Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weather Detectors

This photo of Barbie and Froufrou snuggling is from last winter.

You can tell that the weather is getting colder when the animals start curling up together, and when the dogs both want to be snuggled on the bed in the morning.
For the first time in months, Bender squeezed himself under the doonah this morning and plonked himself right on top of me. I had to shove him over so that I didn't lose feeling in my legs. I think my favorite part about the cooler weather is extra snuggles from the furkids. It doesn't get too cold here though - we are more at the 'baking heat' end of the weather spectrum. I am glad that the 'baking heat' is abating.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Greyhound Vampires

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Substance that Defeated Barbie's Iron Stomach

Sure, it wasn't you, was it, Princess?

The dogs always get something raw with kibble for dinner. I went to the shops last week, and they had chicken livers and chicken necks. I decided to get both even though the dogs hadn't had liver before. I put one liver each in their bowls, as well as 4 chicken necks and a cup of kibble. I fed Barbie in her crate as usual, and Bender in the kitchen/dining area as usual. I noticed Bender licked all the kibble off his chicken liver. He didn't think it was edible, so he left it in his bowl.

Barbie sauntered in and took the chicken liver from his bowl and ate it on her bed. She was keeping an eye on Bender all the time to make sure he wasn't going to attack her for taking it. She seemed to enjoy it very much.

The next day, I opened the front door and could smell something slightly bad. I thought I could smell the kitty tray, sometimes the house gets a bit musty and stinky when it is shut up all day. I let the dogs in, wheeled in my bike and then went to go to the bathroom, when I found a poo explosion. It was almost entirely liquid and was spattered on the walls. I was glad that she chose to do it in the bathroom - made it much easier to clean.

When I was cleaning it up, I thought, after having dogs having kids must be a breeze. For all the disgusting things dogs leave for you to clean up, kids cannot be much worse.

In other news, I made the following greyhound adoption PSA last night. It puts a couple of Barbie's tricks into use and I think is pretty cute. Hope you like it and feel free to share it.

Also, if you are after any copyright-free classical music, I found this awesome website called musopen. Check it out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Greyhounds on TV

Todd McKenny is a singing, dancing guy who loves greyhounds. He went on TV recently to promote his musical "The Boy from Oz" but spent half the interview talking about his two beautiful greyhounds.

I can't embed the video but the link is here.

PS - The NSW law to exempt GAP greyhounds from wearing a muzzle has not actually been passed yet but the Government has expressed support. There is an election happening in NSW today and the current Labor government is going to be defeated by a large margin so I hope that doesn't delay the law change for too long.

The WA GAP newsletter gives the following update:

We took the opportunity to inform the WA Minister for Local Government and ask what progress was being made with the review of the Dog Act in WA.

The following response was received in March -

.a similar amendment to Section 33 of the Dog Act 1976 is also proposed for Western Australia. This amendment will provide flexibility to allow retired greyhounds that have successfully undertaken a retraining program to be exempt from the muzzling requirement.

To ensure that the current proposed amendments remain appropriate, early this year I intend to request Cabinet's approval to draft a Green Bill.

Bender the Tracker...

Trackwest had an open day today, and I took Bender along (with a bit of encouragement from Desma) to see how he would go. As it was just me, I laid the scent trails, and Desma and the other instructor handled Bender. Bender did awesome! He was fired up and he followed the scent well. It is so easy to boost his energy up that there really wasn't anything special I did. I just took his tyre and rope and played tug o war with him at the end.

We put the dogs away and had morning tea together. The vibe of the club is really lovely. There isn't any competition between members - people are just in it to learn how to read their dogs really. All of the dogs can track. Bender has a great attitude for it. At morning tea our instructor said that there were a couple of dogs in her group that could get their TD title in one season if we were committed to it. Bender was one of them.

Desma was really impressed with how he went, and kept comparing him to her dog Blake. Blake is a bully breed like Bender so they have some shared genetic heritage and a similar mindset. High energy, single minded and stubborn. I asked what Blake was like when he was younger - just like Bender, hyper. And when asked to do something, so enthusiastic. Sometimes too enthusiastic, but for Tracking - it sounds like you can't possibly be too enthusiastic!

One hurdle though is going to be teaching Bender to pick up the scent articles. He has been taught for 5 years he's not allowed to pick up socks and other random bits of clothing, and now I have to teach him it's OK again. May not be easy with Bender considering how he consolidates what he has learned into very solid habits.

When I took Bender out I was very impressed with Barbie and how she handled herself. She did not howl. She merely gave me a pleading look as I left out of the front door. I think it's good that the dogs are used to doing things separately now. They have just accepted that is the way things are.

The cats always get left behind, so the dogs should be used to it too by now. When I got home, Barbie sang a little more than usual and gave Bender the third degree. Bender was pretty tired after doing 4 simple tracks to find me.

I took Barbie out to the river where we met two other greyhounds as soon as we got out of the car. One was a 12 year old lady, blue and white. She was off leash and came trotting over to us straight away. The guy had a black one on a leash - he was the foster so wasn't allowed off leash yet. He didn't have either of them muzzled though. I only muzzle Barbie when I let her off leash at Riverside Gardens so they got to meet each other without dealing with the face cage.

Barbie and the old lady said hello and then Barbie started waddling a bit - she needed to go to the toilet but didn't want to do it with these two greyhounds and their owner so close by, so I took her for a walk on the grass so she could go.

We went down to the water after that, and Barbie sat in it to cool down. I put the muzzle on and took her leash off and she laid down in the water. She did run a little but her recall was immediate and fast. She didn't stray very far away. Then she found a young mastiff x girl to play with. They chased each other around a bit, and even the 12 year old greyhound joined in. The mastiff x had never met a dog faster than her before but she loved it. The chasing ended after their third go at it when they collided a bit too heavily for the mastiff's liking. She was a young 18 month old pup so a little concerned about the impact. They both came back to where we were standing and we had a good yarn about greyhounds and dogs in general.

Her recall was so good today that I called her off chasing another dog! I think she is ready to give agility another go soon too.

I am so committed to my dogs! I can't help it though, I love them so. If I didn't, I don't think I would have them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Litchfield National Park & Darwin

So we spent the last 4 days in Darwin, and visited Litchfield National Park.

The highlights:

Friday night - catching up with a guy who I haven't seen since just after high school
Saturday - eating in a little Lebanese cafe and enjoying the breeze ahead of a storm, then going for a cruise with D & J in the 4x4 and going to Robin Falls... and smashing my knee on a rock... and seeing J's place and seeing his mum and sister and having a little catchup.

Sunday - Breakfast on Cullen Bay, watching the little fishies, getting a rental car and checking out Litchfield and Batchelor, dinner at a seafood restaurant on the sea, feeling the wind kick up as a storm blew in and eating awesome Red Emperor...

Monday - Breakfast at a random cafe in the city, visiting the museum and seeing Sweetheart the 780kg saltwater crocodile (who was accidentally killed when they were relocating him, so was stuffed and put on display), and the Cyclone Tracey exhibition.

The Northern parts of Australia have had a record breaking wet season, and the rainfall figures are something I find hard to comprehend being from an arid place like Perth. The rain is best illustrated by these waterfalls! (view these FULL SCREEN!)

Wangi Falls (Litchfield)

Tolmer Falls (Litchfield)

Now this one is for houndstooth because she likes street signs...

We're Baaack

Somewhat different report from the Kennel Guy this time. Bender was a bit jumpy with particular noises, but was mainly good. Bender is sometimes sensitive to noises and sometimes not, so I think it makes the guy a little confused about him. He has always been an inconsistient dog!

Barbie this time got LAZY written on her report card. She wanders around a bit, sniffs a bit, then goes back to sleep. Yep, she is now treating the kennel like home!

I've begun to consider putting them in a kennel for the 6 weeks we are in Europe instead of leaving them with a housesitter. I still want the kittehs to be housesat because they don't deal as well with being shoved into new environments, but if the dogs are in the kennels it means they have no chance to develop bad habits at home. It's always an option if we don't find the right person/people to look after the entire clan. The Kennel Guy said he had a couple of dogs stay with him for a whole year while their family went travelling, and it took the dogs a couple of minutes to recognise their owners when they came back!

I couldn't imagine leaving my pups for a whole year!

I will do a non-dog holiday post tonight - with some AMAZING waterfall footage :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

World's Greatest Shave & Slight Blog Hiatus

The before photo.....

Bender is a little dismayed with my new haircut.


The money I raised is used by the Leukaemia Foundation to fund services to support patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. All the services are free. My fundraising also funds blood cancer research to find better treatments and cures.

Donations can still be made by credit card if you want to sponsor me :)

You can do so by visiting my profile here before the 31 March 2011.

Also announcing a week long blog hiatus as I'll be going on a holiday! Will see you in a week! :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bender and Barbie hoop jumping

Bender is a great jumper, but we limit how much jumping he does these days because he tends to pull up sore in the wrists from an hour of running offleash fetching.. he did injure his right one jumping on the fence in our old house - we think he got his foot caught in some ivy on the way down and swelled up massively. We got it xrayed at the time and the vet couldn't see any damage, immobilised it for couple of weeks or so and it seemed to heal up OK. Anyway we are just looking out for him. In a few years he may not even get to do much off leash running unless he learns to slow down! Anyway, I decided I needed video of him jumping so that when he is older we can reminisce.

Barbie is a very confident and accurate jumper if she is moving at speed but not from a standing start. I think for her, all her spatial judgement and confidence comes at a minimum of 40kph!

Anyway, here they are having a bit of fun with a hula hoop.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Murdoch University Dog Wash Day

The Murdoch Uni Vet students do an annual dog wash, and they pick two dog-related charities each year to donate funds to. Today it was Greyhounds as Pets and Assistance Dogs Australia. GAP put the word out and we ended up with a massive number of dogs and owners.

I forgot my camera, which is one of the biggest sins of the blogosphere because there were so many lovely greyhounds there. Everyone had read about Barbie's CGC achievement and hopefully I have inspired some other greyhound owners to give it a shot. Greyhounds are so calm and reserved with each other on leash, and at least two of the big boys took to leaning their heads on Barbie's back. She didn't mind and just stood there. There was a big blue boy called Clyde who Barbie liked in particular.

Barbie was surrounded by first year vet students for a while and they were all asking questions. One of them said she didn't like big dogs because they jump up and are crazy - she had decided, seeing all these calm and lovely greys milling around with their owners, she said 'that is a kind of dog I could do'.

There was a woman with a lovely fawn boy, and he had a very cute question mark tail. She didn't adopt him from GAP and had only had him for a few months. She was asking me a lot of questions about training and treats. I told her I use Schmackos but it is cheaper sometimes to just cook up an extra steak or some extra chicken. I told them I used steak for recall training. I was reminded how lucky I have been with Ms Guts-o-Steel when people were talking about all the treats that cause their dogs stomach upsets.

I met Kerry's beautiful little girl, called Ling. She really was the smallest greyhound I've ever met and she only weighs about 21kg... which is 46 pounds for those who don't use the metric system. She has small, stiff ears that seem to stand up alot of the time. She curled up on Kerry's lap, and I asked if she was sure Ling wasn't half chihuahua!

There were a lot of different dogs that came for a wash, and Barbie greeted them all politely, befitting of her Canine Good Citizen title. There was even a purebred Dingo! I wanted to ask a million questions about keeping a dingo as a pet but was kept busy answering questions about Barbie. Barbie's sit and 'high five' tricks went down really well. Ling bows, which was very cute, but that was about it for tricks! There were a few greys who just decided it was nap time and layed down on the pavers.

Barbie kept going for the whole two hours we were there, she didn't seem to get tired at all! I was very impressed with her stamina. I drove her home, and she went straight to her bed, and she barely seemed to notice as I took Bender out the front door. Bender and I went to the river and he went for a swim.

Murdoch is the Uni I spent 4 years of my life studying at, and being there today made me really nostalgic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Barbie does play with toys, really.

Quite a few people who know Barbie in real life would have trouble imagining this:

In public she is generally pretty reserved. Even offleash she runs but she doesn't really wrestle or play biteyface with anyone.

Last night the dogs were particularly wound up. I took them for a 45 minute walk, and I walked them back through the park, which might have been what got them so excitable.

After the walk, Barbie had a drink, and I went outside to work on a bicycle. The dogs came outside with me and spent the whole time playing full octane chasey. Our yard is only 150 sqm but it is sort of a narrow U-shape around the house, Barbie reckons it is a perfect race track. What gets me is how effortlessly she clears the 4 foot retaining wall while at top speed. Added into this game of chasey was some frantic digging in the sandpit we call the yard, and more chasey. Bender doesn't usually dig, but he started when Barbie started doing it. I told them both off for digging, Bender stopped straight away, but Barbie needed to be told more than once :P

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dog Tricks - Teaching Barbie to Wave

So here is a go at being more 'instructional' - yes I know the house needs better lighting. Or I need to do these during the day.

And some of you asked for a 'blooper reel' - well I managed to recreate the 'hug' she will do it if Bender is sitting to the left of her.

I need to get her not to hit him in the head so much, but just lay her leg over his shoulders... if she gets him in the head he gets all arced up for a wrestle.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Camping with Dogs - Equipment List

We often camp in places that are dry and hot, with no drinkable water, so you have to bring your own. People are supposed to drink 3 L per day, and I have learned from my monitoring of the dogs that they drink that much, if not more on days with a high level of activity.

Anyway I decided to do a list of stuff that we bring especially for the dogs on camping trips.

The Tent

We just bought a 4 x 2 man tent which has three doors in the front section. This allows the dogs to lie in comfort in the tent, while watching us through the insect mesh, without getting their bedding dirty and while being protected from flying, biting insects.

Extra Water

The dogs need an extra 3 L per day each just for drinking


I always bring extra treats for the dogs, but since we can't reliably keep a lot of stuff cold, I always bring dog cookies and schmackos


My dogs eat kibble anyway so this one is pretty easy. I just measure out their food into plastic containers that will fit nicely into the car


We have a folding travel water bowl which we bring on hikes, and a solid plastic water bowl for the camp site.

Longer leashes

Barbie's CGC leash is nice and long which is good for rough and rocky ground because it allows Barbie to pick her way through the landscape without dragging me behind her. I think it has helped her build confidence on the rough stuff. We don't often leave the dogs tethered by their leashes at the camp site as they would often prefer to be tucked up in the tent.

Cool Coat

I have just bought this for Barbie because she gets hot easily in the sun. This will hopefully improve her stamina on walks.


At a minimum we bought Barbie's bed which is usually in her crate, and a few blankets. I am not sure we bought enough blankets because Bender spent the whole time trying to steal mine.

Outside Bed

Bender has one of those hammock style beds which is dismantleable in order to fit it into the car. He enjoys sitting on it with us outside when there are no biting insects or when it is not too cold. I am not sure whether it is worth getting a second one for Barbie as she seems more comfortable in the tent.

Beach Shelter

I am thinking about getting one of these for the dogs for our next trip, when we will be spending a lot of time on the beach. I think Barbie in particular would appreciate the shade, but so will I.

Adequate Supply of Poo Bags

There often are no bins where we choose to camp, so the poo bags get tied to the bull bar of the four wheel drive when they are full.

Head Torch

Invaluable for walking the dogs at night or in the early morning and for using the poo bags.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Barbie's First Camping Trip

Being a long weekend, we decided that we could take Barbie camping for one night - her first trip ever.

We camped down near Dwellingup, and it took a couple of hours to get to the campsite. There were a few people there when we got there, but it was easy to find a nice spot in the shade. The first thing we did is set up the tent, and we then went on a hike to a supposed 'waterfall'. I didn't think there would be much water, as we are nearing the end of a very long, hot, dry summer. It was about 3 kilometres out to the water fall, and then there was a 1.3 kilometre circuit around the waterfall.

Neither of the dogs were conditioned to walking on a rough pea gravel track, and Barbie was a bit sore and hot, so Nic went and got the car for us, while we waited.

This is where the water is supposed to be.... but no water!

I promised Barbie I would get her some hiking boots and a swamp cooler jacket. Her tongue was lolling out of her mouth and onto the red dirt. Occasionally she reeled her tongue back in and made some chewing motions, eating the dirt.

Barbie was very happy to get back into the car.

We checked out an old Prisoner of War Camp on the way back. It was mainly Italian POWs who were imprisoned here in WWII, and they were used as forced labour in the countryside. A few escaped, one rode a pushbike to Perth (I love how that was considered an impressive feat - it's only 150ks or so!). They built relationships with the local farmers and there were romances - some of the escapees were found at the local pub soaking up the culture.

Barbie had sore feet but she tried her valiant best and walked around to all the ruins.

We got back to the tent and Barbie made herself at home in the tent on her bed. She was a little disturbed by the tent flapping in the wind for the first... three minutes, then she went straight back to sleep. She is such an adaptable and low maintenance dog!

She learned to treat the tent as her crate, and she was happy to sit on her bed in there and watch us through the mesh doors as we made dinner. She didn't cause us any problems, but Bender was a bit of a pest.

The overnight temperature dropped a bit more than expected, and Bender was cold, so he spent all night sleeping on top of me, or stealing my blankets. Barbie slept on her bed, though she occasionally kicked N. Bender decided he *had* to go outside at some ungodly hour - it was still dark outside. I took them both out on their leads, and Barbie went to the toilet automatically. Bender did not. He didn't need to go, he was just stirring trouble!

The next day we were awoken by the sounds of cannons at the nearby orchards and Bender was very stressed. He really hates loud banging noises. Barbie was still sleepy so I left them in the tent with N & the newspaper while I cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. I am always the camp cook, apparently I am good at it.

N came out to eat breakfast and she bought the dogs out too. They got a piece of bacon each. We put them in the car while we packed the tent because Bender was still freaking about the ongoing blasting sounds.

We went for a drive then, to explore Lane Poole Reserve. Barbie went for a paddle in the river. There was also an incident with the car's electric windows at Lane Poole. We had stopped and N was winding up the rear windows, but Barbie didn't move her head. She screamed and leapt backwards when her head got stuck in the window! No lasting damage but I'm not sure she will hang her head out of the window any more :(

We then went to Waroona dam. It is also known as Lake Navarino.

This dam is a ski area, but not at the moment. You can see the line where the rocks turn to red dirt? I have never seen the water level below that line. The ski area is closed, and you can see the ski area buoys sitting on red dirt.

Barbie wanted to go for a paddle but the dry red dirt was tough on her sensitive feet.

We went for a walk but Barbie stuck to the vehicle tracks. There were still plenty of people around even though the dam was at a record low level.

Bender swam in the dam fetching his ball when we went for a little walk.

After all that excitement we went back in the car. We stopped in Dwellingup for pies, and deliberately parked under a car port that was marked 'private parking only' for the pups. We went in and chose pies, and then I went back to the car about 5 minutes later to find Barbie in the front passenger seat eating the nuts I spilled earlier. There were some macadamias in there!!

I rang the emergency vet and they told me given her weight and estimated consumption she should be OK but if she showed any symptoms it would be up to 6 hours later. It's been over 7 hours and so far no ill effects. Lucky dog. I will never trust her in the car with food again!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Barbie's feature in the GAP Newsletter

Barbie is in the February Greyhounds as Pets newsletter.

Barbie and I are also going to an open day down at Murdoch University next weekend - the vet students are having their annual dog wash and vet check day, and GAP WA are one of the charities they are donating money to. Hopefully Barbie can increase her base of admiring fans!

Planning a Doggie Adventure and why I love Fridays

I love Fridays because there is room to park my xtracycle in the bike cage at work so that I can use it for grocery shopping on the way home.

I love Fridays because I can spend downtime looking at Google maps and trying to figure out the best place to find a camping spot for tomorrow night.

I love Fridays because noone expects you to do anything quickly and can wait until Monday.

I mentioned camping. Tomorrow night we are intending on taking Barbie for her first overnight camping trip. We bought a new tent (a 6 person one!) to better accommodate ourselves and the dogs. Besides that, our old tent was no longer very waterproof, as we found out when we were caught in one particularly heavy downpour. We were mainly dry, because we were 'floating' on our inflatable mattress but a lot of our stuff wasn't!

I only say 'intending on' because this weekend happens to be a long weekend. Campgrounds are likely to be busy, and most people will be heading off tonight to get themselves a good spot. We are planning on heading out very early tomorrow morning and have several alternative spots pegged out. The place we are intending on going to is a two hour drive away, and so it will be the longest car trip Barbie has been on as well. Bender has been on 6 - 7 hour car trips and is an old hand at it all but we really haven't been away much since we got Barbie.

We are taking my four wheel drive out for a good run, the poor thing usually is lucky to do 40kms in a week at the moment. I'm taking it in for a service in a couple of weeks, because we are going down to Duke of Orleans Bay for the Easter long weekend - it's probably an 8 hour drive from Perth so it's going to be a challenge for all of us, but we will be able to teach Barbie to swim in the calm, clear waters.

That reminds me, I need to get my esky back from my brother. I wonder if he still has it... :P

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Canine Good Citizen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Landsharks! I mean, Greyhound Puppies!!!

Yes Greyhounds as Pets in WA have a whole litter of puppies up for adoption. I think half the litter has been adopted already as I saw 7 of them up on petrescue last week.
Oh I wish I had the space for one.

Teaching Barbie to 'wave'

I've decided that I am going to try my hand at making slightly more 'instructive' youtube videos in order for them to be more useful for a wider audience. The problem I guess is that I'm no authority on these things. Barbie is only the third dog I've owned and she's only the second one I've really taught tricks to.

Last night I tried a strategy with shaping 'high five' into a wave. I basically just started asking for a high five, using the high five hand signal, but standing a step away. She did successfully give me a few waves.

This is where Barbie's creativity comes into it though. As I was doing a sit/stay, then the high five (wave), Bender was sitting quite stoically next to Barbie. I asked for a wave from Barbie and got it the first few times, but then she decided that she would try something different. She put her front leg over Bender's shoulders! It was so incredibly cute I laughed and treated her for it. I think we will save that one for later though, I need to get high five and wave solid first.

She also tried pawing Bender in the head a few times because she couldn't reach my hand for the high five. I decided I would stop and give it a go tonight without Bender sitting next to her.

Bender is so beautifully tolerant though, he just sat there and took it when Barbie bashed him in the head with her paw! I guess it is making his sit/stay much more solid!
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