Saturday, November 30, 2013

Esperance Road Trip - Nov 2013

Our last road trip was 6 months ago now, down to Denmark WA to enjoy the wineries and walks in the area as well as visit the in laws.

We are ready, let's go!
This trip was to involve our friends from Kalgoorlie, and their two doggies, Indy and Bella. Indy is an old red heeler cross and was friends with Bender back when we lived in Kalgoorlie. They used to wrestle and play biteyface. Apparently Indy never played with another dog after her time with Bender. Bella came later and she is some kind of poodle cross. She was found on the streets as a pup with ear infections and a belly full of worms. Now she is just a teddy bear who demands love from whoever is nearby.

heavenly Esperance, everyone wants to be there in summer!
As it is Summer now, the holiday houses in Esperance are booking up. N had to hunt around for a house that would allow all the doggies. We weren't sure if Mouse would still be with us when we booked so the possibility was 4 or 5 dogs. Our friends were only staying for two nights and we were staying for three.

N found this cute little duplex half with a grassy backyard. It was hard to tell how high the fences were from the photo. The living area was small but we were planning to be on the beach with the dogs for most of the time anyway so we figured it wouldn't matter. The only tricky bit was to introduce all of the dogs.

Bender says, hey aren't we going to have a cook up? I feel like sausages!
I took the Friday and Monday off work, as it is a long drive down there for us. We weren't completely on the ball and got caught in peak hour traffic on the way out of Perth on Friday morning. Some Esperance folk we met on the weekend said that the best time to leave Perth is about 4am. On reflection they were right of course, but getting out of town at that hour wasn't that realistic as we had to load the car right before we left.

We got to use my brand new towball bike rack that I bought from Grip Sport months ago and it was solid. I did not have a worry about the bikes at all for the 1400 kilometre round trip. We also bought down a soft crate for Mouse to sleep in so that she wouldn't bother us during the night. That concept didn't work so well as she still woke up at 4am every day and made a racket, whining and digging at her bed. The dogs had to practice a bit of give and take due to the lack of space in the car for all three of them.  Mouse always seems to get her way and has the uncanny ability to pass out and sleep in all situations, so she hogged the whole back seat for most of the trip. At one point she was even roaching, in the car! She is such a great traveller.

We had to stop and take a photo of this sign! Pity it was such a long detour to visit Bender's railway siding
Our first stop was to get a bite for breakfast at a road house. There was a park nearby so I let Bender wander around off leash, whilst we sat down with Mouse and Barbie. I had Mouse sitting politely next to me whilst I ate my ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I turned my head away from her to see what Bender was up to and heard a crisp *crunch*

I quickly turned my head back and saw Mouse daintily chewing on the corner of my sandwich that she had just bitten off!! N cracked up laughing. I couldn’t really bring myself to scold her, it was too late anyway. The whirling dervish, or sneaky white fox, struck again!

the trio at wave rock
We stopped at Wave Rock in Hyden, which is a big tourist attraction in WA. There were signs up everywhere that said 'no BMX or Mountain Bikes at any time'. I thought we should look it up on youtube, and this is the guy who made a cool video but kind of ruined everyone else's fun.

Bender's first instinct was to try and run up the rock. He didn't make it very far. The greyhounds tried to walk up the rock too, but as soon as the gradient got to a certain level they fell over sideways (I caught this on video, so make sure you check out the video in the next post).

paying our respects
We also stopped at the dog cemetary in Corrigin. It was touching to see all of the headstones people had created for their dogs.

When we got to the house in Esperance the dogs were very happy to be out of the car. we weren't there long. We unloaded our stuff, put the dogs back in the car and headed to the local beach for a quick walk. It was less than a kilometre from the house so this was the only time we drove down there. Bender was very confused that we didn’t have a ball to throw and kept looking for one. After their quick walk to the beach we went back, got everyone settled and fed them their dinner. Barbie and Bender, true to form, didn't eat much. Mouse chowed down like usual. After a bit of relaxing on their beds, the new guests arrived.

Barbie and Bella doing a doggie handshake
Bella and Indy went through the side gate and we turned our dogs out into the yard one-by-one. We tried Bender first, and it took a little while to get them all settled, because he kept trying to hump Bella. Indy protected her friend with her 'cattle dog' ways, giving him the eye and rounding him up with a series of low growls. When they settled we swapped and let Barbie out. Barbie showed very little interest in either of the dogs. Just a little sniff and she went on her way. Mouse was last. Mouse as a little bit energetic still and that scared Bella. They all got along pretty well though and settled well.

We bought them all inside and they all slept nicely on the dog beds. I was pleased.
The dogs quickly became used to each other and Mouse's shifty ways became evident. She plonked herself down on Bella and Indy's beds outside. She even lay down next to Indy - backing in and avoiding eye contact as Indy was growling. Mouse always gets her way.

princess Mouse always gets her way...
First thing every day we went back down to the local beach. We walked but Bella and Indy were chauffered as Indy has bad arthritis and can't walk very far. They were cute when they recognised each other. Mouse was a bit frustrated because she wasn't allowed off leash. At one point during her 'pork chop' antics, she landed on my leg and left a very big bruise.

Barbie exploring the rocks

On Saturday afternoon we also went to a really nice bay, which was about a 11 kilometre drive away from the house. It was a little bit rocky, but Barbie enjoyed fossicking around on the rocks. N took Mouse into the water but it was very cold so she didn't stay in long. She also did this really cute 'jumping through the water' thing which I also got on video… (stay tuned for the next blog entry for that)

Barbie cooling off
After the beach visit N & I went for a ride up the coast to that beach. There is a very hilly separated bike path the whole way along, though the climb out of town was the hardest part. It was a very pretty ride. Apparently at about 6pm Barbie started crying and whining and no distraction could stop her. I think it was because that's the time I usually get home from work and feed the dogs, so she was worried. Poor sweet girl.

After the first day of driving, a very early start (thanks Mouse), and a day of beach going with small breaks in between, Barbie and Bender were exhausted. On Sunday Bella and Indy left and Bender seemed a bit upset that they were gone. He was sniffing around the yard looking for them. To give the dogs a rest, we took them to the beach, then did non-doggie things.

We went to a local market in town and bought some local honey which was made by bees using Salmon Gum pollen. I had never tried it before and it's very different from the Karri and Marri forest honey I am used to, in a good way!

Esperance Stonehenge
After the market we drove out the Esperance's version of Stonehenge. There is a bit of a story behind it. There's a big granite quarry across the road, and  the 'Stonehenge' pieces were ordered by a really rich guy in Margaret River. It was going to cost him $250,000 to truck the stones to his property. He went broke before that happened and the landowners across the road managed to sort a deal with the quarry for the pieces. They assembled it using drawings by some Margaret River architects and a heavy duty crane from Kalgoorlie. It was pretty cool, but will get better with age. At the moment the rocks are a bit 'perfect'. It reminded me a bit of a 'Chinese' version of stonehenge - when we were in China we noticed there was a tendency to 'rebuild' ancient attractions so that they looked all shiny and new. After Stonehenge we took the mountain bikes out to the local MTB club track about 15 kilometres out of town. It was really fun and I'm glad that we did it!

me checking out the local MTB track
On the last morning Mouse did her usual 4am wake up thing, but I managed to get her to pipe down and go back to sleep. We weren't in a huge hurry to get back to Perth and if we left too early we would get caught in the afternoon peak hour traffic. On the way out we stopped again at the rocky beach. Barbie didn't do more than a trot. Bender found a discarded 1.25L coke bottle on the beach and decided it would be fun to play with. He carried it all the way up and down the beach, flattening it as he went. It was his ball substitute, but I did throw it for him a few times because it didn't go far.

what is this I have found ?? 
Bender, new ambassador for 'Clean up Australia'
We went a different way back via Kulin and came across the 'Tin Horse Highway' where the locals had made all kinds of horse sculptures out of various bits of scrap metal. It was very entertaining. We pulled over frequently to take pictures - but this one with the light plane had to be my favorite. The plane was so tiny!

the car posing with a plane on the Tin Horse Highway
As we got closer to home, out of the wheatbelt and into the Darling Scarp which is forested,  the dogs perked up. As soon as we got in the door Barbie collapsed onto a bed and went to sleep. She really doesn't sleep in the car. Mouse chased Froufrou and Bender grabbed the nearest toy to engage in a game of tug. Everything was back to normal very very quickly!

ahh how we will miss the beautiful beaches...

Stay tuned for a video version of the road trip.... 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On taming the whirling dervish...

Training greyhounds is different to training other breeds of dog. I was reading Ian Dunbar and he said that a Lab pup could perhaps do 20 commands in the hope of getting one single treat. I tried that with Mouse. I got three. I tried it with Barbie and got 10.

Obviously it improves with training but with the hounds there is a fair bit of 'what's in it for me' involved. The other thing about greyhounds is that sometimes they don't really want 'life rewards' like being able to sniff a tree bad enough to be bothered to sit for the privilege.

At any kind of greyhound gathering I break out Barbie's small repertoire of party tricks. It starts with 'sit' and ends with 4 x spins in a row. She won't do roll over or 'bang' in public usually. I would love it if there were other hounds who joined us and we could have a 'trick' off. The trick I am working on with Barbie at the moment is something I call 'peekaboo'. I want her to pop through my legs from behind and sit right there. At the moment she wants to pop through and then spin around. I think 'peekaboo' has more practical applications (like posing for photos) than the pop through and spin. She doesn't really like to sit there though. I will convince her eventually.

I have been taking Mouse to obedience classes at Billy's Daycare for Dogs, mainly to help her with her confidence. There is an adorable little blue staffy girl in the class and a red cloud Kelpie (cross?). They are both very young dogs, and they are really lovely. Mouse likes them both though she did have to tell the staffy off for standing on her tail last weekend.

Mouse is more confident and relaxed on walks now, and her ears spend a lot less time in the 'alert' position. We now avoid the worst fence-barkers in the neighbourhood as they freak her out, but she is improving. At training we ended up face to face with a rather bolshy old Lab who had escaped from his yard across the road. He had his back up and was doing a very upright tail wag. Mouse met him with assertive body language. I was impressed.

I am looking for more opportunities to work with and get together with small groups of dogs for Mouse's leash manners. The training course is over in a week so we shall be looking for something soon. I can get greyhounds together but really other types of dogs will be the best for Mouse to improve her social skills.  

She seems to have a low threshold for frustration, so when she is on lead and she meets other dogs she can turn into a barking, air snapping, jumping tornado. She grabbed her own leash, and she's grabbed Bender's as well. We think that it's more of a frustrated reactivity rather than a fear based one. 

We need to work on self-discipline. 

The hardest thing for Mouse to do at the moment is 'stay'. Barbie and Bender both have good stays so I can practice with all three dogs together. I got a sit/stay from her and walked a circle around her a few nights ago. She swivelled her head around like she was in the Exorcist, but she kept her little butt on the ground.  

That's a bit of progress at least! 

We went on a road trip with the three dogs to a little town 700km South East of Perth called Esperance on the weekend.... so that post will come soon. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Barbie's foot diagnosis - Focal Metatarsal Fistulation (of the German Shepherd Dog)

My regular followers would know that Barbie recently had issues with her back foot (here is the blog entry). It started off as what looked like a scrape but it wouldn't heal. After 4 x courses of different antibiotics, a CT scan and two surgeries, the vets were left scratching their heads. We were finally referred from the surgery department to a dermatologist (Dr Rusty Muse @ Perth Veterinary Specialists). He came up with a diagnosis that seemed so off the planet I was sceptical.

Focal Metatarsal Fistulation

Here are some links about the disorder.

A condition seen in German Shepherds, where the immune system attacks the tissue of the metatarsal pad. It results in a chronic draining sinus and often the dog will go lame. They really don't know what causes it and thought it was perhaps something genetic. She is the right age for it and all the clinical signs point to it. We have been through an exhaustive diagnostic process to arrive at this conclusion.

The dermatologist prescribed Tacrolimus ointment (0.1%) which needed to be made up for us by a compounding pharmacy. It is a very expensive little tube of ointment! She was on it twice a day for a couple of weeks and the dermatologist was very impressed with her progress. Now we are down to once a day treatment. She is able to run at top speed more now and it's great watching her zoom around again. Just before the last surgery she could only do one sprint of maybe 10 seconds before she would pull up sore with bloody serum weeping from her foot.

Due to the surgeries there will be scar tissue so the foot is never going to look exactly like the other one. The condition can often be bilateral - at least if she gets it in her other foot we will know what it is!



Now that she has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder it's given me reason to review vaccinations for both dogs. Our boarding kennel accepts a titre test certificate in lieu of a vaccination certificate so we did a titre test for Barbie this year and she came back with acceptable immunity levels, so no jabs for her. Yay! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - A lovely evening stroll by the river

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Adventures in Canine Tooth Brushing

Greyhounds in general don't have many health problems, but their teeth sometimes warrant extra attention. Barbie lost a few teeth and has a clean and scale at the vets every year since. All the dogs in my house get at least one dental chew a day (dentastix, greenies, or sometimes pig's ears), but that's evidently not enough.

the two guinea pigs

Brushing doggie teeth is not something commonly done in these parts, so I had to go looking for doggie toothpaste. The first one I bought was an epic fail. Barbie screwed her nose up and ran away as soon as I took the cap off. It was vanilla flavoured - what did I expect? It didn't even smell good to me - it smelled a bit like human toothpaste. I figure that they were marketing this product to people more than dogs.

this is bad toothpaste, unless your dog likes weird vanilla smells

I ordered some 'Dentipet' chicken flavoured toothpaste from Jumbopets when I got my flea and heartworm meds last week and when I opened this container I got a totally different response from the dogs. They all came running to see what the delicious smell was.

good dog toothpaste
Mouse and Barbie both allowed me to smear it all over their teeth with my finger. Mouse was more cooperative so I got onto her with the toothbrush. She was pretty good. Barbie doesn't tolerate the brush yet, but I think smooshing it around on her teeth with my finger is better than nothing. I am doing it every night so I think it will be like nail clipping, eventually she will just give up and let me do what I want. Perhaps we can delay her next dental for some months.

I have seen some great videos of greyhounds submitting to an electric toothbrush. Including this one posted on greytalk.

 Maybe I'll try that …. one day haha…. I am not going to use mine though!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - I WAZ SLEEEPING!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mousie Antics!

I have been working hard to wear Mouse out but she recovers so quickly all efforts seem self-defeating. This is what Mouse is like when I get home from work.

ok this is an old picture, but still, captures her nature perfectly
Well, actually she had already done 3 zoomies and this video shows what she is like when she is winding down a little.

She has been playing tug-o-war with Bender, but she growls and he gets freaked out so he lets her win. He growls just as much as she does. Weird dog. This morning they were playing tug and Barbie was annoyed that she was left out so she started barking at them. They started growling louder. Barbie started doing little semi-zoomies and jumping up and down near Mouse's rump. I had to stop them because I was worried Barbie might get a bit overexcited and bite Mouse on the bum. That would have been very counterproductive to their relationship.

I took Mouse down to Whiteman Park along with Bender and Barbie on Saturday morning. We were there for an hour and a half. Mouse ran with the Greyhounds til they wore out, then she found some Kelpies to play with. Finally she settled down for a nap when we got home.

She has been advertised on Petrescue now so I know I am on borrowed time with her. I plan to spend as much time as possible with her and grill every prospective family on their future plans! There shall be no bouncing this time I will do my best to make sure of it! 

Related Posts with Thumbnails