Wednesday, 22 February 2012

a dog's ordinary day

Living with Penny can make an ordinary day feel special. Today, for instance, we went to one of our usual places, Warringal Park, so Penny could have a swim. Every person I spoke to commented on what a wonderful day it was and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to walk with my dog in this lovely place.

We walked in the shade of the trees, thankful for the foresight of those who planned and planted this verdant space. (Verdant even in summer, which is rather amazing. But we've had some rain this summer.)

But what was this? A fisherman at the dog swimming spot?

If I were a really nice person, I would have turned away and left him in peace. Alas, I'm not generous enough to do that on a warm summer's day. I gave Penny the 'wait' command and went forward to ask if we could swim, and before he and I could come to an agreement, Penny pre-empted the discussion by disobeying me and racing into the water. What dog could have resisted?

Fortunately, he was polite enough to accept Penny's presence and we moved a little away from him in the hope the fish might swim towards him rather than away. (You can probably tell I'm not a fisherman.)

After a short swim we set off around the park and I was surprised to see a cricket match. In the middle of the week! As they say, you learn something new every day and I've learned that people play this sort of organised sport during the working day.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Penny is a good ratter

This evening Penny killed another rat. But this time she took a minute to kill it, rather than a couple of seconds, as she did last time.

This rat was in the same place as the last one she killed, under our make-shift water barrel. I had been startled by a rat leaping from a tree to the ground on the other side of the front garden, and decided to let Penny come out and scare it thoroughly. (I'll freely admit I'd rather scare them away than kill them, but I do realise we can't have rats breeding indiscriminately in our garden.)

A tail wave, slow, from side to side, is the sign that she's hunting.

She scared the rat out of its hiding place, and I would have sworn it ran down the side, past a locked gate, to the backyard, but when we headed for the front door to go inside, Penny darted over to our water barrel (a 240 litre wheelie bin). The slow tail wag began once more, and scrabbling at the bottom of the bin - even whining.

What to do? I want to get rid of the rats and I don't want to poison them. But I don't want Penny getting bitten by a rat, and I'm not sure it's good for her to kill.

Well, I decided to empty the water out of the bin and at least see what was under there.

While I was starting the submersible pump and spraying water on our parched front garden, Penny sat there staring, circling, waiting. And trying to dig under the bricks supporting the bin.

Finally, when the water was low, I heaved the bin forward, Penny leaned in and the screaming began. It was so sad. I know we can't have rats running around. (On the other hand, why not, if they stay out there in the garden?) The rat took about a minutes to die, I would say, and it seemed like a lifetime. (Well, for the rat I guess it was.)

I let her bat it around for a minute or two, and sniff it, but when she took it in her mouth, that was too much for me and I told her to 'leave it' and her other human took her inside to have a few treats. Then it was my turn to screw up my courage and smash the rat with the shovel to make sure it was definitely dead, no longer suffering.

One more chance for Penny to come out and sniff it, and see it deposited in the bin, and she went inside again, so we could persuade her to drink and so wash her disgusting-looking face. Ughh!

I guess I'm still feeling conflicted about it all. But at least there's one less rat in our garden stealing our fruit and eating our vegetables.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

dogs learn to swim the natural way

Hot days mean early walks, in a Melbourne summer. So we were out at Warringal Park by 8 am today. (That's the crack of dawn for us!) But it was already too hot - we stick to the rule that if it's over 26 celcius, it's unhealthy for Penny to walk. So, not too reluctantly, we abandoned exercise and headed down to the bend in the Yarra that has a nice little beach now that the water level is so low (probably because of the works down at the fish weir at Dights Falls).

It was peaceful.

And then two gorgeous young labs arrived with their humans. They were having great fun just along from us, wading into the river and fetching sticks.

Was it naughty of us to be having a little smile about the fact that they wouldn't go past their knees? Labrador retrievers, we said to ourselves - dogs who were bred to go out on the boats and help the humans with the fishing?

When we got talking to the humans, we discovered it was the dogs' second ever time near water, so that cast a different light on it. They were doing very well for their second visit.

And then they spotted Penny swimming for her lovely Whirl Wheel. (I haven't met a dog who didn't love this toy.)

And so they learned to swim!

First they walked deeper.

And then they bravely took the plunge. Their first swim!

Penny wasn't too impressed, because they were determined to get the toy, there were two of them, and their swimming technique involved lots of splashing!

Once Penny got back to shore, it was time for the humans to intervene to restore peace, and the newly-qualified swimmers headed for home, no doubt proud of themselves for this great step in their lives.

And Penny continued her swim.

Eirian's red cross husky trek across the Arctic

I just visited a new blog, following across from a comment Eirian put on my last post.

Her blog is very interesting! She's going to trek across the Arctic in April with a pack of huskies, to raise money for the Red Cross.

I'll be putting her on my Google Reader list so I can follow her progress. So far she's:
kept up her training to get fit enough;
walked with a pack of dogs;
done a Wolf Walk.

She also has some super cute pics of her puppy.

Friday, 3 February 2012

the value of keeping a doggy diary

Penny's been eating grass. She has always used grass to settle her stomach, or to settle her gut, and it usually comes out the other end, all neatly folded and looking like it has passed through her digestive system untouched.

I've posted about it previously.

But this time she's had us worried, so much so that we went to the vet. She's been rushing outside not long after her meals, tearing at the grass like a sheep, and it's been coming through inside her faeces, so that at first we didn't realise it was there. (Now you know that we truly love her - who else would be pulling poo to pieces to see what's in it?) And then she vomited up a heap of grass.

So, to the vet...

He checked her thoroughly, asked if she's been well otherwise. Yes, she has. He listened to her gut for long enough that I started to get worried, and said it was noisier than usual. And I learned a new word when I read his notes - ascultation.

I mentioned to the vet that the first time we saw her rush outside, she had just been out in the garden chewing a three-day-old lamb shank she'd previously buried, and he said some dogs react badly to lamb. He then made sure her worming is up to date and suggested we monitor her for another couple of weeks, at the same time increasing the amount of roughage she gets.

I didn't think much of it until I came home and looked at the diary we keep:
Tuesday 24th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb, snacked on dug-up lamb shank;
Wednesday 25th January: breakfast - lamb and tripe canned food, dinner - not recorded;
Thursday 26th January: breakfast - lamb,dinner - Royal Canin Hypoallergenic dry food (rarely fed but we had some left over);
Friday 27th January: breakfast - beef, dinner - lamb;
Saturday 28th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb;
Sunday 29th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - lamb kidneys;
Monday 30th January: breakfast - lamb, dinner - canned lamb and tripe;
Tuesday 1st February: breakfast - lamb kidneys, dinner beef and canned lamb and tripe.

I said to a friend that we might not have twigged about how much lamb we were feeding if we didn't keep a diary, and she said, "What about plain old memory?"

Well, I must admit we feed such a variety usually that I wouldn't be able to recall exactly what Penny's had over the last week. By the way, there have been other ingredients to her meals, such as raw or cooked vegetables, Vets All Natural Complete Mix, Glyde, Melrose Omega-3 oil and healthy treats.

But lamb has accidentally dominated. And why?
Because it was on special in the supermarket and I love a bargain.
Because I happened to buy lamb as the canned food we sometimes feed (high quality ZiwiPeak, by the way).
Because I thought it would be good to mix in some organ meat and didn't stop to think that it was also lamb.

Once we became aware of this, we stopped the lamb, and she has only chewed on a little bit of grass once, that we know of. She's having more roughage than usual, as per the vet's suggestion (cold cooked potato and pumpkin, which she loves), and some rice and cooked chicken for the next couple of days.

Now the question is, should we let her have lamb in future?

My thought is that we overfed one food type, not that lamb per se is the problem. But we'll wait for a few weeks before reintroducing it.

However, I did come across this interesting snippet at K9Web in looking for information for this post:
Dogs are not allergic to a dog food per se, rather they react to one or more of the ingredients in the food. Some of the most common culprits are beef, pork, chicken, milk, whey, eggs, fish, corn, soy, wheat and preservatives. Many animals are now developing allergies to lamb as well. This was once thought to be very hypo-allergenic, but the more it is used, the more sensitivities are springing up.
It's been a lesson for us.

And I'm glad we keep a diary, even though our friends think we're weirdly obsessive.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Penny's Mango Minster entry for 2012

Recently we made a last-minute decision to throw our hats into the ring for Mango's competition. Penny was adamant that she wanted to go into the Adventure Animals category, so I said I'd tag along and see what she could come up with. To my astonishment, she went on an interstellar adventure!

Here it is:

I reckon she should win, just on the basis of having travelled the furthest to show what she can do.

I know the photography and the editing of the video clip is as amateurish as usual (but remember, 'amateur' means 'lover').

However, what about the music? Isn't it a winner? I was bemoaning my lack of film skills and wishing I could add music, when a wonderful man offered not only to organise a music clip for me, but to actually compose it.

Stuart - thank-you!

If you like the music, why don't you go over to The Cardells on Soundcloud and listen to more?

goodbye, Maggie

As I was checking out the rules for Mango's competition the other night, I discovered the sad news that Maggie, of Maggie and Mitch, fame, has died.

What a beautiful creature she was, and how she enriched her humans' life, and also the lives of everyone who read about her adventures.

I felt so upset at their loss that I couldn't get myself organised to enter Mango's competition, but I do know that Maggie and her humans would want us all to get on with having fun with our dogs, so I've uploaded my video clip and I'll do a post about it, but I did want to have one separate entry here to acknowledge Maggie's life and her passing.

She will be missed!