Friday, May 27, 2011

Raw Food Diet

A few people I know are feeding their dogs nothing but raw food -- frozen chicken and turkey necks, kidney, heart, gizzard, tripe, beef bones, pigs feet, etc., supplemented with raw fruit and vegetables, and fish oil.  This requires a freezer, which I have.  I read up on the BARF diet and decided against it.  Way too expensive!  So today I made my first serious trek into a raw food world of my own making.

I visited Scallan's Choice Meats on Airline highway, which sells wholesale and in bulk, including beef bones you can't buy in the supermarket any more.  It was an interesting place. They bring you out a huge bone, saw it into pieces of any size you choose, and sell it for very .49 cents/lb.

For $14.98, I got a 10# bag of huge fresh turkey necks @ .89 cents/lb, cut into about 4" long pieces, 4 pigs feet cut in half lenthwise (just to try out), and 5# of beef bones (8 chunks in assorted sizes).  I brought them home, laid them out on a cookie sheets to freeze, and tomorrow I'll bag them up and start passing them out for supper a few times a week.  I fear my dogs will have to eat in separate rooms not to fight over the bones. They get served frozen to slow down the dog from gobbling the meat, and they all chew at different rates.  They have to chew and chew and chew, and they don't seem to mind the cold.

I'll still feed the kibble, table scraps, pan drippings, leftover salad, potato skins, rice, grits, apple cores, cabbage stems and other things my dogs love.  And I'll watch their weight, as usual.  I'm told at first they might get diarrhea if too much raw meat is introduced too quickly, so I'm easing into it.  Eventually, the formula is 2-3% of their body weight per day in raw meat.

     Lucky @ 48# = 1.5 lbs
     FoohFooh @ 40# = 1.2 lbs
     Willow @ 8# = .25 lbs
     Maxie @ 7# = .21 lbs

I'll probably round that out to 1.5 lbs, 1 lb., and .25 lbs.

The raw diet is supposed to make their coats shiny and beautiful, keep their teeth clean and white, their joints in peak condition, and muscles solid and supple.  We'll see how it goes.

Upwards and onward!

Trial Genie (continued)

The last few days I've had time to poke around the Trial Genie program some more, enter data on a few people from our club's records of our trial's entries last April, and see how the program generates the Gate Sheets, Scribe Sheets, reports, catalogs, unofficial results pages, etc.  It's neat, but all hinges on entering the correct data.  This requires a meticulous person willing to check, double check, and tripple check each entry.

The good thing is, once a dog is entered into the Trial Secretary's system, the next year the data doesn't have to be re-entered unless there is a change of address, phone number, etc.

Bad things include:
  • some entrants have illegible handwriting.  Their 3's look like 8's, 4's look like 9's, and email addresses can be hard to read. 
  • Some entry forms don't have a SEX box. 
  • Some folks include their dog's titles from other venues, so you have to sort thru to find only the AKC titles.
  • Online entries from the AKC website deliver the information in different order from the printed forms, so your eyeballs have to skip around looking for the data, and the print delivers so small in some boxes, you need a magnifying glass to read it.
  • Some people forget to add their dog's birthdate, height, height card info, etc.
  • Some people put their dog's AKC number, but forget to check the PAL or ILP box if it's an All American Dog.
  • Some people pay the wrong amount.
So-o-o-o-o, you end up having to call or email the entrant to clarify these details, collect more money, issue refunds, etc.

Furthermore, the Trial Secretary can always make a mistake entering the data, so it is VERY IMPORTANT for entrants to always check their confirmation letter details, not skim over any piece of data, especially the AKC number.  You want to be sure your dog gets credited for every Qualifying Score.

Then there are the Move-Ups that can occur between the time the entry form was submitted and the date of your trial, even at the trial.  It's a dynamic process.  The trial secretary has to stay on top of this all along the way up to the trial date, then all through the trial.  That's why you always see the Trial Secretary sitting at their computer, all day, every day.

As the scribe sheets are turned in, about 3 at a time, the TS enters the scores and when that jump height is complete, print out the results.  This is what makes it possible to read your Unofficial Resuts within minutes after your jump height has run.  Pretty neat.

After the trial there is still a lot to do, including generating the Catalogs (one for each day, because each day is considered a separate trial by AKC) and sending all those records into AKC, along with their fees; sending out Score Results to every entrant, printing financial reports, etc.

I still have some questions, of course, and some things can't be learned ahead of time.  I look forward to our next trial where I hope to assist Nedra in real time.  This is definitely "The Road Less Travelled", trodden by very few compared to the number of competitors, still, it is trodden by a few and I feel really good being one of them.  I enjoy knowing how things work, what's going on behind the scenes, all the efforts at organization that have been put into developing this system so we can go out and play with our dogs.  It's amazing, really, the people who have put so much thought and effort into organizing this sport for us.

From reading the Trial Secretary's manual, I learned you can scribe up to 8 trials a year without an AKC license.  But if you do 9 or more a year, you have to pay a license fee, take a course, and get certified.  Then you get listed in AKC's Licensed TS List where clubs needing Trial Secretaries can find and hire you.  I have no idea what TS's make, but it is a considerable amount of work and a big responsibility and they have to travel far distances, so it should pay nicely.  Some trial secretaries even provide their own equipment and ring crew!  Our club is very fortunate to have our own equipment, and a local club member that does our TS job for free and in a professional manner.

Upwards and onward!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Linda and Ben

Yesterday, Linda G. and Ben came over for lunch.  Linda is a club-mate who does our newsletter, and Ben is her 3 year old rescue Golden, a 90 pounder she found abandoned in the woods at about 4 weeks of age.  A huge dog with gobbs of energy and apparently some phobias and socialization issues.  Beautiful coat except he chews his feet so they are matted up.  Linda is working hard trying to fix these issues.

I kept my dogs away while we visited on the front porch then crated Ben out there while we went to the Mexican grocery store/restaurant down the road. I gave him a huge frozen turkey neck to keep him occupied, and when we got back he hadn't touched it.  When we opened the crate, though, he grabbed his bone, ran out in the yard and guarding it ferociously, gobbled it down.  We couldn't figure why he didn't eat it in the crate.  Then we went for a long walk in the neighborhood.  Within a few minutes Lucky and Ben were calmly walking shoulder to shoulder.  Ben heels a lot better than Lucky, who still pulls on the leash.  Bad mommy!  I haven't done enough leash training. 

I need to walk my dogs more anyway, because within 10 minutes my hips were burning!  If I hop up at 6:30 this summer while it's still cool out, get dressed, and don't turn on my computer until I get back from walking, I can do it.  Alas, that was my intention this morning but the coffee pot was calling, and I usually sip my first cup while reviewing my emails.  Without even thinking, I sat at my computer, and here I still am.  Shit!  Another bad habit to wrestle down.

As to turkey necks, I tried to buy more at Winn Dixie the other day and was shocked they've gone up to $2.19/lb.  They used to be $.99 or $1.29.  Guess the butchers have caught on that they make great dog treats.  So now I'm on the lookout for cheap turkey necks for my freezer.  One raw frozen turkey neck a week (chicken necks for little dogs) is supposed to clean their teeth, provide collagen for joint health, and safely satisfy the urge to chew (vertebra bones don't splinter).  Not to mention, it's a meal.

I've added Chicken and Turkey Necks to my Dog Treats and Recipes page, which keeps on growing.

Now, back from walking Max and Willow, visiting a neighbor along the way and running some errands, I'm now authorizing myself to play with Trial Genie some more.

Upwards and onward!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wedding Anniversary (continued)

Willow and Maxie adorn our bouquet!
Only picture I have of our 9th is the beautiful roses John brought me Wednesday night, and the numerous gushy cards we exchanged throughout the weekend!

Thursday, May 19:  Leaving 4 dogs home, we headed out for Berryland Camper World and Dixie RV at about 10:30.  The short short story is, we got back home around 5:30, glad to see our babies, savings intact, without an RV, and without inspiration.  We can't possibly justify $80-90,000 for a new motor home!  Who the hell buys these things?  I sold a 3 bedroom house 5 years ago for just a wee bit more than that!

The longer story is, we had a grand old time climbing in and out of new and used models, dreaming of retirement, until we were both tired and sweating like pigs in those closed up units (hot weather is not a good time to shop RV lots).  We learned the difference between a Class A, B, and C, discovered we both like the same floor plans and color schemes, both like slide outs, end tables in the bedroom, elbow room in the halls and bathroom, would rather have an overhead bunk and side cabinet TV than an HD Surround Sound entertainment center up front, and we want nothing shorter than 27' nor longer than 31'. I believe I have gotten over my all-consuming passion to own a Coachman Concord!  I really like the Tioga, for one.  No matter though, unless we can get into something used we really like and that runs good for under $20,000, we won't be getting a motor home.

My fortune this morning said to "Expect A Miracle", and I was hoping it would be a motor home. . . . . . . . Instead, what I think I got was "freedom from wanting one".  We discussed how it would take going to 20 trials a year, for 20 years, to make it come out financially equal to staying in hotels.  Then again, John pointed out that it isn't about saving money, but about convenience -- having your home right with you, being able to eat in, escape the noisy trial environment between runs, take naps during the day, etc.  Less wear and tear on me with planning, packing and unpacking.  Not to mention, being able to travel without advance reservations, no hotel hopping, lugging bags in and out, checking out by a certain time, etc.  It's a luxury.  It's a lifestyle I could love leaving home for.  So I'm still on the fence about an RV.

Friday, May 20:  We were supposed to head over to Miller RV again, then on the Denham Springs to search thru the antique shops for replacement Blue Willow plates.  BUT, we stayed up so late last night watching Medium on Netflix, we decided to stay home and futz around in our PJ's.  Late afternoon, John got ambitious with the leaf shreader and spent a few hours sucking up leaves from around the tree roots and porch stairs. It looks great. I worked on my Recall course, cooked a nice meal, hatched a few new ideas.

For our anniversary gift, we decided on buying a new cookware set they are selling at Winn Dixie. I bought the 1 qt. pot and tried it out, but decided to keep my 35 year old RevereWare pots with thick bottoms and black handles that don't conduct heat, even though the handles broke off years ago.    I've been looking to replace them for a long time, but so far nothing else compares.  Now I just need to find a welder who will tack my handles back on, and that will be plenty gift enough.  I love my pots!

Upwards and onward!

Trial Genie

The job of Trial Secretary is essential for managing the details of any agility trial, and the mechanics of all this fascinates me.  I am ever grateful that when I enter my dogs into a trial, I get confirmation letters, armbands are waiting for me at the trial, my scores are printed out within minutes of my run, ribbons are waiting, and final scores are sent to me within a few days after the trial, etc.  It is very well organized for so young a sport.

How does all this happen? Trial Genie, put out by Clean Run, is the premiere AKC Agility Trial Management program, and it turns out, our dog club purchased it years ago and Nedra, our trial secretary, uses it.  I asked her for a copy so I could train myself in using it, uploaded it yesterday (another gift from the U), printed out the Read Me files, and read them all last night.  Trial Genie authorizes that it be stored on multiple computers within the club in case multiple rings are running at the same time, or if the trial secretary has an emergency someone else can step in, so we're not infringing on any copyrights.

RANT:  So there, I'm not crazy!  I've been screaming "redundancy" from the hilltops for years in all the clubs I belong to, urging that emergencies can be/should be planned for.   If one person falls, someone should be able to cover for them. Everyone in a key position should have an understudy, share what they know how to do. That's why folks join clubs, to learn stuff. The AKC Trial Secretary's handbook, which I'm reading today, emphasizes and encourages all of this.  What a confirmation for me that my requests have NOT been out of line, though I've been accused by one club member of "trying to take over."  Nothing could be further from the truth  . . . . . but I do want to learn as much as I can about this sport, not leave the club in a lurch if someone quits, or moves on.

And some things could be done better.

For example, in the AKC Agility Trial Manual, the Gate Steward is absolutely precluded from training volunteers in their jobs during trial runs, which is the ONLY way our volunteers get trained.  AKC recommends Gate Keeping, Timing, Scribing especially be trained in special sessions long before the trials -- exactly what I've been suggesting for the last 2 years, then accused of needing to be "babysat", told to "grow up", that everybody just "learned by doing".  I shudder to think how many volunteers we don't get because we refuse to take them aside for a few minutes and train them.  It costs little to do this, and no telling how much it costs not to.  The constant shortage of volunteers and cries for help, meanwhile refusing to methodically develop volunteer skills, continues to baffle me.

At any rate, I am going to teach myself Trial Genie.  The program is complex.  There is a lot going on.  Lots of data to manage correctly.  Between the Read Me Files, the AKC Trial Secretary Manual and the AKC Regulations, there are over 300 pages to read.  Here's a screen shot of the Main Console:

And behind each button there are several more buttons, letter and catalog generators, move ups, running orders, calculators, money tracking, etc.  Neat program.  I'm looking forward to learning it, and already I can tell that this road has been trodden by many others before me.  I am not alone, and am in very good company.

Upwards and onward!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Walk New Dogs Together (Fooh/Max Video)

Here's a precious little clip I found a few days ago, "Maxie and Fooh Fooh's First Play Session".  A little history is in order for this one.

When we brought Max home at 4.5 lbs, Fooh Fooh HATED him.  Growled.  Snapped.  Lunged. What you might expect of a 40 lb., semi-wild Dingo, used to being the only dog in our household.  We thought "OMG how will this ever work?"  We kept them in separate parts of the house, in different yards.  At night, Max slept in our bed with his leash on my wrist so he wouldn't jump off, Fooh slept in his accustomed place on the floor at the foot of the bed, now leashed to the dresser so he couldn't jump up.  Watching TV at night, Fooh was leashed to John's arm, Max to mine, or Max was in a crate with Fooh circling around, growling.  After a week of this with no improvement, we had resigned ourselves to living this way permanently. Seems ridiculous now, but there it is.

Then I got the bright idea from Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, to walk the dogs together each night.  He says they form a pack by walking together.  At first, John was up ahead with Fooh and me trailing 6' behind.  Then Max and I circled wide around and took the lead.  Gradually, on each walk, we shortened the space between them and within a few days, after 10 minutes, they could walk side by side, me with an ever watchful eye and ready to jerk Maxie out of Fooh's snapping jaw any second.

Within a week of doing these 20 minute walks through the neighborhood streets, they walked like chums from the start of the walk and I finally felt confident enough to put them loose together in the living room.  This little clip (Maxie about 7 months, 5 lbs.) captures the result:

Now, 3 years later, all my dogs roam loose together in any room I'm in, unless there is anything resembling food around.  Fooh is very jealous of food.  I still separate them when I leave the house, and of course, I still never leave Maxie or Willow outside alone, with or without the big dogs.  They look too much like prey to the hawks and owls that frequent our air space, a fox or two have been sited in the woods before, and the big dogs can play rough.

I now believe totally in walking new dogs together to get them to accept each other quickly.  When I start up a new class, first thing I do is have all teams walk with me around the perimeter of the field.  By the time we've gone around just one time, all the dogs seem to be friendly, focused and settled in, not to mention warmed up and ready to learn.

Upwards and onward!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

9th Wedding Anniversary

Today, Wednesday, is John and my 9th Wedding Anniversary.  We've actually been together 12 years. When I asked him how we should celebrate he said "I don't know, whatever you want is fine with me."  Truth is, we'd both just as soon stay home. I have Susan Garret's "5 Minute Formula To A Brilliant Recall" online course to take.  He has his Astronomical Observations online course with tons of challenging assignments. 

On the other hand, I decided we should do something special, so we are taking all day Thursday (tomorrow), John's day off, to head over to Berryland and Dixie RV, about an hour down I-12 toward Hammond, and spend the day looking at RV's.  We both dream of travelling the country when John retires, maybe taking in some agility trials further away from home, etc.  I could use an RV RIGHT NOW.  This anniversary gives us a good excuse to set aside other things and look around.  I am looking forward to a wonderful day, full of dreams and schemes and a bit of excitement.

Meanwhile, today feels like a regular day. John went off to work. I'm puttering around in my PJ's about to defrost the deepfreeze.  Need to get out and mow the agility yard, but need to wet it down first as there is so much dust.

Aw hell, it's my anniversary.  Think I'll just keep playing with my video editing program and cleaning out my computer.  Rest up for teaching 2 classes tonight and figure out what to teach a diverse bunch of students.

Upwards and onward,

Surprise Maxie Videos!

Trying to speed up my computer, I've been cleaning out old files.  Much to my surprise, I found some little videos of Max taken with an old Nikon Coolpix camera I had back in '07-'08 -- long before I got a "real" video camera.  Short snippets, I pieced them together yesterday for a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  These are the earliest moving shots I have of Max, at about 6-7 months of age.

First, our visits to Maxie's breeder, Barb Neuman in Ponchatoula, who let me play with her 15 paps and shared her knowledge with me about caring for this breed. There is a short clip of the first time I held Max, plus a later visit when I brought Max, Jonathan and Audrey to see the newborns, and a great photo of me holding Buddy, an AKC Champion and Maxie's grandpaw.

Then, Max playing with himself in a mirror at Sis's house in Houston. I found this one hilarious. Who says dogs don't see themselves in the mirror???

The annoying ticky-ticky-ticky background noise of the Coolpix reminds me why I wanted a different video camera, and of how far I've come since then.  Always good to realize the progress.  What would life be like these days without my video camera, filming our agility runs, training sessions, and the puppies?  I can't bear the thought of all those quality moments lost.

Comparing Max to Winston at this age, Max's culottes and tail are fuller and hair thicker, but his ear feathers are shorter.  Max seems stockier, maybe even fatter. His hair wasn't curly back then and I'm surprised how much longer it was on his back then than now.  When and why did Max get curly hair?

I will continue scouring the dark corners of my hard drive for more videos and share any I deem of interest.

I am grateful every moment for having the leisure time to do all of this labor intensive stuff.  It would not get done otherwise.

Upwards and onward!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Creole Coursing Club of Louisiana

A new "Creole Coursing Club of Louisiana" is starting up, with a huge practice field at the home of Deborah Bahm in Bush, LA, about 1.5 hours out of Baton Rouge, near Covington.  They are having their first AKC sanctioned CAT (Coursing Ability Test) on June 18th, and are holding several practice sessions before hand, free of charge, to prepare dogs for the test.

I've decided to involve Lucky in this activity, first to see how she courses, but mostly to give her a chance to run flat out for 600 yards or so.  I have no idea if she can do that. I agreed to join the club, as there is no fee for the first year.

Our first practice was yesterday, Sunday 5/16, from 10-1.   There were no trees in the field and the sun was hot.  I was unprepared for that, having no sun block, no canopy, no hat, no crate for Lucky.  I did have our water, treats, chairs, and an x-pen which I used to create a shaded spot for her.  There was no shade for me.  I managed to borrow some strong Sun Block for myself or I'd have burnt to a crisp.  Need to get some of that, and carry my 10' x 10' canopy with me next time.

Idea:  An umbrella attachment for my Ozark Trail chair!

Further, I had no idea what to expect.  Lucky was first carted 400 yards away from me in a golf cart, and when released was not at all interested in chasing a kitchen trash bag tied to a string.  She wasn't upset, but she made it her first priority to locate and lope right back to me.  Several dogs did this.  She didn't chase the lure, so didn't run flat out as I was hoping she would.

Realizing the bag held no value for her, I took her off to the side and put her rubber dumb bell into a Wal-Mart grocery bag and began tugging with her, then throwing the toy (wrapped in the bag).  After a few tries she got the idea of fetching her bagged toy and bringing it back to me, and the bag's crinkly sound plus it flapping around her face didn't bother her any more.  Then we tried running her again, and she chased the bag for 100 yards or so.  But she didn't run fast. 

On the curved course she showed little interest, so I tried running after the bag with her. She ran happily along beside me, but not after the bag.  By comparison, Amanda's 11 month old Whippet chased the bag at rapid speed all around the circle on her first try.  2 of 3 boxers seemed keen on chasing the bag, and ran pretty fast, as did a few others, but several other dogs besides Lucky didn't seem to catch on.  So now I'm tasked with how to build value in the bag.  Noel advised to fill a bag with chicken gizzards, throw it and let Lucky discover the prize inside.  Guess I'll try that next.

All I really want to do is condition her to run fast and build her stamina with longer runs that agility provides.  The CA title would be nice, but isn't my main interest.

Directions to the site:  Take I-12 to Covington/Mandeville exit (Hwy 190).  Go North into Covington (4.5 miles).  At the Y (near the Walgreens, just before the overpass), bear right, then slight right, then slight left onto LA 21 (Military Road).  This road is unmarked.  Go several miles to LA 1083, turn left.  Go 2.4 miles to Fauntleroy Road.  Go .3 miles, turn left onto Chat Blanc Lane .3 miles to the end, which is 23456 Chat Blanc Road.  You'll see a gate with a greyhound and a rabbit cutout on it.  Open the gate and close behind you.  Follow the driveway left to the back side of the house, turn right and park under the shade trees near the whippet runs.  There is a bathroom in the trailer behind the brown picket fence, but bring your own toilet paper.

Upwards and onward!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Puppy Recalls and Tug Training

PUPPY RECALLS:  Per the video below, it's easy to train a very young puppy to do a reliable recall.  I start with 10 Cheerios, wait until the dog is away, then call "Dogs Name, Come", while holding out the Cheerio where they can see it.  When they come to my extended hand, I give the treat.  Then, no more treats until they go away again.    At first they offer other behaviors, but quickly catch on they have to "go away" before you will call them back for a treat.

After this is working well, vary it up by extending an empty hand, eventually not even extending a hand.  Just call "Winston, come".  After they come, immediately reach for the cookie and give it.  They quickly learn to hang around for the treat without seeing a treat, or a hand.  After awhile, they learn to stay at your side while you walk over to get a treat somewhere else, like on top of the TV.

Vary the locations for this training, indoors, outdoors, from across the yard, from another room.  Eventually you just keep a pocketful of treats handy, and do a single recall, several times a day.  Maxie, my 3.5 year old Papillion, now routinely runs to the far side of our yard, sits looking at me, waiting to be called.  Sometimes I call.  Sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I treat.  Sometimes I don't.  It amazes me how much mileage I can get out of just the hope of getting a plain old Cheerio. A cheap treat, low cal, and dissolves down to nothing.

DESENSITIZING PUPPIES:  Working Recalls is a good time to also be desensitizing a puppy to being petted, fondled, squeezed, grabbed in various places, etc.  Papillons especially can become a bit skittish and snappy if not accustomed to lots of varied handling.  With proper training, they can be handed off to just about anyone, lunged at by children, poked and prodded, etc., without excessive fear.

Tugging is fun, bonding, and great conditioning exercise, especially good for developing strong neck, shoulder and back leg muscles, but it is also an important motivational tool in agility for getting the dog warmed up, revved up, focused on you, and ready to run a course with enthusiasm.  As much as possible, owners should encourage their puppies to tug. One very cheap tug toy for small dogs is a knee-high stocking.  You can buy a pack of 12 of these at Dollar General for just a few bucks, and each one lasts through several 5 minute sessions.  They tuck neatly into a pocket without any bulk, stretch far out, give good resistance, then recoil back to you when the dog lets go.  Here's Winston doing this exercise with me.  Notice how he loses interest when I let go, indicating he is really playing with ME, not with the toy, which is the case with most dogs.

NOTE:  I am partially taking these videos of Winston because I don't have any videos of Maxie at this age, and I want to track how Papillon's develop, when their feathers start filling out, how their features and markings change.  Thus the comments on Winston's tail, nose, ears, etc.  I am sorry to have missed Maxie's early development. I might have one old YouTube video of him playing with FoohFooh.  I'll look that up tomorrow.

Upwards and onward!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend Surprises!

Michele and Winston (5.5 months old)
 As I reported at the beginning of this blog, I didn't get Maxie until he was 6 months old, so I missed out on his early puppyhood.  I've been making up for that now, thanks to my cousin Lois's gift of two 8 week old Papillon puppies to raise and/or sell back in January, and by staying in touch with their new owners I am able to learn more about Papillon puppy development, how fast they grow, how smart they are, when their feathers fill in, temperament, training, etc.

The first surprise?  Kathy called me Friday morning asking if I would keep Winston over the weekend.  Her husband offered her a Mother's Day weekend getaway but the hotel didn't take dogs.  I had told both new owners I would  puppy sit "any time", and suddenly, it was time.  I leaped at the chance provided I could take Winston with me while I managed the Crawfish Boil on Saturday (previous post).  She said yes, I made a few adjustments to manage a puppy (set up the Xpen outside, put up a baby gate at the kitchen, put newspaper in Lucky's big crate where the puppy could spend the night, and a dog crate in the car), and within a few hours, I was a puppy mom again!

Winston at 9 weeks.
Winston (previously "Roku") seemed to remember us and all our dogs, and was properly indignant when fenced off in the kitchen or Xpen.  I quickly became confident to set him free, and he just ran with the pack like he had never left our house. They seemed to remember him, too.  WOW!  This brought back so many memories of Maxie's first weeks here.  I forgot how full of "piss and vinegar" little puppies are!

Knowing he would be picked up Sunday afternoon, I spent my Mother's Day morning doing a bit of puppy training and taking videos of Winston while I had the chance.  More on that in the next post.

Second surprise?  Nathan and Allison came over around 4 p.m. with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a tub of goose pate, and a lovely card.  I got to download Allison's ivideos of Jonathan's wrestling matches, which I uploaded to my family web album here.

Third surprise?  I called Jonathan and actually got him live, and we had a lovely chat.  He says he looks forward to seeing me this summer.  Boy, I am so looking forward to seeing him, though I have no idea what to do with a teenager.  He says "Just feed me.", but I think we'll take him to Avery Island, some plantation tours, maybe camping on a river somewhere. The phone book, I recently discovered, has a long list of tourist sites I've never even heard of.  We'll work that page over.  Sounds like a plan.

Okay, so now to post the training videos . . . . . . .

LCCOC Crawfish Boil/Mother's Day

Nedra's back yard, with ample shade.
 My dog club held its Annual Crawfish Boil/Family Picnic on Mothers Day Saturday, and this worked out perfect for me in every way.

40 people attended, the weather was awesome, I got to eat my favorite food -- boiled crawfish -- and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Thankfully, it was in Nedra's back yard, so I didn't have to spiff up my house or yard ahead of time, nor clean it up afterwards.  How did I love this day?  Let me count the ways.
  • First, John's Mother's Day gift to me was to take Saturday off from work and help me put the event together, and to boil 100 lbs of crawfish (3 sacks) in our 60 quart pot while the rest of us ate and socialized.  It was a gift only he could give, and my favorite kind of present in this world.  What a guy!
  • Second, I got to eat all the crawfish I wanted, seasoned to my own taste (not too salty nor so highly seasoned they singe your fingertips).
  • Third, I got to spend some quality time with Nathan and Allison (my son and his wife) on Saturday, partaking of good food together, then freeing them up to spend time with Allison's Mom on Sunday without rushing around. This worked out perfect for us all.
  • Fourth, I got to spend some quality time with Audrey (my sister-in-law) so we could celebrate our Mothers Day together (she works on Sundays), and we got to eat crawfish together (our favorite food).
  • Fifth, the weather was gorgeous and I prefer being outdoors whenever possible.
    Allison, Nathan and Winston
  • Sixth, I was dog sitting for the weekend with Winston, one of the Papillon pups I recently sold, and got to show him off to everyone.  He was passed around, kissed often, kissed back, and seemed to have a blast.
  • Seventh, I invited Laura to serve as our DJ with her iTunes playlist all worked out for parties, and her daughter Portia to watch over the puppy.  Portia is a natural with dogs and I wanted to introduce both of them to our club. Another mission accomplished.
Everyone seemed to have a grand time, and I've posted the party pix  here.

Winston and Portia
Next, I'll blog about Winston's surprise Mother's Day weekend visit and the videos I took of him.  What a joy!  I spent Mother's Day, while John was at work, fiddling with Winston and my new video editing program.  Another spoonful of joy!

Upwards and onward!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weave Relays

Weave Relays are a great way to build a dog's muscle memory for running the weaves at top speed, and I try and put both of my dogs thru this exercise at least once a week.  It's a lot of fun and gets them all revved up.

So, here's 2 videos, one of Maxie doing Weave Relays With 2 Trainers, then another of Lucky doing Weave Relays With 1 Trainer.  Maxie's 2 step is perfect for his small size.  Lucky, a larger dog, has also chosen to be a 2-stepper, which is fine by me. In the interests of time and file size, I cut out about half of the repetitions from these videos, but they do not tire from 10 to 20 reps.  They are actually disappointed and fuss at me when I say "Game Over".  My dogs stay interested because there is food involved.  I don't give a treat every single pass, but most of the time I do.

Trainers at both ends should stand back several feet from the opening, and change their position along a left/right line, so their "send" is given from different spots and the dog has to enter from a variety of angles.  If the dog messes up, don't give a treat, just send them back through for another chance to earn a cookie.  After they catch on, you don't even need to send them.  They just go.  And go.  And go.



Not shown in the video, this exercise should be handled from both sides of the weaves, and as the dog's love of weaving increases, introduce a jump before and after, etc.

Speed It Up
This same relay game can be played with 1 or 2 trainers over the dog walk, the A-frame, a tunnel, a jump-tunnel-jump configuration in a straight or curved line.  Even puppies catch on quickly to this game.  I call it "Speed It Up".  One day, I'll create videos of these:
Dog Walk Relays
A-Frame Relays
Tunnel Relays

Upwards and onward!