And call from Tonga…
I woke up this morning in a complete panic, my heart was beating so fast I could hear it. I sat up and quickly reached for the dogs, who were happily sleeping on the bed.
I had just woke from what I considered a nightmare, this is what happened.
M and I decided to go to London, but rather than take our car we decided to go by bus. This proves how illogical dreams are as we take our car everywhere, all over the UK and Ireland, and when I have had to go to London alone, I have always taken the train, as usual, I was only there for an hour or two at most. So, in this dream, we were on an old bus and sat in a double seat facing forward, and the dogs were lying behind on the floor at seats that face the middle but were looking at us every time I turned around. After some time we decided this was where we needed to get off, grabbed our stuff and alighted the bus.
The bus pulled away and the stark realisation that the dogs were still on the bus hit me. I quickly gave M my stuff and started running after the bus, M followed quickly behind as it seemed in the dream he was not disabled and I could run without any asthma effects, (I do love this side of dreams). However, the bus was too fast and I was not Superman, so could not keep up. I decided that a cab would be the best bet, and get them to follow it, but for once, there was none, which is not like London, which is awash with them. I kept running in the hope of getting to the bus but then realised that I was not running on the road and was on a pathway that seemed far from the natural road. I stopped and told M we had to get back to the road.
I knew that the dogs would realise we were gone and as soon as the doors on the bus opened they would run off looking for us, Harper is road aware so should not venture in harm’s way, but Mazikeen however, is only 7 months old and has no road sense at all, and I knew that they may not stick together and would be lost forever and even killed in the roads trying to find us.
We turned around to get back to the road and I started to run, then, thankfully woke up.
Although it was a dream, and everything was wrong with it, my sleeping mind could not pick fault with it and kept going along with this ludicrous jaunt. I have had really odd dreams in the past, and have realised that what was going on was wrong and concluded I must be dreaming and promptly woke, however, this time the dream kept me going on this wild goose chase, or should that be wild dog chase?
After finally calming down and settling back into my slumber my phone rang. I jumped up with a fright, the second time through the night, grabbed my phone to see a call from Tonga, at the same time M received a call from the same number. The call lasted one second, but enough to make me wide awake. These calls are scam calls, I knew as I had read online about them, so quickly blocked the number, and changed my settings to only let my phone ring if their number was in my contacts. By this time it was 5:15, so I resigned that I had no chance of sleep now. Fingers crossed for a better night tonight.
Sitting at my desk, the lighting is low, not by my doing. The weather, although we were promised temperatures higher than Spain, has not stopped raining, so much so the roads were flooded in many places.
Well, I ought to leave but the rain it never stops, and I’ve no particular place to go.
Earlier I needed to go out and get the dogs a 15kg bag of dried food that I give them with the cooked stuff I make them. I also wanted to go to my favourite northern supermarket Booths. Now, from where we live to the supermarket is a 20 miles round trip, There is another Booths, but that is a 30-mile round trip, so all in all, it is quite a distance. Not that I mine, when getting my unpasteurised milk, I have to drive 26 miles, but I am a bit of what we call in the UK, a petrol head.
My plans for the morning was to go to the dump/tip and get rid of some of the accumulated crap from the garden, and the old gas barbeque. Take the dogs for a walk, then off to Booths and the pet warehouse. Build the new barbeque, and give it a test run, because this is the law in the barbeque world, also on Thursday I could smell someone barbequing so that really got my juices flowing. The other plans were to plant some more clematis and other climbers. Of course, then to sit in the garden and enjoy this. But this was not to be. When letting the dogs out this morning at 7am I thought it was quite mild, I did not have a stitch on I do admit, but then, my garden is totally private and not overlooked, and I did have some hope for the day, however, as I pottered out there I could feel the spits of rain and knew that it was all about to change.
I decided to treat myself to a leather tape measure. I have to admit, it is beautifully made, and the smell of leather is divine. I had seen it on the wrist of a fellow knitter on Instagram and decided I just had to have one. Along with the soggy post it was in the mail this morning, wrapped and sealed from China. How many times have we all been there looking for a measuring tape, well now I have one to hand, pardon the pun.
So with the rain still battering the windows, I think I will watch a film and do some knitting, and of course, keep dry.
Fingers crossed for a dry day tomorrow.
I was talking to the trainer last week regarding the food that I make for the dogs, including the biscuits, and she said that she used to do that but after a few weeks gave it up as she didn’t have time to do it. This I found odd. I prep the veg, usually carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans and broccoli and shove it all into the electric pressure cooker, and press steam. That’s it! Not hard or time-consuming at all, it takes all of 5 minutes to prep and the cooker does the rest in 5 minutes. The only thing that takes more time is cooking the meats. I usually make them lambs liver, kidney and hearts, turkey, chicken, pork, but even that does not take much time. I usually just put some olive oil in a large pan, and lightly fry the liver and kidney for about 10 minutes. The liver I cook as it comes, which is usually slices, which breaks up in the pan, but the kidneys are whole, so I slice them before cooking. So about 10 minutes whilst the veg is cooking and cooking. The whole lot get decanted into dishes and popped into the fridge. I timed it today and it took less than 30 minutes, and that is done every two or three days. I also do rice in the pressure cooker all of 3 minutes and that too goes into a container in the fridge. In a week I would spend about an hour to an hour and a half each week to cook everything for them, which in my mind is not that long at all.
The biscuits obviously take longer but when it is raining like today, there is nowhere to go, and so I may as well make a batch for them and put them in an airtight container.
Last week I decided to do the kidneys in their own doggie gravy and added some garlic granules, this went down very well.
One thing I have to keep in mind is that balance is the main thing.
- High-quality protein (meat, seafood, dairy or eggs)
- Fat (meat or oil)
- Carbohydrates (grains or vegetables)
- Calcium (dairy)
- Essential fatty acids (egg yolks or oatmeal)
I also give the dogs boiled eggs and add pure salmon oil to their meals, and of course, they get dog vitamins. All in all, I think they have a healthy intake of food, and I enjoy making them lovely foods.
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.
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.
- 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.
My 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.