Posts Tagged ‘feeding dogs’

Marsha Houston’s 2-Minute Dog Trainer blog

September 4, 2013

I apologize for going silent the last few weeks and months. Business got in the way of blogging.  My purpose for this blog is to join the agility blogging community and speak to the topic of “aging” …..

First – I’m so excited at the maturity I’m seeing in my youngster (Phoenix NAJ) who turns two years old this December.  Running him has progressed from nerve-wracking and frustrating to magical in one weekend spent training with friends and Bud Houston.  Phoenix’s 2-minute dog training was always steady, but any activity in a group setting met with high stimulation and distraction.  I persevered.  He grew up!

Second – puppy Katniss (at 10-11-months) has been registered as an All American with AKC and is being prepared for a February-March 2014 debut.  I know there’s disagreement amongst agility people as to when we should start competing with our puppies, but I prefer to get them in the ring as soon as possible, let them have a fantastic time, find the holes in my training, and give them some ring experience.  In the meantime, I used my new favorite weavepole training equipment, and Katniss learned how to hit entries and weave 6 poles in three 10-minute sessions.  She doesn’t understand weaves yet, but she will very soon. I’m working at sending-for-independent-performance as well as running-at-side-with-great-excitement.  I want her to be familiar with both situations.

Third – rescue Haymitch (at age 2-3 years) has been getting very little work. He needs another TDAA Intermediate Standard leg to be in Superior Standard and Games 3 for the TDAA Petit Prix and he’ll get it someday.  He joined weekly classes last evening and daily training sessions for Haymitch will begin this week. I hope he’ll do well in October.  I reserve all his training for Teacup (TDAA) agility, and don’t put him on big a-frames and teeters very often.

Fourth – I’m writing a BOOK on the 2-minute dog trainer protocols.  Bud’s going to be my editor. Angie Houston has agreed to be my illustrator. I want this to be a book people read and enjoy re-reading, sharing with their friends, and giving as gifts.  I find dog training to be hugely amusing and humorous, and I want to share my strange sense of fun with others.

Okay – now for my take on “aging” in the world of dog agility …

I don’t want to automatically sound like an old fart but those darned whipper-snapper kids don’t respect us old farts!

Sure, they can out run us. Sure, they have the time and money for classes, workshops, seminars. Sure, they can wake up at 5am on a Saturday and still be energetic for their last event at 5pm.

But can they drink 2 margaritas and still provide experienced, detailed analysis of a student’s novice jumpers run?  Can they?  I think NOT!”

I’m just kidding, of course.  Codgers kid a lot.

I believe that clever agility enthusiasts should seek knowledge from coaches of all ages.  From young coaches with tons of energy, who are developing new protocols for agility dog training, to crusty old coaches who have developed all the training protocols in existence up to this point.

If agility training is a journey I’d suggest youngsters make a point of walking in the footprints of handlers with a few years’ instructing under their belts (or suspenders, knee braces, support stockings). We’ve seen the reactions of hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs to specific handling moves.

After all is said and done it is the reaction of the dog that determines whether the handling skill is a success or failure.  Certain types of dogs will often share a common reaction.  And a crusty old coach will usually be aware of that.

Here’s to the crusty old coaches in the dog training world!

I’ve trained my dogs once today and will have another “contacts” session with supper, as well as a group beginner class for Katniss, so now I can totter off to my favorite recliner and margarita.

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Marsha Houston’s 2-minute dog trainer blog

June 11, 2013

I’ve been committed to the 2-Minute Dog Training principles since 1999.

I’m convinced that a short, exciting, engaged, and motivated training session every day strengthens the bond between dog and handler.

And I’m equally convinced that these short training sessions condition my dog to perform specific skills and respond to my cues more consistently.

When a handler asks my advice (I’ve learned to never volunteer advice — who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! — this gets dog training instructors in trouble all the time <g>) my first question is always, “what is your daily training regimen?”

Here are the most recent reasons I train every day with the 2-Minute Dog Trainer !!!

Facebook post from recognized dog trainer, “I’ve trained my dog everyday for 23 days!” And that’s a huge event, because her training sessions probably last 30 minutes or so, and take 30-45 minutes out of her day.

Question from teacup exhibitor, “How do I get my dog to perform at trials?”  My response, “what is your daily training protocol — what training do you do at home?”  Her response, “I don’t train at home. I only train during agility class.”

Question from local student during discussion of distance training, “How do I teach my dog to work at a distance?” My response was, “You reward her for the work and gradually move further from the obstacle you’re training on. How big is your yard? What equipment do you have set-up in your yard?”  Her response, “My yard is only about 20 feet across and I don’t have any agility equipment in my yard.”  Shocked, I responded, “So what’s your daily training look like?”  “I don’t train daily,” she said.

Okay folks — if you want your dog to perform consistently at agility or obedience trials, if you want your physical and verbal cues to override environmental distractions and trial stress, if you want to feel successful and feel positive about your dog — you must train your dog.

It is absolutely NOT enough to just attend a weekly class if you intend to show your dog.  Perhaps I’m speaking as an instructor, but arriving at class every week with the same darned skills you left with last week is unacceptable.

It is absolutely NOT enough to train in one building, doing just agility class sequencing or following the lesson plan presented by your instructor.  Expecting your dog to generalize performance when you only train in one building, one night a week, surrounded by the same dogs and people, is unacceptable.

Training your dog is supposed to be fun!  One of the reasons I enter in dog agility trials is to motivate myself to continue improving.  I can’t qualify if I don’t continue to improve.  I can’t improve if I don’t continue to train. My dog can’t train if I don’t continue to devote time to him.

If I can’t devote 2-5 minutes a day to practice weave entries, or start-line stays, or sending my dog to a jump, or hitting contacts — then do I really believe I’ll succeed at a trial?

So here’s the thing.  If you want the trill of victory you must do some work. I’m not suggesting you drill your dog 30-60 minutes a day.  I’m suggesting you add mealtime training to your daily schedule — spend a couple of minutes twice a day with your dog.
The thrill of victory will become a possibility, and those victories will be all the sweeter for the investment you’ve made in time training your dog!

2-minute dog trainer – kickin’ into high gear

June 8, 2012

Bud and I have always had multiple dogs. As many as 10 at one time.

As our seniors began passing our pack diminished to three dogs. Then we added Tempest for four, but I had lots of time for training and we were able to travel with the entire pack.

Then we lost Tempest and were back to three dogs, with a gaping hole where Mr.T had been.

Phoenix arrived and bumped us back up to four dogs, and I threw myself into training him and preparing him for travel and trialing.

Last week Margaret Hendershot came through on a request from a year ago. She’s involved with Multiple Breed Rescue here in Ohio and I’d asked her to keep an eye pealed for my next teacup dog.

So wee Haymitch arrived 9 days ago and fit right into the pack. My goals for him aren’t as specific, and he’s a quick study, so I started some training and will be taking it nice and slow. He’s over a year old, seems to be housetrained, is learning his new name and is clingy, so he’s not much of a chore.

But Haymitch bumped us to five dogs, so we now need to return to the days of arranging for a dog-sitter when we travel. I wasn’t too worried though, as Phoenix isn’t old enough for trialing for a year, and Haymitch isn’t going anywhere soon.

However, yesterday, with a flurry of black puppy fuzz, our world exploded around Django, Bud’s new BC puppy.

Django was an unexpected surprise. We weren’t shopping or even looking. And, if we were, he probably wouldn’t have been our choice.

Okay, so here are his positives. He likes food and toys. He gets along great with the other dogs. He grins (which I ADORE). He’s fearless, humble, and lovable.

Here are his negatives. He’s huge. And he’s going to get bigger than any other dog in our pack. His feet, at 12 weeks of age, are bigger than Kory’s, Phoenix’s, or Dash’s feet. They’re all 40-45 pounds. Django is going to be an enormous border collie.  And he’s long-haired. I was just getting to the point where my old canister sweeper was able to keep the balls of hair at bay.

Some folks love all things puppy. I’m more a fan of the adolescent dog. So Django has no power over me.

Did I tell you he grins?? ….. [sigh, as my heart melts]

Now our training has to kick into high gear. We have two dogs who don’t know how to eat with the group. They leave their own bowl to visit others. Just that fact makes for a hectic mealtime.

Mealtime training, for me, may mean that my young dogs eat at separate times.

2-minute dog trainer – Phoenix’s training week2

March 16, 2012

Phoenix has been with us for 3 weeks.

His breakfast training has focused on minimizing his resource-guarding tendencies. There’s always a hand in his bowl and sometimes the hand takes the bowl away.

He has discontinued the practice of growling when the hand comes in, choosing to wag his tail instead. Just a couple of days ago I set his bowl down, stepped away from it, then stepped back in. He looked up, wagged his tail, and backed away from his bowl. That really pleased me.

On the other hand, when the other dogs approach his bowl they still get a little growl, and they’re very accepting of it. Dogs see this as a natural behavior for a hungry puppy, I guess. (If anyone out there can tell me they definitively know what dogs are thinking please let me know.)

Phoenix’s breakfast training takes place at the dog-feeding station in the basement. In addition to working on resource guarding he’s being trained to assume a 2-on-2-off position on the contact trainer.

When we first started we went to the wider, steeper a-frame end. He was drawn into position and fed from hand.

Now, after just one week on this training, Phoenix heads to his contact trainer the second I pick up his food bowl.

He runs to the trainer and assumes his 2020 position on either the a-frame end or the skinnier dog-walk end. We’re surprised at his ability to control his back legs. For an 11-week-old pup he seems very aware of his rear end.

He’ll often hit the position a couple of times while I’m walking behind him. Occasionally he’ll be standing, watching me, and move just his rear feet into position. I find that very surprising.

Phoenix’s lunchtime training takes place in my office, in the training building, in the vet’s office, or on the road.

For example, yesterday Phoenix’s vet appointment was scheduled for 11:30am. I put his lunch and my clicker in my purse. He was rewarded for:

1) getting into his crate (x 2)
2) walking into the examination room (x 1)
3) being on the exam table, first lying down, then rolling onto one hip (relaxing), then sitting, then standing, then lying down and relaxing, etc.
4) getting back into his crate (x 1)
5) getting back into his crate after a quick walk around the nursery where I was shopping for a tree to honor Tempest (looking for an Austrian Pine) — got to finish his lunch in his crate.

Sometimes we do hand-targeting for click/food. Sometimes we walk to the training building, getting clicked/fed for loose-leash walking.

Phoenix’s dinnertime training involves more resource-guarding training, and more contact training. His little body mustn’t be stressed, so we don’t do any work with jumps, or fetching, or anything that might overwork him.

Sometimes late in the evening Phoenix gets a little snack of kibble, especially if he’s played with Kory for a couple of hours after dinner. He gets a little hungry, and will come tell me — sitting, staring at my face, jumping on my legs.

Feeding him a little snack before bedtime means I can hold off on breakfast for an hour or so after waking.

Next week I’m going to bring some hoops into the yard and get started with sending him through the hoop.

2-minute dog trainer – agility sequencing begins

October 8, 2010

Now that Tempest is nearly 7 months old, has recovered from his neuter surgery, and has nearly reached his full size, I’ve begun agility sequencing using the obstacles he knows pretty well — tunnels, contacts, and jumps.

Jumps are not too familiar to him as we just started some very low jump training about a month ago.

Breakfast training still focuses on heeling, though I had an epiphany yesterday morning. I had this clear realization that I don’t have the time or money to show in two sports.

So I’m focusing on agility from this point on. Obedience heeling will be an elegant way to approach the start line, and all the basic stuff will still be reinforced (loose-leash walking, coming when called, sitting for attention, settle in the house, grooming, etc.).

My new job has me away from home 3-to-5 days a week. I leave home by 10:00 a.m. and don’t get back until 8:00 p.m. I miss all of Bud’s training time, all our private lessons, all our group classes.

I have managed to ask for time off on all the Sundays we have workshops but often find myself too tired to enjoy them. That’s going to change as I become more comfortable with the demands of my job.

In the meantime, with Bud at the TDAA Petit Prix in Washington state (with Hazard), and beautiful fall weather outside, Tempest and I have added 2-a-days to our breakfast and dinner routine.

Breakfast and dinner — with his meal in a remote location Tempest heels to a position on the floor adjacent to his contact trainer. I cue “left” or “right” and “walk-it!” and he turns away from me, climbs his contact trainer and gets part of his breakfast for a 2-on-2-off position. We repeat this once or twice for a total of 2-3 performances per meal. 

Next week I’m going to bring a jump into the basement feeding area and do at least one meal a day for ’round-the-clock jump training.  Jump is the middle of the face of the clock, handler moves with dog around the edge of the clock, dog-on-right, dog-on-left, sending to the jump from 6″, from 12″, from 18″, from 24″, from 36″, etc.

During our training in the agility building we’re working on sequencing and start-line stays.

In exchange for allowing me to lead out, walk around equipment, and return, Tempest gets games of tug and — on occasion — gets to do agility equipment.

For this week’s private lessons and class I had a layout in the building conducive to training a puppy.  Low a-frame, lots of low jumps and tunnels, nothing too difficult.

So Tempest and I worked on a simple sequence.  Jump-tunnel-jump-tunnel. (Sorry, I don’t have CRCD so can’t draw it for you — set 3 jumps in a straight line — take c-shaped tunnels and put them off to the side, facing in towards the dog’s path on the line of jumps.)

Sequencing on this layout provides the puppy with some interesting training opportunities:  1) jumps may be set up as a slice, to show that a “jump is a jump is a jump, whether facing you or set at an angle,”   2) tunnels won’t always be straight in line with your start-line position,  3) when you come out of a tunnel look to me for instructions,  4) the sequence may not end at a tunnel,  5) there’s tugging to be had if you do everything I ask!

He was a motivated student (working for his tug toy).  I felt relaxed and un-stressed (it was my day off).

We had a blast.  I hope to be able to fit more of this training into my daily routine, even on days I have to work.

I can either take him to the building between breakfast and heading out to work (between 9-10 a.m.) or take him to the building after work (8:30 p.m.).  Morning would probably work out better for me, as I’m more likely to have the energy then.

But, on the other hand, when Bud’s here I sometimes go swimming before work (still working on getting rid of the last 10-20 pounds slowing me down).  AND, Tempest might have a more relaxing evening if he gets a little work after dark. 

AND, Tempest would probably be more comfortable working several hours after his supper instead of several minutes after his breakfast — probably healthier to allow his meals to settle.

I’ll work sequencing into his schedule through the winter, though.

My goal is to get him into the agility workshops for mini-sequences (if the class is doing 9 obstacles Tempest and I will do 4 of those, for example) through the fall, build to bigger sequences through the winter, and be ready for advanced sequencing by his first birthday in March 2011.

In the meantime, his behavior in the house is pretty good considering his age.  He loves to chew on OAK, so he’s damaged some of my nice furniture when Daddy allowed him free run of the house and I’m away. 

Sight of chewed oak furniture was shocking enough that no further warnings were necessary about the need to crate the puppy when he can’t be watched closely.

In the meantime, I’m off to work today and the next 2 days (beatings will continue until morale improves <g>) — all the while Bud and Hazard are whooping it up at the TDAA Petit Prix in Auburn, WA.

Good luck at the Petit Prix to my sweeties !!!!

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest learns directionals

September 2, 2010

With my new job keeping me away from home at dinnertime, Bud has assumed the role of Tempest’s 2-minute trainer for one meal a day.

I’m still feeding breakfast every day, and Tempest is learning how to find heel position from a multitude of positions.

He seems to like my hands hanging at my side (versus left hand at my waist) and that’s going to be just fine with me. I was trained, 20 years ago, in the “old school” position, dress code, etc.

Now I’m more comfortable with a natural heel position, handler’s arms relaxed, dangling at side, dog relaxed and attentive at side.

So Tempest is learning how to find heel position without a lot of signaling from me. I’m going to teach him a lot of verbal cues, including “Heel!” for a left finish, for heeling forward, etc.

In the meantime, Bud’s teaching Tempest “Right!” with a spin to his right.

He began by luring Tempest in the turn, then began removing the lure and allowing Tempest to choose the behavior.

If Tempest makes the slightest indication to the right, Bud produces the lure/reward and helps him around.

He’s been doing this for about 10 days, and Tempest has a pretty solid spin to the right, about 50-60% reliable. Bud plans to continue along this protocol path until Tempest is 90-100% reliable on “Right!”

He’ll then begin the mirror image protocol for “Left!”

In the meantime, you can imagine the amusing options my puppy offers when he’s in front of me and I say “heel!”

First he gives me a couple of right spins, sometimes spinning straight into heel position.

2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest’s directionals

August 21, 2010

I’ve started a new job that enables Bud and I to have awesome health insurance benefits, so my puppy training is going to reflect the amount of time available to me.

Frankly, this is going to put my training more on line with most of our students (and readers of this journal), and I’m going to be focusing on how to fit little training sessions into a busier schedule.

Tempest is continuing his heeling work at mealtimes.

I put his food bowl on a table and walk away from it into the basement.  I face back toward the food bowl and get Tempest into heel position (click!).

We immediately heel forward about 2 feet (click!) and run to the food bowl.  I make this first pattern really short because Tempest will be very anxious about his food bowl, and all the other dogs eating.

After Tempest has eaten about half his food, I remove the bowl and put it back on the table.

We walk away and establish another beginning point in the basement. Tempest, knowing the remainder of his meal is on the table, gets a little “eager” (he LOVES eating <g>).

I calm him, get him back in heel position, and do a few more complex patterns.

Today, for example, we started out in heel position, facing the food on the table, and did a “Forward U-Turn from Halt” and then we heeled in a counter-clockwise square (a series of left turns) with Tempest giving me really nice eye contact and maintaining heel position.

This heeling pattern lasted about 45 seconds, and ended at the food table where Tempest offered a sit — “YAY !!” — food bowl went down and he got to finish his breakfast.

In addition to heeling, Tempest is getting schooled on his directionals by Bud.  This week’s lesson has been “Right!”

When I got home from work yesterday I said, to Tempest, “Right!” and gave him a little signal.  As he was turning to the right I sensed a great deal of movement off to my right.

It was Kory, offering right spins over and over and over. LOL  He’s such a good boy.

2-Minute Dog Trainer – puppy’s “bang it!”

August 16, 2010

When I started thinking about getting a new puppy, my wish list was pretty simple:

1) brave … “self-destructive brave” was how I phrased it in conversation … I wanted a pup who, like my last pup (Banner ’96), would go boldly where and when asked … no fear response, no lack of confidence, no questioning the sanity of the request … just brave.  Later I thought about bravery as “overcoming fear” and decided what I really wanted was a puppy who had NO FEAR.  I didn’t want a pup who had to be brave to overcome fear.  I wanted a pup who said, “what’s there to be afraid of?”  I adjusted my wish list to “unconcerned and confident.”

2) “I don’t want one of those pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string beans.”  Oh well … I’m madly in love with a pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string bean, and loving every minute of it.  Sooooo … back to the unconcerned and confident bit. <g>

It’s not that Bud and I don’t love our rescued, non-confident, fearful, or carsick dogs. We adore them.

But there’s something intoxicating about walking to the start line of agility, obedience, or rally, with a dog who has only has eyes for you, is unconcerned about people / dogs / gates / stewards / flooring / equipment / etc.

So you can imagine how pleased I am with Tempest’s teeter performance.

After Kory showed a lack of recognition for the teeter at his first show (Bud calls all contacts “walk up”) we decided it would make sense to use a separate name for the teeter.

I’ve always called it “teeter,” and all other contacts “walk,” but teeter sounds alot like “T” — and I use “T” as an attention-getting device when Tempest is working. “T” means look-at-me, check-in, pay-attention, etc.

So we settled on “Bang it!”  We’ve both been doing “bang it!” exercises with our dogs 1-2 times a day.

My equipment layout for Tempest is simple … straight line from a pause table is a wing jump and 20 feet of empty floor to the teeter.

Exercise 1:  the table exercise … criteria I’m rewarding includes  a) move in front of me to the table,  b) hop on without hesitation,  c) turn and face me,  d) lie down. When I approached this exercise the first time, with Tempest’s toy, he didn’t get the idea of behaving in such a specific way for the pleasure of tugging with his toy. So I put away the toy and brought out his string cheese and clicker — he got the behavior I wanted in just a few minutes. Now that he understands (as much as a 5-mo-old pup CAN understand) my criteria, I’ve brought out the toy again and reward for quick downs with excitement and release to the toy.

Exercise 2:  the stay exercise … criteria I’m rewarding include,  a) lying down or sitting for a stay,  b) staying in a nice-tucked posture — no slouchy sits, no floppy downs,  c) an implied stay, that is, if I say sit or down I expect you to maintain that position until I give you more information.  He’s had a couple of training sessions on stay, learning to let me walk away, walk around him, or stand beside him — in a sit or down.

Exercise 3:  the lead out … criteria I’m rewarding include the stay criteria above, plus  a) recognition of my release word,  b) excited and vigorous dismount of the table,  and c) coming to me across the jump.

Exercise 4:  bang-it! … criteria I’m rewarding include,  a) approaching the teeter from a wide variety of positions (Tempest puts himself on the teeter, from straight on, from the side, etc.),  b) controlling the board’s tip,  c) moving boldly to the high end of the teeter and riding it down,  d) freezing in position as the board drops,  e) stepping off the board with 2 front feet and freezing in his 2-on-2-off position.

I forward chain the complete sequence.  First we do a couple of table exercises. Then a couple of stay exercises, leading out a few feet, then walking around the jump, always returning to Tempest to reward him for staying.

After a few of these exercises, I have Tempest go to the pause table and lie down. I say “stay” and walk away.

My goal is to walk to the descent of the teeter but, if Tempest anticipates the release I calmly turn and, without recrimination, return to the table.

It usually takes a couple of tries but he’s always solid on the third or fourth lead out, so I’m confident he’s getting the idea that stay means stay, regardless of where I go.

I walk out to the descent of the teeter, turn a face him, stick my lead hand in front of his path (as a target and an indication that he’ll end his work there), and cue him “T – bang it!”

He comes boldly across the jump, runs with decent speed to the teeter, runs up the teeter, bangs it down, sticks his 2-0-2-0, and freezes.  I toss the toy ahead of him, give him his release word (“Yes!”) and let him play with his toy.

I’m pretty excited about this from a puppy.

At mealtimes we’re working on heeling.  Not long distances, but with good attention and some precise movement.  A few 180’s, some stops and starts, and backing up when he forges towards his meal.

showing Bud Kory’s new skill

July 27, 2009

I got home from swimming at 9:15 and Bud said he hadn’t fed dogs yet as he wanted to see how Kory’s new feeding protocol worked.

We all trooped to the basement and everyone ran inside. Kory was hesitant to assume his down position with the additional distraction of Daddy sitting nearby, so I put his leash on and tied him to the doorknob.

He sat, tied to the door, for a couple of minutes and then laid down. He stayed quiet while I prepared everyone’s food and put 9 bowls on the floor.

I picked up Kory’s bowl and my clicker, removed the leash from Kory’s neck (left it on the door knob) to see how he did without the additional cue of the leash around his neck.

He immediately danced below the bowl and dived in when his bowl hit the floor. On a couple of occasions he stopped chewing to watch the other dogs and, with his own breakfast nearly done, he wandered off to investigate the empty bowls.

I immediately put his leash on him and he completed his meal in a workmanlike fashion. By the time he finished the sharks were circling and I watched to see his response if a dog got too close to his bowl.

He didn’t react to the dogs. Instead he put his face further into the bowl and ate faster.  “Mine” was the message he was transmitting, and everyone understood.

Bud was suitably impressed.

Kory’s feeding protocol, Mercy’s new home

July 26, 2009

I continued Kory’s feeding protocol with breakfast this morning. He got a little antsy as breakfast was late this morning, did all his bathroom duties without prompting, and went back into his ex-pen on his own.

At breakfast Kory went into the basement with the other dogs and assumed a down position where I tied him last evening. I didn’t ask for a down and he wasn’t tied to the door, he just laid down on his own.

It could be that he saw Blue and Red in their downs (they’ve been doing downs for meals for a couple of years because of their propensity for getting underfoot during feeding, and nipping at the other dogs’ faces as bowls hit the floor …. grrrr ….) and mimicked them.

Anyway, I filled the bowls with Kory lying down quietly, then put him on lead and tied him to the door as I started placing bowls on the floor.

When everyone else was eating I walked to Kory with his food bowl and my clicker. He was dancing with anticipation and I was pleased to see his nose hit the bowl and not come out until the job was done.

I left the basement door open and shooed dogs out as they finished. Kory continued eating.

When he was finished I pointed to the door and he exited quietly, not bothering the dogs who were standing just outside observing the “stay out” command I’d given earlier.

When he got into the yard he wandered about just like a mature dog, not acting submissive or engaging the old dogs at all.

When I called all dogs into the small mud yard he trotted in with the pack. I truly believe this weekend has been a good experience for him, enabling him to become a solid member of the pack instead of an occasional, annoying visitor.

Bud arrives home late tonight and, by the time he gets here, I’ll have fed dinner.  Tonight I’m going to try to omit the leash in the dinner protocol.  We’ll see how well that works ….

In other news … I received pictures from the rescue organization that placed Mercy (now Mandy) with a nice family. I’m so delighted I didn’t adopt that sweet 3-legged girl — now she has two kids, a huge back yard, lots of friends both human and canine, and all the attention she deserves.

If you haven’t tried fostering you should. Just remember the foster mom’s mantra, “you’re going to make someone a great dog!”

In other news … this is reunion season and I received an invitation to reunite with the great group of women who worked in the office at Fenton Art Glass Company. I worked in the office when I was in high school (after school from the time I was 16), joined the sales department in my 20s, and left in 1999 to join Bud in Ostrander.

Fenton Art Glass Company, like many small, skilled, manufacturers, has seen their exclusive designs knocked off by factories in foreign countries. They’re attempting to provide some on-going support to the community by maintaining a small artists’ shop so visitors may still see the handmade glass process up close.

When I worked at Fenton there were 400-600 employees. Now there are about 150. This reunion will be bittersweet.

Additionally, my high school class is having 3 little reunion luncheons every year and the next one is in early September. We’ve created links to each other using facebook and have set our privacy settings to “no one.” <g>

I’m off to teach the advanced (4-hour) workshop!   I’ve got the fall ’09 registration handouts printed and ready so folks can start planning their year.