Archive for April, 2009

Our first agility camp 2009

April 27, 2009

This past weekend we had so much help from our local agility enthusiasts with spring clean-up! Tracy and Zack Waite came on Friday to sweep the floor and walls in the training building — it looked fantastic!  Then Maggie and Mark Paskawych arrived on Saturday and spent several hours picking up deadwood and chain sawing downed trees. Vicki Davis arrived mid-afternoon and weed-whacked for many hours.

The place looks really fantastic and will be much easier to keep mowed now that the high weeds and deadwood are cleared. Bud and I created a firepit last Thursday, cleaning up the area just south of our garage door, so that major project can be checked off our list.

Today is the first day of our first agility camp and we’re having beautiful spring weather. With fostering Mercy there was less time on Friday and Saturday for my spring cleaning in the house. I kept putting it off so I ended up in a cleaning frenzy on Sunday morning.

Sunday was packed with dog training and welcoming guests, as well as a bit of management for Mercy. We had our usual noon-to 4:00 agility workshops and, just to add excitement, I scheduled a 1-hour private lesson in rally-o for the morning. That meant the sweeper got left in the middle of the living room floor during afternoon workshops.

There’s not enough interest in obedience and rally from local people for me to establish group classes so I eliminated group classes and only do private lessons in obedience and rally. There’s actually more value for the buck for the student this way. No standing around …

After my beginner workshop where the dogs worked up to sequences 5-6 obstacles long (they’ve progressed really fast!) I broke away from workshops to do my chambermaid duties on one of the cottages.

Two new students had attended the advanced agility workshop, buying the cottage package (they arrived Saturday afternoon, walked their dogs, went into Marietta for dinner, had a 1-hour private lesson with Bud, stayed in a cottage, visited the pond Sunday morning, and attended the Sunday afternoon workshop).

Since we had campers arriving late afternoon the upper cottage (blue cottage) had to be cleaned and beds stripped and remade before Julie and Amanda moved into it for camp week. Interesting note — 4 days ago I was cleaning that cottage and wondering if the propane would hold out for another week. It was about 45 degrees with overnight lows in the 30s. The past 2 days have seen temps in the high 80s to 90s, so I guess my worries were unnecessary.

At 3:45 I scooped up Mercy and took her for an outing to agility class. She greeting everyone with a tremendous butt wiggle and crooked smile. I returned to the house to finish my cleaning and my Mom showed up to help.  We both hate dusting but Mom dived into it with the enthusiasm one always has for attacking someone else’s dirt.

The dust bunnies are a thing of the past.

Later Nathan Vincent arrived to help us with picking up branches that had fallen in our spring ice storm. He stopped by the house on his way home to let us know he’s the new president of his 4H club and he wants to put together a kids-and-agility outing here. Last year we had 2 kids work days and, in return for participating, they got a 2-day outing for themselves and their dogs, complete with weiner roast, pizza party, and 2 nights in cottages.

It was great fun for everyone and we’re looking forward to repeating it again this summer when everyone’s schedules thin out. Nathan has made it his project to set up this summer’s outing and it’s in good hands with him.

Bud showed Nathan how to swat at carpenter bees, which is highly gratifying. Between them they killed an additional 5-10 bees. When you live in a wooden house you hate wood-eating creatures.

my new project

April 24, 2009

Every time life gets busy and my schedule gets cluttered I’m presented with an entirely new project I simply can’t resist.

I’ve always had a soft spot for aussies, for shelter dogs, and for 3-legged dogs.  Imagine how my heart stopped beating, how I held my breath, when I received an e-mail from a local shelter asking “what breed do you think this is?”

There were pictures attached to the e-mail as well as a paragraph describing how this little black-tri aussie ended up at the shelter.  The message went, “Aussie is a 1-year-old Australian Shepherd or Border Collie, found injured 1 month ago. She had a dislocated hip and break in her leg (near the elbow) which went untreated for the past month, the finders couldn’t affort vet treatment. CPS reported the dog to us and the finders signed her over yesterday. Dr. C__ said there was no way to repair the leg and he is removing it today. She will be back at the shelter by Thursday.”

After I identified the pictured dog as an aussie, watched 7-second video clip 2-3 times, I wrote back that I’d welcome the opportunity to foster this little girl for the shelter while she recovers from this major surgery.

Who could resist this girl?  A three-legged aussie who came to the shelter as a result of being seized from a neglectful home??  Right up my alley.

So, here I sit, blogging on my laptop while keeping a watchful eye on a little girl who is recovering from major surgery — not only did she get an amputation but the shelter had her spayed while she was under anesthesia. If a human being had this surgery done they’d be in the hospital for weeks and in rehab for months.

She’s walking, a little. She’s still trying to figure out how to place that remaining back leg so that it supports her rear end. The bad leg stuck out to the side a little, and she used it like a crutch. Now she’s crutch-less and needs a few days’ experience before she learns to walk on 3 legs.

However, she LOVES people, especially men. And she has pooped (in her crate in my truck, after barking at me “hey lady, I need to take a dump!”) so the plumbing probably still works.

I’ve dribbled about 10 pieces of dog kibble in her ex-pen and, after an hour, she’s decided to stretch forward and have a little snack. Typical aussie, she doesn’t care whether she eats the Nutro Senior or the Taste-of-the-Wild smoked salmon, so long as it’s food and it’s there.

I always say, “if my dogs turn their noses up at food they’re either dying, or they’re already dead and have just shown up for a meal out of habit.” Not very funny but I’m a bit irreverant, frankly.

Helping Mercy recover from surgery is the secondary task, frankly.  Whenever I get out of sight, Mercy howls and fusses, so the much bigger task is probably going to be dealing with separation anxiety.

If you’re reading this blog you may already know I train in 2-minute increments, so here’s how the 2-minute trainer deals with separation anxiety.

We begin with the dog in a crate or ex-pen, some sort of comfortable confinement, and we move out of sight just a few feet away. If she fusses we do NOT return. Instead we wait for a one-to-two-second quiet period and then return with words of comfort and praise.

If, as we return to her, she fusses and whines, we move back to our hiding place. Rule One is simple — we move toward her with words of praise and encouragement IF she is quiet and settled. Rule Two follows along the same lines — we never move towards her with words of encouragement IF she is fussing, pacing, clawing, howling, etc.

It may take a few days to help her understand that howling and fussing earns her alone-time, quiet and settled earn her words of encouragement and human companionship.

Whether I  foster her for some nice family, foster her for my sister and brother-in-law, or adopt and keep her, this training will be invaluable. There’s just no place in my life for a dog who constantly nags me from inside a crate. That’s just annoying, frankly.

Readers — wish me luck!  Now I just have to figure out how to squeeze all the necessary dog-care moments into a day filled with swimming at the YMCA, preparing for camp, teaching Sunday workshops, getting campers into cottages, teaching lunch-break workshops, fixing campers’ dinner, helping with private lessons, etc.  Wheeeeeee !!! 

I’m perpetually grateful that, after my divorce, I met Bud Houston.  He’s my beloved husband but he’s also the provider of an opportunity to train dogs for a living. If I were working at my 9-to-5 I wouldn’t be available for such projects.

preparing for first camp

April 22, 2009

Our first camp for 2009 starts in just a few days!

My mother and I worked all day yesterday preparing cottages for campers. After a quiet, cold winter, the mice were convinced we’d turned both cottages over to them. We found a couple of stashes of nuts. The most interesting hiding places, from my point of view, were in the shower stalls.

These cottages are 200-300 yards apart, yet both had stashes of nuts in the shower, at the base of the shower curtains. I guess that’s just a perfectly private place to hide nuts from a mouse’s point of view.

At first my Mom was convinced that a squirrel had brought the nuts in. However, squirrels in the cottage wreak havoc so we gradually became convinced that mice were hauling these nuts into the house.

I keep traps around full time but every spring I have to go the extra mile to really push the critters OUT of our buildings. What each cottage may need is a cat. <g>

Today I’m going to work in the training building, setting up a better method for displaying our lending library of books and audio tapes/cds. I’m sure I’ll be sweeping up some cobwebs and mouse houses as well.

Afterwards I’m creating a welcome packet for each camper. The packets will include:  1) a map of the property so people feel comfortable exploring without fear of getting lost,  2) some driving directions for grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.,  3) a schedule of camp events,  4) a ziplock bag of human candy,  and  5) a ziplock bag of canine treats.

On Saturday afternoon we’ll be welcoming two new students for a cottage package — a private lesson on Saturday evening, a cottage for their overnight stay, and working slots in the Sunday advanced workshop. These two ladies will each get a welcome packet.

Next week we have four ladies staying in cottages and guestrooms and two ladies staying in their RV.  By mid-May I’ll probably have lots of feedback on the welcome packets AND the lunch-break workshops.

The lunch-break workshops seem to be quite popular, with nearly every camper polled giving their preferences but saying they’ll probably attend whatever workshops the group picks.  Interesting …

the amazing series of tubes called internet

April 17, 2009

Yesterday the world discovered a woman named Susan Boyle with the most incredible voice. She was participating in Britain’s Got Talent (the UK version of American Idol — Simon C. owns both I believe).

My friend Vicki called about 2:00 p.m. to tell me to check out the video — when I checked it had half-a-million hits already.  I walked outside to say hello to my Mom, who was on her way to dinner in Zanesville, came back into the house 10 minutes later to look at the video again and it was up to TWO million hits in 10 minutes.

Okay.  She’s got an amazing voice. But the really amazing thing to me, in my mid-50s, is this series of tubes called the internet. Here’s a woman from Scotland who, in 47 years has never been discovered and, in 24 hours TWO MILLION people have clicked on her video. By evening the number was NINETEEN million.

Here’s another situation … a month ago I wrote a blog about Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the idea of this family getting TWO german shepherd puppies. My little blog went from a daily readership of 20-40 people to nearly 400 — all hits stemming from searches for “Gosselin” or “Gosselin German Shepherds.”

Yet another situation … the American Kennel Club (a purebred dog registry, something that seems to get lost occasionally) has decided to allow mixed breed dogs to participate in companion-dog sports.  Dog agility, obedience, and rally will all open up to mixes in about 12 months.

AKC statistics show that 100,000 entries in agility trials went un-filled last year. They want to register mixes and fill those entries. Since my goal is to showcase the talents and skills of rescues and shelter dogs, this meshes nicely with my life plan.

I get to go to AKC trials and chat with spectators about the skills of mixed breed dogs, the capacity of a $75 shelter mutt to earn titles comparable to those of a $1000 purebred dog.

On the internet lists, however, arguments have continued for 2 days. My mailbox has received nearly 100 e-mails (mostly from the same 20 vocal people) with opinions pro and con AKC’s decision. Fifteen years ago I’d have heard this through the grapevine, weeks or months after the decision was made.

So I’m just saying …. this is an amazing series of tubes. Our generation has seen incredible changes in technology, and in skills needed to thrive in this world, and we sometimes feel overwhelmed at the tsunami of technology hitting us every day.

Is it any wonder than people walk around with their eyes on their cell phone / blackberry?  They can get every bit of information they need off the darned thing. “What time is it?” Check your cell phone.  “Where’s the nearest library?” Check your blackberry. “What’s the quickest route to Chicago?” Check your garmin, magellan, or blackberry.

No wonder no one reads anymore and newspapers are in trouble. Speaking of which — I’ve written to our local newspaper three times regarding a free column I’d provide on 2-minute-dog-training-tips. I’ve not been rebuffed so much as I’ve been ignored. They don’t even check their e-mail, probably.

In other news — our shelter’s executive director has set 5-6 weekend dates in the next 7 weeks when he needs volunteers to take dogs to mini-adoptathon events. I’ve notified volunteers and received 2 affirmatives for 2 different dates, but that won’t cover it. I’ve received a call from the organizer of one event asking if we’ll have volunteers.

The shelter will probably end up having to haul dogs and man the booth with employees or board members — our volunteers are enjoying spring weather and checking their blackberries for new on-line videos. And here I sit — blogging. <g>

The problem with zootoo (2 of 2 posts today)

April 14, 2009

There’s an interesting (and depressing, frankly) bunch of articles on the internet regarding the fact that the winner of Zootoo’s “Million Dollar Makeover” didn’t really receive any such thing.

Unbeknownst to the winners, most of their winnings were expected to be made up of discounted work by contractors, free dog food from advertisers, and donated materials. According to one story the 2009 potential winners know not to expect a big check from Zootoo.

Our own little shelter management came in second place last year. Several members of the staff were on the stage when Zootoo promised them “free food forever.”  They received a few coupons and donations of food from a manufacturer and supporter of Zootoo, but it has run out and no more is coming.

Additionally, the major of Marietta promised on camera that a new sign would direct folks from a major thoroughfare to the Humane Society … the new sign hasn’t materialized either.

I read an article some time ago about outrage. The author was asking “where’s the public outrage?”  His question had to do with the bleak economic news, but it applies to everyday disappointments as well. Where’s our outrage? Are we so accustomed to empty promises that we expect to hear them and receive nothing once the cameras are turned off?

I think scamming humane societies and having dog lovers all over the country visiting a website, creating profiles, inviting guests, writing reviews — all to earn points for a million-dollar-makeover for their shelter — is like running a scam on orphanages.

Why pick on shelters, most of whom operate on a shoestring and count on the financial support and goodwill of animal lovers in the area? Why not run a scam on yacht owners?  How about a scam targetting Hummer owners?

Shameful. I’m outraged and irritated. I understand there has been a settlement between Zootoo and the 2008 winner, with some money being awarded (click here for a zootoo journal entry addressing this:

I suppose one should really look a gift horse in the mouth on occasion. <g>

laws of a dog in motion for rally (1 of 2 posts today)

April 14, 2009

DogSport magazine’s May 1 issue will include an article I wrote about using the natural laws of a dog in motion (patterned after Bud’s laws of a dog in motion for agility) to achieve a rally performance.

This article will feature the cutest pictures of little Nora working Dash and Blue. These pictures were taken by Nora’s mother Lori. The point of using 2 dogs in the pictures was to demonstrate that a mature, trained, titled dog (“Dash”) had an immediate response to handler movement even when he was not conditioned to work for that handler — and that an immature, partially-trained, untitled dog (“Blue”) had the identical immediate response to handler movement.

What I found, in looking at the pictures, was that Blue (with less hair and a nice long tail) provided a better example of the dog’s response. Lori was able to get pictures of that split second when Blue reacted to Nora’s movement.

I’m proud of the article, but the pictures are fascinating to me — really stunning.  And, in addition to seeing Nora and Dash and Blue, you’ll all get to see pictures of the front of our house, complete with the antique washing mashine we use as a refreshment holder during camps.

Speaking of camps, our first camp starts in about 2 weeks!  We have a very busy 5-6 weeks beginning late April, with 3 public camps and 2 private camps, in addition to our twice-monthly Sunday workshops.

We’ve also added the lunch-break workshops so I’m going to be revising my daily schedule to accommodate swimming and water aerobics in the morning (my knee is healing so quickly, and I’m getting stronger every week), lunch-break workshops, and improving on the evening meal plan for camps.

Two weeks ago I rearranged the camper dining area to put dining tables closer together. Now both tables are in the front of the room and it will be very easy to push tables together when necessary. My desk looks out the north window now so, instead of staring at the driveway, I get to watch the little spring birds flirting with each other on the deck railing. They have nests in the evergreens and pairs of them will hop across the railing together.

I’ve also brought one of our comfy sofas into my office area. Now campers who arrive early for dinner (or local folks with nothing to do between camp and dinner) can come sit on the sofa, have a beer, watch the news or chat with me while I cook, and just enjoy the country view.

We’ve been clearing the deck of all the detritus of winter. Bud made platforms for the bird nests and today a bird has begun the construction process on one of the new platforms. Luckily for these birds we have hairy aussies and shelties — this new nest is about 20% dog hair, complete with mats.

This has been a scrambling-and-waiting day — Bud’s Suburban was paid off 2-3 months ago so (you guessed it) today it’s getting new rear brakes, new front brakes, a new bearing in the front, and two new tires. By the time the repairmen are finished it may need all new cup holders as well but I’ll put my foot down on that — Bud only uses 1-2 of them at a time.

Tick season seems to have arrived in Ohio. I’ve picked two ticks off dogs. Yesterday was heartworm preventative and frontline day. When I give these meds to 9 dogs I always think of the potential adopters at the shelter asking, “how much are these dogs?”  The price of the dog is just the beginning.  Luckily I use coupons but it’s incredibly expensive to go to the vet’s office for a years’ worth of heartworm preventative and frontline for 9 dogs.

And our dogs have access to deer poop and rabbit poop here as well, so I have to be prepared for regular worm medicine on occasion as well. Tape worms seem to be the most common … some of my readers may have advice for me ….

HSOV board meeting

April 8, 2009

My treatise was happily unneeded. Our new Executive Director, Steve, has taken the bull by the horns and is making huge efforts to ensure our dogs are getting spayed and neutered.

1) He’s calling everyone who has adopted a pet this year and is asking when or if they got the surgery done. If they have not spayed or neutered their pet he’s giving them 2 weeks to get it done before we reclaim the animal. Don’t know if they’d actually reclaim animals, but the threat is enough.

2) He’s rotating through area veterinarians to keep them from arguing, and every pet that gets adopted over 5-6 months of age leaves the shelter for the vet’s office, gets the surgery, gets returned to the shelter and is picked up by the adopter after their surgery.

3) Any pets under 5-6 months of age being adopted leave with a surgical appointment and a deadline. He calls the owner and calls the vet to make sure the appointment was kept and the surgery done.

4) He has redesigned all the forms used by the front desk to give them all “teeth.”  The adoption form asks more piercing questions regarding the adopters’ former pets and the care they intend to provide. The surrender form lets folks know what leaving a dog at our shelter means.

5) He has clarified the fee structure and is reinstating the fee to reclaim a lost dog. This fee wasn’t being collected, losing the shelter $1,000+ in revenue over the last few months.

6) I’ve asked, as a shelter matchmaker, that all this information be posted at the shelter so we can walk people through the fee shedule while they’re deciding to adopt. Steve has agreed that this will be done.

All in all, way better than it was. And the stats are improving. Only 13 dogs were euthanized last month, and none of them were euthanized for lack of space. There were some very sick dogs PTS, and some aggressive dogs PTS.

One of the board members commented that “we’re very close to being a no-kill shelter and we’d qualify for more funding if we were no-kill.”  I’m going to do some research, but I think “no-kill” involves more behavior modification and veterinary care, not just that you don’t euthanize because of space restrictions.

Congratulations to the HSOV board of directors — and especially our new Executive Director — for hard work and good decisions.

In other news … I’ve extended an olive branch to our local AKC Obedience Club. After 2 years living 20 minutes apart I’m offering to teach a rally obedience class in exchange for a working slot in their top-level agility class for Bud and Hazard and Blue (who need to get on other people’s equipment). Their board of directors are doing some checking and will get back to me.

In other news … I’ve absolutely GOT to get onto the nastiest job I’ve been asked to do in the last 10 years. I’ve got a 6″ stack of volunteer forms, most of which were entered into an excel program by the previous volunteer coordinator. I want to put them into FileMaker Pro and create single call sheets for specific volunteer tasks.

This shelter wastes paper like nothing I’ve ever seen before. No forms are ever 2-sided. All forms are a minimum of 2 pages — large type — double spaced. These volunteer  forms are 2-4 pages long, asking for drivers’ licences and criminal histories, etc.  The logistics of entering information from them is troublesome. I can’t just stack them and work through them. I have to interpret all this mumbo-jumbo, only to discover I’ve just entered a bunch of information on a 7-year-old kid who probably will not be back.

But nowhere on the form is the question “are you really interested in training and becoming an asset to our shelter or are you just yanking our chain?” Or, “do you ever read and answer your e-mail from the address you just listed above?”  LOL

Like I said, nasty task, and one I need to get to soon.

dog-training equipment

April 5, 2009

We had our first workshop in McConnelsville, Ohio (Morgan County), in preparation for Anne Deliman’s Canine Follies later this month.

Six dogs were brought to this training session with at least two handlers saying they weren’t doing the follies performance, they just wanted some training.

It was a rather long drive and long training event (1 hour on the road, 3 hours training) for not much money, but I’m interested in getting folks from our neighboring counties to look at dog training as a social event for themselves and their dogs.

I think everyone learned a little bit about positive reinforcement training, about clicker training, about synchronized movement (drill team) training, and about how to build a trick from a natural or shaped behavior.

Let me say one thing about dog-training equipment. Local stores sell the most painful assortment of leashes I’ve ever seen. Not painful to the dog — painful to the handlers!

Every time I see one of those stupid chain leashes I immediately trade the student for one that doesn’t tear up their hands. In my opinion there’s only one good use for those darned things — to put it together with your real leash if your dog likes to chew on the leash. Sometimes a chain wrapped around a leash will discourage chewing just because it’s distasteful to the dog. Otherwise, I’d like to dig a hole big enough for all of them and dump ’em in.

There there are the colorful little 1/2-inch fiber leashes. They come in a multitude of colors, so kids love to buy them. They look pretty, and clean up nicely, but — if you’ve ever had a dog pull one of them through your fingers — you know they’re dangerous.

The edge of these leashes is as sharp as a piece of paper. Invariably the 1/2-inch version is on a 45-50-pound dog. One good yank and you’ve got a cut on your finger. Because they’re 6-feet long people will wrap the leash half a dozen times around their hand, adding to the danger and possible injury.

So the first discussion I had with the trainers in McConnelsville was this — the leash should be designed to be safe on the dog and comfortable in your hand. Then I traded them their decorative leashes and chain leashes for nice 3/4″ slip leads.

And I had the usual child student arrive with her dog on a choke chain, so we switched her chain lead to the dead ring before starting our discussion of leashes. The choke chain is like a book bag. It’s only worn when you’re going to train and study. You don’t eat or sleep with it on. You don’t have it on while relaxing in the evening in front of the television set.

Choke chains scare the crap out of me ever since I went to a SAR training event 15 years ago and witnessed a woman walking back to the training area from her car carrying her dead puppy. The puppy was wearing his very first choke chain and had fallen asleep in her arms, so she’d returned him to her car and come back to the training area. He woke up, climbed over the back of the front seat, snagged his choke chain in the head rest and hung himself. She was devastated.

We allow choke chains from first-timers here, folks who aren’t aware of the dangers, but they work with the leash hooked on the dead ring OR they remove it in favor of another collar. They rarely show up the second week with a choke collar on.

Of course, we always have one or two beginners who arrive with anti-jump harnesses, pinch (also called prong) collars, or any number of other devices some marketing genious decided would curb the dog-like behavior of dogs without any effort on behalf of the trainer.

Sort of like those diet pills which — taken twice daily! — make weight loss possible without having to change the way you eat or live.  Except in the small print it explains that typical weight loss, with no change of lifestyle or diet, consists of about 3 pounds. “I lost 114 pounds on ___-edrine without dieting or exercising!”  In small letters, “not typical weight loss.” And they show a 20-year-old girl with 6-pack abs — all from 2 pills a day. WHAT a miracle drug.

With dogs there’s no miracle equipment that can change your relationship with your dog for the better. There are plenty that can change your relationship for the WORSE. But dog training is, in essense, establishing a working relationship whereby both you and your dog benefit from the training. You and your dog develop trust in each other.

No dog-training equipment can do that for you.

3 bits of good news

April 3, 2009

1) After several weeks of building up to swimming 51 laps (102 lengths) at the Marietta YMCA, and thinking that a mile was 44-45 laps, I discovered that a mile is actually 35 laps. So I’ve been swimming 1.5 miles in 75 minutes, on 3 occasions this week. According to YMCA stats, this pace means I’m burning about 1,000 calories each time. No wonder I’m coming home hungry!

2) A young woman visited the shelter last week with a friend. She was interested in volunteering, working with dogs and cats, and spending time helping. I gave her each of my shelter “2 minute dog trainer” brochures. While this young woman was in the dog room her friend told me the young woman is bipolar and suffers from anger and frustration issues. Today I watched this same girl working very nicely with animals. She told me she’d been at the shelter five times this week to work with the animals. She also said she’d read all my brochures and, in just 4 days, had taught her own dog to sit, lie down, shake hands, and walk on lead. “Now I’m going to start training my Mom’s dog!”

3) The HSOV shelter has reinstated their mandatory spay/neuter policy! The new board president, the new executive director, and the new shelter manager are all on board. Every dog or cat over 5-6 months gets spayed or neutered, then returned to the shelter for pick-up. This removes the opportunity for the veterinarian to influence the adopter to hold off on the surgery. Any pet under 5 months being adopted prompts a phone call to the adopter’s vet to set up an appointment for spay/neuter. These surgeries are being verified by phone call. I believe they’re also still doing the spay/neuter certificate with a discount, though I shared that the consensus is that our $20 certificates need to be bumped up to $100+ in order to have some “teeth.”

Tomorrow I’m driving to McConnellsville (about 30 minutes northwest of here) to do a trick-training workshop in preparation for the Canine Follies planned by Anne Deliman, a former student of ours and a groomer in Morgan County.

She’s been frustrated at the lack of interest in this event. She’s excited about the Morgan County Opera House’s hosting of Canine Follies in 3 weeks (late April). And she thought folks would be thrilled to be offered training workshops. Yeah, well, I guess it’s a tough economy for follies.

another 2-minute training concept

April 2, 2009

It occurred to me last evening that I use a great deal of 2-minute training other than mealtime training for specific dog-sport behaviors.

From oldest to youngest:

   Banner — age 13 — we do “see me – catch me” games for about a minute a day. I don’t want her to get lazy about trying to see things so we play the game where I entice her to follow me, then have her chase me around the sofa and recliners (at a dead walk), then she gets to catch me and celebrate.

   Bogie and Birdie — age 13 — I’ve started using hand and arm signals for both of these boys. There’s some blindness and a great deal of deafness going on with all our old dogs, and neither of these two require much training. They’re perfect just as they are. Birdie, by the way, has perked up considerably since I put all the oldsters on a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement, plus started soaking his kibble for a few hours before his meals.

   Wizard and Ringer — age 11 — for two wild yard dogs these guys actually have really nice recalls. Several times a week we go on family walks, down to the training building and around in the dog-fenced, 2-acre, run. Ringer is the only dog who can’t cross the driveway without taking off, so he has to walk on a leash. I’m teaching him how to put his leash on nicely. Ringer’s preferred method of getting leashed is to run full force at the person holding the leash and bounce his front feet off their gut. (He’s a puppy-mill rescue with no manners – we call him “Mr. Inappropriate.” <g>) I hold the leash loop in front of me. If he approaches nicely it slips over his head. If he runs straight at me I roll to the side. He’s actually picking it up rather quickly.

    Dash — age 9 — always has to lie down for his meals. Dash has no natural confidence. All he has came from me and food. So he’s my spoiled brat. A terrific obedience and agility dog, Dash has to show a touch of self-control before getting any rewards. Last evening we tried to practice his stupid-pet-trick (Dash shops and prioritizes a pile of objects and retrieves them in the same order every time) and it would seem the trick has vanished. He now picks up the first thing that appears before him, and retrieves the entire pile in no particular order. Oh well, there’s a reason I called it a stupid pet trick. <g>

    Red — age 5 — an interesting dog, clinically insane, perhaps. She always has to lie down and stay at the back of the pack for her meals. Red will nudge and nip at any dog that comes around her when food is involved. We keep trying different foods and supplements but I fear she’s going to be my go-along dog, for a few more years anyway.

    Hazard — age 5 — Bud’s tiny sheltie has to be quiet for one minute before I’ll set her food bowl down. She’s a lovely agility dog though none of us get out often enough to accumulate many titles. She got her TACH without Bud being aware of it. We’re going to to be working with her on the teacup equipment, building speed and distance.

    Blue — age 2 — a rescue from the Marietta shelter (HSOV), Blue seems to have issues with start-line timers. I’ve talked with a number of people in the dog agility world and we’ve concluded that Blue’s issue is not with the sound of “GO!” coming out of the speaker. Her issue is with the little bleeps and bloops that happen as the system records the end of the prior dog’s run and resets itself. These sounds are so close the the sounds made by an underground fence shock collar, warning the dog that it’s getting close to the line. Blue’s reaction, when she hears the dog ahead of her clear the last jump and the system reset, is to look for a way out of the ring. I’d like to dig a hole big enough to bury all those darned shock collars forever.

In my basic obedience lessons I stress that every interaction with our dog is training, so the day is full of 2-minute training steps.