Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Is Why I Rarely Go To The Beach

I am so not fond of sand. It’s just an irritating substance. You know how you feel right after handling a Brillo pad or scrubbing something with Comet? That’s the beach for me.

So, much to my chagrin, the only place to exercise dogs (and by exercise, I mean photograph) at our trial last weekend was in a gigantic litter box.

You can see they were as thrilled as I
Bella (1)

Man, when Dingbat is not even cracking a smile. Whew
Kate (5)

It was just like old times for Belly. Just like in AZ. Sand covered, teeth destroying tennis balls
Bella (2)

Maybe not her best move of the day?

I guess on the plus side, since this beach was sans ocean, there was at least no vomiting on the way home

Bella (3)

The trial was fun. Teeny tiny. I like small trials, but the really small ones are exhausting. It’s like you go run your dog, back to your spot, get your ass half in a chair and hear someone holler “we need workers!” Damn.

Bella had a great Sat and kind of a half-assed Sun, but whatev’s. Not getting paid for this shit, right?

We have a couple more trials weekends here. Next weekend I am running Kate.

Did you hear me groan a little there?

I really shouldn’t do that. She is just running a couple of games each day. See how she doing kind of thing. In typical Kate fashion it will be one extreme or the other. She will be speedy and enjoy herself like she’s been doing this her whole life…or…she’ll be stressy and refuse to leave the startline. Former, please.

If it’s the latter the videos will really suck. :-)

Fingers crossed for The Noodle, please!

We want this

Not this!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Training Or Maintaining?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on various boards and blogs about recalls. Can you ever have 100% reliable recall? Can you have a 100% reliable anything? What does your dogs response time say about their personality? Yours? Your relationship and/or training?

My herding (<-- there’s that word again) instructor asked me how long I think it took to get my dogs to be how they are. How they are is generally well behaved and willing to listen, even if you’re not the one who doles out the kibble. My answer was that it wasn’t about a time frame or a training method. I think it’s about the maintaining. I don’t care if it’s your dogs recall or your house, your job, your car, or your marriage, for that matter, if you don’t maintain it you’ll end up with a bigger mess to deal with than if you had taken care of it in smaller pieces as you went along. It’s about the day to day interaction, not just what happens when you’re actively training.

I suppose one could argue that maintaining is training. You may be right, but I think of training as teaching something that the dog doesn’t already know and maintaining as, well, keeping that training in place.

Like, “I said “lie down,” damnit” Bella (13)

I regularly work on things that matter the most to me. Those things being things that can get your dog killed like a non-existent recall, door manners, boundaries, getting in and out of the car, etc. I also happen to think that the most important thing you can teach your dog is some patience. A little self control.

Like, I could totally bite this sheep in the ass right now but I won’t ‘cause that would make me A Very Bad Dog.
Bella (11)

I try to work these things into everyday stuff. At the park in the mornings I don’t just mindlessly throw a ball. We do stuff. It’s about my dogs interacting with me, not just interacting with airborne spheres. We work on agility stuff: sending out around things, start line stay and the like. We work on patience by having one wait while the other chases. Calling off a thrown ball. Distance work. Etc.

She can keep her distance
Bella (10)

It sounds sort of like I’m in constant training mode. I’m not, really, I just try to make maintaining a part of the game. This not only serves to keep my dogs safe and fairly easy to live with, but it benefits us in our extracurricular activities.

Bella (5)

You develop and maintain a relationship by working on it. Attending to it. I see this a lot with agility people. Mostly the new ones, but some been-here-awhile ones, too. I’m not knocking agility folk, BTW, I’m sure it’s the same with all things dog. That’s just where most of my limited experience lies.

We love agility and its people! Much less dirt involved.
Bella (7)

People don’t seem to get the connection between their relationship off the field and their performance on it. If you don’t interact with your dog during the week, you don’t work or play, you behave as if you are an observer of your dogs’ life instead of an active participant in it you won’t get the results you want. If your dog ignores you in the house or could care less if you are at the park with him or not you have a bigger problem. And, it may not be the training.

And, sometimes you just end up with a dog that just has problems :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Gotcha Day CupKate!

It was 5 years ago that I saw this pathetic little face on

I had several emails and phone calls back and forth with the foster coordinator. Since Kate was a 3.5 hour drive away, we all wanted to be as sure as we could that this was good fit. The FC’s priority was getting Kate into a home that would help her. She wanted her to go to someone who would help her get over her issues and not just accommodate them. My biggest priority was Bella. I did not want to end up with a dog that would make her life miserable.

It was a win-win. Although, there was some questioning on that first day

First step: Remove some fat!

I don’t know if you can really tell since you guys don’t see her IRL, but man-o-man was she out of shape. The dog that can go all day now could only run for about 3 minutes before she had to lie down! Getting her in shape was pretty easy as following Bella around was her number 1 priority. Everything else has definitely been a learning experience for both of us. Kate is both the easiest and most difficult dog I have ever worked with. She really is an easy keeper. Quiet, non-destructive, travels well, good with others. The struggle for both of us has been dealing with her worrying.

This she has always done a lot of

She’s the dog that Can’t Be Wrong

Progress was also hindered by the fact that she didn’t know what toys were

And wouldn’t eat treats
DSC_2-5a (18)

There were many times that I looked at Bella and said, “what the hell are we supposed to do with this dog?” :-)

After about a year of shaping, trying to get her into toys, she just decided one day that maybe balls were kind cool. I was sitting on a bench at the park throwing the ball for Bella. I looked up and noticed that Bell didn’t have the ball. Of course, I started to get annoyed. Who’s untrained dog am I going to have to chase around the park for 20 minutes to get my ball back? It was Kate! I think the day Kate discovered retrieveing was the darkest day of Bella’s life. Haha. It’s been all down hill from there.

The Kateness was born

She is the perfect example of Be Careful What You Wish For

She also quickly caught on to the She Who Holds The Ball Rules The World thing. Need a break? Don’t let it go.

It’s been such a joy to watch her change. My favorite is just seeing her enjoy herself. Just have fun or hang out or just be without worrying that some unnamed horrible thing is going to happen any minute.

I say to her often, “I love you even though you’re the most clingy and annoying dog I’ve ever met.”

Bella loves her, too, even though she may prefer a little more personal space from time to time

To celebrate, we had a little peanut butter last night. PB is the one torturous thing I allow myself to do to my dogs. Watching progression of irritation cracks me up ever single time.

We start all very excited that something good is coming! Bella gets all smiley

Kate tries hard to keep her shit together. What she really wants to be doing right here is screaming in my face.

Then we get our first tastes and life is good.


Well, life is good until you have been licking for about 3 hours trying to get the damn PB off you face.

My face is tired

This is not so fun anymore

I’m going to kill you in your sleep

No, no, let me. I sleep closer to her head

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Step 1: Make sure no one is coveting your ball
Bella_7-4-10 (9)

Step 2: Dig deep. That’s where the good stuff is
Bella_7-4-10 (10)

Step 3: Single out the tender ones
Bella_7-4-10 (11)

Step 4: Pluck
Bella_7-4-10 (12)

Step 5: Savor
Bella_7-4-10 (13)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back To The Crazy

This is what you come here for, right? Not so much the sheep? Can't help it. Little OCD.

Been slacking on photographing the Kateness. Still here in all its glory, though

Plenty of running without thinking going on. Just run with your gob open. You’ll get lucky

Sometimes, not so much

Kate still cute little pointy Kate
Kate_7-4-10 (2)

Still trying to keep her eye on the prize
Kate_7-4-10 (12)

I still can’t stop with the Picnik business
Bella_7-4-10 (13)

Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous
Kate_7-4-10 (10)

Help me
Bella_7-4-10 (14)

I really shouldn't have this much free time. :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Other Players: Lucy

Alternate title: I Can’t Stop Farting Around With Picnik

For this, I totally blame Carolynn

This is Lucy

Cute, right? Smoothie. Girl. Goofy ears. Right up my alley!

She is from cattle lines. Bred in another state. And by “another state,” I mean Southern California. She is a wee bit of a softy. Perhaps not cut out for cattle work as her pedigree might allude to. She was also getting the tar beaten out of her by the other dogs. I guess all parties agreed that maybe another home would be best for all involved.

Maybe a sheepdog instead?


It’s neat to watch them progress. Not just working, but the day to day stuff. Gaining confidence. Starting to relax. Not constantly on alert that something may hurt you any second now.


Although, she still wants to make damn sure everyone knows she’s listening.

“I can’t get any more down than this”


Good girl, Lucy. Good girl.