Great Dane Gardening: Strawberry Patch

Look what I get for lunch today:

I went out to check to see if they needed water and my one strawberry from yesterday turned into an entire bowl today. Woot!!

I guess I owe Bixby an apology. Clearly every strawberry patch needs a Great Dane to tend to it – dig in it, sleep in it, snuffle around in it. Bixby:1 Me:0



 

Bella and George: A Love Story

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Bella and her service dog George.

About twenty years ago, I started to hear about rescued Great Danes being used as service dogs for people with mobility and balance issues. It made perfect sense to me, my Danes were always strong, sturdy and mellow. An adult leaning their weight on them is no big deal. A few years ago, I learned about the Service Dog Project in Massachusetts, which breeds Danes especially for service. And now because of Bella and George, everyone is learning about them. Their story is inspiring and for this Great Dane lover, it tugs on the heartstrings.

Here’s an article on how the Great Dane Service Dog Project came into being and more about Bella and George. An excerpt:

Meeting new people was a skill Bella had not yet acquired.  She has been disabled and different since she was 2 ½.   Sadly, the general public doesn’t know how to react to a little girl bound to a wheelchair.  Many avoid eye contact and limit interactions, which leads disabled people to feel isolated.   It’s not that people don’t care or feel empathetic, they just don’t know how to care and don’t know what to say.  George helps people know what to say; mostly they say “Beautiful Dog” followed by humor “You should just ride that dog!” to which Bella usually replies “Sometime I do!” And instead of a random stranger feeling heavy-hearted as they pass a disabled child in a wheelchair, and Bella feeling isolated; both smile and usually George gets a pat from a complete stranger. 

George makes life better for Bella and anyone he meets along the way.

And one more video, because I cannot get enough of Bella, she is a terrific person:

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Bixby Diaries: Chillin’ an Relaxin’

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I looked up from desk today to see the Beast chillin’. That’s fine little one, you just relax while I put in a few more hours to pay for your dog food.

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Just a quick update. Bixby hurt his leg last week. I’m assuming from jumping off the couch or bed. How a 140 lb dog can get so much air boggles my mind. But he can leap twice his height from a standing position. I’ve cut down on walks until it feels better. He put more weight on it today, so probably by the end of this week we’ll back to our regular routine.

I special ordered him a 32-inch collar because nothing else fits well. Also a new harness and leash. The leash has a padded handle which came highly recommended for big dogs.

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He turns 11-months old this weekend. I have his “surgery” schedule for the first week of June. I would have waited longer, but he’s not handling the testosterone well – nothing aggressive – but he is an alpha dog already and add those hormones and it does create some issues. For his bones and muscles a little longer would have been better, but for his emotional success, now is the time. I probably don’t have to tell you that after what happened to Missy, I’m more than a little anxious about this. It will be a long day.

Yesterday, he was literally in the dog house (his crate) after dragging me across the yard to see the Great Dane next door. He knows dragging is a no-no. I was working at my desk and every once in a while I’d hear this big SIGH and then he’d blow air out his big jowls – his version of pouting. I love this dog. Can’t believe he’ll be a year old soon.

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Bixby Diaries: Squirrels are Evil

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And robins are suspect, too. Hi! I’m almost 10 1/2 months old and life is a blast. Well, except for the squirrels. I’m up to 135 lbs and tower over my person when I stand on my back legs and hug her. We’ve been having some adventures. My person is looking for a new house and when she finds one she likes, we walk around the neighborhood and meet people. It’s always fun.

I’ve been doing pretty good at meeting people, lately, too. We went for a long walk the other day and my person let me meet everyone who wanted to pet me. I love to meet new people, but a lot of the time, my person would make me sit and hold while they walked on by. Now I don’t pull or jump at them, so I get a lot more pets. And people always say how handsome I am.

TaMara’s note: A month makes a huge difference. I’d say about 90 percent of the time he is on his best behavior with people, so I’m much more relaxed about letting them approach him and pet him. He still has moments, but I’m good at anticipating it and heading off interactions. Which is good, because everyone wants to say hi.

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Now about those squirrels. They are evil. They sit on the trunks of the trees on my walks, right at eye level and tease and taunt me. Sometimes I just can’t help myself I have to try and get them. That gets me in trouble, because I’m not suppose to pull my person halfway across the street. But. I. Hate. Them. And robins, oh they are just so, robin-y. I don’t like them either. But I saw my very first Great Blue Heron, flying above us and it was soooo cool I had to stop and watch until it landed in a tree. Then we saw an Osprey catch a fish. Dove in the water, pulled it out. I was so excited I almost ran right into the pond myself.

TaMara’s note: Yeah, don’t know what it is about the robins. He’s great with the Canada geese on our walks, so good in fact, they cross the path right in front of him, much to his delight. And ducks and chickens are all on his list of friends. But robins…not so much. He really does like those big birds, though.

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I had a play date today with my best bud Kodiak. It is sooo much fun to run around with someone who is okay with rough housing. It’s hard being the biggest boy on the block (ok, not really, because my next door neighbor is a big black and white Mantle Dane, but he’s older and not big on rough housing). It’s good to be able to play the way I want and not get in trouble.

One last thing, a few weeks ago, one of my litter mates, Missy, left us. She was a kitty, but I still thought of her as one of mine. I miss her and still look for her under the table on her chair. My person was so sad, I tried everything to make her smile. I’d lay under her desk and put my head on her foot. Then I’d roll over, paws up until she smiled. Finally, I had to do something drastic, so I climbed up on the couch next to her desk and put my head next to her computer and turned upside-down till she laughed. That felt good. Then she told me I had to be nice to Jake because Missy was his mama and he missed her. So I’ve done my best to be friends with Jake, even though I’m kind of jealous of him. But I think it makes him feel better and I know it makes my person feel better.

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My person bought me a new food dish today and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m pretty hungry after my big day. So I’m off to eat. Hope you got some good stuff in your food dishes today, too. – Bixby

TaMara’s note: Had some issues with his plastic food toys, so I’m trying something new. Have I mentioned how much I adore this pup? He’s growing up into such a great, sweet dog. It’s hard work most days, but I think it’s worth it.

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Feeding Bixby

(There will be a flurry of posts…been busy all week and slowly I would write up stuff, but it wasn’t until today that I had photos to go with them….)

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Bixby is fed with food puzzles. I use four different toys to give him variety. The problem I’m having is two-fold, one is he’s strong enough to damage the plastic and the plastic is causing him facial issues, including breakouts and scrapes. He was starting to look like Emma was abusing him daily.

I was trying to think what I could do to fix this. I really like idea of meal time taking him a half hour to eat and that he has to work for it.  So I wandered around the farm store

This is what I came up with, so far, it’s working well.

New food dish

He rolls it around and the food falls out fast enough so he doesn’t get discouraged, but still slow enough that it’s a challenge. I thought it was a pretty clever solution. I’ll probably still use the green plate (top photo) and retire the two rolling balls. I also have a 3 QT pitcher that works well. That should be enough to keep him interested.

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