One of my favorite websites is active again. The Modern Homestead. The author, Harvey Ussery, took some time off to write a new book, but now he’s back at it, writing all sorts of interesting articles. He centers mostly around raising poultry and fowl, but also has an extensive gardening advice section as well. I really like his idea about setting up worm bins down the middle aisle of your greenhouse. I spent a fair amount of my spare time last summer reading everything on that website.
Our German Shepherd puppy, Wolfey has been at it again. Born Christmas Day 2010, he’s just a little over six months old, but over seventy pounds already. Courtney’s mother and sister visited over the weekend for our son’s birthday which meant we were preoccupied. The poor dogs stayed at home while we were out on Saturday afternoon and got into trouble.
Wolfey ran out of things to do, so he started munching through the strings used to make a trellis for our cucumbers. I found a cucumber plant laying lifeless out in the yard with its leaves removed.
Here is my response: a dogproof cucumber trellis.
I wrapped the whole thing in chicken wire. That ought to do the trick, I thought.
I was wrong. Yesterday, I caught him reaching his head up and nibbling on a leaf that was cascading over the top. The next step is to dust everything with cayenne powder.
As most of you know, we have two dogs: Cowboy, our English Shepherd and Wolfey, our German Shepherd. I am amazed at the differences. Wolfey is only six months old and already outweighs Cowboy by ten pounds. He eats faster than Cowboy and I sometimes have to act as referee at the bowls because Wolfey chows down his larger portion before Cowboy finishes.
I’m sharing some information I found on how to determine the proper amount of food for dogs. After all, you don’t want your dog to be overweight. An overweight dog is an unhealthy dog and will be prone to problems such as joint pain and heart trouble. Most people don’t seem to understand that a dog’s body condition is important. This is evidenced by the amount of fat dogs I see running around. And when I meet them and pet them, I can’t feel their ribs at all through all that blubber! Disgusting!
With that in mind, the best way to tell if your dog is overfed or underfed is by feeling the ribcage. You should feel some rib, but they shouldn’t feel like a bag of bones. Here is a great reference with some more description. Increase or decrease the level of feeding based on how they measure up to this standard. Don’t make changes too drastically though because it will cause stress on the dog.
There are a number of websites out there that can help you determine the appropriate feeding level for your dog, but here is one of my favorites. Combined with the information of the back of the bag of food you can determine the appropriate amount of food.
Here are a few pics of Cowboy and Wolfey enjoying themselves and running around the back yard. Wolfey is now bigger than Cowboy, at 55 lbs, compared to Cowboy’s 51 lbs.
Cowboy, our English Shepherd.
Wolfey – our German Shepherd.
They spend most of every day at each others throat.
A rare occurrence: synchronized sitting, or synchronized obedience.
I mentioned it a few times already but we got a new puppy for Cowboy. His name is Wolfey which is short for Wolfgang. He is an all black pure bred German Shepherd and so we picked out the most German sounding name we could find.
Flattering picture, sorry Wolfey. Look at those long legs.
While we are completely in love with English Shepherds, but this opportunity presented itself and we jumped at it. I posted before about the puppies our neighbor had, well Wolfey is from that Christmas Day litter. We have always been impressed with Wolfey’s mother Cinder. She is a massive German Shepherd with impeccable manners and a calm easy going spirit. This was quite a contrast to our puppy Cowboy whose every muscle twitched with excitement. Don’t get me wrong we love Cowboy’s personality and the intense love that he shows us.
A friend and fellow dog lover suggested that we consider getting a buddy for Cowboy to help him release some of that pent up energy. We really struggled with this advice because we thought how could two dogs possibly be easier to handle than one dog. It seemed so contradictory. But we trusted her advice and dove in head first. We introduced Cowboy individually to a few of the puppies in the litter and then we let Cowboy decide who his best friend would be, also from the advice of our puppy expert. We thought that it would be tough to figure out which puppy to pick because Cowboy would like them all but that was definitely not the case. Cowboy quickly bonded with Wolfey and they set to playing and running around right away. The other puppy was scared and sat in the corner during the visit. We instantly knew who we would be taking home.
Wolfey felt right at home and played with Cowboy nonstop until he crashed for a nap. Which is where we had another confirmation that we made the right choice, Cowboy whined the whole time Wolfey napped and even tried to wake him up several times so that they could play. Fantastic we thought. Cowboy was so busy with Wolfey he didn’t even notice that we were busy moving and couldn’t pay attention to him. We’ve had Wolfey since the last week of March and the dynamic between the two hasn’t really changed. They play all day and can’t be separated. Cowboy has not dug one hole since we got Wolfey, he also barks less and is less dependent on us for his every need. He was quite obsessed with playing frisbee, whenever we came outside he would drop his dirty frisbee in our laps over and over and over. He couldn’t get enough. Now we throw the frisbee for him to try and capture his attention away from Wolfey.
They are quite the pair and Wolfey is shaping up to have a very similar personality to his mother’s, calm, relaxed, and quiet. He even seems a little lazy compared to Cowboy. He smiles a lot, wags his tale and give kisses frequently. Our son is not quite sure what to think about all the kisses because Cowboy never gives them. His huge tail makes us laugh too because he can’t go anywhere without being heard thumping it along the walls. Cowboy is much more of a vocal dog and prefers barking and whining to get our attention so we are enjoying this quiet guy.
Wolfey is descended from the old world genetics of German Shepherds. We were told that Adolf Hitler did a lot of breeding of these dogs to make their backs sloped so they looked more aggressive, as if they were ready to pounce. Those genetic lines are more prone to hip problems. Wolfey, however, is of the older variety and has a significantly reduced risk of those problems.
Our poor English Shepherd, Cowboy, had a case of the hot spots recently. We thought he got fleas somehow, but upon closer inspection it was a hot spot. Basically this is a skin irritation from either dry skin, flea bites or an allergy. I’m guessing dry skin was our culprit based on the time of the year.
The spot was on his hip. He was biting at it in much the same way as dogs nip at themselves when they have fleas. It was very quick, tiny bites with his front teeth while keeping the front of his snout buried in his hair. When I took a closer look, I found that he had slobbered on it quite a bit too. And English Shepherds are not slobbery dogs at all. He’s not even a licker. I try to get him to give me a kiss on the cheek once in a while and he just doesn’t.
Pulling the hair away, you’ll find the hot spot. It looks like red, irritated skin. I’ve read that they can even bleed and start to smell if they approach the level of an open wound and remain untreated for a period of time. Luckily we caught this in plenty of time. Anyone that pays half an ounce of attention to their dog should never let it get to the point where they are bleeding.
First you want to trim some of the hair around the area to help prevent infection, keep it clean and to promote air flow to the area. I did a lot of reading online, and many just want to use antibiotics for everything. We don’t. I believe we would if the situation was serious enough with a risk of infection, but we weren’t to that point yet. I found a number of remedies after doing some searching online that seemed to work very well. I tried using witch hazel and also Gold Bond powder.
Witch hazel extract is a cheap anti-itch solution that you could find in any drug store. It comes in a clear plastic bottle that is shaped like the hydrogen peroxide bottles. Dab it on the area three or four times daily with a cotton ball until it begins to look better. If you opt for the Gold Bond powder, just dust it onto the area. After a few days of treatments, Cowboy cleared right up.
I was planning on writing this article as soon as I diagnosed and started the treatments, but I wanted to make sure I actually succeeded first. Cowboy has been back to normal for more than a week now. I checked the spot last night, and it looks like a light scabbing over the area. He never seems bothered by it anymore. He’s back to living the relaxing life of a normal dog again.
Posted in Animal Husbandry
Tagged dogs, English Shepherd, Gold Bond, herding dogs, hot spot remedy, natural hot spot remedy, natural hot spot remedy for dogs, natural vet care, treating hot spots in dogs, witch hazel for hot spots, working dogs
Cowboy is still just a puppy at ten months old. English Shepherds in general are active dogs, so the need to exercise will always exist with Cowboy. We feel bad that we don’t do this every single day, because that is what he deserves, but we take him out as often as we can. I should clarify – Courtney takes our son and Cowboy out for a walk everyday. Cowboy is always on his leash, though. It is only a few times a week that we go on longer walks in the late afternoon or weekend when Cowboy is able to run free.
Here are a few pictures of Cowboy running free yesterday. We go to a field that is close to our house and must be 40 or 50 acres. Here he is chasing a rabbit into the thicket.
Chasing something else. Probably just some sort of bug.
Exploring the brush. And wouldn’t you know… I just gave him a shower last night!
Popping up to say hello.
So many things to sniff.
Did someone say “Free Salad Bar” or am I hearing things?
Being next to a golf course means we can chase those pesky golf carts on the other side of the fence!
Gotta catch a breather every once in a while.
Maybe even sit down and take a break.
And now back to get a drink of water.