a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: January 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Circus Dog Class!

SUMMARY: Tricks, week 1

Fetch Sam is a dog-training indoor facility near downtown San Jose. Main focus is dog agility, but that means that it's plenty big enough for a group of dogs to work on tricks, too.

Mackenzie and her Human Mom, Zorro in his crate. Mackenzie is a tres wee dog.

Saturday was our first class out of 5 spread over a month and a half. I had asked whether I could do both dogs at once (paying for both of course), but the instructor suggested that I could maybe alternate weeks, but not both at once. When class got going, I could see what that wouldn't have worked with 2 dogs, one handler.

Had to decide whom to take to week 1 and opted for Zorro.

He did very well even with other dogs around; only one brief HEY STOP LOOKING AT ME barking session, but mostly seemed comfortable to be there, not too overly stimulated, and briefly met a 6-month-old lab nose to nose. Mostly we were all maybe 20-30 feet apart from each other, working on the assigned tricks.

First week we did an intro to clicker training (which I've been using for ages) and the following:
  • Target training: (which this week was really "go to your mat" for which she supplied towels) I've been doing "go to your bed" with the dogs with a bit more than casual intent for a while, so they have the basic idea and Zorro had little problem with this from up to a few feet away.
  • Shake: Both dogs already do "shake" (with right paw) and "shake left" (with left) very well.  So in class I worked on getting him to give me both paws first with shake, then with shake left; he was reluctant to get both paws off the floor at the same time although lordy knows he does that often enough at hom.
  • Spin: Both dogs do "left" and "right" spins already; zorro has "right" on voice command almost all the time and "left" almost on voice command; Chip isn't there yet with just voice command, but the finger reminder is almost faded away. During class, I worked on having Zorro do 2 or 3 in a row before getting a treat (so, like 2/treat, 1/treat, 2/treat, 1/treat, 3/treat, 2/treat, 1/treat...)
  • Take it: Haven't worked on this with these dogs ever. Zorro of course will grab a toy in my hands when I tell him to Get It at home, but he has no interest in toys at all away from house/yard, so this will take some work; in class, he was starting to open his mouth instead of just butting it with his nose, yay.
  • Roll over: I think I worked with them a bit on this when Zorro first arrived, but not much and not since then, so we're really at square One, or maybe one and a half. But much more willing to go over than, say, Remington, with whom I had to start by first lifting one foot slightly and rewarding, and going very very very piecemeal.
  • Sit pretty: Definitely worked with them a few times, again, back when Zorro was new here, but not really since. He was getting it in class after initially wanting to stand up on his hind legs, not sit up.
Mackenzie and her Human Mom (friend Arlene) also already knew some of the tricks but were just learning others.  I think that some of our other classmates also knew one or two of some of these ahead of time, but we all have things to work on.

Like, for example, THIS vast display of naughtiness, Mr. Zee!!!, which I found this evening on my effing kitchen table, my beautiful all-white CLEAN kitchen table, after being gone all day:

So SOME of us have a few more things to work on outside of class than others.

Ya think we're dog people? With mostly nonpurebred dogs, both?

Autumn Washes Towards Winter Running Towards Spring

SUMMARY: A photo

On the day after Christmas, a friend and I took our cameras and ambled up the trail running along a forest stream at Hidden Villa in the late afternoon, tucked between two ridges and dark and shady.

We were past the shortest day of the year, yet just starting winter. Now the days will slowly grow longer, the trees will finish shedding their last leaves, rain and chilly days will come more and more often... until, suddenly, only a month or so from today, the first hints of spring appear (today I noticed that the hyacinth and daffodil foliage is very tall and thinking that it might be ready to start forming buds).

Welcome to California.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Busy on Facebook, not too much here

SUMMARY: Plus, well... photos, life, work, house, downsizing...

In an attempt to motivate myself to do something with the dogs that I have, not that the dogs that I wish were still alive (although Tika would now be 17 and boost 13...so hard to believe that it has been almost 3 years), I signed up for a tricks class--er, sorry, Circus Dog class.

Not that I don't know how to teach my dogs tricks (to wit: Remington), just finding motivation to do anything with them is so hard. Not that they're bad dogs or don't want to learn or aren't quick learners.  I think that I really still want to do agility. But it hurts. So fuggit.

But enough of that.

Instead, I've been working on firming up their Left and Right turns, and their Shake Left and Shake Right, and of course they're both excellent at nose Touch to the back of the hand. Started working on Crawl with Zorro and on walking backwards with Chip and backwards up the stairs with both of them--all of these barely begun and only occasionally worked on. But I have been doing Get In The Box since it's soooooo simple to teach and fun for others to see when they really get it down and useful for random occasions.  They're both pretty regularly getting into the very long box now. And I have one that's about 1/3 that size; would like to have one in between those sizes but don't and am disinclined to cut up one of the boxes that I have because I am in fact gradually filling them with Things To Go Away and taking them Away.

They like it.  Or the treats. Or the attention.

I had a month after I signed up to actually teach them all the tricks that are likely to be in the 5-week course so that they'd be more relaxed with familiar activities since I don't do nuthin' with them anywhere pretty much ever.  But, you know, Christmas, New Year, grieving, movies, work, whatever, rationalizing away my inactivity. We'll get there gradually through the class. Just found out that a good friend also signed up (also a former agility-champion-maker slowed down by physical limitations but who has always taught her dogs tricks and competing in a bunch more dog sports than I do), so that'll be fun, too.  Looking forward to it.

I should post some photos, since I have so many trillions. Maybe later.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Eve at Taj MuttHall

SUMMARY: Poor scaredy Chip.

It's been quite cold at night, so I had high hopes for few or no fireworks so maybe I could go to bed early and comfy, but alas, no.

The day started as a cheerful winter's day. Gave the Rawhides Of Unusual Size from Christmas back to both dogs.  Chip settled in and resumed gnawing like a champ.  Zorro sniffed at it a bit but really had no interest still.  So, in the interest of evidence-based experimentation, I gave him a much smaller one to see what would happen.

He carried it around looking concerned for a while, from one lounging spot to another, never putting it down; never chewing on it, either. Finally he exited the house, and Experienced Human Mom recognized the I'm-Going-To-Bury-This-Amazing-Treasure behavior and grabbed the camera.

He roamed around the edges of the yard behind things for a couple of minutes, pausing briefly at many spots to examine them, so it was tough to get a shot--

And then suddenly he noticed me through the window and froze, stunned beyond belief that I would be so ghastly rude!! as to watch a dog bury a bone!

Stood there for a few moments in righteous indignation, then trotted purposefully out around the side of the house where I couldn't see him. Came back inside a while later with dirt on his nose and no rawhide.

I had many many Human Mom sorts of activities to do around the house, and so the day wound its way onward.

Was still daylight when the neighbors started partying not with fireworks but with music with a heavy drumbeat which apparently Chip interpreted as The Horror Of Devil-Spawned Fireworks.  Hence, large dog in lap in little chair. Not comfy for either of us.  Fortunately, lasted only 15-20 minutes when apparently his razor-sharp, fast-as-lightning mind ascertained that there was no immediate threat.

Zorro, meanwhile, stood watch, not wanting to leave this hotbed of exciting activity and yet making sure that no rawhide thief, such as any malevolent Squirrel!, snuck into the yard.

Then, for the moment, all was right with the world.


As the day continued its New Years Eveish way, Zorro periodically appeared with His Precious.   (Note it is now no longer pristine.)

Then it would vanish again. Much amusement occurred in the brain of Human Mom.

Nearing normal bedtime, Human Mom settled with her New York Times crossword, ready for a pleasant and calming activity.  (Heh, advice column heading is "Ladies prefer cats to family members."  Turns out they are the villains in that story. Figures. Cats. Pfft.)

And then, sigh, fireworks began. Not an onslaught, but enough that You Know Who returned in search of a lap. This time Human Mom provided a cushion to make the visit more comfortable for all. Still... hard to complete the nearly completed NYTC.

Hmmm, Human Mom, you not iz get five ov letterz answering of "Chip away at" clue iz? Iz me knowingz! Is "dog go"!

Oh. Iz not. 

Fireworks. Bah.

When Chip would vacate Lapland, Mr. Z occasionally wanted a snuggle of confirmation that he was not being left out.

In due time, all became silent. (Won't mention the due time was 2:30 a.m.)

Happy New Year to all and to all a safe, quiet rest and answers to life's puzzles.