Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Joe Knows!

I put together a new video of Joe with several clips I shot over the weekend. It's hard to believe he's only been with me a bit over two weeks. He has learned so much already!

We are meeting his approved adopter this coming Saturday at our trial in Burnsville. If all goes well, he will be staying with her. I will be very sad to say goodbye to him, but I hope to receive many updates and follow his progress on Facebook!

Merry Christmas!

Secret wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Doesn't she look so festive and cheery posing with her sparkly, glittery ribbons? lol She's such a good sport....

It was a pretty quiet Christmas for the dogs. Luke did get to go up to my parent's house on Christmas Eve and it was just as crazy as I figured it would be with my brother's dogs. I was thankful I only took Luke, as he can handle that sort of thing well.

They had a boring, uneventful Christmas day. I had to work at the shelter in the morning, but we got done early and I was able to spend a bit of extra time with the dogs before I had to leave again. They got play time, so they were happy! Then it was back home for a couple more hours before leaving again. That time I set up one of my big loopy speed circles with hoops and a tunnel and let everyone wear themselves on that. Have I mentioned lately how awesome it is that we don't have snow?
Christmas evening was back up at my parent's house, but I elected to go without dogs that time. I got home at 9:00 and honestly I didn't think the dogs should HAVE to go out and run around again after having three play sessions earlier in the day. Well that was a mistake, as Joe & Secret played for a good hour in the house and made it hard to fall asleep on the couch. ;o)

My mom got all of the dogs a bunch of stuffless stuffies with squeakers. I haven't actually handed them out yet because I know there will be no peace in the house once I do.... I was a bad dog mom and didn't actually get them anything for Christmas. The trial this Saturday will be their present, I guess.

I worked at the shelter yesterday and did a double-take when I walked past the daily calendar. I grabbed it on my way out the door at the end of the day because it reminded me so much of Secret! Why is it, though, that I can never, ever remember which side of her face has the split? It always seems to be exactly the opposite of all the dogs I think look like her.

I thought this was a scruffy puppy after a bath or something, but the description calls it a "mixed breed" with border collie characteristics. Upon closer inspection, I think the blasted thing is actually a borderdoodle. God forbid....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bath Day!

Thursday morning, someone (ie: Secret) was kind enough to barf all over my bed while I was in the shower. There is a slight possibility it could have been Joe, but my money is on Secret. No worries, nobody is sick -- The cause of the upchuck was a giant chunk of hoof that was apparently refusing to digest properly. I don't have these at home, so it was definitely from our trip to my parent's house Monday evening.

At any rate, because it sat for who knows how long before I noticed it and was able to clean it up, it resulted in the aforementioned vomit soaking through the "dog blankets" on top, through my comforter, through the sheets and all the way to the mattress pad (which thankfully is the kind that prevents anything from getting to your mattress!).

This meant a trip to the laundromat following work because try as I might, I simply cannot fit a king sized comforter into my machine at home. Conveniently enough, the laundromat in Bangor has the added bonus of having a "dog wash" station available. It's pretty handy and for $6 you get 15 minutes use of the tub, water, soap, conditioner and a blow dryer. I'd say it's worth it to keep that mess out of your house.

Mr. Joe has smelled like a cow barn since he arrived. Most of the time it's not even noticeable, but when he gets wet (such as when wrestling outside with Secret) it can be a little overwhelming. So I figured that as long as we had to go to the laundromat, I may as well see what Joe thought of his first bath!

The washing machine had a half hour to run, so I decided to kill a little time by going to a nearby park and letting the dogs run around for a little bit. Well..... Secret went and jumped in the creek (!!???!!!) and got all muddy, and then she found something to roll in when I wasn't looking. So guess who else earned herself a bath?

I decided to do Secret first so that Joe wouldn't have to sit and freeze in the car after his bath. Secret was already wet, too, so I figured it would be easiest to start with her. She didn't love it, but she was a fairly good girl about the whole thing. The blow dryer scared the crap out of her, though, and she was shaking pretty much the whole time I used it on her (which is like half the 15 minutes -- the dyer kind of stinks).

But I had to laugh at how huge and fluffy she looked when she was done! When does Secret ever look fat? She looked positively ginormous!

Then it was Joe's turn. I let Secret stay in the wash bay with us for Joe's bath thinking that he might be happier to have a friend in there with him. I lifted Joe up into the tub and he kind of stood there looking around, a bit unsure of things. When the water started he had a minor freak-out, and then when it touched him he started to scream like a little girl!

It didn't last all that long. He gave up rather quickly and stood like a good boy. Holy cow did he smell horrible, though!! The cow barn smell was just leeching off him and he reeked. The soap that the dog wash provided was pretty pathetic. I ended up soaping & conditioning him twice to try to get rid of the smell and in the end I can still smell cow on him.

I didn't mess around with drying Joe as long as I did Secret -- Partly because I took double the time soaping & rinsing him, but also because I figured there wasn't much point in stressing him out when the dryer doesn't work that well anyhow. For what I did do, he seemed to handle the dryer far better than Secret!

He didn't end up as poofy, but he's a whole lot cleaner and softer than he was before. Yay for beautifying! :o) In addition, Joe got his nails clipped Thursday afternoon and he's been learning about the fun activity of teeth brushing! Everyone in my house gets their teeth brushed a few times a week and I started introducing it to Joe right away. We started easy by just letting him eat the toothpaste, but he's already letting me brush his teeth with the tooth brush! Granted he does try to eat the tooth brush, but he's still being very good about everything.

The nail trim went well also, he's just very squirmy and it took a while. He didn't react negatively, but he'll need some help learning to sit still. I ended up putting him on my lap like I do for Kaiser to get his back nails done. It worked quite well, but he won't be able to do that for long for as fast as he's growing!

The holidays are upon us. I'm working the morning shift at the shelter both days this weekend, which is nice because I don't have to worry about having anyone else let the dogs outside. Tonight I have to go up to my parent's house (I still think I'll let Luke go along, but nobody else because it's so crazy up there) and then tomorrow I really have no idea what's going on. My mom's side of the family is all out of whack this year because my grandma broke her hip a couple of weeks ago and has been going between the nursing home and the hospital, and one of my aunts is still in the hospital following a hysterectomy. Merry Christmas to us, but I suppose we'll make the best of it. But sadly the dogs won't get to take part in any of it.

It snowed again, but it's all melting away today again. Hopefully we can find something to do this afternoon that doesn't involve getting covered in mud! Because I don't really feel like going through the bath scene again so soon. :o) We went down to play in the basement last night and Joe was introduced to the Theraball. That little stinker isn't afraid of anything. Everyone took a turn on it, even fighting at times over who's turn it was. I was very surprised at how comfortable Joe was on the peanut. I let him shake and wobble to test him out and nothing phased him. So long as there was food involved, he was totally game!

Since I won't be posting again for a few days, Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Training Outside - In December!

What's that you say? Training? Outside? In December? On the 21st?

Why yes! Yes we did!

Yesterday I went and downloaded one of the "Video Trial" courses from the NADAC Yahoo Group to set up in the yard. I picked the "Stormy" course because it looked fairly easy to set, didn't use a ton of jumps (12) and it had a tunnel (which I wanted to have out for Joe). Because hoops are easier to pull out of the garage than jumps, I used all six of mine in this course and then used six jumps to finish it out. As I'd hoped, it was a pretty easy course to set and didn't take that long -- Which is good, because we don't have much daylight to work with right now!

I put the "big kids" in the house while I set the course and let Joe run around the yard with me. He doesn't do much when he's out there by himself. There were no toys outside or anything, but I was still surprised at how much he just kind of stood there instead of finding something to do. lol

I wanted to see how Joe would react to seeing agility, so I planned to hook him up to the deck to let him watch. Yeah.... That did not go so well. The first issue was that Secret was up first, and the two of them are kind of in the routine of getting to go crazy with each other when it's just the two of them outside. I had to break this up right away, which made Secret put on her grumpy face. Then Joe had a holy freakout when he realized he was tied to the deck and started screaming -- Secret got a horrified look on her face at that point and I had to put Joe back in the house.

At that point Secret did NOT want to play with me. When I came back from putting Joe inside she gave me one of her looks and I knew it wasn't going to be good. I showed her the Woolie Tug and she looked away from me. Great. I went straight to the big guns and grabbed the Jolly Ball. She mouthed it a few times on the way to the start of the course, but she was not enthused at all. The first run was really, really sad and pathetic. I more or less drug her around the course and when I threw the ball at the end she just stood there and looked at it. But then instead of rolling over with her tail tucked like I expected, she came and crawled up my chest and tried to lick my face. What the?? She's never done that before in this situation.

I switched toys to the bumper. I showed it to her and she still didn't really care, but she still followed me to the start. The second run wasn't a whole lot better than the first, but she finished with a little more speed and she actually targeted the bumper and brought it back to me for a game of tug. Once she did that it seemed like she was ready to play and she left the baggage behind. We ran the course twice more and she was much faster and happier.

I let her chew on her bumper while I moved all the jumps down to 8" for Kaiser -- Since she still seemed in the mood to play I let her run the course once more with the lower jumps. I was curious to see if the lower jump height would motivate her more, but it wasn't much different than the last two attempts. Granted, I don't usually do so many attempts at the same course with her, so I was asking a lot. I'm happy that she still felt like playing with me for what was what, the sixth time through the course?

Kaiser could do no wrong, so he just ran the course three times. I just increased my distance a little with him on each run, otherwise there wasn't much to change. Luke's session was a disaster. I was focusing on bonus line work and we just could not get it together. Finally by the end I gave up and just ran the course with him to end on a high note (which we did, so that's good). I found it a little discouraging to have so many problems with distance when we need that Chances Q at the next trial. lol Oh well, I'm sure it was just an off night for both of us.

I set the camera on a fence post and got video! I debated not including Secret's slow & crappy runs, but I figured it's for the blog and I may as well document everything!

Oh! And Joe did his first tunnel last night! I didn't get that on video because it was pretty dark by that point, but he did the full 12' tunnel with a slight curve in it. He's a smart boy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Have I mentioned....

That it is December 21st and we have no snow?

The whole crew is enjoying our lovely 40 degree weather today!

Joe loves to run! Running is easier without ice!

Joe is getting better at posing, too. :o)

Joe likes Luke a lot - Luke accepts but ignores him. Doesn't Joe look tiny?

I like Joe's structure quite a lot...

The whole crew out exploring - Look at Joe way out front!

He likes to hang with Secret, too.

See how much better we are at posing, now? No ASPCA puppy here!

Secret has a stick - Joe wants the stick. Not going to happen. But look how tiny Secret makes him look...

Look at that movement -- Sorry, the obsession with movement goes back to my horse roots!

Joe has a stick -- Why sticks are so fascinating I will never know!

Whee!! Aw look, his ears are up. :o)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Secret's Christmas Gathering (+ Joe!)

Last night was Secret's Christmas experience for the year. :o) She won't get to go up to my parent's house for the "real" Christmas because my brother is bringing his dogs up from Chicago and I have no real desire to participate in that insanity, so instead I took Secret to our "pre-Christmas" family get-together. My aunt Jeri and family were visiting from Minneapolis, so we got everyone together for dinner at my parent's house.

It was a given that Joe would come because the socialization experience would be so invaluable for him. I was torn between Secret & Luke, though -- So in the end, no lie, I drew names to see which of them would get to come. I had to be fair, after all, and Secret ended up winning fair and square. Poor Luke. I might sneak him along on Christmas Eve, as I know he'll ignore my brother's dogs anyhow.

Secret did better than she ever has in such a setting! At previous engagements I've always made a point to start her out on leash at the beginning of the evening because she seems so uncomfortable with all the commotion. In addition, there are always at least a couple of smaller children running around and this has made her come a little unglued in the past.

Perhaps it's just a sign that she's maturing, but she handled everything very well last night. We arrived at the same time as a carload of people and she was a little bug-eyed at them when we first pulled up, but there was no barking or other such poor behavior.

Inside the house she briefly made her rounds to say hello (mostly to my parents, whom she knows very well) and then she found a cow hoof and spent the next half hour or more laying down to chew on that. When she got a bit overwhelmed by the activity in the living room, I noted that she took her hoof and went to lay by the door to the garage where it was more quiet.

There were several occasions later in the evening where Secret actively sought out interactions from people. A few relatives remarked that they had never been able to pet her in the past and that they were surprised at how she came right up to them. She did very well during dinner and more or less stood back from the table a bit and just watched. Good girl for not begging, but I'd prefer that she lay down and stop staring at everyone. ;o)

My parents have quite a toy basket for Lexie in the living room, so towards the end of the evening Secret started to empty it toy by toy. There were several tennis balls, so all three dogs ended up having their own to play with. Lexie also has several of those stuffed toys without any stuffing, so Secret was having lots of fun throwing those around in addition to finding every toy that squeaked.

It was a long evening and we got home a bit after 9:00. I figured everyone would be totally pooped, but Secret instigated a chase session with Luke & Kaiser in the yard before we went inside to feed dinner & crash. Guess she missed them!

Little man, Joe, was a huge hit with everyone! Numerous times people asked me his age and then remarked at what a well behaved dog he is for only 4 1/2 months old. Granted, I planned ahead and had him chase the tennis ball for a good bit of time before we left to go up to my parents, so he was a little more subdued when we arrived. :o)

I saw Joe cuddling with several people throughout the night and he instigated a game of tug with my cousin when he found one of the stuffless toys. He was very good about leaving the Christmas tree alone (I don't have one at my house) and when he found a couple of ornaments on the floor he was very gentle with them and gave them right up when asked (they are BALLS, can you blame him??).

Joe was a good boy during dinner, too -- Mostly because I kept him by my side by feeding him kibble out of my treat pouch. I did see that he nabbed a couple of dessert plates off the coffee table at the end of the night, but he gave them right up.

In addition, we spent four hours at a new place and still no potty accidents! He's a smart one, this kid.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Playdates, Vet Visits & Other Fun

This morning Secret went to the vet for her annual wellness visit. She wasn't due for any shots -- Well, except for Bordatella, which I took care of last night...............

Side track -- Have you ever tried to give an intranasal vaccination by yourself? Maybe that's not the right question. I mean, I've given one to dogs at the shelter on my own numerous times if the dog acted like it wouldn't present a problem. This is Secret. This is MY dog. I figured I should be able to handle giving her an intranasal vaccination on my own. Right?? Yeah.... That was fun. I even prepped her by showing her the empty syringe and giving her treats. She even made faces at the empty syringe! Oh yay. I chased her around the house with the vaccination a few times. In the end, I think I might have successfully gotten 1/4 of it up her nose. My vet made me feel better by saying that's all they really need to be protected. That's what I get for trying to save money. I can get a bordatella vaccination through the shelter for $2 vs. at least $15 or so from my vet. Now I know it's probably worth it to have the vet do the injectable vaccination!

So anyhow, annual wellness visit.... Joe went with us to get his staples removed from his dew claw surgery. He did remarkably well until just the last few staples (and there were a million, so that's saying a lot). Joe decided he didn't want to be restrained any longer and pitched a bit of a screaming fit, but then he relaxed and let us finish the job.

Secret was a good girl at the clinic. I think Secret wants a kitty, though. There was an orange kitty roaming about the office when we first came through the door and Secret did her usual whine & wiggle when she saw him. Then Olivia, the black & white kitty who is decidedly NOT afraid of dogs, was at the desk when we checked out and Secret was just beside herself trying to get Olivia to come over to play. She has never shown so much interest in cats before! Joe seemed more or less oblivious to them.

I asked to hold Secret for her heartworm blood draw. I hate that it is standard practice to take animals to the back for a draw. For a dog like Secret, that makes it all the more traumatizing. Thankfully my vet is cool about letting me help, so we did the blood draw in the room with me holding Secret. She was very good, especially considering we had to switch legs when Becky couldn't stick the vein in the left leg (having Joe jumping around on her more than likely wasn't helping). She got it right away on the right leg, though, so I don't think the experience was overly upsetting for Secret. She let Becky check her all over without me holding onto her, so that was actually a big step for Secret.

Everything checked out fine, so it looks like we are good until March now when I see that Secret is due for Lepto & Lyme boosters. After discussing Secret's chiropractic issues with Dr. Randy, he thinks we should spend more time doing core work (such as with the theraball) to see if that helps. I told him that's pretty standard for our winter routine, so I guess we'll see if it makes a difference. She had a hot spot in her lower back that he noted -- No surprise, they tend to turn up about two weeks after each adjustment. Randy would prefer not to see such issues in a dog Secret's age, but it's mostly because of her wonky build and there's not much we can do about it -- Other than core work, I guess!

I believe I posted last week that it sounded like Rascal was going to come over for a play date. He & Bethany did, indeed, swing by for about an hour on Friday and the above photo is what I got to enjoy after they left. :o)

We haven't really gotten to train or play with Rascal much this past year and as a result I think he was a little more withdrawn than usual. Bethany has had some medical issues lately and I think Rascal has spent a lot of time with his therapy dog hat on, and as a result he wasn't so much into playing at first. He did get better and they had some good chase sessions going (with Kaiser in the house, of course), but then Joe started to get really full of himself and this turned Rascal off again.

I got to see a whole new side of Joe, though. He was pushy, pushy, pushy! When Rascal needed a break and Joe wanted him to run some more, Joe started to bite Rascal in the butt! Apparently Rascal's "go button" was broken because it didn't work, so then Joe tried to butter him up with kisses on the nose. When that didn't work, either, Joe decided his best option was to hump Rascal!?! He had never, ever shown any inclination to try that with any dog prior to that occasion! It totally took me by surprise.

We had Lexie at the house yesterday while my parents were at the football game. I was at the shelter all day and we only had about an hour of playtime before my parents came to pick Lexie up, but Joe was humping on her, too! That situation makes a little more sense considering we now know that Lexie is in season. I'm not cool with humping behaviors no matter the reason, though, so I made sure to not let it go on when I noticed it.

Look who figured out how to get up on the bed all by himself now? Joe is still sleeping in a crate at night, but I don't care if he goes up on the bed while I'm getting ready in the morning and whatnot. He takes full advantage of it and thinks the bed is pretty awesome. He has made himself right at home, that's for sure.

Joe did well with my weekend work schedule. He seems to think that Kongs are the greatest thing ever as evidenced by how he stock piled them in his crate each evening. Being stuck in a crate all day must not bother him, either, since he still goes barreling in there on his own at meal time. And it sounds like he was a good boy and did his business outside for everyone that came to let the dogs out both days this weekend, so good boy, Joe!

I got good news from the shelter this weekend (back pay, yay!) so it looks like we are going to head up to Minneapolis for a NADAC trial on the 31st. Luke needs one more Q in Chances for his NATCH 3, which would be his fourth Champion title of the year (two NATCH, two V-NATCH). Greed is winning out and I want that title! In addition, we don't have another trial in La Crosse until the end of January and that's just a super long time to wait. Secret has trialed at Soccer Blast one other time (in July) and I think it's good for her to get out and about to more places than just La Crosse. We probably won't run too many classes, but we'll hit up Chances & Jumpers for sure. Maybe we'll enter Touch-n-Go to try to get closer to completing her Elite Versatility Award as well.

Oh! And Joe has an approved adopter who lives in that area who is going to come meet him at the trial and see how he does with her other dog. Fingers crossed that everything goes well. This would be the difficult part of fostering. Obviously the goal is to find Joe an awesome forever home, but I will still be sad to see him leave so soon. He's been so much fun to have around.

Speaking of fun -- Tonight we are having a family get-together (ie: early Christmas) because my aunt from out of town is visiting. The perk of having these events at my parent's house is that I can schlep dogs along. Joe is coming for sure for some valuable socialization time and I think I'll bring Secret with him. I feel bad for leaving Luke out.... But I don't know that we want to deal with five dogs at a family dinner (because if Luke comes, so does Kaiser, and my parents have Lexie). Maybe Luke can go for Christmas and I'll leave everyone else at home. :o)

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Puppy Fun

Joe likes bully sticks! They are good for his sore little teething gums. I noticed blood on his chewed up bully at one point this morning -- Poor little dude. I don't think any teeth have fallen out since he arrived. If I find any, do you suppose I should save them for his new owner's scrapbook? :o) I still have Secret's teeth somewhere. Heck, I still have my horse's tooth that I found in his feed bucket years ago, and I don't even have the horse anymore.

I'm still enjoying my puppy fix, in case you couldn't tell. Today marks the end of Joe's first week with us and it's been loads of fun. He's still the best puppy on the planet, although he's definitely getting a bit more energetic than he was when he first arrived. I figure that's just part of the settling in process and his personality is starting to come out.

Today the wee man actually seems a little tuckered out. I suppose that's what happens when you play like a crazy man the night before and then don't get a nap in the morning because you are busy chewing your bully stick. He still romped & played on our noon-time walk today, but he spent more time walking next to me and we didn't have a repeat of yesterday's hilarious puppy zoomies. It was so cute -- It was towards the end of our walk when he bolted about 50' forward and then just started to zoom in circles ahead of us on the trail before pouncing into the tall weeds. Gotta love puppies.

I tried to get a shot of Joe running in the yard this morning, but this is what I got. He's kind of fast. ;o)

We made progress with the clicker last night! I was correct in guessing that Joe would do better having the food delivered directly to his mouth vs. finding a tossed treat in front of him. His focus was world's better in this last session and he seemed to really be getting a grasp of the game. In addition, I was able to have the food bowl right out in plain sight and he left it alone! I didn't have to hide it in my lap anymore, so that was major progress as well.

While a good deal of progress was certainly made, we still aren't finished. Secret's first inclination is to touch EVERYTHING with her feet. She's just always been that way. Joe, on the other hand, is very much a nose targeting kind of guy. He was nose bumping the touch light like nobody's business last night and he seemed to truly understand that was the mission. I tried to wait him out at one point to see if he would escalate the behavior to using his feet, but he got frustrated and quit (ie: lay down). We did have a few successful attempts where he started to move forward, but then he'd go back to nose touching again. That's okay, I ended on that because it's still a lot further than we got in the last session!

One thing I always find difficult with the young ones is figuring out how much to feed them. I remember how hard it was to find a balance with Secret that wouldn't give her runny stool (ie: too much) or starve her (too little). Add to that, the fact that I am delivering kibble out of the treat pouch all day long makes it even harder to nail down. Right now I'm giving Joe 1/2 cup for breakfast & dinner, using 1/2 cup in our clicker session and probably handing out a good 1/4 to 1/2 cup in random treats throughout the day. He's been remarkably "regular" this whole time, but yesterday I must have fed a few too many treats because he was having minor poo issues. So... Fewer random treats, I guess.

I'm probably just overly sensitive to the poo issues because Kaiser developed a raging case of "colitis" (I use the quotes because that's the only technical term I can think of for horrible diarrhea and vomiting) on Monday and only today had his first solid bowel movement (with the help of metronidozole and pumpkin). I made sure to have a good stock of carpet cleaner on hand when the puppy came, but so far I've only used it for Kaiser's accidents....

Anyhow, I have no idea why I went off on that side track. Speaking of Kaiser, he's still being a rotten turd to Joe, but there have been huge improvements. This morning, for example, the two were actually laying right next to each other chewing on their bully sticks.

Kaiser is all fluff, more or less -- and Joe just has to stop letting Kaiser bully him. I think I found out how that is going to happen -- Toys!

Kaiser is the play police and tries to stop Joe from having any fun -- But last night we were throwing tennis balls and Joe is SO in love with them that he would just plow right through Kaiser when Kaiser would try to stop him. Eventually Kaiser just stopped being so rude and Joe was able to have his fun.

Joe is doing well in learning to play around the other dogs -- as in, this is my ball, that is your ball. Well, until one of the dogs drops a ball at my feet, then that is Joe's ball, too. Thankfully my dogs know they'll get it back when I throw it, so they didn't care -- And Joe would always find his own ball again after I threw one of the others. He is a natural at fetch. He pretty much always brings the ball back, although he will often forget to drop it and take off after one of the other dogs when they go out for their ball. Oh well, that's fun, too. :o)

We were actually able to play for quite a while last night with Joe staying focused the whole time. I figured I owed him a longer session because it was his first time being left home alone at my house (well, with the other dogs, too) because I had to work at the shelter. He seemed like he did absolutely fine, though. He's so good in a crate.

Which is good, because he'll be in it a lot this weekend. I'm working the 8:30 - 5:00 shift both days at CRHS, so he'll be crated all day save a break when my parents come tomorrow and my cousin on Sunday. I realize millions of people do it all the time, but I always feel bad the first time I leave them.... Oh well, he'll get introduced to the frozen Kong for the first time and I bet he'll love it!

Everyone is crashed right now, which is good. They need to rest up because it sounds like Rascal is coming over for a play date after work. I think Joe & Rascal should get along quite well! Secret will be happy to see him, too, I'm sure -- They haven't been over for some time.

We have a vet appointment at 8:30 on Monday for Secret's annual wellness visit and to get Joe's staples out. They look really good now, so I figure that should (hopefully) be a non-event.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Considering that Secret was my first border collie, it has been very interesting to have Joe in the house. He is close to the same age Secret was when I adopted her, so it is fun to compare & contrast their similarities and differences.

FYI, I had to Photoshop the side-by-side photo because I was unsuccessful in getting them to pose next to each other this morning. lol Secret was a very good girl and held her pose like the glamorous model that she is, but I couldn't get Joe to stay by her for anything. Part of it could be that he just hasn't learned the "wait" cue yet -- Or, well, part of it could be that Secret showed her teeth if he showed interest in the bait I was using to get them to pose. Thanks for your help, Secret. This was the most successful shot I got....

I would say that Joe is more outgoing than Secret was when I got her. He is pretty fearless about most things and has a "barge right through it" attitude. Take puppy gates, for instance. lol They are merely a suggestion for Joe, and a poor one at that. I only prop gates up at doorways and don't fix them in as they are intended to be used, so it's pretty easy to pull a gate over. My three dogs are horrified at the thought of a falling gate and if one comes crashing down in front of them they dare not cross it. Joe pulls it over and jumps over it to get what he wants (ie: treat from the UPS man, to follow me to the lunch room, etc.). He respects the gates the majority of the time, it's just those moments that require some impulse control that we're working on. :o) But my point is more that I find it interesting how he is not phased at all by the noise or action of the gate crashing.

I have introduced Joe to the clicker over the last few days. His learning style is so very different from Secret's. I always said from day one that she is a "thinking" dog. She thinks things over, processes it, figures out how to do it and then she's got it. In some things (take agility, for example) I do not find this desirable because she's so serious about everything and this makes her slower -- But it's definitely beneficial for trick training and other behaviors.

Joe is a smart boy, but he's definitely more of a "do-er" than a thinker by nature. It's keeping me on my toes. It's been two years since I've gone through the beginning stages of clicker training with Secret and I swear she made me feel like a genius because it was so easy. That thinking side of her personality made clicker training very natural for her and because she was not super fast, it was fairly easy for me as well.

Joe does everything so fast that I find it hard to keep up. He is VERY excited when the clicker and food bowl come out. In the first two sessions I did nothing but load the clicker and reward him for offering sit & down (and as a by-product, self control, because he couldn't be trying to get into the food bowl if he was performing one of the behaviors). Joe is doing well with these and is transitioning them into different settings, but we are working on increasing his reaction time -- as in, please don't wait 10 seconds before you sit because you are so busy jumping onto me.

Last night I decided to test how much Joe really understands shaping with the clicker. I thought an easy way to do this would be to use the same touch light I used with Secret -- You can see that post and watch the video in my post from two years ago. I suppose it would have been helpful to video Joe's session last night for comparison, but I didn't have the camera at home.

The main struggle is that Joe is such a complete spaz around food. If I toss the treat on the floor after a click he often doesn't even see it because he is so busy sniffing around looking for a treat. Because his nose is always in hyper-drive, my clicks seemed to be rewarding the sniffing more so than targeting. I did sense improvement when I started to deliver treats directly to his mouth, but then his focus shifted to my hands and I struggled to get him back on task.

So sadly, I did not have the same accomplishment with Joe of getting him to target the touch light in one session as I did with Secret. It did make me feel like a bit of a failure, but I know that Joe just learns differently than Secret did and I have to learn how to train this type of dog. After all, have I not said that I don't want my next dog to be as serious as Secret? That means I'd better learn to teach the "do-er" type of dog. :o)

Secret has been acting like her feelings are hurt that Joe gets to do all this fun training with me, so I let her come into the bedroom to show him how it's done. We all know that dogs learn by watching, right? Secret has not seen the touch light since our original training with it, but she was all over that thing, turning it off and on, off and on. She just feeds off clicker work, so much so that I wonder if I need to start teaching more tricks to her this winter. It would be interesting to see how much faster she picks up on stuff now that she is matured. I never did actually get around to teaching her to do the handstand!

Meanwhile, I will give Joe another session with the touch light tonight to see how much progress we can make. I am training myself just as much as training him at the moment.

Joe's been doing super awesome at work! He settled right in to the whole office setting and isn't affected at all by the different sights & sounds. He loves meeting all of the new people who come in (especially our UPS man, Charlie). Joe wasn't so sure about Lexie (my parent's dog) at first -- he thinks she's a little odd, but on our walk yesterday he did start to play with her.

He has been completely trustworthy off leash and enjoys running with the other dogs on the trail. His recall is impressive, but so was Secret's at this age and heaven knows we went through a period of time where it became a struggle as she became more independent -- but right now he's about as perfect as they come. :o) I put him on leash when trains go by, but he doesn't seem to be reactive to motion (hasn't really noticed cars, either).

He pretty much came potty trained -- We're not entirely sure how that happened since he'd never been in a house prior to entering foster care, but there hasn't been a single accident yet. I keep a pretty strict "puppy schedule" and we go outside a lot, but even Secret had a few accidents to start with. Good boy, Joe.

Joe has WAY more interest in toys than Secret did at this age. WAY more. I love that about him for sure. I have to be careful not to tug much with him right now because he's teething and I can tell it hurts if something hits his teeth wrong, but he does offer it. Joe likes frisbees already and will chase/grab rollers! That's like a good year ahead of where Secret was with the disc. lol He also likes to chase tennis balls and our Holee Roller that has a Kong squeaker ball inside it. Joe also likes to chase the dogs who are chasing toys, but he's been appropriate about it thus far (unlike previous foster, Max, who would rudely use teeth...).

We started to work on stairs last night. I had to carry Joe into the basement to introduce him to the play room -- He seemed a little overwhelmed by it at first, but then he found a tennis ball and I even got him to play with a fuzzy tuggy for a bit. He figured out how to get back upstairs on his own, so we'll keep working on that whole "going down" part. That one took Secret a while to learn, too! :o)

As I type this, Joe is enjoying his first bully stick! I'd say it's a hit. Then again, anything he can chew on is a hit right now!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Trial! New Titles!

Look at those pretty green ribbons! Secret finished up two more titles at our trial this weekend! The first was her O-EAC on Saturday, which means TWENTY Q's in Elite Regular already! Wow!! Then, miracle of miracles, we managed another Elite Chances Q on Sunday for her ECC title. Do you know what that means? It means the countdown to NATCH is now official. Go figure. :o)

Secret Q'd in 5/9 runs this weekend and I have to pretty much take the blame for the NQ's (except maybe in Chances on Saturday, she kind of blew me off to take a tunnel). I had major puppy brain going on and was pretty distracted, which led to some pretty pathetic handling at times. Considering that, I think the five Q's we did get are pretty remarkable. lol

Overall I was pretty happy with her speed. Her enthusiasm in the Regular rounds was great pretty much everywhere except the weaves. Round 1 on Saturday was great because it ended with the weaves -- But that meant that Round 2 started with the weaves and that is the worst set-up for her. She got past it and did the rest of the course with good speed, but the weaves were pretty pathetic. I have got to find a way to increase her drive on weave poles in a trial setting....

Amazingly enough, though, she made time by FOUR SECONDS in Elite Weavers! I have avoided entering it for quite a while because I just didn't think there would be any point. She weaved the first two sets quite nicely, but the third set was fairly slow -- Likely due to me having to pull her off a tunnel right before the last set, and any time she questions me it slows her down. I didn't look to see what the 20" dog times were, but I'm sure it would have been pretty close. That's a bonus to running Skilled, I guess, in that it does give a little extra time where we need it.

Jumpers on Saturday was really lovely! I wasn't sure what to expect since it was her fifth run of the day, but she ended up with a really good time and was only about 0.4 seconds behind Luke. Unfortunately I completely and totally failed her on Sunday with Jumpers being the first run of the day. I didn't support her lines AT ALL and she did the expected and followed where I was telling her to go. I didn't correct it because I knew immediately it was my fault, so we missed several jumps. Then out of the blue I threw a blind cross at her in the last sequence, but it turned out really well so I guess it worked. :o)

I didn't think we had a shot at the Chances course because it involved layering a jump & tunnel after the a-frame, and typically one needs a bit of momentum to get that sort of thing. Secret was a GOOD girl. She looked at the inner jump, but directed right out when I told her. It was a nice run!

She put in two nice Regular rounds at the end of the day, but I pushed her wide and more or less sent her straight into the tunnel under the a-frame on the stretch home -- no point in correcting it, so we finished on that. I managed to not screw her up in the last round, so we did get a Q there -- so just two more Q's until her NATCH points in that class. Go baby dog!

Here's Secret's video -- The boys have videos on YouTube as well if you're interested. :o) Luke and I only got one of our two needed Chances Q's for NATCH 3, so that video will have to wait a bit longer! But Kaiser got one Chances, so that video is one step closer. Yay!

Meet Joe!

If there were such thing as the "perfect puppy," most certainly my new foster puppy, Joe, would fit the bill. Joe joined us Friday afternoon and he has been good as gold since the moment we met him.

I took Secret along for the ride to meet up with Joe's temporary foster mom near Rochester. Aside from it being really stinking cold outside while we were trying to make sure we covered all the info that needed to be covered, everything went very smoothly. Not having any idea how big he was, I brought Secret's wire crate to make sure he'd have plenty of room. Joe rode quietly all the way home, but I'm sure having just come out of surgery (neuter & dew claw removal) helped a little with that.

Secret was fascinated with Joe and would occasionally turn around and just watch him on the trip home. I thought they'd hit it off with no issues -- that is, until I pulled into the garage at home and all of the sudden she started to growl at him for no reason. Apparently things change when we reach our home turf!

She was fine when I got him out, though. Kaiser was the only naughty one, which was to be expected. It's easily managed by putting Kaiser in the house when Joe & Secret feel like playing, though, so it's a non-issue. He's doing much better already.

Joe is sweet as can be. He feeds off praise, loves to cuddle and just generally wants to be by people. He definitely seems food motivated (though the attention span is still pretty short) and he's been showing more interest in toys each day. That part is made difficult by Secret more or less saying, "MINE" any time he shows interest in something, but I'll start to work with him more on his own to see what interests him. This weekend was just a little crazy with getting him settled in and having a trial here in La Crosse.

Joe did pretty dang awesome at his first trial. Being raised on a farm, he has never been exposed to anything like what he experienced this weekend. He did great with all of the activity, noise (this was a LOUD trial), people, walking on a leash for the first time and having to spend so much time in a crate. He cried a bit during the briefing on Saturday when everyone left him, but after that he really didn't make much noise at all. He did start to bark at me when I gave treats to the other dogs after a run since I was doing so right next to his crate, but I started to give him pieces of chicken & cheese when he was quiet and he figured it out very quickly!

He's doing awesome with his potty training, too! Kim (who picked Joe & Mauer up from their surrendering family) said that they'd both done great with her all week and I haven't had one single accident since he came to my place. He's one smart boy, that's for sure. He's been a gem all day at the office, too.

Joe had his hind dew claws removed when he was neutered and it appears they must have been pretty major! I was very thankful that my vet (who does agility with us) offered to help me remove the bandages at the trial yesterday. I might have freaked out a bit if I would have discovered it on my own -- not to mention that he was pretty squirmy for the cutting part!

Poor Joe has a lot of staples, some pretty bad clipper burn and quite a bit of irritation. They started to bleed a bit when we removed the bandages and we worried that we'd have to re-wrap them because he was pestering them so badly. Once he got them cleaned up and the novelty wore off, though, he pretty much left them alone. He's been doing well today, so hopefully they'll heal up nice & quick. My vet recommended to go ahead and leave the staples in place for the full 10 days, though, due to the location and size.

So that's our Joe update! Let's see if we can't get this handsome fellow into a home for Christmas. :o) Or not, I really don't mind having him around. lol

Whoops! I suppose I could share his video that I made!