Monday, April 15, 2013

Blog the Change: Project Perry

While Penny is the inspiration for this blog, she does share her life with parrot siblings. These parrots have been with me for over a decade now, and are every bit as interesting, cuddly, loving, and quirky as our furry friends.

Scout, 6 years old, my cuddle bug.

During the last Blog the Change for Animals blog hop, NEPA Pets contributed a great read on parrots. If you're considering adding one to your life, I recommend taking a trip over and reading that entry.

This quarter, I'd like to highlight Project Perry. Founded in 2006, Project Perry is a peaceful sanctuary for parrots in the woods and hills of Central Virginia. Having gone to college in a nearby town, I can attest to the area's quiet and suitability for abandoned and abused parrots.

Project Perry is unique even among bird rescues. Here is a blurb from their Facebook page:

Our mission is to provide a safe place for these birds to go when no other options are available. New arrivals are carefully quarantined and evaluated with an effort to adopt them out to a loving forever home. Birds that are not suitable for adoption are given the opportunity to remain here at the sanctuary in a cage-free flighted environment with others of their kind. The Sanctuary also offers a Lifetime of Care program.

You see, they don't JUST take in abandoned parrots to rehabilitate and rehome. Project Perry is very much about letting birds be birds, which is something even the most well-intentioned parrot guardians can forget. Since it was founded, the organization has created a few aviaries on their 15-acres--aviaries custom built for a various groups of parrots and other birds, complete with appropriate enrichment toys and foraging opportunities. The birds remain flighted, and, when the weather is right, are able to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. While some birds are adopted out to qualified volunteers, most are able to stay and enjoy the sanctuary as their forever homes. "Forever" is a key word in a parrot's life, as they many times outlive their human companions. This is especially important to those at Project Perry; they have even created a Lifetime of Care program that not only covers the parrots of the sanctuary, but can include your bird, too.

Bartok, 10 years, incredible to see in flight when he's not
busy being a roly-poly little peanut man.

Project Perry has recently completed an aviary for conures and quaker parrots, and is in the process of raising money to build another African Grey aviary. Be sure to watch the engaging video and read more about the campaign here. This week, a supporter of the organization will match all donations up to $1,000, so please consider taking this opportunity to donate! If you are unable to right now, you can also sponsor a bird later on.

If you are in the area, you can volunteer or arrange a visit. Matt Smith, the founder, is nothing short of a perfectionist--you will see it in the work, details, and care the sanctuary residents receive.

Project Perry
Indiegogo Campaign for a new African Grey Aviary:
Donate to the Indiegogo campaign this week and your donation, up to $1,000 will be matched!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Checking in...

Hello everyone! You may have noticed that it's been quiet over here. I've been having some computer issues that will hopefully be resolved by the end of the week. Penny and I are looking forward to sharing new entries with you, one of which includes 5 week old lab puppies!

Until then,

Nikki & Penny

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Update on Eating

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for your encouragement, personal stories and advice on my post about Penny's eating woes. I'm finding that the pet blogging community is filled with some of the kindest and most helpful people!

Not too long after the post, Penny began separating the Canine Caviar kibble pieces from the wet food, which was no small feat because the wet food crumbled into many tiny pieces that clung to the kibble like nothing else. If you are familiar with Canine Caviar, you know the wet food is basically pure meat and is only recommended in small amounts with the dry food, as it does not have the extra nutritional elements the kibble was formulated to contain.

(Did I mention that the only two flavors of wet food Penny would eat out of the three that were available to us [Turkey, Venison, Duck--there was no Beaver at our local store] were the Venison and Duck meals? She would literally turn her nose up at the Turkey version. Looks like someone's forgotten about her humble beginnings, hee hee hee.)

John finally broke and brought home a 5-lb. bag of Acana Pacifica as Penny is a huge lover of fish. The one and only time she's ever tried to snatch food out of my hand was when I was eating a dried, salted, extremely pungent fish from Thailand. This stuff is STRONG--my sister called it "elephant butt hair" fish when we were younger--but I love it. Penny went wild-eyed nuts over it, so we thought a fish-based kibble might be the way to go.

We actually wanted to get Acana Pacifica when we were testing out foods a few weeks ago, but the shop owner didn't seem to believe in it so we passed. We didn't even have to open the bag before Penny was sniffing it with the same whites-of-the-eyes showing enthusiasm she showed me with my dried fish. Since I had heard that some dogs had a hard time digesting Acana because of its richness and the formula change they made over the summer, we transitioned very slowly. The suggested transition time is 5-7 days, but we went for 10 at the suggestion of Dog Forum members.

Penny's now been on the Acana for a few weeks, and seems very happy eating it. We're going to cycle through all of the Acana Regional diets so she hopefully won't become bored again. A couple things about Acana:

1. Pacifica is quite smelly, even to the most seasoned of dried fish/fermented fish paste/fish sauce eaters.

2. You will notice, three or so weeks after starting the diet, that your dog suddenly has more energy. Not hyperactive energy, but good energy.

A note on #2: I always took the Orijen/Acana lovers statements of their dogs having more energy with a grain of salt. In our case at least, it's been true: Penny just has more of an "up and at 'em!" attitude about everything, and it's not in a bored dog/hyperactive way. So, count us in for one more shining testimonial of, "Acana gave my dog more energy!"

Do I recommend the food? Penny seems to be doing well with it, but with all that we went through, I don't think there's one magic bullet. In fact, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the new diet--hopefully it never happens. But if it does, I have so much great advice you all have given me to fall back on. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

First snow

I'm feeling better, and real content is coming again in the next couple of days! In the meantime, enjoy this video of Penny playing in the first snow (and her very first snow!) of the season on Wednesday. I think she likes it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sick as a dog...

Hello! Penny here. It's been quiet over here because mom hasn't been feeling well. Don't worry--I've had it under control, making sure to keep mom's feet warm while I contemplate life over a bully stick, and snuggling with her while she naps. Dad took a photo of us together this morning. I didn't want to leave mom's side, so he gave me breakfast in bed. Hey, if she gets it then I should too, right? Caretaking is hard work!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog the Change: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue

While going through my Google Reader feed last night, I came across Dakota's Den's Blog the Change  entry. Intrigued, I found out that the blogging event happens quarterly, with the first happening today! One of the purposes of this blog is to raise awareness for dog issues and rescues, so I couldn't imagine a more perfect event to participate in.

It wasn't hard to think of what cause I wanted to blog about. Big Fluffy Dog Rescue (BFDR) came to mind for a couple reasons: they are very active and do amazing work, and Penny is a big fluffy dog herself! BFDR focuses on rescuing large and giant (and hairy) breeds like Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Saint Bernards and all their crosses, though they occasionally get the "pocket" pup of 40 or so pounds.

Big Fluffy Dog bonus: They are fantastic footwarmers in the winter!

I first came across BFDR on Facebook, while looking at Pyr rescues. As you well know, Penny is 50% Pyr, so I've cultivated quite a fondness for the breed. If you look at BFDR's adoption list, you will see quite a few purebred Pyrs as well as Pyr mixes (and what they call "Pyre-nots", dogs who look deceptively like Great Pyrenees mixes), so I found myself visiting their site daily. 

Part of BFDR's magic is that they truly embrace social media. With the help of weekly transports and dedicated volunteers, BFDR is able to operate over a wide region on the East Coast, spanning from Maine to Virginia (and lately, including Tennessee). BFDR also runs a Southern Dog Connection, a program that brings dogs from the south to more adoptable regions in New England. This cause is very near and dear to my heart. I went to school in Louisiana for two years and can't even count the number of stray dogs and cats I would see roaming around the city. To know that there are programs like this gives me some hope for all of those skinny, haggard mama dogs I saw looking for food. 

What blows me away is how the administrators are able to communicate in a grateful, thoughtful way while maintaining a sense of humor. I've volunteered at an animal shelter in the past, and have friends in the rescue and foster community. It gets rough out there. REALLY rough. How an animal is found, the abuse endured, the shocking reasons people surrender their companion animals--it really wears you down. To handle all of that, AND to answer questions asked multiple times over the period of a few hours positively, well, that just takes some really special people!

Recently, there was a litter of five pups surrendered to BFDR. They came to the rescue orphaned under the very worst of reasons. Not only did BFDR fundraise and find foster homes at breakneck speeds, they kept those who had been following the story in the loop with daily (or near-daily) updates. I really don't know how they do it.

Rudy, a male Lab/Pyr mix in need of a home. (Photo credit:

Please consider fostering, adopting, or donating to Big Fluffy Dog Rescue.  Visit and follow BFDR at:

Blog the Change

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy birthday, Penny!!

Penny turns 1 today! We actually don't know when she was born, but set January 14 as her birth date based on the estimated age she was when we got her.

We have a few things planned: a couple little gifts, birthday pig ear, and of course, Puppy Cake from last month's well-timed BarkBox! She already got a small KONG filled with a little cheese this morning.

I'll post a full birthday recap tomorrow. For now, happy birthday, Penny!