Thursday, 28 February 2019

hot weather as a start to Autumn

It's been a while since I posted, but the hot weather we've been having takes the energy out of me and out of Penny.

But we still manage a walk most days, even though often a short one if it's a hot day.

Yesterday we headed off to Yarra Glen for a Bowen therapy session for both human and canine together.

And how wonderful it was, for me with a sore aching back and Penny with her arthritic joints.

On the way home we stopped off briefly at Heide Museum of Modern Art for a quick lunch. There's a huge garden with outdoor sculptures and various installations, and many old, substantial shade trees. Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on lead.

However, because Penny and I had been in an air-conditioned car driving the fifty minutes down from Yarra Glen in the hills, I hadn't realised how hot it was, even in the shady outdoor section of the cafe. I had already ordered my lunch, so while we waited I quietly poured my drinking water onto Penny. (As you can see in the photo, the kindly waiter had brought the dog drinking bowl inside for us.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

tale of a dog, a djembe and a kangaroo tail

One of the humans has a new goatskin stretched across his dejmbe, so of course he had to try it out as soon as he got it back after the repair.

And of course Penny had to have a look at it as he placed it on the floor. Unfortunately for any future joy she'll have in listening to djembe rhythms, he gave a nice loud thump just as she looked up into the bottom of it. It sure must have been loud to a dog's hearing, as her head was inside the cavity of the drum.

So now Penny hates it. Here she is peeping around the corner of the next room to check what the scary noise is.

To cheer her up, I presented her with the enormous kangaroo tail that we recently bought for her. We got such a huge one because I worry about her choking on a small bone. (Yes, I know it was a bit of overkill.)

As usual, she headed out the doggy door to bury her bone. But what a problem... The bone wouldn't fit through the small space. So round and round and round and round she went, trying to figure out how to get to the backyard.

Until I took pity on her dilemma and opened a door.

So the search began for a place to bury a long, long bone.

This way?  No, perhaps this spot?

And finally, a good hiding place.

By the time she was finished, you couldn't even see there was a bone. I'm constantly amazed at how much dirt she can move with her nose.

And back inside.

But then she changed her mind. She decided to fetch it. At this stage it wasn't a red juicy-looking bone. It was dark with soil.

And so the day continued. Chew, chew, chew, chew... Until she was so exhausted with the effort that I began to worry about her.

Eventually I decided she was panting so much I'd try to take it, as planned. I swapped it for a frozen cube of mashed vegetables in warm water.

Hours of fun for all.

Thursday, 10 January 2019


Tinned sardines are our stand-by food for Penny when we've accidentally run out of the raw meat diet we obtain from Barking Good in East Ivanhoe.

We did try the raw sardines sold in that shop, but for some reason Penny wouldn't eat the non-tinned variety.

She get sardines about once a week, and I was pleased to read this article on Dogster about the benefits of this food.

We've always aimed to feed her only wild-caught fish, packed in fresh water. It's not always easy to obtain those, so we stock up when we see them, especially if they're on special.

One thing we will NOT buy is a tin of sardines (or any other seafood) from Thailand, because of the likelihood that the fish were caught by enslaved men. Penny's food, as far as we know, is not supporting the modern slave trade in Thailand.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas Kong toy for Penny

I intended to begin this post by reporting that for the first time in Penny's 14 years I succumbed to the commercialism of Christmas and bought her a gift, but on looking back through my blogs I see that I did the same in 2011.

This time I decided it was years since Penny had a new toy, and it's never too late to liven up an old dog's life with something novel.

She loved it and immediately hunched possessively over it.

So of course I couldn't resist trying to get it from her. But no way!

After a while I could have sneaked up to steal it while she was sleeping, but she did have her paws resting on it, so I thought I'd leave her in peace.

The instructions say it should only be used under supervision, so I'll put it up on a shelf when I'm not there to watch her.

Monday, 10 December 2018

December with my dog

I'm surprised to see I haven't posted any updates on Penny's day-to-day life since October 6th. Where did October and November go?

Anyway, there is one thing to report for November - Penny had a long-overdue haircut. Here she is, energised after the visit to her lovely groomer, Gabby.

Penny has never been fond of being groomed, but when I took her for a walk prior to going into the salon, she tugged me down the driveway into Gabby's place. That's what I call 'voting with your feet'! Gabby has a gift for making Penny relaxed and happy.

It had been cool for November, so I covered her with a blanket the first couple of nights, as she has quite a thin coat.

I didn't have to do that for long. December arrived with a vengeance, and hot, hot weather landed on us. It was too hot, even at night, to walk, so I drove to Kepala to give her a swim. I loaded up a big container of  water in a cooler in case the car broke down, because I don't think she could deal with 38°C these days. She was panting in the back seat, even with the air conditioner going, but we got there safely after the 50 minute drive.

It was worth it.

The rules specify that humans are not allowed past the blue line, so I took that as a definite instruction to wade in up to the blue line. (When I wasn't taking a break in the shaded hut.)

It's not only about keeping cool. The benefits of swimming are wonderful for old dogs with joint problems. Look at how she stretches her limbs when she swims.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Life with an old dog

Life is quieter these days, now that Penny is older. She's still enjoying life, though. We headed to one of our favourite places late this afternoon, to enjoy the early evening.

Last weekend was the Grand Final of the football, and, hey presto! it's time for cricket now. You can see the teams playing in the background, but Penny wasn't interested.

We walked under a lovely planting of large trees, mostly oaks. There were plenty of interesting scents for a senior dog to enjoy.

Of course, there are always yummy dog treats if you keep your attention on your human when she asks you to.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Bone broth for a raw-fed dog

I received a yummy-looking recipe from DogsNaturally magazine recently and decided to make it - bone broth. I hastened down to the local raw-food/canine naturopath to buy some bones.

I shouldn't have been surprised when she said she doesn't bother making bone broth. As she says, it's unlikely that dogs in the wild would be boiling up a batch of broth.

But I wanted to try it.

Fortunately, I  was wise enough to cook it out of the house. I thought of doing it on the back patio, but the thought that Penny might sniff around the slow-cooker and perhaps scald herself was worrisome, so I did it in the glasshouse at the bottom of the garden. The reason for going outdoors was the mention of a bad smell.

Bad smell... Wow! Yes! Disgusting to me. But Penny thought it was interesting, as the slow cooker operated over the next two-and-a-half days. Yep, I decided to give it a nice long cook.

So, after cooking it up, I put it into the fridge and a layer of fat collected on the surface. I skimmed that off and put it into the compost. The result was a thick jelly that looked delicious, but smelled awful. I've put it into ice-cube trays in the freezer. There seems to be enough to feed a pack of dogs for the next century.

Penny thinks it's delicious.

Here's the recipe, but I acknowledge it comes from DogsNaturally and suggest you go over there and check it out properly. There are great photos of the broth preparation.

BONE BROTH FOR DOGS Step 1: Add Bones, Water And Vinegar
 First, I fill my crockpot with bones. Because I like to make sure there’s lots of healthy, joint protecting gelatin in my broth, I use bones with a lot of joints in them like chicken feet. I’ll also add some garlic for health and flavor (and if you think garlic is dangerous for dogs, just leave it out or read this article).If you don’t have a crockpot, you can use a regular old pot on your stove … but you have to leave it cooking overnight so I prefer the crockpot.Organic, grass fed bones will be the best … don’t skimp on the bones and feel free to use discarded bones from your own meals … they’re just fine for broth. Step 2: Add Water And Vinegar Next, I’ll fill the pot so the bones are completely covered, plus an extra two or three inches of water on top. The important part is to add raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the pot … this is the magic ingredient that makes sure your broth has all of that great and healthy gelatin in it … it also pulls the nutritious minerals out of the bones.I’ll add about three or four tablespoons of vinegar to a pot this size.Once I’ve added the bones, water and vinegar, I put my crockpot on high for an hour, then I turn it down to low and leave it cooking for 24 hours. You can leave it cooking for two or three days if you want, but I find it starts cooking down too much after a day and I can still get a good jelly-like consistency after a day. Step 3: Strain The Bones
 When the broth is finished, I need to strain the bones and meat out. These bones shouldn’t be fed to dogs, so I put them in the green bin. My dogs don’t need them anyway … I’ve already got the good parts in my broth.  Step 4: Get Creative Here’s the fun but optional part.When I turn the crockpot off, I’ll add some nutritious extras. For this batch of broth, I added some frozen kale and fresh leftover green beans. But I also like to add medicinal mushrooms, broccoli, kelp and herbs … and sometimes nothing at all. Check out this articlefor some ideas of nutritious veggies you can add.
Toss in any healthy herbs or vegetables your dog loves (and if he doesn’t love them, then bone broth is a great place to hide them).I’ll add these ingredients while the broth is hot, right after I’ve turned it off. Then the broth will cool with the veggies in it, making them just soft enough for my dogs to get their yummy goodness. Step 5: Let It Cool Once my broth is cooled, I’ll put it in the fridge. This is where the magic happens … and in just a few hours, you’ll know if you’ve made a good batch!Once your broth comes out of the fridge, it will have a hard layer of fat on top. You should chip this off and toss it in the green bin. Underneath the fat, your bone broth should now look like jelly … the jelly means you’ve got lots of gelatin in there, and that’s what helps with your dog’s joints and the leaky gut that can cause allergies and digestive upset. That gelatin plugs the holes in leaky gut that can cause allergy symptoms, so the more jelly-like, the better! If your broth doesn’t look like jelly, don’t worry … it just means you didn’t add enough vinegar. Next time just add a little more vinegar and your next batch will be just fine. But first use the broth you have because it will still be packed with healthy goodness! Step 6: Store Your Broth  Because I have a lot of dogs, I just leave my bone broth in the crockpot in their fridge (yes, my dogs have their own fridge, but I’m sure there’s room in your fridge for bone broth). A pot this large will last my five large Labradors about 4 or 5 days. I wouldn’t want to keep it in the fridge for more than a few days anyway so I just make a fresh batch once or twice a week.If you have just one or two dogs, you can take the broth and label it into mason jars and store it. If you’ve got small dogs, you can ladle your broth into an ice cube tray and just pull a cube out at a time.Having a supply of bone broth in your freezer is a super idea … bone broth is incredibly nutritious and healing for sick dogs (think chicken soup). So make sure you have some on hand for emergencies.  Step 7: Give It To Your Dog! The final (and best) step is to feed the bone broth to your dog!I pull bone broth out of the fridge and give my large dogs two or three heaping spoonfuls over their dinner. It’s food not medicine, so I don’t get too hung up on exactly how much I give my dogs.My dogs love hanging out in the kitchen when it’s cooking … and you can see above that Dottie can’t wait to sample it after smelling it all day!So there you have it … it’s incredibly easy to make bone broth and your dogs will love the taste and reap the health benefits.