Friday, February 26, 2010

So... I gave up

On the ears, that is. I am just not cut out for taping ears -- or rather, maintaining them, I guess.

I found the whole task terribly frustrating. Some pieces of tape would stick like glue to Secret's ear, such that I felt bad when I had to pull it out to change it (after about 24 hours they started to lose stiffness and the ear would flop over). Other pieces went flying out of her ear in less than 10 minutes.

I changed out the tape Wednesday morning and she acted as though it hurt when I put the new tape in place. Sure enough, a few minutes later I found it on the floor. I decided then and there that the taping was done and whatever happens with the ears will sort itself out in the end.

But I don't like the floppy look. :o( Sigh.

Unfortunately I have practically nothing to update this week. I had jury duty Wednesday & Thursday of this week, so that was Secret's first time staying home alone all day (I got to come home for lunch, however). Of the three dogs, (as always) Secret seemed to handle it the best. She's loving her kong filled with peanut butter and goes running into her crate when she sees that I have it.

This weekend Secret will attend her first TDAA trial to cheer on Kaiser. Next weekend is another NADAC trial, so we have lots of socialization opportunities in the coming weeks.

In addition, my agility classes start up again this Wednesday, so we'll finally be able to get back to work on some agility foundations. We are rotting away and I am so ready for winter to done!

And this really doesn't have to do with anything, but it shows what a good girl Secret is when I come home. :o) Volume alert, my little Alaskan Klee Kai, Kaiser, is a heck of a screamer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another trip to the vet & PetSmart

First an explanation of the picture. :o) For the past couple of days, Secret's right ear has been really flopped over for some reason, so I picked up some moleskin today in an effort to prop it up a bit. I'm not going to go through the whole process of setting her ears at this late stage, I'm just trying to see if I can encourage it back into it's more upright position. That ear basically started to look like an Aussie ear for some reason.

I taped both ears, but the left one fell off pretty much right after the picture was taken. The right is staying put, so I'll leave it be for a while and see what happens. The left ear is actually nicely upright on its own, so I'll probably just use the rest of the moleskin to keep supporting the right ear for a little bit, so long as Secret is agreeable to it. Her ears have moved around a bit during the teething process, but have never been so flopped over as recently.

At any rate, Secret went to the vet yesterday for her bordatella vaccination and to have Dr. Randy check out the progress on her teeth. Secret weighed in at a whopping 32.4lbs! I was expecting closer to 30, so I was surprised. She didn't enjoy her intranasal vaccination, but what dog does? Randy was very happy with how her teeth grew in, so we all breathed a big sigh of relief. If all my pushing & yanking on it did any good we'll never know, but that awful right lower canine ended up in the proper spot, so we're happy! Pictures below!

Today we took a field trip to PetSmart again. I picked PetSmart because they tend to have more activity going on there and I like how the aisles are set up. Secret did much better from the start this time and didn't cower behind me at all.

We sat and chatted with an associate for a while and Secret was very happy to take treats from her. There was a class going on while we were there, with the dogs working on heeling skills through the aisles, so Secret had to be good while multiple dogs came past us (most of them out of control). I have to say, I think she did quite well. She was very unsure of the little girl who got a bit close to us and she growled at one point. We obviously haven't spent much time around children.

This trip was definitely better than the last, but we'll keep working on it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Secret learns to blow bubbles!

Over a year ago, I watched a video on YouTube that showed "Dazzle" the Border Collie learning to blow bubbles. I'm a huge "Dazzle Fan" and am amazed at all the tricks she does. I decided that day that when I finally got a Border Collie, my Border Collie would also learn to blow bubbles!

The other night, David Letterman had his "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment and one of the featured dogs was a bubble blower! This was just what I needed to light a fire under me, so I stopped at Walmart on my way home from work yesterday and picked up a $5 glass bowl so that we could get to work on this trick.

The video above is the result! I had to crop it for length -- All told, we worked for a little under 20 minutes. Truthfully, a bit too long, but she was in the zone and I didn't want to quit. Watching the video back was very educational and interesting for me, as it was very clear to see areas where I failed to reward her efforts or was slow in my click. Even more interesting was to see the very clear signs that my failures started to shut her down! Definitely something I need to work to improve in myself.

In the end, even with my inadequacies as a trainer, we managed to be successful and Secret learned to blow bubbles. :o)

Just a quick update on the post below -- I apparently spoke too soon! The night I posted that, Secret slithered off the bed only minutes after we retired for the night, so into her kennel she went! The next evening I woke up when she slid off around 1:00 a.m., so again, back into her crate. Last night we tried again, only this time I closed the bedroom door to ward off any distractions. This worked, and she stayed on the bed all night. Unfortunately, she & Kaiser both felt the need to press firmly against either side of me all night, so I, as a result, got very little sleep. *sigh* We'll work it out one way or another. lol

Monday, February 15, 2010

Movin' on up

To the big bed! :o)

Yes, I do believe that it may be safe to say that Secret has made "the transition" to the land of the big bed. For some time now I've been letting her have test runs of shorter duration -- I've let her come into the bed if I wake up in the middle of the night and on nights when I come home late and have to get up in less than 5 hours.

Thursday evening was one of those occasions, due to my participation in a karaoke idol contest that keeps me out fairly late. Friday evening I was a bum and fell asleep on the couch and didn't go to bed until quite late, so Secret again got to come to bed with us (myself, Luke & Kaiser). Saturday was another late night out, which gave Secret her third night in a row in the big bed.

She really has been incredibly well-behaved in her time on the bed. She may not wish to sleep in quite as late as I would prefer on the weekends and slithers off the bed when she deems it time to get up, but she really doesn't move at all during the night. I had issues with Kaiser deciding to try to leave the bed for a midnight exploration or snack when he was making the transition out of his crate, but Secret really hasn't done that even once.

So with three nights in a row of good behavior under our belt, I decided I may as well let her try the whole night for once. Unsurprisingly, she was good as gold last night and may have solidified her place. I'll leave the crate in the bedroom a few more days, I'm sure, but more than likely it will get moved to the spare room and only be brought out when I have to leave the dogs at home.

I haven't yet left her loose in the house for any period of time while I leave. The closest we've come to that is when I leave the dogs inside while I shovel snow. Her behavior during those times seems to be perfect, but I don't think a six month old has yet earned the right to have free reign of the house.

She doesn't seem to mind going into her crate or having me leave. In fact, she seems to care far less than the boys do. On Saturday she came in from their last potty break before I had to leave and went straight into her crate before I even said anything. I was surprised at how eager she was, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the recent treat I've started to give her when I leave. I've began to put peanut butter in the holes of her "Lifesaver" ring and put that into the crate with her. Mmmm, she likes peanut butter!

Tricks are still going great. I really do need to do a video soon.

I'm bummed because we won't have an opportunity to work on agility stuff at the dog center until March. My classes are done until March 3, so we will have to keep ourselves occupied in other ways until then.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

6 Months Old!

Going with the new birthday I picked for her last week, Secret is six months old today! Hard to believe, considering that this time last week I thought she was 4 1/2 months old...

Both of her puppy canines have fallen out now and the adult teeth are quickly moving into place. I continue to push & pull on those awful bottom teeth in hopes that they will migrate outwards. Hopefully we see improvement at our vet appointment in ten days!

Secret had a really good night at the dog center last night! I dismantled my course after class and put together a "speed circle" of sorts using three tunnels and several jump standards.

Secret was having a "not really into toys" kind of night, so I decided to use treats & the clicker. I did a little work on increasing distance in sending to individual obstacles (both the jump standards & the tunnels) and then started to string obstacles together. She was doing great at driving between the standards and we were able to successfully string together four to five obstacles at a time!

The contacts were out, so I decided to have her work on her "bottom" 2o/2o position in a new location on new equipment. Secret impressed me with how well she transitioned this behavior on the first try. She doesn't seem to have a fear of heights, as there were several times that I had to stop her from going up & across the whole dog walk! We worked her bottom behavior from both sides on both ends of the dog walk and then went and did it a couple of times on the a-frame just for practice. I haven't fully decided between running & 2o/2o for the a-frame, but at this point it doesn't hurt for her to practice the position.

I had asked my friend, Holly, to stick around for a bit to see if Secret would show any interest in playing with Holly's Border Collie, Ailie. Ailie is one of the sweetest, most friendly dogs I know and I thought it would be a good experience for Secret to have some socialization time with her.

From the get-go, Secret was a snarky bitch to Ailie and snapped at her every time Ailie came towards us. I ended up sitting on the floor with them and took turns giving each of them treats -- Both to build up a positive association in Secret's mind and to show her that I'm "allowed" to give attention to other dogs.

Secret stopped snarking, but still showed no interest in leaving my side to play with Ailie. I decided to get the boys out of their pen to see if their presence would help Secret come out of her shell.

This experiment was a huge success! The boys went straight to Ailie to check her out and Secret followed right along. Having the boys there gave her the confidence to do a proper introduction with Ailie and after that the fun began!

The four dogs (even Luke got into the fun!) spent quite some time zipping laps around the arena. There were several times when Secret would play bow to Ailie to instigate play, so that was fantastic to see. She plowed into jump standards a few times when she wasn't watching where she was going (oops!) and ran through the tunnels several times as they played.

The photo above was taken after all of their romping. It takes a lot to get Secret panting this hard! :o) We had a very quiet ride home and all three dogs immediately crashed on the couch as soon as we walked through the door. Yay for tired puppies! Hopefully we can have several more of these play dates -- they are so good for Secret!

Trick training has been going well. Secret has really clicked with the stationary leg weave. The walking leg weave will take a bit more work, but we haven't really been touching on that yet. Bang is almost confirmed and we started working on "leave it" at the end of last week. I'm going to have to figure out what we will work on next! I definitely need to do a video update...

The photo below was taken to show Secret's latest quirk. She has decided that she really likes to sit in this chair and will often pop herself up there upon coming in from outside. She has also sat there while I'm making dinner and at other random times. I'm not sure if she's figured out that food is on the table when I sit there and she hopes for the same or what. lol She seems quite happy to sit there for some time, though!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Field trip to PetSmart

We are enjoying a lazy weekend at home, so I decided to take Secret on a field trip to PetSmart today to work on her socialization skills.

The boys came along for the ride, but had to stay in the car while we went in the store. I think Secret tends to use them as her security blanket, because she was very cautious and unsure of everything as we made our way to the store entrance.

There were two very large rough collies standing at the entrance as we approached and Secret was very, very hesitant to get anywhere near them. She ended up hiding behind me as we made our way past. She was so overwhelmed as we entered the store that she actually ignored the piece of food I held in front of her -- a sure sign that she was in full freak-out mode.

She made vast improvements as we made our way around the store. In the beginning she shied away from people and kept wrapping herself behind me, with her tail tucked between her legs the whole time. She became more confident as I allowed her to explore.

The turning point seemed to be when I ran into someone who knows one of my agility students (small world!) and we stood there having a conversation for a while. I continued to pump Secret full of kibble while we stood there and she began to really come out of her shell. She even showed interest in the gentleman's children and her tail came out of hiding.

She was a new dog when we continued our trip around the store. Her tail stayed up and she started to approach people as we went up and down the aisles. At the register she sat nicely for the associate and went back looking for more treats after she inhaled the one she was given. Her attitude on the trip back to the car was one of great confidence.

This was a great trip for her! We must do this every chance we get.

The photo below is of Secret's "teeth tally" -- We're up to three now that she's left for me to find! :o) This is the first puppy canine that she's lost. I'm sure the second is soon to follow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We had another appointment with the vet yesterday afternoon -- Secret needed her booster for Lepto & Lyme. Now all we have left to do is Bordatella (since we travel so much to shows), which we'll get at the next appointment.

Secret was a good girl while we waited at the clinic. She showed interest in several people and warmed up to some more than others. She got to meet Frank, the office cat, but she was not happy at all about him taking up residence next to me. She barked at him quite a bit, then decided to go for the "ignore him" tactic.

When we went to the scale, I was a little surprised to see that Secret weighed in at 28.5 lbs. For a 4 1/2 month old? (More on that later....) She's huge! I thought it surely would not be a stretch to assume she'll end up around 50 lbs and 23". (Again, more later...)

Secret does not seem to care for the vet tech, Annette, at all. She air-snapped at her when Annette tried to look at her teeth the first time. The good news is that she got considerably better as the appointment went on and put up no further resistance. Actually, by the time we left she was letting everyone pet her.

I mentioned that Secret had recently lost a couple of teeth, so Annette started digging around in her mouth to have a look. I was a little surprised when Annette made a comment to the effect of Secret being around 5 1/2 months. I said, "You mean 4 1/2 months, right? Because her birthday is 9/15/09." Annette explained that no, she was pretty sure Secret was about 5 1/2 months based on the development of her canine teeth. Hmm.

So of course, when Dr. Randy came in, this was the first thing I threw at him. I wanted his opinion on Secret's age. After looking her over quite thoroughly, he proclaimed that he would say with some certainty that she is at least 5 1/2 months old, if not closer to 6 months of age. Wow, really? I can't really explain why, but I was quite taken aback by this news.

After having a bit of time to process this information, I have to say that I am DELIGHTED that I no longer have a gargantuan 4 1/2 month old. At the trial this weekend, several people remarked on how huge she was for her age (or at least the age we believed her to be). I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have a very large Border Collie.

The good news is that she's now considered a more average to petite almost 6-month-old. Now I am believing that she'll end up more along the lines of 19-20" and 35 to 40 lbs. Happy dance about that one!

And now for the not so good news... Secret's teeth are not coming along as we'd hoped. Her lower canines are looking to be a problem. Randy is holding out hope that the left will end up sliding out enough so as to not be an issue, but the lower right canine is our problem child. Currently, it is growing straight up and into the roof of her mouth -- so much so that there is already an indentation in the gum line from it.

Secret will come to Luke's appointment on February 19 so that Randy can keep an eye on it. We may end up having to pull that tooth in the coming months. As Randy explained it, vets don't typically like to pull canine teeth because it compromises the strength & stability of the jaw, but he feels that she is young enough that she will grow bone in its place and that it shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

Meanwhile, I am trying -- perhaps in vain -- to manipulate the tooth on a regular basis to perhaps encourage it to grow in an outward manner. Any little bit of movement out will help, and Randy said it surely wouldn't hurt anything. They do make braces for dogs, but it's really not an option for me right now... Not only because of the cost of the braces themselves, but also because it would require driving to Appleton on a very regular basis. Not doable.

I took pictures and posted them below as a reference to track the development of Secret's bite. Let's hope that it grows the right way!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Trial Weekend

Secret went to her third agility trial this weekend. She is getting used to the atmosphere, as she seemed far more comfortable this time. There was no hiding in the back of her crate and she even seemed very happy to see certain people!

The wide variety of dogs outside on Saturday morning seemed to really intimidate her, but she got used to it very quickly this time and by Sunday she was interested in meeting new dogs.

Secret got to know the people crated around us and started to seek them out for attention when she was out of her crate. She was still unsure, however, of random people who came up to say hello to her. Really, it's hit or miss at this stage with her comfort level. I haven't really been able to pinpoint any certain trait that intimidates her. There is no doubt, though, that she's getting far more comfortable around new people.

The trial ended on Sunday with the Tunnelers class, so when everything was finished, I took Secret out into the arena to play for a little while. She thought all of those tunnels were just grand! If I would have been thinking, I should have handed the video camera to someone to catch some of our play time. Secret did fantastic and was happily stringing together four tunnels at a time! We even did some work with crosses and 180* turns. So fun! She was pooped when we finished, as it had been a very long weekend for her (the photo on top is her crashed on the ride home).

I have to teach tonight, so we'll get to go play at the dog center again. :o)