Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas -- A Few Pics

Okay. So I go outside this morning to capture the canine crew on video with my new, handy-dandy, 60 GB, Canon HD Vixia HG20 (whatever that is). It's supposed to be a point-and-shoot digital camcorder -- you know, the idiot-proof kind.

So I get all these really cool interactions: tug-o-war between Rudy and Elsie and Pinot; Kenya doing her infamous butt-wiggle-tail-wag (which I can never quite capture in a still shot); Bear getting a belly rub from DH; Rudy prancing after he commandeered the rope from the girls; Baxter being his lumbering, gentle-giant self; Ridge feeling feisty again (hehe... poor boy); Pinot nudging me for attention; Kenya climbing up on the picnic table to show Daddy Don her bone (she's just so special! - hehe).

You get the idea: all kinds of really cool clips.

So I go inside to play the clips back (sunlight is incredibly bright and brutal in the morning here in winter so I couldn't see the screen well outside), and do you know what I captured on the camera? The rug. The family room rug. For about four seconds.

That's it.

Apparently I was pushing the wrong button the whole time I thought I was recording.

Idiot-proof, eh? Well I must be an idiot (hehe - or technology challenged).

So here are some pictures from Christmas morning (Sarah giving Elsie some attention and Baxter enjoying a bone -- all the canine kids get yummy bones for Christmas day).

So now, I guess I have to go read the camcorder manual.

What's another learning curve, eh?

'Til next time,
Joan (who will try again later today with taking videos)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Checking-In (So You Don't Worry)

I hope you all had a wonderful, restful, fun, restoring Christmas! And thank you for your Christmas greetings to us. :o) Our Christmas was less-than-restful, so I haven't posted in the past few days. Here's why:

1. We had trouble with our Internet connection after all the ice storms last weekend and early in the week. Freezing rain wrecks havoc with our above-ground cable lines and connections. Hopefully that's behind us (I'm on-line today again, finally).

2. All the human kids were in for Christmas (including Sarah and Chris from ME, who brought the Baxter Boos with them). Yay! It's fun to be with and spend time with everyone (and that means less time on the computer).

3. Christmas Eve (early evening) my 85 yo mother slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke her femur (thigh bone) right next to where it attaches to the hip. It was a complete, displaced fracture which required surgery Christmas day to insert a rod and pins, but all went well with the surgery and she is expected to make a full recovery. My DTS and I have been covering bases -- visiting her, double-checking on her care, contacting family members, navigating with the doctors, etc. DH has been covering the pups/canine duty on his own while I've been doing family stuff. It's been a bit crazy.

4. While I was at the hospital Christmas-Day-evening sitting with Mom after her surgery, Ridge (our fox-red 7.5 yo yellow male Lab and sire) started running a fever (104+), stopped eating and drinking, and could barely walk. Poor boy; he was obviously in distress. So we got him to the vet's office first thing Friday morning (the day after Christmas). After the vet examined him, lo and behold, we discovered Ridge was dehydrated (from not drinking) and had pretty significant muscle/soft tissue swelling and inflammation in his lower abdominal region (uhmmm... how do I say this in a family-friendly way?... uhmmmm.... Ridge hurt his wee-wee? ... uhmmmm, he sprained his manhood?.... ahhhh... he injured his private part?.... ahh... you get the idea). How in the world did that happen? For the first time ever, we allowed Ridge to mate with a female who did not belong to us (after carefully screening her and her owner and making sure she had her healthy certs in order). He did so successfully last Sunday and Monday, and then was absolutely fine until Thursday afternoon (Christmas day) when he started symptoming. Go figure. But after several hours at the the vet hospital with an IV drip (to restore his fluids), pain meds, and decent doses of Rimadyl (an anti-inflammatory, which we're still giving him), Ridge is good as new. :o) We won't, however, sire him out again.

And so it goes.

At least you can't say it's boring at our house!

Elsie, Pinot, and Kenya visited the vet Friday, too, for their annual exams and vaccines. Elsie weighed in at 85 pounds, Kenya at 76, and Pinot at 70 pounds. All are doing well.

The little boys, visited the vet Friday as well (yes, we made three trips to the vet the day after Christmas: morning, early afternoon, and evening). Rudy is doing fabulously, and there's no evidence of any residual joint pain or discomfort from his recent infection. He has full range of motion in all limbs and doesn't mind in the least the vet pushing and prodding and stretching his joints. It's all good. Rudy weighs 27 pounds now, and Bear, who is also doing fabulously, weighs 31. They're fourteen weeks old now, and have completed all their routine puppy checks and vaccines except for a Lyme booster in three weeks.

Rudy and Bear are both still with us for now (we've gotten some promising inquiries about Bear this week and will keep you posted there). Both are completely crate trained, and both are (for the most part) getting the idea of housebreaking (yay!)

Oh, and (hehe...I'm so excited) DH got me a digital camcorder for Christmas! You know what that means? I can finally take decent video clips of the canine gang (instead of the awful, out-of-focus, dark clips my point-and-shoot camera takes). Yay!

Now I just have to learn how to use it ( in my spare time).

That's it from here. I just wanted to update you while I had a moment. We're okay and hanging in there. :o)

'Til next time,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pinot and the Pups

Regular Reader knows that Pinot, our fox-red, 16-month-old yellow Lab female (above), is a full-fledged sibling to Bear and Rudy, the little squirts we have here from Elsie's September litter. Eleven months older than the little guys, she's their big sister (Ridge and Elsie are their parents one and all)

I sometimes wonder if they know it. ;o) They sure act like sibs -- pesky little brothers and the exasperated older sister (who is an imp in her own right).

Take Pinot's propensity to snitch the boys' toys out of their pens:

She has so much fun playing with their stuff (hehe), I suspect she can't resist (here's she's even tossing one of their ropes up in the air and catching it for herself!)

But she doesn't get away with it for long. Here they come (I can just hear her groan):

The little guys two-time her. They bite her ears:

They sit on her back:

They climb all over her:

She does, however, protest with mock intensity, as all good sisters do:

And as brothers do, too, they come back for more:

They even braved the ice to chase her in the yard (this ice has be terrible for all the dogs -- so much so that we won't let them retrieve out of fear for pulled muscles or sliding falls):

And if all else fails, they'll "share" (as in chew with her on whatever she has in her mouth):

And that's something even Pinot is willing to do:

Ahhhhhhhh... life with siblings. Hehe.... reminds me a bit of my own growing up years, only DTS and I were the pesky little sisters to our love-to-tease big brothers.

Turn about is fair play, I guess (sorry, Pinot).

'Til next time,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Tuc the Tease

What an imp.

A sweet imp.

But an imp nonetheless..

Yup, you guessed... I'm talking about the little Tucmeister who is no longer little (he's over 70 pounds now).

And he loves to play, play, and play, especially with the girls (Pinot and Kenya), and now... Rudy and Mr. Red (who we're beginning to call "Bear" just because he looks and acts so much like a baby Kodiak bear, and because the alternative, "Kodi" (short for Kodiak) sounds too much like "Rudy").

We've been allowing Rudy and Bear to play a lot more with our gang now that it looks like they'll both be with us for the foreseeable future (we've had nibbles about Bear, but nothing serious). And they both love Tuc. He's quite fun as far as they're concerned.

But he's a tease. It's never enough that he has possession of a toy or bone; oh no. He has to show off said possession. Kinda like, "nya, nya, nya-nya, nya, I got the bo-own and you-oo-oo-oo-oo doh-on't."

Oh, and did I tell you that this all occurs indoors???? Of course it can't occur outside; it has to be inside. In the family room. Running circles around the coffee table and bounding onto and off of the sofa.

Take a look:

That's Bear on the left above, Rudy in the middle, and Tuc above with the bone in his mouth.

Here he is again, doing the same thing five minutes later (Bear and Rudy have swapped positions):

Ah, but then Rudy,... smart little imp that he is, figured out how to climb up on the couch (something Bear has yet to do). But this is the same Rudy who jumps up on the coffee table, too, so it's not surprising that he'd follow Tuc up on the couch (he's a pretty agile little fellow).

Bear usually tires of the game more quickly -- he seems to get bored with it. So he'll plop down somewhere and find something else to do (Who me? Chew on the rocker leg? No not me, never!):

Rudy will get momentarily distracted (Oh boy, Dad's slippers smell really good! Oh and is that the remote control in that slipper... that's even better... oh, but wait, Tuc has that bone...)...

Then he's right back at it:

And if both pups decide to do something else (they get tired of never getting the bone), Tuc will drop the bone on their little heads:

Then he'll take it back again and tease them some more:

And if they give up and don't want to play "keep away" anymore, Tuc takes the bone to them:

(Those are Tuc's teeth around the bone in the picture above.)

And if taking the bone to them doesn't work, Tuc joins in the pups' wrassling (incredibly gently, however). In the picture below, that's Bear on his back, Rudy doing the choke hold (or "kill" pin as they call it) on top of Bear, and Tuc... well... Tuc doing the classic canine sniff:

Such sweet little and not-so-little pups. Yes, Tuc is still a puppy (he's only four months older than the little squirts). He's a big impish puppy, and they're small impish puppies, but they're all puppies just the same.

And we can expect them to be no less.

Oh, and in case you're wondering... yes, it's nuts. It's absolutely, unequivocally, completely nuts.

But I still wouldn't have it any other way.

'Til next time,

(who still doesn't have one Christmas decoration up yet... that's how crazy it's been).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Comments Q & A (Long and Informational)

I know... I know.... I haven't gotten to replying to your comments again (something I normally enjoy doing). But between holidays and family coming in and having seven dogs (our five plus the two pups) on site, and crate training, housebreaking, and obedience training the pupsters... well, there are only so many hours in a day.

And this IS my hibernation season, too, after all (SAD makes me want to sleep my life away -- but I don't -- meds and lightboxes help).


In any case, I am finally getting to more of your comments/questions (you've even suggested I answer some of these here for everyone's benefit). Anyway, here goes:

1. How did we get Parvo here when we're so careful? From what I've read and from what our vet tells us, you can pick up Parvo just about anywhere (the pet store, public parks, walking trails, sidewalks, etc.). It can be transferred from yard to yard by utility company meter-readers or postal workers. It can come in on car tires and delivery vehicles' tires. And it often comes in on people's shoes. Apparently, any kennel or breeder or facility with more than a dog or two, no matter how sanitary, is bound to get Parvo sometime (it just happens -- we just ended up getting it sooner than later). Our vet is still landing that he thinks it probably came in on visitors' shoes when we started allowing puppy visitations (since it's never been an issue here before, and we've had dogs here for nearly 15 years). Though we were careful about hand-washing and sanitation, it never occurred to me to have people step in a pan of bleach-water before coming into the backyard (when the pups were younger than six weeks old, all people entering our house had to take off their shoes). Lesson learned. We'll do that next time.

2. Why did the pups get Parvo if they'd already had their first vaccine? Again... another lesson learned. Apparently, the immunities the pups receive from their mother's collustrum actually interferes with the effectiveness of the first vaccine (something we didn't know before). Studies indicate that only about 25% of pups show resistance to Parvo after the first vaccination at 6 weeks. In fact, most researchers are saying now that full effectiveness of the vaccine doesn't occur until well after the third shot (usually given at 14 weeks of age), so pups are vulnerable to contracting the disease until that time. The recommendation now is to limit a pup's exposure to unknown or unvaccinated dogs (or to places traveled by unknown or unvaccinated dogs) until the pup is over 20 weeks old. Most people don't know to protect their pups that way (we didn't either, but we do now and have made that recommendation to our buyers).

3. What was wrong with Rudy? We (and our vets) think Rudy contracted a bacterial infection of some kind 12 days after he went to live with his new family. He first presented to their vet with GI symptoms and possible bowel obstruction. He also had two ear infections, the start of pneumonia, a high fever, and joint inflammation in all four legs. Their vets suggested Rudy had an inflammatory bone disease (HOD) as a preliminary diagnosis (a very scary diagnosis implicating lifelong pain for the pup), but all indications since and now are suggesting that that their vets' working diagnosis was incorrect. Several of the vets at our practice have carefully studied Rudy's x-rays and none think Rudy has what their vets suggested (his x-rays just don't look like classic HOD x-rays). The way he has recovered also indicates that it is not HOD, but rather a treatable infection. Our vets are concluding that his bacterial infection went systemic which would better explain the multi-system issues -- GI, respiratory, skeletal, ears. Where the bacterial infection came from we're not sure (he could have aspirated on his own vomit or picked up something in his environment; we'll never know for sure). All that is to say, he had a serious infection (separate from and unrelated to his Parvo experience, and not HOD) that responded very well to antibiotics and anti-inflamatories, he's doing fabulously now (acting, running, playing like normal), and his prognosis is excellent. He should lead a full, uncompromised life.

4. How many pictures do I take? I take literally hundreds of pictures a week. And for every hundred pictures I take (or so), I get about ten good shots. Yes... you read that correctly ... about ten. Ninety percent of the pictures I take are boring or blurred or out of range or have the wrong lighting or the dogs have looked away or their eyes glowed-- you get the idea. DH got me a wonderful camera last year for Christmas (a 35 mm digital SLR), and that has helped considerably (my point-and-shoot pocket camera blurred more often than it took decent action shots -- but it takes all my movies for me, so I can't complain). And investing in a good telephoto lens and the right filters for the SLR has helped, too. Sometimes I just click away hoping to get something, and sometimes I do (the more I click, the greater the odds that I'll get something).

5. What do I do with all the unused photos? After I take a batch of photos, I transfer them from my camera to my computer (either the laptop or desktop -- doesn't matter) where I look at them and edit them (I do crop a lot of the photos you see to center them or to improve their balance or to help them be more visible). I often dump them onto to a back-up external drive so they don't take up too much room on my harddrives. Long term, I keep only the ones I like, and delete the rest (I could never do this with film... it would be way too expensive -- isn't digital wonderful!).

6. Will we breed again? We're still thinking it through. I'm still a little discouraged about the whole thing -- emotionally and financially (we took a sizeable hit on this litter: though we don't do this for the income, we can't afford to take huge losses each time). Reading about Joe Biden's German Shepherd puppy purchase hasn't helped -- again, I can't help but wonder why less-than-careful-breeders prosper. The plan for now anyway is to NOT breed Kenya this spring because of any possibility of lingering Parvo contamination (it lives in the environment for 6-8 months). She's in heat now, and we will not breed her this time, so her next heat should be in June, which means the earliest we'd have puppies again wouldn't be until at least August (if Kenya's cycle is on time) -- a full nine months after we disinfected for Parvo. Despite how I'm feeling right now, we would like to breed Kenya once to Ridge (we already have a notify list of about fifteen people interested in pups from that litter) and once to Tuc (in another two years). And then we might be done. We'll retire Ridge (and have him neutered) after his mating with Kenya.

One of the biggest issues for me personnally is how my life gets put on hold with puppies. I don't mind most of the time: I love investing in the pups and preparing them to enrich the lives of their future humans. And I think we do a good job (at least I hope we do). We DO have bills to pay, though, and I can't work outside the home as long as we have puppies to nurture and raise. My work as a freelance writer has been the ideal situation for me in past, especially between caring for puppies and needing to drive my 24 yo son (who is disabled and doesn't drive) to his work and appointments and such (I can't hold a 9-5 job anywhere anyway because of my need to be available for him). But I haven't been writing for income as much as I should this year (haven't been able to because of the puppy crises of the fall and family crises of the past year).

So that's where we stand. It's kind of unknown right now.

In any case, we'll take it a day at time -- as we should anyway, and we'll try not to "borrow trouble" as my mother calls it (as in worrying about a future we can't predict).

And that's enough for now. The sun is shining, and we just had our third ice storm in five days, so it's really glistening out there right now (great for taking pictures -- my fun hobby). It's hard on the dogs (slip-sliding away is NOT good for Labs), but it certainly is beautiful.

Time to take some photos!

'Til next time,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Experiences - A Pup Perspective

Ohboyohboyohboyohboy! We got to do some new stuff this weekend. Ohboyohboyohboyohboy!

First, we got to smell Dad after he got back from something called "huntin" (he smelled really good -- like mud and woods and grass and water and other critters and skeet Dad, only better).

Momma Elsie sniffed him with us. That made it even more fun (and not scary at all).

We were so excited we forgot we're not supposed to jump up on people. But it was just so hard to resist -- 'cuz even his butt smelled interesting!

We were so interested we even hung out sniffin' after Momma Elsie was done. In case ya don't know, that's pretty long focus for pups like us.

Then we learned that we can even find ice outside (instead of just from that big noisy white box in the kitchen that growls before it gives us ice cubes). It covered everything -- you shoulda seen it. And we must've grown a whole bunch 'cuz we could reach the tree limbs now and chew the ice off 'em (well, maybe the weight of the ice on the limbs had somethin' to do with it):

Then Momma Elsie showed us how we can break the crunchy ice up on the hammocks and eat it -- yum, yum:

Sometimes she shared with us.

Then we figured it out on our own. Once I tried it (me, Rudy), it felt sooooooo cool going down the ol' gullet (yes, that's me swallowing below, not barking) ...

...that it made me feel like dancing!

Well, we better get back to playin' -- we're having entirely too much fun in this shiny, slippery, glimmering new world. Momma Joan says it comes from freezing rain, whatever that is.

All we know is it's pretty...

and it's fun. That's all from us for now.


The Pups