Thursday, 31 July 2014

Nylabone survival rates

Daisy and Cybi had a really decent attempt at wrecking their Nylabone chews when they first got them, but after a few days' intensive effort they both somewhat lost interest. I'd been sort of expecting it, while I've never had dogs that could get that excited about them before - maybe something to do with the taste disappearing, or the fact that stuff they *aren't* supposed to be chewing is always going to be far more attractive than stuff they've been given to chew.

Not sure how clear this is, but the pic shows about 3 days of decent effort by two smallish collies, working fairly consistently.

Anyway, I've found two ways to interest them back in these chews. The first relies on greed - the addition of a bit of peanut butter and then put the whole lot in the freezer for a while to create a nylabone-peanut butter-icepop is going down very well especially while the weather is warm.

The second route to getting them back interested will be a surprise to absolutely no one who owns more than one dog. You just have to play with the nylabone and dog #1, which makes dog #2 instantly want the nylabone because it's suddenly become the most exciting thing in the world. Repeat as required. We have had an entertaining day in the Crazy Collie household of playing with chews, culminating in each of them marching off with a different nylabone to different corners of the living room, where they chewed for long enough that I actually got some work done...

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Back from the kennels

I have spent the last week over in Munich, and couldn't take Daisy and Cybi. They were originally going to be looked after by a friend, but that fell through and they ended up having to go to kennels for six days. Daisy has had the odd night in the same kennels before as a kind of "trial run" but I was a bit nervous about leaving them for that length of time and with no idea of how Cybi was going to react to being in a kennel environment.

Short version: they were absolutely fine.

When I went to pick them up, I was expecting effusive cuddles and boisterous affection, which is exactly what I got from Cybi (I was crouching down to cuddle them, and he tried to climb on my knee, which led to both of us ending up sitting on the floor rather abruptly). Little Daisy didn't do quite what I expected though, in that she just came over and sat next to me, leaned her whole body into me and pressed her head into my hand. Yeah...that made me feel pretty guilty for leaving them.

Cybi has been quite his usual self since I retrieved them - bouncy and happy, and a noisy, hairy lump as usual. Daisy has been quite quiet and a little subdued. She has been super clingy, though that is wearing off now, and she has slept a lot since we have been home. I suspect she spent a week being quite stressed and nervous, and now that she is back in a familiar environment she is catching up on her sleep. In fact, she's sleep-chasing rabbits (or possibly sheep) at the moment, while lying with her head on my feet.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Chewing...and more chewing

 Daisy has never really been a particularly big chewer. She's enjoyed getting stuck into rawhide chews, will happily work on a stuffed bone until the stuffing is removed, and occasionally has a bit of a chew on the bone that's left.  She did develop a particular desire to destroy a roll of parcel tape on one occasion (turns out I wasn't even the first person to Google "Is parcel tape safe for dogs to chew?" - in case you're interested, the answer is "not really" due to some of the volatile organic compounds in the adhesive). But that's pretty much it, with the exception of the odd cardboard box and USB cable.

Cybi, however, chews EVERYTHING. He is a particular fan of Daisy's food bowl which is lightweight plastic, but if that is moved out of his reach then it becomes a game of "whatever is nearest". Some of his more imaginative contributions to the "distressed" look in my house include the underside of the doormat, the clothes horse, the corner of one of the doors and a string of Indian elephants that used to hang by my door. That last one must have taken ingenuity, as the string was hung about 6 feet from the ground and dangled down, but he managed to get every last elephant, little horror that he is. (Amazon link to similar elephants here in case that description doesn't make any sense)

Given his preference for chewing things that aren't supposed to be chew toys, I thought I'd give him a go with a "nylabone" chew. My previous dog, Jess, had never been a fan (in fact when I gave her one she looked at me with an expression that quite plainly said "why are you wasting my time with this?") so I've tended to avoid non-edible chews up until now. But for these two it's an experiment that seems to have paid off. I opted for the "dura-chew" type, given the size and enthusiasm of my idiots, and bought them one bacon flavoured one, and one peanut butter flavoured one. And so far, so good.

Nice and pristine at the start of the great chewing experiment.

Lots of focus on the matter at hand

Inevitable swap over because the one the other one has is always better...but at least I now know that both the peanut butter and the bacon flavours are getting good reviews.

48 hours later...
the novelty has worn off somewhat, though Cybi is still doing plenty of work on whichever one is nearest when the mood takes him to chew. I did have to suggest that he chewed on a nylabone rather than on Daisy's bowl, but he took the suggestion in good part and spent a happy half hour working on them.

So now the long term test - will they keep their flavour/texture enough to be a viable alternative to my furniture? And will they stand up to the border collie onslaught? So far, so good...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Purely Delicious

Last night, I gave Daisy and Cybi their samples of Pure to try. Pure has good press, and is unusual in that it's dehydrated from fresh, leaving a very vitamin dense (from fruits and veggies) and protein dense (from meat) foodstuff. You just need to add water to rehydrate it.
It also gets great reviews from All About Dog Food, which I use as my authoritative source on the good, the bad and the ugly in dog food and dog treats.

We were off to a good start with the sample in that it was interesting to Daisy and Cybi, even in unprepared form, to the point where I had to retrieve the sample pack out of Cybi's mouth when it was posted through the letterbox. Cybi is a canine hoover, so the fact that he was interested wasn't definitive, but he has an easily upset stomach and so I tend to make decisions on his behalf about what he can and can't eat. Daisy, on the other hand, can eat anything with no ill effects, but is a picky little creature and will turn her nose up at things and just not eat, rather than eat something she isn't in the mood for. So to have her express interest at the powdered form was a big positive. Oh yeah, it comes in a powder. I have to admit I was slightly thrown by that. I don't know what I was expecting, having read lots about the way the food was prepared...but I wasn't expecting powder with lumps in. In fact (showing my age here, I suspect) it reminded me of nothing quite so much as cup-a-soup.

The instructions say to add about 60ml of water, but I didn't have a measuring jug to hand so just added a decent sploosh, and then left the bowls for 15 mins for the food to rehydrate.

It was a long 15 minutes.

In fact, there was so much drooling that I eventually took pity on them and shooed them out of the kitchen to have a game of tuggy to distract them from the fact that dinner was on the way.

Meanwhile, the powdered food magically rehydrated into something that looked fairly palatable. Given my lack of precision with the water, one meal was slightly more "solid" than the other, but in the end it didn't seem to make any difference.

The Pure Dog Food went down very, very well.

So well that I didn't even have time to snap a picture of Cybi eating his.

But did it go down well enough that I'd switch over to it? Well, that's a tough one. Based off how excited they were when they were given their dinner, and the fact that it makes me sad when Daisy gets her food, sniffs at it and then sulks off if it's something she doesn't want it gets a strong positive in the "palatable" stakes. And it gets a strong positive in the high grade constituent elements, care in processing and knowing what's gone into my dog's food.'s not cheap by any stretch (not off the map expensive, but definitely more money than some of the other options I'm considering) and with two growing youngsters to feed it might be something to consider further once they are both at their adult weights and on a maintenance diet rather than still getting taller and filling out. It's also a little bit more work than most other foods - not that this is a problem in itself because we're not exactly talking masses of effort. Putting some water in the food and waiting for a bit isn't taxing, but it does require you to remember to do it, and to allow enough time for the food to fully rehydrate.
So for now, I can't see me making it their main meal, but based off their enthusiasm for it I've already bought a pack to give them as an occasional treat.

And the company score extra bonus points for the cutest mascot I've seen in a while, and a really well done video on their home page with more info about the food.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Daisy has walked in a harness since she was really quite small - more details here. It has really worked well for her, essentially stopping her pulling from the point where she began to wear it, which made my life much more straightforward.

I opted for a type that she couldn't extract herself from - she bounces around such a lot that I felt that anything she could climb out of, back out of or needed lifting into was not going to work. On the advice of a local trainer, I tried a variant on the "perfect fit" harnesses just called the "fleece lined" (I bought mine from a local supplier, but the only online stockist I can find is the manufacturer - see here) which go over the dog's head , with a strap between their front legs, under their arms and clip closed. The lead fastens between the shoulder blades on the back, or optionally, there can be a second ring added on the chest strap so the dog can be turned from the front end as well. The Mekuti and various other harness types work in the same way, but I particularly liked the wider, fleece-lined straps on the perfect fit. Not based on anything except gut feel. but I thought that when Daisy was tying herself in knots on the end of the lead it was probably worth having that extra layer of padding to stop her getting chafed.
The fleece-lined and perfect fit harnesses from the manufacturer
Another type that was recommended to me by a fellow pet owner, but that ultimately I felt was inappropriate for Daisy was a type of harness marketed as "no-pull". This appears to be the harness equivalent of a check collar - and gives me some of the same concerns. The most well known is the one made by the Company of Animals (a tiny bit more information about them on CoA's own site here). The harness is marketed as instantly stopping pulling, as when the dog dashes off the harness tightens around the chest and legs, reminding it not to charge off - and many people have reported success with this. I'm not sure what would happen though if rather than instantly stopping pulling when pressure is applied the dog simply continued to pull. The harness would tighten to the maximum (as a check collar does when the dog pulls against it)  and then have no effect, while potentially having a health impact because it's constricting the chest area.

The Hurtta Lifeguard Harness. Same shape as the Pro Padded
The final type I considered while trying to figure out what was best for Daisy was the Hurtta Pro Padded Harness (and its more brightly coloured cousin, the Hurtta Lifeguard) but I ultimately decided against this fit shape because it appears to concentrate the pressure from the dog pulling across the chest, rather than around the chest and under the body. I'd also be concerned that the harness could slip if it isn't adjusted perfectly and the dog pulls suddenly, especially as Daisy and Cybi do both pull suddenly, and in any one of several directions.

I have recently seen the Hurtta Y harness, which looks very similar to the perfect fit. I'm tempted to try it while I'm about to buy a harness for Cybi - I'd be interested to see if the very slight difference in the way the neck and leg loops come together on the two harnesses makes any noticeable difference. The Y harness also only has one clip, where the perfect fit has 2.

The Hurtta Y Harness

In addition to these harness type that have a "steering" or "corrective" role, there are also a wide variety of harnesses that serve the same function as a flat collar in that they are simply somewhere to attach the lead. These are fine for the dogs that are sensible enough not to throw themselves around while walking but most seem too "escapable" for me to be happy trying them on my idiots. I have my suspicions that Daisy would be able to wriggle backwards out of the one below due to the wider neck hold produced by taking the chest strap back to the belly band, rather than bringing the leg bands forwards to the neck strap as with the Hurrta Y harness and the Perfect Fit. I could just see her coming to a complete halt, and my continuing to walk -effectively pulling the harness over her head.

A "normal" harness, expertly modelled by a friend's dog.

I do know a lot of dogs for which this type of harness works well, though, and it's certainly worth considering as an alternative to the traditional single point of contact at the dog's neck.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Almost too good to eat

I'm a huge fan of searching out the smaller manufacturers of "doggie things". I'm not obsessive about it, but where possible I do prefer to both support smaller companies and have a good idea of what I'm feeding my dogs. Especially when I can achieve both of those things, and get stuff in the post that looks like this:

This parcel of amazing loveliness arrived this morning, courtesy of Woof Sticks Dog Treats, a local doggie bakery. While the muffins don't really keep (should be eaten within two days of parcel arriving) my two got a little bonus after their breakfast this morning.

From their facial expressions, I'm given to understand that asking them to sit and wait while I took a photos was tantamount to doggie cruelty. Certainly the tuna muffins disappeared so fast that getting action shots proved to be a little difficult (though I managed to get a pic of them each scraping up every last little crumb)
So, so far, an overwhelming four paws up for Woofsticks dog treats, and we haven't even started on the cookies yet. I am very tempted to join in the sampling; they look AMAZING.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Not even Duct Tape... going to help this situation.

I guess they were bored when I popped out without them.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Reconstituted, dehydrated chicken

Excitement in the crazy collie household, as we've been sent some samples of Pure Dog Food. Poor Cybi has a sensitive tummy, and while things are getting better I'm not totally convinced his current food is agreeing with him. Daisy has a cast-iron stomach, as demonstrated on a number of occasions so far, but is quite a picky little thing. Less so now that Cybi has moved in with us as he is a food hoover on four feet,  and if she doesn't eat her food he will, but enough that sometimes I feel bad giving her the same kibble over and over.

So we're going to give this new stuff a go. It gets a good review from the dog food bible All About Dog Food, which is a good start. Watch this space for our introduction to space-age dehydrated amazingness!