Friday, September 30, 2011

Tangled in the bushes

The video speaks for itself: the pros and cons of a long lead. Fortunately the Swedish made Paw 10m lead is not just a pretty pink, but round strong nylon cord which slides around bushes and obstacles easily, doesn't eat dirt, doesn't give me too bad rope burn when Claire bolts-and reflects at night for safety. I'm washing it now, as I do every few days depending on the wear... 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nanny Claire

Claire is so good with small kids...this little boy wanted to pet her, so his mother showed him how to make a flat hand to feed her. Claire is great at waiting for treats, and then ever so gentle taking it from the kids' hands, she's a natural. She was so popular, I couldn't take pictures of all the kids who approached!  
She matches her walking pace with the toddlers and sits down quietly to let mothers and wee ones pet her. I was touched by her loving restraint and uncomplaining patience-all mother, all eternal feminine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tea for two

Claire was barking furiously at the gate, and I went to see what was up: Fuku (Lucky) and his mum  had come wandering by, and were really surprised at the cold reception.  "This is our new dog Claire, come on in and make friends," I said, so they dropped in and we chatted over iced tea while Fuku explored. Fuku chomped up a bit of kangaroo bone lying abandoned on the carpet, and Claire sat down to listen to us talking. We chatted about dog training options, and Fuku can already walk to heel and sit and wait, but his mum wants to work with him some more. We went for a short walk together to check out the location of Dog cafe Anjing before saying goodbye.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Canine Heartworm Medication

Today is the day for Claire's monthly dose of canine heartworm medication-i feed her on the 27th of the month. She's on a course of Cardomec Heartguard Plus which uses Ivermectin to kill any microfilaria and worm larvae infection she may have in her bloodstream.  The best description of the infection I've found, the terrible damage it can do to the dog's lungs and life, and how to treat it, is here in Japanese provided by Chibawan if you're interested. Fortunately it's easy to prevent with regular medication, and because I'm hysterically paranoid of worms I make sure Claire gets her dose regular as clockwork. The chewy tablet goes down well along with other small treats: just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in the most delightful way! (Mary Poppins). When times are stressful she gets a long chew on a kangaroo bone or a pig's ear to keep her occupied and relax her: no stress, no worms, good exercise, healthy kibble, careful grooming, oodles of love: happy dog!
Claire playing with my friend Mitsuko

A quote from Dr. Patricia McConnell's (2005)"For the love of a dog:understanding emotion in you and your best friend": Of all the animals on earth, few seem to express happiness and joy as well as a dog. A happy dog can't seem to contain his emotions within his own body; exuberance radiates off dogs like light from a sparkler.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Radio Calisthenics

Dog's eye view: see the pigeon?
I used to make fun of it, I admit: standing in a circle moving your body in a desultory fashion with the radio blaring slightly militaristic piano music and a man with a gruff voice shouting unintelligible commands...until I met and made friends with the participants on my daily morning walks, and Claire being entranced motionless by birds I am at a loose end.   
I started out copying the actions from afar, and realized I was stretching places my morning walk didn't cater to. I'd been having trouble with stiff shoulders and aching neck this summer, and I could feel the stretching working those muscles loose and the benefit lasting all day. This is nothing to sniff at, I thought, it's free and we're in the park anyway...and now Claire has got used to being tied to a tree from 06:30to06:40 while Mum does weird gyrations with the group.
Claire is not the only dog: Arthur guards the radio up in the slide while we exercise, and Ran (Orchid) sits upright by her Mum. Claire of course is sitting alert checking out the pigeons while she waits.

Radio Calisthenics is broadcast by NHK, but apparetly it was the post-war era brainchild of a US life-insurance company, Metropolitain. It's funny how the Japanese have adopted it so successfully and are all fit, healthy and consequently blessed with longevity.

The Japanese teach it at school, and I remember in the summer holidays when the kids were small I was on a roster to take the radio to our neighboring park and be a role-model for various local children, which was a bit of a disaster as I didn't know what to do. 
I still don't know what to do, but I copy everyone around me in the circle and it gives me a warm feeling of companionship. What I like best is the way everyone says "Thank you!" at the end before we all part our separate ways, and Claire and I are back to active pigeon hunting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dog Cafe Anjing

Saturday was a local day, and we went to Dog Cafe Anjing for supper. It's always intrigued me, but I never had the chance to drop in, what with our family being a cat family until this year. It's only open on Saturdays from lunch through the evening, and we walked over with Claire around six in the evening. The friendly owners explained "anjing" meant "dog" in Thai. Dog cafe Dog.

The owners have decorated it Bali style, and the music is like something out of Seikendensetsu in one of the woody scenes, weird and unusual and burbling in the background. They own two shorthaired dachshunds who were quite vocal, and another dachshund couple were there, so the four of them set up a rousing chorus which left Claire quite unfazed. I helped her climb up in the roomy wood chairs and we sipped drinks waiting for the garlic chicken we had ordered.
I wasn't too hungry, but the food was good home-cooked fare, with salad and rice. Claire enjoyed her doggie plate which was chicken with sweet potato, two of her favorites. Gone in a twinkling! It was fun to be able to drink once in a while, and I enjoyed the plum liqueur on the rocks immensely. A short walk home, and no shopping, cooking or washing up: heaven!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Motomachi Dog

I was writing about canine good citizenship yesterday and decided to see how Claire does with crowds, so it being a public holiday we went to tourist spot Motomachi which was guaranteed to be overflowing with people. Claire behaved with great decorum, walking close to me and weaving in and out of the crowds beside me, with never a tug on the leash or moment of hesitation.

Quite a few people wander round there parading their darling dogs, and as we walked up the main shopping street we met a cute one-year-old sheepdog. Claire was not too keen on sitting down with all the crowds milling around, but finally agreed to sit and pose for the camera. After stopping to chat, we continued on our way to Slow Cafe, where you can eat lunch with your dog on the terrace.

In spite of the rather unexciting decor on the terrace, the food there was actually surprisingly good, simple, healthy fare: brown rice, hijiki, tofu hamburger, green salad and a carrot salad with almonds strewn on top. The coffee came with real heated milk, which always makes the difference to my coffee experience, and they were even so kind as to provide a refill ( I like a lot of cream).
We met the cutest kids with their Japanese Mum and Granma, and they reminded me so much of my own boys at a similar age, totally adorable. They were really into Claire so I gave them some dogfood, and they took turns to feed her, giggling and laughing and having fun.

 The older boy started to try and get her to do tricks, offering the food and then pulling his hand away, placing the food on her nose, and so on, which could have annoyed her, but she took it with fortitude. When I noticed I said it was unfair on her, and perhaps to just use "Wait" for a moment before giving her the treat, she could do that.  A tiny greyhound also came by, and as always it is such a pleasure talking to doggie people, the energy flows and everyone is having a good time.
From Slow Cafe we made our way through Motomachi Park and up the hill to the bluff, and the Gaijin Bochi cemetary was open to visitors. Although I've been past there many times, I've never been inside, so we took advantage of the rare opportunity and walked round the graveyard taking pictures here and there. We hadn't bargained with the cats who normally hang out in the secluded cemetary: Claire immediately discovered one taking an afternoon nap, and after she fled in terror there was no stopping Claire sniffing here and there and pulling on the leash to hurry up mummy and let's go find more cats, this place smells tantalizing... 

After a fun walk through the Umi ga Mieru Oka Park and the Rose Garden enjoying the views of the Bay Bridge and the sea, (the roses were out of season, so only a minimal amount blooming), we got tired and decided to walk back down the hill... check out our last venue of the day, a small doggie pub situated between the Motomachi main shopping street, and Chinatown across the river.
Question had a fun sign saying "If you don't like dogs, don't bother coming in", and each table had a doggie chair for the dog to sit on. It was a little small for Claire, but she was so delighted with the opportunity to get her nose level at the table with us she made do with the limited space on the chair, and feasted on the plate of doggie treats the owner brought for her. We ordered a couple of drinks, me taking over the role of driver home, so only a grapefruit juice, but it was a really neat place...somewhere to go for an evening out getting sloshed with the pooch.  

Check out this happy dog smile!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Canine good citizen

I was talking to a friend about the canine good citizen test: apparently in Japan it is very strict, a status thing, and if you fail on even one item, that's it, your out. Personally I feel that kind of undermines the whole idea of the test, which is as I see it to  have some kind of visual marker/badge for people who don't know much about dogs to be confident they're safe, to trust your dog will be gentle and relaxed with them, other people and other dogs round about.  The ten US test items are:
  • ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER - well, Claire is good with this, sits down to wait while I chat.
  • SITTING POLITELY FOR PETTING- again, Claire is a sweetie, and doesn't mind when people pat her after talking to me.
  • APPEARANCE AND GROOMING- Claire will hold still for shampoos and at the vet, and waits patiently while I shower her feet after every walk, although I can tell she doesn't much like it. I comb out her burrs quite a bit, too, so methinks she is fine on this item too. 
  • OUT FOR A WALK (WALKING ON A LOOSE LEASH)- she readily comes when I change direction, and doesn't pull, we have a good thing going  here.
  • WALKING THROUGH A CROWD- I haven't tried this one yet, but I don't think she'd mind too much if I keep the leash short and ask her to heel. 
  • SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND/STAY IN PLACE-We're working on this one with Dodo sensei in our obedience training. She'll do it but sort of condescendingly, as if she finds the whole thing boring and a little absurd. 
  • COMING WHEN CALLED-Again we're working on this one. Basically she responds in her own time, rather than snappily. Probably will improve over time with reinforcement. But she does take note of me, and come with me, and to me.
  • REACTION TO ANOTHER DOG- Like she'll sit down so she doesn't get sniffed. At any rate she doesn't bark or jump around to play or anything, so perfect, I guess. 
  • REACTION TO DiSTRACTIONS- she's used to wheelchairs what with Granma, and doesn't chase after bicycles, not a jumpy nervous dog at all.
  • SUPERVISED SEPARATION - she'll wait on the leash outside the store when I go in for shopping, and I'm sure she'd be ok for this, very different from Sofie who had separation anxiety.
Claire about to accept treats from the local kids 
All in all as far as I can see, Claire would pass the good citizen test how hard can the Japanese make it??? I read that in the US test, if the dog performs well on all the other items, one item can be repeated at the end again to see if it was just nerves and the like...Ah well, for the moment tests are irrelevant, we're just going to work on reinforcing the basics with Dodo sensei. Clearly Claire was perfect already when she came to us from CACI, and I am more than satisfied with this darling dog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Typhoon damage

 Went for a walk in Yokohama's Shinrin Park and was shocked to see how many trees had been uprooted by the typhoon winds...

Not just fallen dead branches, which were strewn everywhere and snagged on the leash as Claire gallivanted, but split trunks, as if snapped and uprooted by bands of crazy orcs:

There must have been ten or more giants down in various parts of the park, and the machine saws roared as park staff set to clearing up the fallen giants.

Fortunately where the crone rides, the great mother follows with seeds of new life in her lap, the autumn harvest resplendent in the midst of the cull.
Claire was approached by a one year old golden retriever running free, and we stopped to chat with the owner, who put her back on the leash...Claire always sits down to avoid being sniffed too invasively in her nether regions, and she's not too keen on other dogs, but she bore with it for the sake of being polite, plus she was tired from dashing all over the place. I'm so glad we took her out this morning, now as evening falls it's raining again and I can't take her for a healthy run.

Tempura Soba with Claire: Wankosoba Rotta

In a perfect location for lunch at the Odawara fork in the roads, where you can choose to go on up the mountains to Hakone or down the sea coast to Izu, there is a doggie soba restaurant, even offering a complimentary bowl of soba for your canine companion.

I called Wankosoba Rotta in advance to make a reservation, and they said it's first come first served, but it's mainly crowded on holidays...when we arrived, lo and behold, we were fourth on the waiting list and the restaurant only has three places. We went for a wee walk, and then settled by the entrance to wait, while Claire lapped the water from the fish bowl at the entrance to the main restaurant reserved for humans, which was virtually empty.
We had fun chatting to the other people waiting, and got hot tips on new places to go explore. One couple was heading down to hot springs and doggie fun at Mutsumian, which looks fantastic but seems to cost a pretty penny too. Perhaps later on in the year...Another friendly couple had two gorgeous brown poodles done in Mohican cuts with Ultraman t-shirts, both rescues, and it was fun to enthuse and share stories. I wish i'd taken their picture. I guess it was too hot to think straight!
 But it was worth the wait! Claire had a fantastic bowl of cool water in a soba style Japanese lacquer bowl, and i indulged with delicious tempura soba - yummy. It was fun to watch her eating soba, like a child they were in her throat but still not down, and she had a bit of a tussle before she began to bite them into shape...we left bits strewn all over the floor, I am ashamed to say, and I guess I should have fed her like most Japanese doggie mamas do. Check out the link to another Suzuki blog of a smaller dog enjoying his soba . This doggie restaurant is FUN!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Walking in the rain

Here is Claire on our typhoon morning walk. Check out the wet bedraggled ears...The raincoat is a handmedown from a friend's black labrador Leo, who passed away last autumn. It still has good friendly doggie smells from Leo and Sofie, who wasn't quite as tubsy as Claire but made good use of it. I'm avoiding the woods, so Claire doesn't rush off and get her front paws caught in the raincoat and trip up (when it gets wet, it hangs down low, not being quite the right girth for her), but a sedately walk is fine once in a while. We try out new alleyways and cul-de-sacs I've never been down either, making a wide explorative loop around the house...Off we go!
walking in the rain Grace Jones...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Setter Rescue-Cain

On Sunday after a lazy morning we made our way to Umi no Koen in the debilitating heat to visit Cain and his foster mama Maki, who were participating in an Anipro event to save dogs in the Yokohama area from the gas chamber (actually the needle now, but it's much of a muchness). Tosh valiantly offered to queue in line to park the car, and I set off with Claire while he waited.It took us a while to find the enclosure, I got lost in the flea market crowds on the wrong side of the station, so I phoned Maki who kindly came to find me and we walked over together.
I was surprised that Cain, while being a male, was actually a lot smaller than Claire. Definitely his eyepatch is like Claire's, and he's a setter through and through, watching the hawks as they wheeled over the beach and pines. He nibbled at some treats I gave him, and we walked down to the water's edge so Tosh could easily find us, and Claire took a dip while Cain had a photo shoot- he's up for adoption, so let's hope he finds a good home soon-he's a real cutie! If you're interested check out my links :P

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jody and Purin Overnight Stay

We set out Friday lunch for Jody and Purin, a doggie hotel with dogruns, great French cuisine and Japanese baths (no baths in Woof, only the room unit bath). The owners and their golden retrievers meet you in the living room for evening yoghurt and a doggie chat, which was fun, although I was totally bloated from the generous portions of the delicious French full course meal and felt loath to leave our room again...Claire decided she'd rather flake out than join the action.
Evening Chat with the Owners
 and their golden retrievers Jody and Wolf
The hotel is an easy drive down the Tomei and one other expressway, and we arrived a little before the three o'clock check in time, so parked the car and headed for the dog run, a short walk down the hill from the hotel. The pictures speak for themselves: Claire scampered around, and when gunshots were fired somewhere down the hill (Manazuru's a hunting area) she cantered and pranced with great interest. When she got hot she jumped in the doggie pool with great relish, a joy to behold.
Claire on the go