Light

Sun has replaced the torn clouds. Snow – which we had in abundance – has deserted us.

Spring is here.

We’re out of shape, dogs are out of shape and the competition season is just around the corner. Where as last year we had just recovered from kennel cough and cut paw, we have now been just bare lazy.

May the Light show the way.

Onwards.

Supplementing nutrition

I wonder if wolves or african wild dogs have their own supply for electrolytes and nutritional supplements, because they are hunting in real (running for their life, in fact) and still around after several thousands of years after their emergence on Earth.

Or has this hairless descendant of monkey done something really wrong, causing the poor domesticated dog to be more or less dependant on nutritional supplements?

Or, in addition to the earlier question, is this hairless monkey doing the wrong things with their best friend and creating a situation in which the dog -whose best friend this monkey called human should be- is in fact dependant on the care…?

Just wondering. Too much care and caretaking may well be damaging in the long run.

Popular posts

Here is the list of the most popular posts I’ve written, with some commentary. I have also activated the rating function for the posts, so please rate the posts so I can see what you think of them!

To warm up: How and why to warm up for a lure-coursing event.

To cool down: How and why to cool down from a lure-coursing trial.

Dog doesn’t need excercise, right?: All dogs are equal and require breed specific amount of excercise.

Breed specific excercise needs: More about the excercise issue.

The holy triangle for a healthy dog: It’s all about basics. And moderation. And rest, of course.

Why the dog doesn’t run?: My thoughts about issues why a dog doesn’t run in a lure-coursing event. Or race.

Heatwave and Heat is going on: some thoughts about heat, it’s effect on a dog and cooling down them in warm weather.

There are more posts I could bring up, but these are among the top 20 posts read so far. Majority of the top20 are lure-coursing event reports (especially EM-09) and contain very little real reading.

For the final thought: Expectations of the owners. Just to keep our feet on the ground with the hobby!

Writer’s block

I’ve hit the wall with the topics to write about. I’ve tried to come up with something relevant to say, but my mind is void and empty.

I think there are several reasons to this: vacation’s over, dog’s haven’t been competing, I’ve covered the basics and there haven’t been any questions or comments from which to see if I’m even heading to the right direction.

Most important thing is -I think- that I haven’t found the ‘voice’ of this blog: I have no direction where to head. I don’t want to turn this into a rambling about our dogs, the competitions or the competitors. That would be fruitless. Nor do I want to turn this into a picture blog, there are other places for walls of pictures of cute -and not so cute- Irish Wolfhounds from side, back, front, lying and standing.

One thing I haven’t meddled with yet is the nutrition and feeding of a competing IW. This is the hardest part, as you cannot give direct guidelines how the dog should be fed. But I’m digging for some information about this issue, too, and will post about it later on.

So the big question is, what would YOU, dear reader, want to learn more about Irish Wolfhounds, lure-coursing, competing and gear?

Search engine answers

I’ve been lazy and haven’t updated the blog as often as I should. That’s about to change, as I’m going to write some texts into drafts first and put them on publishing queue. That’ll teach me something, I think… If nothing else but to stay on schedule.

Now, however, I will tackle the search engine terms I have received hits from. I will leave out the one I’ve been commenting time and again (being “dog breed which doesn’t need exercise”). I will also use some of the terms as topics for complete posts, so I won’t mention those.

First of all, the latest: How fast wolfhound. I gather the question has been how fast a wolfhound will run. In our case -in lure coursing- this means the speed an average competitor gains on the zig-zagging track which is about 700-900 meters long. I would say that it depends on the dog, the track and the terrain.

In general, if we think of a greyhound, the fastest recorded dog breed in the world, is considered to be “45 mile per hour couch potato” with it’s top speeds recorded up to 72 km/h, the sheer size and body mass of Irish Wolfhound makes this impossible. However, in a lure coursing event, the calculated average speed of a champion level dog can easily pass into the 40-45 km/h range, which is quite a feat for such a large dog. The Finnish oval track record gives a top speed of 32 km/h on 480 meter track.

But that speed is the striking speed or the final attack speed of the dog. Where a greyhound can easily kill itself by chasing the prey for a prolonged time, Irish Wolfhound has been bred to chase large game animals and wolves, hunts which are known to last for hours: the endurance and the speed of this chase is of crucial importance. The Woflhound cannot let the prey escape, so it must be able to cut it’s turns. If an elk runs at the speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), then the wolfhound has to be able to follow this speed and make a kill after the elk has wasted her strength. However, I think this speed is the top speed of an elk, and the actual trot is something way lower.

So the simple answer would be that a good, fit and fast Irish Wolfhound may well run at top speed of 40-50 km/h, even though the track speeds tend to show lower values.

This is just my opinion and not a recorded fact.

The next would be food for wolfhound. This is a touchy subject I have to write about sometime. I would say that enough to keep the dog healthy but little enough to keep her from gaining extra weight. The more energy the food contains, the less it should be given. And never, ever trust the amounts suggested on the package if you’re giving kibble: watch how your dog reacts to the food and how it affects the dog’s health.

Best way to train dog for coursing. I gather it’s for lure-coursing as live -or park- coursing is next to prohibited around the world. I think only in Ireland this is still done, but for how long, that is the question. I will write more about my thoughts on how to proceed later, in fact this was something that is long overdue.

I’ll have to mention something about muzzles, blankets and other lure-coursing gear at some point, too. Including the lure-coursing lure and pulling systems, though I have very little experience on those. Maybe I’ll get some visiting author to do a post about them, who knows. Volunteers? There is also space for a post about typical lure-coursing track, if anyone is interested.

I’ll end this recap with one of the most disturbing searches that have ever found it’s way to this blog. The search is simply “my irish wolfhounds have sores all over“. First of all, if this happens, take the dog to a vet, immediately. If it doesn’t help, take her to another, until you find a) the reason to this, b) the remedy for this and c) get the dog well. To keep a dog, be it Irish Wolfhound, Chihuahua or Bulldog, in pain and suffering for prolonged time is torture. If you are planning to do something like this, take a hammer and pound the bones in your feet to pieces. That would be quite enough to remind you that no creature should be harmed and kept in pain.

That’s all for now. My own ‘exercises’ with our dogs can be followed from my Sportstracker account. Mind you, this contains only my walkies, not my wifes, so rest assured the dogs have plenty of good exercise day in, day out, not forgetting the rest. It’s high time, as the European Championships in Marianske Lazne are within one month!

Lazy in the weekend

As it happens, last weekend was something I had been waiting for a long time: no pressure and nothing to bother with. So the dogs had a lazy weekend, too. To be exactly honest, on both days they went for a walk, about one and a half hours on Saturday and almost two hours on Sunday. I attended to the Saturday one myself, but decided to leave the Sunday one for my wife: she enjoys the walkies more than I do, even if the weather was as good as it was.

I was lazying so effectively that I forgot to update the Serenity Sunday post. I was enjoying my life, forgetting everything else  in the process…

This brought to my mind a thought, about which I could talk for quite some time.

People want to do what ever pleases and amuses them during their free time. At the same time they may well restrict their dogs to do what they would find amusing and pleasing. I bet dogs would like to run around freely, lay in the mud when warm and roll in the horse manure when available, but we human’s don’t find that amusing. Instead, we take them to shows to show them off (like the dog would know a jack about the finesses of different evaluations), let them chase a motorized bunny either on a track or in lure coursing event (when they would much rather chase the real bunny) or wash and groom them ‘just for fun’ (as if the facial expression would mean a lot to them).

On top of this, we humans tend to take our pleasing and amusing hobbies way too seriously: in more times than I care to count, the owners of the dogs are trying to gain something for themselves in making their dog’s perform in shows or races. The dogs are actually tools to succeed.

It’s almost -no, it’s even worse- than the parents who are living their lost youth through their kids, making them excel in sports or arts. But it’s similar in a way that the person himself isn’t actually doing anything or acquiring anything: he -or she, for the matter- is taking credit for the successes, whereas the real champion is someone -or something- else.

So it’s proper to relax, take a step back from the routines we’re following and really asking whether this is what the dog -or child- wants to do, enjoys doing and/or craves to do. And take a long, warm sleep over the issue, cuddling them and dreaming of a better world.

After all, it’s amazing how little we know of what our closest ones really want and enjoy doing.

Routines and routines

I’m having a bit of a writer’s block currently: I’m feeling that my posts are – and drafts – are revolving around just few subjects. Which I have covered already pretty well, only tweaking and clarifying the older posts regularily. 

I suppose this happens even when you’re living, exercising and/or training dog’s, too: you get railroaded into certain routines without noticing how simple and predictable your routines become. It’s food in the morning, walkies at noon, food in the evening, with ‘scheduled’ training in between.

Howabout the training? Unles you are very meticulous and plan your trainings beforehand (or have a training diary), you are bound to end up doing the same kind of strength, speed and stamina trainings over and over. And most probably in the same place, so the dogs will learn what happens where and when. The curses of organized training system.

As I have stated time and again, I don’t believe in rigorous training programs as such: free movement and roaming is what I put my emphasis on. For IW’s this works pretty well, especially in a pack like ours: two youngsters keep the older ones on the move and active. I can imagine this proves to be difficult if there is just one dog though: she may well become so dependant on the vincinity of the pack (aka owner/handler) that she will not even sprint for the occasional ‘prey’.

The pitfall of routines is also dangerous in the sense of training: the body, whether human or dog, will get accustomed to repeated exercise. Accustomed to certain strain. The training which gave excellent results in the beginning will soon become just an upkeep level strain. There has to be changes in the pace, hardness, strain and lenght of the training for it to become constantly rewarding. This can be achieved with adding some hill sprinting between two people in the woods, by adding some longer jogging sessions (yes, to really train a dog you have to be fit yourself… :P) or to have a pull or two for the sprint/speed training.

But the routines should be avoided in training. They should be enforced in other aspects of life: feeding times, rest times, obedience and play time. The routines should be time based, not exercise based. This is my philosophy, anyhow.

Currently I have to think about these training issues, because of our Ness’ paw: it’s healing nicely after a severe cut almost through one toe (took 6 stitches…), but the time between today and the European Championships is way too short to get him into prime condition. Without rigorous dedication and training.

Both of which I resent in this hobby, because for me the dog should enjoy it’s life, not be a tool for my personal craving for recognition.

But I cannot let a dog with no fitness, endurance or health to compete in such a competition, so I’m bound to have some sort of training schedule at least in my mind. Because of this, I’m off to the drawing board.

My jolly, how many sentences started with B… 😛