Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Photo shoot....

We wanted to pose for a Christmas Photo...By 'We' I mean me, Finn is always a reluctant model.

We started out with our jingle bell collar.

And added reindeer antlers..

We had a few technical difficulties - a wardrobe malfunction, and a brief mutiny by the model. But with some patience, and a liver treat, we finally got the photos.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The impact animals have on our lives.

The following is a mini documentary about a former criminal, Jason Wood, and the impact his Pitt Bull Odin had on his life. It follows the last days of their relationship as Odin battles cancer. Jason also talks about the hardest decision he had to make, to let his dog go.

Be warned, there is language and you will cry.

It made me think about the impact animals have on our lives. Here is a former criminal (they don't say what crime) who credits turning his life around to the 'unconditional love' of his dog. What was important to him was not only that the dog loved him, but also accepted and loved all his friends, no matter who they are or what they did.

He also saw animals as gifts from God, put on earth to teach us and be with us, and that is a sentiment I wholly concur with.

His decision to let his dog go, while the pain was still under control, and not making his dog try to climb all the stairs to his new apartment is also something I concur with. I noticed the dog was not moving much or walking well, so the cancer was pretty advanced.

Heartbreaking, but good to watch. I would like to think I will make the right decision when the time comes for my horse and my dog. It helps that I do believe that spirit is eternal, we will go on to another plane of existence, and that our animals will be there with us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wolfhound Tail -1 Tree - 0

The first one bites the dust, victim of 'Happy Tail.'

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's cold outside!

But Finn is staying warm next to the fire....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Finn has a sleepover!

One of Finn's friends is a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog named Belle. Belle needed a place to spend the night while her owner went to an event, so Finn got to have a friend spend the night!

Finn was quite excited when Belle arrived, and they played in the back yard for a while. Then Finn was tired and wanted to come in, but Belle wasn't tired!

Belle doesn't have a backyard at her house, so she didn't want to stop playing in it! She ran around the yard, then rolled in the grass. I called her to come in, but she didn't want to. I stayed outside with her for a bit, but I had cooking to do, so I called Finn outside to keep Belle company.

As I worked, I saw Finn coming up to the back door, then walking to the side of the house. He kept doing it, looking at me, then going to the side. I then realized I couldn't see Belle and went outside. Once there, I saw what Finn was concerned about. Belle was in the pond! She had jumped in and was tangled up in all the lily pads and plants. I called Belle, and between me pulling, and her scrambling to get out, she got out of the pond.

I then had a very wet, rather yucky dog to deal with. That pond is au naturale, we let the fish, frogs, etc take over. I started to hose Belle off, but she was feeling good and took off running. I figured I would be pulling her out of the pond every time she went out if I didn't do something about it so I set up the wading pool and filled it with water. This both kept Belle entertained with clean water and also hopefully rinsed off all the icky pond water.

I left Belle outside until dark, and was then finally able to convince her to come in. She wasn't much interested in her dinner, until Finn came over to sniff it, then she ate everything. I gave them each an after dinner Greenie and Finn went to his bed to eat his.

Belle walked up with her Greenie, and proceeded to lay down on Finn's bed. Finn got up just before she plopped down on him. Belle took over his bed for the rest of the night. Finn never protested though.

I left them both with dry kibble to munch on. Belle checked Finn's out first. Finn watched her and just wagged his tail. He didn't mind sharing. Of course he then went and finished her kibble, something he later regretted as it was a different kind than his and upset his tummy.

Belle slept on Finn's bed in the living room, and Finn slept in our bedroom. The next morning after breakfast Pogo, another of Finn's friends came over for a play-date. The three of them had a good time playing until it was time for Belle to go home.

Finn was quite good with his company, very gentlemanly, but I do think he was ready for her to go home. He slept the rest of the day. But that is always the way it is after a sleep-over!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Irish Festival

We went to the Baltimore Irish Festival on Saturday. There were several Irish Wolfhounds there from the Potomac Vally Irish Wolfhound Club. As usual, the wolfhounds gather a crowd.

Especially children.

This little one didn't actually ride Finn, but she was quite fascinated with him.

Finn was very gentle, and gave her a kiss.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Long, tiring day...

Saturday was a work day.

I needed to clean, which means Finn has to stay outside. It really doesn't help the cleaning process, if the 140 pound fur covered dirt magnet who is the cause of most of the dirt is following you around getting in the way.

Finn was exiled outside, to help the hubby with some outside work. (By help, I mean lie down and watch) I swept, vacuumed, cleaned all the small rugs, took the cover off Finn's bed and washed it, vacuumed all the cookie crumbs off the family room rug and washed it as well. I left the rug and bed cover hanging to dry.

Next it was out to the barn, and 3 hours of barn work. repairs, cleaning out the hay room, some digging, stall cleaning, then feed and water the horses. Finn got to run in the pasture with us, and we also worked on some back and forth with Finn. We have treats in our hands, and one would call Finn to come, treat him when he sat, then send him back to the other one. We got further apart, and Finn did well except he tended to want to stay with the person who had the whole treat pouch in their pocket.

Then it was back home for showers. This includes Finn. It was pretty muddy at the barn, and he was overdue for a bath. Just so you know, it takes a huge walk in shower, a lot of soap, and about 35 minuted to bathe Finn. Then you have a few seconds to towel off as much water as possible before he goes galloping through the house shaking water everywhere.

Then dinner...which for us was Chinese delivery. Finn had leftover turkey, cheese and kibble. After clean up, we settled down with the gas fire going to watch a movie. Finn couldn't settle. He kept nudging me. No, he didn't want out. He had food in his dish, so not still hungry. It took me a while, but finally I figured out he wanted his rug back. It was still a bit damp, but then so was he. I spread it out in the family room and with a sigh he curled up on it, right in front of the fire.

So we watched the movie, with the gas fire going, popcorn to munch, and a warm furry (slightly damp) wolfhound on our feet.

It was a good day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What does Halloween mean?

To me it has always meant dressing up (the very best part) and as a kid trick or treat gatherings. Now as an adult with kids all grown it's still dressing up, and also parties at work and costume contests. I still carve pumpkins, still decorate the house and have plenty of candy on hand.

For Finn, Halloween means lots of kids come to the door to see HIM! He gets to sniff them, lick them, and if he could just sneak away quick enough, go trick or treating with them. (He tried!) It's the one time of the year I really get to see how much Finn really loves children.

The first kid that came petted Finn, took his candy and left, and Finn thought that was neat. The second knock on the door was a couple of girls, 9-10ish, who asked if they could pet Finn. I let him out so they could, and there was a lot of licking and giggling. As they walked off I heard one exclaim 'He kissed me on my ear!'

The next group was about 7 kids with parents waiting on the street with flashlights. I asked if they wanted to pet Finn and I got a very loud YES! I let Finn out the door and they all got to pet him and get licked, then Finn saw the people on the street and took off to go say hello. It took a bit of convincing for him come back to the house, he really wanted to walk with them. We had a few more groups, then that was it. Finn waited, looking out the glass door for at least another hour, hoping for more visitors. He absolutely loved seeing all those kids!

Finn wants to know if we can have Halloween every weekend?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

There was a wild bull in our house, and a cowboy was trying to ride it.

The bull tried lying down...

Jumping up..

Sudden stops...

But the cowboy stayed on!

I don't know how long the cowboy will last, that bull has eyes of fire!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birth order - does it matter?

There are many studies on the importance of birth order in humans. How it can determine personality as well as success. I've never seen a study of birth order in dogs, but from my unscientific observation, the studies work just as well for dogs. A friend has two Irish Wolfhound puppies, both male, full brothers but from different litters, about 8 months apart in age.

They follow the classic formula. The first born is serious, worried about getting things right, and feels driven to be perfect. The younger brother is carefree, not worried about anything.

Look at the photos below. Can you tell which is which?

The older brother is on the left. The whole time I was taking photos, he was focused on me, worried about what he was supposed to be doing, what did I want, wondering if he should be protecting his brother. Meanwhile his brother was enjoying life, and thinking "Yay, a human to pet me!"

I don't think birth order in a litter matters, but in a household of several dogs, it could be very important.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Tale of Tails

Dogs are very expressive with their tails. Since Irish Wolfhounds have such long tails, they have lots of expressions.

The first expression we learned from Finn was unfortunately an unhappy one. He was tired, worried and stressed from his move, and his tail hung straight down, or was curved in under his belly a bit.

Here you can see Finn, tail tucked up.

Here his tail just hangs straight down. Not fearful, just not quite happy.

A confident relaxed wolfhound has a curl at the end of their tail. Each dog is unique in the curl, some just make a 'J' at the end, some curl more.

Here is Finn sniffing something. His attention is on something else, but his tail still has a bit of a curl in it.

Out means confident.

Here is Finn with his 'swagger tail' on a walk around our neighborhood.

Up high means play.

This is Finn and Zack, 5 seconds before they both start to run and play.

It also can be used as a rudder, for sharp turns.
Of course Finn also gets 'Happy Tail' whenever we are heading out for a walk, or when we get home.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A dog owners worst nightmare...

For any dog owner, your worst nightmare is something going seriously wrong. Dogs can't say what is wrong, and why they don't feel good. If you haven't been with them all day, you don't know what has happened (or what they ate).

It becomes a guessing game, while the clock is ticking. For so many problems, catching it early is the only way to avoid serious consequences. For those of us with deep-chested breeds, we have the added worry of bloat and torsion.

So how do you know when your dog is in danger, or already is bloating? That is hard to answer, since every dog reacts their own way. The best advice I can give is remember that you know your dog best, and trust your instincts.

September 9 I came home from work late, (it was a Thursday) and the first thing I noticed was Finn was not at the door to greet me when I got in. Normally he is there, wagging his tail and bouncing around ready for a walk. This evening, he came over after I had gotten in the door, sniffed me, wagged his tail, and went and laid back down on his bed. I remember thinking one of the kids had walked him, and he was tired. Oddly enough, his dish was still full of water from the morning.

I fixed his dinner, and he didn't eat much. But he often doesn't finish his dinner until later. Over the next couple of hours, I started to realize he really wasn't feeling well. He still wasn't drinking, was just lying flat on the floor without moving and when he wouldn't even get up for one of his favorite cookies, I started to get worried. I checked his pulse, 75 (normal), gums were pink, with good refill, but his breathing was fast and shallow, and when he did get up, the back legs were wobbly.

I hopped on Facebook and messaged one of our Irish Wolfhound club members, Judie. She immediately said call her daughter Jodie, and after a quick discussion she advised me to take him to the emergency vet right away. Having gone through bloat with their own dogs, she knew how short a window you have to get help.

I had convinced myself I was being a nervous dog owner and seeing things worse than they are, so to have my fears confirmed was the worse news possible. I have had many dogs in my life, and I have loved all of them but Finn is the dog of my heart so this news devastated me.

My husband helped me get Finn in the car and we drove immediately to the emergency vet, fortunately very close and someone who had worked on Irish Wolfhounds before.

When we got there, Finn immediately started stress panting and his heart rate shot up. (he is terrified of the vet) They checked him over, and suggested x-rays, and here is where I made a big mistake. They insisted on taking Finn in the back to x-ray, and I let them. I should have gone with him. He doesn't do well when I leave him, and with his fear and size, they can't force him to co-operate. After a long time they brought him back, and we looked at the x-rays. He had a lot of gas, but the stomach looked ok and wasn't flipped. BUT he had an oddly shaped mass where his spleen was supposed to be. It could have been a kidney out of place or just viewed oddly (they admitted they had a lot of difficulty getting the x-rays, he fought being held on his back) or it could have been splenetic torsion, where the spleen fills with blood and flips over on itself.

They gave him fluids, and palliative meds for his stomach and intestines, just to tide him through the night and recommended I take him in to my regular vet for an ultrasound. I was to check his pulse through the night, and bring him back if it elevated.

So we took him home, and I was pretty much up all night checking on him and fretting. The next morning I took him in to his regular vet. His vitals were all good, and he was acting like he felt a bit better that morning. Not happy to be at the vet, but some better than the night before. Our vet looked at the x-rays, and agreed an ultrasound would show things better. They had to call in the ultrasound technician, so we waited.

We are not happy.
One advantage to the wait is that it gave Finn time to relax, and get over some of the stress of being at the vet. He did eventually relax a bit. It helps that everyone who ever sees him wants to say hello, and pet him.

Feeling a bit better.
When the ultrasound technician got there, she told me they would have to shave his belly, and that he would have to lay upside down in a cradle for the ultrasound. I told her then I would need to come back with him. She gave me this tolerant look and said "If I need you I will come get you."

Fifteen minutes later she came back, looking rather chagrined and said "I need you." We went back and they had two people holding onto Finn for dear life as he struggled. I put a hand on Finn and told him 'Stay' and he relaxed. They hadn't even been able to shave him, LOL!

As they shaved his belly, we found a long contusion, a bit of dried blood and bruising. I thought perhaps they had done it trying to shave him (I was NOT happy!) but it was too old for that. As I am soothing Finn, and asking him to stay down, I'm trying to figure out how he got hurt. The only time he was alone the day before was a couple hours in the afternoon. We had left the sunroom open so he could go out when he wished, and someone could get in the back yard.

We did the ultrasound and either the spleen was normal now, or we were just able to get a clear picture with Finn co-operating. Everything looked good, but the vet was concerned with his intestines, and gave him meds for Gastroenteritis.

We went home and recovered, Finn slept a lot. He still wasn't eating much, and didn't seem to want to move around. It took about a week before his appetite came back, and almost 3 weeks before his activity level and mood were back to normal.

The week before all this happened I found out about problems with Blue Buffalo Dog kibble. The Chicken formula had made 12 dogs sick. Of course, we had been feeding that to Finn but only as a top dressing for flavor. We discontinued immediately, but I think that was the cause of the gastroenteritis. Finn has always had a delicate stomach.

We also found evidence that someone had been in our back yard, we found some tampering. Our best guess was that Finn surprised whomever was in the yard, and they kicked him or hit him with something (there are poles and rakes in the yard) and that was the cause of the contusion and bruise. I think the combination of the brewing gastro and the injury caused his gas and stomach upset.

I believe we were very lucky. I can't help but think if we hadn't taken him in, he would have bloated sometime in the night, and we would have gotten up to a much worse, possibly fatal situation. So heartfelt thanks to Judie and Jodie for your good advise and help!

PVIWC Fun Show 2010

The day started a bit damp, but spirits were still up. (Besides, the drizzle was pretty authentic!)

Finn at our tent.

Bill and Finn.

Corky and Kelly

For some reason Corky was very intent on the camera, that or he wasn't forgiving me for taking him in the ring and away from his mom!

Love this expression, this is that soulful stare IW can give you.

Love those ears!

Naps are important, no matter where you are.

Judie and the boys.

Agnes, the Lady of the day. 10 years old and counting.

Click here for more photos by Mary O'Mally.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Virginia Scottish Games 2010

Today we went to the Virginia Scottish Games at The Meadows in The Plains, VA. The festival runs for two days, Saturday and Sunday, and is dog friendly! We saw lots of other dogs there.


Westies, all kinds of dogs and even other Irish Wolfhounds. There was a booth for the Westie Rescue, Greyhound Rescue, Shelties, Collies, a dog wading pool and terrier races.

Finn shared some of our fish and chips.

We watched a pipe and drum band perform. I notice Finn was not noise reactive at all, not even when the pipers played right in front of us.

We stopped at the Montgomery booth to cool off in the shade. Finn had a lot of visitors., including some who remembered him from last year.

Eventually he just went to sleep. He was one tired puppy!