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.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Bowen therapy and maremmas guarding hens

Penny and I visited the Yarra Valley today. We spent the morning at Bow Rei Me having Bowen therapy, first Penny and then me. It was, as usual, wonderful. Penny had lovely 'soft eyes', always a sign that she's relaxed and loving it.

Then we drove up to the Upper Yarra Valley, where I bought a supply of free range eggs from Little Yarra Free Range Eggs, some for Penny, but most for the humans in our family!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of  one of the maremmas guarding the flocks. Of course, he (or she) bounded across to tell me to leave immediately, barking fiercely, but the human who was attending to the chooks called the dog away, which is why, in this photo, you see the guardian angel of the chooks looking back towards the invisible human.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Penny's walk in the park

It's been nearly two months since I blogged. I guess both Penny and I are slowing down these days.

We still manage a walk every day. Today I set off for a stroll along a quiet back road, but Penny didn't want to keep going, so I lifted her back in the car and we set off for a nearby park, where she condescended to walk a little way with me.

Sometimes we get a brisk 50-minute walk in, but other times Penny just doesn't want to go. We  try to take notice of her mood, because in human terms she's a very old lady now, and we know she suffers some discomfort from arthritic knees. I suspect that sometimes she just isn't in the mood and it's not about pain at all. Who knows?

Today she let me know at this junction of paths that she thought we should head back to the car. Her body language is pretty obvious, and it usually includes a meaningful glance in the direction she wants us to take. Her bad luck, though, that the car wasn't down that path.

Seeing standing still like a statue wasn't working she tried an ostentatious yawn. It still didn't work on me, because I knew we still had a distance to go in order to get back to the car.

There was still a bit of sniffing to do, but eventually we got back to the car.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

new places to explore

I've said it before... When you have a dog you find interesting places to explore.

Today we were looking around Alphington while we waited for Penny's appointment at the groomer.

We found Alphington Park, where there seem to be lots of rules.

Even if you must stay on lead, there are good smells to think about.

And since it was near a local wetlands, we were conscientious about staying on lead the whole time.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

mental stimulation for an old dog

A  friend sent me a newspaper cutting about canine freestyle, and it reminded me of the fun Penny and I used to have when we were both younger.

I  sent my friend an old clip of us at a canine freestyle club, in the days when that was a new sport for Australia. OMG. It was NINE years ago! Now I know Penny and I are old...

Anyway, it got me thinking about the fact that I worry that life is boring for Penny now, because her creaky limbs probably aren't up to twisting and turning. We might have a go  at some modified canine freestyle, but our floors are slippery and I'd have to set up carpets.

In the meantime, an internet search for something to do has turned up this fun sport, canine nose work. This clip shows the progression of some simple home training and we're  going to try it soon.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Meeting Penny's brother

Once again we met Penny's littermate at Rosanna Parklands yesterday. It was great to see he's well and happy.

Well, we were interested. Penny wasn't.

Oh, alright, I'll say a quick hello.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

hot days in autumn

It has been hot the last few days, so we're walking early in the morning. The ground at Rosanna Parklands is dry and dusty. You can see in this photo that only the run-off from the doggy drinking bowl enables some grass to grow in one especially dry patch of soil.

Penny is a fussy drinker. Here we are trying to convince her she needs water. Look, we've emptied out the dirty old water and it's nice and fresh now.

No thanks. I don't do public drinking bowls.

Oh okay, if you insist. I'll drink from the running tap.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

dogs make us take note of interesting things

Penny and I had a look at the new bicycle path that is soon to open between Kew and Ivanhoe. We've seen both ends of it now, from Willsmere in Kew, to Ivanhoe.

In writing this blog post, I've come across the startling fact that people in Alphington won't be a able to get onto the path. Amazing. How could so much money - 18 million dollars -  be spent on the path and then not allow one whole suburb to access  it?

However, I do see that there is a suggestion of an entry in the future from Alphington.

At any rate, Penny and I are fortunate to be coming in  from either the Kew end or the Ivanhoe end.

When we set off, from Ivanhoe, we passed under a tree that we've never taken any notice of before.

But what were these things on the ground that seemed to look like tennis balls? Penny, of course, wasn't fooled, because they sure didn't smell like tennis balls. 

But I had to have a second look. 

OMG! Osage orange. I once spent ages trying to source one of these trees, because I was keeping silkworms in my classroom and the students needed lots of leaves. We were running out of mulberry leaves and I knew osage orange could be used as well. And there was this tree, right near the school!

Oh, well...

Penny was more interested in meeting other park-goers. 

We headed off along the new path, but Penny wasn't too keen to walk. We're never quite sure whether this happens because of her arthritis, or because it's nearly dinner-time. 

When we turned for home, she led the way by a long shot. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

too hot!

It's just too hot to do anything today.

Penny had a couple of ice blocks made of juiced vegetables earlier. She has plenty of water available. Thank goodness the power hasn't gone off, so we have the evaporative cooling on. And a fan.

She had a walk early this morning, followed by a bath in cool water.

Penny has us looking after her, but the poor creatures that share our world are suffering today. The Little Ravens were sitting near the doggy bowl of water, with their beaks open. I put a hose dripping into another container, but they didn't go near it. I think perhaps it wasn't in the open enough, so they couldn't tell whether predators were nearby. (Not that there were likely to be many predators out in 40 degree heat.)

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Penny's bad day

Poor Penny. After her lovely day on Thursday cornering a rat and eating her bone, yesterday she snaffled a piece of plastic from under some meat and had to go to the vet so they could induce her to vomit it up. She's okay now, but was pretty unhappy when she came home.

We do have some washing soda crystals on hand to provoke vomiting in a case of poisoning, but on reading this veterinary advice, I'm sure glad our own vet was open and could do it for us.

For one thing, our vet had to administer a second medication to stop her continuing to vomit, and that would have been impossible for us to do at home.

The above link has some useful advice. For one thing, it's necessary in a case of poisoning to assess whether you might do more harm than good to induce vomiting if the poisonous substance is corrosive.

Secondly, there's some good advice about using dishwashing liquid to wash off a substance on her skin. We had to do that some years ago when she had a bad reaction to Advantix, a topical tick medication.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Hunting a rat and eating a bone

Penny was outside and the humans were inside, and there came a peremptory bark. Just one. The sort of bark that says, 'Come here. Please...'

So out I went. Her tail was lashing from side to side, so I knew she had cornered some unfortunate little creature. Okay, I don't like the rats eating our produce, but neither am I particularly fond of seeing Penny kill another creature. So two humans turned on its side the planter where the rat was hiding and it shot off into the garden.

Penny didn't see it go, so she checked and rechecked for a while.

Hmm, maybe it had gone into the other planter. Nope, not there.

Where could that darned thing be?

Oh, I'll just dig up that old bone I buried a couple of days ago and enjoy that. It doesn't matter that it's covered in dirt and gravel, I'm sure I've earned such a tasty reward.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Raw diet for dogs

All the best for 2018 to all my readers and blogging pals!

I haven't written anything for a while, but Penny has been getting on with life much in her usual way, albeit more slowly now that she is a senior citizen.

We've moved Penny onto a raw diet, after much consideration, and so far she seems well. Her coat is glossy and she is interested in life.

We're giving a limited range of muscle meats. We started with kangaroo, which has the reputation of being the idea meat for dogs, but I'm concerned that my neighbour told me this industry is not regulated well and the babies are often left to die after hunters kill the kangaroos. I'll have to research this more. It's hard to find meat that is ethically sourced.

We had stopped with the kangaroo anyway, because of the dark, runny poos that Penny was doing. Lots of sites on the internet say that this can be expected with a change to kangaroo, but it was still scary, as I couldn't distinguish definitely that Penny was not bleeding somewhere in the upper digestive system.

We moved to veal (yes, another ethically  problematic meat!) and beef, which has led to better bowel motions. We're lucky that a shop has opened in our neighbourhood, providing a huge selection of meats, some with ground bone, some with organ meat, and some with shredded vegetables.

We also give Digestavite, Vitamin C, turmeric, antibiobotanical, home-juiced vegetables and omega oil. We added goat kefir for a few weeks, but I think that doesn't suit her digestive system, so we've stopped that one. For most of her life we've been giving her Glyde for her joints.

Today we've started her on rabbit as a muscle meat, and the naturopath who runs the pet supply shop says this is a very good meat for Penny, because it contains organ meat and bone.

So far so good. The aim is to have a couple of meals a week that consist of a meaty bone, but she tends to simply bury any bone we give her. She then goes back for it a few days later, when it smells delightful to her - but disgusting to us. So bone-eating is still a work-in-progress.