Saturday, 28 February 2015

dogs and coffee grounds

Because I'm a keen gardener, I was thrilled yesterday to find a cafe that allowed me to take home a big bag of coffee grounds after I ate there. I intended to put them around my blueberries, azaleas and camellias. I've read that they're really good for the soil in general, but that it can also be good to put them through a composting process first.


I put the bag on the back patio and soon afterwards Penny got up from her snoozing mat in the house and went out to investigate the nice smell.

Hmmm... This might need a bit of investigating...
I decided to look on the Net for info about dogs and coffee grounds.

And it looks like it would not be a good idea to lay them on the garden beds out the back where Penny can wander at will. I'll have to mix them into the compost pile, or the wormeries (three of them) or put some in the Bokashi bins (five of them), before adding them to my soil.

Here's a site with info about dogs and coffee grounds. And this is what PetPoisonHelpline says:
Pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats.
I'll use the grounds neat on the camellias and azaleas, because Penny doesn't have free access to the front yard.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

a dog sees the changeover from cricket to footy

Penny and I strolled down to the Yarra River at Warringal today, for her usual swim...

...a beautiful walk in the cool of a summer evening.

Then we headed back, towards the sports oval, and found a scene of exciting change. It's time for the footy season!

Go Hawks!

It was amusing to see the cricketers were sticking to their guns - or wickets - and continued to practise bowling and batting in the cricket nets, ignoring the hordes of footballers running around beside them.

Three cricketers - but dozens of footballers, from lots of different clubs. I think the footy is going to win the battle for space. Seeing the news cameras were there in force, I guess it was some special introduction to the start of the 2015 football season.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

dogs and chocolate

I thought this article about the dangers of chocolate was helpful and informative.

I've blogged previously about chocolate, because I'll have to admit this substance plays a big part in the diet of our household, despite any resolutions to the contrary.

I recall I was horrified to learn that even a little bit of cocoa would harm Penny. Some of her humans - me included - wouldn't think the day was complete without two cups of strong, dark Dutch cocoa. So the jar stays high up in a cupboard when not in use, with the lid tightly screwed on.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

information about travelling with your dog in Australia

I received my daily inbox drop from Yourlifechoices today and it has a great set of links about places where you can travel with your dog. Not grotty places where you are a second-hand citizen because you have a dog - I think from these links I'll find a place where Penny and I would feel welcome.

Of course, our favourite places so far have been near Yarram and at Bright. Both of those locations are welcoming, clean, and, as the Yourlifechoices article suggests, have lots of places where you can walk with your canine friend. It's no use going on vacation and leaving our dogs lonely in a strange room.

Friday, 30 January 2015

a free crostic puzzle

I'm not sure if any of you (humans, that is) have ever done a crostic puzzle, but here's one, courtesy of one of Penny's humans.

The diagram is not a crossword, even though it might look like one. The whole thing is an excerpt from a piece of writing, in this case a novel. No hints as to which novel, of course, but if you have read any of Hsin-Yi's doggy mysteries, you might...oops, I wasn't supposed to give any hints.

Each word in the text ends at a shaded square, which is not necessarily at the end of a line. There's no punctuation.

You answer the clues as best you can, and transfer the letters to the diagram. The tiny letter in the top right of each square tells you which clue to transfer from.

Often you can guess incomplete words on the diagram, especially if you've read about Honey and her adventures - oops, forgot I'm not going to give away which author features in the puzzle.

As an extra help, the first letters of each answer, on the clue page, reading down, spell the name of the author and the title of the book.

In case I haven't explained clearly, here are some links to sites that describe the way to solve a crostic:
how stuff works

I'm including it as a jpg, so you would have to print out these two following sections, if you want to do it. I don't know how to make it bigger on the blog page, but if you click on each page of the puzzle, it opens in a new window where it's easier to read.

In a couple of weeks I'll post the answer, just in case someone wants to see it.

Have fun!

BTW, I've just had a thought. Seeing I'm a primary school teacher (elementary school), I'll mention that this puzzle is copyright free. Any teachers using H A Hanna's award-winning books in class are welcome to print off these puzzles.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

dogs' vision compared to ours

Browsing the Dog Trick Academy, I came across a link to an interesting article about how dogs see.

I've often noticed than when something is thrown for Penny to fetch, she waits for a moment before setting off. (And how wonderful it is that many years down the track after her cruciate operation, she is able to run once again. We don't do much throwing for her, though. We're still aware she has a weakness in that leg.)

If it's a long way away, she will circle in a way that makes me think she's depending more on smell than sight.

Monday, 19 January 2015

dog bane plants in the garden

I took a cutting of an interesting plant about a year ago and it's grown big. I've been wondering what it is, and decided to stroll around Bulleen Art and Garden, my favourite nursery.

And there it was, labelled as 'Dog Bane.'

Hmm... I thought to myself, I should research this and decide whether to keep it in the garden. So I started looking, and nearly fell off my chair when I saw that a plant called Dog Bane would be deadly to Penny. I was about to race outside to put it up on a bench so she couldn't nibble on it, but I must admit I took a moment to enjoy the Latin name  - apocynum cannabinum - the first word of which means 'away dog'. I remember once discovering that the word 'cynic' comes from the Latin word for dog.

But then I noticed that the photos of this dogbane plant didn't look like my plant, and discovered to my relief that an American plant, very dangerous, has the same name as a European plant that is not so dangerous. The European one is plectranthus caninus, and although it's supposed to deter dogs from digging in the garden, it doesn't come with the scary warnings.

Here's a site with lots of ideas about how to combine dog ownership with gardening. The interesting part for me is this:
Plectranthus caninus
Dogsbane is a succulent-like plant that has showy large lavender-like flowers in spring and summer. Growing to about 80cm x 50cm high, the musky green leaves apparently deter dogs from digging in the garden. Prefers well-drained soil in a sunny or semi-shaded position. An attractive plant best used at the front of a garden bed even if you don't have a dog.
There's a gorgeous photo of a plectranthus flower on this page. You'll see why I really don't want to get rid of my plant unless I have to.

And, just when I thought I'd got my head around this confusion, a friend visited today, looked at my plant and said, 'What's this? It looks like my dogwort plant.'

So, I headed back to the Internet to check out that name and found little about it, except at one site where dogwort was said to be plectranthus neochilus, a herb with winter flowers shaped like lavender.

An African site lists plecranthus neochilus as 'spur flower' and says it's reputed to scare away snakes. That would certainly be a great feature, here in Australia, lol.

The bottom line is, this plant doesn't seem to be dangerous to Penny.