2015.11.05

The Terrier Instinct

People often blame the faults or the wrongdoings of their dogs on the breed instincts. While we are no expert in other dog groups, we have a good grasp of the terrier group. Many owners like to say that their dogs are too stubborn, too active or just like a terrier, chasing every single moving object. A breed instinct is just the outer suit of a dog. All dogs have the same needs, they need to exercise and they need to eat. If you do not fulfil these needs, any dog regardless of the breed can act stubbornly and seem too active.

The Purer The Breed, The Stronger The Instinct
We once came across a book that states, the purer the breed, the bigger the instinct and after owning a few terriers of our own, we couldn’t agree more. Up till today, the breeding lines remains crucial to the working ability of many breeds. We once met a working Border Collie breeder and he mentioned that the working Border Collies are different from those that are in the show ring. While a conformation breeder will breed according to their aesthetics, a working dog breeder will breed according to their working abilities. With that said, it means that if you get your puppy with a working bloodline, very likely he will have a stronger breed instinct than one that comes from a pet shop or a conformation line.

You may notice that some terriers that comes from the pet shop will look like a terrier but behave nothing like a terrier. A dog can look like a terrier but behave, walk, play nothing like a terrier. If the dog’s parents, grand parents, great-grand parents have not felt the grass and have not been exposed to the outside world, how will they know what being a terrier is like? All that remains is that they look like one.

The Terrier Instinct
Terrier comes from the word terra in Latin. Terra means earth. So in other words, a terrier is an earth dog. In ancient history, terriers excel in hunting vermin, mole, rats and other pests that goes underground. They are small but sturdy, short legged but bold.

In modern days, the number of people that uses terriers to hunt is little, but the terrier instincts remain strong. From our observations, the terriers that come from a show kennel or a responsible breeder seemingly have stronger breed instincts. As an informative book about Westies states, if you follow the breed standards closely, you will not stray far from the breed. In our opinion, chasing bikes, skateboards does not equal to a terrier instinct. Rather, the ability to focus on a prey or a moving object and hunting it down or digging it out is the terrier instinct.

Many owners will be more than happy to have this behaviour eliminated. One way that many try to do is go through positive training to neutralise the hunting instinct. As far as we understand, with positive reinforcements, many behaviours can be eliminated or neutralise, but please do not quote us on this, it is entirely our personal opinion. It puzzles us to a certain extent, if you want a terrier, why will you want to neutralise what makes a terrier?

Most terriers when bred properly come with a certain level of prey drive, some higher than the others. There are many ways that the owners can keep the prey drives in control. While some wants it totally eliminated, we have met a few owners who have high prey drive terriers and are totally enjoying it. Agility, Flyball, Lure Coursing, Simply digging to no-where are a few methods that owners use to keep their dog breed’s instinct fulfilled.

So what makes a terrier?
We have come across a good number of dog owners or trainers who discourage us from getting new terriers simply because they can be hard to train, stubborn and possesses a high prey drive. But thats what spells terriers.  In our opinion, a terrier is confident, bold and independent. He stands tall, is focus and is generally sociable and friendly, but he will not back down when being attacked.

We do not have very well trained dogs nor the best trained terriers. Our dogs do not walk by our side when they are being off-leashed. They do not heel when called. They do not stay for long. But we have no intention to train them to do any of that. Our main priority is that they come to us when being called. A hunting dog cannot hunt when he is always by your side. A herding dog cannot herd when he is always by your side. Although there are only pathetic small little patches of grassland in Singapore, still, we like to keep them as close to mother nature as we can. Our dogs chase the squirrels and many times we shamelessly allow them to do so. What matters to us is that they get to enjoy like terriers while we hold the ability to stop them when needed. Once off leashed, our dogs go to god-knows-where, roll on god-knows-what but, they come when they are called and they only chase after what we allow them to chase. Most of the times we are also very careful with the group of dogs they mingle with, for we always believe that you do not need to greet every single dog, but you need to greet the right dog. This is also why we seldom visit the dog parks and needless to say play-groups.

Once you have fallen in love with a terrier, it is always going to be a terrier.

2015.07.23

Travelling with your pets

We received a lot of enquiries ever since we travelled with the boys to UK last year and even more after our Europe Trip. The most common question we receive is HOW TO travel with dogs. This post will serve as a short guide to those who are interested in travelling with dogs.

BEFORE LEAVING SINGAPORE
Before leaving for the other country, first of all, you need AVA’s export permit. This permit is valid for 1month. Depending on the country you are visiting, you will need to find their importing documents and fill them up. Most of the time, you will need the local vets’ help to fill in and have in signed by them. At the same time, your dog also needs valid vaccinations and this includes rabies shots. Lastly, 2-7days before you leave, you need to get your dog treated for internal and external parasites by the local vets and have a health certificate issued by them, then, make your way to AVA to have everything endorsed by them. You will need to obtained an import permit for certain countries.

BEFORE RETURNING TO SINGAPORE

Now this is a lot more tricky. Before coming back to Singapore, again, you need an import permit from AVA. You will also need to fill up the importing documents issued by AVA. These documents need to be filled up by the local vets from the country that you are returning from, and you will need to get the documents endorsed by their local government authorities. There is NO WAY, you can enter Singapore without that document. Depending on the country that you are departing from, you MAY also need exporting documents from that country. Again, your dog will need to be treated for internal and external parasites, and must have valid vaccinations. Follow the importing documents closely, you may also need to have a rabies serology test result with you. All these can be done by a pet travelling agent. However, it does not come cheap, and your dog will need to be with them for a minimum of 2 days.

QUARANTINE
There will be no quarantine period if you depart from Singapore to most of the countries around the world, except for New Zealand or Australia. However, you dog will need to serve a quarantine period if you are travelling back from countries outside of Category A or B.

WHAT TO PACK
We packed light for the dogs, as they are really easy to manage. Their documents and pet passports are always with us at all times. We packed a bottle of Hoki Oil for them, a few packets of treats, tick-spray, some rags or towels to lay them over the rented car. We also packed their collars and leash, do not let them have their collar and leash when they are in the plane, you might not get it back when you pick them up at the airport. A travel bowl is a must, our dogs eat raw meats, so we get their food as we pass by supermarkets, saved us a lot of trouble packing their food. We also packed Fur Refresh Dry Shampoo and a small comb, we used it twice throughout the trip. We did not come across any grooming salons, so you will not be able to groom your dog there, and it can be very troublesome to shower them along the way. Raincoats can come in handy if you are travelling during the raining season. They also sleep in their crates, so there was no need to bring their beds. If the hotel is too small for 3 crates, we let them sleep around the floor, they figure out their own sleeping spots.

* You will need to clean, vacuum, tape, do whatever you can, to get the dog hair out of the rented car. Most car rental company will not allow customers with dogs to rent the car, and if they do, they will check it very thoroughly when you return the car.

WHAT TO PREPARE PRIOR TO THE TRIP
First of all, make sure your dog is in good health. And by good health, we mean in every aspect. Flying can be stressful for them, and once they land, they will get checked through thoroughly by the local authorities. If any documents are missing, or if they are found to be unhealthy, this includes any skin issues or scratching, they can be deported back immediately. And this works both ways. When you return to Singapore, it also takes a few hours to clear the dogs from the custom. It took more than 5 hours for the customs to check through and clear our dogs in the UK. EU was a lot quicker, but do note that the boys travelled with the EU Pet Passport. If you do not have it, it might take longer than expected. They have to be declared correctly, they have to appear as described, they have to be free from any diseases and most of all, they have to look healthy.


Secondly, make sure your dog is crate trained. Our dogs love their crates, they sleep and eat in their crates. And this makes it all the more easier to travel with them. They take long car rides in their crates without any problem, and even after a 17hour flight, their crates remain clean.

HOW FRIENDLY ARE THE LOCALS TO THE DOGS

I would say, very friendly. Dogs travel almost everywhere in Europe and similarly in UK. There are of course certain restrictions such as they are not allowed in churches, museums or certain shopping malls. The locals are also very friendly towards dogs, very often we find ourselves engaging in small talks with strangers about our dogs, kids run towards them and start hugging and patting them, both locals and tourists bring out their cameras to take a few snapshots of them along the way. However, do take note that the dogs in Europe and in the UK, are VERY well behaved. Through our whole trip, yes both trips, all the dogs we came across are walking right beside their owners, or sitting by their sides as they take their dinner. Most of the dogs, are not anxious nor nervous in meeting other dogs, they even brush pass our dogs as if they were invisible. It is as though strangers walking pass each other in our everyday’s life. How amazing is that.

THINGS TO TAKE INTO SERIOUS CONSIDERATIONS
Back in Singapore we get to leave them at home or in daycare centres while we run errands or go for work. Then we return to walk the dogs, feed the dogs. In weekends, most of us get to spend more time with them, we bring them to pet cafes, dog parks to have fun. All in all, most of us spend just a few hours during daytime with our dogs. However, when we are travelling with dogs, we spend almost 24/7 with them, wonderful, but there are also certain things that we need to take into considerations.

1) You may need to leave your dog alone in the hotel room while you do some sightseeing. (They need to be in crates in most hotels if left alone)

2) There are times that you may need to walk around with your dog the whole day just because your hotel is too far to return to. Make sure your dog is physically ready for that.

3) Locals and tourists alike, are very friendly. However they will not ask if your dog is friendly as dogs overseas are very friendly. They will hug/pat/grab your dog without permission. Make sure your dog is friendly.

4) Car or train rides from city to city, country to country often takes more than just 1 or 2 hours. Make sure your dog is ready for long rides or you will find yourself taking a much longer time to reach your destination.

5) Most of us travel with dogs hoping to visit nature parks and gardens as they are bigger and better than what we have in Singapore. And most of the time we want our dogs to be able to explore the new terrains and have fun. But parks and gardens overseas are amazing huge and do not have fences, there are no dog parks. If your dog runs away when unleashed, I doubt you will be able to find him ever again.

PERSONAL TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1) Always have some small change with you, in some countries, the waiters and waitresses ask for tips and will not let it go until you give it to them.

2) Beware of scam artists in Italy.

3) We always travel by the best available flight time and duration. However, we find that KLM has been a wonderful airline, and we highly recommend it.

4) DO NOT rent your car from Europcar. If you remember back on our 2nd trip post, we mentioned that we met with an accident. Our side mirror on the driver’s side got knocked off by a Hotel’s porter in Prague.The Hotel manager tried all ways to contact Europcar, Switzerland, but no one was there to pick up the phone even though it was during opening hours. They tried the following days and with 4 different numbers given by Europcar, none worked. We tried the online helpline, the operator was responsive, BUT HE WAS IN US! Like seriously?

Following few days, Europcar Prague, Europcar Budapest, Europcar Italy, we visited, tried all of them, they can not exchange a car nor fix the car because Europcar Switzerland did not issue the email and they were STILL not responsive.

During these periods, we have had a few phone calls with them, once in a while, they said yes they will arrange a replacement car, once in another while they said maybe they can arrange if we travel to this garage, another once in a while they said no they cannot replace the car.

And this, is the most amazing conversation we had with their MANAGER.

MANAGER: We cannot replace your car because you drove it out of the region and it is not covered by insurance.

US: What region? We were not informed of any region or insurance when we rented the car. (The desk operator at Europcar was not helpful nor keen to explain nor did he explain anything at all, we signed a paper that shows the car, the price and everything else was NOT IN ENGLISH)

MANAGER: You are not suppose to drive the car into Eastern Europe. (Referring to Prague)

US: But no one explained or told us that, who will travel to Europe and only stay in Switzerland? Europe is so big, everyone wants to travel around it.

MANAGER: You can not expect us to explain the rules and regulations to every single customer.

US: We can’t expect you to do explain, but you expect every SINGLE customer to know that?

MANAGER: silence….

WOW Europcar, just WOW.

Our recommendations, Enterprise. We have rented cars from them, and the service is wonderful, the help is excellent, the car is fabulous, and Enterprise is the one you want if you are travelling in Europe or in UK.


In conclusion, travelling with dogs can be an amazingly experience for both human and dog, however proper preparations need to be done well beforehand to avoid any trouble.
* If you are wondering why we only travel with 3 of the boys, the other 2 boys are senior dogs. We do not want to risk anything, and seriously, honestly, they are more than happy to not be involve in the trips. And they are SUPER happy to be away from these crazy teenage boys once in a while to get some peace and quiet around the house.

If there are any points or concern that you are interested in, but we’ve not covered, feel free to email us.

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2015.07.12

3220km, Europe Trip to the END

Europe Trip Part 1 – LINK

Europe Trip Part 2 – LINK

I had originally planned to be a good boy and write about my Europe trip every week. But the humans have been so busy that they didn’t have any free time to help me upload my photos! Anyway, to continue from where we left off, we said goodbye to our family and our hometown and head to Italy!

To Italy, we had 1 mission, well, not me but my brothers had 1 mission! That is to take on the World Dog Show 2015! If you know us, you know that both my brothers enter the show ring in Singapore quite often! Although they did not do as well as they should have, they are fantastic show dogs! Why the World Dog Show you may ask, read on to find out!

Before going to Milan for the World Dog Show, we drove 7hours from our hometown to Venice, The City of Romance.

Venice is one of the most raved about travel destinations in Italy and we absolutely agree with that. However we did not see anything ‘special’ about the city. No doubt its beautiful, the humans and us find it too crowded for their likings. We were there on a weekday, and there was not 1 quiet spot that we can sit down to enjoy the views. Still, we managed to take lots of photos!

‘How often do you get to travel to Venice!’, said the human. The result of this sentence? A ton of photos.

After leaving Venice, we head on to Milan! Definitely one of the most anticipated part of the trip. Milan, in short, crazy traffic, delicious food. The humans think that, throughout the whole trip, and out of all destinations, Milan has the best food.

Our main purpose to stop by Milan was so that my brothers can take part in the World Dog Show 2015. My brothers take part in the Singapore Dog Shows every now and then, well pretty often I would say, but they have had very little luck in winning, and the humans want to know why.

There are of course many correct dogs in Singapore, but so are my brothers. The bad thing about Singapore Dog Shows is that, there is only 1 All-Breed Judge for the whole show. Meaning that there is pretty much 0 chance that you will get a West Highland Terrier Specialist or as a matter of fact, a specialist of any breed. Every judge has their specialty, some specialise in Poodles, some in Golden Retrievers and so on. So in general, there is a high chance that your dog may not be judged correctly or fairly and more so if you have a special breed. Did you know, once my brother Klaus, got graded as Very Good, instead of Excellent just because another dog has already gotten Excellent? (Yes, I like to rant, because I do not see the fairness in this, why can’t both dogs be excellent if they are both excellent?!)

The humans know that my brothers are correct, with lovely coats and they want to know if the judge at the World Dog Show agrees with them. Its not about winning, but more about an assurance of they know and what they are doing is correct. Just in case you are wondering, the Judge at the World Dog Show is from one of the most renown West Highland Kennel in the UK or even, in the world! She is also the reason that they are willing to travel so far.

Before we head to the World Dog Show, the humans brought us to Lake Como. The road up to Lake Como was a nightmare, the roads were so hard to drive, the humans got headaches and we were whining like little chickens at the back of the car. We had a little round of ball chasing around the Lake and had to leave early because of the rain. I was a little down because of that, I can definitely take on the rain! But before dog shows, my brothers’ coat are precious. Usually a few days before shows, the human try to keep them clean, and after the show, its CHAOS TIME!

We reached the Milan EXPO early in the next morning! After some preparations, they are finally ready to enter the ring along with all the other world class westies! Now, the humans are absolutely proud to say that they think my brothers fit right into the whole line up!

One of my brothers, Klaus came in 5th out of all the fantastic dogs in the ring. Of course we were praying so hard that he would come in 4th, but 5th is just as good enough for us. (because 4th place he gets to be photographed!)

The humans got a chance to speak to the judge personally a week after the show, and in her own exact words, ‘There was some very strong competition at the world dog show and I know I graded your dogs excellent so I obviously did not think they had any major faults and were excellent examples of the breed. Both were super presentation and a credit to you. I think the grooming and handling are first class no problems there.  Lovely coats. I am surprised you do not win more in Singapore. In Milan you were against the very best. Please let me know how you do in Singapore shows.’ These words right here, made their day and made the travel all worth it. It just further assured the humans and gave the a huge confident boost knowing that a West Highland Terrier specialist feels the same way about my brothers and thinks that the handling, grooming and overall presentation is first class.  Now back to the point, why didn’t my brothers win more in Singapore? They don’t know, I don’t know, nobody knows..

Anyway, the show was a blast! We even had the chance to meet the 2015 World Winner, and boy he was STUNNING.

There were also several booths around but they were not so impressive and things weren’t cheap too. But on the other hand, we got to meet many new friends, and the human managed to carry a new grooming table with wheels all the way from Milan to Singapore. Yes, just because there are wheels. 

After the WDS2015, we graced the beautiful city! We visited the beautiful Milan Cathedral, we shopped at the Galleria, and we went back home with Subway!

Milan is our 2nd last country to visit in Europe. Switzerland, where we came from, will be the last. What is Switzerland famous for other than chocolates and cheese? The Swiss Alps of course! During the trip planning, I was a little sad to find out that Jungfraujoch did not allow dogs. But the humans managed to find the Romantik Hotel all the way up in Mouttas Muragl, Samedan! The room we stayed in had an open roof terrance with a view of the city and beautiful mountains!

While we are all cited about going to Samedan, Switzerland, the humans were sad that they had to leave Milan. They tasted the most delicious pasta, Gelato and Kebab. 

Switzerland is our last stop, going to Samedan means we only had a few days left in Europe. 

In order to let us enjoy our last leg of the trip to the fullest, the humans allowed us to roll in the snow! It was our first time with that much snow, and I’m sure many dogs in Singapore are jealous of us!

Travelling in June was one of the worse time to travel in Europe as it was getting hotter and hotter. Thankfully, at Samedan, weather was fantastic! At an elevation of 2454m, the views were breathtaking!

Although it did rain quite a lot, but now that we are at the last leg of the trip, we get to go out in the rain! As much as the humans hated our wet coat, they decided to let it go for once. We went around the whole mountain in our power ranger raincoats!

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Then we slide 15storeys down just to take a look at the fast flowing river! I was all muddy sliding down 15storeys but I managed to get my paws clean in just 1s! Thats how fast the water is flowing!


Chilling outside our room terrace.

We spent two memorable nights in Samedan before leaving to Zurich for two more nights then back to Singapore. 


This is our last stop. The largest waterfall in europe, Rhine fall. 

It was hard to say goodbye to this beautiful Continent, but it was time to go home.

We climbed the mountains, drove the highways, tasted the best pasta, met our beautiful family members, chatted with the locals, got cheated by the immigrants, met an car accident, chased the mountain squirrels, joined the world dog show, played in snow, paid a lot but squeezed in a small hotel, paid a lot and stayed like kings and queens and dragged a grooming table across the country.

19 days, 6 countries, 11 cities, 1 family reunion, 1 world dog show, 1 team, 3 dogs, 3220km, we conquered Europe.

 -Brother J