Diego’s Dramatics–aka the Good Dog Gets the Short End of the Stick

Poor little Diego. He has it tough being the Good Dog of our household. He doesnt get all the trips and training and attention that the Wild Child does. Usually he’s a sport about it; as long as he’s somewhere in the fray, he’s fine. Yesterday however he had a total meltdown.

I came home from work at lunch to grab Forest and his crate so we could blast off to CU straight after work (its only 25 miles away but takes an hour in traffic–the joys of SoCal). When I was lurching out the gate with Forest, and the training bag and the huge crate, I told Diego to “wait”, which usually he does with a sad look on his face. Yesterday however he had other ideas. He scooted underneath the crate I was using as a blockade, out the gate, down the walk, and launched himself into the open back of the wagon. Which on most days no amount of cajoling–unless there are delicious treats involved–can get him to do. He was a dog on a mission, not to be left behind. I got Forest in the back, and scooped out Diego. He screamed at me, literally. Crying and screaming like a toddler. It was so funny and so sad at the same time. I held him for a minute and carried him back to the gate and placed him inside.

I called Pete to warn him of the drama and request that little D got some special time. He laughed at me but said he would take care of him when he got home. He was only a few minutes away, but apparently Diego was still crying at the front gate when he got home. Poor little man!!! They went on a walk, unleashed because thats how Good D rolls, and all seemed better.

I would love to do another CU class with Diego, but that drive is kind of killing me. I think he’d be a quick CGC study (just need to work on the dog greeting part), and even maybe a therapy dog candidate. However I am also trying to balance my own sanity with the training commutes… maybe we’ll take a session off and see if we are feeling more motivated in another 6 weeks. In the meantime, we’ll make sure he gets some private time of his own.

“Once I Wanted to be the Greatest…”

Last night at agility was good. Well really it wasn’t that good–we had some serious tunnel aversion (random), gradually deteriorating weave entries, a solid crouch on the table–neither sit nor down–and other shenanigans.

However, I was calm throughout. Maybe it was the glass of wine I had beforehand. Or the fact that I am just learning to calm the eff down. I dunno, but it was fine. And I was fine, and Forest was mostly fine (except for the part where he knows we are screwing up even though I am trying with all my might to and maybe kind of even succeeding in keeping it together and happy happy positive time but he still knows we’re screwing up and gets all wormy squirmy and wont let me grab him for a reset).

I was though blowing it on my rate of reinforcement. Being kind of lazy plus stingy as I forgot his treats from home so was feeding him turkey taken off of my dinner salad. I don’t think that helped our cause. Did the mat work though in between goes, he is definitely getting better with that.

So even though it wasnt pretty, I still felt it was a learning experience. Which is good. Right?

I was also excited to find out my friend Cat is also going to be going to her first trial right alongside of us in April. She and her Swap Meet Poodle Alfie (thats what she calls him, I think its funny) will be there with us for the inaugural Mixed Breeds Alongside the “Real Dogs” AKC Match. We agreed it is historic–even if only in a silly dog people history kind of way–and that we should be there for the kick off. She rescues mixed breeds and is a complete blast. Alfie is an amazing little dog. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I get jealous of Alfie sometimes. All dogs have their issues but damn that little dog is just so easy. He is a happy camper bouncy bouncy, never quits, never sniffs, never gets over it. He will sometimes get mad at her and bark and growl as they’re struggling through something, but man he is a good dog.

So anyway, only four more classes ’til the trial! Eeek. And one Fun Match and one Club Practice. I think we’ll be ready. And if not, then hell, we’ll be fine. And calm.

Back On Track

Not that much to report from this weekend, other than I seem to have possibly found a place to stealth train in mornings and evenings. There is a sports park about a 5-10 minute drive from our place. There is a field off to the side of the others that looks like its probably used for soccer. It is mostly fenced and in the 3 or so times I’ve been by, there hasnt been a soul there. We did a little test drive 20  minute session on Sunday morning, and all went well. My goal will be to sneak out there 1-2 times a week before or after work for some quick sessions.

Pete actually built me a set of weaves last week, which was so cool. I am so excited to use them on the field, but they are quite a bit unwieldily. He hasnt glued them together yet, so I am thinking we can keep them in 2 or 3 sections so I can manage to squish them into the car and haul them around. On top of that, I am waffling back and forth between keeping on with the already learned 6 weaves, or if we should start over with the 2x2s? I did order a bunny fur tug for Forest–we’ll see if he loves it enough to get fired up over it. Maybe I will let that be my guide. It seems pretty important to have toy drive in order for the 2x2s to work… we shall see how things work out.

Lastly, we did get a little bit of “dogs being dogs” time in this weekend. We were able to go to some private property and let them run off leash and bounce through the brush and sniff around for an hour. I wish it had been longer but Pete’s eye is making him miserable so we had to pack it up. Forest actually did not want to get in the car, I dont blame him. We actually pretended to start driving away, he came after us, but then still we had to eventually pick him up and put him in the car. Not very CU of me, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…

I do have to say it surprises me how many performance dogs don’t seem to get the time to be dogs. I haven’t figured out as many spots to do that in our new environs yet, but it seems incredibly important to me. If they have an overall satisfied state of mind by being allowed to act naturally, then why wouldn’t they just naturally be more trainable dogs?

Agility tonight!

Baggage Agility and a Big PQ This Morning

So I recently stumbled upon a great online group; Baggage Agility. Its a Yahoo Group created for people who do agility with their rescue dogs. The timing of me finding this was quite appropriate as lately I have been struggling a bit with having the only “baggage” dog in Monday night class.

They have something they have coined the “PQ”—ie a “personal Q”–and they consistently notify other posters of these events. Its a super-positive online environment from what I can tell, which is refreshing.

So, in that spirit, we had a HUGE PQ in our household this morning. We are lucky enough to be living in a place that has a well-fenced and gated courtyard. Our dogs and my Aunt’s dog are all welcome to go in and out of the house as the “yard” is secure. Somehow this morning Forest escaped. This luckily doesnt happen often, but when it is its a 19 alarm firedrill. There is a reason this dog was in the pound and I am convinced it was because he is a runner. If he does not want to be caught there is no way he will be caught unless he is cornered with no way out. Which I hate doing, but most often it is the only option in lieu of him getting squished by a car. So this morning we were prepared for the usual dog hunt up and through alleys and around and in outher people’s private properties.

Instead things took a most unusual turn. I headed out back to the alley where I could hear him barking. I saw him right away, about 100 feet down the alley. He looked scared. I called to him, as happily as I could, anticipating the cold shoulder and a bolt. Instead he looked relieved to see me and came bounding straight to me, immediately. I was in shock but quickly collected myself to throw a big ol’ party. Unfortunately I hadn’t had time to grab any treats, but believe me, he got stuffed when we got back into the house. What a champ!!!

Now if we can just get him to do that ALL the time…! Working up to it… Very happy with our guy today!

Sharing the Love (of Wacky Hobbies)

I finally got some real images of us at work from last weekend, so I couldnt contain myself and sent the email below to my family and closest confidants today….

+ + +

Hello family,

In case you were wondering what crazy dog ladies do on their free weekends (ie. every weekend), well this is it.

Here are some pics from my Practice Trial last weekend. If you have time to kill on April 3rd or 4th, love scenic Bonita and the racket of multitudes of dogs barking ad nauseum, please come and visit us at our first official trial. 🙂

Please do not forward this email as it will surely show up somewhere as future black mail. Thanks for your understanding.

xoxo,
Liz and Forest.

more action packed weaves!

how cute is this dog? (2 on 2 off on the teeter–what a good guy.)

I learned last weekend that this look means “I am about to run out of this tunnel and keep running straight out of the ring.” Still working on that.

All (as of right now not-yet-purchased) photos are by Juanda Anderson of Camera Animal.

Quickie: News Story

Apparently some nice ladies protested in the middle of the Westminster Dog Show. Link here. Not sure if I’d have the balls to do what they did, but don’t exactly disagree with them either…

I know there are good breeders out there, but they seem to be far out-populated by the bad ones. As much as I lust after a gorgeous BC or Dobie or Whippet or IG, I’m sticking with the cast offs. Especially after that BBC documentary. Eek.

Progress Report

This will be a brief post as it is late and I am mid-Sales Meeting but I wanted to record some notes from last nights class as it went very well.

Forest was a star, again. I do think through trial and error I am learning what seems to make us most successful. I worked from home yesterday so had a fairly mellow day, which means I wasnt rushing and roaring around the house before hopping on a freeway, frantically chattering into cell phone. Had plenty of time, stopped and got a *healthy!* dinner. Sat in the trunk of our wagon with the door open and watched the class before us, c/t’ing for watching other dogs and staying on his mat. I feel like I fed him a ridiculous amount of food (even though it was all teeny tiny pieces) but I really think it worked. Continued the c/t in class for being on his mat and not leaping all over me.

He stayed totally in tune with me (other than one very minor squawk at the same black dog he chased last week). Perfect on everything other than weaves, but I’ll take it. Great tables, tunnels, contacts and teeter—I did try to make sure I rewarded a lot. And man, he is so good with Jumpers. Its so fun to run him with just jumps and watch him roll. I run him extra quiet in the jumpers too, less stressful I guess?

Our weaves need work still, but if I can keep him focused on me at an actual trial, then that is all I care about at this point. Been watching a lot of YouTube vids on SG’s 2×2 weaves method. Mulling that one over. Also trying to find a toy that he will like enough to play with in class… maybe one of the furry bunny tugs? He sure was excited about that lure, need to find what will translate best…

So, overall–very happy with the little man. Its all about me managing my stress levels and reinforcing the hell out of him right now… at least until next week?

CU #4 tomorrow.