a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Dog Dreams, Boost Balance, and Just Tika

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dog Dreams, Boost Balance, and Just Tika

SUMMARY: Where my mind goes at night, and what we're doing during the day.

Last night was a night for dreaming about dogs. I dreamed that we were at a picnic at the beach, sitting at a weathered gray picnic table on a rocky crag (which is what surrounds a lot of beaches here on the west coast). It was very cold; we were wearing winter clothing. And Mom mentioned that she had seen Sam recently.

Well, Sam was our old family dog. She came home with us when I was in 5th grade. I hadn't seen her around in a long time. So I was a little excited. I got up from the picnic table and called "Sam!", and there she came, up from the beach onto the rocks to see what we were up to. And she was kind of old and needed her back rubbed, so I massaged her back and neck really good, and she stood there taking it all in on a gray and almost foggy coastal winter day. And I thought, wow, I regret not having done more of this her whole life.

But then Remington, lying on a blanket in a little cozy indentation where the sand met the craggy rocks, snarled at Sam, and Sam thought better of being there, and trotted away again. And I think I knew that Remington was ill or he wouldn't have been so ill-mannered, but he was happy when I came over to him.

Then, much much later in the night, I'm sure, we were going to set up a barbecue out on a grassy island in the stream. It was very cold; we were wearing our winter clothing. (I'm catching a theme here: winter and picnics and water. Perhaps I was cold and hungry and water? In the middle of the night under my dry and toasty warm down comforter?) This time it was my ex and my mother-in-law.

And I was trying to figure out which shoes to wear to get through the river without getting my feet wet. Decided that my agility shoes wouldn't work, and probably not my hiking boots. And I have these old giant rubber boots that my ex gave me years ago for wearing on wet agility mornings, and they've been sitting out on the porch and when I looked at them last month they're all cracked so probably not waterproof (this isn't in the dream; this is real). So in the dream, I pull them out of the truck and almost wore them, but then decided that since the water was going to be up to my waist that it was pointless, so just waded in.

But as I was wading in, an incompetent frisbee-thrower (and I don't know who that was) somehow ended up losing BOTH of my frisbees from the back of the van into the really rapidly flowing middle of the river, and right downstream there was a sharp drop where the water really rushed through, big whitewater thing, and I started to race down the bank to catch up with them, but then Boost leaped in and was caught in the flow and disappeared downstream much faster than I could get through the thick woods.

So we went downstream, wading the whole way, for miles, looking for Boost, even though my sister kept asking me to look for chrysanthemums for her wedding (apparently they spring up in the river if you look closely enough), and I said I wasn't looking for anything until I found Boost, and I was so scared because she hates being in the water and it was so cold. But finally I found the 2 frisbees sitting on the bank, neatly placed there, and I kept looking around, and sure enough, there was Boost, half curled up, exhausted, in the grass on the riverbank, so beaten that she couldn't even lift her head, but the tip of her tail wagged and I was so glad to find her alive.

I know you wanted to know all that.

So we move on.

The vet/masseuse I mentioned in A Break for Boost and More About Boost OKed listing her name: Cindy DiFranco. She's based in Arizona but gets around a lot in California.

Boost and Tika have been working on their balance and coordination exercises.

Backing up stairs: Boost always wants to start by first putting a front foot up one step and to the side, so that she's going up almost sideways. Although a dog who goes up the stairs sideways might be entertaining, I work each time on getting her to start straight back. This is a long-time thing, and I just haven't worked on it conscientiously until now. Tika does very well going backwards up the stairs and always has.

I pumped more air into my 25" exercise ball so it's much firmer, so the dogs are finding it easier to stand on. Tika seems so huge even on that big ball! At the moment, because she started doing it automatically, she's got her hind feet on the ground and walks forward, rolling the ball under her front feet. She's getting it pretty quickly, although she'll often just let it roll away from her so that she can lean her chest on it so it doesn't move. Pretty clever. But I also get her to stand on it in a stationary position.

Boost once again showed how she watches and learns; when I first had Tika on the ball after our session with Cindy, giving her rewards for it, then bought Boost over, Boost immediately leaped up onto the ball. I have had them on the ball from time to time in the past, but not very much; not enough that I'd expect that from Boost if she hadn't seen Tika getting amply rewarded for it. She wants to sit right away on the ball (I'm supporting it so it doesn't move), which is pretty funny. Since she wanted to go up on top right away, I let her get her balance, reward, and let her off a few times in a row. Then I move the ball backwards just a little (so she has to move her feet forward to keep her balance).

I think she'll get this pretty quickly, although a solid ball or keg or such would be easier than the flexi ball--but the latter is better for balance and using the related muscles.

Different from agility.

I haven't gotten the boxes out in a couple of weeks (progressively smaller boxes for them to stand in). Boost is better at smaller boxes. It is funny because I don't think their body lengths are much different; just Tika is 3" taller. Hmm, will have to measure shoulder to hip to know for sure.


  1. Don't forget to measure both sides so you can tell whether their frames are bent. ;-)

  2. Wow, that's quite a dream! Do you dream in color too?

    BTW - wanted to tell ya when you get the babble ball, you may want to try it in a sock first. Gracie liked it, it gave her something to grab onto. And thank you :)

  3. Yep, I had read about Gracie's sock for her babble ball and have been counting on it--I just need to come up with some old socks!

  4. Yep, dream in color--I could see the frisbee's colors exactly. :-)

    And I still haven't measured my dogs, bent or otherwise.

  5. Was wondering why some folks dream in color (my Mum does too :) and why some don't. Why some remember their dreams so vividly and some never remember their dreams at all. Gotta mean somethin' right?

  6. I've read that it's possible to teach yourself to remember your dreams; and/or to teach yourself to wake up when you're having a dream so that you remember it to start with and then eventually remember them without having to do that. I don't know how one goes about it. Also read somewhere that people who grew up around others who remembered and talked about their dreams seemed to do the same. Genetics? Just a learning thing?