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The Adventures of a Chocolate Dog

To take or not to take?

On Sunday our “family unit” went out to celebrate Easter with some friends. We’ve had a tough debate about whether Freya should stay at home or come with us. I have recently decided to spend more quality time with the Chocolate dog, so I was arguing in favour of taking her with us. Bogdan was against. 

What do you think? If you are going out celebrating, and it is expected to be noisy and crowd-y, but animal-friendly, would you take your pup with you?

Does the argument of “getting the dog comfortable with big crowds and human noises” make sense to you?

Or does the argument of “better she’ll be with us and get tired of human interaction, rather than at home alone and bored” make you agree or disagree with it?

I won the argument – family unit together in the metro

Sunny forest, sticks and scary faces

Easter Saturday. Freya is having this new thing of getting exciting about each stick she notices on the ground. Sometimes she tries to collect two, three of them in her mouth. The bigger, the better. The best ones are actual trees, sometimes she tries to carry a tree which is as wide as her body. Sometimes she likes to carry them sticks for kilometers.

Today she was having sunny Saturday morning zoomies in a little forest nearby, when she spotted The Stick. It was actually a young tree laying on its side; it was still “attached” to the ground from one side. Freya took the whole thing in her mouth and started to advance through the dense forest. Ow, snap, it broke. This is what I captured in this moment:

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Another highlight of today was meeting another chocolate Lab girl. In our hoods, there are a few choco Labs, but they are all boys. It was interesting to finally see the size and composition of a girl version, and to compare the two beasts. The guest star is 7 years old (Freya is two now).

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The new friend was not as good at sitting and waiting as Freya was >:-D All the fuss got Freya super excited, so this is what I caught on tape next:

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Unbelievably scary faces this beast makes sometimes. No wonder I’ve had a nightmare about her last night.

Question to the readers: Do you also think Freya got fat since last summer’s Pet Event?

 

When someone takes a dog, they also take colorful autumn forest, foggy courtyard in the morning, frosty moon over the roofs, a  meadow full of dandelions. You’ll take a dog – and the world becomes bigger. Because you leash the dog, climb out of your box, and the world opens up to you.

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Idea for this post came from group “АВД | Актуальные вопросы дрессировки собак” on VK.com

Test: Purina DentaLife

Once upon a time, Freya was chosen as tester for Purina DentaLife Daily Care sticks. Here’s one excited and happy mutt munchin’ on her toothbrush!

Test: Purina DentaLife from Freya’s Owner on Vimeo.

Freya at Pet Event V

Last weekend was a huge milestone for Freya’s and our lives. We have participated in a dog talent show, organised at the city level. Freya was one of the very few mixed-breed/adopted dogs competing. I feel like I need to give some background intro, especially because I haven’t been writing very often recently. If you want to read the short version of what we did, go below to “Freya’s accomplishments”. (More photos will be in a separate post, when I get them from the official event photographer.)

Why we participated in Pet Event V

I wanted to go there ever since I heard about this event last August, when we started regular training with my canine club “Prietenii lu’ Adi”. At that point, Freya was too young to participate in Ham Talent pet show, and to be honest I was not sure if I want to see us on TV. It seemed like too big of a fuss for what I thought a hobby-like “non-serious” learning through playing. While most people over here, in Romania give their dog to a handler “to be trained”, I wanted to train her and with her myself, to create a trust bond and to know each other. This is also why I have joined Prietenii lu’ Adi in the first place.

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Club members present at Pet Event on Saturday 4.6.2016

But after Freya has turned 1 year, Bogdan and I have been taking a lot of effort to take her to new places and introduce her to new situations. People with babies – please don’t get offended! Training a young dog is psychologically the same process as teaching your baby the baby steps. You need to be patient, you need to be trustworthy and protecting, but at the same time build your trust in them and let them explore and decide what – and how – they will become.

Before the Pet Event I said to many people that I don’t like competing. This still holds, I hate the feeling of finding who’s the best at something, because everyone is so different! With their own capacities and moodiness and bad days.

We went to Pet event for the experience. I wanted to introduce Freya to an environment with many new, sometimes unfriendly, dogs, with children hugging her and with staying for 9 hours in +30C outside. I wanted to see how will she behave and how will she get over her feeling of discomfort. And oh, she was on fire!

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Freya’s new cool trophey bandana by upcycling workshop Redu

 

Freya’s accomplishments at Pet Event

We participated in almost all tests. I mean, the tests-competitions were not on, like super-professional agility/whatever competition level. They were more for funzies. In “Track of temptations“, Freya briskly walked next to me, past all kinds of laying-around food, treats and still/moving toys. We won the first place.

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First 1st place ever

The “Obstacle track” was a soft version of dog agility. There were a hurdle, a cat walk, two more hurdles, weaving flags, and the last hurdle. Freya did everything correctly except that she missed one weaving flag.

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Basic agility equipment

I was most impressed by her excellent performance on top of the “cat walk” – if you didn’t know this, my dog is afraid of heights, any sort of heights. She also never saw a “cat walk” in her life. And there she was, just leisurely walking on top of it with really visible enjoyment. What the…? We got the first place in this competition as well, which was very surprising to me because Freya normally does not even like the obstacle course.

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All winners and “mentions”. More than half of the dogs in this winners’ line is from Adi’s club

Then there was “Catch the treat” playful competition, where, guess what, the dog was supposed to sit and to catch treats with her mouth in mid-air. Freya is really lame in this one, she always gets the ball in her ear or the treat under her chin… so I was thinking that no way I am going to participate in this one because we will just be the jester for everyone. But then I saw that most competing dogs were too hot and unwilling to cooperate, and I decided to give it a shot.

Freya came second!!!! What?! She caught 12 treats in the row, it was so impressive that my face was permanently imprinted with puzzlement for the next half-an-hour. How?! Until then, our top result was three caught treats in a row. There must have been something really special in the way Freya was enjoying everyone’s and commentator’s attention. That crocodile.

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But the competition which was the most important to me, was the one called “Beauty contest”. In practice, it assessed, well, the beauty of the dog, but also the relation between the dog and the owner, and also how which kind of extra tricks the dog knows. We pulled out the usual, sit-lay-stand-heel-wait-leg and then we did an extra which we just invented the day before, and didn’t have the time to practice. It was dog going around me in the circle clockwise x3 circles, while I rotate “inside”counter-clockwise. Then she comes in front of me and does a few spins clockwise and counter-clockwise. It was fun!

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Guess what. We won the first place in that one. The freaking beauty / talent! Freya is the the most talented dog in town. The street stray just nailed it. I hope this will encourage more people to adopt instead of buying puppies. You see, strays and mixed-breeds are not less intelligent, or less trainable, or less… anything.  I also hope it will encourage more people to build that relationship with their dog. We have everything – computers, friends, phones, parties, but the dog has just us. Just me. Sometimes I raise my head from work, and I realise that Freya has been staring at me from her bed for quite some time, with that loving long stare of hers. I think she’s in love. Stalker.

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So here’s the pile of prizes that we got from the Pet Event home.

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Sleepy Freya is thanking everyone for supporting her in her accomplishments

How we did it

I want to write, in the end, who made it possible that Freya and I won all those tests. It was never just me and Freya working, but it was a huge mountain of piled-up inspirations over the years. Here they are in chronological, not importance, order.

  • my mom, who encouraged me to love animals and always brought home plenty of animal-related books for me to read
  • Writer Boris Ryabinin and especially his book “My Friends” (in Russian), the book on growing and training of two writers four-legged friends. This book was the most influential dog book of my childhood, and although I read it for the last time over 15 years ago, passages  from it still come to my mind here and then
  • my boyfriend Bogdan, who helped me over those periods of dog training when my patience and determination were really low, and who co-trained Freya with me throughout the whole time she was with us
  • Adi Radulescu, for teaching me how to grow a psychologically balanced and intelligent dog, and how to work with her, and for being a great friend and supporter
  • Prietenii lu’ Adi club members, for their keeping to come back in our lives, with their dogs, and being always there for us when we were tired, frustrated, or lost

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    Dora and Freya
  • Dora and her handler Vlad – for always being better and whipping my ego so that I wanted to teach Freya to be as good as Dora was even before we’ve joined the club. Guys, we are not there yet, but we are on your tail mwahaha
  • the winners of Romanian Ham Talent 2015 – King and his handler Teodora Dinulescu. A couple of chats with Teo have really inspired me to grow and to go beyond the basic, the usual and the expected. They have inspired me to identify our own goals, and to invent our own creative solutions.
  • That Dog Dancing Guy, thank you for your excellent tutorial videos and inspiration
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Freya thanks and exits

Freya 12 months

Freya 11 months

 

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Freya 11 months (and a couple of days)

 

Triple the excitement

Showing-off at the training

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Freya, Ozzy (back) and Hera

I’m in love with… Yaman

I have already written about Yaman. He is a magnificent Caucasian Shepherd… puppy of 1 year 2 months. This gentle giant has a weight of 78 kilograms, so this makes a gap between him and Freya 4 months and 60 kilograms. For some reason, Yaman took a liking on Freya, and lets her do with him everything she wants.

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Size difference

At the beginning, we were very cautious to let little Freya “play it rough” with Yaman. After all, just one his paw is thicker than her whole body. But then Freya showed us that this worrying is really not worth the time.

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Playing it rough with the Gentle Giant

Yaman is really very gentle with Freya. Not only he lets her do anything she wants (even lay on his back, or jump over him, of which we are still to make photo evidence), but also he is really understanding when he plays with her. He lets her chew his ears, his neck, his tail, generally leaving large pucks of fur in her teeth. He lets her really almost violently paw him. The only thing he ever does to her if it gets too much, is sit on top of her. 🙂

This attitude makes Freya frantically happy around Yaman:

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Freya: “I love to play it RUFF with this one!”

Yaman doesn’t only let Freya do anything to him. He also lets me – sometimes – to roll him over to his side and to scratch his belly. He is so huge and fluffy, and his head is triple bigger than mine, and I think I’ve fallen in love with Yaman, too.

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Can’t resist
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This is a starting position for belly-rub roll-over

He even lets me ride him. He didn’t let to take a picture of the ride, though – just sit down as soon as camera was pointing at him, and pretended it didn’t happen. His dignity probably weighs more than himself 🙂

 

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Who said something about a ride? What’s a ride even?

Another hobby of Yaman is to take selfies. His favourite selfie pal is Adi. Yaman prefers to take selfies with max. one other person, because he is concerned that otherwise his royal face won’t fit in the frame.

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Selfie for two
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Freya: “My giant <3”

All pictures are by Adi Radulescu and from past weekend’s (23-24 Jan 2016) training sessions.

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