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 (www.outlaw-disc-dog.com) (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.