a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: April 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

High Tech Cleverness Wins the Day

SUMMARY: Finding FitBit.

(oops forgot to post this. Posting on May 2, backdated for correct date.)

Monday morning:
Thought that I'd lost my FitBit; disappeared sometime while I was doing errands and things Sunday afternoon, but didn't notice that I wasn't wearing it until late in the afternoon after I'd been doing yardwork. Couldn't find it anywhere. It just occurred to me, almost a day later: If it's within 50 feet of my computer, it would be automatically syncing. And, sure enough, it last synched about 8 minutes ago. And the last activity was actually not long before I discovered that it was missing. Means it is SOMEwhere here. That doesn't preclude being in the house, car, or yard, but at least it's not in, say, the Home Depot parking lot.

Tuesday evening:
I looked everywhere that I could think of (at least it made me put some things away), and no find-um. I double-checked the auto-sync feature and it says it has to be within 15 feet, not 50! So I actually measured 15 feet in various directions with a tape measure--which still encompassed the whole office, part of the garage and car, part of the yard, the dinette, and parts of the upstairs-- and looked again. STILL no findee. In despair (after an unpleasant day, medically, shall we say I'm hungry but dare not eat), yes in despair I went to google and typed WHERE IS MY FITBIT? Lo and behold, a fitbit page popped up with that title, and one of the suggestions was to set the silent alarm and see whether I could hear its vibrations. Bingo! In a place I hadn't looked because I didn't even remember being there--behind a box of papers next to the file cabinet. Good thing, because the battery was almost gone. Now Mr. Fitbit is cheerfully recharging.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Water Intoxication Can Kill Your Dog

SUMMARY: Some reading for every dog owner.

After Kinetic's death this week--second young dog in our club over the past few years to die from water toxicity--it's good to be reminded of the dangers of water:
And, incidentally, too much water can make humans very sick, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Heavy Heart

SUMMARY: This month has been rough on our local agility community.

Updated April 25: Links at end.

One of the things about knowing people in the agility community is that they are so active, mentally and physically, and young enough to be active and healthy, that we seldom lose anyone. Maybe every 2 or 3 years to cancer, say.

But now--

A month ago, Katy Silverman died suddenly "after a short illness." I knew her only from watching her run her dog Bindi occasionally at CPE trials, but she was young and healthy and several years younger than I am. Her obituary.

Three weeks ago, another local, Marge Ryder, died suddenly--not someone I knew but plenty of my agility friends did, and some friends have pups related to her dog Kefi.

Last week, Lisa Pomerance--also several years younger than I am--gone.

And now a dog-- found out just an hour ago--  One of the other things about knowing so many people in the agility community is that I also know so many dogs. And dogs get old so much quicker than people, and they die, and I grieve their passing. But this:

 Kinetic. Three and a half. Gone yesterday in little more than a blink of an eye from water intoxication. Her Human Mom, Susan, has been involved in the dog world and agility for many years but I've never seen her love a dog as much as she loved Kinetic. She's called Kinetic her heart dog, and it was so obviously right between them. They're another pair that go almost everywhere together.

They love hiking together--and I've been on so many hikes with them, and that little Pap can hike 10 miles with the best of them, never being carried. They could definitely hike faster than I could.

They love doing agility--she had world-team aspirations (they'd have been on their way to the AKC team try-outs next week), and this dog could do it. Just watching them stream around a course as fast as or faster than any of the border collies, both so graceful and focused and damned fast, was an experience that drew applause and cheers from the audience.

And Kinetic had a hundred aunts and uncles at agility trials or wherever else they went. You could pick Kinetic out of the crowd with her always-colorful plume of a tail.

I'm heartbroken all over again.

***  Read this about the dangers of water ***

*** Another tribute to Kinetic ***

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Little Hiking

SUMMARY: At Santa Teresa Park.

Took Chip on his first hike at Santa Teresa. We haven't been there in far too long. Finally, the rain that came in late March made the hills green and now the grasses and wildflowers are up.


A success--Chip actually sat and waited while I took a couple of photos! Well--had to resit him once. And I did make the shots hurried so that it would be a dog-sit success.

In the first half of the hike, we saw mostly the yellow mustard. On the second half--and I didn't have my flower-shooting camera with me--I spottted Itherial's Spear, Blue Dicks, Fiddlenecks, Blue-Eyed Grass, tons of poppies, some kind of Vetch, and random others. (No photos of any of them, but here's a pretty field.)

I wasn't sure how much hiking Tika could do, but she managed a fairly steady if slowish pace, and we did about two and a half miles, including two long gradual uphills and a couple of steep downhills, in about 90 minutes. A slow pace for a moderate hike, but not bad for the old girl.

Managing three dogs is challenging!  We saw only one other dog jogging by with his human (chip wanted to bark wildly, and I didn't see them in time to quell it in advance), a couple of other joggers, and a dozen bikes or so. Chip wanted to bark at them, too, but I talked him through it and gave him treats for looking at me.

Tika thought it was a good workout but the younger dogs barely even counted it as exercise.  But it was nice to be out and about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Clicker training

SUMMARY: Nose touch and stuff.

OK! One more concentrated evening of practicing, several sets of several repetitions, and he's started pressing his nose to the middle of the clear plastic target fairly reliably--pretty much around the 80% success rate where I can start adding the verbal "touch", I think--he's still a bit wobbly on the idea if I move it too far from him, but I think we're in a good place. (I'll have to think some more about that--he's still deliberate about it rather than excited... maybe I should wait until I can find how to get him excited about it. ... Garden hose reward? Hmmm. Like where the other dogs push hard to get to the target to get the reward.)

Last night he also got to practice lying down and staying in one place while I worked with the other dogs, cuz that's what we do--only one dog works with me and clicker at a time. I had to replace him multiple times, but he actually stayed down for longer and longer durations, getting rewards for it.

He hated it when I was free-shaping Boost, though, when Boost started barking. Freaked him out for some reason, tail down and everything. Will have to pay attention to that, too.

With Boost & Tika, decided to try doing some free shaping to see what they'd do with a cushion, since I tend to do the same things with them. Well, that was challenging--they both stare at me intensely while doing things with their bodies and feet on the cushion, but never lowering their heads or turning their heads away from me. Clearly I need to do more of that sort of stuff again; time was when either of them would quickly get around to grabbing it or nudging it.

Clicker training can be SO much fun and sometimes I just forget that.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chipper Pix

SUMMARY: A friend took several photos of Chip this past weekend.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

At the Trial Sunday

SUMMARY: Not much to say.

Wasn't in quite as much pain today as yesterday.

A good night's sleep helped--thanks to some tough love on Human Mom's part.

When the dogs ask to go out in the night, I usually know that they mean it, and I let them out, they do whatever they need to do, and then they come back in. (For Tika, that's almost never unless something's amiss; for Boost it's more likely when she's on prednisone.) The last 2 or 3 times of the dozen times that Boost said that she HAD to go out on Friday night, I finally went out onto the porch to see what she was doing, because that was excessive even for pred.

Sure enough, she made a beeline from the porch to the back hedge and buried the whole front of her body underneath and stood there, rustling around a little but essentially in one place. What the...?

I called her out, a big miffed, but she did not COME out! My good little obedient dog! I went over and pulled her out, with her resisting mightily. Didn't look like she was eating anything. Dark out there and I couldn't easily see what was so fascinating.  I chased her away from it repeatedly and gave her her Hurry Up and pee command, which she finally did, then dove under the hedge 30 feet away and made her way back to the same spot by going along behind the hedge.

So, last night, after I'd been asleep less than an hour and Boost said that she HAD to go out, I took her out on a leash. Sure enough, she wanted to go to the hedge. I didn't let her; instead, I walked her in circles telling her (in a bit of an annoyed voice) to Hurry Up. She looked at me like I was nuts and kept trying to head back to the shrub. I just kept saying No!  Finally she peed a little tiny bit, I said she was good, and took her back inside.

Then apparently she realized that Human Mom was not going to let her do that any more, and we slept through the night. I have not yet gone out to try to see what was under the hedge.

Chip is, I think, getting the nose-touch-to-target thing even though I'm doing it casually. Yay.

He didn't make nearly as much fuss when I took Boost out and left him in his crate has he did 2 weeks ago, in fact today almost none at all.

He was pretty good as I walked him around, letting him sniff and roll on the grass, and giving him hot dogs when he looked at me or turned back to me. Even played tug with me on his tug-leash when I made an effort to be very exciting and run back and forth, so he was less distracted today than he has been. He still walks by dozens of dogs just looking or whimpering, then suddenly ferocious barking at the end of the leash. Always a challenge of some sort.

Today he rejected a chunk of fried potato (like hash brown/country fried) as not being actual food, but decided that bacon counted as food without having to think about it at all. You can be assured that he did not get much bacon, because it was MY bacon, nom nom nom!

Tika's idea of staying in her crate.

(Sometimes she can unzip it partway or all the way. I came back from one of Boost's runs and noticed that Tika's crate was empty. She had wandered off in search of the food she'd been getting at the score table.)

What Boost won this weekend. She's such a good raffle girl.

She also made the weave entry correctly ONCE today. The other times, like yesterday, went in at the 2nd pole or ran past them.

Today i just concentrated on keeping her running, didn't care whether we want past jumps or anything. Her contacts are still good, her sends to tunnels of course are lovely. In Snooker, a bar down and refusal on the weaves in the closing, so not even a regular Q, let alone SuperQ.

Other 4 classes ranged from mostly lovely and fun to "please take an obstacle, ANY obstacle, I don't care!"

Ah, well, we're all here together and having a good time.

Lisa's Remington

SUMMARY: Well-taken care of.

I just saw this, posted on FB by the late Lisa's friend Mitzi:

As all of my agility friends know, we lost one of my best agility buddies yesterday. Lisa Pomerance was not only an agility friend, but a true friend in every way. I have shed many many tears, and I will continue to mourn the loss of my dear friend. Lisa had always said to me, if I die you have to take care of Remington for me.

I struggled yesterday trying to figure out what was best for him. Since [my current dog] and Remington are both "high needs" dogs, and I am getting a puppy in a few weeks, I knew I would not be the best choice. I have found him a loving home with my friend [name] who will treat Remington with the love and "cushy" life he is so accustomed to. I will also get to see my little Buddy Remington all the time!!! Thank you [Lisa's sister?] for allowing me to give Remington the life Lisa would have wanted for him.

Rest In Peace my beautiful friend Lisa, I will always love you, and I will always watch over Remington!

UPDATE April 20:

Lisa collected hedgehog toys and accessories for Remington (I didn't know this until yesterday), so a friend suggested that we post hedgehog photos in our Facebook profiles in her memory. Here's mine--some of Jake's leftover favorite nubbie squeakies.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Can I get a do-over starting last night?

SUMMARY: Not the best 24 hours.

My back has been acting up this week. Loading the van last night, I'm sure, didn't help--lifted in the big x-pen because I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to crate out of the car. And just picking up my folding chair, a gallon of water for the dogs, etc., each one hurt. Feels like something's being pinched again.

Did get to bed fairly eary, 9ish--because I hurt too much to want to do anything else. Boost, on that prednisone, wanted to go out all night on average about every 50 minutes. I did not get much sleep. Alarm was set for 5:00. To top off a splendid night, Chip threw up on the carpet at about 4:40, so I had to clean that up (time consuming).

My leg cramped up Thursday night during the night, and today my calf muscle is stiff, tight, and painful. Between my back and that, walking around was uncomfortable all day today. And I'm going to go do it again tomorrow.

Did spend a little time with Chip and handfuls of hotdog scraps, rewarding every time he looked at me while walking around on leash, doing more target nose touches. He was perfectly good most of the time but about 3 times he went into intense barking/alert mode at the end of the leash at other dogs. Maybe they looked him straght in the eye? He jumped a little when we were at the score table each time the automated timeer said Go! or buzzed, but stayed where he was and didn't panic about it. Lots more people met him and said that he's cute and that he reminds them of Remington.

Did spend some time with Tika just walking around, doing some tricks for treats, hanging out at the score table. I really need to spend more time trying to strengthen her back side again.

Boost didn't get a single weave entry all day and took more than 2 attempts to get it right most times. Not videoed, but I'm sure that I gave her plenty of space. Still, her contacts were all excellent for a change.

Jumpers was very nice, but a bar when I called hard as she was over the jump, and I think that discombobulated her and she missed a jump and it took me a bit to get her to think about doing obstacles again instead of bouncing around in front of me.

Gamblers was good, early thing in the morning, she was very fast, only flaw was that she just ran past th weaves entirely (I didn't go back to fix them, to preserve my carefully timed plan). That was our only Q of 6 runs.

Standard was pretty darned good until the next to the last obstacle--the weaves. Bah.

Pairs, she ran past jump on a lateral lead-out, so wasted time getting back to where we needed to be, and then the danged weave entry. We didn't Q but our partner was good (well, a missed contact). Considering that we combined for I think 15 faults, we were only about a second over time, so they were fast.

Snooker, the wheels fell off (that's right after I found out about Lisa, but I don't think that was really the issue).

Steeplechase the wheels, the chassis, the doors, and the engine fell off. She was behaving oddly beforehand, not focusing on me, grabbing the tug but immediately releasing it, like that. I wonder whether she's sore or needs an adjustment? Wish she could talk.

Trying to remember the positives. The outpouring of offers when I asked my agility club whether someone had a wire crate I could borrow--and I picked one of them up today at the trial.

Weather cooperated--sunny but a chilly breeze to keep us from overheating.

Boost does love doing tunnels full-speed-ahead.

Good friends, good dogs.

Tired, sore, hoping I'll get some sleep tonight. G'night.

A sad Saturday


One of our agility friends signed up for this weekend. Posted on facebook that she'd be there today. Checked out the field ahead of time to be sure that the nasty burr-weeds wouldn't be there to hurt her Papillon, Remington's, feet and posted about that.

August 2013

She didn't show up this morning. One of her friends became concerned when she couldn't get in touch with Lisa, and left the trial to go all the way out to her house to check on her.

All I know at this point is that Lisa passed away sometime after Thursday night and it's a good thing that the friend went to check on her. What a shock it must be to be the first to find your friend.

I didn't know her well, but talked to her at almost every trial. We originally started talking because we shared a common love for our Remington dogs, even though mine has been gone 11 years now. Then we kept talking because she was taking a larger interest in photography, so we talked about that quite a bit and I helped her figure out things on her camera. Plus she was a friendly, cheerful, sociable person and lots of folks knew Remington from trials and from his own Facebook posts. She loved that little guy like crazy and took him everywhere with her.

How suddenly things change.

It's hard to believe.

This was in a batch that Lisa sent to me
in January.
Don't know who photographer is.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Stuff

SUMMARY: Agility weekend coming, misc things.

I've got so much going on lately (hmm, as always), that the last few days I haven't done a lot of focused training.

With Chip, got him easily onto a low, slightly wobbly agility table to play tug. Didn't want to tug much at first or stay on very long, but it took only a few minutes to be playing good tug while I walked all around the table, him moving with me.

Nose touch to a target, still doing half a dozen times at random times through the day; think I need another concerted several minutes with hot dog bits--sometimes he ignores it, sometimes he's planting his nose solidly in the middle. Can't tell whether he's really getting it or not.

Tika has given Chip the play bow a couple of times but he avoided her and headed for Boost. Silly dogs--because he's been mooning around Tika, nudging her ear, giving *her* the play bow and all that and she's ignored him.

Tika still sometimes gives him the raised lips with sharp pointy teeth and a little snarl, can't figure out exactly when or what, but I think it has to do with being next to me, dangit.

In class last night, Boost and I had sections of excellence but also knocked bars and incapacity to get weave entries. Weaves are still mainly the only thing I practice with her in the yard these days, and she seems to be getting worse, not better. (Not that I'm practicing all that much, maybe several entries a couple of times a week.)

And we have agility this weekend. Not too far away, so I'm hoping I'll be home for dinner both days.

Boost is now in Performance 3 in everything except Jumpers and Snooker. That means she's jumping 16" instead of 22" in P3. That's what we did last weekend, too.

Don't really have all that much to report in on.

Have a good weekend y'all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chip Day 19 - Vet, Dogpark, and Other Random Stuff

SUMMARY: A few little notes.

Chip met our vet today. He cheerfully greeted the receptionist and got a treat. He slightly cautiously greeted the vet but accepted pets and a treat. He was completely calm through the entire exam, except that he didn't like being turned around on the metal table, but got over it.

Vet said that I should have him do a mind meld with Tika to try to get her to absorb some of his calmness.  My fear is that it would be the other way around and Chip would turn into a frantic screamer, too.

Chip checks out excellent. Joints seem solid, weight is good (33 lbs as Previous Owner said), heart rate is that of a runner (nice and low and even), rear is well-muscled.  A little tartar on his molars just on the right side--does he chew only on one side, maybe?  Eyes are a little red-- Boost's were awful a couple of weeks ago, very red and discharging, one of her allergy things that crops up, and she got a week's dose of eye ointment. Vet says Chip's aren't bad, just typical "hay fever eyes" and to keep an eye on them.

Other notes:
  • He doesn't know how to follow a pointing finger (as in, there's food THERE on the floor for you, or get THAT toy). He'll learn, I assume; most dogs do.
  • Happened to be near a dog park, so took him there because I saw (when I first met him) how he liked playing with other dogs at a dogpark. Thought I'd use it as a teaching/learning experience (for both of us). The yummy treats I took, however, he spit out the first several rewards I tried to give, so that didn't help. Mostly my goals were to (a) see whether he'd pay attention when I said his name (he didn't), (b) see whether he'd come in my direction when I tried various attractive activities (he didn't), (c) see whether he'd miss me and Boost when we hid behind the fence on the far side of the field for several minutes (he didn't), (d) get him used to the idea that I can grab his collar, reward/pet/praise and release, and that would make him more amenable to me coming up to him to grab his collar (he didn't, not really... I followed him around the park until he'd stop to smell something long enough for me to get close to lean and put my hand on his collar, probably a couple dozen times, but every succeeding time he'd trot ahead of me just out of my reach until he felt like stopping).  And he spent most of his time sniffing EVERYthing, very little time paying any attention to other dogs.
  • The wall of the building that forms part of the dogpark boundary has realistic pictures of dogs painted on it. He spent about 3 minutes barking ferociously at them, ignoring/moving away from me, before he somehow decided that they were not actually dogs.
  • I'm very happy at how well he's sitting and waiting for his dinner, and waiting to be released out of his crate.
  • I seem to be sleeping with 3 dogs on the bed now. How DOES that happen? As long as (1) they don't try to take my space and (2) Chip doesn't make Tika feel pushed out, that's fine. Everyone seems to be getting along.
  • Tunnels--he has run through U-curved tunnels after Boost several times in the yard now. I set up a wobble board and a low table yesterday but ran out of time to try them out on him. 
  • I should take some quick vids of him doing various things.  Yeah, right, like I'm going to. But I should.

Things I still need from Previous Owner:

  • Info on his microchip registration.
  • Info on his license expiration.
  • Info on previous vet and innoculation history.
  • Whether he's ever had heartworm medication.
  • Confirmation on his birthdate--have it but the comment was "pretty sure". Not that it really matters exactly, since Tika's, Remington's, Sheba's, and Jake's bdays were all best guesses. But I'd just like to know for health reasons and for personal knowledge if the info is available.
  • When and whether they're going to get together with Chip for a goodbye afternoon/day/weekend/week. I think Chip would love to see them from time to time over time, if they're willing. Waiting to hear.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Meanwhile Back at Taj MuttHall

SUMMARY: Boost and Tika

Still trying to figure out Boost and food and her weight.

She's also getting MUCh worse about scrounging stuff. I have all these varieties of dog foods to keep Tika's interest up, and a lot of the unopened ones (or sealed shut) are on the floor. This has never been a problem. But yesterday she ripped open one of the brand-new, still sealed bags and I caught her gorging herself! Yikes. Is nothing sacred?

She is now the fastest eater i the house. After all those years of Tika sucking down her own food at twice Boost's speed, now that Tika is slow and methodical... and Chip is even slower than that!... I wonder whether Boost thinks that she's getting less food than they're getting?

She also now knows that Tika doesn't always finish her meal and lurks to dive in the instant that Tika's head moves away, and I have to catch her and drag her back from that, so maybe she feels deprived fromnot getting to eat that?

It's a puzzlement, why packages of treats and food are no longer OK around the good border collie after all these years.

A couple of people suggested adding pumpkin, in the ratio of twice whatever kibble I was taking out of her diet.  I bought several cans, and what I'm doing is smearing it all around the inside of her dish and pouring the food onto it, so she has to spend time licking out every molecule, giving the other dogs time to finish eating.

Tika is mostly eating most of her meals, with only occasional meals where she won't eat the first thing that I set out for her.

I'll tell ya what's working with having Chip here, apparently: Before, she was consuming her pill pockets (containing meds) cautiously and fairly often spitting them out and refusing to eat them until I remove the pills. Since Chip has arrived, wow, does she suck down those 2 pill pockets! Doesn't want a chance for the usurper to get one, I guess.

After several days of Tika doing a lot of coughing and acting old and frail, she's back to very little coughing, more enthused play, more alertness. This cycle keeps going over and over and over.

Boost is scratching obsessively still/yet/again, after a couple of weeks off prednisone. I *SO* hate having her on pred all the time, but milder things don't work, and she's now chewing herself raw, which I really hate to see and isn't good for her, either. So I guess it's back on prednisone again. Sigh.

And that's the news from Lake Dogbegone, where all the dogs are cute AND above average.

Chip Training 3

SUMMARY: More random notes from the last few days.

  • Bedtime: The dogs seem to be working things out overnight. I do tell him to get off the bed if one of my dogs is looking displaced, but often I wake up with 3 dogs on the bed. So much for that.
  • Nose touch: Have been doing a few click-treats randomly here and there, but put some effort into it this evening. He's catching on--going back and forth from a light touch at the edge to a solid touch in the middle, then sitting abruptly and scratching (stress behavior, natural as he figures out clicker training and how to figure out how to figure out what I want!). He's so circumspect about it, though, and he also chews the tiny Zuke halves each time, so it takes a bit. Need to cut up more hot dogs so as to work it a little faster.
  • Lawn mower: I'm guessing that he's never encountered a reel push-mower before. First he was concerned about it, then cautiously inspected it while I held it still for him, then wanted to bark at it, which I discouraged each time he started. By the end of the lawn mowing, he was watching but not barking. Don't know whether that'll last.
  • Barking: He is very vocal. I'm afraid that he's spending a lot of time in the yard, barking, when I'm gone. As soon as I hear him when I'm here, I open the door and tell him no barking, and then he runs happily into the house (I'm not calling him; he just does that). Must be careful that I'm not teaching him that i pay attention to him when he barks, bah, don't want him using that against me! This afternoon it looked like he was checking to see whether I was looking after he barked. Hm.
  • Sit-stay, down-stay: I'm practicing these at random times while playing or doing other stuff. He's pretty good now at waiting for my release to get his meal after sitting. Duration is getting better already.
  • Agility obstacles: Have gotten him to run through a full-length curved tunnel two or three times, chasing after Boost. After that, he trotted back and forth through it on his own, then around the outside, then back through, as if he were trying to figure out how it transported him from one place in the yard to another place with a different orientation (because it's curved). Pretty cute.  Also am getting him to go over a very low jump by tossing a toy, and he's just fine with that. Still hampered by not being able to line him up using his collar.
  • Collar grab/leading him by collar: Spent a bunch of time the last couple of days doing more desensitization of those things in various ways, just trying to get him to not dodge away when I reach for him, and to move forward happily with my hand putting pressure with his collar. I think we're making progress.
  • Recall: Haven't worked on that a lot specifically. Tried again at the big schoolyard with him loose on a long line; he does run after Boost a few times as she chases the frisbee, but too many other interesting things for him to come back every time. Sorry to say that I lost control of him twice--once I was standing on the line when two tween-aged girls came running by, and he ran straight at them, barking, and somehow the line pulled out from under my feet (it has a thing at the end to keep it from sliding through, but it must have pulled sideways). They stopped running immediately and he just wanted to check them out. I apologized, said it was a new dog that I was fostering and was still figuring him out, and they said they completely understood because they had done some fostering of dogs. Whew!  The second time I thought he was coming to me, then suddenly took off alllll the way across the huge field towards the blacktop area, barking ferociously--there were skateboarders on the far side of the blacktop, so far away that I hadn't even noticed them, but he did.  Fortunately he stopped at the edge of the blacktop and just stood there barking, so I could collect him.  I need to work on his recall, but so many things to work on!
  • Snuggling: He seems to like snuggling. Did I say that already? he does this funny cute thing with his head upside-down.
  • Playing: Today is the first day that I didn't see him and Boost playing and wrestling together--I was gone part of the day, but I also think that Boost might be having enough of it--she *is* 9, and I wonder whether she gets a little sore from that. 
  • It's been three days since my last post, so I'm sure we've done more than this. Will add more if I think of anything later.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chip Training 2

SUMMARY: New dog, so many things.

  • Toenail clipping: He had no problem with the plain clippers clipping off long chunks from the ends of his toenails. They are pretty long. I use a dremel from there, both to dull the sharp corners on the nails and to make it easier to get closer to the quick without actually  hitting it. The dremel fascinated him while I was using it on the other dogs; he kept wanting to put his nose right up to it. But as soon as I turned it on while holding his foot, he'd have nothing to do with that. So I spent some time with treats, just turning the dremel on and off, desensitizing him to the sound and the on/off, much like I did with the dog door flapping. This could be a long process in small steps--e.g., then hold his foot and turn it on/off, hold his foot & bring it closer, actually touch it to his toenail (vibration could feel funny).
  • Grabbing collar: When I reach towards him to grab his collar past his face, he often shies away. I want him to love having me grab his collar, so I'm working on desensitizing that with treats and loving (for example, grab collar, let go of it to pet him and praise him while giving a treat, and other variations).
  • Manipulating using collar: When I try to pull him forward on leash or by hand in his collar in certain situations--e.g., standing next to him and trying to get him to take a step forward--he digs in. I want him to love being directed by his collar. So working on desensitizing that in similar and various ways, e.g., hand in collar, very slight pressure and drop or hold a tasty treat slightly in front of him; release pressure as soon as he moves, and reward.
  • Fetch: In the house, he's bringing the toy back more and more often. Outside, meh, maybe or maybe not. I haven't spent a lot of time working on that; most progress I think comes from (a) not chasing him to get it and (b) playing with him with the toy when he brings it. Need to do more specific work on that.
  • Sit-stay. Is staying a little longer, in the house, as I move a little bit around him. Need lots and lots of work on that--for any dog, that takes a long time of building duration and ignoring distractions. Having to sit and wait for his dinner until I release him is also helping.
  • Down-stay. Holding my fist on the ground in front of  him with a treat is getting him more and more quickly to lie down front first, which is a great start. 
  • Bedtime: Last Thursday night, I left his x-pen open after putting him in to see how the night would go. Tika typically gets off and on the bed a couple of times during the night, but usually starts and ends there. When I woke up in the morning, she was on the floor and he was on the bed and she was back to giving little snarls at him. My dogs normally defer to other dogs, don't want a fight (Chip seems to be the same way, fortunately), so if he went onto the bed while she was on the floor, she wouldn't have tried to get back up but might be unhappy about it. I want her to feel secure in her place, so Friday, Sunday, and Monday, he was back in the xpen with the door closed. Tues and last night I left the door open again, and he seemed to keep off my bed; found my extra dog bed in the closet and slept on that. So I think things are OK like that.
  • Little dogs: He's loving playing with the local chihuahua mixes when he gets a chance and they seem to love him. So cute, all of them!
  • "Give" toy: Either he's a very quick learner or he already knew this from his previous home. He might think about it for a moment, but then hands it over.
So, let's see, priorities (not in specific order, but things I want to remember to focus on, with maybe a few minutes each day):
  • Try teaching a couple or 3 cute tricks, definitely including nose touch to a target. Maybe also "shake" and hold a biscuit on his nose? This is one of the main things that I need to know about him--how quickly does he learn when not having to be desensitized about something first?
  • Desensitize reaching for collar and being pulled by collar.
  • Sit-stay for a little longer duration.
  • Fetch more reliably.
  • Recall ("come").
  • Basic flatwork (following me closely as I walk/trot/run in a circle or various directions), but that will be challenging until he's desensitized to pulling on his collar.
  • Basic going between jump uprights and over a jump of slowly increasing height--also might be difficult if I can't guide him with the leash. Goal is to set up a simple jump chute (jumps in a line with barrier on each side) to try to get him moving quickly through it. Normally I'd take a lot more time and approach things in a different way, but I really want to see how he looks when jumping over jumps. If I can achieve that in the next 2 weeks, that's  the other main thing that I need to know about him.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Chip Training 1

SUMMARY: Sit/stay, come, fetch, release, name.

I was SO tired and sore yesterday after the weekend--what has become of me?--that I wasn't up to training. So we took the day off, rested, and played a bit in the yard.

Today I worked a bit with Chip on a very few things for a total of maybe 15 minutes scattered through the day:

  • Release word: I'm using Break, which is what I use for Boost, which is confusing her--when I release him, she also releases. I apparently didn't make the connection for her early on that I need to be addressing her directly for it to apply to her.
  • Recall (Come): Using suggestions in Mandy Book's book Quick Clicks to get him wanting to come to me as I have treats. Started with him a foot or so away, show the treat, then wait for him to come get it; click & treat. Repeat a few times. Then stand back another foot or so, repeat a few times. Then put a treat on the floor in front of him, step away about 3 or 4 feet, and click/treat as soon as he turns his head to see where I am, click. Treat when he comes to me. He seemed to like that, although he would periodically get stuck staring and me, wondering what I wanted (so I was moving too quickly along the progression). No command yet.
  • Sit/stay: Goal is that "Sit" means "sit until I give you the release word." Using a "forced sit"--hold collar and press on that part of his hips so that he has to sit (without pushing hard in the wrong place, which could hurt or make him resist), along with the Sit command. Step slightly away, praise & treat, step back next to him, praise and treat, release. He actually let me walk all the way around him without him getting up (in the kitchen), progressing quickly within just a very few minutes.
  • Fetch: He seems to be bringing the toy voluntarily more and more often, as he realizes that (a) there's no keep-away going to happen and (b) if he brings it, I play with him, which has to be more fun than playing by himself or just standing there waiting for something to happen. I think I might up the ante by click/treat as he makes any move towards me and see whether I can speed this up.
  • Respond to name: At random times on today's walk and while in low-stimulation situations here at home, I say his name and reward when he looks at me. He's doing that pretty well, but that's with no distractions whatsoever.
He does like to play tug and is getting more enthused and sure of himself all the time. I'm starting to add a little body/head/face patting as we play--I want him to keep playing and being intense even if there are distractions on his body. This would be helpful for things like weave poles--if he doesn't care that he's up against them with his face, that would be very good. 

Trying to give the other dogs equal time for treats and praise, but am mostly just repeating old tricks rather than trying to increase their repertoire--I'm just not having the energy at the moment to think through things for 3 dogs at a time! But they seem happy.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Agility Weekend

SUMMARY: Me and Boost

Saturday, lacking sleep again. Sunrise was eh, OK, but not worth stopping, hence just a quick blurry shot with a little Tule fog over the fields. Better than rain or darkness, though! It apparently poured at the trial site on Friday.

I did not enter everything on the two days we were there. I didn't enter Thursday and Friday at all. How far I've drifted from a couple of years ago, when it was two dogs, four days, every.single.class. I don't currently have the energy for it. And not sure whether Boost does; she was looking tired by the end of the two days.

At least we got a couple of Qs, even if it wasn't the Super-Q that I really want/need to complete her championship.

Here's how it went.


  • Masters Pairs: I couldn't find the person I thought was my partner, so I walked both halves several times. Turns out that the pairs had been rearranged, so my partner was my instructor. I asked for the easy half, and wouldn't you know it--started great, but the place where both first and 2nd half do the same thing, I then continued with the 2nd half, so off course. Doh!
  • P3 Gamblers: During the opening, she popped her weaves when I ran to get ahead (didn't go back and fix), and turned back to me before going up the teeter. Seeing that a lot from her lately; odd thing. The gamble was just tough; pretty low percentage on Qs. I didn't expect that she'd do it, and she didn't.
  • Masters Snooker: Got through a 4-red opening with just a couple of bobbles, then #2 in the closing was a straight chute going to a jump, and I just couldn't run fast enough to get there, so she turned back to me after the tunnel, ran backwards towards the jump, finally took it but knocked the bar.
  • Masters Jumpers: Ran past a jump where I was hoping to rear cross; I might have pushed her off it, but really I think if she were taking obstacles instead of staring at me, she'd have taken it. I didn't see anyone else miss that jump. I think knocked a bar or two, also; forgot already.


  • P3 Gamblers: Did nicely in the opening until we tried getting into the weaves from the approach she doesn't do well on--turning towards the left. I had to try 3 times to get her into the weaves, so that wasted time didn't allow us to do our planned 2nd set of weaves. But I adjusted my course, we were in the perfect place to get into the gamble on the buzzer, it was basically a send to a tunnel and she did great, so a Q and actually 2nd place. The Q rate was quite high on this one.
  • Perf Grand Prix: Nearly perfect. I released her early on all her contacts to keep her moving and excited. Only flaw was my fault, where I tried to push her out but wasn't enough ahead of her so she almost went off course and I had to call her back. Not a fault, though, just a time waster, although we were still 10 seconds under time (although still almost 10 seconds slower than the winner). But a Q! Her first GP of this Qing season.
  • Masters Snooker: I picked a very simple course because it was one of those tiny courses with only 3 reds where it looked almost easy to do something with high points, but I thought that lots of people would crash and burn. I picked a 4-5-5 opening, but she knocked the first red, which pretty much put us out of competition for a Super-Q. Then in the closing knocked the #4 bar. So no Q, but I was right; people were Super-Qing with high 30s points and the winning dog in our height group did a 4-5-5 opening, too. 
  • Masters Jumpers: Really felt good--no refusals or runouts or blatantly obvious hesitations, only one bar down. Even did a couple of rear crosses (which can be problems for us) and at the end she also kept going over the last jump rather than turning back. It was a nice way to end the weekend even if it wasn't a Q.


For a change, I wasn't working score table, and since I didn't enter everything and had only one dog, I had plenty of time between working with Chip and playing with Tika to work in the rings. Which gave me a free lunch and tickets for the raffle, which, as always, I entered under Boost's name.

View from a pole setter's chair.

As usual, Boost was a good girl in the raffle and won something.

Over all, feels like we both need to get in better shape and take off some weight. So much to do, so little time!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Chip Day 8 & 9 - Agility Weekend

SUMMARY: I learned more things about him.

Trying to be very quick...

  • In the motel Saturday night, Chip settled right down when the other dogs did and slept soundly. (They all had their run of the room and the 2nd bed in the room, which he & Boost opted to sleep on--I cover the beds with my own sheets to protect the hotel bedding from hair & dirt.)
  • I think that all the stimulation tired him out, even though he didn't get a lot of physical exercise.
  • Tried him on a long line, loose, for a while, but although he'd run after Boost when she chased the frisbee, he'd then also decide to go walkabout, ignoring me completely. Not unexpected, but I'd hoped he'd stick around so that I didn't have to follow him across the field to bring him back. Definitely recall work needed.
  • He was willing to play tug with me several times even with all the excitement going on.
  • When I had him out on leash, I did many many reps of saying "Chip!" and rewarding when he looked up at me. He got a lot of hot dog bits. He seemed to be responding better over the 2 days, although still easily distracted by lots of things.
  • Tried to do some groundwork/circle work, where I just walk or jog in small circles and have him follow me. He wasn't particularly interested, and once again, when I pulled forward on his leash to bring him with me, he just dug in and wouldn't budge. Need to figure out what exactly the situation is when that comes up, because mostly he's pliable on leash.
  • Lots of people food he didn't seem to consider worthwhile. Rejected beans (like cooked kidney beans), cooked egg white (but he liked the yolk), banana (well, Tika doesn't like that, either), and tortilla chips, although I did notice that later the chips had vanished, so he changed his mind about that. Rejected some chicken offered by a friend, but then ate that after she also gave him some tiny bits of bacon.
  • Lunges to the end of his leash and barks at other dogs... sometimes! Not sure what sparks that. I think he mostly wants to go check them out, but I worked on telling him that barking at other dogs is not done at agility trials. 
  • He got to meet a few other dogs, all on leash and calm, no real playing; that was my choice.
  • Oh, jeez, he pees on EVERYthing if he gets a chance! I don't actually remember Remington or Jake being this determined. I had to rinse down an agility tunnel and a friend's umbrella when I didn't catch him in time because I wasn't expecting it. That's an ongoing thing to work on with him and for me to remember to pay attention. Dang boy dogs! 
  • Everyone who met him--and lots of people have seen his photo in my facebook posts or blog now, so a lot knew his name already--thought he was a very cute/handsome, sweet boy. And that he looked like Remington. And he responded to people who'd say "Chip!" All good.
  • The borrowed crate was a wee bit small for him. On the way there, I don't think he put his head down more than a couple of times the whole two hours. On the way back, he curled up and slept pretty much all the way. 
  • He was pretty good about getting into a crate when I told him to. I have been rewarding and releasing him a lot from crates, so that might help. Also that he other dogs were right next to him. He's also waiting fairly well for me to give him a "Break!" before he tries to leave the crate. Don't know whether he learned to do that in his previous life or whether he's actually learning that. Either way, it's good.
  • Realized that I really do need to wait a few more weeks, making a concerted effort in training and some basic agility jumping, before deciding for sure whether he'll be a fun agility dog or a problem agility dog (jumping style, attitude). So much to learn, both of us!
I might remember more in the morning, but now must sleep.

Because the borrowed crate was really too small for him to spend an extended period in, I put Boost loose in the front of MUTT MVR because she's the most trustworthy of the bunch, and Chip borrowed Boost's crate.

Chip mostly watched everything, which (on top of our walking around and meeting people and dogs and training work) I think is what tired him out mentally. I eventually draped a towel over his crate for an hour or so here and there to give him a chance to relax.

He was pretty good except raising a storm whenever I took Boost away to go run a run.

Tika slept a LOT.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Chip Day 7 - Evening

SUMMARY: Dog door accomplished; more Leo; Home Alone.

With Chip succeeding at the doggie door this morning, I took the risk and left him unconfined today while I went off for several hours. Came home to three happy dogs at the door.

He's definitely letting himself out as needed; saw him go out on his own to potty this evening. So that takes care of that.

I crunched up a 15-foot tunnel into a straight 4-foot tunnel to see what he'd do. I lined him up in front of it, tossed a toy through, and he ran happily after it all the way through--then suddenly realized that something odd had just happened, turned around, and walked back through, inspecting the whole thing carefully. Soooo we won't have any trouble with tunnels.

Gave the dogs Leos again tonight, and Chip is already doing all the things--pawing it, nudging it, picking it up to dump food out--although I think that he's not quite sure yet that most of the food is coming out of the small end. Photos for fun.

Licking at the X opening in the more difficult end. His preferred starting strategy:

Pawing it to make it roll:

Pressing with paw to make it come upright:

Lifting from the fat end; stuff rolls out the small end:

USDAA This Weekend

SUMMARY: Still doing it with Boost

This weekend is a four-day mega-trial in Dixon. I signed us up for only Saturday and Sunday, and only a few classes each day (how different from signing up 2 dogs for every class for 4 days!). I'm hoping that that means that we can leave reasonably early on Sunday rather than coming home in the dark.

I've got Boost entered in Performance (lower heights & speeds) in Gamblers and Grand Prix, where she'll be jumping only 16 inches instead of 22. Still in Championship 22" for Jumpers and Snooker.

Ya know, if I could run faster, she'd do better. I just watched videos from our last competition, and she is NOwhere extending and running full out; she looks hesitant with every stride, checking in with me constantly. She still feels fast to me, but I can so clearly see why she's sometimes not making time even when she's clean these days. Crap.

Well, we'll go and, I hope, have fun, and enjoy what should be nice weather Saturday (although predicted into the 80s on Sunday!) and shmooze and take photos and then come home again.

Borrowed a wire crate for Chip to travel in.

I'd like to try doing an informal measurement on him; I'm starting to think that he might be tall enough to have to jump 26" in Championship, which I really wouldn't want him to do.

I should also have him checked up at the vet and by someone who can evaluate the soundness of his structure. Why I didn't think of that before, I dunno. I was overwhelmed by his cuteness.

Good luck all in whatever you're doing.

Dog Door Success!

SUMMARY: He did it!

Thinking about it last night while brushing my teeth (yes, a great time to be creative), I knew that Chip was already doing everything that he needed to do to get through the door except that initial tiny push. And it occurred to me: As long as I'm doing that for him over and over, he has no reason to do it himself.

So, Operation Doggie Door Tough Love.

This morning, after I let the dogs out and set up the dog door, that was it. If he wanted to come in, he'd have to do it himself.

At 7:15, when Boost and I stepped out the front door for her to get the paper, I heard the flap open and shut lightly, and sure enough, Chip was standing there. But then he just stared at me through the sliding door. I knew that I was on the right track.

I tried to make it worthwhile for him to come through.Made sure both dogs were inside with me. I gave them treats and praise and used the clicker when he was watching. I played tug and fetch with Boost while he was watching. He'd watch a bit, sometimes just barely shove the door, and then go off into the yard again. I missed photos of his first 3 or 4 attempts, but then I was ready.

8:05 - Quick poke and turned away

 8:12 - Poked nose in and wandered off again

 8:18 - Looked at it for a bit, poked at it a couple of times, then left again

 8:26:59 - He decided that this was the time to do it!

8:27:27 - Ta-da!

Now--will he do it again?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Chip Trial Day 6, evening

SUMMARY: Doggie doors, Genius toys, and getting on with life. (Another long dull post with my training notes and all.)

A few years back, I discovered these Quiet Spot neoprene tag silencers and suddenly realized how much I'd like it if I didn't have dog tags jingling all through my life. They've worked very well, but Boost's gave up the ghost two or three weeks ago and I hadn't gotten around to getting a replacement. When I bought a nice red heart tag with my phone number on it for Chip while he's here, he started jingling, too. So I ordered a new blue one for Boost, to match her blue collar, and a new red one for Chip, to match his red collar. They arrived today and now I once again have peace.  (I ordered them from a place that benefits greyhound rescue, which is pretty cool.)

Chip, checking out my camera up close and personal. Cracks me  up.

The big story yesterday and today is the doggie door. I thought I was making quick progress yesterday, until I let the flap touch Chip a little too early and he freaked out and we were back at square minus one when he didn't even want to come near the door, even with me offering tiny pieces of hot dog.

(Side note: He seems to like Zukes minis, but he chews each one contemplatively and carefully! I've never seen a dog chew Zukes minis before, other than maybe a quick squish or two between the molars. Mostly they just go right down. So I'm not sure that I can use those for him for training; they take too much time. Tiny hot dog morsels go down much quicker for him.)

I thought about it a bit more. The other dogs have figured it out on their own, first by sniffing around where the other dogs go through the flap, then pushing a little with their noses, finally sticking their heads through, then clambering cautiously all the way through, and then that's it. Chip, however, startled when the flap flapped back behind the other dogs and has never put his nose anywhere near it.

I figured that this meant that we had possibly three challenges: He doesn't like things on his head or back. He doesn't like the flap's flapping. And because he's so gentle and cautious, he doesn't want to push hard enough with his nose to open the flap.

  • Things on his head/back: Actually not a problem, it turns out. I draped things on him, dropped things on him, pulled things across his face and head and back, and he just acted like this happens to him every day. Whew. 
  • Flap flapping: I took an entire hot dog in my fist with barely enough of one end exposed that he could lick it and try to chew molecules off of it. I just held it in front of him and, with the other hand, hit the flap open and let it flap back and forth like happens when the dogs go through. I did that dozens of times, gradually moving the hot dog closer and closer to it, until he didn't startle any more. Then we moved to the outside of the door and repeated the process.  Gave it a break for an hour or so, then repeated--and it's a good thing because he startled again when we restarted, although not as much. I must've hit that door a hundred times or more. Pretty much success.
  • Getting him to go through the door comfortably, working down to where he'd push it on his own. Started back with holding it wide open for him time after time. (I and the dogs would go to the other side so that he'd want to come through, then when he was through, reverse, etc. So we did a LOT of inning and outing yesterday and today.) Then gradually--more gradually than I did originally yesterday, letting the flap rest on his butt, then his lower back, middle back, shoulders as he came through. Then holding it not so far open and repeated, then holding it lower and lower. This evening after I got home, I noted progress in two ways:
    * Previously, he'd go through the door only if I pulled it open from the opposite side of where he was. Now I can open it by pushing from the same side he's on, and he'll go through, which he'd have none of before.
    * I can get away with just lifting a corner of the flap a few inches and he's pushing through that without any signs of discomfort. We are SO close to him initiating the flap lifting. Not sure whether I'll have to devise some other clever approach, because the initial push to detach it from he force of the magnets is much more than just sticking your nose through the already opened flap.
    Anyway, pleased with this, because we'll both be much more free in our lives if he can get himself in and out for pottying.
Chip and Boost wondering what I'm going to give them for holding still while I take a photo.

I took a risk this afternoon before leaving for about 6 hours and left him loose in the house with the other dogs, no crate this time. (Secret weapon was that the Renter was coming home after about 4-5 hours and let him out briefly.)  I didn't notice any destruction or messes in the house, although I didn't go crawling around looking for possible leg-lifting spots.  I think it went well.

The other big step for him was having dinner from the Leo Genius food dispenser for the first time ever. I hung out near him and praised him whenever he did something clever, but they really have to figure it out on their own. I wanted to see how determined he was to figure it out, whether he has that stick-to-it-iveness or gives up when it's not easy. He did finally quit when there were only a half dozen pieces of kibble left in it, but he did very well and by the end was not only rolling it with his paw, but also starting to pick it up from one end or the other to get food to fall out. It's good mental and physical exercise for the dogs, and my dogs get the Leo toy for meals typically 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes more. Next time, I'll try to take photos. Here are photos from last year of Tika and Boost dumping food from their Leos in various ways.

The only other really dedicated training I did today was a bit of work on touching his nose to a clear target, with clicker training. He was starting to tentatively touch the target when we were done with maybe 3 minutes of training, so I think he'll get it. Whether I can get him to aggressively move in and shove it with his nose... yeah, I think that'll be a challenge for him.

Token Boost photo because she's cute.

Meanwhile, Tika's having a bad couple of days again. Lots more coughing, lots less energy, so I didn't do a walk with the dogs. She did do her Leo toy for dinner, so she had the energy for that, and we played some laid-back tug for a while. But she'd doing a lot of lying around like this again, poor old girl. I hope that, once again, this is just a temporary down period and she'll be back to being happy and perky in a day or three.

She's such a good old girl, really pretty good most of the time about Chip trying to be friends with her, and I think Chip is trying to be solicitous when she goes into her coughing fits, walking alongside her and just nosing gently towards her cheek.

I'm just giving her a lot of snuggling and rubbing.

I KNEW it would be challenging to balance 3 dogs again with affection and training for all, but at least it's going much smoother than it did with Jake when I brought Boost home, 9 years ago! Hard to believe she's already that old. Oh my.