Saturday, February 28, 2009

From Wild Man to Sleeping Angel

Despite a walk this morning, Louie was quite wild today. He was running around the house and yard like a total maniac...out the doggie door, up the outside stairs, rapidly circling around the upper part of the yard, down the stairs, running around the lower part of the yard, throwing himself through the dog door, flying into the kitchen to bite his sister playfully to entice her to chase him, then two Newfies running together into the living room. At this point I had to put an end to the madness. It's too dangerous for them to run on the hardwood floors.

To burn off some of his excess energy, I started playing with Louie. I pulled out Katie's old toy LambBo for Louie to wrestle. He fell in love with LambBo and then promptly fell asleep on his new friend.

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All of that craziness can really wear a puppy out.
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After Louie awoke from his beauty sleep we did some rally obedience training out in the alley. It was sleeting the whole time which seemed to do wonders for Katie and Louie's training. The crisp weather put them in just the right frame of mind to be very attentive and do extremely well on all of their exercises. They are both going to compete in a Rally trial in about three weeks. Wish us luck because we will need it. They both have difficulty staying focused in places where there are lots of distractions. Our main goal though for the trial weekend is to get exposure and have fun. I'm sure we can manage to accomplish that.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Draft Class II: Straight Lines

Katie's second draft lesson took place in the alley behind our house. We wanted to practice mostly straight lines to increase her comfort level with her cart. You can see that as the lesson progresses she gets more and more relaxed. I think she is really starting to enjoy pulling her little red wagon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Draft Class I: Introducing the Cart

I had already been thinking about getting Katie started in drafting when Pat, our Rally teacher at the dog club, mentioned that she was wanting to work on carting with her Schipperkes. Katie and Louie's breeders, Bonnie and Bill, were also interested in working with one of their dogs so we all got together last Sunday. Pat was a fantastic teacher and gave Katie and me a great introduction to drafting.

Katie is in the foreground followed by Flash the Schipperke and Cowboy the Newf.
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It was Cowboy's first time to pull a cart, but you never would have guessed it. He was so laid back and nonchalant about the whole business. He didn't seem to think it was much of a challenge.
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See how relaxed he is while Bill and Pat are hooking him up to the cart...he's a natural for sure.
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Flash practiced pulling with a tire. He is amazingly strong for such a little guy.
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Katie says "Mom, I'm ready for MY turn now."
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Here is a video of Katie pulling her wagon. A wagon is more challenging to maneuver than a cart because it's much harder to turn. Katie got a little spooked near the end of the video. She turned around, saw the wagon behind her and didn't know why on earth it just kept moving towards her. We got her straightened out, calmed down, and pulling again so that we could end the lesson on a very positive note.

This is another video that Bonnie took of all three dogs:


Katie resting up after her lesson.
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By the time our daughter Natalie gets home, hopefully by the middle of next year, Katie will be able to pull her around the neighborhood in her wagon.

It's so much fun to see these Newfs doing the work they are meant to do. This spring we plan to start Katie and Louie in some water work. We want our Newfies to be well rounded, LOL.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Their Greatest Fans

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Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny February day with a high temperature of 56 degrees. Gary and I decided to take the Newfs on a walk through the neighborhood. We were leisurely strolling along admiring a couple of pretty homes when I noticed two women coming out of one of the homes carrying large garbage bags. When the woman who was wearing a yellow apron looked up and saw us walking down the sidewalk. She eagerly said, "OOOOh, can I PLEASE pet your dogs?" I agreed. She came over and was obviously completely enthralled by Katie and Louie. "I just LOVE Newfies! It's been a dream of mine for a long time to have one." We chatted for a while about the dogs while she loved on them the whole time. At one point she asked to borrow my drool rag. I handed it over thinking she must need to wipe off her hand or her shirt, but instead she reached over to lovingly wipe off Katie's back where Louie had slimed her. Then she explained that she was in the middle of preparing for her brother's wedding shower and that it was starting in 10 minutes! I told her we would be on our way and let her get back to work, but she seemed reluctant to pull herself away from Louie and Katie. Then a car pulled up and she said, "That's my Dad. Can you guys please stay and let him see the dogs. He adores Newfoundlands. In fact, he used to live in Newfoundland and loves the country as well." How could we say no? Her father exited his car and started heading towards us. Upon reaching us he simultaneously began petting the Newfs and bursting into singing a song about Newfoundland. What a riot! When he was done singing he said, "Aren't they just the very best dog breed there is? There is nothing like a Newfoundland!" We, of course, heartily agreed. It was so wonderful to meet people who truly understand the extra special Newfie breed. The woman offered to help me walk the dogs in the future so that she can spend more time with them :-)

And then we meet a couple of people who were not their greatest fans...as we entered our alley we ran into a man with two little girls who looked like they were about 5 and 6 years old. They wanted to ask lots of questions about the dogs. I gave each of the dogs a little biscuit and the drool started flowing. The girls thought it was gross and asked why they did it. Gary told them that K&L tend to drool when there is food around. The little girl hadn't seen me give them the biscuit so she responded with "Are WE the food?" I laughed for a long time about this one.

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