Saturday, March 31, 2012

Koira earned her CGC!

I had the day off from work today and took the time to go support a friend of mine at the local dog show. It was her first ever time competing in Novice Obedience with her dog Maverick, who is an 11 year old Belgian Tervuren and was retired last fall from our flyball team. 

We spent a LONG time waiting around, but took the opportunity to walk around to see all the booths. I watched the Ibizans show and saw Wilbur again. (He was the adorable wire Ibizan puppy I spent so much time taking pictures of last month at the show.)

Koira thought the dog show was boring. But, I enjoyed the shopping around at the booths. Finally, after hours of waiting and a lunch break for the judge, Mav got his turn in the ring. And together they pulled off a Q and third place for the day. I was very impressed and very proud. We have been practicing a ton after flyball class every week for just this day. Very proud of the Mavvy boy.

I also decided I should go ahead and finally enter Koira for her CGC. They offered it in the afternoon after Best of Show (won by the little Maltese). Koira was on her super best behavior, right up until we entered the ring. Unfortunately the ring chosen for the CGC testing was the same one all the groups had shown in as well as Best of Show, which meant that there was bait (treats, cookies, awesome bits of food) all over. Not in the ring, they swept it before we went in, but all along the edges. And Koira wanted every single little bit of it.

In the end, we did pass. The greeting from the evaluator went just fine, as did the brushing, ear touch, and foot pick up.Then the disaster started when we did the "out for a walk" part of the exercise, because Koira had spotted the cookies galore on just the other side of the ring gates, and she WANTED THEM. When I say cookies, I mean there were pieces over there from thumbnail size on up to the size of my thumb. I redirected Koira about three times and managed to complete the exercise, though certainly not in the best graces. The through the crowd was just as bad, done in the same location, and Koira wanted nothing more than to go snag those treats over there.

The sit, down, stay, and recall all went well. The recall wasn't as nice as I normally see, I think the long line attached to her made her hesitate a little. The walk by greet a stranger with a dog went smoothly, mostly because Koira had spotted a huge (as in the size of my cell phone) piece of what looked like dried lamb lung on the other side of the ring, straight past the person and dog. So she zeroed in on that, waited for me to greet the person without breaking concentration on that treat, then made a beeline for it straight past the distraction person who had a walker and was banging metal bowls together. Not even an eye flicker. 

When I left her with a stranger (the strangest part of the test to me, because seriously, when am I ever going to leave my dog with someone we don't know?), she spent the time cleaning up the ample supply of treats fallen below the table they stood next to, and only noticed I was gone when I was within about three feet of returning to her. 

The evaluator passed us. She saw the huge pieces of bait that Koira was going for, and while she said we technically had a tight leash too often, she thought the distraction of the bait left over from conformation was more than should be expected for the CGC, especially since we did really well on the other parts of it. I think she also had seen Koira doing perfect heeling up and down outside of the ring while we waited for our turn. 

So, we passed. Not the way I wanted to do it, really, but we passed. I'm a good bit more worried about what will happen when we enter the obedience or rally ring for the first time. But, hopefully there won't be treats scattered all over the floor in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. And we will now be working on walking past such distractions. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Daily Dog Challenge Update

I haven't updated the blog with the Daily Dog Challenge photos in a while. No reason in particular, so I thought I would post some of them up today.

Koira, by the way, went back to flyball practice for the first time last night. We did really light work with her, a few run aways over jumps, and a few box turns. She burned out one of her pads, so I need to come up with something to help toughen them up. Other than burning out her pads, causing limping, and freaking me out, she did really good. She was certainly excited to be there and her box turns looked really nice.

If you are interested in what challenge each picture was for, you should be able to see the Flickr description by hovering your cursor over the photo. You can also click on the photo to be taken to it's location over on Flickr.

144. "Arts and Crafts" - Our dogs all have some form of inner artist - paw prints, "carved" sticks, home "redecorations", etc. Show us your dog's handiwork today! - last day Mar 29

137. "Razzle Dazzle" - Take a picture of your dog with something sparkling or shiny today. You can have as much or little as you like! - last day Mar 22

143. "Simple" - Take a photo of your dog with a simple composition today. Don't overthink it! - last day Mar 28

141. "Up High" - On a chair, on a stair? On a hill, for a thrill? What high place can you take a photo of your dog from today? - last day Mar 26

140. "Changing Seasons" - Show us how the seasons are changing where you and your dog live today! - last day Mar 25

136. "My Bowl" - Does your dog eat from fine china? Stainless steel? Something altogether different? Show us your dog's bowl today! - last day Mar 21

135. "Stuffies and Toys" - How does your dog feel about stuffies and toys? Is there a favorite? Are they well-loved or treasured? Show us today with a photo! - last day Mar 20

132. "It's Complementary" - Make a photo of two complimentary objects today. - last day Mar 17

134. "Where, oh where has my little dog gone?" - What has your dog been up to today? Has he been somewhere? Did he curl up in his favorite hiding spot? Show us with a photo! - last day Mar 19

This is one of my favorites, though it wasn't what I was going for at the time.
133. "Under" -Be it a tree, blanket, or the weather - let's see your dog physically or metaphorically Under something!

131. "Vivid Hues" - Take a picture of your dog today that features vivid colors! - last day Mar 16

127. "Will work for ____" - Our dogs all have different motivators. Show us what your dog works for today! - last day Mar 12

126. "Walk Ten Minutes" - Walk ten minutes from home and take an interesting photo today! - last day Mar 11

128. "The Sky's the Limit" - Make a photo of your dog that emphasizes the sky today. - last day Mar 13

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Pallo's Big Mouth

Koira is doing good, and still well on the road to recovery. But, my camera battery died while I was trying to get some shots of Pallo (who I started with), so I am short on shots of Koira today. Plus, Pallo has a huge mouth.

Mid-catch of the now-infamous pink ball. Pallo shows off his pearly whites and his crazy eyes.

142. "Do Over" - We've all had those shots that we thought would turn out well, and then there was just something about it that didn't work the way we planned or hoped. Or maybe you just had more ideas than you could fit into one assignment. In any event,

When given the challenge to take a picture of my dog with a flower, I first took a few classic shots of Pallo laying nicely in front of a bed of flowers. Then I thought again, picked up a flower from the ground that had already been broken off, and tried for a more unique view. You know, if unique view can be defined as my dog's mouth open huge.
147. "Flower Power" - Take a picture of your dog with a flower. It can be one flower or a lot of flowers, real or artificial! - last day Apr 1

Don't worry, he didn't actually get the flower in his mouth for more than a half second, just long enough to catch and spit.

An additional photo of Pallo's Big Mouth is from our snow day on Thursday, when we received record breaking snow fall for March. And apparently, this made Pallo MAD.
  Mad Zombie Vampire Teeth
In reality, though, Pallo always looks like this when playing with Koira. Its kind of unnerving to look at pictures of him, because in real time, his huge snarling face isn't nearly as obvious.

Martha also did not want to be left out of Tasty Tuesday. True to form, she was so put out by the dogs getting all the treats during training time that I had to set aside some time to work with her as well. I wanted to get pictures of her in the snow. Instead, I ended up with pictures of Martha eating my hand while staying in the snow, because as soon as I took my hand (and the treat in it) away, she hopped out of the snow.

Martha eating my hand

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Koira Update and Pictures

There has been a sad lack of Koira pictures on the blog as of late, which has also been the case in the Daily Dog Challenge photos as well. Pallo has been my prime poser for pictures, the one who gets to run around and do stuff, and the one who has run around enough that he can sit still and pose instead of bouncing off the walls completely.

Koira likes to sleep on her back. She often starts out curled up, or on her side, and then somehow morphs into this. We call this the "dying cockroach" position.
143. "Simple" - Take a photo of your dog with a simple composition today. Don't overthink it! - last day Mar 28

I found this big open field on the way to flyball practice and just had to stop for a few pictures. I took some with Pallo as well, but Koira's striking coloring just really made the photo pop.
139. "Leading Lines" - Take a photo with some kind of leading lines today. They can be natural or created. - last day Mar 24

Koira, of course, needed her close up in the snow today as well. We had about 6 inches of snow pile up here, which is officially the highest snow fall on record for the month of March in my area, and the highest snow fall since the 60s for ANY time of the year.
Koira in the snow

Every so often, I look at the stats about who visits this blog and how they find it. "Dog Teeth" is one of the major search terms that lead people to my blog. So, I figured I should oblige my readers and post some more dog teeth. After all, Koira was willing to open wide for a photo op. This is my four-year-old dog's mouth. She has never had a dental of any kind. (Don't worry, "Cow Butts" is still one of the top draws to the blog. I plan on finding some local farms this spring to bring my readers more of what they want.)
Koira's Huge Mouth

And of course a Koira with her shadow picture. I actually did let Koira romp in the snow some today, because, well, it is the highest snow fall in a huge long time and my dogs love snow. Plus, she has been doing really good, building up muscle, and having no limping, so it is time to increase her activity anyway. She is doing fine tonight after her extra exercise today, so hopefully we can keep increasing her gradually until she is in race-shape again.
Koira and Pallo in the snow

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Sardines

I picked up 25 pounds of whole, flash frozen sardines for the dogs last weekend. Sardines are a great source of Omega 3, which is not found in sufficient quantities in grain-fed animals (such as the pork, chicken, and beef at the grocery store). Plus, my dogs seem to like sardines, they are very reasonably priced, and, since they are flash-frozen whole, they are a great item that I can grab and toss to the dogs if I forgot to get out meat to thaw the night before.

130. "Fun With Food" - Take a creative picture of your dog's food or treats today! - last day Mar 15
Pallo loves his sardines, and tells everyone else to back away from his breakfast.

And since I had a picture of Pallo eating sardines, I thought I would share one of Koira eating a boneless pork roast. Because she is so glamorous.

Happy Tasty Tuesday!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some obedience work

On Sunday I had the day off from work, so I decided it was a great day to put together my indoor dog therapy pool that I had been planning for a while. (For details, check out my blog post about it at Crazy Dog Projects, my new blog.)
Canon 6271
Koira in her new indoor swimming pool

I went to Home Depot to pick up the materials, and used it as an opportunity to do some training with Koira. Home Depot has a policy of allowing leashed dogs in the store. We saw two other dogs in the time that we were there, along with many, many people, children, and shopping carts and trollies of all sizes and shapes.

I spent some time just getting Koira to give me some of her attention, just by rewarding her when she did look at me. Once she was giving me her attention readily, we did some heeling practice up and down the aisle, weaving in and out and around people and objects. We also practiced halts, fronts, finishes, and both sit-walk-arounds and down-walk-arounds. No stay practice because I only had my four foot leash with me and want to make sure to follow the on-leash rule to the letter. Next time I'll bring my 10 foot long line and do some stay practice on the less busy aisles.

Koira was a bit afraid of the large carts used for hauling lumber around, so I did some treating on the cart until she was comfortable enough to even ride on it for a while. We got some strange looks from people, but most of the comments were about how adorable she was.

Canon 6242
Koira riding on the shopping cart. (I was told a dog in a cart counts as being on leash)

Overall, Koira did great with her obedience practice. She was paying good attention to me (though I did have treats along) and seemed happy and eager to work, even with all the distractions of being in a new, different, and busy place.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Flyball pictures

I handed off my camera to a team mate at practice on Thursday and he managed to get a couple good pictures of Pallo on the box. We also found out that Pallo doesn't really mind the flash on right in his face, he is too focused on doing his job.

And no one said flyball was elegant. Huge amounts of spit are permitted.

This is Zip, a Tervuren on our team. She gets super excited about flyball, and is a barking, slobbering maniac with a high-pitched, ear-shattering yodel of happiness. I think she looks kind of like the saber toothed squirrel from Ice Age when she peels back her lips and nose to get a really nice, loud bark going on.

Pallo is doing good with flyball. He is holding on to his ball the whole way back, and we are working on having him do this even with another dog passing into him. He has dropped early (not before the line early, but before I want him to early) a couple times, but it takes only a simple reminder that no ball means no tug and he remembers to hold the ball the whole way.

134. "Where, oh where has my little dog gone?" - What has your dog been up to today? Has he been somewhere? Did he curl up in his favorite hiding spot? Show us with a photo! - last day Mar 19
This is what Pallo looks like after running flyball- tired, tongue out, hot, glassy eyed.

 Koira is still not doing flyball while she rebuilds some more muscle. I do bring her along, though, and bring her in to the building for obedience practice after we finish cleaning up from flyball. I am not doing anything super serious with her, just working on her giving me her full attention, doing some sit-walk-arounds and down-walk-arounds, as well as doing long sit and long down practice (we are doing 1 and 3 respectively with those). She still breaks her stays some, but more just by shifting position than anything else. We're working on it.

And, one out take from my St. Patrick's Day photo session.

Canon 5976

Martha wasn't too sure about wearing the hat for pictures, so I had to so some click-and-treating with her to get her used to it (I use the camera shutter as the click for this type of training). Once she realized that she got treats for leaving the hat alone, the rest of the session was about as easy as you can expect any cat photo session to be. The picture, by the way, is of her getting her treat, not biting me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A dog named Mellie

Something I often say about flyball is how awesome the team aspect is. Having people by your side during training and at tournaments, to share in your defeats as well as the wins, and to really share every aspect of the experience, is something pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever really mentioned before, though, how much this goes beyond your immediate team.

In the flyball world, we often become close to members of other teams by interacting at tournaments, running in Open together, talking training details, or just seeing each other at every flyball event, be it a tournament or a local fun match. Flyball becomes a community that is much larger than just the individual or even the individual teams.

Recently, my local flyball community took a blow when a border collie named Mellie was injured playing disc at a local park. Mellie belongs to Greta Kaplan, who leads and trains the Portland Tailblazer's flyball team. Greta also does training work with reactive dogs or those with behavioral issues.

Mellie-10mosRunning-byTami Mellie is a six year old border collie who is active not only in flyball and disc, but also in herding, obedience, rally, nosework, and other dog sports. Mellie always gives 110% in everything she does. She is a handful on the starting line in flyball, but she knows her job and gives every single heat everything she has, even at the end of the day on Sunday when even the most reliable dogs are getting tired and making mistakes.

Mellie-13mos-carrytug2 Mellie helps her mom out around the house by picking up dropped objects (and greatly enjoys doing her work!), and also helps out the reactive dogs Greta works with on a daily basis by being the decoy dog, distraction dog, and meet and greet dog. Mellie loves going to work with her mom, and happily jumps into the car every time.

Mellie is Greta's heart dog- Greta, who gives her heart to every dog she puts so much time and effort into training and rehabilitating. Mellie always gets along with everyone, and is always there. She loves to rest her chin on Greta's shoulder in bed, and will give a little hop to help her mom pick her up.
But now, Mellie has a full cruciate ligament rupture as well as an unstable knee joint. She had surgery to repair both of these problems, including an older surgical method used to stabilize the knee joint with, basically, fishing line strung through. Mellie is doing good post surgery, doing regular rehab exercises including twice-a-week under water treadmill (thanks to the very generous support of a sports rehab vet who is also a part of our flyball community).
Greta has set up a Chip-In, which you may have noticed displayed on the side bar of my blog for the past couple of weeks. Many very generous people have donated to help pay for Mellie's surgery, but the full amount has not yet been raised. If you don't have the ability to donate, I hope you have been able to just read this post about an incredible dog, and that it helps you appreciate not only those incredible dogs in your own household, but those owned by your community as well, be they family, friends, or dog sports competitors that you see most every weekend.

Mellie in action on the big screen at a Portland Trailblazer's half time show 

 If you do have the means and desire to donate, you can do so either on the sidebar or using the link below. And know that you are not only helping out Mellie and her mom Greta, but an entire community of dog lovers who would have been much worse off without this amazing team in action.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Bath time

Okay, I lied, it isn't wordless.

Pallo has been driving me batty with all of his shedding, and normal brushing and bathing just wasn't getting rid of his undercoat.

So I decided to torture him by going to a self-service grooming shop, brushing him to within an inch of his life, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, condition, rinse, towel dry. Followed by the secret weapon to combat shedding: force-air dryer.

 Pallo was less than thrilled about the entire operation.

And since it took an hour and a half total, I can't really blame him. We saw four other dogs come in, get complete baths, and leave, in the time I spent on Pallo.

In the end, totally worth it. My dog is super clean, smells good, completely dry by the end of our extended time with the force-air dryer, and has not a bit of extra undercoat left to shed. At least, for the rest of the day. I'm hoping this may have at least leveled the playing field, giving me a chance to combat the shedding with daily brushing again, at least for a while.

And totally by accident, I ended up with this photo of Pallo, just a dog with his ball. And I think I love this photo. A lot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rain, rain

We've been getting a ton of rain these past few days. Friday was bright and clear, and then the clouds rolled in for the weekend and don't seem to want to leave.

On Thursday, I took Pallo on a walk down the bike path and out to this little meadow off to the side, totally enclosed by trees. We played around a bit. Pallo was running full out, woofing as he went, just out of pure happiness. I of course had to get pictures of him doing so.

And of him rolling in the bright green grass, just because he is happy.

I love this crazy beast.
Then, a few hours later, I realized I lost my phone. Right as I was about to head out the door for flyball practice. And the last place I saw it was when I was talking with my dad, on the way to this field where Pallo was so happy.

With no time to look for my phone and still get to practice on time (and anyone who knows me knows flyball practice is simply not something you are late for), I decided to have a friend call it a few times that night to see if anyone would answer, and go to look for it in the morning. Quick flyball training update: Pallo is holding his ball all the way back to me for a full sized tug, even with another dog passing into him. I like to think he is also speeding up a bit, since he slowed down a lot when he had to remember to carry his ball. We are having to miss the upcoming flyball tournament this month due to a lack of passport, but hoping to get a chance to go to some tournaments soon.

First thing Friday morning, before heading up to Salem for Koira's swim therapy, I took Pallo back out to the field with me. My guess was the phone fell out of my pocket while I was playing with him and taking pictures. So I told Pallo to "find it" which is our normal cue for him to go find his lost toy. I'm pretty sure he finds his toys based on them smelling like me, because he will pick out the tennis ball I touched out of a bucket of balls. After bringing me a few sticks and being told no, go find it, and seeing me walking a grid up and down the field, Pallo started doing the same, sniffing all the while. Then he stopped, pawed something on the ground and looked at me. It was my phone.

We did a celebrate dance, then I had him find it a couple more times by tossing it a few feet away and telling him "find it" and throwing a party when he went and pawed the phone. I think I may need to train him to actually locate objects on purpose now.

(Oh, and my phone was none the worse for the wear of laying in an open field all night. It even still had a full battery charge.)

Short Koira update: Koira seems to be doing fine. I am starting up on-the-ball work with her again, doing two five minute sessions once or twice a day. We are also increasing the two ten minute walks per day to two or three fifteen minute walks per day. By using the ball work to focus on her core muscles, I hope to help her regain some of her lost muscle and tone. We will also be continuing with swimming whenever my work schedule allows us to get up to Salem.

Sorry for the lack of Koira pictures lately. With her restrictions, I am having a hard time getting pictures of her doing anything but laying around, and I only need so many pictures of my dog sleeping. Plus, she is so excited when out of the house now that her modeling skills have taken a nose dive. Hopefully with her increases in exercise I will be able to share some more exciting photos of her soon.