Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Brief Moment of Fame

SUMMARY: Remington's cast revisited--

Remington made animal-in-a-cast Of The Day for July 14.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

It Sucks or It Soars

SUMMARY: Why some classes I like better than others for some dogs.

Just thought I'd share with you Remington's least favorite class (and a model for my perseverance) and Tika's most favorite class (one that I can really relax at).

Note the Q or n (not Q) history for each.

The single Q for Remington was under time by less than a second. The single non-Q for Tika was a required obstacle that didn't get written down on the scribe sheet, and although I had it on video, the judge said he couldn't use the video as evidence. Oh, well! We got a few more Qs after that anyway.

Remington's Least Favorite Class

PlaceDog qty
USDAAStandard8/18/2001City of IndustryMastersn5
USDAAStandard8/19/2001City of IndustryMastersnE
USDAAStandard8/24/2002City of IndustryMastersnE
USDAAStandard8/25/2002City of IndustryMastersnE

Tika's Most Favorite Class

CPEFull House2/9/2003Elk Grove1LevQ4516
CPEFull House6/8/2003Elk Grove2Levn302
CPEFull House8/10/2003Elk Grove2LevQ3912
CPEFull House11/8/2003Livermore2LevQ4212
CPEFull House1/11/2004Elk Grove3LevQ41-3313
CPEFull House3/27/2004Sunnyvale3LevQ4216
CPEFull House5/8/2004Elk Grove4LevQ4913
CPEFull House6/6/2004Turlock4LevQ4611
CPEFull House6/11/2004Elk Grove5LevQ37-136
CPEFull House10/23/2004Turlock5LevQ41-114
CPEFull House3/12/2005Turlock5LevQ49-233
CPEFull House3/27/2005Sunnyvale5LevQ41-224
CPEFull House5/7/2005Elk GroveCLevQ3512
CPEFull House5/8/2005Elk GroveCLevQ4411
CPEFull House5/21/2005Elk GroveCLevQ3412
CPEFull House7/3/2005Elk GroveCLevQ4812
CPEFull House7/4/2005Elk GroveCLevQ5011
CPEFull House7/23/2005SunnyvaleCLevQ4214
CPEFull House3/11/2006TurlockCLevQ4611
CPEFull House3/25/2006SunnyvaleCLevQ4612
CPEFull House6/2/2006Elk GroveCLevQ3859
CPEFull House6/17/2006MaderaCLevQ35-1113
CPEFull House8/5/2006Elk GroveCLevQ41-111
CPEFull House2/24/2007Elk GroveCLevQ4913
CPEFull House3/10/2007TurlockCLevQ5013
CPEFull House3/24/2007SunnyvaleCLevQ4111
CPEFull House7/21/2007PetalumaCLevQ49-1111
CPEFull House11/23/2007Elk GroveCLevQ5012
CPEFull House11/24/2007Elk GroveCLevQ5313
CPEFull House3/8/2008TurlockCLevQ3511
CPEFull House3/22/2008Twin CreeksCLevQ4623
CPEFull House3/23/2008Twin CreeksCLevQ4614

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Remington's Tricks Repertoire

SUMMARY: A ten-minute video of Remington's tricks.

Remington was my tricks dog. Before I'd ever heard of agility, before I started practicing for competition obedience (in which we never actually competed), it was tricks for us. He was so eager to learn--and so eager to get treats--and I could barely keep up with him. When I learned how to do clicker training, it sped up his learning process even more.

This is not a complete set of behaviors that he'd do on command, but it covers most of them. In my experience, simply executing the tricks is only half of the entertainment value; the rest is how to use the tricks unexpectedly with entertaining verbal patter.

This video was my attempt to quickly capture a dying dog's legacy. At the time, I regretted not having filmed them while he was healthy (but how was I to know? He was only nine), because the whole time I noticed how slow and low-key his responses were, where he usually danced, pranced, and bounced through his routines. A couple of weeks later, he was gone, so I'm glad to have anything at all.

This is the first time I've dared to view the videos. His death has always felt too recent and too raw; I've feared that I'd plunge into a bawling jag and ruin my whole day. It has just recently occurred to me that it has been five years. Five. Years.

So I pulled out the tapes last night and watched the whole hour. I didn't cry once, although a pocket of tears kept tapping me in the gut (what an image, huh?). I did kick myself for not moving those agility jumps out of the way of the cameraman. Where was my sense of artistry? (Probably completely exhausted, as was the rest of me, waiting for Remington's cancer to become irretrievably bad.) Mostly, while watching, I smiled and laughed. So then I sat down with iMovie and put together these highlights. This isn't a Performance as such; it's just an Inventory. But for what it's worth, here it is. (And here's a text list of Rem's tricks.)

(Thanks to my housemate-at-the-time, who offered encouragement in the background, and her teenage son, who did a lovely job of videotaping.)

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Retrospective Photos

SUMMARY: From my collection, one of each dog.

For the Power Paws new years party, Instructor N is gathering photos and video clips from students for a show. These agility photos aren't necessarily the best ones of my dogs, but they are distinctive in one way or another. For this blog, for completeness, I added photos of my first two (preagility) dogs. I have very few photos of them, turns out, and most of them are lying down. Wish I had tons more, but nooo--these are the best photos of the whole dogs.
Amber, my first dog, German Shepherd/Golden Retriever. Here she's about a year old. Got her at 6 weeks; she lived to 13.
Sheba, our Siberian Husky. Came to us at about 6-12 months just after we got married and barely predeceased our marriage (her: 17 years; us: 19).
Remington. He was about 10 months when we adopted him, and 3 when he started agility. I chose this one for the presentation because it shows the whole dog and has me in it, and I realize that it's been almost 5 years since I lost him, so there may be many people who know me but don't remember him. Almost inconceivable that it's been that long--he was just lying on that bed in the corner only yesterday, wasn't it?
This remains one of my favorite photos of Jake, who joined us when he was 6.
Tika, adopted at about a year old. Picked this photo for the presentation because it's the funniest weave photo I've ever seen.
Boost is only the second dog I've had as a real puppy--about 3 months when she came home. I don't have a lot of photos of her doing agility yet, but this surely shows off her teeter speed--although lately she's often been sliding into a slam-down, which is a joy to behold.

(Oh, by the way, here's a photo of Boost's mom, Tala. Nah, there's no family resemblance--)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Comparing Jumpers and Coming Weekend

SUMMARY: Four agility dogs, different results.

My first two agility dogs, Remington and Jake, hardly ever knocked bars. It just wasn't something we ever worried about. Tika knocks bars. Looks like Boost is a bar knocker, too.

Some numbers: Remington's USDAA Starters/Novice record is vague; Jumpers didn't count for anything back then, so all that mattered was placement, which was time plus faults. I didn't track the faults. He placed anywhere from 1st of 13 to 3rd of 5 before he moved up to Advanced, where he quickly Qed in 2 of 4 Jumpers to move up to Masters (things wuz different then).

Then, he often didn't make time. (This was the long period when I was discovering that he slowed down in reaction to my stress.) When I finally figured that out--and how to deal with it--well, he Qed his last four Masters Jumpers in a row after Qing only 2 of the previous 17.

In all those Advanced and Masters runs, he knocked a bar only once, and he was running with someone else at the time.

Jake didn't come to live with me until he already had his novice AD title. With him, so much faster than Remington at the time, my problems were all learning to handle all over again; lots of runouts and refusals. In the 56 Masters and P3 Jumpers that we did, the only knocked bar I have recorded was after he had already run past a jump and then knocked the bar backjumping.

Tika. Well. 21 starters/novice Jumpers before she got a clean one--actually got TWO that same weekend. Then, in advanced, she Qed her second one, and I thought I was on a roll. ...I was, and it was all rapidly downhill. 13 Masters Jumpers until our first clean one, and that's what had held us back from our MAD forever. Then another 7 until our next clean one. Then the legs are sporadic--10 of the next 24. This spring, we got five--FIVE!--in a row, and I thought I was on a roll! Well... you know what happens... downhill again.

The Booster isn't as bad as Tika, but probably only because I'm not making as many handling errors (I hope). She got 1 out of 4 Startes Jumpers; knocked bars (and other problems) in the others.

Has earned only one Advanced Jumpers Q out of 11 tries. That's enough to get us into Masters if we can get that third Standard leg! (2 out of 16 tries so far) ...Two more chances this weekend at TRACS in Woodland.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sad about Remington

SUMMARY: Remington the Squirrelhund -
July 1, 1993 - March 8, 2003


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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Remington Story

SUMMARY: Remington's cancer info on the web finds a long-lost twin

I just got email from another person who lost her dog to hemangiosarcoma, but the twist on this story is that the dog could almost be Rem's long-lost sister. Seeing the photos were jarring--for both of us--but bring back warm if bittersweet memories anyway.

(The quality of my photos also reminds me that I know a lot more about scanning & editing photos for the web now than I did 4 years ago. Maybe someday I'll redo them-- or not--)

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Thursday, December 21, 2006


SUMMARY: Various dogs sing for various reasons.

The late, great Frankie, thinking about his glory days as a torch singer.
RemSing Feb 2003
The late, great Remington singing.

My sister Sharon had an Australian Shepherd, Frankie, who used to throw his head back and howl (sing) whenever anyone sang "Happy Birthday To You!" It was a great trick for calling family (of which Sharon and her then-spouse had huge quantities of) long-distance on their birthdays, just something a little different.

My old pal Remington used to move into a different world when sirens sounded; as though taken over by the spirits of his wolf ancestors, he'd raise his nose to the heavens and a long, thin howl from the depths of his soul emerged as though civilization and his family had vanished from around him, unnoticed. He also howled (sang) but in a more conscious way when he was very happy, and he did it more and more over time as we encouraged him by trying to get him to sing on command.

I have three dogs now who are useless as singers because they just never naturally howl and I know of no way to teach them to "sing" if they don't do it on their own. The only time I've ever heard Tika howl is when she's dreaming (very spooky, wild sound, thin and deep, pulled from an ancient memory, in the depth of the dark night).

The only time I ever heard Jake try to howl was when Remington used to howl at fire engines, and even then he couldn't quite figure it out--he'd put his head back in the right position but then make just really sharp, painfully high-pitched yelp-barks. Since no one else around here howls, I've never seen him try again, the little copy-cat who likes to believe he's really the leader of the pack.

And I've never seen any hint of howling or singing from Boost, although she does often do a little short "oww!" of happiness sometimes when she first gets out of her crate in the morning. Hmmm, something to think about trying to capture--

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dogs and Cancer

SUMMARY: Another sad day.

One agility friend has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Kintla, who is just barely 8 years old. Kintla is a lovely, agile, fast dog for a breed that looks so large and solid. They've done very well together in agility, earning both the USDAA championship (ADCH) and the AKC championship (MACH), which are beyond the reach of many, many dogs. But Katie told me last year that she knew that Kintla was living on borrowed time, because cancer is rife in this breed, that both her parents died young (6 years old, I think), and that the average life expectancy of the breed is only 8 years or so anyway.

I found out a week ago that Kintla's fate has caught up to her and she does, indeed, have cancer--very aggressive, and in her bloodstream, and metastasized to at least one vital organ. Today I found out that Kintla will be put to sleep tomorrow, while she's still bright-eyed and beautiful. She was more than happy to relieve us of our extra dog treats and cheese. But she apparently has trouble even walking and keeping food down, so her quality of life has deteriorated rapidly.

It's always heartbreaking to lose a dog, especially a special one like this one. And it brings back painful memories for all of us who've lost a dog to cancer. Boost's sister's mom and I were alternately fawning over Kintla and crying for our cancer-taken Remington (9 years old) and Morey (a Golden who died at 7).

Goodbye, Kintla.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Goat's Head or Puncture Vine

SUMMARY: In which Ellen muses about how she encountered the vile thorny weed known to some as "goat's head" and to others as "*#@%&!!".

Someone else's story of thorns in dogs' feet reminded me of how I learned about the malevolent entity known commonly as goat's heat or puncture vine (for those riding bicycles across it).

I learned the common name only about a year ago, when the proprietor of WAG out in Elk Grove was enlisting everyone to keep their eyes down for these monstrosities on his site. But I first became truly aware of them 5 years ago. I was driving back from an agility trial in southern california. It's a long drive for the dogs to be cooped up in the car, especially after being largely in their crates all weekend. At most rest stops, it's safe to have them only on leash because they're too close to traffic and other people. But this particular rest stop had a huge open field, mostly dirt, nothing growing in it but very low, ground-hugging weeds, and it was separate from the landscaped areas of the rest stop, and even better, it was surrounded on 3 sides by chain link fence. So I let my two dogs out, threw both their frisbees full force out into the field, and they took off after them like the blazes. And yet--by the time they had reached maybe 60 or 70 feet out, they had both ground to a halt, in obvious agony, looking as if they were trying to lift all four feet off the ground at the same time. My heart went into my throat and I ran out into the field to the nearest dog to see what was the matter.

Horrific multi-spiked thorns about 3/8" wide were wedged into all the pads of all four feet, and we were surrounded by them, so pulling them out there would do me no good, because the instant the dog's foot would go down, another thorn awaited. So I lifted my 35-pound Jake and carried him all the way across the field to the lawn, where I could pull the thorns from his feet, all the while telling Remington in a soothing voice to Stay where he was (not that he really wanted to move, but he was so obviously miserable). Then I went back out and carried my 55-pound Remington back to the lawn and dethorned him--and of course I had no gloves or any other way to protect my own fingers, so my fingers were miserable as well--and then carefully studied the d*** weeds so that I'd never make that mistake again! I felt terrible!

Since then, I've encountered those sons-of-guns in dry, open, low-growth areas out in the central valley and here in Santa Clara County as well.

For more information on what to look out for:
* Photo of the thorns embedded in a tire (scroll down to the photo)
* Photos of the plants, latin name tribulus terrestris
* More info on the plant's origins


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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Ghost of Hemangiosarcoma

Really, I'm going to bed any time now. Earlier today (noon PST, to be exact), I was going to post something, but got this message:

Go figure. We seem to be back now, whatever time they think it is.

So—hemangiosarcoma. That was Remington's fatality. I'm thinking about it again because my housemate asked me (in response to something I said) about missing Remington, and the tears just came, even three years later. Then earlier today I got another random email from my web site's info about hemangiosarcoma, someone else's dog diagnosed and agonizing over what to do. Then later today, my friend whose dog went through hemangiosarcoma at the same time that Remington did wrote to me, not about that, but it was already on my mind. Then this evening, another editor on Wikipedia it turns out lost a dog not long ago, very abruptly, to the killer ("What happened to Sophie Marie").

Anyway, I started thinking about all those dogs out there and all their owners in shock, despair, and grief. And out of all of this, one tiny thing for me, that with all of Remington's information posted on the web, I get email after email from people, like me, bursting with the agony of their own story, wanting to share it, wanting confirmation that they're doing the right thing, whatever that thing might be, and finding some small comfort in Remington's story or some small tidbit of information to help them come to a decision they're comfortable with, or finding another voice in the wilderness who has gone through the same thing that they're enduring or have endured. My thoughts go out to all of them, and although I don't intend to provide a depressing experience, I do want to share some of those people who have reached out to Remington in their times of need or contemplation:
  • Feb 25, 2003: Tess, agility dog, 10; sudden illness, tumor on heart, put to sleep the same day.

  • March 1, 2003: Black Lab, 9 1/2, tumor on spleen diagnosed 2 months ago, gradually getting worse and worse.

  • March 3, 2003: Sydney, breed not specified, tumor removed from elbow, wondering what to do next.

  • March 17, 2003: Maggie, 9; ill, just deciding to try chemo even though prognosis is poor. March 31, Maggie not tolerating chemo well, tumor as large as the heart itself, thinking the end is close.

  • April 7, 2003: Alex, sheltie, 12; sudden coughing fits, tumor on heart, decided not to treat and wait for the right time.

  • May 9, 2003: Cedar, 11, and Zack, 10, golden retrievers, one died last month after 4 months on chemo, one 6 years ago 2 weeks after diagnosis.

  • July 1, 2003: Stacy, cocker spaniel, 13; kidney removed with h. tumor; struggling with what to do next.

  • Sept. 20, 2003: Kai, Boykin spaniel, large tumor on spleen, waiting for surgery and final diagnosis.

  • Jan 15, 2004: Puppy, Lab mix, 8 yrs old, sudden drastic illness, ruptured spleen tumor, put to sleep the same day.

  • Feb 28, 2004: Jose, Bichon, 15; subcutaneous h. removed; waiting for further test results.

  • Jan 11, 2005: Chamois, Golden Retriever, 11; whole story very similar to Rem's and just lost him a month ago.

  • Jan 20, 2005: Sunshine, Golden Retriever, older than 9; just found huge tumor on heart, nearest vet 3 hours away; diagnosis not confirmed h. but indications all match, agonizing over what to do next. Feb 7, decided not to treat, dog passed away at home.

  • April 7, 2005: Spencer, German Shep/Dobie mix, just diagnosed; shocked and looking for information

  • June 7, 2005: Max, Labrador; diagnosed Friday after sudden seizures; put to sleep Monday after reading Rem's site and reassured that being with him at the end was the right thing.

  • June 19, 2005: Sadie Rottweiler/Akita mix, 12; mass on spleen, putting to sleep tomorrow.

  • June 19, 2005: Buddy, Terrier, 14; healthy one day and then sick the next; just had splenectomy but not doing chemo. July 27, seemed to have recovered fine, then suddenly very ill and just had him put to sleep.

  • Aug 9, 2005: Akira, 8, just diagnosed but no symptoms; have decided to let him live it out without surgery or chemo, looking for info that'll help determine when the time has come.

  • Aug 12, 2005: Eddy, female yellow lab, 9; just had splenectomy and starting chemo.

  • Dec 6, 2005: Dog had h. 2 years ago, did surgery & chemo & put to sleep then. After reading Rem's site, reassured that she had done the right thing.

  • Jan. 26, 2006: 10-yr-old, sudden illness, surgery which found tumor on kidney, agonizing over what to do.

All these dogs, so loved. And, as always, all I can think to say is that the fact that they were so loved speaks well of the lives they had. There are so many other dogs out there whose people don't care, or wouldn't notice--or who don't have people. How lucky they all were to live in a place where they were cared for and spoiled in their last days and given a peacful ending with ones they loved.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Squirrels, Rawhides, and Cute Puppies--or not

  • Squirrels: Remington loved to chase squirrels. Tika loves to chase squirrels. Jake has always been interested in them but not obsessive. When I go for a walk with him, he'll speed up a bit until he's putting pressure on the leash, but he won't go wild like Remington did or Tika does. During yesterday's walk, for example, while he was stopped to Do His Business, an S-word ran across the street not too far from him. He watched it, his ears perked up, but he finished the task at hand and continued walking cheerily with me.

    With Remington, I found it to be quite entertaining to associate the word "squirrel" with the animal. It was easy to do. I just used it a lot while he was chasing them. ("Is that a squirrel?" "There's a squirrel!" "It's Mr. Squirrel!" and so on.) So I could always get him to perk up his ears, say for a good photo, by saying "Where's Mr. Squirrel?" or, more familiarly, "Squirrel!" It was a handy trick.

    With Tika, the last thing I want is to get her more excited about something.

    Boost seems to have no interest in squirrels at all, although she watches Tika intently as the older Merle Girl dashes madly after an S-word racing along the top of the fence.

  • The $3 rawhide vs the 60-cent rawhide. And an inbetweenie.
    Rawhide bones:My, what an expensive habit. The tiniest pressed-rawhide chews, which the dogs all seem to prefer to the really cheap rawhides, cost about 60 cents each plus tax at Pet Club. Dogs will go through $2 worth of chews in 5 minutes and then go looking for trouble again. The largest size that I'll get for the dogs runs about $3 at Pet Club, something like $6 at PetCo!

    Tika has sometimes preferred to bury the rawhide, not praise it, then steal one from one of the other dogs. (Et two, Brute dog?) Boost has apparrently also taken this as a general strategy. Sometimes it stays buried for only 10 or 15 minutes, then she can't stand the anticipation any longer and reappears with it to chew it up.

    I don't think I'll get the largest ones for them any more. In theory they last longer. But none of them seem to enjoy chewing them all that much. I gave each of them a large one two days ago. Boost buried hers. Tika just set hers down on the floor and lay near it for a couple of hours before deciding to give it a gnaw. Boost's reappeared eventually but she didn't chew on it. Jake just guarded his.

    The one that Tika chewed on tired her out after a while. Then Jake took it over and chewed for a while. Then Boost took over and chewed for a while. And so on until it was eventually gone, much much later in the day. But as for the other two bonesótwo days later, and now Jake's still guarding them both. No one else seems to care.

    Jake doesn't often chew rawhides any more unless one of the other dogs has started it, in which case he might chew obsessively for hours. But mostly he just carries them around and growls constantly at Boost whenever she makes the mistake of being in the same room, or, say, turns her head in Jake's general direction so he can growl "stop looking at me!"

  • Cute puppies? OK, who said puppies are cute? Step over here and say that after reaching down to give the pup a nice pet and have your hand hit a big patch of something sticky. And then have to clean the puppy of dog excrement for the second time in three days. Yes, indeed, I think my months of prayers have been answeredóBoost has finally stopped eating Tika's poop. Yes, both wedneday and today I had to clean up large flattened pieces of TP from the yard. Gleah.


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Friday, March 05, 2004

One Year

This is it. This is the one-year anniversary of the NADAC trial weekend when Remington died. It's Friday night. I and the three dogs went to bed early so we could get up early to drive to Elk Grove. By morning, I had only two dogs. I'm teary eyed; a little frightened in a superstitious way that I hate in myself; tied in knots.

It's hard to believe it has been an entire year. So much of it is still so fresh. I can still see Remington so clearly.

I am almost as much at a loss for words to frame my feelings and sense of loss as I was then.

We'll be getting up at 4 tomorrow morning to drive out there.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Remmie, Remmie, Remmie

A year ago in Feb., we were up in the Oregon forests at Crystalwood Lodge, Remington feeling worse by the hour, although his first morning there he was absolutely delighted.

Oh, Rem, how I wish I had taken you places to swim! Hope you've found a lovely lake somewhere.


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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Food Cubes Rule

Just bought Casey a Buster Food Cube (Mini). He's such a delicate-behaving dog that the regular-size ones, which Jake has no problem with at all, were not tumbling and rolling for him. He still thinks a lot about the process, about where everyone else is, about what he'll do for his next vacation, about whether the furniture needs rearranging, about the best color scheme for spring fashions, and so on in between pawing or nosing the cube around.

My dogs love these things. They are particularly good for days when I don't have much time to spend with them (because, for example, I'm doing critical activities such as updating their Web site) or it's raining and nasty out so that they're not getting much exercise or stimulation. Jake, Tika, and Remington all work(ed) hard at the cube until the food is gone, so they're typically panting when they're done. At the "easy" distribution setting (which is all I ever use), it takes maybe 5-10 minutes for them to empty the cube.

Jake relies primarily on flinging the cube behind him with one front paw so it tends to crash off of walls and furniture. Not for use when you've got your antique crystal collection set up in the middle of the floor. Remington relied primarily on nudging it gently with his nose to roll it all around the room, using his paw only when he'd get it into a corner. Tika's more the nose type, too, but uses her paws more than Rem did. All find it easier to use on the carpet than on smooth floors. And I prefer lighter or more solid color carpets, because otherwise little bits of food hide in the pattern.

The bonus entertainment value that you get from the food cubes is that little bits of food end up rolling under various piece of furniture and the dogs don't always find them while doing their post-cube room evaluations. Then, hours, days, or weeks later, one of the dogs will go nuts trying to crawl under the couch--or the stove--


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Monday, August 12, 2002

Carson City NADAC/Titles Updates

Backfill: 11/10/02 Dogs had another pretty good weekend this weekend. Both dogs got both gambles (although I must say I thought they were pretty easy compared to many we've been seeing).

Jake missed high in trial by one popped dogwalk, argh. But he now has his S-EGC.

Last time I said how close we were to his O-NATCh, I was actually looking at the points needed for the S-Elite titles. But now that I've got the numbers right--Jake needs only 1 gamble & 5 standard legs for his O-NATCh. Garsh, it's sooo hard to believe! If I had entered him in more standard runs this winter & spring, he'd probably be right in there. :-)

Remington ran fast 5.5 out of 6 runs, despite 98-degree heat in Carson City. Even Qed AND PLACED in both *NADAC* jumpers runs. What a boy! The .5 run was the 3rd run of the day and pretty danged hot--he started out really fast but I screwed up a cross & had to call him off a tunnel he was headed full speed for--he stopped & came back but then just trotted the rest of the course. I guess I don't blame him.

Not only did Rem get both gambles, but he finished 1st and 2nd! (Jake got 1st in both gambles, but I'm starting to expect that of him in NADAC, she says with a wink. )

Have I really improved that much suddenly, or relaxed that much, or have I just hit a flukey run of courses that match my skill level? I guess I just need another 0-qualifier USDAA weekend to bring me back to earth. ...Going to west valley in 2 weeks, so we'll see.

...Hmm, now it occurs to me that Jake must be getting close to his ASCA championship!? I haven't tracked which events were ASCA sanctioned. Hmmmmm..... Something else to plug into the database... We just got so many legs, at least Rem did, before everyone was ASCA sanctioning things, that we're a bit behind the NADAC pace.

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Monday, August 05, 2002

Remington Gets His NATCH

After 6 and a half years, Remington finally got the last Gamblers qualifying score that he needed for his NATCh! (NADAC agility championship for nonagility types... This is somewhat akin to earning a chess master title--accruing points over a period of time at the top level of agility competition.)

[Jake took only 3 years to earn his--so I've been fretting about Rem's, especially since Rem turned 9 on July 1. But he's running better than ever!]

Our first qualifying score ever in agility was a NADAC gambler's leg in January, 1996, so I guess it's somehow fitting that the last leg for the NATCH was also a gambler's leg.

There were 2 chances to get it this weekend. We got saturday's gamble, almost first thing in the morning, which made the rest of the weekend absolutely fun and soooo relaxed! Actually saturday's gamble I thought was pretty easy--both my dogs and at least 1/3 of all Elite dogs got it; sunday's was so hard that only 2 8" dogs got it. Only 2 other dogs made it past the first obstacle on sunday, and Remington was one of those 2--made it thru 3 obst's but missed the last one. So he done good but didn't quite get a "CYA" gamble the 2nd day. Still, I'm proud of getting that far. Even Ron Etherton's World-Famous Infallible Gambling Dogs didn't get that far (! sorry, Ron, but it *never* happens :-) ).

To top it off--
- Out of 8 runs, Jake earned Q's in 6, got 4 1st places & 3 2nd places! (Out of about 9 dogs in his class).
- Out of 6 runs, Rem earned 5 Q's and got a 2nd, a 3rd, and two 4th (he doesn't often place, but he was running fast & happy & paying attention) out of about 12 dogs in his class.

See photo of dogs and awards.

We had to drive allll the way to Eureka for the competition, but it was *perfect* agility weather, and Jackie Drucker got all of our runs on video, and it was a great group of people up there who celebrated our NATCH at the general briefing on Sunday and made a big fuss about it, so it was a lot of fun.

Thanks to everyone who's helped & supported us through all of this! All those encouraging words, plus suggestions & advice on doing gambling, & those folks who took special gambler's lessons with us, and especially Jim Basic who's a great gamblers coach and Nancy & Rachel who've helped Remington and me in sooooo many ways over the last 7 years. :-)


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Thursday, February 07, 2002

Tika Day 17

SUMMARY: Things are going well so far.

Backfill: May 6, 2009
Whew, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up that level of dog journal for long, but I wanted to capture my initial emotions and impressions and experiences.

She is so smart some of the time, too smart some of the time, and a dork on rare occasions.

My dogs are supposed to sit to get their leashes on when they go for a walk. They know this. We've been doing this nearly every day for 3 years (Jake) to 8 years (for Rem), but they almost always circle around and around until I say something, sometimes twice (even "Hey!" will do it). Tika figured it out perfectly. As soon as I head for the leashes, she sits and stays sitting right there. What a superstar!

She's getting a little better on the walks about other dogs. Even though she's still pulling at the leash, I think that lots of exposure to the rest of the world will be what calms her down eventually. She still gets excited when a yard dog starts barking as we go by, but she's manageable. And yesterday a dog passed on the other side of the street, and although she was on the verge of wild, she never went past the point where I couldn't keep walking and just try to manage the tension on the leash, and no screeching (just whining)! So that's improving.

Next we can work on walking without pulling. Another too-smart thing--she's figured out that she can lean into the gentle leader and, if she hesitates just long enough to shake her head, then the tension relaxes and she can lean into it again. So most of the walk she's still leaning into it, but of course not yanking like she does on a plain collar. Why she can't figure out to *not* pull and then not have to shake her head all the time, I don't know!

She's doing good with the stuff we're learning in Rachel's class, although I don't practice nearly often enough. She really recognizes Tika as her name, and is at the moment among the "advanced" students on the recall (Rachel gave 3 of us permission to go on to the next step beyond what we'd been practicing).

Also Rachel taught us a new way of teaching down (at least I wasn't familiar with it), where you kneel and hold the food in front of your knees and call the name--when the dog comes to you and starts trying to nibble at the food, eventually they'll lie down. Then you say "Down" immediately, let them have the food, and praise. When they're going down immediately when they see your hands with the food, you move to step 2, with your hands up to your knees. Then you move up to sitting on a step with the food at yuor ankles, then halfway up your calves, then to your knees. Then you go on from there. Our assignment for next week is to get to step 2. We learned this yesterday, and Tika's already at step 3 and I just didn't want to spend too much "training" time and burn her out.

On the other hand, the other thing we're learning is an under-my-control down, where when you push on the shoulders, the dog is just supposed to go down. The starting step is to pull down on the collar at the same time as pushing back on the shoulders, from a stand at your side. If the dog sits, you've lost the situation and you go stand the dog and try again. First week, rachel said give them a goodie to distract them and, sure enough, when I give Tika a goodie and push/pull, she goes down pretty easily. But without the goodie she stands like a rock or plops instantly into a sit. I keep thinking I must be missing something.

This evening, I had to laugh when I finally realized where we are--almost the instant we're in that position and I give her a goodie, she goes down! So she's learned the behavior to the wrong stimulus! I'll have to give Rachel a call and figure out what to do next.

She does a "shake" very well and a "crawl" moderately well. I haven't really worked on many other tricks yet. Still discovering that we're missing some basic skills that I took for granted. Have had to practice catching a goodie that I toss. She actually (like most dogs) figured it out pretty fast, but we had to take a break from other stuff to practice it.

Then I discovered that she didn't seem to have a clue about tossing a treat--when I made a tossing gesture, she focused on my hand! So I've had to start with a very short toss, and point it out to her, and we're getting better pretty quickly, but I had forgotten that that's kind of an abstract concept for dogs.

She's out of the pen almost all the time I'm here, now, but I have to remember to watch her when she starts wandering. She can find somethng and tear it up in about 30 seconds flat if I get distracted. So far fortunately nothing important, just packing material and trashy stuff. And she mostly doesn't do that if we've had a good play session and/or a meal in recent hours. I don't want her to start associating being in the pen with me being gone, though, so maybe I shd make a point of putting her in when she's just going to be snoozing anyway.

She hasn't been wanting to settle onto her mat in the bedroom unless I put a gate across that corner of the room. i was hoping that she'd get the clue that that's where I'd like her to sleep. She *does* know it's time to settle down, but she settles down in the hallway or somewhere. Because I don't quite trust her yet, I don't want that. So 2 nights ago I moved the mat right next to my bed (makes it tough to get out w/out stepping on her). Sure enough, when I go up to bed, she instantly settles there on the mat.

The DISadvantage is that at 6:00 this morning, I was sound asleep and in the middle of some interesting dream, when a dog stuck her nose into my arm and shoved, saying, "Hey, I just had a GREAT idea! Let's get up NOW!" I said something bitter and undoubtedly wittily ascerbic, and Lo! she settled right back down onto the mat and went back to sleep, thereby disproving my original thought that maybe she had to go potty. So *she* slept for another hour, but I couldn't get comfortable and tossed and turned and finally gave up and got up around 7, which is still a wee bit early for me. So I'm kinda sleepy tonight.

There is *so* much to learn and practice. I've been trying to do more of the stuff from Rachel's class and so for 2 days we haven't practiced our agility--and today when I tried what we'd been doing before, she was oblivious. So that clearly hasn't patterned on her yet.

I have to tell you about Reminton, too. I've always said he was a quick learner & loved to learn, too. But it's been so long since I've taught him anything new, and now he's watching me work with the puppy and me being excited when she does cool stuff. So I thought I really needed something to get excited about with Remington (other than just doing all the same old 40 or 50 tricks). So tonight it occurred to me to try to teach him to go to a "bow" from a Down position instead of from standing. It was a challenge, but within just a few minutes and a few attempts on my part to figure out how to make that connection for him, he was doing it! Probably not very solid yet, and we'll have to practice it some more, but I think that was a big conceptual leap for him. He's so good!

Remington was actually willing to play in the same room as Tika tonight--so I had all 3 of them with their toys. Argh--exhausting--need 3 hands. Tika's slowly coming around to the idea that, in this house, the current play toy for each dog is off limits to the other dogs. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy about that rule, but I'm looking for a peaceful and stress-free environment. Rem will snarl and even jump on her (or any dog) who tries to take a toy, or the only other choice is he completely loses interest and refuses to play. Has always been like that.

Jake doesn't do that, but in every play session, there is one Official Jake Toy and if I or the other dogs try to switch, jake will *not* play with any toy except the original one. He's always been like that, too. When I first got him, I used to take him to the dog park and throw one of the dozens of tennis balls that were always lying around. If he lost track of which one I'd thrown, he would NOT fetch just any old other ball I'd pick up--he had to check every tennis ball in the place until he found the one we had started playing with. And he was always right, too! He'd be good in obedience if I knew how to take advantage of that scent discrimination. Even now, he has several favorite squeaky toys. But if I try to switch from one to the other during play, he will NOT fetch the new one unless I insist forcefully, and even then he'll just drop it, put his ears back, and wait for me to roduct the original toy.

Oh--tonight I introduced Tika to the Food Cube! Went down to the pet store & bought her one. I've been using them for Rem and Jake for about a year and a half and they're great for burning off a few ounces of energy, especially when I've been away most of the day or don't have as much time to spend with them. She figured it out in just a few minutes and was rolling and pushing and pawing it aroudn to get the food out like an old pro. Rem learned moderately quickly, but he already knew the "nudge" command (push something with your nose), and that's how he originally learned, with my commands; Jake was a little slower I think--maybe I've got the speed backwards--although still within a couple of sessions he was pretty good at it.

Tika did decide that using the dog door was a good thing after all and for several days now has been going in and out sometimes on her own. Still not sure that I competely trust her to potty herself, so I still take her out occasionally, but she's not misbehaving at the fence near the neighbor's dog much at all.

So it's going well at the moment.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2002

New Dog Day 8

Backfill: Nov 16 '03 For 2 days now I've taken just the short .7-mile walk because I didn't want all that pulling. Of course I *know* that I shouldn't be walking her for long distances every day & allowing her to develop more bad habits before I spend time training her, but she sure needs the added energy-spending and I just don't have time to always do separate activities for her & the other dogs. That's part of the commitment, and actually would probably be even worse for a young puppy.

Today was better; she got excited when we walked past yards with other barking dogs but not frantic. We didn't pass dogs on the other side of the street, so I didn't have to deal with that.

I happened to be near the living room while she was wandering loose, and the mailman came. Jake started woofing, and she popped her front paws up on the windowsill and--just looked! I praised her like crazy, petted her, told her what a good girl she was the whole time the mailman was there & she was just looking. So there's hope-- If I can keep my dogs quieter, especially. (Actually this has been good because Rem & Jake have been barking more than I'd like before Tiki/Tika/Pika/Tikki came home, so I'm working harder on making them think about barking.

There wasn't much new today--I'm desperately trying to put in hours on a project so I didn't play quite as much with the dogs. Remington's feeling neglected, but Wed. is agility nite, so maybe he'll last until then. I left Tika out of her pen for 2 hours starting at 8pm while I concentrated real hard on the computer, and she was a very good girl--she got her rawhide bone that gina gave her & gnawed quietly on it almost the whole time.

She gets distracted from her toys pretty easily. Jake and Rem have always had their own toys that they preferred, but on many occasions (especially if they were new toys) they just lurked around waiting to steal the other dog's toy. Tika *always* wants what the other dog has. Doesn't matter if I give her a toy first and then Jake, or first Jake and then her, she wants Jake's. Doesn't matter if they're identical (e.g., tennis balls). She wants Jake's. Mostly she'll keep bringing back the toy I throw for her, but sometimes not & then I have to keep her away from the other dog while I go get her toy. As soon as I get it & throw it again, she comes back to it, so it's not like Remington was/is.

Jake is getting additional play sessions a day beyond what he usually gets (although usually it's just him playing and now I'm splitting the time with Tikki), so overall I think he's pleased.

Rem has sniffed at her occasionally the last couple or 2 days without his lip rising, and he doesn't seem to mind when she follows him around the yard, but he still lands on her with a big snarl if she gets in the way at the wrong time, like pushing between him & me when I was putting food into the bowls. I've still seen no sign from her of pushing back on the boys, although she's still young. I just have wondered for a long time whether Jake has shaped Remington's understanding of how to interact with other dogs, and whether now my boys will shape her understanding in an unfavorable way. I just don't manage to get out with my agility friends & let the dogs socialize/play in a "normal" way.

Today--no running & whining along the fence by the dog, no barking (i can't remember any except just after I'd been gone for 5 hours, got home & let her out, and everyone was jumping & dancing around & she barked "wow!" a couple of times at me with a big grin. No shrieking about other dogs.

And she's going thru that tunnel in the yard so much now on her own, and leaping over the 12" jumps as she runs around.

In all, it was a good day.

I'm really realizing how helpful it is to have trained dogs around. She really does imitate them easily in places where they are well-behaved--like not rushing out thru an open door, or sitting while all the leashes are put on, or staying in place while the food bowls are put on the floor. She's smart & would learn on her own, but I'm positive she's picking up the behavior from the boys in lots of cases.

Still havne't firmed up a name and am still playing around with Pika/Tika/Tiki/Tikki. The latter as in Rikki Tikki Tavi--I think I thought of that as she was once again making the rounds of everything in the house. It's been 8 days and she still sticks her nose into every corner, onto every piece of paper, every crevice & crack, every edge & box & chair leg. And in the yard, when she's not playing like crazy, she's checking out every piece of grass, every leaf on the shrubs, every corner of concrete. So Rikki Tikki Tavi was a mongoose, but the descriptions seem apt--"It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a [mongoose], because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity....'There are more things to find out about in this house,' he said to himself, 'Than all my family could find out in all their lives.'... He spent all that day roaming over the house. He nearly drowned himself in the bath-tubs, put his nose into the ink on a writing table...and climbed up on the big man's lap to see how writing was done....Then Rikki-tikki went out into the garden to see what was to be seen....'This is a spendid hunting-ground," he said, and he scuttled up & down the garden, snuffing here & there..."

Anyway, enough, I'll settle on a name when I decide for sure, but today I'm thinking she's a good thing.

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Sunday, January 27, 2002

New Dog Day 6

Backfill: Nov 16 '03 Remington finally did his happy-to-be-alive morning upsidedown-dog thing on the bed this morning, first time since she's been here.

This morning I ground down Rem's front toenails, combed jake, & combed her a little bit. The fur around her thighs is looking kinda clumpy like Sheba (my husky) used to get when she needed combing. Coat is definitely different from husky's, though--maybe harsher or wirier or stiffer or kinkier or something. Did get a bunch of fur out but she started getting restless so I waited for a settled moment, praised her, & played for a while. Actually she was very good about the whole thing. Clearly a dog who's been brushed & combed & knows mostly how to behave.

I've somehow broken 3 fingernails since she arrived Tuesday. Not even sure how, but it's always after I've spent time wth her. Today it was sometime during our walk.

At least I got my 1.3-mile loop walk in today. She tests the Gentle Leader constantly, so it's not exactly a relaxing stroll, but it's manageable.

She actually almost stayed in place the whole time I was handing out breakfasts this morning. Have to keep pushing her back when I'm in the food bin, though.

Now it's 11AM & time to get some work done.

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Saturday, January 26, 2002

New Dog Day 5

Backfill: Nov 16 '03 I had a Bay Team meeting in Hayward at an IHOP, so I couldn't take the dogs. Realized I had never asked Gina how long Pika (I think I still like that the best, after trying Agate for a day & Kai/Coy for a while) could stay in the crate. She did #1 and #2 when I first got up, 6:30 a.m. Gave them breakfast just before I left at 8:15, and she did #1 again. I hope it'll be 45 mins to drive up, 1 hr board mtg, 1.5 hrs regular meeting, 45 minutes to drive back, half an hour to see Jim's new house, for 4.5 hours.

But the meetings aren't over til 12:10 (now 40 minutes behind schedule), and when I get to Jim's old place, he wanted to load up some stuff to move to his new place, and he has helped me so much in the last year that I didn't want to say no. By the time stuff was loaded, it was 2:15, so it's been 6 hrs already and 30 minute drive to my house still. So I went straight home--she was fine, but she peed within seconds after hitting the grass--a lot--and pooped shortly thereafter. So 6.5 hours is doable but probably not a kind thing & something I'd rather not do except under dire circumstances.

Took all 3 dogs with me back to Jim's new place. Because the van was filled with Jim's boxes, I put her in the front seat with an extra dog harness/seatbelt--and she was fine. Didn't fight it at all; mostly lay down on the seat, although she sat up & watched thru the window for a little while with rapt attention.

She was delighted to make Jim's acquaintance. The dogs explored all over the 2-story condo while I got the tour & jim unloaded his stuff. Jake & Rem kept jumping back into their seats in the car, maybe hoping we could make a quick getaway while the girl was still in the house somewhere. (But they love going places anyway, so maybe it was just coincidence--and the car isn't often in the garage where they can get at it easily.)

She picks up everything that's on the floor. I was concerned about that, of course, because I remember Remington picking up everything (gravel, fuzz, shoes, whatever) and right now I have stuff all over the place. And she's fast--I've been trying to let her wander loose while I'm doing stuff that doesn't require my rapt attention, and she's never out of my sight long and I can hear her moving around, but then I'll find a magazine or a ruler or something that was in one of my "still moving in" piles moved somewhere else. So I certainly can't leav her alone in the house unattended yet while I'm gone.

Measured her, she's roughly 22" at the shoulder. Still 2" shorter than Rem, but it's possible she could grow more.

I decided I'd start trying to teach her some tricks. Either someone has already taught her "shake" and "crawl," or she's one of the most annoyingly fast dogs I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Even Rem, who learned so fast it blew me away, wasn't this fast. I'll have to remember to ask Gina about tricks.

Whenever she wasn't in the crate the rest of the afternoon & evening, she never settled down, just walked around & around & picked things up & played with a toy or a bone for 20 seconds & went on to something else. I'm hoping that's only because she was in the crate for so long earlier in the day. I played with her til she looked like she wanted to quit at least 3 times. That's a lot of work for me! Jake will play forever, but he's always been primarily interested in chasing something & bringing it back, which requires time but not a lot of effort on my part. And when I'm not playing with him, he'll find a bone and chew on it for hours. (Or lick his paws obsessively--not something I encourage, but I suppose gnawing on a bone gets old after a while.) So maybe she's a little young to stay focused one one thing like that.

The first couple of days she'd go to her crate & get the big rawhide bone that Gina provided and gnaw on that for a while, but today she didn't seem that interested. Jake has been sneaking in while he thought none of us were looking & stealing it to gnaw on for a while himself. She'll still chew on it when she's confined.

Rem's the one who won't play when she's around. Two days ago he had his favorite giant squirrel out, and got tired of playing with it (typical) but was lying in the living room with his front feet kind of on it. Pika decided she wanted it and kept going in his direction & looking hopefully at it, despite that I kept pulling her away & trying to distract her with a furry crab. When she actually stuck her nose down in there, he snarled at her. I pulled her away again, but then Rem slunk away from the squirrel and he hasn't been willing to play with it since, whehter she's there or not. But he will play with other toys when she's in her crate (but not when she's loose, even if she's kept out of the room with a baby gate).

She's still occasionally shaking her head like an ear is bothering her. Can't tell which. I used ear cleaner Friday afternoon (or was it earlier today? things are starting to run together--), which she mostly sat still for, for which I'm grateful. But it doesn't seem to have helped. Now I have to wait til Monday to call my vet.

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Friday, January 25, 2002

New Dog Day 4

Backfill: Nov 16 '03She figured out how to use the dog door. Dang. I let her wander loose while I was eating breakfast. She took every bone & all the toys (but none of the tennis balls--curious--) out of the toy basket, played with each a bit, wandered around & around, finally stuck her nose cautiously thru the dog door to sniff, smelled something interesting, and just walked thru. Coming back thru, she changed her mind halfway and got kinda caught, so I thought that might have scared her into not using it, but no such luck. So now I do have to keep her in her crate when I can't watch her to avoid developing bad habits in the back yard.

That first time out the door, I waited a minute or 2 to see whether she'd come back in. She didn't, but she did bark at something. When I dashed out to the backyard, in just that minute or 2 she had found a piece of foam rubber packing material & chewed it to tiny pieces on the lawn. Puppies! Yikes.

She really laid into the yard guys when they came in this morning. Pretty scary--she was barking with every ounce of energy & warning in her body, and they were understandably worried. I went right up to them, shook their hands, and fortunately they're friendly to dogs so she sniffed them cautiously at first, but then accepted that they were there. I need to remember this for Friday mornings, at least for a while-- I hadn't intended for her to be out--I left her in the house & went out with the other dogs when I heard them arrive--hadn't yet confirmed that she really understood the doggie door, but apparently she did because she was right behind me.

Still don't know what to do about a name. Thinking about Gina's comment about getting Sav. a tutu because of how she stands up on her hind legs, I started looking up ballet terms & people. "Tutu" is too froofy; "toot" seems just silly. Can't find any terms or names that are short & sharp. Found name of recent star ballerina, Lucia something, and a more italian-sounding LOOTCHah seemed good at first, but as the day wears on & I try it out more, I like it less and less. I don't even know how I'd spell it--Lucca? Lutcha? neh--

She's barking more at more things today. Aiks. Need to get a couple more small spray bottles for bitter apple so I've got one at hand in various places. Don't really want to carry one around in my pocket, although I might have to if it gets too bad.

Tried going to the park off Cottle this morning. Thought I'd toss the frisbee for jake, let Rem run, & practice with Sav. on her gentle leader with treats. Disaster. After trying to walk with her on the lead, giving her goodies, keep her from getting tangled or pulling, trying to pick up jake's frisbee & throw it, keep her away from jake & the frisbee---I ended up just standing still in one place. She leaped for the frisbee once when jake was bringing it back, and a very brief fight ensued--not sure whether she'd have backed off quicker if I hadn't been tangled in the leash & her with her Gentle Leader on-- Rem wasn't Coming at all until the 2nd or 3rd try--he's marginal, I know it, but this seemed espeically bad. She wanted to grab or chase the frisbee every time I tried throwing it for Jake, and Jake kept wandering off & dropping the frisbee in random places while I tried to get her untangled & give her some goodies & practice, so altogether it was not a good thing. So I guess if I do the park again, she'll just have to stay in the crate in the car, at least until she's got more training under her belt.

Can't practice rachel's recall very well until I've picked a name for her, 'cause it uses the dog's name heavily. Arg.

She's barking even more at things today.

Jake is willing to chase a squeaky almost all the time now, although he still gets turned off suddenly if she makes the wrong kind fo move. Actually plaed with both him & her simultaneously in the yard & in the house briefly today. Rem didn't attempt upsidedowndog this morning, but he seems to be relaxing more and more. Although both he & Jake have been sleeping really close to me at my desk rather than in their bed & chair (except in the a.m. while I'm having breakfast, Rem dozes in his bed, which is what he usually does, and doesn't seem too bothered that it's next to her x-pen (with the "wall" in-between)).

Tried some really simple agility during playtime today. Set the bars on a couple of jumps first at an angle at 8" on one side, and threw the ball over them. She did fine, so I set them evenly at 8". She knocked them maybe twice, but i was starting her really close to the jumps, too, so she might not have had room. She never even looked twice at them. (I've been throwing the ball thru the uprights with no bars for 3 days; don't know whether that made any difference.) Also squished one tunnel down to about 4' long, lined her up, threw the ball thru, and she went right after it. Never hesitated or tried to go around at all, and I must've had her at least a foot or 2 back from the opening to give me room to throw the ball. This could be good.

I've ordered that adjustable base for my teeter totter that I wanted originally when jim just ordered a standard base. So now I can work with her and remington at the same time with lowered teeter. That had been working well in the old yard with a board over a log for Rem; he was really starting to run and slam it down, but then I moved out & that was over a year ago, and he's just as slow now on the regular teeter as before.

It's now 4:30 PM and I've done 0 hours of billable work all day. Somehow her addition to the household sucks up hours every which way. Still waffling on whether to hang onto her. She is a big girl, but light boned. She's a cuddler, but oh that bark--

6:00 just talked to Gina. I've been thinking about "Agate" as a name or going back to Pika despite Gail & Derede. Had put "Coyote," or "Coy" (pronoounced Ki) for short, on my list of possibilities. Now Gina says (without me telling her about Coyote first) that she'd been thinking about Kai, which is Hawaiian for ocean, which would be good for a blue merle. Sounds just like "Coy" in coyote. Hm.

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Monday, January 21, 2002

More on the Possible Dog

Backfill: Nov 16 '03 Response from a friend:
okay I had a look - she sounds really nice! Being a "she" will be a nice change, I think you'll find, getting-along-wise. I don't know what to say if it isn't love at first sight. You've been looking at an awful lot of dogs, and, like houses, I think you know what's out there and how often it comes around, and what you like. I'd say if you like her, then it's a good choice. Anyway now I think you're a different persom, a more choosy person with specific goals (performance and around-the-house), so that you'll never be doubt free like you used to be when picking Rem. Not that Rem was a hasty or ill-thought-out choice - it's just that when you got Rem, you knew he would be doing obed and tricks, you didn't know about agility and that brings a whole nother dimension to the choice. The fact that you're making this decision without consulting a partner might also leave you more subject to doubt. But trust yourself: you have a very good instinct when it comes to dogs!

I can't wait to hear - this _is_ very exciting - a PUPPY omigosh!

Ellen continues:

I called Rachel earlier, because I had talked to her a few months back about advice for getting a new dog. She strongly suggested a real puppy (not a mostly grown one) if I wanted to raise a truly awesome agility dog--but she also understands I want a mixed breed. (Really weird--I just don't see many ads for mixes in the paper. I wonder where all those half-grown mixed breed dogs come from? All the friends & neighbors take the puppies because they're cute, and then somewhere down the road they realize they're not what they want? I dunno--)

ANYway, she said kinda the same thing that you just did (see, you're as much of an expert! :-) ), which is that with Rem I didn't have these grand expectations, and now I do, and so it'll be harder. She talked about the levels of choices she went thru with her various dogs & how high her expectations for herself & her dogs--and how hard it has gotten making a choice--have become over time. That was kinda reassuring.....I think.

I've left a message for Gina to say let's take the next step.

I just went thru my online journal of when I got remington, & it's both funny & scary. My quote back then was something about being torn between Gee This Is Great and What Have I Done????

I'm really starting to think now about the comfortable life we've got--the long off-leash walks we take in the park, and leaving the dogs alone & free-range during the day in the house & yard, and snuggling on the couch with one on either side, and...

Yeah, things'll be different. And, as I discovered with Rem, fixing some of the challenges with a large dog is a lot harder than with a very young, small pup.

And actually I didn't know I was going to be doing tricks when I got Rem--he just kinda forced me into it!

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Monday, August 01, 1994

Remington Learns Tricks and Obedience

SUMMARY: He's mostly a good boy.

Backfill: Oct 22, 2007
Remington's training is going great. If you'da aksed me on Saturday, I'd have moaned and beaten my head on the nearest concrete block. Consistent, you know?

He's pretty good on basic stuff in the driveway when it's just me & him. (Add Jim or other friends and it goes to heck.) So I decided that he needs more distractions to practice with.

There's an AnJan Pet Supply about a 5-minute walk from here, so last week I started taking him down to their parking lot every day. Lots of distractions! Of course, to him, someone driving by is a Major Totally Awesome Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity to See Something Really Interesting. Let alone people opening and closing car doors and walking by in the distance.

Other dogs are yet another level higher in Fascination Quotient.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday it was like he'd never been on a leash before and as though "Sit" had suddenly been translated to Swahili. Or maybe Martian. I was very discouraged.

We took a break from going there on Sunday, and this morning when we went, he was a *sweetheart*!

We've been learning tricks gradually, too; he learned "Shake" in about 2 shakes. Easiest thing I've EVER taught a dog! He loves it-- "Gee, all I have to do is lift my foot, which I'd probably do anyway, and I get FOOD! Good deal!"--as opposed to having to actually WORK for goodies in things like balancing the goodie on the nose, crawling across the floor, or begging--all of which he's making progress on but is still a bit wimpy at. (Actually goodie-on-the-nose showed great improvement over the weekend--finally!--we've been working on it for 2 months!)

Anyway, I'm still doing a lot more than we've covered in class, but it's great to have Pam's experience and suggestions for things that are giving us trouble.

SHE thinks Remington learns things REALLY QUICKLY--that's because he is on his absolutely best behavior (now) in class so that he can impress the Babes. Little does she know what devils possess him after we leave--

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Tuesday, July 19, 1994

Dogs Who Tug On Leashes

SUMMARY: Remington tugs on the leash.

Backfill: Oct 22, 2007
I am so distracted by Remington. I haven't been enjoying walks nearly so much lately because it's constant tug-tug-tug-tug and I'm so tired and so sore by the time I'm done with the walk, and so distracted from full attention on the conversation, that I just don't want to DO it any more.

So I've been on the verge of not wanting to walk at ALL (because it's nice to take the dogs out because it keeps them entertained so they're not tearing up the house or whatever but it's not fun to take Mr. R out so screw it anyway).

Fortunately, this turn-and-quick-tug bit is really actually showing improvement in Mr. R, and I can work up a sweat but I'm not pulling my shoulder & neck out like i have been constantly (and he's not choking thru half the walk).

So now I want to get him straightened out so he's not pulling on the leash or getting in the way so I trip over him, and I have hopes now that it's actually do-able, and in a fairly short time span, even.

Thanks for your help this afternoon; I know that this isn't much fun for you or Jim (although tonight I'm going to ask Jim to take Remington while I take sheba). The problem with Remington is that when I take him out in the morning with just the 2 of us, he's BEAUTIFULLY behaved on the leash! And if I take him and sheba, he's not that bad (although it's hard to correct him with 2 dogs on my arm). It's only when sheba & someone else are out with us that he really starts being the tough dog, so I can't teach him the right way to walk without getting someone else involved.

Little twerp.

Anyway, it is hard for me to concentrate on other things with this in my head all the time.

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Wednesday, June 29, 1994

Crates and Remington the Half-way Dog

SUMMARY: No crate for Remington; stopping halfway

Backfill: Oct 22, 2007
Didn't buy a crate, although I've pondered it many times. What we did with sheba way back when was to install a dog run--essentially a wire between 2 trees with a pully and a leash attached, so she had about 30 linear feet by about 6 feet that she could move around in.

Unfortunately one of the trees we used for sheba is no longer there, so we'd have to construct some other way to fasten the other end of the wire. No easy answers anywhere...

Remington is learning ever so slowly. He heels pretty good now--in the driveway! The real world is still FAR too distracting. Obedience class starts July 11 and i can hardly wait. He also has this quirky way of doing things HALFway that I've never seen with any other dog. When he sits, he gets halfway down--and stops. When he lies down, he gets halfway down--and stops. Looks pretty stupid, and I've told him so, but I think he just forgets what he's doing. (REALLY short short-term memory.)

So we keep working.

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Monday, June 06, 1994

I Really Hate Dogs

Backfill: Oct 20 '05

I hadn't forgotten how much energy a puppy has--Amber would go and go and go until i thought I'd die, and i got her at 7 weeks or so. And the housebreaking was exhausting.

The thing i had forgotten was that when I got amber i didn't own anything hardly, had no garage or yard (lived in a townhouse) and so although she was sometimes destructive, there was very little for her to get at and it was pretty easy to remove everything except the furniture from her reach.

Now we have so much stuff in the house, the garage (which doesn't have a door), and the yard, that it has nowhere to go except where it already is. There's SO MUCH for him to get into and every time we think we've plugged one leak another appears.

He's fine if i spend a couple of hours with him, making him play HARD, before I leave the house. But I don't always have the time to do that, and then he's got energy left over and I never know what I'll find when i get home.

Or, like saturday night, he was so zonked when we left that he was falling asleep sitting up--but we had dinner and a play, so were gone for 7 hours, (and left early w/out after-play snacks) which was too much time for him alone.

I told him yesterday as he was following me around cheerily watching me pick up from the night before, "Remington, in a year we'll look back on this and laugh."

Then it occurred to me that if it's as long as a year, i'm going to kill myself first.

It is MUCH harder training the dog when it's already 50 lbs. when it arrives! 7-week-olds are so much easier to confine, to move things out of reach, or to barricade against.


Then when i sat down outside, exhausted, to read the paper in the sun, he crawled half onto my lap and snuggled right up to me and sighed contentedly and it was so WONDERFUL to have him there.

I really hate dogs.

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Remington...and Sheba...

Backfill: Oct 20 '05
I might take up axe-murdering if that darn dog doesn't
stop tearing my life apart. Grrr...

Did i ever tell you that i hate dogs? And especially puppies?

Sheba has pretty much written him off. She's just really too old for
a puppy. She mostly sleeps; they say that dogs sleep 14-16 hours a
day but I think she's got it up to about 22, with breaks for walks
and sometimes eating and visiting the back 40 for important personal
business. Although i'm beginning to suspect that she's really awake
most of the time and keeping an eye on us--and him--just in case we
try to sneak out for a walk without her.

We haven't had the dog-on-the-table trick recently; thought we had
taken care of the what's-on-the-kitchen-counter trick until jim lost
a ham sandwich when he turned his back the other day.

Sheba hates water, hates baths. We went walking down along los gatos
creek yesterday, where the water is kind of green and rancid, and it
was a warm day, and her tongue was hanging out about 40 inches, and
she just plunged right in and stood there looking at us. Not that we
care that her coat is like a sponge and doesn't dry for 3 or 4 hours
and we had to take her home in an upholstered car.

Dogs and dirty water have this magnetic attraction somewhat stronger
than buttered bread and a dirty floor.

Remington has been occasionally pondering our squirrels and
investigating whether it is possible for dogs to climb trees.
However, up until yesterday, his little pea brain figured that once
he couldn't see the squirrel any more (e.g., if it was sitting still
on a branch), that it had ceased to exist in this known universe and
he could go back to pushing his milk carton around on the driveway.

However, today for some reason he has Discovered Squirrels. They don't disappear--they actually are sitting up on the branches and leaping from tree to tree and running across the roof from one side of the house to the other and zipping along the tops of the fences. Quite a glorious discovery! He's been out there for 2 hours, racing madly from one corner of the yard to the other, trying to keep up with them, and, when he loses them momentarily, standing with his nose pointed almost straight up in the air, waiting for them to give another hint as to where they've gone.

I'm not convinced that they aren't leading him on! They sit up on their branches with this little twinkle in their eyes, watching him watch them.

And, in the evil mother tradition, i've been scolding him severely
whenever he's started barking at them. How CAN he communicate with
them if i make him shut up?

Other training is going slowly.

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Tuesday, May 17, 1994

How I Carefully Chose the Dog--And the Results

Backfill: Oct 20 '05
Have been doing all kinds of research on what kind of dog i might want to try this time around. Hadn't decided for sure, but thought that maybe an australian shepherd or border collie would be neat.

Waffling on whether to get a puppy again (like Amber was) because they're SOOOO CUUUUTE and you can mold them from day 1; or an adult again (like Sheba was) because you bypass all the destructiveness and frantic training.

Jim was inclined to get a dog from the shelter or an animal rescue place again rather than to find a puppy in the paper. (If we HAD to get a dog; he was pretty sure Sheba wouldn't be happy about it and maybe we should wait til Sheba wasn't around any more.)

Told Jim that when we got back from Hawaii it would be time for ME to have another dog because i couldn't bear to have an empty house when Sheba goes to the great goodie cabinet in the sky. Got back on May 2 and was sick for a week (hate when that happens) and have been trying to catch up ever since, so I wasn't going out of my way to look for a dog.

On Saturday, we had a coupon for dogfood at a different pet-supply store than we usally go to. Turns out when we got there that it's an anniversary celebration & they're having Events and one of the events was the Nike Animal Rescue Foundation being there with all of their adoptable dogs.

We wandered thru, looking & petting & asking questions, and then there in the last cage was a dog that looked a LOT like Amber (who died 2 yrs ago).

So much for all the research & everything.

His name is Remington; he's 9 months old. Appears to be housebroken (we've only had one accident, and that was the 1st day, and I caught him in the act; I'm keeping my fingers crossed). He's half shepherd and half lab (maybe); Amber was half shepherd and half golden retriever, so it could be the same thing here. He's for sure still a puppy, but on the teenage side: pretty much full-grown but really gangly and still a
bit awkward; loves to pick things up & chew on them.

Understands "no" and "drop it" really well. (Thank goodness! I remember with Amber as a 7-week-old pup that she didn't have a clue about "No"-- "Hmm," she'd be thinking to herself, looking at me with that puzzled expression. "Mom made this loud obnoxious noise at me. Wonder what it means? Oh well, think about it later," and she'd go right back to what she had been doing.)

Doesn't know much of anything else, although we're making rapid progress on "Sit." The nightmare is yet to begin, I'm sure. He really wants us to be around him; he hasn't been alone in the house yet. He's somewhat upset when we first go to bed (we keep him out of the bedroom for allergy & flea reasons) but has been sleeping the night thru just fine.

This morning I left him alone downstairs while i went up to get dressed & curl my hair--and everything was quiet. I thought "How wonderful! He's already getting used to me being up here without him! After only 3 days!" Foolish me.

Because then there came the clang of glass hitting tile floor and a crash of other debris. I rushed downstairs--

So when was the last time YOU saw a 50-pound dog standing on the dining table?

We both have a lot to learn.

And Sheba is NOT a happy camper, although I think she's doing a little better every day. I'm pretty sure that we'll all survive this.

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Sunday, May 15, 1994

We Got A New Dog

Backfill: Oct 20 '05
We got a dog. Quite by accident. Went to buy dogfood (for Sheba) and
the Nike Animal Rescue Foundation (Narf! Narf!) was all set up in their
parking lot with the most desirable batch of dogs you've ever seen in
your life. Looked at a lot of border collie and/or australian shepherd
mixes, but when I saw the one that looked a lot like Amber, he made the
others kind of wash out.

Remington is 8 months old (sort of a compromise between a puppy and an
adult); he looks a lot like Amber--claims to be a shepherd/lab mix,
where Amber was shepherd/retriever--but he's got a Don Johnson two-day
shadow, which Amber didn't. I wanted to call him Donjohnson, but he
was already Remington and Jim liked that better, so Remington he'll stay.

Not clear whether he's housebroken (that's a story with a long
background that I'll generously omit for now), but I've been taking him
out back on a regular basis and he does his thing very nicely. Only one
puddle so far in the wrong place and I caught him in process, so we
might get lucky.

No other training that I can tell, although he doesn't fight the leash
like a never-leashed dog would.

Loves to cuddle. Learned to use the doggie door very quickly after his
first view of Sheba passing through it froze him to the spot in
astonishment. (Amber never really learned to use it comfortably even
after 10 years.)

He's zonked out on the floor next to me.

He really likes Jim (I'm just an acceptable substitute when Jim's out of
reach ) and loves to play ball & chase & tug-of-war, all of
those things that Sheba never did.

And Sheba seems to be adjusting as well as one can expect.

(Sorry, Barry, no poodle this time!)

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