Month: March 2018

Exam Time…

The Puppy Foundation Assessment Certificate

Mazikeens Puppy Foundation Assessment Certificate and Rosette.

Colour me pink and call me proud.

Yes, Mazikeen passed her Puppy Foundation exams.  I thought, if I am honest, that we would not pass as she can be a little distracted, which is due to her breed being super alert and watching for everything.

I had to prove that I could give both verbal and non-verbal commands, some and that she could understand and follow them.  As well as this I had to show I could inspect my dog and check everything with her cooperation throughout.

The first test was recalling her with one word only, and when she got to me to sit and wait for her reward.  The second recall was like the last, but this time, littered between her and me were balls, toys, snacks and bowls of food, so lots of distraction.  The time came, and with one word she recalled straight back to me ignoring all the distractions that she passed and sat in front of me waiting for her reward.  As she did the best recall sets she was given a prize, which was lovely dried fish blocks.

Next up was for her to sit and stay for 10 seconds with only one command, and me to walk away.  Obediently she sat, and I walked backwards away from her, all the time keeping eye contact, and mentally telling her to stay.  After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting I was allowed to call her, so rather than saying anything, I nodded to her and she ran over and received her reward.

The next test was one of the hardest, which was walking on loose-lead walking.  Now, if you are a dog family, you will know that dogs just want to pull and explore quite literally everywhere and be about 30 foot in front of us.  Mazikeen, being a springer with boundless energy just wants to be running all the time, and so quite a lot of times will be pulling that much, she will be walking, or hopping should I say, on her back legs as the harness stops her getting any further.  The day before Maz and I went off to a quiet field with no distractions to train as I was determined to get her walking with me.  The only way I could do this was to drop pieces of smelly treats in front of her so that she walked with me, this worked for a bit, but then a bird would pass or a tree would creak in the wind and off she went back up on two legs (Darwin would have been proud).  After 30 minutes solid, she finally seemed to grasp what I wanted her to do.  Before we went into the training hall I practised outside too with her for another half hour.  Our time came and we had to start at one cone, she had to sit, then we walked at a leisurely pace to a cone at the other end of the hall, she had to sit, then we walked back to the first cone.  However, Maz decided that for this she would go deaf at the cones, and just did not want to sit.  I got quite frustrated and thought that this was her and me failing.  She finally sat, and when we went to walk she seemed to be okay, with the odd moment of wanting to dash off, as there were dogs either side of the hall, and two in particular (brothers) were making that much noise it distracted me, nevermind Maz.  The instructor told me to do it again and told the old man and woman to control their dogs.  This was our last time.  Before we set off, the instructor told us that apart from the distractions some of our loose-lead walking was “beautiful”.  We had to shine and do this, this was my nemesis and I wanted us to beat it.  GO!  She sat, I nodded, we walked, she was focused on me all the way, she sat on command, I nodded, then we returned back to the first cone, and she sat again without needing command.  Success!

Finally, I had to do the full dog inspection, and it was done.

So, what now?  I hear you ask.  Well, I have enrolled us in the intermediate training course, which when we have passed that advanced, then finally agility, and with a bit of luck competitions.

Dog Biscuits, Homemade…

IMG_4373

Here the biscuits that I said I would be making in a previous post.  Needless to say, the dogs love them.  So, if you want to make your dogs some, here is the recipe I used.

Ingredients

  • 180ml Chicken Stock (Cold)
  • 120ml Light Olive Oil
  • 300g Wholemeal Organic Flour
  • 90g Skimmed Milk Powder
  • 25g Light Brown Cane Sugar
  • 1 Egg whisked

Add all the dried ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  Make a well in the middle and add the egg, oil and stock and mix to form a dough.

Need for a minute or two until it is the texture of pastry, and roll out until it is about half an inch (13mm or about 1.5cm).

Grab your cookie cutter and get to work cutting, placing each of the shapes onto a floured baking tray.

Pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes at fan 130, conventional 150c/300f or gas 2.  Let them cook and then treat your best friends to some delicious biscuits.

You do not have to use chicken stock, you could use beef, pork or lamb.  I would avoid vegetable stock though as it would be a little bland for them.

The next ones I make I will be adding parmesan to the dried mix, and maybe a teaspoon of garlic granules.

As well as making the dogs their biscuits, I also made them lambs liver and made a doggy gravy, however, I cheated with the gravy as I can buy dog gravy granules, so after frying the liver, I removed it and chopped it all up into chunks, added about 350ml water to the pan, stirred it to get all the meaty bits stock to the bottom of the pan then added the granules, then put the liver back in to the pan to get a thorough dowsing of the gravy, then decanted it all into a dish and popped it onto the fridge to cool down.  I served this with carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, and a hand full of cooked rice as I still had some in the fridge.  Again everything was eaten in record time, so they obviously loved it.

Natural Food…

bowl_beef_squareMy regular visitors will know that our dogs are our lives, we quite literally live and breath for them.  When it comes to food, the same applies.  Years ago we did not know any better and thought that the leading brands of dog food were the best, and as such we always fed our dogs the top brands, along with dried kibble.  However, there has been large-scale campaigns, adverts and other media surrounding what is really in dog food.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the food that we were feeding the dogs was good, but when you look at the composition of it, it is meat/animal derivatives, lots of grains and, alarmingly things I would never give my dogs.  Lilu who was the first dog we had together, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, supposed to live only to 12, was 17 when she passed away, so we were doing something right.  She was given lots of other food apart from standard dog food, including tuna, salmon, cod, fresh meat, vegetables etc.

With the new campaigns, we have looked long and hard at what we feed our dogs which coincided with us getting Mazakeen.  We have moved from the so-called top foods that contain stuff we do not like to feed them, to a natural diet.  We have always fed the dogs both wet and dry food, let’s face it, no one would like to eat just dried food all their life, therefore we mix both.  Today I have taken the next step in the process and have been cooking kidney, rice, sweet potatoes and carrots to add to the store bought natural foods that have to be a minimum of 60% meat/poultry/fish the rest vegetables, minerals and vitamins, and gluten-free, oh yes, no derivatives, just propper meat etc.

Mazikeen is not the best eater as being an English Springer Spaniel, they are not food obsessive.  When training her I have been using 100% natural treats like sheeps lungs, squid, pigs intestines, tripe and other stinky dried items, and she loves them, but with her dinner, she’s never too interested, unless we make it into a game, or have Harper sit next to her and tell her that we’ll give Harper her dinner, and put the bowl next to Harper when disinterested, then Mazikeen eats.

Today was a triumph as I mixed some steamed rice, sweet potato carrots and some kidney in a dish with Scottish salmon oil (both have always had the oil for their coat and joints) and put it down for Mazikeen.  I have never seen her finish her food so fast in all her life.

As Mazikeen has had lots of protein in her diet she has always been very active, and of course, puppies need lots of it, but we are now adding more bulking foods to her dinners as she is very slim, and at six months she needs to put on size now.  Every four weeks I have taken her to the vets to see the puppy nurse for weigh-ins, check-ups and worming treatments, and she has put on weight each time, but I think she is still skinny.  Maybe I am used to large and bulky dogs rather than slender ones, but my 48 years of having dogs tell me that she is skinny, and it is not just that she was the smallest of the litter.  On saying that, if I was to run about as much as she does I would be skinny too, but alas I am not.

I have bought lambs livers for the next cook-up and will be adding more sweet potato, carrots and peas along with some rice for starch.  But I have also been perusing the internet for recipes for dog treats and other delights they will love, and at this rate, it may become a full-time job.  I may post some of the recipes I make if people are interested.

Back to Baking…

I have been dying to bake for quite some time, but the so-called diet has kept the urge at bay, but this weekend, I thought stuff this, I am making something. It was a toss-up between this cake or my beetroot and dark chocolate, however, since it was my first bake of the year, and due to the abundance of Easter cakes about I decided to make Cherry and Marzipan Cake.  It has a layer of marzipan running through it.  I make the cake batter, put half in the cake tin, covered it with a layer of marzipan then the rest of the batter, and covered it with flaked almonds.

Lately, we have been really bad, and this week I have gone overboard.  I went to Patisserie Valerie and bought luxury cakes which does not sound too bad, but when you take into account that I had a massive Chinese meal consisting of beef green pepper black bean sauce, salt and pepper chicken, fried rice, chips before the cakes then the fat boy pants really needed to come out.

I was going to bake a cheese and onion pie too, but M pointed out that I would be one meal away from a heart attack, so I will make that next week.  In the meantime, I made cheese macaroni with tomatoes, onions and curry.  M does not like that dish, and I had made enough for four people and ate quite a lot of it, so heart attack city here I come.

 

WIP Hat…

Well, what can I tell you about my latest knitting item, you know, the hat for breast cancer, I ripped it off the needles.  Why? you may ask, well I was doing it on DPN’s then moved to circular needles, but when I got so far I could see that it really would not be big enough for an adult, and I was doing the medium size, so it had to go.  I take a large size in hats and it would not go anywhere near me, M is Medium and he struggled, and it was quite a loose knit, so really it should have been okay, but nope.  I also noticed that I had cocked up a few of the twist stitches.

Since we have the so-called Beast from the East 2 hitting us again this weekend I will start it all again, and cross my fingers that it works this time.  I was enjoying doing it as the rib is a twisted stitch and the main pattern was lots of YO, SSK, K2Tog and P2SSO, so it was quite rhythmical, even hypnotic.

I have a few weeks to do both and get one off to the charity, so fingers crossed we are snowed in and progress will be made.

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