Saturday, April 30, 2011

More on the Barnstable Dog Park

Friday, Grigri and I cleaned the lane north of the airport on Route 149 because I was curious about a site proposed for the first Barnstable Dog Park. This is a beautiful place to walk on a warm April afternoon with the sun slanting down across acres of green. It's apparently currently in use as a police dog training facility.

The lane is a sandy vehicle path like the ones we used to run around on with bare feet in the summer in our neighborhood. Sadly, now most are paved. It leads through brush to an opening at the north end of the airport where there's a remote controlled aircraft launching site, operated by a club. On Friday two guys were trying to get a rather large helicopter up but I didn't see them succeed at it. Looks like fun though.

Although I know there were objections to this site as a dog park because the lane is narrow and it would take some work to develop parking, I thought it was a fantastic place and I'll definitely be back soon to explore further. The things I like about it were that it was far from any homes so barking or traffic would not annoy anyone and there are plenty of trails nearby to work off excess energy before entering the park. Whether this site becomes a dog park or not, I'm happy to have found it. One thing about Cape Cod… there's no dearth of beautiful trails and beaches to enjoy, and Aussie Pet Mobile of Cape Cod is doing our best to keep them clean.

FYI - The Committee for Barnstable Dog Parks welcomes new members and contributors. We meet the last Thursday of the month at the Hyannis Senior Center at 6:30. Next meeting would be May 26th.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grooming Your Puppy

On the sidewalks and trails of the Cape, we're seeing lots of puppies - it's that time of year - and pleasant grooming experiences should play a role in every puppy's education.

For those breeds with high grooming requirements, introducing your puppy to grooming tools and techniques early and often is a must. You want your Poodle or Schnauzer to view grooming as pleasant and stress free because they'll spend a lot of time on a grooming table over the course of their lives; a bath and clip every four to six weeks is recommended, especially when they sport a longer coat. For short haired breeds visits to the groomer may be less frequent, but they'll still need to have their nails clipped and ears cleaned regularly and you want them to take these activities in stride. It's important to note that regular grooming gives you a good, close up look at your dog to ensure skin and coat are healthy and identify any lumps, cuts or other conditions that should be seen by a vet.

Here's our approach to getting your new "fur baby" started out on the right track:
• Gently brush often, taking care to make it something your puppy looks forward to by treating or praising
• Ask your puppy to give you each paw and wiggle her toes gently.
• If you have nail clippers and feel comfortable using them, quietly clip one or two nails at a time as needed
• Look inside your puppy's ears and softly pet them, inside and out
• Bathe your puppy with warm, but not hot, water and a gentle shampoo formulated for dogs (using a "tearless" shampoo on her face).
• Many dogs don't like standing in a bath. Try using a spray hose in a sink or bath, or take your pup into the shower with you; many seem to enjoy the company. Alternatively, use a dry shampoo.
• Get your puppy as dry as you possibly can with a towel - most dogs really enjoy this step - but also introduce a blow drier gradually on a low, warm setting. Our dog Grigri likes to sit on my lap while being blow dried.
• If you have a dog you expect to keep clipped, you can use an electric razor, beard trimmer or any kind of similar gear to get your puppy used to the noise and vibration of the motor. Don't actually clip, but turn the motor on and treat your puppy, then gently touch your puppy's back and legs, pretending to clip her, all while giving her treats and praise.
• Puppyhood is a great time to train your dog to stand still while having her nails filed with an electric tool, such as the Dremel Pet Nail Grooming Kit. Many people feel more comfortable filing nails than using a nail clipper, but dogs don't usually agree! They don't like the noise and vibration on their toes, which feels a little like having your teeth drilled at the dentist. If you can condition your puppy early you can keep her nails short and smooth easily.

If you follow these steps with a positive attitude, plenty of treats and praise and always followed by a happy play time, your puppy will take grooming as a matter of course and your investment will result in a stronger bond between you and your adult dog.

Note that all the above pertains to cats too. Contrary to conventional wisdom, cats don't really mind being bathed any more than dogs do and when they've been groomed all their lives, they are just as patient and calm.

Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod provides puppy and kitten grooms for a nominal charge ($10 and up depending upon services provided) to help you get your little one clean and prepare her gently for adult grooming sessions; we hand dry each dog or cat - no drying cages - and provide a one to one service right outside your door. A combination of your conditioning and professional puppy grooms is the best way to plan for a stress free life on the grooming table.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Woods Are Asleep

The wind was howling off the Sound this morning but in West Barnstable the warm sun made up for the wind chill and we hiked and cleaned the Otis Atwood loop off the Osteville/West Barnstable Road. The trail was much cleaner than when Grigri and I walk it in summer. Either that wicked wind blows the trash away or there are just fewer folks out and thus less litter. I have been out of town for two weeks and thought I'd be seeing some green shoots, but there were few. I'm wondering, when will we see fiddlehead ferns in the market? I checked Lamberts and Shaws on the way home but no fiddleheads yet. I found a recipe that I want to try out when they come, courtesy of The Heart of New England, an online magazine.

Makes 4 side dishes:

1 pound fiddlehead 2 tablespoons olive oil Butter (optional) 2 cloves finely chopped garlic (optional) ¼ cup pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼ inch cubes (optional) Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper Trim the dark ends from the stems and wash the fiddleheads in a coarse strainer using a strong stream of water. Place them in a large bowl of water and swirl them around, rubbing off the thin flakes of chaff on the ferns. Drain and dry in a kitchen towel, rubbing off any remaining chaff. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium – high heat. Add the bacon or pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add ferns and garlic and cook, covered, for 3 – 4 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes or until they are tender but still are slightly crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste and swirl in some butter if you wish. Serve immediately. If you make extra, they make an interesting addition to a mixed salad or soups and stews. Because they are fully cooked, add them at the last minute to hot dishes. Any way you serve them, you will be enjoying a true New England treasure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Spring! Get Ready for the Big Shed

With the warmer temperatures we're enjoying, those of us with certain breeds of dog are experiencing snowstorms inside rather than outside. Snowstorms of hair that is.

Some breeds shed very little. If you're the lucky owner of a Poodle, Bichon, Maltese, Hanavese, Basenji, Shih-Tzu, Schnauzer, or many kinds of terriers, you're not vacuuming every day and going through rolls of cellophane tape trying to get your clothes presentable. Pretty much all the rest of us are sweeping, sneezing, and bolstering the supply chain for birds feathering their nests.

There are some tips to help you through the season:

  1. Brush every day. Using a slicker brush, groom vigorously on a daily basis. Everything you collect and discard puts you ahead of the game and it's a lot easier to brush your dog or cat than it is to get that hair off the sofa.

  2. Use a de-shedding tool. You can buy products at the pet store that are effective at removing the undercoat that is typical of Labs, Huskies and many kinds of Shepherds. This undercoat is mostly what you're be trying to dig out of the crevices in your car and home if you're not proactive.

  3. Bathe thoroughly. Most dogs can tolerate a bath every month or more if you use a good quality shampoo. Oatmeal shampoo costs a little more but is gentle to your dog's skin and contributes to a lustrous and soft coat and there are specialized de-shedding products for the bath.

  4. Clip: A shorter coat means less hair to cope with and will keep your pet cooler in hot weather. A short clipped coat can feel wonderfully silky.

If you're overwhelmed, call Aussie Pet Mobile for a 15 Step Groom with De-Shedding Process. We have the time and the tools to do a really thorough job and our process reduces shedding by 60 - 80 percent when used regularly. All without leaving your bathtub full of hair and grime.

We do cats too, and can clip them with a "lion cut", which is quite charming.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let's Make a Dog Park!

When we adopted Grigri last year I spent some time on the internet looking for a local dog park. But found exactly none. That's why I was so happy to see an article in the Barnstable Patriot that a committee to establish a dog park for Barnstable County was forming.

What is a dog park? There aren't very many on Cape Cod but they are popping up all over the country. Typically a dog park is a fenced area where dogs are allowed to play off leash. Usually there are separate areas for small and large dogs, with vestibule entries that prevent dogs from dashing out the gate when others enter. Water bowls, poop bags and garbage cans are common fixtures and some parks have balls and other toys available. The great thing about dog parks is that they allow our pets to socialize with other dogs - something they have few opportunities to do on leash, in yards, or in homes. It's also a great social opportunity for dog owners to make new friends and talk about their favorite topic: our dogs!

I attended the March 24th meeting of the Committee for Barnstable Dog Parks where I met a really enthusiastic group of dog owners. They have made enormous progress in the three months they have been organizing and have identified several potential sites. Grigri and I visited the Danforth Property, which is one seemingly desirable spot.

The Danforth Property is located near the intersection of Race Lane and Route 149. We cleaned the trail to Mystic Lake there and found the tunnel that originally offered cows the chance to walk under the road down to the lake for water. There is parking, and across the road at the airport a magical trail called Sumac Grove that winds through a sumac forest with deep grass underneath. I imagine it is lovely in summer - can't wait to return.

These trails were nice and clean with the exception of the usual beverage containers and the occasional spot some dog owner overlooked. Sometimes you just run out of bags I guess. I'm hoping the new Committee for Barnstable Dog Parks succeeds in setting the tone for dog owners in Barnstable by emphasizing the need to be extra careful of our pets' waste in order to protect Cape Cod's natural beauty (and high water table). If we each cleaned up a little bit more than our share, we'd win the battle!

Meetings of the Committee for Barnstable Dog Parks are slated for the 4th Thursday of the month at 6:30 PM at the Hyannis Senior Center on Route 28 (multipurpose room) and all are welcome. However, in April an alternate date has been suggested (April 21) due to conflicts.