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Friday, November 26, 2010

Reverse sneeze

Spike does this weird "reverse sneeze" that sounds like he's dying. I looked it up online at Sounds scary, but apparently isn't. I hold the sides of his rib cage and it stops. 

Because of the cough, I thought Spike might be allergic to dry food, so we have fed them homemade dog food for a few days. They LOVE it. Chopped and stirred: 3 c. brown rice, 1-2 eggs, 1 c. meat, 1 c. cooked vegs. I froze it in portion sizes - oh, those dogs can't wait to get into the crates to eat!

We went for a walk early this morning in the damp and cold. Ugh. Hate this weather. The dogs were very happy in their fleecy coats, and no boots on for warmer feet. They fairly scampered! 

They're off to Alexis' house while I travel. At home, our guys are taking care of the fish and plants. W picked up a nasty cold so isn't up to walking in the drafty winds. I'm really hopeful to have found good care: Alexis is an experienced dog owner with a big beautiful dog of her own so she's an experienced dog owner. Her mom walks their dog every day, too. And I am sending an inventory of dog stuff along.

Why an inventory? After boarding Spike this summer, we are still missing 2 leashes (one retractible), a red harness, a black collar for our Dog-Gone Device, and a stainless steel dog dish. 3.5 months should be time to find the gear, don'tcha think? We've had numerous "misses" (conversations initiated as hellos from the girl who watched Spike, with "howdys back" and appeals from me, "Please let me know when my stuff shows up. I'll come pick it up!") 

One day, she IM-ed hi, and mentioned they were moving to another town. What?! I showed up at their house during their garage sale, and they said they'd packed everything away  the day before. Sigh. What a pain on both sides, theirs (they feel I'm mean and harassing them by continuing to ask for my stuff) and mine (I'm out +$50 for gear I have to replace). 

I'd also never board a dog again with a self-avowed "pet lover" or dog walker without dogs of their own. The family had no idea how to handle a dog. They complained he wouldn't walk on the leash, wouldn't do tricks, and regressed on housetraining (he was completely trained at home before and after.) The gal's mom also insisted that I pay them more money the week before we left. Hmmm. Their lack of integrity with an agreed contract should have been my warning. However, it was too close to our summer trip to find someone else's home.

Live and learn! I love my good doggies. Have fun, Alexis!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New group - Mutt Love

If you have a mixed breed dog, post a photo and why you love your mutt at Mutt Love:
Group home page:
Group email address:


Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow and shower

When we walk out the front door after 7, a few flakes of snow are drifting from the sky. By the time we walk a block, we are in a full flurry. Our three lines of tracks, triangular dog toes and my solid treaded boots, meander up the hill and onto the crest. There's no one in sight.

Bella is feeling spunky. She drags Spike along until he finally digs in for his third effort at potty. She waits for him, then bounds down the sidewalk at a trot to the end of the leash. If they had not been on the line this morning, they would have been in Montana by now. Both have high energy, feel like running, and bounce around in the snow.

On our way home, our tracks have been obliterated. I slip and fall (no harm done) going down our steep street. I'd elected to skip exercise class at 6 because our slope gets so icy. Good call. I don't know that I could have gotten back up the street.

Once we get in the door, it is bath time. Spike goes first, since he'll dry himself off while Bella is getting her shampoo. I put a towel on the bathroom floor, and he flings himself around it every which way until he's nearly dry. Amazing.

On the other hand, Bella gets to try out the poodle dryer (Commander 4) I picked up secondhand. It almost blows her off the new grooming table, but she sits down firmly. She is a mass of fluff and puff when we finish trimming and combing. She looks very poodle-like, though she refuses to look at me for a standing photo.

The dogs run down the hall. Spike finds a toy, and begins to carry it. Bella seizes the fleece tails I've knotted around it, and tugs. They go back and forth with vigor, light growls, and pull-release to let the other drag them along the passage. It is very amusing to watch. I pick them up for their post-grooming photo, and they drop the toy.

Almost time for breakfast! Good doggies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baby it's cold out there

Brrrrrr. We head out at 7.15. The dogs are awake and frisky. I'm still in a sleep warp as they drag me up the hill to the flat streets further on. They bounce around in the cold, not minding with their fleece and sweaters on. When I stop to take a photo, they run ahead and wait impatiently for me to get on with it and catch up.

There's no one else around this morning. It's 36oF - and I might have to slip on those dog boots if I clip Bella's feet short enough.

I'm thinking of doing a home-cooked diet since I'm always cooking. Today they eat the leftover stuffing I found from last Christmas: bread, bacon, celery, ground beef. No complaints!

In the afternoon I set up our new grooming table and give Bella face, foot, and sani trim. She's quite patient and looks cute afterward. Spike, who fights the groomer, tries to get away and turn his face but eventually we have both done. His feet are not as short or even, but shorter is better than longer when you're dragging in pinecones. $80 saved already on grooming fees. The table and noose were $75.

Bella does a good job of barking when Amanda come to decorate the Christmas tree with Jono. Spike chimes in to welcome her, but neither have any inclination to run around the yard: it's too cold to travel! We get a few snow flurries in our neighborhood, but the snow melts.

The dogs and I try to ignore the Christmas music while the kids decorate - those Chipmunks are singing Jingle Bells 'way too early!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dog food

After a walk in the morning, I hit the books. The thermostat in the house isn't working, so it's 62oF. Tub time with a stack of research and my notebook beside the bathtub, while the dogs eat lunch in their crates.

I pick up a second airline soft-sided carry-on for $15. The dogs come along, sitting in their Outward Hound seats, looking out the window. Bella immediately hops in, curls up, and watches from a comfy position. Spike's not so sure. I have to lift him in, snug his clip-on leash, and make sure he's not able to jump out. He likes the DogGone Device better, getting in. But it looks so much less comfy. I'm hoping he'll get used to the seat soon.

We're close to the Maltby dog park, so we swing by. We've never traversed the acres of trails and forest. And MUD. Time for some good fun and quick walking as I unclip the leashes and they take off like black rockets down the trails. Both dogs trot their way across boggy dirt and leaves without hesitation. A happy Rottweiler chases back and forth from his owner, sniffing and playing around Spike and Bella. No harm done. He scares Bella the first time he bounds up, and I'm always startled as he pushes past me on the narrow trail through the woods. Bella gets used to his antics before I do.

We walk a mile or two across open meadows and gravel walks, finishing on a clean lawn to wipe dog feet and my muddy boots.

The rain starts to pelt the car windshield as we drive away. Whew, good timing. Spike and Bella settle into their seats for the 20 minute ride home.

I see a clip online about dog food - its chemicals don't have to be listed, and even "natural" and "organic" pet food often includes restaurant grease, the 4 Ds of the pet industry (dead, disabled, dying, diseased), and euthanized dogs and cats from shelters along with the unprocessed drug that kills them. Ugh.

When I check homemade dog food recipes, they boil down to leftovers from a typical American meal (NO ONIONS!) Most recipes approximate these proportions:

1/2 c. cooked ground or other meat, cooked. Can of fish would be fine, too.
2 eggs, optional for added protein
 4 c. cooked rice or other carbs like oatmeal
2 tbsp. oil
1 c. cooked veges (potatoes, Brussel sprouts, carrots, beans, etc.)
dog vitamins, optional

Mix together. Serve or freeze separate portions for later.

It would be easy to cook for them as well for us when I make our company/friends meal on Sundays. Our discriminating Bella, who has gotten used to our dry dog food and eats every last kibble so Spike won't take it? She would be VERY happy with the change. Spike? If he can chew and swallow it, he doesn't seem to care what it tastes like.

Good doggies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First wrestling match

It's been a cool wet week.  Ugh to Seattle winters. We get caught in a downpour on a bike ride yesterday. Both dogs have the animal print fleecies on under raincoats, but their legs are soaked.

I put Bella in the wicker basket after 2 miles. She isn't even panting, but the weather helps. Plus, we go a slow 4-7 mph for her. After she's up and out of harm's way, the pace picks up so Spike can run his mile at 8-10mph. He's a running monster for his size! When he stops tugging, we slow down to a gentlemanly 6mph trot.

He is happy all day long and she rests most the day. Bella walks off with Spike's toy in the afternoon. He's surprised and tries halfheartedly to tug it back. No giving in. She hangs on and keeps dragging it behind her (big long squeaky animal). He gives up in astonishment. Go Bella! He's always playing with her stuff, so I'm happy to see that she knows she can share his.

This morning when we get in from a short, cold walk (1.75 miles), the dogs have their first growling and wrestling match. No one is seriously dominating, so no one comes out on top. It's good fun, bouncing, tail wagging, "hey, buddy!" kind of play. Bella does her typical stomach-up surrender a few times, but Spike's sitting and lying down beside her most of the time, snarling wickedly as she barks at him. They don't even nip. Just bounce over one another, trot around the entry, and have fun. (like the photo below - not of them)

I am SO glad. They walked closer together today on a 20" coupler rather than the usual 40". I was too lazy to get the regular leash from the car. Yes, we walked by the car on our way up the driveway, but I would have had to take those keys, unlock the car, get the leash, relock the car, put the car keys back, etc. You get the picture. We walked past with our homemade solution.

I cobbled together my bicycling leg wraps (velcros that keep trousers out of the chain) and attached them to the dog collars and my leash; worked just fine. They trotted like ponies pulling a cart--me. And they walked beside me carefully on "Let's go for a walk."

They felt free to play around when we got back in. Now they're sleeping together in the next room. My office is very quiet with both of them snuggled on the sofa next door. There's a big smile on my face. Peace at last? Good doggies!

Monday, November 15, 2010

First bike duo

We picked up some free dog food ("fresh from the freezer" according to the gal who apparently freezes dry dog food to keep it unspoiled). She's tidying before moving to Texas, so she threw in a few other things - small collars, harness, leash, and elizabethan med collar. Bella wore the "I'm a cool dog" T-shirt to sleep yesterday. Perfect fit.

Today is a damp day, but the doggies went for their first joint bike run. Because Bella is not used to the pace, we cruised at 4-6 mph for 2 miles. She clicks into a trot at 5mph, but it takes Spike until 8mph to do the same.

The rain was pelting down on their raincoats and my cycling rain trousers. I was so glad we geared up or we would have been soaked! Bella hunkered down, watching Spike run another 2 miles while sitting on the warm wool fleecy and secured by a carabiner in the wicker basket.

Spike is gaining weight with our reduced exercise while Bella strengthen her muscles. He's also been sneaking Bella's leftover food from her crate dish in the morning. (Now I'm making sure her crate is locked when we get up in the morning.)

When we got back to the porch everyone had a good shake-out and wiped their feet. Once inside, the famous scoot: Spike dries himself on the entry rug as usual. Bella runs along the sofas after I dry her with a towel. They were perky and happy to be inside, and hopped into their crates to eat their lunches.

We played a bit of fetch and everyone is resting. Good doggies!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finally Friday

It's been a working day for the dogs - this morning we took a longer-than-usual walk, almost 3 miles around the neighborhood. After a bit of food-searching and then lunch, I met a gal in Kirkland who passed along a fabulous PINK dog bed she wasn't using. She threw in some flea drops - yay for Freecycle!

Since we were halfway there, we went to Marymoor Dog Park. It's 40 acres of dog paradise. There are trails, grass, river beaches.

Today there must have been 50 dogs out with their owners. The retrievers were fetching balls and splashing around the river. The agility dogs were training. Most of the little dogs were doing what Spike and Bella did: sauntering around their owners (give or take 50 feet) and exploring the smells and textures.

I was a bit hesitant about the pace at which Bella has been thrown into Spike's world. She was surprised at all the dogs, but moved through them without snipping or growling. The golden retrievers and German shepherds might have been intimidating, but she let them sniff and then walked towards me when she was done.

I walk briskly, so had to call the dogs a few times when they lagged or cut trails through the meadows. They'd come running toward me full speed and zip along ahead. It's fun to see both of them hanging out.

Of course they had long naps this afternoon. Good doggies!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busy day!

We start the day with a 2 mile walk. Bella is bouncing as she comes out of the crate, and seems stronger and happier walking. She's giving Spike as good as she gets on the coupler. Once one will be ahead, then another. I'm fascinated by the egalitarian temperaments of both dogs. Neither growls or fusses when the other runs off and drags them along, "drag" being a relative term. The slightest tug, and the trailing dog looks up and they trot off together.

Luckily for us, it doesn't start raining until afternoon. It's sprinkling when we walk up the driveway to get the mail. Spike and Bella snooze, run around the house, bark at Jonathan when he gets home until they recognize him, then drop to the floor or doggie bed for another nap.

Spike's eye is cloudy but open. It seems not to bother him much. The eye drops are easy to put in, and while Spike doesn't exactly volunteer, he doesn't pull away.

Neither dog is impressed by toothpaste and toothbrushes but they tolerate my sticking them into their mouths and scrubbing their teeth. Good doggies.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vet visit

Both dogs are scrubby clean after their showers yesterday. As usual, Spike dries himself on the towel I put on the bathroom floor. Bella has to wait while my blowdryer shuts down a few times - overheating from the length of time it takes to dry her. I just sold my two unused dryers, a commercial floor stand and a Commander (for poodles) last week... before adopting Bella. Argh. Now I'll have to get another. I check out Craigslist. Someone has a used Commander - I write them and hope for a reply.

This morning Bella is curly - a human blowdryer just doesn't get poodles completely dry, even after an hour, so their hair seizes back up. When Spike comes out of the crate, his eye is swollen shut. It's oozing pus and light sensitive. What's happened? The first vet appointment we can get is 4.30 at our vet. I just can't make him wait that long. He is listless, lying down, not following me around the house. Bella stays with him, keeping her eyes on him from her bed under the desk. Usually she's wriggling and happy to lead us up or down the stairs. Not this morning. We skip our early walk.

The vet down the hill can fit us in at 10.30. Much better. I quickly sew up two double-fleece sweaters to pass the half hour before the appointment. Ready to get them into the car, but where are my keys? W's in Salt Lake Airport when he answer the phone - and it takes me another 10 minutes to find the the spare where he stores it. We are a few minutes late to the vet.

Spike lies down at my feet. Meanwhile, Bella bounces around the room, explores all the corners. She's quite happy and confident, running up to the vet for petting when Dr. C comes in. Bella gets a quick exam and vaccinations for rabies, bortedella, and distemper.

"She's in good shape except for one back tooth," says the vet. The doctor can't see how bad the tooth is: there's too much tarter on it. "Get a dental for her in about 6 months," she recommends. Bella is only 7.2 lbs. Is that too skinny?! "No, it's good for her size. Walking her will put a little muscle and maybe another pound on her, but that's all she should gain."

The dogs are the same height, but Spike weighs in at a sturdy 11.5 lbs. "He's chunky and muscular, and probably shouldn't gain any more," says the vet. He's been stealing Bella's treats if she doesn't eat them right away. She's more finicky and takes a while to get her food.

Apparently Spike's scratched his eye. That's it? "Don't let it get infected," says Dr. C. So, $207 later, armed with antibiotics for Spike and a rabies tag for Bella's collar, we head to the park across the street for a couple of loops around the trees. Both dogs are happy to be outside. Spike follows Bella, who takes a commanding lead and drags him along on the leash coupler. Their new coats are cute, but a bit loose: I'll have to adjust the velcro and shorten the straps. Bella keeps putting one leg through the neck as she darts here and there, Spike trailing behind.

An "almost-90" lady with a cute pug stops to exclaim on the dogs. We chat: she's walking "So I live longer. I'm not ready to die yet," she says. "My dog keeps me moving."

I check for email from the Commander dryer lady: "Come to Marysville, I've got one for you." It's $20 less than I got for mine, but has scratches and only one of the two attachments. No box. (Mine was in new condition, box and attachments unscathed.) Whatever. It blows like crazy, and that's all we need. I pick up a pair of dog boots for $5 (reg. $52). Now we need one more set and we can walk in snow and wet.

When I get to the counter, I've used my last check at the vet's and don't have enough cash. Who knows where the VISA card is? We drive to the bank down the street, get cash, back to the secondhand pet store, pay for the dryer and boots...

We're all ready for our 2pm breakfast when we get home. The dogs eat in their crates. There's not a trace of food in Bella's bowl, unlike the bits she usually leaves. They're glad to see me when I get them in an hour. A quick trip outside before we head to my office, where both dogs are relaxed and content.

"These dogs are costing us more than our kids!" W exclaims from the Atlanta Airport. Guess we can't send them to university, or that will be true!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wet Tuesday

The dogs are sitting in the window, looking out at a very wet Tuesday. Bella has her Grinch and her sinew to chew on. They've just "found" a few pieces of dog food in the office. Working dogs, don't you know?

We did a 2 mile walk this morning. It's the first time we've used my homemade coupler and the new dog coats. The coats are black, and the dogs are happy about staying warm. I've looked up making boots for the cold wet days ahead. May whip up a few pairs in the next coupla days.

The coupler? W had a sturdy name tag lanyard left over from some conference. Rather than spend $33 on a leash coupler online, I put the retractable leash clip through the top loop of the coupler, threaded key rings and carabiners to each end, and connected their collars.

Spikey's a wanderer, and Bella's more of a straight walker, so they made a few adjustments along the way. Neither seems to mind being within 3 feet of the other and we got around the block and home just fine. We were thinking of going to the dog park, but this downpour has put a stop to our ambitions. Doggy nap, anyone?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday madness

What a day - I had so much fun I forgot to take pics. We picked up an unopened Frontline flea meds, dog raincoat, and Outward Hound booster. Bella whined all the way down, lying on the seat. As soon as I strapped her into the booster, not another peep! She could see out the side and front and was content. Spike loves his DogGone Device backpack and settled quickly into it so I could fasten his collar through the restraining loops.

We took a detour on the way home to the small dog park (off-leash) at Magnussen. There were at least a dozen dogs, from Cavalier Spaniels to pugs to Yorkies to poodle mixes. Spike ran around with all the dogs. First time in a half-dozen visits he hasn't just walked on the outskirts: Bella's good influence? She was a little hesitant, but got strokes from lots of adult dog-lovers, hung around the friendliest dogs, and sniffed her way around the half-acre. I heard very quiet growling when a dog would get too aggressive, but she never snapped or barked.

They ate lamb bones from my Sunday dinner in their crates (lamb is a non-vegan indulgence). Then it was time to come out and play and visit.

By 7, they were both tired. They quickly did their jobs outside, ran to their crates in the kitchen, and waited for me. Bella stood in front of her crate, hopped in the minute I opened the door, and Spike worked up his courage to jump into his crate above her. He bopped his head getting in last time, but this time around was a better effort. Straight in, turn around, lay down, chew the rest of the bone.

A Craigslist-er sent me 3 warm dog coats "on trust" that my check for $10 was in the mail. Yup. There's a nice fleece and furry black coat that will keep the dogs toasty on our walk in the morning.

For now, all is quiet and happy on the dog front. Time for me to hit the books for another hour or so without dog paws pleading for attention!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Exciting day

We started our early-hour walk at 7.30. W took one leash, I another, and the dogs walked together. Spike got pretty close to nabbing a fat squirrel, and Bella was right behind him. (Squirrel alert, photo below.)

After about 1 1/2 miles, Bella was dragging a bit, so W scooped her up and carried her home. Lucky dog! Meanwhile Spike was happy to stay on the trail. He scooted around the front entry rug to dry off while I hand-dried Bella.

They don't seem to mind the fleecy covers I made from a $3 blanket: I cut out leg holes, and safety-pinned the edges over the top. Comfy, warm, and inexpensive. 

After church (doggies crated), we had lunch and dessert to celebrate Rebekah's birthday. One of the children who shall remain unnamed left cocoa-nuts at the table (gift from a friend) and Spikey at them ALL. We induced throwing up with 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, as recommended. Of course, I got to clean up the office where he did the dirty deed. He seems none the worse for wear. Unbelievable!

Bella's mom called - I had her on speaker phone so Bella could hear her in case her visit didn't work out. When I put Bella on the leash to "go outside" she walked to the center of the driveway and waited. She finally had to come in, but just before Nicolette came over, I put Bella on the leash again. Same thing - she was delighted! when her mom drove up. It was so cute to see Bella wiggle and dance for her. Bella enjoyed hugs and kisses, snuggled a bit, then lay down in her velour doggy bed and went to sleep.

As soon as Nicolette left, Bella ran to her crate and waited for me to put a towel on the foam floor. She jumped in with her chewey and fresh water, curled up, and got ready for a night's sleep. She whined a bit after about a half hour, and has settled down to sleep.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New name

We're now at

Bella comes to play

Bella is a 6 year old female toy poodle, polite, housetrained, and friendly to people and dogs. She's come to our house to play this weekend.

Actually, we'd love to keep her, and will adopt her if all goes well. Her mom and family are in transition and advertised a good doggie to go to a new home. Meanwhile, we've been looking for a companion for Spike, who loves to play all day long. Since my stay-at-home job is studying, not full-time dogsitter, I thought he'd enjoy a playmate... besides me.

This morning, we all headed out the door for a 2 mile walk. They wandered along within a few feet of each other on long leashes. When I pulled them up for a few blocks of "Go-for-a-walk," (=walk close to me) Bella tugged a few times at first. Then they trotted alongside as though they had always been together.

They nosed out the treats I hid in my office, ate breakfast in their crates, and chased dog toys. Now they're sprawled on the floor, resting.

"Good doggie!" Oops, "...doggies!"