Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ending the Year on a Good Note

Thursday evening was the last Agility class of the year - not surprising since it's the last week of the year, but let's not be picky. I think Dax is starting to get comfortable in the room with all the equipment. Her contacts are coming along, and any fault is, naturally, mine. She's really low to the ground and the place for a treat reward a good contact is between her face and the target. Well, she likes to put her chin on the target which makes it a little difficult! But, we will persevere. We started to learn weaves on Thursday. Perhaps Dax has been watching Ceilidh when we practice weaving at home, because she was a star! We start out with just two poles and reward for any behavior going toward the poles. Dax didn't just go toward the poles, she went through them! What a good girl.

Ceilidh had an amazing night as well! I'm starting to be able to switch speeds while I'm washing my hands between classes. Ceilidh requires a much different approach than Dax. Ceilidh needs a little bit of calming down without shutting her down while Dax needs her own cheering section! Both girls are very sensitive to my moods, so I have to remember to always smile. Silly, but it works.

Party next week!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Picky, picky, picky

Yesterday our friend Sam came into the shop with his daughters Rachael and Jenna and his miniature dachshund Charlie.

We've known Sam for many, many years and love him like a brother. And like many little brothers, he doesn't listen to us. If he had, he never would have gotten Charlie. And we would have been wrong. Charlie's perfect for Sam's family.

I've never, ever met a more opinionated dog than Charlie. They brought him in to get a new harness. Knowing Sam, I knew that his first choice would be the basic black Step-In Harness. Charlie didn't like it. And, in all honesty, it wasn't the best fit for a chubby little dachshund. So I went to the Plaid Step-In Harness. It fit great, but Charlie hated it.

Onward. Next I tried the Freedom Harness. Not quite right for Charlie. Next I pulled out the Soft Harness. That was it. Charlie loved it - he stopped trying to scratch, roll over or otherwise rid himself of the thing.

The funniest part was that Charlie lets Rachael and Jenna (his human sisters) do anything to him! Jenna wanted Charlie to have a Jingle Collar for the holidays. So this little dog, who was struggling when Sam and I were trying to fit him with harnesses, stood like a rock when Jenna pulls this noisy, elastic thing over his head, tag still attached. What a good boy!

Sam was also looking for a new bed for Charlie. He (Charlie, not Sam) reminded me of Goldilocks! Too hard. Too soft. Ohhhhhhhhh, this one was just right! He rejected the Flipo Bed, the Donut Bed, the Memory Foam Bed and decided, rather obviously, on the Reversible Bed.

I think Charlie must take after someone else in the family. Sam's always been a pretty easy-going guy!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

After a Hard Day

The dogs love to help Hope vacuum the house. Hope doesn't exactly love it, but she puts her earplugs in, headphones on, and blasts her Ipod. This blocks out most of the vacuum and barking noise. I'm not sure if Hope has written about how much the kids love to help her vacuum - so much that she's had to replace the hoses!

Anyway, after so much vigorous activity Hope has some very tired dogs on her hands! That's Dax (French Bulldog) by herself. Roc and Golly (Brussels Griffons) are together in Roc's box - Golly was so pooped she didn't want to wait for her cushion cover and towel to come out of the dryer!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Golly holds a grudge

Golly holds a grudge longer than anyone else (any species) I know. Yesterday she had to go into the vet for a starving blood test, so there was no breakfast for Golly! Her siblings got breakfast. Her sibs got treats. Golly got pats and hugs. The expression on her face was like, "What's up with that? I don't want hugs! Gimme food!!" No dice, kiddo. No matter how cute you look, I'm not giving in!

And Golly can look plenty cute. Many have succombed to those big brown eyes. But, it was for her own good. So, no food for Golly. I left Hope to take her in for the test and went to work. When I got home it was all I could do to get Golly to look at me. It took some extra-special treats and individual attention until I was back in Golly's good graces!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beauty is in the eye......

Our Dog Training Club's holiday party was Saturday night. Needless to say, there was a lot of discussion of topics that polite (read non-dog) people don't talk about in public, but it was a dog group, so everybody chimed in.

It's the only time in the year that the members of the North Shore Dog Training Club meet without our dogs, so we actually can completely concentrate on what other people are saying. Whenever you're responsible for a dog (or a child, for that matter), your attention is divided; half on the person you're talking to, the other half on the trouble your dependent is getting into.

Anyway, spouses and significant others are welcome at the party, so we see the non-dog-training halves. One of the highlights of the party is when we distribute the club calendar, featuring pictures of all of our dogs.

So Paul, Colleen's fiance, turns to March, which has pictures of my absolutely gorgeous dogs on it. Our calendar editor wanted my dogs pictured all panting, so they are. And he points at Dax, my incredibly gorgeous French Bulldog and exclaims "What an ugly dog!"

I didn't hear it, but the reports have been flowing in. What makes it particularly funny is that Colleen absolutely adores Dax and has been threatening to kidnap her since the day I got her. Paul is truly contrite, so we're allowing the relationship to continue. On a probational basis.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That's a wrap for 2006

Last night was the last training class for this year - I won't know what to do with myself on Tuesday evening for the next two weeks. A fundamental truth of my life for the last 10 years - if it's Tuesday, it must be dog training!

And the sessions last night were truly enlightening. We did run-throughs, simulating trial conditions; Roc in Open and Dax in Novice.

And Roc reacted just like at a trial. He was nervous, despite knowing both the place and the people! And he weirded out a bit - he's been missing the broad jump the last two trials and in class, so we've been working on that. His broad jump was perfect. But he completely ignored me when I told him to "down" on the recall. Funny little dude. It's always something different.

Dax did much, much better than expected. I haven't really been practicing with her much - I'm a lazy sod at heart. But we have been teaching her to target, using a foam plate. She touches it with her nose and is rewarded with a cookie. While the other dogs were having their turns in the ring, I played with her target. At first she acted like she'd never seen it before - first time in this venue, I guess. Then she caught on - you could almost see the light bulb turn on - "Oh! I know this game! I get COOKIES!" And we were off and chasing that target, bobbing for cookies.

I held it in my left hand, in front of her, and did a bit of heeling. Worked like a charm. But trying to walk and hold something in front of a French Bulldog's face will give you very funny posture!

When it was our turn in the ring - I was very proud of her! She heeled very nicely off leash, proving me totally wrong, since I hadn't wanted to take her leash off at all! They will make liars of us every time!

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's Freezing Out There!

Here in the Chicago area in the last week we've had a temperature drop of about 40 degrees (F), eight inches of snow and winds to drop the wind chill well below zero. It's not fun for us, but the dogs REALLY don't like it!

We have little dogs, so the snow was over their heads before we tried to clear a path for them. I say "tried" because they're not patient and bounded ahead of me as I plodded through the drifts making a path for them in the back yard. It was a struggle to persuade them that they really had to do their business before they were let back in the house. The looks on their faces said, "Naw, I don't have to go that bad!" I said, "Yes, you do - now get to it!"

And, of course, before anyone goes outside, everyone needed their coat! Ceilidh likes her new coat. (This picture was taken, obviously, before the snow!) Unfortunately she's the only one who likes wearing clothes of any sort. Dax (French Bulldog) hates it and tries to run away before we can put her coat on her. And, once she's outside she'll brush herself against anything to try to get the coat off! Roc (Brussels Griffon) will tolerate the coat, but not if the neck is fastened! Golly (Brussels Griffon and alpha princess) doesn't really care one way or another!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dax is an Agility Girl!

Hope decided that Dax (her French Bulldog) would benefit from taking an Agility course. She expects that it will boost her self-confidence and hopes that it will improve her fitness. The only issue with Dax taking Agility is that Hope doesn't like to do Agility, so I'm elected to take her. I don't mind, but my concern was whether she would pay attention to me. No problem there - I pulled out here favorite treat that she only gets for training, and as you can see her attention was right on me!

Last night was Dax's very first class, so she didn't get to use much equipment, but we did some jumping exercises and listened to our instructor for some very important tips.
Next time we'll have less lecturing and more equipment! I think Dax is looking forward to it!