Sunday, March 28, 2010

Barnyard Friends

Bingo had his meeting at a riding stable this week. He got to make some new friends. At the beginning though, he wasn't quite sure about the whole deal.

Initially shy of the big horse, as you can see in this video,

However, as you can see in this photo, he is very interested in the Shetland pony. They later touched noses and it was quite cute.

I'm not sure if it was a size thing, but when it came to the smaller animals (pygmy goats and Shetland ponies), he loosened up quite a bit. Watch his tail in this video.

Bingo got off lightly with those pygmy goats. Other dogs weren't so lucky. A couple of dogs got head butted by the goats! Fortunately, Bingo went for making friends with the pony and left the goats for a lost cause. I would like to think that I had something to do with that as I have an irrational dislike of goats. Well, it isn't really irrational. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation that harkens back to a petting zoo and a straw hat and straw purse. Suffice it to say, goats are evil! I think Bingo understood that he would have better luck with the pony.
He did not want to have anything to do with the pig. Flat out wasn't interested. Little porky wagged his tail, but Bingo wasn't buying it. Something about that snout wasn't right. Perhaps he had had enough strangeness for the night.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Signs of Bingo

Sure, we are on vacation, but we see signs of Bingo everywhere!

Is it that the EU is more aware of the disabled and seek to make life easier for them? (Now would be a good time for any of our readers over in the EU, if we have any!, to respond. Are things better, do you think, for the visually impaired in the EU?)

We hope our little man is doing well at the pet sitter's house and minding his manners. We'll be home on Wed. and will pick him up on Thursday morning and get the full report. Keep your fingers crossed he hasn't torn anything up or broken anything!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ireland Guidedogs

While we were riding the number 13A into the city center of Dublin today, we saw a man walking a very large Old English Sheepdog and a Husky. Since we were on the top level of a double decker bus (so cool, those!) I could only see a tiny portion of the sheepdog that Fred was pointing out. Very fuzzy.

We passed them and came to a stop at the next light. They caught up with us, Dublin traffic being what it is and while we waited around we heard a bunch of barking. Then Fred pointed out a visually impaired man with his black lab guide dog just up the way on the sidewalk. His dog-distracted guidedog. For as we slowly crept past we watched as the man had to come to a stop and wait as his dog became excited and distracted and essentially stopped working when he heard the two big dogs barking and coming his way. Granted, he wasn't lunging or barking or pulling his owner off his feet. But he was forcing him to stop and flounder around for a few minutes waiting for his doggy companion to work it out. Which he did. We assume. We drove on by.

And it made us miss Bingo. Our little dog distracted baby. He's getting better. Jennifer said so. I hope the pet sitters are having fun with him. I hope he's being a good boy. Seven more days.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Generally, Bingo is a sturdy, fireplug dog. He doesn't seem to have any problems (aside from an outrageous appetite!). But the other day during my body check, I noticed that in his right ear there seemed to be a little bit of smut.

Now, having raised a 110-pound mutt who had huge, floppy, moist ears with chronic ear infections, I am a master of the ear wash. I gave twice weekly ear washes for about 8 years. Today, Bingo was going to get his first ear wash.

First, I did an overall body check, running my fingers all over his frame looking for ticks or abrasions. I checked between his toes. Part of the reason we do body checks is to make Bingo body insensitive, in other words to make him feel very comfortable with someone playing with his feet, checking his teeth, running their fingers in his ears, etc., because that is what his owner will be doing nightly to insure that Bingo is in good health and has not stepped in something that might have hurt him. That body check also serves to bond Bingo with his owner. It's pretty important, so Bingo needs to quiet and calm when people check his feet, teeth and ears.

I called Bingo into the kitchen where I had all the accessories laid out: cotton balls and ear wash liquid. He was fine until he felt the first moist cotton ball and then his first thought was ESCAPE! I had to grab him and wrestle him into place. But what ultimately made Thud (our Great Dane/Lab mix) love ear treatments was the ear massage. So when I got to the part where I squirted in the liquid and inserted the cotton ball, I took my time and massaged the liquid and used the cotton ball to get rid of the excess.

Bingo was in total relaxation mode when I was finished and when I released him, he remained motionless.

Mission accomplished.

Bingo leaves today for the puppy sitter. There won't be any posts for 12 days. If you get a Spring Break I hope you enjoy it. If not, have a lovely weekend and see you in 12 days!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

On the Beach

By Fred
What a difference one week can make. The weather has turned from frigid to perfect, Bingo has lost some weight and is looking very good, and his performance at class, while not perfect, was arguably improved and not without some mitigating factors, as I will explain below.

This week our obedience class went for a nice walk on the beach. Too bad we don't have one of those super cool cameras that can capture the real beauty of the beach at night. (I love it, but Cheryl says the dark water scares her. Big baby.) It couldn't have been nicer.

Bingo did much better on the sand this time, except for sampling some seaweed and chasing after the surf as it retreated. All of the dogs did well--no fighting or craziness.

Then we moved up to the patio for some drills, and again this week was an improvement over last. Here's Jennifer, the SEGD trainer, trying to distract Bingo, but he's having none of it. Possibly he's getting better at handling distractions, and possibly his feelings are still a little hurt after Cheryl and Jennifer called him out for being fat last week? Poor guy...

I did have a nice talk with him, though, and I think, down deep, he feels better. Sometimes the truth hurts. We've cut down his food a little and we're going on some long walks, working on right-right and left-left and find the sidewalk.

Next week Cheryl and I are on vacation and Bingo will be staying with a new puppy-raiser family. We won't be surprised at all to find him better behaved on our return.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thunder Thighs

Wednesday night at obedience class, Jennifer stopped me and asked a seemingly innocent question:

“How much are you feeding Bingo?”

“Two cups in the morning and two cups at night,” I said.

“Three cups in the morning and two cups at night,” Fred said.

“WHAT?!” Jennifer hid a smile. I looked at Fred. “Three cups?”

“The manual said if he acts really hungry to feed him some more…during a growth spurt.” Fred said a bit defensively. I’m still sputtering about the three cups. Jennifer is trying not to laugh at us.

Jennifer said, “Well, he’s a little bit….” She looked down at Bingo.

Mind you, last week, someone had told Jan that Bingo was fat and I said, “No way! You can still see his indentation. “ So I quickly point out his indentation to Jennifer.

“Yes,” she agrees patiently. “He does have a good indentation, but you should be able to find his ribs and his spine easily.”

“Oh no. He’s a fatty.” I said.

So Bingo is now on a strict two cup in the morning, two cup at night food schedule. We’ve added in some longer walks to work on his “thunder thighs” as one of my co-workers deemed them.

Poor Bingo… Michelle Obama has it right, childhood obesity really is a problem!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting Closer

By Fred
All in all, we had a good training session with Bingo last night. Our class is made up of highly spirited dogs who are easily distracted, especially by other dogs, and last night we were able to get the dogs much closer together than before.

In the following video, Bingo and Mikey are only a few feet apart, with Mikey sitting in a Down Stay. Very impressive. Cheryl gives Bingo the Down command, but he looks up at the instructor for a few seconds to see if she has another suggestion--possibly a command that would be more fun--before he eventually complies.

Normally Bingo is very good at the Down command, but this time it was a little tough for him. And to be honest, I did cut out the end of this video--Bingo did not stay down for very long. Let's just say that his subsequent actions were inappropriate, but that's OK. We have all moved on.

Still, the dogs were much closer together than last week. Things are looking up. Just a few weeks ago none of this would have been possible.

Meanwhile Cheryl is away on a school trip for a few days, and it's up to me to maintain the emotional balance of our house in her absence (for the dogs' sake), so I've had two extra cups of coffee today and am resolved to be cheerful and talk to the dogs frequently. It's a tough job.