Monday, December 29, 2014

Pet Blogger Gift Exchange

This may be my first year participating but this is the third year for the Annual Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange hosted by Something Wagging This Way Comes.  We're not exchanging physical gifts, we're exchanging good vibes, encouragement and friendship!

We were paired up with DZ's Adventures, which is just about the most perfect match that could have been made!  The blog features Dante and Ziva, two bully breed dogs who live in rainy Eugene, Oregon.  Dante and Ziva's owner (and blog writer) is passionate about advocating for bully breeds and busting stereotypes.  I LOVE her History of Bully Breeds post, so much great info there!

One thing that I am struck with when reading this blog is how active outdoors this family is with their dogs.  Hiking (in some rather tough terrain), snow shoeing and joring, it's inspiring and makes me want to get out there with my own dogs.  But then I look outside and it is FREEZING COLD!  Come spring, I have something to aspire to!
DZ Dog Mom is also very in tune with her pups and uses positive methods to help solve any problems that arise.  Ziva can be selectively reactive in certain situations.  DZ Dog Mom's approach of teaching impulse control using clicker training makes SO much more sense than the more common (at least around here) stern shouting, NILF (Nothing In Life is Free) and "pack leader" type domination training.  She also wants to start agility training with her, which will only build more focus and relationship and help even more with reactivity.  Good thinking!
DZ's Adventures is a great blog for those who like reading Bully Breed success stories, watching videos of dogs getting down and having fun in nature and being inspired to take a proactive approach to dog behavior.  I can't wait to hear what these guys get up to next! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Season Greetings

From Taco and Dot.

And best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

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.