The Superstar and the Territorial Pissings

I have learned that Forest is absolutely a “more time off” kind of dog. We’ve done a bit of practice here and there over the past few weeks, but for the most part we have been very light on the agility front for the past month or two. We had our first class last night of the newest session and he was on fire, it was so fun. Super-enthusiastic, good around the other dogs, and just really happy.

He was nailing his weave entries—he only missed once, and even then it was off a tough entry and he obviously tried, just didn’t decelerate in time. It was most definitely not a blow off. We worked the running Aframe into the courses too. Started with the box on the frame which he was great on, then removed it. He started bailing at that point so Laurie put it back in, no biggie. I will need to have a game plan pre-trial in a few weeks though for how to handle that, especially as I dont think we’ll be able to do any contact work between then and now.

In other dog news, I think I may have come to the conclusion that Diego may be OCD. Whole Dog Journal has an article about it in their newest issue and it outlines a lot of behavior chains that we are very familiar with. Normally I am really skeptical of assigning people or dogs the title of OCD (I think in probably 80% of kids that get slapped with that label its straight up BS). But, Diego undoubtedly has a lot of anxiety issues which he manifests through blanket and toy sucking/nursing, excessive and spastic water drinking, and now, and most charmingly—marking throughout the house anytime he feels uncomfortable or threatened.His favorite move is to mark the packages that get put inside the gate by the delivery guy. So no matter what we order, it gets anointed before ever even opened! Thanks dude.

My other BFF came up to stay this weekend with her utterly charming and sweet ACD-mix Scout. Scout is as good a doggie house guest as one could hope to have (aside from shedding like nobody’s business, wowzers), and yet Diego still came unglued. We’d been doing pretty well RE marking in the house, and having her there ramped it right back up. It will probably be this way for a while. Its disgusting and infuriating and all I do is stalk around the house looking for wet spots. Plus my aunt’s dog Buster joins in the fun and then I dont know who to want to dangle over the balcony first… Ugh.

I dont know if we should look into any sort of medication—I hate that I am even thinking about it, as I am very anti-dealing with things via drugs. The article outlined solutions, many of which we already employ, but I dunno. At a certain point you wonder if making them just feel better and relaxed outweighs the evils of dosing him up on something. I guess I could try some light rounds of melatonin and see if that makes a dent in his behaviors at all. I’d definitely have to set it up though so Buster would not be able to come in and provoke him…

Plus then we have the issue of him being a spastic water drinker, whereupon he cant hold it and will pee on one of the rugs if he really has to go. And I can tell the difference between marking and going because he has to go. For that I am trying to actually teach him to ring a bell to go out, but he’s not the quickest learner. We’ve done 5-6 sessions of targeting the bell, and he’s still only at a 50% success rate between the bell and my hand. Maybe I need to get my hand out of the equation and see if that helps…

And on and on.


Sketches, Motivation and Goals

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

I stumbled across the Sketchbook Project last week while blog browsing. I think I clicked on it mainly because the graphic was so cool, which was weird in and of itself–I am a marketing/advertising person and it is a rare day I click on something that is obviously an ad. But, turns out, its a very cool concept. Pick your theme, send in $25, get a blank sketchbook that has a bar code with your name on it, fill it up by Jan 15th, send it back and have it included with all the others in a traveling art exhibition. Now I have not been an “artist” since I graduated college over a decade ago, but I thought it was a fun concept and hoped it would motivate me into some drawing. My theme is “day in the life,” which will make it pretty easy for me to pick subjects. I am good at sleeping dogs, flowers, still life type things. Boring probably, but hey, I am good at boring.

In other motivation news, I have officially started training Diego with competing in a Rally trial in mind. There’s actually a fun match down south next weekend, which is probably waaaay too early for us, but, we’ll see. I figure as long as I can have treats on me, we’ll muddle through it. He is SO happy to play along, and I think for him at this point, any one-on-one attention helps improve his self esteem. He is such a sensitive, dramatic little weirdo… I am still figuring him out after three years.

We have our “beach trial” this weekend, only 7 miles from our house!!! Woot! So that will be nice. Not that we’re necessarily ready, but whatever. I also am being a good girl (*ahem*) and am doing some volunteering. Two timing jobs and getting the coffee to the trial by 7am both days. I figure no one can hate the coffee person as long as they show up on time! Plus I figure that way I can pack the car, get and deliver coffee, set my crap up, then go home and get Forest or have Pete deliver him when its closer to our go time. He does not do well sitting at a trial all day so the proximity makes it a little easier. Laurie will also be there and said to be sure to let her know when we were going. Hooray for trainer support.

We are doing FAST on Saturday only. I dont think they have a whistle, right? I hope not. After our UKI whistle meltdown, I’ll pull him from the class before I make him live through the screaming terror that is the judge’s whistle again…

Also been working on 2x2s at home with Forest, its been going well. We’ll see if it helps this weekend or not, hard to say.

Wish us luck…

Slow Summer

The posting has definitely slowed down around here, mainly because I/we’ve been moderately busy in non-dog activities, but also because on the dog front things have just kind of been cruising. I decided to skip trialing in July and August—with the exception of one local beach-climate trial—to both give a break and just flat out avoid putting ourselves into any sort of heat-related melt down situations. Plus, the budget could use a bit of a break too. I guess I should say the funds are still being spent, just diverted to less um, enjoyable areas (ie. other people’s wedding gifts, wedding travel, car maintenance, etc.).

After next week we also wont have any group classes until September as Laurie hates the heat and the facility for Monday night has no AC. Oh well. That just means I’ll have to take a few privates and get on my own program of practicing before or after work. I have been doing some running box work at home in the patio which is going fine, but for some reason I have a hard time packing all the training crap in the car, driving somewhere to practice, and not being bothered by the weird stares I get. Insecurity Me.

We did have class on Monday night and again Forest did awesome. We did more of a skills class than full courses per usual, so all the dogs were inside the room with the equipment instead of outside. Forest was the only one in his crate as he was the only one with “issues” with other dogs. Other than one incident with a dog coming in and running right up to his crate, he actually did really well in the situation, and had really relaxed by the end. He also is impressing me with his ability to fail and reboot. We are doing so much better in that department, thank you Laurie. We practiced weaves which he did well with, even on some tougher entries, though he still likes me to be nearby. We definitely need some coaching in the driving-thru-weaves independently department. He also hit the A frame at a 100 miles an hour and screamed down the backside, which ended up scaring him a bit but I really tried to praise the hell out of him for it. He is getting fast and it is fun!

As I mentioned in my last post, he also has really changed his personality over the last month or two. He has really relaxed a lot in general, and is becoming more lovey and cuddly. This morning he would not get off my lap and just wanted to love on me. This is totally not normal. I’d say I am worried about him feeling “off” or something, but I feel like its been fairly gradual so I will just keep an eye on him. Having Pierre come in really reorganized the entire dog dynamic in our household—seemingly with Forest for teh better and Diego for the worse.

Diego sort of seems to be coming back to earth. For a while he was a nightmare—marking on everything, being just generally annoying, and he even went after Forest a second time (a la the Palm Springs incident) last week. Not rad. But, I’ve been trying to give him fair attention, and not set us up for that situation, and he seems to be coming back around. Fingers crossed he stays on the happier side of things.

On a completely unrelated note, I just took the dogs to the dog park for lunch. On the way out I saw a Yorkie in a little pink outfit–with a pinch collar on. Seriously? Seriously. This dog could not have weighed 8 pounds soaking wet and it has a pinch collar on? Gross…

Oh, and the weather has regressed to June Gloom… Again. Lame.

Summer, Finally

Its finally hot. Mid-July and all I guess. But its about time. The heat slows down the dogs, which in my book is a good thing.

Diego snoozing, happy to be cuddling on the couch on his very own custom bunnies quilt (thanks Pete’s mom!).

Last night I waited to take the dogs down to the cove until it was almost dark—I figured it’d be cooler by then and we could wear them out with some swimming. Neither of them particularly dig swimming, but I force them to do it anyways, especially Forest. I figure what better way to simultaneously cool him off and wear him out? Diego is so cute when he swims, he looks like a little water mammal, snuffing and snorting and using his tail as a rudder. Forest tears away as soon as he is out of the water (still on his long line of course), up to the dry sand so he can do faceplants and mash as much sand as possible into every orifice on his head. How on earth that is a worthwhile endeavor, I am not clear. But, to each his own. He then violently shakes off, and then does it again. Everyone got multiple towel-dries and a warm bath last night.

It was really pretty last night—in that weird only-in-the-Summer kinda midWesty high humid clouds way. Good sunset, good light.

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, I have no idea why. I laid in bed for a while, finally got up at 5:30. I think it was my obsession keeping me up, the thought of a puppy. No, no, no no no. Not soon. Not soon at all. But in the sorta foreseeable future. Like a year or two. I have been obsessing and thinking and researching. It still might be too early, and I truly don’t know housing-wise where we will end up in the next few years. We cant be squatters forever unfortunately, and we cant really go home to San Diego now as we are both working up here in OC. Bleh. Plus, our mortgage is a lot, and collectively we are not making a lot, and I just don’t know. I can’t sell our condo. Well I can, maybe even should, but the thought pains me dramatically. It is the perfect little old lady house and I will just die if I have to sell it. I want it to be my Last Stop place. Very handicapped and old person friendly. Small, flat, and previously inhabited by both old ladies and blind children. However, not-so-friendly for dogs of more than two in quantity or over thirty pounds in weight. At least according to “The Rulez”. Stupid HOA.

But the puppy. I have a breed in mind and have reached out to the most local breeder—aka the only one in Southern California—listed on the American Breed Club list. Problem is I have to go and obsess on a fairly rare… Whoa… wait, what? Backpedal a second… Yeah, I am thinking about purchasing a puppy. Icky. I said I’d Nah-He-Ever Do THAT. Don’t hate me. I said thinking. From a good, reputable, certified health-testing, small scale well-rounded performance and show dog breeder. And I will be thinking long and hard. And dreaming, and internetting, and waking up too early.

I heart this dog. Even when he steals Diego’s brand new toy. Note the Ikea carpet hairs all over him…

Problem is I actually do want a Forest 2.0. Another shocker I know–I am full of ’em today! And, unless I get into breeding designer dogs, that’s not really an option. And I knooow I’ll never get Forest 2.0, even if I clone his DNA. But, I want to get close. At least in size and type and athletic ability and energy level and sorta maybe a bit personality-wise.He seems to have blossomed in the last month or so into this amazing, lovely, most-special-thing of a dog. Which I have always known was there, and I have no doubts we will backslide, but he is just so, so awesome.

Another agility dog, that I can start from scratch. Just one. But that my friends, may change as my many flitting mindy thoughts often do. Lets check back in a year.

Happy Weekend.

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…

Taken Down a Notch + Ambiguous Westminster Snark?

I love how animals always know the most opportune time to knock you down off your ego pedestal. When I was a teenager I taught one of my horses (or rather he tolerated me doing it) to ride without a bridle. I though I was hot shit one day and was riding him out in one of the turnouts. He got wound up and took off, bucked me off. I landed hard on my tailbone. I swear that took a year to heal… definitely took me down a few pegs.

Just last week when I thought I was Controlling Forest Unleashed like a pro, he brought me back to reality.

Had him and Diego out at the soccer field for a quick lunchtime training session. (Error 1–thinking I can manage both dogs at once, outside of the house. I can barely do it at home.) I took them on a quick walk/sniff to burn off some steam pre-training as they had been at home alone for the morning. (Error 2–don’t let them start off paying attention and then let them recess into evermore distraction-land. Sun, grass, bugs, bushes after being cooped up all AM. It was all too much.) I had a decent amount of confidence as last time we went to the field, Forest was great. So I let him off the long lead to do some single jump drills. He was fine to start with, but quickly got bored/distracted as half of my attention was paid to Diego trying to get him to stay on his mat. (Error number 3–not reading the situation quickly.) Needless to say, Forest thought the other world was far more interesting than my half-attention and dumb drills, so he took himself on a walk. I chased him down and got him to stop by throwing a handful of treats at his head from ten feet away. Not my finest dog training moment, but it worked.

We then quickly packed it up and went to the office where I dropped Forest off at Doggie Day Care across the street. Diego sleeps quietly on his bed while we are at work, so he gets to hang out. Forest sits in my office, growling and barking at me working until I can’t stand it any more and give in to his annoyances. And last week, his little routine bought him 3 days in a row of DDC. He was not happy about it. I put him in the Dog Play area. He promptly ran to the corner and jumped out—over the 3+ foot partition. I picked him up, and put him back in figuring I would win this test of the wills. Turns out his will is much stronger than mine. After SIXTEEN jump-overs, I gave up. I had the DDC lady step in so I could leave.

I felt like a failure that day for sure. But as always lessons learned as well… Pay attention, dont assume, and that maybe I am not always the smarter or more resilient one in the partnership.

On a high note, we have been doing some weaves at home in 5 minute sessions and he has been getting really consistent with his entries, even when I angle them somewhat. That is a victory, so I will take it.

And this is what I thought was a nice little piece I found over at on Westminster. Subtly catty or not? I can’t decide.

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.