Sunday, March 13, 2016

The New Kid in Town...

This is Indigo. He arrived from Iowa two weeks ago and is settling in just fine!  We all adore him. OK.. maybe not Nutmeg yet, but she is quite curious and is making her presence known.

This little guy is an English Cream Golden Retriever. They are the same as the traditional American line Golden's but come from European breeding lines. They are lighter in color in most cases, a bit shorter, stockier and tend to have a blockier head.

All other traits are pretty much what you'd expect from any golden retriever.

Indie just adores the BIG dogs! It has taken a little getting used to things for all of them, but nothing we weren't really expecting.  The big dogs are teaching him all of his "puppy" manners.. biting, playing, respect. I swear by having other dogs to teach a puppy! While they aren't reliable to say "don't chew on that electrical cord", they teach a puppy valuable things they learn best from a pack.

Monroe has emerged as the favorite big dog for Indie. He does make him tow the line respect wise, but he is the best snuggle buddy and playmate a little guy could ask for. Watching them play is quite a sight! To see the 105 lb Great Pyrenees on his back with a little 10+ lb. puppy climbing all over him, chewing etc. is hilarious! It's amazing to see him put his whole head in Monroe's  mouth.. it's like putting your head in a lions mouth.. Those teeth are BIG!

Freyja has come along and is letting the puppy snuggle up to her. In the past this took a considerably longer time. She plays with the puppy, but does so like an Aussie.. a bit of herding and nipping usually come into play. Indie seems to take it all in stride. Including those big dog "don't do that" corrections.

Nutmeg... Well, she's a work in progress. At least she isn't hiding under the bed in my room all day. She "stalks" the puppy every morning when we first get up. He and I spend a little one on one time in the living room. She has taken to inserting herself into the room, sniffing his toys, drinking his water and daring him to approach. He usually tries at least once and is met with the same response... hissing, growling and a swat. Eventually Nutmeg will get to the point she is with the other dogs, they respect her (usually) and she gives the nuzzles to say that she loves them.

He's growing fast! We've started our first puppy class. An early socialization and puppy kindergarten. This class is given in a facility that is Parvo / Distemper disinfected following a veterinary protocol for puppies not yet fully vaccinated. We are taking little short walks around the block getting used to being on leash. He is doing quite well! Again, this is where that adult dog makes a HUGE difference. We walk with Freyja and Indie just wants to keep up with that big dog. He's much less concerned about a leash.

A few updates on the things I wrote about previously...

I bought this shampoo for Indie.. Cloud Star Rosemary and Mint. While I have no objections to the ingredients, I don't really love the smell. I have always LOVED Aveda's Rosemary and Mint shampoo for humans, but this smells nothing like what I expected for those herbal scents. It is quite "perfumy".. Which in a house with humans who get migraines frequently, perfumy is NOT a good thing. I think I will still go down the road of making my own. I also got a spray from the same company in the same scent for those who prefer NOT to bathe... (Monroe) I found it to be even more highly fragranced with a stronger perfume like scent and less herbal. I will also be looking for a recipe for a spray to freshen the "let's not take a bath" crowd.

I really like the collars, leash and harness I ordered for Indigo, but the leash and harness were both a bit too big. I had to go hunting for an alternative the day before puppy class started. It took a couple weeks for each order to come from the first harness and leash, so I knew that wasn't going to work for class!

  I'll have many more things to share about Indigo and what he and I are planning in future posts!
Till next time!

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Weeds.... Almost every yard gets them. They are mostly a pain. Getting rid of them is not easy and usually requires the liberal use of chemicals. I am generally opposed to using chemicals in the yard of any kind.

I recently found through Pinterest a very effective way to naturally kill weeds. Now, this method is only effective in areas where you intend to kill all the green you spray.  If your weeds are in the lawn, the grass around the weeds will also die.

We have a back yard devoid of any grass. There was grass planted there when we moved in, but I don't think it was a suitable variety for a shaded, yet hot and humid area. It died little by little. Now we have what I refer to as a lovely "dog scaped" yard... There is nothing of any real value growing on the ground. It is mostly dirt, leaves and areas of rock and gravel.

Each year I get some kind of weed like ground cover which I do not know the name of. It's actually kind of pretty. Gets little flowers in it and grows nicely dense and doesn't seem to mind being walk on my man or beast. I'd leave it to grow if it weren't for the "other" things that inevitably start growing in there as well. The space it to large to want to weed the weeds! So I go for total kill! Nicely of course...

Since the yard has dogs in it throughout the day, any type of chemical is out the question for me. What I found to use is awesome! Cheap, easy and totally pet safe!!!

It's a simple solution of cheap white vinegar, Epsom salts and dish soap.  

1 Gallon Vinegar
1/2 Cup Epsom Salt
Squirt of Dish Soap (I use Dawn)

I bought one of these last year and SOOOOO glad I did..

I just put all the ingredients in the container, screw on the top, which locks in place when not being pumped, and give it a swirl. I usually let it sit for a few minutes to let the Epsom salts dissolve, but I don't find this takes a long time.. just swirl a bit and you are good to go! All you have to do is pump pressure in the tank and then spray. I find this one to work great! If I can pump it... ANYONE can! It sprays for a nice long while before needing to be re-pumped.

I usually make two gallons at a time so I can do the whole yard. You want to do this on a day when it's going to be sunny. I spray in the morning and then leave it.

Your yard WILL smell like vinegar! This goes away after a day or two and is only really noticeable during the warmer part of the day.

The first photo is of the lovely ground cover before being sprayed. Yes, it looks kind of cool, but a closer look would show all kinds assorted evil just dying to burst forth.

This is after only ONE day! I will probably do this again in a week or so depending on how well I got everything in round one. It usually takes me more than one time, but twice is about all I normally have to do to get everything under control.

I have one consideration with this process and I time it so to make less of an issue out of it is... soap of any kind will kill bugs/insects etc. This is usually a good thing, BUT we use beneficial nematodes in our yard as a very effective flea and insect control. Any pesticide include insecticidal soaps will damage the microscopic little guys! 

I am doing this weed treatment BEFORE putting out new nematodes for the year. We usually refresh them yearly. Since winter is relatively mild here, we probably have a reasonable amount that survive the cooler weather, but I like to add new ones just to be on the safe side. We will be adding our nematodes in the next month or so.

I will do a whole post on beneficial insects soon. We use a variety of fun stuff!!

That is all for today! Till next time...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Subtleties in Natural Labeling

I've been on a mission to get as natural as possible for my family and my critters. It's a process. Layer by layer. You really can't change EVERYTHING overnight. For the critters, they have little choice beyond protesting to eat what they are offered. So far, no protests have been waged. 

I am mindful of what I am giving them and hope they find it all palatable. I figure they will tell me they don't like it by not eating it should that be an issue.

My current issue is with dog shampoo.. seems innocent enough right? I thought if you bought something labeled natural, that is what you were getting. I will admit I didn't even read the label all the closely. I figured a brand known for natural products would be NATURAL...

Here is a link to a great article in Dogs Naturally Magazine about ingredients that SHOULDN'T be in your dog's shampoo. It can be a bit confusing with all the chemical names. I actually just googled some of the ingredients on the shampoos I had since they looked similar, but not exact to the ones on the list. Turns out they were the same types of thing... (This all makes me want to start looking at what I'm slathering on my own head and body!..One step at a time!)

Why does this matter???.. animals, just like people, absorb things through their skin. This is why topical flea treatments are offered. They don't just work on the outside, they are absorbed into the body. I am NOT a fan of these or flea collars or any other chemical flea treatment. Yes, I have used them at times in the past, but only when absolutely necessary and I am taking as much of preventive approach as possible now to hopefully NEVER revisit them again.  (I will do a post on natural flea prevention and what we use soon)

Back to shampoo...

Today I threw out over a half dozen different bottles of dog shampoo.. Several were labeled "natural".. I have ordered a new version online from the website I get my dog/cat food and other supplies from called (LOVE these guys! )

I am hopeful about the shampoo since I have bought dog treats etc. from the same manufacturer and liked what was in them. I did have a hard time finding a list of ingredients for the shampoo, but I think this one checks out well.

I am ordering supplies to make some of my own DIY Dog Shampoo. I'll share that recipe once I get the supplies and take it for a test drive.

I did some research looking for a recipe and found lots of ideas, but most recommended using soaps that contained the same ingredients I was trying to get away from in the so called "natural" dog shampoos. I have to admit once I started looking at ingredients in brands likes Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation, which I always thought were REALLY good, the products started looking a little LESS natural than they'd like you to think they are. I am sure they are a better option than most mass produced brands, but under a magnifying glass things start getting a little blurry.

I'll update later about my homemade shampoo experiment!  I KNOW I have test subjects just DYING to try it out!!!

One last thing about They are awesome! I buy all of my dog food, cat food, kitty litter, treats and "other" items from here. It is shipped FREE.. I have an Auto Ship set up, they email me a week prior to my shipment so I can adjust, delay etc. I change my order EVERY month!!! But I always get free shipping since I am feeding a few critters, I never run out, I don't have to go to the pet store and lug around heavy bags of food, litter etc.. and... Its' CHEAPER!!! Always! Comes to the door in 3-4 days after shipping via Fedex. All I have to do is drag the boxes in the house.

The price on the dog food I get fluctuates a little, but is consistently $10-20 cheaper per bag than PetSmart or Petco! (I do buy BIG bags!) Kitty litter isn't a huge savings, but it comes right to the door and THAT saves me having to go get it!!! Each month seems to be a little different for me, so I love that I can adjust the order and still get the auto-ship discount. This month I ordered PUPPY food!!!! I had to get some of what they are currently feeding the puppies and a bag of what we will be feeding him to transition. I know they will send some with him, but transitioning should be done slowly. This little guy will have a few new things to get used to so I want to move slow with food changes..

That is all for today! Till next time...

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Over the years several of the dogs we have had experienced problems with repeated ear infections. Quinn, our Golden who passed last year had a really big problem with them. It got to the point we had a standing prescription for gentamicin from our veterinarian so we didn't have to go in EVERY TIME he got another flair up.

I was getting tired of medicating him and wasn't fond of the list of side effects, especially the one that suggested long term use could cause hearing loss.. ugh!

So I set about to find an alternative. I came across an enzymatic ear solution on Amazon which claimed to be highly effective for ear infections. I read it.. My medical husband read it and we decided it couldn't hurt to try.

The product is called Zymox Enzymatic Ear Solution with 0.5 % Hydrocortisone. I have to say it worked wonders! I didn't have to use the prescription ear medication again! Quinn did still get occasional ear infections, but less frequently and this worked in the same time frame as the RX.. Not to mention cost less!

They also have an ear cleaning solution you can use for routine care, but it's not intended to be used at the same time as treatment.

Both of these products are available on Amazon. I can't say the dogs LOVE having the stuff put into their ears, but they like the little massage that they get with it. That is usually followed by running around like a fool, rubbing your head on the floor, couch or whatever seems best at that moment. This last for a few minutes and we have a treat and calm returns to life.

Here is a recipe for an ear cleaning solution. I have not yet used this solution myself. It was recommended on a Great Pyrenees forum I belong to.

Ear Cleaning Solution

8 oz. Witch Hazel or Rubbing Alcohol
2 Tbsp. Boric Acid (pharmacy or Amazon)
8 drops Gentian Violet Essential Oil

Mix all ingredients together. Place in a small dropper bottler.

To use place several drops in ear, close ear, massage. Try and keep ear closed a few minutes. Release dog, allow to shake clean excess from ear with a cotton ball. 

Till next time!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Collars and leashes

I have developed some preferences over the years of owning dogs when it comes to leashes, collars etc. I've tried MANY different versions and some fare better than others. I gave up on retractable leads a long time ago. While I know they are popular and I did at one time use those for multiple dogs, I feel they lack the ability to have good control in various situations. Not to mention for larger breed dogs, which I always have, they are really less than effective.

A while back I bought a leash that had what was referred to as having a traffic handle. It's a standard looking 6 ft. leash, but with an additional short looped handle at the one foot point for holding your dog close when crossing the street, needing extra control when other "less than well behaved" dogs approach, or people who are clearly NOT fond of dogs. This last one becomes apparent when walking a giant white dog. He (Monroe) has a bit of an imposing appearance. It attracts some people and frightens others. He doesn't change how retracts, but people give off very distinct energy around dogs. Comfort or fear, with some middle ground.
Traffic control leash by Dog Collars by Design / Etsy
I had no idea how much I would grow to LOVE these leads with traffic control handles! Brilliant! I makes it easy to walk the big guy at a heal where he is comfortable with a little slack, but still the ability to react if needed. Freyja (Aussie) likes walking at the end of the leash, but reigns in when we pass other dogs, runners, bikes etc. I joke she is training for the Iditarod, but I do think she'd take a spot on a team if offered the lead dog position!

The one thing I did notice about these traffic control leashes, which I got at the local PetSmart/Petco..(one or the other), is they only come in one size, two lengths. 4 foot and 6 foot. When I used the one I have now on Monroe as a Puppy, it was clear the heft and weight of it, especially the heavy duty clasp were a bit overwhelming. Even for a giant breed dog!

This lead me to start looking around, online pet stores, Amazon etc. I was still able to only find the same bigger or even MORE expensive versions. SO.... I decided to search Etsy. I found a seller Dog Collars by Design who had a nice variety of collars and leashes, prices were reasonable and they would customize. I ordered a simple 3/4 inch wide webbing collar in Navy and a lead to go with it also in the 3/4 inch width. I asked for the traffic handle to be at the one foot point. Julie, one of the co-owners of the shop contacted me when they were ready to make the lead. We had multiple conversations working to get the specifics right.

I got the order a couple days ago and everything came out great! The lead is EXACTLY the way I wanted. It will work much better than the bigger, wider, heavier ones till the little guy needs that. Then I will go back and order a bigger one! I also ordered a second collar for when he gets a little bigger!
Dog Collars by Design / Etsy

I think the moustache collar will look SOOOO cute on him when he gets a little bigger! It will stand out nicely against that creamy white coat.

The order took about 2+ weeks to be made and shipped which was made clear in the listings and on the main page. Certainly worth the wait to get things just right!

I also now prefer to use a front hook, no-pull style harness on the dogs. I do train them to heal and some are better at DOING that than others. Freyja WILL heal, but prefers to wander out front. She actually makes a routine of going out and back quite a bit, just to touch base and make sure I'm still there!

I got a couple harnesses from a place online called Walk your Dog with Love. I like them and they work well, but I had a few things I'd change if I could. They go on easily and work quite effectively, but I am not a big fan of the way they go under the dogs armpit. I have two double coated dogs with a whole lot of hair! So far I haven't noticed anything getting matted out bound up under there, but it seemed like a problem could arise.

SO... I found another Etsy seller..3 Pooches. She also has a website 3 Pooches Collars. She has a very nice patented harness that I have ordered for the new little guy. It is also a front hook, no-pull harness, but also has a clip on the back of the harness which gives you options. She sells a leash that will clip to BOTH hooks for training or controlling a heavy puller.. this looks like a sound design, especially for big dogs with a strong tendency to pull!!!

3 Pooches No-pull Harness / Custom design version
This harness can be ordered in the sizes give, or she'll do a custom fitting for dogs that don't fit standard sizes due to a big chest, narrow chest, long body etc. I also liked that it can in several widths of wedding making it more suitable for the puppy. I ordered a 3/4 in wide medium since it ranges in size from 15-24 inches. This is the dog's girth. I used Nutmeg (kitty) as my size model. She was less than pleased to be measured for girth.. she may be a wee bit body conscious since she's a tad overweight. This size should fit the puppy for quite a few months and of course be useful on any future puppies.... I haven't received this harness yet or tried it out, but it get great reviews on Etsy and that is usually a good sign.

And so that Freyja didn't feel left out of all the fun.. I ordered her a new "bad ass" girl collar...
Pink Skull Tattoo / 3 Pooches Collars
Monroe got a cool new "big" dog collar when we were on vacation in Oregon in December. We bought it at a little dog boutique at the beach, but it's from a company I really like called Ruffwear. They are out of Bend, Oregon. The collar we bought can be seen Here. This one is built for tanks! If you have a tank of a dog.. I'd highly recommend this collar! If life gives us what we REALLY want, we will live there (Bend, Oregon) someday! Everything Ruffwear makes is awesome! Nothing super fancy, but functional and great ideas. I even bought Freyja a raincoat for our walks since she has such a heavy coat and takes FOREVER to dry. Having something that helps keep her dry is nice.

That's all for today! Till next time.


Friday, January 29, 2016

A New Chapter

So... What is this blog all about...?

Life. My life in particular, which involves a husband of 26 years, a Daughter (almost) 22 years old, currently two dogs. One Australian Shepherd female, 7yrs old... Freyja. One Great Pyrenees Male, 20 months... Monroe. AND.. The Queen who rules us all, 4 year old Nutmeg, the tabby cat.

I am a creative soul. I rarely sit still for very long and when I do I am usually creating something. I cook, used to garden till we moved to Texas and ended up with the Flintstones soil and an environment the required a blood sacrifice every time you went outside, except in the winter when all the mosquitoes have gone to HELL for the season! IF I could ACTUALLY dig in the soil and NOT have dozens of bites, I would still be gardening. As it stands now, I just kill everything via neglect.

I intend to write about what I do... Cooking, crafting and pets! LOTS of pet stuff is likely! I have been focusing on a natural approach to pet health, nutrition etc over the past few years. If I can find an alternative to using antibiotics for an ear infection (which I have) than I much prefer that!

I am NOT a trained veterinarian, pet nutritionist etc.. I research all of the information I implement into use in our home. I HIGHLY recommend you research before trying anything unknown to you.  I am simply stating here what I try. I do not profess to be an authority. I do think sharing ideas is good and can be helpful for others. Take what you want from here, leave what you don't.

For the past 5 years I have been selling my wears (Jewelry) in a booth at the Gruene Market Days. I enjoyed this a lot and loved all the people I met. BUT, I feel that has run it's course for many reasons and I am moving on to other things.

The first week of March I will be getting a new puppy... An English Cream Golden Retriever...

One of these cute little guys will be headed our way from Iowa. He and I have special plans! I will be training him to be an emotional therapy dog. We will work as a team and visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes etc. I am very excited about this new journey.

It will take a good bit of training, time and focus to get where we need to go, BUT.. that is where we are headed!

I am no longer making jewelry for sale, but I will (hopefully) get what I still have left in inventory photographed and put on my website later this spring. Right now I am on a MAJOR cleaning spree! Clearing out every closet, nook and cranny in this house including the dreaded hoarder garage! I am determined to make a difference and really clear things out! I'm either selling it, giving it to the Goodwill or throwing it away if I don't need it! 

I have been at this task for almost two weeks now and I was OVER it a few days after I started, but I am GOING to finish!!!

You CAN walk down the hall, mostly unencumbered now... I DO still have ALL of my Christmas decorations up, but that will be remedied soon. I'm imperfect and I am TOTALLY OK with that!

Till next time!