You know, one of the greatest things about starting my blog is all the wonderful new friends I’ve made around the world…and in my own city too! Yup, especially when I have to keep moving to a new place and don’t know anyone, it’s great to suddenly have local doggies contact me through my blog.
This was how I made lots of friends back in Brisbane…it didn’t work so well in Newcastle (‘coz I think Newcastle is so small that not many people were reading my blog) – although I did meet Miyuki the Maremma through my blog and she introduced me to the best walk there: the Stockton sand dunes…but I knew even before we moved to Sydney that I had several readers here and I was really excited about meeting them in person and making new friends!
Well, we’d barely been here a couple of weeks when I got a message from a handsome black boy Dane named Boo!
Boo & his human actually happen to live quite near us…isn’t that a great coincidence? And they were so nice and offered to be our personal guides in the neighbourhood and show us all the best doggie spots – from the best parks for doggies to run free to the best dogfriendly cafes and pet stores!
So last week, Boo invited me to a playdate for us to get to know each other better – and also to show me one of the best dog parks in the area…
It’s a big piece of land next to Callan Park, which used to be part of an old mental hospital and some other government buildings…but now they are all empty and the grounds are all free for doggies to roam around as they like!
It is HUGE. It takes at least 1hr to walk around it properly and it is wonderful because it is not just a boring, flat field – there are woods & trees and little streams and hills and bushes and cliffs and rocks and old buildings to explore…
…and guess what? This park has free Kitty TV as well! What more could a doggie ask for??
Yup – there is a part of the park where a ‘feral cat colony’ lives in one of the old, empty buildings…and you can see all the kitties sunning themselves on the roof!
I got so excited when I saw the kitties – I could just stand and STARE at them for hours!
…and if you walk through the grounds, right down to the waterfront, you get to Iron Cove, which is part of Sydney Harbour…
There’s a path right alongside the waterfront which is called the Bay Run and lots of humans like to go jogging or cycling along it (or walking their doggies) – the Bay Run is really long and only part of it runs through Callan Park – it follows the waterfront all along Sydney Harbour and has lovely views.
Although the area around Callan Park is dog off-leash, my humans made me come and walk nicely next to them when we were actually walking on the path.
See – my humans believe that it’s really important for dog owners to make sure that their doggies don’t “disturb” or bother people – like chasing joggers or blocking cyclists or even just going up to people who are scared of dogs – because otherwise, this will give doggies a bad name and make people very “anti-dog”…and then this means they start to ban us from all the nice places. Lots of people already complain about doggies…you don’t want to give them any more excuses!
My humans believe that if all dog owners could be more responsible about their doggies’ behaviours so that they are always good ambassadors and always pick up their doggies’ poo and show people how well-behaved & under control doggies can be, then people will feel more friendly towards doggies (and also help those scared of doggies to overcome their fears) and this will mean that there will be more places that will welcome doggies.
Hsin-Yi often doesn’t bother to put me back on leash for these “sections” - I can do a very good leash-free Heel so she just calls me to her side and makes me Heel with her – this means I must walk on her left side, with my shoulder in line with her knee, and match her pace, and ignore all distractions around me. My humans only make me do this when we have to pass through crowded places or past big distractions but because we have practised this lots, I’m really good at it. Once we have passed through, I get told to Sit – and then my release word (“OK!”) – and then lots of praise & treats!
* It’s very important to “mark” the end of Heeling with a release word – rather than just letting us drift away, even though we have already passed through to a ‘safe’ area. Otherwise, it’s not clear to us doggies when we should be Heeling and when we can be free…and this means we end up with a very “sloppy” Heel where we’re not doing it properly because we keep thinking we can drift out of it anytime.
It’s the same for other commands – a lot of doggies have a poor Stay because their humans don’t use a release word to show them when the’Stay’ ends – and so they just think they can get up whenever they feel like it (when they’ve had enough!) – that’s why they keep breaking their Stays - whereas I have learnt that I must Stay in position (or keep Heeling or whatever) UNTIL I hear my release word. If I get up before my release word, my humans just put me back into Down Stay or Sit Stay again (and again…and again…as many times as they have to, until I get the message). But if I stay until AFTER I hear my release word, I get lots of praise & treats! (if you’re using a clicker, make sure your humans only click AFTER they say the release word – because otherwise as soon as we hear the click, it signals the end of the exercise)
The key to successful training is helping us doggies not get confused – and so by having a very clear Start & Stop to each command, it keeps things consistent and helps us understand what we must do and when.
And I’m off!
Boo is a really bouncy, energetic doggie – he was running circles around me the whole time! Well, he’s only 3 & 1/2yrs old so he’s still a young ‘un. Even at the end of our long walk, he was still full of beans!
Still, I think I kept up with him pretty well – considering that I’m nearly 5yrs older than him!
I think Boo was a bit hurt in the beginning because I was acting a bit snooty and even though he kept trying to invite me to play – licking my jowls, jumping all around me and even on me! – I just wasn’t responding much. Well, you see, when I was younger, I used to play with anything that moved…anytime, anywhere! But now that I’m an older, mature lady, I’m a bit more – ahem – ‘selective’ about who I will play with and when I will play. I have to be in the right mood to play…and I usually take a while to warm up to a new doggie, before I decide that I will play with him/her. So it usually takes me till the 2nd or 3rd playdate before I’ll really play properly…
…still, I did show Boo a few of my signature moves!
And before we said goodbye, I gave him a big slobbery kiss to remember me by! Hee! Hee!
I’m so happy to have made a new friend – and Boo’s told me that he’s got LOTS of other great places to show me (well, since that day, we’ve been on 2 other playdates! I’ll tell you about them soon…) – I can’t wait!!
Hsin-Yi is really happy too because Boo’s human, Sarah, has the same beliefs & attitudes towards doggies - she has done lots of training with Boo and really cares about his manners and is also very careful about supervising interactions with other strange doggies and stuff like that – plus she takes Boo out socialising to lots of different places. Sometimes we meet nice doggies but their owners aren’t very sensible or responsible and then Hsin-Yi finds it a bit frustrating spending time with them because they are always doing things in a very different way to us…so she says it’s really nice to find a friend who is a “like-minded dog owner”!
I think we’re going to have great adventures together!
* You can contact Boo through the FB Sydney Great Dane Owners page as his human, Sarah, is the Administrator!