Dog trains man

Monday, December 31, 2012

What You Liked Best About Kenzo In 2012


On this last day of the year we want to celebrate some of the posts you liked best on this blog during the year.

Thank you for stopping by Kenzo and Viva's blog in 2012 and making us laugh, think and feel supported by all the encouraging comments you left behind.

We hope you keep coming back in the new year.

The posts you selected as the best by reading, sharing, and commenting the most, are - ordered by popularity:

1. Pet Friendly Travel Outcasts. Based on our encounter with a fellow outcast, and why us outcasts should enjoy traveling with our fearful dog too.

2. Victims of a Hovawart Puppy Mill. This horrible Hovawart puppy mill is still in business. Some of the victims tell about their experiences. 

3. Why the Hovawart Must Never Become Popular. Popularity comes with a high prize, and I wonder if it is not best for our Hovies, to remain hidden in obscurity.

4. Open letter to Mette Gjerskov. The letter I wrote to the Danish Minister of Agriculture and Animal Welfare. I got a response the discriminatory breed laws will be looked upon, but nothing like that has happened yet.

5. The Forgotten Hovawarts. A dive into the breed history of the Hovawart. I particularly like this one to be among the ones you liked the best, it is a subject I find fascinating.

6. Wizards Kelsey and Nolan, and their Hovawart, Ethanah. Written by Hovawart newbies Kelsey & Nolan, and an awesome kick-off for the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry series.

7. There Is a Time to Think and a Time to Act. Sharing Kenzo's temperament test and trying to understand him a little better, is probably also what I like to do best.

8. The Cat Behind The Dog Blog. How the legacy of a cat sparked the birth of Kenzo's, and now also Viva's, blog about dogs.

9. The Fearful Dog Therapist Strikes Again. One of those zen moments with Kenzo and how he interacts with other dogs.

10. A Week Under The Wings of a Guardian Angel. This is my personal favorite. Getting to learn Kenzo better - even after 5 years - and a milestone for how our bond has grown.

That's it, are some of your favorites among the ones on the list? Have a Happy New Hovie Year!
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hovawart TV: Hovie Fairy Tale

Winter, puppies, Hovawarts. Pinch me, is this heaven?




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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Tree Confession

It was a while ago since Kenzo joined me at work in our Danish office. As I had no appointments that day, and only boring paper work to look forward to, I imagined it would be a perfect opportunity to bring Kenzo with me once again. We could take some breaks playing in the snow and add some fun to a day that otherwise had a very pale outlook.

The reception area of the office building was ornamented with a Christmas tree, positioned right by the entrance door in an attempt to add some seasonal inspiration to the armies of office workers passing through each day.

While wrestling with two computer bags over my shoulders and Kenzo's leash in one hand, I opened the front door. Two people approached, and in an empathic moment, I stood still and kept the door open for them, while we exchanged good morning hello's with a smile. Love that about Denmark, where people are so polite, and you even greet complete strangers in the mornings and afternoons. It gives such a good start of the day.

Continuing into the hall, the leash suddenly tensed. I looked back in surprise, as Kenzo usually just follows me, and what I saw next made my heart skip a beat. Kenzo stood by the Christmas tree, with one leg lifted, his sprinkler system already in the "on" position. I jerked the leash in some kind of automatic emergency response my brain fired into my right arm - sorry Kenzo - to interrupt the image that now is imprinted in my memory forever.

Nobody else was in the entrance hall, which softened the total embarrassment of the moment a little. I quickly dropped off Kenzo in our office and returned with some cleaning agents. My mind was working overtime. He never did that before. It was so easy to teach him as a pup that a Christmas tree in the house doesn't mean he just acquired an inside potty service. I was baffled.

When we went for our first walk, I kept Kenzo on my side that was opposite to the Christmas tree just in case. I knew that for a dog, no cleaning agent in the world could have covered up the odor, and it would have been a magnet to Kenzo despite my cleaning attempts. Two men were standing beside the Christmas tree, looking at two small puddles. That can't be, I thought, I just cleaned it.

"Some bastard just let his dog pee on the tree", one of the men said. "Really?", I replied cowardly, realizing that other office dogs had of course picked up the smell, and every male dog now passing by the tree, went on a mission to drop off their own business card. "You couldn't do that, could you?" the man said smiling to Kenzo. "Eh ... no ... nee", I stuttered. I felt a glow rushing up to my cheeks, something I hadn't felt since high-school. I am such a bad liar.

The man, still looking at Kenzo, concluded, "You are a good boy". We really had to move on now, as this was becoming too embarrassing, but that meant making a risky pass of the Christmas tree. This time with a full bladder. And the men would also see the letters G.U.I.L.T.Y. that someone must have painted on my back in the meanwhile. Taking a deep breath, a leap of faith, and three steps later, we made it passed the tree. Kenzo The Merciful didn't punish my dishonesty. "You are, you absolutely are, a good boy", I whispered to my partner in crime.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wizards Marc and Cheryl, and their Hovawart, Kaspar

I am very excited to introduce you to some very exotic Hovawart Wizards, Marc and Cheryl!

I first met them through Facebook as they stood out from the "usual" Hovawart crowd, because of the place they live: Bangkok, Thailand. Truly a Hovawart family in paradise.

Thank you for participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Hovawart Wizards: We are Marc and Cheryl, and live with our three boys, Andrew, Jonathan and Matt, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Hovawart: Kaspar is our Hovawart, and luckily for Kaspar our family lives just outside Bangkok in an area where there is plenty of space for him to run free. There are birds to chase, other dogs to play with and various sized monitor lizards from 2 feet to 8 feet! It is very hot in Bangok, but Kaspar finds cool places in the crosswind, and can usually be found in any air conditioned room. Kaspar was born in May 2009 and is an unneutered male.

Marc spends lots of time through his job visiting farms around the world. While in Germany a few times, he came across farms with Hovawarts and really liked these dogs. he mentioned this to one of his German colleagues and due to German efficiency, the next thing we knew Kaspar was in Frankfurt waiting for his flight to Bangkok. He arrived when he was 5 months old. He is now 35kg and very active.

Kaspar is an excellent family dog. He likes being around us. Although he is quite big, he is very quiet. He only barks if someone is at the front gate or walking too close to the front gate. We have a swimming pool but he prefers the dirty canal and has only jumped into the pool once. Sometimes he will sit on the step at the edge of the pool so only his feet are wet.

He likes to wrestle with Marc and loves being brushed and tickled by Andrew. Although Kaspar is rarely leashed, he keeps close to us during his walks and will generally listen to our calls to heel. We notice that as Kaspar gets older he is more interested in being with us and less interested in chasing other animals around.

Kaspar has been on holiday with us to the beach. We enjoy having him with us, but it is a challenge because there are many stray dogs in Thailand, and the culture of having pets inside is not present. However we have found some hotels that allow us to have him with us. At the beach Kaspar likes to sit at the edge of the water. He finds spots under shady trees and most of all he likes being with us. 

If we go away and leave Kaspar with someone he does not know, he will not eat until we get back.  Recently we went on a trip to a national park and only realized once we got there that a new regulation meant no pets were allowed in the national park (which was an island about 2 hours away by speedboat).  We had to leave Kaspar on the mainland with someone he did not know at all. The carer told us that on the first day when she took him for his walk, he broke free and found a spot near our car. He did not move for 2 days, did not drink water or eat any food.  At the other end we were also worried and cut our island holiday short so we could retrieve him.

That was an eventful holiday – we drove down the road to Phuket (about 3 hours) and the next day we were on the top of the mountain waiting out the tsunami warning. Kaspar met another Hovawart at the top of that mountain. He was a black dog about 10 years old. His owner was a German long-time resident of Phuket.  We heard that during the Tsunami recovery in 1996, Hovawarts were flown in to find people in the debris. I would really like to know if somebody reading this could confirm if that was the case?

We like Kaspar because he is intelligent, loyal and protective. He treats each member of the family different, based on their age. We figure that on his list we rank in this order: Marc, Cheryl, Andrew because he spends lots of time with Kaspar, Sita (our maid) because she looks after him a lot, then Matthew the littlest and Jonathan.  Marc encourages Kaspar to jump up and kiss up, but Kaspar never jumps up on little Matt and is always calm and gentle with him.

Kaspar's daily routine looks like this: he wakes up around 5am and goes for a 5 - 7 km run with Cheryl. It is cooler in the early morning while it is still dark. On his run Kaspar greets his other friends, sometimes has a play and is home about 40 minutes later. He runs free without a leash because the compound is enclosed and there is not very much traffic. There are many fields and little canals that he gambols through. The rest of the day is meant for relaxation.

Kaspar eats some breakfast (dry dog food) and then spends most of his day sitting near Cheryl (or in any aircon room if available!) or catching the crosswind by the front door. He gets another walk in the mid afternoon after 3:00. The children come home from school starting at 3:30 and Kaspar is there for a jump, pat and a lick. Kaspar has dinner after the family at 6:30 pm. For dinner he has meat with carrots, greens and rice specially prepared for him. Between 7 and 9 he goes for his last walk of the day. Our house has quite a big garden, so he is free to roam around during the day. Sometimes if he is eager to see his friend he will jump over the back wall (only about 2 feet) and sneak out. But he is soon back and waits patiently for someone to open the front gate.

***

Hovawart Wizards, like Marc and Cheryl, try to provide real life information for Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic - to learn more about Hovawarts in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Hovawart TV: Sand Paintings

This Hovawart can draw sand paintings, zig zag style:






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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wizard Deanne and her Mystery Hovawart, Gus

I am very excited to introduce you to our Hovawart Wizard, Deanne!

Deanne is actually not sure Gus is a Hovawart. He is a Mystery Hovawart. You'll have to decide for yourself. He sure looks like a Hovawart to me.

Thank you for participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Hovawart Wizard: I'm Deanna in Port Townsend Washington. I'm a nurse in a small community hospital.

Hovawart: Gus is my Hovawart, although I actually don't know his breed but he sure has the look of a Hovawart. Gus is about 1.5 years old. I chose St Valentine's day as his birthday because he is a sweetheart.

I found Gus abandoned on the road in new mexico at about 6 weeks old. I took his picture when I felt he would make it. He was pretty dehydrated when I found him and the vet thought he had distemper.

Gus has a grouchy older sister, a Catahoula cross named Zoe and 2 new kitten friends, Halvor and Magnus. Gus lets Magnus "nurse" on him, and he and the kittens sleep together most nights.

Our first year was rough. Gus was not well behaved and I was at a loss as to what to do. We met a bouncy Newfie pup at the dog park and his owner got us in touch with a trainer, Tim Reiber, who has made a huge difference in our lives. We are taking advanced obedience classes, possibly trying for BH and schutzhund in the future. We have started tracking as well.

Our days always have a long walk/run in them, some obedience work and maybe a practice track. We live near both the beach and the dog park so we usually go one or the other several times in the week. Zoe is 14 and not so much fun to play with- from Gus' perspective. The kittens are fearless and he plays very nicely with them, most of the time.

I love Gus' big brown eyes. His playful yet gentle nature. I doubt that he really has any Hovawart in him, but he sure looks like one and his personality and nature certainly fit everything I've been learning about Hovawarts since I found out about the breed.

Gus is friendly to other dogs, gentle with puppies and likes to roughhouse with other big dogs. He is often very shy with new people and does not readily allow strangers to pet him. He will often put himself in front of me when another dog approaches.

My best advice: train. These dogs are so smart but also willful.

***

Hovawart Wizards, like Deanne, try to provide real life information for Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic - to learn more about Hovawarts in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect.
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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.


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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Week Under The Wings of a Guardian Angel

Soon after our Norway trip we unexpectedly found ourselves traveling to Holland and Germany again.

On such short notice we could only rent a tiny cabin in a very busy park with a lot of off-leash dogs. A perfect scenario to totally freak-out Viva, and I didn't want to find myself in a situation where I had to have her locked up in a car and a cabin for a week or more.

Unable to arrange something that would accommodate Viva's reactive needs, only me and Kenzo therefore left for the trip.

I thought that some serious one-on-one time would be excellent, and Kenzo would enjoy my undivided attention. At least in the evenings, during day time he would come with me to the office. Of course, that was not how events unfolded.

When we arrived at the busy park, the tiny cabins were almost build up against each other. Luckily we had the last one in a row giving us a forest view on the rear of the cabin. Our direct neighbor had two dogs that barked continuously. The paths between the cabins, campers and trailers were a myriad of excited kids and the occasional off leash dog - not allowed but nobody seemed to care about that.

Keeping an eye on the path at all times
Normally Kenzo would have marked the cabin as his territory and barked at anything approaching that I could have missed. In stead, he looked curious at his surroundings, kept a good eye on the two barkers next door - which even barked more because of that. In the late afternoon we went on a trip to the beach. While navigating through the park, dodging kid's toys and passing lunging dogs behind fences I was proud of Kenzo. He was on his best behavior, and ignored all the disturbances.

He bullied a couple of off-leash, "in your face", adolescent male dogs, that made a rude attempt for a greet, accompanied by the obligatory "my dog is friendly !" from an owner somewhere. Apart from these instant lessons in dog etiquette, he kept stiff on my side and ignored all the park could throw at him. How differently would it have turned out, I thought, if Viva would have been with us.

When we made it to the beach I started to worry. It seemed he didn't want to play fetch or swim. Which is very odd as he usually goes ballistic when we are on a beach. This time, he didn't seem to seek his high. When I sad down on the beach to look at some kite surfers and waiting for the sun to set, Kenzo laid down as well - picture on top - and kept his place. Again unusual. He didn't seemed depressed, or sick for that matter, at all.

I was puzzled. We done this before. He can handle new places. We just returned from Norway, where he seemed to find so much pleasure in exploring his new environment. Continuing our beach walk, while trying some fetch again, I noticed he did play when the ball was within approximately 5 meters from me. Any longer and I could get it myself. I went for a swim. Kenzo followed.

So those were the new rules. Kenzo, recognizing that the family not being with us was odd, decided to keep me under his wings. Keep an eye out, not to leave my side whatever the temptation, and make sure I was safe. He appointed himself as my guardian angel for the week. And he would keep on doing that until we got home again. Nothing I could do about it. When Kenzo decides - like a Hovawart -, he takes his own decisions in situations like this and is determinant as well. The Born Protector.

Stranded in Germany
Fate was not finished with Kenzo and me. Driving back home after a week in Holland, we stranded with car trouble in Germany - so much for the new Hovie Cruiser but that is another story.

Suddenly my newly self-appointed guardian angel was driving on my lap in a tow-truck with a strange driver next to us. Found himself in a car repair shop with loud noises, visited busy hotel lobbies and stayed in a hotel room with lots of sudden sounds on the hallway and adjacent rooms. Kenzo just got very busy.

I helped him as much as I could, "It's Ok", "Nice person coming". And when he is alert and vigilant, I better make sure to tell him that, or an unavoidable arrest would be carried out - fast and accurate.

So far, Kenzo hadn't barked the whole week. That's a first. Neither did he make an arrest. The "It's Ok" kept him re-assured we had everything under control. But it meant I had to be as alert and vigilant as Kenzo at all times. And that my friends, is wishful thinking.

I crashed together with Kenzo on the outside restaurant of the hotel. A nice couple came in and sat down on the table next to us. They had a Dachshund that barked a couple of times. We don't know of what. Kenzo remained balanced, sniffed a little from a distance, and ignored the Dachshund. We were having a conversation in German and I was so excited with this opportunity to brush off my German I got carried away.

The thing is, for Kenzo a waiter has always been a little like a mailman. They come straight at us, he barks, and they go away. At least he thinks. Who can resist such a reinforcer? I knew that of course, so the first times the waiter came at us, "It's Ok" had the expected effect. After a couple of times he accepted the waiter. Talking with the couple, I let my guard down. Kenzo barked, and came forward about 1 meter, although I had him leashed. The volume of the Hovawart bark silenced the whole restaurant and I noticed from the corner of my eye, another waitress with my appetizer's was standing behind me, now shaking and looking very worried. Kenzo seemed to have a proud smear on his face like he was saying: "There is one you missed dad!".

Doing my best impression of a responsible owner, I took Kenzo to our room and returned to the restaurant without him. Made a couple of jokes to the persons with the most worried faces, to diffuse the situation, and made an apology to the waitress - plus she got a huge tip, that instantly returned a big smile for the rest of the evening. The waitress took it good, "He takes good care of you". She was spot on, and described my week in a nutshell.

That was the only time he barked that week. Still amazingly well done. Especially for a Kenzo on high alert. For me it was a whole new experience to see Kenzo so focused on his task. It is kinda nice as well, to be appointed the center of the universe, by your dog. Albeit for a week. We closed the week off with a reunion coming home. It was heart-warming to see how Kenzo and Viva greeted each other with excited squeals and ear-nibbles, and first when they were done, they said hello to my wife and me.

I wonder how that would have made Kenzo feel of himself. Not wanting to give him human feelings and reasoning, I do think he must have been pretty proud of himself. Bringing dad home and reuniting the family. The first thing we did, was play some fetch, and indeed, the 5 meter barrier was broken.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kenzo & Viva On Walkabout

We've been Walkabout. That means, according to the alternative - of the alternative - definition: "a short period of wandering bush life engaged in by an Australian Aborigine Hovawart as an occasional interruption of regular work".

Our first adventure together. A long way up, all the way above the tree-line, on the tundra of the "Hallingskarvet" National Park in Norway - this link has a 360o panoramic view of the "Hallingskarvet" area.

From the tundra, seeing those white patches of snow on the moutain ridges, it was hard to resist knowing Kenzo's birthday was coming up, to get even higher and get a taste of winter wonderland. After all, we are on a Hovawart Walkabout and it was Mr. K's B-day.

So we did. And in the midst of summer, Kenzo re-united with his best-friend-forever. They cuddled and hugged like there was no tomorrow.

Trying to reassure him this was what they called eternal snow so he shouldn't worry it to melt any time soon, possibly only made it worse. Kenzo was not leaving.

I think it was only the thought of missing out on actually swimming in water that was not frozen, that lured Kenzo down towards the valley with us again.

Crossing those wide plains with sights that seemed to never end, I couldn't have wished for better partners. Although I was equipped with a map and a compass, as a regular human with a goal, Kenzo & Viva showed me it was much easier to just let go and follow their lead.

They were home. They tracked the trails. They spidered for prey and what was alive around us. They found the fresh water creeks where we could enjoy a break. The masters of the walkabout. I would only need the map and compass to find our way back to the cabin - glad to have at least some of the responsibility delegated back to me again.

They didn't found a lot of obstacles on their way. Where I needed help of improvised bridges to cross the wildest of waters, they just swam across.

Kenzo surprised me even more when he guided the way through a rocky river bed, jumping from stone to stone. Was this the same dog for which the obstacle course in our tracking class was his weak spot?

I wondered if I had created Walkabout monsters? Would it ever be possible to return to the dullness of living under a roof again?

They balanced those two life-styles very well. Every day, like real Sofawarts, they crashed on the sofa of our rented cabin. Renewing their energy for the new day to come.

We had a tent with us, but I think it was good for us to rent a cabin where we could spent the night, so we they could relax and regain energy.

Viva did so well. She never got issues with the spondylosis in her back, and she could keep up with our pace easily.

I kept Viva on a 3 meter leash at all times - dogs must be leashed in Norway during summer anyway - to prevent her from running or jumping. She did excellent. Nothing could keep her down and she walked for miles and as long as there were hours in a day.

I just made one terrible mistake that will always be remembered and never forgiven. Soon after we came home they got a good ... bath.

Not the ending they expected. A whole week of rolling in fox-poo and other fine odors, going literally down the drain. Thanks dad. We demand another Walkabout.
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Hovawart TV: Obedience Is Fun

Hovawart Maya showcases that obedience can be fun, and all you need is a toy or two:





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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The King is dead. Long live the King

Today is a day of mixed feelings. One of my favorite dog blogs, Will My Dog Hate Me, with Wonderdog Frankie and his muse Edie Jarolim, is closing shop.

I am horrible at saying good-byes, so I am glad I don't have to, as Edie is starting up a new blog. Freud's Butcher, where Edie will take us on a journey through her family roots, going back to the days in Vienna where her great-granduncle was Freud's Butcher.

And I am sure we will not miss out on hearing how Frankie is doing. There is still Facebook. But I am going to miss being challenged, questioned and enriched by Edie's and Frankie's regular contributions to the pet community. Always providing a different angle, another view, and more than I care to admit, changing my opinions.

Whatever the subject, it was always brought with a smile. I never left without a laugh. And what I learned on Will My Dog Hate Me, got me off my butt too. Like traveling more safe, and applying BAT to get Viva more social with other dogs.

Wishing Edie the best of luck on her new voyage. May it bring all that you expect and more. We are looking forward to your new blog and book, and already know it is going to be just as exciting, if not more, to follow you along this new road. The King is dead. Long live the King.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Hovawart TV: Baywatch

They look good and they can save lives. Take that Pamela Anderson:



These Hovawarts make their Newfoundland ancestors proud. All 12% of them to be exact.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

How To Rescue a Dog by Play

Just. Click. Play.

You don't have to watch, just press play.

I'll explain after the video.



I know you have seen videos like this before. I know you hate to look at it again. You don't have to watch it. I only need you to press play.

You pressed play! Thank you!

Now I can explain. The video reveals more than 160 puppy mills and puppy trafficker operations in Belgium. One of the smaller countries in Europe about the size of New York. The thing is that Belgium TV networks refused to air this very well-researched documentary. The rescue group behind the video, Animal Trust, decided to go viral.

If they would score a high number of "views", the rescue group can use those numbers to convince the Belgium TV networks to air it. If the quality of the documentary won't help, maybe viewer ratings will. No network refuses good viewer ratings.

That's why you pressing "play" in this case is so important.

People must know. People that don't read blogs like this one. Normal Belgium's that see television and don't know this is going on in their country. They have a right to know. First when they know, change can start. Because they are the next generation of puppy buyers.

You probably also thought that Europe was far ahead in solving the issue with puppy mills and puppy trafficking. Like a lot of Europeans actually also think. The reality is unfortunately the opposite. And it is not only Belgium, it is a lot more expanded than that. If you would like to know more how Europe is really doing, read our guest blog over at Cindy Lu's Muse about puppy mills in Europe: Wake-Up Call For Western Europe.

Today bloggers around the world unite for dog rescue and the rights of dogs. Visit the organizers Blog Catalog, Dog Rescue Success or Be The Change For Animals for more. Keep on reading and sharing!

You are not cheating me right? Please go back and press play. Alright then, I beg you. Officially.

Update July 26:
For bloggers that would like to help getting the word out, I made a small video widget that you can show in your blog's sidebar. An example of it is on the top-right of this blog. The widget contains the video, and a link to this page explaining the background of why it is important. To get it, grab the code below the widget, and copy/paste it as HTML on your blog's sidebar.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Hovawart TV: Run Keiler Run

Imagine a 9 year old Hovawart. A former puppy mill dog. A retired therapy dog. Have an artificial hip due to hip dysplasia (HD). In short, a Hovawart like Keiler. And Keiler still loves a run with dad for charity. Now that is priceless ... although sometimes priceless can be expensive too, which is entirely not Keiler's fault:



Visit Keiler's dad's blog here for more about how the video came about: "World Run Day Mastercard Spoof".


P.S: We are guest blogging today over at Cindy Lu's Muse about puppy mills in Europe: Wake-Up Call For Western Europe
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hovawart Travel Upgrade: We're Cruisin' !

Bye bye Hovie mobile, and welcome Hovi Cruiser! Kenzo & Viva are the happy new owners of a genuine Hovi Cruiser. Finally they have some wheels that match their size and all their travel needs.

We did quite some remodeling with the former Hovi mobile, but knew it was only temporarily. We needed something else to really travel comfy and safe.

First and foremost we needed more space. And something that could bring us to exciting off-road tracking places despite weather and terrain. Also something that could keep those big bodies cool at all times, while they are patiently awaiting arrival in the rear.

The best of the old from the former Hovi mobile and our wish list have now all come together in the new - used - Hovi Cruiser. As you can see above, plenty of space to turn and especially above their heads there is enough room. No more bumping into the roof. They have their own windows that can also be opened. Nothing like some fresh air while you're cruisin'.

They love a flow of fresh air. Especially Viva. And so do we. Farewell odor of two dogs that have just returned from a walk with ample opportunity for a swim and rolling around in fox poo. 

And if it would get really hot, they also got their own AC. It can be regulated separately from the rest of the climate in the Cruiser. Keeping them cool is now guaranteed.

You might wonder why we would need this in cold Scandinavia? True, 99 times out of a 100 we don't. But there was that one time where I freaked out when we got stuck in a traffic jam on a very hot day. And no matter how much I turned the AC down, the rear of the car was still like an oven. You could simply feel the hot air coming in from their two damping bodies.

I did some really stupid and dangerous things to get us out of there. And driving safe, also means having a calm driver. Now that they have their own AC in place, I can keep the temperature, as well as my temper, at the desired level.

We also have all the features from before in the Hovi mobile: A steel safety grill, a steel compartment divider - not in the picture - , rear windows from tainted glass, a load compartment mat in plastic, etc. Maybe you noticed that our doors are missing? They were too small! Thankfully we found a place that can custom build it for our Cruiser and the doors will soon be re-introduced.

On the picture you'll see all the stuff we stripped out of the old Hovi mobile. We did travel good and safe in it and we will miss it. So do we have nothing more to wish for?

Well, how it usually goes with these things, there is always something left to wish for. First of all, after this disappointing news not all seat belts can be trusted, we are on the lookout for some that are up to the task.

The Hovi Cruiser also has a higher step and seeing Viva jump in and out, it would be better if we could get a ramp for her ... so I am afraid it kinda seems our travel posts are a never-ending story. But in the meantime, we're cruisin'!
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bloggers Join Together To Campaign For Dog Rescue

Viva in the local shelter
It is hard to imagine that Viva once was unwanted and not loved. She was returned to a shelter, not once, but twice in her short life. Now she is living with us, and we find it hard to imagine how life would be without Viva. And how much we would have missed out on, if we hadn't found her.

There are many more dogs like Viva. To help, more then 10,000 bloggers around the world join forces on July 23, to raise awareness for dog rescue and the rights of dogs.

Please join this global event if you have a blog. Or share blogs you read on that day about dog rescue on your Twitter streams, Facebook timelines, etc.

On July 23 this blog will raise the case for dogs in Europe. Many in Europe see the rescue shows on Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel and others and think puppy mills and abuse of dogs is mainly an American problem. But if you look a little harder, you will see the issues in Europe are very much alike. Stay tuned.

For more information about the event and how to join, visit Blog Catalog, Dog Rescue Success or Be The Change For Animals.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Hovawart TV: Guarding Dutiezzz

It can be tough to be on guard duty. Even for a Hovawart:



There goes a rep as ultimate watch dog out of the window.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Feet Please

The happy feet syndrome is revisiting casa del Kenzo & Viva lately. This time it is Kenzo's turn.

As you can see on the photo to the left, Kenzo has something embedded in his paw that became infected. Antibiotics have by now cleared the infection and hopefully his body has "processed" the culprit.

The vet doesn't want to operate when they cannot see a clear entry point for whatever caused this. She needs an indication where to look. A paw with it's myriad of nerves and muscles, is a risky place to start a search.

Viva had something similar last year - see photo on the right. In her case the infection returned after a while and the only option left was to open up the paw and see if the nasty bugger causing all this could be found. Luckily the vet found a tiny little thorn - see photo at the bottom - and Viva has been good ever since.

Lets hope for Kenzo he doesn't go down the same road. On top of his injury, he also made havoc with his other paw. A nail seemed to have died off and a new one was growing inside the dead one, which was very painful for him.

We checked both paws when we were at the vets for the infected paw, so it is a mystery how that could have happened. The theory is his nail got punctured by something sharp. Most of the nail had to be surgically removed. There is just a small stump of nail left now.

It turns out to be quite a challenge for us to keep happy feet. We spend a lot of time outdoors: hiking in forests, long nature walks, and doing tracking nose work. When we return I always check them for ticks and feel their paws for thorns and other injuries. Yet something always seem to sneak through the thorn patrol.

What do you do to prevent paw injuries? Is there something we could do differently? Or are we just being unlucky?

We found some doggy foot wear too. Is that overdoing it? Would that be too protective?

For now I think we are going to be a lot more thorough inspecting their paws on return from the walks. Not only feel if there is something out of the ordinary, but also give them a visual inspection, as much as that is possible with all the fur.
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Friday, July 6, 2012

Hovawart TV: Scratch Me Up

Welcome to the kick-off of Hovawart TV, a new series on this blog with videos featuring Hovawarts! I couldn't think of a better way to start this new series than with a Hovawart's best friend. A cat with an attitude:



When you dare to play with a Hovawart like this, it must be comforting to know you have 9 lives.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nature Calling Runaway Viva

Viva ran away from home. Don't worry, she is already back. We found her just around the corner of the street that leads to our house. On the picture to the left you'll see how it is possible she could escape.

The small fence into the back garden, absolutely not high enough to stop a Hovawart. As you see, I am guilty of something that would suit any irresponsible owner very well.

Yes, I trained them not to pass that fence. Yes, they did listen ... for a while at least in Viva's case. Yes, I did keep an eye out ... at least other than the moment she actually escaped. Yes, she got ample walks ... in which I didn't let her meet ... male dogs - I'll come back to that male dog dimension.

So let's face it, I was just being a fool here: the fence is just not high enough and I have to fix it.

The "Love is in the Air" days
Wondering why Viva would escape I kept an extra eye out while working on the fence and it soon became clear, why she would ignore all she learned about that fence.

Viva is in season again. She teases Kenzo for a while, but after his neutering, the romantic days from before are over. He does make a harmless attempt, but quickly gives up. Viva then rushes to the fence, as if she thinks: "well, let's see who's out there then?".

Where before Kenzo was the big magnet - Viva would do anything to come closer to Kenzo - their magnetic poles now seem to have switched to the opposite effect during the time Viva is in season.
Flowers and Bees.... yes, I DO remember ... something
Kenzo's attempts of luvin' are cute. Viva is still his girl. He just doesn't go bezerk anymore like before his neutering. He seems to remember the flowers and the bees, but forgot what all the fuzz exactly was about.

Viva clearly is not pleased. When nature is calling, what can you do?
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Victims of a Hovawart Puppy Mill

This is Bamira. A young female Hovawart puppy from Poland. The future of Bamira looks pale. Will she churn out the next generations of profit for a puppy mill?

On the picture she is on her way to the notorious Danish Hovawart puppy mill known as "Hof-joy", "Hovawart-puppies.com" or just "Hovawart.dk".

Bamira was led to believe she would leave Poland and her family to join a loving Hovawart family in Denmark. But instead, she finds herself in the worst place possible a Hovawart in Denmark can be. A place where many Hovawarts have suffered before her and from where their misery is exported all over the world.

The Danish contact - let's call her "Jen" - that was involved in getting Bamira from Polen to Denmark was mislead. Now that she knows the truth behind Bamira's new "home", she tries everything in her power to get Bamira back. But Bamira has no rights. The law is not on her side, and sees her as a product with a buyer agreement. The outcome is not yet clear.

Together with the Hovawart male, the puppy mill acquired last year - also under false pretenses -, it is again an indication this puppy mill is making steps to come back in business. Business went bad, as many puppies died in the first weeks after arriving at their families and resulted in a lot of bad publicity. But even then, they have been selling. Also after they lost their membership of the Danish Kennel Club and the Danish Hovawart Club, as was confirmed by two people that bought Hovawarts with them during that period. They would like to stay anonymous so I will call them "Jenna" and "Jen", who we already introduced.

Jenna is from the US and did all she could to verify the "breeder". She asked a lot of questions concerning her upcoming dog and the parents. She also checked references. Jenna wanted to show her Hovawart and maybe breed so she needed FCI papers. But when the puppy arrived at the airport there were no papers. All her queries went unanswered, and she never received the papers.

What Jenna didn't know was that the "breeder" was ousted by the Kennel Club the year before, so FCI papers was a promise they couldn't deliver. Luckily, Jenna's Hovawart is besides an allergy problem healthy. Of course he is loved, and he is a part of the family now, although the future turned out differently then expected.

Jen from Denmark has a similar story. Unfortunately her Hovawart has mental issues, and she is getting help from good people from the Danish Hovawart Club to re-socialize him and build his confidence. And even worse is that Jen also was tricked in getting Bamira to Denmark by the owners of the puppy mill. You can understand how guilt feelings plague her, when Jen found out the place is actually a puppy mill.

Both Jen and Jenna want their stories told as a warning for future puppy buyers to avoid this "breeder". It also shows how buying a puppy overseas without actually meeting up face to face and getting access to local information is almost impossible. Phone, mail, internet and Facebook is their first and best weapon. The same goes for a breeder like Bamira's. Selling overseas is like giving up your pup, if you do not have a network in that country.Or do not chose to use it.

There are a lot of victims in this story. Bamira. Jenna and Jen. All for the profit of few.

***

Update January 16, 2013:
I had to rectify the original story where I wrote that the Polish breeder and the Polish contact were involved in trying to get Bamira out of the puppy mill. This is not the case. They have not taken any action whatsoever. The only person who is trying to get Bamira out, is "Jen", supported in her efforts of many Hovawart friends. Thanks to my Polish readers for bringing this to my attention.

***

For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How Long Must We Sing This Song

Today was Bloody Tuesday.

Princess was executed in our local shelter in Copenhagen. Princess was rescued by authorities because she was abused by her owner. Doing the paperwork, rescuers were honest about Princess belonging to a banned breed. And Princess was killed today for that. By her rescuers. And they are devastated.

In Belfast, poor Lennox received his final death-sentence after 2 years of isolation. His family was denied a last visit by the judge.

Our animal cruelty really has no limits. Towards the animals, but also towards the people we appoint as their henchman and the friends they leave behind. This is the law apparently, but where is the justice?

It is so overwhelming. I can not reason, neither can I write.
There must be a way how we can stop this madness together.
But for now, all I can do is shout:
"I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long
..."



Rant out.
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