Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Re-reading my own old blog posts

 Peppa raced out the door this afternoon when our neighbour called, and we did our usual heart-searching about our awful standard of dog training. 

And then I began to wonder whether we had the same issues, so many years ago, when we had Penny living with us. Our vet agrees with us in referring to her as 'Saint Penny', haha. In comparison to Peppa she was indeed a saint.

I thought I'd look back at my own old posts from 2007, when Penny was around the age Peppa is now. And I'm finding it not only entertaining, but also actually helpful. 

One thing I'm noticing is that Peppa is more of a digger than Saint Penny was. I might have made an error of judgment in letting her 'help' me when I was weeding around the strawberries. She sure did love digging that big hole! It was a bit of a pity that a few of the strawberry plants ended up strewn around the area. But hey, she had fun, and it wasn't all that hard to replant the ones she removed.

I guess we'll find out soon if I've created a 'digging monster'.

I'm going to do a search on my old blog for references to digging and see what comes up. In the meantime, I'm intending to scroll through fifteen years of Penny's blogs to see which links still work and make a note on each post as to which links are no longer viable.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Lhasa apsos, cones on heads and grooming

 When Penny died, it took me four months to even think of continuing this blog, and for a while I just added the occasional post to keep it alive. And to keep Penny alive on the internet. (She's alive forever in our hearts.)

And then we made the enormous decision to bring another dog into our household. During the worst of the lockdowns here in Victoria in Australia, many people discovered the joy a dog can bring, so we had difficulty getting an older rescue dog. Given my age (not too young is what I'll say), it was a momentous decision to start over with a puppy.

But what joy she has brought us. 

And what a further education in living with a dog. I thought I knew so much about dogs, after fifteen years with one. Now I realise each dog is a new experience. Getting a lhasa apso puppy was a tribute to the fact that we thought Penny had been a lhasa.

Well, no.

Lhasas have special coats. Just because Penny looked like a lhasa does not mean she was one. The groomer warned us. 'Don't think this will be like caring for Penny. She didn't have a thick coat. It was fine and easily managed.'

Yep. She was so right. Peppa's coat is a whole new ballgame.

Recently she had an operation on her right front paw to remove a grass seed buried inside it. 

While the weather was good, sunny and dry, we coped. But once the winter rains set in, we didn't go so well. It eventually turned out that the bandaged foot had healed well, but had got wet under the bandage and needed more time to recover. So, the cone went back on. 


The dreaded cone... 

If you've seen the movie 'Up', you'll know it as the Cone of Shame. From now on, I'm going to call it the Cone of Messy Fur.

That darned cone made such a mess of Peppa's head and neck fur.


Here are the ears, the worst affected: 


In all the kerfuffle over the paw, we've missed out on our scheduled grooming session, and our lovely groomer is going on holidays, so I bit the bullet and decided I'd have to start getting her coat back in order. 

I'm rather pleased with the work I did on her ears. The first one 'only' took thirty minutes.

And then I started on the other ear - the left.

Another thirty minutes - after which it was time for a rest, each of us in her own way. Peppa in her crate, me on the computer.

I figure in another hundred hours we should have the whole coat looking good.

Monday, 4 July 2022

Covid and dogs with grass seeds in their paws

 Recently I succumbed to the Covid wave here in Australia, and spent a couple of weeks in bed. When I started to feel better (and was not required to quarantine), I took Peppa for a walk in a local park. It's winter here, of course, and the grass in the park was mowed and short, but I think that was the day Peppa got a seed in her paw. 

At one stage, after playing vigorously with lots of friendly pups, she lay down and didn't want to walk. I thought she must be exhausted. In retrospect, I ask myself why a healthy young pup would be exhausted by some play. Now, with 20/20 hindsight, I think she might have had a grass seed stuck in her paw. 

I'm resolved to check her paws after every outing to a grassy area.

So, she began to limp. We went to the clinic and the vet on duty checked her and thought perhaps she had broken a toe. An x-ray ensued, and it was sent off to an expert for another opinion. While we waited, we came home with a cone on her head and pain relief medication - Metacam. 

She sat around staring morosely into space, and the pain relief injection she'd been given at the vet seemed to have spaced her out so completely that she couldn't even keep her legs under her and kept swaying and sinking to the floor. Such a stressful day.

I took the cone off, because she wasn't paying any attention to her foot. And I didn't give the Metacam because I thought she wasn't in pain. (I've since been told it was an anti-inflammatory also, so I guess I should have given it.)

Back to the vet clinic a few days later, for an examination by our usual vet. He couldn't see any sign of what the problem was, but suggested an operation to open the swellings (two on top of her toes and one between her pads). It was organised for two days later.

What a relief it was when the operating vet called to say that after a long search she had found a grass seed buried in the flesh of the paw. 

So, home again with pain medication and antibiotics and instructions to keep the bandaged foot dry. Hmm...that meant no walking in our jungle of a back garden, which at this time of year is damp with dew for most of the day.

All was going well until last night when I noticed Peppa had removed the bandage and dressing. So, off at midnight to the Animal Emergency Clinic to get it rebandaged.

But what a surprise awaited us there! It was fortunately a quiet night there, so the usual offering of stressed and suffering animals wasn't as bad as it can be. And who was there?

The first Lhasa apso we have ever met! So exciting. He's a Golden, and looks a lot like Peppa, so we were very pleased to have it confirmed that she is also a Golden (which is what she was sold to us as). And the owner knew the breeder we had got Peppa from and said she's a good breeder, which made us feel even better. 

So a good ending to a stressful evening. Peppa has a nice new bandage on and we'll continue to keep it clean and dry (here's hoping) until we go tomorrow to have it checked. The vet nurse at AEC says it's healing well.

The other owner has also had a grass seed removed from his dog, so we're warned to be ever-alert after walks. He said it's because of their thick fur that they tend to pick up grass seeds.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Monday, 25 April 2022

training a lhasa apso

 When we brought Peppa into our lives, we knew it would be necessary to get her used to grooming. So we did our best, and she's used to being up on the table getting special attention (and extra special treats) every evening. Fortunately, she loves it. We did come up with the theory that she had seen her mum and dad being groomed and thinks it's part of being a grown-up dog. Who knows what goes on in the clever little head?

She's more clever than we thought she would be, and has trained her people pretty well. Here are some of the favorites:

1. Jump appealingly up onto the human's legs and allow said human to stroke your head and tickle you behind the ears, at the same time slo-w-ly, quie-t-ly stealing a handkerchief or  tissue from their pocket. If tissue, tear it to shreds and enable them to get some isometric exercise bending to collect the shreds. If a handkerchief, mouth it dramatically as if you're going to swallow it and might subsequently need to go to the amazingly expensive Animal Emergency clinic. Wait until the human races to get you a super-nice treat and willingly 'give' the hanky to them in exchange for the treat, and get praised for being so co-operative.

2. Whenever you see a baby gate left ajar, race into the forbidden room and ostentiously wait in the doorway for the command to come 'this way' and receive a treat for your obedience.



3. Go out into the backyard and bellow at the top of your voice at any movement in the adjoining apartments and wait for the command to 'come'. Race in and get a treat. 

I suspect she's working on a few more commands for the humans to obey. I'll report when she has us even more under her control. 

Oh, and now that I have a close look at that photo I posted, I think I'd  better get off this computer and do that grooming. Obviously today was a rather exciting and messy playday.


Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Lovely rain

 I was beginning to wonder if we were slipping once again into drought, despite the predictions that La Nina would give us a wet autumn (or some such thing that I don't quite remember). But the lovely rain has come and is staying all week.

Which brings me to the subject of dog-walking. I remember our vet once saying a dog must at least 'leave the property' each day. Well, in a most unusual event, Peppa didn't go for a walk today.

We did walk yesterday, even though it rained all day. We went to LaTrobe University and walked around under the shelter of the raised walkways. I wouldn't normally go there, but it was a holiday - Easter Monday - and I thought it would be okay. 

Having no walk today has proved Peppa is adept at entertaining herself. She has spent the evening jumping all over us and trying to drag our jackets off, racing out the back and barking piercingly at any movement, chewing anything within reach and generally being annoying, to be frank.

I realised it was my fault for not giving her the opportunity to go out today. Lesson learned. However, it did also make me realise that we're not doing enough training to allow her to use her intelligence. So, later this evening, we spent twenty minutes training.

She surprised me. We revisited: weave between my legs/sit (and wait for the release word)/ walk nicely beside me on my left/ find a treat hidden at the other end of the house/ drop/ of all, free shaping where I put an empty cardboard box in the middle of the kitchen and praised any looking at the box or touching it with her nose.

I'll admit I've been underestimating her and forever comparing her with Penny, who was a delight to train. It turns out Peppa, too, wants to use her brains. It's just that she's not really in the business of trying to please the humans. She lives with us, not for us. I guess we should have known this, having read up on Lhasa apso personality traits before she came to live here.

Now I'm going to look back through my old posts to look at the training we routinely did with Penny. A great reason to revisit Penny's lifetime with us. It will be sad but worthwhile.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

helping in the garden

 Autumn is  my favorite time in the garden, and I think Peppa is also enjoying her first autumn in this world. Here she is helping us install the new wormery tower under one of the apple trees. 


Some household members seem to think the new wormery is too colorful, but I love it. Here's hoping the worms enjoy coming and going through the holes under the soil. I was thinking of using it to process pet poo, but after a little research I decided to go with my reservations, as it's in an area where we grow food. I still think the only thing we can do with Peppa's poo at this stage is put it in bags and drop it in the rubbish bin.

One site I looked at suggested putting it in the household toilet and flushing it like human waste. I'm not sure about that either. On the other hand, it would save on plastic bags going to landfill.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

 We've enjoyed the first two episodes of A Dog's World With Tony Armstrong. In the most recent one, called 'Super Senses' , he looked at studies that investigate whether certain breeds have common behavioural characterists. They concluded that this is probably true to a certain extent, but individual experiences and individual personality traits also play a part.

Well, given that we had researched Lhasa Apsos before we bought Peppa, I suppose it should  be no surprise to us that she's so completely different from our beloved Penny, who died in 2019. 

We didn't realise at the time that Penny was a dream dog in terms of her trainability. Peppa is more of a challenge, to say the least. If she's out walking and sees something interesting, she's deaf to any human voices and impervious to the lure of any treat. 

So it might be quite a long time before we'd trust her off lead. On the other hand, it's wonderful that she's quite happy to trot along with us on lead, and as we have a big yard, she gets plenty of chances to zoom around. 

She is an independent learner, though. There's one room she's never allowed into (haha! she says, I'm quicker than lightning, so try stopping me slipping in when you open the baby gate.) She's decided if she creeps in when you aren't aware, she can sit at the  gate and wait to be given the command to emerge, at which point she gets a nice treat.