Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter at Hundenruhe

It's a lovely crisp and cold morning at Hundenruhe Haven. Rays of sun are bouncing off of the mounds of snow and making the fields glitter and wink. It is so nice to see the sun again, and to have the robin's-egg-blue sky add some needed color to the landscape.
The temperature is rather cold again (single digits), but it is warm inside thanks to the new furnace and the radiant heater that the dogs love so dearly. Yesterday was a frenzy of cleaning and laundry (9 loads of dog laundry this week - a new record!). I clean every week, but every few weeks every dog bed's cover gets washed and major scrubbing of baseboards, etc. gets done. It had also snowed, so yesterday's chores also included digging out the walks, patios, porches, and the concrete steps leading up the hill to the house. It was a long and productive day, ending with the last load of laundry at about 9:00 pm.
Today is our day for peace and quiet. As I write, the dogs are all hanging out on their nice clean beds, having had their breakfasts and trips outdoors early this morning. Dan and I were up very early so Dan could get on the road. He is traveling to Minnesota today to pick up Tic Tac, a 12 year old blind miniature pinscher from a hoarding situation. She was surrendered along with 70 other dogs in December to a humane society in Minnesota. Min Pin Rescue contacted us and asked if we could take Tic Tac, as all but six had been adopted, taken into rescue, or euthanized. Amazingly, in only one month's time, the shelter had adopted out 39 dogs, sent the rest to rescues, and only had to euthanize six, and had only six left to go to rescues! What a fantastic coordinated effort! Kudos to whoever facilitated this at the MN shelter, and the rescues who stepped up to make it happen.
So, I am on my own today with the dogs and I am enjoying it thus far. I've had a lovely pot of tea, and since the major chores are done, I think I may settle in with the dogs for an afternoon of watching The Tudors. The forecast is for a major snow storm for the lakeshore communities (where I teach), so it looks like driving may be difficult for the next two days getting to and from school. So those patios, walks, porches, and steps are going to need to be dug out again soon! I am going to enjoy every minute of not having to go anywhere today as I await Tic Tac's arrival late this afternoon or early this evening. Unless she answers to her name, it will be changed in the coming weeks as we discover her personality. Stay tuned to find out what the new name will be!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Feeding the Herd

I have been asked about how we manage getting everyone fed. Feeding the dogs twice a day can be time-consuming, but we have become pretty efficient. During the school year, Dan takes care of the morning feeding, and I feed in the evening. It is important that everyone gets the right food, in the right amount, and has the time and peace to eat it without intimidation. So almost everyone is fed in a dog crate, except for Grandma Esther, Grandpa Moses, Uncle Mort, and Miss Truvy. The oldies that aren't fed in a crate are separated by baby gates so they can eat in peace.
Because I really believe that good food not only makes the dogs feel and look better, but also saves on vet bills, we feed a very high quality diet. I know that I could save a lot of money by accepting food donations and mixing the dog food for the dogs, but keeping their diet consistently of high quality is important to me.We feed two different kinds of dry kibble, depending upon the dog's nutritional needs. Some of the dogs get Fromm's Gold adult food, and some get grain-free bison and potato kibble. We do have a few who, at various times, need some coaxing to eat, so we also add in shredded cheese, cooked hamburger, canned dog food, or canned prescription dog food to those who need it.
Medication is given with peanut butter and spooned into each waiting mouth. Of course, everyone wants "medicine", so everyone gets a bite of peanut butter, whether it contains meds or not! It is quite the sight to see everyone at my feet, jostling for the best position to take their medicine.
All in all, it takes about fifteen - twenty minutes to get food prepared, meds given, and everyone settled in their crates to eat. And only about 5 minutes for everyone to be done eating!
So that's how its done - Bone Appetit!


This is Moses. Some of you may have been following his journey on Facebook. Moses was rescued by Martha, his guardian angel, from a high-kill shelter in Garland, Texas. He was picked up as a stray, but at his age and in his condition, he most surely was dumped. You see, Moses is at least 17 years old, and is completely blind. He is feisty and independent, desiring no help or assistance from anyone.
Getting him here from Texas was quite an endeavor. My sister contributed credit that she had with Southwest airlines, and Dan and I picked up the rest. There have been some offers of donations to help with the fare, but we haven't gotten any so far. People have been so nice about trying to get him here - everything from a flight attendant (who tried, but couldn't make it work on such short notice), to a kind and generous group of cruisers who contacted people they knew, to Martha and Jean (who brought him to the airport to meet me), to the many, many people Moses and I met on our journey from Dallas to Kiel. He is home now, and adapting to life with the rest of the crew. It is amazing and inspirational how well he does so!
Moses and I finally rolled up to the house at about 9:00pm last night. What a long day! I was up and down in an airplane four times, and spent sixteen hours traveling! But it was all worth it. Moses slept the whole plane ride home, though he protested (loudly) when we left the airport and he felt how cold Wisconsin is! He continued to protest until the car warmed up.  I gave him some supper and put him to bed in the laundry room for the night so that he didn't have too big of an area to have to get lost in. This morning it has been fascinating to watch how a blind dog navigates new surroundings. Moses followed the walls as best he could, using his little ears as antennae to keep an even distance between him and the wall. Sometimes he bumped gently into the wall with his head, but only a couple of times. Then, when he finds himself in an open area, he turns in tight circles, ever-widening them until he touches something again. He has spent the last hour and a half walking and figuring out the area, though it is not in a panicked way - just very methodically mapping out the room. Now he walks confidently across the open areas, too. Dan just picked him up, and he is falling asleep in his arms. Welcome home, Moses.