On the way to Poland

All the way from Greece- princess Laferra- the dog who changed my life even more than Roger. She became best friend with Roger from day 1 and eventually she opened her heart to me too. Last season was amazing, we both learnt a lot! Once again thanks Colin Reid and Louise Mitchell for helping, supporting and training with us at the time that I lost my believes. Since then Laferra grew up so much in confidence and now she just loves harness work. She met so many new dogs friends around the world. We have been training and having fun all the time. She is my amazing angel to keep me going and dreaming. I knew I need to step up and do more for her. Thanks Ben Robinson (Robinson Canicross) for last few months of sweat, tears, swear words and hard work, for showing me a level up canicross and for making me do the training, that I have never even think of! We put a lot of work into everything and I know we will have a lot of fun, because that what all matters?! I can’t wait to see my family, friends and meet new friends (Team 🇵🇱 ️be prepared for us)! Today we are leaving to compete at the ICF World Championship in Canicross, Bikejor and Dog Scooter in Lubieszów Poland🇵🇱️ (2nd international event that we will compete at). First a bit of relax at my hometown and introduce my Two crazy mutts to my family (Roger is going with us, his first time abroad!)! Thank you to Westport Vets – South Queensferry and Lisa Cleeton,Veterinary Physiotherapy, Spinal Manipulation & Shiatsu for looking after Laferra. She is ready, I am ready. 💪🇵🇱

Travelling with dogs (long journey)

As you know we are heading for long road trip with dogs for the ICF World Championship in Lubieszów/Bierawa, Poland. I thought this is great opportunity to write a quick post about travelling with your pets.

Plan the journey

We have a long over 1200 miles to go. I know my dogs can travel long with few stops, as we do that a lot for our races. However make sure your dogs are ok to travel that far.

I always plan my trip ahead and check dog-friendly service stations, where I can walk dogs properly on grass area not just in the corner under one tree. They are the most important for me, so they are relax and happy. I usually like to stop every 2-3 hours too, which really is good for me as a driver too (stretching legs everyone).

Also both dogs have collars with tags on during whole journey. Their place is full of blankets and bedding. I also leave them non-spill bowl with fresh water. This time we will also have a journey with ferry (only 2 hours from Dover to Dunkirk). DFDS already sent me an email remaining me what I need to have with me for travelling with pets, which is really great from them.

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I am lucky as we are going first for Canicross Midlands races, which means both dogs will be tired and well exercised. Here are few tips what to do and dont:

  • exercise your dogs prior.
  • avoid feeding or just spread over few meals.
  • make sure you have spare leads and collars.
  • fresh water for dogs.
  • non-spill bowl.
  • pack toys and treats.
  • going abroad have passport and de-worming tablets for coming back to the UK.
  • dont leave dogs in car on a hot days.
  • reward your dogs for good behaviours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new challenge to put myself to a new level- no processed food

I thought I will write a bit different post since my couple friends been asking me how am I doing and it has been over 80 days I am sticking to this crazy idea my coach challenged me on to see if my performance can be increased.

Definition

To make sure we are all on the same page here is a bit of definition what I am challenged on.

Food processing is the transformation of cooked ingredients, by physical or chemical means into food, or of food into other forms including:

Bread. savoury snacks, such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties. meat products, such asbacon, sausage, ham, salami and paté “convenience foods”, such as microwave meals or ready meals.

Food processing can be as basic as:

  • freezing
  • canning
  • baking
  • drying

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Challenge

I think the biggest challenge for me was how I will manage without bread and cheese. I agreed to accept this challenge with some expectation:

  • continue to have yogurts.
  • continue to eat cottage cheese.
  • eat polish sausage.
  • exchange bread for wholegrain crispbread.
  • not too often having honey.

Yes, I thought that is manageable now, just easy 126 days until the ICF World Championship so I can easily do it. I was wrong.

Day by day

A few friends said to me it will just get easy, first 3 weeks will be a struggle, but then it will be easy. That is not true and don’t listen to people who say that to you. My first three weeks were awesome and easy. I was super proud and needed to quickly learn what I can and what I can’t. My daily shopping routine usually lasted 5 minutes, now it is 20-30 minutes going through products and reading labels. I am in shock and disgust with some of the products on our shelves. I have quickly learn what to avoid and what was my favourite things.

The whole eating “smarter” wasn’t cheaper at all either. I am going through a lot of kgs of fruits and veggies during day. Love my dinners full of meat and nice fresh veggies. I discovered different recipes for using sweet potato. It really takes time to plan dinners now too.

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Half way through

I have learnt that my needs are fulfil with just passing by the bakery or just smell cakes. How many times I said I had enough and went to local Tesco, quickly bought donuts and just smelled them at home. I have managed to be strong and I am sure seagulls enjoyed them (oops). Finally I got to the stage that I discovered that there aren’t much variety for my meals so getting bored now and really counting days when I can finish this challenge.

Benefits

It isn’t easy, but the benefits are just amazing. Here are some:

  • Appreciation for fruit… Oh they smell so nice!
  • Feeling more sensitive to smells.
  • Discovering new world of eating- new recipes, new ingredients.
  • Losing weight (but I think it is more due to the fact my body bulking into muscles, so goodbye bad fat).
  • Flatter belly- no more bloated, feeling heavy on my stomach.
  • Easier to fall asleep- never had problem with that, but now I just put head on pillow and that’s me.
  • My skin is more elastic/ healthier.
  • Say goodbye to eye bag.
  • Stronger running, quicker to recover.
  • At the moment I can see that I am running lighter.
  • Feeling better, all around.

Try it for yourself even couple weeks

I never thought it will be so difficult and I have managed and will finish it soon. I can’t wait for having ice-creams, crisps, bread and massive chocolate or polish donuts. However I know it is just what I think at the moment, I know I will continue with my healthy choices, as I feel absolutely amazing. Make sure you enjoy life but make the right choices!

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Sport camp- canicross taken to another level

Coming from sport background, I was always used to pre-season sport camp, where our coaches made us do things to really make us stronger athletes. I remember very well early morning warm up short training very early morning, which I always hated. Usually it last week or two but you defo were coming back pretty tired. However body recovered quickly and we always were ready for September and our first volleyball games of the season. The older I get the more I miss team bonding and all the fun that was in connection with our sport camp (late night press up punishment for not sleeping! was one of them). Such a good memories. Anyway since I started training under “big eye” of Ben Robinson (current World, European and British Canicross Champion), I feel my canicross and whole running moved to new level. Due to some personal circumstances, I wasn’t able to go to France to compete at TDM, I thought I need to spend my holidays somehow different. With my crazy ideas Ben and I teamed up for a week of training camp.

Training plan

I like the idea that I don’t need to worry about what and where I need to do. Ben made sure me and dogs explored different trails, uphills, downhills and ran a lot of miles that week. Always remember when training with the Champ recovery run turns into massive elevation gain over pretty solid long distance.

Dogs training

It was all about training including dogs. It was great to make sure they run everyday. I also had an opportunity for really first time to canicross with beasts, in other word Champion’s dogs. Well Ben has nice variety of different dogs, but they are all superb with their heads for the running. I was really impressed with even his youngest dog that was super focused even when paired for the first time with my Laferra. If you ask me, yes I ran with Blakey boy- the Champion Dog and yes it was scary, but I felt my feet weren’t touching the ground!

For the first time I felt super strong dogs, but also my body wasn’t broke and I really enjoyed running at 3:21/km pace. Even the trees weren’t that annoying to hit my face 😀

The whole week I could try different dogs and try different thing with my girl. She ran as a single dog, she ran as a first time as a 2 dog team and finally she did a lot of free running while I was working hard. On the other hand Mr Rogerowski train a lot and work hard canicrossing with Ben (what a lucky dug right?). I am so happy he is back to harness as he loves it so much and really never gave up even when I ran big boy Nero and Ben’s Dad had Roger with Nova as 2 dog team 🙂

During the week I have learnt a lot about canicross resistance training for dogs, which is still new and I have never used it really.

Experience from pros

As I was staying with my close friends it was great to learn about their routine with dogs too. At the end of the day it isn’t just running, dogs like to be dogs. All that swimming, fetching and hiking is good for training too. Unfortunately my two still didn’t get the hint how to swim, but I can see Laferra is braver with going deeper to the water (oh and summer is gone LOL).

Athletic track

I know I used to say I will never go and run at the track, but Ben offered me to just experience it. No pressure at all right! First time ever I have been to that kind of place. So many people and I felt absolutely awful (so intimidating), but having my coach on the side explaining the rules and etiquette, I got a bit braver to run my first 400m on a track. I felt like a monkey in a zoo if I am honest. Also struggled when I could do my next time, as groups were running and running. On the other hand it was great to see some of those folks running. Oh they run soooo light! Maybe that gave me courage? I did it again and something broke inside me. Ah, I believed. I believed my dreams are possible to be reached. Maybe not tomorrow or within a month but they are closer to be reached than they were. Loved my experience on track and already looking for a local track availability.

Sport camp

Once again I felt like pro athlete who worked hard for the coming season. Every day training and excitement which dog I can run kept me going. My hard work was paid off in massive blisters and stiff calves, but at the end of the day the purpose of this camp was to experience and learn more. I learnt that a lot of hard work still needs to be done, but I am super excited for 2019.

 

My favourite running partner of my first canicross camp was Nero. We worked a lot together and we both felt same after 8 days of hard training. I am already looking forward to my next camp with these bunch of humans and dogs.

Gateway to England

Last week I had lovely holiday down in England in Gloucester area.

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Forest of Dean

It is historical land in the West of Gloucestershire in England. The forest is located between the River Wye in the west and north, Severn in the south and the city of Gloucester in the east. The forest is massive as it covers of 100m square with mixed forest and it is the second biggest largest forest in England. We have been discovering different trails and the dogs loved it. A lot of car parks around to stop and discover different parts of the forest. Ohh and the boars are awesome.

Mallard’s Pike Lake

Lovely place for picnic or just walk with dogs. We did spend a lot of time there, trying to teach miss Lafie how to swim, walk around, eat lunches or run the trails around. Most ponds in the forest were made to supply water wheels that powered the mills and iron forges of the Forests industrial past but these were made by the Forestry Commission for the community’s pleasure. The larger, lower pond is used for water sports, the upper pond is left undisturbed for wildlife.

One of the interesting runs we did was Adidas running trails, which is apparently challenging for any runners of 3.4 miles.

Gloucester city

It is a city and district in Gloucestershire, England, of which it is the county town. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the southwest. I had a lovely walk around city centre with dogs and also found a lot of place were dog-friendly which was really extra bonus to nice walk around.

For the first time I had so much attention with those two, as a lot of people were stopping and asking about them. Surprisingly they both behaved, but maybe it was due to that we were already after our training camp.

Ross on Wye

I think this was my most favourite place that we visited during our holidays. Ross-on-Wye is a small market town in south eastern Herefordshire located on the River Wye, and northern edge of forest of Dean. The city promotes itself as a birthplace of British tourism. Lovely walk down the river allowed dogs to be off lead and had a paddle in a water. River Rye is the 5th longest river in the UK, stretching some 215km.

Absolutely awesome place to visit with your 4 legged friends. A lot of places to walk, run and hike.

An adventure to the heart of the Lanarkshire

I need to improvise a bit recently without a van to make dogs happy but also to have something to do at the weekends myself. Last weekend we were invited to my friend Lee to meet their new addition. Roger stayed in Edinburgh on his own adventure with his previous owners. They sometimes help me to look after dogs.

Travelling

I never knew that travelling with a dog by train in Scotland is so easy and actually enjoyable. We walked to Waverly Train Station in Edinburgh, it was very busy but Laferra is good walking near my heel.

It was super busy inside too, so we needed to wait in queue to get our ticket (next time I will buy it online for sure), however princess just sat and waited patiently for our turn. You can have up to two dogs with you on a train. We have managed to get the train without any changes. An hour ride by train was very nice as Lafie settled in no problem sitting on my laps as she was tired after parkrun. She was catching some energy for later.

Carluke

We went to see our friend Lee as she had a new dog coming all the way from Greece (same rescue place as Laferra). I was spamming a bit my page and wall with two puppies from Greece and two of them found home in Scotland. Both arrived Saturday morning and settling in well. However this black dog is special to me, as it looks totally like Laferra when she was younger. They could be easy half sisters??

They were actually very happy to see each other like they knew each other, or maybe Laferra could smell Greece? Ghini the black pointer was delighted to see Laferra. Hopefully one day Lafie could show Ghini how to get into sport 😉

Equitots Lanarkshire Community

My friend Lee has few horses, goats, rabbits, cat and other doggies too. It is like heaven for animals and children. Laferra even chased her cat (oops), loved watching the horses and goats. They organised a lot of cool things: ridding horses, creative activities (I cant wait to join them next time)- like painting the stones and some fun time for kids in forest. Lovely afternoon with dogs and friends just chilling. If you ever looking for something to do with kids have a look at their page!

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Feeling lucky to have an amazing friend like this. I also got a beautiful painted stones as a thank you for helping them out with Ghini and a beautiful bookmark which looks like Laferra. Thank you soooo much! You are so talented.

Return to Edinburgh

Unfortunately the train we were planning to catch has been cancelled so we needed to wait an hour for next one. Had a wee walk around and then Lafie just sat on my laps watching birds. Finally train arrived and we were on the way home. Lafie just fall asleep in the middle of a train and noone said anything to move her. Everyone was carefully passing her. Love how dog-friendly everyone and trains are. Absolutely amazing. I feel very lucky with Laferra being such an easy dog and coping with the world so well.

We have picked up Roger on the way and he was on mission to stop everyone on the way home (3.5km walking took us forever).

Cannock Chase Fur Nations weekend

To finish our season we have went all the way down to England to Cannock Chase for Fur Nations races at the weekend. 5h drive on a nice motorway feels like nothing compering to my trip to Poland. Services on the way are super dog-friendly! I tried to stop on different ones and already have few my favourites as some of them are fenced and you can dogs let off lead for a proper stretch.

Weekend away

Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/. This was our first time to Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase Country Park is one of the largest country parks in England. It is a local government district in England and it covers a large part of Cannock Chase forest and the towns of Cannock, Rugeley and Hednesford.

Unlucky this time the weather wasn’t the best. It was raining a bit and during night there were thunderstorms which was a bit scary even for myself.

As always dogs had a blast.

Surrounding

Cannock Chase is located between Cannock, Lichfield, Rugeley and Stafford. It comprises a mixture of natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry, such as coal mining. The landscape owes much to the underlying Triassic bunter formations. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on 16 September 1958 and is the smallest area so designated in mainland Britain, covering 68 km2 (26 sq mi). Much of the area is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Despite being relatively small in area, the chase provides a remarkable range of landscape and wildlife, including a herd of around 800 fallow deer and a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars. A feeding station at the Marquis Drive Visitors’ Centre, sponsored by the West Midland Bird Club, attracts many species, including brambling, yellowhammer and bullfinch.

 

Efforts are underway to increase the amount of heathland on the chase, reintroducing shrubs such as heather in some areas where bracken and birch forest have crowded out most other plants. The local flora also includes several species of Vaccinium, including the eponymous Cannock Chase berry (Vaccinium ×intermedium Ruthe). In January 2009, an outbreak of the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum was discovered on the chase, at Brocton Coppice. Various restrictions were put in place in an attempt to prevent its spread.

Races

So once again we had two days of racing, great finish to Laferra’s first season. The trails were just under 5km but surprisingly very tough (elevation only 91m). My greek rescue girl was very strong all around and did well by overtaking more people this time than being overtaken. Lovely mix terrain full of grass and forest trails made her go even more. It is very challenging to start in mass and then meet a lot of people out on trails. At the end of the day she is still very young dog and took it all without any problem. 3 weeks after Glamis, I felt once again stronger and really worked hard. Looking forward to part 2 of my programme with Ben Robinson. Time for summer and work even harder for next season. Fur Nations races are joining the list of race must attend next season.

 

Dog-friendly places to spend fantastic day out with your mutts

Another few place we visited during our holidays were less dog-friendly but still I was very impressed how dog-friendly they were actually.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction.

Explorer pass- Historic Scotland- an amazing historic tour with dogs

Last week was a bit different than usual as I was on holidays and we had a visitor. We have decided on explorer pass which gets you to over 70 attractions and therefore fast track to Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. We have bought 3 days pass which needed to be used within a 5 day period. Most of the attractions are apparently dog-friendly, so we tried to see what it is like to go and visit Castles with dogs.

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick

Set on the edge of the cliffs, looking out to the Bass Rock, this formidable castle was a stronghold of the Douglas family. Ascend Tantallon’s towers for spectacular views of the Bass Rock and to watch gannets plunge into the North Sea. Then descend into the depths of a particularly grim pit prison. The castle was home to the powerful Red Douglas dynasty, which often clashed with the Crown. It was besieged by both James IV and James V but was ultimately destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in a siege of 1651. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Amazing thing about this castle is that you can bring your dog (leashed) and explore the castle. Massive massive respect for being dog-friendly. Love that there were a lot of grass around to walk. Not many tourists too and a lot of place to stop and have a break with stunning views.

Dirleton Castle, Dirleton

A romantic castle often in the forefront of Scottish history since it was built in the 12th century. The renowned gardens include an Arts and Crafts herbaceous border and Victorian garden. The herbaceous border has been authenticated by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest. The two gardens and grounds are accessible to those using wheelchairs. Two steps lead to the inner courtyard. The castle interior is restricted for visitors using wheelchairs as are the gazebo and dovecote. Surfaces on all garden paths and those leading to the grounds are suitable for wheelchairs. The main garden has a selection of scented flowers and plants. Tickets: 6 GBP.

I think this one was my favourite, it had lovely garden to walk around the castle but also dogs were allowed inside. It was very quiet with tourists so we could enjoy it just to ourselves. The staff offered us the water for dogs and welcome them too. We even stood in a shop and Roger was taking all the teddy bears! Oops.

We could walk around the castle, but also inside the building in the Great Hall and so on. Dogs loved all the livestock around, we saw goats, cows and horses while walking in the gardens. Dogs were really keen on sniffing around and we could also take an amazing photos out and in. Loved it! I was very impressed with my first castle tour!

Linlithgow Palace

Inside one of the most spectacular ruins in Scotland you cannot help but walk in the footsteps of royalty. This royal pleasure palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and an iconic filming location in hit TV show Outlander.

Visit the great hall where monarchs hosted banquets, tour James IV’s suite of chambers or say a prayer in the private oratory of James V. Outlander fans will recognise the Palace gates and corridors as being those used in the scenes when Jamie was imprisoned.  You can see the elaborate, restored fountain in action every Sunday in July and August – it reputedly flowed with wine when Bonnie Prince Charlie visited.The high towers look down over the palace’s grounds –the Peel – and Linlithgow Loch, an important refuge for wildlife. You can explore both on well-surfaced paths. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Maybe actually this one is my favourite one?! You can walk around the Palace which has a Loch (dogs ran into it for a cool down), but also an amazing palace’s ground full of ground for playing fetch. A lot of walking around inside the Palace once again brought a lot of interesting smells for my two mutts. Laferra was in love with birds inside the castle as they were really teasing her.

Cragiemillar Castle

The castle of Craigmillar is one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Scotland. Even today, the castle retains the character of a medieval stronghold. Building began in the early 15th century, and over the next 250 years the castle became a comfortable residence surrounded by fine gardens and pastureland. The castles history is not only closely involved with the city of Edinburgh, but plays an important part in the story of Mary Queen of Scots who fled to Craigmillar Castle following the murder of Rizzio. It was in the castle where the plot was hatched to murder Marys husband, Lord Darnley. Built round an L-plan tower house of the early 15th Century, Craigmillar was much expanded in the 15th and 16th Centuries. It is a handsome ruin, including a range of private rooms linked to the hall of the old tower. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Once again a very quiet place to visit with friendly staff and a “make it yourself” wheel trolley so we made ourselves crowns! So much laugh as we knew it was just for kids. A cat welcome us which probably would be funny if Roger would spot it. Apart from that a nice building to walk in and out and literally noone there apart from the staff.

Blackness Castle

One of Scotland’s most impressive strongholds, Blackness Castle was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland’s most powerful families, the Crichtons.

This Castle is close to the beach so dogs could have a deep in the sea, but also on the other side there is grass grounds for them to run around and play. [Note: I actually realised this was a part of our training grounds, but from other side]. Absolutely lovely and tiny castle. Dogs are not permitted in roofed buildings.

Absolutely amazing time exploring! I would defo recommend a dog-friendly tour around Scottish Castles.

Glamis Castle Fur Nations weekend

Last weekend was very spontaneous, after few chats with friends, I have decided to sign for Fur Nations races at Glamis Castle as it wasn’t really far away from home. Oh boy! It was one of the best weekends.

Weekend away

We love the weekends away with dogs and even better with couple friends and their dogs too! Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/

Luckily for us the weather was just amazing! We now have much bigger tent, so there is a lot of space for everything really. Although dogs discovered how to escape from it!

Surroundings

Glamis Castle is a living, breathing monument to Scottish heritage, hospitality and enjoyment for all. The family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Glamis Castle is the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret.

Glamis Castle has evolved over the years to create a stunning architectural treasure that is full of vitality to this day. Once inside, every room has its own story and the evolution of the castle and its legendary tales and secrets are brought to life by your own enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides.

Every painting, every piece of furniture, every little detail along the way is a sharp reminder that this is not a museum but an incredible family home that has witnessed everything from Royal births to being the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are beautiful all year round. Walks have been created to take in a mixture of habitats ranging from park land and policies in the immediate vicinity of the castle to the formal Italian Garden, mixed woodland and Pinetum to the North East.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos of inside while we did our tour around the castle. However the staff was lovely saying hi to my dogs asking their stories.

Races

So we had two days of races, it was Laferra turn as Roger still building up for running in the harness. The trails were 5.2km and the start was at the small incline and then via water to then through the woods. Absolutely lovely soft and nice trails.

A lot of overtaking and being overtaken as the categories started in mass start and we were in 4th wave. Laferra loved the mass start and all the dogs around. We worked well together finishing 7th overall in our category (out of 42 runners). 9 weeks training with Ben Robinson proves it works, it made me stronger runner in head but also physically! Ben also supported me with preparation prior to the races (nutrition). We loved it so much I have decided we are going for English leg to Cannock chase in two weeks time!

I know Roger would have loved a run and he is very good with his commands, so he ran with our friend’s little girl (6) and loved it. I think she loved it too.

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Amazing time to be out with our dogs and friends. Chilling all days outside. Absolutely lovely atmosphere and zero politics. That what racing should be all about… fun with dogs 🙂 Looking forward to Cannock Chase!