Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • Could Chicklet and Bazooka have avoided running into the moving car if they had learned “Wait and Stay?”

    Written By Leigh Pyron

    I’m sure the first thing you’re thinking is Oh my gosh! are they alright? Yes, they did survive the collision with only minor injuries, thank goodness!
     
    It all started about six months ago when I received a call from a couple who desperately needed help with their two “out-of-control” Labradoodles named Chicklet and Bazooka. Both dogs had some basic obedience training when they were puppies, but unfortunately no one had taken the time to keep up with the training as they grew older. They had quite a few challenging behavior issues to address, such as, knocking adults and children over when greeting them, pulling their owners through the neighborhood on leash walks, and (one behavior they had truly perfected) “bolting” out of the house through the front door and from the back of their SUV.
    A few days later when I arrived at their home for a consult, a nice young couple, Denise and Mark and their two children, Jack and Samantha, greeted me at the door. As the kids ran off to play in their rooms, we took a seat at the dining room table to talk. I was very anxious to hear the story about the car incident. I was trying to concentrate on what they were saying, but all I could hear was the background noise of scratching and banging against a door somewhere down the hall. They had put the dogs in the kitchen and they could barely contain themselves anxiously waiting to meet the new human that had entered their house. I finally told them to go ahead and let the dogs out while I stood up and braced myself a bit against the table. In seconds, a burst of energy came bounding into the room and I was gregariously greeted by two very large Labradoodles, one apricot in color and resembling the curly poodle side of the Labradoodle, and a wiry haired chocolate one looking very much like an Irish Wolfhound. I was trying to practice my usual initial greeting of new dogs, ignoring them and keeping eye contact with the owners, but I wasn’t very successful. These two were bound and determined to win my undivided attention!
    As Denise and Mark were yelling out their names in redundancy, and with extreme embarrassment, they each grabbed a dog and peeled them off of me. The next thing I knew, they were tossing handfuls of treats in the opposite direction for them to fetch. As the dogs flew across the room in search of their treats, we were finally able to take our seats again at the table. They were just about to share their story with me again when our brief, peaceful moment came to another screaming halt. Because both dogs had Labrador in them, the treats were gone in a matter of seconds and before we knew it I had a chocolate, apricot parfait in my lap! Now someone who isn’t a dog lover would have probably left the house by now, but the two of them were quite comical in their battle to achieve the most affection from the visiting human. It was all I could do to keep from laughing as the poor couple turned red and grabbed the pooches off of me again! Needless to say, Chicklet and Bazooka ended up back in the kitchen for the rest of our visit.
    Now, finally, I would get to hear the long awaited story… One Saturday afternoon Denise had headed off to run some errands while Mark got the kids ready to take them to a friend’s house for the day. As the kids got into the car, Mark headed back into the house to get the dogs. He was the only one who could handle the two dogs, so he was the one responsible for exercising them. Once the kids were dropped off he headed for a hiking trail a few miles away. As he pulled over to park the car, he saw someone he knew going into a house across the street. As Mark caught the man’s attention he waved to the man, who hollered out to him that he was taking his son to a birthday party. Unfortunately, Mark could barely make out what he was saying due to Chicklet and Bazooka’s out-of-control barking, whining and scratching at the hatch door desperately trying to get out. He ended up just smiling at the man and waving goodbye. He then proceeded to change from his street shoes into his hiking boots. As he was putting on his boots, unbeknownst to him, one of the bootlaces had gotten tangled around a floor latch that just so happened to be the release for the back-door hatch. As he grabbed the second boot he realized it was caught on something and began to pull it towards him. All of a sudden the back hatch popped open and out bolted Chicklet and Bazooka into the street. As the dogs flew past him, Mark, flabbergasted and frantic, struggled to release his bootlace from the latch. He shoved his foot into his boot without lacing it and bolted out of the car himself to try and accost the crazy doodles at large!
    Chicklet and Bazooka immediately headed towards the house where the birthday party was commencing in the backyard. By the time Mark caught up with the two dogs and made it into the backyard, he found them standing on top of a picnic table devouring a Cookie-Monster birthday cake! The dogs were surrounded by a group of screaming, crying and laughing children and adults. Mortified by the scene his dogs were starring in, he ran at top speed hoping he could take them by surprise. The second they caught a glimpse of him they flew off the table and headed around the other side of the house back towards the car. As Mark made his way around the house to the street, he was just in time to see his two crazy dogs looking back at him as if to say, “hurry up he’s gaining on us!” Within seconds of that look, the dogs ran head-on into a moving mini van.
    Luckily for Chicklet and Bazooka the person in the van happened to be searching for a parking spot when they ran into it, so the van was barely moving. The dogs were a bit stunned and in shock, but they recovered just fine. Mark on the other hand was another story! Needless to say, Chicklet and Bazooka’s obedience training program would begin right away and it would definitely include “Wait and Stay!”
    Once your dog has learned “Wait and Stay” there are many ways you can practice using it:
    ·         At any entrance or exit of a house or building
    ·         Getting in and out of your vehicle
    ·         Ask for a “Wait” before releasing your dog to eat his meal
    ·         At street corners and intersections
    ·         To keep from entering an unsafe area, e.g., a glass breaking in the kitchen
    ·         Using it as a backup to recall. If your dog won’t “come” when you call, try “Wait or Stay” and walk towards him
    ·         Use it as a game to play with your dog inside or outside of your home. Ask your dog to “Wait/Stay” while you go and hide somewhere; then release him by calling to find you.
    Teaching “Wait and Stay”
    “Wait”– When you ask your dog to “Wait” they cannot move past the threshold where you asked them to wait, like the front door, but they can move about behind the threshold.
    Teaching “Wait” – Put your dog on a 6-foot leash and shorten the leash a bit only giving your dog a few feet of the leash as you walk towards the front door. As you reach to open the door, begin to turn your body around to face your dog with your back to the opening of the door. If your dog is used to going out the door ahead of your, you may have to quickly move in front of him blocking him from the exit. Once he is in place, ask your dog to “Wait” while holding out your hand with a flat, open palm facing him. Begin to slowly take a few steps backwards while keeping a hold on the leash. If he tries to move forward, take a quick step forward into his space forcing him to move back behind the threshold. Repeat “Wait” one more time. Once he has been successfully waiting for a few seconds, release him by saying, “OK” or “Release” giving him permission to pass through the threshold. You don’t have to treat him once you release him; he is rewarded by being allowed to move through the entrance. You can praise him and tell him he is a “good-boy.” Practice this both entering and exiting the house. Be sure not to make him wait too long at first, work on building up time and distance.
    “Stay- When you ask your dog to “Stay” he can be in a sit, down or standing position. He must stay in position, without moving about, until you release him.
    Teaching “Stay” – Once your dog is in position tell him to “Stay” while holding out your hand with a flat, open palm facing him. Take a few steps backwards keeping an eye on him to be sure he remains in position. If he tries to move out of position, step forward moving him back into position, and ask for the “Stay” again. After a few seconds of staying in position, release him by saying, “OK” or “Release.” Remember to take your time building up on time and distance. If he keeps popping-up out of his position, you may be moving back too far or too fast. Start out at a short distance apart and only make him wait a few seconds the first several times you practice it.
    Have fun with these exercises. Once your dog has achieved “Wait and Stay” at close range, practice these exercises outdoors where you can really expand on your distance and time. When a dog learns commands through the fun of exercise and play they tend to learn very quickly and they don’t seem to forget it!

  • From the Workshops: Common Poultry Questions and Answers

    Written By Don Schrider

    Q. Do I need any special housing for my chickens?
    A. Chickens do need a shelter to get out of the rain and sun, and to block prevailing winds, but they do not need expensive or elaborate housing. Very simple or existing structures can be made to work. They should have good ventilation, without drafts, and should be secure from nighttime predators.
    Q. How do I heat my chicken house in the winter?
    A. There is no need to heat the chicken house. It is better to have the building open on the south side, so that fresh air will wick away moisture, dust, and ammonia from droppings. Sealing a chicken house tight in the winter actually results in more cases of frostbite and respiratory ailments.
    Q. What do I need to feed to get healthy eggs?
    A. Chicken eggs have been found to be an excellent source of protein, and the cholesterol in eggs has been found to be the good kind – the kind that decreases the bad cholesterol. But eggs from hens that range and that receive nutritional supplements have been found to be much more nutritious. One of the best supplements currently available is Omega Ultra Egg™. Omega Ultra Egg contains stabilized, whole-ground flaxseed and vitamins that boost the nutritional values of eggs and, in particular, increases Omega-3 essential fatty acids. This is very beneficial for us humans as many of our foods are high in Omega-6 and deficient in Omega-3.
    Q. How do I get more eggs?
     A. There are a number of things you can do to get more eggs, but the most important points to address are the basics: clean air, free of dust; fresh water; fresh, not stale, feed; freedom from internal and external parasites; and an environment which allows the birds to express their natural tendencies (such as dust bathing and nesting in a secluded spot). The birds should also be in good body condition, not too fat or too thin. Adding more corn to diet is good idea when hens are thin. Adding oats to the diet is a good way to bring over-conditioned hens into production.
    Q. I sometimes get soft-shelled eggs. Is there anything I can do about this?
    A. Hens that range on pasture, forage in grass yards, or forage in gardens often need a calcium supplement – eating less layer feed. It is good idea to provide the hens ground oyster shell that they may eat free choice. Other ways of including more calcium in the birds' diets include crushing and feeding egg shells back to them (crush so they do not look like an egg) and feed Omega Ultra Egg™ supplement which contains calcium. It is also a good idea to have grit available to help grind up the foods they forage. Free choice charcoal, as found in wood ashes from your fireplace or woodstove, is another supplement offered free choice. Charcoal tends to draw in toxins and so is useful for free ranging poultry.
    Q. What is the best breeding plan to use for my chickens?
    A. While many people believe breeding and mating is about producing superior individuals, the role of breeding is actually to manage genetic relationships such that a flock may produce healthy offspring for many years. When space allows, Spiral Breeding is the best overall method to manage genetic relationships. In Spiral Breeding birds are divided into three or more breeding groups. Each group is given a name, like A, B, and C. Daughters of a group join their mothers in that group – so Group A pullets join Group A hens in the next breeding season. Sons are mated to females of the next group – so Group A sons are used only with females from Group B. Culling and selection are the tools that produce superior individuals, or, rather, cause these to be produced from a flock.
    Q. How do I add new birds to my flock?
    A. Chickens have a pecking order that allows each bird to know who has first “dibs” on treats and roosting spots. When new chickens are added, the birds often will fight or even bully the new birds while trying to assert their ranks. Chickens also have social skills – ways of expressing a lack of threat as well as dominance. So if new birds can be penned such that the flock can see them and get close to them, separated by a wire fence for instance, then, when allowed together after a few days, fights will be minimal when they are integrated. It is also best to plan to be around for some time when the birds are first put together. Fighting may still occur, but in this way you can intercede if a bird is pecked to the point of drawing blood. I like to introduce birds during the day when they can roam the yards. This way there will be places for those low on the totem pole to hide from any bullies.

  • Meaningful Work

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    We all want to belong and feel useful. Most of us are happiest when we have meaningful work. Our dogs are descended from long lines of herders, retrievers, hunters, guard dogs, and other dogs who became companions to people because they did useful work. Nowadays, sleeping at home all day while the family is at school and work can leave a dog restless and bored. A dog needs plenty of exercise and a purpose in life. Of course our dogs are great companions, but when they don’t have the opportunity to do the jobs they were bred for, they can get into trouble, or even invent their own jobs.
    Take Bandit, for instance. He comes from a long line of Australian Cattle Dogs, hard headed, smart, intense dogs who are used to taking charge and are not intimidated by a herd of cows. Bandit has had opportunities to herd cows, but we don’t have our own herd, so those opportunities don’t come often enough for him. Thus, Bandit carries one jolly ball while herding another one around the yard. He tries to herd me to the door when he wants me to go outside. He sometimes herds the other dogs, especially if he thinks they’re in my way and wants to clear the way for me. He barks at the deer that come to the bird feeder, wanting to control those hoofed animals. When I’ve been sitting at the computer for too long, he whacks me on the leg with the rubber chicken or drops a tennis ball in my lap. It’s time to take a break and play ball! I call Bandit my recreation director.
    Chase has created some interesting jobs for himself. I think Chase is a mix of collie and cattle dog, two herding breeds. He has had the opportunity to work sheep and ducks, but not often enough. Herding dogs are especially alert to anything that is out of order because they’re used to watching over their flock. Chase likes to notify me when anything is different. He hears the garbage truck and snowplow coming long before I do and lets me know. He barks in a unique way when the feral cat is around. When we go outside, Chase patrols the perimeter as a collie will. He follows his nose, which tells him what other creatures have passed through. He spots birds way up in the sky and has alerted me to a bald eagle soaring high above. Chase is currently in training to become a therapy dog. I’ve felt for a long time that this is a calling for him and I’m finally giving him the chance to do it. We plan to volunteer at the library where kids can read to Chase, and we may also visit an eldercare home.
    One job that Chase takes very seriously is one that I cannot figure out. He goes bonkers when I crack a hardboiled egg. I can crack a dozen raw eggs with no response, but when I get ready to crack a hardboiled egg, Chase springs up and barks like it’s the end of the world. He has even learned what it sounds like when I take a hardboiled egg out of the refrigerator. When I flip the lid of the fridge compartment he comes running, anticipating that I’ll soon crack a hardboiled egg, and prepares to go bonkers. The only reason for this that I can think of is that this cracking sound reminds Chase of something from his early life in an abusive home. But I just don’t know. He is very sensitive to different sounds.
    Cay is more into play than work, but she has created a couple of jobs for herself. She loves to steal Chase’s favorite ball and scamper around the yard holding it just out of his reach. Since we only have one of these balls and Chase is quite serious about it, Cay enjoys the role of “bratty little sister”. The more Chase gets upset, the more she prances around with his ball, just out of reach. Having played the role of bratty little sister myself once, I tell Chase to pretend like he doesn’t care and the fun of the game will go away for Cay. But he goes into fits knowing that she has ‘his’ ball.
    When we go up to play in the pen on the hill, the dogs often take balls with them. The result is that our backyard would be empty of balls to play with if we didn’t bring some back down the hill every day. Cay has figured this out. Each day when we turn to head back to the house, she runs around searching for a ball to bring back. She never comes back empty handed (or should I say empty mouthed?). I can’t remember when or how Cay chose this job for herself, but she takes it very seriously every day.
    In the winter, at least one of the dogs jumps up on my bed before bedtime, warming it up for me. Sure, this is a perk for them, but it’s also a perk for me. I never have to feel cold sheets on a cold winter night. And I’m ready for a three dog night too.
    Sometimes my dogs work as a team. When I offer a large yogurt carton to be licked out, Chase licks the inside rim around the top, Bandit licks around the middle, and Cay, with the longest, narrowest muzzle, licks out the bottom. When I think about it, I notice more and more jobs that my dogs have created for themselves. What jobs do your dogs help you with?
    Of course, my dogs are great companions. Besides being my friends, one of the best jobs they have is leading me to new friends—through dog activities like obedience, agility, tracking and herding, and through their stories. Now that’s what I call meaningful work!
    We recently reconnected with Cay’s brother Zander’s family when they read an Omega Fields article about her. I’m happy to hear that Cays’ brother is also getting the great nutrition provided by Omega Canine Shine® ground flaxseed supplement and Omega Nuggets™ flaxseed treats.
    Wishing you and yours the benefits of great nutrition and a Happy Spring!

  • A Simple Statement

    Written By Julia Edwards-Dake

    I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things one might have considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer on the side of the freeway or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.

    The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it ‘the sickness’. It is a sickness I’ve had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of ‘the sickness’. It’s not a sport. It’s not a hobby. It’s what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.

    I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

    Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

    I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.

    The beauty I’ve seen because I ride amazes me. I’ve ridden out to find lakes that remain, for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold, beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Staircase at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

    I think of the people, mostly women, I’ve met because I ride. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie among the bunch. We haul 40 foot rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. Cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions; the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait, and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford ‘the sickness’ and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

    Julia Dake©
    2006

  • White Robin Farm Spring

    Written By Barbara O'Brien

    Spring is busting out all over here at White Robin Farm. Lambs are being born. Chicks are hatching and the flowers are waking up from their long winter sleep. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite spring images. Happy Spring to all of you from all of us at Barbara O'Brien Photography!

       

       

  • Feeding Horses with Respiratory Allergies

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Similar to people, horses can develop allergies to environmental contaminants that lead to asthma-like symptoms. In the equine world, this syndrome is referred to as recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). It was previously referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or (COPD) but due to dissimilarities with the syndrome observed in humans, RAO is now the preferred term. When some horses are exposed to dusts and molds, they develop allergies.  Why some horses do and others do not develop allergies is unknown. There is some evidence that this disease may be genetic. Horses born to affected parents are three times more likely to develop RAO than horses born to non-affected parents. Therefore, if you know your horse is predisposed to RAO, it is even more important to identify the symptoms and to properly manage its environment.
    Identifying RAO
    When the horse is exposed to an allergen, the body responds by increasing inflammation through the bronchioles coupled with bronchoconstriction.  The lungs increase in mucus production which the horse may not be able to clear easily. Frequently nasal discharge is seen, along with coughing, an increase in lung sounds and more distress during breathing. Lung sounds are typically heard with expiration, or the horse will “wheeze” when breathing out. Continual exposure to allergens may lead to fibrotic changes within the lungs. This will result in a horse which cannot take in oxygen to the same extent as an unaffected horse. You may notice that the horse has an increase in respiration rate over what is normally experienced during exercise, or he may become more exercise intolerant or fatigue easier. Horses with this syndrome which have had it more severely or more chronically may even develop a “heave line”. This is due to the hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles which must be used to assist the animal in breathing, rather than just solely using their diaphragm.
    Management of the RAO horse 
    As pollen and mold counts increase in the environment, horses with RAO will experience more symptoms or episodes of RAO. Often barns and stables are not designed with proper ventilation in mind. This contributes to a continual exposure of the horse’s respiratory system to particulate matter. Hay and straw bedding ideally should always be stored in a separate building from where horses are housed, and certainly not overhead. Additionally, the stalling area should be separate from the riding arena. All the dust that is kicked up while horses are exercising can greatly exacerbate the problem. Ever think about how much dust is stirred up into the air while the barn aisles are being swept? Ideally all of this dust exposure should be minimized and RAO affected horses removed from the barn whenever dust is stirred up. One of the best changes to management practices of the RAO horse is simply to house them outdoors. Often an improvement in airway function is seen within days.
    While horses stabled inside are clearly more likely to be exposed to particulate matter, horses on pasture during the summer can also have trouble. This even has its own nomenclature,  summer pasture associated obstructive pulmonary disease or SPAOPD. Horses with this syndrome should be kept off pasture during the summer months, but can be housed outdoors during the rest of the year. If horses must be housed inside, whether they are SPAOPD or perhaps competitive horses that must be stalled, it is imperative that the environment is as dust free as possible. Straw bedding may not be a great choice for RAO horses but shavings can also contain molds similar to those in hay and straw. High quality straw may actually be lower in spore count that some shavings. Alternative beddings may yield the best results such as cardboard or newspaper pellets. If straw or shavings are used, remove any RAO affected horses while bedding is introduced into the stalling area. Essentially, let the dust settle before the horse is put back into the stall!
    Feeding management
    Ideally the RAO horse should graze fresh pastures as much as possible, but obviously this is not always possible.  One of the most immediate dietary changes for the affected horse is to absolutely eliminate any moldy hay or straw that may be in the horse’s environment. While moldy hay should never be fed to horses, it is more critical with RAO horses.   One of the difficulties in finding suitable hays for RAO horses is that humans may not always be able to detect the presence of mold if it is not obvious. Try to find hay sources from a knowledgeable producer who bales high quality hay. The type of fungus which produces the most damaging fungal spores prefers relatively hot temperatures. This would be seen in poorly cured hay, or hay that is baled at too high of a moisture content. The heating which occurs during spoilage is a haven for these fungi.  Round bales may not be an ideal choice, unless they are stored completely inside and are never subject to any sort of spoilage. Additionally, round bales encourage the horse to almost bury their head within the bale, making the immediate breathing area of the horse very dusty. Completely pelleted diets might be a good choice for these horses at it greatly eliminates the dust exposure to the horse while feeding. The quality of the pellet is also critical. Uncoated pellets may break down more easily and have a substantial dust component. Hay cubes and haylage are also alternative feeding strategies.   Moistening the feed can also help in dust suppression prior to feeding. Hay only needs to be soaked for 30 minutes to achieve optimal dust suppression. Beyond that time no additional benefits are seen. However, the down side to soaking the hay is that some of the nutrients are leached out into the water, including P, K, Mg and Cu.
    Beyond eliminating dust and molds other dietary therapy may be aid the RAO horse. Supplementing RAO horses with additional anti-oxidants in the diet may be helpful. There is an increase in free radical formation or reactive oxygen species (ROS) in horses with lung inflammation. In fact, the increase in RAO may increase the upregulation of genes which produce inflammatory factors such as interleukins. Horses with RAO given a supplement of vitamin C and E plus Se resulted in less airway inflammation and an increase in exercise tolerance. Other natural sources of anti-oxidants such as sorghum and omega 3 fatty acids have not yet been studied for their effectiveness in RAO horses.   Additionally, due to the increased energy requirement just to breath, RAO horses are often underweight. The sustained stress to the horse’s system may also contribute to this weight loss. You may need to find a feed with an increase in energy density, such as a fat added feed to help maintain its body weight as well as additional anti-oxidants.
    If one follows these management guidelines carefully, RAO horses may be symptom free for years to come.   While pasture is ideal for RAO horses, performance horses which need to be stalled can be kept healthy with a rigorous adherence to maintaining a dust and mold free environment and proper dietary management.

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