Thursday, December 16, 2010

Savage And Thor

In November we spent a week or so deer hunting in southern Minnesota with Randy's daughter and son-in-law. Of course I brought my Great Dane with us, and hoped he'd get along fine with their three dogs.
Both older dogs (a neutered male yellow lab and a female cocker spaniel) have been introduced to Savage before, and they really don't pay much attention to him. For his part, Sav pretty much ignores those two also. The un-neutered year old chocolate lab is a different story.Thor is a typical young lab, which is to say, crazy. All he wants to do is play, but my "puppy" took all this attention a little too seriously. Savvy apparently felt he needed to display his dominance, and kept pinning Thor to the ground, growling at him, and generally being a bully. This went on for the whole first afternoon, and luckily the lab is the sort of dog that takes that kind of thing in stride and submits.
Once they got their relationship figured out they both seemed to relax. Thor was very polite around Savage, and Savage was civil, even though he "reminded" Thor occasionally who was boss. On the following days, they became buddies playing outside, completely exhausting themselves tearing around the yard. Still, in the house and around all the people, my boy remained overly corrective of Poor Thor. Therefore, while we were out hunting in the mornings the dogs stayed in different bedrooms, and when we were eating dinners they had to be seperated in the house.
At five years old now, my lovable Savvy is still a gentle boy, but seems to lose his patience more and more with puppies or really energetic dogs. Must be part of him growing older. Even so, it's nice to see him let himself cut loose and play with the youngsters every now and then.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


September and October are generally the times of the year when Savage and I get outdoors the most. There are lots of things to do, cooler weather, beautiful fall colors, and less tourists and visitors on the hiking trails. Of course, lounging on the couch with Eva during football games is an enjoyable part of the season, too.
This year my puppy looks forward to my arrival after work, when we take a walk through the woods to check on my two scouting cameras. These are set up on different deer trails through our property. I mostly maintain them for curiosity's sake, hoping to get a good photo of a big buck, but having the Great Dane galloping around on the deers' turf can't help my chances of seeing anything with antlers.
I did some stream fishing this fall and didn't have much luck, but it's as good an excuse as any to enjoy the last warm days before winter. The pink salmon were running up the shallow rivers in large numbers to spawn, and drove Savvy nuts as he tracked their splashes and pounced on (actually, near) them in the water. I found it very cute, and much more entertaining than the hopeless fishing I was doing.
This coming November brings with it my big guy's fifth birthday. Time passes even more quickly, as Savvy's blue fur turns even whiter around the muzzle.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Savvy And Daddy

Saturday, August 21, 2010

King Of The Hill

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Savage And Eva

Savvy gets a drink of water with a little help from Randy's 3 1/2 year old granddaughter, Eva, at a softball game.
Despite my initial anxiety over my big dog being around children, (he wasn't really socialized with many kids from a young age) Sav has surprised me considerably by being a perfect gentleman around Eva. I still get nervous when he's zooming around acting crazy, but Eva has learned to give him commands and he seems to understand that she is more vulnerable than the rest of the us. He will even walk gently on a lease for her (being constantly supervised, however), which he refuses to do for me! Instead of just tolerating her, he seems to be actually forming a bond with her as she grows older and is able to better communicate with him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Canis Major

The "dog days of summer" are what ancient civilizations called the hottest, most humid days when the "dog star" of the constellation Canis Major rose and set with the sun. It was believed that the star Sirius added it's heat to the heat of the sun and caused a stretch of hot, sultry days.
My Canis Major (big dog) is spending his days while we're at work stretched on the couch in front of the fan. Like all of us, he slows down in the warmest weather, though we still go for our runs in the evening hours.
I'm careful, as always, to limit his intake of water after exercise to hopefully decrease the possibility of bloat (gastric torsion or gastric dilatation-volvulus) which is a life-threatening medical condition that may affect deep-chested breeds including Great Danes, who are at greatest risk. This is one of the unfortunate truths about our awesome breed. I allow Sav only a few gulps of water right after a run, and then refill his water bowl after his panting has slowed down a little, intending to spread the intake of water over a longer period. I have also heard that room temperature water is better than cold in regards to avoiding bloat, so the only really cold water Savvy gets is straight from the lake, in which case it's a little harder to control how much he drinks. He literally submerges half his head and gulps water as quickly as possible when he's extremely hot.
In other (great) news, Savage's allergies have now pretty much disappeared, at least partly due to the tablespoon of emulsified fish oil he gets at each of his two meals a day. I've been searching for a safe treatment to what I have assumed are grass allergies and sensitivity to black fly and no-see-um bites for a couple years. The problem is that once these allergies start bothering him, or insects bite him, my poor boy attempts to soothe himself by licking the affected area, which only serves to irritate it more. This causes his belly and the inside of him legs to erupt in angry red welts, and no amount of aloe I've rubbed on them will eliminate them completely. He was briefly on a steroid medication that solved the problem, but added some scary side effects. Following the prescribing vet's advice I started him on liquid fish oil and haven't looked back.
DSC_0803As long as he's doing well I'm content. You can see the lighter-colored marks on Puppy's belly where his bug bites had caused little scars when they healed, resulting in a change in the pigment of the fur that grew back. I sincerely wish I would have tried supplementing his diet with fish oil when I first noticed the allergies; I think it would have saved him a lot of irritation. Incidentally, fish oil has been recommended by vets for a wide range of conditions, including heart and joint health, because of the omega-3 fatty acids in it. I attribute fish oil to helping my dog, but if you are considering this treatment, please talk to your vet about dosage amounts, and keep in mind that most fish oil contains at least a measurable amount of toxic contaminants, including mercury and dioxins. You can buy so-called "ultra-refined", "cold-pressed", and "purified" fish oil. My budget allows for an emulsified (water soluble) product that is "screened to avoid toxic chemicals and metals". You may want to weigh these considerations before supplementing with fish oil, but it has worked for Savage so far, and I'm thrilled about it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Having just drank a big dish of water on a hot day, Savvy is having some trouble getting his big, slobbery lips back in position, and is looking a little rumpled.
Incidentally, if you look closely at his bottom lip you can see a light pink spot of scar tissue - a souvenir from his run-in with a trap back in 2006.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


This is how Savage reacts to the beeping noises from the depth finder in the fishing boat....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last weekend I took Savage camping with some friends. Of course he loves being outdoors, and spent a lot of time laying in the grass in the sun. He circled the campfire at our tent site, begging for fried fish. He rested on his dog bed in the front of the boat while I fished, and barked at loons calling out on the lake late into the night.
It was very warm during the day, and I forced Savvy to swim in the lake by leaving him ashore and calling him from the boat. He obviously doesn't like this arrangement at all, but he cools off and stops panting so much. The nights were cold, this still being quite early in the season, and temperatures neared freezing. Savvy slept next to me on his dog bed, and I draped my jacket over him to hold in some heat. Hauling the dog bed, plus his raw food in a cooler, and dealing with the big puppy climbing all over the boat, is a little bit more stressful than going camping with humans only. However, it's all worth it when I see him licking marshmallow toasting sticks at the campsite, curled up in the boat sleeping with his head on a paddle, or just relaxing by the lake in the morning sun.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Savage lost a good friend last week. My parents' springer spaniel/husky mix, Brisco, passed away after a long and happy life with them. Brisco, or "Biscuit", was a quiet, good-natured boy whom my mom called "a perfect gentleman". In his younger days he loved nothing better than leaping off their dock and paddling around in the lake, biting at the waves. He followed my parents when they went trapping, cutting firewood, and visiting other homeowners on the lake. Brisco was a favorite of the neighbor's children, who he grudgingly allowed to dress him up in shirts and a sun bonnet.
In the summer Brisco rode in the bow of the boat, his velvety black ears flapping in the wind, and in the winter he sat contentedly in the box my dad built for him on the back of his snowmobile. As he grew older, they towed a plastic sled behind the snowmobile so he could comfortably go out ice-fishing with us.
Biscuit was more than a pet; he was a constant companion to my mom and dad, and friend to all. He was laid to rest in the forest on the island near our family's other beloved pets that have made their last journey.
Run free and in peace, little "cow-colored" dog. We will always remember your life with us as a beautiful gift.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Bad Dog!

This was once a pillow...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Left Behind

My mom sent me this photo from last summer. When I visit my parent's lake cabin, Savage spends a lot of time exploring the island and running wild. But as soon as I start the boat motor he's right on the dock begging to go with me.
In this case my dad and I dared to go out fishing without poor Savvy, and my mom said he stood on the dock and howled for a good five minutes. At home he hardly has any separation anxiety, but apparently when we're at the lake it certainly applies.
Photo credit: Sherry Powell

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring has sprung! It's been a mild winter and an early spring in Northeastern Minnesota. The snow has all but completely disappeared, and the ice on the area lakes is getting thinner every day. Still, we are finding opportunities to go ice-fishing, and Savage finds it fun to run alongside the snowmobile, though the fishing itself doesn't impress him much. He licks the freshly caught trout and eelpout, but will only eat them if they are filleted and preferably lightly steamed. He does enjoy being around my family, where I spend most of my ice-fishing time, and climbing on me and Randy if he thinks we're not paying enough attention to our Baby Dog.

Last weekend we three ended up helping a friend and her husband with some construction on their new house, and I brought along the Great Dane. We spent the whole day working in the sun while Savage ranged around following squirrels and such. Of course, I was apprehensive about bringing him when I knew there would be another dog around, but he got along fine with their miniature dachshund, which was a great relief to me. I've been (perhaps overly) concerned about aggression since Sav had his scary mood swings when he was on steroids. Since then, whenever he meets another dog I'm quite anxious, even though I try to tell myself to calm down because I'm no doubt making the situation worse.
Anyway, after working for awhile, another friend showed up to help, bringing along his black Lab/Great Dane mix. Then another couple of friends arrived with a yellow Lab (both dogs are male, but neutered). I busied myself with work and hoped for the best, and before I knew it, all three "big" dogs were charging around the house, playing and tearing up grass! When we took a break for lunch, I did my best to keep the dogs separated and they laid down in the sand and simply watched the humans eat barbecued burgers on the deck. No fights, and not even a close call!
Lately I'm finding more and more reasons to be proud of my big doggie. I tend to think that at 4 years and 4 months old, he's becoming more mature, even though he still has his silly puppy behaviors and idiosyncrasies. I did fall in love with Savage as a little 8-week-old puppy, and I hope he keeps that loveable "puppiness" for the rest of his life.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Daze

It's been a lazy couple of months for Savage. Between his owner being quite busy at work, and the occasional below freezing temperatures, he hasn't gotten as much exercise and attention as I intended. On days when the temps are above 10 degrees we go for walks along our road, but when it gets colder than that we are both content to stay inside. I try to keep him entertained with his stuffed animals and discovered he loves to shred newspapers during playtime (which is fine, as long as he doesn't do it when we're not playing). His "daddy", Randy, has been laid off from his job on and off this winter so at least Sav has someone around during the day. When I come home from work they are usually both stretched out on the couch together. In January I started taking him for runs alongside my snowmobile and my puppy seemed to be doing great, not biting at the skis, or generally freaking out. After the snow melted off the road a little and it rained for a day, the road turned slick and icy. With his long legs I'm afraid Savvy will slip and hurt himself running, so no more snowmobiling until we get more snow!
I've been trying to keep his unknown allergies under control by giving him fish oil with his meals. I first noticed his scratching and ear infections last summer, and treated the problem with Benadryl, and later, Temaril-P. The ear infections eventually disappeared, and I am keeping up with a routine of cleaning his ears with Mal-Otic ointment once a week. Savvy still scratches his ears occasionally, and licks his feet a lot, so I'm sure he's still dealing his the allergies. He's only been on the fish oil regimen for a month or so and I'm hoping things will improve. I started giving him fish oil capsules but he's an expert at finding pills hidden in treats. The emulsified omega-3 fish oil that I'm giving him now is in liquid form and he actually doesn't mind it when I pour a tablespoon of it over his regular meal.
Nevertheless, my Great Dane is doing all right this winter. His weight is pretty stabilized because I have not been over-feeding him like I used to do, and trying to get him out running as much as possible in the cold. He's still kind of crabby around other male dogs, but I've pretty much decided to keep him on leash when we're around them just in case. On the weekends we've been doing some ice-fishing, which requires 165 lb. Savage to ride on the front of the snowmobile seat while Randy reaches around the dog to drive. Me, I'm sitting in the sled. When we're fishing Savage goes minnow hunting, searching around the ice for unused minnows discarded by other fishermen. He digs them out of the ice and eats them, and if I leave our minnow bag open he has been known to knock it over to get to the little fishies inside. We have to be careful to unhook our bait as soon as we reel in lines because I know Sav would attempt to eat the hooked minnows, too. If we are fishing with friends I'm constantly warning them about this, which doesn't make me the most popular ice fishing partner.
I don't mind. It's all about Savvy.