Saturday, December 31, 2011

Road Trip to Exmouth - Day 1 - Perth to Geraldton

I managed to get leave between the Christmas and New Year public holidays, we decided to go on an epic road trip up to Exmouth, WA. I also got myself a car which would comfortably fit us, the dogs, and all of our gear.

I've yoinked this map from somewhere on the internet to show some major towns in Western Australia. We used to live out to the east in Kalgoorlie and make road trips down to Esperance.

On Christmas Eve, we packed up and headed off to our first stop - Geraldton, about 450 kilometres North of Perth.

Bender was hyper in the back of the car for almost the whole trip - he took ages to settle, but did eventually. Luxury of luxuries, we got to stay in a house at Geraldton. This place has a huge backyard. The dogs enjoyed the grass and the wide open space.

There was one problem. Bender ran to the back of the yard and he found his arch nemesis. A horse.

Of course, he barked. I had no idea what he was barking at, but I knew he was afraid. He was barking with a bit of a snarl on his face, but he was keeping his distance from the fence, and creeping backwards with each bark. N ran down there and saw the horse, who was totally freaking out and galloping around in small circles. He had run into a star picket in his pen and had a flesh wound on his chest.

N went next door to tell the neighbours that Bender had spooked their horse, and that it had hurt itself in a panic. The neighbour came around and was telling us the horse was only in the little pen because it had been recently attacked by a dog - no wonder it reacted the way it did. While N and the neighbour were chatting through the gate, Barbie slipped out the front of the house.

The neighbour had been saying that she really liked Greyhounds and was thinking about getting one as her next dog. Barbie slipped out of N's grip and stood in the front yard. N took her time getting out to her, and couldn't see her anymore. Barbie had headed towards the neighbour's house, as they have two dogs and I think she wanted to introduce herself.

I called her name - she looked up, then spotted the sheep across the road, so went over to their house. She refused to come back to me, and instead trotted circles in this person's yard, sniffing around very close to the house. She finally stopped and stared at the sheep. I caught her and bought her inside - she was not going to be trusted off leash on our holiday now, except for on one beach. Hopefully she didn't put the neighbour off Greyhounds for life!!

In the morning the dogs were given their Christmas presents, and I got the best present from N - a brand new camera to replace my ailing Panasonic Lumix FT-1 which turned out to be not-so-tough.

I didn't get any pictures of Barbie with her Christmas present - a new stuffie. She seemed to lose interest in it fairly quickly. Bender loved his toy though. Here he is enjoying it!

We left Geraldton after going visiting and headed north. We didn't get out of town until about midday. The dogs both settled into their positions on the back seat quickly, maybe a little tired from visiting and getting so much attention from so many people. We stopped at a few attractions on the way up towards Carnarvon (Banana Town) - but I'll tell you about that when I've recovered from New Years Eve.... so stay tuned for some beautiful pictures of what North West of Western Australia has to offer :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Barbie's new Booties

Last time we took Barbie camping we went on a hike. It was hot and the road was rough on her feet. She got very tender and once she had cooled down she did her best to walk around with us, gingerly.

We have a road trip coming up, so I decided that I would buy her some booties. The only booties I had seen were the Ruffwear ones, and their sizing goes on the width of the dog's foot. I thought that they probably wouldn't fit Barbie's long, skinny sighthound feet very well.

A bit of searching on the internet and I found some booties that are sized by the length of the dog's foot called Muttluks - so I decided to give them a try. I ordered them hoping they would arrive with plenty of time to get Barbie used to wearing them - they were coming from Queensland and they arrived 3 days later! I was very impressed with the postage time! The shop was if any Aussie people want to order stuff from them.

When the package arrived, naturally Bender thought it was for him. Ever since I opened a package that had a collar for him years ago, he thinks all packages are his.

The instructions that came with the booties suggested that you put the boots on one at a time - starting with a front foot and leaving it on for 5 minutes, then putting one on the opposite back foot. I put two on and Barbie went back to her default position of lying on her sleeping bag.

I decided we would have to go on a proper walk for her to learn how to walk in them, otherwise she would just lie there. What could she acclimatise to if she wasn't even using her feet?
I put all four on, but she shook two of them off by the time we had gotten to the top of the hill - I must not have done the velcro up tight enough. She did the rest of the walk with two on - and by coincidence it was the front and diagonally opposed back foot. She actually did really well, though she did stop a few times to gnaw on the front boot! I told her off and she went back to walking.

This is a good sign. When I was trying to walk her in a harness she was walking slowly, and stopping because it was bothering her. She was, if anything, more animated than usual on the first walk with the booties on, because I revved her up a bit after I put them on her. Boots mean fun!

They seem to fit her well, though I think her rear paws are a bit smaller than the front, so the rear one she had on moved around a bit as she walked. I need to pay more attention to pulling the velcro straps tight around those skinny ankles of hers!

Hopefully you all approve of the lovely purple colour. I think Bender is a bit jealous now, I was going to get him Ruffwear shoes but I am not sure he will take to having booties on his feet as quickly as Barbie seems to be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What to do when a stranger human is ignoring you?

As you know, we make frequent trips to the beach so that the dogs can feel the sand beneath their toes and the wind in their hair.

Recently we went to the beach in the late afternoon. There was a strong wind blowing and kicking up the sand. It was like being sandblasted in the Sahara. There weren't many other doggies or humans there due to the conditions.

The lack of the usual hustle and bustle meant that Barbie was paying particular attention to a lady who was walking along at about the same pace behind us. For some reason we stopped - I think Bender lost his ball - and the woman walked past and strolled up the beach. Barbie did one of her many zoomies along the beach, but instead of turning around and coming straight back to us, she trotted along behind this lady.

Barbie: Hello there. Excuse me. Hello?
(lady continues walking)
Barbie: (trots a bit faster to be alongside lady) excuse me - would you stop to admire my beauty for a moment?
(lady continues walking and does not even turn her head)
Barbie: (stops) well, that was disappointing. Oh, I have an idea!
(Barbie runs up behind the lady and rams her right in the middle of her butt)
Lady: (flails her arms around) oooooooooh!
(Barbie does it again, but this time lighter)
Me: Laughing uncontrollably, Barbie! Come back!!
Barbie: Oh really, why do I need to.... ohhh OK.

I wonder what compelled Barbie to give the arse headbutt - I think it must work with dogs?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 12, 2011

Big dogs, small children

I know a guy who is scared of 'big' dogs. When he says big he means anything bigger than a kelpie or a staffie, so that includes Bender and Barbie. He is looking at adopting a dog but he only wants a small one. I don't think he has ever had a dog before.

I have been trying to convince him that a bigger dog may be a better companion for his two girls. After all, they will be teenagers soon, and need some protection.

We took Barbie and Bender to a family gathering on the weekend, and there were a lot of young kids there.

Who wouldn't love these beautiful faces? Of course, Barbie earned herself a new best friend.

Barbie hasn't had a lot of exposure to kids, but her lovely placid Greyhound nature helps. She does like attention from kids, especially if they are calm and gentle. As always, their interactions were very closely supervised by me and their parents. I showed this photo to my friend who has issues with big dogs, and he was almost shocked. I'm working on him. One day he will be adopting a Greyhound! ;)

It was a very hot day, and maxed out at 37 degrees. There was a lake in the middle of the park, and in some parts it had a retaining wall and it was a deep drop into the water. N had Bender on the leash, and I had Barbie. Bender pulled over to the lake and took a few licks at the water. I let Barbie walk to the edge because I thought she wanted to do the same.

Thing is, Barbie didn't stop at the edge, she just kept walking.

She fell in to the water, and it was deep enough for her head to go under. After half a second she surfaced, doggy paddling - at least I know she can swim now.

She then put her back legs down, and stretched up with her front legs to put them on the lake wall. She was at a pretty steep angle though to keep her head above the water. She then had a couple of goes but managed to jump up out of the water. I was impressed. It's funny how we learn something new about our dogs every day!

After spending all day in the stinking hot park - we took them to a new beach, down in Singleton, which is half way between Mandurah and Rockingham.

Even though they were both exhausted from spending hours in the park on their best behaviour, they livened up when they hit the water.

Barbie finally found some water that is a more appropriate depth for her to cool off in. Singleton is a great beach, though there are a lot of silly people who do not pick up their dog's poop! You could never get away with that at City Beach - if the Rangers didn't catch you, your fellow beachgoers would!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Goldfields - Lake Ballard

Bender with a small statue on Lake Ballard

Well, I showed you Gwalia already, so I figured I should show you some more places that we went to when we lived in the Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

A friend of mine came from Perth to stay with us for a while, so we took her on a day trip to Lake Ballard. The place has lots of statues on a big salt lake that is dry most of the time.

The “Inside Australia”: exhibition was commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Perth International Arts Festival in 2003, and an idea of internationaly reknowned artist, Antony Gormley. Apart from 2 or 3 passers-by the 51 sculptures are derived from laser scans of the inhabitants of Menzies. The sculptures stand scattered over 10 sqare kilometres of the salt lake, named ‘Lake Ballard’, approximately 55km west from the townsite of Menzies.

One of the statues standing proud on the lake.

There is a lot of walking to do - some people rode their bikes on the salt lake - you can tell cos you can see the tyre tracks until the next rains.

More walking!

Bender found some treasure.

It was an exhausting day, but Bender enjoyed it - apart from us stopping him from peeing on the statues. It's not that anyone would notice, but it just seemed disrespectful. It was so so hard for him not to pee on them as they were the only things sticking out of the ground on the huge salt lake flats.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Desert memories

Monday, December 5, 2011

Places we used to live: the Goldfields, Western Australia

Just checking out the view....

A long, long time ago, before Barbie and Mittens joined the household, Froufrou, Bender, N & I spent a year in the Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie.

We used to host backpackers through the website couchsurfing. It helped Frou get over her fear of strangers, and Bender had to share the back seat of the four wheel drive with random backpackers more than once on road trips to the surrounding tourist attractions.

We had a couple of Estonian backpackers stay with us on their way to work in a 'country pub'. Kalgoorlie couldn't have been more different to their home country. We asked them what pub they were working in, and they said Laverton.

A couple of weeks after I had loaded them on to a bus out there, we went for a drive out to Laverton to visit them and see how they were going.

Laverton itself wasn't that interesting, though we did have fun taking Bender to the pub, where we were allowed to sit with him in the beer garden. That kind of thing is not allowed in the city.

Anyway, we went out to an old abandoned mining town called Gwalia. A lot of abandoned townsites in the Goldfields are nothing more than rubbish and abandoned cars, but there are still houses at Gwalia.

The sad abandoned houses at Gwalia

Another vintage car which isn't going to be moving anywhere, and an old windmill used for pumping water.

Bender says, hurry up, if I'm not allowed to pee on it then I am totally not interested.

I managed to get him into the cab of this old train. It was pretty cool pretending to drive it, wasn't it Bender? Though I think he is plotting his escape in this photo.

I don't think this old car would be able to take us anywhere now.

My American followers would be impressed to know that this grand mansion for it's time was the home of the US President Hoover before he became president. It has been preserved and is now the site of a museum. Bender was impressed with the green, lush lawn as he hadn't seen much lawn out in the desert.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nicknames - inspired by Nibs and Ambam!

Our friends Nibs & Ambam did a post recently where they told everyone their nicknames. Everyone in this house has a whole list of nicknames, so I thought I would share.

Barbie is known as: Black dog, Needle nose, sticky beak, slowpoke, Princess, the Hound, Barbs, shadow, lazy dog

Bender is also known as: pup-pup, boof head, boofer, doofus, blondie, Mr Barky, Benderman, Mr Bender, "shut up!!!"

Mittens is also known as: evil cat, squirrel, possum, nutso kitty, fluffball

Froufrou is also known as: Frou, evil frou, skitsycat, barrel, froufattiefatfat, limpet, leech, lap barnacle
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