By Langley Cornwell
When I was young, I used to love scavenger hunts. I think I was first introduced to hunts at Girl Scout Camp and from then on, I was hooked. I remember asking my parents to organize a scavenger hunt for my birthday party that year and the trend took off. Several of my friends followed suit, and we had loads of fun racing around gathering random things. Eventually we got too cool to run around the neighborhood gathering stuff, and the scavenger hunt craze fizzled out among my pals.
I had not given my scavenging days much thought until I ran across an article about Geocaching. According to The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Website, geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Players try to navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Players may then share their experiences with an online community of cachers. Currently, there are about 122,615 active caches in more than 210 countries.
Geocaching is a compound word including GEO for geography, and CACHING, which refers to the process of hiding a cache. This is not to be confused with cache in computer terms, which usually refers to information stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve. In this context, cache refers to a term that is also used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions. Geocaching containers are usually weather-resistant vessels holding a logbook along with an array of coins, plastic toys, key chains and other small items for trade.
By Tamara McRill
While a big backyard can be wonderful for excising our dogs, a lot of pet owners just don’t have that luxury. That’s something I learned when we downsized from two lots of running space to a teeny tiny yard.
Luckily, I was able to find several solutions that worked for us, as well as some that would also work for any pet owner who has more pent-up dog energy than grass square footage.
1. Leash Up and Head Out
It might be an obvious solution, but taking your dog to a place where they can exercise certainly solves the problem. If you don’t have access to a dog park or are unable to walk your dog for long distances, then consider a friend’s yard. We make use of a neighbor’s fenced-in backyard on occasion, so my Wuppy can get in some of the free running he’s used to.
2. Hire Help
Sometimes time is an added problem, along with little yard space. If you ever run into a situation where you just get too busy to take your dog out to walk or play, then consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a doggie daycare. That way, your dog gets all the exercise they need and deserve, and you don’t have to feel guilty about being so busy. Plus, you get to spend your spare time snuggling with your pet!
By Lisa Mason
Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to head outdoors with your dog! Going for walks and changing up the pace is a great way for both you and your four legged friend to get some exercise. However, there are lots of other ways you and your dog can get fit and have fun in the sun at the same time.
Dogs love to play fetch. You can throw a ball, a toy, a Frisbee or a stick and they will happily chase it down and bring it back to you. That’s great exercise for the dog, but you are just standing there waiting for him to come back. Change up the rules and race your dog to the object you throw. He will catch on pretty quickly and will run faster to beat you to the prize.
Build a “walk the plank” structure in your back yard. You will need four or more concrete blocks and a sturdy board (at least 6 feet long and 2 feet wide). Place the board on the concrete blocks spaced evenly. You don’t want the board to sag from you or your dog’s weight. Step up at the end and walk across the length and step down at the other end. Encourage your dog to do the same thing.
By Lisa Mason
Most pet parents are as proud of their four-legged kids as other parents are of their human offspring. Why shouldn’t a dog owner throw their little fur bundle of joy a huge birthday bash, complete with all of the finery that other birthday boys and girls get? There is no reason, and the idea of a dog’s birthday party is starting to become quite popular.
Your dog’s birthday “pawty” can be as small or as elaborate as you would like. If the birthday party is to be a small affair of just family members, it can be accomplished quite easily. Remember that your canine birthday boy or girl can’t eat a traditional birthday cake with all of that sugary frosting. You can easily find recipes online to make your pup a special cake, and there are also bakeries that specialize in dog-safe baked goods.
Wait to offer the birthday cake until after your dog has eaten her regular food. If you can convince your family, spread a blanket on the floor and have everyone sit in a circle. You will have no trouble getting your birthday dog to crowd into the center. You can sing Happy Birthday and then let each family member hand feed your dog a piece of his birthday cake. Your dog will be thrilled with all of the attention!
If you plan to invite guests to the birthday celebration, some dog bakeries have a party planner on staff that can handle the entire affair for you, but it may be out of your budget. You can still throw a wonderful birthday “pawty” for your dog and all his canine friends without breaking your budget.
It’s a sure bet that you have pictures of the dog on your computer. Use a photo to make simple invitations and send them to all of his canine pals. Don’t forget to mention whether or not you will be accepting gifts. It is a good idea to either say, “No gift is necessary” or “If you’d like to bring a gift, Fido prefers CANIDAE food and treats.”
By Langley Cornwell
Watching super dog-athletes at events like the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is inspiring. The K9 Frisbee Dog Entertainment blows me away every year. Likewise, when I watch videos of dogs like Wallace, Bling Bling, Torch, Shiloh and Gracie performing amazing Disc Dog feats, I’m blown away. The way the canine athletes look at their handlers with such concentration and pure trust says it all. These dogs are focused on doing exactly what their person tells them to. At the risk of sounding corny or completely nuts, the look those dogs give their humans communicates the kind of love that can only come from a dog.
We play a very rudimentary version of Frisbee with one of our dogs. Our dog loves to chase the disc but rarely catches it in the air. Even so, she brings it right back so we’ll throw it again. She is a fine athlete; she’s very agile and can jump amazingly high. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I would take the time to teach her, she could learn to be a fine backyard Disc Dog.
Because the name “Frisbee” is a registered trademark, the sport is officially known as Disc Dog. Opinions vary on the specifics of training your pup to be a Disc Dog. It’s like all dog training; there are multiple paths to the same goal. Generally speaking, this method seems to be the most common:
Use a disc specifically designed for dogs, because human Frisbees are not suitable for canine play.
Begin by introducing your dog to the disc. One of our dogs was interested in the toy immediately, but we had to take extra steps to entice our other dog. If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, make the disc desirable somehow. Recommendations include waving the disc temptingly while talking in an excited voice, giving your dog a treat (and/or a click if you’ve clicker trained him) when he touches it, smearing peanut butter on the edges of the disc or rubbing a hotdog around the rim. Some people report using the disc as a food bowl and allowing the dog to eat out of it.
By Tamara McRill
Do you have a dog that just loves burrowing through the snow? Don’t you just love those big doggy grins when they get to frolicking in the powder? I have three snow-loving pooches and, aside from making a dog snowman, playing in the snow is our favorite winter activity.
Of course, we certainly take safety precautions, and winter paw care is a must, but these snow games are easy to safely set up. Here are my dogs’ paws-down favorite five snow games:
1. Hide and Seek
Since dogs like to dig in the snow, give them something to find. Bury toys, sticks or even dog treats in the snow and ask your dog to find them. For dogs that aren’t good at seeking, you might have to tip them off on where to look. I like to up the excitement and competition by letting the dogs think I’m looking for their toy too.
You might want to avoid playing while snow is falling and accumulating though. That makes it harder to see where you buried stuff and you don’t want to have to wait until spring to uncover their favorite bone.
2. Snowball Catch
This is an excellent game for dogs who like to play catch and “kill” things. Pack a snowball, making sure there aren’t any ice chunks or rocks in the mix, and lightly toss it for your dog to catch. When they do, they will get the fun and satisfaction of chomping down and destroying the snowball.