Friday, July 1, 2016

Making a Doggy Go-Bag for Home and Away

I take my dogs lots of places all year long.  If I go somewhere, odds are at least one or two of my dogs are with me.  However, I learned long ago about taking my dogs in a vehicle and the myriad of things that can go wrong; as well as how to travel in extreme weather conditions.  One thing I’ve always done is to make up and maintain a “doggy go-bag.”  Like a human go-bag, its contents are necessities for the host of possibilities you may experience when traveling with your dog(s).

I encourage everyone that takes their dog for car rides to make their dog(s) a doggy go-bag.  Moms and dads may better relate by thinking of it as a doggy version of a baby diaper bag - that big bag of stuff you carry/carried for your baby whenever you leave/left home so you'd have everything needed to care for the baby away from home.  The doggy go-bag is essentially the same thing. It should contain spare collars, leashes, water, toys, and a basic doggy first aid kit.  You can add other things depending on what you and your dog do; and where you go.  Just remember to replenish the water and first aid items as you use them so you're never caught without what you need.

Things to consider:  Akin to traveling with kids, making a go-bag for dogs is all about the things you may need and the things your dog will want when you go somewhere.  Things to consider when packing the go-bag include: time of year and temperatures typical of that season; weather types (i.e. snow, rain, heat…); duration of time the dog(s) will be in the vehicle; destination needs (i.e. leashes, toys, food, water, bowls…); duration of travel; and most importantly, doggy first aid and emergency kits. Also, and this is key, think of the potential things that could happen to extend your time in the vehicle; and the things that could happen to cause emergency needs for your dog (vehicle break-down, involved in an accident, detours on your trip, dog gets injured somehow or becomes sick...)  If you plan ahead and prepare for at least the minimum needs, then packing a go-bag with useful items is easy.  

Things I carry in the doggy go-bag:  My go-bag include the following: towels, multiple rags and wash clothes, spare leashes, spare collars, a roll of twine, duct tape, electrical tape, plastic Ziploc baggies, a generic first aid kit AND a four foot length of clear flexible surgical tubing, a multi-tool knife, medical tape, self-adhering roll bandages called, “VetWrap,” gauze pads, non-stick pads, Vaseline, a 25’ lightweight rope, Betadine; six bottles of water or more; spare carabiner clips, a spare blanket; spare dog food, dog toys, spare harnesses; and spare treats.  I’m no “MacGyver” but I can do a lot in an emergency if I need to with everything I have in my doggy go-bag alone.  I can at least stabilize an injured animal and get to the vet.  During the winter, I add dog coats and a couple blankets.

The doggy go-bag may seem silly to you, but if you live or lived on a farm, you understand that stuff happens and when you’re not at your home, even a quick jog to the house can be time-consuming and life-threatening time spent.  If you’ve been stuck on the road during a break-down, you need to be sure your dog can survive the wait for help as well as you and your kids.  If you’ve been in or witnessed an accident, there’s never enough help or stuff on-hand until the emergency units arrive-again, with a dog, it could be critical time spent waiting if you’re not prepared with some basic emergency items.  Obviously, things like rags, towels and blankets are just plain handy when you take dogs somewhere and they make any kind of mess. If they're like mine, they’re active athletes and swimmers that may need to be cleaned off or have something to cover a seat or cargo space to keep it from being wet or dirty.  The toys are of course, things to do with your dog when you go somewhere.  I have spare Frisbees and tennis balls in mine.  The spare treats-you never know when your dog may get frustrated or frightened and getting him/her to do something may be a challenge.  Having treats on hand may get your dogs’ attention.  You also never know when you may happen on a stray dog somewhere so having some things on hand could be helpful in catching and providing emergency care as needed until you can get the animal to a shelter or vet.

I know it seems excessive.  I’ve been told that many times by many people. I don’t care because I’m also the one everyone always runs to when there is an emergency or they otherwise need something I have and they don’t.  My point is that you need to have some basics on-hand in your vehicle for your dog.  If you have or had kids, you probably lug/lugged around a diaper bag with spare diapers, clothes, cleaning items and spare food/bottle for the kids – this is your dogs’ diaper bag but calling it a “diaper bag” is silly. During the summer, water tops the list along with a bowl or baggie for them to drink from.  Yes, a folded down baggie can be a great dog water/food bowl in a pinch; and the bottom half of a clean water/soda bottle can be a great bowl too.  Spare leashes and collars never hurt, spare towels and spare toys.  I will always advocate asking your vet for a list of things to include in making your own doggy first aid kit and having that in your doggy go-bag.

Be well and be good to yourself and others!

~ Chris

Cinder's Big Adventure to Visit Wolfie

Cinder's got a half-sister, Wolfie, that lives on a sheep farm in Michigan.  Cinder and Wolfie live very different lives, but share their various adventures and other tidbits on their Facebook pages.  This story is Cinder's telling of going to visit Wolfie on her farm.

June 28, 2016
As told by Cinder on her Facebook page: 
 Part 1: The Trip:  
Hu-mom getted the BCB (Border Collie Bus) all fixeded for us so I beez most comfortable and safe for long, long, long ride.  It beed ‘bout 175 miles (I not know ‘bout miles) away and ‘posed to be only ‘bout 3-4 hours in BCB.  I kinda know hours cuz we gots schedules and I know hours cuz I know when it beez time to do stuffs, like take care of Ebbie horse or eat.  Hu-mom maked everything in BCB night afore we leaved cuz we leaved really early-afore the sun even waked up.  We beed in hurry to see Wolfie and Cookie and Bear and their hu-mom, Emilie-and SHEEPS!  I not never goed for such long ride afore either and Hu-mom not thinked I beed able do long ride and not stop so she thinked we stop sometimes and gets out.  We beed on road ‘bout maybe a while just leave our home area cuz guess why?- ‘STRUKSHUN everywhere!  I not know what that beez but it maked Hu-mom crazy!  Strukshun beez something bout road that maked us go very slow for long ways, LOTS of times.  Then, I heared Hu-mom beez aggervaded and she sayed, “Cinder, we’re gonna take a break afore I start driving through barrels and cones and go off-road and cross-country because it would be faster.”  We taked break then and I getted out and seed we beed somewhere I never beed afore.  We goed little walk and getted drinks; then we drived more. 
Just when we beed going good, guess what? MORE STRUKSHUN and now “detour” too.  I not knowed what “detour” beed, but it maked Hu-mom crazier than strukshun and she sayed, “Jiminy this is crazy and we’re already way later than I wanted.”  Finally, we getted almost to Wolfies and guess what? Yep, MORE strukshun that maked us stop and go and stop and go-just when we almost beed there.  Then, I heared Hu-mom, “Cinder! We’re almost there cuz we’re on Wolfie’s road!”
Just after that, we beed at Wolfie’s house!  Hu-mom beed so glad we finally getted there and me too cuz that beed almost lunch time and that beed way longer trip than it ‘posed to beez.  We thinked it beed better if we goed back whole other way when we goed home cuz we goed back on big, big roads but it beed almost the same cuz strukshen beed every road that way too!  Just to visit at Wolfie’s farm taked a long, long, long time, but it beed okay.  That beez end of first story.  I not like how long it taked cuz I beed bored mostly, but I dood good cuz I sleeped lots.  Next part, I tells you ‘bout seeing Wolfie-sis first time ever and some stuff she showeded me.

Part 2: The Arrival & Meeting:  When we FINALLY getted at Wolfie’s I getted out of BCB and beed glad to see we beez at a farm!  We stopped places that beed in city and I not like them much so I beed glad it beed a farm!  After we dood things (you know what we dood, I not tell that part), I meeted Emilie, Wolfie’s hu-mom.  I LIKE Emilie-mom, she beed really, really, really nice and she loved on me and telled me I beed “sweet” and like that.  Then, I seed…WOLFIE-and Cookie and Bear too.  They beed dooding sheep stuff when we getted there so they not beed so nosey ‘bout me as I beed ‘bout them.  But Emilie-mom getted Wolfie to come see me.  

At first, I not beed sure ‘bout it cuz Wolfie beed kind ‘cited to meet me, but I not so sure what she thinked and I beed little on guard at first; but I ‘cided I likeded her-she dood beez my half-sister and stuff so I gots to like her. But other thing I not knowed, I beez bigger than her!  I not never knowed that.  I ‘cided that beez my ‘vantage cuz I might cood make the rules if I not like hers!  I beez ‘bout little bit taller and Hu-mom sayed I gots bigger bones like my real mom.  I also finded something else out that I not sure I like:  I not know MY Hu-mom almost getted Wolfie when she beed a baby cuz Hu-mom seed her and really, really, liked her afore her hu-mom seed her!  You b’lieve that?!  MY Hu-mom almost ‘cided Wolfie beed live at MY house!  But, she not dood that cuz she thinked Wolfie beed happier on real farm.  What? She not think I beez happy on real farm too?  Dood my Hu-mom beez crazy?  Anyway… both our hu-moms beed talk ‘bout us like we not knowed, but we dood know.  When we  maked friendly and I understanded Wolfie beez mostly the boss of the farm, everything beed all good.  Then, we goed where Emilie-mom beed dooding sheep work and I seed really for real sheeps!  They beed very noisy, talking sheeps talk and not never beed quiet at all either. 


Emilie-mom beed in with sheeps cuz she gived them medcines and shots.  Wolfie dood herd work and I beed on long leash to watch cuz I not dood know ‘bout sheeps and herding.  I just beed watch Wolfie and the sheeps.  Wolfie dood mostly good work and sometimes sheeps dart around and I seed Wolfie try maked them mind her.  Sometimes Emilie-mom telled her dood stuff and she dood it.  I getted little bored cuz I beed on leash so Hu-mom letted me off leash.  Guess what I dood then?  I goed and getted in BCB cuz I beed hot, bored, and thirsty.  Hu-mom gived me drink and then she goed back to sheeps so I goed back too. 
I watcheded Wolfie and then, I thinked maybe we cood play little, but Hu-mom called me back cuz I not ‘posed to bother Wolfie on duty.  So, I pretend I knowed what to dood with sheeps and I beed watch  them too.                                    

 But that beez boring after while so I want to see what Emilie-mom dooding to sheeps in really little space called, “chute.”  It not like MY chute for agility at all!  It beez like a outside hallway in sheeps outside place.  Emilie-mom beed dooding shots and medcines but it looky like sheeps wrestling to me!  I thinked she beed sheeps wrestle and it maked me beez nosey.  I getted at end of chute thingy and suddenly, sheeps start coming like they gonna ‘scape or something so I pretend I know herding and I barked at ‘em so they stop.
But then, Hu-mom and I haved to move away cuz I not ‘posed to bark at sheeps in chute cuz it maked ‘em not dood something they ‘posed to do.  Emilie-mom sayed it beed okay cuz sometimes all the dogs dood that, but this not right time to dood that.  I goed to BCB for ‘nother drink and wait for Wolfie to have break from work to play. I goed atween BCB and sheeps ‘til Wolfie beed freed to play.  It beed a while, but that beed okay.  I still not meeted Cookie and Bear cuz they beed looky at sheeps and not care ‘bout me; and cuz I beez new and Emilie-mom not want to overwhelm me.  I seed them sometimes, but I not cood be near them either so nobody dood play with me when Emilie-mom beed work with sheeps.  After sheeps work, both our hu-moms haved lunch.  Wolfie goed in special place outside while I goed with hu-moms in house…cuz I beez a house dog.  They sayed I beez, “a princess.”  I not sure what that means, but I think that not beez nice as it seems!  I think it beez maked fun of me.  I not really care tho’.  I always beez near Hu-mom cuz THAT beez MY job.  I not like it when I not can see my Hu-mom cuz it make my job lots more harder.  My other jobs be boss of my uncles and play flyer; and SWIM!  I not gots sheeps at my farm so I not need to know herding sheeps.  Asides, I thinked I beez a QUEEN cuz I makes the rules at my house!  Anyway, they haved lunch and dood some stuff so I stayed in BCB while they dood some stuff.  That beez all of this story for now.  Next part beez I teached Wolfie about FLYERS! And how I burneded off my paw pads that maked my feets hurted really bad later.

Part 3 of My Visit with Wolfie:  Wolfie showed me her job dooding sheeps herding.  She beez good at it.  I might cood dood it too if I haved sheeps to herd, but I not gots sheeps.  I haves FLYERS.  Hu-moms taked us to pond place down the lane.  They gots funny pond cuz it gots stuffs in it everywhere!  It gots plants that sticks up around where bank or beach ‘posed to beez; and funny floating plants in the whole pond.  I never seed pond with all that stuffs in it afore.  So, Wolfie not dood swim like me cuz her pond gots too much stuffs in it.  She just goed in and getted wet and getted out again.  I thinked I try swim, but it not work too much so I not cood swim either-just getted wet lots.  Anyway, we goed there and only place to play flyer beed on gravel lane atween pond on both sides.  I beed okay with that-I play flyer everywhere. 

When Hu-mom showed Wolfie the flyer, Wolfie not never seed one afore so she not knowed it beez a fun toy.  So, Wolfie watcheded me a few times.  Then, Wolfie thinked she figgered it out and she tried playing flyer.  She seed Hu-mom throw it and she runned and then jumpy really high and twisty really good, but she not seed where flyer goed and missed it.  Then we dood it again and she beed so bizzee dooding tricky jumps that she not seed where flyer beed and missed it.  I tried tell her she gots to looky and just only jump when she seed it, but she haved to learn it herself. After she stoppeded being trick jumpy queen and just run and jump plain jumps, she catched flyer too!  But she droppeded flyer on road and not take it to hu-moms to throw again. ‘Sted, she just droppeded flyer on road and watch it like it beed a sheeps!  I try show her she gots to take it to a hu-mom to throw for her, but she not dood figger that part out very good.  Mostly, when she catcheded it, she droppeded it and I taked it to Hu-mom for her.  Only problem beed that when we beed on gravel lane, I runned and slide-stoppeded lots of times and that maked my paw pads getted skinned in the gravel; and THAT maked my feets hurted
really bad later.  I not notice my feets beed skinned then cuz I beed have fun; but later, I beed very sore.  I beed limpy whole rest of time there cuz of that.  On way to house, Hu-mom throwed flyer in other places and watched who getted it and stuffs.  I getted it mostly, but sometimes Wolfie dood gooder catches and stuffs too. She gonna beez really good at flyer if Emilie-mom gets her a flyer.   That beez all ‘bout this part. Next part beez ‘bout rest of our visit.

Part 4:  “My Van, My Mom,” Meeting Others & NO Ranger Ride:  When we goed back to house from flyer play, my feets getted sore.  My front foot beed worstest and I beed little limpy.  Hu-mom thinked I need break cuz she not knowed my feets beed skinned yet-she thinked I twisted my leg when I skidded to get flyer.   I beed curious cuz I seed Cookie and Bear and thinked I want to meet them.  Cookie beed okay.  She kinda getted a little in my space and I beed so tired and sore that I beed mean at her ‘bout it.  She not beez very bold and she goed away, but I looky at her and beed growl cuz she beed closer to Hu-mom than I want too.  I getted in trouble cuz I beed mean at Cookie.  I meeted Bear through fence and I beed grumpy at her and her at me.  I just beed too tired and not beed in mood; and I beed hurted but hu-moms not know how much yet cuz I only limp just a little bit cuz I not weak.  I probly beez good friends with Cookie and Bear like Wolfie if I not beez so tired and sore, but not then.  I goed and getted in BCB cuz I gotted in trouble and I not wanna beez with others when I beez in trouble. 
Hu-mom comed to BCB to check on me and Wolfie comed over too.  I beed mean at Wolfie cuz I thinked she gets in my BCB when I beez try to beez alone and thinked ‘bout stuff; and rest my feets.  Wolfie understanded, but I not really need beez so mean.  I getted in little trouble ‘bout that too.  I haved bad time after we played flyer cuz I just beez too tired and too sore.  Hu-mom maked me stay in crate in the house and they goed do other stuffs with other dogs and I beed rest.  I beed so glad I getted some quiet time cuz I needed to rest.

Hu-moms ‘cided gets a ride in Ranger and see the farm cuz it beez big.  They also gots sheeps in other place on farm so they needed check on them.  Other Borders gots to dood sheeps check with hu-moms.  They beed gone long time cuz they beed all over farm.  When they getted back, they dood few things and getted supper.  Then they goed back out and I goed too.  When the hu-moms dood more sheeps stuff, I goed to BCB cuz I not dood sheeps. 
  They feeded baby sheeps that beez in baby sheeps special place.  Then hu-moms thinked I cood go with Wolfie to other big, big field and we play (cuz they still not knowed how bad my feets hurted cuz I not limp much yet).  To gets at other field beez a run for Borders and a Ranger ride for hu-moms.  But Hu-mom thinked I not should run with Ranger thingy cuz she thinked I not cood tell difference ‘tween it and a car; and I might beez at home and thinked it beez fun to chase cars cuz I runned with Ranger. 
So they thinked I should ride in Ranger with them cuz other Borders sometimes ride in Ranger.  I not want to ride in Ranger. I thinked it beez a bad thingy and I not like it so I not want to get in and even cheese and cookies not make me gets in.  I runned and getted in BCB and looky at Hu-mom from BCB.  She keeped try gets me come and ride in Ranger but it not ever worked and both hu-moms gived up.  Then both hu-moms shutted me in BCB and we three goed to big field to play.  When we getted there, I finally haved to show them how much my feets hurted.  I beed more limpy and I not want to chase flyer like usual.  Finally, I getted so bad, I not know which feets to hold up cuz they all hurted.  Hu-moms looky at my legs and feet and they both beed surpriseded how my feets beed all red.  So, we goed back to house.  It beed dark then so hu-moms goed in and talked a little and getted ready for bed.  We goed to bed and I beed glad cuz I beed so tired and my feets beed so sore. 

In morning, we getted awake early and beed quiet ‘til Emilie-mom comed down and we knowed she beed wake.  We all eated breakfast and stuff.  I thinked my feets beed more sore than night afore and I not really even want to go potty cuz I not want to walk.  Hu-moms called me “princess” and beed really nice, but I just layed down while they eated and talked.  Then it beed time to go.  I really, really like Emilie-mom and Wolfie; and even Cookie and Bear but I beed so glad when Hu-mom sayed we beed ready for home.  I missed Hu-dad and uncles too so I beed ready for home.

That beez all the stories ‘bout my visit with Wolfie.  I haved big adventure.  Hu-mom sayed I dood mostly good cuz we beed in BCB for long, long ride; I meeted Emilie-mom, Wolfie, and sheeps; we played flyer with Wolfie; we sleeped over in strange place… I dood pretty good mostly.  I just beed little bit mean but I just beed too tired and sore so I not would beez mean if I getted to visit longer or my ride there beed shorter like it ‘posed to beez without strukshun and detours. 

When I getted home, I beed so glad to see Hu-dad and uncles.  Hu-dad huggeded me with lots of big hugs and when he finded out ‘bout my  feets hurted so bad, he maked me feeled gooder.  He carried me back in house when I beed done outside cuz my feets hurted so bad I not want to walk back in house.  I beed rest and now, my feets feel gooder again. 

~The End.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long Time, No Posts! Sorry!

I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post to the blog.  I've undergone four major surgeries in the last 16 months-two on my right shoulder.  The first shoulder surgery went awry and I had to be immobile for 10 weeks only to discover it was actually going to be seven months.  I had a second shoulder surgery and that went spectacularly well; and I'm still in the recovery and physical therapy stages following it.  Just now able to sit at the computer for any length of time more than five minutes.

Because of my surgeries and recoveries, there haven't been many adventures to report or any new training endeavors for Cinder. We've just been hanging out together as BFF's, honing some things she already knew and solidifying our relationship.  She continues to enjoy swimming and playing "flyer" (Frisbee); and harrassing her uncles.  However, we did recently have one very big adventure for us both.  Since she has a FB page of her own, she's shared it there; and I'll post the stories she shared about her big adventure separately from this.

Hopefully, as I have time and increasing ability to be online, I'll be more consistent about posting items here, on the blog.  Hope all is well with those of you who do follow the blog; and we hope to hear from you too!

Be well and be good to yourself and others!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Was it Fair to Cinder?

I’ve spent most of the last 18 months with Cinder wondering if I was insane to have kept her after my health took a sudden dive within weeks of getting her as a small puppy.  After all, how fair is it to keep a puppy when your physical limitations will interfere with raising and training a puppy of any kind, but especially a high energy Border Collie that requires a LOT of regular exercise and activities?  But, I didn’t really know my health issues were going to be so lingering and long-lasting; I’d thought them fairly temporary until Cinder was nearly a year old.  By then, she’d become such a fixture in our lives that I couldn’t possibly let her go. 

Despite my limitations and Cinder’s youth, we managed to do a lot more than many people ever do with their dogs when they have the time and good health on their side. Cinder learned all the manners of a good house dog; how to travel in the car; she quickly figured out multiple games with balls and soft Frisbees; she learned to dive and swim like a fish; we managed to get through two training classes; she learned how to treat my elderly mother-in-law with care; and when I had my first surgery, she learned how to be my very best, closest companion and personal service dog.

For the brief couple of months during which I was recovering from my back surgery and became regularly mobile again, we enjoyed regular outings and began another training class.  I thought I was going to be able to reclaim my life and we were on the way to being able to start agility this fall.  I was wrong.  My hip, shoulder, and ankle joints filled with arthritis and deterioration causing serious pain that even narcotic pain meds barely make tolerable; and steroid injections I’d had alleviated about 80% of the pain, but they wore off in under 45 days when they’re supposed to last at least 90 – 180 days.  In July, only four months after back surgery, I had a total hip replacement which placed new limits on me - again. Cinder and I were truly mid-way through an advanced obedience class when my doctor told me I’d need the hip replaced and it was done the following week – on the day of our obedience class.  I’d informed the trainer and Brian was allowed to complete the class with Cinder in order to keep her on the learning path.

Cinder has risen to the challenge of being stuck at home most days, content to be my best friend, guardian, and daily companion.  She’s never far from me and never gets into trouble.  In fact, she’s very helpful to both my mind and spirit; and even in getting me up and moving as much as I can.  She’s equally content to lounge with me in the recliner, or going outside to run around the yard for a few minutes as long as I’m out there with her.  I know she’d love to go on daily outings to romp at the “horse house,” friends’ farms and play at the private dog park, or go swimming every day; but she never seems to care what we do so long as we’re together.

I’ve finally concluded that getting and keeping Cinder was pretty bad and sad with respect to the way my health issues have been.  However, Cinder has added new life into our quiet, routine, and busy lives.  She’s kept her uncles more active trying to keep up with her and that makes them healthier by being more active and alert.  She’s kept Brian and I company while adding immeasurable entertainment, skills, and fun into our lives; and she’s kept me company and actually been quite a helper in ways her uncles aren’t.  She has contributed greatly to the happiness and well-being of us all; and she has thrived despite the odds. I can now say, it wasn’t the best idea and timing to get Cinder, a puppy, when we did, but there was no way to see the future; and now, looking back over the last 18 months, I’m not sure how I would’ve stood up to MY challenges without her and she’s certainly risen to meet hers.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want or plan them and it’s very frustrating. But, in the end, things usually work out the way they’re supposed to.  Whether you believe in God, another “Higher Power,” or you’re agnostic, atheistic, or you’re a believer in some sort of “manifest destiny,” things work the way they’re supposed to even if it’s not the way we think they should.  But, I’ve come to realize that Cinder’s a gift and she’s also gifted to be able to somehow comprehend things and adapt to whatever circumstances we seem to find ourselves in.  As a Border Collie, a puppy with the ability to adapt, learn, and thrive in the circumstances she’s endured so far is nothing short of amazing. Most Border Collie puppies are so high energy they truly don’t do well in the kind of lifestyle Cinder’s known for her first 18 months of life.  Most Border Collie puppies would be too energetic and become destructive or neurotic – or both – without a much more rigorously active lifestyle to expend their energy regularly.  Cinder has her moments when her energy gets the better of her and she races through the house, jumping on the furniture and wrestling her uncles until they get aggravated.  But overall, she has adapted and shown great sense, maturity, and ability to accept her situation and behave well.  She’s also shown an amazing level of nurturing and care.  I’m sure she’d be much happier if we could do more fun things and get to romp freely more often, but she seems content with whatever the day brings, including curling up beside me to nap quietly while I rest and pray for the day when we can both do more. 

It’s taken me 18 months to see that Cinder is a gifted girl.  Her gifts eluded me because I’ve been so blinded by what I WANTED to do with her that I haven’t been (and may never be) able to do with her.  I’d had such high hopes to do so many fun things, especially agility, that we haven’t been able to do. NOT doing those things blinded me from seeing what we have done and may yet do. Now, I see that indeed, those things would’ve been great fun and displayed her athletic talents, but she’s perfect if we never do anything differently than we are right now. She’s awesome enough if she doesn’t do anything else.  Now, I’m so glad we kept her and she’s part of our family that I certainly don’t want to imagine life without her.  Is it fair…has it been fair to Cinder to be stuck with me during my failing health situation and not have the kind of life I wanted for her or the kind of life other Border Collies have on farms?  No, but in reality, it doesn’t seem to have hurt her and it’s a far better life than many dogs will ever know.  It’s also not fair to ME that my last puppy and I didn’t get to do the things I wanted to do during her puppyhood. But life isn’t fair and I’m trying to roll with the punches and make lemonade of lemons – after all, if Cinder can make the best of things, then I should too.

That’s all I have to share for now.  Recovering from my back and hip replacement surgery; and preparing for my shoulder replacement surgery makes for a very dull life.  I can tell you this; it would be much duller and even depressing if not for Cinder and her uncles.  I think it’s safe to say that most of the time, it’s not the story of raising Cinder as much as it is about Cinder teaching us something along the way.  This is just another lesson learned and shared as we continue our daily efforts Raising Cinder.

Be well and be good to yourselves and others!


Chris (aka Cinder’s Hu-mom)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Do You Feed Those Dogs to Make Them so Shiny?!

I’ve been asked about the kinds of food and treats I provide for our dogs because they “always seem to have such great coats.”  The answer is very normal and boring:  we buy a no-grain dry dog food produced and distributed by an American company.  Our older two Border Collies have allergies to grains and prompted a switch to no-grain foods about four years ago.  It’s been such a successful change that we have been amazed too.

Since switching to no-grain food, we noticed that not only did the more obvious signs of allergies clear up, but so did several other things we never considered may be tied to their dog food.  Gilley was most allergic and his allergic reactions were: a nasty body odor, constantly licking his front legs and feet, BAD dog breath; and a dull, oily coat.  Buzz had discolored whites of his eyes-often yellowy, bad belching; and emitting noxious fumes from his rear end that could peel paint.  Within less than two weeks of switching to the no-grain dry dog food, all their symptoms were gone!  Cinder has been raised on the same food just because it made the most sense to keep all the dogs on one type of food as long as we can.  Ever since the switch, their coats are wonderful too. 

As for treats, our dogs get a LOT of them.  I like to make homemade dog cookies and the basic recipe for them is here: Easy, Cheap, "Hypoallergenic" Homemade Dog Treats.  I’ve since altered some of the ingredients and methods to find what works.  You can basically add flavors by substituting different meat broths or replacing peanut butter with yogurt, apples, carrots, or bananas. I also use cheeses like cheddar or parmesan in addition to or replacement for peanut butter. 

I realize most people don’t really want to bake their own dog cookies so I also get lazier in the summer because I don’t want to spend my time in the kitchen. For those who still need a no-grain treat for your dogs, usually rice and oat based items can be used.  I have used plain Cheerios (the others have sugar the dogs don’t need), Rice Chex, and Oat Bran cereals.  Our dogs love these cereals just straight out of the package, but if you want to make them more interesting, dust some powdered cheese (like you get for popcorn) on it and watch them scarf those cereal bites fast!

For somewhat higher value treats, I like using dried beef liver.  You can find the recipe for that here: Easy, Cheap & Safe Homemade Liver Treats But, for those who don’t want to make the liver treats (which are actually really cheap and highly nutritious), I’ve begun using human turkey sausage snacks or turkey pepperoni.  The dogs love the turkey sausages or pepperoni, it’s relatively inexpensive; and it keeps really well in the fridge. You can also cut them into small bits to extend the value because all a dog needs for a treat is a piece big enough to taste, so the pieces can be pretty small.  Treats aren’t supposed to be or supplement food – they are rewards and only need be big enough to provide a tasty little bite.

For cool summer treats or as great PUPPY TEETHING treats, I make frozen yogurt cubes. We don’t give them a cube without inserting the cube into a Kong toy though!  Putting the cubes in a Kong toy takes them a little longer to eat and keeps them occupied for about 10-15 minutes.  You can find this idea explained here: Kong Toys are Wonderful Things  I use the cheapest vanilla-honey Greek yogurt to make the yogurt cubes, but other flavors like banana and blueberry are okay too.  I have also used some light fruit juices to make frozen cubes too. While they enjoy any of the cubes, I think our dogs prefer the yogurt cubes.  I have even made frozen peanut butter yogurt cubes by mixing very soft peanut butter with plain yogurt – our guys love those!  Once again, if you buy the cheaper Greek yogurt in a large container, it’s a fairly fast and easy frozen treat that’s also inexpensive.  One trick I’ve learned is that it’s ultra-easy to fill ice cube trays with the yogurt if you put the yogurt into a piping bag or a plastic baggy with a small snip off a bottom corner so you can use it like a piping bag to fill each ice cube space in the ice cube trays.  You can spoon it into the trays, but piping it in is faster and easier in my opinion.

There you have it – all the food and treats we provide for our dogs.  Our treats are very easy and the amount of homemade treats is so much higher than the amount you get when buying the store bought treats.  Aside from that, we know exactly what we’re feeding our dogs, unlike a lot of the store treats with questionable ingredient lists.  It’s also very hard to find cheap no-grain dog treats in our area so we don’t have to make special trips to pet stores to hunt for them, only to pay outrageous prices for small quantities of treats.

Truly, if you are willing to make your own, dog treats can be very cheap, easy, and your dogs will love them!



Pet Peeves About Pet Travel

Over the July 4th weekend I was running errands and preparing for my hip replacement surgery.  I can’t tell you how many things I saw that were scary for dogs because their owners were ignorant.  I’ve addressed these issues in the past, but I guess it can never be stressed enough given the number of people who seem oblivious.  Most of them surround traveling with your dog. My biggest pet peeve about pet travel is how few people think of travel with their pets as important enough to do a few simple things to help try to make it safer for them.

I’ve addressed safe traveling with your dog before so most of you who follow regularly know my feelings about the topic.  I’ll summarize the key points:

  • ·        Letting your dog sit in your lap while you drive may seem cute, but it’s not. It’s dangerous, especially if your dog is one that likes to stand up with his front feet on the steering wheel, your arms, or generally bounces around. One wrong move and your dog in your lap can cause you to have an accident.  I saw a woman nearly wreck over the holiday weekend because her dog jumped on her singular arm on the steering wheel, and caused her to veer sideways, almost careening into a car beside her on the highway-mine! Your dog has no business in the front seats, but especially not in the drivers’ seat! It’s not cute, it’s scary!
  • ·        If you don’t have a vehicle in which to carry your dogs in crates that can be tied down within your vehicle, then your dog should be tethered in your vehicle and not just confined by a divider that keeps your dog within a defined space.  If you’re involved in an accident, tethering the dog will at least keep your dog from making a daring and potentially deadly exit out an opened/broken door or window and escaping or being hit by surrounding traffic. Tethering your dog also ensures that the dog is limited within the vehicle following an accident in which emergency responders may need to extract you/your passengers. The dog being secured is the first step in enabling first responders to provide assistance without concerns regarding the dog attacking or escaping.  Tethering your dog isn’t necessarily about being the safest thing for your dog in event of an accident, but it is about being the safest thing for everyone if the worst should happen.  Smart people always PLAN/EXPECT the worst and hope for the best.
  • ·        Don’t  leave windows down or leave your pet in an open truck bed. Many dogs sustain eye, ear, nose, and mouth injuries because they travel with the wind blowing in their faces. While that may seem to make dogs happy, it’s totally unsafe because objects can be easily blown into their faces; and without helmets and face shields, the dog can be pelted by bugs and debris that cause injuries.  Another issue with open windows is that if the open window enables a dog to stick his head out, then he can actually get his body through it too-this is NOT a wives’ tale. You may think your dog is completely safe and will never be motivated to exit your vehicle-especially via a window-but that’s not always true and it’s also not the only problem.  If your dog can stick his nose/face out of the window, that means nasty people can also stick their hands IN your vehicle; and that means nasty individuals may do harm to or even steal your dog in your absence, while you just “run into the store for a minute.”  Likewise, leaving dogs in the back of pick-up trucks is dangerous for the same reasons as leaving windows down, with the added danger that in your absence, your dog may become territorial and aggressive toward anyone coming near the truck. If someone innocently walks too close to your vehicle and your dog becomes aggressive enough to bite, your dog may be picked up by police/the dog warden and taken to the local pound as a “dangerous dog” and may be legally mandated to be euthanized. You would be responsible for any injuries your dog caused to someone. 
  • ·        When traveling with your dog in warmer weather, I strongly urge that you always carry bottled water and a small bowl or cup for your dog.  You may be planning a quick trip to the store and back, but even on a 75 degree day, if you break down or are away longer than you anticipated, your dog could get quite warm in the car.  If you always carry a couple bottles of water in the car and replenish them as needed, your dog should never lack the ability to have a drink when he gets too hot or you’re gone too long.  I’ve had break-downs on the road and been quite grateful to have some bottled water in the car for myself and my dogs while I waited in the heat for roadside assistance-which can often be for several hours.
  • ·        Once it’s 75 degrees or more outside, decide whether your dog really needs to go to the store with you or not.  75 degrees in the sun can mean over 95 degrees inside a car in under 20 minutes. Your dog doesn’t need to go for a car ride to the store to sit in a hot car.  If you’re taking him to a dog park, pet store, or somewhere truly fun for the dog, that’s different, but just taking the dog to go to the store in a hot vehicle is not fun or safe for your dog. You may enjoy taking the dog and think it's nice that you do it, but your dog doesn't want a car ride to the store to sit alone in the car and be hot while you shop.
  • ·        During a holiday such as July 4th (in the U.S.) or other holidays, avoid taking your dog to parades and public events, especially if fireworks and loud noises will be prevalent.  Many people take their dogs to a picnic or parade and lose their dog because he suddenly got scared or was otherwise motivated to run away.  Holiday events are for humans and not dogs.  If you leave your dog home during a holiday when they will be able to hear/see fireworks around them, please be sure they’re secured IN your home or garage with no open doors or windows through which they can escape. More dogs are lost during such holidays than any other time of year because people take their dogs to events and lose them; or they left the dog outside at home and the dog got scared and escaped their yard or home via an open window.
  • ·        Check your dog collars and leashes regularly-at least weekly. If you’re required to have dog tags on your dog at all times (in most cities of the U.S.), you need to be sure the proper tags are intact and the information is still readable. You need to also be sure the collar itself is in good condition; and not too tight or loose for your dog.  Leashes need to be durable when your dog is excited so checking leash condition is a good idea.  Many people use the extendable dog leashes (which I do not advocate using-ever), so be sure that the leash retracting mechanism works appropriately; and the leash is kept clean so it doesn’t gum up the retractor and keep it from working properly.
  • ·        The biggest danger of all: people who think and say, “My dog would NEVER do ____” and, “My dog ALWAYS behaves.”  Any dog can be motivated to do things you never dreamed of when you're not around. It’s all about timing and opportunity coming together to create a situation you never thought your perfect pooch would engage in.  Your best option is to always plan for the very worst and hope for the very best-the key being, “plan.”

I don’t pretend to be an expert or have all the answers for things, but some things really are just common sense. Dogs rely on us to keep them safe.  If you really love your dog, be proactive by planning ahead and thinking about things that COULD happen so you can try to avoid them. It's no different than thinking about what goes in the diaper bag for a baby; being sure to secure a child in a car seat or appropriate seat belt; and being aware that what the dog may like isn't any better than some things children may also like.  You wouldn't let your child travel with his/her head hanging out the window; and you wouldn't leave your child in the car alone-especially in the heat. If you wouldn't do it with a child, then odds are good you shouldn't do it with a dog. 

I surely hope you will be mindful of your special dog friends as you travel and share life with them.  



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cinder goes Barn Hunting

Last night, we took Cinder to a practice for the dog sport known as, "barn hunt."
Barn Hunt is gaining popularity in our area and with good reason. It offers an opportunity for any dog of any breed, including "Heinz 57," to participate in a less strenuous but still physically active, mentally stimulating competition. There are rules, levels of skill, and everything needed to be a competition, but it remains relatively straightforward and simple. It's a social time for humans and it's not very expensive because there isn't any special gear/equipment needed. The whole thing hinges on a dog's ability to scent out a rat in a tube.  Yep-rat sniffing.  If a dog can sniff out a rat from among a series of intentionally constructed straw bale mazes and tunnels, then you may have a winning competitor!

The overall general construct of Barn Hunt is as follows:  In a straw bale maze including varied layers of bales and several closed tunnels through the bales, dogs are to seek and find a rat in an aerated tube. To add to the challenge, there are also empty tubes with rat bedding in them also hidden within the maze. Remember, the goal is to find the tube(s) with rats in them, not the empty bedding tubes.  The dog is timed on how fast it finds the designated number of rats in the maze.  However, apparently points are accumulated for performing certain things like going through the tunnel(s) and jumping on the different bale layers. They apparently subtract points if the dog "hits" on the empty bedding tubes.  I confess to having started to read the rules, but got interrupted so many times I didn't get far and couldn't get back to them before we went to the practice.

Before people wonder and/or complain about rat abuse... The rats are actually all pets and are treated very well and great care is taken to be sure they aren't hurt or mishandled.  The rat tubes are a sturdy PVC with many small holes for them to breathe, see, and the dogs to be able to scent them.  The tubes have screw-on caps that the dogs can't possibly open; they're about 18" long; and there is nice bedding inside for them to rest or hide in.  The rats are socialized and sweet. They are hidden in the straw in ways that the tubes don't move and the dogs aren't allowed to even try moving the tubes except as they move the straw away to reveal the tubes.

Last night was our first time to see barn hunting in person at a practice.  A friend (and one of our obedience class trainers), thought it would be fun to see if Cinder would do Barn Hunt because it's fun and relatively easy.  Her dog loves it! We met her there and she introduced us to several people and generally explained how it all works.

Cinder was surprisingly calm and quiet despite other strange dogs within close view the whole time. She got an "intro" lesson in barn hunting but surprisingly, was far more interested in getting attention from the instructor/judge than finding a rat in a tube.  I thought surely she'd want to get at the critter in a tube but apparently not so much. We even opened a tube so she could meet the rat, which I feared may have cost the rat's life. She barely even sniffed at the rat - she seemed to feel it somewhat uninteresting.  I was shocked at how little interest she had given that she's a regular huntress at home and on the farm. I suppose if the rats were in "Habitrail" tubes where they were clearly visible and ran around, THAT might've made her more interested - rat herding so to speak. I guess that's why terrier types do well at that but not so sure it's Cinder's game. In fact, I told the people there that I feel like she shouldn't give up her day job to be a barn hunter.  I guess that means we continue the journey of finding out what Cinder's "day job" really should be.

The big deal is that Cinder went somewhere new, with strange dogs and some activity and had virtually NO reactive moments in the nearly two hours we were there. In fact, she and my friend's dog, also reactive, decided  they could be friendly enough to be within three feet of each other as we walked out and to our cars together.  For both of them, that's HUGE.

We may try barn hunt again a few times just to see if when she learns what we want, Cinder would be more interested, but my thought right now is that she thinks it's more fun to jump over the straw bales and glean all the attention she can from the other human(s) in the area.  I guess that's not all bad, but not what you want your Barn Hunt dog to do.

That's the latest adventure with Cinder for now.  As always, it was fun and different, showcasing her improving ability to be in a more "public" setting and surprising me once again.  Just another day of life as we continue raising Cinder.

Be good to yourself, your dog(s) and others!


Chris (aka Cinder's Hu-mom)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

16 Months And Loving Her!


Catching her "flyer" - April 2015
The journey of raising Cinder began in February 2014, when we took advantage of a break between some of the biggest snows and worst cold in 40 years to go pick Cinder up before things worsened again.  As we drove to my friend’s to pick her up, Brian and I were relatively quiet, both wondering what our little puppy was going to be like; and how different our lives were going to become.  Now, Cinder’s 16 months old and our lives are drastically different than we’d anticipated.

Shortly after bringing our little bundle of puppy love home, I was waylaid by another journey into an ugly abyss of pain and immobility caused by back and hip problems which finally resulted in a major back surgery and a steroid injection for my hip to stave off a hip replacement as long as possible so my back can heal.  But, the real story isn’t mine – it’s Cinder’s.

8 weeks - "sit"
8 weeks - sitting to go outside
 Cinder came to us at seven weeks old, in the middle of the worst winter of 40 years. Combined with my caring for a lame horse and followed by my increasing back pain and immobility, Cinder still managed to thrive. She's never known a time after her first two weeks with us that I haven't been disabled by my back issues. She was a very typical Border Collie puppy-ALWAYS on the go and ALWAYS busy. Luckily, our older dogs were good play pals and teachers during those long, cold, boring
Queen of the Hill on Uncle Gilley
months when we could do nothing outside.  I was able to do some early training with Cinder, so we worked on what we could, hoping and waiting for Spring so we could really ramp up her training.  When Spring arrived and we could get out again, it became my great frustration and sadness to find out that Cinder is a reactive dog.  Cinder is our last puppy and I’d wanted to be able to take her anywhere and everywhere with me as I’ve always been able to do with all my other dogs. Her reactivity creates challenges in taking her anywhere and doing anything. We truly have to calculate our activities almost like math problems, being sure we’ve considered how Cinder’s participation could be successful and the things that might derail us. Reactivity in Border Collies and other herding breeds is common, but I’d never had a dog that was reactive so it was, and still is, a whole new journey for both of us.                                                                                       

She's met and risen above the challenges of my limitations and her reactivity to succeed in an obedience class and a tricks class.  She was even made up for Halloween as, "the Red Queen," and again at Christmas as the "Peppermint Princess," wearing silly things without a fuss.

The Red Queen at Halloween - 2014

The Peppermint Princess - Christmas 2014

Cinder - Christmas 2014

Throughout the whole of Cinder’s life, she’s never known a time when I wasn't in pain and suffering limited mobility. Despite all things, she’s thrived!  We've become as close as possible actually - so close, it may be problematic at some point. She seemed to know I needed help and easily learned to assist me with small things like picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors and drawers; and lying beside me
Cinder & Gilley snuggled next to me in bed
quietly snuggling as I rest.  After I returned home from back surgery, she had to learn to give me hugs by gently standing on her back legs and putting her front paws on shoulders while I was sitting; and hop gently onto my lap unassisted because I couldn’t bend, lift, or twist.  She often snuggled with me in the recliner, sprawled atop me, covering me from neck to knees with her body, quietly sleeping and keeping watch over me – which she continues to do! And believe me, nothing gets by her unnoticed! She’s learned to hop on me in the recliner with an amazing ease, agility, and lightness of a cat.

Cinder & me in the recliner after back surgery
As my recovery has progressed, I still can’t bend, lift, or twist so walking is my sole exercise until my doctor deems my back healed enough to begin physical therapy for it. I've had physical therapy to help with learning to use my leg again, but now, it’s all about walking until I start PT for my back.  Sadly, I’m not allowed to be around my horse at all; and I’m not allowed to be the one to control the leash while walking the dogs – the risks of them pulling, jerking, and otherwise causing me to move quickly and inappropriately could easily damage all the work to restore my mobility.  I’m finally back to work at my desk job part-time until the doctors release me for more over the next couple months.  As it turns out, I’m finding that part-time really does tax me enough right now when combined with trying to walk as much as possible each day and the small house chores I can do. I FEEL like I could walk 10 miles, but reality sucks – I’m lucky to walk a couple of city blocks so far (or a couple laps around the ponds where we take the dogs swimming). I've been able to enjoy our Spring weather and go with Brian to take the dogs to the barn and/or the private dog park to play.  I've been able to walk around the pond and create games for the dogs to keep them running between Brian and I for added exercise and fun for them.  Cinder spends a lot of that time running laps around the pond to keep tabs on everyone and to show her aging uncles that SHE is faster than them.  I actually LOVE seeing her running full out around the pond-it’s pure power and speed combined with such a beauty that truly is specific to only a few breeds, Border Collies especially. It’s a sight to see!

Each evening, Brian goes to work and we’re home alone which means we have a lot of quiet time since I can’t do too much yet. I spend the first few hours icing my back (doctor’s orders) from being up and active. Amazingly, all three dogs are awesome about settling down.
They gather around me while I’m at the computer and lay quietly; we rally in the living room while I recline to ice my back while watching TV; or we snuggle in bed together.  Sometimes the three are so awesome and so quiet I forget they’re actually Border Collies – you know, HIGH ENERGY dogs with extremely demanding needs for exercise.  They seem amazingly resilient and totally content.  Most Border Collie people would probably find it absolutely amazing that they are so content to be my quiet companions. I find it hard to believe most about Cinder since she’s so young.  Yet, Border Collies are said to be the most intelligent breed and if one is inclined to believe that, then one may also be inclined to believe that they know I still have limits and they are trying to patiently adapt while secretly hoping the next trip to the barn or park will be soon.

Today was the first time I've taken a road trip in two years. It wasn’t far, but it maxed out my doctor-recommended time and distance in a car at one time.  We went to the barn and got “the Ebbie horse” in before going back to the house.  While Brian mowed the yard, I holed up with Cinder in the office and put her though her paces doing all the tricks she’s learned in the last year.  She didn’t miss a beat after more than three months off from all work.  In fact, we also started working on a couple new tricks too.  While we’re a long way from where I’d wanted us to be, we can still have fun and build more skills.

Raising Cinder hasn’t been the journey I’d hoped for with my last puppy, but, it’s been better than I’d anticipated given the circumstances.  Hopefully life will continue to improve for us and as it does, we’ll be doing more.  Even if Cinder never goes on to learn more obedience, agility or anything else, she’s already become one of the most wonderful, loyal and loving dogs ever. There is a certain amount of pride and contentment with knowing that Cinder’s become a great companion if she never does anything else.  It’s not what I’d hoped for her, but things could’ve gone far worse than they have and we could’ve had a dog we don’t like.  Instead, she’s become a true family member in every way; completely endeared herself with us both.  She’s been awesome and she’s not done yet!  Besides, she keeps Buzz and Gilley moving more too.  Despite the fact that she often dominates them, they enjoy playing with her daily. She's smart, a bit quirky and odd; somewhat pushy and willful at times; and she's always one of the most affectionate dogs I've ever had.  She's 16 months old and I'm loving her more every day.

"Love you dad" - April 2015
Brian & Cinder - April 2015

Cinder & Me - April 2015

Cinder’s made a difference in all our lives and we can’t imagine life without her.  The journey continues daily and there’s never a dull moment as we continue our endeavor of raising Cinder.

"I've got it! I've got it! I've got it!" - 4/ 2015
 Be well and be good to yourself, others, and your dog(s)!