Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The Morning After
Dog Blog Post #189: And now, for this years Goals and Resolutions. To keep things brief, most things have links to somewhat explanatory past blog pages (or external pages in the case of "The Big Stuff".)

The Big Stuff:

  • Family Dog (Henry)
  • Family Dog II (Henry)
  • CGC (Henry)
  • Conformation (Henry - if he "turns out" and I can find one, else Agility for Fun)
  • Rally (Zachary - if I can find one)
Things from Last Year:
New Areas to Explore:
Whew! That should keep us busy, don't you think?

Goals and Resolutions Review

Dog Blog Post #187: Well, today's the last day of the year, making it time to look back and see how we did.

(As mentioned the other day, my very first post in this blog were my Goals and Resolutions for 2010, and that is what I will be referencing here. My comments are in square [] brackets.)


Zachary: My main goal was to find "...ways to enrich his life and give me excuses to spend 'quality time' with him":

  • AKC's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate [DONE]
  • AKC Rally Novice (RN) - enter a match (if I can find one!) by the end of year [I had planned to try the local show in October but the fates conspired against us]
  • Sue Ailsby's Training Levels [these are Old Training Levels]
    • Finish Level 3 (which includes Level 1 On The Road) [DONE]
    • Finish Level 4 (which includes Level 2 On the Road) - [Mostly Done, minus On The Road]
    • Finish Level 5, but probably NOT Level 3 On the Road [Tested just a few]
I suppose my goals for Beau are immaterial at this point, but the Big Dog did me proud by completing level 3 and most of level 4. He even managed to do Level 1 On the Road (a big accomplishment given his acute Obsessive Compulsive Friendliness Disorder!)

My Resolutions

  1. 10-15 minutes working toward their goals, per dog, five times a week [Oh the whole, I actually managed to do this! There were good weeks and bad, but I'm going to call it ACCOMPLISHED.]
  2. Report back here once a week. A scale isn't any good if you don't step on it. [I was doing great until we lost Beau, which definitely derailed my training rut. Things are pretty much back to normal now.]
  3. Video progress whenever possible. Like that afore mentioned scale, the camera doesn't lie. [I think this one gets a Gold Star. I have videoed EVERYTHING I could for Training Levels so far, and plan on keeping it up!]
The Dogs Resolutions
  1. Go someplace "special" once a month.  (special to the dogs, that is) [Hmmm... need to try harder on this one]
  2. Do something "extra fun" once a week.  (see above) [See above]
  3. Learn a new trick every month.  (tricks = treats, need I say more?) [Assuming a broad definition of tricks, and averaged over the year, I'm pretty sure I did this!]
  4. Play fetch EVERY day.  (Zachary insisted I add this one. He already gets it every day when the lawn isn't a mud pit and the weather doesn't have "watch" or "warning" attached to it, but he wanted it writing just to be sure.) [Ok... not EVERY day - the lawn couldn't handle it - but we play SOME game EVERY day]
  5. Go to the pet store once a week. (this one is from Beau, who has quite the fan club there) [More like once every other week, or so.]
And there you have it. 

Stay tuned for our plans for 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trick of the Week

Dog Blog Post #186: I've decided to "challenge" myself and my boys to teach/learn one new trick each week. The tricks don't need to be fancy or hard, just something uniquely cueable and not already known by at least one of the dogs.

Since Henry is still a babe, the early tricks will probably be ridiculously easy (shake, high-five, jump over a pole... etc.) but as I need to come up with 52 of them, they will undoubtedly get harder as the year progresses and I run out of easy things to teach.

While I will probably list the trick to be taught on the Weekly Worksheet, I reserve the right to change my mind as to what we will be working on, as you just never know what will prove easy and what... won't. (sigh)

(We won't discuss how long (calendar time) it took to get Zachary to Push a Cabinet Door Closed... but the units were in months, although when he finally figured it out it took just a few sessions. I think Beau learned it all in one afternoon. It also took him forever to learn to push the "Easy" button, while my son (who never teaches anyone anything) taught Beau to do it in 5 minutes. Of course, Zachary learned to Unload the Drier in a month, but Beau was challenged to simply put a rag in a basket. And we aren't even going to mention how long it took Zachary to look at me for Ten Seconds. Double Sigh.)

Anyway, I threw together a list of tricks from my Just For Fun pages plus Susan Garrett's Ideas List for Shaping plus a few thoughts that just popped into my head, then created a Trick of the Week page over on BZDogs so I could easily add additional things as I think of them.

Feel free to pop over and take a look. Feel even freer to offer up additional suggestions here!

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Canine Journal

    Dog Blog Post #184: I bought a book this weekend, Keeping A Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth - A total impulse buy, as I spend little time in "nature" these days (sigh) and have zero time to actually keep a journal.

    (The book suggests 45 minutes a day. Or maybe that was an outing. Doesn't matter, either way, as I don't have that kind of time!)

    So why am I mentioning it here?

    Because (a) it's a gorgeous book, and if you are into that sort of thing you should take a look at it and (b) it triggered a twinge of inspiration that might actually be appropriate here.

    That is, the following sentence did, "... nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you." (pg. 5)

    Isn't that what a dog blog is? A "[somewhat] regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the [dogs] around you"?

    And so now I'm wondering if I could take a few minutes (definitely not 45, but since I photograph instead of drawing I could probably cut that down to 10-15) and simply observe my dogs being, well, dogs.

    Maybe write about it occasionally.


    Perhaps under the heading Canine Journal?

    We'll see. Like I said, it is so far just a twinge of inspiration.

    In the section on "Getting Focused" (pg. 25) I found some more good ideas (I took the liberty of substituting "dog blog" for "journal" or "nature journal"... hopefully that doesn't step on any legal toes!):
    • "Think about what you want to achieve with your own [dog blog], and how it may relate to other personal goals you have."
    • "Remind yourself that you are keeping the [dog blog] to learn to observe, record, and fully appreciate [...] You are doing this for yourself, and your own enjoyment."
    I highly recommend taking a look at the book if you are even remotely interested in nature journaling. It is filled with colorful little sketches (see picture at top of this post for an example), gives many tips on how to sketch things in your own journal, and has a lot of ideas/inspiration for how to make and/or improve a journal.

    It does have absolutely nothing to do with dogs, or blogs, except when viewed through a wide-angle lens - although there are a few quick sketches of dogs within.   :)

    (Obligatory disclaimer: I don't any interest or stake in this book - I just happened to like it!)

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    Christmas Wish

    Dog Blog Post #183: Am I the only one who thinks Zachary's Christmas Wish is right beside him?

    (At least until until those teenage hormones kick in!)

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Lessons Learned?

    Dog Blog Post #181: You would think Henry would have learned his lesson after he got his head stuck in the metal baby gate a few months ago.

    Apparently not, as he happily fell asleep with his head stuffed under the sofa skirt.

    (Let's hope this is not a sign of things to come.)

    Speaking of Lessons and Learning...

    I'm gearing up to write this year's Training Goals and Resolutions, based on Henry's very own personal Canine Curriculum

    (hmmm... guess I need to write that up as well!)

    Yes, I know, I still have a week until New Years Eve, but the list is important so I want to take my time and get it right.

    It's strange the twists and turns the fates throw at you. Reading over last years Goals and Resolutions, which made up the inaugural post of this blog, it's hard to imagine the road we ultimately traveled.

    Fate has a funny way of changing things, doesn't it?

    I hope the fates smile down upon us all this coming year, and spin our way with a gentler hand than was used this year now passing.

    I hope Henry grows up healthy and happy, and that he and Uncle Zachary build a friendship that will last a lifetime.

    I hope everyone enjoys a safe and joyous holiday.

    I'm going to try to make the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop, but if not, then Merry Christmas to all!

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Jingle Collar Finale

    Dog Blog Post #179: Sadly (depending on your point-of-view) this appears to be the end of the line for The Evil Jingle Collars.

    As the weather outside's quite frightful
    And the collars weren't delightful
    And as there's no hope for snow
    We'll just go with the photos below

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    More Evil Jingle Collar

    Dog Blog Post #178: When first we saw The Evil Jingle Collar, it was no where near our young pup's neck. But that would never do. Christmas pictures must be taken!

    Yet neither time nor patience, nor even a ton of cookies, seemed to be working. The Jingle Collar remained over here, and Henry remained over there...

    ... until Uncle Zachary whispered something in his ear.


    I kid you not.

    And so it was, that Henry sat next to The Evil Jingle Collar...

    And then, at long last, and with more than a few false starts, he finally let me slip on The Evil Jingle Collar...

    ... and the heavens opened...

    ... and cookies rained down from on high...

    ... and Henry thought, "Hey, this this pretty good!"

    (Well, he didn't think that right away. At first, he looked downright miserable...)

    (Nasty Jingle Collar)
    But then, as the cookies continued to rain down, the Evil Jingle Collar became a bit less evil...

    To be continued yet again...

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    The Evil Jingle Collar

    Jingle Collar = Cookies. I like Jingle Collar.
    Dog Blog Post #177: The day was perfect. The light was perfect, the temperature was perfect, and the leaves (bound for the recycle bins) lay in a perfect, undisturbed layer upon the ground.

    At long last, we had reached... Christmas Picture Day.

    (Or so I thought!)

    And while I also thought I might have trouble finding a sliver of sunlight between the long shadows thrown by the trees...

    (and I did)

    And I thought I might have trouble getting the dogs into said sliver of sunlight, should it be found...

    (and I did)

    And I thought I might have trouble getting them to hold still in exactly the right place, in exactly the right way, at exactly the right time...

    (and I did)

    I never dreamed that the hardest thing of all was going to be just getting The Evil Jingle Collar around Henry's neck...

    (but it sure was!)

    Jingle Collar Evil - I sit waaaaaay over here.
    Sitting Pretty. More Cookies, please.

    Fine. On leaves now. Jingle Collar still Evil.
    Time Passes...

    H: Maybe just a sniff... Z: Still sitting pretty. Where's Cookie?

    (A secret shared)
    To Be Continued...

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Oh, Deer

    Dog Blog Post #176: Not only is Henry no longer a puppy, it now appears he is trying to turn into something other than a dog!

    Yes, I know, it's hard to believe, but I present before you incontrovertible proof.

    -- I beg the overly sensitive to avert their gaze...

    Can there be any doubt as to the final outcome?

    Oh, Deer!

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday - Field of Leaves


    Dog Blog Post #174: Zachary spins when we feed him. We have no idea why, but he's done it since he was a puppy.

    It's as if the sight of his bowl so filled him with joy that he just had to move to express it. As there wasn't much of anyplace to go - at least not and stay within sight of the bowl (which was kind of the point of the whole excitement thing) - and so he spun in tight circles, moving in front of us, as we made our way from the kitchen to the family room hearth.

    It was kind of cute.

    Sort of.

    At least when he was puppy.

    As he got it older, it admittedly got less cute. Seventy pounds of spinning Golden can apply quite a bit of force to whatever it might hit, and he hit a surprising number of things.

    He'd hit the sofa fairly frequently.

    The six foot long leather sofa.

    Didn't dent his enthusiasm (or his velocity) one bit.

    He'd hit anyone who happened to be standing between him and his destination.

    The TV lies between the kitchen and hearth, and yes, he has run into numerous innocent bystanders, just hanging around watching the 'tube, on his way to dinner.


    Beau never spun. At least not until Zachary came along. Beau had far too much dignity to spin. At last until Zachary came along. After a time, he picked up on the idea, but translated it into a measured trot into a circle, but only if the offering in the bowl was going to be of exceptional quality.

    Beau didn't spin for kibble.

    Zachary would spin for air and a smile.

    Henry didn't spin when we first got him, but it didn't take long for him to pick up on Zachary's endearing(?) habit, and he is now striving to outdo his uncle in enthusiasm.

    This is not a good thing.

    And so last night, the killjoy of the house (that would be me) decided the spinning had to stop.

    It actually only took a few loud throat clearings (so they would stop long enough to notice I wasn't following them) and standing still with the food bowls, to make them realize the dinner time rules had changed.

    I no longer move when they spin, instead standing quite still until all motion has ceased before I start walking again.

    It's now been three meals (for me) and the spinning has dropped a good 75%.

    While it might be too late to make final predictions, this is looking like one bad habit that I might actually be able to break, and hopefully before anything in the house gets broken!

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Little Dog Big Dog

    Little Dog looking big
    Big Dog looking little
    Two Dogs in the Leaves
    Two Dogs looking at me...
    ... or not!

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Growing Up

    One Puppy
    Dog Blog Post #172: Well, I can't deny it any longer. My precious little puppy isn't little any more.

    (Still precious, of course, he'll always be that!)

    Sure, he acts like a puppy (most of the time) and looks like a puppy (some of the time) but it is all too apparent that where once a little puppy stood, a small dog now does stand.

    Kids are not like puppies in that way. Kids grow up so much slower, and it would nearly impossible to choose two pictures, taken even a week or two apart, where my son magically went from infant to toddler, or toddler to preschooler, ... etc.

    (Except, perhaps, right after a hair cut. Every time my son got a hair cut he seemed to get much older, only to "regress" in age as it grew out!)

    But, as was noted by several folks last week, there are now, indeed, pictures showing a small dog, despite what I might see through the camera lens. And in fact, I can get both puppy and small dog on the same day, or even during the same shoot. (The pictures on this page were taken yesterday, six hours apart.)


    Today we went to the sports place to watch my son play Lacrosse. As usually, he sat there calm and collected as he was mugged by small children and cooed over by some seriously dog-loving parents. He's most responsive to the little ones. To adults, he behaves with quiet dignity. With kids he is more interactive (particularly if they have sticky hands!) and his favorite of all are the really little ones - the 2-3 year old kids, who can barely say doggie, yet extend their hands in honest (if clumsy) friendship.

    That's when he's truly in his happy place.

    Adults always comment on how calm he is, and ask what I did to create that. I'm afraid my answer of, "He just came that way," disappoints, but it's true. He did.

    Will it last? I hope so!

    While watching Henry mature into a well-mannered (at least until the hormones kick in) dog leaves me filled with pride and satisfaction, it is also a bit sad; my precious little puppy is growing up fast, and there isn't a darn thing I can do about it.
    Two Dogs?

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Xmas Party

    Dog Blog Post #171: Ok, I'll admit it. I talk about dogs a lot, and my puppy even more.

    He's a puppy, after all. That makes him adorable by definition, and therefore everything he does is adorable, which gives me lots to talk about.

    I even bring in pictures and tape them to my door. Now, who wouldn't be cheered up by that?

    It appears, however, that not everyone at work is as enamored with puppies as I am.

    I know, hard to imagine, but it's true.

    Take, for example, our annual office Christmas party - a simple pot-luck affair. Despite being a confirmed introvert (borderline hermit?) I actually like the annual office Christmas Party, and did not hesitate to sign up with my "signature" dish.

    (Why "signature" is in quotes is a whole other story, but as this is a dog blog, not a cooking blog, or (to be truly in context) an office party blog, we'll move on...)

    Soon after I signed up, somebody (and yes, we all knew who) put a sticky note over my "signature" dish and wrote in "Puppy Chow".

    I suppose I should have taken that as an admonishment to tone down the talk of puppies - but really, where's the fun in that?

    And so I thought...

    ... and I pondered...

    ... and I chatted with some coworkers who do like puppies...

    ... and I came up with a plan - a plan that embraced my assignment of bringing in Puppy Chow!

    And so it was that people entered the feast and beheld the picture at the top of this post (recreated on my kitchen table for your viewing pleasure.)

    Now, I'm not sure I won over my puppy-hating coworker, but he did give a begrudging chuckle and partook of the offering (after I reassured him (and everyone else) that everything there was "people food".)

    Alas, in a final twist, I have been informed that I must now recreate my offering next year, and no doubt forever more, knowing this crowd. And here I thought only good deeds were supposed to punished!

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Walk This Way

    Dog Blog Post #170: With puppy shots concluded, Henry was freed this past week to join us on our daily walks, turning what once was a pleasant chance for hubby and I to chat and get fresh air, into a dangerous exercise in moving target avoidance.

    That is, the little guy was constantly underfoot, over foot, wrapped around feet, and not even on his own feet, as he bounced up and down in hopes someone would pick him up.


    A Golden Retriever.

    (Most embarrassing)

    Pace wasn't a problem. He could more than keep up, traveling at a lovely trot that sadly will go away once he gets big enough to find that gait doesn't work with such pokey humans.

    No, It was (mostly) a general lack of understanding as to the purpose of the walk. That ribbon of sidewalk stretching before him just didn't seem to suggest, "Walk This Way!" Instead, he would veer right (in front of me) into the grass, then shoot left (in front of me) to see the shrubs on the other side, then careen back again, clipping Zachary's heels, causing him to stop, causing hubby to stop, causing Henry to stop, and me (who was looking down, trying to avoid tripping over Henry in the first pace) to plow into the accumulation of bodies in front me.

    (It wasn't pretty)

    More than once, my reflexes were tested as little sit-and-stare decided to jump in front of me, stop dead, and (I'm not kidding) sit and stare.

    (That also wasn't pretty)

    Thankfully, all that was (mostly) just a phase - especially the pogo-ing and careening part, and he can now walk (almost bravely) past raising garage doors, closing front doors, and barking dogs (mostly).

    Tonight was his best night yet, for not only did he (mostly) stay on the sidewalk, he (mostly) walked straight ahead. He even had stretches when he (mostly) walked beside me - of his own accord!

    (I've never had a dog want to walk beside me before. It's a rather novel experience, one I rather much enjoyed, however temporary the phenomenon might be.)

    I still want to get him a no-pull harness. Zachary prefers his harness to a collar, and so it seems only fair to give Henry the same choice. (Zachary is convinced that collars are for lesser creatures, and always seems quite offended when I actually put a real one on him.)