Like many others, if the dogs (or I, for that matter) have a health issue, I Google it. While Google is definitely no substitute for seeing the appropriate professional, be it vet or doctor, it helps to get an idea what the problem is, and you can find some really useful background information. So, when the she-wolf recently had an issue with an inflamed anal gland, before we visited the vet, I checked it out online. It's common; if you're a dog owner, you may have come across the issue yourself. 
If not, and you're looking for information, a word of caution: Be very careful about using the aforementioned "a" word and the word "dirty" in the same Google search. You might think you're okay if you've got the word "dog" in there as well ... think again. Keep it very technical people, and you'll find the information you're looking for. When it comes to the practicalities though, a vet's instructions win hands-down over You Tube every time on this one!
Helpful links:
http://www.dfordog.co.uk/didyouknow_anal_glands.htm
The diagram vet showed me: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/anatomy/dog_digest.aspx#large intestine
 
 
The dog has discovered asparagus. Not a wise move on his part, as it’s the other half’s favourite vegetable, and pretty high up on my popularity list as well.
 I first noticed him nosing around the asparagus bed after I’d been cutting spears, but didn’t think too much of it. The bed is mulched with straw, and he likes to have a bit of a sniff and scratch in the orchard mulch, fantasising that he’ll come across a rat.
 As I was at the other end of the lawn and otherwise occupied, his telling off for being on the garden consisted of an “Oi!” That was enough to drag him away, although he was obviously reluctant.
 Sunday afternoon my arms are usually laden when I come into the house into the house and last weekend was no exception. A basket full of washing with a handful of asparagus spears on top got left on the back step in favour of taking eggs inside, my reasoning being that eggs at sniff level might just prove too much of a temptation for the dog and she-wolf.
 Both dogs were still outside. Half an hour later, on my way outdoors to retrieve the washing, I noticed the dog snuffling behind the basket with a shifty expression. He dropped what he was doing and scuttled off when he saw me, which raised my suspicions sky high.
 Sure enough, the healthy handful of spears that were in the basket had been reduced to one fat juicy asparagus head.
 Later, when I checked the asparagus patch, I was glad I’d insisted earlier that he leave what I thought was a rat hunt, as I noted the one spear that had had its head neatly severed.
 He hasn’t tried it again, although I’ve noticed he’s become very interested in any baskets of clean washing I leave lying around.
  
 
 
Finding two German shepherds humping in your kitchen before 7am is a little disturbing, even when they’re your German shepherds. Yep, the she-wolf is on heat again. As a friend with a neutered male like our boy and an entire female said to us, at least it’s harmless. He’s happily getting some exercise (and yes, it does wear him out) and oblivious to the fact that there’s a little more to the act that the bit he’s doing, and she doesn’t go strolling the streets looking for boyfriends, because she’s got what she belives to be a perfectly serviceable one, so to speak, in her own pack. That’s fine. Outdoors. Like I said, before 7am in my kitchen, it’s a little disturbing.

 
 
The she-wolf has decided she’s an inside dog. They’ve always been allowed inside when we’re indoors, but we have definite rules about dogs hanging out in the dog run when we’re out. They also sleep outside at night, unless the weather’s really vile, when I’ll take pity on them.
This is a bit different though. Usually, before I leave for work, mere mention of the word “outside” is a signal for a scramble to be first one lined up at the door. This last week, however, the she-wolf lifts her head, gives me a “do I have to,” look, then burrows back down into her beanbag. When a direct command didn’t work one morning, I pulled out the lead. While enforcing a command by picking up the animal in question and plonking it outside might work with a small dog, it’s not really an option with a German shepherd. You have to make them understand there is no choice but to do what you say, and let them believe that that’s what they really wanted to do anyway.
Even with the lead on the she-wolf gave a couple of half-hearted twitches, explaining to me that she temporarily seemed to have lost the use of her legs, and that she really should stay inside and guard the house while I was gone. Might have had me worried, but five minutes prior those same legs had no problem charging from one end of the house to the other to check out a cyclist passing the front gate.
I resorted to a Look – the toe-curling alpha bitch look that makes the dog go huddle up in a corner rather than beg for my table scraps. It worked, but only because it was combined with a sharp command, a twitch on the lead and the merest sniff of the treat she’d get for heading outdoors. Even the treat hadn’t been enough on its own. By this time, the dog was out in his kennel, tutting and rolling his eyes as we progressed erratically towards him. Pauses to lock a shed and the garage, and to grab some chook food, prompted u-turning canine moves and suggestions that she’d perhaps been outside long enough, and wouldn’t I really like to take her back inside now please.
 
 
We’ve just finished bottling this year’s wine, much to the dog’s relief. It’s a process drawn out over a few months from the initial crushing and several rackings to the final bottling, and not one the dog’s very keen on. I’m sure he has puppyhood memories of happily poking his nose into everything his humans were doing, and then suddenly being banished outdoors, or parked on a blanket and told to lie and stay. These days once he gets the telltale sniff of grapes, and after the obligatory attempt to eat any that have fallen on the ground – for which he gets short shrift, grapes being toxic to dogs – he does the canine equivalent of rolling his eyes, parks himself on the nearest sunny spot and dozes through the proceedings.
It’s not just that I’d rather not have him slobbering all over my future wine; it’s also that dog hair seems to have an intelligence all of its own and, once removed from its owner, will find its way into the most inaccessible and unlikely spots, seemingly effortlessly. I’m sure other dog owners will relate to my frequent bemusement at finding dog hair smirking up at me from places their dogs have never been.
German shepherds have a rather large surface area crammed full of hair, and no matter how regularly you brush them, seem to be able to dislodge a cloud of the aforementioned intelligent hair at will. And while there are a lot of unlikely sounding tastes mentioned on posh wine bottles that I’m sure don’t actually mean those substances are in the wine (tobacco-y for example, gives me visions of someone dropping cigarette butts into the brew at some stage) I’ve never ever seen dog hair mentioned as a discernable flavour, let alone as an ingredient.
 
 
Dogs don’t like being pushed, as I discovered when the dog started lifting his leg on my plants, back when he was a teenager. Whenever I saw him doing it, all the “nos” and disapproving noises in the world didn’t have much effect, so I started strolling casually up to him and giving him a gentle push to put him off balance. These days, whenever I see him eyeing a new area speculatively and shuffling into position, I know exactly what to do. After a few such incidences, he decides it’s best to go pee in his own patch, and leave mine alone.
 
 
While German shepherds are quite an intelligent breed of dog, they do have some noticeable blind spots, as the dog recently proved. Sound asleep on the floor beside me, a muzzle lifted, sniffed and was propelled forward by a suddenly very awake dog. While I could be forgiven for looking around for the packet of dog treats my mother had brought over earlier, and perhaps left within the sniff zone, I soon realised the object of his interest was actually a plastic bag containing a block of soap, scented with rather girly essential oil smells, that I’d just put down on the coffee table. Soap, the dog assured me, his nose deep in the bag as his teeth delicately attempted his own special version of shoplifting, is definitely in the canine food chain.
Somewhat skeptical, I enquired as to whether soap came before or after rocks and plastic meat trays on a scale of desirability. While he was thinking about this, I quietly removed the soap, storing it in a cupboard he hasn’t learned to open yet.
 
 
Okay, I get dog jackets – if you’ve got a dog that feels the cold, there’s a certain practicality in them. And while my dad might roll his eyes, a pair of Dog-e-Style Bitches Britches comes in really handy when the she-wolf is indoors and on heat for, let’s face it, what can be a bit of a messy business.
What I don’t get (much to my dogs’ relief, I’m sure) is why there is any reason at all to put your dog in a frilly dress. How do I know such things even exist? While hunting for a pair of the aforementioned Bitches Britches a while ago, I entered the term dog apparel into TradeMe. The results gave me quite a scare. Who even knew dog dresses existed? And what on earth is their purpose?
I very much doubt I’m ever going to see a dog throwing a tantrum because they don’t have the latest summer frock. If I did, once I’d picked myself up from the floor where I’d fallen in shock, I’d still be struggling to comprehend two things – firstly, that the dog in question is more eloquent than Mr Ed, which could possible be part of why, secondly, the dog has more issues than a newspaper.
It’s not just any old dresses you can buy for Poopsie and Schnookums though - you can even buy your dog a WEDDING DRESS! Now that just opens up a whole new can of dog tucker for dissection but back to the original topic of clothing … why would anyone put their dog in a fancy dress bumble bee costume, or parade her round in a little ladybird suit? Aside from the health issues of overheating and hygiene, dogs come pre-packaged with their own gorgeous coats; when did the good old dog hair they’re born with become so uncool?
 
 
For those of you why may think that because I write about my dogs, they’re perfect angels, behaviour-wise, I have just two words: Backyard Champion. If you don’t know the phrase, then congratulations; your dog must be amazing. I’ll bring mine round for lessons.
I recently took the she-wolf to the vet for her annual vaccinations. She’s not a great fan of strangers, the she-wolf, unless they’re visiting her at home, then she’s extremely welcoming, after the initial noisy greetings – mainly because the dog loves visitors and she wants her share of their affection.
Visiting the vet is another kind of situation altogether, in the she-wolf’s eyes. As the vet I saw said to me, personally, she’s not that keen on visiting the dentist. I see her point. In fact, if I happened to belong to a species that communicated with physical action and found grabbing things with their mouth (possibly with a little use of teeth) a socially acceptable way to express disapproval, there may just be an insensitive dentist or two in my past nursing a sore hand.
I’ve found it’s worthwhile taking the time to talk to your vet practice about your little darling’s – ahem – foibles, especially when aforementioned little darling weighs about 37kg and knows that raising her hackle makes her look larger still.
The she-wolf’s two most recent visits to the vet had been a bit hectic for her – once, because she’d sliced open a paw and was feeling a bit revved up about it, and the next time because I’m sure the dog had been feeding her tall tales about what goes on behind closed doors in That Place. I guess he has his reasons. Once upon a time I took him on a day visit and he came home feeling rather woozy and minus his wedding tackle.
So this time we made sure things were different. While the she-wolf went into the surgery convinced the scary vet-person was going to do dire things to her, she came out a little bit bemused, and not really aware she’d just had two vaccinations, but well impressed with herself for making a new friend who had a bountiful supply of liver treats and was more than happy to share them with a dog who was prepared to be friendly.
A patient vet can go a long way towards helping a dog overcome their nervousness.
 
 
Note to self: When the car you’re travelling in pulls into your driveway, check the identity of the person chopping wood before barking; woofing at the alpha male human like he’s a dirty scumbag intruder is very embarrassing.
 

    A word from the Alpha Bitch

    Okay, I admit it – while I might scoff at dog owners who treat their Poopsies or Schnookums like babies, my dogs also think my name is Mum. I’d like to believe, however, that my dogs also know me as The Alpha Bitch, more commonly known in canine as “the bitch who must be obeyed, dogdammit!” - The AB

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