Dog trains man

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hovawart TV: Rescue Bloopers

Hovawart Kim is a rescue dog in Slovenia, and she has her own promotion film - with a wink:

Fearless, courageous, excellent smell ... and foremost, a healthy sense of humor.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Small Victories

While I work with Viva's "main" issues, like fear of dogs and sudden sounds, I don't give other, smaller issues, a lot of thought. One of those is her dislike of the water hose. I guess I don't have to control everything, so if she dislikes something as trivial as a water hose, that's fine by me. And with the bigger issues pending ... I always have a first things first attitude. And of course, my gender prevents me from multi-tasking.

It is good to know that even when you have plenty of lame excuses like I do, you can still be surprised with progress.

When we return from our daily walks, I play a little with Kenzo and the water hose, and use it to fill up a small pool Viva likes to cool her paws in. She always keeps her distance, wait until I lay down the water hose, and then rushes into the pool.

You can imagine the look on my face, when suddenly Viva showed up very close to the water hose while I was filling up her pool. All I did was stay quiet - and took out the camera:

"Oh my, this is really awfully close"

"Hmmm, it doesn't seem to do me any harm..."

"Let's do it then"

"That was not bad at all"

"I can do this!"

These small unexpected victories are the best. Just like her earlier nice behavior at the groomer's. I like to think it is because of all the work we put in, it improves her so much, that she can take the smaller battles herself. But maybe it is despite my efforts, and Viva can do it a lot better independently, without me prodding. Either way, I love it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Don Kenzote and Lady Viva

As Viva "told" us during our last visit to the island of Rømø, the Danish West-coast is one of her favorite places. With it's large and open spaces, Viva can spider the horizon for anything approaching. She likes early warning best.

When Lady Viva wants it, she gets it.

This time we touched down further north down the West-coast, on a narrow strip of land, dividing the Northsea from Ringkøbing Fjord. It has beaches and sand dunes as long as the eye can see. And although this area is more crowded in the summer, the weather in September only attracts the all-weather die-hards due to the seasonal storms and rapidly dropping temperatures of the approaching autumn. Which in short, is perfect Hovawart weather.

View Larger Map

The ocean was too rough for some actual swimming. The combination of storm and strong currents was simply too dangerous. It was not necessary though, to convince Kenzo & Viva to adopt a stay-on-all-four tactic when venturing into the roaring surf.

Kenzo, still the water rat of the couple, seemed to show the proper respect instinctively. He has experienced being rolled-over by waves before, and probably learned his lesson the hard way already.

At first it made me reluctant to play with him, afraid to throw a tennis ball too far in the surf. Kenzo's enthusiasm cured that quickly.

Throwing not so far was just as much fun. And in the chase Kenzo charged the waves and hunted the foam hovering about. Like a modern day Hovawart version of Don Quixote.

Don Kenzote.

He loves his ocean, the surf, the roaring of the winds, being in the middle of nature. Don Kenzote was in his element.

That's why we ignored the leash laws - it is required for dogs to be on lead until September 31 on all the West-coast beaches.

As I see it, not letting Don Kenzote enjoy his ocean, is downright cruel and I would have payed the fine with pleasure. If I got one. Thankfully that didn't happen.

Of course, we leashed up again when we could see any people approaching. And I must say, other dog owners did that as well, which was great for Viva, so we could pass by in a calm way - meaning a big circle.

Viva was not the least interested in getting wet, as she likes her swimming water nice and calm. And she found a new game for the occasion, to wait until Kenzo got the ball retrieved from the surf, and then steal it from him. The new big hit.

A few toe dips in the shallows was just fine for the Lady. Not that she could keep it very dry, the weather conditions made sure plenty of water came down from the sky. And when we ended up in a hail storm, we were literally washed off the beach.

I asked for Hovawart weather when we left home: "Let it rain! Let it storm!". We were not disappointed.

Today is our last day before we return to Copenhagen. Not only for the dogs, also for us humans there were a lot of things to see and do, like small fishing villages with nice restaurants, together with a lot of history - the remnants of the Atlantic Wall, the many shipwrecks, museums - and art inspired by the elements. I am sure we keep coming back for more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pet Friendly Travel Outcasts

There were plenty of dogs in the main walking street of the small fishing town "Hvide Sande" (white sands). The majority of them were German tourists traveling with their pooches, doing some shopping, having lunch or just strolling casually. Pedestrian traffic sometimes came to a sudden halt in a web of flexi-leashes, with dog owners admiring the shop windows at one end and their dogs meeting at the other end.

Two German couples came around the corner, one of them with two dogs. A Great Dane and a St. Bernhard. The dogs immediately reacted to the sight of all those canines in the street. The woman holding their leashes wanted to retreat, but the other couple - their dog remained calm - seemed to insist, pointing at a place further down the road. They continued down the street.

The dogs became more distressed. They started to prance and barked at any dog that came into their sights. A feisty Beagle was the first to respond with a counter bark, and soon other dogs joined in. The woman - using all her force to restrain those two huge dogs - stumbled into the first side street she could find, accompanied by an orchestra of barking dogs, rolling eyes and cold shoulder turns.

In the side street she found a parked car which she used as a cover for the dogs passing by. When some would venture into the side street she was in, she hovered around the car, making sure it was always in between her dogs and the ones that were approaching.

She send her husband back to convince the other couple to leave, and he commuted back and forth with messages for a while. It took a while to convince the other couple, but they finally came over and left the area together. The woman was relieved, and when our eyes met we exchanged a little nod and a smile. From one pet friendly travel outcast to another.

That day I left Kenzo & Viva back at the house we rented, having already learned my outcast lesson. I only take Viva to places where we can avoid other dogs. And in the middle of the day, between hikes, we leave them for a little nap, while we do some sightseeing, and maybe eat a little lunch. I really hope the German couple will also find a routine like this, and that they continue to travel with their dogs. They just need to find a way that works for them.

We outcasts can travel too, and all we need is some additional planning and give it some extra thought. Find out what we can enjoy as a team and what not. And the end result is rewarding for us all, as Amy Burket wrote so eloquently in "Pet Travel: Dogs With Issues", a post written to my heart.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Leave Me Alone

Sometimes, not often, Viva puts up her "leave me alone" face. Maybe it was the hot temperatures during that particular day. Or maybe she just had a bad hair day.

It is difficult for me to leave it with that. A Facebook friend wrote, after seeing the photo: "She looks as though she knows a thing or two - I have read about her on your blog. Glad she has found her home. Dogs come to us for a reason - often to teach us something we didn't realise we need to learn... The eyes are the mirror of the soul - one of my favourite sayings."

Viva does know a thing or two and according to Stanley Coren, it is possible dogs do have a memory of things that happened in the past. And if eyes really are the mirror of the soul, it is not looking good in Viva's case. Was she dwelling in the past during these "leave me alone" moments? We will probably never know.

Whatever it is, Kenzo picks it up too. Viva means the world to Kenzo. He always looks after her and protects her. I saw him change after we took Viva in, now 3 years ago. Taking care of his big sister has become his number one priority. And when Viva has a "leave me alone" mood swing, Kenzo always charms her back to her happy self:

Kenzo making himself cute ... Viva ignores his attempts
Getting closer ... ignoring becomes difficult for Viva
Viva lunges ... "get away!"
Now Viva is standing up, maybe a play-bow?
Teasing by stealing her favorite squeaky toy?
That worked! Viva is playing.

I am investing a lot of time and effort in Viva's well-being, but I am not on top of the pyramid, with the responsibility to make everybody happy, healthy and fulfilled. Certain things I cannot fix or understand. Taking care of each other is team work. We all need each other, to be the best we can be.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hovawart TV: Blonds Have More Jump

Diamond is a blond Hovie with a slight energy surplus:

Red Bull gives you wings?

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