Thursday, December 2

First Snow!!

Dax: (while pawing at my arm while I work) Mooooooooooooooooom, I wanna go outside! Outside! Outside! Outside! Now! Wanna go outside Now! Now! Now! Now! Mooooooooooooooooooooooooom NOW! Outside! Mom Mom Mom Momma Mommy Mom Mother Mum Mummy Mooooooooooooooooooooooom PLZ!!!!

Me: OMG!!!! OK!!!!!!!!

(lets dog out)

Dax: What, you're not coming too? Let me in!!

Me: GAH!!!!!

(repeat scene fifteen million times)

Saturday, November 27

Dax... unleashed!

Today was Dax's beginning agility class.

Today, he performed obstacles off leash.

Today, I had to trust a dog that I've only had for a little under 4 months.

He actually wasn't bad at all. He's fairly obedient, and since he is very people-shy, the fact that every dog had a person beside it helped tremendously, I'm sure. I just called him whenever he ran off (which was only a few times, and not very far) and he came back and sat like a good boy. :) I was pretty proud of him, because I expected much worse!

The dog walk was an interesting experience - I've never run him off-leash over it before, and I do control him a bit better with a leash ON since he thinks the dog walk is a race. Switching from physical control to voice control is always an issue with me. :) Especially when you don't fully trust your dog yet!

We had much more serious issues, like how Dax loves to jump up and bite me in-between obstacles. Or how he'll go on and perform obstacles without me.

I actually think part of his biting issue is that I'm not keeping him occupied enough. What I mean by that, is I'm slow. I'm chunky, short, and I am not a marathon runner. I have a slow amble that doesn't sit well with cattle dog darting. So as I catch up to him, he turns around, and he jumps up, grabs my shoulder, my sleeve, whatever, and then I have to stop, regain control, and continue on. Now, if I set up a series of jumps fairly close together, so he's continually busy, I don't have that problem. Until the end anyway.

Unfortunately, however, I will never be as fast as Dax. So in the meantime, when he bites, I stop, until he controls himself, and then we continue on. The fun stops when the biting begins, fun resumes when it ends.

Every day I am irritated at his ex-owner for not teaching him bite inhibition. I love Dax to pieces, but my next cattle dog WILL be an 8 or 9 week old puppy so I can stamp these issues out from the get-go, because they're almost impossible to get rid of in an older dog.

Thursday, November 25

Menagerie Mayhem Black Friday Blowouts!

Our Zazzle store is having a HUGE Black Friday sale that you won't want to miss! Now's the time to stock up on your doggie Christmas Cards, dog lover apparel, and other great pet gifts!

Note that the times are in PT!
Time Deal
12:01 AM Half Off All Mugs
2:01 AM $10 Off All Avery Binders
4:01 AM 75% Off Harry Potter T-Shirts
6:01 AM 70% Off Holiday Cards and Invites
8:01 AM 50% Off Ornaments
10:01 AM $20 Off iPhone & iPad Cases
12:01 PM 75% Off Business Cards
2:01 PM 65% Off All Posters
4:01 PM $8.80 Off $0.44 Postage Sheets
6:01 PM Half Off All T-Shirts
8:01 PM* Friday's Favorite Deal Repeat
10:01 PM* Friday's Favorite Deal Repeat

Friday's Favorite Deal will be a repeat of the two most popular deals of the day!

Remember, this is only good at our Zazzle store!

Thursday, November 4

School Spirit - And the Consequences

We got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit - oh crap, run before we get suspended!

It's amusing, yes, but recently happened to a high school student.

One high school in Massachusetts recently suspended a student for riding a horse to school.

I would love to say there's more to the story, but really, there's not much. The school was having a "spirit week," and each day was a new thing to get the kids revved up about high school. One day, they encouraged everyone to dress like a knight. Now, who's a knight without a noble steed?

One kid got permission from (and was accompanied by) his parents to ride to school, dressed as a knight, on his family's horse. After an impressive entrance, the principal suspended him on the spot. Why? Because according to this deluded educator (this guy is teaching our children, mind you), riding a horse to school is the equivalent of bringing a loaded gun into a classroom.

I'm sorry. It's not. You are massively mistaken. I'm not aware of anyone stuffing a horse in a backpack, pulling it out in homeroom, and massacring all his fellow students. Please, if I've made an error there, and someone has snuck a horse into school and performed a mass homicide, let me know. I actually think this would be offensive to anyone who has been victim to a gun in the classroom, and I feel the guy ought to apologize for his stupidity.

There are, I have been informed, still many places in the US where kids can legally ride their horse to school, particularly in rural areas. Not one of those children have been suspended for going to school.  Nor has anyone found a rule that says this teenager is NOT allowed to ride a horse to school. It appears his parents were going to take the horse back home after he arrived, so it's not even an issue of a horse hanging around all day at school.

So apparently, students, you should not go "above and beyond" in anything at school, particularly school pride, because you may end up on the wrong side of the horse.

Parents can breathe a deep sigh of relief, even though we are suffering through falling test scores, incompetent teachers, and  increased use of drugs, our schools are being kept horse-free. Isn't that a comfort?

Tuesday, November 2

Blossom Goes Raw

Blossom is my dalmatian/border collie mix. When I adopted her nearly eight years ago (she is now almost 15 years old), I took her to the vet several times because I couldn't put weight on her. She was perpetually skinny. After numerous tests and exams, the vet told me that she'd never be a chubby dog. The mix of two hyper dog breeds had made her a nervous, picky, energetic dog who would always be thin.

Two or so times a year, however, she'll go through a period of time where she doesn't want to eat. Anything. I'm one of those people who tell customers that they just need to wait it out - eventually the dog will eat, because they won't let themselves starve to death. Blossom would. When this happened the first time, I served her the same bowl of kibble for four days - and she didn't eat a single piece. She got nothing else at all - she simple refused food. On the fifth day, I caved in and gave her canned food, which she daintily lapped up.

Since that time, when we have these periods, I'll go out and buy her whatever she'll eat - which usually means going down in quality. Blossom tends to prefer the most disgusting, crappiest dog foods on the market, and as a rule, in canned form. I cringe when I feed her this disgusting smelling crap that I wouldn't even give to a stray dog. This will continue until she's no longer interested in the junk, and I switch her back to what everybody else eats.

This time, however, Blossom wasn't very interested in horrible food either. She'd pick out a piece or two, and leave 9/10ths of the bowl behind. All the weight I painstakingly put on her melted off, until her hips stuck out. She'd never been this scrawny. It was time for action.

One of my agility instructors feeds a raw diet called Honest Kitchen. It's human grade, and weirdly, it's dehydrated. I figured I'd give that a shot - I could just mix it in with her kibble like canned food, and since it was such a high quality, maybe she'd like it. I ordered two different kinds, and when they arrived, I mixed her a large bowl and happily set it in front of her. She looked at it, and she looked at me. She poked it with her nose. Blossom let out a huge, exasperated sigh, and left the kitchen. And that was the end of Honest Kitchen. She did eat a mouthful of the other flavor I prepared later, then kicked her food bowl as she marched away. Clearly, this food wouldn't cut it.

I then got the brilliant idea of feeding her raw. I'm not too terribly into raw foods, for one, because with six dogs, I'd have to get another full-time job to pay for it, and for two, I would be absolutely terrified of forgetting some key vitamin or something that the dogs would need for good health. However, Nature's Variety makes a frozen raw food so that you don't have to remember anything. Defrost, serve, you're done. It is, however, insanely expensive. I calculated that for the weight I would LIKE Blossom to be, she'd need to eat around 8oz a day of the raw diet. That would cost roughly $64 a month. While I do buy premium dog food for my dogs, all six of them together can live on their kibble for that same price. That's quite a cost issue.

I bought her the food, defrosted it, and decided to use a few less patties and stick them over top of a small amount of kibble, hoping she might eat the kibble so I could at least save a few dollars by not going totally raw. Normally you would want to slowly switch a dog over to raw, but when your dog isn't eating ANYTHING, you don't have much of a choice.

Blossom had that meat gulped down before I had gotten more patties out to defrost for the next meal.

Today, a few days after starting, she actually licked her bowl completely out. I can't recall the last time that has happened. She is eating the kibble (I put 1/2 cup in with each meal, and 3 medallion patties) without a problem. I really don't want to stop feeding the kibble, I want her crunching up stuff as long as she has teeth. I do squash it around a bit so the raw stuff touches all the kibble.

It's too early to see many benefits of a raw diet, but then, I didn't switch for any of those reasons. I just wanted my dog to eat. And if she wouldn't eat raw meat, I had very little hope that she'd eat anything else, either. I will say that she made the switch without any digestive problems, amazingly, and her poop is now roughly the size of rabbit pellets, which is fairly impressive. It would be nice if she gets better smelling breath.

So hopefully she'll start putting on some weight, and stop looking like Skeletor. It's pricey, for sure, but if she'll eat it, and KEEP eating it, it's worth it.

Monday, November 1

Roofus + Rally = Success!!

Day 1 Success!
   Roofus, my Old English Sheepdog, had an APDT Rally Obedience trial this past weekend. It was the second time he has trialed, and after the disastrous first one, I was pretty nervous. I'm an extremely competitive person, and when it comes to dog sports, it takes a tremendous effort on my part to stop, realize that the whole point is to have FUN, and shake off setbacks. At first, my goal for the weekend was to get one Q (or qualifying score), but after some serious thinking, I decided a more reasonable goal was to have at least ONE run (he was signed up for four) where I did not haul out the treats and NQ.

   It's not that Roofus doesn't know the signs, or that I get nervous and he doesn't listen - it's that Roofus is new to the world of trialing (he does not do agility or anything like my other dogs), and that he's an Old English Sheepdog. Roofus does rally to please me, not because of any personal desire to be a particularly obedient dog. There are a lot of new sights, sounds, and people at trials, and Roofus does not yet have that "ring mentality" where he focuses on Mom instead of wanting to go check out everything.

Our first run, well, I was having a tough time getting his attention even outside the ring, with chunks of hot dog. When it was our turn, he discovered that one of the ring crew, right outside the gate, had a breakfast sandwich. It took a long time for me to get him at the start line, sitting, and ready to go. Amazingly, we walked out of the ring with a 187 - which is a Q - and a 3rd place. The second run of the day went similarly - except I felt I had his attention more. We again scored a 187 and grabbed 3rd place. Roofus had already doubled my expectations for the weekend. One more Q and he'd have his level 1 title - but was I being unrealistic to hope that we could get it tomorrow? Was I jinxing myself to dare to hope? I decided a more reasonable goal was to simply break the 200 score barrier.

Apparently not. The first run on Sunday, Roofus marched into that ring like a pro. He was extremely attentive, to the point that I became a bit unnerved by his focus. It was a beautiful run, though, and my handsome boy walked out with a 201, second place, and his level 1 title - RL1. I actually jumped up and down with joy, the judge snickering at me. I didn't care. MY Roofus, the one everyone calls slow, dumb, unable to learn (I unfortunately sometimes fall into the habit as well) - he had just achieved what none of my other dogs have - his first rally title.

After that run, it became clear that Roofus wasn't amused at being crated any more, and he would much rather go home. He had only one more run, and the trial was moving pretty quickly, so we waited out for his first level 1B run.

It wasn't pretty. Roofus's attention was gone. There was no focus. Every once in a while he paid attention to me, but boy, was it dirty! He eeked out a 185, ironically having our lowest and highest score on the same day.

And so our Rally Obedience weekend ended - Roofus had a perfect weekend, going 4/4, and far exceeding my expectations with his performances. While I dare to dream what may happen at the next trial, I have made up new goals for him: I want to score consistently in the 190s, and I want to get his RLX title. Roofus, of course, doesn't care - as long as he is provided with plenty of hot dogs and bear hugs.

Thursday, October 28

Roofus Goes to Jail

Last night, I took Roofus, my Old English Sheepdog, to jail. But not because he was bad.

Roofus is part of a new program called BARK - Books And Reading for Kids. The program sends dogs and their handlers to a local juvenile detention facility, where the kids (usually teens) read to the dogs. The goal is to promote literacy and confidence in the kids, and as we all know, doggie therapy is also extremely beneficial.

Last night was the first night of the program, so we had a lot of "get to know you" time. I had actually wanted to make Roofus a therapy dog, because he has the most wonderful temperament, as well as being extremely fluffy, cute, goofy, and extremely eager to love everyone. Unfortunately for him, he is a little overenthusiastic about sharing his affection, so comforting the sick or physically injured is something I decided it would be best to put on hold. However, showing these kids that he loves them regardless of where they come from or what they might have done is right up his alley.

He was amazing. Roofus does have a leash aggression problem, but he did not bark at a single dog all night. He even met his old friend Magnum, a yorkie, whom he has not seen in quite a while, and was a perfect gentleman. Two shelties came within biting distance, and while he was interested in them, he said not a word, nor showed any signs of displeasure at their closeness.

When we got our first kid, as soon as she sat down, Roofus climbed onto her lap and washed her face for her. That was pretty much the trend for the evening. At one point, he had several girls hanging on him - bear hugging him, scratching him, squeezing him - he looked up at me, absolutely ecstatic, like his most wild dreams had finally come true. No one was allowed to walk by Roofus without giving him a scratch or a pat. He simply didn't allow it. The one thing this dog has in scores is love - and he made sure everybody got some. Everyone laughed at the gigantic "lap dog" - but who wouldn't want a giant, living teddy bear smothering you with adoration?

The night was over much too soon for Roofus. You could tell he was walking on cloud 9 as we returned to our car. I thought that all that love and attention might have worn him out, but he sat in the back seat all the way home with the silliest grin on his face.

Saturday, October 23

Dax Goes Hiking

Are we there yet??!
Today I decided to try out a trail someone recommended to me, with Dax, my pint-sized Australian Cattle Dog. I wanted to also try out Merlin's pack on him, in a rather feeble attempt to tire him out, as well as give him a "job" to do while we walked. He's not quite 13 months, and the pack doesn't hold much, so all he carried was one liter of water.

Dax loves walking of any kind, so I knew that no matter what the day would be a success. We drove to Darby Creek Metro Park. I didn't have a map, of the park, so we walked around it at first just finding out where all the trails were. For some odd reason, every single trail said "No Pets." Oooooooookay. I knew there was a pet trail somewhere, so we kept walking. And kept walking. After almost a mile, we found it. And I don't think it can legitimately be called a trail. It's a path. A gravel path. About 10 feet wide. In its defense, it is over four miles long. Unfortunately for us, I realized about 1/3 of the way in that I forgot to wear my walking shoes, and I that I drank way too much water with lunch.

We did end up doing three and a half miles in all. Dax did go into a "working mode," where he was quite obedient (not that he isn't always), kept his ears pointing back at me (normally he does not - so he's finally paying attention to me!!), and did exceptionally well at a totally new place without a "comfort dog" of any kind. He did bark at one set of strangers, avoided some others, but the majority of them, he'd wait until they walked by, then run up behind them and sniff their shoes. Then come back to me and expect a treat.

Dax's tiredness usually only lasts 10-15 minutes.
What I especially love about his backpack is that I don't see how he could squirm out of it. He can get out of his collar without batting an eye, and a harness with barely any effort. The pack fastens a bit more securely, so I imagine it would take much more to squiggle free. The only time he tries to escape is when he sees other dogs. Being a bit more proactive than normal, when he would start his "frenzy fest" when he saw a dog, I would grab the handle of the pack (ironically, placed there so you can easily help the dog up the trail), and if he started trying to slip free, I'd raise him off the ground slightly. Now, I'm positive that does nothing for his doggie body language. But it keeps him safe and secure, because he can't even try to get out of it if his legs aren't touching the ground. :)

Another interesting thing of note is that he apparently wears a smaller size than my corgi. I had to tighten everything to its smallest, and the chest was still too large for him.

Thursday, October 21

Chlamydia and other Zoonotic Parrot Diseases

Some of us may remember a few years ago with PetSmart birds suffered an outbreak of Chlamydiosis. One of the more alarming pieces of information about this disease is that it is zoonotic, which means it can be transferred from animals to humans or humans to animals. The elderly, and the very young (infants, toddlers) are most susceptible, and therefore it is extremely important to have your bird(s) tested before they are brought home. A responsible bird breeder should already have done the test. before you purchased the parrot. Even scarier, birds may not show symptoms of the disease themselves, but simply be carriers - giving the illusion of a perfectly healthy bird that can infect people. Chlamydiosis may also be referred to as Psittacosis, or parrot fever.

This particular disease is shared in any number of ways - with dusty birds like Cockatiels and Cockatoos, most humans inhale the particles from feather dust. The symptoms in humans are similar to that of the flu. It can be treated for both parrots and humans with a trip to the doctor or avian vet, but prevention is the best policy. Have all new stock tested and quarantined (we recommend at least 45 days) before adding to the aviary. Keep cages clean, keep an appropriate ratio of bird to cage space, feed a healthy diet, and see your avian veterinarian regularly, especially for breeding birds. The incubation period in birds for Chlamydiosis can be years, so simply quarantining a bird is not an adequate step by itself.

Another zoonotic disease parrots have is Salmonella. It's much more common to obtain Salmonella from eating an infected bird than from your personal pet bird, but there is still a risk, so it's worth mentioning. And it's not an unusual disease in pet parrots like you might think. Salmonella is treated with antibiotics, and can be difficult to diagnose in parrots, because you won't find it in every dropping. That just reiterates the idea that you need to regularly see the avian veterinarian, to establish baseline readings and to keep checking for diseases that may not show up the first time. Birds can and do die from Salmonella, and symptoms are similar to a human's, with diarrhea (bloody or not), vomiting, lethargy - pretty much like food poisoning.

One zoonosis I've had experience with is Colibacillosis, or E. coli. People tend to get themselves worked up about E. coli, but E. coli is found in the intestinal tract of animals. Including humans. It's completely natural. The problems begin when you have an overabundance or an infection of E. coli. Symptoms in birds and people generally start with diarrhea. Of the diseases I've listed, this one is probably the most common, and frequently overlooked as so many bird breeders don't properly check their stock.

Other zoonotic parrot disease of note include:
  • Avian Tuberculosis
  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Newcastle Disease
Most of these diseases are easier to simply prevent in the first place - checking all new stock, quarantine, routine vet visits, sanitary conditions, and avoiding overcrowding are all key in prevention. Unfortunately, mass breeders, backyard breeders, and on more than one occasion, pet stores, are unlikely to responsibly test their birds for overall health, let alone specific diseases, particularly in the case of "low cost" birds like budgerigars, cockatiels, lovebirds and canaries. It is therefore the smartest course of action, whenever bringing any new pet home, to have it thoroughly examined by a proper veterinarian, which in the case of birds, is a certified avian vet.

Wednesday, October 20

Gone Hiking!

This past weekend, my husband and I took our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Merlin, and our Old English Sheepdog, Roofus, to Hocking Hills to do some hiking. We've never really taken the dogs hiking before, but we were excited to find a pet-friendly cabin (Good Earth Cabins) and happily spent three days exploring various caves, cliffs, and woods.

I was truly surprised by our corgi. I've always said that they can do anything big dogs can do - but Merlin went above and beyond that. There were plenty of spots where my own short legs had trouble, and as I turned around to tell my husband to grab the corgi by his handle (he wears a backpack like any respectable hiker), there would be a blur of red as Merlin ran past me and on up the trail.

In fact, because Merlin does agility regularly, and Roofus's sport is rally, he was much better suited to all the jumping and strenuous conditions than Roofus. That's not to say Roofus had any trouble - but Roofus was much more tired each day (and is still sleeping soundly, as a matter of fact), than the corgi was. And I would say that Roofus has a higher stamina for exercise than Merlin. That just goes to show how much an active dog sport like agility can condition your dog for activities like hiking. Roofus is no slouch in the exercise department - but being a giant breed dog, I do not do much jumping or climbing with him. However, I believe that some light agility-type of exercise would probably benefit most dogs (always check with your vet first), especially if they do a lot of hiking. The trick is to determine how much is the "right amount," so you don't overdo it, particularly with giant breeds and dwarf breeds.

Tuesday, October 19

Pet Ownership versus Pet Ownership

Today, I wanted to blog about the different types of pet ownership, and how some folks hide behind this idea to try to cover up irresponsible pet ownership.

I am the type of pet owner who takes their birds to the vet. I don't see that as super responsible, I see that as the bare minimum of owning a bird. See, birds naturally hide illnesses, often until it's too late to do anything about it, because they have evolved to hide their illnesses to avoid being picked off by predators. So, it just makes natural sense to take a bird to the vet regularly, particularly if it's a brand new bird. Head off problems before they start, ya know?

Unfortunately, then there are people who don't take their birds to the vet. The little birds are fairly inexpensive, and avian vets are pretty darned expensive. I'm not sure if these people think that it's not a good "investment," if they don't see birds on the same level as dogs, or if they just don't know any better. There aren't a whole slew of avian vets out there, after all, and a lot of the older generation didn't take their dogs to the vet, let alone exotic pets.

To me, not taking a pet to the vet (especially when you first get it, regardless of age), is tantamount to neglect. Why *wouldn't* you want to do what's best for the pet? If it's a matter of affordability, I've always been part of the "if you can't afford the vet, you can't afford the pet" crowd. A brand new animal should always go to get checked out, for peace of mind if nothing else. It's definitely not "throwing your money away," and it should be within the budget before the animal is ever bought or adopted.

Saturday, October 9

Click, Click, Click Away!

With the addition of Dax, I recently began clicker training most of my dogs. Previously, I had scoffed at this training method - I mean, come on, you can use the word "good" or "yes" as a trigger even more easily, without having to know where your clicker is constantly. However, it does work extremely well. I believe it's likely because you use your voice to talk to, and talk around, your dog every day, so you saying "good" is nice, but the clicker is ONLY ever used when the dog is about to get a treat. That makes the clicker a higher value, regardless of the treat used with it. No wonder you can find greater success with a clicker than without.

I've also become a huge fan of kikopup on YouTube. Her videos are awesome - she shows you exactly how to teach tricks and behaviors, from the beginning to proofing the behavior, all with the clicker.

The only dog that's not very "clicker friendly" in my house is Merlin, because he doesn't like being clicked at, no matter how many treats he gets for it. Previously, he was terrified of even being in its presence, so this is a huge step up for him. Today while I was training the other dogs, I was click/treating him with the clicker behind my back, and he was fine. So we may be down to being afraid of the visual of the clicker. I do mute my clicker with copious amounts of masking tape, because clickers are naturally obnoxious and I just don't think that's necessary. :)

Some things my dogs worked on today with the clicker -

Popper - Heel, stay, go touch a target, leave it

Roofus - Heel, sit from a down, leave it, distance downs

Dax - Heel, stay, touch with paw, four on the floor (he jumps and bites when he gets excited), nose targets (for agility), roll over

The girls, of course, do not do training, and couldn't hear a clicker anyway. :)

Clicker training has been especially beneficial with Dax, because he's hyper. Sometimes he'll only perform a behavior for a second, and I can click it before he stops doing it. He's improved DRAMATICALLY in heeling and four on the floor, because I can capture the behavior so quickly.

I don't know if clicker training has helped Roofus at all, he is extremely stubborn and can be difficult to train - indeed, it usually takes him a lot longer to learn things than the other dogs. I try not to use the clicker while we are doing Rally Obedience, because I cannot have a clicker on me during trials, but I can use my voice.

Sunday, October 3

Fido Fest

Today was Worthington's Fido Fest. It sounded like a great time, and they had microchipping for $15 from RASCAL unit, so I packed up Dax and Popper and away we went. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy, so I ran past most of the booths. In fact, the majority of them were for services or rescues, and I don't need any services, and six dogs is more than plenty.

I did need to get Dax microchipped though, because he is the type of dog that might get out and then get lost looking for me. I took him over here and back, but he was really quite nervous and I feel like a huge jerk for taking him. He's been clinging to me the entire night, more so than usual, and not his normal insane self.

Popper had a great time. I brought the clicker, and after I got him calmed down and he realized I had treats, he did marvelously. He got to sample some treats, and I bought him, Dax, Blossom and Merlin new bandannas. Merlin's has Brutus Buckeye on it. :)

Friday, October 1

Doggie Nicknames

I have a LOT of nicknames for my dogs. While it would be impossible to think of every single one, here's a list for each. Some are amusing :)

Dax - Daxall, Daxall Pie, Dax Dax, D Man, the puppy, the annoying one, white speckle, the cattle dog, the insane dog, ants in his pants

Popper - Pop, pop pop, poppy, the baby, rusty, squeakers, bipolar dog, poppity pop pop, da pop pop, mean butt, battle dog

Merlin - corgi, corgs, lin lin, win win, short butt, snuggy wuggy poo, merby, merwin

Roofus - Roo, Boo, Roo bear, Boo bear, Mt Dew Bear, Ruby, Ruby Tuesday, da boo boo, mommy's boo bear, woo boo, fuzzy butt, bear, Roofus Bob, Mommy's big bear, fuzzy wuzzy (his name just rhymes with everything :) he LOVES being called anything but Roofus - usually we only call him Roofus if he's in trouble!!)

Blossom - B, B dog, spots, annoying old dog (she is deaf so we don't usually call her anything as she can't hear it!)

Murphy - murph, smurph, murphy brown, smurphy, the old dog, old butt

Wednesday, September 29

Smoochie smoochie!

Dax has this annoying habit of standing on my center console while I drive, the one in between the driver's and passenger's seat. It is irritating not only because he randomly sticks his big wet nose in my ear as I drive, but because he's tall enough that I can't see over him, so we could potentially die in a 60mph fireball of death.

Normally I keep him crated in my car for this very reason. He knows that "off" means to get off of what he's standing on, but being a young, bullheaded cattle dog, he may or may not actually oblige depending on his mood. He's a fairly anxious dog in the car anyway, and repeatedly telling him "off" every thirty seconds in an increasingly exasperated voice doesn't really induce a calming sensation.

He's learned that he can avoid the center console completely, and get into the passenger seat, by shimmying himself between the seat and the car door. Today he did just that, and then proceeded to stand on the center console again, except his back feet were in the front seat (say that five times fast). I opened my mouth to chew him out, when he looked at me, and gave me a big, fat, wet slurp all the way up the side of my head. I was so stunned, I remained silent. He then jumped down into the passenger seat, sat down, and stared at me.

Well played, Dax. Well played. I'm pretty sure a cattle dog just gave me the doggie raspberries.

Friday, September 17

New Breed Specific Address Labels

We are proud to announce the addition of dog breed address labels to our Zazzle store! A fantastic selection is available, from silhouettes, to kawaii cartoons, to photography! Agility, flyball, Christmas, and just plain adorable doggie return address labels. Below is a small sampling of the enormous amount currently available - and we're adding new ones every day.

Beagle Silhouette label
Beagle Silhouette by MenagerieMayhem
Awesome monochrome Beagle address labels for the modern dog lover. A gray breed silhouette stands stacked in front of a silver paw print, with a squiggly background.

Kawaii Pink Gingham Boston Terrier label
Kawaii Pink Gingham Boston Terrier by MenagerieMayhem
These adorable Boston Terrier address labels have a pink checkered background. A cartoon Boston Terrier is on the right, and you can instantly personalize the name and address found on the right. Very cute pet lover products at Menagerie Mayhem.

Winter Cartoon Fawn Bullmastiff label
Winter Cartoon Fawn Bullmastiff by MenagerieMayhem
These original Bullmastiff address labels are perfect for not only the Christmas season - but all winter long! The background is blue with big, puffy snowflakes falling everywhere, and to the left is a fawn cartoon Bullmastiff. Awesome breed-specific holiday address labels for dog lovers, but can be used any time it's cold outside (or you wish it were!).

Kawaii White Bull Terrier (Eye Spot) label
Kawaii White Bull Terrier (Eye Spot) by MenagerieMayhem
Cute White Bull Terrier return address labels for dog lovers! Sparkly blue design has a cartoon of the white dog breed with an eye patch on the left, and you can instantly add all your own information, printed on the right. Other coat colors are available.

Brittany Spaniel Reindeer Christmas label
Brittany Spaniel Reindeer Christmas by MenagerieMayhem
Fun Brittany Spaniel Christmas address labels have a dog breed silhouette, with reindeer antlers and a bright red glowing nose. The background is a cheery holiday plaid with reds and greens. Personalize the Name and Address easily with our customizing tools.

Santa Old English Sheepdog label
Santa Old English Sheepdog by MenagerieMayhem
Adorable photo of an Old English Sheepdog wearing a Santa cap in front of colorful Christmas lights. Excellent Old English Sheepdog address labels for the holidays! Instantly personalize the information to your own.

Tuesday, September 14

Dax Goes to an Agility Trial, Merlin Conquers All

Sunday was a Flashpoint CPE trial - an outdoor event, which is a fun time for everyone in dog agility! Happily, the ring is completely fenced in, or I might have some doubts about running my dogs there. :)

In addition to my agility dogs Popper and Merlin, I brought along my Roofus and Dax. Roofus has an APDT rally trial coming up, so he needs to get used to the atmosphere, and Dax just needs to get used to being around people, dogs, and, well, trials. :)

This was Popper's first time in Level 3 Jumpers and Colors, and he was absolutely amazing - even though I forgot the course halfway through Jumpers, I managed to save it and Popper got not only Q's for those runs but first places as well! His last run was Level 2 Wildcard, which was NOT very inspiring, particularly when he stopped on the dog walk and began admiring the judge. His tail was going a mile a minute - not sure of the attraction of this particular judge, Popper has trialed under him before with no problems. He managed to Q, but his "fan club time" cost him first, and he netted third.

Merlin was entered in only two runs, and he managed to Q in both of them. He ran with a spring in his step and a smile on his face, so really, he could have not Q'd and I wouldn't have cared in the slightest. :) He was the only dog in his level and height class so he obviously got two first places. Merlin, unlike Popper, did NOT like the judge, and he too stopped on the dog walk - to shoot the judge a look full of hatred. Good job, corgi.

I was unable to get anything at all out of Roofus, except for a couple of distance downs. He just refused to work, he was too full of excitement. I'd excuse it if it weren't for the fact that I always bring him along to outdoor trials, and always work on rally stuff in-between dog runs. This is the first time he has refused to work at all. It doesn't bode well for our October rally trial. :(

Dax had all kinds of positive experiences! He met lots of people, who had lots of mom-supplied steak for him, and he met a lot of dogs. I made sure he met one of my agility pal's big black dog Oscar, who is as mellow as mellow can be, to help him get over his fear of big black dogs. Dax was terrified of him, but at the same time, wanted to play with him. Throughout the day, Dax had happy tail, and to me that was better than all the Q's and first places we could have gotten.

Curiously, people keep mixing up Popper and Dax. Popper has drop ears, Dax has prick ears. Popper is a deep red with white speckles, Dax is white with light red speckles. Popper really wants to see you and give you kisses, Dax would rather sit nearby and be ignored. Granted, sometimes I'll confuse them if I glance quickly, or can only see their legs or snouts, but seriously? Not sure how everyone keeps confusing the two. :)

Wednesday, September 8

Dax Meets a Borzoi

Today one of my agility pals brought her enormous Borzoi to the play yard to meet Dax, and show him that big dogs can be perfectly nice companions. When I saw enormous, I mean he made Roofus look like a normal sized dog. He must have been 36" at the shoulders. I'm not familiar with the size range of Borzoi, but this boy was easily the size of a regular pony.

However, Dralion has a nice gentle spirit, with very good doggie manners and calming signals, and while his size intimidated Dax at first, Dax was soon quite comfortable running around him and sniffing at his leisure. Once, he ran up to Dralion in a move to initiate play, which Dralion would have been more than happy to comply with, but as soon as he stiffened up to pounce, Dax took off like a chicken. LOL Can't say as I blame him, that is a lot of dog to play with! :) Dralion was very good at giving Dax space so he didn't feel pressured or stressed.

I had Merlin in there too, and he's iffy about giant dogs, so it was a great experience for him as well. Hopefully we do it again soon!!

Monday, September 6

Playgroup, Fearful Fido, Training

Friday I took Dax to a playgroup with Merlin da Corgi, as a comfort dog. Things started out a little rough, with Dax having a definite case of the "OMG!!"s and zooming everywhere. Then came the butt biting.

It didn't matter if the dog were running or standing still, Dax decided all butts looked tasty and sunk his chompers in. It wasn't an aggressive action, so much as a "play with me I'm an outta control puppy and you've gotta play with me and I'll keep biting you until you do!!!" Needless to say, he got ejected from the small dog playgroup, and we decided to give him a shot in the big dog playgroup, as none of the small dogs would correct his behavior. (Merlin would rather let Dax crash and burn)

Big dog playgroup was a bigger disaster - entering a play yard where there are already a dozen or so dogs, all of which are bigger, and all who wanted to sniff Dax at the same time, was just a bad scene for him. Tail tucked, running in circles, and as his last resort, showing the teeth. So, that ended Dax's night of playgroup. I walked him outside along the fence and gave him a ton of treats to try to end on a positive note.

The next day we had Fearful Fido class, just for dogs with fear/anxiety issues. I'm happy to say that Dax was one of the least fearful in the class - but he was very much like the most fearful one just a few weeks ago! He has more issues with men than women, usually allowing women to at least feed a treat without shutting down, sometimes even a neck scratch. I don't know if he's scared of big dogs, black dogs, or big black dogs, but so far all the big dogs he's met besides my own have been black also. He really, REALLY wants to see these dogs, but after a sniff or two, darts away, then squiggles back in for another sniff, darts away, etc etc. Maybe he likes to scare himself, or maybe he's just playing it safe. One of my doggie pals is bringing her large Borzoi on Wednesday for Dax to interact with (very, very calm dog), and as he's mostly white, we'll see if it's big dogs or big black dogs. At any rate, it should be a positive experience.

Today I was working with Roofus and Popper on their Dog Scouts stuff - stays, leave its, heeling, and some distance downs with Roo. I decided it would be a great time to start some more intense training with Dax, rather than the casual "down" I tell him every once in a while. :) I read that crazy dogs should be kept moving, so I started by teaching him to weave through my legs, which amazingly, I thought he'd be hesitant doing, but he has no qualms about it at all. Then we moved on to heeling.... which is a bit trickier. He gets really nuts and starts jumping up and biting/mouthing, and no amount of "crying" is going to deter him from it. I only treat for all four feet on the ground, and when he starts biting, I simply turn away. Sometimes I get dizzy, because he can go on for a while. We also worked on stays, which are sooo hard for puppies, and hard for cattle dogs too! He's up to about 5 feet, in just one session. :) I also introduced the tire jump, set at about 6", which for him means he can just step through it. He didn't seem overly thrilled about it. Probably because stepping over things isn't too exciting. I'll raise it up a bit, but he is still a puppy so I don't want to go too high. Just a  short session doing this outside (about 10 minutes total), and he's taking a nap. :)

I'm strongly considering switching Dax to clicker training, especially with his jumping up and biting issue. I've tried every method known to man - even scruffing him, which was slightly more effective than the obnoxious crying thing you're supposed to do. He thought that was a fun game - bite Mommy, she cries! What a great toy. Look, I can make her cry again! And again! And again! He is not very treat motivated, but I think he'll "get" the clicker much more quickly.

Saturday, August 28

New Places for Dax

I try to take Dax to one new place every day. Eventually, I'm going to run out of new places. :) But today Dax got to go to TWO places - the Grove City Farmer's Market, and the local PetSmart.

The farmer's market I used primarily as a place to get Dax used to a lot of people milling around. It wasn't as awful as it sounds - I had Dax with Popper, and we just stood on the corner, about 30' from the very last booth. Dax was treated heavily the entire time with hot dog and ham. A very nice woman and her granddaughter were kind enough to pet on Popper and completely ignore Dax for me, and the result was that Dax was free to sniff all over them without having to give them anything in return or feel threatened in any way. When he was done sniffing, he came to me for his treat. A very positive interaction!

The next stop was PetSmart, because I wanted to buy Dax a DAP collar. PetSmart was a much more positive place for Dax; he had "happy tail" the entire time, and went up to all kinds of people. He even allowed several of them to pet on him. In fact, he did so well, I think I may take him there every single day so he can have a positive experience like that. It was decently crowded in there too, and he acted like a fairly normal dog, who just was picky about who could touch him. :) After every interaction he came back to me wanting an ear rub or a treat. He understands the game perfectly. He also really likes the dog toy aisle. :)

I put the DAP collar on after we checked out, while my husband made a new dog tag for his corgi, and after only a few seconds it had already made a difference. Dax likes to randomly bark, and with the collar on, he stopped barking for a good three minutes, and after that, he rarely barked at all.

Friday, August 27

Wherein Popper becomes a Security Blanket and Dax becomes a Real Dog

I nearly sat down on the grass and cried today.

Not the "oh no, life is awful," sort of cry, but the "oh my God, I am so relieved, comforted, and happy" sort.

Today I took Dax to the human park for the first time. I picked a time where it wouldn't be too busy, but that there would be some people around to provide opportunities for rewarding. I also brought along Popper, who is a veritable social butterfly around humans. My heart swelled with glee when Dax bounded out of the car, tail wagging, and proceeded to dash around furiously, splash through creeks (the water phobic dog!), chase squirrels and bark merrily at cats. You would have thought he was a normal dog. Surely this was not the anxiety-filled, scrawny mess of a dog who jumped twelve feet at the smallest sound just a few weeks ago. Dax was playing and frolicking like the puppy he is. He boldly bounded into thickets, bounced his way across fields, and in general, behaved much like any other ten month old. He had happy tail the entire hour and a half we spent at the park. I feel like we sailed around the world.

I don't mean to say he's "fixed." He's not. While new places aren't so scary (particularly those outside), he's still pretty wary of people. And I say wary - because we've stepped up from terrified. Yes, we had a few woofs, and he did start chasing a little kid who was running by (quite motion responsive), but we approached or walked much closer to people than we have been. Indeed, Dax turned it into a game, where he would run up to a person, sniff their shoes, and then dash back to the relative safety of Mom. Did I reward the heck out of him? You bet. He particularly loved this two year old who was walking with his mother. He kept going up to the child again and again. I asked the Mom if we could follow behind them for a while since Dax was so taken with the little boy, and we spent an enjoyable time where Dax was STRAINING to see someone. That has never happened before. Dax has begun to have more and more "mild" reactions where he "freezes" momentarily when he sees someone - and then we continue on. The barking is becoming less, the dashing madly away at any reaction on the stranger's part is becoming more of a trot.

I'm pretty sure we can get Dax over "stranger danger," to a degree - he is a cattle dog, after all, not a breed known for being overly affectionate to those they are not familiar with. He is intensely curious in people, and as long as they ignore him, he feels much more comfortable to go check them out. But poor socialization, being yelled at often, and God knows what else have made this little dog a wreck about new folks. If I'm not careful with his interactions, he'll get diarrhea from being so worked up about it.

Popper was actually one of my last choices to walk with Dax. He barks at anything and everything, and he's a NIGHTMARE on the leash if I walk another dog with him. In fact, all of his own personal issues are amplified if I don't walk him solo. However, two things Popper does have, unfailingly, and in huge scores, is fearlessness and a natural joy for life. I walked the two together last night just to try it, and the effect it had on Dax was instantaneous and remarkable. I could see that dog swell with confidence as surely as if he were playing in his own backyard. We were a bit lucky we did not run into other dogs though; while Popper is dog-friendly, he is not quite as reliably so when he's on leash and will bark incessantly when he sees one.

I have since decided that Popper and Dax will be regular walking buddies, and Popper will accompany Dax on all future visits to parks, pet stores, and everywhere else we go. Sure, it's a crutch. But you bet I'm going to exploit the heck out of it. If one day Dax decides humans are as awesome as my other dogs do, I may wean him off of Popper so he can be confident on his own. But that's a long time away. For right now, I'm going to do whatever it takes to help Dax feel like the "real dog" I saw at the park today. Because he deserves it.

Friday, August 20

Dax Progress Update

   Dax has been progressing along like a fireball with his anxiety issues.

   Last night, I took him along with me to BRAG while Popper had class, his second time at the building. He was relaxed in his crate the entire time, and amazingly, was taking hot dog treats. He went through the door much more easily, and was quite happy to receive some hot dogs as a reward. He approached several people and dogs, took hot dogs from a few people, and did his Mom proud. I even had a friend hold his leash and walk him out to my car.

   Today, we took our daily walk along the same route, except I brought Merlin along as well. Merlin's been "vengeful" pottying, no doubt due to Dax, so I figured he could use the quality time with Dax as well as some extra exercise. As an alterior motive, I think having Popper along last night was a huge confidence boost to Dax, and I was craving some more success. :)

   And success is exactly what I got. Dax finally, for the first time ever, went potty on a walk. He's never gone anywhere except in the backyard. That probably doesn't sound like a huge thing to most people, but trust me, it really is. After his potty, he walked down into the marshy area that runs along the sidewalk (I walk dogs on long flexis usually) and explored quite happily. When we rounded the marsh with the forest on one side, he was noticeably less freaked out about the trees, and even started flushing out birds! :D I was so happy with his progress that I decided to push it up a notch, and we did one extra block of unfamiliar territory.

   Piece of CAKE! He wasn't throwing out any calming signals at all. He was trotting around like he'd been walking the neighborhood all his life. He didn't even trip me ONCE on the whole walk; normally he'll dart back and forth right in front of my feet, so I have to stop, stutter step, or fall on my face. He even LOOKED happy. The one single problem we had on the whole walk was in the first two minutes, along the familiar route, when we were waiting to cross the street. There was a bit more traffic than usual, and Dax dropped to his belly while a couple of obnoxiously loud cars passed by. That was literally the only noticeable calming signal I saw from this dog.

HUGE improvements in such a small amount of time! I'll continue to take Dax with me wherever I go (when appropriate and feasible), and hopefully he will do a complete 180 from when I first met him!

Tuesday, August 17

Dax's Great Escape

Wednesday night, two days after Dax was fixed, I ended up taking him to OSU Veterinary Emergency Services... All his stitches were gone. Just plain gone. They put four staples in him, yelled at me for a while, put a cone on his head, and we were good to go.

And I was very good at keeping him coned and crated for five very long days.

Last night, however, Dax had apparently had enough.

I came home from Merlin's agility class, opened my bedroom door, and Dax pranced daintily past me. Ummmm.... I walked into my bedroom, and the front panel of the dog crate was torn off. Literally, torn off. He broke two welds in his escape. It was a very large, heavy-duty dog crate, too, I had actually borrowed Roofus's wire crate, which is humongous, since the poor dog had to spend most of his time confined, as well as with the cone.

After I got over the shock, and called my Dad (who can weld anything), I had a good laugh about the little cattle dog who just refuses to be contained. All day long he was whining and whimpering about being stuck in his crate (normally he is completely silent), and I suppose he just couldn't take it any more.

Today I'm not crating him unless I have to leave, because his incision looks pretty well healed (guessing antibiotics helped there) and the staples still look just fine. We'll just hold off on the strenuous exercise until the weekend. :)

Monday, August 9

Agility Weekend and Dax Gets Fixed

Saturday we went up to Flashpoint Agility's CPE trial. Popper and Merlin had three runs each, in Standard, Fullhouse, and Wildcard.

Fullhouse started out well enough. Popper was a bit all over the place, typical in the first run and typical for an outdoor trial. I had plotted a run that allowed something like 38 points though, so we were okay. Took first place by a mile, had the table perfectly planned so the buzzer rang about 1 second before he jumped on it. Merlin was distracted, nervous, and aware of everything. Even things that don't normally bother him. He missed a Q by 2 points, because he simply refused to do most things.

Standard was nerve wracking because it was my first time running in Level 3, and it was with Merlin, who was demonstrating that today was not going to be a fun day for him. And the streak continued... but got worse. He just stopped doing tunnels entirely. Most jumps I had to zip around behind and call him from, so he HAD to jump over it. I will say, he did the teeter perfectly. Sometimes when he's spooked, he'll jump off the teeter midway. He also entered and performed all six weaves absolutely perfectly on the very first try. He refused to do the last jump. Not that it mattered at that point.

Popper did great - well, I did not LOL. I started running Popper on Merlin's Level 3 course - luckily, after the first off course, a light bulb clicked in my brain, I laughed, apologized to Popper, and we went off - correctly this time. He did miss his weave entry, which is TOTALLY unlike Popper!! However, he did manage a Q.

The third run, Popper did awesome. Easy Q. I decided to run Merlin FEO. We did two jumps on leash, which he did happily, and then we jogged out, where Daddy was waiting with a ton of treats. The crowd cheered and clapped, and Merlin looked as happy as if he'd just successfully run a full course. I'm glad I did not try to run Merlin off leash. The very instant the leash comes off lately, he becomes Mr Scared of Everything. Unfortunately, you can't run agility on leash....

I took Merlin to Roofus's rally obedience class today, and she had the rally course set up around the agility equipment. Merlin was extremely confident and clearly enjoying himself. But of course, he was also on leash. :(

Today I took Dax to the vet for his shots and to be neutered. He had a super freak out in the waiting room when some yorkie-schnauzer thing started yipping at him non-stop. Luckily the owner saw how spazzed his dog was making Dax, and took the thing outside, but the damage was done. Dax spent the rest of his time hiding under my chair.

When I went back later to get him, he didn't even acknowledge me. Wouldn't look me in the eye. :( Then he proceeded to vomit twice all over my car, and once home, to vomit two more times. I deserved it, I guess. He's been snoozing off and on, as much as a nervous cattle dog can.

Thursday, August 5

Plus One!

There's a new Menagerie Mayhem dog - introducing Dax! Dax is a ten month old red Australian Cattle Dog that we rescued today. He is simply irresistible, and his only "bad" habit seems to be that he is extremely shy of new people and situations. With all the doggie classes and competitions we go to, we're sure this shyness will go away very quickly!

Isn't he cute? He thinks so too!

Monday, August 2

Popper Update

Popper had his vet recheck, as well as an agility workshop on Friday.

The vet said he couldn't look better, everything was completely healed. We still have to watch his other sideways tooth though, and she said eventually it will need removed as well. But for now, it's fine.

Popper's teeth definitely were hurting him, because when we ran agility on Friday night, he was zooming like a demon. Ironically, that's his middle name. He hasn't run that fast for me in probably a year. He never slowed down, either. THAT is more what I would expect from a cattle dog mix! Thank goodness we got those teeth pulled!

Thursday, July 22

Popper's Tooth Extraction

Popper had his canine tooth extraction on Monday.

He was pretty angry that I didn't feed him breakfast, so he was being snarky and rebellious (although he is always a bit of each!). I reminded the vet that a muzzle might be in order.

I came back to pick him up, only to discover that TWO molars had been removed. The vet wasn't available to chat with, so I took the poor dog outside. They'd given him IV fluids, and he really, really had to go. I have to commend him on his superb bladder control! I had assumed he was doing his beagle squeak inside the vet because he has separation anxiety - it seems more likely they just hadn't let him out to potty. :(

Popper was pretty out of it, he didn't protest at all when I put him in his crate, but curled up and went to sleep right away.

The next day the vet called, and I found out that the extra tooth she removed was actually right next to his cracked one. See, Popper is rather "special," and has the same molar on each side that has grown in sideways. It's pretty interesting. She discovered that the root was bad in one of them, so she had to extract that tooth as well. Unfortunately, the root had grown into the soft pallete, and she wasn't qualified enough to remove it, so she ground it down as much as she could. She hopes that the root will naturally be expelled by his body, or reabsorbed. If neither occurs, and it is irritating him, we'll have to see a specialist and have a pallete resectioning done. I hope he just rejects it naturally. His dental surgery was over $500. Quite a hit in the wallet.

He's into day 3 post surgery now, and he's doing great. Just yesterday he was almost 100% again. He was showing some bloody spittle on his tennis ball, so I gave him a smaller ball and I haven't seen any since. I'm very glad I had the tooth extracted when I did, she was pretty sure, after she removed it, that it probably was bothering him a bit. I'm REALLY hoping that it makes a difference when we do agility class, because he's been slightly "off" lately. He's been having allergy issues too, which he has never had before, and she said that the tooth could actually have irritated the sinuses, because of the one it was.

However, after this experience, I've decided I will never have my dog's teeth cleaned unless they're getting something else done at the same time. This was extremely nerve wracking!

Sunday, July 18

Popper's First Teacup Trial

After trying out teacup agility this previous winter, I entered Popper today at a local Teacup Dog trial. We entered Near & Far, and two rounds of Standard.

Near & Far is kind of like jackpot, except that there are TWO gamble lines, one near, and one far. Jackpot is super hard for Popper, the biggest reason being that he has some nasty separation anxiety. However, he performed flawlessly, earning a Q and a 1st place. The building had one of its bay doors open in the course area, which was distracting (to put it shortly) to a beagle mix. However, I found that yelling "TREATS!!" is quite effective. :)

Standard was a bit of a surprise. Popper was distracted running off the teeny a-frame, and ended up doing a back jump. I later discovered that in Teacup, you aren't allowed ANY faults at all in Standard, which is different than I'm used to with CPE. :) So no Q in the first one, but he did Q the second round. Of course, there was a different table behavior the second time (first one was stand) but nobody told me! So after I had him stand, the judge told me it was supposed to be sit. Okay, no problem. He sat for about three seconds before he turned it into a beg. The judge started laughing. The crowd was laughing. I was laughing. He was trying his darndest to get a treat, LOL. Eventually we got it worked out so he sat for five seconds (four paws on the table!!), then we continued on. :)

And that ended our day. 2 Qs, 3 1sts, and a very, very happy dog. The judge actually pulled me aside after our second run to tell me what a neat little dog Popper is. The whole time she was talking to me, Pop was happily slurping my face, LOL. I think next time I may do an entire weekend - which I've never done in any venue before, but Popper may last the course in teacup. I think Popper enjoys teacup more than CPE, and I imagine it has something to do with the cute little equipment, him getting to be a "big dog," and the fact that the course size is so much smaller, so he's doing stuff more often. We're trying to earn a TBAD title before the next BRAG dinner in January (or is it Feb....).

Tomorrow is Popper's tooth extraction, and I'm pretty freaked out about it. I had a weird nightmare last night that had nothing to do with anesthesia or teeth, but the dogs were in it and were in danger all the time, and it was only my constant vigilance that kept them safe. I tell ya what, I will NEVER have my dogs' teeth cleaned. It seems silly to go through all this for such a thing. If it weren't for Popper needing his tooth removed (his molar is cracked), I wouldn't have them cleaned at all. I've been hugging the little guy all night. And of course he's eating it up! We'll see how he does tomorrow morning when he finds out he isn't getting breakfast...

Tuesday, June 29

Outdoor Agility Trial!

Sunday, I entered both my agility dogs in an outdoor trial held at Flashpoint Agility in Marengo, Ohio. I'm always a bit wary of entering Popper in any outdoor event, because he is half beagle, and where the nose goes, the body follows! Luckily, this venue is fenced in, or I might have some more serious reservations. I actually don't know why more outdoor trials don't use fencing... you can buy super cheap reusable plastic fencing quite readily, and more handlers would 1) enter the trial and 2) be more comfortable at the trial.

I entered both dogs in the same levels and classes, the only difference being that Merlin the corgi is 8" and Popper and Beagle/Cattle Dog is 12". It really makes it fun, what with being in neighboring height classes, because sometimes I only have a couple dogs in-between runs, so it's a mad dash to the crates, and a mad dash back to the starting gate! We ran in Level 2 Jumpers, and two rounds of Colors.

I've been concerned for Merlin because he hasn't been trialing normally, ever since he was in a dog fight at his last agility training facility. He has JUST recently started running normally in class, which is basically an all-out crazy dog run that may or may not be where you want him to go. :) He was still sluggish this weekend, but whether it was because he's still not "over" it, or because it was insanely hot and humid (92 - eeep!), I do not know. I suspect he still harbors ill will, myself.

However, long story short - both dogs did beautifully. Both dogs back jumped one run each, and both dogs got distracted by little dumb things. Both dogs always came back to me, and both dogs managed to Q in all of their runs. I've never had so many Q's in one day before! 6!

So Popper has finished CPE Level 2 Jumpers and Colors, as well as his Fun Games title, and Merlin finished Level 2 Colors (he's not a huge fan of jumpers so he's more behind). We're slowly but steadily making our way towards a C-ATCH, but I honestly don't think we'll ever get there, because we just don't trial enough. Money is always an issue, as well as time, and the fact that Popper in particular just can't handle an entire weekend of agility, or even five runs in a day. I usually only do three with him, and four is really pushing it. So we'll continue our little bunny hops towards our goal, keeping in mind that the dogs really don't care if they get any titles or not - they do it simply for the joy of doing it. And that yummy cheeseburger on the way home.

Thursday, June 24

Agility Practice

Last night it was waaaaay to hot to go to Popper's agility class. We have a trial this weekend, so I really hated to do it, but it was still 91 degrees a half hour before his class, and it's in an unconditioned building. So I made up for it this morning in my backyard while it was still cool!

I searched all over for simple dog agility exercises, but everything I found was either extremely basic, or required a lot more equipment than I have. So I'm posting the "mini course" that I ran with Popper. There are many, many more fun combinations you can do, and we made up probably a dozen different "courses" with just these five obstacles. However, that course map would look quite confusing. So I've drawn it up with only two different paths, the purple is easier with front crosses, the green is harder and there are some rears in there too. :) Popper and I had a blast playing with this configuration. You can do the weave poles first to practice weave exits too. Our goal was to work on tight handling and weave pole entries.

I think my favorite part is the green, 3-4-5-6, because if you're not careful you'll get insanely dizzy. :)

Monday, June 21

Rally Class Today

Roofus has been going to Rally Obedience class, with a trial last month... which didn't go too well LOL. I only entered him in two runs, and the entire atmosphere was so different for him that I had almost zero attention from him in the ring. We NQ'd both runs because I pulled out the treats to get him back.

However, I've been trying to get away from using treats ALL the time. Today I finally managed to do an entire course in class, off-leash, and only treating according to APDT rules. I almost lost Roofus a couple of times, but I think only feeding him half his breakfast this morning made him a little more willing to pay attention to me. :D

Hopefully, at the next trial in October, we'll get one Q at the very least. :)

Friday, June 18

Blossom tries rally

Okay, it's been awhile... but I was planning a wedding, and then I got married, so there was the honeymoon, and then all the post-wedding wrap-up that goes on. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :D

Last night, I tried my 14 year-old, deaf, dalmatian-border collie mix in a Rally-o workshop. The thing about Blossom is that she's not particularly eager to please. If her goals and your goals happen to overlap, then all is well. The problem with that, is it doesn't happen very often. Add into that some fairly severe leash aggression, and you've got yourself an interesting night.

The hardest part with Blossom was getting and keeping her attention. She has never done a formal class with me, although she knows all the obedience commands. I can't verbally connect with her because she is deaf, which limits trying to get her attention to shoving food right in front of her face (and she's not a foody dog - look how skinny she is!) or leash tugs. I don't like shoving food in her face because it startles her, you can see her recoil whenever something suddenly appears in front of her.

After a few rounds of Blossom trying to wander off wherever she wanted, it dawned on me that we brought the Gentle Leader. Blossom spent a lot of her time on the Gentle Leader the first few years I had her, and that seemed like a great way to get her attention, (and keep her from barking at the other dogs) so I slipped it on. Ohhhh, we did so much better! She couldn't lunge as far in front of me, so it was a LOT easier to get her attention. She did pretty well on the last exercise, which was a little "mini" course, putting together the signs we had practiced. She still refused to "down," but I was pretty happy with her last performance.

I mean heck, not bad for an ADD, 14 year-old deaf dog that's not interested in pleasing you in the slightest!

Monday, February 15

Roo's Bad Dream

Last night, I was trying to snooze when I heard a little "yip" from Roofus, having a bad dream. Normally I wake my dogs up when they're having bad dreams, but I was pooped so I just went back to trying to sleep. He let out a couple of big yelps, and I saw Popper get up, go over to Roofus, and poke him with his nose a couple of times until Roo finally woke up.

Knowing Popper as I do, I am pretty sure he just didn't want his sleep disturbed by a yipping dog... but I'd like to think he was lovingly helping out his big brother so he wouldn't have to be chased by giant squirrels or whatever it is they have bad dreams about. :)

Thursday, February 4

Playing Ball with Roofus

I went out to run the dogs a bit in my backyard. The best way, since it's a small yard, is to throw a ball. Popper and Merlin have great "drop its," but for some reason known only to Roofus, he has never been interested in dropping the ball, but instead mashes it into your stomach repeatedly and looks bewildered that you're not throwing it.

Needless to say, I try to keep Roofus from ever getting the ball. He chases it like everybody else, and doesn't get tired of it. But I get tired, especially if it's a bit muddy out, of not only the incessant bruising and drool in my midsection, but of the mud all over my clothes. If he can't drop it, he can't play.

My solution to this is to just give him his own ball. Before I start throwing the ball, I give Roofus a tennis ball. He then proceeds to chew on it while he chases Popper and Merlin around the yard, and because the other two have very quick drops, he never gets a chance to smash into my stomach. He still gets his exercise, he got to have a ball the whole time, and I'm mud, drool, and irritation free.

The only bad part is when we're done, and he finally drops the ball. It's so disgusting; it's covered in foamy drool, and it DRIPS! Just look at that picture!!

Monday, February 1

Fun New Game!

Pickle, my quaker parakeet, has come up with a fun new game. For him.

He jumps or climbs onto my head, and when I reach up to remove him, he bites me.

Typical quaker parrot!

Monday, January 25

Trying my hand at teacup...

Our BRAG building had a TDAA trial in it this weekend - hosted by Central Ohio Dog Sports. One of my agility pals was running her dog, so I dropped in on Saturday to watch.

I'm pretty sure TDAA stands for "Tinies Doing Adorable Agility" because that's what it looked like to me!

The next day I came back with Popper to give him a run. First thing in the morning is a "familiarization" time, so your dog can get used to the (much smaller) obstacles. Popper had no problem or hesitation with any of it. In fact, he REALLY seemed to like the smaller tunnels. A lot. He's never been a tunnel sucker, but I'm pretty sure if we did teacup regularly, he would fast become one. The only time he was a bit taken aback was over the a-frame. His expression clearly read, "is this IT?!"

We did a Beginner Standard run, very similar to a Level 1 CPE Standard, except there was a teeter. Unfortunately, I had forgotten, since Popper hasn't trialed in a long time, that he was starting to do "daddy checks." He doesn't actively LOOK for daddy, but when he sees him, he tries to go to him. Only at trials.

So he ran away I think four times, but we did manage to complete the run, and when he was paying attention to me, he was awesome. Focus is a HUGE issue with Popper anyway, and so daddy has now been banned from watching both of our dogs run agility LOL!

I decided that I'm going to register Popper with the Teacup Dog Agility Association, and a couple times a year, we'll have some fun on the teeny tiny equipment. It's a great, relaxed atmosphere, and since I get stressed at trials, I think it'll be really nice for Popper to have some runs that are stress-free for him AND me!

Monday, January 18

Working on a few things...

Updates I've made recently include: new silhouettes for the Otterhound, Australian Cattle Dog, and Portuguese Podengo (smooth), and the Zazzle store now carries the Berger Picard (Picardy Shepherd), Black Russian Terrier, Barbet, and American Water Spaniel. Right now I'm working on going through all the dog breeds and making sure each one has all the designs it has supposed to have, including embroidery.

Quite ambitious, as I've only got about six completely done LOL. It may take me all of 2010 to get this one done!

Saturday, January 16

AKC throws out "Separate but Equal" Garbage

Apparently, having received tons of negative feedback about mixed breed dogs being "inferior" and receiving "separate but equal" titles in dog agility, rally, etc, the AKC has nixed that practice, and mutts can now compete against purebreds for the same titles.

I mean, DUH AKC!

Read the letter here.