Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mad Dog

Getting old should be no barrier to participating or doing stuff for a dog. I guess people might say that 9 years old isn't actually old, but that depends on the genetic makeup of the dog. We don't actually know what mishmash of breeds make a Bender - but he's on the large side, 33 kilograms with long legs. He's not exactly a giant breed but he may have some of that in him! 

Bender may be the oldest dog here but he's the most enthusiastic to throw himself in to new things. If he was a human, he would be that granny who is keen to jump out of a plane for the first time on her 60th birthday.

I bought a lightweight agility tunnel and it got delivered yesterday. When I got home I unpacked it, and Bender was convinced he should be biting it or head butting it.

I set it out in a long straight line (it only just fit in the living room) and showed him what it was actually for. Bender doesn't need much encouragement to try new things if they are not that scary, so he did it, and then told us how much he enjoyed it afterwards.


Mouse had a go too but she did not give it nearly as much panache as the crazy boofahead. I think she may have been a little bit intimidated by the way he was carrying on!

Monday, March 23, 2015

GreyhoundAngels promo work

Well it's been a long time between updates. Everything here has been rattling along nicely. Mouse has been progressing at obedience training, and we are aiming to enter a Dancing With Dogs (freestyle) trial in a couple of months time to show off her tricks.

There's also a dog show coming up on the 3 May with the Sighthound & Italian Greyhound club where they have specifically created a 'race-type greyhound' section which is open to all ex-racing greyhounds. I'm planning to enter both of my guys and it should be interesting to see how they are judged as they come in all shapes and sizes once they are retired. I'm hoping Mouse does well due to her nice body condition, but she is on the small side for a racing type standard. Barbie looks good too, but it depends on whether or not the judge penalises for lack of teeth!

Mouse has also been lure coursing as the season has started up again. The Fastest Dog in Australia competition will be running again this year and there will be multiple heats with the two WA clubs, so it will be interesting to see how Mouse goes this time around.

Lure Coursers Anonymous, 15 March 2015. Photo credit: Amy Joy (Studio Joy)
Barbie and Bender have been pottering along. Barbie really hasn't slowed down much but we do have to keep an eye on Bender and his activity levels. He loves to run and play but he looks miserable afterwards if he over-does it.

I am still having a go at Public Relations for GreyhoundAngels, and as a part of my role I've been looking at what I can do to get more air time for greyhounds in the social media space. I have been trying to make some videos of available dogs when I manage to spend some time with them, and I also made this little ad - hope you enjoy it!

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. 

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