Bella is . . . well, Bella

We’ve got a new rescue dog. She’s pretty much blind as a bat and is now a bit over a year old. She’s the toughest dog I’ve ever had. She spent the first 8 months of her life either tied or kenneled outside, we don’t know which, but she knew nothing about manners or proper behavior when she came.  She was frantic for people’s attention but to a lesser level of obnoxiousness now though she is still finding people and pack-mates by running into them. She’s getting better but it’s going to take time.  Everything she does is brim full of enthusiasm.  She has her full share and more, maybe six dogs worth.

Bella, after about three months of being free, learned not to run everywhere at full speed.  She’s now sitting to get treats and petting (not very still and not very long) and I’m marking it as progress. In the beginning she plowed into rocks, vehicles, people, other dogs (which Chloe absolutely cannot abide), buildings . . . she continues to get better though she sports rotating patches of missing hair from her “finds” and has a constant bare neck and chest from running through unmown grass and weeds at absolute full tilt. With 12 acres in which to run she spends little time doing anything as mundane as walking. So far she hasn’t split herself open on anything though yesterday she showed up with a new mondo scratch on her face.

At some point I’m going to have to make a decision about her eyes.  She has some vision, though mostly just shadows.  She’s pretty much completely blind in full sunlight or dark but she can see enough to get around and I’d like her to be able to retain that ability.  Because her eyes are undeveloped her upper eyelashes poke the inside of her lower eyelids which causes irritation.  So the decision is, do I stick with the status quo and leave her what little eyesight she has and figure some other solution for the poking eyelashes or do I have her eyelids sewn shut to prevent the irritation and remove what little sight she has.  I cannot decide.  Maybe not deciding is deciding.  You know us. Life is ALWAYS interesting.

New dog!

Border Collie cross puppy

Say hi to Buddy! He’s about 8 months old and is a real character. He’s got Border Collie energy and intelligence but whatever the other half is, it’s not small. He’s about 4″ taller than a BC already and I suspect he’s not quite done growing.

Buddy came to us because he was overly protective of the children in his previous home.  Biting the grandparents when they came over to visit made him just a bit unpopular and no-one in the home was very dog savvy. A new home was a must.

If he’d gone to the animal shelter he would have been put down as a biter and he’s much too nice a dog for that fate.  Plus he’s dead funny!  Watching him harass the girls, tease them and drag his rope around is worth the price of admission.  After the small back yard he lived in before, he loves the extra room to fun.  He spends all the time smiling and having fun.

He leaves the chickens alone and doesn’t bother the cats.  He’s learned to be polite and wait his turn for goodies.  He’s learning not to jump on people.

In the month he’s been here we’ve had one near-bite incident.  While he’s learning to be comfortable with people coming to visit, by the end of summer he should have a firm grasp on bark, DO NOT bite.  Having older dogs to show him how it’s done is helping a lot.  He’s physically tough and supremely self-confident and he’s learning to play gently with Chuck.

Football, dinner, dog

Guess who's waiting for his share?

Tell me this doesn’t happen at your house.  Chuck knows he’s supposed to be sitting on his blanket all the way across the room, not at Wadly’s feet . . . but Wadly’s watching Sunday football and not paying attention so that’s where Chuck’s little butt is parked.  His little ears are pointed at me and he knows he’s in trouble . . . I can hear him mumbling “Mom, don’t notice.  Mom, don’t notice.”

Chucky, version 2.5

Limp and snoring

It’s been two and a half years since Chuck came to live with us.  When he first arrived I had to chase him down and corner him to touch him.

Through the months we went through many stages of acceptance and trust.  He came to accepted we would touch him but I couldn’t reach for him with both hands.  Then I couldn’t touch him if we were outside.  Then I could touch him outside but with only one hand.

Just recently he’s started rolling over on his back to have his tummy rubbed.  This is a 180° shift from the dog who slept with one eye open with all legs tucked under him prepared to bolt to safety.

As his trust and confidence grew he changed from a scared little mite who would bolt in a heartbeat to a regular guy, confident enough to follow me around the hardware store among strange people.

The picture on the left is Chuck, version 2.5, sound asleep, upside down and snoring.  It’s not very dignified but it makes me smile.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

Carlos is coming

Lorr (our son) has discovered wholesale rot under the window and into the floor and floor supports where his 60 gallon aquarium housing Carlos the turtle, two gigantic plecos and a couple really fat goldfish.  Moving the tank is a must so it looks like Carlos is coming to stay.  The big concern is keeping Carlos comfortable.  The goldies can join mine in my 100 gallon tank outside and the plecos can go to the aquarium store.

Wadly’s next day off is Tue.  We’ll drag the big aquarium out of the loft, clean and set it up for all Wadly’s fish.  We’ll leave the smaller aquarium set up to accommodate Carlos temporarily while we get is larger tank set up and up to temp.

To keep both tanks using the wall, I’m going to have to install a sump.  I haven’t done that before.  It should be a learning experience.

The spring of Chuck

Warming up after an outdoors foray.

I think I’ve finally got a solution for keeping Chuck relatively comfortable.  Fleas have been driving him nuts.  I had a flea collar on him for a while and that did nothing noticeable, even when  I sprayed him with Cedarcide each time he came in.  The Cedarcide helped, but it only kills the fleas that are on him and does nothing to discourage more from jumping on.

The combo that appears to be relatively effective (I hope) is a combination of Ortho’s Home Defense sprayed on the rugs (one application lasts for ~12 months), Zodiac Flea and Tick Spray on Chuck (good for ~2 months) and a quick once-over with Cedarcide when he comes in from outside.  No, I am not going to try and treat our property for fleas.  I have free range chickens and we have 12 acres.  Between the chickens and the property size, treating the outdoors for fleas is not a reasonable idea.

There remains a very small amount of scarring on Chuck’s right eye which doesn’t significantly impede his vision.  I think the surface of the eye has healed as much as it’s going to.

Critter litter

Bug stuff

This is just under the upper rim on the outside of my upper biofilter tank for the outside aquarium.  Anyone have an idea what buggy thing this is?  Click the image and enlarge.

I know it’s buggy, just not what flavor of bug.  Whatever was inside the mud or exudate shell is no longer there.  The outside is covered with round . . . they can’t be seeds.  They might be eggs but they aren’t like any egg I’ve ever seen.  They’re round with a tiny dimple in the face.


What a difference a food makes

I switched dog food.  OH MY GOSH.  What a difference.  In one way it’s bad (Chloe is even MORE frenetically happy and bouncy) but in all other ways it’s good.  My oldest dog is perky and says she’s comfortable again.  My youngest dog is getting the nutrition she needs and is less worried about food.

If you’re wondering, I switched to Diamond Adult Dog Beef and Rice.  No corn, no soy, no wheat.  25% protein, 15% fat.  Everyone’s put on weight . . . okay, Chloe and Patsy didn’t need any more weight, so plus side, I can cut down on their food just a bit.

So what if this food is more than two times more expensive . . . <sigh>  The result is definitely worth it.

Not graded for size

Guess which is the store bought egg

As the weather gets colder I seem to cook more breakfasts.  My favorite is a not-omelet with whatever ingredients I have at hand.  Sometimes it’s scallops and shrimp, other times it’s sausage.  At some point I’ll get pictures of the non-omelet process to share.

Chickens go through a laying/setting cycle that contributes to our very occasional lack of eggs.  Part of the derth is related to having free range chickens and dogs who love eggs . . . when they can find them.  Because smart hens hide their eggs where dogs and people can’t find them, we have a fairly consistent supply of new chicks to offset those lost to old age and/or picked off by scavengers when the dogs get inattentive.

The eggs we get range in size, shape and color because our flock is a real mix of breeds.  We have medium to small hens that are part barred rock, australorp, banty and something with feathered feet.  We now have a silky rooster who was added to our flock by a family member.  The one baby we’ve been able to identify as his looks more like a grouse than a chicken.  Very cute.

The difference between our eggs and those that come from the store is really obvious when they are cracked into the same bowl.  The store bought egg is yellow.  The free range chicken egg yolks ranges in color depending on the age of the chicken and what they’ve been eating.  The richer the color, the higher the nutrition.

The store bought egg in the bowl was a grade A large brown egg.   You can see one of  our eggs is slightly smaller and one is quite a bit bigger.

Air Conditioning

Overworked yellow jacket

The pump house has a temporary roof which just begs for critters to build their nests therein.  It’s a fav spot for yellow jackets, though the space is tight.

The yellow jackets started their nest under the metal in much more temperate weather.  Though it’s barely 9 a.m., it’s already promising to be in excess of 80º.  The yellow jackets have already got the air conditioning going full blast.  This little guy is working his wings off to get the air moving up the channel to cool the nest.  It’s a bit difficult to see in the picture but he’s got his body canted in such a way as to direct the flow of air up the channel.

Carhart warmth

Warm rice in a sock and a blanket and this boy's all set for chilly weather

We’re having a “cold” day.  It’s chilly out.  Not cold enough to run the heater but not warm enough to do without the basic comforts of warm bean bags.  Chuck feels the cold pretty quickly.  He looks pathetic and shivers.  Wadly kindly donated a Carhart sock to act as Chuck’s “stay warm” rice bag.  His pretty red one bit the dust a while back.  The sock makes a nice replacement.  I can dump the rice into another sock while this one’s being washed.


Chuckster, no longer a special case, now he's "just a dog"

I took all the dogs to town with me a couple weeks ago and Chuck went into Home Depot with me.  Riding in the basket of my cart, he let strangers pet him without flinching or backing away.  That’s such a huge milestone.  When he came to us he was so traumatized I had to chase him down to touch him.  It was months before Terry could touch him.  Now anyone can.  Chuck’s deepest injury has finally healed.  This is huge.

I don’t quite know what to say . . .

Chloe had a hematoma the size of a softball when she came to us. It was just behind her left jaw where another dog had bitten her and left tooth plaque in the wound. I’m telling you this because I think the final outcome relates to treating all the dogs with sodium chlorite (notice that’s got a “t”, not a “d”).   I have no other explanation why a hematoma Chloe’d had since we got her suddenly vanished.  To that I want to add . . . I think if I’d known about sodium chlorite when Max got sick we would not have lost him.  I’m sure Dan’s thinking the same about his mastiff Kym, who now rests here on the farm beside Max.

So here’s the story.  We had some animal vandalism about 2 months ago. We live on a dead end gravel road which runs through our property to the homes of the other two families who live on our road.  All the dogs were fine when Wadly fed at 9pm.  They were all fine when I got up the next morning.  By nine that morning we had three injured dogs.

The week prior I had given all the dogs a 3-day course of sodium chlorite drops as a chemical detox, anti-parasitic and to start treating a sinus infection (Chuck) that just wouldn’t go away.  (Cute little dogs are not cute when they have runnels of fluid matting the hair below each eye.  Yuk.  Wake up, people.  Runny eyes are not healthy.)

As to the injuries, we suspect someone staying with a neighbor’s family deliberately struck all three of our dogs with their car.  The injuries were all on the left side indicating the dogs were traveling together nose to tail along the shoulder of the drive in the same direction the car was traveling.  Someone had to deliberately swerved into them to injure all three dogs where and how they were injured.  (Mean people truly suck and anyone who would deliberately harm animals has no productive place in society.  I’m with Fiona (Burn Notice).  “Can’t we just shoot ’em?”  JMPO)

Chloe had a broken back leg (compound fracture inside the left hind leg between the knee/stifle and the hip joint) and the hematoma on her neck had burst internally with the fluid running loose inside the skin of her neck.  Of the three dogs she sustained the most injury.  Happy had a shallow three-corner hole on the outside of her upper left front leg and Patsy had a sore left shoulder, some edema in her upper left front leg and a broken tooth.

With the fluid portion of Chloe’s hematoma dispersed, we could feel the “seed” of the hematoma (hard, round, about the size of a ping pong ball and fastened firmly to the muscle of her neck behind her jaw).  I thought the hematoma would fill with fluid again but it didn’t.  I kept an eye on it to see what would happen to the seed.

Happy’s wound was relatively minor and situated where she could easily reach it to keep it clean.  Patsy’s soreness went away after a couple days.

We couldn’t touch Chloe anywhere except on her head without her scooting away.  Wrestling with her to look at the leg would probably have compounded the damage.  If she stood in just the right spot I could turn my upper half upside down and crane my neck like crazy and get a peek at the wound.  It was on the inside where it couldn’t come in contact with the ground and she was keeping it clean.  In the beginning there were two gaping holes I could have stuck my finger in to at least the knuckle.  Every time I checked, the wound looked awesome; no infection, clean and obviously healing.

Within three weeks Happy was fully healed and Chloe was putting weight on her leg. Shortly thereafter her leg wound closed completely and within six weeks she was running around on her leg like nothing had happened.

So just this last week I noticed the seed of Chloe’s hematoma is gone. The filling around the seed never came back and now there is no longer a lump/seed. How weird is that?  I know sodium chlorite is awesome stuff.  It kills bad bacteria, viruses, detoxifies (chemicals AND heavy metals) and eliminates parasites.  Is it the reason the hematoma seed vanished?

If I hadn’t already started an SC cleanse that got all three dogs so much healthier, what would the injury outcome have been? Would Chloe’s leg wound have developed an infection? Chloe’s got some scarring on the inside of her leg where the bone sliced and diced the skin, but watching her tear around the farm you’d never know she’d ever had a compound fracture.

If you want to learn more about sodium chlorite, go to and download the free e-book.

Solomon Grundy Too

Too flaked in front of the quartz heater
Too flaked in front of the quartz heater

We have 4 cats, one of which used to belong to our son. When Lorr moved Solomon Grundy Too came to live with us. Not too long after joining us Too, in his adventures as a new country cat, managed to dislocate his stifle joint. For those of you who are not conversant with cat architecture, the stifle joint is the forward pointing joint near the top of the hind leg below the hip. By the time we discovered the injury it was too late for repairs so Too now has one less joint in his right hind leg. The head of the tibia/fibula is firmly joined to the center of the femur. It makes for interesting relaxed poses.

Pack behavior

Despite everything we tried to turn his condition around, we lost Maxter last week after months of slowly declining energy and weight.  I really miss him.  He was easily the most intelligent awesome dog I’ve ever had.

With Max gone the pack is adjusting.  We’re in the midst of power struggles as the girls reevaluate their position in the pack.  Patsy, the lead bitch, is too depressed to pick up Max’s duties.  A lot of the power struggles are due to her failing to exude her normal energy and authority.  Happy has taken to sleeping in the shop on the carpeting; shades of “I’m really just a house dog.”  Chloe is barking at the neighbors instead of watching the drive.  Our doggie world is in chaos.

We had a red tailed hawk almost make off with a chicken this morning.  I had to call the alert.  Patsy was embarrassed.

It will take time, and we may lose a chicken or two, but eventually everyone will adjust so the whole farm is covered.  I’ll wait until spring to see if I want to try and find a replacement for Max.  He’s an incredibly hard act to follow.


Chuck has reached another milestone.  Until just recently he had to be wherever I was. Now he’s satisfied if I’m within hearing.  This is a big step for this previously neurotic little fellow.  He’s now getting on Wadly’s lap without enticement, sucking up for scritches and pets, eagle eyeing him for tidbits and goodies.

Instead of being the squishy little fellow he was when he came, he’s a regular little hard body, able to jump into my truck or the van when he’s allowed to go along on my forays away from the farm.  He can now stand on his back legs and get treats.  Big progress!

Caring for rescued dogs

We now have three dogs who are rescues. They each had different needs when they arrived.

Happy needed to know she would always have food. She gets her share of treats and is fed dog food every evening. She is happy. She will always be just a little bit more anxious about food, but it isn’t the big problem it was in the beginning.

Chloe needed to be part of a strong pack with consistent discipline. She gets that and she is learning not to bounce into people and no longer shies away as if she expects to get smacked. She still is a little over-enthusiastic, but that’s improving. She does a great belly-up apology, which is a huge improvement from when she first arrived.

Chuck has been the most interesting rescue because he has both health and emotional issues. Now that most of his issues have been addressed, he’s maturing into a very nice little fellow with an excellent sense of humor. We don’t pamper or fuss over him. He gets the same life the other dogs get with food, love and discipline. I do make an effort to ensure he stays warm as he is not naturally equipped with lots of hair. He doesn’t sleep with us, which I think is a good thing for all. Because he sleeps in his own bed he is becoming more independent, which is healthy. He hates having his ears and eyes doctored, but it is still occasionally required and he has to cowboy up. He has a great over-the-shoulder-you’re-a-traitor look when he trots away after being treated. He is SO amusing.

Last week Wadly had his first experience of giving all the dogs treats. Chucky lined up with all the big dogs to get his share and Terry found it as amusing as I do. Dogs are the best.

Rescue dogs

We have three rescue dogs.  Okay, we have five dogs, three of whom are the product of some sort of rescue.  We’ve pretty much always had dogs, but this is the first time we haven’t been dog snobs.

Max and chickens, summer '08.

Wad bought our first collie in the 70’s before our son was born.  As each dog aged we got a replacement so the current adult could teach the newbee how things are done.  We’ve had collies right up until our last one passed away on Valentine’s Day a year ago.  Sam taught Patsy (Aussie/Collie cross – no relation) how to do her job.

In addition to Patsy we have Maxter, Patsy’s 3/4 Aussie son who is a truly awesome dog, intelligent, handsome, regal, calm and restrained.  He is the easiest of dogs because he is both smart AND willing to obey.

Happy, December '08.

Our first rescue dog is a part hound named Happy, because she truly is a happy dog.  We have had her about 2 years.    She came to us looking like a hat rack, horribly thin from being locked in an apartment with only toilet water to sustain her.  She’s an awesome dog, and until Chloe came, was our primary alert dog.

Chloe and her perfect weather, December '08.

Chloe came to us in good health but with significant behavioral issues.  She barked all the time, was aggressive and overprotective, killed cats and fought with other dogs.  She fits right in here.  Chloe is third in our pack’s hierarchy.  She tried to take on the two older dogs when she first arrived, but they’ve been a pack for a long time and take her on together which keeps her in her place.

Chloe’s got good role models in the older dogs and a real friend in Happy.  Though Happy’s been here longer she’s happy to have Chloe over her in the pecking order and as first alert dog.   Happy has a short coat and isn’t suited to laying out in the rain and snow on guard duty.  Chloe has a coat like a chow or husky, very thick with a dense undercoat very suited to northwest winters.  Her mouth is purple under the tongue which leads me to believe she might be part chow, though she’s quite a bit bigger than the chows I’ve seen.   She came to us as a shepherd/aussie cross, but I’m just not seeing it.  The disposition is wrong, the attitude is wrong and the coat is wrong for that cross.

Chloe’s an excellent first alert dog.  Because the other dogs don’t bark unless there’s a problem they provide a good meter for the validity of her bark and she’s conformed her behavior to their standard.   She protects the chickens, doesn’t bother the cats and is really enjoying life on the farm.  She still flinches occasionally when I reach for her, a product of previous bad handling, but that will pass.  She stays in the truck with the other dogs when we go on rides and has attached herself to Terry as his dog.  Life is good.

There's still some external scarring in the right eye, but he can see out of both.

Our latest rescue is our first inside dog, a little Toy Rat Terrier named Chuck.  He came to us as Charlie, but he really is a Chuck.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one . . .

Chuck had horrible ear mites, external scarring on both eyes, was in really poor health and was terribly afraid of people.  We didn’t think he had a voice for the first six weeks we had him.  He never made a sound.  Now he growls or barks if the big dogs bark, he barks if we have goodies he thinks we should share, barks if he wants up and I’m ignoring him, he barks if someone comes in who isn’t family or Terry comes in carrying something that looks strange.  I don’t mean to imply he’s noisy, but he does communicate, which can include bouncing his front feet noisily on the rug to get our attention.  That’s pretty awesome, considering where he started with us.

For the first two weeks we had him I had to chase him down to pick him up or touch him.  There are benefits to having a small house.  He didn’t have a lot of room to run.  After two weeks he realized I wouldn’t quit until I got him and stopped running so much/so far.  At that point he was okay if I only reached for him with one hand.  Try and pick a very unwilling 7 lb dog up with one hand . . . SO not happening.

It took about six weeks to house break him.  In the beginning I’d take him out, put him in a small pen in the yard, wait for him to do his business and then take him back in.  This went on through snow, storm, cold, wet, typical yucky northwest winter weather.  After a couple weeks I could open the slider and tell him to go out and he’d go . . . reluctantly if it was cold, even more reluctantly if it was wet.  If the weather was nice I could put a temporary pet door in the slider and he’d come and go on his own.

In the beginning I couldn’t do much to help him understand our house was not a bathroom.  He had already been so traumatized any discipline would add to the trauma.  At night I’d invert a laundry basket over his bed to keep him in it until I could put him out first thing in the morning.   The best I could do was get him out and give him the opportunity.  To clean up after him I filled a spray bottle with rug cleaning solution and a spray bottle of deodorizing enzymes and developed a routine: blot up the moisture, spray rug cleaner, rub, clean up with the hand steamer/vacuum, then spray the spot with deodorizing enzymes.  Fortunately our rug is cream colored and the spots showed up easily.  After weeks of telling him he MUST go outside, and cleaning up the messes he made inside, he “got it”.  He is now fully house broken and uses the cat door to go out.  No more accidents in the house, no more opening and closing doors.

Chuck’s a go dog.  If I’m going somewhere, he wants to go.  In the beginning it was separation anxiety, but now he’s having fun.  He’d like to be included in doing the shopping at the farm store and the garden store and the hardware store and . . .  He’s just not quite there yet.  He panics and heads back to the truck if someone approaches when he’s on the ground, though he’s okay if I’m holding him.  I’m sure time will fix this as well.  I can take the big dogs with me so he feels more secure but I may cut that down to just one dog, maybe Happy or Patsy.  All four big dogs is a bit much.  I can count on Happy or Patsy to take care of him.  Hmm.  Maybe Max would be a better choice . . . big dog role model instead of mother figure. Hmm.  Max is mister cool, calm and obedient.  He might be the best choice and it would be good for his ego.  Being the lone male in a pack of females can be trying.

Chuck’s taken to snatching naps beside Terry in Terry’s recliner.  He doesn’t want Terry to reach out and touch him, but he’s willing to share his chair.  That’s progress.

Chuck in his bed on my desk with his sweatshirt and warm rice bag.

So we’ve developed a bit of a routine.  Because I’m at my desk most of the time I build a bed in the corner of my desk using a fabric wrapped sheet of foam around two sides of a foam pillow.  Chuck sleeps there covered with an old armless True Value sweatshirt and snuggled up to a warmed up rice bag.  When I’m not at my desk he’s in a bed in front of the quartz heater in the living room or laying in the sun inside the sliding glass door.  As the weather gets warmer/dryer he is spending more time outside.  I don’t know what he hunts when he goes on his forays, but his little nose is to the ground as he follows interesting scents.  I’m awaiting the day when he actually catches something.  That’ll be fun.