Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Day 194

Tuesday and we are paying for the nice day yesterday. The rain comes down and the house is full of wet dogs. The wind picked up and the temperature is dropping.

I just came in from the damp cold and am stiff as a board and don't even really care. Sanity just gave me not one, not two, but 5 really good sits. The distances ranged from about 15 feet up to 50 feet. The distractions were: wrestling with Sage, distance about 50 feet. Stopped play, sat at once and facing me on a single voice command. WOW! Two more at distances of up to 30 feet, on the mulch pile and with me pretty much out of sight. Each time she moved to the top of the mulch pile, looked for me and then sat facing me as soon as she located where I was standing. The only forward movement was what was necessary for her to get into a position where she could see me. WAY COOL!!

The interesting thing is that the last two, while closer and lacking in any intense distraction were no where near as good. They required more than one command and tap on the ecollar to get the correct response. Strange and something I need to think about.

I then went on doing yard pick-up work and ended with sending her for a food bag that had blown down from the highway and was stuck to the outside of the fence. She had to pretty much lay on her side and reach through the fence to get it. That was no problem, she worked it until she managed to get it. Good job. Then I sent her for one of the large balls that are pretty much all over the yard. They are great toys for the dogs. The ball she flat refused to retrieve and we had a good ten minutes of "arguing" over whether she was going to retrieve it when I said fetch. Again, more food for thought.

Willful. That's the best way to describe the inSanity creature. I just decided I really needed to get busy and start teaching the jumping stuff. So I set up the high jump in the studio. It is set at 12", certainly not too high for a bitch with wings that allows her to clear 40" flat-footed without so much as touching. Round and round we went. Seems she feels she is totally unable to jump 12", could it be because I am there? Or is it just not enough of a challenge? Either way, we are once again knocking heads.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Day 193

Morning and the fog rolled in thick as pea soup. At 9:30 when my first client showed up it had almost burned off. Thank goodness, because the first client of the day and the week was almost a total bust as far as I am concerned. Ah well, this person knows better than to expect to win them all. Next was Leo,Callie and good owner Paul, excellent students one and all. The sun had managed to totally burn off the fog and the day turning into a dream day considering the time of year. It had to be at least 60 with clear, blue skies and only a light breeze. Beautiful weather.

Before getting down to work we walked the yard a bit and let the dogs sort of loosen up. Sanity started out by teasing Leo with a rope tug and getting him to chase her. Mind you, he doesn't last very long in a game of chase, so Sanity had to resort to a teasing game of keep away. This lead to Callie slipping up on her and grabbing one end of the rope. Sanity was bound and determined she was not giving it up. There were times when Callie's shaking actually swung Sanity completely off the ground. In the end, Sanity still walked, well actually ran, away with the rope. Then the play time was over and both Newfies went to work.

Due to the wonderful weather I got to move Sanity's scent work outside and so we immediately reverted back to the way I have always done things. In the first picture, she is searching the mulch pile for the hidden article.

She finds it and then uses a paw and nose to dig it up.

Here she is getting it clear of the mulch.

And finally bringing it back to me.

You don't get to make comments on the lack of quality of the pictures, since I was handling the dog, hiding the article and taking the pictures all at the same time. Does that qualify as multi-tasking?

As the last dog to work during the evening class an interesting thing happened. I called Sanity to heel because I wanted to work on the retrieve on the flat. Wrap followed and what I ended up with was Sanity in heel position with Wrap sitting directly behind her and sort of "breathing down her neck". The retrieve itself was going to take Sanity directly into the faces of all the other dogs in the class. Usually is not a problem for her; however this time it was.

I gave the command and she sort of choked. Meaning she half stood, took on step and then froze. I am actually not sure what was going on. Was it something one of the dogs she was facing "said" to her? Was it the fact that Wrap was breathing down her neck just hoping she would make a mistake and I would say "Wrap, fetch" instead of correcting Sanity? Or was she having a processing glitch with the change in retrieve requirements between fetch and find? The one thing I do know for certain was that it was not the refusal of a dog who knows what to do and then chooses to refuse.

So I used the ecollar set on her learning level of 1 on a constant setting and walked out there with her. She completed the retrieve successfully. Wrap sighed and went back to her bed. The next three retrieves were completed without so much as a seconds thought. In fact, one of the retrieves was done a little too fast since she overshot the dumbbell, did a sort of modified handstand, turning on her front feet, rear feet in the air, scooped up the dumbbell and hurried back to me.

I think the reason why I can hardly wait to get past the "baby stuff" and into the real training is that it is a challenge mentally and the dull, grunt work is behind us. For the life of me I will never understand why so few people train their dogs long enough to get to experience the shear joy of working on the more complex tasks.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Day 192

The best laid plans of mice, men and one sorry dog trainer...
I really did intend to work on scent work today. Sadly, what I had planned to do simply did not happen, because and now come all the excuses I made to myself:
1. No matter where I looked, I couldn't find the little containers I wanted to use. I had film canisters fixed in my mind and just couldn't seem to switch to another idea.
2. Its the day I do household chores and rest and that is just the way my brain is wired.
3. I just kept on thinking I would get to it later and later never gets to me.

Then the day was done and I had managed to miss an entire training session. Tomorrow will come and when it is today I will figure out another way to do what I have in mind to do.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Day 191

First there was the retrieve class, which this Saturday consisted of two Dobermans and a Golden. The problem as the picture sort of shows is that the Golden is chugging along, well, like a Golden. Meanwhile neither of the Dobes is making much progress considering the amount of time that has passed.
Here the Golden has been excused to go practice the "advanced" stuff and Sanity has stepped into the picture to try and set an example for the other two.
Not really. What really was going on was Sanity seemed to feel she should be doing something more than just sitting there, so I gave her a more interesting job.

After the retrieve class was over everyone hung around to watch me working Sanity on the beginnings of scent discrimination work. No one was very interested in watching her practice picking up the metal article correctly. Nope, what they all wanted to see was the scent or should I say shell game we were playing. Here are a few pictures to show how it is going.

First she has to hold a sit stay until I send her. My command is "find it" coupled with a single motion hand signal indicating the direction I want her to take. Of course right now that direction is straight in front of us.

Here she is beginning to work the "pile" in her search for the correct one.

Here she is indicating the correct one. Nothing distracts her from what she is doing. And for those of you who were so worried about the fact that she wasn't being given the bit of meat, worry no longer. She has perfected the technique of flipping the cap off and inhaling the bit of meat long before I could ever manage to stop her. All this is doing is making her more certain that this is an interesting thing to do. Tomorrow I will be changing the rules of the game.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Day 190

Friday and what a witch she has been all day. First she tried to tell me that the shoulder pack didn't fit over her head. HA! Then she claimed she couldn't find the open car door. Three different times she insisted she had never, ever in her entire life heard the word "down". Finally, she dared to claim that every single rawhide bone in the entire house belonged to her.

Guess what the calendar tells me? Sanity will be nine months old tomorrow. Some how I get the impression that the next few months are going to be pretty rocky ones.

And the good thing? She fetched my cane for me for the very first time and she did it in the hair salon and then helped me get out of the chair. Think I shall gladly take that as her little piece of brilliance for the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Day 189

Thursday and while I worked with Sanity on retrieving metal objects and she is now picking up the scent article correctly, I didn't do a single bit of work with my "game". The class was pretty much a total bust as far as she was concerned since it was the night of the monthly run-thrus for all levels. By the time all the utility, open and then novice dogs had a chance to do a complete routine it was way too late and I was way too tired and hurt way too much for us to do even a short novice routine. Oh well, there is always the next time.

Some how I suspect that my playing round with food is once again going to go by the wayside. Tomorrow I will make a serious effort to give it another go.

One thing that was really annoying me was her sudden interest in wandering off to check out any and every strange dog she happened to spot. There were quite of few of them since it was on of those evenings when the class next door was in session, full and let out at about the same time we finished up.

This meant she got several ecollar corrections. One of them caused her to give one of her protest yipes. This in turn, caused the owner of the "show dog" to voice her displeasure at how this poor dog was being abused. HA! That little yipe was sounded as Sanity turned away from her intended path toward or at the "show dog" and returned to me, still mumbling under her breath. I swear, this is the most vocal dog I have ever owned. She has an opinion on everything and feels free to voice it constantly.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Day 188

Started articles this morning. I decided to try something totally different from the way I have trained all my previous dogs or the way I teach. Normally when I start introducing scent work I spend a couple of weeks teaching the dog to retrieve first the metal and then the leather article. Once the straight retrieve is in place and the dog is picking the article up the way I want it picked up, I move on to hiding a single metal article. How long I work with a single hidden article is completely up to the dog. There is no change until I can see that my dog is comfortable and secure in finding what I want found.

My problem is one of timing. I need to be outside using natural cover to hide my article, but I won't work a dog on metal articles outside in the wintertime. Even in a winter as mild as this one is turning out to be is too cold as far as I am concerned. I could wait until spring, BUT that would put me behind a self-imposed eight ball. You see, I really want her working scent well enough to act as my demo dog when we go to Columbia, MO the end of May so I can teach a 5-day school for Balanced Trainers. Enough on that. Here is what I am doing.

I saved several large bites of filet mignon, yes you read that right. Filet mignon left over from a special dinner. I cut those bites up into tiny little pieces and stored them in a plastic container. Then this morning downstairs we went to the training studio and the first of what I suspect will be many, many sessions.

For the introduction I had her place on one of the training tables and we worked on a fetch the very same way I started her out with the dumbbell. This is all familiar work for her, so the only new thing was the metal article and my insistence that it had to be taken in only one manner. I didn't have to worry about introducing metal as a new material because she is already retrieving metal drink cans, metal flatware and keys. I got 10 good fetch responses and that ended the article part. Normally that would end the training session but not this time.

This time I moved to my "Plan B". I let her have a sniff of the meat. Just a sniff and not a very big sniff at that. I have the really nice PVC end caps that are supposed to go on the bottom of the legs of my little training tables. Never one to pass up a good training tool these caps got pressed into service. Remember the old thimble game? Well, the caps became my thimbles and I put a single bit of meat under one of them. The first time there were just two caps, one without and one with meat. I sent her using the command "find it" and a fetch signal. Since she had been sitting there watching me place that bit of meat, I very much doubt that it really mattered what I said; because she was on her way with the first sound from me. Quick like a bunny she found the correct one. I had to help her turn the cap over the first couple of times. By the end of the session, she was finding the correct cap when it was one of eight caps and she was picking the cap up with her teeth to move it out of the way. Seemed like a perfect time to stop the training for the first session.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day 187

Didn't do a single interesting thing today. She is really antsy now and tomorrow I am going to start scent work with her. That will be a new and interesting thing to do.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Day 186

Got up this morning to a yard full of deep mud puddles. Guess it must have rained really hard and long last night. I don't have dogs here today, I have mud puppies. This is not going to be a fun day. And so it wasn't. Rainy days are never much fun and cold,rainy days are the least fun of all.

We did get in two really good retrieve sessions. One in the morning when I set things up so that Sanity and Leo were doing a sort of face-off style retrieve. Meaning I was at one end of the studio with Sanity and Paul was at the other end with Leo. We would each toss our respective dumbbells and then send the two "pups". They had to go passed the dumbbell closest to them in order to get to their own. It was a good exercise. We managed maybe 12 or 15 reps. before they both began to focus on their own dumbbell and ignore the other, closer and correspondingly easier retrieve.

In the evening Sanity got to repeat the same drill during the class. This time she was doing a face-off with Sage. It didn't take quite as many reps before she was getting it right. Of course, Sage's dumbbell wasn't being thrown quite as far and I'm not sure how that factored into the mix. Maybe it really didn't make all that much difference. What I do know is that I got the very strong feeling that she would have very much liked to have been able to bring both dumbbells back. If only I would be willing to let her figure out a way to do two at once. I had to tell her, "sorry, one per customer."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Day 185

It's finally happened. Now I don't know whether to be happy or depressed. Sanity actually got enough exercise and work yesterday to tire her out. This is a first.

Since I suspect there will be very little to write about for today, I'm going to use the time to write some more about yesterday. Specifically the part I failed to get any pictures of and am now regretting. If only I had walked out the door with my camera instead of leaving it laying on the table. SIGH!

First there was the "play" part. Only for me I really wasn't seeing it as play, but as another chance for Sanity to practice her needed daily skills. It all started with a toy found on the ground. The first part ended with Sanity quite literally running everyone into the ground. Her ability to do rapid starts, sharp cuts and wild leaps coupled with her clever use of the terrain, parked cars and knots of people meant that the other dogs simply were unable to catch her. To me the best part was not actually watching this wild chase, but watching her using her brain to plan moves way beyond the immediate.

She would duck behind the parked cars and then slip around and suddenly pop up in a totally unexpected place and managed to keep the game going much longer than had it been just a straight chase game. After all the younger dogs had finally given up on catching her and winning the toy, she dropped it in favor of joining the older dogs in a fine game of fetch. The problem. Her need, drive, desire to be first, fastest, most, best, leader quickly meant that I had to step in and insist she start learning to honor another dog's work.

Shoot, the thing that made me really stand up and take notice and start clamping down with some rules was when she had the nerve to actually steal the bumper right out of an older dog's mouth. It was done so fast I'm not sure the other dog realized what had happened until it was over. She shot up from behind going full tilt, snagged the bumper as she shot passed and never even slowed down. In her rush to get to the bumper first she was making some pretty fancy long leaps off a small rise in the ground. Each time she made that leap she put more into it and it carried her further. Pretty impressive stuff for an 8 month old pup.

Finally, I decided I needed to go back to the house to get some stuff and it occurred to me that this was the perfect time to get in a very serious lesson on attention. I want my dogs to give me 10% of their attention 100% of the time. It is something I have never thought to be at all unreasonable, whereas I do find this business of demanding 100% attention from a dog even for 5% of the time to be unreasonable, unrealistic and not something that a person or dog can actually live with on a daily basis. Getting that 10% all the time takes some very creative training set-ups.

Yesterday offered me one of those perfect times. Sanity was totally engrossed in her activities with the other dogs and had not so much as checked in with me in more than 20 minutes. Now historically, 15 minutes is about the outer limit of what I am willing to allow. So what to do? It was easy. I left and went in the house. I could do so we were in a safe location, I could watch her through the picture window and I knew it wouldn't be long before the lack of my presence would begin to make itself felt.

Predictably enough, I wasn't inside more than about 3 minutes before I could see the energy begin to drain out of her, she slowed down and finally stopped all movement. There was a pause and then she begin to look around. Next she started going from person to person, stopping in front of each one and carefully studying their face. She continued to move around like that until she had check out every single person available to her. Once more she stood very still and just looked around.

There were several people either coming or going from the house and she fixated on one who was headed in. She fell in beside this person and followed her up to the house and the door. The door was almost shut in her face, but I managed to get in a position where I could whisper the instructions to let her in. I then fell silent and continued to watch. .The reason why I am not identifying the person is because I fixate just like my dog. I honestly don't know who walked in and held the door open for Sanity. That person, while receiving a thank you never really registered with me.)

Because of the way she came through the door it was just a natural move to continue on into the kitchen. The food all over the place meant nothing to her, she was on a mission. Next time I saw her she was exiting the kitchen at the far end of the great room. Again, or should I say still systematically inspecting each and every person she saw. Little by little she worked her way across the room until when she was about 15 feet away from me, she froze. Her head went up and that nose was working overtime. The head sort of did this "up periscope" number, swivel, turn, freeze, back up and bingo! She had me. You would have thought I had been "lost" for weeks and her search had taken her around the world from the way she behaved. I figure I will still need to repeat this little exercise at least four or five more times before I will no longer have to worry about her leaving me for any reason other than my sending her on a mission for me. One of these days I will have my camera ready and manage to get a shot of "dog on a mission". One of these days.

Now that is my idea of useful attention and I realize it is much more difficult to teach that the attention taught with a toy or bit of food. Well worth the effort, if you ask me. Which of course no one did. Ask me, that is.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Day 184

Today Pat Nolan hosted a MADTrainers Gather. MAD stands for Mid-Atlantic Dog Trainers and this Gather is the International Association of Canine Professionals (http://www.dogpro.org ) mid-Atlantic regional gathering. We have a gather about 4 maybe 5 times a year, each one hosted by a different IACP member. There are regional gathers held in many parts of the country now, but the MADTrainers get to claim the title of First Gather. Anyway, they are always fun, educational, entertaining and sometimes even exciting. For those of you who are professional, semi-professional, serious hobby or even beginners if you have a chance to attend an IACP Gather, it is something you really don't want to miss. You do not have to be a member in order to attend.

Here are a few pictures of the making of a Doberman/Retriever or how Sanity learned to mark and retrieve ducks. We started with the introduction, as in, Sanity met Duck.

Here Sanity shakes "hands" with Mr. Duck

Then comes a serious sniffing
Which just naturally leads to a jolly good roll.

After a good roll it was time to try the pick up. It took several tries before the taste of feathers stopped being a deterrent to actually getting a good grip that was neither to strong nor too weak.

Then she followed another dog out to see what you are supposed to do when one of these flying things actually hit the ground.

If you look carefully in the top right side of this picture you can see a duck in the air.

This is where she put it all together and was the first one on the scene. No hesitation at all in actually picking it up.

And here you see a world-class DobermanRetriever in action.
Yes, she did return it to me. It took several more tries, but in the end she was waiting her turn, making the retrieve and delivering the bird pretty much to hand. Not a bad morning's work.

Then it as time to eat and every one trooped inside to stuff themselves on Donald McCaig's venison chili, Pat's hamburgers and too many other goodies to mention. I mustn't forget Heather's rum balls. Yummy.

After lunch we all drifted outside and sort of stood around digesting all the food and watching the dogs run around. Sorry, no pictures. I just forgot to take any. Sanity showed just how well she is going to do as a playgroup leader and future yard boss. She lead all the dogs on a wild chase until one by one they all toss in the white flag and gave up. Next she managed to get Tammy to toss a field bumper for her and she made darn sure she was ALWAYS the one to get it and bring it back. Later everyone piled into cars and headed for April's farm so we could give the sheepdogs (Border Collies to most of us) a chance to do what they like doing best of all. Working sheep.

This one got up close and personal to Sanity.And then Donald sent Luke to save the day.
Woolies on the inside and humans on the outside as the day came to an end.

What a great time and Sanity completed yet another major training day. She demonstrated a deep, inner calm for such a young dog. She also showed everyone just how sure she is that she rules the world. Far be it for me to disabuse her of that idea. Thank you Pat for hosting a great Gather.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Day 183

Today Sanity has been with me for six months. I think this is a good time for me to list all the things we have accomplished during her first six months with me. She arrived a 13 week old pup who was pretty much a clean slate just waiting for words.

And now;
She has a recall to die for. Once I say "come" there doesn't seem to be anything that will slow her down or get in her way as she comes to me. So I think I can safely say she knows how to come when called.

I can tell her to "go to bed" and she will find one of the house dog beds and make herself scarce.

We have reached the point where the list of things she understands what and how to fetch is just about to jump to that most wonderful of all commands, the generalized fetch command.

She politely stops at the gate and waits to be told it is ok to go through. She is polite and not pushy when it comes to meeting new people or new dogs.

She waits to be told to enter or leave the car.

She never jumps on people.

She stays off the furniture unless specifically invited up.

She knows to not walk on my quilts.

She is about 70% reliable, off lead, around town. Of course that means I must be 100% reliable in my choice of off lead circumstances.

She will sit on command from distances of up to 8 feet. She is learning how to adjust her sit so she can remain facing me. She has a fair sit/stay.

She will down on command, but I still have to be fairly close to get a descent response. Her down/stay is very solid and reliable, even when I am out of sight.

She will move out of the way when told.

She has a pretty good understanding of what both up and off mean.

Her off leash heeling is much better than her on leash heeling, but both continue to improve.

Just last week she started wearing the shoulder pack that serves as my purse and she is most serious about that responsibility.

In the yard, she is starting to show signs of becoming a "playground director". The first step to becoming a "yard boss".

All of this and she is all of 8 months old. I'd say she is doing a pretty fair job.

Today's escapades

Yes she was wearing her ecollar and yes I was holding the transmitter. So how come I had to resort to more traditional methods to get her attention or compliance to my commands? This person seems to be cursed with not being able to come to terms with the new Pro 500 G2 series collar. Yes, the batteries were well charged. Yes, the collar was turned on. No, the battery wasn't engaged properly in the transmitter. That is so frustrating.

We went do to the "nail day" thing and while she was willing to go to her rug and down, she also though it would be fun to chew on stuff behind my back. The interesting part was that I really thought the transmitter was working and so behaved accordingly, which means I hit the button when I caught her. She seemed to think I was right and behaved accordingly, which meant she would heave a loud sigh and change position. Wonder if that counts as the power of positive thinking?

After finishing up there, we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. It is something I rarely do, because I use the Peapod Home Delivery service most of the time. Anyway, off we went into the store. I knew I was in trouble before we had managed to get half way across the parking lot. There was no focus on her part. Her eyes, ears, head and nose were going in twenty different directions at once. Thinking the heave distraction level was the problem and it was interfering with her ability to "hear" the collar, I upped the intensity. Nothing. Upped it again. Nada.

All this is going on as we make our way though the store. Finally, I had to admit that the collar wasn't working for some reason and I really wasn't properly equipped to handle things in a more traditional manner. I threw in the towel, so to speak, paid for the items in the shopping cart and headed for home. Once there I started fiddling around with that blasted collar and finally figured out that somehow I had managed to unscrew the battery pack on the transmitter. This, of course, meant the transmitter had no power, so of course the collar wasn't working. DUH!

Oh well, at least I can say that with no prompting from any equipment she managed to fetch my keys when I dropped them and then a stand and brace to help me up from a chair. The strange thing about the stand and brace is that as long as I don't say anything she is just fine. Let me tell her to stand and she begins this slow collapse. I am choosing to view that behavior as confusion on her part and just something to be worked through.

Still, six months worth of training and she isn't doing too poorly.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Day 182

The day started out with my sitting at the computer still wearing my sweat suit and slippers. This is normal early morning attire for me. One of the dogs bumped the back of my chair pretty hard and I turned to see what was going on. What I saw was one of my shoes on the floor and a second shoe on its way through the door. Sanity shyly meet my eye and sort of did her "did I get it right?" body curl.

Never one to pass up a chance at a training gift, I told her "good girl, now bring it along" got up and headed for the bedroom. She droped the shoe she was carrying and went back for the first shoe, gots confused and drops it, only to go back to the second shoe. I helped by pointing to the second shoe and telling her to "fetch". She did and then she followed me into the bedroom. Once there I sat on the bench at the end of the bed, held out my hand and said "give". She gave me the shoe in her mouth and then looked at me with a huge question on her face.

"Yes, Sanity, you are on the right track. Fetch the other shoe." She started out the door and then stalled. Still unclear as to what she should do next, so I got up and went to the doorway and told her to "fetch the shoe". Slow, unsure steps carried her to the shoe, which she picked up and brought back to the bedroom and my waiting hand. Great! Might as well heed what she is telling me and get dressed. So I laid out my clothes for the day and of course, just happen to drop both socks. She was watching very closely. Next I sat on the bench and told her to fetch the sock, all the while using one hand to signal what I wanted. She fetched it, sat and let me take it when I say "give". I put that sock on while she watched. She sniffed my foot, stepped back and again I got that quizzical look.

"Fetch me the other sock." This time I didn't bother with the hand signal. There was a pause, with her eyes shifting back and forth between the two socks. One on the floor and the other on my foot; and then she did indeed fetch me the sock on the floor. Once more she watched very carefully while I put on the second sock. She sniffed my foot and apparently satisfied stepped back to continue watching.

Next came the shoes. I had to give some direction with my hand to point her to the right location. The shoes were on the floor pretty much behind me. One fetch command and I got first one shoe and then the second shoe. She actually stood watching me put on the first shoe, all the while holding the second shoe in her mouth. I am totally psyched by this abrupt change in her behavior and attitude.

Dressed and with the bedroom tidied up, I headed downstairs to let the boarders out. This is when Wrap has always helped out, by collecting all the dirty food pans and taking them upstairs to the kitchen. This is a job that will one day be Sanity's. Right now, all the necessary steps are totally beyond her. However, for the first time a fetch command actually caused her to try and pick up a pan.

Too funny. She picked it up by the side that was closest to her and then couldn't see where she was going and dropped it. Second command to fetch got similar results in that this time she was holding it straight out in front of her and didn't dare move because when she did move she was unable to maintain her grip. Ok, so I helped her put the pan in her mouth the right way. The best part was that she had no trouble carrying that pan upstairs and almost all the way to the kitchen, before it defeated her and she dropped it. That pan had hardly hit the floor when Wrap swooped in a collected it.

In the kitchen, I managed to "drop" or "accidentally" bump a pill bottle, pen, leash, plastic bowl and plastic spoon. The pen rolled under the island in the middle of the kitchen. Sanity actually used her paw to knock it out so she could retrieve it for me. I am walking on cloud 9, because I sense the retrieve battle is over and she now sees retrieving as useful work. YEAH!!!!! On to scent work and more on directional retrieving. Will be adding jumping to the mix as well. Now, except for the blasted stand, the training will be interesting for both of us.

Even though the sun did finally come out yesterday, it really wasn't enough to suit Sanity. That, plus the damp, cold, gray of today just seemed to really add more fuel to the normal buzz-bomb outdoors creature she morphs into when the door is opened in the morning. She started by chasing Lilly around the yard until Lilly dropped in her tracks and simply refused to budge. I made her practice her distance sit. Next she moved on to Rosie and chased her around one tree after another until Rosie went and "hid" on the porch. This caused her to go off looking.

She set her sights on Marley and the rope tug toy he was carrying around. For the next 15 minutes or so she and Marley tugged. Back and forth across the yard, war noises, head shaking, pulling first one way and then another. Every so often I would insist on a remote sit. The real capper was when she sat and continued to hang onto the rope tug. Finally, Marley gave up and let her have the rope. Only that really wasn't exactly what she wanted, so she dropped the rope and took off after Sage. Sage ran. Sanity gave chase. Every time Sage would slow down Sanity would grab the tip of her tail and give it a pinch. Sage would squeak. I would make Sanity do a remote sit and then release her. The chase would be on again. Finally Sage dove under the wheelbarrow and refused to come out to play anymore.

Looking around for her next victim/oops! I mean playmate, Sanity spotted Trevor. He is always good for some fun. First you chase him until he drops the ball he likes to carry around. Then you grab the ball and run with it, making sure to stay just far enough ahead so he can't quite catch you. Oh, and when he gives up you drop the ball and try to get around behind him, the better to pinch his butt. Finally, Trevor hid out in one of the dog houses. Sammie, is that Sammie?

Oh yes, Sammie had been wandering around the yard all this time not bothering or being bothered. Sanity began to stalk poor Sammie. Once Sammie realized what was stalking her she made a tearing beeline for her tree. Up the tree she shot, leaving Sanity at the bottom, carefully studying just how she did that. Why do I suspect I am going to look at that tree one day soon to see a Doberman perched 10 feet off the ground?

Group class
It was Diane's turn to teach the Novice class last night so Sanity got to do group stays. (She broke her sit/stay.) Then while the rest of the class worked on heeling, she and I worked on the stand. Well that is, we worked on it until the ecollar went dead. I really must start putting the collar and transmitter in their chargers at night instead of waiting, cause the darn thing seems to have a habit of running out of "juice" at most inconvenient times. My placing the collar around Sanity's waist sure did raise a whole lot of questions. I know exactly what I will be teaching for a portion of the next Novice class I am scheduled to teach. Meanwhile, her response to the stand command is getting better at a rapid rate and neither of us is becoming annoyed with the other and I am not breaking my back with having to lean over constantly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Day 181

The rain comes down and it is actually almost 60 degrees outside. Better wet than white. Either way, it means my office is jammed with dogs. Just as soon as it gets full light and the rain slows down a bit everyone will get tossed outside and then the real work begins. This looks to be one of those days where I spend most of my time letting dogs out or bringing wet dogs in, drying them off, only to let them back out again. Not fun.

Sanity and Lilly very much want/need to play and get rid of some of the overnight build-up of energy. There is just no room in this tiny space for any true play. I frown on it and so do all the adult dogs. So they are learning how to control their movements. Meanwhile, I just keep on reminding myself that this too is an important part of their training.

Finally the rain began to slow down and I sent just about everyone outside for a quick trip while I went in to put on my shoes and socks and make the bed. Sanity actually came along on her own rather than waiting for me to call her. She retrieved both my socks and then my shoes on single commands and best of all she went around behind me and retrieved my slippers without my even telling her to. Now that is what I call progress and it is the thing I have been waiting and hoping would happen. When I told her "thank you" for the second slipper, I swear she smiled.

Spent about 40 minutes this afternoon working on recovering the lost or misplaced stand. She was so determined to NOT stand that I finally took the ecollar from around her neck, lengthened the strap and put it around her waist. Then with it set on 2 low/constant we got really serious about her letting me position her feet and her leaving them where I placed them. We also worked on her stopping in a stand position while heeling and finally coming up into a stand from a sit. I am looking for a response to the verbal command where the moving stand and the sit to stand are concerned and I also want to be able to hand place each foot, her head and tail without her resisting me. By the end of the session she was much more relaxed about the entire process. Guess this is going to be our next "do it every single day" exercise.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Day 180

Around the world of Sanity in 180 days. At some point in just the last few days, Sanity has gone from pesty puppy to playground director. I just realized that not only is she the one leading all the mischief, but she is also the one everyone is looking to when they want action/play/adventure. When Sanity has to come in the house to do "housework" all the dogs in the yard just sort of drop in their tracks and fall asleep.

I just came across this quote and I think I shall embrace it.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Even though it is cold and damp outside I did manage to get in some training time working on the remote sit. It is slowly getting better. I can now get her to sit on a single command from about 8' away. That may not seem like a very big deal but for one thing. I only give the command when she is very busy and pretty much totally engaged in something of great interest to her. This means I only get to practice it maybe 3 or 4 times on any given day.

Here I just gave her a sit command that meant she had to leave the stick to Lilly and sit facing me. She did it on the single command, but as you can see that sure isn't a smile on her face.
If it were summertime and I was outside all the time, then we would get in far more practice. It isn't summer, it is that dire and dreaded, most worst time of the year as far as I am concerned. Winter! How I long for sun, warmth, green trees and grass. How many days do I still have before they finally get here? That said, is it any wonder that her outside skills are taking so long?

Her skill at manipulating others just keeps on improving as can be seen here:

She is fearless and takes on all comers.And when lack of weight or your youth get in the way of success then do the grovel number and still get what you want. Right after this picture was shot, Marley walked away in total disgust and Sanity pranced off with the stick.

A little bit later Marley and Lilly turned up playing with a ball and you guessed it, Sanity was no longer interested in the stick. Never fear, I did step in and send her to the "corner" for poor playground manners (after I took the picture).

In the retrieve department she is blowing hot and cold. One minute she is volunteering to pick up a dropped Coke bottle and the next she is flat refusing to pick up a toy. Since refusals are not a option around here, she had to pick up the toy 3 more times, just because she refused it once. Later this evening we will head for the studio and work on the stand command. Hope it isn't too hard on my back.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Day 179

This is the super quiet time of the year for me. Very few students, very few boarders and few, if any board and train dogs in the house. Sanity is filing her protest in every way she can. There is just not enough activity to suit her taste. By the time Rosie got here at a little after 9 Sanity was about to crawl out of her skin or maybe it was that I was about to skin her. Not sure which.

Rosie came through that gate and the two of them were off. Around and around and around the yard, spinning in and out between the trees then around them. First one in the lead and then the other. Eventually, Rosie got tired and wanted to quit and rest. In order to do that she had to resort to hiding on the porch. With the loss of Rosie as a playmate Sanity tried baiting poor Annabelle, who flat refused to do anything other than be a "hole dweller" and threaten to rip Sanity's face off if given a chance. Course that didn't happen, first because Sanity is way too fast and second because I threatened to skin her if she didn't stop worrying poor Annabelle.

Then came the Newfies. Thank goodness! First she annoys them enough to get them to chase her. The chase lasts until first one then the other tire of the game. After that, Leo pretty much either just stands still or lumbers along with this (in)Sane creature leaping over him, dashing around him and in some cases managing to somehow shoot under him only to then turn and jump over him. I will have to say, that based on his responses he actually seems to like what she is doing. Dogs sure can be strange sometimes. Callie, on the other hand, tolerates it for all of about 3 seconds and then gives her an ugly face that makes clear the fact that she has worn out her welcome. The ugly face triggers a bow, a grovel and Sanity is off to pester someone else.

I actually took several pictures. This is what most of them looked like. I call it "The Blur". Shoot, by the time I pushed the button and the shutter clicked she was totally out of the picture and because they were in chase mode, so were the Newfies. After completely wearing out every dog on the property and complaining about being bored for a time, she was ready to work. Would I work her before that super-heated steam was released? No way! It would be a total waste of time and I don't have the energy to waste on something that foolish.

I did discover that I must go back and rework the stand. I have been so fixated on the retrieve that I have pretty much let a lot of things slide. Seems the stand she had has withered away from lack of tending. So back to the beginning I must go with it.

The evening class was just the right place to test her dumbbell retrieve. She managed 3 25 foot retrieves of the dumbbell right into the faces of Wrap, Molly and Lightning. Didn't even so much as "blink" at the prospect of having to run straight at them and take that dumbbell. I sort of got the impression that after the challenge of figuring out how to retrieve all the different objects I keep on hitting her with, the dumbbell retrieves are now play.

Funny thing, play. I never was very good at just playing with my dogs and that has become more and more apparent as the years roll by. So the last thing I did at the end of class was to pull out a "retrieve/tug toy" and try to reward her with some play. All I can say is that lasted for all of about 5 seconds and then it became a working retrieve, much to the amusement of my students. I overheard one of them saying, "well, so much for the play idea."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day 178

Here is a picture of what Sanity worked on retrieving this morning.

Then we went out to breakfast with Randy and Paulette and this is what we looked like with Sanity practicing a down under the table. It was cold and windy outside. I don't have a clue as to where my brain was parked, but I do know I didn't manage to get it in gear. Poor Sanity had to deal with that cold, hard floor. Normally, I would have put a sweatsuit on her and like I said, I don't know what I was thinking about. She was not a happy camper, but did try hard to be good about it.

Jake and Lilly got to ride along and they waited in the car while we all went in to eat. This is what Sanity looked like in the car.

After she had a chance to get used to the idea of riding scrunched up on the floor at my feet this is what she looked like.

Then because of the tight quarters she was able to do something she has been wanting to do for weeks and weeks. She got to check out the inside of the camera. "Hello! Anyone in there?"

All this just was a lead up to the real reason for the outing. Jake and Lilly have a new bathtub and they were gracious enough to offer its use to Sanity. So Sanity got her first Maryland bath. As you can see, she turned into the incredible shrinking Doberman.Nasty, icky, wet waterWell, it is warm and maybe it doesn't feel so bad after all.Finally, clean and well rinsed, the climb out of the tub is undertaken.

After the bath we all headed upstairs to the family room for a lovely visit. Jake and Lilly were both very generous with all their toys and not bothered at all by the fact that Sanity finds it very difficult to hold still for long in any one spot and no toy is worth more than about 2 minutes before it is time for the next one. This was a day of many first.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Day 177

This morning I had Sanity retrieve my shoes, socks and the slippers. She did the first sock without a hitch. Then came the troubles. The second sock she decided to kill and keep for herself. NOT! So this meant five repetitions of retrieving a simple sock before I finally got a retrieve I was satisfied with, only to send her for the first shoe and be told to "get lost". NOT!

And so, we argued over both shoes and then over both slippers. In the end she managed to retrieve all of them in a manner I found to be at last acceptable. Sent Sanity, Wrap and the singleton boarder outside while I did a few things. After a week of staying out of the flower bed, I can only conclude there just wasn't enough activity going on outside and so she must have burned off some of that energy by jumping back and forth over the fence, while taking the time to tear up a thing or two. At this point, I am thinking I really am going to figure out a way to cobble together some sort of top. I think if I use it long enough to get in a couple good corrections, she will take her leaking energy elsewhere. Better to do it now while the flowerbed is dormant than to be crying and moaning about it in the spring.

And then there was the matter of the plastic knife. I know it was stolen from the counter in the kitchen. I know she planed on chewing it up. I know she sure didn't expect it to become the retrieve object of the week. Over and over we practiced retrieving that fool knife. Over and over she claimed she couldn't see it. Well yes, it is true that if you lay on top of it you won't be able to see it, but that does not exempt you from the requirement of retrieving it because I said so.

Then there was the insistence that it was too close to the floor and too flat. Sorry, but that dog won't hunt, cause you are the one who stole it from the kitchen counter to begin with and now you will be responsible for retrieving it. Later, while outside I managed to catch her looking first with interest and then starting to jump back into the flower bed. Humm...there seems to be a pattern here somewhere.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Day 176

I wanted to take some pictures of Sanity this morning. It was her first day wearing the shoulder pack that I normally use as my purse. Unfortunately that want was not to be, seems I forgot to change the batteries and with no batteries the camera was totally dead. I am such a dolt, having to confess I noticed the tiny blinking light a couple of days ago and even mentioned it to a couple of people. Mentioned it, as in, "gee, I wonder why that thing is blinking". So ok, now I know.

When I first put the "in training" vest on Sanity she was very proud of it and really strutted around. Seems wearing the shoulder pack is a tad bit different. Don't know if it was the weight or just the different feel, but for a short time she seemed to want to take it off. Then a switch clicked over in her brain and she seemed to realize that this was a real job and got all serious. By the time we had reached the nail salon she was more than ready to do this newest of jobs.

When we were ready to leave the shop I noticed there was a fellow outside with a blower strapped to his back. He was blowing the parking lot and sidewalks clean of trash and debris. Since this would be a new thing, something Sanity had not been exposed to, I choose to stop at the door and put the leash on her. Leashes are funny things. It seems to me they transfer a large chunk of responsibility from the dog to the owner the instant the thing is attached to the dog's collar.

We went out the door, the fellow swung the blower around because he had no way of knowing we were coming and sure enough Sanity's first reaction was to shy away. Without the leash she would have jumped too far from me and lost her mental contact. As it was, the leash was just enough to give her pause, she looked over to where I was, readjusted herself in time to the taps I gave on the ecollar and we continued on as if nothing had happened. As for the fellow with the blower, well he turned it off until we were in the car. A thing I have mixed emotions about; one part of me was glad he turned it off since I didn't want all that dirt blown on me. The other part was sorry he turned it off since I would have liked to have had a chance to work her around it for a bit. Ah well, I'm sure there will be other chances.

The retrieve saga continues. Last night she refused to pick up my shoes for me, corrected her and we worked through it. I was so depressed, wondering when this long battle of wills would come to an end. Then this morning she carried a food pan from the crate room up the stairs on the first try. In fact, she pretty much ran up the stairs with that pan. Of course once she reached the top of the stairs she dropped it with a clang. That part was pretty funny. I was in the midst of praising her for making it up the stairs when she dropped it and I had to stop the praise. Before I could give the pan back to her or even get a single sound out of my mouth, Wrap shot past at top speed, snagging the pan on her way to the kitchen. Sanity just stood there with this "what do I do now" look on her face. Too funny. Me? I left her standing there and followed Wrap to the kitchen. Then Wrap and I pretty much had a good laugh at Sanity's expense. Wonder just what she will do tomorrow morning.

Part two of the retrieve came while we were at the nail salon. When getting ready to leave I dropped the leash. Without thinking about it I said, "Fetch" and she did!! Being the greedy soul that I am, I just had to drop it 3 more times. Each time she retrieved it for me. Now as I sit here typing this out she walked passed, noticed an empty Coke bottle sitting on the floor beside the desk and guess what?

You got it. She came back, looked at it for a moment and then picked it up and handed it to me. I am so happy I could almost cry because I know the turning point has been reached. From this point on, even though we will backslide now and again, I know the biggest battle of all is over. Done. Finished and we are on our way.

Footnote: as I was proofing this entry Sanity showed up with three more "offerings". Things she would previously have shredded or eaten, only now she is bringing them to me.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Day 175

What a jerk she was this morning. I really need to look good with the demos I needed to do and she chooses this time to pull one of her "I don't do this stuff and I am being put upon" numbers. Ended up putting her in a kennel run with all the other dogs and having Wrap come out and do the demos for me. Sure did make Wrap happy.

Later while fixing lunch I had one of my drop-it spells and just kept on dropping things. I hate that. "Fingers hold", says my brain. "Go to H", says the fingers. Wrap was somewhere else in the house and most likely fast asleep. Sanity was standing right there watching me. Water bottle hits the floor, "Sanity, fetch" and she does and she sits crooked, but in front of me and delivers it to hand. I close my fingers over it, or more to the point my brain says "fingers close". I say "give" and the bottle just slips out of my hand. "Sanity, fetch". And she does.

A few minutes later I dropped a pill bottle. "Sanity, fetch" and so she does. Then after lunch when I was having a problem getting up I called her to me to do a stand and brace. Not a serious one, but still the help would have been nice. She comes, she drives me half crazy with her dancing around, finally gets in position, I say stand. She locks it up and feels pretty solid. So I start to stand and at the critical juncture where there is the least amount of balance...she sits and dumps me back in the chair. Guess she just doesn't want me to get to complacent about how the training is going. She dances away and I swear she is laughing at me.

Evening and off we go to class. This is my night to teach the Novice class and I bring along my new "toy". Everyone in the class has a chance to try out the new tiny training table. Then I leave it sitting in the center of the training floor, send Sanity to it and that is where she perches for pretty much the rest of the class except when I call her. My goal is to be able to call her out to teach something and then send her back and to be able to do this with little more than the twitch of my finger. In time, I hope she will be like all her predecessors and know my teaching style so well that I won't have to call her or send her away at all. She will know because of what I am teaching when to appear and when to leave. But that sort of working partnership takes a couple of years of work to fine tune. I have hope we will get there in record time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Day 174

When she is good, she is very, very good. This morning I had to do a new puppy consultation. The pup in question, a not very friendly, 4 month old Neapolitan Mastiff, wanted no parts of me or any thing else going on. When the time came, I called Sanity to join us in the office. She had been sleeping in a dog bed in the hallway just outside the office. For the first time ever, she jumped the baby gate, did a tight 4-point touchdown and hopped right up onto the loveseat just like she had been doing it all her life. She did every single thing I ask her to do and all I had to do was whisper my wishes.

I think she really sold the lessons for me, because as they were leaving the wife said to me, "You will be hearing from us again. We will be back. I want a dog just like that" and she pointed to Sanity.

During the next lesson I noticed the strangest thing. Sanity will willingly take the place command when the destination is a step stool, placeboard, the new training table, or even a folding chair, but she just doesn't seem to get it when the goal is the negative space. Strange. It is something I shall try to focus on over the next few days.

I needed to call on her to demo the "open on command" phase of the retrieve. The thing I needed the most was to be able to show how the dumbbell or other item is to be rested against the lips, the command given and then the keeping of the object touching the lips until the mouth is opened. Considering how she has been behaving towards the entire process the past several days, I said to my student, "this should be a great demonstration. You will get to see me actually making the response I want the only one. Watch how I maintain contact with her lips until she opens. Don't be surprised if it takes a moment or two before she finally opens her mouth. Also remember, she doesn't have to do anything other than open her mouth at this stage."

So okay, student is set up as far as what to expect. I have Sanity jump up on the training table, choose an empty .5L water bottle as the object, slip my hand in the collar, move the collar up to behind the ears, snug it up, then in one fluid move the bottle appears and touches her lips at the same time I say "fetch".

And she does!

What's this? For days she has been insisting there was no way she could do this thing. No way a plastic water bottle would fit in her mouth at my request. Now its...pop in and holding. Amazing.

Not to be deterred I switch to an empty Coke can. I get the same results. Good girl, you are a very good girl, even if I was totally expecting something else. In very rapid fire I try a folded up leather leash, a folded up cotton longe line, a plastic ring, a paper bag, a cotton glove. She calmly opens her mouth, takes the object and holds it. There is no hesitation, no arguing, just this pup with a very smug expression on her face. All I can do is laugh and hug her. Sure enough did mess up my planned demonstration, as if I care. Do I sense a break through on the horizon?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Day 173

Ah Sanity. You scream your rage and defiance at me two, three times a day. I remain calm and implacable in my insistence that you will fetch when I say fetch. And fetch will not just mean a dumbbell. See, I know this is just a passing phase that you will soon grow beyond.

I know what goes on when you are out in the yard with the other dogs. There are many times during the day when your screams of that same rage and defiance is at one of the older dogs. It is all a part of growing and even though it is rather painful to have watch and listen to, I know that one day soon you will have your epiphany and when that light bulb goes on it will give a blinding light.

I am content to wait, watch, guide and mold you as you move along this most difficult of transitions. The passage from puppy to young adult always seems to be the most difficult for the most gifted.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Day 172

Monday and it really is time for Sanity to start learning how to do the morning chores. So this morning she was assigned the task of carrying one pan from the crate room upstairs and to the kitchen. Mind you, we are not talking about a full retrieve. Oh my, no! All she had to do was hold the pan in her mouth, walk from the crate room a very short distance to the stairs and then climb said stairs.
She was sure I was requiring a Mt. Everest climb without any support staff.

Fifteen minutes of trying and failing before she finally managed to make to the top of the stairs. By that time I was more than willing to readjust my goals and say that reaching the top of the stairs really was the goal for the day. Of course, while this struggle was going on Wrap was systematically carrying one pan after another up and leaving them in the kitchen. Wrap never was able to do a very good job at stacking the pans and this morning she choose to show her disgust by leaving the dirty pans scattered all over the kitchen floor. She also refused to have anything to do with Sanity for the rest of the morning.

Meanwhile, the work continued and Sanity quickly came out of her funk to help with the transfer training of two dogs who were going home after having been here for a month. Next we got to play with a new "toy".

This is Sanity's Monday morning friend, fellow student and playmate testing out the new portable training table. It is 18" square and has several different heights. In this shot of Leo the table is set at 12". Since Leo is just 10 months of age, I guess you can sort of tell he is going to be one BIG fellow when he is full grown.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Day 171

Sunday and I insisted that a shoe be retrieved in the morning and then I did the "unforgivable". I insisted a toy be retrieved in the afternoon. The day finished up with me at the bottom of the list of fun things.

Wrap is really getting disgusted with Sanity's being such a dolt about fetching. It is actually funny to watch. She sits on the sidelines and watches. I say fetch and Sanity says, "make me". Meanwhile, Wrap gets this sort of sour, pinched-lip, slit-eyed look and sort of glowers at Sanity. Eventually, my insistence and Wrap's glaring gets through the thick head and Sanity then does what she is supposed to do. Once she gets it right, I stop, and most interesting of all is that Wrap gives a loud sigh and leaves the room.

The flip side of the Wrap/Sanity interaction right now is that when Sanity gets it right the first time Wrap will invite her to play for a minute or two. This is a new one for me. The first time I have ever had an older dog so involved with the training of a predecessor that approval/disapproval was so clearly shown. Since Sanity does seem to want Wrap's approval just about as much as she wants mine, I think what Wrap is doing is a really big help. Sanity truly does have a tough act to follow when it comes to stepping into Wrap's super large shoes.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Day 170

Saturday retrieve class was just this class, you know. As far as Sanity was concerned it was no more interesting than a week two beginner's class. But wait! There was this extra thing tossed in. We got to try out a new prototype, small, and quite portable place table. No pictures just yet, but I will have some just as soon as I get at least one of the new tables here to stay.

Sanity is still having a bit of a problem maintaining ownership over her rear legs. She is still not sure just how long they are or where they happen to be located at any given time. This meant the new table was a bit of a puzzle at first. She was also just a little confused when I told her to fetch while she was sitting on this new table. What? You mean you want me to get off the table and actually do what?

It worked out just fine in the end and she was able to hop off the table, fetch the dumbbell and then hop back up on the table to do what will one day be a really nice sit/front for delivery to hand. Yes, I sure do like this latest of training aids. That was the good part of the day.

Now for the bad part of the day. There is no longer any question as to what is happening to my flower bed. The destruction monster hops over the 4' fence as if it was all of 6" tall. Shoot she can hop over it from a stand. All she does is sort of squat down in the rear a little bit and then bam! she is on the other side. This part of the training is going to take some effort on my part. I suspect the fire breathing dragon is going to have to move in and do its bit before this issue gets solved.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Day 169

Sanity did several (8?/10?) retrieves from different angles while we waited our turn for the usual Friday nail stuff. Not bad, not bad at all. It was especially good since the remote was deader than a proverbial door nail and so other than my voice and good will she was "on her own".

This evening I upped the ante by giving her a fetch command when she was half asleep on the loveseat. The meant she had to process the command, get up, turn herself around, get off the loveseat and go get the dumbbell. This is how she looked when I gave the command to fetch.

After doing 5 successful retrieves, I got greedy and introduced a folded up nylon leash as the retrieve object. No problem. She stepped right up and brought it back each time I gave the fetch command. That made 5 more successes.

Greed is an awful thing. No way could I be satisfied with that and so the last thing we did was to work on retrieving a Coke can. This one being an empty. The first two weren't bad, but then she clamped down just enough to take the can out of round. The next three retrieves were really hard for her to handle. She really struggled with just how to pick the thing up. And now she is back lounging on the loveseat.

Once she got that last success, I finally had sense enough to quit while I was ahead.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day 168

This morning Sanity and I headed for the studio and the first real work session in almost two weeks. For 30 minutes we worked on fetch, sit, come and heel. By the end she was doing a tossed 10' retrieve, sitting on command when 6' from me and struggling with the difference between come and heel. So I would have to say the vacation did us both some good.

With evening came the return to the Thursday evening class. Since it was Diane's turn to teach it, Sanity and I worked as a part of the class with me working on my scooter handling skills and Sanity working on, humm...

staying out of the way of the crazy scooter driver. We are actually getting a little better in both departments. She also did her first series of 6' tossed retrieves in a new place. All were good ones as far as the going out, the pick up and the first part of the return. She is still having a problem with figuring out just how to sit in front of me for the delivery to hand, but that will come.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Day 166 and 167

I continue to refuse to work her. She is really getting desperate. I say GOOD!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Day 165

Other than helping out with a lesson in the morning, she is still not working. Or more to the point, I am not working her. The amount of trouble she is managing to get into is truly awesome. I suspect she is going to be more than ready to start working again in a few more days.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Day 164

New Year's Day and much to Sanity's dismay, there was once again NO TRAINING. I think she is getting right tired of the time off. Jersey went back to New Jersey today and somehow I got the feeling that her leaving suited Sanity just fine.