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

Monday, March 25, 2013

I learned it from watching you!

Wonder sporting her horse blanket style dog coat. Captain sports his natural coat.

There is so much information out there! So much to learn! Where do we start?!
 Where do we move on to once we think we know a thing or two?
This week I learned from my own mistakes. After reading through a previous blog entry I realized that I'm really in a rut. Here I am, with a house full of dogs, telling you and myself that, this dog walks best here, and this dog walks best on leash with this dog, and this dog gets to do this. After a long winter stuck in my routines leave it to spring to help me break out.

Post hike Miles snuggles in a towel.
With out a doubt it is important for me to know that for example, Comet is easily excited by people petting him and that he is likely bark if his head is being petted in a moment of excitement so I should discourage people petting his head, or petting him at all, during moments of high arousal if I don't want him to bark. Instead of letting that keep me from ever matching him as a travel companion with Captain who hears the bark and lets out a loud howl himself, instead of that I should practice with them together of course!

snowy hike.
I finally bagged myself a planner for my year in dogs. With 5 dogs, and two cats don't forget, in the house it is absolutely necessary to keep a calendar or planner with notes of who needs vaccinations, or flea treatment as well as vet appointment dates and when I might give out a heart-worm preventative. Last year my calendar was ity bity. Small enough to stuff in the tiny corner of a treat cubby and forget about it when I didn't need it. I had to abbreviate all dogs names, and anything else that needed documented because there just wasn't room to right. This year I picked up a calendar planner with at least a paragraph of space to write in each day and I have dubbed it my "Activity Manager". Every day I document what I did with each dog. When I started this I had an idea that it might help arrange my activities to ensure that if I skipped a dogs walk one day, that same dog wouldn't get skipped again soon after. But the results of my record keeping have already gone well above my expectations. I should have known! I have recently been reading "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. The book is full of exmples about how habits affect our lives, and can change them for the better or keep them in a rut for the worse. In one example a group of dieters was asked to keep a daily journal of all the food they ate. In the end all those that did keep the journals, they made a habit of them, lost weight. Perhaps because they were in the habit of thinking about the food they were eating. In the case of my dogs and our "Activity Manager" I have found myself not only successfully knocking out all daily walks, but I'm doing it in new places I have never gone to before. I have found myself taking note of where I have been and that I like to do new things,(huh, imagine that!). Also I have found that when I make the extra effort to go new places I have more fun, so do the dogs, and I find myself less often coming home from work and looking at the dog crew like a daunting to do list. Here is some of my daily entries ....

Friday- Captain, Miles and Comet to farm-Comet 15 ft retracto leash, Miles and Captain off leash in feild
Bugsy and Wonder short walk to park in AM
Bugsy and Wonder Long hike in natural area
Saturday-(cold, rain, slush and snow) Bugsy car ride, shopping trip to petco/petsmart obiedence in stores
All dogs 10 minute training sessions
Sunday- Captain and Miles spent the day at Raptor Clinic with me and had beef stuffed kongs mid-day -Wonder dog-walk around block in AM and walk in park PM-Comet and Bugsy had a long walk down the gravel road, saw 1 raptor and several deer
Miles off leash back and forth from mailbox
Tuesday- Wonder meaty bone to chew in her kennel during the day-Captain and Miles at raptor clinic,lots of people in and out playing with dogs today, raw bones in afternoon and short walk through campus end of day- Bugsy and Comet short walk around neighborhood
Wednesday - Miles went to office with Michael during the day-Wonder dog short walk in AM-Wonder and Captain walk in PM- Miles off leash to mailbox- Bugsy and Comet walk to park
 Thursday- Wonder dog and Jeni run a mile then short walk, Miles walk around the neighborhood, Captain Bugsy and Comet walk to park together.
Friday- Captain and Comet come to raptor clinic, have raw bones to chew in afternoon, get pets and love from janitorial staff and get a short walk around campus end of day, Wonder, Miles and Bugsy get kong puzzle toys while I am at work with C and C. Bugsy and Jeni run a mile then short walk.
Saturday-Wonder, Bugsy and Comet raw bones to chew in AM, Captain and Miles come to Coffee shop with Micheal and Jeni then a walk around post office park, Comet and Bugsy walk to park and around neighborhood, Wonder Long leash walk in the wild wood secret spot.

..........You get the idea. This is just a few of my entries, but you can see from just this that I have begun to try new things like "post office park" (which is actually a park I don't know the name of that is near the post office) and "wild wood secret spot" a place I have been wanting to go but hadn't dared, until now! You don't have to have 5 dogs to make this idea work for you. Trying new things with your dog is good for both of you! Also, having the habit in place of tracking activity of the dog crew will make me more likely to take note, literally, of concerning or positive behavior changes, diet issues or events that effect the dogs. Which reminds me I have to keep that puppy gate up to block the puppy from the basement until I can get that box of old records out of there! Miles keeps peeing on it, even though otherwise he is successfully potty trained. (Have I just doomed myself by declaring that?!?! Oh geez!)

---------diet plan----------------------
Good ole facebook (FB) popped this to my attention this week. This is a colorful and eye catching poster from Dr Peter Dobias, you can see his website address is attached to the image and I don't think I am breaking any copy right laws sharing this with you. Since I am saying to you that this is his poster, which he shared publicly on FB. Anyway,...This poster says "Carrots may cause problems with digestion in dogs" I can't get behind that statement. This poster caused a flurry of comments and speculation, friend him on FB to see for yourself. Many of the comments came from dog owners who were shocked and proclaimed to immediately stop feeding carrots to their dogs as they had been for some time. Others stated that they had fed carrots with success and wondered what the fuss was about. Here is what I know with absolute certainty - I have fed carrots raw, dehydrated and cooked. I have fed them from a can, I have fed them from my garden, I have fed them from the farmers market. I have fed them organic and "natural" and just plain regular. I have noticed that if you feed them raw in large chunks or offer as a whole carrot for a dog to chew that it will come out the other end just as it came in. In this case the carrot plays a role of filling the stomach(along with other foods!), for a doggy on a diet perhaps, also some claim this can help clean the teeth. I have read in a holistic care guide for pets that raw finely grated carrots can aide in digestion (fiber, more easily accessible) when your dog is constipated. I have used this method when I suspected digestive issues. For example when Comet was observed trying to go, but not going and licking his rear frequently I finely grated carrots and apples onto boneless meat and added sea salt and dried sage. During this time I also made sure he had at least 2 short walks a day. I then observed that Comet was able to "eliminate" and the licking problem subsided.
I might feed carrots, in one way or another once every two months, or several times a week and not, in my opinion, to the detriment of my dogs. Some of Dr Dobias ideas are worth a look into, his holistic sense makes him a far cry from the old school country vet I use, but lets be accurate.Lets eliminate scare tactics and hard and fast rules that don't fit into the working reality of a home preparing dog feeder. Later on his page Dr Dobias wrote "They are not harmful, they are just hard to digest for most dogs." Let this be a reminder to a lesson you already know, do your own research to back up claims of others. Don't throw out the carrots the instant you see a pretty poster protesting them.

Know your dog. 

Know your food.

Know your dog food.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

This week in dogs...

This week in dogs....I'm awash with my love for Bugsy. I'm just gooshy for all my dogs, and have no need to pick a favorite. Likely it is because, of all the crew, Bugsy and I have been together the longest, we've gone camping, hiking, backpacking, running, tried all manner of dog classes, including herding, agility, flyball and obedience. Bugsy knows me so well, and I know him so well. I wont fool myself, or you, by saying he listens to everything I say and immediately obeys any command anywhere. He is not a robot dog.

Bugsy is laying at my feet right now. Today him and I went for a mile run together and had the kind of post run love fest that only him and I can have. Bugsy is so aussie, and by that I mean, he just adores me. Aussies are known for being "velcro dogs", they just want to be everywhere there person is. Bugsy is so rewarded by receiving affection from me, he just gushes with happy wiggles when I drum pat my belly inviting him to put his paws up on me, he does a sort of happy snort and bobs his head up and down then if he gets really excited, like if for example I am rubbing his back and petting him in an excited happy manner, soon he will begin to nip at my clothes. The nipping is the point at which we have to calm down some so he doesn't let the teeth go crazy.Because I know his limits, I know where to stop and I think he also knows.
Wonder Dog and Comet- post hike in a muddy park in Iowa City.

Today Wonder and I started a flyball class, and as I observed her reactions to new faces, and activities I reflected on how Bugsy reacted to those same things some years ago. I can recall very clearly how he reacted, HE BARKED! He barked and lunged and had to be constantly stimulated, distracted and rewarded for the smallest good behaviors because when a dog ran by him, it was extremely difficult for him to control himself. I remember feeling overwhelmed at times. Remember Bugsy is a dog who, in younger years, chewed some of my wall off, destroyed a billion toys, barked, jumped, barked and BARKED. Bugsy has matured so much, and become this amazing dog with whom I have this wonderful line of communication with. We can move through a room, a field or a hiking trail together and read each other so well. A tip of the hand, head or a click of my tongue means a stop, a turn this way, or that. I remember being supremely frustrated with this same dog in his younger years, when we had less communication established, and he had energy that seemed to overflow. So to those out there with young overflowing dogs who keep you on your toes until your wits end, take heart. It wont be long until you are looking back on those few short years, laughing and maybe even missing them.

As I mentioned Wonder Dog and I are taking a flyball class! Whoop! Whoop! I'm so darn eager to see her progress over time. I am also pleased to be working on bettering the relationship between Wonder Dog and I. Ever since Wonder took that agility class, and was handled by Michael not me, she has leaned very much in his direction. The class is being taught by members of local flyball teams Skidmarkz and Disorderly Conduct.  Wonder loved all the team members and had no trouble scheming plenty of treats from every one of them. I could tell that Wonder was, as expected, somewhat nervous during the length of the class. Another thing I am eager to see in her, besides her ability to complete the goals of the class, is an increase in confidence. First class done, we had fun. As I walked out the training building door with my dog I couldn't help but wonder if the teams are actively looking for members and if they discussed their favorite hopefuls once we had all filed out.

Meet Sprinkles

This is Sprinkles, she is just 8 months old, a Pekingese and is adoptable through Peke N Chin rescue Midwest. This young dog, cute as she is, suffers from fainting spells due to the extent to which her face is flat. Flatter and flatter faces have become more en vogue over the years and breeders have been able to create these flat faced dogs by purposely breeding the flattest faces pups of one litter to the flattest faced pups of another litter. Flat faced dog breeds are called Brachycephalic breeds. These breeds, such as the bulldog and pekingese, so often have specific breathing problems due the shortness of their faces, the health condition has been called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. You often see these dogs with their tongues hanging out because, like a hot dog in the summer time, they are trying to cool themselves, trying to breath and are getting that big tongue out of the way. This physical feature, the very flat face, wound not occur in dogs in nature. This is a man made feature breeders have selected to recreate and exaggerate. As you can see this young peke, Sprinkles, is similar looking to the now well known Malachy who won the Westminster Best in Show 2012.  Malachy had to be carried part way onto the carpet for the show, and after winning the show needed to spend time resting on a cold pack in order to keep cool. As you may know dogs keep cool by panting, something this Peke Malachy has trouble doing. Yet, he won the championship and now will be a coveted stud dog for life, fathering many expensive puppies. Many of those puppys, or all of them, will suffer the same physical set backs, having trouble keeping their body temperature at normal levels, and having trouble doing the most basic of necessary functions our bodies and the bodies of our dogs perform...BREATHING. When asked on The View(see interview below) about if Malachy has breathing troubles the owner replied, after having carried his dog on stage, "you have to watch them in the heat, but he has no trouble" and  David Fry host of the kennel club dog show added "he only has to get from the couch to the food dish". 
My question to them would be, what level of quality is there to a life only able to breath well enough to make it from the couch to the food dish?

Crufts banned the winning pekingese from contending in the champion ship due to physical characteristics causing health problems. Surgery is available to some dogs who need correction to there airways in order to keep them breathing more properly. The BBC documentary "Pedigree Dog Exposed" and the more recent Pedigree Dogs exposed 3 years after touch on the subject and the movies are worth watching if you would like to inform yourself of the scale to which aesthetics are pursued over physical health and well being in the show world, and the ways in which that is and is not changing over time. Sprinkles will no doubt make a wonderful addition to a special home that understands her needs. She is available for adoption through Peke N Chin Rescue Midwest. 
These two links provide viewing of Pekingese in a silent movie in 1932 and pekingese racing in 1964 and both are a hoot to view. I am so very glad that Captain, my beloved Pekingese, has no breathing troubles. Because he is a pekingese he has different needs then my other dogs, including regularly cleaning his face wrinkles with a dry clothe and monitoring him more carefully in extreme heat.
Weirdest thing I fed my dogs this week..........
Raw bison heart with sauerkraut and blueberries. 
Some of you may have noticed a growing trend on Facebook. Citizens are creating FB pages to represent states and you can post pictures of your lost dog on the page to share across your area. I am on board for this, as anything that helps lost dogs be returned home is a very good thing.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dingle Berries

Dingle Berries

Nothing is worse then relaxing after a good house cleaning to realize that your dog brought a little poo back inside with him. Poor Captain, he ran inside and went right to the corner and sat, sat right in what he brought in with him. He couldn't have helped it really. The snow was piling up out there, and when he curved his rump to do his business the "bloomers" (a.k.a. his butt fur) must have splayed out behind him neatly and caught all his droppings. His droppings having been the remnants of a meal heavy in veggies was a little softer than usual and so stuck to his bloomers which he then rushed inside and sat on, smooshing the problem further into his fur. Discovering the smoosh face had stink butt I sent him back outside to ensure all his business had been done, while I set up for a bath.

Later that night, 
      Captains luck changed...
                   I gave him his special 
     birthday biscuit from 
     Three Dog Bakery.

tee hee hee.
He couldn't believe his round little eyes. For someone who "dogs" her readers about science blog in and blog out, you might think I would forgo the silliness of a birthday biscuit with frosting that is made to look like chocolate. But no, science dork though I am, silly and fun go hand in hand with anything dog. I just couldn't resist. In the end I smashed the biscuit into pieces and all the dogs each got a good chunk. As you can see from the pictures Captain had plenty of biscuit to share!

Here are a few other biscuits I picked up in Omaha.  
They are cute and the dogs loved them, but the icing(I think) ran a number on Bugsy's stomach and
 soon I was giving another bath due to dingle berries. 

The humidity in the bathroom fogged up the camera lens.

It really seems a silly time to give a bath. Both days the bathes were given the snow was falling and the temperature dropping. I don't have any sort of dryer that I use on the dogs so they just dry slowly over time. As spring approaches the snow will turn to muck and we will all hold out hope that green grass will grow, flowers will bloom and gardens will blossom bringing us fresh food. Gosh, all that sure seems far away as I sit here next to a window boasting only gray skies and trees with bare branches reaching up, up. I see them as if they are throwing their branchy hands up in impatience with a sping that last year sprung much earlier than this..

BUSTED! busted cuddling, Comet is beginning to accept Miles.

In other news the "winter games" continue as I attempt to think outside the box for different ways to get the wiggles out of the dogs. There was a little while there when I was letting the daily walks slip, and it began to come back to bite me. Miles set off annoyance snark barks from Bugsy and Comet. Wonder, bullying the cats and being ever more territorial with the other dogs. Here is a list of some activities we have been doing in addition to the biscuit hiding in the snow I showed you in the "winter games" post......

1. Running off leash or on long leash in the farm fields and sniffing around the barns.
2. Impromptu agility in the park! A long time favorite of mine, I use the same principles used in agility to train a dog to jump over or onto something. I've got most of the dog crew sliding down slides, jumping over swings, walking on the top levels of bleachers, and in our newest adventure Comet, Bugsy and I climbed  through a large plastic playground tunnel system(like the kind you would see at a McDonalds).
3. Trick Training. I'm always putting this on the back burner for no good reason at all. It's fun and builds a better relationship between human and dog. 
4. Hiking or "slogging" as I am now calling it as I trudge through ankle deep slush in the rain.
5. Shopping trips that involve little or no shopping. Example I took Bugsy for a car ride in town while I ran errands, to change things up we took short "city walks" around town at each of my stops and also visited the local pet friendly pet supply stores for a sniff about and some obedience training. In this case we went to both Petco and Petsmart, and bought nothing as I have no problem using their facility without buying a darn thing.
Bugsy and I
One of this weeks meals...
Duck neck, beef lung, banana, butternut squash, fennel seeds and dried basil.

Fun in the field.

Captain, Miles and Comet join farm dog Haley for a romp through the snowy farm field.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

winter games

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The snow just keeps falling. Snow storm after snow storm making me dub March as "in like a lion", and with luck will be out "like a lamb" as they say. We are all going stir crazy. I'm craving sunshine and a good run, but the roads and trails are icy and just walking or hiking on them can be treacherous. For now I will have to settle with the occasional dash through the deep snow in my heavy snow boots. Last year at this time creeks were flowing, sun was shining and I was road running. Alas, as you can see from this video there is no shortage of snow. This is one of my latest efforts to thwart cabin fever. I hide biscuits in the snow! Lots of little pieces of biscuits hidden in snow piles, under bushes, everywhere there isn't yellow snow, then I send out the hounds! All the dogs enjoy this! They are digging, sniffing, and exploring around for up to 30 minutes! Poor Captain, I see all the others using there noses to poke around and turn up the biscuits from the snow. Captains short, smushed face puts him at a disadvantage.