A flying barge? That can’t be right!

I told you a few weeks ago that I’d heard it through the grapevine that I was going to be having some fun, and maybe some new experiences. I’ve chosen one of them to tell you about today, it’s something that happened when I went for a lovely walk with my bipeds.

It’s surprising, but I had never been to a canal before. It was fun strolling along the towpath together, there were lots of interesting smells. A few times we had to cross a bridge and walk on the other side of the canal.

Then we came to a narrower section with some gates across the canal, which my bipeds said was a lock and they seemed to find it fascinating. I decided I would prefer to sniff the grass than to watch the barge in the lock below us. There were lots of wonderful smells to be savoured, so I was concentrating on those when I was startled to see the top of the boat appearing above the bank!

Lock_and_cottage_on_Aylesbury_Arm_of_Grand_Union_-_geograph.org.uk_-_112420

It was just like this one!

I hardly had time to get out one “woof” before one of my bipeds said, “Quiet, Clowie! It’s alright, come closer and you will see.”

I went to join them on the edge of the bank, in case they needed my protection. The boat was still rising in a very strange way! My bipeds said that the lock was designed to take boats from one level to another when the land around the canal is not level.

In this sequence of pictures you can see the boat enter and, when the lock is closed, water is allowed in to raise the  level of the boat

In this sequence of pictures you can see the boat enter and, when the lock is closed, water is allowed in to raise the level of the boat

They weren’t the only bipeds standing around watching the level of the water rise. When the water was level with the canal on the upper side, the gate at that end was opened and the boat left. There was a boat on the upper side waiting to enter the lock. As soon as it was inside the lock and the gates were closed, they started letting the water out again for that boat to go to the lower level.

I heard some of the other bipeds say that it was a feat of engineering. I don’t know about that, it’s just like a huge bathtub – you can pour water in and you can let it out again! I returned to sniffing the grass – it was much more interesting!

After a while, we walked on and we found a nice spot for a picnic. I was getting quite hungry, so my bipeds had my full attention as soon as they started to get the food out. They laughed and said that food is obviously a lot more interesting than a lock. Well, of course it is!

Savannah's Paw Tracks teaser for Oct 1

I’ll be visiting all of you as soon as I can to catch up on all your news. But I’ve already heard a rumour that Savannah is planning something. I sent my cats to see what they could find out. They said that Savannah was very busy and wouldn’t tell them much, but they brought this poster back – so I’ve marked 1st October in my calendar.

See you next Wednesday!

I heard it through the grapevine

I learn a lot of what is going on by listening in to my bipeds’ conversations. I let a lot of it drift over me but my ears tune in when I hear key words, such as walk, food, cheese, car, hike, picnic – and, of course, Clowie.

I expect you’re wondering what I’ve overheard. My bipeds will be on holiday for a few weeks, so I probably won’t get to visit any of my friends’ blogs or be on social media very much. I’m not sure what I shall be doing – I don’t think my bipeds know, but it did sound as though I will be having some fun. I kept hearing good phrases like, “Clowie will enjoy going there with us”.

I also noticed that they got out my rucksack (backpack) and checked it over – that’s a very good sign! I don’t wear it when the weather is hot, but I often carry some water and my collapsible bowl in it on a hike. They usually pack some treats in there as well.

Unfortunately, I also heard them say things like, “Clowie can catsit while we try that restaurant one evening”. The cats are not usually any trouble, they spend most of their time sleeping. I really don’t mind looking after them, but it would be nice to be asked! On the plus side, sometimes they bring home something tasty for me in a doggy bag.

I also heard a mention of, “We’ll need someone to pop in and take Clowie out because that will take a full day”. That doesn’t worry me, they only ever ask someone who I like a lot so it’s fun. It also only ever happens when I’ve had a tiring day the day before and I want to catch up on some napping – it’s almost as though they arrange it that way!

They sometimes say that it would be much easier to arrange a day out if they didn’t have to think about me. I don’t pay much attention to that – they can’t possibly mean it!

Rubbish bin

There’s nothing interesting left in here!

One of the things that gives me a clue that they’re going to be out longer than usual is that they empty the kitchen rubbish bin before they go. The cats and I are expected to leave the kitchen bin alone, but the bipeds say that the temptation shouldn’t be too great – they call it setting us up for success. They never put anything that exciting in there anyway, they always take the most interesting things, such as bones from meat, outside to the bin that won’t open.

I hope you’re all having as much fun as I am!

See you soon!

Close Encounters of the Worst Kind

And no, the title doesn’t refer to having my temperature taken by the vet!

Clinical thermometers

I went to a country fair with my bipeds. There were all kinds of interesting things happening there. I saw some gun dogs in a competition in one ring. In another there were dogs doing agility. There were lots of stalls selling all sorts of fascinating items. The aroma from the ones selling things that bipeds like to eat and drink was wonderful. Some were selling dog collars and leads, while others were selling posts for cats to scratch and I had no idea at all what some things were but it was all very interesting.

It was lots of fun strolling around with my bipeds. There were lots of other dogs happily wandering about with their bipeds. Many bipeds chatted to my bipeds and made a fuss of me. We had just stopped to chat to a biped with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog just like me when the encounter happened.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, being stroked

A Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or Great Pyrenees

I heard a boy shout, “Look at those huge, white dogs!”

The next I knew a boy of about twelve years old had pushed past my female biped, who was holding my lead, and had thrown himself onto my back. He lifted his feet off the ground and started to bang my ribs hard. I turned my head but stood still. I could see that my male biped was moving to help me. He grabbed the hood of the boy’s jacket and hoisted him off me. A second boy, about ten years old, was about to jump on me when the male biped also caught him by the hood of his jacket.

The male biped said, “Don’t jump on my dog!”

He loosened his grip on the first boy who turned and said, “I’ll jump on that one then!”

The male biped tightened his grip on the boy and said, “No, you won’t!”

The biped with the other Pyrenean Mountain Dog said, “Thank you. I don’t know what my dog would do.”

The boys started wailing and trying to hit and kick me and my biped. He moved a little so that the boys couldn’t reach me and held them out at arm’s length. He told them he would release them when they kept still and agreed not to jump on dogs. The female biped had recovered her balance and she moved closer to me and put a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

A dishevelled woman appeared and shouted, “Let go of my boys!”

Megaphone

She didn’t need a megaphone!

Several people called out, “No, don’t let them go! Not until they’re under control!”

The woman shouted at my biped again. I hadn’t heard some of the words before! The gist of what she said was that my biped should let her boys go and he shouldn’t have restrained them.

A stall holder nearby called out, “Lady, you should be thanking this man, not hurling abuse at him! Your boys were doing something dangerous. He acted quickly and stopped them in the only way he could. You’re lucky that your boys are unharmed. I have spoken to some show officials who will be here in just a moment to help you get your boys under control.”

The officials arrived and took the boys from my biped, thanking him for his trouble. They ushered the boys towards one of the exits, along with their mother who was still shouting rude words at anyone and everyone.

My bipeds and I went across to thank the stall holder for his help and support. He told us that there were plenty of people who would be thankful to see the back of those boys as they’d been breaking things and causing chaos all day, while their mother had been busy sampling alcoholic beverages in the main refreshment tent. He gave me a treat and told me that I’m lovely!

Quite a few people had gathered to watch what had been happening and a lot of those people wanted to talk to my bipeds and make a fuss of me. My bipeds seemed embarrassed to be the centre of attention but I loved it!

Head of Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees

I love being the centre of attention!

See you next Wednesday!

Tips for training bipeds

These tips are written for puppies, but I think they can be adapted for general use by any quadrupeds wishing to train a biped. I’ve based them on my own experiences of the things that have worked for me.

The first time that a biped offers you a treat in return for doing something, you may be tempted to refuse if the treat isn’t particularly interesting. I think it’s worth accepting the treat to show that you are open to negotiation, as bipeds tend to decide you don’t understand if you refuse. It’s important to get them used to the idea of giving you rewards for doing little things for them. There will be ample opportunities for negotiating a better deal once they are accustomed to the idea.

Dog biscuit

You need to be patient and spend the first few weeks showing them how clever and adaptable you are. They will probably concentrate on asking for fairly easy things from you during this time. It’s simple to trade a sit for a treat and you need them to become comfortable with this before forcing them to think harder.

You may get taken to a puppy training class, or somewhere else with lots of people and distractions. This is an excellent time to make it clear that you are not satisfied with the treats they are using. Showing no interest whatsoever in the treat they are offering works reasonably well, but if you take the treat and then spit it out it gives a little more emphasis to the point you are making. It also gives them time to think about their shortcomings while they clean it up. I have seen the cats pretend that they are going to vomit when offered something they don’t like – this is very effective, but loses its dramatic effect if you do it too often!

Bone-shaped dog biscuits, treats

Tasty!

You should find that the quality of the treats goes up after this and you should show your appreciation by responding to their requests, but don’t let them get too complacent! It’s wise to reject the treats again after another week or so, this will make them offer you something even better. You can keep doing this to see what variations they will provide and then you can decide on your favourite, or you can decide you like them to keep varying the treats.

Bipeds have a tendency to get fixated on one thing that they wish to do well, such as giving you a treat for a sit. You can show your boredom in a number of ways. Sometimes I have wandered off to do something else until they find something more entertaining to do, sometimes I have flopped down and refused to move. At other times I have pretended I don’t understand the request.

Dog doing a play bow

A perfect demonstration of a play bow
By JorgeAlejanDroo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It can be difficult for bipeds to understand what we want of them, so always try to end a training session on a positive note. You have to try various things to see what works on your bipeds, but you could politely request that they play with you by doing a play bow. If that doesn’t cheer them up then rolling over on your back for your tummy to be rubbed never fails!

See you next Wednesday!

A walk on the healthy side

Going for a walk is one of the highlights of my day. Most people know that the exercise is beneficial to dogs and humans, but I think a walk is about so much more than getting some exercise so I’m going to talk about some of the other benefits.

For me, it’s quality time with one, or more, of my bipeds. I don’t have to share them with any of the many tasks that bipeds find to do for most of the day, their focus is on enjoying the time with me. The cats stay at home while we’re out for a walk – I love the cats but it’s lovely to get all the attention from my bipeds for a while! Quality time together improves the bond between dog and humans.

It is mentally stimulating for me to be able to sniff and find out what is going on in the neighbourhood. Humans miss most of the messages left by other dogs and wildlife, which is surprising as the messages are usually left in obvious places – on trees in the countryside and on street lights in urban areas! This means that even a short walk near to home is interesting as I get to know who has been in the area and when they were there.

Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees strolling in the mountains

I’m just strolling in the mountains – biped in tow

I have my favourite walks – they all include a stream. I love having a splash in cool water and the opportunity to take a drink – it always tastes better than the water my bipeds are carrying. I also enjoy it when we walk somewhere new because it’s an adventure!

When I was younger we always did some training while we were out. It was often things I’d been doing at home in our garden and I was asked to do them while we were out – it’s always much harder when there are distractions! I also encountered all sorts of people and animals while out on my walks as part of my socialisation.

I still get to show off some of my skills, and keep them honed, when we’re out on a walk. People often want to make a fuss of me and I’m always polite. Sometimes they just want to talk to my bipeds and I sit and show how very patient I am.

Most of my walks are in the countryside as that’s what we enjoy the most, but sometimes we go to a busy place where I see lots of traffic and people. I show that I remember to wait at the kerb until my biped says that it’s safe for us to cross. Sometimes someone will touch me unexpectedly and I take it in my stride (pun intended)!

I try to ensure that my bipeds focus on me during a walk, this is because I think it’s a special time for them to relax and forget about all the day to day things that concern them. I also help them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as splashing in a muddy puddle or pausing to sniff a wild flower. I’m not sure why they like sniffing flowers when there are always more interesting things to sniff, but they seem to enjoy it and it gives me more time to sniff things that are interesting!

The Cinnamon Trust

I’d like to mention The Cinnamon Trust, a charity based in the UK. They assist the terminally ill and the elderly to look after their pets. They have a network of volunteers who will do things like taking a dog for a regular walk.

Update on Milo

I interviewed Milo when he was a cheeky young pup and I told you that he was accepted for guide dog school. He’s now a working guide dog. Congratulations and very best wishes, Milo!

Milo's tweet about qualifying as a guide dog

See you next Wednesday!