Friday, November 30, 2012

Hiking with Callie

This past Wednesday, although cold, was nice and sunny and after a few days of cloud, sunshine was just what we needed.  So, since I didn't have to go to work, on with the long underwear, the warm hat, the mitts and a couple of layers and out we went.  Just Callie and I. 

We went to a park that is very popular in the summer for camping since it is on a lake and in an area densely populated with cottages.  It's not an area that we camp at since it's very family oriented and it's only about a 35 minute drive from home.  (As someone once said, sometimes you need the drive to feel like you're getting away.)

At this time of year, the park is closed and most of the cottagers are long gone.  In my opinion, that makes it a perfect place to hike, especially on a very sunny day with morning temperatures around -3C/26F.

Callie's recall is very good but since the trails are very twisty with a limited view, I decided to keep her on leash since there were some mountain bicycle tracks that were fresh. 
The park is quite large and there are many trails so I chose one of the first ones we came across.  The sign indicated that the trail was one kilometer but no indication if it was a loop or linear.  Best way to find out, let's go!

Well, the trail wasn't a loop, it ended at links to two other trails so we turned around and wandered some of the roads within the park.  I'm going to have to check on line and see if there are maps of the trails.  It's not like we'd get lost, we would have to try really, really hard and even then, I doubt you could get lost in there, it's too close to lots of roads and year round houses.

Callie and me!

We saw nobody on the trails, the sun was bright, the birds were chirping...a wonderful way to spend the morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bigger Sofa...part 2

Back when this blog first started, we told you about how we need a bigger sofa.

Being creative...let's add an ottoman.  That'll give us more space I thought.  Sure it will.  Yup, more space alright.

Azule, Breeze, Brook and Bill

Yup, more space...for Breeze the spotted wonder to stretch out!  Sure, she is still growing and getting big, but geez.  She's not that big. 

Now, in fairness, the dogs do not always completely take over the sofa.  Sometimes, for reasons known only to them, they like to snuggle really close and take up very little space (at least the ottoman is getting used!)

Brook, Azule and Bill

Breeze likes to just hang out on the ottoman too.  

I asked people we know that have bigger dogs if their dogs do this and yes, it seems to be a big dog thing.  I refer to Breeze as a big dog since she is the biggest one in the pack.  She is now seven months old, weighs 46 pounds and is the tallest.  Likely, she is still growing!  A friend commented the other day that Breeze really doesn't look much like an Australian Cattle Dog as her listing on the Blind Deaf Shelter Dog website indicated.  My friend further commented (and I quote) "They really saw you coming when they gave that description."  Yes, I think they did!  Doesn't matter what breed mix she is, she was saved on her PTS date and she is wonderful!

I tried putting some nice fluffy blankets/dog bedding on the floor, thinking that would be an alternative place for the pack to lay.  I haven't done that recently since when I tried it, Breeze wasn't quite house trained and for some  reason, would pee on the blanket.  Every single time.  Four blankets, four pees.  We never used pee pads so I don't know why.  Now that she is completely house trained, I might try again.  

Although, now that I think about it, the pack may have told blind puppy Breeze to do that so that the sofa is the only option.  I wonder about them sometimes.

We still all pile onto the sofa, nudge each other and maybe grumble a little bit as we shift around to get settled.  

Sometimes, Oscar the cat gives us one of these looks.

Probably wonders why the dogs can't be happy with a little cardboard box like he is.  Oh Oscar, that's just the way dogs are!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Got snow?

We got snow!

Forest, Breeze, Azule and Brook

The dogs are really happy about it and had a great time on Saturday morning playing in the fluffy white stuff.  This was blind puppy Breeze's first snow and she ate a lot of it!  It'll be interesting to see if she continues to eat it.  None of the others do.  (Cairo, my first ACD always, always ate large amounts of it.  When I adopted Callie, she too would eat it but when Cairo passed away, Callie never did again.  Likely since there wasn't another dog to copy.)
When the flurries got a bit heavy, Breeze opted for some shelter for a few minutes.

I didn't realize that taking a picture of a white dog with black spots in the slight accumulation of snow could make her almost disappear.  Here are Breeze and Brook.  A quick glance, you might miss the fact that Breeze is there!  

Callie loves the cooler weather and had a great time playing with the torn up soccer ball.  It is still staying inflated so we'll keep playing with it.  

Just in case you are looking really closely and counting, yes, there are two missing.  Both Bill and Hiker are hot weather fans.  The hotter the better.  They are the ones who will lay in the sun on the hottest summer days until their fur is too hot to touch.  Literally.  So, they both came outside but didn't stay for long. 

Mid afternoon while the pack were resting after we were outside for a few hours in the snow, I decided to make a (vegan) meatloaf and roast another squash.  

Why, oh why do I think I can cook by myself?! Although, as anyone with dogs knows, you can never, ever do anything by yourself!

Kitchen staff left to right: blind Brook, Bill, deaf Azule and Forest

The reason Brook is sitting like that is because I had, a few minutes prior, opened the oven door to check on the squash.  I'm sure she is thinking, "I can smell it.  Where is it?"

The snow is still with us and temperatures are forecast for cool enough that it likely won't melt too much.  So, the fence rebuilding project is on hold and we'll get some inside projects taken care of. (maybe those kitchen floor tiles?)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Helper dogs

Do your dogs like to help with projects around the house?  

The acd6pack is always interested in what is going on and want to be a part of things.

Azule: "Hmmm..what's this?"

The on-going project of removing the old wooden fence and replacing it a section at a time is taking a long time.  I feel guilty when the dogs have to be in the house so that a section can be removed and a new section built when it's nice weather.  When it's time to pull apart the old sections, they can be outside and "help".  A project like this is too noisy/scary for Bill so he keeps an eye on things from a distance.

blind Brook and deaf Azule

All the blind girls somehow manage to walk on the old sections of fence with little difficulty.  I wonder if the boards are just far enough apart to match their stride as they walk.

I suppose it's just another example of how the blind ones are encouraged to be just regular dogs.  If they were to bump their noses on the boards, that's okay.  I was very, very careful when swinging the hammer and moving the old fence sections, but other than that, they were left to do whatever they wanted.  There just aren't the words, "Oh you poor can''re blind" at our home.


As you can see, taking the old sections apart involves lots of, "move, will ya?", "come on, get outta the way", some waving type hand gestures for deaf Azule and the ever famous and often heard, "watch out".  

Blind Breeze helped with some tree trimming.

big sticks!

Another project the dogs helped with was wallpapering.  A few people asked why not crate the dogs or have them stay in another room while wallpapering.  What fun would that be?!  Sure, the water tray became a water dish (that was an exciting find for a blind dog - a water dish in the upstairs hall), the wallpaper got walked on, some sections of paper were ripped but we had fun.

blind Brook and blind Hiker

Did you know that new paint rollers can double as a chew toy?  I didn't know that either, but apparently Callie did.

They all (except nervous Bill) want to be in the middle of everything.  It often takes about twice as long to get things done but it's so much more fun with a few dogs as helpers.

I often think that we are just keeping the fun in dysfunctional.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bye bye spider

Happy Thanksgiving to all our followers in the United States of America!

We had our Thanksgiving back in October and we thought about the many things we are thankful for.  Most importantly, we are thankful for each other and having a loving home together.  That is something we are thankful for every day.

A few weeks ago for Hollowe'en, Forest wore a green spider headband and he looked really cute annoyed by the whole thing.

"This is so embarrassing.  Nobody else is wearing a spider."

I didn't realize how annoyed and embarrassed Forest was until yesterday when I arrived home.  You see, Hiker and Forest met me at the door.  Forest is to be in his crate.  Only Hiker is not crated when home alone.  Hiker is non-destructive and can be totally trusted. Forest should not have been loose all day.  

When I opened the door, Forest gave me one of his mischievous looks as he ran out the door.  You know the type of look, the one that says, "So glad you're home, somebody pooped on the floor and killed a green spider."

Sure enough, somebody did both those things.  After cleaning the mess on the kitchen floor, I went in to the living room and saw this.

spider remains

Oscar the cat thought maybe he might possibly want to play with one of the pipe cleaners.  Then decided that it was too much effort. (he's old and can't be bothered)

So, I have some green pipe cleaners, a black head band and a couple of green feathers.  I could probably make something.  Something crafty, but I'm not crafty.  

I thought of keeping the pipe cleaners for the cats to play with but know that the dogs would try and eat them and likely choke at which time Forest would blame me for buying the damn spider and making him wear it which caused him to destroy it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Raking leaves with Breeze and Forest

The process of raking the leaves seems to take forever.  It seems that I rake a big pile and then have to rake it again.  Here is video proof of why.  

I had left to get another leaf bag and when I was walking back, this is what I saw.

Yet more proof that rescued dogs and rescued blind dogs are really just normal dogs that are happy and love to play!

(I'd rather watch them play than rake leaves)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just wondering...

We've had a few days of wondering about things.  Not major things, nothing of great importance, well, there was that one day when we wondered when the hot water heater guy was coming since we were on day six without hot water, fourth time without hot water since the beginning of October - but other than that, nothing important.

These are some of the things were were wondering about...

"Where are the chipmunks?"

I still wonder if Breeze ever got Brook's head in her mouth!
That was Breeze when she was about four months old.  Now at seven months old, she is twice the size of Brook.  Great Dane Dalmatian mix?!

"Does The Mom really think reading this is going to help?"
It's a mystery and the main character has created a dog rescue.  The author has 27 golden retrievers!

"Why did you stop? Let's go!"

"Does this crate make my butt look big?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

Check ups

Wednesday was check up day for Brook and Hiker, the blind girls.  We started off in the morning with a trip to the veterinary teaching hospital for an appointment at the ophthalmology clinic for Brook.  We go every six months to have her eyes checked (she has detached retinas with no vision and no chance of successful corrective surgery).  Hiker got to come along this time since we had an appointment for both girls at the regular vet for their annual check up and vaccinations.

At the ophthalmology clinic, we first see two fourth year students.  It was at this point, when we walked into the exam room, that Hiker fell in love, yet again.  Both students were male (Hiker prefers males) and she quickly showed off her charm and personality.  It wasn't really fair to Brook who was having testing done to have Hiker sitting beside the one student and lightly pawing at his leg.  To give her credit though, this does and did get her results. Within five minutes of being in the exam room he was already talking about how he'd like to take her home.

Brook's testing consisted of a tear test which measures the tear production in each eye, then they put a drop of stain in each eye and have a look and then take the eye pressures.  All test results were normal.  Then we went to see the ophthalmologist who looks into Brook's eyes and talks to the students about Brook's retinal tears and folding.  A quick chat about her future and the fact that she is at risk for developing glaucoma and will likely need enucleation surgery someday, which we have talked about before.  During this part of the check up, Hiker was again turning on the charm.  Another student said that she would like to take Hiker home.  Then the opthamologist said that she would take Hiker home too.  At this point, I told all of them that they would have to take a number since there are about 127 people that have already asked! The most common question was what we always get asked, "Is she always this happy?"  Yes, she is.  

At the regular vet in the afternoon, another good check up and then two very tired dogs got home to see the others.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Callie is a DINOS.  Dog In Need Of Space.  She is one of those dogs that doesn't always interact well with other dogs (especially outside of the home) and prefers to do her own thing by herself.  After having just read that statement on a blog titled acd6pack, you might be thinking, "what?"   

How is it that Callie lives with six other dogs and the occasional foster dog?  Control.  I've learned over the years what sets her off and know the little signs of her getting antsy which can lead to a snap or worse.  It's just a matter of not allowing her to be in those particular situations.  For example, when the rowdy ones (Forest, Brook, Azule and Breeze) are playing chase and wrestling, Callie is not allowed.  She stays in the house or her crate since that type of play gets her very, very agitated and bossy. She would want to stop the chasing and wrestling.  Typical stubborn and strong personality Australian Cattle Dog!

Callie is happiest being the only dog on an adventure.  That being said though, she goes camping and backpacking with others. She does have her own tent (yes, there are two tents) and that really works for her. Callie doesn't miss out on any of the fun, she has fun by herself but she can and does share!

Even though Hiker is blind, she loves to swim and follows Callie.

Callie really enjoys playing frisbee and Jolly Ball which none of the others will play, we've tried many times.  So, out go the group for their play time and when they come in, out goes Callie.  Same thing when it comes to wandering the wilderness.  It's just easier and less stressful for Callie to go on a walk/hike by herself.  The worst thing on a hike is an off-leash dog with poor recall.  So many times there has been a dog running towards us as the owner tries to call it back with no luck and then they yell the ever famous, "My dog is friendly!"  To which I respond, "Mine is not friendly!"  Let me tell ya, that gets ya a dirty look.  A leashed dog walking past is almost no problem.

Our pack is often the pack and Callie.  It works for us.  There are people we know of who have two separate groups in their homes, groups who cannot even look at each other without attempting to fight.  We don't have that.  There is daily interaction between Callie and the others, in a calm/controlled situation.

There have been a few people who have asked if it wouldn't be easier to re-home Callie.  Comments have also been made about how much Callie has changed things and shouldn't she adapt instead of being accommodated.  Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion and my opinion is that when I adopted her (and the others), it was forever.  I look at it this way - none of my dogs came looking for me, none of them asked to live with me - I chose them and promised to take care of them forever and I will. 

It may seem obvious that a group of dogs will involve different personalities but living with that group and their little quirks, likes and dislikes can be a bit of a juggling act sometimes but it is most definitely, without a doubt, worth it!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Mischief

Forest has decided to take on the role of Prince Charming and is wandering around looking for his Cinderella.

We don't have any glass slippers so he is substituting other footwear. 

"Since it's been raining, a rubber boot for my princess."

"Maybe this will work, it's a slipper I chewed for a while."

"Maybe I'll find her in the wilderness with this hiking boot."

"Brook, will you be my Cinderella princess?"

Forest didn't find his Cinderella. 

"Maybe I'll try again another day."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

She did it!!

All of us here at acd6pack are thrilled to announce that our blind puppy Breeze, aka the spotted wonder, has conquered the stairs!  Yes, that's right, yesterday, she went up all by herself.  We are so proud of her, now she is able to go up and down by herself, no more being carried!

After she went up the first time on her own, she went up and down a few more times with her tail wagging constantly, no doubt very proud of her accomplishment.  

Breeze then brought in the newspaper, convinced there should be a story about how the blind puppy learned to navigate the stairs.

Since nobody was checking for the story about her and the stairs, she decided to look for it herself.

It was then that we had to tell her that the newspaper likely wouldn't be doing a story about her, but that's okay because we are all very proud of her!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Family Portrait

I often think of how nice it would be to have a picture of all the dogs together.  The whole pack.  All seven, sitting nicely, facing the camera, you know, a four-legged family portrait.  I can dream, can't I? 

Shortly after adopting Azule, I got this picture.

Recently I tried yet again because I really want a picture of the whole pack together.  (Please note that Callie is not included in any of these pictures due to her, ummmm, shall I put it...her in-charge attitude, yes you could use the "b" word.  She is without a doubt a very sweet and loving dog but she has issues, one of which is a strong desire to discipline others when she thinks they are not listening.  If told to sit and they don't or they move from a stay, Callie will go after them. More about her another time.)

So, let's get three blind dogs (one is also partly deaf), a deaf dog and two others to all sit still and face the camera all at the same time and not yawn, not look goofy and stay still for a few minutes.  Easy!  Except for the fact that blind Hiker wandered away for a nap on the porch.  I called her, she came, sat and then got up and left as I was getting Breeze to sit and stay.  Forgot to tell Hiker to stay.  Called Hiker back, she is now acting deaf.  By the time I get Hiker back over to the deck, blind puppy Breeze has wandered off somewhere.  She hasn't quite got the whole sit and stay until released thing. Off to get Breeze, Hiker leaves again for her nap.  

Azule, who is deaf, saw a squirrel so the chase is on.  Not one to miss out on something that much fun, Forest is right behind her.  Blind and partly deaf Brook is not sure what is going on but she's following them.  Throughout all this, the one constant is Bill.  His butt never left that spot on the deck.  Told to stay, he'll stay.  As long as he can see me. 

"Is that big puppy still right beside me?"

Breeze: "If I crouch down, I won't look so big."

This one was taken a few weeks ago.  Too much shadow but at least it proves it can be done.

We'll keep trying.

Friday, November 09, 2012

"I want THAT one!"

Today was overcast, chilly and damp.  Yuck.  But do the dogs care?  Nope.  Let's get out there and see what's going on.  So we went.  Not far though, just the yard. 

While the wild ones were wrestling and chasing each other, I decided that I could probably rake some more leaves.  As I was doing that I discovered a small piece of antler that one of the pack had brought outside.  Bringing antlers and Kongs outside is not allowed.  Where we live, the antlers are $12 - $15 each for the size we need.  Too expensive to be taking outside since it's always times seven.  We can't have just one or two, everybody has to have one!

The piece I found was small, really small, less than two inches. 

I didn't think much of it, just tossed it inside on the kitchen floor.  Well, apparently it aged very well under the leaves in the rain and became the must have antler.  We have others.  Big ones, ready for chewing on but no, this little piece was the one, the must have one.

All the dogs had a chance at it.  Yes, there were a few growls and snaps and likely some hurt feelings before I said, "enough" and threw it out.  Besides, it was getting so much attention that I was worried someone might swallow it and choke.

I did feel a bit sorry for the three blind girls, Hiker, Brook and Breeze because they were still trying to find it.  Sniffing around on the floor, no doubt thinking, "but it was just right here".   

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Yesterday, for Wordless Wednesday I posted a photo of Bill so I decided that it was time to tell you about Bill and how he came to be named Bill.

Back in January 2009, I adopted Bill through an Australian Cattle Dog rescue.  Bill was originally a stray with a healed vertical wound on his throat and a broken leg, found in a ditch in North Carolina. The lady that saw him was the mayor's wife and so he was named after the mayor! 

The location of the break in Bill's leg indicates that he was likely kicked. (blind and partly deaf Brook's leg was broken in the same place and we know she was kicked)  Initial surgery on Bill's leg to insert a metal rod resulted in infection and the decision was made to amputate.  A wonderful volunteer at the shelter stepped forward and paid for Bill to have another surgery to save his leg.  Months later, after healing, he was transferred to rescue. 

Our vet said that based on his initial x-rays showing the muscle loss, that Bill likely had the broken leg for a few months. It was a non-union and after the second surgery it took almost a year for the break to heal.

Bill had another surgery this past spring on the same leg, to remove the metal plate and screws.  His leg became swollen (on the Sunday of a long weekend - of course!) Off to the vet and then to the veterinary teaching hospital to see the surgeon. It was determined that the plate and screws had become infected and had to be removed.  

After surgery to remove the plate and screws

Now, after three surgeries on the same leg and a broken front leg, the joke with Bill is that he is living up to his name!    

Bill is very reserved and rarely plays with toys or the other dogs but is a laid back and happy boy who loves meeting people and when asked, "Where's your bad leg?" will happily show it in hopes of a scratch! (it usually works)

All the foster dogs and those that have been added to our pack, always go to Bill.  It must be his calm demeanor that attracts them.  Bill enjoys snuggle time with others and his best friend in the pack is Hiker, likely due to the fact that their personalities are so similar.

Hiker (post surgery, shaved around her eyes) and Bill
Unlike Hiker though, Bill is a worrier.  I always wonder if he is on the verge of an ulcer.  He thrives on routine and if the others get really wild and chaotic in the house, he goes to his spot on the couch (with his pillow) and ignores them. Even though he likes routine, we can (and do) go on big adventures - hiking, camping and backpacking.  Completely new routines but as long as Bill is with his human, he is a very happy boy.  The ultimate is going out as an only dog!

Bill loves to have his picture taken

Many people think that a stray dog with an unknown history and a leg that has had surgeries is too risky to take on.  Well, I don't think that way and Bill squashes all those concerns immediately.  He is extremely loving and if he could, he would be with me every minute of every day.  He is living proof (as are the rest of the pack) that you can bond with an adult dog and they will bond like (crazy) glue!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tasty Tuesday!

At our house, the word squash has two meanings.  

Definition # 1:  squash noun - a yummy fall vegetable, often roasted by humans and shared  with dogs as is or made into treats.

Definition # 2:  squash verb - what you do not do to the cat. "Leave it.  Do not squash the cat."

Going with definition # 1, I decided to roast another squash.  I saw an idea the other day to make squash chips in the oven.  Seemed like a good idea and simple.  So, that was the plan.  Well, best laid plans and all that!

Some of them burnt to a crisp and others didn't really do much at all.  I didn't put very many in to make chips but the ones that did crisp up were good and the dogs really liked them.  Really, really liked them so I'll do this again for a quick crunchy treat.

To make the chips, peel and thinly slice squash and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.  I also put in some thinly sliced sweet potato.

Then, it was squash soup.  Yummy!

The dark flecks are from the roasting.  I suppose if it was strained through a cheesecloth those specks would be eliminated.

I don't ever follow a recipe for the soup, I just cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it, cut side down at 400 for about 30-40 minutes until tender.  Sometimes I will add a sweet potato or two, sometimes some an onion and some garlic.  Once it's cooled, I scoop out the flesh, put it in the blender with the other vegetables, some vegetable stock and puree/blend.  It depends on how thick you want the soup as to how much stock to use.  (If you wanted, you could use chicken stock but I use vegetable to keep it vegan)  That's it.  Really simple and really yummy!  If you're creative, you could roast the seeds and use them as a garnish on the soup.

Since the oven was on from roasting the squash, I decided to make a pumpkin loaf.  (Yes, sometimes I have this much time!  I also made two loaves of bread and did a couple loads of laundry, all before noon)

While all this was going on, the dogs were underfoot, no doubt hoping for more of the squash chips.

It got to the point that they were all getting whiny, like little kids that need a nap.  That was really the problem.  They needed naps.  Since I was so busy doing things, they wouldn't settle down and sleep - they might miss something!  The exception to this was, as usual, Hiker.  She laid in her crate and wanted no part of it.  Some how though, she knew when the squash chips were being distributed and the fingertips of pumpkin puree too.  Not sure how she does that!

Definition # 2, "don't squash the cat" was used a few times this morning too.  It's usually the old guy Oscar and he will sit on the fourth step and hiss at Breeze, who still won't go UP the stairs.