Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY Orthopedic Pet Beds

Dot is now around 6 and before she got much older, I wanted to make sure we have comfy places to lay down.  The dogs are crated at night so I also wanted to make sure the beds they were on were as comfortable as possible as she ages.
Knowing that I wanted to scatter them around the house (which is mostly hardwood floors), I needed quite a few.  I am very frugal and even the cheapest orthopedic pet beds are kind of pricey when I know they are just foam covered in a little fabric. 
 My solution:
Buy an orthopedic foam mattress pad, cut it to size and make my own covers.  I bought my mattress pad from Walmart, and had it shipped to the store for free to save on shipping.  With some creative cutting, I got five medium-sized dog beds out of a twin mattress pad.  I had the fleece that I used to sew the covers on hand, but even if you had to include the fabric cost, I got five dog beds for under $50.  A BARGAIN when one can easily cost that much!
My covers are not zippered.  I make them the same way you would make a decorative pillow slipcover, with overlapping flaps in the back so the fleece covers slip on and off easily for washing.
The dogs really like them!  When they are hanging out in either my crafting room or my husband's office, they will almost always choose to lay on a bed rather than the wood floor (can you blame them?).  And in some rooms where we have blankets on the floor, they much prefer these beds over a plain blanket.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Therapy Dog Dot part 2

Dot had her very first Therapy Dog visit last week at our local University. During finals week, they schedule Therapy dogs to de-stress the students in the libraries around campus. (This is one of our ten supervised visits so our regional coordinator was with us the whole time.)
Dot greeted well over 100 students, who petted, kissed, photographed and complimented her.
We were scheduled to be there for one hour but just after 45 minutes of non-stop attention, Dot started to tell me she was ready to call it a day. Luckily the large horde was starting to disperse and we had smaller groups to deal with near the end.
When she was ready to go home, she got up on a chair and looked at me like "Shoof, what a day!"  She really enjoyed her time with everyone but I was glad I had only signed up for one hour and not two.  I think the large amounts of people demanded a lot from Dot, she was "working" at visiting everyone and giving everyone attention non-stop.  I learned a lot on this first visit.  Next time I will give her an outside break away from everyone halfway through.  And I like that she decided a chair would be a good safe place to retreat to, I think I will always make sure we have an empty chair nearby so she can always know she has a spot where she can get away from all the hands.
Two other (more experienced) Therapy Dogs were at the library that day. Lilly the Goldendoodle.
And Argus the Rottweiler.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Therapy Dog Dot part 1

I made Dot her own vest in her colors!
Dot and I just finished up taking a Therapy Dog Prep Class.  We practiced all kinds of things like passing by treats on the ground, greeting people in wheelchairs, ignoring loud and obnoxious people and putting up with clumsy petting.  Most of the people in our class will be testing with Pet Partners (Delta) but I investigated other organizations in our area.  We have several options:

Pet Partners (formerly Delta)-The local evaluator is a member of our Dog Training Club so this is most handy.  This organization requires you to take on online course before you can take the in person test with your dog.  I was not impressed with their website or the online course layout.  Their test is extensive and you are required to re-test every 2 years, which I think is a brilliant idea.  But it is also a bit pricey once you factor in the online course, the test and registration fees.

Therapy Dogs International (TDI)-This organization is a bit polarizing.  If you join, they do not allow you to be part of ANY other organization including local groups.  We have a nearby evaluator and their testing process seems straightforward.  This is in my top two.  Some local teams are registered with them because Pet Partners does not allow you to feed your dog a raw diet and TDI does.  Dot passed the TDI test recently and even though I may not end up sending in her forms, I found it comforting that we were deemed capable by this prestigious organization.

Love on a Leash (LOAL)-This was one I had not heard of before but someone in a nearby town is starting a local chapter.  Right now they only have cats in the local group and are interested in getting dogs involved too.  However, their test is very basic and can be performed by any CGC evaluator.  After your test, you are required to do 10 supervised visits which I think is great, but also seems slightly difficult to coordinate.  This is in my top two.

Therapy Dogs Incorporated (TDInc.)-According to their website, we have a local evaluator in a nearby town but after many attempts, I was not able to get in touch with her.  So much for that option.

Is your dog registered as a therapy dog?  Next week I'll post about Dot's very first therapy visit experience!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TD/TDX at Middle Fork

Our dog training club holds a TD/TDX test each December.  This year it was a bit larger than usual because we had THREE judges (one apprentice) so we had four TD (Tracking Dog) tracks and five TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) tracks. 
Gorgeous weekend for tracking.  This is at around 7 am, just a bit frosty but you can see the sun is coming out!
I laid a TDX track and crosstracks on another TDX with AWESOME outcomes!  The dog who ran my track passed!  And the dog that ran the track that I laid crosstrack for passed!  I was successfully stinky enough and then not stinky at all!
HUGE congrats to Ruby and her handler!  They drove quite a ways for this test and it was worth it!  I highly encourage anyone interested in tracking to volunteer at tests, it is an awesome way to learn and it takes a village to run a tracking test.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fixing Dot's Ear Infections

Dot's adorable ears also cause some troubles.
Dot has been with our family for almost 2 years now.  Like a lot of drop-eared dogs, she suffers from ear infections.  Before we adopted her, her foster mom struggled with her ear infections.  She switched her to grain-free food which helped a little but when we adopted her she still had yeasty, itchy ears.  She would scratch at them until they were red and bleeding and scabbed.  The ointment from the vet didn't even make a dent in the infection, I was constantly cleaning her ears and was looking for a cure.
Sometimes Dot likes to air out her ears.
I found one in an article in Whole Dog Journal!  Boric Acid Powder, which I purchased from the Walmart pharmacy.  Cheap and easy to find.  Easy to apply too, just dab some powder onto a cotton swab and swab it around in the ear, being careful not to get it anywhere hear eyes, nose and mouth.

Dot's ears cleared up and she has not had itchy, red, bleeding ears since!  I apply a little boric acid powder every month or so when I clean her ears out just to keep it from recurring.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Card Pictures

Holiday portrait time!  The cat didn't make it into the picture this year since we went to a portrait event at church and it was hard enough to get two dogs to pose for a happy family picture.  In the top picture, Taco is balanced on a wobbly pedestal table, hence his unsure glance.  Dot is thinking "What on earth is going on, why am I on mom's lap?"  Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I collect turkeys year round but they only get to come out during November!  Here is this year's display, spreading the Thanksgiving cheer!

And these two clowns are ready for Christmas season!  I need to get to work on their presents for this year or they will be sad little elves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tooth Gel Show-Down

Let the games begin!  I have two brands of doggy oral care gel and we'll be using each one every day for 30 days.

First up, PetzLive Oral Care Gel with Wild Salmon Oil.  I bought this gel before I knew Dot was allergic to fish.  This gel helped me figure that out, in a horrible, disgusting way!  For that reason, Taco will be the test dog for this brand.  Note that they make a version without salmon oil but I thought the dogs would prefer the taste of this one.  Despite it having salmon oil high on the ingredient list, it smells strongly of mint and nothing like fish.  And Taco started out hating it with a passion, bucking like a bronco to get away from the highly-minty smell and taste.  But he's over it now, I just catch him in the evening when he's sleepy on my lap and apply it with my finger.

Taco's before picture:
You can see Taco is still young but he is starting to accumulate some tartar.
And the opponent, TropiClean Clean Teeth is allowing me to test out this product free of charge so thanks Chewy!  This gel also smells of mint, but a little less potent than PetzLife.  The bottle of gel also came with a free sample of their Fresh Breath + Plus Pre Biotic Digestive Support Dental Dog Treat which I was truly surprised to see are completely grain free!  Dot doesn't mind this gel at all, after I apply it with my finger she licks her teeth and doesn't act like it is a horrible punishment.

Dot's before picture:
At 6 years old and never having had a cleaning, Dot's teeth are much worse than Taco's.  The tartar is caked and touching her gumline.
 We'll see you back in one month with after pictures.  Will we be able to see a difference?  If not, Dot is certainly due for a dental at the vet!

Disclosure: provided me with one TropiClean Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel Kit to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs'.  :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Last AKC Trial of 2014

Wow, Dot had a rockstar weekend!  DTCCU hosted two trials on Saturday and one on Sunday and she rocked it!
On Saturday she earned her Graduate Novice title with a second place.  Then in Saturday's second trial she got her first Open A leg with another second place!  This was attempt number 8 at Open A but I had a good feeling about her, her attitude has been awesome and only getting better.  She is confident in all the exercises and the last little wrinkle to iron out was her habit of going down on the sit but with some expert positioning she stuck it out like a pro.

On Sunday she did it again and earned her SECOND Open A leg and first place!  So proud of her, one more to go and she'll get that CDX!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Walk

I love a leisurely walk with a canine companion.  I love fresh air and seeing everyone's yard changing from spring to summer to fall.  I love seeing holiday decorations go up and stopping to chat with neighbors and stopping to chat with my own dog sometimes, as we wait for a car to pass.

When we adopted Taco, I had visions of tandem walks.  People would marvel from their cars at how well behaved they both were, how pleasantly I was able to walk two dogs at once.  What a happy family, out for an evening stroll.  Oh my, how far from reality!

I knew Taco would need to be walked separately at first, to learn leash manners on his own.  So we did, and he did and then it was time for two dogs at once.  And it was a disaster.  I hated it, it stressed me out and soon I avoided walks altogether.  I missed being outside, the fresh air, the invigorating pace of a walk with long legged dogs.  But I hated the management it took and for some reason I was devoted to the idea of walking both dogs at once.

Our main issue is that our dogs have VASTLY different ideas of what a walk is about.  They have different goals and those goals directly conflict with each other.

Dot is all about movement.  She wants to trot fast the entire time, her goal is to get to see as MANY trees and squirrels and birds as possible and as soon as she sees one she is on to the next.  She does not want to stop, chat, sniff, or dilly-dally.  She wants to MOVE FORWARD at all times.

Taco wants to stop and sniff and pee on every bush, lamppost and fire hydrant.  He wants to check out who has been there previously, what kind of moss is growing on this tree and what the leaves from that tree taste like.  He is happy to stop and take it all in, then move on at a relatively relaxed pace so he doesn't miss the next opportunity to check things out.

As you can imagine, trying to walk a dog who wants to stop every 30 seconds and a dog that NEVER wants to stop at the same time just isn't in the cards.  And I finally realized this thanks to one of my DogVacay clients.  Chelle is an older girl who can still move like a puppy!
This is the best picture I have of Chelle on a walk because she also likes to move!
When I walk Chelle, it is nothing but pleasant.  It is relaxing and energizing at the same time.  It's like moving meditation and the reason for that is, there is no stress or management or trying or negotiating.  Only walking.  And I realized I could have this experience every day with my own dogs.  One at a time!

My dogs have different goals, so walks with each of them are different.  Walking Dot is like walking with someone who has to get downtown to a meeting in 5 minutes, but they are happy to chat with you as long as you walk and talk.  She is a power-walker (not a power puller, just happiest going at a nice fast pace), she's going places and you can come too if you can keep up!

Walking Taco is all about noticing the little things.  What's that bug on the sidewalk?  Who's across the street?  Can we go check out that bush?  And that one?  And that one?  There is some trash here in the gutter!  Taco is a master of schmoozing with passersby and gets the most compliments.

They both have their merits and now that I have given up my unnecessary obsession with walking them at the same time, instead of dreading walks and getting out less and less, I can enjoy each of them separately and make it out for a walk each and every day!