Thursday, January 31, 2013

A couple of questions for you.

I got to thinking yesterday as I wrote about doing laundry after the pack had their bones in their crates.  I got to thinking about what other people use for bedding.

So, can I ask?  

What do you use for bedding? Do you use a crate and if so, is the bedding different in there than outside of it?

With the exception of one pillow type dog bed, all of the bedding we have is from thrift stores. We have about five or six children's sleeping bags that were as cheap as 50 cents to $3.99 each. They are a great fit in the big crate and folded in half (four layers of comfort!) in the smaller crates.  

Brook uses adult incontinence pads in her crate. (it's okay that I tell you that, she knows she has a tiny bladder) Again, a thrift store find for 75 cents to $1.25 each. They are wonderful because they are very absorbent and the top layer of material stays dry so she's not laying in wet. Prior to finding the pads, I used puppy training pads but being plastic they were slippery and just bunched up, being useless.

There are also some receiving blankets that I have sewn together with a layer of quilt batting inside to make a small sleeping pad for Hiker on top of the dog bed pillow. Hiker is the only one who isn't crated but she loves her crate (there is no door attached).

Hiker looks like the princess from The Princess and the Pea!

Callie has the mattress from a free standing hammock. Our neighbors were tossing it out since the hammock frame was broken and asked if we might be able to use the mattress. Yes! It's not overly thick but folded in half makes for a great bed and surprisingly, it washes and dries very well.

For an extra layer of comfort, I've taken pieces of carpet, trimmed the edges with duct tape to prevent fraying and use that as a crate liner with bedding on top. A bonus in doing that is that at night there is no noise of nails on the plastic crate liner since it's now covered in carpet and also, the bedding doesn't slide around as much.

I've also lined the crate in the car with carpet. That black plastic tray liner gets scorching hot in the summer and cardboard was getting mushy all the time after the dogs would go swimming. Also, the cardboard was too slippery for the bedding to stay in place.

If you have a minute, let us know what you use for bedding.  Either here in the comments or leave a comment/link and tell us on your blog.

I'm bored!

When there is a pack of house dogs combined with lousy weather, "I'm bored" (the dogs, not me!) is always looming in the background.

The rainy weather we've been having (again) means that the trails are extremely muddy/swampish and ice in places. Not good for a sighted dog and certainly not suitable for blind ones.  

So, once again, time to come up with something to keep the pack amused indoors. Yes, they do go out in the yard but not for long.  Yesterday's post was our backyard and as you could see, lots of ice and water. It now looks like this - still lots of water but now we have mud instead of ice.

Hiker thought she wanted out.

"I think I might go out for a wander around the yard."

"I'm not going out there. It's still raining."

Time for some long lasting treats. The type of treat that they only get once or twice a year.

Yes, that's right. Real bones. One for each of them.  (I always look for smallish ones at the grocery store and store them in the freezer until there is one for everybody)

To avoid any problems with someone wanting the one that somebody else had, everybody except Hiker and Callie were crated. Callie had hers in "her room"  behind the gate. Hiker went upstairs as she always does with something she's not willing to share.

Breeze made lots of soft grumbly sounds while gnawing on her bone. Not real growls and she didn't appear to be agitated.  Here she is just before I shut the door of her crate. 

When they were all done with stripping the bones, a big load of laundry and fresh crate bedding for everyone.

Now that all the good stuff is gone from the inside and the outside of the bones, they will be shared and gnawed on for months. It does look a bit odd to have seven chunks of bone laying around the living room! 

Monday, January 28, 2013


For last few months I've been making a real effort to avoid buying processed, ready-made type foods. Partly due to wanting to eat healthier and partly due to trying to cut costs.  

One thing that I have decided to eliminate from the pantry is microwave popcorn. It's not something I eat very often, only occasionally at work and never at home. It isn't something I make at home since I'm not much of a snacker.  For some reason (I'm blaming night shift) I decided that popcorn would be a great idea in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. (it was a shorter night shift, only eight hours on Sundays not the usual twelve, so I had some extra time)

I got out the big pot, heated a little oil in the bottom, poured in the popping corn and waited. Nobody seemed to care, not even when the popping started. Once it was done and the smell wafted into the living room, a couple of the pack wandered into the kitchen to see what was happening, which of course prompted everyone else to follow.

Hiker, ready, just in case there is something.

I had a decision to make. Popcorn in their bowls to have a fair and controlled distribution or just hand out pieces like treats. I went with the bowls. Some of them have had popcorn once or twice but not for a long time. Breeze was the funniest. She seemed very confused. 


You can see that she is standing far back from her bowl.  Breeze was no doubt expecting kibble, not this stuff. She picked out a piece, rolled it around in her mouth then spit it out. Back to the bowl and repeat. By this time, Forest was done and was looking for more. Here he is trying to get the pieces that Breeze spit out. She took a few minutes to make up her mind but decided that she like it after all. (Note: another dog getting close has not been allowed in the past due to Breeze's outbursts of growling and air snapping. I decided to let Forest get close and see what she would do. Breeze had no reaction at all.)

 Bill is somewhat food obsessed and gobbled his up with no hesitation.

Then, one more small handful to share with no bowl.

That last handful, I might have made some remark about how clean our floors are. So clean you can eat off them!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just a moody adolescent?

I think that we have a moody adolescent.  

You know how young teenage girls can go from lovable, happy and drawing smiley faces, flowers and hearts on everything one minute, to crying, screaming, "Why are you always picking on's not fair...nobody likes me" the next minute? The type of behavior that leaves those around them thinking, ".....what the....?"

Our moody adolescent is a blind nine month old puppy named Breeze.  

"I'm too cute to be moody!"

I've been thinking about her behavior that I've mentioned previously.  The sudden growls, barks and air snaps that occurred while she was eating and while laying quietly.  There is never any competition for food. No other dogs are closer than ten feet to her while she eats behind an expandable baby gate. (I measured. I'm like that.) For whatever reason, Breeze is now a happy-go-lucky pup at meal times.  When she's finished eating, she sits quietly and waits for the gate to be moved.  I've done nothing different. Same blanket to stand on, same routine (sit, shake, good girl) same food, same dish. Not a sound other than the kibbles clinking off the sides of the metal dish.

The growls, air snaps and barks as she lay quietly on the couch or bed would occur in patterns of no more than 15 minutes apart.  Often it would be 8 to 10 minutes and she'd seem panicked about something.  One day, I whispered, more to myself in frustration than anything else "Breeze, why do you do that? You're safe." She immediately wagged her tail and quieted. So, 12 minutes later, when she started again, I whispered. Same reaction.  Huh? It's working so that's what I do now. Whisper and "sshhhh." 

Breeze comes upstairs to bed (depending on whether or not it's a work day/night) and her outbursts there are becoming less frequent. I'm also seeing longer times, up to an hour, between her outbursts in the living room.

So, maybe it's jut a phase she's going through. A moody adolescent type of thing that she is beginning to out grow.  

Here's hoping!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gerrard and hiking with Callie

In addition to the pack of dogs, our home also has Gerrard. He is often referred to as The Wonder Kitty since it's a wonder he survived his few weeks.  

It was over six years ago that I found him out in the wilderness while walking with Cairo. He was a tiny little kitten whose eyes weren't open.  There was no sign of Momma Cat, no nest, no litter mates.  Home he came, to be fed every few hours with a syringe of kitten milk replacer (KMR) and fussed over by Cairo, who became his surrogate mother.  At the time of his first vet visit, his age was estimated to be four or five days old.  

Gerrard is somewhat of a nature vs nurture experiment.  He's not the attention demanding cat that most people thought he would be.  He's not much of a lap cat, he prefers to not be fussed over and usually likes to be left alone. He does, however, let the dogs know when he's had enough of their attention. Hiker is the one who likes to pester him.

Hiker and Gerrard

The weather lately has gone from a few inches of snow to really warm, melting all the snow and then back to cold with a dusting of snow. At least with the cold, the ground went from soft mushy mud to frozen mud.  Much easier for hiking, so out we went!

Callie was smelling or hearing something during the first part of our walk.  As I was taking this picture, she was staring intently and huffing occasionally but I didn't see or hear anything.  I told her that since we were only ten minutes north of town, I wasn't too worried.  Now, if we were out in the true wilderness, I'd be concerned about bears. 

Typical Callie gave me that, "I warned you" look.

Whatever it was, it didn't bother her for long and then we were on our way.

This is where she usually jumps in for a swim, but it was frozen over. 

The creek adjacent to this was still flowing.

There were quite a few areas of standing water along the trail that were frozen but then we came to one that wasn't frozen but had a slightly greenish/gray tinge to it.  Callie "asked" to go in and I said no way! There was something in that water preventing it from freezing so stay out!

We found some other water that looked more normal so in she went.

Then it was time to head for home to let the others out to play.

Forest being tough, Azule not taking him seriously.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Look what we got!

A little while ago, one of our favorite blogs, 2punkdogs had a give away of a Ruff Wear dog pack.  It was too big for their dogs and they asked if anyone out in the land of blogs was interested in it.  Well, based on the suggested measurements, it would fit at least one of the acd pack and we were the lucky recipients, it arrived yesterday!

Of course, once the box was opened, the pack was thoroughly sniffed and sniffed again.

"Maybe there is a cat inside here!"
Callie tried the pack on first.  She wasn't overly impressed with it.

Callie: "I will not be wearing this."    

I assured Callie that it wasn't that bad and that she certainly would be wearing it and would be fine. (We'll be talking more about that later.)

Our blind puppy Breeze also tried it on and it fits her a bit better since she is bigger than Callie.

Breeze wasn't too sure about the pack either but at least she didn't make faces about it like Callie.  

2punkdogs also sent us a paw print silicone baking tray!  We'll be trying that out soon to make some more peanut butter pooch treats. 

A big thank you to 2punkdogs!

Do your dogs ever think about a career?
Our deaf girl Azule, along with blind Breeze might be thinking about a career in policing.  Azule thinks that since her vision is so good and she can run very fast and likes to chase, she would be a good candidate for a police dog.

Even though she's blind, Breeze thinks that since her hearing is so good and she can find things by sniffing, she could be a good police dog too.

Well, a career in policing is not going to happen but they did, of course,  enjoy the attention!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Visiting the big city.

First, we would like to thank everyone for their kind words regarding the passing of our dude Oscar.  We really appreciate your comments.

On Tuesday, I was off to the big city, about a forty-five minute drive away.  As often happens, the day began with the question of who to take. Only one could accompany me since I had an appointment at the bank and I don't want to annoy anyone by strolling in with more than one. During breakfast I debated and finally decided to take Azule, our deaf girl.

Before we went to the bank, we detoured to a Pet Smart store that was closing and having a clearout sale of 50% off everything.  The sale had been on for a week already but I still found some good bargains and Azule had a great time meeting other dogs and getting fussed over by the staff.
Here's what we got:

Then we were off to the bank.

Azule enjoyed the big window in our bank lady's office.

There were treats for Azule and the empty container smelled really yummy!

Even though these pictures a bit blurry, I promised our bank lady that she would be featured.  Those are her toes in the first picture and her leg in the second!

Then it got boring for Azule as important banking business was conducted.  Sigh.

When we got home, it was time to play.  Gerrard the wonder kitty was thrilled to have a new toy (even though it's pink).


Callie really likes the ball and I am hoping it lasts.  There was only one, if there had been more I would have bought a couple and a bigger size would have been nice. But, hey, for $2.00 I'm not complaining!

Callie: "Throw it! Throw it!"
The ball bounces really well and once we determine the durability of it, we might see about getting a bigger one.  I like the fact that it's quiet as it bounces, an important factor in a fetch toy for those mornings when we are out playing at 4:15 a.m. Now, if we could get one that glows in the dark, we'd be all set!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Heart worm test

Before we tell you about the heart worm test, we have some sad news to share.  Our older cat Oscar (Breeze's buddy) was euthanized a few days ago.   Oscar's health had been failing for a while.  He began stumbling every so slightly back around the beginning of November and also had some intestinal issues.  We got the intestinal issues cleared but his stumbling became more frequent and worsened to the point where Oscar was falling and not able to walk more than a few steps at a time.  

We don't really know what caused this, our veterinarian suggested it may be a brain tumor, but we do know that it was something with his central nervous system since all four limbs were affected.  


Oscar was a rescue and the shelter (same one where Callie was adopted), at the time of his adoption estimated his age at eight or nine years old.  Oscar lived with us for four and a half wonderful years.

We aren't without a dude though, we still have Gerrard a.k.a. The Wonder Kitty and I think that in a future post we'll tell you more about him and why he is the wonder kitty.

Okay, back to the happy tone that we want for this blog.

Where we live, we test for heart worm in April.  Breeze was at the vet's a few days ago for her test since when she was adopted back in July (where has the time gone?!) she could have been exposed, so rather than wait, we decided to test early.  She has been on heart worm prevention since adoption.

Hooray - negative!

While at the vet's, Breeze was weighed and at age nine months, she is now tipping the scales at a long legged and muscular 48 pounds.  Now, to some of you, that may not sound like much, but in a home of Australian Cattle Dogs, she's big. 

Breeze, Forest and Oscar

Breeze's posting on the Blind Deaf Shelter Dog website (which lists blind and/or deaf shelter dogs across North America, most of which are are within days of being euthanized...just in case you're interested and maybe can save the life of a special needs dog...come on, I had to put that in there!) indicated that she was an Australian Cattle Dog mix.  I think the emphasis should be on mix.  I haven't yet measured her height but she is probably one and a half to two inches taller than Callie who is the biggest of the pack.

We talked a bit about what mix she could be since and the vet agrees that there is likely some lab in her (Breeze has the "lab butt wiggle"), possibly some Cattle Dog, possibly shepherd, possibly some Dalmatian and whatever other breed we'd like to add.  We've also had people say she looks like a small great dane.

Since Breeze still has more growing to do, she'll easily be big enough to become a canine blood donor at the University's teaching hospital/small animal clinic.  The requirements are a minimum of 50 pounds and at least a year old.  It's something we will be inquiring about.

Our unseasonably warm weather continues.  It's still raining with record setting high temperatures forecast of 11C/52F for today but tomorrow is to be a high of only -2C/28F with sun.  We'll probably check out some trails and see if they're frozen mud or just mud.  Either way, the pack will be happy to be outside without rain!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rainy day fun.

At this time of year where we live, we usually have snow.  Recently, we've had rain and record high temperatures. Due to the rain and resulting mud-pit of a backyard, outdoor play time is limited and with work, well, there could be some disgruntled dogs.  There are the usual toys and antlers to chew and of course the stuffed Kongs but in an effort to keep things interesting, I decided to see what they would do with a cardboard carton from some root beer.  

Forest immediately laid claim to it and decided that it should be destroyed.

Breeze joined in on the fun.

Breeze: "Let me help you rip that apart."
Then it was over.

Forest: "Now what are we gonna do?" about an empty water bottle? (Just in case you have a slightly warped sense of humor like I do - yes, a full bottle of water would be a whole lot more fun for them!)

Breeze: "Can I have that?"

"Perhaps I can intimidate you with my blind stare"

Later, Azule was looking out the front window for potential threats and Breeze wanted her attention. The video is dark but shows (I think) how smart blind Breeze is and how stubborn a deaf Australian Cattle Dog named Azule is.

There was also the usual group play.

And the Kong Wubba.

The weather is to return to normal with cold temperatures in the next few days so the mud will freeze and we'll be back outside to play.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Warm winter day.

We've been having some unusually warm winter weather the past few days and Saturday's forecast high is 11C/51F!  Of course, with warm temperatures comes snow melt and the dreaded mud. Oh well, it does make for some nice hiking weather, especially since it's been sunny too.

I took Bill, Hiker and Forest out yesterday.  

(They look a bit squished but there is plenty of room for all of them to lay down and relax. They slept all the way home.)

The trail we went to is a favorite and as usual we were the only ones there.  Lots to explore and sniff.  


Sometimes, Hiker gets a bit rambunctious during the off trail exploring and this is what happens.

Hiker: "Oops, I don't think this the way to wear Doggles."
It's interesting to note that when this happened, she sat immediately and waited for me.  Later on our hike, she somehow got her dew claw caught in the ring of her I.D. tag.  Again, she immediately sat and waited for me to help. It's not something I have taught her but I'm sure glad that she does it. 

(I often take their collars off for pictures.  At home they don't wear them.)

Bill, Hiker and Forest

There were some tired dogs when we got home.


The others?  Not to worry, they played out in the yard, chased each other, wrestled and chased some more!  

I try and mix up the group that I take out for a hike and sometimes, only one goes.  I know they don't keep track of who went last time nor do they think, "why can't I go?" (well, maybe Hiker does...)