Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sharing nature's toys

It's been an emotional and tough week for me but somehow my gang always manages to put a smile on my face and lighten the load.

Who would have known these two angels... had a big blowout over a possessive issue less than a week ago. I worked on sharing all this week from things I learnt at Dogsmart and today they initiated it on their own :P

Keegan did resume chewing on the opposite end...don't be deceived by his "I'm so hard done by" expression.

Monday, July 28, 2008

clicker training makes me hopeful

This isn't a blog about my guys, rather a little note to self to keep my chin up.
I found it interesting this month, I noticed that media is highlighting the endless possibilities for humans and animals to work together, using positive reinforcement methods.
It's funny in life when you feel like you're losing ground, you come across something like these documentaries... two individuals with gentle hearts, a love for animals, a clicker and the knowledge of classical conditioning (concentrating on rewarding the desirable behaviours...instead of using emotional, physical, fear, or startle methods as punishment to control undesirable behaviours) are making people think and seeing the value of working with another species using a simple reward system to achieve a behaviour. This is how all my dogs and foster dogs are taught. No matter what sort of past lives the fosters had, they all thrived.
It's people like these two that make me feel that it's important to share what we learn whatever it is that we do really well that can impact someone else's life for the better where you concentrate on making good things happen.. please share it. As little as our contribution might seem, it makes the world of difference to those you touch.

Giant rats who detect land mines and TB .... "clicker" training bridging the "language" barrier. (click on the watch video)

Buddhest Tigers...a very hard story to listen to in parts. Hope comes in the form of a wild animal "clicker" trainer from Montreal. Part 2 Tiger temple: click on the link below to start the documentary

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Estuary trail- located just before The Spit

Access to the estuary is via this bridge, located just off of the road.  It's a relaxing walk, wide open spaces to practice recalls :)  I took a recall class this past spring with Rita one of my fav instructors at Dogsmart.  Believe it or was a definite confidence booster.  Every class provides you with building blocks for the last day exam.   If you stuck to the instructions and practiced in quick spirts, the result is a bullet recall.  My beagles chose me me me!  Me over other dogs, people teasing them with toys, a food bowl full of treats (they had to run past the food bowl to get to me), squirrels, ducks, and a hotdog stand.  Not bad for a 6 wk class.  No squishing, threatening, yelling, punishing..... their rewards were tasty treats (ie..roast chicken), play with me, games and cuddles.  A little bit of honey goes a LONG way.

Wide open trail shot.  I use long lines when hiking, just guys are awesome, but if ever they didn't hear me, or temptation was just too overwhelming, having the long lines drag is my safety net.  
Pretty flowers, I need to buy a book on plants that are common in this area, so I can include names.
Daizy and Taiki's (you have to zoom to see him) recall off of the geese in the distance, you can barely see them, but I gave my guys the cue "geese,  check it out" so they get the green light to adventure out and get close to the geese, and then I recall them back "ZOOM" is our new recall word.  I love watching their expressions when they come bouncing back to me.
George's recall off the geese.  He's so dramatic about skidding around and bombing back.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kite boarders-zoom in!

On our way to The Spit, I love Daizy's timing, she always seems to know when we're almost "there".

Until I buy a good camera...if there is a picture that looks like there's a speck of dirt on it, please zoom in......and you'll see something that I would have captured if I had a zoom feature on my cell.  ie. the last picture below, the boarder caught some crazy air!

On our way there was a movie crew filming some sort of Dragon movie.   I was worried that they were filming along the estuary trail, and relieved that they were further into the woods.  The trailers were lined up along the road.  I didn't see any stars.  Mind you I rarely watch tv, so unless they happen to make the supermarket covers, I probably wouldn't have recognized who they were anyways :)  

Movie trailers
Keegan near the water.  He's going through an awkward puppy growth stage where his head looks like it's bigger than his body.  It's funny how one week they'll grow taller, the next they'll grow longer.  With Daizy I was convinced I got a Basset Hound instead of a Beagle, but it all works out in the end :)
Boy I wish I had the guts to do this, it looks like so much fun!
Please zoom in, this guy is catching some serious air!

I was talking with a newbie surfer and he compared the thrill of kite surfing/boarding to waterskiing and instead of a boat steering have a child in control of the wind patterns.  Exhilarating and unpredictable!   Start up is $$$ around 3k but 1 yr membership is only $150.
I think Darrell's going to try this for his B-day in August.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Keegan's first swim!

During the summer we get to leave around 3pm on Friday's, yeah!
I raced home and we (me and dogs) headed out to The Spit to watch some kite boarding, then on our way back (estuary is located just before The Spit),  we went for a walk along the estuary before meeting Darrell in Horseshoe Bay (I'll post pic's of that later).
Keegan loves water.  Every time we walk along the river, he heads straight for it and on hot days, he bellyflops down into ankle high water to cool off.  I couldn't wait to see what his reaction would be to a pond.  
Below is his first venture into deeper water while chasing Daizy and the ball.   I've posted it as a memory of our fun, don't expect to see him doing anything as exciting as water ballet.   I'm not sure he realized what he was getting into, as afterwards, he just sat along the side lines not in a hurry to jump back in.  This may be his first and last "swim":P  

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jack-rabbit, our friendly wild rabbit

We moved in to our home last July, and noticed that along with the house came a rabbit, who visited our yard in the mornings, sniffing around for fruit from our plum and cherry trees.
I used to have a rabbits as pets, Pillow was an English Lop that Daizy and George grew up with who ruled the home. It was a really nice surprise to see the rabbit in our yard. Interesting how life experiences sometimes repeat themselves (for the better or in way of challenges)....when you least expect it.
Jack's story came to me by way of a neighbor..a sweet little red head girl. The owner of the rabbits one day opened the pen to the hutch and released all the rabbits he was keeping in his yard after neighbors complained to officials. That left them all to fend for themselves. Jack's the only one that made it to date he's about 5 or so yrs.
Jack sticks to visiting a few houses around my home, sleeps on another neighbor's property and between fruit trees, grasses, leaves (loves blackberry and plum leaves) and us, he's well fed. He visits me first thing in the morning and then pops back throughout the day. It's taken a year of desensitizing and conditioning to associate me (and my dogs) with treats, calm and cuddles using the techniques I learned at Dogsmart actually, where my dogs go for classes.
At first I could not get close without him bolting (smart guy not to trust everyone) but now he visits with Daizy (he and Daizy sniff the ground in search for sweet grass to chew), and Keegan touch nose to nose, Taiki is calm and goes to say hello and then is indifferent. George is the schnook has not been in the same area as he'll attempt chase and instigate play, so for now, he just gets to sniff and hang out on the opposite side of the fence.
Jack is comfortable enough with me where when I call him...(I have a bell hanging from my door that I ring as I go out the door and will say "hello sweet pea, over here" and watch him come bouncing from another yard to say hello and allow me to feed, hang out and pet him.
It just goes to show that a little bit of honey(carrots,veggies & fruit), patience and respect (I don't force Jack to do anything, it's all from his free will) go a long way even with different species. I feel sad that he doesn't have a mate, but my dogs and me keep him entertained and I'm certain he feels loved. My plan is to create a home for him and should he ever decide to stay there on his own, we'll be thrilled to have him join our gang.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Crumpet Mountain- 4hrs little bit of everything-FUN

Crumpet Mountain trail was FUN.  As with every hike so far, there was a few surprises along the way.  We're within walking distance of atleast 9 peaks :) and Crumpet is one of them.
Darrell likes biking or jogging this one.  He had to slow his pace down for me.... did it in about 4hrs with rest and relaxation stops along the way.  It's not a trail you want to race through. 
I can only  have 5 pic's per post, so I won't bother doubling up on trail access pics as one of the ways to get to the trail is from our river path, which I've already posted of Valleycliff.  
We walked in the forest until we came upon this rickety ladder which leads the way up to the first lookout.  It was soooo old but I loved it, made from unmanufactured tree cool is that!  The dogs were'n as impressed.  Agility cues came in handy, as soon as I said "walk it" they did just that, without hesitation.  Sometimes all they need is a familiar assurance (cue) from us that it's safe.

Halfway up is Co-Crumpet, a look out which comes with a comfy sofa to lean back, chill and enjoy the view...nature's furniture.  All Darrell needed was a remote and an ice cold beer.
This was so neat!  In one section there were ferns,  almost the size of us, lining each side of the forest path.
View to kill at the peak, we sat and talked for the longest time: while the pups rested. Such a beautiful day to be out, it would have been a shame not to take the time to enjoy.  
On a different note, Daizy had a seizure June 25th, which scared the bijeebies out of me on our way back from puppy class while I was driving (I pulled over...)  I've been so worried about her, and keeping a close eye for any signals, but she's been so happy and energetic, that I'm praying she'll be in the clear for a while longer.  I think if worst case scenario, I'd pack her up in one of those doggie knapsacks where they can poke their head out, continue to take her along.  She LOVES these type of long hikes.  George and Taiki are so tiny, but are serious about keeping up the pace.  I'm the one who holds everyone back!Keegan crawled under my legs for a snooze.  He melts my heart.  


Thursday, July 10, 2008

WWF-George and Keegan style, Taikinator as referee

This is not a hiking story rather something I get a kick out of; watching dogs play.
Mike, you might want to take note on some of the moves :P
It's interesting how they all have different play styles, and just learn
to incorporate something fun for whomever they happen to be playing with.
The only common thread is there's lots of stop and start, checking in to make sure nothing's getting out of hand.  If one gets too rough, there's a yelp and play stops.  If the other ignores the yelp, they get an ear full until they back off.  Sounds like a Chinese Opera.  
Daizy's all crash'm up derby, not at all girly...reminds me of Godzilla taking on the army.... Taiki's style is like going to a night at a Monty Python opera and watching a battle scene, lots of exaggerated "take this! and that! how about this! oh yeah well....oh oh retreat! retreat!..." drama, stunts, chasing, along with his own personal ear piercing sound design. George is all about anything from WWF on the ground play, pretending to be a running back being chased to the goal post, to goofy romantic comedy bloopers...Keegan's playstyle, hmmm, the movie with Peter Sellers as the Inspector, 'The Pink Panther" comes to mind :)  Keegan would be Kato. He loves Sneak attacking!   I'll have to capture Keegan's finest sneak attack antic's and blog about them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hydro station hike (July 2008)

I finished the hike that Darrell started on Saturday :P  He came home after mountain biking with Taiki and had snapped a couple of pic's to help me feed this blog; only he took the victory pictures at the top and forgot to take a couple along the way.  I decided to swap dogs and do the hike Sunday after the river trail.  It takes a couple hours as well. You meet other climbers, hikers, and can stop and watch them if you need an excuse to rest ;P
You enter via Smoke Bluffs, where you hike among the people climbing,  go up to Octopus' garden and are supposed to keep to your right towards Mountain of Phlegm (?) ...after that just keep going uphill till you reach the Search and Rescue Helicopter pad.  

Here's where I ended up......
Here's where I was supposed to end up.....

There's a beautiful view, which one day I'll have to redo this hike and take it in.
Taiki looks sooooo not impressed with having mountain biked in the rain with Darrell.
I think it had something to do with Darrell's wipe out (bike landing on top of Darrell) after trying to convince Taiki that the slippery log that he had to walk along was no biggie.....

Valleycliff trail-northward (July 2008)

This is the trail close by our home, it sort of runs perpendicular to the street we're on.  There are trails that veer off in different directions, you can walk for as long as you like, or mountain bike and experience something different depending on your mood.

The wild flowers are beautiful and plentiful, these "litter" not only pretty much every sunny
green space on the river trail but also along the highway from Squamish towards West Vancouver.  Below Keegan and Daizy share the ball....for some reason after Daizy retrieves a ball she'll often run up to Keegan, start teasing him with this ball and they'll do this ball swapping back and forth thing.  It's sweet.

Once into the woods, if you cut along to the river, the greens are electric and very bright.
Back into the woods the forest it is muted.  It felt like I walked off of one set onto another one.

We stopped and hung out for a bit in this open area and shared an apple.....Great Zen space. Very little foot or bike traffic.  In the couple hours we were out, we only encountered on other person and his dog.

Daizy is testing her beaglish telekenisis abilities....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canada Day-kids area n Daizy agility (July 2008)

There was a little market with bakery treats, jewlery, and other artisans, along with a kids area...very sweet, tons of kids!! Daizy LOVED being in the kids area....all those sticky sweet fingers to lick!
I found the usual games and then I came across one where you had to slingshot a body part into a Shark's mouth....your choice of a bloody, torn to shreds rubber foot, hand or something indistinguishable :)
Darrell couldn't resist playing the frisbee game...he said he was doing it for Taiki...
Here's Daizy's agility fun, we sort of crashed the Sea to Sky canine sport club agility demo :P Both Daizy and Taiki got really excited when we approached it, so I asked if we could goof around on the course. While they were super refined in my flip flops and goofy sniffer dogs got to have a bit of fun on some of the obstacles when they weren't demo'n. Daizy totally cashed in on some cake with whip cream icing that she found in the corner off of the tunnel. I had nothing to trump that in my pockets!

Happy Canada Day!-Taiki Agility-Squamish (June 2008)

Here's a sweet picture of Taiki in my arms after our agility run. I love his Marty Feldman eyes.
Here's Taiki burning up the course (in our own minds maybe ...we're not exactly ready for any serious agility trials...) I need to make him a bright red "Love Pug" cape for the next time :)

Nairn Falls-1.5km along river (June 2008)

This was an easy flip flop sort of hike.  That's what I was wearing at the time :)
We went for a drive that started with Darrell buying a bike in Whistler then drove to Pemberton which was suffocatingly hot to check out organic farms.  On our way back, we stopped to cool off by hiking along the river.  It was a good escape from the heat with the cool breeze of the river and being protected by the trees from the sun.  The falls were well worth the hike.

Happy houndz are those who have had a full day out and about!  I love Daizy's smile. 
We ended the afternoon by stopping in at Whistler for some vanilla ice cream.