Saturday, 27 November 2010

a dog, a blowfly and a spider

Penny eats blowflies.

It came about because, in her impressionable youth, she encountered a mystery infestation of newly-hatched blowflies in our house and thought it great fun to chase them and eat them.

Disgusting, I know. But dogs don't seem to understand the concept of disgust. (And, from reading the article I've just linked to, no-one completely understands the function of disgust in human psychology.)

Anyway, back to blowflies. (I hope your sense of disgust hasn't kicked in so strongly that you've already clicked away from this post.)

One of Penny's humans reported that she was 'licking the front window'. That seemed so strange that I jumped up from the computer, where I was reporting on our walk to Fairfield Boathouse this morning, and went to check it out.

Frenzied buzzing explained it all. A fly was caught in a spider web at the side of the window where Penny keeps an eye on the street.

'Leave it! I snapped. Too late. She'd pinched the spider's lunch. And the little spider, about the size of a fly itself, was coming out to see what the problem was.

You can't live in Australia without co-existing amicably with spiders, but the thought of the spider biting Penny on the mouth or nose had me worried. So Penny had to go into prison behind a baby gate while I chased the spider up and down the narrow rim of the window with a folded-up Woolworths receipt.

Success! The spider is out in a nice little pile of empty plant pots, and Penny is back at the window.

I just hope the fly went down without causing any stomach problems!

just a walk in the park

This sign doesn't scare us these days, lol.

Because Penny has to walk on lead everywhere we go, we're discovering places we wouldn't have gone in the past. Today we went to the park around Fairfield Boathouse.

First we walked down the asphalt path to the Pipe Bridge. Penny did a little self-therapy on the way, doing her 'paws up' exercise as she checked out the grass above the path.

And then down the hill to the bridge.

The bridge was so straight, so devoid of interesting smells, that Penny walked steadily forward for the whole length, which is exactly the sort of walking she needs to do to strengthen her leg muscles.

The path at the end had puddles to walk in and grass to munch on.

All in all, a good walk for both human and canine.

And I note, from this old photo, that Penny's not the first dog to enjoy the bridge.

Friday, 26 November 2010

weaving as therapy for Penny after her cruciate operation

Who'd have thought, six months ago, that we'd be thrilled with a thirty-five minute slow walk to the park, with Penny on lead? It just goes to show it's all relative. After ten weeks' rehabilitation from her traditional extracapsular cruciate operation, walking has become the highlight of our day.

I thought we'd add something extra yesterday, so we did some weaving between the poles along the edge of the park, with the idea that as she changed direction she'd be shifting her weight from side to side.

We might have done more, except that the heavens opened and we got half-drowned in the deluge. (Still welcome, though. We know southern Australia is still in drought, even if it's raining at the moment.)

dog sledding in the Australian snow

During my recent holiday at Bright, I picked up a brochure advertising sled dog tours in the high country. I hadn't realised this activity is available in Australia. How wonderful it must be to live in such a scenic place, have the fun of winter snow, and also get to keep a pack of huskies. The company is named Australian Sleddog Tours.

I read elsewhere that there is probably a sled dog event somewhere around the country every weekend in winter (not necessarily on snow), for people who want to participate with their own dogs. Now, I'm fairly sure this is a sport that is just made for the dog that Penny believes she is, as she's never happier than tugging us along behind her. But we'll have to live without it, as her long, low body isn't in synch with her 'inner sleddog'.

Australian Sleddog Tours have a range of stock photographs on their site, and the pictures of dogs are just gorgeous.

And another link I just can't resist adding is this one, about sled dog tours in Lapland. The translation into English will have you smiling, but the content is also irresistibly tempting. I think one day I have to get on a plane, sit squashed beside someone for thirty hours, arrive on the other side of the world exhausted, unable to speak the language...

Hmmm - maybe I'll just head upt to Bright and do a tour in my own state.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

great dog book to read

I've just finished reading Frank Robson's book, Lucky Goes to Sea.

It's the sequel to Lucky for Me, which I loved.

I notice that in this sequel there's a small section that I've read previously in an article Frank Robson published a couple of years ago. He says he and his partner
refuse to be cowed by Australia's official war on dogs: if all the no-go zones were observed, dogs wouldn't be seen anywhere except sulking in backyards, which is crazy.
I wrote about how I felt Penny reacts to being on lead, after I read that article. It's interesting to me to look back at what I wrote, because for the last five months Penny has not walked off-lead at all, and in fact has even been on lead every moment she is in our own garden. She seems not to be bothered by that.

I can't wait until we are given permission for her to walk off-lead. The other day I asked the physio if we could let Penny off-lead in our own garden and she said, yes, certainly...if we could guarantee that Penny wouldn't run or jump. And that's not likely!

Anyway, back to the book...

It's wonderful. I loved every word of it. What I like about it is that the dog is the central point of the book, not like some stories where the dog is just a means of telling the story of the humans. In Lucky Goes to Sea, of course we find out what is happening in the humans' lives, but the love of their dog shines through.

And it's not depressing, as many dog stories are. It's upbeat and optimistic.

He does write about the inevitability of aging, but hopes Lucky will be around for many years to come:
He's our once-in-a-lifetime dog, and even if he lives to be twenty (not that unusual among small breeds) it won't be enough.

I sure know how he feels!

a wet dog

I'm sure that if I were to look back one year at my old posts, I would have been writing about the drought. It was so stressful and depressing.

Well, today, Penny and her two humans set off for a thirty-five minute walk on a lovely cool cloudy day. Yes, she can now walk for thirty-five minutes - we build up five extra minutes each week. At first, we enjoyed the puddles and the dampness, as a contrast to the hot days we've recently had.

And then we got caught in a huge downpour. We sheltered under a tree, but got soaked. We took refuge in a toilet block and still got soaked. We all crowded together into a toilet cubicle with the door shut, standing in rising water and dripping wet all over, and the rain still blew in.

Eventually we decided we'd have to grin and bear it, so we set off at the usual slow, slow, post-operative pace, slogging through the rain.

But you know what?

We still love rain!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

a rescue of a dog swimming out to sea

Penny loves the water. It's great to see her swimming around in the waves when we go to the beach or the river, a pool or a creek.

However, I'm glad she's never headed four kilometres out to sea to play with a sea lion, like this dog did.

I'm glad the story had a happy ending! It amazes me that the rescuers were able to find one little dog in the huge, huge sea.

Dogs in the bush at Bright

I left Penny at home with her other humans over the last few days and went for a holiday at Bright.

However, I didn't forget Penny, and I was on the lookout to see whether it would be a good place for a holiday with a dog.

The first thing I noticed was that dogs don't have to be on lead if you do the Canyon Walk along the Ovens River.

And you don't have to watch out for bike riders!

And the next thing I noticed was that I'd be terrified Penny would fall into the raging river...

I'll have to make sure we visit when the river is not in full flow.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

steady progress by Penny

Penny today passes the ten-week mark since the extracapsular surgery on her cruciate ligament! Now she is allowed to walk daily for thirty minutes!

However, we still need to go at a slow pace. The physiotherapist says she can move to a trot next week, as long as she is putting her weight on all four legs and doesn't show any lameness.

Another big step (here comes a pun!) is that she is now allowed to go up and down a couple of steps. We'll leave our handy ramp in place, but I've cut back the foliage from the two steps that had become overgrown in the last four months and this evening we used the steps.

Our physio has suggested that we never again throw balls for Penny to chase, never let her jump into the car and never let her jump onto furniture. A few months ago I would have been very sad to think of these limitations, but over the last weeks I've seen that Penny can be happy without all the activities we used to do, so I think we can live with these restrictions.

Friday, 12 November 2010

more grass eating by Penny

Yesterday Penny ate grass again, and this time it was a different species.

In this photo you can see where she has torn off leaves.

Today I thought I could see some grass in her bowel motion, so I assume she eats it for a problem in her bowels. Or is it in her stomach?

I think I'll cook up some rice and chicken and put her on a gentle diet for a couple of days. And we'll visit the vet if she's not looking perfectly fine in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

dogs eating grass

Penny eats a little bit of grass most days - which I hope isn't a sign of an unsettled stomach - and sometimes I've thought she was having a nibble of a plant we call 'bamboo', even though it's not. It's arundo donax.

For a while we thought maybe she was licking drops of water off it.

Well, yesterday I think I definitely saw her chew on it. And here's the photo I took:

In the past, I've seen her eat other types of grass, but I'm surprised that she would nibble on such a tough grass.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

at last, a walk in the park after cruciate surgery!

On Sunday, two of her humans led Penny up into the car on her ramp, and set off, not for the vet... not for physiotherapy... but for a walk!

Yes, a walk in a park.

Unfortunately, by the time we walked, ever so slowly, from our carpark spot to the entrance to the park, and read the scary notice, eleven minutes had passed, which is half of our walking time at this stage.

So we turned back. Did Penny care? Not on your life! She loved the whole experience and went into an orgy of sniffing, and weeing to let other dogs know she'd been there. We actually said hello to a couple of calm dogs, which was great, since Penny hasn't really interacted with other dogs since about June.

There was a lovely set of posts that would be just right for doing some weaving, which I'll ask the physiotherapist about today. I think weaving is good somewhere along the line, because it reteaches her to be aware of her rear end.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

true love on a blind date

My brother gave me the address of today's Non Sequitur and I loved it!

The link I've used comes out really small. I'm not sure why. I had to enlarge the screen to see it clearly. Here's another link that is normal-sized, but I suspect it might only be available today.

I've realised that if you click on the second link above, you just have to click on the calendar there for 7th November 2010 and you get that particular joke.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

the little piglet is training with the dogs

I've posted previously about the little pig who was to train at Kintala, the dog club where Penny first trained. I'm so glad that we started off at Kintala, because they train off-lead from the start. So Penny has never associated dog activities with being on a lead, and has had a good recall from early on.

Today there's another article in The Age about the little pig, and it's good to see the training seems to be going well. (However, I notice the pig is on lead.)

And this time there's the cutest photo!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

the beloved green mat returns

If you look at this clip of Penny settling down on her beloved old green mat, you'll understand why it has been hidden in the cupboard for the eight weeks since her surgery on her knee.

It had been brought out twice over the last few weeks and each time Penny terrified me by her enthusiasm for it. To her dismay it was snatched away each time and put on the shelf.

But I reckon, after eight weeks, it's time to let her enjoy it. That leg is certainly getting plenty of Passive Range of Movement exercise.

Here's an article I've just come across, by Greg Harasen, discussing the benefits of postoperative physical therapy.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Penny walked around a whole block today

Well, what a red letter day! Penny and I set off slow-ly heading down the hill to the end of our street and made it around a whole block.

Dr James St Clair says hill work is important for strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings, which help support the knee, so I thought we'd better venture a little further today. Our house is on the top of a hill, with a gentle slope in one direction and a steeper slope in the other, so we took the gentle slope.

Penny can go at a slightly faster pace now and still put her weight on her injured leg, so we actually managed to go around in a circle and come home a different way, instead of our usual glacial pace to and fro in our own street.

One small step for a dog, one giant leap for canine-kind. Well, it was quite a lot of small steps, actually, but you get the idea...

Dr. James St. Clair's home therapy booklet is still free

Recently Dotty asked me how I had obtained the enormously helpful home therapy booklet produced by Dr James St. Clair and I wasn't sure how I got it, so I emailed him and he's replied with the links for the whole set of booklets.

I think this is one of the most amazing things available on the Net, actually, as it's packed with information that even the best vets and surgeons don't seem to give out - detailed timetables and instructions on how to look after your dog immediately after surgery for cruciate injuries, and how to continue the therapy in the following months.

Here's the list of sites for the different surgeries:
tplo surgery

tplo guide

tta guide

cruciate surgery

fho guide