Monday, December 31, 2012

Basket Cases

Let us clarify that title.  

If you're thinking that we're finally ready to admit that we are a bunch of basket cases here, well, no, we're not ready to admit that yet.  

Basket as in laundry basket.

I've seen pictures of dogs lounging in laundry baskets but haven't seen it in our house until about a week ago.  Forest, for some reason, decided that the basket of laundry was a good place to lay with a bone. (The basket was already falling apart. Why do I never remember to put laundry basket on the list when I go shopping?)

Blind puppy Breeze was interested in this new place to lay and the fact that Forest had something that maybe she might want. She never climbed in, I think she realized she's too big.  Later, Breeze "buried" an antler in the laundry and then "dug" it up and repeated this a few times. 

Then deaf Azule decided to try it, perhaps thinking it was a good spot to keep an eye on the cats.

Blind and partially deaf Brook tried it out and liked it.

Then Gerrard "the wonder kitty" decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The most interesting thing to me was that blind Brook climbed in and lay there.  She obviously wasn't copying what she saw!

As for the others, Hiker prefers her crate over anywhere else now that it's winter.  Bill would never lay in a laundry basket, that's just too different and Callie was lounging on her princess sleeping bag, wondering what the heck those silly young ones were doing.

So now I am debating whether or not to take a basket which has seen better days and make it into yet another dog bed for the kitchen.  So what if it looks like we always have a basket of laundry in the kitchen, the dogs will like it.  

It's all about them.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brook's 2nd Gotcha Day!

A little over two years ago, the decision was made to add another dog our home.  It would be a rescue, special needs and an Australian Cattle Dog.  The search began. 

I saw a bio from a small rescue in Indiana that indicated a five month old puppy had been abused. She was kicked, resulting in a broken leg that was left untreated for a few days.  After being surrendered to rescue and having an operation on her leg, which had completely healed, she was ready for adoption.  The bio ended with one other fact.  She was completely blind.  Many e-mails and phone calls quickly followed and the adoption was finalized after a long drive to the rescue!

Brook's first day at home

Brook often has a slight head tilt which makes it seem like she is paying very close attention when she hears something.  Initially, I thought that since she is blind, she's just really listening.  Well, as time went on, it became apparent that she is partly deaf.  Brook does well indoors but large open areas cause confusion.  I've explained to the neighbors that I'm not yelling at her, she just doesn't hear well.  They are all dog people and understand.

Hiker was happy to have a new playmate and the two became instant friends.

Oscar the cat wasn't as happy.

Brook visits the veterinary opthamologist at the university teaching hospital every six months.  Our first visit determined that her blindness is due to detached retinas.  It was suggested that an appointment could be made with another specialist who might be able to operate and possibly restore some vision.  The chances of a successful surgery are extremely low and I have no intention of putting her through that.  I adopted her knowing she was blind and am totally okay with it.

Intense is the best word to describe Brook.  (She is the opposite of Hiker!)  Brook is the one who will run or jump into something with all four feet and wants to be the first to get there, even if she has no idea where she is going! Then, when it's time to relax, she wants to be snuggled tight.

Happy 2nd gotcha day Brook!  It's been a fantastic two years and we are looking forward to many, many more!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snow Day!

We didn't have a white Christmas where we live, instead we had a green Christmas and a white day after Boxing Day.  The pack, to put it mildly, were thrilled!  We had a dusting of snow a few weeks ago but this time, there was enough snow to get out the shovels and clear the driveway.

When they first went outside, blind puppy Breeze was hesitant.  She peed then went and sat in the enclosed porch.  All the others were running around, chasing each other, eating snow and having a fun time.  Not Breeze.  Hmmmm...unusual.  Then I realized what was likely the problem.  Since we had so much snow, she couldn't hear the others coming. I thought about getting out some extra collars and putting bells on them but as I was contemplating this, Breeze ventured back out and began to explore.


Typical Bill.  Just posing for a picture!

Callie and her tire (it really is a dog toy!)

There was some dancing.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Good dog or bad dog?

So, I got to thinking about what makes a good dog versus a bad dog.  No, no, there was no catastrophic event, sometimes I just get to thinking. 

Part of the reason this came to mind is because the pack (I don't know know who) got into a bag with a few (cleaned) plastic containers I was returning last week to a co-worker who brought me some leftover Indian and Jamaican food from a family get together (really yummy!!).  The plastic bag was shredded and the containers were destroyed.

I bought some new containers and also sent some homemade dog treats along with our thanks and apologies.

I brought the destroyed containers into work along with the shredded bag and showed a few dog people as well as my co-worker that brought the leftovers and we all laughed.  A couple of people asked if the dogs were now in trouble.  Nope.  Not a big deal.  I agree, they shouldn't have taken them or chewed on them, but, whatever. They occasionally get plastic water bottles and likely to them, plastic is plastic.  Which got me thinking about people and dogs we know.

I know someone, who, whenever I ask about their dogs, the response is almost always the same. "They're so bad."  Another person I know gets frustrated and gives up when the dogs jump all over the furniture and chew things they shouldn't, such as carpet on the stairs, the coffee table and kid's toys.  They too say, "These dogs are so bad."

So, I wonder.  Is the dog good or bad based upon the human perception?  Whenever I am asked how my dogs are, my responses are always positive.  I don't dwell on or emphasize the negative.  Am I just a more positive person than people I know? 

Of course the acd6pack gets into things and does things I wish they wouldn't, however my first thought in reference to my dogs is that they are wonderful! They are loving, sweet, affectionate and funny.  Not bad.  Not at all.  Am I naive and actually have horrible, untrained dogs that don't listen and destroy the house?  No.  We receive compliments from people we know and complete strangers on how well behaved and nice and friendly the dogs are.  The dogs get invited to people's homes and workplaces.  Our vet has said, on more than one occasion, "You have the nicest rescues."

If you think your dog is good, does that make him/her (or them) a better dog?  Is it that they will be what you perceive them to be? Have we here at acd6pack just been lucky with the dogs that make up this pack and all the fosters we've lived with or is it the consistency, love and exercise in a stable home?  Is it just expecting good behavior and guiding the dogs to achieve?

Just some thoughts on good and bad (naughty and nice!) during the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve

Breeze decided to try and steal a Christmas kiss from Forest.  He was not amused.  

Or maybe he was playing hard to get.

No. Not amused.

That's okay, Bill is always willing to snuggle.

Later, Azule found a ball and Breeze was a bit confused by it for some reason.

"What is that thing?"
 And now, waiting for Santa.

Breeze: "Do you see Santa yet?"
Azule: "What?"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A sign.

A couple of days ago a truck from the township's public works department stopped at the end of our driveway  (thanks to the pack, especially Forest, for the intruder alert).  Once the workers left, we all went back outside to see what they had done.  

They installed a sign.  About two feet from the end of our driveway (we live close to a corner).

I told the pack what was on the sign and the blind visually impaired trio, Hiker, Brook and Breeze all decided that it must mean that where we live, dogs are people too!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A hike with Hiker

I took Hiker out.  All by herself.  Just the two of us! 

Hiker is extremely social (more than me most of the time) but doesn't play a lot with others, she never really has.  The four that do the most rough-housing are Forest, deaf Azule, blind and partly deaf Brook and blind Breeze. They will chase each other around, play with each other with toys and in general, be wild and rambunctious.  So, I decided to take Hiker out. (Okay, part of it was that it was Hiker's 3rd Gotcha Day.)

Before we left, I crated those staying home.  This is what happened when I said, "Brook.  Get in."

Brook seems to think that if she falls to the floor, rolls over and has no muscle tone that she won't have to go in.  She likes her crate, she's just a silly pup!

We went to a trail that we've only visited once before, back sometime last year.  It tends to be a busy trail system and so we avoid it but this late in the season, there was only one car in the parking lot.

This is one of the reasons why Hiker wears Doggles.  She loves to explore and sniff and of course, that increases the risk of a penetrating injury (to use the vet's description).  Now that her eyes have been removed, there is less concern but I like the extra protection the Doggles give her, she is used to wearing them and I think they look good!

The other reason I am not a fan of this trail system is that it's very curvy and as a result, you can't see too far ahead if someone and their dog is approaching.  Sure enough, an overweight lab comes lumbering around a corner and right at us.  The owner?  He's about 15 feet back and yelling the ever famous and often dreaded, "My dog is friendly!".  Grrrrr......what if mine isn't?   It's situations like that cause me to be very selective of where I take Callie.  She would not appreciate that.  Not at all.  Fortunately Hiker is almost bomb proof.

Then it was time for a nice picture along the river.  Great weather for mid December, especially since we had snow a few weeks ago.

Hiker was just a happy girl out for an off leash trail walk.

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hiker - Happy 3rd Gotcha Day!

A little over three years ago, I sent a happy-it's-going-well type of update to the rescue that I adopted Bill from.  Within that update, I commented that having two dogs again was great, someday I'd like to add a third.  I was surprised to receive an e-mail asking me if I would consider a blind Australian Cattle Dog mix puppy that was approximately eight months old.  She had been pulled from a high kill shelter in Kentucky and was being transported to the rescue.

My first reaction to the e-mail was something like, "Blind?  A blind puppy?  But we camp, we hike and backpack."  

The rescue had great confidence in me and told me that I could do it. That Bill and Callie would help teach her also.  Once the puppy arrived at the rescue, they sent some pictures and a further description detailing her undeveloped eyes and the scars across the back of her neck and the scar from her left eye up through her ear, part of which is missing, causing it to droop.  

After lots of thought and e-mails with the rescue, we made arrangements to go and meet her and see what a blind puppy was all about. She had only been at the rescue a few days and was unsure of where she was and was happening...but, well, there was something about her.  I signed the adoption papers and that day she came home!

I named her Hiker because that is what she would be.  No, it's not a girly name but a constant reminder of her capabilities.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I don't coddle or treat special.  My attitude is let's get out there and get going and we haven't stopped yet!

taken:  December 13, 2012

We have both learned so much over the past three years.  I've taught Hiker many things and allowed her to be a regular dog.  She loves to travel, hike, camp and backpack. In return, she has taught me to relax and slow down. (you can't rush a blind dog!)

It's been a fantastic three years and we are looking forward to many, many more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tasty Tuesday!

Since we now have some nifty cookie cutters for dog biscuits, I have tried a couple of recipes and of course the pack was more than willing to taste test.  Some were obviously yummier than others.  It seems though, that all of them smelled good while baking since there were a few kitchen helpers, as usual.

Forest, Brook and Hiker patiently waiting to taste test.
I used our little cookie cutters as well as a bigger bone shaped one that I bought so that we could share some cookies with our neighbor dogs who are bigger than the Australian Cattle Dogs.  Dave is a Great Dane/Mastiff mix and our other neighbor is Max, a Poodle/Retriever mix and he has a little teeny tiny doggie cousin named Pete who is a Teacup Poodle, so we gave them both sizes.

"Beep, beep", these are going in the oven!
So, our latest and favorite recipe is one I found here:

I made a couple of slight modifications to the recipe. I omitted the egg and replaced it with ground flax seed and water, a vegan egg substitution. Also, I didn't use the chunky peanut butter, only smooth and chose to use an organic natural peanut butter.  I also baked on parchment paper.

Just to make it easier, here's the original recipe:

Crunchy Peanut Butter Dog Treats


  • 1 cup dry oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, peanut butters, water, canola oil and egg.
  3. Lightly flour a flat, clean surface and roll the mixture out to about ¾ inch thickness. Cut mixture using a canine-themed cookie cutter and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side and then flip the treats over and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and let cool thoroughly, about 2 hours. They will harden as they cool.

Source: adapted from Dog Paw Print
Brook:  "I think I heard you say there are more cookies."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where's my shoe?!

Let me set the scene for you.  Monday morning, 5:20 a.m.  It's very dark outside, temperature around 2C/35F and rainy.  I'm getting ready to leave for work and can't find my other shoe.

Me:  Where's my shoe?  Have you seen my black shoe?

Brook (blind and partly deaf):  Your...uh...dock glue?


Brook:  Oh, I dunno.  I thought you said dock glue.  Do we even have dock glue?  It's probably with the camping stuff.  Hmmmm...where is the camping stuff? We should go camping again.

Me:  Breeze?  Where's my shoe?

Breeze (blind, exuberant eight month old puppy): HI!  Here I am.  HI!!

Me:  Did you take my shoe?

Breeze:  HI!!

Me: Hiker, do you have my shoe?

Hiker (blind and if she could be giggling, she would be):  I haven't seen it!

Me:  I'm coming in your crate.  I need my shoe.

Hiker is wagging her tail and wiggling as I reach in, feel around and discover my shoe underneath her.

Me:  Hiker....

Hiker (blind):  I said I hadn't SEEN it!

Yup, a funny bunch and we're still keeping the fun in dysfunctional.

Sunday afternoon I went visiting the neighbors to drop off some dog biscuits I had made.  I wasn't going to be long.  Just a few minutes.  I won't crate.  They'll be fine, right?  Wrong!

I'm not sure how many of the little candy canes got eaten.  Nobody seemed to be feeling any ill effects so I'm not even sure who ate them.  I went to each of them and tried to smell their breath.  Who smells like candy cane?!

That's a little hand held vacuum that they ripped the lid of the box off.  I wonder if they were thinking they could clean up and I wouldn't notice.  The other casualty was a cardboard produce basket.  

Next time I shall crate.

The dog biscuits I delivered?  Very much appreciated and well received.  More on those tomorrow for Tasty Tuesday!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Forest - Happy 1st Gotcha Day!

How time flies.  It was a year ago today that Forest came home!  What a year it has been, a year in which he went from being a very scared, underweight and neglected puppy to a dog who loves attention and loves to play and explore.

It all started with a Petfinder listing I saw from a small rescue in Michigan that was looking for an Australian Cattle Dog experienced home for a young ACD who had been very neglected.  This puppy was from a farm where he had been adopted at eight weeks old. The adopters made a pen of chicken wire and tree branches in the corner of a horse pasture and there he stayed.  His only socialization was being fed once a day.  He had no name and had never been to the vet.  The people that had adopted him didn't want him because after a couple of months, they said he wasn't very friendly. By that time he was also bloated, underweight, full of worms and scared of everything.

After a few days at our home and almost constant observation on his part, Forest realized that the human-dog interaction was an okay thing.  In fact, it seemed like a really great thing! He gradually stopped cowering, shaking and peeing when someone looked at him and after about a week, he could be touched without acting terrified. It didn't take long for him to crave attention and touch.  Now, he's a lap dog who loves being petted and fussed.

Forest learned to touch his blind pack mates with a toy or his paw to get them to play.  He discovered this after a few times of having Hiker and Brook walk away and ignore him. That was probably the hardest for me, watching him gather his courage to initiate play and then be ignored.

At home, Forest is always in the middle of whatever is going on and if there isn't anything going on, he'll start something!  

Happy 1st gotcha day Forest!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Breeze's food issue - update

I wanted to post an extra little post today and say thank you to all who have commented with suggestions and support for the recent problem blind pup Breeze has been having with growling at her food.  As you may recall, I am no longer feeding her in her crate with the door closed and have moved her to an alcove off the kitchen next to the bathroom and I put up a extra long baby gate to keep her in and not wandering while she should be eating.  I also mentioned previously that it seemed to calm her if I talked.  Well, here's the update!

Not sure what has changed other than the location, but it's working very well.  Yippee!  Breeze casually wanders over when called, I have her sit and then she gets her bowl of kibbles.  I put the gate up and she settles in.  There has only been the very occasional grumble that lasts maybe a second or two which is much less than previously.  As for me constantly talking, well, I think that she has realized that me babbling about handing out dishes of kibbles and commenting on the weather isn't riveting dinner conversation.

The growling at other times has almost disappeared also.  (I hope I am not jinxing it by saying anything)  Breeze has woken me up a few times a night in the past with her growling.  That has also stopped over the past few days. 

Here is a picture I took this afternoon.  I am working nights this week and therefore sleeping during the day.  Trying to anyway.  Mid afternoon, I woke up to somebody pulling on the covers.  Did I ever tell you how cute Breeze is and how much I love her?  (Never did like that cheap yellow comforter.)

See the lighter spots on the floor in about the middle of the picture?  Breeze was gnawing on the floor one day.  Sigh.  Yes, that's her crate there.  No, she doesn't sleep in it much any more.  She would have a growling fit all night/afternoon while I was trying to sleep.
So, I am cautiously optimistic about the change and thankful for your suggestions and support.

We need to talk to you!

Recently on the trip to buy kibbles, blind Hiker and the blind spotted wonder pup Breeze came along.  Both girls were enthusiastically greeted by the staff who has come to know the pack over the years.  We approached the counter and a lady in the store with a man and a smallish dog getting a nail trim said something along the lines of careful, our dog is blind.

The staff, with a big smile, pointed to us and said, "Both of those dogs are blind too! And they got another one at home.  They have three blind dogs."  The lady with the blind dog said, "Really?  Three blind dogs? We need to talk to you!"  She grabbed her husband's arm and dragged him over.  Turns out their dog was older and had recently lost his sight.  

Her question was, "How do you do it?"

My mind went blank. 

Living with three blind dogs and dealing with their disabilities is just such a part of every day life that it's not something I am conscious of any more.  I don't look at the pack and mentally categorize them, the blind ones, the deaf one, the one with...the bad leg, the challenging attitude, the scared one...  Yes, that is part of who they are, but to me, that does not define them.

So I told them my first thought was I don't coddle or treat my blind dogs any different and I went on to explain.  

I don't put padding on the edges of things they might bump, I don't have carpet runners as pathways to follow through the house.  I don't use a harness and a short leash when we're out.  I use a collar, normal length leash and if possible, they're off leash. They are encouraged to explore and experience new things.  They are expected to and do achieve the same level of acceptable behavior as their sighted pack mates.

I've watched all three learn to check if there is another dog on the couch or on the chair before jumping up.  I use my foot as a gentle nudge or guide since it's quicker then bending down.  I open doors slower and those doors have squeaky hinges that aren't oiled and I watch where their heads are so they don't get bumped.

I've rearranged the furniture because I wanted to. We go hiking, camping and backpacking. We've stayed in hotels and in a house where other dogs had lived.

I laugh at them as they are wrestling, leap and land on nothing because they are blind and completely miss the other.  I laugh as they throw a toy in the air then pounce almost on it, sniff around until they find it and then I enthusiastically congratulate them.  I smile at the cats who are smart enough to step aside when one of the blind dogs tries to make contact. I am happy for them as they discover new things like trying to push their noses through the fence to get at the tomato plants so they can pick their own.  I still get a little thrill every time they chase a squirrel, based on sound alone, as it runs along the top of the wooden fence.

It's a proud feeling to watch my blind dogs confidently venture forth in the world that to them will always be dark.  Seeing them fearlessly run along a trail, play in a pile of leaves, swim in the ocean, run along the beach and enthusiastically greet strangers makes me happy.

So I said to the couple and their older blind dog that since they have had their dog for years and he knows the house and yard and they're still taking him out and about, just keep doing what you're doing.  Reward courage and ignore fear.  I did suggest that people or other pets wearing a bell might help the older and newly blind dog get his bearings but, if it were me, I told them that I really wouldn't do much different. 

I shared with them a bit about a blind foster dog we had last year.  I got him from a "free to good home" ad.  He was a ten year old lab that had been blind for a couple of years. Patience and a sense of humor went a long way to help get him settled.  He adapted to our home and enjoyed laying around with the others, loved going for walks and meeting people.

Was I a help to the people at the store?  I don't know.  I hope so.  Just like this blog.  Maybe it will help alleviate concerns, be a place that someone will ask questions or get somebody to realize the potential of a special needs dog. (like the deaf puppy that Blueberry's human told us about the other day: )

I like to think that we are helping to make a difference beyond our pack.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tasty Tuesday!

I've been admiring the cute little cookie cutters and molds that so many have for making treats.  Blueberry's human suggested Michael's as a source but there isn't one close to where we live and I forgot to go when we went to the big city.  But, yesterday while at the Bulk Barn...look what I found!  There was a huge selection of cookie cutters and I decided on the small bone and a cat.

The best part is that they were less than a dollar each!  So, it was time to make some biscuits.  Did I have a recipe?  Nope, I never did get around to printing one.  Note to self, print dog biscuit recipes! 

With no recipe, I just used some fresh baked squash, some brown rice flour and a pinch of garlic powder.  I rolled the dough out and used the cookie cutters.  They turned out very crispy but tasted bland (yes I tried one).  There were no complaints from the pack though, they all really like anything crispy, even bland and boring things.

To boost the flavour, I made little sandwich cookies using peanut butter as a filler.

I roasted the squash seeds using a suggestion to first boil the seeds for 10 minutes and then drying them before roasting.  This made them less "woody" and with some seasoned salt, a yummy human treat.

Since the oven was on and I was feeling ambitious I decided to make bread.  I've seen recipes for an orange cranberry bread that doesn't require kneading and is baked in a dutch oven.  Well, I don't have a dutch oven so decided to try and modify my basic bread recipe (which makes two loaves) by adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup each of dried cranberries and slivered almonds.  I also added the grated rind of two oranges and replaced the water called for in the recipe with orange juice.

The only problem I am having lately with making bread is the rising.  Our home thermostat is set at 62F/17C.  Bread needs a temperature of 75F/24C - 85F/29C to rise.  I've used, with limited success, a cooler rinsed with boiling water and covered with a couple of blankets.  Anyways, the bread didn't rise as much as it should have, but tasted very yummy!  It was good plain, toasted and toasted with peanut butter for breakfast.

While the yeast bread was baking, I made an orange quick bread.  It's from the Company's Coming Muffins and More cookbook by Jean Pare.  Copyright 1983, Twelfth Edition 1989 by Company's Coming Publishing Limited.

(yes, there is a small chunk missing on the right edge, it stuck
and I was getting very tired and wasn't as careful as I should
have been removing it from the pan!)

Orange Loaf

1/2 cup butter or marjarine
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
grated rind from one orange
juice from one orange and water to make 1/2 cup

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream butter and sugar.  Add one egg, mix well. Add second egg and mix well.  Stir in rind and juice.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients and walnuts.

Combine wet and dy, stir to moisten.

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350F for one hour.  Check for doneness with a toothpick.

Glaze while hot from the oven with:
Juice from one orange and 1/4 cup sugar, heated to dissolve the sugar.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool.

Note:  I easily veganized this recipe by using ground flax seed and water for   the eggs and a vegetable marjarine.

I'm going to look for some dog biscuit recipes so that we can use our new cookie cutters again and make something more tasty!