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March 25, 2014

March is Nutrition Awareness Month, A Sweet Story with the Best Ending Possible!


Just to let you know how brave I am to blog about dog diets. I say that because there are endless ‘expert’ opinions and thoughts about what is right for your dog.   We have quite a bit of food expertise, so the easy answer is; check with Stephanie or Nikki, Vanessa, Alex or Stasia,  and they will give you some of the best suggestions on the planet.  Just describe your dog, type, age, weight, allergies and what you feed now, and they will direct you to one of the carefully chosen brands we have available.

For the blog,  I will broaden the topic, to include the entire dog food world, and describe healthy criteria, and what is just plain bad.  I am actually jealous of your dogs, most of whom have options when it comes to their diets. I have rotating food allergies, (just made up that title) which means I am allergic to most foods, and each time I find a safe protein, I become allergic to it at some point.

I can say, 100%, no exceptions, don’t eat anything with any part made in China, The dog food recalls in 2013 were over the top- more than ever before, mostly due to toxic Chinese ingredients and manufacturers.


Later, Ernestine

How to Choose a Healthy Dog Food

Dogster Magazine

‘The choices in dog food can be overwhelming. There’s food for small and large dogs, thin dogs and fat dogs, couch potatoes and active dogs, and even food specific to a breed. But, if you want to insure the best nutrition for your dog, choosing dog food from the array of healthy foods available is the best course.

But what does “healthy” dog food mean? It’s a food that contains a dog’s basic nutrition needs, a good source of protein, and adequate fat, fiber and moisture – and then some (see “Up the Ante” below).

To start with, any dog food must meet the safety regulations of the FDA. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) defines what goes on dog food labels but some feel this is inadequate considering that the AAFCO is not governed and includes people in the pet food industry who benefit from certain guidelines. So, we as dog owners are left largely to ourselves to find a safe and healthy food for our dog.

The Basics

An average dog should have a diet that is 50% vegetable, 40% meat and 10% grain. Grown dogs need a minimum of 18% protein on a dry matter basis, whereas puppies require at least 22%. All dogs also require some fat, amount dependent on their level of activity. Dogs also need approximately 4% of their diets to be fiber. These are all, again, on average. In doing a dog food comparison, it is best to start with the labels.

Deciphering Dog Food Labels

Dog Food Ingredients: A good way to determine the quality of a food is the ingredient list. With a little practice, you can find a food that does not have unwanted products and is highly digestible. The ingredients are listed in order by weight.

One trick some manufacturers use is to break an ingredient into several different smaller ingredients and list them separately. For example, the ingredients might include chicken (first), ground corn, corn gluten, and corn bran (further down). You might think chicken is the main ingredient but, grouping the corn ingredients together, they would likely greatly outweigh the amount of chicken.

Guaranteed Analysis

The following must be included on dog food labels:

  • Minimum crude protein
  • Minimum crude fat
  • Maximum crude fiber
  • Maximum moisture

Note: “Crude” does not take into account digestibility or the source. The source could be human-grade beef or chicken feathers.

Some Tricks of Your Own

  • Look for the first source of fat named on the label, to determine the main ingredients. For example, if chicken fat is listed seventh, the ingredients prior to that are the major ingredients. Those after are secondary.
  • Watch out for the names and description on the package of dog food. For instance, a product called “Doggy Dinner with Liver Flavoring” might have only a small amount of flavoring since a certain percentage is not required.
  • Calculating the “real” amount of each guaranteed analysis can tricky. Manufacturers can be deceptive, using high quality ingredients that contain a lot of water and therefore save them money. For more information on calculations, visit the FDA website.

Up the Ante

Luckily, healthy dog foods are easy to find today. Or, you can try making your own food with healthy dog food recipes. If you choose to do this, consult with your vet and do some research. There is a lot of information online and in books such as “The Whole Pet Diet.” Some things to consider for buying or making are:

  • Look for natural and/or organic ingredients. A dog food package with “Natural” stamped on it means nothing – there are no regulations in place to define this. So sifting through the ingredients is vital.
  • Avoid corn, cornmeal, soy and wheat. These are difficult for dogs to digest and can cause allergies.
  • Instead, choose your grains from barley, rolled oats, millet, quinoa, and brown rice.
  • Depending on your dog’s ability to digest, check the digestibility of the protein source. For instance, fish is more digestible than muscle and organ meats.
  • Check digestibility of the carbohydrate source. Rice is at the top, followed by, in part, oats and yeast.
  • Avoid animal-by-products which may contain heads, feet, and other animal parts.
  • Avoid preservatives and additives – they have been shown to cause health problems in dogs.
  • Look for Vitamin E and C; they are natural, healthful preservatives.
  • Look for Omega-3; it is good for your dog’s coat.
  • Some dog owners prefer to look for “human-grade” food in their dog food. This simply means the food is purchased from human-grade food facilities.

A Holistic Approach

Healthy nutrition is the foundation but don’t forget the other elements of a healthy canine lifestyle: exercise, medical check-ups, alternative medicine such as Acupuncture, dental hygiene, and grooming. Manage all of these and you will have one happy, healthy dog.’


 A Story for the Heart…

Our wonderful overnight manager, Kim, received an email last week from a woman she has known for years. It read;

‘Allie is in need of a rescue or to find her forever home! Her owner passed away over the weekend and is currently living by herself in her apartment. She has less than 2 weeks until she will be sent to a shelter. Allie is a super nice, loving 13 year old female white boxer. Three very sweet older women who live in the building, have been taking her out and feeding her. Can you help? Please contact me.”

Allysitup     Alliewstepmoms

Kim was right on it. First, she had to figure out who legally owned Allie, in order to complete the surrender papers.  Next, she contacted Paws New England, a rescue org. she has worked with, who are trustworthy and do a great job finding foster and forever homes.  One day later Allie was on her way to be fostered.

Initially, Allie was confused about leaving her home– but we all know the outcome is a bizillion times better than ending up in a shelter.

Sigh, beautiful.

Thanks, Kim and Katie!



March 17, 2014

Celebrate 10 Years With Us! We Miss You, Enzo! 10% Off All Supplements- How They Help Our Dogs

Ernie’s Edition

It’s almost time for my annual birthday party. Every April we get together to celebrate ME at Crate Escape too.  This year will be extra special!  In honor of Crate Escape’s 10th Anniversary the party is going to be amazing. My Mom and Dad (Bradley & Stephanie Hastings, Crate Escape Owners) really want you to come so they can thank you for your business and meet the people who trust their dogs to our care.

SAVE THE DATE:  April 19th   Time:  4:00pm
This is a People Party!


Throughout 2014, we are featuring some of the dogs who were the first to go to our daycare. This month we present;  ENZO!  Such a pleasure to talk about him, think about him and write about him! Our little Italian Greyhound. 


In March we are giving 10% off of our dietary supplements, and $10 off of large bags of dog food. In this blog, I describe what supplements are for and the health they can provide.

First Day of Spring!!  April 20th!!


Later, Ernestine


Da, da da!! It’s Enzo!

by Stephanie Hastings

Enzo was the first Italian Greyhound we ever met and so he was special from the start. He and his owners,Tracy and Dan, came in one afternoon to see the facility and do an evaluation for daycare. They left for lunch and we proceeded with the temperament test. To our surprise, Enzo proved to be a hardy little guy with a very social personality. You see, as a breed, they can be quite delicate. But not Enzo. Afterall he was named for the  Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari automobile.  He was strong, graceful and full of fun. He attended daycare for five years until his family moved to Acton for a little more space. We miss them all very much, but know that sweet little man is doing well and is happy.That is the most important thing. Ciao bello!!!!!




Why Give Your Dog Supplements in Addition to Regular Food?

There are many reasons dog people choose to add supplements to their pup’s regular diet.  Some examples are: vitamins for better overall health, glucosamine, to strengthen joints and probiotics to aid digestion.  Basically, adding the  healthy components in the supplements,  can affect your dogs’ lives in many positive ways, and address and prevent some common ailments.

It would be great to rely on commercial dog food to fill dietary needs. Reading the ingredients in the food you choose for your dog does not guarantee healthy ingredients. The pet food industry has few regulations, and they are weak. Here is a blurb from ‘Petsumer Reports‘, March, 2014.

‘Walk into any pet store and you find hundreds of choices in a variety of price ranges.  How do you decide?

You simply cannot decide on a dog food or cat food by looking at the front of the bag or can; this is marketing, it is not the truth about what’s inside the pet food.  Actually, the front of a pet food bag is legally allowed to lie to you.  Pet food regulations state a pet food label can contain “unqualified claims, either directly or indirectly”.  Unqualified claims mean a pet food label can claim ‘Premium’ or ‘Choice Ingredients’ when the truth is far from premium or choice.

The next challenge pet owners are up against…Pet food regulations ALSO do NOT allow a pet food manufacturer to make any statements to quality or grade of ingredients on their label.  Some pet foods use the same quality of meat you’d purchase in the grocery for any other member of your family.  Problem is, these pet foods are NOT allowed to tell you this (yes, I know – it’s ridiculous; rules allow them to make unqualified claims, and the same rules don’t allow honest pet food companies to be honest).  A quality minded pet food manufacturer, who uses the same quality of meat that you would purchase in the grocery for your family is NOT allowed to tell you that.  (Per Association of American Feed Control Officials model regulations.)

Some pet foods contain chemicals and dyes linked to cancer and serious illness.  Some canned pet foods have a lining inside the can that contains BPA, a chemical scientifically linked to cancer.’

We use supplements for our dogs and recommend them to customers.  As always, no guarantees, but we are comfortable with the high percentage of success.

Listed below are some of the supplements available at Crate Escape too, and in Charlestown:

  • DentaTreat: Maintains pet’s oral health (such as removing tartar and plaque).
  • Glucosamine Concentrate:  A naturally occurring Glucosamine is a combination of amino acids and sugar. It is a naturally occurring substance in dogs, and humans, which the body uses to repair damaged cartilage. Some veterinarians believe when dogs have arthritis they do not have sufficient amounts of glucosamine to advance the repair process.
  • Grizzly Salmon Oil: Contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for almost every part of the dog from coat and skin, to joints, organ health and even brain development
  • Call of the Wild: To be used to help balance a fresh meat diet. Provides micronutrients that they would receive in the natural prey in the wild.
  • C-Biotic: Helps with dogs who refuse to eat also helps boost nutritional value of kibble.
  • Add Life: Helps restore probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals to dry kibble.
  • Pet Inoculant: Boosts immune system and digestive health using probiotics and fatty acids.
  • S.E.P: (Stop. Eating. Poop) Helps dogs with eating their own poop.
  • Multi Vitamin Mineral Supplement: This supplement contains all the vitamins and minerals your pet needs to live a healthy and active life. Contains less fiber and fat than Seameal but increased levels of protein.
  • Seameal: This supplement is a great overall boost to a dog’s food. Containing 60 trace minerals, 12 vitamins, 22 amino acids, digestive enzymes, and flaxseed meal.


March 8, 2014

Crate Escape; 10 Years! Proud to Celebrate Vanessa! How You Can Help Paws Donations!

Ernestly Ernestine

I am lovin’ this 10th year celebration! It is fun to think about all the people and dogs we have met! A very  important and delightful person  is our staff member, Vanessa Coogan.

Vanessa has been with Crate Escape since May, 2010.  Her friendly, charming personality, and her strong commitment to always doing her best, continues to be immediately obvious.  Pooches and staff alike look forward to seeing her every day.

I asked her some questions about her life and her time at Crate.  (My first interview!) Her responses are below.


Later,  Ernestine

Presenting, Vanessa Coogan

Manager, Crate Escape, Belmont

Vanessa first started at Crate Escape as a Pen Attendant.  The job is one of the most important positions we have, and requires varied skills, physical and mental. The fun part is meeting lots of dogs of all ages, sizes and temperaments. The challenge is being confidently ‘alpha’ while supervising their socialization and exercise. Many applicants have come because they like dogs, and that is not enough. Vanessa had the right combination of skills.

What was your first job?
My first job was when I was 14. I worked at an after-school  child daycare.  There are many similarities between child daycare and doggy daycare. (Except, I’d much rather pick up dog poop than change a diaper!)  The most interesting experience I had working with children was when I had to write up one the kids for biting another child.

How did you hear about Crate Escape?
I was working for a cleaning company part time and really wanted a full time job. I wanted my next job to be something different that I hadn’t done before. I have always had a passion for animals and knew that was the next field I wanted to work in. I was on craigslist in job ads and saw Crate Escape’s post. I’ll never forget it said “Do you want to be around 40 dogs and get dirty?” My immediate answer was “This is perfect!”.  I started in the pens, getting to know all the dogs and their behavior.

Then you started working ‘up front’ at the desk on Flanders Rd- getting busier everyday… Stories to share? What was it like?
My favorite part of working at the front desk, coming from the pens, was that I got to meet all the dogs owners. I finally met the amazing people who own the amazing dogs who I knew well and cared about.
I also loved working with Nikki. I made my mistakes but she soon whipped me into shape. If it weren’t for her patience and perseverance,  I wouldn’t be the person I am today. She’s kind of like my ‘mother hen’.

I have so many stories that it really hard to pin point or choose any particular one. Here are a few:
1. While checking in Murphy,  golden retriever, I was talking to his  Dad, Mark.  Murphy decided he wanted to go play and wanted to take me with him. Murph slid
in between my legs and lifted my feet off the ground. Big Murphy literally swept me off my feet.

2. I was working in the pens one day and one of the other pen attendants and I had noticed something sticking out of one of the dog’s bums. When we investigated we realized the dog was trying to poop out a bra.

3. I was working in the “van pen” which back in the day was the ‘chill’ dog pen. My uncle (who was a big part of my life) had just passed away. I was watching the dogs and I started to tear up. One of the dogs (Sachem) came right up to me, put his head on my leg and looked at me as if to say “I’m here for you”.

Then you were promoted to the Manager of Crate Escape too. Stories to share? What was it like?
When I started managing the Cambridge location it was a bit overwhelming.  I was nervous that I wouldn’t be adequate for the job.  After a couple weeks I got into the swing of things. I felt a real accomplishment, being responsible for  my own little store! Again, the customers and dogs are amazing!

Now, as of February, 2014, back to Crate Belmont as the Top Dog! (Manager). What is it like? Stories to share?
It is SO good to be back. I loved the clients and pups in Cambridge but Belmont is my home. Managing Belmont definitely has challenging moments but I am learning more every day about managing on a large scale. It feels good! I know I will get into the swing of it, just like Cambridge. Seeing the customers and the pups make this more than a job, they are my family.

What is your biggest challenge over all?
I don’t know if you want to use this answer or question…  but my biggest challenge is everything always breaking!

ernie drawing from website1Editorial Comment from Ernestine: ‘ Pretty sure my Mom and Dad will agree with you there!’

What do you see in the future for you and Crate Escape?
I see a bright future with myself and Crate Escape. I love Stephanie, Brad, Nikki and Barb.  The dogs, customers and staff are amazing! I love my job!

nessa buddah

Vanessa & Buddah; Great Friends!

Paws Donations

Many of you have been following our association with Paws Donations, an organization founded for the purpose of gathering donations of dog and cat items for rescues and shelters.  Our own, Kate Gallaher, is behind this effort, and Crate Escape is giving all of their donations to Paws Donations during the months of March and April. Here is a list of the items requested:


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