Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rawhides - What Are They Really?

I've been getting rawhides for my dogs for quite some time and never gave it another thought. Everyone gets them for their pups. Right? I never gave it another thought about what they are. They're just fun for my pup.

But then one day I came across a piece describing what goes into a rawhide.


Rawhide chews come from the inner layer of the hide from any split hoofed animal. The hides themselves will become shoes, luggage and other goodies while the byproducts of manufacturing those products go into creating the rawhide chew.

But by the time the byproduct arrives at the facilities, DogTube says the product is often black and rotting, having not been refrigerated during transit.

The hides are then soaked in a sodium sulphide liming concoction.

They're then treated or washed with hydrogen peroxide.

They are then chemically enhanced with flavors.

During the description of the process, DogTube tossed out catch phrases like "toxic chemicals," "carcinogenic food coloring" and "toxic contaminates."

They say that the FDA has issued warnings about rawhides produced in China but that if a labeller does not reference nutritional value, they do not have to follow specific AAFCO rules.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Adopting A New Dog, Update Or Install A Chip!

Microchipping your dog

I do not believe we can stress this enough, in that adding an ID microchip to your pet is an invaluable service that can come in handy some day.

Now if you don't care about your dog, that's fine. Who needs to spend money on a chip with you have a collar, right? Wrong... collars can come off or even be removed and that's that. Your dog is now fight bait.

I was just reading a piece on where a man's boat had sunk, and he thought his dog had drowned also. But the dog escaped the sinking boat, swam a mile to shore, then made his way to a church that the man and his dog frequented.

Though the man did not update the microchip information, the pastor and local law enforcement did the math, knew a man had lost his boat and dog, and after putting the pieces together, reunited them.

What an awesome story.

But a few things came to mind in regards to this situation.

1: The man adopted the dog but never updated the microchip. Always update your microchip information when you adopt a new pup. It truly is super simple.

2: Do an annual double check on the information in the microchip database to make sure all information is up to date. Just in case someone who is part of the background process does something stupid or nefarious.

3: Had there been no microchip, he should have "installed" one.

4: For those who think dogs are just animals, events like this, where the dog swam to shore then found his way to their church to find his human seems to put your callous mindset off in the category of animal ignorance.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Vader's World Tackles The CA State Championship in Dixon, LOL!

Vader's World, Disc Dog event, CA State Championships at Dixon, CA

Last weekend, Team Vader hit up Dixon for the two-day Golden State Disc Dog Championship, or The Crusty Classic. We went full of hope, vigor and promises. That, and the club I am a part of, Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate, was hosting the event. So the pressures were double the norm, as we were at a two instead of one-day event, and we were hosting it.

Alas, what would a good disc dog event be without weather, and weather we got.  We drove up on Saturday and found ourselves drenched in some pretty decent rain on the drive in the wee early morning hours.

We helped set up, set up our own camp (An EZ-Up) and tackled the misty, blustery day as best we could.

Disc Dog games, Toss and Fetch, Vader flying high
Vader on his way to a third place finish

On the first day of the event in the intermediate class, we polished off a 3rd place "podium" finish. (We had tied for 2nd, but tiebreaker rules did not favor our game.)

It was a very long day with all the competitors that had shown up. Not only that, but we had to help break down the tournament event just so we could put it all back up the next day!  (Oh, the heaviest rain of the day came while we were breaking down the competition gear. It stopped almost as soon as we finished.)

Sunday was a very different day, indeed.

On Sunday the much needed rain took its leave and we were left with moderate winds that either forced us to throw with the wind but into the sun, or into the wind, but with the sun at our backs.

But fates and a flustered or tired dog had a different plan for us.

The day started off on a high note because the Good Day Sacramento team was doing a piece on the disc dog tournament and Vader found himself getting his five seconds of fame on live TV during the intro piece. It wasn't much, but it was something fun. (See the exciting moment at the bottom of this post)

Yes, I was a nervous wreck. I spent about 15 minutes working with Morgan on she could throw the disc and letting her and Vader play a bit so when she was on camera, she would have a practiced throw and Vader would go get it for her.

WHEW! On that count. But after that my day went a bit south.

Toss and Fetch, disc dog event, Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate event
Where is it? I just saw it here a second ago!!!

Our first round of Toss and Fetch I threw with the wind and watched Vader lose the disc in the sky and blinding sun, resulting in a pretty poor showing. I was fuming when we came back to our tent.  Poor Vader knew I was upset and tried his best to talk me down. By barking at me over and over and over with that earthquake-whistle shrill bark of his to calm me down.
The migraine did not help.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vader At the CRUSTY CLASSIC in Dixon

HeroDiscUSA Halloween Disc, Disc Dog, Crusty

This weekend Team Vader and his sidekick (for now), Lark, are headed to Dixon, CA, for the two-day event, the 14th Annual Crusty Classic - Golden State Disc Dog Championship taking place on October 25 and 26.

People from all over the state, and maybe some neighboring states will be competing, making this a real big event.

It will be nothing but fun times this weekend, even with a little rain predicted for Saturday. But we're OK with the rain, we've played and practiced in it before, so it will be fun and won't bother us.


The "Crusty" is open to all skill levels for those who want to compete. 

"Trophies are awarded to the top three teams per division each day. At the close of the event the cumulative overall points leader is crowned "Best in the West" and the overall California resident points leader receives the "Golden State Disc Dog Champion" award."

We will NOT be competing in the Open Division where the freestyle performance takes place, but rather the Pro or Intermediate division where they are primarily toss and fetch competitions.


So if you are in the area of Dixon, CA and want to see some great teams having fun competing in a disc dog competition, come on out! You will not be disappointed because I know that of some of the Freestyle teams coming up, they are amazing to watch

Hall Park,
Corner of S. Seventh St. and E. Chestnut St.,
Dixon, CA.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vader VISITS The 2014 Dog Agility World Championships in Morgan Hill

The 2014 Dog Agility World Championships are going on in Morgan Hill, CA this week, and wrapping up this Sunday, 10-19-14.  With close to 1,000 dogs from 10 different countries competing to become the Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Champion, competing for more than $10,000 in prize money in the Dog Agility Steeplechase called the USDAA 2014 CynoSport., it is a huge event. I have never seen so many EZ-Ups, campers and what not, all in one place. It's an incredible sight to see.

To be clear, Vader IS NOT COMPETING in this event, we were just visiting the event site because outside of the competition field there were things like Splash Dogs, a great lure course, some barn hunting and a few pet-related vendors. I was sort of surprised how few vendors were at the event.

We decided to partake in the lure course with Vader and Lark and Vader tackled the Splash Dogs pool. 

Well, tackled might be a strong word.

The Lure Course Experience:

The lure course was fun. We've previously tackled straight line and square lure courses, but this one had all kinds of twists, turns and hurdles. Wait... hurdles? Yep, hurdles or mild obstacles.

Of course when we tackled the lure course, the operator did not reset the timer, but instead, left it running for all three runs between Vader and Lark. So I timed the video runs manually and for Vader I came up with 15.5 and 12.7 second runs. I, um, don't have a time for Lark and you'll see why in the third video.

BTW, paying to run the lure course benefited " "Lure-For-the-Cure" presented by the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF)"

Here are Vader's two lure course runs:

Run #1

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What's New With Vader's World, October 2014?

Hey gang, there's been a few changes that have taken place here in Vader's World, so I thought I'd give you a quickie update.

New Home

First up... We've changed our base of operations. We used to live in Menlo Park but for various reasons, we've relocated to a new "bat cave," so to speak. Now we are based out of Morgan Hill, CA. It's neat out here because we're surrounded by wild life. But that could have its down side too. Well, that is if you count the giant spiders and rattlesnakes we've seen so far.

Don't worry. We've located the closest 24-hour vet and confirmed they carry anti-venom! If you live in a region with snakes, you should always determine who the closest vet and 24-hour vet is, who makes it a habit to carry anti-venom. Then if something bad happens, you already know where you can go without the stress of trying to figure out when minutes count!



We brought a new family member into the fold, and her name is Lark. (The giant German Shepherd is Max, our neighbor's dog)

She's a sweet puppy or my new little sister. One expert says that from looking at her, she has a few features that make her think that Lark is mostly ACD with some Pit Bull in her.

Which would explain her extreme happy butt swing when she wags her tail pretty hard! It's cute to watch! And nice that she has a tail and no one has docked it, like mine!



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Upcoming Crazy Weekend Schedule (9-27,28-14)

Lark, Vader and our neighbor, Max

Hey gang, I know you haven't heard from Team Vader in a while. We've been busy relocating our base of operation and adding a new (sister) member to the pack. 

Team Vader is now based out of Morgan Hill, CA. And we've been super busy with our moving from Menlo Park over the last few weeks.

We also want to welcome LARK to the team. She's a new addition to the team and is an 18-monthy-old ACD mix.  We get along awesomely. (That big guy in the background is Max. One of our neighbors.)

And last weekend, we took second place in the Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate tournament in the PRO DIVISION of Toss and Fetch!

Be that as it may, we've been pretty dang busy and this upcoming weekend is NO EXCEPTION!

This Saturday, Sept 27th, we'll be at the Third Annual FIESTA DEL PERRO event, doing demos at 1 and 3pm!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vader's New Friends At Niles

Today Vader went swimming at Niles, in Fremont.  We met Lucy, a burly and fun black lab. We also made a new friend in Piper, a fellow herder breed! :)

We talked to Piper's dad and learned that Piper just might like dock diving and from the sounds of things, could very well be a fellow disc dog too! Yay.

So Bruce told Piper's dad about all the different fun places and things that might come with playing with a disc dog.

We told them about Doggone Dirty Dock Diving and what a fun place that is.

We told them about our disc dog club, Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate.

And we told him about places to get dog discs from, like Hero Disc USA. Dog discs are a softer type of disc with thinner lips so dogs can get their teeth around the edge.

Discs: These are the more common kinds of discs fellow competitors use, (the following images are links to Hero Disc USA's Amazon offerings.), these discs are misprints of Hero Air 235s, the most commonly used disc in the world of disc dog competitions.


But if your dog is a heavy biter, like Vader, where he can destroy a disc in a week or so, we've found these Super Aero's survive Vader's power jaws much better and still fly almost as, if not better than (depending on the thrower) the other disc.


The above discs are "blems" or "misprints," which are offered at a steep discount versus the perfect discs they sell. Also, when ordering blems, you don't a choice in color. You get what you get.

If you're curious about our journey to being Freestyling Disc Dog team, you can check out the featured article over on Bay Woof, that came out this month!

Here's pics from today's fun at Niles... it's always awesome to meet great people, dogs, oh, and turtles too.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Update from San Ramon DDotGG Event

Update from Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate Aug 3rd event!

It would seem that even though we were concerned for Vader's well being and recovering from his injury, he seems to have no ill effects (that we can see immediately) from competing yesterday.

We only competed in the Pro (Toss and Catch) Division and we were able to do so as two teams, Bruce and Vader, and Amy and Vader.

Despite taking a few weeks off, Vader did spectacularly, in combination with my practicing like a mad dog over the last few weeks and Amy just getting better and better as the days go on.

In our division Vader and I scored a 25-point day after two rounds of 11 and 14 points. That's a pretty big scoring day for our efforts.

2nd place had 18 points and Amy and Vader came in third with 13 points for the day.

All in all, it was a fun day, with no discernible limping afterwards from Vader. We're still keeping a close eye on him and will have some moderate practices, being as how we're headed to Sonoma this Sunday for a demonstration at another baseball game.

To be honest, I enjoyed competing in the Pro division.  When Vader and I broke out of the Novice division last year we only competed once in the Pro division and then we started doing the Open division (freestyle and T&C).  And so just having two rounds of Toss and Catch was rather fun and I think I may stay in the Pro division for a few more events before getting back into the world of the Open division.  We'll see. But just in case, I guess notice has been served!  -Bruce

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Developments, Medical Status and Upcoming Tourn

Disc Dog, Vader, Baseball Game Demonstration

It's been a while since our last update and we have some developments, news and an update on an upcoming event...

A few weeks ago we had a Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate event that we took part in, where Vader participated in the OPEN and PRO divisions with myself and Amy.  And considering how much we do with him on a daily basis, this was a quiet day.

The next day we took part in a "Frisbee Dog" demonstration out in San Rafael at a minor league baseball game and that was fun.  Vader and I had one of our best freestyle rounds ever. And to be honest, to hear the stands full of people go "Ohhh!" during one of Vader's infamous high flying catches was quite the rush.

Vader "Frisbee Dog" demonstration in San Rafael

Again, we kept it somewhat sedate and as days go, we didn't quite do as much with him as we might on a regular day at home.

Then that night right after dinner, (July 13), Vader starting limping pretty badly and holding up his leg when standing still and that changed our routine instantly.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vader's Diving Day and Upcoming Plans

Here's a quick update on Vader's Splash Dogs event, and what's he up to over the next few weekends...


Well, Vader tackled his first Splash Dogs competition out in Hollister, and it was fun and disappointing all at once.

We "won" a ribbon for farthest jump in the "Splash" division.  That's the shortest jump division there is.  But we had the shortest jump of the day in that round, and we were the only dog in the division.

Boo ya!

Our next round out, we jumped too far for the "Splash" division and didn't do too hot in the next division up.  As far as we can tell.

The day was a little short of our expectations, but hey, practice makes perfect.  Right? And we're a DISC DOG!


With our first experience of Dock Diving competition out of our way, we're moving on to what we do best... disc chasing fun!

Saturday, Jul 12:  Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate tourney in San Ramon.

Sunday, Jul 13: Disc Dog Demo team appearance in San Rafeal;

Saturday, Jul 19: Disc Dog Demo team, NILES Dog Show, in Fremont.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Vader's Upcoming SPLASH DOGS Event on July Fifth

Vader Dock Diving practice in Hollister

In case anyone is wondering what Vader will be up to this upcoming July 4th holiday weekend, he plans on keeping it cool and doing some dock diving in a Splash Dogs event this upcoming weekend.

The "UKC Sanctioned Splash Dogs Dock Diving Competition" will be taking place on July 4 through 6, with preliminaries on Friday and Saturday, and early Sunday and finals on Sunday afternoon.

The schedule for the dock diving event looks like this:

Fri Jul 04
Registration opens - 9AM
Open Practice Dock - 9AM
Splash 1 - 10:00 am
Splash 2 - 12:00 pm
Splash 3 - 2:00 pm
Splash 4 - 4:00 pm
Dock Closes - 6PM

Sat Jul 05
Registration opens - 9AM
Open Practice Dock - 9AM
Splash 5 - 10:00 am        <---- Vader's scheduled splash
Splash 6 - 12:00 pm        <---- Vader's scheduled splash
Splash 7 - 2:00 pm
Super Vertical - 4:00 pm
Dock Closes - 6PM

Sun Jul 06
Registration opens - 9AM
Open Practice Dock - 9AM
Splash 8 - 10:00 am
Splash 9 - 12:00 pm
Finals - 2:00 pm
Dock Closes - 6PM

Monday, June 30, 2014

Your Dogs And Fireworks

What can you do to help prevent your dog from running away from fireworks.

The Fourth of July is right around the corner and if you haven't noticed, more and more warnings are going up about how this is the scariest holiday of the year for dogs and that more dogs are lost on this holiday than any other day.

The Humane Society says that July fifth is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters.

PET MD suggests keeping your pets indoors until the fifth. Don't take your dog to a fireworks display. Keep identifying tags on your pet and have them microchipped (Tags and collars can get ripped off). Don't use fireworks around your pets.

If you think about it, the sky is exploding and flashing for no reason.  And when an animal isn't desensitized enough to oddball events around him/her, it can be a devastating emotional experience.  And unlike humans who can reason through something that startles them, sometimes animals just RUN!  Their fight or flight mode kicks in and doesn't shut off until they feel safe or run out of energy.

And that flight mode is pure adrenaline, with no logic attached. They don't run for cover all the time.  They don't get to a safe spot... they just run, run and run some more.  They run with no intelligence or logic attached.  During earthquakes dogs bolt from their homes and run like mad. Then they get lost or killed when they get hit on the highways.

If you think your fence will keep them in the back yard, you will probably be statistically correct.  Yet if your dog has never attempted to leap over your six-foot tall fence, most mid-sized to large dogs just might amaze you what they can truly be physically capable of.

Don't take the chance.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Always Check The Shelter For Yourself

Dogs in Shelters (Ph Cr: Jesse Groppi/Sandbox )

I just came across a very scary account of a man who lost his dog and because of his nature of not trusting the system, it turns out his own due diligence was his own reward.

Here's the gist of it... Sometimes it pays to check on the pound and verify what they've told you because if the wrong person does not care about the job or the lives under their care, this could have been a pretty shitty ending for one dog's life.

And to imagine this pup, lost, alone and scared in this strange animal prison where no one he loves is there to get him, is a terrible thought.  It's rather unacceptable he the pup got where he got, and if he had not been found, we presume the pup would have been put to death for no good reason.

VERY UNACCEPTABLE Orange County Humane Society! (they serve Costa Mesa and Newport Beach animal control.)

This is an edited rendition of my peer's post about his journey of trying to discover if rumors of his dog being captured by Animal Control were true.


A friendly person calls me last night and tells me that they saw Animal Control attempting to capture <Fido>. <The names have been changed to protect the innocent.>

I call animal control and they say that it might not have been a successful capture.  The only dog catch yesterday (at the time of this event) was in a different location in COSTA MESA Humane Society.

I check the Humane Society website which indicated that only two dogs were brought in yesterday. The closest match was a German Shepherd (<Fido> has shepherd in her, but looks like a black lab).

I call the Humane Society to check on the shepherd catch.

They said the German Shepherd looks like one and had no collar or chip.

I ask if they had a black dog with a white chest with a collar but no tag and micro-chipped come in yesterday or today.

They said no and reminded me that their site is accurate and no dog matching my description has been brought in.

I GO down to the Humane Society anyway. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dispelling The Myth About Dogs and Ice Water

(Now that's a lot of water!)
There have been some well meaning folks running around and forwarding an article or premise that ice water is dangerous for dogs.  This particular piece going around on Facebook has actually been out there since 2007 and I'd like to take a moment to chat about this misnomer.

The warning itself, says that giving an over heated dog ice water is a bad thing for your pup and can cause fatal bloat (acute gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)) from the chilly water resource.

But this well meaning warning is nothing but a myth.

I've seen the warning refuted by various sources that ice water does not cause bloat.  The actual warning that's being distributed by folks may have had two independent events occur, the ingestion of ice water and bloat, but there has been no concrete evidence that the two conditions are related.

There is a concern for giving a distressed dog too much water or they're drinking it too quickly.  That's where bloat can come from...  too much, too fast.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Mountain View, CA is testing an Off-Leash "Parks" pilot program that will last for one year, starting June 23rd, 2014.  The program will be a test that involves allowing dogs to be off-leash, in certain parks...  with some caveats.


When I first heard about Mountain View testing the idea of new Off-Leash parks, I was getting pretty excited.  Excited because our very own town of Menlo Park seems to be getting more aggressive in enforcing leash rules and this new idea seemed like a long lost form of hope.

I even laughed pretty hard when some opponents to the Mountain View idea claimed that having different breeds of dogs loose in the same space is a bad thing.  Seriously?  Apparently they're grumpy, non dog-owning opponents who do not know squat about dogs.  But that's just my opinion.

(I get leash laws.  They help protect against some of the "idiots" that need to keep their dogs on leash next to busy streets or when their dogs run around and pee on or steal my stuff.)

Then I saw an article on the Daily Post talking about the new Mountain View Off-Leash parks and their rules.


(Why yes occifer, he is on a leash.)

Dogs will be allowed off-leash in "Designated Sections" of the following parks...

-Bubb Park,
-Cooper Park,
-Eagle Park,
-McKelvey Park,
-Whisman Park*,
-Cuesta Park* and
-Cuesta Annex!

Hours for dogs being off-leash are...

-Between the hours of 6am and 10am,
-In designated areas.


*Parks with Additional (BETTER) Exceptions...

-Whisman Park
--- Additional hours of 5pm to sundown on Weekdays.

-Cuesta Park
--- Off-leash from 6am to after sundown,

-Cuesta Annex
--- Seven days a week
--- 6am to 10am.


Signs will be posted in the affected parks reflecting this new situation in this pilot program.  And I'm betting if carried our properly by dog owners, could be a great success and wonderful addition to any dog owner's lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Belmont's Water Dog Lake Park - A Mini Review

Disc Dog Vader checks out a lake

The Vader's World team decided to check out Water Dog Lake Park in Belmont.

First things first... using Google Maps to find where to go to get into the park seemed off a bit if you want the most direct route to the dog lake itself.  The shortest route, which is about half a mile from one of the entrances is on Lyall Way just before Lake Road.  And it's an uphill walk, but it's not a horrible incline.

Word on the street is that though there are many options for parking around the location, keep your eyes on the parking restrictions in some locations.

To be honest, Water Dog Lake Park is a pretty big place, with many dog walking hiking options.

It's called a heavily wooded park, and there was plenty of shade on the short route we took.

Yes, signs say dogs allowed, on leash.  But once we got to the lake, well, there were plenty of dogs swimming around, so we weren't alone in enjoying the place.  Everyone there was fun and friendly.

More pics from the day are over on Vader's Flickr Album.

{ Google Maps to Water Dog Lake }

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vader's Day At the 2014 Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash

Disc Dog Vader at the 2014 Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash

Saturday (6-7-14) was fun, where we took part of a freestyle demonstration for the Sacramento SPCA benefit, as part of a demonstration team with the Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate, an awesome club-member run Northern CA disc dog club.

Disc Dog Vader freestyle at the 2014 Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash

The day in Sacramento was predicted to be hot (105!) but we got our performances in early before the heat set in.  Bruce and I had 2 fun demonstrations, as he tossed discs and I jumped through the air snagging them out of their flight paths!

2014 Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash

There were lots of canine friends and even a police K-9 demonstration.

Police Dog Demo at the 2014 Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash

You can check out quite a few more pics at either my FLICKR album or my FACEBOOK page album.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vader Will Be Where This Saturday, 6-7-14?

Vader Will Be Where This Saturday, 6-7-14?

So where will Vader be this upcoming Saturday, June 7thTeam Vader will be showing up in Sacramento with the Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate demo team for a few fun demonstrations during at the 2014 Doggy Dash event in Sacramento, CA.

We'll be a small part of the demonstration team putting on a show at 8:30am and 10:00am.

What's the Doggy Dash?  No, it's not a dog race.It's an event put on by the Sacramento SPCA and is known...

"As the greatest annual fundraising event for the Sacramento SPCA, it is a celebration of people coming together to raise much-needed funds that provide the Sacramento SPCA the means to care for more than 11,000 each year."

They have a great day planned out, from the opening 2k walk in the morning at 9am, a Sacramento PD K9 Unit demonstration, and lots of contest events, like "Most enthusiastic wag," to "Best Tricks," and other cool contests.

If you're pondering coming out to check out the freestyle demonstration, keep in mind that there's a heat advisory in effect for Saturday at the time this article was written. Bring plenty of water, plus bring extra water, and hats, and did I mention water?


{ .youtube. }

{ sspca doggy dash information },{ weather forecast }

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cocoa Mulch: Is It Dangerous? The Fears and the Truth

Cocoa Mulch, not as dangerous as it used to be

When we (Bruce, Amy and Vader) first heard of chocolate flavored (Cocoa) Mulch, our initial reaction was that this apparent toxic food seemed like a stupid idea to market.  Stupid, considering how dangerous chocolate can be for dogs and cats.

And we hung with that premise for a while, keeping our eyes peeled for the like on front lawns and what not. Then the other day I started seeing Facebook posts about how one person's animal ate some mulch, then died the next day.

That truly is a scary story for animal owners, and well meaning folks are sharing this tale of whoa with as many folks as they can, to get the word out.

But I caution those with good intent, that they should always double check with or other such rumor control websites to make sure that what they're sharing is accurate.  Because if it isn't accurate, well, it can be disappointing on many levels, despite the good intent.

So when we saw the warning about the Cocoa Mulch, I checked out Snopes and I'm glad we did.

The original concerns originated back in 2003, but the concerns, would appear to be outdated worries.

YES, "Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals, called methylxanthines."

And yes, the Cocoa Mulch is sold by mainstream stores.

But there's a statement from Home Depot that caught my eye:

Monday, June 2, 2014



If you recall, we put out a piece on places you can go hiking with your dog in the Bay Area. Today we (Bruce, Amy and Vader) tackled the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve located in Portola Valley, CA. (Towns with the name Valley in them are confusing.)

Windy Hill is a one thousand, three hundred and thirty-five acre piece of land and has just over twelve miles of trails.

And we took on a five mile hike that included an eight hundred foot elevation climb in roughly two and a half miles.   There are a few switch backs but there were also quite a few straight shots at quick altitude changes.  Well, not so quick when you're crawling up these hills.


At the bottom of the hike, everyone is funneled through one entrance gate at the parking lot we chose, off of Portola Valley Rd.  If yo have a leash reactive dog, you have to take a tiny bit of precaution at the entrance.

The first half mile you might not want to linger too long.  The black flies will spot you and claim you as theirs!  If you keep on the move, you'll be fine. (This hike was in June.  Are black flies seasonal?)

The beginning trail isn't too harshly inclined, but as you get going, it will get steeper.

You do have an 800 foot elevation to tackle.  At least on the route we tackled, which skirted the north side of the park as it climbed towards Skyline Dr.. Yes, I just said that.  I can get to Skyline Dr via this park.

As you get higher (and I thought "The Dish" hills were a nice vantage point!) the views start to become spectacular and worthy as I took a liberal number of breaks to "stop" and "admire" the view.  Which is code for catch my dang breath. (If you have a camera, it lends credence to the "admiring" part of the rest stops.)

There's lots of shade in the first half, and there's a little bit of shade well placed here and there on the way up.


We brought lots of water, as should you.  We ended up giving a bottle to a group of hikers who were on their final legs of a huge hike.  They weren't looking that hot.

Even though I joke and make it sound tough, it's something you can do at your own pace and you should be fine. And proud when you realize what you just tackled.

There's a bathroom at the parking lot. Which, by the way, the parking lot seemed big enough.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where Can You Walk Your Dog in the BAY AREA?

Dog Parks in the Bay Area

One of the toughest things to find about the Bay Area region is whether a dog owner can take his or her pup anywhere, legally, these days.  As in, a walk in the park or even going off-leash for some fun.

As it stands, Vader and the team (of humans) have to play Outlaw Disc Dog ( (This is just a domain that points back to Vader's World here.) if we want to practice our disc routines.  Of late, we've had an incredibly high number of encounters with Menlo Park police and the highly feared roaming Animal Control officer.

Never mind that Vader is vaulting and stalling or snagging discs out of the air and returning back to us faster than a greyhound on a squirrel.  The local law enforcement seems to be in high gear to nab that extra buck or two if they can manage it, from an off-leash dog.  (As a peer at work put it, you'd think they'd be out chasing criminals instead of dog owners.)

There should be allowances for professional or well-trained dogs.  Just sayin'.


So we've been looking to take our practices and exercise routines anywhere but Menlo Park. And we don't do dog parks because there's no room to practice our professional routines or run after discs safely in.

But if you meander around the region by car, you'll note how often you come across parks that don't want dogs.

But then I found a great couple of resources that helped us find new locations for walking Vader.  And the options seem wonderful!

First up, are parks we already go to:

Garin Park is a favorite for us.

Garin Park, Dog Leash-Free parks, Bay Area

It cost $5 per car to get in, and $2 per dog. But they have a great facility if you want to have a picnic and wonderful hiking with miles and miles of trails, with wonderful views.

We need to be on a leash for the first few hundred feet, but once we get through one of the gates, Vader can be leash free, and it's huge!  Plus, you'll find yourself possibly walking right by free ranging cows.

There's lots to do and if you take the long way around, it's a few hours of walking!  BRING PLENTY of WATER for all in your party, dog and humans!


Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve (San Carlos, California)

Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve, Off-Leash Dog Park, Bay Area

This is a 366 acre park with 6 miles of trails, and in the center of it is a completely free off-leash area!


Then we found the Open Space web site that focuses on parks that have trails for dogs!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Keeping Your Pup Cool In The Heat, DONT LEAVE IN CARS!

Don't leave your dog in the car in hot weather
(the larger version of this info-graphic is at the first link referenced.)

Summer is fast approaching and so too is the heat that comes with it.  Heat always presents the possibility of heat stroke to pets.  Heat stroke could occur, if for some reason, your dog(s) can't cool down sufficiently to prevent it.

This can apply to all dogs, whether they be the couch potato or performance and dogs, everyone is a potential victim.

Despite no official databases, it's estimated that several hundred dogs a year die from heat stroke.

Keep in mind that death from heat stroke is a slow, horrible way to die. Overheating can cause "The brain to swell, causing seizures. Lack of blood supply to the GI tract causes ulcers. Dehydration leads to irreversible kidney damage. All these catastrophic events take place within a matter of minutes."

One aspect of how pups die this way is being locked in hot cars. 

Did You Know That there are laws in AZ, CA, IL, ME, MD, Minnesota, NV, NH, NJ, NY, ND, SD, Vermont and W Virgina that can result in one's imprisonment and fines if you're one of the stupid folks that make some sort of "guess" that Fido will be fine in the car for "just a few minutes" in the hot weather?

Face it, looking in a car and determining "it's fine," well, isn't a real brilliant move. Instead, why not consider leaving your sidekick at home on hot days.  Or skip going places that you need to leave your pup outside in the car.

Did You Know That dogs cool down by breathing, via their panting mechanism?  They don't sweat like we do.  So do the math:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Vader's First Splash Dogs Event! (Schedule)

Vader's Dock Diving schedule

Oh my, it's looking real now!  We've just signed up Vader for his very first Splash Dogs (Dock Jumping) event.  Gulp!

We've been having fun at Rhonna's dock facility with lots and lots of practice and fun with jumping and hanging out with friends too.

Now we'll be there for real, signed up and ready to go.  We signed up for two "Splash Events" and the final rounds.

Vader Dock Diving in Splash Dogs

Our schedule looks like this:

Sunday, 5-25-14:            Splash 5 @ 12:00pm,
           Splash 6 @  2:00pm,
           Finals start at 3:00pm.

Of you are in or around the area, come by and see all the fun that dock diving can be.  Trust me, it's a blast to watch!  And in person, it's just wow to see.  (Psst, bring cameras.  There can be some cool pics to be had!)

Venue Information
Doggone Dirty Dock Jumping Facility
756 Jarvis Ln
Hollister, CA 95023

Doggone Dirty Dock Jumping Facility

(The place might look a little familiar.  All our dock diving pics are from there.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What's A Good DISC DOG BAG And Who Makes Them?

Vader's disc dog discs

The question of the day is, what's a good dog disc bag? Who makes them? Where can I find them?  How much will it hurt my wallet?

There are none. HA!  No one specifically makes dog disc bags.  But, there are excellent alternatives, as you are about to discover.


With hitting up disc dog club events, competitions, and practice, I think you may find out that you need a few things to take with you when you head out with your pup to play disc games with.

First and foremost, is water and water bowls. We lug a 1 gallon jug in a backpack everywhere we go. The back of the truck has five more. (Usually for events, not practice.)

You need shade, but that's for another post.  You might need chairs.  (They make shade and it's a spot to either sit down at or hang your jump vest.)

And there's your dog discs.  You need something to carry your dog discs in if you get enough or, in carrying everything else, you find you cant' wrangle loose discs.

Welcome to the club of disc dogging!

Like I said before, there are no disc dog disc bags.  But there are great alternatives that you can find that are designed for Disc Golf.  The only thing you need to do when you get them home, is not insert (or pull out) the pre-fabricated disc holders, and walla, you have a dog disc bag!

I've experimented (it's the best word I can come up with) with a few kinds of disc bags.

The first up, because it was pretty inexpensive and an easy start-up bag, I picked up the Innova Starter Disc Golf Bag.  (Yes, our dog discs fit perfectly.)

Innova Starter Disc Golf Bag for dog discs

They're $16 on Amazon and can be pretty handy.  (Innova-Starter-Bag-Blue)

With the exception of the zipper, it's an awesome starter bag.  But the zippers suck.  I can unequivocally say that.  I bought two over the span of some time and both of them, their zipper sticks and doesn't "zip" very smoothly.  Just this last weekend I ran into other people with the same bag, and they all had the same thing to say about the zipper.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Team Vader's Upcoming Events

Vader's schedule for May and June 2014

Some of you asked what Vader, the disc dog, will be up to in the upcoming weeks so I thought I'd toss out our next few events that we have planned for ourselves.  All dates are beholden to outside forces that might change them.

But this is how our tentative schedule stands at the moment for Team Vader:

Sun May 11        
Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate  DiscDoGG's May 11 Tournament in San Ramon
San Ramon Memorial Park in San Ramon, California

Sat May 24-25
SPLASH DOGS in Hollister
(Yes, we're finally going to try our hand at dock diving when it's on the line, up against some other great dogs!)


Sat May 31

Disc Dog Demo, Scotts Valley, The 10th Annual Woof to Woof,
An event that benefits the blind and visually impaired.


Sat Jun 7
SACRAMENTO Doggie Dash Demo,
An event that benefits animals in need a fundraiser for the Sacramento SPCA.


If you make it to any of these events, cool!  If you can't maybe you can catch us practicing or even hire us for a demonstration at a local sporting event, because Vader LOVES performing for people!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beware of Xylitol (And Other Product) Poisoning!

Be aware of Foods Toxic to Dogs

Wow, who would think that a sugar substitute could be dangerous for your pets!  But it turns out, that it is indeed a poison for your animals.  The scary part is that this poison is showing up in common foods people eat.  And that, in and of itself, is the true scare factor.

Xylitol shows up in places like toothpaste, mouthwash, sugarless gum, some cough medicines and chewable vitamins.  Apparently it's also in some baked goods and some candy.

If your dog ingests Xylitol, the impact of the poison can be seen in as little time as 30 minutes after ingestion.

What happens is that this product stimulates rapid release of insulin in your dog, creating a hypoglycemic condition.  Symptoms from this condition include
    Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
    Decreased potassium


The big thing to take away from this is that if we don't know what's in our foods, then don't give it as a snack to your pets.  Especially anything marked "sugar free."  What I mean by "Don't know" is if you haven't reviewed the list of ingredients on the packaging of the food.  Not, you're "pretty sure" due to word of mouth or other sources.

Other suggestions out there that help protect your pup from accidental poisoning is to make sure you don't leave food out... Wait?  What kind of suggestion is that?  Don't dog owners already do that?


List of Toxic or Dangerous Foods for Dogs:

Here's a list of foods and other substances that you should be careful of letting be around your dog... for me, the biggest surprise over time were grapes!  Check it out:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bruce and Vader Win Their First "Open" Competition

Vader Wins his First "Open" Competition

It's crazy and we got lucky, but Vader and I entered our first Open/Freestyle division event and we ended up winning.  On top of that, we landed third in our first long-distance (quadruped) event.


Around a year ago when Vader and I competed at Dixon in the Local UFO event, and there were a few things of note that intimidated me then.

Last year, the field was too long for me and I could not get the disc down to the far end of the competition zone.

Second, we had no freestyle routine.  We had competed in the Pro Division.  (2 Toss and Catch rounds).  In fact, we just premiered our freestyle routine this weekend!

Third, they held a long-distance contest at the end of the day.  For some reason I had signed up, but then they took the field markers and doubled the length of the field.  I retracted my entry, considering the field itself was already too long for my capabilities. (Then)

And during that competition, I had watched a young lady with comparatively little effort (Or otherwise referred to as technique.) throw one of her dog discs around 230 feet.

I was inspired on that day, to say the least and since then, I had started working on several facets of my Disc Dog game.

The aspects of improvement included trying to incorporate a freestyle routine of sorts into my repertoire and to attempt to increase the distance that I could throw a disc.


The Freestyle Routine

Vader's freestyle routine in the Open Division of the UFO Local Event in Dixon

Competing in Freestyle meant that in my local club, had gone beyone the "Pro Division" and right on into the "Open Division."  Gulp!  And what does a freestyly routine consist of?

The bottom line of any freestyle attempt is the variety of disc throw releases you can muster up, coupled with how you launch your disc, your dog's ability to catch those throws and a few other aspects that make a routine entertaining.

Right now I have a pretty basic routine with several releases that send my dog across the field, plus, a few jumps off my body.  Nothing spectacular to write home about, but enough.


Disc Toss Distance (Quadruped) Division

Vader taking off for his Quadruped catch

After watching this young lady with superb technique throw a disc 200+ feet, I took it upon myself to try and learn that skillset.  Back then, I could barely muster a disc close to the 90-foot mark.  That mustering included some form of accuracy.  IE:  Keep it somewhere on the field, unlike my first appearance where one of my disc tosses landed in the tents on the sideline.

How embarrasing.

But since that day, I've studied various resources and worked on various methods and techniques to help gain some distance to my paltry throwing skills.

And I can proudly say I've achieved some sense of goal.

For one, in order to compete on the field this last weekend, I had to back up 10 feet from the throw line to keep it in the max scoring zone.  (I was smiling inside that I had to do that.)

For another, we took third in the distance contest because of my 167-foot toss that Vader caught.  Boom!  Yes, 167 feet!  I was bested by a few feet for second, but the winner of this contest took us both out when he tossed his disc 261 feet. 

So... um, I have some more work to do, since my best ever, so far, is only 205 feet.


But looking back a year ago, I was tickled that I was looking at the competition field and wondering how it gave me so much trouble.  It was a nice feeling.

- - -

Our freestyle routine is pretty basic, but combined with Vader's incredible Toss and Catch skills score, helped us win the Open Division for our first time out competing.  I'm pretty proud of our accomplishment.  All those days of endless disc tossing finally paid out a bit, and that makes it feel like the constant "tennis elbow" and other aches and pains are worth it.  (Picking up discs for 90 minutes can tweak the back if you run into a "bad back" day and don't protect yourself while bending over to pick things up.)

There are a bunch more images from the UFO Local Dixon event on Vader's Facebook Page.