Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More bike trailer shennanigans!

Now Bender is a little older, he can't walk as far as he used to. He is also not allowed to go to the park and be off leash when other dogs are fetching toys, as he will run too hard and hurt his bad knee. He has had x-rays and has been diagnosed with arthritis. He has had a course of Cartrophen injections and they have helped, but he can not push himself or he will be sore. 

Our solution this weekend was to take him for a ride to a random, small suburban park in an area where not many people have dogs. I knew there wouldn't be any other dogs there playing.

Bender enjoyed wandering around the park and having a good old sniff. We practiced his recall a little, as it has become apparent that he has the worst recall of the pack!

It was raining and I didn't want the trailer get wet for Bender, so we were a bit naughty, and parked the bikes and trailer at the train station park n ride facility. It's a big no no to make use of this and not catch the train, but there weren't many other bikes around as it is the weekend after all. Bender appreciated it when we got back to the trailer and it was nice and dry. 

We managed to get to the very last night of the Maylands Hawkers Markets on Saturday night. Thanks to the Doggyride bike trailer Mouse got to join us. The only thing that was slightly unpleasant was the drizzly rain. We made it home before the worst of it hit. Here's the video.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mouse, meet Beach!

I don't particularly like the beach in summer. The sand burns your feet and you have to share with everyone else who thought visiting the water was a good idea. As we are heading in to winter, and half of Perth's population seems to be away due to the magical combination of public holidays and school holidays, we decided that it would be a good idea to try Mouse at the beach again.

ooooo yeah
Mouse has been to the beach a few times. When we took her down to Esperance she was on leash only, much to her frustration. We had only just adopted her and I didn't trust her to stay with the 'pack'. The last time we took her to the beach I let her off leash a couple of times, but they were both only short periods, as she immediately sprinted up to people and other dogs and then harrassed them by running tight circles around them. People don't like being tripped over by strange dogs. I retrieved her and she went back on the leash.

This time we saw a huge improvement! She did scare a big standard-poodle cross type dog but she left him alone when I asked her to. She didn't try to head up into the dunes, and she mainly just played with Bender and Barbie.

Mouse making sure she doesn't outrun Bender by too much
I recalled her to me a few times, and she was great. The first recall we did, I said her name and when she looked at me I started mumbling praise. She then started walking towards me and I praised her louder. She broke into a sprint, aimed right at my legs, and I told her to slow down. She came to a complete stop and a sit right in front of me. It was beautiful. Of course she was rewarded with her favorite treat - chunks of cheddar cheese.

A quick game of chasey is always fun!
Barbie is just perfect off leash at the beach now. She mainly just wanders along just behind me, and when she does zoomies she tends to do tight circles around me rather than disappearing down the beach, like she used to. I believe Mouse will be just as perfect some time in the near future.

crazy Bender causing trouble!
The only time Mouse got into trouble was when Bender spotted a lady throwing a ball for her dog. He took off, and Mouse took off after him. Nic tried to tell Bender to stop but he was using his selective hearing. I said Mouse's name once, and she stopped for a while and looked at me as I walked towards her, but I took too long and she turned tail to join Bender running around the lady with the ball. I don't think the lady would have minded, but Bender got her dog's ball and wouldn't give it back. I had to fish it out of his mouth for her and put him on the leash. If only Bender would play fair.

having the time of her life! 
I'm looking forward to many more future beach visits with the hounds - there are a few other dog beaches I would like to visit in the next few months. I expect there will be plenty more beach pictures to come!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A hike in the bush & dog trailer fascinations

The dogs must LOVE public holidays, as over the Easter long weekend they have been the centre of attention every day. Mouse has been to run and play with her friends at the local fenced dog park a couple of times, and rode with me to the airport to pick up N. 

We also went for an 8 kilometre hike around The Spectacles which are located in suburbia well South of Perth, off Anketell Road. The Spectacles are supposed to be lakes but it's very dry there at the moment and we didn't see any water. The hiking trails are a bit confusing and we ended up walking a bit further than planned, but they are mainly flat and easy. There were some people there doing some 'bush care' work, and one of them patted Barbie and said 'greyhounds, my favorite type of dog!'

They all decided to poop very early on in the walk, and I didn't want to carry it, so I double bagged the girls poops and tied them onto one of the side d-rings on Mouse's harness. She didn't even seem to notice as she was having such a great time looking for bunnies and other small things that hop around in the bushes. 

The walk was a little bit long for the two oldies, and Barbie decided she would have a short rest on a sandy patch in the shade. Mouse was still going strong though. I think I really need to get her a backpack so she can carry water for everyone and perhaps a supply of poo bags. 

We had another strange encounter this weekend. For those not familiar with greyhound racing, the dogs are transported to the track, or wherever else they need to go in these trailers. They vary wildly in size to fit four to eight dogs, but they are all made of that white corrugated metal with little whirlybird ventilators on top. 

To me they look like caravans for midgets. When I went to pick up Mouse she was locked up in one as we were coming late in the day and the trainer didn't want to disturb all the other dogs in the kennel. Once she had been in the car, with it's glorious glass windows and padded couch like seats, I didn't think she would ever consider getting into one of these again! 

Lately I've noticed a really small dog trailer parked on the verge of a rental townhouse two doors up. They seem to be visiting as they are not there all the time. We walked past with the dogs for the first time last night, and their reactions were fascinating.

Bender didn't show any interest at all but the two greyhounds went crazy taking deep whiffs through the vents on the doors. Then Mouse dug her paws in and refused to continue on the walk, with exactly the same look on her face as when I'm trying to drag her away from the car. I managed to convince her that she wasn't going in the trailer and she begrudgingly continued on. The same thing happened when we walked back past the trailer on our way home. 

While our dogs live in the moment, they never really forget their past. 

if we want to race, we'll race at the dog park!

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Energetic Composition - take two - Barbie and Mouse get a turn

I took Bender for his first painting class as part of An Energetic Composition a couple of weeks ago, and I enjoyed it so much I decided I needed to take the greyhounds to have a turn. 

Barbie had just been stitched up from her little incident on Friday, but she was really excited to be able to come out with us. She loves Billy's and she worked really hard on the big community painting. She added some very straight, strong criss-crossing scratch marks. 

They even worked together on the community piece as neither wanted to be left out at the start. Barbie was keen and threw all kinds of tricks, but when she was tired, she just kept giving me 'play dead'. Anyone who thinks greyhounds are smart needs to meet her, she did such a good job of communicating her wishes through her tricks! 

We bought a bed in for Barbie and when she had enough she went and lie down of it in the corner. She is so comfortable at Billy's now that she can just take a nap while all the other dogs and humans are working. 

Mouse kept at it, and somehow managed to get the paint all over her head. A few people complimented her on her new hair colour. She would paint for a bit, then run over to other people for cuddles, then paint a bit more. I am glad I bought super stinky tuna fillet treats because she was a bit bored of the liver treats. In fact she chose pats and cuddles over liver treats!

The greyhounds were a lot easier to keep contained on to the drop sheets so they didn't leave too many painty footprints everywhere like Bender did. 

Mouse proudly posed with her picture before we let the doggies have playtime in the other pens. Barbie and I stayed in the far pen so that Barbie wouldn't run around and stretch or tear her stitches. They were both exhausted when we got home. A weekend outing well done! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ben & Jerry's Open Air Cinema - Dog friendly viewing!

Last night we took Mouse along to a screening of 'Wolf of Wall Street' ! Taking your dog to the movies, what could be better?

I first saw an ad on Facebook that said this particular open air cinema was dog friendly. The problem was that the screenings were limited, and I had to pick one that Nic was home for so that she could bring a doggie in to town. I held off on seeing 'The Wolf of Wall Street' especially for the open air cinema experience with a dog.

It was a toss up on who to bring. We were initially going to bring Barbie, but that day she managed to injure her delicate skin and had to have a few stitches at the vet. Mouse got to come as a stand-in.

She did remarkably well considering it was a very long movie (3 hours) and there were people all around us eating pizza and ice cream. Every now and then we could hear the ducks in the nearby lakes making a racket and Mouse stuck her head up to listen to them.

She got up a few times when people around us walked around. We were on the grass with a picnic blanket and Nic bought a nice little bed for her, but a couple of times she decided she just wanted to lie draped across my legs.

The movie was a little bit dull, the best parts were the physical comedy parts where the Wolf is completely drugged up. It was hilarious watching Leonard Di Caprio thrashing around on the ground. None of the characters were likable at all so it was cool to be able to cuddle up with Mouse when I was bored with the screen. She was also nice and warm as the night cooled down.

She got a bit of attention, but not too much. One of the guys at the entrance told us a story about a racing greyhound his family had bought in the 1970s. The hound was in the Perth Cup, big prize money, was 6 lengths in front, but the Aunt was there at the final bend cheering dog on. The dog jumped the fence and went to his Aunt. Just goes to show plenty of hounds would rather be loved on and spoilt than chasing a lure! 

It was a late night and Mouse didn't really sleep much at the movie. We had a bit of a walk back through the city to get to the car and Mouse seemed really happy to be in new surroundings, until a car full of young yobbos screamed at us from their car window. That scared her a bit. Fortunately we were close to the safe haven of the car at that point and she happily jumped in and settled for a nap. 

Today she is catching up on her sleep with her creepo eyes on. She did really well and I am a bit sad that we only managed to go once before the season ended. Hopefully they set up again next year! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

West Coast Dog Sports - Lure Coursing in WA!

Finally there is a lure coursing club in Perth, and it's Mouse's new favorite sport. We have been two 'fun days' so far with a new lure coursing club, West Coast Dog Sports. Mouse has shown a lot of keen enthusiasm. The lure is just a bunch of yellow plastic dog poo bags with a weight on a line which is driven by an electric machine. Greyhounds here are often trained to race with plastic bags so I didn't have to explain anything to Mouse.

Mouse in her new harness

After that very first run, she tried to run off after the lure every time it went past while we were waiting in line. I even got her a new harness with a single buckle and a handle on the back for lure coursing. I use the handle whilst waiting in line, and the single buckle is great when getting her harness off at the start and back on at the end of a run.

Photo courtesy of West Coast Dog Sports
So far we have only done 100 metre straight runs. Mouse goes a bit crazy when the lure disappears though and goes running around looking for it. On the first fun day she ran off twice after the lure disappeared. She escaped out of the run area and I had to sneak up on her to grab her. They run naked so that makes it a bit harder as well. Good thing Mouse loves being touched so much that as soon as I get my hands on her she stops.

Photo courtesy of West Coast Dog Sports

On the second fun day she did a crazy zoomie after her first run, but on the second and third runs she stopped and let me catch her. 

Photo courtesy of West Coast Dog Sports

All sorts of dogs have been attending the fun days, and the committee seem to all be in to their Rhodesian Ridgebacks. There have been a lot of sight hounds including Greyhounds, Salukies, Whippets and Italian Greyhounds as well as Afghan and Pharoah hounds. There was also a West Highland White Terrier called Angus who really loves the lure. He is so adorable springing after it with his white locks streaming behind him! 

This is a video of Mouse and her greyhound buddy Sam doing their runs on the very first fun day.  

West Coast Dog Sports are having a full run set up on the 17 of May and I can't wait to see Mouse tackle a course with corners.

I have also just become aware of another club in the countryside south of Perth called Lure Coursers Anonymous. They are holding a 120 m Canine Sprint event in May so we are trying to get down there for that. I think it would be a fun weekend away and Mouse would love to have a go at getting the title 'Fastest Dog in Australia'. I expect the competition will be stiff, especially as she isn't actually a fast greyhound, but I will be interested to know how quick she actually is over a straight 120 metres. She is such a good traveller that I know she will love the whole thing, and Barbie and Bender will come along for the ride.

If you aren't getting enough Mouse news in your day, Mouse now has a Facebook page, which has daily photo updates. If you would like to follow her go 'like' her here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bender's 8th Birthday and An Energetic Composition

Bender is becoming an old man. Of course I made him a cake for his birthday using the recipe I worked on for Mouse's birthday. This time I added a bit of honey, and whilst the cake tasted good to me, I don't think the dogs needed the extra sugar. It left them bouncing around a bit more than normal. 

Waiting patiently, tolerating birthday hats
I topped the cake with ricotta cheese that was a bit past it's used by date. It doesn't give as nice a surface as cream cheese but the dogs didn't mind one little bit. 

can I eat this NAOW?
They all very much enjoyed the cake and the quick rendition of 'happy birthday' that I sang to Bender. That was not his whole birthday celebration, however. I had a little weekend surprise for him. We went in to our favorite training venue, Billy's Daycare for Dogs, to take part in an art workshop where he got to create his own masterpiece.

An Energetic Composition is a series of art workshops which will in the end culminate in an exhibition, raising money for people with Lyme disease. At the workshop we worked on small piece to take home and a larger 'community piece' which many dogs contribute to. 

Bender's artwork
Some of the dogs delicately paw target the artwork, whilst others have their own 'style'. Bender didn't really want to paw target, so I got him to commando crawl and spin on the canvas. He did go at it with his face a couple of times, and took a big slurp of the blue paint. Good thing it is non-toxic. Apparently all the dogs who have tasted the paint so far have gone for the blue paint. I wonder what is with that? 

Then when I put the big community canvas down for him he bit at it and then dug as hard as he could. That canvas board is tougher than I imagined. The scratch marks looked really good and provided a 'finished' look to the big piece. The only problem was that Bender tried to pick it up and carry it away. I had to quickly get it out of his mouth before he damaged the board that everyone else had been working on! 

Bender is proud

I got him to use the same technique on his smaller board then and it added some great texture to the piece I think.

All in all it was a very enjoyable thing for Bender. He was pretty tired afterwards. When bought his piece home the girls were very interested in it, giving it a great big sniff. Next time I will take one of them to try it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Doggie Daycare @ Pawpals

There is a new doggie daycare near us called PawPals. At this stage they are only open two days a week but I thought it would be good for Mouse to go and play with other dogs instead of trying to get Bender and Barbie to play with her all day.

On her first day she was a bit reserved. She watched all of the play around her and didn't really push herself into the doggy games. In her second week, all that reserve dropped away and she selected her favorite playmate, Lockie the Corgi.

The place is fairly small and has ramps, a sand pit and a paddling pool. Mouse is the oldest dog there at the moment at 3 years old, and sometimes the puppies get a bit much for her. When she has had enough, she waits by the gate to the 'quiet' area to be let in for a nap. When she is ready to come back out she waits at the gate again.

She seems pretty happy and relaxed when she comes home from daycare, and the advantage is that I don't have to take her on a super long epic walk that night, like I try to every other night. Hopefully more dogs will start going so that she has more playmates, and so that they can open full time. 

They put photos on Facebook during the day so you can see what your puppy has been up to. I think Mouse is plotting something.... we will find out eventually I guess what her plan is! 

The Pawpals Facebook page is here. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Houndstooth Studio photo shoot for my Supermodels

A while back we entered a competition to win a studio session with Alex Cearns from Houndstooth Studio for two of our pets to get some professional portraits done. We decided that we would start with Bender and Barbie as they are both getting older and greyer these days. I think middle age is really the most glorious time for a dog - they have learned all the rules, but they still have energy to keep up with every day adventures and health problems are hopefully pretty superficial. It's a great time to capture with professional photographs.

Alex has two gorgeous rescued puppies of her own from Greyhound Angels of WA (the organisation I volunteer for). Pixel is a greyhound and Pip is a greyhound cross - they have a Facebook page called Black Beetle. You should check them out if you are big on Facebook, as well as the Houndstooth Studio page (which currently has a cool 88,404 likes!).

seductive Barbie number one - this photo didn't make the cut and get printed but I love it still!
Alex is incredibly popular and well known in my social circles as she does a lot of pro bono work for animal rescues. Her photography is everywhere, from every Vet clinic I've been in, to the fenced doggie area at Whiteman Park. 

The first time I met Alex was actually at Whiteman Park during a big dog focussed event they had there. I had Bender and Olive with me at the time and they both got a bit of fussing from her. She must have made a great impression on Bender because he remembered her.

Bender's happy face! We picked this one for one of the smaller prints
When we pulled up at the studio, the dogs were a bit confused. Then Alex came out to greet us. Bender recognised her right away and started bouncing up and down and doing his excited puppy squeak. He reserves his puppy squeak for his absolute favorite people. The first time we ever heard it was when he was about 8 months old and we took him to visit the lady who bottle-fed him as a rescued pup. Barbie seemed a bit embarrassed to be seen with him, but she hadn't met Alex before so she was probably wondering what the hell was going on.

Bender usually works really hard and he was very focussed during the photo session. Alex just took the reigns and he was very willing to comply with her directions. We didn't really emphasise to her how obsessive he is about toys though, and she pulled a tiny squeaky Kong ball out of the treat jar and squeaked it before we could stop her. I had a feeling of dread as he jumped around everywhere trying to get to the ball. We distracted him whilst Alex hid it, and what she did next was quite impressive. By being firm and digging deep into the Magical Treat Drawer, she managed to get him refocussed on the food treats. He forgot about the ball! I don't remember anyone else managing to break his ball fixation like that. 

Barbie was a little bit harder to motivate. She just doesn't have the drive or stamina that Bender has. She's also a bit uncertain about jumping up on to things so the couch was a bit of a challenge for her. Then when we were doing the photos of them both on the couch, Bender didn't want to jump up next to her. I think he was afraid that if he took a misstep she would tell him off. She wouldn't have, but Bender is very respectful of Barbie's space like that. We got Bender up first and I lifted Barbie on to the couch.

cute couple, this is the photo we chose for our massive print
They were both full of treaties and not that interested in their kibble at dinner time. Barbie was so tired that she slept for the rest of the day - it was a great weekend adventure for them.

Alex took thousands of photos, and she posts a preview of them on Facebook at Houndstooth Studio, before you go in for a viewing session to choose your prints. 

The Viewing Room is at a different address to the studio, and we made an after work appointment. The Room is small but adorned with a comfy couch and a projector so that you get to see the photos at their vibrant best. We started with 70 pictures and narrowed them down to 5 by trading them off against each other and choosing different poses and facial expressions. We chose a 'set' which consisted of a massive 30" x 20" print and three 5" x 7" prints, in classy black frames. We also got a 5" x 7" print as part of our prize, so I let N choose that photo so she could take it out to work with her (she chose one of Bender, surprise, surprise!) 

Due to the time of year the photo printers/framers seemed to be running behind as they were closed most of December, so we had to wait 5 weeks for the photos to be done. They are guaranteed to last for 100 years, so not only will they outlast the dogs, they will also outlast us, and probably even the house we live in!

Bender on parade! (this is the photo we picked for our unframed pic)
They are really a central feature of our lounge room now. I think I did a pretty good job of hanging them straight, though the bottom small one of Barbie has two holes behind it because the first one I drilled was a bit low!

There was a bit of a hiccup with the prints - we had organised a time for pick up, but when Alex got them they weren't perfect - there were some smudges she could not clean up. Alex knew I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to pick them up when Nic was at work so that they would be hung on the wall by the time Nic got home. She rescheduled a new pick up time, and told the lab they had to do something to make it up to us. They upgraded our unframed print to a bigger size! I was very happy with that.

Overall it was an excellent experience, and I imagine we will back with the Mouser to get her photos done some time after our mid-year holiday. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Old Bakery Gallery and Cafe - Maylands

This cafe is an old favorite of ours, and I got an e-mail on Friday that prompted me to blog about it - the Old Bakery on 8th is going up for auction! I just hope the new owners continue to run it as a cafe and keep it as dog friendly as it has been all this time. 

The Old Bakery is blessed with this beautiful leafy courtyard with established trees and plenty of shade. There is a rear entrance, near where those cars are parked in this picture, and it was very convenient for me to park the doggie trailer out the back.

Bender, Barbie and Mouse have shared breakfast with us in this lovely spot with many other friends. If anything lets the place down it is that the poached eggs are sometimes overcooked.

We took Barbie this weekend for a just-in-case final hurrah. We don't know what will happen when the place is sold. I got my usual eggs benedict and a cappuccino.

Barbie of course laid down in the corner on the cool sand under the trees. There were a bunch of pigeons flapping around in the garden nearby but they didn't really get her attention. It seemed like no one really noticed her, usually at least someone would come to say hello. I think she was secretly happy that she could laze around uninterrupted until we were ready to pass her some of our left overs.

After breakfast we took a little stroll around the surrounding suburb for Barbie to stretch her legs. Unfortunately due to the very hot weather the last month, we can't stay outside much past 10am so we had to head home after a very short wander around the block. 

I just hope that the new owners of this place continue to trade as a cafe, and continue to be dog friendly. Otherwise we will be mourning the loss of an old favorite!

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