Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mixing the canine cocktail

This is a typical array of the range of dog food
that goes into my canine cocktail.
When I talk to people about rescue work generally or about an individual foster dog, one of the questions that always comes up is "what kind of food do you feed?"  The short answer is "whatever I have," but here is a slightly longer explanation.

Food gets donated to me all the time, from individuals, organizations, and businesses, and I really appreciate it.  I feed 8-10 foster dogs at any given time and they consume about 40 pounds a week.  Shown here are the bags of food that went into the canine cocktail that I mixed up this morning.  Donated food varies widely in quality but I mix it together and come out with something pretty middle of the road and usable by most of the fosters.  I don't like to feed food with a lot of dyes in it because I once had a scare when I saw a very red pile of dog poop and thought someone was bleeding.  I can't feed a diet of strictly high-end, super nutritious, grain-free food, because not all dogs can tolerate it.  I get specialty food for seniors and overweight dogs, and puppy food too.  I can't depend on having a steady stream of a particular food so I don't want dogs getting used to that.  What I can depend on is constant supply of a mixed diet, so that's what we use.

I bought this at Tractor Supply.
It holds about 200 pounds of mixed food.
This was a great find on Craigslist.
Waterproof and rodent-proof are essential.
The mix is usually pretty consistent in quality
because of the variety that goes into it.  I save
some from the bottom of the barrel to mix in on
top of each new batch to make an easy transition.
Storing several hundred pounds of dog food was always a problem.  It needs to be accessible, which means being outside near the kennels, but kept dry and out of reach of rodents.  A couple years ago I found this big metal job box on Craigslist.  They are used for storing tools on construction sites.  It can hold 8 - 10 big bags of dry food and my supply of canned food.  For making and using the actual mix, I use a big, hard plastic bin with a securely fitting lid. 

This metal locker is the best thing I ever
brought home from the dump. It resides in the
shed and holds the three different dry foods
 fed to our own dogs.  It's dog-proof!
I do buy food for dogs with specific dietary problems and requirements, such as Hercules, in order to keep them on a constant and controlled diet.  That's usually just an issue with the occasional shepherd.  For most of the fosters, their only dietary preference is "more."  They happily consume my canine cocktail and ask for seconds. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Adoption event, Sunday, April 27th

Sunday I drove to Gainesville withi Herc, Maya, Trouble, and Rocky.  Pam got some good pics, Maya and Trouble got microchipped, and we may have an adopter for Trouble.  Not bad for a day that ended up being chilly and spitting rain.  Trouble met a small dog today and was fine with it.  Herc is fine with large dogs but not with small ones.  All four dogs were good and they all slept soundly on the way home. 




A meeting of small minds
Trouble, Rocky, and Maya

Trouble and Maya

Friday, April 26, 2013

First mow

It's not exactly the first time I've cut grass this year, but it was the first big pasture mow, with dogs. 

I started out with just Vince.  That old guy really runs.  In fact, his usual outdoor pace is a run.  If Vince is going somewhere, he's going in a hurry, don't ask me why.  He got a good run in while I mowed and he was ready to go back inside when I let him.

Next I took out Frank.  Frank is a VGSR shepherd but I haven't put him up for adoption just yet.  For the first week or so Frank was very wary and very growly, which made me very wary of him.  He settled down with me and then with Clay, but he will still growl if you try to make him do something he doesn't want to do.  Maya is a talker too, but she doesn't intimidate me.  Frank, on the other hand, has my respect.  He will definitely need an experienced handler, someone who will take a little time to gain his respect and trust and who won't be intimidated by his growl.  Frank knows some commands and he's smart, but he's also smart enough to get away with what he can.  I haven't really worked with him and that's what he needs, that's how trust and bonds are built.  He's a big shepherd and a good looking one. 

Anyway, Frank came out to the pasture but mostly was interested in other dogs on the other side of the fence.  It didn't seem that he really wanted to run around and explore a lot on his own.  He stuck pretty close to me but a safe distance from the mower. 


I brought out Riley the rottie and she livened things up.  She and Maya ran and barked at each other through the fence.  Frank mostly followed Riley around and did whatever she did.  Riley finally started moving around the pasture a bit more and Frank was always about half a dog behind.

None of our own dogs got out there today, except for Vince.  Cabell and Bremo are really too old for pasture romps.  Gigi can't because of her elbow.  Zachary just wants to be with Clay.  Trooper loves to get out there and run, but he obsessively runs the front fence line chasing every car that passes by on the road.  That drives me crazy and I don't want Maya picking that up from him, so neither of them got out there today.

Sunday is an adoption event in Gainesville.  I'm taking Trouble, Maya, Hercules, and Rocky. 

Riley (front) and Frank (rear)

Frank following Riley

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trooper's stock soars

Trooper giving my mother his paw.
Smart money would have bought into Trooper's stock early, like I did.  We thought it had reached an all-time high when he rehabilitated Maya, but we were wrong.  This past week it reached new heights when he befriended my mother.  First he stopped barking at her when he was outside, once he realized she was going to be around here regularly.  Then we let him inside to check her out, first on a leash.  They shared space casually for a few days and then he started seeking her out in the guest room when he went upstairs.  She's quite fond of him too.  Trooper now has four human friends, Clay and me, my mother, and Teresa who boards him when we go away.
A hummingbird at one of my four feeders
My mother headed back to Kansas today.  We had a great visit as we always do.  She cleaned out my container garden and we bought plants and replanted everything over the past week.  I'm very glad to have that done and now I need to turn my full attention to mowing grass for a few days. 

There seems to be a rash of dog dumpers lately.  I've been employing my primary coping mechanism--avoidance.  But I need to make some calls.  Unfortunately, I can't take in any more right now.  I need to be concentrating on adoptions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Old friends

This is an old picture of Teddy and Cooper
from their time here as foster dogs.  It's one of my
favorite pics of them because it shows their bond.
I have a few human friends that go back a ways, a couple from Salina, a couple from college, a couple from my early years on the east coast.  Most of my human friends are of recent origin, not many I'd call "old friends."  Among canines, however, I have many that I'd consider to be old friends.  The time frame is compressed among dogs, of course, but also it doesn't take as long to develop the bond and the intimacy required to achieve "old friend" status with a dog.  Two old friends came today for about a two week stay.

Cooper today.  He looks great.
Teddy is still shy and scared, wouldn't approach me,
but he's fine as long as Cooper is around.
Teddy and Cooper are a great pair of dogs.  Teddy is sweet, but is so shy and withdrawn that I really thought he had canine autism if there is such a thing and I don't know why there wouldn't be.  Cooper is Mr. Sociable, friendly and outgoing, and he became Teddy's companion and service dog in a very real sense.  I had them both here as fosters and they were both ultimately adopted by the same person.  Teddy always loved Cooper and stuck by him closely.  That helped when he got adopted because he followed Cooper into the house when he wouldn't otherwise come on his own.  Cooper can now round up Teddy when he needs to come in.  They make an amazing pair of dogs.  Although Cooper would have been fine on his own or with another dog, he has given Teddy a life that Teddy could never have achieved on his own.
Cooper was very happy with his going away present.
Teddy must be worried, but he's in a familiar place and
he still has Cooper around for security.  He will be fine.
I set them up in the kennel where Sparky had been.  Sparky moved over with Riley a couple weeks ago.  Teddy and Cooper have a big space to themselves, the shed for shelter, and a refrigerator to store the raw chicken that they get to supplement their Sammy Snacks dog food.  They are well fed, well cared for dogs.  They even got two big, raw, meaty beef bones as a going away present. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Visiting, touring, gardening

Rottweilers in Williamsburg
My mother has been visiting since last Tuesday.  She heads back on Kansas on Thursday.  We've been pretty busy, trying to make the most of our time together, but mostly just spending time together. 

She cleaned out all the pots in my container garden, we've been shopping for plants, and doing some planting when it's warm enough.  We spent the weekend in Williamsburg and had a great time.  Today we went to Ashlawn-Highland.  We had been both places before but it had been several years in the case of Ashlawn and many years in the case of Williamsburg. 

The label for the new Scottish Ale.
It's got a high alcohol content, so we
called it the Big Hairy Beast.
Deborah drew a Scottish Deerhound,
brilliantly, as usual.

We've eaten out a few times and I've been cooking (crabcakes, steaks, scallops, and breakfast casserole) all stuff that my mother likes.  I'm going to make biscuits and gravy and corned beef hash tomorrow morning and we'll eat out again tomorrow night with Clay and his mother.  It hasn't been a great week for my new plant-based diet, but I've been eating more reasonable portions, coming to terms with the fact that at 50-something, I can no longer eat like a 20-something.  We have lots of leftovers.

That's a hummingbird approaching one of
the feeders on our front porch.
Mother has tried our home brews and likes them.  Today we sampled the two newest, the new version of the Redbone ale, and our new Scottish ale, the Big Hairy Beast.  They need to sit in the bottles for another week but I think they will both be pretty good. 

I've been keeping up with work, somehow, even without taking any days off. 

Trooper has become my mother's friend. He goes up to her for petting and she thinks he's pretty wonderful. She's right, of course.

I was more cautious than my mother but Trooper came through like, well, like a trooper.
He seems have accepted her as part of the family now.  It just takes a little time with him.
He's kind of like me; we don't like new people.

Ashlawn-Highland has got to be the most modest presidential home I've ever visited.
It does have some really wonderful furnishings inside, however, and about 70% of the
furnishings are original pieces owned by Monroe.

These two pictures show the contrast between the homes of an English colonial governor
and an American president, just a few decades later.

Rear view of the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, taken from the gardens.
If you love history, Williamsburg is a fascinating place.
If you don't love history, you should.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meeting my mother

Vince can be picky about the people he likes,
but he took to her right away.
Bremo likes anyone with a free hand
available for petting.
My mother has come to visit for a week or so.  We have several dogs around that she is meeting for the first time and everyone has been fine.  She had met Trooper before but this time we are making an effort to gain his acceptance.  So far, so good.  By the end of the day he was no longer barking at her every time he saw her outside (he's been in the dog yard all day).  This evening I brought him in, leashed, and let him sniff her and get acquainted.  She was able to look at him at close distances without eliciting his fear aggression response, but I still had him on a short leash.  He wants to know who she is and what she's doing here, but he seems to be accepting her presence in the household. 

Trooper checking her out from across the table.

We let Trooper watch as Bremo
demonstrated how to get what
you want from new people.
Trooper watches intently, but he relaxed around her in the house.
Still, we are taking it slow.

Trooper and Trouble. He's looking at me, she's looking at him.
If he can do for shy Trouble what he did for the shy and scared Maya,
Trooper will be known as Saint Trooper the miracle worker. 
His stock is at an all time high already.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Better living through chemistry

Last week I finally took Hercules to the vet for more extensive blood work to get to the bottom of his problems.  All the basic blood indicators were normal, he's essentially healthy.  But we sent a sample off for more indepth testing.  The results showed that he does indeed have EPI, which comes as no surprise.  He had improved and put on weight when I had him on the supplement before.  The tests also showed a B-vitamin deficiency, so he's getting weekly injections now, which will taper down to monthly over the course of the summer.  The tests also showed an overgrowth of bacteria in his gut so he's getting metronidazole to control that.  Given the fungal infection in his ears and his skin problems, I think a food allergy is probably still a real possibility so he will stay on the limited ingredient diet, at least for now. 

I need to order the enzyme supplement to treat the EPI, but then he should have everything needed to put on weight and shape up into the dog he can be.  Once it's just a maintenance issue, it shouldn't be a really big hindrance to getting him adopted.  Anyone who knows shepherds should know that they come with some issues, just like they come with a ton of hair. 

This is the new batch
of Redbone Ale.
Our other recent chemistry experience was another round of beer making.  We bottled up both the red ale and the scotch ale this past weekend and moved the new blond ale into the carboy for the secondary fermentation stage.
The Scotch Ale actually tastes
a bit like Scotch.  My mother
should like it.
This new one, like Cabell,
is the color of honey.
We tasted both beers being bottled and they are both good.  The red ale is different from the first round of Redbone that we made because this one was made from whole grains rather than canned liquid malt, so it's a little different, but I think it will be good.  The scotch ale is really strong and will live up to his name of the Big Hairy Beast.  The new blond ale is the color of Cabell. 

And of course, Maya and Trooper have their own form of chemistry.