Friday, December 28, 2007

Profound Thought for the Day

"The small percentage of dogs that bite people is monumental proof that it is the most benign, forgiving creature on earth."

-William H. Koehler

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Indy had quite a Christmas and is resting soundly now. On Christmas eve he opened presents from his Secret Santa, he received three plush squeaky toys, one that looks like an orange doll, one that looks like a blue elephant, it's ears crinkle too, and one that looks like a shaggy puppy. He's busy learning their names. I try to give most of his toys names so that I can tell him to go fetch something, he's very smart, I would say 95% of the time he gets it right, the other five percent of the time I think he's jut feeling lazy and goes for the nearest item or the item he'd rather play with. He also received a red plaid collar cover and some beef tendon chews, which he absolutely loves.

Indy has been completely overindulged this Christmas, he's tasted yogurt covered pretzels, maple bacon, maple ham, sweet bread, pineapple and a few other naughty things.

We went for a run this afternoon and met up with his buddy Hercules, they hadn't seen each other in a few weeks, you'd think it had been years the way they carried on. In their initial exuberance to greet one another, they took Hercules' owner right off his feet, luckily the snow made for a soft landing. They must have wrestled and played keep away for a solid hour before the humans had frozen toes and fingers and decided enough was enough. The boys were in no way ready to end their play time. Between the two of them, they really are the friendliest, happiest dogs I've ever met. They both simply exude the joy of being alive and being a dog.

They met up with a third dog who was relatively friendly, Indy took a lack of outright hostility as an act of friendship and tried to follow the new dog home, gleefully ignoring his recall command and running circles around me, obviously not ready for play time to end. Tomorrow, back to boot camp for Indy, doggy training 101.

For now, we're all stuffed silly on ham and I'm the last one awake in a very quiet house full of critters sleeping off full bellies, it is unusually peaceful.

However you celebrate this time of year, I hope it was a good one for you and your family. Here's looking forward to a new year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The beach

On Sunday Indy and I visited Grand Mere State Park on Lake Michigan. It was rainy off and on, but thankfully, by the time we reached the beach it had cleared up.

Grand Mere is a pretty state park, very undeveloped ... a little too undeveloped if you ask me. There were no signs directing people to the beach, or anywhere really, just tons of well worn trails that wandered off in every direction ... through miles of very high sand dunes. Needless to say, Indy and I wandered off in the wrong direction ... after aimlessly climbing and descending multiple sand dunes I fully expected to see water by the time I reached the summit of the monster size darn near vertical climb sand dune, only to be met by a view of another dune, and another one after that. Clearly, I had gone the wrong direction, so we started back tracking, a tiny bit lost, but eventually made it back to the car, hot, sweaty and swearing, I realized my keys had fallen out of my pocket, so, back we went, to climb those damn dunes all over again. I found my keys but I officially HATE sand dunes :) I griped at Indy for not being a tracking dog and for pulling on his leash the whole darn time (the trails weren't wide enough for heeling). Eventually we saw someone else on the trail and followed him to the beach, which was lovely. Indy did what can only be described as frolicking, those of you have have labs, know what I'm talking about. We played fetch, well, I said "fetch" he thought I said, "keep away", typical. In his usual joyous fashion, he bounded right up to a big female Shepard type dog, got in her face, taunted her with his toy, trying to induce play time ... the big doofus doesn't have a clue how to approach protective dogs. She growled and pitched a fit, luckily nothing more .. one of these days Indy is going to get himself into trouble because he doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't love him. Then our friend Ivy, the 11 pound Shi' Tzu bullier of big dogs arrived to put Indy in his place.

In order to be respectable dogs they had to play keep away with an old fish skeleton they found on the beach, yum. Indy dug a big hole in the beach as Ivy supervised and chased the flying sand. Poor Ivy must have required some serious bath time when she got home that night. Luckily Indy is a wash & wear dog, a nice hot shower and he's ready to go. Then I just have to clean the mud off and sand off every surface in the bathroom.

We left the beach happy and exhausted. Indy slept the whole way home, one happy and content lab.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Today I am participating in the global "Free Burma" blogging movement. In keeping with the subject of this blog, we have at left a black lab wearing red in support of today's "Free Burma" movement (not my photo, it was post on Flickr for the use of bloggers today).
If you're anything like me, you've heard short blurbs about the problems in Myanmar on the radio and you think, "oh that's sad", but you don't really know what's going on, and honestly, don't dwell on it for more than a few seconds. Let's take some time out today to learn about the problems facing Burma, why the monks are protesting, how the government is retaliating and what the international community is doing about it.

ko htike's blog (warning, disturbing, graphic pictures)

BBC's Country Profile: Burma

BBC: Monks trying to Escape Rangoon

BBC: Sanctions' limited effect in Burma

BBC: UN Envoy holds key Burmese talks

AP: Myanmar Junta steps up propaganda

An example of the Burmese government's propaganda

Burma Digest (blog)

Raw Story shows smuggled CNN video of the violence in Burma

A letter from inside Burma after the Internet has been blocked

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Well, Indy got to go see the vet yesterday. He was tickled pink, going to vet is like going to Disneyland for him, all the smells, sights, new people and animals ... did I mention smells? He always reverts to his hyperactive puppy from hell behavior when we go to the vet, bouncing all over the place, whole body wagging, typical lab "smile" from ear to ear, tongue hanging out, happy as can be. Though labs in this state can be downright aggravating with their over exuberance, they absolutely exude the joy of life, and everyone present smiles despite themselves.

Indy has been an itchy, sneezy dog since we got him a year ago, he had a noticeable worse spell in the spring where you could hear him clearing his throat and he sneezed and scratched and nibbled even more than usual, but I really didn't want to put him on drugs unless it was necessary, so we went into wait and see mode, and things seemed to improve. I've been supplementing his diet with fish body oil capsules and a little vitamin E, his coat became even softer and shinier, but it still seemed like he scratched more than a normal dog and with the arrival of fall, his severe itchiness has returned. He was nibbling so hard he had marks and little pustules on his skin, easily visible on his belly and inner hind legs. He was scratching his ears all the time and they were starting to look a bit pink. The diagnoses is mild atopy or atopic dermatitis. We're trying out Hydroxyzine Hcl 50mg twice per day. It's a prescription antihistamine and should be more than enough to give him relief from mild allergies. There was a noticeable difference within an hour or two of the first pill, I only saw him scratch once all night and no nibbles or rolling around on his back. The vet said that he would probably get drowsy on this medicine, I don't mind saying, that sounded rather appealing at the time :) It didn't happen though, he was wide awake and his wild and crazy self. By this morning, 12 hours later, it was clear that he was ready for his second dose as the aggressive scratching had returned. That's to be expected, it's not a cure, it just offers some relief from the symptoms. I really don't care for the idea of keeping my pets on medication long term, so hopefully (fingers crossed) this drug will only be needed to get him through allergy season.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sleepy Kitty

Ok, this has nothing to do with dogs, but Indy and I are kitty lovers too and this was just a great video, had to share ...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Achieving a low kill shelter

I'm going to take this opportunity to plug Nathan Winograd's blog because I feel very strongly that he's on the right track when it comes to animal welfare and reducing the number of animals killed in shelters each day.

The average person doesn't have any idea how shelters are really being run or what's wrong with the system. Winograd's works are a good introduction to that world and what really can be done about it. We do not have to kill nearly as many animals as we do each year, there is a humane solution and it is not limited to just spay and neuter programs.

You may also want to check out his book, Redemption.

Before you journey into this world, I should warn you, there is a polarizing battle going on between animal rights and animal welfare organizations, and what most people don't know, is that there is a significant difference between the two.

To keep this short and sweet, but certainly not without my own bias, animal rights refers to organizations such as PETA, The Animal Liberation Front and the Humane Society of the United States (which has absolutely nothing to do with your local humane society shelter). These organizations raise a great deal of money and spend almost all of it on advertising, programs to promote veganism (even for our carnivorous pets) and to influence law makers. The HSUS does not operate a single shelter, anywhere, yet they raise millions every year and have one hell of a PR department. PETA, raises millions per year and is under investigation by the FBI for fraud and terrorist related activities, they own one shelter, where the kill rate is over 90%. Remember all that money PETA raised to help the animal victims of Katrina and Michael Vick's pit bulls? Yeah, if you read the fine print, that doesn't actually go to rescue and rehab efforts, it gets reinvested into public education programs, like when PETA does presentations in public schools to promote veganism and discourage pet ownership, or like when they handed out "buckets of blood" to children as they left KFC restaurants, or the development of video games that promote their ideals. The ALF is a known terrorist organization with very close ties to PETA, that proudly proclaims they support violence against humans as an acceptable method of coercion in the "liberation" of all animals. Incidentally, these organizations have members who have released people's pets from their crates or fenced in enclosures and/or killed well loved and cared for pets in the name of "liberation". The leaders of these organizations have publicly declared that they seek the extinction of the domestic animal .. no more pet ownership period. No working dogs, no police dogs, no service dogs, no search and rescue dogs. They would like to achieve this through mandatory spay/neuter laws, and breed specific regulation (outlawing just about every breed of cat and dog you can imagine) that in the course of a few generations would eliminate pets. By the way, they also want to eliminate livestock and have all humans subsist on a vegan diet. You can also forget about insulin for diabetics and most medical research and technology. These organizations support legislation that would make you the guardian of your pet rather than the owner, which at first glance sounds sweet, but what it really means is that you give up your rights to that animal, your right to decide what is best for your pet, what to feed them, what kind of veterinary care to get, whether they are spayed or neutered, whether you compete in dog shows or sports, whether you dog wears a sweater and boots or not. Guardianship means that you and your vet may not be the ones who decide when it's time to humanely euthanize a suffering pet. It means that someone could sue you on behalf of your pet for perceived abuse. Before you nod your head, thinking that's a good thing, remember all of the nut cases out there. Recently a man was turned in to animal control for taking his healthy, happy, energetic, hunting dog running with him (off leash, the dog was running of his own free will), the accuser stated that dogs should not run, and to let them do so is tantamount to abuse (Every vet, breeder and animal trainer on the planet just cringed in unison). Animal control dealt with the crackpot appropriately, but keep in mind that if animal guardianship comes about, those kind of claims will have to be taken seriously under the law.

Animal welfare refers to anyone interested in preventing animal abuse, promoting responsible ownership and running no/low-kill shelters and rescues. These are the moderates, the people who truly love animals, who keep pets of their own, who save lives. These are the people who spent their own money and risked their own lives entering New Orleans to rescue cats and dogs before it was too late. These are the people who are deserving of your donations, volunteer efforts, moral and political support.

Now, if you don't believe me, want citations, want to read the same information in a coherent format :) or just want to learn more, I'm going to provide you with a very short list of links, just to get you started. A quick Google search would probably give you enough reading material to keep you busy for the next ten years ...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy belated B-day Indy!

Indy turned a year old last Wednesday, August 29th. We celebrated by going to the park and running and swimming off leash with his best buddy Hercules. I gave Indy a fresh knuckle bone when we got home. He was so tired it took all the effort he could muster just to chew on it. It was a good day.

This weekend I made a video to commemorate Indy's first year. Since I don't have a digital video camera, it's really just a fancy slide show, but fun all the same.

I apologize in advance for the length, evidently, I've never heard of "less is more" :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Media Mauls Dogs First, then Snaps Back at Actor

This is a really interesting article. I was relieved when I read it. I remembered seeing the news accounts accusing Ving Rhames' dogs of killing his friend and thinking that it just didn't sound right, it didn't sound likely, and the media reports smacked of sensationalism. Well, I was right. It was another media witch hunt attempting to scare the public into thinking that all large dogs are vicious and could snap at any moment. Sort of like that CNN report last week where they claimed that the stray dogs outside their studio were thirsty for human blood. Please ..... I'm so tired of the fear mongering, baseless accusations and profound ignorance.

Domestic dogs are not born dangerous. They are domestic because of their ability to bond with and accept humans as their pack leaders, because of their social behavior and their ability to adapt to our needs in a symbiotic relationship. Irresponsible and ignorant people create dangerous dogs. We also often label perfectly normal dogs as aggressive, when in fact their behavior is a reasonable reaction to a specific stimulus, that we may or may not be aware of. The incidence of dogs with a neurological problem that makes them truly dangerous without hope of rehabilitation is incredibly low. Almost all dogs that are euthanized for aggression have been mis-labeled as unsavable, unadoptable etc. when in fact, what these dogs suffer from is undesirable behavior that has been created and fostered by a human being, through mis-understanding, mis-treatment or neglect. While cases of mis-treatment and neglect make it to the news more often than you can shake a stick at, the most common problem in this country is a thorough mis-understanding on the part of humans when it comes to their dogs.

Rather than go into great detail here, I'm going to strongly suggest visiting Cesar Millan's web site (it's linked on the right hand side of this page) or checking out some of his books or DVD's from the library. I have done a lot of reading on dog training, relating to dogs, raising puppies, correcting behaviors etc ... some of it helpful, some not so helpful ... but Cesar hits the nail right on the head. He understands dogs and pack dynamics and he understands how humans and dogs can co-exist and he shares the information with the rest of us. I do not have Cesar's natural skill or talent, but even having a few basic insights makes a huge difference in my relationship with my dog. It allows me to be a better, more responsible dog owner and it allows my dog and I to have a much stronger bond, because I understand him (make no mistake, dogs don't have any trouble understanding us better than we understand ourselves!).

Once you have the basics, training your dog, preventing undesirable behavior and focusing on desirable behavior is so much easier, sometimes, not even necessary. A happy, well balanced dog with a strong leader, seldom develops behavioral problems because they are looking to their leader for direction rather than challenging them for dominance.

Well, I could go on and on (and I'm sure I will in another post) but I'm out of time for now :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

What a week!

Well, its been quite a roller coaster ride the past seven days. Last Friday morning, while I was in the bathroom getting ready for work, Indy had quite a party in the kitchen pantry, actually, that's where it started, it spilled over into the kitchen, through the dining room and all the way across the living room. He pulled out a box of corn starch, tore it up and ate a lot of the plastic and cardboard, and who knows how much actual cornstarch, there was still enough to cover the floors in all three rooms, his bed and the lower half of the dark green velvet curtains :(. It seriously looked like it had snowed in the house.

Then he grabbed a brand new sponge mop head off the shelf, ate off the plastic packaging and went to town on the spongy part. He seemed to be ripping it in small parts (from the little that was still on the floor) then eating it. So I'm all dressed for work, shoes on, ready to walk out the door when I spot Indy, covered in unidentifiable white powder with a partially eaten mop head hanging from his mouth and the guiltiest look you've ever seen on his face, for a split second anyway, then he wiggled his butt,turned around and took off, so the game of chase was on, up and down the stairs until I got him by the tail and stalled him long enough to extract the mop head. By this time I'm covered in the white stuff too. Got Indy crated, cleaned up the whole mess, made sure the kitchen door was shut, changed my clothes and left for work an hour late.

I did call the vet just to get her opinion. She said wait and see. If he's puking Monday he needs to come in. We discussed using canned pumpkin and the cat's fur ball laxative to get things moving. She thought the sponge would probably pass OK. Of course you know he had this little feast after eating an enormous meal of ground venison, and its the first venison he's ever had (it can make dogs a little gasy) ... so I was expecting the worst. As the day wore on I got myself more and more worked up, remembering that cornstarch is a thickening agent, it will absorb water and get pasty, the sponge will absorb water and expand plus he has who knows how much plastic bag and cardboard in there. By the time I got home I was a nervous wreck, watched him like a hawk all weekend. I was told by fellow dog people, to fast him for the first 24 hours and no exercise until everything has passed. Have you ever tried to make a lab puppy lay still? Have you ever tried to fast a lab for that matter? Those big sad eyes are just too much!

This is of course only the latest in a long line of things Indy has eaten that he should not (some of which should have killed him, but didn't, he didn't even get an upset tummy) ... but the sheer quantity of garbage he must have ingested along with the sponge, had me worried.

Well he never vomited, he did his business without fail (yes, I was on poop watch) I never saw more than the tiniest bit of sponge come out, but he seemed just fine after five days, so Tuesday night I took him to the park where we ran into his buddy Hercules, they had a great time running and laying in mud puddles. He whined a little bit, but I couldn't tell if he was just whining for attention or if it was something else. He seemed a little slower at times, but then would bounce right back and act normal again. By the time we got home he was really lethargic, he laid down the second we stepped inside, I walked him to the bathroom, he laid down on the floor, normally he jumps right in the tub, he didn't want to get in the bath tub (which is unheard of), with coaxing he finally put his front end in but I had to lift his hind section into the tub, where he just sat down (normally he's an active tail-wagging participant in his shower). When we were done, he climbed out ok, but then just laid down on his towel while I dried him. He seemed really tired and it's been very hot out, so I let him rest. On Wednesday, by mid-afternoon I noticed that he was extremely mellow and quiet. Went down stairs and let him out to potty, and I noticed he was moving very stiffly, kind of hobbling up and down the porch stairs, didn't want to stay outside at all. When he came back in I noticed that he was having a very hard time moving his back legs, and he sort of had them bent and he was quivering a bit. Normally I would have held out a day or two in case it was just pulled muscle, but given the risk of a blockage and the shaking (which was really kind of scary) I decide to err on the side of caution and went to the Vet. I had to lift his back end into the car (also unheard of, he lives for car rides). The vet did a physical exam of his belly, hips, feet, elbows, ligaments etc ... of course Indy was so excited at the Vet's office he showed very few signs of pain other than some stiffness once he finally settled down. His anal sacs were full, the Vet drained those and said that might be the cause of his discomfort but that unless his symptoms went away within a few hours he couldn't really rule out an obstruction, hip dysplasia or some other sort of lameness.

Since Indy has been eating and pooping OK with no vomiting, we're hoping it's not an obstruction, but if any of this changes he's going to do a barium x-ray. If his appetite and defecation remains normal and symptoms persist for more than a few days, he's going to do hip x-rays to check for dysplasia :(

On Thursday the limp became much more noticeable on the left side, which was sort of a relief, if it had been an obstruction, his whole stomach and back end would be in terrible pain by now, not just one leg. His new Orbee Tuff Diamond Plate ball came in the mail and that took his mind off things as he laid down to chew on it.

Today he seems to be getting around a little easier and a little faster. I'm feeling very relieved, it appears that we were only dealing with a sore muscle or a strain. Hopefully in a few more days he'll be back to romping with Hercules and swimming in all kinds of disgusting lakes and rivers :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Frosty Paws

It's been so hot here lately, I really wanted to make a nice cold treat for Indy to enjoy on those hot, muggy, summer afternoons. A nice lady from one of my online groups shared her variation of this recipe. It was a HUGE hit.

Here's what I did.

One 32 oz tub of plain, fat free yogurt
One ripe banana
2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp Honey

I put it all in the blender and mixed well. Then I greased 12 muffin cups with canola spray and poured the mixture in. I put the muffin tins in the freezer. To serve, I take a knife and insert it at the edge of the cup, the "ice cream" will pop right out. I served it in a shallow bowl, which was an unnecessary step as it didn't stay there for long.

This treat actually smells quite good, I was tempted to try it myself :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dock Jumping

It's 85 degrees here today, and like a loyal companion, Indy has abandoned me in favor of a much cooler spot downstairs in front of the fan. To be fair, he does come to check on me once in a while, when he verifies that I'm still breathing and still not preparing food for him, he returns to his nice cool spot.

In the mean time, I am recovering from a wicked sun burn that I got at the UKC Premier show on Thursday. We were at the show because Ultimate Air Dogs was hosting a dock jumping event, something I've wanted to try with Indy ever since we saw it on ESPN back in January. Like a good dog mom, I made a check list of everything that Indy would need for the day; crate, toys, water, treats etc ... forgetting, of course, people food and sunscreen. I spent the next two days laying on the sofa, huddled under a blanket even though it was 80 degrees in the room, trying not to move or breathe, while Indy would, at regular intervals, come up and lick, scratch or lean against the most painful parts of my body. He was trying so hard to be sweet. Now that the pain is starting to subside, I think it was all worth it.

We had a great time at the dock jumping event. Indy got lots of practice and improved with each jump. His first recorded jump was 2'10", don't laugh, it's not that bad for a newbie who skidded to a stop at the end of the dock to peer over the edge before proceeding :) I don't recall what his second recorded jump distance was (I had to lay down on the dock and splash my hands in the water to convince him that there really was water in the pool, at which point he used the hand that was still on the dock to launch himself into the pool, I was too busy nursing my hand to listen to the judge's measurement), the third jump was 5'10" and the fourth was 7'8". By the end of the day he had very little hesitation at the end of the dock. In all, I think he had a great time. Het got to spend all day outside meeting lots of dogs and lots of people and he got to swim and go for a long car ride ... what more could a dog ask for? He slept for almost 24 hours straight, a sure sign of a happy and content lab.


This is my first blog, so if you have any constructive suggestions for how I can improve it, please leave feedback.

This blog is dedicated to my yellow Labrador Retriever, Indy. It will be focused on Indy, Labs and dogs in general.

Indy was born on August 29, 2006. He was one of eleven pups, though by the time we went to visit his litter, there were only two left, a boy and a girl. It was an easy decision, Indy made a beeline for me. In fact, he plowed right into me, a sign of things to come (he's taken a few people off their feet). We did what nearly everyone who goes to look at a litter of puppies does, we fell madly in love with the first puppy we saw.

Luckily, it worked out for the best. His parents were both friendly, calm, well mannered yellow labs. Indy was very friendly, but confident enough to explore and play on his own. He had even been raised in a house with two orange cats, very similar to our own.

When we brought Indy home, we had about an hour drive, during which time, he alternated between whimpering and burying his head under my arm, sleeping peacefully and puking in my coat pocket ... in hind sight, giving him that peanut butter treat before getting in the car was not such a great idea. The first few nights were typical, he whimpered, whined, slept, peed and pooped, a lot.

The cats were not especially pleased with the new addition, but within a few hours, they began to venture into the living room whenever Indy slept or was confined to his play pen. It was not long before they put the new puppy in his place. Indy was in awe of the cats and their ability to jump to great heights. He tried many times as a young puppy to mimic them as they jumped up on desks, tables, beds and the sofa ... he would bring up his front legs as if he were jumping, though his back legs never left the ground. Then he would sit back and pout because he couldn't follow the kitties.

One week after Indy came home it was Halloween, which meant that he got to meet every child in the neighborhood, all the little demons, angels and superheroes, and he loved each one equally. He would pout each time they left, then nearly burst from excitement when saw the next group of kids coming down the sidewalk. To this day, he is just beside himself with joy every time he sees a child.

Puppy hood was a real trial for us. Indy was a very, very, very high strung lab puppy, a non-stop chewer, biter and barker who never, ever, ran out of energy. Luckily, over the past few months, he has really mellowed out thanks to his age, changes in his diet and no doubt, more experience on the part of his humans. No matter how much you read, you're never prepared for your first puppy.

I'm happy to report that Indy is now a well adjusted, adolescent lab, who is a joy to be around, though he is still mischievous (a trait that I think should be written into the breed standard). He will steal anything that he thinks you value or that he shouldn't have, namely socks, remote controls, shoes etc., in an effort to get you to chase him. This is by far his favorite past time, he never wins, but refuses to give up. His other favorite games are fetch, tug and irritate the cat then run and hide behind a human for protection. He also enjoys digging up flower beds and counter surfing in his spare time.