Sunday Funday (Takes a Lot of Work)

We had a decidedly non-dog-centric weekend. Sorry guys. I even had the chance to go to Club Practice on Saturday afternoon, but I shined it. We had a bunch of people come over for brunch yesterday morning and I bailed on practicing Forest’s weaves and distraction thresholds and bitchy MACH ladies in lieu of making quiche and scrubbing the deck. I don’t think Forest was too upset about it.

The weather is really starting to freakin’ annoy me. Its Summer. June Gloom is the norm, but that means it burns off. Its not burning off (that is unless you are at a trial in Escondido where you get convection-cooked), its staying freaking gloomy, wet and doomy. Good for agility, but not for enjoying the rest of my life.

Class tonight… Our attempts at playing and mat work at home have been less-than-stellar. He seems to have officially decided he hates anything agility-related at home. Which means I have to trick him into thinking we are not doing agility. Or maybe trick myself. Also been looking for a tunnel, but those things are stupid expensive. Cost of tunnel, plus new stuffable-food-tug, plus a crate fan and/or cool coat, equal agility being waaay more money than I should be spending. Oh, not to mention the new “agility-only” shoes I purchased last week. My attempts at managing my own personal budget are pathetic at best. At least the running contacts box should be cheap to make as my hired manual labor is free-fifty-free….

I did meet up with Pierre’s “guardian”—as they like to say in rescue circles—at the park on Saturday AM to finish up all his paperwork. His new dad is SO cute—loves him to death, brushes his teeth, takes him on runs and to the dog park, and even went home to pick him up and bring him back to the office when he had to work late last week. And, Pierre’s new name is “Dude”, which I would think was completely ridiculous, if one of my own nicknames for him hadn’t been “Little Dude”. It was great to see him, but man it makes me miss him worse! I do have to say Pierre/Dude was waaay more excited to see me than Forest, which I relished in. I miss the little bastard even though life is exponentially more manageable with two dogs than three.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAL!

That’s what I felt like this AM in our private lesson with Laurie. Well okay, maybe a little more subdued than that, but still. Forest _PLAYED_ in class. With a TOY. He played. Maybe just for a minute or two, but god-frickin’-dammit he played. First chasing the furry tied onto the end of a lunge whip (yet another reason I love Laurie, she’s a good improviser), then he even grabbed the furry as a reward for going through the tunnel. After the third time through the tunnel or so he slowed down with this look on his face like “Hey, you guys tricked me with that stupid toy!” It was quite hilarious I thought, and we moved on to other food-based things. But seeing him actually GO for the toy coming out of that tunnel was a life changing experience. Small triumphs and great trainers. It can be done.

She assigned us our “Summer Homework” since their July-August schedule slows down a bit and we wont pick up back on a regular class schedule ’til September. Fine with me, we aren’t trialing much over the next few months (besides one here near the beach in August which should be totally doable unless a heat wave strikes, and the potential Mammoth trek). Our homework is to take the jump-mat-tunnel-mat drill on the road to as many new places as possible and work on a “routine” that then becomes our pre-run routine at trials. I love it, makes complete sense and not something I would have thought to do. Incorporating the mat as his safe place will hopefully allow him to ease into the environment at the trial and work past his spaceys.

He did try to go after one of Laurie’s dogs today when he got too close (about 25′). She got after him for it–ie. yelled at him for 2 seconds–which was fine with me. It was good though, he definitely has a low threshold for loose dogs in his space, and it is something we need to manage and work through. Again, mat work is a focus.

We also did some box work in prep for training a running A-frame. He has never been speedy on coming down the AF, and Laurie thinks a running one may be easier on him. So, get in the box dog!

She again said how well and quickly she thinks we have come along, and she likes that he is already “operant trained”–ie. it took him about 5 seconds to figure out how to get in the “box”. She also has two (of her many) dogs that have overlapping “Forest-like” traits, so shes pretty adept at pinpointing his issues and knowing where to start with handling them.

Its been interesting to read some debate on other blogs about what a trainer “owes” a student. One I was reading yesterday more or less said that if the student cant handle criticism, that they shouldn’t be doing agility. Well, I agree to some extent, but I also think it depends on the context and the delivery of the criticism as well. It takes two to tango (or three really in this case–teacher, student, dog). If the student is truly making the effort and is willing to learn and she/he and the instructor arent communicating well, I dont think that means the student cant hack it. I also think there are a lot of instructors out there who may be great at training their own dogs, but arent necessarily cut out to be teachers.

I think if you are taking someone’s money under the “contract” to teach them, you need to honestly try to work with what they present. And if after a solid try it still isnt working, instead of telling them they should try something else (ie. knitting or stamp collecting), recommend another trainer. Everyone has different chemistry. You never know, that perfect person who may get the best out of them could be just in the next town over.

I am sure some people with less manic, competitive drive than I have have given up before finding the right fit. And that is a bummer. I consider us very, very fortunate to be where we are now.

Wanderlust

I really, really want to go to this trial up in Mammoth in August. Combo’ing one of my fave places on earth with my new found obsession* of dog agility? Home run, right?

However, quite a few obstacles exist in the way of making this one happen.
. First of all, NADAC. WTF? I don’t even know where to begin. 27 classes in a day which may or may not involve things to climb on or “hoopers” or extra weaves (god forbid), or random games and rules of which I know nothing. Sweet baby jeebus. I like predictability and structure and throwing my money at old, archaic “dog racist” institutions. NADAC sounds like a bunch of free-thinking hippies. Not to mention, I am not a member. Memberships, height cards, all that extra jazz. Hmmm.

. Secondly, the traveling part. Actually, I have only been to one trial yet which did not involve traveling and spending the night away from home in some capacity (albeit only being an hour away in any which direction). This trial would involve a fairly elaborate itinerary including a 6+ hour drive each way (assuming we dont hit traffic and/or drive at acceptable velocities). And a hotel. And, realistically taking a day off from work on one end or the other. That ultimately may be the deal killer. I have two weddings to go to in October, which will be sucking up any few remaining vacation hours and extra funds I may manage to accumulate in the meantime, not to mention the annual September family backpacking trip which could get booted in favor of dog agility.**

. Thirdly, would that just be too much to ask of Forest? Drive in car a million hours, spend night in hotel, then perform for a day or two, then back into the car for another million hours? Or, is it a good test/proof of our agility skillz? Hmmm…

But, agility, in the Sierras? I mean come on, it doesnt get much cooler than that. And it only comes around once a year… what to do, what to do… Maybe it will just hinge on whether or not I can talk Pete into it. I just poo-pooed going up there for the 4th of July, then turned around and said guess where there is a trial?!?!? Its any wonder he is still hanging around with me. One of these days he may just pack up and take his dog with him, then, I will be in trouble.***

.

* Sorry snowboarding, you got kicked down the totem pole by badly sloganed tees and floppy-brimmed sun hats. I bought my pass, but we’ll see if next season’s showing is as pathetic as my last…
** My family currently thinks I am sliding into an inescapable crazy dog lady crevasse. Should I confirm or deny?
*** Technically, Forest is dog of Pete. Yep. Not even my dog… Really.

Happy Sad (and Hot)

So, we dropped Pierre off at his new home last night. On paper, I wasnt sure this guy was going to work out, but once I met him and got to know him decided he was a great fit for Pierre. He is young and a renter (gasp!), but he is very thoughtful and has thought out how he will incorporate a dog into his life well before actually getting the dog. He asked all the right questions, like what size crate to get, what brand of food he eats, what his schedule is. He emailed me a few times over the week asking the status of Pierre as he knew we had other people applying for him as well. We sat with him for an hour last night and went over everything in excruciating detail. He ate it all up.

I was depressed last night when we got home. I missed the busy body little black face buzzing around the table while we ate our half-assed dinner (Round Table bleh). I missed him harassing Forest into playing with him, missed him leaping uninvited 6′ out from the couch into my lap. When we went into our bedroom to call it a night, his crate wasnt in the corner under the window anymore. It made me sad. I had my worry dreams about him all night in and out of consciousness. I miss my little black Bart, but I know this will be the best for him, and I am happy for him.

On the other hand, it is a relief to have a quiet house again with two dogs that know their jobs, know how to ask to go outside, can relax. It seems so quiet, but I think we are ready for that for a while.

We did have a trial this weekend. Forest was tough–I am learning that when it is even close to hot, he quits. I wont even recount the first day, other than it was hot and neither of us handled it well. Yesterday we got to the site, but were backed up by a bunch of traffic due to a brushfire that had broken out across the street. Sweet!!! Helicopters were buzzing the trial all afternoon dumping water and fire stuff on the hillside.

Our first JWW was a repeat of the day before (multiple off courses and me deciding to bow out only halfway through), but by some miracle of god and some unfathomable sucky handling we got through standard with a 100. With helicopters buzzing us while on course. No joke. He got up on the table as they were directly overhead and I thought to myself—this is the end—but pretended like it was the best thing ever, and we made it all the way through, nailing the weaves and all. This dog baffles me. Or maybe I baffle him. I have no idea. But, we got our first open Q. Go us.

Other best parts of the trial were having my BFF and sister there on Saturday. BFF and sister and I grew up riding horses and going to school together, so it was awesome to have her there. She is my one of 2 girlfriends who I can talk to about agility because she’s stuck with me for this long, she’s not going to ditch me now for being crazy dog lady. And moms came yesterday, made us lunch and iced tea. It was nice having a support crew.

Updating will be sporadic this week. I have a crappy work week and will be jamming to catch up on everything I have been procrastinating on for the last month. I have been really, really bad at work recently, and I am about to catch hell for it. My boss is a whack job, but I am also digging my own grave. I need to get back on track. Less dog blog reading and writing, more selling the magic of expensive sunglasses! Cant wait…

Our Routine

Every morning I have this little routine of shuffling dogs around before I go to work. Who stays, who goes, occasionally who gets crated. At some point I have to put my shoes on. Sometimes I’ll try to sneak out, which means the pack is elsewhere and I ever-so-quietly put my shoes on and sneak out before anyone notices. Other days, or most days really, they are all there bouncing and yowling and teeth-fencing, hoping-wishing-praying that they all get to go with me, wherever this wondrous place that I am going is.

I sit down on the stairs with my socks and shoes. My new trainer Laurie, wants me to encourage Forest to be naughty and not so polite. I am trying to comply, but it sure doesnt make my household goings on any easier. Forest is grabbing at my socks, getting one away from me and I am trying not to get in a tug of war with him while also not discouraging him to tug (?!?). Diego is gurgling and banging into my legs, or maybe crawling up my shins with his not-so-delicate toenails. Pierre is stationed behind me on a higher stair, looking over my shoulder at all the chaos. I get one sock on and Forest starts gnawing on the sock with my foot in it. Pierre decides this looks like fun and snakes around from behind into my lap. Forest now is in my lap as well, and an all out teeth-bashing-meowling-fest is breaks out six inches from my face. Diego cannot let anyone else have fun on his watch, so he starts barking and growling and getting all huffy. During all this I somehow manage to get the other sock and the shoes on. I stand up, displacing various dog bodies, and get ready to tackle the next challenge, getting out the door…


In Pierre news, we met his first suitor the other night. He was pretty young, but very enthusiastic. This is going to be a tough one, the other couple that wants him is pretty young too. Supposed to meet up with them this weekend when we are trialing down in San Diego, so we’ll see how it goes. He just gets better and better at our place, its going to be hard to let him go. However, the allure of having one less dog to take care of is pretty enticing as well!

Hopeful…

We had an interesting weekend, most of which involved me dragging dogs and dog crates around. Yesterday was our second adoption event. Pierre was a champ, but no one really showed much interest. Part of that is probably a factor of him having to be crated unless he is being held on a leash. He will climb out of the X-pens so he is confined. Boo. Or maybe it has to do with that he is black and not so glamorous-looking? I have no idea. Anyways, that was a bust (not to mention I got put on volunteer set-up and tear-down duty as well, yay!).

However, I listed him on craiglist. Eeegads, I know. However, all due respect to my rescue, they are overwhelmed and cant handle what they have on their plate, and as far as I know, we have gotten zero bites on their end via Petfinder, adoption events, etc. So, I am taking matters into my own hands.

I was hesitant about craigslist, but put it all out there and figured I’d be stuck sifting through a bunch of idjits—I listed his requirements, the fees, etc., etc. I got a bite, which is definitely serious, not a scammer. He didnt hesitate at the few questions I asked via email and said he’d fill out the app and bring it when we meet tomorrow after work. He gets plus points for living nearby so we can jump in and assist if necessary. The last email he sent me makes me hopeful, “Omg he is perfect! Exactly what I’m looking for. Hopefully we have a good connection. See you tomorrow!” The part that he recognizes they will need to connect is good. The “Omg” part, not so sure… He sounds young, but thats not a bad thing, this dog needs someone to drag him everywhere with them, I hope this guy is it… fingers crossed.

Forest and I have class tonight, string cheese on a rope is our friend. Trial next weekend down in SD. Its semi-near my stomping ground so should have the support system of mom, sis and BFF there with us, as well as some agility friends I haven’t seen in a while. Should be fun (and hopefully not too warm! I will be doing my overcast dances this week…).

UPDATE: We now have not one, but TWO suitors for Pierre! Another one came through Petfinder/his rescue. Think positive thoughts for my little Black Bart and finding his new home! I am already starting to get sad about parting with him—Pete said he’d do the “hand-off” when it comes down to it. But, first things first…

Diego Drama, Forest Fun, Pierre Pining…

Poor Diego. He is having a really hard time with the foster sitch. Like he’s devolving into a little unbehaved miserable monster, picking fights and marking in the house and being generally unpleasant to be around. I simultaneously want to throttle him and feel horribly bad for him. I am contemplating sending him on “vacation” to Pete’s parents’ house for a few weeks. He loves it there and will be the center of attention, therefore hopefully happy… And, it would give all of us a much needed breather. However, I feel bad booting my own very first and special dog to make room for a foster. The few people I have mentioned it to look at me like I am demon spawn for even uttering such things… ugh. I dont know…

Though I do recall now, last year, not long after we got Forest, Diego started drinking water like a mad man. Which led to him not being able to hold it for more than a few hours at a time, which became a problem obviously. I took him to the vet multiple times, they said he was possibly, maybe pre-Cushings and charged me a shitboat of money. He got over it and I still probably havent paid off the balance on my card… I wonder if this is his latest “adjustment” phase? Either way, I still feel like a bad dog parent.

Here he is sulking stylishly under my favorite chairs out in the patio. (Make that my favorite totally-un-taken-care-of-chairs. They are beggining to rust from me allowing them to be outside… heresy.)

Cuddling with his “real” brother and Pete…


Diego just wants to be loved and not displaced by other jerk dogs…

In other more happy news, we went to the Fun Match today. Forest was great. Like so, so great. He was happy-time-city, and fast and mostly brave (this time he wasnt a fan of the teeter, but no major misshaps or anything). We played with our cheese on a rope and he was doing some great weaves in the practice area. Hoo-ray Forest. Maybe I am learning how to make agility fun. Or at least am getting a quick peek at it. It is addicting…

Poor Pierre—I drug him all the way out to the Match thinking that I would swing down to the adoption event afterwards and drop him off for a few hours. Well, I had the wrong day–grrrr. So, back out to RSM tomorrow. He, however was a total champ, chilling in his crate and for the most part being an angel while Forest and I played and we drove around SoCA. He is so good, why can’t I find him a home??? The clock is ticking…