Posts For Me

If you saw the number of “drafts” in my posts list you would never believe it.

Seems like I just can’t get past a title for a post anymore. I have no idea why. I have bloggers block. It’s weird too, cause I love to blog. I love to write and I love my dogs so what could be better than writing about my dogs? Still. . . no words come.

I still read everyones blogs, and love them. But for my little neglected blog there just seems to be no words.

So it got me thinking, Why did I start blogging? Who do I write for anyways?

The answer might seem selfish, but I started blogging for me. I started keeping a record of the lessons I was learning for me.

So what’s the problem?

Sometimes I bog myself down in feeling like I have to link to everything possible, have stunning pictures in every post, never have ONE typo-gasp! A typo! Then I got bogged down in the commercial aspect, the details of Google Analytics and SEO’s and paid posts. Making my blog into something that the “whole world” could find valuable or something silly like that.

But you know what? My favorite blogs to read are not always the technical training blogs, though I do love those. Most of the blogs on my blog roll are the daily stories of you and your 4legged friends. When I loved my blog the most thats what it was too.

I need to go back to that original goal of keeping a record of the adventures of my pups for me. I hope that means someone along the line will still be able to learn from our lessons, but if not, I still have it for me.

It’s not that I don’t want to be a resource for all the loyal readers I have, but I’m not much of resource if I never post. I’m tired of getting to the end of all these drafts and thinking, “Who would want to read this anyways?”

You know who wants to read it? I do!

So in the spririt of reenergizing this blog here’s a brief recap of what we’ve done with our lessons the last few weeks and months:

Magnus is doing good. He doesn’t understand why he can’t zoomy and fetch like always, but his limp is getting better.

Maizey is still my Princessface. She has good days and not so good days. We finished her Tricks for Clicks class a while back and she did great.

Our Training Levels work is going good. I love Sue’s new books and am far enough into them to actually start testing through and working on the levels again. I’m loving that.

Magnus got his AKC STAR and now we’re making CGC plans.

Lots of exciting walks and training has been happening, although this has been out slowest week in ages since I’ve had stomach flu and Magnus has that pesky limp.

And while none of this seems that interesting, I know in a year I’ll look back and even if I’m still thinking, “Who wants to read this anyways?” I know I’ll be reading it and be glad I am!


Clicks and Tricks Class One: Shrill Barking is NOT a Trick

Today Maizey started her Clicks and Tricks class.

The class is awesome, only three other dogs and based on a combination of shaping, luring and some capturing.

Today we covered basics: hand touch, spin, twirl, backup, and settle on one hip.

Backup is the only one we have never worked on. Our homework is to get multiple touches for one c/t, get her spin and twirl on verbal cue only, start backup and refine the settle.

Settle I have to think about a little bit, I currently use a settle cue to mean, “lay down, chill out and quit bugging me, but you can move when you want.”

I’m not sure with this being a trick if I want to cue something different, something clever. . . of course I’m not feeling too clever right now so I’ll have to think about it.

For backup I have a similar question of what to cue. I think for a trick “beep-beep-beep” like the backing up of a big truck would be funny, but that’s not a cue I would use for a more formal backup like they use in Rally, so do I need two cue’s? Is it two behaviors? Again, I don’t know, so it looks like I have homework to do!

We were given a list 24 tricks to choose from and as a class we chose a total of 12-15 to learn over the next six weeks. Some are very basic (roll over), some are more advanced and require a behavior chain (moon walk, which is a play bow where the dog walks backwards in the bow.)

The class is going to be great, but right now I’m exhausted! Not because of the class, but because my Princess Of The Shrill Bark lived up to her name today.

After her success in Petite Pals I really wasn’t expecting today to be this hard for her. I didn’t see an abnormal amount of stress before class, we followed our routine and she seemed fine. We had the same set up as her last class: us in a corner behind an x-pen with blankets covering it to reduce stimulation.

I’m super proud of her, this is her first class with no play time so she doesn’t meet and greet the other dogs and it was hard for her. It was like she could work for me as long as it was very basic skills she already knew, then something in her head would trigger and it was like all of sudden she was thinking, “Oh crap there’s dogs out there! MOM! MOM! MOM! DOGS! DOGS! DOGS!”

Then she would reorient and be like, “Oh yeah this is the coolest game! I’m so good at this, I’ll offer you anything!” Then the alarm in her head would go off again and it was back to reacting for a second.

Honestly I almost just quit half way through, the most important thing is that she not be traumatized. It’s also the hardest thing to tell at this stage. It used to just be she was constantly reacting and couldn’t even think. She was obviously over threshold the whole time around other dogs.

Now it’s more like she just needs impulse control and experience to keep her brain engaged. The trouble is it’s my job to read her and know when enough is enough and it was easy to know before, now it’s just harder to tell.

I got to the point that I thought, “She’s just not going to pull out of this today, we just need to go to the park and shake it off.” I picked her up and snuggled my face into her face and just breathed with her. I felt her relax, that has never happened before, I was so glad to experience that. It was as if my breath cued her to take a deep breath and after that I just stayed on the floor with her and we mostly just c/t for quiet while we worked very basic skills.

By the end of the class she was laying quietly, even if I wouldn’t say she was relaxed. So I’m glad we stayed. I dont know how she will ever learn to get through that anxiety if she doesn’t get a chance to ride it out, and let me help her.

But it’s so tiring for both of us. The mom part of me kicks in and I just want to snuggle her and make her feel better, but that’s not the answer. We both have to work so very hard to keep our brains in gear and keep the anxiety down.

I know it certainly doesn’t help her if I just get to feeling bad for her so mostly that part just comes after, it comes now. The human part where I feel so sad that this brillaint, eager, clicker savvy, offering, loves to work dog can’t enjoy this fun class ’cause her brain is short circuiting hits me hard and it’s hard not to second guess every choice I made.

The other human part is similar to what I felt for meeka when people would judge her for being a Rottie, there was so much beauty and grace in her that they never got to see. When you have 14 pounds of barking, lunging Cavalier people tend to look at you funny.

I can’t blame them, if I saw her coming towards me and my dog I’d go the other way too. But it’s still hard not to let it hurt a bit. Not personally for me, but for what they are missing in knowing the true her and what she’s missing in getting to live a full life.

All I can do is keep trying, be thankful that I have good trainers to help me and remember she is a happy girl, and even if she never overcomes this she has a good life, even if it’s one with limitations.

Therein is today’s 4legged lesson: Modesty means being aware and accepting your limitations. Modesty is hard, it doesn’t mean you don’t try to overcome your limitations, but it does mean if you have a Princess Of The Shrill Bark and she may always be a Princess Of The shrill Bark you help her as much as you can and love her twice as much. She doesn’t judge herself for her limitations why should I or anyone else?

As for Tricks and Clicks class? I defer once again to Sue Ailsby, “It’s all tricks, relax!”


This, That and Tiny Furry Sumo Wrestling

It seems the only thing I write about anymore is the Walking Challenge. Which is exciting since today I finished my goal of 30 miles in a month for the first time! So click treat for us on that one, and we still have tomorrow, we might actually get caught up a bit.

We are doing other things around here. Today we took in Charley and Chloe for two weeks, so we are temporarily a four dog household. . . Whew! Four dogs, two of whom are adolescents, really keep you hopping!

Today it looked like it might stop leaking slush from the sky for a bit so I thought we should all go to the park, but of course by the time I had them all loaded into their crates in the car it was blizzarding slush from the sky.

So we drove to the park and I thought I would use the time to work on Chloe’s car fears. After c/t her for quiet and downs and other relaxed behaviors we drove around some more c/t’ing as we went. By that time I felt like it would be cruel to not let them out for a run and the slushing had let up a bit. Of course by the time I had them all out and leashed up it was back to blizzarding so we all got thoroughly soaked.

Can we please have sunshine now?

Magnus’ loves having Chloe here. It’s like a 24/7 little furry sumo wrestling match. Those two are so funny. I have video to put up, but am having technical difficulties so movie making is on hold. If you remember this WW, it pretty much sums it up though.

I am so excited for tomorrow, Maizey starts her Clicks and Tricks class. I’m not even sure what we will be learning, but I know it will be a combo of shaping and luring and. . . tricks, of course!

I decided not announce exactly what the prizes for the Walking Challenge giveaway will be until closer to the giveaway, but I will tell you the prize packages have themes and I think they are all cute as can be! Some of you have already completed posts about the Challenge and I will be posting links on Monday with the “Monday Miles” post.

So other than the new car, the fabulous gift we got from Reilly (great big thanks and a post is in the making), the new washer and dryer (it actually has a cycle for pet beds, could it be anymore perfect for me?), the fact that we might be moving, and about 26,000 other random things I haven’t posted about you are all caught up now! Okay, not quite, but at least I fit in the important things-the dogs!