Wednesday, 28 November 2012

owls, echidna and a seal

Penny had a wonderful time at Best Friend Holiday Retreat last week.

I'm glad she didn't notice this little echidna walking around each day near our cabin.

The echidna always fossicked around in the mulch outside the huge fenced yards that are such a great feature of the park, so she was quite safe from dogs.

Up in the tree next to our cabin there was a family of owls - I think boobook owls. Mum looked after the baby at the nest for the first few days, with Dad sitting nearby, but later in the week the baby was sitting on a separate branch.

On our last day, we saw a seal sitting on the beach and I learned something new. My companions, more experienced at care of dogs, were worried when we saw the seal in the distance, and called back the one dog who was ahead of us, playing in the waves. Fortunately he didn't notice the seal heading past him into the sea, because I've discovered that seals are very dangerous to dogs. My friends told me a seal could potentially kill a dog.

And I wouldn't want any of our dogs to hurt the seal, of course. I've read that it's illegal to go closer than thirty metres to a seal resting on a beach.

Last year we saw a baby koala at the dog resort. I wonder what we'll see next time.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Off to have a whale of a time at the beach

Penny and I are off to Tarra Valley for a while. Given that one of our main activities there is walking on The Ninety Mile Beach, I was interested to read in The Age newspaper recently that Museum victoria is excavating the skeleton of a whale from under the sand at that part of the beach.

Here's hoping they've dug it up by the time we get there, or they might have Penny helping. She loves digging at the beach.

I'll let you know how she went when we get back...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

using honey as part of a veterinary treatment

Dr Jennifer Coates has posted an interesting article about the use of honey in treating wounds. I've heard of this treatment before, but didn't know how honey (or sugar, it seems) hastens healing. To read the whole post, go here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

mystery objects in Ruffey Lake Park

Today, while Penny and I were having a lovely walk in Ruffey Lake Park with Cindy's Walking Group, we came across some mysterious new constructions. The dogs thought they were totally uninteresting, because you can't eat them or chase them, but the humans gathered around to discuss them at length.

One of the group reckoned they might be frisbee goals. I sort of believed him because he said it so convincingly, but when he laughed, I wondered if he was tricking us.

Well, who should come walking past, but two frisbee throwers. One of them gave us a demonstration of the sport.

Penny went to have a closer look at the goal.

That shot missed by a whisker, so the thrower gave us a closer demo of how the goal works. The frisbee hits the loose chains and falls into the basket.

I''d never heard of the sport - discgolf - before, but it sound like a terrific addition to the range of sports available in Melbourne.

I had a look at the Melbourne Discgolf site, and see there's to be an official opening of the Ruffey Lake course on Sunday 18th November 2012 at 10 am near Church Road.

Here's a bit from their site: 
Disc Golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, originating in the US in the 70's and having been played in Australia since the early 80's. Disc golf, best described as Frisbee golf, is a fun, inexpensive, healthy and environmentally friendly game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, male and female, regardless of economic status.

It is played much like traditional golf; only instead of hitting a ball into a hole you throw a Frisbee into an elevated metal basket. As players progress from the “tee” to the “target,” the trees, shrubs and terrain changes provide challenging obstacles. Ultimately, the “putt” is tossed into the basket and the hole is completed. The goal of disc golf is the same as traditional golf: to complete the course in the fewest number of shots. Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it's nailing a long putt, sinking an "ace" (hole in one) or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway.

As in “ball golf,” a typical course will have 9 or 18 holes, but each hole only averages between 50 and 150 metres. The target in disc golf is a metal basket that is mounted vertically about a metre off the ground, attached to a pole that is around 1.6m tall. To better allow discs to come to rest in this basket, chains are suspended from another circular section near the top of the pole and allowed to hang to a point where they are connected to the pole in or near the receiving basket.

There are some photos on this page showing discgolf at Ruffey Lake Park.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

cooking for your dog

I've always been an advocate of a raw diet, but over the eight years of Penny's lifetime I've softened in my approach and now go with the theme of 'everything in moderation'. (Unless a food is actually unhealthy for dogs, of course.)

It can become tricky to source a variety of raw meats, but I think the list by Dr Bruce Syme at the bottom of this old post of mine is a good general resource.

In general, we'll continue with the raw diet, but I've come across a new book that has a convincingly clear explanation of many aspects of diet for pet dogs. It's called Feed Your Best Friend Better.

One of the things I like about the guy who wrote this book is that he's more about what to feed your dog for good health rather than focusing on what not to feed.

Another feature of the book is that it has the clearest explanation I've come across of  how much to feed your dog in terms of activity level...

and a clear diagram of how to estimate whether your dog is at a healthy weight and how many calories a day she requires for her level of activity and age.

Because the recipes and information are for US measurements, I've had to adapt them, but as you can see from these pictures, I'm getting myself organised, lol.

[If you click on the photos of the book, another window will come up with a large photo that makes the pages more readable.]

At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the discussion of what supplements a dog needs if you are preparing meals at home, but it's reassuring to see that the author, Rick Woodford, is not dismissive of commercial foods. If I've understood correctly, he says that commercial foods are supplemented so fully that even adding half commercial food to the dog's diet will result in sufficient nutritional extras.

We add Sasha's Blend (or Glyde) to Penny's bowl each day, for joint health, and  Melrose Omega-3 Liquid, plus Vet's All Natural Complete Mix a few times a week. I think that covers most of the nutritional requirements that she might miss on a home--prepared diet. She gets ZiwiPeak canned food some days, also - the label says it has 'added Vitamins and Minerals'. I love this food, even though it's expensive, because it's mostly meat (or fish) and has a variety of meats and organ meats we couldn't easily access from the butcher (venison and tripe for instance).

In the photo above you'll notice some eggshells. I used to crush up eggshells and include them in Penny's food occasionally, until a friend told me about the time her labrador retriever got a bit of eggshell stuck to the lining of his bowel. So I stopped adding eggshells! But Rick Woodford suggests washing eggshells, drying them and them baking them in the over until brittle, after which they go into a food processor to be ground up to a powder. I'm collecting the shells and I'll try his method when I have enough shells to make it worth the trouble.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

walking the local lanes

Many suburbs in our area have lanes along the rear of the houses, between the main streets. In the past they were for men to come in through the back gates in the dark and take away the containers of 'night soil'.

Some homes still have a back gate to these lanes, even though they aren't used for the same purpose. Many homes don't have access to the lanes these days.

However, the quiet lanes with their lack of cars make great places to walk a dog off-lead, and we often use them in this way, though we have to be careful to keep an eye out for snakes in the warmer months, if the grass has not been mown or if the lane is not paved.

Beautiful plants lean out into the lanes over back fences.

In one lane, someone has drilled holes in their fence so their plants can grow through. The plants, by growing through the hole, face north and so get good sunlight. That particular house doesn't have a gate into the lane, so I suppose the people must come up from the next cross street to get their fruit. They have a passionfruit and a grape.

However, there's a beautiful passionfruit plant in another lane, facing south.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

a gorgeously groomed dog

Who is this lovely canine living with us?

Could it be the same Penny who used to look like this?

What a beautiful job the groomer has done - and it was all scissor-work, too, because I don't think Penny likes the clippers.