February 4, 2013
It’s been a while since I had old dogs in the house, but I’m heading there again. My two border collies, Maggie and Gene, are eight and nine years old. Gene is still in tip-top shape at nine, but Maggie has been starting to show signs of pain in the last year or two.
Maggie is one of those extreme border collies that does everything at 150% effort. She is not able to pace herself or rest when needed. Her mental commitment to working sheep is so intense that even when she’s not doing something very physically demanding- like holding sheep in a corner- she still overheats easily and gets exhausted. In fact, even talking about sheep will make all of her muscles tense up and shiver, and she can become tired-out just by this kind of teasing conversation!
I started noticing that after a “job” during the day, that night, she’d have difficulty jumping up on the couch or bed. I took her to a veterinary chiropractor, thinking perhaps her back was out. But the vet felt that it was her joints- she said they felt “crunchy.”
January 28, 2013
NPR featured a recent study that showed that domestic dogs are genetically optimized to digest carbohydrates, unlike their wolf ancestors. This is cool; it seems to fall in line with what many biologists are now thinking- that dogs weren’t intentionally domesticated by people, but rather domesticated themselves by adapting to living near humans, and living off of the human waste stream.
It further explains why dogs can do at least ok, if not thrive, off of kibble, which is largely made up of grain sources. Wolves cannot: when fed dog kibble, they decline in health, and ultimately cannot reproduce. Wolves require a diet high in animal proteins to fuel their big frames and large brains.
For those of us who make dog food at home, this is helpful new information. Many people have felt compelled to mimic a wolf’s diet, thinking that they should return to what’s biologically appropriate for a dog’s ancestors to best feed the dog. But reproducing the high-meat diet of wolves is expensive and difficult! This gives new credence to the idea that including grain in most dogs’ diets is fine, if not optimal for the typical dog. It’s certainly much more affordable and feasible than doing a mostly-meat diet.
January 13, 2013
What kind of scat is that? Poo from the Foona-Lagoona Baboona? (The remarkable Foon, who eats sizzling hot pebbles that fall off the moon.)
Well, I think I know.
January 6, 2013
Mid-December, we went razor clamming again at Grayland Beach. Such an aptly named town, since this time of year, the whole place is in shades of blue-gray. It was challenging clamming- very windy, and the wind blew a little skim of surf up over the sand, making it nearly impossible to see clam “shows.” We finally resorted to just digging in random spots, the suction created from pulling up one core of sand would dry out a radius, often revealing where nearby clams were hiding. We got our limit both days, with patience and persistence; but heard from the espresso stand lady on the way out of town that many people were disappointed with their haul.
The collies got some daily beach running.
December 10, 2012
Moses arrived here in the spring of 2010, a middle-aged, retired show dog. His former owner sent him home with me in a most presentable form, fully bathed and groomed, ready for a show. Here is what he looked like upon arrival, fearfully meeting grubby Bronte:
In retrospect, the bath was a bad idea, as he was not waterproof for a few weeks, and got really wet when it rained. But it was mild weather, and he survived the short but difficult transition to farm life.