Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Erin here. I've decided to start doing some training posts, so I can keep track our progress, particularly with reactivity.
It sucks only being able to work with Susie on the weekends, since I go to college/live in a different town four days out of the week. I can’t wait until next year, when I can move out of the dorms and get an apartment. Susie’s going to love campus life :D
At any rate, I was getting a little disheartend because it seemed our training, particularly the training we do for her strange dog/ people reactivity, was starting to stagnate and backslide. However, after introducing the clicker to our walks (I don’t know why I didn’t earlier— especially since we’ve been using it so long in other aspects of our training) she was really more at ease, and definitely a lot more responsive to me. She also did well with not pulling on the leash; I was very pleased! 
We walked past a few things that would have put her over threshold a year ago, but only warranted a sideways glance from her. A large group of people screaming and playing in a yard, several men cutting their grass and weedwacking (one even walked towards her with his mower, but she was fine and comforted when I stepped between them so that she was on my other side, and continued on).
We walked to the small park in my neighborhood, which is mostly deserted in the seasons when the pool is closed, and practiced sit stays and recalls in the parking lot. She’s very responsive on our outings now, whereas before she was too overstimulated to perform even simple commands. We started with a few of her easy commands and then worked on sit stays with distance, and recalls from a distance, and she did very well, especially considering we haven’t worked on them very much.
When we got home, she was tired in a way that I could never hope to get through purely physical excercise :) I never realized how much more draining “training” walks could be. 
On a training side note, I was watching a video on youtube yesterday looking for more things we could work on, and watched a video dealing with sits and other commands from a distance. Well, I asked Susie to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ at the foot of the stairs, per usual, as I climbed to the top before releasing her, but in her overexitement, she broke the ‘wait’. I asked her to ‘try again’ (a cue she understands very well), so she descended the few steps to the foot of the stairs, and looked up at me expectantly. I told her to sit, more out of experiment than anything, and to my suprise, she did so without hesitation, even though we’ve never attemped cueing any commands at a distance. Love my pup <3

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vet Day

Erin here.
Last Saturday was vet day for the crew, and my bank account is still lamenting. If I was more logical, I probably would have made an attempt to stagger their yearly vet visits throughout the year, but, alas.
Last Saturday was also the day of Sage's neuter. When they were shaving him down for the operation, they discovered he had tape worms (despite already having been dewormed at his last two visits) sooo I brought my other cat in later to get dewormed just in case, and went ahead and had his exam and rabies done too. Both of them got microchipped as well, and, even though they’re both indoor cats, bought one dose each of flea topicals since I know tapeworms come from fleas.
Susie went in yesterday for her exam, rabies, and microchip, and even though she was very stressed initially, shaking and such, she calmed down and took treats, something she had been too far gone in the past to do. She never barked or whined, even though she was in close proximity to other dogs and people, and allowed the vet to do his thing without complaint. I also got her another six months supply of Comfortis, as fleas are an issue here year-round. She has a slight amount of tartar, so I’m going to schedule a dental in the next few months, but my cat’s takes priority since he managed to chip a tooth.
After picking up Sage, the kitten, I got him settled in my closet with his bed, litter box, and a small amount of food. The tech warned me he may not be very hungry due to the anesthesia, but I just nodded and smiled to myself. She had not borne witness to this kitten’s unsatiable appetite. As soon as he saw me pop open a can, he was mewing pleadingly and tore into it. Luckily, he didn’t experience any digestive issues from the anethesia and recovered quite quickly.
Then it was Fetch’s turn. He goes twice a year since he’s almost 14, and he gets a comprehensive exam as part of his wellness plan. I’m still having issues with his teeth. He just had a dental in February, and we use the water additives, dental chews, raw bones, different kinds of toothpaste and frequent brushing, to no avail. Susie’s teeth are pearly white from this regime with minimal tarter, but I just can’t seem to keep it off  with Fetch. I discussed this with my vet and she prescribed an antibiotic to help with gum infections, and a different toothpaste. She was hesistant to do another dental, since he’d just had one done, he’s getting older in years, and he’s developed a very slight heart murmur. 
I only have one picture from the vet since it was pretty hectic, but I can rest assured now that everyone has been taken care of.
hehe, his expression after his rectal exam, poor guy.
And one of Sage recovering from his neuter:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Farmer's Market Fun

Fetch is the luckiest dog sometimes. He went the Farmer's Market a few weekends ago, where he got to see and smell a large variety of healthy yummies. He also got to meet a few nice pups, (although he was more interested in sniffing out dropped morsels...) and saw a few dogs and a cat from a local rescue organization, as well as a pair of greyhounds from the local greyhound rescue. He was wiped out after the walk back to car, and slept all day!

The plan for this weekend is to head up to our local branch of the Sumter National Forest and go on an all day hike (the first time we've been on one since school started, admittedly), so check back for some pictures!

Farmer's Market: A Before and After

And last but not least, a cute picture of ME since it's been a while:

Woofs & Meows,
Susie and the Crew

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fetch Goes Apple Picking

It was a bright, glorious morning-- The people were bustling about the house at an early hour, loading the car with bags. I was let happily into the back yard while Fetch continued snoozing in bed. The car started. Hmmm, were we going somewhere? Alas, I huffed with disbelief as Fetch was lifted into the car and it drove away.

 I may not like large, noisy crowds or strange people and dogs, but I also don't like Fetch getting to go off and do things with the people. :( I was one unhappy weiner, but Fetch told me all about his adventure when he got back and that made me feel a little better, so now I'm going to share it all with you!

The people went on a little road trip, driving a few hours north of us to go apple-picking in NC. Along the way, they also stopped at an Outlet to do some shopping, and Fetch had a blast.

Are we there yet?!

Hanging out at the outlets

Fetch is such a good traveler. He alternated between sitting placidly in the backseat between Erin and Matthew and snoozing. He eagerly ate his breakfast and drank plenty of water. This was his first time using his new seatbelt from Etekcity, but unfortunately it was a little long, so it'll have to be altered. 

After the pit stop, they continued their journey, winding up Mt. McAlpine to its peak, where Sky Top Orchard of Zirconia, NC is perched. Fetch was eager to get picking, so they grabbed a basket and were off! First, they visited the barnyard, where Fetch made a new friend.

Hello, who are you?

Then, they hit the orchard! 

After that, Fetch was worn out, but he had a blast! There was a huge crowd, tons of people, children, and dogs, tractors, farm animals, and a lot of noise, but Fetch was completely relaxed the whole time. Maybe I'll have to get a few pointers from him so I can go too next time!

It was an exciting day, and Fetch was passed out for the car ride home

Woofs & Meows,
Susie and the Crew

Black and White Sunday: A Day at the Orchard

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Long Hiatus

It's been long, long time since I've posted! It's been a really busy past few months!

Erin left for college in the middle of August, which has been a huge adjustment for all of us ): She's only an hour away, so she comes home every weekend and we still have plenty of adventures. She's required to live in the dorms on campus her first year, but next year she'll be in an apartment and the crew and I will be moving to Columbia!

 I've got a lot of new goodies on the way to help me cope with our new schedule. Retail therapy always cheers me up!

In the mail we have:

1. The Zoom Groom, which we've heard great things about!
Even though we have short hair, we still shed like crazy!

A new bed (Fetch just got a new one, but I stole it, so now I'm getting my own!) like this one, but I'm probably going to send the human to TJ Maxx or Ross since they have an awesome pet section!
We love beds with high sides so we can really burrow and feel snug!

And probably a new sweater is in order for Fetch, since he's older with thinner furs. It never gets cold enough for me to wear clothes, but Fetch is a little more 'delicate' 

And we've recently gotten a few new things already, like a new collar  for me from TwistedPetsDesigns on etsy: 

Fetch taking it out for a spin-- note he's also wearing my webmaster... the nerve.

He's not ashamed to wear purple!

Fetch also got a puppia, which we've had our eyes on for a while. 

Before and after his trip to the Farmer's Market

Fetch has been going on a lot of outings lately, since he's a really bombproof dog, and I've been working with my reactivity, though my progress has been slowed since we can only work on the weekends, and by then the focus is usually draining my energy so I can focus better. But we'll keep working at it! Hopefully we may try to do some group classes, with the trainer we worked with last spring, over the summer. 
From Fetch's trip to the Farmer's Market

For now, though, we've mostly been sticking to the trails, with no complaints from me!

As a side note, Erin finally started clipping our nails herself! When we were getting daily walks they maintained themselves pretty well, but since we only get walked on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays now, we get trimmed every week! Fetch behaves like a perfect gentlemen when getting trimmed, after a good bit of conditioning and plenty of treats, and Erin's pretty proud at how short she's got them now. Fetch doesn't make a sound even when he's walking over hardwood floors, which is a huge improvement. I, on the other hand, am not a fan of having them trimmed, even if treats are involved. We've made a lot of progress though, and just take a little bit off at a time. My nails are a lot thicker and darker than Fetch's, so she's a little more cautious with them, but so far neither one of us has ever been quicked, thank dog. It's going to take a while to get the quicks to recede, but they're getting closer to where she'd like them to be!

We also made the switch from Blue Buffalo Life Protection to a grain-free food, Taste of the Wild! We started off with High Praire Canine and are working through Southwest Canyon, with a final addition of Wild Wetlands to the rotation. Erin didn't expect a drastic difference since Blue Buffalo is a pretty decent food, but we both have even MORE energy than before, and our coats are slightly shinier. The cats are in the process of switching from Innova canned Cat & Kitten formula (largely due the grossly frequent recalls and the ownership of the company) to Dave's canned Cat food, which is grain-free. She hopes to add a few more brands to the rotation, so feel free to comment if you have any suggestions!

In other dog related news (before I share some updates on the cats), Erin started volunteering with a Service dog organization in Columiba to get her doggie fix during the week and to gain experience, and so far, she's had a blast, and is really learning a lot! 
Tally, one of the service dogs in training. (They use the EasyWalk, just like mine!)

Annnnd now for the cats! Sage is getting really huge! He just turned five months in October, and is scheduled to get neutered this month. He's really grown a lot! As he continues to grow, Erin's seeing more and more of a Siamese influence, in both his appearence and his mannerism. He's the most social, vocal, and intelligent cat! It only took him a few minutes to learn sit, come, and his name. We've also started working on leash training, which he's taken to like a champ! He's a lot more outgoing and less skittish than Tyger. He's also the worst beggar! Tyger has never had an interest in people food, so it's been pretty amusing to see how food driven he is. He's almost as bad as Fetch, and definitely more persistent. He's come a long way from the feeble, flea-and-worm-ridden stray he was when we first got him! He moved into our house for good (previously he'd been living with Erin's boyfriend and visiting daily) before school started, and he and Tyger are best buddies, even if Sage can be kind of annoying sometimes!

The best of friends

One Classy Kitten

Brothers can be annoying sometimes; sometimes you just have to teach them a lesson

Sage's first walk on the trails. Fetch was there to supervise.

Tyger's had a rough few months. He took Erin's absence really hard the first few weeks, and even got a stress cold the first week, which made Erin feel really bad. She keeps telling us that she has to go to school and get a good job to support our expensive lifestyle habits (cat food costs us a small fortune every month) (ha!) which makes it a little better, but it's hard to remember sometimes. He's really a one person cat, and is pretty skittish around everyone else, despite socialization as a kitten. However, since Erin's been gone, he's starting to relax a little bit. Initially he would just stay upstairs (in her room) all week until Erin came home on the weekends, but he's started venturing downstairs again and behaving more like he would if she was here, though he still waits in the window a lot for her to come home. He's become even more cuddly and affectionate (to Erin, atleast) and actually seeks out attention from Matthew (her boyfriend), and is hanging out downstairs in the living room even when the family's around and there's a little commotion going on (which is a HUGE improvement for him). We think having Sage around, who's very very social and loves the family, has been really helpful for bringing Tyger out of his shell, and he's made a lot of improvements. It's funny how different they are; basically polar opposites, but they get along so well!

Tyger hanging out in the living room with the family-- a rare sight.

That's all for now! Sorry for the super long post! We hope to start posting much more regularly now that we're getting into a routine; it's been really crazy lately! Hopefully we'll be posting at least once a week.

Woofs & Meows,
Susie the Doxie & the Crew

Monday, July 15, 2013

Salmon Cookies with Susie

As a witty and sharp trick-loving dog, it can be hard sometimes to find the perfect treat to keep my brain engaged. I'll do my tricks for the glory, but sometimes when we're working on something really tricky, like walking past other dogs on walks without informing them (rudely, Erin says) that I require atleast 20 ft of personal space, or sitting politely and quietly in my basket when strangers are in the house, or learning new things. In these situations, only the stinkiest, meatiest treat will do.

We have a few go-to favorite store-bought treats, but they can be a little pricey and we tend to go through them pretty quickly, so we when we stumbled across this recipe, we quickly sent Erin off to the store to pick up a few supplies. Well, one supply: a can of salmon. We already had the rest of the ingredients for this easy recipe laying around the kitchen.

Since Erin is by no means culinarily inclined, I'd decided I'd better give her a paw and supervise the proceedings. First, I assembled the supplies:

Only three ingredients: Eggs, Canned Salmon, and Flour

Erin made sure to pick up a quality flour, King Arthur's, which is certified organic, unbleached whole wheat, with exactly one ingredient: Certified 100% Organic Hard Spring Wheat. She also tried to find a can of salmon that was low in sodium, since canned meats tend to contain lots of it, with minimal success, so that's something else to keep in mind when feeding this treat.

After I gathered all the supplies together, it was time to mix it up! I was more than happy to help of course.

Adding the flour to the salmon and egg mixture

All mixed together

I hope I get to lick the bowl!!!

Then it was time to spread the dough out on the pan. I let Erin do that, BOL, since she said I couldn't spread it on with my tongue. Ah, well. Who needs thumbs?

Then I stuck it in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees. After that, we had 25 minutes to wait and wait... By this time Fetch had shown up to see what the fishy smell was about:


Finally, after an awfully long wait, it was time to take my fishy treat out. I even got to use my special bone-shaped cookie cutter for the first time!

Excuse the excess dust on top. Erin was a little generous with the flour. Like I said, she's never really baked before. In fact, this was her first attempt at making something from scratch.

Yummy. Erin was impressed with my impulse control, especially considering how stinky it was.
The finished product. Not bad! (Note: the yield was far greater than what is pictured here, we just broke the rest up to use as training treats)
Oh dog! They look so good, I can't wait to try one!

Impulse control. What a cruel, cruel lady. Just let me have a cookie!!!

After that I finally got to try one (or two, BOL). Were they ever delicious! These treats were super smelly (the whole kitchen/living room smelled like salmon) and tasty. Fetch and I went crazy for them. They definitely get the doxie woof of approval! They ended up slighly soft and chewy, but the perfect texture for breaking them down in smaller-sized training treats. After my first freebie cookie, I had to work for more, but I didn't mind showing off.

Well, I'm off to take a nap! All that baking sure was hard work. Check back tomorrow for new pictures from my hike on the first (almost) rain free day in 43 days!!

Sleepy and full of yummies,

Susie the Chef

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Keeping Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

If there's one thing I hate more than rainy days, it's blisteringly hot, humid days, which can make it dangerous for me to enjoy a nice hike! Luckily, TheUncommonDog shared this handy infographic with us to help remind us  how to keep cool and safe during the punishing summer months!

TheUncommonDog offers a wide selection of cooling aids on their website, from climate controlled doghouses to high tech cooling pads, so definitely check it out if you're looking for ways to help keep your dog cool this summer!

Being a low-to-the-ground, solid black dog in the Deep South, I've had to come up with a few ways to keep cool myself, so check out these tips/warnings to keep cool:

  • Be careful walking on hot pavement. Dogs release a lot of heat through their paws, and walking on hot pavement can quickly overheat a dog. I generally test the pavement by getting my human to walk barefoot on it first. If it's not too hot for her sensitive human feet, it's generally safe for me!
  •  Following in line with the wet bandana tip, you can also soak your dog's harness in water and stick it in the freezer before a walk to help keep your dog cool
  • Make these quick and delicious ice pops. I especially love them in my red kong!
  •  Even with these tips, it can be hard to stay cool during the day, so we usually are active in the early mornings and evenings when it's less hot out side.
  • Remember, NEVER leave your dog in a car during the summer, even if you crack the windows, even if you're "just running in." Check out this informative video by a vet who decided to test just how dangerous it can be.
Stay safe and cool everyone,

Susie Q