Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Joys of Getting Older....

Bender turns 9 in human years in March. His muzzle is greying and his bad knee is gives him trouble after he tries to run too hard. It's hard to know how well he is travelling in comparison to other dogs with similar genetic origins because we honestly have no idea what breeds combined to create him. If he is compared to a Mastiff or a Labrador, he is going OK. If he's compared to a staffy or other smaller boofa, then he's probably below average.

Bender still gets right in to the action.
Barbie is 7 and her back is starting to stiffen up on her. She loves to run flat out and push herself to race around with Mouse and her younger friends, but her spine is not as supple as it once was. She had also been a bit more delicate than usual, yipping when Mouse collided with her in the house, and not wanting many cuddles.

Barbie doing her thing..... 
I came across Julie Edwards at Wellness Centre for Dogs during my work with GreyhoundAngels after she offered her services to the foster dogs. She uses Bowen therapy among other techniques to help dogs be more comfortable. I thought that Barbie in particular could benefit for some treatment, so I got her to come around the weekend after Christmas to have a look at the oldies. She did a lot of work on Barbie's neck and a bit on her back. Her neck was really tight and I could feel the difference before and after treatment.

She did as much as she could with Bender as well. He is an anxious kind of dog but he was as co-operative as I expected he would be. Julie doesn't push the dogs or force them to accept being treated, though we did use treats while she worked on his back legs. Of course the oldies took 'breaks' and when they did, Mouse came over and positioned herself in front of Julie, saying 'ok, now do me!'

Mouse chasing her friend Daisy
Mouse had a tight right hip flexor and she has some sub-scapular weakness still which causes her elbows to turn out. It's noticeable when she sits, and sometimes in her lure coursing photos, but it has improved a lot since we got her. We got given some homework, to work on front and rear paw targetting and to get them all to stand on one of those physio wobbly boards. The hounds both front-paw target a pillow now though it is taking Bender longer the 'get it'.

I could tell Barbie felt better a few hours after her treatment. The next day she was doing zoomies around the lounge and initiating games of bitey face with the others. It had been a couple of months since I had seen that behaviour from her.

The other thing I thought was worth trying was swimming. Bender is a strong swimmer and he has been since he was very young. It is part of the reason we suspect there may be some labrador in his genes, as he loves to swim and retrieve. 

The problem with Bender is that he gets to the river or the beach and does a lot of running around before he gets to the water. When he runs and jumps he ends up sore. We dose him with metacam for three days afterwards to help with the inflammation and pain but he does do the three legged bunny hop when he has been still for too long. 

There is a dog swimming pool in the kennel zone about half an hour's drive away from us at the Furkidz Resort. You can book it out for an hour or half an hour and it's just you and your dogs in the pool house.

Last time we tried to get Bender into a swimming pool was during a New Years Eve celebration a very long time ago. He was a very young dog then, and he refused, because he was scared about getting in and out. I was hoping that his memories of that had faded and that the moulded ramp in the pool as well as it being long and narrow would give him the confidence to get in and out.

The water is a bit gross, there's dog hair and it smells like dog, but for Bender the outing was a great success. The first couple of times he had to be lifted in but after that he was swimming and retrieving his ball on his own accord with no running around or competing with other dogs. The aim is to go regularly for a few weeks and see if it helps the muscle tone on his back end and in his lower back, so hopefully when he runs around off leash everything 'holds together' a little better.

As you can see in the video, swimming is not a favorite hobby for the greyhounds. Barbie is a fairly strong swimmer but she spent the whole time trying to swim to the side to try and haul herself out.

Mouse just trusts you are going to hold her up so barely bothers to kick her legs. We decided not to use life jackets as I had tried one with Mouse previously and got the same 'limp dog' effect. I think Barbie may prefer to have a life jacket on but Mouse needs to learn to swim without one otherwise she is just going to float around the pool doing nothing. We might get them the 'head donut' style swim aids that keep the water out of their ears as other greyhound owners have recommended them to us.

We are booked in again on Sunday so we will see how it goes!!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fun on the water - kayaking with the hounds

I have posted about kayaking before. I spend a fair bit of time acclimating Mouse to the kayak while it was sitting in the back yard. The first time I tried to take her out she was far too obsessed with water fowl and I had to hang on to her leash the whole time. This time we went out and she surprised me by being very patient and awesome in the boat. We paddled for half an hour or so, got out for a picnic, and then for an hour more.

This is a great picnic spot, Servant.
Of course, she was a little bit annoyed with me that I forgot to put the camping mat down on the bottom of the boat for her comfort. I didn't really think she would want it because I didn't think she would cooperate and allow us to go out for so long.

what pelican? I don't see no pelican
Turns out she actually loves it! I think all the time in the bike trailer helped her get used to balancing when things are moving underneath her feet.

We took Barbie out later on and she isn't as happy in the kayak, but she sure does better than Bender who does his best to tip you out and then jumping out and swimming to shore!

It's funny how Mouse can be so highly strung in some situations and so mellow and easy going in others. She doesn't need a bribe to 'trailer up' or to get into the kayak. Barbie is yet to go in the bike trailer, but I will wear her down.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We are now finally muzzle free!

I think I already posted about Barbie getting her Green collar which allows her to be muzzle free in public. Recently Mouse went to the GAP kennel to be assessed and surprising NOBODY, she passed with flying colours.

The test is pretty simple. The greyhound has to stay in the GAP kennel and is repeatedly introduced to a French Bulldog. If the greyhound doesn't show an inappropriate prey response, then it passes the test.

This is what Mouse had to say about 'Green Collar Camp':

"It wasn't that exciting really, we stayed in this little kennel, got let out into a little pen to bounce and toilet.... and around lunch time every day I got to play with a little French Bulldog. 
Really I ignored her because she was a bit uncouth with all her snorting and squeaking and scooting around. My mum Bronwyn and her foster brother Junior were in at the same time and I was next door to mum in the kennel. She was a bit sad about being in the kennel so I tried to cheer her up by telling her stories about the cats I live with. She thought it was a bit weird that I would live with cats and tried to tell me I should chase them. I tried that when I got home but the Servant told me off so I stopped."
She was so cute when I picked her up - she had clearly not had her usual amount of exercise and stimulation so she was a little bit crazy. She bounced on the end of the leash all the way to the car.

The rest of the pack were pretty sad without her here. It was very quiet. It was all worth it in the end though! Now we can go to obedience class without looking over our shoulder!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween - MWAH HA HA HAAAR

Here in Australia Halloween is getting more and more popular. There was a market happening a few suburbs away and they were encouraging children, dogs and adults to come along and get dressed up for the occassion.

I bought an adult sized costume vampire cape from a discount store, and lucked out because I was charged less than it was marked for and it was $12!

It was 140 cm long so clearly too big for the Mouser. Mouser wasn't home last week because she was away going for her Green Collar (more about that next week), and Barbie refused to get up for measuring purposes. Bender ended up being the model, and it fit him pretty well.

I picked Mouser up on Thursday night and tried it on quickly. It seemed like it would do, and I added to the outfit with a medallion (which was from a bike ride I did in 2011). Then on the day I added some eyebrows.

There were a lot of other dogs there who were dressed up too, but they all admired Mouse's cape. It turned out to be just a little bit too long for her so I had to make sure she didn't stand on it as we made our way through the crowds. 

We also rode there, so I decided that I should take the GoPro and make a video. I ordered a crepe and sat down on a park bench to share it with Mouse. Then I dug into my pocket to pull out the camera, and .... it was gone!

The mozzies were biting and it was dark so after a brief search I gave up and went home. My phone number is on the back of the case so I figured that the chances were good I'd get it back if an honest person found it.

At about 5pm on Saturday I got a phone call from a strange number, so I leapt across the room to answer it. It was a lovely lady who had found it in the park! I drove there and grabbed it off her straight away. So glad and lucky to get it back!!!! 

Here is the video:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dunsborough weekend : Bender's GoPro Video

It turns out that Bender is quite a keen cinematographer. The only problem is that, being a boofhead boy, he is very rough on the camera. I only let him wear my old GoPro Hero 2 as the 3 is a little too precious to me.

I cut this video together for him and he told me he approves.

Monday, October 20, 2014

GoPro Fetch harness @ the Riverside Ramble and Dutchfield Dog Survival

I promised that I would post some videos from Mouser's back using the GoPro Fetch harness that we just bought.

Mouse has worn it two weekends in a row now. The first outing was to a big open day called the 'Riverside Ramble' being held by the City of Swan. The West Coast Dog sports team were running a very short lure course, and Mouse's daycare (Pawpals) had a stall right next to it. The Italian Greyhound Club of WA did a lot of promoting on Facebook and invited Mouse personally.

As you can see the camera didn't hold at Mouse's top speed. It was also moving way too much to get a good image when she was running. I decided I would try it out on a couple of other PawPals dogs - but the second one didn't want to run with the harness on as she doesn't usually wear one, so she chased the lure, then stopped, then chased. When her mum took the harness off she ran the course normally!

The second event we took the GoPro to was Dutchfield Dog survival - it was a 5 kilometre cross country race with 15 obstacles the dog and owner had to negotiate. We got most of the obstacles on video, though the cargo net was a real GoPro killer - I had to take it off Mouse so we could get underneath it.

Mouse and I entered the competitive section, whilst all the other hounds were in 'recreational'. Mouse and I came dead last, but she did 13 of the 15 obstacles so I was proud of her. I think her favorite obstacle was the dark maze, she seemed all happy and bouncy when we popped out the other end!

We didn't have any opportunity to practice the obstacles as we didn't know what they would be. Now that my video is out there they might have to come up with some new mystery obstacles for next year to stop people from preparing! A lot of the dogs were naturals at it though! 

photo credit: Paul from Cheeky Monkey Photos
Nic entered the non-competitive section with Barbie. They completed all 15 obstacles but that was because the rules were a little bit relaxed for recreational and so Nic carried Barbie over the A-frame and over the log. I think running on the gravel was a bit hard for Barbie but she tried hard. It seemed like Nic felt more bonded with Barbie after the experience. 

photo credit: Paul from Cheeky Monkey Photos

Bender made his own GoPro video last weekend too, mainly involving long walks on the beach. His big wide shoulders make for a bit more of a stable platform, but he also tried his best at destroying the camera. That video, plus some more photos from the Riverside Ramble, are coming soon!!! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Visiting sister Olive and her housemates....

Cheeky sisters 

Mouse's sister Olive lives on an orchard with another greyhound, and a cat. They have also been fostering Angus for GreyhoundAngels of Western Australia  for quite a while now.

We have taken Mouse to visit twice. It was really nice to see Olive's new family and get cuddles from all the furry kids. Olive and Mouse are similar in many ways - they both chatter their teeth A LOT when they are happy, and have similar mannerisms.

Olive really does have an awesome home with her very own orchard to romp in!

It is kind of funny to watch Olive and Mouse push each other around. They may grizzle at each other but they do spend a lot of time pottering around together. I'm not sure if it is just that Olive is keeping an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get in to any mischief.

They certainly don't grizzle at each other when they have a chance to romp in the orchard with Cody and Angus.

On our second visit they didn't get to run in the orchard, so they had to make do with the backyard. The only time they really had some words were when Mouse was using Olive's mumma's bed as a trampoline. Cody and Angus seemed to enjoy having visitors, though I think they were all more interested in the humans than Mouse. 

Cody is like a big fluffy panda. He sheds more hair than I have ever seen come off a greyhound. 

Angus is a lovely boy and I am really surprised that he hasn't had much interest from potential families. He is a black dog, unfortunately that makes him difficult to photograph. We did have a go though, and he posed for this lovely portrait.

adopt me ?
He does have a pretty good life at his foster home and has adapted to home life really well. He's not skinny any more, either. He's not a huge boy though he does have a very long nose. The photos don't really show his cute long schnoz but it's always the first thing I notice about him when he's sidling up for scritches.

pleaaase ?
I think it's pretty cool that we get to visit Mouse's litter sister. I also enjoy seeing Mouse & Olive's mumma Bronwyn when we go on GreyhoundAngels walks. 

sister bums

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fun n Games with the Gopro Hero3

I got a new GoPro this year, and I have been playing a little bit with the 'burst' photo mode and the dogs. It is quite fun to take a burst photo and then recreate it into an animated GIF like this one, which illustrates Mouse's weird bouncy running style.

The advantage over N's DSLR is that it's small, waterproof and fits easily in my pocket. I got the black version which also can run a WIFI connection to your phone or tablet. 

Of course the image quality isn't always quite there, as you can see in this shot of Mouse's 'whiplash tuck' stage of her run. As always though the camera is quicker than the eye and gets some weird positions that you don't actually see in real time.

Sometimes Mouse and I like to go to a local tennis court for some off leash time. It is a good place for training because there are not many distractions, but it also makes for some nice colourful photos. The fisheye wide angle effect of the Gopro is particularly evident in this shot (look at the fence line).

Of course the most scenic place for photos is the beach, where we don't have to worry about flying sand and salt water.

I am not sure if Mouse and Barbie are discussing the latest in toenail fashion, or which collar they might like to be purchased for them next. One thing is for sure, they are enjoying the beach in winter when there are a lot less people and dogs around.

Not much beats this shot though! I do love the GoPro and use it to make all the videos on the blog, but I do have a couple of very pricey items on the wish list. The cheapest is the new GoPro Fetch harness which provides a rigid, and stable as possible platform for the camera either on the dog's back or on his/her chest. I've always wanted to know what it would be like to ride a greyhound. Unfortunately I lack the technology to shrink myself to an appropriate size, so I think the GoPro is as close as I can get. I'm planning on picking up a harness very soon, so stay tuned for the resulting videos. 

The other thing I would LOVE to have in my GoPro armoury is a Phantom II drone. Really your imagination is the limit in terms of applications for this little camera. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mouse's Lure Coursing Season (who was the Fastest Dog in Australia)

The sport of lure coursing is really in it's infancy in Australia. There are two clubs in Western Australia, Lure Coursers Anonymous and West Coast Dog Sports. I posted before about Mouse's exploits at the WCDS fun runs, but there have been a few meets since then.

There was a fun little contest being run called 'Fastest Dog in Australia'. Both clubs ran trials, LCA had one down south in a paddock, and another in Rockingham (Naval Base). Coursing is not serious at all yet here, and the Fastest dog was a 120m straight track which got people involved and excited, without requiring judges.

Through coursing we have met aspiring photographer Amy Joy, who has been at almost every event taking photos of the dogs. The photos have been almost the best part of coursing, after of course, the thrill of watching the dogs do what they love.

Photo by Amy Joy of Studio Joy
The LCA run in the paddock was the first time that I'd timed Mouse on a run. She didn't have a lot of competition, there were whippets, salukis and 3 other greyhounds. The greyhounds were Barbie, Rosie and Jim. Barbie was not interested in the lure at all - she wouldn't even look at it, so she didn't record a time. Jim decided to visit the people in the timing tent on his run, and Rosie didn't really 'get' it either.

As a result, Mouse won her first two trophies ever - fastest Greyhound and fastest dog on the day. Jim won the 'slowest greyhound cup'.

WCDS ran their own heats, and Mouse only got to run one of her two runs as we had to leave early for another Energetic Composition painting session at Billy's Daycare for Dogs. She ran a very similar time to her first LCA time, though it was human timed instead of with timing gates. I think she was actually very slightly faster on the nice smooth grass instead of the rough paddock.

She was the fastest dog on the day at WCDS as well, and this time she beat at least one serious greyhound, maybe a couple. 

There was a lot of buzz and hype building around the competition, and the LCA crew teamed up with K9 Rescue and Beagle rescue people to hold the Rockingham event. There were a lot more greyhounds and we knew the competition would be very stiff. Mouse's uncle Miles had his first go ever, and he loved it. 

Photo courtesy of Amy Joy of Studio Joy
I was feeling like death warmed up because I was coming down with the flu. Mouse didn't care, all she wanted to do was chase the lure. Of course Miles, being the big softy that he is, made sure that he looked after me.

Photo courtesy of Miles' mumma
A few people were having trouble keeping their dogs on their leashes. There were quite a few escapees as we watched the runs. After Mouse had finished her first run, a black greyhound in a coat joined her on the field romping around with a huge smile on her face (she is on the video at the end of this post). I caught Mouse and was thankful that it happened after Mouse had recorded her time.

Photo courtesy of Amy Joy, Studio Joy
I found out later that the escaped hound's name was Abigail. She ran really well and I thought that we certainly had some competition for the fastest dog title. Abigail's mum was really nice and though she lives on the other side of town I'm sure we will organise some doggie dates in future so they can have a proper play together.

Abigail, courtesy of Amy Joy of Studio Joy
Seeing greyhound after greyhound run, I had no idea who was fastest. I knew that it would come down to fractions of a second. Mouse was really naughty and trashed her soft crate to try and get out after the lure. I can't blame her, it was a pretty stimulating environment for all the dogs.

LCA all fired up from Jet Ska on Vimeo.
After all the dogs had run we stuck around waiting for the results. It was harder than it should have been for me, as I sat bundled up and curled up in my camp chair. When the names were read out, Mouse was only third fastest. We were expecting the best times to all come out of this heat with a smooth paddock and electronic timing, so I knew that Mouse probably didn't win the Fastest Dog in Australia title. 
Abigail was the fastest dog on the day. We all waited on Facebook the night the Australia wide results were to come out with our fingers crossed that Western Australia would come out on top. With all the hot competition I thought we would.... and I was right! Abigail received the title. Mouse came third with the fastest Queensland greyhound coming after her. 
The biggest winners out of this were Miles and Mouse, discovering how much they love each other!
Can you see the family resemblance?

Cuddles time!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Princess Pawdicure

Many years ago I bought some dog nail polish from the RSPCA online store. I tried it on Barbie, but she really freaked out as soon as I opened the bottle. It's a quick dry formula and it smells worse than any human nail polish I have used!

For some reason I decided that I would try to paint Mouse's nails. Not only are her nails a pretty white, but she is so tolerant she lets me get away with just about anything.

The first time I did it, I only did the front two paws. She obviously didn't like the smell but she stood nicely for me and let me put it on. She then went and rubbed her face on the couch as if that would get rid of it.

I did a training session with some yummy treats to distract her and she was fine when it had fully dried. Of course she posed nicely for a few photos.

The second time I did it was because a friend of mine who is moving away gave me all her nail polish. I did mine blue and Mouser's again with the pink nail polish. She didn't seem as bothered by the smell the second time, so I did all four paws. It was a great hit at daycare the next day!

The nail polish doesn't last forever, but it's pretty good considering! Mouse has more nail polish on her nails now than I do left on mine and she runs around on hers!
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