Friends reunited at Sirius Cove

We’ve been hearing a lot about the dog-friendly beach at Sirius Cove, Mosman. One of the few spots in Sydney where dogs are allowed on the sand and in the water, so surely the perfect place for a playdate with an old friend?

Harry arrived early, eager with anticipation.

Harry arrived early, eager with anticipation.

We were there to meet Finn, a former pal of Harry’s from his days at Monika’s Doggie Rescue, whose owner Annette had recently spotted our blog and made contact.

A Monika’s Doggie Rescue volunteer, Annette also runs a website, Where Pets are Found, dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners, as well as finding homes for pets up for adoption.

Finn and Harry had been buddied up together at Monika’s due to their similar temperaments. It was hoped that the placid Finn would be a calming influence on Harry, who was struggling to cope with the pound environment. They had similar back stories, both having been rescued from Blacktown Pound, and, thankfully, they have both now found their forever homes.

When the big moment of reunion arrived, Finn gave Harry a warm welcome and became extra playful and energetic in his company.

Alas, Harry did not appear to remember Finn and showed him the same ambivalence he shows for most dogs. He did, however, briefly allow him access to the ball, which is pretty good for Harry.

Always more fun to share, Harry.

Always more fun to share, Harry.

Much more heart-warming was Annette’s reaction to seeing Harry again. Having recalled a fearful little hound who used to tremble when held, she was now greeted by a very different dog. One who wagged his tail and was very pleased to meet a new friend, especially such a keen ball-thrower!

It summed it up best when she remarked: “He was like a little old man and now he’s … a dog!”

While Harry still has his old man moments, he spends a lot of time like a playful puppy; never more so than when he hits the beach.

We’ve come a long way since doggie death row at Blacktown Pound.

We’ve come a long way since doggie death row at Blacktown Pound.

We had a very successful afternoon at Sirius Cove, with several games of ball on the grassy reserve and some energetic romps on the beach.

It’ll be a great place for a splash and cool down in summer and an ideal place for Fido to meet old friends and new.

Harry and Him Indoors wait for their ship to come in.

Harry and Him Indoors wait for their ship to come in.

Sirius Cove Reserve

Unleashed dogs are permitted on the beach, grassed areas of the reserve and in the water all day Monday to Friday and before 9am and after 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.

For more information see Mosman Council website 

Celebrating in Sydney Park with a dog that will (finally) walk!

We have had a breakthrough with the walking issue. It’s not been easy and it’s still not perfect, but it is significant progress – and definitely worth celebrating with a trip to one of Sydney’s most expansive and dog-friendly parks, Sydney Park in St Peters. And here’s how we do it:

  • We’ve scrapped the harness and use only a collar. Harry reacts so badly to the harness; looking sorry for himself at best, going rigid with fear at worst. Since he’s still not such a keen walker that he half-strangles himself with eagerness, we think the collar is best for him.
  • The leash never goes on until we’re out of the front door. Putting the leash on while Harry’s inside seems to create some kind of mental block and he’ll resist immediately. Only once we’ve walked out will I clip the leash onto his collar – and he seems perfectly happy with this arrangement.
  • I am always in a good mood when we go for a walk. You would think it’s the most thrilling part of my day as I skip out of the door in a bid to encourage Harry to do the same.
  • Harry gets a treat when we make it out the door. But only one (otherwise he stops and looks up at me expectantly every two minutes) – and then we walk.
  • We have followed the exact same walking route daily for several months. Harry seems to feel more secure when he knows what direction we are heading in, and that the trip always ends back at home.

And so we are making the most of this new-found enthusiasm for trotting out the door – as opposed to being dragged, bribed or tricked – with longer and more frequent walks.  

Hiking the hills at Sydney Park.

Hiking the hills at Sydney Park.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better dog-walking spot than Sydney Park. Dogs are allowed off-leash at all times on the former brickworks, but are not allowed in the wetlands, the oval, cycling centre, playground or barbecue areas. With 40 hectares to roam, there’s plenty of space for everyone.  

Taking in the city skyline.

Taking in the city skyline.

We loved the rolling hills and shady woodland areas, views of the city skyline and water dishes for dogs.

A woodland walk.

A woodland walk.

There’s heaps to keep non-canine walkers entertained too. Fitness equipment, a café, and an amazing kids’ playground and bicycle track, complete with miniature traffic lights and road signs.

Refreshment.

Refreshment.

It’s taken more than a year of daily walks to get to this stage with Harry and there are still occasions when the old reluctance to walk returns (when it’s raining, when he’s very tired, or when I try to take him in a direction that, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, Harry does not want to go). But for the most part, our dog now follows me to the front door and trots straight out after me. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Unfortunately, we have had no such breakthrough with Him Indoors, who still struggles to rise for an early morning walk. We shall soldier on with that particular problem. Sydney Park, Sydney Park Road, St Peters. For more information visit the City of Sydney website.

Dog-friendly beach shenanigans in The Shire

It has come to our attention, thanks to some less-than-subtle comments from family and friends, that our dog is becoming a little stout around the middle.

Since Harry trembles with longing when he’s in the vicinity of food (Him Indoors is much the same actually), I often find myself wanting to over-compensate for any neglect in his past by sneaking him extra treats here and there.

However, while some portliness is forgivable in his golden years, we want our mutt to live a long and healthy life and have therefore been trying to curb the flow of treats and encourage more vigorous exercise.

A trip to the beach is one of the best ways to get Harry’s heart rate up and so we decided to give him some off-leash action at Greenhills Beach, near Cronulla.

The sands at Cronulla are forbidden for Fido.

The sands at Cronulla are forbidden for Fido.

We enjoyed an initial on-leash stroll and sniff along the boardwalk at Cronulla, then a bite to eat at one of the many pavement (so dog-friendly by default) cafes before driving a few minutes up the road to Greenhills Beach.

Dog on a mission.

Dog on a mission.

Greenhills is off-leash from 4pm to 10am daily. You’ll find it north of Wanda Beach and accessible via track 5 at the far end of the car park. Dogs must be kept on a leash in Wanda Reserve (the grassy area around the car park).

Taking a breather.

Taking a breather.

This long stretch of sand is ideal for dogs with boundless energy. It’s unpatrolled and seemed to be predominantly in use by dogs and their owners when we visited, allowing plenty of chance for canine socialisation.

He got friendly, down in the sand.

He got friendly, down in the sand.

As soon as Harry’s paws hit the sand he seems to get an injection of energy – and I get a little insight into what he might have been like as a puppy. Ah, if only we could have found each other sooner.

A trip to the beach is an exhilarating experience for all of us, with the chance to get some sea air, exercise and a release of endorphins. The only downside is it leaves us all feeling a bit like this by the end of the day:

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For more information visit Sutherland Shire Council website.

 

 

Pupcakes and cupcakes for our one-year anniversary

It’s one year today since we adopted “golden oldie” rescue hound, Harry – and the past year has been a big journey for all three of us.

Harry is a different dog entirely: playful, affectionate and a lot less fearful than he was this time last year. He’s still reluctant to leave our home (although this is getting less and less the case), still jumps at shadows, and still runs for cover when Him Indoors loudly cheers on his football team. But I’m confident we’ve made progress and we’ll make a lot more in the years to come.

We’ve also had to make adjustments for sharing life with a dog. There have been freedoms to give up: rising early each morning to walk Harry (even though I’m sure he’d rather we didn’t bother); racing home after work instead of heading for drinks in the city… but daily laughter and lots of love and fun in return have more than made up for any sacrifices we’ve made.

In short, it’s been a great year – so what better way to celebrate than with a cake? And not just any old cake but a pupcake from Sydney’s Sparkle Cupcakery.

This luxury bakery, on Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, does a line in special dog treats which are ideal to mark an occasion such as this.

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Pupcakes on display.

A pupcake is made with wholemeal flour, grated apple, apple juice and honey, and topped with ground meaty treats and a bone-shaped biscuit. It looked good, it smelled good – and it was devoured in seconds.

The red velvet and salted caramel cupcakes we ordered didn’t last much longer.

Although dogs are not allowed to take a seat inside, there is some pavement seating where you can enjoy a coffee with your pupcakes and cupcakes. Take-home pupcakes are also available, packaged beautifully in black and silver Sparkle packaging – so of course we brought one back to celebrate the special day.

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Harry was keen for his take-home treat.

This weekend we’ve done all of Harry’s favourite things. We’ve visited the beach, we’ve sniffed slowly around the park, we’ve played a lot of ball and we’ve eaten well. And as we reflect on the year gone by, on Harry’s progress (and Him Indoors’ transition to dedicated dog owner) we just hope we’ve made him as happy as he’s made us.

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Happy anniversary, Harry.

 

To find your own four-legged creator of happiness, visit www.doggierescue.com (I recommend the golden oldies).

 

Sparkle Cupcakery

132 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills. Tel: 02 9361 0690. www.sparklecupcakery.com.au

Pupcakes are $3.30 each. If you can’t get to the store, delivery in Sydney is also available.

 

 

Harry turns hipster in Sydney’s small bar scene

The small bar scene that’s sprung up around Sydney in recent years has become renowned for its friendly and personable staff. Who would have thought they would be Fido-friendly too?

After hearing rumours that Redfern’s Arcadia Liquors might allow mutts inside, I was keen to find out more. An email from the owner assured me that yes, dogs are welcome. Warmly welcomed in fact.

“We love dogs and are always happy to have well-behaved hounds in the bar,” we were told.

“We like them on a lead otherwise there are too many racing dilemmas. I have a dog and he is in the bar pretty much every day of the week. He’s called Frankie.”

We didn’t need telling twice.

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Stepping out for the night.

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Harry enjoyed mixing with the cool kids. Made a change from me and Him Indoors…

Although Harry was a lone wolf at the beginning of the evening, the canine quota was upped with the arrival of Frankie.

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Frankie hot-footing it into the bar.

 

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Harry and Frankie take it outside.

This whirling dervish of a dog didn’t stand still long enough to snap a photo that will do him justice, so you’ll have to trust us when we say he is very cute. In fact it’s worth a visit just on the off-chance you might meet Frankie, who is apparently in the bar most days.

Aside from a handsome hound to admire, the bar also offers a snacks menu with a range of toasted sandwiches and antipasto. If you’re craving green space, head to the fern-filled courtyard at the back, or stay inside and enjoy the ambience of the exposed bricks adorned with fairy lights.

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Even in the mid-week evening when we visited Arcadia Liquors was busy so, if you want to secure a seat, get there early.

If you know of any other great dog-friendly places in and around Sydney, please let us know at sydneydogslife@gmail.com or via Facebook or Twitter.

Arcadia Liquors, 7 Cope Street, Redfern. www.arcadialiquors.com. Tel: 02 8068 4470

Harry’s holiday with the Perfect Pet Sitter

Until airlines start allowing dogs to travel in the cabin en-route to the UK, I will, on occasion, be forced to travel without my trusty terrier in tow.

A recent visit to see family in Britain presented the dilemma of who would care for Harry while we were away. So when we heard about Perfect Pet Sitter Maralyn Nash through a post on the excellent Puppy Tales blog, we were keen to find out more about the service she offers.

Maralyn is a professional pet sitter who will stay in your home and provide top-class care for your beloved animals. This is ideal for a rescue dog like Harry, helping him to feel secure in the familiarity of his own surroundings.

We arranged a meet-up with Maralyn and immediately liked her. More importantly, so did Harry. She has a gentle but confident manner and we felt we could trust her with both our home and our hound.

When Harry discovered Maralyn was a keen ball-thrower, he was happy for her to come stay.

When Harry discovered Maralyn was a keen ball-thrower, he was happy for her to come stay.

Since Him Indoors and I give the worst helicopter parents a run for their money where Harry is concerned, we were grateful for Maralyn’s regular text updates during our break.

Maralyn even introduced Harry to a partner in crime.

Maralyn even introduced Harry to a swan-stalking partner in crime.

The extensive diary she left for us on our return was impressive. As well as detailing his daily activities there were photographs and GPS maps of the trails they had taken.

On the road.

On the road.

Harry had some amazing adventures: parks, beaches, cafes and car trips. But as Maralyn rightly noted, his favourite place of all seemed to be back at our place. I’m with Harry – there’s no place like home.

Maralyn summed up our dog perfectly when she wrote: “He seems a happy boy who just wants to be near you, and doesn’t ask much except to throw a toy and be kind to him.”

We felt confident Maralyn gave him the star treatment by doing just that. What’s more, she left the house in a cleaner state than she found it. Here’s hoping for a return visit.

Harry enjoyed plenty of TLC

Harry enjoyed plenty of TLC.

To find out more about the Perfect Pet Sitter, visit www.perfectpetsitter.blogspot.com.au

 

We say I do, Harry says me too!

While demand for dog-friendly wedding venues might be limited, Harry and I would like to heartily recommend Silos Estate.

This south coast winery was the site for our recent nuptials and, since being surrounded by loved ones was a priority, of course Harry was present to oversee the event. While we drew the line at ring bearer or any other official role, it felt only natural to have our pup with us for that special weekend away.

Not only does Silos offer dog-friendly accommodation (by prior arrangement), it boasts a warm and welcoming owner who took the time to befriend our timid littler terrier.

Harry was slightly nervous on arrival (I suspect pre-wedding jitters) but was soon won over by a pig’s ear, surprisingly produced from the cellar door. The estate’s sparkling shiraz had a similarly soothing effect on us…

On the Big Day itself, Harry enjoyed a bacon and egg breakfast with the boys before spending the morning supervising the setting up.

He cut a fine figure in his Dharf bowtie and matching lead, the black and white polka dots perfectly complementing his own striking markings.

Harry wedding

Acting as Best Dog, Harry was unusually vocal during the ceremony and let out a couple of short barks. We like to think he was trying to include himself in the formal proceedings.

While it’s not good etiquette to outshine the bride and groom on their big day, both Him Indoors and I were happy for our handsome hound to steal the show.

The excitement soon took its toll on Harry, who was happy to retire after the ceremony and enjoy a snooze and some snacks in the comfort of his own bed.

You can read more about Silos and other dog-friendly places in and around Berry here

What to do with a dog that won’t walk?

Back in the days before Harry, I used to envisage my life with a dog to be one of boundless activity, where I make my dog’s day simply by taking him out for a stroll and a sniff. Just the prospect of someone picking up the leash has sent every dog I’ve ever known into a frenzied excitement – so when Harry came to live with us last June, it was a shock to discover not all dogs enjoy a daily constitutional.

I love walking and would hike for miles every day given the chance. Harry, however, does not. He’s happiest in the comfort of his bed/our bed/the sofa (much like Him Indoors, come to think of it) and, upon sighting his leash, his first reaction is to run and hide. A gentle tug of encouragement results in Harry rolling onto his back and playing dead. We have tried tempting him out with treats and favourite toys but to no avail (it’s the only time he doesn’t care about playing ball) and, more often than not, we end up carrying him out the door.

I'll just stay here on the sofa instead.

I’ll just stay here on the sofa instead.

Once we’re out, he generally picks up momentum. Although on occasion he will dig his heels in and refuse to move (I have carried him home on more than one occasion) the majority of the time his tail is up and he seems to be enjoying the atmosphere and odours of the great outdoors. We do our best to make things fun; we have a game of ball, a belly scratch – we’ve even embarked on the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal cliff walk, to see if a stunning view might put those paws into action.

Taking in the sea air.

Taking in the sea air.

At six kilometres, including lots of steep gradients and stairs, it’s a fair hike for your hound. While younger dogs with plenty of energy may lap this up, it was  a bit much for 10-year-old Harry so instead we’ve done it in stages over the past months, picking and choosing the most appealing sections to explore.

Harry takes a well-earned break.

Harry has a well-earned break.

While dogs must be kept on leashes on the path (and are not allowed on beaches or in Waverley Cemetery), Burrows Park, just south of the cemetery, is a designated off-leash area with plenty of opportunity for sniffing and socialising. Along the route there are picnic shelters, barbecues and toilets, so it’s easy to make a leisurely day of it. You can detour to cafes in Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee, or Clovelly Bowling Club has outdoor benches where you can enjoy a pint and a pit-stop with your pup.

The boardwalk steps were a bit much for Harry.

The boardwalk steps were a challenge for us all.

Unfortunately, not even one of the world’s most scenic walks can change Harry’s attitude towards leaving the house. Every time we return home, he still races to the front door, tail wagging and jumping up, scratching to be let in. Kind of how every other dog behaves when they’re about to be taken for a walk.

This reluctance to walk pre-dates Harry’s time with us. When we first walked him at Monika’s Doggie Rescue, we were told he didn’t like to leave the gate and may need to be carried out. I thought it would be a temporary problem, one that would resolve itself once he felt secure in his new home.

We are at a loss as to what to try next so if anyone has any tips on how to make our daily walk a happier occasion, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us via FacebookTwitter or at sydneydogslife@gmail.com.

A Sunday social at Sydney’s Café Bones.

On the bank of Leichhardt’s Hawthorne Canal, Café Bones is an institution among Sydney dog-lovers.

This dedicated dog-friendly eatery offers both human and canine refreshments – including the famous pupaccino – and has only outdoor seating, meaning no discrimination against patrons who think the best café company is a dog.

With the chance for some off-leash adventuring in the adjacent reserve, it’s little wonder the place is a favourite weekend destination for dogs and their owners.

It was a hive of activity when we arrived, with dogs bounding and barking, circling and sniffing, presumably in sheer excitement of being among such good company – and possibly in eager anticipation of some café treats.

Of course, we treated Harry to one of the “secret recipe” pupaccinos (a lower fat version of the beverage, the dogaccino, is available for those carrying a bit of extra “cuddle”) and a Bone Bix ($2.50 and $1 respectively).

Sunday session, Harry-style.

Harry’s Sunday session.

Pupffins, liver and lamb treats are also available, and birthday cakes can be pre-ordered. The biscuit was munched in a matter of seconds but Harry was less enthusiastic about the pupaccino. That moment’s hesitation cost him his drink – it was slurped up almost immediately by one eagle-eyed pupaccino fan who spotted his chance and moved in pronto. You snooze you lose, Harry.

The pupaccino thief.

The (very cute) pupaccino thief.

We found pups and their people to be very well-behaved and responsible, making it an ideal opportunity to socialise our slightly nervous dog.

Luckily, Harry is a sharer.

Luckily, Harry is a sharer.

Harry enjoyed the obligatory bum sniff with dogs of all shapes and sizes and even accepted attention from some of the larger and more boisterous dogs.

Cafe culture canine style

Café culture canine style.

We all watched with interest as one game hound attempted to take a dip in the Hawthorne Canal (and was hastily fished out by his owner). Luckily for us, Harry doesn’t like to get his paws wet at the best of times and, for a dog that spends so many hours fastidiously cleaning himself, those murky waters held little appeal.

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Pups and their people congregate at Café Bones

Café Bones, Hawthorne Canal Reserve, Leichhardt.  Tel 02 8086 2433.

www.cafebones.com.au

Kicking the blues in dog-friendly Kangaroo Valley

Late last year, Harry and I had high hopes for an action-packed first summer together. Ah, the best laid plans…

The sudden death of my dad in November put paid to any such notions and, after a brief return home to my native Britain, we have instead spent the best part of summer in hibernation, venturing out only as far as the local park.

While I would love to say Harry demonstrated an uncanny empathy for my grief, alas, he did not. Whatever my emotional state, his reaction remains the same – he brings a ball and waits patiently for me to throw it.

Nonetheless, dogs are still one of the greatest anti-depressants available and Harry’s endless quirky antics have made me smile when nothing or no one else can. The comforting warmth of him slumped across my tummy (his latest preferred sleeping position) is also extremely effective for easing anxiety. And so, after a couple of months of pet therapy we are back from our hiatus and ready to face the world once more.

A mini-break from Sydney was the ideal way to ease ourselves back into the game. As most dog-owners are aware, finding pet-friendly accommodation can be a challenge. Finding a peaceful and private resort that’s as appealing to your dog as you, even more so. And yet that’s exactly what we recently discovered in Kangaroo Valley.

Kookaburra Hill offers self-contained pet-friendly accommodation in a private country house set on five acres. It’s a beautiful setting, with manicured lawns, rose gardens and mountain views.

The expansive lawns were a real luxury for Harry. They’re securely fenced, so you can play ball for hours (and we did!) without having to worry about your pooch pulling a Harry Houdini. Two kitchens (indoor and outdoor) were a hit with Harry – a second surely just increases the chances of a stray sausage finding its way to the floor – and the outdoor kitchen is also gated, creating another secure space to leave your dog.

Happiness is... a wide open space in which to play ball.

Happiness is… a wide open space in which to play ball.

Harry’s weekend highlights included dead-eyeing Moffat the alpaca (safely fenced off), beating Olivia the resident golden retriever at a game of ball (Olivia visits by invitation only but we found her to be a most welcome guest) and stalking lizards (he displayed the same levels of obsessive compulsive behaviour he shows with a ball, staring fixedly at the lizards with a very waggy tail. I’m not convinced his intentions were friendly…).

Him Indoors and I also had plenty to keep us occupied. Mostly food. Our host, Pamela, generously allowed us access to her vegetable garden, as well as supplying fresh eggs from her hens. And then there was the baking. Fresh berry muffins on arrival, hot pancakes delivered to our door for breakfast – and scones with homemade jam and whipped cream were the pièce de résistance. The pool, which we had exclusive use of, would have been the ideal to burn off those excess calories. Unfortunately, it was also the ideal place for a snooze in the sun.

Harry lives in hope...

Harry lives in hope…

Kookaburra Hill is just a few minutes’ walk from Kangaroo Valley’s main street, with its pie shop, fudge shop, restaurants, cafes and shops full of curios and collectables. We enjoyed a social drink (or two…) in the beer garden of The Friendly Inn, which has a large grassy area and plenty of space. Bistro One46 and Cafe Bella both offer outdoor dining options for you and your dog, although Bistro One46 secured our vote for its quieter terrace spot, under the vines.

The Kangaroo River and its associated activities (especially canoeing and kayaking) is a major attraction. While we remained landlubbers, we did take a walk around its banks before exploring further afield.

Back on my adventures.

Back on my adventures.

Nearby Yarrawa Estate, high in the hills, is one of the most welcoming and homely cellar doors you’re likely to find. The wines are award-winning, and the homemade pickles and marmalades delicious. We received an exuberant welcome from wine dogs Jack and Muscat but their enthusiasm proved a little too much for Harry, who refused to get out of the car.

Jack and Muscat are working wine dogs, whose job it is to chase away unwanted birds.

Jack and Muscat are working wine dogs, whose job it is to chase away unwanted birds.

Kangaroo Valley makes for a relaxing country retreat and, for us, it was the perfect place to recharge and re-whet our appetite for adventure.

We saw a wombat! At first we thought it was a sheep but Him Indoors said it was definitely a wombat. And he’s Australian so he should know.

We saw a real live wombat! At first we thought it was a sheep (it was dark) but Him Indoors said it was definitely a wombat. And he’s Australian so he should know.

Kookaburra Hill is currently for sale. Our advice – pay a visit while you can.

Kookaburra Hill, 230 Moss Vale Rd, Kangaroo Valley. Tel: 02 4465 2285.

www.kookaburrahill.com.au

 

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