Friday, December 30, 2011

Scary Thought

I renewed Kibeth and JoJo's licenses for 3 years yesterday. I have this funny feeling that it's going to be the last time. :(

With these thoughts, my coping method is to plan for the future. I've already decided I want border collies next. I'm doing my research, getting the finances in order to have a house with a yard by then. Dolce, of course, is the inspiration for this change.

Despite joint supplements, Kibeth is finding it harder to get up the 20 steps to our 2nd floor apartment. JoJo is losing weight. Both have significantly diminished energy, despite cooler weather, which perked them up at the end of summer.

Were it not for Dolce, I would be going stir crazy. Much of my work is done from home, and taking an energizing break to train, play, jog, bike, or some combo is a Godsend! I love his energy, zest for life, and immediate willingness to do whatever I want to do. I love how quickly he learns, too. The reactivity is coming along, and we start Rescue Rehab class in January with Sue Myles. Hopefully, this class will provide the final piece(s) to the puzzle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dolce does agility!

I made a separate training website that also has a blog.  Visit my posts here.

Today, Dolce and I did our first little mini course!  I made it up in my living room/kitchen area, and we did a loop around my kitchen island.  He had 2 jumps, and a pause table.  We did lead-outs, front-crosses, and "follow the finger" instead of "follow me."  I must say, he's a natural!  I made a fake tunnel as best I could with a dog bed over open drawers between my kitchen cabinets and island.  He showed no hesitation going through that, so I'm optimistic he won't mind a tunnel when the time comes.  I already know he'll jump up on anything I point to, so I'm not too worried about the A-frame or dogwalk.  That just leaves a teeter.  No idea how to replicate that with at-home materials yet.  We shall see!

True to the NILIF system, kibble was the reward for today's activities/training.  A good old fashioned chase-the-stuffy game afterward didn't hurt. :)  The greys also did some jumping.  JoJo is very enthusiastic!  Kibeth is aloof, but willing once she starts to feel left out.

I need to be better about their teeth-brushing.  I'm only getting to it a few times a week.  I swear.  Every. Day. From. Now.  On!

Dolce and I also had a wonderful bike ride this morning.  Tremendous fun, and I think the little guy might actually be tired after all this work!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Training Website

I've decided to keep track of Dolce, Kibeth, and JoJo's training on its own website.  That site is Pawsitive Training Tails.  We'd love comments on the blog. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kibeth & JoJo Excited to Train!

Tonight, as usual, I trained Dolce some drills on his basics: sit, front, down, paw, rollover, touch, shake, stand, sit up... All while the grey girls were eating their dinner on the patio, as usual.

When the girls finished and came in, guess who wanted to train with Dolce? Kibeth! Shortly thereafter, JoJo was pretty eager to show off her tricks, too! So all three dogs had fun training tonight. It was really great. Makes me so happy when the girls want to go to work.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dolce has frustration reactivity!

Thanks to The Spotted Tongue blog, I am able to classify Dolce's reactivity as frustrated.

"1. Fear. Dogs that lack socialization often react to every little noise, every little thing they see. That tall guy in the hat? They've never seen something like that before, they get scared, and so lash out. Barking and lunging will make the scary thing go away! That dog who is easily twice their size? They've never met a dog that big, they get scared, and lash out at that. To the laymen it looks like aggression and while it's a form of aggression, the root cause of it is fear.

2. Frustration. Some dogs have little frustration tolerance and so when they see something they want to get to but can't (because they're on leash or behind a fence), they lash out in frustration. I liken it to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. They lose all control of themselves and bark and lunge. It looks nearly the same as the fear response, but isn't.

The body language for the two is different, especially in the ear set (back for fear, forward for frustration) and tail set (down much further for a fearful dog)."

We made good progress again today with several close encounters on our hike, but were surprised by an Aussie shepherd from close behind and had an episode at the end. However, Dolce needed far fewer treats today, and has started working for a mix of treats and kibble. I am an avid fan of NILIF and it's very appealing to have Dolce happily work for nothing more than his breakfast. :)

Our proudest discovery of the day was when Dolce played, "Look, a dog!" with an oncoming dog without me standing between him an the other dog. We passed with nothing more than a split rail fence and some short shrubs between us and no great shakes multiple times. I'm a proud Mama. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tooth Brushing

Ever since watching Never Say Never Greyhounds' video about successfully brushing her needle nose hounds' teeth and avoiding denials, I've been breathing a sigh of relief. Although I believe a raw diet is far more nutritious than a commercial diet, I am squeamish. I do not enjoy handling raw meat. I do not enjoy packaging every week. I do not enjoy worrying about poisoning, disinfecting. I'm lazy, I suppose. I have done it for a few years for the good of my dogs, because I love them. Primarily, though, it has been dental hygiene inspired. With the glorious news that is not the only way, I'm just fine with finding a high quality can and kibble diet for my dogs. Dolce lives on training treats anyway, LOL.

JoJo still has to have a hybrid diet as her kidneys do not tolerate the higher levels of phosphorus. As JoJo must have raw, Kibeth can, too. However, both of them are having kibble and can in the morning now. It's so much more convenient. I put Dolce's kibble in a Kong Wobbler and he has a blast working the kibble out for breakfast and dinner.

The girls have always been nice and tolerant of having their teeth brushed. I got Petrodex toothpaste, per the aforementioned video, and they are even more agreeable. Dolce was the wildcard. He's a wiggle worm for nail trims, and the beginning stages of toothbrushing proved to be no different. Since watching me do the girls, however, he's learning how to sit nicely, or even lay down for his brushing session. He's eager now, gets very excited, because he loves the taste! If I let him just gnaw on the toothbrush, he'd do so.

I have the girls on Canidae grain-free Pure Elements formula can + kibble, and Dolce on Taste of the Wild, the purple bag... Lamb and something, also grain-free. All is going well so far.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Goals for Dolce & Hybrid Diet

We really can't rush his reactivity rehabilitation. Determination isn't enough. We have to take it at his pace. Unfortunately, it's much slower than I would like.

There is steady improvement, but I've decided to take the pressure off. For now, he's just going to be my hyper, goofy, adorable pup. No goals of agility classes, passing the CGC or PAT. If and when he overcomes his canine reactivity we will reconsider at that time. :-/

I've got the greys on a hybrid diet again. Since watching a video of effective tooth brushing, I feel we can make this work. Dolce is strictly on kibble, though most of his diet comes treats on walks when we encounter strange dogs. ;-P

Friday, September 9, 2011

Progressive Reinforcement Training: Where has this been all my life?!

Emily Larhlam... In short, I think she's a genius.  She's a positive-reinforcement, clicker trainer, and she coined the term, progressive-reinforcement.  I'm soaking it all up like a dried up sponge.  She has a border collie named Splash, a terrier mix named Tug, and a chihuahua with a hock defect named Kiko.  Her main YouTube channel is called Kikopup.  I would highly encourage anyone training a dog for anything to check it out.  Honestly, there is a free how-to video for just about everything.  You can go to her personal website, Dogmantics, too.

I love the resources I've found in books by Leslie McDevitt, Patricia McConnell, Ali Brown, etc. and I read them frequently via my Kindle.  However, nothing quite compares to this lady's work.

I've made astounding progress in the last month with Dolce using the principles from these four gurus.  I owe it all to the top four above, and I'm so grateful to my friends on live journal who introduced me to them.  While I'm not entirely against Cesar Millan, I can completely see the possibilities and benefits to positive-only training.  This will be my mission, should I pursue dog training in any capacity, from now on.

Please, this logo is free on Ms. Larlham's website.
If you train and want to join the bandwagon,
add this image to your website or blog.

So what have Dolce and I achieved, specifically?  Well, we were passed by a husky the other day, who has set Dolce off on numerous previous occasions, within 8 feet without a negative reaction.  Dolce gave me about 10 auto-looks in a row, and that was it, the dog had passed.  Any outbursts Dolce does have are much easier to redirect.  He calms down after a reactive episode so much sooner.  I feel it's all down hill from here.  I'm eager to get back out into the world, socialize like crazy to finish things up, and get into classes so we can compete ASAP.  I just know he's so talented, he'll take to dog sports like a lab to water.  I only hope I can keep up with him. :P

Sorry I haven't posted much recently.  I hope to be better from now on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Controversial Cesar Millan

I am so sick and tired of reading about how everyone hates Cesar.  I need to vent.  Please do NOT comment with strictly anti-Cesar remarks.

  • Am I a fan? Yep.  Is my whole family a fan?  Yep.  Do we like dominance theory-based training?  Definitely not, and my Dad used to be that way, and his Grandfather before him.  We do NOT believe Cesar uses those methods, though he borrows the terminology for ease of communication.  Energy can be reinterpreted as attitude and intention.  Dominance can be reinterpreted as leader-like or confident. Submission can be reinterpreted as respectful.  If he were to use other terminology, I think it would go over much better with the positive only people.
  • Think about his motives.  Yes, he has a TV show; yes, he has to make a living.  NO, HE DOES NOT INTENTIONALLY HARM/ABUSE DOGS.  You can clearly see that man LOVES dogs, and he works for THEM.  Keep things in this perspective.
  • Do I think there are less aversive ways to accomplishing the same goal with really tough cases? Yes, but they take longer.  I don't think every owner will be the kind of person to commit to a regimen that demands so much and shows such small improvement over a relatively long period of time.  Even though, yes, I believe they should.
  • Do I think his ways are effective and another option for the really tough guys? Yes.  For an extremely sensitive/fearful dog, definitely not; but there are cases that are too confident where this may be more effective.
  • Do I think of him as a trainer?  No.  Does he use the so-called controversial methods for obedience/trick training? No!!
  • Does he avidly support and use positive reinforcement methods for such training? YES!!  The problem is, and I agree, this isn't always feasible.  I'd rather fix a dog the hard way than give up and euthanize, all because an owner doesn't have the patience to fix a dog the nice way (when it can take many months or even YEARS).  Perhaps the dog is reacting poorly to a newborn human baby.  There is a serious time crunch, and no rescue will be able to guarantee a happy home for such a dog with that history.  Repressing a bad behavior is what most people do, until it becomes the new norm.  I see no reason why it's so evil for dogs.  The risk, of course, is relapse.  That's why Cesar emphasizes that the owners must do their homework after he leaves and the show is over.  He's only just begun the rehabilitation process, he doesn't work a lasting-miracle in a 30 minute segment -- nor does he claim to.
  • Is he implementing more and more positive reinforcement in the show and in his work on a regular basis?  Yep.  He's taking on less severe cases (for the most part) than the first seasons, showing the lighter side.
  • Does Cesar (at least recently) make every effort to keep the dog under threshold? Yep, his strategy is escalation prevention.  Is this always possible when the owner makes a mistake?  No.  Does he believe, as many horse trainers do, that if an animal misbehaves, you can't give up until you've accomplished your goal?  Yes.  Positive trainers refer to this as ending on a positive note.
  • If my greyhounds had behavioral problems, I'd be screwed trying to fix them with positive methods.  They are not very highly motivated individuals by anything when outside.  Praise, treats, toys... the only thing that makes them interested even briefly are those grilled chicken strips intended for salads. I'd probably have to skip meals to make them interested enough, even in those.  Yes, they live without a meal or two or three, but they don't know why I'm skipping their meal, and they know it's time; I really am uncomfortable doing so.  Regardless, those chicken packets come at a hefty price when added up over the time/quantity needed.  It's not realistic.  They would never be rehabilitated using treats.
  • The same goes for all dogs over threshold -- they no longer care about treats.  Cesar works with them when they are in this mental state because they must learn an off-switch to be sane again.  Do they learn anywhere near as well in this state? Nope, and Cesar knows it.  That's why he always works to prevent an escalation.  Is it still necessary?  I think so, because life happens, and people won't react perfectly when it does -- but the dog still needs to be manageable.
  • It frustrates me to no end when people claim that dogs never roll each other to tell another dog to quit, calm down, or knock it off.  My greyhound, Kibeth, does this to the rambunctious Dolce of her own accord at least once a week.  She uses her paw and just pushes him down to the ground on his side, where he lies belly up -- looking apologetically, but calmly up at her.  She releases him, and that's that.  JoJo has nipped him on the neck when he annoys her by licking her face for too long.  People can't be dogs, but I don't see why mimicking these behaviors is such a bad thing.  Charades is an effective game because we use universal people gestures to communicate without spoken language.  I see no reason to not use this notion when communicating with our dogs.  Communicate as they do to get your point across.  Feedback of all sorts, "Yes, do that!" and "No, stop that!" are equally important, in my opinion.  If a puppy starts chewing on your fancy shoes, you likely say, "No!" and then if you're smart, hand over something else they are allowed to chew on.  I favor this methodology.
  • People who claim that dogs are not pack animals really bother me.  When Hurricane Katrina hit, surviving, abandoned dogs formed packs to survive -- as they do in other natural disaster situations.  Feral dogs also form packs, though there are loaners.  It's a survival instinct, it's a social need.
  • JoJo breaks up fights at dog parks.  I wish I could catch it on video, she's amazing.  All she does is run between dogs who are rough-housing too intensely, or even dogs who are all-out fighting.  I swear, she'd be a hippy if she were human.  Some people call this dominance, I think of it more like refereeing.  Either way, the idea of, "Snapping them out of it," is a good one!  JoJo, because she can run 40 mph, uses her speed.  The arguing dogs look up, dazed, and have a very clear, "WTF was that?" expression on their faces.  They go back to playing, but happily and peacefully instead of fighting.  Cesar uses his hands (bite mimic/touch) or the leash to accomplish the same -- more about the leash portion later.
  • Lots of people insinuate that Cesar is not as effective as he seems; the dogs revert to their previous poor behaviors and end up rehomed, euthanized, or continue their less-than-ideal lives (in varying degrees of misery).  This is not always the case, but I do know of a few followups that were not a happy ending.  Perhaps there are more, it doesn't really matter.  Give me a positive trainer who has succeeded with every dog and every human 100% and I will worship them.  Victoria Stilwell suggests people rehome their dogs sometimes.  Does that mean she failed?  No, it's just that the dog/family is not a good match.  I like the phrase, "A tired dog is a happy dog."  To me, it means that the owner must be up to the task of providing the necessary mental and physical stimulation a dog requires EVERY DAY.  When they are not, it's not an ideal match.  That lack of ideal pairing may be workable or not, depending on the severity.  This is true, in my opinion, no matter what your training philosophy may be, and does not necessarily reflect on a trainer's success.  That Cesar doesn't always suggest a rehoming only shows his hopefulness that with the proof of possibility, the owners will have the commitment necessary to see it through.
  • Those who claim that Cesar cannot read a dog's body language forget the human error component.  Again, Cesar admits he makes mistakes sometimes, but everyone can.  Interpretation is a very subjective thing, and anyone can see something from one angle, and something completely different from another; but of the exact same subject at the exact same time.  I saw a comment on a YouTube video by KikoPup that read something like, "I've noticed Kiko always has her tail between her legs in your videos, why is she always so scared around you?" I don't remember the exact wording, but that was the accusation.  Now KikoPup, for those who don't know, is a wonderful positive trainer.  I admire her videos, and am grateful to my livejournal community buddies for introducing me to her channel recently.  The explanation, logically, as kikopup replied, is that Kiko has very thin hair, and she's almost always cold.  Someone watching without the sound might see the grim, slightly nervous-looking face of kikopup, and believe with good reason that Kiko is interpreting her owner's unpleasant facial expressions and is afraid.  Point is, though Cesar is/could be wrong at times, I don't think everyone else can make judgments without being there -- even in a video.  The removal of the sense of presence is important, at least to me.
  • I hate it when people attack his personal dogs.  They are ambassadors, each of them, and it is clear that Cesar and his family love them very much and provide a fulfilling lifestyle for them.  Those who complain that they must lead miserable lives helping to rehabilitate unbalanced dogs must not appreciate bomb-detection dogs, police dogs, or any dog who will be uncomfortable at times while on the job, but revel in their work.  These dogs are clearly not sad, abused, overly distressed, or miserable.
I feel like if Cesar is really the evil, domineering, abusive behaviorist that everyone on the other side of the fence thinks he is, there'd be a lot more sound (yelling) and physical contact than there is.  He doesn't use choke chains, he uses whatever the owner is already using.  The only time this changes is when the owner is stupid, and tries to get a dog to stop pulling with a harness leashed to the back, or something similarly and obviously ineffective.  There is a practical side to his methods, which is what makes them and him appealing.  Carrying treats on every walk and having the feeling that I am only bribing my dog to behave doesn't make sense to me sometimes.  However, I have learned that I can "snap Dolce out of it" when he becomes reactive with a treat just as well as I can a touch.  As a treat also means reward, I'm choosing to use the former for effectiveness.  If he didn't snap out of it for the treat, I would use touch, assuming that the  touch would snap him out of it.

My big issues with Cesar and his show are:
  • It is highly unlikely that most anyone else can replicate his methods due to the human nature of error.  I do believe that misinterpreted, people can abuse their dogs mimicking what he does on the show.  He admits he makes mistakes -- we all do; but someone who doesn't have his experience would be WAY worse.  So I definitely don't think anyone should try this on their own without him, or someone trained extensively by him.
  • Not using a harness clipped to the front ring instead of that $0.35 leash.  I understand the principle that it's not the $50 leash or collar, it's the person, and I commend him for making this point. However, I do wish he'd do away with anything that can tighten fully around a dog's neck.  Unless the dog is a real puller and will disregard the pull to the front of their body, this pairing would be much less aversive to the dogs and I've found it very effective with Dolce.  Even swapping for a martingale collar would make me feel more at ease.
  • Change the vocabulary.  "Educated people" (including Cesar) are opposed to Dominance Theory (as we understand it to be abusive and intimidating) so he should avoid resembling it like the plague.  He should address these concerns by changing the terminology to better suit the reality of what he actually does; which I do NOT believe to be in the same category.  My suggestions above are some of many applicable options.
  • The Dog Psychology Center is not a feasible option for most people.  Based on my very positive experience when I had to board Dolce at a doggy daycare, if the resource isn't available, Cesar's ideas for the really tough guys won't work.  That's why I wish people would band together to help in this way, rather than touting it as unrealistic.  Best Friends does it one way, Cesar does it another -- it's a good way to do it.
What I'm uncertain about:
  • Claims that dogs don't have hierarchies (leaders & followers) in their packs as wolves do.  I can see that going both ways, or perhaps somewhere down the middle -- with the leader being a fluid position, filled as needed by the most competent pack member at the time in the situation.  That is my experience with my 3 dogs, at least.  Kibeth is the queen at home, though she rarely takes much advantage of it.  JoJo is the queen at the park, if we're outside or have to travel in the car.  Dolce follows them both easily, though often tries their patience.  All 3 dogs listen to me more than they listen to Rick.  I suspect it's strictly because he does no training with them, so they have no experience following his commands and recognizing them as such.  Similar to when border collies follow the command, "Sit" only when said a certain way.  Any deviation is an entirely new command to them, because they're so smart and aware/alert.
  • The intimidation factor.  I think people, by nature, are intimidating to all animals.  I'm tempted to believe that no matter what training regimen we follow, we intimidate our pets to some degree. That Cesar comes across as intimidating is only because of the situation he faces -- not because of his intention to be scary.
  • Comparisons from horse training, human education, etc.  I'm not sure they apply at all, or if they apply all the time, or somewhere in the middle.  If only we could think like dogs and horses do. ;-)
I would like us all to learn from Cesar that dogs want balance.  I'm sure other trainers believe this, too.  If a dog is unbalanced in any way, I firmly believe that we, people, are likely responsible for at least a majority of it.  There is the nature/genetics factor, but as breeders of these pet dogs, we (in general, no one specifically) are ultimately responsible for that.  There is the environmental factor, which we cannot possibly be 100% in control of, but we should be when bringing an animal into our lives.  If our dogs are out of balance, we have only us, the human race, and the universe/fate/destiny/God (whichever you believe in) to blame.  Let's work together to fix it as best we can!!

In short, I don't care who the trainer is or what the method is.  If the dog is truly happy and balanced, the owner/trainer did a good job.  This precludes abusive methods in itself.  Before we pass judgment on someone, keep in mind their intention, and remember that no one can be perfect.  Certainly not me; but not you, either.  (Pointed at no one in particular, FYI.) Let's admit our faults, learn from them throughout our lives, and see people for who they are in each moment, rather than just who they were.  When Cesar first came here, and he became famous, he wrote, Cesar's Way.  Like the book or not, in his next book, he mentions how he has discovered other methods, namely positive reinforcement, and has broadened his horizons since he wrote Cesar's Way.  He's a work in progress... just like everyone else.  Let's support his growth in this "nice training" realm, rather than bash his previous "all-dominance" attitude, as some continue to do.  Let's celebrate his tremendous efforts to mass improve the welfare of dogs in the world through rescue, education and awareness.  I, personally, am very grateful in this way.  He is the one who introduced me to the idea of psychiatric service dogs with the episode on Sparky and AJ.

Whew.  Sorry for the book, but I feel better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Retirement Years

I'm slightly sad to say that Kibeth is really slowing down lately.  I know she turns 9 in October, but wow.  She prefers more leisurely walks, and doesn't want to jog anymore.  She hardly ever has zoomies, except for a few brief strides at the dog park last weekend -- those were the first in quite a while.

I am growing more and more aware of the risks of old age with her.  It's weighing heavily on my mind.  She's my first dog.  This December 10th will be 6 beautiful years together.  I remember when she first came home, she slept all the time.  She slept like she'd never slept a good night's sleep in her entire life.  She was 3 when I brought her home.  After that, we worked on her insecurities.  My touching her ears did not mean death, nor did touching her paws.  Though she now trusts me with "Shake" I have never clipped her toenails.  However, she is more permissive with the vet techs or groomers.  She never used to seek attention, but she always reveled in a good neck scritch.  We do "Car Wash" where she will walk between my legs, slowly, while I scratch/rub/massage all along her sides and back until I get to her hips... where evidently, the car wash breaks down because I always have to push her the rest of the way through when I can't give her anymore because my hands hurt and my arms are sore!  Haha.  She's a tough love kind of Mama, but she's wise.  Her face gets grayer and grayer, and all I can think is how little time it seems we've been together.

I remember it took her 2 weeks to learn how to sit, and to sit on command.  She is one of the finnickiest eaters ever.  We must have tried every kibble on the market before going raw 2 years ago and loving it!  She loathed a crate, but she's always had her giant leopard bed.  That bed will be hers for the rest of her life, and I swear it will go with her to the grave.  She chose me by laying in that bed, and it seems only fitting that it be hers forever and in heaven.

Gosh, I'm so scared of that day.  I'm so worried it's drawing ever nearer.  I'm not good at making tough decisions, so I pray that she will let me know when it is time, and there are no alternatives -- it'll be the best thing or just her time.  She's my rock... always there, always a firm presence, and definitely capable of hurting you if you handle her wrong.  I love her so much, I just hope she's enjoying life as my grey.

Kibeth, I love you.  You've earned your leisurely retirement, and you will continue to be spoiled with love, pets, the best food, and your favorite treats (bread crusts ftw!).  You've been with me 2x as long as you were at the track now.  I hope those evil days in a crate so small your butt went bald and your tail got a calous are long forgotten.  We've been on quite an adventure together, and I look forward to our new lifestyle together.

This is actually from a while ago.
This almost never happens. <3

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dolce Video Spam :)

This is a candid video my fiancé grabbed of a recall Dolce did at the doggie park.

This is another candid video my fiancé got of Dolce alongside him on a bike ride.  He was going too slowly for Dolce. Gotta get that man in shape! =P

Friday, June 10, 2011

Writing A Book

I've finally decided to write a book and stumbled upon a subject.  I'm going to write about my childhood as an only child, and add in one of the fantasies I used to play out to keep myself entertained:  I'm lonely, I have no brothers or sisters, no friends, and I discover my dog can talk.  She becomes my best friend, and we do all sorts of things together.  You get the idea.

My question at this stage is:  which dog do I use?  Sami, who I grew up with?  Kibeth, who is my first greyhound and dog whom I am solely responsible for?  JoJo, my heartdog?  Or Dolce, the dog with the most stories between them all, the youngest, and I've only had him for 3 months?  Or should I use a dog I've never met, one from my imagination?


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Can't Decide

They hounds and I are enjoying their seemingly mutually decided retirement.  What they know, they know, and they enjoy practicing it.  They don't feel a particular need to learn new things; and now with Dolce, I don't feel a need to push it on them.  This summer, I would like for them to get their CGC.  After that, I'm content.

Dolce, on the other hand, is my little genius.  However, like most smart kids with attitude problems, he gets into trouble.  A lot.  We're dealing with herding instincts at dog parks, dog reactivity on-leash, housebreaking, polite people greeting (not growling with uncertainty or jumping for joy), and structured play can still be fun like doing whatever the heck you want at the time.

I'm tempted to create a separate blog for him.  I haven't written as much as I'd like just because I don't know how to structure it, haha.

I think he's younger than the shelter thought.  His smooth (read as short), black border collie fur is really coming in, and his fluffy little fawn undercoat is diminishing rapidly.  He's going through a serious teething/chewing phase.  I'd guess he was only just barely a year when I got him 3 months ago, not 16 months.

We're using BAT, Patricia McConnell's Feisty Fido ideas, and Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed principles to rid him of his on-leash dog reactivity issues.  A couple trips to the best doggie daycare in town cured Dolce of his issues at the dog park, for which I am very grateful.  However, he still tries to herd the other dogs there occasionally by nipping them on the butt, or grabbing their tails.  His fast little whippet legs make it very fun to catch the other dogs in a game of chase.  However, one day, he's going to get yelled at by a dog who is not understanding, nor appreciative.  Sure, a few dogs and turned around after a while and yelled at him and he stops... for a while.  I've yelled at him and stopped him, too.  Still he continues.  Oye.

I have so many aspirations for him.  He's a very talented pup.  I want him to do obedience, rally obedience, flyball, agility, disc dog, freestyle, and service dog work.  We took an obedience class, and had a blast.  He passed with flying colors, though leave it was tricky.  I can't wait to start the 2nd class.  He loves training.  He'd train all day if I could.  He also REALLY loves to bike with me.  When he starts to get antsy, we just go for a bike ride and let it all out.  I attach the leash to the seat bar, and he runs alongside beautifully.  If we encounter another dog and he pulls, he's light enough that his episode is cut short by our speed.  He usually tries to run full tilt after an outburst, as though he's trying to escape his own anger.  The outbursts are becoming less and less intense, and are actually decreasing in number altogether.  Dogs can be closer and he won't react than before.  I'm very encouraged that he will one day be the socialite that JoJo is with dogs, and that Kibeth is with people.

Getting to know him, I have decided border collies are definitely the breed for me.  Whether I could handle a purebred is up for grabs, but I am in love with the lifestyle having Dolce forces me to live.  I can't wait to get passed our issues, so we can get to the real fun and train and compete in all these doggie sports. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dunch at People Park

So on Sunday, my fiancé and I went with his Mom to the local park.  We had brats, burgers, chips, and a great time grilling dunch out there!  We brought the dogs along:

JoJo was the least content about being tied up to a picnic table while we ate.
She would talk and talk and talk until she finally gave up and basked in the sun. 
 Dolce would keep an eye out for intruders with his 'border collie stare.'
Rick & I with the pack, exploring. 

 Here's some pretty leaf shots from the trees above us.

 couple pic :)
Me waiting for food with the pac at my feet = happy girl. :) 
It was really fun.  I felt like I belonged to the Salsido family. 
 I decided to feel like a magician and make billowing smoke appear...
from pouring water on the grill thingy.
That's where we were.  Pretty, right?!

Friday, April 8, 2011

And We're Back...

Without much time, I've decided not to use this account for my wedding blog and my other account for the Granted Wishes Greyhounds.  It's just too much of a hassle.  So we'll be posting here again soon!

BTW, meet Dolce.
I rescued him from a local shelter a month ago.
We figure he's a whippet x border collie.
Honestly, he's like a border collie with an off-switch.
This is us right after I signed the adoption papers.
There were 3 other people waiting to see him later that day.
I beat them all. Bwahaha.
I <3 him.  He's our Little Man.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Obedience Lesson

So Jen of Never Say Never Greyhounds came to my neck of the woods, here in California, and we met today.  I had my first ever lesson, and am happy to report we're not completely screwed up!

We met at a local park, and my hounds usually don't work outside.  I was apprehensive about their attention span, but determined.

When we met, it was immediately to business.  We started with heeling, and the girls quickly lost interest (if not immediately) in the treats we usually use at home.  We decided to take a trip to the local Albertson's grocer, and up the ante.  We got pre-grilled chicken, peanut butter packets, and tuna cans.

I had never gotten other treats like this because they worked so well for the other cheaper stuff.  However, they wouldn't work outside, ever.  Nothing would get their attention.  That was not the case today!

So we went back to work at a less distracting park (there are so many to choose from) and started with the heeling exercise again.  Success!  My dogs work for chicken!  Yay!  I got to see how to manipulate them to realign their bodies (something I just was not getting whatsoever on my own) to a proper heel position.  It was so good to see Kibeth, who is uncertain about working with strangers and accepting foreign food, perfectly happy to offer all the behaviors she knew for Jen.  Very proud Mama moment.  Also, she was extremely sensitive about her collar being touched when she first came off the track, and Jen was able to do so with no fuss whatsoever.  Awesome.

Next we started working "touch the cup" with the box of peanut butter containers.  I had never had ANY success getting them started on that exercise, but I saw immediately the benefits of doing it once I had an example with my dogs in front of me.  Kibeth already knows quite solidly what happens when she hears that click from the clicker.  Toy!  Treat!  Fun!  Praise!  All of the above!  JoJo, on the other hand, hasn't caught on just yet, despite my frequent attempts.  Today, though, she started to get it, and really enjoyed working.  JoJo has a very short attention span (until real grilled chicken got involved, that is!) so for her to keep working, offer behaviors, and stay enthusiastic was a joy to see.

Finally we addressed stay and come.  I have never had a recall I could rely on with any dog, and I've never been able to successfully train one.  I've seen the YouTube videos, I've read up... Nothing has quite clicked.  Now with our homework and having Rick to work with in tandem, I think I know how!  I was pretty proud of their stays with distractions, but any amount of anything on the leash would cause them to immediately break a stay.

I asked if Kibeth's down, which involves a sit then a down, was acceptable.  Jen didn't think there was anything really wrong with it, but I could retrain it if I wanted to.  She showed me how, by getting Kibeth to bow under her knee.  I had seen that method used before, but had never been able to replicate it with Kibeth (she would sit, down, and then crawl forward) and Jen got it instantly!  Oye.  I know, "higher value treat = CHICKEN, MOM!" - my hounds

Kibeth has a very pretty sit.  I think is Kibeth is very talented, but she's afraid of car rides.  I think we might have even made Jen a wee bit jealous of her sit!  JoJo, on the other hand, has a terrible sit.  It is SO uncomfortable for her, but she has made great strides to improve it.  Jen said that there's not much I can do to fix it, she'll figure out what's the most comfortable for her, and that's what I'll have to live with.

In short, I had a great time.  Jen was very professional, friendly, and a joy to work with.  I completely respected her before I get to see her in action, but now I just love her. <3

Sadly, no pictures from the day, but there's going to be a followup video soon after we practice our homework. ;-)

Definitely my kind of hobby.  THANK YOU, JEN!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Celebrity is Coming to Town...

I got an email from Jennifer with Never Say Never Greyhounds this morning...

She will be in my area soon, and would I like a lesson?

OMG YES! = a much calmer response than the one I gave.  She's in town for work, and then visiting a friend.  While she's here, we will hopefully be able to schedule a lesson for me, Kibeth, and JoJo.

I've been stalking her youtube, blog, and website for years.  She's like my hero.  I love everything she does with her hounds, and can't wait to do it myself.  However, with limited funds and no sense of direction, this is just the push I need to get started.

I am so thankful. You have no idea.

Corneal Ulcer Saga...

Kibeth's eye is not all better (I didn't think it would be, given how she's been looking and acting).  It is improved over 2 weeks ago, noticeably smaller and even more superficial.  I got some more drops (I can tell I'm running low) and we're going to try a less aggressive medical treatment.  $75 today.

The drops/ointment only exist to prevent infection.  The minimum number of times required to do that is 1 drop 2x a day.  That's what we're going to do.  Every time I treat her eye, she holds it shut, telling me that it bothers her.  I can't imagine having drops and ointment, in some combination, put into my eye for nearly 3 months.  Hopefully, less frequent daily treatments and 1 drop not 2 will be more comfortable for her.  I originally thought she held it shut to block out the light, which causes pain in corneal ulcer patients.  However, if treatment stops (like it did this morning so her eye would be open for the vet) she keeps her eye much more open.  It's not the light.  It's the treatment.

There is healing going on.  There's still blood vessels and inflammation.  It should just be DONE already.  We could meet with an ophthalmologist to ascertain there's not something more going on, but Dr. Driscoll really didn't think that was absolutely necessary.  With the budget very tight from the move, and her eye on the mend, albeit slowly, we have decided to stay the course.  With that decision, I cannot in good conscience allow her to be this mopey from the discomfort, so I got some non-steroidal pain pills in a very low dose for her to take the edge off in the meantime.

Please, God, allow the healing to continue and complete in a more timely fashion.

P.S.  While I was there, I had him feel the lumps on JoJo's leg (it's her right front).  He said they're likely something similar to warts, and totally harmless.  To be thorough, we could examine them and have them removed; but as they're not bothering her and likely nothing to worry about, I saw no value in that.  They're not even all that visible to the eye, you can just feel them if you pet her.  YAY no cancer.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dog Walking

I can now proudly say that my hounds are the best at walking with whom I have ever had the pleasure to do so.

I have found my 2nd calling.  Granted Wishes Pets is underway -- I LOVE being a dog walker.  I have two clients, Rosco and Sugar.  Both boxers, owned by completely separate people.  Rosco is a total gentleman, when he doesn't meet his arch nemesis dog(s).  Sugar is a lovebug, who also doesn't really approve of other dogs.  I see Roscoe for 30 minutes Mondays-Fridays; and Sugar for an hour Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It's getting me fit, and I completely love living in California and being able to enjoy the outdoors in February when everyone back home is complaining of imminent snow storms.

I am trying, and failing, to energize my hounds.  Energize them for training, for activity... I think I may have waited too long in their lifespan to hope for them to be anything like Never Say Never Greyhounds Riley, Seven, or Reagan.  However, I love them dearly, and they are excellent emotional assistance dogs.  JoJo and Kibeth are also learning to tag team to help me with my anxiety.  Yesterday was the first day that they snuggled in my bed without a fireside to entice them.

Kibeth's vet checkup is tomorrow for her corneal ulcer.  Once again, I do not believe her eye to be healed, and it should be.  It's still red, enflamed, and teary.  However, those are all signs that healing is going on, so here's hoping it's just taking its sweet time.  She is ever the terrific patient, but fading fast.  I can see her quality of life diminishing.

I have cancer on my mind, for some reason.  I am paranoid JoJo has it.  She has small, hard lumps in her skin (not attached to anything internally, but under her fur) about the size of a pea.  There are two of them, in one of her front legs.  I'll be taking her to the vet tomorrow with Kibeth, to have him just take a look and see if they're anything worth investigating.  Likely not, as they're not attached to the leg, they're just in the skin.  However, they're nothing like the fatty tumors I've encountered with my other dogs (Kibeth included).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Healing continues! Training delayed...

Well, Kibeth's corneal ulcer is on the mend!  No surgery required, thank goodness.  However, our training has been delayed due to personal drama and my Mom coming to visit (completely unrelated, btw).

In other news, I have (possibly) 2 new dog-walking clients!  We also met Lisa and her 2 bull terrier pups, Brandy and Brody tonight for a play-date.  Kibeth was having nothing of the obnoxious puppy behaviors, but JoJo was tolerant and perfect.  I really want her to raise my next dog.  Her social skills are 2nd to none.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Corneal Ulcer Remains

Kibeth's checkup at the vet revealed swelling, blood vessels, but little progress in actual healing.  That she has these symptoms is encouraging, it means her body is fighting the ulcer now (it wasn't before), but the vet said it should be GONE by today; if not, significantly smaller.

Another debridement and $63 later, Kibeth's ulcer lost a few more flakes, and is hopefully on its way out.  We can continue this treatment and hope this takes care of it eventually, but if not, surgery will be required.

I think I heard the vet say that they would sew her eyelid to her eye to force it to heal.

She's 8 years old, that's $1,000 surgery.  I don't think she needs an experience like that at her age.  Without treatment, she may go blind in that eye.  Please, please heal!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

CGC Certification

Well, here's my plan...

I can't afford formal training classes right now.  At least not until summer.  I've got to just suck it up, and do this myself.  Rick will be my assistant/co-trainer.  I'm going to be the "wonder trainer" who uses the knowledge she's acquired from her various books, articles, online readings, and generous outside personal expertise to compete her greyhounds in obedience and (hopefully) agility.

Step 1.  Become CGC certified for both hounds.

I will be pursuing the training required to pass the CGC test for the immediate future.  Stay tuned for daily reports on our training!  My goal is to take the test at the end of February.  That's about 7 weeks.  We've got most of the basic training and manners, just not reliable with distractions of any kind.

Tools:  clicker, squeaky/squawky stuffies, treats, squawker, praise.  I'll try to have a video up every Sunday (not tomorrow -- too soon) and feel free to offer suggestions!

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dog Beach Pic Spam ;-)

So, I crossed something off my bucket list yesterday.  Rick, Kibeth, JoJo and I went to the Huntington Beach Dog Beach and had a blast.

 Here we are, walking by the water!  Kibeth is a water dog.
 I think it's super cute how they're in step almost.
 You can see our footprints.
 Haha:  JoJo was afraid of those evil white waves!

 Greyhound footprints!
 Beautiful day.
 Happy pupz. 
 You cannot get that girl out of the water.
 This beach stretches on for miles in either direction.  It's wonderful.
 A good run!  We did go off-leash eventually, briefly.
Kibeth is flying!  JoJo is being a goof again. ;-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grid Keratotomy

Kibeth is scheduled for the procedure this afternoon at 2:00.  It should take about 30 minutes, not require any sort of tranquilizer or anesthesia, and eliminate her ulcer within a week.

If not, it's surgery... Please wish her a speedy, full recovery!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Grey Save Homecoming

I just have to vent:  JoJo has sleep startle.  She was doing remarkably well with it lately, and I got complacent.  She attacked my ear upon waking unpleasantly and I caked my hair with blood.  All 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 5:15 a.m.

So this morning, I attended a Homecoming event in Chino Hills, CA for my local greyhound rescue, GreySave.  My, what a day.

First, I arrive early to help prepare for the greyhounds coming from Mexico.  The event is taking place at Bonnie's (one of the leaders of the group) house.  Her house is huge, nestled between mountainous hills and real mountains with snow caps.  The kennel is set up on her deck, and her house is all-greyhound.  All of the volunteers were very friendly, and my boss, Suki, President of the Orange County Hiking Club actually came as well.  More on that later.

When the dogs finally arrived, they were unloaded from the truck, and each volunteer assigned as a handler got to pick their hound as they came off the van.  I ended up with Swat, short for Swat Team; a medium-sized, relatively healthy greyhound, who later became Tina.

Tina was a rock.  I am so proud of her.  She was super food motivated, although she's not underweight at all at a rock solid 64.8 pounds.  She's 3 years old, and acted like she'd already lived in a house.  Nothing phased her, she instantly knew how to manage stairs, and she only cried to get to go somewhere, for attention, or to go to the bathroom.  She was a gem of a patient for her shots and exam, although she tried to escape her bath, which did not go well at all.  We started off with a bath, moved on to drying, getting her nails clipped (the girl who did it ROCKED at it), getting a winter coat (it's cold, even in California!) with snood made by one of the fabulous volunteers, new collar/leash (all blue for Tina, the fashionista), photo shoot for the website profile, and finally a meal.

Unfortunately, I had to leave for a wedding gig before I could go with her to test her for small dog and cat reactivity.  I bet she's safe with both, but I'm dying to know!  I was a bit worried that she wasn't very attached to me at all, and I wasn't doing a very good job.  However, her reaction to my return after a brief 15 minute lunch quelled that concern.  She wagged her tail, hopped up and down, and was very glad I came back to keep her company.

Wow.  What a tremendously satisfying day.  I couldn't be happier.