Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photography

Dog Blog Post #162: I don't actually know that much about Photography, but having recently taken my 10,000th picture with my favorite digital camera (plus another 6,000+ with its predecessor) I think I've seen enough of the good, the bad (and especially the ugly) to have formulated an idea of what goes into making a picture that I like..

... and I think it boils down to Clarity, Color/Contrast, Composition/Cropping, and Content.

(My 4 C's of Photography?)

Clarity: With the exception of specialty action shots, I want my pictures to be sharp and clear. When I start looking through a newly shot set, the first thing I do is chuck the blurry ones, unless they have some overriding artistic merit or are applicable to the story/post somehow (like the Zachary "killing the glove" shot!)

I don't have any secrets for taking clear/sharp pictures, other than having a decent camera (which, for me, means auto-focus!) and holding it still. The better the lighting, the less still I need to be.

Tripods can help with stillness, but tripods and dogs can be tricky, because not only do you have get the dogs posed right, you also have make sure they are posed wherever the camera is pointing (or, more likely, the other way around.)

However, tripods plus a timer to delay the picture taking by a few seconds can be extremely useful - especially if you have to be an active participant in the picture taking process (by squeaking a toy just out of range, or holding bait, or...)

Clarity is imporant for the principle subject, but a soft "fuzzy" background adds atmosphere to pictures, which is a plus. It also hides the fact you didn't think ahead and pose the dog away from hoses, garbage cans, and the like (see Composition, below). Some camera's have a "portrait" mode that helps create a "fuzzy" background. You can also get it using "macro" mode (my favorite!) and taking extreme close-ups.

(It has something to do with focal length, I think, but I don't really know that much about photography.)

Color/Contrast: Yes, I know, that's two C's and not one, but in some sense they are the same to me. I either like high contrast (light puppy, dark background) or nice colors (the flower pictures on some of my Weekly Worksheets.) You can have either one or the other (or both, I suppose) but I personally feel you usually need at least one.

The pictures people comment on the most (of mine) are the high contrast ones. Those are actually very easy to take, assuming you can find the right conditions. A light subject, with strong natural lighting from the side coupled with an shadowed background does it every time. It's an exposure thing - the camera sets the exposure for the light subject and everything else goes black.


(That's about all I can say - remember, I don't know that much about photography!)

If you take enough pictures, you start to develop an "eye" for the right conditions, and nothing sends me scampering for my camera faster than when I spot it!

Color is subjective, and as my dogs don't have much, I don't have much to say. In a perfect world, I would find backgrounds that complemented their color. At the moment, they look stunning posed on the fallen leaves of our Bradford pear tree.

Composition/Cropping: Yup, two more C's together. That's because mediocre composition can sometimes be improved by good cropping!

I don't actually worry too much about composition, other than trying to avoid posing the dogs in front or near obviously ugly things (note my failure to do so with that bright blue ball in the background!)

I do know that centering your subject smack dab in the middle of the picture, unless doing a portrait, is boring. Of course, I do it all the time, since that's how you get the auto-focus to focus on what you want, and not the ugly thing you forgot to avoid in the background.

Hint: if you back up a smidge, take the picture, you can then crop it so that it looks like you took it artistically off-centered!

(Hey, didn't I warn you I don't know much about photography!)

When I actually try to create a composition, it usually comes out looking stilted and ugly. Perhaps that's something I'll work on for the new year! I find it better to let the dogs out, follow them around, and then look for creative shots given what they are already doing.

Shots from way down low, up high, and off the side can create really wonderful pictures. I adore extreme close ups, but that could just be an artifact of my camera, which takes lovely close-ups but rather ordinary mid-to-long range shots.

Content: This is all I used to worry about - do I have a dog in the picture? We're good to go! Content can be either irrelevant or all-important, depending on the rest of the pictures. For a high contrast, black background shot, just about anything can be in the frame and it will be lovely.

For a Tender Moment shot, it can be fuzzy, centered, and lacking both color and contrast and it will still be beautiful to me.

Most pictures fall somewhere in the middle, and perfectly ordinary content can sometimes be greatly improved by good composition/cropping.

And that's about all I know when it comes to Photography!


(Sorry, I know these were all "recycled" photographs - but finding, or worse yet taking, new ones just wasn't possible in the amount of time I have. I did take some nice shots of Henry this weekend, which I'm desperately trying to hold off uploading until Wordless Wednesday!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."  -- Thornton Wilder





Monday, November 22, 2010

Coming of Age

Dog Bog Post #160: With age comes freedoms. This is true whether you have two legs or four - or at least it does in our house.

This weekend marked a milestone for Henry, being the first time we granted unrestricted access to the Living/Dining room, in addition to his usual haunt of the hardwood floored Kitchen/Family Room.

He's certainly been in all rooms in the house before, and has spent considerable time playing with Uncle Zachary in the L/D room. But it's always been a "special case" kind of thing. We'd let him in there for about 30 minutes, keep an eye on things, and then return him to his portion of the house when play was starting to die down.

Puppy bladders, even bladders of very good puppies, just aren't that trustworthy, and my carpet is already in bad enough shape as it is.

But Henry had been an exceptionally good puppy for at least a month. And having reached his four month milestone, I decided it was Time.

The baby-gate was moved from the K/F entryway to the hallway (keeping the back part of the house still off limits) and Henry was free to mingle with Uncle Zachary "full time". I camped out in the Living Room with a good(?) book, Hubby staked out the Family Room TV, and the four-legged boys enjoyed romping as they wished, where they wished.

For about 30 minutes.

At which point they crashed on the Big Sofa with me and took a nap.

At least Uncle Zachary tried to take a nap.

After all, that is what's supposed to happen after a rousing play session with your puppy. You play some bitey-face, some keep away, squeak the puppy a few times, and then retire for a nap on the Big Sofa while the puppy goes... elsewhere.

But not this time.

This time, the puppy didn't go elsewhere. This time he hopped up on the Big Sofa and tried to continue bitey-face. He did some ear tugging, played Jump On Big Dog Belly, chewed on a few paws, stretched out across Uncle Zachary's back and chewed on his flews for a while (ewww?) before Zachary's patience was finally rewarded and the puppy, now either tired or bored, at last gave up and curled up on my lap for a long awaited (at least from Uncle Zachary's point-of-view) nap.

Ah, peace in Happy Valley.

It's been several long months since I've known the peace of having a pair of fur-babies snuggled up with me on the Big Sofa while I read a good(?) book.

As my favorite t-shirts say: Life is Good.

(News flash: You guessed it - I hadn't even hit the send button and Henry leaves a wandering pee-trail across the floor. Yeah, I know. My Bad. I'm guessing he went to the slider (which I can't see from the Living Room) pawed at the door (which I couldn't hear over the TV in the Family Room) and gave up when no one arrived. I will now turn off the TV if no one is going to be in there to hear him!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Upside-Down Play

Dog Blog Post #159: "Silent Sunday" anyone?



( Despite the gleaming-white teeth, it is really hard to look ferocious when you are lying on your back, all four paws in the air, with your fur flapping around like a shag rug in a hurricane.  )

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Teaching Release/Drop

Dog Blog Post #158: This is in reponse to a question posted by lessonsfrom4legs...

Important Note: I've only done this with non-aggressive young puppies who simply want to play for fun. I you are dealing with aggression and/or resource-guarding issues, you should talk to a professional!

I've taught releasing a tug toy two different ways.

The first was to offer something in trade to get the puppy to release what it has. So it's tug-tug-tug, have a cookie! tug-tug, here's a different toy! tug-tug-tug.

You need to make the original thing go "dead" and be boring (but don't let go) as you show off your new offering until the puppy releases what it has. Then you either give them the treat -and- immediately start tugging again, or immediately beginning tugging with the new toy if that's what you offered.

The puppy the learns that releasing not only gets them the new thing (treat/toy) but it also makes the game start up again. Keeping ahold of the old toy is boring and gets them neither play nor the new thing.

While that method worked, what I found was that Beau remained in an excited state the whole time, simply shifting his energy from one rewarding item to another. While that's not necessarily bad, it wasn't quite what I was after - especially with Beau!

My favorite approach, which I switched to with Beau and used with all three puppies after I found I didn't like the one above, is to tug-tug-tug, and then stop dead. Keep ahold of the tug toy with your primary hand, preferably right up near the puppy's muzzle. With your other hand, gently cup the puppy under the chin, gently wrapping your fingers toward their mouth for stability but don't press!


You are not trying to pry the mouth open!

Picture yourself holding a raw egg in one hand on a roller-coaster ride.

And then you simply wait.

Eventually, the puppy will (at least mine did!) decide this is boring, and start to release. Be patient, sometimes it takes a while for them to decide this. Sometimes it takes even longer for them to get their teeth loose!

Once they start to open their mouths, I might shift the toy a little to help get it free, especially if their teeth seem to be stuck. I want to work with my puppy, "Here, let me help you!" and often they really do seem to want to let go and can't quite do it!

As soon as the tug toy is free, return to a wild and fun tug-tug-tug session for a minute or two. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The purpose of the hand under the chin is three-fold. One, it helps steady the puppy so they are less likely to flop around/flip over to try to keep the game going. Two, it seems to help the release part, although I can't exactly say why. Perhaps a calming influence? And three, it turns into the physical cue to open their mouths.

It's important to be totally calm, quiet, and very boring. The instant you feel them start to open (yet another advantage to the hand under the chin) you can quietly praise/give encouragement to let them know they on on the right track!

The first few times took the longest, but after that they quickly caught on.

Very soon (a day or two) I find just putting my hand under their chin is enough to prompt them to release. At that point I add my "Drop" verbal cue.

I like this method better because of the "pause" this inserts into playing. I think it's important for a puppy to learn to calm down when excited, and you can visibly see them doing so as they are releasing the toy.

This is different than the drop and snatch that occurs with the first method, where they are focusing and getting rev-ed up for the new item before they even release the old. With the second method, there is nothing exciting for them to focus on, so their intensity level naturally drops.

Releasing/dropping a tug toy is a critical skill for me, and one of the first taught to my puppies, because of my long hair. It is usually braided and reaches my waist, creating a natural and quite irresistible tug toy.

This makes me highly motivated to teach this skill, and gives me plenty of opportunities to do so!

This also brings me very close to the puppy (ie: his face is usually inches from mine as he's clutching my braid) which is another reason why having one hand near the muzzle holding my braid (between his jaws and my face) and the other under his chin (to discourage flopping/rolling) are important to me. It's also why calming things down is so important!

As always, your mileage may vary, every puppy is different, different breeds behave in different ways, don't try it if it seems like a bad idea in your situation, etc. etc. etc...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Upside-Down Play

Dog Blog Post #155: How you play with someone 1/3 your size?

It seems “on your back” is the answer my older boys come up with when dealing with the puppies in their lives.

Uncle Beau instigated play with Zachary by flopping over on his back and writhing around like an upside-down snake. He started this when Zachary was an itty-bitty puppy and he just never outgrew the behavior.

I don’t know whether he figured, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or if it never occurred to him that Zachary was actually an adult! I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as it had the desired effect: Zachary would come running, jump on top and a friendly game of bitey-face would commence.

Fast-forward to Zachary and Henry, and I see the exact same behavior. Now it’s Uncle Zachary writhing around on his back, and young Henry on the offense.

The cutest moments, for me, are when both end up on their backs, wiggling around with all four paws in the air. This seems to happen either at the start of play (if both are still sleepy) or at the end (when both are tired.)

Henry growls, barks, and snaps at the air while Uncle Zachary just opens his mouth wide and shows off his shiny-white teeth. Their paws are limp, their tails are relaxed, and their eyes are soft and squinty. It’s obvious this is something they both enjoy, even though the attraction is lost on me.

So it was tonight, as I was making dinner.

Of course, they have to draw me into the game, mostly by playing right underneath me so I am constantly stepping over some body part or another. Tonight, realizing my efforts to reach the stove were being neatly thwarted, I grabbed my camera and banged off a few shots.

You can even see where Henry has lost a tooth in the square photo (cropped and blown up from one of the pictures above!)

(Aside: I uploaded  Henry's latest video tonight, showing his progress learning "Show Dog Stand"!)

Calm

Dog Blog Post #154: This weekend was our the last trip to the indoor sports place - at least until the next round of Lacrosse starts up in a few weeks. Henry has been going there 3 times a week since the day after we brought him home (at 8 weeks old) and from the start he has been totally oblivious to the noise and commotion that goes on there.

(His temperament test wasn't kidding when it gave him the lowest ranking on noise sensitivity!)

For whatever reason, it turned out to be a total zoo in there. I'm guessing the girls soccer game on the middle field was running long, as not only were there tons of screaming kids and parents there, but there was a whole other set of screaming girls and parents milling about smartly in the open space between the fields.

Meanwhile, our attention was on the Lacrosse game that was going into overtime (with yet more kids and screaming parents) with, of course, a whole other set of kids and parents (ourselves included) waiting for our game to start.

The result of all this was pretty much total chaos.

Kids were running around everywhere, balls were ricocheting everywhere, adults where standing around everywhere, and through it all, my little Sit-n-Stare just sat and stared.

At me.

It was an amazing display of Focus and concentration. (Yes, it was blatant "Romancing the Cookie", but I don't care. It was still amazing.)

Henry met gobs of people. Adults (young and old), kids (big and small) and one toddler  

(Note to parents: don't be stupid and let your toddler play with a puppy! Yes, Henry was a perfect gentleman. Even cleaned the baby's hands for her :) but it's still a stupid thing for a parent to allow. And yes, the parent was right there and was clueless, despite my best efforts to tell her it was a bad idea.)

I have to wonder about some of those kids, though. I had things like:

Me: Please don't pull puppy's tail, he doesn't like that.
Tail Puller (still pulling): When I pull my doggies tail she bites me.
Me: You wouldn't like it if you had a tail and someone pulled it, would you?
Tail Puller (still pulling): Nooooo. (tug tug tug)

Arg! (I took Henry elsewhere at that point!)

Me: I don't think puppy wants a cone placed on his head.
Cone Carrier: staring at me blankly, continuing to try to put heavy orange one on Henry's head.
Henry: Lowering head but otherwise ignoring Cone Carrier

Arg! (Henry and I moved on yet again)

That said, most kids were very gentle, and Henry was a doll. Having been to the day-spa the day before, he was a plush as a new toy, super sweet, and oh-so-very calm.

Really calm.

Calm when his ears were ruffled, calm when he was hugged, calm when 5 kids surrounded him all petting at once.

I hope he enjoyed it. He seemed to. He doesn't get all spun up like my other puppies did, at least not with kids.

He seems to like adults better, but that could just be a height thing. Kids are at his level so he can just sit there and soak it up. With adults, he stands and stares up at them, and will give them kisses if they bend down within range.

Will this extremely good behavior last? I have no idea. I sure hope so, but as I've never had a puppy this calm before, I have no idea!

That night, totally exhausted, he crashed on the sofa on his new soft blankie.

Awwww....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Puppy Class #4

Dog Blog Post #153: Focused.

If I could sum up this class in one word, that would be it. My little man was seriously Focused.

And yes, it was on me!

(As I am all too well aware that this will come crashing to a halt in a few short weeks when his hormones kick in, please excuse me while I take a moment to enjoy it... (insert Moment Of Bliss here)... sigh)

OK, where was I?

Oh yes, Focused. Henry showed almost complete mastery of Focus in puppy class tonight. He was Focused as puppies showed up. He was Focused as Wendy was talking. He was Focused when the friendly dog next to us decided she wanted to play. He was even Focused when we were were working on focus!

(Don't laugh, I've actually had that happen before.)

I have no idea of he still finds Wendy's assistant unnerving, as he was so busy doing Sit-n-Stare that he barely noticed her.

I finally tossed a treat bag a few feet away to try to break Focus, so I could then reward the reacquisition of Focus... and it worked... for a moment or two... but then he decided we were playing Zen and picked up where he had left off.

Focused.

(I supposed if you've never had a dog incapable of focusing then this post will make no sense at all. Be thankful!)

We did work on other things, like Sits and Downs (his Down is still terrible), and Come (he was brilliant!) and Stay (he's fine so long as I don't turn my back on him. I think that breaks Sit-n-Stare and he tries to come around to find my eyes again.)

We played Pass The Puppy - where we got to spend a moment with everyone else's puppy. Alas, I have no idea how Henry behaved for others, which is probably a sign that nothing horrible was going on,

Puppy play time was short, but fun. Just two groups, and Henry was in the braver of the two. He seemed fine, neither a bully nor a coward, not starving for play but not avoiding it either.

Hmmm... I guess that's just about it.

Did I mention that he was Focused?

(I love Sit-n-Stare!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out and About

Dog Blog Post #152: I took Henry to one of my favorite Big Box Hardware Stores this weekend. It was his first trip to such a place and his first excursion in a shopping cart and...

He was wonderful!

Not only that, but I’m pretty certain he had a wonderful time.

The shopping cart was a bit worrisome at first. I put one of his mats on the bottom, to make it both more familiar and more comfortable, but he still wasn’t sure it was a good idea for the ground to be moving quite like that. He let me know by trying to crawl up shoulder.

(Good thing he isn't a cat or I'd have some great scars to go with this story!)

Deciding I needed a different approach, I moved to the front of the cart (figuring it better to face our fears than run from them) and turned into a human PEZ dispenser as I slowly pulled the cart along beside me and shoveled cookies into his mouth.

Worked like a charm.

Within minutes he was sitting solid and proud, leaning into the wind, looking like old pro as he watched the world roll by with calm curiosity.

And then the people showed up. Lots of people. Lots of puppy-loving people. People who cooed and petted, and petted and cooed, and talked about their dogs, and even showed them off on their iPhones (one even took pictures of Henry with his phone!) and through it all he sat there very calmly and majestically, soaking up the affection of his adoring fans.

Somewhere along the way, he realized that not only was he closer to people when in the shopping cart, but he could stand, sit, turn around, and even lie down!

All the while, the cookies flowed, he wasn’t being carried like a sack of potatoes, and his adoring fans continued to stream by.

Yup, Henry had a wonderful time.

He got lots of complements on how polite he was, how calm he was, and how soft he was (not that he really had a lot of control over that last one!)

The grand finale was when we left and had to run the blockade of Girl Scouts selling nuts. Oh, were they excited. Nothing like a puppy to bring the squeals out of a Giggle of Girls.

(FWIW: Puppies are a great way to distract Girl Scouts selling things. They, and their leaders, totally forgot they were supposed to be trying to sell me something. Of course, having been a Girl Scout myself, and remember clearly how much I hated selling anything, I bought a can anyway. Butter Toffee Peanuts. Yum!)

Sadly, with him weighing in at 23lb this past Friday, his days of being carried are fast coming to an end. Even his shopping cart days are limited to a few short weeks until he gets big enough to jump out or so heavy that I can’t lift him.

Still, it was a great socialization trip and one I hope to repeat many more times!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Puppy Shots

Dog Blog Post #150: It seems a shame to "waste" a rather significant posting milestone like Number 150 on something as mundane as going to the vet for shots, but there it is. If I waited for something interesting and exciting to happen before posting you might never hear from me again.

(OK... whoever muttered, "And the downside of that would be?" is about to kicked off the bus!)

Yes, today was Puppy Shot day. At 14 weeks old, this was Henry's third round of shots and his second official visit to the vets. You may recall that his first visit involved a metal gate, some lubricant, and five sets of able hands.

Even if I didn't recall that day (and I most definitely do!) I would be reminded of it as soon as I walk into the vet's office.

"Hi, Henry!", says the cheery receptionist as soon as we walk in. Since she has our appointment on her computer and his chart on her desk, her familiar greeting is not unexpected.

Then it starts.

"Henry?" asks the vet tech, poking her head around the corner. "Is that the puppy that had his head stuck in the gate?"

"Yup!", answers another tech, "hasn't he grown?"

"Awww, I wasn't there there day," bemoans a third, obviously feeling she missed out on something not-to-be-missed.

Someone else comments on how much better he looks without the head gear, and I hear how much it made everyones day to be able to free him.

(It certainly made my day to see him free, and in one piece!)

Ah memories...

As for the rest of visit, Henry is just fine. His baby teeth are starting to fall out, his weight is up to 23 lb, his temperature is normal, and he has a lovely temperament (so they tell me)...

... even when his head is stuck in baby gate.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Puppy Class #3

Dog Blog Post #149: Puppy class is half over, and with each passing week you can see the puppies blossom and grow (literally!)

Today we touched on Sits and Down again – and Henry is still much better at the former than the latter. The biggest issue with down is that my hands smell like yummy hot dogs and he’s spending more time sniffing than downing. When I get some distance from him, he actually performs much better!

I threw some "Stands" in there as well, and he gave me rock-solid stand-n-stares pretty much every time I asked.

We played “Go to Mat” – something Henry knows how to do with his mat, but got a chance to generalize a bit with a different mat. It was fun to see the gears turning in his little head as he put two and two together, and got all four paws on Wendy’s mat. After just a few minutes I was having a hard time getting him off the mat.

Next, it was time to work on Come. We started easy, keeping the puppies on leash and wandering around with them until they got distracted with something so we had a chance to call them. Great plan, except that little Sit-n-Stare didn’t seem to want to let me out of his sight. I ended up having to use other puppies as distractions, but even when all the way at the end of his (admittedly short) leash, he would whip around and return when I call.

Yeah, Henry!

And then for something completely different, Wendy brought out some things for puppies to walk on, over, up and down. There was an agility table, a wobbly plank, a large metal crate pan, a funky PVC contraption that looked kind of like a little ladder on its side… with feet, a large squishy exercise ball that mostly flat, and an A-frame.

Whew!

He was a bit worried going down the A-frame… the first time… but had barely touched ground when he desperately wanted to “do it again!” Alas, not meant to be. Perhaps next week. He didn’t care for the squishy ball at all at first, but with carefully application of cookies he decided maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. In the end, it was definitely his least favorite activity. The least intimidating was the crate pan, by far. He has plastic at home, but the fact this is metal didn't phase him at all.

Somewhere in there Puppy Playtime occurred. This time he was turned out with the shy puppies, and while he was definitely the life of the party, I don’t think he was too lively (the shelties grandma might beg to differ!)

So - I guess I'd have to give him... what... 4.8 stars out of five? Had he nailed his downs he would have gotten a 5. Hopefully next week. The teenage months are just around the corner and it will probably be many months before he's this good again!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween

Dog Blog Post #148: Sunday night I reaffirmed my belief that most people are simply not afraid of a pale, fluffy, floppy-eared dog - even if he is barking like he's going to eviscerate you.

Big kids, little kids, adults... as soon as we opened the door and they saw who was making the racket, they all said "Awwww... what a cute dog!"

I guess that's why Dobermans and Rottweilers are usually short-haired and black.

(In everyone's defense, Zachary does put on his Friendly Face and turns his waggedy tail to full once the door opens.)

Anyway, the night was mostly uneventful. Kids came, knocked on the door, Zachary let fly a barrage of barking, we opened the door, Zachary wagged his tail, candy was distributed, and the door closed.

Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Mostly?

Well, let's see. I guess I have to back up a few steps.

First, the layout. We have a front door (no, really, what a concept!) and a modest but open entry area with the Living Room on one side and the hallway leading to the back part of the house on the other. A dozen feet or so into the house, directly in line with the front door, is a broad opening leading to the large Kitchen/Family room.

We decided to have Henry the Brave cordoned off in the Kitchen/Family Room behind a wide baby gate. That part of the house has the hardwood floors, and while Henry does ask to go out, the time between asking and peeing is measured in tens of seconds, and so we like to keep him close to the backyard without any extra barriers in between.

We also decided to separate Henry and Zachary to avoid having to supervise playtime as well as man the front door for Trick-or-Treaters. This meant an ex-pen zig-zagging between the entry and the baby-gate, allowing Zachary to see the front door, Henry (in the Family room), and still have access to the back part of the house.

To keep Zachary's barking to a manageable level, I took a bunch of small cookies, broke them into even smaller bits, and set them beside the bucket of Halloween candy, which was sitting on an end table by the front door.

A knock at the door would set off Gatling Gun Zachary, I would slip between the leather chair and the end table to get to the door (since the ex-pen was blocking the usual path) toss a cookie to Zachary to shut him up, then open the door and hand out candy.

This was working great until Son (who had been in the kitchen with Henry up until this point) decided to vamoose to the back part of the house.

Now my son is nearly 6' tall. I am barely 5' 5" (on a really good day.) I had stepped over ex-pen and baby-gate numerous times. Son had stepped over ex-pen and baby-gate numerous times.

But Halloween night, as Bull-in-a-China-Shop Son swung his long(?) leg over the baby-gate, he managed to catch his heel and send the whole thing crashing to the ground. This scared the bejeebers out of Zachary, who leaped backwards and promptly flatted the ex-pen, scaring the bejeebers out of himself (yet again), but not so much that he couldn't take advange of the situtation to bolt to the front door and begin hoovering up all those pre-broken cookies I had sitting on the table.

What's that quote we keep hearing?


"Never let a serious crisis go to waste?"

Right.

And there's my Son, standing in the middle of it all say, "What do I do? What do I do?"

As I was mentally crossing Rocket Science off my list of potential careers for him, Son started grabbing at Zachary (who wasn't wearing a collar, of course - our dogs run "naked" in the house) trying to get him away from the cookies.

Like that was going to happen.

The only thing heavier than a 10lb cat who doesn't want to be picked up is a 70lb dog-on-a-diet with unrestricted access to a pile of cookies.

Meanwhile, as Hubby yelling to Son to get the ex-pen back up again since Treat-or-Treaters were coming fast and furious at that point (in packs... in waves!) and Henry was going on a frolic through the rest of house, I was frantically trying to get the baby-gate back up.

Whew!

All's well, that ends well, I suppose. Other than Zachary blowing his diet in 20 seconds flat, we were able to get everything back together again before anyone else knocked on the door, and the rest of the evening was (thankfully) uneventful.

Just think, only 363 days left until the next Halloween.

I can hardly wait.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Puppy Class #2

Dog Blog Post #147: Yes, I'm late posting this, but I just haven't had much "quality time" with the computer. Henry is awake a whole lot more yet not trustworthy enough to alone for more than a few minutes. While he does ask to go out, you still have a pretty narrow span of time before he gives up (or his bladder gives out) and he tinkles in front of the slider.

So - class. Henry's actually been doing pretty well in class, which means it's time for the wheels to fall off.

So far we've worked on Sits and Downs - the former being trivial, and the latter, while not a thing of beauty, wasn't too bad once he "warmed up".

Once again I was sitting in chair with Henry (now 13 weeks old) on leash. Once again, puppies on either side, and once again, yo-yo dog started to range to the end of the short leash, turning immediately when he reached the end expecting click and cookie.

Since Wendy puts out a nice mat in front of each chair so dogs don't have to sit on prickly tan-bark, I thought I'd try to teach Henry the Stay-On-Mat game. If "played" correctly, he would then never even hit the end of his 4' leash.

This meant that when he turned around I didn't click until his paws were back on the mat. I wish I had thought of it earlier in the class time, as just when I think he was getting the idea, the class was over.

Still, I think we're on to something here, and barring Brain Fade, I'm going to give it a try again next week. I'm also going to add clicking if he stops (or at least hesitates) near the end of the mat.

He was much more comfortable during puppy play time, zooming here and there either chasing or being chased. He didn't seem to take offense to anything, didn't seem to offend anyone, and even checked in occasionally.

He's still cautious of Wendy's assistant. There appears to be no reason for it, and I can't seem to reproduce it anywhere else, with anyone else.

Weirdness.

As it's about time for Wendy to start working on Come (uh-oh) so should be a lot more to talk about after this week's class (thinking about those afore mentioned wheels?)

I'm also hoping Wendy starts doing Visit Other People's Puppies to see if Worried Puppy appears again - although he was more than happy to greet the Observer (no, I have no idea what she was Observing) as I was leaving, so...

Again, I can't attribute it to anything other than weirdness at this point, and hope it's a singular incident!