Friday, October 6, 2017

Fall Flowers

I have been getting pictures of the dogs with seasonal flowers whenever the opportunity presents itself. In late September, I drove by an awesome field of sunflowers and planned a trip back there later that week for pictures.

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Wearing her new fancy collar

This field of sunflowers was more like a narrow strip of them, but it was enough for photos. The day was cloudy with on and off rain and tiny blips of sun.

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The wind was blowing pretty good for part of it too

This blue stool has long been one of my favorite props for photos. Especially with things like sunflowers, even relatively large dogs will be much lower than the picture-perfect end of the plant. This stool is tall enough to place the dogs in a much better position for photos. Plus, I just love the color and look of the stool.

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With grey rain clouds in the sky

Koira doesn't like posing for pictures near roads. I can't find places like this without driving my them, most of the time. The stool helps keep Koira in one place while I set up for a photo, and treats help her feel a little better about the situation.

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Big smile

Panting from nerves and smiling look surprisingly similar, especially if you can get the ears forward. Really, though, if Koira is too nervous about this kind of thing, there is nothing I can say or do to get her to stay on a stool (or anything) and no treat that will be worth eating- and most of all, no way to get her to look at the camera and put her ears up. As long as she is doing all of those things, and we stop before she stops, I figure we're doing okay.

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Awkward sibling photo

Your mom made you pose awkwardly with your siblings, right?

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"Whatcha doin' up there?"

I hope everyone's fall is going well so far. I am trying to get back into the swing of regularly blogging, but with a ton of agility photos to edit that I am already behind on, a new full time job, flyball class and practice, and trying to get ready for winter (which means stacking firewood, making sure the area around the stove is cleared out and safe, weatherproofing doors and windows, and tons more), I am not sure how often I will be making it to the blog. I feel sad every time a favorite blog disappears from the internet, though, and it seems to be happening like crazy this year, with people leaving with announcements, just disappearing, or simply going from posting regularly to once a month or less, so I hope I won't become one of the many who disappear.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Crave Dog Food #chewyinfluencer

This month, we chose to review Crave dog food from Chewy.com. The formula we chose was Lamb and Venison. We received this food for free in exchange for our honest review, and were not compensated in any other way.

The ingredient list is so-so. The first ingredient is lamb, followed by chicken meal. Venison meal isn't actually on the list until after chickpeas, split peas, potato protein, and alfalfa meal, so I am not too confident about how much actual venison is in this food in relation to the other proteins. That said, there is both deboned lamb and lamb meal in addition to the chicken meal, and no by-products are listed.

Both Ptera and Koira really liked this food. The kibbles are flat and round, larger than I like for doing training with Ptera, but still relatively small.

Overall, I am happy to feed this food, but it probably will not be making it into our regular rotation of food. However, I wouldn't hesitate to feed it again if it was on sale for a great price (currently just over $40 for a 22 lb bag, which isn't horrible but also not awesome for price in my opinion).

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dave's Canned Dog Food #chewyinfluencer


Canned food isn't something my dogs get a ton of. With no medical issues requiring it, Ptera tends to eat kibble most of the time, while Koira eats raw most of the time. That doesn't mean I don't like using canned foods sometimes, though. I always like to keep a few cans on hand for emergencies like dental issues or hiding medicines. This month, I had the opportunity to review Dave's dog food, a brand that I have actually never tried or heard of before (we were not compensated in any other way and all opinions are entirely our own). I decided to try the 95% beef option.

Leading up to the flyball tournament earlier this month, I actually put Koira on a diet of this canned food plus Crave kibble every other day, alternating with raw elk meat. I like having her on a kibble food when we travel since it is so much easier, but I feel like she does better on raw food, so this was the compromise. She ran great at the tournament, so I think it worked fine.

I've also been using this food to stuff Kongs for Ptera when I leave for work in the morning. I've been crazy busy this month (hence falling off the face of the internet for most of the month), which means Ptera hasn't been doing as much as she should be. I reduced her kibble from 1/2 cup twice a day to 1/3 cup twice a day, fed in a Kong Wobbler. Then, I added a kong stuffed with Dave's 95% beef canned food and a little kibble, frozen. The Kong Wobbler for actual meals and the stuffed kong for a snack give Ptera something to do with her brain while I am gone for the day and help keep her behaving herself. She seems to really like the food in the kong, as they are always licked clean when I get home. She used to ignore them when I left her with stuffed kongs, so I don't know if she just really likes this food or if she is learning to enjoy food toys without me.

I am super happy to feed this food. It is a normal pate texture, but doesn't smell super gross when you open the can, and it stuffs well without being too messy. The ingredients are pretty basic and boring, just enough extra added minerals and vitamins that you know it is a balanced food. I would much rather stuff a kong with this than with peanut butter! I would be happy to continue using this food in the future.

Friday, September 1, 2017

July/August Hiking Goals

I skipped the July update of our hiking goals for the year. We didn't actually go hiking at all in July. I know. Pretty bad, considering we have so few dry months here.

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My favorite SUP selfie so far this summer


In July, I did make it out on the paddleboard and kayak a few times. I went to a small, local lake with my mom a few times.

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Playing with the GoPro at the local lake


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"Docking" the SUP and going for the dismount


I also went camping at the coast for a few days with a friend and her family. We took out the paddleboard and some kayaks to Beaver Creek on the coast. I mostly stuck to the SUP, but did take a spin in the kayak. We camped at South Beach State Park, which was a lot of fun, but I didn't get a single photo of our campsite (we were in yurts) or of the beach. Or of the beach at Pacific City when we went there at the end of the week.

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Kayaking a little at Beaver Creek


The first week of August, I slammed my week full of water trips. I started with a trip to Olalla lake with a friend who has never kayaked. I helped her put a big, super fun check mark on her bucket list, and had the opportunity myself to get out and have a great time.

The next day, I headed down to a reservoir near Eugene with a friend, where we spent a very smokey day out on the water. The Willamette Valley has been in smoke almost all summer, it feels like, from wildfires in Oregon, Washington, and even some smoke coming all the way from the big BC wildfires.

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In a reservoir near Eugene- it wasn't overcast at all, that haze is all smoke


Then, I headed to the Silverton lake the next day to meet up with another friend and enjoy yet another day on the water. I was exhausted, but it was an amazingly fun week. It wasn't quite planned to be like that, rather, I made plans with three people and kept forgetting that I had plans. But somehow it all worked out, and I had an awesome week.

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Still a smoky day, but much clearer in Silverton than in Eugene the day before

I went whitewater rafting with our flyball team boxloader and his friends/family, which was pretty awesome. I got exactly zero photos, and didn't have a dog with me, and didn't know anyone except the one person, but it was an absolute blast. So much fun.

I also had a chance to hit the beach once in August, even though I rarely do the beach in Oregon in the summer.

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Posing on the beach


And went back to an old favorite hike, Drift Creek Falls. There was actually a tree down across the road and a few people had parked and hiked in the last mile to the trailhead. But, with teamwork between three carloads of people, we managed to move the tree out of the road with zero tools. That kind of eclipsed the hike, to be honest. It felt awesome to come together with a team of strangers and get something done that would have been impossible alone.

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Classic sign photo


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Having a tiny dog willing to balance on things is pretty fun sometimes


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Trailhead mileage sign


I just love the suspension bridge at Drift Creek Falls. It scares me, but I have been slowly tackling my fear of heights (remember that I went ziplining in the Redwoods in California?). This is a solid bridge in good condition, but narrow enough with open looking sides to be scary, but with chainlink and solid boards, so you can use it to conquer fears.

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Drift Creek suspension bridge


What have you been doing in the great outdoors this summer? Any fun plans before summer ends? I'm hoping to get some more hiking in this month, and at least a few more SUP trips as well.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Chewy Review: Nutro Wild Frontier #chewyinfluencer

A while back, we did a full review of Nutro Wild Frontier in a venison flavor (officially called Woodland and Trail recipe). This month, we had the chance to review a different formula, and chose the Cold Water recipe, which is a fish and chicken food. We were given this food in exchange for our honest review.

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Waiting for foodstuffs is so hard

My absolute first reaction to this food was being thrilled at the size of the kibble. The kibbles are a really nice, small size, and rounded in shape. I might be a little obsessed with kibble size and shape right now, because we've been doing training with meals. Smaller kibbles mean more treat opportunities before we run out of meals. And the rounded shape is easier to handle than kibbles that are triangular or square.

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Tiny little kibbles


A 4 lb bag of this food, which is what we were sent, has lasted Ptera about two weeks at one cup per day. On Chewy.com right now, this bag costs just over $17, which makes a reasonable monthly cost for food. The 24 lb bag would actually last long enough for us that I won't buy a bag that big if only Ptera is eating it (Koira is eating mostly raw food, rather than kibble). We actually had to throw out about eight pounds of kibble this month because it had gone rancid (which is nasty, and you really don't want to have happen). That is actually why Ptera started eating the Nutro full time.

We have been training with meals roughly half of the time, sometimes both meals in a day will be training meals, sometimes a few days in a row all meals will be in a bowl, etc, depending on how much free time and motivation I have to get some good training in. Even eating this as her main food, Ptera is happy to work for it, and is thrilled to start training times. When I fill her bowl, she actually runs over to our training area immediately and I have to call her back to her rug if she is eating out of the bowl for that meal. Of course, I still measure out the correct amount of food for each meal, whether we train with it or feed it out of a bowl. Ptera actually has gained a little weight this month, so I am scooping "light" half cups of food for meals instead of full or rounded cups.

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Om nom nom


My final impressions of Nutro Wild Frontier are that we like it, regardless of which formula we are using. Ptera is a fan of it, the ingredients are decent quality, and I don't have to feed a metric ton of it to keep weight on her.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

WW: Drift Creek Falls

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Hiking down to the falls


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Good dogs


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Ptera spotted a squirrel


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Koira isn't a fan of heights, but posed on the suspension bridge for a photo with the falls


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The dogs with Drift Creek Falls


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Drift Creek Falls, with the suspension bridge on the right


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The falls from above


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Ptera's view from the bridge. 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Guest #chewyinfluencer

We had a guest help us with one of our Chewy.com reviews this month.

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Our special guest #chewyinfluencer


Domestic silver fox, nicknamed Pancake by a friend of mine (because he flattens to the ground like, you guessed it, a pancake when playing with the dog) came by to let me get some photos. He agreed to help us review the Zignature canned food we picked this month, in the Catfish flavor. As usual, while we were provided with this product by Chewy, we were not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are entirely our own.

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He is handsome and he knows it.


Foxes are pretty much omnivores, much like raccoons. They eat a lot of different foods, but apparently do best when they get both meat and vegetables/fruits in their diet. One of the favorite treats for Pancake is actually melon, which he absolutely loves, and he looks like a fruit bat when eating melon. I now know why some bats are nicknamed flying foxes. At the same time, he did enjoy the meat-based dog training treats I have on hand, and eats cat kibble as a main portion of his regular food (supplemented by a number of other things, the details of which I am not sure of, since I'm not actually the one feeding him anything other than treats).

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Sampling the Zignature canned food

So, a little about this food (even though foxes are totally distracting and steal the show). Zignature is an excellent line of high quality dog foods, and they are especially good for dogs who need specific diets. We previously reviewed the Kangaroo variety of the Zignature food, and found it an excellent option. I actually have a friend with a dog who eats the Zignature Kangaroo (mostly the canned food, but a little bit of the kibble) because he has some undiagnosed medical issues (not for lack of trying to diagnose them) that have caused him both to have digestive issues and to not want to eat at all. He seems to be doing really well on this food though, so fingers crossed that they have figured out what works for him.

Opening a can of the Catfish flavor that we have this month, the food looks pretty much like any other pate style dog food. The smell isn't the normal gross dog food smell that comes off cheaper cans of dog food, though. The smell isn't super strong or offensive, but is somewhat fishy. Forgivable, I think, for a fish based food. The can had some liquid in it, as well as the pate, which was a tiny bit messy since I wasn't expecting that when I went to scoop some food into a bowl for our review panel. The taste test was a resounding success. Ptera absolutely loved it. Theodore Trex had to be locked in the other room to not end up in all the pictures. And our special guest reviewer was pretty sure it was the best thing ever.

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Ptera got to try some too.

Overall, we really liked this food. The ingredient list was great, the company has a great reputation, this option is at a more affordable price point than some of the other Zignature canned foods, and it was a big hit with animals of three species. Of course this is not the cheapest canned dog food out there- but I think it more than delivers for the price in terms of quality.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Stacking Box

Just a quick DIY post today. I've been working on teaching Ptera to stack properly, mostly so she is more comfortable when being measured for jump heights. I have been attending conformation classes to help with the being-handled-by-the-judge part of things, but having Ptera understand how she is supposed to stand in the first place is an important step. To help with that, I built a stacking box, with the purpose of showing her exactly where to put her feet.

Making a stacking box is pretty easy. Tools needed for this were a saw, a drill, a staple gun, and scissors. Supplies are wood (I had cheap 1x4s that were for a different project that ended up changing plans), screws long enough to attach your wood together, a piece of a yoga mat, and some staples long enough to attach the yoga matting to the wood. How much wood or yoga mat you need depends entirely on the size of your dog. You want the box to be longer than your dog, and somewhat wider than their stance. I just held my wood up to Ptera and guessed. If you don't own a saw with which to cut the wood, get your measurements before heading to the hardware store, and ask them to cut the appropriate lengths. Generally, they won't do cuts with less than 12 inches on either side, and sometimes they will charge for more than 2-3 cuts, depending on where you go. You want two long pieces, and four short pieces.

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Drill, saw, cut boards, and screws


You start off by making a box out of the two long pieces and two of the short pieces. I didn't predrill any holes, and did end up with a little bit of splitting on my wood. You can predrill or not. Either way, I highly recommend starting the screws in the short end piece first, before attempting to attach them to the long pieces. It makes the entire process much easier.

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Attaching the short piece (with screws already started) to the long pieces to form a box


Once you have a box made of two short pieces screwed to the ends of the two long pieces, it is time to place the other two short pieces. These are the parts your dog's feet will be on. The first piece can be attached to the front of the box.

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Short piece for front feet is attached to the box


Once the board for the front feet is in place, carefully decide exactly where you want your dog's back feet to be. I put Ptera up on the table and had her measure (which holding the loose board so it didn't slip), but you can also measure with your dog standing in a proper stance (especially if you have assistance so someone can measure while you hold the dog in place).

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Getting the right placement for the back foot board


Once you have the correct placement for the back foot board, go ahead and screw that one on as well. At this point, I also lightly sanded down a few splintery areas from cutting and where the board had split while drilling. This is also the point where you would add stain or paint, if desired. I left mine raw, for now.

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All screwed together


Next, cut some matting (I used a small piece off the end of a yoga mat) just wide enough for your dog's feet when in a proper stance. Attach the matting using a staple gun (you could also glue this, probably, but I am too impatient to wait for glue to dry). Make sure to put the matting exactly where you want your dog to put their feet. The boards are to give your dog a rough idea of where their feet go, the matting is exactly the correct place. Having a different texture so your dog can tell when they get it right is a good idea here, and the yoga matting also helps keep them from slipping.

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Yoga mat added with the staple gun


Now, you are ready to use your stacking box.

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Learning how to use the box.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Happy National Dog Day

Happy National Dog Day! Hope you enjoy spending the day with your dogs. I'm spending it building a cool DIY project for Ptera- I'll share the full process on Monday.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse: Totality

I live in what has lately been called the "zone of totality" which basically means, I had a chance to see a total solar eclipse without leaving my own back yard.

As the sun becomes obscured by the moon, the shadows change shape through the trees. Instead of circles of bokeh light, everything becomes crescents.

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During totality, it is safe to look directly at the sun without any protective eyewear. And it was amazing, and stunning. The whole world went dark and cold for just over two minutes, before the moon started moving out from in front of the sun. I can't imagine the terror something like this would cause if you didn't know what was happening or why. Eclipses historically are signs of horrible things to come, and I can see why an ancient civilization would think that. But then, the sun reappears, and within a few minutes, the sky is bright enough to not be able to tell the difference.

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The "diamond ring" as the moon moves away from the sun after totality


Hope you all had a chance to view the eclipse.