Friday, August 26, 2016

Nature Walk with D'Art

In part one of our Nature Walk Teddy and I showed you the orchard, an old growth nurse log and fern slope.

Today, D'Art and I are taking you with us as we walk around some of the other areas that we enjoy.

Starting with the beehives. There are three in total. The bees have been busy this summer and we should have a lot of honey left to harvest next spring. We keep the honey on the hives overwinter so they can feed off their own resources. Otherwise, if you harvest the honey in the autumn you have to feed them sugar water overwinter. Did you know that most commercial honeys (grocery store brands) are actually just sugar water that the bees make into honey? It doesn't have the beneficial vitamins and nutrients that come hand-in-hand with raw, local honey that bees make from gathering pollen and nectar.

D'Art doesn't mind hanging out near the bees. He's never been stung, although a bee did get caught in his ear fur once and that was quite an annoyance!

The next stop is the campfire. It's rather hot and dry these days, so we haven't had a campfire for a while. But the poodles and humans alike enjoy it when we do. Here's a flashback to one of the campfire sessions this year.

Onwards and downwards. Down a switchback trail and into the woods.

He cross-crosses past the ferns and old growth cedars to stop and look back at me. D'Art's eyes are a little cloudy with age, but if he could see really well he would look over the edge and down to a small creek.

It's a little hard to see this time of year, even for me. The greenery of cedars and vine maples block the view somewhat. It's also a bit too steep of a climb for D'Art, so we turn around.

And head back from whence we came. I love how to sun dances through the tree branches and across D'Art's back.

Back up the switchback! "Are you coming slow-poke?" he says.


At the top, I stop to look for ripe blackberries, but these ones are still mostly green.


D'Art stops to look for bunnies. This is a known bunny hang-out. See how well he points (tail out and one paw bent in the direction of interest)? That wasn't a taught behavior. It's in his genes and harks back to the days when poodles were used primarily as hunting dogs.


Silly boy! No bunny hunting for you! D'Art looks back for one last look, just in case.


And then leads me home.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Plasmacytoma. Recently I had occasion to Google this word a few times. The first time was after speaking with my vet about the results of an aspiration she took from a lump on Teddy's hindquarters. She recommended we remove it surgically and days leading up to the surgery I Googled it at least two more times to reassure myself we were taking the appropriate course of action. 

A plasmacytoma is essentially a type of skin cancer. A tumor of plasma cell origin (a form of white blood cell). According to VCA Hospitals "Plasmacytomas in the skin are usually solitary benign tumors that grow rapidly but rarely recur after surgical removal. Malignant tumors are very rare." 

Nevertheless, my vet recommended we remove it and have it biopsied, so a couple of week's ago that is exactly what we did. Teddy also have a cyst removed at the same time as I was warned that they often rupture and get infected. It seemed logical to have the cyst out at the same time, but in hindsight I wonder if it was worth it. The spot on his leg is having a darned time healing on account of the staples pulling out with every up/down action of his leg. It's just in a bad location for healing and not moving his leg is out of the question. Teddy has the legs of a 63lb bunny with springs in his toes! The tumor, however, was further back on his hip. That area isn't under the same strain and healed easily. Anyway, hindsight is 20/20 they say!

This is where the plasmacytoma was. It is healing nicely.
The first night he was very uncomfortable and still drowsy from the surgery. I kept him company on the floor (he had his bed, I had a blanket). We didn't get much sleep. Thankfully, the next night was much better!

Moments after getting this look, I gave him a break from wearing the "buster collar". He's always very good about not licking his sore spots!
I am happy to report that the biopsy results came back and it was, in fact, a plasmactyoma. By excising it surgically that should (hopefully) take care of it once and for all. I count my lucky stars, as I have known people close to my heart who have lost family (two and four legged alike) to cancer. No one should have to go through that, but sadly we all too often do. 

I figure it's good to keep an eye out for these things. Make it a regular routine to check for lumps and bumps during a snuggle session with your dog and if anything funny pops-up, I recommend you talk to your vet! According to Pet MD "In addition to being found on the trunk and legs, mucocutaneous plasmacytomas may develop on the mouth, feet, and ears (lip tumors are particularly small and often overlooked). These tumors are generally solitary, solid nodules, either raised or ulcerated." So, armed with that knowledge, let's all take care to keep an extra eye out for lumps!

The staples were supposed to come out this week, but they areas aren't healed enough yet. I know one thing's for sure, Teddy will be happy when he can run and play with his poodle siblings again! See him racing-up behind Luna in this photo?

Fun play time! The whole reason for living!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Does My Dog Bite Her Nails?

Luna's a nail biter. She doesn't chew or obsessively lick her paws, but about once a week she goes to town on her nails. According to the internet, the mainstream reason that dogs lick and chew their paws is that they suffer from allergies. This is not the case for Luna. She shows no other signs of allergies and only chews her nails every once and a while. Here are a few other reasons that a dog may bite her nails:

1. Her nails are too long! Luna came to us not having received any basic personal care for some time. Among other issues, her nails were far too long. I suspect the only nail trimming she had prior to joining our family was achieved by her teeth! That is, of course, a thing of the past.

This is in fact Teddy's paw. He is a very patient model.

2. Stuff between her toes. I expect all dogs get things jammed between their toes every once and a while, whether poodle or not. You know that feeling when you have a small rock in your shoe? Annoying right? The longer the fur is between their toes, the more likely it is to attract things like seeds, dirt, stones, etc. I tend to groom their feet and faces weekly, but things still collect in their paws on a daily basis. D'Art pulls small pine cones out of his toes quite regularly and just the other day Teddy stepped on a slug and had sticky slim glued to his toe fur. Oh the joys of living in the forest!

3. Long hair. As mentioned above, dogs that don't shed need grooming and toes are no exception. Long hair between their toes gets matted, stays moist and also attracts more bacterial and fungal infections. In fact in the photo above, Teddy is due for a feet trim!

4. Boredom. I don't know a single dog that doesn't need mental stimulation (in addition to physical). Sometimes replacing a bad habit that develops out of boredom (such as nail biting) with a toy or food puzzle is enough to solve the problem. If I know Luna's nails aren't too long and she still bites them, I redirect her need to chew onto a toy bone. This seems a sufficient and welcome distraction.

She was biting her nails a few minutes before this!

Do you have any tips on how to kick the nail biting habit?

Friday, August 5, 2016

This Guy

This sweet, lovable mug is the reason I don't have a good, or even informative, post for you this week. He had a couple of lumps removed on Wednesday (one of which is being biopsied). The first night he spent attempting to drowsily stumble around the room (still sleepy from the surgery), bumping into everything and everyone. In an attempt to keep him still, I slept with him. On the floor. Let's just say "slept" is a generous description.

He's doing much better now. He only got up twice last night! I'm affectionately calling him the snowplow poodle, as he plows into everything with this cone on. I now think he does it deliberately, just because it's fun!

Hope to have something better to share next week! Meanwhile, Happy Friday!