Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Carrot Cake

Okay, I'm a bad Dog Mom.  I have never baked a birthday cake for my dogs, yet when my friends had an owner/dog birthday brunch for the little fluff you see below, I jumped at the opportunity to bake her one....  She wasn't a big fan, so I took it home (which made me feel less guilty).  No surprise, my dogs loved it.  I used it for high value training rewards for the few days it lasted. 

I got the cake recipe from Brown Eyed Baker's blog.  (Love her food!)

Whisk 1 tsp baking soda with 1 cup whole wheat flour.
Then add 1/4 cup natural PB, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup honey, 1 cup shredded carrots, and an egg.
Mix well and pour into greased baking pan.
Bake at 350 F for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you don't have a bone shaped pan, you can carve it if you have thick frosting, or if you are debating whether to frost/not like I was, you can just use aluminum foil to shape a bone within a loaf pan for support.  Mine didn't come out perfectly, but it worked.

For the frosting, I pureed a handful of blueberries, added them to low fat blueberry yogurt, made the mistake of adding some PB for thickening, when in reality it just ruined the color, added some more berries to try to fix the color, and then added a bit of flour for thickening.  It kind of soaked in a bit overnight, but it wasn't a disaster.  Pup turned three, hence the three blueberries.

I used pinches of this cake for treats.  It was sticky, but the dogs were crazy about it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Monday

I took a "Mom's Day" today.  Unless I'm excluded from those because I've never actually been in labor.  In that case, let's just call it a "Me Day."  Sans dogs.  Don't get me wrong--I missed them and felt guilty that I was <gasp> enjoying life without them at my side.  But... yeah, I need to get away every once in awhile and have some fun with some non-dog-obsessed friends.  It helps keep me normal, whatever that is.

Anyways, I drove to "the City" with a few friends for brunch.  Then we bounced on over to a bar.  And bounced on over to another bar.  The sun was actually out, so we just hung out at the sidewalk tables and had ourselves a good time.  

My belly is so happy, too. I had a fab hash with probably the second best biscuit I've ever had--sky high, flaky, and buttery.  Noms.  Even though I was still sickeningly full, I couldn't resist ordering nachos from the last bar.  Ah-mazing.  House made chips.  Enough said.

Oh yeah, I was in "the City" last night, too, for a fun "bowling with the professors" night.  It consisted of two of our coolest profs, plus about 6 of my friends, with a few of their other halves.  We bought this night out at a public interest auction dinner event a couple months ago.  Totally worth it!  It was about as fancy as a bowling alley can get (like, swanky city cigar lounge, if those exist) and had great food and drinks.  So... my belly was happy last night as well.

Anyways, the dogs are starving.  Gotta go!  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's Farmers Market Season!

Since Soph stole my spotlight yesterday, I'm going to use Setter Saturday to tell you about my morning!  Mom loves taking us to the Farmers Market; usually she takes us around a time or two, while deciding which vendors she'll return to, then stick us in the car if it's not too hot, and run through again to make her purchases.  Dogs aren't allowed near food booths due to health codes, and alas, she never goes to these with friends who could hold us during her purchases.  This is just one of the many reasons Mom says she needs a boyfriend....

Anyways, ever since I got all leash reactive a few months ago, Mom was hoping I would be all better by Summer so that I could go to these.  Today was the first morning she could attend, and she chose me to tag along!  We went early to avoid the mid-morning rush, but there were already a lot of people and dogs there. I wasn't counting, but I bet I walked by two dozen dogs without a worry.  (I even did oncoming passes with large dogs and kept my cool!)  I did want to go meet one little dog (they're not scary at all), but of course, Mom didn't think I was ready for that.  It was a little stressful when she asked me to sit and lay down with everyone milling around, but I handled it okay.  Mom was very proud of me for walking like such a polite dog through the crowd and paying attention to her.

Oh!  One lady guessed my breed right this morning--Llewellin even, not just English!  Mom was so impressed that they started chatting.  I even made friends with her and tried to give kisses.

Here are some photos from my outing.  They were taken away from the more busy areas of the market.  I guess Mom felt silly enough walking around with her treat bag and clicker, without also being that person taken photos of her dog posing by the booths....

Have [dog] car, will travel.

On my way...

To the Market!

Mom, you are so embarrassing.  Put the cell away!

Okay, I'll lay down, but no one better step on my tail!

Hmmm... those plants look like they need a good sniffin'.

I guess I look a little stressed out here....

Clearly, this isn't the time for photos....

But I'll sit again, if I have to....

Heading back to the car. I have no idea what building this is, but Mom let me check it out!

I also had a great Friday...  I exhausted myself running at the park, which Mom followed up with a walk, so that I'd be nice and tired for my second training class.  Maybe I over did it, because I wasn't as on top of my game during class last night, but I still did really good.  I barked at a dog that came in 45 minutes late but settled down quickly enough.  I also progressed to laying my chin down on my mat during class!  I got so many treats for that!  After class, Mom took me to Home Depot where we picked some stuff up for her pond.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby all night.

It's time to go play outside, now!  Thanks for visiting!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Picnic at the Park

Hi, It's me, Sophie!

I'm not trying to be rude, I promise!  Mom was eating something, and I wanted her to share....

We went to a park with her friends yesterday to celebrate the end of Spring term finals.  I got to visit with about fifteen law nerds who think I'm adorable (I'll admit, I am very pretty), and I tried to maintain my best lady manners when I mingled with three other dogs.  There was a lot of good food that her friends weren't stingy with, and Mom brought along a container of hamburger just for me, too!

Mostly, I stood around and looked cute.  I made myself readily available to anyone who wanted to pet me. (It's a rough life.)  I love how everyone thinks I'm a young lady!  When Mom answered ten and a half, they thought she meant months!  How flattering!  I was also complimented on how clean and soft I am, so all my efforts to steer clear of mud paid off!

I was a little disappointed we didn't get to walk around and explore the park more--kind of mean of Mom, considering I've never been there before--but I did have have fun playing Bocci.  I was my mom's lucky charm--she scored a three pointer, which is quite impressive considering she has about the worst hand-eye coordination ever.  We players were told we looked like a scene from a Wes Anderson film.  I'll take it.  We passed on playing baseball (both kinds) and another ball toss kind of game because Mom already met her quota sports.  (I don't think she knows what she signed up for when she agreed to join a kickball team with her friends this Summer....)

Anyways, after about four hours of hanging out, Mom and I ran to the pet store for some vitamins and treats and then headed home.  I made sure to tell Champ and Elsie about my afternoon of fun, since they were stuck at home doing nothing.  Yes, Champ gets his brat traits from me.

I'm going to go take a nap with Mom!  (She's bogged down on Benedryl, plus we have time now!)  Have a great weekend!

Dog mom here! I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by!  We are about a week into the blog project and already have had over 225 page views!  I don't know if that's a lot for young blogs, but it's way more than I imagined we'd be getting!  Thanks again!  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I studied during Finals, too.

Okay, guys, this is what I hate about finals. It means that for two weeks, my life is boring. This go around wasn't too bad, actually, since Mom kinda took a more relaxed approach to it. 

See this look on my face? This me asking Mom why she is ignoring my ringing the bells, which clearly means I want to go outside. (Note, it doesn't mean I need to go outside.)  Obviously, I'm less than impressed with her attempts to study when there are birds and bunnies that need checking on outside.

So this is what I practiced during finals:

Yep.  Mat work.  I finally figured out that putting my head down gets me even more treats than just laying on the mat!  It's actually not as boring as what my mom had to study.  Still, there were things I'd rather be doing....

Anyways, this is me practicing my lessons in real life after a walk this week.

I haven't gotten to the point of resting my chin on the grass yet, but laying on the side of my hip was kind of a big deal for me, too.  I will offer it on my own a lot now, and it's also a fun game Mom and I play--she asks for "hip" and I work on scootin' backwards and sideways.

Did I mention that Finals are O.V.E.R.?!  We are all so excited for the summer to begin!  Sophie will tell you all about her day celebrating with Mom in tomorrow's post!

Happy summer!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chicken & Tuna Snacks

It's Tasty Tuesday!  Mom loves making our treats.  She says it is usually less expensive and that she likes knowing exactly what goes in them.  My osteopathic therapist thought I was gluten sensitive, so my mom usually feeds me only grain free foods.  I don't know what she's trying to do to me, but she actually put some oats in these treats!  Mom-Fail.  Nah, I can handle it this time.  Plus, these are super yummy.

So Mom doesn't normally follow recipes.  She's lazy like that.  Of course, after making dog treats for me since I was a pup, she's got the basics down and then varies them.  This week's flavor was tuna!  It took her no time to whip it up.  She likes this one because it's so easy, and I like them because they are so smelly--good smelly!

Her recipe (yields between 2-3 cups):
1 can white chicken meat in water, rinsed and drained well (or 1 c chicken boiled)
1 can albacore tuna in water, rinsed and drained well 
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained well (or about 1 1/2-2 cups fresh cooked GBs)
2 eggs
1/2 cup quick oats, optional

*Process all of the ingredients together with an immersion blender or food processor.  Pat onto a lightly greased or non-stick baking sheet to about 3/16 to 1/4" thickness.
*Bake at 180-200 F for 4-6 hours, slicing and flipping half-ways through, until fully dehydrated.
*Feed as biscuits or break into pieces for training.
*Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

The dough lacks color, but it sure smells good!

Here are the treats all cooked.  By the way, Mom only uses this baking sheet for dog treats.  You can see the non-stick coating is worn off, which is why she lightly greases it with oil.

We go crazy over these treats and we all think they are pretty high value.  Usually she doesn't add any grains, but she wanted to see if they baked up better with the oats.  The result was about the same.

Also, when using canned Mom tries to opt for low sodium if it's available, and for meats, antibiotic/hormone free, organic, or preferably fresh from some local ranchers who focus on grass fed/pasture raised meats.  She doesn't eat a lot of meat herself, so when she comes home with a bag full of it, I know something good is comin' our way!

Lastly, since it is Tasty Tuesday, Mom wanted me to post this photo of the horses eating some yummy grass.  Her dad just started weaning them onto the pasture and this pic was taken their first time out on it this Spring.  They were so happy to be out there!  (Personally, I think that pasture is a waste of dog-running space!)

That's all!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Let's Pretend it's Not Monday

Wake me up on Tuesday, please.

Dog Mom here now... Good afternoon!  I did let the poor boy sleep in today.  Kind of.  I got up at 3:30 am.  Yup, you read that right.  3:30 am.  Granted, I went to bed at about 6:30 pm last night, but that is still way too early.  Yesterday was grueling trying to juggle studying for my Evidence final and entertaining three busy setters--I can focus much better in the early morning hours when the pups still think (err, know) it's sleepy time.  The pressure is definitely on when your whole grade for a course is based on your exam coming up at 8:30 am.

But it's over now!  Woo-hoo!  Three down.  One to go.  I celebrated with a couple friends at a little French restaurant and then picked up two flavors of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Normally, every final hits me like a sack of bricks in my stomach, or I just feel like I died during the exams.  When all you can do is fail (considering the high grades receive around 60% of the points or less), it's no wonder that law finals have just what it takes to crush one's spirits.  This go around, though?!  Carefree.  Honestly, I just don't care! <resisting grinning emoticon here>  I assume I'll pass, and if I don't, well, my life isn't over.  It's not that I don't want to be here--I do, for the most part--but I'm just not letting my stress consume me this term.  My mom should be happy to read that (are you reading, Mom?!), since my blood pressure sky rockets during Finals and I get all bratty, grumpy, and melodramatic.

Anyways, I'm taking the day off from studying, going to do some yard work, and spending time with the dogs, of course.  As I type, I'm enjoying the sunny day and slight breeze on my patio.  Elsie is over under the trees obsessing over her flirt pole.  Sophie's on the end table in the living room watching the world go by through the picture window.  And Brat Man is standing here next to me.  I promised him a trip to the park later, so I better get going!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Coast

I want Mom to take me back to the coast so badly!  I have only been there once, and that was three years ago!  She says she'll take me again this Summer but won't give me an exact day.  Why does she think dogs don't need to update their Google Calendars?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Setter Saturday Part 2

It's me, Sophie!  I got to run dog errands with Mom today!  We went to a nearby city's big farm store and then back to our neighborhood pet store.  I helped Mom pick out some new toys, restock on treats for our dispenser toys, get a vaccine, and pick up a crate pad for Champ's mat work.

I saw a lot of dogs in the farm store, and they were so yappy!  Not me, though!  Even if I'm a little noisy at home, I behave like an angel in public.  Oh, the cashier thought I was a shepherd mix!  At the pet store, the cashier thought I was a dalmatian mix. (I let it slide because she tried to offer me a treat.)  People just aren't used to seeing field bred setters, I suppose.

There were a lot of baby birds in the farm store!  I could hear them, but Mom wouldn't let me look in their pens.  Apparently my pretty face might scare them....  Bummer.  I love birds!

Okay, we get to go on our walks now!  

The Girls!

Dog Mom here!
Champ is pretty self centered, so I'm going to introduce you to the "other" setters, which is what Setter Saturday is all about.  Meet Sophie:

I took these Thursday during her trip to the park.  You can see this lady is pretty much all about the birds! Sophie is 10 1/2 years old, which makes me sad to think about--time goes by too quickly!  She is my shadow dog and has been dedicated to me for all her years.  This Spring she has just started to get some cataracts (no other eye disease), but she is otherwise healthy and not slowing down.  Since there is no surgery option until the cataracts are mature, I'm hoping they develop very slowly and don't significantly affect her vision.  I have her on the OcuGlo Rx supplement, hoping it will help, and even if it doesn't, at least I'll feel like I tried something....  

I love watching her bound through fields.  She is very graceful and athletic.   At home, I call her "Miss Priss" or "Princess Dog" because she is so dainty and proper.  When it rains--often where we live--she resents getting her paws wet and will only go to the bathroom just under the two foot eave where it's dry.  Put her in the field, though, and she will get covered head to toe in mud and dive through thorny brush, tumbleweeds, and cuckleburrs (obviously, we hunt in a different part of the state where we both grew up)! 

Yep! She heard some tweeties above the bank!

Recall on the trail.  This little stinker actually slipped her harness and collar when she got into some thick brush that trip, but she has a decent recall and came right back [naked].  She was trained when I was still going through my "gun dog method" phase and can be a bit e-collar wise (more on that and how I train now in later posts).  So when we [my dad and I] go hunting or hiking, I'll admit I usually put it on in case there is an emergency situation (don't worry, we usually don't use it and we much prefer the vibration option anyways).  My goal this summer is to strengthen her recall off lead sans e-collar.  I'd love to be able to hike with her without that or a long line--I'll admit, her strong prey drive has me a little hesitant.  She has always been our farthest ranging hunter, which is great for fields... not so great in parks or woods.  I tend to panic when she gets out of sight, which is often when she is off searching for birds--which is whenever she's somewhere remotely wild (as shown by the park photos).  I have been able to breath easier since we've gotten the Garmin Astro GPS collars, but I'm one of those paranoid dog moms who worries about everything.


Pretty girl!

Isn't she a doll?  People still mistake her for a pup, and her happy, friendly, sweet, playful personality makes her a fun dog to have at home and out and about.  At home, Sophie loves to entertain, snuggle, and watch the world go by.  She also really enjoys clicker training sessions, which she only started with this past year. 

That's it for photos of Sophie's trip to the park yesterday!  You'll see a lot more of her here!

This is Elsie at the park:

Recall.  Elsie is new to us (more below) and apparently never had a good recall in the field.  I've been doing a lot of work with it at home and will add her to the "work on recall" list for the summer.  (Champ lucked out and was the first dog I focused on training by only positive reinforcement with some negative punishment.  We've got to work on his recall in the field, too, so he can have more fun during his outings, but at least I don't have to deal with any collar-wisdom with him.  He actually has the quickest & most enthusiastic recall in more controlled settings of all of my family's dogs. Enough about Champ, though, this is Setter Saturday!)


That creek sure is popular with these pups!

Go figure.  A photo of Elsie mid-shake wasn't blurry at all.  Yet I couldn't get a great one of her running....

So tired, but so happy!

Elsie had a great time at the park, except for one little incident (I wish I'd saved Sophie for last).  This is a park with signs posted everywhere that dogs are to be kept on leashes.  In the past, most people have obeyed that rule, which is nice.  My dogs are not well suited to city "dog parks."  Maybe yesterday was too sunny and people were happy to be out with their dogs, but we encountered multiple owners with their dogs off leash.  I'm okay with that as long as the dogs respond reliably to their owners.  In fact, when we encountered two different dogs, their owners quickly recalled, leashed their dogs, and we all went on our merry ways.  You've probably noticed I have all of mine on long lines.  There's no way they are running off leash in a wooded park with birds and squirrels in the middle of a city--not even dragging a line.  It would take moments for them to get from one end to the other if they ran straight through rather than following the windy, strategic paths.

Anyways, I saw a woman with two off leash dogs about 100 yards down a trail and turned Elsie around with her line shortened to about 10 feet and headed up a different trail hoping the dogs wouldn't see us.  She doesn't meet dogs well on short leashes (as reported by her previous owners and I'm sure they corrected her for it) but I wanted to have a little more control.  Within a few seconds, Elsie was body slammed by one dog, she let out a grumble, the second dog appeared, and we booked it out of there.  All the while the owner was bellowing/growling "come back" or to that effect, to which they were not responding until she caught up to them.  The dogs most likely had friendly intentions, but they obviously had rough play styles and acted like they thought every dog wanted to wrestle with them without introduction/with a rude body check intro.  Else recovered fine, but I have to say, I was still annoyed.  Ugh.  I'm thankful Elsie just growled when she was body checked from behind, but I wish I'd had high enough value treats for her at the time to offset the incident.  Mini rant (yes, there will be a few of these on this blog): if owners want to break the rules at that non-dog park and let their dogs off leashes, they'd sure as heck had better have well trained dogs that will respond in every circumstance.  Otherwise, they should use a leash or long line, for their dogs' safety and others'. 

/end rant

Elsie is also one of Sophie's pups, but she has a different sire than Champ.  We owned her wonderful dad, Jake.  I'll have some memorial posts for him on other Setter Saturdays.  Elsie has pretty much spent her life as a hunting dog.  Like her sister Morgan (you'll meet her at a later date, too), she is serious--really, really serious--about hunting.  She loves every minute of it and looks great doing it.  I can't wait to try her in the field this Fall.  I've had her since January, and since then her life has done a 180 to where she's living in a city as a house dog.  I don't know what I'd do without a flirt pole--it has been a lifesaver for her.  She is obsessed with it.

Her story: Elsie's actually gone through two other homes.  Her bird drive and desire to hunt was part of the underlying reasons.  Ironically, she was the best hunting dog either owner had ever had.  We screen our homes extensively, but for this girl, I regret to say we failed her twice.  Her first owners had her for six years.  When they got her, she had a designated area in their house and a fenced yard, but then they moved... to a place with no fence in a suburb like area.  You can imagine, it would take a very dedicated owner to fulfill her needs in those conditions.  I suspect that didn't happen, though, because she kept getting out of her dog run--literally chewing through the chain link. <insert sad face here> <I'm trying so hard to resist the emoticons!>  At one point, she escaped and got hit by a car, from which event she has a knot on her skull and some missing top incisors.  Her owner called one day and said it wasn't working out as he'd hoped, and I proceeded to look for new homes through our Llew networks and regional bird dog clubs.  We had a few applicants and [again] thought we chose the best one.

Two years later (December 2012), we got another call saying it wasn't working out because she and the owners' shorthair kept getting out of their yard, and the neighbors/landlord were complaining.  Now, I help with a regional setter rescue aside from volunteering at a shelter, and with the former, when I'm contacted by someone looking to rehome/surrender, I try to offer options/resources to fix the problem behavior so the dog can stay with its family.  I'll admit when I got this call, I was not about to encourage them to fix the problem-- I knew the only option was to get her back here with us asap.  I'm glad I had them sign an adoption contract through us requiring they contact us in the event they couldn't keep her, rather than leave it to the first owner.  The last thing I want is for any of our pups to end up in the shelter/rescue system--who wants to be part of that problem?  Unless you are a breeder, I don't know if you can imagine how sick I felt getting that call--I felt so bad that she had to be uprooted again when I had wanted so badly that her 2nd home would be her last....  We're trying to make the best of it, though.  Since she joined us in January, we've had her spayed (she'd previously had silent heats so her owners didn't see the need--I'm not about to mess around with mammary tumors again), chipped/vetted, worked on house training, worked on other manners/skills, and have even started some tricks.  There are some issues to "fix," ie resource guarding from the other dogs and being comfortable around dogs on leashes.  However, she is a very sweet, outgoing dog, who loves to snuggle and give sneak-attack kisses.  Oh, how could I almost forget?  Elsie loves, loves, loves food which makes her so easy to train.  She reminds me a lot of her parents, so I'm actually grateful to be able to give her another chance at a happy life.  There have been some small bumps along the road but not anything I haven't been prepared to handle.

Here are a few photos of my three here, taken in February, during and after some neighborhood walks.  I don't take all three out at once anymore since Champ became leash reactive, and I've needed to work on him individually; however, when I did, I could hardly get over the cuteness of them going down the sidewalk in front of me.  Oh, I've since put Elsie in a front clip harness... night and day difference with her pulling:

So now you've met Champ's housemates!  If you made it this far, congrats!  This post turned out a lot longer than I intended....  Have a great weekend!  I'm spending the rest of mine studying for my Evidence final on Monday morning!  Woo-hoo!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Park

Happy Friday!
Tonight, I am just going to share some photos from the awesome park that is just down the street from our "dog house."  It isn't a dog park, but we will talk about that tomorrow.

From yesterday:

I love the water!

Practicing my recall on the trail.

I'm already pretty tired here after running full speed ahead through the woods.  Mom's been too busy to take us to the park lately, but she promises to bring us more often.  That should help all of our conditioning.

Here's the creek at a different location.

This field is on our side of the woods.  When we can't go walk on the trails, sometimes we just run here.

From today:

I found another bird!  The greatest thing about this park is that I get to pretend I'm hunting.

I had my very first training class tonight.  I was so tired on the way home!  Because I can be leash reactive,* Mom took me to a practice session a few weeks ago.  She says I impressed her then as much as I did tonight!  I don't know what she gets so worried about.  I only let out a total of three or four barks: two when a big black dog came in late and one or two when he walked up to me (I don't remember).  I hardly knew what was happening before I found myself gobbling down handfuls of treats a couple yards away to where Mom moved me.  Other than that, I kept my eyes glued on Mom and eagerly waited for her to give me my cues.  It was actually pretty fun, and I showed her I could relax in a smallish room [that echos] with five other dogs and nine other people in it!

*Oh, I forgot to share that I passed an oncoming dog twice on my walk to the park yesterday and didn't react!  For full disclosure, he was on the other side of the street.  But after a scary encounter with one who was off leash and charged at us a couple months ago, I became pretty worried about oncoming big dogs on our neighborhood walks.  Mom doesn't understand why people let dogs that are not reliably trained off leash run loose in the neighborhood....  Anyways, I'm getting better with this.

A couple notes: first, my mom needs to get a different camera--and soon.  I was pretty disappointed that she didn't get any great action shots of me in the actual woods.  I guess I'm just too fast for the camera because I always looked blurry.  Or she doesn't know how to take photos (she makes no claims at being a photographer).  Probably a bit of both.  Second, you'll get to see the wooded trails tomorrow!  She has lots of photos of Sophie and Elsie in them.

That's all for tonight!  Thanks for stopping by!