Category Archives: Dogs

The Day the Dog Ate the Christmas Gifts

Technically, Gunther didn’t eat all the Christmas presents. He only ate the candle supplies, and thankfully–he just sort of chewed them up. I imagine we would have had a fairly expensive vet visit last week if he’d actually eaten all six bags of wicks.


That’s right. This sweet baby destroyed six bags of wicks, one 10-pack of clamshell tart cases, and he tried to sneak off with a freezer bag of fragrance oils. Thank goodness I caught him with the oils. Who knows what that would have done to him.

Out of twenty planned candles, I was only able to make nine. Nine. Needless to say I had a little more Christmas shopping than I had planned for. Those candle tutorials will have to wait as well.

Gunther still feels terrible, I’m sure. Right now he’s snoozing on his cozy microfiber blanket in front of the Christmas tree, wallowing in remorse.

Engaging Dog Toys – Pickle Pocket by Starmark

Günther doesn’t care much for the chew bone we bought him. My mother’s dog, a South African Boerboel, loves the Nylabone BIG bone, but Günther won’t touch his.  Instead, he loves the wheelbarrow handle, logs from the woodpile, My Little Ponies, and Barbies (particularly the feet and hands). He also has a special fondness for Weston and Chelsea’s stuffed animals. He has his own, but no one shrieks and screams when he chews on those, so they’re not as much fun.

Yesterday we went to PetSmart to search for something he would chew on, specifically looking for the treat dispensing toys I’ve read about. There were many options, and the hard part was choosing just one. We looked at several, but we were most intrigued by the Pickle Pocket by Starmark.  It’s soft, chewy, and virtually indestructible, even by the most serious chewers (according to the online reviews).



We bought it and the Flavor Waves to insert into it, and then we let Günther test it out. At first, he was a little puzzled, unsure why the treat was ‘stuck’. Since the pockets are very deep, we shoved some training treats on top and let him try again, hoping he’d get the point of the toy. He did.


He’s been chewing on it off and on all day. So far, we’re very impressed. I like that I can use their treats (which are going to be very, very hard for him to remove), or I can refill it with kibble, yogurt, or training treats.


I like the idea of switching up the toys, so we’ll be buying a few more puzzle toys of different types. I hope Günther likes them as much as he likes his Pickle Pocket!


Homemade Sweet Potato, Banana, and Oatmeal Dog Treats

These are healthy dog treats that require only three ingredients-oatmeal, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Really! All three are ingredients found in expensive natural dog treats. Why not make them at home? Günther loves them.

Dog Cookies

Sweet Potato, Banana, and Oatmeal Dog Cookies

3 very ripe bananas

1 sweet potato, baked and cooled

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1. Mash banana and sweet potato together. Stir in oatmeal.

2. Spoon 24 cookies on a baking sheet (they won’t rise, so they can be close together).

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 – 30 minutes, or until firm in the middle. Cool completely.

Feed your dogs 1 – 2 cookies a day, and they will love you! You can make the cookies smaller if you have a small breed dog or if you want to make training treats.



Meet Günther

Meet our sweet Günther.  He’s a short-haired Saint Bernard, just eight weeks old, and he has the cutest mopey eyes you’ve ever seen. He has little freckles on his nose, too! We just love him.

Our 8 week old Saint Bernard Puppy, Günther. Chelsea 'decorated' him for his picture...
Our 8 week old Saint Bernard Puppy, Günther. Chelsea ‘decorated’ him for his picture…

When Dudley passed we knew we would get another male dog, but we weren’t sure when or what kind of dog we wanted. We thought about getting another malamute, but we both decided we just weren’t ready for that.

We originally planned on getting our boy puppy sometime this fall. We looked into three different breeds we’re very fond of: Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, and  Newfoundland.

We started our search looking for a Bernese Mountain Dog. We discovered they are very prone to cancer–sometimes very early cancer. Though you never know what may come with any pet, we didn’t want to get a puppy with such a low average life expectancy–just six years.

We almost placed a deposit on  a Newfoundland puppy, but something wasn’t quite right. After Jake and I visited the parents, we went home to think about it, and I’m glad we did, because we found out we both had reservations. Newfoundlands are amazing, and I would love to own one someday, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t right right now.

Then we found Günther (sounds like Goonther), a Saint Bernard puppy whose litter was born on Valentine’s Day. We love everything about the breed–the size, the temperament, the hair, the drool…okay, maybe we don’t love the drool, but we don’t mind it either. He was exactly what we were looking for.

We placed our deposit on him when he was six weeks old; there were only two males left. He turned eight weeks old yesterday. We drove a total of 19 hours to go pick him up and bring him home (because we’re crazy). It was a long, long day. I don’t have pictures of the drive, because we simply didn’t have time. It was go, go, go all day long.

Chelsea and Günther
Chelsea and Günther

Cold Process Soap vs. Shampoo – Washing a Dog

Over the last few days, Ellie has gotten dirty. Filthy, actually. We’ve been working on getting the backyard ready for planting this year, and that’s involved mowing down a bunch pasture grass and weeds. Ellie thought this was the greatest thing ever, and she rolled around in the freshly cut grass/weeds. Seeds, leaves, twigs, dirt, and who-knows-what-else got caught in her fur.


Weston and I have horrible allergies and asthma, and it was clear if Ellie was going to come inside she was going to need a bath. We came to this realization last night, and it was too late to run to the store for dog shampoo. What were we going to do?

Since we brought Ellie home, I’ve been searching for a cold process soap recipe for dogs. They have a ph that’s naturally higher than ours (dog’s ph is about 6.2 – 7.4, and ours is 5.5 – 5.6) , and that’s why you shouldn’t use regular shampoo on them. It dries their skin and hair out, and it makes them itchy.

Cold process soap has a naturally high ph. In fact, one human shampoo bar recipe I found includes citric acid to lower the ph and make it more gentle for humans. Is seems weird to write human so many times…anywho…

Right now I am concocting a doggy cold process shampoo bar recipe. I will post it when I’m happy with it. Last night, however, we didn’t have a doggy shampoo bar, so we used one of my dye free, unscented, goat’s milk bars that was made from coconut, olive, and canola oils. It worked so well! She is so soft, fluffy, and white this morning!

Ellie, the morning after her bath.
Ellie, the morning after her bath.


Saying Goodbye

Our Alaskan Malamute, Dudley. In this picture, he's just over a year old and clutching his beloved stuffed raccoon, Chester.
Our Alaskan Malamute, Dudley. In this picture, he’s just over a year old and clutching his beloved stuffed raccoon, Chester.

I’ve been avoiding this post, but it’s finally time to write it. As many of you know, Dudley was diagnosed with diabetes in January. He was on insulin shots twice a day, and we had him on a special prescription diet. At first, it seemed like he was doing pretty well. There were little things that worried us, like the fact that at he’d gone completely deaf or that he was slow to get up in the morning, but he seemed fine.

In the beginning, before we started the insulin, Jake and I decided together that we would only continue his medication if he seemed happy, healthy, and like himself. At first, he did, and then he began to have bad days–days where he couldn’t stand up on his own or when he became grumpy.  There weren’t many of these days in the first month, but then they became more frequent toward the end of February. He became snippy and surly, which wasn’t like Dudley at all. He would cry out in pain if you pet or brushed him just wrong. He didn’t want to eat anymore, and he was always tired. He couldn’t go on walks  because they hurt.

His diabetes seemed under control, but he was quickly deteriorating before our eyes, and he wasn’t happy.  He was tired.

The day we let him go he was having a rare good day. A bright eyed, happy Dudley day. My mother drove in from out of town to help me take him in, and I tried to change my mind. Maybe he wasn’t ready to go? Maybe he’d be okay? Mom listened to my reasoning, she gave me support, and she helped me make the hardest decision I’ve had to make. I let him go on a good day, on a day where he wasn’t in too much pain and wouldn’t know pain again. I knew I made the right decision when he shook uncontrollably when I urged him out of the car–it always hurt him to get out, and he was obviously still in pain.

Mom ended up taking him in for me. She kept a brave face so Dudley wouldn’t think anything was unusual, and she didn’t cry until she got back to the car. She said he was happy till the end. There was never a day in his long life that he doubted he was loved and treasured.

I miss him so much. I’m healing, and so is Jake. Dudley will always have a special place in our hearts as the puppy we got as newlyweds and said goodbye to the year of our tenth anniversary.  He was a gift from God, and we are so thankful he was in our lives.


Photography – Take your Camera off Auto

I’ve been lazy lately and simply switching my camera to auto instead of manual. I don’t know why I started, but my photos have suffered for it. As I was browsing through my recent pictures, feeling very discouraged, I vowed to avoid auto from now on.  My photos are all slightly blurry, and the camera always seems to focus on something other than my subject (you can really see this in my last post).

To brush up on my camera settings, I visited my very favorite camera tutorial, Exposure Made Easy, at I’ve read a lot of books and articles, and watched several videos on photography, but nothing ever made sense the way this tutorial did. I really recommend it.

Ellie and I ventured out to see if I could remember how to take a decent photo. I’m happy with the way they turned out! I tweaked the color a bit with Perfect Effect, but nothing major. The important thing, to me anyway, is the focus is pretty sharp. You can fix color and contrast, but you can’t take a blurry photo and gussy it up to make it pretty. You just can’t.

Ellie Girl f/4.5 1/800 s iso 200
Ellie Girl
1/800 s
iso 200
Aperture: f/5 Iso: 180 Exposure: 1/800 sec.
Tired Puppy Aperture: f/5
Iso: 180
Exposure: 1/800 sec.

Go take some pictures!


A Girl and Her Dog

We’ve had Ellie for almost two weeks! It’s crazy how fast it’s flown by. She’s the softest cotton ball I’ve ever seen–a cotton ball with teeth. She’s ornery…oh my, is she ever. She’s also sweet. And smart…too smart at times, but that goes back to her being ornery.

GirlandHerDogWe spent our first weekend with her reinforcing our back fence. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but if she were clever enough, we’re pretty sure she could have gotten out.


Here Ellie is, supervising.


Then resting in the shade…

FixingFence3Here she is a few days ago checking it out. She walks around the whole thing two or three times a day.

FixingFence4Can you see how much bigger she’s gotten in just a week and a half?

And look, it’s spring! I love the view from our backyard.



Sew an Orthopedic Dog Bed!

A few weeks ago we went to one of our local pet stores to look for a dog bed for Dudley. We weren’t too impressed. Most everything was way too small, and the beds that came close to large enough were crazy expensive. I’m not paying $80.00 for a dog bed. I’m just not. And since we’re getting our Pyrenees puppy in a few weeks, we knew we were going to want a couple of them.

He didn’t want his picture taken. I snapped two pictures, and then he wouldn’t even look at me!

Instead, I decided to make a couple dog beds. The bed we liked most at the pet store was labeled orthopedic. After a little inspection, we saw it was filled with a couple layers of egg crate foam. Joann sells this foam in sizes twin to king. We picked up the full size knowing that it would be enough for a large bed for Dudley and a medium size puppy bed for our baby girl. We took advantage of a 40% off coupon, and it dropped the price down to about fifteen dollars for the foam.


We bought two colors of canvas, maroon for Dudley and pink for the puppy, and then we bought some super soft minky fabric in white. I figured Dudley leaves white hair everywhere, so a white top would be best. That was a bad idea. Dudley, in fact, does shed white hair, but he tracks in tons of mud this time of year. If I had it to do again, I would definitely buy tan minky. We also picked up a couple long robe zippers so I could make the covers washable.


The materials cost about sixty five dollars, which is a lot, but it’s still cheaper than one bed.

I made Dudley’s bed first. I measured out the size I wanted and cut two layers of foam. After that, I laid my foam out on the canvas and cut 3 1/2 inches around it. Then I moved the foam to my minky and cut 1/2 an inch around it.

After the fabric was cut, I cut 3 1/2 inch squares out of each corner of the canvas.


Once each corner was cut, I stitched the cut squares together, forming the sides of the dog bed. After that, I added the zipper, and then sewed the minky to the canvas.

I serged all my edges so that it wouldn’t fray when washing, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. After that, I stuffed the foam inside the cover, and I was done! The foam is a little tricky to work with. It sticks to itself and the fabric, but eventually I got it.

Dudley loves his bed. If he’s inside, he’s on it. I gotta tell ya, it makes me pretty happy to see him love it so much. I  probably would have cried if he’d snubbed it…

He really didn’t want his picture taken. And please forgive the floor. It needs a good mopping; as I mentioned earlier, he’s been tracking in copious quantities of mud.

A few notes:

I did not pre-wash the canvas for Dudley’s bed, and I definitely should have. It shrunk a bit the first time I washed it. Not cool. I pre-washed the fabric for the puppy bed, and I would recommend it.

Dudley’s foam pieces are just stacked on top of each other. With the puppy’s bed, I decided to tie the foam together in the corners and in a few spots down the middle to keep it from shifting while I stuffed her bed (just like tying a quilt). This worked great.

Puppy Bed!


Two Weeks After Diabetes Diagnosis and Doing Well!

Look at him–he’s so happy. All the fresh snow was calling him yesterday morning. He stayed out for about twenty minutes, and then he decided he’d had enough and sacked out on his bed in the living room the rest of the day. It’s been two weeks since he was diagnosed with diabetes, and he’s doing very well. His blood sugar crashed on us last week (talk about scary), but we took him to the vet and they lowered his insulin. Now he’s doing great! No problems with the injections anymore, either. My hands don’t shake, and I don’t dread it like I used to. Actually, I would much rather give him a shot twice a day than try to get him to swallow a pill!