Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man

Okay so every other Wednesday we have a group of folks who get together and practice tricks. Sometimes in an organized fashion, sometimes not so much. Well we also are trying to come up with some big group tricks that we can pull out at trick expos and competitions. Doggy Band is one. Since Gauis is the -cough- smallest (don't tell him) member of our troop, I wanted to think of something similarly adorable fro him to do in our doggie band. I came up with a tambourine. Here's a video of what we've got so far. (WARNING: My voice is very high pitched in this video, I recommend turning the sound down or off)

Sorry the video is a little dark and turned sideways. I was taking it with Sean's i-pod. His command to shake an object is 'kill it'. I started with socks hat he loves to shake anyhow then stuffed animals then to more stiff harder objects and eventually to the tambourine which he wasn't even a fan of holding at fist. I put duck tape over one of the opening because his teeth had a tendency to get caught there (You can see that in the video once in another location). I think he has much improved and it's almost ready to take on the road. 

Below is our bands pianist Garth (Who also has a blog, click the link). We have a singer, drummer, and horn honker too but I can't find good pictures of them applying their art. This was taken at Marti-Paws where Garth played for tips and helped raise $275 for Fetch-a-Cure :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Say Your Prayers

This is a trick we've been working on for a while but this video represents only the second session I've gotten him to do it on anything other than my arm. The goal of course being a small bed or table. Sorry he looks wet in the picture, he just got a bath.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gauis' Back: A Saga

So this all started about the fourth week of September. Just a normal day. I was working the 6pm-3am shift which meant I was home during the day. I was getting some work done on the computer, or messing around the internet, not sure which. And I suddenly realized Gauis wasn't at my feet which is where he usually is during this time. I called him, nothing.

I found him curled up next to the cat in the guest room and he didn't get up to greet me or wag his tail. I picked him up and put him on the floor, his posture was hunched and he seemed uncomfortable. I tossed a tennis ball that was on the floor next to me and he made no effort to chase it. That's when I knew something was wrong. When he walked it seemed stiff and stilted, his tail was tucked. I felt down his back but couldn't get any reaction, no twinge or sign of pain. I was worried still so I immediatly put him on crate rest for the rest of the day. I figured if he had just pulled a muscle he'd be over it tommrrow, if he hadn't he'd come with me to work the next night (I work at an emergency vet).

When he's posture was still concerning to me by the next morning I just decided to take him in early. Of course by the time we were at the visits office he was agitated and screamy, and seemed less uncomfortable. Stress having overwhelmed any pain. Our vet was one of the interns (Right out of vet school, very nice). She felt up and down his spine and just like me couldn't get any sign of pain. I still though is gait was off, but she couldn't see any deficiencies (I know how my dog walks and what he was doing wasn't normal). She decided to take X-Rays anyhow, him being a dachshund and all. 

So there was a wait before I was called to the front to see them. When I got there the first thing that jumped at me was how much stool was in his colon (sorry about the poop talk). But the doctor did see some things in his back that she found troubling. The first is a calcified disk that's very clear if you know what your looking for. These are genetic and VERY common in almost all dachshunds of his age. She also said she saw disk shorting in two separate locations. This is much harder too see, can be caused simply by his positioning but can also be potentially more serious. It can meann that his disks are stressed and could rupture.

So she told me one week of crate rest and no agility ever again. I was pretty bummed and over the next week so was Gauis, crate rest and he do not get along. Especially when Sammy got to dart all around the apartment unhampered and Gauis got to watch sadly from behind bars. We started calling him our 'goldfish' during this time, due to being a pet we essentially just fed and watched from afar.

After his second day of crate rest his walking went back to normal (This happened to come immediately after he finally pooped by the way). Remember at no time during this entire period could I get him to show any signs of pain in his back. Which for a dog with a 'back issue' is just plain bizarre. 

I made an appointment to take him to go see his chiropractor Dr. Regina Schwabe   who is amazing. She does orthopedic rehabilitation and see a lot of dachshunds as well as agility dogs. If you live in Virgina she's totally worth the drive once or twice a year. I sent her the X-rays (though that was drama in and of itself with computers and formatting). 

In the mean time there are benefits to working where you take your animal, one is the ability to read there chart. You see we have a board certified radiologist that reviews all of the radiographs taken at the hospital. And there in Gauis file I could read his report too. Now he said, that though he saw the calcification, he saw no areas of disk shorting. So now I was confused. Constipation can present much in the same way back pain does, with hunched uncomfortable posture. Two vets with too different stories.Did I really have to retire Gauis from agility after all?

I was going to let Regina decide.  Well after doing her exam, she said his back felt great, better than the last time she saw him. No signs of pain. In terms of the radiographs she saw the calcification but said almost all dachshunds his age have that to a certain extent. She could maybe see some disk shortening in one area but it was very hard to tell. All in all his back lots pretty good for a dachshund of his age. Both the issues on his x-rays she said were probably entirely genetic and not caused by his agility. If anything agility helps strengthen his back and his core muscles and keeps him fit. It helps protect his back not hurt it.  And she saw no reason why he couldn't return to agility if he was showing no signs of pain.

I then asked if she though me taking him down to preferred at 4 inches was better than 8. She told me she alwasy thought jumping him at 8 was rather silly. So we'll be returning to AKC agility in preferred at 4 inches. Next trial is in January. He's loving running at 4 in class. 

So the moral of the story is always get a second opinion.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two Fosters Here And Gone

Life was crazy and I've had two fosters here and adopted that somehow never made it to the blog so I thought I'd take a moment just to talk about them and keep there memory here in this little dog scrap book that my Untrainable blog has become. 

 This is Charlotte (AKA: Char Char, Charcolate, Chary, and Chary-bary). Charlotte was the second best foster we've ever had. Wilbur being on top.  She came to us as a stray taken from a shelter in Charlottesville Virginia. No idea how long she'd been out on the street. After her dental she walked away with only one tooth left to her name. She was probably around ten.

 Luckily she was adopted very quickly (or she might have been staying with us). She had the loveliest disposition and was so well behaved, potty trained and a total cuddle bug. She lived in our laps. Her only negative was her propensity to dart out doors. A trait that might have been why she was in the shelter in the first place. But who could not look for a girl like her. She was a tiny tiny girl at only 6 pounds. A trait which I think is one reason she was adopted so quickly. She barley barked which was lovely.

She was the only dog that actually slept with Sean under covers at night (he is a squirmier). Even Gauis can't manage this feat. She survived the great power loss episode and hurricane of August. During which she ate and entire package of ginger snaps and puked all over the bed. This was when we had no hot water or washer or drawer. Not her best moment. She used to jump on the couch and look out the window as we left. Which was freaking adorable (see photograph below)

She stayed with us only a month before she went to her new home in Soulth Carolina. She was adopted only one day after her photo made the website. If she had stayed longer I would have worked with her on getting CGC certified. Her mom and dad are lovely and have already sent us photos of her in her new home. Her new mom is a retired veterinary technician and a real animal lover. She has many brothers and sisters including another dachshund and a Boston terrier and three other dogs. They are retired and she will get a lot of attention there. She was a dear to have I wish she could have stayed longer.  Her name is now Willow.

 This is Sammy (AKA The Samster, Sammy-bammy) was our last foster. We had him for about a month and a half. He was surrendered because his owner was in the hospital and no longer in a position to take care of him. He was nine years old but man he didn't act like it. Probably one of the most active dachshunds we've had here in foster care. You can see him digging holes in my yard to your left. He had a grade four heart murmur which you could feel through his chest. But it didn't seem to bother him much and the vet told us it was probably congenital and not a big problem since he had no symptoms. He was a good dog but could be difficult.

He was a bit hand shy and would submissively urinate if new people tried to touch him too quickly. He stopped doing this with us after about a week but I had to protect him from unwanted touching by strangers. Other than that he was really great with people and even was comfortable around children as long as they went slow and fed him first. He loved sitting in laps and taking naps with you.

He had a little bit of barrier aggression and would sometimes attack dogs on the leash if they greeted him straight on or with too much excitement. But other than that was generally indifferent to other dogs. He wasn't very socialized with other dogs. He would ignore Gauis completely. Whenever Gauis would try and initiate play with Sammy there would be a fight. This only had to happen a few times for Gauis to decide he wasn't a good playmate.

He had a marking problem and some potty training issues he was really starting to overcome while here. He was fabulous in his crate. He was an expert at finding his way out of my yard and did give me several heart attacks. But he never ran off. I got him a harness the first day because he was such a puller, and he could destroy a dog toy in 0.032 seconds. We bought his an expensive non-destructable squeaker which he finished off in about a minute flat. We were forever saving Gauis' favorite toys from him.

All of that was fine except his absolute obsession with my cat. He didn't want to eat her, he was just fascinated by her and I'll tell you her life is much happier now that he's gone. I'm glade he went to a feline free household. But as big a pain as Sammie could be he was a wonderful dog and we'll miss him.

He went to an adoption event and was an instant favorite, you can see him below with his new mom. There will be another dog in his house but she is apparently as uninterested in other dogs as he is. It's a perfect match and I'm glade he's found his forever home.
 It is strange being foster free at the moment. we're not used to having a one dog household. I'll try to introduce our new arrive as soon as they get here instead of after they are already gone next time. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Trick Title: Shell Game

Our new trick for our Championship Trick title. I hope you enjoy. I had some hang ups teaching this one. Like Gauis' initial insistence on no sniffing and just guessing frantically at random. Some hound dog he is. But we figured it out.

Gauis had his first try at Senior earthdog today. He worked for the appropriate length of time, and recalled to Sean though it took 60 seconds. But he didn't get to the rat in time as he had to make a detour to bark at the judges.  He gets another go at it tomorrow with Sean, I however will be at work.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Being the 'Off Breed'

For most of the sports Gauis and I do we are considered an 'Off Breed". Meaning, we aren't the typical breed of dog you see competing in that particular activity. The only thing this isn't true for is earth dog. I've been thinking about that a lot and I think like being off breed most of the time for a couple of reasons.

The first one is the public

I have come out of the agility ring after horrible runs, where almost nothing seemed to go well. My handling sucked, Gauis obstacle performance sucked you name it. Bad runs you just want to crawl under a rock afterwards. Without fail you know what happens the moment I'm out of the ring? Applause, then someone runs up to tell me how wonderful it was. Not my friends or people who know me, strangers. They tell me what a good run it was, and how Gauis obviously loved agility, and that he's a joy to watch. I'm thinking, 'did they see the same run I did? We were a mess' but then I remember that he's a dachshund. To them it's a miracle he's here at all. It's like winning first place just for showing up.

People have such a fabulous heart felt joyful reaction to seeing Gauis' training. He's always the favorite at our trick demos. But we're almost always the only little dog. I practically get mobbed afterwards. And gosh if they actually own a dachshund it's on a whole other level. I'm like a miracle worker. They want to tell me everything about their dog and what he/she can do, or more generally what he or she can't do. It's really fun to make people happy. I don't think watching a border collie run, or a golden do a perfect heeling routine gives people has much joy. Sure they are works of art to watch and there's a lot of joy in it, but people love watching Gauis. Sometimes I do feel like were the five minute rodeo clown routine in the middle of all the bull riding. We'll back to your regularly scheduled border collie runs in just a moment, first lets watch this cute little dachshund knock bars and take the wrong obstacles and double the course time. But people love it and we have fun.

The second reason I like having an off breed is no guilt,

I have friends with beautiful wonderful dogs from good agility lines and I'm always hearing them say things like... If only my dog had a better handler he'd be a champion. Or If only I was a better trainer we could make nationals, this dog deserves better. Sometimes I even hear people on the side lines make comments about other peoples dog along the same lines. I never have to worry about that. When ever I start a thought with if only Gauis had a different owner all I can practically finish it with is, He'd be 10 pounds over weight, probably wouldn't even know what sit means, and probably would be biting people by now. (Ahem, no offense to my fellow dachshund owners but I work at a vet clinic. I'm privy to a fair sampling of the dachshund community)  I'm confident there is no better owner out there for Gauis than me and that this home only makes him better and shows him to his full potential.

I think its important to not use low expectations as an excuse. Sure whatever Gauis does is gravy, but that doesn't me we can't always strive to be better or have big plans. In summary having an off breed dog has a lot of benefits I think I would miss if I went to a more traditional breed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Novice Tricks Class

So recently I was asked to teach a Novice Trick class. I'm really excited, though due to scheduling it might not happen. I made a syllabus anyhow and sent it to my boss. I thought I'd post it here. Basically the idea is to teach or explain how to teach what I call foundation tricks. These are basic behaviors that when mastered can help one achieve more complex tricks. Here's what I have planned:

Plans for a five week trick course consisting of one hour session a week. General break down of each class would involve me first introducing two Foundation Tricks. This is a simple trick which can become more complicated tricks in the future when mastered (list of foundation tricks is outlined below). Introduction and practice of the foundation trick would take up approximately the first 30-45 minutes of class. The last 30-15 minutes would be more free form. 

On the first day of class students would give me a list of one or two tricks they are really interested in teaching their dog and we would help them through getting those tricks down pat during the second half of class. The last day of class after introducing the foundation trick we’ll have a little recital where the class can show off what they’ve learned. The focus of the class is not them mastering all of these tricks in the time allotted, but giving students the tools to teach all or some of them on their own. 

The first day of class will be a little different as it will involve explaining the difference between shaping and luring and why they are both essential tools in teaching tricks. It will also involve explaining the proper use of a clicker and how it’s used in shaping. Teaching how one adds a verbal to tricks as well as how to change the name for a particular trick. As well as emphasizing short training sessions and the importance of doing your homework. Then I will introduce the simplest Foundation Tricks afterwards they’ll let me know which one or two tricks they want to master by the end of the course.

1)      SPIN
How it’s taught: Lure the dog in a circle. Quickly eliminate food lure from hand. Slowly reduce hand movement. Add a verbal. (Can also be free shaped if you have a lot of time on your hands :) )

What this trick becomes: Nothing really, other than a way to teach directionals in agility I guess. But it’s a really easy trick to start off with and most dogs learn it quickly. Also a good way to explain how to use luring effectively.

How it’s taught: Put hand behind back for a few seconds and then introduce it to dog as a novel object. When dog goes to sniff the hand mark with a ‘yes’ or a click. Remember to fed on the extended hand. Introduce a target the same way.

What this trick becomes: A great beginner trick to introduce people to the concept of shaping. It becomes, ring a bell; close a drawer or cabinet (for larger dogs); pick a certain object (Like in the shell game); and it’s the beginning of shaping a dog to hold something in its mouth.

How it’s taught: Hold food in a closed fist. Encourage the dog to get the food. When in frustration he/she paws at the hand in order to get the food mark and reward (this may be a struggle for dogs with stellar it’s your choice). To add target have a dog that is already comfortable with shake. Add a target to your hand and ask for shake; mark and reward for pawing at target. Slowly remove target from your hand. Alternatively; us a sealed Tupperware container filled with food. When dog paws at the container to get the food, mark and reward out of hand.

What this trick becomes: Shake, High Five, Wave, Chorus line Kicks, Pressing a button, Turning on a light (Bigger dogs), Being Embarrassed, Holding a toy in one paw (bigger dogs), Drumming, Playing the piano, Cross Your Paws, perch work, all four feet in a dish

How it’s taught: Put hula hoop on the ground and lure dog trough hoop. Slowly raise hoop. Add a verbal command and eliminate lure.

What this trick becomes: Jump through my legs (little dogs), jump over a baton, Jump through my arms (Which can become jump into my arms), Jump over my outstretched arms (big dogs), Jump over another dog, Jump up in the air on command, Jump through a rolling hoop, Pick a hoop up on the ground and go through it.

5)      ROLL OVER
How it’s taught: Ask the dog to down. Slowly use the food as a lure to turn its head over its shoulder. Reward the head turn several times. Then lure further and reward any shifting of weight. Increase criteria on the shifting of weight until you can get the dog to lie on its side. Usually at this point it goes more quickly into fully rolling over. Some dogs get this very quickly others need to go slow.

What the trick becomes: Play dead, roll yourself in a blanket, break dance

6)      GO TO PLACE
How it’s taught: Place a towel on the floor and wait for the dog to show interest in the towel. When they look at sniff, or step towards the towel mark and reward. After doing this several times wait for the dog to place one foot on the towel. Then increase criteria until all four paws are on the towel. Then increase distance from the towel till the dog can be sent there. And a position (such as a down) is desired and then a cue.  

What the trick becomes: Go to a particular place marked on the ground is something desired by most dogs used in film and television. It is also a great way to gain distance on behaviors. Used to teach a send out in obedience, jump on a stool or pedestal, get into a suitcase.
7)      SIT PRETTY
How it’s taught: Ask dog to sit and then lure into position. Use lure to maintain dogs sitting position. Add duration, remove lure.

What the trick becomes: Stand Tall, Dog Calisthenics, Jump up and Close a Door, Pray (The jump up with both paws part), Hop on Hind Legs, Hug toy to Chest

8)      BACK UP
How it’s taught: Sit on the floor (Or in a chair if you have a larger dog) with your legs stretched into a V. Click and feed the dog very close in toward our belly button. Then wait. Most dogs will take a step backwards. Click and reward the step back. Make sure to reward close into the body once again. Repeat several times until the dog understands what’s being rewarded. Then increase criteria to more steps back. When dog reaches about four or five steps backwards. Stop rewarding closes into the body and begin tossing the treats behind the dog (If large enough try to bowl the treats between the dogs legs. After dog has reached desired distance, add a word. Slowly move to standing position and proof.Also can be taught by using two crates to create a shoot if dog is struggling.

What the trick becomes: Lift your hind foot, Hand Stand, Reverse heeling, Backward figure 8s between legs, Spin backward in a circle, Spin backward in a circle around handler.

How it’s taught: If dog has a natural retrieve add cue and food reward, work on diversifying objects used. Then shorten the distance object needs to be thrown to get desired interest. Move to simply dropping object on the floor, placing object on the floor with hand then handing the dog object. If dog does not have a natural retrieve shape mouthing at a dowel. Entice dog to nose touch object.  Reward this several times then withhold reinforcement. When dog mouths object in frustration or opens mouth at all click and reward. If dog is struggling with dowel, present more enticing object such as a bully stick. Click and reward mouthing with higher value treats.

What this trick becomes: Carry my purse, put away toys, basketball, hold a sign, put one food bowl into another, open the fridge to get a beer, walk another dog, paint, pass a note, put money in a  bank, hold a flag

How it’s taught: Put dog into a down and lure the head down and outstretched so the chin touches the ground. Click and treat (I free shaped this so I will also discuss how to do that).

What this trick becomes: Shake your head yes, the foundations of how to teach shake your head no, the head down portion of say your prayers, and at the end of rolling yourself in a blanket. 

What do you guys think? Sound like a class you'd want to take? :) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Trial Report:: Back to the Field House

First let me say that I love the Fredircksburg field house as a trial location. Indoors, nice turf, places to buy food (and beer), free wi-fi, and air conditioning as well as real bathrooms. What more could you ask for. So before I go into these runs I have to start by specifying that this was a weird trial for me because I had to work the overnight shifts (11pm-8am) for both Thursday and Friday. Which means I had already been up about 18-20 hours during each of these runs. I was a little loopy by the time we ran. Hopefully this explains some of my handling errors

So Friday we had one run Ex. A JWW. Gauis had a great peppy attitude during this run. Which is really the only important thing in the end. He missed the second jump but that was so completely my fault I pushed him right past it. We'll call that a lack of sleep thing. Pretty run after that. He tunnel sucked near the end though. Completely ignored my front cross. But hey, he's a dachshund... who can blame him for liking tunnels. They'd be like them putting sheep on the course for all the border collies. Smooth toward the end until my thertle which obviously confused him causing him to blind me but still get the obstacle. In all honesty I should have just done a front there. I think its hard, because all the people that teach me agility run fast big dogs. I mean, I know the handling system is the same, but sometimes these tricks that get you places faster, just aren't the best options for a little slower dog. I think the more we run the better I'll get on making handling decisions that fit us as a team.

Sat we started with Open. Speedy start but a slow dog walk. I think that's because he's confused about whats expected of him. In class I make him touch but at trials I don't. He was a little distracted by the girl scouts who were working the ring but managed to work past it. Run went really smoothly till the end. I treadled him right out the ring (hmmm guess we need to work treadles to tunnels). I managed to call him back (thank heavens that you are allowed one mistake in open) and got him to finish the run. Then the little bugger tried to dart out for his cookie. Would have served him right if that girl scout had touched him (as he hates being touched by strangers). But he came back and we got our second Open Std Q! He just needs to learn getting his leash on is just as important as the last obstacle.

Sat Ex. A JWW was nerve wracking because they had the walk through while I was running open. There for I had to run it without walking. At that point I was near delisional from sleepiness so I didn't care. Also I don't have high expectations for excellent anyhow. Well we ran it beautifully if slow and ran clean! We were 3 seconds over time but you have 5 seconds of leeway with Ex. A so we Qed! First excellent Q ever I was thrilled.

Sunday we started with JWW Ex. A. No film as alas Sean had to go to work and couldn't be our designated camera man. But the Exc. run was gorgeous. another clean run. And guess what?!?! We weren't over time (granted by the skin of our teeth), but we would have Qed in Ex. B! Which is so reassuring. I really didn't think we had much of a shoot of getting anything above AX and AXJ. Granted we wouldn't have gotten any MACH points but who cares. Now the issue was I was pretty out of breath by the end of the run so that doesn't bode so well. Maybe I need more cardio.

Open was another lovely run. We really ended the weekend well. Unfortunately he dropped the triple (our only fault) but we came in ten seconds under time. Even with him stopping to stare at the dropped bar. Poor guy, he hates dropping bars so much. His ears go back and he always stops to look and then I have to be really positive to build up steam again. It's almost as though he knows that disqualifies us, though the movement and sound probably just scare him. But hey, he's a dachshund. Drop bars are just a fact of life. He's doing something he simply isn't built for, it's not his fault. No hurt feelings on this end. As far as I'm concerned it was as good as a Q in my book. A great run.

Well that's the update. Now for some foster news! Oliver has been adopted! By a lovely older couple in Western Virgina. He has a senior sister so he'll never be alone. The home was perfect for him. And we have a new girl around these parts named Charlotte! More about her in my next post.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Doctors Orders

Couldn't even convince him to get on the steps for the picture

We have a new interior design piece at out house. Last week I bought three sets of little steps to help Gauis on and off furniture with out the gigantic leaps (and sometimes wipe outs) he generally has to do.

This was one thing Dr. Regina Schwabe wanted us to try. She's a DVM, acupuncturist and chiropractor who does a lot of work with agility dogs. She also does a lot of work with dachshunds recovering from back issues. We decided to pay her a visit after a Tracy Sklenar seminar where Tracy said Gauis seemed a little sore by the end of the day and should have his back and knees checked. (I have a lot of footage from that seminar I need to compile for a post. It's on the to do list)

So I trucked him off to P.A.W.S. as soon as I could get an appointment. She's a very busy lady Dr. Schwabe. It was a really nice visit. She has a very cool office that doesn't feel like the vets at all. But Gauis is a sharp cookie and he can smell a DVM from a mile away so there was a lot of barking. But he was defiantly more relaxed than at a regular vet clinic. He still ate the whole time and even played with some of the toys she presented to him. At one point she and I were convinced the barking didn't have to do with him being frightened anymore and had more to do with his attempts to shape us into presenting him with new and better interactive toys and treats. He knows how to make the best of any situation.

So she checked him out. She said there was a little bit of twingyness in his back right where his ribs stop. This is a common place for agility dogs to be sore but it's also a common place for dachshunds to slip disks. After she adjusted him she said she couldn't detect any sourness, which is a good sign. She still wants me to get his back X-rayed (something I've wanted to do for a while). But she recommends every dachshund have its back X-rayed at two years old to look for any calcification that could lead to slipped disks, since the causation is mostly genetic. In good news she said his knees look awesome and she doesn't see any luxating patellae in his future.

She gave us some warm up tips (I'll make a whole post on warm ups later) and a few other things to do. She sent him off with a clean bill of health and ants to see him for maintenance every six months. She would like to see him drop about half a pound, he's 10.2 pounds right now, 9.5 ish would be better for an agility dog. His weight is fine for a pet dog but with all his extra activity he needs to be super slim. Actually his regular vet says he's the slimist dachshund she sees (so many pet dachshunds are so fat :( ). But he's a performance dogs so the rules are a bit different.

She also wanted us to get these steps so he doesn't jump up and down and up onto furniture all day every day. She asked me, "How many jumps does your do do in a week?" I said hmmmm.... "Gauis goes to two agility classes a week, we get 4 or 5 turns a class, with about 10 jumps each...... so between 80 - 100" then she told me to add the number of times he jumps on and off of furniture in a week. Lets just say that's a significant increase in the number. So we're trying to reduce the number.

Gauis is not really into cooperating with this plan. He was really excited about the stairs when I got them out of the box, but once he was told they were not giant stuffed animals we bought him to grab, shake, drag around, and play with he lost interest. He'll go up them when lured but he's certainly not offering the behavior. In fact even when lured he looks resigned. We're working on it. He certanly thinks jumping on furniture is a great deal more reinforcing.

Oliver on the other hand is quite enjoying his new found ability to get onto furniture. So maybe even if I can't convince Gauis that stairs are where it's at, future fosters will appreciate them. Speaking of Oliver it's about time I gave you all an update.

Oliver is a giant sweetheart. Not a mean bone in his body. I took him to stoney point and he loved meeting all the new people and kids. He even gave one little girl kisses. We've been taking him on dog scout hikes to get him a little more exposure. He gets along great with the larger dogs and any weakness he had in his back end has virtually disappeared.

He's still very hesitant about stairs but I think that's more of a lack of experience with them then any physical problem. He's still good with the cat though he does try to mess with her more than my other fosters. I get the impression that he was a cat chaser at a young age and has since decided that it isn't worth it. Doesn't mean he's not VERY interested when she walks into a room.

The marking hasn't really improved BLECH. We need to buy stock in diapers. Sean and I used to have this inside joke when we lived with roommates. We'd walk down the aisle of a grocery store with the baby products and I'd always ask "Do we need to buy diapers for the baby?" We'd then laugh and make some disparaging comment about our roommates maturity level or cleanliness (All in love and jest). Well the habit stuck and I still say it even though we don't have roommates. Last the words slipped out I realized we actually were almost out of diapers. It was one of those sort of sad silly, and hilarious moments all in one.

In other news his soiling of his crate is much reduced, which is progress. Not 100% eliminated though.

Also remember when I called him very active for an old bugger. I have come to believe all the constant motion is more anxiety than anything else. So we've been doing a lot of rewarding for all four feet being still (To get a treat, get fed, or be let out of his crate). He is not a big fan of the training and is easily frustrated. Poor thing was never taught to think. He barks at me and circles like a herding dog. It's really odd. But I have see a marked decrease in the 'ants in his pants' fidgeting that he came to us with. Now that could be because of the training, or it could be because he's just been here longer and is more comfortable. But whatever the reason it's better.

Watching him interact with Gauis is interesting. Though he has no fear or discomfort around other dogs, you can tell he wasn't socialized much as his doggie social skills aren't the best. He doesn't read doggie body language signals well, and he doesn't know the all important doggie rule that possession t is 9 10ths of the law. or that walking on top of others and lying on them without warning is not really polite. Gauis is very tolerant so Oliver has been lucky. Something I think a new owner should be aware of though.

All in all he's a good boy and we are happy to have him, diapers and all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Welcome Oliver

Well we've got a new comer around these parts. Oliver is a miniature (a real mini only 10 pounds) smooth black and tan piebald dachshund. He is 12 years old, which means we are holding our position as the old fogie sunset dachshund retirement home. Poor Gauis, maybe one day we'll have a dachshund he can actually play with. He's a very sweet boy, likes to be petted, not a huge fan of being picked up (Hey, neither am I, and we just met, I understand that. Maybe with trust he'll be more comfortable). No snappiness about it, just a wiggler. Very active for an old man, never stops moving. And the first dachshund I've had that I don't consider fat! (well other than Gauis who I only tease about being fat)

The old men always seem to come with a few health concerns. He gets ear meds twice a day for an ear infection and has pretty big patches of hair missing. He is also probably deaf. He's also had a bunch of his teeth removed, but all in all he's in better shape than Wilbur was. His only issue I can see so far is that he's a marker, yesh, makes me miss the days of perfectly potty trained Snickers. Right now we are jerry rigging him some diapers to wear as literally this dog tries to pee in my house about ever 15 minutes. He is not a fan of this but I'm not a fan of my carpet smelling like urine.

But he's really sweet and has a darling temperament (perhaps another therapy dog candidate). Great around Gauis and the kitty. Haven't tested him around larger dogs and kids yet (We'll take him to Stoney Point this weekend and check it out).

Well here's his information (CLICK HERE). As always if you guys know anyone who is interested in this sweet boy, let me know. I'll keep you updated as always :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goodbye Wilbur

Will went off to his forever home last night and we are super happy for him. He will have two young labs as brothers, and a 10 year old dachshund, and a 15 year old beagle. This way he'll never be alone (this is great because he gets nervous by himself). His new mommy also participates in the caring canines (a therapy dog group) and is really excited about taking him on therapy dog visits. And he gets to sleep in the bed :) I'm sad to see him go as he was my favorite foster pup so far, but the fact that his new home is so prefect for him makes me feel much better. Goodbye Wilbur and good luck. My new foster should be arriving tomorrow. I'll let you know all about him soon :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Day Trial

This is my serious intense jumping face

Shesh it was like three weeks ago now or something.
Since our trial in Fredericksburg.
So some good things happened, some not so good things happened. I did things right, I made mistakes, but this is still a learning process and we're figuring it all out. So let's see:

DQ (Double Q)

Both runs were super fast and fun (Less detail this week on the runs because frankly I don't remember the details). Jumpers run was perfect from what I remember, Standard I took him over the wrong side of the triple (bad mommy) and we almost had a fluke there at the end, but it was still our first Q in open standard. So we left Saturday feeling good with a new title (which I was super happy about. If your in the Virgina area you HAVE to go to the capital cocker club trials. They have the best ribbons.)

All the other dogs don't have to down on the table, why should I?

So that meant our fist leg in Open Standard and or Open Jumpers title! I only have video of one run from this weekend. (Luckily it was one of the good ones) So here we go.

Moving on, Sunday:

Total disaster. I got to the trial like four hours before my first run (bad idea) and realized I might have a conflict (I've never had a conflict before. And I got to freak out because I've never run in excellent before! So I was a big giant stress pot. First day of a trial I've ever not had fun in agility. So I should have just gone home I guess. My runs ended up having to be about 5 minutes apart (GAH!). So I had to walk and remember two courses at the same time (never even done that in class before).

Look at me sit stay like a good boy.

We started with open standard. Gauis had a mistake right in the beginning of the run and I fell apart. Totally unable to recover. I'm sure my handling was atrocious from there on out and I was pumping stress hormones from every pore in my body. About three obstacles from the end Gauis said 'F*** this' and stopped running to sniff. I gave him a few chances by calling him but he ignored me completely. Now I don't care how bad I'm stressing out or how poor my handling is, that's just not acceptable. My stress is just another distraction, he's allowed to be slow but he has to keep trying. So I took him by his collar and walked him off the course.

As I was leaving the judge says 'Be careful!' in a warning voice. -Sigh- little dogs are treated with such kit gloves. All I could picture was my friend's dog Preacher (a 65 pound golden) getting dragged off the course practically off his hind legs for blowing a contact in front of the same judge earlier in the afternoon. He didn't say anything to her and I wasn't being anywhere near as rough with Gauis. Half wasy out the ring crew asked me why I didn't pick him up. I said 'Being picked up is a reward'. Besides Tracy Sklenar and Laura Derrett always say 'If you can't do it while training a saint Bernard, don't do it while training your small dog'

Anyhow, after that we had to race over to the Exc JWW run to try it again with only 5 minutes in between. We ran clean but it took us 52 SECONDS! OMG like pulling teeth. So obviously NQ. That seems to be the fallout of dragging him off course. His next few runs are REALLY slow. I think he's just making sure not to make any mistakes. But if he keeps trying that's fine, it's worth it.

Look at this weird ugly jumping form

The next day we started with Exc JWW. We made it around the course nicely we only dropped the triple (got a good picture of him knocking that bar too. Look at the picture below and you can see his back legs were hitting it). He was defiantly slow but much faster than Saturday. We were only two seconds over time. So since we're in Exc A (where you can have a time fault), that would have been a Q if he had kept the triple up.

I am so taking this jump down mom

The Standard Open run started off slow and steady, thought we were going to Q. Weave poles were like the 6th obstacle. Gauis started his usual slow and steady weave poles. Then about halfway through he picked up speed and I got all excited. I started saying "Yay! good boy! Great!" I thought hey we've got something here! He got to the end and suddenly squated and took a gaint dump. EMBARRASSING. Well that's an automatic NQ. He was picked up and carried out of the ring (Gah kill me now)

This picture was taken four weave poles before his 'grand finale'

Pretty humiliating but everyone was really nice about it. Apparently ever ones dog has done it once or twice. Hey, who says we don't end agility weekends with a bang :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Pictures

Here are some more pictures from last weekend I thought I'd throw up here for you all to see.

If he thinks happy thoughts maybe he can fly with those ears.

Is it just me? Or dose he look like he's about to slip in this photo.

He's flying here. It's nice to see a jumping picture where he's not a whisker away from taking down the bar.

Another strange ear picture. That's sort of the comb-over look.

The slowest weave poles in the West. A leisurely walk one might say.

Not a very flattering tunnel picture. He could caught bugs like that.

Well, we've got a three day trial this weekend and then Tracy is coming and then a trick demo. Busy busy busy. And I have an interview today at an emergency vet clinic to work as a vet assistant. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weekend Update

We had a two day trial at the GKC this weekend. I think it went really well actually. A lot of enthusiastic fast runs. Some were disastrous, some were quite pretty. Only one huge catastrophic run which was like 50% my fault.

The theme of this trial was trying to find a good pre-run routine for Gauis and I before stepping into the ring. Something that will make him excited and ready to run but at the same time keep him focused and concentrating on me. So he'll want to run hard but not be so over the top that he ignores me and goes nuts once we get out there. We used to do tricks before going into the ring followed by lots of treats. But I felt this made him concentrate on the food too much. He knew exactly when I didn't have anymore and it didn't get him excited enough to make him fast. So this trial we tugged using a tug it.

I really need to do a whole post on tug drive as it's been something we're working really hard on right now. But I'll save that till later. Basically the tug it has food on the inside. When Gauis really latched on and we got a good game of tug going I'd ask him to drop the toy and open it, then let him shove his head inside and get some food. I'm trying to transfer the value he has for food on to tug (more on transferring value, and how I'm puzzled by it, later). We tugged before every run this weekend and I do think it made him faster. With one disastrous exception.

So let's do our weekly run break down. But first here's the video tape!

JWW Sat: Beautiful run. By far the prettiest run all weekend, with the exception of that front cross right at the start. In Gauis' defense it was a pretty ambiguously poorly timed cross. In my defence that still didn't give him the right to blind cross me. But except for that little mishap gorgeous run. Look at how fast those weaves are. Much more like the ones we have in class. And I was the only one to see that serpentine when we walked the course. And he read it beautifully.

STD Sat: Was a mess. He ran off to star at the ring crew after the first jump but didn't bark and eventually came back. Then everything we relatively well until the weaves. There was a little kid stationed right by the entrance that he was obviously concerned about. It took us three tries to get it right be he eventually managed to do them and with no barking. Improvement defiantly. Then we ran into the wrong end of the tunnel (again my bad I wasn't 100% clear. I think he needed an arm there). All and all an enthusiastic and fast run.

I wet Gauis down with water a lot during the trial to keep him cool. It was very hot. I think this is our last outdoor trial until fall. Even if he can take the humidity down here in VA I certainly can't.

Sun STD: Was a disaster but I know exactly what went wrong. We were the first in the ring. I had just got Gauis tugging and we got called to go in. I wasn't ready and wrenched the toy out of his mouth and threw it a few feet away without him getting a treat. Now we do this at home all the time. Tug tug tug mom takes the toy and throws it. And it always means the same thing. Now it's time to race for the toy. When he gets to the toy we trow a big party play more tug and there are cookies. But now I was dragging him away from his tug toy into the ring. So basically he spent this whole run doing a few obstacles and then desperately trying to run out of the ring and find his toy. I can't be too angry at him. I've trained this behavior. (Though he should still run with me). Lesson learned. hand the toy to someone don't throw it onto the ground before heading into he ring. We're still figuring this whole trialing thing out. Anyway I left the course with him. No cookies for that run. Too naughty.

Sun JWW: Was a lovely run. Slower than his Sat runs but really pretty. Slower weaves then I would have liked but he came off the start line fast out of his stay which was really good when I look back at the footage from other trials. Read my body language, well seemed actually trained. He nicked the triple and I was sure he'd brought down the bar but some unforeseen force kept it up which was great. :P And it was a 1st place and our second leg in jumpers too so you can't complain about that :) One more leg and we enter the scary world that is excellent. I don't think we're ready for that.

Obligatory Ribbon Picture:

I may get more pics of this weekend. I'll post them if they come in. Three day trial this weekend.

All pictures from Club Creek Runs

Monday, May 16, 2011

We Take the Bad With The Good

Well we had an agility trail this weekend. We just did Sunday so that means two runs. This was our first trail after our three day extravaganza where we taught Gauis not to bark at judges... or ring crew... or helpless bystanders. And the verdict is, the lesson stuck! We had no barking this weekend. He did run off from me in Standard and sniffed the leash runner but then came right back and completed the course. So huge progress!

Now on the subject of our actual runs.... well they were sort of a disaster. But a fast happy enthusiastic disaster. Which is really sort of the best kind of disaster I guess. Here they are in all of their embarrassing glory.

Sorry it's really hard to see. Sean was far away for parts of it.

Sometimes I wonder if I should put my bad runs up here. But then I think, what would I learn if I only kept the good runs. The pretty runs. This blog is suppose to be all about record keeping. If I want to make progress I need an accurate account of where I am so I can know where I'm going. Besides Sean is a journalist and would never let me give you all biased reporting. So you get it all, the good the bad and the ugly.

Speaking of ugly look at this very unflattering picture of Gaius charging off the end of the teeter.

Gallery: OP Std 08 inch-B0511

So here's the breakdown.

Standard: Started off VERY enthusiastically. Gaius loves the teeter so having it early on is good for him. I was a little unclear about which jump to go to next which caused him to dart off (and sniff the leash runner as mentioned before). But no barking and he came right back. I think table after the A-Frame is hard for him because he's just going so fast and he slid right off of it but then hopped right back on. Next was the tunnel, which he refused to go through. But it had standing water in it so he was just being a prissy purse dog who didn't want to get his little footsie wootsie's wet, which I can tease him for but can't really get upset about. After that lovely weaves!

Gallery: OP Std 08 inch-B0511

Actually we had lovely weaves in both runs. Can you tell we've been working on that? Sometimes I feel like agility is a bucket with a bunch of holes in it. Once you plug one hole another shows up. But maybe that's what makes it fun. There is always something to work on. Well after pretty weaves he missed his dogwalk contact. Something he has NEVER done before, not even in class. I've known for a while that he needs work on his dogwalk contact so I'm not super surprised. I know how to fix that. His teeter was pretty too looking back at it, look how close to the end he got and let it drop out from under him. He dose love that teeter.

Gallery: OP Std 08 inch-B0511

All an all it was a disaster of a run, but a really fun disaster. I'd rather run him when he's having a blast and running his heart out, than get a Q with a run that had mediocre enuthsiasum where I have to cheer-lead the whole thing, and it's like I"m pulling teeth. He really liked that run.

Jumpers: Jumpers was less enthusiastic. It was a bit hotter, and it did start with weaves not his favorite. Then he refused a jump which confused me. Then my handling got wonky so I don't really blame him for that. I think he spent most of the run thinking "Mom, what the heck are you doing?" I count that one was my bad, being that every time I was being clear he sped up and looked like he was having a good time. My brain just wasn't in it. So we had I think one more refusal and were a bit over time. I sort of lost my place too somewhere in there. That's a bad mommy, no cookie for her!

His ears really do have a mind of their own during agility don't they?

Gallery: OP JWW 08 inch-B0511

Gallery: OP Std 08 inch-B0511

No Qs this weekend but a good time had by all. We have a two day trail next weekend in the same location and then the weekend after that it's a three day trail indoors. Then after that a Tracy Skelnar seminar. An agility filled month. I'll keep you all informed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wilbur Update

Been away for while, but that's because I'm trying to do this whole graduation thing. My life should settle down after my thesis defense and you can expect a ton more posts after that. Anyway I thought hey, I haven't updated you all on Wilbur and he's been up to some things so I should probably do that.

Willie Wonka aka Will aka Wooly Bear aka Wilbur (We've settled on Wilbur being the perfect old man name) is almost 100% health wise now. Phew. So here's the saga. When I first got poor Will he had lost 7 teeth, including his two top canniens, and just been neutered. He had almost no fur on this back end and both ears were ridiculously infected. Also two of his toenails had just been cut so they no longer grew into the pads of his feet and his wobbly back end made stairs and even getting around a problem.

Time and rest helped him recover from the surgery. Many many many baths, vitamin E and Omega 3 pills cured the hair issue. Good nutrition some weight loss and exercise (And weekly massages ) means that not only does he do some stairs now, but he actually runs! There is nothing that makes my day as bright as watching this dog happily run back and forth on my hard wood floors. Even his potty training is coming along. I think it was tough at first because every time I brought him out to pee he would trip and fall down in the grass (He's much steadier on even surfaces) so he never wanted to be outside. But now that he's steadier he doesn't mind as much.

The ears have been..... a saga. First it was cleaning his ears everyday with medication twice a day for about two months. This cleared up the left ear which is now fine, but the right ear was a different story. Nothing worked. We changed medications, we changed cleaning solutions, we increased the number of times a day we cleaned it, nothing worked. And the worst thing was it hurt him. Every time I cleaned it he would yelp and there was always a tiny bit of blood in with all the other gunk. And he'd rub the ear on things every chance he got. It really bothered him.

So the doctor finally decided to do a simple surgery where he would flush the ear canal with saline. In the midst of doing this he found a small polyp. Apparently this polyp was most likely caused by the years of neglect and infection. But now it was the reason we couldn't get rid of the current infection. So in for another surgery to remove the cancer. Now he sort of looks like Frankendog. But we hope the issues have been solved.

Anyhow on to brighter news about old Wilbur. So as I said before Wilbur has the perfect temperament. He's just not fazed by anything. Never met a person dog or situation he doesn't automatically like. So I thought, he's the perfect therapy dog. So to pass the therapy dog test in our region he would have to pass the CGC test plus a couple other things like dealing with a wheel chair, or with someone on a walker and rougher petting. Most of this stuff I thought would be a breeze for Wilbur.

Greeting another dog
Friendly petting

Supervised Separation

Walk through a crowd

I don't even need to teach him loose leash walking cause if you keep a pretty good clip he can't really walk very fast so he doesn't pull. I'm sure he pulled as a younger dog but heck now he is luckily to keep up with you at all.

The tricky part would be sit, down and STAY. Ok sit and down I had already sort of taught him. Stay was a bit tough. He has NO impulse control and all he wants to do is follow me if I walk away. Also I realized I only had like a week to teach him this before the test. We were.... inconsistently staying by the day test time rolled around. But luckily our friend Pat was doing the test and let us do the stay part a few times to prove that he could actually do it which was really nice of her.

Other than that, Wilbur passed both tests with flying colors. There was a little hick-up with the recall. He tried to come but ended up stepping on his leash and tripping himself. Then he was a little scared of continuing to move. So we did it again without the leash and he came right to me. During the test where there is a wheel chair he spent the whole time giving big lovey dovey eyes to Pat's Scottish terrier Pumpkin (she was not interested in his romantic advances). About the third pass with the wheel chair Pat said "-Sigh- He's not even looking. Could you at least get him to glance this way?" I tapped him on the head and pointed at the wheel chair as it glided past. He glanced at it and then looked back up at me as if to say So? and then turned his attention back to Pumpkin. It was pretty funny.

Of course the loud sudden noise part of the test didn't bother him. It made the lab taking the test next to us jump and Wilbur just stared right at me.

The woman with the lab said to me "Wow, he's so good. He didn't even flinch".

"He's deaf" I said.


"He's deaf, he didn't finch because he couldn't hear it."

She thought that was pretty funny and laughed. I guess it's sort of like cheating.

During the rough handling portion Pat accidentally grabbed and tugged on the ear with all of Wilbur's stitches. I was like "WAIT! He has stitches! Be careful!" but it was too late. He winced but didn't do anything else except wag his tail. She apologized but said if that didn't prove that he'd never bite anyone, nothing would.

So Wilbur is an official CGC dog and he only needs three supervised visits in the next 6 months to be an official therapy dog (We have to wait until he has his stitches out though. No open wounds on trips is one of the rules). I think this was the job he was made for in life. We can't wait to get started.

Remember! Wilbur is still up for adoption here at DRNA (ignore the stupid jokes in his profile. I didn't write that)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Thought I'd post the footage of Gauis' Saturday runs at Winchester. My parents only came Saturday so that was the only time I could get video. The standard run is clean but about 30 seconds over time. Jumpers had one refusal but still way over time (OMG those weaves are slow I could have knit a sweater) . He was showing more pep in his step darning Jumpers though. So I like to think that is a good sign. You can see he's still nervous about the judges (check the dirty look he gives the judge on the A-frame). But I'm so pleased he managed to control himself. And his tail is up so he's not miserable.