Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Merrick Backcountry Jerky Treats

Working with is one of the highlights of my month. I get to try out some great new products with my dogs or cats, and then I get to share them with all of my readers. Yes, I get a product provided to me in exchange for writing a review. But the opinions of those products, those are all me.

With that said, this month, I tried out Merrick Backcountry Jerky treats, in the Pacific Catch Real Salmon variety. Now, in interest of full honesty, I will tell you straight off that these treats stink. Bad. I mean, they don't smell off or like something is wrong with them. They just smell very, very fishy. So if you are super sensitive to smells, you might want to skip these or try one of the other flavors. However, stinky treats certainly have their place. Super stinky treats are a great high value, attention getting treat for dogs who need extra motivation to engage in training. The dog can smell the treats extremely well, and may work harder to earn them since they smell so good.

The texture of these was really nice. It was easy to rip into smaller pieces to use a small treats. I brought them along to a flyball tournament this past weekend, and used them for Koira's warm up routine, which involves both static stretches as well as active stretches and warm ups, like touching nose to hip on each side, using a treat to lure the behavior and encourage length of time on the stretch. She also bows, sit pretty and waves, backs up, spins both directions, and does a few other tricks. The point is both to warm up to prevent injury, and also to distract her enough that she doesn't lose a bunch of energy barking impatiently to go into the ring.

Koira chilling in my chair after racing 

I didn't actually get a chance to grab pictures of the treats themselves. They just look pretty much like jerky, and the strips are about as long as my hand. The bag has a good number in it, plenty for warm up and cool downs all weekend, plus some extra treats here and there because she looks so cute.

Overall, I'd recommend these treats. They aren't super expensive at $8.99 right now, though they aren't a rock bottom price either. But they are made with good quality ingredients and are a pretty high value treat for most dogs. I tried them on Koira, of course, but also a few of the other dogs on my flyball team, and everyone loved them. And despite the strong smell, I didn't feel like they left my hands smelling nasty after handling them, which is a plus.

And sorry for the quality of the pictures from the tournament. These ones were grabbed with my cell phone, because Koira was being just so cute.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Water Fun

We're enjoying a bit of a last surge of summer here this month. We still have days in the upper 70s and lower 80s, but the nights are cool. We've been starting to get some rain, which is desperately needed. The entire Pacific Northwest is in a drought this year, and we can only hope that we get enough rain and snow this fall and winter to make up for it, and enough snowpack in the mountains to keep the reservoirs full and rivers running strong next summer.

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Throw it!

In the meantime, though, we are enjoying the warm weather while it lasts, and getting in plenty of time playing in those streams and rivers that have enough water to be fun.

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Hi mom!

Koira really loves the river. Even a dinky little stream like this one is enough for her to get excited. She'll fetch sticks all day if you throw them (though she may just stand on the other bank and chew them up instead of bringing them back).

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Om nom nom

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Must. Chew. Into. Tiny. Bits.

She does love deathing a stick. I think it must be a breed trait. And while she loves to fetch, she sometimes isn't all that great at bringing the stick back, or giving it back if she does bring it.

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Dis mine

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You cannot have.

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Teeth. (I find her missing canine totally adorable, though I hope fervently that she doesn't lose any more.)

Even little tiny sticks are a source of resistance.

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Since she enjoys chewing up the sticks so much, she often won't even come straight back. Which means I don't get any fun pictures of her leaping through the water back to me. So instead of sticks, I throw a few rocks. She can't get them in the deep water, so she comes straight back to me, giving those awesome picture opportunities.

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Boing! She loves bounding through the water. I think she likes the splashes she makes.

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So much happy.

Unfortunately, she does have a thing for rocks. I don't mind her chasing them, but I try to keep her from picking them up. Sometimes easier said than done, since she will dive underwater to grab them.

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Snorkeling away.

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See the rock she managed to snatch?

Of course, then she gets water in her ears and the shaking starts.

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This way.

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And every way

Once Koira gets obsessive about rocks and starts picking them up, we leave pretty soon. I don't want her breaking teeth on them. And while you could say me tossing rocks into the river to get a good picture contributes to this (and it might a little), Koira gets obsessive about rocks at the river easily and all by herself. And at the beach, for that matter. She loves picking up and carrying around rocks. Silly girl.

I will say that the gentle shaded light at this stream was amazing. I just love the photos I was able to get of Koira having fun this summer. As she gets older, I value the great pictures of her more and more.

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My little baby girl. Seven years old, but athletic, in shape, and ready to enjoy life for many years to come.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


This past weekend, I took a spur of the moment trip to Washington. Dogapalooza was happening at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds as a fundraiser for the local humane society, and there was a flyball demo. I wasn't originally planning to go, but when a teammate said they were going and said they had room for me, I thought it would be a great way to spend the day.

I picked up Pallo early in the morning and met my teammate in Salem, then we drove together to Longview, WA, arriving at 10 am. There was a farmer's market across the street, which was a fun little diversion while we waited for the rest of the flyball people to arrive. And then the fun started.

First up, I took Pallo over to the "musical chairs" competition. Basically, a bunch of dogs were in a fenced area walking in a circle to music, and the last dog to sit when the music turned off was out. We lasted until the last half or so, but then Pallo decided sitting was stoopid. But, our teammate Chester ended up winning!

Then, we put together a bit of a flyball demo. I boxloaded for one of the three dog lineups. Most of our dogs did really well. They tend to somehow know when we do demos and pull lots of stupid stuff like running around jumps that they would never normally do, but there wasn't much of that. Even though Pallo is retired from flyball, I did bring him out to run in a singles race against Henry, an adorable little tailed corgi who looks a lot like Pallo. Henry had a few "moments" during the singles, but Pallo was his normal reliable self, only spinning on the last of four heats (he did the same in our afternoon demo too, I think 3 heats is his limit before a spin hits).

Then I brought out Koira to do some drills. While she is on Glycoflex Plus to help increase her range of motion and decrease arthritis related pain (check out my blog post last week about how you can try a month of Glycoflex for free), I also am doing some training to improve her confidence.

This drill is meant to increase Koira's drive to the box by placing the reward (me with a tug) at the box. The idea is that she will drive faster towards the box that way. I reward right after her box turn.

So far, it seems like this drill is really helping her. You can see in the video that she double strided in the first run, but then single strided in the others. I did cut out some of the video, and we didn't video all of the runs, but overall, I'd say that by the end she was single striding 4/5 runs. Hopefully we'll be able to stay successful with the upcoming tournament this weekend.

After we did the flyball demo, Koira went over and competed for Best Kisser (she came in 3rd) and I helped a flyball friend with three jack russells bring her dogs over to the lure coursing set up. There wasn't a ton of room for the coursing, so I didn't bring my dogs, afraid that on such a tight twisty course they would injure themselves. The jacks did great, and were kind of terrors while waiting, screeching and hollering the whole time.

A second flyball demo was thrown in there at some point, and I again boxloaded, ran Pallo in singles, and ran drills with Koira. It was actually the second time around that we ran the drills with Koira that I asked someone to video. The first session we didn't have a dog for Koira to pass on the way in, but I think it is a good addition to the drill, since Koira likely will be passing at the tournament, at least some of the time.

The end of the day was the Low Rider race. Pallo is the reigning champ. He smoked the competition in his first heat, and was easily into the finals. The finals was four dogs- Pallo, Henry (the corgi he was running singles against), Chester (the other corgi on my team), and one other corgi. Pallo managed to defend his title, but by the skin on his nose. Henry was a super close second, followed by Chester, and then the other corgi. Against the flyball dogs, the other corgi didn't have much of a chance, but for your average pet dog, he did have an awesome recall.

The day was long, but fun. A long drive home at the end of it wasn't too awesome, but it was nice to get home early enough to relax, take a walk, and go to bed early.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Barn Hunt

I entered Koira in an official Barn Hunt trial for the first time this past weekend. We did Instinct and Novice in the morning trial, and just Novice in the afternoon trial on Saturday. Unfortunately since I was the one taking pictures at the trial, I don't have any pictures of Koira's runs. But I did toss in a few pictures of other dogs at the trial.

You can see the PVC tubes used in Barn Hunt here. They have plenty of air holes in them, are large enough for the rats to turn around and get comfy, but small enough that the rats don't get rattled around too much if the tube gets knocked off of a bale of straw. This is a mini schnauzer who was running Instinct in the morning.

In Barn Hunt, dogs are supposed to find rats and ignore bedding, and the handler has to tell the judge when the dog has found a rat. The rats are safe and secure inside of a heavy duty PVC tube, and they actually seem to like it, as they will happily hop into the tube if it is placed into their cage. The lowest level in Barn Hunt is Instinct. In Instinct, there are three tubes. One tube it totally empty and has never had anything in it. One tube has rat bedding but no rat. And then the third tube has a rat and some bedding. The goal is for the dog to indicate to the handler which tube has the rat.
Koira mauled all three tubes in Instinct and I called the wrong one as the rat (even though I called the only one she hit twice). She really goes to town on the tubes, biting and hitting them around. I can't let her do that for too long to a tube because if there is a rat in there, we have to make sure the rat isn't being injured by the tube being thrown around. So if the dog hits a tube hard, and you can't call them away to search the other tubes, you pretty much have to call it as a rat or get a DQ. Safety for the rats is very important- most of the rats used are household pets. 
In Novice, which you can run in the same trial as Instinct, there are the same three tubes, empty, bedding, and rat, but instead of the tubes being laid out on the ground, they are hidden in the straw around the course. The dog has to sniff the tubes out. They are also required in Novice to go through a tunnel made by the straw, and to get all four feet up on a bale, called a climb. These events are timed, so you have to do all of it quickly.
Koira hit a tube hard in Novice so I called it, but again, not the rat. I don't know if it was the bedding tube or the totally empty one. She was really into it though, which is why I called it. She did do both her tunnel and her climb before hitting the tube, and was up and excited and eager to search.

Dogs of any size and any age over 6 months can compete, regardless of breed, as long as they can fit through the tunnel. I've even seen Great Danes do Barn Hunt, though they have to belly crawl through the tunnel. This is a young Malinois who was in heat at the trial. Bitches in season can compete, but have to run at the end of their class and have to wear panties.

Our afternoon Novice run, I tried staying totally quiet. People told me I was talking a lot during our morning runs, which can distract the dog. The result was that Koira didn't take the tunnel and didn't get a climb. She hit one tube hard, I called her away to keep searching, she hit another tube hard, I called that one as the rat (because why not?), but no. Neither of those tubes held rats (and since both of them were buried in straw and she had to find and dig them out, and one had to be totally empty, I can't help but assume she is actually scenting for the PVC the tubes are made out of, or the paint on them, rather than for rats or rat bedding). Staying quiet on my part seemed to result in a very flat dog in the ring, who attempted to leave twice, so I don't think we'll be doing that again. The goal after all is for us to have fun, and Koira has always worked better and happier and more "up" in training with verbal feedback from me. So no Qs for our day. 

Koira had fun for the most part, and if we get a chance to do some practice, we may enter another trial in the future. Without practice, though, I think entering trials would be pointless because Koira needs to learn what the goal of the game is. Right now she thinks she is just supposed to find PVC tubes. She needs to learn that she is supposed to find rats in tubes and ignore the other tubes. For that I need some rats and some tubes though, so we'll see if I'm able to do any practice or training. 

This smooth Fox Terrier was an awesome dog. I've never met a smooth fox before, and I kind of fell in love with the breed, all three of the ones at the trial were just adorable, amazing, friendly dogs. You can also see in this picture the grating at the end of the tube, which gives the rat plenty of airflow.

I also did photos for the morning trial, and for a small part of the afternoon trial, but Koira decided to be a Bad Dog and dig madly and chew on the bars of her crate. Since it was too hot to put her in the car even with shades up, we headed home early. I headed back on Sunday, minus the dog, to take photos for the morning trial and part of the afternoon trial. I left Koira at home, since it was supposed to be hot again and we weren't entered in the trial. I knew she'd have fun if we did enter, but like I said before, I think she really needs to do some practice before we blow money entering trials.

I have been photographing Barn Hunt for a year and a half at this point, and I have to say, it is a fun, enjoyable sport. The dogs seem to love it, and there is a big amount of teamwork needed. And, unlike pretty much every other sport, where the handler is the head of the team, in Barn Hunt, the dog is the head of the team, and the handler has to take cues from the dog. I think it gives the dogs a unique experience different from a lot of the other stuff we do with them on a regular basis.

Has anyone else tried Barn Hunt? How did your dogs do?

Monday, September 14, 2015

GlycoFlex Challenge Launches Today

Do you use glucosamine or other supplements for your dogs? I know a lot of people do, for various reasons. Most common, people use glucosamine to help with the pain and inflexibility of joints with arthritis. Some people use it preventatively in dogs without evidence, or without severe evidence, of pain or trouble moving around. Most people I know in the dog sport world use glucosamine or other supplements for their active dogs, even the ones who are quite young.

VetriScience, the company who produces Glycoflex, has a new product out now, Glycoflex Plus. Glycoflex Plus is a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, Perna, DMG, MSM and important antioxidants and has been shown in trials to improve hind leg strength by 41% in just four weeks. And now, Vetriscience wants to prove it to you. You can sign up for the GlycoFlex Challenge and be sent a month's worth of GlycoFlex Plus to try with your dog.

Signing up is simple. You just need to take a video of your dog that shows their hind end weakness, then go to and upload the video. Fill out the information and request your free product. When the GlycoFlex Plus arrives, start using it according to the feeding instructions. At the end of a month, take and post a follow up video showing your dog's hind end movement and strength after a month on GlycoFlex Plus.

This video above is Koira's before video. The double striding she shows on the way to the box is new for her within the past few months. While it is hard to pinpoint an exact cause, chances are pretty good that it is a combination of not pushing off with her rear, not extending her fore (due to old injuries in the right front), and possibly some confidence issues. We'll be addressing the confidence issues with some drills in practice. And I have her on GlycoFlex Plus now, to see if adding a high quality supplement makes a difference. I am looking forward to seeing if we can improve her strength and flexibility through supplementation and training.

As we go further with this challenge, I will post updates on how the Glycoflex seems to be working. And while we did receive Glycoflex Plus in exchange for trying it out and helping to promote the GlycoFlex Challenge, our honest opinions and honest experiences are what is going to be shared on the blog. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Black and White Sunday: Ziva

One more photo from last weekend's fun match at the Oregon State Fair.

Ball with a dog in its face

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fit Friday: Dock Diving

I already shared some pictures I took of other dogs dock diving at the fair last weekend. Well, I did take Koira up on the dock for the "give it a try" session. Since I was there for a flyball demo, I didn't want to enter an official wave. And Koira doesn't know the difference anyway.

One of my flyball teammates (Sophie's mom, if you remember the little Jack Russel I shared a photo of earlier this week) was nice enough to video our jumps for us.

Koira broke her stays a few times to start with. I reset her closer up finally, and went from there. And I was very proud that she held her stay at all. We've been doing a lot of work with impulse control, and I think it is paying off. On our second jump, Koira didn't break her stay at all.

She isn't a super long jumping dog, but she obviously loves this sport. She'll jump here in front of crowds into a pool, into our pool at home, or into the river. It is all the same to her, she just loves it. And I love that dock diving is essentially a low impact sport. Other than the impact of running and of climbing up the ramp at the end, there aren't any pressures or impacts on the joints.

Koira was doing the distance jumping here, but you can see in this video below (taken by X-Treme AirDogs) that even when dogs are doing the vertical jumping and hitting the water with more vertical force, that they still don't hit the bottom of the pool.

Overall, we really enjoy dock diving, both at the river and in competition settings. Though I have to say, I think Koira has a little more fun than I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dock Diving at the Oregon State Fair

While I was at the fair on Sunday to help with the flyball fun match and demo, there was also dock diving going on just a tiny bit away. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite photos that I took.

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I love how much they both look like they are having fun.

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This dog won this division, despite being the smallest.

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This is Force, the Dutch Shepherd that we've previously mentioned from straight racing a few months ago

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And this dog was simply the best dressed dog there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Flyball Teammates

On Sunday, my flyball club hosted a Fun Match at the Oregon State Fair. While there, I played around with my camera some, and wanted to get pictures of some of the new up-and-coming members of our flyball team.

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Little Sophie, the shorted Jack Russel I've ever met, and a total sweetheart

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Blitz, a Schipperke, and a little ball of crazy energy

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Ziva, from DZDogs fame, who was a bit nervous about being at the fair, but did very well anyway

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And Trix isn't new, she is a veteran, but could YOU have resisted this face?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chuck-It Ball Warning

This is more along the lines of not-so-tasty-Tuesday, but I think the word needs to go out.

A friend of mine has Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Her dogs are totally crazy little balls of muscle. Tess is her oldest, and is by far the most standoffish of her dogs. Which is to say, she's okay with being petted, but she won't fling herself at people to make the petting happen. Pirate is violently affectionate and absolutely loves attention. The puppy, Mercy, is much like Pirate, in that people are awesome and exist to pet the dog and be licked. Pirate and Tess are both active in agility and barn hunt as well as doing breed showing.

Mercy Facebook-5036
Puppy Mercy

At a show two weekends ago, my friend noticed that Pirate was acting a little off. He puked a few times on Thursday, but he has been known to get car sick, so she didn't think too much of it at first. He didn't seem to be sick. By Sunday, though, he was seriously "off" for him, not wanting to eat and not making much effort to get everyone to love on him.

They began a rather horrible week long journey of vet visits, IV fluids, anti-nausea injections, and antibiotics. X-rays didn't show a clear blockage, but since Pirate is low in belly fat, x-rays are harder to read on him. And of course, there are materials that don't show up well on x-rays anyway. By Wednesday afternoon, they made the decision to do an exploratory surgery on Pirate to see if they could find and remove a blockage that they thought may perhaps be in there.

Chuck-It Ball
Pirate before, during, and after this ordeal

Turns out, he did indeed have a blockage, and they were able to safely remove it. My friend posted a picture and description of the item on Facebook, and asked if anyone had an idea of what it could be. Pirate is not prone to eating non-food items, so it was very out of character for him to have eaten what appeared to be a rubber plug of some kind.

I actually tentatively suggested that the plug was from a rubber Chuck-It ball, and asked if she could clean it up a bit more (the only picture was with it still grimy with stomach crud). It looked like the right shape, and I knew that Pirate loved those balls. Sadly, it turns out that I was right.

Chuck-It Ball
Hard to believe this little piece of rubber caused all these problems

The only reason I had any idea what this piece was was because my dogs removed the plug from a chuck-it ball earlier this year. At the time, I was more worried about their tongues being able to get inside the ball and potentially stuck, since it only had the one hole where the plug came out (toys with only one hole have been in the news lately because of a dog who died after their tongue became stuck inside the toy and blood supply was cut off, leaving the owners with the choice of amputating the tongue or putting their dog down). I threw away the plug and removed the ball from the ones my dogs are allowed to play with. But it stuck in my brain enough to recognize it, especially once the piece removed from Pirate was cleaned up and was revealed to be orange- the same orange as a chuck-it ball, in fact.

Fortunately, Pirate is making a good recovery after his surgery last week. He still has staples in. He won't be able to compete in Barn Hunt this weekend due to activity restriction. But in the long run, he should be just fine. Unfortunately, it took $3,800 in vet bills to take care of this situation. And not many people I know of can just sneeze at that amount of money, though my friend will happily pay it in order to have her dog healthy.

Chuck-It was contacted by her with her concerns after this happened. What she really wanted was a response from them to her suggestion that they make the plug in these balls smaller, so it would pose less risk to a dog if it were accidentally swallowed. (We don't believe Pirate deliberately ate this. He most likely was chewing on it a bit and the plug popped out into his mouth, and it was just easier to swallow than to spit it out.) The company has, as yet, not responded in any way.

I know a lot of people use these rubber chuck-it balls as a safer and more durable alternative to tennis balls. The fuzz on tennis balls can wear down teeth, and tennis balls are easily broken and pulled apart, even in the course of casual play. But when this was posted about on Facebook, most people had no idea that these balls even had a plug that could come out. And Pirate's owner, and I, think that people should be aware of this.

I'm not saying to never use these balls. But I am saying that you should be aware of this potential danger. I never let my dogs have these unless we are actively playing with them, and I can easily see if one of the plugs were to come out and potentially be swallowed, before it caused all the issues that Pirate had to go through.

And it would be nice if the company responded.

Update: When sharing this story on Facebook, Pirate's owner was contacted by a woman with a 75 lb dog who also had an obstruction from the plug in this ball, in July of this year. So this is obviously not a problem limited to small dogs like Pirate (37 lbs).