Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who's a big turkey?

We visited our sons over Thanksgiving. Boodles and Juniper are always happy to make the trip, and then dismayed to see who they are visiting. Juniper is standing next to my son's dog, Beefeater Maximus. Juniper weighs 80 pounds, and is by no means a small dog...
And here is Sequoia next to my daughter-in-law. That's a lot of dog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oliver and Paco transcend Space and Time

Odd things happened in the dog park on Sunday- Oliver and Paco took advantage of a sstem of connected wormholes to bedevil Gus. Oliver is more skilled than Paco, but then, Paco is just a puppy.

Boodles was haunted by an apparition.

Turned out to be Tucker.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yes, that's Juniper, sporting a purple bandage. She tore her dew claw running at the dog park last week. We watched it a couple of days, and when it looked like it was not going to heal well on its own, took her to the vet. She got her claw clipped, the fancy bandage, a prescription for antibiotics, and the ever popular and attractive E collar.

She was not happy. However, she only had to wear it the first night- after that she did not try to remove the bandage. She did however, walk VERY SLOWLY when we went out for our walks- unless she saw a cat or squirrel. Then suddenly her foot did not hurt.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Geriatric Dogs

Whenever we choose to love an animal, we open ourselves up for the heartbreak caused by the fleetingness of their lives. They always leave us too soon.

In the past week, I've seen two videos about elderly dogs. This is about Baxter, a chow mix who died last week at age 19. Melissa James, Baxter's person, wrote a book called Moments With Baxter, about his career as a Hospice Therapy Dog

read more about Baxter and his work at Melissa's website

The other video features Otto, a 20 year old dachshund-terrier mix living in the UK who has been officially named (I don't know by whom) as the world's oldest dog. He seems extremely spritely, I would never have guessed he was that old.

I took Juniper to the vet tonight for a Bordetella booster in preparation for a trip. While there, I asked our vet about a flu vaccination (see comment on the last post for more about that) and about some arthritis issues I thought she might be having. After a blood test to rule out Lyme disease (my vet tells me that 68% of dogs who present the symptoms Juniper was showing are Lyme positive)we talked about what to watch for and what to do if her front leg stiffness gets worse. At 5 years old, I still think of her as a relatively young dog. However, she is always one of the older dogs at the dog park; most dogs who come there are less than 2 years old.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dog Flu

With so much attention focused on H1N1, or "Swine" flu, it's not surprising that a topic of conversation at the dog park would be Dog Flu. Someone had heard about a flu that was highly contagious and fatal, and concern was high.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, H3N8, or Canine Influenza was first seen in 2004, affecting racing greyhounds in Florida. During the summer of 2004, 14 racetracks in 6 states were affected. In 2005, 20 racetracks in 11 states showed outbreaks, and since then 30 states have reported the illness. Currently, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York are said to have high levels of infections (as of September 2009).

The symptoms of H3N8 are respiratory; cough, sneezing, runny nose. The Canine Influenza FAQ, released by the University of Florida, says dogs do not have a built up immunity to this relatively new virus, and "Virtually all exposed dogs become infected; about 80% develop flu‐like illness, while another 20% do not become ill. " As with human influenza, it is not the primary disease that is fatal but the secondary infections that can set in while the immune system is compromised. The FAQ goes on to say "Fortunately, most dogs recover within 2 weeks without any further health complications. However, some dogs progress to pneumonia, which is usually due to secondary bacterial infections. While the overall mortality rate for canine influenza is low, the secondary pneumonia can be life‐threatening. There is no evidence for age or breed susceptibility for developing pneumonia during canine influenza.

How are dogs exposed to H3N8? Again, as with human influenza, the virus is spread by breathing particulates coughed or sneezed by an infected dog, direct contact with an infected dog, or with surfaces, food and water bowls, leashes, hand and clothing. However, the virus is inactivated by washing with soap and water. The virus is highly contagious, and infected dogs can shed the virus for 7 to 10 days while symptomatic, and infected dogs should be quarantined for 2 weeks. Dogs most at risk are those living in shelters or who spend time in other communal situations with high turn-over; grooming facilities, dog parks, doggie day care, etc. Dogs with minimal contact with other dogs have low risk of infection.

There is a vaccine for H3N8. The vaccine does not prevent infection, but limits the severity and secondary effects of the disease. Vaccinated dogs become less ill, and are less contagious. It is considered to be a "lifestyle" vaccine- appropriate for dogs whose lifestyle causes them to be more exposed to the virus. Dogs who get a Bordetella vaccine might benefit from the influenza vaccine, because the risk groups are the same.

Prevention at the dog park. While we can't keep dogs from mouthing each other (As one dog owner said to me "They don't have hands, this is how they grab each other!"), perhaps it is a good idea not to let dogs drink from a communal water source. Most important would be for owners to keep sick dogs home. I plan to get Juniper and Boodles vaccinated, just to be safe. There is always a lot of dog spit exchanged at the dog park.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interesting Faces

This past weekend was the weekend of interesting faces at the dog park.

Boodles, Juniper and I spend quite a bit of time at the dog park. We're part of a fairly static group of regulars who come at about the same time in the evening. A slightly different group comes on the weekends. I always assume I know all the dogs who use the park, since we are there so much. This week there were some faces we hadn't seen for a while, and some new-to-us faces. All were pretty cute.

You may remember Gnarly, a sweetheart of an English Bulldog who played with Boodles back in April. We ran into him at the park this weekend. He's about 6 months old now, bigger, but still pretty cute.

One of the new-to-me faces was this good looking character. I loved the way the color splits his face. The picture is blurry because he never stopped moving.

This gorgeous baby was reluctant to come into the park, but warmed up to it after a while.
Huck acted as good-will ambassador and greeted him.
Dakota greeted Willow a young German Shepard, too.

The ground was exceptionally interesting to the children.

Boodles got an invitation to play from another new-to-us pup. She took him up on it, too.

But she was willing to share her friend with others.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Return from limbo

I'd like to apologize for my absence. This was a long, hard summer for me. I read someplace that 2009 is being called the Summer of Death because of all the celebrity deaths that occurred. For me, the Summer of Death is more personal. One of my sisters passed away in late July- today marks the 2 month anniversary of her death. It has been hard for me to write because she was my most avid reader, travelling to our dog park through the blog despite being 2000 miles away and unable to leave her house. My pleasure in reporting on the antics of the dogs at the park has been diminished a bit by knowing that she won't be calling me to tell me how cute this one or that one was.

However, the cuteness of dogs survives even the worst personal loss. I think my sister would have roared with laughter to see Maggie playing in the water fountain, and I would have gotten an email saying "HOW CUTE!!!!!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Extreme cuteness at the dog park

When we got back from our trip we visited the dog park right off on Monday evening. There was the cutest 11 week old Sharpei there with our friend Ellie, the Pewter Poodle. Of course, I had forgotten my camera. Amanda, Ellie's owner said that the pup belonged to her niece, and she would be bringing him to the park on Monday evenings, a sort of puppy sitting arrangement.

We went up to the park this Monday, taking the camera along. Alas, no Sharpei, but there was equal cuteness. A bouncing ball of dandelion fluff turned out to be Rajah, a 12 week old Great Pyrenees.

Pyries are great dogs- I have a friend who has working Pyries who guard her flock of goats, and I have a another friend with Pyrie house dogs. Rajah is a house dog- in fact, she will be a college dog, living with some SU students.

Boodles and Rajah got along great- in fact, Boodles liked her much better than the human baby who just spent the past 2 weeks at our house. Probably because Elliott, the human baby, didn't get the whole play bow deal... And she took attention from Miss AD dog- (she has an Attention Deficit problem- there is never enough attention on her...)

Rajah and Boodles played,
and plotted.
Boodles egged Rajah on to tease some other dogs,
and Boodles dared Rajah to try the ultimate in scariness...
Attack on the Grumpy...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Travelling with dogs

We just returned from a 10 day, 2000 mile trip with Juniper and Boodles. It was a good trip- I enjoy travelling with them, although I would not be able to do it so freely if my children and my in-laws were not so tolerant of dogs. (In fact, my sister-in-law is such a good woman, we once attended Thanksgiving dinner at her house where there were somewhere around 20 people and 8 dogs, 4 of hers and 4 extras including my son's two English Mastiffs. That was a full house, believe me.)

I assume the dogs like going with us- they like riding in the car, and find the rest stops interesting. In the past we have made various arrangements when we travel- we have boarded in kennels near our home, and when my son lived in a no-dog apartment, we boarded in a kennel near his house. We have stayed in pet-friendly motels, like the ones found on this site. The daughter of a friend pet-sat for us in our house. We stay at my son's house, where there are the two Mastiffs, and now two cats. (Juniper found the infant kitten alarming, Boodles was intrigued. The kitten had no fear of any of them.)

This time we cobbled together a couple of different methods. The dogs stayed with us while at our sons and sister-in-laws houses, but when we went to visit my parents I knew that wouldn't work. I looked on the internet to find a boarding kennel near them. We had quite a few choices; we went with Bed and Biscuits Resort and Pet Spa in Eldon MO. It's tricky to choose a kennel over the internet- I explored the website, and then talked to the owner on the phone for quite a while. If, when we arrived, the premises had been substantially different than we expected, we would have made different plans. As it turns out, we were really pleased with the site, and would take the dogs there again.

I usually keep a copy of the vet records for each dog in the glove compartment of the car, Before the trip- I make sure we have leashes and collars as well as their food and water bowls, and food and water to go in the bowls. Neither is interested in eating along the way, not even treats, (unless, of course, we stop and buy people food.) Both dogs are microchipped, but they also have ID tags on their collars. When we stop, we make sure the dogs are well under control before we get out of the car- it is my nightmare that one of them would get loose and run onto the Interstate. While we walk, we keep them well under control as well- not everyone finds our dogs as adorable as we do. And we always clean up after them- we have dog waste bags attached to each leash so no matter where we go we are prepared.

When we travel with Boodles and Juniper, we stop frequently at rest stops so we can all get out and walk around. We haven't found that this makes the trip longer, and, in fact, we feel like it is healthier for the humans in the group as well. I keep maps of the states we are going to be passing through, and we always know where the next rest stop is. By now, I think we have probably visited all of them along our route. Recently I read an article that said perhaps it was not especially healthy for the dogs to visit the pet rest areas where thousands of other dogs have already been. I hadn't thought of that, but truthfully, while we stay out of areas marked No Pets, we don't usually go just to the marked pet area.

We carry our own road food with us as well, so we don't have to risk leaving the dogs in the car while eating. Rarely, when the temperature is mild and there is a breeze, the dogs are in the shade and we can park where we can see the car, we will eat at a restaurant.

We don't have dog seat belts or crates. We drive a Prius, and crates for these dogs would not fit. We had a dog seat belt for our last dog, and he fought it continuously. I am not sure how it would work with these two- Boodles prefers to lounge all over the seat, and Juniper never lays down when in the car. She sits up straight the entire 13 hour trip.

Even though we usually plan for the dogs to stay with us, I asked my daughter-in-laws to check out local kennels, in case we need to board for some reason. We ran into a glitch this time- we didn't need to board, but we thought we would treat the dogs to a day at the PetSmart Doggy Daycamp. Unfortunately, they required that both dogs have a Bordatella shot within the last 6 months. We always get a Bordatella shot yearly, but Boodles had hers last September, 9 months ago. We could have gotten the shot at the vet inside PetSmart, but they had a 48 hour waiting period between getting the shot and entering daycamp, so we weren't able to go. Next time we visit I will be sure all shots are current for where we are going, not just current for being at home.

You can find more tips for travelling with dogs here.

Here are some pictures from our travel- Juniper has found a way to boost her telepathic power when it's time to send us a message. Here she is beaming instructions to me by laying her ear over the top of Boodles head and hooking up in series. This allows her to use Boodles brain power as well as her own.
Just because Juniper doesn't lay down during the trip, it doesn't mean she doesn't sleep. She often uses Boodles as a leaning post.
This is the tiny kitty trying to play with the Mastiff's ear.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day at the Dog Spa

In preparation for a trip to visit family, Boodles and Juniper spent the day at a Doggie Spa. They got mani/pedi's ( or would that be pedi/pedis?) and baths. Juniper got a special Furminator treatment to pull out all of last year's out-of-style undercoat, and I think she might have gotten a Brazilian Wax...

Boodles, however, went for the Doggie Makeover Package. Short, stylish and cool for the summer. Take a look at the Before and After pictures below.
Boodles before the makeover.

Boodles after the makeover.

It was astonishing to me- I took a collie into the groomer, and got back a St. Bernard!

Ryan, at PetSmart in Chambersburg did a terrific job on both of them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Furry Funday

Sunday was Furry Funday here in Shippensburg. An annual fundraiser for the local shelters, Furry Funday is always the first Sunday in June. Activities, contests, displays and vendors all gather at the township park.

We took the girls, stopping off to play at the dogpark first. We paid our $5.00, and made the circuit of the various tents arranged around the stage. The first group we ran into was the Cumberland Valley Shelter, where we got Juniper. She said hello to some of the people who took care of her, and they told her how good she looked. We stopped for a minute at the 4H Guide Dog display. An agility course was set up near one end of the park, and we took both dogs out to see if they were agile. Take a look at the lengths Boodles went to to avoid the obstacles.

Juniper was a lot more direct- when asked to go through the tunnel, she simply ran to the fence and crawled through to be with me.

In our stroll through the vendors, we got a nail trim for each dog for a $5 donation to the shelters, bought a Sporn halter system to see if we can stop Boodles from pulling. We also bought a dog water bottle. This is just a regular bottle with a trough attached that flips down for them to drink from. We went for a 2 mile hike recently, and they got pretty thirsty before we returned. I am tempted to make them carry the bottle themselves.

Lots of other dogs were in attendance as well. We saw many of our dog park friends, large and small. Look at this Bernese Mountain Dog pup- I really wanted to put my hands on it. The Mason-Dixon BMD rescue group was there as well. In fact, there were a lot of breed specific rescue groups represented. I had no idea there were so many around here.

Before and after the Furry Funday events we played at the dog park- more about that later-

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Motown hit

Golden R and the Background Hounds were best known for the classic R&B favorites "Three Dogs in the Fountain", "I Heard it at the Dog Park", "Please (Chase) Mr. Postman" and "I'll Pee There". After vanishing from the music scene for a few years, a collaboration with Jack White in the 2003 culminated in "My Doorbell"* and brought them back into the public eye. Now in retirement, the group will be performing occasionally at Bubba's Dog Park in Shippensburg, PA.

For more dog music, click here.
*Click to view The White Stripes - My Doorbell (inexplicably without dogs.)

You also might like this video: One Dog Show
One Dog Show

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baby face!

A new face was seen at the dog park over Memorial Day weekend- this very cute English bulldog, named Gnarly, is just a few months old. He had absolutely no fear of the bigger dogs, who treated him carefully, for the most part. Below is a short movie of his interactions with some of the other dogs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Drama at the Dog Park

It has been rather a long time since I posted here, and I apologize for that. I was working a temp job that drained me of energy to do anything once I got home. But that is over now, and I have tales to tell. This time it is the tale of how I was the bitch at the dog park.

Every time I tell my father something that happens at the dog park, he says "I just can't believe that all those dogs just get along together and there are no problems." For the most part, things do go very smoothly there- the dogs either play well together, or they don't interact with each other, but there are few instances of irritation or aggression. I have heard of some, but have not witnessed any.

However, last night we had an injury, not from aggression or irritation, but from overly enthusiastic play.

Boodles loves to be chased. She doesn't much like to chase other dogs, but she adores being chased. She sprints, she turns on a dime, her footwork is fancy and her speed is tremendous, but almost invariably the chase ends with Boodles on the ground, the chaser demanding homage. She surrenders, and then they hop up and do it all over again- great good fun. The pictures below show her on two different days in a typical end of chase stance with her buddy Gus, as a weimaraner looks on and Juniper pretends disinterest. Below that, Homer declares victory. Boodles lets everyone win.

But since dogs don't have hands, and they DO have teeth, sometimes unexpected events occur. Last night Boodles was playing with a couple of other dogs (not Gus or Homer) and received a bite at some point. She never yelped, never stopped playing and I wouldn't have even known she was hurt except that she was bleeding. We cleaned the wound up last night, and worked some over-the-counter topical antibiotic into it. I called the vet for advice, because I couldn't get the fur on her neck out of the way enough to see what was going on there. At one point it seemed as though there were two puncture wounds, at others, just one. Since she didn't continue to bleed, showed no signs of being in pain, and there seemed to be no crushing injuries underneath, we decided we could wait until the morning to be seen. This morning, Chuck shaved the area around her wound with his hair clippers, and we discovered it was just one small puncture. We cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide, again worked more antibiotic into it and it seems fine. We'll keep a close eye on it for infection, since puncture wounds can be dangerous. I am not terribly worried about disease-
boodles bite

there were two dogs who might have been the owner of the tooth that got Boodles, and both dogs were in good health, appeared normal and played normally. While that can't be the sole indicator, it is a requirement of the dog park that all dogs be vaccinated, and all of Boodle's shots are up-to-date.

OK, so far you have heard nothing of how I was the bitch of the dog park. Are you assuming I shrieked at the other dog owners for allowing my poor baby to be ravaged? Nope- this is how dogs play. I'm not happy about it, but it was avoidable only by staying away from the dog park. My kids got skinned knees when they played on the playground, and we washed the wounds, talked about how to avoid getting hurt in that way again, and moved on.

The bitch part was earlier- when I arrived, there were some people in the large dog area with two small children. I am guessing 4 and 5, or 5 and 6, in that range. I reminded them that the rules of the park are that children under 10 should not come in. After another dog park user suggested that one of their dogs was not playing well with the others, the people packed up and left. I felt terribly officious, and considered not saying anything. I mean, after all these people had big dogs, and one must assume the children live with them. However, the rules exist for their safety as well as the safety and well-being of other park patrons. Some of these dogs are very large- Juniper weighs 80 pounds, Boodles is a slim 68, but runs like a juggernaut. Others are even larger. They don't always pay attention to where people are standing as they run. I would hate to think of these kids being in the path of the chase, and getting knocked down, perhaps run over. And what about that errant tooth that gave Boodles her wound? It drew blood through her very thick fur- how quickly would it puncture skin?

I've never been one to blindly follow rules, and I tend to question authority to an uncomfortable degree. But I would think this would just be common sense- don't bring small children around a lot of loose, strange dogs playing together. And I guess I will continue to be a bitch about stuff like this. I don't want children to be hurt. Our dog park is an amazing resource, and I don't want to lose it over an avoidable incident.