Daily Photo Griff

Four weeks of Griff

, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

The Griffaroo turned 14 weeks this Saturday and we’ve been living with him for the last four of those. When we brought him home, he was certainly very puppy-like and he continues to be: ankle-biting, mouthing and all that good puppy stuff.

Compared to Ollie, he certainly was (and is) much more assertive. The first two weeks on putting him on his back was always a struggle–he would squirm and bite as though he didn’t want to be there and couldn’t understand why I was doing this to him. Hallmarks of a dominant dog.

During those first weeks in new situations, such as meeting another dog or person, his reaction was to bark. And not a friendly “let’s play” bark but a puppy version of “eff-off…if you come any closer I’ll kill you”. It was worrisome. He would also growl at us in particular situations: once when I took a bull penis away (don’t worry, they’re dog treats) and also once when picking him up. Our reaction to this was to continue to do the actions and not accept a growl as an appropriate behaviour. Letting him know that we’re in charge and he does what we want him to do, we started to hand feed him and interrupt other acts of daily life to see what reaction we would get. 99.9% of the time, he’s fine with everything that’s going on.

We’ve worked hard on this growling and barking through socialization; with other dogs and people. He’s improving on both fronts, and we’re both feeling like he’s making progress toward a less fearful reaction when in threatening situations.

It doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and lollipops at this point. Dad came to visit today and, with Griff in his lap, bent down to say hello. When he got close to Griff’s face, Griff growled and moved away. An improvement, but still growling in a situation like that is unacceptable. We got the treats out, and had Dad continue to be close to his face and feed him the treats. No more growling and even a few licks. Now, hopefully he’ll be less fearful when a stranger picks him up and gets close: good things happened the last time this happened to me.

All of this is challenging. We need Griff to be a well-balanced, predictable dog. Acting out of fear is not a reaction we can live with. And while it’s scary not to know what the future holds (will he get worse? Become that monster of a Terrier that you can’t trust with anyone?) he’s such a smart, sweet boy the majority of the time that we’re committed to making this work.


We got a dog…

and Griff is his name. This is Border Terrier number two for us.

How-to Ollie

How-to: Create a kayak crate for the transportation of a Border Terrier (or any other small dog breed) on the deck of a tandem sea-kayak

My challenge: to take Ollie (at the time, a five-month-old Border Terrier puppy) on our regular summer sea-kayaking trips on Georgian Bay. Canoeing with a dog is easy. Kayaking with a dog seemed a bit more difficult. So I dreamt up a contraption that would allow Ollie to join us on these kayaking trips. Thanks to my Dad helping in the construction!

Witness it, in situ:

The tandem kayak with Ollie's Kayak crate

My criteria in the creation of the crate:

  • Traction: Kayak decks are fibreglass with a shiny gelcoat. Ollie would need a surface that would allow him some sort of gription as dog nails on gelcoat doesn’t really work.
  • An edge: In wavy conditions, the kayak can pitch quite suddenly. Having something that would contain the dog would help him stay on the boat while in swells seemed important.
  • Sun protection: All day kayaking without sun protection would equal fried puppy. My perfect design would offer some kind of sun protection.
  • Wind sturdy: Winds on Georgian Bay can be fierce (for example we had one evening this trip of ~ 45 km / h winds or 6 on the Beaufort Scale). Any extras (such as the sun protection) would have to stand up to a whipping wind.
  • Waterproof: This seems obvious.
  • Protects the Kayak: Since the Kayaks aren’t mine, I figured it would be bad if it ended up scratching the kayak when installed.

So with these criteria in mind, I set to creatin’. Since the kayak crate was a success, I’ve provided an illustrated step-by-step guide if you’re interested in making one yourself.

Daily Photo Ollie

Family matters

Ollie & siblings at 8 weeks, originally uploaded by Gavatron.

Heather, Ollie and myself had a great little experience this morning–we met (Heather & Ollie for a second time and me for the first) Fozby, one of Ollie’s litter-mates (or, as Max, Fozby’s alpha-male, refers to the two of ’em: “the Beavertown Boys”).

The two brothers hit it off instantly and spent the next twenty minutes playing. It was also fun comparing notes with Fozby’s owners (Fozby is as vocal as Ollie; loves to snuggle in bed in the morning; has a thing for tennis balls; “leaks” when he is excited). It was just a blast watching them.


The fur is dead. Long live the fur!

Ollie is a new dog, now that we’ve finished stripping him.

Dogs Herbie Web Flotsam

Truth in advertising is a great way to find dogs available for adoption and in fact, Herbie was found with Petfinder’s help! Usually they have some sappy description about the dog that is completely irrelevant to the dog’s demeanour (something along the lines of what celebrity a dog looks like, for example). I was looking to see if there were any BTs up for adoption today and came across the following write-up about Stella:

Stella is a Lab/Border Collie??? mix. She would love a home where she can hang out on the couch as she’s very docile and laid back. Stella lived in a junk yard in the city and would have about 2 litters a year and all her pups would die. Her owner was shot and killed so Stella went to live on the tough streets. When she was rescued by Mayme she was very pregnant-again. Mayme was able to adopt the surviving puppies out, but not Stella, so she’s still with us. Stella is around 6 years old.

Yikes. Now that’s quite the write-up. But I still want to know what celebrity she most resembles…


Ollie featured on Grown-up Puppies

Check it out.

And here are his puppy photos featured on the same site. I’m proud to say that Ollie has received 10.4 biscuits out of 11 with over a thousand votes!

Dogs Environment

Corn Plastic to the (?) Rescue

Lee, Katie and I had a discussion a ways back on the use of plastic bags for picking up dog shit. Our chat was along these lines: Given that plastic bags seem to be the easiest way to do pick shit up, and since plastic bags seem to be symptomatic of our “convenience today for a hellish tomorrow” culture, is there such thing as a good plastic bag? Or, putting it another (awkward) way, is there a “less-bad” plastic bag?

We considered re-using those plastic bags that we seem to accumulate through daily living. The cost is agreeable (hidden in the price of groceries for example), but does nothing to address the concern with plastic bags’ longevity. As well, since we shop with re-usable bags now and generally say “no thanks” when offered a plastic bag elsewhere in life, we would seemingly have to take a step back to get our supply.

We also considered bio-degradable plastic bags. At the local “green living” store, Grassroots, we could buy 30 Scoopies bags for $4.50 that are supposed to “disappear” in 18 months (whatever that means). That’s about $ 0.15 a bag. But for someone living in an apartment building, without access to a compost bin, these bags would end up going into the garbage. Hidden under dozens of feet of waste, even the most biodegradable stuff in the world won’t disappear for dozens of years (not enough oxygen down there for microbes to do their thang’).

Right now we’re purchasing 50 small bags for $0.99 at Honest Ed’s, which works out to $0.02 a dump. This is (seemingly) the least-sustainable choice. But here’s some food for thought from the Smithsonian Magazine that seems to defy common sense and perhaps makes our choice of bags a “better” one:

According to a biodegradability standard that Mojo helped develop, PLA is said to decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a “controlled composting environment” in fewer than 90 days. What’s a controlled composting environment? Not your backyard bin, pit or tumbling barrel. It’s a large facility where compost—essentially, plant scraps being digested by microbes into fertilizer—reaches 140 degrees for ten consecutive days. So, yes, as PLA advocates say, corn plastic is “biodegradable.” But in reality very few consumers have access to the sort of composting facilities that can make that happen. NatureWorks has identified 113 such facilities nationwide—some handle industrial food-processing waste or yard trimmings, others are college or prison operations—but only about a quarter of them accept residential foodscraps collected by municipalities.

Link: Corn Plastic to the Rescue

Ollie Photos

Ollie on his new grass bed

Ollie on his new grass bed

Ollie on his new grass bed,
originally uploaded by Gavatron.

This is Ollie’s new grass bed. He loves it.

It’s a dishpan that I drilled full of holes in the base, added soil and some shade-loving grass seed. Add a little water, and a few days later (4 days), you see the results above.

I made it on a lark, hoping that Ollie would like it. Seems like he does. Heather showed it to him this afternoon, and after we came home from the dog park, Ollie crashed in it. Fun!


The Proud Puppy Handler and Graduate

As you can see from the photo above, Ollie passed his puppy obedience class. We’re all so proud of him (too bad he can’t read yet).

If you follow the photo above, Dad’s got a nice set of pictures from the whole class.

Originally uploaded by corbeau_du_nord.