Tag Archives: Berner Sennenhund

Dame Mix-a-Lot

Nothing to do with big butts, promise. Mine is being carefully kept in check by energetic walking and playing with my dogs, 3 times a day, and a run every second day. I’m also going to get back into my yoga… might have to do it in a separate room, of course, because according to Berners: if you are on the ground, you are on their turf and they pile on top of you in a big happy furry love flop. Not so nice when you’re trying to go from Downward Dog into Plank etc.

Our Dog Food Adventure unfortunately came to a painful end, after Gina developed a horribly inflamed stomach and colon and was pooping blood and had almost permanent diarrhoea for 2 days. She was so stoic and polite about it, that I don’t really know when the problem started, and only saw that something was wrong when it got that bad. I felt terrible for my poor, gentle girl. But she’s all fixed up now, after 2 weeks of various medications to soothe her stomach and colon lining, to put back the good bacteria in her tummy and some antibiotics to kill any nasties that decided to take root while she was under the weather. I switched her to “sensitive stomach” prescription diet and she is doing impressively well on it. Stomach is settled, good poops, she seems more energetic and full of vim and vigour – but that’s also because the weather is finally turning to Berner weather: icy cold, lots of rain, lots of puddles, mounds of fallen leaves under every tree! Azzie also had tummy issues with the diet I had them on – but nothing as severe. She had ups and downs and it was highly unpredictable which way her tummy would go each day. She also developed an itchy problem. So I switched her over to “sensitive skin” prescription diet and she is doing remarkably well too :) Besides the occasional “dietary indiscretion” which causes some tummy woes, she is in excellent health. The itching subsides during the day, but I think there is something else she is allergic too (besides GRASS, which she LOVES to roll around in when it’s wet!) in the other food or treats that they get, so I’m in the process of elimination now to see when the itching stops – until then, she gets a Loratadine 10mg tablet every evening to help her relax enough to sleep. (Vet approved, don’t worry, and the absolute mildest dose I can give)

So unfortunately, the Dog Food Adventure is over – some dogs do very well on raw diets, some do very well on “human food” diets, but my girls just need to stick to something tried and tested. They are now very healthy, and very happy, and this makes me a happy furry mommy.

What else…. hmmm *thinks*

I’ve put all my items up in my shop again, but haven’t had any clients ordering vintage clothing so far…

I am strangely both happy and sad about that. The perfectionist in me grimaces at the idea that I will get an order and I would not get it PERFECT first time, in time, so I don’t WANT any orders! But the vintage lover and creative side of me says PLEASE! Bring it!

I tried making stuff for myself (I have a fabric stash… *hangs head*) but I just seem to lack the inclination. I did finish a nice wiggle skirt, done in black micro suede, but as usual, I did it “my way” and it came out nothing like the way it was meant to. It’s like when I make for myself, my perfectionist self wanders off to a back room and ignores me until it’s “all over” and she can come out and say “told you so!”

I do want to make some casual tops and some yoga pants, just for fun. I have some GREAT patterns. Some are not “vintage” inspired – they just looked simple and useful.

 

I was pondering trying NaNoWriMo this year. I just wish my brain could stick to one idea. I have so many “snippets” but I just can’t seem to “see” further than the scene that I initially write.

My husband is away, again. I miss him terribly. Very little contact, so it’s very quiet in the evenings for me and the girls.

I read. I watch my tv series. I watch movies.

He might be going away again, quite soon after he gets back from this one.

Not sure how I feel about that yet.

I just take it day by day. Try and fill the hours after sundown.

 

I’ve also, after much thought, decided to go back to being vegetarian. (lacto-ovo, for now, in case anyone cares about the technical stuff) after many years “break” from it.

I initially decided I wanted to be vegetarian at the age of 16. It lasted 10 years, and then due to various things, my diet was NOT up to par, and I became anaemic and under weight and very weak and had terribly low blood pressure (even more so than I normally do) and I finally saw the doctor and she said I _have_ to either fix up my vegetarian diet (which I did not see happening, due to the circumstances at the time, which I won’t go in to now) or start eating meat. I chose meat. Now I will admit that I like the taste of meat – I am a meat eater, no doubt – and that’s not why I chose to go veg last time, nor this time. I simply couldn’t handle the inner mental/emotional battle that I seem to have with myself about eating animals whenever I think about it too much.

I’m not going to evangelise to my husband and force him to come over to the “Veg Side” – we have tofu – this is not an activist thing, or a soap box thing. It’s a personal thing and has nothing to do with him. I will continue making him DELICIOUS food, with meat, and I will also make myself delicious food, without meat. Simple as that. More work, but that’s totally OK. I’ve been eating meat-less for about a week or so now, and I must admit, I feel great. I’ve lost 2 or 3 pounds (the bathroom scale is set to pounds, to help me learn the silly American way :) and the stove is set to Fahrenheit) and I feel lighter. Of course it could be my imagination, the weather, and the exercise :) I’ll take whatever I get, really!

 

I’ve also tried to start incorporating meditation in my day. Just 10 or 15 minutes to start. Some days I forget, or I just don’t “feel like it” – but the days I do make a plan, I feel calmer and more patient (especially with the dogs, and annoying people)

It will take time to reach a proper meditation level to feel any REAL benefits (like yoga) but I know it works, as I used to do it a lot when I was on my own. It would take the form of a silent ride, sometimes, or a walk with the dogs in the rain, with not another soul around, or a longer than usual run with music in my ears and the wind blowing me forward.

I have rediscovered Debussy (not just Claire de Lune) and the dogs and I spent an afternoon relaxing (they were snoring, happily) while we enjoyed his music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Dog Food Adventure

I am part of an excellent and highly informative group who all own Bernese Mountain Dogs. 95% of these people (breeders and just regular owners – not that you could call Berners “regular” dogs :) but that’s another story for another time) feed the BARF (or Raw diet) or what we call “human food” diets.
I’ve been wanting to try the Raw diet for my girls for a while, but it’s complicated and I’ve never really had the time to sit down and work it all out. Plus, being overseas, it would get very expensive, and we also don’t really have space in our freezer/fridge for all the extra meats etc.
However, I DO know that my Gina especially, LOVES eating _real_ food as opposed to dry dog food. We have them both on an excellent organic brand (Castor&Pollux Organix) which they have done well on, but Gina sometimes just leaves her food and doesn’t bother eating it. It bores her, I suppose. So I started trying to entice her back to her bowl by adding some chicken (cooked breasts) and rice (brown they don’t digest so well, but white seems fine) and she tucked in to her food with great enthusiasm… for a while… I still added about half the amount of dry food that I would normally feed, and made up the rest of the meal with chicken and rice. She loves it, Azzie devours it (I have to hand feed her sometimes when she’s really hungry, as she just sucks it all up like a vacuum cleaner) and they both seemed happy like that.
Then a while back we had a braai (bbq/cookout – whatever your culture wants to call it) and I bought them each a large juicy steak. My husband cooked them on the fire (no salt no added anything) and made sure they were rare.
I chopped up the steak into small cubes and fed them each about 5 or 7 pieces in their food.
Gina’s reaction was almost COMICAL in her zeal. She licked her bowl CLEAN. It was wonderful!
So for the next few days they had little bits of steak in their bowls and they were super happy… I thought this was a good time to start thinking about either a Raw diet, or what I’ve read about – the whole food diet.

wholefoods
Carefully balanced meals (“stews” and other things) for your dogs weight and calorie needs, made from “human food”
I downloaded a book on my Kindle – with much recommendation from people in my BMD group – called “Feed Your Best Friend Better” by Rick Woodford.
fybfb

So today: our adventure begins…
With their “lunch” (half a bowl of rice and chicken, usually) I added some scrambled eggs (no salt or pepper or anything else) – just a small amount, to see how their stomachs react, and also to test out their eating reaction :)
Gina, of course, sniffed her bowl and each piece of egg before eating it, but she also finished her bowl and licked it clean (with only chicken and rice, no steak!) and of course Azzie went back to double check there was nothing left over…
Now they are both snoozing in their spots – happy pups.

_RAC6841 _RAC6847

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good start!

I love my dogs and I want to be sure they are getting a balanced diet filled with all the nutrients and good stuff they need – and I want them to be HAPPY about food time as well. We share everything else with our dogs, why not our (good!) food?
I will be doing my best to keep this adventure updated… so if you are at all interested in feeding your dog Raw/wholefood instead of commercial kibble… keep an eye on this story!

A mental raccoon moment

*rustle rustle*

Hello :)

I realised I haven’t posted in a while and I wanted to gather myself a bit and put down my thoughts from the last few weeks.

 

* Azzie is coming along very nicely. We seem to have sorted out her tummy issues with careful application of 100% pure pumpkin for when it was very bad (yes, I will swear by it) and boiled chicken and plain rice (white or brown, it doesn’t matter – they both work) – first as total meal, and then adding her dry food very slowly. Now she is eating her full portion of dry food, but still with chicken and rice (just a little bit) which I am slowly removing, once we know her stomach is completely settled and stable.  I think they both got a bug, which they passed back and forth between them for a few days. So I washed all their toys, bowls, Kongs and bedding and blankets and it seems to have gone away… We’re taking it slow, and we’re sticking to one brand of food, too. I don’t think our search for the “right brand” helped her puppy tummy, either.

As far as her training, manners, behaviour are concerned: we are impressed. She sleeps through the night, no issues and she is learning very fast. They are highly intelligent, these dogs, and she’s definitely on a par with Gina, despite her young age. We’re working on a few bad habits (that she picked up from Gina as well) with both of them, but we see progress every day, so it’s a positive thing. I’m trying my best to use positive training – but I would say I use a mix of it. I’m not 100% positive reinforcement, as much as I would like to be.

I adore Azzie, and I am learning to love her (I will admit we butted heads a lot in the beginning and we still do sometimes – she’s very stubborn) but I must say that it was much simpler with just Gina. She and I were tight. Close. Amigos during the day and when husband went away. I just hope she doesn’t feel like she’s been usurped by Azzie, because I still love Gina far more – that’s being honest. I don’t dislike Azzie – not in the least – and I wouldn’t want to lose her now – she is part of our family and we stick by her through everything –  but I think that it was such a huge undertaking, such an enormous jolt to our quiet little lives, when she arrived, that my … id? my ego? my… nature?… something… it’s still settling. She’s only been with us just on 2 months now. It feels like forever though – and not always in a good way, to put it bluntly. I was so used to my calm, gentle, well-behaved G-Girl, that it was just an attack on my senses: this wild, stubborn, enormous pawed, white toothed monster who took whatever she wanted, ate everything, lay where she wanted, didn’t listen to anyone, pushed Gina around and jealously destroyed toys that Gina had had for years if we paid too much attention elsewhere. At least _that_ has eased off.

She is lovely though, and her personality is finally emerging and she’s calming down and settling in with us and I know she is happy now she has a family too – and I would never take that away from her. I would never want to! She grows on you :) I am sure that in a years time we will look back and laugh (and sigh in relief) that all this “crazy” is over and she’s a sweet, kind,  gentle, CALM, little munchkin – like her big “sister” Gina.

* More snow! We’ve had a few days of snow now, and apparently a few more to come… which is awesome, as I love the snow and so do my dogs! Husband is not so keen, but he knows the dogs love it, so he grumbles less when he takes them out and they play around like hooligans in it :) You can’t help but pick up on their enthusiasm for the weather… it makes you smile.

* My sewing should pick up again as soon as my sewing paper arrives – tracing paper for patterns. I tried wax paper and it worked, for one brand, but every other brand I tried is too slippery to write on, so I had to give that up and just buy proper stuff online.

My material for my pencil/wiggle skirt arrived, so I can’t wait to start on that either.. that should (SHOULD – without puppy interruptions, of course) be a one day thing, maybe two. I just really want to COMPLETE something now… I’m tired of sitting here in seamstress limbo…

Starting with this one Just need some snaps

 

* I was asked to take photos at another military ceremony (a promotion for an awesome man and great officer) recently and I was honoured to be asked. Photos came out well, despite my Speedlight giving me issues. I know that I have grown as a photographer, when something like that doesn’t phase me and I still manage to get the job done! The Viper Pit has honed my skills, for sure.

* I’m missing home terribly, recently. My friend Steph says it’s probably because everything is settling into a “normal” routine here, and I finally have come down to earth and feel the distance because I am no longer focused on other things (my green card, viper pit, school, moving). I miss my mom. I miss my beautiful dogs back home too, and my gorgeous cats. I even miss my brother.

* My husband is moving forward nicely in his school, and I am exceptionally proud of him. He’s almost completed his Maths module and has seemingly discovered a strange love/hate relationship with mathematics that he didn’t realise he had. I think I felt the same at one point, when I was in school, but after my head injury my brain is just too scattered sometimes to focus as one should. I’ve managed to keep up with him, so far, and managed to help him figure out some steps a few times… but mostly I just feel a bit pathetic and lost. It’s a horrible feeling for me – I’m not saying I was a genius before, but it’s times like that when I become aware of how much my thought processes have been scrambled from my head injury, and because I have not had to “use” those processes necessary for mathematics and more “logical” thought (which is surprising, for someone who is, generally, very logical and rational) I seem to have “lost” the pathways necessary for it. I’m very sure that with repetition and practice I would get it back, with new pathways formed in my brain, but I am a little scared that if I try, and it doesn’t come back… I am scared of how I would feel. I would feel humiliated. I would feel “less’ than I was before. I think I avoid “trying” so that I can’t disappoint myself.

That’s being pretty honest with myself. I didn’t think I could put that down in writing. There it is.

I need a cup of tea and a headache tablet.

 

Stay strong, TBI sufferers. There’s always hope, and we have more strength than we know.

 

Clean slate, fresh start.

Due to some technical issues, I have unfortunately kinda “lost” my old posts and media.

My techno-whiz friend Vanessa (of The Vanessa Macleod Creative Agency ) has done what she can to save my archives (all the way back to 2006!) and they will be available as she gets the chance to import them.

But for now…

It begins again, from here.

 

So this is my first “proper” post on my new host.

A small update, I suppose, as I try and remember what I last posted about and what has happened since then!

First things first – just over a week ago (Saturday 24 November 2012) my husband and I made the decision to adopt/rescue another Bernese Mountain Dog. She was being moved from foster to foster and was already 7 months old and we wanted to give her a good home.

Her name is Azerenka Victoria – we call her Azzie.

She is a gorgeous girl with enormous paws (larger than a Great Dane’s, actually) and lots of puppy manic energy.

She’s learning fast – very intelligent, like the rest of her breed – but we are in the middle of house training her. Yes, 7 months old and not house trained. She’s from a litter of 11 so she was initially used to fighting for every scrap of food or treat or anything, and she never had her own toys.

She’s come a long way in the week or more that we’ve had  her – no more hoarding of toys, no more snapping at Gina when it came to food, no more panicked hoovering of her food to the point where she can hardly breathe.

She’s calmed down, has learned “sit” and “wait” and “uh uh” and “no” and “good girl” and is happily going in to her crate at night.

She has, quite understandably, quite severe separation issues, but we will work on those once we get her house trained – she’s growing DAILY, literally, and soon she will be too large for her crate, so we need to work on the house training first! Right now my husband are exhausted, as we have to take 2 hour shifts to take her downstairs to pee or poop (or both!)  - slowly extending the time by a few minutes each night. But it’s slow going – we don’t want to have any accidents, so we go backward in our training with her.

Gina has bonded quite well with her – after the initial posturing and figuring out who is in charge – G is starting to stand up for herself (a lot of that confidence is from playing tug of war with my husband – he goes on hands and knees and uses his teeth like a dog) and there is no more tension between them. Sometimes Azzie oversteps a bit, she’s a puppy – but Gina very clearly and quickly puts her back in place, without drama. She’s a gentle soul, our G-Girl, and she’s being every bit the “big sister” – including bad habits! But we’re working on that too.

One thing at a time, and baby steps!

Secondly – SNOW! SNOW SNOW AND MORE SNOW!!! It’s WONDERFUL!!! Bloody cold at night, when husband and I do our shifts taking Azzie down… but I’m still enjoying it immensely! My only issue is that my snow boots don’t do well with lots of water – they handle snow fine – so I get soaked, cold feet when we walk out in the slush, or in the wet grass. Meh. So I’m going through a lot of socks!

 

Thirdly – due to the new puppy and our tiring schedules with her, husband and I have not been swimming, and I have not been running since we got her :( We can’t leave her on her own yet, as she barks (LOUDLY! She has a HUGE bark) and we don’t want her to be a nuisance. We’ll work on that later. I told husband he needs to go though, on his own. I will give him his training schedule and he must just do it. However, with all the snow and icy weather, the roads (especially the very long, steep hill up to the swimming pool) are pretty dangerous, and Helga sometimes gets so cold she doesn’t want to close her door… Plus, husband is so tired from our up and downs at night that he is just not up for it.

We’re hoping that as we get the time extended between pee breaks, for Azzie, we can start finding a bit more energy for other things!