Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cobalt: Family

Yesterday, we met Cobalt's sister, Photon, while picking Cobalt up from daycare at Urban Dog. They were quite happy to see each other, but then Cobalt's quite happy to see any dog. Photon's owner told us that they'd originally intended to adopt Cobalt, but decided that Photon's personality suited them better (Photon seemed much more mellow than Cobalt).

The mini Aussie world in south-western Ontario is very small. There are only three breeders in the area, and they all work together: Stoverly Aussies in Milton (where Cobalt comes from), HHC Mini Aussies in Alliston;, and Skoachs in Kingston. Since we got Cobalt, we've met Aussies from all of the breeders.

Our first small-world experience was at Cherry Beach, where we met Parker, a red tricolour from HHC. When we mentioned that Cobalt was from Stoverly, Parker's owner recognized her as Max's daughter.

Next, we met Bean at PetSmart. Bean is a black tri from Stoverly's very first mini litter. She introduced us to what's known as "the Aussie reserve" -- a shyness that Cobalt does not exhibit at all.

A few posts back I had a photo of the third mini Aussie we've met, Ozzy the Aussie -- he's from Skoachs.

Then, a couple of weeks back, we were in PetSmart without Cobalt and spotted a young mini who looked very familiar. It turned out to be Quiver, Cobalt's brother -- the one who originally caught L's eye and led to us adopting from that litter.

So, so far, of the five other mini Aussies we've met, two have been from Cobalt's litter, one was from another litter from the same breeder, one belonged to someone who knew Cobalt's father, and only one hasn't really had any connection to Cobalt at all.

I guess you have to expect a small world when you're dealing with miniatures.

UPDATE: Corrected Skoachs's location from Hamilton to Kingston. Read more!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cobalt: Soggy Doggy

Last night we were over visting our friends Robert & Allison Vanderhorst (to help with a computer problem) and we brought Cobalt along to show off.

The Vanderhorsts have a large, landscaped yard, which is great for Cobalt to run in. Robert got us a tennis ball for her to chase, and she had a great time.

One of my throws of the ball landed in a conifer bush of some sort, and Cobalt had a little trouble -- she zoomed after it at full speed, as she usually does, but when she got close she couldn't slow down in time, so she leapt over the bush.

Unfortunately, the bush was part of the landscaping around the garden pond.


The pond's three feet deep. Cobalt's just over one feet deep.

The good news is, she figured out how to swim. That, and she's drip-dry.

She hauled herself out of the pond in seconds, and was back to playing as if nothing happened. But the rest of us were laughing to hard to throw the balls.

By the time we left, she was almost entirely dry again. Fortunately, we have towels down in the car. Read more!

Cobalt: Visiting Mattie and Wendy

A week ago, we headed down to London to meet my mother's new dog, Wendy. My mother decided to get Wendy after seeing how much fun Mattie had with Cobalt. Wendy's another Coton, a four-year-old (Mattie's one year at this point).

Oddly, though Wendy's four times as old as Mattie, she's also only about 3/4s Mattie's size.

Wendy on Mom's Lap


Cobalt and Mattie hit it off like they usually do. Wendy kept out of it for the most part.


The Chase

Almost Caught Her

Closing In


The Lunge



Wendy has a trick of her own, though: she can dance.


Of course, where there are tricks and treats, Cobalt wants in on the action!



The Puppy Two-Step
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Cobalt: Breakthroughs

As of earlier this week, we're no longer locking Cobalt in her crate unless it's necessary. She now has run of the bedroom at night, when we're sleeping there, and during the day, waiting for the dogwalker. She's been perfect -- not so much as a chewed sock. Which is great.

One of the best parts is her curling up with us when we sleep. L loves having the pup up with her. Grendel would always curl up on my side, and Mouse was never one for cuddlyness. The only problem has been that Grendel's reluctant to come up on the bed when Cobalt's there -- the pup tends to wander over and stick her nose where it doesn't belong.

Last night was a big breakthrough on that front. Grendel had curled up between L & I, against my shoulder, when Cobalt came up onto the bed. The cat looked up, but ignored the dog and curled back up again. Cobalt then curled up against L's shoulder, right beside Grendel, and Grendel ignored her.

That by itself would be a breakthrough, but then Cobalt shifted, and leaned over to settle her chin on Grendel, like he was some sort of big pillow (which, to be honest, he is). And he didn't mind! I wish I had had my camera.

Grendel Relaxing

Pillow Cat
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Monday, April 09, 2007

Cobalt: An Exhausting Week, Part Last

There was one last event in Cobalt's busy vacation week: meeting Bear, my cousin's dog. Bear is a therapy dog, and is the sweetest, calmest, and most submissive dog I know.

Puppy-dog Eyes


Cobalt took to Bear just as she takes to every dog -- bouncing and jumping, eager to play. Bear, however, is getting on in years, and was quite happy to relax and let the puppy do all the work while the rest of us had dinner.

After my cousin left, we ended the week curled up in bed, watching Mythbusters and relaxing before a fresh week of work for L & I, and Cobalt's first full day of doggy daycare. Read more!

Cobalt: An Exhausting Week, Part 4

I've dragged this out too long, and need to wrap it up. We had a busy weekend with Cobalt, with hundreds of photos shot, so if I'm going to get that up, I have to get last week out of the way!

Wednesday afternoon, we took Cobalt out to Humber Bay Park, a park built on landfill around the mouth of Mimico Creek. It's a nice walk, with a good view of the city -- and lots of swans, geese, red-wing blackbirds, and many other birds (in the fall it's also a Monarch Butterfly migration stop). Cobalt loved the birds -- she wanted to chase after all of them, and even herded a couple of geese into the water. All in all, though, we prefer to keep her away from the geese -- those birds can be nasty.

Thursday was off with a flying start, literally. I got Cobalt up and took her outside, as usual, but when I tried to bring her back to the office for her breakfast, she decided instead to run upstairs, leap onto the bed, and jump on L, who had been sound asleep. No injuries, fortunately, and it was very cute, so we let her get away with it. Now, it's standard procedure for weekends.

She was obviously feeling pretty lively, so we took her out to the Western Beaches (officially known as Sir Casimir Gzowski Park), just east of Humber Bay Park (across the Humber River footbridge). The Western Beaches have a new boardwalk, which is great for walking dogs. The water birds were a big distraction, though. At one point she spotted a bunch of gulls on the beach, and charged for them (she was on the flexi-leash, so she had a fair bit of freedom). She scattered the lot of them, and they flew out to the breakwater offshore where things were quieter. Cobalt ended up at the edge of the water, where she was muttering at the gulls, but as soon as we caught up to her -- and she had slack on the flexi again -- she decided to run out across the water at the gulls.

She got about three jumps from us before she realized that she was up to her shoulders in water.

She immediately turned tail (well, tail-stub) and bolted back to us, but we were laughing to hard to really offer much comfort to her.

Fortunately, she's a wash-and-wear dog, and in a few minutes, she was back to normal.

Saturday, we decided to try visiting more of the official off-leash parks in Toronto. Out of curiousity, I suggested Woburn Park, one of the few parks listed as being fenced-in. I wanted to see how it compared to the Dogpark at the Brick Works.

Unfortunately, when we got there, it turned out to be very unappealing. A small, muddy triangle, only a fraction of the size of the Brick Works park, with a fence that someone seems to have driven through on one side, patched with snow-fence. We decided against it immediately.

L suggested going to "the formal gardens" that aren't too far away, so I gave her directions to Alexander Muir Gardens at Yonge and Lawrence. It turned out that that wasn't what she meant: she was thinking of Edwards Gardens, at Leslie and Lawrence. But I remembered an off-leash area near Alexander Muir, so we decided to try that.

It ended up being a long walk -- the dog park was at Sherwood Park, on the other side of Mt. Pleasant Road. Unlike the dog parks we'd been to so far, it wasn't just a grassy (or muddy ) corner of a standard city park, or a clear field, but a set of paths in a forested area. The paths were fenced, and the woods between the paths are part of a wildlife reclamation project.

One nice thing about Sherwood is, thanks to the tree cover and the mulch-covered paths, it's not at all muddy. A great change from the other parks we'd been too!

Sherwood Park Off-Leash
Sherwood Park Off-Leash

In The Park
Cobalt on a path in Sherwood Park

At Sherwood Park, Cobalt met Dexter, a friendly and bouncy pup who was more than happy to chase and wrestle. They were rather hard to photograph together -- too fast!

Cobalt and Dexter
Cobalt and Dexter

Cobalt and Dexter

We also met another miniature Aussie -- Ozzy the Aussie, a black tri-coluor from Skoachs in Kingston:

Ozzy the Aussie
Ozzy the Aussie

By the end of the day, Cobalt was reduced to this:

Tired Pup
Tired Pup

One last installment to come... Read more!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cobalt: An Exhausting Week, Part 3

I should have mentioned last time that the agility preschool we're taking cobalt to is run by Who's Walking Who, and located at Urban Dog on Parliament, near the Distillery District. The course is called "Puppy Gymboree", and Cobalt finished it yesterday. We also have her lined up for "Total Recall" (recall training) and "Family Dog" (full obedience class -- heel, stay, etc).

The Gymboree glass before our week off, one of the dogs, a tiny bulldog named Lucy, was even less energetic than usual. Lucy's owner said that it was because Lucy'd been to the Urban Dog "Playcare" three days in a row, and it had tired her out completely.

Since Cobalt was especially rambunctious that day, we got to thinking that maybe some of that Playcare would be good for her. On Thursday, we took her in to be evaluated -- all the dogs in Playcare have to have full vaccinations (plus kennel cough), as well as a quick "personality test" to see how well behaved they are, and finally a session in the room with the other dogs (who get brought in one at a time) to see how she gets along. Cobalt passed with flying colours, so we booked her for a half-day of Playcare on Friday, so we could relax a little.

Urban Dog keeps a web cam on the Playcare room from 9am to 1pm. Follow the "Web Cam" link from their home page and pick the Small Dog room. While we relaxed at home, we had this up and watched Cobalt romping with the other dogs. She spent a lot of time under the bed in the middle of the room, occasionally darting out to wrestle with the other dogs.

When we went in six hours later to pick her up, the staff told us another dog, a Jack Russell terrier, had been in for an evaluation, and he'd spent almost the whole time under the bed with Cobalt, wrestling. When we noticed the name on the terrier's application -- Romeo -- we realized it was another dog from the Gymboree class. In fact, now that Cobalt's in Playcare regularly, she's spending time with at least two of the Gymboree dogs, Romeo and a little fluff-ball named Eli. She loved wrestling with them in the class, and now she gets to romp with them all day.

The plan worked, by the way -- at the end of the day, Cobalt was nicely worn out and mellow. We've now put Cobalt into the Playcare on Mondays and Thursdays, and I can see her running around the room on the web cam as I type.

Next up, a rude, but cute, awakening and more off-leash parks. Read more!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cobalt: An Exhausting Week, Part 2

The other big thing this week was training. "Sit", "Give", and "Leave it" are good. We've made some progress with "Come". "Stay" is still pretty weak, though. And she's also started doing tricks!

Roll Over
Roll Over

Cobalt a la Duchamps
Roll Over in the style of Marcel Duchamp


We're also taking her to a "preschool" for agility training. Agility training is that obstacle-course stuff for dogs -- running up stairs, over teeter boards, through tunnels, etc. Energetic dogs like Aussies love that sort of thing.

The preschool consists of getting used to the basic equipment: very low jumps, short tunnels, a tip board instead of a teeter board, and so on.

The training technique for getting the dog to go through the tunnel is to wait at the other end and wave a tug-o-war toy at the opening. Dogs like Aussies (and Jack Russells, of which there's a very noisy one in the class) love tug toys, and will zoom through the tunnel for it.

Just for the fun of it, I tried getting her to go through a tube on one of the cat trees. It's off the ground, and smaller than the tunnels we tried at the preschool, so I wasn't sure she'd go for it. She didn't go through for the treat I offered, but L came by and waved the tug toy, and she was through in an instant!



Still more to come, including other off-leash parks and doggy daycare. Read more!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cobalt: An Exhausting Week, Part 1

Tired Pup

We took this past week off to spend with Cobalt. We worked on her training and took her to lots of dog parks, and wore her out completely! The photos above is how she looked after her first experience with doggy daycare on Friday (more on that below).

We've decided to visit all of Toronto's off-leash parks. We don't let Cobalt off-leash in open parks yet -- her recall isn't good enough, and we don't want her running off into traffic -- but she loves romping in the off-leashes on her flexi-leash.

We'd already been to Alan Gardens, since it's right near us. We actually prefer to take Cobalt to Moss Park. It's not on the official list of off-leash parks, but it's got a much larger grassy area for the dogs, and is farther from the road than the Alan Gardens off-leash. It also has a fenced-in tennis court, which we've been using for training Cobalt to come when called.



Flappy Ears

The other place we let her actually go off-leash is the Dogpark at the Brick Works, off Bayview Ave. The Dogpark is a completely fenced in triangle next to the Brick Works parking lot. Unfortunately, it's been rather muddy lately, but Cobalt seems to love the place.

For the first weekend of our week off, we took Cobalt down to Clark Beach, better known as Cherry Beach. I'd never realized that the beach extended west from Cherry Street -- in fact, the entire area to the west, from Cherry to the canal, is an off-leash area, the biggest we've been to so far.

We met a lot of dogs down there, including another 4½-month-old mini Aussie named Parker. Parker was a red tri-colour, slightly larger than Cobalt. When we mentioned that Cobalt had come from Stoverly Aussies to Parker's owner, he immediately recognized her as Max's offspring.

Cherry Beach was so exciting, Cobalt zonked out as soon as we got home.


It was a busy week, so I'm going to break it up into multiple posts... More to come! Read more!