Monday, January 30, 2006

CF #3

We started putting a few moves together this week, and Reyna and I both have to learn to wean her off of the treats. She has to be able to perform for up to 2 minutes with no treats or rewards, so it could take us a bit to get there. We also decided to change her “move” from going away from me to going towards me. She seems to like that better, and this really is all about her. She still doesn’t take her back end with her, though. We figured out that its not that she doesn’t realize her butt is back there, its that she doesn’t feel like bothering to move it. She figures, if she can get the treats without moving her rear, why exert the energy? I knew she was a smart girl… Since she doesn’t want to move her butt, she now gets to wear a towel wrapped under her belly, just in front of her back legs, so that I have something to pull to force the motion. Sooner or later, she’ll realize its easier for her to just move her back end than to fight the towel.

A Nervous Day

Today was a big day for the canine members of the family. I left them out of their crates this morning when I went to work, and I left the dog door open, too. I spent most of the day stressing that they would either trash the place or jump the fence and run amuck. This was Duncan’s first day loose, but he’s so attached to Reyna, I knew he wouldn’t go anywhere without her. This was the first day in about 6 months that Reyna’s been left loose all day. She hasn’t been particularly reliable, but I figured Duncan would give her someone to play with. When I left this morning, she was very calm and laid back, which is usually a good sign. She normally only trashes the place if she thinks she was going to go somewhere, and then got left behind. Let me tell you, that girl can hold a grudge. The dogs did wonderfully….no damaged furniture, no doggy accidents, and no visible attempts to leave the yard. Definitely a good thing. They have to get used to this, because in two weeks, they’ll be spending their time in my best friend’s back yard while I’m at a conference.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dark Warrior

Reyna will be 2 years old March 1st. She weighs about 78 pounds, and should be done growing. She’s tall and thin, but she’s basically 78 pounds of lean, hyper-active, searching, dancing, spinning muscle. There is no fat on her at all. Having said all of that, I’m getting a bit nervous about the size of the horse that lives with us. Duncan is 6 and a half months old, and weighed in tonight at 73 pounds. 5 pounds less than Reyna. He’s shorter than her right now (a bit in the height, more in the length), but I expect that to change over the next few months, and he’s certainly not pudgy. Although he has, thankfully, lost the super-skinny look he had for a while. 73 pounds. At 6 and a half months. And he still likes to sit in my lap.

Oh, and my slack self finally managed to send off his registration paperwork. Duncan’s official AKC name is D’Can’s Dark Warrior Dreaming. But you can still call him Duncan.

Monday, January 23, 2006

CF #2

Reyna and I are working hard, and she’s definitely figuring out what I want her to do. Reyna’s still having a bit of difficulty with remembering to bring her butt with her, but we’ve come up with a few tricks to help that. I’m going to start using a dowel rod as a touch stick, for two purposes. One will be to tap her back end as necessary. The other is to teach her to go for the stick instead of the treat, so I can start weaning her off of treats as lures. She knows the word “touch” so I don’t think this will be a real issue for her. We also worked on walking over flat bars, so she would start paying attention to what was happening with her back feet.

New moves we learned this week:

“Back” – with Reyna in front of me, backing away, instead of beside me and backing with me.
“Tween” – Reyna and I walking together, with me straddling her back and her looking up at me.
“Around” – Reyna circling me.
“Paw” – Reyna sitting and putting her paw on my bent leg.


The pups went to day camp yesterday and got baths while they were there. They smell so good now. And I absolutely love how clean fur feels – all soft and fluffy and shiny.

There's one in every class...

I’m taking an accounting class as part of my MBA degree. This class is kicking my tail. The concepts of debits and credits as the world of accounting views them make no sense at all. The book is atrocious. And the amount of homework is insane, considering this is an online class and we all have real jobs and lives outside of class. As part of the homework, we were given a midterm last Wednesday night. It was 30 multiple choice, and written next to the right answer was “(Correct).” Was it an accident? On purpose? We’ll never know… I actually went through the questions to make sure I got the same answers, and amazingly enough, I did. Thursday afternoon, though, Nora - one of the girls in class - posted a message telling the instructor what he’d done. Why? Why would someone do this? What’s the point, except to make your classmates hate you? The instructor fussed about people complaining, so he posted a new midterm. 25 true/false and 25 multiple choice. The second midterm was all theory, with no math at all. I ended up having to guess on some of the answers, because I couldn’t find the information in our book or notes. According to the online word search for our book, the word “voucher” was never used. This is the point where Nora should be very happy she lives far, far away from me……

Monday, January 16, 2006

CF #1

Reyna and I had our first Canine Freestyle class Saturday afternoon. I made sure we took enough quick play breaks to keep her excited. She seemed to enjoy it, and it definitely made her tired. After just 45 minutes, she was actually ready to lay down for a nap. I should have started her on this when she was 6 months old…

We learned some new moves Saturday, and how to modify some moves we already know. Mind you, when I say “learned” I mean we did them a few times and figured out the basic concept, but we’re going to have to practice them a lot before they qualify as something Reyna and I know how to do.

We worked on “heel” which Reyna can do beautifully on the left, but heeling on the right confuses her. Which makes sense, considering that for more than a year, she’s heeled on the left, and I’ve never asked her to heel on the right. “Spin” will also be a directional problem. She can spin to the left beside me, or to the right in front of me. She’ll need to be able to go in both directions. We also tackled:
“back” - walking backwards beside me in a heel position
“front” - her walking towards me as I back up (not hard for her)
“move” – her in heel position, and both of us moving to the left
“weave” – her going under either of my legs

Besides the newness of some of the moves, Reyna also has the challenge that all long dogs face…remembering to bring her back end with her. Her front end will “move” or “weave” but her butt gets left behind (so to speak). When we “move” I have to step across with my right foot (since we’re moving to the left), and then nudge her butt with my left foot. It works for now, but we’ll definitely have to phase that out quickly. When she “weaves” I have to tap her rear to remind her to get it out from under my leg.

Its easy to see how it wore her out.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Attitudinal Change

My dog is a wonderful dog, and I’m really tired of feeling like I have to defend her to people who don’t know her. Yes, she had issues as a puppy (and frankly, I’m amazed I didn’t kill her before her first birthday), and yes, she can still be a real snot sometimes. But you know what? She’s an alpha female German Shepherd. That’s just how they are. She’ll be like that for the rest of her life. Reyna is sweet, loving, friendly, frighteningly intelligent, stubborn, and a hard worker. She’s even becoming more of a couch cuddler as she gets older.

Following on the heels of the Sylvie/Drill Team “Reyna’s a liability” issue comes a multi-email discussion I had last night with a girl on the board of a rescue group that I’ve volunteered with and fostered dogs for.

She sent out a foster home plea yesterday for an absolutely gorgeous 8-month-old female GSD. After thinking about it for a while, I sent an email saying I would take her, and hopefully, she and Reyna would get along. Mind you, that was not said out of concern for my dog’s “attitude” problems, but because I know sometimes dogs just don’t like each other, just like people don’t get along with everyone. And strong female GSDs don’t always hit off really well. But the description of the pup did not make her sound like a strong female. It said she was being bullied by the male GSD she lived with. No alpha female is going to tolerate that.

When I got home, I’d still not gotten a response, which was unusual, so I emailed her again and asked if anything had been decided. She said no one else had offered to foster her, but she didn’t want the pup in my house because Reyna has issues with dogs that challenge her, like Gus did. She also said she’d rather we didn’t foster a dog that hadn’t already been fostered by someone else, so we’d know about that dog’s temperament. I hate to break it to her, but even dogs with great temperaments don’t always get along.

Let me explain quickly about Gus. He was a very large GSD mix that I agreed to foster. Very sweet with people, most of the time. He jumped my fence twice, tried to break through my hall door to get to my cats, and tried to bite my neighbor when he put Gus back in his crate – turns out he had confinement issues. On top of that, he humped Reyna incessantly, and bullied her as much as possible. She didn’t respond in her normal fashion (by putting him down), which worried me. Made me think she knew something wasn’t right with him. The last night he spent at our house, they had played as usual, and Reyna was sleeping on the floor by my chair. With no warning at all, Gus attacked her. And it wasn’t play fighting. I had to separate them (I know, I know, never separate fighting dogs by yourself, but what was I supposed to do…wait until he got tired of mauling my dog?), and he bit me in the arm. Once I got them apart, and everyone calmed down, I called the rescue and told them Gus had to leave. He ended up spending almost a month boarding at the vet, and came very close to being put to sleep. Even the vet commented that Gus must have just been responding to Reyna’s dominant response to his challenge. Um, hello? She was ASLEEP. I’ve heard he’s doing well, now, as long as he’s kept away from crates, cats, kids, dogs that are more alpha, and walked on a leash for exercise. Needless to say, no one has adopted him yet, he’s still being fostered.

So, I took offense that someone would use the Gus incident to decide Reyna had dominance issues. I pointed out that she’d never had trouble with any other foster dogs, and that she tolerated Gus’ crap a lot better than I did, and that the fight with him wasn’t her responding to a dominance challenge, it was her fighting for her life from a vicious, unprovoked attack. The girl then said that we all know Reyna is very choosy about who she lets share her space (aren’t we all?). I reminded her that Reyna has never started a fight for no reason, although she is more than willing to finish one. She doesn’t bully dogs, or pick on them. If she doesn’t like them, she simply ignores them. She will enforce the house rules, however. I also pointed out that I am more than capable of controlling my animals, and know how to work around any issues that come up. No response.

At the same time, I was talking to another girl who works for the rescue, about something else entirely, and was telling her a bit about what was passing through the emails. She said that she was told the pup was a “high energy bratty female GSD” and so she had decided against fostering her. She also said she thought more information had been discovered about the dog. So I sent the first girl an email, asking if that was true, that she had more information about the dog than what she had given me. No response.

This morning, I withdrew my offer to foster. I told her I did not appreciate feeling like I had to defend Reyna for being herself, nor did I like feeling that the rescue didn’t trust me to control my animals. I also told her I was concerned that she didn’t seem to be sharing all of the information about the dog with me.

I’ll probably end up pulling my name from the foster list. If they don’t want to place anyone in my house on the basis of one bad incident, then I don’t need to be seeing all the emails of dogs that need help, knowing I won’t be allowed to do anything about it.

I’ve also decided that there will be no more explanations of how Reyna’s come so far since she was a puppy, no more descriptions of how many obedience classes we’ve taken to get here, no defending her to people who make assumptions about her because of one action or just because she’s a GSD. My dog is wonderful, and if people can’t recognize that and appreciate her for what she is, that’s their loss, not ours.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Peyton Marie

This is my niece at her 1st birthday party last September. You can tell we’re related, because she clearly loves her cake icing. She’s the daughter of my brother, Josh, (the middle of the half-siblings), and his wife, Stephanie. Peyton has definitely reached the point where she is an entertaining child. And she can be freakishly cute (no, I still don’t want one). She and Josh are currently working out who’s really in charge. He’s tough, but my money is on her. Watching him tell her to not drop something, and then her deliberately throwing that item, is absolutely hilarious. I’m hoping that when I’m visiting with my best friend in February, I’ll be able to stop by and introduce Reyna and Peyton. Steph said Peyton’s been around big dogs, so Reyna shouldn’t scare her. And we all know how much Reyna adores small children.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bobbing for Kibble

Duncan has a brand new game. The silly boy has started taking a mouthful of kibble and dropping it in his water bowl. A few minutes later, he’ll stop eating the dry kibble and start trying to get the wet kibble. Its hilarious. He almost always ends up snorting, with water up his nose. And he’ll leave some in the water, eat some dry, and try again. It usually takes him most of his dry meal to finally get all of the wet kibble out. Reyna just sits and stares at him. I’m sure she’s mentally shaking her head in older-sibling doggy disgust.


I was boxing my CSI reports for attic storage this weekend, and I came across this poem. It was written by one of my CSI coworkers when we were having some really hard times in the unit. The department was telling us they had no money to give us raises – or even keep us in gloves and fingerprint tape – but they had $80,000 to bring in an efficiency expert to tell them where the problems were in the department. We also had a supervisor who refused to back us, even when officers told us to do something that was clearly against the rules. For some reason, it didn’t bother him (or anyone else in command) that most officers didn’t seem to have a clue about what was actually legal in a crime scene search. We got a sergeant as a supervisor before I left, but the problem with that was that the CSI unit was civilian, not sworn.

From what I’ve heard the times I’ve had to go back to testify, things never really improved in the unit. Between that and the record high of homicides last year, its hard for me to really miss the place. I miss the work sometimes, and being outside, and the relative freedom. And being trusted and respected for my abilities by those higher in the chain. Unlike some folks, I didn't mind belly-crawling through body fluids, if it got me what I needed. Or that sometimes it took four showers and three days of driving with my windows down to get the stench of death off me and out my car. But then it’ll rain for two days, or the temps will be in the high 90s for a month, and I realize that desk work really isn’t such a horrible thing. Plus, even though sitting aggravates my knee, it doesn’t hurt as much as standing on it all day. Every now and then, though, I just sit here and wonder what the heck it is I’m doing with my life. Granted, I’m good at what I do, but I don’t enjoy it like I did the investigation work. I miss being allowed to think for myself. I miss the challenge. I miss figuring out what happened to someone, and how, and looking at a scene and pulling out the information that all those inanimate objects can provide, if you just know how to ask the right question. I just can’t help but think I was meant to do more than sit at a desk and push paper around.

“Work smarter not harder” is to be our new decree.
Haven’t seen it yet, but sounds good to me.

Things will be changing, but not over night.
Haven’t seen it yet, but there’s a chance they might.

Study groups and meetings are set into place.
A lot of BS instead of lying to our face.

They’re waiting on this, they’re waiting on that.
We’ll only wait so long before smelling a rat.

“We’ll leave no stone unturned” is what we’re told.
From what I’ve seen, I’m not sold.

Actions louder than words, you better get it in gear,
Or some day soon none of us will be here.

We’re broke, fed up, and tired of this shit.
What will you do when we all quit?

“We’ve got stacks of applications, you can all be replaced”…oh, give me a break.
Just who’s going to train them, for God’s sake?

No budget for training, supplies, or increase in pay.
City manager got a raise, what can I say?

Two helicopters, an urban assault tank…
Did all other departments rob a bank?

Stepping in blood, brains, and bile…
Have city council try this for a while.

Just continue to search for where the problems fall.
If you want the answer, we’ll be out searching for a person in charge who has balls.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reyna's baby

My friend, Marla, has a 6-month-old girl, Allegra (LG). We got together a few weeks ago to take LG and the dogs for a walk. Duncan wasn’t too interested in the baby, but Reyna adores infants. All infants. Any infant. Most kids, too, until they hit about 8 or 9 years old, and then she can take them or leave them, unless she already knows them. She’s good with kids, but she’s obsessed with babies. And once she’s licked a baby, its her baby. To the point that I’ve seen her get upset with a baby’s parent because she thought the parent was hurting the child.

Back to the walk with Allegra. The baby was thrilled to see the dogs, and kept grinning and giggling at Reyna. While we were walking, Reyna would check on LG every couple of minutes. If the baby cried (or sneezed, for that matter), the walk stopped while Reyna made sure she was okay. Reyna didn’t show any real interest in any of the people we passed, until one person started walking towards the stroller with her hands out, reaching for the baby. Reyna immediately planted herself between LG and the stranger. She didn’t bark or growl, but it was very clear that that person would have to go through her to get to the baby. Thankfully, that person wasn’t an idiot, and didn’t force the issue.

By the end of the walk, Marla had decided that Reyna could baby sit anytime she wanted. Now, if we could just teach her how to feed the baby and change diapers….

Stinking Dogs

I love my dogs. I really do. And most of what they do really doesn’t bother me. They play-fight constantly, and sound like they’re killing each other, but they’re just having fun. And they’ve rearranged the furniture a few times while they’re playing, just by slamming into stuff. But this morning, they went a bit too far. Thankfully, they have hard heads. They were playing, and had apparently gotten over beside my curio cabinet again, which is the one piece of furniture I’ll fuss at them for getting to close. This time, though, I was in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher when I heard a loud, not-good noise. When I went to the living room to see what happened (and to yell at them for getting near the curio cabinet), I saw that they’d broken some of the glass. On the up side, no one was hurt. On the down side, an entire pain of glass is ruined. The pane runs from the bottom of the cabinet up to the middle, where it attaches to the frame. The bottom half of that pane is gone, and there’s a crack running up the rest of it to the center frame. No clue how I’m going to get it fixed. It’s a good thing I love them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Duncan graduated from his Basic Obedience class last Tuesday. The next step is Advanced Manners and his CGC, which we may have to do through PetSmart, because of the Sylvie issues.

Reyna starts back with SAR class later this month. It should keep her in practice, since Mom’s too busy to join a real team. I’m going to let Donny (the instructor) know that I’d like to set up some harder searches for her, and that if he gets a call for anything in our general area, we’d love to come help.

Reyna is also going to be taking Canine Freestyle classes for a bit. If it looks like she’s enjoying it, we’ll stick with it for a while. I’m hoping we can do enough to at least turn in a critiquing video for the Musical Dog Sport Association’s first video competition. She’s a fast learner, so the hard part will be me keeping her challenged.

The dogs really racked up…..

Christmas was fairly profitable for all concerned – and the family was actually well-behaved, which was really nice. And surprising. But I digress.

I’m pretty sure the dogs received more gifts than anyone else in the family, with the exception of Peyton, my 15-month-old niece. Between the two of them, they got 4 femur bones, 4 stuffed animals, two squeaky balls, a tennis ball, a soccer ball, 2 squeaky toys, a Frisbee, a candle (for any little accidents), two pigs ears, 6 yummy-filled bones, a tug rope, and three bags of treats. Mind you, the majority of this was NOT from me. Spoiled little brats.