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Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Do you have a special place from your childhood, a place that you long to revisit in hopes of recapturing that perfect, carefree happiness of youth? For us it is the Grand Stand of coastal South Carolina. For as many years as we can remember, we have been making an annual pilgrimage to the beach. Autumn is our favorite time of the year. The weather is cooler and the kids are back in school. And if you roust yourself out of bed early enough, you can have the whole beach to yourself. Miles of white sand, interrupted only by the scurrying clusters of sandpipers.

Last week was our annual trek to the beach. It is as much a vacation for the doggies as it is for us. There is just something about splashing in the surf and dashing in the sand that turns all dogs into puppies. Bayley, the golden doodle, is very tentative about anything new. It took her a while to warm up to the breakers. Water in our pond isn’t nearly as aggressive!

wave jumping

There are several stores and restaurants in the area that allow dogs. One of our favorite stores is Orvis. Bayley wanted to try out the dog beds. It turns out she is a princess. Who knew? We had to stack three mattresses before she couldn’t feel the offending pea.

princess and the pea

Bayley wasn’t keen about making the acquaintance of the concrete cow in front of the ice-cream shop….

meeting cow

But the scary cow was soon forgotten…

ice cream lick

And there’s always time for a little horse’n’ around

horse'n around

The dogs loved doodling around the neighborhood in the rented golf cart. Here is a photo of Bayley “Driving Miss Mayzie”.

SONY DSC

But nothing topped the joy of a romp on the sand.

Beach Romp

splash

Ah, the beach…. Perfect serenity… An early morning stroll and the world is your oyster.

Dune

Hmmmm… An isolated set of steps… It must the the “Stairway to Heaven”

stairway to heaven

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In my opinion, you are never too old to enjoy a day at the county fair. A day on the midway just brings out the kid in you. All the splendid smells battle for your attention; the greasy smell of fries and funnel cakes, the cloyingly sweet smell of spun cotton candy and spiced almonds, the earthy smells wafting from the livestock barns….

But, according to my Road Warrior, the smell of burning diesel fuel is something akin to perfume.

Tractor Pull

Every year, like a rite of summer’s passing, we always go to the Shenandoah County Fair. And the highlight of the day is the tractor pull. Farmers from all across the land bring their iron work horses, many still plugging away after half a century of hard work, and compete to see who can drag a heavy weight the furthest down the track. Amidst belching smoke, spewing dust, and ear splitting unmuffler-ed engine roar, we sit in the bleachers, eating corndogs, and cheering them on. It’s loud, it’s smelly, it’s dirty, and it’s FUN.

A visit to the animal barns is my favorite part of the fair. There’s guaranteed to be a stall of baby piglets

Photo by Kent Corley

Photo by Kent Corley

And some snuggly baby goats

snuggley goats

Then for a tour around the midway, we toss all dietary concerns to the wind, and sample our way through the mélange of greasy foods.

I learned last year that there is an age at which one must gracefully withdraw from the stomach churning, gravity defying carnival rides, but I did enjoy a spin on the broncing bull.

photo by Kent Corley

photo by Kent Corley

And we tried our hands at a couple of the midway games. Some games you just know that the odds of winning are astronomical, but there is one game where there is a guaranteed winner every time. This is the one where you aim a water pistol at a target and the first person to get their horse to the finish line first wins. I WON. First time. So I got my pick of prizes. I chose the giant snake for Bayley.

Here she is wrestling the enormous boa constrictor, fighting to the death

Snake wrestling

But apparently they worked it all out. I think they are even French kissing

kissing snake

All in all, it was a FAIRLY good day.

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soup

Ever just have the TV on for background noise? Our TV is on anytime one of us is in the house, but we rarely actually sit down to watch anything. Such was the case last week when my attention was captured by a chef showing us how to make gazpacho. So what’s so exciting about that? Gazpacho is gazpacho. But there, my friend, you are wrong. This was Watermelon Gazpacho, and it was weird enough that I stopped what I was doing to watch him toss the garden into a blender.

I was in the market for a new and refreshing lunch recipe, as a good friend of mine was coming over to give me a hand with doggie hygiene…..dental hygiene…..for dogs……

My friend is a retired dental hygienist (for people) who has been scaling her own dogs’ teeth for years. She offered to drive an hour and a half out to the farm to clean my two dogs’ choppers. She does this without anesthesia. Mayzie, the bearded collie, behaved like an angel. But I didn’t expect anything less of her. She is a perfect lady. Bayley, the year and an half golden doodle, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. But with Bayley on her side, and me laying fully stretched out on top of her, we were able to keep her still enough to finish the job. Both dogs were over and done with in less than half an hour and it saved me at least $600 over having the vet do it.

Bayley and Mayzie

So the least I could do was to make lunch. I served the Watermelon Gazpacho and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches. And the soup was DELICIOUS!

I checked out a dozen or more recipes online and combined bits and pieces of several recipes to come up with my own signature dish. I’m going to show you how I made it. It’s super easy.

Ingredients
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chunked
4 stalks of parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Extra basil leaves for garnish
3 cups of watermelon, cubed (I used a small, round, seedless melon)
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt and dash of pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

You can use a food processor, or a heavy duty blender. I used my Vitamix that we bought at a state fair back in the 80’s. It’s a work of art, don’t you think?

vitamix

First, assemble all of your ingredients. Remember, there is no substitute for the freshest and ripest veggies and fruits.

ingredients

Peel and seed the tomatoes. No cutting corners here. Peeling and seeding is not an option.

tomatoes

tomatoes

Peel and seed the cucumber. I like to use the long English cukes, because the seeds are really tiny. But particularly if you are using a regular cucumber, you need to remove the seeds. It’s easy. Just quarter the cucumber lengthwise, and cut the ridge off along with the seeds.

cucumber

Chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

chopped ingredients

melon

Throw the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley into the blender and blend until smooth.

in blender

Continue to blend and add the peaches.

Now toss in the watermelon. You have a choice here. Do you want it slightly chunky, or smooth? I wanted a little texture of the watermelon, so I only pulsed the machine a few times.

Then I stirred in the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper so as not to further mash the watermelon. Check it for seasoning according to your taste.

Place the soup in the fridge for at least 3 hours until it is chilled.

One of the recipes I found suggested sprinkling Feta cheese on top. Initially I was a little conflicted about the addition of the Feta, but I had some on hand, so I did a taste test with and without, and “with” won hands down. If fact, it totally “made” the soup.

soup

So take my word for it and give it a try. Just be sure to crumble the cheese up really fine and just sprinkle on a light dusting.

This is a recipe that begs for summer fresh ingredients, so try it now and enjoy before the season ends.

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For those of you that have been following the story of my vagabond peacock, you know that one of my males, Farina, flew the coop in January, was given up for dead, replaced with a peahen, Darla, and then miraculously returned after a 6 month winter wonderland adventure.

But this story is not about Farina, but about a wooden egg that I placed in a nest box that we fashioned for Darla.

Darla and Buckwheat

She is our first peahen and we were told by the breeder, that she would not be a year old until this summer, and it was rare that one year olds produced any eggs. But we wanted to be prepared just in case.

So we made this nest box and placed it in the corner of the ‘pea pod’ where we had seen her resting. And to give her a clue that this was her nest, I placed a wooden egg in it.

nest box

She liked the box, and snuggled up in it all winter. Every day that I would go in the ‘pea pod’ I would see the wooden egg right where I had put it. Last week, I glanced at the box, and the egg was not there. I thought to myself that it had probably gotten buried in the straw, and I would look for it later.

When I started to clean the aviary, I noticed the egg was under the perch.

egg under perch

That really threw me for a loop. How it the world did it get there. The peas couldn’t pick it up in their beaks. I didn’t think a mouse could get it out of the nest box and roll it outside. Road Warrior thought that one of the birds had kicked it out of the nest. But to what purpose? Is Darla like the “Princess and the Pea”, (no pun intended) and is too sensitive to sleep with a hard lump in her bed?

I was in a hurry, so I left the wooden egg where it lay under the perch. Then yesterday, I noticed that the egg had been moved yet again. It was now all the way on the other side of the aviary in a corner. What the heck. Are they in there playing soccer?

corner

I proceeded to clean under the perches, and lo and behold, there is the egg right where I saw it last week, and in the corner……another just like it!! Mystery solved. Darla had laid two eggs. She obviously wasn’t interested in sitting on them, and we’re not interested in hatching any little peachicks, so I collected the two eggs for examination.

They are not as big as I expected. The white ones on the left are the 2 pea eggs, and the brown one came from one of our chickens.

egg comparison

The big difference is in the size of the yolk.

Yolk comparison

I scrambled them up and fed them to the dogs with their dinner. Two paws up from the pups!!

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Depends on what you’re talking about. And what the heck is a doodle, anyway. A doodle is a mixed breed dog that is at least half poodle, usually mixed with a Labrador retriever, “Labradoodle” or a golden retriever, “Goldendoodle”. They are a very popular hybrid dog, because they are super cute, and have a marvelous personality. They are often said to be non-shedding and hypoallergenic. But don’t count on it. They are, after all, a mixed breed, and will exhibit characteristics of both parents. They may be more poodle-y or more retriever-y.

Our doodle, Bayley, is a Goldendoodle. She is a backcross (F1b), meaning that her mother was a goldendoodle that was bred back to a standard poodle, making Bayley essentially 75% poodle.

summer do

Christmas Bayley

Now Bayley doesn’t shed her fur, but she sheds everything else in nature. Depending on the season, she sheds mulch, catkins, grass clippings, leaves, dirt, and even snow. Her cottony soft fur acts like a magnet and attracts absolutely everything in the yard and woods to her. Then, as soon as she passes through the door, the magnetic polarity reverses, and she promptly sheds everything all over the house.

Something to consider if you are a neatnik and are looking for a no maintenance dog. But if you are looking for the most devoted, fun loving, affectionate, and adorable companion, then keep the broom handy, and go for it.

Mup Pup

Snow ball

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To begin, start with one goldendoodle and add 20 inches of fresh, clean, new fallen snow.

Mix well for two minutes.

(Please accept my apologies for the orientation of this video. The Road Warrior left town with the camera, so I had to resort to my iphone for video. I held the phone wrong. Click on the little square at the bottom right of the video to view full screen, and hit escape to return.)

Enjoy

pupsicle

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After I posted Bayley’s video of her performing the “Shell Game”, I had several dog people say they’d like to try it with their dog. I thought it might be useful if I shared a few tips that we learned while working out the bugs in this trick.

1. Its best to use clay pots with a drain hole. They are heavy enough that the dog can’t tip them over, and the hole allows the scent of the treat to come through.

2. Start with one pot with the treat under. Wait for the dog to touch the pot with his nose. This will come naturally. Reward the first nose touches with lots of praise. When he is doing this consistently, add your command, such as “find it”.

3. Get more demanding and wait for the dog to touch the pot with the paw. I think natural frustration on the dog’s part will make this happen. Bayley kept nudging the pot with her nose. I had to brace the pot with my hand to keep her from pushing it or knocking it over. Eventually she tried to move it with her paw. At first contact with paw, praise and reward.

4. Keep doing just this one pot for a day or so, or until the dog consistently touches the pot with the paw. You want to dog to have a clear understanding that he is supposed to touch the pot with the paw to get the treat.

5. Next introduce a second pot. At first, just place it next to the “treat” pot and don’t move anything. Encourage the dog to sniff the two pots and touch the correct one. When he does that consistently, then start swapping the position of the two pots and using your command.

6. Again, when that step is solid, put out the 3rd pot. Let him select the correct pot a few times before shuffling them up.

It really didn’t take more that 2 days for Bayley to get this down. The hardest part was transitioning from the nose touch to the paw touch. She had already been taught to nose touch on command, so we had to get past that. But she loves doing this trick.

TIP: Use very high value treats that smell a lot. I started with weenies, and I would rub the weenie bit around the inside of the drain hole to make the smell stronger. Always use the same pot for the treat, so they all don’t end up smelling the same.

When I bought my pots, they had raised letters on the front. Two of them say “herbs” and the third says “basil”. I always use the “basil” pot for the treat. that way I can easily keep track of the right pot, and I tell people that that is her secret for success, because she always looks for the pot that says “basil”.

Have fun with this and let us know how it goes.

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A Master at the Shell Game!

Bayley the Golden Doodle has been in continuing education for the last year to try to suppress her natural “effervescence”. Her last class in the current obedience session is tomorrow night and as a requirement to pass the course, the dogs have to perform a trick. This is what we are going to do.
Wish us luck!

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Bayley's head

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Never were truer words spoken!

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A goldendoodle’s first Christmas

Bayley with bow

Having an overly energetic puppy can bring a lot of extra stress around the holidays when you are introducing a lot of new and enticing objects to the dog’s already over stimulating environment. I can imagine the puppy saying, “Wow, you’re bringing me a tree! I can climb on it, chew and tug on the branches, lift my leg on it, scratch my back on the lower limbs. And you’re hanging toys all over it! What fun! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”

And then, if you are the sort that likes to tempt fate and throw caution to the winds, you will put gifts under the tree. Wrapped in PAPER… The greatest puppy attractant in the world. Lured by the temptation to dig his teeth into the wrapping and hear the sound of rending paper, the pup gets close enough to sniff the boxes.

Nostrils flare, tongue lolls… brain registers the delectable scents of candy, nuts, cheese and crackers, and DOG TREATS! A dog’s Nirvana right there under his very own tree.

These were my imaginings… my fears. I wrote a Christmas poem, “The Spirit of Christmas” which I posted here a couple of weeks ago, detailing the scenario that kept playing in my brain.

But all these worries were unwarranted. Bayley totally ignored the tree, the ornaments, and the presents that we placed underneath….Until Christmas morning and we started passing out the gifts.

“Let the games begin”

The sound of ripping paper was unbearably alluring. Bayley wanted to assist in unveiling the contents of the boxes, but her teeth didn’t stop at the paper. Cardboard and plastic were fair game as well.

In the interest of self preservation, we starting tossing the sheets of wrapping paper into the middle of the floor, where Bayley immediately set forth to reduce it to confetti. She occupied herself in this fashion all morning.

Even her Christmas gifts of chewies and stuffies were not as much fun as the Great Pile of Paper.

Bayley's Paper Pile 1

Bayley's Paper Pile 2

I had to overcome my natural OCD tendencies to keep the room neat and tidy…. to put each piece of paper as it comes off a gift into a trash bag, to gather all saveable bows into a box, to collapse all gift boxes into a pile for use next year. And you know what, I had a blast. One of my best gifts of all was watching my pup having the time of her life on her first Christmas.

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