Sunday, March 15, 2009

I squish dead fish between my toes




It was so nice to have a quiet weekend at home with no obligations other than a fun match on Sunday and that was fun, not an obligation at all. I took Lola and Strummer up to Powerpups again for another little fun match. I'm starting to think I like fun matches up there more than trials. It's only $5 a run, I can have all the do-overs I want, a full 90 seconds in the ring, Lola can stuff her face with treats on the table, I don't have to wait in line all day for my runs, and if I don't like the course I can make up my own.

I decided to try sardines for treats for the first time and the good news/bad news is that they were a big hit. Good news because I got some spectacular tables from Lola and great recalls and attention from Strummer at the practice jump while the other dogs were running the course. Bad news because, ugh, have you ever handled sardines? And the smell! It was all I could do to keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged while I was removing them from the tin. Somehow I was picturing tiny individual fish that I could grab by the tail and dole out one whole fish at a time. Instead what I got was big fish parts that needed to be de-boned and fell apart into slimy disgusting bits in my fingers and became even more special with the addition of dog slobber. We have Susan Garrett to thank for this mess. The sardines were a suggestion from her email newsletter which I was just on the verge of canceling because with all I had going on last week I got behind on my email and my inbox was getting overrun and most of the suggestions I'd already read seemed to be geared at beginners and please, no more crate games, the woman does love her crate games, but I have other ways of dealing with impulse control issues that are more practical for me and I grow weary of hearing about games and crates and woe to my poor neglected inbox. But the sardines turned out to be a good tip and unfortunately I think I may have to buy some more for special occasions and how did I ever come to this?

As for the fun match, Strum's dogwalks were good in that he didn't miss any but when I run with him he adds an extra stride and slows a bit on the flat plank as opposed to when I stand still and send him to his treat gizmo so we'll need to work on that. Next week I'll also start adding obstacles on either side of the walk. His first A-frame was perfect, I was incredulous. The second one was less so, a bit of a leap over the apex which I'm trying to get away from since that tends to lead to some spectacular acrobatics including sometimes leaping over the apex and completely missing the A-frame on the way back down. My heart can't take much more of that. More work with the frame is in order but I think he'll be good enough by his debut in standard in 3 weeks. Teeter and weaves were great, he went flying off the table in one rep so we'll have to work on that but otherwise his tables were great (mmm, sardines). He was running a bit amok as far as following the course went and most of this was due to my handling going right out the window. This was mostly because I kept stopping to reward the obstacles and getting off track when I started back up again.

Lola went flying down on the table first time and that was before she knew about the sardines so of course I broke them out right away and let her munch away. Her table training away from the ring has been going so well lately, maybe there's hope. I alternated rewarding her and no reward as well as the amount of time I held her on the table. I got in 3 reps per run and rewarded 2/3. The second rep of the second run was the only time she hesitated and went off stress sniffing but I quickly got her on. I didn't reward her for the first table and when she realizes she's not getting rewards for every rep she starts to balk but this is exactly what we need to train for and why I need to keep taking her to matches. She did everything else no problemo, such a sweet happy girl. I'm so tempted to retire her from USDAA and we'll stick to DOCNA but her table has been an interesting training challenge and we'll see if my crazy made-up training scheme will work in the end. In the meantime I need to see if I can find a less slimy brand of sardine or maybe some other kind of small fish that is an actual whole fish and not fish parts. Or maybe I need to seriously reconsider how I'm spending my free time.

In other news poor Cody has to go in for surgery tomorrow to have a skin flap removed from his eyelid. It didn't seem to be bothering him and I was hoping it would fall off on its own somehow but it got bigger and his eye started oozing green stuff then red stuff so I decided it had to go. I'm not worried about the surgery itself but I am worried about anesthesia on a 10 1/2 year old dog. Poor guy, I'll have to spoil him next week to make up for it.

13 comments:

  1. LMAO! I just tried sardines too, for the same reason you did! Just forgot to write about them. Definitely "doggie crack." I plan to use them sometimes at a trial after a run, if I can get them divided into tiny little tupperware containers beforehand.

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  2. Hmm, maybe we should all go out and buy stock in sardine companies as agility enthusiasts world wide make a rush for the sardine aisle.

    And I'm such an old fart and complete geek that I actually googled 'LMAO' because I had no idea what it meant.

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  3. haven't tried sardines. Hmmm.

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  4. canned cat food. really. pretty much the same thing if you buy a good quality- but not as gunky. I put it in a container- or tug and treat- and the dog gets to lick it out...yummy!

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  5. I've been using sardines as a jackpot for several years now...as I read Susan's tip I thought, oh great, the price of sardines is going to skyrocket now that every one in the agility world is buying them... :)

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  6. I had thought cat food was bad for dogs but I couldn't remember where I'd hear that so I did a little internet research (oooh, scary!) and the consensus seems to be that a little is o.k., just don't give it to them all the time for meals. Will have to give it a try but it sounds messier than sardines as far as carrying it out with me on a course though could be good for after run treats back at the crate at a trial.

    I used frozen baby food in little jars as a reward for recalls and that worked great with Cody, might have to try that with Strummer, I'd forgotten all about it.

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  7. Sardines, yuck! I used them at the end of a track when I was tracking with my Dobes but handle them? Nosirrreee!
    I've gotten some very good results with Neese's liver pudding lately. Also frozen meatballs that I microwave for a few seconds before I cut them up.
    Hope Cody Baloney is out of surgery by now so you can relaxe and start spoiling him.

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  8. No surgery for Cody until next Monday. Stupid receptionist neglected to tell me he would need blood tests first and would need to fast/no water so she set up a surgery appointment even though it was an impossibility. Poor guy has to deal with eye ointment 2x a day for the next week then hopefully surgery on Monday if the blood tests come out o.k.

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  9. Anonymous7:43 AM

    big fish parts? um, sardines are small, finger size. they just kind of mush together in the can so it seems like one big hunk (unless there is some monster sardine out there i don't know about.) but there's no need to de-bone them, the bones are so over-cooked they are pre-digested and definitely not able to get stuck in a throat, doggie or human. i tried some myself ONCE for the calcium benefit, but never again.
    every once in a blue moon i forget how nasty they are and crack open a can for my doggies. at least THEY love them... but only in the privacy of my own home near the sink and soap...
    valpig

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  10. Well, they were finger sized, at least in length, but I was expecting something half the length of a finger and half the width of what I got which was maybe twice the width of a finger. Susan had described them as minnow sized so I was expecting a whole, tiny fish. Good to know about the bones though, I was unsure if they were edible or not and figured better safe than sorry. Next time I'll leave 'em in. If there is a next time.

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  11. By the way, that pictures of Cody receiving the braided tug is one of the best dog photos ever.

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  12. Well, thank you, I love that photo too. For the record it's actually Strummer in the photo (not that I expect people to keep track of my dogs, especially when I'm so bad at captioning photos). Cody's so funny, if you throw a tug toy at him he stares at it until it smacks him in the face or goes over his head. I have some photos of that too, I'll have to dig them out when I'm on my home computer.

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  13. Augh, sardines... I used them once, to get Lucy over her teeter fear after a Wile E. Coyote flyoff. It stank, for sure, but it worked.

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