Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ending the Year on a Good Note

Thursday evening was the last Agility class of the year - not surprising since it's the last week of the year, but let's not be picky. I think Dax is starting to get comfortable in the room with all the equipment. Her contacts are coming along, and any fault is, naturally, mine. She's really low to the ground and the place for a treat reward a good contact is between her face and the target. Well, she likes to put her chin on the target which makes it a little difficult! But, we will persevere. We started to learn weaves on Thursday. Perhaps Dax has been watching Ceilidh when we practice weaving at home, because she was a star! We start out with just two poles and reward for any behavior going toward the poles. Dax didn't just go toward the poles, she went through them! What a good girl.

Ceilidh had an amazing night as well! I'm starting to be able to switch speeds while I'm washing my hands between classes. Ceilidh requires a much different approach than Dax. Ceilidh needs a little bit of calming down without shutting her down while Dax needs her own cheering section! Both girls are very sensitive to my moods, so I have to remember to always smile. Silly, but it works.

Party next week!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Picky, picky, picky

Yesterday our friend Sam came into the shop with his daughters Rachael and Jenna and his miniature dachshund Charlie.

We've known Sam for many, many years and love him like a brother. And like many little brothers, he doesn't listen to us. If he had, he never would have gotten Charlie. And we would have been wrong. Charlie's perfect for Sam's family.

I've never, ever met a more opinionated dog than Charlie. They brought him in to get a new harness. Knowing Sam, I knew that his first choice would be the basic black Step-In Harness. Charlie didn't like it. And, in all honesty, it wasn't the best fit for a chubby little dachshund. So I went to the Plaid Step-In Harness. It fit great, but Charlie hated it.

Onward. Next I tried the Freedom Harness. Not quite right for Charlie. Next I pulled out the Soft Harness. That was it. Charlie loved it - he stopped trying to scratch, roll over or otherwise rid himself of the thing.

The funniest part was that Charlie lets Rachael and Jenna (his human sisters) do anything to him! Jenna wanted Charlie to have a Jingle Collar for the holidays. So this little dog, who was struggling when Sam and I were trying to fit him with harnesses, stood like a rock when Jenna pulls this noisy, elastic thing over his head, tag still attached. What a good boy!

Sam was also looking for a new bed for Charlie. He (Charlie, not Sam) reminded me of Goldilocks! Too hard. Too soft. Ohhhhhhhhh, this one was just right! He rejected the Flipo Bed, the Donut Bed, the Memory Foam Bed and decided, rather obviously, on the Reversible Bed.

I think Charlie must take after someone else in the family. Sam's always been a pretty easy-going guy!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

After a Hard Day

The dogs love to help Hope vacuum the house. Hope doesn't exactly love it, but she puts her earplugs in, headphones on, and blasts her Ipod. This blocks out most of the vacuum and barking noise. I'm not sure if Hope has written about how much the kids love to help her vacuum - so much that she's had to replace the hoses!

Anyway, after so much vigorous activity Hope has some very tired dogs on her hands! That's Dax (French Bulldog) by herself. Roc and Golly (Brussels Griffons) are together in Roc's box - Golly was so pooped she didn't want to wait for her cushion cover and towel to come out of the dryer!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Golly holds a grudge

Golly holds a grudge longer than anyone else (any species) I know. Yesterday she had to go into the vet for a starving blood test, so there was no breakfast for Golly! Her siblings got breakfast. Her sibs got treats. Golly got pats and hugs. The expression on her face was like, "What's up with that? I don't want hugs! Gimme food!!" No dice, kiddo. No matter how cute you look, I'm not giving in!

And Golly can look plenty cute. Many have succombed to those big brown eyes. But, it was for her own good. So, no food for Golly. I left Hope to take her in for the test and went to work. When I got home it was all I could do to get Golly to look at me. It took some extra-special treats and individual attention until I was back in Golly's good graces!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beauty is in the eye......

Our Dog Training Club's holiday party was Saturday night. Needless to say, there was a lot of discussion of topics that polite (read non-dog) people don't talk about in public, but it was a dog group, so everybody chimed in.

It's the only time in the year that the members of the North Shore Dog Training Club meet without our dogs, so we actually can completely concentrate on what other people are saying. Whenever you're responsible for a dog (or a child, for that matter), your attention is divided; half on the person you're talking to, the other half on the trouble your dependent is getting into.

Anyway, spouses and significant others are welcome at the party, so we see the non-dog-training halves. One of the highlights of the party is when we distribute the club calendar, featuring pictures of all of our dogs.

So Paul, Colleen's fiance, turns to March, which has pictures of my absolutely gorgeous dogs on it. Our calendar editor wanted my dogs pictured all panting, so they are. And he points at Dax, my incredibly gorgeous French Bulldog and exclaims "What an ugly dog!"

I didn't hear it, but the reports have been flowing in. What makes it particularly funny is that Colleen absolutely adores Dax and has been threatening to kidnap her since the day I got her. Paul is truly contrite, so we're allowing the relationship to continue. On a probational basis.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That's a wrap for 2006

Last night was the last training class for this year - I won't know what to do with myself on Tuesday evening for the next two weeks. A fundamental truth of my life for the last 10 years - if it's Tuesday, it must be dog training!

And the sessions last night were truly enlightening. We did run-throughs, simulating trial conditions; Roc in Open and Dax in Novice.

And Roc reacted just like at a trial. He was nervous, despite knowing both the place and the people! And he weirded out a bit - he's been missing the broad jump the last two trials and in class, so we've been working on that. His broad jump was perfect. But he completely ignored me when I told him to "down" on the recall. Funny little dude. It's always something different.

Dax did much, much better than expected. I haven't really been practicing with her much - I'm a lazy sod at heart. But we have been teaching her to target, using a foam plate. She touches it with her nose and is rewarded with a cookie. While the other dogs were having their turns in the ring, I played with her target. At first she acted like she'd never seen it before - first time in this venue, I guess. Then she caught on - you could almost see the light bulb turn on - "Oh! I know this game! I get COOKIES!" And we were off and chasing that target, bobbing for cookies.

I held it in my left hand, in front of her, and did a bit of heeling. Worked like a charm. But trying to walk and hold something in front of a French Bulldog's face will give you very funny posture!

When it was our turn in the ring - I was very proud of her! She heeled very nicely off leash, proving me totally wrong, since I hadn't wanted to take her leash off at all! They will make liars of us every time!

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's Freezing Out There!

Here in the Chicago area in the last week we've had a temperature drop of about 40 degrees (F), eight inches of snow and winds to drop the wind chill well below zero. It's not fun for us, but the dogs REALLY don't like it!

We have little dogs, so the snow was over their heads before we tried to clear a path for them. I say "tried" because they're not patient and bounded ahead of me as I plodded through the drifts making a path for them in the back yard. It was a struggle to persuade them that they really had to do their business before they were let back in the house. The looks on their faces said, "Naw, I don't have to go that bad!" I said, "Yes, you do - now get to it!"

And, of course, before anyone goes outside, everyone needed their coat! Ceilidh likes her new coat. (This picture was taken, obviously, before the snow!) Unfortunately she's the only one who likes wearing clothes of any sort. Dax (French Bulldog) hates it and tries to run away before we can put her coat on her. And, once she's outside she'll brush herself against anything to try to get the coat off! Roc (Brussels Griffon) will tolerate the coat, but not if the neck is fastened! Golly (Brussels Griffon and alpha princess) doesn't really care one way or another!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dax is an Agility Girl!

Hope decided that Dax (her French Bulldog) would benefit from taking an Agility course. She expects that it will boost her self-confidence and hopes that it will improve her fitness. The only issue with Dax taking Agility is that Hope doesn't like to do Agility, so I'm elected to take her. I don't mind, but my concern was whether she would pay attention to me. No problem there - I pulled out here favorite treat that she only gets for training, and as you can see her attention was right on me!

Last night was Dax's very first class, so she didn't get to use much equipment, but we did some jumping exercises and listened to our instructor for some very important tips.
Next time we'll have less lecturing and more equipment! I think Dax is looking forward to it!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Roc's Rules of Obedience

For the Down on Recall:

  1. If you want him to sit straight - call him saying "front," not "come." If you say "come" he will, but his sit will be off to your right.
  2. If you want him to actually get up and come when called, do not leave him by saying "stay." Do not close your hand when you leave. Say "wait" and wave your hand in front of his face with the fingers separated.
  3. If you want him to down - don't say his name with the command. If you do, he will ignore you entirely.
  4. If you want him to wait for an actual command before he goes around you to heel, do not, under any circumstance, move a single finger - not even a twitch before giving the command. Don't even breathe too deeply.

For the Long, Out-Of-Sight Sits and Downs:

  1. Get his attention.
  2. Say "Sit" or "Down" firmly.
  3. Say "Stay" and wave your hand, fingers clenched tightly together, in front of his face.
  4. Stand up.
  5. Fold your arms firmly across your chest.
  6. Walk away.
  7. When you come back, be sure your arms are firmly folded across your chest, even if it's three or five minutes later - he remembers how you looked when you left. If anything is different - it's bad.

That's just two of the exercises. And I have to remember all of this, in sequence, in the lightening-fast total of eight minutes we're in the ring at an obedience trial. No wonder he doesn't qualify - I can't remember his rules!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

His very own lazy boy

Roc got a new bed. It's perfect for watching tv.
Roc may never move again. Except to get chips.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Popping up all over

The Thanksgiving weekend is when holiday decorations sprout all over our neighborhood. All of a sudden, the yards that were looking rather brown and desolate; leaves gone, grass brown, lawn furniture disappeared for the winter, are full of new and exciting things.

On our walk this morning Dax, who was rather astonished by the statues we saw last week, was completely flabbergasted by the kazillions of tiny, fake people, accompanied by small fake animals, that have magically appeared.

Just try explaining a Nativity scene to a French Bulldog.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday Blues

For the first time in a lot of years I ventured to the mall this morning, the day after Thanksgiving. I saw in one of the many advertising circulars included in the newspaper yesterday that the portable GPS unit that I'm interested in was hugely discounted at one of the huge "big box" stores nearby.

I'm incredibly directionally challenged - my sister always tells the story of one trip I took to the Florida Keys. There's one major road, Highway 1, going through the Keys and I manage to turn the wrong way. Not once, but multiple times. Hence the need for a portable GPS unit!

Anyway, I got to the store a little after 8:00 this morning. I didn't think that was too bad, even though it opened at 6. Apparently a lot of other people are directionally challenged too! The unit I wanted was long gone! Not that the store was deserted by any means. The parking lot was almost full - any space to be had was by luck or walking a long distance. People were finding lots of other things to buy, besides the GPS unit, because the line to check out wound almost all the way around the store! There were so many people looking at products in the store that it was practically impossible to walk.

I fought my way out of the store, on to the next destination. A craft store in the same mall. The crowd there wasn't quite as bad, but at 8:30 in the morning it was still densely populated! I met my sister there (on her day off) and we decided on the purchases to make. Hope was nice enough to stand in line there so that I could go to the hardware store before I went to work.

Even the hardware store was a popular destination for holiday shoppers this morning! I just needed some light bulbs and a timer, so was able to maneuver around there pretty quickly.

Whew! All this craziness before work! I need to hug my dogs! That always puts things in perspective.

Oh, Hope offered to go to another of the "big box" stores to see if they had the GPS. And they did! And she got it for me!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Spoiled rotten - and loving it!

There seems to be some discussion these days about whether pets are over-indulged. They may be. But what's the harm?

Years ago, when we had our bookstore and its resident cat, there were a couple of customers, one new and one a long-time friend, in the shop. Merlyn (the cat) was lying on the counter, on his faux-sheepskin rug, being petted by the friend and purring up a storm. The newcomer exclaimed "He's not too spoiled, is he!"

Which sparked an absolutely classic retort from our friend; "Well, why not? It's not like he has to grow up and be a responsible taxpayer!"

And the reason I bring this up? A very defensive post from a reader of the Poodle and Dog Blog. Evelyn has no reason to apologize for indulging her pets. We do. And none of us is the worse for it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dax, the art critic

Today is a very windy day in Chicago. Some people may say - "What do you expect? It's the Windy City." But those of us who live here know that it's not the weather that gave us the title, but hot air blowing from all the political conventions the city hosted in the last century.

Because of the weather and because Dax really, really didn't want to go outside when she woke up today, I was prepared to go it alone on my walk. But she let me know that she wasn't having any part of that! Dax ran to the door and was jumping to reach the knob. So we suited up and set off on our jaunt.

I've been trying to take different routes - it's not like we have any wilderness around here, but one of the objectives has been to get the dogs used to all kinds of situations. We walked along a commercial street with a fair amount of traffic. She was doing great - until she saw a statue outside a building. The statue is of two people sitting on a park bench - almost life-size. Have you heard the expression brought up short? She stopped dead and couldn't figure it out. I let her take it at her own pace; one step forward, sniff, another step, sniff. It took her a couple of minutes to finally walk right up. Then the look on her face was priceless. "Mom, what's with the fake people?"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Which of these is not like the others?

In the evening, while we relax, the dogs nap. Above is Ceilidh, sleeping. Below is Golly, sleeping.

Above is Roc, not sleeping. If I move, Roc's awake. At times, he's a very tiring dog. Below is Dax, sleeping.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sanity is an acquired taste

I've taken up walking as my attempt at fitness. I did this for a few reasons: I hate, hate, hate exercise and it seems a least of evils (at least the scenery changes); and I need to get my dogs, Dax and Roc, used to going out and about. Dax (French Bulldog) is particularly unsure in new situations - so I thought I'd fry her little brain on a semi-daily basis.

So far, so good. Dax loves, loves, loves it! She forgets anything she ever learned about walking nicely on lead when we start out. She dashes off to see what's around the corner, on the next block - what new and exciting things can she discover? Roc does it because I ask him to. He doesn't get it, but he's a good companion.

The ridiculousness of the situation has not, however escaped me. I take up walking in Chicago in November. And for companionship during my road work, I choose a French Bulldog and a Brussels Griffon. To paraphrase some recent campaign ads, (gone and unlamented) What was I thinking?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Golly on the Mean Streets

No, don't worry - Golly's not on her own. But, doesn't she look ready for anything in the Spiked Leather Harness? And isn't the incongruousness (is that a word?) just irresistible? Here's a tiny little dog (Golly weighs about 11 pounds) in pink spiked leather! Spikes and studs on Golly! Gotta love it.

For that matter, that might be why we love it. Don't they say that opposites attract? I like sweet and salty together. Creamy and crunchy. Antiques and contemporary.

Golly demanded equal time with Roc, our frustrated Chicago sports fan. Plus she looks so cute in this picture I had to share!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Plight of the Chicago sports fan

Roc loves sports. We'll be in the middle of a game of fetch and he'll stop dead, toy in his mouth, to watch a play on tv. Unfortunately, we're devout Chicago team fans. We love our Cubs, despite everything (although the jokes from a certain unnamed Cardinals fan are getting old). And we adore our Bears. Roc's very favorite sport is football, although he'll watch anything on tv. We thought that this season we might have something to cheer about, although the last game has tempered our optimism. (Above) This is Roc after the game. (Below) This is Roc getting ready for the game.

This is Roc during the game. Don't even try to distract him. We blame his Grandpa Greg for his fanatical devotion to sports. But we have our revenge. He's a Detroit fan.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Better Than Chicken Soup

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday - nothing major, just not up to doing anything. Somewhere between OK and semi-crappy. So I stayed home and snoozed all day. I guess I felt worse than I thought - I never nap! I started out in bed, then was joined by Golly and Roc (Brussels Griffons) at the foot of the bed. Then Dax (French Bulldog) climbed under the covers with me. Then Ceilidh (Boston Terrier) curled up behind my knees. So snuggly and warm.

That lasted until Roc heard the postal carrier. Almost as much of a nemesis as the UPS man. We all got up to see what holiday catalogs were in the box. (Nothing great yesterday.)

Then we all piled on the couch in the office. That's where the good TV is. I thought I'd leave some mindless daytime shows on while I snoozed. Worked really well, too. I stretched out on my side, Dax curled up in front of me, and Ceilidh behind my legs. The Griffs had enough of such close togetherness. They were in their beds on the floor.

The puppy therapy worked - I'm feeling all better today!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Obedient even through humiliation

Even Obedience dogs get silly for Halloween - this was the crew at last night's training session: (left to right): Roc (Beedog - Brussels Griffon), Dax (Butterfly - French Bulldog), Reggie (Devil - Saluki), Brandy (Devil - Golden Retriever), Emma (Skeleton - Weimeraner), Hannah (Angel - Dachshund), Beau (Angel - Golden Retriever), MacDuff (Superdog - Border Terrier), Robbie (Skunk - Border Terrier)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween made easy

Every once in a while I come up with a great idea and congratulate myself for it ad nauseum and forever. But this one is actually timely and useful - so feel free to coopt it for you own. It really has made our lives much easier.

Halloween is a particularly impossible time with the dogs - the doorbell keeps ringing and the furless kids keep coming to the door and wanting us to give them the candy we've been carefully hoarding for ourselves.

To make life much, much easier - I lock the screen door and take out the top window panel. The door doesn't open, the dogs can see the kids, the kids can see the dogs, the dogs can't get out, the kids can't get in and I can hand out all the candy I really shouldn't have in the house and everybody's happy!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Ever-Eager-to-Please Dogequin

Hope and I have been writing about our real dogs - Golly, of course, and Ceilidh are mine. Roc and Dax are Hope's. But we've neglected to mention one other dog that we could never do without - our Dogequin. He/she resides here at Golly Gear and we depend on him/her to model the new fashions when our real dogs aren't here. Since we went to that big trade show a couple of weeks ago we've been getting in our new merchandise and we've really been putting Dogequin through his/her paces. Why do I keep saying him/her? It depends on the outfit of course!
I think Dogequin is lovely in the
Pink Polka Dot Dress.

But Dogequin loves to watch sports in his Chicago Bears Jersey!

We just have too much fun here!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Know When to Quit

Part of the continuing Ceilidh saga.... Yes, she's the Boston Terrier with the canine equivalent of ADHD who is an Agility fiend. Last night was our Agility class, and Ceilidh did really well for most of the class. She had high energy, had pretty good focus, and her attention was on me.

To rev up the dogs' energy, our instructor always advises the class to play with the dog, tug on their favorite toy, or a special one you pull out just at Agility events, whether it's class, a match or a trial. That usually doesn't work on Ceilidh - she's too focused on the treats! But last night she tugged like only a Boston Terrier can on her beloved Latex Soccer Ball before she ran the courses. And it's a 2 inch diameter ball. I only got a small tooth-scrape last night. I've tried other toys, but nothing else works. A little blood is a small price to pay!

Anyway, last night things were going really well. Even our instructor commented on how well Ceilidh was running! She was jumping the jumps she was supposed to, going through the tunnels the right way, even doing the teeter-totter! Until 15 minutes to the end of class. Poor thing hit her wall. No focus, no attention, lots of sniffing. I should have quit while we were ahead.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

In a Fog

Hope wrote a little bit about the last week at the store. Whew! You know, though, how, when you've had a rough stretch it extends to the rest of your life? Well, that's what happened last night at Agility class. Traffic was a mess as usual and it would have been really easy to just nod off on the highway. And "Sports Central" on the radio was no help, as much as I enjoyed the discussion about our terrific Chicago Bears. I snapped out of it, fortunately, and we made it into the city without incident, and not late, either!

But I could not remember a course if my life depended on it. Which, thank goodness, it didn't! It was, "where do we start?" or "which way do we go after the tunnel?" or "which way are we supposed to go now?" A good thing to remember, as our instructor says many times, is that it's not as important to follow the course as it is that your dog do what you tell it to when training. Even if it's not the printed course, be decisive and upbeat. No wishy washy handling! That will just lose your dog's attention (assuming you had it in the first place!).

A few times last night I made my own course, but my dog was with me!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Would you bail us out?

We're just now recovering from a really exhausting, very strange week. Generally speaking, Fran and I live transparent lives. We're pretty upfront about everything - neither one of us has a good enough memory to be good liars.

So, last week we got a bizarre e-mail from PayPal, saying that if we didn't 'fess up to our current address, kindly members of Homeland Security would be visiting us to bring us into compliance with the Patriot Act. So I logged in to PayPal and tried to follow all the instructions, but it kept telling me I didn't have any unconfirmed addresses to confirm. I called PayPal and found out that our account had, indeed, been flagged for reasons incomprehensible to all, and the nice man at PayPal helped me clear it up because, as he said, "I don't want the 101st Airborne descending on you." Much appreciated, sir! Thank you for the help. I mean that. Really.

Then, we had a three-day trade show to attend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's the biggest show of the year for the pet industry - we go and see all the wonderful new products we can find for Golly Gear. (I had to get a plug in here somewhere.) We canvass the show very methodically, up one aisle and down the next, looking at everything.

We found the booth of a supplier we've been dealing with for more than two years. And we went in to see what was new and exciting. And got attacked. From out of the blue, we're ambushed: "You can't sell our products online. You have three days to take them off. If you do not we will call the FBI."

While we were being flabbergasted, we asked why no one had mentioned this two years ago. And, for that matter, what was wrong with selling their stuff online. The response was equally baffling: "We must protect our products."

From what? Being purchased?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's raining jawbreakers!

Yesterday we had some interesting weather around here - hail the size of ping-pong balls and ferocious thunderstorms. I checked through the evening to see if the rain let up so I could let the dogs out. The first time I checked after it hailed, I found the most fascinating hail stones. I wish I'd thought to take a picture, but I didn't.

Some of the stones had rings - clear, translucent, clear translucent. And they were all over the place. The dogs thought it had snowed - they had no idea what to make of the weird, whitish stuff on the ground.

Thank goodness none of the current pack is afraid of thunder or lightening. Our first dog was terrified of thunderstorms, so I completely sympathize with anyone who has to go through that. This bunch is very nonchalant about storms. They prefer not to go out in the rain, but the thunder doesn't bother them. They look up, see that everything's okay, then go back to sleep.

I'm particularly happy about that because the forecast is for more of the same tonight, despite our blue skies and sunshine of the moment.

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?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Come into my parlor

This morning we got a big surprise. We were all set for a traumatic day, for Fran and for the dogs. Our 25+ year-old furnace and air conditioner are being replaced. Many strange men in and out of the house all day.

We were ready with our plan of sanity - crate the dogs. Kongs and Tanzanian Mountain Balls all prepped with kibble and peanut butter, just waiting for the HVAC truck to pull up.

But the guys were early and the plan fell apart. I was getting dressed - just barely decent and I vaguely heard the door open and people walking around.

Our wonderful little yappers didn't make a peep. Three men tromping around the house, up and down, in and out, and the dogs just wiggle at them and follow them around.

It's a very good thing that the mere presence of dogs is known to be a deterrent to break-ins. If anybody ever tells you that Brussels Griffons, Boston Terriers, or French Bulldogs are decent watchdogs, you have my permission to call him a liar.

Monday, August 28, 2006

But is it barkworthy?

I think I've mentioned that Roc loves tv. Which I only feel slightly guilty about, since he's a dog, not a baby, and I'm very happy, indeed, that I don't have to incur the expenses of a college education for him.

The only problem is that he's really, really loud about liking tv. When something comes on that he's particularly excited about (Any animal, whatsoever. Any animated anything from anywhere. Any sports play. Unusual sounds. And, on occasion, the weather map) he lets us know with ear-piercing barking. He is, indeed, a little yapper.

So we've created a command for him. He's only allowed to make noise if we decide the program is "barkworthy." He barks, we look up and say "not barkworthy." And, believe it or not, it works! If we tell him it doesn't merit his attention, he turns away.

Of course, the down side is that we're excruciatingly fair to the little guy. Some things are, in fact, barkworthy. All animals. Many sports plays. Some animated commercials. But not the weather map. We had to draw the line somewhere.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friends Visiting

I was going through some folders on my computer and noticed that I had downloaded these but hadn't printed them, or mailed them, or even edited them. So I thought you would enjoy seeing them. A friend visited the house a while ago with her two Border Terriers, MacDuff and Robbie.

Here are Dax (our French Bulldog) and Robbie

Golly (Brussels Griffon) and MacDuff, life-long friends - born on the same date!

And, here's Golly - just because it's a cute picture!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nothing Better Than a Sleepy Dog

As you steady GollyLog readers know, I give Ceilidh a medicated bath every week. Not because I want to or that she's dirty, but because she has an immune disorder which makes her vulnerable to skin issues. And because the bath is very stressful for Ceilidh (actually everything is stressful for Ceilidh), after her bath we have a timed play session. 10 minutes, no more, and certainly no less. Her sibs sometimes join in the fun. And after the walk after the play session after the bath, Ceilidh crashes. Yesterday it was literally. She didn't even wake up for lunch. Don't worry, I woke her up for mealtime!

As I watched my lunatic dog sleep, I thought that it just doesn't get any better than that! When Ceilidh is sleepy, she's mush. You can touch her paws, look in her ears, even kiss her spots! All of which is impossible when she's awake. Roc was sleepy yesterday as well - he had training Tuesday evening and was still recovering. When Roc is exceptionally tired, he sleeps with his head tucked under so that he's on his forehead. Too cute.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Little shoes = better heeling

After I saw the light (okay, an anvil dropped on my head) and I realized that Roc was scared of my enormous sneakers tromping on him during heeling, I went out and bought these adorable little shoes.

What makes them particularly perfect, aside from having a nice Velcro strap, is that the tops look like charming little Mary Janes, and the soles are like athletic shoes. No slipping on the mats. The shoes were the hit of training class - one friend even ran out to get a pair for herself. And she doesn't even have little dogs! But she does show her Salukis in conformation, where you have to get more dressed-up than in obedience. And to show Salukis properly, a little-bitty woman like Janie has to hustle around the ring. Not worrying about slippage is a good thing!

Anyway, the true test of the shoes was last night's class. Roc seemed to heel closer to me when I wore the shoes, but I wasn't sure if I was imagining things or not. So last night I didn't wear them. I wore the sneakers. And I got my answer. Roc heeled a mile wide. From now on - it's the little shoes!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Isn't it wonderful when you can get your dogs to play nice together?
Even if she does look manic?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Give a dog a bunny?

Dax has a pet.
Or she thinks she does, anyway.

There's a little rabbit who lives under the shrubbery in our front yard. Naturally, it likes to nibble on the grass in the front yard. And Dax loves to watch it. She runs out our door to the chain-link fence at the front to see if her bunny is there.

Which is all very, very cute. Bunny outside fence, French Bulldog inside fence.

But rabbits aren't exactly the smartest animals on the planet. This silly rabbit sometimes decides that the grass is tastier on Dax's side of the fence. It wanders into our back yard, where it's chased by four dogs in hunting mode. So far, it's faster. Which is a very good thing, because it can't seem to remember how it got into the yard and races back and forth until it finally locates the gate it can squeeze under.

You would think a rabbit could remember that crossing the fence is a bad idea. Or maybe it just needs the exercise.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Do They Think We're Nuts?

Do you ever wonder if your dog thinks we're nuts, observing some of the goofy things we do. I mean, the whole washing in the morning thing. I told you about Golly's bath a while ago, and how much she didn't enjoy the experience. What's she thinking as she watches me wash my teeth, face and hair every day? (Yes, I let the whole crew in the bathroom for this ritual. Roc is less likely to bark when he's cooling off on the tile.)

Or putting clothes on. And different ones every day. Golly and Roc hate wearing clothes - even a sweater or coat in the middle of winter. Ceilidh tolerates it (sometimes). And Dax absolutely loathes her coat. So, here we are putting different clothes on every day. And sometimes multiple layers! We're crazy - at least according to Golly.

And then there's watching TV. We'll have to tell you about Roc and TV, but that's fodder for another day. We're sitting in front of a box in the family room, not moving and watching it. Golly doesn't get it. Ceilidh just naps.

How about exercising? I'm lucky enough (?) to have room in my basement for a pretty good-sized exercise area. And I have to keep motivated with exercise videos otherwise I don't do it. Naturally the dogs have to be with me. I've persuaded them to lie on various dog beds or other pieces of furniture so they aren't kicked. But, what must they be thinking?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On this day in history...

Today is the anniversary of the day that started it all. Our very first dog, Spunky, was born on August 15, 1967. He was six weeks old in this picture. I was nine.

We'd begged our mom for a dog forever. She finally agreed because she didn't want us to come home from school to an empty house. Mom had to work full time - she was a widow at 36 and we had a nasty habit of wanting to eat every single day.

It was a different era. There was no such thing as a "latchkey kid." We were the only kids from a single-parent family - divorce was still scandalous. We didn't have a clue we were different - we had friends, family, and our wonderful Boston Terrier puppy.

I'm rather horrified by all the mistakes we made with this dog. And astonished by how well he turned out. When you know better, you do better. I'm sure our dogs of today are grateful we're highly trainable.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Born to model

Unlike Roc, every time you point a camera at Golly, she's cute. I think she knows she's being immortalized and she has to look her best; cute face, ears forward, flattering angle. She just reeks of princess, doesn't she?
Even when she's hot and wet (which sounds much sexier than it actually was), Golly's photographs come out cute.

Unlike Roc, who just looks silly - ears back, ovesized tongue hanging out the side. And catch the paws facing in opposite directions.

This is why I was so darn pleased with the cute Roc shot. Finally - I got it!