Saturday, September 19, 2015

Autumn Changes

With autumn officially gracing us with her presence next week (September 23rd!) a few extra considerations come into play to prepare for dark and cooler evenings.

Firstly, the poodles get their autumn haircut. I spent 2 hours this morning on this task, and I think they look quite handsome as a result (considering I'm not a professional dog groomer). This is the last full-body haircut they get for a few months. I let their coats get longer in the autumn and winter, as they need the extra insulation. They still get regular brushing and baths as needed.

Next, we take into account the fact that our evening play time is often conducted in the dark. The first thing that proves immensely useful is the planet dog glow-in-the-dark ball. We couldn't have evening play time without these fantastic balls (and I'm not being compensated for saying that!) I charge the ball with a flashlight for a few seconds and then throw it. Both the poodles and I can see it, no matter where it lands!

Have you ever tried to find a black dog in the forest after dark? Well, let's just say it isn't easy. Enter the LED flashing collar. If it is completely dark out, I pop a LED flashing collar on each poodle so I can see them, no matter what they decided to smell or explore. It acts like a tracking device (flashing light = poodle) and gives me peace of mind! I got ours off of Amazon for a great price.

I also purchased new collars for the poodles last week (to wear all the time). These reflective collars are handsome, durable and very reflective! So far they are proving perfect for low light and reflecting house lights, flash lights and car lights.

We're set for autumn! How about you?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dogs and Bees

One of my other passions is bee keeping. As soon as I moved to the country, bees were top of the list. Bees play an incredibly important role in our environment. They pollinate a great many food items. Here's what your grocery store might look like without bees. Pretty sad. Bees, of course, also produce a myriad of useful resources - honey, wax, pollen, propolis, etc. Not only is honey yummy, it is scientifically shown to help with seasonal allergies. In addition to having antimicrobial properties, it is also known to aid in healing wounds. It is important to note that not all honey is created equal. Did you know that the majority of main-stream grocery store honey is produced by bees that are fed a constant diet of liquid sugar? The best honey, both in taste and health, is raw, local honey purchased from your local bee keeper or farmers' market.

How does this relate to dogs you may ask? Well, I'll leave the health benefits of honey for dogs up to the experts. A good example of someone who's researched this is my friend over at Keep The Tail Wagging. I want to discuss safety with dogs around bees.

Our hives are kept in the 'bee yard' which is essentially a couple of hives behind a natural fence. It is enough to keep the poodles away from the hives. They don't really have an interest in a box of buzzing bees, but I don't want them to start marking the beehives either, so that's why the fence is there. Both Teddy and D'Art have no interest in things that buzz. Teddy often will leave the room if a bee or fly is stuck in the house. The buzzing offends him. That said accidents happen and when living out in the country, with some distance between me and the vet, it is important to have a good first aid kit that addresses dealing with bee stings.

I don't know if the poodles are allergic to bees. They've never been stung in my care. On a side note, I've been keeping bees for 2 years now and I've never been stung either. Bees only sting if they feel threatened and then they die after stinging, so it isn't something they do for fun. Nonetheless, I have benadryl on hand at all times. In most cases (check with your vet) it is safe to administer benadryl to dogs if you follow these guidelines (1mg per 1lb of weight).

Another helpful tip is to know how to remove stingers. Bee stingers continue to pump venom even after the bee is long gone. It is best to avoid squeezing the stinger, but instead to scrape it off. Here's a few examples of how to do that. I'm not familiar with all of those suggestions, but scraping it out with a credit card is pretty common.

As we head into autumn, bees slow their activity down somewhat. They don't hibernate through winter - they congregate. They continue activity within the hive, but need to stay close to each other to retain heat.

Next time you see a bee, don't freak out. You have a lot to thank that bee for. If you aren't a bee person, we can still all get along - dogs included!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September Lessons - Positive Training Blog Hop

The poodles and I were out walking the other day, and I was feeling introspective. Signs of autumn in the air does that to me. Summer flew by; August especially. I realized that in being distracted with thinking about life, I missed important moments of the summer season.

Whenever we walk, especially in new and different places, we get an opportunity to practice living. Instead of thinking about how we handle distractions, other dogs, deer and bunnies....we get to live it. So, as September strolls into our lives, the poodles and I have mutual training goals. The poodles are 'training' me to live in the moment, feel the fresh air in my lungs, listen to the birds and stop to smell the flora (literally). My goal for Teddy and D'Art is to practice living. To go out into the world together and practice the things we work on around home. Practice coming when called in a new and strange place, practice walking loosely on the leash, practice seeing deer without chasing them. All this practice, in real life, isn't really practice at all - its just living.

Dogs are masters of living in the moment; humans, not so much. Perhaps we can all learn from each other about thriving in this world.