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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oh Omaha

This week I am visiting sunny and snowy Omaha, Nebraska. For those of you readers outside and/or unfamiliar with United States, that is about a 4 hour drive east of my Iowa home. I just finished a basic wildlife rehabilitation class sponsored by the International Wildlife Rehab Council or the IWRC. I also just finished half of a super tasty margarita pizza from Zio's Pizzeria. MMM, good. It is so nice to have a pizza delivered! In Iowa I live far out in the country enough that no pizza place even comes close to delivering to me! This whole trip has been a real treat!

Speaking of treats, I had to stop for goodies at Three Dog Bakery! They have oodles of home made dog treats and even personalized biscuits and cakes! I have to admit I was all in when I saw they could make a personalized carrot cake with peanut butter frosting,.....I forgot to tell you all, but Captains birthday was valentines day....and a cake for Captain would be such a silly sweet treat for my dog crew. Alas, you must allow 3 days for personalized cakes and I didn't discover the bakery until my trip was ending in less time then that. That didn't stop me from picking up some fun treats and even a personalized one for little Captain (I'll snap a pick of him and the special treat when I get back!). The staff was so helpful and even pointed me in the direction of another great dog shop to check out, The Green Spot. Both shops filled to the brim with neat dog toys, food, treats, helpful staff and all manner of other creative dog items us humans can think up.

Back to business, the real reason I am in Omaha isn't to visit dog shops! It is to expand my rehab skills! The instructor IWRC hired for this class, Rebbecca McKeever of Lone Star Wildlife Rescue, was an enthusiastic teacher with lots of experience and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from her. The first day was devoted entirely to lecture and math. The second day was IM (intramuscular, into the muscle) and SQ (Subcutaneous, or under the skin) injections, physical exams, gavage(or tube feeding) and bandaging. I had the pleasure of meeting many people who have interests in saving opossums, raccoons, deer, foxes and even squirrels!

It takes a village. I can tell from some of my conversations that some of these hard working, caring folks are throwing anthropomorphic behavior in with their efforts. This is a great opportunity for me to talk now, as I have before, about anthropomorphic behavior in us humans. We do it all the time! With our dog, our cats, and in the case of a young woman today who described an opossum as being "naughty" for biting her we give the animals in our lives human qualities that they just don't have! I'll give some examples....

The possum was being a naughty boy for biting the person.

The dog got revenge on me for staying out too late by knocking over the trash and making a mess.

The cat loves me and thinks of me as her mother.

When you start thinking about it, it is easy to catch. But it is important that we understand the difference between our desire to expand our relationship with the animals we love one more human like, and that animal actually having that capacity to have that human quality. Sure, we can say that we are Fido's mommy and still know the difference. It may do Fido no harm that you think he thinks he is your mommy. BUT there is a time when these thoughts get people into trouble, because the dog does not have the time traveling brain function that allows him to plan the act of tearing into the trash bin NOW in order to make you feel unhappy LATER because you stayed out too late. A more likely scenario is that Fido got bored and smelled that yummy trash smell from the chicken packaging you threw out. Then, since he was hungry and all nose and stomach he decided to explore that tasty trash bin. MMM.

Then you decide to punish your dog for his 'vengeful' acts, you yell and stomp and say "BAD DOG!" when you come home late that night. So, Fido learns that when you come home late, you are mean and scary. In turn Fido displays appeasing behaviors when you arrive home late. Dogs offering appeasing and/or submissive behaviors to people upon there arrival, after a dog has gotten into the trash for example, leads some to the mistaken conclusion that the dog knew he was doing something wrong and is "apologizing". You see how easy we can get off track here?

When you tell your opossum that you love it, and you call it naughty for biting you, my thoughts jump to wether or not you are doing what really is in the best interest of the wild animal. Lets get it straight that when the opossum bites the human it is being a perfectly appropriate wild opossum. When the human forgets that the wild animal is and always will be wild, we humans can get hurt. 

 I don't mean to come down hard on the caring person who reaches out with their heart to help sick and injured wild animals, animals who may well be sick or injured due to human activity. What I do mean to hammer home is that being aware of our emotions and the role they play in the care of our animals is as important as knowing the science behind the care we rehabilitate them with. As rehab-ers it is our job to set these animals free when safe to do so, to let them know the wild they were born to know, and not burden them with a lifetime of confinement in a human word. Neither is it right to burden ourselves with more permanently injured animals then we can properly care for.

Human imprinting, means that a wild animal learns to think it is a human and/or gets its food from humans and/or should seek out a human as a mate. Animals who are human imprints cannot be released into the wild because they are a danger to themselves and to humans. Human imprinting happens when non trained people take in baby wild animals and care for them. If you find a wild animal baby here are a few things to do...

1. Walk away. In the case of owls, when young birds are fledgling they may become separated from the nest during practice explorations. No doubt the parents are nearby watching over the young owl, but they will stay hidden and not come to care for the baby until you leave the area. If you are still concerned, walk back later, and see if the baby has been moved or as moved himself. Also you can simply place the baby back into the nest if you can locate it. (It is a myth that parents will not accept their young after humans have touched them)
2. Call a rehabilitater. There are professionals that specialize in the care of baby wild animals, and many of us can match a baby with a foster parent. This will ensure that the baby can return to the wild.

All in all I have had a fine time here in Omaha but I am looking forward to being home again, settled in with the dogs tomorrow night. As I'm wrapping up here, with no pictures to share with you this post, now is a good time to share the video my young cousin Emma (a budding videographer perhaps?) shot of our last agility class. In these videos I am working with Captain, who for most of the class was refusing to run through tunnels. Also in these videos you get a glimpse of Michael, who right now is home with the dogs while I am away. As Michael and I got to know each other last summer he picked Wonder Dog as his favorite right away and in these shots he is having a great run with her! Michael is an archeologist, a great cook, and in his own way a budding dog trainer. I'm so grateful for getting to have 2 of my crew run in this agility class!

I have to thank 4rk9s(where this video was taken) and Diana Pesek, for being such a positive force for dogs and training. Diana has been involved in many of the classes I have taken over the years at 4rk9s. Diana is a birder as well as a dog training enthusiast and I happen to know she recently added a  boreal owl to her life list. Awesome!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

meat packing

     Today I became aware of a dog food recall affecting a brand I often recommend for folks who are interested in trying raw but aren't ready to home prepare. Natures Variety makes kibble, canned, freeze dried and raw food for dogs and cats. Even after this recall, I still recommend them. Trying pre-made raw is a good first step for lots of people thinking of making the leap away from kibble. I am a strong advocate for dog people doing their own research and coming to their own conclusions. There is no 1 right way to feed your dog/s! So I was dismayed, though not surprised, when I read comments about this recall on Dog Food Advisor. A commenter said "...I'd trust a dog food like Brothers Complete or Honest Kitchen before I'd trust 80% of the home food preparers out there."
Wow. To me this statement is nonsensical. I don't have to trust 99% of the home prepare/raw feeders out there. The only person I have to trust is me. The only person you have to trust, if you decide to home prepare/raw feed your dog is YOU! And that is the beauty of the diet.

Making your dogs food means
*You know where your meat comes from because it came from your butcher, your grocery, your farmer friend down the road, meat service website or packing plant, a source that YOU have decided is good enough for your dog.
*You know where your vegetables came from because they came from: your garden, your farmers market, your food pantry, a label of human grade food that you trust.
*You know what the ingredients are because you put them in the bowl.
*You know what is not in the bowl....because you didn't put it in there.

     Point being, when you buy a bag of kibble there are so many people you are silently agreeing to trust. All the hands that went into the making of that food, all the equipment, the transportation, the changing of hands. If you make your own pets food the only person you have to trust is yourself.

     There is this idea that we can't do it. Well, gee whiz, here is this bag that says it is "complete and balanced" nutrition for Fido.....How could I possibly know how to make something "complete and balanced".  The truth of the matter is we humans have a complicated set of dietary requirements ourselves, such that dieticians and health coaches could go on and on about those nutritional requirements. Somehow most of us are able to feed human babies, toddlers, children and ourselves meal after home made meal(okay, some of us more so than others tee-hee: ). Still we survive and even thrive. So can our dogs! I am in the position to see that eating liver and chicken thighs with skin for too long makes Bugsy's coat greasy. I am in the position to see that if I feed raw whole necks of any species larger than chicken to 2 out of 5 of my dogs for more than 1 meal in a row, 2 (those 2 being Wonder and Comet)of them will hack up neck bones that are too much for them to digest in that time period. These are my dogs. I know my dogs. I have learned so much from feeding them myself! Not to mention the health benefits I see in them! The fresh breath, the bright eyes and healthy desire to get outside and move. Soft shiny coats and clean teeth.
You make your own decisions about your dog. Don't let people who aim to blame home feeders as no nothings detract from your mission to know something, to know more! Know more about the food for your dog and stay away from letting your house be touched by the scary statistics of lethally contaminated kibble.

 Stepping down off my soap box  now.......
I cut bison heart into each dogs share with kitchen scissors
Captain's portion
     Speaking of dog food, I have found that it is a never ending mission to supply myself with enough food for 5 dogs. Unless I stock up, I am picking up sale items at every grocery store sale, and ordering at every opportunity with MPC or with local raw feeding groups. So to start out my year I decided to give myself a break from constant shopping and to order from all possible avenues at the same time and estimate the maximum capacity of my 2 chest freezers and 1/2 of my kitchen refrigerator's freezer space as well. First I started by cleaning out and reorganizing my freezer space. Then, I stocked to the absolute brim of my storage capacity. Even expanding to some dehydrated dry goods in my vitals vault as well.

Here's a list of my inventory when I was fully loaded.

Frozen Goods
12 bags of 4 chicken feet
2- 3 gallon ziplock bags of deer organ and muscle meat
4 -1 gallon ziplock bags of deer bones
50lbs of 1 lb bags of ground beef
3 - 10lb bags of beef heart chunks
2  - 5lb bags of beef lung
3 - 5lb bags of young beef chunksw/bone
4 bags 1 beef tongue each
12- 4inch cut pieces of beef trachea
 6- 1/2lb tubs of ground whole duck
30lbs of duck necks
12lbs of ground turkey
2 -3packs of turkey necks
4- 1/2 pound tubs of ground turkey necks (with ground bone)
1lb chicken liver
3 small whole chickens
30lbs of chicken thighs
30lbs of chicken in pieces sorting into 5lb bags.including necks, backs, thighs, and wings
2 - 1lb bags of rabbit feet
30lbs of lamb hearts
2 - 2lb tubs of ground lamb supreme mix- contains lamb breast and ribs, liver, heart, tripe, kidney
20lbs white roughy (fish) fillets
2-2lb tubs of course ground whole whiting(fish)
10lbs bison rib bones
12lbs bison heart
10bs bison liver
12 small cut beef marrow bones
1 package of cheapo cheese filled hot dogs - for use as training treats(cut into small pieces when used)
Dry Goods
1-1/2lb bag bone meal
1/2lb dehydrated duck feet
16oz dried lamb liver
"carnivore trail mix"-dehydrated beef tripe, chicken liver, beef trachea and organs
Canine wellness blend -herbal supplement- I also have the feline blend
Sojo's turkey dog food mix - my new choice over kibble for non-raw friendly pet sitters
Zukes mini naturals training treats
Natural Balance biscuits in regular and small breed size. I like the small breed size for training treats.
2 cans of pumkin
2 cans of salmon
1 jar each of dried kale, tomatoes and basil from my garden.

(side note: my 2 cats also feast on this mother load of meat)

My sources:
-Big Dan's - can't beat the prices
-My Pet Carnivore-(MPC)rare finds and meat purchases you can feel good about, like free range and grass fed lamb
-Pothoffs-No web link for this one. A local group of raw feeders orders over the phone from here in bulk about every 3 months
-My local grocery store and farmers markets.
-A farmer friend- Know your farmers people! When they over load their freezers with heart and liver and bone they just might call you to unload it!
A friend with a hunting license and/or a friend who hit a deer on the road and had it butchered.
NOTE: Use caution when taking food from hunters. Avoid meat killed with lead shot or use with caution. Lead shot scatters throughout the meat and ends up in what your dog (or you) could be eating. Lead poisoning can be serious especially if ingested by a small animal. I see birds, most often bald eagles, suffering from it all to often at work. Bald Eagles feast on gut piles left out by hunters, or on deer that the shooter never found. When the eagles ingest the lead it poisons them and they often die even when they are lucky enough to be found and taken to a proper rehabilitation and veterinary care center. Here is a video clip of my boss talking about the eagles in the MRP flight cage right now.

 But enough about eagles......
                 I wont be shopping for dog food for a while yet. Thank goodness!
                                                                   Nothing like the feeling of being all stocked up! 

Dog craft 

Check it out! This is an old couch cushion cleverly disguised as a dog bed thanks to a coffee bean bag. I threw this couch out a over year ago but kept the cushions. When I realized the coffee bean bag fit perfectly over top a new dog bed was born. I picked up this coffee bean bag-yes actually used to transport coffee beans in- at my local bean roasting coffee house.

 As promised Wonder dog in her monster sweater......
My little monster

Wonder Dog in her reflective/waterproof coat
     Miles received this robe as a gift from my boss who got it in a gift exchange. It was too small for any of her dogs. It is utterly hilarious to see him lounging around in a robe. I'm sure he will grow out of it soon. Miles also got a new collar this week. His black lupine collar has gone missing, and while a few suspects are under suspicion of chewing it off of him during play no evidence has been found. While out on a socializing adventure at a local pet supply store we found a handsome brown, red, white and black plaid (color called Tartan on the website) collar made by Bison Designs. Bison Designs makes survival accessories and other sturdy looking items. This collar seems tough, and appears to be made out of a very similar material as the lupines are. Don't worry, I'll let you know how this collar stands up to 4 dogs and a puppy.
On a related note, I am very thankful for lupine collars guaranteed even if chewed policy. Miles is chewing up his 2nd harness. The 1rst harness I sent back to lupine after it fell apart because he was chewing the seem. They sent me a replacement in no time.
 Here is a few pictures from my walk this morning with a friend and her little poodle. As you can see Miles is not eager to sniff or play with the other dog. But at least he was able to focus on sits and downs and had a nice leash walk with minimal snarking.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pack up

Left to Right: Chula, Scooby, Gypsy and Caly
    This week in blogging I wanted to share some love for the multi-dog household. I called upon friends with dogs to share pictures of their dog crews. Some of these dogs (and their people) I know really well, others I know just a little. I am so happy to know so many different dog families and I invite all whose pictures are featured to share a little info about their dogs in the comment section of the blog if they desire. Some of the dogs featured are flyball and agility athletes while others are couch potatoes. Some were born to breeders and came with papers and still many others are rescue dogs. Some of these dogs regularly share their home with children, cats, rats, foster dogs other pets.
Jasper, Nicki, Zoe, Bridget,and Betty .
     It seems like more and more people are keeping more and more dogs these days. While I've heard friends jokingly say I have "an obscene amount of dogs", having a pack is a lot of fun and more common then ever according to articles in BARK magazine and trends among rescue volunteers and friends. Having a group is also a lot of work. I have this image in my mind of a well dressed woman in make up and perfect hair smiling as she leisurely holds 6 loose leashes. Hey, it could happen! I think more often any of us with 3 or more dogs is likely playing frequent fetch, taking trips to the dog park or other open land where it is safe to run ,and while sure we are taking our crew on leash walks, I think I can speak for the lot of us when I say more often then not we don't take them all out together all the time. Perfect hair? Make-up? Instead maybe a stocking cap and waterproof footwear.

Rayn and Mazy
          Here is how we role in my crew-
Bugsy and Comet walk well together (after much practice) and often accompany me on hikes or long walks
Wonder walks best by herself as her wild enthusiasm seems to be contagious and she excites any dog she walks with. She walks much more calmly if she is the only dog on the only leash in your hand.
Captain can walk with anybody, but he follows the same rules as Wonder, getting excited, pulling and barky if he is with the group. Captain walks best alone or with just Comet or just Bugsy.
Miles is still figuring out that the leash doesn't disappear when he sees a leaf blowing in the wind. I have sometimes walked him with Captain, but he often tackles Captain and chases his butt-fur, which annoys the heck out of Captain.

     While I do occasionally refer to my dogs as a "pack" I more often call them my "dog crew". I hear the word pack thrown around in misleading ways, for example during a trip to the dog park a mans dog ran near mine as we walked around the park and he commented "they really seem to want to pack up". As if a sniff of the bum at a park creates a bond we could call a pack. Or maybe any group of dogs running together is a "pack" when, in that moment, they are together and running. Also because of some TV stars who use the term "pack" we see people saying they are the "pack leader" which to some equates to a status symbol that may or may not involve physical manipulation of your dog such as the "alpha role" a maneuver I have come to believe to be misguided at best. That said, I do think it is imperative that we are leaders in our households and teach our dogs how to enjoy life in this very human world. The term pack when discussing wolves describes a group of related individuals who roam and hunt together.
Posieden and Pandora

Cane and Angel
    However you manage your dogs, one thing is certain it takes a level of management beyond what is needed for any single dog. Any single dog household many feed their dog wherever they like, with out concern for any other wondering dog gulping up food that doesn't belong to them. A single dog household will not have concern for one dog exciting another(and another and....). In the multi-dog household issues of personal space, resource management, frustration tolerance and contagious excitability can all come into play.

    For instance, Comet was a very food aggressive puppy. With work conditioning him that good things happen when when I take food or bones away from him, he has given up the habit of growling and snarling at people to protect things in his mouth. Still Comet always prefers to eat where he can't see another dog, and if no person is watching that is good too. He will carry his food away from others if given that chance. So I feed him away from the group, outside or in a separate room so he never feels he needs to act out protect his food.
Brian and Zelda

     Having an understanding of what motivates or scares each dog is important when managing a group. Learning to understand subtle body movements, like facial tension and eye contact can help you avoid or manage conflict among dogs, but these signs can be anything but obvious.Boning up on your animal behavior knowledge is a big step in the right direction and don't be afraid to seek out professional training advice if you have exhausted the limits of your own knowledge.
Feeling outnumbered? is a great book to start your dog crew learning journey. It's full of helpful tips about how to avoid conflicts for example in high traffic, high arousal areas like the front door, where everybody wants to get out to play. For more reading suggestions to help you manage your pack check out the reading list at the bottom of the blogger page.

Hope, Taylor, Sealy, Julia, Lark and Gracie
     Another important part of managing a pack is understanding that dogs, like humans, change over time. The sweet submissive puppy who easily rolls over for the pushy adult, may one day become a pushy adult himself. When this happens some of us can be taken off guard, so be prepared for changes in your dogs as they move through age stages and physical changes such as going from a small puppy to a much bigger adult dog, or going from an enthusiastic playful adult to a quieter more sensitive senior.
Cambria and Stella

 Preparing  meals

Zeus and Ray
Gretta and Wally
               While I prepare meals my dogs are expected to sit, lay or stand quietly. Pacing, barking, jumping up, trying to steal food as I prepare it or skirmishes between dogs while I prep their meal results in the offending dog being quietly and calmly taken to their kennel or feeding area to wait while food prep is finished. Where each dog eats changes as the dog crew changes. Right now, Miles eats in what used to be Captains kennel in the living room. Wonder Dog eats in her kennel in the living room. Captain eats in the bathroom. Comet eats in the green room(a sitting room essentially) and Bugsy eats in the kitchen near the food prep area.  Each dog is expected to sit, and wait at least a few seconds before receiving an "okay" command from me to begin eating. This is a great way to insert some obedience and patience practice into your daily routine. Bugsy has been doing this so long, that our routine now is I put his food bowl down and walk out of the room (after giving the hand signal for wait) with Comets food. On a few occasions Bugsy didn't hear me say "okay, Bugsy" and I began talking or was distracted and have come back to the kitchen to see Bugsy eying me from his down position with a puddle of drool on the floor. Always, when he begins to eat after I release him I say "good boy, Bugsy". This, among other efforts, builds an association with the words "good boy!" and the happy feeling of chewing on his dinner.  Remember dogs aren't born to understand "good boy!".
Zues, Maggie and Loki

A few of my favorite things-

Zia and Suki

Dog motif daybreak scuffs from L.L.Bean. Seriously comfortable and warm these.....are they shoes or are they slippers? They are both!.....are great for slipping on in a hurry when you are potty training a puppy in the middle of winter.
Duchess and Bandit
Muttroplis, get passed the current website cover photo of a small dog in a dress and check out the great selection of sturdy collars. Search in the "collections" section on the right of the page for "Eco Friendly Dog products" and trust in a great customer service policy. Add some urban flare to your mutts at discount prices by watching for your wish list item to drop to the clearance price under the sale section of the collections category.


When I decided to try hiking with Comet and Wonder together, I was glad I had this EZ step shock adsorbing leash on hand. I nearly ended my hike well before any of us was done hiking because Wonder dog became more and more excited. Omigoodness a rabbit! A squirrel! Another hiker, Weeee! The JRT influence was coming out in spades.  I had to decide to give in and let her pull on her harness/leash and keep on hiking or end the hike. On this day my desire for my own exercise and enjoyment beat out my training goals and we hiked on. Thanks to a shock absorbing leash my back and shoulder didn't suffer the wrath of Wonders erratic behavior that day.

A good story....
     Mazy and Rayn were adopted last fall by newly engaged couple (Congrats!!!) Kellie and Sean. Soon to be first time dog owners the couple visited shelters and Kellie spent a lot of time on the internet looking at Petfinder.com. When Kellie and Sean met their dog-to-be now named Rayn at an animal shelter it was love at first play! Rayn was so happy to interact with them she bounced around quietly. She played with toys. It was clear they found their match. They took her home as soon as the shelter allowed, and on the way out the staff mentioned that Rayn had a sister who would miss her.

     As the days turned into weeks and the couple struggled with the issues a first dog can bring, potty training and chewing issues mostly. When they took Rayn to the vet and got some startling news, Rayn had been shot several times and likely beaten. Several of her broken back teeth had to be removed. The vet said she had received repeated blunt trauma to her face. As the history of Rayns past became clearer and the couple struggled to keep up with the young beagle/coon hound mix the thought of her sister alone in the shelter, and Rayns sad past haunted Kellie.

     Weeks after adopting Rayn, Kellie and Sean returned to the shelter and adopted sister Mazy. Mazy too had been shot, the vet determined. But now, in good health and in a safe home, the two sisters are flourishing. No doubt there was some potty training set backs with Rayn after Mazy moved in when Mazy began her training from scratch, but the two sisters play together and wear each other out better then a neighborhood walk could ever do. From human only house to multi-dog household- congrats to Kellie and Sean for adopting a pair of adorable muttly sisters.


Also, congrats to the Dougls-Cox crew(featured at the top of the page) for their 5th and newest addition Khaleesi who I couldn't help but include here. She is so dang cute!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I'm back!

Bugsy and Comet in the office chewing beef femurs

     Wow! I'm back. After a long unplanned break I'm eager to start blogging again! Sorry I've been away! These last months have been a roller coaster and a marathon. Lots has happened that has kept me very busy. As you know, I accepted a position at the MacBride Raptor Project(MRP)and have been enjoying my work there. In these past couple months lots of office work has kept me at a desk and out of the cold. The plus side of inside is getting to bringing my dogs to work with me as often as I like! Up until a month ago in addition to working at MRP I was also continuing to work full time at the group home as well as being a part time student. Add a special someone and the dog pack into the mix and I'm sure you can understand my having difficulty finding time to blog!
Captain in the farm field
     Even more important then all the busyness in my life these past months I must acknowledge the huge losses that I felt in 2012. Long time readers you know about the tough time I had losing my client whom I cared for during a sensitive period in her life. She passed away within a few days of my dog Harry passing. This was a very difficult time for me and it somewhat prepared me for the future ahead.

     2012 then felt the loss of a friend, Rilda Fish who was active in dog agility, a blog reader and an all around good woman. A shock wave was sent through my family when we lost my 16 year old cousin Clayton Johnstone in a car accident. There is just not enough I can say about this loss.Any of these losses. There are not the right words to express.. It is hard to start saying anything about loss because there is such a feeling of inadequacy when you try to describe any life of any person in a few short sentences in a blog. But these losses must be mentioned. Must be acknowledged. 3 good people who touched my life left this word in 2012, and I miss them all. I look at the decisions I have made, and see the reflections of my grief in them. Looking now at all 5 of my dogs, I think adding 3 dogs to the pack in one year was an unreasonable decision. Examining my behavior I come to conclude that it is no coincidence that I added 3 dogs to my household in a year when I lost 3 people. Of course I also lost ole Harry dawg too. As I carry on blogging I wont weigh down my posts with sad reflections on the people I have lost, and I wont recommend that you join me in having a 5 dog household(It is fun!), but I do hope that when you experience loss it can be few and far between.

Rilda Fish.      Lori Anne Shaver.      Clayton Michael Johnstone.        
I remember you.

     And Harry dawg, I remember you too. 

I miss you all. 

     So I guess you're wondering about the 5th addition....... Did I finally bag a border collie? Jump for a pure Jack Russel? Have I picked a giant? A Bernese!? A Newfoundland? Oh no. None of those. To my credit adding a giant dog would have added too much expense just now and I'm trying to save up for a really nice, fence that will cover the expanse of my yard. A scruffy Jack Russel or a black and white border collie would be a thrill but with all these dogs that would be a mistake. How would I ever keep up with all that energy? A senior dog is what I should have added to the pack, but would a senior dog enjoy making a life with my rowdy bunch? It would have taken a special senior for sure. Instead.....

Meet Miles!

Miles is proof that I am a sucker. A social worker friend of mine was working with a family who had a stray dog deliver puppies in their garage and she asked for my help. My friend was persistent so after recruiting help for the task I agreed to take the mother and all three pups as fosters. But when I arrived to pick them up, only this little guy was waiting for me. At 6 weeks old I was disappointed he was separated from his siblings. But the family had given the other dogs away.
At 6 weeks old Miles weighed less than 4 pounds. He needed to eat 4 times a day and couldn't be left alone for long. So, he went everywhere with me. He slept in my lap while I did office work. He rode in the car while I ran errands. He came to work with me every day at MRP. My boss and coworkers took him out to potty when I was busy or played with him when they needed a break. When I worked at the group home my special someone would take him to work with him. And we both became very attached. For the first several weeks we looked for homes for him but as time went on, it became harder and harder to think about letting him go. How could nobody want this adorable little guy? How could I not want him?
7 weeks old

Miles chewing the Kangaroo
     I got to see a picture of Miles' mother and his siblings. I think his mom looks like a Lhasa Apso. A grooming instructor who works on campus thinks Miles looks like a Lhasa Apso/Schnauzer mix and after looking up photos on Google, I can't say I disagree. So that's what we are going with, Miles Orson Cuddles, the Lhasa Apso Schnauzer mix. It helped his case that while visiting friends in Minneapolis this fall, I got to spend time with their senior Lhasa Apso mix whom they had just recently adopted and doted on entirely. Roadie, their Lhasa mix, put a soft spot in my heart. Miles' black and tan coloring and that black nose sometimes reminds me of Harry and the fact that he is likely a mini schnauzer mix makes me think of Rilda.

     I was so disappointed when there was only one lonely young puppy for me. I know the damage that can be done behaviorally when puppies are separated from each other too early. Puppies learn frustration tolerance and bite inhibition among other things from their litter mates, at 6 weeks old the lessons were just beginning.(Ideal age to take a puppy from the litter = 10-12weeks) I see these affects in Miles behavior. He is very sensitive to change, quick tempered and easily scared in new situations. I am working hard to socialize him, and he is not taking to new things as easily as I would like. Seeing an unfamiliar dog frightens him, also he became very startled when he saw a tall bald man. Instead of being curious he is more often scared of new situations and though he will eventually warm up and "be himself" he often starts by cowering, growling or hiding. He doesn't do these things at home of course, here he is an outgoing bundle of cuddles, wiggles and fun. I take it as a challenge to do everything I can to help this little guy become a confident member of the world. Fearful dogs have so much to teach us. I am eagerly jumping in to learn new things myself while I teach him.

                               ......What else is going on in the pack?

     Wonder Dog and Captain are taking Beginning Agility 1 at 4RK9's and both dogs are having a blast! Captain is easily the most adorable student (biased? maybe:) and Wonder may be one of the smartest and very likely the highest jumping. Bugsy and Comet and I continue to hike as we can and today after a lovely hike we headed home at dusk AND what did I see but a big mamma of a barred owl perched on a wire above the road scanning the ditch for prey! I slowed my vehicle to get the best view and it flew across the street to another wire further away from me. I was so pleased to see this! I see barred owls every day at work, no doubt. But it is something very different to see a healthy bird in the wild living out its wild predatory legacy. Also, barred owls are my favorite!

In other news....
     Wonder Dog is not enjoying the cold, and while the male dogs, who also happen to have plenty of coat, are happy to trot out to pee on the tree and the fence posts again and again, Wonder often runs away from the door when I give the invite "Wanna go outside?". Still, Wonder will go out when she needs to go and has no accidents inside. Even her embroidered coat or her monster sweater can't convince her to go out in these below freezing temperatures. I better snap some shots of her in her sweater and coat for you. 
That's right, I've got a dog with a sweater again.
Today the high was 21degrees.

     I'm still feeding raw of course and Miles has been eating raw since he first arrived here at 6 weeks old. It has served him well and he is now weighing in at almost 9 pounds! I just filled my freezers, so I will try to be diligent at photographing my meals to share with you all. Veggies are out of season,....no gardens growing in these below freezing temperatures, so I'm not feeding vegetables very often at all. A couple times a month at most. I am trying a new supplement that is going over well called canine wellness blend. I mix it in when I serve ground meat. Also I have been adding coconut oil this winter to help keep the dog crews coats in good luster in this dry winter.

New favorite dog toy?
The Wool Kangaroo by aussie naturals it is stuffed with coconut fibers and made of tough wool. The cotton rope can be damaged more easily if you have a persistant chewer but the treat pocket is fun and all in all this is a sturdy tug and chew toy. I like it because many dog mouths can fit on it at once.
HINT: I put a squeaker in the treat pocket instead of a treat to keep the dogs from ripping the pocket off.

What a face!
Longing for pancakes
snuggle smugglers

snow city

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Snap Happy

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play time puppy

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