Monday, September 7, 2009

20 pounds lighter and a happy boy!

When Harley lived here before, the previous owners used to chain him when he was outdoors because they couldn't control him.  And they did, literally, use a chain.  They had taught him to aggressively chase everything in site. Now, he is free to prance around the property, look for toys in the yard bushes, and carry his soccer ball around while following us all over the yard. He says he is happy as a clam and he is a very well behaved dog -- for a dog.

Harley acquired this ball himself during garbage week, on one of his nightly walks with dad.  In fact he brought home a couple before finding this one, and as this last one proved to be the best, the others were returned for recycling to any dog that wasn't as lucky as Harley was with his new prize.  If he had his way this ball would go everywhere with him.

We don't have a fence, but Harley knows his boundaries, and when the neighbours want to approach him, he knows to look for permission before interaction. Other neighbours have dogs that bark tediously, for hours, and we have a dog that only barks to tell everyone "I'm having a great time playing with my owner," with the only other barking happening when we have intruders on the property. Barking doesn't happen with friends unless the friends wind him up and encourage it. It is such a happy bark and I love it when an animal's eyes sparkle!

Thanks to confirmation from Deb Zoran in her presentation last year, I knew that measuring out Harley's 'low calorie' food was the only way to reduce his size as much as we needed to. We started at 68 pounds when we took him in, and he now weighs 48 pounds. My partner did manage to reduce ten pounds of his weight by walking Harley, but the other ten was a little harder to accomplish and has required patience and time. This, of course, was complicated by Harley's intolerance of chicken, and the need to eventually resort to a veterinary product for his itching. This product does seem to be keeping him healthy and happy, so for now we aren't experimenting with other off the shelf foods we might prefer. We do, of course, give Harley treats of fish, and he has had freeze dried duck and quail hearts that haven't caused a reaction, which is great. Some dogs may suffer from general "poultry" allergies, but I am beginning to suspect that this would be caused by the food given to the "poultry" in those cases, not the food given to the dog. I am not up on the chemical composition of different poultry meats, so this is only an opinion on my part.

We have found Harley loves the freedom of shorter fur when the weather is warm, so we have been having it shaved at least twice each summer. He is looking younger and sleek these days and I will post a photo when I can find a program that will adapt to this new computer with "Vista" rejecting every choice I make.

If we are being honest, here, since the last posting we had to have a benign lump removed that reduced Harley's weight by one pound, and his fur, when full, is also another pound, so by mid winter he will probably gain a pound unless we work really hard to reduce his body fat by a pound before that. The difference in personality and health is so great that we must do what we can to preserve it.

The one problem we still have with Harley's allergy to chicken is that while we are very careful not to feed him anything that has chicken, there are the crows that like to sit up on the chimney and shuck oysters, or chew on the bones they find in garbage.  These get left behind, and we can't always be aware of what is lurking in a corner of our yard, so have to try to be diligent regarding whether he is after something a little too interesting.

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