Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just go to your room!

I had to put Roc in a "time out" last night in class.

It's a fundamental rule of dog training that you should never, ever work with your dog when you're angry, frustrated or upset. Especially when it's your dog that's making you angry, frustrated and upset.

Which Roc was doing last night in class. He was paying absolute attention to everyone in class but me. He was visiting, mooching, being generally impossible. So I left the ring and put Roc in his crate for a while. He's always said "hello" to all his friends, but until last night I've been able to get his mind back on business.

His timing is particularly bad, since we have obedience trials on both Saturday and Sunday. I really wanted to get some practise in. After Open class was over I went and got Roc and asked him if he wanted to work. And he did! He was attentive and precise and adorable. The cooling-off period seemed to work for both of us.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Puppy lust

Why is it that the sight of a new puppy automatically sparks the "I WANT ONE" attitude in me? I can look at human babies entirely dispassionately - I think they're wonderful and adorable and, generally speaking, I'm very, very glad they're not mine.

But this: I cannot resist. I WANT ONE!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Going Visiting!

The one thing that I've continually stated as the reason for my taking Ceilidh (Boston Terrier) to Agility class is to improve her focus. She's better than she used to be, but Ceilidh's attention wanders, to say the least. Last night was no exception. In fact, Ceilidh was a little more scatter-brained that usual, if that's possible. She was endlessly fascinated by every spot on the floor - and there are a lot, since the mats are speckled! Occasionally she is rewarded by a treat that one of the Beginners in the class before us missed, so that just reinforces her Hoovering behavior.

Actually, Ceilidh's runs were not bad, all things considered. She even completed the teeter-totter a couple of times. That's her latest bugaboo equipment. (Ceilidh's phobias go in phases, kind of like the moon. A while ago it was the A-Frame, then the weave poles, now it's the teeter.) Anyway, toward the end of class the run led toward a row of chairs where some class members waiting to take their turn were sitting. So Ceilidh went visiting! She's one of the sweetest things on four legs, so she just wanted treats and kisses. Our instructor has us all well-trained, though, so Ceilidh was out of luck!

I finally got Ceilidh's attention back to me and the course, where it was supposed to be! After she got the opportunity to say hello, Ceilidh was faster than she had been the previous 45 minutes! She was also more focused. Well, for five obstacles. Then she found an interesting clump of hair on the floor...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I thought I was so darn smart. Not so much, as it turns out.

Dax was so very happy and into tugging with her celery rib in agility class that I wanted to translate that into something I actually wouldn't mind carrying in the back pocket of my jeans. Not that chewed-on, limp celery isn't delightful to sit on. But it's really not.

So I put my thinking cap on and came up with an idea so incredibly insightful that I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back. I took some strips of fleece, braided them together, soaked them in strained V-8 juice (she likes vegetables, not fruit) and let it drip-dry over the laundry tubs.

Roc loved it! When I tossed it down on the floor he was writhing in ecstasy all over it. Golly ignored it, Ceilidh got this look on her face that said "I just don't get it," and Dax tugged on it ferociously! I was joyous! My dog was tugging!

Then I took it to class last week. Dax looked at me like I was out of my mind. She'd never seen it before, she certainly wouldn't stoop to touching it, and, by the way, where's my celery?

I had some with me, of course. Because I know that my dogs rarely, if ever, appreciate my brilliance.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The lengths we'll go to...

Dog training, especially when you have a "non-traditional" performance breed, can stretch your creativity to its limits. And acting on the ideas you come up with can get you labelled a kook or a genius, depending on your success.

This winter I started taking Dax (my French Bulldog) to agility classes. One of the basics in agility is to make it fun for your dog and keep your dog's focus on you and the task at hand. One way is to get your dog to play with you - especially by tugging on a toy.
That's a challenge for us. Dax rarely tugs anything. Never in public. So, I had to get creative. Dee, our instructor (and Nancy, her assistant) pulled out all the suggestions they could come up with - from rubber milking machine inserts (fresh off the farm) to socks stuffed with food. Nothing worked for Dax. What can I say? She's shy about tugging in public.
So I put my thinking cap on. What does Dax love more than anything in the world? Oddly enough, the answer is vegetables. She goes ape for arugula, insane for asparagus, kookoo for cucumbers - you get the idea.

So I brought a nice, limp rib of celery to class for her to tug on. And it worked. Aside from having to pick the "celery strings" out of her teeth. And they'll be telling stories about this for years - with the names changed to protect the nutty.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm "it" - Why I blog

Renee of Small Dogs Paradise and Aquarium Fish Wonders (just an animal lover!) has tagged me! My very first tag! And the topic? Why do I blog?

I took a while to think about that question. At first, it was, in all honesty, mostly a marketing thing - to get the word out about our shop. But now, almost a year later, that's not really a factor anymore.

I blog to connect with others with the same interests (read obsessions). I've met some terrific people and while my blogroll grows, so does my circle of friends. And that's what the internet is best at - bringing people together.

None of us has to feel alone now. Whatever you're "into," you can find like-minded people to share your life with. And when the winter is getting to you (I'm now officially sick of it) and you don't feel like going out and doing much of anything, you can still connect with your friends from the comfort and warmth of home.

So that's why I blog. To form connections, to meet friends, and to share my dog obsession with people like me. Some of whom pull me back to the wider world on occasion. Also a good thing.
So - my new friends, why do you blog? Answer me that Halloweenlover, BT Photo blogger, Leslie, Marlene, and MB? Tag - you're it!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Back in the Deep Freeze

Man, it's cold out there! I know it's still winter, and it's supposed to be cold and snowy, but this is ridiculous. The "normal" temperature for this time of year is supposed to be the mid-30's (fahrenheit). According to the little desktop icon on my screen it's 17 degrees right now, 3:30 pm. I don't think it's going into the 20s like they said. Poor dogs. It's bad enough for us. I have three or four layers on (I lose count) and put on another layer plus boots, gloves and hat when I venture outside. I think we've mentioned before that the dogs don't like getting dressed. But it's too cold for them not to wear their coats, so we torture them by putting coats on and then throw them out into the cold!

And since the snow the other day there are limited open spaces in the back yard. (I'm sure you know for what purpose.) We did clear spots, and the wind drifted the snow away from other spots, but the dogs look at us accusingly when they can't go in their favored spots. (It goes without saying that the drifts were on the front walk, the back walk, in front of the garage door... Areas that had to be shoveled, of course.)

Only a few more weeks until Spring officially begins! And Spring Training is beginning! A sure sign that winter's almost over.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is it finally sinking in?

The winter storm finally passed - by noon today it was a magnificent winter day. Crisp air, sun shining, glittering white snow on the ground. If more winter days would look like this afternoon, I wouldn't even consider becoming a snowbird in my old age.

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about today. Roc and I are seriously getting ready to compete in Open obedience and we have a full schedule in the next month - three matches and five Obedience Trials.

I'm learning to just let go and have fun with my dog at these events. And it seems to be working! At the match we were in last Sunday my boy was terrific! He did all the exercises (except for dropping the dumbbell to inspect the leaf that looked like a cookie on the ground), heeled like a champ, did his sits and stays! And this was after waiting around for three and a half hours to go in the ring. I'm really happy that our present training seems to be sinking in to his little Griffie hardhead.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stormy weather

It's not much fun driving in the Chicago area today.
The wind is blowing so hard that the drifts start piling up against the door as soon as we finish shovelling.

We cancelled training classes for tonight. This is why. Believe it or not, the snowplows have already been by a couple of times and this is a major road. It's just not a nice day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Studious Pups

Among other things here at Golly Gear, I'm the web designer. I don't claim to be an expert or have all the answers to the problems that present themselves - I'm self-taught, with the addition of a couple of online courses offered by the local community college. I try to keep up with news in the field, and the latest best practices as best I can. So if something is mentioned more than a couple of times I pay attention, even if it means a nasty future total redesign.

I had the opportunity to take an online seminar on just such a topic on Wednesday, my day off (is there really a day off when you own your own business?). I took the dogs out twenty minutes before the seminar was scheduled to begin (that's how long it takes for all the coats, boots, mittens, etc.) and was comfortably ensconced in front of our home PC with my water for dry throat coughs at hand.

And Ceilidh (Boston Terrier) decided she wanted to be nowhere but in my lap. OK, fine. I log in and fumble with the speakers. Then Golly and Roc (Brussels Griffons) wandered in and settled down (in separate beds, of course - they don't usually share).

So now, just ask Ceilidh, Golly and Roc about the CSS Box Model for Dreamweaver. Dax (French Bulldog) stayed in the sunny living room for a nap.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What a good girl!

Golly is Fran's dog. Completely. Brussels Griffons are a "velcro" breed - you never have to look for your Griff, because she's always at your side. I never have to look for Roc, Fran never has to look for Golly. It's just the way it is.

On a rather routine exam, the vet discovered that Golly, now 11 years old, had significantly high blood pressure. Which was contributing to a host of other issues. It was imperative that we get it under control - quickly. So we started her on some meds and committed to taking her in once a week for re-checks.

Week after week, no joy in Mudville. Her blood pressure stayed dangerously high and even getting a decent reading was becoming difficult - Golly didn't understand what was going on and didn't like it one little bit. So, we began practicing at home - I would play doctor and fake the bp cuff with a bit of cloth while Fran steadied her and offered treats.

The good news is - it worked! Golly's bp, with an accurate reading, is under control and she was a model patient at the vet's office.

When Fran told me the good news, I was rather surprised by my own reaction. I can't stop smiling about it. Every time I look at Golly, I'm just delighted and all over smiles. I didn't really realize how much I cared about her. But if I want to find her - I still just have to look for Fran.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Truly lovelorn

Last night at training Roc's girlfriend (Charlee the Yorkshire Terrier) wasn't there. Perfectly understandable, since the wind chill factor around here is well below zero degrees Fahrenheit and she's a tiny, itty-bitty little thing. Not to mention the inches of snow that made driving an adventure.

So, without his adoring audience Roc entirely forgot absolutely everything he knows and shone in the exercises that haven't been his strong suit. All of a sudden he has no idea what "down" means, but heels like a Golden Retriever.

I'll take the heeling. I love it when we're in sync like that. And I'm hoping that everything else falling apart right now means that we have time to put it back together before the National Specialty next month.

But after such a frustrating session, it's a bit hard to remember we do this because it's fun.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007