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Happy Rhodesian Ridgeback Month!

It’s March 1, and you know what that means…Rhodesian Ridgeback, lion, blog, month

It’s National Rhodesian Ridgeback Month!

Full disclosure, there’s no such thing as National Rhodesian Ridgeback Month, but I’m not one to let a minor detail like that stop me from celebrating. In an age when seemingly every type of stationary and confectionary has it’s own holiday, I’m unceremoniously announcing today as the first officially unofficial celebration of N.R.R.M

And how did I pick March for this holiday? Easy.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, lion, blog, month

“March comes in like a lion, and out like a lion being chased by Ridgebacks!” Or, at least that’s how I think the saying goes

To celebrate, I’m happy to shave a ridge hair cut for you – free of charge. Alternatively, you can just check out this video about the rigors of Rhodesian Ridgeback life on the savannah/my futon.

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Prepping A Couple Turkeys

Alright team, we’re hosting Thanksgiving in Chicago for the first time ever. Emily’s parents are staying with us and my mom will also be in town. Everyone arrives tomorrow so we need to be totally prepared by the end of the day.

Kitchen prep work: check!

Clean house: check!

Bathed, teeth brushed: check!

Testing comfiness of the guest bed: check!

Hey, wait a minute. You guys aren’t allowed up there…

Not even with those eyes. Dogs off the bed: check!

As hosts, Eko provides the class while Penny provides the humor

The checklist is complete. Can’t wait to welcome family to our home for the holiday. Our two turkeys are prepped and ready to go.

There’s only one thing we can’t prepare for…

The terror of walking past this inflatable

Guess we’ll just have to walk the other way until Christmas decorations go up.

Ridgeback Family Reunion

Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. Just south of route 80 in Indiana, there’s also a place called Kokomo. We took a road trip down to Kokomo (Indiana) for a special visit to Stoney Run park.
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Stoney Run park is a nice, but non-descript park, so the pups were initially confused about the purpose of our trip

It wasn’t where we were that was special, it was who was there.

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John, Eko and Penny’s breeder, was in town for a lure coursing event with his pups

It was just about five years ago I met John for the first time. Over the years he’s been an incredible resource, mentor and friend. It’s always great to have the opportunity to get the gang together, especially for such a fun event.

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John and Eko

Not only did we get to see John and Bullitt (Penny’s brother), we also had the opportunity to meet Kali (Penny’s sister)

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Kali is the supermodel of the litter for sure. She’s tall, lean and shares Penny’s impish smile/attitude

Kali belongs to Max, an affable Aussie, who organized the meetup. One of the best parts about great dogs is they help you connect with great people. I got such a kick out of trading stories with Max and seeing how similar Penny and Kali were.

Eko was not as amused.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, adventure, lure course

“Are you kidding me? There’s ANOTHER Penny??”

After greetings it was time to get down to business. Lure coursing is an event where dogs chase a line of bags (lures) around a wire, generator powered, course. Eko went coursing once, over three years ago, and absolutely loved it.

That said, I suspected an older, more laid-back Eko might have lost interest in sprinting over nearly 700 yards of track.

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I thought my suspicions were confirmed when Eko didn’t even want to walk with John to the starting area

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But then the generator hummed to life and the lures fluttered

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An ancient switch flipped in Eko’s brain and he was completely locked in

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Eko ran wild! It was such a joy to see him fly around the course

Rhodesian Ridgeback, blog, adventure, lure course

Next up was Kali

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Like my two, Kali is quite social. She stopped mid-run to say hello to a passing couple, so John got her back on course

And where was Penny during all this? Losing her mind, of course.

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Can you tell she wanted to run?

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There was never a doubt here, Penny gleefully dashed around the course

After our runs we continued the family reunion by catching up with John’s other pups.

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Enzo and Vera are John’s youngest. I think he could have saved on gas by hitching these two to the front of his motorhome

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And why does that face look so familiar? Because it’s Molly, Penny’s mom!

After an awesome afternoon it was time to head home. We posed for one last photo with Kali, Eko, Penny and Bullitt.

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And in true dog fashion, the pups managed to look everywhere but at the camera

 

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Three out of four facing the camera, not bad!

From start to finish we had a perfect fall afternoon with perfect company. Thanks to Max for organizing such a fun meetup and to John for making the trip.

Check back tomorrow for some video of the pups in action.

Canadian Doubles

In tennis, when two players compete against a single opponent it’s called “Canadian Doubles.” It’s a fun skill game or it’s a necessary weighting of the sides in order to ensure a fairer competition. 

Around these parts we also can call 2 vs 1, “Penny Doubles”

Whether siblings, playmates or two pups who just met – Penny always seems to inspire dogs to join forces against her. 

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Recently Penny worked a couple of Husky siblings into a frenzy by “borrowing” a coveted stick

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The huskies were reluctant to let their prize go

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But Penny ran with the opportunity 

“Oh boy, she’s in trouble. They won’t give up,” the man with the Huskies said

“That’s exactly what she’s hoping for,” I replied

Penny led her pals on a wild frolic up and down the shore

The pups chased and barked and hounded Penny, unaware she was loving every minute of it

And just when it looked like the Huskies were calling it quits, Penny came to a halt. She let her pals tantalizingly close…

And then took off again with glee!

I was going to end this post by saying I don’t know why Penny inspires dogs to gang up against her, but I’m pretty sure it’s simply because she loves the mayhem of it all. Why have one dog chase you when you can rile up the whole beach?

A Dog Becomes A Dog

There’s a so-bad-it’s-good early 90’s movie called Encino Man. It’s about a caveman living in modernity. The well intentioned cave man is of course ignorant of all social customs and he struggles to fit in.

This weekend we hosted Doc, my brother’s 8ish-year-old pointer rescue, and it felt like we were filming a movie called Encino Dog.

We don’t know much about Doc’s history, but we do know Doc unfortunately had no socialization or training

Now, there’s no doubt Doc is a dog. However, he still needs plenty of help learning how to be a dog. This weekend’s sleepover provided Doc with the perfect opportunity to brush up on his burgeoning skills as a born-again pup.

Doc slept right alongside his cousins, and Emily and I were happy to tip-toe between pups in order to accommodate our guest

Doc doesn’t have much experience with novel environments so our apartment was a bonanza of new sights, smells and experiences. Throughout the weekend I’d find him marveling at some new piece of furniture or causing some hilarious puppy-esque mischief.

At one point I found Doc in the tub, taste testing our soap

Just about everything is new to Doc so I often found him lost in thought, trying to figure out what to do next. This was doubly true when it came to interacting with Eko and Penny. Playing with other dogs is still something Doc’s working on.

“So, you’re saying they do this for fun?”

Penny, shy as ever, decided to test Doc’s mettle 

“Okay, now I jump on her and bark? Got it.”

I think Doc is going to be just fine!

Doc may not quite understand the way of the pup-world, but his heart is certainly in the right place. And my heart? Well my heart melted every time Doc jumped on my lap, nuzzling closer for affection.

I think he’s making up for lost time

The best part of the weekend was undoubtedly my brother’s return. Doc practically jumped into his arms with joy. This was James’s first time away from Doc, so my brother was so happy to see Doc so happy.

Doc may have a lot to learn about being a dog, but he knows his loving home is with James. The rest is just details!

Dog (Apartment) Agility

Penny and I had our first agility class last week. It was an incredible experience, but like all things educational, the most crucial component is practicing what you’ve learned in class back at home.

Normally, Penny’s agility around the apartment takes one of two forms.

There’s “Naptime Agility” where Penny sneaks, slithers and scampers for the most comfortable position in the dog pile

And there’s “Brawling Agility” where Penny does her best to avoid the maw of her older brother

For our agility work, we’ll need to blend both of Penny’s natural agility proclivities into a a single, focused and working mindset. Great deeds have humble beginnings, so before Penny can whip through a full agility course we have to start at square one.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

A broomstick stuck between two stools. Very humble indeed

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Of course Eko had to come help Penny check out my work of modern art. As we learned in class, I didn’t encourage Penny to jump or lure her with a treat

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I let the pups get comfortable and sniff things out on their own

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“Oh Eko, I remember these jump-things now. It’s easy, watch me.”

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“You just walk around and get free treats!”

Not so fast Penny girl. Treats are only rewarded for interacting and moving towards/through the jump.

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“Okay, now can I have a treat?”

At this point I put down my camera and fully engaged in the exercise. Before long Penny was zooming back and forth across the broomstick on her own without any commands from me. We made some nice progress so I moved to our second exercise.

For this part of training I held treats out in my hand. Any time Penny went to eat them I would close my fist.

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“If you would just leave your hand open this would be a lot easier…”

Only when Penny completely disengaged with the treats on her own accord would she earn any. Penny quickly picked up on the reverse logic

Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, cute, training, chicago

“Yeah, sure Will. I definitely don’t want those treats….*wink*”

I’ll give it to you, broomsticks and self-control exercises aren’t quite the exciting experience you might imagine from dog agility, but that’s what makes fundamentals so important.

We’ve hand a number of opportunities to work on these drills this week, so now it’s time to head back to the classroom and see what we’ve learned. Back to school we go!

Fresh and Clean for the New Year

After the fun and frenetic holidays we have big plans for the weekend. We’ll all be pulling what I like to call a, “Penny after the beach.”2.1

“Hey, it’s Friday! I’m awake, let’s have some fun!”

2.2

“But the couch is comfy, maybe I’ll just close my eyes for a minute…:

2.3

…ZzzzzZZZZzzzzZZzzz…

2.4

But before we kick off our relaxing weekend, I had Penny and Eko kick off their collars for the first bath of the New Year

2.5

Eko and Penny, 2015 models, fresh off the lot!

We’ll be well rested, well groomed and well prepared to hit the ground running for the new year. Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Headed West

Between hosting Thanksgiving and attending my cousin’s wedding, I had a whirlwind, packed week back in NJ. Speaking of whirlwinds, the pups had a pretty good time too.
1.1

This three pup circus romped themselves silly all week

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To keep things fair, Eko often acted as referee

1.2

And of course we soaked up as much time as possible in front of the fire

We’re back on the road today, headed home to Chicago. Hope you had a great holiday, we’ll catch up with everyone once we make it back to the Windy City.

Puppy Logic: It makes perfect sense.

One of the questions I frequently ask Penny (with varying degrees of intonation/volume depending on circumstance) is “Why did you do that?” From the silly to the mischievous, Penny is always mixed up in some seemingly inexplicable encounter. After some extensive research I believe I have cracked the code as to the logic my puppy uses to make decisions.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, funny, marking our territory, adventure, blog, dogs

Well yes…but not really, Penny. That’s not how it works.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, funny, marking our territory, adventure, blog, dogs

See, that’s not right either. Eko giving up is not quite the same as him being comfortable!

Eko may be a bit more sensible these days, but he was once a puppy logic expert himself.

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Eko’s logic did not account for me picking him up and carrying him to the car

Now, I try to get Penny to look to me to think things through. But that doesn’t always work out. Here’s a quick flow chart illustrating a common occurrence.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, funny, marking our territory, adventure, blog, dogs

Penny likes to ask questions she’s already answered for herself

Puppy logic may be a bit faulty…

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But what she lacks in that department is more than made up for in the cute department. Cuteness always trumps logic

Don’t let that fool you into thinking puppy logic is always cute.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, funny, marking our territory, adventure, blog, dogs

Penny’s stare when she wants to go outside would make Clint Eastwood proud

It may not make sense, but somehow puppy logic also makes perfect sense. So let me hear it, what not-quite-right-yet-completely-true kinds of logic do your pets use to get what they want? 

Does your pet have a favorite place at home?

Most pups I know have a favorite bed, couch cushion or comfy crate where they love to curl up. Eko has a favorite place, but unfortunately it’s about 93 million miles from Earth and tends to move around a bit. Eko’s favorite spot is the sun.  In our old apartment Eko knew all the best sunbathing spots and would happily trade away cushions for better position in the sunshine.rhodesian ridgeback, sun, chicago

On cloudy days Eko would patiently wait for the sun to peak out… 

rhodesian ridgeback, sun, chicago

And then stretch himself as close as he could to his favorite star. You can practically hear him saying “Awwww, YES!”

rhodesian ridgeback, sun, chicago

He also mastered curling himself just-so in order to maximize sunlight. I swear Eko is solar powered

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*iEko – 87% – charging*

As we settle into our new place, Eko has played the part of Goldilocks, trying to find a new favorite spot that fits just right. I suspected it would be on the couch by the front windows.rhodesian ridgeback, sun, chicago

So I couldn’t figure out why he chose the futon in the back room where there is only a single window

I couldn’t figure it out because it had been cloudy over the past few days. Then one sunny afternoon it all clicked.

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“Wooo, new favorite spot, baby!”

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 “I LOVE DIRECT SUNLIGHT!”

I never should have doubted the little sundial. When we moved in he must have noticed the back room actually gets some of the best direct sunlight in the afternoon.

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One happy pup

If you can look at all of these photos of Eko’s big yawns in the sun and not yawn yourself, you have more self-control than I do. He looks pretty comfy, I think I may just ask him to move over!