Gren Learns to Swim

Gren Learns to Swim

We didn’t have much of a summer in Newfoundland, so when the Pie and I were visiting family in Ottawa we took advantage of the proximity to our cousin’s cottage and decided to teach Grenadier how to swim.

Gren Learns to Swim

Now, some dogs, like labs, goldens, duck tollers, and PWDs, are born swimmers.  Other dogs, especially those whose front ends are significantly heavier than their back ends, like pugs, bulldogs, daschunds, and yes, corgis, are not.

Gren Learns to Swim

Even so, it was something we wanted to get Gren used to doing, just so he would have some options on a hot summer day.  Aside from some wading about and a briefly traumatic fall into a turtle pond, Gren was a land-lubber.

Gren Learns to Swim

For safety’s sake, and because corgis are not natural swimmers, we got Gren a dog’s life jacket.  Make sure when you are looking for a life jacket that the seams are tightly sewn and the workmanship looks good.  Ensure that the fit is correct for your dog’s weight, as well as his length.

Gren Learns to Swim

You should be able to comfortably lift the dog up by the handle of the jacket when the jacket is properly secured. This handle is especially useful when your dog falls off your boat and you can just haul him back on.

Gren Learns to Swim

This Outward Hound version is widely available and nicely affordable at around thirty bucks retail.  I like the additional flotation under the chin, which helps keep the dog’s head above the water — this is a plus (and a must) with brachiocephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs, who don’t have the long snouts of other dogs.  And remember that even with a life jacket, you should never leave your dogs unsupervised in the water!

Gren Learns to Swim

Gren likes to paddle in the water, but he’ll never be a big swimmer.  Whenever we had him out over his head his first move was to head for shore.

Gren Learns to Swim

He did swim out to “rescue” the Pie at one point, because he was too far away, but that was the only time he left the shore of his own will.

Gren Learns to Swim

He was really not a big fan.

Gren Learns to Swim

Private Screening

As you may have seen from previous posts (like when our toilet exploded), life here at Elizabeth is more often than not fraught with peril.  And now, with two small boys and a wee dog running around, the grown-ups here have to be extra vigilant.

And of course, being boys, they like to get themselves into trouble.  One of their favourite things to do is attempt to climb under the back porch, which is full of rubble and sharp bits of re-bar and all sorts of nasty things.   Once they’re under there, it’s a job getting them back out.

As a solution, I am going to staple a plastic screen around the whole thing.  Subtle and yet effective.  I found a roll of plastic chicken wire at Canadian Tire for $11.

If I have any left, I’m going to go around the railings as well.  Both Gren and IP have a disturbing tendency to hang off the edge.  I hope the screen will act as a deterrent.  And I found some extra in the shed the other day.  BONUS.

So here I go.  I only used two tools here: a staple gun (with staples, of course), and a sharp knife for cutting through the screen.  You could even use scissors on this stuff.

Our staple gun isn’t particularly powerful, and my hands are quite small, so I had to grip the gun near the top and therefore didn’t get as much stapling *oomph* as I wanted.  There are certain drawbacks to being a woman with tiny hands.

Basically I just tried to get the screen as tight as possible and then stapled the crap out of it, leaving no space for small fingers (or noses) to get in.

Even under the steps, where I folded the screen in half to fit.

Now, this is only plastic chicken wire, which isn’t very strong.  It’s more of a mental deterrent than a real physical barrier. In an attempt to make it stronger than it was, I kept it all as one long piece for as much as I could, and, of course, stapled the crap out of it.

I did the top as well, hiding the raw edges on the outside where il Principe couldn’t see them.  Of course the first thing he did when he came out was stick his fingers through the holes and try to push his brother’s stroller through one of the panels.  The screen works better in deterring Gren from wreaking havoc.

I did run out, and there is a hole about two feet wide next to the steps, but we can just put a large potted plant there.

We might end up ripping it out (the top stuff at least) and using real metal chicken wire, just because when il Principe is determined about something, he’s really determined.

Dog Digestion and Pumpkin

Gren has been living a chaotic life these past few weeks, adjusting to new people, new places, and new food.  He’s also been eating a lot of random objects on the side of the road, and that can wreak havoc with a puppy’s digestive system.

If your dog has a bit of a traveler’s gut, diarrhea, or is constipated, there is a quick and easy solution, and I will let you in on the secret.

Ready?

It’s pumpkin.

I’m serious.  It has all this lovely fibre in it to help ease a dog’s digestion, without the sugar of your regular fruits.  I’m sure it works on people as well.

You can give your dog up to a tablespoon of pumpkin purée a day.  Just plop it in the dog’s food and all will be well.  I give Gren a teaspoon in the morning and one at night and he’s good to go.

I also add a teaspoon each time of plain yogurt, to make sure his little tummy has all the good bacteria in it that it needs.

Make sure when you’re buying pumpkin in a can that you get the plain stuff, not the pumpkin pie filling.  Your dog doesn’t need the spices and the sugar.

And because you probably won’t need to go through a whole can before your dog’s gut is back to normal, you can freeze the pumpkin in individual serving sizes (like I did here in ice-cube trays) for the next time you need them.

Gluten-Free Dog Treats

In honour of Ruby’s first birthday, Cait and I got together and concocted some fabulous dog biscuits for her and Gren.  Being a corgi and therefore very food-obsessed and prone to obesity, Gren only took home a few to try, but they were still enjoyed by all.  I even had one, as I won’t feed my dog anything I wouldn’t eat myself.

Ruby murders Gren

Fortunately, we were able to easily find a dog treat recipe online that conformed to our philosophy of feeding our dogs biologically appropriate food.  That means most definitely no corn, no wheat, and no soy, and none of those other things that people seem to think dogs need, like salt, sugar, and artificial flavours or colours.  This recipe from Sandra over at dog-nutrition-naturally.com totally fit the bill and was easy to do.  We tripled the recipe so that there would be plenty of birthday treats for everyone.

First, peel yourself a large sweet potato.  And I mean LARGE.  Cut that sucker up.

Plop the potato pieces in a pot and boil them silly until they’re mashable.  Then of course mash them.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

In a large bowl, plop in 1lb ground meat.  We used extra lean ground beef, but you can use turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb — or really, whatever you want.

Add to that 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) and a large egg.  Drop in 5 tablespoons large flake rolled oats as well, just for cohesion purposes.

Chuck in the mashed sweet potato and mix it well.

Spread it flat on the prepared cookie sheet and smooth the top.

Bake for about an hour.  The cookie will shrink and pull away from the sides.  Now you can score the cookie into smaller pieces, or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes.  A pizza cutter is handy about now too.

Reduce the oven heat to 250°F and pop the cookies back into the oven for another hour or so to dry out.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Tada!  That’s it.  Now SIT.

Good dog.Make sure to store your treats in an airtight container, and of course remember that treats should never be used as a substitute for your dog’s regular diet.  Yum yum!

Card Key Chain

Thanks, Alidoesit readers, for a whole year of DIY posts!  Your feedback has been great!

I definitely got this idea from Martha Stewart, but it’s a good one.

I try to avoid joining memberships at stores and things, because I hate carrying cards, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  As a result my wallet is jam-packed with cards that I don’t necessarily use on a daily basis.  Plus, they’re tucked inside my wallet when the Pie needs them or vice versa.

Some companies are smart and they give you a wee tag to fit on your key chain.

So why not have a key chain solely for the cards you don’t use all the time?

It’s a simple matter to poke holes in all your cards with a hole punch.  I figure that the middle of the side of the card is the best place to avoid cutting through magnetic tape and bar codes and the like.

Then you can just stick them all together on your key chain of choice, ready for you to use whenever you need them, available to whoever needs them.  Hang them in your car, clipped to your purse, or in the front hall by the door — wherever is convenient for you.

Newest Member

My Valentine to you is puppy love ♥.

I’d like to introduce you to someone.  The chick with the Justin Beiber haircut?  No, no, that’s just me.  You know me.  I want to introduce you to the little guy on the right.  That’s our future puppy, Grenadier St. James.

At the time of this post little Gren is only 6 weeks old and not quite ready to leave his mum, but he’s already cemented himself into our hearts.  Cait’s heart too.  The Pie is jealous that he doesn’t get to meet him until April, but what can you do …So anyway, in about two weeks a small furry sausage of a corgi will be running around wreaking havoc in our household and I’m sure will be the inspiration for many a blog post to come.Stay tuned.  Chaos will reign.