Saturday, September 30, 2006

Resisting the Puppy Force

A while ago our friend, who breeds Brussels Griffons and who bred both Golly and Roc, sent us this picture and told us this little teddy bear of a guy was available.
Believe it or not, I just kept the picture and didn't go dashing off to pick him up. Although I wanted to, badly.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Surpassing expectations

This is Ceilidh (Kay lee). She is a five-year-old Boston Terrier with ADHD. She has two speeds, full and off. When she's awake she wants to play. You cannot pet her, you cannot catch her, she cannot sit still. When she's asleep, she's completely out of it and you can cuddle her to your heart's content.

We've mentioned all this before, but I got a new lesson in the care and feeding of Ceilidh this week. For reasons too dull to enumerate, Fran and I switched days off this week. The complication was that Wednesday, Fran's usual day off, is Ceilidh's bath day. She has a medical quirk that requires weekly bathing with a special shampoo or all her hair falls out. No real health effects, but we really don't want a Boston Hairless running around the house.

When you have a dog with ADHD, schedules and routines keep her sane. She knows what to expect and how to behave when it happens. So, since Wednesday is Ceilidh's bath day, and I was off this Wednesday, I got to bathe her for the first time ever.

I was amazed. She's such a good girl! She stood steady in the tub while being rinsed, lathered and petted (the medication has to stay on her for 10 minutes). She was a trooper through the whole process, despite the change in the cast of characters. Her reward, as usual, was a vigorous game of fetch with her latex soccer ball, the true love of her life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Golly's Big Day

Every year our dog training club has a picnic at a great facility that's wide open and completely fenced so we can bring the dogs without fear. This year we brought Golly, since we knew she probably wouldn't go running in the mud (after a few days of rain there was lots of mud!) It was a gorgeous afternoon with lots of sunshine and cool temperatures. Golly had a great time.

This is her favorite vantage point, though - on my lap!

So, I end up giving her the chair so I can move around more freely.

Until I have to take notes (I'm the Recording Secretary of the club)!

Friday, September 22, 2006

There is hope yet

A couple of weeks ago I was despairing of ever getting Ceilidh to pay attention to me in Agility Class, if you recall. Well, I don't know if it was a breakthrough night or just a very good one, but last night gave me real hope for our future in the sport! It was a relatively small class, which probably helped Ceilidh focus more. And last week I really yelled at the little squirt for "hoovering" - you've all experienced it, I'm sure - sniffing every spot on the floor in the hope of picking up a stray hot dog piece. (This is not outside the realm of possibility, because people have actually dropped hot dog pieces and not picked them up!) I only yelled after having told her to "leave it... leave it... leave it." Since then, the hoovering has tapered off somewhat and Ceilidh looks at me when I talk to her. This is greatly rewarded by a jackpot of many small pieces of beef (Zuke's Z-Filets - great stuff!) and plenty of praise!

Ceilidh's attention was still on me last night! To keep her busy while we waited for our turn I went off to an empty area and practiced some heeling and other basic obedience drills. Or, when they weren't being used, we worked on the weave poles. Then, when our turn came the little girl was raring to go! She actually listened to me during our runs and it really looked like she was having a good time! The courses weren't very long or complicated, but that didn't matter. Ceilidh's focus was on me!

I guess I'll sign up for the next session of classes after all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Look out - that box makes noise!

Tuesday evening, every Tuesday, is obedience class. Now that it's a bit cooler (our training hall isn't blessed with air conditioning) I take both Roc and Dax. Roc and I are in Open class from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30, then Dax and I train in Novice class from 8:30 to 9:30.

I take a collapsible crate for the dog I'm not working with. The dog is out of the way, fully visible, but unable to cause trouble.

Except that Roc thinks he's the King of the Universe and any dog that gets in his personal space is going to hear about it! We were working on Recalls, lined up, taking turns. Buddy, the year-old yellow Lab wanted to check out the crate, so he ambled over to give it a sniff. Roc told him to "back off" in no uncertain terms! Then Fernando, the year-old Spanish Water Dog, had to check out the strange object making so much noise. He heard a lot more noise.

Apparently, Roc isn't going to put up with any random sniffing by whippersnapper puppies! On the other hand, I'm not going to put up with any hint of dog aggression from that pipsqueak! After Roc gave me a nice "down" in his crate I brought him out to meet the other pups. Everybody decided to be friends, after all.

Buddy and Fernando are still a bit suspicious of that crate.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What's cuter than a puppy patootie?

It's strange, I know, but I have a puppy butt obsession. It started when we got Dax, our French Bulldog. There's just something adorable about watching her walk away!

The other day I was following her down the stairs to the basement and was remembering what a long, slow process it was to teach the dogs to go down the stairs. Of course, if you're a three-pound puppy, a staircase must look like Everest!

Up the stairs was never a problem. As soon as any of our pups could put their front paws on a higher step, they could scramble up the entire flight.

Down was a much bigger issue. And, just like life, we started at the bottom, one stair at a time with praise, treats and celebrations. They were so cute back then - canine toddlers just learning the rules.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Last Nice Day of Summer?

I wish we could bottle this weather. It's about 79 degrees, the sun is shining after days and days of rain. The trees are still green, the grass is still green (with all the rain no one needs to water!), and there's a little bit of a breeze.

If there was anything decent outside my window, I'd take a picture of it and post it! But the State Highway Department has decided that every state road should be torn up before winter, and there's dust flying from the (now) dirt road and the hazard sawhorses outside my window are not exactly beautiful to look at. So just form an image in your mind.

On days like today, take your dog for a walk! Put the
collar and leash on, or the harness on your dog and go for a walk!

This is a pug friend named Wrigley. She's set for her walk!

And this is my Ceilidh, ready to go!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Close your eyes. Picture a beautiful green ribbon....

I'm not sure if I believe in Positive Imaging. In fact, I pretty much think it's a bunch of baloney. Last week I was composing blog entries in my head, announcing to the world that Roc and I finally had our first legs toward our Open obedience title after two trials this past weekend.

Maybe it should have been Roc doing the imaging. Saturday we did great through the individual exercises. Not perfect, but well into qualifying range. Then he did something he hasn't done in years - he must have been really, really tired. He decided to lie down in the middle of the long sit. Instant disqualification.

But, there was certainly a lot to be happy about - he worked happily in the ring, he heeled beautifully and we did have a lot of fun.

So, I was very optimistic on the drive to the trial on Sunday. Despite the 50-degree weather and drizzling rain. It was going to be a great day.

Roc did his group exercises like a champ. Sat for three minutes, downed for five minutes, with me totally out of sight. Unfortunately, he's already disqualified for the day. He did everything happily and well until the Broad Jump. He ran up to it and stopped dead. Like he'd never seen one before.

Maybe I'll give up on the imaging and spend the time training. May not help. Couldn't hurt.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Golly, the Bed Hog

I sleep with my dog and I like it. Come on, now, admit it, you do too. There's nothing more comforting than having a warm little body snuggling up against you. Well, except for the snores. She doesn't do it often when she sleeps at night, but Golly does snore. She usually does it when she naps during the day - then she'll really saw wood! But, even Golly's snores are cute.

What's not cute, though, is the way she hogs the bed. Yes, Golly is a little dog, about twelve pounds, but she can find the exact geometric center of the bed and there's nowhere else that she will stay. And with a twin bed there's not a lot of real estate left! I'll try moving her to the edge by my feet, or by my side, or even at the foot of the bed, but she'll complain with little noises and start kicking her back paws. So I'll relent and give her back the center. She has me well trained.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Simply irresistible

We've mentioned a few times (okay, ad infinitum) that Ceilidh is a perpetual motion machine. Well, we finally managed to tucker her out. And we took pictures to prove it happened, at least once, in her lifetime.
She doesn't look thrilled about it though - does she?
So she hides her little face.
But we're still there torturing her.
I really like this picture - it demonstrates the principles of gravity. We say that Ceilidh needs "flew glue" when this happens.

Friday, September 01, 2006


An inevitable part of any training is backsliding. We work so hard, reach a high level of achievement, and the next training session everything falls apart. It's normal, it happens all the time and to everyone, yet it's still supremely frustrating.

In my ongoing saga of Ceilidh's agility training, I'm at the frustrating stage. We approach a course and I think I'm cool, calm and collected. I know what I need to do, where I need to be, where I have to tell Ceilidh to go and she looks at me like she's never seen the equipment before. And then she starts to investigate every spek of invisible dust on the floor. I know it's her stress and uncertainty manifesting itself, but it's still frustrating.

I just have to tell myself it's normal, natural, everyone goes through it and we'll get past this stage. Right?