Thursday, January 26, 2012

It Happened in January

Fourteen years ago, I was hypnotized by a green eyed, probably Chihuahua, puppy.

It was a beautiful January day, sunny and cold.  The Handsome One and I were on a mission to select a puppy to join our family.  While a disgruntled, probably Irish Wolfhound mix named Carla waited in the truck, THO and I walked through rows of dogs.  I remember wanting to order all of the doggies to line up and follow us out. (Self control sometimes prevails).

THO was hoping to find a good natured goofy dog, perhaps a lab mix.  He choose Rose.  Truly, as a puppy, Rose looked like she might be a lab mix.  However, she grew up to be a terrier mix.  Nevertheless, she is goofy.

The plan was to return home with one puppy.  Somehow or other, we came home with two puppies.  

Lester's eyes did not stay green nor did he retain the ability to hypnotise.  I think.  Though there are times when I find myself getting very sleepy. 

Here we are in January 2012.  Lester is a senior dog.  He's still pretty spunky but sometimes the spunk is obscured by stiffness.  His thirst has increased and with it the need to urinate.  Indeed, he can no longer hold it all night.  Thus, in the wee hours (if you'll pardon the phrase) Lester and I trudge down the stairs.  Actually, I do the stair trudging, Lester gets carried.  Naturally, I then let Lester carry himself outside to empty his own bladder.  

I've always liked January. It's usually cold and crisp and if we're lucky, snowy.  The holiday hubbub is over and the normal routine is welcome.  Some people do the resolutions thing in January.  That's too guilt inducing for my taste. I prefer to reminisce in January.  Sometimes I reminisce about other Januaries.

One more thing

Carla gave us dirty looks for many weeks before accepting Rose and Lester's intrusive presence.   It is said that some individuals are more difficult to hypnotize.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Idiopathy

Idiopathic happenings remain rampant around here.  Wouldn't you know, more idiopathy, just as things were looking up, instead of sideways, for Rose.  (Recall her vestibular adventure last November).

Now that Rose's head tilt is barely noticable we are trying out a new diagnosis: Canine Dementia.

If you've ever perused a dog magazine, you've seen those heartrending ads touting medication for doggy alzheimers.  A very cute dog with a slightly gray muzzle gazes vacantly at the camera.  The caption reads something like:  I'd say hello but I can't remember who you are.  At the bottom of the page some kind words from the makers of a pill helpfully tell you to consult your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Canine Dementia

-getting lost in familiar places
-wandering aimlessly
-forgetting house training
-staring blankly
-not interested in playing
-failing to recognize loved ones
-standing in corners
-sleep disturbance
-random barking

Here's the thing.  Not a great deal of research has been done on the aging dog.  Most of the recommended treatment is similar to that being offered to elderly human beings.

There are supplements and food stuffs believed to assist in slowing the brain decline that comes with age.  Examples include, B vitamins, CholodinR, vitamin C, SAMe, beta carotene and blueberries.  These substances may reduce the damage done by free radicals.  Throwing your fist in the air and chanting Free Radicals! may help too.

Specific to dogs, we have available to us, expensive prescription dog foods that contain important ingredients that may help curb the ruin being racked to your old dog's brain.  There is that very expensive pill your vet can prescribe.  L-deprenyl is purported to give dopamine a boost. If the theory that an old brain runs low on dopanime which brings on dementia is true, and the L-deprenyl actually does improve dopamine action, the pill may ease symptoms of dementia.

Or you can try to soothe your dog's distress with stuff like DAP, dog appeasing pheromone.  Sigh.  Lighting a lavender scented candle may work too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Society Finches

Up until recently, the Finches in my aviary have been Zebra Finches. 

Zebras are spunky plucky birds.  The males are easily distinguishable by their red cheeks and fancy designed wings.

The view has changed somewhat, thanks to the addition of three Society Finches.  Society Finches are not flashy.  They are white with tan or brown markings.  The male and female are difficult to tell apart.  (Some experts claim that the beaks are shaped, ever so slightly, differently between the sexes).  For most of us, the only way to be sure of the Society's sex is if she lays an egg.  Both sexes sing a soft sweet sound, rather like a muted cricket chirp.

Though generally bland in pattern, there is a variation in Society feathery that is quite kicky.  Some Society Finches have a tuft of feathers on their heads in a pattern resembling a bad toupee.

Why are they called Society Finches?  Because these birds tend to get along with everybody in the aviary.  Some bird species are aggressive or snooty, not so the Societies.  Although they have a clannish tendency to hang out together lined up on a perch, they aren't an exclusive clique.  There is no territory driven unpleasantness when Societies share a cage with other species.  Indeed, the Society will very kindly foster eggs abandoned by the more high strung types such as Gouldian Finches, who may wig out over some minor occurrence and neglect their parental duties.

Happily, the needs of the Society Finch mirror the needs of the Zebra.  They both eat the same seed mix, enjoy fresh greens, fruits and vegetables, eat grit, bathe in the community water bowl, sing and swing - they are overall delightful and beautiful little birds. It is an honor to have them in my home aviary.

More on Society Finches

see some nice pics at

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Breed Profile: Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu was bred to hunt in mountainous areas of Japan.  He specialized in flushing small game in dense undergrowth.  Shiba means brushwood.  Ibu means dog.

There are six native Japanese dog breeds. The Shiba Inu is the smallest.  At one time, there were three Shiba breeds named for their area of origin:

Shinshu Shiba, from Nagano Prefecture
Mino Shiba from Gifu Prefecture
Sanin Shiba from the northeast mainland

Following WWII and a distemper outbreak in 1952, the Shuba Inu were almost wiped out.  The breed was saved by interbreeding the three Shibas to create the Shiba Inu we know today.

Shiba Inus are small/medium sized dogs: 13.5-16.5 inches at the shoulder and 17-23 pounds.  Lifespan:  12-15 years.  They have short double coats in a variety of colors including black, black and tan, red, and tan.  There are usually white highlights found in various locations such as cheeks, chest, feet, tail and butt.  Does the Shiba Inu's coat shed?  Yes indeed.

A Shiba Inu is an energetic dog that needs a daily workout.  He is often described as dignified.  This is a nice way to say he can be rather haughty.  He also can be bossy, sometimes even aggressive toward other dogs. Shiba Inu are alert and bold, occasionally noisy - in other words, a good watch dog.

Fun fact:  the Shiba Inu has no dew claws.

Shiba Inu Manifesto

- I'll obey your arbitrary rule until I figure out a way to circumvent it

-  my coat will keep me warm outside, however, I prefer to alternate my time inside and outside as I choose

- you will earn my loyalty if you deserve it

Next Breed Profile:  Lhasa Apso!

see some nice pics
Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds by D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D
The Ultimate Enclyclodedia of Dogs by Dr Peter Larkin and Mike Stockman