Friday, April 30, 2010

When a Good Toy Goes Bad...

Ceilidh loves her Rope Turtle. She's waiting for me to toss it. Don't see the turtle there? It used to look like a turtle. And that's what happens to rope toys. After a while they bear absolutely no resemblance to the figure they used to be. But Ceilidh still loves it. She loves chasing it. She loves shaking it. She loves chewing on it. Every once in a while some little strings come off. We get to them before Ceilidh or one of her siblings does, and throw them out. And the turtle gets smaller and more raggedy. And Ceilidh stil loves it. - Fran
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Small steps & victories

Last year at this time, I was celebrating. It was right after the Paw Power Blues Agility Trial, where Dax and I earned our first-ever qualifying score. We went to the same trial this year, but no celebration.
Success, with Dax and my agility career, is measured in non-traditional ways. The trial before this one, we were whistled off the course (not a good thing) six out of six runs. This time - only two times out of four! A 50 percent improvement!
I've learned so much working with Dax. She really loves playing agility - she just doesn't understand the game of competition. She just doesn't seem to "get" that we're working together and all distractions (the photographer in the corner, the bar-setter in the chair, the judge in the middle) are to be ignored - not greeted like old friends.
I'm not nearly as nervous now as when I started - and it's practically impossible for her to embarass me in public. Whatever havoc she manages to make of the agility course - I'm not going to let it bother me.
I'm a much better handler than I would have been had Dax been an "easy" dog. I appreciate the tiny victories - we may have made up our own course, rather than running the judge's, but we finished and we had fun.
Of course, driving home for two hours in traffic on Sunday night, I wasn't exactly in this "count your blessings" mood. I have to thank Susan Garrett, whose name agility people know well, for her blog post: There are no ordinary dogs.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Tango update

The progress continues. I took Tango to obedience on Tuesday and he was very good, for the most part. His attention was on me (and the string cheese!) for the first 40 minutes or so. We even went into the training room and watched the puppy / beginner class for a few minutes. Or, rather I sat on a chair near the ring and Tango sat next to me and watched me. And didn't bark! I was thrilled. But then it became too much and everything deteriorated. I should have taken him out to the car when I first said I was going to. Oh well. Live and learn.

Tango still fusses and barks when people and dogs come to the shop and doesn't notice the treats that people throw at his head. Maybe I should cut the hair around his eyes?
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Socialization is hard work

Tango's been home for about 3 1/2 weeks now, and things are settling down at home. Hope can walk right up to Tango, play with him, give him treats, rough him up and he'll go to her when she calls him. Tango can sit next to Roc without a problem. Ceilidh will even walk by him. Dax only fires up when she thinks Tango has a toy or treat he shouldn't. At the shop it's a different story. People come in and Tango yaps. Dogs come in with their people and he goes crazy. I give him extra special treats, with the thought that he'll associate people coming in with yummy treats. Yesterday the FedEx guy even tossed a couple of treats to Tango. He's getting better - no barks at the FedEx guy! Didn't trust the treats, but didn't bark.

And last night we visited Hope's agility class to watch people and dogs coming and going, and playing agility. Tango did very well, keeping his attention mostly on me (and the cheese) until Julie and Goku came in. Mutual yapping. Oh well. Gotta be happy with a little progress. - Fran
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Everything's going to be ok

I've been pretty quiet lately. I'm sort of a Pollyanna type - don't really have much use for complaining and really believe if you don't have anything nice t0 say, don't say anything at all. The big news at our house has been the arrival of my sister Fran's puppy Tango and I didn't have much nice to say about him. Aside from the fact that he's absolutely adorable.
Cute didn't really count for much when he barked every time he saw me, then growled, lunged and snapped. I knew why, of course. When the world is a very, very big place and everything in it is new, the best defense is a good offense. I knew he was frightened, but it wasn't an auspicious beginning.
Fran could do anything with Tango, but at first I couldn't even touch him. The only one of our dogs he liked, and who liked him, was Roc. Evidence that the only dogs he's seen in his 11 months have been other Brussels Griffons.
Now, three weeks in, I'm not as ready to send him back from whence he came. Tango's coming around. I can pet him, walk him, hold him, groom him and play with him without any fuss. Yesterday I even got an unsolicited kiss!
Roc is still the only one of our dogs that will sit next to him, but now even Ceilidh, our "special" girl, will walk by him. Dax is the one with her nose out of joint - she's still not sure she wants "that THING!" in her space. But now she's willing to share a couch with him - even if it's at the other end.
I have some good things to say about Tango now. He's a fast learner, tries to be a good boy, is acclimating to his new life with us, he's learning to "chill," and, if I haven't mentioned it, he's about the cutest dog ever.
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Friday, April 09, 2010

So much to learn!

I have both Tango (on the left above) and Roc at the shop with me today - it's vacuuming day at home and Roc's heart condition requires that he be kept as stress-free as possible. So now he's snoozing quietly in one of the crates here in the office, door open. Tango, on the other hand, is not happy about the situation. He's tried gnawing the outside handle of his crate (from the inside), whining at nothing in particular, and digging at the very comfy orthopedic pad. This despite the fact that it's 10:00, we've been here for only 2 hours, and he's been playing in the ring for 2 sessions and we've had a short training session. Typical puppy. Roc helped with the training session. He showed Tango what a nice "sit" and "down" look like. Tango's getting it, slowly, slowly... Typical puppy. I have to remember what I always tell people about training: patience and consistency will be rewarded! (We use the middle crate in the picture above for Susan Garrett's "Crate Games." The duck tape at the bottom prevents little toes from getting caught in the wire, and the lack of padding makes it easier for the dog to zoom in and out of the crate.) - Fran
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Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday already?

Where did the week go? Tango is improving, although he still barks at indiscernible noises. And this morning he growled at Hope. (Until she gave him some cheese, that is!) But I guess Rome wasn't built in a day, and there's no timetable. As long as he keeps showing improvement we'll keep at it! Training is, after all, a lifelong experience for both of us. We'll take it day by day, one small accomplishment at a time. - Fran
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