Saturday, January 31, 2009

Misty goes to school

Misty had her first day of school today. She was a bit nervous, as I expected, but she did well. Misty's class has a couple lab puppies, a jack russell/poodle mix (cute), a blind pug, and another blue merle sheltie(who kinda looks like Ludo)! The other sheltie was even more nervous than Misty. Poor thing.

We started off with easy stuff - name recognition, touch the target, touch our hand. Then, we had the dogs walk a board. I've been having Misty do that at home (leaf in the table, not an actual board). She got on and walked, but never made it down the whole thing without letting a paw off. Still, she did good. I've seen dogs refuse to walk the board at all.

Finally, we ended with a small tunnel. The other shetlie went ahead of us, and had a really hard time going through. I cheered when he finally went through, with the lure of some warm meatball. Misty went right through the tunnel, so I was really proud of her, and she even did some tail wagging afterward.

Oreo barked a bit in the crate while Misty's class was going on, but not as bad as I had feared. I had planned on putting him in the car if he got too obnoxious. For the most part, he was patient.

Oreo's class had only 2 dogs show up today, so we got a lot of time on the equipment. We practiced a lot of sequencing, and Oreo did well. We did jumps with "wings" for the first time. I almost ran right into them a couple times. Oreo did OK with them, until we got to the jump by the heater, then I used a treat filled container to throw over the jump and that seemed to work.

Then, my teacher wanted to see Oreo weave. Most of the other dogs in our class had been learning to channel weave, which I think had been confusing Oreo since he already knows how to weave. The other dog at class today is learning the 2x2 method. So, today was the perfect day for both dogs to practice their own method. Our teacher seemed happy with Oreo's weaving, and asked what method he had learned. Uh, pulling him through the poles with a squeaky toy? Is that a method? It seems to have worked. She said his entries are very consistent. Yea.

At the end of class we did a bit more "go on" work. That didn't go so well. My teacher told me to bring his ball to class next week. Then, we did baby snakes! One of our favorites! Thanks to Lian, Oreo flew right through that exercise. We've been practicing baby snakes for months, since Lian emailed us the diagram. Where's the easy button when you need it?

When we got home, both dogs were completely exhausted!

My agility teacher gave me a video she took during one of our classes last December. It wasn't Oreo's greatest performance, especially compared to how he was doing today. I thought I'd share it anyway. You can see how all the distractions really get to him. He avoids a couple jumps, because a woman is sitting in the corner. He also does some tunnel refusals, which did not happen today, I think because I was running faster and didn't slow down at the tunnel (as per my teacher's instructions). She said, "Trust your dog to know what he is doing." Diana gave me the same advice the other day about weaving. So much to learn.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New TV

My Dad made a request for me to post photos of our new TV. Weird.

What is it with the male obsession over big TVs? Is it genetic? If so, it must be linked to the gene where they also are obsessed with watching men ram into each other on the field/rink/court, and driving cars/motorcycles/bicycles on endless laps to nowhere, with secret hopes they will see them ram into each other or crash into a wall.

I guess the bigger TV, allows them to see all this ramming, pushing, shoving, circling, and crashing better!
New TV in "Jeff's Room"
The dogs watching their favorite programming - themselves!
endless road to nowhere
Oooo, looks like there may be a crash!!!

OK, don't tell Jeff, but the TV is really nice! The picture is great, and it does take up a lot less room than the old kind, with the big rear end.

So Dad, when the Tour de France is on, feel free to come on over, and watch the sweat drip off the riders in all that high def glory.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

After the storm

The storm has gone, the sun came out, and left us with very crunchy snow. The dogs can stand on top of the snow for the most part, while I break right through. Not much fun to play in. We prefer fluffy snow.

We are glad we didn't get as much ice as other parts of the country. Being without power is the worst - we were there last month. I read some people may be without power until mid February!

What I want to know is where is this global warming I keep hearing about, and when am I going to start feeling it? Or is that what is causing all these horrible ice storms???? Hmmmm.

"Look, I'm walking on 12 inches of snow!"

"This table gives us a good view of things."

Watching Daddy shovel.
"Hey, you missed a spot!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

another snow day

We are having another snow day. This is my 4th for the school year. I don't remember ever having four snow days this early in the season. How many will we have used when we get that big 20 inch storm at the end of March (it is inevitable)? Hope this doesn't mean we lose days off our Spring Break.

In NYS, this is Regents Exam week for high school kids. No classes, just exams. Many of my students took Part One of their English Regents exam yesterday afternoon, which they need to pass to graduate from High School. Part 2 was supposed to be today. I am not sure what will happen now. I fear they may make all the kids retake the whole exam in June. Boy, will that cause some grumbling, and with good reason. They worked their butts off yesterday writing essays. I was so proud of them. Some of them had three exams in one day. Hopefully, the state will come up with an emergency plan, since so many school across the state had to close today.
These photos were taken this morning, before the storm really started cranking. It has been such a slow moving storm, I think we could have made it in and out of school, since the plows have been able to keep up with it. It is hard to know what will happen though when they make the decision to close at 6 in the morning.
The dogs were happy to have me home!

"I dare you to come out from behind that fence Oreo!"

"I'm gonna get you!"

"I may be old, but I can still keep up with you!"

"I rule."

garbage night

Jeff came home from work last night with a big, new flat screen TV. He had been eyeing one that was on sale at Target on Sunday. So, I was not really surprised to see it make its way through our front door.

Before Jeff could get his first sentence of explanation out, "I just had to buy it....don't worry, I already have our other TV sold.....", I jumped in and said, "Um, did you bring the garbage down?"

Jeff looked at me, laughed, and said, "No, not yet. That's all you have to say? Did I bring the garbage down? I need a blog, because that is the funniest thing I have ever heard."

So, since he doesn't have a blog, I'm putting it on mine. I wonder what he thought I was going to say. It was garbage night!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letter Game

Oreo and Misty been asked to play the Letter game by Josh and Jess, our sheltie friends in NZ.

They gave us the letter "O", hmmm wonder where they got that idea? Now we have to come up with 5 things we like, don't like, or anything that comes to mind that starts with the letter "O".

So here goes (in the dogs' own words):

1. ORBEE- Oreo says, "Its the best ball in the whole wide world, universe, galaxy, etc."

Misty says, "I hate that ball, I'm constantly getting bonked on the head with it."

2. OLD Mother Hubbard Bac N'Cheez biscuits - our 7:30PM snack, that we constantly have to remind Daddy to get up and get us. Geez....what a dog has to do to eat around here.

3. ODORS - good, bad, sour, sweet, foul...bring em on! We love all odors, except cayenne pepper. Achoo.

4. OUTSIDE - love, love, love to be outside!!!!!!

5. OBEDIENT - Ha! That's funny. Mommy thinks she is teaching us to be obedient, but really we have her wrapped around our paws. I mean really, look who's picking up the poop around here.

So, now we are going to ask our buddies in the UK (we'll keep it an international game), the Knight's shelties to play, and give them the letter "S"!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Misty caught the bug

Something happened overnight. Misty caught the agility bug!

I came home from work today, and Misty was raring to go on the agility obstacles. She was flying around the yard, without the treats! Don't know what has brought this on...perhaps the cold weather?
I just had to post another video to show her enthusiasm. Even the teeter was done without luring her with a treat! Not even one in my pocket!

Our course set up was less than ideal, but I was trying to fit everything on camera.

Go on

Below is a video of some of our agility practice from Sunday afternoon.

Oreo and I worked on our new "go on" command. I used treats today, but tomorrow I will switch to his ball. After watching the video, I can see he is too focused on coming back to me for his food. I tried baiting a target and putting it at the end of the jumps, but that wasn't working. I think the clear target was blending in with the snow, because Oreo kept running off to the side looking for the target, as if he had no clue where the target actually was. Strange, because I had shown the target to him before I brought him back to the jumps. All the whiteness can be blinding at times.

Now that I know Oreo understands what I mean by "go on", we will just make it a game with his ball. He'll be happier in the long run. We'll stick to using the treats at school, and the ball at home.

I also need to remember my hand signal, at one point my hand looked like a floppy fish, what's up with that???

Since I had the food outside, I thought it was a good time to refresh Misty on some things, so she will be at the head of her beginner's class! The video includes her teeter practice.

Misty is very scared of loud noises, i.e. thunderstorms, fireworks, gunshots. So, I want her to get used to the "bang" noise as much as possible before we get to the school building, where the sound will echo. I will also work on some target training with her inside during the week.

If our practices seem very chaotic and silly~they are. I am not a regimented person when it comes to my students or my dogs. My agility teacher made me feel better about this yesterday when she actually brought her dog to our class to play on the teeter, to encourage another dog to do the same. The dog in our class was scared of the teeter, and had been hesitant to get on. The playtime the teacher encouraged was completely chaotic and ridiculous, but in the end the dog was more comfortable putting his paws on the teeter. He wanted to be just like his friend. Whatever works, as long they're having fun and not getting hurt.

You can see it is still cold here. I fear this is another video where my nephew, Miles, will be saying, "Where's Sara's face?"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

photo challenge

Josh and Jess put out a challenge for us to post funny photos of our dogs caught sleeping.

When Oreo was a puppy, he loved to climb in his toy basket and take a nap. He has always loved his toys. Sometimes, I didn't even realize he was in his basket, he just kind of blended in with all those stuffed animals.

14 weeks old

9 weeks old

back to school

Our first day back to school began as a nightmare! The one road I usually take to get there was completely blocked off by the power company, and no detour was set up. I thought I could just loop around and pick up the road a bit further up the road, but somehow I picked it up too far down. Needless to say, I was LOST! How I wished I had brought a GPS with me. Oh, and if you are thinking, "Why didn't she stop to ask for directions?" There is nothing on these roads, but trees and the occasional trailer. After driving around aimlessly for 15 minutes, I recognized something (local racecar track) and knew where I was, but wasn't sure how to get to the school from that point. I fished around on the floor of my car (good thing I never clean my car), and found the directions I had printed out off the school's website. They had directions from various points in the area, so luckily I was able to figure it out. Our half hour trip ended up being 50 minutes, so we arrived late, and I was frustrated.

I was hoping Oreo wasn't picking up on my stress level. We started class with a refresher of contacts on the A-frame. Then did a jump, chute, A-Frame sequence. Oreo did it all with no problem. Then we did some table practice, especially getting the dogs to go to an immediate down. We did the table with a tire, tunnel sequence. Finally, we worked on the "go on" command.

I thought Oreo would get an "F" on that quiz! Wrong! He actually did really well. I baited a target, brought him to the opposite end, said "go on", and Oreo went over three jumps without me moving a muscle. I was so impressed. Usually, he is not that food motivated, and is typically so nervous in class that he wants to be by my side. Granted the teacher kept her distance (she is so understanding about that), and the rest of the class was at the opposite end of the building. Still, I was very proud of him. We will work on this some more at home this week.

Overall, I was really happy with Oreo's progress and confidence level.

The class went almost two hours, so I thought for sure the road would be open on our way home. Wrong! Still no detour! Ugh. Running out of gas. It's getting dark.

This time, I chose the right side road (I used to tutor at a group home on the road I turned on), and only added about five minutes to my trip home!

Note to self: never leave home without GPS.

I'm so lost! Where am I?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


My agility teacher is starting a new beginners class, right after Oreo's beyond beginners class, starting next Saturday. I decided to sign Misty up for it. Why should Oreo be the only one getting extra treats and time with me?

I think Misty will like the class, since it is such a positive atmosphere and food oriented.

Oreo's first day back to school is this afternoon. I'm hoping we have a good class. Misty will start next Saturday.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

more weaving

I've been watching Diana and Miley doing some really amazing weave entries, and they inspired me to start challenging Oreo with something new.

I have always set Oreo up for weave entries by being right next to him, or at least positioning him to the right of the first pole, usually straight on.

This afternoon, I sent him over some jumps, and then had him go around me to the weave poles. Now when we were doing this, I was so proud of him! He seemed so far away from me! I couldn't believe he knew where to go.

Then, I watched the video, and it really didn't look all that impressive. I'll blame it on the camera angle!Regardless, I feel we've made progress.

The end of the video shows Misty doing some jumps. I know I have some die hard Misty fans out there (my mom being one of them)! Misty went to the vet today for a recheck on her polyp. So far, so good. It hasn't gone away completely (it is really minuscule), but it hasn't grown either. She will go back again in a month.
Jeff said I woke the whole neighborhood up this morning with my "weave, weave, weave, weave,....good boy!" Oh well. It was 7:30, everyone should be up by then!

Monday, January 19, 2009


It is above freezing!!!!!!

Finally! I got the agility equipment back out of the shed. I set up the entire set of 12 weave poles for the first time.

Oreo was raring to go! He flew through those poles like he has always done twelve.

Maybe it was good to have such a long break. He was truly excited to be out weaving. Have to admit, I was excited too. Teaching tricks has passed the time, but its not nearly as fun as agility.

Let me say that running in fluffy snow is exhausting. I am fighting off a cold, and probably should have been inside on the couch drinking tea, but I had to seize the day. A day off, warm weather, no ice, no mud, no boots to put on paws ~ couldn't pass it up.

Here is a video of Oreo's first try at 12 weave poles (and Misty's too).

I signed Oreo and I up to take a "small dog motivation and handling seminar" in February. I'm pretty excited about it, and am hoping we learn some new strategies to help boost Oreo's confidence when he's doing agility in places other than our backyard.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

cross paws and easy button

Misty has learned the "easy button", at least while she is lying down and the button is in close proximity.

Here, the dogs are doing a very complicated cross paws, easy button, double dog trick. OK, not really, they were just both trying to hit the easy button at the same time. Too bad Oreo's eyes were closed, because I don't know if I will ever get another shot like this again!

I think I need to teach Oreo how to "uncross". He does get a little OCD about doing tricks. Once Oreo figures out what you want him to do, he can't seem to stop. You'd think the dog never has a meal.

The weather is supposed to warm up into the 20's today! Yea! Plus, we're getting a few more inches of fresh snow. What a crazy winter it has been. Only 61 days 'til springfest!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

welcome home

Every time I come home, whether it be from a full day of work, or a quick trip out for milk, I am always welcomed home by Oreo and Misty in the same way.

If you have a dog, I am sure you will appreciate this video. No matter what kind of day you've had, there your dogs are ~ waiting and ever so happy to see you, as if you've been gone for weeks.

So, here is my third installment in my favorite things my dogs do every day series.

Sorry this video is so shaky. I do much better with the tripod! Plus, the dogs were all over the place.

I don't know why I keep choosing country music to go along with these silly videos. I really don't listen to country music, but it seems to fit my dogs. Be glad you aren't listening to them barking!

After this greeting, we always head out to the yard to play. Yesterday, it was 17 degrees. A boot day. As I write this, it is -2. I read on another blog that there is something called "photographer's gloves". I need to get some of those.

Friday, January 16, 2009

two tricks in one

It is really cold here. Today's high will be 10, Saturday's 11. Boots for the dogs have become necessary again, even for short trips outside.

My agility class is cancelled for the weekend due to the frigid temps. I guess the dirt floor inside the building is frozen solid, even with the heat on. So, we will have to wait another week to get back to school.

Thus, we are stuck indoors, practicing tricks and running laps in the hallway!

Misty is making progress on the elephant trick, in her own slo-mo style. Yesterday, I decided to see if Oreo could be an elephant and then press the easy button. He did.

In fact, whenever Oreo wants my attention now, he presses the easy button. I may regret teaching him that trick.....

(The dogs decided to do a double dog elephant trick this morning. It was pretty cute. Once Misty gets better, I will definitely work on that. Of course, I think it happened purely out of jealousy, and obsession over the salmon mini treat. )

Monday, January 12, 2009

more snow

We got another 8 inches of snow. I was a bit happy, because our yard had been covered in a thick layer of ice. The dogs could barely walk, let alone play, which they were desperate to do. Believe it or not, the snow now gives them some traction. The temps warmed up to the low 30's Sunday afternoon, which felt really warm! Really!

Unfortunately, the high later this week is supposed to be 8 degrees (that's farenheit folks). I'm afraid my first agility class of the year might be cancelled this Saturday, because of the frigid temperatures. They have a propane heater for the building, but I don't know if it will be able to warm the building up enough to make it bearable.

If the class isn't cancelled, I'll be there in my long johns, hat, and ski mask. Oreo will wear his lovely black and white fur coat (and maybe his Lands' End squall jacket). For now, we'll enjoy the balmy 30's while we can.
"Catch me....I dare ya!"

"Whoa, this stuff is deeper than I thought"

"Where did she come from?"

"Darn, Misty always gets the last nip in, I'm going to go get my ball."

"Come on Mommy, let's play"

"Hey Mommy, what's this warm stuff on my face? The sun? I don't think I've felt that in months!"

"If you take your glove off to snap photos, it's free game. By the way, I think there's slobber on the lens."

"Life is good."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

that was easy

Ricky had shared a link with a method on teaching your dog to cross his paws. Well, the video gave me an idea for a whole new trick!

I couldn't wait to go to work the next day, so I could bring home one of my Staples "easy buttons". I have several.

If you don't know what an easy button is, you will soon find out (when you watch my video). I use them in my classroom all the time, for various purposes. Mostly, I use it after a student finally learns something they have been struggling with for a long time. I say, "Oh, we need the easy button!" They always laugh when I pull it out of my drawer, and tell them to "press the button".

I started working Oreo on this trick last night, and by this afternoon, he already knows what to do. I am still rewarding him just for getting his paw on the button, even if he doesn't press it hard enough. He is a tiny dog, and it does take some effort to depress.

Staples just came out with a Spanish version of the easy button. I have been waiting for that forever. I ordered one today! So, Oreo will be bilingual. Kind of.

I can't wait to show my students this video on Monday! I think they'll get a kick out of it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

sit, down, roll over

This is the second post in my "what my dogs do everyday" series. My first installment was my dinner and a cookie post. Stayed tuned for more to come, as I document my favorite things that my dogs do everyday.

When Oreo was a puppy, I trained him to sit and lie down by using his favorite ball. We still practice these skills with the ball every day. Oreo can do the commands without the ball when I really need him to, but I figure when we're just practicing we might as well have fun. Training has always been, and always will be a game for me and Oreo.

Being a special ed teacher for almost 15 years (yikes!), has taught me that making learning fun really works with kids, so why wouldn't it work with dogs? I know if I review for a test by playing a game of Bingo or Jeopardy, the kids do much better than if you had just gone over the information verbally. Plus, it is way more fun for me, although a bit more prepwork.

Here is a video of our obedience practice, if you can call it that. I love the way Oreo flops and slides himself on the ground when he goes into the down position. We always throw "stay" and "come" into this mix too, but it was too hard to video that with the tripod.

Misty usually gets involved with the stay/come activity, but otherwise she just watches us in disbelief or goes to the window and watches the world go by. You will notice her try and nip Oreo a couple times, when he gets a bit too close. She always keeps him in line. My little babysitter.

"Just watching Oreo is exhausting. I can barely keep my eyes open."

Full Moon

Tomorrow night may be a full moon, but Oreo has made sure that this moon won't be shining tonight...

This toy has already been resewn several times. I only paid $1. Do you think it is time to just throw it out?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

give a paw

I was inspired by Lian's post of 3 of her shelties learning how to cross their front paws.

I had a snow day today(another ice storm), so I thought I would start teaching Misty and Oreo.

Gasp! I've never even taught Oreo how to give me his paw! So, I had to start with that. Luckily, Oreo picked up on that pretty quickly. Give a paw, is the one trick Misty knows. Whew!

I decided to start with a down and give a paw, without crossing. It seems like a pretty awkward position for them to be in. Neither dog really wanted to lift their paw up at first. Eventually, they got it.

Tomorrow, I'll start working on the "cross" command and doing the hand lure like Lian did. Making a video allowed me to see that Misty is definitely a lefty, while Oreo prefers his left paw, but is a bit more ambidextrous. This will help when I move on to the cross command.

Here is a video of our progress so far:

Oreo is such a camera hog. Luckily, you can at least see Misty's paw! I apologize in advance for my annoying kindergarten teacher voice. I don't know where that comes from. I teach high school, and if I ever spoke to my students in that voice they would lock me in a closet. If I had my new video software, I would be able to edit my voice out! Hopefully, I'll get the software in the mail tomorrow, but it will be a day too late for your ears.

Clearly, we still have some work ahead of us, but I thought the dogs were so cute lifting their paws up. Anything for a Zuke's mini treat.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

dinner and a cookie

Sometimes the things I love best about my dogs, are the simple things they do every day. And I do mean everyday.

I have decided to start recording these on video, because I know someday I will wish I had!

Here is a video of Oreo and Misty waiting for their dinner, and then their after dinner cookie! Make sure you watch 'til the end to see Oreo prove that black and white dogs can jump. Clearly, he could pull any item off the kitchen counter.

I am sure many a dog trainer would not approve of these pre-dinner antics, but after having a dog who spent the last year of his life not really wanting to eat, it is so refreshing to have two dogs who are so enthusiastic.

I mean, don't you wish most humans could get this excited about having the same thing to eat everyday? Twice a day?

Simple pleasures for these creatures.

I lost count of how many times Oreo circled the table (and me) before he got his dinner. Maybe one of my nephews could count and get extra credit at school or something.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

9 weave poles

I decided to bring 3 of my indoor weave poles outside today, and hook them up to our 6 outdoor ones. Oreo has always done just 6 poles, but he has been flying through them. I felt it was time for more of a challenge.

Today was the day.

He really had no problem with the extra 3. He popped out at the last pole a couple times and missed his entry by 3 poles (weird) twice, but other than that he seemed unfazed by the additional 3.

Of course I had to get out the video, because I am a video taping fool!

I found some free video software on my computer. I hate it!

However, I was able to at least get a standard video together. I was unable to trim out anything, let alone, multi trim and get fancy like I am accustomed too. I am so spoiled.

(In the first clip, it looks like Oreo entered on the left, but it must just be the camera angle - he did it perfectly ~no lie)

I am glad I shut off the camera for when we were practicing weaving with me on Oreo's right side. That did not go nearly as well. Boy is that a disability for me (good thing I am a special ed teacher). I just can not do anything on my left side. Someday I will video that, just for your amusement!

Anyway, I think if the weather holds up (they are calling for freezing rain tomorrow), we will have to try all 12.

Oh yeah, I have to go back to work tomorrow. That is going to put a damper on things. 12 days off has been wonderful.
Finally, a sleeping dog, after all that weaving.

no videos, but I can do photos

I can't post videos, but I can do photos. I tried so hard to get a photo of the dogs jumping over the same bar at the same time, to no avail. Oh well, I'll keep trying. I got some cute photos anyway.

I crashed my laptop yesterday, and now it is running smoothly again. Jeff ordered himself a mini laptop. He says he is not going to let me touch it, because he is convinced I did something to cause the virus! I don't know what websites he thinks I am going on....Unless it has to do with dogs, I'm not going there! Ha!

Anyway, have you seen those mini laptops? They are so cool.

Originally, the laptop, camera, and video recorder were all Jeff's, but before long, they all became mine. Wonder if the same will happen with the mini laptop....

This photo was a complete mistake, but I loved it!

Misty jumps! Oreo still has to be the center of attention.

Misty gives Oreo an 8.5 for this jump.

Double dog jumping? Almost...