This past weekend marked the beginning of our hiking season. When the weather is nice and temperature is warm, my friends and I usually get together every weekend and go for a pack hike. This weekend Co
oper's owner rounded people up and started the hiking season off with a nice hike at Great Falls' Billy Goat Trail B. I brought my GoPro camcorder along and had a little fun with it. Enjoy!
PS - view the video in 1080p if you can!
Earlier this month CZ and I visited Providenciales of Turks & Caicos, an island in the Caribbean. We were there for 6 days for a much needed vacation (been busy trying to expand my web design business, have you noticed the lack of updates? =b ). While researching the island I learned that there is an abundance of stray dogs and there are two major rescue efforts on the island that trap, spay/neuter, and adopt them to travelers from other countries. The two rescues are The Potcake Place and TCSPCA.
The strays at Turks & Caicos are called Potcakes because locals would feed them leftover that are stuck to the cooking pot, so the name Potcake stuck. Potcakes in general are alert, intelligent and sweet, they all excel in obedient classes due to their nature - afterall, they do have to possess street smart in order to survive on their own. There seems to be three main types of Potcakes - Brown ones, black & tan ones, and white ones. All Potcakes we have seen are pretty much carbon copies of each other with those colorations.
During the trip we made it a point to visit either The Potcake Place or TCSPCA, we ended up spending a few hours at TCSPCA on the second day of our trip. TCSPCA felt like a vet office and it is located right off of Leeward Highway, the main road of the island. As we got there we saw Susan, one of the organizers for TCSPCA giving very sound advice to a local dog owner looking for heart worm treatments for his pack of dogs. Once free, Susan and we chatted for a bit and we expressed our interest in learning more about the Potcakes and possibility of meeting some of them. To that, Susan immediately said that there is a female puppy that is ready for adoption just 5 minutes from the facility, so off we went to the fosterâ€™s to meet this female pup!
This sweet little girl is Madonna, being fostered by Donna a local dog groomer/trainer. For the next half an hour we just sat around playing with Madonna and learning a bit more about the Potcakes of Turks & Caicos. There is an effort to trap and neuter / spay the wild dog population but puppies are still coming in quickly. Organizations like TCSPCA and Potc
ake Place are making an effort pairing adoptable dogs with visiting tourists and raising awareness. The adoption process is surprisingly simple â€“ once you decided to adopt, the organization will have a vet clear the puppy for flight the very next day with all the necessary paper, and then everything is good to go. After meeting Madonna, I must admit I was very tempted to bring home a little sister for Mac! But I forced the idea out of my mind because of my current life schedule. One may also argue why not help the dogs at shelter back home? Well, helping a dog regardless of location is helping a dog right? Either way, I am not quite ready to add another dog to my life so we chatted a little more on what else people could do to help.
Besides adoption, they are also constantly in need of couriers to bring the adopted dogs to different parts of the world. Turns out they needed somebody to bring another Potcake back to the DC area and the original courier was not responsive, so I offered to be the backup. Eventually everything worked out and Dingo the Potcake should be at his new NYC home right now!
On the last day of our trip we visited The Potcake Place in Sand Mills Plaza. This plaza is right by Grace Bay beach and is nested in a popular shopping center. They have adorable puppies visible right from the windows and they even allow visitors to adopt a Potcake for the afternoon to get a better sense of the dog! This seems to serve three purposes: 1) Potential adopter would get a better sense of the dogâ€™s personality 2) The dog gets exercise and exposure to the outside world 3) Walking advertisements for the rescue effort when chatting with fellow curious tourists. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to adopt a Potcake for the afternoon, but if you are planning on visiting Turks & Caicos do consider taking them out for a stroll along the beach!
While I was on vacation, Mac once again stayed with his sister Suki's family. I was updated on Facebook and knew Mac was having a nice vacation of his own (pic on the left was by Suki's mom!). It was not until I was picking Mac up that I learned that they had to take Mac to Dr. Smith during the week because he started closing his left eye, Sukiâ€™s parents did not want to worry us while we were on vacation so they just took care of everything! Thankfully everything was OK but Mac did need to up his daily eye drop from once to twice and his eye pressure has been holding steady during his follow-up visit. Thank you to Sukiâ€™s parents once again for taking care of Mac so well, we couldnâ€™t ask for a better home away from home for Mac!
I visit Philadelphia once a month but this was the first time I brought Mac along with me on the trip, I figure it would be a nice change of scenery from the usual suburb scene. Another reason I wanted to bring Mac along is because CZ has tossed around an idea of keeping a dog there, so I wanted to see just how plausible it is to keep a small/medium sized dog in the heart of Philly.
When I am at Philly, I usually stay with CZ at her apartment a block or two outside of Chinatown; once you have accepted the fact that there will be seedy characters roaming around late at night and that they are not [always] out to get you, it is actually a very convenient and relatively safe location. The highlight of these trips are definitely the food, although that is not what this blog is about so I will refrain from raving about them too much!
My hat goes off to folks that keep a medium - large sized dog in the city. Pee-ing was no problem, Mac was happily marking new territory around the apartment complex; but we had to
walk 8 - 9 blocks to find a decently sized grass field for Mac to go #2 on. I cannot even begin to imagine how much of a chore this would become when life gets busy and a quick run around the block is not an option. Again, hats off to you if you are keeping a dog in the city.
Because there were not many dogs walking around the city, Mac got a lot of looks and whispers even though he did not look too graceful dodging manholes and steam grids. We walked to a nice sized park in the middle of the city and apparently that was where all the dogs go (it also happened to be the rich part of town); dogs of all size and shape were congregated there, all on leash and leashed to chairs - I felt like we were at a dog show. There were some giant dogs like Great Dane and Saint Bernard, where do people keep these beasts?
After having Mac over for a visit, CZ decided that keeping a dog with her current life style may not be the best idea... next up - cat?
Checking out the parade of dogs
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Cesar Millan 2012 Family Pack Walk in DC, through a friendâ€™s friend I was asked to help take some casual environmental photos of the event. I was torn on whether to bring Mac along or not, but ultimate
ly decided that it would be best to leave him home so I could concentrate on task. (sorry buddy!)
The event was much bigger than expected, especially compared to previous yearâ€™s photos and videos, but thankfully it was also very organized. Every family that went had at least one dog with them and most of them were well behaved. My guess is that it takes a person that truly care about dogs to come out to an event like this, and those people probably spend more time training their dog as well so it makes sense. As I went around snapping photos I got to chat with different people, it was a very nice and relaxing morning and I definitely regret not bringing Mac out.
The highlight for me was meeting the Dog Whipserer Cesar Millan in person. He was shorter than I had imagined but he definitely had an aura around him. A lot of celebrities look different off camera but besides the height, he seemed every bit as charismatic and confident in person - when he smiled I swear his teeth sparkled. From talking to some volunteers that attended training sessions at his dog psychology center in CA, I am happy to hear that he is every bit as down to earth and friendly behind the camera. At any rate, I managed to shake his hand as he was coming off stage, definitely made my day.
* Cesar Millan has always been controversial in his training method but this is not what this blog entry or Family Pack Walk is about. Regardless of training believes, I think we can all agree that raising fund for animals in need and raising awareness is a cause we can all stand behind.
It has been awhile since Mac had a little pow-wow with his friends, so last weekend Lucky's owner hosted a small get together for the usual hiking buddies. It was a hot day but the dogs had fun running around and doing their thing. I was expecting some initiate growling from Mac to set boundaries since there were new comers, but Mac took everything extremely well and we heard not a peep from him the entire time besides play growls, it was a great day!
This past weekend marked the first camping trip of the season, we packed our gear and joined a few friends and their dogs at Big Meadows, Shenandoah national park in VA.
Big Meadows has always been popular due to it's close proximity to the DMV area as well as it's breath taking scenery so the camp sites get reserved very quickly, this was the first time we booked well in advance enough to secure a site! We wanted a more secluded site for the experience and also because we have 5 (!) dogs, we ended up at the edge of an amazing fern forest. Morning walk among the fern forest is nothing short of magical!
It rained a bit Friday afternoon, but we were blessed with amazing weather Saturday and Sunday. We hiked White Oak Canyon, visited the Big Meadows, and explored the fern forest. It was a nice and relaxing weekend away from the city!
Aside from Sumo alerting everybody whenever there were movements near camp, the dogs did really well. Whenever he let out a bark you could hear a chorus of humans going, "SUMO!!" Mac once again showed his territorial instinct by growling/barking at any dog that tries to peek inside our tent when he was in there, but aside from that he was fantastic and played nice with others.
I have Assateague Island camping lined up for early August, and then it is back to Shenandoah again in September. This should be a fun summer!
Mac is going to prom!
Specifically, the virtual Shiba Prom this weekend. The Shiba Prom is actually a great idea as a fund raiser for various Shiba rescues around the country. While actual detail is still a bit hazy [to me], it seems like there will be photo and video contest, raffles, and virtual hang-outs. Most importantly, this is a cute way to help raise fund for rescue organizations! If you are interested in learning more, check out:
Shiba Prom 2012 Registration Page: http://www.caninecocktailpawty.org/shibaprom/
Shiba Prom 2012 Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/shibaprom
Shiba Inu Thread: http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/comment/169548
PS - Mac needs a date!
Summer - welcome back!
Yesterday was one of the first group hikes of the season, the weather was gorgeous and we got Mac and 4 of his buddies out by the water getting some exercise.
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This hike's MVP was definitely Sumo the Frenchie/Boston puppy. He was retrieving sticks... no, logs, out of the fast flowing river! Very impressive. Check out the video below for a medium sized log he retrieved. After that log Andy tossed in a ridiculously huge log that Sumo could not even fit in his mouth, but somehow he managed to grab a branch and brought it back to shore - wow!!