Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's final stop on her African adventure was Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, one of the eight wonders of the world.
Jenn says the falls are simply breathtaking.  People can walk down into the different areas and see the falls from all sorts of perspectives.

Another group dinner and a wonderful ending to an unforgettable adventure in Africa!!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Chobe River!

Jenn's next stop on her adventure in Africa was flying from the Motswiri camp in a very tiny plane to the Kasane airport, then a short jeep ride to take a river cruise through Chobe River National Park, an excellent opportunity for game spotting all sorts of animals in close proximity.
And here's a video Jenn took of all the animals on their Chobe cruise:
From Chobe, it's back into a van and doing a late night crossing into Zimbabwe and on to the next destination-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Botswana!

Jenn's next stop on her African adventure was flying from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana, then from Maun flying in a very small plane to the Motswiri RAW Botswana (Ride and Walk), an eco-camp in the Okavango Delta.  Here's Jenn and her guide Grant checking out a termite mound:

Here's a video from Jenn's arrival at the camp:
After a ride in the motorboat, the group settled around a fire and enjoyed their first of many wonderful meals together in Motswiri.  And then up bright and early at 6am to start new adventures every day.
Day 2 in Motswiri started with a swarmy cape buffalo, a game walk, and boat ride with elephants and greater kudu:
And this kind of sunset!

Day 3 in Motswiri featured another run in with Cape Buffalo, elephants, and a sundown ride in a mekoro canoe with cocktails of course!
The next day meant a trip to the Fly Camp, an even more rustic camp a few miles from Motswiri with some incredible game sighting opportunites:
Coming back from Fly Camp the next day was one of the most exciting experiences at a hippo watering hole:
The Motswiri experience was Jenn's favorite part of the whole trip.  And meeting the guides Grant, David, and Mochete was such a honor.
But now it's on to the Chobe River!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-South Africa

Jenn recently spent three weeks in Africa and she says it was the most amazing experience of her life!  She met wonderful people, saw gazillions of animals, and traveled to remote parts of the African bush. But things started here: Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa.  But not before Jenn spent over 20 hours on a plane to get there.  Yikes!!  Jenn met her other traveling companions at the Donnybrook Guest House and then headed to the  Elephant Sanctuary at Hartbeespoortdam.  Here's Jenn and her friend Anthony meeting a very friendly female ele.
Here's a video Jenn shot:
Then, Jenn went to the nearby Bush Babies Sanctuary for some close encounters with lemurs and monkeys:
Next, it was off to the Pilanesberg Reserve about 2 hours from Johannesburg.  Here are some photos from Jenn's game drives in Pilanesberg:
Here's a video that Jenn made from Pilanesberg featuring a lioness carrying her cub, a close encounter elephant encounter, and a plethora of elephants, and hippes at a watering hole.

Wow!  And that's only the beginning of Jenn's adventures in Africa!  Next, it's off to the bush in Botswana!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jenn's Going to Africa!

Jenn says that she is going on an adventure next month to Africa!  Her TTouch friend Edie Jane arranged the trip to South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe and it sounds like Jenn is going to have the trip of a lifetime.  First of all, Africa is really far away and really huge.  Jenn has to travel 8,000 miles over 22 hours just to get there and she is only visiting a small part of the continent.  But here's where she is going:
Jenn flies into Johannesburg, and she gets to spend two days exploring.  She plans to go to the Elephant Sanctuary at Hartbeespoortdam.
Jenn will have the opportunity to get up close with elephants and learn about how they use positive reinforcement based animal husbandry techniques to keep the sanctuary elephants happy and healthy.

Then, it's off to the Pilanesberg Reserve
Pilanesberg Reserve is located on an eroded volcano crater (one of only three the world)The reserve has lions, leopards, black and white rhino, elephants and buffalos and a wide variety of rare species including nocturnal brown hyaena, cheetah, sable, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile, to mention but a few.

If you ask Jenn, she has always wanted to see all these animals in the wild, but especially her all time favorite, the cheetah.  Wait a minute!!  I thought dogs were her favorites.  Hmmph!

After two days in Pilanesberg, Jenn gets on a little tiny plane and is off to Botswana for five days at RAW Botswana (Ride and Walk), an eco-camp in the Okavango Delta.  The Okavango Delta is a very special place, the largest inland delta in the world.  It floods several months out of the year, which attracts large groups of animals from all over southern Africa. Jenn is staying in the Motswiri camp, near the Selinda spillway on the far right side of this map:
So Jenn can hike and boat to watch the animals.

Whoa!!  From Botswana, the group heads into Zimbabwe for a few days at Victoria Falls.   Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world, twice the height of Niagara Falls. 
From there, it is back to Johannesburg for a bit of a rest before flying back to North Carolina. Puppies aren't welcome on this trip-which means I have to stay home.  Bummer.   But Jenn is really looking forward to playing adventurer even if she has to go without me! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Genius of Us and Dognition!!

Jenn's been busy working on some projects focusing on the new book called "The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think" and the new company called Dognition.  Both are exciting ventures by Dr. Brian Hare, of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, to help you humans learn about how smart your dogs are and to gather tons of information from dogs and people all over the world.   The information that is gathered could help lead to major discoveries!!  

Here's Jenn and Jet featured in a story on CBS Morning News:

I remember participating in three different canine cognition studies at Duke, showing them all about my intelligence and problem solving skills.  Here I am acing one of the cup tests!

What's really cool is Dr. Hare and his wife Vanessa Woods, wrote a book about how dogs are smart and about all the research that's been done over the past 10 years that proves it.  The book is available on Amazon and Jenn says that it is really terrific.  Jenn got to interview Dr. Hare and she wrote a review of the book that will be in a upcoming issue of the APDT Journal, The Chronicle of the Dog.
Dr. Hare talks about how dogs developed the ability to use information from humans to be successful, like how we follow your gestures.  But not only can you read all about dog intelligence in Dr. Hare's book, but you can find out how your dog is a genius at home!  Dognition is the new company that offers scientific games called the Canine Assessment Toolkit that you and your dog can play, that determine your dog's unique problem solving skills.  

Once you play all the games, a Dognition Profile tells you what kind of problem solver your dog is.
The games are super fun and I got to play them with Jenn and Eric.  We played games that measured empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning.  My results said that I'm a Renaissance Dog, which means that I use a variety of problem solving techniques, like a "jack of all trades."    Once you know how we learn and solve problems, you can give us the information we need to solve problems faster.  Super cool!!
So how can you and your dog get in on the fun??  Now you can get your human to go to and play the games with you and find out how smart you are!  Jenn is a member of the Dognition Trainer Program, so email her and she'll send you a $20 discount code.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Be the Heart of Your Pack!

Seems that Jenn had a pretty terrific trip last weekend to San Francisco to attend Clicker Expo, a conference for science based animal trainers.  Jenn says the best thing about Clicker Expo is that it is a chance to learn and mingle with the most advanced trainers in the world, (including Karen Pryor who Jenn got to meet!) all on whom use training methods based in science.  Jenn attended sessions by Karen Pryor, Dr. Susan Friedman, Kay Laurence, Julie Shaw, Debbie Martin, Emma Parsons, and Michele Pouliot and got to attend some learning labs with dogs.

The most memorable and insightful subjects from Clicker Expo came out of sessions by British trainer Kay Laurence.  They sum up how Jenn and many science based trainers feel about their role in training and their relationships with animals (especially dogs).   

There are so many people telling you to "Be the Pack Leader" by doing simply awful and hurtful things to dogs, things that destroy the dog's trust, things that create stress along with larger problems.  When in reality, the goal should not be being "leader" of a pack, but being the Heart of the Pack.

Being the Heart of the Pack means that you don't need to dominate, intimidate, hurt, startle, or punish to have success and harmony with your animal companions.  We should be focusing on creating a connection with the animal based on trust, safety and cooperation.  There are so many science based training options available (like clicker training) that allow that connection and communication to flourish.  Listen to your heart when you select a training method, and learn to be the Heart of the Pack.

We often restrain, resist, and strip away what our dogs are.  Like trying to forcefully slam a square peg into a round hole.  If we just find a way to change the round hole so that it is just big enough for the square peg.

Sometimes, we get so focused on achieving goals, we try to make our dogs conform to our idea of what they should be, and we lose track or ignore what where born to be.  This is seen so much in the disconnection of leash walking.   Our focus shouldn't be on the latest harness or the latest technique that function on suppression.  This is not learning and does not create a true connection.  It should be about establishing and nurturing the connection between the dog and their person, sharing positive experiences, feeling comfort and security with each other.   Most dogs are programmed to connect with us and we often just don't know how to connect with them.

Jenn hopes to take these ideas and others from Clicker Expo and use them to help her be a better trainer with people and with animals.