Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beautiful Sunny Morning

Despite the sun being a little to bright and direct for great pictures, I got some good ones of my gang hanging out this morning in the sun.

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Pallo has to be busy, because he is Pallo, despite everyone else just relaxing in the sun after breakfast.
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Martha took the coveted cat perch on the windowsill, and I do believe she was gloating about it.
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Pallo and his weasel, again. Silly busy boy.
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Sassy was jealous of Koira taking up the whole chair.
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And Pallo laid there, squeezing his weasel and distorting his nose so long I got about five pictures of it.
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I think they are content.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ball and frisbee

I've been playing a game with my dogs for a while, which I sort of refer to in my head as the Ball and Frisbee game. It needs two dogs, and specifically, it probably needs my two dogs, or dogs with similar motivation.

The way we play is this:

I take out the Chuck-It (for small balls) and the frisbee (small Ruffwear soft frisbee). I start out with Variation One. I throw the ball with the thrower as far as I can get it across the field, and both dogs take off after it. Pallo gets the ball, and Koira comes pelting back to me. I throw the frisbee for Koira on her way back while Pallo comes all the way back to me and delivers the ball to my feet. Koira arrives with the frisbee, drops it in anticipation of the next ball throw, and away they go again.

After a while, we normally switch to Variation Two. Koira gets sick of playing ball, and just wants the frisbee, so I will throw the frisbee for her, immediately followed by throwing the ball for Pallo. Koira brings back the frisbee, and I throw it again, generally getting two frisbee throws for one ball throw, as Pallo brings the ball back rather slowly during this game.

The game has a couple benefits, the basic being getting out for some running time. Koira has gotten way better at catching the frisbee since we started playing this, and now catches it more often than not, even if my throw isn't stellar. We might even have a chance during our normal summer frisbee competitions (which we previously have always lost spectacularly at). Pallo pretty much works on endurance in the form of quick bursts of speed.

I am also using the game to transfer into flyball. A while back I wrote about Koira not seeming to like flyball, and that I was thinking of pulling her out of the game. Well, I no longer think that will be happening. In fact, at our last practice, the instructor commented that we should put Koira into a full line up soon. I don't think she is quite ready for that, but it shows exactly how far we have come.

The difference is in the motivation factor, which is where the game comes in. We pulled out all of the jumps except 4 (closest to the box). I send Koira over the jump to the box where her racquetball is loaded. She hits the box, grabs the ball, and comes back over the jump, where I then throw her frisbee for her back into the empty space where there should be jumps. After about 7 repetitions, Koira started to push to the box more, in anticipation of getting her frisbee when she came back to me, just like when we play our Ball and Frisbee game at home.

Sure, her turn isn't the prettiest. But it is much better than it was, better than a lot of dogs, and unlikely to get any better without improving her enjoyment of the sport first at least. And sure, she bobbles the ball quite a bit still, or spits it out while jumping. But really, I don't care, because my dog is pushing out for the ball, and returning with speed and enthusiasm. We have built up to all four jumps, but only did one repetition with all four before I went back down to two jumps again, as I don't want to push her to hard, and she hesitated a smidge at doing all four jumps.

Long in short, I am proud of the progress my girl is making. Even if she is now chubby and needing to lose some weight. Gar.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fat dogs

Koira, it appears, is getting fat.

I'm not sure if it is the raw feeding being super efficient for her, or if I should be looking for some kind of underlying hormone issue.

This is the dog who used to eat 6+ cups of food per day without gaining an ounce. She has always been hard to keep weight on. I'm used to her having the outline of her ribs visible when sun shines off her coat, seeing the definition of her muscles, and know she is just a little power house of 40lbs of pure muscle.

Not so much anymore. Not that she would be fat by most people's definitions. Her last 2-3 ribs are still visible, and the other ribs can be felt if I poke at her a bit. But she looks well rounded in a way I don't like to see on my dog. She has a chubby butt instead of well-defined thighs.

Bah. Guess its diet time for her. Maybe turning 3 last month is the same as a college freshman gaining 15 pounds.

Silly fatso.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Height dog or speed dog?

The flyball tournament was awesome. Both days were sunny and warm (a little too warm, actually, at 80 both days), the grass we were running on was dry by 9 for racing to start, and the host club did a great job keeping things going.

Now, most people look at the pictures after a tournament and have some amazingly compelling photos of a solid dog, elegantly, quickly, working. What I get is something else entirely.

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I'm not sure if Pallo is funny looking on purpose, or if it is just a happy side effect of being a silly dog. He sure does do good at it though.

You may not be able to tell from the pictures, as my dog doesn't exactly look fast and powerful, but Pallo man beat out his previous best time.

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In fact, he is well on his way to being a speed dog for our team, as well as a height dog. This makes for his fifth tournament, and every time his speed has increased. This weekend, this amazing, funny looking, silly dog, ran a 5.0 on grass in 80 degree weather after a full day and a half of running every heat of our 5 races, 5 heats each, per day.

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I'm very proud of my boy.

I think, with our next tournament on mats and indoors, his time may improve even more. I hope it does anyway. The huge party I plan on throwing when we break below 5 seconds is on the edge of my mind. I keep telling myself 5 is an awesome time of a 9 inch height dog, but the lure of having a dog run in the 4 second range (even the top end of it) is there for sure.

Pallo did have a lot of lag time on the box, even with his amazing speeds.

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I wonder if the box wasn't firing fast enough for him. His turns are very snappy and fast, and if the ball came out even faster, I'm sure his turns would be even better.

As it is though, my dog is pretty damn amazing. I am so proud of him, and can't wait for our next tournament.

One last look at his eternal elegance:

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Big detour in fact. But a very, very beautiful one. Instead of taking I-5 down to LA, we ended up taking Hwy 1 most of the way. The day was just so amazingly sunny and warm that wasting it all day on the freeway seemed just plain stupid.

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The coast line was amazing, way different from Oregon, and yet nothing like the coast down here in Santa Monica. It was all windy roads, steep cliffs, and big hills.

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We even got to see baby sea lions on the beach.

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Pallo so wanted to go investigate, but he stayed on a nice short leash the whole time to stay out of trouble. This big guy would've ripped Pallo up if he'd've come down there.

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Of course, the detour added about 3 or 4 hours onto an already long drive, but it was totally worth it. You know, minus the speeding ticket I got anyway.

Pallo is now occupied with finding all the tennis balls that are lost various places around my friend's house we are staying at, and in trying to catch the fish in the pond. Silly, annoying dog.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Road Trip!

Well, me and Pallo are well on our way to LA for our vacation/flyball tournament. Koira had to stay home, but since she has some anxiety with the car, that is probably for the best.

Today started out with a light dusting of snow, but when we hit the coast the day turned sunny and bright, getting warmer and sunnier the farther south we traveled.

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We stopped to see the carnivorous plants at Darlingtonia Botanical Preserve, which was pretty neat, but would be much better in the spring when they are blooming. The observation deck was icy too, so we slid our feet over it instead of walking, and Pallo was pulling me along, using his toe nails to dig in to the ice.

We stopped to take some pictures of a nifty gold bear statue. Pallo was terrified of the thing at first, barking, hackles up, and everything. He got close because I asked him to, but peed a bit from fear. Treats talked him into posing with it though.

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And, of course, we had to stop and see the redwoods.

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It was getting dark by the time we got there though, so we didn't get to spend much time exploring. We did stop by a "drive thru" tree and did the drive through of it, and did the drive-on tree, and then played in the giant bird houses. The houses are about perfect size for Pallo, but the steps were a bit too steep and slick for him to get up on his own.

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Thats our trip so far. Pallo is passed out now on my feet in the hotel room, ignoring his chicken thigh dinner, as per normal for traveling (he never likes eating away from home unless Koira is along).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Food Post: Honey Sesame Chicken

Well, I've been putting so much effort into my dogs' food for the past week, I decided it was time to cook a good meal for myself.

Chicken thighs were pulled out of the freezer yesterday, so I decided to take a few of those, pan fry them, then finish them off in the over. It is something I love about cooking with cast iron pans, that they work equally well on stove top and in the oven. And, for the matter, on the wood stove, bbq, or over an open fire.

A Asian twist to dinner sounded good, so I started by toasting up some sesame seeds in the pan.
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After they were golden brown and starting to pop, I poured them out into a small bowl for later. Into the hot pan went some oil and the four chicken thighs. I let them sear a little on each side, then added Hot Chili Sesame Oil to them, let them cook a little more, then poured honey over the top, sprinkled them with toasted sesame seeds, and into the oven the whole pan went.

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I pulled it out 40 minutes later and served it with a quick salad of chopped cabbage, grated carrots, and a salad dressing of rice vinegar, brown sugar, and milk.

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Overall very satisfying meal. Unlike a good number of recipes I come up with on the spot, this one is a definite repeat, though next time I might put some hot oil and honey under the skins of the thighs as well so the flavor gets deeper into the meat.

After One Week

One week down on the rawfeeding adventure. Pallo is doing great with it, loving the meals, happily eating most anything I give him. The only rejection so far was for an egg in the shell. He slurped the eggy bits out and left the shell for Koira to steal. Koira on the other hand obviously enjoys crunching up egg shells.

I did end up starting Koira on raw two days into Pallo eating it, as she seemed very interested in what Pallo was getting. To my surprise, she took to it right away, eating her chicken portion with enthusiasm. I did have to add a little probiotics to her food after the first day, but that seemed to get rid of the minor runs she had, along with upping the bone content in the next meal.

Pallo with his iron stomach has already had some liver added (half a chicken liver) and a chicken heart. He handled them like a champ.

I think its just the human condition, but I feel like I am not feeding my dogs enough, even though they are getting well within guidelines amounts. At 30lbs and 40lbs, Pallo should be getting .6-.9 lbs and Koira should be getting .8-1.2 lbs. And it just doesn't seem like a lot of food when I dish it out twice a day. So far they are maintaining weight and energy level though, so that is what I need to focus on, not their pleading eyes when they finish each meal.

Speaking of pleading eyes, how about a Basset's eyes?
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Lola the Basset was here for a couple days, and very very sad with her sad sad eyes about not getting some good old fashioned meat. Her kibble, apparently, did not compare. I even had to rescue Koira's chicken leg from Lola at one point (after which everyone got fed in their kennels instead).
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

And a Happy New Year

Or anyway, its a happy new year for those without dogs that shiver and shake at the sound of fireworks. Koira spent the night curled up under the covers with me, trembling despite the TV noise. Pallo could've cared less as it turns out.

Well, recap of 2010.
January saw the first flyball tournament I've ever been to. Koira competed, running with our old team. I realized how seriously in over our heads we were, and while I had fun, we had a long way to go to get into more tournaments. I also decided that Koira's turn was the wrong direction, and began retraining her to the left.

I saw this pathetic picture of a corgi mix for adoption at the local pound in February.
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Somehow I ended up in there, taking home a new dog, that very same Monday. Birthday present for myself.

Pallo has since began flyball training, competed in his first tournament where he ran completely clean all day. He fast became my reliable flyball dog, and now loves the sport so much its hard to see him a year ago, when he was just a scared, worm infested, ball crazy dog who worshiped at my feet from the moment I brought him home. He was trustworthy off leash at the unfenced dog park within a week (after the worms were cleared anyway). He even let this silly Aussie beat him up as much as she liked.
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Pallo brought me lots of laughs, like the way he does a weasel dance when playing, just like a ferret does. And the way he gets scared of random things, bobs and weaves at them, then hits the ground and backs away as fast as possible.
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Koira became obsessed with the water this year.
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She started running the rapids with me whenever we went to the river, and enjoys swimming, facing upstream, at the bottom of a strong current in the middle of the river. She even started yelling at me if I was taking too long to get in the water with her.
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Really the most memorable part of the year is how Pallo has come in and become part of the family with me and Koira and the kitty Martha. Its hard to believe its been less than a year since I saw his pathetic face on the county website. He is Koira's best friend, my best flyball dog, and has become a second heart dog for me.
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We are looking forward to the next year of our lives, to see where it takes us, and what happiness we can find there.

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