Traction Footwear for Old Dogs

image Our eldest Border Collie, Spanky, is about thirteen years old (I’m not sure if his exact age because  he’s a rescue, but I know he is at least that old). He is having the same problem many old dogs suffer- weak rear quarters. This, combined with our wood floors, make it very difficult for him to get up from lying down. He lacks the muscle strength and coordination to get traction. Sometimes he collapses midway, sprawling out like a frog, and would need assistance to get back up. It’s sad to see once-spry dogs suffer these old-age maladies, and I’m sure it impacts their quality of life. So, we’ve gotten him some shoes to help!

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Country Living Expo & Cattlemen’s Winterschool

Washington State University - World Class Face to FaceHere is a plug for an upcoming event in Stanwood, WA that should be well worth attending. WSU’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is an amazing array of 135 classes on all sorts of topics,a jam-packed day of learning, plus a prime rib lunch. The hardest part is choosing which classes to attend! 😛

Here is a sampling of some of the topics:

Fruit Tree Maintenance, Hands on Hay judging, Frisbee Dog Training, Growing Giant Pumpkins and Vegetables, Building Your Own Greenhouse, Native Plants for Wetland Restoration, Arc Welding- Hands on, Soap Making, Cheese Making, Growing Vegetables Year Around, Wild Game Dressing in the Field, Raising and Processing Pastured Poultry, Palatability Control Points for Direct Marketed beef, pork and lamb, Plethora of Pasture and Forage Classes, Chain Saw Maintenance, Beginning through Advanced Specialty Canning, Frisbee Dog Training, Marketing Small Businesses, Cider Making, Honey Bees, Raising Beef, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Spinning, Weaving, equine classes and more.

How can you resist? Get yourself over to the Skagit County Extension website and register asap, as I understand the classes fill fast.

A Spell Caster’s Christmas-ey Complaint Letter

ChristmasComplaintWe got another anonymous note complaining about our livestock guardian dog’s living conditions again. It’s been a while since the last one. I logged another Sheriff report on it, and will keep the evidence, as usual, as the Sheriff has advised. That way, if anything ever escalates, we’ll have a clear history of harassment with handwriting samples and fingerprints, on which to prosecute.

The envelope said, in scrawling cursive, “To our neighbor” and was sealed with a cheerful Christmas sticker. 😉 Here is what the note said [sic]:

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Washing Down Comforters


When Kirk and I got married, he brought with him two favorite down comforters. I’d always chosen cotton and polyester blend bedding; because I let the dogs on the bed, I need to wash the bedding a lot! So I cringed as I saw this lovely pale pink comforter get dirtier and dirtier as Maggie slept on it every night. I know, we could just not let the dogs in the bed, and it’s really only Maggie who gets up there. But she’s such a cute snuggler, I just can’t resist! And Kirk doesn’t tell her no either! She usually sleeps by my pillow every night.

So, I went to the Web for advice on cleaning feather down comforters. It turns out, you can safely wash them in a front-loader washing machine; and I’ve done it several times now. The great thing about front-loaders is that they spin the load at such high speeds, they drive most of the water out of the load  with centrifugal force before it goes into the dryer. So, clothes- and down comforters- are almost dry when they come out of the wash! One of the many reasons I love my front-loader so!

I’ve read several recommendations to dry the comforter with some tennis balls, or tennis shoes, in the dryer- to help fluff the feathers via some pounding action. I did this the first time (we have lots of tennis balls for the dogs), and it worked, but have since found that it’s not necessary, at least in my dryer. The only caveat is that the comforter does have a weird smell when wet-exactly like a wet chicken, because it is! But, the smell goes away once dry. It takes a little longer than a regular clothes load to dry the comforter, and I remove it and rearrange it several times during the cycle to make sure all sides get equally dry. But, it’s the same as washing any other large comforter.

I guess this makes sense, after all, chickens dry fine after getting wet, so a feather down comforter should too, given the right conditions. So, hooray, we can keep the down comforters!

The Maremma: An Ancient Racing Breed

BronteRunning Not really. Maremmas are a centuries-old livestock guardian breed, of whom you’d expect general laziness and un-inventiveness. Really only confidence, territoriality and brawn is needed in such a dog. But Bronte is something else. Just passing her yearling birthday, she is still very silly, and creative in her daily play.

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Princess and the Pea: The Pursuit of a PC LGD Bed

BrontesBed An update for those who may still be losing sleep at night wondering if our livestock guardian dog, Bronte, has adequate shelter or not. I had originally built her an A-frame style house. I find that usually dogs prefer a cozy, den-like space for sleeping, as opposed to spacious ones, so I made it just her size. Dogs in my house will often cram into a cat crate or squish under a desk to take a nap, rather than choosing the broad, cushy beds I lay in the middle of the floor for them, or even the couch. There is just no accounting for their tastes, but I suspect it’s due to some long-harbored instinct to snooze in a protected space that conserves heat. Or something.

I also chose an A-frame design for Bronte originally because I didn’t want it to have a flat roof that would provide opportunity to do undesirable things, like launch at me from four feet in the air, or vault over fences.

But Bronte would have nothing to do with the A-frame.

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Grooming the Maremma Coat

I’ve been really happy with the coat quality of our livestock guardian dog, Bronte. Maremmas are long-coated dogs that do develop some mats in their winter coat. But Bronte’s coat shed nicely in the summer, and almost all of the mats fell off on their own. She had a few along her backline and behind her ears, so I trimmed them during the summer, just to keep her tidy.



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What Is Inside Gene’s Toe?

GenesLegsMy Border Collie, Gene, has been battling some kind of leg or foot problem off and on for several months. It caused her to not use her right front leg at all. Though she gets around famously on three legs- she can really cruise! The issue didn’t seem to be causing her any distress or discomfort, she went about her business like she wasn’t even aware that she was only working with three  legs!

At first I thought this was caused by a thorn or other sharp object in her foot, as originally I could see a little hole in her pad (or maybe even an insect bite or sting?). I could massage and palpate her whole leg and foot, and hyper-extend it in all directions, with no complaint from her- just a little sensitivity right on the pad was all I could find. I tried digging around in there with a needle and squeezing it, but could never produce anything large enough to explain the problem-just sand grains would come out of the hole (hmm). I tried a couple of different homeopathic remedies, and soaking in Epsom salts, thought the problem was gone, but then it came back. So, I finally sought the help of a vet to figure it out.

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