In the Local Paper

On January 17th Gem Lieser, a reporter for the Newport Plain Talk newspaper came out to interview us about Piney Mountain Foster Care.  She became aware of us when Tourism Director, Linda Lewanski, talked about us and our Dogwood Days festival planned for May 2nd during an “upcoming events” segment on the radio.  She was plugging us because we are Newport Chamber of Commerce members.

The article came out in the paper on March 15.  Ms. Lieser got some of the info about dogs mixed up – but I threw a lot of info at her pretty quickly.  It was Buddy who came here from Cedarwood, not Scout, Scout came from The Friends Shelter.  If you’d like to see the article, I scanned it to JPG files.  Click the thumbnails below:

Front page

Page 5A photo

Page 5A text

Making Broccoli-Beef Stew for Phoenix

I’ve been working on a book for some time now.  It’s called Cooking for Your Dog, not exactly an inspired title, and that will probably change before it goes to print.  Marie will come up with something catchier.

The book is, as the mundane title says, about cooking food for your dog.  But it’s not just recipes.  It’s chock full of information on canine nutrition and the various ways they differ from people in what they can and cannot eat and why.  I’ve been researching it for a long time because it takes a lot of effort to validate information that is found on the internet.  In case you haven’t discovered it yet, you can’t trust everything on the internet to be accurate or even true.  Such is the case here.  Companies that make kibble sponsor “studies” that slam canned food.  Canned food producers disseminate info, through side channels, that tells how dangerous raw diet is and how much healthier a canned diet is.  You get the idea: everyone has an agenda and you can’t always tell who sponsored a particular study, or if it was truly unbiased.  I asked Dr. Sandra Conard Manes DVM for help in sifting through the hype and getting at the “meat” of this issue.

I’ve got a few details to finish up, but it’s mostly written.  I just need to test the recipes.

Getting Phoenix to eat enough to gain the weight she needs to gain has been a challenge since she does not like kibble, and gets bored with canned food.  Besides, good quality canned dog food is expensive.  I came to the realization that if I’m going to be spending over $40.00 per week on canned food for one dog, I could be testing the recipes and probably saving some money as well.

So here is documentation of my first recipe test and what I learned as I went.

Broccoli-Beef Doggie Stew


  • 2 cups Beef cut into 1/4″ cubes.  We used a roast, but you can use whatever cut you want.
  • 1½ cups of chopped broccoli
  • 1 large sweet potato (needs to yield 2 cups when mashed)
  • ½ cup barley
  • 4 cups liquid (including beef broth)
  • 1000 mg calcium citrate

Steam the veggies until soft.  Don’t boil them.  Then mash or puree to release the nutrients, a dog’s gut does not break down cellulose like ours do, so they can’t get at the nutrients of many plants, especially leafy plants.  Use some of the beef broth for thinning the puree so it renders down smoothly.

Cube up your beef.  Cut it into small pieces that won’t choke your dog (they are not known for diligently chewing their food) and will be easily digested.  Trim away excess fat.  Too much meat fat causes pancreatitis in dogs.

Boil up the barley according to package directions.  You may have to do some math here — or just make a larger amount and save the excess in the fridge for the next batch.  Use the beef broth to cook the barley.  If you need to drain off excess liquid after cooking, use a strainer and bowl to capture the liquid, don’t pour it down the drain.  That has good stuff in it, don’t waste it.

Add the calcium citrate.  You can use vitamin C capsules for this.  If they are the gel-caps, pull them apart and add the powder.  If a tablet, crush it/them in a pull crusher or between two large, nested spoons.  Calcium is important to your dog’s diet.  A wild dog gets calcium by eating the bones of its prey.  If you have a great butcher shop near by, you can get beef ground with bones in, just for dogs.  If not, add calcium citrate or dietary bone meal to the recipes.  Do not use the bone meal you find in the store’s gardening section.

The result is going to be stiff.  Add beef broth – barley water to thin to a pleasing consistency.  Go ahead and give it a taste, everything you’ve used is human grade food so just because you’re calling it dog food doesn’t mean you can’t try a bit.  I can definitely taste the sweet potato, the broccoli is more subtle.  That’s a good thing as far as dogs go.

Okay, pack that into an air-tight container and store it in the fridge.  If you have any liquid left, save that too, you’ll need it for thinning in days to come: it will stiffen up as it sits.

How Much To Feed?

This was the hardest question to find a good answer for, and I’m going to give it to you for free!  But first, some preamble.

If you are accustomed to feeding your dog canned food, you are probably thinking that the slightly over 3 pounds of stew this recipe produces won’t last but a day.  Less if you have a large dog.  Because you’re used to feeding your dog 3 to 8 cans of food per day.  That’s because commercial dog food is notoriously low on nutrient and high on fillers.  The cheaper the brand, the more true this is.  The top brands (see contain less bulk, but cost $2.00 to $3.00 per can.

My book goes into how to arrange for a balanced diet.  This one recipe will not do it.  You’ll need to vary ingredients to achieve nutritional balance over the long haul.  A general rule of thumb to use with any of the recipes in my book is to figure 2% to 3% of your dog’s ideal body weight in home-made food per day.  Note that I said “ideal body weight” and “per DAY” not per meal.

Let’s do a couple of examples.

This stew, as I made it, weighs 10 ounces per cup.  Let’s write that on a sticky-note and pop it right up here where we can see it while we work this stuff out.


YUM, warm beef stew!

Phoenix needs to weigh 55 pounds.  She is well under that right now, but that’s what we’re working toward so that’s what we use as a feeding basis.  And since we want her to gain weight, I’ll use the 3% figure.  3% of 55 pounds is 1.65 pounds or 26.4 ounces, of food per day.   She gets fed 3 times a day, so we divide that into thirds, and she needs just under 9 ounces.  (check the sticky note) Not quite a cup of stew per feeding.

As she closes in on her ideal weight we can cut back to the 2% figure or 5.9 ounces (call it 6 oz) of stew per feeding (check the sticky note) or about 2/3 cup.

Blondie Bear

Blondie Bear should weigh 80 pounds.  She usually runs heavier, so we’ll use the 2% figure.

2% of 80 pounds is 1.6 pounds.  Let’s convert that to ounces now: 1.6 x 16 = 25.6 ounces needed per day.

25.6 divided into two meals per day is 12.8 oz. per meal.  Let’s call it 13.  (check the sticky note) That’s 1 1/3 cups per meal.

That’s equivalent to what she gets fed in kibble.  The canned food we’ve been using says to feed one can per 15 pounds per day.  That’s 2 3/4 cans per meal.  That’s a lot of food!

Dr. Manes agrees with other evaluators who say that even the best dog kibble is essentially junk food.  It has to be cooked at such high temperatures to produce shelf-stable dry nuggets that most of the nutrient contend is killed off in the process.  A top brand of kibble is better than a cheap brand of kibble, but kibble is still kibble.

If I really want to do this right, I should just start making my own dog food for the whole pack.  I’d only need 8 pounds of home made food per day — that’s three times the batch I made today.

Every day.  (sigh)

Why Parvo Virus Is Such A Resilient Killer

When I worked at the Humane Society of Jefferson County I was taught to be fanatical about not allowing visitors to touch the dogs, especially new arrivals.  We  earned many annoyed glares from people who could not understand why they couldn’t interact with the cute doggos.  Especially the puppies: who could resist poking your fingers into the crate and allowing them to lick you fingers?

We were frequently told, “I haven’t been around any sick dogs.”  to which a co-worker of mine developed the response, “Have you been to a grocery store or Wal-Mart?  If you pushed a shopping cart in there you may have picked up parvo virus from someone who pushed that cart before you did.  It is that easy to pick it up and bring it in here.  And if you do, that cute puppy could die a horrible death in a couple of days.  So, please, don’t touch the dogs.”  And she was right: it is that easy.

Even though we vaccinated all dogs against parvo, bordatella, and kennel cough upon entry to our facility, it takes 21 days for a vaccine to develop full immunity in its host.  Before then, especially early on, that dog is still susceptible.

Graphic attributed to

How Parvo Spreads Infographic

Parvo virus is a contact-spread disease, not air borne, but the virus is so resilient that it can live on surfaces, in dirt or concrete, or in carpeting and upholstery for very long periods.  It can withstand extreme temperatures.  It can be killed, but not by regular household cleaners.  (Cleaners that kill parvo)  And as mentioned above, you don’t have to have direct contact with an infected dog to pick it up and spread it around.

You could step in the feces or vomit of an infected dog and bring it into your home.  Your dog could contract the virus from a public water source shared by other dogs.  An infected dog could rub its nose or drool on a chair.  This may dry, but if you sit on that chair, you could still pick up the virus on the seat of your pants and transfer it to your car, and the furniture in your home.  Keeping the virus out of your home and away from your dog may be impossible.  So the best defense is to vaccinate your dog.

If your dog contracts parvo virus it has a good chance — 80% — of survival if it is caught and treated early.  The common form of parvo is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite (anorexia). (More)  If untreated or let go too long, parvo has a 90% mortality rate.  If you see any of these indications in your dog, see your vet as soon as possible!

And if you go window shopping at a local kennel or shelter, please don’t get grumpy if the staff asks you, “Please don’t touch the dogs.”

Canine Decompression: What It Is and Why It’s Important

As of this writing (Sept 15,2019) my wife and I have fostered 95 dogs. Some were here for only a week, some for nearly a year.  Of those 95 dogs there have been 12 to 15 people who contacted me wanting to know why the dog they got from me is not behaving as advertised: getting aggressive, peeing in the house, and generally acting out.  Of the cases where I was able to ask questions of them – and got honest answers – I found that this family almost always did just what they should not do with a new dog.  This is to toss the new dog into the midst of the family and proceed to lavish love and permissiveness on them, thinking that this will make the dog feel welcomed and loved, so it will (of course) show it’s love for them by being well behaved and obedient. This almost never works.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Dogs are not short, furry people who walk on all fours.  Their psychology differs from ours in several key ways.
  • Entering a new home with new people and new dog siblings can be a scary proposition.  Your new family member needs a little time to get his bearings.
  • If arrival at your place was preceded by a many-hours-long rescue ride, she will probably be quite stressed and maybe a little nauseated.
  • Once she is settled, he will need to decide where he fits into the social order of your home.  It’s up to you to help him do that.

What Is Decompression?

Decompression is a combination of acclimatization and recovery. An uncomfortable experience: a rescue run or incarceration in a shelter, will take a little time to get over. Recovery refers more to physical well being.  It is a necessary step in helping your new family member (adopted or foster) settle successfully into your home.

How Is Decompression Done?

I strongly recommend using a crate in a quiet part of your home.  Not in isolation – unless that turns out to be needed, just not in the center of your traffic flow.

Some people view crating a dog as cruelty.  When done properly it is not.  When done properly a dog will view his crate as his “room”, his personal space and a safe place to go when he’s feeling stressed.  A crate should never be used as punishment.

By crating the newcomer, you can safely introduce the rest of your pack (four-legged and two legged) with reduced discomfort for the new dog and in perfect safety for you.

Make the crate as comfortable as possible with a cushion or blankets, add a couple of toys, and a bowl of water.  Make sure the crate is located for easy access to an exterior door for regular walking. And check on the newbie often, preferably not en masse. Do this gently and softly.  If she wants to come out and cuddle with you, fine.  If not, then sit on the floor a short distance away and talk to her.

Feed him in his crate to start with. He will feel safer in there.  Have ONE person do the feedings for the first week or so.  This helps to establish who the top dog is, even if it’s a person.  Whoever is going to be responsible for this dog needs to do these initial feedings, and needs to spend the most time with him.

Once you know all the other family pets will be tolerant of the newbie, she may come out to explore the house under supervision.

Like people, dogs have differing personalities.  How much time it takes to fit into a new home will vary from dog to dog, but generally speaking, give it at least a couple of days – longer if the new dog seems nervous or frightened.  The former home may have had dogs, cats, and children just like your home, but they were different dogs, cats, and children.  And a different home.  It’s a different lay-out, different smells and sounds.  Everything here is new to this dog.  Give her time to adjust and accept the changes.

The Worst Things You Can Do

Sudden Immersion Do not toss the new dog into the middle of your family without decompression time.  Imagine if you were abducted from your life, everyone you know and care about, and suddenly found yourself among strangers in a strange place who act as though you should be just fine with it all.  Even in a shelter, dogs form bonds with their caretakers.  They know the dogs in the kennels near them. They know the smells and sounds of the place, they may not like it, but it’s what they know.  Being swept away to a new life, even a life of luxury, is change and change takes time to adjust to.

Mobbed by Clowns  Keep initial “getting to know you” sessions short and positive.  Limit the number of visitors (human and otherwise).  Mobbing the newcomer, especially if you’re all giggling and squealing with delight, will most likely be frightening.

Alone and Ignored  On the other hand being lonely and ignored is counter productive.

Reward Bad Behavior  If you rush in and release the dog every time she paws on the crate door or cries, you are teaching her that these bad behaviors are the means to freedom.  If you think it likely that she needs to go out to potty, get her to calm down before you open the door.  Reward the good behavior.

Let Him Make the Rules  If you allow the new dog to set his own boundaries you are telling him that he is the boss and you are subservient.  That is a horrible idea, for this will lead to aggressive behavior as he tries to fill the roll of pack leader that you set up for him.  Establish your house pet rules then stick to them. Everyone in the house needs to adhere to the same rules.  If Dad says “No dogs on the sofa” but Mom lets the dog sit with her while dad is gone, she’s confusing the dog and setting him up for failure.  Your dog will be only as reliable as you are consistent with his training.

Award Unearned Privilege  You will not bribe a dog into good behavior by offering treats or privilege.  That’s one of the differences between dogs and people.  Provide your dog with treats and privilege only as it is earned through the choices they make.  When good choices yield a good thing (treat or privilege), good behavior is reinforced.  When bad behavior results in the same rewards, bad behavior is reinforced.


Give your new house guest a safe, comfortable place to stay while she adapts to her new environment.  Be patient, let her progress at her speed.  Reward only good behavior.  Be her new pack leader.  Do this and you will have a rewarding relationship with your new dog.

Want to help
save lives?

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Why Foster Care?

Animal shelters and rescue programs desperately need the help of people who will provide in-home foster care for some of their animals.

What Is Animal Foster Care?

Foster Care saves lives
Belle – July 3013

Animal foster care is similar to human foster care in that you provide a loving, safe, temporary environment for animals in need. Programs vary from facility to facility, but generally The Shelter/Rescue provides the food and medications; you supply the place and the love.

Why Animal Foster Care?

Shelters and rescues need foster homes for several reasons:


Piney Mountain Foster Care is now registered with Amazon Smile.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a program runs where it lets its shoppers decide where it will give their corporate charity donations.  To use it you go to and choose the charity you want to support.  To select PMFC, use this window:

and type in “Piney Mountain Foster Care” in the “Charity name or location” window.
Click/tap the [Search] button and it will pull up Piney Mountain Foster Care, Inc.

Once you’ve selected it, all Smile purchases will have 0.5% of the order total sent to PMFC.  I should point out that this money comes off AMAZON’S profit, it is not added to your total.  They do not inflate prices for Smile shoppers (I’ve tested this).  Amazon is simply letting you tell them where to donate the money they have already decided to give to charity.

The catch is that to make it work you need to enter through the Smile portal ( for your purchases to count.  I make this easy by saving this site to a tab on my browser navigation bar.  Click that link and I’m in and ready to shop.

Once you’ve used it a time or two will ask you, “Wouldn’t you rather be using the Smile portal?” and switch you over if you say “yes”.  But you have to get it right on your own a couple of times first.

The really cool thing is that you can support PMFC (or any other registered charity) just by shopping for things you were going to buy anyway!  It’s not just certain items, or at certain times: it’s everything, always.

So, if you use, please support PMFC each time you shop by using the Smile program.  And tell your friends!  Half a percent may not be a lot of money on a single purchase, but if a gang of folks are doing it regularly it adds up.  And we will gladly accept all the help we can get!

Want to help
save lives?

PMFC is a 501(c)(3) Charity
If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices. [email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]

Dog Bath Day: When and How to Wash Dogs

Originally published on Apr 16, 2014

dog bath time
If only it were this easy!

This was supposed to have been MEGA DOG BATH DAY here at Piney Mountain Foster Care. What I mean is that all 5 dogs, ranging from 50 pounds to 85 pounds, would be getting a trip through The Dog Wash. That being the bathtub I left in place when I converted the mobile home we once lived in into my workshop and office and now kennels. Having their own tub saves a lot of wear and tear on our bathroom at home.

But, it has turned chilly today (high 40’s) rainy (been raining steadily since 10:00 last night) and now becoming quite windy. It doesn’t seem fair to give them all baths on a day they won’t dry out. Maybe tomorrow – then I can include Smokey (due to arrive tomorrow) and have the whole crowd done and ready to receive their flea and tick treatments for the month.

And if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’ll be because I’ve strained every muscle in my body wrestling these dogs into the tub: it is amazing the way they can manipulate gravity at the sight of a bathtub! Cochise and Blondie can easily dial up their 85 pounds to what feels like 200!

Canine Heartworm Disease Cause and Treatment

Originally published on: Apr 25, 2014

The Dogtor is in

Heartworm disease is a serious and eventually fatal condition caused by parasitic nematode (roundworm) living in the arteries of the lungs and the right side of the heart. Dogs are considered the primary host for heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis), however heartworms may infect more than 30 species of animals including coyotes, foxes, wolves and other wild canids, domestic cats and wild felids, ferrets, sea lions, etc. They can infect humans as well, although this is rare. Cases of canine heartworm disease have been reported in all 50 states, but are particularly endemic in the south and east portions of the USA from Texas to North Carolina.

What Causes Heartworm Disease?

mosquitos carry heartworm diseaseHeartworm disease is spread by infected mosquitos. A mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected animal and takes in blood containing the heartworm pre-larvae or microfilariae, pronounced: micro-fil-ar-ee-a. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. These small, hair-like organisms can then be transmitted to other dogs by the same mosquito. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult heartworms. The mature worms then breed and release more microfilariae which can be transferred to other dogs via new mosquito bites. Those that remain develop, mature, breed and produce more new worms. These adult worms take up residence in the arteries of the heart and lungs, interfering with the operation of heart valves and blood flow through the lungs.

Lyme Disease and Your Dog

Originally published May 2, 2014

The Dogtor is in

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete: a type of bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to dogs by a tick. The most common type of tick to carry Lyme disease is the Deer Tick. Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body but tends to localize in the joints.

Lyme disease affects both dogs and people, but people cannot get it directly from a dog. The disease is transmitted by ticks, therefore preventing tick bites is important for your health and that of your dog.

Clinical Signs of Lyme Disease

lyme disease rashHumans with Lyme disease develop a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash around the bite in three to thirty days. This makes the disease easy to diagnose at an early stage. Lyme disease is more difficult to detect in animals. Dogs and cats do not develop this characteristic rash. Other symptoms may be delayed or go unrecognized because the symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases. Lyme disease in animals is often not even considered until other diseases have been eliminated.

National Mutt Day

Cochise OWNS the sunshine on National Mutt Day
Cochise is proud to be a mutt

Celebrate National Mutt Day in the USA on July 31 and December 2. This is a fun celebration of mixed breed dogs. Created in 2005 by celebrity pet and family life expert, Colleen Paige, National Mutt Day brings awareness to the plight of mixed breed dogs in shelters around the country and encourages people to adopt shelter dogs rather than buy “designer dogs” from puppy mills.

Did you know that mixed breed dogs: