on the bus and then walking up steep rocks in the middle of the night for 2 hours is NOT what I would call easy.

We had warm porridge and drinks waiting for us at the bottom of Scafell Pike and then and we were driven to the last (YAY!) challenge, the Snowden in Wales. We got there at about 7 am. Did I, at this point, feel like walking anywhere at all nevermind climbing another mountain? NO AND NO, but off we set towards Snowden top.

At about 20min from the mountain top, our group was turned around as we were running out of time which was frustrating as the last bit seemed pretty flat. I was disappointed, but on the other hand, was glad it was over. At this point, even walking downhill was a challenge and I was ever so grateful to my two new friends, the faithful walking sticks, who stood by my side the whole time. I will never forget you ❤︎!

The recovery after the challenge took a few days and I used everything I could to ease the muscle pain: the roller, essential oils, tuning forks, massage… and it did work I must say.
I’m so glad I did it and now, fully recovered, I know I will do it again to improve my time.

If you’d like to join me next year, that would be great!!

Here’s some advice for those who would like to do it:

⛰ If you think you’ve trained enough, think again and train harder.
⛰ Do as much hiking as possible and get yourself comfortable on rocky roads and paths.
⛰ Get walking sticks!
⛰ Get a really, REALLY powerful head torch.
⛰ Take salty and sour snacks as well as sweet ones. I was sick of sweets by the end of the challenge!
⛰ Get a good quality camel bag. Mine broke so I was given a 2l plastic water bottle which kept falling down from my rucksack, adding to my frustration.

In conclusion… if you want to do the challenge just do it!! I don’t regret it for a second and it was one of the most incredible, unforgettable experiences!

Jitka xx
 

The Powerhouse That Is an Essential Oil

August 8th, 2019

As I mentioned in my newsletter this week I’m very grateful to every single person who took their time and completed the survey.
Thank you so much, once again ❤︎.
So many of you mentioned that the products smell lovely. I am, of course, a bit biased but I agree 😊. That, however, wasn’t my intention but it worked out really well. How come, you may ask?

Many people associate essential oils with a nice smell. Odours can not only influence our mood and evoke emotions but can also counteract stress and even reduce high blood pressure.

Only a few essential oil molecules are needed to recreate memories, associations and feelings.

When we inhale essential oils our olfactory nerves send a signal to our brain that results in a perception of smell followed by a hedonic response. This means that the odour perception causes an emotional response, which can be positive or negative. A positive response will make us feel good, be calming or even uplifting while the negative one is alarming, so we pull away, hold our nose, or it can even make us feel unwell. There is more though to essential oils than just a nice or interesting smell that makes us feel a certain way.

All essential oils are powerhouses with many amazing therapeutic properties and here are some of them: Anti-inflammatory – able to decrease swelling and inflammation. German chamomile in our Skin Relief and Paw & Hand Butter works this magic!Analgesic – relieves and diminishes pain. The local anaesthetic action of Peppermint essential oil is significant and can be found in Vita Canis Skin Relief.Expectorant – promotes the discharge of phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract. When we inhale essential oils, about 93% of the particles travel to the lungs then into the bloodstream and other organs. Very effective expectorants are pine, eucalyptus, fennel, and more. That’s why you can find these aromas in commercial inhalers, cough medicines and cough sweets, etc.Sedative – reduces nervousness, distress or agitation. Our Comfort Blend contains lavender, neroli and other essential oils to achieve just this. Essential oils are not a one-trick pony but more like a Jack of all (many) trades. Let’s use lemon essential oil as an example 🍋.

The smell of lemon can boost your energy, alertness and help you overcome mental fatigue. It’s like a breath of fresh air and I think that’s why it’s been used for decades for household cleaning products – to give us the freshness and good feeling associated with a clean home.

Lemon is not only a nice smelling and uplifting oil, but it also has many other properties namely:

🍋 Antimicrobial and antiseptic
🍋 Acts as an astringent contracting and binding tissues
🍋 Carminative action by settling the digestive system and expels gas from the intestine
🍋 Rubefacient by warming and increasing blood flow

Because of its antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, lemon essential oil is an important part of Vita Canis Ear Cleaner. It’s also an immunostimulant so it helps strengthen the body’s immune system. Lemon essential oil is an effective cleanser and that’s why it’s so easy to remove excessive wax and dirt from dogs’ ears.

Let’s also not forget that lemon essential oil is an insecticide meaning it drives away many insects and even kills some of them. It’s also the main reason why it’s one of the main ingredients in our Insect Repelling Citrus Spray.  

Do you perhaps have any recipes to share with us that you use essential oils in?

Puddles of Fun!

August 1st, 2019

And here we are again… summer is in full blast! Personally, I love it! I love the sun and the warm weather, and I actually even cope well in hot weather too. Maybe it’s because I used to live in Slovakia where we used to have, and still have, very hot summers (and I’m talking months not just a few days). I know it’s not for everyone… but like anything else, you (or the weather) can’t make everyone happy.

Last year, in one of my July Blogs, called Awesome Summer Activities to Do with Your Dog, I wrote about different summer activities you can do with your dogs. Amongst them were paddling and swimming, making frozen treats, twist with the Kong, and few more.

For me, summer and swimming go hand in hand. When I was little, we spent a lot of time at public pools, lakes, rivers and even took a few trips abroad to enjoy the ocean. The times spent near water became even more fun when we got out first dog, a Mini Schnauzer named Ajo.

Ajo loved swimming so much!!! We used to throw balls to him for what felt like hours and he never got tired. He would run, jump into the water, grab the ball and swim back… again and again. He’d also love jumping into the stream to fetch floating sticks. Our other dogs, Hovawarts, Cherry and Blondie, weren’t that keen. They wouldn’t fetch anything from the water. They’d wait for Ajo to fetch the ball, then corner him, take the ball and proudly present it to us. Crafty girls! 😂 They did join me when I went swimming though and would circle around me like guard dogs. I’d end up with a few scratches when they came a bit too close but I thought it was very sweet how they looked after me and protected me.

Swimming is an excellent way to get fit, not only for humans but also for dogs and other animals like horses. Swimming provides an aerobic workout that strengthens the heart and lungs, tones and builds muscles and it’s good for their joints. Let’s not forget it’s also heaps of fun!

Mr Tank is the only dog of mine that enjoys water at the moment and in any form or shape too. Since he was small he’s loved playing in puddles as well as with the water hose and jumps in every stream. I’ve even had to rescue him a few times from being stuck in the mud… not easy with them short legs 😊.

Many dogs know how to swim from the first moment that they even step foot into a pond or a pool. Dogs are natural swimmers and don’t need to be taught to swim. Over the years though a few people have told me that Scotties can’t swim but on the other hand I’ve also heard that they can and actually enjoy it!

Do any of you have any experience with this?

Mr Tank is a water baby but can’t swim well and I think if left unattended, he would drown. This was proved twice in his life. The first time was when I was walking him with Martha by the quarry lakes near our house. I had kept them on flexi leads as I knew they would run straight into the water but I took them quite close so that they could paddle and have some fun. While I was watching Martha rolling in the mud like a happy piglet (not paying much attention to Mr Tank – I know bad right), he went too far and out the corner of my eye I saw him turning to one side, struggling to keep his head above the water. I dragged him out of the water but luckily he was absolutely fine and wasn’t distressed. Tough cookie my Tanky 😊.

The second time he experienced a ‘proper’ swim was at Dogs Unleashed last year. They always have a few swimming pools there for dogs to cool down and have some fun in. I stood for ages with an over-excited Mr Tank in the cue. When our turn came we followed the procedure you would follow when you introduce your dog to water and swimming. I picked him up, held him with one or both hands under his belly and watched and waited for him to start stroking on his own when he hit the water. After a few minutes, I pointed him in the direction towards the guide and released him. Bless his little heart, he couldn’t even swim straight 😳. Every time the guide let go Mr. tank started turning to one side.

Even though he couldn’t swim properly he really enjoyed the experience and was buzzing afterwards. That made me think, why is it that he can’t swim? Is it that he’s heavy and has a barrel-like trunk (not fat by the way but solid and strong). Is it short legs that can’t paddle fast enough to keep the body above the water? I think the best solution would be to get him a little life jacket and put it on every time we are near water.

Have you experienced the same or something similar with your dog? I’d really love to hear about anyone else’s experiences with this 😊

Until then go grab your fur-baby and go have some fun in the sunshine while the weather is still in our favour!

Echinacea: The Powerful Healer

July 27th, 2019

I’ve been back home (my English home) for almost a week now and the six days spent in Slovakia with my family were AMAZING! The weather was good, the food was incredible, as usual, and it was lovely to see new cafés and restaurants opening where you could sit outside and enjoy the lovely food.

Apart from the traditional Slovak restaurants (traditional Slovak food is not vegetarian/vegan-friendly) many of the places offered a nice selection of vegetarian and vegan food. Everything I tried was so delicious… rice noodles with pak choy, vegan galletas, delicious falafels from a new Turkish kebab shop, raw cakes with coconut, mango, grapefruit and pear sorbet (not all on one plate of course 😂).  And then of course… mum’s cooking. Mums ratatouille and her mash potatoes (made especially for John) are incredible!

We all enjoyed our trip to our cottage in Hrochot’. It was lovely to let little Cherry off the lead and watch her explore our big garden. It must have been enormous for her! She took in her surroundings slowly but surely while keeping an eye on us, especially my mum.

This lovely little dog had no intentions of running away or hiding and getting up to mischief like we’re used to from young terriers her age. How refreshing that is lol! After she played with some teeny tiny sticks, gooseberries, walnuts and chased some ants, she happily fell asleep on my mum’s lap ❤️.
 
It was so nice to be in our garden, and I was telling John that when my Nan used to live there we used to spend our summer holidays there. At that stage, the whole garden was just a vegetable garden – no grass and no barbecue area to be seen. Every little piece of land was used to produce something… from potatoes to peas to lentils and beans, salads, strawberries, you name it.

I remember my Nan used to wake the children up early in the morning (at about 4 am 😱) to water the garden before it got too hot. We’d also pick up the black and yellow-striped “potato bug” before it did too much damage. Now you’ll find mainly grass, quite a few fruit trees, gooseberry and red and black currant bushes… and not forgetting, a lot of herbs.

One of them caught my attention this time… Echinacea.

Echinacea originates in Northern America and was brought to Europe by the German pharmacology trader, Joseph Mayer, around the end of the 19th century. Echinacea got her name from the Greek word echinos which means hedgehog. This herb is one of the best known for building and maintaining immunity.

It’s also known to:

🌸 Protect against infections
🌸 Shorten and ease recovery time 
🌸 Suppress bacteria and other viruses.

Echinacea also helps with the common cold as well as respiratory and other infections.

And what about our furry friends?

Echinacea benefits dogs who have weak immune systems and are susceptible to acute bacterial or viral infections. If a dog is exposed to an acute illness or has a sign of infection (for example kennel cough), or even if you feel your dog is coming down with something, it is suggested that you administer echinacea. The dosage depends on the needs and size of the dog but a conservative rule is to give 12-25 drops of the tincture 3 times a day.

If you want to give your dogs echinacea as a support to their immune system then small amounts of the tincture or herb can be given once every 3-4 days.

Even though Echinacea isn’t toxic, it’s not suitable for dogs with immune systems that are already overly-active and functioning abnormally, such as those suffering from autoimmune diseases, leukaemia, or diabetes. The same applies to humans including those affected with HIV/AIDS and other autoimmune problems.
  Have you tried echinacea and if yes, what did you use it for?

Let me know!

 

Sleeping Under The Stars

July 22nd, 2019

I’m not an experienced camper at all but I do ❤︎ it. As a little girl, I always dreamt of camping in the wilderness, with my dog, under the stars. I imagined us asleep, under a big rock overhang. We’d have a fire going and would be nicely cuddled up in a sleeping bag. We’re yet to do it – quite like that – but I believe there is still time. At that point, I didn’t even have a dog (I now have seven) so at least that part of the dream has come true 😊.

The first time my dog and I went camping was when I was 20. She was a lovely Hovawart girl called Cherry and my friend Lubka and I, together with both our furry friends went to a lake near Banska Stiavnica. Cherry had always been a very good guard dog so I put her on a long lead outside the tent thinking she would prefer to sleep outside and guard the tent. Guard it… she did! Each time someone walked past she would bark, run towards them, pull the peg out, say hi and come back. This happened a few times during the night before I gave up. I eventually let her come into the tent and she fell fast asleep, happily snoring till morning.

Twenty-five years later, here I am again but camping with another Cherry. What a beautiful coincidence, isn’t it?

This time however it’s in Germany, not Slovakia, and this Cherry dog is much, MUCH smaller but not less of a dog. I have to say, John planned the whole trip perfectly. We left our home at about 6 am on Thursday morning and got comfortably to our campsite, Camping Im Siebengebirge, at about 7 pm.

Camping Im Siebengebirge is a lovely and small dog-friendly campsite with quite a few quirky features. It’s also only 20 euros per night! The tent was set up in no time. Our comfy chairs and our little gas camping stove followed and we started to get our dinner ready. While John cooked I took Cherry for a walk which she really enjoyed!

She’s a little explorer, very curious and scared of nothing. After a lovely vegan burger and baked beans for me, chicken sausages, eggs and beans for John, we just sat there enjoying late cuppas in the evening sun. As the site was very quiet we let Cherry off the lead and let her explore the tent and surrounding grass area. She found some leaves to play with and chased a few bugs which was then followed by a few mad minutes running in and out of the tent. She’s such a funny little dog and didn’t even attempt to walk away from us. For the rest of the evening, she sat on my or Johns lap loving her camping adventure.

Because John had done some research before the trip, we not only had a tent that was very easy to put up but also camping beds and camping mattresses. I didn’t even know they existed but it made the whole experience even more comfortable. Note…I definitely wouldn’t drag it under the rock overhang lol 😂.

With Cherry’s bed between our beds, all three of us slept like logs. We woke up to a beautiful, warm sunny morning and shortly after we were ready for the second half of our journey. CHERRY IS ON HER WAY HOME! ❤️

Jitka xx

Loving Them Is Nourishing Them

July 14th, 2019

As you probably know, I’m a BIG advocate of raw feeding and I believe in and can see the benefits when it comes to my dogs as well as others. Raw food, in my opinion, is a species appropriate diet for our dogs as their whole digestive system is designed to process meat, bones, occasional veggies, berries and botanicals. Dogs are also designed to eat moist food, and they don’t get this if we feed them dry food.

I understand that some owners have a problem dealing with raw meat but it’s funny how they’re still able to cook a steak for themselves 🤷🏻‍♀️. See, although I’m vegan, I can still handle raw meat for my dogs and John (yes I cook it for him 🤪). I do this because I know it’s the best food I can give my dogs and in the case of John, well… no comment lol.

Another reason people prefer biscuits is that it’s more convenient nevermind cheaper. Yes, you don’t have to think of ordering the food in advance before holidays, you don’t have to fill your freezer, you don’t have to remember to get it out of the freezer the night before and when you run out of food you just pop into a local pet shop and get some. Simple. BUT…did you know that more and more pet shops are starting to sell raw food which is BRILLIANT 😉!

Yes, it’s more expensive but on the other hand, it’s an investment in your dog’s health and wellbeing and we can’t put a price on that.

There are also other options like Butternut Box or some good quality tinned food. Butternut Box was amazing for my Airedale Richard when he ran out of food because he was in love with it! The little weirdo wouldn’t eat meat but he’d happily munch on broccoli. Was he trying to go vegan, after me 🥦?) He loved the food but then his stomach stretched and we switched him back to raw.

Whatever dry food or kibble that you feed your dog you can still enrich it with some tasty healthy goodies. As I mentioned earlier, dogs are designed to eat food that is 70-90% moisture and dry food only has about 10% moisture. So if we don’t moisten the food the digestive system will seek the moisture and rob the dog of his vital fluids. As we know, staying hydrated is not only important for us, but for our dogs as well. Proper hydration maintains proper digestion, body temperature and circulation etc. If you rehydrate the kibble you’re helping your dog get extra fluids to stay hydrated and the biscuits will be easier digested. It can also help to reduce bloat.

What can we use to rehydrate the kibble? Here are some healthy options:
❤︎ Raw Goats Milk – Raw goat’s milk contains both anti-mucous and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a perfect supplement for dogs who suffer from allergies of any sort, including food and environmental allergies.

❤︎ Bone Broth is good for your dog for many reasons-  it’s extremely rich in healing protein and is a source of numerous minerals as such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.

❤︎ Raw Kefir – Kefir looks like milk, but it’s made from kefir grains and whole milk. Mixed together, these ingredients ferment at room temperature.  Kefir is great for digestive health and gives a boost to the immune system.

Any other tricks up your sleeve?  Let me know 🤞
Jitka xx
 

Meeting Cherry

July 4th, 2019

This month is all about puppies coming and going. The little Scotties are old enough to go to their new homes. This brings sad and happy moments combined so it’s definitely bitter-sweet. It’s sad to see them go as they are such a lovely bunch of cuteness – even when they bite my shoelaces and hang on my trousers –  but it’s nice to see the new owners so excited and to see the love they have for their new puppy. Good luck to our little chubbies in their new homes! ❤️

John & I are taking some well needed time off this month and driving to Slovakia to visit my family. The main reason why we’re driving is that we’re taking a Chihuahua puppy for my mum! I don’t know who’s more excited, me or my mum and dad!

After they lost our last dog a few years ago, which was a Miniature Schnauzer named Indy, mum didn’t want another dog. She didn’t want the responsibility and was also worried about walking a dog on the icy roads in the winter. As a result, for a few years, she just looked after her friends’ dogs while they were on holiday. Thing is, that every time she had a little holidaymaker with her, she lit up because she had somebody to look after, walk and play with… a little project, something to occupy her and something to entertain her.

I tried to convince her that a little dog would be good for them both, but there were always arguments like who would look after him/her if they came to visit me? What if my dad leaves the door open and the dog escapes? How will the regular holidaymakers react and how was she going to walk her/him in winter when worrying about falling?  

Now… because I’m a clever girl (I take after my mum), I came up with a solution to the problem and if you find a solution it’s not a problem… right?
Soooo, we decided that if my mum comes to visit, my sister will look after the dog. I’m sure her two cats won’t mind as they’re used to dogs. The regular doggie visitors are pretty sociable and they’ll have to accept the new arrival. I actually think that they’ll all get on very well.

A pen or crate is a great solution too if she is worried about the little dog sneaking out while dad’s going out. And winter times? If it’s a small breed, it can get plenty of exercise indoors on the grass area behind the block of flats, so no need to go on the icy pavement. Anything else? LOL 

One of mums holidaymakers is a Chihuahua and both of my parents fell in love with her for a few obvious reasons. She’s small so she can’t pull my mum on walks, she’s quiet (I thought Chiwies were yappy but apparently they actually aren’t), she’s affectionate but not too clingy and needy and can be happy on her own if mum goes out shopping.

This was the breed for them! Yay! So, I started researching. Originally I wanted to get a rescue Chiwie because I know lovely Rosie and Stan who come to me for boarding and they are so adorable but the problem would be with the house check and other procedures rescue organisations follow. Then I started to search for a breeder. I wanted a well-bred, healthy, strong little dog with a good temperament.

By this time my mum knew I was getting her a dog. After an initial, “no way, no, maybe, probably, ok then” she started to become very excited. My Dad too and that surprised me the most 😊. I thought he would have an angry outburst stating that it’s a stupid idea and that they’re too old for it, etc. but he didn’t and he agreed that a little four-legged addition would be lovely.

Then in stepped the Law of attraction and I came across Liga Rimovica on one of the dog grooming groups where she was looking for an ear cleaner for her chihuahua girl who had had small pups. Somebody had recommended my Ear Cleaner and tagged me. You know when you get that feeling, this is the person, these are the dogs? Well I did and so we started chatting, I really like her dogs, her approach & beliefs but ultimately it was up to my mum to choose the puppy.

Firstly mum went for a chocolate dog but then she changed her mind to a black and white little girl who is beautiful!! It’s actually a colour I’ve never seen before on a Chiwie. She’s nice and compact, has a good build and has a beautiful temperament.

When my mum was here, about 8 weeks ago, we went to visit Liga and we were so impressed with her little pack of Chiwies. They were all so well behaved, sociable and funny and for the first time, my mum had a chance to hold little Cherry. It was so sweet seeing them together. 
 
So now, everybody is excited about our new addition 😊! I can’t wait to pick her up next week and then pack the van with puppy pads, food, toys and of course the Calming Floral Spray to make the journey easier.

Liga did a great job training little Cherry to be in a crate so it won’t be a shock for her. With an overnight stop in Germany and regular stops during the day, it will take us two days to get home and I can’t wait to see my parents meeting Cherry. My heart melts when I think about it!
I think this little dog will definitely enrich my parents’ life. Research into the health benefits of owning a dog is now well established, especially for elderly people I think. Dog ownership even increases survival rates after heart attacks – thankfully not relevant to my parents though.
 
Did you know that it’s been found to:

❤︎ Lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
❤︎ Decrease blood pressure and stress
❤︎ Increase physical activity
❤︎ Increase feelings of well-being
❤︎ Lower rates of depression by elevating the levels of serotonin and dopamine.  
❤︎ Helps to feel less lonely
❤︎ Helps promote social interaction with other people
❤︎ May reduce the demand for medical care for non-serious health issues
❤︎ Pets have been shown to build self-esteem, increase mental alertness and lift the spirits of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
❤︎ Seniors also tend to care for themselves better when they own a pet.
 
Do you have any happy stories about a dog and an elderly person that you’d like to share?
P.S. Before I leave you, if you haven’t read up about the exciting fund-raiser I’m embarking on yet click here to read all about it!  With your donations, we will be able to make such a difference for those in need.

Summer Memories and Magical Herbs

June 27th, 2019

I’ve always loved this time of year. Back when I was at school it meant holiday time because we used to finish school on the 30th of June. For me, the summer was mainly associated with holidays at my grandma’s cottage in Hrochot… beautiful countryside, playing outside all day long, long walks and hiking but also early mornings, as we had to water the garden before it was too hot. I loved (and still do) going with my mum and harvesting some wild grown herbs like St. John’s wort and oregano. I’ll also never forget the sweetest and smallest wild strawberries, cherries and the other berries later in summer.

We’d arrive home with baskets full of herbs and we’d sort them. Some of them would be wound tight in little bunches and would dry in the loft, hanging upside down for a few weeks. The others, like St. John’s wort, mum would marinate. She would put the flowers and some leaves into a jar and pour virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil in making sure the flowers were completely covered with oil to prevent moulding. The jars were then placed on the window sill for about 4 weeks after which mum would strain the flowers using a muslin cloth. Then… VOILA, we had lovely red/brown sometimes even deep red oil.   
Remember, oil should be kept in a dark glass bottle in a cool, dark place.

This oil, that you too can make, has many therapeutic properties: It’s beneficial in cases of inflamed nerve conditions like neuralgia, sciatica, and fibrositis. From my own experience, I used this oil with great success when I had sciatica a few years ago
It lowers the skin temperature when used on burns and inflammation, including sunburn
It’s been suggested for haemorrhoids, gout, rheumatism, sores, ulcers, urticaria, herpes (L. Price, 2008)
When mixed with calendula oil it is very effective on bruises
When diluted with a base carrier oil (25% dilution) it’s very effective as a full body massage oil for stress relief
 
Note that it does have photosensitising properties, therefore, shouldn’t be used before sun exposure.
 
St.John’s wort plant can also be used to make herbal tea for anxiety, depression, gastric conditions, and unrest. Again, this tea shouldn’t be digested before going out, as it can cause delayed hypersensitivity or photodermatitis. 
 
Animals also know the benefits of this oil. According to Caroline Ingraham, St John’s wort is frequently selected by animals who suffer from fits and epilepsy and in cases of anxiety, depression, nerve pain, and tooth pain.
 
Another oil my mum makes is calendula oil. This oil is made by maceration of calendula blossoms in vegetable oil.

Calendula oil promotes healing and reduces inflammation, and can be used on: Broken veins
Varicose veins
Soothing tired legs
Bruises
Cuts
For irritated and sensitive skin

Give it a try and let me know what you think ❤︎
Jitka xx

The Astonishing Soap Nut

June 20th, 2019

I’m so excited to be offering you Soap Nuts on my website! You may be asking yourself what it has to do with dogs though? I often feel that we consider our dogs needs more than we do our own. We do more for our dogs than we do for ourselves, we buy them better food, better supplements and we worry that they don’t exercise enough or perhaps too much… sound familiar? 

More and more dogs these days suffer from different types of allergies, and sometimes it’s difficult, even with a blood test, to find out what’s actually going on. We can really only try and limit the causes to a certain point or give the dog prescribed medication. In my previous blog (found here) I mentioned what we can use, and do, to help our dogs that suffer from skin allergies such as change food, give immunity-boosting supplements, wash their toys, wash their beds, and bath, bath, bath!! 🛁

Some dogs can be even allergic to laundry detergent.  Skin reactions are often concentrated around the face, groin, under the front legs, or between the toes. Allergic reactions to laundry detergent can be caused by mere contact with laundered bedding, dog backpacks or clothing, or by contact with clothing worn by us. So why not change our detergent to hypoallergenic, 100% natural and a compostable option? TO SOAP NUTS!!

The main reason soap nuts are hypoallergenic is because they’re a fruit and it’s very rare to have a fruit allergy. However, just to be sure, the natural soap in the soap nuts have been tested by dermatologists and 100% of subjects tested had ZERO reaction (noticeable irritation) after 48 hours of exposure. It’s nice when modern science can prove what ancient civilizations have known all along! Soap nuts have also been tested and found to have mild anti-fungal and anti-microbial activity. BONUS!

Soap nuts are great for all fabrics and can be used at all temperatures from
30-90°C. They’re great for all washing machines, especially energy efficient machines & great for all allergy sufferers, not just dogs.

Soap nut fruits actually contain a natural soap called saponin, which is released when they come into contact with water. They help free dirt and grime from clothes and help carry it away. This is how all synthetic detergents work. So with every laundry, you are not only helping your dog, your family and yourself, but also our planet. There is no planet B…

Pop on over to www.soapnuts.co.uk to go read more about this incredible fruit nut! It’s taught me a lot!

Jitka xx

Itchy dog? Why You MUST Bath Your Dog More Not Less!

June 13th, 2019

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen more and more dogs with allergic dermatitis, food intolerances and immune-mediated diseases. We can try to limit the causes to a certain point and we can give the dog prescribed medication, however, this usually only provides short-term relief or improvement. Inevitably they will rear their ugly heads again sooner or later.  
There is, however, one thing we can do at home to help our itchy dog… bath, bath and bath again 🛁.

I bet in the past you’ve heard that you shouldn’t bath your dog often, perhaps even not at all? This was quite common a few years ago, especially with terrier people who believed terriers were not supposed to be bathed at all. Shampoos, in the past, were largely based on tar and sulphur but they have come a far way since then.

Bathing your dog at home is very effective, cheap and the sensible thing to do in order to remove the allergens from the coat and skin. Bathing provides immediate relief and the guideline is to bath your itchy dog at least once a week. 

The key is to choose your shampoo wisely. Go for a natural shampoo, containing coconut oil, argan oil, charcoal, jojoba oil, neem oil, calendula oil and essential oils like lavender, peppermint and chamomile. Read the label carefully because some shampoos contain natural and/or organic ingredients but can still contain some toxic chemicals.

Avoid shampoos with:

❌ added dyes or colourants
❌ artificial fragrances, as they are linked to allergies, headaches etc.
❌ parabens
❌ mineral oils
❌ Sodium laureth sulfate
❌ Stearalkonium chloride

If you’d like to do some DIY you can even make your own shampoo from soap nuts! Soap nuts (sometimes called “soap berries”) are probably the most sustainable cleaning product we can get 🙂

What are they? They’re an all-natural, plant-based product (they grow on a tree) that are easy to grow organically and require very little processing or packaging.
Soap nuts are naturally hypoallergenic, odourless, highly effective and gentle at the same time. There are countless ideas on how to use them, making them sustainable and versatile. Soap nut fruits actually contain a natural soap called saponin, which is released when they come into contact with water.

Here’s how you can make your own shampoo which doubles up as a cleaning product as well!

Add a hand full of soap nuts to 3 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes then let it cool down and strain it. You can then use this liquid to clean your kitchen floors, etc and you can even freeze it! An idea is to make ice cubes and then add them to your bucket of water to wash the floor. If you put the liquid in the blender you get a nice silky, foamy liquid that can be used as a 100% natural shampoo for you and your dog. Just be careful to avoid the eyes as it really stings.

As this product is all natural with no preservatives it won’t last long, in fact, only a couple of days in the fridge. I’d recommend making a fresh batch every time you need to bath your dog.

Another way to soothe itchy skin and balance the skin’s pH level, is to make an apple cider vinegar & green tea rinse:

🍏 ½ cup green tea; cooled down
🍏 ½ cup apple cider vinegar
🍏 1 cup distilled or boiled water cooled down

Mix it all up well, then wash your dogs as usual and rinse well with plenty of clean water. Apply the pre-made rinse on the dog’s coat and skin, massaging it in well. You can rinse it off or leave it on the coat and it can then work as a bug, fly and flea repellent as well! WOW!

You can keep the mixture in the fridge, in a closed jar, for about a week or two but if it gets mouldy, don’t use it!

Let me know how it goes?