Pet Pop Art

Doodle's Cats 22

I’m going to preface this by saying I’m a bad friend. Doodle and I, you know, have almost the same birthday. Which was in March. Which was like four months ago. And do you know when I finally had a chance to make Doodle’s birthday present? It was last week. And the impetus behind that was that Doodle would actually be in town for me to give it to her. See? Bad friend.

Doodle's Cats 21

But while I may be a bad friend, I DO make wicked awesome birthday gifts, and I’ve had this idea on the brain for MONTHS.  I have been sitting on this photo frame since like JANUARY. Doodle and her husband the Cyclist have two cats about whom they are seriously nuts. Like if you think I am a little too obsessed with my dog, then you don’t know obsessed. Anyway. I got the inspiration from this idea at A Beautiful Mess and kind of ran with it.  When I told the Cyclist about my idea he proceeded to spend the afternoon sending me picture after picture of his beloved cats.

Doodle's Cats 1

I boosted the contrast on the photos and resized them to fit in the appropriate spots in the photo frame.

Doodle's Cats 3

Then I printed the photos out in black and white on neon paper. You can pick this stuff up at Staples or Wal-Mart. It’s important to print out two copies of the photo on two different colours of paper.

Doodle's Cats 2

Once I had them all printed, it was time to start cutting.

Doodle's Cats 4

First I cut out the photos from the paper I printed them on and made sure I had appropriate pictures to put in all the vertical and horizontal spots in the frame. There were eight spots and I had nine photos to choose from just in case I needed to do some manoeuvring.

Doodle's Cats 5

So now you have your two photos. Decide which one is going to be your background colour and then just leave that one completely alone.

Doodle's Cats 6

Take the other one and figure out what the object is that you want to show up against the background and carefully cut it out with a craft knife.

Doodle's Cats 7

Then take the cut out piece and apply some adhesive to the back. I used a glue stick because I knew that the paper would then be pressed against glass and so I wouldn’t have to worry about it peeling off. Then you just stick the contrasting piece right on top of the other piece, using the image as a guideline. It means you can’t screw it up.

Doodle's Cats 8

Then you just do it all over again.

Doodle's Cats 9

Having the same image underneath means you can match up shadows and sticking it on makes it much easier.

Doodle's Cats 10

Finally everything is cut out and stuck.

Doodle's Cats 11

Then it’s simply a matter of putting the pictures in place.

Doodle's Cats 12

Doodle's Cats 13

The finished product – it’s leaning on a granola bar for balance at the moment.

Doodle's Cats 14

I can’t decide which picture is my favourite!

Doodle's Cats 19

Update on the Indy Sitch

So it’s been almost two weeks since we picked Indy up and brought him home.

2015-03-26 14.23.33

Things are going more or less as expected. When Gren was a puppy I tried to crate train him and it did not go well. Neither of us slept for six months. For Indy we went with the pen approach and it seems to be working so that’s a relief. Puppies can usually go without peeing for as many hours as they are months old. Indy is currently ahead of the game at three hours against his two months of age, so we set our alarms every night and all four of us troop down to go outside in the wee small hours of the night. But then afterwards, Indy goes back to sleep and we can get a bit of rest ourselves.

2015-04-01 19.40.58

Thankfully, Indy, like Gren, is a routine-based animal. We get up at 5:30 AM, go outside, have breakfast, get exercise and playtime, and then he passes out at 8:00 AM, which is when the Pie starts work (he works from home full time). Indy will then sleep until noon, when he will get up, go outside, have lunch, get exercise and playtime and then he passes out until around 4:00 PM, and now that I’m back at the office I’ll be arriving home around 4:45 so that works out pretty well.

2015-04-01 19.35.23

Gren is starting to calm down a bit. Originally, we were letting them play until they got annoyed with each other, because we were relying on Gren to teach Indy boundaries. However, this has led to some scary incidents where Gren goes all snarly with his teeth, and while he hasn’t hurt Indy in any way, we’re not used to seeing it from our cuddly bunny of a dog and it’s a little disturbing. The problem is that Gren weighs forty pounds and is almost four and a half years old. Indy is barely past two months and weighs about six and a half pounds. So when they’re playing, Indy tends to get squashed a bit more than he likes, and because he’s naturally more dominant than Gren, he gets annoyed. So when Indy is annoyed (which seems to be often), he starts growling and barking and going after Gren’s face. Eventually Gren can’t tolerate this anymore and he snaps and goes into scary mode. Gren, my beautiful momma’s boy of a sook, has even growled and snapped at me from the stress and that’s no good. Then we have to go through the rigmarole of calming them both down and separating them, which neither likes.

2015-04-01 19.45.38

Last week we were separating them by gating Indy into the kitchen, which gave him room to move around but separated him from the hub of activity in the house, which is the living room. It also made Gren anxious because Indy was too far away and plus the kitchen is where the magic happens.

IMG_20150325_082710

So we got a new, taller pen, similar to the one in our bedroom, and we moved the dining room table and set it up in the living room. Now Gren and Indy can be near each other but not in each other’s space and I think both of them really like that.

2015-04-02 08.12.28

IMG_20150331_201026

We’ve started to incorporate walks into Indy’s routine, as he’s surprisingly adept with leash walking. The Pie will take him around the block a couple times while Gren and I go for a longer walk, and then we meet up at the end and go around the block a couple of times together. Not only does the walk tire each dog out but walking together gives them an opportunity to be together while doing an activity that doesn’t involve eating or playing.

Indy Sitch

We are also trying to teach them that when they are together they don’t HAVE to be playing all the time. They can just be enjoying pets and cuddles or playing with their toys separately. We have separate toys for Gren and Indy, to avoid any jealousy on that front as well. Gren has never been particularly territorial about his toys before, but usually he shares them with dogs who then go away again. If Indy takes his toys here and we let him it makes Gren feel like he’s being replaced and he doesn’t like it.

2015-04-01 19.39.56

Every time we encounter a setback, like Indy has an accident in the house (at least he does it in the same spot every time) or Gren snaps at Indy and we have to pull them apart, we have to remind ourselves to stay calm and remember that it’s only been a short while. These things take time, and the progress we have made in this short an amount of time has been very impressive. So things are going well, I think. Stay tuned!

Indy Sitch

Introducing our New Little Ball of Chaos to our Older Bigger Ball of Chaos

Indy's First Weekend
You may have seen this on my instagram feed.

Some big news: last weekend the Pie and I went on a little drive and came back with THIS furry friend. His name is Indiana Jones (named after my idol) and he’s 8 weeks old – well, almost 9 by the time you read this.

Indy's First Weekend

We got him as a companion to Gren, who can be rather jealous of the attention that I give to other small animals and babies. So the plan was to get him a friend to keep him distracted and to divert the amount of spoiling he gets so that we can start thinking about maybe having kids without dealing with the angst of a 40lb furbaby.

Indy's First Weekend

But that’s a way in the distance. This baby corgi is enough to deal with at the moment and needs some training. And he needs to establish a relationship with Gren. I did a lot of research before bringing Indy into the house and I will present here a few tips and tricks I learned from doing my research and from trying it out on the two fiends, interspersed with pretty puppy pictures. Make sure to do your own research when getting a puppy, including whether a puppy is even really suited to your home life and activities.

Indy's First Weekend

Plan it out: you’re going to need to set up some things when Puppy comes home, and one of those things is going to need to be some kind of crate or pen for Puppy to go into when Dog has had enough of its shenanigans and you don’t want Dog to EAT Puppy.

Prepping for Puppy 18
Puppy penitentiary. The rug has a rubber backing to prevent accidents from seeping through to the carpet. So far Indy has been mostly accident-free.

And if you have a super neurotic dog who is really into his routine like I do, you are going to want to set up the pen a little in advance, just so he can get used to it being there. I moved things around in increments for a few weeks leading up to Indy’s arrival so Gren wouldn’t freak out about too much change at once. One day I set up the pen, and another I rearranged the kitchen to allow for a second set of doggie dishes.

Prepping for Puppy 7

You also want Dog to sleep on a couple blankets in advance, to get the puppy familiar with his scent. This is a good thing to bring with you when you pick Puppy up so he’ll have advance notice of what he’s getting himself into. Not a bad thing to chuck into Puppy’s bed, either.

Prepping for Puppy 14
Gren obliged when asked to shed his dog hair all over a blanket for Indy.

When you go to pick up Puppy, leave Dog at home. You have enough to deal with. Take Dog for a really really good walk before you leave so he’s nice and calm and tuckered out for when you come back.

Prepping for Puppy 17
Something is definitely up.

Meet and greet: the first introduction between Puppy and Dog is very important because you need to let them establish their own hierarchy without any issues. You may think that Dog will be the boss because he’s oldest and has been there the longest but that might not be the case. And it’s not up to you to figure that out – this is the job of Dog and Puppy to figure it out on their own. Your job is to make it as easy as possible.

When you arrive home with Puppy, don’t go inside. Put Puppy on a leash (even if he’s not really all that leash-trained at the moment) and take him down the block or to the park. Have a friend or family member get Dog, put him on a leash, and meet you at the park. This is neutral territory.

Prepping for Puppy 16
Gren is highly suspicious.

DO NOT. Just DON’T introduce Puppy to dog by holding Puppy and bringing him close to Dog. This puts Puppy on a different physical level than Dog and can make them both very uncomfortable as Puppy will feel vulnerable not being in control of getting away if necessary and Dog will feel that you have elevated Puppy to a different status.

Make sure both Puppy and Dog are firmly on the ground when they meet for the first time. Keep hold of both their leashes so you can pull them apart if necessary, but don’t pick Puppy up if you can at all avoid it.

Prepping for Puppy 15
The sheer size difference between the two means we have to be extra careful.

Now that they’ve had a chance to sniff, take them for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long one (Puppy will likely not have the stamina of Dog nor the leash training). This will just give them a chance to get used to each other still on neutral territory but also in doing a normal daily activity.

Bringing home baby: when it’s time to come home, make sure that Dog gets to go through the door first, before Puppy. This reinforces to Dog that you are aware of his place in the household and you are not replacing him with Puppy.

Prepping for Puppy 13

In the house, you can take Dog off the leash and let him go and do whatever it is that he wants to. Chances are he’s going to follow you around because Puppy is a new thing. Keep Puppy on the leash and slowly walk Puppy from room to room, letting him sniff around a bit but not letting him go everywhere. Keeping him on the leash establishes boundaries for Puppy, so that he knows that this is your house, not his, and that he can’t just go anywhere he wants and pee on anything he wants.

Prepping for Puppy 12
As you can see from his nose, Gren was never far behind in this tour.

Still on leash, walk Puppy to his water bowl (for the first bit, keep food and water bowls separate between Dog and Puppy to avoid fights), and show him places that he can pee (like the backyard or puppy pee pads).  Show him the place where he will be sleeping and introduce him to his toys.

Prepping for Puppy 11

Once you’ve done the tour, you can take Puppy off leash and see what he will do in the territory that you have allowed.

Prepping for Puppy 10

Keep an eye on Dog to make sure he’s not getting too stressed out by Puppy. If he starts panting and his eyes go wide he’s getting anxious. If he starts growling and showing his teeth to Puppy you should put Puppy away in his place for now.

Indy's First Weekend
Because Gren doesn’t have a tail and his ears always stick up, you have to be really good at reading his facial expressions. He pretty much never smiles, and usually only does so when he’s stressed out. So this is a stressed face for him.

A little bit of tension is expected and allowed if Dog is to establish a relationship with Puppy, but you don’t want full-scale hostility that could damage either animal in the long term. You know your Dog enough to know when he’s had enough and you need to respect his boundaries in that way by putting Puppy away for a while until they’re both calm again.

Prepping for Puppy 4
Another stressed face. He got upset when Indy cried from his pen.

In the days to come: don’t under any circumstances leave Dog and Puppy alone together for several weeks, until their relationship is firmly established. If you aren’t there to break up potential fights then who knows what might happen? Keep Puppy in a separate area from Dog when you are not around to supervise.

Prepping for Puppy 9
Dogs in motion are hard to capture in photography.

Show some respectremember that Dog was there first and until Puppy arrived he thought he was the only one in the world for you. When this fuzzy interloper comes around and everyone falls all over themselves to smoosh him, Dog can feel jealous, and like he’s being replaced. This can result in tension and aggression towards Puppy. So until they sort their stuff out, make sure to give Dog preference in all things. If you’re petting Puppy and Dog comes up and pushes Puppy out of the way so he can get petted, listen to Dog.

Prepping for Puppy 3

Give him the attention he needs to show him that you haven’t forsaken him. Keep letting him eat first, go through doors first, whatever needs to be done, until the two of them figure out who goes where in the family hierarchy.

Indy's First Weekend

We’ve got an uneasy truce after the first few days. Gren is constantly checking to see where Indy is, and he gets worried when Indy cries. But he also doesn’t like it when we pick Indy up to bring him up and down our stairs (small corgis are not allowed to jump until they get a bit bigger), and after 7PM he turns into a grumpy old man who wants nothing to do with the pup he was playing with just a moment before and will snap at him if he gets too close.

Indy's First Weekend

It’s a work in progress, but progress is being made!

Indy's First Weekend
Most expensive foot warmers ever.

 

Best of Friends.

Okay, so the thing I made for the Pie’s birthday, remember that? Well if it wasn’t quite your style, maybe this one, using the same technique, will be more to your liking.

Cait’s dog, Ruby, is very sweet, but, being a dachshund, she doesn’t really get along with most other dogs.  When Cait became  mom to an anxious golden retriever named Cooper, we all held our breath to see what would happen.  It turns out we needn’t have worried.  Ruby enjoys having a big brother to boss around and take care of, and Cooper’s anxiety is so much less with a constant companion. I took this super cute photo of the two of them at a cottage last summer (for the microsecond they actually sat still).  They are the best of friends.

Cottage Life

Now, Cait’s birthday is only four days after the Pie’s, so, working on the success of the Pie’s gel transfer painting, I decided to do something along the same lines.  I messed this up before I got it right, so I’ll show you what I did.

First, I had to alter the photo to make it fit on the 16″ x 20″ canvas, and change the colours a bit in the photo to make sure both dogs stood out.  It’s hard when you have a dog with a black face and another  with an almost white face to make sure they both show up.  So I put a vintage filter on the photo, put a light vignette at the edges, and boosted the contrast a little.  These things tend to work better with high-contrast pictures.  Then I flipped it horizontally so it would come out facing the right way.

*RoobyCooper - FINAL

I had the picture printed out at Staples, and because it was so big it came out on their high gloss poster paper. My first mistake.

Best Friends 2

Best Friends 3

I couldn’t find my sponge brush, so I just used a regular plastic bristle paint brush to smear on the gloss gel medium.  My second mistake.

Best Friends 4

Then I used my squeegee to smooth the photo face-down onto the gel medium-ed canvas.  The centre of the canvas was pretty flexible, so I should have put something underneath to support it as I pushed around on top.  My third mistake.

Best Friends 6

You’re supposed to leave it to dry overnight, but after an hour I could see that the thing wasn’t working.  The poster paper was too thick to conform to the huge grooves in the gel medium left by my paintbrush, and there were giant streaks everywhere.  Because there was no support in the centre of the picture when I pushed down with the squeegee, there were whole spaces where the medium hadn’t adhered at all to the photo.

Best Friends 8

Part of Ruby’s face was completely missing.

Best Friends 9

No worries.  I can fix this.  I scraped off the parts of the gel medium that were still wet and left the thing to dry completely.  Then I covered the thing completely in a few coats of antique white craft paint.

Best Friends 13

It left a bit of a texture, but nothing that couldn’t be smoothed over with a new batch of medium and some careful application.

Best Friends 14

To get the picture printed on thinner paper (the regular 25lb stuff that comes out of photocopiers), I had to split the photo in half, so each part measured 10″ x 16″ and would fit nicely on a tabloid (11″ x 17″) piece of paper. You need a photocopier or laser printer for this job, as the ink in an inkjet goes through too many layers of the paper and will not work.

Best Friends 16

Here I am trimming the white edges off the paper.  My paper cutter is really nice, but it isn’t big enough to do the long edge of the 17″ sheet.  I managed, but it was dicey.

Best Friends 17

This time I put some books under the centre of the canvas to hold it up.

Best Friends 18

I used a sponge brush AND the squeegee to get the medium evenly across the whole thing.

Best Friends 19

I did my best to line up the photos as closely as I could, though it wasn’t perfect.  I was very careful with the squeegee when pressing it down not to press too hard in any one area.  I examined it minutely for bubbles and pushed out any that I found.  Then I left it the hell alone overnight.

Best Friends 22

The next day I had roofers come to fix our leak so I hid out in the kitchen while chaos reigned.

Best Friends 23

I used my handy spray bottle full of water to wet the paper.

Best Friends 25

Then I began to rub off the wet layers of paper.  I used just my fingers, because I didn’t want to rub too hard on the dogs’ faces and accidentally remove the colour.

Best Friends 26

I ended up wetting it and rubbing it at least three times before I was happy with how much white paper I took off.

Best Friends 27

It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s supposed to be, so it looks good with the vintage cast of the photo.

Best Friends 29

Even the dividing line turned out mostly okay.

Best Friends 30

Because there is a big chunk of empty deck space in the centre of the photo, I wanted to put in Ruby and Cooper’s initials, to make it extra cute.

I freehanded the letters onto some card stock.

Best Friends 32

I then painted the card stock.  With glitter craft paint.  Just to be ridiculous.

Best Friends 34

When those were dry I glued them to the canvas with Mod Podge and left that overnight.

Best Friends 35

I then painted it with two coats of gloss polyurethane to seal it.

Best Friends 36

And added picture hanging hardware, same way I did for the Pie’s present. So shiny …

Best Friends 37

And there it is!

Best Friends 38

Handy Items: Compact Carpet Cleaner

(WARNING: PHOTOS OF DOG VOMIT TO FOLLOW)

When we found out we were moving to an apartment with wall-to-wall carpeting, we knew it was going to present some challenges as pet owners.   Gren has a magical gift for finding all the rugs in the house as he’s about to throw up.

So in preparation for this, I went out and purchased a compact carpet cleaner.  In this case, I did my research, read the reviews, and ended up with a Bissell SpotBot Pet Portable Deep Cleaner.  I left it in its box and shoved it in the basement for the time being.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 3

Then, about a week into living in the house, Gren managed to throw up THREE TIMES in the middle of the night.  Conveniently he threw up next to one pile, so it was easy to find.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 1

Fortunately, I had the machine.  It was easy to unpack and ready to go almost right away.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 4

The filling instructions were super easy to follow.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 5

Remember to remove the solid bits of whatever you’re cleaning up before you use one of these suckers.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 2

Then I just placed it on the spot and hit the set-in stain button and six minutes later it was done!

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 6

It does all the work itself, which is nifty.  It’s about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 7

So of course Gren was not amused.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 9

In the first setting I used the set-in-stain function without the Oxy-clean booster that it recommended, so you can see there’s a bit of orangeness left.  I went over it again with the Oxy-boost and I’ll show you that a bit later.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 8

It even worked out famously on my antique hand-made throw rug.  The bristles are soft enough that they did no damage to its already threadbare surface.  Rugs like this are meant to be lived on hard (they often serve as floors, walls, and roofs in certain groups), so I wasn’t too concerned, but it’s nice to know that I can use this thing everywhere.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 10

I used the sit-and-clean function four times before I ran out of fluid, which was better than I had expected.  That orange goo on the left is the waste water, which was really easy to empty out and clean up after.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 11

Here I used the manual hose with the Oxy-boost stuff.  Again, it was really easy.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 12

The Oxy stuff continues to work for several hours after you’re done (it contains hydrogen peroxide).

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 13

The previous tenants were supposed to have the carpets cleaned before they left but apparently they didn’t.  The spots I cleaned with the SpotBot not only got rid of the mess, but also left an extra clean circle around the old mess.

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 14

I guess that means I’m going to have to borrow Cait’s large carpet cleaner and do the whole house so everything will match again.  The SpotBot did do a nice number on those weird rust spots in the living room though.

Yorkville Condition May 2014 11

Handy Items SpotBot Pet 15

Corgi Fun Time

Porch Corgi

I don’t have a DIY post for you today.  But I think that corgis make every Friday a bit better.

Traveler has been a friend of ours for over a decade.  He went to high school with the Pie, and then I met him when I met Stef back in our first year of university in 2001.  And he’s probably wanted a dog since then.  But with school and work and his jet-setting lifestyle, having a pet wasn’t feasible.  Until now.

Signal Hill

Recently, Traveler began his search for a pet in earnest.  He was looking for an adult dog, so he could skip the puppy stage that would require him to be a helicopter parent.  And, having met Grenadier and fallen in love with him (because no one is immune to Gren’s charm — NO ONE), he wanted a corgi.  I put him in touch with the man who bred Gren, thinking that he might know a retired breeding bitch in need of a home.

It was serendipity, really.  The breeder wrote back that the one girl from Gren’s litter, Bahkita, was available.

The pups at 6 weeks. Bahkita is on the left, Gren is the big lug next to her. Photo by Ben Lobo.

Every dog in that litter had come out with huge ears (you’ve seen Gren’s, right?), and Bahkita’s were a little on the floppy side, so he couldn’t in good conscience breed her knowing her pups might not conform to the champion standard.  And as much as he would have liked to keep her, city by-laws prevented him from having more than three dogs at any given time, so she needed a home.

Surveillance
Gren’s ears at six months.

On the Friday night after I arrived in Ottawa last week, Traveler and I (and Gren) drove out to the breeder’s house for a meet and greet.  In-residence were Patty (Gren and Bahkita’s sire), Bahkita (Gren’s sister), and a three-month-old puppy.  Add Gren to the mix and there was a party in the making.  I apologize in advance for the blurriness of these photos.  It’s hard to take decent shots of animals who will not sit still.

IMAG0306
Ganging up on Gren.

It was shocking to see how large Gren had turned out.  We had always known he’d be big for a corgi, and at his last weigh-in at the vet’s he clocked in at 34.4lb, which is at the extreme high end of the corgi weight scale.  I had thought that Patty, his dad, would be the same size but I was so very wrong.

IMAG0290
This is Patty. He likes to climb people to get kisses.

All the other dogs present were pretty much half his size, with shorter coats and narrower shoulders.  Patty, whom I’d always thought was big, weighs about 26lb.  Bahkita weighs about 22lb.  These are normal ranges for Pembroke corgis.  Turns out I just have a gigantor corgi on my hands.

IMAG0312
Don’t be fooled by the puppy on the ground. She was in control the whole time.

Despite being the biggest in the bunch, Gren’s natural submissiveness meant that he was dominated at every turn, even by the puppy.  It was pretty cute to see him getting beaten up time and time again.  He needs a blow to his ego every once in a while, the spoiled jerk.

IMAG0287
More ganging up on Gren.

After playing like mad with three other dogs for an hour and a half, Gren came home and promptly fell asleep on my brother’s feet.

IMAG0330

And outright refused to get out of bed the next day.

IMAG0332

Traveler ended up taking Bahkita home on Saturday morning, and on Sunday night, after she’d had a chance to settle in and get to know her new family, Traveler brought her over for a short playtime with her big brother.  My pictures here are a little better, because they were both tired and therefore slower.

Bahkita and Friends

Bahkita and Friends
Already very attached to her new dad.

Bahkita and Friends

We look forward to having many more play dates like this in the future.  Stay tuned for Christmas when we will be featuring Corgis in the Snow!

Does your dog eat too fast?

Dog Eat Too Fast?

Gren, being a typical corgi, is a total food hound.  He’s obsessed with those two most important times in the day: breakfast and dinner.  Everything else is small potatoes in his little world.

Chicken and Poutine

When he was very small, before I taught him how to wait, I used to have to physically hold him back until I  had put his food on the floor.  Exhausted with his struggles, he would then eat sitting down.  Lazy bum.

Standing while eating is too hard.

Nowadays, he knows to lie down and wait until we give him the okay to start eating.  But when we do so, he leaps forward and swallows his food in less than thirty seconds.  I’m not sure if you can swallow 3/4 cup of kibble in thirty seconds, but he can.  And we really don’t think it’s very good for him.  I’m afraid he might get indigestion.

Luckily, he’s a pretty small dog, so we don’t need to worry too much about bloat or any of the other more serious medical conditions that can arise from eating too fast; nonetheless, the food we buy him is pretty expensive, so it would be nice if he savoured it a little before shoving it down his gullet.

Gluten-Free Dog Treats

There are solutions you can purchase for this problem.  There are food bowls with built-in obstacles that the dog has to work around to get to his food.  And you can also buy large stainless-steel balls that you can just plop on the food, which the dog then has to negotiate to get to his food.  Both of these options are fine, and they are proven to work.  But why spend the money when you might have the solution lying around your own house?

The Pie is huge into baseball, and has played both hardball and softball over the years, so we have a lot of spare balls lying around.  This softball is synthetic, so won’t degrade through exposure to doggy saliva.  It’s also too large for Gren to pick up in his mouth and remove from his bowl.  So he has to work around it, bringing his eating time up from 30 seconds to around 2-3 minutes, a marked improvement.  We just plop it on top of the kibble after we’ve measured it into the bowl.  It works great and it was free, whereas that stainless steel ball was $18 at PetSmart.

Dog Eat Too Fast?

Don’t have a ball?  Maybe try a can of corn or beans, or, in larger food bowls, several smaller cans, say, for tomato paste, all stuck in together.  Whatever works for you.

Dog Eat Too Fast?

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

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!