Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I got a lovely update on our former foster frenchie Dash. Here he is with his brother Ivan.

It seems they entered a costume party with their bulldog cousin. The grand prize was a stay at a fancy Boston hotel for their humans. They not only looked adorable but they also won. (yay!)Mom and dad are very proud.

Their cousin as a hotdog, Dash and Ivan as the condiments.

He really is to cute for his own good. (not that I am biased or anything)

And check out the free jack-o-lantern dog breed stencils at the Better Homes and Gardens site: Here's one of them that my friend Sarah did for work.

Enjoy your holiday and keep those pupsters away from the candy and scary masks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why I heart trick training

So is anyone else as excited by the new show on Animal Planet called Super Fetch as I am? Hosted by Zak George this is a show that literally shows how you can teach any dog any trick in a step by step process. I love it.
The first episode had a french bulldog that was owned by a man with a hair salon. To help drum up business he wanted the dog to fetch the clients gowns once they sat down. The other dog on the episode was an akita mix. The wife of the household wanted to teach the dog to move the husbands alarm clock when it when off in the morning to prevent him from hitting the snooze button repeatedly in the morning. I won't tell you how it turned out, but I will say I loved the part where the wife was happy that the dog was now listening to her more since starting working with him. Before that the dog was much more into her husband. She realized that the training helped them build a better bond with each other. I found another episode with a guy that wanted his dog to do a trick so he could get women's phone numbers hysterical. (homework is always assigned which the owner never did)
I have to admit I once thought tricks were a silly extra in dog training. I have since discovered that tricks have alot of power. Consider that for some reason people expect dogs to do the basics like sit and lay down. Stay and come are also not very flashy but also expected by many owners. Even when your dog knows these exercises people aren't impressed. But there is something about your dog showing off a trick that makes them look brilliant to everyone around. Even if that same dog eats it's own poo or gets lost in tall grass.
I am a big fan of rescue groups teaching tricks along with the basics to dogs that are waiting for homes. Just one good trick can really wow potential adopters. People think that if you can teach a dog a trick, then they can learn anything. This can then translate for some people that those really smart dogs can learn to be very well behaved dogs. (which of course we know they can)
Trick training is always a positive way to interact with your dog. And alot of tricks also utilize some basic obedience at the core so you are teaching more than just a trick. For instance you can't teach roll over until you teach down first. Trick training can also help you learn to communicate more effectively with your dog. If they do not understand what you are asking, they cannot learn the trick. It challenges the owner to bridge that communication gap between canine and human.
Trick training can be great mental stimulation for high energy dogs as well. The act of having to figure out what their human wants can be challenging for them. Mental stimulation can help to tire out a dog that needs an energy burn off. Think rainy day and no walk. Or maybe the owner is physically limited in some way. Think broken leg and no walk. Mental stimulation can be a way to manage a dog that needs something to do to prevent boredom related destruction as well.
Trick training can also be more fun for some owners to do than basic obedience training. If it is more fun for the owner then they will be willing to participate more training their dog. If they work with the dog more and because of that build a better bond they are then more willing to invest time into the basic obedience work as well. It is a win win situation.
These are just a few reasons I like dogs doing tricks.
Not convinced trick training has any real value? Check out this guys story. He has turned a trick into an enterprise to sustain himself.
And here is more info on Zak George with some videos.
I haven't forgotten my goal of working through the 101 dog trick book, I have just been to distracted by Missy lately to focus on it as a priority. My trick training is "to be continued" for the moment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Minos weekend

My sister is out of town so Minos is here for the weekend. Being a (yet) unneutered 10 month old male is making the visit just a little bit more interesting. There has been lots of peeing on things (dog beds that smell like other dogs are his favorite) and ardent pursuit of the Jenny. (He looooves her.) Jack is still happy to play with him but a little less tolerant of some of his antics then previously. Add to that Missy's occasional accidents as a side effect of her medication and I am already doing an extra large load of laundry tonight. Thankfully in all other respects he is an easy keeper. No food aggression or toy possessiveness, eats on a schedule, good recall and crate trained. It could be so much worse. I am still tired of cleaning up dog pee though. Thank goodness for natures miracle.

I finally nabbed a photo of Thomas, the other clinic cat. He was also brought in years ago due to litter box issues to be euthanized. (which he interestingly doesn't have at the clinic) He is super shy and was considered difficult to place so he lives with us. (yes we got permission from the owner to keep him first for those that are wondering) He is one of the biggest chow hounds I have ever seen. He is always on hand to share food left lying around if invited or not.
And on another note please send thoughts out to a friend who lost her cat yesterday to a tragic accident. His name was Bobby and he was a beautiful orange tabby. My thoughts also go out to another friend who lost her Italian Greyhound "Dragon" in a tragic accident and a friend who had to let her Collie "Rosie" go because of a painful tumor. It has been a dark time for to many people this week. No matter when or why, losing our beloved companions never seems fair. Our time with them is always to short. Godspeed sweet friends. May they all find the peace they deserve.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photo op!

Since Missy's diagnoses I have been a little obsessed with getting a really good photo of the 3 dogs together. These are a few of the better ones I took yesterday. If I can figure out how to crop this first one the size I need I might use it as a blog banner.

Missy is not a fan of the camera as you can see by her ear set. To be fair the sun was also in her eyes. She is doing MUCH better on the prednisone at the moment. She is almost normal again and even felt good enough for a roll in the grass the other day.
Jenny got a new harness. The step ins are great as a dual use tool because you can also use them as a seat belt. This is the "Zen" pattern from: I special ordered it at The Loyal Biscuit. She carries the line for those that are local. (Or not. E-mail her if you would like to purchase something from there yourself. She will ship. )
Missy looks happier in this pic because there was food involved.

This is a photo of the shirt I got for helping at this years dog walk for the shelter. You can buy them here: (e-mail them for prices, sizes and colors) It is a beautiful shade in person. Very "fallish", and I think the logo is adorable.

I swear this year I WILL get a nice photo of the kids and dogs for this years Christmas cards. I always plan it and always procrastinate just a little to long. Wish me luck. Oh and feel free to comment and leave opinions on the new blog look. Likes and dislikes. I do love feedback.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Updating the blog and breed choices

My regular readers may notice a bit of change on the blog. I recently updated my business cards and my husband pointed out that since my blog is my web address on my card, then my blog IS my business front to potential clients. Because of that I have rearranged the blog accordingly. People coming to check me out can now easily find the info about me and my services. In all honesty I blog because it is fun for me. I sometimes forget that it is also linked to my job and how I present myself. I'll try these changes and see how I like them and may add more changes over the next few days. Bear with me.

Now for the fun stuff. I totally lifted this from Yup I am a big fat copycat. But I just love this. I also agree that my answers may be different today than they may be tomorrow. Honestly there are just way to many breeds I can see myself with.


1- Sporting Group
2- Hound Group
3- Working Group
4- Terriers Group
5- Toy Group
6- Non Sporting Group
7- Herding

1 Sporting: Irish Setter. I'm not sure why tho I did know a lovely bitch when I was a young impressionable kid. When she had to go out she would lead us to the door by putting our wrists in her mouth very gently. I am fascinated by the red and white variety as well. I find irish setters very beautiful and have never met an aggressive one yet. Full disclosure however leads me to admit they aren't very common in this area.

2 Hound: I am more of a sighthound person than the tracking hound person. (odd considering I love tracking) It is a tie between the Saluki , Greyhound or the Whippet. There is something about the look of a saluki that attracts me. I have of course never met one in person. I love greys because they have the cuddle thing going for them and the need for adoption off the racetrack issue. I once saw a documentary about them with video of them stacked 5 bodies deep after euthanasia that will never leave my mind. (NEVER) But I love the size of a whippet. I would definitely do lure coursing with any one of these beauties.

3 Working: OK this is a tough choice. I love most of the dogs in this group. I grew up with a Siberian Husky so I have a soft spot for those. I just don't think I have the energy for one anymore. (tho there is a bred down version called the Alaskan Klee Kai I have considered. ) I think a nice small Doberman bitch would be lovely. But I'd have to get an older dog or rescue because while I do appreciate the look of a cropped ear on this breed, and I really do, I could never do it myself. All of the Dobermans I have ever known were smart sweet dogs and I love their sleek look. My husband wants a bullmastiff as our next big dog. (and I want to down size so this doesn't fit my plan VBG)

4 Terriers: I met a Bedlington once that totally won me over for the breed. Not sure I could keep up with the grooming though. I love the look of the Irish Terrier but I think it is a tie. One of my choices is the Border Terrier. Cute, small and supposedly less terrier like than many others in the group according to the AKC rep I spoke to at a show about them once. Of course he could have been wrong. (one starred in a movie in a doggy remake of the cat from outer space awhile ago that was cute) My other choice is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I like the small size and uncropped ears.

5 Toy: It is a tie between a Miniature Pinscher and a Pomeranian. I admit it is totally about the looks. Did you know that Poms also come in brindle?

6 Non Sporting Group: This one is easy because I think about it often. I would get a Chow Chow. I have a breeder friend who has chows with fabulous temperments. (Red Cloud) Having done some puppy socialization for her as well as taking care of her kennel has made me fall in love with them. I would probably go for the smooth coat though for ease of grooming. They are a great size and have a look I really like. Part of why I I chose the akita breed was the similar look to a husky. (I just needed a more guarding breed than a huskey at that time in my life.) I also agree that there are to many breeds in this group that are really more working dogs like Dalmatians. (which I also find beautiful)

7 Herding: OK this is a hard one. I am so not suited for a herding breed. I'm built for reading, not for running. VBG I've seen a few Australian Shepherds I like and I did go through a Collie obsession for awhile. If push came to shove I would probably go with a German Shepherd or a Smooth Collie.

8 Miscellaneous: The Norwegian Lundehund. A spitz breed of a nice medium size.

This was fun but I will point out I have also fallen in love with some of the "random bred" dogs at my local shelter too. A pibble named Worf and a GSD mix named Sidney come quickly to mind along with many of the non-sighthound hound mixes. (Casey, etc) It's easy to fall in love with a sweet dog no matter what the breed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Jack!!

Jack was born 5 years ago today. I am blessed to share my life with him, and blessed to know such fabulous breeders. Thanks Donna and Mike for such a wonderful gift.

Jack always makes friends where ever he goes. I call them his groupies.

He's my sweet and beautiful boy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"We interrupt this marriage to bring you hunting season"

First here is a photo of the Missy enjoying one of her chew toys. The new meds are really making her feel more herself. Now normally chew toys are not allowed on the couch but right now what Moo wants, Moo gets.

Hunting season has begun here in Maine which means free meat scraps. My husband owns a game butcher business and grinds all the "not for human consumption" leftovers for me to use for the dogs. It is the perfect arrangement. True organic meat normally wasted being used instead in a feeding program.
I have a sign on my wall which reads "We interrupt this marriage to bring you hunting season". Because of the hours he spends at the shop, and the occasional time he gets to hunt himself, it is very accurate. I hardly see him this time of year. When he does come home he smells like meat shop and the dogs love it. Personally I don't say a proper hello until after he hits the shower. Hey, we all have our limits.

Now I'm not an expert at feeding raw but so far it has worked for my crew. I use the model described in the book Raw Dog Food by Carina Beth MacDonald which is a fabulous book that takes all the stress out of raw feeding. I add the above supplements along with some veggies and feed the occasional real bones as well. (morning meals also have pro-biotics and salmon oil added) Deer and Moose have bones that are really to large for safe eating (for my dogs) aside from the small deer ribs. This is why I add the calcium. If you feed enough actual bone you don't need to do this. I normally feed one raw meal and one kibble meal each day. Because of the amount of meat I am getting however this year I think I will try feeding full raw. There certainly is no danger of running out.

Mixing it can be time consuming and I will need to figure out the schedule for that. I do prefreeze all the meat first to kill parasites as an added safety precaution. So there is a need for a thaw and mix schedule so I can overlap and not run out of ready to go food. I also need to find a better storage container. I need one with an airtight lid. Tonight was their first raw moose meal.

I'm sure my "photo op" was annoying to the waiting hungry masses. (Why is she torturing us?? Make it stop!!)

Today I managed to take Jenny for a real walk and trim her nails. I hate to admit it but trimming her nails makes me nervous because she gets nervous. I don't have this trouble with Jack. Of course I trained him from a puppy to so perhaps that is the difference. He is relaxed about it so I am relaxed about it. Missy doesn't like it but I can do hers with her on her back on the couch or in the tub with few problems. I keep saying I want to teach myself how to dremel nails and then train Jenny to it but that hasn't happened yet. Best laid plans and all I guess. I just read about this method in the latest Susan Conant book, All Shots and thought I might try this: It sounds interesting. I'll let you know if it works if I do attempt it. (I'll add it to my "to do" list.) Today I went with the yummy food as a distraction while my son helped by keeping her from jumping off the table. I did fine and fortunately she does have nice see through nails which helps to. No one was injured in the process which is always a win.
Things have been abit off here with Missy's issues so individual time with the others has been slim. Since she has been feeling better and I had someone home to keep an eye on her I took Jenny out. She is my "high maintenance" dog when it comes to exercise and activity level. I have cultivated Jack's couch potato activity level and he is as lazy as I am in that regard. (Thank the stars!!) He loves his outings to but he doesn't drive me nuts if he doesn't get them like Jenny does.

We hit the boardwalk, which is very scenic, and stopped by our favorite dog store The Loyal Biscuit. While there Jenny made a new friend, a super sweet and debonair mini aussie named Bronco. She got excited and made what we dubbed "Blue's clues" noises. It was very cute. Hopefully I can get a few more walks in with both her and Jack this weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Missy report

After waiting what seemed an eternity we got some answers back on our Missy the other day. It has taken me a couple of days to process it enough to share here. In the neurologists opinion, after reviewing the videos and x-rays we sent, she most likely has intracranial disease. Otherwise known as a brain tumor. Not very good news. Some of the stuff I was seeing were what is called focal seizures. We can go further with testing to confirm the diagnoses but considering what that entails I am not in a rush to proceed. Besides, a confirmation doesn't really change much for us.

Here is a link to a blog I built with some of the videos I had taken of her and sent along: I sent much more video than what is on the blog. Blogger wouldn't cooperate with my longer clips.

And here is a informative link I found on brain tumors in dogs:

Could it be something else? Yes. Cervical disease is also a possible option. However the symptoms I have seen and compared to the various websites I have been surfing lead me to believe the tumor diagnoses is correct. This doesn't mean that I won't keep looking and hoping it is a disc or other fixable issue. Vets can be wrong, even specialists.

My first concern is that she isn't in any pain. She certainly seemed painful by some of her actions which is what had me so worried and chomping at the bit for answers. We changed her medication so now she is only on prednisone, a steroid which is one of the treatment options that is doable for us. She has had another grand mal seizure so I have phenobarbital on hand to start if those become frequent as well. We stopped the metacam, (anti-inflammatory) robaxin (muscle relaxer) and tramadol. (pain reliever)

This is day 3 of the pred and I am relieved to say she seems to be feeling much better. She play bowed to my daughter last night and even chewed on one of her nyla bones today, something she hasn't touched in weeks. She is also much perkier than she has been. The wobbling is still present at times and she is still having some accidents in the house. Things had gotten pretty bad here the past week for her. But things seem to have improved for her overall since changing meds. Hopefully it continues.

It certainly isn't a cure, but keeping her comfortable is my number one priority right now. Since we do not exactly know what we are treating because we haven't gone the MRI route we are flying blind to a point. And steroids can sometimes only provide an initial short term improvement. For now I will take it. Maybe we will be one of the lucky ones and get lots of time out of it, or find out we were wrong and it is indeed a fixable issue.

Think good thoughts for us. I would appreciate it.