Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simon, a Vizsla, learning about a training collar

Jim brought Simon, a two-year-old male Vizsla, out on a walk with Bailey and Chloe.

Jim had concerns over Simon chasing coyotes in the open spaces where they walk. So after a couple e-mails we met at 9am this morning.

We had a great two hour walk in the Shell Ridge open space. First I showed Jim how I use the training collar on Bailey. Then I had Jim place the collar on his wrist and starting at level 1 and working up to 4. I explained, as he felt the different levels of stimulation, how and when I use the different levels.

We then placed the collar on Simon and worked with Jim on how to use it. Simon learned very easily. We only used the collar six times. These were times when Simon would come up to another dog while we were walking and do some posturing and making growling noises. A quick "leave it" accompanied by a light shock got Simon to leave the other dog alone. Jim could see how it worked. It's all about the timing and amount of correction needed.

When we were almost back to the parking lot, we came across a couple with their little three-year-old female Vizsla. The boys enjoyed this new female. Bailey did his ear chewing of this sweet little girl that he likes to do to ones he likes. He is such a Romeo in his own mind.

Jim tells me he is going to get a training collar for Simon.

There is a comfort level walking in the open spaces with the feeling of control that a good training collar gives you. These are especially helpful if you own a free-spirited and large-running Vizsla like Bailey.

Vizslas along the Straits

Saturday morning and the rain kept coming. We found a peaceful morning break in the weather but the trails we love to walk on were all just extreme mud. Back up plan on mornings like this is "Carquinez Straits Scenic Road".

2.2 miles of blocked off and falling apart asphalt. We came across dozens of walkers, joggers, mountain bikers, and others with their dogs off leash. There is this little pond which is off limits. We are going to get in trouble one day.

All this walking, running and swimming has gotten both dogs in great shape. Since I go along, I am now in the best shape I have been in since my mid 30's. Now I'm in my mid 50's.
Chloe has slimmed down nicely with a combination of being on the "princess diet" and exercise. Bailey is all muscle and is ready for another field trial next weekend in Los Banos against those darn German Shorthair Pointers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Enjoying the open space after a storm

When I was a boy of about 7, I could walk up in the hills above the little town of Camarillo, California, for hours on my own or with a small band of friends and find peace and happiness. Today, in Shell Ridge open space, I found peace like that again.

We can get caught up in the day-to-day duties of making a living. Sometimes we need to take time to live.

This morning at 9 o'clock the air was fresh, the grass was very green and the paths were terribly muddy. It had rained on and off all night.

Chloe, Bailey and I had the Shell Ridge open space practically to ourselves for two and a half hours. We walked the main valley trail south and then turned back and took the "Ridge Trial" back north. I walked along the trails and the dogs ran the hills and valleys on both sides. I might have walked 5 miles, but the dogs would have gone 20 miles with all of the side trips. Great time.

Did come across a couple other folks walking their young Vizslas. One little female was 14 months old and a young male of just 7 months. These Vizsla owners were very proud of their dogs and spend time each day out with them.
They "get it" regarding these dogs and what Vizslas need.

Just as we got to to the open space and parked, we came across a great guy and his two Weimaraners. These were big dogs compared to my two. His males are 85 pounds and 105 pounds. Bailey weighs in at 56 and Chloe a light 44.

We talked about the open space's coyotes. He told me that both of his Weims had been nipped by coyotes over the years, but the dogs had gotten smart about how to deal with the coyotes and pretty much leave them alone. One lone coyote paid the ultimate price when he found out that Weims are strong hunting dogs and not just soft domestic house pets.

Readers have asked me about the training collar I use. Bailey wears his Tri Tronics G3 training collar when we go on these walks because he has to understand that "leave it" is not a request but a demand. With a high-powered and determined hunting dog, I need to establish control with Bailey. This allows me to give him the freedom he has while he "hunts birds" and I walk. There can be 5-minute periods during a walk when I don't see Bailey. I read early last year in a dog behavior book that it is the dog's job to know where I am, not my job to know where he is. This has worked so far.

With our training, if I blow the whistle, Bailey happily comes to me, but for the most part he is allowed to be the hunting dog he was breed to be.

This is the trust we are building. He is still young and tests me from time to time.

Tri Tronics Sport Basic G3 Dog Training Collar

Chloe, on the other hand, never has had a training collar on, but she is happy staying within 100 yards of me most of the time unless she is chasing her brother through the bushes.

Chloe and Bailey are very different Vizslas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chloe and Bailey finally get out of house

The rain came Monday morning. Finally on Friday afternoon we could get out into the open space. We made a couple runs down to the local school yard and had to use the treadmill two evenings when it just poured down.

It was a great afternoon. After 31 years of living in Walnut Creek, it still takes my breath away on afternoons like this one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vizslas like treadmills

So the largest storm of the year hit today and the dogs were wound up tight. Down stairs we went and first Chloe and then Bailey spent 20 minutes on the treadmill. Now they are asleep on the living room floor.

Just signed up with You tube and found posting video is quite easy. Let me know what you think.

One thing I found funny is how my voice sounds like a little girl when I'm cheering Chloe on, but is much lower when encouraging Bailey.

I'm such a softy for my girl.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Redbirddog coming to Germany

I don't know if Vizsla owners in Germany do what we here call "Vizsla Walks," but since I am coming to the Berlin and Munich area in middle of April this year, I thought I try to find out.

The idea of meeting locals on walks with their Vizslas in other countries I find a great way to meet the people of an area.

I am getting ready to load up my two dogs for a rainy Sunday morning Vizsla walk with others at Point Pinole here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I'd be happy to take a side trip while in Germany just to join in on a group walk.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Coming up to a coyote pack during an evening walk

This afternoon in the Shell Ridge open space area in Walnut Creek, we came across a lone coyote.

This lone coyote stood in the middle of the wide-open trail and did not move as Bailey, Chloe, and I came over a ridge and came across him.

Bailey had his training collar on, so I turned the dial up to 4 (goes up to 5), and as Bailey started to move slowly toward the lone coyote, I yelled out "leave it" and hit the button. He didn't back off so I did it again.

A Vizsla might be tough and might not be taken down by a lone coyote but wouldn't stand much of a chance against more than one.

Bailey turned to the side and moved off to the right as I screamed at the coyote to move off. It didn't move more than 6 feet even with all my waving of arms and yelling.

As we walked away, the other two coyotes that were just up on the ridge about 50 feet away started doing the "coyote bark-cry."

This was a set-up. An unsuspecting dog that liked to chase would have followed the lone coyote up the ridge and gotten ambushed by the others. Three against one.

We took another trail away from the area and warned others as we walked back to the Jeep.

The coyotes know they are protected, so they are very bold. I'm glad I am taking the time to train Bailey to leave coyotes alone.

As a coyote stands in it "submissive" pose, it looks fairly harmless.

Don't be fooled. They are very clever survivors and can take down a domestic dog working in a pack.

They are faster than most domestic dogs, so they don't really fear them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Redbirddog coming to England

This April I am planning a trip to England and Germany for business.

I have to leave my Chloe and Bailey at home and will need a Vizsla fix by the end of the month.

I'd very much like to go on a Vizsla Walk in the New Forest area during the last weekend of April with other Vizsla enthusiasts.

I plan to be in England for about four days doing research into emissions of construction equipment in England. This may take me to other parts of the country also.

If there is a pub or two involved in any walk, that would be just fine.
Comments or ideas welcome.

Cheers from California.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Vizsla in the desert

This was such an enjoyable weekend in the High California Desert!

Pictures don't do it justice.

The night in the desert sleeping in the back of the Jeep made me remember that I am not in my twenties anymore. My bones still ache two days later.

The people I met out in the middle of the desert are great folk.

Some I have met at past field trials.

The judges, cooks, field trial secretary, bird planters all work at making these trials work. Some of the judges spent 11 hours on their horses judging dog after dog and trying their best to be fair and balanced.

Betty Meadows, who was doing the Vizsla Club of Southern California field secretary duties, did a great job for her first trial.

Three courses were being run at the same time. This is extremely difficult to coordinate -- 130 dog entries in six separate skill levels over three days.

My hat is off to all the volunteers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dog sleding in California?

Near Mammoth Lakes along Highway 395, I came upon a spot next to the highway that rented out snow mobiles, and also you could take a dog sled ride out into the woods.

The owner of the dogs and sleds recommended I didn't bring Bailey down. He said, "My sled dogs always have to work out "pack issues" and don't agree on much, except that they all agree to kick an outsider dog's butt."

I put Bailey back in the Jeep.

Hwy 395 will take your breath away

Highway 395 from the Mojave Desert to Carson City, Nevada, is about 250 miles of High Desert, forests, lakes, valleys, and little towns located on the eastern side of the Sierras. January 10th was the day I drove this route.

Now, about my idea that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but those moments that take our breath away: driving Highway 395 this time of year took my breath away time after time during the trip home from our field trial.

The "detour" added four hours to the trip home. Worth every minute -10 fold.

This was perfect for the Jeep Liberty.
The temperatures ranged from 30 to 50 degrees over that 250-mile journey. The road can be icy or a storm can blow in very quickly up in this part of the world.
There were 20 miles around Mono Lake where the fog was extremely dense.
Be prepared and enjoy these natural wonders.