Monday, June 30, 2008

Save a golden retriever!

Finnegan asks to save some golden retrievers

After having been at the West Los Angeles Animal shelter Sunday afternoon this article about two little gonlden retrievers who are in need of help dropped in the RSS reader.

Poor little Ben has been in ICU the past 4 days and is hanging on by a thread. Unfortunately Jerry had to join him yesterday. With all their medical costs adding up the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue is trying to raise funds so they can continue care and give these boys a fighting chance. You can securely donate at their Firstgiving page.

Couldn't pass up on posting this.

Monday, June 23, 2008

VPI Pet Insurance Review - Is it worth it?

If you're like me when you first got your pet you argued with yourself over getting pet insurance. On the one hand, a puppy quickly becomes part of the family and is definitely worth any cost. Then again we all hate dealing with insurance companies, and are suspect that we're being ripped off, so is it really worth the extra headache or do you just want to pay for any health issues out of pocket? Do they even cover anything?

We did the whole err on the side of caution' thing, and got Finn pet insurance. They did reimburse us after we got him neutered and had a check up, but not for the full amount. Filing the claim wasn't that hard, despite many online reviews that say they request too many forms, we simple sent n everything possible and let them sort it out. For our most recent visit to Brentwood Pet Clinic, our vet helped out by filling out the vet required part and faxing it to VPI for us. We followed up with VPI a few days later to make sure everything was in and now we just wait to see what's approved. Finding out how much you are qualified for is nearly impossible without some help, unless you are a fan of reading legalese, but the staff has been very helpful over the phone. Check ups and vaccinations are easy enough, you say what they are, they pay you the set amount. Other, unforeseen, issues are a bit more cryptic. Our policy has a laundry list of things that aren't covered, one of which is anything to do with Finn's hips due to his breeds susceptibility to hip dysplasia.

We've have been lucky that Finnegan has been relatively healthy and haven't had much need for the insurance. This most recent visit we took him in for something we saw in his poop (thinking it was tape worms), it turned out not to be but he did have Giardia. Because Giardia can be spread to humans I was warned by the vet not to eat Finn's poop, as eating poop is likely how Finny got it and could pass it along. The treatment consisted of a 3-day powder medication that we added to some wet food for him.

The vet also said he had an ear infection despite our fairly regular schedule of cleaning his ears. His ears get dirty all the time though, from things like rolling in the lawn, so it's not that much of a surprise they got infected even if were are still concerned. They gave us some medicated drops for a 3 week treatment and then we'll just make sure to keep the ears extra clean and be on the lookout for any inflammation.

As far as the insurance goes, we have no idea if/what/how much of the trip will be covered. Finn did get vaccinations while there, and he was due for a checkup in a few weeks anyways so we should be reimbursed for those. Having to wait to find out what is covered is the worst part, and if it's not a significant amount we may rethink the insurance overall. At about $40 a month, I do wonder if it has been worth it and I think we may let it lapse. We'll still save some money just for Finn but that $40 a month could go a long way to paying most of these bills.

If anyone else has experiences with pet insurance, please let us know your view in the comments.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Westridge Canyon Wilderness Dog Park

Even in Los Angeles there are still dirt roads, trails, and wilderness areas that exist to give everyone a feel of the outdoors. I'm a huge fan of finding new places to go hiking so last Sunday Finnegan and I went to take a hike at this off leash wilderness area (although Finn would be staying on leash because there were birds and cars, bad mix).

We parked up off Mullholland Drive at a power station (yeah I know it sounds like the island on Lost!. I'm not too sure where but supposedly there is an off-leash area in the area. I didn't see any signs that said off-leash, but we did see a dog off leash. The park is offically located at:

Wilderness Canyon Dog Park
17500 Mulholland Drive
Encino Ca. 90049

but unfortunately we didn't get that far. " From the 405 freeway, take Mulholland Drive west 2.7 miles."
were the directions we were following, no mention of the fact that the last .2mils of this was down a dirt road (I'd suggest not heading up here after a rain for this reason). What's more you can drive all the way to the top if you'd like to access more trails and avoid hiking on fire roads. Next time we'll do that and hike along the ridge but this time we got to hike the fire road leading up to the old Nike Missle Site. Along the way we stopped to take a picture overlooking the San Fernando Valley.Finnegan Overlooking the San Fernando ValleyThis radio tower they have up top is some relic from the Cold war, it is one of 300 original sites scattered around the country. On the walk up we got a nice view of the San Fernando Valley and Finnegan posed for a photo op over looking the valley.

When we arrived at the station and took a quick water break for Finn at the bowls that were lying out. Each bowl seemed to have a name on it of a dog and a date they passed away. They were left there, I suppose, as a tribute to a great pet. We sure think they are great for leaving a bowl at exactly the place Finn wanted to see one. After the drink we headed up to the top of the tower to have a look around.

Golden Retriever atop the NIKE missile station
Finnegan loved bouding up the stairs of the tower, his reward was a decent view that would have been better without the smog; and a nice cool breeze that made it all worth it. I took some photos up top that I'm hoping to stitch together for a full 360 view but I also snapped Finnegan before we began the return hike down to the car.

There are loads more trails, and you can find a trail map on the web, but we decided to head on back to the car. All in all the trip was good. If we do it again we'll probably drive all the way up to the station where you can park a car without much fear, then the real adventures will begin.

The wikipedia article on Nike Missles is a great entry that sheds some light on the function of the station and the California Enviornmental Information Catalog has a great hsitroy of the surrounding area that explains how this wonderful park has stayed just that:

The acquisition of Westridge-Canyon Back Wilderness Park, formerly know as the Eastport property,Cold War warning sign at Westridge Canyon Park culminates over a decade of preservation efforts by Yaroslavsky, the Conservancy and many surrounding community groups. Eastport was the single largest privately owned open space remaining in the City of Los Angeles. The property had at one time been permitted for the development of over 500 homes. It had also been slated to be used as access for potential Rustic and Sullivan Canyon landfills until Yaroslavsky successfully removed the property from the Sanitation District's map. The park is contiguous with the 20,000 acre urban wilderness park system known as the """"""""Big Wild"""""""". The property is bordered by upper Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Mission Canyon and the Conservancy's San Vicente Mountain Park. The dominant feature of the site is a north-south ridgeline, known as the Westridge fire road. This fire road has long been used by hikers and mountain bikers, and is accessible from both theSan Fernando Valley and the West Side. "
Thanks public records.

So Finnegan might not have gotten the same history lesson out of this that others would, but at least he got to feel important, as if he were in charge of protecting a whole missile station.
A Golden Sentry at the Cold War missile site

Overall it was a great Sunday hike, not crowded, nice views, plenty of trails. The bathrooms being closed was annoying but understandable. If anyone happens to know the story of the dogs whose bowls are up at the station please let me know. That water made the whole trip.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Puppy Flies His Own Flag.

Finnegan has been known to walk to the beat of his own drum. He is an independent little golden retriever, so it's only fitting he needs a flag. With the recent trip up north, to the beach, and around L.A, using the California flag as a basis just makes sense.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pictures- Puppy Finn Experiencing Spring Time

It's been a while since I've posted some solid pictures of Finnegan. Here are a few of the past months.
Golden Retriever lying in the grassAt one year two months old Finnegan is in the prime of his golden retriever puppy years. He is still a little kid and watching him playing in the yard is just great. I got to take Finn with me on a business trip and visit to my parents, and Finn's mom joined us for the weekend.

These two (above and below) we took as the puppy was playing in the yard. He loved his mini dog excursion to the grandparents back yard and showed his fondness of such by sticking his nose in anything that smelled and rolling or napping in anything else (although sometimes he rolled in nasty smelling things as well.
Finnegan the puppy stretched out on the grass
Golden Retriever Green GrassThe yard suited Finn, and he even lent some of his gardening (tearing out plants) and cooking (poking his nose in an unlit grill). He didn't see any problem with his behavior and just kept giving off these puppy dog eyes.Puppy with his head cocked giving puppy dog eyes
Adolescent Dog
We spent a lot of time outside with Finn just chewing on his bone. We even took him to a dog park up in Danville.Danville California Dog Park
Finnegan gnawing away
Dog food and an old wood floorThe old floor with Finn's food and the new deck where he did most of his eating.
The pooches eyes say Who Me?Finnegan even got to go to the top of Mount Diablo. At 3,849 feet it the highest point Bear has ever been outside. The Tejon Pass on the I-5, which we drive on the way up north, is at 4183ft, but we haven't let the little pooch out of the car up there.
Dog atop Mount Diablo in Northern CaliforniaAll in all it was a great trip, Finny got to go to park, we got to relax and see my parents. Great Memorial Day Weekend