Sunday, February 10, 2008

New tasks

This is the time of year when my dogs always start to get really bored with life and especially me. Wrap, of course, is just happy to be warm and allowed to sleep most of the time. She had no complaints about retirement.

Sanity. Ah, Sanity. That is a whole other story. So in the interest of staying sane and not allowing insanity to take over we have embarked on learning a new set of commands. More for fun than work and more brain than physical exercise for both of us.

First I threw her a curve by messing with her morning routine. Instead of going downstairs, moving from kennel to kennel and collecting the dirty pans and then bringing them upstairs to the kitchen like she has been doing for more than a year I started the changes.

The new commands I'm going to teach are: drop it and look up. Once she understands them we will have a much better way of communicating. I started by staying downstairs with her and as she would fetch a pan and head for the hallway and stairs, I gave her a sit command. She acted as if I was crazy, but did turn and sit facing me.

Next I told her to drop it and helped her release the pan. Clang, it hit the floor. Didn't matter because I was already praising her for letting go. Then I told her to fetch a pan and had to handle it as a directed retrieve, while using my cane to prevent her from just picking up the one she had just dropped. Six repeats later we had all the dirty pans on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

At that point I went on upstairs to the kitchen and had her finish the job by bringing all the pans to me. We have actually been working on this for the past couple of weeks and the "drop it" command is slowly coming along in the food pan context. So last week I moved it along.

I started insisting she fetch all the toys scattered around the house and put the back in the toy box. That was even more difficult an idea for her to grasp than the pans.

"What? Pick up the toys and put them away? That's your job, not mine," sez she.

"Wrong," sez I. "You got them out so you can bloody well start putting them away."

It's coming along, but slowly. Yesterday I added "look up". Mostly that got started because I was in my lounge chair; my bottle of coke on the coffee table on the other side of the room and I really hurt too much to get up. So why not send Sanity?

The why is because if I say "fetch" she will move out in the direction I am facing or in the direction my hand has signaled and check the floor or ground. The idea of looking up for things not on the ground doesn't enter her mind. It just seemed to me she was solid enough in her understanding of "fetch", "sit", "turn" commands that I should be able to teach "look up" and not even leave my chair.

More later on how I'm teaching "look up".

Thursday, February 07, 2008

February Rant

The following started out in life as a rant sent to one of the email lists I belong to because of all the truly fuzzy thinking about things like "day of rest" and, "work".

After thinking about it for some time I came to the conculsion I really owed it to myself, if no one else to put it on my blog and then spend some time expanding on it in terms of what I see happening just in my community, much less other parts of the country.

My rant:
To bad so few know what animal husbandry means, even sadder that so few have even heard the term these days. The day of rest had to do with your beasts of burden. Those who pulled your plows, your carts and wagons. It had to do with the turnspit dog and the ox that walked the circle and ran the thrasher. It had to do with all the domestic animals that supplied the power to run the first labor saving devices. It never had to do with good husbandry. The milk givers still had to be milked twice a day. The flocks still had to be protected from predators.

I swear, I seem to have lost my sense of humor or something because for the life of me I can't tell when some of you are making a silly joke and when you are just showing ignorance of good animal husbandry practices and how work got done BEFORE we became so energy crazy.

So when animals were truly a part of our life and when our feet always touched Mother Earth and when we moved with the sun and the seasons, we cared for our charges 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. What the day of rest did is cut the work to the bare minimum. No fields were plowed. No wood chopped. No grain ground. No fiber spun or woven nor cloth cut. And sometimes to give the cook rest, the meal was prepared the night before, using slow cooking techniques. No animals were rounded up for branding,treatments, or sorting. For all to have a day of rest now would mean we would still have everything open and running all the time because they will take their day of rest on Friday and I will take mine on Saturday and you will take yours on Sunday. And to a certain extent that was the way it was done before, in the back of beyond.

Meanwhile, as the term animal husbandry falls further and further out of favor it was replaced with animal welfare. When animal welfare stopped being radical enough, it was replaced with animal rights. Now that term is falling out of favor and being replaced with animal protection. Those of us who actually know how to care for, nurture, train, sustain the animals that may come under our care need to go back to the animal husbandry term and way of looking at our interaction with animals before it is too late. Cause I'mthinking that what the welfare types weren't able to do the rights types moved along to new highs and the protection types will finish. When finished the MSN will have done its job and truly it was one generation and out, just like they said they would do. The horse industry is under heavy attack right now and they still haven't woken to the fact they may be in even more trouble than the dog/cat people. Sheep/cattle/chickens/turkeysare next in the line of fire. One more generation and most humans will be totally reduced to serfdom. Control the access to food and water and you control the entire population. It's not just about dogs and cats and it never was.

As for cats? Isn't most every day a day off?