Sunday, 30 October 2011

Happy "Howl"oween

Little miss pumpkin

Stella .....Roar, does my costume look scary Riley?       Riley ...... ah no!

In case you are wondering Riley HATES to wear any clothing so dressing him up is not an option.  He does have a special halloween collar that I need to dig out before the trick or treaters show up tomorrow night.  I didn't plan for a costume for Stella but I walked by a 75% off sign and was hooked.

Halloween is also Stella's five month birthday.  She weighs in at 29.6 pounds today and the poor girl is deep in the process of teething.  Below see a pic of her current double set of some puppy teeth alongside the adult teeth.

and here is a flashback pic from our breeder which shows the little miss when she just past five weeks old.  What a cutie pie!

and just because I love him here is a blurry pic of Riley at around the age of five weeks.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Stella's Adventures

I am continuing to work with Stella on obstacles while we are out and about.  My hope is that this will help develop her rear end awareness as she continues to grow.  Additionally she will be comfortable with being in strange positions and have confidence about attempting new obstacles which should help us with dog sports later in her life.  Plus we have fun!

We also attend classes two days per week with her and am very pleased with her focus and ability to work/play with me in distracting environments.  She has gained a lot of confidence when meeting other dogs and plays very nicely.  All in all I just love this puppy! 

Here is a video of some of our recent adventures.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

How many is too many?

For me two is perfect and apparently three is a bit too much.  Lucy was an only dog for ten years until we got Riley.  We basically got Riley because my mom got his littermate Sam.  My dad had passed the year earlier and she wanted some companionship in her home plus it made all us kids feel better to have a dog in the house with her alone.  The two puppies did not live together but have spent a lot of time together over the years and have a close relationship.  Sam is usually here about one week per month and at times we have had him for extended periods.

The two boys always did very well with Lucy and have a great relationship themselves.  The only thing that I dislike is that the two are very competitive with each other and feed off each others energy levels.  I love Sam but there are a lot of times that the two dogs together make me crazy.  Sam lacked a bit when socialized as a pup plus he lacks a lot of self control as my mom has never worked extensively with him.  I've worked a bit with him over the years and he has the basics but he should have more regular work and handling as he is very excitable.  I find it very frustrating when he gets all hyped up because that causes Riley to switch to that same sort of brain state and the two of them together bring out the worst in each other.  Riley doesn't have that reaction to any other dog.  He is happy to play with Stella and was great buddies with Lucy but the "pack" (for lack of a better word) dynamic with Sam is different and something I watch closely on our walks to make sure the two of them never gang up on another dog.   The flip side is that they also have so much darn fun together that it makes the other stuff worth while most of the time.   I also find it interesting that when we add more dogs to the mix (family gatherings etc) that it actually relaxes all the dogs more so maybe the answer is more dogs not less :o). 

When we said goodbye to Lucy I missed the dynamic of having two dogs in our home.  We now have Stella and Riley has been amazing with her.  Sam is a little less thrilled but is also doing very well with her.  Sam did snark at Stella once and Riley stepped in to defend her.   There was a wee bit of noise but no contact and we have not had any issues since.  Sam is now much more comfortable with her and has even played a bit with her. Walking the three dogs together on leash is a bit of a gong show for the first five minutes until everyone settles but off leash everyone is very well mannered and attentive to my commands.  I really am very glad when Sam visits but also very glad to see him go home.  Three dogs with the level of energy that these ones have is just to much for our every day lifestyle.   My hat is off to all of you who manage multiple dogs!

Here are some pictures of the lovely fall hike on nearby trails that we took yesterday.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Like a Cat

I currently have two cats in my house and have owned one other as well as had a number of cats while growing up.  My first cat (Bud) was a siamese cat who was Mr. Personality.  He would walk on leash, loved car rides and never met a lap he didn't love.  One of my current cats (Fred) is a Maine Coone mix and is very dog like.  He lines up for dog cookies, comes when he is called and is very comfortable with the dogs.  The other cat (Desi) is a female tortie and she is all "cat" but very lovable in her own way.  

The dogs is my life have been Labrador Retrievers which has also been the favourite breed in my family.  Family Christmas a few years ago had a total of six dogs and five of those were labradors.  When Lucy passed and it was time to add another dog back to our home I researched the Vizsla breed before deciding to add one to our home.  I have met quite a number of them over the past few years in our dog classes and around the city.  I am very much in love with a lot of things about this breed and especially my puppy.  What has surprised me is how many feline personality quirks are present in my new vizsla puppy.  

Stella's "cat like" behaviours include sun worshipping, sleeping curled up, play behaviour that involves using her front legs to box and masterful levels of cuddling.  She also doesn't like getting her paws wet but that is changing as she gets more used to living life on the west coast.  Lucy was never much of a snuggler but Riley is quite fond of a good cuddle especially if it is on my bed.  Stella takes that a few steps further and plasters up against me in bed and even heads down under the covers if she thinks it isn't warm enough.   She has resigned herself to sleeping mainly in her dog bed in our tv room (see entry - Battle of the Bed) but when I invite her up for a couch cuddle I swear I can almost hear her purring :o).  My cats usually sleep the night cuddled against me (one on each side and the territories never change).   Stella is crated overnight but in the morning when I open her crate she bounds over to the bed and wants up for a good long snuggle and possibly some more sleeping. 

I suppose that these behaviours aren't really "cat" but they are different from my rough and tumble labs and very similar to my cats.  She really is a very fun and happy puppy and I look forward to learning even more about this new breed in my life!

 Stella worshipping the sun in August

Bud never met a warm source he didn't love, even a light bulb!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Growing Up

Stella weighed in yesterday at 27 pounds at just over 19 weeks old.  She is losing teeth at a rapid rate with her adult teeth coming in nicely.  Tonight I was playing some tug with her and she stopped for a second, spit out a tooth and then came back for some more play.  We finished one set of puppy classes this week and I am very pleased with her behaviours.  Potty training is pretty much complete unless we are idiots.  She had one mistake last week during a rambunctious play session with Riley which was totally our fault as she had been sleeping quite a while and we hadn't taken her out.  I think that one surprised her as well as us and has been her only mistake in quite a long time.

Riley is getting much more interested in playing with her now.  Unfortunately for Stella that sometimes means he gets the zoomies with her and he isn't very careful and has run her over a few times.  Riley currently weighs in at 107 pounds so there is an 80 pound difference between them.  She is quickly learning to stay out of his way when he gets crazy :o).  They will work out a good play style that works for both of them over time.  I love to watch them tug because he could easily whip the toy from her but instead he self handicaps to keep the game going.  I think he will be in trouble in the future because she is getting faster every day and will be way more agile then he is.

Here are some pictures from this week.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mani Pedi Time

I love a good spa day with a nice manicure and pedicure.  Unfortunately the dogs do not share my opinion with regards to having their nails trimmed.   I never really had a problem with Lucy because she was easily bought with treats.  She wasn't happy but tolerated it.  Riley has big thick black nails and he barely tolerated his nails being clipped.  A few years ago I switched to using the dremel and he is way more comfortable with that.  I combine the dremel with tasty treats and more importantly short tug games in between feet.  That really seems to work with him as it lets him reduce the stress before it causes him to resist. 

The first time I tried to clip Stella's nails she screamed bloody murder.  This was before I even got near the first nail!  She didn't even particularly like to have her feet touched.  Over the next few weeks we worked on touching her feet and rewarding and also tried randomly clip a toe but there was little improvement.  I then decided to switch to using the dremel and set about desensitizing her to the sound and vibrations.  We also began to work on her tolerating mild restraint with lots of rewards.  She was quite comfortable with both until I tried to move on to grinding her nails where she once again pitched a major fit.  Once I determined that she really wasn't scared (she would willingly take treats, would not hide etc.) I set about quietly waiting out the struggle (without letting her win) and rewarding when she became calm and then doing a short touch to the nail with the grinder before releasing.  I continued to do this every few days or so for the past few weeks and finally we are having good success this past week.  YEAH!!!!  The position that works best for us is to have Stella laying on hubby's legs on her back while he rubs her belly and feeds treats while I grind the nails.  Now when we finish she doesn't want to leave the position lol.  She still has a way to go before she will be one of those dogs that will sleep through a nail grinding session but I am super pleased with our progress.  We will continue to do this 2-3 times per week for now until she is indifferent to having it done.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


This is the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend so today I thought I would blog about things I am thankful for with regards to the furry members of my home.  I should probably start with the fact that I am thankful for a loving husband that indulges my love for all the animals :o).

"They" say we always get the dog we need not always the dog we want and that has been true with Riley.  He is our second dog and we got him when Lucy was ten.  Riley was a very mellow pup especially when compared to Lucy who was a crazy puppy.   Lucy had a few issues over the years so we were determined to do things better this time around.  We did puppy classes, socializing like crazy, obedience classes etc.  All of those went very well but still at about 1.5 years of age Riley entered the dreaded teenager horrible phase where he seem to realize how big he was and he started to be agressive with other dogs plus ignoring all he had learned.  Like many other people I lived in a state of denial for a while, then had a total meltdown one bad weekend when he was a total jerk while visiting friends.  I then decided to put on my "big girl panties" and began to research dog training and behaviour and also began working with a trainer.   It didn't take very long for things to change and Riley reverted back to the lovable, goofy boy we loved.  Today the only time we really have to watch for any issues with other dogs is if he is in a over-excited state which is easy to manage.  All those events ignited a love for dog training and dog sports that have improved my relationship with Riley and given me a new hobby.  I am thankful for this wonderful, goofy, intense dog that makes me laugh most days but never lets me forget that he needs to work to be a "good" dog.

Riley and I at Lake Louise this summer

Stella is our new addition and I am thankful for her happy puppy enthusiasm.   She is a smart little girl who loves to learn and I am having so much fun putting to use some of the lessons learned in the past few years with Riley.  She cracks me up constantly with her zooms and sound effects.  She has a much different personality than Riley.  She is way "softer" but still has wonderful confidence.  I am thankful for the chance to help shape her personality and grow together in future dog endeavours.

Stella approx 12 weeks

We also have two cats.  Desi is a true "cat" personality and Fred thinks he is more like a dog.   A house really isn't a home without cats and I am thankful to have these wonderful creatures love me and be partof our home.

Animals enrich our lives in many ways and I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to be able to provide appropriate care for the animals in my life in the best way I can.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Dog Agility

I've become very interested in dog sports over the last few years.  They are wonderful things to do with your dog that help to set training goals and build our relationship.  I have done obedience, rally and tracking with Riley and would love to do agility.  Unfortunately he would probably be to big to fit through the tunnels and he has poor structure so this would put a lot of strain on his body.  Riley runs mother nature's agility course almost every day  through the forest and that suits him just fine.

One of reasons I was interested in the Vizsla breed is their athletic ability.  I plan to do dog sports with Stella including agility.  Her breeder introduced her to a few pieces of equipment but unfortunately I do not own any. I also have never done the sport so I am a total rookie on things I should be training.  Puppy class has introduced us to a puppy size version of a dog walk, tunnel and a jump and I am also using local park equipment to work things resembling equipment.   These obstacles will help Stella learn body awareness.  She also gets to run through the bushes, around, over and under trees after Riley which will also help with that and promotes balance.

Here is a short video of some of our fun.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Stella was four months old at the end of September (born May 31).  The "experts" state that this means she is at the end of the key socializing period.  That does not mean that we stop socializing the pup and expect the lessons learned to date will last the lifetime of the dog if they never leave their backyard again.  In my opinion is is important to build on the socializing to date by continuing to meet lots of people and dogs as well as ask for the pup to work in new and different areas. 

I live in a big city but am lucky enough to live near the mountains with access to lots of great hiking trails.  There is also a popular off-leash walking area close to our local river.  What I really like about this area is that we meet lots of different kinds of dogs but most people are always walking.  This is a great place for pups to learn how to do a quick polite great and then move on.  It means that dogs rarely develop the "gang" mentality and intimidate other dogs which can happen at many dog parks where everyone is just hanging around.  Some dogs hit it off right away and in that case most people stop for a quick play session.  Stella really had some fun today with a weimeraner pup, a springer spaniel and a few other dogs.

We walked both dogs in that area this weekend to give Stella lots of experience.  She can be somewhat timid upon first meeting new dogs which is very appropriate puppy behaviour for her age.  I want her to be comfortable with greeting (or ignoring other dogs if appropriate) and being around all sorts and sizes of dogs.  I also don't want a dog that always wants to continuously play with other dogs which can be hard in the future when we want to compete in obedience or agility.   She had a great time on the walks and gained a lot of confidence. 

Here are a few pics of today's outing.

                 Trying to keep her butt on the ground in her sit but something is tempting her :o). 

A very poor attempt at stacking on an uneven rock but her face looks pretty here. 
 Heh Riley, why do you like this cold water so much?

A much better self stack by Stella plus smiling Riley's happy face.

 Tired puppy in her seatbelt cuddled up to Riley on way home.