Thursday, March 28, 2013

Renovations with dogs

In order to answer the often heard question, "How do you get anything done with all those dogs around?"  I though I would show you an example of how a typical project begins.

Time to paint the bathroom (the final painting project, we're almost done)

The bathroom is very small, open floor space is only about 15 square feet. 

Not too bad initially with deaf Azule laying in the doorway, blind/partly deaf Brook and Bill wandering by to see what is going on.

Of course, once two or three arrive, the others are likely to wonder what they are missing.

Typical Forest, he's brought a tug toy along.  

To keep the paint out of reach, I put it in the bathroom sink.  It was the only safe place I could think of!

With five dogs in the bathroom, two of them playing tug, Bill acting as if he is trapped against the bathtub (he's a nervous boy) I knew that I was not going to be painting.  

Me: "Come on you guys, out ya go."

That is all it takes, just a normal tone of voice, a finger pointed (for Azule) and off they go.  

Bill pretended to leave with the others but then came back in. 

As they left, I turned toward the tub and saw this...


Wednesday, March 27, 2013


In an attempt to keep the pack away from the recent painting projects, one day, they each received a special treat - a hoof.

Blind Brook had an interesting approach, shove it into the back of the old and decrepit chair. 

Then she got down and tried a different angle.

Then finally fully stretched out on the floor.

(See the spot on each back leg, at her hock? Those are extra pads, similar to the pads on her feet)

After everyone has had a good chew on the hooves they leave them for a few hours and then one or two become the must have ones.  I haven't yet figured out what makes some better than others, silly me, I thought the hooves were all the same.

A couple of days after these pictures were taken, there was one hoof that was no more than one inch in size.  It was the one.  I had to laugh at Breeze and Forest. She had it and was chewing for a while then got up and walked towards the kitchen for a drink of water. Breeze was only four or five steps away from the hoof when Forest leaped off the couch and grabbed it.  Breeze heard him, turned and lunged for the hoof, just missing it.  She stood there for a few seconds then seemed to realize that it was gone for now so she went off and got a drink of water.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Mischief

Who goes there?

It was between night shifts and I didn't realize how soft the muddy yard was or maybe I wasn't quite awake.  Either way, nobody got their feet wiped before coming inside.  But I know who this was.  

See the streaks of mud along the paw prints?  

It was Azule.

"What?!  Why me?  Breeze has big feet too!"

Yes, Breeze does have big feet but I know it was Azule because she is the only one who scuffs/drags her feet when she walks.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wallpaper and paint

Sometimes there are projects around the house that the dogs are not allowed to "help" with due to the location.  A few days ago I was tackling the closet in the bedroom where the litter box is, so no dogs allowed. We live in a very old house and the plaster in the closet was cracked and in places, the lathe was exposed.  So, to make it look nicer, I decided to remove the remaining tattered wallpaper and apply new.

Elsie checking the progress

I removed, in some places, four layers of wallpaper. One small section had this as the second layer.  I can't help but wonder how old it is and who applied it.

When we moved in to this house, there was some old and dirty carpet that was removed from all the bedrooms and under the carpet were layers of newspapers from 1943.  The carpet removal took much longer than it should have once those were discovered. Very interesting reading material with all the information on the war and the war related advertisements.  Just for fun, when  a few of the living room floor boards were lifted to be leveled, some of the old newspapers along with a couple of local current ones were placed under the boards for someone to find some day.

Back at the closet...when I set the wall paper water tray down, Elsie was very interested in it and playing with the water.

Then along came Gerrard to join the fun.

Checking the almost finished project

Our painting projects are (finally!) nearing completion. I saved the white painting until last so that is what we've been doing the past few days. As per usual, almost all the dogs were very interested in the latest project.  Callie was securely behind the gate in her room and Hiker was snuggled in her (doorless) crate with a freshly laundered sleeping bag. So, that left five to supervise the painting. 

Breeze and Forest

Yes, that is paint on Breeze's ear.

Brook, Bill and Breeze

Yes, that is paint on Brook's ear. (just in case you noticed, Brook's eye is gray/silver due to the detached retina)

Of course, Bill had paint on his ear too.

As did Azule.

These are the freshly painted spindles.  Fresh and wet paint.  For some reason, all the dogs tend to walk on that side of the hall and always brush against the spindles.

Since they all ended up with paint on their ears, I think they may have been trying to starting a special club or something.

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's spring!

As you know, spring arrived on Wednesday and therefore, Thursday was the first full day of spring. Hooray!

Here are some pictures of spring, taken at our home on Thursday.

This is Brook.  I can literally grab handfuls of that fluffy fur off her. Easier to do that than sweep it up off the floors.

This is what the first day of spring looked like outside on Thursday afternoon.

Bill wasn't too impressed.

"Spring? Are you sure?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken hearts

The title of this post is not a reflection on the pack, I'm not saying they are a bunch of chicken hearts, not at all.  We have chicken hearts.  From chickens. (I am finding them a bit gross since it has been a few years now that I've been eating almost exclusively vegan, but that's not what this is about.)

A few weeks ago, the pack received some dehydrated liver from fellow Canadian blogger US On Cloud Nine.  I've been considering a dehydrator for a while now and those pieces of liver decided it.  I knew I had to get one or else the pack was going to be trying to obtain bus tickets to go and find more of the dehydrated liver.

So, off to the local department store and we became the proud owners of dehydrator.  Let the fun begin!  I started with some fruit and dehydrated apples and bananas.  Yum!  Then we moved on to some potatoes (got a good deal, 10 pounds for 99 cents) and then some sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes after steaming, into the dehydrator trays

In the above picture, that's Brook at my feet, as usual.

Both the white potatoes and the sweet potatoes were a success with the sweet potatoes becoming dog treats.  Very, very popular and crunchy dog treats.

I had asked our veterinarian about the dehydrated liver and voiced my concerns about the fact that the liver was concentrated and whether or not it was "good" for the dogs to eat.  

Me:  "I'm just a bit concerned, you know, because of what the liver's function 
        is in the body.  Then it becomes concentrated with the dehydrating. I 
        wonder if that is maybe not such a good thing for them to eat."

Dr. R: "Really?  That's your concern?  Didn't you just tell me that they eat
        shit out in the yard?"

Well, you know, the vet has got a good point there.  But seriously, the vet did say that the small amount of liver they get as a treat is fine and that I worry to much.

So, off to the grocery store to look for some liver.  While I was there, I saw chicken hearts and they were cheaper than the liver, so, being the thrifty little thing that I am, I decided to try the hearts.

I sliced them in half and around 12 hours later, this is what we had.

They are very crunchy and the whole pack loves them!  While they were dehydrating, there was a slight smell in the air and a few curious little noses leaning towards the counter top.  

Forest keeping an eye on the dehydrator
Brook:  "I smell something yummy!"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Callie's Gotcha Day!

Yesterday, in addition to it being St Patrick's Day, it was also Callie's 5th Gotcha Day!  

Five years ago I adopted that red Australian Cattle Dog that had been at the shelter for over a year.  Adopted out twice and returned.  Admittedly, she was more of a challenge than I was prepared for.

It's surprising how fast that five years has gone.  We've been through a lot, good times and not so good times, have seen many fosters come and go to their loving forever homes and seen a few dogs come and stay!  We've traveled north, south and east, stayed in hotels when we had to and pitched our tent many, many times while wandering in the wilderness (our favorite activity!).

Callie was a challenge in the beginning, so much of a challenge that a rescue I contacted for assistance suggested that it might be better if she was euthanized.  All that did was make me more determined to work with Callie and to learn with her.  

It hasn't always been easy but there is no way I will ever give up on her. We make it work.

Happy Gotcha Day Callie!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Can I come with you?

The other day, Hiker knew I was going out and as she occasionally does, she decided that she wanted to come with me.  Despite me telling her that I was going by myself, she couldn't contain her excitement at the thought of going somewhere.

My routine was the same as always, I crated everybody, put on my shoes and grabbed the keys. All very quietly, no fuss or excitement.  Just every once in a while, Hiker decides that coming with me is about the best thing EVER!!

When she is "looking" to the left, that's where the door is.

Yes, I did take her with me,  how could I say no after watching that cute butt wiggle?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bath time

At our home, dogs don't have baths. There really isn't much of a need to bath them.  Oh sure, there was that time about four years ago that Bill was sprayed in the face by a skunk. He had a bath then and I think that was the last dog bath.  Until this past weekend. 

With the mild temperatures and rain we've had, the yard was a mixture of huge puddles and mud. For the most part, the dogs can be kept clean with a few swipes of an old towel when they come in.  Azule has short legs and as a result, her belly was coated in mud.  So, it was bath time.

This is as she stood in the tub, dripping.

As always, we can never do things alone. Yes, I could have closed the bathroom door, but where's the fun in that?

Forest had to check and see what was going on.

Forest: "Azule what are you doing in the tub?"

Breeze was wondering what all the fuss was about and was happy to lick up the water drops on the side of the tub.

Azule: "I'm done, I want out."

For some silly reason, Forest decided to act all tough.

Forest:  "Step away from the bathtub!"

Of course, as Forest is looking ferocious, Breeze has no clue what he is doing. He will bare his teeth at her and lightly growl but Breeze is oblivious. Sometimes I think Forest is a bit frustrated by her lack of concern at his tough guy act.  He just doesn't seem to understand that she can't see.

Azule was calm and relaxed during her bath which is what I expected since she has jumped into the tub before, just to check it out.  Yes, this is a dog from the same pack that love to go to the vet and happily lay on the kitchen floor to have their nails trimmed. (Oh ya, I know how lucky I am)

After bath time, relaxing before dinner. 

In the above picture, Breeze was, of course, "looking" for the kitty Elsie who will lay on the floor behind the gate, just out of Breeze's reach.

The weather has changed, yesterday it snowed and this morning there are light flurries.  I don't anticipate any baths for a few days.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

How the pack functions

I've mentioned previously (stated the obvious, I suppose) that having a pack of seven dogs, some with special needs and all of them in the house, is interesting.  Every so often, I am asked specific questions about them, their behaviors towards each other and how we make it work on a daily basis. So, I decided to take this opportunity to share with you some of the questions and answers.

Q:  Are they all in the house?
Yes, all the dogs are house dogs.

Q:  Okay....but...where?  Are they crated?
The only time the dogs are crated is when there is no one home.  Two are currently not crated, Hiker who has never been crated and Callie who recently developed some issues about her crate. 

Q:  Do they all get along with each other?
As with any pack or even a group of people, there are different personalities but all the dogs get along very well with each other. Callie is known for not playing nicely with others and so she is not put in that situation where she will fail and likely cause harm to another. 

It's been very interesting to watch the interactions of the pack and see the changes over the years as foster dogs have come and gone and new pack members have been added.
When blind puppy Breeze arrived last summer, she was very pushy, nipping at everyone and had no manners.  There were some small fights between her and deaf Azule. Neither of them were picking up on the cues from each other. Azule has now chosen to let Breeze have her own way and there hasn't been a confrontation between them in months. Shortly after they settled down, Forest and Breeze began having similar type tussles.  None of these have ever escalated to a dangerous level, it is just them working things out. 

Q:  How does it work when you're trying to do things in the house with all those dogs, things like cooking. Aren't they underfoot and bothering you?
The dogs are curious about things going on in the house and of course are interested in potential sources of food! In the kitchen, they usually lay quietly, more wanting to be close than anything else. They very rarely are given things from the counter so don't beg. Brook and Forest are the two that like to lay with touching and they will often lay across my foot/feet if I stand still long enough. It's common for there to be four or five dogs laying on the floor as I am cooking.

Q: When you walk the blind ones, do you keep the leash really short so they are close to you?
If we are walking on a trail, which is what we prefer, all the dogs are off leash if it's a known safe area. The blind ones will take the path of least resistance which is the path! On leashed trail walks I use leads that are 15 feet long so they can wander where they want to but still be safe. They have amazing navigational skills and don't often bump into things.  I use the word "watch" if they are about to walk into something and they will stop and lean forward to check out what the obstacle is and decide if going over, under or around is the best option.

Q:  So you only take them on paved trails, right?
Oh no, we're wilderness lovers!  We camp and backpack too!  Hiker's first backpacking trip was when she had just turned one year old.  She loved it!  Various members of the pack have been to the Blue Ridge Mountains camping, Pennsylvania hiking and backpacking and Prince Edward Island where they loved running on the beaches.

Q: Are you going to add to the pack?
At this time, I have no intention of adding more but if I came across a dog or any animal that was in need, I wouldn't turn away. That being said, yes there are thousands and thousands that are in need but I can't go looking for more. I've been very fortunate in that my lifestyle, career and current situation is such that I can do this.  When we move further into the country and have more space...well, we'll see.

If you have any questions, just ask!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Callie's check up

Callie went to the vet the other day to have her yearly check up a few weeks early just to be sure that there is nothing physically wrong with her after her recent crate issues.

At the vet's, Callie was her usual charming self.  Since Callie rarely goes to the vet, I reminded the doctor that Callie needed to be muzzled prior to the examination.  Of course, as I am saying this, Callie is all happy, tail wagging and being pleasant while the vet is petting her.  

Dr. R : "You don't need a muzzle, do you Callie?"

Callie: "Scratch behind my ears, oh ya, that's the spot!"

Dr. R : "She's such a good girl, aren't you Callie?"

Callie: "Just keep scratching and we won't have a problem."

Me:  "Where is that muzzle?"

Sure enough, as soon as the examination began, Callie's happy-go-lucky demeanor changed. It's just one of her quirks and something that I was told about years ago when I adopted her.

So, after a thorough physical examination, it was determined that Callie is a very healthy dog.  There is nothing physically wrong with her.  

The vet joked that because Callie lives with blind dogs, a deaf dog, a blind and partly deaf dog and a dog with a bad leg, she has decided she's going to have an issue too!

The vet said, (as did many of you) that sometimes as dogs age, they develop issues/phobias.  We also talked about whether or not something or someone could have scared her in her crate but there is nothing that I can think of.  Callie is healthy and that makes me happy. Being out of her crate makes Callie happy, so we'll go with that!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Brown Rice Pudding

Mmmm.....rice pudding. Not just any rice pudding, this has a healthy twist to it. Brown rice pudding.  Trust me on this one, it's yummy!

I can't recall where on the internet I found this recipe but it's one that I've been using for a while. It's made with precooked/leftover rice and once you have the rice cooked, it only takes about 25 minutes to make.

Here's the recipe with my notes added.

Brown Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked brown rice  
1 1/2 cups milk  (I use unsweetened non dairy milk)   
1/4 cup maple syrup (I have substituted brown sugar)
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit such as cranberries or chopped apricots

Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and add 1 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg or all spice

Serve warm.

Monday, March 04, 2013

We've been busy!

As you can imagine, a home with a pack of dogs that include some "specials" is always a bit busy but lately, we've been doing lots of renovations and trying to figure out what has been bothering Callie.

Since I was off for a few days, it was a great opportunity to do some more painting.  Elsie was quite interested but kept her nose out of the paint.  

She has settled in very well and is relaxed around the dogs except for the occasional moment when Forest lunges at her.  I think he likes to make her jump because he acts all innocent like he has no idea what is going on!

I didn't want any dogs in the room I was painting so I gave them something different to play with.

Yes, that's a plastic container from coffee.  They had a great time with it, chewing, playing tug and chasing it around the floor.

Callie helped with some repairs to a cabinet. 

As usual, there was the supervisory crew.

Safety is always important when doing any type of renovations and here is Azule who knows the importance of safety glasses.

I decided to remove the crate that Callie has had for the past five years, the one that seems to be bothering her lately.  The door has been mangled and barely closes so I removed the crate and put another one in her room. I left this one uncovered, previously, her crate has always been covered on the top, just with an old bed sheet.  

Callie was outside while I did this and when she came in, she seemed excited and happily went in and lay down with an antler.

This crate is the same style as the old one, same type of bedding and is in the same location.  She was in and out for a couple of hours while I was in the kitchen cooking and tidying up after dinner.  Callie seems happy and that's all that matters.  We are off to the vet on Wednesday for a check-up, a couple of months earlier than her yearly check, just to be sure there is nothing physically wrong.