Monthly Archives: April 2012

It’s more than just a walk in the park

This dog is being walked in "Heel" position - the leash is in the handler's left hand.

Now that the weather is getting warmer and the City of  Calgary’s pathway network is getting busier – I see the above situation multiple times when I’ve been out for walks with CB and Kona. This is a pet peeve of mine and it just shows how few people there are aware of the dog bylaws for our pathways.  I’m sure most people are like I was, unaware of our City’s pathway etiquette and Bylaw.

Regardless of where you live, your city likely has a Animal-related bylaw. The City of Calgary does have it’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw and the bylaw in your home town will likely be similar to what we have here. The full beast is a pretty wordy document, but when an individual licenses their dog they receive this fancy little brochure in the mail which summarizes some of the main points. I know when I read it I recall thinking it was interesting but quickly forgot most of what it said. Granted – one of the key points is unclear in the brochure and either requires you to go to the bigger document to understand it – or someone else has to explain it to you for you to know what it means.

Looking at the above picture, the cyclist looks annoyed that he has to maneuver around the dog and handler. And really he should be as this walker is not taking care to ensure they do interfere with other users. There is a lot of common sense to the city’s pet bylaw – it was created to educate owners, keep pets healthy, and to limit user conflict and to keep pets and other users safe in the city.

Dogs Permitted on Pathways
(4) Notwithstanding subsection 15(1) or 15(2), the Owner of a dog may allow such dog to pass along or across a Pathway, including a Pathway that runs through an area designated as an off-Leash area, only if such dog:
  1. (a)  is secured by a Leash of no greater length than two (2) metres;
  2. (b)  remains on the right hand side of the Pathway at all times unless moving around other Pathway users; and
  3. (c)  remains under the Owner’s control at all times ensuring that the dog does not interfere with or obstruct any other Pathway user.

What all this legalese means is that dogs must be on a leash 2 meters or less in length (6 feet or less) while on city pathway’s even when they go through an offleash area. That means not on a leash that is extended to 10 or 20 feet (like you can with a flexi or retractable leash). With a leash extended to that great of a distance, how can one control their dog and limit interaction with other users (part 3 of the bylaw). The wire’s of retractable leashes aren’t all that visible and if Fido suddenly decides to rush across the path to chase a squirrel or visit another dog you risk clothes-lining another pathway user. That is why dog’s should be kept close to their owner/handler while walking on paths or even city streets. Personally I think it’s a beautiful thing to see a dog walking on a nice loose leash beside it’s owner rather than watching an owner walking with it’s dog far away from it extended to the end of it’s leash. Which do you think looks better between the two photos?

The small mail-out brochure reads as though handlers and dogs should be on the right side of the pathway unless passing. But when you delve into the actual bylaw you read that it states that “DOGS” are to be on the right hand side of the pathway. To have the dog in that position the dog will need to be on the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the owner/handler – so not in HEEL position. I misunderstood the Brochure myself and it wasn’t until I participated in a 10 week dog training class that it was clarified for me.

The dog in the photo on the left is right in the middle of the pathway and it will be difficult for their handler to protect it from on-coming or passing pathway traffic. In the photo on the right below, Kona is on the far right of the pathway, my husband can easily step in front of him and/or pull him out of harms way from the oncoming cyclist.

By walking with your dog on the right side of you while on the pathway, they are safer. You can do this even if you don’t live in Calgary and your city does not have a bylaw like this, it’s just sensible to keep your friend protected from passing cyclists, rollerbladers, children and other dogs. CB and Kona hope you can keep Fido safe this summer and all year long.

Time for a little Patience

Last night I took Kona to a training class on Patience. A few times a month we attend group drop-in training classes and they are on a variety of topics. While Kona has been recuperating we’ve mostly been training at home. It’s not quite the same as being outside with distractions like obstacles, surfaces, people and other dogs.

These classes are always fun but last nights was particularly interesting as we randomly varied the stay from sit to down to stand and we also used different obstacles (outdoor benches, seats, walls, rocks) and different surfaces (grass, wood chips, gravel, concrete, granite, wire grating).

Kona’s sit-stays are pretty good and he often doesn’t break them regardless of what he’s on or who’s beside him. Here he is doing a sit-stay on a cement stool – we do have an advantage over the other dogs though since his whole body fits nicely on the stool.

His down-stays on unfamiliar surfaces were interesting. He kept breaking them at first. I placed him on this obstacle and he kept either coming to me or going into a sit. We definitely don’t work this as much as a sit and I see how we need to do them more often.

What was really tricky was the stand-stay, that was a new skill for us last night. I wasn’t able to get too far from him but closer in he was staying. I was really surprised that out of all the surfaces we were on that the wood chips were the most challenging – not just for us but for many of the other dogs. It was too interesting for a down or sit-stay but somehow worked for a stand-stay.

And my favorite photo of the evening is pretty blurry but I’ll share anyway. Kona is on a skinny metal mesh bench beside Cole (a Catahoula). This would be more challenging for Cole just due to his rear end being larger, but Cole’s weight caused the bench to move so holding the sit-stay was a greater challenge than usual for Kona with the bench wobbling beneath him.

It was really fun mixing up the stays and surfaces. I think it made what we were doing more fun and by the end of the session it didn’t matter what Kona was on or what position. He figured out last nights game was to stay.

Wordless Wednesday

Any thoughts as to what is on the cyclist’s mind? Come back Friday to find out what I think about this.

Training Time and some other random thoughts on tracking

It’s been just over 6 weeks since Kona’s surgery to remove the plate. We’ve been doing his physio and he’s been getting daily walks; since he has been using his leg as normal I thought I’d take him to a Rally class and get him back to training.

I ended up taking both CB and Kona and the outcome was quite good for both of them – especially considering that CB and Kona would rather play if they had their choice. But what pom wouldn’t? This is also the first Rally training session I have taken CB to since the tracking seminar. We have been to agility – but we don’t have the “sniffing” issue with agility.

Kona – I am really pleased with how he did. He was eager, focused and stayed nicely in heel. We are just starting to work on Advanced exercises but have not progressed to offleash work yet. For the jumps we left the bar on the floor and I gave him the command to “JUMP” and he did a little jump over the bar. I wanted to make sure he understands to jump but we can’t give him any height to clear while his leg is healing. So far so good.

CB – I don’t think I’ve ever had as much interest from him as I did last night without lure. I don’t know if having Kona there made it more fun for him or if letting him do a small serpentine track in the afternoon has made sniffing in Rally less interesting. Whatever it was there is something different. He was faster and I didn’t need to work to get his interest.

I did take the pups for a walk in the afternoon – a walk we do quite often that takes us through some trails and a field in the west end of Edworthy. After last weekends seminar I’m looking at parks and fields a little differently scoping out places I can lay short tracks. I happened to have treats in my pocket and tied up the dogs and laid a short baited serpentine with a scent pad.

And since I don't think a post is complete without a photo - here is a picture of Kona's sister from another mister, just because I think it's cute. Doesn't have anything to do with this post other than it's in the field in Edworthy.

Aside for the fact that I had bait, I was pretty unprepared. I had dead grass colored bait, no flags and the conditions were really dry. I needed CB to find the scent pad because my bait disappeared into the grass but he pulled me right to it so that wasn’t a problem. He did the track pretty quickly and I’m thinking that I don’t need to bait every step now and I need to start working him with longer tracks. He was actually very excited to track, so much that I had concerns that he would be “tracking” at Rally.  It turned out not to be the case last night.

It seems strange that just a quick “track” could make that much difference so quickly.  Anyone else have experience with tracking and doing Obedience with their dog? I’m thinking that since we’re associating a command (Find It) with the scent pad that that could be making a difference. Or is just the action of having a real scent to follow more interest than sniffing random things on the floor?

Wordless Wednesday

From this past weekend in Raven Alberta – CB is deep in thought. Wonder what was on his mind.

And now for something COMPLETELY different – serpentines of another kind

This past weekend CB and I traveled out to Raven Alberta for an introduction to  tracking seminar with CKC tracking judge Donna Brinkworth. In a nutshell it was great and it turns out I might have myself the makings of a nice little tracking dog. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

CB with his nose down taking in a serpentine footstep track. Donna is coaching me on directing CB's attention to the bait along the footpath.

CB’s posture in the above photo (head down and sniffing) has been seen at the occasional Rally trial. It’s cost us a few “teamwork” points and I signed up for the seminar thinking I may as well not fight his natural ability to track if he has it – and I was also  thinking that maybe I’d be able to re-direct his “sniffing” into a tracking reward for him if he liked it and hopefully see less of it in Rally. Well see how that goes with practice.

This weekends seminar was over two days. Yesterday we learned about scent/tracking theory and we had an opportunity for some practical work with scent pads and footstep tracking. It was so neat seeing all the different dogs working – there were two miniature/Schnauzers, an Australian Shepherd and a Basset Hound in addition to CB. Michelle of Sufat Sheleg Canaan Dogs graciously hosted the seminar on her property and has some great photos of all of us working on her blog.

We first worked on scent pads and creating an association with the scent and the bait. CB really liked this part as he is very food motivated.

CB looking for chicken on the scent pad.

Next we set up a scent pad leading into a serpentine footstep track with bait in every footstep. This is Michelle demonstrating a serpentine track with her Canaan Dog Ash.

Michelle and Ash on a serpentine track

Outline of the scent pad and serpentine track I set up for CB. Since the ground was soft you can really see my foot prints in the grass.

Donna demonstrated tracking with two of her dogs (Caden and Jet) and we also got to practice line handling to better understand how our leash/body pressure on the dog may change their behavior on the track. Pretty neat stuff and it was so cool listening to CB taking in the scent as he was following his tracks.

Today we set up tracks for Donna’s current students. The tracks were blind to the handler and only Donna (who judged) and the track-layer knew where the tracks went. This was a mock trial for the handler’s and it gave them an opportunity to see where their training is at. It was also a great opportunity for us ‘newbies’ to see some teams getting ready for their first TD test – in action. I set up a track for a gorgeous Afghan – and it was really neat to watch him working. I then got to run the track with CB after it was loosely baited –  I was amazed at how quickly he got down to business of following the track. So cool.

Heading up to the scent pad - getting ready to go "find it"

We finished up the day with more scent pads and serpentines. CB and I both slept — er, I mean CB slept on the drive back to Calgary. Using his sniffer seems to have tired him out.

It might seem kind of strange to be training a Pomeranian in tracking but it’s really not so. According to the Pomeranian Club of America the first pom to receive an AKC TD was Georgian’s Betty in 1948. Don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point of attempting the TD test – but we’ll be far from the first if we do.

April Showers

Turned into snow showers. At least CB and Kona don’t seem to mind. They both got a good case of the zoomies.

It starts out all nice and calm

And then quickly digresses into full on bitey face and a game of chase.

I never really seem to get good pictures of Kona, and when there’s snow on the ground I have an even harder time. Portraits are not my specialty – I mostly like to take close-ups and landscapes. The pups just move around too much – CB’s not so hard to capture but Kona is hard unless he’s looking at the camera. My manual Canon seems to do a pretty good job but I didn’t want to get it wet. I’m going to have to pull out my Scott Kelby books and see if I can find some help there. Maybe it’s time I thought about getting a new automatic camera for days like this. I’m kind of intrigued by the Nikon 1 but not sure if I really need it since I really like my Canon SLR. It’s snowing so heavily that 5 minutes later you couldn’t see any trace of them in the yard. Or of the deer that pop over my fence to ruin my grass. Jerks.

With the weather all blah like this it sort of ate into my training plans. It’s not quite so fun to be outside practicing sit-stays and jump drills when it’s snowing like this. At least I can think about the things that I need to work on and CB and Kona don’t mind the day off. At least it doesn’t look like CB does.

Wordless Wednesday – when the stars align

Strange things like this can happen – your 17 year old cat (Rocky) decides after a year that the pups aren’t so bad and maybe they can all hang out together. This didn’t last long as taking the photographic evidence caused everyone to scatter. Makes me wonder what goes on when we’re not home.

What's going here? Strange cat/dog Shenanigans?

Red Deer Rally Results

CB hanging out pre-trial

What a busy weekend – the Red Deer and District Kennel Club show was this past weekend and I had entered CB in all three days. But I chickened out and entered him in Advanced B (for practice) and then after a few drop-in classes it was evident that I should be moving him up to Excellent.

Well I wasn’t able to get in touch with the show secretary in time and was only able to move up for Saturday and Sunday – but that was okay. So on Friday we were in Advanced B and qualified with a respectable score of 90.

Saturday – our first run in Excellent did not go all that well. We NQ’d the Honor – CB started out 6 feet away from me in a down but finished at my feet. Then we NQ’d the course – which is totally okay because a Q on the course and an NQ because of the Honor would have been a bummer. I totally think it’s my fault too. I had great focus from CB when we got there but I’m pretty sure I overtired him with a 1/2 hour walk before the walk-thru and then we waited almost an hour and half for the Excellent B’s to finish before we had our turn. I didn’t realize we’d be waiting so long and had him in the stands with me while I stressed. We were both tired and it really showed in our course time (4.5 minutes!) and the poor focus CB had on the course. I feel terrible for the team that had to Honor us – fortunately we didn’t cost them a Q.

Sunday – a new day for sure. I had a different strategy and kept CB crated until just before our turn. He was eager and focused – we Q’d with a score of 86 and no point losses for incorrect performance  – a majority of the points off were singles for poor sits and being out of position. Our time was way better too but he was still a little sniffy and stopped a couple of times to investigate drool spots and dust bunnies. Now I don’t concern myself with time – but the more engaged CB is the faster we are on the course and we finished in 3 minutes – which also means a shorter stay for the Honor dog. And lucky for us there was nothing happening in the Obedience ring so CB didn’t crawl forward during his down-stay. He was wiggly though and there was some minor controversy with his stay because of that. The Honor Steward didn’t think he lifted his elbows (he didn’t) but the ring steward thought he got up. He didn’t but he did turn his head to chew his tail and probably would have next moved into a sit if I hadn’t been able to get his attention with a deep “HEY!”. He moved around about as much as could have been possible in one spot. The Honor steward th0ught she was paying attention but then had doubts herself – even though she didn’t see his elbows up. I wasn’t sure how much movement they would allow because he was like a little worm wriggling on the spot – but those elbows stayed down. So we have one leg toward the Rally Excellent title and got a High in Class to boot. How about that.

Way to go CB!

A tired CB with his Big Ribbon

Choir Boy

Kona in a choir-robe or some kind of UFO

Usually I post a Wordless Wednesday but it’s been a while since I’ve updated on Kona since he’s been recovering from his surgery and I find this “bonnet” funny beyond words. The one thing Kona definitely isn’t is a little angel – although for as naughty as he can be (really it’s just barking t00 much), he is so sweet, friendly and cuddly. He’ll let anyone pet him and has no issues with strangers. This whole business with his leg has been an ordeal and he’s not too happy being confined even though it’s for his own good. Now that he’s splint/cast free he’s been going to town licking his leg at any opportunity he has. It’s almost like he’s trying to get re-acquainted with himself. So sadly we’ve had to resort to this little costume to keep from overdoing it and leaving the incision alone.

I like this soft-cone a lot. It totally stops access to his leg but still lets him get to his water and food dishes. I can also see some other uses as Halloween costumes. The first thing that came to mind was attaching felt flower petals to it and using it as a “black-eyed Susan” costume. An angel would also work well, I’d just need to make a hat-halo. You could also dress up more than one dog and make a theme out of it. Any one else have costume ideas for the soft cone?

Overall it seems that he’s doing alright other than being under-exercised. His leg is still turning out at the pastern even though the leg is pretty straight at the point of fracture. It’s not so noticeable when he’s standing but is really accentuated when he’s sitting as in the above photo. Don’t know if physio can do anything for it but we’re giving it a try and we’ll be starting on the water treadmill in the next few weeks.