Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fieldtrip to Sheepfold

We finally checked out the Middlesex Fells Sheepfold. Hagrid followed a golden retriever into the tall dry grass, romped around while the hay swayed in the breeze, and came all the way from across the field when called! I didn't even have treats with me.

So many dogs, so much fun!

Hagrid's favorite pal of the day was a white American Bull Terrier just over a year old. This guy was super playful, vocal, and ran like the wind. Hagrid was in heaven. I was distressed when I saw an owner of a nervous (around the Am. bd) greyhound slap him on the side of the face for "harrassing" her dog. He wasn't harrassing the dog; he wanted to play! I would be SO mad if someone slapped my dog when danger is not imminent.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hagrid's first swim!

Drove to CT over the weekend to celebrate mom's birthday. I buckled Hagrid in his Ruffrider Roadie harness, secured him to the middle back seat, and off we went. The seatbelt harness was a result of a previous trip to CT in which dad noticed that I allowed (!) Hagrid to ride on my lap. He was so disturbed by the potential of injury that it inspired me to do research on canine restraint devices. After searching high and low, I decided on the roadie. Hagrid took to it right away, my magic dog.

OK, great news for Mass Pike users: there are now dog walk areas at select exits! I did not have my camera handy, but next time I will be sure to snap a photo. There were no muttmitts, and some areas are bigger than others, but woohoo! and hurray! to whomever put the fenced in areas for our canine friends.

In CT Hagrid had a great time enjoying 24/7 access to a yard. I fed him outside and he immediately went to work on hiding his bone and digging holes. He also loves watching the birds and catching insects in the grass. We visited the O&G off-leash dog park in Southbury, CT, a spacious natural reserve for canines complete with trails, fresh water creek, green grass, and muttmitts. Hagrid went swimming for the first time. He followed a big, old golden retriever into the creek and paddled away to his happy heart's content. I was delighted. He knows how to swim! Again no camera nearby, but I promise pictures next time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Off-leash fun in Cambridge, MA

They say there is no better exercise for a dog than dog-dog play. Two of our favorite local places for off-leash fun are the field in the back of the King Open School on Cambridge St. (not an official off-leash park, but at select times many people let their well-socialized dogs off-leash and everyone who does this picks up) and Danehy Park. Dogs are social animals, so they need to play with other dogs. Hagrid is happiest in the company of dogs who love to run around and chase him. We're still working on a solid recall (he has selective hearing, or is too smart to want to be lured away from his most favoritest activity on earth by silly old me, his human companion). Hagrid's a small dog with a big personality. I'm always surprised when big dog humans worry that their dog will frighten Hagrid. Nope, no, siree, Bob! Hagrid promotes positive press for small dogs by just being himself. (That is, except for the fat ass guy sitting on his lawn chair watching the dogs play at the dog field, and commenting that Hagrid was way too hyper for him. Hrmpf! While I'm on this topic, what's up with people who know nothing about canine behavior and body language but feel free to comment on other people's dogs? For example, when Hagrid got down on his belly to signal another dog to play with him, someone told me that my dog was scared. Hello?! He's not scared! He's saying, come play with me! And when Hagrid was lying down after a vigorous romp, an obese lady told me my dog was lazy. Good thing I observed the rule that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. I don't know how much longer I can hold my tongue the next time I am the recipient of a rude or ignorant comment about my dog. Dumbasses should shut up and mind their own business.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

City dog visits farm

Last week Hagrid and I visited Codman Community Farms in Lincoln, MA. Dogs are welcome, but understandably not inside any of the farm buildings. We saw wild flowers, free range ducks, chickens, and turkeys, lambies, goats, cows, and even a pig! Hagrid was delighted to romp around on the farm paths. Fresh farm eggs are available, as are cuts of meat in a freezer in the farm store.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vegetarian human, carnivorous dog

Two and a half weeks ago I began to feed Hagrid a raw diet. I switched because all the evidence was pointing to raw as the most nutritious and best for canine health. So far he's taken to it with gusto! I'm going slowly as all the books suggest. He's had chicken wing, chicken drumstick, chicken neck, chicken giblets, chicken liver, fresh mackerel (head and all!), fresh anchovies from Greece, beef tongue, beef liver, beef short rib. I want to add turkey, lamb, rabbit, and other meats slowly. In addition, he enjoys veggies (fresh and cooked), fruits, anything that smells yummy. I supplement with wild salmon oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, digestive enzyme powder, garlic, and brewer's yeast. Since the switch, Hagrid has had no skin symptoms, produces well-formed, odorless stool half the size of before, and drinks noticeably less water.

I try to feed him the best quality I can find and afford. My sources for meat: the Mayflower Poultry Company, Austin Brothers Valley Farm at the Central Square farmers' market, River Rock Farm at the Davis Square farmers' market, New Deal Fish Market, Trader Joe's, Harvest Co-op, and sometimes Whole Foods. Butchers, farmers, and fisherman are the secret healers of the world. All the people I've met are kind, helpful, knowledgeable, and honest. No request is too small. It's a shame I've missed out on meat shopping since going vegetarian when I was 13. Nothing is quite like the meat markets of my childhood in Hong Kong or some markets I visited in Europe, but New Deal and Mayflower come close to it. I love the return to that idyllic frame of reference to the food we eat. Other places I shop for food: Capone's, Union Square farmers' market, Pemberton Farms, Market Basket, Shaw's, Shalimar, Evergood in Cambridge.

Here are some fun links to follow: http://www.eatwild.com/products/massachusetts.html, http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/, http://www.buylocalfood.com/index.html.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hagrid's eye issues

A few weeks ago Hagrid's third eyelid was red, swollen, and protruded out. I called the vet but he was out of town for a conference. Meanwhile, I did some research on canine eye conditions and decided to that flushing his eye out with sterile eye irrigating solution would be the best course of action. After just two washes, Hagrid woke up good as new. My best guess is that a small hair might have gotten in his eye from the haircut I'd given him earlier in the week.

While playing with a neighbor's black lab, Hagrid suddenly shrieked. He'd never done that before. I couldn't find anything wrong at the time and the dogs were playing again in no time. Later that day I noticed that the injury was on Hagrid's left outer eyelid: a scratch that didn't seem too bad. I washed it with hydrogen peroxide and put neosporin on it for a few days. It healed nicely.

Then Hagrid played with Gunner, a chocolate lab puppy two months his junior, his favorite pup to rough house with. The next morning, his third eyelid was red, swollen, protruding, and his outer eyelid wound had reopened.

In addition, he had a new scratch on his eyeball near the outer lid scratch. This time I took him in to see the vet.

Poor Hagrid hates the vet. His first meeting with the good doctor (as opposed to the doctor I don't like) was his neutering. That experience seems to be seared in his memory as an historic EVIL event; try as I do to feed him treats, bring him to visits just to socialize, remain upbeat, the pup is too smart to be fooled into changing his mind about the place and the good doctor. I'm talking screaming, shrieking, climbing onto me, and pawing/clawing on for dear life the minute we are in the exam room. The good doctor had to sedate him in order to examine his eye properly. The good news is that there was no damage to the cornea. He gave us a triple antibiotic with hydrocortisone ointment for the scratch. As for the swollen third eyelid, aka cherry eye, he said he did not expect that to go down on its own, and that he would likely have to send us to an opthalmalgic specialist.

I am growing more concerned about Hagrid's stress level at the good doctor's office and the injections of sedative. He screams in pain even though the needle is the smallest one that exists. The injection makes him drowsy and lose muscle movement, but he is still conscious, and even then he was making sad wimpering noises as the doctor examined his eyes. Surgery under anesthesia is something I would like to avoid, given his reaction to his neutering at age 5 months.

Canine ectropion is a condition common in some breeds, including English bull dogs, shar peis, basset hounds, and BMDs. Not bichon frises! Mild cases can be treated with regular irrigation with sterile saline eye fluid. Otherwise surgery is indicated.

Off to alternative medicine I go. I learned about the herbs eyebright and goldenseal and decide to try an eyewash of goldenseal first. (I take him off the ointment after 3 days of use.) At Nam Buk Hong Chinese Herbs in Chinatown I buy $1 worth of goldenseal. The woman tells me it's not for use in the eye, though, and she's very worried that I intend to use it as an eyewash. She kept saying that it was "for the inside." Then she shows me how much I should use per cup of boiling water (about a gram). I realize that this must be the best deal I stumbled on--hurray! At home I boil about a gram of goldenseal in a cup of distilled water for 20 minutes, add 1/2 tsp. sea salt, let cool, strain a few times through cheesecloth, disinfect (by boiling) a bulb syringe, and instill into Hagrid's eye 3x/day. He now has a golden yellow streak on his face. It's his warrior face. My bichon frise, my braveheart dog.