Monday, May 24, 2010

My new pony

I will post the full story soon, but because I am so anxious to share, here are photos of my newest family member, currently named Rod Stewart. He needs a "My Little Pony" type of name! He is a stallion, and his stallion buddy is Ziggy Marley (the black stallion shown here too). They were part of a herd rescued from severe neglect and they are very thin, and won't be stallions for long!

Read the full story here:
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Things Labs eat

Like many familiar sayings, “The dog ate my homework” is probably based on a true story. And the dog was most likely a Lab. Besides food, a typical Labrador will eat everything from socks to rocks. They should all be named Mikey (flashback to famous TV commercial).

My Lab, Tank, would eat absolutely anything. A Great Pyrennes foster dog dumped his kibble on our gravel walkway and pushed it around rather than eat. Tank found it and ate the dog food and the surrounding rocks without pausing. The next morning I woke up to the sound of an urping Lab on the floor next to the bed. He heaved piles of gravel and undigested kibble.

An x-ray at the vet’s office revealed Tank had a trail of gravel from his mouth to his rectum; there was no way the doctor could remove the rocks through surgery. It took almost a week for all the rocks to pass through his system.

Another time Tank ate a tube of cortisone cream that was left on the coffee table. By the time I caught him, all that remained was the metal band around the plastic lid. I made him throw it up.

Our neighbor liked to free-feed his Norwegian Elkhounds, and since we lived out in the woods, no one had a fenced yard. Tank went over there one day and came home looking like the Goodyear blimp. The neighbor confirmed all the dog food was gone—about 8 pounds. So again I made Tank throw up (small amount of hydrogen peroxide). I had to run around cleaning up the food as it came up so he wouldn’t just re-eat it. 

To Bee or not to Bee
What brought all this to mind is a story this week here in San Diego about a Lab named Ellie who ate several hundred dead bees. Here’s the story from the Veterinary Pet Insurance web site:

I guess their point is that you need vet insurance for your dog. In March 2005 they posted another Labrador winner. This dog ate 23 packages of instant breakfast, complete with the packaging:

Labs that stay with me have devoured stuffed animals and the squeakies within, wooden branches, dog beds and rosebushes. I once had a foster dog, Neptune, who pooped navy blue blanket pieces for about a week after I took him out of the shelter.

Though not a Lab, my friend Lynn tells me of a German Shepherd that ate a light bulb. The owner fed the dog bread everyday for a week to ease the glass through the dog’s system. 
So what has your dog eaten?

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words: a new pet portrait by Terry Albert

This week I finished a new pet portrait of Maddie and Butch, owned by my friends John and Janet. Over 10 years ago I did a painting of their first two labs, Sarah and Jack, and the two portraits will hang together in their home.

We volunteered together at Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue, and Janet was always taking in mixed breeds, a crime I was also guilty of. So all of these lovely un-Labradors are dogs that they adopted over the years.

I’ll let John tell the story of their beloved dogs:
Sarah, on the left, came to us in 1996 via the Huntington Beach animal shelter. We have no idea of her background, but soon were introduced to her ability to spontaneously urinate when happy. We managed this through out her life with us. She was 2 when found and lived for another 14+ years. We got Sarah to be Jack's buddy.
Jack, on the right, was about 6 in 1995 when we rescued him from the same shelter in H.B. He was found tied to a tree in a Westminster, CA park without food or water. He'd been there for a couple of days before someone finally called on him.  Later, the guy who abandoned him was identified and arrested for heroin influence. Jack was love at first sight.  He became the namesake for our sailboat, Jack's Place. However, he never adjusted to being on the water.
The second generation
Maddie is now around 11 or 12 and was trapped in an open field in Riverside County by an animal rescue group. She was about 5 then. She'd been under observation for several months as running wild after having a litter of 9 pups. She was very skittish and fearful, especially of men. Once trapped, she was kenneled for nearly a year when found by Janet's All Retriever Rescue Foundation, (a group I, Terry, especially like because they don’t limit themselves to purebreds). Maddie was later adopted by one of the volunteers but had to be re-located because she was a chronic fence jumper. We brought her home after I increased the height of the backyard fence. It took about three weeks to get her comfortable with being around her new family.  
I saw a lot of potential in Maddie, so we decided to send her off for some professional training. We found a training place in Corona ( and after 7 weeks, Maddie was a new pooch. They turned her into a push-button companion, although, still skittish.  
Maddie enjoys life best when in our company. She thrived on the water and was later designated "B.D."; short for Boat Dog. Maddie is mostly chow with a little lab added for pleasure.
Finally, Butch is now about 17. Janet's sister works for L.A.P.D. and arrested Butch's owner for heroin influence. He no longer wanted his dog, so she called Janet to see if we would take him. We did and Butch has proven himself an incredible member of our family. A vet found that Butch had been hit by a car. His left hip was broken and allowed to heal without being treated by a vet. We had surgery done to correct some of the side-affects, but he never was fully functional. Butch is a lab/dalmatian mix.

A great Butch story happened one night around 10:00. Janet heard the back sliding glass door open and thought it was our daughter Andrea coming home from the neighbor's. Janet yelled out if that was her and Andrea replied she was in her room. Simultaneously, Butch began growling and ran down the hallway.  
Apparently, some guy was watching Andrea through her window and came in to the house to do bad things. Butch nailed him while crashing in to some patio furniture. The suspect was last seen vaulting our rear fence. Butch came back inside with his smile beaming, just like you captured in his portrait, Terry.
I'll tell ya, Terry, writing about these wonderful dogs brings forth a lot of emotion. They have been incredible.

There’s not much I can add to that. I’m honored I got to paint pictures of such special dogs. Now that you've read about the dogs, read about the painting on the Canine Art Guild blog.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Unusual dog coat colors

I was watching a pair of dogs play in the yard this morning, and marveled at their unusual colors. I thought I'd share them with you, and if you aren't familiar with coat colors, show you merle and brindle coloring. Willow on the left is an unusual merle color (diluted?), and Max, on the right, is a brindle. The brindle is brown with black stripes, while the merle is a combination of spots and patches.
It took there two almost 48 hours before they got used to each other and started playing. It was quite a relief when they decided to be friends!

The grey collie at left, Auggie, is a blue merle. And the Australian Shepherd is a red merle. The amount of merling can vary wildly. There can be just a little while the rest of the dog is a solid color (see Stormy, the black collie photo), or the merling can appear all over the body as in the red dog. A dog like Stormy is often referred to as a "cryptic merle."

Two dogs with the merle gene should never be bred to each other. Their pups may be deaf or blind or both. These pups often have white covering the ears or eye that is blind. Although a mostly white merle dog is beautiful, it could be severley handicapped. You will see white collies in the show ring, but they almost always have color covering their eyes and ears, and they are referred to as "color-headed white." See the photo of Tulip at left. She is a sable-headed white.

You will see the merle colors in many herding breeds, such as Collies, Shelties, Corgis, Australian Shepherds and border collies (no they are not all black and white!).

Brindle dogs are often Boxers, Pit Bulls, Bull Terriers, Mastiffs, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs.Max, the brindle dog at the top of the page, is a mixed breed, and we'll never know where his brindle color came from.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

'Tis the season for foxtails...again

It is a year since I posted my article about foxtails, and that season has just rolled around again. Last year's post has a new comment, so I am glad people are still reading it. In case you missed it, here is the link:

Some people go out and pick flowers in the spring. I sit in the back yard and pick foxtails. They are so hard to find once they get on your dog, and you may not know there's even one on him until he has a bad infection from one. I'd rather pick them out of the grass than from between my dog's toes or out of his ears.

And mowing the grass isn't enough. Unless you rake it up, you are left with a bunch of dead foxtails that are even more likely to get stuck in your dog's coat. 

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.