Friday, 30 November 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty:  the view on a clear day.

Beast:  that would be Daisy.  This is an old 'ragger' toy, Ollie has given it a good seeing to and nibbled away a lot of the threads.  It would have taken him months to get it to this stage.

It took Daisy less than 20 minutes to reduce it to this:

Don't know about calling her Gizmo, Yoda or Long-Eared Bat.  Jaws is starting to look suitable.  Thankfully she's a good little girl and only does this to toys.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gated Community

Although we've got gates at the bottom of the drive it will surprise no-one that I wanted another barrier between Daisy and the road and Patersons responded very quickly (which they always do when there's a four-paws involved!) We re-fitted the gate next to the house and were able to re-use the other gate we already had and just make one more to fit the top of the tractor ramp.  I'm not sure why the latch is on the outside ... I'll move it at the weekend.

Daisy is a little confused as to why she can no longer sprint up and down the steps.

In other news, a harsh frost last night and the top pond didn't unfreeze all day.

Beautiful and sunny with gorgeous views but very chilly.  Daisy feels the cold at present so has her coat on in the garden as well as on walks.  Although she's settling in very well I discovered this morning she's quite unhappy when I have the big Canon camera in my hand.  Up to now I've been taking snaps with the little Panasonic Lumix but she was very wary of the Canon, hence the rather worried expression. Management had a moment of brilliance:  the Canon focussing system is known as USM - Ultra Sonic Motors.  Maybe Daisy can hear the lens focussing and is worried by the noise?

She had a trip to our vet today which didn't seem to phase her too much.  Clare thinks she's a "bonny girl", isn't excessively worried about her weight and advises us to just keep doing whatever we're doing, but with some extra protein.  Daisy has no complaints about fresh mince or grated cheddar added to her bowl.

Feeding an emaciated dog

From PetMD.  Interesting but very disturbing because I cannot avoid the question "and how did the researchers find this out ...?"  Recording it here for my own benefit.   Daisy was in the rescue centre for three weeks before coming to us and was fed one large meal a day, the same as all the others in their care.  She has survived what life's thrown at her so far so my job now is to build her up gently.

Researchers have studied how a dog’s body organs and biochemistry are disrupted by various lengths of time of starvation. If the dog is healthy to begin with, and no medical problems exist that, of course, would compound the starving dog’s medical status, a predictable sequence of adaptations take place.

The dog’s biochemical functions shift into survival mode within twenty-four hours with no nutritional intake. The highest priority of the dog’s metabolic processes becomes the necessity to keep the blood glucose concentration at a normal level. If the blood glucose ("blood sugar") level drops too low for any reason, the brain, heart, muscles and kidney function shuts down rapidly and death comes quickly. So, when the dog has no opportunity to eat, the survival mode’s first concern is to mobilize stored glucose from liver and muscle reserves by changing the biochemical processes to different chemical pathways that make glucose readily available.

After about two days without food the liver reserves of glycogen (glucose) are depleted. So in order to keep the blood level of glucose in the normal range, new chemical pathways open, called gluconeogenesis, where the liver and kidneys create molecules from complicated biochemical reactions so that fats and proteins are extracted from adipose tissue and muscle. As the glucose reserves are tapped and diminished, chemical reactions kick in to create glucose internally from those protein and fat reserves. Energy to run the body’s machinery (muscle, brain, kidney, heart and other organ functions require energy to fuel their activities) is now fueled less by glucose and more by fatty acid extracted from fat reserves.

On the third day of food deprivation the dog’s metabolism slows down. This lower, or slowed, metabolic rate continues as long as no food is consumed. The lowered metabolism is a survival mechanism to decrease the utilization of body fat and muscle for energy. Lowered blood sugar levels changes insulin secretion by the pancreas, which in turn lowers thyroid hormone levels; and it’s the thyroid gland function that ultimately dictates the metabolic rate.

During starvation the liver releases chemicals called ketones into the blood stream; ketones are then used as a source of energy for the dog’s body cells. By creating ketones and fatty acids to be used as energy sources, the dog’s body conserves what little glucose is circulating so that glucose-dependent red blood cells and important kidney tissues can continue to access glucose. Interestingly, red blood cells and kidney tubule cells cannot utilize anything other than glucose for cell energy needs.

After five days of starvation fat becomes the main source of energy.

Feeding the Starved Dog

Animal caretakers must exert strict self-control when attempting to nurse a starved dog back to good health. The natural and common tendency is to overfeed the dog "because he’s ravenous." If an emaciated and starved dog is suddenly overfed serious consequences, such as refeeding syndrome, await. This is because a sudden load of carbohydrates in a large meal can create serious shifts in potassium and phosphorus concentrations in all body cells.

Signs of Refeeding Syndrome are described as muscle weakness, muscle cramps, heart muscle damage and rhythm irregularities, seizures, red blood cell rupture and respiratory failure.

In addition, a prolonged lack of food does not "shrink the stomach," but it does make the stomach much more sensitive to stretch receptor nerve impulses. The dog may feel as if full when the stomach has only a small quantity of food in the stomach. The increased sensitivity to gastric expansion will dissipate over 3 to 7 days.

The food being fed to the starved dog should have adequate mineral composition, especially phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. (Therefore, do not be tempted to feed, for example, just hamburger, which does not have a wide or balanced mineral content.) The amount of food, or total calories, should not exceed over 24 hours what the dog would normally eat at its normal weight. An emaciated dog is best served consuming a small meal every six hours (4 times a day) rather than consuming one or two larger meals.

A broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement is important to include at each meal. Some evidence supports the addition of the amino acid glutamine to the recovery diet. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid supplements are also beneficial to a dog recovering from malnourishment; the same holds true for the amino acid arginine. Dietary nucleotides are important contributors to the formation of DNA and RNA and assist in a number of metabolic activities of healthy cells. Diets rich in meat provide adequate nucleotides.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Daisy has been with us one week and tonight she's feeling settled enough to lay in front of the wood burner whilst I'm in the kitchen fixing supper.  She's not asleep - an eye opens to check what's going on when I walk around but it is a massive breakthrough.

It's lovely to see her luxuriating in the warmth.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Somebody likes to be comfortable

With absolutely no spare flesh to provide cushioning, Somebody likes to be comfortable.  Doesn't matter whether it's her memory foam beds, a cheapo duvet from Wilko or the sofa, Daisy is much happier when she's curled up on something soft.

And she knows how to play and is keeping Management busy in the evenings.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Another deluge today.  The Derwent broke its banks but thankfully, not by much, and we discovered (not surprisingly) that Daisy absolutely does not like getting wet.  When I did persuade her to go out she wore one of Ollie's coats which is far too big for her but she didn't seem to mind.

When it rains really hard the narrow end of our road always floods.  I should feel sorry for this neighbour but I don't.  He's an unfriendly bugger who always drives too fast.

Little Miss Perfect

Torrential rain.  High winds.  Little Miss Perfect agrees with me that the best thing to do is light the wood burner and watch another episode of The West Wing.

What's really lovely is that she already feels secure enough to lay in front of the fire whilst I'm on the computer.  Not exactly in another room because we are so open-plan, but the furthest  away from me that she has been by choice since Tuesday.

Introducing Daisy

So here she is, the latest member of the Bag End crew.

This little dog has only been with us 2 days and already she has carved her way into our hearts (and onto the sofa!)   Daisy has lovely manners, knows her basic commands and despite being an absolute bag of bones, eats very gently.  We put the big crate in a corner of the sitting room and whilst exploring she took herself into it and settled down.  Sprawling across the sofa with me after supper met with approval too.  She's house-trained, asks to go out, and barks at delivery men but was very friendly when the electrician popped in earlier.

Virtually nothing is known about Daisy and we'll have a DNA test done to find out what we can about her breeding.  Knowing what the makeup of a 'mutt' is helps understand the dog's needs in terms of training and activity, and gives some behavioural clues.

We've been told she was found by a dog warden in Lancashire, freezing cold, starving and very, very scared.  She was taken to a proper rescue centre and we found her on their website.  The rescue staff tell us she's not put on an ounce of weight in the three weeks they had her because she's been so stressed.  Difficult to photograph but her appearance is quite distressing, every rib and vertebrae is visible, the sacral bones of her pelvis stick up alarmingly and there is no flesh around her sternum. She weighs 17.2kg and is 20" tall at the shoulder.  We're told the dog warden felt Daisy was one or two cold nights away from death, sounds melodramatic but I can believe it.  Building up her weight is going to take a long time.  It's hard not to think about whether there's been any organ damage because we don't know how long she was a stray for, however, I'm not going to worry about things I cannot control.  Daisy is getting the best quality nutrition I know of, warmth and TLC, and our vet is 5 minutes away if necessary.

Our first visit to meet Daisy was on Sunday and we spent about three hours with her.  A spaying had been arranged for Monday and although I was concerned that she wasn't really in a state to be operated on, I couldn't do anything to stop it.  I returned first thing Tuesday (yes, I missed yoga!) and sat in the kennel with her for an hour.  It was obvious that she needed to be got out of there without delay.  She couldn't settle, every noise had her on full alert and pacing around, the poor little dog had been running on adrenaline for far too long.

The rescue centre have a policy of "no home-visit, no adoption".  We are 80 miles away and arrived on Sunday with a data stick full of photos of Bag End, so thankfully that requirement was soon shelved.  They also have a rule that you cannot take a dog unless you have visited three times.  To my relief a chat with the Manager got that policy circumvented too;  everyone agreed there was nothing to be gained from keeping Daisy in the kennel for a moment longer than necessary.

She travelled home surprisingly well in a soft crate and although there was some whining and grumbling she soon calmed down (and wasn't sick, hurrah).  She's sticking to me like Velcro and thankfully Management is at home for a few days so we can work on her spending time with both of us and not getting too attached just to me.  Management had the idea of putting the soft travel crate in the bedroom; brilliant move because Daisy went straight into it, curled up and didn't move until morning.  Today I actually had to wake her up to go outside, she toilets without any messing around and then wants to come back inside for breakfast.  That's a routine I'm not going to complain about.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


A half-starved bag of bones with a sweet nature and desperate to please.  A stray picked up by a dog warden freezing, cold and allegedly, one or two wet nights away from death.  So thin that we're not even sure what she is although Collie and German Shepherd are supposedly part of the mixture.  8 years old according to the vet used by the rescue centre, seems younger to us.  She knows sit and down, seems to be house-trained and is currently stuck to me like a roll of Velcro.

Full story and pictures later but for now, welcome home Daisy.

(the Little Red Tractor is going to need a new name!)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Here we go again

Some months ago Management and I were watching the red squirrels from the kitchen window and to do this we had to stand next to the sink.  I threw out an idle comment without really meaning it:  "if we moved the sink to the other side of the room and replaced the wall with patio doors we could sit at the table and watch the birds and squirrels in so much more comfort". 

Now a lot of people would say something like that but never do anything about it.  Management is not that person, he's a facilitiator, an enabler and his immediate response was "you're right, so let's do it!" Which is why, when the weather was bad and LP couldn't work in the garden, he spent the day removing our foul and troublesome kitchen floor.  Long-time Hobbit friends will recall that the multiple kitchen floors, all of which had been laid on top of each other, had already caused us plenty of problems and were always due to be ripped out. 

I think we counted seven layers in total - screed on top of the wooden floorboards, a mesh membrane, then a plastic barrier, more screed, ceramic tiles, then more screed, then an Amtico vinyl floor ...

Glad to see the back of all of it but it does mean we are absolutely committed to another round of tradesmen, mess and expense before it's straight again!

Thursday, 8 November 2012


I was meant to be shopping in Keswick.  Despite the drizzle, it was more fun to enjoy the autumn colours at Calf Close Bay on Derwentwater.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Laundry room and inverter

When the solar panels were fitted last year I wanted the inverter placed on the side wall of the laundry room.  I was told that couldn't happen because it was a stud partition wall which would not take the weight.

Fast forward a few months, some plaster fell off the wall in the bedroom (the other side of the wall) and proves what I was saying all along - it's not a stud wall, it's brick and can take the weight.  So the inverter got moved and we can finally think about installing the second freezer in here.  That matters because until the second freezer is relocated we can't really make progress with refurbishing the entrance/boot room.

I'm glad I got what I wanted in the end, mildly irritating it took 12 months to prove I was right :{

NOT pond planting

What was I thinking?  Sunday might have been a lovely day but the weather which followed was not, there will be no pond planting in the immediate future.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Room with a view?

On a day like today the endless work in the garden doesn't seem quite so daunting. The workmanship we uncover as we work our way through the house renovations doesn't seem quite so frightful.

A busy weekend:  removing more plaster in the mud room, cooking 50 portions of 'convenience food' and a lovely afternoon outside in the sun.  In the expectation of a decent day tomorrow, I weeded two beds in the Potager and covered them with bark chips ready for winter, and drained about 4" of water from the big pond.  Lowering the water level should make planting up the sandbags much easier.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Getting behind isn't a problem, it's the catching up that's hell!

I wasn't very good at keeping the blog up to date during September and October was even worse.  Usual excuses:  doing too much, getting overtired, collapsing in front of the TV and wood burner after supper every evening.  But if I leave gaps then I short-change Management and I, and our friends too.  At some point in the future I will be irritated with myself for not making the effort to deal with the numerous 'drafts' which I haven't completed, and the dozens of photos waiting patiently to be sorted out.  So here goes:

A gorgeous sunrise
The nursery area in September
Progress on the big deck
more deck progress here too!
Pretty things in bloom last month
Another rant about seed companies
NGS Garden Visit to Hallsenna

Published at the beginning of November:

October rain
Winter is here
A special weekend with special friends
Finally making a start on refurbishing the entrance/mud room

Winter is here

When the clouds have the decency to part, albeit briefly, I can see that all the higher summits have a dusting of snow.  It won't last, the ground is too wet, but winter is definitely here.