Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Importance of Mastering the Art of the Walk

The below section is from Cesar Millan. This gave me a idea of how walking Chloe and Bailey on leash for long distances helps them.

In his first book he talked about how a homeless person's dog is so well behaved.

So at least three times a week we walk on leash for one or two hours. At least once a week we walk downtown Walnut Creek so they are comfortable with traffic and people.

I figure Chloe and I have logged 600 miles in the last 22 months of leash-time walking. Bailey has about half that. They both must stay on my left and just behind or to my side. Bailey, being the young gentledog he is, stays to the outside to protect his older sister.

"The single most powerful tool we have for bonding with our dogs is the walk. Walking is a primal exercise that awakens all of her pack instincts. No amount of toys or treats will make her happier than a brisk, hourly walk by your side. Yet the walk is one area where dog owners seem to have the most problems. Most people have the dog out in front, pulling them forward. I’ve asked the reason for this and I usually get, “She loves her freedom.” Freedom?

A dog is a pack animal and what she really wants from the walk is leadership and structure. To me, the best role models for great dog walking technique are the homeless and the service dog-using handicapped! Why? They seem to better understand the concept of canine pack leadership. The leader is always in front during the walk. And for many homeless, their dogs often aren’t even on a leash – they choose to stay behind or beside their owners.

Of course a dog wants to sniff the ground and pee on a tree during the walk, but it is important that we as pack leaders understand that we should be making the “when and where” decisions for them. Following our rules gives the dog confidence because she’s working for every privilege she gets." - Cesar Millan

Monday, June 29, 2009

Coloma Resort along the American River

October of 2008 we returned to Coloma Resort to enjoy the fall in the foothills. Chloe was now over a year old and Bailey was four months.
The weather was perfect as we picked a spot right along the banks of the American River to back up the Aero Cruiser. After setting up camp we explored the river with the dogs.

Coloma Resort is very dog friendly and while the dogs needed to be on leash in the park, along the banks they were free to run and explore. The owners of the resort go out of their way to make you feel at home.

Earlier in the summer we had come to the resort. It is more crowded in the summer and had to park "in the back area". We did enjoy running the class two rapids in a 12 foot raft with Chloe for about 3 miles of river.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Napa River dog wonderland

105 degrees here in Walnut Creek this afternoon (Sunday). Made the plan to escape the heat in the boat. At 7:30 this morning, out the driveway we went with boat in tow heading towards the launching ramp in Martinez. By 8am we were on the water in the Carquinez Straits headed towards the Napa river inlet. Of course both the dogs had their life jackets on.

Up through Vallejo and up about 15 miles of river to the John F. Kennedy park.

At the park's launching ramp we docked our '82 Malibu day cruiser. The boat run up the river was smooth. The cooler temperatures along the river were wonderful. An hour after leaving Martinez Marina we were enjoying the park.

The dogs are off-leash along the river (later we found this was a new ticketed offense). Here they played for a couple hours in the water and along the shoreline. A great hidden treasure for dogs and dog lovers (even with leashes on). Even better if you can get there in a boat.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's an honor

Our training today had to do with the amazing dog behavior of "honoring."

Sandy (our trainer Joe's dog) in on point, having found a bird. Bailey is "honoring" Sandy's point by not moving. We had them hold this postition for about four minutes. Neither moved a muscle until Joe flushed the bird. It amazing to watch dogs practicing this. In field trials this is mandatory for dogs to honor each other's points. Our youngest daughter practiced ballet for years and field trial training reminds me of the hours of practice to "get it just right."

Joe is one great trainer. I'm glad to be working with such a master.

The field was almost ready for harvest with rye grass. It was three feet high. Great Saturday morning. Bailey found and retrieved all three birds in the deep, tall grass.

He is turning out to be quite the hunter.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Carquinez Straits

Just west of the City of Martinez is a road called Carquinez Scenic Road.

Back in the early '80's, landslides took out sections of the road and the county never reopened the road. Now it is a 2-mile trail that makes a wonderful off-leash walk for dogs. Most of the road is still there even though it has not been maintained for 20+ years.

Half way along the walk a bike rider came over a ridge. I asked, "What's behind that ridge?"
"A little pond," he said, "and don't worry about the no trespassing signs."

So the dogs took a little illegal dip. They loved it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why God Made Dogs - Poem

When God had made the Earth and Sky, the flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals, and all the birds and bees.
And when His work was finished, not one was quite the same,
He said, "I'll walk the Earth of mine, and give each one a name."
And so He traveled land and sea, and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him, until it's strength was spent.
When all were named upon the Earth,
and in the sky and sea, the little creature said,
"Dear Lord, there's not one left for me."
The Father smiled and softly said, "I've left you 'til the end,
I've turned my name from back to front, and called you DOG, my friend."

Author unknown

Chloe and the Columbia Gorge

There are many places in the Northwest that are worth the drive.

When you make it into the Portland, Oregon area, take the drive east into the Columbia Gorge and take the Old Highway. This area has some of God's most beautiful creations.

Here Joanie and Chloe stand in front of one of the dozens of water falls along the route in the Spring of '08.

We are making the trip again into the Portland area for the Trails End Vizsla Club's field trials at the end of July.

The trip up will take us to Crater lake and the through the heart of the Cascades.

Monday, June 22, 2009

To the point

There are other parts of training a Vizsla to hunt birds but the POINT is the most thrilling to witness. In each of these four pictures there is a bird in the brush that Bailey has come across. They range from 3 to 5 feet away. The rock solid point is the goal. The dog doesn't move at all while on point. If you follow Bailey's eyes you will know where to look for the bird.

Reading your dog is what I am learning to do. The way he wags his tail, turns, moves, and looks all indicate things that I must learn to communicate with my dog while he is doing "his job". We are a team.

When Bailey locks in on a bird it is his job to keep steady so he does not flush the bird. He will stay frozen like this for many minutes, when he is fully trained, waiting for me to get to him so I can "work the bird".

There becomes a special connecton between a dog and human that I have found no where else.

Bailey in the driver's seat

Bailey turned one year-old last week. I think like all boys his age he thought he could drive the motor home. I told him I was sorry but he'd have to be two and a half in the state of California.
He was disappointed.

Later when we got to Joe's for our training session, he forgot all about it and had a great time.

Next post will be pictures that get to the "point". Nicely photographed by Kay on a wonderful Father's day Sunday.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In the jungles of Lafayette

In the canyons off of Buckeye Ranch Trail in Lafayette two humans and five Vizsla were enjoying a fine walk. This bright Saturday morning Piper - the wild beast hunting pup - brought back the remains of one deer leg. Then Bailey, Chloe, Piper, Holly , and Tess had a great time playing wild dog pack in the deep jungles of Lafayette.

So I took the leg away and put it up on a tree branch. Bailey and Chloe tried to climb the tree to reach the leg o' deer but with no success. Not that they didn't try and try. Bailey falling out of the tree and Chloe sucessfully climbing about 6 feet up.

Piper then brought a second deer leg back to us from the forest. She was able to play keep-away for quite a while until the tug o' deer with Bailey and Tess took place. Like the first leg, it became a tree ornament.

Dogs sure love playing wild pack in these deeply forested canyons. Join us sometime.

We walk every Wednesday night at 6:30pm and many Saturday mornings at 8:30am. I post the walks on VizslaWalk (a yahoo group).

Water dogs

Chloe drip dries after a romp with Bailey in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. The pheasant training dummy became the prize to retrieve from the water. With Bailey's size and strength he can out swim and out run his older sister. Chloe tries to keep up. Little brothers can be such a pain!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Run with abandon

Here Bailey has found a piece of bark off one of the trees at Pinole. There were about 10 dogs on this walk and Bailey had to show them how he could play keep away. Vizslas run with an amazing grace and style. Doing field trials you get to see them run with passion and drive. It can take my breath away and it is so beautiful to behold.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our first mobile dog house

Our first RV was a 1987 Nissan truck with a pop-up motor home called "The Bandit" I purchased in the fall of 2007. This was a great little rig that was only 17 foot long but had a sink, stove, ice box, dining area, and when you popped the top, a queen-sized bed! With a V6 and 5 speed it would travel down the road and get 20 mpg. These pictures were taken on a week-long trip we took along the whole Oregon coast and then across the top of Oregon to The Dalles and then south through Bend before heading back to the Bay Area.
It proved to be too small for two adults and an active Vizsla, so we had to move on up to the Aero Cruiser in June 2008. Before Chloe and Bailey we had always flown and vacationed at hotels or resorts. How these red dogs have changed our lives!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A fine fall Vizsla walk

The end of a great Vizsla walk at Point Pinole last fall (September 2008). Here we had a load of puppies and a few older dogs and their happy owners or doggie sitters. One of the nice things about our Sunday morning Vizsla walks is a quiet and peaceful Sunday afternoon house.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dog training fields in Cotati

The field training that we do with Bailey is in Cotati, California. The fields we train in this time of year are green and lush.
After a training session with Joe, Chloe and Bailey get to play in the tall grass this time of year. The mustard is thick in the spring. If you look closely you can see Bailey's tail and the top of Chloe's head sticking above the mustard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Edgewater Resort - Clearlake

Clearlake is in Lake county. Lake County is one of the least dog-friendly counties in the state. Here signs are posted that dogs found loose and bothering livestock will be shot.

There is a small spot of dog sanity along the lake called the Edgewater Resort and RV park. This is on the west side of the lake. Here dogs are welcomed. We had a nice weekend in the RV here and the staff are great. Problem was that the waters of Clearlake caused the dogs to smell as if they had rolled in dead fish! This is mid-June and it can't get any better the rest of the summer. Suggest an early spring trip. Many of the guests had two dogs. Almost all of them two of the same breed. Chloe and Bailey fit right in.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Russian River along Highway 101

Watching Chloe and Bailey playing in the Russian River on a great Sunday morning. 80 miles from San Francisco on Highway 101, the Russian River flows along the freeway. Here the clean waters flow south at a leisurely pace.
Coming south on Highway 101 on June 14, 2009, we stopped along the highway six miles north of Cloverdale at the Commisky Station Road exit. This exit is very easy to miss but worth watching for. The Aero Cruiser ran great. Put on almost 1000 miles over the last two weekends and not a problem.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Vizsla in Heaven

I think Bailey had thought he had died and gone to heaven. Actually this is along the Point Pinole shoreline on the San Francisco Bay during a spring 2009 Vizsla Walk. Vizsla Walk is a Yahoo group of SF Bay Area Vizsla owners that get together for group off-leash walks. Kay Ingle is the organizer and we have had as many as 24 Vizslak of all ages running happily through the Point Pinole Regional Park. Here Bailey has gone out on the mud flats and found bird Nirvana!

Do Vizslak (more than one Vizsla) love snow?

Snow time! Day after Christmas 2008 in The Meadows of South Lake Tahoe, Chloe and Bailey had a ball in the fresh powder.

Bailey struts his bad six-month-old self through a snow shoe path in the Meadows.

Chloe and Bailey are looking for the ball I threw in the powder.

Without an inner coat to protect them, they do get cold after about an hour. When we got back to the cabin they enjoyed sleeping in front of the fire.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A cool dip in the pond

After four miles on the trail on an early April 2009 mountain bike ride in the Briones Regional Park, the dogs needed a dip. Here Jim looks on as his dog joins Chloe and Bailey for some water fun.
There was no holding them back from a cool pool. When we came over a ridge and came down to this pond, the dogs jumped in and dog paddled with big Vizsla smiles.