Friday, March 25, 2016

Dogs and Hops

The tiny tendrils of new hop bines (yes, they are called bines, not vines) are shooting up around my hop trellis. We grow 7 varieties of hops on a custom-built 20 foot trellis. Hops like to grow up, and up, and up and easily reach 20 feet in the course of a growing season. I think if you sat and watched them, you might even see them grow.

Most people know hops for beer making, but they are also beautiful as ornamental plants. They have large leaves and green cones. If you pick a hop cone at the end of summer and look inside it you'll see a fine, yellow dust. This dust is the main source for the funky, citrus, floral flavor we attribute to beer. Hops are also known for their antibacterial properties. They're pretty neat plants, overall.

That botany lesson aside, most people who read this blog are devoted dog lovers so what's useful to know about hops when it comes to dogs? Hops are poisonous to dogs. The interesting (and scary) thing though, is what happens to dogs when they ingest hops. It doesn't give them tummy ache (although this may happen to). The most concerning outcome is that they develop hyperthermia. Hyperthermia, not to be confused with hypothermia, is a fast rise in body temperature. It is often accompanied by muscle cramping, vomiting, seizures, restlessness and pain. It can lead to death. 

My hops are not fenced away from the dogs, in fact they surround our deck where we spend a good deal of time in the summer. The poodles display no desire to taste the plants, which is why I have little concern, but I do take some precautions to prevent any accidental exposure.
  1. The stay inside on harvest day, until all trace of residual hops are cleaned up.
  2. When brewing beer, the poodles aren't allowed in the kitchen.

It's best to avoid situations where dogs could consume hops or beer. It isn't worth the risk. A while back I heard of a new trend - beer for dogs. I have nothing against it, but it did concern me that if people didn't understand that this beer was hop-free, they may not understand that regular beer and Fido don't mix. If you do suspect that your dogs has ingested something containing hops, don't hesitate to call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline. I'm not an animal medical professional, so if you have questions on this topic I encourage you to speak with your vet. I'm just a gardener and a dog lover. The two can mesh quite nicely, as long as you know about the plants you are working with. 

Now little hops bines, get growing!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Dog Friendly Easter

No matter how hard you try, some Easter eggs just don't get found right away. A few years ago at my in-law's house we couldn't find the last two eggs. A few months later they were discovered in the front garden and the candy inside was still edible! As we all know, chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and candy isn't good for them either, so here are a few ways to host an Easter egg hunt without taking risks that could harm your beloved pups.

This chick doesn't have a name yet, but she knows how to strike a pose!

  •  To prevent your pup finding and eating the goods, keep the egg hunt portion of your celebration somewhere the dogs don't go. If you have an un-fenced front yard and the dogs typically stay in the backyard only - hold your egg hunt in the front yard! 
  • If you're planing an indoor egg hunt. Be sure your pups are somewhere calm and safe while your group hunts for the eggs. Try to make a mini map of how many eggs you've hidden per room, so you can take stock at the end and go back for the ones that got missed. You don't want your doggy cleanup crew to eat the goods and get sick!
  • An alternative to hiding candy is to hide clues for a scavenger hunt. That way the goodies are in one secure hiding place at the end of the scavenger hunt for the winners to unearth!
Parsley, the hen, eating some seed I left for her.

Keep in mind, those plastic Easter eggs that you can fill with candy don't look all that different from dog toys, so don't be upset if your pup mistakens them for his! Instead, prevent upset tummies but organizing a dog friendly Easter!

D'Art, Easter egg model extraordinaire!

Last but certainly not least, don't forget about your pups! Most dogs love to engage in some nose work in an effort to locate treats. You can hide something dog friendly around the house or yard either before or after the Easter egg hunt. The poodles love to play 'hide and go treat' and there's no reason why they shouldn't get in on the action too.

Teddy's wondering if he gets a treat for looking so handsome!
What about you? Do you have any dog-friendly Easter plans?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Bonfire

Now is the perfect time of year to pull brambles and burn them on a bonfire. It's before everything comes into leaf and the ground is still soft enough to make uprooting them an easier process.

The poodles like to get in on the action.

Teddy helps to collect sticks.

D'Art likes to go on adventures in the woods while the rest of us work. Can you spot the poodle in this picture?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Positive Training Blog Hop - Total Recall

This positive training blog hop is on the topic of recall. This is an interesting one, as I've had two different experiences. After adopting Teddy, we kept him leashed for a few days while outside. This helped to figure out what he thought of the chickens and also kept him within eyesight among the trees and ferns. After a  few days, he was let off the leash and since then he has always stuck close. Without any intensive training, Teddy comes when called. Easy peasy! His recall is reliable (95%, he does have his moments). He comes when called, no matter how far away he might be.

And he does so with much enthusiasm!

D'Art, on the other hand, came to us with a rather independent and stubborn disposition. He answered to no one. If he wanted to come he would, but if something else was on his agenda you'd just have to take a number and wait. Since adopting him, we've worked on his manners and now a-days they are much improved! He will often come when called, just a little slower than Teddy. Sometimes he requires a reminder that you asked him to come because something along the way smelled just too interesting! Also, he's older and has stiff joints and therefore I give him a pass on the slowness.

I accept that D'Art's recall isn't foolproof, quite frankly if he sees a bunny then all bets are off. It is, however, a good compromise seeing as before training the only sure-fire way to get him to come when called was to tell him we were going in the car. We got to where we are today with a lot of positivity and treats. Whenever he came when asked there was a party with treats and happiness galore! Three years on and I still ramp up the enthusiasm for him when he comes, mainly because it gets him to move faster and I love seeing his happy face, wind flapping in his fluffy ears.

What about your recall training experience? Any tips to share?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - You've Got Mail!

Up until a few days ago, the poodles had never received mailed before. This changed when a very special human sent them each a new stuffie. Lucky dogs!

Getting mail is fun! Happy Wednesday!