Saturday, December 23, 2006

Freeze Frame

My new computer has a built in webcam and I was taking some videos of Abby and I playing frisbee. Then I started playing around with freezing the frames.
I'm planning on making another music video with some of the new video clips...except that SOME people think that the fact that I have the trick movies and the music video of Abby up here is extremely nerdy. But honestly, I am writing a blog for my dog. You really can't get nerdier than this, so I think that whatever I do from here on in, I'm pretty safe.
Oh and how cool would those pics be if I had a camera that took decent action shots (**fingers crossed for new camera**).


My dog is such a brat! We've been back at my parents' house since Tuesday, which is the official residence of "The Fuzz" (aka Peppy and Darla). A couple of minutes ago Darla was sharpening her claws on her scratching post, and Abby started to lunge at her. I told her "no", which stopped her and also stopped Darla. Then a few minutes later Peppy came along to scratch the post and Abby looked at him, looked at me, thought about it for a second, then slapped me in the face! It was like she was thinking, "if you won't let me go after him, you're gonna get it!". To further demonstrate her rudeness, Abby is tossing her gross slimy ball onto my keyboard this very moment. And, when I ignore her, she backs up and lies down forcefully with a loud grunt, then stares at me like I'm stupid.
I think Abby has been only dog for far too long now. She's getting spoiled by the one-on-one attention! That will be solved in the next two weeks though. I'm leaving the day after tomorrow for a two week vacation. Abby is going to stay with her boyfriend Tycho for the first week (and his big brother Zeus, who Abby respects due to fear for her life), and with my roommate for the second week. During the second week my roommate might also acquire another foster dog. So all together, Abby should get over her only-dog syndrome in the next few weeks! This will be the longest I've ever left her, but I'm so glad that I have friends who are willing (erm...can be coerced) into taking Crazy off my hands.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Abby and Darla

Friday, December 15, 2006

Darla demonstrates her impressive IQ

My parents are always trying to convince me that our newest cat, Darla, is smarter than she looks. They say that just because her eyes are slightly crossed and she falls off the bookshelf sometimes doesn't mean she has any less brain power than Abby.

Darla: Oh my gosh! The bag is moving! What's going on?
Peppy: Ha! Pesky creature. She'll never find me out.

Tonight I was talking with my mom, and apparently they have no electricity because of the windstorm last night. All of a sudden my mom yells to my dad:

"Quick! Get Darla! She's waving her tail back and forth over the candle! Hurry!!"

My dad rushed over and grabbed Darla, and then I heard him say,

"I think it's too late, her fur is all singed off in one spot"

Ha! Would my dog ever wave a body part over a candle? I don't think so.
The only thing Abby does to make me wonder about her smarts is pulling the door closed really hard when she wants to go out. Oh, and tonight she kicked a bucket (that was on the lawn) accidentally after she pooped, and scared herself so much that she came racing inside. Other than that, she's brilliant. Mostly.

"Dig your claws into my back!" "Click!"

I just taught Abby the most useless (and painful, for me) trick: She now knows how to jump up on my back when I bend over, and lie down with her head next to my head, over my shoulder. I definitely didn't think it through, because I now have scratches all over my back - oww! I'd like to teach her to sit on my feet when I'm on my back with my legs up in the air (I've been watching too many disc dog videos). I think I need some stronger leg muscles first for that one.

We had a funny moment with the "jump on my back" trick when she turned around to jump off, and started to slide accidentally...and took my pants down with her. I'm glad we were practicing alone in my room.

I'm also teaching her to put her toys in a box. That one still needs some work (I started teaching it with a really tiny box, and I should start with a big box instead).

Also on the list to teach is "where's your nose?". I'm having a lot of trouble with that one, since she doesn't care when I put a little piece of tape on her nose. "Let me sleep in past 8:00" would be another good trick, but that one doesn't seem to be going too well either ;)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hindsight is 20/20

A woman at the field this morning was encouraging her 1 yr old Duck Toller to chase Abby while Abby was chasing the frisbee. I don't really care, and it's good practice for Abby to just focus on her toy and ignore the dog...but, for the sake of the other dog's training I wanted to ask the woman, "Do you realize how many potential problems you're causing??". Before Abby would play fetch with me I thought it was 'cute' that she'd chase other dogs instead of her own toy. If I could go back, there would be a LOT of training to 'leave it' and play with me instead of learning how fun it is to chase other dogs.

It seems like I'm making chasing other dogs sound like Abby's major issue, but it really isn't. It's just the issue that I deal with the most right now. Abby has snapped at 2 of my roommates since September - first when one was rolling around on the floor laughing, and then at the other when she bent down over Abby and put her face right up to Abby's. I've been dealing with those by management mostly, since I really don't know what else to do. I don't let strangers pet Abby, and I keep a constant eye on her around the house. She gets put in a 'stay' if people are running/jumping, and my roommates have been asked to please not put their faces in Abby's face. I've been doing some training with leaning over her, petting her head, putting my face right up to hers and praising/treating for calm behaviour. Not sure how well that translates to anyone but me, though, since she has always been fine with anything I do to her. She is very much a one person dog.

The guarding me issue is also a big one. She has quite a range of tactics to try and get people out of my room. She'll jump on them, push them with her body, slap their faces if they're sitting down, lick their faces frantically (not in a nice way), jump on them from the back as they come into the room (if she doesn't notice right away). When I have a bigger room next term I plan to keep treats by the door, then have her go to her bed when people come in and they can throw some treats to her for staying. Right now my room is tiny and an awkward shape (narrowest part is at the door, and that's where her bed is - my desk is at the other end of the room - so perfect guarding spot from her point of view). I've basically given up on trying to change her reaction to people coming into my room this term, and have resorted to making her stay in one spot. I've been a lot firmer with her when I am sitting next to someone, or leaning towards them. She has to stay where she was instead of leaping up and trying to butt in between us.

On a better note, Abby is such a smart girl! I set up an agility course in the living room tonight - made a tunnel under the coffee tables, had a board for targets, some broom jumps in the hall and her bed at the end of the hall. She had so much fun and I was able to call her off obstacles even in that tiny space. Right now we're mostly practicing going 'left' and 'right' over jumps, and perfecting her targets (she seems to think targets are only for home practice, and not for class or trials...)

We're going to try herding in January, so I get to find out how Abby is with sheep! Should be exciting. And I'd like to try lure coursing in the spring, and also get more into Rally-O. Nuttymutt can do it all (with the possible exception of herding - I'll have to see if any sheep get eaten)!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Catching Yawns

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silly Puppy

Chasing Dogs

Had a very frustrating morning at the park. I am now resolved to bring the long line every time we go play fetch. Abby was in full chase mode the whole time, and was especially focused on one dog who isn't usually there in the morning, who was waiting for another dog to get up and play. Abby can always tell when a dog is waiting for something really exciting, and those are the ones that get her going. Today it took quite a bit of effort to call her away from the dog. First I tried 'putting pressure' on her by walking towards her and telling her "enough", but she started her new behaviour (as of 2 weeks ago or so) of racing in circles just outside of me and the dog she is fixated on. When she does that she looks exactly like border collies starting out at herding, with the handler standing with the sheep inside the circle that the dog is making. But...this wasn't sheep, and I was very VERY frustrated that I couldn't get her to stop (she wouldn't down, sit..anything). So I walked away and called her (had to jump around, act all excited, and use all the "something exciting is about to happen words" like "ready?? get your Frisbee!!"), then let her tug and grab a few close, fast throws of the Frisbee as a reward.

I'm just so pessimistic about the long line really making a difference. Right now me saying "NO leave it" obviously has no effect on her when she's set on chasing. I almost always get the 'no' in early enough, and sometimes it does deter her. If the other dog is really excited, though, it's like she doesn't even hear me. So I'm worried that the long line will only work when it's on her, and she'll just keep chasing dogs when I don't attach her to it. She gets so out of her mind frantic that it's hard to see anything working. I guess I should start out by being consistent and using the long line every time so that she never gets to chase anymore.

I guess I should be thankful that she is focused on her ball/Frisbee 90% of the time, otherwise I wouldn't even be able to let her run at all. This chasing really does have to stop, though. Today it had escalated to her running in and nipping at the dog's shoulders. The more I tried to get her to stop, the more frantic she got. That should be telling me that what I'm doing is not working. Maybe I'll also bring the whistle that she responds really well to. I talk to her way too much, so I'm sure my voice becomes background noise. Maybe the whistle will snap her out of it? I don't want to 'ruin' the whistle though by having her not respond to it at the park...

Hopefully my roommate's next foster dog will be a fetch maniac and I'll be able to work on desensitization a lot more easily.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


How's this for scary?

I found this picture on a flyball team site. The resemblance is a little scary actually. The fact
that the dog is a Border/Jack is even scarier.

Ok, so I know that no matter what her (lack of) breed is, she's still the same dog...but for the love of God, not a Border/Jack!

And as if this could get any scarier, this is Abby's brother (the blurry photo), and the above Border/Jack's brother:

One week down, one more to go

Another night of studying...sigh.
Can we please play now?
Happy with a bully stick (it lasted for the crucial crunch time before 3 exams)
In her self imposed torture position, under my desk
Pouting under the bed

It's been one week of exams and I'm happy to report that Abby knows no new tricks! She does now have a music video though...

Abby's music video

She has been one bored puppy this week, and has taken to making pitiful whining noises while staring at me from behind my doorway curtain. The only thing that seems to stop her is making her leave the room whenever she starts whining (it got un-cute reallly fast, about 2 hours into studying for microbi). We've been going to the field every morning for at least 45 minutes of frisbee, so that gets her tired enough to sleep for the next couple of hours. We have a short lunchtime play session, and then a half hour evening walk and some training games. She seems very confused as to why I'm home all the time. All morning she expects me to leave for class, and jumps up and runs into her crate at every one of the "signs" - if I close my laptop, brush my teeth, get dressed...It's hard to convince her that I'm not leaving.

It's funny that she still runs into her crate when she knows I'm leaving, since she never gets locked in there anymore. My roommates say that she comes out a couple of minutes after I leave, but as I'm leaving, she is always curled up all the way at the back. She won't come out, doesn't want me to touch her. She is most definitely pouting. When I'm gone she sleeps on my bed and will only come out of my room if coaxed. Such a mama's girl! She won't even play with anyone if I'm not home, especially now that Tryp is gone. He was able to get her to play even when I wasn't home.

Abby's doing pretty well with strangers/dogs while on leash right now, but a lot of that is that I have much better management. She has started looking at me automatically when we see people. I still have to convince her to look at me when there are other dogs. She hasn't lunged at anyone since moving here in September. There was one incident on the field where a man started racing around suddenly to try and get his dog to play, and Abby noticed before I did. She ran after him and jumped on him.

Here's where we are right now with the common triggers/issues:
-people walking past us: she'll automatically look at me most of the time; looks really nervous when it's dark out and people come towards us
-dogs while on leash: we do a detour of at least 15 ft and I can get her to look at me; dogs barking at her will get a reaction from her 50% of the time
-dogs playing fetch: she can be called off the less hyper/enthusiastic ones, but still having a lot of trouble if the dog plays ball Abby-style (ie. super hyped up and excited)
-skateboards: haven't been around one in awhile, but last time we were too close and she screamed and spun
-squirrels: no hope whatsoever of getting her to look at me if they're close, but she will sit while staring at the squirrel

On a side note, Abby is quite good with puppies (off leash only, on leash with other dogs has been a disaster almost every time). There are three yellow lab puppies that go to the field and she is very tolerant of them (much more tolerant than I'd expect her to be). An adorable 10 week old border collie puppy visited yesterday, and she was very gentle with him (except when she smacked him on the head for jumping on me, then play bowed to him...weirdo).
She is much less tolerant with 'teenage' dogs, around 5-9 months. She tells them off constantly. She has been good with other dogs on the field lately, as long as we only go when there aren't big groups of dogs (we went when there was a big group during the snow, which was a mistake. One dog went for Abby after Abby was bossy, and Abby in turn went for every dog within reach, one at a time).

One last thing: She will finally play tug with her leash (funny that I tried so hard to teach her when I tried for years to un-teach Sam). She'll only do it on the 'tug' command though, and it's handy for when I want to play with her but didn't bring a toy. We went to a field tonight and I ran around with her and practiced having her not jump on me (a lot of 'off's, stopping, turning into her...and a couple of accidental leg lifts as she was starting to jump). We alternated running with leash tugging, which she really enjoys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Trick Videos

Here are some videos of the tricks Abby learned today and during midterms:

Get me a drink

Get your collar and leash

Open/close the door

The Exams Begin

Well, it's day one of the exam period and Abby can now find and bring me her collar and leash. By the end of these three weeks I'll either have a genius dog, or a very bored dog...and my guess is that the number of new tricks that Abby learns will be inversely proportional to how well I do on my exams. During midterms she learned to open the back door to let herself in and close it behind her, and also to get me a drink out of the mini-fridge. Let's just say that midterms didn't go so well :D

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pre-snow Frisbee Fun

Again with the annoyance at my camera! Any movement at all is's so frustrating. Here are the results of trying to capture Abby last week in full frisbee glory:

Best place to drop a frisbee is in the mud puddle, or course.
That way you'll know where it is when you're done drinking.

This is really weird. Why is she so upright??

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If I don't know what it is...I should scream at it.

Add 'sleds' to Abby's fear list...actually...more like list of things that really really annoy her. She didn't seem too scared of the happy sledding child that she was screaming at. Also add loud chopping (garlic, in this case) noises to the list. Oh - and roommates laughing loudly. Sigh.

Abby's Words

Here's a list of the commands and words that Abby knows (95 right now!):

The Basics (21):
  • Focus (look at me)
  • Sit
  • Off (the person, chair, couch, table..etc.)
  • Down (lie down)
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Stand
  • Up (jump up on something, front legs only in lap)
  • All the way up (jump all the way onto lap)
  • Alright (release word)
  • Gentle (take treat gently)
  • That’s enough (to stop begging, etc.)
  • Drop (emergency down)
  • Go pee
  • Walk
  • Cookie
  • Oops (didn't do right command)
  • That's enough (stop what you're doing)
  • No
  • Yes (marker like the clicker)
  • Ready (something's about to happen like ball being thrown)
  • By me (walk away - added Jan 07)

Walking commands/commands to move her (28):

  • Let's go (walk on loose leash)
  • Heel (walk by left side)
  • Place (left side of me)
  • Switch (right side of me)
  • Front (sit facing me and look at me)
  • Around me (all the way around me)
  • Swing (around me and into left heel position)
  • Back (walk backwards)
  • Slow (walk slow)
  • Fast (walk fast)
  • Stop (don’t move)
  • Go in your house (crate)
  • Go to your bed
  • Find [insert me, my parents, roommates or other pets by name], 7 total
  • Where's ________? (same as find)
  • Wait (pause)
  • Get in the car
  • Get in the back (of the car)
  • Go inside (the house)
  • Go outside (the house)
  • Here (come to where I'm pointing)
  • Through (go between my legs)

Using her feet (6):

  • Shake (right foot)
  • Paw (left foot)
  • Lift (leg, for drying or if leash is caught)
  • Wave
  • High Five
  • Hit (the ground when lying down or anything I point to)

Using her mouth (16):

  • Leave it (the garbage, dropped piece of food, etc.)
  • Take it
  • Speak
  • Quiet
  • Give a kiss
  • Get 'it' (what I'm pointing to)
  • Get the ball
  • Get the toy (a fleecy toy, working on learning specific ones)
  • Get the frisbee
  • Bring it to me
  • Out (spit something out)
  • Tug
  • Catch
  • Get your collar (and bring it to me)
  • Get your leash (and bring it to me)
  • Go get a drink

Other tricks (13):

  • Right (spin right)
  • Left (spin left)
  • Touch (her nose to my open hand)
  • Take a Bow (added Jan 07)
  • Get me a drink (open mini fridge and bring me the water bottle inside)
  • Close the door (fridge or back door)
  • Get the door (open the back door by pulling the rope on the handle)
  • Sleep (lay head on floor)
  • Go around (a post, etc.)
  • Roll (onto side)
  • Bounce (straight up in the air)
  • Check for squirrels (put front legs up on a tree)
  • Crawl (working on it)

Agility words (11):

  • Go…. (for out-work)
  • Tunnel
  • A-frame
  • Walk-it
  • Table
  • Weave
  • Chute
  • Over
  • Hoop
  • Teeter
  • Target (2 on 2 off)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Are you suuure this isn't a piece of meat? It sure tastes good!

Death to Squeaker

Abby has this really weird and funny thing for the squeakers that are found in dog toys. I bought a pack of them because I was going to try and use them for training, or try and make some toys out of them. Turns out I don't need to do anything with them - they provide plenty of entertainment all on their own. She makes the same faces to scare the squeaker into surrendering as she does with ants and spiders, except she leaves out the part where she rolls on the offending bug to try and kill it. With the squeaker she prefers the toss in the air and squash tactics.

I see you there squeaker. Don't you dare make any moves!
I'm gonna getcha! Gotcha!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Tryp coming to live with us was definitely the highlight of this term. He was my roommate's foster dog, and he lived with us from the beginning of October until this past Saturday. He got adopted by such a nice couple, which is the only thing that makes it ok that he's gone. It's just so hard once you get used to a dog and start to really love them! I hope that the next foster dog is as awesome as Tryp, but it would be pretty hard to measure up to him. He's good with pretty much everything - he's just one of those laid back, mellow dogs. He's got tons of energy for his age (somewhere between 8-11 probably), and he was probably pretty wild when he was even younger. Now he's just a sweet, perfect guy.
Abby will probably miss him even more than I do - she and Tryp were in love! They wrestled every day for hours.

Sept-Dec 2006: Abby Lives with Me!

Practicing "table" in our yard.

After living at school away from my doggies for 3 years, I finally get to have Abby live with me this year. It's my first year living off campus, in a dog friendly garden suite. It is so wonderful to get to go to school and have my puppy here all the time! At first I was really worried about having enough time. Abby and I seem to have adapted to each other really well though. She settles down very well for the most part when I have to study, and is ready to go when I take a break to play with her or take her out. She pretty much does what I do. She is my little shadow - the only time she isn't with me is when I go into the bathroom and shut the door. Then she runs into my roommate's bedroom to get a shoulder massage, and when she heard the toilet flush, she's right outside the bathroom door again. It's pretty funny that my one roommate knows exactly when I go into the bathroom and for how long!
Abby and I have a pretty regular routine. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning we go to the big field by our house from 9:00-9:45 to play ball or frisbee. We know the regulars there - Baxter and Franny. Abby doesn't interact with them (too into her toy) but she seems to like being around them. Tuesday and Thursday mornings we do a leash walk from about 8:00-8:30. Tuesday night is agility, and Thursday is right before the weekend when I have lots of time to spend with her. Our routine is going to be a bit different now, I guess, but when Tryp was here we'd do a long evening walk from about 6:00-7:30 every night (but Tuesday). Saturday and Sunday mornings we went to the school field from about 10-11, then did a short evening walk. Now that Tryp isn't here it will be hard to get going on those dark, cold, rainy evenings. I'm sure Abby will help get me out the door with her funny whining (only funny when I'm not trying to study for something!).

Destuffing her Kong on my Microbi notes
Being a student and having a dog at the same time definitely isn't for everyone, but it is so so good for me. I really use Abby as a de-stresser. She reminds me that there is more than just school in my life. Yes, I have become basically a recluse except for going for walks...but I like it that way! Sadly, I'd rather spend Friday night curled up on the couch watching a movie with Abby than out partying. I am glad that I had three years with no real responsibility so that I could find out what a normal university student's life is like. If I hadn't, I'd probably wish I could go out all the time and that I didn't have to take care of Abby. But this way I feel like I've been there, done that, and can now do what I really want to do - and it feels like such a privilege to get to go to school and have a dog at the same time!

There are times when it's hard having Abby, mostly when she misbehaves. Sometimes I really wish I could take her anywhere and not worry obsessively - I wish I could hike with her anywhere, and take advantage of the fact that she won't ever run away when off leash, and bring her to fields even when there are kids playing or sports games. But...I can' least not yet, maybe not ever. Tonight was a relatively bad night actually. I brought Abby to the field because of all the snow, which I don't usually do in the evenings because there are lots of dogs. But I really wanted to let her run around with them. At first she was fine, but then we started playing with the frisbee (maybe I should have just left it at home..but I really need it as a distraction for her sometimes!). There was another dog who kept stealing it, and would snarl Abby away from it. That dog's owner took the frisbee away from her dog and gave it to Abby...her dog then jumped on Abby snarling, and Abby ran away and jumped on 3 other dogs in quick succession snarling at them. They'd done nothing to her at all. This keeps happening - she doesn't go for the original dog, but redirects towards other, meeker dogs instead. I don't really know what to do about it, other than not bring her around big groups of dogs. It seems like it's just too much for her to handle.

Freak Snowstorm!

We got lots and lots of snow, and it isn't even December yet! Apparently there hasn't been weather this extreme here in a couple of decades. This weekend I had a love/hate relationship with the snow. We went to an agility trial on Sunday and Abby and I were both freezing cold the entire time. We did advanced snooker, masters jumpers, advanced team and two steeplechase runs. I messed up jumpers by forgetting the course, and Abby missed her targets in one of the steeplechase runs. The snooker went well though, and Abby got a first place with a Q! By the afternoon, there was an advisory not to drive on the highway unless it was a life or death situation - there were cars in the ditches everywhere, tons of wind and white out conditions. But...we drove home anyway. It was probably a dumb idea, but we made it safely. Took us three hours to do an hour long drive. When I woke up this morning, I couldn't hate the snow anymore because Abby just loves it so much! I let her out in the yard and she was racing around in circles and pouncing. We even managed to play ball without losing it.

Abby likes to bury her head in the snow for no apparent

Pleeeease throw the ball!
Peppy came outside to scare Abby.

Darla stayed in this spot the whole day.

Oh....and I was stranded at my parents' house during the snow....and while I could have walked to the store, I really didn't feel like it. They had no meat - so Abby is now back on kibble. I know it's bad to go kibble with/right to raw because apparently the kibble slows down the raw in the system. As far as I know it's ok to go the other way around. I think I'll leave Abby on kibble at least until January, when I really have the time to make the switch.
I also got scared because my friend told me she spends 400/month to feed her 2 medium sized dogs raw...even though I've been doing my research and I still think I'd be spending less than a an 8th of that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Going Raw?

I'm thinking of going raw with Abby. I have to say that I really didn't think I'd ever be making this decision. Before the summer, I had never heard much about raw, other than seeing people wearing shirts that said "barf" on them. I thought it was some crazy fad. As I started hearing more about it, I think I thought of every question that is answered (very well) on this site:
I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to things like this. I like to see studies that have been done, and actual proof other than people saying that it's great. Unfortunately, there haven't been many studies done about raw diets vs. kibble. So, in this case, I think I'm going to have to go with my gut feeling..and strangely enough that feeling is to go with raw. My main reason right now is that Abby really does not like kibble. I've tried Innova (Evo and Chicken), California Natural, Wellness, and a couple of the vet diets (when I got free bags in the summer). Some of the foods I didn't like the ingredients/protein levels of, and Abby didn't like the taste of any of them. She will eat if there are other dogs threatening to steal her food, or if she is really hungry...but it's no fun feeding your dog something that she doesn't like!
So, that's reason (1) - Abby would love raw. Reason (2) is that I like trying everything out myself to see if I like it, especially when it relates to dogs. For collars, for example - I've tried choke chains, prong collars, haltis, sense-ation harnesses, gentle leaders, flat collars, martingales. Reason (3) is kind of an exclusion criteria reason: Why do I feed her kibble anyway?
-cheap? nope, definitely not cheap for the high end kibble. If I deal hunt, cheap raw is a possibility. I should do a price comparison though to check.
-easy? not really, since Abby won't eat it. I have to add can, mix types of kibble, try to "train" her to eat...definitely not as easy as feeding a food she'd like.
-easy to buy? yes, easy to buy especially since a big bag lasts months.
-healthy? yeah, high quality kibble has everything dogs need...but then I really thought dogs 'needed' more than I'm now learning. I was picturing all the supplements you'd have to add to a raw diet, but now I'm learning that dogs just need meat and bones, basically (raw meaty bones, meat, and organ meat). In other words, I'd be going with the prey model of raw diets instead of the barf model (which is apparently outdated now).
-no risk of salmonella? ok so this is something that is pretty gross about raw food. I don't really like the idea of having raw meat all over Abby's face and feet, and possibly dragged around the house if I don't watch her carefully. I do think I can train her easily to stay in one spot to eat, though, so at least there wouldn't be chicken carcasses dragged through the roommates' beds. As far as her feet being covered in germs goes...well...we're all pretty healthy in this house, so a couple of germs can't hurt..right? Besides, salmonella is everywhere outside, so it's not like I'm letting some rare pathogen into our house.

Ok so I just did a quick price comparison. I'm pretty sure I feed Abby a 30 lb bag of kibble in a little over 2 months, and that the bag that I bought last was about $50-60, so that's a bit less than $25-30/month for kibble.
Abby is 28 lbs, so going by the 3% rule for raw diets, she should get between 0.6-0.9 lbs of meat/day. This means that in a month Abby needs b/w 18-27 lbs of meat. Somebody told me you can get chicken really cheap in Chinatown, for about 20 cents/lb (maybe only if you buy tons at a time though, and I have no freezer space). I went to the petstore today and saw that their cheapest meat (ground with the bone, but not with organs - I need to check out the organs price) is about $1.50/0.4 lbs. Soo here's where I get confused because I'm not really sure how much of the ground meat I should be giving her compared to the meaty bones. Say I were to give her a chicken 'part' every day (back and leg or something) and then half a package of meat every day, that would end up being $1/ about $30/month. I guess if I decide to actually go through with this I'll see if that ends up being the real price. It would really help to have a deep freezer to stop up on a lot of meat at once...hmmm.

Here's Abby last night eating a chicken leg attached to back - her first time ever eating raw!
All of the websites and everything say to just switch cold turkey, but I'm too chicken to do that (oh so many possible puns in that sentence it's not even funny). So Abby had kibble yesterday morning, then that chicken last night, kibble this morning (didn't eat it though) and another chicken thingy tonight. She was still really hungry though so she then had 2 cups of kibble...more than she usually eats all day. Very strange... Maybe there isn't enough meat on those chicken bones? They looked pretty meaty to me.
If I do switch completely to raw, it will be after xmas break - when I actually have time to go look for deals on meat. I definitely should not be driving around Chinatown during finals trying to find cheap chicken bits.
Abby really REALLY loves those chicken legs/backs though...after finishing she rolls around, licks her lips and does these huge happy looking yawns.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First snow of the season!

I'm such a procrastinator! I was all prepared to study - played frisbee in the living room with Abby for awhile, settled her down with a bully stick (ew I was so grossed out when I found out what those are made of), got out my textbook...and then ended up here, on the computer, to post some (not very good) pictures from the hike this weekend! I really wish I had a better digital camera. I keep seeing amazing pictures that people take of their dogs, and I can only take decent ones if it's a still shot - and how often am I going to get a picture of Abby staying still??

It was absolutely gorgeous up on Cypress - lots of fresh snow, and not as many people as there will be later on when the mountain is actually open. We hiked for a couple of hours and the dogs had a blast! There were 9 dogs and 5 people. I wish I'd taken some pictures of Abby getting reacquainted with the snow - she was rolling around in it and generally going nuts.

Abby and Tryp at the lookout

Cody, Fyvish, Amigo, Toby, Tyler, Tycho, Zeus, Tryp and Abby

I guess I should really use the last 5 minutes of Abby being distracted by her chew to study...I have to post pictures of Abby and Tryp cuddling and playing soon. They are so cute.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Fear List

I've become obsessed with finding online information to help me with Abby. I'm not sure why I didn't look online sooner, but it's a good thing I didn't. I think I've spent more time online looking for information this past week than actually working with Abby. Pretty counterproductive. This is awful! I'm supposed to be studying, but instead I can't stop checking message board after message board. I joined a few yahoo groups too - AgBeh (Aggressive Behaviours) and Shy-K9s. I just read an article in the Shy-k9s archive, and it's nothing too new or different, but I'm going to take their suggestion to write down all of the things that Abby is afraid of and the fear reactions that she displays. So here goes:

Things that she is afraid of:
-people in uniform
-skateboards/shopping carts/scooters
-being leaned over
-being stared at
-being "thumped" on her ribcage
-dogs that are bigger than her
-more than one dog sniffing her at once

-taking treats with a hard mouth
-not taking treats
-raising hackles
-licking lips
-breathing quickly

Phew. That's a lot of things to worry about in life - for both of us. Even when I'm walking without her and a skateboard goes by, I tense up and my heart starts racing. Next thing you know I'm going to jump on a skateboarder while snarling...

Here's a typical freaked out look:

What is she?

This is by far the most common question I get asked when out with Abby. And I don't know for sure that people aren't actually inquiring about what species she is, becuase sometimes I wonder that myself. Actually I lied about it being the most common's probably tied with "what happened to her tail" and "can't you get her to shut up?". Ok, no, people usually only think the shutting up part but don't actually ask (because I wouldn't hear them over the manic barking). So...what is Abby? Who knows. I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that she it a mutt and I will never know what she is. But it's still fun to guess! She's 29lbs and about 18" tall. The most common guesses are mixes involving Whippet, Jack Russell, Aussie, and Belgian Shepherd. However - I don't know about in Utah, but I've never heard of any stray Whippets around here, or of any roaming Belgian Malinois. There have been a couple of "Border Collie x Jack Russell" guesses, but for one thing that thought is so scary that I would rather not contemplate it, and also, the only thing Abby really has in common with a Border Collie is the intensity, as far as I can tell. Oh and there have been the guesses of Boxer and Pitbull...uh...suuure. Another common comment is "she looks like a Mexican beach dog!". I think that if we threw all the dog breeds together and let them reproduce indiscriminantly for years and years, the product would be billions of Abbys. Now that is a terrifying thought.
If you look at Abby's brothers, their coats are more Jack Russell-y. A litter of dogs can have one mother and multiple fathers, but I don't think that's the case with Abby's litter becuase they look so much alike except for the coat (and act alike too - we met with one of the brothers' owners). Another mystery is why someone would crop their tails. Some guy at the dog park told me that inbred puppies are sometimes born with kinked tails that need to be cropped - not sure if I believe that. Maybe someone was trying to pass the puppies off as purebreds? It's all a big mystery...

Brother #1 - so cute! Look at those freckly legs.

Brother #2 - Cha-Chi....