New trails and new places

Weekends are made to have fun right? I always try to plan something fun for me and dogs. This weekend it was all about discovering new trails.

Carberry Country Estate

One of the great Castle Mansion Houses of Scotland, Carberry Tower is a multi-award winning, luxury 4 star Castle hotel with an award-winning Bistro, situated just outside Edinburgh in beautiful East Lothian countryside. Standing regally in 35 acres of stunning, private Estate parkland and widely recognised as Edinburgh’s ‘Castle in the country,’ Carberry Tower is a place of intimate grandeur and to arrive here, is to weave your own story into a history that goes back to 1480 when our first foundation stone was laid.

The estate itself is surprisingly hilly, so my long run turned into a tough work. It is mainly arranged for mountain bikers but we had a lot of fun running around.

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History lessons!

There is a lot of history on this estate: “In the 13th century, the lands were owned by John de Crebarrie from whose name the estate probably derives its title. The lands were at one time Crown property and later passed to Dunfermline Abbey. In 1541 the Abbey authorities leased them to Hugh Rigg who built or enlarged the Tower.

By 1587 the church lands were annexed to the Crown and the superiors became the Maitlands of Lauderdale. The Rigg families continued to lease Carberry until 1659 when it was passed to Sir Adam Blair. In 1689 it passed to Sir Robert Dickson of Inveresk who sold it to John Fullerton whose niece Elizabeth married in 1774 the Hon Wm Elphinstone, third son of the 10th Baron, whose son succeeded to the title.

Image may contain: tree, sky, grass, plant, cloud, outdoor and natureThe Elphinstones held Carberry from 1801-1961. Alterations and additions were made to the old Tower from c.1830. The 15th Baron succeeded in 1861 and was involved in political and court life. The park layout was entirely redesigned during his time and the arboretum started. His son, Sydney Herbert, the 16th Baron Elphinstone, married Lady Mary Bowes Lyon in 1910 and they carried out further improvements to the Tower and particularly to the grounds. The formal gardens to the south of the tower were laid out in 1911 and they added to the specimen trees and shrubs in the parks.

The 16th Lord Elphinstone died in 1955 and Lady Elphinstone died in 1961 when the Tower and part of the estate were gifted by the family to the Church of Scotland.” The information was taken from the Historic Scotland page.

Redwood Meadows Dog Activity Park

I was looking for a fenced place where I can let Laferra off lead during her “heat”. A friend recommended me this place. Lovely and very friendly owner welcomed us and showed us around.

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Unfortunately it was raining when we were there, but dogs still had so much fun. The park has a lot of different things that the dogs can sniff, walk on and discover. Laferra as usual was doing her own thing, but Mr Rogerowski was loving everything about it and of course that I had treats to make him do things.

Such a great place and so muh fun for dogs and me😊😂🙊

Posted by Dogxplorescotland on Sunday, August 19, 2018

 

 

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.

Dog-friendly movie in Edinburgh

A few weeks ago I have seen that Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh invited folks for a dog-friendly and human-only movie. I didn’t think twice and just booked in for the early movie, and already planned that I will take Laferra.

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Pre-movie

I have parked near Meadows, so I have walked Laferra prior the movie. Unfortunately, I forgot to check how long is the movie so I didn’t know how long we were going to sit there. Luckly, very early morning we were at the beach, so I thought a quick walk around for pee and have a look at Meadows, as I have never really been there before with dogs.

 

Then we went to the cinema, I had really no clue what to expect. I could see from afar that there are people with dogs already outside. We walked in and see more people with dogs. However it wasn’t really overwhelming so I thought this is great. A few journalist waiting just at the front door and small tiny stall from Dog Aid Society, who straight away guessed Laferra breeds and gave her biscuit.

I never thought her the manners, but she sat straight away knowing she will get a biscuit. Super proud moment. We showed the ticket on the phone and at the same time received an IKEA blanket for Laferra’s seat. I must say, I didn’t expect that and brought her blanket, but this is just great. We walk pass and see a lot of bowls with waters and finding a seat for us. I put a blanket for her but she just jumped on my knees and sat watching surrounding. We were approached by STV as the journalist said: “would you like to answer few questions, as your dog seems the calmest in here”. Wow, thank you, that is massive compliment. Cinema was feeling, but every owner had spare seat for their dogs. My only issue was that people had popcorn and crips around us, so Laferra was chancing to beg, but quickly gave up and just cuddled into me.

 

Movie

Screening started with some house-keeping and rules: how to put blanket on a seat and that dogs must be kept on a lead all the time. Here we come “Isle of Dogs” and all the dogs in the cinema started to bark as on screen there is a massive talking dog.

Everyone just laughed. I was like this is great, Laferra was just watching around. I thought she might be stressed but nothing at all, she was one happy dog.

During movie, she was sitting on my laps or sitting on the floor watching me and her treats. Overall she did brilliant, nice and calm. Only interested in treats even from people near us. The movie wasnt long maybe around 1h 40min, which was just perfect for Princess.

About the movie

Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Liev Schreiber, Koyu Rankin, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Kunichi Nomura, Ken Watanabe, Yoko Ono, Greta Gerwig, Akira Ito
Duration: 101 min

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Four long years after The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs brings another welcome dose of Wes Anderson’s whimsical charm and offbeat direction to capture audiences’ hearts. Set in a dystopian future Japan, the paw-some stop-motion animation follows 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) on his noble quest to find his adored pet dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber). After a mysterious outbreak of ‘canine flu’, all the hounds of Megasaki City are exiled by the authorities to a colossal rubbish dump known as Trash Island. Atari sets out solo to rescue his beloved pooch, meeting a few new mongrel friends along the way. Together, they end up on a journey that will decide the fate of the entire prefecture.

Note: when you are with your dog in cinema you don’t really focus on a movie! Haha

After movie

I wanted to leave quick so we would avoid the crowd, but I didn’t manage. It was a bit overwhelming for Laferra but she kept looking to me for assurance. Once again she didn’t show any signs of stress just walked near my heel.

 

Perfect spot after cinema, Laferra ran around Meadows, before we head to naughty Roger, who did recycling of the bin for me. I always thought it is Laferra, but I know it is Roger to blame from now on. I think he really missed her, as since we are back they just cuddle and Lafie just kisses him.

Overall

Overall movie was great and the whole idea of dog-friendly was brilliant. Laferra is just perfect for that kind of inventions. I had a lot of fun and seeing so many crazy dog people were great. Laferra proved that we have an amazing bonding together and that she is a really perfect dog. Love her to bits.

 

 

 

 

Dog walker or home boarding? Why do I feel like I want to become a stalker!

Do you feel sometimes like you wish to stalk your dog walker?! Unfortunately, my trust towards people that I pay a lot of money to look after has been broken some time ago. Since then I have a very low level of trust to folks when they look after my dogs. Ok. I know strange as I have a dog walker and home Home boarding while I am away, but….

Beginning…

Let’s me start from the beginning. To make myself a bit calmer and more secure, before signing any contracts I do a detailed research but also interview with the person, if they are really capable of looking after my two dogs. I am also honest with them, that my trust was broken before and this is very hard for me.

Another important factor for me is what Roger thinks and shows me. The longer I have him the longer I believe he is right about people. I know funny right, but seriously if Roger likes someone it always ends as being a good person. He also proved to me that not liking someone was right, as I ended up realizing it wasn’t best of choice. Yes, Roger is the main factor when I choose people to look after them, Laferra will just follow him.

The Dogwalker

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When the dog walker walked into my flat… I knew straight away Roger loves Kris, I didn’t even properly introduce us to Kris and Roger started bringing him toys and everything what possible so he would notice him and totally focus on him rather than have a chat with me. That time Laferra was still too young for joining the group walks.

It has been a year now that Kris is walking dogs! I am super happy and love getting updates on how they were today. I am happy!

Home Boarding

Home boarding…. Another tough decision and I have been unlucky. It took me some time to finally find somewhere to be their second home. So this is how we chose it or Roger did. Roger is taught to bring balls to me, not to strangers. Walking around playing the ball and chatting with boarders I could see Roger looks towards me for assurance. I allow him to play ball with them. He chose Jenni. Happy boy.

I know silly right, but I trust Roger, in both cases if he is happy. Later on, we chatted, we talked and I told everything that I would expect from them. I like to keep my dogs routine with walks, meals and so on. Yes, all good for home boarding. Next questions is about the house where they will have access, are they allowed on the sofa, where they will be fed. Unfortunately, I have a bad experience when Laferra, as she was separated daycare are for feeding… why?! No idea, but she came back home and didn’t want to eat and showed signs of stress during meal. I found out later on that place was separating them almost like to crate for feeding, which in case of Laferra was the worst scenario as she doesn’t like crate at all.

Vet

On the other side, recently I discovered that dog walker and home boarding is very important with your trust, but also the vet. Yes, you go to the vet with your dog, however recently I needed to leave Roger for few hours there for some tests. I was nervous as I know how much stress it would bring to Roger. I got brilliant reassurance from the vet, as he talked me through what will happen to Roger and afterward how great he is as they spent time with him. I have never been so excited to go there and pick him up. He was a very sleepy boy who just wanted to cuddle in. Laferra was super excited to see him.

 

Questions to ask

So here are a couple of questions to ask anyone who you leave your dog with (my dear friend shared them with me some time ago):

  • Are they insured? For how many dogs? What are the terms of the policy regarding injury to your dog while in their care? Who pays vet bill? Are they covered for public liability should your dog be involved in an incident?
  • Are they registered with their local council’s dog walkers scheme? While many of these are voluntary codes of conduct, a responsible dog walker will adhere to these regulations.
  • Do they have Scottish Disclosure? A dog walker will usually have keys to your house and be alone while there. It is important you know you can trust them. Will you be able to meet them while they are out walking dogs to see how they operate and interact with their dogs?
  • What type of transport they use for their work…Ideally, dogs should have separate cages which are securely fixed. Failing that, if the dogs are transported in a car, each dog should be “harnessed” in on a seat belt or other acceptable way to ensure a dog’s safety. It is NOT acceptable to secure a dog by a collar…and it is extremely dangerous to have dogs loose in a car or van.
  • How long are dogs in the van? Is it ventilated? Heated for winter?
  • How long do they walk for? If your dog walker says they get an hr, then they should have that hour out of the van and actually be walking.
  • What would they do in an emergency?
  • Are they First Aid certified?
  • Do they know how to break up a dog fight..and more importantly, do they know how to avoid getting dogs into these situations?
  • PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ask them about their experience with dogs. While many dog walkers have vast experience and know-how, the ease with which anyone can become a dog walker makes it a precarious business trying to find a good one.
  • Do they reward dogs for good behavior (treats, praise, playing with them) This is the ideal
  • Are they able to walk your dog on his own until he is ready to join a group?
  • Are they totally aware of canine body language?

Important! Watch your dog

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOUR DOG GOES OUT WITH HIS WALKER Your dog should be relaxed and eager to go out on his walk. If he is reluctant, hides, shows signs of distress he is obviously not happy about going out with the walker. On return, he should be happy and relaxed. If your dog comes back and looks stressed, overly tired or shows any deterioration in his behavior, check what is happening on walks Is he being bullied by the other dogs? Is he okay in transit? Has your dog walker taken the time to integrate him with her group and get him used to the transport?

 

A good dog walker/Home boarding is worth their weight in gold.

Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Croatian story.

I feel very lucky with my job, as it allows me to travel around the world. It has been a long time since my last post as I was away to Croatia for two weeks.

Croatia

Croatia is an Eastern European country with a long coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Encompassing more than a thousand islands, it’s also crossed by the Dinaric Alps. Its inland capital, Zagreb, is distinguished by its medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and diverse museums. The major coastal city Dubrovnik has massive 16th-century walls encircling an Old Town with Gothic and Renaissance buildings. I was lucky and I stayed in downtown of Zagreb, so close to see almost anything within walking distance (or running).

I was very surprised that the temps were so below 0 degrees, as I always had that idea that Croatia is always warm. Nevermind I was wrong. Even tho a business trip I have a lot of time over the weekend to check and feel a bit like a tourist. I tried to explore Zagreb as a dog-friendly city.

Dog-friendly

To my surprise, Zagreb has a lot of shops for dogs (pets). Just around the corner from where I stayed there was a shop called Hov-Hov Zagreb in English: Woof-Woof Zagreb. It is a pets bakery doing homemade treats and cakes. Just lovely place to bring your dog in. On the other hand, I was very shocked when I was doing shopping in H&M when the dog passed me with his owner. I didn’t expect dog inside, but it seems in a shopping center that is just normal casual thing to have your dog. Great idea.

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In the morning I liked to go for a short run so parks were my choice. I didn’t see many dogs but when I saw it looks like a lot of rescues and different crossbreeds out there. Around every corner, there were tiny grassy place to actually walk your dogs with a lot of bins! I haven’t seen many “pick up poo after your dog” signs, but also I didn’t manage to step into any poo, so it must mean they clean after their dogs.

A lot of restaurants were allowing dogs too. Almost every single one that I have been to had a sign that it is dog-friendly. I haven’t seen any dogs with their owners but a lot of places were really empty. Croatia faced first time in 15 years such an awful winter with a lot of snow and very cold temperature. Also, a note that signs on the doors for dog-friendly were similar to ours here in the UK. The staff is very nice in Croatian restaurants and there is always meal of the day too. The menu is always full of traditional meals and it really reminded me about being home or holidays with my family when I was a child.

 

Adventure

I always thought Zagreb is bigger than it actually feels. I was able to run outside it and I am not a long distances runner. There were defo two places I would recommend to visit: Medvedgrad Castle and Jarun lake (although that Lake was a bit disappointed in snow).

The castle is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. I didn’t expect such a heavy winter with so many snow around. Ohh, how much I missed it. I met so many walkers with dogs around there.

I only explored a route to the castle, but it looks like in the summer there would be a lot of trails to canicross with dogs. Such a peaceful place.

Another longer run, I did via city to the Jarun Lake, which looked amazing on photos in the Internet (see below). Jarun is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of Zagreb, Croatia. It was named after Lake Jarun, formed by the Sava River, now located on the southern edge of the neighborhood.

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I was super excited about running there. Unfortunately, in a snow it looks totally like a wee pond (see photo below). Maybe I should have ran to the other side of it?!

Anyways near the lake, there are few restaurants and very nice trails to run. Once again I met few dog walkers around as there was a tiny forest nearby too.

Holidays

Zagreb is the place to go for sure. I would say 2-3days would be enough and then just move to the coast with a lot of beaches and charming villages. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. Surprisingly a lot of people speak good English although I have learned that I speak fluent Croatian. If you plan to go with dog, great enjoy this dog-friendly place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy is a choice, stress is a choice, joy is a choice, choose well.

Weekends are meant to be full of fun and running, right? We were back to Callendar Country Park and Vogrie Country Park.

Saturday

I always look forward to the weekend, actually I live with the thought that soon there will be the weekend. I have always my weekends free so it means a lot of adventures. Saturday weather wasn’t nice, and my dogs aren’t a big fan of rain. Not the greatest choice of the country to live in.

Falkirk Parkrun is great and quite challenging with hills. People say only one heartbreak hill, but the whole route is up and down. Dog-friendly and when asking if we can start to the front they always allow us as they know it is for the best. I like that a lot, which means we can just fire away from everyone and then pace ourselves nicely with only a few overtaking us.

Laferra loves the starts, she is buzzing to go and really run clean. After not training much I thought this will be a massive challenge, but she ran really well, and not many could overtake us on the first mile. We have finished 12th overall, which means we are progressing and our time is more consistent now. It seems last few weeks we keep 5km easily under 21 min. Time to push a bit more now.

It is great to see photos after the event, as you can really see how much she enjoys it (me not so much!).

Cake and coffee time

Afterwards, we went for a nice walk with friends to Canada Woods, which I know quite well from MTB riding there. Canada Wood is a five-minute drive from the town centre situated in the rural countryside of Falkirk and boasts beautiful panoramic views towards the Ochil hills. Nice surroundings with woody paths, dogs just love it. You can do a short loop or longer loop. Therefore there are many paths to explore and you pass a lot of farmland, so if your dogs are like Roger The Chaser, I would keep them on leads. Luckily the sun came out so it was great to enjoy it. After a good walk, all the “humans” deserved the coffee right?! Canada Woods Kitchen serves anything you would want from nice breakfast up to great cakes and coffee. The great thing about this place is that it is dog-friendly so you can have furry baby with you inside. As it was sunny, we have decided to sit outside. Nice staff brought us our orders outside, which I like too as some places expect you to wait inside for taking your own order outside. I have checked the website and it doesn’t say it is dog-friendly, but it defo is. I think I had the best fruit scone ever.

Sunday fun

We were back to Vogrie Country Park. There are 11.5 miles of signed countryside paths through woodlands and the Tyne Valley.

After rainy and sunny Saturday, I didn’t expect a snow at all. We arrived there and there was at least an inch of snow. I had a great walk with Roger.

I think his feet were freezing as he was running around me on a lead. He is a funny boy!

Celebration

Two years ago I went to Vogrie Country Park and had a blast at my first canicross with Cani-Sports Edinburgh with Roger. I have decided to be back in February and celebrate my 2 years in the sport by running. Being a part of the Akobe TAM Marathon community, Laferra and I ran her first 6 miles, her longest run at only 19months old. Oh, Laferra pulled all the way around. We had a blast stopping talking to walkers, stopping for cuddles and talking to other runners. I had a blast on this sunny frozen Sunday! Great 1-2-1 with my girl to have just fun canicrossing, no pressure of racing (we did want she wanted and whenever she wanted)! We have collected our Titch medal  

Weekend

During one weekend we had any kind of weather, what a great fun! Love that kind of weekends, when we can do whatever we want. It is great to live in Edinburgh as within only 20-30min drive you get to very pretty places. After all that I had two very happy and tired dogs. In four days we are heading to Thetford Forest for 2nd round British National Championship. I am super excited.

 

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Sugar-free challenge

The challenge!

With help of my friend from Power Nutrition, I joined a sugar-free challenge. Monika was and is always supporting me with all my sporty life. She gives me advice on food and training. Best friend for sure, so I am always keen for her crazy ideas. 7 days sugar-free challenge was one of those crazy ideas.

However coming back to the Challenge: Sugar-free 7days.Everyone who knows me well knows how much I like my full-fat coke and a bit of chocolate.

So here is how it went:

First I needed to study what can be hidden sugar. All of below needed to be cut off:

  • raw sugar, cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, white sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup, agave nectar, honey, raw honey, stevia, tapioca, Yacon syrup, monk fruit extract, xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, fructose, glucose, erythritol, palm sugar, coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, brown rice syrup, invert sugar, sucrose, beet sugar, acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin, date sugar, corn syrup, caramel, galactose, barley malt, maltodextrin, sorghum syrup and many more.

Day 1

I failed straight away, as totally forgot I have signed for the challenge and there was me chewing my toast with jam. **** I forgot. I spoke with Monika and she said ok no problem, one small mistake continue and make sure it won’t happen again. Uff I am still in. Being curious woman I have checked labels and wow bread has added sugar (actually a lot of it).

Due to a busy weekend, I didn’t have time to make my lunch for Monday, so it was time for shopping lunch. I have checked every single label of the food that I normally eat for my lunch from Lidl. Oh gosh, literally everything has added sugar. Eventually, I found out a broccoli tart and some “fake bread”. As a dessert, I had a box of strawberries.

I was so disappointed with my graze box too. Out of 4 snacks, only 1 was without sugar. I am not going to continue with it. I really thought it is a healthy option.

How happy I was when I discovered that my cottage cheese from Lidl doesn’t have added sugar. However there was still a problem of sugar in bread, so I started looking online for alternative choice and it seems I can forget about bread for a week as even wraps have added sugar.

Day 2

I have checked last night and everything in my household has a sugar. So time for some shopping. I went to Tesco this time. Yyy walking around and checking labels. I found nothing without sugar and then I walked into the gluten-free area. Wow, almost everything has no added sugar, even energy coconut ball doesn’t have a sugar. Amazing! A gluten-free week sounds much better than a sugar-free week.

Lunch was easier this time, I had soup from Tesco and bag of veg crisps which was the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. Not a big fan of very salty things.

Feeling like I am starving all the time, but this is probably lack of sugar. I have managed to drink a lot of water and try not to think that I can not eat anything. On the other hand, the plus is I am 1kg down on my scale! Not that I wanted but with all the traveling recently I feel 2kg down would be better.I also already feel less bloated and light, but also very grumpy.

I found a ready-make pizza for dinner and there is no sugar. I feel it is defo easier to fail this challenge than I actually thought. Bring on day 3.

Day 3

I am actually dying for something sweet and the world doesn’t help me either. I discovered another awful thing: puffed wheat, which I thought would be amazing as breakfast with milk. Just couldn’t go through the first bite.

The good side is that I had an amazing night sleep and still feel light in my stomach. The bad side is that I am even more hungry than yesterday. I stick to my 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and also 2 snacks time which usually is coke and some graze snack, but now it is only a fruit. Starving is the motto of my day. I also feel a bit grumpy and more frustrated with small things.

Today is even harder as someone has birthday cake at work, so me listing my hungry stomach is a big challenge. Literally, I can’t focus on things and feeling very frustrating.

Day 4

Day 4 was easier than I thought. Actually, I didn’t miss anymore my silly sugary things. But the reason is I was super busy with work travelling to Belgium all day. I wonder what and how I will manage away from home.

How surprised I was! Firstly chef in the lounge made me porridge as I said I can’t have sugar. There was no problem for them at all. Amazing! As I really thought it will be difficult. Maybe Jolly of having a pass to lounges… During day I wasn’t even thinking of snacking, as I was at the meeting all day.

Lunch time?! Easy soup and I asked if it was made with sugar, a chef once again promised no sugar and I had some fruits. Winner.

Back to the airport and another lounge. So this time I have recieved freshly made fruit juice. I discovered that “cheese biscuits” have no sugar at all. SO a winner to have a bit of snack.

Day 5

I knew it will be just easier and easier, however, I was going back to my homeland, where I normally eat everything not thinking about consequences. This time even harder as it was my parents anniversary so we were having amazing dinner.

On my 5th day, it was easy to say no to tempting things. Everyone was saying you can try this and this, but I kept strong! I have managed even without cake! Amazing. I can do this.

Day 6

I struggled on Wednesday a lot and that feeling never came back again. Maybe it was easier than I was away? I don’t know, but on my 6th day I started thinking how amazing I feel with no bloated belly and my humour is constant happy (no moody jumps). I have decided that I will try to eat less and less of sugar on a daily basis when the challenge will finish. I wanted to continue with this.

Day 7

Still back at my parents and I still find it easy to say no to sugary things, although grandma didn’t take it well that I said I don’t want her cake! Oh well. I have managed and I feel amazing.

Results

It was tough to start! But then I felt amazing, my body felt amazing. No problem with feeling sick (as I do often) or heavy. I felt constantly happy and I will continue for sure. I also discovered that after 3 day I started to sleep very deep and well. In the morning I felt properly rested and I didn’t remember my dreams. Nothing was able to wake me up. I also had less sweating running training. Just amazing! Defo no need for all that sugar in my life. I will keep up, however, will bring few things back like bread and cheese!

I am still in shock how much sugar there is everywhere in every single food I was consuming!

Wanna a challenge yourself and see how much truth it is? Do it. It is just 7 days! everyone wants to be happy, right? Good luck and let me know your results.

Reviews reviews!

I normally don’t do reviews and that is not a plan here! But I really wanted to share with you those three products/services.

Scruff Muffin https://www.facebook.com/scruffmuffins/

Scruff Muffins provides products for dogs. I had an opportunity to try their collars and blankets for dogs. Amazing, that is my word to describe it. Apart from that, you can choose any style you want but also Scruff Muffin owner likes challenges and new ideas. Also to mention collars come in different sizes.

Laferra loves blankets so much that she brings them all to one place and makes her nest.

 

Cani-fit https://cani-fit.com/

Our canicross, bikejor and scooter club. They provide training for you and your dog. I started attending to cani-fit class with Roger, as I enjoyed it a lot. Cani-fit showed me that this could be even more fun. They helped me to find the right harness for myself and Roger. They introduced us to different sports than just running too. Also they encouraged us to try but also to compete and race. If you ever wonder what is it like, go on the website and book yourself on a class. Cani-fit is for everyone.

Laferra’s training– how to introduce a new dog to the sport:

“My dog doesn’t canicross”… ” my dog doesn’t want to run in front”.. – I thought all that about Laferra… So I have decided to do proper training with her, and learn from the best canifit. So we did canihiking, where canifit leader talked and showed us how to do things. We had a lot homework to do… I was worried but every time Laferra just amazes me… When she turned 11 months we started going to canicross canifit class, it helped my dog to get some confidence to even lead a group at only 11 months. She started to be focused and enjoyed canicross even more.

Fitline Scotland

Fitline provides products which help me to achieve goals that I wasn’t able to do even I trained every day. I am very sceptic about supplements, so I have never really tried. It has been 3 weeks now that I take few products from Fitline and I can see how my body changes, recover and perform. I have tried: Activize Oxyplus, Restorante Citrus, Omega Q10, Proshape and Fitness drink. After chat with a friend this morning, I have realised how much it helped me and how much more energy I have now.