We’ve finally found our niche, Part III … Embracing the Rural Life & wanting to make the ESVA our permanent Home

If you need to catch up, check out Part I and Part II before proceeding. Or just read on and if you get lost, I warned you…

Now Chris and I are both working full time. He was working at Wallops Flight Facility and I got a job at Atlantic Animal Hospital. He had a 30 minute (23 mile) commute, I had a 10 minute (4 miles out, 3 miles back) commute. His job paid a LOT more than mine and his hours were more flexible than mine so I couldn’t feel but so bad for him and his commute. Though he did realize it was a good thing that he could make a 23 mile drive in under 30 minutes. In California a 23 mile drive would’ve taken at least 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were going.

I was home long enough with the dogs and cats before I started working to get them well acclimated to their new home and surroundings. Chompers and C.J. were both the most trustworthy dogs on the planet, so I never had to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. I just worried about them chasing critters outdoors, especially at night, and that only happened when we were home with them.

PRODUCT PLUG: Noxgear Lighthound Vest has been a GODSEND for us since moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

Esme sporting her Noxgear Lighthound vest during an evening stroll.

After being at the animal hospital for a few weeks, I had a conversation about the ticks in the area. My dogs were on Frontline Plus but I would still find numerous ticks on them, some were dying but several were engorged, enjoying a nice blood meal. One of my coworkers had suggested we get some chickens on the property. The chickens love to eat bugs, including ticks. Someone else had suggested we get guinea birds. Chris and I discussed it for a few weeks and decided on giving chickens a try. Before we even had a coop built I brought home a dozen little baby Silkies.

It took only a weekend to erect a small chicken coop. I came up with the design and Chris helped me build it. I thought I did pretty good considering I am not a carpenter.

Our first Chicken Coop. It was small, raised and completely enclosed. It served its purpose for a few years before we realized a few design flaws!

A few weeks after we brought home the biddies, they were ready to go to the coop. We confined them in the coop for about 2 weeks, then started letting them out to explore the yard during the days when we were home.

By early Spring the chickens were well acclimated to their home. We would let them out to free range when we were home, and they would return to their coop every evening. I had zero experience with raising chickens prior to bringing these home. I have to tell you, it was pretty easy to raise them from hatchlings to free rangers! I was not familiar with this particular breed of chicken either and thought they were the cutest things ever. They are a small, bantam type chicken with fluffy plumage. We called them our poodle chickens.

Our silkies were very friendly and personable, and loved a snack of stale bread or left-over French fries.

By late spring we started to notice that we were no longer finding ticks on our dogs or us. Then there was a little added bonus that started to appear in the coop…eggs!  And they were the best-tasting eggs we’ve ever had.  When we had extras we’d share with our friends and neighbors.  If we were going to be making a trip to the midwest to visit family, we were sure to bring eggs with us.  Chickens.  Who’d-a thunk it when we were leaving California…

In the years that followed, we both completely embraced the rural lifestyle of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We have met some very amazing, interesting, and wonderful people during our time here.  We had come to truly accept this as our home.  We felt at home.  We wanted it to be our permanent home.

Then things started to get a little rocky for Chris at Wallops.  His project was losing funding and he wasn’t sure whether or not his position would still exist when it was time for contract negotiations.  Every year he managed to still have employment!  Until the summer of 2017.  The project was no longer getting any funding.  At least not enough to keep him on it.  He got laid off.

…To be Continued…  Stay tuned!  And thanks for following along!

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The DNA Results are In…

Actually, I knew the results before I posted.  But you all realized that if you read my original post.

C.J.

Since he was about 5 months of age, which is approximately how old he was when he came into our lives, C.J. has been classified as a Lab Mix. He looked like he might have some semblance of a bully in him too, and probably several other breed mixes. Labrador retriever was the primary, stand-out phenotype. Chompers, C.J.’s namesake, was half lab and C.J. looked like a spitting image of Chompers so we figured it must be so.

C.J. has been living a lie for the last 13 years of his life…

Here are C.J.’s Royal Canin GHA results:

CJ’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

A Labrador Retriever mix he is NOT!  There’s probably a tiny bit in there somewhere according to his “mixed breed” analysis.  C.J. is the poster child of what a Mutt is.  He is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, and peppered with about a dozen other breeds.  The miniature poodle part though?  That gets me rolling!  It explains all of his “princess” moments.

How awesome is that report?  This Genetic Health Analysis screens for over 140 different hereditary conditions.  Not only do I now know that C.J. is a Pitweiler Choodle, but he also has tested clear of over 140 hereditary conditions.  That’s something that sets this pet owner’s mind at ease.

Esme

Then there’s Esme.  She was the reason I wanted to give the Royal Canin GHA a try.  Namely because she was so young, I was curious to find out what she really was because she had some really peculiar behaviors.  I suspected she had some bully in her due to her appearance and her personality, but she had something else that I just couldn’t figure out.

Well, you already know how good my intuition about dog breeds is knowing C.J.’s results. Lab mix.  Pshaw.

Esme is very stand-offish with most of the new people she meets.  She is fearful of others, and there’s no correlation to her fearful behavior (sex, nationality, age).  However, if she is allowed time to get to know someone, she then adores them whole-heartedly.  She is also the epitome of a snuggler.  She loves to be held in your lap, loves to lay next to and half-way on you when you’re laying down, and will curl up next to you while you’re chilling on the couch watching television or reading a book.  She has the appetite of a starving bear and will eat anything and everything she can get into her mouth, even if it’s not intended for ingestion.  And her tracking ability is amazing.  I really need to see if she’d be interested in Nosework because she can definitely sniff out any critter that has passed through our yard.

She was adopted to me as a Pointer mix.  I could buy that easily by appearance alone, but especially after getting to know her.  She has the personality of a pointer, always has to be busy doing something!  She gets bored easily and has all the energy in the world.  She also has pointed a few times.  Most pointers I’ve ever met have been very friendly and personable.  Esme, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, she is friendly and personable, but she lacks trust in strangers.  She needs to spend a little time getting to know you before she’ll trust you.  But once you’ve earned her trust, she’s all yours.

So, what the heck is she?  Here are Esme’s Royal Canin GHA results:

Esme’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

So, there you have it.  Esme is mostly American Staffordshire Terrier (a pit bull) with a side of Wild Dog.  I’m beginning to understand her more and more!  Her trust issues?  Now it makes sense.  Her snuggaliciousness?  That’s all pit bull!

SIDE NOTE:  Pit Bull is a generic term for any of the bull terrier breeds.  It’s an umbrella term for a Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, etc.  The term “Pit Bull” comes from the fact that many of these breeds were used as pit fighting dogs.  Funny thing is, most of them were bred to be nannies.  Hence the cuddling.  They were bred to protect the young while the adults tended to the daily activities of the household.

Again, a neat thing about the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis is that it screens for 140+ genetic mutations/diseases.  Esme’s test came back with one copy of the craniomandibular osteopathy mutation.  I have learned that this is a dominant disorder, so only one copy is required to develop symptoms which means Esme could develop this disease.  Not all dogs with the mutation show clinical signs, but at least now my vet and I know what to watch out for.

How to get your dog tested

Check with your veterinarian to see if they offer the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis. The test requires a small blood sample and is reasonably priced compared to other DNA tests for dogs, and you get so much more than just what your dogs’ primary breeds are!  Even if you have a purebred dog, it’s worth it to have it screened for the 140+ genetic mutations.

If you have a:

  1. mixed breed dog
  2. dog that came to you as a stray
  3. rescue dog

I think you should seriously consider testing them.  Even if they appear to be a particular breed or breed mix, you might be surprised!  C.J. looked so much like a Labrador Retriever mix that I was certain he had to have some in him as a dominant breed.  His results just go to show that looks can be deceiving.  Just do it!  It’s kind of fun!

CJ and Esme … Guess the Breed(s)

A few months ago I decided to have both CJ & Esme DNA tested. I did it not just to learn their breed history, but also because this particular test screened for 140+ hereditary conditions. Royal Canin’s Genetic Health Analysis is a great addition to any dog’s health record.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you may have already seen the results. If you haven’t seen the results, dare to venture a guess as to the top 2 breeds of CJ and Esme! I’ll let you all know what the results were in about 14 days. Let’s hope I don’t go on another blogging hiatus for months and months if the suspense is going to kill you. Here are some photos to go on in the meantime. First, CJ.

 

CJ LOVES the water!

 

CJ’s most favorite activity is fetching his aerobie. Aerobie is life for him. Even in his old age.

 

CJ and his aerobies. His most favorite toy on the planet!

Then Esme.

Esme’s first day in our home.  Esme on the left, CJ on the right.

 

Esme enjoys walks and exploring. She has a great nose and has tracked a fox or two in the back yard.

 

Here is Esme after being with us for a month. Still working on leash manners!

 

“Just look at these tonsils!” Esme has a big yawn, is a lover and wants to be friends with every dog she meets!!! People she’s a bit leary of.

Feel free to comment to ask about personality, habits, etc. CJ is very much a fetcher. Esme does not fetch. Esme is a cuddler! CJ not so much. CJ loves people and tolerates other animals. Esme likes other animals, especially other dogs, but is weird about certain people. CJ is smart! Esme is cute. CJ eats edible things! Esme eats things she shouldn’t. CJ is 13 years old and weighs about 54 pounds. Esme is about a year and a half and weighs 44 pounds.