Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Climbers for affection

Since I work from home, Captain has become master distractor, demanding my attention by climbing into my lap. This is no easy feat for a 50lb pup (yes, he weighed in yesterday at a whopping 52 pounds for his 6.5 months- he's gonna be a big Vizsla...) and I don't think he's really figured out that both he and I don't fit so well in my desk chair. But I can't resist letting him climb up- it begins with that look, then a paw to the knee, then somehow he's hugging me with both his paws on my shoulders, and from there it's a scramble for the hind legs to squeeze up onto my lap.

As any Vizsla owner knows, these dogs do love to give affection! Here are some videos I found on YouTube:

At first this one amazed me, but after Captain's climbing, I wouldn't be too surprised to see him attempt it too:

Although admittedly Captain would probably knock me over so don't expect any recreations any time soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Doggie down time

Is this a yoga position?

Last week we took Captain to the vet since he was coughing, snotty, and shaking, and found out he has pneumonia. Poor thing-you'll notice his little shaved paw from where they put the IV in for his overnight stay.

Luckily he's much better after week on antibiotics. Those first few days of being sick, he was one tired pup and happy to just snuggle in his daddy's sleeping bag:

Now that he's feeling so much better and the pneumonia is clearing, his boundless energy is back, and he's none too happy with short walks and no puppy play for a few weeks! We can't wait until he's 100% cleared of it. Til then, he'll just have to settle for taking it easy and playing with mommy & daddy inside.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bird Dog

In addition to practicing his pointing skills with our friendly neighborhood pigeons, Captain has developed an affinity for any bird toy he can find- namely, duck toys.

And a recently destroyed bird toy:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bernal Heights

Last month we took the short drive to Bernal Heights, and walked around the great little neighborhood and park. As usual, Captain loved exploring a new area, and so did we!I actually have no idea who the guy in this next pic is, but it just seemed like such an awesome reading spot:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Diamond Mines

Shortly after the new year we took a trip out to Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, about an hour drive from SF city. The best part was Captain got to test his off-leash skills- turns out he does a great job of staying close!

Before we left, Captain had fun with his daddy's hiking shoes:

But around the Preserve, he was all action:

I definitely recommend Black Diamond mines if you're in the area- great wide open spaces and many walking/hiking trails.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One dirty dog...

I took Captain to the dog park on Berry Street one day this past December, not thinking about the fact that it had rained that morning. He met a friend and had a great time romping and rolling all around...and this is what I got:

Suddenly my Vizsla pup looked more like a Weimaraner! The entire bath turned dark gray when I put him in the water. Luckily Vizslas are easy to clean.

Since Captain has had all his shots, he's been loving dog parks and walking all over the city with us. Looking back, I have to say the weeks leading up to Captain's final immunization shots were painful... he so wanted to play, and had boundless energy. I remember looking at our vet when she said not to take him outside for 6 weeks, like, are you frickin crazy? I want to protect my puppy and all, but this is a Vizsla we're talking about lady- high energy! Living in an apartment, we don't exactly have ample backyard space. Our only option is to go outside. So those pre-done-with-shots weeks we just kept him off the grass, away from other dogs and parks, and wiped his feet off once we got back inside. He was fine.
Actually, a comment on apartment-living and dog owning: there are a number of breeds "not recommended for apartment life" - the Vizsla among them. I am lucky to be working from home these days, so getting out frequently is not a problem for my pup. But I also think that when you're an active person, the size of your place doesn't matter as much. Captain gets a ton of exercise, despite the fact that his mommy and daddy live in an apartment. For anyone thinking about getting a dog, I'd weigh activity level more heavily than square footage.

Traffic stopper

During the course of the first few months we had Captain, I started to notice something: Oh my God, I have the most adorable, beautiful dog in the world.
More than a few times people have yelled out of their cars, "Awww!" or "Oh my gosh, I love your dog!" which puts a new spin on cat-calling... one time one of these people actually followed us two blocks, parked, and ran to us just to pet him (and let him lick her entire face). That was a little creepy. Another time we were walking a man in a car filled with Vizslas also pulled over to meet him- turned out he owns an exclusive-looking "canine day care and spa" named O-Paws; we're interested in finding out more about them since their pet "bed and breakfast" looks pretty darn swanky. But I digress...
But then there were those other times he 'stopped traffic'... for some reason Captain seemed to develop affinity for 'doing his business' in the middle of the street. Twice now tourists have stopped to take pictures of my dog pooping- once in Chinatown in the middle of the road, and once (while not in the middle of the road) atop a giant bronze sidewalk seal commemorating Barry Bonds by At&T Park. If only I had those pictures....

In any case, I think any dog owner (especially Vizslas hehe!) has had similar experiences- the people stopping to meet doggie I mean, not necessarily the pooping! This being my first dog, I came to realize how easy it was to meet and talk to new people on the street when you do have a dog. While I can't figure out if Californians are just generally nicer or if dog owners are nicer (or maybe both!), it's been a great introduction to a new city. I also think San Francisco has been an extremely dog-friendly place. We started going to "puppy socials" on Friday nights - I highly recommend it- standing around watching a bunch of adorable puppies play whilst drinking wine is much fun, especially since it was the only social thing we were really doing at that time... It was also good for me (as a first time dog owner) to learn what was normal puppy play- at first I was overprotective, thinking the tumbling and nipping was scary and hurting my pup, but once I was told it's how they learn bite-inhibition, it made sense. Captain has become a very confident puppy, happy to rough and tumble (one of his favorite playmates is a French mastiff), but also able to play submissive with the little guys (though he definitiely likes the big dogs better!)

Our main training issue throughout these months has been learning to "walk nice" as we call it (or heel of course in training-speak). He's proven to be a mainly obiedient and trainable dog, highly motivated by treats, and did very well in his 'puppy kindergarten' class. But boy, can he pull. I've found he responds pretty well to the clicker and treating right by my side. He's getting there!

Next up: Captain's first excursions and hiking spots! And don't worry, I plan on having future posts less text and more pictures!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vizslas in show

Dogs of all breeds competed in the Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show yesterday, and here is a link to our favorite breed! While I'm partial to my own Vizsla (I happen to think he has an exceptionally good looking face and body), these ones were pretty impressive too :-)

Whenever I think of dog shows, I can't help but remember this scene from the hilarious movie "Best in Show"

***(Click here to link to the scene on YouTube - embedding has been disabled)***

Actually, while I'm at it, here's another great scene from the movie (although has nothing to do with Vizslas or even dogs...)

Leaving the lattes, back to dogs:
Breed tidbit: in case you were wondering, here is the link to the AKC's Dog Registration statistics. Vizslas are #42 out of 156 registered breeds in this country. Not too shabby, but clearly everyone hasn't caught the bug. But I like it better that way!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A beautiful bunch!

Giving Captain's tale a break here as I just came across this incredible pic from Savvy Dog Blog:

This is another one of my all-time favorite Vizsla things
(found on the great blog Red Girls in Scotland):

There now, can't you see why Vizslas are incredible dogs? Love, beauty, and the ability to point out prey with almost freakish concentration- what more could anyone want?

Becoming a mommy

They say owning a dog is good practice for becoming a parent. Well, in the first 2 weeks of having our pup, I must have said to my husband "we're never having children" about 100 times.

Don't get me wrong; this was the most incredibly adorable creature I'd ever laid eyes on. He made it damn near impossible for someone who works from home to get any work done. Suddenly, strangely, my husband and I morphed into baby-talking parents, and were calling each other "mommy" and "daddy"....

But as any puppy owner can attest to, the 3am walks, the peeing accidents in every single corner of carpet, the constant need for attention lest he swallow some disgusting or dangerous thing he'd found on the ground, the clumsy and spastic leash walking can add up. I couldn't get out of the shower or put on body lotion without being licked to death; putting on pants was a unique challenge with a puppy hanging off a pantsleg. I became (to my horror) accustomed to fishing out used tissues from my puppy's mouth. While every dog owner I met on the street told me to enjoy this time because it all went too quickly, all I could think was, "Good! I can't wait to have my well-behaved adult dog!" Lack of sleep was adding up. How do parents do it?

But, actually, Captain was an amazingly easy puppy. Within 2 weeks I was complaining no longer- no more middle of the night walks, no more potty accidents. Crate training? What training was involved? He loved his crate... despite a little whining on his first night, he had no problem sleeping in there and going right in when we told him. He learned fast. I credit his superior intellect and impeccible trainability to his wonderful breed- Vizslas are just such darn great dogs.

Vizslas are also known for their "velcro dog" behavior. Velcro indeed. He never left my side. I'd sit down at my desk, Captain would plop down with his head resting on my feet. But each time I got up to fill my water glass, get more coffee, grab my phone, or even go to the bathroom, he followed. And every time he laid back down, he'd give me this little look, like, "Ok, mom, can we just stay here now?"
Early on, Captain found out what a push-over his mommy was. We have a number of very fun little pet stores just in the neighborhood (Furry Tales and South Paw), and one day when Captain was just about 9 weeks old I brought him in to Furry Tales to look around. He proceeded to pick a giant plush blue bone right off the shelf, as if to say, "Mommy, I want this one!" The thing was as big as he was, and blue, so I couldn't resist. Captain was on his way to being spoiled puppy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Arrival of the Captain

The time had come. We'd done our share of reading through puppy training books, watching Cesar Millan episodes endlessly, and gathering puppy supplies. We were so excited for this day. Due to a number of circumstances (not least of which was my revelation that California is really long), he was arriving by plane (a short 90 min flight, though it still made me uneasy). Unfortunatly, the poor little guy's flight was delayed, making his trip a bit longer. And then we were waiting in the Cargo pickup for what seemed like FOREVER. 30 minutes went by....45.... I could just picture my poor lost little baby....

Finally, they brought him to us, a bewildered little puppy, so small and yet at the same time somehow bigger than what I had imagined after the breeder's pictures, with ears the size of the plane's wings he came in on.... we immediately snatched him up, gave him water and some food, and then were off homeward, with Captain snuggling up against me in the backseat. I could hardly believe the little creature in my arms. Pure joy.

Oh Captain, My Captain

Choosing a dog's name is no simple task. Long before our little blue was ever conceived, I'd been dreaming up names for little boy and girl puppies. I won't go into the complete details of it (let's just say there were many a not completely sober nights spent drifting off to sleep, murmuring puppy names...)

I think we were in Vermont when we settled on his name. This seems totally appropriate given how much I love Vermont. (My husband and I did after all, go to college in Vermont, get engaged in Vermont, and get married in Vermont).

While more than a few people have suspected his name came from my fancy for rum, this, in fact, is not how I came up with Captain. It's a good strong name for a good strong dog. And I guess the sea-fairing aspect of it appealed, what with my love of the ocean and my Cape Cod introduction to the breed. I pictured my strong beautiful red dog running through the marsh grass. And I also had visions of this powerful scene from the movie Dead Poets Society:

(you can skip ahead to 2:55 if you don't feel like watching a whole 5min)...

The original Walt Whitman poem this line comes from is actually pretty much a downer, but I remember it as an uplifting line from the movie at least.

Anyway, so that's the name story.

Our little boy blue...

The first time I ever saw a Vizsla was actually not too many years ago, in Cotuit, MA. It was a perfect Cape Cod summer day, and from across the beach I spotted a gorgeously reddish, muscular, lean, dog. What was this fabulous creature? Short hair, muscular physique, and happy go lucky attitude...we couldn't resist going over and speaking with the owners to find out.

Since that time, my husband and I have learned a lot about Vizlas. We'd wanted a dog for a while, but it came to be an issue of the right dog at the right time. Most little dogs were out- couldn't run with 'em. Beagles? Too barky. Labs are great... but a bit too big for our apartment life. The more we read about Vizslas, though, the more they seemed to fit our lifestyle. And I couldn't forget that beauty on the beach. I realize that probably every dog owner thinks their breed is best. But REALLY, what could be better than an absolutely beautiful, medium sized, active, trainable, short-haired, regal-looking, incredibly sweet, loyal dog?

With our wedding and impending move across the country a few months away, I settled in to finding a West-coast Viszla breeder with pups coming sometime in the late summer/fall, to be brought home after our wedding. The right dog at the right time ;-)

We were first introduced to our puppy via pictures from our breeder, Dawn from Red Dog Ranch. How to pick just one from this incredible bunch? Dawn sent us pictures and updates, and slowly, slowly, one little guy emerged as the captain. We knew the pups only by the color of their collars, and we were somewhat choosing between 'blue' and 'teal'...

(video courtesy of Dawn from Red Dog Ranch)
With his peppy puppy attitude and hint of mischievousness, we couldn't resist. Blue had won out (in case you can't tell, blue is the one on the right, biting his brother at the end). We couldn't wait to bring him home.

In case you were wondering, Captain's parents are Sedona and Tacoma.