Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More From Watrous

Here are a couple more pictures from our agility demo at Watrous last weekend. Thanks Greg and Andrea for taking them! Love to see my boy at work!

Catchin' up

Bad crop ... but the uncropped version with me included looked like I had a pole wedged
in my butt crack.

Weeee! Tunnels! At least this picture makes it appear as if he has tunnel drive ... he doesn't.

My bouncy little guy. This must have been his ONE set of nice weaves all day.

Weavin' is serious bizniz. (The finger keeps him in there ... we're working on weaning it out.)

He loves that tire now.

Chilling in the shade, waiting for the next demo to start.

A slightly better angle on the group shot from last post.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remember Us??

The summer is just so darned busy, I've been letting the blog slide. I've been taking on a lot of little projects, plus the dog stuff, school, upkeep of the house and yard ... Blogging is getting neglected. I'm sorry.

So here is a little catch up of what we have been doing the past couple of weeks!

Beginning of July was Pets in the Park. An annual fun day put on as a fundraiser for the Saskatoon SPCA, New Hope Dog Rescue, and SCAT Street Cat Rescue. Local pet related businesses set up booths, local dog clubs put on demonstrations, and groomers and vets offer cheap nail trims and microchipping. It's always a great time, and this year was no different. We luckily had beautiful weather and there was an awesome turnout! The boys and I spent all day at the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog booth and organized a couple of talks about the therapy dog program.

While we have had plenty of rain still, there have been a few really gorgeous days to enjoy the summer weather! Lots of running at the park and frisbee catching.

Plenty of frisbee missing, too.

The Flickr challenge for last week was "action blur". Of all the blurry (and often humorous) action shots of the boys playing frisbee, I chose this one. I just think it is so much fun!

While there was plenty of barking and running at the park this week as well, it was a more subdued experience. Gio ventured off to explore the grounds.

While Romeo ran around me in circles "talking" about how awesome he thinks the park is.

All that circle running and talking makes a boy tired and hot. That is when the Monster Tongue makes its appearance. It never ceases to amaze me how he can fit that humungo-tongue in his teeny little head. Might account for the lack of brain power some days.

I was pleasantly surprised that I caught a shot of Romeo running towards me WITHOUT his mouth hanging open and that obscenely large tongue flapping around. See, he CAN look cute!

On Friday the boys and I participated in a Therapy Dog demo at a local care home. The residents always love to come out and watch the dogs do tricks and entertain them. But visiting time is the best!

As always, Romeo collected a new friend and admirer.

Here is our snazzy looking collection of doggy entertainers.

And finally, today was an afternoon of agility demos out in Watrous. Watrous was having some sort of car show/farmer's market/bands and entertainment day. I'm sure it has an official name, but we will go with that. Apparently SAA (Saskatchewan Agility Association) has been going out to Watrous for this event for a number of years now. This was my and Romeo's first time tagging along. The demos were a lot of fun with a great turnout of specators and talented doggies alike!

Romeo had a great time and made yet another new fan. This time a young girl who was absolutely smitten by him. Her mom (grandma??) got a really cute picture of them together, but I wasn't fast enough to grab my camera. I had just placed Romeo in a stand stay beside the kneeling girl and turned to walk behind the photographer so I could get Romeo's attention. When I turned back around, the girl had poor Romer in a headlock, held tight to the side of her face. He's such a trooper, and put on a big happy face for the camera despite the clearly uncomfortable situation.

And for that, and all the hard work he did running in the three demos in the scorching heat, he deserves a little nap.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How do you get a flattering hairstyle?

Side swept bangs can be flattering

Have you ever been at a department store and tried on several different dresses in a dressing room? You might find that one particular dress looks much better on you than the others that you try. Why is that?

Well the big reason comes down to shape.  When it comes to your body, you have a definite shape. Some dresses will flatter certain shapes while other dresses will accentuate your flaws and make you look bad.

The same idea goes for your hairstyle.  If your hairstyle is really designed for someone with a long face and your face shape is round, then that hairstyle will not be very flattering.  The ticket is to find out what your face shape is and look for hairstyles that are designed for that shape.

Another great approach is to get several photos of hairstyles that you like and take them to your hairdresser at your next appointment.  Ask you stylist for his or her opinion on whether the hairstyles you have selected will look good on you. 

Don't forget to consider styling time when you are picking a new style.  Some styles will require a lot of styling time in the morning.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sheltie Hair Review: Nina Ottosson Interactive Dog Toys - Finder and Casino

As a continuation to my previous review of Pawsitively Purrfect, here is my review of the Nina Ottosson dog toys, the Dog Casino and Dog Finder.

This line of toys has been out for a number of years now. I discovered them online a couple of years ago and have been lusting over them ever since. There are very few retailers in this area of the world. Yes, I could have searched online for a retailer that would ship, but I just never got around to it. Finances were always an issue, so I continued to put a purchase aside.

I finally got around to purchasing two of the Nina Ottosson toys this past weekend: the Dog Finder and the Dog Casino.

The basic premise behind the toys is that the dog is encouraged to use their nose and paws to manipulate moving components to reveal treats. The toys are rated at difficulty levels of 1, 2, and 3, with 1 being the most easy and 3 being the most difficult.

The Dog Finder and the Dog Casino are both rated as 2/3, meaning that they can be adjusted to make the puzzle more difficult to solve.

I find it very difficult to judge the size and quality of the toys from online resources. My primary concern was that the removable pieces would be too small and pose a choking risk. Or that the plastic would be thin or flimsy. Having seen the products first hand, I am very reassured! The plastic is thick and hard, but textured so as not to become slippery once it is drooled on.

A brief description of the two toys that I purchased is as follows.

The Dog Casino

Purchased for $40 CDN

This is a flat slab of plastic with 8 small plastic drawers along the side edges. The drawers slide out quite easily and smoothly, and have a sturdy handle that can be manipulated with a paw or the mouth. On the top of the body of the toy are 8 holes, one corresponding to each drawer. A plastic bone-shaped peg can be fit into each hole that, when in place, locks the drawer closed.

The bone-shaped pegs are thick and sturdy. They are small in comparison to dog toys we are used to seeing. For a dog the size of Romeo (average Sheltie-sized) they are not too much of a concern. Gio (a large Sheltie, average Border Collie-sized) can handle the small pieces well, though I have had to remind him with a "drop it" once or twice. A larger dog or one that has a harder mouth may have difficulty manipulating the pegs safely. Below is a picture of the bone-shaped peg in the palm of my hand and next to a house key for size reference.

The quality of the product is fantastic! Both Gio and Romeo have climbed on, scratched, bitten, and stood on the Dog Casino and it holds up very well.

This is a toy that should be used under supervision only! In addition to the safety concerns, you will need to encourage the dog to work certain areas of the board and you will also have to replenish the treats.

I noticed, in perusing the different Nina Ottosson products, that some toys are designed to be better for "mouth dogs" and some are more suitable for "paw dogs". Having one of each (Romeo uses his paws while Gio uses his mouth), I wanted to get a toy suitable for each. The Dog Casino requires a dog to use his paws to open the drawers, while it seems to be easier to pull the pegs out of the top with the mouth. Gio manages to open the drawers with his mouth, though he has to learn some finesse to excel at this. He particularly LOVES pulling the pegs from the top. Romeo pulls the drawers open with his paws and is struggling slightly with the pegs. He will push the pegs aside to get the treat underneath, but doesn't always remove the peg completely. I'm confident that he will figure this out in time.

As for difficulty level, I like the 2/3 split of the Casino. Romeo figured the drawer thing out in about 15 minutes, and is now quite adept at that portion. After two play sessions of roughly 15 minutes each (after which, both dogs were completely exhausted!!) he is still learning how to pull the pegs. Gio figured the peg thing out nearly instantly, though the drawers took a bit longer (about 15 minutes). Neither dog has yet figured out that the pegs lock the drawers, so there is still room for them to explore!

Here is a video of the boys playing with the Dog Casino.

The Dog Finder

Purchased for $40 CDN

This is a flat piece of plastic with a number of channels molded into the top surface. Each channel is narrower at one end and wider at the other. Plastic bone-shaped cups fit into each channel and slide smoothly back and forth. When the cup is slid to the narrow end of the channel, it cannot be removed. when the cup is slid to the wide end of the channel, it is possible for the dog to nose or paw the cup out and reveal treats underneath.

Like the Casino, the plastic base of the Finder is sturdy and well made. The bone-shaped cups are larger than the bone-shaped pegs of the Casino. Definitely not a swallowing risk for medium-sized dogs, though a large/giant breed may be a different story. Below is a picture of the bone-shaped cup in my palm next to a house key for size reference. As well as a size reference between the peg from the Casino and the cup from the Finder.

As always, supervision is important. For safety, encouragement, and treat replenishing.

The Finder appears to be more suited to dogs that are prone to using their mouth and nose to manipulate things. Gio easily slides the cups along the channels with his nose, and is learning how to scoop them out of the channels with his nose as well. The shape of the cups prevents him from pulling the cups out of the channel with his mouth, though another larger dog may have more success with this approach. Romeo has attempted to play with the Finder with his paws to varied success. He can move the cups back and forth along the channels with his paws, and some vigorous scratching will displace the cups when at the wide end of the channel.

The Finder, like the Casino, is rated as a 2/3, though both Gio and Romeo seem to be finding it more difficult than the Casino. The difficulty is increased to a 3 if extra cups are placed in the channels to prevent the treat cup from sliding. The extra cup must be removed before the treat cup can be displaced to reveal the treats.

A nice bonus is that each cup has a small hole in the top. This can be used to thread a thin rope through to assist in lifting the cup out of the channel (I have no yet tried this). It can also facilitate scent games, where all of the cups are placed in the channels, though a treat is only placed under a few cups. The dog must determine where the treat is hidden and then work to reveal it.

The big down-side of the Finder is that there is a long opening along the sides of the channels at the narrow end. I assume that this is to allow the cups to slide smoothly, but I find that it tends to allow the treats to fall through the base onto the floor beneath. Perhaps once the dogs become a little more skilled at removing the cups without shaking the toy around too much, this won't be an issue. You could also use larger treats that don't fit through the openings or spread some soft treat (wet dog food, peanut butter, etc.) on the inside of the cup to serve as a reward.

The boys have each worked with the Finder for two sessions of about 15 minutes each. They have had varied success and understand now that they must remove the cup to get the treat. They have not figured out that the cup can only be removed from one end of the slot yet. Both still need some practice at learning HOW to remove the cups.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

After the Storm

Thursdays are officially cursed.

I have been TRYING to hold my regular Rally-O classes on Thursdays for the past month and a half now. In the summer, I like to hold my classes outdoors. There is a fabulous field near by that we have been given permission to use with the dogs. It cuts down on costs for me, so I can offer my classes a little cheaper than when I am training with Hub City. But nearly every Thursday since the beginning of June we have been hit with a thunderstorm or torrential downpour of some variety. Up until this week, I have only been able to have one class outdoors. The rest have either been postponed or moved to my fall-back indoor training facility. Reasonably priced, available at very short notice, but too small and not an ideal space for training.

This week, we were finally able to get outdoors again! Made it all of the way through Beginner class before the downpour hit. I waited to see if any of my Advanced/Excellent people would show up for drop-in practice as I watched the storm clouds roll in. Taking shelter under a tree (I am safety conscious during thunder storms!) the boys and I, and one die-hard student decided to see if the storm would pass quickly. After 10 minutes or so and no sign of the rain stopping, I declared that I was going to pack up the car and head home. Of course, because I was eagerly optimistic, I didn't wear appropriate shoes for wet weather ... only a pair of Dawgs sandals, which are super duper comfortable, but not at all grippy when wet. Carrying a huge Tupperware container of my "Rally-O Crap" to the car, I had to straddle-hop a low fence to get into the parking lot. As soon as I found a tenuous foothold on the wet ground in my slippery sandals, and swung one (pork hock) leg over the crotch-high fence, it decided to hail. HAIL HARD!! Sure sure, just pea-sized stuff. But being pelted unaware by small frozen peas still stings a little!

In between gasps of laughter and squeals, I glanced over to see the brave and wonderful Sophie holding a blanket over top of the X-pen that my dogs were in, trying to shelter them from the hail while getting pelted herself. And two very soggy and very un-impressed Shelties glaring out at me from under the blanket canopy.

Tossing the bucket of "Rally-O Crap" into the back of the car, I raced back (as quickly as slippery sandals will allow) to release the dogs from their captivity and allow them to "sprint to freedom". Apparently "sprint to freedom" means different things to different dogs. To Gio, it meant high-tail it towards the parking lot, leap gracefully over the low fence and take shelter in the relatively dry car interior. To Romeo, on the other hand, it meant run frantically in circles, freaking out whenever he left the shelter of the trees and got pelted with rain/hail, eventually give up and pout in a soppy little Sheltie puddle to wait for me to rescue him and carry him to the car.

Of course, as soon as everything was loaded into the car, the rain immediately stopped and the sun broke free of the clouds.

The asphalt in the parking lot was covered in a sheen of water, the hot sun making steam rise in a few areas. I just couldn't pass this up to take a couple of pictures. Heck, the dogs and I were wet enough already, what's a little more puddle splashing, right? Romeo decided to remain in the car and pout over his miserable wet-dog existence. Gio was more open to a photo-shoot.

Thought this one was just too cute. Gio checking himself out in a puddle.

This one really shows the rising steam nicely! I love the reflection of Gio in the puddle an the bright sun shining through his fluff.

Despite how much I loved the other two pictures, I kept coming back to this one as my favorite. The sun flares and rays are just too awesome! It is our submission for our 52 Weeks for Dogs project this week.

If you would like to see Gio's entire (so far) 52 Weeks for Dogs project, check out our set on Flickr.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


In this tutorial, you will learn to simulate short hair, for that 1920s -1930s look. You don't need to cut your hair!

Classic 1950's Pin Up hair

Classic 1950's Pin Up Girl Fashion Tutorial

Simple 1950's Hairstyle

Pin Up Girl Hair Tutorial

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

I wanted an appropriately Canada themed photo for this week's 52 Weeks for Dogs Flickr photo project. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my flag. So I had to make due with a luggage tag and a stuffed beaver. Yes ... that brown thing is a stuffed beaver. They really don't have much of a shape to them, sorry.

Oh ... don't forget the cheesy photo editing for the background!

To make up for my lack of Canadian flotsam to take pictures with, I am drinking a fine Canadian beer and listening to Neil Young while preparing this blog post.

I think last year I posted some YouTube videos ... probably the "I am Canadian" beer commercial (never gets old!). To keep with tradition, here is some Classified. Love it!