The Pink Zucchini - Panza's 4th Birthday Cake
Panza is 4 years old!
About a year ago, my ex partner of 4+ years and I decided to part ways. We had adopted Panza together and the decision was made that I would keep Panza with me here in Santa Barbara and my ex partner would move out of town. Since the get-go, Panza has been full of surprises. I have written a bit about raising her here on the blog but it’s something I’ve spent countless hours thinking about and dedicating my time and money towards.
We took Panza to the dog park and socialized her the way any new dog owner would - taking her to the dog park, meeting new people and dogs, taking her everywhere with us, enrolling her in puppy obedience classes. She was always a bit hesitant and shy but no large problems seemed to present themselves. A year or two in her behavior started to change a bit. She seemed more aggressive towards other dogs at the dog park and began to bark and pull on the leash when we’d pass other dogs, particularly large breeds. She was attacked a few times by other dogs both at the dog park and on a walk where I had her on leash and another off leash dog approached us. And maybe the worst development was her loud and scary barking at people who came near us or tried to come into our home.
We researched different options of how to deal with these issues. We took her to a variety of trainers - all who encouraged our use of positive reinforcement. Things sometimes seemed to improve but then would always slide backwards. Nothing seemed like it was working. And a new development was her inability to walk on her right leg after running. She would wake up in the middle of the night crying and not being able to move. Cut to my partner and I breaking up. At his request, he did not want to be in my or Panza’s life anymore so I was on my own.
There were so many times I felt hopeless and would break down in my apartment crying after taking Panza on a walk. But I slowly started to repair things. I took her to a veterinary behaviorist in Los Angeles who prescribed her medication and gave me an action plan. I took her to a trainer recommended by the veterinary behaviorist (also in Los Angeles) who tried to help me with a type of training called Behavior Adjustment Training. I can get into talking more about the different types of training that I’ve tried with Panza in another post but this approach also did not seem to work and increased my stress levels. And since her leg was not getting better I took her to the vet who referred me to a surgeon in Ventura. The surgeon confirmed that she had an injured ACL, requiring surgery. The surgery cost $5000, but I luckily had pet insurance so ended up “only” paying $1000 out of pocket.
The recovery was rough and put her training on hold. She was put in a cast for the first few weeks. I live in an upstairs apartment with no elevator. I had to carry her up and down the stairs four times a day to get out and go to the bathroom. At about 3 months of recovery she was able to go off leash and resume mostly normal walking. Time to resume training.
I was nearing all time high stress with Panza and not knowing where to turn. My therapist suggested I find her a dog camp or ranch to go to for a week or two so that I could have a break. I once again turned to my computer for research and found a new dog trainer here in Santa Barbara and emailed him that day.
His approach is entirely different from any trainer I have yet to pay and it actually seems to be working. I don’t think I would have been prepared for this training approach a year ago because it has required me to come to terms with my own deep seated psychological attachments and ideas. I’ll save that information for another post. But I feel dedicated to continuing this journey with Panza although it presents daily challenges and has been anything but easy. Happy Birthday Panza Baby!
The Pink Zucchini
1 cup shredded zucchini (moisture removed as much as possible)
1/2 cup unsweetened smooth applesauce
1/3 cup canola or olive oil
1/2 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 2 cups plain greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon beet powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 4 or 6 inch cake pan.
Whisk egg, applesauce, and oil together. Add oats, flour, and baking soda and stir till just combined. Fold in zucchini.
Pour half of batter into the cake pan and bake for 15 to 25 minutes until the cake is cooked all the way through and springs back in the middle when touched with a fingertip. Repeat the process with the second half of the batter.
For the frosting combine yogurt and beet powder and refrigerate until ready to frost cooled cake.