Saturday, February 27, 2010

Food issues revisited

We have had constant food issues with Finnegan. He is a picky eater, and many of the dog treats and goodies upset his stomach. We had tried other dog foods before, and settled on Eukanuba as the least bad effects. For those without wolfhounds 'bad effects' are loose stools, vomiting, and worst of all, lots of gas. Really foul, room clearing, eye watering gas. When you consider the size of a wolfhound...but enough said.

While the Eukanuba was doing pretty well, I asked many other IW owners what they fed, and most feed grain free diets. Taste of the Wild and Wellness were often mentioned, and one person claimed after switching to Taste of the Wild she had NO GAS from her IW.

Well, she had my attention! I found Wellness at Petco, and searched the boutique stores until I found Taste of the Wild. I very gradually introduced the new foods over 2 weeks. We have now been on the High Plains TOTW diet with some Wellness tossed on as a top dressing for 3 weeks. Finn's tummy troubles have gotten much better, and yes, the gas is reduced! There will always be some gas simply because a dog that size can't eat and drink without swallowing some air. But the amount and ick factor are greatly reduced.

The biggest change is that Finn is a happy eater now. The food smells yummy even to me, very meaty. We can switch to other flavors in TOTW and Wellness so he doesn't get bored, and by feeding him a blend, if I run out of one I don't have to intro a new food suddenly.

So both Taste of the Wild and Wellness get two paws up from us!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rally!

Finn and I went to a Rally clinic today, to try it out.

So what is Rally you say? Rally is an obedience event where you and your dog coordinate to accomplish specific moves. The emphasis is on the relationship between you and your dog, and fun!

From the AKC site:

"Rally is a new dog sport that is sweeping the nation. It was created to promote a positive relationship between the dog and its owner. Animation and enthusiasm throughout the performance is encouraged. Emphasis is on fun and excitement for the dog and handler, and the spectator, by providing a more "natural" approach to the performance.

Each team is judged on the execution of a single, continuous performance of numbered exercises on a course, uninterrupted by orders from the judge. Many of the exercises are derived from "doodles" people use when training for Obedience.

Perfect heel position is not required but you must maintain a loose leash at all times. Harsh verbal or leash corrections are not tolerated."

  • Question: "Who can do Rally?"

    Answer: "Anybody! Rally was designed with the average pet dog owner in mind, as a way to introduce them into the world of dog sports and for people to just have fun with their dogs. Whether you've just completed your CGC or are looking for something else to do, or you want to hone up on your obedience skills, Rally has something to offer you and your companion."

  • Question: "Will this help my dog to compete in regular Obedience?"

    Answer: "Rally is a wonderful sport for dogs and handlers who experience "ring stress", or for whatever reasons, would not be successful in traditional obedience. The Novice level is all on leash, you are allowed to use multiple hand and verbal cues, and you can talk to and encourage your dog throughout the performance. This makes it a great place to work through both of your ring nerves and to have some success in the ring."

  • Question: "Can beginners do Rally?"

    Answer: "Absolutely! Rally makes a great entry-level class for both obedience and agility. But don't be fooled! Rally can still be a challenge. You must work closely as a team as you negotiate the course, heeling from sign to sign and performing one of the many different exercises. Some are quite complex (there are 50 different exercises to choose from)."
It was really, really fun! Finn did quite well, I think we may try it in a show this spring.

It is also quite tiring..here is a photo of Finn and an IW puppy towards the end of the class.

This is a cell phone photo, it is really hard to take good photos of an event when you are busy enjoying the event yourself!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finn's view of the world

Finn and I had a conversation this morning.

First, let me explain some things. Last week Katana the cat caught and ate a spider. She then promptly threw up the still live spider, and her breakfast. We were feeding dry kibble, and the kibble was still in one piece when it came out. She wasn't chewing her food. I opened her mouth and realized she was down to about 5 teeth. As she is a 13 year old cat, this wasn't too surprising. She obviously has been getting enough nutrition since she resembles a butterball turkey in shape. But, feeling sorry for her toothless state, I went out and purchased a bag of canned cat food (grain free Taste of the Wild).

So now she has dry kibble 24/7, and twice a day gets a spoon full of yummy canned food. Enter Finn into the picture.

Finn: That smells really good!
Me: That is for Katana.

Finn: But I want the good smelling stuff!
Me: This is cat food, not dog food.

Finn: Why does the cat get the good food? She never does anything fun.
Me: This is all she gets, you get cookies, fruit, and I make you a hot meal every evening with meat and goodies. Katana never gets food like you do.

Finn: I don't remember any of that. I'm really hungry and that smells so good. Can I lick the can?
Me: No, you will cut yourself. Cat food is bad for dogs.

Finn: How can anything that smells that good be bad??

Finn: *Sigh,* I guess I will just eat the cookie in my bowl.

It's been almost a week, and we have this conversation every time Katana gets fed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!
Finn got a cookie for Valentine's Day.

A gourmet Apple-Cinnamon cookie that weighed about 1/2 pound! It's a really big cookie. I took a photo on a marble stand, then thought I would take a photo on the rug, to see which would look better.

I got one shot on the rug..

Then this happened.

Well, it was his cookie. Finn took it to his bed to savor. Finn is a firm believer in eating cookies in bed. (you can better see the size of the cookie here)

Pausing after the first crunch to see what I was doing.

Notice the crumbs in the bed from earlier cookies.

It was a very yummy cookie!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bored...

It is still snowing...

Bored...bored..bored..

We are so bored...

We can't play in the house because the floors are slippery, and the cat won't play fair.


We can't go out and play.

Too much snow.

We'll just wait here at the door until spring comes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Walk in the snow

Today dawned sunny and beautiful. The 33 inches of snow we got here was beautiful. I decided to take Finn for a walk (or try to, anyway).

As you can see, someone had broken a trail on the road.

Still a bit iffy though

We ran into Pogo. He and his owner had the same idea.

How cute is that Goldendoodle face? Pogo is 10 months old, and Finn loves to play with him.

We had to cut our walk short though, even with a broken trail, walking through that much snow is no joke. I was exhausted!

Home! Note the giant icicle. Finn slept for the next 4 hours.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010

If you want to know what it is like the in DC-Balt area right now, go here .
Seriously, we have a lot of snow, and it's still coming down. We have been out shoveling.

That shape on the left is a Honda.

Yes, the snow is over our waist now. Notice Finn greeting a snow shovel for hire who wandered by.

I shoveled a circuit in the back yard for Finn, with 2 'bathrooms'. After I had done that, I thought I would walk out in the yard in the snow, thinking I would make a path for Finn to play by walking through the snow. Even after I 'swam' through the waist high snow, he still couldn't get through the path. This upset him mightily. He was very worried about me being out in that deep snow. He started barking at me, and pawing the snow. He wasn't happy until I came back to the shoveled area, and then tried herding me into the house.

Finn wouldn't come in until I had left the porch area. He is blocking me in here.

"The snow is too deep, you need to stay inside and not be silly."

How could I argue with that nose??

Since we have come in, he has not left my side. He is obviously been convinced I am too stupid to be trusted anywhere without him to save me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

We like tuna fish.

Today for lunch I thought I would fix some tuna salad. Finn is a big fan of any cheese, especially stinky cheese. Since I love stinky cheese too, it works well. This was Finn's first exposure to stinky fish. I figured he would like it, but I wasn't prepared for the instantaneous rapt attention I got the moment the seal of the can was broken.

Finn's nose was immediately 2 inches from the can as I opened it. We didn't forget our manners completely, we waited to be offered some, but I could tell it really tested his resolve. I let him lick the spoon after I scooped the tuna out, and he didn't even stop to sniff first.

Then I made my sandwich.

Tuna, mayo, a little chopped Bread and Butter pickles, romaine lettuce, sharp provolone cheese, spices, on Italian bread. Yumm!

Finn thought so too. Note the total concentration on the sandwich. This photo cracks me up! He won't touch it, but he will stand there and look at it.

Of course he knows this will get him some of the goodie, whatever it is. I made him his own tuna/cheese/bread crumble. (He doesn't need the mayo and pickle)

I tried to get a photo of all the nose and lip licking that happened after this, but he was too fast. It was a small can of tuna, so 2 lunches and that was it. But Finn is quite hopeful there is another can.

This is Finn standing next to the sink, where I opened the can and no doubt some lingering tuna smell wafts.
'Please sir, I want some more!'

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pets On Wheels

Tonight Finn and I went to a Pets On Wheels meeting. POW is an organization that certifies dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, all kinds of pets for visits in many kinds of institutional settings. I wanted to find a group where Finn and I could give back to the community in a more direct manner, and studies have shown contact with animals can have a wonderful healing and calming affect on patients.

Here is a description from their website:

Pets on Wheels is a not for profit volunteer 501c3 organization which provides friendly visits from volunteers and their pets to those requiring the support of an institutional setting. Pets On Wheels Animals

Visits are most often to nursing homes; however, assisted living communities and facilities for the physically and mentally challenged are also recipients of our visits. Recently, veterans' hospitals, programs for the homeless, and children at risk of home out placement have also been added to our visits. Our emphasis is on residents who have been unresponsive to ongoing activities. Many of these patients have impaired cognitive abilities due to specific illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, and react to animals with more awareness than to people around them. For instance, repetitive speech behavior or annoying mannerisms may cease while a patient is petting an animal.

Pets love unconditionally, even when a person is no longer attractive, even-tempered, or agile. Their warmth makes a difference to those they visit.

Finn passed his assessment, and as soon as his health paperwork comes back from the vet, we will try our first visit.

We are quite excited, Finn loves to meet new people. (Even if he has to ride in the car to get there)

Book reviews

Recently I have purchased 3 different books about or featuring Irish Wolfhounds

How could you possibly walk by this book, with that puppy on the cover and not buy it? Fortunately the book was a fun tale of time travel and Ireland, and the mystical power of Irish Wolfhounds. Good Fun! While the dogs are an important element, they aren't the central part of the story. Since I love historical fiction, and this was pretty accurate, I really enjoyed it.

The author has another fun looking book featuring a black lab.

This book is out of print, and therefore hard to find and a bit expensive. I think it was well worth it for any IW fan. It has good history of the breed, information, and lots of gorgeous photos. I loved it!

I found this on Amazon, and picked it up to try. It is a fun murder mystery, with a pretty accurate depiction of an Irish Wolfhound as one of the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was able to ignore a couple of scenes where the author showed she really hadn't ever had a wolfhound. (She did her research, but she doesn't really comprehend the size. In one scene she has the wolfhound jumping from the front seat of the car into the back. Problem #1. no adult wolfhound is going to fit in the front seat of any car. #2. if they were in the front and wanted in the back, it would be a 10 minute clawing scramble to get there.)

Her depiction of a wolfhound chasing cats, ignoring commands she doesn't like, and loving junk food (especially cheeseburgers and ham) was spot on though! LOL!

This is a series, and of course now I have to get the rest of them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Play date in the snow

Finn

Pogo

and Augie




What is so intriguing? A maple tree stump.




Many thanks to Pogo for hosting, and to Pogo and Augie for a very good time!

Wolfhound proof toys...

Irish Wolfhounds, like other big breeds, are tough on their toys. Actually, death and destruction on toys would be more accurate! After watching Finn shred toy after toy, pop tennis balls in minutes, and crunch up bones and chews like a cookie, I thought I wouldn't find anything for him to play with longer than 15 minutes.

Finn came with a Kong, but seemed uninterested in playing with it at first.

After I found out what the hole was for, and filled it with treats, Finn was interested in playing with it, at least as long as the treats lasted.

I really wanted something that kept his interest longer than 15 minutes. Next I tried a large Everlasting Treat Ball. I gave it to Finn to entertain him while I cooked dinner. (his favorite spectator sport) 2 minutes later I hear crunching. I'm not supposed to hear crunching, he is supposed to lick the ball and chew the indestructible outside.

When I check on him, he has already gotten the inner 'treat' out, and is crunching it up like a cookie. I can't even get a new treat in there, so I don't see how he was able to get it out that quick. On the good side, the toy is actually more fun for Finn empty. The knobbies make it fun to chew, and when he tosses it, it rolls in circles forever, making it fun to chase.

I have bought so many different types of balls. Each has died in about 5 minutes. Until I found the Planet Dog ball.

It glows in the dark, and is hollow with holes on each end. No matter how much he chews the ball, it doesn't shred, and still bounces. A bonus is when he chomps down on it a certain way, air whooshes out of the holes. This causes him to drop it, look at it, then attack it like the whooshing was a counter attack.

Planet Dog is also dedicated to animal welfare, so purchasing helps other pets. See their website here.

All 3 of these toys had value, but I think the Planet Dog ball wins for long term play potential. Although I do rather have fun trying new ones, just to see how long it takes Finn to destroy it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Détente

For 12 years Katana has ruled her realm. The staff has been very accommodating, no other cat has dared step a paw in her territory, and dog visits had been brief.

Then the invader came.

At first Katana retreated to her fortress (the basement) and waited for the furry, smelly upstart to be send packing. Occasional forays to the upper floors showed her the unwelcome creature was still in residence. Not only that, but he had the nerve to sniff her, lick her, try to chase her, then worst of all, bark at her!

She tolerated these insults with dignity, but eventually realized her status had to be explained to the mutt, and delivered a sharp swat across the nose to make her point. Since he was only a dog after all, the lesson had to be repeated.

Finally an agreement was reached. She would tolerate occasional sniffing, maybe one lick, and his attendance at a respectful distance when she strolled her domain. In return, he was allowed to exist, and upon the occasion she wished to run, chase her for a few steps.







I think she is enjoying this power a bit too much.