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.

Hiking with dogs

Summer approaches (well maybe not here in the UK). This is the time of the year that we all go more often hiking with our dogs. Here are some rules and information you should remember before planning your hiking.

Right trails

Make sure you look at nice trails that are suitable for your doggies such as soft and not with many cliffs around, so dogs can be off lead all the time. Depending on how fit you and your dogs are, check how steep and how many drops there are on the route. If it is nice sunny day check if there are any water stops for dogs to cool down.

You and your dog

Make sure if you choose the trails that are suitable for both of you! Check if your dog is fit to actually go for a long adventure. Your vet will be able to advise you. Also, don’t feed a massive meal before hiking too.

Check rules and regulations

Check your local rules and regulations, as for example in Scotland dogs must be always on a lead during lambing.

  • During the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.

After hiking check your dog

  • Eyes – check for grass seeds.
  • Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects.
  • Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks.
  • Tail – foreign objects caught in fur.
  • “Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to bed in they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later and could result in a costly trip to the vets to have them removed.
  • Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, and cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with pieces of fallen branches as they can cause untold damage to the throat and/or mouth.
  • Body-  check overall for ticks.

Items to take along with you

So it is important you pack everything for your hiking adventure, I put a list together what I always have with me:

  • treats- high quality treats to reward and encourage good behavior.
  • favorite toy- we always find time to play and have some fun.
  • doggies first aid kit- cuts and strains could happen so be prepared.
  • spare collars and leads
  • poo bags- always clean waste
  • whistle- to call them back
  • animal-friendly wipes
  • water bottle and collapsible drinking bowl

 

Enjoy your adventures with dogs and stay safe.

 

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

Christmas! Christmas and it is over now. So this year I wasn’t off work, which was a bit weird as I love to spend it at work. Anyways. There was no snow, so a bit disappointed, but the weather was good enough (or that what I believe in) to do things with dogs.

Parkrun at Vogrie Country Park

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, outdoor and nature

First time ever I have decided to go and check out the parkrun at Vogrie Country Park which we know quiet well, as it is the place where our sled dog sports adventure started. It was busy, but they allowed us to start in front. You do 2 loops of same trails and it was amazing. The parkrun is so challenging and distracting for dogs, that was a great experience for Laferra, but she didn’t even look at sides twice. Super proud of her. She is doing so well. We also did well timewise, although I was hoping for sub 20, but we got tangled on a tree and it was a surprisingly hilly course.

Christmas Eve

On a Christmas Eve I took dogs for adventure to Cathkin Brae. Weather was awful but officialy I became a BAM. Follow the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/206832509725490/ if you want to learn more about it. I ran 13.7 miles with Lafie off lead and Roger canicrossing for last 4.5miles. Great fun and super tired two dogs.

After that run I thought I deserved all the ice cream and a wee donut, but I wasn’t so keen on it when I got home.

How do you manage during Christmas

I am lucky as I don’t have many temptations during holidays time for bad food. It must be hard to still go out train and eat healthy with all those Christmasy food around. Do you stick to the plan? Or just eat whatever and being lazy?

I rather stick to plan with maybe tiny expectation of some sweet, but continue with my training schedule or even work harder as I have more time. Jolly of being off work.

Do you spoil your furry babies?

It isn’t just temptation for you, but also for dogs. Do you spoil them with extra treats? I don’t as it might affect them same as us. My dogs get a chewy treat once a week anyways. This year they only got spoiled with toys which they love. A friend of mine showed me best entertaining toy which includes:

These three things make an amazing toy, just check the video below how much Roger and Laferra loved it.

Rest of the Christmas Holidays

We literally spend it as always! Traditional trip to the beach as every year on Christmas Day. I thought going to Portobello would be good as not many people would be out, and it was raining again so a quick run for 2 miles and back home.

We have also stick to the training schedule and work out dogs in harness, which was super excited. Now planning ahead what to do to make dogs chilled and relaxed during New Year fireworks. Watch out for our next post.

 

 

 

 

 

Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up

Motivation

Someone shared with me an interesting link recently. Its quote from “Rocky” is just spot on.

“it aint about how hard you are hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward…”

I always dream and always make sure I put 100% to make my dreams become true. <3

Dreams

Counting has begun. On the 19th of November, we will be on the way after dropping Roger for his holidays. I am nervous and super excited. This is all happening! I think I still can’t believe that I am going to the World Championship. My dream trip. I will finally meet my canicross friends from around the world.

Princess Laferra will make new dogs friends too. Together we will promote rescue dogs too.

Last few trainings

We have been working really hard in last few weeks that looking at my times and paces I am buzzing even more. Such a progress from both of us.

Our most favorite location for training is the Abercon which has nice soft trails with uphill and downhills and even open field. Love it there. A lot of water stops for the dogs.

9 days to go which means we have maybe 5 more trainings. We both had long journey in last 3 months. Time to start thinking about the packing for real now! I have not started yet.

I am buzzing and no one will take that away from me. My dream, my life! I will keep you posted how we are getting on our adventure. Watch this space.

 

The World Championship preparation

We have now less than couple weeks left and leaving for probably the biggest trip of my life. We are going to the World Championship in Poland.

Firstly I would like to thank you to those who donate to my crowdfunding, we are way over the target. Really appreciate that.

Secondly here’s to the post that will be full of panic and excitement ( I would advise closing the tab if you aren’t interested :D).

Pre-race preparation

Last 2 weeks is really all about pre-race preparation. We have a couple more “race environment” runs for Laferra to grow into even more confidence. She is coming along so well. I am super proud of her. At training, she can fluff around, but at the race, she really surprised me. She is keen to go, stay focused, overtake and continue with the run. She does exactly what we have been training last few weeks. I am very happy that she made training hard so hopefully, we won’t many mistakes at the actual races.

Pre-race packing

I have been panicking and thinking about this for weeks. What do I really need? I have never been abroad with my dog. I know funny right, as I was always planning to take Roger, but didn’t really manage.

So what do I need?

Of course my running gear and Laferra’s running gear. I am sure we need more than just that?! Hope we will cope with weather in Poland. At the end of November, it will be cold there. Ohh gosh so glad we have nice warm accommodation booked. Still panic is there.

We are going to a different country, different climate and totally the place I know well, or that what I thought. Yes, Poland is my country but I panic. I have managed to put this list together (please let me know if I missed something):

  • running gear: Lafie’s harness, my belt and bungee lead
  • spare my belt and bungee lead
  • my running gear: shoes, long socks, shorts and vests
  • water for Laferra (how much water do I really take for her for 10days?!)
  • food for Laferra
  • sardines for Laferra (hydration)
  • tapeworms tablets for coming back
  • Blanket for Lafie
  • Jackets for Laferra
  • Waterproof day to day shoes
  • Hoodies
  • Winter Jacket
  • Casual clothes
  • passports
  • insurance documents
  • first aid kit for dogs (thanks for reminding me about this)

Here my list finished. I have no clue. I think I will start packing a week earlier, so I am totally sure I have everything. I am glad my parents are coming to the event, so they can always pick up something for me if I totally forget about it.

Pre-trip checks

Although I am taking Laferra, I can’t forget that I am leaving Roger on his wee holidays here in Scotland. Need to make sure everything is arranged for him: dog walker, pick up at the weekend for the away weekend. Leave his food and toys, oh favorite blanket.

As I am driving first part of the trip myself, I need to make sure my car is checked: oil, bulbs, and tyres are pumped. Windscreen liquid filled. Yeah I know I am doing better here right?

Also enough money to pay for tolls on the way to Poland and back.

Pre-race training

Another weekend, training and learning. Spot on! Up and down and I am defo buzzing for Poland. It is all about the clear run with my wee girl! She is doing soooo well! Different runs, different locations. Few mistakes but we learned the lesson! Last 2 weeks before us heading.

Rest

It isn’t just all about training. We had an amazing fun at the beach with our pals too!

Happy Monday.

Equipment that will make you a “Pro” Canicrosser or Bikejorer!

I have decided to write a post about equipment as there are a lot of posts on facebook where people are asking for what is the best!

I am not an expert but I have learnt a lot in last few months being involved in the sport. So here’s my experience and only my opinion (you don’t need to agree).

Canicross

Let’s start with canicross. As of yourself, you will need something comfy for running:

It is an easy choice for people as there are a lot of different running companies that sell the right gear, but when it comes to dogs gear that’s another story. When I started my adventures with canicross, I couldn’t find much or I found information that now I know they were misleading. A lot of companies are trying to say their equipment is right for running with dogs, but I have learnt that a lot of them are purely business and money orientated and know nothing about canicross, and not talking here about faster pace sports like bikejor or scooter.

Dogs equipment

I struggled to understand and find something that will be good for Roger. He has an unusual shape. So I made him run in his walking harness (what a stupid idea that was, note on that my own gear wasn’t good either). I have decided to buy my first equipment back in Poland. DC Grizzly belt for myself, manmat bungee line and Roger had his walking harness. We were very slow but we enjoyed the runs (as per photo above).

Eventually, I have learnt that it is very important to have the right equipment:

  • A dog can get injured, if harness is incorrect for pulling.
  • Dogs should be able to use their shoulders without any restrictions.
  • The harness shouldn’t be too high on their throats.
  • Bungee line has a different length for different sports.

So my first equipment was a wrong choice. My belt hurt my lower back. Now I use this belt for hiking and it is just perfect. My bungee lead was too long (bikejor line) and it was harder to work together as a team. Also, Roger harness made restrictions on his running style and choked him.

Right choice

I still struggled to find the right equipment. I thought I went in the right directions and ordered a customised harness for Roger. Well, once again wrong decision. I was close to giving up when I decided to go and ask for recommendations from folks who do the sport for years. They know the sport and they know what is right for the sport and why.

My old equipment ended up in a bag. Roger got his brand new harness from Dragratten. How surprised I was on our next run, his pull was stronger. I noticed that more often when he saw his harness he got super excited. Note from me: his harness was tight, it wasn’t loose, it worked really well with his running style.

I have changed my belt for the lightweight and it was sitting on my hips too. Amazing, no more pain in my lower back. Bungee line was a bit shorter and the whole experience of canicross has changed. We started to progress with our times and I could see it helped as to become stronger.

My younger dog got her pro harness straight away. She will probably grow up from it soon, but it is defo worth the money as she learns in the right equipment from the start. She was 10 months when she got her first proper sled dog harness. 

Why use a collar?

I decided to keep Roger as he pulls a lot during a walk in a harness, but it is a different one than his running. Laferra walks on the collar, which helps before races that I can keep her on the collar when she is trying to be mental. Also during training, it is handy with her to have the collar to cool her down or walk her to start point. When I am nearly starting running I clip her on harness so she knows she needs to pull.

Bikejor and scooter equipment

Ok with caniross you can make mistakes and learn from it, but when it comes to faster speed sports you better with the right equipment. So what do you need here:

  • MTB bike or scooter.
  • Helmet and gloves.
  • Bikejor/Scooter bungee lead (longer than canicross).
  • Dog harness.
  • Arm antenna to keep the lead away from wheels.

People ask why do you have arm antenna on your bike. Ok on the photo above you can see lead is a bit slack as Roger slowed down due to big stones and hill. Arm kept the line away from wheels so I didn’t have an accident. I tried bikejor and scootering without the arm and instead of having fun I was thinking about line and brakes all the time.

Once again a lot of money if you think, but again it changed the way we train and how much we enjoy all this. I use same arm antenna for my scooter.

Equipment is very important

I have learnt: it is all worth the money! The dogs love it more and you can really push your team at training and races.

There are a lot of companies who say they are great for canicross, but think twice. In last couple months, I have managed to stay injury free and my dogs got excited when they see harnesses.

Think twice about your dog health! Use the right equipment, ask experienced folks for advises! It changed my experience and I hope you will find the right path to the right equipment yourself!

I am not an expert but been to may races in UK, I watched and observed, I have learnt out of my own mistakes!.Be happy, enjoy your running with furry friends.

 

Good shop with equipment: https://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/

 

 

 

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.