Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A beautiful day for tracking

So this morning was absolutely beautiful. So much so that I decided to take advantage of my day off and take Jenny out for a tracking session. I admit I prefer nice weather when I train outside. I'm also not always raring to go in the mornings. To many years working late shifts in the military I suppose. My internal clock is set to "sleep in" and "stay up late". Not the best schedule for getting things done normally I know.

I've been meaning to work on her article indications. I can do that at home, but thought maybe doing it at one of our training fields might help her make the connection faster. Basically in AKC tracking you want them to follow the track exactly and let you know when you find something the "person" they are finding/following dropped. Jenny is a fast worker and tends to blow past them. But I think it was because I didn't concentrate on teaching her how to let me know she found one in the beginning of her training.

An article can be made of anything. Metal, plastic, cloth, and leather are just a few examples. I decided I want her to sit when she finds one. Or at least paw at it long enough for me to get to it before she moves on. So first I practiced with the articles individually. I used a clicker to get her to acknowledge it was there, then to put a foot on it, then to sit after she puts her foot on it. Once she grasped that I moved on to doing a few in a row. I rewarded her for the sit, then I would pick it up and moved to the next one. (photo above is staged and taken after we were finished training)

Here I have a cloth toy, a piece of see through plastic, a rubber tog toy, a pedometer, a metal bandaid box, a lego car and then a leather glove in a row. First I did the row on the pavement, then I did a row in the grass. Once I thought she had that I set up a couple tracks. The first was through a gully with 2 left turns. (shown below)

She did great until we overshot the first corner and I got lost. I forgot the simple rule of: "All dandelions look the same when you are on a track so don't use them as mental markers". Seriously. But we backtracked and I found it. Then she air scented and cut her corner so I need to work on that. For the next track I just did a straight line and used an extra amount of articles. She did pretty well even though I could tell she was tired.

I'm hoping to get to a group tracking practice on Sunday if my schedule allows. It is also hunting season and I am toying with the idea of getting her back into the bloodtracking as well. It is a lot of fun and I know she enjoys that because there are no articles to worry about and the end item is a yummy deer leg. I should probably chose one tracking sport and stick with that. It might make it all easier. I think sometimes I have ADD when it comes to dog events. I have a hard time choosing just one to concentrate on. I guess I need to work on that. Interested in Tracking? Check out the following site for books and equipment: www.pawmark.com

I love this plate!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My 7 post challenge

I was tagged quite awhile ago in the 7 post challenge by: inu-baka blog: my seven posts 
Unfortunately I tend to over think these things hence my delay in getting it posted. I finally decided it wasn't cremation or casket, (my sons saying for when I am stuck on a decision) and therefore stopped thinking about it so much. So here are my 7 posts.
My most beautiful post: This is a tough one. I chose the one I thought had some good writing and that I want people to see because of the message it has in it. Judging a dog by it's breed is killing dogs and it needs to stop. It also makes me cry every time I think about it. So here is a Dog Named Worf.
Most Popular Post: I had to go look at my stats to figure this one out. Here is: How to make your own Rally O sign holders.
My Most Controversial: OK it was hard to pick just one. I guess I would need to go with these two based on comments and e-mail conversation I had after posting. Debunking the dominance myth and Alpha rolling in Wolves and Dogs.
My Helpful Post: Again I couldn't narrow it down to just one. So here are a few that I think are most useful:  A lesson in canine greetings, and Loose Leash Walking. And for anyone with a dog that needs help with stairs: My own project runway.
Success surprised you: Again I went back to my stats to see what came up alot. For some reason it was this post: Frenchie as Frankendog. I can only assume it has something to do with words searches somehow, though I have to wonder just what exactly they were searching for.
Didn't get the attention it deserved: This one was easy for me to choose. Reading Facial Expressions in Dogs. I still haven't found any mention of "The Thinking Face" on other blogs or videos. I also think most info out there on reading facial expressions is geared to the non-flat faced breeds. I am unsure why that is.
Most surprised you: This was a tough one. I'm not sure what constitutes surprise exactly. I chose a post I thought should have gotten more oohs and ahhhs than it did. My Dog Tattoo Quest Fulfilled. I was also hoping for other dog people to share their dog related ink! (You can even post photos on my facebook page!)
Now I'm supposed to pass this on to 5 blogs I have been following but may have missed their more important posts. I chose these in no particular order:
Frogdog Blog
Retrieverman's Weblog
Of Cows' Tails and Chew Toys
Save the pitbull, save the world
The Spiritdance dog tracking and sheep herding blog

I'm also going to tag a new blog to my blogroll as well so I can get to know them better:
Lessons from and for 4 legs

Participation is completely optional and I will not be offended if you to chose to ignore the tag. Thanks for the challenge Jen!! Blog on!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The squeaky wheel syndrome

I know I blog alot about Jenny. So much so that poor Jack gets left behind in the background. A lot. There is a saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". That is certainly true in this case. Jenny is much higher maintenence than Jack. Because of her allergy issues she has special foods and frequent vet trips. (Can you imagine Jack with allergies? Yikes!!) Because of her higher energy level she gets more training attention and more walks to burn off energy than Jack. I do take a lot of photos of Jack as well as Jenny but being his color many of them don't show his face very well. It is the curse of having a black faced dog. Lighting issues can be a problem.

Jack is an easy keeper on many levels. Thankfully he seems content to play second fiddle. How do we know if our dogs are really happy about their lives? I guess we can assume some things based on their behavior. He doesn't chew things up when he gets left behind out or boredom or anxiety. Of course I do leave him a kong and chewies so he has that instead. But maybe he is just lazy, kinda like his owner. I admit that I could never be a border collie person. I just don't have that kind of energy.

Thankfully Jack is a laid back dog who is also very tolerant of his bratty sister. You should see how she bosses him around! (She has no idea he could take her out if he chose. Ahhh the benefit of domestication!) He loves to have a good game of tug now and then and he likes to go to bed early. He hates to get his feet wet but standing in the rain doesn't phase him at all. He makes the most adorable chuffing sound when he is happy. He's not a big fan of walks on a leash but he loves to run in the woods. He loves attention and I'm pretty sure he thinks visitors have all come to see him.

But there is much more to Jack that I don't always remember to mention. I like to think of him as a working dog. He comes to the prison and helps socialize puppies or he's a distraction while we work them around him. He has helped me with reactive dog clients and he has helped socialize many chow puppies over the years. If there were ever a contest for BEST DOG EVER he would be nominee number 1.

He may be one of the sweetest dogs I have ever lived with. There will never be another dog like Jack for me. I am super blessed to have him and I know it. Because of this I think he may be my last akita. I just cannot imagine another that could fill his shoes! (um paws)

So this is my post all about Jack, a dog behind the scenes for sure but nonetheless loved and appreciated by us all. I've posted just a few of my favorite photos of him.

I hope we have many more years together. I cannot imagine how to be without him after all. Nor do I want to.

Book review ~ The Allergy Solution for Dogs

Just when I thought I was pretty caught up on all my events and could get back to blogging, I came down with a cold of some sort. Ugh. I muscled through the last two days at work but it wasn't fun. Today I just couldn't do it and stayed home. I'm feeling a little better at the moment, aside from a still burning throat, so thought I'd try to get at least one post done. I finally finished the book I bought awhile ago I picked up at Planet Dog on allergies. Here are my thoughts about it:

I also work as a receptionist at a conventional veterinary hospital so some of the info wasn't new to me. However I have to say I found it very well put together and I did learn a few things. More than a few actually. Even tho I work at a vet I don't consider myself one of those people who knows everything. Nor do I automatically assume just because someone is a vet that they know everything either. (much to the annoyance of my boss I am quite sure)

One thing I've learned is that I do have more options to try with Jenny. It helped explain a few things I didn't understand as well before too. Having gotten so much info and advice in the past on allergies in dogs, it was nice to have some things explained out in a way I could process it. My brain gets overwhelmed sometimes.

One of the things I have already started is trying to boost her immune system. One way I have approached that is to feed her a high quality food. Reading the book "Food pets die for~Shocking facts about pet food" by Ann Martin was a huge wake up call for me on this issue. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know how to read a pet food label and be able to decipher it! (Be sure to get the third edition.) It has all kinds of information about what is in pet foods that you need to know. Tho I disagree with her thoughts on raw feeding. I don't understand how she can dismiss a vets thoughts on selling their brand of food and then on the other hand agree with them on the dangers of feeding raw. An opinion which leads them to recommend clients buying their food. Hmmmm. I still think it is an important book on the subject regardless.

Anyone who has been reading this blog regularly knows I have tried a few different diets over the years. I've even done some raw feeding. While I support raw feeding, I just personally couldn't keep up with the work it entailed with everything else I have going on. I have two teens and a husband in the house and I don't cook for them either. Nuff said!

Because of my belief that real food is better for dogs than much of the processed stuff out there I have Jenny on The Honest Kitchen foods. It is a dehydrated diet that uses high quality ingredients to begin with. They are one of the few companies that can say they use Human Grade food in their pet foods! Aren't our pets worthy of food good enough for US to eat? Why are we feeding so many of them our waste from our cast off food products? It is also processed an a FDA inspected human food facility alongside food for human consumption. But I digress. (You can check out their website yourself FMI.)

She is currently on the Force formula which I just switched her to. I have also used the Zeal formula and the Keen formula. I'm also giving her the THK invigor supplement (an antioxidant for the immune system) and their sparkle supplement. (supports healthy skin and coat) As well as an omega 3 supplement, allerplex, dermatrophin, coconut oil, and plant enzymes/probiotic. I am planning on trying a few more things I read about in the book too. I am curently weaning her off some Temeril-P which I had her on for a spell to keep her comfortable. (It is a low dose steroid and antihistimine.)

One of the other tips that was in the book was to use frequent baths to keep allergens off the dog. Since she tested allergic to dust mites (along with grain mites) I think this is an important step I have been slacking on. I'm going to try doing this more often to see if it helps.

Overall I can say I highly recommend the book to anyone who has a dog with allergies. It does say that there is no cure for some dogs with some of the issues, but it gives you some options to explore and questions to ask your vet. It helps you be a good advocate for your dog which is important. It is a book with a lot of great information on the subject and I'm glad I found it. I hope others find this review helpful.

**In looking through my bookshelf I realized how many dog books I still have waiting to be read! Stay tuned for a give-away including said books (slightly used) with some HK samples for anyone interested. I am still working out the details but I promise FREE STUFF soon!**

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fur and Foliage Followup

Saturday was the Humane Society of Knox County's annual Fur and Foliage fundraiser event. I am happy to say it went off without a hitch. The weather was fabulous and we had very good attendance. I was in charge of the "Try-your-luck" agility course and answered training and behavior questions for free. It is always fun watching kids (and adults) trying to get their dogs to co-operate on the course. The rules are: no pulling or pushing your dog to get them to go, and we want to see you having fun! I help whoever needs it on the course with lots of motivation in the form of cheese. Everyone gets some sort of prize at the end and a certificate. Our biggest competitor this year was a mastiff and our smallest was a dachshund. It was a hoot to watch.

We tried to add more vendors this year. Unfortunately some couldn't make it but we did have more than we had last year. My friends at The Smiling Frog Pets came and did very well. They donated some of the prizes for the agility contest too. CW studios glass work, Barefoot Books, and The Loyal Biscuit Co. were some of the others that made it. Thanks also to Tri Pom Chews for donating to our raffle even though they couldn't attend. We had a balloon artist that was amazing and a caricaturist too. We also had some live music this year which was new. I have to admit I was worried about that addition but it was fabulous.

We also had photos with Santa and this year added a fall scene area for photos as well. I thought it looked great. I only wish I had my own dogs there to take advantage of it. The Maine POM project was also in attendance and we had other fun stuff like face painting for the kids who were there. I saw lots of cat faces so I assume it was a hit. Lots of money was raised thanks to all of the walkers collecting donations. Congrats to Missy Parkerton and Joette Adams for being the top 2! These ladies have been in the top for about 3 years in a row now. How awesome are they?!!

Sadie from the K-9 Corrections program got to attend since she is currently looking for her new home. She is seen here wearing her "Adopt Me" vest. Extra thanks to Kim Grinell for making that for her at the last minute. She looked great!  I also got to see Mason at the event. He is one of the former K-9 Corrections dogs. His new name is Ollie and he is doing fabulous. I bought a few raffle tickets myself and this year even won a couple items! It was very surprising as I rarely win stuff. Especially stuff I really want. One was a bag of delicious Made in Maine chicken jerky from Tri-Pom Chews (I know it is delicious because Jack told me so!) and the other was a gift basket donated by the Loyal Biscuit. Nice! Before you say I am being selfish by keeping my prizes let me assure you that at least half of the stuff is headed to the prison for the K-9 Corrections dogs. I have always been good at sharing. :-)
I'm sure I am forgetting something important but those are the highlights as my brain has remembered them. I look forward to next year as we plan in it being even bigger and more fun. Stay tuned! Many more photos of the event can be seen on my facebook page. They aren't the best though since all I have for a camera at the moment is on my phone. As they say, something is sometimes better than nothing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Woofstock Wrapup

Saturday I went to Woofstock 2011 with Jenny and a couple friends and their dogs. Angelica and Leo (above) and Ashley and Prudence. (below) I had a blast even tho I admit I almost didn't go. I'm not always a fan of these events. Let me explain. Going where there will be a lot of pet dog people and their dogs can stress me out. Mainly because pet dog people sometimes do things that they don’t realize can cause problems in a crowd of dogs. For instance: not keeping a close eye on their dog so they tangle people up in their dog’s retractable leash. Or they let their dog get to into another dogs face that isn’t appreciative of an unknown dog (to them) getting into that space. Or maybe they don’t realize their dog is too stressed out to relax and being on edge can cause them to lash out. I’ve seen a lot of things at some of these events that make me nervous. This is one example of a time ignorance is bliss. It is less of a problem at dog shows or trials where most of the people in attendance (show dog people and sport dog people) understand canine body language and don’t typically let their dogs get into another dogs space without permission.

But I did go and I had a great time. I also rarely take my dogs to these events. Mainly because I am usually working at them in some capacity. The last time I went to Woofstock I had one of the K-9 Corrections dogs with me at the shelters booth so he could be seen by potential adopters. There were lots of great vendors and many rescue groups as well as the POM Project. They also had some great demos of stuff like Agility and Frisbee and even Freestyle. I got asked to participate in the Freestyle class with Jenny by my friend Nancy of Gooddogz Training. Jenny LOVED it. Any chance to earn some treats is a good time for her. I have to admit she did well and I might need to consider trying out some Freestyle training in the future. This is her looking for crumbs between tricks.

Jenny ate A LOT of freebies from vendors. She also got to snarf up crumbs as she found them. I’m sure it was her idea of Heaven. In the future however I need to remind people that she is a SMALL dog and so therefore a small treat is more appropriate for her. I thought for sure she might have some bowel issues in her future. (the ride home was shall we say, odiferous) When she started asking to go out frequently the next day I wasn’t surprised. It turned out that she ended up with a urinary tract infection instead. (poor girl!) So she is currently on an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory.

Aside from hanging out with her doggy friends Leo and Prudence she also got to meet a bunch of other dogs, including a super cute pug puppy. She was so small I could have fit her in a pocket! Tho I suspect her family wouldn’t have been as excited by that as I was. There were all kinds of dogs in attendance in all sizes from Great Danes to Chihuahuas.

The event is put on by Aubry Martin of The Animal House. She does a fantastic job! The layout was super easy to navigate this year and I loved that the demo ring was smack in the middle. I can’t begin to remember all of the vendors but here are a few that I loved: Classic Hound had some fabulous martingale collars but I managed to control myself. (Tho they may be at the Fur and Foliage event this weekend and if so I may succumb to their charms. Yes I am a collar hoarder.) Zeldas Biscuit Bakery had some fabulous new flavors to try. Jenny gave them 4 paws up! Tripoms Chews is always a favorite of Jennys. Mmmm chicken! Uncommon Paws had my favorite Olly Dog treat pouches and the tiniest doggles I've ever seen! I also got to speak with Dr. Kjersten Morrison DVM of Mid-Coast Veterinary Acupuncture about Traditional Chinese medicine and Acupuncture for Jenny’s skin issues. I may be exploring that option down the road.

Of course there were also many pet food reps including one for my favorite, The Honest Kitchen. Speaking of which reminds me to brag about my awesome lawn sale find. At the event they have what they call a lawn sale area. It is all pet stuff that is donated by people and the proceeds go towards all the rescues that are attending. (all the proceeds from the event including tickets go towards all the rescues as well) Well I found not one but TWO cans of this! Guess how much I paid?? Now this is originally a $16.99 item. Go on, guess.


I got them for only ONE DOLLAR each!!!!! I felt like I had won the lottery. I was very excited. (you can probably tell) It is a supplement made by the Honest Kitchen that I was planning on getting at my local store to try. It is used to help support their immune system. Since Jenny has such chronic skin issues I thought this was a good one to try. I have also switched her to the Keen formula from Zeal. I read a very good article about how some dogs do need grains in their diet to thrive and thought I would try it for awhile. I do plan on switching her a couple more times to try some more formulas they offer as well. (Because I love that company!) Embark, Force and Thrive all seem like they are appropriate to try in the future. I want to get away from fish for awhile and see what happens. I have noticed that she seems to be getting a little hair growth in her neck area. (fingers crossed) I also have started her on this supplement:

It is supposed to be good for their skin and coat. We shall see. It smells good and she seems to love it. I am going to be getting a couple more supplements soon to add as well. I've been reading the book on allergies I picked up at Planet Dog awhile back and it is very good. It has given me a few other ideas of things to try for her. Suddenly I don't feel so overwhelmed by it all. Of course I may be changing my tune at any moment so think good thoughts for her. Here she is practicing a new trick we are working on mastering. (Excure the poor lighting. It was my phone camera.)

The ball is from The Smiling Frog Pets shop. Go check it out!

Special thanks to Ashley Bickford for the use of her Woofstock 2011 photos. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I need to get a new camera.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My excuses for not blogging

I have been super busy on all fronts. The vet clinic has been busy which means I come home exhausted and I am seeing clients left and right on top of that. (I saw my first ever Keeshond pup in the flesh this week! Cute!) I am also getting ready for the local shelters Fur and Foliage dog walk and hope to attend Woofstock  in Damariscotta this week as well. Last weekend was the local AKC dog show in Union to check out and I got to have lunch with Jen of Inu-Baka blog. (I even met Buckley!) If she lived closer we'd totally be BFF's. Squeeze in me attempting to get some knitting projects finished in my "spare time" before winter hits. (That makes me laugh just typing it!) ~sigh~

There needs to be more hours in the day for me, seriously. I promise I will post something of substance soon. I have a new leash to show off, news about the K-9 Corrections program, (Look for one of my handlers letters in the recent issue of Bark magazine!) and will be participating in a 7 blog post challenge. I just need a little more time to get some of that written up. One would think having a 4 day weekend for labor day would have helped. Nope! Those hours got sucked away in a vortex of "what happened to my day off ?" whirlwind of chores. I do post more on my facebook page for those that like to keep up with my outings and such. Using FB is much less time consuming than blogging. (at least for me)

Thanks for your patience and stay tuned!