Friday, September 19, 2014

Bark Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy Mateys,
  Today is 'Bark Like A Pirate Day' so here's my message.

 "Hand over the booty, wench, or ye'll be walkin the plank."

For those of you that don't speak pirate, that means "please Mom, may I have a biscuit?"

 Captain Long Fudge Silver

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Can't Win Them All

A few years ago I read a book written by Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner called In Pursuit of The Common Good: Twenty Five Years of Improving The World, One Bottle of Salad Dressing At A Time.
It told the story of how the Newman's Own brand of foods came about and their standards for their products. I was impressed by their decisions on ingredients and production requirements and especially the fact that they gave all the profits to charity.

I bought a bag of Newman's Own dog treats and was pleasantly surprised. I chose either the cheese or peanut flavored treats and they were small heart shaped biscuits that my dogs loved.
Feeling virtuous, I bought some of the Newman's Own dog food but my dogs didn't like it.  They reluctantly ate it but it was obvious they didn't much care for it. We went back to their old food brands, but continued to buy the treats. The Newman's Own peanut butter treats turned out to be one of Sebastian's very favorites, so we use them as his bedtime cookie.

A couple weeks ago Chewy sent me the September review options and I was pleased to see Newman's Own among the choices. I thought the selection was peanut butter. Great, we were almost out of Sebastian's favorites. I chose them and we looked forward to receiving our Chewy box.

When I opened the box, I was disappointed. It contained a bag of Newman's Own treats, but they were lamb and sweet potato flavor. Due to a personal hangup of mine, I've never fed my dogs lamb and never plan to. Now here was a bag of lamb treats and I was torn. Should I give them to my dogs despite my own feelings, or should I donate them to the shelter? Rob talked me into trying them.
The second disappointment came when I opened the bag. These treats are huge. Yes, they are scored, but they're so hard that I find it difficult to break them with my weak hands.
I fed one to Sebastian at bedtime. He took it, put it down, sniffed it, turned it over and sniffed it some more. He finally ate it. OK. The following night he did the same thing, but the next morning he refused his breakfast and then got sick. He seemed OK all day and ate his dinner. At bedtime I gave him another of these treats. He ate it, but the next morning was sick again. It may or may not have been the treat. He has pancreatitis and could just be having a flare up. Or maybe the treat is causing a flare up. Who knows? But I do know that I'm not giving him any more of these treats. We're going back to his peanut butter treats at bedtime. I'll toss the rest of the lamb treats.

I still like Newman's Own and will continue to buy them. I'll also continue my boycott of lamb dog food and treats. No harm done, we just learned a lesson, don't take old favorites for granted, things change.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dinner For Two

If you're expecting a post about a romantic candle light dinner for the humans, you're on the wrong blog.
This is about dog dinner, of course. What else would I be writing about. My life has  become a daily experience of dealing with special diets and treats and I'm going to inflict it on you, too.

It all began two years ago when we got hit with Crypto. Everyone was sick, but some did a better job at recovering than others. My girls are tough and they all got thru it and are eating whatever I put in front of them. The four Portie girls eat kibble, sometimes with a little something on top, usually veggies.  Morgan gets bored with her kibble about every two or three months and we switch brands. That satisfies her for a while. She also gets a topping, usually chicken or fish.

The two little girls are good eaters. Mac may be a little too good and is looking a little pudgy. They both eat their kibble plain or with a veggie.

Then there are the boys. They are the problem. Sebastian has pancreatitis and is trying to drop some weight. He eats low cal kibble with lots of green beans. He also eats low cal treats. He's easy to please and eats whatever I set in front of him and recently he seems to have dropped a few pounds. I'll take him by the clinic later this week and put him on the scales.
After the Crypto was gone, Noah and Fudge both tested positive for Corona Virus.  Since then neither of them have been able to eat normally. Noah was very sick and was dropping way too much weight. His backbone was standing out and I could put my fingers between his ribs. His stool was a disaster.  In February, after running tests to rule out any other hidden illnesses, we started him on a homemade diet for colitis. Within a month of strictly feeding his special food and treats, his stool became normal and he started gaining weight. Now he's back up to 54 pounds from a low of 38. He's doing great now.
Then there was Fudge. He had runny stool and though he wasn't losing lots of weight, he was acting sick and his coat was looking thin and dull. Again we ran tests and this time Dr B felt that Fudge had leaky gut syndrome. We changed him to a duck based kibble and at first I thought it was going to work for him. He is acting happier but his other issues are continuing.
Last week Rob and I discussed it and decided to try feeding Fudge the same diet that worked for Noah. This isn't as easy as just opening a can or bag. This involves lots of kitchen time for us. First we had to buy a bigger pot. Three days of food for Noah completely filled the largest pot I had, so we found this one. It holds a three day supply for both boys.
Rob and I chop lots of sweet potatoes and carrots to add to the peas, ground turkey and water. Add in some barley and we have a special diet for sensitive intestines. After I bring this to a boil, I turn the burner low and let it simmer for a couple hours. Then it sits there and steams itself till it's ready.
Finally I fill lots of little containers with a serving each. My boys each get two cups of this three times a day. They also get some supplements such as calcium, vitamin B, fish oil and a multi-vitamin.
What about treats, you ask?  To a dog treats make life worth living. They get sweet potato chips. We look for the biggest, fattest sweet potatoes we can find, slice them thin, then place them on a no stick cookie sheet. They go into a 300 degree oven for a very long time, till they turn brown and crunchy. Yum.

Noah has been eating this way for several months and is thriving. Fudge started on this diet last night. When I set his bowl in front of him, he looked at it, then looked at me as if checking to see if it was really OK to eat it.  At breakfast this morning, he dove right in, finished, then went back to lick the bowl again. It's too soon to know if this will help him, but I have my fingers crossed that this will make him better.

I spend more time cooking for my boys than I do for us. Last night I had a frozen pot pie and Rob heated up a pizza. My life really has gone to the dogs.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feeling Fallish

The weather changed suddenly. One day it was 90+ and the next it was 58. Not complaining, we love it. Sebastian, who has finally dropped a few pounds is leading the pack in morning run-arounds. Everyone is having fun playing in the yard and not all standing by the door with tongues hanging our waiting to get in the air conditioning. All are sleeping later in the morning, a very good thing from my point of view.

Last night after dinner, when all were settled in for naps till yogurt time, I picked up my stitching, mostly Christmas stuff, and thought how nice and peaceful it felt.
I did finish a piece. It's called 'Pretty Little New York' by Jodi Rice of Satsuma Designs. I have another of her designs called 'Pretty Little San Francisco' that I'll probably get to in the spring. It was a fun piece to work on.
I also dug out a cross stitch designed by Mary Englebreit. I did this in 2000 and was stitching the names of my dogs around the edge. At that time I was only up to Bentley, so I need to put the rest of the names on it.
I think I need to bake some bread and an apple pie to get those great fallish smells into the house. Are you all feeling fall in the air, or spring for our downunder friends?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


September 11 again.
There are no words.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Here!!!

Hi Everybody,
Remember back about 87 weeks ago when it was Father's Day? I told you how my favorite daughter, Gracie,  and her Mom gave me a special Dad's Day gift. They sent my picture and bio to a real magazine.
Well, I've been waiting and waiting and waiting. I've been very patient. The rest of the pack has been helping me wait. Today Sebastian told us when the mailman was here.
Morgan says today might be the day.
Mom went to the mailbox and guess what!! It's here!!!!!
The magazine is here.  The Courier is the official magazine of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America and I'm in it.
Hurry Mom, find the page with me on it.

There I am.
In case it's too little for you to read on your computer, I'll tell you what it says.

Deerpark's Chocolate Legacy RN

Handsome, confident, chatty, competitive, a lady's man, proud father of nine, lapdog, foot-warmer,
Fudge is my loyal best friend and partner.

Owner Sue Wilcox-Hall
DOB 02/14/05   GM-1 nor   OFA - 4778F24M-PI
OptiGen nor   CERF not current

Mom, What does it say in that little heart in the corner?
It says veteran. That means you're nine years old. When a Portie turns nine, he become a veteran. When you get to be 14 years old, you'll be an ancient mariner.
Ancient mariner sounds a little insulting to me.

No Fudge, It's just a term the Portie peeps use.

Look Mackey, I'm in a magazine.
Thanks Gracie and J for doing such a nice thing for me. You know I was born to be famous and you've made it possible.
Your famous pal, Fudge

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Like Fine Wine

 You all know that I love puppies, but I also love old dogs. There's such a dignity about those faces with grey hair showing up around the muzzle and the cloudiness in the eyes.

We all hope that our dogs will live long, healthy active lives. But at the same time we hate seeing those little signs of age creeping in. Sometimes they sneak up on us and other times they seem to appear overnight, reminding us that the years are passing.

Zelda was my oldest dog. She was a pup from my first litter and led an active life. She loved to go hunting in the woods with my cousin's dog. We weren't always thrilled with the prizes they brought home, a couple of skunks complete with odor and a face full of porcupine quills.
Zelda swam in a neighbor's pond most summer mornings and accompanied me everywhere. She started slowing down around 14 and had some arthritis in her later years, but was remarkably healthy. She died in her sleep at age 17.
Libby lived to 15. She was my beach dog. She was born in Myrtle Beach and came to live with me when she was 5 weeks old. She loved the ocean and riding in boats. When I moved back to Syracuse she adjusted easily to life in a high rise apartment building. I was happy that she got to live in a house with a yard for her last few years.

Bentley didn't age well. He lived with a pinched nerve in his back from the age of six and by the time he reached 14 he was pretty crippled by arthritis, but it never stopped him from doing whatever he wanted to do.
Lucy, being a white dog, didn't show grey hair but she also was slowed by arthritis in her later years.
Pylon did grey, even though she was light colored. Her coat just seemed to fade.
Monty didn't get to be an old dog, he died at the age of nine, but he did mellow and get some grey hair as he aged.
Tsar also died young but had developed a white mustache.
The Porties probably won't show the greying effects much because their coats are salted with white hair already. Porties also tend to push the limits and not slow down much till the very end.

This brings me to Morgan. She's past the recent scare we had with her high fever. The antibiotics apparently took care of the infection and she's feeling well. Morgan shows signs of her age but they aren't all what I expected. Yes, her coat is messy, she doesn't want to be groomed especially her legs and feet, and her eyes are transparent. The color faded from her eyes several years ago making them strange looking, but they still work.
Morgan's day is interesting and somewhat annoying. When we wake her in the morning she's groggy and confused. We have to direct her to the front door because she tends to just follow the other dogs downstairs. When she comes back in, Rob feeds her and Mac. Usually she eats about half her food, then does her aerobic exercises. She finds a blanket, rolls onto her back and kicks her legs in the air.

When I come back upstairs from feeding the others, I give everyone their meds. They line up and because I always go in the same order, they each step forward when it's their turn. Morgan is last because she takes the most. Some days she gets in line with the others and opens her mouth for her pills. Other days she waits lying on the blanket and I have to find her and open her mouth and hold it to keep her from spitting them out.

Then it's time for our breakfast. Rob makes a slice of toast for the dogs and cuts it into little pieces. Sometimes he spreads it with peanut butter. They wait patiently till we're finished, then gather around for their toast. Sometimes Morgan joins them, sometimes not.

Then it's her nap time till around 11 when she tells me she needs to go out. When she comes back in she likes to finish her breakfast. She's wide awake by now and wanders around the house. Sometimes she'll settle down with a toy, sometimes she interacts with the other dogs and sometimes she just paces. It's all OK.
When the other dogs go out to play around 1:30, Morgan goes too. She does a complete circuit of the back yard and if she's feeling good, she'll do two. Then it's time for a quick nap.

At 2:30, an hour before dinner, the torture begins. That's the time each day that she decided to bark at me. It starts with her standing in front of me talking and groaning and making cute funny noises. But it soon turns into barking. I try to figure out what she wants. I check the water bowl and fill it with cold fresh water. I take her out to pee. I offer her a biscuit. I smooth out her blanket, but none of these things stop the barking. She just stands there for an hour barking at me. Rob and I have decided that she just simply wants to bark. It's not easy listening to an old dog bark for a solid hour, but it seems I need to get used to it.
We have dinner at 3:30. We moved it up from 4 so that our nasty neighbor won't have to experience being barked at when she arrives home. After she eats, Morgan wanders in the yard a little, then settles in for the evening. She sleeps quite soundly, as most old dogs do, and when we wake her at bedtime, she's confused. We have to point her in the direction of the yard, then up the stairs to the bedroom. She knows where her bed is and she's once again arranging her bedding and toys for 10 or 15 minutes before lying down. Last night I was busy getting Mac and Syd settled for the night and when I went to help Morgan, she was lying in the shower. I had to get her out of there and back to her own bed. We have to keep the bathroom door firmly closed because for some reason she insists she wants to sleep in the shower.

Living with an old dog is challenging, but it is so worth it. Even being barked at for an hour each day is better than the alternative.