Thursday, January 30, 2014

Charming Charlie

Charlie had been neutered and vaccinated before I got him, but he didn't have a heartworm test so today we went to the vet for a basic exam and heartworm test. The visit was more telling about Charlie's personality than his health, which was basically fine. He's a youngish dog, probably 2-3 years old. He was good with the vet and the vet techs, making for an easy blood draw and exam.

He's got that rottweiler charm to him and it really showed when he was around people. Here at home as one of many dogs, it is hard for him to shine, but one-on-one he's really sweet and charming.

He tested positive for Lyme but he's asymptomatic so we are not going to treat for it. Everything else checked out fine.

Gigi came along for a weigh in and she had gained four pounds, which she needed. I've got her on a new food and supplement routine that she seems to be tolerating very well and she's picking up weight. I got on the scale myself and I was down 10 pounds from my last doctor's visit, which pleased me greatly. Even allowing for a discrepancy between the scales at my doctor's office vs. the vet, at least it shows movement in the right direction. I need to stick to the diet and exercise program because I need to drop another 10-15 pounds at least.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A hundred miles

Sparky playing in the new snow.
According to the Mapmywalk app on my iPhone, today I passed the 100 mile mark for the month of January, 103.75 miles to be precise, since the first of the year.

Yesterday Sparky and I did about three miles on the trails just before dark, at a pretty fast pace. We had about an inch or so of snow overnight, our first measurable snowfall of the year and I'd be ok if it's the last. Today I took Ochie out and we did over 5.5 miles, at a much more leisurely pace over the new snow. The sun was shining and it was a pretty day, although we were barely moving fast enough to stay warm.

Maya and Trooper eating
Vince, waiting for his food
Gigi is not a snow dog.
I've got a vet appointment tomorrow afternoon where I'll weigh in and find out if all this exercise is resulting in any weight loss. I started walking this fall when the ticks were gone so it was safe to go into the woods.  I needed some exercise when I was no longer mowing constantly. I went to the doctor earlier this month and was pretty disappointed with my weight then. Although I had still lost 20 pounds from the same time a year ago, I was stalled, and had actually been gaining some back from where I had been a couple months before that. He told me to keep walking and to cut 500 calories a day from my diet. I refuse to count calories and I told him so, but I have cut out a lot of eating. Basically I'm about 3/4ths vegetarian now. I'm eating LOTS of fruit and vegetables and consequently eating a lot less of everything else. It's not terrible really, and I find that I don't need to cook nearly as often because leftovers last longer.
Ochie and Mad Max

Charlie and Mad Max

Ochie, doing what Ochie does best.
Ochie on today's walk.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter walks

I'm not sure what I'd be doing this winter if I wasn't on my dog walking craze. Last year I built the boardwalk and playstation K9, but last winter had better weather for outdoor building projects. Probably I'd be indoors on the computer all day, eating and gaining weight, which I'm trying to combat this year.

I had most of the day free on Sunday so I did a long hike with Sparky, about eight miles. He is my favorite hiking buddy. He pulls, but he will ease up when I ask him. I don't have back pain the next day like I do after a long walk with Mad Max. I started off planning a long hike, which Sparky didn't know or he might have paced himself a bit in the beginning. Or maybe not. He was still going strong at the end whereas I was feeling the miles at that point.
Fortunately, Sparky decided NOT
to take us down this bank into the
Rivanna river below.

We had a great walk though. We crossed a stream that I usually avoid and went out to the river overlook. There turned out to be a lot of trails over there that I hadn't been on before so we broke new ground and now have some new areas to explore. Sparky knew we were someplace new and he gave me a look a few times that really looked like he doubted my navigation skills. I told him that I was an Eagle Scout, but he was unimpressed.

Some of the "new" territory we covered seems to be used mostly by horseback riders. In some areas I saw one runner's footprints along with a dog, but in some areas Sparky and I appeared to have been the only domesticated beings to pass that way since the last snow. Sparky is far more interested in canine smells and signs rather than wildlife, but he did manage to grab a dead deer part and tote it along for a ways when I wasn't looking.
There were chunks of ice floating down
the river on Sunday. I had thought about
putting the canoe in, but hiking was
probably a better idea.

I didn't have as much time on Monday, but I did get out with Maya for about four miles. She's the best dog to take when I want an "easy" day because she doesn't pull at all but is happy to match my pace, slower or faster, depending on how I'm feeling. It was a good walk but the warmer temperature meant that the trail was muddy. I was doubly glad that I had Maya because any other dog surely would have pulled me down as we were slipping and sliding quite often. Frozen ground is better for walking and it will be frozen again very soon.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I've seen something going around on Facebook that says while December is a beautiful, winter wonderland, January is nothing but a cold, gray, bucket of suck. That's a fairly apt description actually.  This week has been colder for a longer period of time than we usually have in the winter. Today was warmer, temps in the 30s for the first time all week, but it was cloudy and windy for much of the day so it just felt cold.
Charlie (front) and Max (rear)

It was cold.  I kept the dogs all indoors as long as possible this morning but finally Trooper insisted on going out, and for good reason.  I know better than to ignore that for very long.  Ochie, Charlie, and Max all seemed pretty good with it for a while this morning.  Trooper wanted to come back in after eating and I just brought Maya in so she wouldn't let herself out.  Gigi's outdoor time is limited to the bare necessities this week.

Ochie loves to fetch.
I needed to walk again but my back was hurting a bit from Max's pulling the other day.  I took Maya instead and we had a nice walk.  She doesn't pull at all, she's not interested in hauling my weight around so she lets me set the speed.  I think she will develop into a good trail dog.  She sticks to the trail, is interested in wildlife but doesn't go after it, and Dog knows she's smart enough to learn the routes.

Max bullies Ochie and chases him into the shed. Charlie doesn't put up with it from Max.
Maya handles Max if she's around, but he's a bit of an asshole towards Ochie if she's not.

I'm hoping that Charlie will kick his ass and straighten him out.

I had trouble getting her in the pictures
because she stuck so close to me.
Maya on our walk today.

Today's route, 5.36 miles

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Single digits

"Single digits" is Clay's mantra. He says it all the time, mostly as wishful thinking, hoping that I'll keep our total nose count to under 10.  With yesterday's addition of Charlie we are up to nine, but that's still within his aspirational limit.

However, this week the temperature is also in the single digits which means that all nine dogs are spending the night indoors and most of them are in here during most of the day as well. That's not really a problem. We have four crates set up in the office, with only three used at night, plus another crate set up in the kitchen downstairs for Sparky.

Charlie is doing well with everyone and he was great being crated last night. He didn't eat yesterday or this morning but he finally did when I offered food this evening. He can negotiate the stairs, both up and down, and it does seem that he's got some house manners. He scrambled out of the dog yard fence yesterday evening at dusk, but he came to the back door. I think I know how and where he did it and I think I've prevented it from doing it again, but at least I know that a four foot fence won't really contain him, but also that he didn't really want to run off. He had been a stray but they may have been leaving him outdoors on his own so naturally he was going to wander off sooner or later.

Max and I did five miles on the trails this afternoon. It was chilly but the ground was solid, not muddy, and we had the trails to ourselves. All the pictures are of Max. He may be mental, but he is one good looking shepherd.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Charlie meets (part of ) the pack

Charlie got neutered on Monday. I didn't get him yesterday because of the "big snow" and besides, I thought another day post-surgery would be better for coming here to meet the pack. I went to town this afternoon and brought him home. He's a nice boy, he lays down in a nice submissive posture when meeting someone new, a new human that is, he's not submissive at all when meeting new dogs.

I started with Trooper as I usually do. Trooper is really good at meeting new dogs. Charlie wasn't sure what to do and he gave a little growl but Trooper didn't react to it so it didn't escalate to anything more intense. They sniffed and then went about their business. Charlie was mostly interested in sniffing and marking everything possible in the dog yard.

I brought out Maya and she immediately ran up and got in his face as bitches do, but they were fine. She had her fur up, making it clear that she was the one to be reckoned with. Both dogs held their tails high, but they just sniffed and then Charlie took off running.

Next came Ochie, whose energy level seems to have a way of pissing off some dogs, but I think and hope that he and Charlie will become friends, or at least running partners. They postured and sniffed, did a little neck wrestling, and one spot of snarling but nothing I couldn't interrupt verbally. Charlie would run past Ochie, partly inviting him to play I think. They got into a spat a little later, just teeth and fur, no real attempt to hurt the other. I closed them both in the shed together for a while to chill.

When I let them out later everything was fine. I will crate them next to each other in the office tonight for more bonding. Charlie's testosterone level will be dropping gradually over the next month and he will be living with a pack of dogs that should teach him how to act. Once he realizes he's not in danger and not being threatened, I think he will also realize that it's more fun to play than to posture.  

(Above and below:  Charlie, kicking up his heels, enjoying a run in the snow-covered dog yard.)