Monday, May 29, 2017

More Puppy Photos and some Hiking

Because the internetz needs more puppy photos these days.

Please play with me.



Oh, okay already.  Happy now?

Yes, thanks.

She's getting so big.  These photos are from 4 days ago and already she seems way huger.  Will have to get more photos.

She's finally walking like a normal dog - leaving the yard no problem and finally finally not pulling my arm off for home.  She's discovered that walking by my side for tasty treats and sniffing all the sniffs out there is way more fun.

Still rockin' the ears.

She met some more new dogs this past week, an Aussie, another Border, a Golden and a Boxer.  All of them very calm and happy enough to leave her alone.  We started off on a walk with just the Aussie who is old and very calm then added the other dogs then went in my friend's yard with all the dogs off leash.  She wasn't thrilled but she managed o.k. and I didn't bring Ruby, mostly because I don't want to subject Ruby to all of that.  Poor girl, she's been so awesome with the puppy and disruption to her quiet life.  I did take Ruby along with Tess to my training partner's for another visit with her poodles.  She did great this time, my friend was pleased to see her running around and sniffing the other dogs.  Ruby's o.k. with this, she walks with these dogs all the time and she's happy to have a big new yard to run around and sniff in.  Tess was still a little nervous but at least she was running around and not hiding behind me and did engage a bit with the other dogs.  She's getting there.

Took Ruby for a hike up in the high country yesterday.  She deserved some puppy free time.  Tess is still too young to go hiking.  We didn't go very far, up Boulder Canyon to Nederland on some unmarked trails that we mostly had to ourselves on a busy holiday weekend.  Unfortunately the more remote trails were under water so we had to turn around sooner than we wanted.  We did have to go on some marked, more popular trails that had turned into crazyland by the time we made our way back to the car.

Aspens up high are starting to get their leaves.

Normally the town clears out during holiday weekends but we're into a new normal these days and it's no longer the case.  Plus this is Bolder Boulder 10K weekend so it's the one holiday weekend that can be particularly crazy, especially downtown where there's a Creek Festival in addition to the Bolder Boulder madness.  There used to be around 44,000 competitors, not sure how many this year but the town is bursting at its seams.  We just avoid downtown and any other touristy places as best we can.  Even the trail by my house was Grand Central Station this weekend.  Tried to take the dogs down to the lake at 6:45 Friday morning and the trail was blocked by a screen and a bunch of people for a commercial photo shoot.  I squeezed past that cluster then down by the lake there was crazy yoga lady who freaked out both dogs and crazy guy sitting in a chair having a picnic with his husky.  We couldn't get near the lake.  At 6:45 on a Friday morning.  Early Saturday morning wasn't much better.  We gave up the rest of the weekend.  So ready to move to a quieter place.  The San Juans are calling.  If only that perfect house would come up.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More Tess Progress and Ruby Does Agility

The seller is obviously not ready to part with her house so we're going to continue to look and maybe in a few months she'll be more negotiable.  She's asking too much and while we can afford it, we don't want to overpay and then there's the 3300 square feet issue.  I was liking the idea of my own indoor agility facility though and I think 60x80 would be significantly better than 40x60 so I'll continue to look for a place that we can build on if we can't find a building already there.

On the plus side, it means I'll probably be here for another round of agility classes.  Ruby had her 3rd class of 6 yesterday and it's been very fun and interesting.  I've never had a formal foundation class before outside of a 1/2 day seminar with Stacy Peardot a million years ago.  Nicole Levesque is teaching the class at her indoor Spirited Dog facility and it's following the One Mind Dogs methodology.  I've poured over the videos on the One Mind site so I have a basic idea of the theory and methods but seeing stuff on videos and executing the stuff are two different things.  It looks so simple and yet it's easy to go so wrong so I'm glad I decided to go with a class.  The facility is a 38 minute drive and class starts at 8:00 a.m. on a weekday but I leave early, stop for coffee and so far the rush hour traffic hasn't been awful, even with an accident on one of the mornings and rain the other two.

There are only 4 dogs in the class, another Chihuahua and 2 Border Collie puppies, so there's plenty of personal attention and opportunity for questions. The One Mind 'system' is all about handling the dog's line rather than the obstacles, not a new concept but one that I need work with.  It's good to be able to learn this from the ground up.  Rewards are pre-placed on the dog's line so the handler can send and go.  Obstacle independence and commitment are the other important pieces.  Again, not new concepts but holes in my training with Strummer.  So far we're working on offering a jump, handling on the flat, sending to a reward over jumps, and sends around wings.  Even at this basic stage I'm turning my shoulders the wrong way, partly because of the mechanics of getting Ruby into position so I'll work on teaching her to line up on my side this week.  Getting her to turn to the left is another challenge.  I knew this from Cik/Cap training, she strongly favored turns to the right.  So we'll work on that too.  We're having snow and rain for the next 2 days but I'll get some video of both Ruby and Tess once things dry out.  And I have time for training now that I'm not frantically trying to get a house ready to go on the market.

I did get a few pictures of her yesterday when it was sunny and in the 70's.

She seems huge to me.  I wanted to get Ruby out there for scale but after agility class she crashed for the rest of the day and refused to get off the bed.  She ain't no Border Collie.

She's made a lot of progress.  I've taken her over to my training partner's house several times now and she went from hiding behind me to running around the yard and asking for belly rubs.  She doesn't play with the other dogs, and Monday we were up to 3 other dogs, but she's finally going up to them and sniffing them and is much more comfortable around them.  Also my friend who is a groomer was there on Monday and showed me how to trim her nails.  It was like magic, didn't even use any treats though you could.  I'll have to do a video, hopefully I can do it on my own.  Made perfect sense too, more on that later.  I was not having any luck with moving very slowly using treats and shaping and her nails had gotten so long.

She caught her first tennis ball today.  Then she did it again!  Very exciting.  Such a clever girl.

She mostly did well on her road trip.  Didn't want to go in the hotel room at first but eventually decided it was o.k. when she saw everyone else in there.  There was a dog constantly barking in a yard that was only a block away so it was challenging getting her to go out to do her business.  And since she's a puppy we took her out a lot.  We only had one or two instances of her completely freezing and refusing to take another step but she worked through it and mostly was o.k.  Worried but able to deal with it.  She did great with riding in the car with the realtor and being left alone while we looked at houses.  She'd been struggling with being left alone in the car so that was a big deal.  Thinking about it, she had Ruby with her whereas the times she struggled it was just her so we'll have to work on weaning her off of Ruby.  But for now Ruby makes all the difference for her.

I thought she'd be better walking around the neighborhood when we got home but the first day back she was worse, I could barely get her past the house.  Not sure what it was about unless the mountain lion had been nearby and she could smell it.  She's doing o.k. now but since she's gotten bigger her sometimes frantic pulling for home is becoming a problem for me.  Between my knees and back I can't tolerate dogs pulling me around like a sack of potatoes so we had a couple bad mornings where the last few blocks took forever since I stopped as soon as she pulled which of course only makes it worse as she got more and more frantic to get home.  I switched our route around and that has helped so far.

Perhaps today I'll try an indoor place - Home Depot or McGuckin's (Boulder's hardware store).  Up until now I thought it would be too much for her but I think she's ready.

I've been training her on the flatwork from Ruby's agility class but not on the jumps.  Tess is only 5 months and in my mind this is way too young for jumps of any kind.  Plus she's a little clumsy, gumby legs going in all directions.  But Nicole insists a bar or half a pool noodle on the ground is o.k.  And yes the One Mind videos show a 4 month old puppy going over a low bar (below the hock).  But still.  I know she's at a great place for learning but there seems to be so much else she can learn.  For now I'm going to hold off on the jumping, even if it is just a low bar.  Someone in class had the great idea of duct tape on the ground so maybe I'll try that.  Or even a rope.  Or maybe just wait.

She's doing better in the backyard, plays more with toys, not as nervous to go out in it in general.  Dogs barking when she can't see them are a huge trigger for her, even if it's only faint barking and I wonder if that might have come from being in a crate in a van at 4 weeks old on a long drive up from Texas with lots of other dogs in crates panic barking the whole way.  Flooding gone wrong.  Or maybe not, who knows, just a theory.  In any case she's doing a bit better with this, able to stay in the yard when she hears barking, able to continue on her walk.  Mostly.

Both dogs spent almost the entire weekend hanging out in the yard while we weeded like crazy trying to cut back the jungle and make our house and yard look presentable.  I think this helped her feel more comfortable in the yard.  Hopefully she'll do some training for toys once the storm blows over and things dry up.  She has a pretty short attention span but she is only a baby still.

More videos and photos next week.  Unless another house comes up and I have to go back to Mancos and things get crazy again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quick Trip to the Four Corners

Tess is now 5 months or so and has come a long way.  She still has a long way to go but at least I'm seeing progress.

Decisions, decisions.

Last week we took a trip down to Mancos - Dolores - Cortez area, partly to look at houses but mostly because we needed a break and to get off the Front Range for a bit.  Tess did great for the 7 1/2 hour drive that always somehow ends up taking 9.

We stopped for a little break at Kenosha Pass.

But the main reason it took so long was that we stopped at a little sandwich shop in Salida for lunch and as we sat outside eating right next to the car so I could watch the dogs and fret over Tess being left alone, a huge tour bus pulled up right next to us and an even huger high school track team filed out.  It was bad enough that the end of the bus that was noisy and spewing exhaust was right next to Tess' window but when it pulled away it hit our car.  The driver was all thankful that the damage was minor and no one was hurt and I'm going on and on about my scaredy cat dog and no not everyone was o.k.  Except she kind of was.  She wasn't thrilled and certainly scared but not in a terrible state.  I took both dogs for a little walk and between having just been in a car that was hit by a bus and being in a strange place and all kinds of dogs barking at us from cars and who know where, she was reasonably o.k.  Scared but functional.  Not that much more unhinged than some of our walks through the neighborhood.  So in the end all was o.k. except we had to hang around forever while the bus driver called the cop and the cop did all his cop stuff and it was so hot for early May.  So yeah, 9 hours by the time we got to Mancos.

I only brought one crate for Tess since Ruby isn't fond of crates and sleeps on the bed with us but Ruby went into the crate immediately and she was so tired that she didn't object when Tess wormed her way in.  Ruby is Tess' rock.

Crate Buddies

We spent our first day driving around looking at houses and neighborhoods without the realtor.  We crossed 2 places off the list right away and wanted to add another that we hadn't asked to see.  We also took a little break at the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor's Center so everyone could pee.

We didn't go into the park though.  It's a long, twisty, steep drive to get to the cliff dwellings and it was already starting to get too busy for us.  No point driving all that way for peace and quiet only to get caught up in a swarm of tourists.

We did stop up at Boggy Draw for a quick hike since Tess shouldn't go too far.  No pictures somehow, guess I was fed up with the camera.

The next day was with the realtor and we found out right away that we couldn't get in to see the main house we'd wanted to see - a little 'casita' right near Boggy Draw.  The renters weren't cooperating since they didn't want to move out and the listing realtor wasn't aggressive enough about getting them out and we decided this sounded like a good situation to avoid.  Also the road to get to the house looked a bit interesting from the main road.  We didn't go up it but we could see the house and it was a decent ways up.  Not terrible but certainly an exciting drive in a winter storm and a bit more excitement and isolation than we're looking for.

We ended up seeing a house that was just de-listed but the realtor knew about.  She said she had woken up at 2 am remembering it and realizing it would be perfect for us.  And it sort of was because it had a 40x60 outbuilding with concrete floor, electrical, lights, insulation and heat.  I could have my own indoor agility facility, teach lessons if I want.  Location was great too, no crazy roads, 7 minutes from town.  4 1/2 acres with reasonably flat land an a huge area that's already fenced.  Land and fences needed some work.  But the house was too big.  Like WAY too big.  3300 square feet too big.  We're looking for more like 1200-1800.  2400' was my line in the sand if everything else was good.  I hate big houses, pain in the ass all the way around.  Nonetheless we put in an offer on the place.  Every night I wake up in a hot sweat whispering, '3300 square feet, HOLY CRAP'.  But we've given the owner until today to respond and as of 4:00 still no response.  She doesn't want to sell the place but can't afford to keep it sort of thing which is why she de-listed it.  So it may take some time for her to be ready to part with it.  Or maybe she won't and we'll find some place that isn't 3300 square feet.

I already have someone who wants to buy our house.  A friend of mine has a son who's moving back here next year but he really likes our house and starter homes are so hard to come by that he would rent it out until he moved here.  Only trouble is he needs to sell a condo and now it starts to get complicated.  Ah the logistics of moving.  Let's not even talk about the insane amount of time we've spent so far getting this house ready to go on the market if we have to.  And still not totally done.  And it's only 1100 square feet.  Not sure how we'll cope with 3x the size.  Oh well, we'll see what happens.

In other news, Ruby had her third agility foundation class today.  She's such an awesome little girly.  No photos or videos.  Foundation stuff is so little and big at the same time.  So simple but so much detail tied up in the simplicity.  The classes are taught by a One Mind instructor, or coach, or assistant coach, or something.  In any case, it's the One Mind methodology and it's very different from anything I've ever done before but also some similarities.  I'll go into more detail in future posts and maybe get some video of Ruby and Tess practicing.

Thursday, May 04, 2017


In extremely local news, my neighborhood is currently home to two dangerous predators.  One is a mountain lion mom who has already killed a pug in a yard very close to the grocery store, an area I've been walking the dogs to frequently in order to work on Tess' socialization.  The big cat is hanging around because she has 3 juvenile, 9 month old cubs who were tranquilized and relocated from the neighborhood.  I get that it's not good for anybody that the cats were so far into a residential neighborhood but I don't get DOW's genius idea of taking the cubs without waiting for mom to come back.  Because now she's combing our neighborhood looking for them and DOW are combing the neighborhood looking for her.  Or they were for a day or two anyway.  Then they left us to deal with the fallout of their decision.  My neighbor from a block away came face to face with the cat a week ago on a very busy street, a street that I've been going down with the dogs because I figured the cat would stay away from the noisy traffic.  My neighbor was walking her dog and carrying a walking stick in case she encountered the cat.  She came to an intersection and the cat was crouched in a drainage ditch.  She screamed, bashed her stick on the ground and the cat took off, coming to within a block of my house, maybe right past my house if she happened to make a turn.

I'm not terribly afraid of these cats for myself, we've had them in the neighborhood before, but I do worry about my little dogs.  Though Tess is a lot bigger now, these photos are a week old.

Lions will stalk you even if you have several big dogs.  These guys are nice bite size snacks.  My yard is not conducive to a lion attack for many reasons (very small, lots of fences within fences) but still, a lion could absolutely snatch them up if it wanted to.  So they're not allowed in the yard without a human chaperone and I have some long handled garden tools handy.  As well as my own walking stick, a nice lightweight pole with a pointy end that I got for snowshoeing.  Jonny thinks I'm overreacting and I think he's got that thing of underestimating risk, perhaps called 'optimism bias'?  I forget the technical term and where specifically I've read about it, maybe Daniel Kahneman or Nassim Taleb or both of them.  Or neither of them.  I blame my inability to remember this sort of thing on the vastness of the internets and Too Much Information All The Time.  Anyway, it's a thing, that in general we overestimate how safe we are.  My simple risk analysis says the cost of carrying a lightweight hiking pole is very small vs the benefit of having it if I run into a Big Kitty, especially since there have been numerous sightings on all the routes I walk with the dogs.  Plus the peace of mind of having it, I feel a lot less vulnerable, especially knowing that the cat was scared of my neighbor's stick.  It's also handy to keep Tess safe from loose dogs though thankfully that's not been a problem this week.

We're still playing in the yard and going on walks and I'm not scared but I am vigilant, walking softly, carrying my big stick.

Which could also come in handy against predator #2, an SVP or 'Sexually Violent Predator' who has taken up residence at the Boulder Homeless Shelter, a mile away from me.  Sexually Violent Predators are different from regular garden variety Sex Offenders. 'Sexually Violent Predator' is a designation given by judges or the parole board to certain sex offenders who exhibit personality traits authorities contend make them likely to commit further offenses, according to the Daily Camera, our local newspaper.  A local cop referred to him as, 'a really bad dude'.  His crimes?  Also according to the Camera:

In 2000, Lawyer kidnapped a Boulder woman who was delivering newspapers at the Gold Run apartments, forced her into her vehicle and taped her eyes and mouth shut. Lawyer drove the woman to another location, raped her for more than an hour at gunpoint and attempted to make casual conversation afterward.

The day before the rape, Lawyer forced his way into a University Hill home and attempted to rape another woman, police said. That woman was injured, but managed to escape.


Frankly, he should be spending the rest of his days in prison if we took violence against women seriously in this country.  But his mommy is rich and well connected with ties to the parole board so, yeah, he's out on parole with nowhere to go.  Because mommy's equally rich neighbors would not stand for a psychopath in their tony neighborhood and threatened to get the HOA to vote in a rule that says no psychopaths allowed, thank you very much.  Mommy's house is up for sale.  And she lost her position that gave her access to the parole board.

Mr. Psycho then tried to move to a small, isolated mountain town above Boulder and the parole board said Nay Nay to that because no cell service and 40 minute police response time and lots of hiking trails for him to hunt on didn't sound like a good plan.  Not sure why releasing him at all sounded like a good plan but here we are with a Psycho and nowhere for him to go.

Except the Boulder Homeless Shelter which apparently has some 'parole beds' and takes in these SVP's.  My wealthy neighbors are not happy about this and frankly neither am I.  This isn't good for the surrounding neighborhoods or the other non-violent folks in the Homeless Shelter, especially women.  Plus the Homeless Shelter is right next to a strip club.  Genius.

Personally I'm less worried about Mr. Psycho than I am about Ms. Mountain Lion.  Because for once Too Many People works in my favor.  It seems unlikely that he would stroll into a neighborhood or onto a trail (violations of his parole) with so many people around and so many aware of him.  He is allowed at the grocery store but it's so crowded and everybody with their cell phones. Problem is I've already spotted 2 people that looked like him but weren't.  Gotta feel sorry for all the 40 something bald guys with stubbly beards out there.  Lots of very very upset Boulderites, not sure how long he'll stay here and it sounds like the community is putting pressure on the homeless shelter to stop accepting SVP's.  I think it's the only one in the state that takes them in.

Now on the other hand, the histrionics of some people in this debate . . .  I joined the Nextdoor site a few months ago to get info. about a wildfire and wow, it is both disturbing and entertaining.  My next door neighbor is not particularly bright, very wealthy, self-centered, arrogant and anti-government tea party type wingnut.  He was on there raving about how we need to 'blow up the homeless shelter and move it far far away'.  And no I'm not taking this out of context.  He was also ranting about outlawing panhandling because like many Libertarians he's all for his own personal rights but not for those of others.  The homeless shelter was established in 1987 and my not so much a candidate for Mensa neighbor moved in in 2007.  Now you would think that if you have a problem with homeless shelters that maybe you should pick a different neighborhood.  He doesn't have a job here, 'works' from home, or whatever he does.  Because however wealthy and overbuilt the area around the shelter becomes, it's not going anywhere, and this town does need a place for the truly needy to go.  The shelter was established because a homeless veteran froze to death on the streets of Boulder.  Back then the shelter was established on the outskirts of town but now with the onslaught Too Many People and Too Much Development the shelter is surrounded by shiny new homes and wealthy transplants and friction is inevitable.  Boulder has a big and complex homeless problem, not sure how to solve that but blowing up the homeless shelter is not the solution.

But the SVPs, they have to go.  Maybe if the parole board runs out of places to send them they'll either stop releasing them so easily and/or give them harsher sentences.  In the meantime I have my pointy stick and two guard dogs.

Phew, I need more pictures of puppies after all that.

Ruby can finally fit underneath

Though Tess is certain she can still fit under Ruby

Phew, next time updates on Tess' progress.  And Ruby started agility class!