Getting Back To The Basics

A place to show the changes in our yard, our garden, our home, and our life.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Violet Has A New Friend

My sister, Jackie, got herself a new puppy. He is a pound puppy - your typical "pit bull" puppy which basically means he is a mutt with physical characteristics that classify him as a pit bull - for what that is worth. At the time of this visit last weekend he was 8.5 weeks old.

Marley is a blue brindle with crazy ears

So our biggest challenge was obviously Violet. She met Marley last Wednesday on neutral ground (my dad's house) and it was an instantaneous hit. Violet immediately loved that puppy and wanted to play with him. By the end of the play session they were playing off leash with lots of good doggy body language: lots of hip and shoulder checks, play bows, and lots of give and take (I come get you, now you come get me). 

The negatives were that Violet doesn't adjust her play style for a small puppy. Meaning she plays with Marley like she plays with Sadie and when you are an 8 week old pup that can be intimidating. He handled it well enough though. Another negative was the resource guarding. I came ready with some treats to reward Violet for her good behavior but that back fired when she started resource guarding me. They played lovely until he came near me (and cookies) and then she told him off. So cookies went away and that improved greatly.

Overall I declared Wednesday to be a huge success. She has never taken to another pup so quickly. Though to be fair, I'm not exactly allowing a ton of interactions between her and other young pups either. 

On Friday Jackie came down with Marley and the happy play time continued in our back yard. Then we brought it inside and as expected Violet began to resource guard everything inside the house from the puppy. To be clear she wasn't interested in hurting the puppy, which is key because with her dog reactivity, that is always in the realm of possibilities. She just wanted to firmly tell him everything in the house belonged to her!

We separated the house to allow both pups to cohabitate without stress to either one. Violet was a little stressed but calmed down relatively quickly. Every so often we'd take everyone back outside to have happy play time, then go back inside but stay separated to keep the happy vibe going. I tried to treat Violet with cookies for good behavior but that back fired again with Violet increasing her resource guarding so once again, cookies had to be removed from the situation as a reward. 

By the 2nd day Violet and Marley had some good, positive interactions in the house. They even played together a bit! I plan on taking all of us (myself, husband, and sister) back to UCLA Dog for a private session so we can have continued success with Violet and Marley in the same house. With their help and all three adults in the house on the same page I feel confident we can help Violet overcome her resource guarding issues.

Here is a fun little video of Violet and Marley playing. Note the happy play bows. If you listen closely you can hear Violet chirping. Last time she did those happy playful chirps was when she was a puppy herself playing with Sadie - if that gives any indication with how happy and excited she was. Marley was a little overwhelmed at times which you can see when he runs and takes a break from the excitement by running into bushes for cover. But then he shakes it off and goes running after Violet. Give and take. Overall, it was great.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things Growing In My Yard

Day Lilies


Seascape Strawberries


Lots and lots of squash

Snap Peas



Tasmanian Berries

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Red & White Currants - First Season

I have memories of a red currant bush on Deer Creek Drive in Ferndale. The bush was on the left side of the front door and my mom would make currant jam if she could get enough from the bush after us kids got done picking at them. It seemed like a good fit having these in my own yard.

I have four currant bushes at the moment. Two red, one white, and one black. The red and white varieties are good enough to eat out of hand. I'm told the black varieties are better for jams and compotes. Three of my four bushes gave me berries this first year. One red variety did not, but it is in pretty heavy shade so that may be the problem.

Of the three with fruit, the red and white varieties are ready to eat. Since it's our first season the harvest is small. Just big enough to get a sampling of better things to come in future years.

First up - Jonkheer Van Tets. I tasted this sweet red berry and immediately thought back to those sweet red berries from my childhood. I couldn't describe their flavor by memory but as soon as I tasted it, I knew that was a flavor I had known and loved 25 years ago.

Jonkheer Van Tets

Next up is my white variety called White Imperial Currant. I would describe the flavor was similar to the red but maybe slightly more mild. Very nice. This bush was bigger when I got it so it's no surprise it gave me a larger yield. 

White Imperial Currant

Amazingly my pups have not discovered these tasty little morsels. They found my gooseberry bushes and ate every last berry on those bushes - even though they are super tart and unripe. I hope they don't discover the joys of currants or I may never be able to eat another one again.

Muddy Summer Day

I did some gardening and turned on the hose to fill up my watering can. Emptied it out on my newly planted friends, turned around, and saw this:

That's right Violet bury your face in that mud. It is good for your skin.

Violet was bobbing for tulip bulbs - she buried her face deep in muddy water and brought them up to land one by one, proud as punch at her find. If memory serves right, Violet enjoyed helping me bury them the first time around. And by help I mean she would put them up out of the hole as I placed them in and ran around the yard with them in her mouth.

While Violet was bobbing for tulip bulbs, Sadie was digging her way to China. I'd like to think she was helping me by finding a spot to plant a tree or two, but who the heck am I kidding.

Violet did not enjoy the bath that followed

Water Monster

I think everyone knows by now how much Sadie loves the water. She loves the water as much as she loves balls, and balls are pretty high on her "I love you" list.

Sadie has a yellow wading pool and the highlight of her year is when we bring it out from the basement and fill it up with water. Glorious, life giving water. The hideous yellow glow is from Sadie's hideous yellow pool.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Play Date With Emmet

We had Emmet over for the day. Overall everyone had fun and Rob has a whole new level of appreciation towards my obsessive compulsive training methods towards my girls. Emmet is an obnoxious teenager. Basically, he's a brat. An ill mannered brat. It wasn't all that long ago we had teenage puppies living in this house but it's amazing how quickly you forget. Thankfully for him we love him and if he visits often enough he will eventually wise up to the rules of the house.

A lot of my staffy friends laugh at the very idea of me keeping a garden AND two staffies at the same time. I didn't see what the big deal was. Yeah they sometimes smacked into things and inadvertently pruned things for me occasionally but overall they are pretty darn respectable towards the things growing in the yard. After having Emmet over for a day I understand their awe and questioning of my sanity. This boy is all JUMP FIRST THINK LATER!!! In fact I'm not entirely sure he has a lot of thinking going on inside that head at all.

I have a large metal cage of sorts over my blueberries.  It's a barrier to remind the pups to respect the space and the plant. Within 5 minutes of being in the yard he leapt through the air and right smack into the cage, completely oblivious of its existence. He got tangled up in it, half in, half out, panicking over the evil metal monster that was trying to eat him. He managed to free himself but the blueberry bush got pruned a bit in the process. The cage stayed intact and the blueberry bush is still alive so I guess that cage served its purpose!

Emmet is a bit ball obsessed so we have to keep several balls out to keep the girls from competing with him. It can get a bit frantic, him running around like a clumsy newborn moose, plowing into anything in his way, and the girls chasing (hunting, with a purpose) him down to get the ball back. As long as there are multiple balls out so no one has to share, life is good.

There was some resource guarding of the humans, mostly from Violet, so when that happened the human had to get up and remove themselves from the guarder, thus negating the need to RG. Over time, this will get better as they get used to each other within the home.

As everyone played outside, I sat in the hammock swing. They all took turns sitting in my lap, enjoying some one on one zen time with momma. Even Emmet figured out the hammock swing is pretty special. The girls didn't seem to mind, as long as I gave them some special time after he was done. See? momma still loves you. All is right in the world.

Before we took Emmet home, he and the girls had one last hurrah outside complete with play bows from Violet and Emmet. How cute is that? It was a nice way to end their visit together.

Happy Independence Day

From Sadie & Violet - have fun and play safe
Keep the pets safe and indoors. July 5th is the busiest day of the year for lost pets.