Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monthly Expenses: November 2012

This is a long overdue post... Let's get it out of the way before this month is over.

November 2012
  • Food: $96
  • Treats & Chews: $14
  • Accessories: $11
TOTAL: $121
YTD TOTAL: $6,240


I found a good deal online for a 10 lb. box of the Honest Kitchen Zeal with yet another one of those "for first time customers only" discounts. Let's see if I'll ever run out of new online retailers to try.

Treats & Chews

I got another bag of "Sam's Yams Veggie Rawhide". Even though last time I was complaining that it's not long lasting enough, but it's still the best we can find so far if we want to stay way from beef.


Since I like Maya's Boomerang Tag so much, I decided to get her another one for her collar. This time I got the double-thick type so it's thick enough to fit on her leather collar. However, it ended up a bit too loose and would fall off when I unbuckle the collar. Despite that, I still like it a lot better than the tags that jingles on her neck.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This is the Chinese version of my previous post: Our Journey from Taiwan with 13 Dogs.
I hope this can help spread the words among the Taiwanese dog communities and reach some potential volunteers.

12/11 這天,我與男朋友在回台灣渡假兩星期後,










10 小時後,飛機降落到舊金山,等我們排隊過了移民官,






如果有興趣幫忙,可以和 Mary 聯絡,他們隨時都有狗狗需要運送。
Mary 的 Email:
Facebook Page: (Help Dogs Get Adopted)

延伸閱讀:另一位網友帶狗回舊金山的經驗,雙寶之屋 (One transport, nine dogs, 6500+ miles)

Our Journey from Taiwan with 13 Dogs

On December 11th, we had the most memorable flight of our lifetime. We brought back 13 dogs (in 10 crates) from Taiwan to their forever homes in the US with us across the Pacific Ocean.

It all started with a post by the House of Two Bows of M.C.'s journey back to the Bay Area with 9 dogs. Before reading her post, I didn't even know there's a need for this kind of volunteers. I kept the idea in mind, and contacted AHAN as soon as we booked our tickets. AHAN then forwarded our information to a lady in Taiwan, Mary, and I've been exchanging emails with her since then.

At first, I thought there will be like one or two dogs, but then she told me there will be 10, then it increased to 20 something! However, when we got to the airport, we were told that our airline, EVA, wouldn't allow that many. Luckily there's another volunteer traveling with China Airlines the same night, and would be taking the remaining dogs. Since EVA charges more for transporting dogs, we were afraid that we would be adding extra burden, but it actually turned out nicely. As neither airline would be able to take all the dogs, having volunteers on both made it possible to accommodate for all. No dogs were left behind!

The entire trip went pretty smoothly. We showed up at the airport around 8:00pm, 3.5 hours before our flight took off, and waited for all the dogs to gather in the lobby. The airline weighted and sealed up each and every crate, which took about two hours. Then we sent them off to x-ray and into the tunnel. I was really afraid that the foster parents may start crying as they waved goodbye, but they kept it light spirited. From then on, it's out of our hands. I did check with the flight attendant before boarding the plane, and she ensured us all dogs are all safely on board.

Dogs and their foster parents showing up at Taipei airport.

Dressed up for the long flight.

Oops! Potty accident!

Puppies from the same litter.

Anxious but calm.

Foster parents saying goodbye as the dogs go through x-ray.

The crates that went to the other airline were standing by after us.

At the other end of the globe, the crates were already waiting for us when we got through the immigration line. Because there were too many crates for us to handle ourselves, we had to hire some porters from the airport to help us. The volunteers in Taiwan had already prepared for it and had given us some money to pay as tips. Well, the only bad experience of the entire trip came from these porters. They bargained for more money on top of what was already a pretty generous tip. We ended up paying a few extra dollars out of our own pocket just to get things moving and be sure they wouldn't mistreat the dogs. I'm totally fine with help paying some of the expenses, but along the way, there were many people that deserve that money more than them. For the amount of money they made with that little time they spent, it just seems greedy. Next time, I'll know to start with a much lower price and let them talk their way up. I'll also be more specific of the number of porters I need, instead of letting them all gather up on their own.

All the crates waiting for us in the baggage area.

After a bit of hassle going through Customs (mostly because we brought food ourselves, nothing to do with the dogs), we finally got to the lobby of San Francisco Airport. A local volunteer came to meet with us and took over from there on. We actually arrived a bit earlier than expected, but there were many new families already waiting desperately for their new members. As the crates left one by one, we felt a little bit empty inside. (So we rushed back to pick up Maya!)

In SFO lobby waiting for the new families.

A family brought their dog to meet his new family member.

Before the trip, I though we will be dealing with a rescue organization, but to our surprise, all the volunteers were actually individuals who adopted or captured the dogs, nursed them back to health, and paid for all the bills on their own. For each dog, they would probably need to spend more than $500 for vet bills, spay/neuter, government documents, a crate, and oversea transportation. It may not sound much from the US standard, but do note that the average salary for a fresh college graduate is around $750 per month. Besides, after spending so much time, effort and money, they may never see or even heard from the dog ever again. They did it all in the faith that the dogs will find a better life here in the US. It was shocking for me to learn that none of rehoming fees from the dogs' new families ever get back to the foster parents. Even though I understand the local rescue here needs the money they collected to run the organization as well, I do hope the foster parents can somehow be compensated, so they can have more resource to help more dogs. We felt humbled when they thanked us for transporting the dogs, cause we knew we really did nothing comparing to their devotion.

All in all, it has been a great journey and we will definitely do it again in the future. Wish each and every dog a wonderful new life!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We're back! Our Asia trip was awesome, but it's great to be back home with Maya. Thanks to Tachi's parents who took great care of here and kept us updated with lots of pictures.

Maya even got a chance to meet Tachi's guinea pig sister, Sam. According to Tachi's mom, "She was excited at first but once she got used to the gp, Maya was very respectful of gp's space". Whew...

I'll post more about our trip later. Meanwhile, please enjoy some nice shots of the girls.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ready for Vacation!

Yesterday was Tachi's last day at our house. Overall, it's been a great experience. The girls get alone really well and had spent most of the time together during the two weeks. (For more photos of Tachi and Maya, please see Maya's Facebook album.)

The house feels a lot emptier with one less dog, and we all miss her dearly. But don't worry, because we are meeting her again tomorrow! This time, Maya will be staying at Tachi's for another TWO WEEKS while we travel to Asia. 

This is our first time leaving her at a friend's place instead of a doggie daycare, as well as leaving her for such a long time. Since Tachi behaved so well at our house, it actually made us more nervous whether Maya will be a good girl or not. 

I gave her a bath today, in hope that all the loose hair had came out and that she'll have less fur to spread around. I also pre-mixed her supplements in her dehydrated pet food to make it a bit easier to prepare her meals. So far, she's the only one done packing and ready to go!

Maya's personal grooming station

Ready to go!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tachi's in the House

Maya's Shiba Inu friend, Tachi, is staying with us again. This time for two whole weeks while her owners travel to Japan. So far (18 hours in), they have been doing great together! 

They were both super excited to see each other when Maya and I went downstairs to meet Tachi and her mommy. After taking them on a short walk around the neighborhood, we headed inside together and they've been wrestling through the entire evening.

This would be a great test for us to see whether we are prepared for having two (well-behaved) dogs. One thing I know I really need to work on, is having better control of two leashes. I found myself tangled up quite often, especially when picking up poop, as they both have the habit of running away from their own mess. I almost spilled poop on myself this morning...

Taking a break after 500 rounds of wrestling

Exhausted after another 500 rounds

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life is Good Without a Cone

It's been a while since my last update on Maya's allergies. Overall, she's been doing better and her wounds have been healing. However, the itchiness never really went away, and a few areas on her muzzle still remain bald due to her occasional scratching. She also still chews on her feet, which I really don't know whether is because of itchiness or just boredom. Here are some photos to show the improvements over the weeks:

For her diet, she's mainly on the Honest Kitchen Zeal for breakfast and some turkey or duck bone-in raw meat for dinner. I really want to switch her back to full raw, but every time I give her raw beef, she seems to get itchier in the following days. It would really suck if she's allergic to beef, since I have a whole freezer full of beef organs, tripe and meat. It'll also be hard to find the variety, if we want to stay away from both beef and chicken.

Enjoying a cone-free nap

Maya also seems to do better when we avoid our local park, which sucks as well. No walks in the park means she'll have to go potty in other people's yards or in front of office buildings. I had some bad experience being scolded by neighbors when Maya was a puppy, so it aways makes me a bit uncomfortable when Maya goes potty. (It was my fault for lingering at the same house for too long, but Maya didn't know how to walk on a leash back then.) I try not to stay on the same property for more than a few seconds and keep Maya on the grass areas between the street and the sidewalk, instead of the actual lawn. I would also walk away as soon as I see anyone. Sigh, walks shouldn't be this sneaky and stressful.

I'm also considering a new allergy treatment called "NAET", which I've been reading up on for a while. It sounds like voodoo at first, but the philosophy behind it kind of makes sense. I found a holistic vet in the area that does this type of treatment and had been exchanging emails with her. Since she only does house visits and we are slightly out of her service zone, I may have to met her at a friend's house. It will be expensive, so I really wish this will work...  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Monthly Expenses: October 2012

October 2012
  • Food: $5
  • Treats & Chews: $8
  • Vet & Medical: $16
  • Grooming: $45
TOTAL: $74
YTD TOTAL: $6,119


Since we have a lot stocked up, we didn't spend much on food this month. Maya got some duck wings, a can of sardine, and some plain yogurt.

Treats & Chews

I got Maya two bags of "Veggie Rawhide" made with sweet potato because almost all her chews were made of beef, which we were limiting her access to. I was hoping it's as long lasting as a real rawhide or at least last a few minutes like a bully stick, but sadly it wouldn't even last a minute. Nevertheless, it's still very tasty and Maya loves it.

Vet & Medical

Even though we stopped giving Maya Claritin, we still want to keep a bottle in hand in cases like the failed hiking trip. I found a bottle in the drug store with a $4 coupon attached to it, and was lucky to be able to use it right away.


We told ourselves its the last time to go to the self service pet wash when we used up our last package, since it's kind of expensive. Well, Maya started to shed like crazy and we couldn't agree on who's turn to give her at bath, so we ended up getting another "buy 3 get 1 free" deal. Sometimes spending an extra few dollars can save us from a clogged drain and lots of arguments...

Gangnam style?


I came close to get Maya a Giants bandanna, but the only one left in the store was too small. Good thing that the Giants are in orange and black, so Maya wore her Halloween t-shirt to celebrate both the holiday and Giants' victory! $10 saved.

Cheering when Posey made the grand slam

Happy Halloween and Go Giants!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Time

It's that time of the year again when pumpkins are everywhere! For the first time ever, I got our family an orange one and a green one (buttercup squash?). 

For Maya's treats, I cut the squash in half and steamed till it's soft, then cut it into pieces and baked at low temperature till it's dry. As for the humans, after steaming and cutting, I boiled it in some water mixed with salt and suger for a few minutes, then remove the water and let it cool off. Everyone in the family loved it!

Yummy homemade treats

Planning to carve it, but don't have the tools

Speaking of pumpkins, one of Maya's favoriate toy is a pumpkin man given to Maya by a friend two years ago. It didn't take long for Maya to chew off his face, but other than that, he's still thriving.

Mr. Pumpkin two years ago

Faceless Mr. Pumpkin today

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hiking Fail

It's been a while since we took Maya out for a hike due to her allergies. Since the weather was so nice, we decided to go for a walk on the weekend before last. Well, it turned out to be a bad idea...

As a precaution, we gave Maya a Claritin pill and applied some home-made flea repellent before heading out. Even though the trail allows off-leash dogs, we kept her leashed so she stayed on the track and out of the tall grass. About half way through, not sure whether it's the pollen, dust, or insects, both humans started to feel super itchy. We turned back right away, but it was too late. For the next week or so, Maya was itchy again...

Sigh, I guess no more hiking for a long while.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monthly Expenses: September 2012

September 2012
  • Food: $39
  • Treats & Chews: $10
  • Vet & Medical: $156
  • Accessories: $40
TOTAL: $245
YTD TOTAL: $6,045


We got a 4 lb. box of the Honest Kitchen Zeal. It's the most expensive flavor from their product line, but I want to get something that doesn't have chicken, beef, or grains, and was left with not that many options. Thanks to the discount code from the House of Two Bows, I got a pretty good deal, but also kind of regret not getting a bigger box.

Treats & Chews

We got a pack of the Honest Kitchen Wishes, which is a bit disappointing. Maya loves the taste, but its a bit overpriced and crumbles too easily. I might try out Salmon Ears next time once we finish this box. Besides Wishes, she also got two Merrick Sausage Dog Treats, which I haven't let her try out yet.

Vet & Medical

Yay for no vet bills this month! We did have to get a new bottle of Claritin, but hopefully we can wean her off of it soon as well.

We've also decided to switch to Comfortis (chewable tablet) for flea prevention, because we've been bathing Maya almost every week and using a topical medication makes it less flexible. Since Comfortis requires a prescription, we took Maya to a weekend vaccine clinic to make the purchase and saved ourselves an office visit at the vet. Even though we were advised to give her one tablet per month, I'm planning to give her only half. She's only 20.4 lb. and the one we got is for 20.1-40 lb. (580mg), which is more than twice the dosage of the 10.1-20 lb. (270mg) tablets. We paid $156 for 12 month supply, but I was able to find a $20 rebate online. If the 12 tablets (expires in May 2015) can last 2 years, it'll be about $5.67 per month, which is less than using Frontline Plus.


Maya got a new harness and a new name tag. So far we are really satisfied with the purchase.