Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Puppies, it's Cold Outside!

Winter arrived earlier than usual and temperatures dropped fairly quickly in a short span of time. Gabe n Arch did not have a chance to acclimatize to the new weather, so for the past week or so, they've had to bundle up when going outdoors. Archie just freezes up when he's cold ... he sort of winds down like a mechanical toy and eventually becomes completely immobile. Gabe is a little tougher, but I've had to swoop in and hoist both boys up a few times, to get them back into the house.

Today was about -20C/-4F. We were able to play outside for about 5 minutes at a time, twice. Finally! Cabin fever is reigning. Fights are breaking out. Mittens are getting eaten. I think we're all looking forward to the predicted milder temps this weekend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gabe n Arch in Modern Dog Magazine!

I've been a fan and subscriber of Modern Dog magazine for a few years. I also "like" them on facebook.  On facebook, they recently asked fans to submit photos of their dogs in Hallowe'en costumes.  I submitted the one of Gabe as Michael Phelps and Archie as the hot dog.  They selected our picture and it was featured on the Modern Dog website.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aggie's Doggie Diner

The last month or so has been fairly hectic with end-of-summer yardwork, a new class I'm taking online from the University of Hawaii, and of course all of Gabe and Arch's regular activities. I also chose this time to launch Aggie's Doggie Diner.  I'm very excited about this, but probably could have chosen a better time to launch!

Aggie's is all about home cooked dog food.  Right now I have five different recipes/dishes that I cook in huge batches and then portion out into 500g or 1kg sizes, which I freeze into blocks and vacuum pack.  The plan is for people to purchase the food online at, and then I deliver all orders once a week.  Given the logistics, it's very much a local business, with delivery to Saskatoon residents.

I got the idea for Aggie's last Christmas.  I always make dog cookies for Gabe and Arch, so I made a bunch for all the doggies in my life.  The guardian of one recipient suggested I open a dog bakery; the guardian of another suggested I open a coffee bar for dogs.  It was the coffee bar idea that really got the old gears spinning.  It seems like every week there are more and more options for allergen-free dog cookies, but it's still a hassle to find allergen-free food.  And so on those long 60- or 75-minute walks with my pups every evening I started thinking things through.  And, voila, Aggie's Doggie Diner was born.

The logo is by the incredibly talented Tina Kugler of Handmade Logo Design.  I told Tina I was looking for a Betty Rubble/Judy Jetson-type retro woman, but with a more substantial figure.  I envisioned "Aggie" holding up a platter (a la "here I come with a burger on a bun!") and two pups looking up at the platter.  Tina pretty much "got it" in one go (unlike a few other graphic artists I approached before her).  So, yes, the woman is essentially me, and the dogs are Gabe and Arch.  "Aggie's," by the way, came about by combining the "G" from "Gabe" and the "A" from Arch.

Thus far business has been a little slow, but I already have one regular customer on board.  I'm hoping more advertising will help a bit.  And, the wonderful vet who provided free accupuncture for Archie for one year has offered to refer suitable clients to Aggie's.  Realistically, 5-10 regular clients would be about my max, given my day job and other activities.  So, things are looking good.  Knock wood.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gabe does Stairs!

When Gabe joined our family, our household was a little different. My mom and dad were still with us. They lived on the main floor of the house; I lived upstairs, in an apartment my parents fashioned out of the four bedrooms that were originally up there.

Gabe had no problem coming up the stairs to visit me, but he absolutely refused to come down on his own. I tried it all. I left him up there for hours by himself. I left him up there and fried bacon on my mom and dad's stove and then sat at the bottom of the stairs eating the bacon while Gabe looked down at me. I put a piggy puff on each riser, hoping he would follow them down.  Another day, I did the same with caramel corn.  (Neither were foods I would normally share with him.)  I put his leash on and tried to walk him down, hoping it would give him a sense of added security. When Gabe was two, I took a vacation; while I was away, my dad tried to train Gabe too. Nada.

At the time my dad passed away, Gabe weighed over 60 pounds. I carried 60 pounds of dog down the stairs several times a day. Worse, for some reason Gabe feels the need to kick off once we hit the bottom riser, as if he's diving to safety. I had numerous bruises and even more scratches.
When Gabe was 3, we finally moved downstairs for good. I rented out my old apartment and became a (much!) younger version of Mrs. Roper. Gabe rarely had a reason to go upstairs over the next few years. Whew!

About a month ago, I was installing a window air conditioner upstairs. My current tenant is pretty awesome. The dogs love him and he loves them back. Gabe and Arch came with me for the install. When I was finished, I gathered up my tools and told the tenant I would come back for Gabe, since he couldn't go down on his own. The tenant said, "No, I'm sure he went down already."

I peered down the stairwell and sure enough, there was my big galoofus, at the bottom of the stairs! Sadly, though, I missed him in action.

This week, a new fridge was delivered for the apartment. The tenant was at work, and asked me to oversee the delivery. After the delivery guys left, I let Gabe and Arch upstairs so that they could sniff all the new smells the delivery guys brought in. And before I knew it, I actually saw Gaberushka hoofing it down the stairs. Ahhh! I ran and grabbed my camera, and made him come back up, so I could capture this Kodak moment.

Honestly, I think it's the dogpark. I think Gabe's gotten so much confidence from the new dogpark experiences that it's carried over.  You'll notice though, that he hugs the wall pretty tightly on his way down.  He's pretty smart, my boy.

Yay Gabe-o!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthdayversary Archie!

My Boo celebrated 4 years as a member of our pack today.  He was found as a stray, and is one of the rescues rehomed by Beagle Paws.  No one is sure of his exact birthday.  He was about a year old when he came to live with us; so we designated his arrival date as his birthday.  It's a special day for us.

So special in fact, that we wear party hats.  I was thrilled to find these Snoopy party hats on eBay.  Gabe was not so thrilled.

But hey, he knows resistance is futile, so he went along with the ride for a little while.  I got a couple of decent party hat shots:

Besides wearing hats, on special days like this we do things that doggies love best.  And just by chance, napping and eating are high on my list of likes too.  We had a nice leisurely morning (avec nap).  Stew fresh from the oven for lunch.  In the afternoon, we went to the dog park, but I sadly didn't think of taking my camera.  This dog park visit was memorable because we were out there in the rain.  Archie is scared of thunder, so when the first rain drop hits, he usually seeks shelter.  We did take refuge in the van for the heaviest part of the storm, but were back out in the park while it was still sprinkling. 

We had our usual special day entree - bbq steak.  Just to try to keep things healthful, I followed the home cooked idea of 40% protein; 30% carbs; 30% vegetables.

The steak went over well.

The peas, not so much.

However, after Gabe licked his bowl clean, he came along and graciously helped Archie out.  I still regret not naming Gabe "Hoover."

After supper, we partook in some ball playing.  In general, I think Gabe is more expressive than Arch.  However, get the ball out, and Arch goes to town.

"Just try to get it away from me!  Just try!  I dare you!"

"But if you insist on waving that camera around, sure, I'll pose for a picture or two."

"Okay, enough with the camera.  Please play, now.  Pleasssssse!!"

The crowning "event" of the night was to be the presentation of two very special bones.  The boys get a lot of chewies (Texas Toothpicks, beef pizzles), but rarely an actual bone.  Gabe got down to business lickedty split.

Arch, well Arch was not as interested in chewing on his bone as he was in burying it.

All in all, a lovely birthdayversary!  But, please pass the cookies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dogs on Thursdays: Play Please!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sultry Summer Sundays

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Napping works, rain or shine

We've been having crazy weather this summer, with a phenomenal amount of rain.  Archie is scared of thunder, so while Gabe is lounging on the sofa, looking bored, Arch is huddled in his tent, shivering and panting.  But, when the sun does break out, Arch is more than happy to work on his tan.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Gabe!

He's 6 today!  My big galoofus.

I'm painting my kitchen and in the mess I lost the cable to download pictures from my camera.  I'll post some from today as soon as I am able.

Gabe started the day in a frisky mood, stealing my shoe and daring me to chase him around the yard.  He got in some good naps - both indoors and out - before suppertime.  I cooked us all bbq steak and baked potatoes for the birthday feast.  Afterwards, we went to the dogpark.  Gabe's new friend Luca was there, so I'm sure that was a high point of the day, as was his wallow in a mud puddle.  And I do mean wallow, even dipping his nose in and tossing mud in the air.  Ay-yi-yi.  Yes, I had to drive him home like that.  When we got home, I presented him with his gifts - a big bone and a toy (a stuffie with a squeaker inside, from the dollar store; it should last about 2 minutes once he decides he needs to get the squeaker out).  Luckily for Archie, everything comes in "twos" on birthdays here, so Arch shared equally in all the loot.

We topped the day off with a much needed bath. The birthday boy is now snoring beside me.

Happy birthday Gabe!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog Park Bliss

After reading Brad Pattison Unleashed, I felt it was time to take my boys to the dog park.  Gabe has not been well socialized and it became a Catch-22.  He wasn't socialized because I was scared to take him to the dog park, but because I was scared to take him, he wasn't socialized.  I had hoped that obedience classes would help (we went when he was 3), but the instructor didn't really care about socializing his class (meanwhile, in the puppy class next door, all the little ones were chasing each other and tumbling around, making friends).

Gabe was my main concern, but I also worried about Archie.  He spooks easily and doesn't listen to me when he's in that scary place in his mind.  He was also a fence-jumper when he first joined our family, determined to see the world, and I'm not convinced that wanderlust is totally eradicated.

However, Brad Pattison makes strong arguments for taking your dogs to the dog park.  His arguments make sense, and it was something I've always wanted to do .... I just didn't have the confidence - in myself, or in my dogs.

My worries were largely for naught.  Gabe barks a bit when we get there. I think it's mostly excitement, "Whoo hoo!  I'm here!  I'm really here!"  His fur stands up sometimes when dogs sniff him up, but he pretty much puts up with it.  He even put up with a very rude pit bull that was absolutely determined to hump him.  (Gabe was extremely embarassed by this, sitting down and hunching up, looking sheepish - his body language was clear, even to me!) 

Archie was not impressed the first few times we went.  He kept running back to the gate, wanting to go home.  He doesn't do that anymore, but he certainly sticks close by.  And, both of them give me no attitude when it's home time - in fact, they usually head to the gate before I do.

I'm proud of my boys - and you know what?  I'm proud of me too.  I regret that it took us this long to do it, but now that we're there, we're not turning back.

(It's windy on top of the hill!)

Happy puppies!

We went again this weekend, and met up with Annie and her family. Annie was a foster beagle who lived with us from November 2008 to April 2009. It was lovely to see her and her people, and her brother Zeus too :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dogs on Thursday ~ Brothers

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review ~ Brad Pattison Unleashed

With my last review, I met my goal of reading and reviewing 13 books in one year for John Mutford's Great Canadian Book Challenge.  When you've got another great Canadian dog book just waiting to be reviewed there's nothing for it but to plow ahead and make it to number 14.

I had been planning on buying Brad Pattison Unleashed anyway, and when Brad posted on his facebook page that he would be autographing copies of the book that were ordered directly from him, I jumped at the chance for a very small brush with fame.  My book arrived inscribed, "Enjoy the book Jacki ~ Have a great day.  Cheers, Brad Pattison."  Coolness!

Autograph aside, the book is awesome. Here at Gabe n Arch, we're giving it 8 paws up and some tail wags too.  It's a nice little physical specimen, without the quality issues that I noted in Pattison's Synergy.  The book is really well written and very forcefully projects Brad's voice, clearly recognizable from the way he speaks on his television program, At the End of my Leash.  Brad the Author once again seems much more approachable and less abrasive than Brad the TV Guy.  He is someone I would love to sit down and chat with.  Brad is funny and insightful, and most of all he is passionate about doing it right.  Some people might argue that his methods are not the best, but the book is persuasive.  I think by the time you're finished reading it, you'll be nodding your head and thinking, "by golly, this guy is onto something!"

The book goes over the same lessons we've seen in the tv show and in Synergy - replace treat training with umbilical training, get the dogs off the furniture, no talking, and lots of physical and mental activity; gradually working up to the ultimate doggie reward, off-leash freedom.  Common issues like how to choose a puppy, house training, and how to introduce a second dog to your household are addressed.

Something I've never seen addressed in the tv show (though, granted, I've not seen every episode) is Brad's take on shelter dogs.  Brad says, "I have mixed thoughts about shelters," and goes on to say that about 40% of his workload involves shelter dogs.  I know from experience that shelter dogs are not baggage-free.  They are a lot of work.  But they're there, and they need someone to love.  Earlier in the book, Brad points out that only 16% of dogs sent to shelters are actually adopted out.  That's about the saddest thing I've ever heard.  I'd love to learn how we can improve those numbers.  Nowhere in the book does it talk about fixing your dog, and that seems like a big first step to me.  What else can I do - beyond committing to my two rescues - to stop 5 million dogs and cats from being euthanized annually? (US figure) Someone that loves dogs as much as Brad clearly does must have thoughts on this.

Part of the answer is to commit to your own dog.  Don't get a dog without giving it a lot of thought, and once you have a canine member in your household, give him the love and training that he needs.  So people, buy the book, read it, love it.  And most of all, embrace it.  I'm still slacking off on umbilical, but we did try the hide-and-seek game tonight.  We all had a blast.  We're working up the courage to try the dog park next ....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Natural Tick Repellent

A friend of mine forwarded a CBC news story about ticks arriving early in our part of the world this year.  Thankfully, Gabe has only ever gotten two ticks in his six years on this planet; and Archie has never gotten any.  Still, time to break out the tick repellent!

I have been buying Hartz UltraGuard Plus for a long time, even though it makes me uneasy.  Have you ever gotten that stuff on your own skin?  It feels cold and tingly for hours, not a comfortable feeling.  And, since I wash my hands much more often than my boys get washed, I have no idea how long the cold, tingly feeling lasts for them.  And what if they accidentally get some in their mouths when they're wrestling with each other or something?  Although I'm generally not keen on chemicals, my stance is that some are a necessary evil.  In this case, it's not so much that I was against applying chemicals to their skin as knowing what it felt like to have it on my own skin.

So, I googled, and I found a recipe for a natural tick repellent that has been amended and reposted to a few different sites:

2 tablespoons nut oil (I used almond oil)
10-25 drops rose geranium or palmarosa essential oil (I used palmarosa)

Pour into a glass jar or bottle and shake well.  Re-apply a couple drops to your dog's collar about once a week.  I'll let you know how it works out!