Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lack of communication

We had a minor incident a few days ago, that once all the contributing factors are realized, is a bit of an amusing incident.

I was outside playing JollyBall with Callie when I heard the sounds of a scuffle from inside the house (all the windows were open to take advantage of the summer-like temperature). As I entered the kitchen, I saw deaf Azule and blind Breeze having a little disagreement. They were making lots of noise with little contact, which is typical. They quickly stopped as I approached and touched Azule while telling Breeze "leave it".  

Now, the reason that this is amusing is the way in which deaf Azule and blind Breeze try and communicate with each other.  It is common for blind Breeze to growl at deaf Azule. Breeze doesn't curl her lip or give any physical indication (that I can see) of what she is doing. Just the growl.  

blind Breeze - growls at the deaf dog
In return, deaf Azule will curl her lip at blind Breeze and not make any sound.

deaf Azule - silently curls her lip at the blind dog

So, with the deaf dog not hearing the growl and the blind dog not seeing the lip curl...we have a lack of communication.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Foster pup!

A friend of mine and fellow rescuer/foster home sent me a picture last week of a young, red Australian Cattle Dog mix and asked for my opinion of the provided description.  I commented and then jokingly asked, "When should we expect her?"   No, no, not to worry my friend said, we've got a plan in place for her.  

A couple of days later, my friend e-mailed to ask if I could help.  The pup had unexpectedly gone into heat, animal control where she was being held was full and wanted her out, the vet clinic where she will be spayed won't take her in heat and the boarding facility/daycare where she is going after her spay recovery won't take her because she is in heat.  

How could I say no?

settling in on the couch

Her name (by the rescue) is Twiggy which fits well with the outdoorsy names we have for the pack.  She is approximately eight months old and super affectionate.

So far, Twiggy is an extremely high energy pup, no doubt as a result of being confined for the past two weeks with (and I quote) "little to no outside time".  

The pack were welcoming and Twiggy has settled in very well and is much calmer than when she first arrived on Friday afternoon.  We're teaching manners, respect and Twiggy is also learning to not put her feet on the counter and to not jump up on people.

Outside play times are wild with lots of running, chasing and play bows.  

hanging out with the some of the pack

In the house, Twiggy is learning that a crate is a nice place to be because that is where you get treats and bowls of kibble.  

Also in the house there is also that little fluffy thing called a cat!

Twiggy meeting Elsie

Twiggy won't be staying with us very long, probably only a couple of weeks but we know that we'll be having lots of fun with her!

running with some of the pack

Friday, April 26, 2013

Breeze and Elsie

Breeze continues to be fascinated with our cat Elsie (as she was with the old cat Oscar who passed away a few months ago). Now that Elsie has settled and is used to the pack, she has become a very snuggly lap cat. This works well for blind Breeze because while Elsie is lap sitting, Breeze can wander over and say hello.

found her!

If Elsie isn't on a lap, Breeze will find her, sniff her (especially her belly) and gently head butt her a few times. Sometimes Breeze will follow Elsie and in her attempts to get close, she'll accidentally step on her.  This is often followed by human advice such as, "Don't squash the cat!"

Hiker isn't too interested, she'd rather chase Gerrard.

Breeze uses her feet to hold Elsie in place so she can get a sniff.

"Hold still Elsie, I wanna sniff you!"

Through it all, Elsie is very tolerant and seems to know that Breeze won't hurt her. That other dog Forest, well, he's not as nice, at least in Elsie's opinion.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Azule's 1st Gotcha Day!

It was one year ago that we went on a long drive, stayed overnight in a hotel (we prefer camping), met the caring staff of a West Virginia Humane Society and were introduced to a deaf Australian Cattle Dog mix named Azule.

There was a Petfinder listing that I saw about a young Australian Cattle Dog who was deaf. When I contacted the Humane Society I was told how wonderful Azule was and that she had quickly become a staff favorite (I later learned that the staff feels that way about all the animals they help!).  At that time, I was also told that a local couple had expressed an interest in her and would likely be adopting her to join their Australian Shepherd.  

A couple of weeks later I received an e-mail asking if I was still interested, since Azule had been returned through no fault of hers.  Seemed that one half of the couple wasn't as willing to have a deaf dog.  Oh yes, I was still interested and a few phone calls later, we had made plans to head down to West Virginia.

I will likely never forget the enthusiasm Azule showed when we first met.  She came running around the corner and literally flew into me.  Quite the greeting! For a young deaf dog that had been turned in as a stray, she was a very happy and confident pup. She continues to have that enthusiastic outlook on life and is a very happy girl.

Life with a deaf dog has been relatively easy.  I quickly discovered that Azule is very smart and easily caught on to the outside light flashing twice as a signal to come in and when it is daylight, she will notice the other dogs heading for the door and follow.  She also quickly learned hand signals, her favorite being the signal for "up" so she can pretend she is small enough to be a lap dog.  Australian Cattle Dogs are known as "velcro" dogs due to their desire to be close to their person.  Azule certainly has that trait! She loves to be close and to be a part of everything.

It has been a wonderful year and I look forward to many, many more years of fun with my velcro girl Azule!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tasy Tuesday - Kong stuffing

Every time that the pack has to stay home alone, they each get a Kong stuffed with part of their breakfast or dinner kibble.  In order to ensure a long lasting Kong, I have always added some canned dog food and packed it in as tight as possible (Except for Breeze. She won't work at a tightly packed Kong).  Due to the concerns of country of origin of the ingredients and also preferring a quality canned food, I found myself paying over $3.00 per can and on average, using 2-3 cans per week.  Not a huge amount of money and of course, the pack is worth it, but I thought it was time to explore other options.

For a few days we tried using natural organic peanut butter.  I was hesitant because Bill isn't too fond of peanut butter.  Then we tried dehydrated sweet potatoes and that didn't give the tightly packed Kongs that I wanted. Then when I was peeling and slicing carrots to cook for dinner and of course, handing out slices to the pack, I suddenly had an idea.  Why not cook some carrots and then put them in the blender and use that?  

So, after cooking carrots, I put them, some of the cooking water and some leftover brown rice in the blender and pureed.

pureed carrots and brown rice

Just to see the reactions, I put a small amount in each of the dog's dishes with their breakfast.  They all gobbled it up.  

The most interesting reaction was from Breeze.  She still has her moments of growling while eating and will often nose around in the dish and sometimes wander a few feet away and then back to the dish.  With only approximately a tablespoon of the carrot mixture in with the kibble (not even mixed in, just plopped on top) she ate all the kibble without wandering and there was not a sound other than the crunching and the swish of her tail wagging.  Was it the carrot mix? To test the theory, I added another tablespoon size sample at dinner.  Same thing.

So, not only have I found a way to save a few dollars, I might have also found a way to make Breeze's meal times a bit more relaxed and enjoyable.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Collar warning.

When we arrived home yesterday after our vet visits and I opened the crate in the car to get Azule and Brook out, I realized that Azule didn't have her collar on.  I know she had it on when she got into the crate because she was leashed coming out of the vet's office.

I am a firm believer in restrained dogs in the car for their safety and having a wire style crate in the car allows them to see out and also has great air flow.

If you have ever used a wire style crate, you no doubt have seen the warning about removing the dog's collar for safety, that is printed on the plastic tray liner. I've seen it many times. Not much of a concern for us I always thought, since none of the pack wear collars at home.  

They do however, all wear collars when we go out and they are crated in the back seat of the car.  But I'm right there in the front seat. If anything happened, I would know. Right?  WRONG!

This is where I found Azule's collar.  Hanging near the top of the crate.

I was driving and oblivious to this happening. She never made a sound.  What scares me is that she could have choked and I wouldn't know until it is too late.  I still feel sick and on the verge of tears when I think about what could have happened.

We're getting new, tagless collars for the car crate. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Azule and Brook

It was time for deaf Azule's yearly check and her heartworm test so I decided to take blind and partly deaf Brook along for her heartworm test too. As we often do when going to the vet, we combine the trip with other things since the vet is located in the big city, about a 45 minute drive each way.

In between our errands, we had time to visit a trail which is along a river.  Years ago, I lived very close to this trial and walked it many, many times with Cairo.  It was nice to visit it again.

Due to the rain we've been having lately, all waterways are high and fast moving so being off leash was not an option.

We did find a calmer spot and Brook wandered in but got a bit scared when she stepped in a deep spot.  

No harm done and we continued to explore.

Azule wore her West Virginia bandana and Brook wore her bright pink one.

In the background, the trial continues along and there is a low wooden walkway over the river and under the six lane highway.  On this visit we didn't have enough time to walk that far but will the next time.

Azule's check up went very well and her heartworm test, as well as Brook's, was negative.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Signs of spring!

We've been having some nice warm and sunny weather mixed with a day or two of cold and rain.  When possible, we have been making the most of the warm days and getting outside which got me to thinking about the signs of spring in our yard.

It's time to get the garden planned (even though I hope we're moved before harvest time) and get the seeds planted so we have nice little plants for the garden in a few weeks.

"This smells interesting"

Breeze did a great job of knocking over the pots, sticking her nose in the various seeds and into the bag of potting soil.

"What is all this doing here?"

Bill wandered over to see what was going on and then Forest seemed to appoint himself guardian of the seeds.

"Don't nobody touch these seeds!"

Other signs of spring are the pack hanging out under their fort.

Breeze: "Come out, come out wherever you are!"

Also on top of the fort.

Hiker and Azule are still on the hunt for the elusive critters and are now concentrating their efforts near the shed.

We know that it is officially spring when when we see this:

Only on warm spring (and later, hot summer) days does Hiker lay on the cement by the side door. For me, this is what got me thinking that spring has really arrived.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where were you?

I went out of town and left the pack at home. Alone. A friend and some of her family came over to let the dogs out and give them Kongs until my return.

Everything went well, all the dogs behaved, returned to their crates with only a minor bit of confusion and then I returned.  It should have been a happy, we're-so-glad-you're-finally-home greeting.  But it wasn't quite like that. It was more where-the-heck-have-you-been-and-why-do-you-smell-like-that?

Well, I went visiting.  I went to see some people and their rescued animals.

I haven't been around horses before don't know much about them but quickly learned that if you stop petting this one, he'll give a nudge with his nose and almost knock you off your feet! A true gentle giant and it was fun to hang out with him for a bit.

There were also these - 

And another dog and a sheep.  (no pictures due to camera issues)

The pack spent a few minutes sniffing and sniffing while giving me accusatory looks. 

"Oh but wait" I say.  "I brought you something from the plane ride!"

Pretzels?  A little bag of free pretzels?  You think that is going to make up for leaving us alone and then returning smelling like other dogs and farm animals?!

It's been a couple of days, the clothes have been washed and I think they have forgiven me. I feel a little bad that I tried to bribe them with pretzels, but hey, I think it worked. Either that or they really do love me and am glad I'm back.  I know I love them and am glad to be back with them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What did you buy us?

The pack is always interested in the results of a shopping trip.  They typically assume that bags containing groceries must be for them.  

If they could, I am sure they would ask, "What did you buy for us?"

Unfortunately for the pack, often there is nothing for them.  They seemed to be a bit displeased with the recent shopping trip.

After literally ripping into the empty bag and finding nothing, I got the look. You know the one. The one designed to make you feel guilty and makes them look like they are unloved.  

Blind Brook decided to take matters into her own paws and "look" for something good from the grocery shopping.

This is what I saw as I turned around grabbing a couple more items for the fridge.  Seems that she could smell something good in there.

"There must be something in here for us."

Yes, the jar that has captured her attention has a label on it that is "TREATS".  It is some of the beef heart that was dehydrated for them.  

Then the decision.  Do I give her and the rest of the pack a treat since she found them and as a result reward that behavior?  Is it really such a big deal to reward that?  I can't see her being able to open the fridge on her own, but...she is smart and those are yummy treats.

But...how could I not give her a treat after she "looked" at them for so long. Practically begging. 

Yes, they all got a treat. After all, that's what I dehydrated the heart for.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


This video is from a couple of days ago.  It's only 30 seconds long but shows how high a (silly) blind pup can jump.

This is also a great example of the exuberance that is common at our home.

That big jump in the first five seconds is what Breeze was doing for a few minutes before I got the camera on her.  

Just another day at our happy home!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another project.

Not all of the dogs are always allowed to participate in projects around the house. Using an electrical saw and trying to keep track of three blind dogs at the same time is multi tasking that is more risk taking.  

It was a nice warm and sunny day so the blind trio went outside to explore the yard while the dangerous activities were being done in the house.


Since Azule is deaf, the noise of the saw doesn't bother her and she was always laying around getting covered in sawdust.  Of course Forest was there too, not wanting to miss anything. He is curious about everything. Quite the change from the severely neglected and terrified of everything pup that he was when we adopted him just over a year ago.

Azule is very much a typical Australian Cattle Dog in her desire to be with her person at all times.  It is a common trait of the breed to be a "velcro" dog.  She will always look for me (a bonus when off leash in the wilderness!) and loves to be close.  She isn't demanding attention, she is just there.  A little wave in her direction or a quick pat and she wiggles with happiness.  When I was painting in the hall, I sat on the floor and within seconds, Azule was on my lap.

Bill wandered through the kitchen to see what was happening but being a bit nervous of anything that is not routine, he preferred to stay in the living room or outside with the blind trio.

"I'm not sure about this mess."

At one point, Forest helped by suggesting to Azule that she stay out of the way.

"Azule, we can't go over there right now."

Once part of the floor was installed, Forest couldn't wait to check it out.

"Ohhh...this is nice!"

The renovations are almost done and we'll soon have more time to get out and wander the wilderness.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - we got heart!

Since the dehydrated chicken hearts were such a success, I decided to (spend most of the grocery budget) purchase two beef hearts to dehydrate for the pack.  I had to visit a couple of stores before I found one that would order them for us.  Interesting thing about that - the butcher asked if it was for a dog. He said that there have been a few people asking for organ meat for their dogs. As the conversation went on, he mentioned that as a kid, his Mother would cook beef heart for dinner.  I sympathized, we were served that too! 

The two hearts cost just under $35 but yielded a vast quantity of meat for dehydrating.  I decided to slice and freeze it so that I wouldn't be constantly dehydrating for days on end.  I was surprised that it didn't smell all that much.  As with the chicken hearts though, the kitchen was a popular place for the pack to hang out with their noses in the air!

No pictures of the hearts or slicing, not very nice to look at.  However, I did take a picture of the dried and finished product.  

Some of the slices were a bit thick and resulted in more of a chewy, jerky type treat with others being more dried and crunchy.  I am storing the treats in a jar, in the fridge to keep them fresh, not that they will last long!

Here are various pack members and their thoughts on the dehydrated beef hearts.

waiting patiently.....

"I see the treats!"

Forest likes to sit on the (securely closed and latched) kibble storage tote for his treats.

 Callie was so excited, she almost stood on her head!

Azule, how good are these new treats? 

"These treats are super yummy!"

So, if you have a dehydrator, we would highly recommend dehydrating beef hearts for treats, it is acd6pack approved!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Internet upgrade?

All the dogs were outside enjoying the early evening sunshine and then they all came in, except for blind Breeze.  Nothing unusual in that, she often stays out by herself as does blind Hiker.  They enjoy wandering the yard, sniffing and exploring.  After about a half hour, I went to see if Breeze was ready to come in since she rarely barks at the door.

Seems that a local internet supplier dropped off some information. Dropped being the key word.  I can only assume that it was dropped over the fence instead of being placed in the mailbox since Breeze found it.

Of course, once the others saw that Breeze had something, they had to rush outside to get in on it too.

"But that was mine, I found it!"
It had been in a bag and it looked like Breeze had a great time ripping it open to get at the papers.  She has a thing for paper and loves to shred it.

Breeze to Brook: "See this bag? It had paper in it!"

It might have been a good deal on an internet upgrade but we'll never know since we're not going to try and piece the papers together to read about it.

No harm done. We don't own a computer.