Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dogs at Harry Griffen--Gigi and Charlie

Gigi was dropped at the Humane Society shelter at 4 weeks old by someone who said they had found her on the street. Nancy Henderson's daughter, Kayla, who volunteered at the shelter, took her as a foster dog. It was love at first sight for Nancy. Gigi is now seven months old. Nancy thinks she is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She loves to play chase. She eats so gluttonously that Nancy bought a slow-feeding dog bowl that prevents her from wolfing her food.

I had never heard of a bowl like that, but I found a a website that appeared to have some good information on the subject.
Nancy's other dog, Charlie, is a 5 1/2 year old blue tick hound mix. He had been abused by a previous owner, but luckily for Charlie, the man's girlfriend took the dog away from him, saying, "You can't have a dog if you're going to treat it like that!" Nancy has had Charlie since he was nine months old. He loves to play with Gigi, but he is afraid of people who come to their house, and hides behind Nancy

Dogs at Harry Griffen Park--Crush

I saw this adorable little dog only once. He was up for adoption, and got snapped up right away.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Master Thief

Faun was the most accomplished thief I have ever owned.

She was doberman with a cocktail of other breeds mixed in--possibly some shepherd. She had silly looking ears that stuck out sideways; Rob called them B-52 ears, and an incredibly glossy raven-black coat, probably from all the carrion she ate.

She could steal anything she wanted from wherever you put it, and usually the theft went undiscovered for some time because Faun was cunning enough not to display the least interest in the item she planned to steal. If you had been watching her very closely and knew her well enough to read the signs, you might have seen her eye sliding sideways as she passed by a chicken thawing in the sink or a loaf of bread cooling on the warmer above the stove. But only for a split second. She never aroused suspicion by gazing covetously or lingering nearby--but rather appeared to go about her business, waiting for your attention to lapse or an unforeseen event to provide her with an opportunity.

I caught her stealing the Valentine cookies I had made for the boys. I had gone to another room to answer the phone (This was back in the Dark Ages when there was only one phone in the house, and you had to go to wherever it was to answer it.) But I heard Faun's toenails click as she climbed onto the kitchen table where the cookies were cooling, and I raced back just in time to save most of them.

We weren't so lucky with the lamb roast. We were just starting Sunday dinner, when Rob's son Mark lit a match in the dry weeds on the bank outside. As flames raced up the slope, Rob ran to get above them with the hose, while I turned the water on. When we returned to our dinner, the roast had disappeared, and Faun was lounging on the carpet looking quite innocent.

I discovered the chicken theft because Faun seemed strangely reluctant to go on a walk and was in unseemly haste to return home. I became suspicious, looked in the sink, and found the chicken missing. It was under the bunk-bed in the boys' bedroom, eaten except for the back and the parson's nose. I have no idea when she took it or how she got into the sink.

She stole the Christmas pudding from a cupboard in the kitchen. I found the empty basin, along with some foil and a piece of string when I went outside to hang some laundry.

She stole the Halloween candy from a drawer while Rob and I were out to dinner. The giveaway for that theft was the sticky mess of wrappers and partially chewed candy smeared all over the living room carpet.

I miss Faun. No other dog has given me so many stories.

Ben and the Crawdad

In the 1980's we had an American Staffordshire Terrier named Ben. (They are pretty much like pit bulls, but more upmarket. My sister who had originally owned him would never allow him to be called a pit bull.) Ben was the sweetest, gentlest dog imaginable, but large, muscular, and rather scary looking. He weighed 65 pounds.

We used to walk up by the ditch at Lake Murray, near Baltimore Drive. In those days, the water department hadn't yet invoked its scorched earth policy for the ditches near the lake, and they had a thriving ecology. Cat-tails grew in abundance, and little boys often searched among the reeds for frogs and crawdads.

One day, Ben thrust his great square nose among the plants along the water's edge, then suddenly jumped backwards with a yelp. A rather large crawdad, maybe 6 inches long and weighing at least 6 ounces, emerged from the water and began stalking toward Ben, one pincer thrust menacingly forward.

Ben backed up, growling.

The crawdad continued its attack, its pincer snapping toward Ben's nose.

Ben backed up some more. The crawdad advanced.

Ben quickly called a full retreat, and the crawdad strutted back to the water victorious.

How I wish I had had a camcorder.

Dogs at Harry Griffen--Dante, Snuggles, and Bella

Dante is a swap meet dog. Phil Pettigo & his wife got him at Kobey's 18 months ago as a tiny puppy. Phil says his breed is Chihuahua and heaven-knows-what. Dante loves to run...
                                                                         and run...

                                                                        and run..
"Abandon hope, all ye who race with me."

Snuggles, a purebred miniature poodle, is 4 years old. Unlike Dante, who will be on your lap in a split second, he is timid, and a bit stand-offish until he gets to know you.

Phil's wife found Bella at the swap meet just a few days ago. She is a sub-miniature Chihuahua about 2 months old. In spite of her diminutive size, she already has the upper paw over Snuggles and Dante. We can hardly wait to see her feminine wiles displayed at the dog park when she is old enough.

Is it true that dogs and their owners look alike?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nutrition for Dogs

Bonnie Keck's German Shepherd, Lily, had been eating poorly for at least 2 or 3 weeks. Bonnie was getting worried enough that she got an appetite stimulant for her. It didn't work well, and Lily besides not eating and having diarrhea, seemed listless and uninterested in playing with other dogs at the dog park. Then Bonnie decided to try making Lily's food herself. She had a copy of Dr. Pitcairn's Guide (cited below), went to Windmill Farms with a list of ingredients, and mixed up about 5 1/2 cups of food in Lily's bowl--which Lily gobbled up eagerly, much to Bonnie's surprise. In just a few days, all her physical symptoms had disappeared and she was cleaning her bowl at every meal. At the dog park, she is like a different dog, chasing and wrestling, always in the middle of the action.

Lily playing with a dog named Xavi

Several other people at Harry Griffen Park have tried the recipes in this book and recommend it.

Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats


Here is what "Good Reads" has to say about it: 3063.Dr_Pitcairn_s_New_Complete_Guide_to_Natural_Health_for_Dogs_and_Cats
"Over 400,000 copies of this treasured classic have been sold since its original publication more than 20 years ago

The book that is the definitive guide to a natural lifestyle for dogs and cats is now completely updated and revised--for the first time in 9 years. Writing with the warmth and compassion that have won them a national following, veterinarian Richard H. Pitcairn and his wife Susan Hubble Pitcairn, noted specialists in chemical-free nutrition and natural healing for pets, show dog and cat owners how to provide the very best in companionship and lifelong care. 

They now cover environmental matters, including pollutants both inside the home and out, as well as recent hot-button topics, such as Mad Cow disease, Lyme disease, and the West Nile virus. They've updated dozens of recipes for delicious and healthful pet food and treats. With a guide to handling emergencies and an in-depth "Quick Reference" section, they give specific instructions for preventing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of animal diseases and disorders-with special attention to homeopathic, herbal, and nutritional remedies. "

Dogs at Harry Griffen Park--Charlie

In March of 2011, Lois Duke was looking for a dog. She had decided not to get a puppy (too much work) or a terrier (too feisty) or a male (too hard to train). She & her daughters, Heather and Shaun, went to the humane society to look. They .saw a cute little Cairn Terrier/Jack Russell puppy sitting alone. The puppy didn't have a name. He had been found wandering the streets, surviving by eating garbage. Shaun said, "Let's just look at him."

The puppy rushed over to them, jumped into Lois's arms and nuzzled her face.

"What will you name him?" Shaun wanted to know

But Lois couldn't think of anything.

While waiting for him to be brought out to her, Lois suddenly leaped out of her seat, threw her arms into the air, and shouted, "Charlie!" much to her own embarrassment and the amusement of the onlookers. The name had popped unbidden into her mind, but Charlie recognized his name right away and has answered to it ever since.

Charlie doesn't eat dog food. Lois makes all his food to order, including yummy dehydrated chicken treats. His favorite cuisine is Italian.

In spite of Lois's reservations about male terrier puppies, Charlie is a paragon of canine virtue. He is especially gentle and tolerant with children and elderly people and seems to know when someone is sick or in pain. He is looking forward to a possible career as a therapy dog.

There is one subject, however, upon which Charlie can be stubborn. This ball is his! Don't you dare try to take it away from him!
Lois is an accomplished seamstress. I you need sewing or alterations done, email her:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mud baths

Caitlin must have been an elephant in a previous life. She loves to get soaking wet and then roll in the dust. Here's what she looked like after today's visit to Harry Griffen Park.

Now I'm ready to get into the car!

Hiking with Caitlin--Cowles Mountain

I'm being told that it should be pronounced "coles."
We hiked up the main trail today:

This is probably the least strenuous route up the mountain, but, boy is it ever busy. The parking lot is completely full by 6:00 a.m. every day. I never see fewer than about a dozen people actually running up the trail, and dozens more, men, women, children, old and young, fat and thin, many with dogs (all better behaved than Caitlin)--trooping up the trail.

For me, it's all about the destination: I want to get to the summit. For Caitlin, it's all about the journey. She  pulls me every which way as she dashes from side to side, drinking in every new and delicious aroma, stopping suddenly to concentrate on a particularly exquisite scent or to sample a tasty deposit that someone's owner neglected to bag up and carry off the trail, or leaping toward the chest of any hiker who looks friendly.

Almost at the Top
She finds going down even more exciting, showing her pleasure by grabbing the leash in her teeth while cavorting all around me like a dervish. She deconstructed her leash within about 100 yards down the trail, but waited while I tied the pieces back together. We then hurtled down the mountain at breakneck speed, with me leaping from rock to rock like a 25-year-old We even managed to impress one of the serious athletes, who commented "nice pace" as he sprinted past us. Every time I slowed down, Caitlin started her jumping jack routine again--so we got down in record time.

I will take a heavy leash next time.

A big thank you to the hiker who found my camera and left it on the signboard. I came back about 2 hours later and found it there. I guess it fell off my belt during a particularly vigorous leap.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chet & Barney Mysteries

Peter Abrahamson writes amusing mysteries under the name Spencer Quinn. I've read two of them so far, Dog On It  and Thereby Hangs a Tail. He's written a couple more that I haven't read yet. The dog, Chet, narrates the adventures of his master, a private investigator named Barney. You can check out the dog's story here: Chet has a blog that you can follow if you get tired of mine, and you can add your own dog's picture to the website as a friend of Chet. I'm pretty sure your dog will want to be Chet's friend. Check it out.
Cover of the Hardback Edition

Walking with Caitlin--Mission Trails

One of my favorite places to walk Caitlin is the Mission Trails Regional Park. There are lots of beautiful trails , and if you go early in the morning, as Caitlin and I do, there are very few people there. It does get busy on weekends and holidays, however.

Today we walked around the Oak Grove Loop and then took a trail that starts near the visitor center and goes down to a lovely shady pool (Grinding Rocks, I think), where Caitlin likes to splash. It's all easy walking, and right now the mornings are cool and the wildflowers still abundant. Lots of rabbits, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Video of Dog in 170 Km Bike Race

I love this story. Have any of our dogs done something similar?

Rattlesnake Aversion Training

Last Saturday an outfit called Natural Solutions was doing rattlesnake aversion training at Harry Griffen Park.
I have had one dog bitten (who survived), and one of my sisters had a dog bitten (who didn't survive), so I was motivated to sign up.

They had four rattlesnake stations: a baby rattlesnake, a rattlesnake skin, the sound of the rattle, and an adult rattlesnake that they put between you & the dog, and then ask you to call the dog. To train the dogs, they put a shock collar on them, and each time the dog shows an interest in one of the snakes, they give it a buzz.

For most of the dogs I saw, it took only one jolt to convince them that rattlesnakes were not something they wanted to investigate.

Caitlin, on the other hand, stuffed her nose straight into the baby rattler, jumped about a foot as she got the shock--then stuffed her nose straight back into the snake.
Jumped about 2 feet. Straight back to the snake.
Jumped about 2 feet again. Straight back to the snake.
Jumped about 3 feet. Straight back to the snake.
Jumped really, really high. This time she decided to give up on that particular snake.

She went through the other 3 stations fairly quickly, and came trotting happily back to me when I called her. They proclaimed her to now be rattlesnake averse--but I'm only about 50% convinced that she is. I will, however, sign her up for a refresher course next year. We'll see what she thinks about snakes then.

I have read in several places that when you use the shock collar on a dog, the dog doesn't associate the shock with you, but rather with whatever he's being discouraged to do. But that wasn't true for at least one of the dogs that came to aversion training that day. He obviously knew what the collar was as soon as they tried to put it on him. He struggled and tried to get away from the handler, who had to take him for a walk before he could even try to lead him over to the snakes. Hopefully the dog knew enough to stay away from the snakes, since he already had the collar on--but I didn't watch him being trained--so I don't know for sure.

Leash Chewing

This morning I took Caitlin for a walk at the canyon opposite Lake Murray, which is about 1/2 mile from our house. As we arrived, Caitlin leaned over from the back of the car and spat out about 1" of the extendable part of her leash onto the front seat. Rob will be able to repair it--luckily--as this is the fourth time she has chewed through this particular leash.

I had another extendable leash in the trunk. It started out blue, but is now pink, because she chewed through the nylon part on the way home from buying it at Grossmont Center (a five minute drive). Rob repaired it with a remaining section of the chewed leash that the La Mesa Animal Hospital had put on her the day she was spayed. Her leashes are getting shorter by the day.

We drove home without a leash so that I wouldn't have to ask Rob to repair 2 leashes in one morning. Is there such a thing as an unchewable leash (other than a chain)?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Goals for my blog

Here's my list (so far) of the subjects I'd like to discuss in my blog.
          (Rob says to add halitosis & bathing) Does this make you suspect anything about Caitlin?
     dog-related products
     obedience training
          disciplinary issues
          specialized training
               search & rescue
               service dogs
              rattlesnake aversion training
     dog parks
     dog camps
     traveling with dogs
     places dogs can go in San Diego
          where to walk your dog
          where to hike with your dog
     day care, pet sitters
     rescue centers
     special events for dogs
          La Mesa Parade
          surfing competitions
     play groups
     costumes & dog clothing
     dog photography, studio photographers
     dogs & kids
     feeding, making own food/treats
     featured dogs, stories about notable dogs (especially Harry Griffen Park dogs)

I think it's okay to veer off subject briefly, but I'd like to keep this mostly about dogs, especially local dogs, their owners, & issues that relate to them. I'd like a family-friendly blog where everything is civil, sometimes humorous, but never offensive or in bad taste. I will welcome all comments, suggestions, & information relating to these & other topics that concern us all as dog owners.

Where to board Caitlin--Happy Dog Ranch

Yesterday we took her to visit the Happy Dog Ranch
"Ranch" is a bit of a stretch, as it is a small private home with a relatively small fenced front yard in which the dogs can play. They can't play in the back, as it is completely taken up by a swimming pool, and they don't give the dogs access to it. The family room is littered with dog beds, and the couches are covered with blankets, so I suppose the dogs are allowed there.
The boarding is run by John Moran and his wife, Christine. She works, and he stays home with the dogs. They will board 5 dogs at a time. They already have one of their own. The dogs can play in the house all day, and sometimes in the front garden. John would have to let them out. He assures me that the dogs are never left alone. After Christine gets home at about 4:00, they take the dogs for a walk around their neighborhood, each of them leading 3 dogs.
They wanted to meet Caitlin before agreeing to take her, so I'd expect that they won't take any who are obviously antisocial.
In spite of the informality of the setup, I'd feel pretty comfortable leaving Caitlin with them. I'm waiting for John to give me the names of some former clients to get their input.

Note added later: They don't want her--said she was too young. Maybe that was because I told them she chews furniture, or because Rob told them how she takes baths in the water bowl. Perhaps we'll be more reticent next time. Rob says he didn't like John much anyway.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where to board Caitlin--Camp Bow Wow

Rob & I have a six month old border collie named Caitlin.
She's a. handful, needs enormous amounts of exercise, wants to be the center of attention, and is quite pushy about it if she wants something (usually to go to the dog park). She's crashed out against my leg right now, but 20 minutes from now, she'll be trying to bite my laptop or get my mouse away from me. She's difficult to ignore.

We;re going on vacation in September. We'll be going to southern Utah with an outfit called Road Scholar (used to be called Elder Hostel--since it's mainly for old geezers like us) but they changed the name, so that it wouldn't sound so geezerly. Actually it sounds like a pretty cool outfit. You can check it out at ttp://
Before we discovered Road Scholar, I had been doing a lot of research on Utah. Of all the websites I looked up, my favorite was this one: I'll list the other good ones in some later blog.

Back to Caitlin, I don't think we can leave her with Rob's son, as she has already nipped their youngest boy, Lee, and I can only see that going from bad to worse if we're not there to watch & discipline her, so I'm looking for somewhere to board her for 2 weeks where she won't just be locked up in a cage. (She now has her nose resting on my lap desk and is gazing soulfully into my eyes & tentatively licking the side of the monitor. I'll stop here for now.)

Back after a trip to Harry Griffen dog park

While we were there on Monday, Renata, whose huge German Shepherd, Valentino, is one of the dogs Caitlin likes to herd, told us about Camp BowWow & said our introductory day there would be free. So we took Caitlin the next day. It looks pretty good. The dogs spend most of the day playing either indoors or outdoors (their choice) & they have a web cam that anyone can use to see what the dogs are doing. Valentino was there, too, that day, but he was in time-out for aggressive behavior, and he looked pretty miserable in his 15 minutes of jail time. Caitlin had a good time, so we'll certainly consider leaving her there. Pretty expensive, though.

I'll gratefully receive any suggestions that anyone can give on other options.