Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Day 222

Sanity is 10 months old today. And that means she is another month closer to being a good working partner instead of the "you can't tell me what to do" girl.

With his new hair do and the fact that Sanity has just about totally knocked the bong out of him, Tyler is now able to be out in the yard with all the other dogs. Well, he is able to be out with the Tuesday dogs. I still won't let him out with the Thursday or Friday dogs. He doesn't need to know that part. Right now he does his best to stick with Sanity and do exactly what she does. He is also wearing a long string again to help him understand that he HAS to come each and every single time he is called.

Since the pans from last night's dinner had not been picked up, when we went in the breakfast room, Wrap immediately grabbed one and handed it to me. Sanity made a pass at the other and then changed her mind. I insisted she fetch it. She keeps trying to pick it up by the near edge rather than the far edge. This makes the pickup really difficult and so she doesn't want to do it. I insisted. She finally managed and sure enough, she doesn't want to lift up her head. Of course with the way she is holding the pan, lifting her head really isn't much of an option. I let her off the hook butI then turned around and made her fetch and hold that very same pan the right way.

Tyler got a dry food breakfast only this morning because I have been worrying about his not getting enough crunchy in his diet. Sanity got her little paper bowl of food and Wrap got her normal morning cookie. After finishing her food Sanity picked up the bowl and brought it to the kitchen. She then proceeded to try to start a game of keep-away with me. I don't do keep-away games. So we are back to arguing over how, why, when and where she is going to do this fetch. She was on the rug. I told her to sit. She sat and as she sat she spat out the bowl. I told her to fetch. She stood up, fetched the bowl and refused to sit and give it to me. I enforced the sit command. She spat out the bowl. I enforced the fetch command and she managed to fetch and sit. Of course, true to her current behavior she tucked her chin in and turned her head away. I wonder if this is the reason I go to bed at night so tired?

I had a doctor's appointment today. For the very first time Sanity went along. She did great. After the doctor's appointment I then had to go to the Lab for a blood draw. Again, she did great. She was very interested in everything and everyone. Walked around with her brow all wrinkled in that way she has when she is working hard to take in everything at once and do a major information brain dump at the same time.

By the time we got home it was time to exercise and then feed everyone. And now we are both too tired to do articles this evening. Guess I should have tried to figure out a way to have done them earlier. But missing a day every now and again shouldn't be too bad for the schedule.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Day 221

Monday morning and we are up, dressed and outside by 5:45 a.m. That included all of us. Amy who insisted it was warmer than last night, me who insisted it is colder than last night and all the dogs. Wrap and Sanity took off a top speed to do a full parameter fence check leaving the rest of us to mill around. Tyler figured since he couldn't keep up with the Dobes he would just worry Desi and poor Desi didn't know where to turn. After a time we all went back inside to warm up and the day officially began.

In keeping with a promise made as a response to a post about yesterday's blog I am going to add a whole bunch of stuff that up to this point I had been leaving out. Specifically all the challenges going on between Sanity and this very determined person.

I don't even remember why now, but for some reason I have gotten into the habit of feeding Sanity a small morning meal in a paper bowl rather than one of the normal stainless steel pans. Goodness knows, there is really no reason for her to not be able to retrieve that bowl. In fact, she has no problem picking it up and carrying it around, tossing it in the air, stomping on it, ripping and tearing it, chasing the resulting pieces. She just hates having to retrieve it. Mind you in the beginning she was super proud of her ability to retrieve it and bring it to the kitchen.

Most mornings are like this one. I tell her to fetch the bowl. She glares at me with that sideways look and grudgingly picks up the bowl. I head for the kitchen with her lagging along behind me. In the kitchen I am faced with repeating fetch or telling her to come. Either way I will get her around the island and in front of me. Now she is on the little rug that is there just so the dogs can sit and do a delivery to hand without their butts slipping on the floor. She stands and refuses to look at me.

I give a sit command. She spits out the bowl and sits. I tell her to fetch. She gets up from the sit and fetches. She then won't sit until I tell her to or until I correct her at which point she will sit as she spits out the bowl. I correct her. She fetches the bowl again and this time sits only to hang her head and try to tuck in her chin. Most times I don't have a leash handy so I grab the dishtowel and with a quick twist end up with a usable tool. This gets gently hooked under her chin and she has no choice but to lift her head. We hold the position until she finally makes eye contact. At that point I say give and take the bowl from her. Battle won by me and the tension goes out of the air. She will now do what she is supposed to do or what I tell her to do for about two hours. This gal is not for the faint of heart.

Watched Callie (Newfie) working articles this morning during the lesson I can see she is just about to the challenge stage. After she did two correct ones with only a single mistake, Paul wanted to do pretty much what I had done on Saturday. I warned him of the problems he was going to run into. Sure enough it was another 30 minutes before we got another correct find. In between those two finds, Callie sat, she refused to go out, she stood and stared at the ceiling, she glared at me, she laid down on both articles, she stood on the correct article. Finally she went out when told, sniffed and picked the correct article and brought it back. It seems to me that every dog/owner team has to go through this at least once.

We moved on to Sanity. She went right out, sniffed picked up the correct article and then tossed it in the air and pounced on it as it was landing. Of course I moved in and corrected. I just wish my body would agree to move as fast as my mind tells it to cause that way the toss and pounce would not have had the time to happen. Ah well.

Having been corrected for her gaming, she then tried to go to Paul on the next send. That didn't work. The next time she grabbed the first one she came to and got corrected because it was the wrong one. Then we had a success. Next time I sent her she went to the correct article and using one paw knocked it across the room like a hockey puck. And so it went for the next three sends. Finally a correct find and retrieve. In each and every single case, the correct retrieves were totally correct including a straight sit front and her head up, eyes meeting mine with a good steady hold and give. Every single incorrect retrieve, even when corrected to become correct ended with the head down, chin tucked and a disinclination to want to put it in my hand.

She then turned around and gave me a wonderful fast, straight, nice front, good sit, strong and steady hold retrieve on the flat with her dumbbell. And followed that by insisting she had never, ever seen my cane before in her entire life.

I went out to take care of some things in the yard in the afternoon. The thing I worry about the most happened. My fault, it was totally my fault. I figured that I could get away without my cane. Bad. One of the dogs knocked me down. Not on purpose, shoot I very much doubt that dog even realized what had happened. Now when something like that does happen it is my dog's job to help me back up. Wrap was in the house so there was no way she was going to be showing up to chase away all the other dogs and help me. The burden fell to Sanity.

Sanity did come a'running. But once there she began to dance around and dither. I call her. She came up, licked my face and danced back. I call her again and this time told her to stand.

Oops! She is not doing stands right now according to her. It is the exercise where she will try to do a down. Okay, so a forward command, some collar guidance and another stand command got her to the right location and facing in the right direction. But she was in a down again. I sort of poked her in the belly with a finger and said stand once again. She stood. I started to position my hands and sure enough she started to go down again. Only this time, I tell her, "Ok, if you want to be a foot stool that's fine with me. You are still tall enough for me to use."

She was half way between a stand and a down and she just froze like a statue. It was almost as if a switch had been thrown in her brain. Her eyes got really big and she carefully turned her head just enough to watch. I glanced at her and sure enough her brow was full of furrows; a sure sign she is thinking.

Once I was on my feet she stayed close enough for me to use her for balance and slowly walked with me back to the house. Sixty seconds after I made it into the house she was back out in the yard chasing and teasing Sage. It's times like this when I would love to really know what is going on in that amazing brain of hers.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Day 220

Had overnight company last night and all Lucile's hard work from a couple of weeks ago paid off. Sanity didn't insist there was a trespasser even one time. However, she did do the cold nose to the face routine at least a couple of times.

Amy was the overnight company and she was here with a 4 month old liver colored Flat Coated Retriever. If you look at the picture very closely you can sort of tell there is something besides mulch in Tyler's line of interest.More to the point, that dark brown splotch is a Flat-Coat pup and not just darker mulch. In just one week, Tyler has learned to have a very high opinion of himself. Here Sanity supervises Kong carrying.

The outside time over we headed back inside to develop a new Tyler. Here is the before picture. I call this the "fluffy puppy look". Most of the other dogs call it the "what the H is that" look.

Here is the after look or more to the point a look that the other dogs actually view as just a regular sort of guy look.

Later Amy helped me with articles and got to see first hand what is going on. At one point she almost had to leave the room because of the need to laugh. The bratty teenager has now reached the point where she was going out nosing the correct article, glaring at me, moving over to Amy, sniffing, and then going back to the pile and deliberately and with great care picking up the article Amy had scented. And so the argument continues. Of course we continued to work until there were two successful finds.

Now the really interesting thing that has developed. When she goes out, sniffs, picks up my article and brings it back, she sits straight and holds her head up, making eye contact and is quite pleased with herself. Then she will turn around, go back out and chose the taboo article, get corrected, pick up the correct article and when she comes back she will hang her head and do her best to make it impossible for me to even reach the article in her mouth. I have taken to gently looping the leash under her chin and pulling her head up so she is making eye contact. The does annoy her, but it also gets my message across without my having to touch her. Right now, it would almost seem as if just about any form of touch is taken as a win for her side.

Over all, it is interesting to watch the progress since I never hurry, don't raise my voice, get flustered or angry. Meanwhile, she pushes, she pouts, she leaps with joy, she play bows, she spins in circles, she stands like a statue with her eyes closed and every so often she just trots right out there, sniff, picks up the correct article and trots back to me. So another training day comes to an end.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Day 219

At the close of the Saturday morning retrieve class I ask for someone to put out the articles for me. Instead of working the 1 and 3 or 2 and 4 o'clock positions, I decided to move back to 12 and 2. After a refusal and then a wrong selection driven by her not appearing to use her nose she got the 12 o'clock position. The article was placed in the 2 o'clock position and she got it right away.

There was some discussion with a couple of my students about what was going on and foolish person that I am I made a tactical error. I didn't quit while I was ahead. Instead I had the article placed at 11 o'clock. I really did try to think strong positive thoughts, but all for naught. It was thirty minutes and many false starts, corrections, and refusals before we had another success. Believe me when I say I sure was happy to see that success and most definitely quit. The refusals were pretty much evenly split between her refusal to work and my refusal to quit. Just goes to show how wise it is to quit with the two successed and not try for more at this point.

There is an interesting power struggle going on between the two of us. It is really showing up big time with this scent work. She will go out sniff, indicate the correct article and the give me what I call "The Look". This look pretty much continues to mean, "I know what you want me to do and I am not going to do it."

Meanwhile, she and Tyler are getting along better and better. Sort of worried me. I am starting to have nightmares about the two of them teaming up and managing to outsmart me all together. Now that is a scary thought.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Day 218

Friday and today was also a hair cut day for me. Miss Sanity continues to push and push. I say sit and she does a down. I enforce the sit. I say down and she does a sit. I enforce the down. She turns her back on all of us. Just like in the CAC meeting on Tuesday evening, everyone is highly amused by her "teenage" behavior and my complaining about how much I "hate teenagers". I tell her to fetch my cane for me and she picks it up, swings around with it in her mouth, whacks Michael (who has just finished cutting my hair) in the shins with it, drops it and then claims she can't possibly pick it up ever again. This is going to be a long couple of months.

Back home and Randy, the Photo-Journalist is back to take some more pictures. He wants pictures of me with my dogs as what he calls portrait shots and he wants a few more close-up action shots. I simply told him I a way too much of a weather weenie to go outside and pose for anything other than that of a dying Eskimo. So we go downstairs to the studio to shoot. I have no idea how the portrait shots turned out, BUT I did get to see some of the action shots and they are totally great!

He managed to catch Sanity in the air almost every single time she jumped and some of her moves were awesome. He has promised to make me a disk and when I have my hands on it, I will post some of the better shots. More than once she managed enough lift to carry her all the way to the ceiling. Granted it is a low ceiling, but, not THAT low.

Scent work is still dragging and I am moving backwards as far as the article placement goes. At 12 and then 1 o'clock, she is going out, sniffing and then either standing there doing nothing until I finally move in to correct for lack of work or she hits on the correct one, knocks it away and insists on trying to bring back the taboo article. And so we limp along slowly moving towards the goal of doing the entire clock.

No matter how it is set up it still takes a solid month or more of working with just 2 articles before the idea is firmly implanted.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day 217

Well, at least we got the sun back and it wasn't quite as damp/cold as Wednesday. Noticed that there is all sorts of green things starting to poke through the ground, so maybe there is hope for Spring after all.

Had a lesson with a couple who had insisted they only wanted lessons on how to use their newly purchased ecollar to stop their dog from chasing deer. I just don't have the words to tell how much I hate that. Here we have this very sophisticated training tool that can be used with the precision of a fine scalpel and some people only want to learn how to use it as a club. Then it turned out that the husband wanted to use it and the wife didn't. Gee, why am I not surprised? How do you deal with 18 months of warm and fuzzy, food and toys and never any responsibility style of thinking? Sometimes I almost feel as if I am really engaged in some sort of deprograming/undo the brain-washing project instead of training dogs.

After I listen to why they(she) doesn't want to have to shock her dog and watched her become more and more unhappy about not being allowed to pet or coddle or talk the dog I finally got to point out that the dog was now lying calmly and quietly on the floor right beside them. There was no tension, no fidgeting, no panting, just a calm and relaxed dog. So I said, "Now can we move on with the training?"

After it was firmly established that this mean and nasty ecollar was no big deal and that either one of them could comfortably hold it in their hand while I SHOCKED them, they both agreed it wasn't a shocking experience after all. The lesson proceeded, we moved outside. Dog got worked. Dog worked just fine. Dog started coming when called even when there were other dogs teasing. Lesson ended. Dog got put back in the car and we went back in the house for a final wind up.

I get to hear, "but when do we get to praise her?"

"DUH?" That question never ceases to stump me. "What do you think was going on when the side of her head was gently stroked?"

"Okay, but when do we get to really praise?"

"Oh, you mean throw a party, hoot and holler, jump about and clap your hands." yup, that was exactly what was meant and my answer was to say, "What was your totally worst subject in collage?"

The answer was, "Math."

"Oh. That was my worst subject and it still is. So okay, you are in your math class and struggling to figure out a problem. You have just reached the point where you are getting it right. The professor comes up, looks over your shoulder and seeing that you are on the right track, gently pats your shoulder twice and in a low whisper tells you you are on the right track and to keep going." With that I jumped up and demonstrated by playing the part of the professor.

Then I said, "Now what if the professor comes up, looks over your shoulder, sees you are starting to succeed and begins to hoop, holler, leap about, clap hands and shout to all the rest of the class", and with that I start jumping around, clapping my hands, slapping her on the back, shouting how great a job she is doing and the I stop. "Does that sort of praise make it easier for you to learn and remember?"

I received a look of horror and a look that said very clearly, "that was awful and I might leave the room." Actually she looked like that is exactly what she wanted to do. Of course that was my point and I asked if maybe there was a chance that the dog might feel exactly the same way. The light went on in her eyes. Glory! Hallelujah!

And then I just couldn't resist, the bad side made me do it. I just had to ask how the past months of training had made her feel. This question needed some interpretation and then came the answer.


Lesson over and owners scheduled for at least two more lessons, the day moved on.

Next was a Photo-Journalist who came to do the beginning interview for a piece he is working on. At least Sanity managed to go to her place when told. Of course, with her current mind set that meant she went to her place when told about 20 times. Seems that the idea of staying there has leaked out and she thinks if she does a low crawl I won't notice or mind that she is now trying to sniff the guy's ankle UNDER his pants cuff. GRRRR! In between my sending her back to her place, there was Tyler. Tyler who was just totally convinced that he is just so cute he can jump up, paw and generally make a nuisance of himself. NOT!! In spite of the training that had to go on, the interview move along.

After a bit I put Tyler in a crate so we could go outside and so some stuff with the big dogs. Shoot, just about every dog here was better behaved that Sanity. Now the question becomes...will she live to see 1 year? Huh? Huh? Should I change her name to Insanity? Yes, maybe that will do the trick. The capper was when she actually tried to steal his camera. I don't believe her, I really don't.

Evening and class. The Photo-journalist is in the parking lot waiting for us when we get to class. He wanders around taking pictures of just about everyone and everything during the entire class. After I dismiss the Novice class the advanced students hurried up and set up all the jumps and gave him an chance to get some shots of the dogs jumping, retrieving and doing scent work.

By 9:30 when I am now back home and have Tyler, Sanity and Wrap out for a last walk I am about to fall on my face. Just don't understand why.

And before I forget, I moved Sanity back to the 1 o'clock/3 o'clock positions and think I will keep her there until she stops the fooling around. Actually, I just may start backing up and going back to positions she has already done. We will get to the 3 o'clock to 8 o'clock positions in good time. Gotta keep on reminding myself, "She is a puppy. She is a puppy. A pain-in-the-ass sometimes, but still a puppy."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Day 216

Wet, cold and snow. The entire day was dark and dreary and I just couldn't get out of my own way. Sanity is hung up at the 3 - 5 o'clock positions and just wants to go out and knock them both around and come back without anything.

About the only good than about the day was watching Tyler and Caesar play and even they got grumpy towards the end. We need Spring and sun and warmth pretty darn fast here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Day 215

It really wasn't a bad day, just a draining one. Monday and Tuesday dogs here since yesterday was a holiday for most people. Then one of those classes that a person wouldn't even wish on their worst enemy. Well, maybe on their worst enemy on a bad day. At least I had sense enough to suspect it was going to be that sort of class and put all the dogs up before they got here. I didn't even use Wrap or Sanity as helpers. Now that is really a bad situation, indeed.

Tyler actually spent some time outside in the big kennel run while everyone else crowded around trying to figure the new kid out. At first, he hung back and just watched the pack. After a bit, he got his "sea legs" and began to come up to the fence and check out each dog, one at a time. It will be some time before he can run with the big dogs. His frolicking gait, scampering and bouncing just isn't seen as dog, so until he matures into a dog he will run separately from all but a carefully chosen few.

I managed one sorry session with scent work. We are stuck at 3 o'clock/5 o'clock and I fear may be there for a time. Oh well, at least it will make me work harder on fixing all the goofing off problems.

The work with the metal articles is starting to pay off in other areas. She is starting to get the idea that fetching the metal food pans is something that can be done. Her problem right now is that she still hasn't figured out how to pick them up and carry them correctly. I know that will come as she gains more experience.

Went to a meeting of the Citizen's Advisory Committee I sit on and decided that I really hate teenaged dogs. Actually, right about now I suspect I don't like teenagers of either species but dogs are way up there at the top of my list. We go in the conference room and I tell her to go under.

She gets that look that says, "make me". I don't let her down.

Then I tell her to down. She says, "I don't have to since I went under the table for you."

I say, "You want'ta bet?"

After she is down I look up to see that everyone else is watching this little interchange with amused looks. All I can say is, "I hate teenagers." And everyone starts laughing. They have all seen her much better mannered and behaved just a couple of months ago.

I'm just plain tired now.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Day 214

Monday - President's Day has turned out to be something of a holiday for us. One consultation in the morning and then just the dogs coming in to board or leaving to go home. Sanity seems to be feeling better about Tyler and showed some signs of "ownership" today. Caesar was here today for a half day of day care. He and Tyler started getting to know one another while Sanity hovered around the edges making sure everything was going the right way. I think Sanity is going to grow up to be a really great Yard Boss. She got the situation sorted out with only a little bit of help from me and it really wasn't long before the two were able to go off on their own.

Inside time was well spent helping Tyler learn patience via a variation of my "sit on the dog" training. In this case, Tyler was introduced to a very light weight bench chain and the idea of just hanging out in the office with me and any other dogs who happen to be doing the office scene. This just about always included Wrap and Sanity as well as various and sundry other small dogs.

On the scent front we continue to limp along with her getting the 3 o'clock position right while cutting down on her fooling around when out there looking. However, she is totally committed to NOT touching or even sniffing the article when it is at 5 o'clock. Looks like this is going to be the tough wall. Glad it is happening now rather than after I have added additional taboo articles.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Day 213

Sunday,it is freezing cold and the furnace is broken. All we have for heat are a couple of little space heaters. The furnace quit at about 11 p.m. last night. I have already put in one call pleading for help and suspect that in an hour or so I will repeat the call and then will most likely continue repeating the call until I manage to find help. Why? Why, oh will someone please tell me why the furnace breaks on the coldest night of the entire year?

Put in the second call an hour after the first call and about 20 minutes later I heard from our savior. Let's all stand up and give a shout for the small family run business. Mel Muir, wonderful man of Muir Service, a true service company with real old fashioned values. He just laughed when he heard our plight and was here to fix the problem in less than an hour. I do feel sorry for all you folks who have to deal with the large, soulless companies who want your money in exchange for nothing or next to nothing.

Since it turned out to be warmer outside than inside I bundled up and went out to take a few pictures. Here is what I managed, before stiffness made it impossible to push the shutter button:

This picture needs an explanation. I was handling the camera and Sanity was the one handling the "string". She was taking Tyler for his first walk. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't seem to get both of them in the same picture.

Here he is on a mission to who knows were to do who knows what?

He is finally figuring out that bouncing like a ball may be fun, but you don't get very far. He finally gave up the bounce and settled into a run.

I think this shot, no I know this shot was the best I could do at properly showing him off. Isn't he lovely? Look long and hard at all that puppy coat, cause it won't be here for long. No time nor patience to groom when I could be training.

And least you make the mistake of thinking he was out in the yard alone, here he is sharing some good smells with Sanity. __________________________________

I knew it had to hit sooner or later and it looks like the 5 o'clock position is the beginning of the stumbling block. Send Sanity for the article when it is in the 3 o'clock position and there is no trouble in finding it. But there is that hint of a problem hovering around the edges, because she goes right out, sniffs and then begins to knock the article around with her foot and then flips it a couple of times with her mouth before she picks it up and brings it back to me. Move to the 5 o'clock position and she insists she needs to bring back the taboo article. The thing about it is that there is absolutely NO sniffing going on at that point.

I sort of get the feeling the positions between 5 and 9 o'clock are going to be a battle. And here I was hoping we would just slip on around the clock without too much of a problem. Ah well, better to get this over with now that to let it build into a serious problem.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Day 212

Grey and damp Saturday. The temperature continued to fall all day long. It is not going to be a cold night, but rather a very, very cold night.

At the end of the retrieve class I set up the scent discrimination test. The distractions were the other class dogs milling and playing right in the area where we were to work. People walking around, talking to each other and to their dogs. The article locations were 1 and 3 o'clock. She shot out on the first command and found the correct article without a single hitch. Two sends, two finds, test passed with 100%.

Later in the day I set up for another session and this time the correct article was placed at 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock. Oh, she went out just fine. It was just that once she got there she either chose the taboo article or tried to "play" with the correct article. It took several sends before we managed the two correct finds and they were most definitely not consecutively finds. We are now at the half way point on the clock face and her entire approach has changed from "not going out there and make a decision" to "okay, I'll go out there and do something".

We got a new addition to the household in the early afternoon. A four month old Miniature Poodle named Tyler. He is black. He is beautiful. He is hopefully going to be my friend Lauren's next service dog. We know he will be the right size. It is easy to see he has the confidence and being a Miniature Poodle, I'm betting he will have the brains. All that really remains to be seen is, will he like and want to spend his life doing service dog work? If not, then he will go back home to North Carolina and become a show dog. What a wonderful breeder he has. She is willing to let him have a shot at an important job first and only offer him the show dog thing if he decides he doesn't want the responsibility and challenges of working assistance dog. Only time will tell how this will play out.

Me? I'm betting he chooses to stay here and to work as a real dog. In any case, for at least a time it looks like this is going to become a ST blog. As in Sanity and Tyler. If he chooses to stay and go to work for Lauren, since he will be replacing the retiring Bitsy they will become the BLT home.

Here is a picture of Lauren and Bitsy getting to know Tyler.

Wondering about how Sanity is taking the idea of no longer being the baby? Easy. She tried to piss on his head last night, woke the fire breathing dragon, and by bedtime had decided it was going to be interesting and probable ok. Meanwhile, in the background the fire breathing dragon continued to mutter, "You best believe it will be more than just ok."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Day 211

I could just kick myself. Was outside this morning doing the yard clean-up and didn't have my camera. Of course this meant I missed the most fantastic set of pictures in the world. Sanity was leading one of the "everyone's included" wild chases around the yard. There were 12 dogs involved and most were trailing way behind. Only Trevor the adult GSD was even close and he was way more than close, he was hot on her heels. (I'm going to try and get some mulch pile pictures tomorrow).

The mulch pile was just refreshed and is really tall. Sanity shot to the top with Trevor only inches from her butt. Once she crested the top she launched herself up and out and out and out. That was truly a breathtaking leap and she knew exactly what she was doing and exactly were she was going. She landed neat as a pin almost all the way to the privacy fence, two more short leaps and a pivot brought her to the wheelbarrow leaning against the fence and she ducked behind it and then peeked out the other side. Too funny.

Meanwhile, back to Trevor who had to come back down the mulch pile the more prosaic way. This meant he was looking down when she totally disappeared off the radar. When he got to the bottom, he just stopped dead in his tracks and the look on his face was priceless. "DUH? Where'd she go? Where'd she go? Damnit, how does that little bitch do that?" To make matters even funnier he took off looking for her going in...can you guess? It was the wrong direction all together.

Meanwhile, she came out of her hiding spot, slipped up behind him and pinched him on the butt and the chase was on again. It just wasn't as fast and the other dogs had all dropped out since it appeared to me that Sanity had won yet again. I have got to get a camcorder.

Later she and I went off to do our usual Friday morning with Janene. Today, for the first time, she started standing by the door, ducking her head and putting in the pack when I held it out. Neat. Today, for the first time, her heel position was actually almost a real heel position. (for those of you who maybe wondering about that comment: please remember that she is working off leash and is still only a 9 month old pup. Heel position is very much relative to your ability and hers is coming along nicely.)

Once inside and settled on her rug, she proceeded to fall fast asleep. A state she remained in until it was time to leave. She never noticed nor stirred when a friend joined us and even moved the chair next to her head. In fact, she was so fast asleep that when it was time to leave it took her a few minutes to get herself together and into some sort of working mode. Now that is what I call relaxed.

For one reason or another I let the day slip by and it wasn't until 9 p.m. before we finally managed to get in a sorry single working session with the articles. However, the only thing sorry about it was the lateness of the hour and that there was only one session.

The taboo article was put out and then the correct article was placed at 1 o'clock. Almost before the word "Find" was free of my lips she was out there, had sniffed both and had the correct one in her mouth and was on her way back to me. WOW! The second time the article was placed at 3 o'clock. Again, she moved at once and with full confidence to the two, sniffed, picked up the correct one and was on her way back. Zip, zip, bang and the training session was over.

Making sure the young dog gets enough physical exercise is key to successful training.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Day 210

This morning we started out with scent work since I wanted to take advantage of new help. (thanks, Jen) Sanity worked the 12 o'clock position without a single hitch. So when afternoon rolled around I moved on to the 1 o'clock 3 o'clock position. She was a little shaky but managed to get in two good ones after only a couple of false starts that required me to correct her. She is starting to heed verbal corrections now and I suspect I will be moving to the ecollar all together before too much longer.

This evenings class was like one being taught under water. Everyone and everything was just so slow and sort of dead. I know I hurt so much if it wasn't my responsibility to unlock the building and run the Utility class I would have begged to stay home. I couldn't seem to make myself focus properly so wasn't the least bit surprised when Sanity had a really difficult time with her focus and her ability to remember she needs to use her nose to figure out which article is which. She did manage to figure it out in the end.

One nice thing I noticed is that she is becoming more in tune to my needs and really kept a close eye on me. I take that to be a good sign. I did try to work her in Diane's class only to darn near wipe out half the class at one point or another. That is when I realized I needed to get off the training floor since I was turning into a menace. So I did. Somehow we made it through the Utility class and then home and bed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Day 209

I did it! I figured it out! Granted this has nothing to do with training Sanity, but trying to self-teach myself how to write the blasted program code for this site has been a major pain. Note the side column and the new addition. Yes, I realize it isn't in the best font, nor is the layout the easiest to read, but it is there and I did it all by myself. WHOOPEE

Well what just happened beats all. Sanity just showed up at my desk with her ecollar in mouth. Do you sort of get the feeling that she wants me to stop with the keyboarding and come work her? Guess that is exactly what I will do.

Scent work: First session was 12 o'clock and 1 o'clock. No problem at all. No hesitation, if anything it was a little difficult getting her to stay put long enough to get the second article on the floor. She sees an article on the floor and is raring to go. So I think I can safely say her confidence is building nicely.

Second session was with a different helper and the positions were 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Again, no problem. She is almost too eager, but at the same time I can't complain too much since she is coming back with the correct article each time.

Third session and we were back to having Jesse (son) put out the taboo article. So now there were two familiar scents out there. She actually carefully worked (sniffed) both articles a couple of times before bringing back the right one. The positions were 12 o'clock and 2 o'clock. Tomorrow we will make a larger change in positions.

One thing I did notice about her sits. When she has had to actually think about which article she should choose her sit front and her finish are much better than when she just rushes out, grabs the correct article and rushes back to me. Don't know what, if anything that means, but it is interesting to observe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Day 208

Since Lucile went home and took her slippers and jar of Noxema with her I now have to put up with this minx bringing me my shoes and just about anything that isn't nailed down as her way of letting me know she wants to work.

Moved her on to the 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock position. Her behavior was most interesting. The major difference and problem today is that I am having a hard time getting her to sit still long enough for both articles to be put down and for me to give her the scent and then the command. She wants to fly out there without any waiting or instructions from me. Sure a change for the past few days when all she wanted to do was be elsewhere.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Day 207

Monday, it's cold and the ground is covered with all that nasty white stuff. No training outside this day and with the county schools closed there will be no group class this evening.

Of course the matter of a "little" snow certainly didn't stop the Newfies from showing up for their class. Sanity worked her two articles twice and by the second set was working more comfortably with the 11 and 12 o'clock positions. Spent some time during the afternoon working her on all three jumps. Then managed a few flat retrieves and a couple of retrieves over the jump. For the most part I will be working the three jumps as a training set for the next several weeks.

One change I just noticed today. After spending weeks and weeks fighting with her over just what, when and how heel position and come position are to happen, she is all of a sudden giving me straight and correct sits in both positions more than 50% of the time.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Day 206

Snow. Ten inches of nasty, cold, slippery white stuff that most likely won't go away for days and days. I hate snow. When it snows I don't even want to stick my nose out. That being the case I am sorry to report there are no pictures of how this crazy puppy greeted the arrival of the first big snow of the winter.

Keep in mind that every Doberman I have ever owned has felt exactly the same way I do about the evil white stuff. Every Doberman that is until this one. This one seems to think it is very fine stuff. She was quite happy to go out and run, jump, spin, twirl, do back flips, and nose dives. She ate it and yes she even peed in it. Unbelievable, just totally unbelievable.

On the training front, it will be a while before I take a training day off on that we have started scent work. We got in two sessions today and again she struggled with the taboo scent. This time it was my son who scented up the taboo article. Then since I knew she really didn't get enough outside activity we went down to the studio and worked on the broad jump, high jump, retrieve over the high jump and the retrieve on the flat. Right now what I am seeing as a down side is my lack of stamina. She would have been good for a good solid hour long work-out and I pooped out after only thirty minutes. On the up side, you are supposed to leave them wanting more and I sure don't have to worry about over working this one.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Day 205

Lucile and the Six Pack left yesterday with the plan being that they make it back up their mountain in West Virginia before the snow storm hits. Meanwhile, Sanity shot out of bed this morning and flew around the house checking to see just who was and wasn't here.

I have a house plant who is currently facing yet another puppy pruning in its long life with me. At this point I am looking to move it to a safer place before it becomes much too one-sided. This particular plant is more than 40 years old. I inherited it from my first husband's grandmother, it was old then and I have had it for 30+ years. It is just a plain vanilla peace Lilly but big, really big. Besides which I am sort of attached to it. I don't have a clue as to why each and every single Doberman pup I have ever owned at some point or another seems to feel the need to grab pieces of it on the fly, but they all do. When that happens I just move it to a safer location until the madness passes, which it does.

Managed to get in two training sessions with the articles at 11 and 12 o'clock respectively. Right now all I have to do is move from one side of the training room to another and she is certain she mustn't, shouldn't, wouldn't go out to the two article pile and make a choice. After a time, several false starts, a couple of corrections for just grabbing the first article she comes to, she starts using her nose and gets it right bam, bam. I am betting we stay with two metal articles for a full four weeks.

Had her do two boards/broad jump for a total of 10 times. Of course with it only being two boards and pushed so close together they almost touch she really doesn't have to put herself out at all. But with my not being able to do the running passes I have always done in the past, this will just have to do.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Day 204

No question about it, the protective gene has kicked in. Last night in class I had to resurrect one of my oldest commands. "Do that again and I will rip your face off" said while I have a very firm grasp of the muzzle, and with my face, teeth bared, right in her face. I suspect that I will be making that correction at least a couple of times a day for the next month or so. By then she will have gotten the necessary exposure to all sort of stuff and will have learned how to tell the difference from something that is just different, benign but out-of-place or a threat to our safety.

Stranger on scooter, coming out of an office fell into that category. Hackle up and growl. Find out you are about to have your face ripped off by the big boss. Jump out of van, spot an empty crate in the parking lot where it "shouldn't" be, hackle up and growl. Get laughed at and told to "get over it". Once she has enough experience under her belt to show proper discernment, she is truly going to be awesome. I love her boldness even if it is frequently misplaced right now.

The change was made and when she was sent for the first article at 11 o'clock, she moved out fast, sure and picked it up and returned. Trouble was she didn't bother to do any sniff test at all. Sort of what I had figured would happen. Then the article was placed at 12 o'clock. Out she shoots, stops dead in her tracks, looks and then sure enough picks the taboo article. This mistake was repeated 4 times in a row before it occurred to her to actually sniff the two articles. Once she did that she managed to get the correct one.

I had her repeat that one on the grounds that since I had started to move in to correct and I am too slow these days and she is too fast the original intent on her part had been to grab the taboo article. I think it was a good choice on my part since the second time she very carefully sniffed both articles and then rather pointedly selected the correct one. That makes it a good place to stop.


Friday is always nail and errand day. One of our stops was to Radio Shack for some batteries for my camera. Since the package was light and easy to carry I thought to have Sanity carry it out to the van for me. UGH! Only my being more stubborn than she made it happen. It was a case of take the package in mouth, walk about 5 steps and then spit it out. Get told to retrieve it, do so and then walk an additional 5 or 6 steps and once again spit it out. This went on all the way out of the store, up the sidewalk and to the van. So that will not be repeated until we have done enough practice in private to make sure there won't be the need for a serious correction in public. Okay, so I goofed and jumped the gun with that one, but at least she didn't get to be successful about not carrying it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Day 203

The Six Pack is still here. Sanity has learned to deal with the idea of someone sleeping in the living room and another dog with special privileges. That part is going well, but...

She steals and she steals and she steals. She steals slippers. She steals Noxema face cream. She goes back and steals slippers. The slippers get hidden in Lucile's suitcase and Sanity opens the suitcase so she can steal them again. Now the jar of Noxema has tooth marks in it from her having to bite down to carry it around. I am doing a very bad thing because I am randomly rewarding her for bringing the stolen items to me and waiting patiently for me to notice that she is standing behind me when I am at the computer.

There really is a method to my madness where all this stealing is concerned. It is just one more way to instill not just a strong retrieve but a bring everything to me type of retrieve. After all, who knows? Some day maybe I'll want to do a Doberman Gang heist, one can never tell about such things.

Lucile's little Chinese Crested, Cougar, is holding her own with no trouble at all. However it is taking the total vigilance of both Lucile and I to make sure Cougar stays on the winning side. Sanity still views her as something of an interloper and continues to try and get in cheap shots a couple of times a day. These swipes are now completely and totally lacking in "heart" and appear to be more for forms sake than anything else. This is also the place where so many people get themselves and the dog in trouble. They think there is no longer a problem, when that is far from being the case. Lucile and I will continue our vigilance in this matter.

Scent work saw two correct retrieves in the a.m. and again in the afternoon. Next I used the small window of time before the Thursday evening group class started to get in a third session. This was a test session since it was a totally new location for this work, a new taboo scent, many dogs and people walking around or standing around watching. First time I sent her, she waffled around, went out sniffed both articles, started to return, went back sniffed again and then started the whole avoidance thing. "Maybe if I just sniff the floor all around I won't have to make a decision." is what her entire body language was saying.

That behavior always earns a correction straight to the correct article and that was that. Then next time my article was put out, I said find and she went at once and directly to the correct article with only the briefest of sniffs at the taboo article. Quite praise for a good job and we set up to do it again.

This time the article was put in a different location. She was almost on her way before I had a chance to say "find". Smallest of sniffs and she had the correct article and was back to me. So this meant for the third time I have been given 2 correct finds back-to-back. Tomorrow we will begin changing the location of the taboo article.
Footnote: I start the article part of scent work with the metal articles. The taboo article always acts as the "anchor" while the correct article is the one that moves. I use an imagery clock face to determine where the correct article will be placed. With Sanity we started with the correct article being placed at the 9 o'clock position for her first send and the 11 o'clock position for the second send. Tomorrow when we begin the change, the first send with be to an article that has been placed at 11 o'clock and the second article will be placed at the 12 o'clock position. That may not seem like much of a difference, but to the dogs it can be a major issue.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Day 202

This morning was nice and I say that with a question in my voice. With Lucile here I get the luxury of getting to laze around in the morning. But actually sleeping in is not allowed. Sanity just knowsthat if I am not up then at the very least I have to have my eyes open. Towards that goal she applies herself with great diligence. By 7:30 I had long sense given up, gotten up and dressed. If staying in bed late is that much work it just ain't worth it.

Off to the chiropractor to get my back straight again. This was Sanity's first visit to a doctor's office. She did pretty well. Managed to hold the down/stay over in the corner out of the way for most of the visit. The only time she misjudged was when I had to switch from one side to the other and she thought my movement meant we were leaving. A quick tap coupled with a down command and she was back where she was supposed to be.

Next was a stop at Home Depot to pick up a few things needed for the house or yard. She trotted around beside the big, noisy clunker of a store scooter just like a pro of many years.

Back home she just had to hang out in the kitchen while I got dinner started and then fixed us all some lunch. She is so curious and interested in every single thing that happens around here. I sort of lost count of the number of times she got her nose slapped away from being some place it didn't belong. Such is life of puppy.

Scent work. Having taken note yesterday of her starting to back up when the "find" command was given I made sure to position myself pretty much with my back to the wall when we set up to do this exercise. It is much easier to limit options at this stage than to allow a bad habit to get started or have to correct for the starting of a bad habit. It just makes me crazy when people let their dogs circle, circle, circle rather than doing the thing they were told to do.

So back to wall, I gave the first find command. Sure enough Sanity tried to back up and spin. Didn't work. She backed straight into the wall and bounced forward, some very mild, whispered voice encouragement sent her the rest of the way. Once out there she started to dither around and pretty quickly decided to simply return without the article. Time for a correction of the guidance variety. The next couple of attempts were pretty much the same thing. Then she took the command, went at once and straight to the correct article. I very much doubt there was any scent discrimination going on and am sure it was all based upon article placement. Doesn't matter at this point. What does matter is that I got to softly praise her for her choice.

On the next sent the article had been placed in a new position. She went out and grabbed up the taboo article. There was no sniffing at all, just a grab and go. I stepped in and corrected. The taboo article was re-scented and replaced. I sent her again. She said, "no, I'd rather not have to make a decision."

I said, "Oh yes, you must go out there and make a decision and you must do it without spinning of dithering." And so I corrected her out to the proper article. Twice more this happened and then blink! I gave the find command and she went straight to the two article pile without any hesitated. Once there she carefully sniffed both articles, picked up and returned with the correct one. Great! With two successes it was time to quit. Tomorrow will be another day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Day 201

She was finally so exhausted from running, working on new material and worrying about the demon and trespasser in the living room that she slept all the way through the night. Amazing!!

I had a new student start in the a.m. and was one again reminded why I must be careful to not let things become too much of a routine while Sanity is still very much in the beginning stages of her training. I was presented with two handlers and two dogs and had one intern (Lucile) to deal with for a lesson that has to be done inside in cold weather months. My office is simply not large enough, one of the two dogs as it turned out is very dog aggressive, though I didn't know that when I made my decision to do the session downstairs in the studio. In order to make it work we had to move the dog bed that my dogs use to a new location. A location Sanity was not familiar with and then to make matters more difficult the training table also had to be moved.

All these changes plus having to be on the same level as the dog who was threatening her was a very difficult task. She managed and did a pretty good job of it, but I know I must make sure to not let things get too comfortable for the next few months. I certainly don't want her becoming stiff and inflexible.

Her ability to respond to the sit command continues to improve and now I really need to focus on her understanding of how to hold a position (sit) and continue to turn in place to face me as I move about. She understands the stay part pretty well at this point. So the static sit is in place and the active sit is still in the building phase.

Scent work was interesting in that she was pretty determine to come back with the taboo article. Almost as if since she knows my scent it is the other scent she needs to be concerned with and about. She had to have help with the first two tries. The third try needed a flat out correction and then she got one right. Then there were several of the need help type followed by another need for correction and then wonder of wonders, she didn't just get it right, she was brilliant. Went straight to the pile when commanded, sniffed first the taboo article and then the correct article. Stopped, thought about it, sniffed both again and then picked up the correct article and brought it to me.

I confess, this scent work stuff is one of my favorite things to teach. Just watching the light bulb go on and seeing how the dog slowly blossoms into a serious worker is just a fine thing to be privileged to watch. Sigh, I am content.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Day 200

Two hundred days. I don't know why that seems like some sort of milestone but it does. Then I pause to think about it for a few minutes more and realize that we have been hitting all sorts of milestones here recently. Nine months of age and six months of training are two that pop into my mind.

A new behavior just really started to show itself in the last few days. I had seen it coming and was already in the process of heading it off. The arrival of the Six Pack seemed to be the final trigger and now for the next few weeks at the very least I will lock horns with Sanity on a daily basis about her behavior. The behavior I am talking about is what some would want to call aggression. It isn't...yet. It won't ever be. Why? Because I don't like that sort of behavior and don't allow it.

Back to what is happening right now. Sanity has just figured out that different growls and snarls and ugly faces get you different things in the dog's world. She is in the process of trying them all out and most of the time she uses the wrong sound and/or the wrong ugly face in her communication. My making my displeasure known in no uncertain terms is making it much easier for her to figure out what "words" are acceptable in polite society and what "words" are best left to the gutter dogs.

I think this is an excellent picture of what I have been struggling to put into words. You can see a smaller dog hustling to get out of the way. An older dog who knows the behavior isn't going to get out of hand and the two younger dogs in a wild play position that without supervision would have more than likely gotten out of control.


On the training front scent discrimination is moving right along. We had a chance to work two articles three different times today. The first time was really no big deal since there were practically no distractions in the training studio. But when we repeated the exercise again during the "Bits and Pieces" class this evening the distractions were a whole other kettle of fish. After a somewhat shaky start with Sanity actually behaving as if she had a bit of "stage fright". One of those times when she seemed to be a little bit shy of working in front of everyone. Interesting.

Here she is working in front of the class.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Day 199

For some today was Super Bowl Sunday and for others it was an excuse to gather together to socialize, play, chat, train. In this house the later was the order of the day. Learning good canine manners is an important part of growing into a well balanced, self-controlled, mannerly adult. Here is an example of Sanity showing proper respect towards her elders, even elders she doesn't know well at all.

One of the things this series of pictures is able to show is how she is able to maintain self control, respect and decorum. You see her following the rules that require a younger dog to lower themselves and move away in a slow and controlled manner. Thirty seconds later, Sanity was racing at top speed around the yard with some of the younger dogs. Sanity in the one in the middle, wearing the blue collar and with all four feet in the air.

Inside I took advantage of the cluster of dogs and humans to have Sanity do several 30' retrieves. Nothing very fancy or particularity difficult. Granted the dumbbell rolled under one of the little training tables. Granted the training table had interesting things on it. Granted there were 4 adult dogs and 4 humans all sitting or standing in a tight grouping around the place where the dumbbell came to rest, but still it wasn't all that difficult a retrieve.

She seemed to think otherwise and insisted first that she didn't see it. She still had to complete the task. Next she claimed it was too far away. No good, she still had to go the distance. Then she insisted it must be on top of the training table somewhere and there was no way she could lower her head enough to see what was under the table. Finally she got it right. Seemed like a good place to quit.

A bit later I thought it just might be a good time to actually put aside the introductory scent work and become more formal. So we started the formal pattern for the first time. Two articles placed six feet away. One article (the correct one) with my scent on it. The other article (the taboo article) with Pam's scent on it.

Each time I gave her my scent and told her to "Find it", she moved out to the two articles without any real hesitation. At first there was some uncertainty as to just what I wanted and since Pam's scent was unfamiliar to her she wanted to bring it back to me. I gently corrected/guided her away from the taboo article and praised her for sniffing and then picking up the correct one. Two mistakes needing help and she made a correct choice on her own. The correct article was then placed in a slightly different location. Two more mistakes needing corrective help and guidance and then she made a correct choice on her own. Time to stop. I am well pleased with her progress learning scent work and not so please with her fooling around with the simple retrieve on the flat.

Day is done and I wonder if we will manage to get a complete night's sleep tonight. She was better last night and only warned me once about the trespassing demons in the living room. Surly by tonight she will have managed to figure out that house guests are allowed in the living room.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Day 198

How do you explain to a pup who is convinced they are now an all knowing adult, that they really don't have enough life experiences yet to be making decisions on their own? When we went to bed last night I though Sanity had pretty much figured out that Lucile and Cougar were staying. After all, we had gone over the fact that Cougar has special privilege that most other visiting dogs just don't get. Everyone had settled down and then it is time for bed. Lights out and all is quiet...for a time.

"BARK!Alarm! bARK! Wake up, oh please wake up there are trespassers in the living room."

"Hush. Go back to sleep they are supposed to be there."

A couple of hours later. Nudge. Poke. Push. Wet nose and heavy breathing in my face, forces me awake again. "Now what?" And Sanity is off the bed and rushing into the living room again. BARK! HELP! TRESPASSERS! This time I got up and didn't just follow her into the living room, but insisted that she take a break and go outside for a few minutes. Back inside, she was still worried about the strange things in the living room. I insisted she come back to bed and that she had to BE QUIET on pain of instant death.

By the clock, two hours later...Poke. Push. Nudge. "B A R K!!!! There are evil things in the living room. Wake up and help me!!!"

I figure to just put her out again for a short time and then do some doggie pushups to get her mind settled. Except I can't find my slippers. "Damnit Sanity!! What have you done with my slippers?"

A quiet search locates them. They are now neatly lined up at the far end of the living room. In a whisper, "Sanity you fetch those slippers right now!"

Sanity insisting she can't possibly fetch them because there are demons in the living room. Me in a whisper, threatening to end her life if she doesn't bring my slippers back to me. Her slinking slowly through the dark living room to retrieve first one then the other slipper. Back to bed and an attempt made to sleep.

Two hours later the alarm tells me it is time to get up. Sanity of course rushed to the living room and back again to let me know there are still trespassers lurking there and I should be careful when I pass that way. Need I say that it was a long night?

Thank goodness there was only the Retrieve class to teach this morning. I was so tired from all the goings on last night that if I had been faced with a bunch of lessons I don't know what I would have done. Meanwhile, Miss Sanity is just fine. Buzzing around like nothing at all is amiss. I think there was a bit more to the day, but I am really too tired to log any more. Good night and I sure hope I am allowed more sleep than last night.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Day 197

Lucile came for a visit and brought a pack of 6 with her. She actually got here last night but this morning was the first chance to turn everyone out for a meet and greet. Aside from the face that I always enjoy having Lucile here to visit, the training opportunities are going to be fantastic.

We put all the day care and borders up and turned the Six Pack out, gave them a bit of time in the yard and then I let Wrap and Sanity out to meet them. They both flew down the ramp just like they always do. Wrap sailed on out into the yard and began to go about her rounds just like she always does. Sanity made it to the bottom of the ramp and hit the breaks. "What the H?" "Just what is this thing?"

And then, "Oh my, this one is even taller!"

She made a quick recovery and noticed there were even more strangers in the yard. Over all it actually only took about 20 minutes to complete the introductions and then there really wasn't even anything interesting to watch.

By afternoon things did sort of get interesting when she first tried to make Couger get off the love seat, not knowing nor understanding that Couger has special privileges. That was a failure since she got reprimanded by two humans and two adult dogs. Bummer. Later, Lucile wanted to sit on the love seat and Sanity thought she would just stay put. Was she ever surprised then she found herself on the receiving end of the "push it off on to the floor" trick. Again, she though she might give this new found growl a try. CRASH!!! and she was on the floor and being reprimanded by two humans, yet again. Another bummer.

Evening and dinner is over. Time to retire to the living room. But wait! That little hairy dog is in the living room. Get her out! Get her out! And poor Sanity is in trouble yet again. It was a difficult day.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Day 196

Ground Hog day and for sure that ground hog saw a major shadow, then again no matter how you look at the calendar it is six more weeks of winter. UGH!

I had a consultation to do this morning with a dog that was being called a BoxerXLab mix. HA! I know exactly what I think the dog really was and it was sure no surprise to learn that it is dog aggressive. Sanity was great. I did have to give her a pretty stern reminder that when I said she was to stay in her bed in the hallway, that was exactly what she was to do.

The dog was just sufficiently interested in her that I opted to not have her jump the baby gate when I called her into the room. Not only that, but I carefully positioned my chair so that my hand signal pretty much blocked her from making any wrong choices. She hopped right up on the love seat and did an immediate and very graceful down. She remained in place without even a tiny bit of fidgeting for the rest of the consultation, a period of about 45 additional minutes. During this time I took the ecollar off so the client and I could "play" with it. A bit later I put the ecollar back on her, took it off again, took her slip collar off and had her there naked for a time and then finally just before the consult was over put everything back on her.

I think it is so interesting what people find impressive. This client appeared to be mega-impressed with just watching this 9 month old puppy behaving like a reasonable dog. The other thing that seemed to really impress him was that his dog settled down and started being reasonable in very rapid order. When Sanity came into the room and again when I took both collars off her the "Mystery Dog" initially jumped up and started to posture. In both cases, Sanity was totally Joe or should I say Jane Cool? She maintained her position of superiority on that love seat and looked down her rather long nose at him. Both times he just sort of deflated and went back to a down. She really does show so much promise as my next assistant.

Now before I get myself in any more trouble with my "other self" I am going out to do some scent work. Yes, it really is warm enough for us to get in another day of outside work.

Yep, managed to get in all of two simple finds and then had to stop. That's what I get for doing the "put it off for later" stuff.

Went to class and since Diane was teaching the first class and I was teaching the Open class that followed there was no choice but to schlepp the scooter along. I do confess it does make it easier for me to keep up and still teach. About Sanity, she is getting better and better about staying with the scooter. In truth, she handles it much better than I do. Her stays were just fine even though she had to sit or lie there and watch me ever so slowly back up to end in heel position beside her. The group heeling went pretty well, I just wish the scooter had a faster upper speed. Then we started developing a new "game". It is loosely based on baseball and makes use of 5 small training tables to act as the pitchers mound, home plate and all the bases. Once we get all the kinks out of it and some rules in place I will share it.

As it stands right now it was barely controlled chaos and the dogs loved ever single minute of it. The goal is to help everyone do a better job of teaching the "place" command.

Then the open class followed and one thing I am starting to notice is that this current phase of Sanity's, while on the one hand causing her to want to argue with me about every single job, at the same time she wants to stay close and keeps a serious eye on me at all times when we are out and about. So the struggle rages: Stay? Go? Lead? Follow? In the end, I know that she will vote to stay, meanwhile it is interesting to watch her internal struggle.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day 195

Several excellent long distance sits again today. The best one was when I gave her a sit command as she ran around behind the kennels while I was standing in the middle of the paved area. I think the idea is finally beginning to sink in and now I must start working harder on the turning part so I can change her direction while she maintains the sit position.

I was so bad today. Some how the day just got away from me and I never did manage to do any scent work. Guess I will just have to call it a day off and work that much harder to sort of make it up.