Wordless Wednesday – Big Foot

Big Foot Paw

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A New Project – Canine Good Citizen

We have enjoyed our special 35th anniversary travel season so much, both our RV and non-RV trips, but our adventures have mostly come to an end for now.  Hubby inherited responsibility over a second department at work a couple of months ago, and we need to spend more time at home to give him the time he needs to get some things done at work for a while.  Such is real life, but good things are happening there, too.  We have more travel plans coming up in the RV later on this year, but we will most likely just revisit some places we have enjoyed in the past.

For this reason, I have had more time alone lately, so I made a decision a few weeks ago to finally get Red into puppy school before he turned a year-old.  I originally planned to schedule these classes in the early spring, but that plan did not work for several reasons.  On Wednesday, Red will (hopefully) graduate from beginner classes and will start intermediate classes two weeks later.  If we stay on schedule, he should be ready for advanced classes in early December, and by the end of January, he should finally be done with regular obedience classes.  I am also planning to take Girly Girl for her advanced classes that we never took three years ago, and I am still looking into the timing of those classes for her some time this fall or in early winter.

IMG_6045
Our sweet dogs after their first trip to the new groomer

With the successful completion of beginner, intermediate and advanced classes for both dogs, they should be able to test for their Canine Good Citizen certificates with the AKC early next year.  Obtaining this certification, which is open to all dogs, opens doors to participate in other programs, such as therapy dog programs.  Participating in service programs with one or both of my dogs is something that I would truly enjoy, if the dogs ever achieve that level of obedience.

I believe that most (but certainly not all) people love spending time with a good, well-behaved dog, and both dogs have done so well with the obedience training they has already completed.  I have envisioned visiting schools to let the dogs sit with kids while the kids read, visiting hospitals to let the dogs bring smiles and comfort to sick persons and children, and visiting elder care facilities to let the dogs bring joy to residents.  For the past couple of years, Girly Girl has brought smiles and laughter to residents of the community where my mother lives, and I love taking her there to share in part of that joy.  Many of those residents had dogs in their own homes and miss them, so having regular visits with a good dog can be such a beneficial thing for everyone.

I love this recent quote by Cesar Millan.

I would also like to say that dogs and the elderly are such a great combination, too.  Just ask my 93 year-young mom and her friends.

Standard poodles always seem to garner attention from others in just about any setting, probably because of their outgoing personality, their intelligence and the pretty grooming that they receive.  Our dogs have been singled out by reporters on more than one occasion when we have taken our dogs to public events, and Big Ol’ Baby, who we lost a year ago tomorrow, was on the news and in the newspaper several times.  He was such a beautiful, loving dog, even in his old age.

Big Ol' Baby
My favorite picture of Big Ol’ Baby

I will always regret that Big Ol’ Baby never became a therapy dog because he would have done a great job.  All of our standard poodles have pretty much lived to have someone love on them, play with them and exercise them, and they are always willing to return the love.  I am excited to hopefully share this wonderful breed and our sweet dogs’ personalities in a more meaningful way with others soon, and perhaps someday when I am old and all alone, someone will bring a sweet dog to visit me, too.

Even if we are never able to participate in these programs, though, completing advanced obedience courses and earning the Canine Good Citizen certification will be something that I have never done with any of our dogs and will be a great accomplishment for both dogs.  It will also be something I will be proud to have done personally, too, since much of the training is about “training the owner.”  Having well-behaved dogs is also a necessity when we take them camping in the RV, and we always enjoy taking our dogs on walks and letting them visit with other campers who are usually quite interested to meet them and learn more about them.  Girly Girl is pretty much already there, but Red is still quite the puppy with a mind of his own, for sure.  I’m beginning to think there really is some truth to the idea of mischievous red-headed kids and red-headed dogs!  🙂

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My typical blurry picture of Red these days, as he seldom sits still.

Links on Canine Good Citizen from the American Kennel Club

This is going to be a very busy week for me, as I finally have my first colonoscopy scheduled for this afternoon.  The roofers will hopefully be able to install our new roof and our new solar attic fan on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and Wednesday night is puppy school test and graduation.  I am grateful that the colonoscopy prep has not been bad at all, and I am also grateful that the pups and I can retreat to the motor home while the roofers are here, too.  There are a couple of little projects that I would like to work on in the RV anyway, so this will be a good opportunity to hopefully get those done this week.

Also, for my regular readers, you may notice that I have opted to begin moderating all comments going forward.  I did not realize that feature was an option on my site or I would have selected it from the beginning.  One RV-related post of mine is going a bit viral right now after being featured on Buzzfeed, and my visitor count has increased pretty dramatically in recent days.  I would prefer to keep a better grip on what others share on my site, at least for now, and I truly appreciate each and every one of you that visits regularly and comments here to hopefully make this a friendly place for all.

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The Dog Food Dilemma

We have had another issue to deal with at home while I’ve also been helping to care of my mom and her needs after her bad fall a few weeks ago.  And while it may sound like a minor thing, it has actually been a pretty major issue during this same time period.  We have had a dog food problem for the first time ever in our twenty-plus years as dog owners.

I will try to put this as delicately as possible on this fine Monday morning.

Little Red's Food Bowl
Little Red’s Food Bowl

Little Red was only fed premium Taste of the Wild grain-free food at the breeder’s home.  She has bred standard poodles for thirty years and swears by the grain-free food.  This was a new piece of information for us, but we were interested in pursuing it further, as it may help to prevent allergies and ear infections.

Our vet wants Little Red on a large breed puppy formula dog food for his first couple of years, and since we have used the same brand of premium food with all of our dogs over the years, we agreed to gradually switch him over to it and off of the grain-free food while he is a puppy.  Girly Girl has only ever eaten the premium dog food that also has grain in it, formulated for large breed dogs.  She is now two and has transitioned from puppy food to the regular dog food in that brand.

In the first week after my mom’s fall, we began to transition Little Red over to the premium large breed puppy food.  That was a *huge* mistake.

Within three days, he had ear infections in both ears, diarrhea and was scratching almost constantly.  I was up with him through the night for three nights, all during the week right after my mom fell and was experiencing her panic attacks for several days.  When I previously shared that it was the worst week of my life, I really wasn’t kidding.  Between the two of them, I got very little sleep for four days, and I even had to deal with a difficult out-of-town relative as well.

We took Little Red back to the vet on Saturday morning, and the vet confirmed the ear infections.  The vet, hubby and I all agreed that he needed to go back to his regular grain-free food until we could find a grain-free, large breed puppy food.  The vet gave us medication for his ears, medication for the diarrhea and a powder to add to his food for a few days to help him to hopefully return to normal a little faster.  Within a couple of days, he was doing much better.

Last week, we finally found a grain-free, large breed puppy food from Blue Buffalo.  Since my mom has finally settled down and is doing much better, I decided to go ahead and transition Little Red from the other food to this one because he is growing like a weed right now, having more than doubled his weight since we got him.  So far, the transition has gone very well, and he has had no issues.

However, I soon figured out that Girly Girl decided that his latest puppy food was quite tasty, too, and she started sneaking some of it from his bowl when no one was looking.

Not. Good.

On Saturday, Girly Girl got diarrhea very, very bad, and it didn’t take long for us to “put two and two together” as to why she was now having issues.  Even though she didn’t each much of this latest puppy food, it was enough to make her sick.  The vet told us to just give her the same pills that we had previously given Little Red and to make sure that she didn’t eat any more of his food.  Giving her the pills was easy, but keeping her out of Little Red’s food was not, as she had been sneaking some of the regular grain-free food without issue on a few occasions right after we got him.  We even used some of the first grain-free food as treats for her, too.

As of today, she is also doing much better, and I will check back with the vet tomorrow morning when Little Red goes for his next round of shots to see if she has any other words of wisdom about all of this dilemma with the dog foods.  Hopefully in a couple of years when Little Red is ready to transition away from this puppy formula, we can switch both of them to the same grain-free food, as I really am pretty much sold on it now for adult dogs.  I’ve had several friends swear by it to prevent ear infections in dogs, including one friend that said making this switch was the only thing that would prevent both of her dogs from battling constant ear infections.

It was interesting for us to learn from the breeder that her standard poodles have typically been “nibblers” like our dogs, and that they are often social eaters, sometimes preferring to eat when their humans eat.  Some dogs tend to eat an entire bowl of food all at once, but so far, that has not been our experience with any of our poodles.  Ours have always had food out during the day, and they just tend to graze on it when they are hungry, especially during our own mealtimes.  We never really had an issue with Big Ol’ Baby eating Girly Girly’s puppy food either.  Free feeding is obviously not going to work for us now, though, at least while our dogs are eating different foods for the next couple of years.

I am now babysitting both dogs to only eat their own food out of their own bowl.  I literally pull up a chair and sit with them while they eat now, and when they are done, the bowls are placed on the kitchen cabinet if there is any food left in them.  I will gladly do that to prevent the issues we have had over the past three weeks, too!  They are worth it, and so is my sanity.

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Wordless Wednesday – Sleeping Puppy at 5 am

Little Red 1

Little Red 2

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Little Red

We have a new four-legged family member!

Little Red
Little Red

On Saturday morning, we picked up our new puppy, and I am already in love with him.  Little Red is so nicknamed because he is an 8.6 lb red standard poodle puppy.  He is our third standard poodle and our fourth poodle, as we began our life with poodles back in the 80’s with a miniature apricot-colored poodle when our kids were small.  Our first standard was Big Ol’ Baby, apricot-colored, who passed away back in October after being a beloved family member for 15 years, and our second standard poodle is Girly Girl, who is now 2 1/2 and is light brown, almost a taupe color.  Color is not that important to us, but we think it will be neat to have a red dog for the first time.  Red is a relatively new color for this breed, and his parents were both gorgeous.

Over the course of our married years, we have also fostered a few dogs that have lived with us for shorter periods of time, and all were strays that we took in until we found good homes for them.  The most recent foster was Charlie, a sweet and feisty beagle who hit the jackpot as far as a permanent home a few years ago.  I actually fell in love with him and wanted to keep him, but when a good home with some people that we knew personally came open, we decided to let him go to them and get Girly Girl.  This couple was absolutely devastated after losing their long-time pet, and Charlie has been living like a king with them ever since.  It was a good decision, and we still enjoy getting pictures of him from time to time.

Little Red passed his puppy check with flying colors, and right away, he started doing his business out in the backyard regularly.  It seems that the breeder has already done some work with the puppies, as this is the easiest puppy transition we’ve ever had, at least so far.  Little Red had a rough night of separation anxiety on his first night on Saturday night, but last night was a completely different story, as he slept from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am in his crate without an accident.  He also has no fear of Girly Girl, and she has been good to play with him gently most of the time, with only a few reminders from us to “be easy” on occasion.  It’s so good to see her back to her level of play that she had before we lost Big Ol’ Baby, and I’m sure these two will enjoy many fun times together over the years.

We will be keeping Little Red at home and inside as much as possible until mid-March when he completes his final round of shots.  Both the breeder and our vet insist on doing this to hopefully avoid any unnecessary sickness, especially Parvo, which is deadly and, unfortunately, is very prevalent right now.  This means no weekend RV trips for a while for us, but this time frame actually works well for us, since hubby is out of vacation days until the first week of March anyway.  Girly Girl has grown up going with us in the RV, since we purchased our motor home shortly after she came to live with us.  She loves going camping, and I’m sure Little Red will love it just as much, too.  I’ve never met a kid or a dog that didn’t love to go camping, and having the RV makes it easy to bring the dogs along for the fun.

No doubt, Little Red will likely be nicknamed Big Red in a few short months, as he should be about six to eight inches taller than Girly Girl at the shoulders and the largest dog we have ever owned.  I’m not going to wish away these puppy days, though.  For people like us that have large dogs, the privilege of just being able to hold a dog in your lap for a few short weeks is a very special time, for sure.  Little Red likes to cuddle in the evenings just before bedtime, and I’m going to definitely take advantage of that as long as possible.

I’m very grateful today for the blessing of a new puppy, as well as the special love of so many wonderful dogs over the years.  I highly recommend sharing the love of a dog (or two) in your life.

Edit: WordPress informed me that this is also my 100th blog post.  How fun is that! 😉

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A New Love in My Life

Several years ago, we lost our family pet poodle that was seventeen years old.  She was a miniature poodle, and both of our kids literally grew up with her.  She was truly one of the family, as was her younger “big” (standard) brother that came along several years later.  Losing our precious family pet was harder on me than anyone else in our family, probably because that’s just how I roll.  I get very attached to both people and animals, and I cried for days and weeks off and on after she died.  We have enjoyed “big” brother and so blessed to still have in as a family pet, even though he is now thirteen years old, but ever since big sis’s passing, I’ve had a hole in my heart where she was.

Despite this gaping hole in my heart, I realized that I probably was not ready to get another dog to replace her.  I needed time to mourn her passing and really think whether or not I wanted another dog, since I am already past fifty and not getting any younger.  I also love to travel, and I thought long and hard about adding a second dog back into our lives and how it might impact the travel we would like to do while we are able to do so.  Sometimes, I think I over-think things, though, and that is definitely what I did on this decision by waiting so long to “think” this over.  I think I knew all along that I needed another four-legged love in my life in addition to “big” brother.

We picked up our new sweetie on Sunday after a few days of exhaustive searching for a standard poodle puppy in the price range we wanted to pay.  We were quite stunned to find how much some of them sell for these days, too.  Since we only wanted a loving pet, not a dog to show or breed, we kept looking beyond the expensive breeders.  I would love to have adopted a standard poodle, but there are no rescue groups within a reasonable drive of where we live.  My husband finally located a newspaper ad for some puppies in a town about two hours away, and off we went to check them out.  The only female in the litter was soon to be ours, and what a sweetie pie she is… Mon Cherie!  (My Sweetheart)

Cherie-0523
Our new standard poodle puppy at 10 weeks!

She is possibly the cutest, softest, most loveable little four-legged creature on the planet, too… but that’s just me.  She also weighed in at 11 pounds, 4 ounces on her first visit to the vet on Monday, and she is a healthy little girl all around.  Her owners opted to not have the tails of the puppies cropped at birth, too.  We will possibly revisit that when she is old enough to be spayed at six months of age, but right now, that long curly tail is just pretty darn cute.

Here’s to many puppy hugs in the days to come!

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