Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rose City Classic, Day 1


I had this whole grand plan of doing all this videoing today of the process of getting to the show and all the neat things at the show.  But that went completely out the window when I had to deal with unanticipated, stupid traffic.  It took me an hour and a half to go 24 miles.  This isn't LA people!  I budgeted for an hour, which I felt was generous given that I was hitting the road at 6:00 am.  I wanted to make sure that Dominic had a solid hour to acclimate to the show grounds and all the hubbub.  That didn't happen at all.  We got there so "late" that I was debating even setting up his crate.  But it was still good practice for him and I did want to be able to watch as much of the rest of the danes as I could.  So we worked with what we had.

Dominic is still really great in his crate.  He is also less distracted outside of the ring.  There is still general squirreliness and distraction while inside the ring, but that'll get better with more handling classes.  And that's the key for him.  He needs the distraction and commotion of a handling class in order to learn how to work regardless of it.  Last week I was hoping to go to two different handling classes with him, but both were understandably cancelled due to the weather.  This week I wanted to stay at home in the evenings because Miley got spayed and gastropexied on Monday and I wanted to keep an eye on her (she's recovering like a freaking champ!).  So my plans for added preparation for Dom were a bit foiled.  But it's four days of shows and I'll be sure to leave extra early tomorrow morning.

I did video a little bit of my traffic frustration, some of the best of breed ring for danes and then Dom and I burning off some energy after the show.  The numbers at the show today are definitely down.  With some highways still closed, many people are struggling to get here.  Today was probably the quietest day at the show and the chaos will only increase.  Thankfully we show at 8am all four days and, particularly on the weekend, we can show and get out of there before it gets to be too crazy.

Without further ado, here are the video clips that I did manage to get:


Monday, January 16, 2017

Dominic - Learning the Ramp

And now for Dominic.  I go through the same process with him.  Starting off with the ramp flat on the carpet.  Then I add a little height by using the aerobic step to rest it on.

He's never really had the opportunity to use the ramp, so he doesn't have any negative associations with it like Miley seems to have.  The only thing he knows is that she is hesitant around it, which I think has given him some confusion as to what he's supposed to do with it.  Otherwise he handles it pretty well.



A couple of "fun facts" from these two videos.  I actually watched myself this time and realized that I'm wearing the exact same outfit in both videos, even though they were shot on different days.  Scandalous, I know!  I have a habit of just throwing a hoodie on over whatever I'm wearing when I get home.  This video is a perfect case in point. ;)

The other little caveat is that the carpet is not the first location that I tried putting the ramp on.  Initially I put it on the kitchen floor.  I chose that surface initially for a couple of reasons.  One, the ramp has been sitting in the garage and was otherwise used in outdoor locations.  So it's not super clean and it has some cobwebs and such on it.  It's much simpler to just sweep up anything that comes off as opposed to vacuuming up.  And secondly, it allowed for a little more space.  I thought the kitchen floor had enough texture to keep the ramp in place, but it didn't.  Dominic's first time on it he came excitedly up and pounced his front feet on it and sent it scooting across the kitchen.  Which, of course, also unnerved Miley, who was holding a down stay on the carpet behind us.  So yeah, I recommend REALLY testing out the soundness of the surface that you're practicing on.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Miley - Relearning the Ramp

I don't know how it happened, but Miley became afraid of using the ramp to get into and out of my vehicle.  She'd been using it since she was a puppy and had no issues.  She definitely hasn't taken a spill off of it and I can't think of any negative incidents that would cause her to dislike it.  The only timing I can come up with that somehow ties in, is the passing of Heffner.  It wasn't until after he was gone that she started disliking using the ramp.

At the time, with only one dog, it was just easiest to load her up in the cab of truck, and later the minivan, than work on actually getting her back to being comfortable with the ramp.  It's lazy, I know.  But sometimes it takes me getting irritated with something or mentioning it a few times before I realize, oh yeah, I could train that.

With the host of winter events that we've had and me going back to relying on the truck to get around, I came to the realization that I need to get on it and get the dogs used to the ramp so that I can take them out to run around in areas that are only accessible by the truck.

For Miley, I had to REALLY break things down with the ramp.  Initially (unfortunately I didn't record these sessions to show where we started at) I had to just put treats on it and get her comfortable just being near it and taking treats off of it.  That's how bad her aversion to the ramp was.  I finally got her up to the point where she was okay walking on it flat on the carpet.  In the clip below, you can see her gradually getting more comfortable as the session goes on.  That's a pretty regular occurence for each of her sessions with the ramp.  She starts off hesitant, but gets more confident as the session progresses.

The clip after that is of her first session on the ramp where I added some height.  I used my aerobic step as a nice solid base to add just enough height to give the ramp a little of the bounce it will normally have, while keeping it at a low enough height that neither dog should feel uncomfortable.  Here's the video:


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snowpocalypse 2017 - Or Enough Of This Already!!


I'm looking at the last few things I've posted about and for crying out loud, the damn snow is in all of them!  Enough already!  Can we please stop with the bloody Game Of Thrones (props to you if you actually read that series before it was ever made into the show and subseqently became popular.  And if you did, lets chat about other authors, such as Robert Jordan, who are much better.) "winter is coming" reference already?!?!  Enough is enough!

But seriously guys.  We got a lot of snow.  I realize I was complaining about how the city shuts down with one inch.  And then there was the freezing rain incident.  But this was serious snow.  Depending on where you measured in my yard, I had between 6-8".  There were 10" at work.  And other areas saw a foot or more.  All of that happened in less than 24 hours.  Actually, it all happened in slightly more than 12 hours.  It was nuts.  For that I will agree that the city shutting down was appropriate.  Actually, I feel like there was less chaos this time around than there was for the last major winter "incident" that resulted in people having 5+ hour commutes.  So props to that.  I'm also still really pleased with how my city handles the snow and actually plows/sands the major roads.  That was much appreciated.

But I digress.  ENOUGH WITH THE WINTER IS COMING JOKES!!!  It's already flipping here and a lot of us are tired of dealing with it!

In order to calm my rage at something that is not substantial enough to kick in the proverbial gonads, I took pictures.  And video.  I put together a little video of snippets of Miley and Dominic's Snowpocalypse 2017 fun.  And I truly hope that this is the last time I use the term snowpocalypse or snowmageddon for at least the rest of this year.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Of Dumbbells And Things

I have started, sporadically, working with Dominic on his dumbbell retrieve.  It's all well and good for him to excitedly chase after a thrown dumbbell and bring it back without much structure, but I would like for him to have a solid understanding of the full retrieve and feel confident in his understanding.  So we're starting off a little boring and beginning work on the hold.


As you can see, he's not really clean on what I'm trying to get him to do.  He has a general understanding that he is supposed to mouth the bar, but we haven't worked on him really clamping just yet.  He's on the cusp of understanding to put more pressure on it with his mouth, but not there yet.  I usually warm him up with simple mouth grabs from a variety of heights so that he refreshes his understanding that no matter where the dumbbell is, he should put his mouth on it.

I've been gradually working up to trying to hold out for rewarding after I hear his teeth make contact with the bar.  My timing isn't always great and I also want to keep him from getting frustrated.

If he's standing up and I place the dumbbell on the ground for him to pick up, there's currently a lot of pawing.  So I've started having him down and then worked at removing my hand and having him only mouth the bar with no pawing.  It's a work in progress, but I am seeing at least a little bit of progress each time.

Every time I do one of these progress videos where I sort of jump into where we're at, it always get me wishing I had videoed our very first session, to give a better comparison of where we started and where we're at.  One of these days I'll actually think to do that....

I also took some video of Miley doing some beginning article work with the metal articles.


Miley has already been through learning to retrieve a metal article.  So she's got that understanding.  Now we get into the process of teaching her to discriminate a particular metal article in the article pile.  To do this, my instructor had me start working with tea infusers and I am totally a fan of this method!

Within the specific infuser that I want Miley to search out I place treats.  Once she retrieves the correct one and brings it back to me, she gets the reward contained with in and starts pairing the article containing the treats with the article that most strongly has my scent on it.  And therefore the correct article.  I warm her up with one infuser that she gets to see me toss as though it's a retrieve.  Then I work up to having it placed out in the "pile" and having her retrieve it.  Then I add one empty infuser (I need to get some tongs for this.  For the time being I'm using the directed retrieve glove to touch the "wrong" articles.).  Since this session, we've added a third infuser to the pile and she is still pretty quickly successful.

I also apologize for the angle of the camera.  Unfortunately you can't see things completely as she's figuring them out at the pile, but you get the general idea.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Day Continued

Of late, I have a tendency to really pack in my schedule.  To the point where I actually have to schedule out when I'm going to go grocery shopping each week.  The scheduling of all things has become a habit and has transferred over to my time with the dogs.  I schedule out how their daily training sessions are going to go, what we're going to do for training and exercise on which days and so on and so forth.  Overall this doesn't seem like such a bad thing, but my god, when your entire life becomes a bunch of things that need to be scheduled, it can get to be a bit much.  At least it can for me.

Now enter our home bound snow weekend.  Yes I have a capable four wheel drive truck that I could get around in if I needed to.  But I haven't needed to.  So I've stayed at home.  I didn't even need to go into work at all this weekend.  Because of the weather, ALL of my plans for this weekend have been cancelled.  It's amazing!  I took advantage of this unexpected free weekend to not plan or schedule in ANYTHING.  I feel like being a bum on the couch?  Done! I feel like making waffles with red velvet cake mix?  So totally done!  (side note:  I don't recommend overfilling the waffle maker with the cake mix.  It makes a bloody mess on the counter.  See what I did there? ;) ) I have done ZERO training with the dogs.  Zero.  And felt zero guilt for it as well.  I took full advantage of this snow weekend to absolve myself of the routine scheduling of my days as well as the resulting guilt that usually comes with not scheduling everything out.  It's been glorious!

This morning, after I got the email officially notifying me that I wouldn't be needing to go into work this morning, I opted for curling up in bed with the dogs.  Just as I was wrapping myself in the warm fuzziness of how great it was to curl up with my two munchkins on a chilly, snowy weekend morning, Dominic popped me in the eye with his paw.  Thanks for keeping it real bro.  I feel like that moment belongs on one of those expectations versus reality memes.  

Granted, the dogs are starting to climb the walls a bit, but being a slacker this weekend has totally been the mental health time that I needed.  We'll get back to regular training tomorrow.  Barring the weather continuing to poop out, I've got a private lesson with Miley and we'll do more of our normal Monday night training routine.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy more of these red velvet waffles and probably aim to do some oggling of Captain America later tonight.  I did do something productive today and put together a few clips of training bloopers from videos I have sitting around.  


Happy weekend everyone!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Snow Day Ramblings

If you live in the US right now, you may have heard that we're having a winter moment.  And that's pretty true for pretty much the entire country, except maybe parts of Florida.  As I've mentioned before, the Willamette Valley portion of Oregon doesn't handle snow events all that well.  And by all that well, I really mean at all.  It's not a flat area and usually not much gets done about graveling the roads (don't even get people started on salt or other forms of de-icing the roads; they rather wreck their cars) until it's become an issue.  So instead of getting stuck on the wrong side of the tunnel and having to make my way up a potentially icy and long hill to try and get home, I opted out of one event that was still scheduled for today and I will most likely stay at home with my wine (please believe I made a run to the grocery store last night to make sure I was appropriately provisioned for a proper Willamette Valley snow day) and dogs in lieu of driving in freezing rain for another event that is technically cancelled, but still open to those game to make it.

I've been somewhat productive and did finally take down my Christmas tree.  Le sigh.  The last official vestige of Christmas left in my house.  As much as I threatened that my New Years resolution was to leave the decorations up all year, taking them down does keep my butt in gear to continue gradually decorating my house.  You know, like normal people do.  I mean, who doesn't take multiple years to furnish and decorate a house?  Am I right?  Yeah, I know.

But I digress.  Or not really.  This post is going to meander a bit.  Firstly, because I've got time and the aforementioned wine.  Secondly, because I read a blog post that has had my wheels spinning and got me wanting to do a post that is just me talking.  I do this as I also draw similarities between my dogs on a snow day (where I'm actually at home the whole day) and the irritated postings of my friends with small children on snow days.  Miley and Dominic are currently "squabbling" over the same water buffalo horn.  Miley has it, Dominic has another one EXACTLY THE SAME right next to him.  But he wants the one that Miley is chewing on.  She is fake grumbling at him.  He continues to be the annoying little brother and bothers her in some pretty lame attempts to get her specific horn, when really, he's just bored and wants her to play with him instead of ignoring him in favor of chewing on the horn.  People, this is why I don't feel the need to have children.

The post that got me thinking was this one.

I remember when I first started this blog.  I was so excited to share absolutely EVERYTHING about my dogs with this random wide world of dog bloggers out there.  I both "met" and actually met some of my fellow bloggers in real life.  Some of them I'm very happy to say I'm still in some way connected to.  Whether it's loosely on Facebook, despite the distances between us, or otherwise.  It was this great and mostly welcoming community that I was so excited to be a part of.  I was able to see into the lives of a variety of people and a variety of dogs, all with different things going on.  I was able to glean tid bits of knowledge from various things that they shared.  And I had this awesome outlet for me to share my enthusiasm for all things dog in general and all things MY dogs specifically.

As time went on, just based on my total number of posts per year, you can see that I started off strong and then I dipped.  My posting was sporadic and much less than when I first started.  As is said, life happened.  I went through a divorce and the years it took to redefine myself in this new life situation.  I lost first Bess and then Heffner.  I gained Miley and now Dominic.  I transitioned, mentally, from viewing my job as just my job and a lesser bolster to the overall dual income I was a part of to viewing my job as my career and one that I really did love and was invested in.  And then there was the juggling.  Finding a balance between the many things that I had to the do, the things that I needed to do and the things that I wanted to do.  Along with balancing the expectation that various people had of me and learning how to prioritize everything in life that I wanted to do and fit in, with the various required elements that are part of being a responsible adult who is now the sole income supporting a mortgage, school loans and most recently, car payments.  Life can be a lot to juggle just on the day to day.  And finding that balance can take an irritatingly long time.

As I've made that transition, I've been the sporadic blogger.  Lamely apologizing for my absences, while also wondering who is still reading the blog and whether I should continue or just let it drop all together.

Then this past December, I don't know, I just sort of starting figuring out the prioritizing thing.  I'm busy.  There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.  There's work, still loving it, really thankful and happy about the opportunities that I'm given to continue growing and learning and so incredibly happy with the great group of people I get to work with.  There's non-dog life.  I'm learning how to balance time with family.  Both the family that I have here in Oregon and the rest of the family that's on the east coast.  I've lost two aunts over the past years.  Not getting back regularly to see the family over there is no longer something that I'm okay with.  That is a priority.  I will make the time and I will set aside the money to visit.  Those relationships are important and finding ways to stay connected over the distance is also a priority.  Friends.  This one can get tricky.  Balancing time with various friends and friend groups is a constant balance.  Some people get it and some people don't.  I'm incredibly thankful for those who do.  I'm also less inclined to stress myself out trying to fit in the wants of everyone.  Triple booking my weekend days is okay sometimes, but not something I'm willing to regularly do.  That means that some people are just going to have to understand this.  It is what it is and it's no longer worth it to me to stress myself out trying to accommodate everyone.  Oh yeah, and I didn't get dogs just to ignore them.  My time with my dogs is important.  Hence the blog. ;) But if you're reading this, then you already totally get that part.

After doing my personal Blogmas challenge, it really re-energized me to back to blogging.  I've missed it.  I'm not necessarily the most creative person in the world, but this is kind of a creative outlet for me.  It's also a medium where I get to talk unabashedly about my dogs.  I am freaking proud of my dogs.  Yeah, sometimes they're frustrating and they have definitely brought me the greatest sadness that I have felt, but holy crap, I freaking love them to pieces!  Again, if you're reading this, you know what I mean.  They can irritate us, they can do ridiculous things that we can't even comprehend, but I really don't know what I would do without them.  They have gotten me through rough spots and given me immense freedoms.  I very likely would not go out hiking as a lone female I didn't have the security of my giant dogs with me.  And without those moments out in the woods with no other human beings, I don't know that I would maintain my sanity.  Truthfully.

With Blogmas, I decided to do some minor revamping of the blog itself.  I've found it easier to subscribe by email to some blogs.  Then I decided to start looking at the blogs on the side bar that I used to spend so much time reading through.  I noticed a very saddening trend of blogs that hadn't been updated in a few years.  Some bloggers had lost the dogs they had when they started the blog and could not bring themselves to continue.  I completely get that.  Others have had life circumstances arise that have resulted in them making the decision to either remove their blog all together or just stop blogging.  Many of the blogs that I used to love reading so assiduously when I first started blogging are now defunct, for reason or another.  And I completely understand.  Again, I haven't exactly been the most constant blogger.  But it still makes me sad.  The community that I first felt so apart of has changed so much.

I am sad that Rescued Insanity, and many others, have stopped blogging.  I understand, but I'm still sad.  I agree with her; things have changed.  Yeah, there's a lot more people out there promoting their brand.  There are other shifts in society and social media that I think have really pushed this.  Notably, the YouTube vloggers.  People can make an actual living just vlogging their daily lives.  The dog community has been more of a niche community and making a living off of dog blogging, especially when there are other forms of social media that are proving to be more financially viable, means that you REALLY have to promote yourself and your "brand."  It's changed the face of things.  Like she said, the amateur blogger isn't as prevalent.  The just chatting about daily life with your dogs, isn't as prevalent.  I even have to admit this.  My posts lately have been heavier on the training side of things.  I am still absolutely an amateur and this is something that I do for the enjoyment of it, but I find myself falling into more of the habit of creating posts along the lines of having some sort of content.  I have no outside pressures to produce and I'm happy to keep it that way.  But I do understand how dog blogging in particular has changed.  But I'm okay with that.

The things I do with my dogs, my focus and what I'm more jazzed to blog about has changed, somewhat.  I competed more with Heffner and Bess than I have so far with Miley and Dominic (though they're both still young), but I still really love training in general.  I really enjoy putting together videos and doing the editing, even though the editing I do is pretty basic, I still really enjoy it.  My focus is a little different, I was heavier on the agility with Heffner and Bess and I'm definitely heavier on the obedience with Miley and Dominic, which is a blog post in and of itself.  My prioritizing of what is important with my dogs is different.  I went from a position of basically being able to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself, to now have more limited time and needing to prioritize where I was spending money.  You could say that I was having to think about things more critically versus just going for a variety of things.  And then there's the fact that with each dog I learn more and I like to think that I become more empathetic and cognizant of what each dog is going through and having to make decisions that are in the best interest of each individual dog.

Like I said, her blog post got me to thinking.  I am very sad to see so many people that I used to love to follow, who are no longer blogging.  Though I totally understand.  As with everything, change is inevitable.  We may see a time where blogging is obsolete and no one reads these any longer.  Who knows?  In the mean time, I'm going to keep on keeping on.  I may go through more life changes that result in absences from the blog, but I'll make my best effort to always come back.  The basis of this blog is that I love my dogs, their individual personalities and what each one of them is capable of and I want to continue to share that with whoever out there is still reading this. :)