Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bikejoring Greyhounds!

I have been so bad at keeping this blog up to date as there has been so much going on at the Furkid Palace!

The sledding season is over for the year and so maybe I will have more time to write. I am now trying to train Mouse up for bikejoring. Hopefully WA Sleddog Sports Association will offer a bikejoring class in at least some races next season. We are heading interstate to compete in some other races next year, so if it turns out that Mouse is a keen bikejoring dog we will enter some races.

Mouse and I competing in canicross at the last race of the season, the Jarrahwood Jaunt

Mouse has been bikejoring twice so far, and the second video shows the improvement she has made. Running canicross with her in that harness connected to a waist belt has helped her get the idea of pulling, though being a little greyhound with a high centre of gravity she still can't pull very hard.

Mouse and Jim (first time bikejoring)

Mouse running alone (second time bikejoring)

Bender is still running short tracks as a veteran but I am not sure he will still be up to it next year. He will be 10 years old in March and he really is mellowing out. He may just go into retirement.

Lure coursing for Mouse will continue on through summer. She is only one qualifying score away from becoming an ACLA Field Champion. I am also aiming to enter Mouse in another Dances With Dogs trial in December. Hopefully we will be able to make time for some more dog shows for Barbie, as she is the show pony of the Palace. She is turning 8 very soon and she still shapes up pretty well despite a few grey hairs on her face.

Mouse & I have also gotten back to obedience classes now that it is getting a bit warm for sled training. We are still working our way up the ranks but if I can schedule it in we will enter some Rally-O trials before the end of the year.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What have we been up to! A lot!

This winter I decided to give Bender a go at dryland dog sledding. I joined West Australia Sleddog Sports Association (WASSA) and we entered our first race, the Hampton Hoon, last weekend. I have been well and truly bitten by the bug. Without Nic's steady influence I think I would have gotten a sled puppy to train up for next year already!

I have decided that our team will be called "Team Planet Express" - as Bender is always going to be my very first sleddog. I have ordered a sticker for the car and the scooter, as well as an iron on patch for Bender's dog coat!

Bender and I at the mock race at beginner's camp
I also took a friend's dog along (Poppy), as her mother and aunty are certainly good sleddogs. Mouse came to participate in the canicross and I was just hoping that we wouldn't win the Red Lantern (the red lantern is the prize you get for coming last - you can read about the tradition of the red lantern here).

Poppy and I starting our first race!
It was a quite a drive out to the Hamptonview Homestead where the race was held, but it's beautiful country out there. It seemed perhaps a little dry, and in fact, it was so dry that there was no condensation at all on my tent in the mornings. This made for very pleasant camping despite the cold temperatures (which are a necessity for the sport), and the very early starts.

I decided that I would buy myself a new airbed for the trip. Well that was a mistake. It was great on the first night but sometime on Sunday it sprung a leak and so it was useless on Sunday night. I ended up stealing Mouse's bed and making her share it with me and Bender.

As for the racing, well it went as well as I expected. Bender's an old man and he ran pretty well in Novice - he definitely had the idea it was a race by the second heat and he even vocalised a bit on the start line when he was being revved up by Vanessa who was handling him for me. We finished 8th overall in Novice with an average speed over the two, 2 km heats of 14.09 kph.

He pulled up really well and this video is of his second heat. He was certainly tired after the weekend and wanted to eat more so I'd say that is a good sign. I have to complete two races as a novice before  I can enter him in any other classes but I plan to move to veteran with him when I am eligible.

Poppy is a pup, almost a year old but a large mixed breed so a long way from being a mature dog. She ran in puppy class and she ran *like* a puppy! I think she probably ran an extra kilometre from all the zig zagging she did all over the track! Poppy and I finished 5th out of 6 dogs, so this was the closest I got to getting the red lantern. Her average speed was 11.5kph. Her litter sister Lily won the red lantern instead.

Hampton Hoon 2015 - Puppy Edit Heat 1 from Jet Ska on Vimeo.

Mouse ran better than expected in the canicross. By the end of 4 heats of racing with Poppy and Bender as well as the 6k walk I did with Mouse on the Saturday to keep her happy, my feet were killing me, so I think I held us back a bit. We ran the 2 kilometres at 9.78 kph and Mouse trotted the whole way, finishing 15th. We could definitely improve in canicross as a team.

The next race is at the end of the month. I'm not sure if I will be taking Poppy along or not but I will definitely post about how we go.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ben & Jerry's Outdoor Cinema - Date Night with the Mouser

We took Mouse to Ben & Jerry's Outdoor cinema a year ago to watch 'the Wolf of Wall Street'. We went on a weeknight which was a little bit difficult to coordinate as I went straight from work and Nic had to bring the dog in to town. This time we picked the cute animated feature 'Home' and went on a Sunday so things would be less rushed.

The other advantage of Sunday is that you get free ice cream! There were two flavours on offer and I think my favourite was the 'fish food' - the other was a salted caramel type flavour and I found it a bit bland after the chocolate overload of fish food.

Mouse seemed pretty happy when we got there as people were interested and said hello but weren't too full on in their interactions of affections.

There was one other dog there that we saw, and it was a small Chihuahua type. The people sitting in front of us started patting Mouse and since she is super soft at the moment because I bathed her with very expensive shampoo, they couldn't stop. We got quizzed about greyhounds. They seemed like the kind of family who would really suit a greyhound, with three girls who seemed very gentle and lovely. 

Mouse settled in pretty much straight away, and wasn't annoying at all around the food. It was a huge improvement from last year and just goes to show how far she has come. She has become a very well mannered and socially acceptable dog. She was a little bit wary of all the kids running around, most of them running through very close to where we were lying. There were no kids at the Wolf of Wall Street, and these kids were all hopped-up on free ice cream. Once Mouse realised she wasn't going to be trampled upon she looked less alarmed as the kids ran past, or jumped over us!

We had her in her Muttrugs oilskin coat and that kept her nice and toasty. She also snuggled up against us for the whole movie.

Next time we need to remember to bring pillows. Everyone else seemed to have pillows and sleeping bags and they seemed very nice and cosy. Of course they missed out not having a nice warm dog to snuggle with.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mad Dog

Getting old should be no barrier to participating or doing stuff for a dog. I guess people might say that 9 years old isn't actually old, but that depends on the genetic makeup of the dog. We don't actually know what mishmash of breeds make a Bender - but he's on the large side, 33 kilograms with long legs. He's not exactly a giant breed but he may have some of that in him! 

Bender may be the oldest dog here but he's the most enthusiastic to throw himself in to new things. If he was a human, he would be that granny who is keen to jump out of a plane for the first time on her 60th birthday.

I bought a lightweight agility tunnel and it got delivered yesterday. When I got home I unpacked it, and Bender was convinced he should be biting it or head butting it.

I set it out in a long straight line (it only just fit in the living room) and showed him what it was actually for. Bender doesn't need much encouragement to try new things if they are not that scary, so he did it, and then told us how much he enjoyed it afterwards.


Mouse had a go too but she did not give it nearly as much panache as the crazy boofahead. I think she may have been a little bit intimidated by the way he was carrying on!

Monday, March 23, 2015

GreyhoundAngels promo work

Well it's been a long time between updates. Everything here has been rattling along nicely. Mouse has been progressing at obedience training, and we are aiming to enter a Dancing With Dogs (freestyle) trial in a couple of months time to show off her tricks.

There's also a dog show coming up on the 3 May with the Sighthound & Italian Greyhound club where they have specifically created a 'race-type greyhound' section which is open to all ex-racing greyhounds. I'm planning to enter both of my guys and it should be interesting to see how they are judged as they come in all shapes and sizes once they are retired. I'm hoping Mouse does well due to her nice body condition, but she is on the small side for a racing type standard. Barbie looks good too, but it depends on whether or not the judge penalises for lack of teeth!

Mouse has also been lure coursing as the season has started up again. The Fastest Dog in Australia competition will be running again this year and there will be multiple heats with the two WA clubs, so it will be interesting to see how Mouse goes this time around.

Lure Coursers Anonymous, 15 March 2015. Photo credit: Amy Joy (Studio Joy)
Barbie and Bender have been pottering along. Barbie really hasn't slowed down much but we do have to keep an eye on Bender and his activity levels. He loves to run and play but he looks miserable afterwards if he over-does it.

I am still having a go at Public Relations for GreyhoundAngels, and as a part of my role I've been looking at what I can do to get more air time for greyhounds in the social media space. I have been trying to make some videos of available dogs when I manage to spend some time with them, and I also made this little ad - hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Joys of Getting Older....

Bender turns 9 in human years in March. His muzzle is greying and his bad knee is gives him trouble after he tries to run too hard. It's hard to know how well he is travelling in comparison to other dogs with similar genetic origins because we honestly have no idea what breeds combined to create him. If he is compared to a Mastiff or a Labrador, he is going OK. If he's compared to a staffy or other smaller boofa, then he's probably below average.

Bender still gets right in to the action.
Barbie is 7 and her back is starting to stiffen up on her. She loves to run flat out and push herself to race around with Mouse and her younger friends, but her spine is not as supple as it once was. She had also been a bit more delicate than usual, yipping when Mouse collided with her in the house, and not wanting many cuddles.

Barbie doing her thing..... 
I came across Julie Edwards at Wellness Centre for Dogs during my work with GreyhoundAngels after she offered her services to the foster dogs. She uses Bowen therapy among other techniques to help dogs be more comfortable. I thought that Barbie in particular could benefit for some treatment, so I got her to come around the weekend after Christmas to have a look at the oldies. She did a lot of work on Barbie's neck and a bit on her back. Her neck was really tight and I could feel the difference before and after treatment.

She did as much as she could with Bender as well. He is an anxious kind of dog but he was as co-operative as I expected he would be. Julie doesn't push the dogs or force them to accept being treated, though we did use treats while she worked on his back legs. Of course the oldies took 'breaks' and when they did, Mouse came over and positioned herself in front of Julie, saying 'ok, now do me!'

Mouse chasing her friend Daisy
Mouse had a tight right hip flexor and she has some sub-scapular weakness still which causes her elbows to turn out. It's noticeable when she sits, and sometimes in her lure coursing photos, but it has improved a lot since we got her. We got given some homework, to work on front and rear paw targetting and to get them all to stand on one of those physio wobbly boards. The hounds both front-paw target a pillow now though it is taking Bender longer the 'get it'.

I could tell Barbie felt better a few hours after her treatment. The next day she was doing zoomies around the lounge and initiating games of bitey face with the others. It had been a couple of months since I had seen that behaviour from her.

The other thing I thought was worth trying was swimming. Bender is a strong swimmer and he has been since he was very young. It is part of the reason we suspect there may be some labrador in his genes, as he loves to swim and retrieve. 

The problem with Bender is that he gets to the river or the beach and does a lot of running around before he gets to the water. When he runs and jumps he ends up sore. We dose him with metacam for three days afterwards to help with the inflammation and pain but he does do the three legged bunny hop when he has been still for too long. 

There is a dog swimming pool in the kennel zone about half an hour's drive away from us at the Furkidz Resort. You can book it out for an hour or half an hour and it's just you and your dogs in the pool house.

Last time we tried to get Bender into a swimming pool was during a New Years Eve celebration a very long time ago. He was a very young dog then, and he refused, because he was scared about getting in and out. I was hoping that his memories of that had faded and that the moulded ramp in the pool as well as it being long and narrow would give him the confidence to get in and out.

The water is a bit gross, there's dog hair and it smells like dog, but for Bender the outing was a great success. The first couple of times he had to be lifted in but after that he was swimming and retrieving his ball on his own accord with no running around or competing with other dogs. The aim is to go regularly for a few weeks and see if it helps the muscle tone on his back end and in his lower back, so hopefully when he runs around off leash everything 'holds together' a little better.

As you can see in the video, swimming is not a favorite hobby for the greyhounds. Barbie is a fairly strong swimmer but she spent the whole time trying to swim to the side to try and haul herself out.

Mouse just trusts you are going to hold her up so barely bothers to kick her legs. We decided not to use life jackets as I had tried one with Mouse previously and got the same 'limp dog' effect. I think Barbie may prefer to have a life jacket on but Mouse needs to learn to swim without one otherwise she is just going to float around the pool doing nothing. We might get them the 'head donut' style swim aids that keep the water out of their ears as other greyhound owners have recommended them to us.

We are booked in again on Sunday so we will see how it goes!!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fun on the water - kayaking with the hounds

I have posted about kayaking before. I spend a fair bit of time acclimating Mouse to the kayak while it was sitting in the back yard. The first time I tried to take her out she was far too obsessed with water fowl and I had to hang on to her leash the whole time. This time we went out and she surprised me by being very patient and awesome in the boat. We paddled for half an hour or so, got out for a picnic, and then for an hour more.

This is a great picnic spot, Servant.
Of course, she was a little bit annoyed with me that I forgot to put the camping mat down on the bottom of the boat for her comfort. I didn't really think she would want it because I didn't think she would cooperate and allow us to go out for so long.

what pelican? I don't see no pelican
Turns out she actually loves it! I think all the time in the bike trailer helped her get used to balancing when things are moving underneath her feet.

We took Barbie out later on and she isn't as happy in the kayak, but she sure does better than Bender who does his best to tip you out and then jumping out and swimming to shore!

It's funny how Mouse can be so highly strung in some situations and so mellow and easy going in others. She doesn't need a bribe to 'trailer up' or to get into the kayak. Barbie is yet to go in the bike trailer, but I will wear her down.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We are now finally muzzle free!

I think I already posted about Barbie getting her Green collar which allows her to be muzzle free in public. Recently Mouse went to the GAP kennel to be assessed and surprising NOBODY, she passed with flying colours.

The test is pretty simple. The greyhound has to stay in the GAP kennel and is repeatedly introduced to a French Bulldog. If the greyhound doesn't show an inappropriate prey response, then it passes the test.

This is what Mouse had to say about 'Green Collar Camp':

"It wasn't that exciting really, we stayed in this little kennel, got let out into a little pen to bounce and toilet.... and around lunch time every day I got to play with a little French Bulldog. 
Really I ignored her because she was a bit uncouth with all her snorting and squeaking and scooting around. My mum Bronwyn and her foster brother Junior were in at the same time and I was next door to mum in the kennel. She was a bit sad about being in the kennel so I tried to cheer her up by telling her stories about the cats I live with. She thought it was a bit weird that I would live with cats and tried to tell me I should chase them. I tried that when I got home but the Servant told me off so I stopped."
She was so cute when I picked her up - she had clearly not had her usual amount of exercise and stimulation so she was a little bit crazy. She bounced on the end of the leash all the way to the car.

The rest of the pack were pretty sad without her here. It was very quiet. It was all worth it in the end though! Now we can go to obedience class without looking over our shoulder!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween - MWAH HA HA HAAAR

Here in Australia Halloween is getting more and more popular. There was a market happening a few suburbs away and they were encouraging children, dogs and adults to come along and get dressed up for the occassion.

I bought an adult sized costume vampire cape from a discount store, and lucked out because I was charged less than it was marked for and it was $12!

It was 140 cm long so clearly too big for the Mouser. Mouser wasn't home last week because she was away going for her Green Collar (more about that next week), and Barbie refused to get up for measuring purposes. Bender ended up being the model, and it fit him pretty well.

I picked Mouser up on Thursday night and tried it on quickly. It seemed like it would do, and I added to the outfit with a medallion (which was from a bike ride I did in 2011). Then on the day I added some eyebrows.

There were a lot of other dogs there who were dressed up too, but they all admired Mouse's cape. It turned out to be just a little bit too long for her so I had to make sure she didn't stand on it as we made our way through the crowds. 

We also rode there, so I decided that I should take the GoPro and make a video. I ordered a crepe and sat down on a park bench to share it with Mouse. Then I dug into my pocket to pull out the camera, and .... it was gone!

The mozzies were biting and it was dark so after a brief search I gave up and went home. My phone number is on the back of the case so I figured that the chances were good I'd get it back if an honest person found it.

At about 5pm on Saturday I got a phone call from a strange number, so I leapt across the room to answer it. It was a lovely lady who had found it in the park! I drove there and grabbed it off her straight away. So glad and lucky to get it back!!!! 

Here is the video:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dunsborough weekend : Bender's GoPro Video

It turns out that Bender is quite a keen cinematographer. The only problem is that, being a boofhead boy, he is very rough on the camera. I only let him wear my old GoPro Hero 2 as the 3 is a little too precious to me.

I cut this video together for him and he told me he approves.

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