November 9, 2008

On Friday, Malcolm, Kaylee and I loaded up and headed out to Weatherford, Texas, to visit my friend Bethany (of TexSun collies) and her collies. Bethany raised Kaylee for the first 15 months of her life and did all of her basic socialization and house manners-type work. Kaylee is always very glad to see her again. We played around with some focus work with her youngest dog, Tess, and taught Tess to run through a ground-mounted hoop (she’s not old enough to do much jumping with, but hoops can work on distance control and going THROUGH the jump standards instead of around them. Bethany and I had lunch at Cracker Barrel, so she got a chance to see Kaylee working in public, and ran some errands for her mom. Mal had a great time playing with Peek, one of her dogs, and overall, we had a great time. More news from that later. 😛


It’s been a busy day! (Lucky readers!)

June 22, 2008

A tricolor rough collie (Kaylee) wearing a green service dog vest and sitting on a sidewalkAfter getting back from my midnight training session with Mal (see previous entry :P), I came back here and took a nap, only to be awoken around 2:30. Lindsay found out about the Summer Balloon Classic about 40 minutes south of Dallas in Midlothian. While her SDIT, Caden, wasn’t quite ready for the high-distraction atmosphere (he’s a month younger and significantly more exuberant than Kaylee) of a busy festival, but she felt like it’d be a good training trip for Kaylee.  So we headed out around 4:30 hoping to make the 6:30 “Mass Ascension” of the balloons. We got there around 5:15 and waited in quite a long line for parking- we managed to get a spot in the last row or two before they started directing people to the overflow parking almost half a mile away. (I’m glad we got there when we did!) There would be pictures of this but I left my camera in the car so you’ll have to settle for a picture we took on the way home instead, of Kaylee wearing a hand-me-down training vest.

After we parked and unloaded dogs, we headed for the festival area, which had two rows of vendors. There was a REAL idiot with an OFF LEASH Bulldog wandering around in his general vicinity. It tried to go up to Grady (Lindsay’s SD), who yelled for the owner to please control his dog. Grady won’t do anything in a situation like that, but it’s the responsibility of an SD partner to make sure the four-legged half the team never NEEDS to- and a lot of dogs can be unpredictable. The owner ignored her and then started yelling at her for ‘kicking’ his dog when she blocked the dog from getting in Grady’s face with her leg. We went and notified a convenient sheriff’s department officer who happened to be standing nearby, and we didn’t see the bulldog again after that. (The event isn’t open to pets, although they weren’t exactly checking strenuously- most people had been properly polite and NOT brought pets.) Ugh.

Anyway, after that, we went around all the booths- we got pink foam energizer bunny ears on a headband and Lindsay made Grady wear hers. We also each won a baseball cap from the Geico booth- I need to buy a hat if we’re going to be going to more festivals, I was amazed how much difference it made to have my head covered when I was in the full sun. (I really ought to know better- I worked at renn faires for 3 years!) By the time we got back to the first booth, it was 6:30, so I bought a frozen strawberry cup thing to eat and we found a seat in the shade to wait for the balloons to launch.

Or not… after a few minutes, Lindsay realized that she was breaking out in hives from the grass, and the announcer made an announcement that the launch was being delayed because of the winds. It was a bit breezy but nothing major- I guess it doesn’t take much wind to delay a balloon launch, os we decided to go ahead and call it a day. Oh well- it was still a great day!

Training time: 3 hours
Skills worked on: leash skills and general PA manners, downs, waiting for preoccupied handler who is filling out forms.

This probably should be a separate entry, but about an hour after I got home, my friend Jessica (who owns Lizzie’s American Eskimo playbuddy Sadie) wanted to go do something, so I loaded up Mal and Lizzie and we headed out to do some brief rally practice (heeling and fronts) in the parking lot of Walmart up near her house. Got a good half hour of practice in, and it went well- this is the first time I’ve used that site and I think we’ll have to use it again.

June 21, 2008

It’s HOT in Texas this time of year, and I’m a night person anyway, so I tend to do a lot of training at night outdoors. By ‘at night’ I mean RIDICULOUS hours- tonight I went out at 2 and got home at 5. But it’s cool enough to make it tolerable to work for long periods, and to leave one dog crated in the car with the tailgate up while I work with the other. Lindsay brought Caden and I took Mal and we headed to Lancaster City Park to work in their parking lot under the lights.

Malcolm is entered in Rally (Novice A) at Dallas (1 day) and I’m planning to enter 2 more days for Houston. And I’ve spent most of the last 6 weeks focusing on Kaylee. Oops. So some polishing is in order.

Worked on serpentines, attention heeling, and fronts. Our fronts have fallen apart. Oops. Oh well- we’ve got two weeks to get everything back in working order, and I’m confident we can do it. (High scoring dog? Maybe not. But a Q? We can manage that.)

Bath Day!

June 8, 2008

Soaking wet tricolor dog in the bath tub, looking goofyFridays are now officially bath day at my house. I used to go along and just bathe individual dogs as they got dirty, which meant about anywhere from once a week to once every two or three months, depending on the dog. However, with the growing amount of dog hair that is floating in the air at any given time, I’ve decide this needs to stop, and from now on, everyone is going on a schedule. I am prepared. I have a makeshift grooming table with matted surface in front of a mirror (with a suction-cup grooming noose, even), a Metro Air Force dryer, a ridiculous number of brushes, and more hair products for dogs than I have EVER owned for humans.

It’s not that they get stinky, but the dust and mud that’s actually the biggest deal. A lot of websites say you shouldn’t bathe your dog more than once a month or you will dry out their coat. To this I say “HAH.” Most show dogs in the coated breeds- Shih Tzu, maltese, afghans, poodles- get bathed FAR more frequently than this, and if it damaged their coats? The owners and handlers wouldn’t do it.

The trick is, of course, to use an appropriate shampoo- that is, one with a neutral pH or one MADE for dogs- and rinse throughly. Most pet owners I know use FAR too much shampoo. With a few exceptions, pet shampoo is not meant to foam- and if you want to get foamy, sudsy lather, you need to use a ton. Foaming is , with most water conditions, purely cosmetic (it’s caused by adding foaming agents to the ingredients- look for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate on the label). Too much shampoo is harder to rinse off the dog, and yes, it WILL dry out the coat.

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May 15, 2008

Today was not a good day-  my apartment was broken into this morning (we’re all fine, nothing was taken, Mal chased him off before anything happened but it was scary as hell) and I didn’t accomplish any real training today. I only went out once today to buy dog food (why is it I can get things done for them that I can’t for myself?) and took Kaylee with me to City Pet Life over in Preston Royal.

We did some basic leash manners work- a little bit of LLW and luring into a straight sit (groundwork for future competition heeling) and practiced sit-and-waits while I read lists of ingredients. Mal is a very picky eater and I’m constantly trying to find a food that he likes well enough to eat consistantly that also doesn’t upset his stomach. (Picked up a bag of Fromm’s Surf N Turf; he did well on the old formula that was Whitefish & Potato, but this is grain-free, apparently. We’ll see. Last week we picked up the Taste of the Wild Gamebird formula, but a 4# bag ($13.95) didn’t go far at all among the three guys, and is just a little out of what I want to spend when I’m trying to save money for other things. A grain-free food seems to agree with Mal- maybe it’s time to try raw again- or I just need to suck it up and put him on one food and the girls on something else.