So Pig In a Blanket IS Easier To Say. . .

We took a wonderful walk today. 3.5 miles! Yes I know it isn’t impressive for everyone, but for us with gimpy knees, no matter how many of them we have, 3.5 miles in a stretch is cause for a pat on the back.

Turns out there is beauty in the city as our walk showed us. We woke up to snow and while I normally am a huge fair weather walker, that darn clock is ticking down. . .down. . .down. And turns out the 30 miles down walk them selves-I actually have to do it! But back to the beauty in the city. We rousted out between flurries and it was a beautiful time to walk.

Steam on the river walk-proof this weather just can’t make up its mind, is it warm? Is it Cold? Who knows?
With the melting snow dripping from the trees it was just glowing green.
Can you see what I see?
“Lets go crazymomlady! 3.5 miles is nothin’!”
“Uuhhggg. . .3.5 miles is a long way! Are you crazy or somthin’ crazymomlady?”
So sure its easier to say “pig in a blanket”, but “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel In A Blanket” is so much cuter!
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Finally! Maizey’s Level 1 Video

I finally got around to putting together Maizey’s L1 tests into a video. We got some help on the filming and a great place to train when we took our training marathon trip south. Thanks to all who helped there!

And with out further ado her is her video:(just a note, it seems to play smoother if you click it and watch it at YouTube. Not sure why this technical difficulty, but if any of you training video guru’s out there can tell me I’d be glad to know!)

Maizey actually completed L1 back on April 1, 2010 when she could finally work her recalls after her last knee surgery. For an example of how quick it can be to work through the levels I took a look back at her training journal. Of course every dog is going to be unique in their progress and how fast you work through the levels depends on many factors in both the handler and the pup, but the individual working nature of the Training Levels is one of the many things that makes it so great!

We started Training Levels on February 9, 2010. She passed her L1 sit test on February 14, 2010. Then L1 down was passed on February 18, 2010. Zen was next on February 20, 2010. Target was a completely new behavior for both of us so we took our time, but she passed fairly soon on March 5, 2010. At that point she could have passed L1 come, but again that knee. . .

I think its a pretty good testament to Maizey, and the Training Levels for her to test out 5 behaviors 1 of which was completely new in less than two months!

Already she has passed some L2 tests and we continue to work on it, there are many new behaviors and we aren’t in a rush, but just enjoying the learning process. One thing for sure-she certainly learns faster than me!

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Migraines Don’t Motivate Me But My Girls Sure Do!

I been down with the sickly migraine so things have been really quiet around here. It’s times like this, when I am feeling like laying low, that I’m thankful I have two such low laying girls to hang with me! And times that make me highly question my thoughts of getting a “higher drive” dog for our next four legged friend.

Of course the reverse proves true too. On our recent jaunt down south, during a chat about what motivates me to get out and train, my friend looked at Maizey laying upside down in my arms snoring away and commented, “well she’s really not much help!” So true! It’s much harder to roust out when they are content to curl up with me where ever I am. A pup that needed more activity would definitely drive me to give them just that.

This got me thinking about what really does motivate me to train and exercise my pups. The number one thing on the list would definitely be their needs. After two days of laying as still as possible and moaning about my head Maizey just couldn’t take it anymore and made it clear we really must walk today. (That GIANT clock some sadistic maniac planted on my blog that is so clearly mocking me by screaming, “You are running out of time in your 30 miles in 30 days challenge” also helped!) And so out we went.

So the “What Motivates Me To Work With My Four Legged Friends” list:

1.) They are so much happier with regular mental and physical exercise
2.) I am so much happier when I regularly mentally and physically exercise with them.
3.) I am so much happier when they are happier!
4.) When I am irregular in working with Maizey it seems to be a “two steps forward, one step back” situation. Meaning: she doesn’t lose her skills, but for example on a walk it takes her much longer to work out “the wigglies” and get down to paying attention and doing dome good work if its been a couple of days since she walked.
5.) I stay so much more organized if we work a little everyday, so our work time is much more productive.
6.). . .7.). . .8.). . .

And so the list will continue. I would love any hints as to what keeps everyone else motivated to keep teaching and learning those “4 legged lessons.”

My 4 legged lesson of the day?

Turns out walking helps migraines much more than moaning! Thank you girls!

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Nothing Too Much To say When Edie Could have Said It Much More Eloquently

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Maizey and Me Walk In The Rain

Yesterday it rained. I don’t mean the kind of slight gray drizzle that just discourages a stroll down the block, but the kind of outright downpour we rarely see in the desert. The kind of rain that has the pups shaking out the drench before you hit the end of the driveway and the neighbors whose house backs the park, saying, “Yeah Mildred, there’s some girl out there with a little dog making the dog lay down and stuff. . .Yes its dumping rain!. . .No I don’t know why she’s out there!” It was the kind of rain that when we put big brother  charleycharley’s sweater on and let him out for our walk he made it to the end of the garage before he hit the solid sheet of rain, came to a skidding halt and rooted himself to the spot with that, “Are you totally nuts? It raining you know?” look. Big brother Charleycharley didn’t go for a walk in the rain. It was the the kind of storm that when you look outside you are actually justified in saying, “Uh. . .no four legged walk today.”

But there are some benefits to having a pup who throws herself into every puddle of water or snow she sees-she is a willing walking companion in the drenching rain. So we did our mile to the park and then we did recalls, sits, downs, stays, even some distance “go-rounds” with 4 perfect successes!(insert me cheering!) And it rained. And rained. Every time we started shivering we just started doing chase recalls and got warm again. It was great!

The four legged lessons learned? Maizey needs to learn to “down” on cold wet grass. And my four legged lesson? Learn how to shake the rain off like Maizeydoes you stay a lot drier!LOL

In his defense big brother charleycharley does love to go for a good run when its not raining:  

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The Eras Just Keep Ending

As posted before we put our jeep up for sale that we have had for 13 years. I thought that was of the end an era, but this morning we ended another era. It was the era of Edie.

I haven’t written much about her, she was my calm girl who never made any trouble. My sleepy scaredy kitty who never wanted bothered unless she wanted to bother me at 2:00am for a drink of water fresh from the faucet.LOL

She was this tiny 6 week old kitty @ Petsmart, where I was not supposed to be as I was on a break from work and short on time, but I was kitty hungry and they had kitties, so guess where I was? Yep, checking out the rescue kitties, and which one grabbed my hart? Not the rambunctious three legged yellow tabby who was desperate to play with me, not the little boy who only wanted to snuggle. No, I fall in love with this beautiful, blue eyed, white fluff ball who is cowering in the back of the cage, terrified and wanting nothing more than to be left alone.

It took me all day and all night but I begged my new mehusbandy into getting our first “together” four legged friend. I took her home, set up the litter box, gave her toys, and blankets, and food and water. . .and spent the next three weeks dragging her out from under the bed to use said toys, litter box, etc. She always was my scared girl! After the three weeks we did make progress we gradually moved to dragging her out from under the couch, the desk, and anything else she could hide under. I loved every second of her.

But today it was the day for her to find relief. She has been sickly most her life, and gradually going down hill over the last few months and today just became the day. She went peacefully, more so than me. She was a beauty and our first “together” furry kid. She will be in my heart and always in my memory.

Oh yeah, and last night? We sold the Jeep.

The eras just keep on ending.

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"No Crazymomlady, That’s Wrong. . .You have to Explain It To Me This Way!"

We are home from our ‘training trip marathon’ and now trying to assimilate everything we learned. I’m not sure who learned more-Maizey or me! But one thing is for sure when you give Maizey good information she is a hard worker who can and will figure out what you’re asking her for. Now I just need to get good enough at giving her the right information at the right time.

It is absolutely amazing to me how in training its the littlest things that can make the biggest difference in getting the behavior you are asking for. For instance one of the new behaviors we worked on was L2 Stand. I have never taught this before so my friend was a great help in explaining it to me. During our second session I got two really good stands out of Maizey, but then on the next two she would stand and immediately sit down. Since ‘stand’ is a duration behavior that leads to L2 ‘stand-stay’ the sit is something I certainly don’t want to reinforce. Well I tried a few more times, but kept getting the immediate sit following the stand. So I asked my friend about it and she reminded me of one to the fundamentals of clicker training:

Treat while in position, and where you treat is key to reinforcing the behavior you want. Turns out the way I was positioning my cue was leading her head up to grab the treat which of course when her head goes up her hind end goes down producing the instant sit. Another example of this is when we walked up the canyon to take some photos of the pups. Of course I would position her to sit and and wait but of course in a new environment with lots of distractions it was hard for her so she kept breaking the wait very early. The solution? Again treat in the position you want. If I wanted her in a sit-wait I had to be fast to get back to her to c/t and reinforce the sit-wait while she was still sitting and waiting.

So for me it worked like this:

Put her in position, cue: “sit, wait!”C/T
 ”Hmmm that treat was good!”
 Then walk straight backwards several steps.
Our furthest distance was about 10′ back.
Then walk back to her and while she is still in position waiting C/T and have a party!

Eventually with enough practice and the help of a good friend with a nice camera you can get a really pretty “sit-wait” photo-op!

 Maizey loved all of this training because of course she get really good training treats! We used everthing from ‘chicken liver cheerios’ to turkey hot dogs and of course we always use her breakfast and dinner kibble for the easy behaviors she already knows. I think we need to switch up her treats and one I have been wanting to try is the Zukes salmon flavored treats. I thought they would work easier for us since Meeka can’t have the chicken or the turkey and it gets hard to keep the “Meeka treats” and “Maizey treats” separate. Salmon is something they could both have! Plus I’ve read you can use these to “marinate” with cheerios and get “salmon cheerios!”LOL
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