Thursday, 30 August 2012

winter and spring in one day

Yesterday we thought spring had come to Melbourne, and I was eager to get a nice walk in the sun today with Penny. But winter came back!

After the icy rain and hail, Penny and I set off for Willsmere Park in Kew. I was all rugged up, but of course Penny jumped  into the Yarra for her usual swim.

She waited in vain for me to make my way down the slippery bank to throw sticks into the water.

We saw lots of other creatures also enjoying the park. (Please excuse the low quality of some of the pictures, but I want to show you the variety of park visitors today.)

The kookaburra kept an eye on us but wasn't too worried.

We walked past clouds of insects - maybe midges? They ignored Penny and she ignored them, because she was too busy cleaning her nether parts.

The grass parrots didn't care about us at all, unless we got very close, in which case they shot up into the nearest tree, waited for us to get a few metres away and landed once more nearby.

The ducks, however, were more wary of us, perhaps because they are slower to take flight. Or maybe dogs tend to chase them more often.

It's surprising to realise all this beauty and peace is right alongside a noisy, busy road. Thank goodness for the big wall that keeps most of the noise away.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

a dog learns from another dog's blog

I've been having an interesting conversation with Johann's mum. She has two great video clips of how she trained Johann to succeed with the wooden Nina Ottosson Dog Casino.

First she taught him to focus on the little pegs that close off the drawers.

Then they moved on to pulling the pegs out of the holes.

So far we've practised Penny touching the peg for a reward from my hand. We moved on to clicking when she knocks the peg off the game, because I thought that might be closer to what we need finally, when she'll have to pull up the peg and throw it off the Casino so she can pull out the drawer to get the treats.

Johann's mum has mentioned the command 'pick it up' and Penny knows that well, so we experimented with that.

(I just can't seem to co-ordinate using the clicker and stopping myself from saying 'Yes!'. Luckily Penny's used to my muddled training methods, lol.)

Friday, 17 August 2012

keeping older dogs active for their health's sake

Catalyst, the science show, had a segment recently on the damage to our bodies caused by sitting. I've made a promise to myself that I will intersperse computer activity with regular breaks, and I've set the computer's clock to speak the time each fifteen minutes, as a reminder.

This got me wondering about Penny's level of activity - or more precisely, inactivity. Lately she dozes a lot. We hadn't taken much notice of it, because of the generally held belief that dogs sleep more than we do. We also put it down to the fact that she is now a senior dog. I looked around the internet to check this belief, but didn't come across any more details about how long a dog could be expected to sleep than I did when I posted on this topic five years ago.

This article at lifehacker details the changes our human bodies experience if we sit still. Pretty scary.

I guess the equivalent activity for dogs would be lying down. I think the key factor in the danger of sitting is that we don't move and so the electrical activity in our muscles slows down. (The article explains the consequences that follow.)  It seems to me that this could similarly be a problem for household dogs who lie around too much.

So let's see if I can keep up my resolution to do something active with Penny (low-level activity is okay, apparently) as often as possible. (We went for a seven-minute walk around the block during the writing of this post.) One thing I will try is commanding her to come outside with me when I hang out the washing, or pull a few weeds. She no longer bounds off her comfy bed to come with me. I think I can achieve it if I take one of her favorite toys with me.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

trying the Nina Ottosson wooden Dog Casino

When I was having a clean-out of all our dog 'stuff' I noticed the wooden Dog Casino puzzle I bought ages ago. The puzzle is by Nina Ottosson, and we've tried out the plastic version with mixed success. (Here's a long - really, rather boring - clip of our try-out of the plastic one.) It's been sixteen months since we used that puzzle, so in our first try I simply allowed Penny to look at it.

Then I put treats in two drawers and Penny had a go. (Wasn't she a good girl to wait so patiently?)

Next Penny waited again

while I placed treats in every drawer

and closed the drawers.

After which her patience was rewarded and she successfully conquered all the drawers.

She had the rest of her evening meal from the toy. Next time, I'll put one a 'stopper' in one of those top holes and see if she can figure out how to pull it out so the drawer can move.

I prefer the wooden version, even though the plastic version can be cleaned and this one can't.

this little puppy won't be crate trained

A friend sent me a link to this lovely article and I have to pass it on, in case there is someone out there who hasn't read it already.

I had just read a terrible article about a rescue from a puppy factory here in Victoria and was feeling lower than low, so getting this amusing link right after that was a real mood lifter. This little puppy will have a great life. I only hope she didn't come from a puppy farm.

Monday, 6 August 2012

keeping dogs intellectually stimulated

It was a pity Penny had to endure such a boring week while her cut paw healed, but it was also a timely reminder for us that walks can't be the only stimulation a dog has. It reminded us to include some other activities during the day.

This evening we fed Penny dry food (kibble), which we rarely do, so that she could work hard to get the food out of her puzzle toys - our walks are still quite short, not the hour-long rambles Penny is used to.

 We were trying out Biopet Organic dog food. I wouldn't want to feed this constantly, because it does have grains in it, but as a standby I think it seems good. We bought the food at SuperFruit, a nearby organic store.

 I wouldn't have dared to use these toys a couple of days ago, because Penny used her front paws to claw at the sections of the puzzles, but she seemed to be okay after using them this evening.

 First we tried the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick, which is an old favorite. Then Penny used the Dog Tornado. Even though it hasn't been out of the cupboard for months, she remembered how to get the treats.


When she had given the toy a thorough sniffing, and decided there was definitely no more food in it, she waited for more.

So we tried the Seek-A-Treat, which has been put away for almost two years! 

And she succeeded with it, which surprised me, because she didn't quite work it out at that time

Having noticed that the Seek-a-Treat is manufactured by 'Ethical Products', I looked at their website, and I must say I did like what they said about themselves:
We will continue to provide pet owners and their pets with the absolute best consumer value and customer service in the pet industry while never losing sight of quality, innovation, safety, honesty and humanity.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

out walking at last

Yippee! Today Penny went for a proper walk, after a week of  resting at home with her cut paw. Because the cut was right on the ball of her foot, we just couldn't go anywhere. But today after a careful consideration of her paw, the family agreed that it looked as if the cut has closed.

Last night, for the first time, I had treated it by slathering it with the gel from an aloe vera leaf. I hadn't done that previously because I read that it's not a good idea to put a layer covering a wound until you are quite sure there's no infection. It wouldn't be a good idea to close in the infection. So it's been a week of loose bandaging, Betadine spray and saline washes.

Today I put a layer of aloe vera gel on it, covered it with a Pawz boot, and off we went, down a local lane.

This week has made me more aware that we need to update our doggie emergency kit (and the human one, of course). There's a good list at this vet clinic's site:

First Aid Kit                          
The following items should be
available if you need them for
treating problems at home
with your pets(s):
Gauze swabs,
Cotton bandages
Elastoplast bandages
Betadine or Savlon antiseptic cream
Aspirin – for pain relief. Dose rate is 10-20mg/kg
Cats (and v. small dogs): quarter of a 300mg tablet.
Dogs – small: 1/2 tab, medium: 1 tab, large : 2 tabs
Give ONLY A SINGLE DOSE and consult your vet if
pain persists. DO NOT use paracetamol (Panadol),
ibuprofen, naproxen or any other human pain-reliever
Ipecac Syrup, Washing Soda or Hydrogen Peroxide
Dose rates to induce vomiting:
Ipecac Syrup – 2-6mls
Washing Soda – 1-2 granules
DO NOT use washing powder
Hydrogen Peroxide (3% only) – 5-10mls
Activated charcoal tablets (to help absorb poisons)
Dose is 1gm/kg and it works faster if crushed (but
you'll never get this much into your pet, so just give
as much as they'll take, however they'll take it.)

They have a good page on Common Emergencies, too. I think I'll print it out.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

visiting the park without the dog

Penny gave my legs a good sniffing when I came home from Darebin Parklands this afternoon. I could read her mind: 'What were you doing in one of my favorite places without me'?

Let's hope that next time I go down there Penny will be with me. We went for a little stroll around the block today, and up our grassy back lane. Her foot was bandaged, and miraculously the bandage didn't fall off, even though I forgot to follow proud womon's advice to put a sock over the bandage.

We'd better get some more walks happening soon, because the lying around is starting to give Penny some bad hair days.

The reason I was in the park without Penny? I was learning about edible weeds.  Can I now identify lots of these useful plants?

Hmm... maybe.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

still resting the cut paw

It's  been a quiet week and I can feel my fitness slipping away and my waistline thickening, because Penny is still confined to the house to wait for her injured paw to recover, and I've discovered I don't walk if I don't have the motivation of taking her with me.

We're starting to play games at dinner time, feeding her meals as rewards for picking up her toys and putting them in the bucket; finding the nominated toy (not too successful); taking a bow; backing up; 'paws up'. Anything to keep her mind active, even if her body is not.

It's darned hard to find activities that don't involve using her front paws. I gave her a Kong filled with nice things (a couple of bits of kibble, a smear of peanut butter, some raw carrot pieces, a bit of cheese) and she worked diligently at it for about twenty minutes. But seeing she was holding it firm with her front paw, this wasn't such a good idea! She ended up with a sore paw.

Not long now, I hope. I think it's nearly healed up. We've been swishing it with saline solution twice a day and squirting Betadine onto the cut. Bandages are giving us lots of entertainment - I crouch on the floor, carefully wrapping her paw in nice clean gauze, see her settled, go away and walk back in to find the bandage on the floor and Penny resting comfortably. Lucky her paw is so small and only needs a short piece of bandage - otherwise I think we'd have gone through even more bandaging than we have. I'll have to refine my bandage-tying technique.