Update On Our Riddick’s Eyes…

We had an appointment at the Joburg Animal Eye Hospital this morning, incredibly generously paid for by someone who heard about our precious boy and wanted to help!


~~Our little droopy-eyed Riddick the day we fetched him from GDA’s Puppy Block~~

As is typical of our Riddick, he’s noisy and fidgety in a place he doesn’t know – but he’s FIFTY times better than he was as a young pup, no longer causing everyone to come running thinking there’s a dog in pain.

~~Our little droopy-eyed Riddick on his first day at home, already filling a Riddick-shaped hole in my heart I didn't know I had~~

~~Our little droopy-eyed Riddick on his first day at home, already filling a Riddick-shaped hole in my heart I didn’t know I had~~

Turns out he does indeed have cataracts, but there is no sign of inflammation or detachment, thank goodness.
There is absolutely no response from Riddick’s retinas to the red or blue light spectrum, which is no change from when he was born, and is the reason his pupils don’t work.
Because his retinas don’t work his pupils don’t work and his eyes will continue to deteriorate – as we expected them to – and the specialist says a cataract surgery would be an extremely short term solution and he would rather not subject Riddick to the stress.

~~Riddick with his new grown-up Doggles~~

~~Riddick with his new grown-up Doggles~~

We do now have to keep an eye on him for any sign of cataract detachment which will cause inflammation and irritation, and should it happen he will treat it with Cortisone eye drops. He does say though that very few dogs experience the cataract detachment so I am praying for that.
He also said he was impressed with how comfortable Riddick was in a strange situation, even though he was nervous and noisy, and determined to show me where the door was, he wasn’t cowering and was eager to greet the doctor and sniff and explore the exam room.
He was a little nervous on the doctor’s exam table and I used his roadie and his leash to hold him while he was examined, and my teaching him to hold still by saying “let me look” when I hold his face helped a lot when the doc had to shine the various lights into his eyes.

~~The rapid progression of the cataracts in Riddick's eyes~~

~~The rapid progression of the cataracts in Riddick’s eyes~~

So as it stands, there will be no surgery or additional treatment for the cataracts unless they cause irritation, and our boy’s vision will continue to worsen. We knew when we adopted our tiny little pickle that he would eventually go blind, I was just hoping it would be a slower process.


~~Riddick is happiest and quietest in the front seat of the car, so I put his Roadie on and buckle him in~~

A Weekend with Wendal

Service-Dog-to-be Wendal’s training is going really well, and at the moment he is doing all the Service Dog demos for visitors to the Gladys Evans Training Centre. And he remains immensely popular among visitors and staff alike, though apparently he has a thing for chewing through his leashes!
When I fetched Wendal on Friday afternoon, I asked if his weight was still good and they said he was indeed a little tubby again and had to go back on a diet. Apparently some dogs have a tendency to gain weight and Wendal is one of them – even with daily exercise.

On Friday evening he and little puppy-in-training Annie had a cuddly snooze on the kitchen floor towel while I finished a cake I was working on. He’s very good with the puppies.


All four of the dogs – GDA’s Wendal and Annie and our Riddick and Lennox – had a wonderful weekend together!

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On Friday afternoon, Wendal and Annie both had an interesting experience and both handled it really well. A swarm of bees moved into the disused fountain-slash-water-feature outside our bedroom windows, and we had people come and remove them for us. The two men were walking around the garden in the big white beekeeper suits and using a vacuum to suck up the bees into a box, and it was very strange for the puppies. Annie didn’t bat an eyelid and after Wendal had barked a couple of times he listened to me telling him to “leave it” and settled down.


On Sunday morning we spent a few hours at the  SA Guide-dogs stand at Hobby-X with Wendal and Annie. It was unbelievably busy and I didn’t have a chance to take any photos, but Wendal was a superstar. He handled the crowds and the cuddles like a pro!

On Monday morning, I was packing a lunchbox for my husband and brushing my teeth and such, and put the dogs out after they’d had their breakfast. It couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes but when I called them inside so we could leave Wendal, Annie and Penny (most likely the instigator) were covered in mud!
By the time I dropped him off at GDA he was a little cleaner, but he definitely needed a bath!



You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter.
I also have a Facebook page called Its a Pup’s Life .

Penny’s First Playdate!

Our sweet Penny has been with us for eight months, and we’ve made a LOT of progress together in that time. The clicker training that we are now learning together has made a big difference too! We’ve gotten to know her better and learn her little signals and quirks, and she has learnt (is learning) what the rules are and what her place is in our “pack”.
A part of that process has been socialising her so that she can go out with us and visit friends and we can have friends visit with their pooches.

On Sunday we went to visit a friend who has two dogs – Caileigh is a black Lab cross (I think she’s 6 years old) and Chuck is an 11 month old yellow Lab. Both are rescue dogs with the sweetest natures – and we took Riddick, Penny and Service-Dog-in-training Wendal along with us.

I wish I’d taken more pictures – these are from my friend Jeannie!

~~I pinched this picture off my friend's FB feed - its me, with all 5 dogs!~~

~~Me, with all 5 dogs!~~


~~Wendal and Riddick~~



~~left to right – Penny, Wendal, Riddick, Caileigh and Chuck~~

They had a BALL!
Penny, Wendal, Caileigh and Chuck all had their hackles up when they first met, but thats fine for when dogs meet for the first time without displaying outright submissiveness – provided there’s no aggression. And being well socialised, Caileigh and Chuck often have doggy visitors so it wasn’t long before they were playing together and touring the garden and checking out the house and each other’s toys.
Riddick of course just bounces around loving everyone, but thats because he has been taught to be submissive since puppyhood.








~~Riddick, Penny and Wendal lying near us while we ate~~

We had a glorious afternoon. We braai’d and chatted and played with the pooches, and by the time we went home they were completely worn out!


~~Penny & Riddick asleep on our bed~~


~~Wendal asleep on “his” bed~~

Its a big relief for me to know we can take Penny out with us and let her off lead to play – though we’ll still be keeping our eye on her for a long while – and I love that we have friends who are fine with us arriving with two or three very lively Labradors!

Jake and Scully Have Grown!

Remember I introduced you to my sister C’s puppies, Jake and Scully – the fox terrier-Jack Russell cross pups who are spending some time with me during the week so I can assist with their obedience training?

They’ve grown so much!

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A Weekend with Wendal


We had another weekend with Service-Dog-in-training Wendal.
House training has come a long way and we didn’t have one accident this weekend.
He’s still a little mouthy, trying to hold your hand when you cuddle him or jumping up to grab your hand when you play with him.


he’s very well behaved in the car


making himself comfy on one of the dog beds :D

His possessiveness has vastly improved and we can now actually play with toys with no growling from Wendal. He is still a little possessive of food though – even growling if Penny sniffs the bag of food we brought home for him!


watching me work in the kitchen


Wendal got lots of attention at Hobby-X and he was so well behaved

Wendal got lots of attention at WODAC and he was so well behaved


Wendal was worn out after working at the SA Guide-dogs stand at WODAC last week

His manners have come a long way too – all the dogs have to SIT WAIT before I let them into or out of the house or through a closed door inside the house. Wendal now waits for myself or my husband to walk out the door and then follows us outside.


He also does a beautiful SIT WAIT for his food, he’s letting go when I say LEAVE IT and he is responding brilliantly to SPEAK as well.


You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter.
I also have a Facebook page called Its a Pup’s Life .

An Old Cat Is A Cold Cat…

I knew our cats would need special care as they aged – as any pet does – but one thing didn’t occur to me.

Our almost 11 year old Greebo started sleeping IN our bed, between my Glugster and I at night. This started during a particularly vicious cold snap a few weeks ago, and the reason it caught my attention is that it has literally been YEARS since Greebo slept on my bed or my lap!

Then I stumbled across an article on Facebook about keeping your older cats warm in the winter and I was like “Lightbulllllllb…” My poor Greebo was getting cold!


~~ Minx, Greebo and Magic curled up together in our warmed up bedroom ~~

The next night we started using our gas heater – ‘coz we were getting cold too – and I would put a blanket on the floor in front of it for Greebo to curl up on. He immediately made the most of it and he seemed much happier. I also arranged a couple of soft beds in the house in front of the windows I know get a fair amount of sunshine during the day and I increased his food portion (Minx & Magic are also getting extra).

Apparently as cats age – especially as they approach 12 year sold – they can start battling to maintain their body weight and a skinny cat can get sick.
Older cats also develop age-related gripes like battling with their teeth (which Greebo already does) so eating can be painful and supplementing with soft food to keep their weight up may be a good idea.
Keep your eyes on your cat’s weight and if your older furkid continues to lose weight even with a supplemented diet you may want to take a trip to the vet. Remember that your cat most likely won’t show you there’s something wrong until he’s practically at death’s door!


~~ my sweet Greebo asleep on my lap ~~

A Weekend With Wendal

We had another weekend with Service-Dog-in-training Wendal.
The Glugster picked him up from SAGA on his way home and as usual he was as good as gold in the car.


His issue with possessiveness has vastly improved and we can now actually play with toys with no growling from Wendal. There was one funny incident though, on Saturday morning at about 3am Wendal threw up, not a lot, but he got awfully protective over his little puke puddle when he saw Riddick was waking up along with me!



We had a couple of piddles inside the house this weekend so his house training is really coming along – he does tell us he needs to go out but if we make him wait he’ll go and piddle on the lounge floor.


Wendal is such a gentle soul, and he always crosses his front legs when he lies down.


His manners have come a long way too – all the dogs have to SIT WAIT before I let them into or out of the house (thats Wendal in the middle with our Riddick and Penny), or through a closed door inside the house. Wendal now waits for myself or my husband to walk out the door and then follows us outside.
He also does a beautiful SIT WAIT for his food, he’s letting go when I say LEAVE IT and he is responding brilliantly to SPEAK as well. He’s a really quick study and I can see why the trainers at SAGA are all smitten with him.


You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter.
I also have a Facebook page called Its a Pup’s Life .

My Day Has Been All About Doggy Drama!

I don’t like doggy drama.


The first episode went as follows.

On the way to the station this morning, I saw a black dog on the side of the road. I thought it looked like a Lab, and it was wearing quite a staunch collar. Dogs on the side of the road is never a good thing so I decided I’d keep my eyes open for the dog on the way home.
I saw him again and pulled over. I took the belt off my handbag that I’ve been using as a strap after the old one tore and set off down the road with some treats.
When I found him a security guard outside an office complex was holding his collar gently so I asked if it was his dog. He said no and asked if it was mine. I said no but that I was going to take him with me to get him to safety.
The dog refused the treats I offered but didn’t balk when I put the belt through his collar and he walked nicely with me back to the car. He didn’t want to get into the car though so I lifted him in and he lay down on the seat and stayed that way till I got to my vet. Sadly the camera on my phone is bust and I didn’t have my 35mm with me…
He seems to be a sweet, placid boy albeit with lots of scars and very dirty, but not underfed. I think he may have some Lab in him but he has a thick neck like a Staffie and he’s too small for a Lab. He had a very broad collar on and it looks like he’d been tied up somewhere with a thick plastic ribbon tape as there was a piece attached to the metal collar ring.
My vet said they’d keep him for a few days but I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do now…

The second episode was more upsetting for me!

I’ve told how my sister’s Fox Terrier X Jack Russell puppies, Jake and Scully, are spending a few days a week with me so that I can assist in their training and socialisation.
When I have to leave the house for more than an hour or so I put them in my bathroom with their bed and their toys so they can’t roam the house. When they’re a little older I won’t do it anymore but I have always blocked little puppies in when I have to leave them at home.
When I got home, I let my big dogs smell the car where the foundling had been and I locked the gate and closed the garage door, not in any particular kind of hurry.
When I got to the kitchen I heard a noise over Riddick and Penny’s rowdy greetings – a noise I didn’t recognise. I walked through to my bedroom and realised I was hearing the bath tap! We don’t use the bath because we shower, and its a sunken corner unit in our en-suite.
Little Jake had managed to get into the bath – which isn’t hard – and he had managed to turn on the hot tap! I’m still baffled as to how because the tap has a round knob, it has no grips or protrusions on it.
Poor Jake was jumping up against the side of the bath, which thankfully couldn’t fill up because of the lack of a plug, but the poor boy’s feet were burned by the hot water!
I pulled him out of the bath ad wrapped him in a towel, then ran his back feet under the cold tap and alternated with Bactroban and Germolene as I did. A couple of hours later his little feet were a normal temperature again and he was sleeping without whining. The poor little thing.

I continued doctoring his paw pads with Bactroban and Germolene through the day but he seemed fine by the time my sister C came to fetch them.

I felt so bad for him I wanted to carry him around all day so I could cuddle him better.

NEVER underestimate what your puppy can get up to!


Meet Jake and Scully!

My sister C has adopted two Jack Russell-Fox Terrier-cross puppies and her two-and-a-half year old son, L, named them after one of his favourite TV shows!
Scully has mostly black markings and one blue eye, and Jake has fewer markings and a brown patch over one eye. Jake is a little quicker to catch onto instructions than Scully is, and Scully is the vocal one, even squeaking when he yawns!

As my sister works full day, Jake and Scully are going to be coming to me a few times a week so I can help her house train them and get a start on obedience work. I’ll be working on the usual “sit” and “stay” as well as behavioural things that have no command as such – not biting people as part of play, no growling during play, no kitty chasing, recall,

Being terriers they’re very clever, so it took only a day for them to start responding to “sit” and sitting when its meal time.

Sleepy puppies:




Puppies on puppy missions:





Puppies playing with Penny and Riddick! Penny is very keen to play and follows them around the room – they run under the bed where she can’t reach them and then come bounding out around her. Riddick isn’t quite sure what to do with such tiny puppy dogs, but he is so sweet and so patient with them.







A Weekend With Wendal

We are playing weekend “puppy raisers” to another SAGA Service-Dog-in-training!

This is Wendal.

He’s about a year old and he’s been at SAGA for 3 weeks. They know very little about him as he and his brother were actually SPCA foundlings. His brother has a forever home now, and Wendal here is in training to be a Service Dog for someone with physical disabilities.


Because Wendal wasn’t raised the same way SAGA’s own puppies are raised, he has to learn how to live inside a house now.
He did very well considering, he has already been house trained which is awesome, and he knows basic commands like “sit” and “down”. He’s fabulous on-lead and hasn’t tried to climb onto any of the furniture, though he did jump onto the bed twice in excitement. He has his own bed in our room, as do all our dogs, though they do share and share alike.


He’s on a diet as he’s a little tubby, so we’ll be making sure not to give too many treats. He eats very well though, not rushing through his food and not trying to steal from the other dogs.


He plays well with the other dogs, although he is a little protective of toys he has “found” so we’ll be working on him sharing.
He is learning to wait until I say he may go through a door – coming inside or going outside, as all our dogs must do.
He does well in the car, though he’s a little reluctant to get back into the car after the first “half” of a trip has ended.
He jumps up a little so we’ll be teaching him that thats not allowed, and as with all our dogs the cats’ litter box is like a box of chocolates! Its so gross!



He doesn’t seem interested in the kitchen dustbin at all, though he has jumped up to see whats on the kitchen counter and dining room table.
He’s also doing a bit of “guard dog” barking which we will also be discouraging as working dogs are not watch dogs at all.



You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter.
I also have a Facebook page called Its a Pup’s Life .

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