Friday, December 31, 2010

Teller Woo's facebook profile hack...

One of those "hacks" in a good way. Here's Teller Woo's facebook profile page:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years' Resolutions...

Murphy and Teller have given a lot of thought to their New Years' Resolutions...Here's what they came up with for 2011...

Intermediate Agility - December 30th, 2010

Here's what we worked on tonight:

Cookie Challenge: Squashie Circles

The other night I make "Pumpkin Pareils" made from pumpkin (squash), coconut milk and eggs. I decided to try one more pumpkin recipe - this time simplifying the recipe even more.
Cookie Challenge: Squashie Circles

1 can of pumpkin (or squash)
3 large eggs

Mix! Grease cookie sheet (I used crisco this time), drop batter on cookie sheet with oral syringe (maybe turkey baster).  Like the last time I made 20cc cookies. Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Cookies should have a small ring of brown crust and a "set" center.

While the coconut milk cookies were a bit puffier, the squashie circles came out almost totally flat - almost like dehydrated sweet potato in consistency. A bit rubbery to start - after a couple of hours on a baking rack they were a crispier chew. The cookies were certainly pretty though - perhaps the prettiest I've made in this set of experiments actually...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmases of the Past

I had these hanging at the office - a Christmas retrospective of sorts. As I was taking them down I thought I'd share (and to some extent preserve) our cards of the past.

Christmas 2003: Kasei posing in front of my enormous
Christmas Tree. This was just before his crutiate surgery. Remember FILM?

Christmas 2004: 7 year old Kasei (r) and and 8 month old Murphy.
The card that launched the era of more involved dog cards and
thankfully we're now digital!!!

Christmas 2005: A sad year for us. Kasei died the day
after Thanksgiving, Murphy made a solo appearance on the card.

Christmas 2006: Murphy had started competing in
agility, so naturally our card had to be him jumping
over or through something!!! 

Christmas 2007: Three year old Murphy and 11 month old Teller.
No real snow so I had to enlist photoshop for some seasonal magic.

Christmas 2008: Teller in his first year of competition finished
his Canadian Championship, then his CD, RN and CGN. Murphy
finished his CDX and OAJ.

Christmas 2009: Glamour shot! Nearly three year old Teller (L) and
five year old Murphy. The out-takes of this one were hysterical: Teller
retrieving ornaments, the boys playing tug with the garland. Murphy deciding NOT
to stay any more, dragging Teller around my his tinsel, red eye, burning myself on the
halogen lamp I was using for lighting, cleaning up tinsle off the floor at waggles for weeks....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cookie Challenge: Pumpkin Pareils

The goods.
How about another grain and gluten free cookie? These super easy and simple to make bite-sized yum-yums are also dairy-free and nut-free and depending on how you make them - a great size for training! Previous entries in the Cookie Challenge: Smurphy's Embarky Bars, Teller's PB&C's and Q's Tuna Surprise.

1 can of pumpkin - in our case we used squash - same thing.
1/2 can "lite" coconut milk
5 eggs
pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, mix. Prepare a baking sheet with oil, butter (or better yet use Reynold's Release Foil). I used an oral syringe to deposit dollops of batter onto the cookie sheet - SUPER easy to make a bunch of cookies all the same size (approx 20cc) - right on down the line. If I had been able to find my cookie press I probably would have added a bit of rice flour and churned out cookies that way - alternatively I could have used less coconut milk.
Bake in a 350 degree 15 minutes or until center is set.

For one, these were really cute cookies - they're a bit on the chewy side - and break easily without crumbling. I'd imagine that most dogs with sensitive tummies could eat these easily without any GI upset - particularly for those dogs who eat pumpkin regularly or semi-regularly as a stool stabilizer.

I had left-over batter and decided to bake the remainder into a brownie pan. The cookies setup a bit like a quiche - my two loved both versions equally. I preferred the nuggets as they were easily tucked into my pocket for later.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing day Sunday

Well it took three trips (and two hours) out to Williston today to work Teller for 15 minutes - but persistence eventually paid off and Teller got to play a little - as did Murphy who wanted to work a little today - could have been the tuna brownies in my pocket more than an actual work ethic though.

First set of sequences

Second Set

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And a Christmas romp....

Not a bad way to spend the holiday if I do say so myself....After watching Murph make one lap yesterday and then fuss over snow in his feet for the rest of the romp I decided to put a full set of Pawz on Murphy to see if he'd play in them. His initial reaction was unfavorable - standing in one spot SURE I was abusing him. Once I let him out though he seemed to quickly forget about his grievances. Towards the end of the romp he was fussing with a back foot, when I removed the Pawz I did find that boot to be shredded and he did (despite having his feet clipped) have a snowball.

December 25th: Murphy testing out his pretty purple Pawz.

December 25th: Murphy leaning into a turn.

December 25th: Teller with his gator. Teller lost his large orange chuck-it ball today,
hopefully we'll find it in the spring. I decided to put a full set of Pawz on Teller too. After
his initial objections he also seemed to quickly forget the gear.

December 25th: Murph in the lead, Teller in pursuit.

December 25th: Teller in full extension.

December 25th: Murphy power romping.

December 25th: Happy Murph?

Christmas for the boys...

So, what did two very well behaved golden retrievers (who are certainly on Santa's nice list) get for Christmas this year? After spending so much time on the road lately - and in their crates in the van - it seemed logical to improve their "digs" a little. The perfect opportunity to upgrade their comfort arose when I went shopping at the Thanksgiving cluster and met the folks from Kennel Cushion.

Teller (l) and Murphy (r) model their new Kennel Cushions.
The Kennel Cushion beds are made from closed cell foam - polyurethane foam, covered with marine vinyl. Thick resilient foam that is supportive without being overly soft and squishy. And a covering that is water-proof, stain-proof, wipe clean and durable. Seemed like just the ticket for Teller - who doesn't want bedding in his crate and has (in the past) managed to push an entire bath mat out through the wires in the front of his crate. Also for Murphy, who prefers to stand most of the time we're in motion, but at six and a half, really does need something comfortable to sleep on - even if I have to force comfort upon him.

Murphy helps me show off his cushion.
It's a perfect fit!!!
We also have the difficulties of having odd-sized crates - both boys ride in Midwest's SUV side-by-side crates that are 42" long x 21" wide - good luck finding a bed like that off the rack. Any crate solution would have to be either completely custom or semi-custom from a vendor already making products for the side-by-side series. Then factor in the propensity of crate buckets to slosh around a bit and how much fun damp bedding his for everyone involved - especially when we're on the road for a weekend.

So, I ordered two Kennel Cushions - in tan - 41.5" x 20.5" (internal crate dimensions). The new cushions arrived and have been installed for about a week now, the custom sizing from the Kennel Cushion folks was spot-on, the mats fit perfectly in the crates. I've always lined their crates with standard bath-mats because they are grippy on the bottom, dry easily if they are spilled, shake out sand (moderately easily). I've kept the bath mats over the new kennel cushions, which does provide a bit of warmth in the winter too. I can then save the down blankets for supplemental warmth if conditions demand additional bedding.

On a couple of road-trips Teller has gotten too hot for his liking and has moved the bath mat around and laid directly on the vinyl - I get the impression that it probably runs a few degrees cooler than ambient. He's happy, Murphy is happy. Merry Christmas boys!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What's better than a day off?

How about a little bit of agility and the most marvelous blue skies that make the new snow glisten under brillant sun...we haven't had much sun lately and even less opportunity to get out and enjoy it. Teeter reps for Teller-Woo and then out to romp!
December 24th: The one and only action shot of Murphy today - one good romp followed by 
15 minutes of gimping around with snowballs in his feet. Next romp he's getting his own set of 
"Pawndoms" :-)

December 24th: Teller off for the ball.

December 24th: Purple Pawz Pawndom serving it's purpose.
Dry feet and protected nailbed.

December 24th: Murph watches Teller running around being foolish.

December 24th: Murph's Muppet face.

December 24th: Teller doesn't mind the snow and cold, he would,
however, like another chuck-it throw.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More tales of the toe

Woo's little outpatient kwik procedure was two weeks ago yesterday. He so dutifully kept his bandage on for three days, patiently waited for me to bag and sock him every time he went outside (and un-sock and un-bag him every time he came back inside) - all well and good until I dumped a water bowl on the floor and Teller decided to play in it...Wet bandages are always a bad thing so off it came. It looked pretty good and once I got it washed off it didn't smell bad either. Teller was really good about leaving his paw alone and continued on the antibiotics. Last Tuesday (a week after the injury) I let him work a little - not much - primarily teeter reps, back-chaining the dogwalk and a-frame contacts. Wednesday and Friday we put some miles on "Van-Essa" and logged some facility rentals - all good. It was nice to having him back working a bit - and we were both relived to get Teller out of boredom mode.

Teller with a much more masculine "Safety
Orange" colored vet wrap bandage....
We had a little back-slide on the toe this week when he was at his foot a little. I'm not sure if he's at the point where the healing is itchy, if he maybe bumped his foot and it was a little sore or if the cold and wet footing outside may have aggravated the cauterized kwik.

Nevertheless, I twice found his foot damp when it ought not to have been and Teller found himself in a hot-pink vet wrap bandage. Hot pink is what we have "in stock" around here because on my last tack store run hot pink was on sale. Dogs are color-blind after all so hot pink was what we got.

Smurf and Woo wear
size large (PURPLE)
Since the re-bandage I've been relying heavily on Pawz - I initially mentioned them in the follow-up toe post - but have since become even more enamored with the product. I've been wrapping his foot at night before bed and unwrapping it again in the afternoon - in between there are a dozen times that Teller has gone in and out - in snow, slush, freezing rain and ice. When the bandage is off I've been sending him outside in just a pawz. The goal is to keep that foot clean and dry as much as humanly possible. I've even worked him a bit while he's worn the bandage covered by a pawz, seemed to give him really good traction too. Yesterday, we even got out for our usual romp at the school - with his one orange and purple foot - which was hardly even visible in 6" of new snow.

The package of Pawz came 12 to a package, I've used the same 4 for the last three days, rotating them only because I've found that they take a while to dry off after usage. I'm certainly getting my investment's worth out of this batch, still water tight and intact after so many wearings. It does take a bit to get the hang of putting them on - but a little canine patience will go far. My challenge was to get them on and off without bumping the exposed nail bed, I've got a system now.

After the initial Pawz post I received some feedback that some Pawz weren't holding up well for some dogs (and some blog readers). I think to some extent freshness counts. When I first bought paws back in 2007 I had a similarly positive experiences and they really got me through a pickle in a heavily salted parking lot when there was literally no where else to walk the dogs (snowbanks and -10 degrees), but when I re-used the remaining boots from the same package a year or so later my dogs were busting through them within a few minutes. I'll confess to not really storing them properly (they were in a tote that was stored in my car all spring, summer, fall and that winter) - I'm not entirely sure the package was properly sealed and I'm sure like all latex products (balloons, gloves) they are prone to drying and cracking if stored improperly.

**I DO have to wonder though if at any point in the go to market process if the brand name "Paw-n-doms" was ever suggested. Pawndoms - just rolls off the tongue and everyone knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advanced Agility - December 23rd, 2010 - FAST

OK gang, here's the FAST sequence for tomorrow night...The plan:
You are to come up with at least two different runs - and map out how many points you hope to earn for each run. Don't worry, we'll have multiple walk-throughs so you won't have to store both plans in memory. Questions?

Cookie Challenge: Q's Tuna Surprise

One of the favorites around here (of all THREE critters) are my infamous Tuna Brownies. Even notoriously picky Q enjoys a kitty-sized slice of tuna fudge....Now, here's the challenge: update the recipe to gluten-free tuna brownies. Ready?

First, let me remind you that this recipe is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Every time I dump a can of tuna into the blender I can't help but think of that infomercial for BlendTec Blenders...Will it blend? Tuna, it turns out does blend - into this creamy frothy fishy milkshake monstrosity.

Another word of wisdom - unless you really like the smell of tuna you might want to bake these on a day when you can open windows, light lots of scented candles or transfer the baking outside to the BBQ grill (which I've done several times before).

3 cans of tuna (in spring water)
1 cup parmesan cheese
4 large eggs
1 package (1 lb) Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust mix (no yeast packet)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup warm water

Blend cans of tuna (and tuna juice), water, eggs, cheese and garlic until pureed and smooth. In a stand mixer, mix tuna puree with pizza mix (brown rice flour) - I highly recommend the paddle attachment for this one. Mix until well incorporated. Dough should be pretty stiff yet spreadable. Prepare cookie sheet with olive oil or butter, spread dough mixture out evenly and bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. While cookies are still warm cut into squares with a pizza cutter - alternatively you can "punch" with cookie cutters into attractive cookie shapes.

Q wouldn't pose with his cookie namesake. He did eat the 
dog-cookie's head off though.
Tuna brownies are always a  hit - with gluten or without. The same is true for mac and cheese brownies or liver brownies...In case anyone was wondering, I'll NEVER make another batch of liver brownies - way too much blender carnage. Tuna brownies remain a confirmed favorite and we'll probably make them gluten free again in the future!

As always I leave the cookies out overnight to let them dry out a bit - in this house with my devious yellow thieves I de-pan the cookie squares and when the oven has mostly cooled off I'll tuck the cookies back into the oven (typically before bed).

One of my favorite "will it blend" videos:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More birds....

On the last day of fall, the bird feeder brought to me:
Cardinal #1
December 21st - Kodak z981

Cardinal #2
December 21st - Kodak z981

Yellow finch?
December 21st - Kodak z981

Blue Jay
December 21st - Kodak z981

Black-Capped Chickadee
December 21st - Kodak z981

Aflatoxin is back...

Remember the Diamond Pet Food recalls of 2005? Remember hearing about all those dogs (and cats) that were poisoned by their dog food? Well(shockingly) history repeats itself - last week Kroger announced a recall on many of their dog food varieties due to aflatoxin contamination. This is astonishing to me - I'm truly disgusted by Kroger and it's manufacturer. Five short years after all of that tragedy and sadness dog food manufacturers and pet owners have not learned anything from that experience.

First - I can't believe that people still think it's a good idea to feed their dogs and cats corn. CORN...seriously. How well do YOU digest corn? Your dog doesn't do any better with it either - it's garbage filler - added to pet food because it's cheap and readily available. Some dog foods are 50% corn - if your dog had a choice between an ear of corn and a hamburger - which one do you think he'd choose?

Second - it's more and more apparent that pet food manufacturers are looking for the cheapest source not the quality of the source. There is no reason for any manufacturer to accept a shipment of any product without testing the safety of the product before it's even unloaded from the truck/train/etc. Aflatoxin is a fungus - why wasn't Kroger (or "Pride") screening incoming shipments of corn for the presence of fungus? Why didn't the farmer and wholesaler test for fungus? Where was quality control? Where are the checks and balances? I'm willing to bet that the answer to those questions was cost. It's expensive to admit that your produce has been contaminated, it's expensive to take a loss on an entire contaminated crop, it's expensive for Kroger to buy quality ingredients, it's expensive to test for quality of those ingredients, it's expensive to test every single batch of dog food rolling off the line, it's expensive to hold inventory until the results of those tests come back from the lab and it's really hard to produce cheap dog and cat food if you have to spend money on sourcing and testing.

Third - I can't fathom how people can STILL think that that bag of ol'roy ($15.99 for a 40lb bag) is adequate nutrition for their dogs - you get what you pay for - and in this case that bag of Pride Pet Food bought your four-legged friend a one-way trip to the emergency vet. There are so many good options out there that don't cost an arm and a leg - but also don't contain mass amounts of corn and fillers - the pet community needs to send a message to pet food manufacturers (even the good ones) that we're paying attention (which means we have to pay attention) to their manufacturing process and sourcing processes and we need to be looking at labels and voting with our dollars.

The link to Kroger

The Wiki article on Aflatoxin

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Magica Boys....

December 20th, 2010 - our annual holiday card

And to keep you in the holiday spirit - here's one of our favorite Christmas videos, by "Straight No Chaser":

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More avian stalking...

I spent some time with the camera stalking the bird feeders this morning...Some new visitors. I'm not sure the birds really love the placement of the current feeders - we haven't really been a high-volume feeding station. So I put out two additional feeders - hanging from the crabapple tree. It's entirely possible though that our neighborhood birds are simply over-fed - I've counted at least 20 feeders on the street side of my neighborhood - and I'm guessing there's at least another 10 in the backyards.
December 19th: I'm told this is a Downy Woodpecker.

December 19th: This little fellow spent about an hour at the feeders...
Alternating between the crabapple tree and the suet feeder. He must like 
the new "Peanut Crunch" flavored suet. 

December 19th: This robin wasn't exactly cooperating hanging out at the 
top of the tree....but I got him anyway.  

December 19th: playing with aperture settings on this one. This is
Mr. Cardinal on an f8.