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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh girl!

nap time
     Oh, the heat is dreadful. All animals in my house, myself included, are making up for all the times through-out the year that we don't have time to nap. It is just too hot! Poor Comet pants and drools after even the shortest of walks. Poor guy, I know he really wants to run. The good news is Wonder Dog is encouraging all the boys to play, play and PLAY! The lot of them wrestle the evenings away in the living room. We take short walks in the morning and after dark. Also I'm working on some obedience and trick training. Frankly, after watching the video below, I'm feeling like a realy lazy dog trainer! Look at what this dog can do! I've got to get to work with my crew!

    After sharing this video with a friend I was led to another great blog SmoothSailinAgility. This blog is a great example of awesome dog stuff going on in my area. Thanks to my friend Rilda for sharing!

    Speaking of awesome blogs if you don't read Patricia McConnells blog The Other End of the Leash(and you should!)she has had a few great posts lately that I wanted to share. The first was guest written by Karen London and talks about both dogs and humans feeling that runners high.The second is by McConnell herself  writing about a new product on the market that automatically electrocutes your dog!!!!

More on.....

     Wonder was born on September 8th 2011 and was given to an animal shelter as part of an unwanted litter. She was adopted by a family in November of 2011 and kept crated for many hours as the family was busy and had small children. She was loved, but the family realized they did not have the time she deserved they gave her up to Protege Canine Rescue(Some of you may recall that I have fostered and volunteered for Protege here and there over the years). Protege, found out that I was considering adopting a female terrier and suggested her as a good fit for me. I fostered her for a short period and then decided to adopt her.
Wonder choosing to nap in her open crate. Notice the crate bed, which fits her crate exactly.       
     Little Wonder had the same fate of so many unwanted puppies,....being taken in by a family when she was cute and young, then as she grew, the family realized the level of care and responsibility required by a dog over it's lifetime and decided to give her up. She is, like so many young dogs, a reminder of how much thought SHOULD be put into picking the right dog for you. And how easily our brains can get flooded with those happy hormones when we see that baby face and wagging tail looking eagerly up at us.
Every puppy becomes a dog and every dog needs a loving home, proper nutrition and (arguably) a fair amount of training!  :) ( I bet, if you are reading this blog, you agree,...right?      :)
Investigating the cupboard after Purr-C cat had been napping inside.

Wonder has been running with me! We have run a few 3 miles runs and she is doing great. We are working on staying beside me, but despite her vigerous enthusiasm she usually keeps to one side or another.

     When Wonder arrived she regularly dug and kicked out the bottom pan of her crate. She also pawed at and bit the crate doors in an attempt to escape. I observed that she regularly chose to snuggle in Captains crate which has a washable bumper pad/bed inside. So I bought her one and the behavior of digging out her crate pan has stopped. I also leave a small blanket in her crate so she can "dig" that around if she likes. No doubt more exercise and spending less time in the crate overall is also helping this issue. The first few days she would bite and paw at the doors furiously, even breaking an extra clip I had added for security. I decided it in the best interest of all parties to NEVER open the door while she is behaving like that, I ask her to "sit" and when she does I open the door. I still have an extra clip on her crate door, but she knows sitting politely gets the crate door open. Also, as she becomes accustomed to our routine I think she is feeling more comfortable, more secure and thus less crate panic.

     So far (knock on wood) Wonder has been the easiest dog I have ever switched to raw. The first night she was here, I didn't know what brand of kibble she had been previously eating, so could not slowly transition her. I was out of back up kibble at my house and so I just gave her a small piece of chicken back which she ate with gusto. I continued to feed her small portions of raw for a few meals until I was comfortable she wasn't about to explode with diarrhea.(occasionally some dogs need to transition slowly to raw diets or may become stricken with diarrhea until their systems adjust) Wonder Dog takes it all like a champ and has now transitioned from chicken to beef. Good girl!

Wonder Dog eating a beef trachea
In other adventures...

     This week Wonder and I ran into another brown snake or DeKay's snake after a run. They aren't poisonous and if they do bite it is unlikely to cause more harm than a small puncture.......I'm starting to wonder if I've got the guts to just go ahead and pick up the next one I see. Why not take a closer look, right?

     Other firsts this week included handling injured hawks at the raptor center. If this doesn't sound dangerous to you, then you haven't seen a Red-Tailed Hawk inches from your face and you clearly haven't seen its talons. No worries, the Red-Tailed Hawk did me no harm nor did I do any to him. At this stage in the game moving these injured birds from dirty cage to clean cage, a task done daily for the injured birds at the clinic, is a learning process. I know that positive reinforcement works wonders, so I'm working hard to do things the right way and be proud of myself, instead of doing something the wrong way and getting a talon to my soft human skin to learn from. Eventually, some bird is going to get me, that is a risk I'm willing to take and part of the job. Learning the hows and whys of wild bird handling is a skill I'm pretty satisfied to be building in myself. How many people can say they have held an owl in their hands? Or a hawk?
      Later this week I will take part in an educational program where I will present a Saw-Whet Owl. Is it too early in this new job to pick a favorite bird???? Because this little owl could easily be my pick at this point. Oh, and I can't forget to mention that, an American Kestrel landed on my head at the clinic AND that when I mentioned to one of my new bosses that I had adopted a 4th dog and could thereby be known as a whack-a-doodle dog lady my boss responded by saying that until I adopt 7 dogs she will hold that title because she has 6. 3 Dachshunds and 3 Italian Greyhounds. Clearly I am in good company!

Why not add a video about Italian Greyhounds then........

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


     I've been wanting to tell you all that I was fostering a little female terrier mix, but I couldn't because I was wanting to first decide weather or not to adopt her and add her to the pack! I've been wanting a terrier. I have missed having a busy sassy little, eh ehm, bitch, around the house. Losing Ginger all that time ago, left a soft spot in my heart. Then Matilda came and went. When Protege heard that I was keeping an eye out for the right terrier they let me foster this sweet Jack Russel Terrier/ Basenji mix to see if she was the right match for me. She is younger then what I thought I was looking for, and a little bigger. She has some great high jumps just like a JRT and she is very smart and has a thoughtful look to her, like a Basenji. After her spending time with the pack we have unanimously decided she's a keeper! I have named her Wonder Dog! (Wonder for short) And I have decked her out in red white and blue starred collar reminiscent of wonder woman. (If you see any wonder woman dog collars out there you better send me the link!) Wonder has swept the whole pack off their feet! Even Bugsy is smitten with her. They play and wrestle and chase a ball together. Captain is enthusiastic and rough with her, I think he is pleased to have a playmate more his size. Comet and Wonder romp wrestle-mania style as often as they can.

     Ms. Wonder is a counter surfer, so we have that to work on. Also she needs a good foundation built on the basics like "off" "back up" "paws up" and a good recall. First things first though, we are working on recognizing her new name, and polilte door manners. Both of which she is catching on to with lightening speed. After being asked to sit, lured into the position with a treat and then rewarded for sitting a time or two Wonder now sits at the door and waits after being leashed up. She has even begun readily waiting for my release command, as the door is opened all the way. Good girl!

     It's a constant chore to beat the heat around here. I'm walking the dogs early in the morning, or late in the evening. Captain has become a pro at jumping in and cooling off in our new pool. When the hose is hooked up, he digs at the water and chases it around. It's adorable. Bugsy hasn't been enjoying running with me lately and I don't blame him. If I had to run in a coat in this weather I would want to quit too. Comet, poor guy, is full of energy and then gets outside and over heats so quickly, I keep a close eye on him. Wonder on the other hand, ran 3 miles with me last night and was ready for more! After our run I misted her with a spray bottle and gave her water to drink, but if there was a sign over her head in that moment I think it would have said, "What are you stopping for? LETS KEEP GOING! WHA_WHOO!"

    I started my new position at the Macbride Raptor Project last week! Oh geez, it has been a lot of fun! I'm learning a lot and enjoying meeting and getting to know the people of the Raptor Center and Macbride Recreation Area. Of course, the best part of all, is getting to know the raptors. I have helped hand feed two injured birds so far, a barred owl and a red tailed hawk. Today I did cage maintenance for several of the raptors, cleaning feathers, feces and lunch leftovers (A.K.A. rat and mouse guts) out of the cages. It was no easy task, the temperature soaring through the 90's, but it is just so awesome to be in the same space with a wild bird like an bald eagle or barred owl. I don't mind picking up mouse skulls one bit believe it or not! Tomorrow I get to handle and present my first bird for an educational program, an eastern screech owl. I am very excited. Also, I'm eager to get through this first and learn from any mistakes I may make.
In case you aren't familiar with the adorable and wild screech owls check out this video!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

walk on

A video about a breed of dog I don't see very often, the Basenji. 

     This week Captain decided kongs are so valuable he should begin burying them in the yard! Of all the dogs to dig and bury  treasure in the yard, my guess would not have been for Captain to begin this habit! So far, he is keeping his dirt digging activities to the confined space of what was long ago a flower garden. This triangular space in the yard just next to the deck is free for doggy digging. Bugsy likes to dig up fresh cool dirt there and lay in it on a hot day. Harry used to do the same thing. 

     While hiking this week I saw a De Kays snake that was none to happy to see me. And Bugsy, Comet and I saw a badger, of all things, cross the road in front of us during a walk! 

     Oh the adventures continue.....more to come soon. Now, I have to get back to work, reseaching birds of prey, like this Red-Tailed Hawk!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Exercising the Functionality of Obiedience

     It is another busy week here, as usual. How did you and your pooch fair the fourth? Poor Bugsy, he is shocked by each and every bang. Poor me, as my neighbors care not for my dogs fear and exploded fireworks directly over my backyard for 2 hours. I sure hope they got it out of their systems. The heat is unforgiving and today I hiked with out any dogs. Nor did any of my dogs even get so much as a walk. The heat is extreme. I am dripping sweat just taking the trash out! Poor Comet, his coat is perfect for playing in the snow and weathering extreme cold. His skin is easily sunburned and I will not be shaving him.
Comet staying cool in our new pool.
      Today Bugsy had a vet appointment. I had just finished one of my long overnight shifts and came home to give the dogs some love and let them out before leashing up and heading back out again. I'm happy to report Bugsy has a clean bill of health and had his vaccines updated. As the vet finished the last of the blood draw he and his tech assistant both commented on how good of a patient Bugsy was. They said he was "a nice change of pace from the bouncing and wrestling we have been doing all day.". Good boy, Bugsy! I felt a little grin coming on for all the times I felt like I was getting looks from people who may have been thinking....why is she carrying dog treats around with her? That dog must be so spoiled!
Spoiled? Who?

     I always bring treats to the vet with me. I try my best to come early and I always walk around the outside of the clinic so my dog can sniff and pee on things before he goes into the office, thereby lessening the likelihood of my dog marking in the office. I don't know about your vet office, but mine has a corner of desk that each dog must walk by going in and out of the clinic. I have seen so many dogs mark that spot. Even a potty trained dog will find it hard to resist marking a spot like that, but if they are out of pee and you recognize and avoid the marking zone then you will start out your vet appointment on the right paw!

     Each time I visit the vet some one takes us to an exam room and we wait there, just me and my dog, for the vet to arrive. I take this time to remind my dog how the slippery metal exam table is a wonderful place where rewards happen. I lure my dog onto the table with a treat or give him a command he already knows (in this case the command "paws up" for Bugsy). Then when my dog is securely on the table I give him a yummy treat. Then I give the "off" command and when he jumps off, yup you guessed it, another treat! Then when my dog is comfortable with that I use the foot petal on the floor to raise the table while my dog is on it. I do this just a few inches then give him a treat. Repeat.
No, I didn't ask my vets permission to play with the power exam table.

     Bugsy has been to enough appointments that he knows this drill. So we had our whole routine done well before the vet arrived and so I just sat and petted him and told him he is a good boy. Then when the vet arrived I used the same methods, and rewarded him again. When the vet drew blood from his paw I asked for a "watch me" and Bugsy drew his eyes away from the vet and the needle in his paw and watched me. I gave him a yummy treat.
     My vet is an old fashioned fellow. He's been vetting animals for my family for longer than I've been alive. He is a wise man who knows many things I do not, no doubt. But years ago when I fed Natures Variety and rotated the protein sources they offer, he disagreed. He is a science diet man. He sells it from the front of his office and I've seen him recommend it to customers. I, as you know, now feed raw. I am vehemently opposed to feeding my dog anything that has corn as the first several ingredients. So, I never told him that I began feeding raw. He doesn't know now. We disagree on this issue of food so, I chose not to discuss it.

     All that considered I was ready for a battle when I broached the topic of delaying future vaccinations or having titer tests done to measure my dogs immunity levels instead of vaccinating him when it may not be necessary. More and more I read evidence that we are over vaccinating our dogs, and that it may be causing cancer and other ailments. While I want to protect my dog from the dangers of rabies for example, I do not want to over vaccinate either. To my surprise my vet agreed.  "It's a topic over morning coffee" he said of conversations between him and the other vet in the office. He agreed to put Bugsy on a three year schedule for testing and see him annually for a check up.

Captain with his new hedge hog toy. Comet hamming it up.
.....On the Subject of over vaccinations and titer testing......
I wish I had a great website I could recommend or a source of any kind that I felt was worthy of passing on to you. At this point, I just don't have that. I am learning and I encourage you do the same. It seems like titer testing and vaccinations are a hot topic and discussions get heated. Everyone wants to do the best thing for their dog! I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decision on this topic. Good luck!
And remember to take into consideration the age, health, and lifestyle of your dog as you consider this as an alternate to annual vaccines. Bugsy does not board at kennels, or go to doggy day care (he doesn't like doggy day care and he is naughty there). Bugsy is an adult dog, lives inside and is in good health.

Practice makes perfect!
     Above is a picture of the boys doing my "settle" command. This routine has grown and changed over the years I have had dogs. "settle" means do not move forward and show me you are relaxed by sitting or laying down. I use this command at the door when they are going to go outside. Then I release each dog by name one at a time(or, I release them all with "okay"). I use a body block-I put my body between the dog and the door- if a dog becomes over eager and tries to sneak out early. This exercise prevents door guarding issues that can sometimes happen in a pack. Also using this routine helps the dogs learn patience. And they look cute doing it if I do say so myself. Good boys!

     Another way obedience saved my day today involves a kitchen full of broken glass. My glass of water was safely-or so I thought- on the kitchen table. The dogs were playing together on the floor, when Quimby cat came in, the dog play startled the cat who suddenly jumped on the table and knocked my glass onto Bugsy where it then bounced off of him and onto the ceramic tile shattering and scattering across the floor.
Captain and his hedge hog.
"wait" I said and looked sternly at each dog-unsure if they would do what I hoped they would do and freeze. The wait command means- don't move forward or backward. Captain has had little exposure to this command but is a quick study as he is very observant of the other dogs and one smart little smooshy face! Each dog did exactly what I had hoped, they stopped in their tracks and looked at me. I held my hand signal for wait out to Comet and Captain who were on my left and near to the door to outside. Bugsy was across the room to the right, a sea of broken glass between us. I looked at Bugsy "Backup." I said giving him that hand signal with my other hand. "Good." I said as he backed up. "Down" Bugsy laid down in the far corner and watched me eagerly. "Bugsy, stay." I said firmly. Then "Comet, out" I said and waved my hand to the doorway into the living room. Comet walked out of the room. "Captain out." I said wondering if he would follow, but he began walking in a path of glass and I swooped him up and carried him out of the room. I sent Comet and Captain outside, shut Quimby in the bedroom and then went back to sweep up the glass. Bugsy kept his stay and I handed him treats as I finished the job.

     All these events in my day exercise my dogs obedience skills. These skills are so functional, and I use them daily. Don't ever let anybody tell you that obedience is for the show ring, or for single dogs or dog packs only, or only for weirdos like me who call their dog "smooshy face". Obedience is for every person and dog. It opens a line of communication that will deepen the bond between you and your pet and could save your dogs life someday. Today, obedience definitely helped save my dogs paws from broken glass.