Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happiness is comfy shoes

Taa Daa!
I found summer heeling shoes! So exciting, you have no idea. What makes these wonderful is that they're sling-backs! (I know, it takes very little to make me happy.) One of my shoe issues has always been that I have skinny heels and walk out of my shoes. So I always wore thick old athletic socks to try to keep the shoes on my feet.
And now, for the summer, I don't have to wear socks, even in Agility and Obedience! My friend Janie in Open Obedience class said I should dye them purple and green because they look like elf shoes. I don't care. Happy feet makes for happy Hope. Tiny shoes make Roc heel closer. It's a win-win for us.
BTW - the shoes are by Rocket Dog. I got them at a local discount shoe place, but I did find them online. I did not pay that much.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You want me to what?

Dax continues to teach me the differences between the terrier-type dogs I've always had and bulldogs.

Last night in Novice Obedience class our instructor was showing us a method of teaching correct heeling position called "binding," which is basically keeping the dog at your side by using slight, constant pressure on the leash.

The instructor said "forward" and everyone in class set off at a nice brisk pace. Except me, with my French Bulldog. I tightened up on the leash and she sat down. And stayed there. I could have taken her for a nice drag, but opted to loosen up on the leash and return to my favorite Dax-training method: bribery. She's pretty strictly a "what's in it for me?" kind of girl.

We had a good time after that. We understand each other fairly well. I bring the good treats and she'll consider doing what I want. It works for us.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Agility Happiness

Ceilidh was brilliant last night at Agility class! We'd been having more focus problems than usual the last few weeks, but last night we were a real team! While Ceilidh loves to tug on pretty much anything she can get her teeth into at home, this is not the case at class. Occasionally I can get her to tug while we're waiting for the class before us to finish, but hardly ever in class. And, as Agility people know, tugging is a great way to relieve stress, get rid of tension, and expend some excess energy. But, last night she was tugging like a champ in class, in front of everyone! The only thing was, the only thing she'll tug in that building at all is her beloved Latex Soccer Ball - the 2 inch diameter one. So, her ball got slimy but she actually did let me get hold of it! And, she was so interested in her ball that I was able to do rear crosses while her attention was on the ball, not where I was!

Later we did a couple of runs on the obstacles, and Ceilidh was still focused! She had a really good night. And when we got home, she crashed on the couch!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Physical Therapy

Roc's recovering nicely from his knee injury. He's been having physical therapy - in an underwater treadmill. Thought you'd like to see. What will they think of next!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Empathizing with Paula Abdul

I never, ever thought it would happen. I'm completely in sympathy with Paula Abdul.

By now everyone has heard how she broke her nose tripping over her dog. While I've never broken my nose (despite its appearance) I have, too many times to count, done an incredibly-not-graceful stumble-hop-trip-grabsomethingtryingnottofall move around one of my dogs.

I blame the dogs. If they would just stay put, we wouldn't put their lives in danger just by walking around. Inevitably, they're lying peacefully, napping away. Until we try to step over them to get somewhere. Because they always lie in your path, regardless of where you're going. Just when your foot is over them, in mid-air, they get up. Long experience has prepared you - you know they're going to do it, so you try to balance every step before you take the next. Fat chance.

Consequently, we've developed a step we call the "Griffie shuffle." While all dogs are good at trying to kill you this way, the Griffs are champs. I've mentioned before that they're "velcro dogs" - they're always with you so they're always underfoot.

Practise the "Griffie shuffle" with us: Stand with a destination in mind. Check the location of all four resident dogs. Move the right foot forward, skimming the floor lightly. Place foot. Nudge the dog body with the left foot. If the dog moves, proceed to step without lifting foot from floor. If the dog doesn't move, grab something for balance and try to step over. When the dog body suddenly stands, try not to kick it. Touch toe to floor for balance. Continue to shuffle.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Golly Musings

Golly's been feeling left out of our blog posts, so I'll bring everyone up to date on the Princess' recent activities. Golly is, naturally, horrified at the attempt on her cousin Dax's life last week, inadvertent though it may have been. She has not minded being out of the spotlight for a few days but Dax is feeling much better and Golly believes that attention should turn to the most deserving - herself.

Lately on nice evenings we've been taking the dogs outside to work a little bit on our training. Mostly simple stuff - basic obedience refreshers, "touch," and sometimes we stick a couple of weave poles in the ground and work on that. It's been a few years since she got her title, but Golly still loves to train! She's right there for the handouts, too!

Sometimes (not too often, thank goodness!) I'll have a sleepless night and channel surf or read. Golly does not like having her beauty sleep interrupted and will stalk down to the foot of the bed and plop down with an audible "Hmmph!"

Sometimes I'll practice yoga downstairs. Golly likes to help. Nothing like doing "downward facing dog" facing a little dog on my mat!

Gotta love her!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Can I come?

Apparently it takes very little for our dogs to adjust to a new routine. After her poisoning last week we brought Dax to work and kept her in a puppy playpen here. She liked it a lot.
Now, when I'm getting ready to leave the house, preparing the dogs' crate treats, she bounces around the house, doing the whole "I'm an adorable French Bulldog" thing and doesn't want to "kennel up!" with the rest of the dogs.
It's like she's saying "But moooooooooooooooooooom, I was a good girl at work. I'll be good, I swear!"
She can't understand that her behavior isn't the issue. It's mine. I wouldn't get a lick of work done if she came. She is too cute to resist.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Happier news!

Roc's achievements over the past weekend have been shamefully overlooked. I don't want anyone to think for a moment that I'm not pleased and proud that my wonderful little boy did a terrific job at two trials over the weekend.
We were in Rally Trials on Saturday and Sunday and Roc did great! We'd never tried Rally before, although I did read all the rules and study the signs. We got two of the three qualifying scores we need for the Rally Novice title - and he was a happy little guy in the ring, which delights me.
On Sunday Roc was particularly good - but I messed up and missed one command, so I ruined his perfect score. He forgave me. He's a very good boy.

The dying's begun

This morning Fran found a dead squirrel in our backyard. I found a dead chipmunk in the alley by our garage.

Two different people have suggested we pile the little corpses at the door of the person who laid the poison out. They were kidding - we can't take the chance the bodies, filled with rat poison, would be eaten by other wildlife. But it was tempting for a moment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So far, so good

Dax is doing fine, so far. She's on Vitamin K treatment until next Friday, when she'll have a blood test to check her clotting factor.

That's scary enough. What's worse - I found another block of rat poison on my neighbor's walk (next to my yard) on Sunday evening. Monday, I called our Animal Control officer and reported it and asked her how many blocks of poison the person scattered. It never occurred to her to ask how many were unaccounted for. Between us, we'd found six. I think we both assumed that half a dozen was sufficient for anyone looking to get rid of a little chipmunk.

Ever heard the adage "Never assume! It makes an ass of u and me!?" The poisoner admitted to 20, which I figure means double that number. And said she did it for a week, which I figure means two.

Lori (our Animal Control officer) put in quite a bit of overtime yesterday evening. She went from door to door, showing people what the poison looks like and warning them to pick it up and call her. We don't want it thrown in the trash - squirrels are very clever at getting into trash bins around here.

Again I ask - how could anyone think so little and be so stupid?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Somebody tried to kill her

I don't usually use this blog for ranting - I figure there's enough of that around. A radio personality here has a segment once a week called "The Brighter Side of Life" and that's the angle I like to take whenever possible.

That said, the time has come. Yesterday morning I took the dogs out, in our own, fenced backyard, about 9 a.m. I noticed Dax chewing on something blue and went over to investigate. My worst nightmare come to life - it was a block of rat poison. A squirrel had probably carried it into our yard.

I swept out her mouth, ran inside, put the stuff in a sandwich bag, pulled on some shoes, grabbed her and ran to the vet. She spent a miserable day there, having her stomach emptied and treated with charcoal and Vitamin K. She's in jeopardy for a while - Vitamin K every day and keeping a close watch on her. That's her, looking miserable, in a puppy playpen here at work.

Now for the ranting. I called our village Animal Control department to find out if they were doing any baiting for rodents in my neighborhood. Our village is usually terrific and responsible. As they were in this case, too.

In the afternoon, when I was heading out for some errands before going back to the animal hospital to pick Dax up, I saw the Animal Control truck on the street. I circled back to the alley behind our house and found the officer, Lori, checking things out. The village wasn't doing any baiting anywhere near us. And it's illegal in our town to use any lethal means where children, pets and wildlife have access.

She checked out my yard with me, then started looking around the alley. And there she found two more blocks of the stuff, sitting right out in the open, slightly gnawed. You could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. She said she'd go door-to-door, trying to find out who'd done it. And why.

Here's where the ranting comes in. A neighbor across the alley admitted they'd set out the poison. They had a chipmunk burrow in their yard and just went to the hardware store, bought the most lethal "super rodenticide" they could find, and put it out. They had no idea their actions were illegal. They should have known it was incredibly stupid. Lori tells me they're horrified they poisoned my dog. So they should be. Stupid, stupid people. Common sense should have told them not to put poison in the open. Unfortunately, common sense isn't.

Friday, May 04, 2007

In Another Reality

When Ceilidh came home almost six years (!) ago, she seemed like a normal, tiny Boston Terrier puppy. She was calm, playful and adorable. Of course she's still adorable, but hardly ever calm and she's always playing. Like any Boston puppy, her ears were floppy. We expected that they would stand up in time, like our other Bostons' ears had done. We kept waiting and expecting, never thinking about the possibility that they would never stand up! We accepted the reality that Ceilidh's markings weren't show- ring perfect, her nose is a little too long and her tail is funny-looking. But Ceilidh having floppy ears all her life never even occurred to us! We finally came to the realization that her ears would never stand up when Ceilidh was about a year old, and now we think her ears are cute. Occasionally now, when she's running into a stiff wind or at other strange times one or the other of her ears will stand up momentarily and we think, "Wow, Ceilidh would be gorgeous if her ears stood up." Hope caught this moment last night. Inside, and for several minutes, Ceilidh's ears looked perfect! This morning they were back to normal.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I have an idea...(be afraid, be very afraid)

I don't know where everybody was last night, but only Janie and I (and our dogs Reggie and Roc) showed up for Open class last night. So we took down all the ring gates and used the whole place to work! It was terrific, especially since our teacher this session is Susan who is a fantastic, meticulous, fun coach.

We did some straight-line heeling, since we had room to move. And I was astonished that Janie and I work at practically the same pace. When you consider that Reggie is a Saluki and Roc is a Brussels Griffon - you'll understand why I was amazed.

But it got my devious little brain working - if Janie and I both heel at similar paces - how much fun would it be to put together an NSDTC Obedience Team? Team Obedience, Susan tells us, includes the Novice exercises with the addition of a Drop on Recall. Our dogs can do that! Now we just need a couple more people for the team.

And that's the tall and short of it!