Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I didn't get any photos or videos of the beach date because the beach was busy, and so I was busy trying to keep track of Barbie. Barbie didn't really play with Joc, but she did chase Desma's other dog, Swan.

Swan squeaks as she runs and Barbie found this irresistible. Swan is a bit indifferent to other dogs, and she mainly did her own thing while Joc and Barbie took turns chasing her around. Swan also loves to dig at the beach, so I used her as an earth moving machine and got her to dig a moat for a sand castle.

I took the dogs down to my folks place for Christmas. They were both very well behaved. My parents have two dogs, Harry and Nudge, and they all get along pretty well. Barbie even tolerated the other dogs standing on her while she was trying to relax on the floor! I wanted to take them down to the river, but I went kayaking with dad instead, and my mum didn't want to be responsible for them down there. I saw a few crabs in the shallows and wondered if Barbie would see them, and whether she would attempt to catch them. She would probably get pinched!

Anyway, Christmas has been incredibly hot so the dogs haven't been able to do very much. They have been down to the local river a couple of times. Today is a bit cooler and Barbie seems much more comfortable. She's actually sitting on the couch for the first time in 3 days. I think they enjoyed the air conditioning at my parents place.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can I borrow your Greyhound?

Desma, the animal trainer who ran the CGC course that Barbie went on (and the exam was consequently delayed for), has a whippet x stumpy tail cattle dog called Joc. Joc has the best mix of the two for athleticism. At the age of two he is sailing over agility jumps like he has wings.

Anyway he has never met a dog faster than him. During our last few classes I suggested that Barbie and Joc might like to have a good run off leash. Barbie was definitely interested in him but there's not that much room to run at Billy's and there is not much traction on the concrete floors.

So we have set up a doggie date at City Beach on Sunday morning. It will be interesting to see how Joc reacts to being out paced. I'm sure Barbie will rub it in like she usually does. She will run past him, get him to chase, and then burn him off when he looks like catching up! He is quite a bit smaller than her but he has the cattle dog toughness so I'm sure he won't mind a bit of shouldering.

If they enjoy running together we can make it a semi regular thing.

This is Joc doing a jumping trial.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Beach is Everyone's Favourite Place...

The traffic is two-way, and they have people to use as traffic cones....

They have each other to play with

to frolic in the sand...

other dogs can eat their dust!

or they can just stand by and watch the awesome speed!

Barbie makes new friends...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's time for take off!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bender's first words

I found my old hard drive and got old videos off. This includes quite a few puppy videos of Bender. I thought you guys would like this one, it was an early indication of the kind of attitude he has!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blast from the Past - Bender's soccer skills

Here's a one year old Bender showing off his neat soccer skills. I was renting this house with a massive backyard. I think Barbie would have loved it there!

Friday, December 3, 2010

No dogs yet,,,,

I decided to practice driving and filming at the same time. Mittens is curious about the car but hasn't overcome her fear yet. Barbie and Bender both had a go at barking at it but there is no room to really chase it in the house. We will give it a go at the park tomorrow.

In the mean time, here's my new four wheel drive jumping over some bicycles (and you guys can enjoy my Aussie accent, this evening I feel like more of a draaaaawler than usual):

My favorite part about this new toy is the head & tail lights. I had fun driving it randomly up the footpath this evening. I also love the battery pack. The hard plastic wheels don't get much traction on the tiles, so it's kind of hard to control.

Lure Coursing - with a remote control car

I really want to buy a remote control car. I've wanted one since I was a kid, and my brother got to have one but I didn't. My bro's remote control car was cheap and crappy and ate batteries like they were ice cream cake, so I never really got a go driving it.

Anyway, I've seen a lot of footage on youtube of dogs chasing RC cars. I thought that it would be a fun game for Barbie, chasing some kind of off road RC vehicle dressed as a rabbit or towing something that flutters around in the wind.... my little Border Collie x Heeler used to chase one of those micro RC cars in the house. She would flip it over so it couldn't escape. She seemed to enjoy it, even when she wouldn't chase a ball.

The problem is that N doesn't think Barbie will be into it at all. For a car that will realistically have enough top end speed to evade the dog for more than 30 seconds, a significant investment is required. It also has to be electric, as those little nitro engines are too noisy and Barbie will be scared of them!

Then I got to thinking - how much of it is top end speed and how much is the skill of the driver? As long as the car can turn harder than the dog it has a fighting chance, does it not? ;)

Anyway I have decided that I am going to buy a cheapie from Dick Smiths. It just has to be all terrain and have a rechargable battery pack. It also has to look tough enough to take some greyhound pouncing. We have a nice, big flat grass park nearby that isn't very well patronised (and has fences, just in case...) which should be fun for the car and the dog. If she does get into chasing it them maybe I'd upgrade to something faster. If she isn't in to it, I'll give the car to a friend with kids after I've finished thrashing it.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sirens! Oh the terror!

I had a work Christmas function at a house near the beach on Friday, so I got N to bring the dogs, pick me up, and let them loose on the beach. While N was parked out the front a few of my work mates came to see the dogs. Barbie got a lot of pats from one in particular, and when she left, Barbie tried to squirm out the car window to follow her.

Once we got to the beach, Barbie found a Dalmatian who was very happy to run with her, wrestle with her and generally play. Barbie ran big wide loops but the Dalmatian didn't seem to notice that she was faster. The dogs ran for a bit over an hour before we took them home. They certainly enjoyed themselves.

The CGC on Saturday was postponed because the independent assessor pulled out at very close to the last minute and a new assessor could not be found. The test is now in February!

As there was no CGC test, and it was Barbie's gotcha day, we decided to take the dogs to the river for a doggie date with the two mini schnauzers (Sonny & Taco).

Barbie showed a polite interest in them but when she realised they would not chase, she lost interest pretty quickly. She did run a little with a fox terrier type dog. She also bothered a little white dog which wasn't allowed off the lead. I had to shoo her away. After we had been there for a while (and Taco swam properly for the first time), I noticed some smoke rising from a point on the other side of the river. I didn't think too much of it until it started wafting over us. Then the fire engines came, and fire engines mean sirens.

Barbie put her ears back, her tail down, and started at a trot, which built up to a higher speed run. I didn't know where she was going to go, so I followed her. I called her name and she ignored me, so I gave up and kept my eye on her. She ran a wide lap around the area and ran along the car park where we had left the car. Our car was the only one there, but for some reason she didn't recognise it and went straight past it. She then ran to the next car park, where there were many cars, and picked out a shiny black car which looks nothing like either of the cars we own. She commenced jumping up at the driver's side door (I hope not scratching it in the process!) I was close enough to her that I grabbed her pretty quickly. I didn't see any damage done to the car. I now had her by the collar, and needed to go back down to the river side to get Nic, as she had the car keys. The sirens were stopped by then I think, but the smoke was getting thicker. She refused to go closer to the smoke. I got her to trot, and we got within yelling distance. I called Nic over and told her we had to go because Barbie just wanted out. We had been there too long anyway, Bender was overtired and had ingested too much river water while swimming for his ball.

We all got into the car and went to City Farmers to grab more dog and cat food. We met the mini schnauzers there again, but I couldn't spend much time inside as Bender was not feeling well and was likely to puke or poo at any moment. Barbie was fine. As long as we were not near the sirens and smoke, she was quite happy.

Funnily enough, we have been near other types of sirens and if it's an amulance or a cop car she doesn't react. I think fire engine and smoke together are the trigger for her scared reaction. It's going to be a difficult one to work with!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mittens and the Laundry Basket

Mittens likes to sleep in the laundry basket. I'm not really sure why. I think it's just one of those strange quirks she has. She is a strange cat. Another one of her quirks is that she likes to watch you taking a shower, and when you are finished she meows and purrs and twirls around your legs. It's the only time she ever asks for attention - it's like she has decided you are clean enough to touch her because you just had a shower. Usually if you try to pat her she will pull her evil face, move away from you, and start washing herself vigorously.

Anyway, I digress.

I was at work typing away on my computer, and my mobile vibrated on the desk next to me. I opened up the message, and it was a photo. This photo:

The story was, N hadn't seen Mittens for a couple of hours, and was curious about where she had got to. N went into the spare room, and saw Mittens trapped under the washing basket on the spare bed. We haven't figured out how Mittens became trapped but she wasn't trying to free herself. She wasn't even meowing.

Funny how she doesn't mind being trapped somewhere, but if I try to give her a worm pill or try to put a flea preventing spot on her neck she howls and growls and huffs and puffs and squirms to try and get away.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Barbie the Submarine

A lot of dogs don't like water, but Barbie loves it. She knows it cools her down, I think that Greyhounds learn that at a very early stage. When she goes for a run, she generates a lot of heat, so if there is an available body of water, she will lie in it and dunk her head under. We went to Whiteman Park yesterday, and it was pretty humid. Barbie had done some hot laps, and then jumped into the old horse trough. She was on her belly, skinny elbows against the slimy concrete bottom of the trough, and was dunking her head under and blowing bubbles! It looked so funny. I think it's her way of stopping the water going up her nose. She is a real little smartie.

I haven't seen her swim yet and I'm not sure if she will try. She has seen Bender swim but she doesn't really seem bothered to follow him. She'd rather lie there like a crocodile with her nose poking out, and dunking her head under to blow bubbles!

There was a small grey dog there. I held on to Barbie when they came into the gate, and once they were in and the little dog was off the leash I let Barbie go. Barbie looked like she was going to stalk up to the dog, then decided to play chicken with it's mum. She bolted towards her and gave her a fright! Barbie and the little grey dog (called Pepper) had a good play, though Barbie was prancing, and landed on him once or twice. He let her know in no uncertain terms he did not like to be stepped on.

Barbie's CGC exam is on Saturday. I have been working on her down/stays on hard surfaces, as I realised that I had been letting her practice on the carpet or grass and so she didn't want to lie on the hard surface at Billy's for very long. She is only allowed to break 3 times but I'm confident that I can get a good stay out of her.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Memories - Bender's Problem Solving

One of my fond memories of a young Bender involved a kong, a galvanised metal bucket full of water and a backyard BBQ.

Bender was playing his favorite game with the BBQ guests - fetch with his Kong. He got very hot and tired, so he ran to his water bucket to get a drink. He still had his Kong in his mouth. He released the Kong when he went to drink the water, and the Kong fell to the bottom of the full water bucket.

Bender was very attached to his Kong, but he isn't the type of dog that will stick his head underwater. He hates water up his nose and in his eyes. Being a very young dog, he didn't really know how to get his Kong back. The bucket of water was very full.

It took him a minute or so, examining the problem before him. He wanted his Kong. His Kong was at the bottom of a bucket of water. He didn't want to dunk his head into the water. There was only one way he could see - drink all the water so that he could get his Kong.

I had been sitting on the back steps of the house watching him, and it took me a while to figure out what he was doing. At first I thought he was just thirsty. Then I saw the look on his face, he was forcing himself to drink. He would pause for a bit, and then resume drinking. He even had a puke and went back to drinking. He was very determined.

Eventually, after he had made himself vomit, I decided he wouldn't give up, and I fished the Kong out for him. I would like to think that he would tip the bucket over now instead of trying to drink the whole bucket of water, but I am not too sure that his problem solving abilities have gotten that far. Maybe I should test him?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts on Travel without the furkids

My pets are all young. The oldest is Froufrou, turning 5 in December. Still, it is very clear to me how short my time with them is going to be. I expect that the cats will live to be ancient, bony, goddesses, I don't expect the dogs to last that long. My first dog died of a mysterious neurological illness after just a year, and so while they have their expected life spans, anything can happen!

Time away from us is hard for the fur kids as well. I have found a really cool kennel that allows them to run around in a fenced paddock all day, but there's only so long you would want your dogs in that kind of environment. I left Bender and Barbie there for a few days and they had gone a bit feral when they got back home.

Most people I know view travel as a 'knotch on your belt', and do all those Facebook apps where you plot all the cities & towns you've been to. Peru was the latest 'must go' location, and quite a few people have fairly new albums. All the photos look similar, just different faces in them.

Not to say I am totally devoid of wanderlust, but when it means being away from the creatures I love, it is tempered somewhat. That doesn't seem to be the case for N, who hadn't been overseas when she met me. Trips are also limited by the fact that I only get 4 weeks leave a year. N has a more flexible roster that allows her to take more time off. She seems to accumulate Days In Lieu far more easily as well. They discourage that kind of thing at my workplace, stating that we must have a good work/life balance. I would be happier if we knocked the working week down to 35 hours though.

Anyway we are going on an overseas holiday next year. The longest I could manage is just over 6 weeks. Mainly limited by the leave available to me, but also by my desire to be near my fur kids! I'm not sure N understands. I also want to travel within Australia some more. The country is vast and there are many places we haven't been. It would be most awesome if we could do some kind of mega road trip and take the dogs with us at least. I joke that I want to be a 'grey nomad' without the grey, but N isn't super keen on Australia-travel.

I will get 3 months worth of long service leave if I stay at my current organisation for another 5 years. That might be the soonest I could go on such a road trip. By then Barbie will be 8, and Bender will be 9. Probably good ages if they are still fit and strong and healthy.

In the meantime I need to organise a first camping trip for Barbie. I can't believe we haven't been camping together yet! We need a bigger tent so that both the dogs will fit without forcing me to curl up like a echidna.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dogs of Old - Rusty

These photos are from 1993 - 1994. I was only just a teenager and had a little black plastic Kodak camera. I was not particularly gifted at photography. I grew up with a Kelpie X called Rusty, and here he is. When I see Frankie from Greyhounds CAN sit it reminds me of this dog.

Rusty was a guard dog above all else. He was particularly protective of his property. He used to jump on the fence and bark at people passing by. When I took Bender down to my parent's place, the fence got a similar pounding from him. It was pretty funny actually, some kids on BMX bikes rode past, and were doing skids on the footpath. Bender, Barbie, Harry AND nudge all ran at the fence, though Bender was the only one who jumped up and barked.

Rusty wasn't actually allowed on the bed, hence the sheepish looks on his face. Occasionally someone would say 'where's Rust?' and you could be guaranteed to find him there.

Last but not least, Rusty ate disgusting food. It is called PAL and it comes in big tins. He had a human plate allocated to him - I think it was an ugly cracked plate. I'm not sure if he ever had his own specific dog bowl. Looking at that 'food' now I wonder how he managed to get so portly as there didn't appear to be a lot of actual meat in it. It does however explain why his farts were so bad !

Rusty was my best friend growing up, and when I left home I missed him a lot, as well as my cat Tabitha (who I will upload photos of soon). Rusty and I used to go for walks every day after school. We would meet up with a friend and his Rottweiler, Luger and the dogs would run free around the estuary while we talked. Rusty was my confidante, my protector and my exercise buddy. I was very glad to have him around. My mother had another dog back then too, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel called Sam, but I did not have the same connection with him. I thought he was just a pest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drama in B-Town

We went on our walk a little later than usual last night because it took me a while to work up the energy after cooking dinner. We went for our usual amble around our usual track, and as we approached the park we heard sirens and the roar of a big diesel fire truck approaching. These sounds were preoccupying Barbie so much that she didn't want to sit at the street corner. It is a bit unusual to hear a fire truck approaching in our neighbourhood. We kept walking and I noticed that there was smoke around. The fire engines stopped at the top of a hill and started putting otu a fire in a town house. They were a fair way away, probably at least 800 metres, as they were on the other side of the park, but the sound was carrying well. They were using megaphone/loudspeakers and the amplified voices were giving Barbie the willies. She was pulling on the lead. The dogs both pulled (gently) all the way home, only stopping to sniff a couple of times. As we turned down a quiet dead end street which is very close to the house, Barbie just stopped and peed on the road. Very unusual, but I guess she knew she was almost home and hadn't done it yet because she had been spooked by the fire engine and their amplified voices.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Doggies keeping each other fit

Before we got Barbie, Bender had started getting a little hefty. The heaviest I weighed him at was 27kg. His ribs were nowhere to be seen though you could feel them if you poked him hard enough. Noone noticed the extra weight, because the majority of dogs in Australia are overweight. Given how hard he is on his joints though, particularly his wrists, I wanted him to be as lean as possible.

Then Barbie came along. If anything Bender is getting more food than before because they both get a lot of treats, treat to go out in the morning, treat to go to bed with at night, and training treats. When Barbie arrived she weighted about 24kgs (I can't remember exactly)

They both recently went to the vet for their annual vaccinations. Bender now weighs 22kgs. We noticed he had thinned out around the middle though his shoulders and thighs are starting to resemble greyhound proportions. When the vet examined him he said 'wow, he's really fit'. I will get some extra weight on him soon before he goes to the kennels in January because he seems to shed fat there too. I don't want him getting much thinner. Being at a lighter weight, and getting daily glucosamine supplements, have meant that he no longer pulls up lame in the front end after a running session at the beach/river/park. He is 5 years old next March and he is still the fastest dog at the park (except for Barbie).

Barbie weighs 25.8kgs. Most of that weight gain has been muscle, and she had lost weight after being spayed when we got her. She is leaner than the majority of adopted greyhounds that I have met.

Even though our yard is small, the dogs chase each other around for stints during the day. They get to run off leash a couple of times a week, and get walked every other day for at least half an hour. On the weekends if they are lucky they get to go out on individual outings.

Yesterday I went to take Barbie out first. I took my keys, and walked down the driveway to my car, and realised that the rear right hand tyre was dead flat. My car is a fourby with big fat tyres, fitted out for off roading. It is very noticable when one of the tyres is flat! I took Barbie back down the driveway, and attempted to go inside to swap keys so I could take N's car. Barbie refused to enter the house! She thought I was going to con her somehow. I pushed her in from behind, and swapped keys. She was very happy to be led out again and jump into N's car with a tiny piece of Schmacko as a lure. We were going to a street festival down the road and I wanted to know how she would deal with crowds of people. I didn't account for the drumming troupe and the brass band though. She dealt with the multiple popping balloons well. She reacted but recovered quickly. When the drummers started up though, she retreated to what she thought was a safe distance. This meant that I couldn't sit at the table with my mates! She also refused to lie down at the cafe. I am not sure if it was a fear of being stepped on or the uncomfortable nature of the paving. After we had been there for over an hour, we left. She jumped into Nic's car without a treat lure being thrown in first. A lot of people randomly patted her. She didn't know they were there before they touched her most of the time. She dealt with this very well. Bender doesn't get that kind of attention. I think it's because people are a bit more wary of him with his big fat head and excitable ways.

She was exhausted and slept. I thought about changing the tyre on my car but decided to take Bender to the river instead. I threw his ball for him for an hour or so and then went back home.

Took longer than anticipated to change the tyre as I had to jack the car and the axle up to get the wheel up high enough to swap. The spare was also a little flat so I had to pull out my little battery operated pump. It took about 20 minutes to get it up to reasonable pressure but it's all good now. The tyre was flat because it was pierced by a carpentry type screw. I think I ran over it when I was coming back from Barbie's second last CGC class. I need to find some time to go to a tyre place and find out if it's worth plugging or if I need to get a new spare. They are expensive tyres so I think if I need to replace it, I'll be looking at something second hand.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sharing is Caring

Bender asking.... "can I play with your monkey little sis?"

OK, but you aren't going to win....

We're going to tear this monkey limb from limb....

Mum decides that we should play with a different toy

We pulled and pulled, but in the end the contest was a bit uneven

Bender was the winner, but notice how Barbie is ready to pounce and reclaim her end of the rope

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The peril of treats in your pocket....

It was 37 degrees in Perth yesterday. I left the dogs inside with all of the curtains closed, and Bender did not approve. I don't think he appreciated the fact that the house was only about 30 degrees inside when I got home, and the tiled floor was nice and cool. When I got home and let them out to go to the toilet, Bender refused to come back inside.

When N got home at about 6 we took the dogs down to the river for a romp. As soon as we got there, a big Whippet who was almost the size of Barbie came to say hello. He didn't want to run so Barbie was not that interested in him. I think he was interested in the treats in my pocket though, he attempted to put his little Whippet nose in to help himself! Wise to this move (Barbie tries it out on me occasionally), I just moved away at the right time so he did not score any goodies. Other dogs noticed that I had treats too, and before long I felt like the Pied Piper with all the dogs following me around. I let Barbie offleash and she had learned from last time where she is not allowed to go. We have a clearly defined boundary where she is allowed to run. She was polite to all the other dogs and ran big wide laps around the perimeter of her 'allowed' zone (where I can see her at all times). There isn't much danger around the place, but at her pace she can easily find herself in the 'no dogs off leash' area and then we'd be in trouble. Then she ran down to the water (where I was) and lied down in it so that her head was poking out like a little crocodile.

As always people were impressed with Barbie's speed & her recall. She is funny in that she doesn't have to be running after anything in particular. I think she conjures up an imaginary bunny to chase, or imaginary greyhounds chasing her. A lady on a bench tried to converse with me, and said that I 'did the right thing by her'. What that means.... I'm not sure. She is probably one of the smartest, quietest and most low maintenance dogs I've owned. Aside from some toilet training hiccups she has been an angel. Even when she steals things she isn't particularly destructive. I've always wanted a greyhound and the fact that she has been 'rescued' is a bonus. I think I like the term 'redeployed' better than 'retired' or 'rescued' or... 'failed racer' (Nic likes to say she is a failed greyhound). I attempted to get her to chase me by running past her but I don't think I can run fast enough to be of interest. She is more interested in running with me when I am on my bike. I really need to start bike-training her because if she is going to be babysat next year, I want the housesitter to be able to run her on leash. I don't think it will take much, just encouragement so that she doesn't cross behind the bike really. Once I get her trained up I'll get a walkydog or a springer and attach it to one of the bikes. Probably will have to be the CRX as it's the most uncustomised and is more likely to fit whoever ends up housesitting. My Long Haul Trucker is likely not to be there cos I'll be taking it touring, and the xtracycle will probably be too much for some people to handle.

I had to clip on her lead to retrieve her from the water - the sun was going down and I didn't want a wet dog stinking up the house all night. Barbie is a real water baby though I haven't seen her swim yet. The intention is to take her down to a shallow, calm beach like Esperance and teach her to swim there. If she wants to. The only problem with Esperance is the 4x4s on the beach. I have a golden rule to always keep Barbie away from motorized traffic. Once I had her out of the water, I asked a guy if he minded if I talked to his teeny blue heeler puppy. I wanted to see if Barbie would say hello to her. She did seem a little too small to be out and about in public though, since her vaccinations were probably not finished :P I gave her a piece of polony because she sat her little puppy butt on the ground when I asked. She still had little needle puppy teeth. I tried to get Barbie to say hi but she wasn't particularly interested in the little pup. I think in her experience puppies are just rude little dogs which don't deserve much attention.

Bender as usual spent the 45 minutes fetching his ball. He had a gang of dogs trailing in after him.

When we got home last night I did the written component of the Canine Good Citizen test. I have to get 90% to pass, so I made sure I checked some of the facts before I wrote my answers. I am going to make it look a bit nicer because the Word document had some formatting issues and give it to Desma on Saturday. Our course is almost over and the test looks like it's going to be on the 28 of November. It's going to be a special time for Barbie because the 29 November is her GOTCHA DAY! :) I have also made a bit of progress with targetting. I can now get Barbie to jump onto the couch to touch my hand with her nose. I can't reliably get her to jump up on her back legs to touch my hand but I think we will get there. She is a little uncoordinated, so when I got her to do it yesterday, she kicked me in the chest once, and kicked me in the mouth once. I should probably start using a target stick for this kind of thing but I think she will get more coordinated. Anyway I may be able to get her riled up by targetting for the 'jazz up, settle down' part of the test. She enjoys targetting, as she enjoys 'commando'. She doesn't enjoy stay like she enjoys moving :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sugar High

When N came home last night, I bought out the lolly bowl, it contained the left over lollies from Ikea (crunchy caramel things) and a bunch of Minties (which are pretty much mint flavoured gelatine mixed with sugar). We went out to dinner, left the dogs inside, and forgot about the lolly bowl. Barbie had investigated the lollies a couple of times but for some reason I didn't think about putting them away before we left.

We walked around the corner to our local favorite restruant, and had a leisurely dinner. We left about an hour and a half later because, as is typical for her first night back from work, N was falling asleep.

I walked into the living room and noticed the lolly bowl was empty. There were empty caramel wrappers on the floor, and the Minties had disappeared. I suspect that Barbie was the one who unwrapped the caramels before eating. They had fairly loose wrappers so it wouldn't be that hard. The Minties are harder to unwrap so they got eaten, paper and all.

Barbie and Bender then proceeded to play tug of war, wrestling and chase for over an hour. They were like little kids who had gotten into the red cordial and soft drink at a birthday party. Barbie's new monkey toy was almost torn limb from limb. When Bender eventually (and somewhat inevitably) won the battle, I had to trade him a piece of cooked chicken breast from my leftover dinner the night before so that he didn't proceed to disembowel it. We took them for a little walk around the block, and Barbie was pulling on the lead. By the time we got home though, maybe two hours after they had eaten all those lollies they had both calmed down. They slept well last night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whispering in the night

While crate training Barbie, we found the only really effective way to stop her whinging her lungs out, was to move her crate to the bedroom.

The problem with this is that Barbie often talks in her sleep.

When I was younger, I had a border collie X blue heeler called Lucy and she used to talk in her sleep too. She always slept in my bedroom because I was living in a shared-house at that point in time. The first time she did it, she barked with her mouth closed. It almost sounded like an evil clown laughing. Lucy sometimes cried in her sleep but most often it was this closed-snout bark. Barbie's vocalisations while asleep are more varied though. She goes from huffing and puffing like she is chasing something, to squeaking, to that muffled closed mouth bark. Sometimes she even growls. Sometimes she kicks her crate or hits it with her wagging tail. She must have quite vivid dreams!

Last night I woke up with a start because it sounded like there was a stranger in the room whispering something. I swear they sounded like English words. Once I was fully awake though I realised that it was Barbie huffing.

She has actually grown to accept her crate finally. On mornings where she gets squeezed off the bed, sometimes she will give up and voluntarily curl up in her crate. I always give her a treat at bedtime when she goes in the crate and she doesn't complain anymore. She does the quietest little squeaks in the morning when she wants to go out. She is a fairly subtle dog. I think it may be all about energy conservation. Why put effort into making a lot of noise when some tiny squeaks will do?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Running at Whiteman

Not sure how much longer Barbie's wire muzzle is going to last, I pulled it out of my bag yesterday and one of the bits of wire (the bit that goes over her snout) had bent and come off the cage. I have fixed it with the help of some needle nosed pliers, but I think I may have to get a plastic one as it may be more durable and better for the beach and river where there is lots of salt water.

The cage is less obtrusive though, and now that it is dirty you can hardly see it from a distance!

Anyway I let them go for a run in the dog park, and they got filthy. It's very dry around Whiteman at the moment and the dust they stir up when they run is epic. They also have an old concrete horse trough in the middle of the park, and both dogs like to lie in the water to cool down. They come out wet and then the dust sticks to them.

I got scratched on the legs - not sure who did it, it was either the Husky puppy who could smell the treats in my pocket, or the pug x jack russell which was pretty hyper and cute.

I then grabbed them and took them to a 'vintage' bike show which was on one of the grassy areas of the park, near the pool and the motor museum. It was mainly just BMX-type bikes and so I just passed through. There were a lot of kids around, and a little girl said, 'look, it's like Santa's Little Helper!'

I said 'do you want to pat her?'

And the little girl said 'oooo can I?'

Barbie stood nicely for pats and closed her eyes when she got scritched on the neck. Bender was impatient and kept dancing around. They asked if they could pat him and I said yes, but he was much wetter and dirtier than Barbie and would not stay still. Barbie was definately the crowd favorite.

When I got home they both slept for hours. I thought about going for a ride, but hung up the 5-hook coat rack that I bought for them. I'm not that great with the drill yet, and made a bit of a mess of the wall, but you can't see it behind the rack. Now all of their gear is hanging up neatly and is easy to find!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

CGC class

We had a pretty good CGC class this morning. We identified something Barbie needs to work on - standing still when someone is looking at her teeth. She kept her feet planted for everything else but she walked backwards when Desma looked in her mouth. Desma also said that for the 'calm an excited dog' part of the test I'm going to have to get Barbie excited, otherwise she might not pass. She suggested getting Barbie to jump for a target as I've started target training already. It's going to be interesting as if I put my hand above her head she thinks that's the sit signal. I will have to work on it. We have homework. I need to work on her forward turns for agility too.

We actually let them off leash for a run around. Barbie had Bowi up against the wall of the playpen because she was trying to play chasey but he didn't want to. 5 dogs running around in an enclosed space got Barbie excited. Poppy and Kumo got a bit gruff with each other and Barbie was concerned but she stayed out of it and I got her back OK. All the dogs recalled within 20 seconds the first time, and the second time Desma had to grab Kumo because he was getting a bit too into it with the staffy.

We went to City Farmers on the way home, and someone said, as they were walking past 'what a pretty dog', so I invited them to come and pat her. They did and Barbie enjoyed it. She also went up to a couple of teenagers asking for pats. She is going to become a little social butterfly soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Agillity class

When I got home this evening, I couldn't resist little Bender's face, so I decided to take him to agility instead of Barbie and see how he went. He was a handful. He was overstimulated, stirred up dogs, and when I let him off lead he stole another dog's ball and refused to give it back, then he tried to jump on a woman in order to steal a squeaky toy!

I had a cloth rope for him, and I was using it to motivate him to do 'circle work' it worked well, though he didn't want to let go of the rope. T said he should let go of the rope a couple of times and told me he should let go if I put my fingers in his mouth! I don't think he realised that Bender has a very very strong jaw. Then I twigged. If I let go, he would too. That worked a treat. He did bite my hand a few times when he went to grab the rope. It hurt and now my hand is bruised. I need a longer rope! A greyhound would never do that to my hand! :P

After he stole the other dog's ball I had to break out the 'emergency tennis ball' I keep in my glovebox in order to get the other dogs ball back. He destroyed the 'emergency' ball and kept throwing it at random people. They kicked it for him. I managed to get his attention though, and using the mangled ball as a reward we got him to do the full tunnel. I could almost direct him through it. He kept sneaking around the jump, so we had him sit/stay close to the jump and then go over. Barbie was less of a 'cheater'. All in all they did about the same amount of work. I think Bender's noise sensitivities are going to be an obstacle for him, as he started a bit when he heard a dog thunder over the A-frame. It really depends how focussed and confident he becomes.

There is another dog there called Bender as well. What are the odds! The other Bender is more advanced though so at least they don't get too confused.

Barbie is going to week 3 of her CGC tomorrow, and she won't have the 'agility hangover' so hopefully will be a bit more sprightly. It will be Barbie's turn to go next week, then Bender's and then hopefully Nic will be able to come and we can bring both dogs ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Dog-Human bond & Nail Cutting!

I've never cut a dog's nails before, but the nails on Barbie's front two feet don't seem to wear down appropriately (her back ones are always the right length). Anyhow, her front end nails are all black and it's impossible to see the quick, so I was very conservative in my snips. She was lying relaxed on the couch, and I just cosied up to her, took her paw and started cutting! It was amazing. She just laid there and gazed sweetly up at me. I did take a little long and she got a bit impatient towards the end. I think I will need to give them another snip soon because I didn't take enough off but I was being careful.

Took both the dogs out with a friend this evening. I asked her which one she wanted to walk, and she chose Barbie. Bender pulled hard because he knew that we were going to the P-A-R-K. The damn dog has an inbuilt GPS and knows where every park is within a 3k radius of home. I deliberately didn't bring a ball, because without it he will socialise with other dogs, and then he might find some ratty old thing lying around in the park.

K had a hard time getting Barbie to listen to her. I gave her treats and encouraged her to use them liberally. I told her she needed to bond with Barbie in order for her to listen. She seemed to get it, when we went to the park and I let them off leash, Bender immediately grabbed another dog's ball. They were playing very close to the gate. It was a hollow rubber 'super bounce' but it must have been brittle because they said 'he broke it as soon as he put it in his mouth, he might as well have it now'. Bender came to me with a tiny bit of ball in his mouth but I didn't realise it was theirs. I kicked it for him a few times, and the woman came over and said 'is that the remains of our ball because I'm trying not to be pissed off but I am'. I was like 'urm, I guess so, do you want it back?' K found the main part of the ball and returned it to them. Their dog was happy to play with it but the woman snivelled about it. Bender found another dead tennis ball somewhere else. I guess we have to bring Bender's own ball and accept that he won't socialise.

Barbie was mostly good. She was running around with the dog whose ball had been stolen though, and it was snapping at her. The owners were telling it off. I told them it was OK, but they didn't want their dog snapping. K tried to call Barbie but it was like she wasn't there. I called Barbie and she finally broke away from the dog, and I shooed her off to another part of the park. She got snapped at by another dog, and got to play with the Border Collie.

I was most happy with Barbie though because while I was looking the other way, someone had left the gate open, and she slipped out of the park. She trotted down the road a little way - to the bowling club. She came back when I called though.

Cheeky puppy.

Walking back we saw a transit guard that I know near the train station. We stopped so that she could meet the dogs. Bender was happy to say hello though Barbie was being a bit aloof. I think she was just stressed about being close to the evil railway crossing that she is scared of. Barbie did allow pats though when I got her attention.

Agility class tomorrow. I will get there a bit earlier and let Barbie have a run. Hopefully then she will stay focussed when she needs to and not have any more zoomies at inappropriate times. Thinking about making her wear her little white cotton t-shirt too, so I can actually see her when it starts getting dark.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day in the Life of...

Sunday we joined the GAP walk around the Swan River. I borrowed a long line and Barbie went right in to her shoulder and then dunked her head in the water. Bender and Barbie led the pack the whole way and I think they found the pace a little slow. There were two fosters there, a black and white called Solo and a fawn and white called Bandit. Solo was my favorite, I have a thing for the big black and white ones.

This morning, I let Barbie outside for her wee, and then back in, and went back to bed as usual. Then I heard Barbie tearing it up in the living room and letting out a few barks. I got up and she had put my shoe on her bed and was running around like a crazy dog. I guess she didn't get enough exercise on Sunday!

Today we took them to the park, to practice Barbie's restrained recall and have a run. It was a bit warmer today and so Barbie had had it after trotting back and forth 20 metres between us. Nic called her and she went to trot back to her but then laid down in the middle of us! She rested while Bender played, and then when the sun went down, Barbie had a second wind.

A medium sized poodle came into the park and Barbie revved it up until it chased her, teeth a snapping! She is such a stirrer. The owner of the poodle thought it was funny so I let them play for a bit, called Barbie back and then the poodle decided it wanted to go home.

Next a young Border Collie, and a younger Border Collie cross came in the gate. I told Barbie to go say hi, and she went to meet the Border. Her name was Mishka and she was the perfect playmate! Barbie ran past her and she chased! Then Barbie chased back, and ran wide. Barbie then ran wide around a few times. Louie the Golden Retriever puppy arrived after all the sprinting, and Barbie was lying on the grass. Louie jumped on her, but she was very nice to him. She is very tolerant of puppies!

Bender had found a few balls and was getting people to throw them, but he also socialised with the other dogs. Eventually I retrieved Bender (he was off playing with someone else, as usual), and we went home. Barbie flopped down on her cushion, and she hasn't moved since. We were gone for an hour and a half. Hopefully she won't do morning zoomies again tomorrow!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Running of the Dogs

Video of Bender, Barbie and their mates playing at Ellenbrook. I stole the song from one of Sweetheart's videos. :) Bacon is a dog's best friend, after all!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Barbie's first agility class

I took Barbie to an oval in Bassendean, very close to the train line, for her first agility class. The rank beginners were taken by an instructor called T. He was a very cool guy. The very first exercise we did was about calling and turning the dog. The first time I called Barbie and went to turn her, she came to me, but then looked up and saw the wide open spaces and took off. She ran into a very dark adjacent park and I could barely see her shadow moving I followed her over there and then called, she came barrelling back, and past me, and then back to me again. After that T didn't want me to let her offleash much. I think she scared the beejesus out of everyone.

She did the straight tunnel for the first time ever, jumped well, and also did the low dogwalk the first time I asked her to. I think she is going to get confident enough with the obstacles, she spent most of the night sitting well and looking at me expectantly. She did good sit/stays as well. I need to work on restrained recalls in order to get her reliability up. We need some discipline in wide open spaces. Crazy dog's eyes lit up when she saw all that space.

I think we are going to have fun with this. Barbie also coped really well with the trains swishing past every 20 minutes or so.

She also jumped into my SUV tonight unassisted for the first time ever!

At the end of the class I let her off to play with T's border collies. Barbie chased them a little, and then ran into the little storeroom where all the agility stuff is kept. I asked T if there was any food in there, and he seemed surprised, 'there is, actually!'

There as a big knob of polony on the sink. T came in and snatched it up. He gave Barbie a bit and then she kept sniffing around the sink. She didn't really want to play with the Borders, which is interesting, so I took them home.

T said he would really love to see Barbie run a course, and so would I. We are going to work with directional stuff and restrained recalls in the park.

Go Barbie!

She has another CGC class tomorrow. I think agility is going to help her with her CGC as well.

It's funny because all the things that are challenges for the other dogs in the class are challenges for Barbie, but for the opposite reason. The dog has to stay calmly in the car, have it's leash clipped on, and wait to be told to jump out, without a lure. I think Barbie is getting there with that.

They need to stand calmly by the handler while we talk to a 'friendly stranger' - most dogs have the problem of being overstimulated and hyper, but Barbie had to build the confidence to let normal people pat her.

I need to train her to not react when someone loudly drops a package on the floor nearby as well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I will spare you the photo...

My Significant Other has been at a training course this week, and she has been arriving home fairly early, at about 1630 or so. The dogs have had to endure being shut inside all day while we are at work because of the previously mentioned failure of our fence (it just occurred to me I should post pics of the fence for posterity! I will attend to this and edit the previous entry, post haste, when I get home).

Anyway, I left them outside to do their business for half an hour this morning, but because we don't usually shut them inside, I'm not sure both dogs understood what they were meant to be doing out there.

When I bought them back inside and got ready to leave, Bender was standing at the back door with a pitiful look on his face. I thought he was saying 'not again! I'll be so BORED'

Turns out he was saying, 'hold on a minute, there's something I forgot to do while I was outside'.

So Nic sent me a photo of the resultant deposit on the tiles. It is far too huge to be Barbie's poop. I feel a bit bad. He did try to tell me. I just hope he 'gets' that he's going to be shut inside all day tomorrow and uses his morning garden time accordingly.

At least he pooped on the tiles and not on the long-suffering carpet which is just recovering from Barbie's previous overnight assaults on it. Assaults which could only be stopped by crate training!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

There's that woman again!

I ride my bike to work every day. Well one of my bikes. Mostly I switch between my Giant CRX2 flat bar roadie and my Surly Long Haul Trucker. Sometimes I ride the xtracycle and that gets a lot of attention.

Anyway, I was at the lights yesterday morning waiting for my turn, and noticed a guy rock up on a CRX with nice looking mudguards on it. I was checking them out, and the rider said to me...

"Wow, how many bikes have you got?"

I said "four, but only 3 I ride in to work regularly".

He said 'thought so', and we turned our attention back to the lights.

On to the dogs....

When I got home yesterday, Nic told me that the fence had broken. We live on a strata titled block, and the fence between us and our strata neighbours has cracked along the bottom. Their soil level is probably 2 inches below ours, so the constant pressure of the soil against the fence, along with naughty Bender, jumping on the fence, has lead it to break. It's an old asbestos type fence, so it is pretty brittle. It is also covered by the strata insurance. I'm hoping we get a nice new colorbond steel fence to replace it, otherwise it's likely to crack along the bottom again. We are thinking about adding some obstacle to stop Bender from getting down the side, as he's jumping on the fence more than we realised, and it's annoying the neighbours a little. They have a gorgeous rottie called Jaeger (yeah he's a young 20-something dude and typically named his dog after alcohol). Jaeger doesn't bark or retaliate at all. He is only 18 months old but he is the most placid, lovely beast. He barked a bit when he first moved in but has settled down a lot. He does howl when he is left home alone at night though. Nic thinks we should introduce the dogs in a neutral environment but I'm not sure it's going to stop Bender being an idiot.

While the fence is broken, the dogs are going to be in the house while we are at work. The fence is likely to be fixed on Friday, so that means they have four days of 8 hours being shut inside. This suits Barbie just fine, as she will sleep alternately on a cushion, on the couch, and perhaps on our bed. Bender, I expect, will go a little stir crazy without being able to sniff the air and bark and jump on fences!

I think we are going to install a gate there so that we can shut Bender out of that part of the yard. We never actually go down there anyway so it might be a good place for an outdoor cat enclosure. The cats would definately appreciate that. There is a piece of garden fence type wire strung across the gap at the moment so we can let Bender outside without having to supervise him the whole time. Jaeger hasn't shown the slightest interest in getting into our yard.

He is such a cool dog. I hope they all get along. I think Bender might be a bit of a beast and try to hump him though. I'm not sure that they are compatible as Bender finds larger male dogs difficult to cope with. I guess we have to try.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Canine Good Citizen and Separate River Visits

This morning Barbie went to her first Canine Good Citizen class. She is so good sometimes it feels like we are cheating some how. She is quite subdued in class. I am going to have to get her to be a bit more 'up' at agility classes. After coming away from that class, I think I'm going to have to work on getting her jumping out of the car more willingly. We have to open the door, not body block the dog at all (which is going to be a bit hard with the Civic), put the leash on, then the dog is supposed to jump out on command. No treats as lures. It's going to be interesting. I need to use the Civic I think because my car requires a treat bribe to jump out of.

We went to the river after class, and Barbie met a greyhound friend. I let her off the leash and she went for a run. I recalled her, and she was heading back at usual velocity when the other greyhound decided to chase. They ran together quite a way and they were pretty equally matched. Barbie wanted to go again but the other grey had had enough after one chase. Barbie then tried to get a teeny dog to chase her by running past it, and sort of running while playbowing at the same time, dancing around like the clown that she can be.

She wasn't paying me enough heed when I called her so I leashed her and we went for a stroll. We met a Whippet. The Whippet's mother was very interested in Barbie and asked a lot of questions. Barbie really wasn't much bigger than the Whippet!

I bought Barbie home, we rested a little, and then I took Bender down to the river for a doggie date with two mini Schnauzer puppies, Sonny and Tacoma.

Who said the greyhounds get to hog all the 'action shots'?

Tacoma and Sonny were a bit scared of Bender at first.

but then they realised that he was a big softie and wasn't going to eat them.

They were a little confused that they couldn't fit the ball into their little mouths.

They were a little cheeky but I think they enjoyed their first outing to the river!

Friday, October 8, 2010

One Collar For Life - A Generational Perspective

As a kid there were always animals in our family home. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, a chook, a rat...

The first dog I remember was a rough collie cross called Basil Brush (we called him Barry mostly). He had a flea allergy and always had a bald patch near his tail. He was pretty old when I was a kid and I don't remember interacting with him a lot. My dad used to put his shirts on him. He was a pretty cool dog. His flea allergy could have been dealt with pretty easily nowadays with regular application of Frontline or one of the other very effective flea spot ons.

Then there was a border collie cross called 'Rags'. Rags jumped the very short fence and got hit by a car. She was a bit of a manic dog. Again I was too young to really handle her or appreciate how smart she was. She didn't make it past 9 months.

After Rags my mother swore not to get another dog, but probably a week later we came home with a little brown pup from the pet shop. He cost $10. This was Rusty. He was a Kelpie cross. He turned out to be a bit foul tempered. He used to snap at my brother and I but we did like to test his boundaries by lying on him and pushing him around, or standing over him and pretending he was a 'horsie'. Rusty had the same collar for almost his entire life. It was a red studded buckle collar which came from the pet section at Kmart. His vaccinations were always up to date but he ate cheap dog food from the supermarket, and again, hardly any flea prevention. He was very territorial and liked to terrify the postman or anyone else who came near his boundary fence. When I was 14 he became my best mate, and I used to walk him every day. He liked to swim in the river and he always came back when I called him. I was always watchful and made sure he didn't eat any toxic blowfish. He had a couple of close calls but never actually ate one. He was never really taught anything the way my dogs are trained he just picked things up as we went along. He definately had dominance issues, he used to push through doorways to get out first, and he didn't like anyone interfering with him when he was asleep on the couch. When I left home, I think my dad walked him occasionally but I don't think my mum liked to because he would pull on the lead. When I went back to visit he would spend the whole time glued to my legs, and would cry for hours when I left.

Compare his life to the live Bender and Barbie have now.... they eat top quality kibble, are on very effective flea prevention. I remember when I was a kid I thought that all dogs had fleas and that was a given. There are no fleas on my dogs. If they scratch or bite themselves I always check them and check the calendar to make sure I haven't missed their flea prevention. Barbie already has her second collar, and will probably get more as fashion accessories. She also has a sleeping coat and a t-shirt. I will get her a cooling coat for summer. Bender is also on his second but I think I may have to replace it because the plastic buckle is starting to be less secure. They both have harnesses, and Bender has been through a few leashes (one which fell apart on the way to doggie daycare one day). There is no way one collar would last a lifetime on one of my dogs. They go out too much. Their leashes are used every day, sometimes in rough conditions (at the beach or river). Bender is particularly hard on collars and ID tags because he is always on the move. I have paid for training courses for Barbie (Canine Good Citizen starts tomorrow! yay!) and I spend time almost every night training them. They are both microchipped so if they get lost we don't have to rely on their collars staying on or their tags being readable when they are found.

The difference in how the dogs are looked after is striking. I definately have more disposable income than my folks did, back then. That is definately part of it. And the dog doesn't care if it has a $10 collar or a $30 collar, as long as it has one. I think the awareness around positive reinforcement training for me started when I got my first dog, and realised that I didn't want my dogs to be like grumpy old Rust. Bender in particular is a model citizen in this regard. When we were lying at the river watching the Avon Descent on the big screen, a random 13 year old girl just leapt on him for a cuddle. He wagged his tail and licked her. Not sure what Rusty would have done in the same situation.... putting more effort into recall and obedience happened after my first dog, Lucy, got hit by a car because she decided that she was going to take herself for a walk after escaping out of the front door. Both dogs have health insurance. When I was a kid private health insurance for humans was even a bit of a strange concept.

So how has the way you care for your animals differed from your parents? Do you treat the dogs you have now differently from the first dogs you ever had?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - New Collar, and Couch Monster

Mr BodySlam

Sure, Bender can look sweet and cuddly. If you are a Golden Retriever or a Labrador though, he will be intent on wrestling with you!

We took the dogs to the local fenced park last night, and the golden retriever puppy that Barbie met some weeks ago was there. I almost didn't recognise him because the little fella has had a great growth spurt. He is now almost as tall as Bender at the shoulder but very skinny. The retriever's parents saw Barbie streaking through the park first, then they saw me. I introduced Nic and Bender. Bender immediately started wrestling with the pup. The pup didn't seem to mind playing rough but we separated them a few times just because the pup was so lanky, and Bender is so adept at wrestling.

I sent Barbie off for a run, and she ran all the way to the other side of the park, up to the BBQ she loves to sniff and is hesitant to recall from. Bender chased after her but was already lagging behind. I called and she came back straight away, Bender arriving well after her.

We don't take Bender's ball to this park because we want him to socialise with other dogs, rather than just obsessively fetching. It usually works until he spots someone with a ball, who he will then harrass and stare at until they throw it for him. After their run though, Bender spotted a ball. The pup's dad had been hiding it very well until that moment. He just stared and stared at the guy's hand. He didn't know what Bender wanted until we pointed out it was the ball. He threw it for Bender and Bender duly destroyed it, but I think he enjoyed watching Bender fetch. A couple of times the pup took the ball and Bender waited patiently for an opportunity to snatch it back. Once Barbie started chasing the pup as well as Bender for the ball - I told her off and she stopped. Two on one is definately not fair!

We got fish n chips on the way home and the pups waited with me outside. They were very well mannered and did not try to sniff passing strangers. They both seemed very satisfied with their outing!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Miss Whingy Pants

(yes I have been playing with photoshop and cafepress again - made this into a coffee mug so that Nic and I can both stare at our mutts when we are at work)

Nic was at home today, and apparently Barbie was whinging at the window when she thought it was time for me to be home. She was only 10 minutes off. She is certainly a creature of routine/habit.

At around 6 she starts following us around, looking at us hopefully, flapping her tail, and squeaking. This is Barbie asking for dinner. She gets fed at 6.30.

If she doesn't get a walk by 7.30 she starts squeaking again. She will sometimes come up to you, look you in the eye, whack her tail against the furniture and sing. If you don't respond she will go and lie down somewhere, but will continue her vocal encouragement. She usually gets her way in the end, and she will only give up if it gets past 8.30 and you haven't gotten up from the couch.

I was impressed with her last night though. Nic stayed up to watch the Commonwealth games, and I went to bed. I put Barbie in her crate and she settled down to sleep despite the fact that the tv was still on as were the lights.

We were accosted by another uncontrolled off leash dog near the park tonight. Barbie was well mannered, though he did have some dominant body language going on. Bender was beside himself. He didn't know whether he wanted to play or fight. The owner came and leashed his dog. Definitely better than the fox terrier's owner!

Barbie is asleep next to me at the moment. I have been tinkering with the computer for a while... I guess I should go interact... ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Just a normal dog

(head out the window - proof that Barbie is a just a dog)

I think sometimes people don't treat greyhounds as dogs at all. They are a little different to the average mutt, in that they can run very, very fast. However, I would argue, that if a dog has unreliable recall, it doesn't matter what their top speed is. Case in point, the tiny fox terrier that harassed us a few nights ago. All dogs are still faster than (most) humans can run. If they can't be recalled they can get themselves into an awful lot of trouble. I was really worried I would see that dog get hit by a car that night.

I believe that there are people that think greyhounds are just expensive couch decorations and foot warmers. I have high hopes for Barbie blazing some new trails for greyhounds in WA. I can't wait to let her loose on the agility obstacles, and am looking forward to the day she gets her Canine Good Citizen certificate. I will be sharing her achievements with everyone involved in Greyhounds As Pets here in WA, hopefully inspiring other greyhound people to give everything a go.

I took Barbie to the beach again today, but I didn't get any photos because there were a lot of other dogs and people around. Nic is still not confident that Barbie will return when she is called. It is scary how much ground she can cover, but she comes back at the same speed!

We ran into a friend at the beach, with her dog. She recognised Bender before she saw us. She hadn't met Barbie and was pretty impressed with her speed. Barbie was running around, splashing in the water and generally playing like a puppy. There were 3 kids who had buried themselves in the sand close to us, and she kept running past them. Their father liked her, though he did think she was a Whippet. She is small, but not that small! Then Barbie noticed they were digging to put sand onto themselves, so she started digging next to them. I don't think the kids appreciated her flicking sand and water all over their faces, so I called her back. I let her run again, and she ran right past them at top speed. Then she did a wide circle and headed up towards the beach track. Nic stressed but she came when she was called. She was limping though. I put her back on the lead as a precaution but she was walking OK. She is a sensitive petal.

Bender destroyed 3 cheap tennis balls and so he had to go back on the lead as well. I think it was a good day for everyone, and I hope that Nic is getting more confident with handling Barbie off leash.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Agility and Birthdays

I checked Barbie's adoption paperwork yesterday to find out her exact birthday, and it only says October 2007 - so I don't know what actual date of birth is. I was sure I'd seen it written somewhere else :P

Anyway, I have ordered her a halloween-themed martingale for her birthday, I hope it arrives soon! I think maybe we will save the cake and other festivities for her 'gotcha' day, which is 29 November (2009).

Agility classes start up again on the 15 October 2010. I had sent an email to the agility coordinator just flagging the fact that Barbie is a greyhound, and they didn't seem to have any particular breed-prejudice. The reply did state that they had only seen one grey attempt agility - a two-speed hound by the sounds of it. He said that it's 'safety first' so they would insist on us progressing slowly with equipment. I told him that there is NO WAY Barbie would attempt something if she wasn't confident about it.... she has the most refined sense of self preservation when it comes to agility obstacles. As long as she understands the agility field is for agility and not for zoomies I'm sure she will be fine! I guess I will have to keep an eye out for her in terms of attention span - I don't want her wandering off sniffing things when she has had enough.

Anyway the 15th of October is a convenient date because it means that Nic will be in town as well so the puppies can both come to the first class/night. I think to be fair I will alternate dogs so it will go:

Week1 - both
Week2 - Barbie
Week3 - both
Week4 - Bender

I tried to get a friend of mine who is very close to Bender and has a history with Staffies to handle Bender once a fortnight but she said no :( I expect that when both dogs get used to the atmosphere I can bring them both and alternately crate one or the other.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Longest Tongue Contest....

Greyhounds can have long tongues, and they often escape from their mouths at strange angles....

but noone can compete with Bender's tongue.

It starts off small, and then he fetches his ball ten million times.

His tongue expands to the point that it would be impossible to put it back inside his mouth.

Bender's tongue has been described by his friends as a slab of meat. Surprisingly he hasn't bitten his own tongue yet.

I think Bender wins. Heheh.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A night of training/play in our house

I generally do about 5 to 10 minutes of training every night with the dogs, and then take them on a half hour walk. Tonight on our walk, I spotted a white thing running across the road. I realised it was a dog by it's gait, and it was hassling another pedestrian on the other side of the road. It's owner stormed after it yelling it's name over and over... 'ROXY ROXY ROXY SIT STAY ROXY ROXY!' I realised that it would probably run to us but was hoping that he would get it back under control. He got it back into the park and I thought he would have the sense to put it on a leash. Then I saw it running after someone else in the park, barking and yapping at this person. The owner was yelling at the dog like he was going to kill it. Then it noticed us and came to us. It has a really aggressive demeanour and Barbie was having none of it. She barked at it, and when she did it darted away. I went wide so that if it ran it would only run to the park. Eventually the owner's yelling convinced the dog to move away from us and it zipped back into the park again. I told the guy that he needed to take her someplace with a fence or keep her on the leash. I hope she doesn't end up in a shelter, or worse get killed by a car. He really had no clue.

Barbie got to run offleash quite a bit in the previous 5 days, and I think more off leash time makes her more feisty. We didn't go out at all last night because I was busy doing other things, and she decided that she would just roll around on the carpet talking to try and convince me.

When I get home she now does the same thing as Bender, she goes straight for her toys! Anyway I decided to harness that energy. Who would have thought a greyhound could crawl so fast?

I then bought Bender in for some work. Bender demonstrates his version of 'commando' - Barbie does a great down/stay with distraction (considering how much she loves to commando herself), then Barbie does roll over and Bender does a spin for good measure.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I love OK GO!

Some of you guys will remember the OK GO video clip, with the choreographed treadmills? Well the latest video clip from them has also gone viral. It features some very well trained shelter dogs and is very very cute.

There has been a lot of talk of puppy farms in Australia today and there was a puppy farm expose during prime time by our celebrity vet - Dr Chris Brown. There was a puppy farm discovered in Gippsland, Victoria which was busted by the RSPCA, though there are still some dogs stuck there.

On the show last night they stated that 50% of dogs in Australia came from squalid puppy factories! I definitely support banning pet shops from trading in puppies and kittens. There is a pet shop near our house which specialises in designer dogs, and say that their dogs don't come from 'puppy factories' but who knows! They do a roaring trade and the amount of money they charge for these pups make them a very lucrative trade.

I will never buy any products again from a shop which sells puppies and kittens. I will stick to our local City Farmers, where my dogs are welcome, good quality kibble and toys are plentiful, and the only animals sold there are very healthy looking fish.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crate Training - Progress with the Princess

So Barbie got her way, a little, the crate has been moved into the bedroom. Now she quietly whinges when she finishes her crate-treat, then woke me up at 4.30, let me go back to sleep, and I let her out at 5.30. Progress.

I also gave her a little water bowl, the kind that you use for birds that hangs on the side of the crate. Wow, her drinking is loud at night!

I think we are now making better progress. Yay. For the first time in a week I feel like I will make it through the day at work without staring blankly at my monitor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Take me to the river.... dunk my face in the water

Today, we visited Riverside Gardens, an offleash dog exercise area near the Swan River. Barbie wasn't off leash the whole time as she kept trying to wander off, but I let her have a bit of a run. Here is a small fluffy trying to figure out why this strange dog is plunging her head under the water.

Barbie doing her 'plowing her face through the water' trick. She dips her head right under and then 'pops' out of the water, jumping up, and then sprinting out. I am yet to successfully capture this maneuver!

This staffy thought she could catch Barbie. Big mistake!

Oh, and I took some video at the beach yesterday. Bender is no slouch when it comes to running but Barbie can smoke him easily. Watching these two run around makes me think other dogs are moving in slow motion!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Warning: Kangaroos Crossing

We spotted a kangaroo crossing at the beach today....

Maybe she gets called 'roo dog' because she looks like one, not because anyone expects her to catch them.

The beach was very quiet today because of the overcast sky.

Though Barbie and Bender did find a young black puppy to join them in their games.

Barbie did a bit of running in the surf, but because it was not very warm outside, she tried to avoid getting her paws too wet...

Bender's ears flapped in the wind as he chased his ball over and over again

Bender's sandyface on the way home....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Finding voice...

Since I have been making Barbie sleep in her crate, and she has decided to whinge about it... she has become more vocal all round. I'm not sure if I like this new trend.

Last night she started up a conversation off her own bat. We were watching TV, having just finished eating our dinner, and Barbie was lying on the carpet near my feet.

Barbie: Hey, I think you have forgotten something
Me: I am really getting sick of the sound of your voice, Barbie.
Barbie: Get your ass off that couch, there is something you are meant to do before you get too comfortable
Me: Are you sure there is nothing wrong with you? The way you are carrying on, I might have to take you to the VET!
Barbie gets up off the floor and moves to the spare couch, groaning loudly as she flops down.
Barbie: You humans are so damn LAZY
Me: Do you want to go out then?
Barbie leapts up off the couch, ears swivelling into full antenna mode, and begins dancing in front of me.

We took them out for their walk although it was very windy out. They were both a bit on edge because of all the strange noises and smells. Barbie was also quite disappointed that we went on our usual boring route, so she dragged her feet, or heeled perfectly expecting treats. She wasn't that interested in sniffing the world around her.

I think they are both looking forward to summer and more daylight, which means more off leash exercise, and trips to the beach and the river. I suppose to make them more satisfied I could always get up early and take them out at dawn, but am I that devoted? Not so sure!

As for the crate, well, Barbie still hates it and refuses to accept it without a whingefest. I put some classical music on for her to keep her company and she still whinged a little after she was bored with her peanut butter stuffed Kong. She went to sleep after that, only to wake up and whinge at 2.30, then 3.30, then 4.30ish, then 6. This was the 7th night in the crate. She is as stubborn as ever. I am not sure she is ever going to accept being crated overnight at this rate. It is a great pity because I thought it would be a really handy thing to get her used to. I also think it's the only way to ensure that she is 100% house broken, though we are going to rip the carpet in the living room up soon - maybe once the stinky carpet is gone she will stop peeing on it!
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