Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Since the dawn of time ... or at least midmorning, after everyone's had some breaky and maybe a power nap ... Man has dreamed of flying

So, apparently, have dogs.

Yeh, OK so perhaps I should explain.

This past weekend Collette and I took our cameras to the Redpath Waterfront Festival. This was a (mostly) free event, sponsored by Redpath Sugar, that sprawled along Toronto's western downtown waterfront, or at least the condo-and-industrial-with-a-few-trees blister that passes as our waterfront in that area.

We went down to watch two competitive sports that encouraged living creatures to attempt flight, before artfully plunging into water

Dock Diving is a sport you may have seen on TV. It's a canine sport, where dogs fly off of a dock as high and far as possible before diving into the water in pursuit of a floating "bait" The sides of the tank into which the dogs dive are ruled with the length and high speed cameras catch the moments the dog actually impacts the water, providing an accurate reading.

As in most canine sports the humans assess the winners and losers, the dogs just have fun

This is an actual sport, these were North American qualifiers with dogs from all over the continent, points are rewarded for the distance dived but seeing it up and close and personal, you have to give the pooches style points

If dogs, in their pursuit of flight, use their ancient instincts and natural athletic ability, Man of course, has to go a bit beyond. That's because we have the ability to utilize technology and, let's be honest, we're just nuts

Flyboarding is a sport that is half jetpack, half jetski, half skateboarding, half acrobatics and half wakeboard. Yeh, that's a lot of halves.

The athlete uses a board that is attached by a long hose to a jetski. The jetski's engine forces the water up through the hose and propels it out through the boots that the guy wears, bolted to the board. That gives him enough propulsion to achieve heights up to 15 meters

The rider controls the jetski so often there was no one operating the craft, they can move around the performance area with the seadoo following them, all on their own

As in skateboarding and wakeboarding there are prescibed moves the athlete can perform and they are judged on how well they do those. Never having watched this sport before I couldn't judge how good these guys were but the fact that could could even "stand" on those columns of water impressed the crap out of me

Some of their moves made sense once you saw them, like the slalom which you'll see in the video; dolphing was impressive, the rider pushed himself up in the air, arched his back, dove into the water, went completely under the surface then blasted back up into the air. They could chain several of these movements together which made them skilled and brave .. that's Lake Ontario they are going into

Even more amazing is the ability of the riders to use their jets of water to spin completely in mid air, the really talented guys could complete two or three of these somersaults. These guys are athletes make no mistake about that

After our winter it was great to be out in the sun, on the water, watching dogs and humans fly .. and did I mention there was a beer garden? Yeh, you probably figured out that much.

Here's the video

Redpath Waterfront Festival from Victor Kellar on Vimeo

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


God, we are nuts about our dogs

You could say we are stupid about our dogs and I wouldn't exactly disagree. North Americans spend billions of dollars on our dogs, from overpaying for them at a breeder, to allowing vets to tell us that a biweekly "wellness" test really will add 100 years to our dog's life, to buying it Organic Naturally Caught And We Cried On the Salmon's Spirit dog food, to buying the dog the absolute latest in squeaky-flying-floating-spinning-smellsjustlikeasquirrel toy .. And yes, there is a pretty full doggie toy box in my house

We love our dogs. We want them to be happy. But sometimes I think that we want so much, we've forgotten about what they need.

I spend a lot of time in dog parks and not just the one I'm paid to spend time in. I mean public dog parks. I've written about them before, probably ad nauseum.

Our new house has put us in proximity to Earl Bales Park which has a large fenced in public dog park. It occurred to me that all of dogs, Gigs Hayley and now Terra, have enjoyed this park for some part of their lives.

These parks have their place and their purpose. They are a good place for dogs to gather and for dogs to socialize. Society is important to dogs ... I often see Miss Terra in the yard, on her lounger, sipping green tea and purusing the New York Times Society Pages ... Ok, that's an exaggeration of course. She reads the Yarker Times. It only takes 2 seconds to read and it is completely appropriate to pee upon when you're done

But dogs being able to be dogs in the society of other dogs, that is a very positive thing. Though we often ignore things like age and gender and alpha/dom status as we toss all the dogs in there and wonder why things get sometimes .. wait for it .. hairy

Dogs need to communicate with other dogs in the ways that only dogs can. As much as we love them and as much as they us right back, us sniffing their butts .. well .. it's just a bit creepy. Yeh, just a bit.

But dogs do need to socialize with us, dogs need to be with us, dogs need to play with us. Play. With. Us.

People run with their dogs, cycle with their dogs, hike with their dogs, swim with their dogs ... these are all great. All dogs need exercise and they want to be with us so why not combine the two

But what about playing with your dog. Just playing with her. A ball, a stick, a frisbee, a stuffie, a rope .. I'm not one for playing tug of war with my border collies but I don't universally condemn it; it's a dog game and I leave dog games to dogs, hence the dog parks

Play provides your dog with exercise but that's not the strength of it, like the co operative play with other dogs, the dog wants to play with you two. And if you play the games where you are in charge, as in let me throw this now you bring it back to me, you establish your dominance in a very co operative way.

Some people and their dogs do canine sports, like competitive frisbee or flyball or agility. These are great. I do a little of that with Terra but just on our own in the backyard. This establishes such a deep lovely bond with your dog and, again, while you are playing, your roles are clearly defined.

Dogs like to have these roles defined

Not everyone has the time or temperment to do an organized sport and that goes for people as well as dog. Terra certainly could participate in organized sport but then I'd have to be around all those people .. ugh

Watching these sports on TV can seem imtimidating. I watch some real experienced dog trainers and feel Hell, I can never do that. I also watch some dog trainers and think Hell, anyone can do that ..

Don't worry about that. Anyone can play with their dog.

 Take her to the dog park, take her on nice long leashed walks but don't forget to play with her. Do whatever works for the two of you, don't worry if "you're good at it" don't be concerned how far you can throw the stick or the frisbee or the ball. Just throw the damn thing.

I'm running into people, lots of people who say "Oh I can't throw that" well yes you can, even if it's only two feet who cares, your dog will be happy to go for it. Other people will say "he won't bring it back" Well this happens, Hayley was not the world's greatest retriever so we developed a format of walking in the park, I'd throw the stick, she'd run to get it then wait till I caught up, drop it then go again .. At least she was giving it to me, in her way, that's co operation

You can train your dog to retrieve. Start small, make it easy, set up for success. Start in your living room, sit on the floor, have the dog just a few inches away from you, throw the object, if she catches it encourage her to bring a back. Use a treat. Dogs are bribeable, they don't feel ashamed about it. When the dog doesn't return the object just keep encouraging her, it may require patience, go through a variety of rewards until something clicks, then Reward, Praise, Love, Repeat.

Find out what works for your dog. Some dogs, like border collies, track objects. If your dog follows the course of a toy while it's in the air then there's a good chance it may learn to take it out of the air. If it waits till it hits the ground then it may not be a flyer but if it looks at the toy, if it becomes interested in it once it lands, then it should retrieve.

Take your time, don't give up, keep at it. Training can be play too.

Look at your dog. Right now, look at his eyes.

Know what he's saying to you?

Come play with me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


A coupe du bois was a traditional Quebecois lumberjack. Besides cutting the trees, it was their job to get them down river to the mills.

They became renowned for their skill, dexterity and bravery as they ran along the log jams, freeing the stuck logs and nimbly leaping from log to log as the trees roared down the raging rivers

Apparently Terra has been watching History TV.

The video below explains

Terra: Coupe de Bois from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

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