Thursday, January 27, 2011


MAXMOM here...
Hello there to all our fur-buddies around the world.

I thought I'd show you a few pictures of Toby's interaction with
(Miss "R"s hamster)
The poor little creature was rather nervous with all the big black noses around, but the poochies were on their best behaviour and exibited all the Golden gentleness they could muster.

And now for a picture (taken by my friend "Margie") of Toby and myself, from this past Sunday's Open Breed show. Since I was doing the 'showing', photographs were limited.
Thank you Margie.
Without you, I would not have had such a picture!


Toby's training is progressing nicely. In the next couple of weeks I'll be concentrating on reinforcing his basic obedience commands but, most importantly, exposing him to as many 'new' situations and environments as possible.  I am also trying to teach him the "AWAY" command at the moment. 

The increased number of short obedience sessions which I am spending with him has fuelled his general alertness.  I am sure that he is fully aware that something is up and that there are new things to learn.  He willingly stays by my side constantly and when I pick up the car keys, he's ready for action.

This morning we had a real breakthrough with the
"AWAY!" command.

For the first time during one of our mini-practice sessions, Toby recognised the link between his reward and the little blue mat on which we have been practicing this command.  My heart lept for joy as he bounded to the mat on my command and sat on it without too much prompting.  This might sound a small feat, but it is pivotal to getting him to eventualy go onto stage on his own in one scene. 

I have spent 4 days practicing this command with him and he's already getting it.  I am thrilled.
I hope that by the practice session this afternoon he hasn't forgotten it....we'll see.

I took Toby on another short school visit this morning.  The ambience around the school was one of applied studiousness.

The children were in their classrooms having their lessons when we arrived, so it was much quieter than yesterday's swimming gala.  We strolled around the school, up the steps, down the steps, practicing his 'sits', 'downs' and 'stays'.  Occasionally we stopped to greet teachers and explain why we were there. Music was billowing from the music room at the time and there were lots of unfamiliar noises for Toby. 

This is his second visit (after yesterday) and he has been very comfortable so far.  He's curious yes, but he's well behaved and very gentle with the children.  Tomorrow we'll be at the school again where we will attend a 'Music Class' with the music teacher and her students.  It should be interesting to see his reaction to all the instruments as well as the sealed off music room.

This evening we go back to McKaynine Training Centre for his weekly obedience class.

The countdown clock says:
118 Days to "ANNIE"!

Sending lotsaluv to you all

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


MAXMOM here...

After getting permission from the principal at our local primary school, Toby and I set off to go on his first school visit and to walk around and interact with the childen on the premises. On arrival we discovered that their annual inter-house swimming gala was in progress.

Toby was about to experience a ‘baptism of fire’. Indeed this was the perfect opportunity to ‘test’ my young Golden pup and to assess his response to the noise and the very hyped–up environment. I personally felt a twinge of nervousness. I had no idea how Toby would react!

I parked the car in the busy street, grabbed my bag and opened up the back for Toby to jump out and join me. I’ve taught him already to wait for my instruction before he ventures out of the car. Whenever we travel to new venues like this, it is interesting to watch Toby’s momentary confusion at the moment I open the boot.
 “Where am I? What’s this, Mom?” he seems to say.

Soon, he is his tail-wagging self and on my command, hops out of the car.

Another habit of his is to give two distinctive barks of greeting/announcement as I close the door of the boot.
“Yep, I’m here! I’m ready! What are we doing today, Mom?”
Our arrival coincided with the exit of some of the first graders from the main gate at the school. They’d obviously been the first to swim their races in the gala and were allowed to be collected by their parents. The street was therefore full of these little ones and Toby and I weren’t given half a chance before some of them descended upon us. My old experiences of training Maxdog in similar environments proved very valuable. This was the moment of Toby’s test...

A little girl by the name of “Tegan” was one of the first on the scene with her mother. “Can I touch the doggie?”she asked excitedly.

If you have any problems seeing this video, you can view it by clicking


I’ve learned through these interactions with children that it is wise to put a dog in a ‘down stay’ position and only allow the child to interact with the dog when the dog itself is settled. Toby dropped to the floor obediently and I then allowed their interaction to happen naturally. One has always got to be cautious with children and animals (for the various obvious reasons). This was no different today as this was be one of Toby's first serious interactions with children.

“Tegan” was euphoric. Her mother told me that they didn’t have a dog at home. I must say, I was inwardly tearful as I watched the two of them interact. Toby is a natural! It is more than obvious that he is going to adore children! I hesitate to say this, but he is even better than Maxdog was at this stage of his young life. He’s gentle and aware of my commands whilst interacting with them. You will notice all this on the video of him and Tegan.

After meeting Tegan, we ventured down to the swimming pool itself. The gala was in full progress.
It was extremely noisy – Loud announcements were coming over the public address system, there were shots being fired by the starter gun, children screaming, singing and cheering. There were hundreds of people milling around. Toby was often surrounded by children who hugged him, patted him and asked me endless questions.

We stayed at the school for about an hour. Toby was extremely comfortable with all the goings on around him.  Quite frankly, he was having the time of his life! I’ve learned over the years that  one must be conscious of the length of time which you are requiring your dog to 'work' and should restrict it to under one hour - especially when it's their first experience. When the hour was over, I made a point of retreating fast. This we did and Toby left with a positive experience overall. We came home for a fun game of fetch in our own swimming pool

All in all, I am truly delighted with Toby's response to his first school visit.  I reel reassured that our task in training him up for "ANNIE" is well within our reach.
And I mustn't forget to say a special “THANK YOU” to “TEGAN” for helping Toby with his first steps on this journey.
We have 119 days to go.
Sending lotsaluv to you all,


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


MAXMOM (and TOBY) here...
Hello there everyone...

 I have a lot to tell you today...


Toby turned six months old yesterday...a good time to start an important countdown clock towards his debut in a musical stage production.  You see, as of today, 25th January 2011, we have exactly...
120 DAYS TO GO!!!

Well, as you know, Toby has been invited to train up towards taking the role of 'Sandy' in a local high school musical production of

There are four concert nights and they are from the 25-28th May 2011.

Only 120 days and plenty of work to do if we are going to be ready on time!!!

During these 120 days, I hope to share this journey with you.  It's a journey of hard work, dedication, patience, perserverence and wisdom .  The 'wisdom part' is to know the goal, but to ALWAYS do the right thing for my dog! 

We will need support, any offered prayers and also a bit of 'luck' in this journey. There are many things that can go wrong.  Afterall, dogs aren't machines - they are live companions with special abilities and needs.  Anything can happen along the way - illness, inadequate progress, fatigue, etc, etc...
Ultimately my priority is TOBY and for us to HAVE FUN!!!

"What's in it for me?" I might ask.

Well, it's the opportunity to do some solid training with my special Toby.  It's also the opportunity to receive instruction from the excellent and well credited instructors from MCKAYNINE TRAINING CENTRE, at a time when Toby is at his most impressionable.  Remember, he will only be 10 months old at the time it all goes to stage. It's also an opportunity to bond with my dog in a truly qualitative manner - earning his trust, embracing his talents, being patient with his flaws.  It's an opportunity for my own personal growth too - since we can learn so much from our animals.

In all this fanfare, it's important to remember: I am an ordinary dog owner, with an understanding of basic obedience training. I do,however, offer absolute committment towards my dog and the goal ahead of us.  Toby is a young dog and this is a lot to ask of a dog so who is only six months old at the moment...

But nothing happens unless one puts one's mind to it.  It's simple....

So...I am going to share this road with you - pitfalls and all!

Hold thumbs for us!

I thought I'd start off by telling you how exactly he's involved:


Here are the snippets from the various scenes where Toby will be involved
 (as sent to me):


Scene 2: Annie calls dog to come and gives him a snack; he sits with her as she sings a song; she then calls him by name and he responds by coming to her; they walk off stage together.

Scene 3: Annie and Sandy enter; he sits/stands with her throughout the scene; he eats some "broth from a pot of stew"; she shoos him off stage.

Scene 6: Sandy wanders on stage alone, stops center and sits, then trudges off again.


Scene 6: Sandy is delivered in a big box as a Christmas present to Annie and all the orphans are delighted.


Yesterday we had our first meeting with the trainers. 
We arrived at the training centre around midday and since we were waiting for the trainer, Toby was allowed "free" off leash,  to explore the extensive grounds. 

There are donkeys, chickens, sheep and kennelled dogs around the grounds, so he had a lot to absorb.  He ran around with abandonment and delight at his newfound freedom. 

Yes, he barked in exuberance and got himself pretty worked up - partly out of uncertainty - since this is not something I usually do with him.

But Toby soon settled down and then my friend, "Lorraine" and I shared a game with him - we got him running between her and I: "Recalls" both ways if you like.  I need him to become aware of who is in his environment and where I fit into the picture.

After lengthy discussions with the trainer, we decided to start off teaching Toby to 'target sit'.  We feel that, at the moment, the biggest challenge for Toby (besides the proofing of the actual set/stage/venue/event) will be 'scene six'.  During this scene, I believe Toby will be alone on stage. 

In order to accomplish this, the behaviour required is broken down into small training blocks.  This week, I'll be concentrating on an 'AWAY command - using a small blue mat as the target.  With sufficient treats on hand, Toby is encouged to veer towards the mat and 'SIT'.  If he is in a sitting position (with any part of his body touching the mat) he is rewarded. 

We are only allowed to repeat the particular exercise 8 times daily - 4 in the morning and 4 in the evening.  The distance at the moment is small - about 2 meters.  This will be extended as he progresses. At the moment he has no clue what I am requesting.  He is still totally focussed on me and is not yet aware of the blue mat.  We have a VERY long way to go...he will have to do this alone eventually. 

Each time we practice this exercise, the position and area where the mat is place will be changed.

Toby and I will be attending our 'regular' obedience classes on a Thursday evening as well as 'formalised' training for "Annie" on a Monday.  During the weeks ahead I will be taking him to various venues to get him accustomed to different things.  Our local primary school has graciously agreed to allow us full access to all their activities too.

My friend, 'Lorraine' has offered to be my training companion during these 120 days.  She is an experience puppy walker and has a wonderful understanding and compassion for Toby.  Hopefully she'll help me take a few pictures along the way.  Since I'll be focussed on Toby, photographs may become difficult. Thank you, Lorraine for your encouragement and support!

So there it is.  There is the goal. One step at a time.
Let's all have fun with this journey!

I would like, in advance, to thank my readers for your encouragement.  I'm going to need you along the way.  There are sure to be some tough days.  I will do my best to keep you updated.

Sending lotsaluv

Monday, January 24, 2011


Hello there everybody!
TOBY here...
TOBY here!...

Maxmom has been so busy in the chatroom recently , so she said I could write today's post.

Well, yesterday was a very fun day.
In the morning Maxmom and the "Boss" packed some things into the car and then asked me to get in the boot.  I wasn't sure what was up because she'd given me a bath the day before and had groomed me endlessly (I love being groomed!).  But we were obviously going on an outing!

They left poor 'Aunt Tam' at home and then took me driving.  I got to stare out the window at all the strange cars going by.  It had been raining, so I discovered what it is like to steam up a window...Initially I thought the whole world had changed and did some barking in the car, but then they turned up the airconditioning and assured me that all would be okay.

Well, when they finally opened up the boot to let me out, there was indeed a whole new world out there.  BOL!...So many little time! I was very excited indeed and did a fair bit of barking myself.  But it didn't take me long to realise that I was in for a fun day.

Maxmom told me that this was an OPEN BREED SHOW and that we were here to meet our golden family and to have fun! 

Soon I was in their midst...I was really comfortable with my family. Most of them looked like both me and Maxdog  AND most of them were from
(Call it a family meet-up if you like)    
 I got to meet my sister, my dad and also some extended family.
(Above is my sister...Chelsea)

I also got to meet some other doggies who Maxmom told me were NOT my family. 
 But hey, family is family and ALL doggies are my family!  I really enjoyed playing with the little sausages. 

There were a few puppy 'cocktail sausage doggies' around too.  One even came to lie down, on her back, underneath my snout so that I could tell her some lovely comforting stories.  I was really very gentle with her.  I think I love ALL doggies and am very comfortable with every single type.  Maxmom is very pleased with me that way!

Maxmom and the Boss set up an umbrella, put out my water and settled down in comfortable camping chairs while I lay at their feet. Sometimes Maxmom couldn't resist tickling my tummy.

We sat around watching all the doggies for a while and then Maxmom grabbed my leash.
"Your turn, Toby!"
I wasn't sure what she meant, but hey fun is fun!
(In the show ring)

Soon Maxmom and I were parading around the show ring. Sometimes she made me run and sometimes she gave my 'show' command where I have to stand really still.

There was a strange man watching us. He came over to examine my teeth:

I didn't really fancy that, but I did keep my feet on the ground and I did remain standing.  Then he blatantly examined my family jewels...eish!
(Can you believe it?!)

He felt me all over and all the time Maxmom was saying "Good Boy, Toby!"

I got some nice treats during the whole process, so I'm not complaining.

But geesh, it was hot and by the time I got home all I wanted to do was swim and play with Aunt Tam. 

I slept very well last evening.



Toby's first 'open show' went very well.  He was nicely behaved and stood very nicely during his bout in the ring. He enjoyed himself thoroughly too - constantly showing his happy, tail-wagging self.  It was a small show, so don't go getting excited because it wasn't very well attended at his 'Best puppy in Group' status doesn't really mean a lot.  Added to this, there were only two competitors in the ring, Toby and his sister.  LOL!

Anyway I must be honest, 'showing' is most definitely NOT my personal arena of pleasure!  I would prefer to do something where the relationship between dog and owner is given credit.  Either way, we had fun and Toby gained some 'crowd' experience...all good for his overall training.

Sending lotsaluv to you all

Sunday, January 23, 2011


MAXMOM here...
("There's someone at the gate, Mom!")

Hello there everyone.
It's Sunday, so I thought I'd invite you into my garden...
(Resident Masked Weaver bird)
(Resident Rameron Pigeon)
(Toby cooling his feet off in the pool)
(Gooseberries arriving out of 'nowhere')
(Feather cleaning time)
(My mint is growing prolifically!)
(A turtleneck dove flies off after a drink of water)
(Weaver and his nest)
(Toffee...the KING of the garden!)
(Fruiting bushes)
(Yes, we have grasshoppers too! This one arrived on my pillow at sunrise)
(And bees!)
(More feather cleaning time)
There is nothing more tranquil and rejuvenating than a garden!
For this reason I have created a chatroom for us...
...our own 'garden' of companionship.
Those of us who have visited already have been uplifted enormously.
Please come along.
Just click
Remember...the password is

Sending lotsaluv to you all...