Thursday, May 27, 2010

conformation show

A couple weeks ago my dog and I drove 7 hours down south to the ABQ dog show. A few friends with the same breed, actually relatives of my dog, were driving and flying in from all over. I had done a few fun matches with my dog and a conformation show as practice where we hadn't groomed up much prior to attending. This was a big show and we were there to go big. The first conformation show of the weekend I placed 3rd of 3 dogs in the ring and then the guy that has been in my breed for like 40 years said " you did pretty well, I didn't like your dog though, he looks immature" well thank you... I guess? It is because I lost my pin brush a while back and had used a shedding comb which striped him of his undercoat and left him looking very un fluffed. I watched my breeder groom that afternoon and repeated those techniques when we got to the hotel. The next day he came in 2nd to his brother and more importantly beat out a dog who had placed 1st the first day of the show. I was so proud. I guess I have no idea what I am doing in the ring and how to make my dog show well but, my spirits were up and we were having fun and not letting the fact we didn't get points slow us down. We are a wonderful team and that is what matters. Someone actually stopped their car the final day of the show to tell me how beautiful my dog was. That is a compliment I can agree with. He looks just like his brothers mostly I just have to figure out what the heck I am doing and I can finish him.
Next stop Longmont,CO show next weekend!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

dog walk event

Today my dog and I participated in a fundraising dog walk. We did it last year for the first time and met this nice woman and her collie. We walked the entire way with our 2 shy dogs shoulder to shoulder with eachother keeping one another secure. This year we took a while to find a dog who we could walk with and finally found a nice springer spaniel named oliver who kept with my dog and they behaved nicely. I had fitted my dog with his gentle leader simply because he never gets snippy with dogs he doesn't like while wearing it and I knew today he would be exposed to a lot of untrained dogs with owners who weren't able to read signals and may not even be watching their dogs interact and I wanted a good shot at my dog behaving the best he could. I hate "tools" and like to rely on our relationship for good behavior but, sometimes you need a guarantee.
He had a blast. He played and sniffed many many dogs. He was nipped by a 6 inch chiuaua who was understandably nervous and almost bitten by 2 other dogs but, I read the vertical tail of one well enough to back off and the other had the big "back off" eyes and of course he was like "calm down,I mean no harm" and pushed her too much so she snapped at him luckily out of range. I love reading signals now that I know most of them. It is a great affirmation to my knowledge to be able to know how a dog is thinking. Timing is so important with dogs reactions and when you read the signals it helps your reaction speed to respond before anything gets elevated.
I love my dog most when we are out doing something and he looks at me as if to say "I am doing good right now, right mom?" or "thank you for this, I love you mom" that little look lets me know I am a good human/dog mom. It actually makes me proud of me, that makes me happy.
We were home by like 1030 am and he napped most of the day except a short stint outback when I had him hang out in the yard while I pulled weeds. now he is crashed out again. You know what they say: a tired dog is a good dog.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

time not toys

It is the same story that we have with busy people and their kids. You spend so much time working hard to bring home the money to provide for the family that, you are too exhausted to enjoy the family. To replace your mental of physical absence, you buy bribes to get your family to forgive you, to love you and honestly, to release yourself from te guilt of being devoted to your work.Same thing with pets, really, people don't seem to realize what your pets want is you. They want to snuggle and walk and hang out with you. So buy more toys on sale and take time to enjoy the pet you have. teach a new trick,play a game, get on the floor and play bow, hide treats in the yard and go explore together to find them,sing and dance and be silly because pets don't care about your pride they just want to see you smile. Make a list of 5 or 10 things that your dog absolutely loves (hint: these are things you have trouble competing with) my dogs list:
1. other neutral dogs especially certain breeds and females
2. smelly grounds at the park
3. his people
4. squirrels taunting him
5. the stretchy dog toy
I have trouble prying his attention from any of these things even with super high value treats like the bread bag and roast beef. I try to keep him set up for success but, sometimes these temptations hinder efforts a bit. I try to remember what my dog values above all and if I can gather myself to be most interesting I am wonderfully proud not only of him but, of me being able to have a forward thinking relationship with my dog. He is not my child, my spouse, or a replacement for something missing in my life, he is my dog and letting him be my dog is what makes me smile.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

strides: from puppy to adult

When my pup was small I thought I would go out of my mind. Honestly, I was kind of on my own with the training and time with him and all. My roommate would come home and let him potty but, really that was about all she did. I was ragged. I would walk and train and close him in our kitchen in the morning after breakfast and come home tired from work to a puppy who was wound up and wanted more. I would push myself on for months and months. I took him to classes and even a behaviorist to try to get a balanced dog. I had minor victories as he learned and retained the knowledge, I watched as he figured out how to get what I wanted or what he wanted. I remained strong and found the methods to train him as he needed and give him what he needed.
I went through all of this. I am now comfortable with my dog in everything except leaving the toilet paper out or off leash. This morning I said " why don't you go in the kitchen and finish your foo-foo" he walked by me into the kitchen and started eating again. I have a smart dog. I am really proud of him but, he still has brain farts. Last week, we were at a show and he completely bailed on me. We were showing in rally which is kind of like obedience only with stations. sit here, walk around your dog, down there, etc. Anyway he was checking out this cute great dane and that was it for him. "let me go sniff her mom, come-on I want to play with her" I was disqualified when I know he knows the stuff because not 2 weeks earlier he scored 98 out of 100 points in the same stuff. The point here is know your limits, know your dog, and know what makes the most sense for your team. It is super important to have that mutual respect too because dogs can be taught in fear and will react to your commands out of fear but, they won't respect you and that makes the relationship strained and weak. When you train out of choice and respect your dog will know what you offer is based there and trust the outcome will be good if they choose to honor your requests.
I am so glad I don't come home to a chew fest anymore. That is quite nice. indeed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dog is my teacher- What I learned from failure

Today my lovely wonderful dog and I competed in rally. This was not our first time nor our 6th but, he loves it and I enjoy doing things with him he likes so we continue to compete at beginner level knowing we aren't ready to go off-leash in the advanced competition just yet.
Well today we show up get set up and potty break prior to our warm up. We do a few tricks and run back and forth like normal then we stand by the ring until our turn. Meanwhile my dog is awful, he normally is at ring-side he pulls and sniffs and wants to visit with strange dogs and then when he gets in the ring he is fine, ready to focus and loves the tasks. not,today. He got in the ring and immediately turned to look at a dog "of interest" outside the ring. I asked him to do a few tasks and he could not keep interest on what I was asking, he kept being bad, nose to the ground sniffing and pulling to go out of the ring. Until, indeed he exited the ring at one station and we were disqualified. The judge invited us to finish and I should have known to just say no thank you he isn't into it today. But, I am shy and not very brave so I said ok let's go and we kept trying to do the course. He was horrible. I was embarrassed and angry because I know he isn't to do that normally. I left the ring after it all and just wanted to go home. But I worked him a little and sat in my chair for a minute. I was so sad for us, team Macon failed.
Then a little spark came to me once in the car on the way home. He was tired today and wasn't in the mood and I dismissed it and pushed him. I let him down. I couldn't get his interest and had trouble focusing on us instead of people watching us fail. I realized that it isn't about anyone but us. It is our time, our teamwork and I always focus on that and am always ready to make him my shining star. I lost that today and was angry with him but, it was my fault. When our dogs are bad it is always our fault because we don't lead correctly.
Anyway what I learned from my failure was dogs get the ribbons and we get the "air ribbons" thebadges of failure shining brightly in our face as if to say..."challenge" and how we accept such a challenge is what shows how we are as leaders. I know it does no good to get angry or yell or scold my dog he doesn't know what to do with that. I know I have to amp myself up to be worthy of following in order to get what I am looking for.
Someone suggested I dab a cottonball with vanilla oil and just before ring time dab his nose with it to void the interesting smells and allow him to focus. Someone else once told me not to over warm up because the dog loses interest in what you want after a while or tires out. Others have told me that if you break out the great treats right before and have a good interesting smell around you you will do better. Some dogs have trouble on dirt or grass and compete well on mats only. I heard one time if you let your dog sniff outside the ring they think it is ok inside.
I guess it all comes back to training, focus on the 3d's duration, distance and distraction. My dog is fine with the crowds but, not so good with the smelly distractions and working close to them while I am perhaps a little farther away could be a good stage.
I was too comfortable and took it for granted. He was tired and distracted and had to wait for the show time too long. He did wonderfully yesterday and is amazing. I need to trust that this fluke will have good come out of it. I will learn to prepare myself and do what I need to do first and foremost. That is what is best to captain team Macon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


So up until this week I have only used water to groom my double coated dog. His fur is longer on top and very thick underneath. My breeder recommends only using water and I was going with that until I was reading in our breeds newsletter about product and how in shows you just can't really expect to be as good as those who use product.
I thought well, maybe I will give it a try. I have a very light leave in conditioner I developed at work (I am a bit of a chemist) I realized there was nothing in there which would harm my boy if he decided to lick himself. I used to water first then put the conditioner on my hands to lightly touch over the coat then, I started my line brushing and I was delighted at how easy the tabgles removed without any painful pulling on my dogs skin. I was happy with the quick work it made without any real residue left behind. I was overall very please by how the coat didn't break or give difficulty when separating. I feel it is a gentle product and though I still can't get rid of his bed head scraggles without brushing the next monring it is nice to feel like the coat is in better healthier condition. I feel like with my own hair you can take supplements to better your hair from inside out but if you don't use the conditioner in the shower you will have raggedy hair. I wish I had found this long ago. That and the dremel. Oh gosh
The dremel makes such short work of the nail care just zip zip a couple seconds at most on the nail and a minute or 2 later you have a nice looking paw to keep good shape. The first time I used it my dog wagged his tail and ripped out a tiny bit of tail fur and the next time he decided to put his nose on it which freaked him out but did no physical damage. I feel like if I can get a little more relaxed with it the better his nails will be. lots of treats I guess, praise too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Injury to work around

The other day I went out for a run/walk with my dog. It was to be our long journey of the week. Every 5-6 days we go quite far as a way of relaxing and freeing ourselves of added energy and stress. We were about 30 minutes in and I was running a little when I strayed from the pavement and misjudged the depth of the grass. I toppled onto the ground twisting my ankle and landing on the thumb which holds my leash securely. I immediately thought "can we continue?" I knew the answer was no and then I thought about what I would do to get my dog to receive exercise that week. It would have to be mental with me out of commission he will get amped up too much to handle. I am glad I at least have a fenced yard so he may go potty without my walking him.
What do we do for our dogs when we can't exercise them? There are some options for us. There is no replacement to our one on one bonding fun time such as walking and playing. what is the next best thing? We can bring someone in to walk our dog for us when we can't or bring her to a doggie daycare to spend the day with others.We can also call a friend with a dog and have a play date or even a car ride can help them. We can try to explain to them we are hurt and can't do what we would like but, there is no controlling the injuries we suffer from time to time or being sick with the flu we just have to get through it.
We can try to help our pets adjust for such things. We can play games in the house. "find it" is my favorite and doesn't take too much. drop several treats around and then release the dog from his "place" and tell him to "find it" using the nose is a great challenge,switch where you hide things,what he is looking for and even place under things like under couch pillows or a toy. We also do "doggie dance party" this is hard with and injury but as long as you move the healthy body parts he won't care, this incorporates several tricks to music, some to use are: heel,back,front,spin,down,tunnel(or thru the legs), down (you step over dog), paw, or whatever else you want to throw in. Your dog will love the combo of mental tricks and music. Try to do lots of down or sit stays and praise like crazy, have your dog follow you wherver you do move (bathroom,kitchen,laundry etc) this keeps them working and by using the mental tricks as much as possible you keep them relaxed and even tired. You can also try simple things to relax your dog, you can groom if you are able or as best you are and you can give a simple massage or rub/scratch, even brush her teeth because anything you do to mentally stimulate the better. Don't just put your dog in his crate because you are sick, you will have a perky pup later when you are still sick.
I find it best if you have a yard and can sit out in it at the garden furniture or hammock and rest out there while your dog takes in the day, maybe hide some treats out there and let her explore for them. If you can bring out a new toy, I buy toys in multiples if I know my dog likes them and I stash them in a bag in my front closet. This way I can bring out a new toy when I feel the time is right.
Today I was lucky enough to wake up with a better feeling in my injuries and since nothing is broken I will be improving daily. I was glad too because we had a show today and an appointment to have his eyes checked. We hopped (or hobbled) to the car and icepack in hand I iced at the show, got his eyes checked and were home for his nap (in the dark ) because of his eyes being dilated. We even had a good score on our rally run. I hope I feel better still tommorrow but, if not, I have plenty of mental challenges for him to tire him out. I am a little disappointed I will miss out on my gym ruitine this week while I recover as it is nice to have my own time.
I remember back when he got his own injury last summer and i had to limit his exercise. I hear these stories of people who have dogs with torn ligaments they must put on exercise restriction and I realize at least I know because it is my body, what my own limits are. When you have a dog their brain goes into neutral and they don't let on they have pain and you have to learn to read them like a book. I am just feeling lucky I got hurt, not him. Of course, in the future I will watch a little more closely when the pavement turns to grass on my running path and hope you do the same.