Today I received postcards from Chicago, Finland, Taiwan & Japan, and I have to say I loved the postage stamps on them. The UK postal system is crap, we do have picture stamps, but try and get them and most post offices have limited supply or, at it would seem most of the time, none at all, so we have to stick to the crappy one colour picture of the Queen. Not that I have a problem with her majesty, but our banknotes, coins and stamps all have the same picture on them. Don’t get me wrong, we do have picture stamps at regular intervals, but not all denominations, usually first and second class and the odd another one. I just wish we were like other countries and had all these fancy ones all the time, it would make sending post to others via letter and postcards more of a pleasure. Below is a card I received from Japan today, take a look at all the fab stamps on it.
Sitting at my desk, the lighting is low, not by my doing. The weather, although we were promised temperatures higher than Spain, has not stopped raining, so much so the roads were flooded in many places.
Well, I ought to leave but the rain it never stops, and I’ve no particular place to go.
Earlier I needed to go out and get the dogs a 15kg bag of dried food that I give them with the cooked stuff I make them. I also wanted to go to my favourite northern supermarket Booths. Now, from where we live to the supermarket is a 20 miles round trip, There is another Booths, but that is a 30-mile round trip, so all in all, it is quite a distance. Not that I mine, when getting my unpasteurised milk, I have to drive 26 miles, but I am a bit of what we call in the UK, a petrol head.
My plans for the morning was to go to the dump/tip and get rid of some of the accumulated crap from the garden, and the old gas barbeque. Take the dogs for a walk, then off to Booths and the pet warehouse. Build the new barbeque, and give it a test run, because this is the law in the barbeque world, also on Thursday I could smell someone barbequing so that really got my juices flowing. The other plans were to plant some more clematis and other climbers. Of course, then to sit in the garden and enjoy this. But this was not to be. When letting the dogs out this morning at 7am I thought it was quite mild, I did not have a stitch on I do admit, but then, my garden is totally private and not overlooked, and I did have some hope for the day, however, as I pottered out there I could feel the spits of rain and knew that it was all about to change.
I decided to treat myself to a leather tape measure. I have to admit, it is beautifully made, and the smell of leather is divine. I had seen it on the wrist of a fellow knitter on Instagram and decided I just had to have one. Along with the soggy post it was in the mail this morning, wrapped and sealed from China. How many times have we all been there looking for a measuring tape, well now I have one to hand, pardon the pun.
So with the rain still battering the windows, I think I will watch a film and do some knitting, and of course, keep dry.
I was talking to the trainer last week regarding the food that I make for the dogs, including the biscuits, and she said that she used to do that but after a few weeks gave it up as she didn’t have time to do it. This I found odd. I prep the veg, usually carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans and broccoli and shove it all into the electric pressure cooker, and press steam. That’s it! Not hard or time-consuming at all, it takes all of 5 minutes to prep and the cooker does the rest in 5 minutes. The only thing that takes more time is cooking the meats. I usually make them lambs liver, kidney and hearts, turkey, chicken, pork, but even that does not take much time. I usually just put some olive oil in a large pan, and lightly fry the liver and kidney for about 10 minutes. The liver I cook as it comes, which is usually slices, which breaks up in the pan, but the kidneys are whole, so I slice them before cooking. So about 10 minutes whilst the veg is cooking and cooking. The whole lot get decanted into dishes and popped into the fridge. I timed it today and it took less than 30 minutes, and that is done every two or three days. I also do rice in the pressure cooker all of 3 minutes and that too goes into a container in the fridge. In a week I would spend about an hour to an hour and a half each week to cook everything for them, which in my mind is not that long at all.
The biscuits obviously take longer but when it is raining like today, there is nowhere to go, and so I may as well make a batch for them and put them in an airtight container.
Last week I decided to do the kidneys in their own doggie gravy and added some garlic granules, this went down very well.
One thing I have to keep in mind is that balance is the main thing.
High-quality protein (meat, seafood, dairy or eggs)
Fat (meat or oil)
Carbohydrates (grains or vegetables)
Essential fatty acids (egg yolks or oatmeal)
I also give the dogs boiled eggs and add pure salmon oil to their meals, and of course, they get dog vitamins. All in all, I think they have a healthy intake of food, and I enjoy making them lovely foods.
Yes, Mazikeen passed her Puppy Foundation exams. I thought, if I am honest, that we would not pass as she can be a little distracted, which is due to her breed being super alert and watching for everything.
I had to prove that I could give both verbal and non-verbal commands, some and that she could understand and follow them. As well as this I had to show I could inspect my dog and check everything with her cooperation throughout.
The first test was recalling her with one word only, and when she got to me to sit and wait for her reward. The second recall was like the last, but this time, littered between her and me were balls, toys, snacks and bowls of food, so lots of distraction. The time came, and with one word she recalled straight back to me ignoring all the distractions that she passed and sat in front of me waiting for her reward. As she did the best recall sets she was given a prize, which was lovely dried fish blocks.
Next up was for her to sit and stay for 10 seconds with only one command, and me to walk away. Obediently she sat, and I walked backwards away from her, all the time keeping eye contact, and mentally telling her to stay. After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting I was allowed to call her, so rather than saying anything, I nodded to her and she ran over and received her reward.
The next test was one of the hardest, which was walking on loose-lead walking. Now, if you are a dog family, you will know that dogs just want to pull and explore quite literally everywhere and be about 30 foot in front of us. Mazikeen, being a springer with boundless energy just wants to be running all the time, and so quite a lot of times will be pulling that much, she will be walking, or hopping should I say, on her back legs as the harness stops her getting any further. The day before Maz and I went off to a quiet field with no distractions to train as I was determined to get her walking with me. The only way I could do this was to drop pieces of smelly treats in front of her so that she walked with me, this worked for a bit, but then a bird would pass or a tree would creak in the wind and off she went back up on two legs (Darwin would have been proud). After 30 minutes solid, she finally seemed to grasp what I wanted her to do. Before we went into the training hall I practised outside too with her for another half hour. Our time came and we had to start at one cone, she had to sit, then we walked at a leisurely pace to a cone at the other end of the hall, she had to sit, then we walked back to the first cone. However, Maz decided that for this she would go deaf at the cones, and just did not want to sit. I got quite frustrated and thought that this was her and me failing. She finally sat, and when we went to walk she seemed to be okay, with the odd moment of wanting to dash off, as there were dogs either side of the hall, and two in particular (brothers) were making that much noise it distracted me, nevermind Maz. The instructor told me to do it again and told the old man and woman to control their dogs. This was our last time. Before we set off, the instructor told us that apart from the distractions some of our loose-lead walking was “beautiful”. We had to shine and do this, this was my nemesis and I wanted us to beat it. GO! She sat, I nodded, we walked, she was focused on me all the way, she sat on command, I nodded, then we returned back to the first cone, and she sat again without needing command. Success!
Finally, I had to do the full dog inspection, and it was done.
So, what now? I hear you ask. Well, I have enrolled us in the intermediate training course, which when we have passed that advanced, then finally agility, and with a bit of luck competitions.
Here the biscuits that I said I would be making in a previous post. Needless to say, the dogs love them. So, if you want to make your dogs some, here is the recipe I used.
180ml Chicken Stock (Cold)
120ml Light Olive Oil
300g Wholemeal Organic Flour
90g Skimmed Milk Powder
25g Light Brown Cane Sugar
1 Egg whisked
Add all the dried ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the middle and add the egg, oil and stock and mix to form a dough.
Need for a minute or two until it is the texture of pastry, and roll out until it is about half an inch (13mm or about 1.5cm).
Grab your cookie cutter and get to work cutting, placing each of the shapes onto a floured baking tray.
Pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes at fan 130, conventional 150c/300f or gas 2. Let them cook and then treat your best friends to some delicious biscuits.
You do not have to use chicken stock, you could use beef, pork or lamb. I would avoid vegetable stock though as it would be a little bland for them.
The next ones I make I will be adding parmesan to the dried mix, and maybe a teaspoon of garlic granules.
As well as making the dogs their biscuits, I also made them lambs liver and made a doggy gravy, however, I cheated with the gravy as I can buy dog gravy granules, so after frying the liver, I removed it and chopped it all up into chunks, added about 350ml water to the pan, stirred it to get all the meaty bits stock to the bottom of the pan then added the granules, then put the liver back in to the pan to get a thorough dowsing of the gravy, then decanted it all into a dish and popped it onto the fridge to cool down. I served this with carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, and a hand full of cooked rice as I still had some in the fridge. Again everything was eaten in record time, so they obviously loved it.