Walking 15 Irish Wolfhounds

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

It’s now becoming an annual Christmas tradition… This weekend we went on a lovely walk with 14 other Irish Wolfhounds and their people down in Mission, BC.

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

Our own year old baby, Tully, had a blast hanging out with other equally giant dogs. None of the puppies were even intimidated by his size, and he romped and frolicked with the other wolfhounds to his heart’s content.

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

It was great to connect with other wolfhound people, commiserate, and  ask questions. For example, we weren’t sure if Tully was lean enough, as he’s been packing on the weight in the last month or so. It’s hard to tell, though, since we don’t have any other wolfhounds to compare him too. It was great to get the feedback (although I’m sure Tully won’t appreciate that he’s going to have to lose 10lbs.)

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our boy and more beautiful wolfies! Last year’s walk pictures too!

Tully the Irish Wolfhound Rowan Family Tree

Our little puppy, now 120lbs

You’ve likely seen him on my Instagram account (my daughters say all I post there any more is Tully,) but I thought I’d do a little post on how our wee pup is doing.

Tully's MOSTLY awesome with the kids. They don't like his stuffie stealing habits, though. Nothing drives an 8 year old girl more crazy than stuffie theft. Oh, and drool.

Nothing drives an 8 year old girl more crazy than stuffie theft. Oh, and drool.

Tully is doing great. He’s sweet and gentle, and loves to get hugs several times a day. He just settles his massive bum on your lap, or sidles up to you and leans in, expecting your arms to wrap around his neck.

A lap dog...

A lap dog…

He’s is bigger and bigger, although his rate of growth has slowed now at seven months.

That's a kind sized bed...

That’s a king sized bed…

I’m expecting when I take him to the clinic today for him to weigh in around 120lbs. That’s a whole lot of muscly dog. As Jason commented, most of the time he takes up less space than his size. Tully will curl up in a ball on the bed (yup, that no-bed pledge went out the window) or sprawl across the then floor and we simple step over him. But sometimes his size is a thing. Despite his usual heeling and good behaviour, I found about 20lbs ago that if he sees a squirrel, or wants to meet someone, then it is hard for me to hold him. So I got a no-pull harness, which really helps. I love it so much, I started selling them at the shop. Last night, though, I took it off and got into a peck of trouble. I was running him around the park on a 30foot long leash, and had attached it to his collar instead of harness, so he wouldn’t trip. Mistake. He saw a shitzu on the other side of the park, and took off straight for it (to say hello in his friendly huge way,) and I got dragged across the park on my knees/belly. Not pleasant. I am so bruised up today, and have now pledged that we won’t have any park exercising without the harness.

Walking the big boy on the dog beach in Summerland. Note the no-pull harness...

Walking the big boy on the dog beach in Summerland. Note the no-pull harness…

Other aspects of his bigness are just management issues, however. Oddly, he eats a lot. lol. We actually had to take him to the dentist, because his bottom canines were growing into the top of his mouth. Yikes! So for the last few weeks, he’s had to eat mush, and I’ve switched to an all raw diet before I really wanted to. But to give you an idea, every day he eats four pounds of ground chicken, four eggs, six cups of brown rice, a couple of cups of squash and green vegs, kelp, vitamins, minerals and calcium. When he gets his dental appliance out (right after Harambee in two weeks!) then he’ll be eating more chicken necks and tripe for meat, which will cut the food costs in half, and I won’t have to additionally supplement with calcium as much.

Handsome boy!

Handsome boy!

Tully still fit in the back of our station wagon… Mostly. He has to do a bit of a squish dance. The only trouble in the heat (we are into our hottest summer ever in the Okanagan, so this is a real problem as next week is supposed to be 38-42…) so I’m thinking of getting a little fan that pushes our AC from the front of the car to the back, just to help him cool. Generally, he doesn’t handle heat well, so we practice siesta at home and he just goes out in the morning and night. Whereas the other dogs can dig cool holes under the back deck, he doesn’t fit! So Tully has been working on some craters in the back yard, and mostly hunkers down in the shade of the apple tree.

Downward dog...

Downward dog…

His training is going well.. Tully can sit and lie down and the like. But more than that, we’ve been working on skills that make our lives easier. Since his head is more than counter height, he’s learned to lie down in the kitchen whenever I’m making food. When he does this, he gets a little nibble thrown down to him ever now and then, and that keeps him off the counters 90% of the time. His shoulder is table height, so we do the same thing at the table… Make him lie down, and then he gets something, at some random point during the meal. It works pretty well, actually. Otherwise you can imagine he’d be helping himself constantly.

Sofas are his favourite. He's claimed this chaise as his own in the living room.

Tully’s claimed this chaise as his own in the living room.

When we are at the clinic, Tully has a mat behind the counter. He lays on the mat, and if someone comes in, I either let him slowly meet them or put him hastily in the back. He would much prefer to meet people, as he is SUPER friendly. And he’s great with people. Everywhere we go, people stop us and ask “what breed is he?” Or occasionally, “is he an Irish Wolfhound? I’ve always wanted one!” He gets so much attention, it’s almost like when the girls were little and everyone wanted to talk about them. But it is a lot easier, since I don’t have to worry about Tully’s privacy. I just have to worry about his manners. “You can pet him! But please wait until he sits down first.” It’s a work in progress.

I have no idea who broke the pillow!

I have no idea who broke the pillow!

I think Tully has a lot of potential as a working dog. He went to the girls’ grade three class once a month for the last five months, to visit, and be measured and weighed. They made a class project out of him, and practiced all sorts of math. “How much did his tail grow from last month?” He was an angel, honestly. He’s so amazing with kids.. I think that’s his real strength. If we were to do any special work, I would likely get him to work in schools. He’s suited to being mauled by 20 kids at a time.

Sugar and Tully

Sugar and Tully

My previous dog, Hamish, was a therapy dog. We used to volunteer at the U of A hospital. Those who have been following my blog for a long time may recall that our dearest Hamish (really, our first kid,) died tragically of cancer just a year before the girls came home. Hamish left a gaping hole in Jason and I’s hearts… We loved him so much. Even though Tully looks nothing like Hamish did, there are so many similarities, we find that hole being filled up, six years later. He goes to work with me, like Hamish did. Just like Hamish, Tully is very empathetic, and seeks you out if he thinks you are hurt or feeling sad. He’s smarter than we thought possible, and plays some of the same games that we played with his predecessor. Like the finding game, where I show him one of his many stuffies, and then hide it for him to find around the house. He’ll bypass his other toys, just to find  the one I’ve showed him. Pretty cool. Any mainly he’s just an easy pup (drag across the park as the exception.) he wants to please, is easily trained, and share his love with all that meet him.

At five and a half months... Tully and me!

At five and a half months… Tully and me!

In short, Tully is a joy. I’m so glad I got him, and happy to spend my days in his company.

Even if he's huge, he's still a puppy!

Even if he’s huge, he’s still a puppy!

Ecotherapy: Spring gardening with my puppy

It’s the first day back to school after spring break, and I just finished an hour of yard cleanup in the backyard. The birds are chirping, and I can see Laughlin and Tully are sunning themselves on the back deck. (Maggie, meanwhile, has chosen a quiet place in the sunny living room.)

We’ve been working away at the yard for almost a month now… Boy! It takes a lot of work to keep our little backyard homestead running.

Gardening with my puppies

Gardening with kids and dogs is a messy business. First of all, we don’t look outside for four months of the year. Except to pooper scoop of course. But besides that, we just let everything run amok over the winter months. Then in the spring, there is a lot to do. There are toys, garbage, and overgrown vines everywhere.

The kids add a bit to the mess as well, as they are finally getting outside and playing our d the neighbourhood. Below is a “nest” they made in the front yard magnolia tree last night. They’ve also set up the hammock, despite the apple branches still all over the ground.

Kids and spring gardening

On top of the usual maintenance, we didn’t really do a lot last fall. We were so in the midst of starting our clinic that we didn’t even eat all the tomatoes on the vine. Sacrilege! We just didn’t have the time. So there were tomato vines to take down, perennials to cut back, and all the usual autumn maintenance as well, on top of the spring work this year.

There is something deeply satisfying about all this work, however. Last year in the spring when I was dealing with bad health and stress at work, I took to starting my day with a half hour in the garden. It was my own little ecotherapy program. I found that every day I did this, my heart was later and my productivity was higher. There are many studies that show our connection with nature feeds the soul, and focuses the mind. It’s good for me to start the day with some exercise and fresh air, and the dogs love being outside with me together. They are calmer and more content through the day as well.

Spring flowers coming up

Gardening with the puppy has its challenges! This morning I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder. I usually let the chickens run around the backyard when I am doing some gardening, so they can get some extra greens. Tully is still learning about chickens, and how, specifically, to leave them alone. His sight hound instinct comes out, and I can see his body strengthening, lengthening, and aiming right for the hens who at peacefully nibbling. Then he bounds with joy towards their fluffy bodies. I had to throw myself on him a couple times, as he was galloping towards the poor birds, who were by this point madly clucking and running away.

It’s a work in progress. Just like a spring garden.

I remind myself that Maggie, especially, was horrible about the chickens when they first arrived, and now neither of the two older dogs pay them any mind. I will just have to be patient with him, and soon, too, he will be chicken proof. And as I train him to leave the chickens alone, I will also get more peaceful time in the garden.

Our giant baby: raising an Irish Wolfhound pup

It's now been exactly a month since we brought home our new baby Irish Wolfhound, Tully. Boy has he grown! He's going from 26 pounds up to 50 pounds. Yes… That's doubling his weight, and doubling his size. All in a month. Everything is giant sized with a giant baby.

It's been fascinating watching him grow at such a quick pace, and getting to know him better as his personality develops. Tully means “gentle” in Gaelic, and that's exactly what he is. He's loving, fun, always up for an adventure, and exceedingly gentle and calm. For a puppy, anyway.

Raising a giant baby has had its unique challenges in unique situations. Everything is bigger!

Most puppies sleep, eat, play, and poop. And Tully is the same… Just everything is Tully sized!

“Little brother,” as I refer to him in relation to our cairn terrier Laughlin, needs some serious physical space. In preparation for his coming, we emptied out my office in the kitchen, and moved it into my workshop. We replaced the office with a leather futon, which we got from some kind people, secondhand. I say kind, because we got it for $60, delivered!

For the first week or so, we kept it up as a sofa, but it became obvious that Tully's legs outgrew the seat.

So we flattened it out, and now it is Tully's main haunt. Tully has three naps a day, and thankfully, mostly sleeps through the night. His naps are either on the sofa, if he puts himself down, or in his crate, which is in my workshop.

The crate was originally shortened up, so that he wouldn't sleep in one end and pee in the other. But again, his legs grew so that he needed to stretch out.

So Sugar and I made him a new crate mat out of camping phone. Yes, I own a pet store, and I can assure you that they do not make crate mats, 4 inches thick, readily available. So it was easier for us to just make one. Completely Sound of Music, as we made it out of old curtains.

His favourite place to sleep, however, is the back of the station wagon. He loves going on trips, even if it is doing errands around town. He'll spend hours in the back of the car, perfectly happily. But it is starting to be spring here… So we have to work more on the crate training so that we can leave him not only in the car, the clinic, and the backyard… But his crate inside as well.

 

Tully eats four times a day. Most puppies eat three times a day… But quickly growing giant puppies need to eat even more often. So four times a day I measure out his kibble and his homemade food, add probiotics, fish oil, and digestive enzymes, and grow the puppy a little bit more. Interestingly, most large breed puppy foods, however properly balanced for dogs who will be 50 to 100 pounds, have too high of calcium percentage for puppies that will be, er, 160 pounds, like Tully.

So we give him two thirds of his calories through a balanced kibble, that has a good calcium/phosphorus ratio and other vitamins and minerals, and one third of his calories through homemade food. I make up a batch every week or so of homemade goodness… We have no shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Okanagan, even at this time of the year. I mix them up with eggs from the backyard, and other proteins such as an old bison roast from the freezer or some leftover roast turkey. I plunk ingredients into a nutritional calculator and calculate how many portions the recipe makes, so that I can add to his diet each day, without growing him too quickly.

But Tully grow so fast, twice a week I have to adjust how much he is feeding. You can do the math… He's grown between 6 to 7 pounds every week! Jason says there are two reasons now why I can't be hit by a bus. He would never be able to do the girls' hair, and he would never be able to figure out Tully's diet.

Tully loves to play… He fetches wonderfully, and loves to play tug as well. He has his own little collection of toys, and love stuffies as much as our old dog Hamish did. He also likes the prints around in the yard… It's somewhat earth rumbling when he jumps about, and comical, as he looks like a young cold with his gangly legs. Unfortunately, Tully has decided that he is a digger. Dang it. I've been warned against this, and know I will likely have volcano craters in my backyard in the future. Interestingly, Laughlin doesn't like his yard being dug up, though. So every hole that Tully makes, Laughlin pees in it to deter him from it next time.

Just like other puppies, Tully occasionally mouths and play bites. It's Tully sized though!

So his mouth easily fits my arm or the girls' legs. Whenever they wear a new set of leggings, he gives it a try… But the girls are really good at stopping, yelling “NO!” And then the other one running for his bunny to distract him. Luckily, even his bites are gentle.

This Friday, he is going to grade 3 for the first time! The kids are doing measurement in school, so I figured out a worksheet and the grade three kids are going to measure him once a month for four months. His tail, the circumference of his chest, his height, is weight… everything grows so dramatically, it will be fun for them to compare over a short period of time.

Totally has also been out to the pharmacy, back-and-forth to the clinic, and a little walks. He gets very tired if he walks more than three blocks… Seriously! The tires out easily, but everywhere he goes, people know him, call out his name, and stop to give him a pet. I'm teaching him to sit every time he meet someone, so that when he's older he won't accidentally knock anyone over.

Oh and the last thing puppies do… Tully has to go outside after every meal, after every time playing, and after every nap. If you do the math, that's at least 12 times a day. Wow! What a lot of work. I did forget how much care and attention a new baby takes… And I have to say that the number of times he goes outside is giant sized as well. But he's doing super well with his host training, so I anticipate he will be pretty bomb proof within the next month. Thank goodness I am around most of the time to be shuttling him in and outside.

I hope you enjoy the pictures! My mother-in-law said that my children have been replaced on social media by my puppy. Just for her… Here is a picture of the girls and Tully about a week ago.

He has grown 8 lbs since then.

 

 

 

Introducing Tully! The Extended Version…

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My mother, auntie and I drove up to Mistyglen in Northern Alberta today. As I write this, we’ve just left Edmonton in the dark to return back to Calgary for the night. My mom is driving, and Tully, my new Irish Wolfhound baby, is stretched out in the two seats beside me.

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We left in the morning from Calgary. After a stop in Edmonton to fuel up on Pho, we drove the straight lines of rural Alberta all the way up to Newbrook, and hour and a bit North of Edmonton. We arrived at the breeders, and I got to meet the pups one on one.

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As a simple version of a puppy personality test, I lifted each one of them in the air, rolled them over, called them and walked away. We quickly narrowed it down to two dogs… Mr. Chill, the blue collar boy, and Mr. Curious, the orange collared boy. And then I agonized… Which should it be?

While I pondered, we went out the kennels and visited with all the other dogs.

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The orange collared one went along with the crowd, but the blue collared one stayed behind, all by himself at the house. I decided then that he was too independent for me, and appointed Mr. Curious the new moniker, Tully. Here he is shown in the picture with his grandfather, who is nine years old.

After I chose Tully, our breeder told me that he had fantastic potential for showing. And even though we had said we wanted just a pet, that she would be very happy for us to change the agreement down the road, and show him. So we will see! In the meanwhile, he will be the beloved newest addition to our family of furry, finned and feathered folk.

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After signing the papers and talking through a bunch of questions, we bundled him up in the car, in the back seat with me. Tully cried or howled all the way down to Edmonton, over an hour. Poor dear. He didn’t want to pee or drink or eat… All he wanted to do was shove his head in my jacket and snuggle.

When we stopped at the fast food joint in Edmonton, Tully was relieved to get out of the car. He’d never been on leash before, but he padded along beside me, sat quietly at the picnic table while I ate, and peed on the snow. He’s not vaccinated yet, so I shouldn’t have technically done that, but we needed to eat and he needed to pee. Since he hasn’t gone through his puppy vaccines yet we will have to wait to introduce him to the world in person until about five weeks from now, until he’s had his first and second shots.

Mom says “he’s such a gentle puppy… So soft and cuddly! But a bit gangly like a teenager, too.” Both she and my auntie think I made the right choice. And I think I did too! He’s gentle and peaceful, just like his Gaelic name, Tully.