Sunday, October 30, 2011

Family Biking

Bella threw all my carefully laid out autumn plans in the bin early this week and went into heat. I was braced for it all to start in December but she's almost 6 weeks earlier than I anticipated. We missed our second obedience class but received the notes for the second class and will continue to practice at home.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom in our house though, on Friday my parents came home from a journey to Los Angeles. Me and my fiancé ordered a Chariot bike trailer called Cheetah 2 for them to bring to Iceland. It was an older demo model that was offered at a discount. This venture saved us at least $800 USD.

We have gorgeous Trek FX 7.3 bikes that make biking a pure joy. After getting Bella we soon realized that biking with a dog on a leash was not a compatible thing. Bella had little situation awareness and if she saw something didn't hesitate to try to run in front of the bike or inbetween the wheels. Very very dangerous and very much not the kind of a bike ride we are going to enjoy.

The trailer, so far, seems to solve that problem. Tying her to the handlebars on a short leash means she can't run in front of the trailer and has to be on its side. She once tried to run to the other side by going behind the trailer but had to keep moving forward. The move posed no risk to anyone. We're going to continue to give this a go. I am still very alarmed to the possible risks and will monitor her extremely well to see if this does and will work out for us.

The other alternative that a trailer brings is of course the fact that if it doesn't work out, Bella can be put inside the trailer and we can bike with her risk free. Since it's a two kid model, there's room for her and baby Magnus.

Finally, here's one photo from yesterday morning when we all rode together!

Bike Tour!

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Top. Next?

Me and Bella are making progress with our rear end awareness program. As the photo below shows, she is now able to stand on the box and stay. I need to do a bit more refining to make her stay long enough to be able to focus on pivoting but so far so good. It's all going according to plan and even quicker than I expected or hoped for. 

Bella on a Box

 Here's another photo, this time to display how colour coordinated we are as a family. Bella matches our floor perfectly! She's performing a very devoted LIE-STAY there. She's also able to SIT-STAY a bit now without lying down. Things are going really well now, I also feel that a big part of it is that I am more motivated and commited to the training than I have been for a long time. 

Hide'n Seek

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gadgets and Exercise

Today was a glorious day, one of those fantastic early winter days that crop up once most of the fall storms have subsided. Me and Bella took a walk around a nearby lake. It's very small actually and is more like a large duck pond. It gets more shallow with every year.
This walk was somewhat of a milestone for me personally. I haven't dared walk this far for over a year now so I'm excited to see what I will be like tomorrow. The walk clocked in as 4,85km.

Now I have a GPS tracker in my phone and bought a bluetooth compatible heartrate monitor for the tracking app (Sports Tracker). I used it on my walk and later I got the idea to attempt to track my heartrate and calorie burn during mine and Bella's agility class. Surprisingly enough, I received a GPS track as well and found out that me and Bella managed to run and walk 1,45 km during the class. Below is a link to the workout on . When I zoomed in I noticed it would seem I ran through walls. It's inside a riding arena and I only tracked inside it. So there's clearly some inaccuracy in the tracking. Generally I'm very satisfied with the results.

I'm competetive by nature so having the GPS tracker and HR monitor motivates me into competing against myself and the beauty of it is that I can use so many areas to improve on. These days I'm focusing on amount of km and getting into a better shape (lowering my HR).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Extinguishing Fires

Yesterday I attended a lecture on how to evacuate the building I work in during times of crisis, mainly in case of fire. A part of this meeting was allowing us to use fire extinguishes and seeing how the different kinds of extinguishers work. That part was actually rather practical for at-home scenarios. I own an old extinguisher that the previous owners of my apartment left and it's last checked 2006 so I plan to have it looked at after this event.

The Reykjavik Airport Fire Department hosted the exercises and here's one shot from it, with a Fokker 50 from Air Iceland taxiing on the runway of Reykjavik Airport in the background.

With a family of one and a half child (step-daughter) and a dog, this is one area I'm more aware of in recent years. I would encourage anyone to give this subject a thought. As an Air Traffic Controller a lot of my training was about teaching the right reactions in case of emergencies. A sudden fire is known to cause panic and even more so when you have absolutely no idea what to do. Thus it's always good to have some idea about what you can or should do in case of a fire.

Of course, the first rule of thumb is always to call for help and get people away from danger.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bella and the Box

After yesterday's obedience class I dug up a green plastic box to practice the rear end awareness exercise. She went straight to sniff and touch it and got her clicks. At that point we moved on with the program and for some reason she thought I was asking her to bite the box. Possibly because I've worked so much on picking objects up.

We got as far as her raising a paw around the box. She can eat the box if she wants as I have others but it's moving in the right direction so far. I also worked on LIE-STAY and just SIT. I will need more time on just sitting as I tried once to do SIT-STAY and she laid down.

The dog walk is tomorrow. I think I'm going to go. Will see.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Clicker Obedience

Me and Bella started our new dog training class tonight. There are four other dogs taking this class, a Pomeranian, Labrador, Cavalier and a Schnauzer.

I am really proud of my dog, she was so well behaved coming into this class. After the initial excitement which was very mellow for her she didn't make a sound and was more than eager to do tricks for clicks (and treats). I did have to keep her attention almost continuously so she wouldn't start trying to pull at the leash and go for the other dogs (mainly the Pomeranian who incidentally is the smallest dog). I tend to keep her with me by by keeping on the move, walking in small circles or back and forth. It works.

The more I do with her and for her the better I see how much she enjoys working. The clicker was no problem for her tonight. I'm the one who has to stay more focused, one time I had given her the food before I realised I hadn't clicked so my brain told me to click. Argh! Well, more food for Bella at least.

Tonight was an intro into heel position training and staying. The heel position training looks very promising. Waiting is a bit of a muddle at the moment but I think the clicker can help me this time around. During agility when I started training STAY again after avoiding it for a while, Bella started lying down if I say the command. Normally I wouldn't mind but when one agility obstacle can be to SIT-STAY or LIE-STAY it's rather awkward if all she ever does is lie. That's something I need to break down.

Like a proper school, me and Bella now have homework. I'm enthusastic about it. I see a lot of potential in my dog. Next up is the dog walk on Saturday and then Agility on Sunday. Tomorrow is Friday and I've got the weekend off, whoopee!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sunday on a Saturday

Even though tonight's a Saturday it feels like a Sunday. I have a six day work week ahead of me, a busy shift tomorrow and then a whole week of simulator instructing. My first experience of teaching Air Traffic Control. I am looking forward to the experience and hope it will go well.

Next week also promises to be a doggy week. I am scheduled to start a new clicker-based obedience course on Thursday. I have mentioned my (un)success with clicker training while training Bella to pick objects up for me. In short, she didn't understand the connection and I had to use a different method and haven't used the clicker since. Therefore I am moderately enthusiastic about the clicker aspect. Maybe things will click (he he) for us in the coming weeks. I like the premise of the course and welcome every chance to socialise Bella more. One of the objects of the course is obedience training under distractions, something I am very keen to work on.
The course will also be an intro into rally-obedience. I don't know much about that sport but it might be fun to give it a go.

As well as the weekly obedience on Sunday (tomorrow's class is cancelled, which is convenient as I'm working) there is a dog walk downtown a week from now on Saturday. I believe it is hosted by the FCI approved Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFÍ) but am not sure. Either way it's a nice way to show some doggy support. The rights of dogs and dog owners in Iceland are abysmal. That subject is fodder for later writing.

I'll end this with two photos taken with my mobile (to explain the image quality) earlier this week. This is our most common place to go to, only 5 minute walk from home where Bella can sometimes be loose if there's no traffic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Walks

I went out for an almost-midnight walk with Bella tonight. The sky is clear and the stars are out. Earlier tonight when I came home from work and the moon was already out, I noticed an aircraft trace in the sky. I couldn't help smiling as I might have been able to know which exact aircraft had left this trace. Fortunately I am not crazy enough to memorize my air traffic.

The walk with Bella was a good one. I believe I have at some point mentioned my liking for late night walks. Now winter is creeping up on Iceland and the bright summer nights have become dark. It gets darker with every day now. For me and Bella this means fewer people and that she gets to wear her bright yellow reflection west. I can't recommend those enough, especially when Bella is loose.

Now my lovely fiancé is making me hot chocolate. I dislike the dark but winter brings a lot of benefits as well! Hot chocolate, a good book and a warm blanket being among those.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


It's Sunday so that means agility day.

A sign of our beginner status is probably that while we're improving with every class we're also very inconsistent as a team. After some runs I'm about to do a victory dance and then after the next I am despairing.

I jokingly suggested that the instructor do one dog-free session for us owners to learn to do the turns and twists around the items correctly. At one point today I leapt over Bella, which on hindsight was very stupid. Alas, the quickest lessons are when owner-misjudgement results in the dog going around items or stopping. Like the leap I did, Bella was left confused about what she was supposed to do.

Another aspect is seeing the other dog/owner pairs do their runs. I'm taking a class with two other dogs, a Chihuahua and a Papillon. They are very different characters and face different problems. The Papillon specifically seems really unmotivated, it has made me wonder if some dogs just aren't cut out for agility or if motivation is something that an owner can work on. Maybe the bitch just doesn't see the point in any of this.

Bella is however a bit of a terror. She has calmed down but after dominating the Chihuahua two sessions ago she took the Papillon on today. Of course the poor dog just rolled over but I do feel ashamed that Bella behaves this way. When it happened she was focused on me and we were doing a weave, then the next moment she's gone to take on a dog less than half her weight. Iceland is very dog-hostile and I find it a challenge to socialise her properly. We have come a long way but I really don't want to own the Border Terror.

Finally for a funny moment, when me and Bella did the bag-tunnel we were supposed to do a U-turn coming out and do the bridge. I don't quite know what happened but it seems she didn't spot me and looked around like she was lost, then she ran back to the opening and went through the bag again! Came out and still had that lost look and went to the opening again. I came back to her and she came to me and we crossed the bridge, then she took a beeline to the bag-tunnel and ran through it two more times before coming with me to complete the course. I think I know what her favorite item is! Must be those terrier genes talking.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Today was a hectic day at work. With a fairly big day scheduled a neighbouring area experienced some technical difficulties. Everything went well in the end and when the shift was finished I was able to go home and hopefully enjoy a three day weekend. I'm on standby on Sunday so I will at least get tomorrow and Saturday off.

Exhausted after a long day, me and Bella decided to go out for a run. She's a very willing running partner and was bouncing around as I prepared to go.  Granted, we did not go very far as I am testing my body. I also went yesterday after being rather pained earlier this week. After yesterday's run I was pretty good today. I'm curious about tomorrow.

My only complaint is how dark it is outside in the evenings. I need to get myself a light.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life and Agility

Sunday evenings are becoming my favorite time of the week. The only thing that shadows the time with my dog is the status of my hips. I'm getting so tired of this thing! If somebody told me I'd have trouble running 8 months after giving birth I probably would have reconsidered having a baby. Of course I love my son more than anything and believe he's worth this continuous pain.

After last week's agility session I was so bad that my fiancé told me to take pain killers and dug up the crutches I bought during the last weeks of my pregnancy.
Tonight I took the painkillers before the session. I'm not sure if that helped or what it is but I can still walk. I really need to start my weightlifting program to see if it helps. I also want to be able to run in my neighbourhood with Bella so I've got to figure this pain out. I'm not giving up without a fight.

Aside from my half-crippled hips the agility is so much fun. Bella is quite good at it so far. Enthusiastic and runs the courses well. The courses are getting longer and more complicated with every session. Our biggest trouble has been the table, today she started jumping on it without hesitation. Yay! Of course she suddenly unlearnt lying down on command while on the table. Oh well, one session at a time.

Bella at the end of August