Friday, May 30, 2008

Caring for an Aging Princess

Well, I knew I'd have to deal with it sooner or later, but I wish it could be later, like in about 20 years. We got some bad news about Golly this week - she has heart disease. Her enlarged heart makes it very important that everything in Golly's life stay stress-free. Thinking about it, though, that's pretty much Golly's life now, and has been for the last 12 years since she came to live with us! Seriously, though, we'll be keeping a much closer eye on Golly, and indulge her whenever we can. But don't tell her that, because she'd expect more treats!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Put up or shut up time

Well, I've finally gone and done it. I've entered Dax in our first actual Obedience Trial. We've been training for it for a long time and last week, in class, I got my first clue that she's more than a touch bored with things as they are.
The jumps were out for the people in Open and Utility to practise. So we took a turn at the Broad Jump. Dax, never having been taught the exercise, stayed when told, sailed over the jump, and came back to me for a perfect front and finish. Which is pretty much the entire exercise. And she had the biggest smile on her face I've seen in training for quite a while.
So, on June 15, we'll be competing at the North Shore Dog Training Club's 68th Annual Obedience Trial. Which is only fitting, since I'm sort of the president of the club. Which means that many, many of my dog friends will be there to congratulate us on our triumph, or console us on our defeat. And tease us unmercifully, no matter which way it turns out. Wish us luck!
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Friday, May 23, 2008

Planting? In this Freezing Weather?

It's Memorial Day weekend! It's been in the 40s every morning for the last two weeks! Unless it's been in the 30s. What is this? I always like to plant a couple of containers with pansies they're so cheerful, but it's just been too cold to even think about doing anything in the garden. But Wednesday I decided to bite the bullet and get my hands cold and dirty. So I did a couple of errands and swung by the nursery on the way home. It was closed! A neighborhood fixture for as long as I can remember - it was closed! With just a big sign on the door inviting customers to visit their other location (about 50 miles away). Another sign of our slumping economy. I did go to the supermarket where they had some sad-looking pansies on special because it's so late in the season. I bought a couple of plants and potted them up. They're looking better today. Hopefully it'll warm up -

Have a good weekend, everyone!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do as I say, not as I do

I really believe that the universe is arranged to highlight life's little ironies.
I'm one of the "experts" on the "Ask the French Bulldog Experts" site. Theoretically, my specialty is training.
So, naturally, my French Bulldog Dax, at four years old, has developed some not-very-charming behaviors lately.
I'm tempted to call it separation anxiety, but I don't really think that's the situation. Whenever I get ready to leave the house, rather than dash happily into her crate like the other dogs, Dax runs in the opposite direction, bounces up and down and barks at me. She's too savvy to come for a treat, so I've resorted to getting her leash and collar, telling her "let's go kennel" and leading her into her crate.
It's absolutely adorable and quite maddening.
The situation is probably of my own making. We're getting ready to compete, so I have been taking her out and about more than usual. So she wants to come along every single time. Which the grocery store truly wouldn't appreciate. Try explaining that to a bulldog.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

There's a limit!

I may have mentioned that Ceilidh has the canine equivalent of ADHD with a compulsion disorder. This is her permanent state. If she's not actively playing with a toy, she wants us to play with her, with a toy. The vinyl bone has actually fallen out of favor. Ceilidh's current favorite is Cuz. And she like to play tug with it. The only good thing is that she'll hold the ball part and let me have the little feet. Cuz is very hard to hold. And Ceilidh is very insistent.

So last night after ten minutes of losing my grip and subsequently having to fish Cuz out from under the couch, the table, the chair and then risking my fingers, I'd had enough. We went back to a puppy exercise that I'd forgotten about.

"Sit and Accept Praise." What a wonderful activity. It consisted of my holding Ceilidh next to me on the couch while we watched the news (if I didn't hold Ceilidh she'd be off like a shot, wanting to play, tug, fetch, tug, fetch, tug....) and I told her what a good girl she was. We'll do it again today.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go play!

Yesterday evening I led the drop-in training session for our obedience club. As everybody was heeling around, looking extremely terrific and ready for competition, it occurred to me that not enough people have enough fun with their dogs.
There are so many events that people can play in with their dogs: obedience, rally obedience, tracking, herding, water tests, agility, flyball, disc dog, dock dog. There's really something for everybody!
The real shame is that people think that the movie "Best in Show" is an accurate depiction of the sub-culture of dogs we're part of. It's not - not even close. I'm not denigrating conformation - which is the "beauty pageant" part of the dog world. It's just not my world in dogs. I enjoy the training part - becoming a team with my dog. Even the competition part is secondary for me. I just love working with my dog and seeing the light bulb turn on when she figures out what I'm asking her to do. And we're both so proud of her when she (and I) get it right! It's fun.
I'm not saying that everybody needs to spend all their free time doing dog stuff. But I think that getting involved is good for everybody. It's particularly wonderful to see kids involved in dog training.
So, some weekend soon, go check out a dog event in your community (leave your dog at home). You may discover that Agility looks like the most fun you can have vertically. Obedience may be your "thing." Discover new ways to have fun with your dog!
Check out the American Kennel Club events here:
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Silly wabbit - can't read the sign!

We've had an interesting week around here, dog-wise. Dax has become quite the "mighty hunter" - I've had to pick bunny fur out of her teeth once and nearly once again. Wouldn't you think the silly wabbit would figure out that ours is not the safest yard in the neighborhood to be munching grass? Then again - it may be the only one without chemicals, so bunny might be right after all!
Dax and I went to an Obedience fun match on Wednesday night. (Thank you for driving, Betsy!) and I was soooo happy - she did the Stand for Exam perfectly - first try! Her heeling was rather awful, but I can't blame her, much, since we've been concentrating on the other exercises lately.
I had a bit of a mess yesterday trying to get my repaired car back - the body shop called and said it was ready, so I turned in my rental. Turns out - not so much. They mixed me up with another customer who had a similar name and vehicle. There's a couple hours of my life I'll never get back.
Oddly, though, it didn't really bother me. I've been strangely serene about the whole smashed car thing. Didn't lose my temper once - not when my car got smashed, not when I had to wait 45 minutes to be picked up by the rental car place, not when the body shop wasted my afternoon yesterday. Maybe I'll wake up in fury now that it's over, but I doubt it. I guess I truly meant it when I told the police officer "it's just a car."
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Can't keep her eyes open

Yesterday afternoon Dax really, really wanted to watch the Cubs game on tv, but just couldn't stay awake. Poor baby - we make her work so hard. Don't you just love the tummy?
It's a mother's perogative to embarass her children - especially on their birthdays.
Happy 4th Birthday, Dax!
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Friday, May 02, 2008

Maple Flowers are Delicious!

It's spring and the trees are popping! This is a picture of flowers from a Sugar Maple tree. The trees bud, then they flower, then the leaves come out. The flowers have been falling for a few days, and they're Roc's new favorite food. They must be delicious, because Roc ignores my calls to "Come home!" for a Maple Bacon Best Buddy Bit treat - usually his favorite! Golly wonders what the fuss is about. Dax is slowly converting to Roc's way of thinking, which is too bad, because they'll be gone in another few days.