Accidentally Off-Leash


Boomer doesn’t wear his collar indoors so it often stays attached to the leash. I must’ve clipped the leash to the wrong D-ring on his martingale this morning (it was kind of early). The morning walk went well but the one after work today….

He was filled with pent up energy when I got home so off for a walk we went. The good weather & route must’ve convinced him we were going to play fetch. He marched in front of me looking neither left nor right. He tried to cross the road to the park entrance but I kept going. He planted his feet. To my surprise, he slipped out of his collar. I recognized that glint in his labby eyes. No way was he going to obey a recall.

He hightailed it back, raced across the road, and ran into the walkway that led to the playing field & woods. Luckily for us both, we were on a low-traffic road and there weren’t any cars. Once I saw him get safely across the street, I breathed a sigh of relief and jogged after him. Woods vs playing field? No contest.

See what he keeps near him as he naps? So yes, Boomer took himself to the field for fetch. I didn’t have any balls to throw but he came over as soon as I caught up. As always, he sat in front of me in anticipation of the first throw. Instead, I slipped the collar back on, re-clipped the leash properly, and headed home. Thinking back, I’m glad I didn’t try to recall him. At most, he might’ve paused in the middle of the road and that I didn’t want. And hooray for routine kicking in.

Note to self – double check the leash & collar when it’s early, early in the morning.



It was so nice today that after fetch in the field and a walk, we went for a coffee & another walk (this one meandering). Boomer is now one quiet, napping puppy. Except when he hears door knocks or bells on the TV.

Shelter Senior Dogs


I started looking at the SPCA adoption page three years ago. Today, I noticed a lot of senior dogs (age 8+). Counted 15 out of 54 dogs as senior. I wonder how they ended up at the SPCA. I can think of some valid reasons and some not so valid. How confusing & bewildering it must be for them.

Dog Hints


Boomer’s on his second Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone. They’re tough but don’t hurt your toes too much when your dog drops one on your foot. They float too but who wants to risk $22 plus tax worth of recycled, BPA-free, thermoplastic elastomer floating away? Not me. I risk the $7 plus tax Chuck-It balls instead.

Okay, that’s the context. Here’s the scenario – recovering from flu. Lying in bed. Door closed, dog lying on other side in the door. I hear dog get up and pad away. He returns and drops the Hurley dog bone. Picks it up, drops it again. In animal circles, this is known as a canine hint. Dog goes away. Comes back. This time, a Chuck-It ball is dropped on the hardwood. It rolls away. I hear scrabbling sounds. Dog returns. A moment of silence, then another bouncing ball.

Now he’s lying outside the door waiting for me to emerge. I might be able to take him out tomorrow, poor guy. He needs more exercise than he’s been getting. His walks have been sporadic and the house barely holds him for indoor fetch. There’s a wall that’s going to need a bit of spackle & re-painting.

Dogs of Japan



I didn’t realize this statue of Hachiko was at the Shibuya station in Tokyo. My first pass through the area, there was a cat lying on top of the pedestal between Hachiko’s front paws (blurry pic, semi ma sen). A crowd of people were taking turns gently petting him/her. It took a while before I could get an almost clear shot. Even regular commuters were doing double takes & stopped to take a photo. Funny how memory works because I thought there was a garland of artificial flowers but clearly, that’s a false memory. When I got back later that night, the statue was without audience and without cat. “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” makes me cry each time I see it – especially since it’s based on the true story of Hachiko. I was so pleased to stumble upon his statue. For some reason, I imagined it was located in a small town. I never imagined to find it here at the most famous, pedestrian intersection in the world.

Didn’t see many big dogs in Japan. Saw quite a few small ones but many were being held like babies or holding court in pet strollers. Pet stores seem to use the Labrador retriever as mannequin models and logos but the gear is all for small dogs (except the beautifully-made, $80 costume of Stitch from “Lilo & Stitch” that I was tempted to buy). I’ve never seen such a variety of dog clothes, dog strollers, and human backpacks for dogs to ride in. In one store, a young staff member was valiantly trying to size clothing based on a cell phone pic of a Yorkie. I saw two male miniature poodles wearing designer belly bands but I still don’t understand how owners deal with the business end of walking around with their dogs. Public garbage cans are rare!

Any way, like Europe, Japan seems more comfortable with dogs in public spaces than we are here in Canada. They were at all the sites I visited. Not a lot but enough to represent their species. At the bamboo forest in Kyoto, a man was with his aged Akita which calmly accepted attention from and pics with strangers. Looked very Hachiko-like as it lay at the side of the walkway. Shiba Inus everywhere too. Nothing but calm dogs, including the two large Irish Setters (?) I saw.

Saw this fine fellow at the Kinkakuji or Golden Pavillion in Kyoto.

Either public pressure means you only see calm dogs in public or all dogs are calm because they can go everywhere in public. I lean towards the latter theory.

The other thing that puzzles me – where are all the dogs? So many pet stores (at least where I went), yet only a few dogs out and about at any one time. I know I was in crowded touristy places but still…

On a side note, I try to respect local customs and beliefs but couldn’t bring myself to eat horse (meat) sushi.

Whoa, Boomer’s Twin!


I wonder why his people/person gave him up.

Edited to Add: [From the South Peace SPCA’s Facebook page]

“This is Copper! He loves walks and playing and a good bone 🙂 Copper is also great with kids. Copper is working hard on house training, he just needs a bit more help.”

Fetch Break


A lot of running around the field makes for a happy, tired dog. I still have to keep an eye on his excitement level and with the snow, the ball too. He doesn’t always see where it lands. That’s when we both end up running around the field – he loops around sniffing above the snow while I try to find the ball before I lose track of where it is.

Happy New Year!


A Happy New Year to you!

Boomer tore around the backyard this morning. Fresh snow. I lobbed snowballs high in the air just to watch him leap into the air over and over again to catch them. A nice way to shake off sleep.

This leap is from an earlier snowfall. Dog joy.

The Joy of Dogs


Hello, sunshine!

joy2joy4 joy1 joy3 * * * * *

Vet gave Boomer a clean bill of health. His best guess? Male and female dogs are attracted to dogs with infections/blockages fore (ears) or aft. The hypoallergenic diet (less fibre) caused problems which were resolved by the groomer. I’ve slowly switched his kibble to one for sensitivity but with more fibre. I’m also adding water to his meals to improve hydration. Hopefully, that’s all there is to it.

Mystery Problem


This post gets detailed. If you’re not used to talking about the poop end of things, run away!

Last weekend, a friend and I took our dogs for a walk. Our dogs are generally indifferent to each other once they sniff hello. Near the end of my visit, her dog suddenly took a strong interest in Boomer’s back end. Thought it was odd but didn’t think of it again until a few days later.

Due to a temporary change in routine, Boomer went to big dog daycare this week for three days. Although there were a few new dogs since his last visit last year, the main pack was the same. When I went to pick him up the first day, the owner (she’s a hardcore lab person) asked if Boomer had been around an intact female in heat. Apparently, a lot of the male dogs (neutered and not) were treating him like he was one. They had to group him with females to give him a break from all the attention. They said the dogs were better behaved whenever Boomer went for a swim in the pool. They suggested I take him to the vet and perhaps ask for the adrenals to be checked.

I called the vet clinic to see what they advised. The vet tech phoned back, left a message that said my vet thought it was a behavioural issue of submission (Boomer) and dominance. I disagreed but didn’t have time to follow up. When I told the dog daycare owner, she vehemently disagreed. She pointed out that dogs who played with Boomer before were now acting differently towards him and that he was not a submissive dog. My thoughts exactly.

The next two days, the report was the same. By Friday, male dogs (neutered or not), one female dog and a four-month old puppy were also persistently harassing Boomer. I asked the groomer to check his anal sacs. They were full but not impacted. She expressed them and noted the colour was darker than normal. Then, before I could stop her, she checked for polyps (said there were none). When she held up her gloved hand, there was dark blood on her fingers (she said she hadn’t scratched any surface).

For the second time, the owner strongly recommended I take Boomer to the vet. With blood involved, that would be a yes. Adding to that, Boomer has recently been acting constipated on and off but no blood in his stools. Thought of adding pumpkin to his meals but he was still doing his business regularly (which the daycare staff confirmed), so didn’t think it was anything serious.

The mention of blood netted an appointment (a rectal exam and probably blood work) at the vet’s. They’re busy unfortunately, so not until Tuesday.

No swimming at the dog beach until I know what’s going on.

What’s Too Cold?


Dog beach again this morning. ‘Twas fun.

A little too early to think of but now that the dog beach is a go, I was wondering how cold is too cold. Boomer loves, loves, loves the water and it’s far more forgiving on his joints for fetch. What to do in winter? Labs were bred to retrieve in cold water but they can still get hypothermia. I know our visits would be short – 10, 15 minutes max – because I’m not going to stand outside for longer than that on those cold, wet winter days.

The plan is to keep an eye on him (anything different like slowing down, whining or shivering means we leave), towel him off thoroughly and heat the car up (parked nearby). I could also throw the ball a distance but parallel to shore to keep it (and Boomer) in the shallows.

Did a bit of googling. Decided to get a 5mm neoprene float vest for Boomer. Designed for hunting dogs but, hey, why not for Boomer? Let everyone think he’s a well-trained retriever. 🙂

The Ruffwear float coat is fantastic but a 5mm neoprene vest should keep his core warmer in the water during winter. I’ve waded into that water in winter with 5mm neoprene boots on – keeps you comfortable. I imagine it should do the same for Boomer.

Dog Beach!


Nice rainy, fall day to try off-leash fetch at the dog beach. Went early enough to have the beach to ourselves. Didn’t need to worry – Boomer was clearly in his element. He’s at his most relaxed state here. I put his PFD on him in the off chance he got away or swam too far out but retrieving the ball is all he wants to do. I might stick with the PFD though. He may be a water dog but he’s also getting older. Just in case the ball floats or lands a little too far out, especially as he tires.

Funny thing – his retrieve changes if I have a second ball ready to go.



After I posted the previous entry, I took Boomer out for another round of fetch. No dogs or people around. So I took his leash off slowly. He sat waiting for me to launch the ball. For the next 25 minutes, he played fetch off-leash.

“Say what?”

Took him for a 30-minute, slow walk afterwards to cool him down. Even when I put him in a down-stay after every two throws to let him catch his breath, he’s quite frothy.

Quite frankly, he’s been the most natural and balanced about the fetch when with the one other dog at this morning’s session. Maybe having a non-obsessed lab interrupt the flow helps keep Boomer on a more even keel.

100% Fetch


Turns out Boomer does a full fetch with just one thing – a medium Chuckit Ultra ball. He found one floating in the water earlier this summer while we were out paddle boarding. Brought it as a backup ball for fetch in the field last week. Imagine my shock when he retrieved it and dropped it at my feet. After 16 months of thinking this’ll never happen… Wow.

His fetch is specific to that Chuckit ball. When I swap back to the road hockey ball, Boomer switches back to his 3/4 fetch. With the launcher, Boomer will chase across the entire width of the field to retrieve a Chuckit ball and bring it back to me each and every time like magic. He ignores other dogs in his face (other than a polite return sniff hello) and brings the Chuckit ball even closer to me to prevent another dog from taking it.

He’s not possessive though. If another dog snatches the Chuckit, Boomer hovers nearby to snatch it back off the ground. He’s so attentive to the Chuckit ball, I think he’d do well totally off-leash (but I’m trying not to jump ahead too quickly).

When I leave him without a ball, he watches the action on the field around him and has actually made off with a soccer ball and a softball (when they rolled nearby). Luckily, he brought them towards me and I was able to step on his 20′ line to get them back for their owners. He hasn’t tried to take another dog’s ball though.

I’m starting to think that off-leash at the dog beach is within reach.

Vacuum Cleaners


vacuumBoomer likes to help with the housework, especially in running interference with the vacuum. If he’s lying down on the carpet, I have to practically vacuum over his paws before he bothers to move.

Weirdly, for a water dog, he’s not too fond of the garden hose. He gives it a look and trots away if you hold the spray nozzle up towards him.

The 30′ Line


ChillingOutThis is a nice flat trail we walk on in the summer. The water’s so shallow now that all Boomer can do is search for sticks on the creek bottom. It’s fun to see him put his entire face into the water like it’s not even there.


Yesterday, I let him walk loose on the 30′ line. He did a pretty good job of listening to me when I didn’t want him going in the water and turning around to wait if he got too far ahead. I LOVED having him free (although I don’t want to know what the line got dragged through).

I brought hypoallergenic snacks & kibble, a squeaky toy, and a street hockey ball as rewards and as a way to get his attention. There were just enough people and dogs on the trail to test his recall but not enough to send him into hyper-excitement mode.

RumpDrying him off in the car is always a comedic event. It’s like a race for something. He wiggles so much, he eventually does a somersault and ends up on his back, his paws waving in the air.

The Recall



I started to walk Boomer with the 30′ line this week. Practicing heel, automatic sit, down from the side, down from a distance, and here in different settings. I try to pick times and places where distractions will be present & varied but spread apart.

Last night, I took him to the school field to practice his down-stay and recall from a distance. He did so well at 30′ that I left the line on the ground and walked further away. I’m guessing 50′ in this pic.

There were people playing catch on the baseball diamond and jogging around the field on the track, but it was also dusk. Maybe the growing darkness helped keep him focused.

It was very cool to see him sit, down and stay so well. He ran to me directly each time I called, “Boomer, here!” He even responded to the hand signal on its own.

Maybe one day he can be off-leash as I unload the car for paddle boarding. Off-leash for fetch in the school fields and the dog beach too. That’s what I’m aiming for.