More signs of Spring

While out in the yard this morning, I took a short video of some cute little birds perching on a birdhouse that is attached to our garage.  My apologies for not being closer, but this was as far as they’d let me come.  They looked like house sparrows to me, but I’m not much of a bird watcher, so I could be wrong.

The male (on the right side of the video) was actually watching Camber, who was standing below the birdhouse and wishing she had wings.

Our mornings are noisier now, too, with birdcalls, and — wonder of wonders — there is actually sunlight in the sky when we wake up.  Today’s high is predicted to be in the 50s.  Time to wash the car and refresh the Rain-X.

The dogs, too, are feeling friskier in the nicer weather.  It won’t be long now before I can clean off the patio and sit outside in the mornings with a cup of coffee while the dogs are in the yard.  Bring on the warmer weather!

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A new collar for Jackson, and a random meeting

First, this one:

A brown dog

Jackson with his new spring collar.  I love it so much I cannot tell you.  The colors are a perfect complement to Jackson’s red coat, and I love, love, love the stripes.  Also, check out that thigh muscle.  My boy is a beast!

Secondly, an unrelated photo:

A Canaan Dog

That is Sheba.  Sheba is a Canaan Dog bred by Myrna Shiboleth of Shaar Hagai.  She’s a grand old lady now, but still lovely.  We met Sheba at a park in New Haven, CT completely by happy coincidence.  We were at the park to do a meet-and-greet between Amy’s Skye and a potential adopter home and their Norwegian Buhund.  I brought Clover, Amy brought Skye, and as we were letting Clover and Skye get acquainted with Lykka, a pair of women walked by.  One politely interrupted and asked me, “Excuse me, but what kind of dogs are those?”

I am familiar with this question, so I replied, “Canaan Dogs!” expecting the next comment to be “What kind of dogs?”

Yeah, joke was on me.  She immediately turned to her friend and said, “You were right!” and I kinda paused for a second.  The friend pointed to Sheba and said, “She’s from Israel.”  I did a double take, and then caught Amy’s attention with the oh-so-eloquent, “Amy.  Amy.  Amy.  Amy …” and finally Amy turned around and I pointed and said with great grace and wit, “That’s one of Myrna’s dogs!”

Then it was Amy’s turn to be surprised, and I felt a little bit better. If you’re reading this, Sheba’s owner and friend, I am so sorry I don’t remember your lovely Boxer’s name.  But she was a sweetheart!

Okay, seriously though.  What are the odds that Amy and I would be at a completely random park in New Haven and a woman would come walking by with not just a Canaan Dog, but an imported Canaan Dog?  I should have gone and bought a lottery ticket.

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The salmonellas are going to kill us all!

I don’t freak out over salmonella.  You shouldn’t either.  Simple common sense precautions (like washing your hands and food preparation areas) will pretty much keep you safe.

Let’s put it this way: if dogs were a preschool, Salmonella would be that runny nose snotty kid always wiping their fingers on everything. It’s just kind of there, it’s not there on purpose, but it just kind of happens, and you manage it the best you can. You can peruse pubmed and the various studies on the topic if you want- in fact, NC State is doing research on the very topic of the prevalence of Salmonella in dogs as we speak- the older papers are all over the place, finding 11% to 66% incidence in dogs. A 2002 Canadian paper on asymptomatic dogs fed the BARF diet found 30% of those dogs tested positive for Salmonella, and, as BARF enthusiasts themselves regularly point out, they are not, as far as anyone can tell, keeling over dead of Salmonellosis in any discernible numbers. This despite the fact that in this study, 80% of their diet did test positive for the bacterium.

So why does the CDC hunt it down like Snape chasing Harry through the halls of Hogwarts? Are they that concerned about the comfort and well being of our canine companions? (hint: no.)

They care because people get Salmonella. The final tally from last year’s Diamond incident was that 49 people were sickened, 10 hospitalized, none dead. The CDC stats, when they have them available, average out to about 35 or so people a year getting documented cases of Salmonella from pet food. 35 out of the 42,000 reported cases a year. That’s 0.08% of the documented cases being due to pet food, for those keeping score. The actual number of Salmonella cases, most of which are never reported (how many of us had one of those “OMG I ate bad Taco Bell” mornings and never reported it?) is estimated to be about 29 times higher. Death rate from acute Salmonellosis? Less than 1%, actually quite a bit lower than even that unless you are very young ,very old, or immunocompromised.

People, just be smart.  Salmonella is kinda like cold viruses:  it’s out there in the environment, there’s nothing we can do to eradicate it, and the best way to keep from getting sick is to not do stupid things like licking frogs, or your counters after feeding your dogs.  Don’t buy into the hysteria.

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Canaans and affection …

When you have a very (very!) rare breed, it’s not at all unusual for people to have certain misconceptions about the breed.  Apparently there’s at least one dog trainer out there advising potential Canaan owners that Canaans are not affiliative with family members (in other words, they’re not affectionate or desiring of attention from family).

That’s Nathan with Amy’s Rickey and Rosie.  At the time I snapped this photo, both dogs had been steadily and persistently worming their way into Nate’s lap for over half an hour.  To paraphrase Amy, Nate couldn’t have peeled them off him if he wanted to.

I’d say they’re plenty affiliative … and he’s just “extended” family to them!


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What, this again?

So, it’s doing this again:

A yard with much snow

Which means we have to do this again:

A man shovels out a snow covered green car

Actually, we did just that earlier this morning, at 5:30 when Nate’s alarm went off.  It was still snowing.  I told Nate that he should work from home, and he kept saying he should go into the office, so we shoveled the entire driveway, and by the time we got to the top, there was another half-inch of snow at the bottom.

Nate didn’t go into the office today.

Also, it’s still snowing, which means the driveway now looks like we never touched it.  I really wanted to get out to the post office today (to mail a dog collar to a new purchaser!), and to Trader Joe’s to buy some salmon oil capsules for the dogs.  Guess that’s not happening.

Maybe I’ll go do this instead:

Dog under blanket

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Today’s Training To-Do: Make a Plan

I thought it would be helpful to talk about dog training at a 50,000 foot level (in other words, from an abstract level), rather than jumping straight in to the nitty-gritty of how to train a sit, or how to train a down.  There are plenty of other people out there who can explain that better than I can (at least, on a blog), but I wanted to talk about training, not write a how-to.

I wrote out my goals for the dogs in my last post, but I’ve re-ordered them slightly here:

  • Clover’s championship in conformation
  • A Canine Good Citizen title for each dog
  • A Companion Dog obedience title for each dog

The conformation title is near to being wrapped up … just a few more single points.  Good to go there.

The CGC and the CD titles have a little overlap, with the CGC being a heck of a lot easier than the CD (and the CD is the “easiest” of the obedience titles …).  I’ve got three things in motion for these two titles:  Susan Garrett’s Crate Games, Sue Ailsby’s Levels, and Susan Garrett’s Recallers course.  It’s a lot of information for me to process, so today I’m going to sit down and make a rough outline of what I want to accomplish in each area, for the next eleven days (through Saturday of next week).  It will kind of look like:

  • Finish watching Crate Games and work both dogs through the “You’re In/You’re Out” game
  • Re-read the introductory chapters of the Levels book
  • Re-watch the Recallers Q&A webinar
  • Finish the Recallers pre-games

And will include other items.  After I have the rough outline in place, I can go back and add sub-levels to the main items.  I’m anticipating that the Recallers course will allow Jackson and Clover to test out of some of the early recall Levels (at least, I hope so!).  Levels and Recallers should work hand-in-hand to give both dogs a fairly broad base for training, so that I can focus on precision work in traditional dog training classes as we work in obedience, rally, agility, or whatever.

The point in all this is to write things down, so I can (1) have a document to refer to and (2) start building some bookkeeping habits.  You train better when you have a plan and a record

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Training Decision Reached

I told you on Sunday I was trying to decide on where I wanted to take my next dog training course, but I forgot to include one option.  Really, I was deciding between three paid options:

  • Denise Fenzi’s new dog training academy
  • Susan Garrett’s Recallers 4.0 course
  • A local adult obedience course for Jackson

My goals for training/competing this year are to put a Canine Good Citizen title on both dogs, to finish Clover’s championship, and to work both dogs through Sue Ailsby’s Levels as a foundation before working toward a Companion Dog title for each dog.

(Basically, I want Clover’s full registered name and titles to be CH Relic’s Little Miss Can’T Be Wrong CD CGC, and I want Jackson’s full registered name to be Kuluta’s Barada Nikto CD CGC … as a minimum.  More titles = more letters sprinkled liberally about the registered name!)  I think Clover could probably easily earn a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), but I’m going to aim for a CD on Jackson to start.  He may surprise us all and love obedience.  Who knows?

So, with that in mind — Levels training I can do at home (and I’m doing already with the dogs) as a “base” for starting formal obedience work.  I have the Levels book and we’re working through it, although I found after teaching Level 1 Zen to Clover that I had inadvertently taught her to stare at my face instead of bait, which is counterproductive for showing.  So she’s retired from Levels training until she finishes her championship.

But that still left me considering the three courses above for Jackson, with the additional impetus that the Recallers registration was only going to be available for one week, and then it could be more than a year before Susan Garrett offered the course again.  I talked it over with Nathan, and we decided that Recallers made the most sense for us at this time — Jackson has a half-assed recall, and Clover has a half-assed recall if she’s in the yard (and none outside the yard).  Coming when called is such a basic, basic safety behavior, so Recallers it is!

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End of Week Wrap-up

Well, we haven’t done one of these in a while, so here’s an end of week wrap up.

In addition to ordering dog food this week, I spent some time storing away all the dog food I ordered last month.  I prefer to get my food order in, thaw it just enough that it can be distributed into my reusable tubs, and then everything gets stacked neatly into our upright freezer and I just pull out what I need during the month.  Last month I didn’t do this — I’ve been pulling out things to thaw as I need them, and it’s been bugging me all month.

“I need my tubs!” I ranted to Amy when I went to go see Emmy.  So … all the remaining food has been divided into tubs, so the freezer is ready to receive this month’s food shipment.  I did notice yesterday that I won’t have enough of the small blue tubs I use for muscle meat, since I ordered about 50 pounds of meat, but I only have about 20 empty tubs (each tub holds 1 pound).  I have another 15 tubs in use currently.  While I’d like to run out and buy another 15 tubs (bringing my monthly capacity to 50 pounds), instead I’ve scheduled on my calendar a mid-day food packing month.  I can handle twice a month.  Weekly (like I’ve done for February) is just too much.

Denise Fenzi (dog sport instructor and competitor extraordinaire) has opened an online dog sport academy.  I am so excited about this I just can’t tell you.  BUT … competing for my dog training funds … Susan Garrett also just opened registration for her 5-Minute Recall class.  What to choose, what to choose?  Argh!  So many great classes, not nearly enough money.

And, finally, some housekeeping for the website — my web hosting provider does daily, weekly, and monthly backups of my website, but Nate reminded me that I need to also host a backup of the site locally, so this morning I downloaded the most recent backup to my computer.  All safe and sound!

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Monthly Raw Food Order – March 2013

It’s that time of the month when I take an inventory of the freezer, sit down with a calendar and a calculator, and figure out how much dog food I need to order to get us through another month.  Here’s how it all went down.

Today is March 1.  The next food delivery after this one will be April 13.  That’s 44 days of food I need to have on hand.  I feed Jackson approximately 1.5-2 pounds of food a day (one pound of raw meaty bones, one pound of muscle meat+organ mix), and Clover approximately three-quarters to one pound of food a day (half a pound of raw meaty bones and half a pound of muscle meat+organ mix).  It’s not exactly that much … some days they get more, some days they get less, but for the purposes of this exercise, those are the amounts I use.  That means I need about 60 pounds of raw meaty bones, and about 60 pounds of muscle meat+organ mix.

I have, on hand:

1 whole beef heart (approximately 3-3.5 pounds of muscle meat)
5 pounds of beef kidneys (organs)
3 pounds of turkey hearts, livers, and gizzards (organs)
5 pounds of beef and green tripe with liver and heart (muscle meat+organ mix)
5 pounds of duck HVM (all-in-one raw meaty bone and muscle meat+organ mix)
5 pounds of chicken necks, hearts, gizzards, and liver (all-in-one raw meaty bone and muscle meat+organ mix
34 chicken backs (raw meaty bones)

Translating that out for food order purposes, ignore the beef kidneys and the turkey organ mix.  I have enough of those to get me to the next food order.  The beef heart, beef and tripe mix, and duck HVM all count as “muscle meat+organ mix” for my calculations, even though some of that contains bone:  about 13 pounds total.  The chicken backs average about 8 ounces per back, so 17 pounds, plus 5 pounds of chicken neck mix, for a total of 22 pounds.

From here on out, the math is easy.

1 40-lb case of chicken leg quarters from the butcher.  This satisfies my raw meaty bone needs, and will cost me about $35.

From Top Quality Dog Food, I ordered:

20 pounds of beef and green tripe with liver and heart
10 pounds of ground pork, no bone
10 pounds of ground turkey, no bone
3 whole beef hearts (about 10 pounds)
5 pounds of chicken feet (snacks!)

The total for the TQDF order will come out probably around $90 by my estimates, which means we’ll be slightly over budget this month for dog food.  This is fine because last month we were under budget.  We average about $100 to feed the two dogs, which is a pretty comfortable amount.

This weekend I had a quick discussion with someone who is transitioning her Canaan to a raw food diet (moving from a high-quality kibble), and I told her that if it were me, I’d focus entirely on ordering the HVM mixes with bone from TQDF.  They’re an all-in-one meat, bone, organ, fruit and vegetable grind, and with one Canaan about Clover’s size, she could just order 35 pounds of HVM mixes each month, and thaw/feed it just like it were canned food.  If I had just Clover, and not Jackson, to feed, that’s exactly what I would be doing.  Make sure I had at least four different flavors on hand every month, and I’d be set.  It’s the same advice I gave another friend of mine (with a Miniature Pinscher):  just order the HVMs.  All the good stuff the dog needs, and nothing it doesn’t.  And with the Min Pin, she’s literally feeding just a few ounces a day.  Tiny dogs sure are easy on the wallet!

However …. I do have my lovely red-headed boy to feed (and he eats a lot!) so we cut costs by ordering our raw meaty bones from the butcher, and shop the TQDF sales to pick up deals when we can!

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Make your own liver treats

I was taught how to do this by Amy last year, and now I find myself making a batch up pretty much every few weeks.  Old news to any conformation exhibitors, but I had never known how to do it before, so I’m sharing the recipe with you.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.

You need a pound of liver, cut into pieces that will fit into a medium-sized pot, and some garlic powder, fresh garlic, Worchestershire sauce, or other flavorings as you see fit. If you use garlic powder, make sure it’s garlic powder and not garlic salt.

I find that fresh lamb and goat liver likes to puff up when you cook it; beef liver tends to stay nice and firmly dense.  Chicken livers are too crumbly.

Cut the liver into large pieces that will fit in your pot, cover with water and flavorings, then bring to a boil.  Let boil for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through with no pinkness in the middle.  Thinner slices of liver will cook faster (such as what you might get at the grocery store); thicker pieces will take longer.

When the liver is done boiling, drain and rinse it under cold water.  The liver may get some “scrungy” foamy stuff on the outside of it as it cooks; just use your thumbs to rub the surface smooth.  Pat dry with a paper towel, and then arrange on a cookie sheet.  I like to use a rack over the cookie sheet to get air movement on both sides of the liver.  Put into your pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes, then flip, and let sit in the oven for another five minutes.  The oven step just makes sure the liver is good and dry to the touch; the middle of the liver should not be dried out completely.

You can then freeze the liver to keep until you need it, or slice into training treats.  Larger pieces are good for ring bait.  I like to make up several large pieces at a time, and then freeze them on a cookie sheet.  After they’re frozen, I vacuum-seal them into individual bags and return to the freezer, where they will keep for several months.  Freshly boiled liver can be kept on the counter during the day, but should be refrigerated overnight, or else it dries out (in an open container) or gets moldy (in a closed container).

The liver should be nice and firm, and makes great training treats because it’s soft and smelly.

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life is better when your paws are muddy