Monday, March 29, 2010

Scraps of Photographic Evidence

Okay, here's a couple of pictures and and little video clip. Warning: video may cause severe squeaky toy envy amongst your household dogs.

Mr. Handsome, rocking the Flying Nun look with the sideways ears.
It's really too bad this puppy doesn't have any toys to play with.

The result of all the playing.

Warning: Video may cause severe squeaky envy amongst viewers' household dogs.

Rainy Days and Mondays...

...always get me down, as the song goes, and moreso when a) the rainy day IS a Monday; and b) it's the Monday following a vacation. I think Magnum agrees -- he had his first accident in the house this morning. As the expression of personal opinions goes, it was pretty clear. Crappy day, indeed!

It's my bad, though. I should have kept him out longer. Even if it was raining, and the wind was howling, and he wanted to come in, and I wanted to come in. Wet person and wet dog is definitely preferable to poopy carpet.

Weekend socialization activities included a brief trip to the waterfront park in Camden and exploration of the amphitheater, and a run to the Animal House, where they were sadly out of tripe. More on order, though! Magnum did get to meet an Aussie, a Golden, and lots of people with the puppy-squealies while he was there, and he came out with a new tug toy, so all was not lost. We also did a little walk along Main Street in Damariscotta to get used to the noise and activity of cars going by. All fairly low-key, but we got out of the house.

Everyone do the Perky Ear Dance this week; Magnum's ears both came up, in that up means that they are not tipped forward anymore. They do, however, both list to the outside, so he's rocking the Flying Nun look right now. If they haven't stiffened up straight by this weekend, we're going to have some adventures in taping. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Anyone who has seen me tape windows in preparation for painting knows what I mean.

Odds don't look good for any socialization activities today. Elli has agility class tonight, and my hubby is working nights this week and can't ride herd on him, so the little man will be staying home this evening. If the weather stays the same tomorrow, we'll have to take a trip to Pet Quarters or something to get out of the house.

Pictures tonight if I can come up with some more AA batteries for the camera. I swear, that thing positively DEVOURS batteries!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Under the Boardwalk, down by the sea...

Well, we were on the boardwalk, not under it, but if I have to have that song stuck in my head then y'all may as well too.

Seriously, if anyone wants to socialize puppies, come on up! I'll take you to the boardwalk, because it's a terrific place for it.

I took Magnum yesterday (without the big kids this time), and it was like going down a laundry list of people that puppies are supposed to meet. We met ladies pushing babies in strollers, an older man with a walker, small kids running back and forth, teenagers, and other dogs on leash. Since he still needs his second shot I didn't leave him down on the ground to meet the other dogs yet, but he didn't seem at all bothered by them being there.

Magnum did a great job of walking on lead and going to see everyone; all humans are now viewed as possible cheese dispensers. He liked the little boy who petted him, and he wasn't phased by the running, the walker or the strollers. And we met one lady who asked, "Is that a Cardigan?" Yay!

The police station is located at the public landing, and I went in to see if there were any uniformed officers on hand who might want to help socialize a puppy. There was an older lady there at the desk, and when I told her what I wanted, she looked at me like I had tits on my forehead. There were no officers on hand, as it turned out. After this I'll try a different station, hopefully one where there isn't a scary dragon lady at the desk. o_O

At the end of the boardwalk we went down to the little beach where I took the pictures of Ian and Elli a couple of weeks ago. It's nicely enclosed by rocks and a long set of stairs, and there was no one else on the beach at the time, so I let Magnum off lead to run around with me. Unfortunately, I stupidly left the camera in my car, for which I kicked myself hard. Picture if you will: Magnum picking up a dry, blackened piece of seaweed in his mouth and running around with it, looking for all the world like he had one of those villianous twirly moustaches. Could you just die from the imagined cuteness?

We played some chase-me-chase-you, and worked the recall, which he did a great job on each time. He doesn't really stray that far from me yet anyway. I know that will change as he moves into adolescence, but right now he's a dream. We went down to the water's edge, where he watched the little waves lap at the sand, and tried a lap of the water himself, only to discover it was most definitely not potable. Some things you just have to learn through experience.

We capped off the outing with a quick trip to Grammy's house, where he checked out the toy selection and scoped out the surroundings before crashing for a big nap. I may or may not have come home and followed his lead. ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mr. Murphy goes to Jersey. We don't.

Poor Joanna. On the eve of her first dog show in, like, FOREVER, her hubby got hella sick, a dog needs to go to the vet, and her little one hurt herself. Mr. Murphy sure loves him a show weekend!

Given the situation, I've opted to stay home as well. A decision for which my checkbook thanks me profusely. I'm a little bummed not to be showing Elli, especially to Kathy, and I'm out the entry fees, but that's a drop in the bucket next to the hotel, gas, tolls, meals, etc. I would have spent money on.

I was also a little leery about taking Magnum to a show site at only 9 weeks old, and without his second vaccine. He will definitely need to be accustomed to the show scene, but now I can wait until Nationals, when he's had his second shot. In addition to the risk of picking up something nasty, I was dreading removing him from the routine I've been establishing for him. He's doing an AWESOME job with housebreaking and with settling down in his crate at night, and I really didn't want him to backslide by being back in an ex-pen with his siblings and a litter box.

So for me, a little bummage mixed with a little relief. I do feel badly for Joanna, though. The universe needs to give this lady a break, already!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Socialization - Day Three. Or, Magnum charms the pants off everyone

Seriously, Joanna, if you breed another litter you will be able to sell it twenty times over -- every person who has met Magnum has tried to steal him and take him home.

Today the little man went with me when I got the oil changed in the car. We sat in the waiting room, and Magnum amused himself by alternating between playing with his little squid toy and charming the other patrons. There were lots of pets and compliments on how pretty he was and how well-behaved for such a little guy, and one lady sat right down next to me and asked if she could pick him up. He obliged her by snuggling up and kissing her chin. He certainly knows how to work a room!

The only potential bugaboos were the mechanic, who apparently looked a little iffy in his, um, mechanic-ey jacket, and a little boy who was maybe three years old or so, wearing a raincoat. The mechanic bent down and offered Magnum some of the cheese I'd brought for that express purpose. Magnum took it willingly and decided that maybe he wasn't an axe murderer after all.
The little boy looked kinda leery himself of the puppy, so I passed on asking the mom to have him feed Magnum. There'll be plenty more opportunities for him to see kids, and its not like they're a radical new concept for him or anything, what with Joanna's four girls.

This being my third Cardigan in, I'm used to all the "Is that a _____-corgi mix?" Usually it's a sheltie mix or a border-collie mix, but sometimes folks get creative. There was one teenage girl -- at a dog show no less -- who explained to her friend very authoritatively that Ian was a Shiba Inu. With Magnum, I'm getting the inevitable "Is that an Australian Shepherd" or "Is that an Aussie mix?" One person asked if he was a Husky. Sigh. Maybe I should invest in a T-shirt that says, "It's a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. No, not like the Queen has. The other kind of Corgi. Yes, there are two kinds of Corgi."

Anywho, after the car dealership, we went to visit a friend of mine at the University. She told me to bring him on in, so in we went, Magnum trotting along nicely on his leash just like a big boy, rather than being carried in. He was picked up and hugged, petted, kissed by at least four strangers, and at one point had eight people standing there over him, offering pats and scritches and bits of cheese. He was quite the little rock star, and had them all wrapped around his little dewclaw by the time we left.

Lastly, we did toenails and had a bath today. Dremeling was tolerated, but not a big hit. Though truly, I think he objected more to the being restrained while I did it than to the actual dremeling. I also trimmed the hair on his feet, which was tolerated. Magnum was perfectly nonchalant about the bath.

You guys, I am so delighted with this puppy. He is everything I could have wanted in a little guy -- adaptable, well-adjusted, snuggly, adventuresome, adorable, and happy happy happy! I will joyfully send people to Joanna in droves for a puppy, and when it comes my turn to have a litter, I hope I do a fraction as well with them as she's done with the Clue-lettes.

Socialization - Day Two

Since Joanna's monsoon drifted north yesterday, it wasn't the best day for puppy socialization. Heavy rain and wind are not conducive to taking puppies to the park. So, we made do with a trip to the office. My co-workers went wild over Magnum. "Oh, look at those blue eyes!" "His ears are adorable!" "He's so soft!" "I love his color!" "What a sweet puppy!" Magnum was passed from one person to another, hugged, kissed, petted, and put on the floor and fed treats. He was quite the little rock star.

After that, we made a stop at my former workplace to see some friends, and Magnum enjoyed much of the same before succumbing to a persistent nap attack.

Magnum hasn't been wild about riding in the car. The first few minutes of each trip have been punctuated by a cacophony of protest from the crate in back. But the duration of each protest is getting shorter and shorter, so I think he's growing accustomed to it. There is no sign of car sickness, so it may be that he just protests the confinement. He's not wild about the whole crate thing. These are two things that it is crucial that I adapt him to early; crates and travelling will be a big part of his life here at Casa Smalltyme.

Nathan's folks came over for dinner last night, so Magnum met his other Grammy and Grampy. I put Ian in the bedroom when they drove into the driveway. As I expected, Magnum went right over to greet them, along with Elli. It's amazing how they'll follow the lead of the older dog. It's one thing that makes training in a multiple dog household much easier. Of course, they pick up naughty habits along with the good stuff.

In other news, when we woke up this morning, we had...


And now, for some gratuitous photos:

It got too quiet yesterday; I went out to the kitchen and discovered this. This crate is a little smaller than a 200, if anyone is wondering.


Monkey in the middle

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Pics

Elli tries to show Magnum who's the boss
After getting beat up by a girl, Magnum comes to commiserate and do a little male bonding with Ian.

Flop puppy

Socialization - Day One

One reason I was so bananas to get a puppy from Joanna is that she is as nuts about socialization as I am. The puppies got a terrific start at her house, with the kids, other dogs, lots of visitors, etc., and now it's my job to build on that foundation.

Sunday I deliberately kept Magnum home all day to get used to his new home and settle in a little. He had a couple of visitors: first his new Grammy, and later our friends Mike and Ashley. I learned a valuable lesson from the latter visitors.

Ian came to me at about 16 months of age after he had been returned to Karen by his original purchaser. Without naming names, and from what I can gather second and third hand, Ian spent the better part of his first year crated. The person who picked him up from there to take him back to Karen found him in a size 200 crate. She was told that he barked all the time, and that he "was fine" for up to 12 hours a day in his crate.

When this person took him to the car to take him away from there, he never even looked back. He just settled into the car in his (bigger, more appropriately sized) crate, sighed, and gave a non-verbal "thank God." Ian stayed for a few weeks with this person until transportation could be arranged to take him back to Karen, and indeed almost ended up staying there permanently, being such a sweet boy. But the timing was off, so he did finally make his way back to Virginia and to Karen.

Shortly after Ian arrived here with me, Mike and Ashley came over to meet him. For whatever reason, he has never warmed up to them. Part of the reason with Mike may be that he always wears a baseball cap. Ian FREAKS OUT if Mike even touches his hat, or if Ashley does anything with her hair (she has really long, curly hair). I truly believe that at some point in Ian's first year, someone whipped a hat off of his/her head and hit him with it.

So when Mike and Ashley showed up, Ian ran around and barked and in general acted like Mr. Crazypants. Elli, on the other hand, did her joyful "Yay!! Uncle Mike!!" dance. Magnum was very confused: were these axe murderers who needed to be warned off, or were they friends? Which of the older pack members was he supposed to follow?

Lesson One: When new people come over to meet Magnum, have Ian secured in the bedroom or outside in the backyard while they come in. I would rather have him pick up on Elli's over-exuberance than Ian's paranoia.

Yesterday, we left house a couple of times. First Magnum had a well-check at the vet's, which ended up just being a visit with the techs since the vet had an emergency and never got to see him. He will go back for his second innoculation in about three weeks. He got treats and pets and was so stressed out about the whole thing that he actually fell asleep on the table, head on my hand. :-)

After that, I had to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store, so my friend Donna, who works there, came out to the car to meet him. He got more pets and some string cheese and thought life was good.

Next stop was to my mom's friend Maxine's house. Maxine had multiple High in Trials, UDs, TDXs on her Goldens back in the day, and she just plain loves dogs. She was delighted to meet Magnum. He happily took cheese and cuddles from her, but didn't stray too far from me. He played with a toy and then was overcome by a nap attack, so we came home.

Some lunch and a rejuvenating sleep later, I did something STUPID: I decided to take all three for a trip to the boardwalk.

I knew better. I really did. But I was feeling all this Mom-guilt for taking the baby and leaving the big kids at home, so I opted to take everyone. And it was an Unmitigated. Disaster. Elli and Ian decided that it was a race and they just HAD TO pull on their leashes. Magnum did a great job walking on lead, but he wanted to stay with the pack so he was in amongst the other two, tangling leashes and getting underfoot.

When we stopped for a break and had people approach, Ian woofed at them, so Magnum scooted behind my legs, figuring that if the big dog was issuing a warning, these people must be somehow scary. I asked them to stop and offer him some treats, and he happily came out and took them. The next obstacle were people walking other dogs -- because Ian barked and in general acted like a jackass, Magnum figured he better bark too. We did lots of focus-and-treat work to get past that. Still, not exactly what I wanted.

Lesson Two: take the baby by himself. EVERYTIME. For the next several weeks.

Also? Alcohol is my friend.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day Two with The Blue

Wow! Last night was only Magnum's second night here. We went to bed at 10:00 and all had snuggle time on the bed for an hour while I watched TV. Then I took him out for a last potty trip, put him in his crate and sent the grown-ups to their beds, and went lights out.

The next thing I knew, it was 5:30 a.m., and NOT A PEEP!!! All night!!! I hauled myself out of bed before he could start crying and took everyone out. Checked the crate: completely dry and clean.

What a good puppy!!!!

Profile please
The self stacking model

Elli, balancing the Kong on its tip

Ian, having staked his claim on the big Kong

Did someone say "cookies?"

Grabbing a little R & R

Dad and all the "kids"

Seriously, the one ear just kills me

Meeting Grammy for the first time

Be vewy quiet, I'm hunting sleeping wabbits

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Introducing... Magnum!!

Or, the artist formerly known as Dashiell. His formal moniker is Blacksheep Smoking Gun, suggested on Joanna's blog by Claire. Thanks, Claire!!!

Our trip home got off to kind of a rough start, most likely a reaction to the huge amount of roast beef Magnum scarfed down while stacking for photos. Turns out he wasn't just yelling because he was put into a crate in the car. He apparently had some diarrhea brewing. Diarrhea plus crate = EWWW. Fortunately we hadn't driven out of Joanna's yard yet, so we went in for a quick clean up, tied the messy towel up in a plastic bag and away we went. He made it almost all the way home, but between when he started to whine and when I could pull over, he had another bout of diarrhea. Thus, Magnum's introduction to his new home was a quick sink bath.

After that, he got to meet his new siblings.

(Can you stand the one ear up? Seriously, how cute is that?)

Elli really wants to play with her new little brother, but he's a little intimidated, so he's been sitting under the bar stools and sneak attacking her as she goes by. Ian did fine with him, as I knew he would, though I got a rather pointed, "Seriously? Another one?" look from the big guy.

Sabbat the cat didn't even blink. He is so "been there, done that" at this point. Even when the puppy grabs his tail.

I got up a little more with him in the night than I probably would have if not for the diarrhea, but there were no further incidents. When we first went to bed he let out some truly impressive screeches about the indignity of it all and why is he in jail and someone needs to call the United Nations because he's been kidnapped by these terrible people and I WANT MY MOM!!! That only lasted about 5 minutes, though. Each time we came in after a potty trip he settled down pretty quickly. I bet he'll be sleeping through the night in no time.

What can I say? He's a very people oriented little guy, loves to snuggle on laps and will cuddle his little head right into your shoulder. Right now he's napping at my feet, snuggled up to Ian. For breakfast he had the rest of the chicken thigh that I fed him part of for supper, and a little green tripe. No accidents yet in the house, knock on wood. I'm going to have to watch him like a hawk since he seems to have a wood fetish -- no bar stool, baseboard or cupboard is safe. I think his wrestling name will be The Termite. The rug also seems like a fine chew toy, so we'll be sticking bones and chew toys in his face A LOT for the next little while. He's already mastered the dog ramp and will come in and out the door under his own steam. He plays with the big kids a little in the yard, but will mostly follow me around and try to grab my pantleg. His collar and leash are evil and he will be registering a formal protest with the proper authorities.

Today we're letting him get settled in. Tomorrow he has a well-check at the vet's, and he'll go over to meet the in-laws. He may have a visitor or two here at home today, but he's such a friendly little guy that I'm sure he's going to handle new people just fine.

I am so psyched to have this little guy here in our home and our lives! Thank you, Joanna, for this beautiful, well-adapted, wonderfully socialized little love-bug.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Has anyone seen my marbles?

I know y'all might find this hard to believe, but I really was relatively normal once. I used to play cards with friends, go out to eat without discussing semen extraction or heartworm, go to movies instead of dog classes, and buy clothes without wondering, "Will this go with my dog?"

Another thing I used to do? Shop at the meat counter for myself and my husband, rather than the dogs. Stew meat, chicken thighs, hamburger... we used to eat these things. Now I buy them for the dogs. We eat PB and J.

But the real clincher? I went to the grocery store today and ACTUALLY GOT EXCITED when I found a package of fresh turkey necks. And THEN? I regaled the guy at the check-out counter with the virtues of feeding raw. Me!!

Joanna, this is all your fault. You have turned me into a raw-feeding, store-clerk-lecturing, fresh-turkey-neck-thrill-seeking freak of nature. I hope you're pleased with yourself.

So, fresh off the victory of my turkey neck score in Shaw's, I moseyed into Pet Quarters to pick up a puppy collar. A collar. One collar. For the puppy. What did I come out with?

Two collars; a matching leash for one of the collars; a puppy sized Nyla bone; a Fluffy Flappy in grey and light blue to MATCH THE PUPPY; a stuffed dog to sleep in the crate with him; a puppy sized Kong; and a Kong bone with hollow ends that you can stuff with treats. And there were two other stuffed toys that I actually put back!

Good grief. If anyone finds my marbles, could you send them back to me? I'll pay the postage.

A Walk in the Park; and, Sturm und Drang

There's a park on Route 90, maybe 10 minutes away from home, that I've driven past a hundred times but never stopped to check out. But yesterday was a gorgeous day, and it was the one evening I didn't: a) have dog class; or b) have to work at my second job. So I packed the dogs into the car and headed over to see what little Payson Park was all about.

Ian and Elli on the riverbank. Ian shows off his beautiful front.
Elli demonstrates how to sit so that a Mack truck can drive through hers. :-/

On the footbridge over the rushing water.

"I'm the King of the World!!"

There are several picnic tables and benches in the park, as well as playground equipment. There were two teeters, so Elli did a couple practice runs. Unfortunately, they're a little slippery to be used for dog agility. I wonder if anyone would notice if I were to sneak in there and repaint them with the sanded paint used on agility equipment...

There was also a... um, climbing thingy with a couple slides of different heights. We went up the steps but not down the slide. There are some swings, and a merry-go-round (the turning platform variety, not the kind with horses), and a dome structure made out of bars for kids to crawl through, in, etc.

There's a wooden footbridge that spans the river and leads to the snowmobiling/hiking trails on the other side of the water. It was a little muddy yet, but this will be a great little hike in the summer. It will also be a good spot to take the dogs to get wet and cool off during warm weather. The water is a little high and fast right now for them, but in mid-summer it will be just right, and they'll be kept on lead anyway, per park rules.

What really struck me was that this is going to be an AWESOME place to bring the puppy for some socialization and new experiences with respect to climbing on the plastic equipment and feeling something move under him (a slow turn on the merry-go-round). It'll also be a great place for him to meet new people and see kids running around, swinging on swings, using the teeter, etc. When we were there last night, a boy of maybe 8 or 9 years old came in with him mom, and as they came down the hill, he got all excited, asking, "Are those corgis? Those are my favorite dogs!!" Elli was very happy to greet (read: jump all over and kiss) him; she has no manners. Probably her mother should teach her some. Ian was less impressed with the whole kid thing. I tied Elli for a minute and had the boy feed Ian some cheese and make friends. I'm sure the puppy will already be more outgoing than Ian, and goodness knows he'll be used to children, but it'll be great to get him out to make friends like that.

That is assuming, of course, that I can stop waffling and make up my mind WHICH puppy is coming home with me -- hence, the sturm und drang. For the first few weeks, I had one guy picked out. Then after I went down to visit, I fell in love with a different guy. Have a name picked out and everything. But then lots of people have commented how nice the first little guy is -- which he IS -- and now I'm questioning myself. And I came up with a name for HIM, should he be the one. It doesn't help that the two boys are so very different from one another as far as look and type.

Gah! The indecisiveness! The angst! The fear that I'll choose the "wrong" one! And the added pressure of knowing that the guy I don't take is headed to a pet, not a show, home. Add in the fact that I may, just possibly, be a tad bit obsessive and over-analytical about this, and it's turning into one very stressful week. All totally self-induced stress, but stress just the same. If I had that elusive trust fund, I'd be whining and pleading with Joanna to sell me both puppies, but between going to NJ next weekend, buying a puppy, and going to Nationals next month, I'm going to be eating nothing but Ramen for the entire summer as it is.

I guess it all comes down to what I'm looking for in particular for my breeding program and, most importantly, which little guy I ultimately want to share my couch, my bed, my life with, because those are the most important things. And my willingness to live with the choice I make, whether he becomes a conformation star or not.

So, I'm telling myself to wipe the slate clean and go into this weekend without any preference. Spend time with the two boys, both together and one on one. Listen to the others who are there to evaluate puppies. Stack them up and see how they look when set up like they will be in the show ring. Watch them move, gaiting if possible as well as moving naturally. Make sure there are two balls and correct bites. See who responds more to me, who is more motivated to work for that tasty bit of cheese or hot dog.

And then, go home with the one who claims my heart.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Full Week into Raw Diet

Ian and Elli are now one full week into a totally raw diet, as opposed to the half raw, half kibble diet they were getting before that. The week broke down like this:
  • Tues: AM - chicken thigh; PM - Beef bones, yogurt, egg
  • Wed: AM - chicken thigh; PM - chicken giblets, beef liver
  • Thur: AM - chicken thigh; PM - stew beef
  • Fri: AM - pork meat; PM - stew beef
  • Sat: AM - chicken thigh; PM - yogurt, beef heart (which the butcher was kind enough to cut up for me, even if he did think I was nuts)
  • Sun: AM - chicken thigh; PM - veggie slop
  • Mon: AM - chicken thigh; PM - pork meat
  • Today: AM - chicken thigh; PM - will be the last dab of pork meat and some tripe (Thanks, Taryn, for the suggestion of the Bravo frozen Green tripe. Found some close by!)
I know chicken backs would undoubtedly be cheaper than feeding the thighs. However, no one in the immediate vicinity seems to have them on hand, and I don't particularly want to order a 40 lb. case, at least not until I can buy a chest freezer to put downstairs. The thighs (or drumsticks if I decide to go that route once in a while) are quick and easy to grab at the grocery store. The Animal House, where I picked up the tripe, also carries several frozen raw products, so that will be a good, convenient resource for some of the more "exotic" stuff. I quite like that store, and will no doubt become a frequent flyer.

I can't say I'm noticing any radical changes in the dogs yet in terms of coat. I'll be interested to see if there is any difference in the coming weeks. I've been feeling their ribs a ridiculous number of times a day to make sure they're not gaining weight, and they both seem to be holding well there. I do notice the difference in their stools, and in better breath. They do still get a night-time "cookie," but no more kibble other than the handful I use as training treats.

There hasn't been any diarrhea, and only the one incident of (truly impressive) projectile vomiting. Elli has spit up some foam twice, indicating that she does get hungrier between meals with the, um, faster moving raw meaty bone in the morning instead of the stick-to-the-ribs kibble. She gets a small lunch cookie, so as long as dinner isn't unnecessarily delayed that should hold her.

In short, they're both happy, healthy dogs. Ian thinks life is grand; now if only he would discover the joys of chewing and actually, you know, tasting his food. I never would have believed a chicken thigh could disappear that fast. Elli is adapting to the new regime; she takes a little more time with her food, chewing pieces of meat off the bone and then chewing up the bone afterward. She's becoming quite the little princess; maybe having a new little brother to terrorize her will rub some of this new-found dignity off of her!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Uh, waiter? This is NOT what I ordered.

Yesterday I got to play with my new toy: the food processor. I've had an anemic blender for years; it was a "hey, look, a stowaway!" that I got when I moved into an apartment and it had been left behind by the former tenant. It went nicely with the 4 etched-glass margarita glasses that I got from another apartment I had moved into. Ah, the rummage sale life of a serial renter. But this is the first food processor I've owned. And it is AWESOME.

So yesterday was the test run on the processor's raison d'etre -- veggie slop for the dogs. (Though there are definitely some rum balls in that processor's future!) Hamburger, kale, green beans, summer squash, apples, minced garlic, salmon oil, eggs, and yogurt. Several batches were run through the processor until I had a huge mixing bowl full, about 17 to 18 cups of slop all told, which was enough for suppers last night, and five 3-cup containers in the freezer for the weeks to come.

How did the veggie slop go over, you ask?

Ian: "Cool! Food!" snarf snarf snarf snarf

Elli: takes one look and motions me over. "Excuse me, but this is not the meal I ordered."

Me: "It's good for you. There's plenty of meat in there. Eat your supper."

Elli: raises an eyebrow at the bowl with the slop in question. "This is not food."

Me: "It IS food. Eat your supper."

Elli: sits down. "I'd like to speak with a member of the management."

Me: "Um, that would be ME. Eat your supper!"

Elli: "There's a fly in my soup."

Me: "See, I told you there was meat. Eat!"

Elli: wanders over to see what Ian is eating.

Ian: "Isn't this great?!" snarf snarf snarf

Elli: "Men!"

Me: "Elli! Go. Eat. Your. Dinner!"

Elli: "You have clearly taken leave of your senses. I am sure there is nothing in this world that would compel me to eat this... this substance you are pushing at me."

Sabbat the Cat: wanders over to see what's in Elli's bowl

Elli: "Hey!! You!! Get the hell away from my dinner!" digs in and starts eating.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Further Adventures in Feeding Raw

Le sigh. It was probably a little naive to think that this road to feeding a completely raw diet wouldn't have some bumps along the way.

When I picked the kids up from daycare (AKA Grammie's house) yesterday, I was informed by an unimpressed mom that Elli had just vomited on the living room rug. She was acting just fine -- doing the mom's home dance, grabbing a toy and tossing it, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, etc. -- and upon further probing I learned that she had only vomited the foamy yellow bile stuff. No big, she was just over-hungry. Which I suppose makes sense when she's been accustomed to having slow-to-digest kibble in the morning rather than the quick-to-digest chicken thigh that she got. Easy solution: give her two cookies, or a larger cookie, at lunch time to tide her over until dinner.

Said dinner last night consisted of chicken hearts, gizzards, and some beef liver. I will 'fess up here that I do brown the beef liver a little -- not cooked through, just the outside browned before I cut it up for them, because... um, eww. (Comment from hubby: "That's not OUR dinner, right?")The dogs have been getting the occasional liver anyway, so that's not a change for them. So, a couple chicken hearts a piece, some gizzards that I cut into manageable size pieces, and maybe 4 oz. of liver apiece. This was a big hit, especially with Ian. So much so that I don't think he even stopped to chew any of it.

Wait: actually, I can attest to the fact that he didn't chew it. Because about 20 minutes later, he PROJECTILE VOMITED it across my living room carpet.


I mean really, have you seen The Exorcist? Yeah, like that. But without the head-spinning. Well, maybe MY head spun around a little, but anywho... We're talking a good 2.5 to 3-foot arc, because maximum coverage is important when vomiting on wall-to-wall carpet. (It's in the Rules for Dogs to Live By book.) And yeah, it looked pretty much the same as it had 20 minutes before, with the addition of a little added moisture. No, Joanna, I did not let him clean it up himself. Seriously, there are limits.

I know there wasn't a problem with WHAT I fed them; Elli was fine, and none of the components were anything they've never eaten before. I therefore conclude that either: a) Ian just bolted it too fast; b) I fed him a little too much; or c) the post-dinner rough-housing was a little much immediately following the meal.

On the upside, I saved the $20 on obedience class last night. :-/

I am deeply concerned that, suddenly, a raw fricking chicken thigh seems the lesser of the evils to me.

Dog people are not normal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Impending Arrival

Holy guacemole!! Only a week and a half until I'm hearing the pitter-patter of little paws on my floors. For so long it seemed like P-day would never get here, and suddenly, it's almost here! Let the relaxation at home end and the sleep deprivation begin!

In preparation for the imminent arrival, I've now taken the plunge and converted Ian and Elli over to a completely raw diet. Their first foray into Raw Meaty Bones was a chicken thigh the other night. I gave them each one and stepped back, immediately horrified by what I had just done. "Omigod, the crunching, ew!! It's raw chicken, for goodness sake! Holy crap, Ian downed the whole thing in about 45 seconds! He'll have a blockage! He'll perforate an intestine! I've just killed my dogs!!" Such was my internal monologue. I immediately IM'd Joanna, who conceded that, yes, losing one's virginity is difficult, but we all get through it (with an unspoken but no-doubt heartfelt "calm the #%$& down, already. Sheesh").

Elli, a bit more elegant about eating than Ian, if not about much else, actually chewed pieces off of hers until it was gone, rather than crunching the bones and swallowing it pretty much whole. This was after she looked at it, looked back around the counter at me, licked it, looked back at me again as if to say, "Seriously? This is food?", then finally settled down to eat her chicken.

As it turned out, I did not in fact kill my dogs. The next morning, they had teeny tiny little poops and were bouncing around with their usual vigor. Gee, just like Joanna said they would. Okay, okay! The raw diet is all right. I mean, it's gross, but it's perfectly fine for the dogs. And did I mention teeny tiny poops?

We have a local butcher about two miles from my house, so I stopped in there last night to see what would be available for organ meats. They said they do sell a "dog food" which is a mixture of organ meat and ground beef, but the girl at the counter didn't know what the proportion was of ground beef to organ, so I passed. I asked if they sold beef heart, which they assured me they do. I asked if I could have it cut up, sort of like stew meat. They looked at me funny. I explained that it was for the dogs and me plopping a whole heart up on the cutting board and slicing into was just not. going. to happen. They continued to look at me funny.

They said they could probably do that (though not then, as it was actually closing time), but that it's awesome sliced -- they eat it just like steak, even their kids love it, etc. I looked at THEM funny.

We'll try on Saturday, when they're not closing up.

They also sell tripe, though I'm sure it's of the washed, not unwashed, variety. They can order cases of chicken backs for me, but do not have them as a regular item.

I also bit the bullet and bought a food processor so I can make up the batches of veggie mix. (And also, so I can grind up Nilla Wafers to make my coconut rum balls out of. Mmmmmmm, rum balls...)

So, the household will be all cool with the raw feeding when the little guy comes home. I think the only other things I need to pick up for the puppy are a collar and leash and some new baby blankets for his crate. Also some puppy-sized toys.

Squeeee!! Puppy!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What a gorgeous day!!

This has been a glorious March -- March!! -- weekend in Maine. We were in the upper 50's both days, with no wind to speak of and lots of sun. We took the critters for a walk on the boardwalk today.


Grooming table... picnic table -- close enough!

Pothole season in Maine

What potholes look like in Maine:

This is not a construction site. A couple of weeks ago, the Rockland PD got a phone call reporting a large pothole on Old County Road. By the time they got there, this is what they saw. They've since erected the fence, so I couldn't get close enough to take a photo down into the hole, but it goes down about 50 feet. There was apparently a tunnel connecting two old quarries that ran underneath the road. It collapsed, and within an hour or so this crater had opened up, stretching all the way across the road.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catching up, seeing puppies, etc.

Wow, bad blogger again! I meant to post this on Monday, but the week got away from me. So, without further ado...

Sunday was a totally puppilicious day. I started the day by temperament testing my training instructor's Aussie litter. I pretty much use the standard Puppy Aptitude Test, with the inclusion of the umbrella "startle" test and the EXclusion of the Touch Sensitivity, or pinch, test. Call me a wuss, but I do NOT like pinching widdle baby puppy feet and hurting them. Maybe it's just me, but nope, not doing it. Sue me.

It was an interesting litter. There were two puppies who scored in the 2-3 range, and two puppies that were mostly 5's and 6's. There were a couple of observations that I took away from the experience (and I am certainly no expert -- these are just my thoughts based on what I've experienced with this and other litters):

  • With the first puppy, I did the Restraint test as the third item after Social Attraction and Following. Although this puppy scored solid 2's and 3's on every other test, she scored a 6 on the Social Dominance test; it was my conclusion that this was a direct result of doing that test right after the Restraint test, and I don't believe a 6 was really an accurate score on that test for that particular puppy. She was the first puppy of this litter that I tested that day, so after her I moved the restraint test to the end of cycle for the other puppies.

  • The temperament test is supposed to be administered in a room that is unfamiliar to the puppy, by a person who is unfamiliar to the puppy. While this set of circumstances does mimic what a dog may be faced with in life, I do wonder if the results with a puppy are truly reflective of how the adult dog would handle the situation. At least one of the puppies who scored 5's and 6's didn't necessarily seem to be truly uninterested in me or shy/scared of me, but he WAS very curious about the new surroundings. He didn't come readily to me or follow me, but when I elevated him he was completely relaxed, and after the testing was done and I picked him up to cuddle him, he made some eye contact, licked my chin, and engaged with me. I'm not sure I believe that an adult dog with a little more life experience would behave exactly the same as a 7-week old puppy with respect to new person vs. new surroundings.

  • The number scores are presumably meant to apply to puppies across the board; accordingly, you would want to see the same "ideal" scores in each puppy, no matter the breed. I would prefer to tailor these temperament/aptitude tests, or at least the interpretation thereof, to the specific breed or, at the least, to a particular group. For example, I don't want to see a Golden Retriever and a Border Collie perform the same way on the Retrieve test. Or maybe a more accurate thing would be to say that I would not apply the same meaning to the same score for those two breeds. I would certainly want to see the Golden run out, grab the piece of crumpled paper, and bring it back to me. However, I would expect more pouncing, mouthing and/or guarding out of the Border Collie, which is a herding breed and should therefore have a higher prey drive. The Border could also be reasonably expected to perform more independently than a dog that is expected to closely follow handler cues to perform its work.

No matter how many litters I look at, it never fails to bemuse me how individual each pup is. Here they are, all raised together, by the same mother, in the same way, but they so early develop their own little personalities. Surely, at this age, Nature is much more on display than Nurture.

My final word on temperament/aptitude tests: they do not in any way replace the breeder's experience and observation. Rather, I see them as merely one more tool that the breeder has in deciding how to place each puppy. The testing offers the breeder the opportunity to see how each puppy behaves with that new person and with new experiences, a little something else to add to their coffer of knowledge of each. So no big write-up or profile from me saying this one needs to go here, that one can't go there, etc. This is what you saw from each puppy, make of that what you will.

What experiences have others had, either giving the tests or having them done on litters they've bred? Am I totally out in left field (AKA talking out of my @$$)?

The second part of the day was one I had been anxiously awaiting for weeks: The chance to see the Clue-lettes! First, I have a small confession to make. Y'all know I've been like this weirdo cyber puppy-stalker, and I'll admit that, in some of my more uncharitable moments, I may have grumbled to myself that there could be more photo updates of the litter, some stacked photos, etc. and so on. So I was really looking forward to going to Joanna's with my camera to take a photo library to later pour over, study in infinitessimal detail, measure millimeter to millimeter so I could calculate length to height (you know, as one does), etc. Thus, allow me to present:

Yep. A picture. Of me. That my HUSBAND took, of me sitting on the floor with Ginny while Joanna and I talked. Can I just say that I now TOTALLY understand why there haven't been hourly photo updates and a glossy library of stacked photos like I craved? Seriously, who can be bothered messing with a camera and taking pictures when there are all of those abso-freaking-lutely adorable puppies to be played with and squidged and kissed and tousled and belly-rubbed? And stacking them up? Fuggedaboutit. Ever try to stand a piece of spaghetti up on its end? A COOKED piece of spaghetti? Yeah, it's like that. Wiggly, kissy, playful little puppies do not want to stand still and pose for the camera. Not even for a piece of hot dog. Because there's a whole plate of hotdogs right there.

So, Joanna? My bad. Never again shall I grumble about not having new photos to obsess over each day. I worship at your feet for taking all the photos you have taken, while still doing your work, mothering four girls (who were all also just lovely, by the way), and raising these wonderful babies. And for goodness sake, go kiss those puppies for me!!

The litter is simply beautiful, and beautifully outgoing and confident. Toys were played with, fingers and toes were nibbled, laps were climbed into... I couldn't ask for more. As I expected, Joanna has done a fabulous job making them happy, healthy, and well-adjusted little baby dogs.

Do I have a favorite? Yup. Though I think my favorite has changed during the week with the outdoor photos of the puppies. Who is it?

Stay tuned!