Friday, 26 February 2010

grooming the dog

Lately people have been asking me whether Penny can see, when her hair falls over her face. In general, I like her to have a fringe in summer, to give her some protection from the harsh effects of the sun on her eyes. Here she is looking pretty hot on our weekly off-lead walk with Cindy at Coldstream last Saturday. (I hope it's cooler tomorrow!)

Cindy suggested to me that I could thin Penny's coat by using thinning shears, so I've been trying it out. I've come across lots of sites showing how to style either human hair or canine hair using these tools.

So far I've just experimented with desensitising her to scissors, as she's never been trimmed at home with scissors before. I've trimmed around her rear end and tried to get rid of some of the bulk on her legs.

It's a 'work in progress', but I'm keen to learn more because Penny doesn't really like going to the groomers and I can't just let her hair grow indefinitely. (She seems to have the maltese every-growing coat, though her heritage is a bit suspect. She simply doesn't look like what she's supposed to be - a maltese X shih tzu.)

I've got Dog Grooming for Dummies on reserve at the local library, so I'm hoping to turn into an expert when I read it. Hmm...not very likely. But one book that I've already got from the library has good information. It's the incredibly heavy Dog Bible. My hands got tired holding it up!

It's a fantastic book, though, with information about all sorts of things - dog genetics and history, dogs in religion and folklore or popular culture, dogs and the law, health, daily care, breeds, diet, training, fun activities, and, of course, grooming - to name just a few of the topics covered.

I think I'll have to buy it, because I want to have it on hand all the time.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Major breakthrough in dog intelligence

After many months of painstaking research, Penny has solved the almost-impossible problem of how to retrieve two Whirl Wheels from the river. I post this photo here as proof of the success of her studies.

There is one small problem. So far she has not been able to replicate the results, but she's intending to get back to the research lab (aka Yarra River) as soon as possible to continue her investigations.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

clean pet hair off the carpet with a pet comb

If I write once again about cleaning Penny's hair off the carpet in the loungeroom, you might get the idea I'm obsessed with house work. Let me tell you, that is so-o not true. But when I saw a great new product at the recent Pet Expo in Melbourne, I had to buy it.

It's called a Pet Comb, and I got it from The Fabric Care Company. The advertising leaflet says it is Australian made, but I don't know whether it is an Australian invention.

It works really well, and it's heaps easier than cleaning the carpet with a damp cloth, or with a clothes brush, as I had been doing.

Interestingly, the clothes brush is sold by the same company.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

helping the bears in Asia

I would have loved to give Penny a Valentine's Day card, but I decided I had to draw the line and acknowledge that she's a dog and I'm a human, though our two species get along so delightfully.

However, when I read Teal'c's blog recently I realised I had a wonderful excuse for sending Penny a card. Teal'c suggested that we support the rescue of the poor mistreated bears in Asia. So I did. The idea was that the organisation would send me an e-card.

But I couldn't find it - until just now.

And here it is.

So, belatedly, happy Valentine's Day, lovely Penny.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Australian Berwick Highland Gathering 2010

As I mentioned in my previous post, Penny and I went to a flyball competition today. It was at the Berwick Highland Gathering here in Victoria in Australia.

My mum was Scottish and this led to a little problem with my running of Penny. If the massed pipe bands played my mum's favorite old songs, I started to cry. At one stage I was yelling encouragement to Penny in a croaky voice with tears dripping off the end of my nose. But probably no-one noticed. Thank goodness for sunglasses.

My mum would have loved to have been there!

At one stage as I wandered around, I had a chat with a woman selling Celtic pottery and she told me that dogs play a special part in Celtic mythology. That got me thinking, and when I arrived home I looked in 'Celtic Myth and Legend - An A-Z of People and Places. Because it's arranged alphabetically rather than in themes, I couldn't simply look for 'dogs', but I did read the entry on Cu Chulainn, whom the author refers to as 'the best known and greatest of all the Irish heroes'. Having killed Culann's dog, the hero, then known as Sedanta, offered to become Culann's guard dog, and this act earned him his new name, which means 'Culann's Hound'.

I've wondered sometimes why the words 'hound' and 'dog' don't mean exactly the same thing in English, and I wrote a post about this some time ago on my other blog.

enjoying flyball?

I came home from last week's flyball practice downhearted, because I was starting to wonder whether it suits Penny's temperament.

We had won a ribbon, though.

Here is Penny with the ribbon she won at the RACV Australia Day flyball competition.

I thought maybe, just maybe, she looks a little embarrassed in this shot. We did come third, but it was the lowest division and there were only three teams in that division. But, hey! a ribbon is a ribbon and you have to celebrate.

But today has restored my enthusiasm, because Penny ran a clean run every time except once, and given that she ran about 21 times, that's pretty good. We actually won one heat and were super happy about that, and then later...da dum!... we won an event.

Which meant that this time, although we once again came third, we weren't last, because there were FOUR teams in our section!

Here's our trophy.

Towards the end Penny was going rather slowly, probably because she was tired.

Or, was she just tired of running backwards and forwards? Magically she came to life after the competition was over and raced around the empty oval chasing the great little squeaky toy she won as a prize. And when she ran into the creek to retrieve it she seemed energetic again.

Very mysterious.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

swimming with a water-skiing rope leash

When Penny and were spending the day in the Upper Yarra Valley today, we went across to the river for a swim, and we found it a scene of activity. A bunch of kids from a Melbourne school were canoeing down the river and a man was fishing. A bit surprising, as we usually have this spot to ourselves.

However, neither group had a problem with Penny swimming at the same time, so in she went, chasing her absolutely favorite floating toy, the Whirl Wheel. Given that she won't return it right to the bank, but stays in the shallow water waiting for me to throw another one, I always have two.

I had a terrible fright once, when Penny raced off from this swimming spot and crossed a busy highway, so I've been making sure she is on a floating lead when she swims.

Of course, I have to make sure it doesn't snag on anything, but this spot is a clear pool and not too deep for me to jump in if there's a problem. However, there is a little issue if Penny ends up in the water with two whirlwheels. She swims in circles, trying to 'herd' them in to shore.

It's amusing watching her circling around with the rope making a trail behind her.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

tail wagging in dogs

As Penny has become older she has become less interested in running around with other dogs. She seems to prefer people. Now that I've read an article saying it's possible to work out dogs' friendliness by observing which side they wag their tail on, I'm intending to watch her carefully next time we meet a strange dog. I'll have a look at the other dog's tail-wagging, also, to see whether I can work out which side they prefer.

For those with a scientific bent, there's a fun site at ScienceBuddies that explains how to conduct your own experiment into tail-wagging.

At the Pets site there's an extract from Dr Stanley Coren's book How To Speak Dog, explaining when and why puppies start to wag their tails and how dogs use tails as communication devices, and also for balance.

I've often seen Penny use her tail as a rudder when she's changing direction in the water. I've also noticed she holds her tail low when she's concentrating or focusing on an object of interest. (Like those pesky rats in our back yard that she hasn't managed to catch yet.)