Monday, 23 December 2019

Gel cooling mat on a hot day

Two days ago it was 44°C (111.2°F) outside in our yard.

Penny was inside, but that was a dangerously hot day, and we were worried about her health, so human number two came home with a gel cooling mat. We wondered if Penny would use it, as she's averse to finding new bedding on her Coolaroo pet bed. We've never been able to convince her to lie on it without layers of bedding, which is a nuisance, as it would be cool in summer for her with just the mesh.

We put the gel mat on top of the blankets on the bed, and she stayed away from it. Frustrating for us, as the temperature climbed throughout the day, reaching 30°C inside the house. Eventually I had the idea of ripping apart the cover of one of her old doonas and placing the thin layer of cotton on the gel pad.

And, hooray, at last she decided to lie on it.

I was wondering how these things work and whether they are actually effective, but this review seems to be quite positive.

If we're in for more hot days like that one, as the science seems to suggest, we might even try putting the mat in the freezer for a little while before laying it out for Penny. I'll come back to this blog and add any future info as we go.

By the way, the next day the temperature only got up to 20°C (68°F) - around noon - so in the  evening it was more a question of whether Penny was snuggled up into warm enough bedding.

That's Melbourne weather for you!

BTW, we do have cooling in the house,  but it struggled to deal with such a hot day.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Old dogs and new behaviours

Wow! Nearly two months since I posted about Penny and her adventures.

Well, at her age - and mine - just getting out of the house and walking is an adventure.

We're finding that although twenty minutes' stroll is enough for her, it's not sufficient to maintain our own health, so today we humans took a long, brisk walk separately, after taking Penny to Heide Museum of Modern Art in the morning for an amble around the outside artworks.

Here she is posing in the strangely cool evening. How weird that parts of Australia are burning up in bushfires and other areas are so cold that some are even predicting there could be snow on the mountains at Christmas!

As you'll see in this photo, she's quite grey around the muzzle now. I'm not sure when I noticed that - perhaps it was after her latest clipping. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

dog and tree

What a beautiful sight...

A gorgeous dog and a wonderful tree  trunk.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

walking in beautiful surroundings

Penny and I are fortunate in the variety of places we can walk together. Here's a recent location:

It's easy to take these wonderful places for granted, but I was reminded recently that such bushy surroundings occur only because of the work put in by local government,  indigenous people and groups of volunteers.

I thought this sign at the Willsmere billabong in Kew had an excellent explanation of why we dog-walkers need to respect the other users of our spaces, both human and non-human.

These plantings are newer than the one pictured at the top, but in time they will be just as lovely:


Monday, 22 July 2019

snoozing privately

In a busy household it can be difficult to get a few moments' private rest.

But Penny seems to have solved the problem. In an unused doorway that looks out to the street we keep one of Penny's many beds. This one is an elevated one and her preferred spot for sleeping or keeping an eye out for passers-by.

As I walked past, this evening, I did a double-take.

What? A closer inspection showed a canine outline inside the curtain.

Here's hoping she manages to get off the bed without tripping herself on the curtain. (You have probably guessed that we think Penny is more important than clean curtains.)

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

physiotherapy for an old dog

Penny seems to have a weakness in her right  rear leg, so we're doing 'reps'. Or maybe we should call them 'sets'. Who'd have thought it would be so complicated being an old dog?

Anyway, Penny doesn't care what we call them. She just wants to eat the food she's offered. (Usually little bits of raw carrot.)

She puts her front paws up on a little stool.

I tap her left rear leg and she lifts it and I support it gently, not taking her weight, but just reminding her to keep it in the air.

Seeing she's totally focused on gobbling the food, she seems to hardly notice she has her weight on her weak leg. 

I think it might be working, because she jumped from the footpath into the back seat of the car recently, the first time in months we haven't lifted her in.

I wish she didn't lick her paws, though. You can see how stained they are. We're working on that problem too.

Friday, 3 May 2019

senior dogs and mental stimulation

Wow! I see I haven't posted since February. And I know why.. It has been so hot that Penny has been less willing to go for a walk.

She has spent most of the time each day snoozing, and we had put that down to her age. Our vet agrees that perhaps she doesn't deal so well with hot weather these days, so we have let her set the pace on walks and if she didn't want to go we'd let her lie. However, we do manage a walk of some sort most days.

Lately, though, it has become cooler, and we're wondering if her sleepiness might be as much due to boredom as to her senior status. So, we're trying to play a few games each evening, and use some of the lovely Nina Ottosson games when feeding her. ( A bit tricky, given that these days we only feed raw meat, with some additions of vegetables and vitamins.)

Also, today I took her for a swim in the warm water of the indoor pool at Kepala.

Afterwards, I asked in the office whether it would be okay for us to pop into the agility area to see how Penny would cope with it. As soon as we stepped through the gate, she headed for the tyre and the tunnel!

Before I even had time to give the 'begin' signal, she was through. I hurried to catch up so she wouldn't jump over the higher items (because of her arthritis.)

She managed the little seesaw like a pro.

And what was that in the distance? A set of weave poles...

Yes, she sort of still remembers how to do them. Hooray! So, next time, after a warm swim to get her muscles loosened, I think we might try this again.

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.