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27/03/2013 / Julie

Bajnok’s seven!

On March 28th Bajnok will be/is/became 7 years old. For all the love I carry for Romeo and Derria, they mean the world to me, there’s no doubt about that, and if anyone tried to take them away from they’d have a fight on their hands, but no one means as much to me as Bajnok does.

When I first met Bajnok he

Bajnok when I chose him (biting his breeder’s finger)

was 17 days old. I had no idea who was going to become Bajnok at this point. They were tiny, it was Easter, and there was a lot of snow outside. I got to meet the mum who was lovely, the dad was down in Hungary. The second time we met he was 5-6 weeks, can’t remember exactly, and this time it was to decide which dog was to be mine. I was fifteen years old, and I hadn’t really thought through how to pick out my puppy, believe me, I wanted a dog, and I was going to take care of it. It was my money I was spending on this pup, but how to choose the exact puppy out of a litter of five I hadn’t considered. I was the only one interested in the litter that wanted a male puppy, and since there were five male puppies born in the litter, I had the pick of the litter. The breeder knew the puppies better than I did and had a couple in mind

Tug-of-war! (Bajnok closest to camera)

that she thought would fit me temperament wise, but I could choose. After spending time with them, I said I had thought about the “red” one (they were colour coded by collars). I don’t know what it was, but he had crept his way into my heart during our little visit. The breeder luckily thought he would be a good choice for me.

A friend of mine had come along for the visit, she was also thinking about a dog from the litter. She had been testing them while she was there, and was making up her mind in a much more scientific way than I was. Probably a smarter approach, but I have never regretted it. It would take another few weeks before we could go to pick up Bajnok to bring him home with us.

Falling asleep on my shoulder.

The day we went to pick him up he was 9 1/2 weeks old. It was early/mid June and the weather was nice. It’s a four hour drive to the breeder, and my mum took me there and back in one day. I had brought a crate for him to stay in on the way back. After signing the necessary contracts, getting toys, food and things that the breeder sent along with all of us puppy buyers, we went on our way home. Bajnok slept three quarters of the way home. When he woke we stopped at a gas station to let him and us pee. Mum went to the loo first, as Bajnok had his pee. When mum came back, I went to the loo, and mum held Bajnok. When I came back she told me Bajnok had whined as I left. When we got back in the car he wouldn’t settle in the crate, so I picked him up and he settled, and soon slept, on my shoulder. Never forgotten the feeling in that moment.

The guys getting acquainted. Been with us about 12 hrs maybe.

Since then he has been with me through thick and thin. He has always been there for me, always knows when I’m down and in need of support. He is a high energy dog, but if I’m sick he can get on with 10 minutes a day. I got Bajnok to mainly do agility, but also to try out as many other dog sports as possible. Bajnok is an amazing working dog. You ask it, he’ll do it. The only thing he hasn’t been too comfortable with was putting things in his mouth, but everything can’t be easy. We worked our way through agility, obedience, tracking of various kinds, trick training, and whatever else I could think of.

Bajnok came to me, it would turn out, at a

How we got through the “nothing in my mouth” thing. Play!

very hard time in my life. The fall of 2006 I got diagnosed with epilepsy, and to follow was a time were I was testing out meds and spending and awful amount of time on the couch because of it. Bajnok got me off it every day. He was the reason I didn’t go away into a big pot of self pity at that point. I had to get out every day and to agility twice a week. And if anyone had my back, it was Bajnok. So for the rest of his life, I will have his back. Bajnok is an amazing guy. For some people, in some situations, he may not show it, but if he lets you in, you will meet a guy with an extraordinary personality. He is spectacular and fantastic.

That year at Evenstad was a nice year, but in some respects it has done more harm than good. The only dogs we met up there were a pack of sled dogs, and they were a bit too much for Bajnok. I’ve seen his reactivity increase since then, and it is most likely because it was a year of bad dog experiences. There were good ones as well, but the good has to outweigh the bad, and it didn’t that year.

Bajnok is a noisy little bastard. He communicates vocally all his emotions, sometimes to excess. He is

Bajnok and Tøffa

beautiful and adorable, he knows exactly what button to push, and sometimes he pushes too far. He trusts me like he trusts no one else, I can do anything to him. He might protest loudly, that’s just who he is, but he will let me do it. He has taught an enormous amout, shown me how to do more than I’d ever imagine. He has been my support through the last 7 years, and he means more to me than anyone or anything in the world.

He is actually turning 7 today. 7! He’s an adult on the verge of middle aged. I’m counting on him surviving until I can handle life without him, which means many more years.

Happy birthday m’darling! And happy birthday to the band of brothers Mikke, Carter & Yari. Always thinking of Karine these days too.

Some videos:

Bajnok&Clara

Aaand some tracking

Having fun! (original soundtrack: Ray Charles – Twist It (Shake a Tail Feather)

Now for pictures.

Bajnok&Zaira

Bajnok and Clara, my niese, he’s amazing with her.

Pulling himself up by the claws

Bajnok and Esotico

Herding dogs of two different kinds playing.

Happy birthday boy! More long walks to come!

Greying, annoying, adorable, personality incarnate, fantastic little boy!

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17/03/2013 / Julie

Touch your dog, be aware!

I took Romeo to the vet a couple of days ago, because of a

“A lump? Pfft.”

lump on his testicle, his right testicle to exact. It caused him pain when I touched it, but he let me touch and examine, because he was used to it. Now Romeo is soon to be 14 years old, in less than a month, so I assumed it was a tumour and he would have to be neutered. I went by the vet’s office the next day, Tuesday, to ask what they thought, and they agreed. I brought him by on Wednesday, and by then the lump was nearly gone. I could still feel things weren’t as normal back there. The chord and tubes were a little thicker than usual, and I could see it in his face that it was still a little painful, but it was a lot better.

I touch my dogs all over all the time, I know their aches and pains, where there have been some, where there easily may show up some. I know that Bajnok’s current joring harness isn’t as good as his previuos joring harness (that Derria chewed up) because of the way his back muscles feel after a work out, and I know when to end a walk and turn home because Derria changed her movement pattern. I know Romeo has two tiny, harmless lumps just beneath his skin. One just behind his front right leg, and one on the right side of his chest. I can find them both in a jiffy, if someone wants to have a look. I know they’re harmless, but I’m keeping an eye none the less.

I love this bit. You know.. The walk bit..

I know the shape of both of my boys’ testicles, because I know I should keep an eye on them just in case, which proved to be good idea with Romeo the other day. I know every inch of my dogs’ bodies because it is my job as their provider to care for them as best I can.

When your dog gets sick it is much easier to spot if you know what’s normal, and you can be a better judge of what exactly is wrong with your dog if you know what they normally feel like. It’ll make it easier for your vet. Touch your dog, feel your dog, the entire dog, not just on the surface. I’ll admit I’ve been lzy when it comes to warming up Derria and Bajnok before joring, and I’ve paid the prize, or rather they’ve paid the prize. With muscle aches and similar. But I’ve learned after watching Derria not lasting 100 meters before changing movement pattern, I’ve gotten better. I’ve always been good when it comes to agility, just a bit lazy with the joring.

It’s also good that your dog is used to being touched everywhere when going to the vet. The vet should be thorough, and if your dog stands still while having a prostate exam, you know you’ve done something right. Pay attention to your dog’s movement, be aware of their body and language. Teach yourself how your dog shows pain and discomfort. It is extremely individual, and sometimes it depends on what kind of pain. But grumpyness is usually a good sign of discomfort.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight, pay attention to their bodies, and you will most definitely keep your dog longer. It’s better that your dog is a little too light than a little too fat, especially if it’s a working dog or jost an active dog. I’ve seen plenty of agility dogs that you wouldn’t consider fat, but were slow around the course, and then they lost maybe 500 grams to a kilo (1-2 lbs), and were zooming around the course. It weighs them down more than you would think.

Be aware, take care, and touch your dog all over.

“It’s up to you to keep us healthy. We appreciate a good, deep tissue cuddle!”

Edit @ Sun. 14:23: Romeo didn’t need surgery. Since the swelling had gone down we were told to leave it and see if it would come back.

10/01/2013 / Julie

My second, their third – The Pet Blogger Challenge

So, it’s that time of year again. Been looking forward to this. No, really, I have. Time for the pet blogger challenge.

I am a “repeat offender”, so here it comes.

1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

As you can see, the question is how long I’ve been blogging. The answer to this is unclear. I believe wordpress is my 4th or 5th host, and the first I’m happy with. It’s not constantly crashing while I’m blogging, it’s not deleting my previous posts, the templates are nice, no “in your face” ads, it’s fast and easy – once you get to know it, you can have more than one blog, etc.. This blog has been going since the 24th of April, 2011. And last year’s post.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

Well, I wanted to write more varied blogposts. The blog has been fairly quiet the last 6-7 months. I haven’t really had the motivation to write much, though I have tried to write now and then, and scrapped the posts because I couldn’t make them stay on topic. I worte that my life would be going through changes last year. Bhoy, was I right!

3. Is your current purpose the same?

-If not, what’s different? -If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?

My purpose is the same, though I think the blog may take a more personal direction. If the blog is going to survive my current state of mind, it better get ready for more than just my dogs and that life. I have too much running around in my head at the moment. My mood isn’t making it better, but my blog just might.

4. How often do you post?

I used to post on average about 1-2 times a month, and was trying to work my way up from that, but then my mum died, and since then I’ve posted twice.

5. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

-If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

I do not blog on schedule. I wouldn’t be able to keep one, I’m not anywhere near that disciplined. I’m sure people, and me to, prefer to follow someone who posts regularly and has new posts often, but that’s not me. I know a topic is post worthy when I manage to sit down and write it. When it can hold my interest, and I can write a post without going all “What the bananas?!” during it, or start doing something else.

I don’t sit down and write a post in 30 min- an hour, it usually takes me 3-4 hours. I never leave it for another day either, because I know I would never pick it up again. I recently deleted drafts I had hanging around since March.

6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.

I don’t spend much time writing my own blog per week, though of course, that depends. But other people’s blogs I spend a lot of time on. I have 15 blogs I stop by every day to check if they’ve been updated, equally bummed everytime they haven’t. Otherwise I have some semi regulars that get checked a couple of times a week, and then there’s twitter. Twitter where people post indiscriminately, and I can pick what I think sounds awesome.

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)?

-Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

The success of a post, hmm… I suppose when people comment, that’s fun. And also read. It depends on the post. Some posts I just want people to see, other posts I would like feedback. But it’s a living, breathing beast, and they all just sort of mesh together.

There are a couple of posts that have no comments or shares, but consistently keep getting hits. Almost every day, people stop by those posts, but to date nobody has commented on them. Whether this is good or bad is up to the reader. But it is interesting.

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I would like people to show that they have been by, this goes for me as well. If I’m stopping by a blog and I like what I’ve read, I’ll comment or press like, or share the post on Twitter. It’s not hard, and it gives the writer a happy, or maybe it’s just me…?

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

I think the same as last year. Write more often, about other things, different things. And perhaps be more open with myself and the blogging community.

That’s it for this year. I believe I may have been a little moody in this blog, for that I apologise. It’s just the way it is. I’m running my head into the ground these days.

If you want to join in the PBC, press the photo on the top, or if you want to read more blogs, there’s a linky list at the bottom of Leo’s blog.

02/11/2012 / Julie

Hallowe’en marks the anniversary

Been with me a few hours, and all ready settled in on the bed

The blog has been silent and damper lately. Just the way it is. I’m a bit late with this blog, and I apologise for that to anyone who may have been waiting. On All hallows’ eve Derria had stayed with us a whole year.

I lived at Evenstad when I got her. I had a lot of time on my hands, nothing but forest outside my door, and she was a sweetheart. Bajnok and Derria were great playmates from the start.

The first few days were stressfull. I was off school, on fall break, and Derria was having a hard time understanding that I don’t get up at 6 o’clock when I’m off school. The first day I thought she had to go out, so I let her out. However, she didn’t settle afterwards either, so the next couple of days, I didn’t let her out, and soon she was snoozing until ten. Then we got up, fixed breakfast and eventually headed out. For the first few meters, they were on lead. Now, Bajnok doesn’t pull. He doesn’t until you pick up speed, then he will start. Derria on the other hand, was rehomed for pulling. I worked on it in baby steps.

Slim and lanky, and why I thought there might be hound in her.

There were few distractions toward the woods, and I would usually let Bajnok off a little early. This way I could work with Derria until she put a little less pressure on the lead, then I’d unhook it, and there’s her reward. It worked rather well. If I needed her on lead longer than I thought she could handle, I’d put on a pulling harness and let her pull. This way she’d also slowly learn the difference between a walking harness and a pulling harness.

Our life at Evenstad was pretty simple; do as you please, when you please, pretty much. Then I decided to try skijoring with the dousesome, which was an enormous hit. The speed for Bajnok, and the pulling and speed for Derria.

On snow…

As long as we didn’t stay still, they were both enjoying it.

They showed great promise in this sport. When I was home at my parents’ I tried hooking them in front of a … (don’t know name in English)because skies on the road doesn’t really work that well. It was a hoot, and luckily Bajnok knows the

… and ice. Had to put rope between them, or they’d veer out to different sides or tangle the lines.

difference between left and right, because it was pretty darn dangerous. He wasn’t too assured to begin with, though and sometimes it ended with falls, but I can take a fall or nine. Soon we came into our stride, and the dogs loved it, and I loved it. It was brilliant fun.

At the same time I was working on her lead walking. It was definitely improving up there in the woods. I no longer had to almost lie on my back for a short walk, but she still couldn’t walk much more than a hundred meters with no distractions. Then we moved back to town. She now really needed to learn, and it was time for me to get properly frustrated at times. We soon discaovered the Halti no pull harness, not the thing around the

When the snow disappeared, we had to come up with alternatives

snout, but a harness (Halti is brand, for those who don’t know. They make humane training equipment). I brought it home to try it out, and it was a great tool. It’s not a miracle cure, but it helps. Instead of having 40 lbs of animal always pulling, she can’t pull at full force, because she’ll get turned around. It’s much easier to make contact with your dog, and for many dogs, it calms them down. There is no pain, no force, just a tactical design. It has hepled us to gradually, over several months, make the transition to a regular harness. We’re still working on lead walking, and during hightened stress she can still pull quite a lot, but she is much easier to handle while walking regularly.Bajnok has also enjoyed this harness. We use it at dog shows, and it makes him feel more comfortable. Which is quite a feat for a harness.
Derria still is a bit afraid of people. Luckily it’s only if we meet them outside our house. If they’ve rung our doorbell, tey must be the coolest people to have ever walked the face of the Earth! Which is nice. It wasn’t like this in the beginning, what we’ve done to get it like this, I don’t know. But she greats anyone who walks in like they were old friends. Maybe it is because most of them she has met before. Because if she has met the person only once before, then they are the coolest people in the world.

Physically she has gone through changes. When she came she was slightly unerweight, nothing major, but she had no muscle mass and would gallopp everywhere. Trotting was unheard of. After a month or two of running around in the woods and building muscle on 2-5 hour walks/day, she started to trot. Since then she has built muscles like a star. She has gained a size in Non-Stop harness. She destroyed the old one while she was tied up, and was wheezing a bit when breathing, so I decided to try a size larger. It has worked very well. When she came she could even fit into Bajnok’s harness. Anatomically her front looks a whole lot better with muscle on it, her back legs are schexy, and she is a fit dog. I did spay her for the sanity of my boys. It was not very nice when she was in heat.

She also lost a tiny piece of her ear in a fight with another dog. Both dogs are fine. Just a thing that happens.

She is challenging, annoying and smart. We still have work to do, but we’re getting there. Baby steps. She has over the last year tried tracking, agility and joring. I believe joring is the absolute favorite, though tracking and agility is definitely fun as well. She’s a great girl, and she’s here to stay.
Derria schweisshund tracking

Derria on human track

01/10/2012 / Julie

Strange Days

I have no idea what I’m going to write in this blog. Maybe it’ll be insanly long, maybe it’ll be short. I don’t know. It will be about the year that’s just been. I don’t know at this point how I’ll be approching it.

As many of you know, my mum died in July. More specifically July 25th. Since then life has been… strange. I didn’t work for the first 2-3 weeks after, but I was soon back at work, and have been working since. I don’t work a lot, which is nice. The world is still moving pretty fast and my energy levels aren’t too high. I feel I’m in a bit of a rut. I take care of my dogs, try to use them as best I can in this time, but I’m not allowed to drive, which keeps me a bit isolated, and I don’t feel like making much of the effort to socialize now.

The fact that mum is gone has properly sunk in by now. The world seems a gloomier space. Mum was diagnosed with scleroderma in 1999. It is a chronic disease which is extremely rare. More people win the grand prize in the lottery, than get scleroderma every year, and most people die with it, not of it. But mum’s health went downhill rather quickly after christmas. Her ilness started to go for her bowels. She went to he doctor a lot, got medications, some helped, others did squat (thank the government for the welfare state and universal health care!). Mum kept trying. She rarely talked about these things. When ever there was talk about illness in our house, she’d say “ugh, let’s talk about something else!”. And we would.

She and her doctors kept on trying. Dad was her confidant at home. They would have been married 34 years on the 22nd of August. After mum and dad went to our cabin down south, mum went back into the hospital. She had been there earlier in the spring. This was now July. She went in for a few days, and came out with intravenous nutrients. And about three days later she went back in. This was her last trip home.

At the hospital, she kept getting worse. Those days kind of blend together. Except the last one. That’s pretty much burned into my memory. She went into surgery 2-3 times. Getting worse each time. She then gradually got worse and worse, untill the machines were the only things keeping her alive. She died with her entire family around her. Husband, children, grand-children, son-in-law and daughter-almost-in-law. She died at 11:10 am on July 25.

Now there’s me, dad and the dogs. They’re good to have, and I’m trying to use them for what they’re worth. Going for long walks, biking, training, etc. I’m also trying to make life a little easier for dad. Doing small things, like not needing to be nagged. One thing I’m trying not to do to often, is walk Romeo. I think dad needs to walk him.

I don’t smile as much as I used to. We had some down time at work, and a puppy at our disposal (we don’t sell puppies, that’s illegal i Norway) so we played some hide and seek. It was the hardest I’ve laughed since mum died, and it felt very good. I want to do something, but I don’t know what. I want to take mum’s car a drive to the middle of the woods, or top of the mountains, bring a tent and a bike and be gone for a few days. I want to move out, and do so many other things, but most of all, I want to drive. But now I have to wait another year.

When it comes to my mum, she’s gone. She’s under the ground decaying. I have memories, photos, Romeo, myself, my sister, my brother, my father. I have every piece of handy craft she has ever made. I hope to get her work ethic, and if I end up in a job that requires it, I hope to get her relationship with the confidentiality clause. My mum welcomed everyone, no matter who you were or what you did. All she required was that you behaved as well you, and that you were yourself.

All of my friends felt at home and welcome at our house. Our door was always open. I could always find a common ground with somone, and I have my mum to thank for that. She thought me accept, and to overlook one thing for the love of another.

While my mum was a social worker, working with teens, she helped a girl, now woman, who is still a good friend. The woman didn’t have a well functioning family, and mum helped her grow up. While mum went in to the hospital, she and her wife had a daughter. Mum would have been like a step-grand-mum to the little girl, and was looking forward to the birth immensely. They sent a text asking if mum wanted them to come by the hoospital, but mum said no. She said no to most visitors. She thought, as we did, that she was going to be fine, once they’d fixed this tummy issue, and she’d have loads of time with the little girl. So she never got to see her little step-grand-daugther, which she had been looking so much forward to.

Today, life is… I don’t know. It’s moving. Suddenly it’s October. Mum’s birthday month. I’m living a relatively normal life for me. I’ve always been by myself, but not to this extent. I need to call someone. I buying lot’s of stuff for the dogs. Don’t really know why. Can’t think of anything else they need now. Oh, hang on.. But luckily I do realise I can’t afford it. I’ve started an aquarium, so there’s one more thing to spend money on. It probably won’t live past November, though. But we’ll see.

Little things hit me harder now. They started to let sheep graze on the fiel where I’d started to let the dogs off lead, and that brought me into a ditch. Life just hits me harder now, somethings I can just ignore, other things will bring me down.

I’ll leave you with a picture of mum and my youngest niece from last Christmas

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-rAF1zNTL_lA/Tvj6fcRLdnI/AAAAAAAAIlQ/Ra8EH2BL_7w/s512/DSC_2086.jpg

23/04/2012 / Julie

Biking is fun!

I’ve been joring a lot with the dogs since I got Derria. She loves to pull, so I thought why not? Bajnok loves to pull to, he just needs speed to get started. He doesn’t pull at walking pace. Not even in the pulling harness. I suppose I should be happy about it, and I am, he never pulls on the lead at walking pace. It’s nice.

Derria, on the other hand, loves to pull. She has learned the differences in equipment, and now only pulls hard when wearing the NonStop harness. When wearing any kind of harness attached on the middle of the back, she doesn’t pull. She has also learned the commando “forward” as a sign for pulling, which is helpful when I need an extra tug. She also puts extra pressure on the lead when she gets stressed. It’s a good indicator of her well being.

As the snow melted I was wondering what to do next. How were we going to keep this activity level up? I had never been a big fan of biking with dogs. Romeo has to take the blame for a big part of my feelings here. He has several times caused me to nosedive over the front wheel by suddenly stopping because of a smell or something similiar. I did it with Bajnok a couple of times, and that was a blast. He was a lot of fun, but my bike was rubbish. So I lost the taste for biking for a while.

When I moved to Evenstad, I also moved there with a new bike. This bike was kind of brilliant, and we had a lovely forest next to us. We started biking again, me and Bajnok. Not a lot to begin with, but some. Here I could let him off lead. This was a wonderful deal. He would, uphill, run around and do his business, sometimes shouting at me to keep up, then downhill he would run next to me or in front. Always keeping an eye on me so he wouldn’t get run over. We both loved this. Then my bike got stolen. Right in front of our house. Grrr. Looked for it for a while, but it’s probavly somewhere in eastern Europe by now.

Then Derria came, and soon the snow. So we started skiing, which everyone loved. When we moved back home, there was less skiing, and we moved on to using one of these that I don’t know the English name for (help?). The dogs enjoyed that, but the skids kept scraping the side walks and it was hard sometimes to get far without a proper yank as we slid across a part of asphalt. We should have had part elastic leads for that, but I didn’t at that time and the dogs felt the asphalt. We did have some nice runs before the weather started to heat up, and when winter returns, we will pick it up again.

Recently we started biking again. It was a bit of a coincidence, but I needed to pick up my bike from the train station, I wasn’t feeling too well, and was eager to kill to birds with one stone. I decided I was going to try biking with them, and if it didn’t work, I could walk them and the bike together. On the way down I walked them on the drag belt to warm them up. As we got to the bike, I felt dread creeping in, but I made it ready. Put the leads on the steering and hooked the dogs on. I said “Forward! Go!” And they went! At a serious speed. Uphill at a gallop. Past people and a dog barking in a yard. It was so much fun! No need to worry about leads getting caught, they kept them tight. All the way home. About 3 km. But I did realise it would be easier if I had one lead for them. And since there is no give in the steering, the lead needed to have some give in it. So I bought an elastic lead, with an oportunity to split. Again it’s NonStop DogWear’s handiwork. (MAN! I love their products!!). This thing with this thing. It’s brilliant. So now we’re a walking advert for NonStop, as well as loving evry minute of it.

Yesterday, Sunday, we went for a properly long run. I partly wanted to test the dogs, and get in a good long exercise. The dogs are in good shape now. Derria has built a lot of muscle since she came to me, and Bajnok has always been in pretty good shape. So yesterday we went on a 10 km (1 mil, in Norwegian) bike run. About half way through we took a little breather where I kept the dogs moving so they’d keep their muscles warm, but still get to catch their breath. They did very well, pulling all they way. All 10 km. Back home they got to run around on the field for about 15-20 minutes while I stretched them out, and they calmed down their heart rates and muscles.

I firmly believe that they wouldn’t have lasted as long with other harnesses. It’s important to get real quality for your dogs, and to know why your getting exactly that harness for that use. What kind of pressure is the harness putting on your dog’s body.

But biking is officially fun again! Despite having a rubbish bike.

20/04/2012 / Julie

A working dog is a happy dog

At a lecture once I was told that a dog would be happiest if it didn’t get many walks, but only short pee breaks every now and then. Maybe followed you to get the mail, etc. The lecturer felt that in Norway, we over exercise our dogs. This sparked quite a lot of heat in the room, people did not agree with her. Of course, what she neglected to mention was that she meant that your dog should be with you for as much of the day as possible, and be outside as much as possible. She felt dogs got stressed by walks, and you should avoid any stress. For some dogs, this may be true, but very few people have the opportunity to take dogs everywhere and have them outside all day every day, i.e. walking around on a farm.

I don’t agree with her. Romeo is my prime example of my point of view. Romeo was a family dog. He enjoyed life, was perfectly happy as my mother’s companion on walks, and the entire family’s cuddle bug. His life for the first five years of his life was this. He got an hour off lead every day, he was loved and cuddled with. Then we started agility. His life changed drastically, and he got to use his head. Yes, he has had some run ins with other dogs, but this down side is nothing compared to the joy on his face whenever there is a chance to work. Agility led to other sports, he got to try obedience, tracking and back packing. We even tried biking, but after he came to an abrupt halt and I went heels over head and tyre for the third time, we stopped that.

Romeo built muscles, social skills and general obedience after we started dog sports. He did not grow into a stressed dog. He was his old calm self, but he was easier to control in stressing situations. He was no longer going ballistic every time he saw a dog.

I do a lot of different things with my dogs. When I got Bajnok, the plan was always that he was to become an agility dog. First and foremost, at least. He was/is an agility dog. We started the training when he was about 10 months old. He was then done growing, height wise. So we started with low jumps, tunnels and dog walk. He excelled at agility. With Bajnok I have trained pretty much anything I have wanted. When I thought of a Mudi, I wanted an all round working dog that could do well in any dog sport, and what I got was exactly that. Bajnok does well at any task I give him. He has tried agility, conformation, obedience, freestyle, tracking – blood, animals and people – , ski- and bikejoring, back packing, swimming and herding. We have only competed in agility, conformation and one obedience show, but we have tried every one. Some more than others, some less due to proximity and accessibility. Apart from the average dog sports, Bajnok and I have also worked out our own. From he was very young, one of the things I would do on a walk was this:

Now Derria is getting the full blown feel of my obsession with working the dogs. And she seems to enjoy it. She has yet to be introduced to agility, but we have slowly started obedience, and we have been joring all winter, and havbe recently gone over to the bike. She is an extremely calm dog, she is happy and relaxed at home, she wasn’t before. She is battling Romeo for the title of calmest dog in the house. The first week with me, she was pacing in the mornings, but as the new life settled in, and I got to know her routines, and she got to know ours, she has become a very calm and relaxed dog. She has tried schweisshund a couple of times, and is starting to get the point.

Working a dog gives them something to do, something to focus on. It can help scared dogs build more confidence in themselves, and it brings you closer to your dog. Most of the confidence training I have

Terrain change

done with Bajnok has not been specifically towards people or other dogs, it has been through pushing him to do things he wasn’t comfortable doing on his own, and then discovering they weren’t dangerous. Because he is that kind of dog. Sometimes pushing him away from me, getting him more independent by building his confidence on his own. Getting him to climb things, or simply working alone in agility or tracking. But in all these instances were I push him, I’m always there to catch him. His biggest reward when climbing something, is getting to jump into my arms.

Dogs build confidence through mastering experiences, just as any one would. The more you let them conquer, the more they’re going to think they can conquer. Dog sports can always help with this, of course more so if you use positive reinforcement. I will believe that dog sports can help build up a dog. Keep them calm at home, motivated to stay with you, healthy and happy. Perhaps not all dog sports work for all dogs, if you have a reactive or fearful dog, perhaps a dog sport where you don’t have to be close to other dogs or people all the time? Setting the goals at a reachable level for you and your dog. Perhaps not competing in agility or obedience, but perhaps you can still train.

For the last year and a half Bajnok hasn’t competed in anything, but we have still trained. He is a working dog, and loves being used, in any way or form.

And in the end, a film about building Bajnok’s confidence through climbing.

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