Swamp Corgi

The Swamp Corgi merges with the landscape waiting to pounce on his prey.  If a male of any species were to pass. Swamp Corgi remains motionless.  If a female of any species passes, Swamp Corgi jumps out uttering the Swamp Corgi call of "How Youu Doiin'?.
The Swamp Corgi merges with the landscape waiting to pounce on his prey. If a male of any species were to pass. Swamp Corgi remains motionless. If a female of any species passes, Swamp Corgi jumps out uttering his signature call of “How youuu doin’?, followed with a wink.  No female of any species can resist the call of the Swamp Corgi.

 

 

http://www.tfund.com/runamuckranch

 

 

 

How to Choose a Healthy Animal

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last year, oddly, about dogs.  In pretty much every book, there is a chapter or 2 covering  “How to Select a Healthy Puppy”, “How to Choose a Healthy Animal”, “Choosing the Proper Puppy”, “Selecting a Healthy, Happy Pet”, and the like.

Anywho, using the books, let’s see how we did here at Run A Muck Ranch:

1.  Puppy  (There were few who wasted words on choosing a dog):

Angus was a puppy, but we failed on the rest since they were already adult or sub adult.

The Queen's Corgi's couldn't hold a candle to Angus.   Go us!
Our one correct decision.

 

2.  Make sure its eyes are clear and bright.

Well…

We met Angus in a dark back yard, so even if it weren’t a case of Crabby just picking the pup sitting closest to me so we could go home, we really couldn’t do a proper inspection.

Emmi’s eyes were windows as to how sick she was.

 

The experts say we should have passed Emmi by.
The experts say we should have passed Emmi by.

 

Sarah’s eyes were so very sad and clouded, but that could have been due to her injuries from being hit by a car.

Technically, the rest did pass the eye test, so I guess we did OK.

3.  Educate yourself as to the proper confirmation of the breed you are interested in and ensure that the {puppy} you are interested in does not deviate from the breed standard. 

Well, Angus’ early vet said he was a perfect example of a Corgi, so we lucked out.  Remember, Crabby picked him because he was the closest, and Crabby just wanted to go home.   Should we be proud?

Probably not.  Sarah came to us as an adult, but she is a pure bred (the collective preference of the books).  You don’t have to be an expert on pit bull confirmation to see the big “reject” stamp on her forehead.

But for the rest, uh oh!   There is no breed standard for a mutt and we still aren’t completely sure if Gracie is a dog!   Do we count ourselves as passes or fails for the majority of The Hoard?

 

Exactly what kind of creature is this?
Exactly what kind of creature is this?

 

4.  Carefully inspect the {puppy} for any physical defect.

Let’s skip over the fact we erred in taking in adults.

Franky and Vito have way loose knees.  Emmi has those freaky hips.  Morty’s hips have more of a swagger than a dog should have. DASH! is just anatomically out of whack. What is it with Franky’s underbite?   No living creature should move like Sarah.

In this respect, fail, fail and fail, to infinity and beyond.

 

The poster child for the dentally disabled.
The poster child for the dentally disabled.

 

5.  Make sure there is no sign of illness, injury or nutritional deficiency. 

Fail, fail, and fail again.  Emmi and Slugger’s mange was the first thing that caught the eye, emaciation being the second. That Emmi couldn’t even walk was an afterthought.   Sarah’s limp was pretty evident.  Morty,  DASH!, and Sarah were all unhealthily skinny. Hector had Cherry Eye.

 

Clearly an unacceptable animal!
Clearly Slugger was an unacceptable animal!

 

6.  Choose a {puppy} that appears friendly and curious.  Roll the {puppy} onto it’s back to make sure it will accept your domination. 

Who should we throw off the island first?  Willy, Emmi, DASH!, Vito, Marcy or Morty?   Willy was  a psychological mess, Emmi and Marcy wanted absolutely nothing to do with humans, and DASH! and Morty were just plain scared. Lest I forget, Vito wanted to kill anything in his path.

 

Ain't no way this creature will go near anything on 2 legs willingly.
Ain’t no way this creature will go near anything on 2 legs willingly.

 

I don’t see the point in covering any more of the highly educated, published, instruction on how to choose a healthy animal. Clearly we’ve made nothing but bad choices through the years and have only anguish to show for it.

If only we had listened to the experts.  Imagine how much better our lives would be.

 

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Sunday Punt Post: Muddy Angus

My apologies!  This has been a bear of a week and I wasn’t very well prepared to document Sunday Family Desert Walks, where I usually get a good picture to post.

Instead, you are left with a video of the ‘after’ from Group 1 (Older, Gimpy, Stumpy and Mentally Deranged, {Maude, Sarah, Angus and Willy}].  We don’t see enough of Angus anyway, so I guess it works.

 

 

PS:  One of the reasons I was so unprepared this morning was that Crabby slept until 10am.   I wish I could sleep all day….

Mortimer Gets His Brain Leak Repaired

When Morty showed up in our driveway, he had what appeared to be an injury on his head.  We not so silently cursed whoever had hit Morty, with whatever implement was used, for hurting him.

Turns out, the ‘injury’ was actually a cyst that had broken open.  A biopsy was done at the time of Morty’s neuter, and it was determined the cyst was benign.

We learned to live with the bump, telling people it was Morty’s brain leak.  Hey, he came to us intelligent and has become increasingly stupid, ergo, the brain leak story seemed not only plausible but possible!

The cyst got bigger, Morty got stupider, the rough-playing Idiot Group increased by 1 (Marcy) and it became impossible to keep the cyst from either rupturing or getting torn open, which inevitably lead to infection, a trip to the vet, and a course of antibiotics.

Today, we got Morty’s brain leak plugged.  The cyst was removed.

 

Poor Morty had a bad day.
Poor Morty had a bad day.

 

When the vet had Morty’s head open, she found the cyst was much larger than previously believed.  What was anticipated as maybe a 1 inch straight incision turned into a several inch Franken-Morty gash.    In retrospect it makes sense: the outward size of the lump vs. the marked decrease in Morty’s intelligence did seem a little out of proportion.

As the incision heals, the skin will more than likely pucker around it.  In other words, Morty’s gonna have a pretty good scar.   But at least whatever brain he has left won’t leak out any more!

Crabby says if the scar is really prominent, he’s going to tell people he meets in the wilderness Morty got it fighting off a bear.  Apparently that sounds a lot cooler than saying Morty had a cyst.  We wouldn’t want Morty not to be cool, now would we?

 

The Franken-Morty cut that will leave a pretty good scar.
Franken-Morty .

 

 

Morty is resting comfortably, doped up on Tramadol for the pain.  The trick will be keeping him quiet, which means separate from the rest of The Idiot Group until Halloween, when he is scheduled to have his stitches removed.   Wish us luck!

While you’re waiting for Morty to recover and head back out into the wilderness, please enjoy this, Crabby’s first attempt at video production, from Morty Cam during a Sunday Family Desert Walk a few weeks ago.  Bless Crabby for being able to sit through very long, stomach lurching segments to pull out only the good parts!

 

Run A Muck Ranch News Bulletin 10/6/13

Sarah Tipping Banned at Run A Muck Ranch

The primary symptom of Sarah’s neurological problems is her wobbly gait.   Sarah falling down is a common occurence, but she handles it in typical pit bull fashion:  She gets up and goes on with her life.

Sarah found a great bone out on a walk!
Sarah found a great bone out on a walk!

Somewhere along the line, Mortimer and Slugger realized that, unlike the other dogs of Run A Muck Ranch, Sarah isn’t very steady on her feet, and as a result, have come up with a new sport:  Sarah Tipping.

Of late, the boys have taken the sport to an extreme, leaving poor Sarah in a constant state of ‘splat’.  Though Sarah doesn’t seem to have a problem being a toy, The Crazy Dog Lady has banned this exploitative and evil sport under threat of the participants being traded for house plants.

Morty and Slugger are not pleased.

In a Life or Death Situation, Marcy Chose The Crazy Dog Lady

After being rained out from work early one day, Crazy took Mortimer, Slugger, Emmi, Hector and Marcy out on the desert to play in the mud and puddles.  Not long after beginning the walk, the sprinkles turned to a torrential rainfall.  We’re not talking a hard rain here, we’re talking sheets!

With the Waggin’ Wagon parked up hill from the play area, the entire brood had to walk against a mountain wide waterfall to get to get back to it.  There was no shelter anywhere else, and some of the kids, at least those who live with the belief that rain water would melt them, (though they will dive head first into a pond)  were not happy in the least, so waiting out the storm was not an option either.

The force of the water moving downhill was too strong for Hector and Marcy to move against, so Crazy had to carry them. Hector was placed on a boulder while Crazy carried Marcy up first, leaving her with Emmi, Slugger and Mortimer, already heading back to the Waggin’ Wagon.  Crazy then went back to get Hector.  Half way back down the hillside, Marcy flew by Crazy, half running, half sliding on her butt, Bush Baby eyes bulging.

Rather than stay with, and/or flee to the protection of the Waggin’ Wagon with The Idiots and her besty, Marcy chose to ‘risk her life’ to stay with her mom.

Wow! (And sniffle)

Marcy is always happiest when she is playing on the desert.
Marcy is always happiest when she is playing on the desert.

In a related story, the Waggin’ Wagon is in need of a serious internal odor recalibration after having sat for nearly 2 hours with 1 soaked human and 5 wet dogs, trapped on one side of a flooded wash.  Though everyone did eventually make it home safely, the Waggin’ Wagon, and Crabby who had to drive it the next day, were not in a good way.

Maude is Completely Deaf

Crabby never hears a word Crazy says, but that’s a man thing.  Maude, Queen of Run A Muck Ranch and #1 Daddy’s Girl is the same way.  Most of her life, Maude’s failure to hear was by choice and out of loyalty to her Dad.   Now, it’s an elder issue.

Run A Muck Ranch is quite familiar with dogs with selective hearing, but one who hears no sound at all is a new experience.  That being said, in short order, a system of hand signals has been choreographed and Maude responds quite well to them.  Aside from communication with these signals, there have been no changes at all in Maude’s life.  She still loves a car ride, still loves her Daddy and can still go on Desert Walks.

The only difference on walks that have resulted from Maude's deafness is that we, and she, maintain more eye contact.  Everything else is the same.
The only difference on walks that have resulted from Maude’s deafness is that we, and she, maintain more eye contact. 

Fortunately, hugs carry the same meaning without sound as they do with sound, so no modifications have had to be made in that department.

If you ask Crazy, she will say Maude’s last legacy to The Ranch is to train her and Crabby so they are prepared to take the auditorily challenged in the future.

Run A Muck Ranch Being Overrun With Ticks

Run A Muck Ranch has existed in a bugless state until last year, when the ticks started to show up.  This year the ticks came back, with a vengeance.

So far, just about every brand on the market; collars, drops, foggers, fumigators, sprays, shampoos, dusts and dips, have been put into service, but alas, the ticks are at this point, mocking the humans of Run A Muck Ranch, more particularly, The Crazy Dog Lady.

During the summer, walks are far and few in between, so bringing ticks in from that route is unlikely, at least to cause the infestation we are experiencing.  There are no plants, per se, in the yard where the dogs play.  Run A Muck Ranch exists in an area of no lawns, no new development, and therefore no vectors to suddenly and without warning bring ticks in – especially when there have been no life changes in the first 16 tickles years at The Ranch.  It is unknown where the ticks are coming from.  Believing the source might be somehow inside the house, said house was bombed, several times, with several different products.

It appears the ticks find the active ingredients in all bombs to be an aphrodisiac.

A completely unrelated pic of Franky and Angus thrown in, just because.
A completely unrelated pic of Franky and Angus thrown in, just because.

Garlic and Apple Cider Vinegar already proved their worthlessness last year, so they were not tried again this year.

In case there happens to be a tick expert reading this:  While the ticks are relatively constant, the number fluctuates one month low, the next month high, if that gives any additional information that might help rid The Ranch of the scourge.

It has gotten to the point the Run A Muck Ranch inhabitants resemble a group of monkeys with the humans checking for and picking ticks every night from the dogs.

If ANYONE has ANY idea on how to get rid of  ticks that can apparently survive a nuclear disaster, PLEASE SHARE!!!

Slugger Continues to do Well Sans Valley Fever Treatment

With the 1800% increase in the price of Fluconazole, Run A Muck Ranch had to make the painful decision to remove Slugger, who never  showed symptoms, from treatment.  He has been off Fluconazole for 4 months as of now, with no adverse effects.

It is possible for a creature (human or furry) to have Valley Fever, but never have a symptom.  So far, Slugger is proving to be one such creature.

His treatment plan moving forward will be annual titer checks.  If he starts to show symptoms, he will be put back on Fluconazole.

Not the way a sick dog usually acts!
Not the way a sick dog usually acts!

 

Sarah’s Response to Amantadine Sways Jury Away From Valley Fever Caused Symptoms

Sarah stopped treating for Valley Fever at the same time Slugger did, but for different reasons.  Sarah has many problems which may or may not have been related to Valley Fever, depending on which vet we spoke to.  Problem was, full dose Fluconazole made Sarah sick, so she only got half dose with the hope that it would simply slow the disease.

Around the time Sarah was removed from Valley Treatment, Amantadine was added to her pain management regimen.  Since starting Amantadine, there has been such a dramatic improvement that Sarah has not needed her Prednisone nor Tramadol.  Sarah is more active, vocal and playful.  Actually, more than she has ever been since becoming a resident of The Ranch.

The marked improvement in Sarah now has the jury swinging in the direction that Valley Fever was never a cause for Sarah’s problems, and that she has improved despite ceasing treatment for Valley Fever means our decision to remove her from treatment was forgivable since it apparently was never necessary to begin with.

DSC_6113_1872

Sarah will always be wobbly and things will always be closer to her than they appear (at least to her), but she feels good, and that’s what’s important.

In a related story:  If readers will remember, early on, the veterinarians all gave Sarah maybe 2 years before euthanasia was the only kind option.  She will have been a treasured resident of Run A Muck Ranch for 3 years come January, and she is healthier and happier now than she was when the original diagnoses were made.  NEVER accept as gospel that there is an expiration date!

Emmi’s Most Recent Valley Fever Titer Check Comes Back Negative!

Before anyone gets excited, a fluctuation in titers is normal for Valley Fever.  Still, we will be trying Emmi at 1/2 dose Fluconazole for 6 months, and if her titers remain negative, or at least low, she will at most require maintenance and not treatment doses.

Since Emmi has remained consistently low the last few titer checks, not only will her Floconazole be reduced, so will her maintenance checks.  Rather than blood draws every 3 months, we can now go to every 6 months.  Our bank account is very happy right now.

Even if we can beat the Valley Fever, the damage to Emmi's bones is irreversible.  A body in motion stays in motion, so we will just continue to make sure Emmi's body is always in motion, with lots of fun hikes!
Even if we can beat the Valley Fever, the damage to Emmi’s bones is irreversible. A body in motion stays in motion, so we will just continue to make sure Emmi’s body is always in motion, with lots of fun hikes!

Pictures From Thursday Sunset Walk

I haven’t been carrying either the camera or camcorder on the newly re-started evening walks, and as a result, I missed THE MOST adorable dog/coyote encounter between Marcy and, you guessed it, a coyote, last walk.  I have since been schooled by Crabby to always carry a recording device.  That being said, I refuse to carry both!

Here are some pics of tonite’s sunset walk with Sarah, Maude, Angus and Emmi

The Gang
The Gang
What a hottie!
What a hottie!
Bummer this one came out a little blurry.
Bummer this one came out a little blurry.
Because you can never have too much Angus!
Because you can never have too much Angus!
I was discussing with Angus the need to trim his toenails.
I was discussing with Angus the need to trim his toenails.
Maude enjoying the sunset.
Maude enjoying the sunset.
Can't you just feel the wisdom she exudes?
Can’t you just feel the wisdom she exudes?
Beautiful Sarah...
Beautiful Sarah…
...at least when she's not all squinchy!
…at least when she’s not all squinchy!
Sweet Emmi.  She wouldn't sit still enough to get any close-ups, and all her action shots came out blurry.
Sweet Emmi. She wouldn’t sit still enough to get any close-ups, and all her action shots came out blurry.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch, there was one who was not pleased that I went out without him.   He’s not speaking to me at the moment.

Tomorrow Willy, tomorrow it will be your turn!
Tomorrow Willy, tomorrow it will be your turn!

On Dog Supplements and Spa Treatments

Those of you who have been here a while know I went off the deep end last spring over Vito’s intestinal obstruction, and my subsequent research into commercial dog foods.  Since that time, I have cooked the meals for those dogs who ate soft food.  I remain a hypocrite in that while I shun the factory made soft foods, I still feed commercial kibble.  I assure you, if there were fewer than 13 dogs, or at least fewer that require medical maintenance for their special needs, kibble wouldn’t darken our doorway either.

Given the questionable digestibility and nutritional content of ANY dog food, and given the fact that I don’t scientifically calibrate every nutrient or calorie in my home-made foods, I thought it in my best interests to research supplements for those nutrients that could be lacking, or to improve the kids’ ability to digest what they consume.

Unfortunately, my distrust over commercially prepared foods has spilled over into the realm of commercially prepared supplements as well.  This means that the supplements I give the kids have to be derived from whole foods or whole ingredients.  Turns out, the best supplements for dogs also happen to be great ingredients for home spa treatments.  Who would have thunk?

To avoid subjecting the menfolk to ladies’ home spa treatments, I have written the girly stuff in pink.  Just skip over those parts if you aren’t interested.  The dog supplement information will be in black.

Apple Cider Vinegar has lots of trace elements often missing in commercial and homemade dog foods.  Additionally, it helps regulate pH in the digestive tract and helps with nutrient absorption.  There are claims that ACV also helps repel fleas, ticks and mosquitos, but there is no documented proof of this.

applecidervinegar

ACV can be added to food or water, however, it has to be added very slowly, literally a drop at a time, getting your dog used to it gradually, until he can take it at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water.  Another way of adding this supplement would be to add a drop to your dog’s food.   For the record, when I say ‘drop’ I am referring to eye dropper drop.  Vinegar of all types is pretty powerful stuff.  A little dab will do ya.

Some dogs will never take to ACV.  Just be ever vigilant and make sure your dog doesn’t stop eating or drinking altogether when you add it.

As long as you’re supplementing your dog with ACV, why not correct your skin’s pH by diluting 1 teaspoon of ACV in a cup of water and using it as an astringent?  This mix is also the best and cheapest method of removing surface oils and makeup (except eye makeup, that is) without stripping your skin as well.

Got dandruff?  Use lots of hair goop to keep your doo?  ACV diluted 1 tablespoon per cup of water, left on for a minute or 2 will remove all build up, cleaning your hair and scalp down to what nature gave you.  Honestly, ACV is probably the best ‘shampoo’ you could possible use, and it leaves your hair bouncier and shinier than store-bought shampoos.

Papaya and Pineapple

Both papaya and pineapple contain enzymes that digest proteins.  Since we can never be completely sure of the quality of proteins in commercial dog foods, a little help digesting what proteins are available can only help insure our dogs get the maximum benefit from what they’re fed.

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pineappleMake sure to pick the greenest fruits as the enzymes start to diminish soon after ripening.  Actually, you have about a week before the digestive benefits start to decline.

You can either feed in chunks or stick them in a blender to make a smoothie.  Use one or use both, the results are the same.

I stick a dinner spoon sized blob (smoothie) in the larger dog’s bowls, and half that amount in the smaller ones, twice a day.  I haven’t found anything in the literature that says you can overfeed these protein enzyme powerhouses.  At the same time, they are only supplements, so feed in moderation.

While most of the kids at Run A Muck Ranch went right to the papaya, none liked the pineapple at first.  I started blending the 2 together in smoothies and pretty soon they would take either, well, all except DASH! that is, but he’s a whole other battle altogether…

But wait you say!  My dog couldn’t possibly eat an entire papaya or pineapple in a  week!  No worries!  While you’re cutting up the fruit(s) or scooping out a smoothie for your dog, slather some on your face and neck.  Remember, both digest proteins!  What exactly are dead skin cells made up of?

You can pay a fortune for spa quality chemical exfoliants, or you can do it cheaper and safer at home with the facial wonder fruits.  With repeated use, papaya not only exfoliates and accelerates skin cell turnover, but reduces dark spots.  Pineapple evens skin tone and has a slight bleaching effect – bonus for those of us with blotchy skin.

Years ago, when we only had a few dogs, and by a few, I think it was only 6, and I actually had time to comb my hair, I used my ‘fruit smoothies’ regularly and religiously.  One of my snowbird clients (only here from November to May) returned one fall and made the comment that I had a new face.  It wasn’t from spa treatments, it was papaya.

I hadn’t done it regularly for several years, but then I was surprised to find out that papaya was a great supplement for the dogs.  Now, just before I scoop the smoothies into the kids bowl, I slather it on.  I’m already starting to see a difference.

Egg Shell Powder is one of the most natural and digestible forms of calcium available.  When feeding home-made foods, balancing your calcium to phosphorus correctly can be difficult.  Meats usually supply sufficient phosphorus, but if calcium is lacking, phosphorous can’t do it’s job.

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Every time you make eggs, save the shells.  Freeze them until you have about a dozen.  Spread the shells on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or if you have a dehydrator, go at 160 degrees for 3 hours).  Once the shells have been dehydrated, break out the coffee grinder and grind the shells until they are a fine powder.  DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID!  Don’t get the freshly ground shells too close to your nose or you will be sneezing for hours!  Once the dust settles there’s no problem, but just out of the grinder, beware!

Sprinkle over dog food (1/4 teaspoon for small, 1/2 teaspoon for medium, 1 teaspoon for large dogs) and you have your calcium requirements for the day.

Hey, if you want to pay a fortune for dermabrasion, feel free, however, you can get the very same effect using eggshell powder.  The sensitivity of your skin will determine how much powder to use.  Put a little in your hand, add a little water to make it less powdery, and start scrubbing (how hard you scrub also depends on skin sensitivity).  It takes a little practice to get the water to powder ratio correct, but once you get it, I guarantee you will feel a difference in your skin the very first time you use it.

Every one knows about the wonderful probiotic power of Yogurt.  It’s not just good for humans, dogs can reap the benefits as well.  Just be sure to use plain, unflavored yogurt, and make sure it contains live yogurt cultures.  It appears there are as many opinions as to how much to feed a dog as there are people who have written books.  I have resorted to scooping ‘a little’ into the small dogs’ bowls, and  around a 1/2 cup into the larger dogs’ bowls, once a day.  Yogurt has the same lactic acid contained in milk, and like people some dogs can be lactose intolerant, so start with a smidge and work up depending on how your dog reacts.

Since he’s been on yogurt, though Slugger remains gassy (It’s part of Slugger being Slugger), he isn’t as toxic as he was before.  If I miss a few days, pity the person standing in Slugger’s vicinity when he goes off…

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Especially for those with sensitive skin, Yogurt is a gentle exfoliant with some bleaching properties.  Additionally, if you went a little too heavy with the pineapple, papaya or egg-shell powder, and are left with irritated skin (or even if you have sunburn….), Yogurt will make things right.   Just slather it on and your skin shall be soothed.  The fats in yogurt, even those in low-fat yogurt, are most excellent moisturizers for dry skin as well.  Try to find a moisturizing exfoliant on the store shelves…  you won’t find one.  A word of warning, however, where you can wander about with a face smeared with papaya or pineapple, yogurt gets a little drippy, so sit still until you are ready to rinse it off. 

These are just a few of the gems I have come up with so far.  I’m still researching nutrition and supplements for the dogs, and who knows, maybe I’ll find a dog supplement that will clean house or do laundry in the future.  What I’d really like is one that does foot rubs…

Crazy Dog Lady: How do you train 13 dogs?

This one comes from a FB private message,  and it has an easy answer:  We don’t.

It is physically impossible for 2 mere humans to work full time jobs, maintain a home, care for 2 special needs horses and 13 dogs, some of them special needs, AND have time to train said dogs!

And yet…  Of the people who borrow our kids on a regular basis, this is the feedback we get:

One finds our dogs more loving and sociable than her own  dog.

Another wants a dog, but wants one ‘just like’ ours, and by “ours”, she means ANY of the kids she borrows.

Yet another found Morty to be better behaved than her own, similarly sized Idiot.

Feedback from previously placed fosters was similar.

Believe it or not, the only reason Franky, Emmi, Gracie, Angus, Vito and Sarah can’t be certified as therapy dogs is because they live in a house where if food falls on the floor, it’s theirs.  Therapy dogs are supposed to be polite and leave it.

Well behaved (at least at other people’s homes), easy to walk, very sociable, mostly gentle, cuddly to anyone without being overbearing, and lest we forget, a blast to be around.

What is our “Amazing Method” that can bring so many misfits from such varied backgrounds, thrown together in a single heap, and have every last one of them be considered so well-mannered in public?

I have no clue what to tell you.  Honestly.    Bet you never saw that coming, did you?

My most favorite picture in the world, Christmas day, 2011.  If you count all the dogs, you will find 11.  Once has since passed, and 3 more have joined the family.  A family that plays together often, stays together, without leashes.  It doesn't hurt that we live in an area with plenty of open space to do this.  I think a walk with 13 is in order for Christmas 2013!
My most favorite picture in the world, Christmas day, 2011. If you count all the dogs, you will find 11. One has since passed, and 3 more have joined the family. A family that plays together often, stays together, without leashes. It doesn’t hurt that we live in an area with plenty of open space to do this. I think a picture of a walk with 13 is in order for Christmas 2013!