Tuesday, 29 December 2015

December bush trip - days 3 to 6 and pics

Sorry it's a bit delayed but I had to go through my pics...

Bush day 3

This morning I did my usual routine of doing dishes and waking slowly. Slowly the others woke up and the kids found themselves in the lounge investigating the presents by he tree. They tried to guess each and every gift. I told them them that everything was chocolates and that if they kept looking at the presents, the monkeys will take them!

After a slow start to the day we headed off to the pool area - considering the forecasted temperatures, it was the perfect day to relax by the pool!! I was unable to find my costume when I packed my clothes in Jozi so I dressed in comfy running clothes which I knew I could swim in. The day was spent swimming and relaxing around the pool area with a braai for lunch.

At around 4pm we went for a drive. I cannot explain the heat!! It was around 42 degrees Celsius so everytime you stopped you nearly melted. At first we did not see much but then we started seeing plenty elephant, impala, kudu, jackal, warthogs, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra! At one dam we sat and watched some elephant drink then watched as a small warthog family wallowed in the water. Was cute to see. We then ambled home and were fortunate to see the lion again! Was a great to see them so clearly. 

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on the deck and the kiddies finally got to open their presents!!

Bush day 4

We had a nice, slow start to the day today. Reading, playing games with the kids and just chilling. We then prepared the annual feast. Lamb, gammon, salads and more!!! We totally stuffed ourselves full of yummy foodies. My cousin, his wife and kids headed off to the pool whilst the rest of us attempted an afternoon nap. I was so restless!! It was so hot that I felt like I was swimming in sweat.

My cousin etc came across lions on their way back so as soon as they arrived we packed up and went for a drive to see the lions and hopefully try find a leopard. The lions were awesome to see and we had a good sighting of them just lazing around. We then ambled towards the bridge where we had hoped to have a drink. Haha, good joke! An elephant was in the way so we headed home where we had a chilled evening.

As we were heading off to bed, my cousin and I had to get the plastic snake out of he freezer when we realized the gas had run out so at just after 11pm here we were with torches trying to get gas bottles switched and fridges and freezers on again. Fortunately, other than my cousin's wife being pranked with a cold plastic snake in her bed, the evening was uneventful.

Bush day 5

Today was awesome!! It started with coffee and washing dishes (of course) and then the kiddies slowly woke up and I had to play with them as promised - although I would have killed to go read. Once everyone was awake and fed, we headed off to do a drive on Olifants North. North is pretty but you don't see much and it's exhausting driving because it's up and down and is rocky. We did see a fair bit of Impala, giraffe and also a few elephant. The first elephant we passed were opposite our house and we had to turn and go the other way. We had seen them chase cars the day before so knew they were not happy elephant!! We then headed to a dam where we found elephant and tried taking the road next to the one but he got a bit too curious about us and we could not go that way. So long way around we went...

Lunch was a nice simple meal of cold meat. I then opted to rather snooze and read instead of go swim. Was actually nice to spend an afternoon glued to my book for a change. Ok, and watching elephant and hippo at the river.

My cousin them told us that on their way home an elephant had charged them. It's not so entertaining getting so many elephant charging at us. 

The evening was spent relaxing on the deck chatting and enjoying a great meal. As much as I miss my furkids, I think I needed this trip. Lots of laughs and relaxing. 

Bush day 6 - the long road home and some reflection...

I got up as per usual but instead of doing dishes, I reached for the book I am reading whilst having my coffee - Mom had said I must not do dishes, she would do them. I sat and enjoyed the sights and sounds of a glorious bush morning whilst the others slowly stirred.

Once everyone was up and about, I got ready to leave. Because my cousin wanted to leave later than me, I was taking the landie which Mom would collect later. Once packed and ready I said my farewells and hit the road. As I drove towards main camp, I reflected on the year, on this trip and on my adventuring. Something I realized that this was one of the few trips I had done solo and that it was quite awesome. It showed me that I do not need others to do adventures with (although this was great in that the adventure was to another adventure) but that company was always good if around. The new year is going to be very different as I have so much I want to do and of course, my big ride. One thing I have learnt over all these years is: do not let anything hold you back from your dreams. If you want to do something, make it happen!

Anyway, all good things come to an end but fortunately for me, this trip ended on a bonus note: as I was approaching the first exit gate, I came across a herd of buffalo crossing the road. I spent ages watching them as it was a final awesome treat.

Hopefully my Saturday plans will turn into an adventure. Until then... Adventure safe.

Chilled elephant 

Lazy lioness (one of the 2 that we refer to as Dumb and Dumber). It was so hot that even they were struggling!

One of the Dumb and Dumber clan heading off.

The other member of Dumb and Dumber looking very skinny!

Full moon

Lots of baby Impala around!!

Also plenty baby baboons!!

Dumb and Dumber clearly managed to hunt! Both were happy to chill at the dam whilst cars came and went.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

December bush trip - days 1 and 2

Bush day 1

I am shattered!! Yesterday was a long day of running around that started early. The one awesome part of the day was meeting the owner of Cosmic Pets when I got my 2XL (yes, Hayley is that tall and KD is that cute that they need the space of a huge crate). I also got to spend some quality time with my 2 best friends. Our morning walk was an awesome one where they ended up forcing me to run - I discovered I can run and drink a hot chai tea!!

Dogs bonding in their new crate.

We didn't sleep well last night as I was hot and restless. At 12 I got up and tried to sleep on the couch but KD would have none of it. He made me so uncomfortable that I had to go back to bed. By this time I had both dogs in my bed. I got an hour or so and at 2am I was up having coffee, showering and packing. At 2:40 I sorted the dogs out with treats and their breakfast and water and by 2:50 I was out the door and on my way to the farm!!

The road out of Jozi seemed longer than normal. That half hour took forever!!!! And the roads were relatively busy. The next hour and a half was filled with trucks so was busy but I settled into finding a radio station, found a comfortable speed and enjoyed the quiet darkness.

I hit Belfast as it got light so pulled in at the garage for a loo break and also to get a red bull for later.

The next part of the road was not too bad. A few trucks but I was able to maintain a happy speed. Belfast, Dullstroom and Lydenburg were still very much asleep when I drove them!!! The road from Lydenburg to the Pilgrims Rest turn off was scary!! I was able to maintain a good speed but the potholes were bad. There after it was ok and I went over the Abel Erasmus and Strydom Passes with few sightings of other cars. The road to Hoedspruit was uneventful and I used it as a chance for a loo break and to get more coffee. I had made it from home in just under 5 hours which is good going.

A bit of slow driving on the Lydenburg road...

The next part felt really long!! After having cruised at 120 I now had to take it easy on the dust road. I saw the usual lions in the camp, lots of kudu, a few Impala and and elephant on my way in. My car was finally on the farm! When we got it, Dad wanted me to have a car that could comfortably bring me here and 3 or 4 years after buying it, it was finally doing its first farm trip.

I got to the camp and Meagan was there after her surprise at how early I was,  and quickly sorted where my car must go and for someone to take me to the house, so Lukas and I quickly sorted moving my stuff into the bakkie and he took me to the house and quickly unlocked it before leaving me to settle in. 

Got to the house around 9:30 which meant for what would turn out to be a long wait!! I sat around, fiddled with my camera, tried to read, walked around a bit and eventually they arrived. Mom was beyond surprised to see me! Admittedly I was quite surprised to see the look of shock on her face so I rushed up to the car when I could see she was struggling to open the door. She kept asking me what I was doing here!!

Was a worth-it adventure complete!! Thank you to everyone involved in the planning and organizing etc of this!

The rest of the hot afternoon was spent unpacking, sorting and relaxing. The evening was magical. 2 lions started roaring across the river from us and we were able to see the one big male. They roared their hearts out until long after we went to sleepy. I went off to dreamland knowing I would have to post this in the morning...

Day 2....

This morning I woke up earl as normal and did my usual quiet routine of making coffee and washing dishes. The others eventually emerged and mom made a yummy fruit salad with toast for breakfast before heading out. 

The drive was fairly uneventful with a lots of general game. And a few nice sized warthogs with a baby. Part of the reason for the drive was to meet my cousin, his wife and kids and fetch them. We quite timeously came across them on the railway road so the kids and Bianca jumped onto the landie with us. After transferring their luggage we headed home to unpack their stuff have lunch and relax before our evenings drive.

The evening drive was eventful. As we headed towards Pels Loop we heard of some elephant that were on the road but from what we understood, it was further away so we headed down to that road. We had not even gone down the slope to the river (fortunately) when we saw a young elephant heading up the road towards us so we turned around and headed out for a different route than planned. Sunset drinks were enjoyed at a view point looking over a dam where we saw elephant, Impala, wildebeest and zebra. It was really stunning. Then we heard the call! Lions near Kudu drive. So, we grabbed everything and jumped on the landie and headed to watch the lion. 

They were happily walking in the road and 2 vehicles kindly let us drive in front for a bit. After a while the lions veered off to the left and I said to everyone that I needed someone to shine towards our right as I had seem something big cross the road. We drove a bit on and a vehicle drove past us and then decided to turn around. Well, there 2 ladies got the surprise of their life because they turned right into the elephant!! The elephant started heading towards them and mom said I must pass these ladies but they said I must stop. I stopped and they got safely away from the large but not huge elephant. We drove in a bit following the lions and a vehicle behind us got charged by the elephant. This had them fairly close to behind us when I heard their landie' engine change tune and my uncle and cousin shout to me to drive. The elephant was charging the vehicle behind us again and the vehicle didn't shout or anything to get us to move but we moved!! My family said after that the elephant was really close to the other vehicle when it charged again. I think the elephant was not really a grumpy lumpy but rather It was just not happy that the lions were around. The vehicles were just an added irritation.

We then decided to head home the long way around to avoid the elephant but my gut feeling was telling me we were heading towards another elephant but I kept silent with this thought. Guess what... I was right!! As I was about to take a corner, here was a mommy and her tiny baby. I quickly reversed a bit. We could hear the other elephant near us and mom told me to drive past the elephant and her baby. I was happy to wait for her to move off rather as she was right on the edge of the road and honestly, I am a bit nervous of elephant at night. So, I asked if anyone else was prepared to take over the driving and my cousin happily did so. We sat and watched for a while and we watched as one elephant on our right was aware of us but not phased. Then it came around the tree if was eating and it suddenly didn't like us being there!! My cousin reacted swiftly and drove on towards the mother elephant and her baby. In reality, not an ideal situation but we had no choice as we had an elephant coming at us from the side but more by our back so we had to move. He approached the mom, revved the engine a bit and she hightailed it! Baby also reacted and nearly hit the tree it was standing by. The kids on the vehicle were all screaming and the adults all a tad nervous. But, we past the elephant mom with a meter or 2 between us and the elephant at the back at some time after we moved past the mom and baby gave up chase.

We got home safely and enjoyed a relaxing end to the day... 

Today is Day 3 that I am finally posting this so guess I better post some of this info before the rest of the family wakes up and we start our next adventure filled day! Hopefully today I will take more pictures so you don't just have reading in the next few days...

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

More adventures and lessons learned

Even though it's just a few days after our last posting, we have been busy adventurers.

Yesterday I entered my next big personal adventure. In end June 2016 I will be doing a race called "Ride the Berg". I am nervous because I have not done a big race since Liege. But, it's a great chance to get fit again. I am looking forward to a great and fun adventure. So watch this space for how I get fit.

My goal this time is to have a bit more balance though. Which brings me to the next part of my adventure. The dogs and I have been on a major mission to get fit and today we explored Saint Stithians. Have been there before but this was the first time in years!! And it was as good a walk as ever. It's such a nice, varied walk that includes brilliant bird life, varied terrain and a good workout. The walks thus far have really been good bonding sessions and remind me that a good walk is awesome for dogs. Their brains work with every new scent and step. My dogs are so tired but so happy at night. The pups and I have a stronger bond than ever.

This week I have also gotten back to my studies and I am reading up on crate training. It's interesting to read because until a few months ago, I thought crates were cruel. I got a Cosmic Pets playpen a while back and although it did not suit the purpose I wanted it for, it's turned out to be the best piece of furniture ever!!! It not only contains the exploding pillows but is also a sanctuary for the dogs. When there are storms, they go there, when they want to nap, they go there, when they have a prized possession, they go there. It is their sanctuary and where Hayley sleeps most nights. I have hardly ever sat in it because I believe it's their safe spot. What is cool though is that recently a neighbor visited with her kid and the kid climbed in the pen with the dogs. I was nervous because of the sanctity of the pen but: the dogs loved her playing with them in the pen. 

Crating is good for dogs. It gives them a safe spot. Simple as that. I know I have a lot to learn still about crating but this is my simple view. If you have a pup or an older dog, look at training your dog to enjoy a crate.

Another adventure / learning thing we are going to do is film what it looks like from a dogs perspective. Here is a link to what we have previously filmed: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FgL89wuT7wg

I believe this will help me understand what the dogs are reading and seeing and where I am going wrong as a human.

Hayley update: she is healing well. Still struggling emotionally but physically she is doing way better!! Her socializing recovery is going to be tough but she is tough. 

The weekend has a few more adventures planned so watch this space!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Busy week and a half with pups

The last 2 weeks have been insanely dog filled and challenging. (And that excludes how insane and odd work has been!!)

One evening I was sitting at home when a neighbor needed help finding 2 dogs that had gotten out of her neighbor's property. Another neighbor and I responded and we got the dogs back in their yard. It turns out that this lady had gone to check on her neighbor's dogs as she had not seen her neighbor since the previous week. When entering the garden, I found 5 dogs without food or water and a disgusting site as to how he dogs were living. I fed them and the others got them water. We were busy until quite late with these poor dogs and the SPCA were notified.

By the weekend not much had changed (other than the owner of the dogs returning) so I went to the SPCA to speak to them and show a picture of the situation. On the Monday an inspector went and looked into it but sadly the measures we had all put in place masked the whole situation so the dogs stayed on the property. Fortunately for the dogs, the issue was resolved on the Thursday (after much pressure from the trustees and also the owner of the unit) when the tenant gave up rights to he dogs and handed them in at the SPCA. The really happy ending was that the one dog was adopted by the lady who had alerted us all to the problem. The other 4 are at the SPCA ready for adoption.

In between dealing with this crisis, I had my own issue to deal with. Whilst on my regular walk last Friday, Hayley ran up to greet a bunch of dogs and ended up being pinned down by 2 Great Danes. At first I was not aware she was injured until someone pointed out hat she was bleeding not. A human doctor took a quick look and said she needed medical attention. I waited for the owner of the Danes to come out of the yard he had gone into and confronted him. I then took Hayley to the vet where it was found that she was a lucky pup!! A tooth had gone through all 3 layers of skin and had bruised her muscle. She was given painkillers, anti-inflammatories, an antibiotic jab and take home antibiotics. No stitches as the vet was nervous of infection developing under the stitch. Strict instructions that she can't swim until the wound has healed totally not can she have a collar until it's healed. And worst off: limited activity for a few days!!

I have had a miserable little girl!!! The meds left her groggy for nearly a week and the wound was bruised and she wouldn't let me near it for days. On Wednesday night K and her were playing and K got a bit enthusiastic with the game and Hayley had a small freak out. She ended up curling up into my arms and was a bit freaked. I had not realized that she was edgy until then.

On Saturday I took her for her first long walk since the attack (have been doing shorter walks in the week with no socializing). This was her first time out in public and she loved it!! In the afternoon I took the dogs for a short walk to the river  and then a stroll around the complex. We ran into a few of the dogs in the complex. She was a bit of a baby. But settled down nicely and both her and K made friends with dogs they had previously not liked. Unfortunately I think she had over done things and the wound bled a bit.  I hadn't realized that it was still sensitive.

Today I took the pups to the Spruit. Both dogs were in their element as they love the spruit. Hayley was edgy with other dogs and K was protective. Fortunately we bumped into friends walking with their dogs and it was awesome for Hayley. Being knowledgable dog owners, they assisted in letting H calmly meet their dogs so she could settle. I asked if we could join them for their walk so Hayley could be around other dogs. It was good for her as she could make new friends and settle with other pups. 

The walk was good for me as I could see how badly the attack had really affected Hayley. I had thought she was kind of ok. I now know that I have quite a bit of rehab work to do with her. Tomorrow I start her therapy work and am going to base it on a program by Patricia McConnell for nervous dogs. The idea is to help Hayley realize that she can trust me and not be so edgy.

A lesson that I have learnt from this experience is that off leash parks are dangerous places and that we are risking our dogs by going into such environments. This is because people have no control over their dogs and dogs that have a tendency towards aggression can take out their aggression without restraint. There is also the pack mentality that dogs can get into where a bunch of dogs who regularly walk together can go for newbies. Will I return to the park? Maybe but if I do, my dogs will be on lead. Some of you may take this as controversial but: it's safer.

The bonus of all this is that we will now be doing longer, more stimulating walks in different areas. This means that the pups will be more stimulated mentally and will get more exercise which means we can all get a bit thinner! They will still get socialized because we will still go to parks and training. It also means I get to spend more time training my dogs. 

It's funny how 7 years of walking at a park can be changed in one day. I always half expected K to be the one to get nailed as he is cheeky but it was my submissive, friendly and playful dog who got attacked. 

This means new adventures so watch this space for the new chapter.

Below are a few pics including pics of Hayley's injury and a few happy ones.

One of the pups we saved (ok, 2 of the pups). This little girl is so sweet!!!

This pic was taken after a late night with the 5 pups I helped.

KD had a Boobooloon on for a hotspot he was chewing 

The infamous neck wound 

Happy family after Park Run on Saturday

Happy girl tonight

My best friend totally chilled after an amazing weekend of bonding!