Monday, February 28, 2011

Flower Favorites

Until recently if you asked my favorite flower I would have had a quick answer for you.
No, it wasn't roses or orchids, though I like them both.
Orchids do tend to make me sneeze.
Until recently I would have answered that my favorite flowers were violets.
I've been thinking a lot about flowers recently because I have Spring Fever and am looking forward to warm weather when I can plant some flowers. I have decided to plant my favorites in pots on the porch. Are you curious yet?

 This year I plan to plant lots of Nasturtiums, both on the porch and in the yard.
Before we moved here we lived in a townhouse in Maryland. We had three dogs, Pylon- a Lab mix, Bentley- a Portie and Lucy- a Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix. We had a small back yard in which we planted lots of trees and flowers. I also had pots of flowers on the deck. In a couple of the pots I planted Nasturtiums.
One day I was reading a magazine that mentioned putting Nasturtium flowers in salads for color.
When Rob came home that night I told him about the article and we both wondered what Nasturtiums tasted like.
We went onto the deck and I picked a couple Nasturtium flowers and we each ate one. They have a peppery taste.
The three dogs were interested in what we were doing, after all food is important to most dogs. I picked a flower for each of them. Py and Lucy ate theirs, then wandered off, but Bentley begged for another.
The next morning I let the dogs out and went to pour a cup of coffee. When I returned to the deck with my coffee, Bentley had his head in the flower pot and was eating Nasturtium flowers. He ate them all. Good thing I didn't plan to use them in a salad that night.

Every morning for the rest of the summer, Bentley would check for any flowers that had opened that day. He would carefully snap them off their stems, not damaging the plant.

The boy had a real craving for Nasturtiums.
I have no photos of Bentley eating his flowers, but apparently there are some other Nasturtium lovers.

Every summer for the rest of his life I planted a pot of Nasturtiums for Bentley and every morning he feasted on them. Since Bentley died I have not planted Nasturtiums, but this year I will. I'll try this pack of Porties and see if they like the flowers as much as he did.

I found this shirt online and I just may get it for one of my dogs.
The porch should look very cheerful covered with these happy flowers and this time I might actually get a salad from them.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Late Winter Color

It's the end of February already and today was warm and not quite as gray as it has been.  The dogs enjoyed a fast paced game of chase the glowball this afternoon and are now nicely tuckered out.

It's been pretty dull around here for the last couple weeks. It's been cold and windy and very little sunshine. Since the snow melted it hasn't been very pretty outside.
Inside is a different matter. My two Christmas Cactus flowered normally for Christmas. Then they took a little rest for about a month and now, suddenly they are both covered with flowers. These are the most flowers either plant has ever had.
I don't know what made them bloom, but it  certainly is nice to see the bright spots of color in the dining room.
I love the color of the flowers on this plant. They're sort of peachy with a purple cast.

Soon we should start seeing some spring color outside, too. Are you seeing any signs of Spring in your area? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All About Eyes

Over on the Dogs-N-More blog Chan and I have declared this Canine Eye Info Month. We and others are posting about eye care in general and specific problems that can affect our canine buddies. Chan currently has a post about glaucoma. Her Sissy is battling the disease and Chan shares important info for all of us.
I'll be posting soon about PRA and Dr Nicki is doing a post on general eye care. Be sure to check us out and maybe pick up some info that could save your pet's vision.

Eyes are an important subject and I've been dealing with my own vision problems lately. As many of you know, I had cataract surgery last summer. The surgery was successful and I had an easy recovery. On Friday evening as I was taking the dogs outside for their last call, I noticed what appeared to be flashing lights just above my head. As I tilted my head back to see where they were coming from, I realized that the flashing lights were inside my left eye. That was frightening.

Saturday the lights continues to flash. Imagine Christmas tree lights flashing inside your eye and no way to pull the plug. Saturday evening as I was knitting, I felt like a lock of hair was in my eye. I kept brushing my hair back until I realized it also was inside my eye. It was like a good sized piece of dark lace floating back and forth across my field of vision. It was annoying enough to make me put away my knitting and go to bed.
On Sunday the lights weren't flashing as often, but the lacy floater was still there. First thing Monday morning I was on the phone to my eye doctor and he said to come in immediately. After an extensive examination, there was good news and bad news.

The good news, there is no hole or tear to the retina. The bad news I have a vitreous detachment. It's not dangerous, just very annoying. He gave me a time frame for the flashes to stop and so far today there have been none. This is good. The very large floater I'll have to learn to live with. It may or may not decrease in size and it may or may not drop lower in the eye, getting it out of the main field of vision.

At least I can recognize  a vision problem and make a call to the doctor. Our canine and feline companions depend on us to recognize when they have a problem and make the call for them.

We need to educate ourselves on what to watch for and what to do if we spot a problem. Join us for eye health month and if you have experience with vision problems in your pets, we want to share your knowledge. Check out the posts at Dogs-N-More.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's Happening?

This has been a busy month with blizzards, Valentine's Day, a couple of important birthdays, Mango Minster and Westminster. I need to wrap up a few things and then I have a rant to share with you.
First a huge congratulations to Hickory and to all the people involved with this beautiful breed. She's a lovely dog and  showed well.
Of course, I have to acknowledge LadyBug. She has won more best in Show titles than any Portie in history and came the closest to winning the big one at Westminster. The entire PWD community is so proud of her. I can't describe the emotions I felt last night when she won the Working Group. I adore this breed and love to see them honored. But, at the same time I felt a sense of relief when we didn't win Best In Show. I've seen the damage a win like that can bring to a breed. Suddenly they're in the spotlight and lots of people who really don't understand the breed want to own one.

The breed can be damaged by overbreeding or poor breeding to fill the demand and good dogs can wind up in homes that aren't prepared for the demands of that particular breed and are then sent to shelters. Porties are wonderful dogs, but they are not easy dogs to live with. They have an energy level that is way above the average dog. They are working dogs who need to be busy and if not kept busy, they will find ways to fill their time that often are not acceptable. They need early training, but because they are very sensitive, they need a firm but gentle hand.

Because of size alone, I don't imagine people will be running out today to buy a Scottish Deerhound. I hope not and I wish the breed well.
Many of you have asked about Samba. I was disappointed when the blood work came back. There was no sign of infection, which means that she is experiencing a flare up of the MMM. We have doubled up on her Prednisone and already the pain has gone. She's feeling better, but a miserable side effect is that she has to pee frequently. For the past two nights she's been waking me every hour to go outside and pee. It makes for a poor night's sleep and I have to sneak a nap in each afternoon.

We're trying to help prevent another flare up in the future by addressing her diet. Dr B has been reading research papers on the immune system and together we're going to try an experiment. He feels that cutting way back on Omega 6 oils in her diet and drastically increasing Omega 3 oils will boost her system so that as we cut her Pred dosage, her body will fight off the disease. She's now eating a prescription diet that has almost no 6s and is high in Omega 3s.

Treats are a problem. He doesn't want her eating treats that have oils either, so we're making some substitutes. While the other dogs can still eat biscuits, Samba gets healthy treats such as baby carrots,

apple slices,

and sweet potatoes.

Later this week I plan to make fish stew for them to have with their dinner. I don't know yet how I'm making it, but I'll let you know what I use and how they like it.

Now, I have a rant. It seems like there have been a lot of them lately, doesn't it?

I feed my dogs yogurt at bedtime. Porties need a late night snack or they tend to vomit bile during the night. All my Porties have done this and long ago we discovered that yogurt at bedtime prevented this.

For years we've fed our dogs Yoplait Dora strawberry yogurt. They all like it, even the fussy ones like Monty and Tsar. It came in 4 ounce cups, six to a pack.
Last month we couldn't find any Dora yogurt in the grocery store. I bought some store brand strawberry yogurt and tried it that night. Unfortunately, there were pieces of strawberry in it and though I tried to be careful, I gave Tsar a spoonful that contained a piece of strawberry. He promptly spit it out and it landed on my shoe.

Back to the store, and there was Dora yogurt again, but there was a difference. Now they were 3 ounce ups, not 4 and there were only 4 cups to a pack, not six. That meant a pack contained half the yogurt and guess what... the price was the same. Now I ask you, is that fair?

Well, I refuse to play that game, so we made a switch to Trix yogurt, but they don't have strawberry flavor. I bought vanilla, cherry, wild berry and watermelon flavors. Tsar will eat vanilla and cherry. He may or may not eat berry, depending on his mood at the moment and he refuses watermelon. The Porties, who are much less discriminating eat them all happily.

There is one down side to this new yogurt. Look at the colors! While they might appeal to children, they stain white beards and clothes. My dogs can get sloppy when they eat from a spoon, so beware if you try this brand.

Rant over.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guess Who Came To our House

There is an alphabet written about Portuguese Water Dogs. Each letter lists several words that describe Porties and gives their definitions as they pertain to Porties.

For example under the letter A is the is the word Alpha - dubious and comical term for PWD owner. Typically a short lived expression.

I have the entire alphabet and under the letter G is this:
Good Dog Fairy - mythical being who taps young PWDs on the head around the age of two and miraculously turns them into well behaved citizens. Often appears at an older age for males.

On Fudge's second birthday we hoped for an appearance by the Good Dog Fairy. She didn't come.  Again on his third birthday we waited up for her. She never showed.  Last year, after his fifth birthday, we decided that she was boycotting our house.

Then last night, guess who came to our house. The Good Dog Fairy came and touched Fudge on the head. He is acting like a big boy and being so good. I was resting with a migraine all day yesterday and he stayed quietly by my side. Today he's been doing everything I tell him, and he's not teasing Noah. He still spins and sings and does Fudge like things, but there's a difference. He's acting like a good boy.
What a happy present for all of us.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What A Day !

Let's All Celebrate!!
 Today I'm wearing my official Fudge's Fan Club shirt because not only is it Valentine's Day, but it's Fudgie's birthday. He's six years old today.
 We're having a big party this afternoon and some of our friends helped us with our celebration.

 This was the prize in a contest on Life With Dogs blog recently and guess what? We won!

When it arrived, it looked like this.

There were frosted cookies for all of us.

There was a big bag of bacon brittle. Guess who claimed that?

Barkin brownies, yum!

Truffles, whatever they are.

A pretty canister of cookies.

Lots of toys, but they're all pink.

And on top of all this wonderful stuff, Dad bought us some cupcakes for Valentines day which is also crazy Fudges Birthday.

Fudge is always ready to party!

Hearts, flower, to all and chocolate to the humans at home!