Thursday, February 24, 2011


MAXMOM here...

When the producer of “Annie” mentioned that they planned to bring Toby onto stage ‘in a box’ as a Christmas present for ‘Annie’, I cringed.  How was I to help Toby learn to overcome his crate-phobia in the short time left before the curtains rise? How am I to do this when I don’t even a crate at home?  I thought it would be an impossible feat. 

This morning his expression pleads:
 “Is this crate here to stay, Maxmom?”
Our trainer managed to unearthed a crate somewhere and we brought it home yesterday. After giving it a nice wash, I set it up in my kitchen. Toby’s bedding was inserted and I tentatively hid the first treat in the hope that Toby would fall for my trick. No problem. He was in the crate in no time: firmly settled and staring at me with his big, brown eyes. In a matter of minutes my reservations had been obliterated.

Seems like I'll have to save up for one of his own.


Garden time is a dog’s favourite. 
"King Toffee" waltzes along the perimeter on a constant mission to be the first to notice intruders – be they large or microscopic. All need to be eradicated! Hadedah Ibises are a particular irritant to him as they languidly stroll along the edge of our neighbours’ roofing.  He quickly whips his larger siblings up into a barking frenzy.  I have no option but to leave the keyboard and put a stop to it. I grab my camera too.
Toby’s love for jumping into the swimming pool is growing daily.
Today my mock throw saw him leaping with abandon, frantically sticking his head under water in a desperate attempt to find the elusive object. Was it all a dream? After blowing many bubbles he discovered that his dumbbell was still in my hand. I wasn’t very popular.
He was out of the pool in a wiz and then forced me into throwing the real object at least 10 times more. Perhaps we’ll have to think about lengthening our pool someday because he’s nearly jumping all the way across! (Only kidding!)

The perfect picture of Toby’s pool diving still eludes me. If I could divide myself into two I might have the chance at that picture, but it’s hard to take photographs whilst getting Toby to “WAIT” for his dumbbell to be thrown.  All of this has to happen simultaneously.
Any volunteer photographers?

There’s been a noticeable drop in the night time temperature recently.  Obviously winter is just around the corner. 

Toby, you’d better enjoy your swimming while you can!
Oh yes...and
 "Happy 7 months old, my boy!!!
Sending lotsaluv to you all,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


MAXMOM reporting...

As most of you know, Toby is (hopefully) going to be taking part in the production of “Annie” which is to be staged in May this year.
Last night I took Toby on yet another school visit to spend time with the cast. At the moment the venue is still on the school’s premises but will be moved to the main theatre closer to the time.
(Practicing the "AWAY" command)

The purpose of Toby’s participation at the moment is simply to get him accustomed to the children, the environment and the many distractions. He receives a lot of training during the week, but it is the proofing of his commands that is most important for the production itself.

Training a dog is hard work at the best of times. It can be energy sapping too and I admit that I often feel the fatigue. Each day is different and brings unique challenges. Yesterday Toby was phased by table-tennis balls and motor-bikes. Last week it was the white statuettes in the school’s court yard.

("It's okay Toby, they are only playing Table tennis! 
There's no need to try to catch the balls!")

Sometimes I feel that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this with a dog so young. Toby is only 7 months old. Like all teenagers, he is energetic and exuberant and often gets distracted from his “focus” exercises. Last night I battled to keep his attention and his recalls were far from satisfactory. He was too excited for my liking.

What keeps me going with this goal is this amazing opportunity it presents – both for Toby as well as for me. In my case it’s an opportunity to work with a truly amazing trainer:
and the chance to be exposed to what is required when training an animal for a special stage production. In Toby’s case it is the opportunity to have some fun, to receive specialised wrangling training and to be exposed to environments which dogs normally don’t get. It’s a time when he is most impressionable and I am hoping this will be an advantage in the long-run.

The bonus in this whole exercise is that Toby is one of the most affable dogs I have ever met! He ADORES people, other animals and new environments.
(Some of the cast members getting to know Toby)

His exuberance is contagious and uninhibited.
("Yes, I want to hug you too!")

My problem is learning to control him at these times...and it’s difficult.
("Look at me, Toby!"

Last night I would say he was ‘half a hooligan...but still very sweet’. Although he did okay overall, his responses to my commands seemed half-hearted. What he really wanted to do was romp and play with all these young people. From an outsider’s point of view, I suppose this didn’t look out of the ordinary – he is simply a dog having fun. But from my own point of view, I feel uneasy about us successfully grooming him up "in time" for this event. Is his youth going to be his drawback? I know the importance of this event to the school and I am not one to give up once I have made a commitment, but his exuberance is still of concern to me.
(Breaking the "Down Stay!")

Objectively, I think that last night’s progress was on track. Toby had his first experience with being “on stage” and in the company of cast members who were practicing their lines.
("Yes, the audience will be 'down there', Toby!")

He got to meet “Annie” personally and I was delighted that he is able to respond to her own command for him to ‘Bow ‘. ( I have taught him this trick so that he can bow with the cast during the final curtain call)
(I'm showing "Annie" how to give the 'BOW!'command to Toby)

("Annie" does it herself..."GOOD BOY, TOBY!")

His ‘send- aways’ were very good but his ‘stays’ were dreadful...oh dear!
Also, the floors where they are currently rehearsing are extremely slippery at the moment and Toby ends up slipping and sliding during his exuberance.
(Practicing his "BOW!" on stage)

This concerns me because I know that he is a growing dog and his joints are always vulnerable. I am not sure what can be done about this problem yet.
(Getting a special ear-rub from the Dancing instructor)

Good news is that we have managed to procure a crate. Hopefully I will have it in my house by Friday this week and I can start crate training. I know this is an easy thing for many people but we’ll see how Toby responds. All dogs are different.
("Come Toby, let's have a break...Let's PLAY!")

At home Toby is vital and sweet. His affinity for searching through dustbins is most frustrating and last night his prize was a bath-plug.
( It’s now on my shopping list!)
Tissues too are converted into chewing gum... The joys of a growing pup!

This is all such a big challenge for me. I can only hope that things will progress smoothly and that Toby’s exuberance settles and his presence in the “Annie” production is ultimately a credit to everybody involved.


Finally I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with all those folk in Christchurch, New Zealand, after yet another devastating earthquake. What a blow it has been – not only for their city, but for the people who have lost their lives and the families which they leave behind. It’s a worrying time for everybody. A whole wave of South African love is coming your way!

Sending lotsaluv

Sunday, February 20, 2011


TOBY here...

Hey's me...

It was another beautiful, sunny day and another opportunity to go and meet up with my Golden buddies today.  This time it was the
'Gundog Open Show'
at Goldfields Kennel Club in Johannesburg, South Africa.


I am sure none of you will mind if I dedicate today's post to my Golden buddies.  I know there are other 'gundog' breeds, but today is mainly about us Golden Retrievers.

When we arrived there, Maxmom handed me over to my new hero -
 - who was my handler today. 
(Thank you Donovan, for getting me into line!)

So Maxmom handed me over and then she went off to take photographs of some of the beautiful pooches at the show.

She said I can show you what some of my buddies look like.
So, get all your treats together and some nice drinkies and enjoy my own special little 'show':

Firstly, the "BEST IN OUR BREED" for today:

Margaret McAra with her beautiful

(Kelly is a 9yr old veteran Golden and has been a champion for many years)
Congratulations to Kelly and Margaret!

There were many dogs at the show including some pretty "labradorks" (above) who tried to take over my photograph...don't get confused now, I am the one behind...yes, Maxmom is focussed on me!

There were some beautiful Springer Spaniels (below)...

There were also household buddies who had to come along for the ride (below)...
they loved being in their crate together.
There were Pointers...who really run like the wind!
...and there were a whole lot of other gundogs.

Of course, Maxmom and I were mainly interested in my breed.

This is MY DAD -"FLANAGAN" (above) and guess what,
his handler is also DONOVAN. 
This means that I now have to call Donovan....
(but he's still my hero!)

There was a beautiful male golden -
 who Maxmom thought was maxnificent!...

Above:  Margaret McAra with her beautiful boy

 Then there was 'SUE' with beautiful
Sebastian was the "top Golden Retriever" in South Africa last year.
That is quite impressive!

Above: The Oldest Golden Retriever at the show today. 
He got the "Best Veteran" award and his name is:
He's had many years in the show ring already and is a made up champion too.

Above: My hero - Donovan - took charge of the sweet girl
She is about 17 months old now and this was her first time in the show ring.

 Then Sue showed off her girl -
remember - she is the house-buddy of the border collie
in the photograph above.

Above: Then there was Steve with
She is the same age as me...a very sweet girl indeed!

Above: Here's Donovan showing off my moves.
"Run Granpa Run!"

And here he's telling me to "Shhhhhh...!" (above) so the judge can feel me up...

Suddenly I found myself in the line up for the judging of the
(There were three other beautiful doggies that Maxmom unfortunately couldn't get in the photograph - she's very sorry about this),
 but can you see me...?
I am the one that the judge is examining above.

Maxmom says that I must show you the beautiful flowers on the judge's table with their unique vase...

And finally, here's me (below):

with my hero...
"Thank you, Grandpa for showing me off!
I luvs you!"

I want to congratulate ALL the doggies who were at the show today.
Maxmom says that you should ALL win top honours -
simply for being wonderful and beautiful doggies!

Thank you to ZENA and ALAN at
for your continuous support and encouragement!

Sending lotsalicks to you all,

Friday, February 18, 2011


TOBY here...

Hello there every-furry-buddy!
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to all of you who commented yesterday and explained the true meaning of 'brain fart' to me.  Maxmom says she had a good laugh...thank you! You guys were great - apparently very revealing too, BOL!  Even my trainer popped by my blog to explain my "Mardi Gras brain fart" to me! mmmm...

Well I was determined to show my real style at my obedience class last night.
I couldn't wait to get there, so I stuck my head through the back seat of the car. 

 Cool hey?

I was ready and waiting for whatever Maxmom asked. 
(I was very careful not to 'Brain Fart' again.)
I had to show off my 'Heel' command...

and my trainer did a long watch-check on my 'Stay' command...

(Look how dark it was getting.)
...and I got to look at 'Molly', my very sweet little class-mate...

So all-in-all Maxmom was pleased with me.  No 'brain farts' at training last night!

Maxmom was so pleased with me that she took me to visit my very special labradork-friend,
 who is training to be a guide dog.  We got to REALLY romp and play today.

Asta has grown so much!
Here's a close up of her from September 2010...

and this is what she looks like now...

Of course we had to check out who is the boss,
At first Asta thought she was the boss...

and then I had a turn....

Then we decided we'd both be boss...

We soon decided that it was time to PLAY!
At first we played round and round the bushes - like lunatics...

Then we swam in the pool, taking great care to shake ourselves off VERY close to the humans. 

 Humans are so funny when they get wet, but we don't mind at all!

I got to sit with Asta...

and then I got to show her how I jump into the pool...

She showed me quite a few of her own tricks too - like picking up objects from the ground for her mom.  She's pretty clever you know!

Anyway we had a wonderful time  and we finished off the visit by playing a really good game of tug.

Thank you ASTA for the fun play session!
So all in all, it seems that I am back to my normal, 'Sweet-Hooligan' self.

What's next, Maxmom?

Sending lotsalicks to you all...
and a special thanks to all my trainers at
McKaynine Training Centre.

for being so patient and kind to me!

Oh yes and remember:
Money CAN buy a beautiful dog - but it CAN'T buy the wag of its tail!!!
I love you all!