Thursday, April 28, 2011

Born to Run?

“Dear Diary,
I just HAD to tell you about the magically awesome time I had with The Pup last night. The Pup is the COOLest dog for sure. I’m not positively positive yet…but I think I might just be in L-O-V-E!!!!”

-my thoughts and feelings about our training session last night, as read by a 13 year old girl.

Because nobody does over-the-top dramatic feeling like a 13 year old girl. Yep, I am JUST THAT HAPPY!

We three of The Project braved the rain/snow to go run The Dog on some dogwalks before the show this weekend. I also had to remind her…and myself… of what is like to run on real grass in all its slick, uneven glory since we’ll be outside for the first time this year for the 3 day trial.  She was fine and dandy; no slips, trips or falls.
After her turn, I took The Pup out for some outdoor training in the rain (well, technically, it was snow).  I let The Dog hang out for distraction purposes (sometimes she likes to bark a little. And run around with her ball...), so between her and the new environment and the weather, it should have probably been a pretty unsuccessful session.
Oh no.
I must have forgotten.
My puppy is a genius.
We mostly worked on the plank- I was able to use a real full sized DW plank for the first time and was prepared to spend awhile familiarizing her to it.  Not necessary.  I put the boards on the ground and she started whizzing back and forth all on her own. Score a point for Super Powers of Generalization. 

I’m pretty much convinced she was born for a running dogwalk.  She totally seems to ‘get’ the game. By the end she was hanging out at the load end of the board while I put the treat out, lining herself up to the plank and running across with full confidence (no more thinking puppy). When she opened up, it turned out to be the perfect stride (hopefully future growth spurts won’t mess with it) to put her through the yellow with all four feet.  There was not one rep that didn’t earn a click. Joy.  (Shhh... I know it's early...but I'm buzzing and I like it!! I can't help thinking that perhaps after months of suffering with The Dog's contact, I am being smiled upon by the Agility Gods. Leave me my delusions!)  

We went over some teeter end position fun too, letting her jump up and ride the BANG about 6” on the very low teeter.  As an experiment, I asked her to do the whole teeter.

I seemed to have created a Teeter Monster.

Turns out, she is a bit of a daredevil.  The thrill of the drop was- I swear- her favorite experience to date. I could not get her to stop racing to the end to make it bang down. Eventually, she ran back and forth along it without exiting, finally refusing to release to exit from it at all.

She held her position as well as she could (on the real teeters, not the insane ones), but I think we will continue reinforcing the four on wait for awhile before doing a full run again. Front end held well, back foot enjoyed sliding off about half the time when she slid to a stop and I don’t want her to hurt herself. (Remember, Safety Is Our Number One Priority!!).
At the end of the night, she fell asleep in my lap. It’s nice to see that a sensitive side exists under that tough girl exterior.  
Yep, definitely L-O-V-E.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Making an A$$ out of U and ME…

I know, it’s my fault- I forgot what happens when you make an assumption. Still, when I rolled out our new policy on not hurting each other, I thought it would be implied that they shouldn’t hurt The Leader either. Apparently not.  Now I am sporting a shiny new cut, compliments of The Pup.  (Progress though, she didn’t actually bite me, just nose bonked me so hard that my glasses somehow gashed my face.)

Oh well. Thanks for the feedback on the Safety Program, Pup. Duly noted, revisions are in the works.
Since I can’t recall the last time I actually discussed, you know, training in my training blog, I figured I had better throw down a record on what’s up with The Pup.

She continues to be a nerdy little Whiz Kid. I expect her to ask if she can join Mathletes or similar after school any day now.  School, by the way, is going very well; I’m really happy with the content in the e-course. (Though warning: if you do take such a class be prepared for classmates to wander off topic a lot.)  We’ve learned a ton and have gotten some great ideas to keep us busy foundation-wise.  LOTS of body awareness exercises- she has become as sure footed as a mountain goat.

I’ve learned a lot about how she learns too.  She is a very studious little girl (hence the nerd title) who relishes problem solving.  (Luring gets you nowhere with her.)  She catches on almost instantly but, unlike The Dog, is able to be reprogrammed later (probably because of all the shaping?) if need be. (You really just get one shot with The Dog…like with the Dogwalk.)  She is very methodical and thoughtful when first learning the behavior, but turns intense about it when she has it figured out.  To me this says she will be manageable learning equipment and handling and the speed factor will kick in when she understands to her satisfaction.  Meaning someday I will look back wistfully on these days when I had a prayer of keeping her out of a tunnel, etc so I had better embrace it while I have her attention!

Speaking of learning, I took a follow-up video for the e-course on her perch work. She was doing fairly well with the concept of circling the perch, but pretty klutzy and not grasping the idea of both directions at all.  We took a break, went back and voila! Latent Learning does its part. I thought I’d share since it’s really pretty interesting to see. Promise.  Dogs are so cool. Way better than babies.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to formulate a game plan for her running dogwalk. Knowing more now on how she learns and what she values, I can guess that the toy is not going to be the key to her understanding.  After hearing some thoughts from others that kind of back up my ideas I think I have the general direction to go in. 

We started on building value for a plank immediately at nine weeks.  I used food initially and a clicker for walking back and forth with all four feet on the whole length. We did all sorts of approach angles and she learned that she has to line herself up for a straight entry. She also was enforced only for exiting straight forward.  She does this regardless of where I am and what I am doing. 

Since then, we’d started on toy tosses. I liked that I could tell that the value building had really made a difference- even with my terrible tosses she was good about getting on and staying on.  It also gave me a chance to get familiar with her stride and learn about what it took to get her to gallop versus bounce (uh, yeah, terriers totally bounce).  It wasn’t feeling quite right though.

So I decided to go the way of targeting and use food. Thanks to the e-course, we’d already learned the value of a target and driving towards it.  I’ve been setting up the target about 15 feet out and having her run the plank to the reward. I’ve been clicking the stride I like best, and delivering extra treats for those (so, similar to a two toy method).  She is incredibly consistent now that we use food, so pretty much every time gets a click.  With this way, I can also get in a second rep on her way back.  The sessions just feel better; the toy added a lot of zaniness and I wasn’t sure she was getting The Point.  I can see the gears turning now though…

Someday I might get a Manners Minder. At this point, she’s yet to do anything that wouldn’t elicit a treat, so no point in the device to withhold reward yet.  Besides I see her being one of those dogs that you hear about that sits in front of the MM offering it behaviors, trying to make something happen…
The Pup also started on the cik/cap style turns last night. 5 minutes, one stick of cheese and she was offering multiple, full circles to the right. The left, not so much. We had this same issue on a left turn command and left circles on the perch. She is obviously right pawed- the left direction will take maybe two cheese sticks.

Let’s see… what else? Oh, the sink is clogged! There, now that’s everything, including the kitchen sink.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Implementing A Safety Awareness Program

If you don’t know, my real life job is in Human Resources.  (I’m so curious as to people’s reactions- does it ‘fit’? Did you see that coming?)  While I really try to avoid cross contamination of real life and dog life, I think for once my real life could be of some assistance.

You see, dog life has seen a recent significant rise in injuries and incidents.  What better way to tamp down and cut injury-related costs than to implement a new procedure? After all, Professional Me is a procedure making and enforcing MACHINE.

One of the things that we HR people love to do in a new procedure campaign is to make signs. It’s second only to sending out memos.  So I’ve made this sign to create awareness of our little problem, and to acknowledge the success…if there is any:

Anyways, the procedure is pretty simple. If I sent a memo, it would consist of “Attention all Dogs and Pups. Stop getting hurt. Hurting each other and hurting yourselves is no longer permitted. Thank you for your compliance.”
The most recent issue was The Pup. I found a bump on her leg last Monday.  By Wednesday the bump became The Bump (very large and angry looking). Though it didn’t seem to bother her it bothered me. I made an appointment for Thursday.  Not fast enough for her I guess- while I was at work that day she attempted to self-amputate The Bump. 

The Bump (or what is left of him), it turns out, is a histiocytoma. Basically, puppies are growing so much that the cells just start manifesting into an odd little mass for lack of anything else to do. This mass would go away in a month or two, if she leaves him alone. Hence:

I am sure some of you are wondering what The Bump looks like- pretty gross actually. So to spare you, a dramatic interpretation:


Don’t worry about The Pup though. She loves her cone.
The Dog, as we know, has also had her share of contributing injuries.  She has seemed just a stitch ‘off’ since the appearance of the ‘coffee table ding’ and the Great Broad Jump Crash of 2011.  (Occasionally coming up lame after a rough play with the ball and knocking more bars than is typical for her in practice.)  I’ve always been wary of the canine chiro/massage New Age Mumbo Jumbo (what if some unqualified voodoo doctor hurts my dog???), but decided that since the trial we went to was bringing in a real life vet from TOPS rehab to do chiro we would give it a whirl.  

Sold. Give us Mumbo Jumbo any day. Apparently The Dog was ‘out’ in ways to suggest the coffee table ding DID have something to do with it.  The vet was also able to tell how she tugs and the fact that she’s been tugging lopsided with The Pup based on the way her neck and jaw had shifted.  So she popped everything back into place and off we went on our merry, well-adjusted way.

Reasons I am sold: besides the vet being able to tell what happened without ME telling her first (not fishing for hints a la John Williams on the ghost psychic show), The Dog sat through it and let a STRANGER touch her (WOW.), which tells me it felt good at least, and the biggest reason? The magically good way The Dog ran all weekend.  She was…light? I hadn’t realized how awkward she had been looking until I saw ‘normal’ again. Back to feather jumping and showing good confidence on weave entries, Aframe and teeter.  Now the question is… where can I get good, reliable (licensed!) Mumbo Jumbo in MN?

So yeah. It goes without saying at this point (but I will say it anyways) that we had a REALLY good weekend.  I was thrilled to the point of giddy at how well The Dog ran. This was a pretty big show with a good size, FAST 22” class and The Dog was sitting well in placements all weekend. (Many Top Ten points! Hooray!) Saturday was probably her Best Day Ever. It honestly might make me a bit teary to dwell on it so I’ll just say she ran as FAST as anyone and the ever sought after TEAM component was there in spades.  She is finally having fun I think, and I’m finally trusting her.  Sunday she was wired all day (not complaining) and things weren’t quite on the same page (still not complaining), but it was still nice to see her running her butt off to the very end (of what was a looooonnngggg day of running).

Looking at her records, she finished her Silver Snookers title thing, and overall she knocked out 8 more Qs for her Bronze LAA- down to just 15 left of anything. And TWO of those Qs were second place Standard runs…could my dream of being able to run Standard (well, and not like a runaway train…with a bomb on it…heading for a metropolis) finally be coming true???
To close, Puppy Fun Time (picture compliments of Katie H. Thanks for some pictures of the Velociraptor that aren’t blurry!!!), because who doesn’t love Puppy Fun Time? 

My favorite, illustrating the Velociraptor:

On Target Family Reunion! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How we almost died. In Technicolor!

Now, let me first preface this by saying: this story is only amusing because no one actually died. In truth, this was very scary but really, at this point, all I can do is laugh and share my tale as a precautionary one.

And find a crate that can fit in my car. You'll See.

Once upon a time (last night) I was driving to our ring rental time (45 minutes from home. During rush hour. By way of the major transit routes.)

I always bring The Pup, because though she can’t really do much, she can sit and bark and seems to have fun.  The last time I went to the ring rental was a few weeks ago. Since then, The Pup has grown. A lot. So much so, that I didn’t think it was ‘humane’ to stuff her in the Sherpa bag for the car ride anymore. So instead, I decide to strap her into the back seat with a vehicle restraint device. I’ve used doggie seat belts for a long time. Used them for Banchor. No issue. Use them for The Dog. No issue. So I thought, hey, I will get one for The Pup and she can be safe ‘loose’ in the back with The Dog, yet cleverly strapped in just in case I had to break or something.

This device was a bit different. Had some more ‘wiggle room’ than other ones I have used. I thought, meh, as long as she can’t get up front, its fine. (This is the key phrase here, folks.)

So off we went.  All is well. Dogs lying down in back, me in the front singing Ke$ha songs to The Dog.

Approximately 5 minutes away from home, The Pup realizes that she is not actually loose, but is, in fact, restrained by a THING.

Naturally, she attacks the THING.

And protests its overall usage. At the top of her lungs. While systematically trying to eat it.

But it does the job. She is still in the thing as we head onto the highway.

At this point, The Dog has adopted a withering glare that she keeps throwing my way. She is seriously annoyed by The Pup’s struggle for freedom. I apologize and get up to speed with traffic, still singing.

After a few minutes all is quiet in the backseat. I believed this to mean The Pup gave up. Ha. Hahahaha. I seriously underestimated the will of a Border/Staffy.

The next few things happened very quickly.

I hear scratching next to me, between the door and my seat. I take a glance. The Pup is clawing her way up front, using her big fat baseball head as an anchor against my seat to pull herself along.  She is doing this successfully, despite the fact that she is still in the ‘restraints’ and the restraints are clipped to the seat belt in back.

The Dog is on my other side. Spurred on by The Pup’s idea of visiting Up Front, she starts tentatively stepping on the consol.

I yell.

I note that I am driving into a merge area of traffic, which happens to also be a bridge.

Before I can do anything, she has popped herself through the gap between the seat and door, and is twisting herself sideways. There is no forcing her back again. She suddenly becomes alarmed and realizes she is stuck and being pulled at by the belt in back.

Once alarmed, she decides that the best thing to do will be to turn to me for help. She claws her way across my chest and launches herself ONTO MY FACE. In doing this (in an inexplicable shower of puppy kisses, BTW), she also dislodges my glasses, temporarily blinding me.

I further note that the last thing I am seeing is the guardrail rearing up on my left (hiding a scary cliff down to a busy highway), and a Suburban on my right.

Bird's Eye View of Mayhem.
Then, literally seeing nothing but a spotted tummy, I hold my wheel straight (I thought. After hearing some swift honking I assume the dude next to me wet his pants a bit. Might have cut that a little close.), and break as much as possible, knowing that there is traffic everywhere, to gain control and time. I manage to (again, blindly) unclip The Pup from the harness, and she drops to my lap.

We are somehow, still on the road.

We were still alive.

And I was ready to kill The Pup.

But wouldn’t you know, having won, she fell right to sleep on my lap.



On the way home, The Pup was shoved into the Sherpa bag like stuffing into a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

The Dog is still nursing a grudge at not getting to go Up Front.

The End

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


So I recently wrote about my love of the ‘traffic sources’ feature and the crazy searches people run that somehow compel them to hit us up at the Project.  Laughs were had, no one was hurt.

Since then though, the searches have increased in both randomness and seriousness. So much so that it seems it is my moral obligation to clear things up for these Googlers that keep coming HERE for answers, less they hurt themselves or (more importantly) someone else!! 

Alarming Google Search One:
“Sometimes you just got to hit the dog” UGH! No, you don’t! BAD GOOGLER! If you are looking for justification on hitting dogs… this is NOT the site for you.  I can only hope this is referring to hot dogs. Thought I still would feel bad for those unsuspecting wieners, so let’s just not hit, k?

Alarming Google Search Two:
“Is Cocaine Bad” Um, yes. I assume the searcher is a dumb teenager. Just say no, kids.

Alarming Google Search Three:
“What to do if puppy ingests cocaine/crack (Chihuahua's are referred to several times...why???) ” Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. DO NOT GOOGLE THIS- GO DIRECTLY TO THE VET. Who would really need to waste time asking this question? Oh yeah, also, please stop leaving crack laying around for your puppy. (Oh, hey, I just answered my own question there.)

Alarming Google Search Four:
“Nancy was in a car accident in which her head hit-“ What? What did her head hit? Is she alive? Nancy WHO? This one just breeds some morbid curiosity.  I absolutely do not get why this search led to a hit on my site. But now I am dying to find out the rest of the story.

Alright, does that answer everyone’s weird and kind of horrible questions? I hope so. Now, I don’t want to see any other hits regarding crack puppies, unless you are referring to my FAUX Crack Pup! Got it?

Speaking of... introducing...CRACK HIPPO!
You can't REALLY see it, but Crack Hippo is the purple blob thing. You can't see it because The Pup refuses to put it down, because it gives her Super Crack Powers of Insanity.
Leaves a trail of tears in her wake...
Hours of Crack Hippo fun. Pink Pig feels lonely now. She was the Best Thing Ever until Crack Hippo came along. I don't think she should feel too bad. Poor Wrench just serves as a pillow that occasionally gets the stuffing knocked out of him- literally.

Anyways, enough anthropomorphizing all the toys.

The Dog would like it known that due to waking up to this today (remember, 10 days until MAY, folks):
ICK. Not beautiful, ICK. 
She will be hibernating until Spring actually decides to sit down and stay awhile.

Peaceful Protesting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

This used to be such a nice neighborhood.

Clearly it’s gone to the dogs.

Crime is on the rise here in Woodbury. Parents don’t let children traverse the streets alone. No more late night joggers. Everyone stays inside- doors locked.

Practically overnight, the reported incidences of serious crime have doubled and in some cases, are up 100% over this time last year.

Who is to blame?

"It wasn't me, it was the one-armed man!"

Yeah, she has a cute face, I know.  Don’t let the looks fool you. She has a rap sheet 10 miles long to go with that sweet little mug. 

"I don't know what yer talkin' about- I plead the 5th."
What is she guilty of? Oh just a little…

Assault (The boyfriend’s eye. My nose. The Dog’s tail. To name a few instances of bodily harm).
Battery (Cited several times for unwanted contact- mainly nose bonking into face at projectile speeds.)
Disorderly conduct (Noise complaints are through the roof. Constantly being accused by coppers of killing cats in basement).
Vandalism (Couch. Peed on. ‘Nuf said.)
Theft (Socks disappearing at rapid rates.  Rawhides being stolen from places of storage. Black market involvement? Probably)
Trespassing (Forbidden Office and Garage constantly being accessed without authorization.)
Mayhem (Really, this is self-explanatory. Typically happens with Crack Ducky accomplice in joy-ride manner.)
Kidnapping (Wiggle Puppy and Well Behaved BC [haha, joke- it’s a stuffed dog] both disappeared. Held for ransom of treats in unreachable areas i.e. behind couch and under bed.)  
Carrying a concealed weapon (Yes, puppy teeth are considered concealed weapons when they are used as such- see first conviction.)
Loitering (Constantly hanging out looking nefarious in backyard instead of moving along indoors.)
Moral Turpitude (falsely representing self as cute sweet puppy, malicious destruction of property by eating bathroom wall and lewdness- she is a poo eating HO.)
"I'll show YOU Moral Turpitude!"
She’s even got The Dog turned on to the life of crime. Though so far she has only the one conviction:

Aiding and Abetting (she can’t help it, sometimes The Pup has what seems like a good idea- stealing rawhides- and she has to get in on it. Usually get left in the lurch as the stoolie though. Poor little thug.  She wasn’t made for the life, like some. I suspect that she was taken by The Pup's pyramid scheme too...)

"The Pup said I should give her all my money
and that she'd triple it in a year!!"
We’ve instituted a parole program. Time out under intense supervision only. Hoping it isn’t too late to hope for reform. The recidivism rates for ex-cons are high though. Odds are against her.

Maybe I can get her on that Pit Bulls and Paroles show.

That would probably just turn her on to drugs and prostitution though. 

Friday, April 15, 2011


Not really a fall, more like a graceful descent back into ‘real life.’

Our 13 weeks under THE REGIME are basically O-V-E-R. A few workout days left, but as today will be our implementation of CHEAT MEAL it all feels effectively finished.

For the record, it was pretty well worth the time and effort. My goals were:

-To relearn healthy eating habits
-To be able to keep up with the dogs better
-To be able to look good in skinny jeans.

Check, check, check!

I know, the third goal is kinda…wha-aaatt? I didn’t want to set a weight loss goal, but I wanted to have some physical measure that I could aim for. No, this absolutely doesn’t mean I know own and will don a closet full of skinny jeans and stretchy pants- How can you RUN in those? Besides, some things are better left a mystery.

Unexpected side effects included: lots more energy (no more afternoon naps caused by afternoon crashes!), better ability to sleep through the night AND wake up rested, really good skin tone, an excuse for us to go shopping (to buy smaller clothes!), moral superiority when eating my healthy food in front of someone eating a candy bar, non jiggly upper arms when waving, NO MORE MIGRAINS, the discovery that food actually has natural flavors, elimination of 99.9% of all cravings and feeling what can only be described as Light. Not in terms of weight, but something else. Just a nice feeling.

Regarding the food stuff, seriously, I didn’t realize so many things actually had their own taste. Apparently all the salt in the American Diet, like, dulls your taste buds or something (succinct summary of a REALLY long article). At first things seemed bland, but after we acclimated, so many items tasted good-naturally! Amazing! Example:  I now absolutely love plain yams. That is so crazy to me. I was also amazed at how eating properly (good portions, the “right” stuff, and periodically throughout the day) really killed the cravings. I didn’t think it was possible to not NEED marshmallow-y , chocolaty, peanut buttery, salty THINGS.  It’s like… you only crave things because your body is lacking SOMEthing (maybe not THAT thing), but if you get enough of what you need up front… that feeling vanishes.

Oh yeah. Except for pizza. Pizza has nothing my body ‘needs;’ it’s all in my head. My head really, surprisingly, determined that it could not live without pizza.  I can’t believe I am psychologically dependent on pizza, of all things.  Ok, mind, you can have your silly pizza tonight. And wings. And a beer. But we are going for a run first! 

So… yeah. It was tough. But I would really recommend for anyone looking to make a change.

Though- warning: The dude on the videos liked to use the word “buttocks” altogether too much. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Pup Loves Everyone...Except CYBORGS.

OK, so until now The Pup loved everyone she has ever met. Even the vet. Who took her temperature. (And it wasn't the kind that goes in their ear!) Yeah, she is strange like that.

Today's walk in the park (ha! Not!) revealed something she completely and utterly does NOT like:


Well, at least that is what she thinks they are.  In reality, it's just babies in strollers, dudes on skateboards and kids on bikes.  But the whole 'people on wheels' thing was apparently foreign to her and QUITE the cause for alarm.  To her, it was an all out invasion, Battlestar Galactica-style.  The Dog rolled her eyes and kept walking as The Pup waged war back against them.
"No cause for alarm. Unless you don't throw the ball."
Giving "SHIFTY EYES" to that baby in the stroller...
What could I do? I didn't want to stop her...on the off chance that they were those freaky Battlestar Galactica cyborgs.

You never know!
Cyborgs...balls... they've each got their OCD 'thing.'
Anyways, aside from our Vigilante Patrol for Cyborgs (a.k.a our walk) we also did a hefty amount of training. Very structured. And wouldn't you know- progress was made!

I even remembered to get proof (for once)!

First, some video of The Dog working on all manner of jumping. Mostly her cik/cap style turns, but we also practiced backside jumping, pull-throughs, serps, threadles, 270s, 180s and blind crosses too! (Just running 16" for now to keep the turns tight. And because that grass is dang dry. Ick.)  Don't worry, for all that, it's a short video.

Next up, The Pup working on her e-course homework (her back-up is so cute! IMO... which is law, since it's my post! ha!) and showing off her ability to wait in her crate. Not exactly reliably or patiently, but getting there.

Finally, a video of The Pup working on her agility equipment foundation. Kind of had a breakthrough with her running the plank for her toy today. She was quite into the toy all of a sudden. I was even exchanging the toy for food and she kept up her interest in the tug. Also showing her table status and the jump work.

Like I said- productive couple of days here!  I've totally got Spring Agility Fever.

Have to enjoy it while I can because soon I will have Hay Fever. Blech.

"Look ma! No choking! Thanks, Harness!"

K, Bye! Gotta go now! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Off or Off Weekend?

It was a little disconcerting to have a whole weekend free. Nothing planned, no shows, not even a fun match.  I figured it was for the best all around to take a breather, though it didn’t come easy. I had to force myself to not go audit the seminar in town.  While it was great to get out with normal humans (I’d almost forgotten what The Boyfriend looked like!) in “real” life… I had a hard time just sitting at home relaxing. I’m not sure what that means! But as a result my weekend off felt a bit…off. Not very restful. Maybe I will do better next weekend. Or I will go crazy from a lack of structure and planned events.

You’d think that all this time off meant I would accomplish something amazing. Nope. Not really. Unless you count the feat of emptying my bank account on clothes as amazing.

But I did get to take the dogs for their first big walk of the year. I learned why everyone told me I was going to need a harness for The Pup. Turns out the BSs can’t seem to avoid choking themselves.  I can’t imagine how her larynx survived but I wasn’t going to take that chance twice.  Harness it is!
Dog saying "na na na! Can't catch me!"
We also accomplished an all-around training meltdown yesterday- both dogs, so it was probably entirely my mood. Guess I shouldn’t try and train when I feel off- way to go, Me!  First The Dog forgot the difference between a swing finish and going ‘behind’ (around me left to right). I could not get her to stop doing the swing finish.  We both melted into the carpet from frustration.  Then, I went to move The Pup into a smaller box for ‘4 feet in a Box’ and she too forgot what on earth I possibly wanted.  This happened even after 1) starting with the bigger box to refresh and 2) actually performing in the smaller box perfectly several times. I went to get some video for my online puppy class and all I got was five minutes of her rolling around on the ground and putting every body part possible into the box except her back feet.  We decided to stop training (since all we were learning was frustration) and watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets instead.

Somehow despite the extremely unfocused training over the weekend, we’ve made substantial progress with The Pup’s manners.  Meaning, they officially exist in real-life situations! "Stay" is developing rapidly. She actually will sit as long as it takes now for a release for her dinner, AND will sit and wait while I load the dishwasher! (She has crawled into it…a few times…to help perform the ‘pre-rinse cycle.’ Wouldn’t be so bad except for all the knives…) Plus, miracle of miracles, I can eat dinner without her jumping into my lap and knocking my food onto the floor. (Yup, that’s right, who needs tables? We eat like the true progeny of the sitcom generation…in front of the TV, laughing and spilling our food since we are too cool for TV trays.)  She will sit and beg from the floor like a good girl now.

This week since the weather is, I think, officially ‘nice’ (or as good as it will get for awhile) and we are getting into the busy show season I’m going to start organizing training time a bit more and step up conditioning. This weekend showed me that I apparently need a plan. No more dithering about haphazardly. The dogs both have things to focus on and it’s time to put some more thought into what I am doing with The Pup, especially. (Though I have to remember to work The Dog as much too...) The online class will help with this some (we have a LOT of homework for the next two weeks!) but it’s time to buckle down I think. So for today a PLAN: The Dog gets to work on threading through jump traps and some recall starts past jumps (for Snookers!), and The Pup can do some one jump clicks, learning a paw touch to a target and begin ‘sit-up’ and ‘back up.’  Probably some toy reinforcement too. Then we can all go for a long walk and test out that harness.
"The Dog's tail is MINE on the next walk..."
AND with the start of this week it means we are officially on the FINAL WEEK of THE REGIME! Woo hoo! You would not believe how badly I want a pizza. So badly that I almost snatched some kid’s slice right off his plate at the mall.  After this week the maintenance plan is to return to the gym for group fitness classes, hike with the doggies, and continue with the healthy meals from THE REGIME- except for one day a week. That magical day will be the day we turn a blind eye to nutrition and eat WHATEVER WE WANT. I think that most weeks, that will include pizza.  

Lastly- BEHOLD! The Dog and The Pup... in a picture together... actually sitting on purpose NEXT to each other!! And neither is blurry from moving at ALL! Come to think of it, maybe we DID accomplish something amazing. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Everybody Poos" Is a Horrible and Inconvenient Fact of Life

Last night I endeavored on the disgusting yearly task of cleaning up all the poo and poo fossils from the back yard that remained after the final melt. 

Sore Back
Dogs trying to ‘help’ (one thinking the clean up bucket was an all you can eat buffet and one thinking it was an excellent place to drop her toy- why did I teach her that trick again??)
A certain puppy had recently been very ill, making for some particularly nauseating remains

Poo Removal is synonymous with Spring
Only one dog for most of the winter (how do people with multiple dogs handle this???)
Sanitary dogs who poo in only a small portion of the yard
Able to discover many artifacts eaten by The Pup…ew. Perhaps actually a con.
Could pretend I was an archaeologist if I didn’t think to hard about it.
Clean yard to play in!  That is the best part. With a clean yard we were able to train outdoors! The Dog practiced her cik/cap turns in an area larger than 5’ x10’ and I am pleased to see it still worked! Then The Pup got to do some attention work in a new, inviting environment (bunny poo! STICKS! Neighbor dogs!).

Mostly though, they got to stretch their legs and RUN.  We got out Stick, who is an orange rubber ‘stick’ (No, for the LAST TIME it is NOT A SEX TOY!!!) and an outdoor toy only (Stick gets kinda gross). The Dog had a joyous reunion. (Stick came into her life last summer. She used to enjoy carrying real sticks around while I did yard work. Then she somehow punctured the back of her throat on one. Do you see a pattern here? The Dog should be in a padded room or bubble, but I will settle for Border Collie-proof toys instead.) The Pup found Stick to be AMAZING (but what doesn’t she find amazing, really?). 

Ooo, one more pro… now that the yard is clear…we can start construction on my dogwalk! YEA!!! I figure if The Pup is going to have a running contact I probably need to invest in one.

Let’s just hope Neighbor Lady’s pool doesn’t overflow into our yard again this year. Otherwise my dogwalk will need to double as an ark…. 

The Dog Says "Stick is my friend! Stick is the best!"
The Pup Says: "REAL Sticks are better- did u know u can eats dem?"
"Come play with us! Quick, before it snows again!"
"Um, Da Pup stole Stick. Help pulease."
"K, I broughts Stick- Pup attached. U throw now!"
And a quick video of The Dog and The Pup- Pup has Stick and is lording it over The Dog, who is simply biding her time until Stick is hers again.  Unfortunately for Pup, she usually forgets one important element to 'keep away-' Keep a hold on that which you are keeping away.  The Dog is thusly rewarded for her patience. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gator: Gone but Not Forgotten.

Hmmm, actually not really GONE gone either. More like, gone to a better place where he can no longer be savaged by the dogs.  

When I say ‘dogs’ I of course refer only to The Pup. She is wholly responsible for the mauling and maiming of the long-lived (by dog toy standards) Alligator Toy.   Her story was that his eye and stuffing brains just happened to fall out of him into her mouth which was open because she was giving him Nice Kisses.  Uh huh. If that is true, why are there puppy tooth sized scratches all over what is left of his eyes???  (The Pup was unavailable for further comment as she is currently serving hard time...and her mouth is full of stuffing brains...)

As for Alligator Toy…He gets to live in protective custody now with Wiggle Puppy.  Once I make him an eye patch that is… Here is a picture of the extensive injuries caused to his person by The Pup (Warning: Graphic Material- may not be suitable for small children or people who love stuffed Gator Toys.):
The Dog is inconsolable.  While stuffies aren’t usually her “thing” she had grown to love The Gator.  I found her with him after the incident in the pen. She had him gently between her front paws and was giving his bad eye licks- I think she was trying to put the eye back in place.  Sorry, Dog. Some things just can’t be fixed.  Especially by me as I am not crafty in that way.

 In Memory of The Gator (2006-2011)
With the exception of The Gator’s demise (oh, and one DVD case turned into Swiss Cheese by puppy teeth…and one toilet paper roll…), The Pup really IS starting to be more normal and less destructive around the house.  Maybe we have just gotten better about keeping stuff out of reach, but I’d like to think that she’s growing a brain inside that REALLY THICK skull of hers (seriously, is that normal? It’s like a helmet she wears on the inside?!?!).  This week we’ve added a few things to the training regime (not to be confused with THE REGIME- less than two weeks left on that!!!):

Heeling (no stops yet but both sides)

Post turns

Call to either hand while front-facing or facing away

Cross in Front groundwork

Sends to the Table

Stays on the Table

One Jump Work!  She is only ‘jumping’ the bar on the ground but I wanted to start the LM Jump/Click/Treat stuff to get her seeking/loving the jump. This way we can at least do some handling sequences! Eventually.

My version of Crate Games. So I have the DVD, just haven’t watched it.  But we are working on games in a crate; currently we are upping the difficulty level. She’s solid on getting in on command, laying down and making eye contact before her treat comes. We worked next on stay with tempting treats around the outside the crate. Also very solid. So last night we added her having to wait while I played mini games with The Dog and apparently its pure torture! She is pretty good, but when I give multiple treats The Dog she can’t stop herself from popping her head out. And sometimes her whole body.  It’s kind of imperative that she learns to wait her turn and watch QUIETLY (she found a new decibel range this week and likes to try it out whenever I work The Dog away from her…) so we are going to spend a LOT of time on this!

Sitting (NOT boinging) for Dinner

Toy/Treat exchange. I bought an unstuffed frog that you could put food in and we’ve been learning how to go between chasing toys and tugging and getting cookies. The hard part for her is going back to the tugging, but managed to refocus for some good play after a few attempts.

I still find her very biddable in her working temperament. She is a bit like The Dog in that she is very measured when she is first learning a process, but once it clicks for her she shows a TON of enthusiasm and drive (“OOO, can we do it again? And again and again and again???”). UNlike The Dog, I’ve never had her get frustrated and give up or shut down.  She works until she finds the right behavior. While she does have a patience/attention limit when I try to train with toys (I get 5 reps max of excellent board runs with a toy before she lies down and chews my plank), I have yet to find one with food.

So I suppose I’ll hang onto her for awhile more. Even though she is technically an attempted murderer at this point.
Lastly, I am still working on the cik/cap style turns with The Dog. She LOVES them. I would recommend this absolutely for any dog that has issue either jumping with collection or driving full tilt out of turns. Just the act of teaching them has tightened her up on course already, and we haven’t even implemented them “for real.”  We’ve worked up to 18”. She is maintaining excellent collection and doing pretty darn well on understanding the directional. This will likely never be a truly independent obstacle - she does rely on my position to discern which way to turn. I can be at a distance, but typically have to be on the side of her that I need her to turn (on her right to go to the right).  Basically, I would never be able to be tricky and rear cross which is fine by me.
I’m aiming to have these turns ready for a test run at MAC since we get to try the International courses. FUN! 

In close: Cute Dogs. Well, one cute, sad dog and one cute, mean, taunting dog. Guess which is which?

"Nah, nah, NAH MY Crack Ducky!!! Iz make U sad ! Ha!"
Guess who has Crack Ducky NOW????

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Day Grand Prix Became Our Beotch.

(…I can’t believe that in this day and age ‘beotch’ isn’t recognized by spell check. Oh well. *ADD WORD,* check!)

Yes, you are reading this correctly- after living in the land where Grand Prix qualifiers go to die for SEVEN MONTHS The Dog gets TWO clear rounds in a row and cinches up her 2011 Cynosport qualification. Yay! Now we actually have a few months to try and get like, consistent (imagine that!)  so maybe we won’t go off course in round one again this year…

SO yeah.  While she had another good show at the RACE trial, I have a few items to focus on before the next trial at the end of the month, and in the name of that ol’ rascal ‘consistency.’

First- the good stuff:
LOVELY weaves: swimming like a happy fish the whole weekend. One missed entry in the Gamblers opening, BUT she went on the get the distance weave gamble that I was honestly not thinking would be in the cards. I also didn’t try and limit her number of weaves for once and she still kept up speed.

GREAT contacts: Houston, We Have a Pattern.  Zero missed contacts. Not even a close call. The Aframe issue has been solved- case closed.  The Dogwalk performance we’ve been toying with continues to prove successful and no reversion to ‘stickiness.’

GOOD attention:  Something is wrong with The Dog. She is becoming… reliable! She shows up where I expect her to on course!  Only one or two China moments all weekend. She has been such a ‘worldly traveler’ in the past that it is strange to see her making an effort to dig in and follow my line more closely. It is even stranger for me to drop my hand down for her to come in… and for her to do it!

FAST times: I would describe a few of her times as BUTT KICKINGLY fast. She had a new personal highest YPS in Jumpers yesterday. It was a bit shocking to see where she fell in the field a few times.

Overall, she ran clean in 7/10 runs. She also had some very nice placements and so got some Top Ten points where she needs them. Yay.

As for those other three runs, or non-placing runs… HOMEWORK!
Jumps into Tunnels. ALL THREE NQs were due to a knocked bar before a tunnel.  One was my fault. (Thou shall not scream “COME” when Dog is jumping. Bad Leader.) The other two were just plain old flat, inattentive jumping.  I suspect I may have cued the tunnels early (in one case absolutely sure of that), so ok, they are ALL my fault but still- jumping the jump is her job on some level and we can work on that.

Sending to STUFF in between STUFF from afar. Our Snookers run was a Q technically, but a bit of a mess. I wanted to test her send to a tunnel across the ring while threading through jumps. Ah, not quite there yet. I know I didn’t drive appropriately and was worried about her taking a Red-Red. I guess the jumps are still more tempting to her over tunnels too. So we need some value-building in this area, it seems.

Me. Moving. Occasionally, I STILL find myself waiting for The Dog instead of moving. It’s not as horrible as it used to be, but I can think of three times specifically (and that’s only what I recall- I am sure there were others!) where I was watching her from what was apparently quicksand instead of getting to my next place.  No disasters, but resulted in a hesitant rear cross, getting behind, and a super wide front cross. When we are getting down to tenths and, this weekend, only hundredths separating the placements then these hesitations can make all the difference.
Anyways, I am mostly glad that both my girls are alive as of this posting.  The Dog, in addition to her weird shoulder bump injury (which is largely diminished and obviously not bothering her) also had a giant thorn thing buried in her back foot, apparently for some time as it was working itself out like a splinter when I found it. This was not until Saturday afternoon. And this morning, she gashed herself on an open drawer.  I wish she had a teeny bit of self preservation. Just an itsy bit- enough to at least let me know when she is gushing blood. 

A mere FLESH WOUND! Can I haz ball back now? 
The Pup is absolutely 100%. She no longer looks emaciated but has her cute puppy potbelly back again. She seems to be maturing a bit mentally.  She will sit and wait for her dinner which is pretty amazing (considering her levels of starvation the past few days).  We did some loose leash heeling this weekend and might as well call it heeling at this point. She walked at my side in a straight line with her head up in pretty perfect position the length of the arena and back. Both sides!  We’ve been working on her homework for the Silvia Trkman online class and she is doing really well. Pretty consistent recall (and consistently rewarded) at this point, four feet in a box is down (gonna need a smaller box now!), and doing really well on giving me eye contact on behaviors (as opposed to staring at the food while she sits, drops, etc). I think working on this behavior is what led to the great focus in heeling.  AND she got a gold star in hotel behavior this time and another one for car travel, despite the WI traffic jam!
... Are we there yet? Traffic jams SUCK BTW.
She did discover one new way to be naughty though. The flags they use to mark gas lines. Did you know the wind makes them wave at you? And when something waves at you, you have to rip it out of the ground and run away with it… 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Puppy with a Death Wish!

OK, so by now you probably know the harrowing tale of The Pup inhaling a rawhide end bit the other day. She spent a very hairy 48 hours following that action trying to work it out again.  It was kind of traumatic for her- she felt awful and was scared and depressingly sad.

You would think that a smart dog would learn from this.


I was attempting to let her system recuperate before letting her have any more chews. She was not having THAT apparently. Last night she proved just what a diabolical creature she really is.  Fed up with the imprisonment of rawhides (the supply locked in a spare bedroom) and seeing the futility of pawing at the door any longer, she started wandering around the house, seemingly aimlessly.

She casually went under the bed- totally normal- but all of a sudden I hear “CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP.” Thinking she was destroying the bed, I reached under to fish her out. I pulled her out only to discover Hidden Rawhide Stash One. The little evildoer had placed it there secretly in case of emergencies!


Anyways, I took it away and gave her Alligator Toy.

However, two minutes later, Alligator Toy was found abandoned by the couch. Again, I hear “CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP,” this time behind me.  I turned to see her exiting from behind the couch, revealing Hidden Rawhide Stash Two.   

Thus began a high speed pursuit to regain the prohibited materials.

Let’s just say I didn’t get that one back without a fight.

THEN a few minutes later I hear her scratching at the puppy pen from the outside. Next thing I knew, she scaled it to jump IN and she uncovered yet another Hidden Rawhide Stash (number three)!!

I gave up.

I apologized to The Dog for thinking she had been stealing and eating the strips.  

I think I was outfoxed by a three month old puppy.
We’re leaving for Illinois for a USDAA show shortly- wishing slightly I was at the AKC Nationals though. I really want to go sometime! At least I will get more runs and less downtime at the show we are going to though. And it’s not dirt- yaaaay!

So in parting: a video of the girls. You decide- who is playing and who isn’t??