Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Roxy!

Truth is, we don't know Roxy's real birthdate. We arbitrarily picked today. She joined our family in February of 2007 and she was about two at the time. February 25th is Son #2's birthday, and we thought it would be great if she could share the date with her favorite person in the world.

Do you celebrate your pets' birthdays? What special things do you do? Yesterday the dogs had a spa day (more for me than them) and a car ride. Today they got burgers for lunch. Yum!

I've spent the morning looking at pictures, wondering when Roxy become an old lady. She's so gray! She's losing muscle tone in her right, rear leg. The vet said it could be from the snake bite when she was a puppy and/or because she's "a dog of a certain age." Roxy can't go for long walks anymore, and it just breaks my heart when I have to leave her at home. We still try to take her on regular car rides and trips to Sonic. She still has her moments, but playtime has lessened and naptime has increased. She seems happy. I think her mortality bothers me more than it does her. Still . . .

Enough with the melancholy. I'm going to log off and find a furry belly to rub. TTFN, -- K

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cool Rally Move

I LOVE my Tuesday night training group. I find myself looking forward to it every week. The people, the camaraderie, spending time with my dog -- let me tell you, dog training is a great stress reliever. My cardiologist should be happy.

Anyway, this week we learned a cool rally move called the left about turn. The official rally sign (to the right) is confusing -- even trying to explain it is confusing! -- but it's absolutely beautiful to see in action. The turn goes something like this:
  • Dog and handler move forward with dog in the heel position (left side).
  • Handler turns left 180 degrees, actually turning into the dog.
  • Dog wraps around back side handler.
  • Dog and owner move forward with the dog in the heel position (left side).
It looks like this:

I can't figure out how to do videos, so you'll just have to watch this non-shepherd for now. As you can see, the move can be a little tricky when done on leash. The handler must switch the leash from hand to hand and around the back without getting tied up. Not easy for an uncoordinated person like me, but not impossible either. We've been practicing and it has quickly become my favorite rally turn so far. Go ahead and try it with your dog. -- K

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dog Park Drama

One of my duties as animal control officer is to patrol the dog park daily. Ours is a paid membership park and my presence deters non-members from hopping the fence. It makes the paying members feel better. I don't mind, I enjoy watching the dogs play. Sometimes I answer questions. More often than not, I just sit in an inconspicuous corner and observe. I've seen some pretty weird stuff at the dog park. I often want to ask patrons "What the hell are you thinking?" but I can't because it's not PC. Instead, I'm going to share my thoughts with you here -- where I can be as UNpolitically correct as I want.

Our dog park is probably about the size of a football field with a huge pond in the middle. The other day I watched a couple with a West Highland terrier try to leave the park for 45 minutes. Every time they would get near the dog it would run off. They tried coaxing it to the small dog area and then into the smaller, double gated entrance. The dog was too fast (or smart) for them and would escape every time. The only reason they're not still there is because the dog got bored and decided it was time to go home. I saw the whole thing. I didn't laugh (well, not out loud), but I didn't help them either. Nor did I ask them "Why the hell would you bring a dog to an off-leash park if you don't have a good recall?" Seriously people, the dog park is not a substitute for obedience training.

Everyone must sign a copy of the dog park rules when registering. In case people forget (or never read them in the first place) the rules are plainly displayed on a four foot square sign at the entrance. Two of the rules are "no food in the park" and "no children under 10." Last week I saw a preschooler running around the park with a bag of crackers, closely followed by four large, drooling dogs. A parent was nowhere in sight. Surprisingly, I didn't get a bite call -- this time. I wish I had been able to speak to the parent though. I would have asked "With all the kid-centric parks in the City, why the hell would you bring your kid here?" The dog park is not a substitute for spending quality time with your kids.

One of the crazier dog park patrons was the woman who brought both her labs to the park but only took one inside. The other was left in the car. The dog would bark and the owner would yell, but the dog stayed put. 10 minutes went by before the dog finally jumped out the window. This made the owner mad, so she came out of the park, yelled some more, put the dog back in the car and rolled up the windows! I stepped out of the truck when she tried to go back into the park. She said that the dog in the car had been acting up so he "was being punished." He had to sit in the car and watch his brother play. (Seriously! I'm not making this up!) When I tried to tell her "Ma'am you can't leave your dog in a hot car" she reminded me I was "just a stupid dog catcher" and not a dog trainer. (And this is why I can't have a Taser -- I would soooo use it.) I smiled and told her that actually I was an animal control officer and if she didn't remove her from the car immediately I would give her a $505 citation for animal cruelty. She packed up both dogs and drove off. From the stream of obscenities she threw my way, I can tell you that the dog park isn't a substitute for charm school either.

There are so many stories still left to write. I'm hesitant to share some of the weirder ones. I ask myself "Who is going to believe that?!" I promise they're true, I just change some of the identifying details to protect the innocent my ass. Sometimes I complain about my job, but for the most part it's not bad. Where else can you get paid to sit in a dog park and watch drama unfold? -- K

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Silly (And Sleepless) Sunday

This time of year things get really busy. The holidays are over and the weather is mild, making it perfect for all kinds of dog-friendly activities. We've got dog shows, nose work trials, barn hunts, obedience classes, friendly get-togethers and more. My social calendar is full. So when Hubby and I find a morning to sleep in we relish it. Unfortunately, Jedi doesn't understand lazy mornings. The dog above isn't Jedi, but that's the same look I get when I try to get an extra hour of sleep.

It's Silly Sunday. A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click below to see what others have to share today. -- Kelley

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Starmark Looper

One of the frustrating things about trialing in different dog sports (we do conformation, nose work and barn hunt) is the travel. We spend a lot of time in hotels. I try to make it fun for Jedi with new and interesting toys. Our latest find is the Treat Dispensing Looper from Starmark. (This company also made the Everlasting Bento Ball, reviewed here.)

I liked that the ring was easy to pack, and wouldn't loudly clunk on the floor and furniture as he played with it. I don't want to disturb the people in neighboring rooms. It's not easy finding a hotel that accepts large dogs, I don't want to ruin our welcome!

This is a hollow rubbery ring, about the size of a large bagel. There are two openings on one side, and one on the other. The nubs and ridges on the outside are supposed to provide interesting textures for the dog. It's intended to be filled with kibble and treats that will fall out intermittently as the dog plays with the ring. The package says it "Provides hours of mental stimulation and physical activity." Well, Jedi can't read and was disinterested in the toy after about ten minutes.

I had to trim the holes to allow even the smallest of my training treats to fall out. (The holes are way to small for Jedi's regular kibble to go through.) He flipped the ring across the floor with his nose a few times, carried it in his mouth for a minute or two and then left it on the floor for the rest of the weekend. This was not a hit with Jedi. I guess we're sticking with the Kong Wobbler for now.

Does your dog have a favorite quiet toy? Inquiring dogs want to know! -- Kelley

Friday, February 17, 2017

Training Epiphany

Confession time: I'm an All or Nothing kind of girl. If I can't do something perfectly or all at once then I often just don't do it. Because of this, I've ditched countless diets and exercise programs after a bad cheat day or a few missed workouts. In school I got As or Fs, never Cs. I refuse to play Pokémon because "You gotta catch 'em all" -- and that's too much pressure.

Yeah, it's stupid when you say it aloud, but the struggle is real. This unreasonable perfectionism affects my dog training as well. I continually put off training because I don't have a solid block of time or something else isn't perfect. Yes, stupid. (Did I mention the negative self talk that goes along with this? Seriously, I've got issues!)

When I saw this article from Victoria Stillwell a couple things she said hit me hard. For example #6 says "Train little and often." And then there's #9 that says to "Quit while you’re ahead and the dog wants more." What?! I was so surprised by the article that I shared it with my Tuesday Training Crew. Then my trainer shared her Rule of Five:
Training sessions are no more than five minutes or five repetitions long, a maximum of five times a day.
So, I've stashed bags of training treats all over the house. When I think of it, I'll grab a small handful of treats and ask Jedi to do something sit in heel position, come to front position, puppy push-ups, whatever. When I run out of treats . . . I stop. Seriously. Just. Like. That. In a happy voice I tell Jedi "All done" give him some love and move on with my day.

Here's the kicker: I've been doing this for few weeks and Jedi is doing great. His fronts are close; his sits in heel position are straight. He's enthusiastic. I love it. His progress encourages me to train more, which improves progress. It's a win/win for everybody. Even Hubby, who has seen so many of my unfinished projects over the past 30 years -- is shocked by our progress.

I need to cut this short and head to Petsmart. We're running low on treats. The only negative aspect of our training epiphany is that we go through a lot of treats. BTW, Jedi's not complaining! Later, --K

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So God Made a Dog



Lots of Words
(They will make you cry.)

It's Wordless Wednesday. Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K