Week 2: Pooing machines

Katie and Taylor have been with us for a whole week now and we’re heading into week 2. The changes in them are amazing, they are so much more sturdier, there are no more worms and they have grown so much.

Pit bull X puppyThey’re eating really well and they’re full of energy. All this good quality food has turned them into pooing machines, hence the blog post title. However, because they’re being fed the good quality food their poos (and excuse me here, I’ll try not to get too graphic) are less frequent, more predictable, more solid and less smelly. All reason enough to invest in good quality food for your pooches in my opinion!!

We’re keeping accidents to a minimum by taking them out the back straight after eating, and as soon as they wake up, when they are guaranteed to need to go to the toilet. I wouldn’t say this is house training, they’re a bit too young yet. But it saves us the constant cleaning and it is hopefully setting up good habits.

Pit bull X puppyThey pretty much sleep, eat and poo. But the gaps between sleeping are getting longer and longer and it’s so funny to watch them tumbling and wrestling with each other. They’re also getting more interested in toys in the last day or so. We have plenty of puppy toys left over from Ollie and Mia, which is great because puppies need soft toys that won’t damage their teeth. There are no real discernible personalities yet but they’re beginning to emerge.

Pit bull X puppyOllie is still pretty much ignoring their existence, but Mia is becoming more and more curious. She still isn’t playing with them and growls if they get too close but every so often I find her inching closer and closer to them to have a sniff. With each of our other foster pups it has taken about a week for her to really start playing so there may be hope yet.

Pit bull X puppy

Meditating on Knitting

Knitting in the round with double pointed needles

This has been going round and round my head for the last while. Just what is it about knitting that I find so relaxing? You hear it all the time from knitters and non-knitters, how therapeutic it is, and I’m struggling to put my finger on the button of exactly why.

My brain has a way of running away with itself at times. Who’s doesn’t? But when I pick up the sticks and string everything else just melts away. R said to me recently as I was knitting away “does your head not flood with thoughts while knitting” or words to that effect. And you might think that would be the case. That the relative repetitiveness of the task would allow those pesky thoughts to attack.

However, the exact opposite is true for me. I find myself falling into an almost meditative state. One stitch at a time. Stick and string. Just one stitch at a time, watching a pattern emerge before my very eyes. Watching an object take shape in my hands, through my hands. Just one stitch at a time. No pressure to finish a whole project, or even a whole row. It’s just one stitch at a time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Week 1: Gratuitous Puppy Pics

Last week I talked about fostering, why animals might need a foster home and what is expected from foster parents. This week I’m putting my money where my mouth is and I bring you: cute puppy pictures.

Four week old pit bull puppyMeet Katie and Taylor, two four week old Pit Bull X puppies. They are named after the Irish World Champion [and now Olympic Gold Medalist] female boxer Katie Taylor, because strength and power can be feminine too. I’m not going to go into the politics of Pit Bulls here other than to say I personally believe there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

Four week old pit bull puppy

Katie

These guys will stay with us until they are nine weeks old and ready to be put up for adoption. They are adorable and I am totally in love already. They are so tiny and ideally would still be with their mother until they are eight weeks old. The Dublin SPCA have given us a crate, blankets, hot water bottle, toys and food. They’re on extra special baby puppy food because they’re so young. When we go our or during the night we have the crate set up in the utility room and the settle down pretty quickly.

Four week old pit bull puppy

Taylor

When you get over the constant cleaning up after them they are so much fun. They want to be in your arms all the time and love wrestling and playing with each other. You don’t need a telly when there are puppies around. I’ll try and post an update every week on their progress, they’re going to grow very, very quickly.

Become a Foster Angel

Foster a puppy, dog, cat or kitten

Most people who know me, know that I am just crazy about animals. In fact, sometimes I think I prefer dogs to humans. So much less complicated, dogs are pretty much transparent about what they expect from you – cuddles, walks and food.

I volunteer with the Dublin SPCA and have done for nearly three years now. In the last little while I’ve also fostered puppies sporadically. Most animal rescues run some form of foster program, with some rescues relying solely on a network of foster families rather than operating a premises. With fostering you get all the benefits of owning a pet without the long term commitment. And puppy cuddles, did I mention the puppy cuddle? It’s so rewarding knowing you’re helping give an animal the best start in life or a safe home to recuperate in. Oh yeah, and puppy cuddles.

Foster kitten

(c) halfadreamaway.com

What is needed from a foster parent?

Your job as a foster parent is to look after the kitten or puppy in your care. With the DSPCA you’ll need to have your own transport to the shelter in the Dublin Mountains to pick the kittens or puppy up. And bear in mind that if the animal is sick and needs treatment you may need to come back to the shelter on a weekly basis.

You also need to be home for large parts of the day as the kittens or puppies are generally very young or are recovering from an illness and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. You don’t need a bit house or a big garden. If you’re fostering kittens they can be kept in a spare bedroom or even bathroom and with puppies you simply need a garden that’s secure.

The DSPCA foster program provides the food, litter trays, food bowls and bedding for you.

Foster puppyWhy do animals need foster care?

Animals may need to go into foster care for a variety of reasons. The animal may be too young and need to go to a foster home until they are old enough to be rehomed. We are in the middle of kitten season so the DSPCA, and I’m sure and other cat welfare groups, are overrun with kittens. Kittens often end up at the shelter from a very young age, even as you as a few days old. Quite often their mother isn’t with them so they need special care and attention. Puppies might also be too young to be vaccinated and then rehomed.

Some animals need to go into foster care because they are have an illness such as mange, flu, kennel cough, ringworm or are even recovering from an operation. In these cases the foster family may need to give the kitten or puppy medication and return to the shelter for treatment throughout the foster period. In some cases a foster home where there are no other animals may be needed.

Older animals may need some socialisation. They may be nervous or simply not used to being in a family situation and need some help adjusting to human contact or living with other animals. Once the animals come back to the shelter they are put up for adoption.

(c) halfadreamaway.com

How long do animals go into foster care for?

That very much depends on the reason for foster care. If they are too young to be rehomed that might stay with the foster family until they have had their vaccinations. If they are recovering from an illness the length of foster will depend on how long they need medication for. In the case of the DSPCA they always state, to the best of their knowledge, how long the animal will need foster care for. This can range from a week to a month to two months in some cases.

What happens if I fall in love?

That’s ok! If you totally fall in love and can’t bear to give the kitten or puppy back you can adopt the animal, but you would be subject to the usual adoption criteria. This is so common it’s known as ‘failed fostering’.

Ok, where do I sign up?

If you live in the Dublin area and are interested in fostering with the DSPCA, you can read more about their foster program here. Otherwise you can contact your local animal rescue to see if they run a fostering program. You won’t regret it!

Dog days in Dún Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire pierWith the help of Julie, Siobhan and Twitter I bought a new lens for my camera over the weekend. It’s a 50mm f/1.8D AF lens and I loves it. So we headed out to Dun Laoghaire with the dogs and the lens (attached to my camera) today and I had some fun.

Ollie having fun in Dun Laoghaire pierI still don’t really know what I’m doing technically and I definitely overdid the blurry background a bit on some shots, but I got some that I’m really pleased with. Ollie loves them 🙂

I’m not sure if this is the east or the west pier, it’s the one on the left as you face the sea and it’s a lot quieter than the other pier. It’s a really lovely walk for the humans and full of lots of different smells for the dogs. Mia was a little too interested in what was over the edge for our liking though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh look at the blurry, I love the blurry. Although I really need to learn when enough is enough. And I love rust. Isn’t the colour amazing against the green.

All this walking and sniffing is thirsty work. This is also one of the few photos where the dogs were still enough for me to actually take a photo. But they enjoyed themselves and that’s the main thing.

Project photography

So I love photography and I love knitting. On Saturday I had the opportunity to combine the two in a Project Photography workshop at my LYS This Is Knit. It was a good mix of the tecnical and practical. We spent the morning going through staging and lighting and then camera settings. I already had some understanding of ISO, aperture, shutter speed and white balance, but every time these concepts are explained to me I seem to grasp them a bit better.

After lunch we went to St. Stephen’s Green to put what we had learned into practice. The weather was conspiring against us, but we made the most of it, sheltering in the bandstand. This also made for some nice staging.

The first project I brought with me was the Hourglass Throw.  I used 14 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I had bought to knit a jumper with. I never made it past the neckline of the jumper so now it’s a blanket. This is a gift for an aunt. It was a lovely knit, and the pattern repeat was nearly just about long enough that I didn’t loose my mind.

I was worried that it would only stretch to a lap blanket, but when I blocked it it really grew. I’d say it grew by about 50%, the magic of blocking. I forgot to measure it pre-blocking, but post blocking it’s 100cm x 110cm. It’s 8 pattern repeats wide (166 stitches) by 7 pattern repeats long. I basically knit until I ran out of yarn.

The second project was a Clara dress that I knit for a friend’s daughter. I love the shape of skirt and the leaf detail at the neckline. It was a joy to knit.

I was a bit worried that the breeze would blow the dress into the pond but thankfully that didn’t happen. I’m really happy with these photos but I also know I can do better. I’m currently working on two baby cardigans (which are also gifts but are not purple) so I’ll have to play around with the camera a bit more when they’re done.

I often find myself photographing details and I like the pretty blurry backgrounds like in the photo below, so the two photographers running the workshop may or may not have persuaded me to buy a new lens that will help achieve that. It may or may not be winging itself to me right now, so I’ll post some photos when I’ve had a good play with it.