Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beer and bears

Rocky, a/k/a Baby Bear
Last weekend we brewed up a very strong Scottish ale.  The wort was very sweet so we know it has the potential to turn into a strong beer with a high alcohol content.  The cooking releases starches from the grain, which yeast consume in the fermentation process producing alcohol as their by-product.  The fermentation usually starts within 24 hours and produces a nice bubbling in the vapor lock.  It seems that we added too much yeast, which combined with the fact that we used a lot of grain caused the fermentation to get out of hand.  When it began bubbling out of the top on Monday afternoon, I moved it into the shower stall of guest bathroom because it looked like it was going to overflow. 
That's a beer with a head on it.

That move was certainly my best idea of the day and probably the best of the week, month, or maybe even of the year to date.  We left it in there when we went out and returned to find that the outlet had clogged and the build up of pressure had caused the top to blow off the fermentation bucket.  Fortunately, all the mess was contained in the shower stall.  We had a good laugh about it, but we might not have been laughing as much if it had exploded all over the office.  Lesson learned.

Riley and Rocky, Momma Bear and Baby Bear


Rocky eating
Tuesday was a rainy, crappy, depressing day.  My van was in the shop (inspection and brakes), so all I could do was stay at home and work.  Everyone was hunkered down, as bored as I was.  Wednesday I was similarly stuck at home but at least the sun was shining again.  I got a few pics of the fosters playing in the dog yard.

Barack and Augie
I've taken to calling the new little rottie mix, Baby Bear rather than Rocky, and I'm calling Riley Mama Bear because I usually couldn't remember Riley anyway.  We don't have a Papa Bear rottweiler around here at the moment, but that's ok, although it would make for a great looking set of dogs.

Riley and Herc
Booty meeting Rocky
Rocky a/k/a Baby Bear, is a cute and sweet little thing.  He looks just like a rottweiler but in miniature.  He gets along fine generally with the other dogs, but he had a rumble with one of the males, probably Augie, one day last week.  He has a bit of a Napoleon complex when he meets other male dogs, which caused me to question his status as a neutered dog.  When I introduced him to Trooper he copped an attitude that Trooper didn't care for and that's when I decided to investigate.  I checked underneath and sure enough, he's not neutered. 

Hercules and his ball
I've never seen a rottweiler with a low hanging scrotum.  They carry their equipment high and tight.  Consequently, a cursory glance often causes people to say they are neutered when in fact they are not.  This is the second "neutered" male rottie I've taken in that actually had intact, fully functioning testicles.  That's something I'll need to get taken care of next week.

He's a sweet boy, looks like a teddy bear, and after he's neutered he will be.

All the fosters want to play with Trooper.  Sometimes he wishes I'd just let him go back inside.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brewing and building

The beers we've made so far were from
 kit, and the malt was a liquid from a can.
This time we made it from scratch,
using malted barley grain.
I'm so glad I didn't make the drive up to Gainesville today.  Sunday was a beautiful day and it would have been good for an adoption event, but I didn't really have any serious prospects for my fosters and I really needed the day at home. 

Booty jumped the dog yard fence
when we first put him out this morning.
But after I put him back, he stayed in
for the rest of the day.
We started pretty early in the morning and finished just before dark, spending the entire day outdoors.  Clay brewed up another batch of beer and I built another section of boardwalk.  We did a number of other projects as well. 

Today was the debut of our
Plott Hound Porter.
I was quite pleased with it, very
smooth, very drinkable dark beer.

We even convinced Gigi to spend some time
outdoors today.  It really was a nice day.

Here's the old and new section of boardwalk.
All the muddy area is now covered.
I still have two more 10' sections to build to
reach the dog yard so no one gets muddy feet.

Clay sampling the first run off the
grains.  It was very sweet, which
will turn into a very strong beer.
I built the frame for the third
section of boardwalk too.

Clay and Lady
Bremo still enjoys being outside on a pretty day.
Cabell does his business and goes back indoors.

Trooper on duty

This brew will be a scottish ale, and a pretty
strong one.  I'm not sure yet what we'll call it.

Trooper up close

Friday, February 22, 2013

This and that

This is a pre-adoption pic of Lana,
but I've heard from her new home,
they love her and she's going well.
I'm glad it's Friday, but I only accomplished about a third of what I wanted and needed to do this week.  That's pretty much par, I guess.  Here's a few updates from the mail and pics I took yesterday when the sun was out. 

Former foster Timber proving me wrong on the
whole dog/cat thing.  But it took them a year to
get to this point.  Most people expect it overnight.
The big news is that I got a call about Maya yesterday and I saw her, not far from home, but still not inclined to be caught.  I saw her eating out of trash cans put out for today's pickup.  I guess that's how she's been surviving.  She's smarter than I credited her as being.  Still no closer to getting her back really, but at least she's still alive so there's a chance. 

Riley and Barack
She's gaining weight.
They are very active together.
Hercules, Riley, and Barack

I think the enzyme and the raw food are doing
the trick for Herc's weight/digestion problem.

The new guy, Rocky.
Augie would be great for a single man who
wants a laid back dog.  But no kids, none, ever.
I recently received this pic of former foster Samson, adopted three years ago.
My memory is such that I couldn't even tell you which dog is Samson at this point.
But it doesn't matter.  They both look happy and content in an obviously great home.
Come to think of it, I think Samson is the one on the left with the dark face,
the dog I rode with when doing census work, which was about three years ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mark of the beast

Any dog who has undergone treatment for heartworms wears "the mark."  It's the two spots on their back that they shave down to the skin for the injections.  Booty's marks are smaller than many I've seen, but big or small, it's a shaved patch that will take some time to grow back in.  Fortunately, bearing the mark indicates that the beast has been exorcised, or at least the process is underway.  Booty is crated in my office and is on restricted activity for a month. 

He spent Monday night at the vet's office and I picked him up on Tuesday afternoon.  He's sore because the injections go deep and are quite painful.  He was feeling bad enough that he didn't want to eat Tuesday evening, but by Wednesday morning he was back to eating.  He's getting canned food mixed with dry for now, mostly because he's taking five pills (two doxycycline, two cephalexin, and one carprofen, the latter being for pain).

Booty is unneutered and he will lift his leg on anything that stands still (including the vet when we went in for the initial visit).  But he hasn't done so in the house and he's a perfect gentlemen in his crate, at least for now.  He knows that the middle crate is his and he goes directly to it when he comes inside.  I still need to leash him to get him out of the crate to go outside but at least he puts himself up when he comes back into the house. 

He's not bothered by the other household dogs and they don't seem to mind him, even though he's still an intact male.

I had to cut his old collar off of him today but he was quite calm and cooperative through the process.  He got a good brushing of his neck after I got the old one removed and then got a nice new collar with new tags evidencing his new life as a VGSR dog.

Someone asked earlier what he is.  He's a German Shepherd Dog, or at least he appears to be, but he's a bi-color, which gives him a somewhat atypical look for the breed.  He weighed in at 80 pounds, which surprised me a bit.  He's not that tall, but he's got a pretty solid build. 

From everything I've seen so far, he's a good dog. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Last class

Gigi's academic career probably came to a close tonight.  It was her last class, and I'm not sure she learned a lot of obedience stuff (mostly because I didn't work on it with her).  However, she did learn that there is a world away from home, she learned to trust strangers a bit more, she gained a bit of self confidence in new situations, and she learned that she can trust me when she's uncertain.  All valuable lessons and that's really what we wanted to get out of the class.

Gigi had learned all she really needed to know in this life long before class.  I hate to say it, but she learned that I'm a soft touch, easily manipulated to get anything she wants.  She doesn't have to obey or be sociable or do stuff.  She doesn't have a job and she doesn't have to babysit the foster dogs.  The female dog is an exalted position in our house, Gypsy made it so and every female dog who has followed her has benefitted from that.  Gigi stepped into a sweet spot when she landed here and all she has to do is act like she deserves it.  She learned to do that pretty well.

When another dog is laying in a spot that she wants she comes up and just stands over them and stares.  Either she communicates telepathically or they don't like being stared at because it doesn't take long before they get up and give her the spot.  She uses the same technique on me.  She gets as high as possible--apparently her powers are directly correlated with her height.  She just stares at me and then it's clearly my job to figure out what she wants and to do it for her. 

Fortunately, she doesn't ask for much. 

Here are a few more pics from tonight's class.

Bandit (rear) and Mickey (front)
Both very good in class
Nikki, a very smart little cattle dog

She's got better graduation pics than my own,
and I had three tries--high school, college, and law school.

The girl can wear clothes; she looks good in anything.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moving on

Last week was pretty much consumed by looking for and worrying about Maya.  Sightings of the dog were pretty frequent for a while, but now there have been none since early on Friday.  I would go out when I got a call, and saw her myself a few times, only to lose her when she would run off into the woods.  Given her inclination to run along the roadway, I can only assume that this ended badly for her.  I should have left her in the shelter.  She was sure to be euthanized there so I figured it was worth a chance, but at least it would have been a more merciful end.  The last couple of days I've just been driving the stretches of road where she had been seen.  On Sunday I even stopped to investigate a buzzard eating something in a field not far from the road.  I can't do it any more.  I can't continue to tear myself up over it; I can't jeopardize my job; and, as it was pointed out to me, there's a lot of other dogs who depend on me.  So I've got to live with the fact that I couldn't help her, I may never know what became of her, and just move on. 

Monday morning I took Booty to the vet for his heartworm treatment.  He's been good around here, very good in a crate, and he's ok in the center kennel and doesn't try to escape, at least if I leave him with some other dogs for company.  The worst thing about him is his submissive urination.  You have to be real calm getting him on a leash to get him outdoors. 

Hercules and Riley made the drive to the vet with Booty on Monday morning.  They were just along to get weighed, however.  Herc is looking good and is up to almost 74 lbs.  Riley was about the same 68 lbs. that she was at the last weigh in.  She's getting the pancreatic enzyme now and she's getting enough food to gain weight, so I'm not sure what her problem is.  I'm going to start feeding her the raw chicken backs that Hercules is enjoying and see if that makes a difference.   

I think Lady needs to be seen by the vet again soon.  She has licked up two hot spots and is wearing the cone again.  She's not happy about that and it makes her rather grouchy.  It seems that she's just licking the most convenient spot on her abdomen (one spot on each side, depending on what side she's laying on).  I'm a little concerned that the licking is due to internal pain or discomfort. 

I had Monday off from work so I made a couple trips to Lowe's for lumber to continue my boardwalk out the dog yard.  On the way back from the second trip to stopped by the Fluvanna SPCA and brought home Rocky. 

He's a little rottie mix, even smaller than Riley.  He looks like a teddy bear. 

Rocky was owned by an elderly couple who kept him in an outdoor pen and then gave him up when they moved.  But he was already neutered and he's now been vaccinated.  He has met all the other fosters and is fine with them all.  Seems like a sweet boy. 

It was a sunny day with no wind, a really nice day.  I even managed to convince Gigi to stay outside with me for a while.  She kept an eye on my building project. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beer is here

So, the labels may be better than the beer.  I choose wine based on the label, maybe the same principle should apply to beer.  Don't get me wrong, the beer is good, but I think you have to agree that the labels are awesome.

Clay and I are both pretty much completely right-brained with no artistic ability whatsoever.  Clay's father was an artist and Clay inherited a lot of his characteristics, but the artistic genes all went to his brother.  When I was a kid I sent away one of those "art tests" where you draw the pirate head and they try to hook you into their program in order to take your money.  Even they sent me a rejection saying, essentially, "We hope you have talents in other areas."  (I'm still looking for them.)

We have a friend, however, who does this graphic design work for a living.  She has even designed the logo and label for an actual commercially brewed beer.  We came up with the names and she did the rest.  I offered her all the stock she wanted in the brewery.  She can design a stock certificate and print as much of that as she wants.  Obviously, we owe her some beer.  By the way, she has a rescued Plott Hound (Mojo), so I'm guessing that was one easy.

She has done these two so far and these are the only two beers we have in bottles at this point anyway.  The third beer is in the fermenter right now, it's an English Special Bitter or ESB.  We will be calling it English Setter Bitter.  I can't wait for one that will call for a shepherd or a rottie. 

I'm sure that we are not the first or last home brewers to name their beer after dogs, but I would bet that we've got some of the best dog beer labels.