Monday, October 20, 2014

Groundhog Day Has Arrived

It seems our achievements to make a perfect Hovawart lady out of "you know who I mean", is suffering a minor setback.

I am afraid to call her by name, as I am sure just mentioning her name will wake her up for a new round of mischief.

It all begun, when I felt waking up started to resemble a lot like going through groundhog day.

I found myself scrambling to get some clothes on in the morning, because the "the lady of the house" was hanging on each item of clothing I wanted to put on. Fleeing to the bathroom and dress over there did help, although the bathroom door is taking most of the beating for me, and will soon need to be re-painted.

Going on with my morning routine, a strange creature started following me, developing it's abilities to walk on its hind legs only, and using every available part of me for front leg support.

Finally, when we reach the kitchen, I get some relief, as the kitchen counter is undoubtedly a much better spot to place your front paws on and to practice some more hind-leg awareness. Evolution seems to be spinning out of control, and a whole new species, "canine sapiens", the upright dog, might be evolving right under my eyes.

The mouthing has returned too. Although this time, "she" only likes to mouth on things that are alive, like yours truly. It's positive though, there is only time to mouth when there is nothing to bark at, and I am impressed over the wide array of opportunities there are actually available to practice your bark at.

It is raining a lot of "No's", and "Noooo's", during the mornings, to no avail. But as groundhog day progresses, and we go for walkies, and train, some control is returned back to me again, I like to think. But just like the real groundhog day, it just gives some respite, to be able to charge up for tomorrow when everything starts all over again.

What happened you might wonder? Why the relapse? We didn't solve her jumping and mouthing, but it went so much better, and it seems that now we are back at square one.

Well, adolescence has arrived. That wonderful period in every dog's life, somewhere between the age of 14 and 18 months, in which they wish to forget everything they have learned so far.

It is no big deal though. It'll pass. Just like human adolescence, it is just a phase. Nothing a little patience can't cure. Until then, it is groundhog day over here.

With Kenzo, it was over in just a couple of weeks as I remember. Although for some dogs, it is a lot like starting over, and Tilde might just be one of those.

Oh, oh. She heard me.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hovawart Puppy Mill Breakdown: Change On The Way?

Many of you probably remember when the Danish Hovawart puppy mill was closed down in January last year, and the Hovawarts in the shelter welcomed an unexpected V.I.P. visitor, the Danish Minister of Agriculture & Animal Welfare, Mette Gjerskov.

She paid them a visit to learn more first-hand about the "puppy mill case" and the efforts from the shelter, "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", to re-home the survivors.

Back then, I wrote: "I am confident that our Hovawarts and Dyrenes Beskyttelse planted a little seed for the longer term aspects of this case - to make sure this never can happen again - and send Mette Gjerskov back to Copenhagen with some food for thought."

It took a while, and a change in Minister, but I do have exciting news.

Earlier this year in March, the new Minister, Dan Jørgesen - it's him on the photo - launched a new campaign, "A better dog life", containing among others initiatives to make people more aware of what it takes to care for a dog, to decrease the number of dogs euthanized because of behavioral issues, and to put a stop to breeding for fashion and not health, among others.

There were many initiatives launched all at once, and one of the initiatives didn't catch the public eye, but was that greatly needed first step on the way, to sharpen the control on puppy mills and dog trafficking, we are all longing for. The rules for registration and licensing were extended, to all individuals or businesses that either breed or trade with puppies commercially. Meaning, size doesn't matter anymore, and all who are commercially active around pets, need to be registered, acquire a license, and will receive veterinary control visits. And they include traffickers, or fronts thereof.

This process launched in August and is still unfolding, and along the way, surprise, surprise, we can already see more puppy mills are surfacing in Denmark - some even closed down on the spot. And also for the first time ever, it is on public record, and we can see how many dogs are actually kept inside the mills.

The registrations and inspections are expected to be finished at the end of this year, and all the experiences will be evaluated, to determine what next steps should be made, including possible new legislation.

It is a first step, and like me you will probably also think why it always has to go slow, but it does give me a good feeling an army of inspectors is driving through the country at this very moment, and are knocking on all those doors.

Change might be just around the corner, if, and only if, it will actually lead to new legislation and proper enforcement. At least the intention seems to be there now, with the proper authorities, to start acting.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sleeping Apart Together

The day after Tilde's arrival, we bought her a nice dog bed, an upgraded deluxe version of the one, Kenzo was already using for years. She was quite fond of it, and already on the same day, she claimed it as her own.

But sometimes, one bed, isn't enough. And at bedtime, she rushed ahead to pick her spot for the night. "Which dog bed do I, the princess, like to sleep in today?". Kenzo followed, and patiently waited for Tilde to make her choice, after which he trotted towards the remaining empty spot. Just before he could step in, a growling Tilde was rushing over to occupy it for him.

Kenzo remained calm despite the commotion, and started to move towards the other dog bed now left empty by Tilde, "You want that one? Alright, then I take the left-over", only to be stopped by a growling Tilde once more, who could just make a clumsy landing in the other dog bed, before Kenzo could reach it.

He did think it over for a moment, "So I guesss you need both then, well, alright". He has lived with a resource-guarder like Viva, and you'll need a lot more than a quarrel over a dog bed, to get Kenzo in a state of panic.

He laid down in the hallway, with both dog beds in sight, although looking the other way, as if he was not interested in either of them any more. It didn't take long, before restless Tilde left her dog bed, toddled down the hallway, to have a little sip at her water bowl.

As soon as Tilde was out of reach, Kenzo quickly laid down in his own dog bed. When Tilde returned from her water refreshment, she stopped in her tracks at the door opening. Kenzo, with his head up, looked right at her, "So... what are you going to do about it?".

Nothing, Tilde decided, and she laid down in her own bed again, and released a big sigh, while looking at Kenzo. After that, there were no more battles over dog beds.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Hovawart Meme's

Those meme's quickly get addictive. If you missed them on our Facebook wall, here they are. Feel free to copy and share away - click on them to get full-size, then download.

If you made any yourself, I am happy to see them!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hovawart TV: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

Bard - the Herd-Wart - is brave enough to explore the mysteries of cat body language.

She does love you, Bard. It is a cat thing.

Watch more Hovawart TV.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

That Day To Day Stuff

"It's benign", the vet said over the phone, and the longest exhale in my life could start making its way to freedom. In fact, I had to call her back the next day to recite the whole report she gave me, as I couldn't remember a lot more of what she said, other than those three words.

Nine days of waiting, pondering, worrying, pacing, and some more worrying, it all came to an end in one exhale. Live from day to day, they teach us. Dogs that is. And didn't Kenzo gave me yet another lesson in that department when we returned from his surgery, when he tried to make a high-five. I am a lousy student of dog life-lessons.

Honestly, the last nine days went by in a blur. I found the strength, after long conversations with Viva reminding me about our sunsets, to accept whatever was coming, and live from day to day after that, if it was bad. And if it was good, I would finally live from day to day too, we agreed.

Of course, for my readers I am willing to make a tiny exception, and look slightly forward, so Viva, close your ears.

With the tumors from Kenzo's paw removed, we finally solved the riddle why he had such a relapse in his recovery from his shoulder injury. The news, it is definitely not a re-injury of his shoulder, is almost just as good the tumor they found to be benign.

The vet had a confession to make too. Usually it is me that is second guessing, and I promise you I can be a real pain in the but for any vet. But when we had everything checked, his fungus infection cleared, as well as the infection in his paw, I insisted he still wasn't walking properly.

She actually didn't agree, but she knew I know Kenzo best, the way he walks and if he is doing that pain-free in particular, and we agreed there was no other option to have surgery and go in and look. The day I brought Kenzo in for his surgery and left, she took Kenzo in alone for one final examination, just to ensure if she hadn't missed anything, and to double-check if she could still get a pain response from his paw. "I was second guessing you", she smiled, and we were both laughing out loud.

Kenzo's recovery is still under way. When the wound from the operation has healed - it takes a little longer than usual as it is a difficult place between his paws - we can slowly expose him to some walks again. Certainly not overdo it. Just getting used again to use his leg and paw pain-free, have him checked with his therapy vet for any tensed muscles and such, and then ...

Then we, well, enjoy the day by day stuff again. I promise. The future is bright. Wait a minute ... oops, now I did it again. But I am trying.


Monday, September 29, 2014


"Tilde? ... Tilde!!", I shouted, to no avail.

Ah yes, you might have noticed, a lot of my recent posts seem to start with exactly that shout, although eye-witnesses claim I use the F word.

Before you read on, I want to reassure you, no person or animal got hurt, other than yours truly's confidence in having any control whatsoever over Tilde, was dented once more.

Tilde was running towards a flock of sheep that were grazing on top of a dike. We kept good distance to the dike while passing by - more than twice the length of a football field - and we were playing fetch with Tilde's favorite ball. When suddenly she stood absolutely still, gave me one last gaze - as if she was making up her mind - and off she went. Again.

I laughed out loud. Confident, because I knew the area was fenced in, and after "Chickenshit", I wouldn't make the same mistake twice. Until I saw her make a jump that high, I thought to be physically impossible. Luckily Tilde didn't make it over the fence, but it ensured my panic level to be restored to it's appropriate level in a heart-beat. All the commotion me and Tilde were by now making started to worry the sheep that had been calm so far, and soon they were on the move. Not very long after a genuine sheep stampede was unfolding, with sheep running further and further along the dike.

The sight of what must have been dozens of sheep running even aroused Tilde more, and she excitedly followed them, jumping the fence, frolicking, and worse, I couldn't keep up with Tilde and the sheep, slowly but surely they were moving out of sight. First one mile further, at the end of my breath, I finally found Tilde, standing in front of the fence, at a corner where the dike stopped. She was alone, the sheep most have gone behind it out of sight. I was so relieved, during my run, the headlines with "sheep killer on the loose" were already flashing through my mind.

After the incident, we avoided the area as much as possible, until today, as in the last weekend of September, the sheep are moved to their winter home. It is a great place to walk your dog, and one of Kenzo's favorite places. Behind the dike, there is a valley with a canal where they can swim, and lot of hills to play and run - and it is all fenced in. With the sheep gone, we went in with Tilde, but she hadn't forgot the sheep, and also their scent was of course still there.

I think she searched every corner of the area, investigated each sheep dropping she encountered, and looked for sheep from the top of hills. She even found some sheep fur, what looked like a a spot where some clipping was done, and she studied it intensely.

With every one of Tilde's senses on serious overtime, I never brought home a more tired dog, after such a short walk.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking After Me

We lay down in the grass and cuddle. I am glad you are back. I take a deep breath and pick up the phone, to break the news with people abroad, who expect us to come and visit.

God damnit Kenzo.

It should have been a thorn they found, maybe even a copper wire, whatever, embedded in your foot. Like they found with Viva before you.

The news I bring is not good. And the talk on the phone is going on while I caress you with one hand. You've been through a lot today, and glad to be home again, where you are safest. You are sound asleep again, in no time.

When I am finally off the phone, I only have an empty glaze left. Ten days we have to wait for the verdict, benign or malignant. Benign or malignant. Benign or malignant. Now we wait. Ten days we wait. Dear Lord. Please. Not Kenzo. Disheartened, I wonder, how many have wished that, before me?

You wake up, and move your still drugged body after the operation backwards, and make an attempt for a high five with your operated paw. Always looking after me, you are. It is not fair. Let it be my turn now.


Friday, September 19, 2014

The "Shitbag" Checklist

If you have been reading Jan's Chickenshit post, well, Tilde wasn't finished with us yet. And this time, she was caught on camera.

I was looking forward to the weekend, and also to meet Emil in person - as Jan mentioned in her post, we were spending a weekend with friends we know for quite a while from FB - I always followed Emil's story on Dina's FB page, and watched him grow from a shy and insecure puppy mill dog, into a happy and thriving Hovawart.

I hoped the dogs could find out of it together during the weekend, although there wasn't much to worry about I guessed. Kenzo connects well when treated politely, and Tilde ... well, she would probably be all over Emil with kisses and wiggles.

I was in for a surprise.

First we met our friends and Emil without Kenzo and Tilde, many of whom we would meet face to face for the very first time. It was such a thrill to meet them in real life, Dina, Jan, and Thomas. A little later, when we finished our initial greetings while out eating lunch, I picked up Kenzo and Tilde, and it was time for them to do the rounds, dogs first, people second. Kenzo and Emil did the kick-off.

Sniffing and peeing to the left and right, dog body language at work...

The final check sniff...

"Yup, that dude is cool, dad!"

We took the boys for a short walk. It was as uneventful as their first greeting. They did great. Last but not least, Emil impressed me, he did everything exactly right. Now it was Tilde's turn.

As expected. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, kiss, kiss...

Meanwhile, Tilde's bodyguard experienced some anxiety, watching his little sister meet this good looking Hovie boy, with no ability to intervene if events would unfold into the wrong direction.

"Hello! Who is looking out for my little sister?! My lead is stuck on something!"

"It seems to work out. But I better keep an eye on that blond dude myself as nobody seems to care."

"That blond dude is taking her for a walk now! This is turning into a nightmare..."

My friends later baptized Kenzo with a new nickname, "the General", due to his obsessive need to oversee and monitor not just Tilde, but all interactions and events, either canine or human. And if necessary, correct any anomalies.

And finally on return from the last walk, all three, with Dina as dog whisperer

So far so good. Everybody had meet each other and all was fine, and we went into the garden of the cottage rental to let the dogs play a little. Tilde was flirting with Emil, and everything looked alright, when suddenly, it happened.

My sweet, adorable, and affectionate Tilde, dropped her angel disguise, and turned into a Gremlin within a split-second - please do enlarge the photo by clicking on it:

The photo, although blurry, catches the moment by sheer luck. Emil's sweet character must have given her enough confidence that she could get away with bullying him without getting hurt, or get a huge no-bullying-allowed lesson in return.

Later in the evening and the next morning she persisted in her attempts. She would put up her charm and come on to Emil, with the sweetest face she could muster, wiggling all-over for some kisses, and as soon as Emil made the slightest move, the Gremlin was growling right in his face. Imagine someone offering you a cookie, and slam the lid on your fingers, if you took one. Emil was at a loss. He must have wondered how to stop the Gremlin, without getting into trouble, as for each of Tilde's growls, a dark shadow started to rise from whatever corner "the General" was resting in, and he certainly didn't want to draw his attention.

Luckily, one of the advantages of being together with other - knowledgeable - dog people, Tilde's attempts were quickly recognized and nobody freaked out about it. Instead, we could all help Emil together by stopping Tilde in her tracks, although we all couldn't resist to laugh about her, for the unruly and exuberant character she is, and the perfection with which she made her Jeckell & Hyde performance act.

Jan and Thomas, famous for labeling their Hovawarts River and Cooper on FB as "Shitbags" - due to their unruly nature and long careers of mischief, of the dogs that is - were wondering if Tilde wanted to make a shot at the title too. Tilde's counter-surfing, jumping up, mouthing, etc. further supported her dubious ambitions in that direction.

During the next day, it was Emil himself to draw the final line in the sand. We went on a long beach walk and therefore left "the General" back at the cottage because of his injury, the dogs were playful, and Emil told her this time, enough is enough. Tilde, slightly surprised with this turn of events, looked like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Her respect for Emil returned, the Gremlin was tucked away, and she learned her lesson.

With order restored, Emil and Tilde could now seal their relationship with some Hovawart beach fun. Well done, Emil !

And as for Tilde, she continued with other equally harmless endeavors instead, involving a lot of chicken feathers, which makes me wonder, if she actually keeps some kind of "Shitbag" checklist. I wouldn't be surprised if she did.


Thank you for the photos, Thomas and Jan - and for your sense of humor, Dina too.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Today I turn the blog over to Jan Wolfe about what should have been a textbook display of Tilde managing the "Leave It" command.

Note to self, never go on a weekend with a blogging friend.


It started out as a quiet Saturday afternoon walk in the woodland surrounding our rented cottage at Henne Strand – six humans and three dogs enjoying the warm September weather and each other’s company.  The dogs were sniffing in the undergrowth and reading the various scents as we would read a newspaper.  We humans were chatting about this that and the next thing and enjoying the meeting that we had looked forward to for months.  As we walked, we passed numerous cottages, each of which we admired and passed comment about, and wished that we owned or at least could live in.

All the dogs were on leads: Leo had Kenzo, who, quite frankly, didn’t want to be with anyone else, Dina had Emil, who also wanted no other, and I had Tilde whom I had fallen head over heels in love with.  She is a happy, vibrant and engaging dog, full of life and affection, and it seemed I had made a special connection with her.  All the dogs were behaving beautifully and were relaxed with us all and each other.

The tracks through the woods were many, and it would have been easy to get hopelessly lost, although I think Leo was keeping tabs on our location with his phone GPS.  Whilst walking down one track, we could see a large house further along on the left of a large open area – complete with chickens pecking around in the front garden, and pigs in the field opposite.  An idyllic picture of rural contentment!  As we got closer to the house, we came across a burial chamber of some description on the right.  I hung back wanting to have a look and to read the information board so I turned and asked Leo, who was behind me, to take Tilde whilst I went closer. 

As I was looking at the structure, an exclamation of panic erupted behind me - “F**k!!! Tilde!!!  Here! Take Kenzo!” 

As I turned, Kenzo’s lead was being thrust into my hand as Leo legged it down the track shouting “F**k! Tilde!!!” with shorts flapping and hair flying.

At the house, I could see Tilde land in among the chickens who were startled out of their gentle clucking into a panicked flapping and squawking – similar to the man who was quickly bearing down on the scene.  Tilde stopped as she looked around at the chickens – it seemed she was unsure of what to do next or which chicken to go for.  She looked like a child in a sweet shop.  I thought she might let Leo catch her.  But no!!  She had other ideas.  He was within arm’s length of catching her when she got a wicked gleam in her eye and took off again after the chickens round the lawn and down the side of the house.  Going on the amount of squawking we could hear, and the feathers that were flying, I was sure that she had caught one, and my heart sank.  Having had a “chickengate” not so long ago, I could feel exactly what Leo was going through at that moment.

Next on the scene were the owners of the house who came out to see what the commotion was – they moved with slow deliberation which, to me, translated as a serious case of “not very happy”.  Poor Leo – bad enough when your dog runs after someone’s chickens – much, much worse when the owner of the chickens appears to add to your woes.

I lost sight of Tilde, Leo and chicken-owners  at this stage, and could only see the others watching on helplessly.  But I had my own problems to deal with by now.

Kenzo had lost all signs of the calm regal character he had hitherto displayed and was leaping around on the end of the lead like a crazed jack-in-the-box.  Barking loudly, he jumped and squirmed and pulled with such a force that I momentarily wondered if I would be taking a flying leap into the chickens myself.  I think much of this was anxiety, but I suspect he also wanted a piece of the action.

It went quiet.  Oh heck, I thought, there must be a discussion about how much the chicken was worth, and how dogs should be kept under control.  Moments later, a rather sheepish looking man with recaptured dog emerged from the side of the house with the owners.  Thankfully nobody was carrying a dead chicken.

Leo was immensely apologetic to the owner, who gave it some thought what to say, and while looking around at the scattered chicken feathers, made her final comment, “Shit happens”.

Yup! Chickenshit! we must all have thought, and made it the hell out of Dodge, Tilde in front.



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