Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oreo update

Boy does Oreo feel loved. Thanks again for all your concern about Oreo's health. He is feeling great now!

Big thanks to Laura for suggesting the pumpkin. I've used that with Misty before, but never thought to use it when Oreo has tummy problems. Honestly, I didn't think he'd eat it.

Wrong! Oreo loved the pumpkin, and after I started mixing it in with the chicken/rice, he really started getting better.

I'll be keeping a couple cans in my cupboard from now on.

Add some pedialyte (delivered via syringe), and I've nursed my dog back to health! Whew. It has been a long couple weeks between the two of us being sick.

Our agility plan for this week was class on Wednesday, run thrus at trial site Thursday, CPE trial on Saturday.

I may skip class tonight and just do the run thrus tomorrow. I'm still not feeling 100%, and I think I need to get some nutrients in Oreo's system.

Unfortunately, storms are in the forecast. Hopefully, they don't ruin any of our fun! I feel like we haven't done agility in FOREVER! I think its been a week and a half! I pulled our weave poles out today to see if Oreo remembered how to do them, and he went super fast. So, I'm not worried about being unprepared for our trial. Oreo knows his stuff. Maybe the time off has been good.

wordless wednesday

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tricky T-day ~ Misty's Day

As promised, Misty is the star this week.

Since I had a bunch of boiled chicken for Oreo's sore tummy, I thought I would use that as Misty's reward. Figured it would get her focused and working hard.

Yeah. It backfired. She was focused.....on THE FOOD.

I was a bit disappointed in her performance, she was slow and distracted, but sweet as usual.

Here she is doing figure eights, leg weaves and a trick she created herself. I have to be very careful when doing leg weaves with her. If I pick my back leg up too soon, she gets scared and runs away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3b5bpcDQks



Thank you for all your get well wishes for Oreo. As you can see in the video, despite being under the weather, Oreo still hasn't lost spunk. Of course, he was tied to the coffee table!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oreo's sick

OK, I think I've finally gotten myself over the flu bug, and now Oreo is sick. Nasty diarrhea and such...even though he's been eating chicken and rice for three days.
Major bummer, because we have lots of agility stuff coming up this week.

Last night I actually sent him to bed without his supper, in hope that resting his system would do him so good. Oh, the guilt. I had Jeff feed Misty, while I hung out with Oreo in the bedroom. I'm hoping he's on the mend soon. Looks like a trip to the vet is on our agenda today.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

dog puzzle

I got Oreo the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick game for his birthday.

Oreo figured the puzzle out very quickly. I was able to put it at the hardest setting in our first try at the puzzle.

Jeff and I watched in awe as he figured out how to slide the bricks back and forth.

Here is Oreo's first try with the puzzle. However, if you want to just watch one video, watch Misty's below.

video
Misty.....well, she always will have her looks.

I had to take things slower with her. Good thing I'm a special ed teacher. I know all about making testing modifications!

Here is sweet Misty's try at at puzzle:
video
She got it to the best of her ability.

For Christmas, Oreo got the "tornado" puzzle. Can't wait to try that one.



Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


"Peace begins with a smile. " ~Mother Teresa
video
Peace on earth. Goodwill to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Sale

My "life with Jeff" series typically has me poking fun at my husband. He's amusing. He does crazy things. Life is never dull.

He's also a really good guy.

Last Christmas, we bought a few gifts for families in need that my school had adopted. Jeff really enjoyed picking out an RC car for a young boy.

I think the experience inspired Jeff. This year, with the help of a co-worker, Jeff adopted an entire family at his place of business.

The family wasn't asking for anything fancy. Basic necessities, like towels, sheets, blankets and clothes. The two young girls wanted some books, board games & coloring books.

Jeff and I had fun going to Target, filling our cart with pink comforters, cheerful yellow towels, and some classic board games.

When I was tempted to throw something slightly more expensive or luxurious in the cart, Jeff would remind me, "We need to keep it simple, we could use that money to buy them something else they need."

The mother put nothing on the list for herself. Jeff decided to collect money from his coworkers to purchase a gift card to a local grocery store.

At first, Jeff felt his co-workers weren't "stepping up to the plate". Thus, encouraging Jeff to treat this venture as if it were another sale to be made. He went around collecting money and asking people to buy gifts for the two young girls, using his best "pitch". Jeff knew that not everyone could afford to spend as much as we had, but he felt if his co-workers could buy a pack of cigarettes, a fancy cup of coffee, or a fast food meal for lunch, they could donate a few dollars. He's not afraid to point this out to them either.

Believe me, Jeff can be convincing. He's a gifted salesman.

A few days ago, Jeff came home from work, and I asked how his day was.

"Good. Busy, " he said.

"Really?" I was surprised, things are usually slow this time of year.

"Yes, I was wrapping presents all day. Everyone at work really pulled through. This family is going to have the best Christmas. I wish I could be there to see it."

Perhaps, this was Jeff's best sale ever.



"For it is in giving that we receive." ~ Francis of Assisi



Now....on a lighter note, click on this link to see my dogs dancing in elf costumes. Yes really. You will not believe Misty! Beware though.....you are going to be tempted to "elf" your own family members.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Oreo!

Today is Oreo's 3rd Birthday (how did that happen?)

Here is this year's highlight reel, of my silly, fun loving dog, showing his true colors...as long as there are no scary lions lurking about!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1H9C_IVPrY


I posted it two ways, because youtube was saying my video might not be visible in "some countries". It didn't tell me WHAT countries. That would have been helpful information. The US? or Timbuktu?

video

Happy Birthday Buddy! You are the epitome of JOY!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

tricky t-day ~ more leaping

As promised, here is Oreo learning to leap over Mommy. Boy, it is hard to teach and be the object at the same time!

video
Good thing I got this video ready last week. I've been sick with the flu. The only way I'd get in that position right now is if my head was hanging over the toilet.

Misty has been making progress on some leg weaving. I think I'll make her the star next week. The last tricky t-day of the year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

breaking the rules

Our league runs went well today. I didn't get them videoed. Honestly, I thought I was going to have "Oreo freak boy" today, given we were in a new place. I didn't want to watch another video of my dog scared out of his wits.

Oreo surprised me, yet again.

Not that our standard run was perfect. After the teeter, Oreo went around one jump, and dropped a bar. Plus, we missed the obstacle discrimination. Oreo tunneled, instead of taking the dogwalk. Seems to be a trend!

Still, Oreo was moving along. I thought the run was going to be more like our first week of league, where my dog was scared out of his mind. I was pleasantly surprised.

I think the missed jump/dropped bar were due to many items being stored in close proximity to those jumps. They were behind flexi gates, but still visible. I also felt Oreo was a bit confused with the rubber matting. His gait sounded funny to me. That may be why he dropped the bar.

However, Oreo did not seem too distracted or nervous about the large amount of people.

Progress.

There was a lovely crating room at this facility. However, when I walked in, saw the activity, and heard the noise level, I knew it was no place for my dog! Oreo stayed in the car until it was time for the 12 inch dogs to run.

Our games run was one of those design your own course/strategy games. ARGH! I have no strategic skills!

I studied the map, and couldn't come up with a smooth, flowy pattern that would satisfy the requirements of the game.

I knew if I devised a strategy, I would be stressed out about it. Too much thinking! A choppy course would stress Oreo.

Since I was planning to use treats anyway, I decided to just run a straight line of ten obstacles. Forget about the rules of the game. Our run wasn't going to count toward any team points anyway, since I was using food in the ring.

We had 50 seconds to be in the ring, but the buzzer they were using had a horrible sound. I wanted to make sure we were out of there before it rang! I fed Oreo meatballs after the dogwalk (2 times), tunnels, and weave poles. Oreo seemed really surprised by all the rewards, and short course!


I was happy with my decision, because I wasn't stressed. Plus, Oreo didn't skip obstacles, hesitate, or drop any bars. As a bonus, we beat the annoying buzzer!

After our last jump, I heard the "judge" say, "Nice Job!" It is nice to hear that support, especially when you are breaking all the rules! Guess that is what leagues are all about. Doing what is right for your dog.

I went home with a happy dog.

2 happy dogs

Next time, I won't be afraid to get a video of our run!

Friday, December 18, 2009

bi-polar dog

My agility class was interesting on Wednesday. We did a cool course, with an obstacle discrimination and lots of tunnels.

On Oreo's first run, he did awesome! He flew through the course, and even went thru the chute, which we do so seldomly.

After our run, I had him off leash, as I was expecting him to follow me right to his pen. However, I turned and found him running back to the course. He looked so happy, so I let him stay out there while I helped set bars. Oreo did a couple tunnels & jumps on his own, and I rewarded him for that. I was pleased to see him so at ease with other people in the ring.

Our second run was polar opposite. He was freak boy! Went around obstacles. Skittish. Nervous.

What the heck? What happened?

My teacher's husband had come in they building between the first & second run.

Hmmmm. This had happened before, and I hadn't believed the connection.

Now, I had to admit there was a correlation, even though Oreo has seen her husband countless times.

While waiting for our next turn, I sat down next to her husband, and fed Oreo treats. Then, her husband offered Oreo treats. Shockingly, Oreo took them and actually ate them! They weren't even MY treats. Usually, Oreo will only eat treats that have come from my treat bag. Guess that is how Oreo ensures they aren't poisonous.

Then, I put Oreo on the floor. My teacher's husband was kind enough to kneel down and offer Oreo some more treats. Oreo didn't eagerly walk up to him, but he shyly made his way to his hand and ate some treats. Then, quickly shirked back.

Certainly not Labrador friendliness, but I was happy Oreo was taking the food, all on his own.

Right before our next run, I brought Oreo out on the course. Teacher's husband was out setting bars. I fed Oreo more treats. Then, teacher's husband came over, knelt down and offered Oreo more treats. Oreo walked forward and took them with a tiny bit more confidence.

Off we went on our run.

No more freak boy. We did the whole course, and only missed the discrimination. Still working on those.

After that, I called it a night. I figured I had asked a lot from Oreo, and we had accomplished a lot.

Many thanks to my teacher's husband for being so kind and patient with Oreo. Maybe one day Oreo will even like you!

Now I have put Oreo to work studying the course maps for Saturday's league match!

I'm planning on "Eing" both runs this weekend. I didn't treat at all last weekend during our runs, and we have a trial coming up in two weeks. Therefore, I think giving him treats during his runs on Saturday would be a good surprise, and also soothe any nerves.

That's my plan anyway. Always subject to change!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tricky T-Day ~ Leap Frog (er....leap dog?)

Here it is. A true double dog trick!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT7cOXJTa9A


Misty hates things to go over her, so this was a big achievement for her.

If you have multiple dogs, you should try this. It's a good way for them to get some indoor exercise in the winter months.

Stay tuned for part 2....where Oreo learns to leap over Mommy. I may just show the blooper reel.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

home turf advantage!

Our second league match was a great success for us! Yea us!

I think being on home turf was a big advantage. New surroundings was one less hurdle for Oreo to have to overcome.

It was REALLY cold this morning. That meant everyone (about 50-60 people) was huddled inside the building, which isn't all that big. It was noisy & crowded. I left Oreo in the car, right up until the 12 inch dogs started.

I brought us into a corner, fed him treats, and then gave the 'ol drop & go, our new startline routine.

Here's our standard run. The only time I noticed Oreo hesitating was at one jump when he saw the "judge" (my teacher), and she was being so kind about keeping her distance! Oreo wasn't as fast as when we're in class, but he didn't seem nearly as stressed as our last league match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0DiGdpU7UQ

I was thrilled with his run. I wish the video showed all the people and how close they were to those weave poles and final jump. He did an amazing job. I think you can hear the noise level.

This is the course map for the games run. It is jumps & tunnels. When I saw it on paper, I thought it would be impossible to remember, but after I walked it 5-6 times, I felt confident I knew where I was going. Hey, is someone else finally gaining confidence too?

The judge, scribe and timer were sitting right behind the 15/17 tunnel. I thought that might be a problem for Oreo, but he didn't seem to notice much.

Oreo did great. He even had an off course! I love when that happens! Shows his independence. I couldn't believe when I watched the video that Oreo didn't even glance toward the people. I thought that was huge.

I had watched all the 8 inch dogs run, and lots of people were forgetting to do jump 16 & tunnel 17....so I made sure we did it. You'll see.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux--sqPd-n4

After the league match, we had the holiday party. Another game was set up. Two side by side courses. Two dogs would run at the same time, right next to each other, with a short fence between them.

No way, I thought. Oreo will freak.

Then I hear, "We need another 12 inch dog!!!! Oreo!" Oreo's name gets written on the board.

Guess we're playing.

Ya know what? Oreo ran like the wind! I don't think he even noticed the other dog/human team next to us. I was so proud of him.

What a day for my little guy.

Next weekend, we'll be in new territory. We'll see what happens.

If Oreo can do this well on home turf inside, imagine how he will perform outside next summer if his confidence keeps building.

We longingly dreamed of spring on our pee break, as we looked out on the abandoned agility field.



Friday, December 11, 2009

recipe

Here is the recipe for the carob chip cookies I make for my dogs:

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup molasses
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tbls vanilla
10 oz. pkg carob chips (I find these in the organic section of my grocery store)

Mix molasses & oil. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Stir in carob chips.

Drop dough by rounded tsp on ungreased baking sheet. (I use parchment paper on my air bake pans. I swear by my air bake cookie sheets!)
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-5 dozen.

Let cool....that's the torturous part!
video
My dogs love them. Here are two different ways to eat them:
video
I guess you could eat them yourself if you wanted, but I make it a practice to only eat cookies made with at least a pound of butter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Treat!

Having a surprise day off was a real treat.

The dogs were so excited to have new, fluffy snow to play in during the morning.
It is funny how it energized them. They ran their butts off, then were ready for a long winter's nap.

I was able to get a lot of stuff done! I baked some carob chip cookies for our dog friends. The cup of molasses gives it that rich color!
Got some gift wrapping done. Read a few pages of a book. Caught up on some TiVo. Did a small amount of housework (that can always wait!).

No agility class this week. I let Jeff take my car to work, since he doesn't have 4 wheel drive (yet!). My teacher cancelled class anyway!
I can't remember the last time I spent the whole day at home. Must have been during summer vacation. Huh.

We only got a few inches. Maybe 4? That's just a little more than a dusting! Not sure why we had the day off. There were lots of traffic back ups and spin outs though. People seem to forget how to drive in the snow over the summer. First storm, in rush hour traffic, always causes havoc.

Next storm, everyone will be back to normal! We just needed a refresher course in northeast winter driving 101.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

SNOW DAY!

Lucky me! I have my first snow day today!

I love my job.


special delivery

Oreo's 3rd birthday is coming up, and he got his first gift in the mail! It came all the way from Hawaii! That's where our Aunt Betty lives.


I had no idea opening a box could prove to be so entertaining. This is a ridiculously long video, I promise I won't be insulted if you don't watch! I knew my Aunt Betty would love to see it though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxwDw3albBA

Inside the box was a beautiful dog blanket from Barking Dog Blankets in Hawaii. The fabric is Hawaiian florals, black & white on one side and blues on the other. The piping around the outside is dogbones! Too cute!

We will definitely be using this in our travels. It is perfect for putting in crates, play pens, and over car seats. The reversibility factor is a real plus! Half the washings necessary! Can't wait for everyone to say, "Where did you get that?"


In the video, Oreo may have seemed more interested in the wrappings than the blanket. However, once I removed the box, tissue and raffia, Oreo curled up on the folded blanket and took a nice nap!Thanks Aunt Betty! Oreo loves his new blankie. Every scaredy dog should have their own security blanket.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tricky T-Day~Sad

I've wanted to teach this trick, where the dog puts his chin on the ground while lying down, to Oreo for over a year. I saw a border collie do it in class once, and he looked so darn cute doing it. It is something dogs do naturally, but putting it on cue has been tough for us! Oreo doesn't like to put his head down when we are training! He likes to be alert and ready!

I gave up for months.

Then, I got my target stick. I use my target stick whenever I want Oreo to put his nose in a particular place and hold it there. We used it for the "stand in the corner" and "say your prayers" tricks. It really works wonders. Misty is still kind of afraid of the target stick. Sometimes she can tolerate it, other times she makes a horrific noise if I move it too close to her.

Sorry the video is fuzzy. We are having a difficult time finding good light to shoot the videos lately. Maybe I need to get myself a shop light (I mean spot light!).

This trick is kinda dull, but I promise we are working on one that I think is really great (of course I am completely biased, since I find everything my dogs do completely charming). Maybe it will be ready by next week....maybe not. We'll see. You'll just have to wait in suspense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBSk44IUd9s

Stay tuned for a special post tomorrow, especially for my Aunt Betty.

Monday, December 7, 2009

moody monday


We had a nice, laid back agility class on Saturday.

After I walked the first course, I got Oreo out of the car and held him on my lap. He was SO interested in watching the other dogs run. At one point, he jumped off my lap, so he could walk up to the fence to get a closer view.

Oreo did really well on his runs, although he skipped the green tunnel a couple times.

What is it with the green tunnel? Either he loves it or he hates it!

He sped thru 12 weave poles. He jumped super fast toward the people and dogs with no problem.

On the teeter, he was kind of slow, as he peered around the room.

For our last run, we were allowed to make up our own course. There were circles set up to help your dog run fast.

I decided to make this my "treat run". I ran my butt off, and randomly fed Oreo bits of hamburger after obstacles...especially the green tunnel, contacts and weaves.

After I caught my breath, I ran my teacher's super duper fast border collie. Boy he's fun!

I really got a work out.

I was happy with this class, because Oreo was not showing stress at all.

Our next league match is on Saturday, and it will be held at our school. Hopefully, it will be easier for Oreo to handle than our last match.

There will be a lot more people than at our classes, but at least we will be on home turf. Fingers crossed it's not a windy day. Don't want to deal with scary building noises, on top of the extra humans involved.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

beautiful morning

Where did this snow come from? Caught us all off guard, especially Jeff who drove his convertible to work yesterday! Oops. He had to try 4 times to make it up our driveway.

Put the 8 boots on the dogs this morning, and headed on out to enjoy the breath taking beauty of a our first, fresh, sticky snow.


video

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just had to wait

Did I say something about it not feeling like winter?

Guess I just had to wait 24 hours! By the time I got out of my agility class today, it was snowing like crazy! What's up with that?


And it's still coming down. This better not involve a shovel.

fotoshoot friday


I had half a day of work on Friday. It allowed me to grab a few minutes of daylight for shooting photos. I think by next Friday, I'll be in the dark! The days are so short!

I made the dogs pose for some "pre-snow" winter photos. Although with the weather we've been having, I wonder if we'll get any snow this year. I know it's not officially winter, but usually it feels like it by now! But I'm not complaining!

Oreo's expression when I'm throwing his ball, while taking photos.

Oreo's expression when I make him pose in front of the holly bush, instead of throwing his ball.

Sweet Misty, who is fine with whatever we do (and even she is getting more comfortable in front of the camera).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

jumping exercises

Last night's class was all about jumping exercises! My favorite. Oreo's favorite. We had fun.

You can look at the course maps here.

We started with exercise 1. My teacher told me to go first, because I'm so good and others could watch! Ha! Nothing like putting the pressure on!

Well, Oreo didn't let me down. We did the sequence a couple times to get it perfect, and Oreo was speedy and happy. Did I say I love jumpers courses?

Everyone else tried it. Then, we all did it again on our next turn. Oreo did awesome.

Then, we did exercise 3, which added a tunnel. We ran into some difficulties with the course. I couldn't get the 270 from 10 to 11 (we haven't practiced our "out" in a long time!). So, I switched my handling from 5-6 and got inside the circle. But, then he went in between the 7 & 8 jumps, although he got the 270. We tried it again, but then Oreo shut down. He started showing me some stress signals.

Uh oh. Did I take the fun away? Not sure what happened. My teacher thought it might be because her husband came in the building, but I thought it had more to do with trying to get that sequence right too many times. Maybe I wasn't rewarding enough?

Regardless, I called it a night for him. Next time, I'll know better. More rewards when we're working on something tricky. Duh.

We did get to try out a brand new set of 24 inch spaced weave poles. Oreo didn't seem to notice a difference at all. In fact, I thought his weaving looked a bit smoother.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I've become one of "those people"

Yes, it's official. I've become one of "those people". The crazy dog people who put stickers on their car.

When you spend several days a week schlepping dogs around in your car, a weird sensation comes over you. It makes you buy dog stickers and adhere them to your car. Perhaps they are a way to explain the slobber all over your windows, and muddy prints all over the seats, dash board, emergency brake lever, door panels and steering wheel.

No, Oreo doesn't drive the car, but he likes to sit in the driver's seat when he's alone in the car (when the car is in motion, he is seatbelted in the back seat). Oreo also likes to push the button that puts the car in all wheel drive. Every time I'm about to leave an agility event, I notice the light on my dash indicating I'm in "AWD" mode. Guess Oreo likes it when we go off roadin'. So glad I taught him that "easy button" trick.

"We don't know what you're talking about! We are angels in the car. We always wipe our feet before hopping in too!"
Honestly, I can't believe it took me this long to get a sticker!

Now, I really want one of those "my sheltie is smarter than your honor student" stickers, because it is soooooooo true!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tricky T-Day ~ HatBox Tricks

Last week, you saw Misty doing her elephant trick. This week, you'll see Oreo doing his array of tricks on the hatbox, including the elephant trick with his hind legs. That trick has taken us many months to train! Still doing a bit of luring, but he's much more independent than in the past.
video

I bet my Mom never foresaw this hatbox being used for this purpose when she bought it for my birthday years ago!