Monday, March 26, 2012


I love taking photos of my beautiful pooches.  I'm using the entry level DSLR Nikon D3100 camera I got my fiancĂ© for our first Christmas together.  I'm having  a blast, and he hardly ever touches it.  Works out great!

The Angelic Queen Kibeth

What we lovingly refer to as, "Kibby Cuteface!"
This photo can be seen on the Facebook page for
a New Zealand greyhound advocacy group!

Kibby and Dolce cuteface. :)

Clearly, princess JoJo detests having her picture taken.
This is the best family photo I managed to get.

I'll give you one cute picture, Mom...

... And then I'm through with this photo shoot.

Monday, March 5, 2012

IDOGS Case - Lacie

Profile:  Lacie is a Maltese female, spayed, bought from breeder a couple years ago; mostly deaf and visually impaired; reactive to other dogs and people; owner hired a "traditional" style trainer who hasn't been able to even get Lacie comfortable enough with her presence to get out of her crate, because Lacie barks and bites and makes a big, threatening fuss.  All due to alpha-domination, of course.  (Can you sense my sarcasm and disgust?)  Lacie's owner, let's call her D, would like Lacie to be comfortable around strangers of all sorts; however, things have gotten so bad and discouraging, D is to the heartbreaking point of seriously considering surrendering and/or rehoming Lacie.  Lacie isn't even 100% friendly with D's husband or their other dog, Pepper, a Maltese-poodle mix.

At IDOGS yesterday, I finally got to interact with Lacie for the first time.  Before, I was mostly working with Pepper, because Lacie was "so bad" we gave her lots of space to just observe the first few sessions.  Lacie barked at me, lunged toward me, and clearly said, "Stay away from me!" with all 3-ish pounds of body weight she's got.  I just kept my distance, and tossed treats her way.  It was hard for her to find them, but she has an exceptional sense of smell to make up for her bad eyesight and hearing and she found them eventually.  Within a few minutes of this, she ate out of my hand of her own choosing.  With a few repetitions of that, she asked me to pet her by rubbing against my arm/leg (I was kneeling on the sidewalk).  And then I was receiving a very enthusiastic, affectionate greeting, kisses and all.  I was elated, touched, proud, and overcome with happiness.

D kept saying, throughout the whole process, "Wow, she's never done that before... OMG, she's definitely NEVER done that before with a stranger... WOW, Lacie, what a good girl!"  We talked a bit, I confessed my opinion that the other trainer might not be the best match for Lacie (I really hope I said that as diplomatically as possible) and to try my trainer, Sue Myles.  I told her I could pass along her contact information, and although she's pricey, she's worth every penny and Lacie could be happy and not need a new home.  D saw a light at the end of the tunnel for the FIRST TIME, and promised not to get rid of Lacie now.

So I told Sue what happened, and that I was referring D and Lacie to her.  Hopefully, D will take Lacie to Sue and all will be well, but my part in this story just makes my week. :) I have saved a dog from possible euthanasia; her disabilities, reactivity, and bite history would be a really hard sell.  I'm convinced I want to be a dog trainer.

Here's our correspondence, in case you want to see:

Hi, Sue. I just have to tell you this story from our doggie socialization group this afternoon. I'm referring this woman and her maltese to you.

Lacie barks and lunges at strange dogs and people, but also even her owner, D husband and other dog.  D bought her from a "breeder." However, Lacie is almost deaf (which D told me) and visually impaired, as I discovered today. It seems Lacie can hear higher, loud sounds; she sees shadows, movement, and darker objects so long as it's straight in front of her. D has a "trainer" who has given her the "alpha" speech and has forbidden Lacie's snuggling above D lap in its name.  That's just one example...

Meeting Lacie today made my week. After respecting her space, throwing her some treats, and being patient, she totally came out of her shell and fell in love with me. She took food out of my hand, stopped barking at me, and even asked me to pet her, which she accepted eagerly!  I am the first stranger she hasn't bitten, and I believe the first to rub her all over and get kisses. D was to the point of seriously considering surrendering or rehoming Lacie. Lacie hates the trainer and the trainer hasn't even been able to get her out of her crate from the barking and biting. After today, D sees a light at the end of the tunnel and promised me she won't get rid of Lacie now. I told her you would have the experience Lacie needs, so I'm giving her your contact info. I told her about our remarkable progress with you, and I think she believed me when I confessed this other trainer may not be as good a match for Lacie as you would be. God, I hope I pulled that off diplomatically.

I don't know if you allow visually impaired and nearly deaf dogs in your Rescue Rehab class. I'm sure Lacie will LOVE you as much as we do, so I really hope she'll get to work with you.

Best wishes,

And I received a most encouraging reply this morning from Sue:

Oh this poor little thing!

Well, an A plus for you, ,too. Wonderful job. I think you may have turned Lacie's owner around in seeing that there IS hope and there ARE techniques that the dog will change from.

and where would she take the dog? Other than euthanizing her I think the options are pretty small of getting her a home.

So here is a TINY dog who does not see well and cannot hear and winds up with a 'you have to be the alpha" trainer. This is one of the many reasons that I just dont go out into the world to dog events, fun classes and activities with dogs and stay to myself. It just upsets me at such a deep level when dogs are forced and trained to be scared all the time.

Owners dont know any better and I dont expect them to. They are who they are and get information where they can and are not able to discern the good info from the bad...or the illegal sociopath with the 300 dollar haircut from a smart, kind person with good techniques. Another reason why I never Tell people what I do for a living....they think I am like the\at sociopath and then they start to blabber about an episode they saw, how effective he is with dogs.... it does not good to try and point anything out to them so I just shut up and stay with my little world.

One client, who had gone through the r/rehab class and not only did her dog improve I worked like a Roman slave for her to understand and get it right, came up to me one Sunday She had gone to one of Erin's agility play days. She was giggling and proudly telling me that her dog had been 'trained by Caesar" and told when the show would air.

I am proud to tell you all I did was turn and walk away. Poor dog. A terrified Belgian T. who had never left the breeders' home until the age of four. Would not get out of the car the first two sessions of class.  had her approaching people by the end of class. Then she goes and get America's pet illegal to terrify it more.

One of the reasons I have never taught agility, other than setting up a course which is way beyond me, is it has never interested me. While I think it is a fine activity and encourage people to do it it just never grabbed me. The problem solving and instant creativity of a class appeals to me more. I never referred any trainer until Erin started as she has the safety of the dogs in mind, first.

I saw a Newfie yesterday on a house call. Dog is terribly noise phobic and terrified of crates. The last idiot trainer stuffed the dog in a thundershirt (which is ripped off with velcro) and wrangled it into a crate. Dog went nuts and owner wanted to take the dog out. Oh no says the bully have to be ALPHA. Dog wound up breaking a tooth on the wire of the crate and flooding the room with diarrhea. And of course, with a Newf the dog' rear end was an unholy mess.

That is why I just avoid the world of dogs. It make me too crazy for my own good. But, I did get the dog fixed and now the owner can leave it alone and there is no crate in sight.

so, I sure hope to hear from poor Lacie and you bet, the rescue class is for the blind, the halt and the lame. Anyone who does not fit into 'regular kids school' goes there and once the owner understand more about this little dog I am sure they can live happily ever after.

Well good on you. First time the owner saw that smarts out train muscle any day

Friday, March 2, 2012

Puppy: Breeder vs. Rescue

Kibeth is scaring me.  She's more playful again with the Previcox, her helicopter tail is back in action; but honestly, she's just slowing down more and more on our walks.  The bloodwork to ensure she's tolerating the Previcox OK came back just fine, so that's a relief.  JoJo also can't seem to keep weight on -- I'm worried it's her kidneys.  Time to think about something happy...

All 3 of my dogs are rescues.  The only animal in my whole life that hasn't been a rescue is our first dog my parents got me when I was 4-years-old.  Sami was a wire-haired fox terrier who was a puppy at a pet store.  I believe very firmly in rescuing, and adamantly oppose backyard breeders, puppy mills, and mass-production of puppies in general.

However, there are tasks for which the risks of using a rescue puppy are a serious consideration.  You don't know what the puppy's first weeks have been like, and they're so impressionable it makes a big difference.  Knowing the puppy has grown up in a wonderful environment its first 8-10 weeks makes for a much more likely candidate for a super performance and/or service dog.  This is what I need my next dog to be.

Dolce could be GREAT.  If he didn't have reactivity and could be confident in new situations, I absolutely believe that with an experienced handler, he could go REALLY far very quickly in any dog sport.  Except maybe frisbee... he has absolutely no desire to even learn to like them.  Completely pointless.  Anyway, since he had a rotten upbringing, we're being held back by his behavioral challenges.  I don't want to go through this again with my next dog, and I desperately want the experience of raising a well-adjusted puppy.  I have many thoughts/theories/ideas how to do it, and I can't wait to try them out.  Not to mention, who doesn't love puppies?

Enter Contact Point Border Collies, a southern California border collie breeder extraordinaire.  I've decided to get my next dog from one of their litters.  Hopefully, out of Bluff or one of her descendants -- I have my heart set on a blue or tri-colored merle.  I'm willing to wait for that special puppy.  If I'm really capable of that, I don't know, I may just be overcome with puppy cuteness when the time is right whether there's a merle or not.

I can't have more than 3 dogs, so it'll be a while, but I like to cope with something scary (Kibeth and JoJo in their senior years) by thinking about the future (border collie puppy -- who doesn't like to think/plan for a puppy!?).  Their pups are about $1,500 and I've already worked out it'll cost about $2,000 to go through all the basic classes.  Twice with the puppy while it's growing up (that way, the timing should be perfect as it grows to progress to the next class).  That means I need to have about $5,000 saved for this puppy (adoption fee, veterinary needs, training) before I get it.  I'm already starting a little stash. :P

What prompted the switch from greyhounds to border collies?  Answer:  Dolce.  He's so much more "me" than the greyhounds.  Don't get me wrong, my girls are PERFECT dogs.  Everyone compliments me all the time, and I love them for so many reasons I can't possibly list them all, nor does English have a suitable vocabulary for such things.  However, I love his zest to train, interact, snuggle, and just "do."  He's so much more oriented toward me, and his unfailing energy is so much fun!  Of course, in typical me fashion, I've been reading like crazy.  I enjoy this dog stuff so much!  It's like I'm a little kid again, except instead of memorizing every book about horses, I'm learning dogs. :)

Meet Bluff, exactly what I want
my border collie to look like...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dolce Tricks - Part 2

Well, the video didn't come out nearly as well as I would have hoped.  I am totally open to suggestions as to how to accomplish this without a camera man.

This video is a compilation of Dolce's old and new commands/tricks.  I hope you enjoy, and please pardon the terrible positioning on occasion... I will definitely be redoing it when the lighting is right and I have time.

Dolce Tricks - Part 2

ETA:  Dolce had an intro to Treibball session tonight.  He was to push his red rubber ball with his nose ONLY and hard enough to really count as forceful.  How long did it take for him to work it out?  Keep in mind, he's very proficient at playing soccer with his feet... Yeah, only 5 minutes.  That's my little man!