Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Agility Action (First Videos)

Ready, Action, Go!! Mum and I run through a course in school while Dad films us. I'm not perfect yet, but I'm working on it. There are about 17 obstacles in a course on average. Sometimes our trainers put more obstacles in to challenge us, and the course is different every time.

Mum and I learn how to communicate with each other, and run through the course with each other in such a way that we minimize mistakes such as doing the sequence wrongly, or skipping an obstacle, and we try to minimize time and maximize speed. We learn how to hold each other's attention, and learn how to give and receive directional commands. We bond over our mistakes and successes, and most important of all, we have fun together no matter what happens.


Bath Time

As some of you my friends may already know, I am an indoor dog. I get to lay on leather couches and sleep on beds, and as a requisite for having these luxuries, I had to trade in dirt and stink. That means a weekly bath. Mum uses special natural shampoos so my skin doesn't dry out, and I use only the best products. This is to ensure I smell clean and nice, and stay handsome. Hygiene is a very important aspect of living in my house, and everything needs to be clean and tidy, and that includes me.
Mum gives me a command "Go Bathe" and I will walk into the shower willingly. No need to force me, no leash, no fuss, no lures, nothing. Make no mistake, I am not jumping for joy, but I'm not scared either, I'm just willing. I will not come out of the shower until Mum says "Free".

We always start with wetting my whole body down with warm water, then she lathers me with the shampoo which has been diluted with water in a mixing bottle. We start on the upper back, and work down the sides (flanks), and finally the legs and feet. She uses her fingers to rub and scrub my body, and its a very relaxing massage, I love getting bathed by mum. Mum then tells me to turn around (and I do) and she would expel my anal glands. Its really stinky, and she washes my bum thoroughly with extra shampoo. Then I get rinsed off. The last body part is my head. She tilts my head up and works the lather onto my head, ears, cleaning inside as well, and the muzzle, beard and chin. Then she rinses me off, and tells me to "Shake". Shaking helps to expel any water that may have gotten into my ear canal. It also helps to get rid of excess water from my coat. I then get rubbed dry with a clean towel.
We use a special dog hair dryer, it is called a Forced-Air dryer, because there is a lot of power and the air comes out faster and expels water out from my thick coat. The forced-air dryer is much better than a regular human hair dryer for a dog, because of several reasons.
  1. Water trapped in a thick coat can lead to dampness and dampness leads to skin problems.
    The forced-air dryer forces the hair strands apart, pushing out the water on each fur strand drying right down to the skin.
  2. It saves a human time and energy. I am a relatively big dog, to dry me 100% with a forced-air dryer takes 15-20 mins, depending on the length of my coat, but a human dryer will take 45-60 min to do the same thing. In Seattle, when it rains so much, it takes forever to dry, and it is cold too. To get me dry sooner makes me more comfortable, and I can resume normal activity right after drying.
  3. Since it saves time and energy, I'm saving my parents a tonne of money, so they can use the money to buy me delicious treats instead.
  4. All professional dog salons use forced air dryers and stationary kennel heat dryers. The forced-air dryer also causes the coat to shine and gleam, and makes brushing light work.
Getting rubbed dry with a towel, and then blown dry with my dryer. I use the Double K brand of hair dryer. I have never been groomed by any human other than my Mum. She went and took a grooming course and is now fully certified and is specially certified to groom the "Non-Sporting" and "Terrier" groups. Her certification comes from IPG (International Professional Groomers).

All done. When I was little, the sound of the dryer used to scare me because it was quite loud. But Mum never made a fuss, and I soon learned to get used to it. I'm not fazed anymore.

Having my head brushed out nicely happens after every shower.

Mum starts with the head, and moves down the neck, back, and finally the legs. My coat is now getting long again, and I've been panting a fair bit on sunny days. I heard Mum mention that it is time to have me hand-stripped again. I cannot wait. I love to stay cool.


Rattlesnake Lake

I'm not sure why the lake is called Rattlesnake Lake, cos I haven't seen any rattlesnakes around, but the lake is one of my favorite haunts. It is only 20 mins away from my house, and I can either do a hike of 4 miles up and down to the ledge, or walk around the lake, or swim in the cold water. There are geese and ducks to admire too, so many things to do.

Since the weather was so beautiful, Mum and Dad took me there for a stroll around the lake on Sunday. We did a leisurely walk, enjoying the sunshine and the light breeze. It was very beautiful.

I still have not yet learnt how to swim, although I am past 2yo, and I'm not ashamed of that. Many of my doggie friends my age already swim like experts, and its all my parents' fault that I don't. Mum said its just too cold to swim in WA, and Dad just haven't worked hard to try teaching me. So I make the best of it, and waddle in the water up to my neck. That's as far as I would go.

The water is crystal clear and clean. I love to wade in water. I cannot wait for spring to come, so we can resume hiking in the alpine forests again. We haven't done any snowshoeing this winter, and I sure do miss romping in snow. In summer, I love to go camping and stay in tents and explore the woods. I love being a part of nature. I hope the humans will keep it green, safe and beautiful for as long as time will lasts.


Spraying the Garden with Dad

We've had some fantastic spring-like weather these past 2 weeks, and Daddy decided it was time to spruce up the back yard patio. Its been covered with moss because of the wet winter we've had and its gross. He took out this black machine that made a very loud noise and a hose that sprayed water out at a very fast speed. Wow, the water sprayer was so powerful, not weak like my Nanny Lydia's garden hose.

Of course, being the good boy-son (aka dog-son) that I am, I had to investigate and get involved with helping out. Dad and Mum calls me a "kay-poh", in Singaporean slang, that means 'busybody'. I just have to poke my nose into everything my parents are doing.
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get my mouth to bite the spray of water. But it sure was fun trying.

After a little while, Dad said I was in his way, and I should go find Mum and bother her.

I just couldn't resist hanging around, playing with Dad and the water spray.

I noticed that as the spray hit the mat, the gross stuff would come out. How amazing it is to see the power of water in motion. Then Mum and Dad tag-teamed and cleaned the whole patio. I had to stay indoors because I was really getting into everyone's work.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Do or NOT To Do

Here's a list of what is allowed in my house, and what isn't (and what I wish I could do).

Things Allowed
  1. I can give kisses on lips and faces.
  2. I can get on Mum's couch in her study.
  3. I can shred my soft toys when I feel like it.
  4. I can fall asleep on Mum's lap in the media room couch.
  5. I can wake Daddy up by nudging him with my cold nose at 3am so that he can let me out to pee.
  6. I can carry all my toys and leave them lying around the house and not worry about putting them back in the toy box. (I've got Mum and Dad to do that)
  7. I can steal the occasional lacy panty and strut around the house especially when there are guests.
  8. I can steal the occasional Daddy's stinky sock and hide it, so that he has to look for it to complete the set.
  9. I can catch insects if they are unlucky enough to get into my house, and I eat them. Yummy!!
  10. I can eat little prey animals if they are stupid enough to come into my garden.
  11. I can greet anyone with a wagging tail and lots of kisses.
  12. I can squeeze myself between my parents' legs, if they are standing up, to get an instant all over body rub for free.
Things NOT Allowed
  1. I have never counter surfed at home, but I try it once in a blue moon at my Nanny's house, when no ones watching.
  2. I have never had an accident in my house.
  3. I can't jump onto the bed unless I've been invited.
  4. I can't jump onto any couch unless I've been invited.
  5. I never wake Mum up to let me out to pee, that's Daddy's job.
  6. I can't hide my chicken leftovers in the garden, Mum digs them out and chucks it. (Hey Mummy, that's supposed to be my supper)
  7. I can't jump up at the fence whenever the neighbour's cat runs around teasing me.
  8. I can't jump up at guests.
  9. I can't mouth anyone at anytime.
  10. I can't walk out the door first.
  11. I can't be scared of anything, except 4th of July fireworks. Mum and Dad are still working on that with me.
  12. I have never growled at anyone or anything, ok, one exception, the neighbour's cat.
  13. I have never taken a book to read, or shred. YET.
  14. I have stolen a shoe or two, and chewed them, and Mum was not happy about that. She just told me in a low growly voice, "Leave it" and I've stopped being a shoe thief. Last time I committed the crime, I was a young puppy.
  15. I can't beg for food, I have to lay down quietly while parents are eating. If I look at Dad while he eats, I annoy the crap out of him, and I get told to lay down.
As you can tell, I'm a restricted deprived Airedale. No hanky panky, naughty dog business. Mum and Dad still has friends who think they spoil me too much, but I don't think so!! Good thing that I like to make my parents feel proud of me.


Shock Shock Horror Horror

Today, I went running with Mum while she rode her bicycle on our usual route along the Sammammish River Trail in Redmond. Something most unexpected happened, and it really upset Mum a lot.

As we were riding along, (Mum riding, me running) a lady with a full grown boxer came from the opposite direction. Immediately, the boxer showed a dominant stance, and when she spotted me, she charged forward and broke free of her leash and collar. Her collar was too loose and she could easily get off. She ran toward my side to sniff my "gu gu jiao" and then promptly started growling. She then jumped on me with her mouth wide open with teeth baring. Mum had thought this boxer just wanted to say hi, but when she saw that it was turning aggressive, she let go of the leash so that I could dash away. The boxer's owner was frantically calling her dog but the dog was deaf to her. It was obvious this owner did not have control over her dog. I was just madly shuttling from side to side, trying to avoid getting bitten and charged. Mum tried to stop the dog by grabbing it, but it sure could run fast. Mum almost caught hold of it but missed several times.

In the midst of all this, Mum didn't utter a single word, she just went for the boxer. The boxer's owner on the other hand was frantic and yelling all over the place. Finally, Mummy grabbed hold of the boxer's neck and stopped the charging, and waited for the boxer's owner to come and get her dog. The dog was obsessed and crazy. Mummy was so shocked she didn't have time to respond. She came over to me, checked me over, picked up her broken bicycle bell from the ground, looked up and in that instant, the boxer and the lady just disappeared.

Not a single apology, not a single "is your dog ok?". Nothing. Nada. The boxer lady just fled with her dog. Mum was so pissed and shaken she could barely contain it. She just couldn't believe that we were under attack by a complete stranger and she didn't even stop to see if I was ok, or if she needed to compensate Mum for her broken bell. Mum dropped the bike when she tried to stop the nasty boxer from attacking me and in the process, broke her bike bell. The whole thing could have been prevented if the lady had used the right collar on her dog. What a shame!! The lady didn't even have the basic human decency to see if we were ok.

Fortunately, I was fast enough to dodge any bites, and Mum was smart enough to release the leash so I could run away from the crazy unsocialized Boxer. Also, with all my Airedale coat, being wiry and tough, that probably prevented me getting any real bites. I may have lost a chuck of fur here and there, but no big deal. I think Mum felt more hurt and upset that I got attacked than if she herself got attacked. We called Daddy on the phone to tell him what happened, and he said we should just head home. I was very happy to go home. 11 miles was quite enough, thank you Mummy.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Agility is Fun

I love to attend Agility class at my school. Agility is great fun for me and Mum to do together. Running on the treadmill to warm up.
There is a row of treadmills in school, just for us doggies. Isn't it fascinating? Many of my fellow doggie schoolmates learn how to run on the treadmill when we are puppies. I learnt to run on the treadmill when I was about 6 months old. It is a good way to burn some of the energy we may have pent up inside. In rains very often here in Seattle, so running on the treadmill is a great way to keep fit and healthy despite the weather.
On the "table" command.

Walking the "Ramp"

Climbing the "Teether"

Coming out of the "Chute"

Doing a sequence of "Jumps"


Chilling @ Home

This is my fleece blanket. I like dragging my blanket all over the house and playing with it. I toss it around, flinging it side to side, and tease Mummy with it, hoping she'd grab hold of the other end, and play tug of war with me, but she wouldn't budge. She said, blankets are not for playing, I can drag it around with me, but I'm not allowed to tear it up. Oh Mummy, you're so boring. So many rules and regulations. As you can probably tell by now, Mummy is the disciplinarian, and Daddy is the nice one.

Chilling in Mum's study with my new blanket.

In the evening, I hang out in our media room, laying about, napping, sometimes chewing on a bone or something. I watch tv too sometimes, but only when "The Dog Whisperer" is on, or some Animal Planet show. My parents like to watch tv there, or play "Rock Band". I like to be close to my parents, wherever they are, I follow.

Daddy playing Rock Band with the make belief rock guitar. I'm so bored, no one wants to play with me.


Chinese New Year Scare

For my Mummy, the Chinese Lunar New Year is a big deal. Last week, the Chinese Lunar New Year started on the 7th, and will last till the 18th of Feb. She put up these red colored decorations all over the house, to welcome luck and good fortune for our family. On the eve she put it up, I got a little scared. It looked like they were floating outside my glass doors, like ghosts. I couldn't figure out why they were there.
Dad told me that it was nothing to be afraid of, and Mum just ignored me.
So I went to Daddy and asked him to pet me, and tell me it was ok.

Daddy said it was important to confront our fears, so he carried me up to have a sniff at those things. They were a little shiny, but it was obvious they were harmless.

Nonetheless, I was still a little unsure. I hovered around at the stairway to observe those things stuck at the glass doors, but after a little while, when my parents just ignored me, I decided to stop being a wimp. Its been several days since the decorations have been up, and I'm no longer unsure anymore. It took me only an evening to get used to these strange things being arranged in my house. I learn to ignore these silly things that Mum loves so much. She said it reminded her of her home back in Singapore and of her family.


Bogart's Surprise for Me

The postman came by today, and dropped off a very special package. Mum said that it was for me, and it was from my buddy Bogart, who lives down in California. I've never had a package specially meant for me from a doggie friend before, so I got really excited and happy. "Woo Woo Woof" means Thank You So Much Bogart!! I wondered what was inside, I couldn't smell anything, but the label clearly had my name on it. So I figured I shouldn't waste any time in opening it.
Out came a packet of treats, dried chicken breast and beef hearts. My favorite kind of treats!! Arroooooroooo!!

I didn't waste a single moment and tried to tear the packet open, but Mum had to help with the scissor.

I was SO happy!!

Thank you Bogart! You're the bomb!

Mum said to show my appreciation, I should pose with my treat, a piece of beef heart and Bogart's namecard, so I did. Mum sniffed at my beef heart treat and she said it smelled good, I could tell she was tempted to take a bite out of MY treat. No way Mummy, Bogart sent it to me.


I had the best pressie ever. Bogart, you're the first doggie friend who has ever sent me something in the mail. You're way too cool.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Principles of Raw Feeding

For the most of us, going out into the woods or grass plains is almost an impossible, unrealistic way to catch our food for the day (although I must add I've seen my neighbour's two cats bringing home mice and baby rabbits). So the next best alternative my Mum can come up with, is to provide me with food according to some raw-feeding principles. (Borrowed from Tom Lonsdale's books "Raw Meaty Bones" and "Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones")

  1. The food must be raw. (Other carnivores like lions, coyotes, wolves, dingoes, etc, have been eating raw for thousands of years, and the domesticated dog has been eating like so in addition to human scraps for 15,000 years through evolution. Raw can't be bad.)
  2. Meat on bone should provide the bulk of the diet. (Too much meat and organs result in mushy poop and creates imbalance, add bone to add substance to poop)
  3. Feed meaty bones from a variety of animals, thus ensuring good balance of nutrients. (Nature is forgiving, a daily balanced meal isn't necessary, the body absorbs nutrients over prolonged length of time, do you know any human who eats balanced meals every day? Not my parents)
  4. The bones must be of a suitable size to permit consumption - large bones are unsuitable. (Too large bones, such as femur, can cause teeth to break)
  5. The pieces should not be small and susceptible to being swallowed whole, but should require concentrated chewing. (So as to maximize dental benefits of clean teeth, healthy gums and strong jaws)
  6. Ripping, tearing and gnawing at the food takes time; time needed to scrub, clean and polish the teeth. (One of the key benefits of rawfeeding is clean teeth, healthy gums, lower risks of periodontal disease, leading to a healthier dog, therefore fewer trips to vet and vet bills)
  7. Muscle meat and internal organs have approximately the same high nutritional value.
  8. Food can be bought in bulk to reduce costs. Food is re-packaged for daily rations and frozen. Defrosted when needed.
  9. Fresh water must be available at all times.
  10. Many dogs benefit from fasting one day per week. Sickly, old dogs or puppies should not be fasted. (I get fasted once a week, sometimes twice)
  11. Fish is ok, but not salmon. (I hardly eat fish, because Mum says it stinks)
Mum says there is a lot of "brainwashing" going on, by the pet food industry today, to put owners on guilt trips if they don't feed a particular food, or to make humans think only pet industry food is nutritionally balanced and good, and to spread myths about canine nutrition. It is so important for humans to do research and re-educate themselves about what is good for us. Then make their own informed decisions on how to best provide for us.