Dog Archive

General update

Posted June 1, 2015 By Ruth

Our weather has been decidedly screwy.  After a record breakingly cold winter we were all looking forward to spring.  Instead we got summer with the rare “cold spring” day tossed in as a sop.  Though we’re not breaking the high temp records we’re coming close to them.  And with 90% humidity no one’s happy about it.  To top it off it’s been incredibly dry.  Normally we spend the month of May barely able to mow the yard (and often unable to, in part or in all), due to the shear wetness of the ground.  This year I’ve been having to water my garden.

I discovered that my ankles really are screwed up, but also that wrapping them for the day at work makes a huge difference in my ability to cope.  This is a relief because…..

I’ve been attempting to teach myself to spin.  No, not on a bicycle, I already know how to ride a bike.  Fiber, on a spinning wheel, to create yarn.  Thanks to the generosity of several ladies, both local and several states away, I have both a spindle and a spinning wheel to learn on, as well as a fair bit of pre-processed fiber to play around with during my learning process.  I picked up the process of spinning on the spindle quite quickly.  But the spinning wheel requires me to peddle to keep the wheel turning.  And with my painful ankles that wasn’t happening.  This past week though, after keeping my ankles wrapped for the entire work day for over a week, the pain has been much less, and even almost non-existent, depending on the day.  So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do some proper practice on the spinning wheel this week.

Of course, my body isn’t happy unless I’m in SOME sort of pain, or so it seems some days.  Friday, while at work, I knelt down to pull forward some stock on one of the very bottom shelves.  Only to feel as if I’d knelt on a needle the instant my right knee hit the ground.  Standing back up showed no needle, or splinters, or anything else that might cause the feeling, and my skin was un-broken.  However the painful feeling in that spot in that knee persisted.  My knee didn’t swell up at all.  And it hasn’t affected my ability to walk, kneel, or lift.  So I’m hoping that all that happened was that I knelt at a weird angle and so something was strained.  My concern is that I partially tore something.  I guess time will tell.  I did file an accident report at work, just in case it does turn out to be something.  But I hate going through worker’s comp for stuff…..

Apollo is finally properly shedding.  I’ve come to the decision that he is just a delayed shedder.  It seems like many of the other Tibetan Mastiff owners I’ve talked to have half naked dogs by now.  But not Apollo!  Back in mid-March his leg fluff started coming loose, and by mid-April or so his legs were naked and his shoulders were starting to come loose.  And there it stopped.  Just this past week though I’ve finally been able to get actual amounts of fur from his ruff and body.  And that’s been the pattern for him for previous years too.  So I guess this is his normal.  I’m saving the shed fluff again, this time in hopes of being able to spin it myself this year.  See above paragraph about learning to spin!

My seedlings are all in the garden.  Though of course mother nature couldn’t let us escape without a threatened late frost, just because.  Most everything seems to be growing fine despite that though.  The heat is good for somethings I guess!  Unfortunately its not good for the early “sow in the garden before last frost” crops though.  Half my radishes never formed bulbs, and three of them attempted to go to seed when I left them in the ground in hopes that the bulbs would form.  Despite planting lettuce seeds over a span of 3 weeks in hopes of having staggered harvests everything has shot up at once, and I’m picking the early maturing ones as fast as I can in hopes of being able to eat them before they go to seed.  I may go ahead and let some of them go though, since I’ve already harvested more than we’ll eat in the next week.  My Sugar Snap peas are barely a foot high, and have no buds.

Speaking of the garden, I did end up spending another $12 for additional dirt/compost to fill in the beds.

The crocosmia lilies my aunt sent me last year somehow survived our insane winter and have sprouted.  I’m thrilled as they were very pretty last year.  I had to send me some more when she thinned out her patch a couple weeks ago, and have planted them in more spots around the property.  I don’t care that they’ll spread out and fill in.  Infact, I want them to.  I have several corners that are frustrating to mow or otherwise keep trimmed, and I’ve been filling them with Daylilies, and mints, and other such in an attempt to not have to mow them as often, so the crocosmia lilies will fit right in!

The winter, and the dry spring, has definitely screwed with my flowers in general though.  Crocus bloomed on schedule, but the daffodils and tulips ran a solid month late.  And now, though it looks like all my iris sprouted, only half have produced buds.  And of those buds, the stalks are all only about half the height of normal, and many of the buds themselves are flat, as if empty.  I’ve been trying to keep them watered, but they’re in an awkward spot.  And it looks like the winter killed most of the butterfly bushes too.  Only one is showing green, and that only from new shoots from the roots.  The top is completely dead.  

We do appear to have a Bluebird pair nesting in one of the boxes this year.  I’m delighted to see them.  Since the House Sparrows killed the first pair a couple years ago we’ve only seen Bluebirds in passing.  I’ve been putting out mealworms for them, so hopefully they’ll stick around and tell off the Sparrows!

Speaking of birds…..as is usual I put out the hummingbird feeders when the ebird.org reports showed them as having been seen in northern PA.  And was rewarded as usual with hummingbird sightings myself within the next couple weeks.  Now, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, the only kind we normally get here, are aggressive, territorial, little snots.  Its not unusual for one bird (usually a male) to claim a feeder as HIS, and attempt to keep all other hummers away from it.  This only kinda works, since while he’s driving off one bird another is sneaking a sip.  And like many folks I put out multiple feeders around the property in order to give the rest of the locals a chance for a longer drink.  But the fights that result tend to be very short overall.  This year however a pair of males decided they had to fight to the death over feeder rights (and likely girl rights).  Well, I don’t actually know that it was “to the death” but thats sure what it looked like.  For three days straight, every time I looked out the window, this pair was fighting.  And although I can’t 100% swear it was the same two birds the entire time, it sure looked like it.  They were so engrossed in their fight that I was able to get within feet of the feeders to snap pictures.

Their pattern went like this-

First both would come in for a drink at the same time, eyeing each other carefully over the feeder

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And then, to some unknown signal it would start!

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After a minute or so of fighting one or both would decide it was time for a breather and a drink, but woe betide the one who decided so when they other wasn’t ready

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And round and round they went, utilizing both feeders.  Every minute or two stopping for a drink and a breather before resuming their fight

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I must say it was fascinating to watch!

Bill # S04706 and Bill # A01006

They are essentially identical as far as I can tell.

They are written to prohibit the tieing, tethering, restraining, caging, or penning of “any dog or animal”, whether “working or non-working” during the hours of 7pm to 6am.

There is nothing that says that these restrictions are for outdoors only, so the indoor crating of a destructive dog could be considered illegal under these bills.

There is nothing that defines what those other “animals” are.  So in theory these bills could be applied to horses and livestock.  

In addition to the above these bills also state that “dog or animal” that is penned, caged (etc)….during the day must be housed in an pen or cage that is at least 4 times the height and length of the animal.

There are sections of my house where the ceilings are only 7ft high.  Which means that per that law it could be considered illegal to contain my Tibetan Mastiff INSIDE MY HOUSE.  Nevermind what it would do to housing horses…..

 

ALSO, Bill # A06406

Adds additional restrictions to the tethering of dogs.  While I agree with some of the restrictions I have problems with some of them.

There is no provision for working dogs.

Tethering would be prohibited completely between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

Tethering during the day could only be for a maximum of 3hrs unless you have WRITTEN permission from your local Animal Control AND your veterinarian.  And even then the max length of time the dog could be tethered would be 12hrs.  AND that written permission would have to be renewed every 60 days including having a NEW written statement from your vet.

While I can sympathize with the desire to restrict the length of time a dog is tethered this is NOT the way to go about it…..

 

RATN

Posted April 25, 2015 By Ruth

Arty officially completed his Barn Hunt Novice Title today, making him officially Artemis RATN were I to bother with paperwork for him.

He was far less impressed with the whole photograph with his ribbons thing than he was with the find the rats thing.

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But thats ok cause I’m still proud of him!

Text of the proposed amendment here.

Current status here.

This amendment will allow the court to sell, donate to a shelter, or destroy any animal thats been seized for PROBABLE CAUSE of abuse or neglect BEFORE the owner has their day in court.  And if the owner is then found not guilty they do not get their animal back.

This amendment will also, if the court does not decide on the above, to allow the court to set a “bond or security” that the ACCUSED owner must pay, to cover the costs of caring for the animals while the court case is pending.  And if the owner is found not guilty the funds will be returned to them.  HOWEVER, failure to pay those funds in the first place (because, you know, court costs alone are expensive) the animal is forfeited REGARDLESS of the outcome of the court case.

The new dog prep

Posted April 14, 2015 By Ruth

No, we don’t have a new dog.  I was following links and ran across this post.  I can’t seem to figure out how to comment there, and it’s something that I think that every dog owner ought to think about anyways, so…..

The questions as listed in that post.

1: what meds to store?

The answer is going to depend a bit.  You need to know what pests are normal in your local environment, and if your prefered bug out location is completely different then you need to know what’s normal there too.  Some areas of the country will need heartworm prevention year round (I prefer Revolution for my dogs, but do some research, there are areas where heartworms are showing resistance to some meds).  Know what kinds of ticks are common locally, there are at least 4 kinds of ticks common in the USA, but not all are found in all areas, and not all preventatives work on all types (I prefer Preventic collars for my dogs).  Know if there are other pests common to the area you’ll need to prevent.  Keeping a stock of a standard intestinal wormer product may not be a bad idea, especially for folks in more rural areas.  Many wormers can be bought over the counter from local pet stores, feed stores, and veterinary supply stores.  A decent anti-fungal that’ll work on both you and the dog isn’t a bad idea either.  Benadryl is another one thats good to stock, bee stings can cause nasty swelling for some dogs, to the point of impacting the airways, and benadryl will help with that.  Standard dosage is UP TO 1mg of benadryl per pound of dog, however I personally recommend starting at half that and only dosing more if the dog needs it as some dogs are highly affected by it.  

2: food?

Most kibble will store for extended periods if you can buy the bags shortly after it hits the stores, but check the “best buy” dates as it CAN go rancid.  Also kibble is a PIA to haul if you have to move quickly.  A gallon ziplock bag’s worth will get you through a day or two, but you’ll want to plan on what to expect after that.  Some folks can up meat and planned dog food using their pressure canner.  Others (like me) try to keep dehydrated meats on hand.  But its something you’ll want to think about.  My dogs are also comfortable eating raw meat and bone, so in theory I could hunt deer or rabbits and they could eat anything I didn’t, but know your resources and what your dog will or will not eat.

3: Purified water?

Your dog isn’t as likely to be affected by the NORMAL bacteria in streams and ponds the way us humans are, however water contaminated by large quantities feces or chemicals can be as much a potential issue for them as it is for us.  If your local off grid water source has the potential to become so contaminated you may want to consider how you’ll purify water for them.  

4: skills?

If you can train your dog to be RELIABLE off leash that is a huge help.  This means that you only have to call your dog once, MAYBE twice, to get them to return to you.  That they’ll stay in a reasonable heel position off leash on command, that they’ll keep a “stay” command off leash reliably.  In ALL conditions.  Neither of mine is off leash safe, and that means I’ll in an emergency I’ll have to be juggling leashes on top of everything else.  Also, a reliable “leave it” and/or “drop it” can save your dog’s life.  A dog who’ll load into the car off leash on command, AND who’ll leave the car off leash on command.  A reliable “quiet” command.  And maybe a reliable “pretend you’re a big aggressive dog” command.

5: what else?

Get your vet to show you how to properly wrap a bandage on a dog.  Dogs can’t tell you if you got it too tight and it might be cutting off circulation, so you need to KNOW.  Add some extra bandage type supplies to the first aid kit, specifically for the dog, consider specialty bandages such as the StopLik.  Know what human meds are safe to give your dog (and which ones AREN’T) and keep those in stock along with what doses to be used on your dogs.  Train your dog to be comfortable in a muzzle and keep one in stock for him.  YOU might know your dog would never bite, but even the best dog can react on instinct if they’re injured, and it’ll make emergency personnel much more comfortable if the injured animal is muzzled.  Consider training your dog to wear booties and stock them, so that in the event of alot of broken glass or other such footings you don’t have to worry about cut up feet.  If your dog is small enough to lift consider having a lifter style harness for them.  Traveling by boat?  Seriously consider a lifejacket, even for the dogs who love water, getting stranded a couple miles from shore is a long swim.  Is your dog big enough and strong enough to carry a pack and have a bug out location that requires a hike?  Consider having him carry some of his own supplies in a pack harness, but be aware that this requires time and training to get him to the point of being able to carry any real amount of stuff.  Extra leashes and collars, bare minimum a quick slip collar leash combo, should be in every vehicle, location, and bug out bag.  Copies of your dog’s rabies vaccination records bare minimum should be kept too.  Ideally copies of your dog’s entire medical file.  Consider also having a ICE specific to your pets, stating who besides you has the right to care for your dogs and make medical decisions for them if you’re not available, not only on file at your vets office, but also in your bug out bag and with any other animal supplies, along with any notes on required meds the dog might need.  

 

I’ve linked to a few products in the above post, some I personally own (in which case I bought them with my own money), some I know of by reviews, but I have received no kick back by linking to them.  I’m using them as examples of what I’m referring to, absolutely look around to figure out what’ll work for you!

Dogs and kids

Posted April 7, 2015 By Ruth

Just before Easter a newspaper in a town in Idaho posted a picture sent to them by a reader.  The photo hit their Facebook page Friday, and went out in Saturday’s paper.

If you’re part of a community of dog people on Facebook I’m sure you saw it.  A 2yr old toddler, who I’ll refer to as B, and a large dog I’ll call T.  The child’s bunny ears had been placed on the dog, and B was kissing the side of T’s nose.  The uproar was because of T’s expression.  Tight staring eyes, wrinkled face and nose, teeth bared, the dog himself clearly tense.

By Monday the paper had pulled the photo off their Facebook page, and printed a short article in response.  In the article were repeated statements by the mother detailing why she felt that everyone else was wrong and there was no danger to her child.  The paper even found a local veterinarian to lend credibility to the idea that the public was over reacting.

Don’t get me wrong.  Some of the responses were over reaction.  The calls for the mother to be reported to authorities were stupid and made it easy to lump all the responses into the “crazy” category.

 

But lets get some things straight.

 

Some dogs do appear to “smile”.  Its often a “submissive grin” and often means the dog thinks there may be a problem and he’s trying to appease (though not always), but its characterized by the lifting of lips in an otherwise “soft” face, and may even include the showing of some of the whites of the eyes, though usually they’re squinty.  Although a dog may bite after showing a submissive grin, they don’t usually.

However what T was displaying was an “agonistic grin”.  Tight eyes, wrinkled face, baring of teeth.  Although an agonistic grin doesn’t mean the dog is going to bite, it is far more likely than with a submissive grin.

 

Veterinarians ought be decent studies of dog behavior, just by virtue of the time they spend with them.  However that does not mean that they are.  And the one in the article who shrugged off the photo (assuming he was quoted correctly) appears to be particularly clueless.  Stating the dog didn’t appear to be skittish or aggressive in the photo so therefor there was no problem.

However dogs do not have to be skittish or aggressive in order to object to the way he’s being handled, and even the best dog can snap if pushed too far on a bad day.  Something that every vet ought to be aware of since they are in a situation to see a lot of very unhappy dogs.

 

The mother stated that T is a big loveable oaf who’d never harm her son.

But if you a search for “family dog bites child” you’ll find almost identical quotes from the parents in those cases too.

 

The mother stated that T is “regularly used” as a racetrack, a pillow, and a step-stool by her son, and although T is generally not happy he tolerates it.

Which tells me that this kiss on the face isn’t a once off thing, that the child is regularly allowed to treat the dog as if he’s an inanimate object whose feelings don’t matter.

 

The mother also states that T often makes that face “when his whiskers are touched, he doesn’t like it”.  And that “.05 seconds after the photo was snapped T got up, licked B’s face, shook off the ears and walked away”.

Look, dogs lick people for all sorts of reasons, but in this case, in this setting, that was a blatant “back off kid……”.  Never mind that she KNOWS that T doesn’t like having his whiskers touched, and yet has continued to touch his whiskers enough to shrug off T’s expression as normal, and to even allow her toddler to do so, to the point of allowing B to put his face in the line of fire.

 

Its enough to make me want to cry.  This is apparently a well trained and socialized dog who’s doing his best to be polite to the baby.  And his owner is essentially setting him up to bite her child.  Hopefully he won’t.  He’s a good dog who doesn’t deserve to be put down for his owner’s failure, never mind that no 2yr old deserves to be on the sharp end of it.

Please don’t do this to your dog, much less your child.  Please take the time to read over the couple links I’m going put at the end that detail the canine body language you should be watching for.  And please please please, teach your child proper dog manners, so that they won’t join the far to many children who are bitten by a “friendly” dog every year.

 

Why Supervising Isn’t Working

Learn to speak dog

Family Paws

The heartbreaking story of another mother who was sure her dog wouldn’t bite her child.

 

Updates

Posted April 6, 2015 By Ruth

We had a couple of absolutely lovely 60+ degree days last week.  I can finally access the garden again, and the snow in the yard is mostly gone except from a couple really shady spots.

Course, that rapid melt means that every single waterway has burst over its banks with no prior warning.  In many cases by a good 20 feet.  And of course the ground in our yard went from frozen solid to swamp in the same period.  

When I could finally access the garden again I was surprised to see quite a bit of green already.  It looks like the combination of insulating snow and black tires kept the garden warm enough that many of the annual flowers I planted last year (for color) survived the winter (the coldest one the area has ever had) and were getting ready to bloom!  Course, this means that every single weed survived too…..

Current 10 day forecast says we’re not supposed to dip below the freezing mark at all during that time period.  Though we’re going to be getting a fair bit of rain instead.  We don’t need more water at the moment, really.  The downside to that is that every single fruit tree in the region is about to start budding.  If we get a solid frost after this (which is entirely possible since normal last frost isn’t for another month at least for most of the area) its going to play havoc on the orchards.

I’m going to try growing broccoli again.  I’ve got it started in pots inside with an eye towards potentially planting it under row covers in a couple weeks.  Along with the Sugar Snap peas, radishes and some lettuce.  The tomatoes and most of the peppers are out in the greenhouse.

I found a local farm who’ll deliver a pickup load of well aged cow manure for cheap, course, the ground’s so wet she can’t drive the pickup right to the garden like I’d hoped to be able to do.  So we’ll be ferrying the lovely black dirt with hand-carts and the lawn tractor (if the lawn tractor doesn’t bog down in the mud anyway).  But it should do good things for my garden, so its worth it.

Arty’s enjoying the warmer temps, while Apollo is mourning the missing snow.  Arty has now completed 2 of the 3 required Qualifying runs to earn him his Barn Hunt Novice title.  Hopefully he’ll get that last Q later this month at a local trial.  We’ll be running Apollo for his Instinct title at the same trial, so wish me luck!

Yarn!

Posted March 26, 2015 By Ruth

So, for the last couple years I’ve been saving Apollo’s shed fur with an eye towards having it spun into yarn.  

At this point in the conversation most people who’ve never had interactions with a Tibetan Mastiff cringe at the thought of making smelly dog fur into yarn.  But TMs aren’t smelly dogs.  Right now Apollo hasn’t had a bath since the Nov show and I can only smell an odor on him if I get my nose right down into his fur.  And even then its not a “doggy odor”.  

Two years of collecting fur, trying to avoid the short stuff from his legs and shoulders (and missing out on the fluff that floated free while he was outside), got me a bit over two pounds of fluff to be spun.  Folks, if you ever run into someone who tells you their (non-giant breed short coated) dog loses pounds and pounds of fur every year feel free to laugh at them.

Over the weekend the lady who’s spinning for me (and yes, I’m paying her) let me know that she had five skeins done, and that she’d done not quite half of what I’d given her.

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Wow.  I wasn’t expecting to get that much yarn TOTAL out of that bag of fluff, never mind over two times that.  Admittedly its not a particularly bulky yarn, but it is two ply, so still…..

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A closeup in better light.  It turned out very pretty.

I might have to learn how to spin, if thats how much yarn I can get out of a single year’s shed.  Not sure my hands are up to it, but I think I’m going to have to try.

Since I’m going to have alot more yarn than I expected I decided to knit the first scarf on my double knit Knitting Board.

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Working on a loom of any kind is much easier on my hands than trying to knit using needles, even big chunky ones, so its going fairly quickly.  Can’t wait to see the finished product!

Killer dog…..

Posted March 21, 2015 By Ruth

Most recent article HERE.

Lets change this scenario around just a bit.  

Lets say Mr Wallace answered a knock on his front door, when he opened it the person on the other side swings at Mr Wallace, knocking him to the ground where the impact on his head knocks him out.  The intruder then continues to pummel Mr Wallace, kneeling over him.  If the dog had killed that intruder would it have been such a big upset?  Or would we be praising the dog for saving her owners life?

Not one of the articles I’ve seen on this situation give even a hint that this dog has caused problems before.  Usually when there’s a “dog attack” there’s SOMEONE who comes out of the woodwork to tell you how the dog threatened them last year.  But I’ve not seen a single comment to that effect.

This isn’t a case of a human aggressive dog who attacked a random visitor to her owners home.

This isn’t a case of bite inhibition gone wrong.

This is a case of a well bonded dog who saw her owner down, and then someone comes in and starts beating on the owners chest, likely kneeling over or even straddling the torso.  Not one account makes it sound like the dog attacked the neighbor the instant he walked in the door.  Everyone agrees that the neighbor had started CPR before the dog bit him.  Infact, based on every article I’ve read on it, I’ll bet the dog didn’t even go for the neighbor’s throat.  The death was most likely from blood loss from multiple attempts by the dog to grab and drag the neighbor away from her owner (which would look ALOT like a mauling by an unstable dog unfortunately).

This isn’t a killer dog.  And she won’t require much rehab to make her a stellar pet.

Unfortunately finding her a new home will likely be virtually impossible.

This one’s for you NH people.  I know there’s at least a couple of you who read here.

House Bill 0624 is going to modify the process of what happens when an animal is seized for abuse or the like.  I just did a quick scan of the text, but at least one problem jumped at me right away.

Apparently current process: your dog is seized for abuse, you go to court, and if you’re convicted you’re expected to pay for the costs of the care for the animal while it was in custody.

What they want to do: your dog is seized for abuse, you get handed a bill for the care of the animal before you even get to court, and if you can’t pay that bill you lose custody of the dog regardless of whether you end up convicted or not.  Cause you know, guilty till proven innocent or some such……

I can sympathize that caring for an animal, especially a sick or injured animal, while waiting for a case to go to court isn’t cheap and eats up the limited resources of shelters, but this isn’t the right solution either.

There have been SO MANY cases of reports of abuse that aren’t anywhere close to such.  People who see an animal with “an obvious health problem” where the animal is under the care of a vet for the condition and the owner is taking the appropriate steps to care for the animal.  And sometimes there isn’t a “health problem” at all beyond the reporter’s imagination and lack of knowledge of life.  

Its not bad enough that you’re spending alot of money on the vet bills and medications that your sick animal needs, but now, cause some idiot reported you for abuse and it went viral (which happens WAY TOO OFTEN cause people are fucking stupid), and the local ACO gave in to pressure, they seized your dog, so now you have to pay a ton of money in legal bills to get him back and clear your name……but now they want to  charge you for caring for the dog (which you were doing properly at home in the first place) and if you can’t pay that bill TOO you’re going to lose your dog no matter what the outcome of the court case……

Maryland folks, I’m being told that there’s a similar bill(s) pending in your state as well, I’ve not stopped to read them yet, but consider this a heads up you’ll want to check on!