Friday, November 30, 2012

My House Of #CatLove

Magic chooses the funniest poses in which to recline... Here he is with his front paws resting on the floor below the step he's lying on!
And here he is, coming to investigate the camera when I caught him digging in my handbag and tried to take a picture...
My precious little Minx, still dainty as the day she arrived in our house. When I try to photograph her she knows I'm near and she stretches and squeaks at me before settling down again.
Her favourite place to sleep is between me and my Glugster on our bed, snuggled up to one of our thighs. And as long as Riddick puppy stays at the foot of the bed she'll stay peacefully asleep.
My Greebo... Notoriously camera shy... Just about the only time I get a picture of him is when he's asleep- and even then he keeps a wary eye on me

Monday, November 26, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Thirty Four Weeks Old

On the vet's scale this morning he weighed in at 28.7kg.
Getting him to sit still took a lot of doing because there was an 8 month old Saint Bernard pup in the reception who was as excited to see Riddick as he was to see her! But he sat still the second time I got him on the scale, with a "wait" command and a treat when we were done. Then I let the two puppies say hello to each other before we headed home.
He has definitely reached a growth plateau, so he is now getting 220g of food twice a day. And I still fill his bowl with water because without the water he wolfs his food down so fast he chokes on it!
He is suddenly looking very grown up indeed. His puppy face is all gone. Even so, he is still my snuggle baby, sleeping on the bed with us or climbing onto the couch next to us. And like all my animals, I have several nicknames for him- I call him Pickle, Noodle, Shnookums, Sugarbump and Rickle-Pickle, but only when we're strolling and I'm just talking baby talk to him. He knows his name and his recall is great, thank goodness, so when we're working or if I am calling him or giving him an instruction I use only his name.
Fetching a ball is his favourite game! And he brings the ball (or whatever we're playing with) back to me and drops it for me to throw again. If it goes in the flower bed I tell him to "find it", and when he's had enough he lies down with the toy and chews on it instead of bringing it back to be thrown.
Car travel is better, and when I am in the backseat with him its perfect, but there are still glitches! If I am in the front seat or driving, he strains his leash till he's practically choking himself. And he HATES the hooter! If I use it or if another car hoots anywhere near us (like the taxis do) he starts barking and howling. Its very unpleasant in a small space and I am going to have to do some conditioning work to stop it happening, which will mean annoying my neighbours for a bit by honking the horn with us in the car.
We're working on obedience training every day, "sit", "down" and "off" especially. The "wait", "leave it" and "sit" commands he's got sorted, but we do a little bit every day anyway. We also work on him putting his head through his half-check collar when prompted. As much as he loves walking, he still fights me when I want to put on his collar and lead (we only use the half-check for "work"). We also practice the "wait" command with treats. He already waits to eat his food until I say "okay", but we practice with cookies as well as I don't want him snatching just because he thinks its being offered to him or because its on the floor.
We didn't take a lot of pictures last week as I was quite busy, but I got a few.
still sneaking onto the couch backrest when I'm not looking
so hard to resist that face...
Fast asleep. And he's so funny because he growls and barks in his sleep, sometimes waking himself up with a bark!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Greebo Is An Avid, Erm, Reader...

Ever since he was little, Greebo has loved books and magazines!
Here he is, spread out across a small stack of magazines and junk mail I put down on the coffee table!

Here's a picture of him from 2006, lounging on a stack of FHM magazines!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Thirty Three Weeks Old

Our Riddick weighed 28.2kg on the vet scale, which is down on last week, but the poor thing had a bout of gastro last week!
He started throwing up at about midnight on Thursday and it continued through Friday. We visited the vet on Friday morning and he gave Riddick a shot to stop him puking, and palpated Riddick's abdomen to see if he could feel something that wasn't supposed to be there- especially after I told him of Riddick's propensity for swallowing whatever he was chewing on. I was terrified Riddick had finally managed to block his stomach or tangle up his intestines with a sock or something.
The vet advised us to limit his food intake to small portions of something bland, like chicken and rice, but as he hadn't thrown up since the vet visit I gave him half of his usual supper portion on Friday night thinking he'd be okay.
Bad idea.
The poor boy threw up all night Friday! That meant neither he nor us slept well on Thursday or Friday night and I felt so guilty! The vet wanted to do a follow-up visit on Saturday morning and I told him I'd given him his regular food for dinner (albeit a half-portion), and the vet again palpated his now VERY empty stomach and was still sure there was no blockage, so he gave him another anti-nausea injection and suggested we stick to bland food for a couple of days to be sure he was over it.
We stopped on the way home and got some chopped chicken (no bones or skin) and I cooked it with some rice, which we fed to him in small portions throughout the day.
He was already much better when we woke up on Saturday morning, but there was no doubt in our minds that he was himself again and we were SO relieved.
He really is the light of our lives!
And the "sleep training" we've been doing seems to be having the desired effect as well! He is still waking up early, but he is no longer waking us up by jumping on the bed! Its fabulous!

He's still sleeping on the couch backrest if he gets a chance!
This week was a good week for some "conditioning" as well.
On Thursday night I went to a function where I was given a big black umbrella as a gift! How cool is that!? When I got home I wasn't sure if Riddick had ever seen a brolly, so once I was in the house and had put all my things down, I opened the brolly. Not fast, not slowly, just a normal speed. Riddick barked at it immediately. Without speaking- no reprimand or reassurance and no touching- I closed it again and offered it to him to smell. He sniffed it and then I opened it again. He didn't bat an eyelid.
I am confident umbrellas won't be a problem again, but should he bark I will run through the same exercise again.
And last Tuesday was Diwali, which meant LOADS of fireworks going off around our house from the moment the sun went down.
Our two older dogs, Thelma and Louise, are very nervous of fireworks, and I have never done any kind of conditioning with them. When we know there are going to be fireworks, we let them into the house so that they don't bark. This year I determined to use the opportunity to condition Riddick not to worry about the fireworks, the same way we had done with the first thunderstorms he experienced.
He is completely nonplussed by rain, thunder or lightning, and if I leave him outside when I go somewhere I will come home to a drenched Riddick because he waits for me to come home- in the rain!
And here he is, during the fireworks, after about fifteen minutes of "conditioning". SUCCESS! He actually spent most of the night on the balcony outside my bedroom.
The biggest part of "conditioning" (which is easier with puppies of course) is not to reassure the dog with touch or voice, not to reprimand any behaviour, and not to stress about how the dog may react. As humans, we tend to cuddle and reassure our animals if they're afraid of something, and the touching and crooning is essentially a reward for the behaviour they are displaying. With Riddick, we gave him a new toy and literally distracted him with play. There was no fuss made about the noise, the smell or the lights, it was just another play session. And after that he was fine!
I have to say here that we have had help from SAGA in training Volt because guide-dog puppies need to be taught from a very young age not to spook at noises and such, and it has been a big help with Riddick! He's not afraid if noises and he doesn't bark for fun.
And now for some cute photos!
Do mine eyes deceive me!??! Snuggling with Louise!??!
crashed on the couch 
asleep on the balcony

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Come On, Louise, Don't Blow It.

I'm a tad concerned about Louise... And about Thelma, but more about Louise...
Louise (our black dog) is between 5 and 7 years old. When we adopted her and Thelma from Wetnose in 2010, we were told they were about 3 years old, but within a year the hair on Louise's chin was going grey so we figured she was at least a year older than that, if not more.
In 2011, I started noticing some oddities about Louise, but it wasn't until late in the year that she was properly diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy and put onto medication. Without her meds, she suffers grand mal seizures- severe epileptic fits. Its scary to see and you can do nothing during a seizure but make sure they're safe from falling in the pool or some such. As Louise's Epilepsy has progressed she has had a few seizures since starting meds and her dosage has been changed, and it takes her longer and longer to recover from a fit each time she has one.
According to the vet, the seizures do not cause brain damage and she should be okay as long as she's treated.
But in the last few months I have noticed changes in how Thelma and Louise behave around each other.
Let me just stress, they're both healthy (apart from the epilepsy). They both eat well, their poops seem normal, they're not aggressive and they are really well behaved.
They are mostly outside dogs, and they have a doggy igloo on the front stoep that they share, with blankets and a big cushion. They've never been cuddly girls- never snuggling together- even when its cold, so I always made sure that inside or out, they had enough space to be comfy without necessarily touching each other.
The first thing I noticed that was odd was them snapping at each other when they're in the igloo together. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see who is snapping at who because when I go to look they stop.
But it didn't seem serious, so I didn't try and do anything about it.
Then this last week, I noticed Thelma has taken to chilling in the shade at the far end of the back garden. Now this is very odd to me. Thelma is a fabulous guard dog, barking only when there's something worth barking at, and the front stoep has always been her place.
If Louise barks at something, Thelma comes running round the front to see whats up and join in, but when they both go to the gate Louise snarls and snaps at Thelma!
Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

Monday, November 12, 2012

#SAGApupVolt And #RiddickPup - Another Week Together

Volt had been on training for a couple of weeks so they hadn't seen each other, and Riddick was very glad to see his "big brother"!
When we got home and I took Volt's leash off, the two of them took off into the garden and I didn't see them for 10 minutes!

chilling on the balcony
What they did manage to do - twice in one week - was get Riddick's Rogz collar off (like the one pictured in the link) and chew it to shreds! Each time leaving only the little strip with the big metal loop on it and the name tag! I "found" the remains of both collars in Riddick's poop over the next few days.
The two of them played so much, wrestling and running, and both chasing the solid rubber ball I've found in the back yard (it bounces but it can't be punctured) and, of course, getting up to mischief!
Evidence of their mischief? A hole in the plastic mesh covering the bottom half of my front gate! Its only there to keep puppies in (or smaller neighbourhood dogs and cats out) so its not a problem as such...
And more evidence - the remains of a toilet roll all over my balcony!

#SAGApupVolt Is Fifty Three Weeks Old

He spent a week with us and went back to SAGA today. He weighed 34.2kg on the vet's scale and he looks so sleek and grown up.
One thing that springs to mind about the week he spent with us was that he was suddenly spooked by the chlorine floater in the pool!
I am sure we've had one before, but this time Volt didn't like it at all. He was barking at it and giving it a wide berth when he walked past it in the pool (if it was close to the edge).
This would not do, of course, guide-dogs can't be spooked by anything and a big part of our puppy walking work is exposing the pups to every possible kind of scenario or noise they may encounter in their every day life.
I took the floater out of the pool, stood it upright on the bricks and sat next to it, quietly praising Volt if he came up to it without flinching. Eventually his curiosity got the better of him and he sniffed it with his neck at full stretch. I put it back in the pool and Volt responded as he had before, but with gentle encouragement and praise for ignoring it, he got over it and within a couple of days he was bopping it with his nose when it floated by him (he loves lying on the side of the pool with his nose under the water).
I was also able to see a difference in Volt's behaviour on-lead since he started his training! Its very impressive to have him not pulling at all!

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA
Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see updates on my puppy raising adventure!
Follow @SAGuide_Dogs on Twitter and on Facebook!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Thirty Two Weeks Old

He weighed 28.9kg on the vet's scale this morning. He's now seven months old so his growth rate will be slowing down a lot now. He's still lighter and shorter than Volt was at the same age and comparing their growth rates has been fascinating indeed.
I have now also reduced his twice daily meals from 260g to 240g of the Nutriphase, and will reduce it again next month.
I am pleased to say that I have found an almost perfect toy for Riddick! Its a solid rubber ball thats bigger than a tennis or cricket ball so its quite a mouthful, and it bounces (but doesn't float). He can see it, he can hear it, he can pick it up and bring it back to me no problem, but he can't puncture it!
So we have started a kind of "sleep training" for Riddick to stop him waking me at 5am. What it entails is stopping him and sending him off- quietly- when he gets on the bed to wake us, and then only getting up and acknowledging him when he lies quietly on the floor. He really is very sweet when he wakes us up, he gets onto the bed between my husband and I, and he streeeetches and yawns and licks our hands, so its not as if he jumps on us and barks and bites or anything like that. But because we didn't crate train him, he is able to get up on the bed and wake us up.
Although he wakes up at 5am, I would rather sleep a little later!
Its been three days, so I'll let you know how it goes.
And now for some pictures!
the brand new Rogz collar that lasted all of 4 days!
peacefully sharing a bed with Minx
naughty boy on the couch backrest again
my silly rickle pickle puppy asking to go outside

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Its Greebo's Purrday Today!

Greebo is a whole 9 years old today!

That makes him the equivalent of about 50 years old in human terms.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today Is The Day...

Today is the day I used to dread when it came to my feline furbabies!
Its deworming and tick-and-flea treatment day, for the dogs and the cats.
If you are a cat slave like I am, you will understand why I felt a sense of dread when this day dawned... I have many a scar to attest to my attempts to protect my precious kitties from the various kinds of worms. My cats don't go outside so I don't worry too much about ticks and fleas and so on, but the dogs do come inside and they can bring nasties inside with them.
By the time you've finished trying to get a tablet down a cat's throat, you'd swear your cat had 8 legs, all edged with razor blades!
And then I discovered that there is a flea drop treatment for cats, that treats worms as well (it doesn't treat ticks)!
One quick squeeze of a tiny tube of liquid, between the shoulder blades of my sleeping kitties and we're done and dusted! No scratching. No hissing. No trying to get a grip on their bodies with one hand, holding their mouths open with another hand, and getting the tablet past their teeth with your third hand.
Oh, wait...
My dogs' treatments are a breeze. I offer them a cookie and squish a tube of frontline on the back of their necks and they don't bat an eyelid.
And now of course, thanks to Milbemax's chewable, yummy tasting deworming tablets, Riddick will even shake my hand to get his!

Monday, November 5, 2012

#SAGApupVolt Is Fifty Two Weeks Old

And he's visiting us for a week!
He weighed 34.6kg on the vet's scale today, and he's still 60cm tall at the shoulder so he hasn't grown much in height.
On Friday last week I got a Whatsapp message from SAGA asking if we would be able to have Volt visit for a week! His trainer is going to PE to assist another trainer and she didn't want her dogs to stay in kennels while she was gone as they have already had two weeks of their new routine with her. So we get to have our Volt home for a week much sooner than I anticipated!
I got to have a quick word with his trainer when I fetched him and she says he's doing just fine. His positive dog distraction is a bit of a hindrance but he is obedient so its not a huge problem. And she says he's a bit of an escape artist too, which is something we didn't experience here at home! He is a very high energy dog but he is very lovable too.
We visited my folks over the weekend and he had a lovely time playing with my mom's dogs and visiting with the family.

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA
Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see updates on my puppy raising adventure!
Follow @SAGuide_Dogs on Twitter and on Facebook!

#RiddickPup Is Thirty One Weeks Old

He weighed 28.5kg on the vet's scale and he's 55cm tall at the shoulder!
He gained well over a kilo in the last week and he's grown 4cm in six weeks!
mommy's handbag and camera bag make nice pillows
He has suddenly lost his "puppy" face and is looking like a grown-up dog, and he's big enough for me to mistake him for Volt (Volt is visiting for a week) at a glance!
asleep next to the sliding glass door in our bedroom
We've gone through a whole collection of toys with both Volt and Riddick! Labrador puppies are very hard on their toys, and they love to chew. Riddick destroys a tennis ball in minutes. This weekend past I had a bit of a brainwave and my husband gave me a leather belt he no longer wears. I had my son cut off the buckle and then cut the leather strip in half so Riddick has two nice lengths of leather to play with and chew on, and he and Volt have had a lovely time playing tug-o-war with it! Leather lasts longer and is far hardier than plastic! We also found a ball in the pet supply shop that is a solid ball of rubber, which means it can be thrown and it can't be punctured! These solid rubber toys last much longer than other toys. What they also play with a lot are the insides of toilet rolls and paper towel rolls! They do make a mess, but they are pretty much harmless when they swallow bits of them.
Riddick fell asleep with a toilet roll inner tube still in his mouth
Last week Tuesday our suburb had another awesome hailstorm! There wasn't as much hail as the last one we had, nor were they as big, but it was enough to blanket the back lawn and collect in heaps along the wall! When it stopped raining we went outside and Riddick had an absolute BLAST romping in the ice and wet grass!
And Riddick is learning to "shake"! He doesn't do it every time, and it depends on where we are- when we're on our bed upstairs he "shakes" every time you ask him, but he hasn't clicked that the instruction applies no matter where we are.
And last Saturday we visited my folks with puppies in tow. Riddick gets on very well with my mom's two dogs- old lady Cleo (a boerboel) and young Toppolino (a fox terrier cross)- and he is exceptionally good with children! My fifteen month old nephew was pulling on his lips and smacking him in the face with excitement and Riddick didn't blink! And when my nephew was walking around the garden Riddick didn't jump on him or anything, though he does have a good sniff at his face and hands every now and then. I was very proud of him!
worn out after playing with Toppolino and Volt 
chilling with Cleo