Monday, November 30

Cyber Monday Specials!

I've got TWO great deals for you today - but each one is ONLY good for today, in honor of Cyber Monday shopping! Traditionally, Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of online gift buying. So we made sure to round up some great deals for you and your holiday shopping.

At our Cafepress Store, you can get FREE shipping off orders of $75 or more! Just use the coupon code GO4CYBER. Our CP store URL is

At our Zazzle Store, you can get FREE shipping on ANY size of order! Just use the coupon code FREESHIP2DAY. Our Zazzle store URL is*

Happy Shopping! Don't forget, in addition to fun dog agility gifts and breed specific t-shirts, we also have an awesome selection of parrot apparel, reptile gear, and ocean/aquarium gifts!

Monday, November 23

Action Packed Weekend!

Saturday, Merlin had a CPE Games Workshop held at BRAG, the local agility club. We were in for six runs: Fullhouse, Jackpot, Nontraditional Jackpot, Colors, Wildcard, and Snooker. I had taken the class last February with Popper, but desperately needed to work on handling skills with Merlin, so we signed up.

Merlin was amazing! I got compliments from many folks on his stamina (all six runs full throttle), focus, and drive. Popper didn't get a single "fake Q" when we participated previously, but Merlin Q'd in every run except the two Jackpots. The second Jackpot Q was my fault when I picked a poor path, but the first one was Merlin's obsession with the a-frame and running to it when not directed to (repeatedly), and on the Gamble, the jump bars weren't set for his run. At all. So he ran around them (he's weird like that). Oh well, no biggie. :) I was very pleased with Merlin's performance! He had some awesome entries into the weave poles, something Popper has still never pulled off in a trial-like atmosphere. It's hard for me to run Merlin because he has an extremely different running style than my other dog, Popper. Basically, everything he does is opposite - he wants a lot of distance from me, he wants to go at the speed of light, and if I'm slow to make a decision, he'll go on and perform without me. Popper likes me close, tends to not run as fast as doggly possible, and if I slow down or stop, he'll turn around and start sniffing everything. Popper also needs constant interaction, eye contact and attention throughout the run, or his attention drifts. Merlin has a great work ethic and doesn't need the "good boy, yes, great" throughout the whole run.

Popper's main action of the weekend is that he is getting crated from now on when I leave the house, even for a few minutes. I'd noticed that things I'd put on the stove would mysteriously end up on the floor. The last straw was yesterday when I took Roofus for a quick walk. I had a small bag of pumpkin muffins that I set on the back of the stove, and when I came home, there was just an empty bag shredded on the floor. He would have had to jump ONTO the stove to get those muffins! I've also noticed small doggie footprints in the dust on my piano. He apparently walks on my piano when I'm not at home. So Popper clearly cannot be trusted to be loose in the house when there is no one to supervise, so back to the crate for him. He actually really does love the crate; I stopped using it years ago because he became quite aggressive about anyone near "his" crate, whether he was in it or not. The crate is in my SO's room, and his door is always shut, so it's not a concern now.

Last night, I was cutting away a clump of fur from Roofus when I discovered that underneath it was an open wound, roughly the size and depth of a small dog tooth. After shaving the area, cleaning it, and applying antibiotics, I believe it was an injury sustained a few days ago when Merlin got super excited when Roofus ran out of the kitchen suddenly. He attacked Roofus, and Popper got into the fray as well. I'm pretty sure one of the two sunk a tooth into him (grr!). I had assumed it was another hot spot and did not put two and two together until I saw the wound. It's looking much better this morning, although Roofus is pretty sad in an e-collar.

A lot of dog action this weekend at my house! I'm counting the days until I can take Popper on a three mile trek, run Merlin in a real agility trial, and take the stupid e-collar off my poor sheepdog!

Wednesday, November 18

Popper Gets Benched

Yesterday, I received news awful enough that I wasn't able to blog about it until today. Now, with a good night's sleep and time to mull it over, I'm just happy it wasn't worse.

We believed Popper had injured himself in some way, when last Wednesday I told the lead agility instructor about his sudden refusal to do weave poles. She had me feel down his spine, and when I got to his lower back, he jerked away from me and would not allow anyone else to even look at his back. She suggested a visit to the chiropractor.

Yesterday was his appointment. As it turns out, he has pulled his groin muscle on the left side. Apparently, that's a fairly common injury in dog agility dogs, but it takes a while to heal. She suggested 6-8 weeks at least, and estimated the injury occurred a couple weeks ago. Since we've already had a week of pretty much nothing except some short little walks, I'm counting that into his recovery time and anticipating that we'll be able to return to agility class in early January. I had to pull him out of two upcoming trials, as well as the class he's currently enrolled in.

I had been trying desperately to finish his Level One title before the year is through - we had only needed a single qualifying run in Jackpot, and we were finished. After I got over being selfish, and being ashamed for being selfish, I'll wait with Popper as long as it takes for him to get back to 100%.

This 6-8 weeks of rest entails NO running whatsoever. He can't even play ball in the backyard. This, alone, may kill my dog. Watching his brother Merlin go to classes while he has to stay at home - this also, may kill my dog. Walks cannot be longer than 25 minutes or so, and that's assuming there's no running and no PULLING! It's going to be extremely rough on Popper to participate in absolutely nothing. He's an extremely active and athletic dog, and being a cattle dog mix, if he gets bored (or angry, for that matter), he starts destroying things, barking incessantly, and other bad behaviors that are normally cured with exercise. Agility has been huge - HUGE - in controlling his bad habits. To say that he enjoys it is an understatement. Therefore, if we can only manage to go to class and walk beside the obstacles, I want to do that. I certainly won't push him into doing anything he is not 100% healthy enough to do, and I'm sure come January I will make the call whether we go to class or not. He's going to go to the chiropractor with Merlin regularly now, and she will monitor his progress.

However, Popper is a very healthy, young dog, and as I intend that he will get the long rest he requires, I'm sure we'll be back in agility class for the next session, in one format or another. Even if we need to skip the first class or two.

Tuesday, November 17

Stupid Cats

It's not a big secret - I don't particularly like cats. In part, because my dogs will eat them, and cats will eat my birds. Also partly because I am deathly allergic to the buggers. If you own a cat, I can only stay in your house for a few minutes before I need my inhaler.

I'm very, very tired of cats coming into my backyard and using it as their litterbox. My dogs go outside, sometimes all day long, if I leave the back door open, and of course, they find it. And then they roll in it. I'm an avid pooper scooper - in the summer months, I'd scoop twice a day. This time of year, it's once a day. Popper has a chiropractic appointment this afternoon, and guess what he did?

Yup. Because some irresponsible fool can't keep their kitty inside, yet again, I have to give Popper a bath. And he'll arrive at the chiropractor wet. No doubt I'll attract stares for being a "mean mommy."

I've gone off on this tangent before - all cats should be indoor cats. Unless you've got this marvelous animal that you can let outside, it'll stay in your yard, potty in YOUR yard, and come back inside a few minutes later, your cat has no business being outside. If my dog pottied in your yard, I would certainly clean it up. But if you have no idea where your cat is while he's outside, you're not returning the courtesy. That's just rude. You're certainly not going to come over and bathe my dogs. Even though your cat caused the problem.

Someone told me that their indoor/outdoor cat absolutely never potties outside. I don't even think I can comment on the ridiculousness of that statement. Unless you're following the animal around 24/7, you have no idea. I can assure you the animal is using other peoples' yards as a litterbox.

Not to mention all these roadkill cats all over my neighborhood. It's a rare day that goes by when these kitties aren't found on the side of the road. How could someone let something they love so much roam around where they can easily be killed by traffic?

I've also heard that "cats aren't content to live indoors" and that "it's mean." If your cat is not happy to be an indoor cat, your cat is too feral to be a pet. It's utter nonsense. I would rather have an indoor cat than one that craps all over my neighbor's lawn, pees on their roses and sharpens its claws on their trees. Oh, and did I mention that the indoor cat lives a lot longer, since it's not smashed to death on the side of the road? Nor is it off creating more problem cats.

I think 90% of Popper's baths this year have been caused from cat poo in MY yard. I don't own a cat. I don't want a cat. Please keep your pets in your yard.

Saturday, November 14

Oh, she NEVER crosses the street!

Today, I was walking Popper around by himself to practice not pulling. He's gotten really good at it, to the point where if he starts to pull, he'll stop, turn around and look at me. We can even go on regular walks now, although I'd be lying if I didn't admit sometimes it takes us a long time to get to our destination with all the turning around we have to do. Still, he is improving dramatically, and I'm so proud of him!
We were on the last leg of our journey home, when I saw this fat boxer-thing sitting on the sidewalk, no leash - but her human was standing in his lawn. Naturally, I crossed the street to get away from her. As Popper and I were passing her on the other side of the street, the owner called out, "Don't worry - she won't cross the street." Exactly one fraction of a second later, guess who comes barreling like a bullet across the street? Yup. Strange dog. As she's approaching, the guy yells, "Don't worry - she won't be aggressive." Okay, you were wrong the first time, why should I believe you now?
Luckily, it turns out she was kind of a big baby - which is fortunate, because Popper did not appreciate that he was walking along, minding his own business, tracking bunnies, when this huge behemoth comes up full throttle out of nowhere directly into his face. He tucked his tail, showed her every single one of his teeth, and tried to bite her face.
The guy kept calling that she was friendly as he ran across the street to retrieve her. I said, "My dog is EXTREMELY insecure on walks, and he is going to hurt your dog." That, and a strange dog just suddenly appeared in his face. The dude apologized about fifty times, but honestly - I'd like it if he just kept his pooch on a leash.
This perfectly illustrates the reason why I HATE when people think they can trust their dog 100% of the time. Walking their dogs off-leash, or letting them roam the front yard off-leash. There is ALWAYS a chance your dog will take off, no matter how well trained the animal is. At least once a week, we encounter this situation. Is it any wonder that Merlin growls at strange dogs, or that Popper gets so excited when he sees a dog? Not to mention, of course, all the loose dogs that run around in our neighborhood.
Sigh. Up until that point, it was really quite a peaceful, pleasant walk - which I've never been able to have with Popper before. I'm hoping to be able to introduce one of the other dogs into the walk sometime soon - probably Merlin.

Thursday, November 12

Agility Class Recap

Gee, I really wish Merlin were in the group with the other small dogs instead of being with a border collie, wolfhound, and a big ridgeback-ish mix. Maybe then I could focus on agility instead of Merlin's aversion to large dogs. I almost think it was intentional - last night the little dog group only had 2 dogs in it, and one of them (and sometimes both) jumps the same jump height as Merlin. While it may be good for him to be forced to deal with the problem, I feel like I'm stressing out about it and it's affecting how Merlin learns and performs (and focuses). Last night he reverted back to growling and not focusing on me at ALL - like all our hard work just went down the drain. I think working that closely to these big dogs was too soon for him, and we may get thrown back to square one. And I'll have to go back to recreational agility again to de-stress.

Last week at class, we were working on weave pole entries - Popper did the set exactly once, and then would not even attempt the poles again. He normally loves the weave poles. He may skip a few poles, he may enter wrong - but he loves to weave. I figured he was just burnt out, and one of the instructors told me to take him back to channeled weaves instead. I worked on channeled weaves at home, but his work was sloppy and awful: he'd pop out a lot, and very, very rarely did I get a run-thru that was passable. I was discouraged.

Then this week, my other instructor found out about it, and feared he may have sustained some kind of strain or other injury in his back, since he just suddenly stopped weaving. She had me pat down his spine, and when I got over his very lower back, he flinched and backed away from me. She went to feel for herself, but Popper had wised on to us, and sat on my feet with his spine pressed into my legs. So, the chiropractor, who was JUST at our building the day before, and whom I had JUST seen to get Merlin's back adjusted, is being located at one of her many stops so I can make an appointment to get Popper's back possibly adjusted.

Hopefully, that's all it is. Both on the weaving front, and on the injury issue as well. We already take Merlin to get adjusted, so taking Popper too isn't a large problem (other than he is very excitable and clingy while we're there). However, if I continue to have problems with Popper's back, I may remove the weave poles entirely from his agility life and we'll just do level one forever. :) I don't anticipate this will happen, but then I never thought Popper would strain his back either. He was perfectly happy jumping, leaping, climbing, etc last night. Just would not weave. He did exactly one pole, and then ran alongside them.

Monday, November 9

Weird dream...

Last night I had a really strange dream...

I was playing paintball with some friends, but instead of a regular paintball field, we were playing above a huge indoor swimming pool. I don't think they make pools as large as this one was, LOL. There were metal railings everywhere to walk on, so footing was treacherous. As I progressed along, tagging more people, I would find my dogs, swimming in the big pool. First there was Roofus, who was pretty happily treading water, and then I found Popper.

The next dog was Merlin - but he was underwater and not moving. I started screaming, jumped in the water, and began to pull him out. Even as I did so, I realized, it wasn't Merlin, but some other corgi, a female, that had a tail. After she was free of the water, she started sputtering and moving around again. I found her mom, who was nearby, crying, and so happy I'd saved her dog.

And that was my dream.

And I've been hugging Merlin and watching him very carefully, as if he'll somehow wander into some water. In November. Inside my house.

Corgis are NOT strong swimmers (legs are too short!) so be sure to carefully supervise your pooch any time they are in or around water.

And no, I have no idea what my dream means.

Friday, November 6

It sure is cold... hey, wait a minute!

The past few nights, I've been waking up in the middle of the night, shivering. I curl into the fetal position, grab my fleece blanket I have on standby just in case, and go back to sleep. When I wake up for the day, I only have a vague recollection of being cold at some point.

Two nights ago, I figured out what's happening.

Popper is the only dog that sleeps on my bed all night long. He has super short fur, and it's kind of thin, so he usually wears a sweater in the winter. Apparently, he's been dragging my comforter off of me and nesting it into a cozy bed. Last night, I got the hint, and turned on my heating blanket before laying down for the night.

This morning, my comforter was where it was supposed to be, and I was toasty. Apparently Popper was too.

Now I just need to remember that when Popper begins stealing my blankets, it's the time of year to turn the electric blanket on!

Thursday, November 5

Rally and Agility

Roofus had a daytime rally class this morning. It went even better than the last one! He seems to be picking things up very quickly (unusual for him), which is no doubt because he is extremely eager to please. The only problem is that I have to have a treat in my hand the whole time, because he is very easily distracted at this stage. He saw we were being followed by a "judge," and proceeded to go visit her and root through her pockets looking for treats, LOL. He also doesn't like the door opening and closing at the building... He has a very strong flock guardian instinct, and he constantly has to know where everyone is. When people come or go, he feels like he needs to bark at them. I figure he's a bit annoyed that they didn't announce their plans to him beforehand.

One of the teachers told me Roofus is an awesome working dog and that he's going to do really well in Rally. I think he is too. :D In January, I'm going to sign up for Rally classes with Kym at Anything Goes for Dogs in addition to the informal classes at BRAG. She has such a positive, upbeat training style and Roofus responds really well to it!

Last night was week three of Popper and Merlin's agility classes, and they swapped good nights again. I'd love to have a good night with both of them, but apparently that's not to be. Last night was Merlin's great night. He had a crappy contact on the a-frame, but he did really, really well overall. Several instructors told me I need to trust Merlin more and give him some space. I'm really working on it, and I know I CAN trust Merlin, but I don't have quite the same relationship with Merlin that I do with Popper, so it will take some time on my part. I've also got to remember that while Popper may like me super close while he runs, Merlin would prefer I just let him do it without breathing down his neck. It's kind of hard to have dogs with such differences!

Popper's night was almost miserable. The highlight of his class was his beautiful rear crosses into tunnels. He used to be absolutely terrified of them, but I took a private lesson with Kym at Anything Goes for Dogs and we drilled them with tons of treats. I practiced big time at home, and they're just gorgeous now. He has no hesitation at all. However, that's pretty much the only time we can do a rear cross. I'd say 75% of the time, he's very scared if I try such a manuever with him. He'll stop running, put his ears down, tuck his tail, and look for all the world like I just beat my dog. Everyone tells me that with time he'll gain confidence and those reactions will fade. I sure hope so.

Popper also completely died on the weave poles. We've been having this problem, with 12 poles specifically, where he will speed up towards the end, and end up skipping poles. I've been working with him, but I can't seem to fix it. We got to class last night, and he did the poles once and absolutely refused to do them again. One of the instructors told me to reteach the weave poles, that it happens to everybody at some point. Sigh... I wish I had twelve poles of a matching set. Right now I have 2 sets of six - one is a very nice channel weave set, the other is a cheapo PVC set that doesn't channel, but bends. So I can't run 12 channeled poles at once, they have to be straight. And I think that's what I really need to do. I also wonder if having some word I can say while he is weaving would keep his spirit up and keep driving him. He has to CONSTANTLY be reassured and complimented while we run, or he loses interest and starts sniffing. Disengages. I think 12 poles may be too long for his beagley mind to go without something from me.

So, to sum up - Merlin's doing great, Popper's having some setbacks, and Roofus loves Rally. :)