Dog trains man

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hooked On Swimming

Tilde is not very fond of water. All that liquid in one place, it's just so very wet and eeky. It is hard for her to see the fun of it. I remember Mie - the lady of the shelter - told me, it gets better when you go in the water with her. I'll have to keep that in mind for when the water temperatures are better.

In the mean time, Kenzo can come to the rescue.

Although I am not sure. Is he an excellent swim instructor showing Tilde how to do it? Or is he rather the right bait on the hook to catch Tilde? You tell me. That juicy stick in Kenzo's mouth might have something to do with it too.

That is not fair, you are swimming with MY stick!

Almost there ....

And we are swimming ...!

Ah I forgot, it wasn't about swimming, but about a stick ...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Kenzo's New Personal Trainer

You already guessed it, right? Indeed, Tilde is Kenzo's New Personal Trainer.

Kenzo is very close to his recovery, we just need a little more muscle and leg awareness before he can go - controlled - off the leash.

In Tilde's boot-camp, he is getting just that, with simple and plain old-fashioned play-wrestling.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Taken By A Storm Called Tilde

Driving down to the shelter of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" in Roskilde to meet Tilde, I wasn't sure we could have her home with us. Kenzo would be the judge of that, not me.

But at least I was looking forward to meet Tilde. At last. As one of the first to see a picture of her as a week old puppy, and following her journey from the puppy mill to her rescue and into her new home, I finally had the opportunity to meet her in real life. With only 14 months on her age-belt, Tilde was up for adoption again.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kenzo's Hopes

We went out the back for Kenzo's first 15-minute walk of the day. I already had him leashed with his "Halti", to prevent him from dashing through the garden, and thereby risk a new injury to his tendon. Especially in the morning it is difficult. Both Kenzo and Viva always launched themselves as rockets through the door, straight towards the bird-house, in an attempt to surprise attack a squirrel that might be in it. They found out if their attempts paid off, once they reached the bird house. But usually it was empty.

Kenzo never caught one, but Viva caught two squirrels this way.

The squirrel family in the back garden have already gotten used to the new situation, and when I get out with Kenzo, they won't move until we literally are only feet away. They are getting more and more bold, and we have a visitor nearly every other day. They will come to regret that later on when Kenzo is fit again, I thought when we passed the bird-house. 

Suddenly a squirrel jumped from the bird-house, and Kenzo launched himself towards the speeding creature. Instinctively I loosened my grip on the leash attached to Kenzo's "Halti". That's how dogs get hurt. But Kenzo made an abrupt stop, and watched back at me. I was still standing, looking horribly worried what he would choose to do next, and still faced the backyard's gate.

He took one last look at the squirrel, and quickly returned to me, in hopeful anticipation to get through the gate, and start his walk. "That's how much you miss your walks, huh. You would even give up a good squirrel hunt for your walk, big guy?". I talk to him a lot more these days.

He must know it only will take 15 minutes before we are back again. But he never stops hoping. Every time we leave for a walk, "Maybe this time you will take me for a good walk!". I hate to disappoint him. Four times a day. Every day. For the last three months. "Well, we can have some extra sniffs this time, Kenzo!", I say, while I repeat in my thoughts a hundred times, it is for his own good.

When we reach the point in our walk where Kenzo notices we are on a path that would return us to the house again, he brings on the charm. With excellent heel-work, glued to my side, face up, looking at me, "See dad, how much fun we are having?". He is cunning, and proves me wrong again, when I said, he wasn't a pleaser.

The closer we get to the house, the more slow we go. Kenzo's head goes down. He is alerted by branches that move in the wind. Grass is sniffed extensively, and he points in different directions in an attempt to suggest alternative routes. He is trying to avoid the unavoidable. The walk is already over.

Almost back, Kenzo gives up and we quickly make it to the driveway and through the gate. At the door, Kenzo takes one last look at the bird-house. Maybe next time. Maybe the next walk, will be a good walk again. "It will, big guy. It will".


Saturday, March 15, 2014


Three months into Kenzo's physical therapy to recover from a tendon injury, the side effects on his mental health are starting to show. Being leashed since December, his frustrations are mounting rapidly.

Physically he is doing great. Recovery is slow, but we are making progress. We do our exercises and a lot of extra training and activities to tire him out. People that already went through this, warned me how difficult it could be, but I underestimated it. What he lacks from walks, being social around other dogs, and expending his energy, can't be compensated by upping in other area's like training and nose work. At least, in Kenzo's case.

The first signs came when he started to misbehave when spotting other dogs - which I avoid as he is not allowed to play. Then the other day we met one of his long time favorite girlfriends, a nice calm girl, called Frida. I shouldn't have gone up to let them meet. I expected them to turn around each other with tail wags, as they usually do. Instead, he harassed her on a very rude way.

Kenzo and Frida last December, before his surgery, best friends
Kenzo is no saint, and he can be a bully on occasion, but this was past all limits. An explosion of cropped up energy and frustration.

We will have some serious re-socializing to do. I discussed it with our trainer from the club, who knows Kenzo since puppy hood, and his vet team. There is not much more we can do at this time. We have to finish our physical therapy first, before we can repair the mental damage. The only thing we do try is some damage control. After I tire him out with nose work, we go for a walk - on a short distance - with another girlfriend of him.

So far, it doesn't help, and his frustrations are very visible during those walks.

I am sure he will return as the Kenzo we know, but all of this is going to take a lot longer than I could ever imagine. Still 3 months of physical therapy to go. After that, rebuilding his social skills for an unknown time to come.

But we are in good spirit. We will get stronger out of it when we reach the other end, whenever that might be.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Viva Sunday #7: Incoming!

Kenzo was the only dog in Viva's life, she trusted enough, to engage in some rough play. He was her favorite wrestle partner and body-check victim. But he was hard to knock down. The absolute premium was when she occasionally managed to let him tumble, by using strategies to ensure Kenzo either didn't see it coming, or to add some downhill advantage:

Down slope + midships! the perfect body check

Bracing for the upcoming opportunity...

Other then those perfectly timed attacks, it was a whole lot of hard work, to bring her pal down to his knees, even if she tried to seek it higher up:

Puf, puf, it's a lot of work

Maybe try from higher up

She didn't liked when he played rough in return, it was most fun when Kenzo was on the receiving end. He gladly played the victim part though, and if he would get too aroused by all the action and was looking to return some cookies, Viva send him the "off-switch look". When that didn't help, the last resort always was to come running back to me and hide under my skirts:

Enough I say Kenzo! I am pressing your "off" switch now

Dad! Help!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Renewed Friendship

This photo was taken 4 years ago. Viva hadn't joined the family yet, and Kenzo was still an adolescent.

On it are our youngest grand-daughter, Lucia, only 1 year old, and her mother.

It made me happy Lucia was growing up with "a dog". I hoped, it would become a just as important and large part of her life, as it was for me, growing up with the dogs of my own childhood.

It was not allowed to last, it seemed.

Her parents, witnessing several incidents with other dogs, although not involving Lucia, became mistrustful of dogs in general. Including Kenzo. The blooming friendship between him and Lucia, was abruptly canceled.

You might not expect this, but I thought their newly found distrust wasn't a bad thing at all. Even if it meant I had to keep Kenzo - and later Viva - physically separated from them and Lucia, I had to give them their own time to learn and get to know how to let kids and dogs safely interact.

They asked me for guarantees, which I never gave. But I offered help and repeated what I always felt was best. Never leave them alone together, supervise each interaction, and teach (y)our child how to interact with dogs.

Time passed in a status-quo, until Viva, with her outgoing nature as a cuddle bear and her calmness, was the first to de-ice them. She was a great help in teaching Lucia that a dog is not a toy, but a living creature with its own personality.

It made me sad that Kenzo, unlike Viva, was still looked upon with distrust, as they thought he was dangerous, with all his barking and guarding. They never understood, he was merely protecting them too, as he did for the rest of his family. I never shared my sadness with them before now, as I realized they needed to find their own way.

Lucia in the mean time became fascinated of Kenzo and Viva. Both became equally important to her, and one of the main reasons why she enjoyed her visits. Even when she could only see Kenzo from a distance behind a baby-gate, or gaze in awe at him during a walk.

Slowly, step-by-step, Lucia's parents learned to appreciate Kenzo more, by small "incidents" like the next. I remember how Kenzo once sneaked up behind Lucia, when the baby-gate was left open by mistake. She felt someone was sniffing the back of her head, and when she turned around, stood nose to nose with Kenzo. She put both hands in front of her eyes - an inventive response to what we told her never to stare a dog directly in the face - and said "Hi Kenzo!". Kenzo licked her face, and settled down right in front of her. I could see how everybody exhaled, and Kenzo just earned a new installment to his "trust"-fund.

When Viva passed, they witnessed the unexpected impact it had on Lucia, now 5 years old, and realized what an important part in her young life, Kenzo and Viva already had become. I was grateful to see how they allowed Kenzo to step in, and support Lucia in her grief over Viva. Words were not spoken, but I knew this was the moment, Kenzo was granted the benefit of the doubt.

No need to tell you, it went very well, and a friendship was renewed in the blink of eye.

And so I leave you with this recent photo of Kenzo and Lucia playing.

It warms my heart, all our hearts, seeing those two finally together again. I say it with a huge sigh of relief too, that patience finally paid off and ensured all involved felt comfortable with the situation.

Lucia makes me proud when I see how she interacts with Kenzo. As we taught her, she waits for Kenzo to initiate contact and doesn't impose herself on him.

Most of all I am thrilled on Lucia's behalf, to experience the blessing of a dog's companionship while growing up, receiving unconditional love, learning empathy, responsibility, respect and understanding of animals.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pump That Biceps

We are one month in on Kenzo's recovery from a shoulder injury and I finally got my act together to write something about it on the blog. Progress is pain-staking slow, but there is progress, which is - and must be - the most important of all.

It started with a limp he developed in november last year. Actually he also limped sporadicly before that. But we could always manage with a couple of days of rest. When the days of rest got longer, and the interval between limps shorter, we started a more thorough examination at the vet.

To make a long story short, it was a month of examinations, x-rays, wrong diagnosis, second opinions, more x-rays and examinations, when finally an arthroscopic exploration was done of both shoulders.

The tendon of his left shoulder was bad, very bad, and it had to be surgically transected.

Agility dogs frequently seem to have these type of injuries to the tendons in the shoulders due to repetitive strains. Although I never did agility with Kenzo, the scenario is recognizable, knowing how he behaves when we are out and about.

By the way. Why it was necessary to shave his whole front for such a tiny incision needed for an arthroscopic procedure remains a mystery.

Although the fur will grow back, the tendon unfortunately will not, but most dogs do recover just fine, from the article Surgical Management of Bicipital Tenosynovitis via Arthroscopy:
"Arthroscopic transection of the bicipital tendon also referred to as tendon release is the ideal surgical option. It consists of completely cutting the biceps tendon at the degenerative biceps groove. The tendon will adhere to the humerus over time, allowing future normal biceps muscle function."
Although vets don't seem to agree if the biceps tendon will recover to a level that can support Kenzo's previous activity level, it should be possible to get very close, when we follow a rigid program of short leashed walks and physical therapy during the months to come.

And that's where we are now:


I thought it wouldn't be possible. Kenzo on short leashed walks - a maximum of  four walks a day, 15 minutes each - sound like a contradiction in itself. But it is going good. Very good indeed. His "shave" from the operation keeps others at bay, and people are, surprisingly, really nice to ask before they approach with their dogs.

I soon learned that the "Halti" was necessary, as Kenzo tried to expend as much energy possible in each short walk, and it became more like trying to keep my eyes on a bouncing ball, instead of walking a dog.

He is very aware of the "Halti", and it automatically seems to keep him calm during walks.

We find fun things to do, do a lot of sniffing, so we at least can stay out longer, and why not do a 45 minute drive to the beach, even if you can only walk for 15 minutes? Getting your paws wet and sandy, is always a feast.

He must miss his off-leash action, but he doesn't show it or complain, and I think he is quite content with what we are doing.


At home we do excercises with Kenzo at least four times a day to strengthen his biceps and keep him flexible.

We let him stand with his front-legs on the couch, and move a treat up and down in front of him, and by following it he is working his biceps muscles, similar with push-ups.

The vet also provided us with a Fitpaws Balance Disk, which is also to strengthen his muscles. With his front paws placed on the disc we move a treat in a back and forth motion, or left to right, while he is balancing on the inflated disc.

You might wonder if getting your fingers nibbled upon by sharp front teeth for 5 minutes in a row is painful, yes, it is. No pain, no gain.

Next to the biceps excercises, we also do massages, and general stability excercises. Kenzo loves all the attention and we think we might continue with this also when he has healed completely. Who doesn't like a little bit of wellness and work-out.


Our biggest surprise. Kenzo hates the underwater treadmill. For a dog that loves everything with water, this is clearly the exception. We hope it will get better by time, as the treadmill is such an important part of therapy.

Not only because it is great muscle training. Also because you can control the duration and difficulty-level, giving a great insight in how he is doing, and if he could be ready to be let off the leash on walks.

We use toys and treats to no avail, the treadmill remains a chore, and the only thing on his mind is how to get out of there.

Thankfully Kenzo never lost a lot of muscle according to the vet, so it might not be necessary to do it more than 5, maybe 10 times. We'll see about that.

So. That's where we are now. If you have any suggestions for fun excersises we can do at home we would love to hear them. This will still take many months, before he is healed again, but we focus now on the first step, to go off leash.

His fur comes back rather quick when you follow the photo's, don't you think? I hope the tendon heals just as fast.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Am Watching You!

Living together with a Hovawart like Kenzo does wonders for your social life. At least, when you spent a lot of time outdoors. Receiving guests at home, not so much.

When you are new to the family, you can expect Kenzo to pay a little visit to let you know in perfect Robert de Niro style: "I Am Watching You!". If you haven't seen the movie "Meet the Fockers", it looks something like this:

In Kenzo's version, he comes in eye-height if necessary, barks, and then retreats again. It is not really harmful in itself, but Ben Stiller will agree with me, it is pretty uncomfortable when you are on the receiving end. Even when it is Kenzo, instead of Robert de Niro.

It all goes well during the whole "oh what a good doggie" greeting process coming through the door with a lot of treats. Yet as soon as the treats stop, or we settle down, Kenzo hasn't forgotten to assert himself to the guest as the man-in-the-house, and waits for the opportunity to deliver that message loud and clear, to avoid any misunderstandings.

It has been a lot of work trying to socialize a Hovawart as protective as Kenzo - his protective nature was already shown in his puppy temperament test - with new visitors from the moment they step through the door.

And I admit, somewhere down the line, in his late adolescence, I got sloppy, thinking we were ready, because we had so many visitors as I ran my company at the 1st floor of our home, and he behaved so nicely. Maybe he was not ready, or maybe it was the fact that Viva joining the family made him even more protective, but it started with his first "I Am Watching You!" demonstration when he barked at a guest of which we assumed he had already ran the gauntlet with good results.

Since then we have tried different ways to introduce new house-guests, but he never lost his goal out of sight. The one that baffled me the most was, when I tried to greet guests outside. Away from the property, before they went into the house. It still didn't help, he even developed new strategies, by sniffing out a new guest from a group of people which he already knew, being his friendly self and receiving a shower of treats, only to quickly single that person out again for his "I Am Watching You!" warning, when we moved towards the house.

Who? Moi? Really?!
With the message delivered, he keeps one eye open to watch what the guest is doing, while I continue to reward him for all his "proper" interactions, like ignoring the guest when he or she moves, or just sniffing when we pass by. I can't define it as socializing anymore what we do, but more helping Kenzo to behave as society expects.

Our guests are always supplied with a rich supply of treats too. Kenzo might be protective, he is also practical. Although it sounds like a good idea, the treats and Viva's opposite outgoing nature, sometimes made guests overconfident towards Kenzo: "he looks sooo cute", and they approached Kenzo to give him a hug, despite my clear instructions. Only to discover, he ain't their pal yet.

More than once it were exactly the people that said to know and love dogs, who can't resist that urge to connect, and I have to bite my lip not to fire a "I told you so", when they stand there in disbelief, either questioning their own dog skills, or Kenzo's character. Instead, I run my simple script again, to explain, "Kenzo will never trust any person he never met before, in his own house, the first time you'll meet."

I realize I expect a lot from our visitors, with instructions not to initiate contact in any way with Kenzo, but do give him a treat, when he comes for a sniff. I understand it is difficult, and it is almost counter-intuitive for people not to try to touch or make contact in any way. Don't we by nature, disarm others with a smile and some attention?

The reward for the visitors that do decide to come back for a second time, is to enjoy that Kenzo will approach them with a toy, as a declaration of his acceptance. I always joke, that from now on they have to be even more careful, as Kenzo will start to protect them from their own friends.

What are your experiences with a very protective Hovawart, or any other dog that protects by nature?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tour de Viva with a Clumsy Casanova

This Tour is for me, now Kenzo is doing good so soon - more about him later - and I would really want to return to the places Viva enjoyed so much on our travels, and remember some of the best memories we have of her.

She was never a fan of driving in a car, but the destinations we chose always made it up to her in tenfold. She loved to dash on the beaches of the North-Sea and dip her toes in the water while harassing Kenzo. She could hike the West-Danish heath fields and the Norwegian tundra's endlessly, while scanning the horizon on the hunt for game, and enjoying the simple fact she was on an adventure, alone with her family. And at the end of the day, enjoy a quiet sunset with us.

We are packing, and leave for a 3-week road-trip in Viva's footsteps. Except Norway, that's too cold this time of the year, even for us. I think it would be great to do now, and not wait, as it still feels like she is with us every moment of our daily life. There is not a walk we have, or a cup of coffee we can drink for that matter, where we not think about, what Viva would have done at that moment. Memories are good, at least for me, I cherish them, and try to write down as many as I can. She still makes me laugh, like she always has.

It is not very well-planned, thought-through, and a spur of the moment thing. But that's me. And now Kenzo is doing so much better, I am allowed to be myself.

Yes, Kenzo. He bounced back remarkably soon, and I can only be happy for that. I like to think that some of the additional things I did might have helped him a lot. One of them was to take him with me everywhere, I haven't left him a minute alone since Viva passed. The other thing was to stake-out the trails of all his former sweethearts.

What can I say, he loved it, and so did the girls. He immediately started to "protect" them as well, in typical Kenzo-style. Sometimes I wonder if the vet actually forgot something while neutering him, or Kenzo hasn't got the memo. Of course, all that showing off and impressing the ladies can backfire, which it also did, when he tripped on a bottle hiding under the leaves in a ditch, underlining his well-deserved nickname of Clumsy Casanova, and finished the trail with a limp.

If Viva would have been with him, she would have never allowed it! Always the clever one.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kenzo's Grief

Kenzo is grieving. Also for him, time is needed, to heal.

On the day of Viva's passing, I took her body home with me for Kenzo to understand what happened.

It had rained the whole week, but on that day the sun was shining abundantly.

So instead of taking Viva inside, I laid her down in the sun at the start of the driveway to our house. The sun warmed her body and gave her that beautiful golden glow.

Kenzo frantically sniffed the air around Viva, with his nose slightly up. He only came close to her paws, which he touched gently with his nose, still sniffing.

He remained restless and acted like he wanted to go for a walk, so I let him. I followed him down the driveway. At the end of it, just before the point where we usually would have turned left into the forest, Kenzo stopped.

He went straight back to Viva and sniffed the air around her one more time, and then retreated a couple of yards, where he laid down, with his side to Viva and his face upright, pointing towards the road. People and dogs passed by in the distance, but Kenzo didn't move, neither did he made a sound.

I think - I hope - he understood Viva was no more.

After I returned Viva and said the last farewell, we tried to follow our usual routine for the rest of the day and the days to come as much as we could for Kenzo's sake. He seemed himself. We made sure he didn't experienced we were sad. We haven't changed anything in the house, and Viva's things are still where they used to be.

But he is not his bubbly self, because of one tiny difference. For each walk, training session, play or cuddle, I have to invite him. Usually it is Kenzo that invites me. Therefore I know, that first on the day where Kenzo will seek contact once more, he has had the time he needed to give Viva a new place in his life.

Next to the family, Viva was the center focal point of Kenzo's life and purpose, always trying to keep his "big sister" safe. Although I have never before helped a dog through mourning a companion, if I listen good enough and let him "talk", I know we can make it through Viva's loss together.

It is still early, Kenzo just needs more time, like the rest of us. It is only natural. He will be alright again one day, and all I can do is support him getting there. Finding this purpose, gives me strength too.


Friday, September 27, 2013

That Guy With The German Shepherd

I guess every neighborhood has at least one. The talkative dog walker that you seem to run into whatever time of the day you go for a dog walk. Ours is like the local-dog-gazette and seems to know everybody that walks our trail, and I knew she would be happy to hear we just made some new friends.

"Really? Did you really met that guy with the German Shepherd?". Now she made me feel uncomfortable, and I stumbled: "Eh, yes. Why? Is that bad?".

There were some red flags. The guy didn't made a lot of effort to initiate a meet with Kenzo. And he did say his elderly German Shepherd girl could "protest", as he described it. I always walk away with red flags like that. And why I didn't do exactly that this time, I really don't know.

The GSD girl was a bit of a loner. She didn't seem very eager to meet us. She wasn't nervous or aggressive either. And as Kenzo didn't perform any calming signals - he just wanted to come closer - I thought there was not too much to worry about, and hoped we wouldn't regret following my feelings on this one.

It went very well. The GSD girl did interact a little with Kenzo, and like he said, "shouted" a few times at him. The guy seemed to be a little surprised too, the "shouting" didn't scare us away. But Kenzo loves that, and is used to that from home - with Viva. It just motivates him to do an even better peacock impression.

"You better be careful when you run into them. Many people had problems with that dog". I could imagine that, but it didn't necessarily meant the guy and his GSD were doing anything wrong. Still, I only met them once, who am I to know, and changed the subject to something else.

Occasionally we met the couple again, and when I didn't have Viva with me, we let them meet. With Viva around, we just nodded to each other or raised our hands as a hello. Kenzo was still always happy to meet her, tried to impress her and invite to play. But she always stayed reserved - she didn't even accept a treat from me - although she always had a smile on her face when we met again.

One day I was rushing home with Kenzo because I was late for work when we noticed them going on the far end of the trail, slightly off it, like they usually do. It was months ago we had seen them last, and I was in doubt what to do. I just waived, and felt bad I really didn't have time, and Kenzo and me picked up our pace again.

The GSD girl had noticed us as well and her head got higher while she saw us passing by in the distance. Just when we passed them at that 90-degree angle, where she realized we were not coming over, she decided to drop all her reservations and took a sprint towards us, as fast as her old legs could go.

She greeted Kenzo loud and jumped up as much as she could. Then she pushed her body against my legs and just stood there. She wanted a rub. Our first rub. It just took a minute and off she went again, back to daddy, who was still standing there with his jaw-bone dropped on the floor.

I always thought she was special. And now she made me feel special. The local-dog-gazette is not going to believe me.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meanwhile, at the West-coast

Kenzo does, what Kenzo likes best:

The best Hovie is a tired, wet - and sandy - Hovawart.
But we are not finished yet, in the evenings, Viva joins:

Now we reached perfection. A bed full of sand.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Missing Hot Hovie

What do you do when it is hot. Swim as much as you can. Obvious.

And when home, find a cool place in the shades to observe the world.

Well done Viva.

Although obvious for Viva.
Kenzo can't sit still, and he rushes from whatever he is doing in the burning sun, to one of his cooling places.

Sometimes we can't find him and he goes missing.

Ah right, there he is. Charging up for the next dash.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kenzo & Viva Art Surprise

What do you think? Aren't they beautiful?



You probably noticed these watercolor paintings are based on the photo's I carry on the top banner of the blog. I selected them because they both capture their different characters so well. Viva, with her sweet, loving and also somewhat dependent look. It's her expression when she feels safe and just wants to be close to me. Kenzo, the eternal optimist, having fun in the moment, and already scouting for the next thing to enjoy, full of misschief.

All credit's go to the talented and gifted Margie K. for these beautiful watercolor painted versions of my favorite couple. I am forever grateful to you Margie.

When I look at the paintings, I also think back at Shiloh the Hovawart, as Margie and me met trying to help getting Shiloh adopted. Which after a long two year fight for Shiloh and two hip operations, finally got a happy ending.

I have a lot to smile about, when I look at the wall, where they are shining now.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Kenzo The Saluki

When I found out an actual Saluki sighthound was used in the "re-creation" of the Hovawart, I started looking at Kenzo for clues of such an ancestry. And indeed, when he uses all the muscles in his face to retract that, otherwise beautiful, Newfoundland facial skin, it does show:


Monday, April 22, 2013

Keeping Viva Safe

We started off on the wrong foot on the beach. Within minutes we were surprised by no less than three off leash dogs.

One after the other they seem to come down from the sand dunes, although I never saw any owner they might have come from. Of course, Viva's stress levels skyrocketed as a result.

Viva and Kenzo were still leashed - from April 1 dogs should be leashed on the beaches - although we were looking for a quiet moment to enjoy some off leash play as well as the others, we are no saints either.

With the third dog, I had to drop the leash on Kenzo as he or she was very persistent in wanting to meet Viva, who thought that was not a good idea at all. Kenzo send him or her packing. Further down we finally found some more space, and we could enjoy some play and getting our feet wet.

Other dogs approached from the horizon, and in an attempt to keep Viva as calm as possible, I retreated with her to the sand dunes, while my wife played some more with Kenzo in the surf. We just sad there, and returned to the surf when the dogs had passed by.

Murphy must have traveled with us that day, as most dogs did make an attempt to run up to Viva, even from that long distance. Every time Kenzo followed them, made his point that Viva is off limits, and herded them back to the surf. Kenzo played with them without any problems, no hard feelings. One abducted his ball, and he didn't care. Yet as soon as they ran towards Viva, he drew a line in the sand.

One person looked surprised at Kenzo herding the next dog away. "Wow, he really protects her". I thought it was team work. But true, Kenzo's role in keeping Viva safe is so much more then what I could achieve by myself.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kenzo's Mothers: I Am A Farm Dog

After following Kenzo's father's roots, that ended with Markus the Newfoundland, lets have a look at Kenzo's mothers. And as the experts say, holds a lot more genealogical value.

Kenzo's mother was Freja, or by her official name, "Sveablik's Freja". She had in all three litters, and Kenzo was part of the first litter. I only have printed photo's of her, and she is not even in the database, just in the registry of the Danish Kennel Club. Following the direct line from mother to mother we found our "Eve": Dina Geisler, a mix of two farm dogs, also called a "Hofe wart" (old-German for farm guard). These were dogs the first breeders found on farms, resembling their ideal of a Hovawart.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kenzo's Fathers: I Am A Newfoundland

Sparked by Min Inches, we embarked on a small genealogy project of our own to find Kenzo's roots. Together with the registry of the Danish Kennel Club and, this is what we found out of on Kenzo's father's side.

Kenzo's father was "Odin", or by his official name, "Chaccomo vom Bohrertal", and we were so happy to have meet him once. Odin was a Danish champion and he only had one litter. Following the direct line from father to father, we found our "Adam": Markus, a 100% Newfoundland!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kenzo's Trash Talking

Trash Talking? Moi?
We ended up scouting the new area we stranded in, Kenzo and me. The car had to get fixed. Again. Thankfully Kenzo was with me, and a walk beats the repair shop's waiting room and bad coffee any day. It was mostly a business park area so I didn't expect to experience any thrilling sights. When you have seen one, you have seen them all. But for Kenzo, a sniff is a sniff. It's good everywhere.

Passing a fenced-in area, I got a shock when a dog on the other side of the fence suddenly started barking. They always do that right at the moment you least expect it and when you go around in your own thoughts. Kenzo pretended he didn't noticed the disturbance, continued with his sniffing like nothing happened and only changed his stance to a little more low and calm, while keeping an eye on the other dog only from the corner of his eyes.

Excellent, I thought. That was an awesome display of calming dog body language, and gave Kenzo a treat for that. It seemed to have a soothing effect on the "guard" dog, so I threw a treat over to him as well - old habits die hard. He followed us all the way down to the end of the fence. And it was a long fence. He was still barking, but the alarm sound in it was missing. Kenzo remained stoic.

On the way back I thought it was better to pass on the other side of the street to avoid all the commotion. No reason to tease the dog after all. This side of the street had a long line of two-feet high boulders along the pavement, and it gave Kenzo plenty of opportunity to do some additional sniffing. Still, the routine repeated itself. When we reached the end of the fence, the dog stopped barking and now he was up for one very rude answer.

Like in slow-motion, Kenzo seemed to use every muscle in his body to make himself as tall as possible. His tail went high up into the air, and he took one step to the closest boulder, lifted his leg facing the dog, looked straight at him with his mouth closed, and released some water. The dog answered with a tail wag.

I just witnessed Kenzo "giving the Finger" in dog language, and I started laughing out loud, while Kenzo already was parading further down the road, celebrating his "victory". Studying all that dog body language is getting more and more fun, now I have opened my eyes for it.
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