Category Archives: The Puppies

2351 – Puppy Love Time

I’ve had a good day off. Catching up on some house cleaning and piles and piles of laundry. Spending a day puttering around home makes me the happiest. In between the folding and dusting I play with the puppies, sure it’s not terribly productive but it’s fun.

Jax helped me fold some laundry by hiding it under the couch. Taz enjoyed a verbal sparing match with the vacuum cleaner and Poco would follow me with a bright blue ball in his mouth begging to play fetch.

These little moments that I believe are mere play become bonding and trust building exercises on accident. I don’t think of it as Jax Therapy, but rather as play and treat time. Jax learned to sit today. He plunked himself down on his narrow little bum, tilted his head and pined for his treat. I’m so proud

I play with them because its fun and I spend time with them because I love the joy and wonder they bring to my life. I’ve been asked by other dog people about the bond I have with my dogs and what kind of training I’ve done, but I’ve never done much training. I’ve taken bits of knowledge from different sources, but never really sat down for hard core “training” with any of them. I teach them great games like fetch, dancing and the big bear. I walk them off leach in safe areas and they learn to come when I yell “come on guys”. They might not know stay, but they know wait.

These thoughts become things I’ve taught them on accident and most of the time it’s for safety. I was surprised Taz knew the command stay when we did the Canine Good Citizenship Test because it was never something we practiced, but she picked up what I wanted by our everyday interaction. Taz got that I meant wait, not stay. She knew I wanted her to wait there and she knew there was a good reason or I’d never ask.

Calling her to me was very natural. I needed her and she came to me. No questions asked.  I’ve been asked about training methods because my dogs are well behaved (usually) and I can honestly answer that I don’t have obedient dogs, I have willing and loving companions.

Without any formal training Gizmo and Taz both passed their Canine Good Citizenship Award and became registered Therapy Dogs both as individuals and as a team. I was asked if Taz and Gizmo “fed off each other” and I said: “yes”.  They gain a lot of comfort and confidence from each other, but the instructor was concerned they’d feed off each other in a negative way. Taz and Gizmo passed with flying colours. It’s a tough test, but my guys don’t mind being left alone because they know I’ll always come for them. They like to follow me and when asked to perform this task they do it because they have to for safety, so they just did for the test. I am so proud.

I don’t use training collars, but I will use treats to teach the basics like sit. I use the treats as an attention getter rather than as a reward. I’d like the dogs to do what I ask because they want to and know there’s a reason behind it that is important. When they realize I’m asking them to do the same thing over and over again they feel ridiculous and won’t do it. I don’t blame them. I hate being taught the same thing over and over again.

I rarely work with my dogs on a particular task because every game we play is fun and for learning manners and good behaviour. They learn words by accident this way. I will ask Poco “if someone is here?” he will bark once and check the door. If I tell him to “go see who’s here” he races to the door in an excited frenzy. They’re really quick and pick up on the different inflections in my voice rather than the words.

Poco was up on the bed and he was shaking and cowering at some unknown evil. Poco has spend too much time shaking since he came to the farm. At first we couldn’t console him, but now we can. When Poco is upset he will come to me now and sit close. Touching. I will put one hand on his back and feel his tremors. I will take slow deep breaths and push calming sea blue energy into Poco through my hand. I know it sounds hokie, but it works.

When I first started this method two years ago I learned that I had to wait for Poco to come to me. If I tried to calm him and he wasn’t interested in my help it never worked. I had to be patient and wait for Poco to come to me for comfort. It took years, but I recognized that sending him strength and comfort would help. It used to take up to fifteen minutes to calm him, but now it’s less than a minute. He comes to me sooner for comfort and gains peace much faster. All you have to know how to do is breathe.

We’ve had our new baby puppy, jube jube nose, Jackson, Jax for nearly three weeks and he’s learned so much. He’s learned to sit and he’s learned to be polite at dinner time. He’s learned to play fetch and to respect Taz while she chews on her rawhide. He’s learning to trust people.

Tonight at 2351 Jax asked to come up on the bed for the first time. Once up here he sat and stared at me for several minutes before giving me my first lick on the hand. It was his first kiss was much like Jax – sweet and gentle. The moment filled me with joy. Three weeks and he was starting to love and trust me a little bit. He wants to cuddle and pushes his body against mine for comfort.

This is a good night. Raising puppies can be a challenge, but remember to keep you head up, your voice calm and your energy positive. Dogs read body language better than they speak english.


Walking the Dogs

It’s my last day off before I have to spend twelve hours out of twenty-four at work away from my four legged family for five days, so I wanted to spend as much time I can with my kids (and Brent, but he’s working).

We started off the day with grooming and baths for everyone. Jax still has a smell about him from being so dirty for so long, so he gets a bath but no trimming. Often my grooming skills are questionable resulting in some unusual pompadours, however Poco and Taz turn out particular lovely this time.

After bath time there is a brief rest period and then a game of  fetch. Everyone racing across the living room floor and smashing into the wall, table legs or couches. Great fun and lots of giggles and barking.

I needed to grab a few things from the grocery story, so I decided to go to the little village of Ridgeway where the locally owned grocery store is right beside the Friendship Trail.

The Friendship Trail is many miles long and runs through country and city venues. If I head west I have at least three miles before I see a stop sign or cars. It’s through farmers fields and swamps where the sumac grows wild across the trail.

Once I’m away from the main road I let Taz and Jax off leash. Taz is a very good listener and Jax sticks close by the gang. Jax is just starting to get comfortable with going for a walk and he shies away from the leash. In hopes of making the idea of walks fun I let him play as free as I feel is safe.

Through the process of emancipation Jax has learned important commands like: come and wait. If I call “Jax come” he comes running at me like his tail is on fire with his too big tongue is sticking out of his too small mouth. He looks like the definition of Joy.

Poco has to stay on leash. Should he see anything with a fuzzy tail he’s off and there’s no way to stop him. It’s too dangerous. It’s not safe, but with the use of extend-a-leash he has a lot of space to play.

As we’re walking down the partially overgrown path Jax stops to play tug of war with an obviously dangerous piece of ragweed. He manages to wrestle it to the ground and chew on it for a few seconds. He gives his prey a quick nip and bark before running towards me with his tongue out and his ears flapping in the wind. I’ve never seen a pup look so happy.

Jax runs past me and attempts to bump directly into Taz, but she sees it coming and side steps leaving Jax confused and sitting on his rump in the grass until I come up beside him and give him an encouraging pat. He wiggles in delight and runs next to Taz as though they are best friends.

Poco feels the need to intervene at this point and breaks up any unnecessary fun. Big brother type antics.

I was laughing. I was laughing out loud as I walked alone down the friendship trail. Well, not completely alone. I have my puppies.

It’s almost dinner time and I’m surrounded by my little pups. Taz on my lap, Jax by my leg and Poco on guard beside my couch on the floor. We are a lovely and happy family.

I love my Canines

Sitting at the Main Street drawbridge in Port Colborne watching the Lakers traverse the canal with a Super Taz riding shot gun and napping in her favorite paw print plush bed.

Brent and I were having a movie day and he said: “hey, have you seen Gizmo?” He meant Poco.

Walking along the beach with the sun shining through the clouds and the yellow dances like northern lights across the lake. The magic and shimmer from heaven touching the earth. Sharing it all with little heartbeats who get it too.

Every time I sit on the kitchen floor and am never alone.

Listening to Taz have a crunchy snack.

Right before it rains there’s a smell and heaviness that saturates the very air we breathe. It makes Taz excited and Poco afraid. Nature affects us all.

The sound of nails clip, clip, clip across the hardwood floor.

The taste of cookies and warm bread that I have to share with a smile.

Asking at PetSmart if they have any smaller tennis balls while holding onto the leash of Taz and Poco with a quizzical look on my face. Saying with a straight face “these balls are simply too big”

Enjoying the smiles of strangers as I drive by in my Smart Car with Super Taz and Poco riding shot gun or staring out the back window like a bobble head doll.

Learning the delight of running as fast as you can through dry warm sand.

Never eating alone.

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell Taz and Poco that there is only one exit from the bathroom, they insist on following me relentlessly to the powder room.

Being interrupted in the middle of an intimate moment by a wet nose.

Always having a wing man.

Telling stories about Gizmo makes me feel good and I think it makes other people uncomfortable. I love to talk about my little dude. He was magic. I promise not to cry if you promise to listen.

This is a video of Taz in the role of entertainer on a Friday night. I’m still giggling.

Bath Night

It’s six weeks today since we lost our lovable Gizmo. I saw many people today that I hadn’t seen since he died. Mostly co-workers who hugged and said kind words. Thank you for understanding he was my baby and thank you for your kindness. It means the world.

Tonight was bath night for the puppies. We’re preparing for our vacation/one year anniversary trip on Friday and I wanted to get the dogs groomed before Friday. I decided Tuesday was a good night and I started by giving both Taz and Poco a bubble bath. After I got the kids out of the tub and dried I started with the clippers.

I did Poco first and he looks incredibly handsome, but as I was sweeping the hair into the garbage I was overcome with tears as I pictured that hair being chocolate brown. I remembered how good Gizmo was to get groomed. He was always so patient and stood so still letting me learn. He was so sweet to groom and so easy. It didn’t matter what I did to Gizmo he always looks adorable. I miss that chocolate hair.

Poco looks incredibly adorable and Taz looks like a princess with her fluffy style. As we get ready for this trip I wish Gizmo was here getting his bath too. I wish Gizmo was at my feet begging for cookies. I’ve never wished so hard in all my life.

My kitchen walls are adorned by pictures of my puppies. Gizmo always stands out with love in his eye and personality oozing out of his body. What an amazing little dude and I am so lucky that I got to have him in my life.

Puppy bath night tonight and I really miss my Gizmo.

Changing the bedroom

I clean out my bedroom today. I put in a new TV wall mount and hooked everything up and it works. I moved out a couch and put in a ramp, so the dogs can still get on the bed. I thought of Gizmo the whole time.

When Taz and Poco would retire for a nap while I re-organized a part of the house, but Gizmo would watch and jump on every opportunity to play and plunder. I missed his little chubby body while I moved the wall unit without his help. I picked up a package of unchewed paper and thought of my little dude.

I put the drill bit down knowing he wouldn’t be trying to eat the sawdust and possibly cut his lips on the drill bit. I moved things and thought of Gizmo.

He would have had a great time today re-arranging the bedroom. He was always my co-conspirator when it came to moving the furniture of the house. Nary a blanket was moved without his spit or at least a quick bite of a pillow.

I can only hope he would approve of the new changes. I wish he was here to give the okay.

Another long day of missing my boy. Another full moon trying to break through the clouds. Another car going too fast down my road.

I want to tell you all a happy tale of moving the pig house, but I’m not ready. I don’t know when I’ll be ready.

Ear Infections

Ear infections. Yuck.

It was in 1996 that Misiu entered and immediately enriched my life.  He was a golden retriever with the temperment of a God. He brought years of love, kindness, devotion and compassion to my life. Misiu died in 2008 and left me floating in a great abyss. He left an emptiness in my heart that took years to heal. I still get misty-eyed thinking of his great brown eyes staring at me with love while he rested his large square head on my thigh. He would sit quietly with me while I cried and would snore gently while I suffered with insomnia.

Misiu taught me so much and this next bit of information is something that might help save a few trips to the vet and many battles with ear infections.

Floppy eared dogs tend to have ear problems due to air flow constrictions, add a warm environment and you have the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth. The golden’s love of water and pre-disposition to allergies and you have a recipe for chronic ear infections. Allergies in dogs present with ear infections, paw chewing and hot spots.

Misiu was four and we’d been battling ear infections his whole life. We’d just returned from the vet and they’d done a swab to determine what type of bacterial was growing in his ears. We’d been fighting this particular ear infection for two months with different solutions and nothing was working, so the did a swab and create a special formula to battle the specific bacteria growing in Misiu’s ears.

The swab came back over three plus (three is the worst infection) for three different bacteria, one was ecoli. For two hundred dollars the vet mixed up a special solution that caused Misiu to cringe as I massaged his raw infected ears. Three weeks later there was no improvement and I was reading information on the internet about ear infections invading the brain causing meningitis and how dogs shook their heads so hard they caused aneurysms from ear infections.

Misiu was only four years old.

One day I got an email from a friend who breeds water loving springer spaniels in England and he gave me a recipe for an ear treatment. There were only three affordable ingredients, but the first one made me cringe: seventy percent isopropyl alcohol. I was suppose to pour alcohol into his red, raw ears? Really?

Boric acid and gentian violet make up the other two ingredients. Boric acid is an astringent and it soothes the pain, while gentian violet battles the yeast and bacteria that has made the ear it’s warm damp home. The alcohol dries it all out creating an uninhabitable environment for the bacteria.

I was able to purchase the necessary materials from Shopper’s Drug Mart for less than $10 and headed home with my squeeze bottle to try out the new ear treatment. I mixed up 750 ml of 70% isopropyl alcohol + 4 tablepoons of boric acid + 10 drops of gentian violet = Blue Powder Ear Treatment

Since Misiu’s ears where so horribly infected I was told to flood the ears with solution (don’t massage) and leave the dog alone. DO THIS OUTSIDE. The gentian violet dyes everything purple. Your dog’s ears will be purple as well as anything else that the solution touches. Your skin, furniture, concrete, floor and I mean everything.

After only three days of flooding his ears twice a day I noticed they looked less angry. Less red and much less stinky. On the fourth day I flooded his ears and then used a paper towel to gently wipe out some of the gook.

After a week his ears looked a healthy pink (and purple!). I used Q-tips dipped in solution to clean out the bottom of his ears. I continued the treatment for another week to make sure the infection was gone. For the first time in months my boy was finally comfortable.

I used the Blue Powder Ear Treatment once a month as preventative therapy and would give him a squirt whenever he spent a day in the water or if I smelled a hint of infection.

After the first few days Misiu didn’t seem to mind the solution. He cried with the vet solution, but the blue solution was soothing.

Misiu doesn’t realize it, but he has helped so many dogs with this experience. Thanks to Misiu (his mini-me) Gizmo gets quick treatment for his chronic ear infections. Misiu and Gizmo share many traits: the love of food, napping, cuddling, allergies and chronic ear infections.

I’m sure Gizmo would give Misiu a big cuddle of thanks for finding the cure to any ear infection.