A blog about my life with dogs.......

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

dinner plans

In the above doggy dinner there is baby bok choy (greens), pureed pear, and ground beef.
The ground beef I buy in bulk and thaw out portions at a time in the fridge. The pureed pear, (oh they loved that!) was left over from making pear jam earlier this year. The pear had already been mashed, but we had to much for our recipe and not enough for a second batch so we set it aside . The top had turned brown and was unappealing to us picky humans. So I bagged it, froze it and now here it is as dog food. The baby bok choy is a green from the salad mix that I am still (STILL! whoop whoop!) harvesting from the organic garden. I finely chop the greens and put on top of the beef and pear so it is sure to be eaten.

poop can
In the yard I use a small manure rake to do the pick up and put the poo in the can. When the poop can is getting full I take it to the farm and it gets mixed in with cow and horse manure that is later spread on corn and bean fields. I do not use dog poo as compost for the organic garden because carnivore poo is not recommended for use on vegetables for food safety reasons.
Don't have any bean fields near by? Here is an interesting solution to the pet waste problem! Check out the Doggy Dooley!

Bugsy modeling for me as I practice using a new camera

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh my!

     Last night I fought against a head cold from the battleground of my couch. Bugsy, spent half the time on the floor chewing a marrow bone, the other half laying his head on a pillow in my lap. We were in the basement with all the lights turned out and the TV on, so it was hard for me to see. When Bugsy got up to move from my lap I realized there was a large dark, wet spot on the pillow where he had been.
GRRREEAAT,dog puke in my lap. Or so I thought.
     I switched on the light and discovered to my horror that it was blood. Blood covering 1/4 of the pillow case and soaked into the pillow. Blood on Bugsys's face, paws and front legs. Blood drips and spatters on the carpet and on the couch. My first thought was that he had vomited blood. (oh the horror!) I flicked on every light and grabbed towels and a wet wash cloth and began cleaning up Bugsy. My eyes must have been wide in horror because while Bugsy had acted very normal before he looked nervous now. I wiped him up and tried to calm down. I examined his mouth for cuts but he was not cooperating. Then we found a splatter of blood near and in the water bowl. Then the marrow bone, the marrow extracted all but from the very center which was hard to reach. Bugsy, had obsessively shoved his face into the bone to get the marrow until he cut open his mouth and bled all over the house. The bone was bloody. Later we found blood drips on the stairs and in the kitchen. I picked up all the "hobby" bones and threw them out. No more OCD chewing for Bugsy!

I am relieved that it was only a cut to his mouth and nothing worse. Geez! He scared me!

     Did you know that Harry needs stairs to get into my vehicle? He used to jump up into car just fine, but then again, I used to drive a car. Then a van for awhile. Both of those were low to the ground. When I started driving a Ford Escape at first he did just fine. Then one day, he didn't make it. The fall was awful. After that I was watching him closely. After another bad fall I started lifting him into the Escape with him helping by putting his front paws onto the entry way into the backseat, then I would lift his backend. Then my back went out. My mother thoughtfully gave me a set of stairs she had used for kids to get onto the saddle on a horse. Below is a picture of how Harry rides in the Escape these days.

     You can see the blue stairs are smeared with paint drips. I used these stairs to reach high places when we repainted the kitchen and bedroom early this spring. You can also see that Harry is not in a kennel or restrained with a seat-belt. I used to restrain riding dogs with doggy seat-belts but I found them to be flimsy and ultimately unsafe. Not all my dogs ride well in kennels so I have never kenneled them in the car. I only use a kennel in the car when I am transporting a dog I don't know. Harry doesn't spend much time in the car. Bugsy and Comet do, and this 'free in the car' thing is something I am re-considering. If we were in an accident,..what if? what if? Oh, but life is full of what if's. I guess I've been living on the edge. What do you do in the car with your dog?

 Speaking of dogs living on the edge. Check out this video of dogs swimming with sharks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pedigree dogs Exposed.

Some of you may have heard of a film that exposed Kennel Club standards for creating significant health problem in dogs as well as allowing or even encouraging close inbreeding in pure breed dogs. This film is called Pedigree Dogs Exposed. If you click the link it will take you to the entire movie on YouTube. The film is 51 minutes long.
If you have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel please be aware that this film has some disturbing footage of Calvaleirs suffering from syringomyelia.

Here in the US the AKC sets the standards for dog breeds. And here, as in the UK, the standards are coming under fire by animals rights groups and dog lovers. This article in the New York Times discusses the popularity of and the common health problems associated with the AKC English Bulldog.

Here is a photo catalog of Neapolitan Mastiffs from 1949-present.

Thanksgiving feast

O what a busy week it has been!

For Thanksgiving this year I went on tour. Spent the morning picking and washing greens for our Thanksgiving contribution of salad. We also brought home-made jalapeno and watermelon jellies,  kale and bacon saute, and a chickpea chocolate cake(the later 2 of which are some of Craigs specialties!). Thanksgiving feast at noon with my family on the farm. Thanksgiving fun with Bugsy and Comet at the dog park, followed by a Thanksgiving hike at Palisades Park, then Thanksgiving Dinner with Craig and his family! Good thing we hiked to work off the lunch and make room for dinner!

Dog lovers know, a tired dog is a good dog and at the dog park on Thanksgiving I saw more people and dogs than ever before! Good people! Proactive dog owners know that when company is coming, or you are planning to be out most of the day, tiring your dog out first is a great way to set you and your dog up for success.

Here at home I shared the Thanksgiving theme by feeding the dogs extra special meals.

 For breakfast I made the dogs (and cats) scrambled eggs. I mixed in some egg shell, dried kale and parsley into the eggs and served it over ground turkey with steamed carrots and baked potatoes. They loved it.

The next Thanksgiving meal was a very meaty bone. I bought a set of three from the meat section of the grocery store. They were being sold as soup bones and had plenty of meat on them. The dogs ripped off the meat and then spent some chew time getting the marrow from the bones.
lucky dog!

Remember! Feeding leftovers to your dog is fine sometimes, but beware of over feeding junk food to your dogs which can cause them to become overweight and/or develop health problems. Also cooked bones (like whats leftover from the turkey) can be harmful to dogs. The cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage. This Thanksgiving my family thought of me when preparing the turkey and set the gizzards and neck aside for me! Uncooked of course. (THANKS MOM!) Soon those raw pieces of meat will become dog food as well.

Other Thanksgiving do's and don'ts
-Canned or fresh baked plain pumpkin makes a tasty doggy treat!
-Avoid feeding your dog spicy things which could cause stomach upset.
-Avoid feeding your dog bits of things like green bean casserole which contains onions. Onions, like chocolate, can be toxic to dogs.
-Keep kitchen counters clear of leftovers. Store non-refrigerated leftovers in the microwave, a bread box, or in a cupboard and away from nose following counter surfers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

vocabulary lesson

Dictionary.com describes the word  anthropomorphic as follows


1.ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, especially to a deity.
2.resembling or made to resemble a human form: an anthropomorphic carving.
Giving  dogs human attributes is sometimes harmful to dogs. Here is an example:

"I came home really late from work and Fido was really mad at me so he peed on the rug!"

There is research on emotions in dogs and evidence that shows that dogs can indeed feel anger. However, revenge (in this example revenge=peeing on the rug BECAUSE you were late coming home) is a very human emotion. It requires mind "time travel" the ability to associate that because I(dog) am peeing on the rug NOW that LATER when you(person) come home you will THEN be punished by having to clean up my mess because you did not come home on time. 
Wow. I know our dogs are really really smart, but when you break it down it sure seems silly to think that Fido is out to get you doesn't it? 

Next time you are late home from work and Fido has messed on the rug think about how you would feel if you went to the bathroom most every day at 6pm but without any warning were expected to wait an extra 2 hours. Gee whiz! I expect that I would feel like I REALLY REALLY had to pee!

Craig took this photo.
There are many more ways in which people attribute human qualities to dogs. Some can be detrimental to the dogs as described above and some can be just annoying to them. Here are a few photos as an example of the later! tee hee hee.

The photo Craig took of Bugsy inspired this post and photo shoot. Which was all pre-Halloween and lots of silly fun for me. Thanks to Craig for the use of some of his shirts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


When you add a new doggy member to your family people often remind you to be patient. Be patient because the two of you are getting to know each other and it takes time to settle in. (And yes this is true) But patience is also an important lesson to teach your dog through-out his life. Using commands and getting into good daily habits that facilitate patience in your dog is an excellent way to make a good dog a great dog.

Here are some habits and commands that can help you facilitate patience in your dog.

*Practice the "stay" command. -start by practicing in familiar and safe places, then work up from there.

*Practice and use a "wait" command. This is a  great command to use at the door. Ask your dog to wait as you open the door to let him out. Then release him with the word "okay" or another release word you choose. You can also practice "wait" at dinner time by setting the dogs food bowl down and have your dog sit and wait until you release him to eat. (start by asking him to wait just a few seconds, then work up from there)

*Practice a "leave it" command with your dog. Helping your dog develop the self control not to run up and scarf down anything that comes within his reach is not only facilitating patience it may save his life one day!

For more information on teaching these super useful commands check out future blog posts or you can check out some dog training manuals like "Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household." By Patricia McConnell or "How to Have the Perfect Pet" By Victoria Stilwell.

I ask my boys to sit and wait while dog food is being set out. Each dog has a spot where they wait. I ask them to sit, or lay down, and set each bowl onto the floor then wait a moment. Then I give the release word "okay" and each dog goes to his bowl to eat. I often but not always ask them to wait a few feet away from the door before they go out to potty. I ask them to wait when we are getting out of the car. I also require a wait when I am handing out meaty bones.

In the above picture all three boys are patiently waiting for me to give them one of the bones. As I unwrapped the bones I said "wait" one time. This is the result. Note should be taken that three big dogs patiently waiting for meaty bones in the company of each other is not the result of me saying "wait" one time. This behavior is the result of me working individually with each dog on wait, leave it, stay, and many other commands, the result of me working with the dogs many times together asking them to wait. This is the result of years of work and living respectfully with these dogs. It's not something that comes overnight. (If this is something you have not done before, PLEASE do not put meaty bones out in front of your dog pack just to see what happens. Not putting unfair expectations on your dog is part of being a good leader.)

Here you can see the bones the dogs are waiting for.
In this picture you can see Comet sniffing the air around the bones. In the previous picture you can see that Bugsy and Harry are looking at me. Comet is looking away from the bones, but has them in sight.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquairius!

(Left to Right) Foster, Me, Ginger, Bugsy and Harry.

Sorry for the song in the head inducing blog title but I couldn't help it.
This blog is dedicated to all things Harry Dawg.
This picture was taken on the farm our first winter in Iowa together.
I adopted Harry from the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society on September 10th of 2007.  Harry was described as being a black and rust  Rottweiler/German Shepard mix breed who was guessed at 7 years old. Volunteers at the shelter wrote this note on his kennel "He is a very sweet dog. He loves people and is very nice to walk. He has a happy personality and is at a very nice age. He would make a great companion. He seems to be housebroken!" There was also another much longer letter attached to his kennel from his foster home describing him and the treatment he had undergone. Harry had been found stray in St.Paul Minnesota and been diagnosed with kennel cough, roundworm, tapeworm and heartworm. Harry had been in a St.Paul shelter, an animal hospital, a foster home, then the Golden Valley Shelter. His name was listed as "Aquarius" and beneath the typed name was a handwritten note "Harry for short".

I walked up and down the kennels looking at the different dogs. I knew I didn't want a puppy. I was at the shelter with a purpose: rescue an adult dog who will accompany me during my move from the big city to the fields of  Eastern Iowa where the dog and I will have unrestricted access to acres and acres of farm land. I wanted to be a city dogs retirement plan.

 I don't remember Harry standing in his kennel wagging his tail at me. Trying to picture it breaks my heart. I do remember it was the end of the day at the shelter when we met and he was the last dog on my list of dogs to take out to the dog runs and get to know.  The shelter staff brought him by leash to the dog-run and let him loose, then she gave me a dog biscuit and left. Harry walked to the opposite end of the run and peed where another dog had just peed. I clapped my hands and called to him. He came over to me. I walked back and forth in the dog run and he followed me. I petted him and told him to sit. He sat. I gave him the biscuit. He was great. But how could I know for sure he was the right dog for me? A few moments later the shelter staff came back with the leash in her hand and leaned over the fence. "Well?" She said. "Is Harry going home?" I looked at her and then Harry and paused. "Well Harry," I looked down at him. "Do you want to come home with me?" Harry looked straight up into my eyes with his big dark ones. I swear, his eyes were pleading to me. I imagined him thinking "Home? Really?"
He got me. "YES!" I said to the volunteer.
2009 A Chunkier Harry!

When I was signing the adoption paperwork I gushed. Told all the staff about how Harry and I would be starting our new lives in Iowa in a few months time. Just think, a city dog, reborn to life in the country, free roam of the farm and the couch. Then a newscaster walked through the door with a camera crew. They were going to do a spotlight on a shelter dog and they asked for Aquarius. "Aquarius is coming home with me!" I said. So, he missed his big break! His chance at show business!
Oh well,. Looking back I feel lucky, if he had been on the news 24 hours before, maybe someone else would have adopted him. Where would I be then?

Harry , on the far right.
. Harry was potty trained from day 1 and only whined a little when I left him alone in the house. I tried locking him in a kennel, but he preferred the couch.  I took him to the best pet supply store I knew, Urbanimal. Where I was lucky enough to run into an old friend behind the counter. She congratulated me on my dog and gave us a huge, FREE bag of  Solid Gold Holistic Blend Dog food. We were elated. I bought an army green TUFF collar and a black nylon leash. (By the way, Harry wears that same collar to this day. He's not very tough on his collar, but it's the only collar he's ever worn! And it's still in great shape.) I bought a red and blue rope bone and a black and white bouncing ball. We took walks in the city parks and around the neighborhood. We had a little yard and when a city raccoon was tumbling in our trash can Harry took it on with the might of a grizzly bear

Harry never played with the ball, or the rope bone. I gave both of them away to other dog owners. Harry was content to sniff the neighborhood and snooze on the couch. Sure, he turned over the kitchen garbage can a few times, but he didn't bark unless there was a good reason, he ignored my two cats and he loved me. When we moved to Iowa Harry loved it. Harry immediately became a wonderful off leash dog. I never purposely trained him to come, or not pee in the house. I was one lucky lady.

Back in Minneapolis I had started adding a medallion or two of Nature's Variety raw to Harry's  meals when I found out that my friend behind the counter fed her dog raw. After I adopted Ginger and she struggled with skin allergies we started more and more down the path to raw and home-cooked doggy diets. By the time Bugsy had been with me for a year Kibble was few and far between. Comet has been raised, since 12 weeks old, on a raw foods diet (and some home-cooked stuff too). For all that I can tell, Harry is all the better for it.

Happy Harry, his face dirty from digging a hole on the muddy banks of my grandparents pond.
(Knock on wood!) Harry has had no major health problems. Since he has been with me he has had a few ear infections, he got worms a time or two from eating horse poop, and had an anal sac rupture and get infected(which caught me by surprise and was horrible, but easily treated. I was so worried about him I slept in the extra bed with him stroking his coat and tearing up) Harry has had some arthritis issues which we have gotten under control in the past 6 months with a combination of weight loss, supplements and exercise. Harry and I have a physical therapy routine I made up to help him build and keep his leg muscle strength. We walk up and down the slope of the ditch, and up and down a ramp-like slope in the back yard. His back legs are weaker than his front, but he is using those legs more now than at this time last year and we are determined to keep up the good work.


Harry doesn't go to the dog park. I have made the decision not to introduce Harry to new dogs unless I have lots of control of the situation. He gets grouchy with young stranger dogs easily.  If Harry throws down (hackles up, lip lift, tail up, growl, stare) Bugsy and Comet will back him up. So Harry roams the farm instead of the dog park. Because where Bugsy and Comet falter (over excited around the livestock and farm equipment) Harry shines.

Harry was well named. He sheds more than any dog I have ever met.
Harry enjoys sniffing a good breeze, rolling in dead things and eating horse poop when I'm not looking. He loves going into the farm house where my mother has a basket of biscuits on the floor for her grandogs. Harry still doesn't care for toys, but he adores chewing on raw bones. He likes car rides, dog treats and sleeping in the bed. Harry snores. If he farts, you had better leave the room and his eyes are black, even cloudy looking, not like they used to be. Often when people meet Harry they look at his eyes and ask me if he's blind. He isn't and the vet says it's nothing to worry about. "Just part of getting older" He said.

When I moved back home to Iowa there were many days when it felt like Harry was all I had. He is always here for me. And I am here for him.
I am proud to be Harry's retirement plan.

The tag on his collar reads "Harry Dawg"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a week!

Bugsy and Comet at the dog park training yard.
   The picture above was taken after an hour and a half of Bugsy and Comet running around the dog park. We then spent another hour in the training yard because I locked my keys in my car! Whoops. At least it was a beautiful day to be locked out.

     It's been one heck of a week. My birthday was last week and after a rough morning at work I came home for a nap with the dogs. It was refreshing. After my birthday nap a few rousing games of fetch, some playtime in the yard and a training session for each dog. Then I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon volunteering at the Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control Center or CRACC. That day I ran into a problem I have never run into before! So many volunteers at the shelter we were each waiting to take a turn to use the exercise yard! What a great problem to have! So after a little face time with a few cute canines I stopped into the cat room where I ran into the same problem!
HERE is a link to my current favorite dog at CRACC.

     Bugsy and the basketball playing trick have had a setback. While training, his collar caught on the laundry basket and scared the fuzzy pants off the poor dog. It was as if the basket was chasing after his face. Bugsy balked and wide eyed backed himself into a corner where I held him still and quickly snapped off his collar.  After that we spent the rest of the training session working on rebuilding a positive association with the evil laundry basket.
Come calmly near the laundry basket=Treat
Sit next to basket=Treat 
Touch the basket=Treat

     We worked with his collar off. Because there is a highly likelihood of his collar catching again during training I am brainstorming ideas for a new "basket". The next day, I got the flu and spent 2 days in bed. Now I'm playing catchup with everything and the basketball trick is on the backburner.

     Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting, accessing and transporting a small sable and white dog (border collie?) into rescue. This is not always a fun task but this little dog is a treat! Here are a few pictures I took during my short time with him. Look at that face! Those eyes! One blue, one brown/gold!
Upgraded to front seat!
You don't expect a dog you just met to ride like this!

     As you can see he is quite the charmer! He sat so politely in the kennel with a smile on his face that when we got to our destination I took him out to potty and spent the rest of our time together schmoozing it up in the front seat of the car.

     In other news I made some cheese today! Leftover from the cheese is plenty of whey. As I was researching what on earth to do with the whey (Compost? Water house plants? Cook? Bake? Pet food?) and discovered there are many things to do with it, I read some blog posts recommending it as a dog food supplement. So the bottom of the pot, the whey with some itty bitty curds floating in it is all for the boys. I gave them each a little with tonight's dinner and they loved it.
Ground beef, potatoes, carrots, dried tomatoes n apples, curds n whey
Quart of curds and whey

Monday, November 7, 2011

Have you heard about the silver fox experiment?

Have you heard about the Silver Fox Experiments? The Silver Fox Experiments have helped scientists learn a lot about the domestication process, helping us understand how wild wolves became our dogs. I find this very intriguing. That said, seeing so many animals in wire cages is somewhat disturbing to me, even in the name of science.

In other news..............
    I've been trying to dream up new tricks to teach the boys. Bugsy and I are working on a form of doggy basketball. His stuffed basketball is his favorite toy. The basketball is this cheap stuffed ball with a squeaker inside. I bought it on a whim while at the grocery store. He loved it so much that I've bought him a few. Heaven forbid the grocery store stops selling them! Back to the trick, the idea is he chases down the basketball, brings it to the 'basket' which is a purple laundry basket and puts it in. Easy enough, right? Well, here's how our training session went.....
(fatal error #1- I haven't used a clicker with him in a while and I didn't "charge it up" before I used it!)
     I tossed the ball across the room and Bugsy ran after it and brought it back to me. I held the basket in front of me as I knelt on the ground placing the basket where he would usually deposit the ball for me to throw again. When he brought it back Bugsy would ever so politely drop the ball in front of the basket. So he didn't get a treat and I would say "uh-oh". Also, I avoided giving him too much eye contact or petting him at all. Bugsy is a love bug and these things are rewards to him. After several throws and retrieves, and me tipping the basket at an inviting angle Bugsy still wasn't getting the hint. He laid down and made a "arrrrroooooohhh" noise.  I imagine him wondering what I could possibly be wanting him to do. So I decided to monitor how close the ball came to the basket and click and treat at a certain distance, then work closer and closer. After a few retrieves he started putting the ball next to, even touching the basket. Ding ding! He got what I wanted! But he wasn't getting the put it into the basket thing at all. Who can blame him, as long as we have been playing fetch I ask him to drop it and I pick it up off the ground. So I decided to try a different route. I picked up the basketball and held it over the basket. "Bugsy, Take it!" I said. By the way, Bugsy is G-R-E-A-T at "take it". He is willing to pick up most familiar and some unfamiliar objects if I point and say "take it".
     As soon as Bugsy took the ball in his mouth I said "drop it" and now we are putting the ball in the basket! Wahoo! I clicked and jackpot treated him. I swear, I could see the little gears in his head turning,trying to figure out which part of what he had done was getting him the reward. We did this a few more times and then took a break. I meant to get back to it later in the day, but a long hike with Bugsy, Comet and Craig, a long sit at the table accounting for our monthly spending's and a stuffed baked squash later the 2nd training session will have to wait for tomorrow. I've got lots of shaping yet to do if this trick is going to turn out. So I wont go blow my bank buying more basketballs, yet.

     Oh Harry. My sweet old man dog. I'm still brainstorming a trick to teach him. Tricks aside, Harry is doing well these days. His arthritis has had me worrying the past few years. So we have taken a proactive multi-route, first I put Harry on a diet. It seemed like one day he was 58lbs then suddenly was 64lbs! In addition to slimming down his diet I have tried to pay special attention to his exercise. In his age he will often choose to lay on the couch all day, never pleading for a walk or a ride in the car. To increase the motion in his limbs we walk slopes and avoid stairs.Harry also takes a supplement to help is joint health.  Over a period of a year and a half he is now down to a comfortable 51lbs and I am observing less limping and more mobility. He's no spring chicken, but today he chased me through the yard!

    Earlier, I mentioned I baked and stuffed a squash. Here is a photo of that post scrape out. I took the insides, some extra scrapings, as well as the seeds and put them into a freezer bag. Later I will cook them a little and serve them to the dogs as part of a meal.

To end this post I'd like to give a good 'ole wag of the tail to My Pet Carnivore. I sure think they're swell. The people are really friendly and the products are great. I have been impressed with the variety and quality they offer. So, if you're raw feeding, or thinking about raw feeding check out the website!