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.

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.

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…

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…

The Private

So we had our first private this morning. I was really proud of Forest, and it solidified my feelings that Laurie is the right trainer for us. She loves all dogs obviously as its her job, but she really likes Forest and in just an hour she had figured out and confirmed a lot of things I have wondered about, as well as pinpointed some things I never would have seen/known on my own. I also really liked that she referenced specific events or issues that happened in our first two classes, which means to me she is paying attention to each individual team. That means a lot to me.

She was glad that we have the mat work foundation and advised that we always have the mat with us at class for the foreseeable future, and that we use it to start and end training sessions at home as well. We started by encouraging him to root around in her toy bag (where he summarily found each and every stale piece of kibble that was rolling around in there underneath the mountain of toys) and got him fired up on eating the string cheese out of the wrapper and tugging on it. She even had me clicking him for using his teeth at first, to work up to getting him to tug first on the cheese, which eventually we’ll transition to tugging on toys.

She told me she thinks he is afraid of the jumps. I had never considered that before, but it makes sense. He overjumps everything by a mile, and it would make sense why he is so funny about jumps at home and the practice jump at trials. So she had me sitting next to the jump and getting him to go back and forth independently for a cheese reward. We started at 8 inches so there was little chance of him hitting or touching the bar. He got it quickly and was offering the behaviors on his own within five minutes. We then moved on to a 3 jump grid, where he was super-tentative at first, but quickly worked up to it. We’ll do that at home, first with the single jump maybe in the living room, then move that down to the patio, then work up to the grid.

We also did some weaves, with him on leash, pulling toward a reward on the floor at the end. We only did 4-5 sets, but by the last he was actually driving through on his own to get the cheese at the end.

She also wants me to work on getting him to relax at home, starting and ending with the mat. She recognized that he doesn’t really like to be touched unless its on his terms, so at least for now, the massage part of the mat work isn’t part of the equation. However, getting him to lay on his side when we are done working and to just chill for a bit is the goal.

So it was a lot of basic stuff, but I think it is exactly what we need. He was happy and stayed with us nearly the entire hour, and that was with dog day care chaos and noise on the other side of the wall as well as someone setting up all the agility equipment in the same room we were in. She said she was impressed with how well he did and how hard he worked. I may attribute a bit of that to the fact that we’ve pretty much taken the last week to ten days off, so he was probably ready to work.

I feel good about having a plan and having direction. And I am happy to slow down and have some specific goals, instead of just blundering my way through everything. We got our Novice Agility Title certificate in the mail yesterday, I think that is more than enough to hold us over for quite a while…

Our Token Pic from This Weekend

I had no intention of buying a photo from the show photographer. I figured we’d have video galore and maybe someone else would shoot an image or two. I actually went to the photographers table as she was tearing down to ask her if she had any copies of the group shot they had taken of the mixed breeds. She did not, but instead had the savvy to ask me my dog’s name and quickly whipped this out. How could I ~not~ have bought this photo. Oh my God.

Note the jump cups—he is in the 16″ class…!?!??!?