Monday, October 31, 2005

Day 102

Sometime during the night last night I woke up to realize I was having my head slowly pushed right out of the bed. NOT. So I just pushed the pillows out of the way and used the very warm body that was causing the problem as my pillow. Interestingly enough, she didn't seem to mind at all. That really is a first for me. I have never had a dog that was willing to act as a pillow for any length of time and there she was, still being a pillow when it was time to get up.

This Monday Sanity started demonstrating how to begin jump training. Somehow I hardly think that a dozen times over an 8" jump when I say so is going to be overdoing things. Not after watching her sail over the newly raised gate at the bottom of the ramp. The old gate gave up the ghost last week and so I had a new one put in. The original gate was 26" high. The new gate is 26" high on the bottom half and with the addition of a top half the combined height is now 36". The entire reason for the addition was to slow down/stop the Doberman Gang from constantly charging up and down the ramp. HA! While it has put a stop to all the other adult dogs hopping the gate whenever they thought I wasn't looking, it seems to have only incited the Dobermans to greater feats of jumping and Sanity is right there in the lead most of the time. What is really getting me is that she isn't jumping to the top of the gate and then pushing off. Oh no, she is jumping it with at least a couple of inches to spare. I suppose I should worry at least a little bit, but that gate will be coming down for the winter in just a few more weeks anyway.

If I am to worry about anything I think I will worry about how many times I have seen her take a spill while playing on the mulch pile. Some days I despair for her rear legs. At six months she sure is a gawky, coltish pup and sometimes seems to forget she has to be responsible for more than just her front legs.

Meanwhile, evening and the last class of the day was a chance to work on the retrieve from the ground some more. I really must get busy and seek out some stronger distractions, cause she sure is slow on her return. Going out is fine, strong and brisk, it is just that there is the hesitation between the time she puts her mouth on the dumbbell, picks it up and then starts her return. So thinking cap time were distractions are concerned. Think I will start using food distractions for the time being.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Day 101

Sunday and I was determined to rest. Problem being that Sanity just didn't quite see it my way.

So, here I am resting in my recliner and I hear a very suspicious noise coming from the kitchen part of the house. Make myself get up and go check. Nothing wrong in the kitchen, HOWEVER...

In the little room off the kitchen where all the dog food is kept movement catches my eye. As I move through the kitchen headed for the "food" room a red streak shoots past me. Reaching out to grab I miss and the chase is on. Seems this particular red streak is carrying a small plastic bag in her mouth and not much interested in sharing. Cornered, caught and the plastic bag grudgingly given up, I head back to the food room to see if I can figure out just where, what, how, why. You know, all those important questions.

The boarding dogs mostly show up here with their own overnight bags that have their food as well as other necessities. I don't know if I simply forgot to zip up the bag in question or not, but on the floor lay a black backpack. Unzipped and wide open complete with plastic bags of food spread all over the place. Now mind you, zipped or not that back pack was up on the table and to reach it Sanity had to have climbed up onto a chair and then snagged it. GRRRRR.

Mess cleaned up and then the door got gated shut. Back to my recliner, where I no more than begin to doze off when I hear another crash. This time from the office. Back up and into the office I head only to find that just about everything on the right hand side of my very messy desk is now on the floor and inSanity is calmly plucking one tissue after another out of the tissue box. OUT! OUT! GET OUT OF HERE! With that I threw open the door and chased her outside.

Cleaned up the mess in the office only to realize there is way too much quiet outside. Check on all the dogs to discover that inSanity is leading the pack in a major dig fest not in the mulch pile but in the dirt between the pavement and the flower garden fence. I'm beginning to dream up unusual punishments as I realize that by the time I have managed to put all the dirt back I would really have been better off to have just worked for an hour or so to begin with. And so, dirt replaced out comes the dumbbell and we worked on retrieving from the ground around distractions to be followed by about 15 minutes devoted to random sits. That finally made her feel better and I actually was allowed to rest. Of course, by that time the day was pretty much over anyway.

Last thought for right now. If and I do mean if she should manage to live to see her first birthday, she really will be an awesome dog.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day 100

Dogs out, dogs in, baby its not only dark outside but cold at 7 a.m. Not a single dog was interested in staying out for longer than it took to pee. For some reason I find myself with almost as many dogs here as I do during the summer months. Can't figure out why. Wonder were everyone is going this weekend.

It isn't our turn to teach until the 10 a.m. lesson. That is a lesson four and Sanity once again shows her maturity. She travels down the steep basement stairs a few at a time, pausing to wait for me without being reminded. At the bottom she does need a reminder sit and then we move on into the studio where she totally ignores the rather rude dog in the doorway and moves over to her bed/station without being told. Lesson starts. I need her to demonstrate the down placement. She steps right up and handles the entire demonstration without a flaw. She is much too young and short to be any help in the stand and brace department, however she does manage a stand while letting me use her shoulders for balance. So getting up wasn't as bad as I feared. Back to her bed/station while the student practices.

Next comes a demonstration of all the pieces of the formal recall and the reasons why it is being taught to a dog who "know" come. Her faked break of the sit/stay was almost letter perfect. Her bounce back to the sit location as I faked a correction wasn't as smooth as it will become in another year or so, but the idea is there. The one place I wish there was less speed and at the same time don't want to lose any speed at all is the response to the come command. The problem from a demonstration viewpoint is that the entire thing is over so fast that the students aren't sure just what they saw. Over all a good job.

Break time and then we are back to teaching. This time it is a small group class. An advanced group who is studying each exercise in small bites the better to learn how to both teach and train. Today we started working on the sit/stay as it is taught during the very first two days. Somehow that morphed into teaching a fast, straight sit at heel. Sanity was wonderful. She wasn't fazed one bit by my having to set her up to "fail" on several occasions. Seems to understand it is just a part of the job and her being able to do her job makes her one step up where the other dogs are concerned. Once the class was over the one thing needed that had to be deferred was a good run to blow off the tension of working a hard class. There was way too much repair work going on in the yard and the big gates were open, with trucks coming and going. So the run had to wait.

All in all a good day.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Day 99

Here's what Sanity looked like last night, all dressed up as a bag lady and begging for treats.

Well today was nail day and Sanity is now six months old. So many changes in such a short space of time. From the little puppy who was only interested in checking out her new environment that very first day to a rather serious youngster who has a mind like a sponge. The speed with which she soaks up new information just helps to remind me that most of my human students are ill-equipped to keep up with the mental needs of a growing pup.

Back to nail day. Sanity waits at the gate for instructions to move out of the yard. She waits for me to shut and then fumble with the lock and finally manage to get the padlock in place and locked. She walks with me to the car and then patiently waits for me to unlock it, open the back door, and finally tell her "get in the car". All this is done without a leash and only an occasional reminder tap on her ecollar.

When we arrive at the nail salon, she waits in the car until I clip the leash on her collar and invite her out of the car. A single heel command puts her in heel position and then we head for the door to the salon. Today the cold weather had me walking very slowly. This meant that Sanity had to continually adjust and then re-adjust her position in order to stay even close to heel. Basically, it is a case of Sanity taking 4 steps and then stopping to wait for me and then taking 4 steps only to have to stop and wait once again. She does this will grace, good will and much patience. At the door to the shop, she backs away to make room for me to open the door and then waits for me to tell her she may enter. Once inside I head straight for my seat and Sanity moves to her rug all without so much as a single word from me. Leash removed she waits, mostly sleeping or at least dozing while I get my nails done and then after a good stretch steps up so the leash can be put back on for the trip to the car.

Her newest thing is to sit facing backward, chin resting on the back of the back seat watching out the window as the world goes passed. Once she gets the retrieve to a useful stage it is going to be really difficult to remember that she is still a pup.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Day 98

Thank goodness I had sense enough to banish the "bitch from hell" yesterday. It took me more than four hours of hard work to get everyone more or less settled down into a normal routine. Breaking them into small groups and kenneling the ones I wasn't working I would throw a bumper. They would chase it and then once they got to it would begin to pose and posture over position. I would throw the second and third bumpers so as to hit the worst offenders in the side. This would break up the little donnybrook before it could escalate into a major war.

Tiring out a group, I would kennel them and get out the next group. Over and over I did this until finally fatigue and the rhythm of the work settled everyone back into a more normal behavior pattern. Instead of helping, snotty Miss Sanity turned into Insanity and just kept on trying to stir the pot. By the time the morning was over I had totally lost count of the number of times I corrected her for a one transgression of the rules after another.

Mind you, each and every single correction was for a new and different offense. I must say, I am mightily impressed by her ability to come up with new things to try. I am also way to tired to be able to do much more than put everyone up for an afternoon nap and crawl into my recliner for a couple of hours.

Evening brought the group class and a Halloween party. Poor Sanity. With no time to do anything about a costume for her, she was forced to wear cast-offs and go as a bag lady. She was not real thrilled with the choice of costumes. However, I did get to put her new holding skills to use. See tomorrow for a picture.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Day 97

The sun is shining, but there is no warmth in the air. One of the day care dogs is in season and her very presence is causing a major uproar. Seems as if I have to have more dogs in lock-up than I have running loose. What a stinker Sanity is. Instead of trying to help me calm things down, oh no, not her. Nope, she has to try and get in there and really stir things up even more. So she got herself banished to the house. Right now she is curled up under my desk and resting comfortably on my feet. Not sure if I think that is comfortable or not. It does keep my feet warm.

Managed to get in a couple of retrieve sessions and by the last one I was able to take my hand totally away from the dumbbell and drop the hold command. She is lunging for the dumbbell almost before I can place it on the ground. That is the good part. The bad part is that after she picks it up, she is still hanging up as to what the next step is supposed to be. That will straighten itself out after a few more practice sessions.

Meanwhile, her interest in picking things up and bringing them to me has definitely started to pick up and move in the right direction. What's interesting about it is that if I remain quiet she will bring the item to me. If I tell her she is a good girl she drops the item. If I call her to me, she puts the item down and then comes to me. Personally, I thing we are at the can't chew gum and walk stage. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Made her really mad at me this afternoon. Left her home and took Val to visit Lauren. We really had to make some sort of a decision about what to do. The size issue looms so very large. Val managed to do everything right and so came back her as Jersey Val. We are going to change her name to Jersey since it is part of her registered name and Lauren, Don and I all like Jersey much better than Val. Should take about a week to complete the change-over.

When I got back home, Sanity was just a'screaming. Seems she didn't think much about this business of having to stay downstairs with all the other dogs and then the greatest cut of all. I took another dog with me and left her behind. Little does she know that that will be a major part of her training from now until she learns way more self-control that she has shown me today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Day 96

Rain. Not just a little rain but rain all day long. Cold, clammy, unpleasant rain. I hate cold rain. Sanity is at least a little better about it than the other Dobermans. At least she will go out and do what she needs to do and even run around a little bit before coming back inside. The part she hates the most is the closed door. I told her yesterday she was just going to have to get used to asking to go out. That it would be months before the door is open all the time. Oh how I mourn the passing of summer.

The retrieve is definitely moving along. After only two warm-up retrieves where I reminded her to hold, she got it and was handling all the parts of the retrieve on a single "fetch" command. The current trade-off is that after she moves out and picks up the dumbbell she freezes. The dumbbell is now off the ground and in her mouth, but she is not returning to me in a timely fashion. I was content to wait her out at first. Then she made a major tactical error. She cut me a look with her eyes with that sly, "I getting away with something" look. NOT!

So I snatched on the leash. This caused two things to happen. She dropped the dumbbell and was jet propelled to me. Since she arrived without the dumbbell, she was of course corrected back to it and still had to pick it up and return it. She just glared at me. Made humpfing noises and tried to tell me she also had forgotten were heel position was or even how to find said position. The attempt failed. She found herself very quickly in heel position. Then I started to set up for the next retrieve. She could hardly wait. As I was saying fetch she was shooting out to pick it up and there was no hesitation in returning to me. Then just to remind me of her tender age, she "forgot" what she was supposed to do next and put herself in a half crouch position rather than a proper sit. Unacceptable young'un, see I know you can do better.

On the next placed retrieve, she rushed out to the dumbbell, picked it up quickly and returned at a snail's pace, only to sit nice and straight. Sorry little on, that won't do either. So we did it again. Since she had managed to come back slowly the previous time, she thought to give it a second pass. NOT! I snatched on the leash. She was jet-propelled again, only this time she didn't drop the dumbbell. Finally she seemed to run out of variations on the theme and gave me two nice, brisk retrieves with good sits. We called it good and quit.

I am so glad to see her trying out lots of different ways of doing things while we are still in the early stages of the training. It is much easier to fix mistakes now than it will be later. Her continuing to grow will make size as well as distance an issue later, if I don't get stuff fixed now.

How I dread tomorrow morning. After a full day of rain, all the dogs are going to be totally wild for a while tomorrow morning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Day 95

Today sure started out on a rough note. The creature pictured below took up residence just on the other side of the fence and managed to keep all the dogs in a sort of low uproar for several hours. Totally wore me out just acting as Peace Keeper. Was mighty glad to see him leave.

Things managed to settle down by midmorning and Sanity "helped" with the 11 a.m. class. This time the help was in the form of the other dog doing a set of stays. From this point on, she will be the extra dog during stay practice for every student. It does help the instill a steady, reliable stay. Of course on the path to that reliability there are many corrections. What is a correction for her for stay breaking is a distraction for the other dog. Right now it would appear that the sit/stay is the big problem for her. She will hold a down stay for long periods of time. I suspect that comes about because of the "sit on the dog" exercise and lots of practice when I am teaching and need for her to be near but at the same time out of the way. Anyway, at this point she is up to holding for about 90 seconds and then can't seem to think of a single reason why she shouldn't lie down. HA! I am the reason for not laying down and she will slowly get the point.

The retrieve today was practiced in part as a piece of Leo's (the Newfie puppy)distraction training. He is working on a tossed fifteen foot retrieve. So I would set Sanity up to do an arm's length retrieve about five feet away from where Leo had to pick up his tossed dumbbell. That proved to be a pretty strong distraction for the both of them. After several repeats they were both getting it right every single time. So we stopped on a high note.

Later, during the Monday Open and Utility polishing class Sanity did a bit of a back slide and tried to insist she really didn't ever, ever do a placed retrieve at that distance. Somehow the need for the hold command is still there.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Day 94

Sunshine and not quite so cold this morning. All the dogs were happy to see sun and Sanity joined the gang in a grand game of first chase/tag and then hole digging in the mulch pile.

The retrieve is the only thing being worked on specifically each and every day. Today we just worked retrieves from the floor in the office. No distractions, just the two of us and the dumbbell. Working in this quiet environment some rather interesting things became apparent. As long as I said fetch and then when her mouth was on the dumbbell said hold she was able to correctly retrieve it every single time. When I said fetch and didn't say hold she appeared to be either confused or just waiting for the next command. I decided to go with confused and will continue to use the hold command for a couple more days.

I swear she gets more mouthy by the day. I keep telling her she must learn the art of silence. Right now she isn't overly impressed with my requirements in the vocals department. What she has yet to learn is that I always win discussions of this sort and my ability to stay the course is far, far greater than hers. Soon we will have the silence I require.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Day 93

It was so dark, wet and rainy this morning that I over slept. Managed to let all the dogs out between down pours and by 9 a.m. we rolled into the first lesson of the day. Thank goodness for the studio. Today was the first day of the indoor season where we faced juggling dogs and people most of the day. Little space, many bodies and a need for great care since some of the newer dogs can be more than just a little touchy about what they consider to be their "personal" space.

Diane, my assistant, and I split the first lesson with my doing the first half inside and her doing the second half outside. As luck would have it the rain stopped for exactly 30 minutes. Thirty minutes just when we needed them and so the outside work wasn't bad after all. Sanity is beginning to understand that the little bed in the hallway is where she is to stay during a consultation or beginning lesson. Downstairs in the studio she has really learned that the "go to bed" command means the bed at the end of the training floor. She is really good about going there and staying put. The biggest problem right now is that she has a tendency to go fast asleep and I have to wake her up and then wait for her to stretch, yawn and sort of shake all her parts together before she can help out.

While Diane and Molly (Diane's dog) worked with the first student outside, Sanity and I took the second student downstairs and started their lesson. This was a week three which meant Sanity needed to demonstrate how to start teaching the "place" command and the stand. I can see she really needs lots more work on place. I find it really interesting how she caught on to the "go to bed" command very fast and is much slower to grasp the general place command. It is one of those things I am grabbing to use as part of my lectures on making the training a part of everyday living.

In teaching the stand, I demonstrate each move from three different directions while directing my students to pay attention to a specific set of movements. Sanity is starting to get the idea and moves easier and easier as we turn. She handles all parts of the demo including the one minute stand quietly by my side part with much grace. I am finding I need to remind my students over and over again that she is only a pup and still not six months old. They just sort of gape at her in wonderment.

We finish up the lesson and move back upstairs to mind the office while Diane and Molly move downstairs to teach the next lesson. The next student arrives and since she is in a totally different program from all the morning students, she comes in to chat while I send Sanity outside to play with her dog.

The last of the morning students leave and we stop for a bite of lunch. Since we have a break in both training and the rain all the dogs get turned out. Then Sanity's sister Leda arrives and the yard suddenly seems full of Dobermans all bent on becoming the muddiest. YUCK!

After lunch the "Doberman only" class starts. Diane starts Tonia and Leda on some Dogga exercises to help them find a calm center. Personally, I think they ought to call it Doggy-Zen training, but hey what do I know? Meanwhile, at the other end of the studio Sanity watches as Chance gets a workout on the place command, moving from place board to negative space. Finally Sanity comes out to work on her retrieve from the ground. In spite of how well she handled what I thought were good distractions yesterday, today having two of her buddies watching was almost more than she could stand and getting two good retrieves from the floor was a major issue. By the time that was over so was our day.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Day 92

Rain. Rain. Rain. It sure was a good thing today was a Friday. I don't have a clue as to what I would have done with Sanity other than call her InSanity today. It was raining when we got up and about the only thing positive I can say is that she almost believes me when I insist that no Doberman in the entire history of the breed has ever melted from being touched by multiple raindrops.

While waiting my turn to get my nails done, we used the distractions of slippery floor, people walking by and all the normal hustle and bustle of a busy hair and nail salon to practice retrieving the dumbbell from the floor.

The little rug for my dog is always put out just before I get to the shop. Sanity has now reached the point where I am able to send her to that rug from across the shop. One of the things I am getting a kick out of watching is how all the people in the shop are so very interested in watching me train. Many of them own a dog or dogs and yet they don't have a clue as to how to get a dog to do even the simplest of things. Sometimes I feel the presents of many shadow dogs and just hope they will be treated fairly when their owners get home.

After we left the salon we headed right back home and let all the dogs out to basically do nothing more than get really wet and muddy. Rainy days sure aren't any fun.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day 91

Sanity has a good buddy. His name is Zeus and he is a big black Doberman who is actually not all that much older. But at 11 months he still towers over her and for whatever reason they have a special relationship. He is the one responsible for helping keep her in line those times when she might otherwise spin wildly out of control in the emotions department. Today was one of those days where the two of them were tag-teaming just about everyone.

First they got themselves in trouble for tag-teaming the poor German Shepherd who is always at the bottom of the pack. Then came the biggie. One of the trainers who comes here on Thursdays for additional instruction was I think working on the retrieve with one of his dogs. I say, think, because I didn't actually see what he had started to do. All I saw was the finish, so to speak. His dumbbell was laying on the other side of a jump. He was doing something with his dog when Sanity sailed up and swiped said dumbbell. Since I am so close to a pickup from the ground, there was no way I was going to do anything other than call her to me with lots of praise. And so I did.

I then gave the dumbbell back and watched it be replaced at about the same place it was when Sanity stole it. Meanwhile Zeus had been hovering around in the background carefully watching what was going on. Once the area around the dumbbell was clear of all humans, he swooped in and grabbed the dumbbell and then lacking any instruction headed for the mulch pile at the back of the yard. Sanity took off after him and I called him. Both of them came running and Zeus proudly presented the dumbbell to me when I requested it. Naturally I praised him and then returned it to its rightful owner, who once more put it back on the ground in the same place as before.

Before I could so much as suck in a breath of air, Sanity was there grabbing said dumbbell and proudly bringing it to me. Need I say that once again I praised her and then handed off the dumbbell in question. The session ended at that point and now in retrospect I wonder what the three most active participants learned. No, that's not entirely true, because I have a good idea as to what the two Dobermans learned and it is something I will take full advantage of in the coming days.

Since I wasn't scheduled to teach the early class this evening, I used a chunk of the time to work with Sanity on the retrieve. Sure enough by the time I was ready to quit she was picking the dumbbell up from the floor with a single fetch command. Over the next few days I will remove my hand from the picture all together and begin to build speed and distance until I have a 6 foot retrieve going. And then the real fun will begin.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Day 90

Well the first ninety days are coming to a close. Truth to tell the only thing we worked on today was the retrieve. She is so close to picking the dumbbell up from the floor I can taste it and am having to fight with myself to not rush things and try it today. Tomorrow will be soon enough.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Day 89

After spending the morning trying to figure out if a new dog is the right one for a client or not, Sanity and I in the company of a good friend headed off to the Columbia Mall to do some "mall crawling". We started our outing by getting something to eat. This gave Sanity a chance to look around and scope things out. As you can see, she thought the down time was a bore.

Next we headed off to check out a couple of stores and ended up buying a few things.

Right now one of Sanity's biggest problems is that she seems to have lost track of what her rear end is doing or where it is going. This, as you can see, makes turning in tight places something of a challenge. However, with a little help and guidance the turn was managed and we didn't knock a single bottle off the shelf.

As we were leaving that store, Sanity noticed the railing and wanted to check it out. So we did. She found that people watching from that height was truly fascinating and was somewhat reluctant to leave her viewing post.

We did finally leave and took the elevator (moving room) back to the lower level. She didn't seem to be fazed one way or another by the movement and was far more concerned about why I wanted her to practice this "backing up" business. I suspect it will be several months before she has enough control over her rear to actually manage to back up without getting her feet all twisted.

Our last stop was the toy store. I had spotted it when we first entered the Mall and had decided it should be our last stop. The strange toys were of great interest. Hoping to locate at least one good distraction toy we went in and struggled to get around. Sadly, the aisles were so narrow and cluttered that we had to give up the search.

Point of interest, so far Sanity has remained totally unflappable and pretty much unstoppable. Noises, movement, people, animals, different walking surfaces, different riding arrangements, they are all greeted with an alert, wide-eyed interest. Each new thing, each new place is studied and then given consideration before she moves on to the next new thing. The best part is that I am getting to see everything as new all over again. What a fine gift.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Day 88

Monday recovery. Since I was pretty much whipped, I made the mistake of thinking Sanity would feel the same way. She did seem sort of glad to take it easy for a couple of hours in the morning. However, by 11 she had her energy back and was ready to help teach a couple of lessons.

After that, while I wandered around in something of a fog, she managed to EAT a second leash. Mind you, it wasn't exactly laying around begging to be eaten or in this case chewed to the point I shall have to take it up the street and beg the leather shop owner to cut it off and rebraid it. Which, of course, means I will have a short leash I won't really want to use. Grrrr.

As for the retrieve, let's just say she is only a couple of days away from picking the dumbbell up from the floor and in the evening class she showed for the second time today that carrying a dumbbell while going over an eight inch board is really easy.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Day 87

Sanity watches a battery powdered mouse zip past during the moring of our second Workshop day.

Sunday in Easton, MD This was the day we taught the Open level material. That meant we needed to be able to demonstrate jumping, both long and high and the working retrieve. All I had was little Miss Sanity. She all but took my breath away with her work ethic. Mind you she handled the stuff being thrown at her as if it was no big deal. At the same time, you could just see that mind of hers going into overdrive as she pulled her ears up taller and taller and furrowed her brow in thought.

She came out and demonstrated the beginnings of a working retrieve.
Dumbbell touching lips. Sanity, in foreground in this picture, holds a sit/stay while I check progress of Workshop attendees.
Dumbbell one inch away. Dumbbell six inches away. Dumbbell one foot away. Dumbbell at arm's length. Sanity lets me show everyone how to use a thumbnail to help a stubborn dog release the dumbbell.
All of this in front of the audience with all sorts of distractions all around us. Next we started talking about the hold.

Out comes Sanity again. I place the dumbbell in her mouth and stand there talking about correct placement. All the while she is holding that dumbbell in her mouth, sitting super straight and looking ever so important. When faced with an older dog moving in on her she withstands the temptation to drop the dumbbell or leave her post.

Then we do dumbbell in mouth and moving one step. Next we do dumbbell in mouth and moving several steps. She slips up and drops it. I show how the correction is made, place the dumbbell back in her mouth and continue with the movement.

Finally, I find myself in the place of having to really push her. Fair? Unfair? I don't know and will never know since she was more than willing to go along with the program. I gave her the dumbbell, told her hold and walked her up to the jump. It was set up with only an eight inch board in it so all she had to do was step over it.

Donkey time. She is sure there is no way she can pick up her feet to step over the board and hold onto the dumbbell at the same time. I talk to her. Under normal circumstances I would have been whispering. But these weren't normal times, everyone had to hear me, so I was talking to her in a very loud voice. Somehow, she seemed to understand the need. Anyway, giving me a rather woeful look she picked up a front foot, put it on the opposite side of the jump and promptly dropped the dumbbell. I corrected her for dropping it, picked it up and put it back in her mouth and encouraged her to continue on her way over that board. She did.

Next I walked her briskly over the board without the dumbbell. On the third pass, I once again gave her the dumbbell to carry. She didn't walk over the board. Oh no, not her. No, instead of walking over the board while carrying the dumbbell, she JUMPED it. Must have cleared it by at least eight inches. Bounced up to me and sat to present the dumbbell to my hand. I love this pup.

The very last thing of note she managed after that was during the wrap-up at the end of the Workshop. She was totally wiped out and I had left her fast asleep in her bed. The bed was only a few feet from the wide open door. Meanwhile, I was on the other side of the warehouse with the entire audience between us. Since I was fielding questions in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear I know she could also hear me.

She woke up. I wasn't in my chair. I wasn't visible at all. She could hear my voice and so she did what any reasonable puppy would do under the circumstances. She got up and came looking for me. Someone in the back called up to me that she was up and on the search. I watch her for a minute before calling. She was going from one person to another, carefully checking them out and moving on. I called her. "Sanity, come." Her head snapped around, eyes searching, ears going in different directions and never holding still. I called again. With that second call she zeroed in on me and shot through the crowd straight to me. Never even so much as noticed other dogs reaching out, ducked all hands reaching out to all but slam into my legs. After that she just sort of hung around until it was time to go home. No, she wasn't on a leash. No, she wasn't wearing an ecollar. She was just wearing a plain old fashioned chain choke collar and using her mind and behaving like a responsible pup. She is so wonderful.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Day 86

Saturday in Easton, MD. Outside to potty and back inside to eat. Her breakfast was ok and scarfed up in record time, since there was this other pan of food and a fool of a dog who wasn't attending to it. Oh how she wanted it and oh how sad she was when she wasn't allowed to have any of it.

Off to the motel lobby where there was a continental breakfast of sorts available. In the breakfast area was this very officious, rather prune sort of woman employee who when seeing us began to shout, "No dogs. No dogs in here. You have to leave at once. No dogs. No dogs. We don't allow dogs." She just kept chanting those words over and over again the entire time I was trying to explain just exactly what Sanity's status was. Finally, I ended up shouting louder that she was shouting that both Maryland and Federal law most definitely did allow this particular dog to be there.

She bustled off to get her manager to call the police or whatever. A bit later she came back, very quiet, with a very angry face and would not make eye contact at all. Humm...wonder just what she was told.

After that incident and a couple other not so pleasant encounters with others about a different topic, our day finally really got started. At first Sanity simply showed how good she could be by staying in her little bed next to my chair. As the morning wore on I found places where I needed her to demonstrate some point or another and she was right there, doing exactly what I needed. And then...

Came time for throw chain work. Miss Sanity had never seen much less experienced a throw chain. I had been saving that just for this Workshop. The distractions consisted of a catch pen full of live quail, a totally uninteresting toy AND a paper plate with two fresh off the grill hamburgers complete with melted cheese. She was totally wonderful and went from wanting to tease the quail and gobble down the hamburgers to not being interested in them at all. It was a good enough demonstration to encourage several Workshop attendees to get out there and give it a try with their dogs.

Next came the light line and throw chain work. Now to be fair to Sanity, I really don't think she is all that ready for that level of heeling work, but she was what was available as a demo dog, so work she did. Light line on, leash off, throw chain in hand with two in my pocket we started off. On one side of us was a long line of attendees and their dogs. On the other side of us was the pen of quail and the plate of hamburgers. By the fifth or sixth pass Sanity was trotting right along with me, neither forging or lagging and pretty much paying attention. No, she wasn't in a perfect heel position. She may be a super pup but she is still a pup. Even so, there were still the doubting thomases and the yes'but'ers who were still saying they would never throw a chain at their dog. Use an ecollar, yes. Throw a chain, no.

I took the chain choke collar and light line off Sanity. She was now totally naked. I gave her an "ok" release command, turned my back on her and walked away. I kept on talking but I was really just filling the air with noise since not one single person was paying a bit of attention to me. They were all mesmerized by what was happening with that loose, totally collarless 5 month old Doberman puppy out there in the middle of the floor with a wide open door to the great outside, a pen of live quail and a plate of hamburgers.

She slipped up to the quail pen and then slipped away without ever touching a thing. Then she stood around for a couple of minutes thinking. Next she headed for the plate. She stopped dead in her tracks when she was about 4 feet away and stuck out her neck as far as she could stretch it. Sniff, sniff. Stop. Move off. Approach for a different direction. Repeat over and over again until the plate had been circled twice. Move off. Look at the open door. Sniff, sniff. Nope, not interesting. Trot over, and join me by sitting in heel position. I never said a single word to her during the entire thing. Gad, I love this puppy.

After that, the rest of the day was sort of an after thought.

Evening and dinner found us in a Bob Evans since everything else was full. We were seated at a table across from a table that had three bratty 10 to 13 age boys with two adults who I assumed were their fathers. The boys had no better manners or sense than to get on the floor and start barking at Sanity. Sometimes I hate people. Sanity was just fine. She took my "under" command without a hitch, downed under the table and decided to watch me rather than the problem humans. Didn't anymore than get the boy problem settled than a 4 or 5 year old girl comes crawling down the aisle intend on reaching Sanity. I don't know, seems to me things are going downhill at a rather rapid rate. I don't remember it being quite this bad even 10 years ago.

Back in the motel, out to potty and run one last time and then off to bed.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Day 85

Drove me half crazy last night. She was up, down, up, down and the up again all night. I suspect it may have had something to do with the change in our sleeping arrangements. When I have an overnight guest, they get the bed and bedroom and I sleep in my wonderful recliner. Now it isn't unusual for me to sleep in the recliner all night and all the dogs are used to that part. What was new for Sanity was the idea that the bedroom door was closed, she wasn't allowed to enter and there was SOMEONE ELSE in The Bed. By morning I don't know who was more tired, her or Wrap or me. Next guest will be easier, that is the one thing I know for sure.

Morning progressed and we headed out to run errands. First stop was for my nails and while maintaining her place and giving every appearance of being a model puppy she was quietly chewing through one of my very best leashes. Because Janene happens to have been one of my students, Sanity got caught in the act. BAD GIRL!!!

Next stop was the drug store where they didn't have any problems with us and we didn't have any problems with them. With Sanity's level of curiosity being what it is, I sure wouldn't have wanted to put off this part of her training one second longer. I really need to get her to what I call the "no big deal" stage in her public training as fast as I can. Doing it while she is still small is the only thing that is making any sense to me.

Last stop was to pick up my new glasses and darn if she didn't consider leash chewing while waiting. Sorry! That is just not an option and I told her so. The Optician looked like his face was going to break in his struggle to keep from laughing at us. The thought crossed my mind that he was thinking she just might cost me several more pairs of glasses. I told her, "better not". She just wagged her tail.

Evening found us in Alison's car and headed to Easton, MD. Took Sanity and Chance about the first 30 minutes or so to get themselves sorted out and behaving in the backseat of the car. After than the ride was pretty calm.

There was a "meet and greet" at an Applebee's in Easton and we made it there in time to not be the last to arrive. This was Sanity's first public appearance in a restaurant.
She handled it just like an adult dog. Didn't even react when a fool of a restaurant employee snuck up behind us and started petting her on the butt. Man, was I pissed. Several at our table told her to knock it off and I reached out and started rubbing and stroking her arm while asking her if she liked her privacy invated and her body fondled by a stranger. I honestly don't know what was funnier. The faces at the table, her face or the faces of people at other tables. Anyway, I figured it was a good thing I wasn't planning on ordering anything to eat.

Frisbees. Big turn on. We got to the motel, went to our room, put stuff away and then went out to join a group all exercising their dogs on the lawn. There was this Airedale busy chasing a frisbee. Sanity locked on that thing flying through the air and just had to have it. I let her go. She raced out, stole the frisbee from the Airedale and proudly brought it back to me. After doing this same thing several more times I started holding her back so the poor Airedale could enjoy its Frisbee in peace and quiet.

Meanwhile,in another part of the lawn a schutzhund trained dog was doing some practice sleeve work. Butterfly brain that she is right now, the sleeve looked like way more fun than the Frisbee and she begged and begged me to let her play that game next. I felt I really had to tell her, "not now, little one, not now."

Finally bed and the idea of being in a motel room with one other dog and two other people didn't faze her. Within less than a couple of seconds she was fast asleep.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Day 84

Full arm's length with distractions of food, other dogs, people coming up behind her. Carried full size dumbbell around the training class for 2-1/2 minutes then dropped it. Carried it for another 2 minutes, did a turn and sit in front of me and handed it to me on the command "give".

If this is a short report it is because I am going slightly crazy getting ready for the weekend AND riding herd on inSanity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day 83

I thought I didn't have time to work my puppy today, because I was way too busy getting ready for the upcoming weekend Workshop I am presenting in Easton. Talk about stupid choices on how to spend my time.

In the space of less than 6 hours, she ate a corner off the area rug in the living room, unpotted a couple of plants, tipped over the water bucket in the kitchen, dumped the trash basket in the office while I was cleaning up the spilled water in the kitchen, stole and attempted to kill one of my beanie babies, jumped up on the coffee table in the living room and I guess did a tap-dance, pulled all the pillows off the bed and was on her way outside with one when I caught her. Frankly, I would have been much better off to have just made sure I took the time to train her. She taught me well. I won't make that mistake again. I don't even want to think about what would happen if she were to be left alone or crated for 9 to 10 hours a day. Then again, rescue is just full of them.

Tired puppies are good puppies and she simply wasn't tired, so...Bedlam joined us for the day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day 82

First off there was a consultation to do on a biting dog. Once again, Sanity is sent to the dog bed just outside the office doorway and told to do a down/stay. Unlike yesterday, today she only needs one reminder. When we reach the 45 minute mark I explain to the client that I will now be bringing a dog into the room as an added "wrinkle" to the training we are doing. With that I get up, move the gate, clip a leash to Sanity's collar and call her into the office. Once there I tell her to "Up" onto the loveseat. It takes a couple of tries, some guidance on my part and finally a correction for lack of compliance before she ever so carefully half jumps, half climbs onto the loveseat and then once there is more than willing to do a down/stay again.

Meanwhile, the other dog is barking, lunging, screaming and I am coaching the owner to continue to "do nothing". Since she is already doing my "sit on the dog" exercise and since each and every lunge is causing a correction, I really don't see the need for anything else.

Sure enough, within 5 minutes of the time Sanity came into the room and settled on the loveseat the other dog had stopped lunging and was quiet. After 10 minutes of being totally ignored by two humans and one young pup, this recalcitrant rover finally got the hint and laid down beside his owner. EUREKA! Now we have the dog doing what it is supposed to do and the owner gets to see that it is possible. Thanks to Sanity, we sign up another student. So it would seem that this pup is truly in the outstanding and special category. She has actually gone to work at five months of age. WOW! Even I am impressed.

Went to the drug store for the first time today. I really need to figure out a way to get some pictures of how Sanity looks when she goes into a new kind of store for the first time. All big eyes, nose twitching, ears going in six directions at once. She actually seems relieved when I halt to look at something and tell her to sit.

This was one of those annoying times when as we are coming around the end of a row a store employee is coming the other way. We start to pass one another and this fool screams like a girl, leaps back, yells DOG and flees in the opposite direction. I make no response externally other than to tell Sanity she is a good girl. Internally I wonder if I am in for another fight. Sanity is properly and clearly identified by her vest. I am well versed in state law, but this is the same drug store that tried to toss Wrap and I out a couple of years ago. With a deep breath on my part we continue to shop.

Sure enough, not two minutes later here comes the screamer trailing along behind a supervisor. Thank goodness, wonder of wonders, the time spent with the earlier incident pays off. The supervisor sees Sanity's vest, reads OUT LOUD what it says and then tells me she sure is a pretty little thing and do I need any help finding things or lifting things? "No I don't, but thank you for asking and yes, I think she is pretty myself. Yes you are correct. She is working now and no you can't pet her. Thank you for asking." As we continue to shop I can still hear the lecture about service dogs being given to the screamer. So it really does pay to know your rights and stand your ground and then insist the parent company do a better job with employee education.

In the check out line, Sanity moves forward each time the cart inches forward. Sometimes she remembers to sit when we halt and sometimes I remind her. Once she reaches the age where she will start to wear a shoulder pack and carry my "stuff" for me I will have her stand or lie down during times like this as an energy conservation move, but for right now sitting is a good move. Everyone in the line and in the next line over starts talking about her. One man recognizes that she is only a puppy and he starts a rather loud conversation about how when he was younger all dogs behaved "just as good as that pup". He and I are of about the same age and I am forced to agree with him. After checking out, we head back to the car and home.

In the retrieve department, we were pretty lax today. Only did a couple of arm's length reaches BUT the hold is coming along nicely. She carried her dumbbell out the door, down the ramp and then oops! dropped it at the bottom of the ramp where the footing changes. Back in her mouth for a brisk walk around the parking lot. Dropped it once and then carried it all the way back in the house and sat to give it to me. Guess that marks some progress.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 81

Grey and definitely not warm as far as I am concerned. Plus I think I am trying to come down with that blasted cold my son brought home. UGH. Had a consultation to do this morning and all our work has had to move back inside. No more outdoor office until next year, sigh. This also means I have now started the training on inside work. Sanity really had a rather difficult time grasping the idea that for this consultation she was going to have to remain out in the hallway in a little bed.

One of my most unfavorate things to deal with are parents who bring very young children along for consultations they know will be lasting 90 minutes or more. This was one of those, so I figured that if I had to suffer through the misbehavior of a child of less than 5 the least they could do in return is let me do a "meet and greet" between the child and Sanity. How?

I put the child on a "stand/stay" and then heeled Sanity into the room. We stopped about three feet from her and I had Sanity do a sit/stay. Then I invited the child to come up and first say hello and finally to pet. It didn't go so well. Nope, in fact what happened was...

It went GREAT! Sanity stayed very, very still and gently sniffed the little girl's hand and then held like a statue while being petted. Finally she could stand it no longer and ever so gently, using only the tip of her tongue, she kissed the child on the ear. I couldn't have ask for a better beginning to how to behave around small children. While I don't want a dog of mine licking or "kissing" people, the tiny little lick Sanity did was something I am willing to let slid because I know from previous experiences it will go away by the time she has passed her first birthday.

Then there was their dog, a 5.5 pound long hair Chihuahua who was by far the smallest dog Sanity has seen so far. For that meet and greet I had her do a down stay and I handled the Chihuahua. I find it totally fascinating that a dog like that can be just screaming bad behaviors in a steady Tourette's Syndrome sort of manner and once the leash transfers from owner's hand to mind all the undesirable behaviors simply cease to exist. This was what happened here. The Chihuahua went from barking and lunging to silence and a very timid approach. Sanity was rock steady and let the little one sniff, touch and poke at her. Only when this peanut named Peanut was relaxed did she finally sniff in return. At that point I let her get up from her down/stay and instead of exploding out of it like she does on occasion she calmly sat up, then slowly stood up and best of all she did it in a way that didn't scare the Chihuahua. So what had started out to be an awful consultation turned into a banner learning experience for at least 3 souls. I would like to think that the owner and Mother of the child was the fourth.

Next was the Newfoundland lesson. No big deal. We squeezed in a couple of arm's length reaches first in Leo's face and then in the general direction of Callie's face. Smooth as smooth can be. Actually the test with Callie was more a test to make sure Callie is continuing to move away from her original dog aggressive behavior than it was to challenge Sanity's willingness to go for the dumbbell. Both dogs passed the challenge with flying colors. Pretty cool.

After that I didn't need Sanity for any more lessons so she went off to hang with some of her buddies and finally went inside to take a long nap. Then it was dinner time and very quickly after that time for the Monday evening Workshop. I snatched a few minutes before everyone went down to the studio to get in several arm's length reaches. Chose to do them in the tight confines of my tiny office with two other people and three other dogs jammed in. If you have never been here you have no idea just how tight that set up was. Sort of like trying to put 10 hummingbirds on a postage stamp tight. Sanity pretty much was lunging for the dumbbell. Not bad.

My plan called for her to join the other dogs for stays and to work on her hold. When it came time for the stays she was fast asleep on the dog couch and not to be wakened. However, by the time the class was coming to an end she had come back from her "power nap" and we actually got to work on carry with other people and dogs around. She managed to carry the dumbbell about 25 feet and didn't even come close to dropping it. I called that exactly what I was looking for and with a little bit of applause said, "exercise finished and class dismissed." Thus, ended another day.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day 80

Still raining. Still wet. Getting colder. Not much in to working outside so all we did today was work on the retrieve off and on. The arm's length reach is where we are right now and with it came the argument over ownership of a certain right ear. I finally established that I do in fact own it. Once that issue was resolved the willingness to leave a sit and go for the dumbbell with gusto moved in. So from now until it is time to marry the hold and the fetch into one exercise we will be in a holding pattern as far as fetch movement goes.

The hold. What can I say? Holding is good. Sitting is good. Standing is also good. Moving more than one step appeared to be painful on some mental? emotional? level and she was determined to not take more that 3 very grudging steps. Finally by the last session of the day she managed to actually walk from the living room to the kitchen. The funny part was that she did it with her eyes closed. I'm not sure why the closed eyes, but if that helped her get the job done, well who am I to say she is wrong. Will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings. I don't plan on working on the hold until the evening class.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Day 79

I hate being wet and muddy.

Getting the ball is worth getting wet feet.

Now I own the ball.

A shot of some serious puddle play.

One of the reasons why sometimes this is called Mud Heaven.

I really should call this "Playing in the Rain" day. The dry spell has ended with a bang or should I say flood? The bad part, at least for all the Dobermans, is that we now have proof that they don't melt and their colors don't run just because it is raining.

Besides playing in the rain, Sanity worked on her hold. As I suspected having to walk and hold at the same time is proving to be a real "brain strain". I am without any sympathy since I know darn good and well she is more than happy to not just walk but run while at the same time carrying something in her mouth. It is just a matter of priorities, hers or mine.

The reach is another one of those things that right now seems to be a major issue. Her entire attitude being one of commitment to remaining in a sit position. This too shall pass.

Last comment. With the rain came colder weather, and once again she is showing me just how much she is going to be my girl. She doesn't like the colder air any better than I do.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Day 78

After almost two months with very little rain, the rains are coming down today as if to make up for the earlier lack. I had to personally escort Miss Can't Get Rained on Sanity out this morning for potty purposes. Then it was time to leave for our usual Friday outing. She pokes her head out the door and promptly pulls it back in. I insist she much come out and travel with me. She trots along beside me, ears flying, eyes squinted almost shut and head down. When I stop to lock the gate, she squeezes between my legs in a quest for shelter. Hops right into yet another strange car and is willing to settle down at once.

Once we get to the shop I make sure I have everything all ready before hopping out. It is really coming down hard and I don't want to have to spend any time standing out in it. Open the back door and call her, she comes as far as the edge of the door, looks out and starts to backpedal as fast as she can. Not fast enough, cause I am faster and quick, quick I have a hold of her collar. Leash attached the battle starts. She pulls. I pull. I pull some more. She braces some more. I win and out she comes. Heading into the shop is done at top speed. Luckily not enough rain got on her to cause her to melt or even cause her colors to run. I told her that would be the case.

Inside the shop was much busier than last week. She was really good about trotting over to her rug on the place command and then doing a down. Good. Got up once when she wasn't supposed to and then settled and hung out. After my nails were finished it was time for me to get a haircut. The shop owner just totally gushed when he saw Sanity for the very first time. Just went on and on and on about how beautiful she is and how he had clients who would all but kill to have hair the color of her coat. She not only said hello to him in an appropriate way but she managed a piece of his heart when she ever so carefully "kissed" his ear. I thought he would swoon on the floor. Clever girl, this one.

Next was the down/stay that had to be done on the "wrong" side and then not really at my side since the goal was too keep her out of everyone's way. She handled it with aplomb. After my hair was washed it was on to the chair for the cutting. Again, she needed to place, turn and then down in what she thought was a wrong location. We managed. The chair went up. So did Sanity as she tried to understand why I was moving straight up in the chair I was sitting in. Once she determined everything was fine she settled back down and held her position the entire time my hair was being cut and blow dried. Not too shabby for a puppy.

Once the haircut was finished we went back to the manicure station to wait for our friend Pam to be finished. Besides which, a major part of going every week is just to get out and have a good time and so we do. While waiting I figured it would be a great time to work on the hold.

Since the last of the stationary hold test had been passed with flying colors it was time to move on to hold with motion. I just continued to sit in the chair I was in and with it being on wheels it was easy to move it around as needed. First we did a hold at the old level and then moved on to holding while standing. Several successes later it was time to insist on that first, scary step. She dropped the dumbbell and got a correction. I put the dumbbell back in her mouth and we started again. This time she moved one foot about 3 inches. That was good enough for me. I started praising as I took the dumbbell from her, released her and let her move around a bit. Then it was back to doing the same thing again. This time she not only held the dumbbell and stood, but she actually took 3 steps. Great. Wonderful. Time to stop and so we did.

With nails and hair all done we all left and headed back home. When we left the shop it had stopped raining, yet by the time we reached the house it had started up again. By the time I was ready to jump her out of the car it was back to pouring. She jumped when called, down went the ears and quick as a wink she whirled around and jumped back into the dry car. This time the donkey act wasn't quite so bad and we made it back in the house without too much hassle. As I sit here writing this it continues to pour. I really dread tomorrow.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Day 77

Well, Sanity passed the 1 foot reach test and then went on to pass the 1-1/2 minute hold test yet again. This time she held the dumbbell will doing the group sit/stay with the Thursday evening novice class. Time to move on. What is going to be really interesting is to see how she handles the idea of movement. Right now she it totally committed to doing the fetch and/or the hold while in a sit and does not want to move at all. Amazing how long a neck she can grow when needed.

Her down on command continues to improve and she is beginning to show signs of understanding the need for holding that down/stay even when I am out on the floor working with other dogs. The hardest part for her is to hold her position when she is just "sure" I need help. I just keep on reminding her I will call her when I need her. Right now she doesn't have enough experience to be making those types of decisions on her own.

Yesterday I totally forgot to mention THE SQUIRREL. I don't know who caught it originally. I don't know who killed it. What I do know is that Sanity ended up with it. She was so proud of her catch. Strutting around like a queen when I noticed she had something in her mouth. I actually thought it was yet another stuffed toy that she had managed to sneak outside. Called her to me with the intent of having her take it back inside. As she got closer I started to have my suspicions about what it really was. It had a tail. It was furry. It was also wet, covered with slobber, the dust had turned to mud, the mud was sticky enough to hold leaves, twigs, bits of bark and as she got closer yet, eeeeeeyyyyuuuuccccckkkkkk!

It was a very dead, totally gross squirrel. "Sanity, SPIT! Good girl, comeonoverhere, that's it, right here. Sit. Good girl. Now SPIT. Yes that really is what I want you to do. Spit that nasty thing you think of as a trophy into the poop shovel. Good girl. Try again, S P I T. Oh what a good girl you are." And so she ever so reluctantly spit/dropped her wondrously nasty trophy into the poop shovel and I removed the dead from the area all together.

The command "Spit". Each and every single time I get a new dog, I swear I am not going to teach the spit command. No way, instead I will teach them to drop it or something similar. Yet when the time comes that I finally do need such a command out pops the word SPIT. At top volume and in a do it now or die voice. And so, once again I have a dog who now understands the difference between give and SPIT. No way to I want something that yucky put in my hand.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Day 76

I have no idea how long Sanity will be able to get up on the stool and balance herself. Guess it will depend on how much she grows. Anyway, I figured it would be nice to have a picture or two of her learning how to do stuff while balanced on the stool. So here she is practicing the hold command while balancing on the stool in a sit.

Two minutes and holding.

Up close and still holding.

Holding with extreme distractions.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Day 75

Just for the heck of it I up and decided to combine the place command with both sit and hold. I also chose to use the stool as the place. This meant Sanity really had to concentrate on what she was doing. First I gave the place command and waited while she figured out how to get up on the stool and then I gave the sit command. Again, I had to wait while she figured out how to maintain her balance on the stool and then sit. Next came the hold.

The first time I had her hold for only 15 seconds, then I took the dumbbell back and released her from the place/sit. The next time I had her hold for 30 seconds. That was harder and we had to do it three different times. Finally, once she was balanced and comfortable I had her hold the dumbbell for a full minute. I was able to move 3 feet away while she was doing this. When the time was up I stepped in, took the dumbbell and released her. It was then that I heard applause. Looking toward the street I discovered I had drawn quite a nice little audience.

Just across the street from the end of my driveway is a main cable pole, or at least that is what I think it must be. It is not uncommon for me to look out and see several large cable company trucks and up to a dozen or so men all swarming around that one pole. That was where the applause was coming from. Those guys are always one of my best audiences and my best distractions. I just love 'em.

Afternoon found us headed out on a shopping trip. First to the pet store to buy a new collar for her. The old one was on the last hole and really too tight. So she has gone from wearing a size 12 when she first got here to wearing a size 14 and as of today a size 16. This will be the last of the little puppy buckle collars. Next it was on to a glasses store so I could shop for new frames. Sanity was oh, so serious and mannerly. I wasn't. So mannerly, that it. Seems this "store" felt they had the right to insist I give them my name, phone number, address and email address before they would sell me frames for cash. I told them that information was none of their business and took my business elsewhere.

The last stop was at the opticians where I guess I just should have gone to begin with since it was where I planned on going after I bought the frames. It turned out he had just the frames I was looking for and at less than half the cost of the other place. Again, Sanity managed to handle all but one of the commands as if she had been doing it all her life. We need lots more work and place and under. I have to add that the optician got quite a chuckle over why I needed new glasses so soon. The eaten pair was only a year old. SIGH, I did remember to say my middle name is stupid, didn't I?

Early evening I had a visitor. A real visitor, not a client cum visitor and we were sitting in the living room chatting when I decided it would be the perfect time to test the place/sit/hold routine. Sanity appeared to think I had taken leave of my senses. Why on earth would I ever want her to do this "thing" in the living room? My response was, "cause I said so and besides which it is good mental discipline."

I got such a mournful look from her. Then ears, pointing east and west, she carefully climbed onto the stool, balanced herself, sat and accepting the dumbbell held it firmly in her mouth. Much praise, I took the dumbbell, released her and promised her that the "day was done". And so it was.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Day 74

I knew it! I knew it! Sooner or later it was bound to happen and for Sanity last night was the night. Along about 3 a.m. I woke up with a start and my heart just a banging in my chest. What was that loud thud? It sounded like it was in the bedroom, whatever it was. With a some what shaky hand I fumbled around and finally turned on the light. There stood Sanity on the other side of the bed with a very befuddled look on her face. She had just fallen off the bed!

When she climbed back into bed she was very careful to stay away from the far side. By morning the pressure was such that I thought I would be the next one to fall out of bed. Now I have a better understanding as to why all my Dobes start out sleeping on their side of the bed and then at some point end up sleeping in the middle or as close to me as possible. I really think it is fear of falling that triggers the problem.

Climbing into bed rather than jumping on the bed is an interesting thing. Wrap doesn't climb or jump, instead she leaps. With age she continues to come closer and closer to the bed before making that leap, but it is still a leap. For some reason she has forbidden Sanity from leaping or even jumping. Sanity has no intentions of crawling and so she uses the chest at the foot of the bed as a step stool and climbs in. It seems to work well for the both of them and I don't much care.

Did the hold today under what I would call "extreme duress". 15 seconds, no hands on her and her dealing with Leo all but breathing down her neck, Spirit banging into her and some of the other dogs doing a screaming squirrel dance. What a good job.

Now about that squirrel. I don't know who finally caught it. I don't even know exactly when it was caught. What I do know is the Sanity was the one to end up with it. By the time she thought to bring it to me it was very, very dead. Not only dead, but all gooey and slimy and covered in dirt, bits of twigs, leaves. A totally yuck sort of thing. I figured it was just the time to start teaching a "spit" command. No way did I want her to "give" that thing to me. Nope, I wanted it spit in the pooperscoper shovel. After several minutes of her pretty much saying, "you gotta be kidding" she grudgingly spit the carcass out. Good, good girl.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Day 73

While today was a normal quite Sunday, we did work on the retrieve and something new. The hold was truly a full 15 seconds today. In fact, she managed to do it 3 times. Of course, there were some goofs in between the good ones, however we did end on the good note of two good holds in a row. Later on her 6 inch reach was challenged by my not holding the dumbbell in front of her muzzle a single time. She finally realized she really does need to move her head from side to side as well as up or down.

The new thing. I have once again, gotten it in my head that I should try to learn this clicker/treat stuff so many prattle on and on about. So since I need to teach Sanity the command "touch" I decided I would try using a clicker and treats to teach it. I confess that neither of us is overly impressed with the results. First there was the time spent teaching her to view the noise of the clicker as a good thing. I actually spent the better part of an hour on that. Worked on it for about 20 minutes Saturday evening and then off and on all of this morning. Ok, so she is no longer flinching away when she hears the click.

In the afternoon I moved on to the next step. My goal is to get her to touch her nose to any object I target with my finger, all thought I am considering switching to a pointer. More on that later. For now, I want her to touch her nose to a small, covered plastic container that actually has treats stored in it. Seems pretty straight forward, but for one thing; neither of us can figure out what the other wants. I placed the container on the floor. In the normal course of events, Sanity moved right in to check it out. Her nose touched it, I clicked and handed her a very small treat. She thought that was nice, thanked me and wandered off to chew on her favorite ball. I waited and waited and waited. Ten or more minutes later, she got up, wandered over to the container and touched it with her nose. I clicked and gave her a tiny treat. She said thank you, ate the treat and went to her bed, lied down and closed her eyes. It was at least 30 minutes before she wandered passed that blasted container again and she didn't give it so much as a glance.

Not a very encouraging beginning. I will give it an honest try for a full week before I toss in the towel once again and go back to teaching the touch the way I know. To have done it the way I normally teach it would have meant we would have the beginning stages complete and be moving into more complex patterns. I shall continue to tell myself it isn't the dog, it isn't the equipment and it is the trainer. We shall see.

Meanwhile on a "give me a behavior" thread, I was wrapping a package for shipment and dropped the roll of shipping tape. It landed on the floor half way between Wrap and Sanity. In a normal, conversational voice I said, "Will someone please pick that up for me?"

Wrap groaned and got slowly out of her bed to reach for it. Sanity leapt up and charged it. Wrap was in the process of picking it up when Sanity took it out of her mouth and turned to bring it to me. Wrap sighed and went back to bed, I just sat there with my mouth hanging open. "Thank you. Sanity, thank you for helping." She wagged her stump and seemed to smile. Not bad, not bad at all.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Day 72

Saturday morning started with Sanity working as a loose dog in the park. She got plenty of practice on both come and sit. Her distance sit is starting to take shape and she is now halting and sitting anywhere from 6 to 8 feet away when I give the sit command. Unfortunately right now she is of the firm opinion that the sit following come must be executed between my legs. Sure will be glad when that phase passes.

We took a break between 10 and 11 and both came inside to napped. Then at 11 it was back to doing the loose dog in the park number once again. Lunch for me with some play for Sanity followed. The 1 p.m. class started out with a demo on using the throw chain rather than the ecollar to reinforce a recall. That was a total and complete bust. Sanity never, ever got far enough away or so engrossed in a distraction that she couldn't/wouldn't hear and respond to a soft "come" command. Ah well, in the training department I hope I never have anything more serious to complain about where she is concerned.

Her reaching for the dumbbell at 6 inches is moving right along. Even the other dogs don't pose much of a distraction. The hold is now truly shaping into a hold and today she managed a 15 second hold for the first time.