Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bogs - A review

I am an impulse buyer. After spending a few years longing for, drooling over, researching and trying on different rain boots, one weekend I decided I had to have a pair right away. So I went shopping.

Bogs were my boot of choice and I've been enjoying them for the past two months. (This is a personal review, not a paid advertisement.)

These boots bring back a childhood joie de vivre. They allow you to take the direct route through a mud pit and let you stomp around simply to hear the squish. Water is just as fun, I splashed in the lake with temperatures hovering around freezing. Feet stayed warm. Dry.

It doesn't take much to amuse me.

You can walk for hours in comfort. Not something you can say about the Canadian Tire black boot special.

The boots aren't perfect. They do not handle ice well, combining them with YakTrax in slippery conditions would be a smart idea.

The looks. Not my top pick but I wanted comfort and practicality, style wasn't topping my list. The handles bug me as they take up valuable immersion inches. Not to mention that they make my legs look like those of an elephant, especially with my pants tucked in. There are other Bog styles that I may check out in the future.

They are warmer than I expected. This was a bonus for winter but I'm afraid they'll be too warm for summer. Since I only wear boots for tracking in the summer they'll probably be ok, and I think they have other styles for warmer weather.

While they are warm, (rated for -40˚F/C) I think I'd still chose my Sorels over the Bogs if I am standing stationary for long periods of time in winter. For any activity the Bogs win.

I was breaking through a thin layer of ice to get to this water. So much fun!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A totally unexpected fantastic surprise!

I've had a Geocaching Travel Bug in my possession for way to long, it was time to get it back out into circulation. Since I have been busy I decided to drop it in a cache I found a while ago on a local trail.

Nearing the remembered geocache zone my phone buzzed. Stopping on the main trail to read the text Lexis milled around. While focusing on the phone my dog left my sight. Glancing up I saw her on the other side of a tree... indicating the cache!

This was a totally unexpected fantastic surprise because:

- I hadn't asked for her to search, I wasn't even sure I had the right area of the forest.
- She hasn't had much training.
- She hasn't been caching (where I've asked her to participate) in a while.
- I had no intention of asking her to look and don't think I had given her any indication of why we were there (consciously or subconsciously) as I was immersed in my phone.

The cache had been found earlier that day and there were footprints leading up to it and fresh scent on the cache itself.

She smelled that trail, made the decision to follow it and indicated ALL ON HER OWN.

Wow. Things like this don't happen everyday. I put my phone away and as the Germans would say, we made a party!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I let my dog down.

Lexis has never been overly confident with other dogs. As a puppy she'd hackle from neck to tail, lunge and bark in quick staccato. She was unsure but forward about it. She's not a submissive dog and can be a bully so I have to add that into the equation as well.

I still haven't found the magical formula to deal with this quickly and effectively - if there even is one - so I did what I always do. I made it up as I went, rewarding what I liked, redirecting what I didn't and taking it one day at a time. My goal has been for her to have lots of neutral to positive interactions with dogs and I've been happy with her progress.

It's important to always be aware of what's going on around you.

When I take my two to the trails I'm constantly watching for loose dogs. If I have any concerns at all I will bushwhack to avoid a dog. Most of the time it is sufficient to down mine off the trail until a dog passes. Sometimes a dog will come over to investigate and I'll block their progress. Most people are good about this and call their dog (to the best of their ability). Once they pass I release my dogs and we continue on our way. I expect my dogs to be tolerant of strange dogs but see no need for them to interact with every dog we meet.

Which brings me to Sunday's walk with Lexis.

My free time was over so I was beelining it to my car. Coming around a bend I saw a family playing with a big male Shepherd up ahead. Stopping, I weighed my decision. Circle the pond (longer route) or pass the family? My pause to decide was too long.

The Shepherd turned, saw Lexis who was standing slightly ahead of me, dropped his stick and came at a dead run.

The number one rule in this situation is not to panic. The good news was that it happened so fast I didn't have time to panic. The bad news was that I didn't have time for anything else either. He slammed into Lex and postured over her shoulders, pushing into her with his chest. She tried to bolt and he was on her, biting at her neck and back as she was trying to get away. Those who have dogs will know what I mean when I say it happened fast, and they were moving away from me so I had no chance to dive in. (I know, I know. Reaching into this is a bad idea, but what else can you do???)

The man kept trying to grab his dog. The noise was awful. If I had been closer that dog would have received a few hard kicks from me but unfortunately I was too far away to be of any good. But I wasn't that far away, I should have moved faster.

The owner managed to snag his dog and pull him away and Lex hightailed it to me.

I was livid and told them to leash their dog since they had ZERO control over him. One of the little girls apologized, the man also mumbled an apology, and they leashed their dog... in my sight anyway.

As they walked away I checked Lex over for damage. Bites can be hard to spot under fur and they may not bleed. A dog bite can be like an iceburg, tiny on the surface with huge damage underneath the surface. She was clear, the Shepherd was more noise than bite thankfully.

After that I asked Lexis to find the toy she had dropped when this happened. She ran around, found it and we had a good game of tug. I was really happy with her at that point. I have no intention of holding on to this experience and I expect Lexis will move on quickly as well. We continued on our way.

Ultimately it is my job to keep my dogs safe which I failed at. But sometimes bad things happen. You deal with it and move on. I'm sure all of Lex's positive experiences up to this point will be beneficial, and I'm going to make sure I'm diligent to prevent any back-to-back episodes.

I'm just SO thankful I didn't have Bullet with me. Bullet would never start anything, but I guarantee he wouldn't back down if a dog came at him like that. Lexis didn't fight back. Bullet would have.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The overachieving German Shepherd

Last year – March 26th, 2010
Lexis was learning to swim.

This year – March 26th, 2011
Lexis is walking on water.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The nose knows.

There were a few times this winter when Bullet found a cache that other experienced cachers could not. He found There are 10 types of people in the world... immediately after we arrived at the Geocache Zone. Here is a snippet of the log reports. The blue sad faces on the logs mean the cacher Did Not Find (DNF). I have to admit reading the logs makes me laugh, click for big:

Another one, Mossy Rocks, gave people trouble before and after my find. The only reason I found it was because I had help. Bully's nose saved the day:

I'm looking forward to doing more caching this summer, with plans to bring out the mountain bike for some longer trail runs with the dogs. Lex will get more caching experience under her collar as well as learn to concentrate and search with Bullet there. With a two dog team I shouldn't have to log any DNFs... if only it were that easy :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Much too happy

Yes, Lexis is much too happy about this snow.

Well, spring HAD sprung...

See, here is the proof:

The snow was well on it's way to extinction. The calendar declared winter officially over... and if something is printed in ink it MUST be true. I opened my windows, aired the house out and enjoyed some forest walks without gloves and a toque. I even went into the garage and pulled out the patio chairs.

Then last night went and ruined it all. I woke up to my chairs covered in the white stuff:

(Lex is wondering what the big deal is but the Schnauzers agree with me. Good Schnauzers.)

It is still coming down.

One good thing about a spring snow storm is that you know it won't last long. As long as my Matrix doesn't become a bumper car I'll make it through. Maybe I should get out my skis for the first time this year? Actually, that's not a bad idea!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

RIP Buddy

We stumbled upon this newly erected memorial in the forest today. Ashes were scattered at the base of the tree next to a trail used by mountain bikers.

Heart wrenching. Buddy was a lucky dog.

GSD collage

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daycare Fail

Through the fence:

Blech. I'm sorry I looked.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mmmmmmm, delicious!

The perfect meal for an early St. Patricks day, I made this Irish stew with lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions and Guinness. I had three lamb shanks kicking around that I threw in the mix.

We washed it down with the rest of the Guinness.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I HEART Bullet

This video demonstrates a few reasons I love Bullet so much. Watch how he plays with Lexis, and more importantly, his reaction to the dogs behind us. He's awesome.

I have never allowed any of my dogs to even think of fence fighting. They start barking, posturing or obsessing in any way at a dog they are brought inside immediately. Every single time, from day one. Sure, it takes time and dedication with each dog but eventually it pays off and the effort is SO worth it in the end.

The dog freaking out at the fence is still a puppy (I'm guessing he was born last summer because he showed up in the late fall/early winter at around 8 weeks old).

The woman runs an in-home day care... Um, yeah. Red flags are flapping in my head.

Boy-oh-boy. I sure am looking forward to summertime when I get to spend hours in my garden next to this. I'm hoping the Mennonite Mongrel becomes used to my presence and stops his barking and lunging on the fence, but both dogs have endurance. *sigh*

As an added bonus I own the fence, the neighbours had a chain link up on their side until they ripped it out this fall. The wooden fence is old and not very well constructed to begin with, and when you combine the erosion of the dog claws and their weights being hurled against the boards I'm worried it's not going to last much longer. I don't have the funds to replace a fence this year so I'm choosing not to think about it and have gone into avoidance.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Facetime for Minigo

If you click play, you'll get to watch 32 seconds of cuteness – Minigo bouncing and spinning around waiting for me to throw her ball. That's all it is.

A few years back there was an incredibly annoying commercial for Yoplait Minigo Yogurt. Whenever it came on I'd sing "Minigo-minigo-minigo!" along with it and Glory would get excited and jump all over me. The name stuck and was pretty perfect, since I already called her our Mini-Giant Schnauzer and "Go".

I've searched the web for a video of the old campaign with the bear but can't find it. (I predict someone who played a part in the creation of that ad removed all traces out of embarrassment.) The newer campaign isn't much better... less irritating, but boring.