Monday, 26 March 2012


Spring has definately made it's presence known recently.   Last week I noticed an azalea in bloom and this week the cherry trees are blooming like crazy and the grass is growing.  This likely means the alder trees are not far behind and the beginning of my itchy eyes for the next while.  Riley also has some seasonal allergies and this year I am hoping to head those off.

Two years ago in early May he developed sores on his foot pads that took forever to treat and heal properly.  I thought the sores were from something he had stepped on but last year right around the same time (late April) he had almost the exact same issue.  He gets sores between his toe pads and they are in a very awkward place to heal.  He wants to lick them constantly, hates to wear booties and I didn't have the heart to make him a cone head (he would be freaked).  A friend introduced me to Bag Balm which was the thing that finally worked but we dealt with the problem for a good few months each year.

This year I hope to head off the allergy attack.  I tried a homeopathic remedy for him this fall when he was having a lot of red, runny eyes, icky ears, and and seemed out of sorts.  That really seem to help him and as luck would have it that particular remedy also helps with allergies for a lot of dogs.  I have been using it every few months or so and will adminster it again soon as we head into spring. 

I have researched some supplements which might help.  I have been giving him local honey over the past few months.  Honey that is local theoretically that will help Riley build an immunity to the local types of pollen.  I am also giving him coconut oil which is supposed to help with allergic reactions and preventing skin conditions.  The final "targeted" supplement is grape seed extract which is supposed to help regulate histamine production in our bodies. 

Riley generally has wonderful health and a shiny, luxurious coat so I am hopeful that these measures will help head off any sorts of allergic reactions this spring.  Now that I have identified it as a seasonal issue I can also closely monitor his feet and treat any reactions before they develop into sores.  I will also use real allergy medications (benadryl etc.) if necessary but would prefer not to.

Spring also means lots of happy, crazy dogs with zooming energy enjoying the sunshine.  We had another Vizsla puppy stay with us last week and the girls had a crazy good time together.  The other puppy is approx threee weeks older than Stella and their mothers were littermates which makes our pups cousins.  Here are a few pics of the fun times enjoyed.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


This morning I was not proud of myself.  We have an extra dog staying here while a friend is travelling.  She is a sweet little white fluffy dog so really not my style but she has settled in nicely and loves to join us on our walks.  This morning I was tired and kinda grumpy but we had a long walk that went fairly well other than the typical shenanigans which involved me rescuing from a dog's mouth four golf balls, one dead bird, two pieces of garbage and one hackey sack ball that I have no idea where it came from.  On the way back home I planned to stop at the park and do a few moments video taping of heeling with both Riley and Stella. 

That was where the morning turned bad.  The dogs had already been out for a long time and they were in walk/play mode..  I had to tie two of the dogs up while I worked the other.  The little dog with us proceeded to bark her head off the entire time she was tied and that caused Riley to bark as well.  Barking dogs is one of my major pet peeves!  I don't mind barking in context of a situation but it drives me nuts when dogs just bark, bark, bark in a tantrum type behaviour.  It's like nails on a chalk board to me.  This was a huge distraction as well for Stella and she did ok but I didn't get the performance I was hoping for.  I switched dogs and got Riley instead and he was also not interested in working.  I can usually get him interested quickly by playing a few games but today he found a piece of wadded up tape that apparently was super fascinating.  I did get a few minutes of work out of him but again really not the standard that he is capable.   While I was collecting all the dogs together for the short walk back to the house Riley played silly ass again and decided he didn't want to be back on leash.  He instead bounced across the park until he found a ball.  That made Stella pull like crazy to follow him and little dog to bark at him. 

My frustration made me yell and leash correct both Stella and little dog.  I finally got Riley back on leash and then when we got home he refused to release the ball to me so I was holding him and the ball and basically yelling at him to "GIVE ME THE FRICKIN BALL".  He eventually released it and by this time I had worked myself into quite the mood and was bitchy and irritable for a good few hours.  I figured out after that this was likely a really bad pms episode which luckily only happens a few times a year for me like that. 

It really doesn't matter what the reason (or excuse) I am using to explain my behaviour.  I wasn't fair to the dogs.  I was frustrated and irritable and those feelings are exactly why I didn't get the behaviour I was seeking from my dogs.  Riley especially reacts to my moods so of course he was being an ass because I was being an even bigger ASS.   Stella probably didn't know what the heck to think because she isn't used to me acting like that.  Little dog doesn't have any training so it is totally unrealistic for her to know how I wanted her to act in that situation.   

I should have worked teeny, tiny attention steps with the dogs instead of leaping directly into heelwork.  I told myself I wanted some footage of working the dogs so I could review my handling etc.  What I really had in my brain was a vision of some dogs performing perfectly in synch with their owner that I could then upload to show what wonderful things we are accomplishing.  I wasn't horrible to my dogs but I wasn't very "positive".  I did not deal with what my real situation was in that moment and pushed to fast.  When I watched the footage later there was actually some moments of brilliance that I wasn't in the right head space to recognize.  My frustrations got in my way and that isn't fair for my dogs and hopefully this helps me think through my plans much better next time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Not the credit card!

Stella LOVES to carry stuff.  One of the first things she did when she first came home was pick up the cat's dish and carry it around the house before stopping to clean out any last remnants of food.   She continues that every day so it is always a hunt to find out where the cat food dish has been left.   She loves our shoes, slippers, hats, gloves, socks and underwear and if none of the above is available she will settle for one of the many dog toys.  Luckily she is mainly gentle with her treasures (other than a few of my slippers) and she has trained us to be much better at putting things away properly.   When we go out walking she constantly scouts the ground for something to pick up and carry and if we are in the trails she often has a stick in her mouth.   Luckily she is pretty good at dropping things when told outside and also happily gives us her treasures in the house.

I know that carrying stuff is mostly her genetics but it is also an attention seeking behaviour so its a balance to not reinforce the pattern.  Riley has been very good at training me to reward that type of behaviour.  When we hike he loves to search for golf balls, any small remnant piece of a ball, piece of plastic or anything he thinks I might want to take from him.  He then bounces up to me with his find and tries to entice me into "playing" with him.  Playing for him means trying to play keep away from me!   I usually carry a squeeky ball with me to trade for whatever he has which I realize just rewards the behaviour but honestly I am stumped as to how to deal with the situation without using punishment. 

Stella has been a wee bit more "naughty" these past weeks which is probably due to her age (9 months) and growing levels of independance.  We also have been dog-sitting another dog for the last 10 days which means a little bit more competition for attention in the house.  I am not concerned about this minor blip and know that we will work through it.  I have reduced some of the extra freedoms she was earning and have crated again when leaving the house to err on the side of safety.

Last night I was booking our summer camping trip and left the room to switch over the laundry.  While folding I heard a crinkle, crinkle noise so headed back and found her with the wrapper of something I was eating.   She happily gave it to me and I returned to my folding.  Next sound came to me and I went back to check only to discover that she was chomping on MY CREDIT CARD!!!  I rescued the card but it has some pretty big teeth dimples in the plastic and some of those are on the magnetic stripe so I'm not overly hopeful that it is gonna work anymore.  Yes, it was my fault for leaving it on the coffee table but really shouldn't my dogs understand how important that sacred piece of plastic is for maintaining all the wonderful comforts of their life :o).    BRAT!  Obviously we still have a ways to go with puppy antics.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Stella turned nine months old at the end of February and that means this wonderful little girl has been with us for almost seven months.  We have had a lot of fun and learning wrapped up in that time.   Most days I feel proud of what I have accomplished with her so far but every once in a while it sneaks into my brain that perhaps I should be further along both with her and Riley.  Those thoughts are usually generated when I hear about someone elses accomplishment with their amazing dog.   It's human nature to compare situations but imo this is really quite a flaw in our character.  Most of the time we compare ourselves to a "snapshot" of a moment but we don't really get to see the whole picture or know what the journey has been for them.   I allow these thoughts for a short moment and then stop and give my butt a kick and remember how much I have enjoyed spending time with my dogs.

I set my goals because it gives me a way to spend time working and training with my dogs.  I am pretty new to the whole competition world and my goal for this year is to complete our Rally Excellent and Novice Obedience with Riley.  There is a trial coming up this month that I was planning to enter but have now decided to wait a while longer.  I know we could qualify for the RE and I'm pretty sure he could qualify for legs in Novice now but at the same time I know we still have things to work on.  I have noticed some huge improvements the last little while (mostly because my handling is improving)  so why not just keep working things together and the time for the trial ring will present when we are ready.

My goals for Stella's first year were to have a well socialized, confident puppy that has good life and foundation skills.   It might sound conceited of me but so far I think I have done a pretty damn good job at doing that.  There is so much time ahead to be ready for competition (obedience, rally, agility, tracking?) but very few months to enjoy crazy puppy fun.  So this is just a gentle reminder to me and anyone else to enjoy the journey instead of always focusing on the destination.

Speaking of fun  ......

We had a blast last week playing in the snow.  Here are some of the pictures.

 My snowshoe partners.

Gotta bug Riley no matter what weather

 This is why her nickname is Bean (as in jumping bean)

 Woops, that snow is really deep off the packed trail!

My happy boy