a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: December 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Merry Christmas from the Taj MuttHall, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dog Breeding

A friend's brother is looking for homes for puppies of his purebred sheltie. I don't really know the brother. But I'll bet I know more about him than one might think.

I'm betting (although I could be doing him an injustice) that he did not:
  • Ensure that his dog had all the proper veterinary tests and evaluations and x-rays and family tree analysis and/or DNA tests to be sure it was free from genetic or physical problems and wasn't likely to be a carrier of said problems
  • Ensure that she was a proven member of the breed (say, a good working dog, good show dog or at least conformation admired by knowledgeable breeders, good agility dog,, like that)
  • Ensure that the dog to which she was bred had likewise been vetted.
  • Know the male dog well (and the owners well)
  • Have a good idea of their market for the puppies and have at least some of the pups' new owners in line possibly even before the breeding took place
  • Have a detailed contract written up ahead of time for potential buyers to sign saying that he'll take the puppy back if it doesn't work out
  • Have a plan for checking the quality of home for the pups before they leave and for staying in touch with the pups' new "parents" to be sure they're still wanted & being taken care of and is knowledgeable enough about raising and training puppies (or has on hand a list of known experts for referrals) so he can help the new owners with difficulties.

Of course it's people who don't bother with that and/or don't bother with getting their dogs neutered or keeping them well confined if they don't who enable the rest of us to get rescue dogs... so maybe I shouldn't complain.

Like, when we adopted our husky from the pound mumble years ago (OK, 1981 if you must know) and she wasn't spayed yet and then escaped from the yard the first day we had her and apparently was in heat and we never knew it (although what either of us knew about identifying a dog in heat could be used for even the most onerous vacuum-chamber tests). And then the vet thought she was having a false pregnancy, so we really didn't research much about puppies or finding owners, and then we advertised randomly for people when they were 6 weeks old (nowadays everyone says that's at least 2 weeks too young), and although actually I *knew* that I should be asking lots of questions of the potential owners and all that—I didn't, I just was glad to get the puppies homes of any kind. So it's not like I don't understand that people don't know this stuff. But they could find out if they investigated a little bit.

The Big Problem with Poop-Wallowing Pups

The big problem with poop-wallowing pups, I realized with a stunned shock this morning, is that I don't know how I'm going to explain this to potential housesitters (even my housemate) should I decide to, oh, say, act like a real human being and go somewhere for the weekend without my dogs.

"Yes," I can say with sincerity, "It's a truly bonding experience to have just poured milk on your cereal, settled down in your nice warm robe and comfy slippers, and opened the funny pages, when the puppy and a noxious odor waft together through the dog door and wiggle up to you to share their new-found perfume." Then I can wax raphsodic about the joys of snagging the puppy's collar, hopefully not the part that's smeared with you-know-what, trying to stuff some goodies into your pocket with the other hand so that you'll have some rewards to try to mitigate slightly the trauma that the dog is about to endure, all the while keeping the dog far away from both yourself and the furniture.

Then imagine the pleasure of escorting the dog out through the narrow gap next to the doggie door, pausing while you kick off your slippers and slip on your yard shoes (never letting go of the dog), then out the porch door, down the stairs, and over to the spigot—and of course by now she knows what's going to happen because this has happened so many times before, so she's pulling and writhing and leaping in every direction, trying to get away. Then you turn on the hose with one hand, hanging onto the dog for dear life without your wrist getting sprained, and discover that the setting on the sprayer nozzle is wrong, so you fix that.

Then you try to spray off all the vestiges of doggie yuck from the dog's back, both sides, cheeks, ears, collar--oh yeah, and under the collar, too, don't forget that, and maybe on the legs, too--and some of it's layered pretty thickly for that truly intense aroma--without actually spraying the water under force directly in her ear, and without having the crud wash down into her eyes or mouth, and meanwhile keeping your hanging bathrobe away from the dog and the hose and the water--remember one hand is fighting with the collar and the other is holding the hose and you certainly don't want to try to snag her between your knees to hold her in place.

Meanwhile, as often as possible—still holding onto the collar—you set down the hose, tell the doggie what a good girl she is, and feed her some goodies. Then get back to work, you've barely touched the surface.

Oh, yes, housesitters will love that.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Twas the Night Before Sunday

Another nonpeaceful night in which all the creatures were stirring...

I went out yesterday afternoon for lunch and half a ballet (my first ever: Nutcracker) with friends. When I returned, the housemate told me that someone (presumably not him) had thrown up on the front doormat, which I finished cleaning up. The dogs greeted me, but Tika not with the usual insane screeching abandon. Indeed, she remained quite subdued the rest of the afternoon and evening. Example--a minute or two of enthused tug-of-war, then, when I tossed the toy, she followed it sedately and then lay down in a corner. So I knew she wasn't feeling well. In fact, all the dogs seemed unnaturally calm. I thought some of it might be the storm that was working its own way into a tantrum.

Went to bed about 10:00, the wind howling around the house. Got up at midnight because Tika wanted to go out; she and Boost both showed signs of diarrhea. That's with me standing on the wind-and-rain-blown porch in my bathrobe and slippers with a flashlight; usually I just let them go out, but I wanted to see why I was dragged from my bed to see what was the matter. (You know, away to the back deck I flew with a flash...light.)

Got up at 2 a.m. because Boost wanted to go out; she and Tika both showed signs of diarrhea. Got up at 4 a.m. because Tika wanted to go out; ditto. Jake went out every time, too, but I wasn't watching to see what he was up to. Got up at 6 a.m. because Boost wanted to go out; she pooped again but this time the other dogs stayed inside. Fortunately it wasn't heavy rain at any time during the night so the dogs weren't soaked through to the skin and it was fairly easy to dry them off.

Then, finally, got up at 8 a.m. because Jake felt that I had slept in plenty long enough past my usual wake-up time (7-7:30ish). I'm a little woozy. It's pouring rain out there now. But I'm left wondering: Why? What did they find in the yard? Are we done with it? Are they OK? As much a I like a good puzzle, this is NOT a good puzzle, it's a very bad one. Sigh.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Buja Boards

A friend asked whether I'd ever used a Buja Board—typically a 3'x3' piece of plywood with half of a small-to-medium ball (like a jolly ball) attached underneath in the center--or all of a smaller ball, like a softball--so that the board rocks around in all directions. It's designed to allow you to play with your dog while getting him used to the idea of motion underneath, such as for eventually teeter-totter training, wiggly tables, and so on.

I've used one a few brief times. I have a table here that's just pretty wiggly to begin with, and for Boost I just put the top on the ground with random things under it to make it wigglier and to bounce from side to side kinda like a very low teeter. Neither she nor any of my dogs have ever been particularly bothered by things moving under them, so I haven't gone out of my way to pursue it beyond the occasional "here get on this wiggly thing." I put boost on the board that Lisa Maynard had in class for the puppies and, with our bit of background play in my yard with my table top, she barely even noticed that she wasn't on bare ground any more. I don't think it wiggled any more than my makeshift one did.

More About Boostie

I've just updated Boost's page with a list of her siblings, and her history page (the story of how I came to own a BC for doing agility with) has a bit more info and a bunch more photos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Official!

When I first got The Booster, I right away came up with a name that I wanted to use for her official registered name: Interstellar Propulsion (Boost--Booster rocket--get it? OK, I thought it was obvious). But, after adding the required kennel name from the breeder (Hi C-Era), the AKC forms and instructions said that I had 2 too many characters. So I agonized & waffled & tried a whole lot of other names & came up with some potentially good ones, but I really wanted that one. (Friend Gail helped and came up with some better ones than my alternatives, but I still liked my original.)

So I dawdled and dawdled, waiting either to decide on one of the alternate names from my lists (kept pulling them out and reviewing them in case perhaps I had missed one that was particularly good) or for The Perfect Other Name to appear from the heavens. But no deux ex machina resolution for my dilemma.

Then, over time, two separate people told me that their understanding was that AKC would, in fact, nowadays accept names that were much longer than their forms allowed. So I took a chance a couple of weeks ago and finally sent in the forms (had to do it before her first birthday anyway, or pay a penalty).

The registration paper came back today and she's in! Ta-da! I'm so pleased. Simple things--

So it's now Hi C-Era Interstellar Propulsion to you, sirs and madams!

(I know that this sort of thing is old hat to many of my friends, but all my previous dogs have sufficed as "Finchester's Remington", "Finchester's Tika", and "Finchester's Jake." Now I'm all excited, though, and am thinking I should pay the registration-change fee to USDAA and CPE to change Tika's name to—oh—hmmm, guess I'll have to come up with something, eh? Nahhh, probably too late for her CATCH plaque if they're as efficient as they usually are in placing the order. What are the odds I could come up with something in the next couple of days that I liked & could catch the CATCH before it was done?)

Jake's Tooth

The lower right tooth (our right, his left) is out of position and discolored.
On Tuesday, while playing tug-o-war with Jake, I noticed that one of his very worn-away front teeth looked askew. Upon further examination, it proved to be a bit loose, although it didn't seem to bother him in the least (play ball! play ball! play ball!).

Still, I took him in to see the vet. Vet says there's likely a little bit of infection in there. Sometimes teeth that get loose like this come out on their own, but the incisors have very long roots and it seems unlikely that this one will pop out on its own. So we can either treat for a mild infection and just monitor the tooth, or we can schedule anaesthesia and do an extraction and do all the follow-up care on that. I opted for antibiotics for 2 weeks and just keep an eye on the tooth. There's no puffiness or lumps at the site and no reaction at all when we wiggle the tooth.

Jeez, I'd hate to have a toothless old dog in my care. Vet says his other teeth look fine, though.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What IS the Attraction?

I am very tired of going out in the subfreezing weather in the morning and holding onto the collar of a struggling dog whose neck, shoulders, collar, and face are most likely covered with objectionable material in which she has been rolling, and hosing her off with icy water. Neither of us enjoy it. We're doing it pretty much every day. How can I get her to make the connection?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Landscaping for Dogs

Mulch surrounds this lilac planter; it provides the perfect camouflage for doggie deposits.
I've come to believe that there's no such thing ("landscaping for dogs"). If it's plain dirt, the dogs get dusty in summer and muddy in winter. If it's grass, they'll dig up parts of it because it smells interesting or they'll inadvertently create those little round bare spots all over it, or wear paths across frequently traveled parts of it.

If it's mulch, like the wood-chip mulch I have on half of my yard, it needs constant redistribution because when you toss toys for them to chase, they slide to a halt on the surface, pushing mounds of mulch up along the sides of the yard. Plus it can all be about the same size and color as doggie deposits that you're trying to clean up so you don't step in while moving around the yard.

Concrete's no good--it's ugly, it's hard (you don't really want dogs jumping and leaping on it, say, for agility practice), and you can't rearrange it really easily unless you own your own jackhammer and backhoe.

There's now artificial turf that apparently is better than the real thing and doesn't have the problems with being slippery and hard that the 1970s version had. It's laid down on top of a thick absorbent layer, too, so you don't have water or other dog-provided liquids sitting on or near the surface. You don't have to mow it or water it. But (a) it's very expensive and (b) like concrete, once it's there, you can't change your mind about it.

Landcaping hereabouts is very confused this year; temperatures stayed very mild until very recently. Most of these trees were mostly green until a week or so ago. Now they're starting to drop their leaves in earnest—in mid-December! Very confused.
Trees and shrubs are right out, too, at least the deciduous ones. You think it's hard to find doggie deposits on the raggedy, spot-marked lawn or in mulch without leaves, you oughta try it with the surfaces covered with hundreds of random-shaped yellowish-and-brownish leaves, all of which could be disguising or covering up those--ahem--unwanted yard decorations.

This nice fountain takes more than the basic anti-algae, leaf-removal treatment, because doggie toys, dirty doggie toungues, and dirty doggie feet find their way herein as well.
And as for water features— well, the dogs think they're great, especially if they're rancid, because that makes much better drinking water than the fresh stuff in their water bowl conveniently located near the door to the house. Or, if the water's particularly clear, it's good to take your large toss-n-fetch toy that you've been salivating on and that's been rolling in the dust and loose mulch and drop it into the water to rinse it off.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Boost's Page

I've finally given Boost her own page like the other dogs have. Click the link under her photo. Then go to the Full Story to read my guilt-assuaging explanation of why I got a Border Collie with which to do dog agility. Still collecting photos to add later.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Quintessential Agility Car

Clean Run Magazine is doing an email survey on agility vehicles. Here are my responses:

Q: What breed(s) of dog do you own, and how many of each breed?

Sheltie mix, Aussie Probably, Border Collie (1 each)

Q: What automobile do you drive?

2001 Toyota Sienna LE

Toyota web site with description & links to detailed features.

Q: Is it a van, station wagon, SUV, truck, or car?


Q: How long have you had it?

4 years—as of this very week.

Q: Did you purchase it new or used?

Used, with 21,000 miles on it.

Q: Did you purchase it with transporting dogs and gear to trials in mind?

Yes! Otherwise I'd have a nifty sporty little sedan! I'm not a minivan fan!

Q: Can you estimate the highway and city gas mileage you get (if not, don't worry, I would have no clue either)?

Highway, 24 mpg. City, I don't do that much, maybe 20?

Q: Have you modified your vehicle in any way? If so, how?

No. (We're not mentioning the custom crushing on the lower edge of the rear hatch door where I occasionally forget to close the door before opening or closing the garage door on top of it.)

Q: What things do you like about your vehicle, especially in terms of using it for agility-related travel?

  • I can get a lot of stuff into it, including 2 medium-large metal crates across the back (just barely), a full-size canopy (with one crate sitting on top of it, and lots and lots of other stuff.

  • Seats come out sort of easily and independently of each other (4 individual seats in the back, no benches), so I normally have 3 seats stored stacked in my garage. As a bonus, the metal gidgies to which the seats normally attach make excellent tie-downs for my dogs' crates. (Cars where the seats fold into the floor don't have this; plus seats are HEAVY so seats that stay in the car add unneeded weight when you're driving.

  • Front and back heat & a/c can be controlled separately, so I don't have to have heat blowing on the dogs when I'm cold (or a/c blowing on me when they're hot).

  • Spare tire is stored under the car so all I have to move if I have a flat is enough stuff to get at the bolt in the back floor that I have to turn (a million times) to release the tire.

  • Standard (I think) roof rack for the occasional extra thing that there's just not room for. And the crossways slats adjust forward and backward.

  • Sliding doors on BOTH sides.

  • Powered sliding door is very nice...when it's working properly.

  • Toyotas have been reliable cars for me and this is doing fine at 84,000 miles.

  • Reasonable gas mileage.

  • Cruise control!

  • Good power (6 cyl) going over hills and mountains; good acceleration for freeway merging.

  • Lights that automatically turn off (interior & exterior) after a certain time if you forget or if you leave your door open.

  • Power exterior mirrors.

  • Front & rear wipers.

  • CD player.

Q: What don't you like about it?

  • Removable seats--on the down side, it is SO much easier to be able to just fold a seat down into the floor and not have to haul the heavy thing around the garage & store it forever if you're not using it.

  • Other minivans (even later-model Siennas) seem to have a few extra inches side to side so I could get my crates in easier and a few extra inches front to back.

  • Side door windows don't open.

Q: Will you purchase a similar vehicle in the future? Why or why not?

Yes, because I need the space.

Q: What are some characteristics that your agility vehicle must have?

  • Space for 2-3 med-large crates, large canopy, all the other typical agility stuff plus camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc.).

  • Good gas mileage. Cruise control. Good power and acceleration.

  • Must fit in the garage.

  • Heat & A/C.

Q: What are some luxuries you'd like to have for your agility vehicle?

  • All power doors that work well both under power and manually. My powered door has been flaky since I got it (used) and, when I turn off the power, it is very difficult to use. I've used other vans that work smoothly either way.

  • Heated seats.

  • Side air bags.

  • Hybrid engine for better fuel economy.

  • Automated cleaning system that removes all dog hair at the push of a button. (OK, I didn't really list that in the survey.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Weave Pole Entries

Boost is in the process of learning weave pole entries using Susan Garrett's two-by-two method. The beginning is simply having 2 poles alone and teaching the dog to run through them. Boost is getting pretty good at it once she realizes that that's the game we're playing at the moment. I'm at a disadvantage in some ways because my yard is crowded with agility equipment and so Boost runs past it, through it, and around it all the time. Susan (and others) have said repeatedly that it's a bad idea to let dogs learn to run past agility equipment, because in the long run you don't want them doing that. Oh, well, I'll have to work around that disadvantage.

Tika has really nice weave pole entries. Even though I believe in using 12-pole weaves as often as possible in training, for this I used 6-pole weaves. After she got the basic weave poles down, we had a couple of problems. One was that she'd hit the poles at such a tremendous speed that she'd bounce off the second pole, sometimes causing her to bounce right past the next necessary step--and a couple of times, actually knocking the weave poles over. The other problem was that she wasn't working hard enough at finding the correct entry from difficult directions or when I wasn't right there, a couple of steps before the weaves, to get her to line up.

My biggest progress on both of these issues came with a pretty simple exercise in the yard that we did over and over. I lined up two tunnels in U shapes facing each other, about 40 or 50 feet apart, and put a set of 6 weaves between them. Then I just blasted her back and forth from tunnel to tunnel, doing the weaves in between. (Note that I'm not talking 10 times in a row with no interruption; sometimes 1, 2, 3, or maybe as many as 4 but not usually, then a lot of excited playing with her tug toy.) I used the clicker when she was having a little trouble with certain entries. She'd be going so fast that rewarding for the click at the end of the poles worked very well for her.

This set-up allowed me to vary the distance between the tunnels and the weaves, so she had to adjust her full-speed stride no matter the distance of the approach. I could change my physical position easily--closer or further away, before or after the pole entrance, facing her or facing away, etc. I could change the angle of the weaves gradually, clockwise or counterclockwise, from the main path between the tunnels, so she had to get the entry at full speed from either direction to some very sharp angles--towards the end (after lots of practice), I could have the weaves roughly perpendicular to the path between the tunnels, which gives us better than 90-degree independent entries.

I cleaned up the really sharp angles (greater than 90 degrees) using jumps rather than tunnels for the various approaches. I'm not sure whether she can do a 180-degree turn into the weaves from directly alongside them--hmmm, will have to give that a try today--but she has gotten so reliable that sometimes I forget that, in reality, some weave entries in competition really are extremely difficult and need at least a clue from the handler about where the dog should be going. Still, I can plan on doing very difficult courses or challenging handling strategies that involve the weaves because I know that she'll work hard at getting that weave entry.

She still sometimes hits that second pole and bounces, but now she always makes it into the second turn; the only problem with that is that it slows her down a fraction as she recovers. I can live with that--

My thought is that I can start the tunnel-weave entry-tunnel with Boost soon in conjunction with the 2-pole entry, as she gets better and better at that simply on the flat. I hope I'm directing her correctly; you always hate working on something for a while and then discovering that you missed a tricky key component that makes all the difference in the world. I'll have to ponder the tunnel-entry-tunnel thing, though; it might be most effective only after the dog has learned that they have to make that turn into the second pole. But maybe not. TBD.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maybe Even More Agility Bloggers--

Heh--things I never knew about Blogger and I've been on for a few years now. You can pick some specific interests to show up in your user profile, then someone can pick, say, "Dog agility" as an interest and it lists other Blogger users who also picked that interest! Not that I need anything else to spend my time on...

Other Agility Dog Blogs

I'll have to put permanent links to these up here, somewhere, soon-- Seems to me there must be many, many more, but apparently the Blogger.com search finds the text only in the blog titles, not in the description, because I didn't see Taj MuttHall listed in their search results anywhere when asking about dog agility. Harrumph.

Is Jake Retiring or Not? And Jump Heights--

Jake and jump height comparisons: Jake stands 17.75 inches at the withers (top of shoulder blades). For comparison, the top of the purple-banded bar is at 16" (just about 2" shorter than Jake's shoulders). The top bar is 24", the height Jake jumped for at least the first couple of years in USDAA until they lowered it to 22" (the next bar down). In CPE, he's currently jumping 12" (the lower cow-print bar) but could drop to 8" in CPE "Specialist" class (the lowest checkered bar).

I had decided (again) that the week after Thanksgiving would be Jake's last week in class and then he'd be retired from classes, if not entirely from competing, although I'm pretty sure I'll not jump him 16" in USDAA any more. Jumping veterans 12" in CPE should be plenty fine, though. And we can always still drop to 8" in CPE "Specialist" if we want to! (Quite a difference for a dog who earned his ADCH at 24"...)

Except last week in class he ran like a champ, at 12" anyway. We had quite a discussion about how one decides to retire a dog. One comment was that one waits for the dog to let you know he's ready to retire (and after LAST Thanksgiving's official retirement from agility, we already know that Jake let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't ready to retire yet--). Another comment was that if we all quit agility when we had aches and pains and arthritis and injury, we'd all be spending evenings and weekends at home instead of doing agility.

So then the class decided that Jake should at least keep coming to class until the end of the year. (So--OK--that's only this week and next week--) You know I love having other people make my decisions for me.

Yesterday afternoon he did not want to come outside and play ball while I had Tika and Boost out. It's always hard to tell whether that's because (a) he's feeling stiff and achey, (b) he's hoping the housemate will give him some sandwich meat, (c) there's a rawhide bone that he's been guarding (not chewing) for 2 days and he doesn't want to leave it alone in the house for fear some stranger will sneak in and abscond with it. Yesterday I suspected (c) but you never can tell.

Up at Power Paws Agility, there's a dog-potty area that is on a slope of about--I'm guessing--30%. It's hard to walk on; this is the kind of terrain that requires sheep with longer legs on the left side than on the right so they can stand upright to graze instead of falling over sideways. Last night I took Jake out there, and he trotted around, tail wagging, looking for Just The Right Spot--but every time he turned to go in a different direction, his rear legs started falling out from under him. It just didn't look like a good healthy rear propulsion system.

It started drizzling as class began. Most (not all, but most) dogs seem to enjoy cooler, slightly damper weather. Energizes them for agility. Remington used to love it; I got some of his best runs in such weather. Last night, it seemed to be the same for Jake. Not only was he excited, but I believe he started out running even faster than he did the previous week. And he ran very nicely, too; we ran like a championship team and he even made some difficult weave entries!

How DOES one decide when it's time to retire a dog? Apparently being 14 and arthritic isn't sufficient.

We decided to retire for the evening when, about half an hour before the end of class, it started to rain in earnest. Jake was not enthused about that much water. I tried to convince him to duck under one of the plastic lawn chairs, but he thought it was some kind of trick and did his best to avoid it. Fortunately I carry a fold-uppable (foldable-up? foldable-uppable?) poncho in my car for myself--still got quite wet, though. Then the lights on the field went out. Only a single light remained lit, barely enough for us to help the instructor clear the equipment from the field because they were heading out of town for four days to Winter Camp. Then sopping me and sopping Jake headed home to our warm, dry bed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Kaput Stealth Dog

Boost has now broken two plastic "I'm lost" phone number collar tags, so as of yesterday, she has an official metal one. This now tings against her license tag, so I hope that we'll have fewer incidences of Stealth Dog. (Example: Open door to garage door, step out with one foot, grab something off the shelf by the door, step back inside, close door. Fifteen minutes later notice that the puppy hasn't been lately seen. Open door to garage. Voila: Stealth dog.)

Pet Stores

One of the cool things about pet stores is that you can take your pet into them. All of my first five dogs have enjoyed the trip. It's like a candy store—or maybe Disneyland's whole Main Street—for dogs. So much to look at! So much to smell! So many little treaties to be found hiding under the edges of the shelving!

Boost, however, finds the whole concept terrifying. Too much stimulation. Noises behind the shelving (in the next aisle). Dead animal parts all over the place (bones, rawhides, stuff like that--you don't know, you could be next!). Large unfamiliar objects. Small unfamiliar objects. Sudden wafts of unfamiliar odors.

She likes the fact that some people give her goodies, but she might or might not be too worried or downright scared to accept or enjoy the treats. I try letting her walk in at her own pace, but we don't usually get very far that way. I try sitting with her and just doing calming things, so she might calm down and sit next to me, but as soon as I release her, the tail's between the legs again and she's heading for the door. At least she's not peeing all over the floor any more.

Jake and Tika love it, though. So little time, so many things to smell and eat! Can hardly get them to leave the store. I've tried taking Boost in with one or the other of the dogs, and I think it helps just a little bit, but what is more likely to happen is that we'll get much further into the store and then she panics and wants out.

Oh, well, I'll keep working at it. The more scary things in this world that she can master, the better we'll all be for it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Holiday Spirit

Ah, yes, the true holiday spirit--soft cushy Christmas toys and big sharp pointy teeth.
OK, that's better.

Words Not Dogs

I've been meaning to do this for a long time. Now I've done it. Check out the beta version of Word Whirled.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dog Photos Just For Fun

When my housemate makes his sandwiches for work the next day, guess who regularly shares some tidbits.
Boostie at 10 months. Stretching--bored? cramped? ready to play?
Close-up of the brown part of her eye that you usually can't see so that it looks just blue (as in preceding photo). Note holiday collar. Imagine holiday music playing in the background.

And picture decorations of red on a green Christmas tree...no, wait, tree has been sitting out in a basin of water for 2 days. Took Boost out to look at it to see whether it would spook her. "Yeah? A tree. So what?" But when I first turned on my stereo--"Bark! Bark! Danger! Look out! Something's invading our house! Woof!" But ended up quite curious when I started pushing buttons (switching CDs) and the sound changed. She had to put her feet up on the stereo to look. Waiting to see what happens when the tree springs into existence in the living room in a threatening manner. Probably tomorrow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

We Were Doing So Well--

Boost is getting better and better at bladder control. Before we left for the USDAA nationals November 8th, it had been at least 2, maybe 3 weeks since we'd had an accident in the house...until the night before we left. My friend/co-driver Jackie was here with her 9-month-old French Bulldog, Elliot--just a couple of days younger than Boost--and he and Boostie played and played. While we later sat and ate dinner, with Elliot snoozing in his crate, Boost snoozed soundly on the floor near the crate. (Excercise is a great thing for puppies!

After dinner, Jackie walked over to Elliot's crate and let him out--Boost scrambled suddenly to her feet, taken by surprise I guess, and very excited—and peed on the floor without, I think, even realizing that she was doing it.

But that was the last time...until yesterday afternoon. I was up in the attic in Santa's Workshop. The housemate was down in the kitchen. Apparently Tika was hanging around by the doggie door, probably watching the housemate to see whether he'd be distributing any free food. Housemate reports that Boost was running back and forth in a slightly unusual manner, between the hall and Tika, not going past Tika out the doggie door. He assumed that she was playing (because she often runs back and forth on her own, although usually with a toy), until she squatted on the carpet-runner doormat.

So I had to apply Nature's Miracle and let it sit for a while, then wash the carpet. She's 10 months old now; I can't imagine (well--I can, but for argument's sake--) that we'll be having many more of these accidents. I hope.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Height and Weight

I meant to mention that I really did get my weight back down to my goal weight range well before going off to the nationals and I'm managing to keep it there so far. I do love to eat. There will be lots of time off from dog stuff over the next month. Argh. We'll see how it goes--

Boost's Branches

What is it about sticks?

Boost seems to prefer chewing on branches, sticks, and logs more than almost anything. I've tried to divert the chewing, with very limited success. Here's what happens if I give each of the dogs a nice rawhide bone:

Jake carries his around and growls constantly at Boost when she dares to even be in the same room with him. For hours. Constantly. CONSTANTLY. JAKE, SHUT UP!!!!

Boost buries hers in the back yard somewhere then comes inside and lies there, watching, while:

Tika chews on hers for a while. Depending on the size of the rawhide, she usually quits about 2/3 of the way through and goes looking for something else. Boost usually takes over from there until it's finished. Then she goes and gets a stick.

I have bits of chewed-up wood all over my floor and carpet constantly. Sometimes, if Boost isn't actively working on a particularly appealing thick piece of wood, Jake or Tika will spell her on it so that I don't have to suffer through any period of time when my carpet is actually free of little woody splinters and chips.