Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crazy Dog Lady Goes to College

Took the girls up to the University today for more socialization.  I haven't been up there in a million years.  Well except a few years ago an art grad student commissioned me to hypnotize her drawing class.  That was fun and interesting.  But other than that, I haven't had a reason to go there and when I attended I was on the engineering campus which is somewhat removed from the main campus with the pretty buildings and grassy areas.  I was trying to remember if there was even a quad sort of area.

We had a little adventure right at the start because I decided to park in the commercial area right next to campus and pulled up right next to a group of noisy, high, guitar playing homeless hippies complete with pitbull.  In between singing they were yelling loudly at anybody who would pay attention to them though it was more obnoxious 'pay attention to me' than aggressive.  Which pretty much sums up all of Boulder no matter the social class.  Anyway.  To add to the fun as I was unloading the dogs some cops came up to move the loud hippies along.  'Business owners were complaining', the cops told them.  We moved along and when I came back a half hour later they were gone.

We walked through the campus town a bit and then over to the university.  It turns out there is a nice big grassy sorta quadrangle type area and I stumbled on it right away.  And right away a big off leash Bernese Mountain Dog came running over and scared the crap out of Tess.  'He's really really friendly,' the stereotypical ditzy blonde yelled at me.  'She's really really scared,' I yelled back.  Efforts to contain the behemoth were minimal and largely unsuccessful but thankfully he never came right up to us.  Ruby made sure of that.  And I reassured Tess, told her she was fine, thankfully the dog didn't have evil on his mind. 

There were lots of people and skateboards and bikes and some guy doing I don't know what, some weird kind of break dancing or something.  Right next to break dancing guy another dog started to come up to her but this one was super calm and didn't too terribly close.  Ruby was too busy rolling around in the grass to sound the alarm and Tess was fine.  Then a college girl lying on the grass spotted Tess and jumped up and ran over to pet her, all excited.  Ruby went right up to her so Tess went as well and got some snugs off the girl.  Was happy that she did well with that.  She's doing much better with strangers wanting to say hi and pet her.  Ruby is super helpful there.  We were downtown on Sunday and Tess was actually going up to some people on her own, very encouraging.

Then the classes got out and suddenly there were hordes of people.  More bikes, more skateboards, a couple guys on crutches, all the 'scary to dogs' stuff.  She wasn't thrilled but she did o.k., no freezing, nervous for sure but she managed it.  She was happy to get back to the car though.  In all I'd guess we were out 25 minutes or so.

No photos from our outing but both girls were out cold afterwards.  Socializing is hard work.

Some recent photos.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Out of the Fire and Back Into the Frying Pan

The rescue folks were able to find someone to take Tess' dad but unfortunately the owners wanted him back and the pound gave him back to them.  Because apparently you have to be super super bad before they'll convict you of animal abuse and refuse to let you have animals in Seagraves, Texas.  Because, Texas.  Anyway, some folks were going to keep an eye on him.  If he's tethered for longer than 3 hours or gets loose again then animal control has the number of someone who'll take him.

There was initial speculation that he might be a McNab or have some McNab in him.  Looks very possible.

Such a cool looking dog and I see so much of Tess in him.  But TWO dogs, especially when one is a puppy that's scared of stuff.  Hopefully he'll be sprung from his terrible situation.

I have a fair amount of faith in him getting loose and hopefully not getting hit by a car and landing in the good home he deserves.

At least he lives another day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire

Leo, Tess' dad, was not seized with the mom and pups so did not make the journey from Seagraves, Texas up to Colorado.  However he was being kept on a tether and managed to break free from it only to land in the shelter with a death sentence of this Friday (April 14) tacked to his head.

At first I was happy to hear he was away from his former owner and life on a tether but the shelter has no room so on Friday they will have to put him to sleep, he never even gets a chance at a possible adoption.  It breaks my heart.  But I'm not sure what to do.  Seagraves is a 9 1/2 hour drive and I don't know what this dog is like, I don't want 3 dogs especially when one of them is a brand new puppy who's scared of dogs and lots of other things.  I can't even figure out where he is exactly.  There is no shelter listed for Seagraves so I'm guessing he's at Reed's Ranch and Rescue who are the folks who dug Tess, mom and the other pups out from the abandoned building.  Living in the Boulder Bubble or even the Front Range Bubble where dogs get plucked out of rescue fairly quickly it's easy to forget that dogs in rural America face a harsher reality. Sigh. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Baptism By Fire

Tess had a big adventure over the weekend at our friend's hobby farm up in the mountains.  Tess met 8 of her 9 dogs (one was too old), everything from Papillons to Great Pyrenees, and we all went on a short walk in the mountains along with an energetic 4 year old boy.  Plus there were pregnant goats, baby goats, lots of goats.  And a tall guy with a beard and baseball cap, the 'Taliban for dogs' as he referred to himself.  She met only 3 dogs at first and then one by one my friend let more dogs out until there were so many Tess didn't know which one to worry about.  When she first got out of the car she alarm barked at the 2 dogs that came over but they mostly ignored her and she calmed down enough to walk around and into the barn to meet the goats.  She did great on the walk, wouldn't take treats but she trotted along with all the dogs no problem.  She wasn't thrilled but she did it, no freezing and only a little minimal whining.  I was thrilled.

Getting braver.

I've also been getting her out and about to loud, noisy places with lots of people and kids and more trips in the car.  She was great on the drive up to the mountains, not a peep out of her and Ruby wasn't there for moral support.

Still not sure why the yard is such a buzzkill, especially first thing in the morning.  She tears around the house all crazypants and as soon as she gets outside she won't play at all.  She will play a bit in the afternoon.  Random junk is much more fun than dog toys.

Reminds me a bit of Strummy and his watering can.  Well not that crazy excited but still, it was more fun than all the dog toys.

I don't even know why I bother with dog toys.

Once my grass starts coming in I'll start back up with Ruby's agility training and then I think Tess will get jealous and turn on to the yard.  But for now my yard is a nuclear wasteland of brown.

Like watching grass grow

I've even started watering it, something I've never done in April but it's so dry and no sign of moisture on the horizon.  Jonny thinks I'm crazy but I swear there are little shoots of green coming up here and there that weren't there before I started watering.  I can live in hope.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Uptown Girls

Took Tess and Miss Ruby to downtown Boulder this morning during rush hour.  Sounds crazy I know but I went to a park where I'd taken a fitness boot camp and the same time of morning so I knew what it would be like and figured she could handle it.  Downtown is more of a touristy place so it doesn't start hopping until 11 or so.  Still we went next to the bike path where there were commuters on bikes, groups of runners, high school kids walking en masse from the bus stop to the high school, jibbering homeless people, weird statues, lots of traffic noise since the park is small and bordered by busy streets.  At one point I took them one a sidewalk right next to a super busy street and this unnerved Tess a bit but she was o.k. and it was only for 1/2 a block.  Otherwise she did great.  She stopped a couple times to check out the huge crowd of high school kids and big groups of joggers but she seemed more curious than afraid.  Definitely getting braver.

She doesn't like to play in the yard in the morning.  Something about the yard at that time of day unnerves her.  If I get her really wound up inside then take her out she'll chase a toy for a toss or two then run to the back door to go back in.  Once inside she tears around again like her ass is on fire.

Please to let me in now.

She's better in the afternoon and was even playing in the yard with Ruby and chasing a toy this afternoon.  She was super wound up over tired though.

She was good in the car on the way downtown.  Gave her a Kong and there was nary a peep out of her.  On the other hand Ruby pitched the worst fit I've ever heard.  She did NOT want to ride in the back of the Element in a small car crate, even if she did have a Kong.  With peanut butter.  I had bought her a seat belt harness but Tess was using it and riding behind me so I could give her treats and Ruby was not down with this at all.  So I did the terrible thing of letting her ride loose on the way home.  I KNOW.  Bad.  But it was a short drive and I couldn't bear to have her so hysterical.  I'll have to get another harness but it took so long to get the first one, Tess will have outgrown it by the time it gets here.  Will have to see if I can find something locally though when I looked for Ruby I didn't have much luck.  I think I was more stressed out with the whole morning than the dogs were.

Who me?  Bark in the car?  No way.

She was a great confidence booster for Tess this morning so I want to be able to take them places together.  I'll have to figure something out.

Happy Crazy Ears Day.

Puppy training tip 'o the day: If you want your puppy to stop chewing on your husband's slipper just whip out the camera and start taking pictures because SO boring. Now if anyone has any tips on how to train your husband not to leave his slippers where the puppy can get them I'm all ears.

 Tomorrow is baby goat day.  Should be interesting.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Going Social x 2

The last week was a big one for Tess, a trip to the vet and getting her out as much as I can.  The vet told me not to worry about waiting for the immunizations to take effect, she's never seen a case of parvo around here and socialization is so much more important.

She handled the drive to the vet no problem.  I kept stuffing kibble in her crate and she was quiet.  Getting her out of the crate and into the vet was another matter.  I had to physically pull her out of the crate, something I was loathe to do but no way she was coming out.  Then I waited her out until she'd go through the door to the vet.  It was a busy day, a big noisy dog was there for grooming and barking and lots of people in and out of the place.  The vet tech gave her lots of treats and I tried to shape her to go on the little baby scale they had in the room.  Got her front paws on no problem but couldn't get the rear in a timely matter so again had to muscle her onto the scale.  But the rest of the appointment went o.k.  My vet friend was very good with her and Tess managed the shots no problem.  She has an umbilical hernia that is getting worse and not going to resolve.  I was hoping it would hold out until her spay but my vet thinks not so much.  But for now I'm going to keep an eye on it and hope it'll hold out for the next few weeks so I can work on the ever important socialization with her.  Some say that window slammed shut at 12 weeks, others say 14 and still others say 16 weeks.  She's at 14 weeks as of Tuesday which means somewhere in my head I lost a week since I've been telling people she's at 13 weeks.

Sun Buddies

She's been doing better with walking, has seen some people and dogs and been o.k. with it.  Yesterday we went on an impromptu parallel walk with my neighbor and her calm-ish friendly dog.  Tess did great with that and my neighbor saved us from the idiot Portuguese Water Dog that is ALWAYS loose.  Ruby hates that dog, it's not aggressive per se but it does have that stupid Tarzan Dog personality and charges at her full speed.  The woman who owns it has been letting it run loose for the past 8 years or so and they live right next to a park we walk through all the time so it's a problem.  There's no reasoning with the owner, she's stinking rich and doesn't care, thinks she owns the place and is more than capable of paying any Loose Dog fines.  Think I may start carrying some citronella spray.  I hate to do that but I have to look out for my dogs and I can't help the idiots out there.

A couple of my friends with nice calm dogs have come by to visit Tess, both on the same day.  The first dog belongs to my agility training partner and is a nice calm mini poodle, just a bit bigger than Tess.  She was scared at first, ran to the back of the house and barked.  We all ignored her and eventually she came out and joined us in the living room.  Many treats later she was finally relaxing a bit around the dog and was happily taking pets and treats from my friend.  The second dog was a very calm sheltie owned by the woman who gave me Ruby so Ruby was happy to see her.  Tess not so much at first and she refused to come out of the back room so we all went and joined her and again, many treats later she relaxed. 

Funny thing is she was totally fine with me and Jonny and Ruby when we went to the foster mom's house, very confident, played with us.  But she's only been with me 2 1/2 weeks and she was in the foster home for 5 weeks or so.  I hate to push too much on her at once but that socialization window is shutting and it will only get harder.

And office buddies.

Last night she went on a half hour car ride out to a friend with a Border Collie I didn't know who turned out to be too energetic for Tess right now.  So instead Tess met her 3 kids and husband and did great with everybody.  She wandered around her yard a bit, my hope being that eventually I can bring her back and she can play with the other dog and it'll help if she's familiar with the yard.  She barked and whined mightily on the journey out there.  I had her in a seat belt harness so I wouldn't have to manhandle her out of a crate and I gave her treats here and there but I had to focus on driving.  She slept on the way back, phew.

The 5 year old neighbor girl has been coming over almost every day and Tess is finally comfortable enough to go up to her for snugs even when she doesn't have treats.  She even started playing with her yesterday.  And her older brother came over with her for the first time and Tess was fine with him, let him pet her with no treats, went up to him no problem.  So at least she's good with kids so far.  So grateful to the neighbor girl for that.

She was in her first snow the other day.  At first she wouldn't go in it but once she did there was no stopping her.

Trying to arrange a day for my friend with a nice mellow greyhound to come over and hopefully a trip up to my other friend's hobby farm and another big friendly dog for her to meet along with baby goats.  But we'll see, they got a lot more snow up in the mountains so it might not be reasonable to go up this weekend.  My snow is nearly gone, just a bit along the shady fence line.

Funny all the socializing I've been doing along with the puppy.  Some of these folks I haven't seen in ages, not because I don't want to see them but because everyone is busy and I've not thought to make the effort.  Such nice people, all of them, I need to do better to stay in touch with people.

Ruby is doing great, has not only started playing more with toys but has also started playing with Tess!  Shocking!  I never thought I'd see her play with another dog.  I think she started doing it at first because she didn't like being left out when I played with Tess and now I think she might even like it a bit.  I'll have to get some video.

I re-twisted my ankle the day after the One Mind Dog seminar, was sore after being on my feet all day and then the ankle was a bit unstable the next day.  Feels fine now but I'm still restricting myself, partly because the puppy is a huge time suck and partly because I want it to heal so I can play this summer so I'm being good.  But the lack of exercise is awful.  I'm keeping up with masters swimming and I can bike if I want but that's a big time suck and the trails have been snowy/muddy.  Did go out on the dirt roads over the weekend, it felt so good to get out there but I'm bored with my route.  And no baby buffaloes yet.  Been doing some strength training but not enough.  Trying to find the motivation for it.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

One Mind Dogs Seminar

Fun at the One Mind Dogs Seminar this past Thursday.  Lots of this kinda action going on.

Full Disclosure - One Mind Dogs provided me with the opportunity for a free auditing spot so I didn't pay to attend.  However this is not a commercial blog and everything I write about is my opinion, not an attempt to promote anything.  However I know the internets has rules about disclosing this sort of thing so there you go.

For those unfamiliar with One Mind Dogs it's a motion/body language based method of handling with lots of techniques for handling those technical, international style courses.  Because it largely uses motion and body language it fits in nicely with the type of stuff I learned from Linda Mecklenburg's 'system' and used with Strummer.  In fact I see that Mary Ellen Barry, from whom I learned a LOT about Linda's system at seminars, is now a One Mind 'official' coach.  However the One Mind methodology has many different handling techniques and a different flavor to it.  My training partner and I have been playing around with the various handling techniques for years now and I've been to a couple few seminars put on by people using the basic methodology but this is the first time I ever attended an official One Mind Dogs seminar with instructors from Finland.

The seminar was all handling on jumps and tunnels, no contacts or weaves, and there were two rings - masters level and advanced or maybe beginner.  The courses looked complicated for a true novice dog so I'm guessing it was more advanced level.  The 2 instructors - Tuulia and Timo - switched rings mid-day so everybody got to experience both instructors.  And this caused me my first case of FOMO (fear of missing out) in a very long time.  Do I audit only the masters or only the advanced sessions and experience both instructors or do I pick an instructor and audit both levels?  On the one hand a course in the basics would be great, on the other hand I love a hard challenging course and it's good to see where I'm headed with all this.  Initially I thought I'd bounce back and forth between the 2 rings but when I started walking the masters course I realized I would not be able to walk both courses and concentrate on both rings.  That masters course was complicated, 35 obstacles, though I think most people only went up to 28.  Some of the jumps and a tunnel were repeated as many as 5 times so it was a good memory test.  The course map had a list of handling moves and where to perform them.  I wanted to walk the course and think about what handling move I would use and then walk again looking at the suggested handling and it was all so complicated and such a long course that I decided to focus only on Tuulia's masters ring for the morning session and go over to Timo's ring for afternoon masters.  This turned out to be a good strategy because the handling moves covered weren't all that different between the levels and I was glad to experience both instructors and see the more complicated courses.

After we walked the course Tuulia went through it with us and there was a lot of instruction and discussion.  Then we walked through again on our own before the folks with working spots started running. I think there was as much as 2 hours of walking and instruction before folks started running dogs so lots of information for me even though I was only auditing. 

Everybody had one turn and worked through the whole course rather than breaking it up into small pieces over several turns.  It's an interesting approach, saves time on jump height changes and you only have to warm up and cool down your dog once plus the mental challenge of having to remember and handle the big long course all at once.

I listened to the instruction on some runs and I took photographs and video for others which is also an interesting way to learn stuff.  And FYI I had permission from the participants to take and post all the videos and photos shown on the blog.

The course had a lot of False Turns or RFP's (Reverse Flow Pivots) as we called them back in the day.  Linda M's system had done away with them in general and they fell out of fashion in general anyway as they were seen as 'lying to your dog'.  I remember using them successfully with Cody but maybe Lola found them a bit demotivating.  Maybe.  I might be mis-remembering that, it's been so long.  I didn't use them at all with Strummer but I never was able to get predictable results with the Come to Hand cue that I believe was supposed to take the place of RFP's.  Getting him to come into me was a lifelong struggle and I wonder now if an occasional RFP might have done the trick.  I'll probably bring them back for my current dogs, we'll see.  One Mind Dogs brings back several handling moves and concepts that had fallen out of fashion, will be interesting to see them coming back into use.  To be fair, One Mind Dogs puts a different flavor to these moves from the way I originally learned them but the backbone is the same.

The afternoon session with Timo had an equally challenging course, again passing through the same jumps and tunnels as many as 5 times making for a good memory challenge.  Again there was lots of instruction and some general handling tips before people started running dogs.  Lots of people, including myself, running for our notebooks to take notes.  It was funny, I was listening to the feedback and instruction on the first few runs but nobody who was running a dog was listening and those folks kept making the same mistake in the same place, Timo had to repeat himself every time.  It was hard to hear from the seats outside the ring, you had to go right up to where the action was to hear and I think people were tired by that point.  I know my sore ankle was acting up and it had a lot of words for me when I got home.  But this was a rare opportunity to learn from some of the best so it was worth a bit of discomfort.

This course had many different techniques.  I can't help but wonder how it would have gone for me if I had had a dog to run.  The seminar did allow auditors to run their dogs on the courses during the lunch break so if I'd brought a dog with me I could have given it a go but of course I have no dogs at this level at the moment.  It's also funny walking a course and not having a dog in mind or having Strummer in mind and having the realization of 'oh yeah'.  Still it's good to keep up my knowledge even if I don't have a way to practice it at the moment.  And it's good to see where I'm headed so I have an idea of foundation work to focus on.

Here's a video montage.  Was going to have a bunch of short clips of handling moves but Grete's run at the end of the video was such a thing of beauty that I couldn't bear to edit it.

All in all it was a great day and a great experience.  And a big thanks to One Mind Dogs for allowing me to experience it.