Sunday, January 31, 2010

MACH Pie!!!

Pie earned her Master Agility Champion on Jan 30th, 2010. Then today she earned her first double Q towards her MACH 2. She has been very consistent lately. Pie is only three years old and this is fairly young to have a MACH and a Utility Dog and also compete in another agility organization- USDAA and earn her MAD. It was never a goal of mine to see how much I could accomplish with Pie at a tender age. It has just happened that way. She's done everything I've ever asked, and the only thing she has not been Check Spellingsuccessful at is herding. (She thinks sheep are yummy and for chewing on instead of herding.)

Pie kisses.

In addition to agility at the park, Pie engaged in another of her favorite pastimes, having children pet her. Some boys with skateboards were watching Pie practice obedience after the agility show and came over to meet her. Pie loves kids, so she was happy to meet them.

There is a video of our runs from the weekend here.

I also practiced some more with Dottie and every time I work her I get excited about how keen to work she is, and how smart she appears to be. Another fun Malinois!

But since this post is about Pie, I won't let her little sister close it out. The spotlight fades to black on MACH The Pie UD RA XF MAD BH OB1 CGC. It is ready to shine brightly on her next scene. Next on Pie's "To Do List?" The AKC Nationals in Oklahoma!

Pie with the judge and our huge ribbon.

Even though this is a Pie Post and I won't let Dottie steal Pie's thunder, I will let Fancy intrude a bit since she is the older sister. Fancy also got two double Qs and two fourth places which is a good accomplishment in the competitive 20 inch class. Yesterday at USDAA Fancy qualified in all five of her runs.

Fancy's runs from the AKC trail can be viewed here.

Fancy is a good girl too!

What is it called when you have 2 dogs and both of them get double Qs both days. Octuple Q?

OK- done with the bagging. My mother always told me it isn't polite.

Apparently I am getting sick and among other things my sneezing is disrupting the puppy's chewing.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Is it possible to stalk your own dogs? Stalk as in creepy person who watches you or follows you around?

I like to watch my dogs sleep. But if I said that about a person, such as, "I like to watch Joe (don't worry, I don't really know any Joe's) sleep" I'd be a stalker for sure.

In my defense, the dogs are so cute when they sleep. Fancy, as seen in previous posts, curls up in a tiny ball with her nose tucked in. She sleeps very deeply and doesn't move.

Pie picks all kinds of strange positions but her ears always stay pointy (it just strikes me as silly, as if I think they should get floppy when she relaxes) and since she isn't fluffy, you can see her eyes are closed. Pie often experiences jerks and twitches and utters strange and sometimes loud sounds. I actually do not enjoy watching her be active in her sleep because it seems frantic and not calm like sleep should be.

Dottie isn't as cute of a sleeper as the other two, and it is somewhat rare for her to sleep when she is out of her crate. But when she does sleep, it is like a toddler sleeping and I can't help but think how sweet and innocent she looks, and I enjoy the reprieve from her reign of terror. Of course, her ears stay pointy too.

After our long agility day, they are all sleeping now and I should probably join SA (Stalkers Anonymous) because I like to watch them when they are sleeping. Not that I sit there and stare at them the entire time they are asleep. I just glance at them occasionally. Please. I'm not THAT strange. (Yet.)

My Day Off

I stole a lot of this from an email I wrote. Apparently I am too lazy to think up new ways of saying the things I've already wrote about once. I added explanations of agility terms for those who are not in the know.

I took the day off today to go to a dog show. Big surprise, I know. Pie got her MAD. Which is the USDAA title- Master Agility Dog. You need three master standard legs and one leg in each of the games- jumpers, gamblers, snooker and relay. The only leg she was missing was relay, where you pair with another dog. In the past our partners have had mistakes and in one run Pie did too. Our partner today was our instructor with her great young dog. We both had no mistakes and got our last leg and now Pie is MAD. With capital letters because Pie is never mad. She also got a masters gamblers leg and masters jumpers. She was 2 points off in snooker (36 out of 38 needed) because she knocked a red and one of my reds was only a 2 and while we got through 6, it just wasn't enough. If you don't play snooker don't worry about understanding that. In standard I should have called her COME climb but instead she took the tunnel in an a frame/ tunnel discrimination. I should have she shirt- "Praise the dog- smack the handler." Of course, Pie likes to be smacked (it gets her excited), so maybe that shirt wouldn't make sense for us.

Fancy Qed in everything (Standard, Gamblers, Snooker, Jumpers and Relay.) Poor Fancy. She was perfect so I can't talk about our mistakes and give her more blog time. Fancy was paired with our friend and HER super young dog. That is a young dog who is super, not a really young dog. Stir and Fancy got second because Stir is really fast. One of those dogs that you wonder if a dog could possibly be any faster. It is noteworthy they got second because in USDAA even more than AKC placements for Fancy are few and far between.

Pie is going for her first MACH tomorrow and if it doesn't happen then, we have another chance on Sunday. Her first agility show was the Terv Club trial 2 years ago. Not too bad going from her first show to her Mach in just under 2 years, with showing in obedience and USDAA agility at the same time.

I probably should not have entered Pie in that trial, because she wasn't fully trained. I think she had only been training for two or three months. But it was such a great trial, I couldn't pass it up. She wasn't perfect, but out of four days, she got some Qs.
Here are some pictures from that very first trial in February 2008. Looks like she got a lot of blue ribbons. 4? I seem to recall we had some trouble with the dog walk. She kept thinking it was the teeter and when it didn't tip she jumped off the side of the up plank. That is one thing that can happen if you enter your dog before they have had a lot of experience.

Pie was not cooperating for our pictures. She wanted to look at the ducks, but I wanted her to look at the camera. I am so mean.

Still staring at the ducks. She hadn't quite mastered the "hold it" command yet either, so this picture took a while to get. Asking her to look at me and hold the ribbon was to much... So instead we went with a profile shot. And what a pretty profile it is.

I'm not the type of person to never brag about my dogs, but I also try not to over do it. But, I was thinking the other day how Pie got her UD (Utility Dog, it goes- Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent, Utility Dog) before she was three years old. She was like two and a half- and she got it from novice to UD in 6 months. What kind of dog does that? Plus, it's not like I had her from a puppy and was training her the whole time. What got me thinking about that was the Terv trial, which I am going to again this year. It is at a great private park and you can camp! This year I will only be there on Friday and Saturday because I have to work Sunday and don't want to drive back down for Monday. We will also be doing obedience on Saturday. It is only offered on the weekend.

Anyway, at that trial, Pie got her CGC (Canine Good Citizen). For the CGC you don't have to "heel" but you have to walk nicely on a leash. You can heel, but don't have to. Pie didn't know how to heel and to this day she can't walk on a loose leash. So I practiced before we went in and rewarded with the leash (meaning I let her play with it) to keep her focused on me. I had to work hard to keep her with me. (We did pass, although she really, really wanted to meet the Min Pin they used as the neutral dog. That was Feb, then that June she entered her first novice trial and had her UD in Dec. And I didn't train from Feb to June. What happened was I decided to enter Pie because I suddenly got in the obedience mood. So I took her to the Home Depot parking lot the day before the entries closed to see how much work she needed. She did ok so I entered her then trained every day for the two or three weeks before the show and she Qed. Then we started training some open and utility stuff. Yes. I think Pie is the best Malinois ever. Dottie has a lot to live up to. (That was quite a bit of bragging. So much for not overdoing it.)

Speaking of the Dot. Dottie was so great today! At the show I played with a jump sending around the upright. (No bar on the jump because it isn't good to jump a young puppy.) The first 2 times she pulled off and didn't go through the uprights. The third time she released herself and but she had figured out what I wanted and went around the upright so I gave her a pat and took her back to where she was supposed to be sitting. But she already understood! So we did it maybe two times each direction and she GOT it. Really understood the game. I was so excited! She also held her down stay the whole time I packed up at the set up and at the car while I was loading. She played with some dogs she doesn't know in the river. Two of them lifted their lips at her and she backed down a bit. Then one of the border collies and her chased each other around the river.

Later all of the dogs played with the ball in the river. Actually, Pie and Fancy played with the ball and Dottie chased Fancy. We lost the ball. Very sad.

It was a great show. Beautiful weather (cold at first- Fillmore) and got to see lots of my friends. The only bad part was it is held on a ranch so it is all dirt and no grass. It is impossible to go there and not get filthy. My shirt may never recover. A scalding hot shower fixed me up. Getting filthy notwithstanding, I do like this site because of the river and because it is fairly close to me.

Now we are all relaxing and recovering, resting up for our AKC trial the next 2 days in Ventura. Fancy is curled up on the throw I use to cover the blue bed by the TV. Pie is in the round bed with her head in the other tiny round bed. And Dottie is mostly on the afghan that has fallen off the couch. I wish I had my camera! Because if I get up so will they.

Think MACH thoughts for us! Report to follow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The problem with a really good book is you finish it too quickly. Not only is the book now done and you have to find something new to read (something new that may not be quite as good and may be a disappointment after the fantastic book you just finished) but the awesomeness of the book may have forced you to stay up late reading. Now you rushed through the book, you are unsatisfied because you no longer have that great book to read, AND you are tired.

The moral is you should take your time and savor really good books. Most likely I will not be able to follow my own advice. I have never been successful at this in the past.

The book I just finished was Speaker for the Dead. Very good and I finished it too quickly and stayed up too late. Now I'm on Xenocide. The third book. I am borrowing the others but the owner of the books did not have Xenocide, so I zoomed over to the library to borrow it as soon as Speaker was finished.

I just yelled at the puppy. She can hold her bladder all day in her crate. But after work when I am home and she is loose, she has to go out very frequently or she will have accidents. My classes were over for tonight, so I'm on the computer and she kept wandering into the other rooms where I cannot see her. So I put gates up to keep her in the living room, but she kept trying to squeeze out through and opening by the couch. I was blocking her with my foot, telling her NO, but she just kept pushing and pushing. Then I yelled and she stopped and has not tried it again. I guess that illustrates the training idea that one appropriate level correction is much better than 100 nagging corrections. You might wonder if she was pushing to get out because she has to potty. I wonder the same thing. The whining and looking for other ways out also made me wonder. But she had pottied about an hour ago. She needs to learn to hold it. Because I am so good about watching for any small sign she has to go out, I think I have created a dependency on "out of the crate = I can go as soon as I feel the urge." Which is why I am now not taking her out as soon as I see signs. But that tricky. How can I get her to hold it without putting her back in the crate and without having an accident? I am trying the Evil Eye method. Viola Swamp is watching the puppy.

ffluffy and I had a good puppy agility training session. My homework is working on shoulder pulls. The best part of the session was when Dottie pulled ffluffy over to the tire and clawed her way through. Apparently she wanted to do the tire. It was so great because Dottie was at an angle, but she still went through correctly. You had to be there to appreciate the effort on Dottie's part.

Pictures from Obedience Trial

Thanks to ffluffy for taking these for me.

These first two pictures illustrate three important facts.

1) I am more concerned with personal comfort than fashion.

2) Pie likes to chew on her leash. Or really, anything she can get her mouth on.

3) Lighting can cause colors to be misrepresented in photos.

I don't know what I was talking about, but apparently I at least found it interesting! The pants were actually brown, and while brown doesn't look very good with green, it does look better than plum. In these pictures, the pants look like something a person might have worn in the 70s. Purple velvet pants. Did people wear those in the 70s or am I just making that up?

Luckily, the jacket was just to keep me warm, and not actually part of my fashionable obedience ensemble.


I was wearing the boots because I expected to be outside and the ground was very wet. However, the ground was so wet there was a lake in the obedience area and we were moved inside.

Pie takes the broad jump.

Pickle and Pie waiting outside the restaurant while we order. See Pie's new collar? ffluffy reports some yahoos were kissing Pie yet she remained in her down. Good for Pie, but so much for me hoping Pie's scary nature is enough to deter any would be bad people.

(I still don't understand why people pet dogs they find outside stores. Especially when they are not even tied up. How To Get Bit By a Dog 101: Find a loose dog with no apparent owner and pet it. That way if the dog does turn out to be a biter, there will be no leash to stop it from biting you again and again!)

Of course Pie and Pickle are probably the number one and two least likely dogs to ever bite anyone no matter how much they deserved it. The only question is who is number one and who is number 2?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Out of Order

When you save a post in draft form, then finally get around to posting it, it posts as if it was posted when you first saved it. (I don't write confusing sentences on purpose, I promise.) If that sentence or the idea behind it doesn't make sense to you, all you have to know is I am telling you to scroll down past the UDX post to read about my Friday.

UDX Quest Report

No legs to report so far. We've tried three times now. First try was at the Mal Nationals last summer. We Qed in Open B but NQed in Utility. Yesterday we NQed in Utility again. Funny thing is it was the same judge as at the nationals (she remembered Pie!) and we failed the same three things! (signals, gloves, articles.) We Qed in open b. I KNEW Pie can do articles. It was my fault because before going into the ring I dropped an ice chip that had come off some frozen ham into the bag and it landed on number 2 leather and that is the one she brought back. I know she should look for my scent, but I taught her using the food scent method, so I am the only one to blame. Gloves has always been tricky for us and signals are usually ok.

Today she Qed in Utility and was clean going into the groups in Open B. We did the down first which I didn't think would cause a problem on the sit, but it did. She made it through the down fine, then as soon as we walked out of the building for the sit, she downed. It is too bad (especially because there were so many other NQs I would have had second and maybe one OTCH point!) but Pie is so young and I KNOW she can do it, I know we will get it eventually. No worries. That tune may change if we NQ for years though! Agility is still our focus so our next show isn't until March (at the So Cal Terv club trial) and I don't know when we'll show again after that.

Other than not having much to show for it title wise (but I think I got some Obedience Master points towards our OM title) it was a good weekend. Met one of ffluffy's friends, ate fish at chips at the Ventura harbor, took the dogs (only Pie because Fancy and Dot were at home) to a Ventura beach with huge waves and bought some cool collars for Pie (hearts) and Dottie (flames.) Fancy didn't get one because they are special no pull collars and she doesn't need one.

On Sunday ffluffy (should that be capitalized?) and I took the dogs to the beach again (this time all the dogs) and played so much that Dottie got tired and would chase Fancy only half way on each throw.

I'm reading the second "Ender's Game" book, Speaker for the Dead and enjoying it just as much as the first one. I thought it wouldn't be as good because in the forward of EG the author says it isn't as popular, but so far, so good. I have also read Ender's Shadow which is a companion novel to EG and I like ES better than EG.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rain Walk

I couldn't post this when I first wrote it because the internet went down and stayed down. However, the internet should now work much better because the company moved the satellite from the house to the top of the hill behind us and trenched a cable down to the house. I will have to investigate how they got over or around or under the river.

I took the day off today since I was supposed to go to a seminar on puppy agility training, but in was canceled.

I didn't sleep very well because it rained hard and I kept waking up hearing the rain, imagining the creek over flowing its banks and washing me away. Obviously that hasn't happened yet, and probably it isn't very likely to happen, but maybe other people caught in flooding have thought the same thing. A huge, quickly flowing, darkly muddy, writhing, rolling, malevolent river right outside my porch, way too wide and deep to cross, lapping at my feet- that is the image that caused me to sleep fitfully. The road that shows up in some of my picture posts where we walk the dogs that is now closed because it got washed away in flooding shows me the power moving water is capable of- not something I hope to deal with. (How did you like that sentence?)

I slept late, then took the dogs for a walk. It was not raining when I left, but it started to rain while walking. However, the really heavy rain waited until we were almost home to start. When I got up I checked out the creek and it was running quickly with a few inches of water. I decided I would just walk through it in my work boots because they would have all weekend to dry. (I need to buy rubber boots.) But when I arrived at the creek, it was dry! I dries out very quickly, I guess.

Instead of putting all the pictures in a post, I made a video. The dogs are good dogs- they keep me entertained!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


That is "updates" with a P. Because most of the updates are about the dogs, as usual.

First- not the dogs. I had Monday off, and I saw the Sherlock Holmes movie. I enjoyed it.

Lots of rain. Yesterday we had 1 inch of rain in 1/2 hour. Today (tonight) CE has people manning the base all night in case the flooding gets worse. I've been lucky in that everytime I've driven to or from work there has been a lull in the rain. On my street alone there are 2 "Flooded" signs, but once the rain stops, the flooding quickly drains away.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programing. The same friend as last time (I'll have to find out if it is ok if I mention names) and I went back to PetSmart. Last time I had shaped Dottie getting into a basket and she did it correctly after some work. One day later she hoped in first thing like she knew exactly what I wanted.

We worked both of the dogs who have their obedience show this coming weekend. I felt a bit strange throwing my dumbbell down the dog food isle, but not nearly as strange as when we brought the puppies in and I was carrying a lunge whip! Who me? Taking a whip into a store? For those that might not know, you attach a toy to the whip and the puppies chase the toy around. It gets them very excited.

After work yesterday I took the dogs walking. It did not rain on us. But the tall grass was quite wet and Fancy came back muddy. More muddy than you can see in the picture.

Today it rained even more. It was raining after work, but the dogs still need their walk. I carefully forded the raging river to get to the walking spot. I really didn't want to loose a boot in the mud, or get sucked into quicksand never to be seen again. It rained on us almost the whole time, but the dogs don't care, and I was dry in my gortex.

On the way back, the "river" was a bit more full. I had a contingency plan ready to implement. It involved going back up the hill, fighting my way through the barbed wire fence, fending off the loose dogs that live next door, keeping my dogs from eyeballing the horses across the road, and taking the bridge home. In the Air Force, this would have been referred to as the CRAP plan. And not because it was a bad plan. It stands for Contingency Response Plan. And it is one of those things that you say the acronym, then repeat the last word. Contingency Response Plan plan (I don't know where the "a" comes from. I think people just like saying "crap.") Another example is CAC card. Common Access Card card. Or The TAG. The The Adjunct General.

But to get back to the story. I didn't relish the thought of implementing my CRAP plan. I "tested the waters" (literally.) The muddy flow came up over my boot and I couldn't tell if the bottom was firm enough. So I moved a bit further down stream and made the dogs run back and forth to see if that told me how bad the mud was. Then I employed trusty Pie and crossed carefully with her next to me, me using her to distribute my weigh further as to avoid any sinkage. It worked. But my boots got nasty floating muck on them. Ewwww.

Now the dogs are resting in their crates, drying off, I hope.
After the walk. It was not dark when we returned. The flash is just making it appear dark. Once again, the picture can not show Fancy's true dirty nature.
(Look how dark Pie is compared to Dot. Yes, the wetness makes her look even darker, but Dottie is wet too...)

If I never blog again it is the fault of this horrid, horrible, terrible, frustrating, hair-pulling, teeth gnashing, wailing and carrying on internet connection. I HATE IT!!!!!!!! First, the internet won't be available for a full day. Then it will come back, but I have to reset the connection about five times. Then pages won't load. Then I loose the connection. Finally, when everything is working, the pictures I want to load just refuse to load. The laptop seems to have better luck. Probably because it is not also dealing with a separate wireless adapter. But I tried to finish this post using the laptop and it still wasn't cooperating. I left it alone, ate dinner, read some of my current book and now it is finally having mercy on me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Learning Tracking!

The Schutzhund club had a tracking day and Pie and Dottie (and me!) had their/ our first tracking exposure. The dogs that had never tracked before (like mine) worked a smallish circle, while the more experienced dogs did different levels of real tracks.

Dottie's first time out wasn't a huge success. She found plenty of the hot dogs I put on the circle, but I couldn't tell if she was always eating hot dogs or maybe some of the peppers that were scattered in the field. She zoomed all over the place eating things.

Looks good though...

Headless puppy!

On Pie's first "track" I was instructed to make the track more obvious. This also helped me see the track. Pie stayed on the track better than Dottie.

Then I watched other's track and got lots of good info from the training directors. Now I just hope I remember it all.

Pie sniffs out the hot dogs.

Pie again.

Dottie's next circle went a bit better, but she got fixated on one part of the circle and kept going up and down on it. Which is ok since she is still learning, but since she had eaten the hot dogs on her first pass, she was not getting rewarded for being on the track. I need to find out what I should do if this happens again.

On Pie's second circle/ track, she did great. Only thing she did "wrong" was to go backwards. She found the end of the circle and followed it all the way around to the begining. I was very happy since she stayed on the track the entire time!

The tracking location was at a local farm's currently unused fields. Very pretty.
I always love to learn new things when it comes to dog training, so this was great! I am so glad the club held it on a day I could go.

Later in the day a friend and I took our dogs to PetSmart to practice obedience because of the up coming show next weekend and because it was raining outside. Pie didn't do so good. Bummer. After the big dogs practiced the puppies came out to play. Dot had fun. We might go back tomorrow. Rain needs to go away!!!

Double Double Q

Yesterday in agility Pie and Fancy both double Qed. Fancy is plugging away at Mach 4 and Pie earned QQ number 19. Only one more to go! The videos are posted here:


I forgot to walk the jumpers course! I think I was too busy playing with Dottie. I looked up and the first dogs had already started running the course. So I watched all the dogs before me and luckily it was not a tricky course.

Pie's Jumpers Run. Didn't catch standard on video:

In both Fancy's and Pie's runs my handling fell apart. I was tripping over my own feet, calling out wrong obstacles, forgetting my crosses and just being lame. We got around the courses correctly, but it wasn't pretty. Someday...

After we were done for the day, a bunch of us got together to practice obedience. Thanks Alica, Julie, Carleen and Mike! Some of us have a show next weekend in Ventura, and others were just helping out. Then Fancy, Pie, Dottie, Pickle and Ro played with the tennis ball until tongues were dragging on the ground. Fun for all.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Schutzhund Progress

Last Thursday Pie ran the blinds for the first time. Today she did it again and understood her job much better. She ran the first blind much faster, because she understood she had to get around it to get the bite.

Then we did bark and holds for the first time. Pie has always naturally gotten lower while barking at something she wants. I would think it was a case of not being 100% confident, but she does it even if she is barking at me to throw her tennis ball. Maybe it is a combination of habit, confidence, and just a Pie thing. I'm not worried because she was doing a tiny bit better even after just one session. The first time on the bark and hold she was a bit confused at who to bark at because the helper wasn't moving, which is the purpose of the exercise. The bad guy isn't being threatening, so the dog isn't supposed to bite, just guard. If he had moved, then Pie would have barked and tried to bite. So Pie barked at a sleeve laying on the ground. She barked at me. She barked at the lady helping me. Finally she found the bad guy and barked at him.

The helper/ training director says Pie is biting much better and I can tell even though I am only watching. Pie has never been a super hard tugger and has always been a chomper, or as he called it, corn cobbing. She would rather chew than tug. And I've accidentally made it worse. It is the helper who has fixed her, and I am very happy about that. I'm learning so much. And tonight there was a new guy who is learning to be a helper. So I got to listen to instructions given to him, which gave me an even better and newer understanding of different aspects of training.

I worked Dottie on the pole. I thought I was remembering everything I was told about working the dog on the pole. Move the toy quickly. Let the rope slide through your hands when they pull (rope burn!,) go up the rope to them and pat. Run. Stop. Pet. Run again. But I learned tonight I wasn't being exciting enough during the tugging. And I was so proud I was remembering to let the rope slide through my hands. I guess I thought if I was too exciting it might make her chewy if I pressured her too much or it would mess up her calm hold. But when the lady helping me got in there and played so hard, Dottie did fine and enjoyed it. So much to learn! And on Sunday I'm going to start to learn tracking. Wo hoo!

There is a carting test coming up in April that I would like to enter Pie and Fancy in because they are both ready. But I need to practice. And my priority should be tracking because if I can learn it, then all the dogs could enter the tracking test at the Mal Specialty. But I'd really have to push to get them ready. So I could either not enter the carting test, or enter without brushing up first... The mature thing to do would be to not enter...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good day today. Raining this morning but I planned ahead and brought my running clothes to work anyway in case it stooped. The rain stopped but I was busy and didn't get time to run until a half hour before leaving time. I got out of shape getting injured, then the holidays and time off. I usually don't run unless I'm at work. So I've been doing intervals of 5 min run 3 min walk, repeat 3 times. But since I didn't have much time today, I decided to run for a mile and a half. Which I did. Slowly. 16 minutes and 6 seconds. But still a good run.

After work I took a walk in the hills with Alicia and three of her dogs. I don't know if Dottie is getting used to her dogs, or becoming more appropriate overall, but she was less of a pest towards them. She still bothered them at times, but it was more good than bad. Alica and I practiced obedience for a short time, then I had my private agility student arrive. After that it was puppy class time. The puppies are coming along really nice and today I had them doing a bit more advanced exercises like the figure 8 instead of just heeling in a line. At the end of class I had everyone heel around Pie, which was probably harder for Pie than it was for the pups. We've been working puppy motivational retrieves with toys, but I brought out a dumbell for the first time tonight and we were playing with that.

After class I played with the dumbell and Dottie in the house and she was doing great! She tends to get distracted at places like class and agility shows and does not so great with the retrieve then. Something to work on!

Dottie and Pie were chewing on bones nicely until a moment ago when Dottie abandoned her bone and took Pie's. Usually unless Dottie is kenneled, they cannot both chew on bones at the same time because Dot will constantly take whatever Pie tries to chew on. Pie just moves onto the next bone but then that bad puppy will take that one too. I try to run interference but no luck so far.

This weekend I have an agility show on Saturday, then a tracking day with the Schutzhund club on Sunday and Martin Luther King day off from work on Monday. Might go see Sherlock Holmes. Then I'm having a extra short work week and taking Friday off for a puppy agility seminar in Goleta with Dottie.

Dottie went to her first obedience class on Monday. I'll try to go every other Monday. When we first got there she forgot everything I had taught her, then settled in nicely and was fed an entire pack of hot dogs. But that's what I had to do to keep her focused and under control. I left with a brain fried puppy, a bleeding hand and a painful tooth mark under a thumbnail. She likes her hot dogs that puppy. To clarify, I have trained Dottie lots of other places, including getting some really good instruction at the Schutzhund club, but she's never been in a formal class setting before.

Looking forward to this weekend, but not the rain promised. Will the puppy seminar be canceled? I hope not!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scent Articles

Pie had some trouble learning articles. I tried teaching her the same way I taught Fancy (which is the way I was shown to teach her.) This method is the retrieve method. You place an article on the ground, scent up the second one, and throw it out by the first one, sending the dog right away so they see which one it is you threw. The idea is the dog sees which one you threw out and brings it back, then you add unscented articles, then you hold the dog back after throwing the article, then you turn in a circle after you throw it, and if they are consistently bringing back the correct (scented) article (which they had to smell to find which one you threw) then you stop throwing it and start placing it- at first allowing the dog to watch, then not.

This method worked great for Fancy. She understood right away and progressed through the steps quickly. Pie- not so much. She didn't get the part about bringing back the one I threw, and would charge out and grab which everyone struck her fancy. I had to try all different kinds of things to help her understand, and I am sorry to report there was lots of tension from both parties. I even resorted to using socks rubbed in the kibble bag. I think this helped. Then, when she could bring back a correct tasty sock (bought special for the purpose so I could chuck them in the washing machine when I was done) I started taping the correct article, and moving it around before I sent her, keeping my finger on it until she was close. This also helped. The tossing of the article which worked so well for Fancy just confused Pie, making her think it was a retrieve, which never before involved using her nose.

The point of all this is at some point she got really good. Then she started getting confused again. After getting her UD (she was still good then, luckily!) I only trialed once more, at the Mal Specialty. Sure enough, she brought back the wrong article. Since then, I haven't touched the articles, but we have another show coming up, so I broke them back out, and the problem remains. Pie hates to be wrong and now that she is, it makes her even more frantic, and if she can't find the article, she'll grab one just to bring it back. The question is, why can't she find the correct one. No dog is going to bring back an incorrect article just to "be bad." Why would they? They don't get a reward, and they might get a correction. A dog might refuse to bring any back, or refuse to go out, or get distracted while they are out there, and these things are "bad" but when Pie brings back the wrong article, I know 100% either she thinks it is the right one (which then really upsets her when it isn't) or for some reason she can't find the right one and is afraid to keep looking and afraid to come back empty mouthed. So- why can't she find the right one?

One theory I have is my cans have gotten too smelly and are making it too difficult. Sure, a drug dog can smell drugs through all kinds of other things, and a tracking dog can track a person over rocks based on one footstep that is hours old. But Pie is obviously stressing, and if it isn't easy, that is when she is giving up and grabbing anything. I was using cleaned out soup cans for Pie's metal articles because she clearly indicated she does not like picking up the metal dumbbells. So I switched to the cans and she really likes picking those up. But they are old and have started to rust and have a definite "metal" smell to them. I put the regular metal articles back in and yesterday Pie did the first article correctly and then messed up on the second one, but we kept working and at the end she was getting them all right.

Today I used Fancy's smaller set, which has never been "contaminated" by the cans. The first interesting thing is Pie seemed happier picking up Fancy's smaller set. Maybe because they are so small the sides rest against her muzzle and the metal doesn't slide back and fourth over the teeth? The second interesting thing is she got both article correct! Then I put those to the side and did a second set and she got both of those right too! The last article she took quite a while to find. She kept sniffing the ones around it but not that one. She kept checking and checking and I was sure she was going to give up and grab one, but she kept working and finally happened upon it and brought it back. Jackpot for Pie! That is way Pie used to do articles!

The cans are gone for good. I am thinking of buying a second smaller set for when we do two day shows. Yes, she should pick the one with the best scent. But when she comes across one with my scent, how am I supposed to teach her to check them all and pick the BEST one? I hate tests like that. More than one answer is correct but you have to pick the BEST answer. Yuck.

Our show is in 2 weeks. I plan to keep on practicing and hopefully building her confidence, using the smaller set.

Now I need to get motivated and practice all the other exercises. Since we are going for our UDX we need to practice open also. But Pie has never messed up any individual open exercise. In utility, our hard exercises are the stand for exam (way too excited by the prospect of a stranger petting her) and the gloves because she'll stare at one and go for that one, ignoring my mark. We've practiced go out so much she is good at those now. Plus, the go out training in Schutzhund has helped because I practice that during Schutzhund training. Directed jumping is easy for Pie.

Two weeks. Sigh. Better get busy.
Goodbye cans. It was kind of fun to be different. But showing indoors wasn't fun because they rolled all over the place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fall Fotos

Fancy got an 8th place ribbon in the mail from the AKC for her 8th place finish in the final round of the Invitational. Last time she made the finals we had a mistake just like we did this time. Two years ago they didn't give out ribbons unless you had no mistakes. Therefore, I didn't check this year, but apparently, they were being more generous. I'm glad they mailed it to us!

Pie comes when called.

So does Fancy. She has a fluffy tail.

Dottie also comes. Incoming puppy!

Posing. Best picture. I don't know how Fancy's legs got covered up. Pie cleared a spot in the leaves with her tail.

Digital pictures allow you to delete the bad ones. Or not. What is the puppy eating this time?

The two Mals. With flash.

Without flash. Someday I'll take pictures when the sun helps makes my pictures better, not grainy and faded.

Fancy in a tree. Wondering how she will get out.

I had to use a chair. I helped her up there, but in my defense, I tried to put her in the lower crook, but she misunderstood and went higher than I wanted.

Hair Cut

For those wondering what the new hair cut looks like.
I'm not sure why the coloring is so faded and unflattering. I do know the person taking the picture was pointing the camera at my navel. I'm not familiar with that picture taking technique. Do I still look at the camera, or do I look over the top of it? That might account for my somewhat strained smile. I had to put my "blues" on for a picture at work, so it seemed like a good opportunity to share my new hair cut.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lazy Sunday

The weather was beautiful today. The sun was warm on my skin, but the outside temperature was not uncomfortably hot. Once the wind died down it was perfect.

Here's a recap of my first Sunday in 2010. (I say two thousand ten. None of this twenty ten nonsense for me. Although, like every other American, I did say nineteen eighty one- a good year- so keeping things consistent, I suppose I should say 20 10. After all one thousand nine hundred eight one is just silly.)

Anyway... got up, went to church, got my hair cut short, went grocery shopping, took the dogs for a walk, trained the pup just a little, finished Undead and Unreturnable (mindless entertainment) yesterday so started Steven King Under the Dome today, reading outside. Pup couldn't stop eating whatever she could get her mouth on in the yard- dirt, mushrooms, sticks, who knows? so tried a basket muzzle but that didn't go over well. Weather got cooler, went inside. Reflected Dottie's housetraining seems to have turned a corner for the better. Watched Fancy make ugly faces at Dottie. Did laundry. Reflected that Dottie is settling in the house a bit more. Blogged. Wasted time on Internet. Read more UtD. Blogged again (that would be now.)

The plan for the rest of the Lazy Sunday is to read more UtD (it has 1074 pages and I'm on 143- what can I say, the muzzle incident interrupted my reading- and it is due back to the library in February. )

As I watched Dottie chew on Pie's neck (more time I could have been upping my page count) I realized I could have named Dottie Betsy, after the main character in UDaUW et al. Those who have read the books should consider the similarities and see that I am correct. Plus, for extra points, her name would then be connected to Pie's.

Off to be lazy some more...

Big Bertha

Dottie weighs 38 pounds!!

"Who? Little ol' me?"

Fancy only weighs 26, so I thought Dottie (who is the same height) would be similar. But I forgot Fancy is built like a whippet under that hair. Maybe Dottie will turn out normal sized in the end.

Fancy says SHE would never be so heavy and unlady like, while Pie says, "She weighs HOW much?" Actually, Pie says, "Stop saying Cookies? because I am going to hurt my neck!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas 2009 The Long Version

Christmas 2009 was great. Claire and Laura were here- sadly her husband is deployed.

Our Christmas began with our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at Pizza Hut.

Nana and Laura. So cute!

Kurt, looking snazzy (he took his jacket off to eat) and Claire.

Craig and I. Mom cut off the bunny ears.

Me and Dad. And his Diet Coke.
After dinner we went to the Midnight Mass. I forgot my camera so no pictures.

After Mass I wanted a picture with my dogs, but it didn't go very well. Dottie got a hold of Pie's antlers.

We tortured Molly with the antlers too. Mom had to remind her to hold still.

Poor Roscoe was also subjected to the horror of the antlers.

Next up was Christmas morning! I gave the dogs their present. They enjoyed it, and even shared with the other dogs. I can't figure out how the other dogs are "related" to my dogs. My mom calls my dogs her granddogs, and her dogs are her replacement children, so does that make her dogs my dog's aunt and uncle? I'm confused.

Pie thought it was just the right size for her mouth.

Next up, presents!

Craig liked a book he got.

Kurt like his movie.

The tree. A true masterpiece.

I like my laptop. As this photo so nicely demonstrates. Also notice my new comfy slippers.

Dad also got a good book.

Laura liked her hobby horse. But it didn't fit in the suitcase to go home with her, so it might become a present for my dogs.

So beautiful!

After a delicious (and traditional) breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast, we went on the walk.

Mom and Dad. Most of my pictures didn't turn out since they were taken into the sun. Usually my camera cancels out the sun, but it was having some glitches.

Muddy puppy.

Fancy off in the distance, with Roscoe, Molly, Dad and Dottie. Pie is roaming the hills somewhere.

Molly got impaled by Dottie's stick! Watch out Molly!

Christmas dinner. Sooooo good. Kurt's lady friend Cindy joined us.
I'd say Christmas 2009 was a success!

One of Laura's presents was a self paint bank. Since I gave it to her, I got to help her paint it. Mostly I supervised, but I also set up the water and newspaper. Laura enjoyed it and decided on the "more colors is better" approach. Of which I approve, because what else are you going to do with a pig?
I am always glad I get to spend Christmas with my family.