Saturday, December 1, 2012

9 to 5

Most of us “dog people” have a regular 9 to 5 job that pays the bills so we can support our unnatural addiction to dog sports. This job, for me any ways, is a life draining, soul sucking, and daily reminder of how fast my life is passing me by.

I don’t mean to sound negative, I am just so disappointed with the [professional] direction my life took. I never wanted to sit behind a desk; I wanted to be up and about, working hard, helping people every day. My passion has always been animals, and my first job aspiration was to be a vet.

It’s a long story, with many twists and turns, but eventually I ended up here…but, this is actually a happy story, or at least a happy one in the progress of being written.

A few months ago I decided I wasn’t going to let another day go by, not perusing happiness. I took a leap of faith, took a chance, and did something completely out of my comfort zone – I took a step towards making what I did with my life count.

I was luck enough to be given the change to begin pursuing my new dream – to be a dog trainer. I know it will be a long process to prove my “chops”. I know I still have a lot to learn, but it is going to come true.

I’ve been assisting with obedience classes and a few weeks ago started teaching agility classes. It’s be eye opening as to how much “dog training” is really “people training”. Keeping students interested and engaged has been a challenge for my introverted, self-conscious, personality.

I can honestly say that having class to look forward too each week is making me enjoy my life more, work harder at training my own dogs, and find my 9 to 5 a little less painful.

So, not only will my blog be about the new adventures I have with my own dogs, but also helping new agility handlers as they explore the great world of agility training. I figure most blog cater to the seasoned agility handler, but there are few too many that encourage new handlers to take up the sport, or help them “learn the ropes”.

It’s a great adventure and I’d like to help you along in your journey…

Setting Goals

Yup, away from the blog again – you’d almost think I was unreliable. Truth is, I am just crazy busy and I have no time for most things, let alone blogging.

I do however, want to make more of an effort to write more about my training and what the boys are learning, so here we begin – again.

I think a great place to start is by setting some training goals. For simplicity sake, I’ll stick with agility goals in this blog, but I will address training goals for [rally] obedience, nose work, tracking and therapy work in the near future….see I AM BUSY!!!

Now that it is winter, there is plenty of time to dedicate directly to training without all those pesky weekend agility trials getting in the way. December and January will be rededicated to retraining our TOTO contact performance, teaching absolute directions (left/right), obstacle discrimination and distance handling. Phew…that’s a lot of training! But we can do it! So, that the training plan, but what do I want to have come from all that training?

2013 Agility Goals

1)      Have Travis earn his ATChC before Ontario Regionals in early June 2013. This means distance work and perfect contact performance! (9 Q’s to go)

2)      Have Indie earn his ATChC by the end of 2013. This means directional, perfect contact performance and obstacle discrimination! We still have a few Advanced Q’s to go, so he gets more time to earn them than Travis. (18 Q’s to go)

3)      Have Indie place top 5 overall at Regionals, in 16” Regular – also qualify for Nationals if it wasn’t obvious. Why top 5 and not top 10? Well this year it looks like it will be another split Ontario regional – I am NOT complaining – so if there will be half the number of dogs (in theory) then he needs to be top 5 in Ontario West.


4)      Have Travis qualify for Nationals. Why not set a Top 5/10 goal like I did for Indie? Well, I want to be realistic. Travis isn’t the fastest dog and he tends to be “over” the fun of agility after about 2-3 runs, even if over an entire weekend. With 6 runs at Regionals, it isn’t likely his stamina will carry him far in to the standings. It isn’t an excuse as we are always working on building drive and stamina, I simply have to accept it as part of his personality. He is a couch potato that does agility because I ask him to.

5)      Contemplate Nationals. It’s unlikely that we would go because we would have to drive there and back, and that would be too much time off work. Seems like Nationals will be in Edmonton in 2013 and I simply can’t afford to take 10-14 more days off work next year when I am already planning for 7 weeks off at other times of the year. Not to mention the money….’cause I ain’t made of it.


6) Maintain a minimum 70% Q rate over the entire year. In 2012 the goal was 50% which I exceeded, so with all the extra training and dedication I should easily be able to get the boys up to a 70% Q rate each.

We won’t be trialing as much in 2013 because I want to start competing in rally-o, obedience, nose-work and hopefully (if we can close to ready) tracking. See, no time! I have already entered the dogs in their first rally-o trial in February, thing is, I have no idea how rally-even works. Eeeks! The boys are not ready, but like with agility, we have the winter to perfect our skills. Maybe I can get a crash course from someone or find a group class to get in with. <sigh> Who am I kidding, I don’t have time for that!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ear Splitting!

I decided to put some of Dr. Dunbars advicde to work - lure-rewarding Indie to bark on cue.

Step 1: Say your verbal cue... "Speak!"
Step 2: Lure your dog to perform the cue...I growled at him.
Step 3: Dog responds...he barks.
Step 4: Get ear plugs....and reward.

Indie is crazy barker. No, thats not true. He is an emotionally reactive barker. It's driviing us a little nuts. So the thought is putting the bark on cue means you can also put the "shhh" on cue. But, you have to bark before you can shhh.

Yesterday was session 1 in which we lure and reward. Today was session 2 and in which I removed the lure. We were about 50% successful without the lure so I expected we will be without it by tomorrow.

Fun stuff.

Monday, October 1, 2012

This weekend (Friday and Sunday) I went to the Ian Dunbar seminar hosted by The Summit. The event was held at the Emerald Links Golf Course, in Manotick, ON. Saturday we went to a trial at Absolute Agility in Harrowsmith, ON. It was quite a jam packed weekend.

I’ll start with Dr. Dunbar’s seminar. I always try to find the good in everything – we’ll, no I don’t, but I am trying to. I went to this seminar with the understanding that I would learn something about this gentleman’s “world renowned” training techniques. I’ll admit I left disappointed.

Why was I disappointed? A few reasons…

1)      Too many “stories” that bordered on irrelevant. Not to say that the stories weren’t entertaining, humorous and engaging – because they were.
2)      No demonstrations. I’m a visual learner and in order to learn I need to SEE what you do and how you do it. I don’t think it would have been hard to wrangle up a few dogs to demonstrate his techniques on. While seeing Dr. Dunbar imitate a dog and their behaviour I think seeing a dog would have been more relevant.
3)      No handouts. It’s hard to tell the relevant from the irrelevant. Handouts would have at least helped me know when to really pay attention and given a quality document to refer back to - as opposed to my chicken scratch.
4)      No visual aids. If there aren’t handouts then there should have been a power point presentation of the material. Videos?
5)      The training techniques covered are common place for those who use positive rewards training. What he talked about was the same thing he’s been talking about for decades. Nothing new, nothing revolutionary.
6)      He refers the audience to his books and videos for demonstrations and more information. Convenient that they were all made available at the seminar.

When I leave a training seminar, especially one that I have put a fair amount of money in to, I want to feel as though I have walked away with something. I really left with nothing.

I am in no way “dissing” Dr. Dunbar. I think what he, Bob Bailey, Karen Pryor (many others too!) have done for the dog training world have revolutionized the way we train dogs today. I respect the man, will continue to look to his websites for new material – and – but I will not go to one of his seminars again – which I couldn’t anyway, as the man is retiring “soon”.

Saturday was a little less disappointing. I ran the dogs in a few events each, but unfortunately my atrocious handling caused multiple errors on course – resulting in NQ’s.

The good news is that Indie pulled off a beautiful Advanced Gamble, being the only dog to Q in the event. I didn’t get to watch any other dogs run so I am unsure what the problem was. The end gamble seemed easy enough (I figured that was why we pulled it off) but I suppose it wasn’t.

The gooder news (yes, gooder) is that Travis earned his 3rd Master Standard Q, earning his MADC!! Woot-woot!! He was a glorious 12 seconds under time too! To me, he seemed slow, but I think where he makes up all that time was on his contacts. He is so much more confident on all the contact obstacles that he makes up seconds. I always thought his ground speed was slow but I suppose it isn’t really all that bad.

The bestest (yes, bestest) news is that, with the exception of a fly-off by Travis on the teeter in his first event, the dogs were 100% on their contacts! Solid. Confident. Sure.

Travis’ fly-off was a little unexpected. He rode the teeter down like I expected him too, until about a foot off the ground – then he bailed. I am not 100% sure why, but he did. I put him back on because I wanted to make sure he wasn’t traumatized. He wasn’t .

While I would have liked more Q’s the truth is that both dogs were spectacular – and it was me that truly failed them. They did everything I asked – I just wish they knew when I was wrong.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Healthy Dog Begins on the Inside

Ever eat a whole bag of chips and feel so sick afterwards? Junk food is nutritionally void – it has no nutritional value and your body is forced to process the “food” and received little to no benefit from it.

Regardless if our dogs (us too) are athletes or not, a balanced healthy diet will contribute to overall superior health. Wondering what a balanced healthy diet is? Well, for our dogs that is whole meats (muscle meats), vegetables, fruits, and if appropriate some grains.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of manufactured dog foods. It’s not hard to believe that some are superior over others. It’s also not hard to believe that some are the human equivalent to a bag of chips.

I am in no way against feeding kibble, or wet foods, or even RAW. You as a pet owner are free to choose what you feed your dog, however, I implore those of you that feed a manufactured food to find out EXACTLY what you are feeding your loyal companion.

There are enormous advantages to feeding kibble – I myself have fed kibble. If you choose to feed kibble choose a highly rated kibble to ensure that your dog is receiving the best nutrition possible. Often the cost of feeding a superior kibble is only a small percentage more that the less desirable kibbles.

There are two online dog-food-review sites that I recommend you use to see how your dog food is rated:

There are also “alternative” manufactured dog foods available in your local pet store (not a big chain though). We currently feed our boys “TheHonest Kitchen” Force variety. THK is a dried food (ground up) that you rehydrate with water. I wont lie, we chose Force because it was the cheapest of THK’s grain feed varieties. The boys absolutely LOVE this food. 

As the protein in THK Force is only 21%, I also supplement with Dried-N-Alive – all 4 varieties – when Indie is looking a little underweight or both dogs have been training especially hard. I also use it as a training treat for both dogs. They go ga-ga for this food! I highly recommend it for anyone doing recall training!

So, what made me choose these foods? Whole muscle meats are the first ingredient. Quality fruits and vegetables. I can also pronounce and identify all the ingredients. I also like the idea of feeding a food with a higher water content as I am not convinced that Travis drinks enough water. THK must be rehyrated but DNA can be fed dry or rehydrated.

Our dogs are our life-long companions, we owe it to them to feed them the best food we can find and afford. I’ll never judge you or anyone for choosing what you feed your dog – it is your right. I do however want you to make the best choices for them. Educate yourself, read online reviews and visit your neighbourhood pet store for more information. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by what you learn.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Keepin’ Fido Fit

Agility requires cardiovascular endurance to maintain a crazy fast pace for 30-70 seconds, core strength to perform crosses and turns with accuracy while maintain balance, leg strength to push, pull, take-off, stop and turn around the course, and flexibility to ensure muscle can work at their peak performance without breaking down. This is true for both you and your dog.

I went to a trial this weekend with my dogs and was astounded by the number of dogs that were overweight but still competing at the higher levels. Yes, fat dogs doing Masters level agility.

We all know the aliments that follow us people around who find themselves with spare tire around their waist – pain in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Three of those I suffer from myself. So, I can only imagine how chubby puppies feel as they haul all that extra weight around the agility field – climbing contact obstacles, pounding the ground jump-after-jump-after-jump, trying to run faster, turn tight and weave through the poles. What an incredible stress they are under – much more than us chubby folk who just run along with our dogs. If I am huffing and puffing I can only imagine what fat dogs are feeling like after a run.

Obesity is rampant in our country (I carry a few too many myself) and this problem is becoming more and more prevalent in our family pets. Agility can be a great avenue for both a handler and dog to get in to better shape – but it won’t happen overnight. The pound went on slowly and they will come off even slower.

So, how do you know if your dog is overweight? As each dog is built differently, even within a breed, you must use your hands to tell you. Use this chart as a guide and it will help you determine if your dog is at a healthy weight or not.

I am constantly evaluating my dogs weight. Each week, after they get a brush out (the hair can be misleading if there is too much bulky undercoat) I feel them all over to evaluate muscle mass and overall weight. Travis puts on weight easily. If he is feeling a little “rounder” I’ll cut back his food and increase his cardio exercise a little and revaluate the following week. Indie, on the other hand, is very hard to keep weight on. He gets the same food as Travis, but also another food with higher protein and fat for additional calories. Even though Travis is on average 2kg heavier than Indie (both dogs are also built very differently) Indie frequently gets about 20-25% more food than Travis.

Our agility (and flyball/obedience/tracking/rescue) dogs are athletes and should be trained just like any human athlete would. A big part of the dogs training regime should incorporate building cardiovascular endurance (distance running), core strength (balance exercises) and increasing flexibility. There are so many fun things we can do with our agility dogs that will keep them in the best shape possible, while still teaching great skills that will be indispensable in agility training. If you too are overweight (statistics indicate that overweight dogs frequently have overweight owners) this is a great opportunity for the both of you to lose that extra weight together!

Until our dogs are in a healthy enough “shape” to compete, they should not be competing. Remember, we have the choice to say “no, my knees are too sore to run this event” but our dogs do not, and will often run in pain simply because we asked them too. In ensuring our canine athletes are as healthy as possible we are increasing the length of their agility careers and life expectancy, decreasing the likeness of a crippling sports injury (a very costly expense), building immunity and ability to recover from injury/illness faster, and building a great relationship with our dogs.

Remember, our dogs are our pets first, agility partners second.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back in the Game!

Monday was the day…back on the contacts! I’ll admit I was really nervous, super nervous. Seeing as I hadn’t kept our retraining a secret, I think this added the pressure of my peers being able to witness first hand my ability as an agility “trainer”.

It was a huge project, one which I ended up only putting about 80% of the effort I should have in to. But let’s face it, agility is not my life; I am not retired, I work full-time, commute, go to school part time, commute, a one day a week part time job, commute, other doggie activities (tracking, obedience, hiking), have a husband-family-friends, commute, hobbies to keep me sane, and a teeny-tiny back yard that fits either 6 weave poles or a teeter. Plus, I try to blog about all my shenanigans. Hardly the ability to put 100% effort into anything. I’m happy with the 80% effort – it is still more than most others would be able to do.

Now I’ll explain the basics of our retraining the 2-on-2-off (2o2o) contacts. There were two separate “lessons”. First, build the dogs value for being “on” things and specifically the end of the contacts. Second, build value for a nose touch. When you put them together you should get a stellar nose touch off the end of the contacts. The reason you teach them separately is that if the dog is over-excited, then the nose touch weakens, but the value for the end of the plank should remain.

So how did it all play out…

Let’s start by saying that the people at Guides Canins know how to run an agility trail. I ran in 6 back-to-back events that started at 10am and we were in the car by 2:15pm…that is unheard of. Now, there weren’t that many people there, but there were still 20-25 dogs in each event – pretty impressive. We will defiantly be going back there! There is nothing I hate more than lots of down time during/between events – there are some venues that could take a lesson in time management and organization from these people!

Indie ran in 3 steeplechase – a first for both of us. Now, my memory isn’t the best, and competing in two different organisations (AAC and CKC) with two different sets of rules, two dogs in two different levels and [technically] 9 different “games” classes is a lot of rules to remember. So to keep everything straight the goal is just to run perfect and if we don’t, we just check for a Q on the score sheets later.

Indie’s first and third runs were spectacular. He nailed his contacts three times with a solid end position on the a-frame.

His second run did not go quite as well. His contacts were still great, but along the back of the field was the 12 weave poles. Some nice competitors were packing up quite close to the ring side, making lots of noise. Just as Indie was part way through the poles they shook out a blank. Indie stopped dead, but didn’t bark, but didn’t manage to forget that we were in the middle of a run. When Indie loses his focus it is hard to get him back to his A game quickly – he’s still a green dog. I started the poles over again but then he ran past the next jump in the sequence. After that the run was great. No Q because we were over time.

Just as a side note – it appears as though we were the only team doing a stopped contact in steeplechase. I am not sure how many dogs were doing a true, trained running contacts though…seems like a lot of “cross your fingers and pray the dog hits some yellow” training. Many dogs were hitting high on the contact as opposed to low where you’d expect with trained running contacts.

Travis ran in three master standards and earned 1 Q. There would have been a second, but he ran past the last jump earning us an E. Well, I earned us and E because I stopped handling him on the 180. My bad. His times were also EXCELLENT! His fastest in master standard ever…a good 5-10 seconds under SCT. Usually we’re around 1-2 seconds under time. I attribute it to Val’s flowing course design…still challenging (more decoy, obstacles discrimination type challenges) than twisty turn-y course which really slow Travis down.

His contacts in the first two events were solid, but he did half slip off the dog walk, but got back on to end position. The judge didn’t fault us for this – not sure what the rules say about that anyway. His last event was a disaster. I think he had 3 refusals and 3 really, really, off courses by obstacle #10. He was simply not interested in participating and barked at me relentlessly. He never barks at me – ever. I tried playing with him to get his mind back in the game (I grab him in a bear hug and growl at him – he loves this) but he just wasn’t having it. It was so weird. I pulled him out about half way through – no sense me getting upset (he is really sensitive to my moods, which don’t seem to faze Indie at all) and he is just practicing being wrong again and again. The first words out of my husband were “…that was weird”. Good, it wasn’t just me. I asked him if it seemed like I was handling badly and he said that it really seemed to be Travis not listening to me.

That was the last event of the day, so we packed up and headed home. Travis was himself by the time we got home, doing tricks and obedience games. We figured it was the heat – or the pressure – maybe he crumbles under pressure. Maybe it was my mood too – I was a little frazzled from things going so fast, running two dogs in two rings and 6 events. Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

We’re at All Dogs on Saturday – hope things go just as well, or better, there too! I am really happy with the boys contact training.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back from Basics

The summer is almost over - thank goodness!! Not sure if everyone else has been suffering like we have, but it has been hot, hot, hot, in Ottawa.

It was my intention to really focus on getting the boys really proficient at contacts and weave poles but the heat really kept us inside up until about 2 weeks ago. Even now we’re only training out on the field later in the evenings. I’d like to say that the reason that we didn’t train outside in the heat was that my dogs don’t perform well in the heat – which they don’t – but the truth is I am getting old and I don’t do so well in the heat any more. This year I started getting migraines which made much of anything rather unpleasant.

I am however glad that I had decided back in May that we would not trial in June, July and August any longer – specifically because of the heat. I cannot imagine spending a day outside in the heat we’ve been having! But, to all you die-hards, I’ll admit that I was a little jealous and thought of you all often as I sat in my air conditioning as I sipped on some beer.

We’ve been training very hard over the past two weeks, working our way back up to the full length equipment. It’s only two weeks until our first AAC trial since we starter our summer training hiatus. Both boys have an increased value for being “on” equipment and both have a good “touch” behaviour in 2o2o.

I am actually very impressed with Travis’ progress. He has a great nose touch and maintains the behaviour while I am behind, in front and when walking. We’ve yet to work up to a run….all in time. Indie was a bit of a challenge and I could never get a great nose touch with him. However, once I got him back on the equipment his nose touch improved dramatically. I am attributing it to an increase in drive – once he sees equipment he goes kinda bananas.

We’ll be trialing at new facility on September 3 – Guides Canins - always looking forward to going to new places, meeting new people and seeing a new way of doing things!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Drives your Dog?

What brings out the best in your dog? What makes him (or her) run faster, turn tighter or just plan work harder?

For some dogs, it’s playing with a favourite toy or a great game of tug with their handler. For others it’s a tasty piece of food.

There is something out there that will make your dog work his hardest for you – we call this “drive”.
Neither of my dogs will work for toys – something I am passively try to change – it just isn’t a priority for me right now. Both train well with food; tricks, obedience, recalls, crate games, It’s-yer-choice games.

I’m sure that I am not alone in the fact that my dogs behave differently at a trial – they are “different” dogs. So, the challenge was how to I train with those different dogs? Simple, I combine my dogs intense love of agility with their insane jealously of each other.

I train one dog while the other is close by. While the one is having a blast, the other is barking and spinning in circles, waiting their turn. When I switch them out the one is all wound up ready to go and the other gets a refill!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jessica Martin @ The Summit

This weekend I attended 3 seminars (2 half day, and one full day) with Jessica Martin, hosted by The Summit. I was excited to attend mostly because her handling style truly embodies Greg Derrett’s handling system (I think it’s weird that we refer to handling system by the name of their “founder”, the should be called something cooler and less pretentious). From what I have seen in our local level of completion, everyone seems to mix up a few handling systems, an “All Canadian” if you please, and it confuses the heck out of me. I hate ambiguity – so do my dogs.

My point, and I always have one – it was nice to get some advice from an instructor who truly believes in their system, follows it religiously, and has results that speak for themselves.

Saturday AM seminar was “Body Cues, Footwork and Synchronization”. In an nut-shell it was about being your most agile, so that you can communicate clearly with your dog. The theory is (I guess it isn’t a theory, but more like proven fact) that the more clearly you communicate (the more accurately you use your body) your directions to your dog through acceleration, deceleration and accurately timed turns, the more confident and faster your dog will be.

In the group classes I had taken last year we defiantly touched on acceleration and deceleration, but I realized that I never really got how truly fundamental it was as a body cue. Let me say, it works and it is absolutely a necessity for any agility handler. Used correctly, you can get more accurate and tighter turns which are truly key to preventing an off-course and keeping course times down. The footwork portion was truly an “Ah-ha” moment for me (thanks Oprah) because I always thought to myself “My dogs are not following my arm cues!”. This was always so frustrating and then Jessica pointed out that 1) Our arms are a distraction – you don’t want your dog looking up at your flailing arm when they would be looking at their next obstacle and 2) my dogs are both under 16”, they can’t see my arms up close anyways (hence, why they don’t follow my arm changes) but they can see my FEET!!! Duh – oh wait, Ah-ha!! I am defiantly going to be paying way more attention to my foot position then my arms from now on.

Saturday PM seminar was about “Crosses and Arm Changes” – which was really just the practical application of everything from the AM. Positioning yourself at the optimal position to cue every turn imaginable.

In the morning Jessica emphasised how important foot position was and how distracting arms can be. However, in this seminar we learned how and when to effectively use our arms to cue turns!

Sunday’s daylong seminar was all about “Masters Handling Challenges with Efficiency” and making the best course choice for your dog – all while applying the theories of the previous day in to super-fast, but very technical international courses.

I opted for a working spot in this seminar because it is not secret that Travis and I need to get more speedy on technical courses. I’ll admit, knowing that some more “well know” handler/instructors were also working with their amazing dogs really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. I did things (and so did Travis) that we have never even attempted before…but we sure will again! While overall his course “times” were not much faster than normal, I was sure able to shave a second or two off some technical jumping sequences with the handling that Jessica suggested…and sometimes seconds is all you need!

I don’t think Travis will ever be a very motivates agility competitor. This doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to get him to be faster, it’s just that for now, he’s enjoying the ride instead of focusing on just the destination.

Jessica will be back at The Summit December 29/30, 2012, but I don’t think we’ll be able to attend…allowance/agility $$ is running low and my IOU pile to our joint account is steadily growing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Indie!!

Today my baby boy turns two! It’s hard to believe that he came to our home just short of two years ago. I can’t remember what it was like to not have Indie, or Travis.

All training of my furry-athletes aside, I am truly blessed to have two great dogs. But since it’s is his birthday, this post will be only about Indie.

This is a dog that truly has a smile on his face all the time! He loves everything (except children, strangers, the bread machine, the vacuum, the gas stove/over, the blender, the doorbell, dump-trucks, large dogs, the lawn mower, windows opening, being brushed, being bathed…) especially working! He loves to go to the agility field and training classes! He loves to play and chase, be cute and make us laugh.

Just this morning he was laying on his back, laughing (kinda a grunt with his mouth wide open), wriggling around. I looked at my husband who just shrugged his shoulders. I figured that he was enjoying his birthday by reliving the moment of his birth. :) Ewww….

He is a bossy little dog, with tones of energy. The unfortunately part is that the more you exercise him the more energy he seems to find. Of course if the weather gets bad and keeps him in for a day or two then he starts to get in to trouble, or at least he makes you think he is thinking about getting in to trouble. He has this look about him when he is listening to one thing, but has is head turned towards another, but an eye locked on to something else. Makes you think he’s going to split in to three and just launch a mass assault!! This look means he is about to get in to something but he hasn’t figured what quite yet (or at least the order)…all while analyzing your tolerance threshold for puppy craziness that he is about to unleash.

Fortunately, much of his destruction is directed at cardboard, most specifically empty paper towel rolls. Sometimes toilet paper rolls will do, sometimes paint colour chips, or the box from a 24 of pop cans. Regardless, the cardboard will be torn up in to teeny-tiny little pieces and distributed evenly across the room. Sometimes he’ll convince Travis that his sort of destruction is fun and then I have riot on my hands when Indie remembers he doesn’t like to share. I thought older brothers were supposed to be the bad influence.

As bossy as he is he is also a marshmallow. He hates being brushed or bathed and gets this pathetic look about him when he knows it is coming. He won’t come to you but he is quick to flop over to expose himself while waving the white tail of surrender. Baths are more tolerable if you let him drink from the hose (a shower attachment for bathing dogs…best purchase ever). He’ll let you know when you have soaped him up enough and it’s your turn to give in to his whim. It’s a give and take relationship, but it works.

Just today I tried to remove a “hitch hiker” from his backend and I guess I grabbed more hair than…. Where you’d expect a growl or a nip from any other dog, he just yelped and then insisted on giving me nonstop kisses! He’s frequently underfoot, accidently getting kicked or stepped on, and his is how he insists on saying sorry for being in your way…kisses for mommy/daddy!! What a boy.

At just two he has proven to be a great family pet, travel companion and willing participant in many crazy doggy activities. While he is a little neurotic, the barking is driving me nuts; he is a sweet, fun loving puppy. Travis was about 2 ½ when he stopped being a “puppy” so I hope we’ll have at least another 6 months of puppy antics before he matures in to an adult dog. There is just something about puppies!!

Indie, people might think that you are a girl (where is that big manly sheltie coat?!?!) but you are my little monkey-man. Love you bunches – enjoy your day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seriously? The Bum Again?!?!

I don't want to make our puppy sitters feel bad but....

While we were away Travis got ahold of a few pairs of nylon, knee-high stockings - successfully eating one. This fact remained unknown until the morning we were picking the dogs up as Travis passed the stocking (fortunately) in his crate. If he had passed it outside we may never have known he ate it - it was during the crate clean out that it was discovered.

As Travis (immediately following the event) went off his food, vomited what he did eat, and still struggling to pass something besides bloody to the vet we went.

Our vet feared that they may be another stocking in him, and also some damage from the one we knew he ate might have caused, we were set to Alta Vista.

After x-rays it was thought that while there was some "damage" to his intestines - highlighted by the huge accumulating gas pocket - that he was likely fine. Because of the diarrhea Travis was given sub-cutaneous fluids and some antibiotics for possible infection. We were told that we had a 5 day window before we were in the clear for any more "foreign objects".

While tomorrow is day 5 Travis is looking great - while still a bit tired. He is playing, eating, drinking and being a happy boy. Not to mention normal and regular (timing) poops.

Who knew dog poo could make you so happy. :)

I think next time we go away we will send the boys to our breeders kennel - it's puppy safe there. Not to mention lots of other Shelties to play with.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sam's da Man!

My husband and I had the "pleasure" of puppy sitting my sisters latest foster dog this weekend - Sam the Rottweiler.

I'll admit, I was nervous. I have had no experience with breeds that require more "assertive" handlers. I'm not sure I am an assertive handler - but I sure am bossy. :)

Sam came over on Tuesday for a quick visit to see if there would be any problems with our dogs and cats. Indie and Travis were in their ex-pen while Sam looked around. He was less than interested in them. Excellent.

Sam came over Thursday night, and despite everything going well on Tuesday, we decided to keep him separated from our much smaller [and I'm sure tastier] animals. Our pets were confined to the basement by way of baby-gate (the cats were not pleased) and Sam had run of the main floor.

The weekend took some finessing to ensure there were no encounters, but it all went very well.

For just coming in to our home he listened very well - I was very, very impressed. He came when called, followed basic obedience commands and would "wait" for his food until released. He is quite the love bug and enjoys being scratched all over too!

Sam seems like a good boy and only appears to have the same "issues" any dog would in a new home. He loves to go for walks (he would however make someone an excellent jogging partner) loves to play fetch (he doesn't release toys yet so we alternated between two toys to get him to give the one he had up) and appears to have had some basic obedience training at some point (he needs some reminder training sessions though).

Oh, he also preferred drinking from the toilet (no fear, our toilets are pet safe for drinking) which he'll drain quickly and then slobber all over everyone and everything. Eewww!

I wouldn't recommend him for a home with small children (only because of his size and puppy like demeanor) or cats (I think he had some prey drive bubbling up) or a for a first time dog owner but he'll certainly make someone a good dog.

I did learn something from the weekend - I don't want a dog bigger than a Sheltie...ever. Big dogs just occupy too much space - usually the space that I want to be occupying.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why is it always The Bum?

The majority of my dogs’ health issues seem to revolve around the bum area – it’s becoming discerning. It is also reaffirming my decision to be childless.

On Thursday morning Travis seemed overly interested in his “hind end”. I knew he had been well enthralled with this activity for a while because his hair was soaked and his “hind end” was very, very, clean. Ewww.

I hoped it was “nothing” because there were no digestive issues and he only licked when he was laying around – if we were playing, or out for a walk he never wanted to lick.

Friday was more of the same but now things were looking red. Ugh. I called the vet and since he wasn’t in distress the earliest I could get him in was Sunday morning.

Saturday was more licking. Ewww…

Sunday morning we headed to the vet. Clearly there was an “emergency” in the office because we didn’t see anyone for almost 30 minutes. We were told that the wait would still be at least another 30 minutes – we opted to stay because I knew we had to. I didn’t mind though – lots of nice people to chit-chat with and friendly dogs to meet. The Vet Techs were also very forth coming with the treats which made things good for the boys.

I am always curious with the dogs weigh and Travis weighed in at 12kg even – down 0.08kg from our last visit. The whole weight thing is weird to me…Travis looks like a big Sheltie, but a Scottie came in and looked like he was at least 1/3 smaller. In fact he weighed the same as Travis. What’s up with that?

Our turn finally came and long story short Travis’ anal glands were “very full”. They had to shave around his bum, which means his skin is now irritated and he has to wear the “cone-of-shame” for the next week or so. Not to mention to keep him from licking this nasty cream that has to be applied twice a day….no kids, no kids, no kids.

The recommendation is that we go every 3-4 months to have things checked out and to re-evaluate the situation as we go. Excellent.

Afterwards – as a reward – we took the dogs to the park. Travis was all full of himself (makes me thing of that first horseback ride in the early spring on a frisky 3 year-old) so clearly the bum had been an issue for him for a while. The symptoms crept on so slowly that ever we didn’t notice a change in this attitude.

Glad he is feeling better though – I love my boy.