Sunday, January 30, 2011

Up and running-sort of

I've got a power saw and I'm not afraid to use it.

O.k., actually I'm terrified to use it but I tried sawing a 2x4 by hand and decided I'd take my chances with the modern technology.  I'm happy to report that I still have all my phalanges.   It still took for freaking ever to saw all the wood though.  And the painting...  I can't believe I wasted two gorgeous days of mid-60's on painting giant toys for dogs.  I thought that painting and sawhorse assembling and hinge attaching would take a day and a bit but it took 3 days.  Plus the day for sawing.  This was a big job for someone who is not handy and doesn't have the slightest idea what she's doing.

Then there's the not so small problem of this only barely fits in my yard.  Now I knew that, really I did.  But one day I decided that the only way Strum was going to learn this dogwalk was if I could go out a few times a day for some short sessions rather than going out to the training field once or twice a week if I'm lucky.  So I busted out the tape measure and with some creative math and a heavy dose of denial I convinced myself this could somehow work.

Between those 2 photos I think you can see how deluded I was.  Part of the problem is that all of this was hinging on the hinges being easy to detach so that I could take the dogwalk apart on my own and put it away from time to time.  Because if I run the dogwalk into the other part of the yard and across the concrete sidewalk it works a bit better.  But unfortunately those 'detachable' hinges are a bitch.  I could barely muscle the pin out before I even attached them to the planks.  Definitely a 2 person job with a wood dogwalk and one of those persons better be strong.  Stronger than me anyway.  And I've been hitting the pool up these days so I do have some sort of kind of visible arm muscles.  I'm not going to be kicking Madonna's ass anytime soon but I've probably got a little more upper body strength than your average middle age dog lady.  Anyway, since this dogwalk is now assembled for the duration I didn't want it in the main yard blocking our access from the house to the garage since this is our main path to the world beyond.  I suppose we'll get good at running into walls.  Hopefully not literally.

This was an exhausting job.  When I finally finished this afternoon I curled up into the fetal position on the couch and watched a documentary on the Minutemen from Netflix.    Because OMG people, the effing MINUTEMEN.  If you never got to see the Minutemen live I weep for you.  Actually what I weep for is D. Boon dying in his 20's when he had so much music left in him.

'Little Man with a Gun in his Hand'-we'll dedicate this one to the Arizona gunman

I went digging through my vinyl for my copy of 'Double Nickels on the Dime' and discovered oh horrors, I don't have a copy on vinyl, must have had it on cassette tape and I threw out 90% of my cassette tapes when I threw out all the Stuff because when was the last time I ever listened to a cassette tape?  Then I got a jolt realizing how long it must have been since I last listened to this album. Time flies scary fast these days.  Then I started getting depressed about D. Boon and decided to look at the video I shot from Strum's first encounter with his new dogwalk.  And this didn't help the depression.

He's never done well working with toys and add in a brand new dogwalk and running into a wall in a major way and how tired I was from Day 3 of manual labor and this practice was doomed before we started.  But I wanted to see how he would respond to the dogwalk and how the dogwalk would hold up to him.  Obviously the down ramp needs some reinforcing mostly because it's a bit warped.  The other ramp which is my old ramp is nice and stiff with good reinforcing but it's even worse running him the other way because the fence is even closer to the end of the dogwalk.  I also need to videotape the top ramp to see if it needs reinforcing.  The sawhorses could use some stabilizing members as well.  I also think I need to face reality and move the walk so I have a little more space even if it does take over the yard and block the sidewalk.  For now this set up is too challenging.  I could also think about moving it so that it heads into the walkway that goes to the front of the house.  There are pavers there though so he'd have to run over the pavers to get on the walk and then the walk would block access to the front of the house.  I am NOT moving to a house with a bigger yard to accommodate oversized dog toys.  I have to draw the line on this madness somewhere.  Funny to think we told the realtor we wanted a small yard when we were looking for this house.  I suppose I can always try selling the dang thing if this doesn't work out.  The dogwalk, not the house.

I do have one handy tip that I can pass on though.  If you put hand cream on before you paint then the paint or primer washes off no problem if it's latex.  However I don't have a tip for keeping the paint off the Border Collie.  Or getting it off.  Especially off the tail, it's all over his big goofy tail.

He was not so very helpful this weekend.  In fact more the opposite of helpful.  Had to be banished to the house while I used the power tools and stood at the window panting and obsessing with the occasional shrieking barking fit.  I mean he stood at the window panting and barking, not me, though I was tempted.

Showing off his new dye job.

Very punk rock

Cody says he managed to not get any paint on himself.  It's not rocket science.

The temps. are supposed to plunge to single digits for a couple of days next week so this experiment is on hold for a bit.  Maybe by then my yard will have magically expanded by 20'.


  1. Oh my, I hope you find a position in which there will be at least 20' of run-out space. Running into the wall sure is advanced :)

    The reason Silvia usually rewards by throwing the toy ahead of the dog is because if you only throw it after the dog does the contact they usually start to look back at exactly the wrong time. So she throws ahead, then plays with the dog if the running was nice, otherwise there is no play. But of course, you need more room for that...

    This seems to work for many dogs, but not mine, unfortunately. He thinks we're just playing fetch and he doesn't even notice that he hasn't been extra rewarded when he jumps. It's never boring :)

  2. After sleeping on it I've decided I'm going to have to move the dogwalk so it heads towards the front of the house. There are several issues with this but I've looked at it every which way and it's the only way I can get enough landing room. He's still running into a wall but at least not right into a wall.

    Strum doesn't even seem to care if he doesn't get the reward, he's never going to differentiate between a reward and an extra reward. But I think I'll try throwing a tug toy early and see how that goes. The tug is not as exciting as a ball and I can add to the reward by tugging with him if he's successful. I experimented with this early on with the table/plank set-up but I gave it up quickly because he was getting too overexcited and missing too much. But he's older and wiser now so I think it's time to give it another try and persist with it a bit longer. My yard is a skating rink right now though so for now we drink tea and play indoor games. Wonder if I can get my weaves poles into my tiny living room? ; ) Oh wait, I did actually try that once and it was as bad as the dogwalk fiasco.

  3. Anonymous9:16 AM

    I was wondering why you hadn't updated your blog in several days! Reading your post brought back memories of when I decided to build an A-frame -- what a comedy of errors that was!

    I know my neighbors think I'm nuts, especially when they see me do a walk-through without the dog -- it must look like some kind of weird zen dance, moving and turning in circles with my arms out. Oh, who cares -- we're having fun, and that's what it's all about.

  4. Absolutely! One of the nice things about living in Boulder is that however crazy I may be, my neighbors are crazier. The one across the street had her house 'smudged' before she moved in. And the one she bought the house from had huge Wicca meetings and tried to get me to go to them. There are more but this post will get too long. My crazy dog stuff is small potatoes I think.

  5. Have you tried having Strummer drive to a toy placed on the ground about 15-20 feet from the end of the plank? He is not driving to the end of the plank but gathering his hind end changing gait and pushing off with both back feet as he is turned into you focusing on you and the ball instead of focusing forward.

  6. Anonymous2:01 PM

    do you know that stacy and a friend started a yahoo group called run don't walk? it' s for discussions on training running contacts a la sylvia...
    i'm finding it a good resource.

  7. Do you know the name of it? Morganne told me at the trial and it flew right out of my brain. Are you retraining a running dogwalk or just fine tuning your A-frame?

  8. Anonymous10:26 PM

    it's called run_don't_walk with those underscores. you can search yahoo groups for it.
    i'm retraining both dogwalk and a-frame. those yellow to yellow a-frames are scary...

  9. Thanks Debie, I found it and I'll see about joining. I'm a little leery of having to contribute once a month, this didn't work out so well for me when Linda Mecklenburg had the same rule for her Yahoo group but we'll see how it goes. At least I know Stacy personally and I can't imagine she'd be rude to me. I suppose it's worth checking out anyway.

  10. And yeah, those yellow to ground A-frames are even scarier. Strum was doing that at the start and I'm sure I narrowly escaped several mini-strokes.

  11. Well, your new dogwalk is beautiful! Maybe Strummer will come to appreciate it in the proper way.

  12. Wow! Hats off to you, A+ for effort. I love the things dog/agility people will do. I lived with weave poles in my living room for a while...