Lickety Split

Superspeed post this morning as I have to skip out the door to work early for many things to do (most of which are not work related)! It been somewhat chaotic around these parts, but finally all good, or at least hopeful, chaos instead of the icky kind that we slogged through earlier this year.

On the dog front, we cant wait to start class up again next week! It feels like its been forever, plus we have the clinic on Saturday, and a trial (which I need to enter today) the following weekend. Pete helped me lug the 2x2s and a tunnel over to the park on Sunday morning and we did some “on the road” work. Forest was great. Diego even got in on the action and Mr. Scaredypants was running the tunnel like a mad man by the end.

I also got to see Pierre aka “Dude” last night at a little dog beach get together. I was really excited to see him, but it was a lot harder than I expected. His new dad does take very, very good care of him. He told me about how he rushed him to the emergency clinic cause he got stung by a bee (I dont think he had an allergic reaction I think he was just worried!), which was probably more than I would have done! But, he’s definitely borderline fat already—apparently the clinic people said he was at a fine weight, but um, no—and he was being pretty naughty, blowing his Dad off when calling him back from barking at old people (that has not changed apparently).

Pierre, Forest and I got separated from the pack, and I was calling them back. I was calling “Dude! Duuude!” and he was blowing me off. I tried “Pierre!” in my shiny happy voice I used to use for him, and he stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me, and came back immediately. It simultaneously made me warm and fuzzy and broke my heart.

While again, I am very thankful for who Pierre ended up with and he will give him a wonderful home, its frustrating that the majority of people dont seem to understand the power of the treat. I had four dogs following me around for little bits of Trader Joes chicken sticks, and I think the human-types all just thought I was the crazy dog lady. I was trying to talk to the roommate of Pierre’s dad about how he could put more weight on his recently-rescued reservation pup (eggs! cottage cheese! canned salmon!) and all he would say is “Oh, she’s picky. And she gets plenty of table scraps.” Ergh.

I am a control freak. I admit it. So I will repeat the mantra that I am thrilled to have helped one dog in his journey to a life long home. Thrilled.

Part of me wonders if maybe fostering isnt for me. But, then again, I think the purpose outweighs the drawbacks… And I have some big ideas for down the road. Until then…



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…

Learning Curves

So I think I’ve mentioned here how smart Pierre, our foster dog is. This little sucker is sharp as a tack. Forest is bright but stubborn, and Diego, well, he’s just Diego. Pierre maybe isn’t necessarily smarter than Forest, but he is far more intense and less likely to get frustrated or flustered. He would work for an hour straight if I had the stamina and creativity to keep him going.

Its been such an interesting process for me personally training three dogs with such unique personalities.

When we got Diego, I was somewhat nervous. He was a rescue dog with issues and I was afraid I’d “break” him even more than he already was. I spent too much money on a package of lessons from a local trainer that my vet recommended. This guy and his helpers weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. They were of the “traditional” school. Not really rough or overly aversive, but just traditional. Looking back I give myself a smack to my forehead—Diego is so easily trainable with food its a joke. But that never came up once with these trainers. With them it was more about forcing him into a sit, forcing him into a down, forcing him into being around a pack of dogs in a group lesson that made his skin crawl. I didn’t know any better—especially because I grew up in a household filled with dogs and horses and was brought up with very traditional/old school training methods—but I could tell Diego was uncomfortable. I never actually used all of my privates and stopped going to the group classes. Poor little man was, and still is, so pliable and wanting to please that he let us manipulate him into positions and situations he wasn’t comfortable with. We just didn’t know.

Then there was Forest. I tried getting him to down using the foot-on-the-leash method and was horrified as he started thrashing around like a fish on the end of the line. I knew that this was a horrible idea, imagining a dog with a snapped neck… Done. Full stop. I knew it wasn’t right. So, I started digging and looking and reading online and stumbled into the world of R+ and clickers. It took about one session for me to figure out that this is what I should have been doing all along. Forest was thrilled, as was Diego (Yaaay food!!!). With Forest, I could lure him into just about anything. Sit, down, bow, dance around, jump in my arms, get on the skateboard… it was so easy really. I had the best and fastest 2-on-2-off in my beginner agility classes because I taught my dog how to target. This was a piece of cake right? The seminars I took and read books I read talked about the different ways of getting a behavior—shaping, luring, and capturing. Forest was so good at the first two I didn’t worry about the last. That was waaay to slow and boring.

Then, there was Pierre. Ai. Just having food in the room sent him into a frenzy. I tried teaching him to sit, but he was so all over the place–clawing me, jumping on me, hunting for food in nooks and crannies that we first had to work on taking it down a notch. Plus, he is totally impervious to physical manipulation. Hold the treat over his head for a sit? Hah! “I’ll wrap my arms around your hand and gnaw!” Lure him into a down? “I’ll crouch down and shuffle backwards and dance around ’til we’re all blue in the face!” So, capturing it was, and still is. Patience is a virtue grasshoppers. And that little brat is so sharp, if I can wait him out to offer the behavior just once, then another few minutes for twice, man we are off and running to the races. He is so much fun and so brave and unflappable.

He now is building up to an excellent default sit, and we nailed down this weekend. We even got down on the mat this AM. He is quick quick quick and its all up to me to just give him my time training.

We spent about 4 hours at an adoption event yesterday, which I have to admit I loathe. They are long and trying and frustrating to me. However, I did meet many people who expressed interest in him, with two potentials I would love, love, love to take him home. One a youngish cool kid guy who has had dogs, had a large fenced yard and would take him to work every day. Yay. The other a family with a teen kid, a lab, and lots of dog experience. Both potentials had had Min Pins previously. HUGE Yay. I will not wish/allow this dog to go to anyone without dog experience, and much much prefer MinPin, terrier or other “intense” breed experience So, I am praying that one of the two of them submits an app online.

In the meantime I will continue to enjoy learning from him for as long as I can…

Managing via Management

Things are settling in a bit with Pierre and the crew. I am learning to better manage everyone, and he is learning the ropes pretty quickly considering how little I suspect he’s experienced this type of environment before. He is learning to sit before he gets pretty much anything–his dinner, treats, to go out the door or gate, the back of the car, etc. It seems to be working.

And he is truly hilarious—his little wheels turn incredibly fast and I can just see him processing info with all his might, the neurons in there firing, bouncing and exploding. Its like he has a little thought bubble over his head that I can read. Yesterday it was feeding time and I was trying to get the dogs to their respective beds/mats so that I could put the bowls down and then release everyone. While I was dealing with Diego and Forest, I look over my shoulder towards the kitchen where Pierre is staring mesmerized at his bowl, throwing determined sits at it as if he could magically release it on his own. He makes me laugh out loud quite often.

This morning we got up at the crack of dawn to get up and go to the dog park before it got crowded. Mission accomplished–when you get to the dog park at 6:40am, there arent too many others there. The Laguna Beach Dog Park is dog heaven, at least when its empty. They ran and climbed the hill and tuckered themselves out without too much interaction with other dogs. They tend to get a pack mentality going and gang up on other dogs, so for the most part I have been avoiding the dog park entirely in hoping to not get that bad habit ingrained. We’ll stay on the uber-early or almost dark program when we need to burn off some steam. I am learning that its all about making the right decisions to set these guys up for success.

However, Pierre of course cannot exist without making me tear my hair out in some manner… On Tuesday AM I took the dogs to the beach, against my better judgement. They needed to run, but I was concerned about the trash factor as it was the day after Memorial weekend and I knew it would be bad. Well I was right. My sister was with me, and we spent the entire time trying to keep all three dogs from eating trash. Fun times. Pierre managed to sneak into one of the caves that is blocked off by a metal grate so that people cannot get up into the caves. When the tide comes in, trash washes up into the back of the cave and lays there festering until it is washed out again. Festering contained trash equals delectable delights to all three of my dogs. Pierre was merrily chowing around in there and there was nothing I could do to get him out. Fortunately he does actually listen—somewhat—and I got him out of there after about 90 seconds.

I went home and tried to induce vomiting with a small does of hydogen peroxide, to no avail. I was kind of freaking because A) he is not mine, and B) I was extra gun shy after my coworkers incident with her golden. So… off to the vet for Xrays. No fish hooks or bottle tops and an Rx of white bread and olive oil for the next 24 hours. At 4am the next morning he did barf up some huge pieces of what looked like laminated cardboard and some fabric. Charming. But, we seem to be in the clear.

Yesterday at work he overturned two drinks ON my desk, soaking everything in their path, except for thankfully my laptop. Sigh. He has some interested parties via friends, so I hope we can find him his place soon… We are all exhausted I think.

My first private with new trainer tomorrow AM. Looking forward to it…

Failuretown, Meet Overwhelmed City

Having rescue dogs is one of the most—if not the most—trying things I have ever done. Not that I really know what its like in my adult life to have a non-rescue dog, but having dogs pre-conditioned with certain issues and trying to overcome those on my own really has tested my willpower, patience, temper and resolve, among many other things. At this point, I honestly don’t know how I would handle having kids—these “cute” 15lb animals send me into a frenzy whereupon I have to use every sheer ounce of willpower in my being to control myself…

We had a really horrible incident this morning. Pierre got back yesterday with my aunt, and was added back into our pack. As I wasnt able to do any training with him over the last few days, and we had to re-integrate him back into our herd, it was rather chaotic. He is really pushy with my dogs, and will take their toys away, push their buttons, etc. He is not bad, I just think having access to resources sends him into overdrive, so we will need to manage that carefully. We finally got them settled down later in the evening.

I got up this AM super-early to take everyone to the huge dog park to hopefully burn off some steam before I went to work. This is the best dog park as it is massive, but the downside to it is that it is on a really, really busy road that people drive really fast on. I was fully aware of this when I pulled up, and parked in what I thought was the best place in case of disaster. My dogs are trained to stay in the trunk of the wagon until their leash is on and I say “lets go”. This morning, I was extra cognizant of grabbing Pierre as soon as the door opened as I knew he would be the biggest liability. My dogs are laying down like they are supposed to as I open the door. Pierre comes shooting out at me like a rocket into my arms. I caught him, but his blast released Forest as well.

I dont know exactly what happened really after that except for shortly, the Min Pin duo was barreling down the side of the road while cars are racing by at 40+MPH. Diego—bless his heart—managed to stay in the car so I slammed the trunk back shut and ran, (I hate to admit) screaming down the road after the dogs. Pierre actually has decent recall, but my hysteria and Forest’s mission to run the opposite direction of whatever way I was going didnt do anyone any favors. At one point Pierre actually got into the street and was running parallel to the traffic and I about had a heart attack. I did not keep my composure in any way, shape, or form. I corralled them back into a side street away from the main road. At this point Forest knows he is in deep shit, and there is no way I am going to catch him. Somehow I managed to grab Pierre. After chasing Forest, screaming/yelling/crying like a lunatic for another few minutes, he somehow managed to corner himself at the entrance to the dog park. He is SO lucky that that’s where he stopped—if we had not been in full view of dog people, I may have done something really, really inappropriate. Not so R+ if you know what I mean.

I grabbed him and put him back in the car by himself, took Diego and Pierre into the park, and tried to calm down.

This was one of the more traumatic incidents I have had yet with the dogs. It was horrible and I am still shaking hours later as I write this. I feel way in over my head, and again, Forest specifically is pushing me to the point of no return. This is the second time he has RUN away from me since we have had Pierre. Is there more training I can do with him? Absolutely. (We worked on exiting the car when released on the long line this morning when we got home.) But after almost a year and a half of constant work with this dog, I still cannot trust him. I am so, so, so frustrated. Pete and I had a heart to heart about it the other night—the fact that I/we have worked so hard and that it seems to barely be making an impact—and he is frustrated too.

I read dog training blogs, buy books, go to classes, and spend hours of every waking day obsessing over this stuff, and I still cannot manage my own dog. Every time I feel like we are making progress, I get knocked back down, and hard.

We know in the end that he will come around, and it will be so incredibly rewarding when it does. If he doesn’t become a road pizza first.

First There Were Two…

…and now there are three. We picked up a foster over the weekend. Totally not planned, just happened. I should have seen it coming–my work hosted a charity dog adoptathon… it was inevitable. The best/worst part is that new dog is so good, its making me wonder if the rescue would take in a used dog and let me keep the upgrade. This dog makes me wonder why I have spent probably now in the thousands of dollars in training on our darling Forest. This dog–Pierre as he is known–came straight from being cooped up in a rescue environment for who knows how long, already basically 90% trained. Not so much in the sit-stay department, but rather in that coveted “I come when called!” department. Shocking. I fell in love with him because of his Forest-esque tendencies, and have come to find out while he has that stubborn bossy MinPin thing going, its in a totally sweet “I just want a mom” way. He is a cutie. And will be finding a home shortly.

I worked at the event all day Saturday, and brought home Pierre that night, having no idea that my cousins, aunt and friends would be descending on our house that night for a get-together. It was fine and enjoyable–and Pierre passed with flying colors (poor guy, not what I had in mind for his first night here)–but anything that I dont have written out in my calendar 14 days ahead of time stresses me out in some capacity. We survived that, then on Sunday AM, Forest and I headed up to a Fun Match in prep for next weekend’s trial.

While he wasnt -that- bad, something about his general disinterest makes me wonder if he has any love/like/mild tolerance for agility at all. He goes through the motions, but seems like he has zero drive. He literally stopped in the middle of the dog walk to chew on his toe. I’ve seen him get fast and drivey, at night at our first trainer’s, but thats been a rare occurrence. So we slog through our 3 practice runs, then go over to Lure Coursing. Where he promptly loses his mind in shrieking excitement. I wish he had a quarter of the excitement for agility that he does for Luring. We’d be set.

I know its early on in our “career”, and that things could progress as we learn, but my biggest fear is that I end up one of those pathetic ladies (in an embarrassingly sloganed tee) dragging her dog around on the course, oblivious to the fact that the dog is obviously totally bummed about the whole thing. Maybe its that Forest isnt one of those “people pleaser” dogs, and he never will be. Having this third dog really highlights the personality differences. Forest will cuddle with you, but it seems more like a “I’m cold” or “I want to lay on something soft” than a want to be cuddling with his person. I am just an end to his means. Which is fine–it doesnt hurt my feelings–but can you have a really good agility dog that doesnt want to throw himself across the tracks for his handler? Yet another question I dont know…

I am debating about signing us up for a match later this month. It closes tomorrow so I gotta make a decision. I dont know whether to push/drag him through it, or back off and give him a break… Ugh.