Friday, January 30, 2009

4th Therapy Visit

Red and I went on our 4th therapy visit today. It's been almost 3 months since our last one, due to the holidays, my busy schedule, and his unfortunate habit of lacerating a paw pad every time we have a visit scheduled...

I told the facility I'd be there between 10:00-10:30am. We usually go in the afternoon, but the residents usually have leftovers from lunch sitting out, and they want to feed the dog, or else Red is too preoccupied with trying to get to the food to pay any attention to them at all. So I decided to go BEFORE lunch this time.

But this meant I had to get up early enough to take Red for a walk beforehand (to burn off excess energy), get myself showered and ready, and leave. I got up at 8:00am, fed the animals, wrapped up Red's hock so he doesn't reopen the cut on his hock, then bundled up and went for a 45 minute off-leash run. It was snowing so it was a pretty walk through the woods. I am careful about not letting Red pounce of brush piles now so he doesn't cut a foot again. After the walk, I showered, got Red's therapy martingale collar, short leash, bandana, and the paperwork together, and then we were on our way.

I wasn't sure how Red was going to be since its been so long since we were there last. We was pulling like mad in the parking lot and was all over the place when we walked through the doors. One nurse came around the desk, bent over to pet him, and he sort of when up on his hind legs in an effort to lick her face. oh geez... Red is not a jumper, but he has been known to try to poke/lick a face that his bent over to him. I put him in a down/stay while I removed my coat and tucked it away in one of the offices with my purse. At least he held the down/stay...

The director came around and told us to go ahead and make the rounds. Sometimes she has someone accompany us, and sometimes we're just allowed to go do our own thing. I like having the freedom to do our own thing better.

I started off just doing a few laps up and down the halls to get him reacquainted with the place and smells. We stopped and talked to a few nurses, and a couple residents who were hanging out in the hallways. Red was still on the hyper side and I had to firmly order him to sit and held his head still while people petted him.

We went to the dining area where there were abotu 15 residents at tables listening to a speaker's presentation. We stopped in the doorway for a moment, and the speaker saw us and invited us inside to let everyone pet the dog. Red and I went around the room, letting people pet him, and answering questions about him. Everyone wanted him to "shake", and I swear he was sick of shaking by the time we left, LOL! He was beginning to calm down now, but still very interested in sniffing for tidbits on the floor. I got to the front of the room and thanked the speaker for letting us interrupt him, and then we left to go visit individual rooms.

When we visit rooms, I peek in first and don't disturb people who appear to be sleeping. But for the ones who were awake, I politely ask at the door if they like dogs. If yes, I ask if they want to pet Red. Most did this time - only a few said they either didn't like dogs, or were afraid of them. But even one lady who said she was afraid of dogs invited us into her room, and I sat and talked with her about several minutes. She didn't ever pet Red, but I still think she liked my company.

Red was much calmer by this point. He'd just stand next to me, doing the doberlean, and wait for us to go to the next room. And once he was calmer, he was more willing to allow people to pat his head and neck without turning to sniff them.

The very last person we visited was a man who was very mentally handicapped who I saw laying on his bed, but he looked like he was awake. He couldn't really talk, but he looked like he was interested in Red, so I walked Red over to his bed, and the man stuck his hands out to pet him, and Red began licking his hands. Then he was able to sort of pat him - it was more just having his hands on him than a normal petting motion, but the man really seemed to enjoy it. He started to play with Red with his hands and Red kept licking his hands and putting the mans hands in his mouth, but being gentle the whole time. I made out one word the man said - "Doberman". I couldn't believe it - here's this mentally handicapped man who can't sit up, or even string words into a coherent sentence, but he knew Red was a Doberman, even without him being black. I was amazed. He played with Red with his hands for a few more minutes, then it was time to go.

It took me a lap or two to figure out how to get back to the entrance - I swear that place is like a maze. We finally found it, and put Red in another down/stay while I put on my coat and had the head nurse sign my therapy visit form. Then it was back to the car to give a jackpot and go back home.

We were there about about 50 minutes this time. I'm finding that it takes awhile for Red to calm down and get to the point that he's not hyper all over the place, but once he gets to that point, the visits are much nicer. I'm going to make a point to do this once a month, maybe twice a month depending on my schedule.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Red meets his new cousin, Bradley

My sister had a baby on December 27, 2008 - so that would make him just over 1 month old now. She came over with him today to hang out and do a bit of shopping in the U.S. (she lives in Canada, about an hour away from us). This is Red's first experience with Bradley, and with any newborn baby in general.

The only thing I was worried about was Red being too rambunctious with sniffing - he tends to poke rather hard, and Bradley's head still has soft spots. So we were careful about that. Also, whenever people first come over, Red acts like a wild heathen, but then calms down after a few minutes when he has had a chance to sniff everyone.

Tiffany came through the door carrying Bradley in a carseat/carrier, covered with a blanket. Bradley was fussing a little and making little crying noises. Red, of course, just wanted to sniff whatever it was she was holding, but what happened next I didn't anticipate...

Cloud and Titus (my 2 cats), came whipping around the corner all puffed up and yowling in a menancing sort of way. I think they thought another animal was in the house. Titus got especially pissed off and displaced his aggression on Red, chasing poor Red into the other room in a whirl of nails and hissing. Titus continued to howl as the baby fussed in the carseat. Everything was sort of crazy there for a minute, then the cats slunk back into the bedroom and Red began to calm down after being attacked by the cat.

Tiff took Bradley out of his carseat carrier, and fed him - all the while Red wanting to get close and sniff him, but still being kind of excited and therefore starting to poke hard. But he listened, and was a good boy around him.

I filled up his Tug a Jug with kibble and treats and that occupied him for awhile. He was calmer after that and then just laid around, only occasionally coming up to sniff/lick Bradley.

Here are some pics of Red and Bradley posing together:




Then it was off to the store to do some shopping. When we got back, the cats weren't as flipped out, thankfully. Titus came out to investigate, but not all puffed up and yowling this time. After the initial craziness, Cloud pretty much stayed in the bedroom out of sight - which is really strange for him because usually when we have company over, he is out and in everyone's faces. Titus is usually the ones who stays hidden when people come over.

I started to hold Bradley and Red was NOT too happy about that. He was jealous! He didn't make a stink when Tiff held him, nor when James was holding him later on. And now that I think about it, Red always wedges himself in between me and James when we are hugging or snuggling. I guess Red wants me all to himself!


Red: "Hang on a sec... he's getting more attention than I am!"


Here's Red being jealous whiney. I called it Red singing Bradley a lullaby...

James came home from work and was holding his nephew for a little while. And Red was not whiney or jealous at all - just wandered over to sniff/lick a few times.


Then it was time for Tiff and Bradley to go back home to Canada...

Red: "Are they leaving already??" =(


I can't wait til Bradley gets big enough that he can interact more with Red. Red will be a lot older by then so I think they will be good friends =)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fronts, dumbbell, and update on his cuts

The "front" command is coming along nicely. I'm still luring him to the front position, but not taking a step back or moving my feet at all, and he seems to be understanding the general positioning now. I'm becoming more picky about only rewarding straight fronts. Hopefully by working on fronts, I will see improvement on the front after recall... I can only hope! I haven't been working recalls much, though because I'm doing more Advanced Rally exercises since we will hopefully be ready for our first leg in March.

Red loves his dumbbell! Sometimes he still needs reminding about the proper way to pick it up but I think he's catching on. Also, he didn't ever want to sit still and just hold it in his mouth - he wants to prance around with it, then drops it before he sits - so I'm working on getting him used to just sitting holding it in his mouth. He drops it really well on command, which is good - and different than his toys because I usually have to get firm with him to "out" his toys...

The cut on his paw pad on his left front foot is healing well. We went for our first off-leash run since cutting his paw pad last week, and I watched carefully for blood spots, and did see a couple. I examined his paws though and everything seemed fine. It wasn't til I got home and examined him more carefully that I realized the cut on his left rear hock was open and bleeding again. That damn thing just won't stay closed and heal! It had been doing fine so I didn't wrap it before our run this time - that was a mistake. It's in such a weird place that I think he gets snow shoved up into it when he runs and just keeps it open and bleeds. The tissue around it is getting thickened now because of this. I'm going to have to keep it wrapped up before any other runs now until I now for sure that its completely healed.

I am planning on doing the therapy visit that we canceled last week due to the paw pad injury later this week instead. Probably Thursday or Friday. It's supposed to warm up marginally so we can go for runs ahead of time. I hope he still behaves since its been since over a month and a half since our last visit! I'm hoping to get some photos this time as well - if its ok with the facility.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our prize from the holiday contest came!

Back in December, I entered Red's photo in a holiday photo contest through Paco Collars - the place that made his collar/leash set. We won runner-up and a prize was being sent to us =)

I received it in the mail a few days ago, and its a $25 gift certificate for Paco Collars. I picked out this bracelet which they are going to make for me to match Red's brown/silver Pandora collar. So Red and I will match =) I'm super excited and can't wait for 6-8 weeks til it arrives!!

On a very sad note, Paco, the dog for which Paco Collars was created, has passed away in a tragic accident. You can read Ana's blog post about it here. Ana Poe is the founder and owner of Paco Collars, and the one who has always been very helpful and answered all my questions, and makes me want to refer everyone I know to buy her hand-made products. Sshe runs a very successful business, and has done a great job. This loss for her is very sad, and she remains in my thoughts through his difficult time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Dumbbell

I received Red's very first dumbbell today. And what fast service! I just ordered it on Monday the 19th, and its Thursday the 22nd! And they said they had to specially make mine because they didn't have one in stock in this size with the knurled bar.

It's from Max200, and its a plastic, high angle, 6cm bar x 8cm high, with a knurled (textured) bar. I went for plastic instead of wood, but the less "chewable" it is, the better. When I originally measured him using the technique they list on their site, I was coming up with a bite width of 8cm. But I called and spoke to a guy and he thought a 6cm bar would be a good fit. Taking his word for it, I went ahead and ordered it. I got it and thought it was going to be too small. But I took pics and posted them for the DT people to assess, and they think it fits great.



Red still doesn't really "get" what he's supposed to do with it. At first, I could barely force him to keep it in his mouth long enough for me to take some pics. Then he would take it, but would drop it and start trying to chew on the edges. I think he thinks its a toy he is supposed to be allowed to chew. There are already some good teeth gouges in it...

I tried click/treat for him touching it, but he wouldn't have anything to do with it when he knows I have treats and a clicker in my hand. He kept trying to "shake" to earn So I stopped doing that and started having him take it and then I would bust out and act like a complete retard - laughing and praising at the top of my voice, jumping around and playing with him. Allt he while he pranced around with it in his mouth. Then he got a good jackpot of treats. After a couple rounds, he started to seek out the dumbbell because it equals fun/good things =)

Here's where we are right now - Red understands how to grip it now and that it is not a chew toy.

So a loooong way to go, but it should be fun to start learning something new =)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Drawing of Red

About a month ago, someone on DT posted some pencil drawings of a Doberman that they had done. Very impressed with the artistry, I asked if she wanted another project - to do a drawing of Red. She said she sure, and asked me to send her some photos of Red to use. She had been giving me updates on the project's progress over the weeks, and a couple weeks ago she said she had finished it and would mail it to me.

I received it in a tube mailer yesterday. I have been so excited to see what she had come up with, but I was never expecting what I found when I opened the tube, and I gasped audibly as I unrolled the thick paper...

(click to enlarge)

She absolutely captured Red - especially in that headshot. It looks exactly like him! The detail in this piece is outstanding, and I am in utter awe of her skill. And that's saying something considering I am no sketching novice - I have done my fair share of pencil drawings and aced many advanced drawing classes. But I could never have captured him that way she has.

I bought a poster frame for it and hung it on the wall by my desk where all Red's ribbons are displayed. Take a look...


Looks great, doesn't it? Thank you, tacotac from DT!! You ROCK!!! =D

ANOTHER cut paw pad! AARRRGGGGHH!!!!

*rips hair out*

I swear to god this dog has the softest, most flimsy paw pads EVER! Either that or he seeks out the sharpest things to trod on!

Went out on a walk this morning to burn off some energy before our therapy visit. I covered the cut on his hock with vetwrap and tape because he always opens it back up on walks when he gets snow shoved into it. The bandage stayed in place really well and I thought we were doing good.

Then I saw blood in the snow. Hmmm... can't be from Red? Can it? Walked a little ways longer... more blood. Looks fresh. I called Red and examined his hock and feet. Everything looked fine until I got to his left front foot. One of the pads (P4) has a big slice in it. Looks exactly like the one he had last year. For a moment, I thought he opened it back up somehow but then I remembered the other one was on his back foot.

So we turned around, not even halfway through our walk, to go back home. Blood spotting all the way home. Got him in the house and blotted it with a towel - TONS of blood! Took him to the linoelum in the kitchen - our usual wound care spot - and had him down/stay while I gathered supplied to flush it and treat it.

Cleaned and flushed it with a curved tip syringe and betadine solution. He didn't really act painful like he had when I've treated other wounds. This one, thankfully, is not as deep as the other one - look like he cut it just under the actual pad surface in a superficial slice, though the flap was still in place. But man, this one just wouldn't stop bleeding. Flushed several times, and then applied Nexaband (surgical glue) into the wound and held it with pressure for several minutes. A small amount of oozing continued at the edges, so applied more glue and tried to keep the edges together. After several more minutes of keeping pressure on it until it stopped oozing, I let him up to see if it would hold up.

When I tried to glue the last paw pad laceration closed, it was deep enough that when he put his weight on it, it would split open again. This one is superficial and a more lateral wound, so hopefully this won't be the case. It seemed to do ok with him walking on it, though a little more oozing started at the one edge.

I called and canceled our therapy visit for today. I want him to stay off it as much as possible today and hopefully give it a good day of healing. Wanted him to lay down and take a nap, but he kept banging the door handle wanting to go outside. *sigh* I warned him that if he opens it back up out there that we're going to have to spend another 15 minutes treating the wound again!

Let him out, he went and peed and then did a running lap or two of the yard. Came back in. Checked the pad - the flap was still closed and holding shut, though more oozing had come from the edge. Wiped away the blood gently with a moist papertowel and blotted until the oozing stopped. Then I went and sat down, and he started banging the door handle again! No way! Go lay down!!! He is now sprawled on the floor in front of the fireplace...

I'm going to have to buy boots that go up to his knees and tape them in place before we go on walks! I don't know what else to do. This is getting ridiculous!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Starting work on Advanced Rally exercises

Michelle is confident that Red and I will be ready to move up to the Advanced class in March after we (hopefully) get our Novice title in February. I was just planning on running another Novice course, but she thinks we can do it =)

Michelle, Red and I met up at Bass Pro today to start working on the Advanced exercises. We went to the back carpeted corner where all the sporting dog supplies are kept, let Red off-leash, and went through the exercises.

Exercise 32 & 33 - Halt, About Right/Left Turn, Forward
-- I think we'll be ok with this one. No different than normal heeling and turning.

Exercise 34 - Send over Jump, return to heel
-- Red has almost no exposure to jumps, so we'll have to start working on this. I've done a couple here and there at training class, but not training to return to heel.

Exercise 35 - Halt, Turn Right 1 Step, Call to Heel
-- Tried this one, no problems. Just have to make sure to tell him to "wait" before I turn and take the step.

Exercise 36 - Halt, Stand, Walk Around Dog
-- No problem. Though I have to practice cueing him to stand without moving my feet, and getting him to stand straight and not at an angle.

Exercise 37 & 38 - Halt, Pivot 90* Right/Left, Halt
-- 90* pivots are coming along ok, since this is the newest thing he's learned recently. Right pivots are good. Need to work on nice and straight left pivots, though he has the general motion down now.

Exercise 39 - Offset Figure 8
-- Is ok heeling around food, though he moves in super slow-mo, careful not to tread on the treats on the floor. Focus on me is very poor. Must work more on this using cones, bowls of food, and stuffies (since Michelle said they have used dog toys in trials before).

Exercise 40 - Halt, Side Step Right, Halt
-- Lateral movement is a brand new concept for both of us. Never tried this before. I think this might be one of the more difficult things to teach him to do... I might have to use the dowel to keep his rear in toward me as we move.

Exercise 41 & 42 - Halt, Call Front, Finish Right/Left, Halt
-- Need to teach the "front" command without moving my feet. I started working on this awhile ago, but sort of forgot about it til now. We lured him into position. I'm thinking I might break out the clicker for this one. Hopefully he'll pick it up quickly.

Exercise 43 & 44 - Halt, Pivot 180* Right/Left
-- Left 180* pivots are very ugly (and pretty much nonexistant). The right 180*'s aren't too bad. Will try to teach this as an extension of the 90* left which we are still trying to perfect..

Exercise 45 - Halt, Down, Sit
-- Red knows how to sit from a down (thank you puppy push-ups!), but he moves slightly crooked and out of heel position when he pops back up. Will try luring him straight up into position for this.

High Priority Homework (what needs the most work):
  • Work on jumps and call to heel afterwards.
  • Work on offset figure 8 performance.
  • Lateral movement.
  • Teach the "front" command without stepping back.
  • Work on 180* left pivots.

More minor things to practice:
  • Practice the 1 step, call to heel
  • Cue to stand without moving my feet
  • Work on straight left pivots
  • Work on 180* pivots
  • Get straight sits from the down position

Monday, January 19, 2009

Random stuff - walks, dumbbell, therapy visit, etc


We were finally able to go for a walk yesterday! The temperature spiked at 20 F, and I was actually sweating by the time we got back... but that was more due to having to trudge through knee-deep snow the whole time. It's like trying to walk through water - so much resistance. I had my coat unzipped by the end of it! But Red thoroughly enjoyed himself, and didn't act cold at all. So I know if its in the single digits, that means no walk.

It was back in the teens today, so instead of a long walk, we just played out in the yard for like 15 minutes. He didn't seem to be cold, but I'd just hate to get all the way over to the pond and have him start limping or something due to the cold. gah, I will be happy when its spring again!!

Ordered dumbbell

By the advice given at DT, I called Max200 to talk to someone about proper sizing. Each time I used this method to measure Red's mouth, I came up with 8cm. But after talking with the guy, he thought a 6cm bar width would be the right size. I really don't understand it, and I will honestly be a little pissed if it ends up being too small, but whatever... I'll just send it back if its the wrong size. So it ended up being this dumbbell, in the 6cm wide x 8cm high size, plastic, high angle, with the knurled bar. They have to custom make it but it should be ready to go in a matter of days, and then shipped via UPS.

To schedule therapy visit this week

I called to hopefully schedule a therapy visit on Wednesday of this week. They were supposed to call me back today but they haven't yet, and now they are gone for the day. Kinda of annoying... But the one lady said I can just call a day ahead and let them know I'm coming so hopefully I will talk to them tomorrow.

I would like to go earlier in the day this time. We usually go around 2pm, which gave me enough time to sleep in, run the dog, and then get ready and go. But that was right after lunch and many people still have food on trays in their rooms and either Red would be so interested in trying to get at the food, or else they wanted to feed him leftovers. So I figure maybe we will go BEFORE lunch is served this time, so we can hopefully avoid this issue. I don't want Red to go into each room looking for (or expecting to be fed) food. But I hope they don't have breakfast leftovers...

Living room training session

I said, "You wanna work??" in that excited voice, and grabbed his treat pouch. He got all excited and hopped around as I put some dog food roll bits inside. Then removed his flat collar and replaced it with his chain choke.

Our living room is pretty small but after I rearranged the furniture this past time, we've got a little more room to manuever now. He was ALL drive and focus and performed everything in a very quick and snappy way. I stopped talking during the heeling and just used my shoulders as a cue for turning. He did excellent! Very nice, tight turns and great focus. Good, quick sits as well. After each release I tossed a larger chunk for him to catch, which he loves doing. After a particularly long stretch of silent heeling with many twists and turns and excellent focus, he received a jackpot (aka, being allowed to stick his nose in the bag and finish it off).

I think I will do more of these little mini sessions, phase out the talking during heeling, turns and halts, and continue to toss treats after releasing. =)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2nd Rally Trial! Qualifying score!

Another Rally trial under our belts, and one more leg toward our RN title. Here's a recap of our day.

Woke up at 7:00am. Already had everything packed except the camera whose batteries were charging overnight, and the treats that were in the fridge. Got ready as usual - I wore jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and a zip up hoodie - I wanted to stay warm today! Another frigid day in the artic tundra of Michigan!

Anyway, Michelle met me at my house at 8:30am and we drove to the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit, which is about a 30 minute drive from my house. Paid $8.00 to park and carried all our luggage inside. Thankfully, we got a nice, close parking spot and it wasn't a far walk to the building.

We found an open area to set up the crate and chairs, though it was near the back door from which a healthy artic breeze was flowing (which is probably why that spot was vacant..). But we snagged it and got everything set up. I put a blanket down under the crate so the bottom of the crate didn't get dirty.

Then I took Red out back to go potty in the potty area - which was just a plowed circle of snow on the lawn, and one lone tree. He sniffed a ton of yellow spots and finally managed to squeeze out a few drops after I repeatedly told him to go potty (before my lips went numb with cold). It had now begun to snow - we are getting 4-6" today! Went back in and did a lap of the building, then played a bit with the frisbee. Then I put Red in his crate with a new meaty bone, and then went to check in and get a copy of the Novice course map.

Got my armband. There were only 3 of us in Novice A, and I was the 3rd in line to go. Dawn with her Mastiff, Atticus (which I have mentioned in other posts since we train together on Saturdays), was one of the teams in Novice A with us. I asked if I could get a copy of the Novice course map, but the table steward said there weren't any. The only copy was posted on the wall. Seriously? How am I going to spend the next 2 hours studying it if its only posted on the wall? *sigh* I went back to my bag, pulled out some extra paper, borrowed a pen from someone, walked back to the course map posted on the wall, and proceeded to draw a duplicate. It was messy, but oh well, there was nothing else for it. At one point, I heard a dog whining very loudly from somewhere in the direction of Red's crate, but I couldn't be sure it was him... though it sounded like it could've been.

After I finished my drawing, I went back to my chair to study the map and flashcards. If Red was whining before, he wasn't now. He wasn't chewing on his bone either - just quietly sitting there staring out the screen door. I went and bought a small coffee from the refreshment stand for $1.00. Added tons of sugar and then went back to my seat to drink it. Michelle always knows tons of people at these obedience shows so she was chatting with other people. Dawn arrived with Atticus and hung out with us near our set-up.

I was surprised at the number of other Dobermans there today. I counted at least 6 others - all black except for one red bitch. Most of the others were bitches too - there was only one black male that I saw. I got to chat with a few of the owners and one of the bitches was a Gorrmae dobe from Red's breeder. We got to chatting about Red's brother, Jordan, who just finished his Canadian Championship this weekend. Everyone always says such nice things about Lori and her dogs. Two black bitches were set up right in front of us, so some of the pics I took have them in the photo too. And a women who knows one of the girls I work with at the cat clinic brought her black bitch over from the conformation building to chat a bit. All the Dobes I saw were very nice-looking and very well-behaved.

After awhile, I took Red back out of the crate to run through some exercises and play. We found a long, empty corridor that I could let him off-leash to chase the frisbee. I was still very concerned about his lack of exercise this past couple weeks and how it would effect his performance today. Especially since this is a new place for him. During some warm-up, his right finishes were pretty crappy, and his attention was very limited. We have never really practiced the moving side step, which was in the course, so we practiced that a bit. The other thing we worked on was the Halt 1, 2, 3 sit exercise. After several tries, Red finally started performing it well - he tended to wander out ahead of me at first. All the other stations were fine, and I was pretty confident.

My plan was to put Red in his crate for the walkthrough, and then get him really revved up during the first team, and then do focus exercises with a handful of treats during the second team - then we'd be the third team to go. This is what worked well for our first trial - he was really focused by the time we went into the ring.

Well, it didn't work out that way... turns out, the 2nd team didn't show up. So I was just finishing playing tug with Red while the first team was finishing, and I was called to go. I was so flustered because I hadn't had time to do any focus exercises at all! I threw my treat bag to Michelle as I ran by, and Red and I were immediately ushered into ring. Red was all over the place, not understanding that it was time to focus. Then we had to start.

So I went into it in the wrong state of mind - I was flustered and unprepared, and so was my dog. Red's attention was pretty much nil throughout the entire course. We got to the Halt 1,2, 3 steps station, took 1 step forward and instead of sitting, Red went into a down. UGH! Turned around and did a redo. "There's 3 points off", I thought to myself. My legs started to shake and I started to get really nervous. He did fine the second time through. Everything else went fine, and then we were over the finish line! I didn't forget to really praise and reward Red after that!

I ran back to Michelle to ask how she thought we did. The only thing she saw worth a deduction was the retry. The posted score was 96. Whoo-hoo! One of Michelle's friends thought Red's butt might not have been down on one of the call fronts, but she wasn't sure. And I might've gotten a point off for a tight leash because I yanked up a bit on the collar in light correction when he went down on that sit. Everything else looked good.

Went back in to receive the ribbons. I ended up with 1st place, and Atticus and Dawn got second place with a score of 77. The judge announced my score as an 86. I asked him afterwards what the deductions were for. We got -3 for the retry (which I already knew), -1 for tight leash (which I'm assuming was when I accidentally corrected), and -10 for an improperly performed station on the Call Front Finish Left Forward - Red's butt wasn't completely down before I asked him to finish left. I didn't see this at the time, so I didn't retry the station. Looking back at the video of it, I can see it was very close... but I probably didn't wait long enough for him to sit. Made a mental note not to rush next time.

Michelle took some pics of me, Red, Dawn and Atticus so she can post it up at our training facility. Then took a pic of just me and Red with his ribbons. And that was it!

We decided to check out the conformation building since they have all the vendors there selling neat things, so we packed up all our stuff, and drove over to the building. Took Red in with us and made a lap. I bought a thin, snake choke chain for trialing, and Michelle bought a tug toy on a stick.

The drive home was horrendous. The roads were completely covered with snow and it was coming down pretty hard. We witnessed one spin-out crash and very narrowly avoided involvement ourselves. There were several other accidents on the way home and emergency vehicles everywhere. I just drove very slow and left a lot of run in front of me. I'm always more nervous with Red in the car too. But we made it home safe and sound =)

If you've read this whole thing - thanks! Here are some photos, and finally, the video of our trial!

Our set-up (green N2N crate) with a nice view of the Rally ring.

Red sitting by his crate


Red and two black Doberman bitches


Dawn, Atticus, and Me and Red

Red and I

One more leg to go!! =D

Friday, January 16, 2009

Preparation for tomorrow's Rally trial

Today's Do List:

1. Go to work - (9am - 4pm) Not my first choice of activities for today, but gotta earn money to pay for all these trials and training, after all =P

2. Walk dog - Well, we can't go for a walk due to the limb-numbing, artic-like temperatures outside, so we went to Bass Pro instead. Found a secluded corner (incidentally, the corner where all the hunting dog supplies are kept), took off his leash, and spent about 30 minutes doing some simple obedience skills, and generally just goofing off (i.e. playing tag, wrestling, and tug). Then we put his leash back on and did several circuits of the store, receiving many compliments. =) Then we stopped by Petco to buy a Natural Balance turkey dog food roll to cut up into little bits for tomorrow's trial day treats.

3. Nail trim - Actually, I did this yesterday. Trimmed and dremeling his nails nice and short.

4. Bathe dog - We need a nice, clean-smelling, shiny boy for tomorrow =) Also cleaned his ears.

5. Prepare treats - Cut up a very large amount of Natural Balance turkey dog food roll into millions of tiny pieces. Stored in ziploc bag in fridge. Prepared another bag of a different type of dog food roll pieces in another bag to use as back-up in case I run out. You NEVER want to run out of treats - better to take way more than you need than to run out. I ran out at our last trial and couldn't give Red his usual jackpot when we got back into the car =(

6. Pack dog bag - Items to include:

  • Show chain collar
  • Show leather leash
  • Regular leather leash
  • Treat pouch
  • Treats
  • Extra treats
  • Toys: jute tug, frisbee, ball
  • Hand towel
  • Bowl for water
  • Chew bone for inside crate
  • Vaccination history (proof of rabies)
  • Premium confirmation
  • Obedience rules/Rally sign descriptions
  • Rally flashcards
  • Camera
  • Water (2 bottles)
  • Snacks (Poptarts and 2 fruit bars)
  • Wallet, cash, keys, cell phone, chapstick, floss, eyes drops, and ibuprofen
  • Directions to the facility

7. Pack other items - including:

  • Crate
  • Crate mats, blanket for under crate, sheet for over crate
  • 2 folding chairs

8. Try not to stay up all night worrying and get a good night's sleep!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We are doomed

It is now officially 1 F (-17 C) outside according to our wireless weather station. And tomorrow's high temp is a whopping 5 F (-15 C), with -15 F (-26 C) windchill.

It is so cold out that Red is literally out there for 2 minutes and starts limping and holding up his paws out of the snow. His poor little feet get frozen! I tried putting booties on him but they don't stay on. So I take him out for a few minutes to throw the frisbee, come back inside to thaw for a few minutes, then back outside for a few, then back inside, and repeat. It's the only thing I can do to get him running a bit.

Here's a video of the poor guy:

He hasn't had an off-leash run in close to 2 weeks now, and he's not going to get one before his trial on Saturday. He's going to be a psycho ball of energy, I just know it. Especially because it will be a brand new place he's never been too. ugh, why does this have to happen??

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Curse this Artic weather!!

It's so freakin cold outside... our indoor/outdoor weather station says its 5 F. And that's not including wind chill which is well below zero.

Which wouldn't oridinarily be a big deal, but Red hasn't been out on a walk in a week due to an unlucky combination of events, and I was hoping to get him out running before his trial this weekend so he's not a high-strung retard when we get there...

But I let him out this morning and fed him, and he was holding up his left front paw and looked unwilling to put much weight on it. Then after he ate, he went sprinting around the yard again, and came back in hitching on his right rear leg. Once we got into the house, he was fine. I checked him over - no wounds or sore spots. The cut on his right hock is almost healed so that's not an issue anymore. He's walking completely normally now, so I think it was just the extreme cold that made his legs or paws ache.

So there goes my plans on going out for a run this morning... Tomorrow's temp is more of the same, as well as Friday. And its supposed to be marginally warmer (like in the teens, HA!) on Saturday which is the day of the trail. =(

So how am I supposed to exercise Red before the trial when mother nature is working against me??

EDIT: Just came in from a short frisbee session in the yard, and that cut on his hock is open and bleeding again =( This thing just doesn't seem to want to close! Back to flushing and continuing antibiotics...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday training recap

I forgot to post my weekly training review yesterday, but I think I remember most of the details.

Free heeling - just ok. Focus wasn't fantastic. Though we did some hand signal only exercises between heeling and he did well for that despite us never working on them.

Figure 8's - really really good. Great focus and heeling. Nice, quick sits at the halts.

Recalls - suck ASS. I swear to god they get worse every week. Sure, he comes when called, but he has the most crooked, out of position front on the planet. I don't even know what to do anymore. I'm really, truly at a loss.

Long sits/downs - MUCH improved. He did go down once on the sit (at the very end of course), but he was great on the down. Got a jackpot for the good 5 minute down =)

Stand for exam - excellent! Didn't move at all. Very impressed!

Free time - Since our next Rally is this coming Saturday the 17th, we worked on some Rally exercises like the 1, 2, 3 steps halt; sit/down - walk around; call fronts, finishes; turns; etc. All did well. Occasionally he'll pop up too soon out of a down because he thought we're about to move forward, so I need to pay very close attention to my body language so I don't accidentally cue him before the exercise is finished.

We do a lot of play and tug during training - and I have noticed that I'm pretty much the only one who does this with their dog. There's only one other person - Michelle - who gives her dog a toy as a reward occasionally. To me, training is just structured play. I don't want it to feel like boring work - I want him to view working as just another fun thing we do together. Anyway, it works for us so I'm stickin with it =)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cut on hock

On Monday night, I noticed blood on the carpet. I closely examined all of Red's toes, pads, etc, and couldn't find anything. Then I saw a cut about midway up on is right rear hock. A little deep but has a flap covering it. I'm guessing he sliced it during our walk - either by catching it on a stick or something in the woods, or by running through the ice-crusted snow from all the freezing rain we got.

I warm compressed it and flushed it out with betadine solution. Then put some triple antibiotic ointment into it. I could tell it was painful during flushing, poor kid.

The next day at work, Tuesday, I picked up some Clavamox and Tramadol - the Clavamox since I don't know what he cut it on and I don't want it to get infected - and the Tramadol for pain since the flushing hurts.

Red and I are in the same boat now. We're both on antibiotics starting on Tuesday (him for his hock slice, and me for my cat bite), and both having our wounds soaked and flushed. However, I'm not on any pain meds.. just ibuprofen. I guess we're more on the same wavelength than I thought!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Started Red's Birthday Video...

I can't type much because I got bitten by a mouthful of rotten 18 year-old cat teeth today and my right index finger is swollen and red and hurts like a bitch... grrr. I'm taking ibuprofen and antibiotics, but oh the pain! Cat bites are the WORST!! Occupational hazards..

Anyway, I'm excited because I've started Red's 2nd birthday video and have it mostly done. Except I will have to add any more recent photos in the next month or so, and play with the timing a little. Windows Movie Maker is a pain in the ass to use, but its all I've got. I think it's turned out good so far and can't wait to post it on February 17th =)

My little Redders is growing up! *sniff*

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stray dog in our yard today

Red was looking out the front window and started barking at something. I looked and it was a shaggy black dog - lab mix by the looks of it - wandering around our front yard. I opened the front door to get a better look...

I went outside to check the dog because I could see it had a collar one and wanted to see if it had tags so I could call the owner. I was worried it was going to get hit by a car because it kept crossing the road in front of our house. But nope - no tags - just a blue nylon breakaway collar.

Nice, friendly young dog though. I hope he goes back home or his owners find him.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Teasing Red... Titus eating his food

This was really mean of me but I let Titus eat some of Red's food before giving Red the okay to eat it... Titus is so funny - that cat loves dog food!

Training this morning

Another Saturday morning training session with the obedience group... Definitely not Red's best performance, but it could've been worse. Atticus, a humungous Mastiff, wouldn't leave Red alone for some reason, and that started to become an issue as the class progressed.

First of all, the heat is broken in the building and it was 40 degrees when we got there! brrrr good thing I wore long sleeves. Red didn't mind though.

Heeling was subpar - not really focusing much, and roaming out of position ahead of me. Not good. I only rewarded for attention.

Figure 8's were ok. I didn't use any treats at all during our run as this seems to distract him while he is trying to swallow it. He was doing good - good focus and position, quick sits - then as we made our way around the Mastiff, he kind of snapped at Red on our way by. Red didn't react at all but just stayed in heel position. But when we were told to halt in front of Atticus, Red kind of shied away a bit, but did well considering he'd been snapped at. After that, he didn't react nervous around Addison anymore - it only lasted for that one exercise.

Recalls... grrr. Short recalls are ok, but long ones still suck ass. He comes in like an out of control frieght train and is all over the place. I backed up about 10 steps one time to lure him into a straight front. Also, he kept going into a down as I'd walk away - something he's never done before. The second time he did it, I got firm with him and he was cowering after that, though came in a bit straighter. During free time, I did shorter recalls and they were quite good. So I guess distance is the issue... will just have to slowly work up to longer distances.

Long sits/downs. This was probably Red's best performance of sits/downs - considering its his least favorite exercise. The 3 minute long sit was excellent up til the last second and he started to move his front legs out like he was going down. I said "ah ah" and he stopped and stayed that position for the remaining 5 seconds til the exercise was over. He was soooo close to getting an enormous jackpot for that one! The 5 minute long down did earn him a jackpot at the end though. H went down into a sphinx down and held that for about a minute, then popped onto a hip, which I returned and rewarded for. Then the remainder of the time he sat that really good. He got to stick his nose in the treat bag after that exercise was finished =)

Stand for exam - good. He turns slightly to sniff a bit, and sometimes moves a paw oh so slightly, but other times he is really good. No complaints here.

There were 3 dogs that really seemed interested in Red today - the Mastiff, a boxer, and a Rottie. I think it was because I play with Red a lot and he gets excited and worked up, which gets the other dogs riled up. But I like to play and keep things fun and motivating for him.

Another weekend of training next week, then our next Rally trial the week after that! woo hoo =D

1. Continue to work on short recalls and slowly build distance.
2. Work on straight downs on the moving down.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Truce with the Cats

Well I think after almost 2 years, the cats have finally accepted Red. Titus came around much quicker than Cloud. Titus understood early on that Red wouldn't hurt them, and stopped running or hissing at the sight of him a long time ago. Titus doesn't react to the dog anymore, and therefore, Red has pretty much ignored Titus because he's no fun anymore.

It was Cloud who has been the problem child up til recently. He'd still put on a big show, jumping away, hissing and swatting if Red got too close, even if Red wasn't bothering him. This caused Red to want to bug him even more because he knew he could get a reaciton out of Cloud.

We used to keep Red gated in the computer room to give the cats their space of the house when we were gone. But since we've been having to tear up the computer room due to water damage (see previous posts...), we've been gating Red OUT of the computer room so he is sharing the same area as the cats when we are gone.

This is when Cloud started becoming more tolerant of Red. Now if Cloud is sitting in my lap and Red approaches, Cloud doesn't run away or hiss or swat - he just keeps laying there watching the dog. Red will sniff him a little, expecting a response, and when he doesn't get one, he lays his head on the cat's body and just looks at me like "This isn't much fun anymore!".

If Red starts being really annoying and poking the cats to get a reaction out of them, they will still hiss and jump away, but I try not to let it get to that point. I'll let Red gently sniff them or rest his head on them, then he has to stop before he pushes his luck. Try to end on a good note with the cats.

Anyway, who would've thought having the dog in the same part of the house as the cats while we're away would cause the cats to tolerate him more? I guess because they really know he is no danger to them now. And this means that once we get the room fixed, we can stop using the gate altogether.

It's taken awhile but I think we've had a breakthrough! =)