Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Upper Shannon Falls hike

our hiking coach
Starting at the same parking lots as the popular "Chief" hike, Upper Shannon Falls is slightly longer, with similar views, but less busy and has in my opinion, a nicer trail to enjoy. I really enjoy this option during the Summer/Fall months when hoards of tourists descend to hike up the Chief. It's also better for the dogs when there are less crowds and more space to run. Details of the hike: 5 hours, 470m gain and 7.5km.
scouting ahead, but always checking back
I swear she knows she's posing for photos
it's a nice workout, but not difficult
We prefer to park at the Shannon Falls parking lot vs the Chief parking lot, because though it's a wee bit longer to walk, it has proper bathrooms and you also have a nicer view to start of Shannon Falls (the hike will lead to the top of the falls). The trail starts the same as the Chief with lots of stairs and people, but soon it turns off with a small sign and you are on your way- no more stairs!

little lion king
Such a nice sunny February day

The trail also passes under the new sea to sky gondola which today was closed, but for another day, you can keep going further to the gondola platform and take the gondola down (with the dog!).

under the gondola
Today though, we stopped at the look-out for a fantastic view of Howe Sound and Squamish where we enjoyed some tasty treats before heading down.


That's it? I didn't even break a sweat!
Not too shabby a view

Dog vs Cat (Whiskey vs Moo)

Getting a puppy and cat together

So within the span of a couple months I decided to rescue my cat, Moo, and fly home a puppy- Whiskey. I went from never having pets to being surrounded by fur. We purposefully picked up a cat-like dog (Vizslas are supposed to be cat-like) and dog-like cat (Moo was advertised as very dog-like in personality). Here are my personal perspectives on owning a dog vs a cat

dog-Whiskey

cat-Moo

Training

-both are equally trainable to DO something. Moo is crazy for food, just as much as Whiskey is so training them both was pretty easy. Both have great recall, sit, lie down, paw, roll over, and go where I point (up, down, etc). I just spend more time training Whiskey because it's more useful and she doesn't make you bleed when she is frustrated.

-it seems impossible to train my cat NOT to do something. With a dog, it's still difficult because you may not always be able to control the situation (ie, Whiskey barks when she is playing with other dogs) but Vizslas generally want to please you. On the other hand, my cat completely understands she's not allowed to do something, but doesn't really care about what you'd like. You need a strong enough incentive for her not to do something bad at ALL times, and we've so far not found that incentive yet (water spray, loud noises, scruffing, bitter taste, double sided tape, etc).
try to train a cat not to escape....
training recall on the long line

Ease of Toilet

-Cats are so much easier to potty train and you don't need to walk them outside in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain when they need to do their business. In most cases, cats come trained and kittens learn by copying mom. Of course, you still need to buy and clean litter in most cases (we are trying to train Moo to use the human toilet so we are past the litter stage), but it's generally easier than picking up dog poop and carrying it around until you see a garbage.
-It took about 3 months to fully housebreak Whiskey and we've trained her now to ring a bell, but when she needs to go in new situations or if we leave her for long periods of time, it's still sometimes tricky.
Moo using her toilet

Boarding

-Whiskey is actually easier to board, surprisingly. She's really sweet and will listen to others, recalling without issues and doesn't tend to rummage through and eat everything in sight

-Moo is only trained to me and people she knows (her recall is usually only to me) and she's so sneaky she's able to get everywhere she's not supposed to go (eg: the windowsills 30 floors up). She's also harder to deal with in terms of her getting into food on the counter and getting into drawers and shelves (so far the dog hasn't learned to open drawers yet). Also moving her to another location is more of a problem since cats are generally territorial, and won't immediately get along with other household pets like Whiskey does. Luckily we have amazing friends that will cat-sit Moo at our apartment and have learned to cat-proof any food.
She's been so easy to board

Health Issues

-Because Moo is an indoor cat, there are much less vet visits or digestion problems from eating stuff on the ground. Dogs get into everything, everywhere, so more vet bills but both have been really healthy so far.
-It is far easier to inspect and handle Whiskey.
An outdoor dog has more health problems

Claws/Nails

-We are getting better at trimming the nails of both animals as we do it weekly with really good snacks. Only Moo will draw blood and bite but we are making progress!

Food

-Both Whiskey and Moo love their food though Moo is less picky (she will happily eat anything from dog kibble, butter, raw anything, to slices of bread and chips). They will enthusiastically help clean pans and dishes and Moo regularly jumps into the fridge to approve of our groceries. Moo eats daintily while Whiskey inhales her food. Moo also steals Whiskey's Kongs and enjoys them just as much.
We trained Moo to tolerate Whiskey with lots of treats around the puppy
Moo stealing Whiskey's Kong

Cuddle factor

-Strangely my velcro dog doesn't normally cuddle unless we're in bed (prefers cave bed to couch) but if we force her to cuddle, she'll tolerate us
-Moo only cuddles on her time, when she wants, where she wants (even if you are sitting on the toilet, you may be informed it's cuddle time) though she also has the softest fur ever and never smells bad.
both are great sleeping buddies 
it can be slightly more uncomfortable with the dog on top

Grooming

-Whiskey is pretty clean for a dog but extremely smelly and dirty when compared to a cat
-Both will groom themselves but Moo has never had a bath (god help us if we need to), Whiskey gets a bath once a month when she starts to smell or has rolled in something foul
Moo is twice as soft


Exercise factor


-Contrary to what you may think, cats need you to exercise them too! Moo needs about 15mins daily compared to 2+ hours Whiskey needs. On the plus side, we can hike with Whiskey but Moo refuses to wear a collar or a leash so we can't take her outside.
-You can exercise Whiskey whenever is convenient, though Moo has her own schedule and may decide that midnight is time for Kung Fu practice.
playing together (ie, Whiskey trying to avoid getting hit)

Toys

-Whiskey plays with both cat and dog toys and regularly destroys them
-Moo will only play with feathers, string, boxes, and your newest package of food on the counter. She will also destroy them

Destruction level of home

-So far my socks and sheepskin slippers are now dog toys. Whereas all my wicker baskets, my cloth hampers, my bedframe, my blankets, my bathrug are all Moo's. All the curtains (bath and windows) as well as the leather couch have little claw marks from climbing training.
-Whiskey will relocate items around the home, while Moo just shreds them in displeasure
-Knitting is difficult!
both love to chase yarn
our bed is now theirs and require lots of washing

Friendliness

-Both will meet me at the door, but whereas Moo sees it as a chance to escape, Whiskey will give me a welcome like she's just won the lottery. There's really nothing like coming home to a Vizsla
-I think my cat just stays with me because I have the best treats. Whiskey actually likes me (and the treats).

Both rock our world!

Curiosity

-If a poor neighbour happens to have their door open at the moment we have our door open, both pets are likely to rush into their home and immediately start exploring. Both are quite fearless and love checking out what is going on in our bags but overall I would say Moo is more curious and thorough

And what is for dinner tonight?
Ultimately...

In conclusion, Whiskey is like my human daughter with floppy ears, a sweet personality, loves you to death, and totally dependent, while Moo is like a cranky elderly roomate who yells at you to feed her, has a taste of everything you eat, is totally up in your business, but is also really sweet once in awhile.
 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hope, Hikes, and Ticks

The past long weekend we decided to take a cheap, dog-friendy vacation to Hope for some hiking. We managed to be lucky enough to have one dry day between the crazy rainfall and got in a couple hikes.

The view of the town of Hope
playing in the forest
posing in the forest

The town of Hope

Famous for the film location of the first Rambo, we did our research by watching First Blood with Whiskey in bed. We stayed in a beautiful AirBnB suite with a really comfortable bed and friendly family and had a blast. Hope is a pretty small town and we didn't really meet any tourists out.

the roads around Hope are beautiful, even in the rain

Mt Hope hike 800m+(incline)10km

The first day we set out early to conquer Mt. Hope, a 6+ hour hike. Unfortunately, Hope recently had a bad ice storm that damaged a ton of trees around the area. The logging road to the start of the hike was hopelessly blocked but we tried to get through anyway to see if it was just a small section (it wasn't) and found the extent of damage was pretty incredible. This was the ultimate agility course for Whiskey and she was super quick to jump over, climb on top of, crawl under, and find her way though all the downed trees. She didn't understand why the humans had so much trouble.

road is blocked!
yeah...not the easiest to get through
she gets through this mess like a wiggly snake -no problem
ok, time to try something else

Boston Bar Trail

Next we made a random stop on the highway and found a small section of the Boston Bar Trail. Named after the Americans that had found gold on the Fraser, this is a really old trail that dates back to the 1850s. Now used by ATVs, there was no one out so we just strolled on through, throwing sticks and taking pictures.

not too shabby a stroll
weeee! happy dog
little waterfalls everywhere with melting snow and rainfall 
Whiskey on the rocks
chasing sticks
a man and his dog
posing for treats

Hope Lookout Trail (470m, 2.7km one way)

Coming back to town, we next did the Hope Lookout trail, "the Grouse Grind of Hope". It certainly was a grind and a good workout but with more variation in scenery than the Vancouver one, and much much less crowded. The finish wasn't at the top of the mountain, but had a cute bench and a nice view of the city.

we have a pointer
common slowpokes!
mid hike hugs
hurry up humans!
evidence from the icestorm
up up up
mossy monkey arms
Lion King moment
chasing sticks up the mountain
view from the top
our little mountain goat in her element

Mt Lincoln (580m, 2.5km one way)

Another short-ish hike because, hey, it's the long weekend and we wanted to sleep in a bit. We were the only ones on this hike which starts right off the highway. There's no precursor- it's just up up up and there are some scrambling parts as well with ropes to help out. The top has quite a bit of ice storm damage but the trail was really easy to follow. I would say that this might not be dog-friendly to small or old dogs because of the incline but any athletic dog would be fine (Whiskey was chasing sticks up and down like it was nothing). Also, since it was a rainy day, I would suggest to make sure you have good traction shoes for this hike. We had the most fun on this one, but be warned- we found ticks!!

the trail starts up right away
in lumpy moss land
we gain height quickly
taking a breather
she really doesn't understand why we are always so slow
a quick peek
a couple ropes to help
Whiskey sits on my lap in the middle of a scramble
top top top!
waiting for me to finish the ropes
This is one gorgeous hike
she races up and down this mountain
until next time

Ticks

Oh gross oh gross oh gross. I'm not really good with bugs and was really happy to have someone else pull these buggers out. They can grow to enormous sizes and carry some serious diseases (rare) so make sure you check your dog if a hike is known to have ticks. We found 2 well hidden behind Whiskey's ears and killed them in alcohol (flushing them down does not kill them).

a tick embedded at the back of her ear (6 hours)

one dead tick, one headless tick GROSS