Friday, 31 May 2013

Obedience training

One thing we knew for certain was that we wanted to do some obedience class with Mawson. As he has always been a big puppy and becoming an even bigger crazy boy with a lot of strength, we fully intended to be able to keep him under (relative!) control.

We started being strict parents (yeah right...) from the start. Did the puppy preschool, which is only really an excuse to go and have a pile of tiny pups sweetly misbehaving in unison. But it was still a lot of learning, mostly for us as I think Mawson just only learnt he was getting too big to be kept on our laps during the lessons.
We then did a puppy obedience course. A lot of hard work and a very good team of trainers. Mostly for a first timer like me. Mawson was behaving really well even if showing off his goofiness at any possible occasion.
During the class we had to make sure we could handle our puppy and got given each a T shirt we had to fit on him. Not a big trouble for us but that still gave us some good giggles mostly because of this:

Just need to add a gold chain....

We are not obedience freaks. I want Mawson to have his own imagination and personality. I don't want him to walk like a prisoner next to me on the words of left right left. Just want him to respond to me when needed and have good manners.
And with a bit of obedience we can then start some fun things like agility and tracking as the club we go to only accept dogs older than a year old and at the 3rd class level of obedience. They are also very obedience trialling oriented which I am not very interested in, but that means some of them take it veeeeery seriously (they should try getting a hobby for some of them...).

So here we went to the club starting at the bottom of the heap. I just recently felt that my saturdays were like the ones of the families bringing their kids to activities at different times of the day, ballet, soccer piano lessons... Anyway I digress. We did another puppy/entry class, then went on to first level. And stayed there... until we started ripping our hair out of our heads and eating our hats. Mawson was all over the place in lessons, more interested in smelling and rolling in kangaroo or possum poos than sitting nicely and straight next to me or heeling at any pace! Trying to play with the dogs next to us (or anywhere actually) was also a favourite. The most frustrating was that he could do so much of what we asked him when at home. The usual thing outdoor is a different matter. So we gave up for a while, the two neurones were not connecting or firing at the same time.

Following a 3 months break with "school" we attempted to restart the classes. What a difference! He went straight up to the next level on the first day and ever since we have gone up! He is so much more settled, though he still like to show off his imagination at unexpected times (usually the moments where a we are in front of the whole class for better effect, which makes them all laugh for his goofiness).
We have now reached the quested 3rd level and we will start agility tomorrow! I think I am definitely more excited about that than Mawson who looks at me with quizzical looks when I jump up and down... boys....

One lesson we learnt is that you have to stay realistic with your dog, both with his age capacity and the speed of training. It's like letting kids be kids and play, they can't be expected to solve complex mathematical equations in primary school, need to learn numbers first.
Basically it is all about knowing when the time is right and when to have a break!

Monday, 27 May 2013

A steep learning curve

We went to bring Mawson home on a saturday morning. I had planned to take part of the next week off work and work at home the rest of the week. Mawson got the hang of the place fairly quickly. Amazingly from day one he has organised all his personal business outside of the house, even in the first few days he did not faulter. To be fair we did get up twice every night to let a little zombie out. But  for a pup he was exemplary! Every night Martin was doing the perimeter of the house with Mawson trotting about with him. He passed from discovering the place to quite a bit of self assurance in just under a week. I think it coincided with the day Martin had to leave for a long week end away leaving me in charge of the bundle. Then the sharp teethed alligator appeared! My loving fun pup had been replaced by a bouncy needle teethed monster that reduced me to tears (and also succeeded to open up the bottoms of my preferred trousers in one swift bouncy attack!).

That is when I realised the errors of my innocent ways ... no more tug of wars.... at least until he understood that I was not a pin cushion.

The calm before the storm

After a bit of reorganisation, my cute puppy came back, he never really left, I just realised I made a lot of rooky mistakes! We set up our system in the house. Until we could trust him he would have restricted access while we were away using partition from a playpen. That worked really well and we have kept that system while increasing slowly the space until we got sure that no tasmanian devils would destroy the entirety of the house if left alone. It has worked nearly faultlessly for the whole time Mawson was in there except once.... Somehow, which is still a mystery to me as I am sure the door was closed when we left, he managed to open the door of the puppy playpen which hadn't been double locked. Real heavy for a tiny pup! He must have used a pulley system!!
Martin came back at lunch time to find this...

Tasmanian devil? Doesn't he look proud!

Interestingly, he did not destroy much at all. He reorganised a bit the place, few cushions here and there, few toys spread about, but nothing destuffed or destroyed. The only single thing he destroyed is the certificate from his early puppy school, and he did a good job at it too! We have been wondering if that was a sign or if he was trying to tell us something...
Time for more puppy school and obedience class then!

A crazy idea

When we left the UK, we very regrettably had to leave our bunnies behind as we could not get them into Australia. After a few years of having little furry friends, the new house was feeling very empty. For a while we had been toying with the idea of getting a furry friend a tiny bit bigger than rabbits. We did quite a bit of research, excitedly waited for interminable weeks and got ready.

Ready! Can I see those toys trembling?

Then, following what seemed an eternity, we finally met and brought back home a small little terror.
When we went to meet and pick him, we first saw the little girls, tiny cute creatures! We originally wanted a petite female because we thought that she would be easier as a first GSP... But they were all reserved so we got pick of the boys. The first thing we noticed when the boys joined us later was that they were a lot bigger than the girlies at the same age. And in the bunch there was also one of the pup who was definitely much bigger than any of the others. Not noisy, very calm, looking around, happy to wrestle with the other pup and always happy to be on the bottom of the pile.

Pile of puppies! Only one is on his back...

He was maybe a bit more reserved than the others but something kept drawing us back to him every time. Obviously, both of us had to set our heart on that big monster even though we were thinking that he was definitely nowhere near "petite"!! That is the difference between being rational and looking at those big paws and that gorgeous little face while entirely forgetting about the fact that puppy was already more than 6kg at 8weeks!

Mawson was fitting in Martin's arms!! For a short time...

Look at the size of that paw!!!!

During the time we were waiting to go and meet mister pup, we had been in deep thoughts about what name we would use. We originally thought that Gromit would be great, and we were quite set on that name (I still love that name!). But then when Sue asked us what name we had chosen so that she could complete the registration papers, we both chickened out! There was no way such a cute pup could be named Gromit! It wasn't fitting, so we said that we were hesitating between a few and we would give her the final choice name when we came back to pick him up the next week. Lies! All lies!! We just did not have any name, no hesitation there... So back to the drawing board. We wanted something different than dogs name, a bit  of a special name. And then our eyes met with a book of the table. The biography of Douglas Mawson, an Australian geologist, Antarctic explorer and academic. How much better could you do! And last year was the Mawson's centenary commemorations, it was a sign. The next week a big puppy named Mawson came back home with us, and so the story begins...

Can you resist those eyes?

First day home!

Friday, 24 May 2013

The new "us" of the southern hemisphere

When we just moved back, Martin's mum generously let us stay at her house for a while. We then looked for a place a bit closer to work and closer to the house hunting grounds. The little rented flat we found was great and we had a whole array of australian feathery friends. Some cheekier than others. A couple of rainbow lorikeets decided we weren't too bad and elected to be honorary residents at our place. They came round every morning and evening calling us for seeds and diluted honey and even ventured in the house to find us if the window was open!! They were great fun and we were quite sad to leave them when we moved to the house we just bought.

Sulfur crested cockatoes

Rainbow lorikeets

Cheecky lorikeets driven by their bellies


After quite a bit of hard work, we finally found a lovely house, had a bit of a bidding war and won!
So here we went for another move, hopefully the last one for a while. All went nearly ok except that I was horrendously sick on the day with a splitting headache. There was also an interesting complete delamination of the tyre from the trailer. But all in all, it got done...

Little problem during the move!

Then a couple of empty months later, the container with all our furnitures and clothes arrived, which made nice towers of boxes in the house. Didn't realised we had accumulated so much in our previous place and made me realise as well that I had personally packed all those boxes about 8 months earlier!

Boxes and boxes...

So, here we are new continent, new house, new jobs... now to the next crazy new thing in our lives...

The return to Oz

When we left Australia after Martin secured a post doctoral job in the UK, we were absolutely adamant that we would stay there for a maximum of 3 years tops. Nine years later only an amazing job opportunity for both of us back in Sydney sealed our return and we finally set sails back to the land down under.

During our time on the great british isle, we've made some good friends in and outside work, got involved with a rabbit rescue charity (Fat Fluffs) and ended up being a trustee for an altogether to short a time. This meant I actually filled up the house with bunnies. Two of our own and up to 16 fosters! We had a good little house we renovated just in time to sell it... lived in the lovely midlands (nice countryside, great for walks, but quite a lack of sunshine), and got an allotment a couple of months before leaving after being on a waiting list for nearly 2 years!

Altogether we had a lot of fun and even a bit of regret to leave but coming back to Australia is the next big adventure.

My nice quaint English cottage garden

The garden

Our snow bunnies

Back to Oz

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The start

Well, I have been thinking of starting this blog for a while now. I have been following the adventures of a few GSPs on other blogs and thought that we could tell some funny stories from what Mawson and both of us get up to.
Plus it is sometimes hard to keep everybody updated so like that it is a good place of reference.

As Martin and I moved back to Australia from the UK for nearly 2 years now, I might do a few look back stories at the beginning on some memorable things that happened during that time.

The rest is up to Mawson...