Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Doggy Christmas

It's nearly Christmas here in Australia and Cindy's Walking Group has already celebrated! The sun shone gently (thank goodness for cool weather), the dogs had fun, and...

... Father Christmas arrived, bringing gifts for all the dogs.

Penny loved the treats in Santa's basket, yummy liver brownies from our favorite recipe book, Feed Your Best Friend Better.

The humans had plenty to eat also.

And, best of all, from Penny's point of view: when I wasn't watching, one human scraped onto the ground the left-overs from the plate in the foreground and Penny scoffed them. I wasn't watching her too closely because I knew I was in the company of ultra-responsible dog owners and sure enough, the human treats were fine for dogs - beetroot crisps.

Merry Christmas to all our blogging friends, and, if you celebrate a different holiday from the one we do, we wish you a peaceful, joyful and loving time amongst your loved ones.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Honey's new online store

Honey is over her surgery to deal with her glaucoma and she's out and about again! Hooray!

And in other news, Hsin-Yi is starting an online store, which you can visit here.

The merchandise looks great so far, but I'm hoping Hsin-Yi will branch out into items that relate to all sorts of dogs and not just Great Danes - though Great Danes are wonderful, lol

I've already suggested the number one on my list for Christmas 2013 would be Christmas tree baubles that are dog-safe. We can't have any baubles in our house because Penny might grab them, thinking they are balls. After all, she pinches the plums from our plum tree each year and stores them up for future games.

So we limit ourselves to a small ornament on a table, up out of reach.

We like it, but it would be great if Hsin-Yi designs something we could use on a full-sized tree next year.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

an older dog and a new trick

Penny taught herself something new the other day. She collected two different items as she was swimming in the Yarra river.

We had been playing with her Whirl Wheel,

alternating it with her SafeStix.

She would drop one near the bank and swim out for the other. But on this occasion she absentmindedly took the WhirlWheel with her as she swam. We watched as she circled around for ages, trying to figure out how to get them both back to the shore.

And then, to our surprise (you'll hear on the video clip that we were a bit over-excited, lol) she swam with both in her mouth.

Here she is, arriving triumphant on the shore!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

I see beauty when I walk with my dog

Today Penny and I walked in a potentially boring place, a sports ground, because high winds were forecast and I didn't want to be under trees that might drop branches on us.

But it wasn't boring. It's never boring walking with Penny, because she explores every nook and cranny and makes me more observant. (Watching out for snakes, if nothing else, keeps me on the alert.)

Today she wandered down to a little sandy patch of water that hardly earns the name of creek. It wasn't much, but as she paddled in it I saw how peaceful and inviting the spot was.

I'm glad I have a dog to open my eyes to the beauty around me.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

owls, echidna and a seal

Penny had a wonderful time at Best Friend Holiday Retreat last week.

I'm glad she didn't notice this little echidna walking around each day near our cabin.

The echidna always fossicked around in the mulch outside the huge fenced yards that are such a great feature of the park, so she was quite safe from dogs.

Up in the tree next to our cabin there was a family of owls - I think boobook owls. Mum looked after the baby at the nest for the first few days, with Dad sitting nearby, but later in the week the baby was sitting on a separate branch.

On our last day, we saw a seal sitting on the beach and I learned something new. My companions, more experienced at care of dogs, were worried when we saw the seal in the distance, and called back the one dog who was ahead of us, playing in the waves. Fortunately he didn't notice the seal heading past him into the sea, because I've discovered that seals are very dangerous to dogs. My friends told me a seal could potentially kill a dog.

And I wouldn't want any of our dogs to hurt the seal, of course. I've read that it's illegal to go closer than thirty metres to a seal resting on a beach.

Last year we saw a baby koala at the dog resort. I wonder what we'll see next time.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Off to have a whale of a time at the beach

Penny and I are off to Tarra Valley for a while. Given that one of our main activities there is walking on The Ninety Mile Beach, I was interested to read in The Age newspaper recently that Museum victoria is excavating the skeleton of a whale from under the sand at that part of the beach.

Here's hoping they've dug it up by the time we get there, or they might have Penny helping. She loves digging at the beach.

I'll let you know how she went when we get back...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

using honey as part of a veterinary treatment

Dr Jennifer Coates has posted an interesting article about the use of honey in treating wounds. I've heard of this treatment before, but didn't know how honey (or sugar, it seems) hastens healing. To read the whole post, go here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

mystery objects in Ruffey Lake Park

Today, while Penny and I were having a lovely walk in Ruffey Lake Park with Cindy's Walking Group, we came across some mysterious new constructions. The dogs thought they were totally uninteresting, because you can't eat them or chase them, but the humans gathered around to discuss them at length.

One of the group reckoned they might be frisbee goals. I sort of believed him because he said it so convincingly, but when he laughed, I wondered if he was tricking us.

Well, who should come walking past, but two frisbee throwers. One of them gave us a demonstration of the sport.

Penny went to have a closer look at the goal.

That shot missed by a whisker, so the thrower gave us a closer demo of how the goal works. The frisbee hits the loose chains and falls into the basket.

I''d never heard of the sport - discgolf - before, but it sound like a terrific addition to the range of sports available in Melbourne.

I had a look at the Melbourne Discgolf site, and see there's to be an official opening of the Ruffey Lake course on Sunday 18th November 2012 at 10 am near Church Road.

Here's a bit from their site: 
Disc Golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, originating in the US in the 70's and having been played in Australia since the early 80's. Disc golf, best described as Frisbee golf, is a fun, inexpensive, healthy and environmentally friendly game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, male and female, regardless of economic status.

It is played much like traditional golf; only instead of hitting a ball into a hole you throw a Frisbee into an elevated metal basket. As players progress from the “tee” to the “target,” the trees, shrubs and terrain changes provide challenging obstacles. Ultimately, the “putt” is tossed into the basket and the hole is completed. The goal of disc golf is the same as traditional golf: to complete the course in the fewest number of shots. Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it's nailing a long putt, sinking an "ace" (hole in one) or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway.

As in “ball golf,” a typical course will have 9 or 18 holes, but each hole only averages between 50 and 150 metres. The target in disc golf is a metal basket that is mounted vertically about a metre off the ground, attached to a pole that is around 1.6m tall. To better allow discs to come to rest in this basket, chains are suspended from another circular section near the top of the pole and allowed to hang to a point where they are connected to the pole in or near the receiving basket.

There are some photos on this page showing discgolf at Ruffey Lake Park.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

cooking for your dog

I've always been an advocate of a raw diet, but over the eight years of Penny's lifetime I've softened in my approach and now go with the theme of 'everything in moderation'. (Unless a food is actually unhealthy for dogs, of course.)

It can become tricky to source a variety of raw meats, but I think the list by Dr Bruce Syme at the bottom of this old post of mine is a good general resource.

In general, we'll continue with the raw diet, but I've come across a new book that has a convincingly clear explanation of many aspects of diet for pet dogs. It's called Feed Your Best Friend Better.

One of the things I like about the guy who wrote this book is that he's more about what to feed your dog for good health rather than focusing on what not to feed.

Another feature of the book is that it has the clearest explanation I've come across of  how much to feed your dog in terms of activity level...

and a clear diagram of how to estimate whether your dog is at a healthy weight and how many calories a day she requires for her level of activity and age.

Because the recipes and information are for US measurements, I've had to adapt them, but as you can see from these pictures, I'm getting myself organised, lol.

[If you click on the photos of the book, another window will come up with a large photo that makes the pages more readable.]

At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the discussion of what supplements a dog needs if you are preparing meals at home, but it's reassuring to see that the author, Rick Woodford, is not dismissive of commercial foods. If I've understood correctly, he says that commercial foods are supplemented so fully that even adding half commercial food to the dog's diet will result in sufficient nutritional extras.

We add Sasha's Blend (or Glyde) to Penny's bowl each day, for joint health, and  Melrose Omega-3 Liquid, plus Vet's All Natural Complete Mix a few times a week. I think that covers most of the nutritional requirements that she might miss on a home--prepared diet. She gets ZiwiPeak canned food some days, also - the label says it has 'added Vitamins and Minerals'. I love this food, even though it's expensive, because it's mostly meat (or fish) and has a variety of meats and organ meats we couldn't easily access from the butcher (venison and tripe for instance).

In the photo above you'll notice some eggshells. I used to crush up eggshells and include them in Penny's food occasionally, until a friend told me about the time her labrador retriever got a bit of eggshell stuck to the lining of his bowel. So I stopped adding eggshells! But Rick Woodford suggests washing eggshells, drying them and them baking them in the over until brittle, after which they go into a food processor to be ground up to a powder. I'm collecting the shells and I'll try his method when I have enough shells to make it worth the trouble.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

walking the local lanes

Many suburbs in our area have lanes along the rear of the houses, between the main streets. In the past they were for men to come in through the back gates in the dark and take away the containers of 'night soil'.

Some homes still have a back gate to these lanes, even though they aren't used for the same purpose. Many homes don't have access to the lanes these days.

However, the quiet lanes with their lack of cars make great places to walk a dog off-lead, and we often use them in this way, though we have to be careful to keep an eye out for snakes in the warmer months, if the grass has not been mown or if the lane is not paved.

Beautiful plants lean out into the lanes over back fences.

In one lane, someone has drilled holes in their fence so their plants can grow through. The plants, by growing through the hole, face north and so get good sunlight. That particular house doesn't have a gate into the lane, so I suppose the people must come up from the next cross street to get their fruit. They have a passionfruit and a grape.

However, there's a beautiful passionfruit plant in another lane, facing south.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

a gorgeously groomed dog

Who is this lovely canine living with us?

Could it be the same Penny who used to look like this?

What a beautiful job the groomer has done - and it was all scissor-work, too, because I don't think Penny likes the clippers.

Friday, 26 October 2012

so sad to hear of Honey's ordeal

I was going to post about our adventures with nesting blackbirds, but since I've read the troubles Honey the Great Dane is enduring, I don't feel like writing a light-hearted post. Honey's glaucoma has worsened suddenly and she will be having surgery tomorrow - an injection into the eyeball to hopefully deal with the problem, but to also make the eye sightless.

I'm thinking of you and Honey, Hsin-Yi and Paul. Good luck!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Dogs let us influence their judgments

Reading the comments by Curator and Bella on my previous post has reminded me to go back to PetMD and read the final installment of her summary of the study about how we can influence the behavior of our dogs.

It seems that the way to get your dog to choose a smaller portion of food over a larger one would be to handle the food, especially if you move it to your own mouth. Okaayy...if I'm going to try that one, it's going to be on a night when Penny's not getting ox liver or chicken necks or raw fish. (Oh, I forgot, raw fish is the only protein she refuses to eat, especially if it has eyes. I don't blame her.)

PetMD said the fact we can influence our dogs to go against their own judgment means we have a great responsibility towards them. I agree.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

dogs' reactions to humans' cues

A post by PetMD has me waiting for tomorrow's follow up. It's a summary of a study about the effect human actions would have on a dog choosing between a bowl with a big serve of food and one with a small serve of food. The degree of interest the human showed in the food is varied, and so is the type of gesture the human made towards the bowl with less food. I've read part one.

I reckon Penny would go for the big bowl, whatever, but I'll be interested to read part two, tomorrow.

If it looks fairly easy to do, I might run the test by Penny.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

trying out my iPhone hautik lens

Today Penny and I returned to Willsmere, a lovely park by the Yarra River. Penny had fun and so did I, trying out my new Hautik, 12X telephoto lens for my iPhone.

Here's a picture with the normal phone. Do you see the seat at the base of the tree in the distance?

And here's the same scene with the lens. It's a bit out of focus, because I had trouble holding it still. The kit comes with a tripod and I think I'll take it next time.

Here are another two photos for comparison.

Once again, I had trouble holding the iPhone still.

But I'm going to persist with the lens, because I think it will be good.

Unfortunately, all the other pictures were accidentally little movies, because I must have pressed the wrong button. I'll have to be more careful next time.

making paths when walking with the dog

I've mentioned previously that the local council in Clifton Hill has closed off the pathway people have worn in the grass as they head out of Quarries Park.

I discovered recently that these unofficial pathways worn by human feel are called desire paths.

When we headed into that park on Monday, I noticed that people must be hopping over the little chain and wearing a new desire path. Of course, once we noticed that, we had to try it our to see if it's a good idea, and Human Number Two demonstrated.

But who would have guessed we have such a law-abiding dog that she would refuse to take such an illegal action?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

mud and dogs

When walking with a dog, it's a good idea to wear old clothes and we usually do. But yesterday when we walked at Yarra Bend, Human Number Two was headed to the City, so she wore good clothes. Lucky for me, I wore my usual awful old dog-walking gear.

We passed a really good mud puddle and gave our obedient dog the instruction to 'leave it' and follow us, didn't look back to check, and had a nice surprise when she caught up to us.

Now, I ask you. What does any self-respecting dog do if she's all wet and muddy?

Yep, she gives herself a good shake. Too bad if a nicely-dressed human is standing close by.

So, while Human Number Two headed off to the City in her brown-spot polka-dot outfit, I took Penny for a second walk, to swim in the Yarra river at Warringal Parklands.

I made sure to put a towel in the car before I let her in.

So, swim:

And, voila, clean dog!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

orange dog vomit

There are a few photos of dog vomit in this blog, so don't read on if you think it will upset you. However, I'm posting it because when Penny threw up in the park yesterday, we couldn't find good information on the internet, and I hope this post will be helpful to others.

It seemed like a good idea to have a walk before breakfast yesterday, so when we set out, Penny had an empty stomach. That may have something to do with what happened.

As we walked, I took a photo of the lovely, typical wattle. All three of us were happy. In retrospect, examining this photo, I'm wondering what Penny was doing. Eating something? Grazing on grass?

Anyway, a few minutes later, she threw up a handful of grass in yellow froth, as she occasionally does. It was yellow, which is not really clear in the following photo.

We weren't too concerned, because it was likely Penny was just using the grass to settle a bit of a tummy upset.

But a few paces further on, she threw up orange froth, with a small blob of blood in it.

She seemed fine, but we slowed  down the pace of the walk and made our way back to the car.

Penny was her usual self as far as we could see, during the rest of the day, but we fed her only tiny meals of boiled rice and chicken - we gave her a little handful about four times over the course of the day.

This morning, however, we began to think we should get her checked out at the vet. So off we went.
He believes Penny might have ruptured a little blood vessel in her stomach when she vomited the first time and that's why she threw up the orange froth.

We're continuing the rice and chicken diet, but today we have introduced some of her normal treats (for instance, when I was bathing her this afternoon).

She seems fine. Time will tell, of course. It's reassuring to have visited  our vet, though.

And when I look at what Penny was doing while we were admiring the beautiful yellow wattle, I think she was already eating grass.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Royal Melbourne Show and dog photos

One day last week, while Penny stayed home, I went to the Royal Melbourne Show. I was surprised how much more agreeable it has become since the last time I was there, decades ago. I loved the food stalls in the Tastes of Victoria Pavilion, and picked up a great show bag of delicacies from The YarraValley Regional food Group.

I didn't get to see the dogs at the Show, but I did browse the photography display. I think one of the dogs looks a bit like Penny!

However, as a word-lover, I was taken aback to see this colorful, professional-looking sign had a spelling error. More about that on my other blog...