The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Just Dogs Page 2 of 3

Life with pooches. For just doggy pictures, visit

Outdoor Water Station for Dogs

Outdoor water for dogs


Roxie and Charlie love to stay in the yard. As long as it is not raining, they always prefer lounging outside to sleeping inside.

We always had an outdoor water station for them at our last rental. It was a big glass bowl that takes about two liters of water, which we refilled once a day. Here in Colorado, the dogs started drinking a lot more water due to the dry weather, and the water we put outside evaporates very quickly.

Soon after we settled in, we started to search for a more updated outdoor water solution for our dogs. We had a few criteria in mind when we started our research:

  1. > 1 liter in volume with a big opening.  Charlie drinks a lot of water at a time. And due to his floppy cheeks, he spills just as much. It is better to have a water station that is shallow and big in diameter, opposed to being small and deep. A big opening of the water bowl not only limits spills, but also allows Roxie and Charlie to drink at the same time.
  2. Automatic refill.  To keep the water fresh,  we would like to keep the water under a relative small volume but refresh it frequently. An automatic dispenser that refills itself saves our labor. We have a faucet in the sunroom to which we can connect the water station.
  3. Can be mounted at knee-height.  Roxie and Charlie have no problem eating/drinking at the floor level. However, we would like to have the option to mount the water station higher.
  4. Inexpensive and easy to fix.

After some research, we ordered a low-end automatic water bowl in which the water can be replenished by the hose after each drink.


Two screws hold the top down onto the tank compartment, which houses a float.


It is basically the same mechanism that toilet tank uses. And on either side, there is a vertical edge with two screw holes for the option of mounting it higher.


All the plastic parts can be taken apart and the water level can be adjusted relatively easily by adjusting float adjustment screw.



After reconnecting everything and to the faucet, we turned on the faucet and watched the water bowl filled.

(It was raining when I took the video. So the water sound you hear from the beginning is the rain, not the faucet.)

There it it. We have used it for almost a month, and it functions as expected. It refills when the water is low, sometimes while the dogs are drinking from it. Roxie and Charlie do not seem to be bothered by the noise it makes during refill.


Do you have an outdoor water station for dogs? How expensive is your setup – and is it worth the money? For long-time users, do you notice any pros and cons for your setup? We are pretty satisfied with this $15 little station now, but would like to learn how other system performs. Our tap water is pretty good (from a well). But at some point, we might need to filter the tap water before giving it to the dogs. Anyone has experience with water stations with a filtration system?

Reduce Moving-Related Stress for Pooches

Moving with dogs

Just like all the parents, our first priority during the move is to make sure that our kids (dogs in this case) are comfortable. As rescue dogs, Roxie and Charlie get anxious without us for an extend period of time, especially when they are not at home. And their anxiety level was easily boosted by moving boxes and gradually disappearing furniture. To reduce their stress level and to prevent stress-related diseases from happening, we intentionally took the following measures:

Plenty of attention and TREATS during packing

Roxie came to us with huuuge separation anxiety. She is also a very observant dog. She associated suitcases with travel right away in the past. When we pack up for trips, she will stay around the luggage and hope to come along.

Packing for a ski trip in 2012

This time around, she quickly associated moving boxes with “major life event happening”. If it were three years ago, when we first adopted her, I am afraid that she would have glued to my heel for the whole time during packing. But by now, we have earned her trust that we would never abandon her – all separations are temporary. But understandably, she was not fond of us literally pulling the rug from under her feet.

As it for Charlie, he could not care less about us taking away his bed and toys, but he is always sensitive to loud noises and the packing tape noise was not his friend. For these reasons, both of them prefer to stay in the yard while we packed our little hearts away indoors. I made sure to go out and pat them a little every hour or so, and gave them plenty of treats when they came inside to check on us. Treats always keep them confident and happy!

Loading dog stuff the last and unpack theirs first

Roxie and Charlie have a favorite rug in the house, a cheap IKEA HAMPEN. It hides hair and dirt well, does not smell, and I am happy to report that it becomes cheaper as time goes by. We are on our second HAMPEN already, and even we had soft rugs in the bathroom and a much more expensive West Elm rug in the living room, The dogs always laid and played on the HAMPEN. We decided to roll it up the last, so even the dogs lost all their regular napping spots, including on the sofa and bed, they still had the rug to relax on during this crazy time. We just threw it into the moving truck right before closing the door. Consequently, it was the first thing we unpacked in our new place, and the familiar smell (stink) brought comfort and confidence to our pooches the first night after a long travel.

The dogs also have elevated outdoor beds in the yard. It is also something we threw into the moving truck last and re-assembled immediately when we arrived under the Colorado sun. We traveled with their usual food bowls and water dispenser (similar) in the car, so these things were immediately set up upon arrival as well.

Roomy car for lengthy travel

Roxie and Charlie are mid-size dogs. But for such a lengthy travel, we want to make sure that they have enough room to roam around in the car. For a short ride around town, we put them into the back seats where they sit sideways most of the time.

When the road is bumpy or the speed is too fast, the dogs brace themselves to the back of the seat, which is not very comfortable.

Although they are both great car riders, extended period in the car facing the windows can still induce nausea. For the three-day drive we have, we decided to devote all the space behind the front seats of my 2011 Subaru Forester to the dogs. We laid down the back seats and removed everything from my truck. A big piece of seat cover was used to cover the entire back of the back seats and the floor of the truck, and their doggy bed and a couple pillows on top made the space warm and cozy. This arrangement not only provided plenty of space for them to move around during travel, but also allowed them to always face forward regardless body position, which reduces nausea. Needless to say, I could not carry much but snacks and a personal bag in my car. But the result was well worth it – neither Roxie nor Charlie showed any discomfort, and ate and drank normally during the trip. They stood up, moved to the back window and poked their nose out when we slowed down.

For the most of the highway driving, they slept against the trunk door under the southeast sun, usually on top of each other.

A pile of dogs, anyone?

Helping the dogs to get familiar with the new place on the first day

We intentionally arrived in the early afternoon, in order to give the dogs some daylight so they could get used to the place. As soon as we arrived, before unloading the truck, we walked around the property with both dogs and gave them plenty of time to sniff around. This is especially important because the house we moved into has a resident dog. Roxie and Charlie followed us closely, but explored the place. And by dark, they had already found their No.1 and No.2 spots. They have been reliably doing their business at these spots since then (parenting win)! I think the first a couple days walking around with them really helped them to register the new “home”.

Recognizing their new needs

Our past rental is the only home that Roxie and Charlie have ever known. Since the day they were brought back from the shelters, their food bowls were at the same place, and their outdoor beds were never moved either. Moving to a completely new apartment did bring some confusions. Roxie for example, would not eat dinner from her new spot the first a couple days, unless I stayed next to her patting her at the same time. I suspect that she still does not like her new food spot (due to lack of privacy), but we have limited options so she has to get used to it.

One thing we noticed is that they drink a lot more water. Colorado is a lot drier than North Carolina, so this is not a surprise. To meet their needs, we ordered a low-end automatic water bowl for the sunroom, so water can be replenished by the hose after each drink, and stay relatively fresh. We will try it for a couple weeks before giving you an update.


So far, I think puppies stayed calm and they like the new place. We are both home most of the time, which definitely helped. Stay chill Roxie and Charlie!

Happy dog Roxie

Budget-friendly Joint Supplement for Dogs

Home-made joint supplement

When we adopted Charlie from Rescue Ur Forever Friend (RUFF) at Halloween night, 2013, we were told that he was around 3 years old. However, he was not nearly as energetic as Roxie, who was born around January, 2012; and he already had grey hair around his mouth. Our Vet later estimated that he might have been older, more like 5~6 years, but neither of the Vets could tell for sure. To this date, Charlie’s birth year remains a mystery.

Not knowing Charlie’s age is not a big problem to us, except when it comes to decide when to start his joint supplements. Charlie has never shown any sign of hip problems. But he has very high pain tolerance, so waiting until him to slow down will be too late. Charlie also loves car rides. which requires him to jump up 3~4 feet with his 75-pound awesomeness. Recently, we learned that it is actually the jumping down from height that wear the hip joints of large dogs.  Based on all these concerns, we decided to start supplying him with Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Glucosamine, and Chondroitin Sulfate, starting in 2016.


Bulk-order to save money

There are many articles describing the history, usage and resources of these three common joint supplements. Just like supplements for humans, they can be pricey. We decided to buy them individually in bulk, not only to reduce the cost, but also to ensure the quality of the supplements with our limited budget. After some search and research, we landed on the following three:

Human-grade Pure MSM Powder from Dual Health Body & Mind


Human-grade Pure Glucosamine HCl Powder from NuSci


Chondroitin Sulfate (for horses!) from Santa Cruz Animal Health


Based on how much Charlie needs and how long these compound can stay stable, we ordered them in 2~2.2  lb each. As you can see, these supplements themselves are not expensive at all, even some of them are qualified for human consumption. However, when we searched for pre-mixed supplements or same compound in the form of capsule, it becomes much more expensive. The recent exposure that many supplement capsule does not contain any active compound advertised is another reason we decided to buy dry compound directly.

Just to clarify, this post is not sponsored in any way and we are not advertising for these brands. For Charlie, these supplements are preventative, and he is not a very energetic dog to begin with. So we see very little change in his behavior. We did not perform any test that is more sensitive to measure his joint health either, if there is any. We also have not used these supplements in any other brand/form. If you are trying these supplements on your pooch who is older, or has already had joint problem, please comment and let us know if you see any improvement of your pet’s behavior or any slow-down of the progression of the symptoms.



The dosage for humans or horses are clearly stated on the labels of the products. However, dogs require different dosage per pound of weight from humans and large mammals, which can be found easily online. Treating pre-existing joint problem vs. preventative purpose require different dosage as well. We did not find much information on breed-specific dosage. Based on these information, we went with the most commonly used preventative dosage for Charlie, which listed in this table named “How to mix joint supplement for your pooch”.

In the top rows, you can see how we calculated the serving size for Charlie. At the bottom, I put in a table with built-in calculations so you guys can easily calculate for your own pooches after downloading the table onto your computer. All you need to do is to

  1. choose a dosage (in yellow color) depending on the treatment. I included the preventative dosage, so you need to up the dosage if your pooch is aged and needs treatment;
  2. change the weight for your dog (in red color);
  3. IF you bought different brands of these supplements, the active dose per serving size (in green color) might be different. It varies depending on the chemical structure of the compound, or the purity of it. This information should be listed on the packaging, so make sure that they are corrected in this table.

Based on this calculation, a 75-pound pooch like Charlie needs less than 1/5 teaspoon of MSM, 3/4 teaspoon of Glucosamine, and 2/5 teaspoon of Chondroitin Sulfate per day. Therefore, these bulk bags of supplements will last us for a few years. As dry powder, these compounds should be pretty stable. But we still want to limit the time opening the bags to prevent moisture from getting in. We make three-month supply at a time, by mixing ~1/3 cup of MSM, 1 and 2/5 cup of Glucosamine, and ~3/4 cup of Chonidroitin Sulfate together.


The mixture should be labeled, so everyone in the household is on the same page. The little handy spoon comes with the Chonidroitin Sulfate bag and made serving easier.


The rest of the dry compounds is put into sealed bags and stored somewhere cool and dry.



Strategy for better absorption

You probably have noticed that the suggested dosage for both Glucosamine and Chonidroitin Sulfate are per 12 hours, instead of per day. It means that for maximum effects, these two supplements should be given twice a day. Charlie gets fed at 7AM and 7PM, so we divide his daily serving of supplements into half for each meal. These compounds are better absorbed with moisture. Charlie is on dry food, so we pour a bit broth on the dry food to mix these compounds in, to which Charlie has made no complaints.

We hope by giving Charlie joint supplements early in his life, we can keep him healthy and happy longer. It does not cost us much with these bulk-ordered dry compounds, and as long as you work out the calculations, it takes five minutes every three months to mix the supplements. But it should made a big difference in your dogs’ lives.

Convinced? Questions? Let me know! Include a photo of your lovely pooch(es) in comments, because we can never get enough of doggy smiles.

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén