The Best Kind of Weekend

Weekends are great. Summer weekends are better. Three day summer weekends? (Insert Italian hand-kiss motion here.)

The thing about holiday weekends is that we get to enjoy them together. It’s not just my vacation or your vacation, it’s the country’s vacation. The world slows down, the grills turn up and we get to celebrate each other.
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Holiday weekends make everyone smile

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So whether you’re hitting the beach at full speed,

Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, puppy, smile.

Or hitting the beach at 0 mph,

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Or just unwinding at home,

We hope everyone has a great holiday weekend with friends and family! We’ll have a short video posted tomorrow, but will be shutting down after that to enjoy some R&R (with a couple RRs!)

We’ll catch everyone on Monday. A special thanks to all those who work over the holiday so the rest of us can enjoy ours. Cheers!

Summer School

As you may have heard, Penny somehow converts dog food and water into rocket fuel.

NASA, take note

Penny gets plenty of off-leash exercise but she’s at that age where she’s pretty much tireless. For the past couple months I’ve been looking into a few different options to help Penny channel her “creative” energy.

My first thought was to feature her as a stunt-dinosaur in Jurassic World but unfortunately those plans fell through

Penny’s an eager student when we’re training so I decided to look into a summer training course. Nosework isn’t really Penny’s speed/style, and while I hope to take her lure coursing this summer, there simply aren’t enough opportunities to make it a regular activity.

We naturally landed on a class that would rely on my dinosaur’s natural proclivity for forward and upward movement

A class which also utilizes Penny’s ability to squeeze into tight spaces

So that’s why we’re kicking off this holiday weekend with Penny’s first agility class at Chicago Agility. The eight-week course should provide an excellent outlet for Penny’s energy while helping us build better communication.

I know a number of you have experience with agility, so any tips/advice you have in advance of tomorrow’s class would be greatly appreciated!

That Moment When…

My approach to photography is the same as Penny’s approach to life – go wild until your battery runs out. Thankfully we live in the digital age and I don’t go broke developing thousands of photos, 90% of which end up in the trash.

My favorite part about photography is sorting through the blurry and out of focus shots to find photos which convey a moment of realization. They’re not necessarily my “best” photos, they’re photos which are meaningful because of the realization they represent.
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Like that moment I realized I may never fully understand what dogs find comfortable

Or the moment I realized these two guys had a good thing going

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One busy day I thought about skipping a trip to the beach. This photo was the moment I realized I should always make time for this joy in my life

While many photos represent moments of realization for me, my absolute favorite photos are when I catch a pup have a moment of realization.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory.

Like the moment when I give the release command and Penny realizes it’s treat time

Or the moment Penny realized she’d made a miscalculation and Eko realized he’d taught his sister a lesson

Recently I caught a “moment of realization” that never fails to make me crack up when I look at it.

When Eko and Penny are in full-romp mode at the beach it is a tangled blur of paws and teeth and tails and growls. It’s certainly a sight to behold. Last week, while Eko and Penny tore down the shoreline a very ambitious French Bulldog decided to assert his dominance.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory

The little guy barreled toward Eko and Penny while aggressively barking

At first Eko and Penny were too caught up in play to notice the pup. But when they did turn their attention to him, I caught a perfect moment-of-realization.

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“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

The Frenchie stopped running and stopped barking in a single instant. I’m guessing his heart also stopped as Penny and Eko came sprinting over. To his credit, the Frenchie did an excellent imitation of a statue while Eko and Penny sniffed hello before resuming their game of tag.

Anyone else capture any good “moments of realization” photos recently?

Like a Bad Penny…

Summer means the dog beach is usually packed with pups, even during off-hours.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, montrose dog beach, cute

Eko sticks by my side, but I get one good look at Penny before she dives into the fray

I was worried I might have a tough time keeping an eye on Penny amidst the throng of people and pups, but I’ve developed a simple system that makes finding Penny a cinch.

First, look for the fastest moving thing on the beach. If it’s not Penny, proceed to step two.

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Step Two: Look for the blur chasing the fastest thing on the beach

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Next, check for the pups playing fetch. Penny is usually trying to fetch them

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Happen to notice another crazy pup that’s not Penny?

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Keep your eyes glued. Nutty dogs always find each other

And if there are no bouncing or speeding pups?

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Look for the biggest pup in the park

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, montrose dog beach, cuteBecause despite being the size of a Newfie’s head, Penny loves crashing into the giant breeds

But who has time to run then fetch then bounce then crash? Which is why the easiest way to find Penny is to look for the one pup that’s running, fetching, bouncing and crashing all at the same time.

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She’s an excellent multi-tasker

Penny gives me plenty of things to worry about, but losing her at the beach certainly isn’t one of them. Because like a bad penny…

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She always turns up!

Thoughtful Dog Portraits

Last week I posted about the canine emotion and cognition class I’d found online. This week I’ve spent some time running through the various testing-games in order to learn more about the way Eko and Penny think.

I’ll share more about the games in tomorrow’s video, but one part of the testing I really enjoyed was all the different “thoughtful” faces the pups had when trying to figure out what was going on. It’s like I could see the gears turning inside their heads.Rhodesian Ridgeback, cute, puppy, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

“Ok, so Will set up the camera over there. Penny, I’m pretty sure somethings up.”

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“Yup.”

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When multiple cameras come out, the pups know we’re going to work

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I put both dogs in a “stay” command on the couch. The little rule-benders obeyed, but were ready to pounce when the action started

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One of the games involved maintaining eye contact. Eko was steady as a rock from the get go

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Penny was a bit more suspicious…

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But came around when she saw I was holding a treat

Rhodesian Ridgeback, cute, puppy, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

I tested the pups separately. Penny remained fascinated with the games even when it wasn’t her turn

I normally keep training sessions short and sweet but I guess I got caught up with the games. Eko, after following instructions beautifully, finally decided he was done testing. He informed me in his usual subtle manner.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, cute, puppy, chicago, adventure, marking our territory“Now you listen to me. Be quiet and scratch my butt.”

I took the hint and gave the pups a long break before finishing up later in the afternoon. The tests were easy and fun and helped me learn a few fun insights about my pup.

Check back tomorrow to see video of the pupils in action!