Hiking on Vacation


A couple of weeks ago, I was on vacation with the whole family.  We’ve never been on vacation where I didn’t have to go do something like obedience or Rally, so this was a real vacation.

Even better, there were places to go hiking!  No just the usual, walk down the sidewalk, check my pee-mail, make a few posts kind of walk, but real hiking.  I was so excited!  When we hike, I get to be off-leash.  Really off-leash, not on a long line, not in heel position, FREE!

There is SO much to sniff in the woods.  I didn’t see anyone, but I smelled horses, lizards, snakes, deer, birds, and maybe even a bear.  There were all kinds of trees and flowers and weeds and pine needles and rocks and….well, it was just amazing!  Some of the trail was shady and some of it was sunny.

Mom wanted to make sure I’d have plenty to drink, so she bought me my very own water bottle!  It has a little roller ball in it, so I could lick it and get water from it.  I do not like to drink out of a dish if I don’t have to, and Mom didn’t want to waste water by letting me drink out of a regular bottle (like the one she drinks out of), so this was a great find!  She attached it to my leash which she carried, but I did hear her say something about me needing to carry my own supplies next time.  I’d do that if it meant we could hike farther.

We did a bunch of hikes while we were there.  On the first day, we went on a trail that Mom’s friend Maria had shown us, and it was amazing!  Mom did put some stinky stuff all over her and me before we went.  She said it was to keep the mosquitoes and ticks away.  It smelled really bad, but she said it was citronella essential oil and that I needed it to avoid getting something like Lime disease.  I didn’t really know what that was, but I’ve seen those videos of those poor Berner puppies with the lemons, so I figured it must be something like that.

Once we started hiking, I didn’t really notice the smell as much, and it was worth it to get to be out there in nature.  Mom wasn’t really an outdoor kind of person as a kid, so on our first hike, I could tell at one point she wasn’t sure if we had taken a wrong turn, so she looked at me and said, “Well, we aren’t back yet, so we’ll keep moving and eventually we’ll get back.”  That wasn’t very inspiring, I must say, so I figured I’d use my super sniffer and my keen sense of direction to get us back.  I told her to just let me lead the way, and sure enough, we ended up back on this very steep gravel road, and as soon as Mom saw it, she said she knew exactly where we were.  We are a good team!

I’ll share more about my vacation in later posts.


Vacation Time!


A couple of weeks ago, Mom and Dad started packing some things in suitcases, and we were all worried that they might be leaving us again like they did when they went to Sonoma in April to celebrate Dad’s birthday.  Now that turned out okay, but we like it better when we are with our parents.

The morning we thought they were going to leave, we saw them loading up OUR dishes and OUR food, so we figured we would get to go.  Mozzie said he hadn’t heard anything about another dog show, so he was confused.  He said the only time we ever go anywhere with everyone is to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) National Specialty, and this year’s is already over.

Anyway, we all got in the car and Atlas hogged up about 2/3 of the giant crate.  He’s mostly fur, so he had to really work to take up that much space, but he’s willing to do it.  He’s generous that way.

We drove for quite a long time, and we passed all kinds of places.  We knew we were in the mountains, and the trees were getting HUGE!  Before too much longer, Mom said we were there.  We all looked around a little bit confused because it still looked like we were in the forest.

The nice lady who lives there, Maria, came over to meet us, and she brought treats!  That was definitely a great sign.  Treats!  And trees!  Rico got out on his leash and sort of said hi, but he’s a little shy about new people and places.  Mozzie got out and strutted around and seemed delirious between the treats and the smells, so he took a treat and went off to investigate.  Atlas had to hold his horses in the crate for a few minutes because we all know he can get a little overbearing when he meets new people, and Mom didn’t want him scaring anyone.  He was good when he got out and didn’t go jumping on anyone or anything, so he got to roam free, too.

Maria and her husband Chris have two Berners, Largo and Storm, so they understand how Berners are.  They didn’t say anything silly like, ‘Your dogs are SO big,’ ‘Do they eat a lot?’ or ‘Do they shed much?’  They already know we are the perfect size and we eat and shed a normal amount for Bernese Mountain Dogs.

They were so nice to all of us, and we all got settled in and started to investigate the area.  Mozzie founds some bones that probably belonged to Largo and Storm, but Maria said it was fine for him to chew on them.  Mozzie said this was better than any dog show ever or any vacation!

It’s super quiet up there.  We could hear everything!  There weren’t any trucks or anything, so there wasn’t anything for Rico to bark at, and we loved it!  It was super relaxing for all of us and for Mom and Dad.  We’ll share more about our adventures soon!

-Rico, Mozzie, Atlas



Sniffing Upgraded


I’ve been so busy with agility, hiking, vacation, grooming, sleeping, and being Mom’s favorite that I haven’t even had time to write about my adventures, so I figured I start with my nosework update.

Earlier this year, I started learning how to do nosework.  I know what you are thinking, ‘he doesn’t need to learn that; he’s an expert,’ and you are kind of right; however, I did have to learn how to find a*specific* scent in strange places (like boxes, cars, window sills).  I got really good at this really fast because it involved CHEESE.  Yum!

After becoming good at finding cheese everywhere, Barb, my instructor, mixed it up last week.  She added “odor” to my work.  It’s actually some sweet birch essential oil that I have to find now.  Luckily, Barb is smart, and she knows I know how to find cheese, so she’s pairing this new odor with my cheese.  So now when I go search, I am sniffing for this stuff that smells a little like a wintergreen lifesaver, and when I find it, there’s cheese there, too, and I get BONUS cheese for keeping my head near the odor.

What’s better than cheese?  MORE cheese.  We’ve started just working on the basics like finding this in boxes, like we did when I first started to sniff just for cheese.  It’s pretty easy.  Mom decided since I had to find the odor now, I should get some time to practice at home, so she brought home a bunch of boxes of different sizes for our sessions.

Last night, she got them out and somehow magically got that odor into a tin so that she could hide it with my cheese for me to find.  At first, this seemed a little strange to be searching boxes at home, so when she said, “Find it!” I just looked at her like she was crazy.  Then I went to the table where the cheese was and looked at her.  Of course I know that is not was she meant because “find it” implies actually having to do at least a little work, so I went over to the boxes and did my quick search.  We did this a few times, and I think Dad was impressed at how quickly I can find the odor, even when it’s inside a box that’s closed or in a box inside another box or inside a box under a different box.  I do have a super sniffer.

It was a fun game, and I’m glad we got to play it at home.  Mom said that tomorrow night, my buddy Seamus and his dad Mike are going to come to class, too!  That will be fun.  I like class, and it’s even more fun with friends.