Friday, August 28, 2015

Taking Care of Dash

           Here is the instruction manual for cleaning and caring for Dash, our guinea pig.

Dash having a tomato half with her new friend, Hedgie.
     Every morning Dash gets fresh water in her water bottle.

Make sure you don't loose the little level indicator "carrot" down the drain when you empty the bottle. 

     She also gets a plate of fresh produce once a day, about a cups worth, usually at night. She can have any combination of Carrots, Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Flat Leaf Italian Parsley and any other veggie listed in the list on the wall in the Guinea Pig room. Baby Tomatoes are fine in moderation.
Here I have Tomatoes, Lettuce and Peppers. She isn't crazy about peppers, and left most of them. I use the yellow plate and mostly put it down inside the litter box, because Guinea Pigs go to the bathroom while they eat. 

     Try to give 3 or 4 kinds of produce excluding fruits (fruits she isn't crazy about anyway). She is most excited about Romaine and Carrots, but I generally dice the baby carrots up fine and save them to use as training treats. The hay is the most important part of her diet and she gets fresh hay every day, since that is what helps grind down her teeth. Guinea pig teeth never stop growing so they need to be worn down by eating hay.
      For a complete list of Guinea Pig Safe foods, here is a link.
Guinea Pig Safe Foods

Clean and Cozy

Soft Granule blend

Leave a couple of Apple Orchard sticks in habitat for Dash to chew on. I stick a couple in the pumice square toy, too.  
     Guinea Pigs need their litter box cleaned every day. Just scoop out the wet bits with the scoop and put in litter disposal bin that I've left in the Guinea Pig room. You don't need to change the whole litter box except once a week, but you do need to scoop out urine and the large clumps of droppings and replace that every day, as urine is toxic to guinea pigs.

     Once a week, so this time only once, maybe next weekend, you will have to dump the whole litter box and spray with the water vinegar solution in the shelf boxes in the guinea pig room.
      You will also need to brush up the "magic pellets" (droppings) from inside her hidely house every day, too, because she hangs out there a lot. Also shake out her cozy from the second floor balcony. Sometimes she goes in there, too.
     Brush the fleece down too, but when you see that the fleece is getting really dirty, you can "flip" them over. You probably don't have to do a deep clean while I am away if you brush things down and flip. She doesn't go on the flippers if they are clean. If you think the flippers are really dirty and need to be replaced, just go to the basement and you will find fresh fleece and liners. Strip the flipper, wipe it down with water/vinegar and replace with liner and fleece cover.
Have a base of the "soft granule" and some "clean and cozy" over it.
 I put her "Queen of Sheba" lounger right on the litter, since she hangs there so much. 
Fill the bag with hay every couple of days and make sure the ends are sticking out and that it is well stuffed. Otherwise, as you know when she gave us that fright, she'll be able to climb inside the bag and "hide" there. Also leave a couple of "Hay Rolls" for her in the litter.
Have some "Hay Rolls" for her and put some toys out for her to play with/knaw on. 
  I leave pellets(about 1/4 worth a day) on the sink so I can feed her a pellet as I walk by the bathroom. I hand feed her and make sure the treat is close to her mouth and hold it loosely, so that she doesn't have to reach up and rip it violently out of my hand. I hate it when she does that, so I don't give her the opportunity. If I bring the pellet to her, she takes them much nicer. While she is eating the pellet, she will let me rub the top of her head with the tip of my finger or give her a little scratch under her jaw.
     Sometimes I hide pellets around the habitat to make a little game for her (hiding them in the cozy on the second floor, behind the hidey house, etc.) and that also tells me later whether she's been moving around the habitat. 
      I train with Dash once a day if I can, since that is as important for her heath as food. 
     Here is a training video of me working with Dash. I couldn't hold the clicker while filming, so I used a verbal marker of "Good". I present the hand and say "Touch" for her to go to hand and I am tearing pieces of lettuce off for her to eat, since we had no carrots. Usually I use both and vary the treat. 
     The hand, fingers together, held still over her head is the cue for her to go up on back legs. I try to mark at what I think is the height of her stretch up, not the touching of my fingers (although I did do that once in the video).  
     I use my hand and "Touch" to get her into position to go up the ramp and as I see her commit, I say "Ramp" and the verbal marker "Good" as she is going. Normally, I'd click the clicker while she is moving up the ramp, but I'm a little slow with the verbal marker in this video. She usually goes right down the ramp after her treat. 


Dash was sneezing last week, but I haven't noticed it this week, and her energy level seems fine, but if you do notice that she is being very lethargic, or not eating, call her vet. The number for Animal House of Chicago (her vet) is in with the list of foods on the wall in the Guinea Pig room. 
I hope you find this instruction manual clear and helpful. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Breaking Boards for the Spirit Challenge

Yesterday was the last day of the Thousand Waves Spirit Challenge and we finished strong with an impressive breaking challenge, but we still have three days to help raise funds for Thousand Waves. Our dojo is a wonderful place that runs karate programs in partnership with the Rehabilitation institute of Chicago (doing karate with children with disabilities), as well as outreach self defense programs all over the city. It is run as a not for profit business and our fundraising also helps people who would not be able to afford classes attend our school. Please consider donating any amount by going my donation page. Just go to Janet's Spirit Challenge donation page.

The challenge was to perform a kata (a karate form) while breaking with techniques in the kata.  I performed Seido 4, and broke three boards out of five total. I'm particularly fond of this backwards elbow break while standing on one leg.

My husband Dan, a black belt at Thousand Waves, made several impressive breaks during this challenge as well.
Don't mess with Dan

It is really empowering to break a board and although I was very nervous it was really fun to do this breaking challenge. It makes the artform feel more real and gives you immediate feedback on the techniques. By the way, I didn't hurt myself either, because I was using proper technique. That in itself makes me feel great!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Tuna with Sweet Corn Relish

My wonderful husband took a class in Seafood at the Chopping Block recently. He cooked one of the dishes for me and it was a complete and utter success. Grilled Tuna with Sweet Corn Bacon Relish. It was fantastic. He said it was fun and it was so good, I hope he'll make it again sometime. Although it won't be nearly as nice as Dan's, I'll even offer to help chop!

 Dan is excellent at chopping.

Dan mixing Aioli, which I found out is just another word for mayo.

Our lovely copper Kitchen Aid.

Tuna with marinade before Dan seared it.

Sweet corn and bacon relish.

The Final Product-yummm!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Picnic in the Park

      I know that this isn't Alaska, but Chicago in the summertime can be nice, too. A couple of weeks ago I trailered Gypsy to the park on my Oma bike. We set up a little picnic.

Gypsy sitting nicely by the Nature Walk near the Zoo.

Gypsy enjoying a stick.

      Gypsy and I enjoyed our time together under a tree. She chewed on a stick and I listened to music while looking up at the blue sky. Not as dramatic as Alaska, but nice just the same. Hope everyone is having a good summer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grizzly Bears on the Last Day in Alaska

     On our last day, we visited Katmai National Park, where the grizzly bears go to fish for salmon. When the float plane taxied up to the beach, we spotted a mamma bear with her cub on the beach. The pilot told us we'd have to "hustle" away when we got out, because we were going up on the beach about 100 yards from them.

We took a float plane to the park.

Which is the only way to reach it.

Glacial rivers.

     When we arrived, we had to go to the visitors center for an orientation on bear safety. The lodges in the National Parks are all sort of log cabin style.

The Ranger was giving her speech when...

      A bear walked right through the middle of camp past our window! This is a photo I took of the bear from inside the visitor center.

The mamma bear and cub walking along the river.

     The bears were everywhere, springing out of rushes and trees. The rangers would close the bridge when the bears came by and people would have to wait on the secured platforms until the bear went away.
Salmon spotting.

     While we were watching the bears, something about them seemed familiar to me. I realized I had a little bear waiting for me at home.


My little house bear.
     You can see the resemblance, can't you? They even look the same when they are shaking off.

Grizzly shaking off.
Gypsy shaking off.

      The higher falls were where the bigger bears hung out. Better salmon catching there.

Look how close this guy is to the crowds of people on the opposite side of the bridge.
     There were also people out fishing for salmon in the streams, which I thought was nuts in this bear country.
He'd just finished chasing a bunch of fisherman out of the water and now he was going to have a sit down.
The bears rub against the trees to get their winter coat off.
This guy was surprised on the trail and the ranger threw a rock at him to get him to turn around and go back to the beach.

Our float plane home.

Louise and I about to leave.

Louise getting on the plane.

Taking off from the lake.
     Once we land we get right back on a plane for Chicago. It has been a wonderful experience. But I know I have my very own little bear at home, so the wildlife continues! Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the photos along with me, it was fun to be able to share. Happy Trails!