agility with the girls

If I could spend most of my days learning something new, I’d be so very happy.  It’s such a great feeling to overcome that first bump in the road, the point at which you start to improve.

A couple of people at work have taken their dogs to classes at the Richmond SPCA.  I decided to copy them for a couple of reasons: the combination of learning something new not just by myself but with Al and the dogs and also being able to support a non-profit, no-kill shelter.  A win for us, a win for the animals at the shelter!

Yesterday, we had our second agility class (of seven).  We never really had that first bump in the learning curve.  I think it was only getting over my fear of failure!  I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to handle the girls and that they’d be crazy but so far so good!

The girls will do anything for treats which helps a ton.  Olivia rarely sits still on a leash but she will (somewhat) for some food!

Look how thrilled Al is to be at the class.  He sure does love his treat holder/fanny pack.  Haha.

I promise the man does love the class, especially since Roary is one of the best there!  #truth

The girls have already successfully done about five obstacles and it’s only the second class which I find amazing.  It’s so fun to watch them understand want we want and execute it.  It also gives Al and I a bit more confidence in our handling abilities which is just what I wanted.

Look at Roary go!  The girl loves herself some cheese balls.

There is a fee for the classes but I think it’s so worth it.  It’s nice to know we can support the shelter while spending good, quality time together.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Have you taken your dogs to classes?

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Belle

I was recently talking to my friend Katie who I hadn’t talked to in forever. Don’t you hate when that happens? Life just gets in the way! Anyways, at one point I was updating her about Belle and how she’s been doing. I realized that a lot has gone on with her in the past month so I thought I’d share it with you guys.

On the day we started painting the paneling (the same day we picked up Heidi from BARK!), Belle was sleeping a ton. The dogs usually nap a good amount so I didn’t think much of it until I picked her up and noticed that it looked like she had a giant adam’s apple! It appeared that her lymph node was super swollen. I panicked.

I dropped everything and told Al that we had to take her to the doggy ER.

The ER vet told us that it could be many things but that it was most likely an infection from her horrible and I mean horrible teeth. Her former owners had neglected her teeth over the years so most of them were covered in thick plaque.

He wanted to do a fine needle aspirate (look at the cells) of the lymph node to confirm this suspicion and rule out cancer but with the pricing I decided to wait until the next day and go to the vet that I work at. They know her better there and it’d be cheaper! So the ER vet put her on antibiotics and painkillers to start.

Monday, the vet that I work at agreed that it was probably an infection but he wanted to be sure so he gave me a second antibiotic to give her. If the swollen lymph node didn’t decrease in size over the next week then it was more likely to be cancer. Ugh.

After only a couple days, the size was smaller. Thank goodness! So we set up her dental for the following week to clean the teeth and pull out any rotten/infected ones.

I was glad we’d be able to get out all those bad teeth but also VERY concerned because she has a severe heart murmur. Putting a very old dog under anesthesia is risky and with a heart murmur on top of that? Scary.

I was working the day she got her dental. The vet tech asked me if I wanted to oversee the procedure. I hesitated because I hadn’t done too many dentals yet (since I’ve only had this job since February) and didn’t feel prepared but I also wanted to be right there with her just in case. I said I’d do it.

The vet and vet tech talked about their approach. They brought over extra drugs and needles to the dental table to help her just in case her heart had trouble. The vet said he was going to take out as many bad teeth as he could. He would go for the worst ones first and then if Belle was still doing okay, he’d get the others.

At about 40 minutes into the procedure with one and a half teeth left to pull, Belle decided that she’d had enough. In what felt like seconds, her heartbeat jumped and her breathing went from about 6 breaths per minute to SIXTY. I started getting nervous but stayed focus – letting the doctor know her vitals and recording the data. He said that he’d finish the tooth he was on and leave the last one that wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t worth the risk.

With sweaty palms I stared at her chest moving rapidly as he extracted the tooth. The vet tech flew in and took her off anesthesia.

It took her a bit to wake up but she did. She looked pathetic yet alive. I said, “This isn’t your best look Belle!”. Comedy soothes all don’t you know.

We kept her on pain medicine and antibiotics in the days after the dental. The lymph node continued to shrink and by the end of the week she was perfectly fine.

Al and I have seen a mind-blowing change in Belle in these weeks since her dental. She has only cried/screamed ONCE since the procedure. This is a huge change. She used to keep us up at night and cried during the day when we were gone. I think it was partly because she was kept in a crate but also because she was just so darn uncomfortable with all that pain in her mouth all the time.

With the crying gone there’s more to see in her. She wags her tail a lot more (she rarely did before), she gets visibly excited (this never ever happened) and so she seems happier overall. This lady actually has a personality! And all she needed was a visit to the dentist.

We’ve even recently taken her off of her old lady pills that are supposed to help with being senile. She hasn’t resumed any pacing or restlessness. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

With all this drama that we had to go through with Belle, we now feel attached to her. I asked Al if we were going to post her online to find her a home still and he said, “No, I kinda want to keep her.”. I was shocked. This man couldn’t stand her in the beginning. This is understandable because the screaming was terrible (!) and he wasn’t keen on tiny dogs to begin with (neither was I) but a complete 180 is very impressive.

She’s still a crabby old lady but we like her. 🙂 We now have 2.5 dogs (.5 being Belle). No more, no less. It’s nice to be a healthy, happy family.

I think the point of this super long story is, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. We never thought we’d have a tiny dog in the mix but we’re sure glad we do now. We’ve learned about love, patience, and open-mindedness. All that from 8 pounds of fur.

and just like that

Every Saturday, BARK volunteers bring a selection of dogs from the farm to various pet stores around Richmond. Foster families can also bring their dogs whenever they want, even if a dog hasn’t been requested to be seen by a potential family. A week after Heidi joined our pack, I decided to take her to Petsmart for the whole three hours (12-3 pm).

For some reason it’s tough to find homes for hounds and at BARK there are A LOT so the odds weren’t in our favor but with a great, big stroke of luck, she met an interested family!

They told me that they’d bring their other dog to meet her the following Saturday.

All week I waited on Kelley, the Adoption Coordinator at BARK, to send me an email telling me that she had been requested for the visit. By Thursday I hadn’t heard anything so I emailed her. She told me that the family hadn’t given her all the information she needed and that she couldn’t get a hold of them.

My heart sank. They seemed like such a great family for Heidi!

So this past weekend at 1:30 pm, I had a strong gut feeling that we should be back at Petsmart and not shopping. I made my husband turn the truck around so I could rush home and then drive over.

Heidi and I got there at 2:00. Bob, the owner of the rescue, told me that the family had been by earlier. I had missed them!! Crap.

About 30 minutes later one of the daughters showed up with the rest of the paperwork they needed to adopt Heidi. I didn’t know this at the time but when they came the first time, Kelley had told them what she needed so they ran right home to get it. Thank goodness they still needed that paperwork or they wouldn’t have come back!

The daughter called the rest of the family so that they could bring their other dog to meet Heidi. If all went well, we’d be in the clear.

After another 30 minutes, the family arrived. Both of the dogs have pretty passive personalities so neither of them were very interested in the other. We didn’t see any negativity though, so it was a match!

The mom (from the phone) told us that she wanted a ‘trial run’ with Heidi just to make sure she was the right choice. I was informed that the only way they could do that was if they adopted her first. Bob said that if she didn’t work out, they could bring her back and get a full refund.

I wasn’t sure how they’d take the news. I gave the dad his option. There was a long pause but then he said, ‘Welp, I guess we’re adopting a dog today!’

YESSS. I would’ve totally done a happy dance but there were too many people around.

Obviously there’s still a chance that she doesn’t fit in at their home but I can’t imagine that happening. I feel like the family will work with any issues that might come up. Heidi’s too cute to give back. 🙂

As they wrapped up the paperwork, I realized she was leaving me… today. I hadn’t prepared for that part. Sure she’d only been at my house for two weeks but ever since January when we first met, I wanted to help find her a home. Now that day had come. It was time to say good-bye.

I had one of the daughters take a photo of the two of us at that moment.

Course Heidi had no idea what was going on but I have to admit I was a little upset!

I took off her BARK collar so the family could put on her new one. I handed the collar to Kelley but she handed it back to me and said, ‘Do you want to keep it? You should keep it.’ I took it back and then walked the family to their car.

And just like that she was gone.

I have her collar to remember her by and a new facebook friend. They said they’ll post pictures of progress and playtime. I can’t wait to see them!

The other dogs at our house seem to be doing fine without Heidi. Without a hyper puppy to play with, Roary is sleeping a lot more but I don’t think she minds. She now has time to heal her playtime wounds and spend more time with her buddy Olivia.

It was a fun adventure. I learned a lot about love and potential. I hope to do it again sometime! It’d be great to have little collection of collars. 🙂

i promised

Before we added Olivia and Belle to our family, I fell in love with a beagle named Heidi. If you haven’t read my earlier posts, my husband and I volunteer over at BARK once in a while. We help clean out the runs and walk the dogs. The daily ritual is to clean the runs and then take whatever dog you want on a nice, long walk through the trails.

The first time we did this, I chose Heidi. She was so little and too cute. She pulled like crazy, sniffing everything in her path.

After a couple of weekends, I told her I’d get her out of there. Like with Olivia, I had a gut feeling that I was supposed to help. I had to.

With the addition of Olivia and then Belle, the promise looked kinda dicey. Adding Heidi to the family would bring us to a total of FOUR DOGS!! That’s completely insane but I promised her freedom so I couldn’t bail on her!

This past weekend I fulfilled my promise. We picked her up and she’s been tiring us out every since.

Let me make this clear. We’re not adopting her, we’re fostering her (same with Belle but it’s hard to find someone who wants a 14 year old, deaf, chihuahua 🙂 ). Knowing that we’re trying to find homes for two of them makes having four dogs a little more tolerable but honestly it hasn’t been bad at all. I can say that Heidi is better than my other dogs on the leash! She’s a little over a year old and therefore still puppy-like but she just needs a little discipline and some time. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said ‘Off!’ in the past week while teaching her that she’s not allowed on the couch! Haha.

So here’s a little info about her in case her future family is reading this!

The girls play all day long. After less than a week they are already getting along quite well.

The chihuahua is another story… but she’s crotchety and doesn’t like other dogs all up in her business. 🙂

Like Olivia, she loves a good belly rub and will sit there calmly for a good while if you keep it up.

When her tails in the air, you can bet she’s on a scent trail. She loves to sniff around and explore every inch of the backyard.

I was told she’s an ‘escape artist’ but we haven’t had any issues with her trying to get out at all. We just make sure she knows that she can’t bolt when we open doors.

Believe it or not, she DOES rest once in a while. We walk her 2 or 3 times a day and soon we hope to start running with her. She needs her exercise for sure!

The bottom line is that it’s totally worth dealing with all that energy because she is the sweetest thing EVER. She just wants play and be loved on!

With her great looks, personality, and the training we’re putting her through, I hope to find her a great forever home very soon.

If you’re interested in Heidi or know of someone who might be (and you’re in the Richmond area), just shoot me an email! hippeitch {at} gmail {dot} com.

doggy treats

Growing up I used to love making cookie cutter cookies around the holidays. Rolling out the dough, choosing your shapes, it was just fun!

These days I make them for the girls in the form of dog treats. I found this recipe a while back and still use it although I often substitute one sweet potato for the pumpkin. To prep the sweet potato I just punch a couple fork holes into the skin and then cook it in the microwave until soft. I also mash it up with a fork to help it mix into the dough better. Also note that I usually add in 2 tablespoons of water. You’re supposed to add in enough to make the dough ‘workable’ and that amount has worked for me every time.

The dough is SUPER sticky so you’ll have to have flour handy to coat it, the rolling pin, and your hands frequently. Make sure you take your rings off!

I bought these cute bone-shaped cookie cutters from Martha Stewart last year and have been making the treats from scratch ever since. I would think it’s a bit cheaper than buying the more ‘natural’ treats that I usually get from the store so that’s a plus.

Whenever I make them, I bake a double batch to stock up the cookie jar. I even break the treats in half because my dogs aren’t that big so they last a long while.

You may see a couple burnt ones in the jar but I keep them anyways since the dogs don’t seem to care! They loooove them!

Is there anything special that you like to make from scratch?

that one time when lindsay was suzy homemaker… for a week

As you may know Adrienne is off jet setting and playing with Steve Irwin’s animals while I hold down the fort.

To add to the fun, I thought I’d throw some of our own exotic animals in the mix. You may know them, but you have no idea…this is the diary of a very tired babysitter.

Liv is my personal favorite. This rare beast ran away from a cat in its pounce position while we were on a run the other day. I thought it was a wild animal and we were in immediate danger the way she almost made me eat the pavement. I got over it quickly though. Mainly for this face.

....okay, I forgive you.

On to the next wild animal. There’s not much that could be said about Roary that you can’t tie back to these three words: energy, lovin’, and sass. It’s a crazy mix, which I sum up in the nickname “Fatty”. This kid will do ANYTHING for a treat. Hence my personal favorite trick, “sit pretty”.

"this better be worth something good"

I’ve left the best one for last. Best, meaning, this critter is IN-TENSE. But I’ve realized that my dislike of small dogs lightens a little when she puts up with me messing with her…Behold….MOTHER TERESA.

“Do small things, with great love.” ― Mother Teresa

 Her face in this picture seems to portray less Mother Teresa quotes and more “Wait until tonight when I wake you up at 5am”….I think it was worth it.

Also, an update on other things that I’ve been keeping alive…The garden!

minus one wilted stem, i'm doin' great!!.....

Phew…so much pressure to keep things alive around here. Three more days and then you’ll have your beloved blogger back! Hasta Luego, friends! Until the next time I’m put in charge of another life…or three….Gulp.

australian animals galore

I’m always hesitant to go to zoos because you never know how small or large the enclosures will be. I get depressed for the guys if I see them in cages that look too small to me but that wasn’t the case at Steve Irwin’s zoo here in Australia!

It isn’t just a zoo but “a team of passionate conservationists working around-the-clock to deliver an animal experience like no other.” So Awesome. Australian hippies. 😉

It was way too cool for me not to show you the pictures ASAP. Lots of fun things went down and I even got to interact with multiple animals!

I took a lot of photos but here are a ton few of my favorites:

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. A lot of the enclosures were very open so I could get up really close and take photos.

These iguanas are the pigeons of Australia. They aren’t in a zoo exhibit but I took a picture anyway! They also have wild turkeys that wandered about. So different from the US.

I enjoyed this signage. I assume the skull and crossbones means death. See the giant guy behind it?!

I die. I couldn’t even stop myself from baby talk when I saw these Koalas. I made my husband pay $20 so we could get a picture with one! I HELD HIM. His name was Slater and he was very smelly. 🙂

Wombats. Another super cute animal. The zookeepers walk around with them with harnesses on like dogs.

The other girls and I stopped to watch the Irwin family for an unhealthy amount of time. Bindi is all grown up!! We were starstruck.

We didn’t know until we got there but at the Crocodile show the Irwin kids did some shooting for a TV show they’re doing. This isn’t a daily occurrence so we were really lucky to see them feed a dead pig to the Graham the crocodile. As disgusting as it was, it was very cool! Lots of waiting and then violent thrashing.

I was so scared for her!

We got to feed the kangaroos. They are such characters!!

I did this.

And then he decided that the amount of food I gave him wasn’t enough so he grabbed my hand which scared the crap out of me.

After that I hesitantly fed him again only to have my husband say, ‘I want him to grab MY hand!’. Ha.

A little later on another kangaroo snuck up behind me and gave me a little shove. Needless to say I was a little jumpy after that so when we were in the Rain Forest after that and two parrots decided to breeze by my head multiple times I almost cussed in front of some little kids. It was terrifying yet I loved it.

The Wallabies got there turn at the food buffet too.

We went to Africa for an hour where we saw Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, and a Rhino. We even got to feed an Elephant! I don’t have that photo yet but I’ve been told I have to ‘prove it’ so I’ll post it when I get back.

Such a great time! It’ll be a day I never forget. I love myself some animals.

Toady is ANZAC day so we’re keeping it low key but tomorrow is another adventure so I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it soon.

🙂