Mid-winter update

You may have heard that Boston has gotten a little snow this year.

Nathan, with the five feet of snow accumulation in our front yard.
Nathan, with the five feet of snow accumulation in our front yard.

The dogs are chronically under-exercised — although they’ve made some cool trails in the backyard, it’s been so cold that the Ridgebacks can’t safely spend any extended amount of time outdoors.  Clover, poor girl, has been getting snow packed between her toes and limping if she stays outside for too long.  I’m very grateful now our fence installer went with six foot fencing, because I’ve watched Clover stretch up with her front paws on the fence to measure whether or not she thought she’d be able to jump over it.

I swear there's a gazebo under all that snow.  Somewhere.
I swear there’s a gazebo under all that snow. Somewhere.

At the beginning of February, we bought an electric blanket for the dogs, and put it on the sofa.  Jackson and Loki have spent the past month like this:

Jackson and Loki


And that brings us to today, the first “warm” day we’ve had in several weeks — and warm has me thinking about just where all that melted snow is going to go.

Last winter we had a horrible time with water intrusion in the basement, but this winter it’s been dryer than Pharaoh’s tomb down there.  Where the sump pump was running more or less constantly last winter, this winter the sump itself has been nearly dry, and the water level hasn’t even approached being high enough to trigger the pump to run.  I’m not foolish enough to think that can’t change with the spring thaw, however.

Nate and I spent some time in the basement today, re-stacking what few things we store down there.  We’ve got a mix of Rubbermaid storage containers and cardboard boxes, so we got all the cardboard boxes up off the floor.  We also tested the de-humidifier and the sump pump to make sure they’re still in working order, just in case things do get damp down there again.

We also spent time this morning processing some raw dog food.  I’ve been swapping back and forth with giving the dogs whole raw meaty bones vs ground raw meaty bones since Jackson had his carnassial removed.  He has no issues with whole RMBs at all — but surprisingly, Loki does.  Loki would prefer all his food ground, thank-you very much.  He will eat whole RMBs, but not with the same gusto that he eats ground food.  So … we’ve made good use of the grinder I bought from Caryl-Rose after Jackson’s surgery.  This morning, with Nathan’s help, we managed to grind and pack up 50 pounds of pork heart and 40 pounds of chicken backs.  I’ve got another 35 pounds of turkey hearts thawing in the sink right now.  I have plans to buy a larger, more capable grinder later this year — my Facebook friend Nancy says hers can do a 40 pound case of chicken leg quarters in 10 minutes.

We’ve more or less standardized on putting all the ground food in the largest size of reusable food tub available from our local grocery stores.  It holds 4 pounds of food and stacks pretty efficiently in the freezer, and in our fridge on the “dog food shelf.”  I took an inventory since I just put in my March orders from the new beef supplier and from Blue Ridge Beef, but you’ll see that in the normal monthly raw food order post.



Pike continues to grow like a weed.  After his start at the Hartford shows, I’m really looking forward to Spring Fling in Springfield.  He’ll just be eligible for the 6-month puppy class, and Loki will be showing in Open for the first time.

Speaking of the Loki litter — Loki’s brother Dante finished his championship this weekend with a 4 point major in Suffern!  Super happy for Marsa, and hoping Raylan and Loki will be hard on Dante’s heels.

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What’s in YOUR Food? | The Science Dog

The scientists’ concern was that owners were unwittingly using the LIDs as an alternative to the more expensive and supposedly better controlled veterinary-prescribed foods. The expectation was that the therapeutic foods would contain only what their labels claimed, while the retail LIDs would be contaminated with other ingredients. What they found however, was that both retail foods and veterinary-prescribed foods have the potential to be mislabeled. (Oops).

via What’s in YOUR Food? | The Science Dog.

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A Frustrated Breeder Asks, Why Didnt You Call?

Years ago my daughter, Laurie Laventhall, rescued an old Pharaoh Hound bitch from a shelter some distance away from us. The hound had been turned in by an elderly couple who gave no information about her. With help from PHCA Rescue, we were able restore Goldie’s health, but placing an elderly dog is not easy, and we ended up keeping her as one of our own. Goldie lived out her life with us. What bothers me is, why didn’t her owners call her breeder?

via A Frustrated Breeder Asks, Why Didnt You Call? – American Kennel Club.

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Show Report: Springfield, MA


Loki: Saturday | Sunday
Pike: Saturday | Sunday

This weekend, the First Company Governor’s Food Guard Athletic Association’s annual dog shows occurred in Springfield, MA. Previously, these shows were in Hartford. Last year, Hartford was Loki’s first show, so it seemed sensible to let these shows be Pike’s first as well. (Spoiler alert: Pike did better than Loki on his first time out!)

We had plans to show both Pike and Loki both days this weekend, but the judging schedule for Saturday had Loki in the ring at 8:30 am, and Pike in at 1:00 pm.  The big gap between ring times meant that Jackson and Clover would have to come to the show with us, because otherwise they’d be home alone for far longer than I am comfortable with asking them to go without potty breaks.  When it came time to load the crates into the Dog Bus on Friday afternoon, I made the executive decision to pull Pike from Saturday’s competition, so we could just show and go with Loki, and thus leave Jackson and Clover at home.  The weather Friday was just frigidly cold and I simply couldn’t bear the thought of staying out in the cold long enough to rearrange the crates in the van, then having to set up crates for a single day of showing.

Saturday’s show was a major for class dogs in Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  Loki won his class, but Winners Dog and Best of Winners was awarded to Aron, who belongs to Marsa, and Reserve Winners Dog went to Loki’s litter brother Raylan.  So, as Marsa said while the boys were in the ring, “We’re keeping it in the family!”  Nathan stayed with Pike while I showed Loki, and he reported that Pike was perfectly content in his crate.  No fussing, no whining, just happy to watch everything going on.  Big win for us on that front!  We did let him walk around and socialize a bit, and Tiny Dog took everything in stride.  Yay Pike!

Sunday, Pike and Loki had ring times that were stacked on top of each other, so we decided Nathan would handle Loki, and I would take Pike.  Pike’s entry was in a special 4 – 6 month non-competitive puppy class (no points) that is intended to help introduce puppies to the show ring, and novice owners too.  Last year when we did this class with Loki, he was the only entry in Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but this year Pike didn’t get off so lucky: there were three other Ridgeback puppies in the ring with us!  I was pretty nervous about how Pike would perform, because I have been the laziest slacker trainer with Pike.  We haven’t gotten him to a single handling class, and the only introduction he’s had to stacking has been extremely lackadaisical practice in my living room, not even on a show lead.  Oh, and of course we were first in line!

So, all that said, I am extremely proud beyond words to report that my little liver-nose boy did his job with complete aplomb.  He stacked as well as I would expect a four-month old puppy to do, he gaited perfectly without trying to break into a gallop or chew on the lead, and he walked out of the ring on Sunday with the ribbon for Puppy Best of Breed and a rosette for a Puppy Hound Group 1! Tiny Dog did it!

Over in Loki’s ring, Nathan was busy winning as well!  Loki won his class, won Winner’s Dog, and then took Best of Winners to add another point toward his championship — which would be Nathan’s first point in the the show ring.  However, it took me a little while to find out just how well Nathan had done with Loki.

As I was standing outside Pike’s ring waiting to go back in for Best Puppy In Show, I kept craning my neck to see how Nathan was doing in his ring.  Nathan  saw me looking and held up the ribbon that Loki won for Winner’s Dog, which is a purple ribbon.  However, with the lighting and the distance between us, to me the ribbon looked red — which is a second place ribbon.  I thought he was showing me that Loki was second place in his class, and I gave him a thumbs up to say, “Yes, I got it!”  So, with me thinking he had only won second place in Loki’s class, I was confused by why Nathan and Loki kept standing outside the ring.  At first I thought he was waiting to be judged for Reserve Winners Dog, but then I saw there were bitches in the ring.

So I’m standing there wondering just what the hell is going on, and thinking to myself, “What the !@#$ is Nathan doing?  You’re done! Go put the dog back in his crate!” and Nathan was ACTUALLY standing waiting to go back in the Best of Breed class so Loki could compete for Best of Winners.  And I keep looking, and grumbling to myself, and looking — because, remember, I think Loki was only second place in his class.

Finally, Pike and I got to go back into Pike’s ring to compete for Best Puppy in Show (which was awarded to a Cavalier King Charles), and then I took Pike outside to have a quick potty break.  We came back in, I put Pike in his crate, and boy was I confused when Nathan handed me a whole fistful of ribbons!  I looked down at the ribbons, back up and Nathan, and then threw myself at him in a giant hug when I realized he had actually gotten Best of Winners!  Nathan and Loki did it, too!

So, that was our weekend, which was pretty awesome.  How did yours go?

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Happy birthday, Jackson!


Happy fourth birthday to our big man Jackson!  When we first opened a conversation with Marsa about what we were looking for in a Rhodesian Ridgeback, I asked for a calm, confident puppy that would be have a solid temperamental base that I could build on and she gave me that in spades.  Jackson has gone everywhere and done everything I’ve ever asked him to do.

Happy birthday to all the dogs from the Toren x Zora litter!

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Monthly Raw Food Order – February 2015

This post is going up early, but it’s because I’ve got a recommendation on a new beef supplier, and he just put out a call for orders today, for a January 30 delivery.  If I like his product, he’ll take over as my primary beef supplier, although I’ll still pick up a case of Blue Ridge Beef Natural Mix from time to time, because the Natural Mix has green tripe.  The new guy has a beef mix that is ground beef, heart, and liver, making it very similar TQDF and BRB analogues, but without green tripe.  Additionally, Amy’s found a source for 60 pound cases of beef heart at a price that’s well under what I would be paying through our normal supplier.

From today to the March Top Quality Dog Food distribution is 52 days.  In that time, I will need 258 pounds of raw meaty bones, 148 pounds of muscle meat, 25 pounds of liver, 13 pounds of kidney, and 13 pounds of beef lung.  TQDF has a distribution on February 15, which is when I will pick up organs and some variety meats to last me through March.

This write up will only include the raw meaty bones I actually purchase in February for cost calculations — January’s raw meaty bones were covered in the January order post, and March will be covered, well, in March.

The inventory:

1 sheep rib cage (still haven’t decided if I will use it)
1 whole turkey (about 9 of ground raw meaty bones when processed)
6 pounds of chicken backs
30 pounds of Blue Ridge Beef
16 pounds of beef heart
8 pounds of turkey heart
10 pounds of pork heart
13 pounds of beef liver
6 pounds of pork kidney
8 pounds of beef lung

I will need to order 84 pounds of muscle meat, 12 pounds of liver, 7 pounds of kidney, and 5 pounds of lung to make it to the March 14 TQDF distribution, plus approximately 40 pounds of raw meaty bones every week until then (I go to Mayflower on Tuesdays).

Raw Food Math Feb 2015
Click the image to embiggen.

The food order:

30 pounds of duck necks (1 case from Mayflower Poultry)
160 pounds of chicken backs (4 cases from Mayflower Poultry)
6 pounds of TQDF beef lung
10 pounds of TQDF beef liver
10 pounds of TQDF beef kidney
10 pounds of TQDF pork hearts
10 pounds of TQDF turkey hearts
30 pounds of beef mix
60 pounds of beef heart


This gives me five protein sources:  duck, chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.  The 60 pound case of beef heart will be split between February and March.  The duck necks provide some RMB variety from chicken backs, and in March I’ll pick up a case of meaty pork neck bones to do the same.

The January CSA pickup didn’t have any organs available, so I’m hoping to pick some up at the February pickup; they usually have lamb organs available.  Last spring I got a huge box of lamb hearts, livers, and kidneys from them and if I can score it again this year, that will be fantastic.

The cost breakdown:

30 pounds of duck necks: $37.50
160 pounds of chicken backs: $88
6 pounds of beef lung: $10.50
10 pounds of beef liver: $16.50
10 pounds of beef kidney: $16
10 pounds of pork hearts: $19.95
10 pounds of turkey hearts: $18.50
30 pounds of beef mix: $37.50
60 pounds of beef heart: $70

Total: $315

Now that I have inventory on hand, the savings are starting to roll up: $315 for February vs $342 in January. It’s not a huge amount, but it will improve as the year goes on.  $315 spread over 52 days is about $6.05/day (compare to January’s $10.37/day).  It’s around $1.72/day each for Jackson, Pike, and Loki, and $0.86/day for Clover (January’s figures were $3/day for each Ridgeback and $1.50/day for Clover).  My cost per pound is still hovering just a smidge over a dollar per pound, at $1.03.

Almost four years ago, when I told Nathan I wanted to take Jackson to a full raw diet, he asked that I keep the cost per day to under $3.00.  I’m doing pretty darn good!

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The Modern-Day Fairy Tale: The Myth of Reach and Drive

The properly angulated dog will swing freely from the shoulder blade and the hip with long, low, easy strides and no wasted effort, while the vertical dog will stiffly “pop” from the elbow and the hip and lift the legs far too high off the ground on both ends, creating a gait that causes the dog a great deal of increased effort and gives it little to no endurance. The higher the legs go up in the air, the farther they have to come back down to contact the ground. And feet only work when they are on the ground; they have no use when they are up in the air.

via The Modern-Day Fairy Tale: The Myth of Reach and Drive.

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Dogs hired as ball boys for a pro tennis match. What could possibly go wrong?

No wait, hear us out! It’s been done before: at a recent exhibition match in Auckland, New Zealand between two former champions, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Women’s Tennis Association chose to assign ball duties to three adorable assistants.

The three dogs – Oscar, a rescued Bull Mastiff, Ted, a Border Collie recently retired from obedience trials, and Super Teddy, a Jack Russell/Norfolk Terrier/Miniature Schnauzer cross and winner of New Zealand’s Clever Canine Competition 2014 – are huge fans of tennis balls, if not tennis.

via Dogs hired as ball boys for a pro tennis match. What could possibly go wrong? | Wamiz UK.

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The Current State of the Freezer

Freezer January 2015


Top shelf: Blue Ridge Beef in 5 pound chubs and chicken backs in tubs.

Middle shelf: Blue Ridge Beef in tubs, and a whole turkey.

Middle wire basket:  Pork kidneys.

Bottom shelf: Chicken backs in tubs.

Bottom wire basket: Split sheep rib cage.

Door:  Top left shelf is beef and sheep liver, sheep kidney, and a sheep “split.”  (I don’t actually know what the split is.)  Top right shelf is 3 Talenti containers with ground pork kidney and beef liver. Middle left shelf is another Talenti container with organs.  Bottom wire basket has a lone turkey wing joint.

Next weekend we will pick up our TQDF order.  Between now and then I want to thaw the last turkey (it got abandoned when I cut my finger in early December) and run it through the grinder.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to use the sheep rib cage or not because I’m leery of feeding whole bones like that since Jackson’s tooth extraction.  Poultry parts I’m still comfortable with (save turkey — that gets ground).

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life is better when your paws are muddy