Friday, January 31, 2014

Only One Day Left & Cinder Comes Home!

    Cinder was little more than three weeks old when I saw her picture posted on FaceBook by my friend and Border Collie breeder, Janelle.  Janelle knew, perhaps well before me, that Cinder's picture grabbed me in a way none of her other puppy's pictures had in the last three years. Janelle and I had a couple lengthy discussions about it and decided Cinder would become my new puppy- excuse me, OUR new puppy. My husband, Brian, was supposed to be my normal voice of reason always offering reasons NOT to get another dog or pup, but instead, Cinder's picture melted his heart and HE is as excited as me to add her to our family!
     For the last few weeks we've been preparing for Cinder, our new puppy.  You may laugh and think we're odd, but we've been through raising a Border Collie puppy before!  There is no such thing as totally prepared for the antics to be encountered with BC puppies because they're equal having about four Labrador puppies on a caffiene or sugar buzz! Basically, we've been doing "puppy prepare-alympics!" We've puppy proofed the house from munch-monster puppy teeth; secured a safe area for her when she needs quiet time (or we need a rest break); procured some basic toys and food; and psyched ourselves up for life with a puppy in fully charged Energizer battery mode. 
   Tomorrow morning we'll go visit Janelle and all her dogs and puppies. When we return, we will have Cinder!  The fun is about to begin! If you haven't become a follower of this blog yet, now may be a great time to do so because raising Cinder is sure to yield a lot of pictures and stories of life with a Border Collie puppy, two adult Border Collies and trying to survive living a small midwestern city.  Stay tuned for adventures ahead as we embark on...Raising Cinder, a Border Collie Puppy.


Dog Vital Signs-What Should They Be?


Discussions with friends are great fun and I often learn a lot from my friends because they're all so intelligent and have such diverse experience.  One discussion last night surrounded knowing what a dog's vital signs should be in case of an emergency.  I thought it an interesting topic since there are different answers depending on a lot of variables. As Brian would say, being my geeky self, I went online to refresh my memory.  Every pet owner should have the basic knowledge of what their animals' normal vitals signs should be.  Here's are the ranges I found for dogs based on three different veterinary schools in the U.S. (of course one is PURDUE, my alma mater):

Dog Vital Signs:

  • Heart rate: 70-160 BPM (beats per minute) with larger dogs being generally lower than small dogs
  • Temperature:  100.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Blood pressure:  110-120 / 70-80
  • Respirations: 10-30 BPM (resting rate)
  • PUPPY heart rates: 70-180BPM
  • PUPPY temperature: 96-100 degrees Fahrenheit
There is a lot of variance due to the differing variables that apply to size, breed, age, weight, health and nutrition. Like humans, each individual has their own "norm" so it's important to be observant and attentive to any changes in a dog's behavior or demeanor. The information above is just a general guide to use so we know when it truly is time for a veterinary intervention.


Easy "Hypoallergenic' Homemade Dog Biscuit Bites

     We're on the last day of our countdown to Cinder's arrival-she comes home tomorrow! 

     Yesterday a friend asked me to post my easy to make, homemade "biscuit bites" recipe and process used to make them for my dogs. I call them biscuit bites because I don't make a large dog biscuit or cookie, I make small, single bite sized treats. They're bite sized for several reasons: smaller size is easier for use during training and smaller sizes mean fewer calories-Cinder is a girl & we need to watch her girly figure. Gilley and Buzz need to stay svelte to be healthy and active too.
     Gilley, my tri colored Border Collie, has food allergies which cause him discomfort. His skin becomes dry and itchy; his coat thin and dull; he develops patchy red areas; and he develops a bad odor.  We removed most grains from his diet and his symptoms almost instantly cleared up.  Additionally, we noticed that Buzz also seemed improved in his overall appearance, energy and his belching ceased so we suspect he also has problems with grains in food, though his weren't obvious until we changed to no grain food. Rice is the only grain they seem to be okay eating.
    Now that we have dogs with food allergies, it's more important to control what they get for treats so homemade it is.  Here's the way we make our dog biscuit bites:


  • 2 Cups oat or rice flour (we use brown rice flour) *If your dog isn't allergic to grains, use regular flour.
  • 1 Cups oatmeal or rolled oats
  • 1 & 1/4 Cups hot water  *If you opt NOT to use Peanut Butter, you can use meat stock/broth instead of water or substitute equal portions of water and meat stock.
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter  * This can be omitted or exchanged for finely shredded cheese or cheese sauce (if the cheese sauce contains no grain or flour). 
  • Set oven temperature to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit)
  • Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • If using peanut butter, melt in a microwave to a thick syrup consistency
  • Mix melted peanut butter and hot water; then add to the dry ingredients
  • Blend all the ingredients until they form a thick dough
  • Roll dough (as for cookies) to about 1/8" thickness. *We use oatmeal on the counter to
    Rolled dough being cut into squares
    roll out the dough instead of rice flour and it seems to work fine.
  • Using a knife, cut the dough into 1/2" to 3/4" squares. * If you have dogs larger than Border Collies, you may want a larger bite size so adjust to an easy bite size for your bigger dog. *You could cut dough using regular cookie cutters or a pizza cutter.
  • Place cut biscuits on baking pans and place in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. *These will not rise or spread like other cookies so you can place them close together on the baking pan.
  • Remove from oven and allow them to air cool and dry about 8 - 12 hours. Do not hurry this part-it's important they are completely cool and dry before packaging.
  • Package biscuit bites in baggies or containers.  * Biscuits should be stored in a cool environment or refrigerator and should safely last two weeks.  Freezing biscuits for later works very well, but do NOT give frozen biscuits to your dogs because they could cause your dog to break teeth-serve them completely thawed.
I tend to make the biscuit bites in double batches because they go pretty quickly.  My boys literally turn circles and do the doggie dance of joy for the peanut butter version!  I certainly hope Cinder likes them too!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Puppy & Dog Care Records


As we're ticking down the timer on our wait for Cinder's arrival this weekend, today brought me to new thoughts: dog records.  As I was purging outdated files of unrelated information from my file cabinet, I got to my dog files and realized a lot of people don't keep good records of their dog's healthcare or county dog licenses. These days there are so many legal issues surrounding keeping dogs that keeping good records could mean true life and death for our dogs!
     Beyond my dog's annual shot records, I keep a running history of all the reasons my dogs go to a veterinarian; information about any training classes and certifications; and copies of their county dog license information. Luckily, my vet clinic provides an itemized list of their services, any medications given or prescribed; and other information for each dog at each office visit. Since they provide such good information I have everything  I need to place in my dog file for each dog without having to generate my own version of the same information.  As we visit the vet, each itemized receipt goes into the file on top of the previous one, keeping the most recent information on top. If I participate in any training or certification classes, I keep that information too.
     I reviewed Gilley and Buster's files this morning and realized that I can provide not just information about their shots and when they were administered, but I can tell you about each time one of them was sick enough I took them to the clinic, what they had, which vet saw them, and what was done. I can tell you a lot of things that frankly, I had even forgotten.  I also have pictures of Gilley as a puppy and as an adult; and Buzz as an adult (we didn't have him as a pup).  I have copies of all of our training information and the classes we attended, who taught them, when and where they were.  You're probably wondering why I keep all that stuff for a couple of "pets."  Because when it comes to legal or medical issues, I want to be able to get my files out and provide specific information as needed without hoping I can get it from my vet at or by the time I need it. If I change vets or need to go to an emergency clinic, I can grab my files and know I have most of what they may need about my dog.  If they bite someone (not that they would), I may have only 12 hours to produce their shot records. If one of them gets sick, it may be important to review what they've had in the past, when, and how it was treated.
     Today I made Cinder a file and the first thing in it is my, "Puppy Preparation Checklist" because I wrote some information on it that I want to save. Next will be information about her puppy shots and the food Janelle's been giving her, along with a puppy picture. If I ever need to post a picture to help find my lost dogs, I always want a fairly recent one in their files.  Cinder's pictures will need to be updated about every month for a while; then every year like the others.
Tick tock goes that countdown clock to Cinder's arrival! With each day, I find a little something more I'm glad to have done for her before she arrives.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Easy, Cheap & Safe Liver Treats for Puppies and Adult Dogs

     The dog food and dog treat business is a booming one with hundreds of varieties of food and treats for every taste, budget and need. It's easy to be confused and overwhelmed on what to get when there are so many choices. If you follow online alerts regarding the pet food and treat industry, you can also be overwhelmed and terrified by the various recalls.  When you add the recommendations of veterinarians, trainers, and well-meaning friends, it can be even more confusing. Raising dogs most of my life, I've learned a few things and one of them is that I can make my own dog treats and that's what I do most of the time.
     We need to pinch pennies, but not by giving Cinder or the adult boys cheap store bought treats full of stuff we can't even pronounce. During training you want high value treats that will motivate them to do things, but the treats should be small enough they don't have to spend time chewing and they don't choke on it if they're excited. Rewards should be quickly and easily given and consumed to facilitate staying on task. I've found that beef liver is that perfect high value training treat.
   Beef liver is relatively inexpensive and easily found in grocery stores. I buy several pounds  at a time because it cooks down to about 1/2 its original size.  I spray a large baking pan with a cooking spray; lay the liver flat on the pan; and place it in a 250 degree oven for about 4 hours (turning it over after 2 hours). The goal is to thoroughly cook and dry the liver to a jerky-like consistency.  
Once cooked, I cut it into very tiny pieces and place it in a sealable container like a jar or plastic cannister. I don't put the lid on for several more hours, until the liver is thoroughly cooled and aired. Once cooled, I seal the container and store it in my fridge. They can be frozen too, but once thawed, need to be used fairly fast so I freeze them in small batches. 

Raw liver ready to bake
Baked liver

Liver cut into tiny pieces

Liver treat cannister 
There is another bonus treat to be had from baking the liver! I've found that the liver typically leaves a layer of dried meat juice baked on the pan. Rather than waste that, I boil a small pan of water and fill the baking pan with boiling water. Then I take a spatula and scrape the pan to remove the baked on meat drippings. Instead of dumping that out, I dump that livery soup water into a container and save it to use as a sort of gravy to pour on the dogs' dry dog food once every couple of days. Liver is a very rich organ meat and it can cause upset tummies or loose bowels if they have too much or too often, but it's a yummy and healthy treat to moisten their dry food. 

Baked on liver drippings w/ hot water
Baking pan after dumping hot liver soup into jar-not clean, but easy to clean!
      For roughly six dollars of liver, I get enough treats to last 1-2 weeks for three dogs AND I get the liver soup that cleans up the baking pan and doubles as a dry food gravy that lasts about 3 weeks in the fridge. The benefits are:
  • I save money by buying fewer or no store bought treats.
  • I know the ingredients used and don't have to worry about whether or not they're safe.
  • I can vary the sizes to suit my dogs' needs.
  • We get both the liver and the liver stock from each batch, making it an even better value.
  • Liver is rich in protein and other vitamins that benefit the dogs coats and overall health.
      I'll gladly spend 30 minutes of my time and a little effort (very little) to save a lot of money, peace of mind; and ensure my dog treats are safe for my dogs. I can't get better treats cheaper anywhere! 
     Raising Cinder may come with some challenges, but deciding on her training treats isn't one of them!
Remember to keep your eye on the countdown because we're picking up Cinder this weekend and the time is ticking away quickly as we anxously wait for our fuzzy little puppy girl to come home!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Preparing for Cinder

     Friday Brian asked me if we had everything we need and everything done  toward preparing for Cinder's arrival. When I got out my "Puppy Preparation Checklist," I thought I may never hear the end of the teasing about my organization.  I'm known among family and friends as being somewhat obsessed with organization, so pulling out another checklist made Brian shake his head and let the jokes fly. However, once he went through the list he realized there were some things on it we hadn't done yet. Ha ha - who's laughing now? He admitted that maybe the checklist was a good idea.
          Last week, we went through the house looking for all the potential hazards we could spot.  Since we already have the house "dog proofed" for the older boys, there were only a few concerns.  We became aware of a couple "webs of wonder." I mean those collections of electrical or cable cords that just can't be hidden by furniture and for various reasons, routing them differently isn't possible. We used PVC pipe to encompass those ugly cord webs in a way to make them less likely to attract a curious puppy.

     This weekend we tackled creating a custom sized homemade sliding gate system for our laundry hall that will now be known as, "Cinders Condo."  She needs a secure zone for those times we can't immediately supervise her-like when I have to go get more puppy & dog food! Our home has a laundry hallway instead of a laundry room, typical of many 1950-1970's ranch homes. The laundry hall has an open doorway off the kitchen and a doorway off the master bedroom at the opposite end. There is a space beside the washer and dryer that we use as linen storage above a laundry folding counter, with nothing below. It's a perfect location for a large dog crate with ample space for movement on that hall. The hallway is an odd width making it difficult and expensive to buy a gate; the wooden expandable gates aren't safe for small or teething puppies; and tension gates are a pain to use as anything more than temporary.  Customizing the gate proved cheap and easy since we came up with a solution for which we had most of the materials.  We created a sliding plywood gate mounted on two heavy duty drawer slides attached to the wall on one side and inserted into a piece of aluminum "U" channel mounted to the opposite wall.  We cut holes in it to allow some visibility and better airflow.  The fridge sits in front of the wall to which we attached the drawer slides so it hides the slides from open view. We couldn't paint it because of the extreme cold in our garage so the paint will wait until spring or summer (I need to repaint the kitchen anyway). Cost of the project was a mere $9.00 for a half sheet of plywood. We have another gate at the bedroom end of the hallway so we can leave the bedroom door open to hear Cinder at night and generally keep her from being totally isolated when she has to be contained.

The custom sliding gate when closed.
Buzz questions the need for a new gate there.
    Other puppy prep included getting a few things at PetSmart. We didn't take the Border boys because weather conditions were miserable and we don't want to endanger them with a road trip in bad conditions. PetSmart was fun-so many things to spend money on, so little money to
spend! Brian was like most guys eyeing the toys and gadgets,  wondering how cool it is for the human to play with the puppy toys. Before we knew it, we'd spent over two hours at PetSmart-without the dogs! We are obviously easily entertained. We did manage to get a few things for Cinder without going over the available budget-mission accomplished.
    Tonight I can confidently say we are ready for our new puppy and the adventures of raising Cinder! All that remains now is to hurry up and wait to pick her up. It's going to be a long week of waiting as the weather strikes a cold, hard blow with windchill advisories already in place due to extremes that are likely to hinder or halt everything for a couple days this week.

Have a good week! Stay safe and warm! 


Friday, January 24, 2014

Already a Little Stinker!

    It's Friday evening and the start of our last weekend of quiet before Cinder's arrival.  Our weekend will be no different than most, except that we'll be doing more preparing for Cinder. This weekend we're using our "Puppy Preparation Checklist" to be sure we've got everything we need and that our house is ready for an inquisitive puppy.  We'll be installing homemade custom puppy gates in her "living space" so she has a secure area of her own when we can't immediately supervise her, but she doesn't need to be in her crate.
      My friend, Janelle (Cinder's breeder), was playing with the puppies in the kennel yesterday and snapped a few pictures for me.  She said the puppies are all very playful, but ONE of them stole her glove for a playtoy!  Guess which little stinker that was!

     I have a feeling we are in for a lot of fun when Cinder arrives!  Things could be very entertaining once she and the big boys figure each other out.  
       Keep an eye on that countdown clock in the sidebar-I sure am!

Have a good weekend-stay warm and safe everyone!

Chris (Cinder's adoptive human)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Chronicle Begins!


This is the beginning of what I hope will be a fun blog about raising Cinder, a Border Collie puppy. Cinder hasn't arrived yet, so we truly are at the beginning-preparing for her arrival.  As of today, Cinder's arrival is only eight days away.  I wanted  to launch this blog and tweak a few things before Cinder arrives because once she's here, my time at the computer will be much more limited. Cinder will be only seven weeks old when we pick her up, so she will be a very young puppy needing lots of attention.  This is Cinder as of last week:

     Cinder is a blue merle Border Collie.  She comes of some fine performance-bred sheep herding lines known for their keen sense, high intelligence, athleticism and good personalities. However, Cinder is not going to be a herder.  We don't know exactly what Cinder's expertise will be, but it won't be sheep herding since we live in a small midwestern city!  Cinder's first job will be to grow and get to know our two adult Border Collies, Gilley and Buzz. You can read about them on their information and personal story pages.  
     As Cinder grows and learns the basics of life in our home, we'll teach her many things-hopefully some of them will even be good!  Life with Border Collies is not the same as life with other dogs because of their extreme intelligence and herding traits which can often cause havoc.  Herding instincts are strong and for a Border Collie, herding things is job #1, so it is their nature to chase just about anything and everything that moves-even a little.  They need a LOT of daily exercise and don't do well without it. Cinder will be challenged to overcome some issues in our home because we are middle-aged and overweight, living in a ranch home in the city-things that are NOT ideal for Border Collies.  What DO we offer?
  • A quiet, stable home
  • Two adult Border Collies (who already trained us)
  • Several friends nearby with large farms where we can take our dogs regularly for fun and exercise
  • Helpful friends who also have and train Border Collies and do things like Agility
  • We live close to a private, members-only dog park
  • And we love our dogs as family members, in our home with us

Raising Cinder with Gilley and Buzz is bound to yield some fun stories and pictures along the way.  I hope you'll "stay tuned" for our adventures and invite your friends to check in too!