Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santa Paws 2010

The pups and I continued our Christmas tradition this year - they had their pictures taken with Santa Paws to benefit the SPCA (and give me a great 8x10 for my wall). We went Sunday in the first available slot to minimize the drama. I think the pictures turned out really nice, and I'm leaning towards the next to last for the 8x10. Here are the pictures that the photographer thought were the best, in the order taken:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trick Dogs

Both pups earned their Novice Trick Dog titles last week (the certificates arrived yesterday). To earn the title, the pups had to perform several tricks in front of a witness. The tricks were from a list provided by the organization that sponsors the titles. Tricks are worth one or two points, depending on the difficulty, and 15 points are required for Novice. Reyna is nearly ready to go for her Intermediate title, and I have no doubt that she'll earn her Advanced and Expert Trick Dog titles. Duncan will take longer to get there, but that's okay, since he's working on Rally these days.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Zoom Zoom

I’ve been working with the trainer that Duncan and I met at the Mutt Strut a few weeks ago. I originally contacted her to find out about Rally classes, but decided to take a different route. Instead, Reyna, Duncan and I are doing private lessons with the trainer. Reyna is focusing on tricks and really working her brain, with some physical stuff thrown in for fun. Duncan will eventually start working on tricks, but for now, we’re working on Rally stuff. The pups take turns working, and have a nice carpeted place they can rest during their breaks.

Yesterday was a blast. Reyna showed off her new “which hand has the cookie” and “shell game” tricks, and then started working on putting her paws on my arm and saying her prayers. During her break, Duncan worked on better positioning for Rally and started learning pivots (going right, he can do; left, not so much). Then we pulled out several jumps and the tunnel and started working with those. That’s when Reyna took a real interest in what he was doing. I sent Duncan over to rest for a bit, and Reyna came flying out of the rest area. She was running between me and the trainer, bowing and bouncing and bounding and zooming around the room. Popping through the tunnel, sometime going over the jumps, sometimes going around the jumps. Back and forth, around and around. This went on for several minutes. She was so happy, and so clearly enjoying herself. I haven’t seen her act like that in years, and I couldn’t help but grin the entire time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Boy!

Duncan had his first ever Rally Obedience trial this past weekend. We drove to Mebane Friday and Saturday evenings for the Triangle Shetland Sheepdog Club show. Yes, I know Duncan isn’t a Sheltie, but they had Rally trials for Herding Group dogs as part of the show. I figured it would be a good first try, since the Herding Group trial wasn’t going to be huge.

The best I was really hoping for was that we’d qualify, although I’d have also settled for not horribly embarrassing ourselves. Duncan really impressed me, though. He did a great job, scoring 93 (out of 100) and taking first place in his group both nights. He earned two legs towards his AKC Rally Novice title. The poor boy, he doesn’t know what he’s done to himself. After all, if he can do that well on his first time out, just think what he can accomplish with some practice and experience! We need to work on his position, as he likes to swing out a bit, but that’s certainly fixable. Our next goal is the Rally trial in Winston-Salem in mid-December. It would be great if he could get his third leg and title that weekend!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Puppy Crack

On our way to Duncan's club meeting Wednesday evening, we stopped at Gourmutt's Bakery to stock up on supplies. As usual, Duncan was asked if he'd like a cookie. Normally, Duncan will very politely take the cookie from the employee and place it on the floor. He never actually eats the cookie there, but will usually eat it once we get home. Well, Wednesday night was a different story. Tina, the owner, offered him a piece of puppy crack, rather than the usual cookie. Duncan sucked up that puppy crack like it was, well, crack for puppies. It was amazing. Naturally, I bought a container of it. I've been using it during training for the upcoming Rally trial - if he knows I have puppy crack in my pocket, he'll do just about anything I ask. I'm hoping that'll help him focus on me long enough to complete the Rally course.

Bellyrubs Freeze-Dried Chicken Livers, aka Puppy Crack

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Grab Bag

Duncan and I went to the Canine Carnival and Mutt Strut yesterday. The weather was pretty crappy, but we still had fun. We got to meet Steve and Laura, which was great. I really hope they met the dog who will become their newest family member. We also met a couple of dog trainers that we just might start working with. I certainly got along with them, and they didn’t even seem concerned by the thought of Reyna and all her alpha bitchiness.

We left the event a bit early to do a home visit for Gus. Our foster pup will be going to his new (and, I hope, permanent) home this coming Friday. I really like the folks and I think this will be a great place for Gus (soon to be Max).

After a miserable 30 days, Reyna is finally off the antibiotics. Her leg looks a lot better, and I really hope we don’t have to go through this again anytime soon. We went for a nice long walk this afternoon, and I didn’t even have to stop and think about when she’d had her meds, when she’d had her yogurt, or if it was too warm for her (not that a high temperature was a major concern today). She did a full 4.25 miles with no sign of trouble. She doesn’t have the speed she did, but I figure in a week or so we’ll be back to the speed and distances we were doing before.

Duncan’s got a Rally trial this weekend, so he gets to take it easy. No long walks for him – with my luck, his knee would start acting up and he’d be limping his way through the course. He will, of course, being doing a bit of training this week, but not so much that he gets grumpy about it.

We had a semi-failed experiment this week. Poor Parm (the cat who lives outside in the crate because of his Inappropriate Behavior) cries a lot. I’m sure its because he wants to come back inside, but I thought some of it might also be loneliness. I decided to put his sister, Per’la, in the crate with him to see if that made him feel better. Well, the pitiful meowing stopped, but the pissed off meowing started with a vengeance. Not only was Per’la upset about being in the crate, but Parm was mad, too. Turns out Per’la booted Parm out of the kitty condo, and he was stuck sitting on top of the condo or on the crate tray, neither of which are particularly warm. So, after trying that for a couple of days, I let Per’la come back inside. She’s much happier, and even Parm’s meowing has eased off. I guess he’s happy enough by himself.

Monday, November 01, 2010

No Place Like Home

Tuesday, the pups and I headed west to visit the family for several days. We stayed at the cabin at Dad’s, which was great, because it meant we had privacy and a place for the pups to run. It rained all day Wednesday, so we just hunkered down for the day. I read, the pups slept, and during dry spells we’d go outside for a quick walk. We visited Mom and Ronnie on Thursday, and Ganna on Friday. Saturday, Josh, his family and Ganna came out to Dad’s for lunch. The kids are cute, but wow, they’re loud and energetic. We were all exhausted by the time they headed home. The pups and I were very happy to come home Sunday. It’s a toss-up as to who was happier, me or Reyna. The poor girl stopped at the truck every time we walked past it, clearly asking if we could go home.

We did have a bit of excitement Saturday night. The pups and I were walking back up to the cabin when Reyna cornered a possum. It was hissing at her, and as I was grabbing her collar to pull her away, Duncan swooped around from behind, snatched up the possum, shook it twice and then tossed it off to the side. He then looked at me and gave me a big doggy grin. Naturally, I told him he was a very good boy. I checked the possum, and I’m pretty sure Duncan didn’t actually kill it (although I didn’t actually check for a pulse). There was no blood and no obvious puncture wounds, just a lot of slobber. Its possible Duncan snapped its neck or back, but his death shake has always been more disorienting than fatal… Sunday morning, there was no sign of the possum, so it either got up and ran away when the coast was clear, or a coyote ate it without leaving a trace. My guess is that it “played possum” until we left, then ran home, thanking the possum gods that it got away with minimal damage.