Sunday, July 31, 2016

Black and White Sunday: Box Turns

My new flyball team did a photoshoot with all of our dogs for some promotional material. Awesome side effect- I ended up with new and awesome photos of my dogs doing flyball.

A teammate ran Koira while I took pictures. I love that she is solid when run by someone else, and that all our hard work on her box turn over the years has paid off. Her turn isn't awesome, but it is so, so, so much better than it was!

A teammate took Ptera's pictures with my camera while I ran her. There is a prop in front of the box (you can see it in the lower right corner just barely), but Ptera now has a box turn! We're working on cleaning it up so it is fast and snappy now.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Chewy Review: Merrick Lil' Plates

This month, sent us Merrick Lil' Plates to try out and review.

Lil' Plates are specifically made for small breed dogs, and come in a huge variety of flavors. We tried Rascally Rabbit Stew, which was a seriously big hit.

Ptera and Koira have been doing so much lately that they are both hard to keep at a good weight. Koira is constantly borderline too thin, and Ptera got a bit too thin earlier this month as well. Neither of them lacks any motivation to eat, and both love food a ton, but I thought that a little something as a special breakfast might help both with their weight, and by giving them some variety.

The 3.5 ounce size is pretty perfect for Ptera. It is just enough extra food to help keep her weight on when she is extra active, without being too much. For Koira, who is significantly over the weight that these are meant for, it is just a little bit of a treat more than anything, but she really loves it, and I feel like it is mean to give Ptera something that smells so good without giving any to Koira.

I actually went camping with a couple friends, and gave one of their dogs the container to lick out- and he snatched it and hid in his crate licking it clean, and didn't want to give it up even after it was completely cleaned out. So I call it a win in flavor for sure.

And of course, Merrick is a great company with great ingredients. The food itself is in large, recognizable chunks (not just generic brown chunks in generic brown gravy, but actual chunks that look like meat, vegetables, etc). There are no ingredients that I wouldn't want to feed to my dogs on a regular basis. And cost-wise, it is a little on the higher side (though reasonable enough given the quality), but the convenience of not having to get out a spoon and keep an opened can in the fridge is well worth it, especially when camping or traveling. sent us Merrick Lil' Plates in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Chewy Review: Kong Cat Wobbler

Koira eats out of a Kong Wobbler often when she has kibble. I love that it makes meal time last, gives her some entertainment, and makes her active for a little while. Some days, when I am super busy, or sick, feeding her out of the Wobbler makes me feel less like a horrible pet parent for not taking her out for actual play or walk time. And she just loves the Wobbler, so often gets it even when walks and playtime do happen.

All of that to say that when offered me the opportunity to try out the Kong Cat Wobbler, I was pretty excited. Theodore is a bit of a pig when it comes to eating. I normally put his food into a food puzzle bowl (the same purple ones I use for the dogs) where he has to fish it out with his foot, one kibble at a time, or put the food just scattered inside a cardboard box, so he can't just chow down on food in a bowl.

The tail on the top of the Cat Wobbler was an immediate hit when the toy was empty, and Theodore Trex basically fell in love with it. Unfortunately, when I stuck food in it, he lost all interest in the tail completely and just tried to push his nose or paw through the hole to get the food. I found the base of the Cat Wobbler to be really heavy, and it seemed like rather than tip over, it scooted when Theo messed with it. He ended up getting frustrated and walking away. So ultimately it didn't work great for him, though I am sure there are cats who absolutely love it.

But, since I had this new toy, I figured I would try it with Ptera. She has never been able to figure out the Kong Wobbler we have, but I thought the tail on the top might be tempting. And I was right. With a little encouragement, she figured out how to hold onto the tail in her mouth and paw the toy so that it would spin and release some food. Rinse, repeat. The tail did end up falling off after about 20 minutes of Ptera using it, but it is not exactly designed for jack russells to use, and I doubt your average cat would cause that much damage to it. Bonus though, Ptera learned how to use the Kong Wobbler by interacting with the Cat Wobbler like this. Which means that both Koira and Ptera can get Wobbler meals and entertain themselves for a little while.

Ultimately, I think this is a good toy. It might be too heavy for small cats, or cats who give up easily. But I found it to be great for teaching a puppy how to play with a food toy that she previously was totally baffled by. I was a little surprised when I got it and the Cat Wobbler was the same size as the Kong Wobbler for dogs that I already had (I have the smaller of the two dog sizes). And I plan on repairing the tail and seeing if I can teach Theo how to use it with a little more time, because I think he really would like it if he figured it out. And at less than $8 right now, I figure it is worth trying out.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Pool Fun

With summer finally arrived in Oregon (not that I was complaining about our mild and somewhat wet weather while we had it), and our pool set up in the yard, the dogs are going out every afternoon for a bit of swimming.

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Both dogs like balls, which makes it easy to get them motivated to get in the water and swim around. With the ramp giving them easy access to the pool, they jump in, swim around, and get out as they feel like it, while I throw their ball for them to have a bit more motivation.

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Koira has a bit of a problem of trying to steal Ptera's ball. Which isn't an issue except that Koira will try this even when the ball is in Ptera's mouth (and while Koira's ball is still floating in the pool), which has resulted in the puppy going under water a few times. We're working on it, and I stay in the pool with them to supervise and make sure things are safe.

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I love that even in super hot weather, having a pool means the dogs get to exercise as much as we want. I don't have to worry about them overheating, or about the pavement burning their paws, or us not having enough water along on a walk or hike. In fact, I actually have to make sure they stay warm enough, since the water is pleasantly cool and if there is a breeze (especially in the evening when the yard is in shade), the dogs can start shivering.

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Ptera was very unsure about water when she first came home. I am happy to say that that is no longer the case. She doesn't absolutely love water like Koira yet, but she happily jumps in to get her ball. She is learning how to go to the ramp to get out of the pool, and her confidence seems to be growing every time.

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The biggest struggle I have is when the dogs get their balls and then go down the ramp outside the pool, then drop their ball out in the yard. At least 50% of the time, Koira won't bring her ball back. And Ptera doesn't seem to realize she can climb the ramp with a ball in her mouth. So I spend a good deal of time climbing in and out of the pool to retrieve abandoned balls. Which gets frustrating for me, because that isn't really the fun part of things. So I generally end up ending the swimming sessions because they keep leaving the balls in the yard and I am getting frustrated and don't want to take it out on them. Even so, we all spend a good deal of time in the pool before it becomes an issue, and I try to head them off by grabbing the ball as they go up the ramp or just as they arrive at the platform at the top of the ramp.

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Snatching the ball before she drops it out into the yard.

As we play in the pool more and more, the dogs get the system down, and figure out how things work. They figure out where the ramp is to enter the pool, they swim directly to the ramp to exit the pool, and they turn around when they get on the platform, excited for the next throw of the ball.

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And while Ptera might be new to swimming, she is doing great with it. Not just her confidence in going into the water, though that is going up, but in her actual swimming ability. In the pool, I tend to alternate having life jackets on and swimming without them, so that the dogs learn both how to function with them on (for our river trips), and how to have a good, effective swimming stroke without them. And something I love about the GoPro is that it gives me a chance not just to take adorable pictures of the dogs in water, but I can get some adorable shots showing exactly what the dogs are doing underwater.

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I need to get a good picture of Koira underwater too, but for now, Ptera's underwater power stroke is absolutely adorable.

Are you surviving the summer heat? Do your dogs like to swim to cool down?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Beating the Heat

I finally have the pool set up, with a custom pool ladder/ramp set up for the dogs to easily get into and out of the pool. Just in time for the first temps in the 90s since the beginning of June.

Impatiently waiting at the top of the ladder for the next throw of the ball

Easy exit from the pool is essential for safety, as is training the dog to go automatically to the ramp when they want out of the pool

Both dogs find this ramp super easy to use, and Koira remembered her training from last summer and went immediately to the ramp every time.

Swimming swimming swimming

My little landsharks, becoming water sharks.

Water brings out a bit of the crazy in Koira

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: My Little Blueberry Picker

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She isn't so good at getting them in the bucket

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Squish the berry

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Then taste to make sure it is ripe

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Just almost out of reach

Does your dog pick berries? Ptera will pick raspberries, marionberries, and blueberries. Now that the blackberries are starting to ripen, I'll have to see if she picks those too. Koira is pickier and sticks to raspberries and blackberries, though she's never been to a blueberry u-pick place, so maybe she would pick blueberries too.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tournament Weekend

We are off to a flyball tournament in Salem, OR. It is part of the Marion County Fair at the State Fairgrounds, and flyball is just one of the many attractions. Stop by if you want to check out flyball in person.

While we head off to flyball, enjoy a lure coursing poodle in show coat.


And a corgi at full stretch.


Lots of lure coursing fun was had last weekend.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th on the Water

Much like last year, I decided to spent the 4th on the water with friends.

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This was Ptera's first time on the SUP. She is a confident dog, so I wasn't too worried about her.

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Koira is a bit on the crazy side when it comes to paddleboarding. She likes to leap off the SUP and swim after the kayaks, bite the front of the various boats, and bite the paddles as they go by. And then she asks to come back up on the board to start all over again.

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Ptera actually jumped in after Koira a good number of times. She also fearlessly swam between the SUP and the kayaks, rode in every boat we had, and would jump back and forth between them when we were close enough together.

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My fearless little girls had a great time. I just hope Koira doesn't teach Ptera to be totally crazy while on the water- she is already teaching Ptera to bark loudly when she wants something exciting to happen.

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With a SUP, my kayak, and a borrowed kayak, we managed to have a great two hours on the water, despite car troubles my friend had that could have totally derailed our plans and ruined the fun, if we had let them.

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How did you spend the 4th? Have you kayaked or SUPed with your dog?