a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Tika--Aside from Agility--

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Tika--Aside from Agility--

The pulling on the leash is a killer. I can usually walk around an agility trial with her without a lot of tussle--unless she gets it into her head that one of the other dogs is especially fascinating. But Walkies time in the morning is such a blood-pressure raiser every day. Who do I walk first, for how long, what do I work on with her--it's supposed to be a relaxing, stress-free physical activity for me. Hard to believe it's been going on for 9 months and I haven't made all that much progress.

BUT I know she's better in so many areas. She still barks more than I'd like, but I *think* she generally barks less & shuts up more quickly when she does bark.

She has recently started this new thing--makes me nervous because she's so quiet for so long--she just lies out on the grass, watching the back yard go by, waiting for somethng exciting to happen. So I get worried, because in the past, long periods of quiet from the Merle Girl meant trouble. I mean, she doesn't always lie there--she gets up to check out gophers, and squirrels, and apples, and stray branches that are threatening national security--but she's doing it all so quietly!

I was going to say that she almost never barks at night any more, then she woke me up barking fiercely at something--twice--at 4:00 this morning. Yawn.

She now has figured out pretty much that when I tell her to get off the bed or to move, she has to do so, and that usually it just means an adjustment, not a banishment from the bed, so I don't have to fight her most of the time and hardly ever even have to move her physically.

Argh, we had a nasty surprise Saturday night at Placerville. At midnight, sound asleep in my tent, I was woken groggily from a deep sleep by a dog barking ferociously outside who sounded a lot like--Tika! Somehow she had worked the tent door open and gone out. Then apparently Holly Bourne has been out of her trailer for some reason, and Tika had decided that she looked like a threat and had gone into that full watchdog backside down, frontside stiff, full frontal barking thing, keeping Holly out of her trailer. It might have been funny if it wasn't so scary, actually.

She didn't come when I called her, but she at least stopped barking at Holly and moved off into the darkness somewhere. When I finally grabbed some shoes and a jacket and some junk food, she continued to not come when I called, moving further & further off among the dark crating area. Finally she heard the rustle of the goodie bag opening and closing and came right over. At least she's learned what that means!

I never know what to do then--don't want to yell at her for not coming, but I'm not sure whether lavish praise is the right thing, either.

But I was sure more careful about making sure the tent zippers were shoved inside the security tab. I have no good way of locking them, but I think I'll be OK if i'm careful.

I do have remember to clip her cabana crate closed, because she's figured out how to unzip that. Jeez, I hate smart dogs.

We keep working on the recalls and on not leaving the yard except on a leash at my side. She hasn't escaped recently, but I don't think she's a safe bet yet to let out in the front yard off leash. I see improvement all the time, though, no matter how slow. She's more like my old husky, who wanted to go explore, and less like Remington, who really was a homebody (although he'd go out of the yard occasionally to see what was on the other side of the driveway, he always wanted to come back quickly). Even Jake prefers sticking around & has shown no reall interest in exploring.

She's got "Left" and "right" commands almost down (turning in circles only), which is pretty exciting. I'll have to double-check my notes from Rachel's session at Camp on what to do next.

Anyway--that's the update on your baby girl, since I haven't written anything in a while & haven't seen you, either. Think I'll go take a nap.

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