Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On the eve of the wedding...

Sitting here after a long time if doing nothing, I am becoming really good at deep thinking again. So when I think about Lee getting married tomorrow, I thought I would reflect on what that means to me.

Lee is a guy I got chatting to 10 years ago when we both had the same make of car. Chatting on a forum for a couple of years, before I stopped using it. Then seeing him pop up on my social media feed, and occasionally conversing. I have many mates like this, and love having them.

So a 18 months ago, struck down with depression, I was surprised to hear from him. We weren't close, I wasn't expecting outside help, and sure wasn't totally confident about letting an outsider in with such things.

We had many chats here and there, then out of the blue he suggested that we do lunch. Already struggling with going out in the wild, making eye contact, etc, the idea of meeting a new person, in a new place and opening up seemed ridiculous. However, clean out of other ideas, I went with it.

That invitation and decision has genuinely proven a life changer to me. That day we talked about everything, and genuinely left feeling much better, and as if I had known him for years. Both sharing personal stuff, things we held dear and private.

From that day on we have stayed in touch. Not an every day thing, but when we want to blow off steam, talk something through, or just someone to pass time chatting to, it's good to know the other is there. Some of the conversations have been rather strange, but the bond we have formed is fantastic.

With the birth of his son, when we visited, I finally got to meet the amazing future wife, Sarah. To see them together is beautiful, synchronicity at its finest, with little Harry is the cherry on the top.

I could go on for ages, singing praises, but I will save that for a private conversation.

So for now I will sum up with this.
Thank you Lee for all you have done for me. Bringing me back from the edge, being there when I needed someone to keep me sane. Thank you for trusting me enough to become part of your life on so many levels.

I am so happy to know tomorrow is just around the corner, and that finally you will be bonded with an amazing woman, and that you will be taken care of and be as happy as you both deserve to be.

Love ya man.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

To push, or not to push, that is the question!

Since turning to a single speed bike, and commuting to work, I have learned a lot, about both about myself, and cycling in general.
Having spent the past year on 22 speed bikes, it turns out I have been spoilt. Learning to ride within rather variable thresholds, and if the going gets tough, drop a gear.
Obviously with a single speed (SS) this is not possible, so it is all about planning a manageable route, and at the same time approaching it with the right mindset. Something that has taken me a while to grasp. I have already found a few hills which have defeated me, but will be giving them another go in months to come.

Starting out with my first SS being the Claud Butler Lombard St with a 46/16 set up, I learned the basics of getting into a comfortable rhythm, and discovered what my pace was, or there abouts. Then switching to the Specialized Langster, with a 48/16 set up, the going got a little tougher, especially on the inclines. To give an idea of the sort of elevation I am doing on an SS, I average about 500-750ft on a 10-15 mile commute. So not terrible, but there are a couple of little climbs that get the old ticker working harder.

One thing I have really learned to respect, especially over the past couple of windy weeks, is when to push and when to just go with the flow. Riding a roadie with 22 options of gear to be in, it is so easy to just drop a cog and keep pushing. It takes a while to learn the difference between change in elevation and road surfaces, to the resistance of the wind. When its just elevation, and fatigue, dropping a gear makes sense. But when you are into a steady headwind, it is pointless pushing too hard, otherwise you are just burning energy for nothing. In some winds, you can only push so hard.

With the SS, it is quite obvious when such a moment arises, your speed drops rapidly, the effort increases, and you quickly learn to ease up and go with the flow. Something I have struggled with for a long time now, feeling its all about attacking with all you have, all the time.
For me, pushing too hard at the wrong times, causes rapid muscle fatigue, which takes some time to recover from. So on the SS I have slowly learned my limits for pushing, and how long and hard I can push for, before reaching the stage of really slow recovery (1-2 mins before I can push on at normal pace again)

Having grasped that basic, it has enabled me to work on my next weakness, standing and pedalling. For the whole of last year, standing to do a climb has been impossible, because of my stubbornness to train. However with the SS, it is something I have had to just shut up and get on with. And I am pleased to say that I have seen a huge improvement in my ability. To the point that I lapped Richmond last weekend, and managed to stay in a higher gear, while pushing on up one of the little climbs, and reached the top with only a short period of recovery riding needed. Still more than I had planned on, but the power and cadence figures made me smile, so that's what counts.

As the ability has grown, so has the confidence. And with that comes more miles. First few weeks I did the straight point to point ride to and from work. 5 miles each way, no elevation to speak of, and a 20 min ride at best each way. As I got braver, adding a few extra miles in here and there seemed the right thing to do, and before I knew it I was doing 7-10 miles each way. Seeing the miles clocking up on Strava, I suddenly got motivated. With 2 months of no riding leaving me with a mileage deficit for the year on my 3,000 mile goal, commuting was going to get me back on track. Sure enough, as the weeks have gone by, so have the miles, and today I am finally back ahead of the curve.

I can average 100 miles a week now, double that of which is required. And with the weather improving (not including this cold windy spell we are going through) the distances are creeping up more. With 144 miles being the most for a week this year, this week is looking pretty good, with just shy of 100 miles up until Thurs AM ride, plenty of time to add to that, and ever closer to my first 1,000 miles of the year. 4 months in, 1/3 of the way, and with some time spent away from the bike, I feel positive.

The SS has really helped me find my riding style, and for anyone looking to build themselves up from a plateau, I can't recommend it enough. What was a simple cost saving exercise, and a replacement for my Smart Car commute to work, has become a new passion for me. Constantly wanting to broaden my horizons, and push the boundaries of the commute. In recent days I have been doing 20 mile one way journeys, with slightly shorter return trips, clocking up 30 miles a day, rather than the 10 required. I am hooked. Now I find myself wanting to make changes to Luigi too (the Langster SS)

Today I ventured to Woolwich in the hope of catching the ferry to the North side, then passing City Airport on my way to work. Alas it was not running, so maybe next time eh.  Til then, I will keep pushing, look forwards to any rides on the Mekk's I can get in with friends, and watch that mileage tally rise.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Me and my health.

The good news is, mentally I am fine. Phew, that's a relief.

However physically, things are a little more grim for me.
The first couple of months of the year I have struggled with foot pain. To the point where shoes and walking were a no no. Occasionally venturing out on the bike, desperate to keep my legs spinning, only to be rewarded with even worse foot pain.

With that now somewhat under control, my body thought long and hard, before giving me the next challenge. Delivered in a gold envelope by a smug looking twat in a lab coat, no wait, that's Top Gear...
Over the past few weeks, both at work and at home, people have commented on me breathing heavily. At the same time I have noticed that I labour a little with certain tasks. Usually walking or climbing stairs. Up until this time, I have been fine, walked at a good pace, climbed stairs with no issue. (Remember taking the stairs to the 22nd floor at Guys Hospital?). So obviously this has caused some concern for me.

This time of year, a lot of people with asthma (like me) struggle a little more with hayfever and other allergies causing complications. But for me that usually appears along with a chesty cough getting me all blocked up. This time, nothing. Antihistamines don't seem to help either, again they usually would. And finally my inhaler has little if no effect whatsoever.

To just spice things up a little more, my body decided to throw heart palpitations in the mix too. It's all the chest, right! Now as an avid cyclist, who strangely during all this, can actually still cycle like a nutter (confusing right!) I see my heart rate quite a lot, and push my body quite hard. Nothing abnormal shows on my HR, and there are no unexpected weaknesses or shortness of breath etc.

On speaking to my GP, he has arranged for a set of tests to be run. Bloods, heart trace, and a breathing function test. First two are done, 12 lead ECG appears fine, bloods we will see, and breathing function is being tested at the weekend. Hopefully they will point at something, as it would be a lie to say it doesn't concern me slightly. If not, the tests go on, to see what is going on in there.

I reminded myself to write this on the way back from the shops just now. Slow steady pace walking, warm but not uncomfortable day, 1 mile or so round trip. Being overtaken by people with walking trolleys, and feeling like I am labouring to carry on. Taking my heart rate on the way around, nothing shocking to see. 80-85 bpm, which is pretty good going for the conditions. Made the trip fine, but this is just one of many journeys on foot which I have made and struggled with.

The confusing part is, it can be walking or getting up that temporarily knocks me for six. But cycling, I can go on forever. The GP suggested, as expected, that weight may be a contributing factor, which I completely accept. I am indeed overweight, but should add I have not gained weight in months, so why suddenly now feel this way. And why do some less intense activities affect me worse than being bent over cycling?

Right now, it's all a mystery to me, and everyone else, but hopefully there will be some answers soon.

So that is my little update. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It takes all sorts (of cyclists)

The more I ride in London, especially at peak time as a commuter, the more I can see the various groups of cyclists, and how they behave. I have reached the point now where my observations are complete enough to break cyclists down into categories, especially when it comes to behaviour at crossings and traffic signals.
So I thought I would dedicate this entry to those groups, and maybe ramble on a little more about other bits in the process.

If you ignore all the other habits and behaviours of cyclists for now, and just concentrate on how they behave when approaching, and when stopped (or not as the case may be) at traffic signals and crossings. So here we go.

Let us take a pretty standard traffic control signal. Traffic lights have gone red on the cyclists approach, and the stop line has an ASL (Advanced Stop Line) for cyclists to start ahead of the pack so to speak. The highways code would have they cyclist stop in the painted box forward of the stop line for traffic, and behind the ASL. This is deemed a safe and visible place for cyclists to wait. Obviously in some cases it is not possible to filter through to reach this. But for this scenario, you can.

On arrival at the lines, we then see different behaviours appear.
The Law Abider. The Creeper. The Ignorant Twat, are the main three.

The Law Abider, as the name suggests, will arrive at the box, stop inside it, and consider their road positioning ready for when the lights change, allowing where possible, traffic to pass them safely and ASAP.

The Creeper however will obey the stop line, for a moment at least. Before beginning to creep forwards. More common on longer sequences, in some cases The Creeper will decide the way is clear, it is pointless waiting for the lights to change, and off they go.
Similar to how a pedestrian behaves at a crossing really.

The Ignorant Twat however doesn't care for lights, instructions or signs, and has a PB to achieve, so just sails through any kind of stop sign, as they are untouchable, and VERY important! Or so they like to believe.

You have other variations of the above, such as Sailing Sally. A lady I see quite frequently with her little bike, complete with basket and flapping hi-vis jacket. Ignoring pelican crossings, swerving around people on zebra crossings, but obeying traffic lights at junctions where her safety may be compromised. So its all about YOU. Ignore the fact you might harm pedestrians or ever startle them, as long as you are not knocked off jumping lights at a junction.

We can't of course forget the pavement jumper. Hopping onto the pavement to pass the crossing, so not to wait for lights, before hopping back down the other side and carrying on along their merry way. Cheeky, yes, but also dangerous for pedestrians.

The funniest thing about these people, the ones too important or impatient to wait for lights is that they never seem to get anywhere. I commute on a single speed 46/16 heavy old steel bike, I am far from light either, and plod along at a leisurely 14mph average. However at least 75% of the people who jump lights etc to get ahead are not going hell for leather, and I in fact catch and pass them in a short time. Sometimes a few times in one journey. So what the hell is the point?

The bit I find most infuriating about this is the groups of cyclists who apparently spend a lot of their time riding about, but are completely blinkered to this sort of behaviour. Remember this blog entry is only about ONE behaviour, I will cover more another time.
Whenever there is an accident, cries of dangerous road users and conditions go out, but never accepting that sometimes, it is the exact behaviours discussed above, which have led to the accident.

I know from my own experience that there are some very dangerous drivers out there, in all sorts of vehicles. Only the other evening I had an articulated lorry over take me just going into a left hand bend. Thankfully I was aware of him, so backed out of it. Even more thankfully as I saw the trailer come in VERY close to the apex. I would have been hit for sure. So it's not all one sided, and I have never thought this.

If so much can go wrong when no one is even meant to be moving, imagine the stupid behaviour of some of these people when interacting with moving traffic. Something I will cover another time.

For now, cyclist, pedestrian, motorist. Keep your eyes open, and look at how different groups behave out there. Sadly there is no pattern of tell tale sign of how anyone is going to behave, so for now, treat them with caution.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Leisure cycling VS Commuter cycling.

Over recent weeks I have finally taken the step I have threatened to for a long time. I have dusted off the as yet unused Claud Butler Lombard St, single speed I bought last year. Slapped some Continental Gatorskin 25's on it, my collection of Lezyne lights, and my Garmin Edge 810, and started using it for the short commute to work.

I would love to say the decision was driven by my desire for a cleaner London, because of Sadiq Kahn's constant babble about it, but that just would not be true. Although it does indeed mean I am creating less pollution, and one extra parking space in SE16.

If there is one thing I am very conscious of when it comes to cycling, especially in London, it is visibility, and being seen. Wearing the right gear is key to me. Lycra is a necessary evil I'm afraid, and it is used shamelessly, daily! Hi-vis, reflective, lights, good helmet, and my new best friend, my Deuter Race Exp Air backpack. What a piece of kit it is. A commuter cyclists best friend.

Last year, when I started cycling lots, I became very engrossed in leisure road rides, solo and with friends, I covered 2,000 miles "just for fun". Whenever anyone asked why I didn't ride to work, the age old excuse of "the roads are too dangerous" was useless, as I was using them for most rides anyway. So a new excuse was invented. "It's not worth the time getting ready"
In fairness this is a valid point, especially when getting ready for a long road ride, but with a few tweaks, it's actually not too bad.

Swapping bib shorts for undershorts, and topping them with overshorts. Having most things for the ride pre-packed into my backpack and saddle bag. The simplicity of a single speed, and the lack of cleats, means I can almost just get on and go. As long as I have a change of clothes at the other end of course. And so it begun.

With a couple of test rides to find a route and my rhythm, I felt I was ready to take on the commute daily First few days were exhausting. While not a long ride, it's a shock to get up from a desk and ride, especially early days. A few weeks in, and its all good fun.

Given that the ride to work is now only about 17 mins (5 Miles), my old excuse about the time to get ready is still valid. It would be pointless almost. But as it is getting easier, I have become more adventurous about the routes I take, adding more and more miles to both directions. A 10 mile round trip can now be up to 25 miles long. Still room to add to that of course, but early days. It has also driven me to a whole new collection of challenges I didn't even know existed.

So there it is, I now commute to work, Yay!
However, this isn't where the story ends. In fact, I am just getting started.

For years, not being a cyclist, I always has the bad experience bias, light jumpers, traffic weavers, lane hoggers. Bloody cyclists! But as I started riding for fun, and spending more time on the roads, I soon realised that there are A LOT of excellent, polite and considerate cyclists out there. Amongst the idiots of course. So now I knew about road cycling, especially in London, right?

WRONG!
It turns out that the time of day I usually ride for fun, is a totally different time of day to the "rush hour". So I thought I would add some observations here.

First up, a small group of commuter cyclists are frickin diabolical! No attention to traffic lights, rights of way, and no respect for other road users. Riding dangerously, and putting other cyclists at risk, with their weaving in and out of traffic, sudden direction changes, and unpredictable actions.

One thing I observed on Jamaica Road the other day, coming onto the roundabout was the utter chaos that occurs when a group of commuter cyclists reach an impasse in the road. Stationary traffic, 3 lanes, and onto the roundabout too. What was the chosen action? SCATTER ! A cluster of 10-15 cyclists, all taking different routes. Any motorist sitting in that would have been overwhelmed as to where to look to check it was safe to proceed. The same scene  can be found at multiple bottlenecks on London's roads. Another is the Old Kent Road, the same thing happens. And I can tell you from a motorists point of view, it is horrible to sit there, looking in all your mirrors, wondering when it will be safe to go.

I guess in some ways you can compare it to the same attitude with motorists. At a certain time of day, it becomes everyone for their own, and no one really cares about the next persons journey. Difference is, do that in a car, hit another and you end up with an insurance claim. Do the same on a bike and it is totally different. Come off on a busy road in the rush hour, and you will do well not to be hit by a motor vehicle. Jostling for position, nudging people out of your way, not giving other cyclists space as you decide to pass them and pull in front of them. These are just a few things I see as a commuter, but less so as a leisure cyclist, unless in a Sportive (then it gets a little tasty).

The thing is, from experience, the difference between a good run to work or home, and a "slow" one, is usually a few minutes at best. Are you really telling me you are willing to die, be injured, or harm someone else for 3 minutes? If so, you are pathetic!
When I see news of cyclists being killed on London's roads, these are the first group of people who spring to my mind. Mindless idiots, willing to jump lights, and skip across a busy, moving junction, because they are more important than anyone else!

The other group are the ones who should really not be on the road. The wanders. Meandering along the roads and pavements, carefree, headphones on, in their own little world. Blissfully unaware of anyone else using the roads, so just rolling out in front of other road users, making no progress whatsoever, and sitting between a lorry and a bus in traffic, completely unaware of their impending doom.

I know not all accidents are the cyclists fault, in fact I am not sure I would ever care to guess which party is usually found responsible for the accidents. But having seen the risks some are willing to take to get past a single vehicle, I am certain there is a percentage which is cyclist fault.
Personally I will not filter between large vehicles unless they are stationary, AND I can clearly see that there is no possibility of them moving in the time it takes me to pass them. In traffic I consider myself courteous towards other road uses.....Unless of course they act like a dick. Take yesterday for an example ... Close call!

There have been a couple of occasions now where I have come close to an accident, which I would consider not my fault (not that that would change my injuries should a collision have occurred).
There is the above incident, where an elderly driver taking a turn into a restricted area, read the wrong traffic signal and pulled across my path, but remained convinced I was in the wrong.
And a few days before in Blackheath where someone pulled onto a roundabout from my left causing me to swerve. After shouting at her, she caught me up, asked me to repeat myself, then refused to apologise (even though she said she had planned to) as she didn't like the tone of my comment. Apparently you are meant to be jovial and happy when someone almost knocks you off your bike.

In the past few week, due to things happening out there, I have made some changes to my bike. Upgrading the brake calipers to Shimano 5800 105, and changing the rear pads to SwissStop. Give me that extra little chance of stopping when the next idiot comes along.

All in all, given that I have previously said that commuting on bike would not be enjoyable, I have really enjoyed it. I love finding different routes to ride to add the miles up, and have to say it is really keeping me on my toes. Not to mention that Strava and Relive are working overtime to produce all my ride data for me. I do love a Relive video.
So I will continue to ride to work, and might even take one of the other bikes at some point to see if I can beat some of my single speed times. Carefully of course.

One other thing, using a single speed daily is a real eye opener, showing you what you can really do without dropping down the gears, if you really put your mind to it. More about that another time though.

Til then, safe cycling people, and communist commuters, calm your arses down!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fuckwits who should not be driving!

OK, I think the title says where this is going, so let me get started. First off, this little picture. Edited to make my rant about today, easier to understand.


So let me explain. This morning I was travelling to work past Lewisham Hospital, in the same direction at this lovely cyclist as shown on Google Maps, in fact, in almost the EXACT same place when it all started.

Where shall we begin. Bottom left of the picture is a turn right lane which filters from the main flow of traffic heading towards Catford. As pointed out by the 4 red arrows, this is an AMBULANCE ONLY entrance. Usually boxy looking vans, yellow in colour, with lots of flashing lights on them, and generally have a sign saying AMBULANCE on them. Glad I got that bit covered!

So, this morning as I rode alone, just like the guy under the three red arrows, I saw a gold Honda Civic pull into the turn right lane. Happy that he had seen me, and was now stationary, I continued to pedal. As I entered the box junction, to my amazement he started pulling forwards. I hit the brakes and swerved hard left, just clearing the front of his car safely. As I passed, I heard him shout something. Now stationary myself from the emergency manoeuvre I decided to go and make enquiries.

Walking into the AMBULANCE ONLY entrance, I found him stopped diagonally across the area, ready to drop someone off. So I walked over and asked what he wanted to say, and ask him why he had just done what he did. To which he replied, "you jumped a red light".

So back to the picture for a moment.
Mid left, you can see traffic lights on green, with a blue arrow pointing at them. To their right, you can see another crossing, which for obvious reasons (being on the other side of the road) you CANNOT see the lights for. Divided by a zig zag island, these crossings are NOT connected sequence wise, they are independent crossings.

When the Civic driver informed me I had jumped a red light, it turns out he was using the crossing on the left as guidance to what the crossing on the right was doing, and decided it was his right of way to enter an ambulance only entrance.
Worrying enough as it is, but then add to it that he felt he was at liberty to run a cyclist over because in his opinion, they had jumped a red light. I wonder if the same attitude would have been taken with a fully loaded dump truck?

The moral of this story is simple.
DON'T assume! As either party, proceed with caution as you can never tell what the other party will do next.
Thankfully, since I started commuting by bike, I have really started to understand the plight of the careful cyclist more. Sod the light jumping, lane hopping, jackasses who make others look bad. But there are some serious dangers out there. Something I will cover soon in another entry.

But for now, I'm still here, the Civic drive is still as obnoxious and convinced as he was earlier, and hasn't learnt a thing from this morning, other than some cyclists are happy to have a polite word (didn't swear once!) when someone behaves like a dick and endangers them.


Link to the actual road so you can see the full layout via Google StreetView
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.453042,-0.0164794,3a,87.5y,10.29h,86.4t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqb6R1Zc8uvAeN9S2-75qFQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

EDIT

Data from the moment he pulled across me... Nice speed to stop from. Thank heavens for SwissStop !


Monday, March 27, 2017

My cycling goals for 2017

In reality I should have written this a long time ago, but here we are 3 months into the year, and I am only just getting around to it. Probably for the best, given that I have missed over a month in the saddle for one reason or another. Leaving me already 234 miles down on my target for the year.

After last years achievement of a 2000 mile goal, and having taken lots of time off then too, I thought this year would be a good one to push it. So here are a few of my goals for 2017. This is not an exhaustive list, but probably IS exhausting!

Distance goal. 3000 miles
Elevation goal 150,000ft
Single ride goal +100miles
Commute goal average 75 miles per week (single speed)
Commute climb goal, 1000ft single ride (single speed)
Complete 4 Sportives (1 done already Reading)
250 miles in Spain (July)
Ride in a new country

So that is the basics. Obviously I would also like to improve my FTP also during this time. I am planning to re test my FTP in April when I have spent a bit more time in the saddle. Hopefully by the end of the year I will be at least 10% on last years.

EDIT
One plan to get 1000ft elevation in for the commute to work. Fun on a single speed.
https://www.strava.com/routes/8043742

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kallik, mid-week, Week 2

So it has really been a bit of a whirlwind ride over the past week and a half. Getting to know Kallik, monitor his behaviour and interactions with Aana and Tuvaaq, and get an action plan in my head.
At the end of last week it was clear that he is an energetic little thing, and needs to blow off steam before he calms down and walks nicely. That's fine, we have ways and means around that, and today was one of the exercises I had in mind to achieve that.
Once he is drained of energy, training can begin. No point before hand right now.



Last week we realised that Kallik has a dislike for things being placed around his neck. He has got used to the lead now, but the gencon is another matter. But we are getting there. Once it is on him, he walks much better without a shadow of a doubt. Hunters are my preference, easy on, easy off, and greater flexibility and control. The downside, an excited and determine dog coughs and splutters if it pulls too hard. Never nice.

To deal with the energy, and to allow him to play more in the park, but still under control, I bought a 10 metre rope tracking line to let him have some freedom on. When he approaches other dogs, it is gathered in so no tangling occurs. When alone, he can run free (within 10 metres!)

See vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyXhvGFjtn4


Today was the first time using it, and I have to say I didn't think it all out too well. Entering the park the gencon was removed and put in my pocket. As we got to the green I attached the line to his fixed collar, checked it was nice and secure, then lifted the hunter lead loop over his neck. First mistake, the 10m line was running through the middle of it, which meant each time I let more line out, I had to slide the hunter up the line. Doh!

He had great fun, running around, meeting other dogs and people, and slowly the energy level dropped. Time to do some closer lead work. Bringing him back to me, I slid the hunter all the way back down the line, and put it around his neck, then carefully detached the line from his collar. Gathering the line back up, I looked down and saw the handle of the hunter dragging along the floor behind him!!! S***!
I NEVER take the looped handle of a hunter off my wrist, but because of the earlier tangle, I had! Walking calmly after him, I closed in as he sniffed around a bench, reaching down with relief..... he took off!!
Now you see him.....



Now you don't!!
If you look past the two closest trees, there is a orange / yellow looking frame towards the right, he is just beyond that, with 3 other dogs, and 2 ladies.

He sped off across the park, me more mortified that he might scare someone more than anything, keeping calm I walked in the direction he was heading in. Thankfully, he had been playing with two black labs earlier while I spoke to their owner, so seeing Kallik arriving at their feet, will his lead dragging, even before I called over to them, the wonderful lady calmly reached down, took his lead up and walked back towards me. I am SO thankful, and I don't even know her name. But she is most definitely my favourite person in Mayow Park right now.

Other than that, all is going well, he walked beautifully on the lead all the way home, no gencon needed.



They are absolutely amazing together at home when left alone, and I cannot think of a better match for Tuvaaq and Aana. May the amazing times together last for many years.

In the meantime, I am slightly sore at myself for him getting away. It will NOT happen again!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kallik, the journey. One week on.

So it has officially been a week since he had his first full day at his new home. So I thought it was time for some updates for those interested, and of course some pictures. 

This time last week he went for his first proper walk on his own, and we discovered a few things. First and foremost, that his lead work is terrible, and he really needs some work there. And to add to it, he seemed very uncertain about things being placed over his head and around his neck. This was discovered after a lovely wrestling and biting session.  As for being on the lead, he is a puller, that is for sure. Some of that is the breed, some is lack of experience. The latter we can work with easily. 

Over the past week improvements have certainly been made, as tested and demonstrated this morning on a nice long walk, and visit to the park to socialise a bit more. Early on in the walks he is full of beans, so use of a gencon really helps restrict the pulling, and helps keep him in the right place. Simple device, and stops them choking themselves on a hunter lead. Aana and Tuvaaq have both been trained the same way. By mid walk, the energy levels have dropped and he is starting to calm down. At least to a point which I am happy with, for now. 

Around the house, things have calmed down a lot. Aana is still being a noisy little boss, while Tuvaaq has lost interest in the new kid, and just carries on about his business, unless of course Kallik attacks him playfully in his usual fashion. Sleeping arrangements are about as good as you can ever imagine. Even catching Aana and Kallik snuggled up one evening. Nice to see them so relaxed.

Feeding time is really no different to usual, just another mouth to feed, and another place to find for a dog to eat. They are fed separately to avoid any aggression. It is all over in the blink of an eye, then Aana collects up the bowls to clean them thoroughly.

One thing that has changed is the dynamic of walking time. There is the usual  excitement from Aana when leads appear, which has sadly led to Kallik copying her, that is something to work on. But there is now little to no vocalisation when one dog leaves the house. So clearly Kallik is worthy of being considered a pack member, and no one is left feeling left alone.

All in all things are working really well with him joining the family, and we can now officially say, we are hoping to go ahead with a full adoption in the coming weeks. So looks like at this point, that Kallik has officially found a forever home. By the end of next week, hopefully we can confirm this, and make the arrangements.

He is already VERY popular at the park when we go to socialise, with people making their way over to where we calmly sit, to make a fuss and introduce themselves and their dogs. Comments on his coat colour, questions on his breed, and shock and awe at the fact he is so big and still so young. It is lovely to having him interacting with so many people and dogs. The reason for sitting on a bench and waiting isn't being lazy, but to work on his excitement levels, and to try and reduce his drive to thunder over to other dogs. Letting people and dogs approach without him moving works very well. 

So, I will leave it there for now, but updates will follow for sure. 
So here are the pictures. 

Aana and Kallik having cuddles.

Sleeping in close quarters. Accepted in the pack.

Tummy tickle times.

Meeting new friends at the park.

Getting to know you. Not everyone quite so impressed.

Nice and relaxed. Both of us.

Ann and Kallik having a snuggle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Adopt a dog. Kallik, the journey.

Losing a pet is never nice, losing a dog even less so. Not that I have personally ever lost a dog to illness or had one PTS. However, having recently seen little Bailey bum deteriorate and slip away, realising that my two, Tuvaaq and Aaanga were getting on a bit, and that the day would come when I will lose one. Then what!
Having grown together, and become my perfect dogs, a little stupid, a bit grumpy, and a whole load of relaxed, I have always wondered what it would be like to start over. Not that I really want to think about losing either of them.

While looking online at rescue centres, to see if there would be a good companion for my sister and her kids after Bailey passed, I noticed Prince. http://alldogsmatter.co.uk/dogs/prince-7/ On All Dogs Matter.. Having only rescued from a Malamute rescue in the past, I must confess I had not heard of ADM until last week. But seeing Prince, an 11 month old Malamute Husky cross, I decided I had to find out more.

After seeing he needed a foster for the time being, and wondering what my two would think of a new addition, I thought what the heck, and got in touch. Being than mine are not very well socialised, and Mals are not known so much for their open arm welcomes to their established packs, it was always going to be interesting. But given my two are getting on, they have chilled, a bit!

After getting in touch, and arranging a visit to ADM at Southend Farm ( https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Southend+Farm/@51.6822663,0.0342225,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x47d8a02841b270a7:0xc703f531d47a1623!8m2!3d51.6822663!4d0.0364165 ) we set off on Saturday morning.

Initial introductions went really well, with Aana having a youthful dog to chase and bully again.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BRftxYHDlEn




A good walk, and some time chilling out in the pen, and we decided we would take him home for a trial foster period, with the view to offering him a forever home.
The journey home was the first challenge, would the dogs share THEIR car with a new dog? Well I guess the picture answers that one ... Jordan with Aana happily sitting across her.

Once home, the intro to the house was the main thing, as although things went well, and he was accepted in, it was time to establish a pecking order. Aana has always been the matriarch, and this isn't about to change any time soon. Kallik (the name Prince is known by now) and Aana will have many encounters for a long time yet, but he is learning to deal with them, and getting more comfortable around her.

Trying his luck with all 55kg of Tuvaaq  was always going to be interesting, and after once being very dominantly pinned in the house, they came face to face again in the garden. Resulting in this picture.

To say Kallik was taken aback is an understatement, but he is learning now. No one was harmed in this.

Over the evening we discovered more about his personality and history, but by the end of the night, and after a nice group walk, their first night at home was a quiet and settled one, with everyone finding their own spaces.



https://www.instagram.com/p/BRgyULAjo-f

This morning, Monday, the hard work begun, and some lead training and other bits that need addressing started. So off for a long walk, using a head collar too, we set about getting him sorted on a lead walk. Full of energy, I remember doing the same with Tuvaaq and Aana, so the pulling comes as no surprise at all. However that doesn't make things easier at all. He is a powerful little pup!

Off we went to the park, to socialise a bit, check out behaviour around strangers and other dogs of all shapes, temperaments and sizes. I am pleased to say all went well.

I will leave you with some pictures of the park trip for now, but will be sure to update.

Huge thanks to Ira, Sonia and Simon of www.alldogsmatter.co.uk for allowing all this to be possible.