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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Be Our Valentine!

It's a lazy Sunday morning at our house. Jiminy and Venus woke up at their usual 5:00 am feeding time and came to knock on my bedroom door as they always do.

That's right, I said knock on the door. Jiminy puts his paw on the door and runs his foot down the door to make that clunkety clunk sound that wakes me up -- it's breakfast time!

Jiminy and Venus go outside and romp around in the snow for a bit and then it's a race to see who can get to the back door first! Of course they assume the "sit" position immediately in front of the refrigerator to receive their reward of a morsel of chicken. 

I bake off about 5 pounds of chicken every two or three weeks. After baking I cool it in the refrigerator so that it's easier to cut into those tasty little morsels that Jiminy and Venus love so much. Once it's cut up into very small pieces I put it into quart size freezer bags and keep them in the freezer. A bag of frozen chicken breasts costs $5 - $7 and this makes enough treats to last for several weeks for Jiminy and Venus....and they get treats A LOT!

It doesn't take a large treat to satisfy a dog - most people think they have to give a large treat and this contributes to obesity. When giving your dog treats you should remember to take this into consideration when feeding your dog. Yes, those treats have calories too! Obesity shortens a dog's life just like it does for a human. It makes their heart work harder, impacts their joints since they are carrying extra weight around and it's just plain not healthy for them. You should be able to "just" feel your dog's ribs while the dog is standing. If you can't then it's time to put your dog on a diet. Cut back on the amount that you're feeding. If you are one of those people that thinks your dog HAS to have all that food try supplement the kibble with green beans while cutting back on the kibble. Be sure to consider that dogs with allergies might have issues with this, also whenever changing any components in a dog's diet you must do it slowly so that you don't cause them to have problems with their digestive systems. That's not fun for anyone!

While Jiminy and Venus are in taking their naps on the cool tile floor in the kitchen I'll be baking off more chicken today! 

Enjoy a happy moment with your dog each day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Venus and The Garden Fairies, Written by Nori Goodhue 12/4/2011

About Venus
Venus is our little princess, a 3 ½ year old female Keeshond AKA “daddy’s girl”. Venus is a retired show dog, absolutely loves agility, retrieving her favorite ball (yep! That’s right, you throw it – she brings it back, for hours….), playing Frisbee, catching flying discs, and she simply adores Garden Fairies!

Depending on her disposition for the day, Venus displays different personalities. We haven’t resorted to calling her Sybil since this has such a negative connotation. What I mean is – Venus can be as gentle as a lamb or she will protect our fortress with the determined dedication of a lion. She will roll over belly side up when you give her the command “show me your belly”. She will dance pirouettes when given the command “do a lap”. She’s graceful, agile and cuddly….all the “warm and fuzzy” that a Keeshond can offer.

At the other end of the spectrum, Venus is our first alarm system. While we do have a home security system, Venus walks the perimeter and if a squirrel so much as looks like it’s coming into the yard, she is the first to warn us. No home alarm system does that…only Venus can alert us to the potential emergency of a squirrel burying an acorn or walnut in our yard!

Jiminy, our male Keeshond, only becomes vocal when chicken is involved as the reward. He never lets out a peep, be it someone walking past the house or that indiscriminate squirrel happening to walk along the top of the privacy fence. He simply watches closely – totally out of character for the breed. Not a peep – unless of course he wants his chicken, then he will move mountains with “his voice”. Apparently squirrels don’t taste like chicken – that’s all I can figure. LOL

Springtime at The Goodhue Ranch
Winters in Michigan abound us with lots of snow, which we all know that Keeshond absolutely love since they are a northern breed. Their love of snow is second only to their love of being on the water since historically that was their purpose….protecting children, providing companionship on the Dutch barges.

In the spring, my husband and I begin our annual ritual of spring clean up around the yard – opening the pool, cleaning out the flower beds of the leaves and such that were blown in with the winter winds. This is the time of year I look forward to most – being able to hang out in the yard with “our keesies” and not having to bundle up in a parka and snow pants anymore, at least until next winter.

After the yard clean up is completed, it’s time to bring out the hummingbird feeders, wind catchers, windchimes…and yes, the garden fairies! These whimsical yard ornaments are strategically placed throughout our flower beds among the many types of clematis and other perennials and annuals. I love puttering around in the yard and enjoying all of the signs of spring.

Venus and Jiminy are in a peaceful, solemn, relaxed state all the while I’m working in the backyard. They rest in the spring sunshine, Venus close by, Jiminy in his favorite spot “up high” on the ceramic tile table where he can keep cool and see everything. Life is good. Occasionally throughout the day as they see me digging out a weed that has miraculously grown in spite of the winter weather (how does that happen?) or while digging a place to plant an additional flower to the garden, Jiminy and Venus decide that they intend to “do their part” in being helpful. Yes, “digging” is the key word here – right alongside me my two amazingly smart fur kids decide where another flower should be planted….LOL! Of course, they stop the instant I give them the command….not! I proceed to wipe off their feet and give them a “timeout” while I finish the planting and placement of the garden fairies. The completed project is delightful…time for some much deserved lemonade and a break in the coolness of the garage.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

While I’m in the garage enjoying my lemonade and a much deserved break, my husband Gene has completed his springtime tasks in the yard. He’s gone into the house to wash up a bit and join me with his choice of cold beverage….yep! a barley pop…LOL! As he comes out of the house, he invites Venus and Jiminy to come out and take a potty break and bask in the springtime fresh air. Gene joins me in the garage and we chat about our additional plans and projects that we’d like to complete for the season.

What’s that? It’s so peaceful, serene, pure tranquility. Wait a minute….it’s waaaay too quiet. Venus hasn’t let out a peep. Really? Not a single squirrel to protect us from? Hmmmm…..something is amiss!

I walk out into the yard to check on Jiminy and Venus. My first image is of Jiminy lying on the table in his favorite place. He’s all relaxed in that “frog dog” fashion, back legs sprawled out, head and chin resting on the table. He doesn’t move a muscle when I come out through the garage door…just opens his eyes and sees that it’s me and then closes them again.

As I round the corner to check on Venus, I’m presented with an image that makes me laugh so hard that it brings tears to my eyes! She has collected every single garden fairy out of the flower beds and they are encircled around her in the middle of the yard! Some of these garden fairies are bigger than she is!!

This is a game for Venus. Day after day she carries the garden fairies out into the yard to be with her and I put them back. The moment I’m not within her sights she will carry them back into the yard to be with her. I’m not sure if this is a motherly instinct thing for her, if she thinks they are toys or if she does it for the attention. Clearly I reinforced the behavior by laughing about it….but I can’t help it! Honestly, wouldn’t you have reacted the same way?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jiminy’s Love of Chicken! 12/3/2011

A Little History
Due to allergies, our 4 ½ year old male Keeshond, Jiminy, is very limited as to what we give him for treats. I bake off boneless chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders and cut them up in small pieces and freeze them to give as treats. Venus, our 3 ½ year old female Keeshond reaps the benefits as well.

Jiminy was a feisty dog in the show ring, very vocal, because he wanted CHICKEN!!! He’s retired now, but still his love for chicken reigns on.

Puppy Training and Cooking Chicken Treats November 30, 2011
It’s puppy training night at conformation class. I rush home from work, let Jiminy and Venus outside to “do their business”. Since our chicken treat stock is getting low I layout the full package (about 4 pounds) of chicken breasts onto the baking rack on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and proceed to set the oven to bake them for an hour.

You should know that for safety purposes we have to keep the knobs from the front of the stove off so that Jiminy doesn’t tamper with them and let gas build up in the house….yes, he’s done this once – only once – thank goodness we were home and caught it right away!

Secondly, for safety purposes, we have to bungee, yes that’s right, I said BUNGEE the oven door shut so that our precious, dear Jiminy doesn’t open the oven to help himself to whatever might be baking if we happen to be outside working in the yard or doing some other project around the house.

It’s 6:00 pm on November 30th and I have to meet some friends at 6:15 pm on the other side of town for our carpool to puppy training class. The chicken has finished cooking but is still too hot to put into the refrigerator. As a rule, I put the chicken in the refrigerator overnight for complete cooling so that it is easier to cut into those tiny morsels that will soon be doggie treats. However, time didn’t permit me to do this since the chicken was still very hot.

My husband, Gene, wasn’t home from work yet so I sent him a text telling him that I was off to puppy training and that the chicken was safely bungeed in the oven for cooling and I asked him to put it into a Ziploc bag and put it in the refrigerator when he got home. He responded by saying that he wouldn’t be long and would take care of it when he got home. I thanked him and told him I had already fed “the fur kids” and would see him at about 9:00 pm or so. I set off to puppy training at 6:08 pm.

Gene Arrives At Home

Upon Gene’s arrival home at 6:30 pm he approaches the double wide, back door with full length windows with a complete view of our Tuscan style kitchen complete with stainless steel appliances. He’s presented with a view of Jiminy standing in the warming drawer of our range/oven!!! Somehow (this is still a mystery to us) Jiminy had managed to open the oven door even while bungeed shut and proceed to eat all but two chicken breasts right out of the oven!

We know that Jiminy was the only guilty party and most likely didn’t even share a morsel with Venus. The reason we know this is because for the next three days Jiminy got several “butt baths”. For anyone that has a Keeshond that experiences the occasional case of diarrhea you know what a “butt bath” is. Their fuzzy rear end manages to trap the excrement and we are rewarded with the experience of cleaning it. God bless the individual that created dry shampoo!

For The Love of Chicken
There is nothing that matters more to Jiminy than his love for chicken! He will go to any length, perform any trick for it. While putting him through the therapy dog program I was given some great advice to control his vocalization for his request of chicken; i.e. barking. I was told to give him the command “good quiet” and reward him – yes, with chicken – when he responded appropriately. We now have his barking under control.
Has anyone got any advice for how to keep him out of the oven when our backs are turned?