Friday, September 30, 2005

Day 71

Today Sanity ventured a bit further out into the world of the working service dog. She went with me when I went to have my nails done. She was one very serious, hard working 5 month old puppy. I sure am proud of her.

Here she is on the place rug that stays at the shop just for my dog to use. It was Wrap's and now it is Sanity's. She looks so tiny to me.

Now we have moved to the reception area and she has tucked herself under the chair just like she has been taught. Pretty neat, huh?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Day 70

Sanity passed the six inch reach test with flying colors! She had to reach forward on the command to fetch and take the dumbbell in her mouth with another dog doing exactly the same thing. The two of them were only about a two feet apart and had to, in effect, move toward each other while focusing on the task at hand. She was totally awesome. So it is on to the one foot reach. The hold is progressing nicely. I haven't really been requiring more than a 15 second hold since I decided to "mark time" while her teeth finish coming in.

The mulch pile, with the addition of three more loads of mulch, has officially become the Mulch Mountain Range. The dogs all love it. It is great for climbing, jumping, sliding, digging and just about any other doggie fun activity a dog might dream up. Sanity is totally in love with climbing to the very top, falling over on her side and then sliding all the way to the bottom head first. The amount of dirt I am having to dig out of her ears is truly mind boggling.

In spite of the fact that I made all the puppies come in at 3 p.m. and take a nap, Sanity, Leda and Lilly were all so tired they couldn't make it through the class. Sanity and Lilly ended up passed out on the sidelines and Leda was going through one of those over tired, hyperactive spells. Starting next week I plan on making all of them come in at noon. Hope that will give them a bit more energy for the evening class.

On the tricks note, Sanity did her place/sit on the step stool for the entire class and then since Charlie 3 had once again forgotten his negative space he got to use the stool as his place for the duration of the class. Seemed to make every one happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Day 69

Worked on the six inch reach and then later the hold. Played around with the place and sit on the little step stool. Then there was helping me get Spirit to come out from under the back porch. Otherwise, it was a pretty quite day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Day 68

Today was the big day. Sanity went out on her first field trip as an assistance dog in training. We went to the bank. Not just to sit in line at the drive up window, but to park, walk across the parking lot, down the sidewalk, into the bank and into the line waiting for a teller window to be available. WOW! Is all I can say at this point. She was so serious about what she was doing. Managed a half way decent heel, some great sits and even understood what I wanted her to do at the counter. Her down was done on a verbal only for the very first time. She watched all the people and kept her nose to herself. Good job, kid, good job indeed.

On the homefront, we have progressed to a serious six inch reach that includes distractions and the requirement of having to turn the head left or right or tilt it up or down in order to reach the dumbbell. Five repetitions with only one correction is a really good average and I sure am pleased with her.

Fun stuff with the place command is working on her placing and holding a sit on the little step stool. She is almost steady enough for me to get some pictures of her doing it. What was really funny today was watching her try out different ways of actually getting up onto the stool without knocking it over. At one point, she decided it would be better to back up onto it. That lasted for several tries and then she went back to watching where she was going. She seems pretty proud of the fact that she can place on the stool two different ways. Her idea, not mine.

The very last thing we did last evening was to start the hold. For no reason I can think of I find myself using one of the plastic dumbbells for the reach and a wooden dumbbell for the hold. Sort of a sneaky way of introducing different materials early, I guess.

Posing to show off our new vest. The white patch reads "in training".

Holding a sit/stay and waiting to be told to get in the car.

The place command morphs into the "get in the car" command.

And in she goes. Wish the camera had been fast enough to see the jump. It was really pretty.

Yes, that really is my car and yes my license plate really is FETCHIT.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Day 67

It is really amazing how fast they grow. The pictures below are of Leo (7 months old) and Sanity (5 months old) Both are showing off what they know about holding the dumbbell. As you can see, it is something that Leo knows and Sanity has yet to learn. Just wait a few more weeks and she will catch up with him.

After I took these pictures, I went on and used Leo as the big distraction while Sanity practiced the six inch reach. He had to practice his sit/stay at the same time. Was a good test for both of them.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Day 66

Today is an official "day off", but since the teething issue has put us way behind schedule as far as the retrieve goes we worked. The six inch retrieve is now at the stage where the dumbbell is no longer exactly in front of her lips. Sometimes it is off to the right an inch or two or it may be to the left or it maybe just a little below her muzzle. The constant being that it will never be more than six inches away. Refuse it once and from that point on I will hold her back ever so slightly. Just enough to begin to build a bit of tension. She is becoming more and more interested in getting it into her mouth and keeping it there, a thing that promises well when we get to the hold portion of the training.

Play this morning was really on the wild side. Almost the entire time was spent on top of or trying to get on top of or trying to stay on top of the mulch pile. Considering how much fun all the dogs are having right now I almost can't imagine what will happen after the next two or three loads are delivered and the pile begins to be a mountain.

Sanity did a nice job of encouraging the wild GSD pup to keep a civil mouth and the chase game was fun to watch. At this point, even though Sanity is noticeably smaller than the GSD pup, she twice as agile and about three times as fast. Plus she has way more stamina. There is definitely much to be said for lots of fresh air and exercise.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Day 65

The most interesting thing happened sometime last night. I don't have a clue as to when since I was fast asleep when it started. I woke up this morning to find I was sleeping with not one but two Dobes. At some time during the night Sanity took the big leap and moved from the floor and a dog bed to joining Wrap and me on the bed.

Wrap is really getting serious about this retirement stuff. She has pretty much handed the prime position on the office loveseat over to Sanity. I have been watching that move for the past couple of weeks and wondering just how long it would be before the move on The Bed took place. Evidently, Sanity's timing is spot on because as best I can tell, all Wrap did was to move over and make room for her. Neither of them bothered me about this latest change in status.

So Sanity has gone from sleeping in a crate in the dining room to sleeping on The Bed in sixty-five days.

Training today was rather spotty. The first lesson called for teaching the place command. For Sanity this just meant she got some refresher work on the beginning stages. Second lesson called for her to act as a distraction and playmate for another Dobe pup just learning the recall. Next she practiced the long down as an example for a real beginner. Last lesson found her showing how to do an active stay. After that she announced she was much too tired to even be bothered with play. In fact, she was so tired she chose to open the gate at the bottom of the ramp rather than jumping it. Took herself inside and went to bed. The retrieve work had to wait until after dinner. Six inches is no big deal in her book, but we will continue to hold at that distance for at least a couple more days.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Day 64

The normal Friday schedule got put on hold and instead Sanity helped with a consultation in the morning and then as a training distraction after that. We just chugged along most of the day without a hitch. Worked on heeling a little bit. Worked on place on the silly little stool a little bit and started the 6 inch reach without a single hitch or even so much as a hiccup. I was actually foolish enough to think the day would be a quiet one without anything interesting happening.

Having interesting things happen is a curse, I know that. I have always known that. To wish that someone live in interesting times is not a nice thing to wish. After all history never reports the ho hum parts. I own or I should say owned a pair of glasses that cost me $650. Granted I hated those glasses from about 5 minutes after I paid for them. Nevertheless, I still expected to get at least a couple of years use from them. It was not to be. Part of the problem is my nasty habit of taking them off, putting them down and then promptly forgetting where I left them. Today was no exception. I took them off sometime during the afternoon and put them down...somewhere. I did think about them a couple of times, but was busy doing other things and just didn't want to be bothered to go looking for them.

Just after dinner I wandered into the living room and noticed several things on the floor that didn't belong there. There was a partial roll of toilet paper. All the paper was off the roll, shredded into tiny pieces and scattered around in an artful pattern and there was something else in the midst of all that fluffy paper. Actually two somethings.

The something else turned out to be the left side of my glasses and then a few steps away the right side of my glasses. The nose piece was no where to be found. The lenses had more teeth marks than was worth counting. Wonder if there is any reason to bother to save ear pieces? Like my son said, "Mom, she is turning out to be a very expensive puppy." And I am just a person whose middle name is stupid.

Wonder if she will live to see her first birthday?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Day 63

I really had intended to take some pictures of Sanity in her new service dog in training vest, but it just didn't happen. Instead I took pictures of her taking control of the new mulch pile. When I went back and looked at all the pictures I took, I realized that Sanity was always either at the top of the pile or on her way back up.

Afternoon found us doing a subnovice run thru just to check on where we are in our progress. For some reason her stand was really shakey today.

After checking the condition of her mouth I decided it would be ok to go ahead and check out the one inch reach. For this test we used the evening class as a distraction. She passed with flying colors so I will move her on to the six inch reach tomorrow or Saturday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Day 62

After re-reading some of my posts, it occurred to me that I really should explain about the name/number system. For whatever reason, certain names get used all the time for dogs. These popular names do change over time, but I still needed a way to tell one dog from another and this led to first nicknames and finally numbers. So when I talk about Charlie 3, the number 3 says he is the third Charlie to come here for training/day care/boarding. I actually have five Charlies, three Sammies, two Shadows and five Jakes. Just another reason to look for unusual names for your dog. At least I can be pretty sure there are no other dogs named Wrap or Sanity.

My favorite tree man showed up today to drop off a couple loads of mulch and to request my permission to park his equipment here overnight. Of course I said yes. After all, he brings the dogs the stuff that becomes Mulch Mountain and he never charges me a penny. I was so proud of Sanity. After I put all the day care and boarding dogs in kennel runs I opened the big gates and Miss Sanity just trotted around with me as if she was born to the position. All the men in the crew were mightily impressed with not just her training but the fact that a less than 5 months of age she is so calm and steady and as a couple of them kept on saying, "and you don't even have a leash on her and the gate is open and she doesn't run away." DUH! I want to point out that it would be a sorry thing, a sorry thing indeed if as a dog trainer, my own dogs weren't able to follow simple instructions. What a wonder she is.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day 61

Mouth still too sore to work on the retrieve. Instead we went back and revisited the place command. Haven't worked on it in a while so it actually was overdue. Little Charlie 3 came in with the owner request that we work on the place command since he wasn't being successful in getting Charlie 3 to go more than about 5 feet. SIGH, how I wish I could just twitch my nose and have owners suddenly able to follow instructions. Ah well, in this case it turn out for the good as far as both Charlie 3 and Sanity were concerned.

Set out a negative space for Sanity and a small step stool for Charlie 3. This made it possible for me to work two dogs at the same time and cover place, come, sit and stay. Not a bad deal. By the end of the session Charlie 3 was going 30 feet to place on his stool and Sanity was doing ever so much better about staying in a sit/stay where she was told. The side benefit just happened to be that Charlie 3 finally decided that he could actually place in the center of a, to him, big negative space and Sanity actually managed to do a place on the top of Charlie 3's little step stool. Somehow I have got to figure out a way to get some pictures of them working. It is too funny to watch Sanity, who is now starting to look like a big dog, working next to a 12 pound, buzz cut Maltese. No matter how tall Charlie 3 sat, nor how much Sanity slumped, she still towers over him.

Other than the time spent on the place command Sanity spent way more time sleeping than she did anything else. Here's hoping that the teething business gives her a break for a few days. I really want to take her out on a field trip and have been holding off until I know she feels better. Her new dog-in-training assistance dog vest arrived yesterday. She really looks so smart wearing it. I will continue to wait to use it for the first time when she has a bit more get up and go.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day 60

Poor, poor Sanity. Today was the day we were supposed to test the one inch retrieve. So the distractions were set up and everything was readied for the test. "Sanity, sit." Sanity sat. I started to snug up her collar when I realized she was doing all sorts of strange things with her mouth. Sticking her tongue out, chewing motions, sucking sounds, puffing her lips in and out. Strange behavior indeed.

Put the dumbbell down and opened her mouth. I fully expected to find a piece of a stick wedged in the roof of her mouth. Nope, that wasn't the problem. So I let go of her jaw and turn to pick the dumbbell up. The strange behavior starts up again.

I open her mouth again. This time I really open it and peer down her throat. Nope, that's not the problem. Let go of her jaw again and start back for the dumbbell. The strange behavior starts up again.

This time, instead of opening her mouth I simple lift her upper lips. I really was expecting to find a piece of wood stuck between her teeth or jammed into her gum. Instead I see blood, a gaping hole where a puppy tooth had formally resided and a second tooth just hanging by a thread of flesh.

Like I said, poor, poor Sanity. It has been a very long time since I had a pup who had as much trouble with her teething as Sanity is having. Needless to say, the retrieve test was posponed for another day. In fact, Sanity spent the better part of the day curled up under my desk sleeping. We will both be very glad when this teething business is out of the way.

She did come out and help with the intake of a 5 month old GSD who is here as a board and train. My first impression of said pup is to question whether or not GSD is the correct title. I would sort of vote for land shark myself. Nasty piece of work and a very good thing she got here when she did. To have waited much longer and I very much doubt I could have helped her. As it is, she is looking at some serious "jail" time for the next couple of days until she settles down enough to actually see what is going on around her. Meanwhile, Sanity was just as cool and calm and collected as I could have ever wanted. The GSD owner just kept saying, "will you please teach my puppy to be like yours?"

I said I would do my best. What I wanted to say is "why in the H did you take a 7 week old pup and then proceed to treat it like a human?" But I was a good girl and smiled, kept my thoughts to myself and promised I would take lots of pictures.

After check in Sanity marched right back in the house and went back to bed. Dinner time found her really struggling to eat. In fact, it was the first time she didn't finish her dinner. She spent so much time trying to eat that she was very late arriving for the Monday night class. By the time she finally came outside it was dark and we were working under the floodlights. That really threw her for a loop. The barking and carrying on lasted until she finally managed to locate me. Then we all had to listen to her complain about what? Not being told? We didn't wait for her? She missed a bunch of good stuff? Finally she managed to get herself back together again and hung around until class was over.

She sure is a verbal little bitch. The interesting thing is that she is actually starting to make sense to me. Hummm...Wonder what that says about me?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Day 59

Looks like I may have been right about the retrieve attitude. Today she started doing the one inch reach with one correction out of every 5 tries. A total of 3 sessions, 5 repeats in each session and tomorrow it will be time to add distractions.

She is a trip. Her interest in shoes and socks is getting her into more trouble. At first I thought it was just that she liked my shoes and socks. Turns out that isn't the case. Nope, she likes all shoes and socks. My friend luckily was here for the weekend. We went to the CM seminar together. Seemed as if every time we turned around Sanity was trotting off somewhere with either a shoe or a sock or a few times she had both. She doesn't appear to have any interest in chewing on these treasures. Instead, she seems to just want to "own" them. Too, too funny.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Day 58

Wrap and I went off to see an Cesar Milan Seminar today. This meant that once again Sanity had to stay home. Later in the afternoon she seemed to show her displeasure by coming into the living room, making eye contact, squatting and peeing on the carpet. Out! Get out of here! I find I have no patience with that sort of behavior, especially since she has free access to the outside any time she wants. Not only that but there does seem to be a direct correlation between her peeing in the house episodes and my not working her very much during the day.

I sort of decided that one of the reasons why I am not rushing forward with the retrieve is because her teeth are in such a state. Mainly a state of either not there or just coming in and really short nubs. Thought at this point they are now definitely long enough and her gums no longer look so angry. It is time to move on. First session of doing the 1 inch reach we had 5 tries and needed 3 corrections. Two out of five is about what I expected. She is one of those bitches who find corrections annoying. I suspect the training is going to go like a house a fire because of that attitude.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Day 57

Friday is not a Sanity day just yet. Sure does annoy her to have to stay home. I do consider the stay at home part to be an important part of her early training so it will continue until she is more willing to go with the program.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Day 56

Sanity helped start an new student today. After that she went off to play with Leda who is now coming on Thursdays so she will be able to attend the evening class. They both had to come in and take a nap so they would be well rested for class.

Most of the class Sanity spent following beside the wheelchair I was using while teaching. My knee is still really angry with me and just not being very reliable, so wheelchair teaching was a must. I hate it. Sanity doesn't mind at all.

Retrieve or more to the point the open on command is really coming along nicely but I am still holding off on moving forward.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Day 55

Since I am really trying to get caught up on all the paperwork that went a'begging all summer the only thing Sanity got done today was to work on her retrieve. All thought I am sure she is ready to move to the one inch reach I have decided to hold off for a few more days. No particular reason other than I just get a feeling she isn't quite ready to move on.

Day 54

Today was a total play day for Sanity. She ended up the day a very unhappy camper and showed her displeasure by glaring at me and peeing on the floor in front of the front door. Now mind you, she has free access to the outside any time she wants via the office door. Instead she appeared to make the conscience choice to pee on the rug in front of me. Grrrrrrrr.

I suspect a part of her displeasure was that Wrap came out of her semi-retirement state to travel with me. In the afternoon we were off to the County Administrative Building to attend a hearing on the much fought over, much wished for repeal of the Pit Bull Ban. Folks, I came away from that hearing with the strong feeling that once again, the elected officials are not the least bit interested in facts or figures. Instead they prefer to go on the emotions of a very loud few. The thing that bothered me the most was the figures being quoted. Now I am one of the world's worst when it comes to math and even I caught the glaring discrepancies in the figures being used as the basis for not approving the bill. So it went to the full Council without a recommendation. Bad business. Bad business indeed.

Then in the evening Wrap and I headed out to a Citizen's Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities meeting. For Wrap this pretty much was her chance to say good bye to the committee members who have known her since she first started working 7 years ago.

As for Miss Sanity, she found herself stuck with what I call the "general population". Meaning she had to go in a crate in the kennel room just like everyone else while I was gone for the afternoon. As I walked out the door I could hear her screams of rage at what she considers to be unreasonable and unfair treatment. All that means is that she will find herself doing general population time quite a bit during the coming weeks until she is able to transition with grace and good will from one level of responsibility to another.

Then when it was time for Wrap and I to head out to City Hall, Miss Sanity tried her very best to push though the gate wit a "me, too" attitude. Don't forget me. I need to go. You need me. Love her attitude, but there is no way I will encourage that sort of behavior. So once again she was left behind and as I pulled out of the driveway I could still hear her cries of rage.

When I got back home I found my socks in the living room, a pair of my shoes in her bed and Miss Snit herself not the least bit interested in having anything to do with either Wrap or me. Course that really didn't last very long and by bedtime she was back to her normal cheerful self.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Day 53

Day 53

After a hectic weekend having a slow Monday was something of a relief. Callie and Leo are back from vacation and back for lessons again. I really must get some new pictures of Sanity with Leo. At 6 months, puppy Leo is already taller and heavier than Wrap. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live with not one but two Newfoundlands. The size and the hair alone would do me in and when you all those long ropey, drool slingers, all I have to say is ugh. One of the best things about all these different breeds of dogs coming and going all the time is that Sanity’s education is a broad one indeed. Watching her and her reaction to each truly “different” breed has made me realize just how important the very early introductions are to making sure a pup grows up to be a mannerly dog.

One example would be when Sanity first met Leo. Every single hair that was capable of standing erect did so and she was both fearful and curious about the huge hairy thing that had just entered the yard. Leo, a Landseer Newfoundland was equally curious about this small creature with the strange head gear who just kept buzzing around him. Given time and no interference from humans and the two of them worked out all their questions about size, speed, shape, color and now they are comfortable enough with each other to engage in some limited play. I say limited, because Leo and his housemate Callie, are here for a lesson and Sanity, as well as Wrap, are here to help with the teaching. This doesn’t allow for much play time.

Another example would be when Sanity first met the Borzois last Thursday. Her response was to once again behave as if they simply couldn’t be dogs. They were both way too tall and too thin and too long and according to her initial behavior they smelled funny. By the time Friday afternoon had rolled around, she was very happy to join them in some wild games of chase. Watching her race at top speed around the yard it occurs to me that if she doesn’t break her neck during one of the rather spectacular tumbles she sometimes takes, she is going to have wonderful movement. All the parts are in the right places, the right angles, the right lengths and some days I even get to see all those parts work the way they will work in the, as yet, distant adult.

Knowing we still had a class to teach, I made Sanity come in and rest during the afternoon and then eat her dinner a little bit early. The early dinner part was definitely to her liking, the resting not so much. Nevertheless, she was ready to go when it came time for class. However since the subnovice dogs have to go last, by the time we got to Leda and Sanity both pups had gone back to sleep.

Thus ended another very long day.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Day 52 part 2

These are all of the breed ring and all I can say is "we tried and we did support the club." Poor Sanity, she really needs a better handler.

Hey Boss, please don't fall. I'm still too little to help you back up.

Sorry, but Margot just can't run no more.

Now what to do with the blasted cane.

If only I had a third hand I would be able to keep myself standing and stack Sanity.Or should I say, "for want of a third hand the class was lost". Meanwhile, Tonia and Leda not only get the hang of it but go on to win a second place.

See how well Leda moves with Tonia.

Tonia shows judge Leda's tootless state.

Tonia and Leda doing a great job and it was the first time in the ring for both of them.

Day 52

This entry is all pictures, cause I am way too tired to write anything. We spent the day at Sanity, Leda and Chance's very first match. It was also a first time for Tonia and Alison. Tonia and Leda managed a second place in the Puppy Bitch 3 to 6 class. Chance collected his CGC and a second place in prenovice. Sanity was seriously hampered with a gimp for a handler and still managed a fourth place in Puppy Bitch 3 to 6 and a fourth place in prenovice and she took time out to get tattooed. Now the rest will just have to be pictures.

Sanity getting ready for the Stand for Exam

Chance and Sanity heading into the PreNovice ring for the group exercise. For some reason this judge was of the opinion there was no sit stay in this class. Never did figure out where he got his information.

Sanity doing the down stay with group. All the dogs are months older than she is and she is steady as a rock. Alison and Chance are next to us and Chance ended up with a second place. Good job for a youngester with only 6 weeks of training and a handler who had never been in a ring before.

Don't argue with me child, I really do know what I am talking about.

Are you ready?

Alison listens to CGC judge fuss at her. Something about "you are too stiff or not stiff enough or was it the you aren't helping enough and now you are helping too much."

Alison and Chance deal gracefully with a hostile judge breathing right down their collective necks.

In spite of the problems with the judge, Alison and Chance earn their with only 6 weeks of training. Good job to both of you.

On leash heeling in the PreNovice ring was easy after the heat in the CGC ring.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Day 51

A killer day has finally come to an end. 8 a.m. lesson was a week 1 and Sanity did her very first turn as the "loose dog in the park". I must say, she did an fine job. Was just enough of a distraction without overdoing it. Her recalls are the sort you mostly only get to dream about and just lately she has been managing to slide into a totally wonderful sit/front like I haven't seen in a young dog for years. The owner of the Dobe pup who was the student couldn't do anything other than babble about how wonderful she was and how much she wants her dog to be the very same way. Way to go! Sanity.

9 a.m. found us teaching a week 2. Sanity did a great job demonstrating how to introduce the sit and then the heel commands. Then she went off to play for awhile.

10 a.m and it was time to teach a week 5. She did a great job showing how the finish is introduced and what it looks like when added to the formal recall exercise. And then, just about the time we were starting the figure 8 my blasted knee gave out again. So Diane and her dog had to step in and take over. SIGH

11 a.m. and we were busy working on getting ready for tomorrow's match. Which meant I took a bunch of pills and managed to hobble through enough of it to sort of set the patterns and get things started. Sanity would gait wonderfully if only she had a real two-legged human beside her. Meanwhile, her stacking is coming along nicely and she is quite willing to at least try to do something. It's just that with a hobbling human, sometimes the something isn't as clear as it should be. Ah well, here's hoping tomorrow will be better.

Came inside and somehow she and grumpy Cromwell had a head to head in the hallway which left her with a deep scratch to the upper half of the inside of one ear. Lots of blood and much ice, cotton and paper towels later, I decided the only way to stop the bleeding and give it a chance to start the healing process was to repost them both using Teflon gauze wrapping around the post in the injured ear. It seems to be working and with any luck all will be well by tomorrow morning.

I am still planning on entering her in both breed and if I can get away with it subnovice obedience. No matter what, it should be an interesting day.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Day 50

Sanity got to stay home and rest while I was out and about doing Friday things. The bad part was that something has gone really sour with my right knee and I can now hardly walk. So late afternoon found us out in the parking lot practicing gaiting and heeling and sitting beside the scooter. Sure hope things get better by tomorrow morning, since we have a very full couple of days ahead of us.

She is in full swing as far as teething goes. Right now the tooth fairy has been here to pick up a bunch of teeth and she is in that mostly toothless state where all she wants to do is chew, chew, chew.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Day 49

Day 49

Thursday’s are so long I sometimes wonder if they will ever reach the end. Now here I sit, everyone else is in bed and fast asleep and I am trying to finish up this last task of the day.

Nope, it just ain’t a gonna happen tonight. Will try again tomorrow.

Well here I am, back again. Course it is now Saturday and I am going to have to try and remember just what all happened on Thursday. Here goes:

We did a improptude MAD Gather and collected enough stuff to fill Linda K's big SUV with clothes and other things for those who have lost so much because of Hurricane Katrina. People and boxes of goods just kept on trickling in for the entire morning. Meanwhile, Sanity made herself very busy meeting and greeting and then when that got boring heading for the mulch pile to work on her hole digging skills.

Afternoon found us working on obedience ring skills and generally showing off how much has been learned so far. One of the biggest jumps is that she is now holding a stand/stay with me a full 6' away and not moving when touched or when I return to her. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. Nap, dinner and then a very short rest and it was time to head out for class. This was our night to get to work in the class. Sanity is doing her stays with me 15 feet away now and is very, very serious about getting it right. She constantly checks with the dogs on each side of her to make sure every thing is as it should be. After stays, we actually managed to keep up with the group heeling pattern for about 10 minutes. By the time the final halt was called I don't know who was more tired, Sanity or me. Anyway, we were very glad to spend the rest of the class resting on the sidelines.

Day 48

Day 48
Started right off with a lesson first thing this morning.  It’s interesting to see just how similar the training of the very young and the very old is when you are actually working with one of each.  Sanity at 4 months is doing the demonstrations and the student’s dog is, we think about 12 years old.  That’s what I said, 12 YEARS.  Pinky is this little Lhasa’s name and her story is an interesting one.  Her first owner must have loved her dearly and spent quite a bit of time teaching her all sorts of things.  Sadly, that owner is now in a nursing home and will most likely leave it in a body bag.  The adult son who is responsible now has neither time nor interest in Pinky.  He simply tossed the old girl away like so much garbage.  Lucky for her a shelter worker took a shine to her and kept her sort of “hidden” when her time was up.  Then along came her new owner-to-be.  She has never owned a dog before and decided that the first dog needed to be older and not very big.  Seems Pinky fits the bill in both areas and so Pinky found a new home.  

I was the next item on the shopping list of things to do when getting a dog.  Well not me specifically but definitely a trainer.  We talked.  She liked what I had to say and I liked what she was doing and planning on doing, and so a lesson plan was developed that would hopefully bring the two into a gentle conversation about life, the universe and everything.  This is where Sanity is proving to be able to earn her keep, so to speak and at such a young age.  See, old girl Pinky tires very quickly and needs some extra time to process each command.  Sanity tires very quickly and needs some extra time to process each command.  Because of the fatigue factor and the time to figure it out factor, they are helping each other move ahead toward very different and yet similar goals.  When I see Sanity signaling to me that she is tired, we all take a rest and Pinky says “thank you”.

What we are discovering is that Pinky not only already knows all the standard commands but she also has a rather impressive list of tricks and loves to play retrieve.  Sometimes it is hard to believe she is as old as the records indicate.  Sanity seems to understand that Pinky is really not up to dealing with puppy silliness and so has modified her behavior to be that of a very serious, and somewhat pompous pup.

After the lesson Sanity went off to play with Leda and by mid-afternoon was completely played out.  Other than a short retrieve session the rest of the day was a very quiet one.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Day 47

Day 47

I think I may shoot her.  Just when I was about to start patting myself on the back for managing to get through the beginning of the chew everything stage with pretty smooth sailing she up and does IT.  The it was to gently “sample” the control wire for my CD player.  I was pretty annoyed with myself for not making sure it wasn’t dangling, yet I had that one slip-up and one quick gnaw just cost me $50.  Gotta beat myself on the head for that oversight.

Since tomorrow is going to be a pretty busy day, we made today our field trip day.  For reasons I don’t really understand today her heeling was on a par with that of a dog twice her age and with twice the training.  She even managed several totally straight sits in heel position.  At the same time her general random sit just continues to improve.  We went to Radio Shack with the hopes of finding a replacement for the wire she mangled.  No luck in finding one, however her behavior was wonderful while in the store.  Stayed in heel position, sat when told and managed to hold the sit while we were standing at the counter waiting for an answer about the power cord.  Then it was off to Petco and our weekly walk around.  In some ways she was much improved and in other ways she just gave me a warning.  

Beware!!!  Do not continue to do the same thing on each field trip.  The danger of it causing some really bad habits is mind-boggling.  This trip she all but demanded a cookie for the ride home.  I gave her one without evening thinking about what I had started doing.  On the way home I got to thinking about her behavior as we were checking out and then getting in the car.  She was too demanding and way too insistent that she have that cookie.  So for the next several trips there will be no cookies anywhere in sight and then when they do reappear they will be functioning as distractions rather than a quick energy treat after a hard lesson.

On the up side, she definitely understands that an open car door is not an invitation to jump in or out. In fact, she is waiting very patiently after the car door is opened and then only jumping out when I call her.  Guess I could say that today did have its ups and downs.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Day 46

Day 46

Labor Day and a very quiet one at that, all the summer dogs have gone and no one went away this weekend.  I say we are really starting to feel the effects of the awful tragedy on the Gulf Coast and the loss of New Orleans.  Sure hope the gas prices stop their climb and start to come back down or it is likely to be a long, cold, hungry winter for lots of us.

About the only thing of interest today was the retrieve and the “show dog” stuff.  Outside and with mild distractions, Sanity gave me ten for ten.  In other words, she opened her mouth for the dumbbell every single time I said fetch and touched her lips with the dumbbell bit.  Not to shabby, not too shabby at all.  I plan to give her at least a couple more days at this level before moving on to the one inch reach.

In the other area, she is starting to figure out that the only way a piece of bait is going to be coming her way will be to keep four on the floor and watch my hand.  I am starting to insist she walk forward a step or two and then back up a step or two before even so much as a crumb is handed out.  I am thinking I will try to find someone to take some pictures of her doing her show stuff.  Would really like to see what she looks like and I sure can’t see her when I am in front of her.  

In the other dogs department, she sure can be an ornery little tease.  She has learned exactly what buttons to push to drive Cromwell, the old Schipperke half insane and she seems to find it to be a truly wonderful game.  Not sure he thinks it is as much fun as she does, but it is keeping him on his toes.  It has been a long time since there was a pup here that he was totally unable to bully at every opportunity.  So I might be saying that Sanity has found a way to trigger the insanity word.

Day 45

Day 45

Well the first order of business is to admit, at least to myself, that I missed a great photo-op late Saturday night.  Must try to remember to take more pictures, cause as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  

I went off to get ready for bed.  Wrap was asleep in her basket and Sanity was (I thought) asleep in her bed.  When I came back 20 minutes later the entire living room was full of small to tiny pieces of paper towel and Miss Sanity was curled up, looking quite smug.  However, she was no longer in her bed.  Oh no, no way. Instead she was parked, pretty as you please in MY CHAIR!

Enter the fire breathing dragon…ARG! ARG! ARG! WHAT…


Thus exited one small red streak.  All the while, Wrap looked on from her basket and I swear to you she was smiling.   Personally, I think Wrap warned her about what would happen if she tore up the roll of paper towels and I am sure Wrap warned what would happen if she dared to lie in my chair.  Anyway, it really was pretty funny and after a respectable length of time Sanity came back in, made her apologies and we all went off to bed.

As for Sunday, well not much going on.  We did work on the retrieve and as of the last session for the day she was opening on command in the face of strong distraction.  In this case, the big distraction was the 13 year old Schip who is in residence here.  He was standing there growling and making ugly faces at her at the same time I was telling her to fetch.  Yeah for Sanity, she is made of some stern stuff; the cranky old man didn’t faze her in the least.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Day 44

Day 44

Saturdays are always busy and this was no exception.  Sanity’s young Golden friend started her lessons today and Sanity was right there to show her how stuff was to be done. The shy BeagleX was the next lesson and she was quite willing to show him how the down is to be started.  (Note: Sure will be glad when she is finally big enough to do a stand and brace and help me up after doing a down demo.)

The last lesson for Sanity to work was actually a complete sub-novice run thru, including stays.  It was our way of helping student number 3 get ready for an upcoming match. She has yet to explain to me why she will give me two really great sits and then ignore all the rest of the sits unless I help her.  I would be far more willing to by the “but I’m just a baby” card if she would be more consistent about playing it.  Her stand is definitely improving and I can now stand her and go 3 feet and she is steady for the exam and steady for my return.  Then somewhere, between the individual run and 3 of us going back in the ring to do the group sit and then down exercise, Sanity decided to check out for a while.  She found the one minute sit/stay almost too much to handle.  Her head was so heavy it was about to pull her right into the ground.  One thing left, the down/stay.  She plopped down and went to sleep.  Not sure if that counts as a down/stay or should I say down/sleep?

A nap brought on a quick recovery and the rest of the afternoon was spent in playing chase games with the other dogs or a bird or a squirrel.  Now dinner is over and later we will finish up with one last retrieve session.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Day 43

Day 43
Donald McCaig stopped by this morning with his two Border Collies, Luke and June. Sanity thought Luke was a most handsome fellow and so proceeded to get him in all sorts of trouble with her attempts at puppy flirting.

I must confess, this pup’s abilities at problem solving are truly mind boggling. I really wanted her to stay outside for a short time while I did a few things in the kitchen. So I sent her outside and closed the gate at the bottom of the ramp. Before I had a chance to get to the kitchen, there she was trotting right beside me.

“No way, little gal. I want you outside.” So saying I trotted her right back out. This time I latched the gate and leaned a taller baby gate across the opening. Before I even had a chance to get out of the office, here she comes trotting up the ramp.

“I really don’t want your rather annoying little brown ass in here right now. Out you go.” And I closed the gate, replaced the baby gate and added a chair to help hold the baby gate in place. This time I made it all the way to the kitchen and had started to wash the feed pans when I felt something poke my leg. Looking down what do I see? You guessed it. She’s back.

When I marched her back outside I was met with a gate/gate/chair still the way I had left them and no apparent way of entrance. Humm…wonder just how she managed that trick. I know she couldn’t jump much less fly over the barrier, so just how had she managed to get back in the house? I put her back out and then went and hid.

What did I see?

I saw a young pup; remember now she is only 4 months old, who is far too clever for her own good. She didn’t even hesitate or waste time looking at the new barrier. Instead she went around to the side of the ramp where there is a resting platform for the dogs to use. It is about 4 inches off the ground and was exactly the right height for what Sanity had in mind to do.

Specifically she hopped up on the platform and that gave her the extra height she needed to put her front paws over the lower rail. Hanging on with her front paws, she walked her back paws up the lattice work until she was able to get one foot on the lower rail. A quick push and she tumbled through and landed on the ramp. Home free and into the house she trotted. Like I said she is way too smart for her own good.

Other than that the only thing really worth reporting is that during the second “fetch” session she opened her mouth on her own 3 times in a row. I was pretty impressed since I really hadn’t expected that response for at least a couple more days.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Day 42

Day 42

I have to start this one with something that actually happened last night. I was in my recliner and starting to relax. I had just picked up my backscratcher and was about to start a lovely back scratch when Sanity strolled into the room and proceeded to take over Wrap’s wicker basket bed. The fact that she feels free to take over said basket isn’t a problem for me since it isn’t a problem for Wrap, but what happened next was/is a big problem for me.

Looking right at me, almost making a point to make eye contact she ever so lazily stretched her neck up and began to chew on the edge of the rocking chair. This behavior caused an automatic reflex response from me. Very specifically the backscratcher just took a fast detour and whacked her on the butt. Her mouth came away from the chair; she got out of the bed, glared at me and sort of stomped out of the room. On her way past me I caught a slit-eyed, sideways glance.

After she was out of my sight, I got to thinking about that look and it occurred to me that she very likely had not really left the room. That in truth all she had done was get out of my line of sight. So with that thought in mind I ever so slowly and carefully got out of the chair and slipped around behind it. Sure enough! There she was, stretched out and ever so comfy with a large piece of the chair skirt firmly clenched in her jaws. I, at once, turned into the fire-breathing dragon. Sanity saw the wisdom of dropping what was in her mouth and making a hasty exit.

And now I’ll move on to what actually happened today. We started with a lesson that included her sister Leda. They got to practice being “show dogs” and worked on moving around in the training ring and standing when told and then moving again. Not the most interesting of stuff, but one more thing that is good the young brain. After a short break, the training collars were put back on and Sanity helped Leda get better at doing a sit/stay. Lessons over for the morning the two went off to find some mischief to get into. The following pictures tell the tale.

Afternoon called for a mandatory nap since tonight is class night. Class went very well with Sanity holding a 3 minute sit/stay followed by a 5 minute down/stay with me six feet away. She still needs work on actually going down when told, but the stay part is coming right along. After the group stays, she had to “practice” her place exercise in the form of an “under and down” command. That one was hard but she finally managed to get it right. Then, no sooner did she get settled into the down when I up and called her out to demo some specific points on the recall. That taken care of, back she had to go to doing that “under and down” thing. And so it went right up until class was over. Points of interest: she traveled from the house to the car off leash and very, very serious about this new responsibility. Off leash from the car to the training building and by the time class was over she was so happy to have the leash on and not have to worry about so many things. She will sleep well this night.