Home In Disarray

April 9, 2015

I spent 20 minutes brushing Helo last night

20 minutes of brushing a malamute

This is what came off of him.  When we(I) decided to add a second dog to our family, I was under the impression that a fluffier malamute would have similar shedding patterns to Boris.  I was entirely incorrect.  Since mid-February, we have been experience what I have begun referring to as The Furpocalypse, wherein Helo loses every last bit of his undercoat, looks extra creepy and scraggly, and blankets our house, sofa, tables, clothing, and food with his fur.  Nothing is exempt from this.  Entire outfits are stored in dog free rooms and still somehow get a thin coating of fur on them.  There is no single-sheet lint rolling job.  We’re talking minimum of 3, usually closer to 7.

Helo hates getting brushed, so I pick my battles.  I wait until there’s enough truly loose fur to make an appreciable difference in the amount of fur that’s coming off of him on an hourly basis.  This was that time.  I’ll go back in maybe 3-4 days from now and see if I can expand upon the dent that I made last night, but this was all he’d put up with.   And before you suggest the furminator, we have one, and it works great on Boris.  It gets hung up in Helo’s fine guard hairs and breaks/rips them out and clogs immediately.  I have a ridiculous fur rake that is the hotness in malamute fur removal.



Bonus footage, here’s a video that I took of myself pulling loose tufts of fur out of Helo’s shoulder.  He hates it when I take them and tries to eat my  hand.  I assure you that it is not malicious or painful, it’s more of his way of grabbing me and trying to get me to “quit it.”

Helo doesn’t like it when I pull loose tufts of fur when he’s shedding. He tries to eat my hand

Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
December 8, 2014

We don’t always go to the emergency vet, but when we do, it’s always on a holiday weekend.


That’s a true story.  The only other time we’ve had a veterinary emergency was when Boris ate the ibuprofen and nearly died.  And that was over a Memorial Day weekend.  This time, it was Helo’s turn, and it was on Thanksgiving.  We spent all day at my in-laws’ place prepping food, eating, merrymaking, etc.  When we got home around 6:30, I fed the dogs the front legs of the deer that Craig shot, and noticed that Helo’s seemed particularly bloody.  His bed(he takes his food over to his bed to eat it) had gotten splotches of blood on it, but that’s not too out of the ordinary, some pieces of the deer that ended up earmarked for the dogs tended to contain a bit more blood than others, so I didn’t think twice.  But when I went into the bedroom to change the sheets, I noticed that there were some new bits of blood on the dog bed that Helo had just laid down on (sans deer leg), and investigated further.

His dew claw was bleeding, quite a bit.  He wouldn’t let Craig and I touch it, but otherwise it didn’t seem to be bothering him too much.  But the bleeding also wasn’t slowing down, and since we couldn’t get in there to do any first aid, it became clear that we probably needed to pay someone to manage his toe.  So after 20 minutes on hold with the 24 hour vet clinic, they finally gave us the “yeah, you should probably just bring him in.”  So we did.  And poor Boris.  We had been gone for 8+ hours, came home for 45 minutes, and then promptly left, with his only buddy in tow.  He melted the heck down. But unfortunately, Helo needed to get handled.  So we loaded him into the car and went on our merry way to the clinic.  And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  After Helo had bled all over the floor of their lobby, they showed us into a private exam room to wait some more.

And I got bored and took photos to post on facebook.  If you look in the photo above, you can see Helo’s dew claw bent out at a 90 degree angle to the rest of his leg.  Not a great look.  We eventually were able to get a close up photo of the dew claw and zoom in to determine that he’d torn the nail off of the quick (that’s the nerve bundle that bleeds if you cut too far on your dogs’ toenails), but that it was still kind of hanging on.  They eventually came in and brought Helo to the back to get him some painkiller, and hopefully sedate him enough to get him to let them manage the toe.  And they eventually got him drugged up enough that they could hold him down and deal with it.  Helo is surprisingly strong and capable of escaping your arms when he puts his mind to it.  They got the toenail removed, and then had a heck of a time stopping the bleeding, but with the aid of some clotting agent, a compression bandage, and some time, it eventually slowed to the point that they let us take him home.  At 1am.  The added bonus was that our bill was surprisingly inexpensive, just $250.  Beats the pants off the $1800 that Boris cost us a few years ago!

The next morning, Helo was pretty high.  Based on the paperwork from the vet, they gave him a pretty high dosage of the doggy version of dilaudid, which I can attest to being a pretty awesome painkiller.  So the entire next day, Helo laid on his bed, making this exact face.  I deep cleaned the floor that day, so I eventually had to make him get up on the sofa or into the bedroom, but if he didn’t have to move, he didn’t.  He just sat there, not blinking, with his tongue partway out of his mouth.  It was ridiculous.

And a couple days later, I took off the bandage, and his toe looks… OK!

Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
December 5, 2014

Craig got me sick, so the pets came to the rescue


Craig had this cold/cough combination that was pretty rough on him for a while.  Just as he began recovering, it knocked me on my ass.  Fever, chills, exhaustion, phlegm, coughing, decreased appetite (this part was a net positive), aches, etc put me down.  I made a nest on the sofa and only got up to make more tea or get more tissues/cough syrup/sudafed.  Boris and Perry took advantage of my incapacitated nature and enjoyed my nest as well.  They did an excellent job of keeping me cozy and preventing me from getting up and doing too much.  I burned through a season of Top Chef and got a healthy start on The Amazing Race as well. I also passed the time by taking photos, and I would be derelict in my blogger duties if I didn’t at least share the photos.

Posted in: Cat, Dogs, The Creatures
November 17, 2014

The joys of living with an escape artist

Helo the malamute

The post that a facebook friend of mine made this morning about her husky escaping reminded me of some of the fun times we’ve had with Helo escaping.

Like is common with many northern breeds, Malamutes have a natural predilection to run.  As animals that have been bred for centuries to want to travel great distances, the idea of living within one person’s house or yard is a little distasteful. So begins the saga of Helo escaping.
The first time was when I was dogsitting our friend’s dog Sophie, and I left all 3 of the dogs out in the yard while I got distracted by something inside.  When I went to bring the dogs inside, only Boris came to the door, and I realized that Sophie and Helo had tunneled under the fence.  Boris never wants to leave.  That time, someone probably 15 houses up caught Sophie, and Helo kind of hung around his buddy til I made it up in my Jeep and lured them into it with treats.
The second time Sophie and Helo tunneled into the next door neighbor’s fenced-in yard, and were pretty easy to collect.
The third time was a bit more dramatic.  It was a lazy Saturday morning, and I was in my pajamas.  We are talking slippers, PJ pants, no bra, and an XL t-shirt with a picture of a wolf on it.  I opened the gate to go to the side of the house and drop something in the yard waste, but it did not latch behind me, and Helo bolted.  Boris stayed in the yard.  So I closed the gate, and ran after Helo.  There were 2 old men walking toward me, and I yelled at them to grab my dog.  They didn’t.  Then I realized what a psycho I must look like – I was running down the middle of the street in rainbow pajama pants, slippers, no bra, and an enormous t-shirt, with what must have looked like a photo of my dog on it.  Totally crazy lady.  I ended up chasing Helo for a few minutes (I am out of shape.  Keeping up with a dog bred to run is not something I’m capable of), and then lost him.  I went back to the house, grabbed my car and a container of treats, and started driving through the neighborhood.  40 minutes later, I spotted him.  I threw the car in park, jumped out, and tried to coerce him to let me approach him with treats.  He got all skittish, split, and I nearly cried.  Until I saw that he was running for my car!  I had left the door open, and he was so excited to go for a ride that he jumped in!  But when I made it back to the house, he didn’t want to get out.  I’d open up the back door and go to grab him, and he’d hop into the front seat.  Close the back door and open up the front, and he’d get in the back seat.  Craig watched all of this from the window and said it was like watching the 3 stooges.  I eventually made it back into the house with him, and all was well.
Helo and Sophie, busy NOT escaping
The fourth time was the worst.  It was early December, already very dark out, and pouring down rain.  A friend of mine was over, and we were going to be eating dinner as soon as Craig made it home from the gym.  I let the dogs out and went to pull something out of the oven.  A few minutes later (it really wasn’t more than 3-4), and when I called them back inside, only Boris came.  Helo was nowhere to be seen.  I threw on some sneakers and went out with a flashlight.  Instead of finding Helo, I found a hole under the fence, into our neighbor’s yard, which is not fully fenced.  So I threw on a hoody (it was close-at hand), grabbed a flashlight, some treats, and took off.  I found him on the next street over pretty quickly, but couldn’t catch him.  It was the greatest game of keepaway ever for him.  I was livid.  He ran right up to someone getting out of their car, and I begged them to grab him, but they didn’t try very hard.  I slipped on some rockery or stairs in someone’s front yard and sprained my ankle pretty badly.  Luckily, I had enough adrenaline flowing that I was able to keep chasing him.  It was rush hour and he was headed towards a pretty busy street.  Luckily, Craig was on his way home with his friend, and they both found me and joined in on the chase.  Helo did make it out to the main road, but Craig and I were finally able to trap him, and get ahold of him.  By the time we made it back to my car, my ankle was hurting so bad that it was difficult to push in my clutch.  But we got home, and I elevated and iced my ankle.  I wasn’t able to put real weight on it for 2-3 days.  The next day, I got a crutch, and hobbled out into the yard to refill the hole that he had dug. I found 4-5 different holes in various stages of completion, all in secluded spots in the yard.  He had been planning this jailbreak for some time, working on holes bit by bit.  That little shit made a premeditated escape.
The fifth, and most recent escape was when Craig’s mom came to drop of something for our yard, opened the gate, and Craig came home at the same time and let the dogs out, not knowing that his mom had opened our gate.  Helo took off, made it out to the main street, and hid behind a landscaping truck that was stopped at a light.  Luckily, the landscaper saw him, and gestured wildly to relay that information to Craig, who managed to sneak up on him.
Soooo… the combination of insane intelligence, forethought, predilection for adventures, and looking like a really terrifying creature are the perfect storm of extremely frustrating escapes.  In my experience, people are always willing to grab the 40lb German Shorthaired Pointer, but want nothing to do with grabbing the collar of an 80lb hulk of a dog that looks like a wolf.
Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
October 25, 2014

Dog liver treats

Dog liver treats

When we bought the 1/4 cow, the butcher gave us a bunch of extra livers. He had them sitting around, and people don’t generally love eating cow liver, so when I was willing to take everything he had, he seemed elated.  The friends that we split the meat with also have dogs that love tasty snacks, so they took their half of the liver that was given to us, and all was well.

liver to be dehydrated

Now that the weather has cooled down, I am in gear to start dehydrating things.  We haven’t run the heat this season so far, so running a device that blows warm air all over the house is kind of pleasant too.  I love dehydrating apples.  When I decided to dehydrate liver, I didn’t count on just how intensely the house would smell of liver.  Luckily Craig was out hunting, so his super-smeller self wasn’t put through the kind of hell that I went through.  I started the liver in the evening when I got home from work, and ran the dehydrator through the night.  I actually woke up partway through the night and was certain that one of the dogs had pooped, eaten it, and thrown it back up.  It was just the liver.  My dehydrator is an orange and ivory colored beast from the 70’s that I got as a hand-me-down from my parents.  The brand is Marvelizer.  Because why not.  It comes with 2 types of tray liners.  The “nonstick” grate type, and then a nonstick plastic sheet that is designed for fruit leather type applications.  I used the grate type and it was a mistake.  Liver goo went down through the grates and got into all the tiny cracks in the racks.  I had to soak the racks all day, and scraped the crap out of my fingers trying to scrub it all out.

dehydrated liver dog treats

Here is my advice if you decide to dehydrate liver as dog treats – my dogs, and the dogs at work lose their minds for these treats, they’re probably worth it.
*Set the dehydrator up in a room that has airflow that doesn’t reach the rest of the house.  Think laundry room, bathroom with the fan running constantly, garage, what-have-you.
*Use the fruit leather liners.  The liver will likely take longer to dry, but believe me, the time payoff is worth it when it comes to cleanup.
*Make sure the liver is very dry if you want to store it at room temp.  If not, keep it in the fridge.

Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
October 22, 2014

Snobby spoiled dogs


Our dogs are ridiculously spoiled.  Craig lets Helo up on the sofa to sleep, and he loves the pillows.  It is totally ridiculous.

malamute asleep on the sofa

And Boris has once again decided that he hates it when I give him chicken quarters.  He will no longer take it willingly from me, I have to put it in his bowl, then he will guard it, and after 5 minutes or so, finally break down and decide to eat it.  But then he won’t finish it, he’ll lay there, guarding part of his chicken quarter, looking incredibly dejected.  It’s pathetic.


Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures
October 21, 2014

The safety of eating wild game


I admittedly know little about this subject. This both makes me a very good source for trying to decipher information, and also a wildly unreliable source.  Take everything I have to say with a grain of salt.

OK, so conventionally produced meat for sale in the US has been monitored and treated to prevent parasites.  The whole trichinosis in pork stuff is a thing of the past if you’re buying pork from the grocery store.  Raw and rare beef tends to be “safe” if it was processed commercially.  Wild game has not been kept healthy by any people, and hasn’t been wormed.  While it’s not a sure-thing that any one animal has parasites, the likelihood of it being contaminated is far greater than something raised under controlled circumstances with access to vet care.
When looking into feeding raw venison (deer) to our dogs (we feed them raw meat), I happened across a link to a raw feeding website that suggested that 3-4 weeks in the freezer should be enough to kill parasites.  And that got me thinking.  If unfrozen raw or undercooked meat is enough to infect a dog with parasites, shouldn’t that same hold true with humans?  Yes.  Absolutely.  So I got to doing some additional research.  I have primarily found 2 different answers.  The most common answer that I find on hunting boards & the like (which generally lacks any level of logic, and instead is anecdotal evidence at best) is “Well I ate fresh backstrap rare right after I killed the deer and I don’t have parasites, so there’s no reason to bother or be worried.”  The other answer that I’m finding is “The beef jerky marinade package says that wild game should be frozen for at least 60 days.”  Now my understanding of science prevents me from believing that meat that hasn’t been treated for parasites isn’t capable of giving me parasites, but it also lets me know that temperature and time spent at that temperature is incredibly variable.  For example… to pasteurize an egg, you can either hold it at 131F for 90 minutes, 135F for 75 minutes, or 140F for 60 minutes.  The same holds true for breaking down and killing cold-sensitive goobers. A deep freeze that gets well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit should theoretically kill things much more quickly than a freezer that hovers around 11 degrees.
Unfortunately, the best information that I’ve come across is from a University of Minnesota Extension Office.  I haven’t found any more effective information, and this link from the Illinois Department of Public Health says that freezing venison jerky for 30 days will make it safe, with no mention of the temperature at which it is frozen.  The information from U of Minnesota says:
Parasites and Tapeworms
  • Parasites and tapeworms are common in all wild game.
  • Eating fresh venison is not recommended.
  • Freeze wild game down to -4 degrees for a minimum of 4 days before eating or processing it into jerky or sausage to help kill parasites or tapeworms.
  • Cooking venison to 160 degrees will also help to kill parasites and tapeworms.

E.coli O157:H7 – A Concern in Wild Game Venison Jerky and Sausage

  • E.coli O157:H7 has been found in the intestinal tract of wild game.
  • Research shows E.coli O157:H7 can survive in homemade wild game jerky and fermented sausages like pepperoni.
  • Researchers found that E.coli 0157:H7 survived more than 10 hours of drying at 145 degrees.
  • The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that jerky made from beef or venison be steamed, roasted or boiled to 160ºF before drying.

So this leaves me with questions.  I have to check the temp range of our chest freezer and see where that stands.  I assume it will hold negative 4 if I turn it down far enough.  The refrigerator freezer ranges from 11 to 1 degree above zero, so we will see.

I am wanting to make jerky and am now mildly concerned about e.coli.  Perhaps after marinating the meat, I could vacuum seal it and pasteurize it in a water bath before drying in the dehydrator.

Regarding cuts that we expect to be eating medium rare – I’ll get those in the coldest part of the freezer and count on leaving them there for a few weeks, and leave them in the sous vide water bath for a little longer than would normally be necessary to cook them to the desired temp.

What it really comes down to is if I am going to be not only eating this myself, but feeding it to friends and family, I want to be sure that the meat has been handled safely and isn’t going to give my loved ones food poisoning or parasites!

It feels silly that this is so difficult to get really effective information.  I am a skilled researcher, I have a firm grasp of food science, and I have the equipment to hold sustained temperatures, yet I can’t find ANY charts that will tell me what I need to be doing!

Posted in: Clean Eating, Dogs, Food, Misc