Monday, February 28, 2011

misty monday~baby

Awww! Look at my baby nephew!
Pet the doggie. Nice pet.
Is there anything cuter than a baby with a dog? Especially if you have a cute baby and cute dog, which I did.
Munchkin was very good with kids. 

Looks like someone is more fond of the dogs' toys than his own.
Misty saw all kids as potential cheerios droppers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

another foot

We got another foot of snow today.  Annoying, but at least it was enough to cover up the two inches of ice in the yard.  Oreo was so happy to be able to run & play outside again.

And it sure looked pretty sticking to all the trees.

But then it stuck to my camera lens and I have a bunch of photos like this:

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Oreo is doing so well on all the rally long as we are in the house!

I tried taking Oreo out on the driveway to practice heeling, and had to start from scratch.  I brought a book out and had him do the elephant move on it.  He caught on quick and I was able to get him off the book.  Maybe I need to do that at our next class, to help him generalize.

I was able to get him into position on our walk yesterday.

Anyway, here we are practicing 360 turns in the heel position.  Isn't Oreo doing great?  So proud of him.

This heeling stuff is so much fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

tricky t-day ~ lazy mommy

Whenever Jeff & I sit down to watch a movie, we always realize AFTER we're seated that one of us forgot to turn the light off.  Such a pain to get up once you're comfortable, dontcha ya think?

Well, we no longer have to get up to turn off the light!

Monday, February 21, 2011

misty monday~don't let her fool you

Look at my good girl, Misty, ignoring the plate of goodies on the coffee table on Christmas Eve, 2004.
"Please, could you feed a starving dog a bit of cheese & crackers?  I'm sooooooo good.  How can you deny me a little nibble?"
Yea. Don't let her fool you. Misty was known to table surf, but only when we weren't looking. Many times, we walked into the living room to find her with two paws on the table, stretching her neck to get to various things.  Once, she got hold of some lip balm, and ate everything except the plastic dispenser. 

When we were watching she was angelic.

Hmmm. I have students like that.

Love this photo!   Misty wasn't a big fan of the camera.  I have very few photos of her looking into the lens.  Mostly, she turned her head to the side.  This photo makes me want to scratch her ears and give her a big kiss on her cheek.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

rally class

Finally, we had our first rally class!   The wind was whipping at 40 mph, and I contemplated staying home.  When it is windy, the training building makes weird noises, that can sometimes bother Oreo. 

The snow banks must have been braking some of the wind, because it wasn't too bad in the building.

The whole class was in the ring, with their dogs, for the entire time. About 8 pairs.  This was a bit disconcerting to Oreo.  It took about 20 minutes or so for him to be somewhat OK with people being in his ring. 

Eventually, he started giving me eye contact, and was able to do some commands.  He got a TON of treats.

Our heeling was nothing like it is at home.  Oh well, we'll keep practicing.

What Oreo excelled at was sitting or laying down while I walked around him.  All those days and days of relaxation protocol paid off for those moves.  He was also good at 360 turns to the left, not so much with the right.

At the end of the class, we did some very short courses.  Our first try didn't go so well, he wanted to sit facing me, not next to me. But the second & third courses, Oreo did awesome!  I was really proud he was able to listen and do what I asked with other dogs/people in such close proximity.

I think this class is going to be so good for him.  We can practice lots of things that our behaviorist wants us to work on, plus we can do it with friendly people around. 

We may never do a rally trial, but I think the experience will be great for Oreo.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

working the NEW plan

On Monday, Oreo and I went back to our veterinary behaviorist for a follow up consult.

Our meeting went very well.  The previous meeting consisted mostly of laying facts out on the table.  This week's meeting was much more casual and candid.  We talked about agility venues, how good CPE is for dogs like Oreo, and how the shelties at Westminister look nothing like real life shelties.

Mostly though, we talked about Oreo!

After reading 4 months of log sheets, this doctor REALLY gets Oreo.   Now that she truly understands Oreo's needs, I feel we are in an even better place to utilize her help. 

The doctor told me, "Oreo thinks you're stupid.  He doesn't understand why you don't find every little thing scary."

I laughed, but she's right.  Oreo feels like it is his job to keep an eye out, because I have the nerve to ignore everything!

Our new plan has a few new elements. 

Here are the main points:
1. Continue to work with sit stay. Set Oreo up far from anything too scary. If he scans but looks back to you, click (or YES) and treat. When he is calm, ask for the eye contact on cue.
2. Please don’t use target when he is too distressed to listen.
3. Have the target handy and visible in stressful situations (except those where he is already on a command eg sit stay / lie down on mat or heel). If he decides to touch it then click / treat, but do not ask and do not push it at him.

I have to take Oreo to many places, do sit/stay at a far distance from people and reward for any eye contact or other behaviors that show he is "with me".

Oreo spent most of the appointment either under my chair, or next to my chair.  The doctor told me Oreo watched the door almost the whole time.

No surprise there.

At one point, she had me put Oreo in a sit stay.  I had to drag him out from under the chair, but he did do a sit.  Then, Oreo was able to give me occasional eye contact.  The doctor told me Oreo lit up once he knew what to do.

The doctor also told me that Oreo must find agility very rewarding, because he wouldn't do it otherwise.  That made me feel real good, because I always wonder if he likes it, or if he is simply going through the motions.  She hopes I continue to do agility, and not switch over completely to rally. 

I was worried she would say the opposite!

We will work the new plan for awhile, send her videos, and then meet the doctor in a different location to work with her on desensitization stuff.  The office where we have been meeting is downtown, and we could never retreat far enough from people, because people are everywhere.

Obviously, we still have a long way to go.  It is wonderful having the doctor's support and guidance.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

tricky t-day ~ heelstuff

OK, here is our heeling update.  I feel we are almost ready to start step 5 of the 7 step process, and we have one week to go until our rally class. 

Oreo knows the position, now we have to add more steps, high head, and duration. Step 7 is adding the high legs kicks and very high head, I'm OK if we don't get to that point by Saturday.

Many people suggested feeding Oreo from my left hand to help get him into position.  Boy, did I try!  However, it freaked Oreo out.  He is so used to me feeding from my right hand, I think it scared him when my left hand came to his face.  He would immediately jump out of position!

My little sensitive dog, notices every change!

Anyway, here is where we were this past Saturday. I threw in a little footage of us doing eye contact drills.  I wish I had a before video of that, because Oreo is doing so well, compared to where we came from.

I went back and watched our two previous heeling videos, and boy, have we made progress!

My main concern is will Oreo be able to generalize this trick to other places.  We've worked on it in different rooms of the house. I'd like to take it outdoors, but the paths I shoveled in the yard are very narrow. One of us would get a snow rash.

We saw Oreo's behaviorist yesterday....I'll be posting an update on that in a couple days! Our plan has changed a bit.

Monday, February 14, 2011

misty monday~food lady

Do you see the two bowls on the floor? They are licked completely clean. Munchkin & Misty had finished their cubed buttered toast, and were patiently waiting for some bacon (or kielbasa) to hit those bowls.
Misty says, "Stop buggin' me mom, I'm with her now. You've been replaced."

Since the two starving, emaciated dogs would gobble the food up so quickly, food lady (my mom) would promptly fill the bowls up again.

Oh yes, whenever these two dogs went to the food lady's house, I became nonexistent. I'm sure they went home with achy necks from gazing up at her for so long

Of course, this tradition was passed onto Oreo as well.

Misty says, "Oreo, if you stand right here, the food lady will give you the best pulled pork ever. You don't even have to do a trick or anything! Don't you love the food lady? She gives me more though, 'cause I lay my head on her lap afterward. Too bad you're a momma's boy."
I choose these photos especially for Valentine's Day.  There was a lot of love going on between my Mom & Misty.  My Mom loved how Misty would jump up on the couch and sit next to her.  Misty would rest her head on my Mom's leg and sigh, that long, drawn out Misty sigh (how I miss those sighs).

My mom had a snack mix that she'd bring when we'd go on vacation together.  Misty always got the best snack in the mix.  My Mom would say, "Let me find you some of your favorites Misty."  I don't think anyone else ever got to try the "good snack".  They all went to Misty.

Of course, Misty deserved every treat she got.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I don't get it

I bought this shirt at Target. Cute, right?
I tried it on at home, and found it was a little bit bigger than I'd like. No big deal, I can take it in at the side seams. Right?
Well, upon further inspection, I realized that would be impossible. There is a zipper on the side seam. It doesn't go all the way to the armpit, or all the way to the bottom hem.
What the heck is this zipper for?

Jeff decided it was for when you "needed to get some air." 

As if it were a car window?

I said, "Or for when I want to get arrested for indecent exposure."

My initial thought was the zippered opening should make the shirt easier to put on.

Tried it. Wasn't any easier. I ended up slipping my arm in the hole, rather than the sleeve.

I went to Target's website to see if it would offer any clues.

Surpisingly, the description read, "zipper entry."

Huh? I'm pretty sure my head goes through the top of the shirt, not the side.

I don't get it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

walking on snow....

After a 30 second thaw, then quick plummet to single digits, our snow has turned into the crunchy variety.

While it is no longer soft, light, fluffy and cushiony, crunchy snow has its advantages.

For example, you can walk on top of it, especially if you don't weigh too much.
Creatures who once were quite short, can all of a sudden see over the 4 foot fence.
Do you think I should worry about Oreo jumping over?
Nah. He'd miss his designated ball thrower too much.
I just have to be careful not to throw the ball over the fence.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

tricky t-day ~ snowbank diving

OK, we really don't have a trick for you this week.  We are working mostly on heeling and eye contact.   Oreo's eye contact has improved immensely!  Took many days, but he is finally catching on.

Not to disappoint, I thought you might enjoy seeing this video of Oreo snowbank diving, his latest pastime.  Sorry, it is a long video, but I find his antics quite entertaining.

Monday, February 7, 2011

misty monday~first photo

This is the first photo I ever took of Misty !  It was her first day (labor day weekend, 2000) in our house.  This photo was probably taken within an hour of her arrival. Quickly, she figured out who was the best source of table food.

Look at Misty already batting her eyelashes at Jeff.  Jeff must have given her pieces of that hot dog roll.  That would explain why she was always fond of bread.  Actually, Misty was fond of any food, except green peppers.  Raw asparagus was one of her favorites.

I remember being so excited to get a photo of  TWO dogs together in my house!  Heaven!
You can see Munchkin's scar on his back, from where he suffered traumatic wounds from a dog attack.  He was able to regenerate new skin, but fur never grew in.  This photo was taken recently after he had healed.  Later, after his fur grew in around the scar, we were able to do a nice "comb over", and the scar wasn't visible.  I used that scar to determine which dog was which in the dark.  It was such silky smooth skin. I had to put sunblock on it in the summer.

Whenever I see Oreo's two white patches on his back, I think of them as Munchkin's angel wings.  Weird that the white patches are in the same location as Munchkin's scars, huh?

I guess this is a Misty & Munchkin day.  Only fair.  Without Munchkin, I never would have had Misty.

Misty lovers, make sure you keep stopping by on Mondays!  I've found some real gems (both photos & videos) to show you!  One video I didn't even know I had....but I'm going to make you wait for that treasure.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

you know it's 33F when....

You know the thermometer has reached 33F in upstate NY when:
  • You see someone riding a motorcycle.
  • Every other home you drive by has a ladder leaning against its roof. 
  • There's a river running through your mudroom (hence, the ladders to remove melting snow off roofs)
  • People are out walking everywhere (why drive to pick up a 24 pack of beer when you can walk)
  • You smell BBQ.
  • Frat boys are wearing shorts.
  • You are surprised that Panera's still has "seasonal" chili available.
  • People are smiling, as they chip away at icy sidewalks.
  • There are green buds on your lilac bush!  Yes, really!
  • You step outside and say, "Wow, it's nice out!"

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Our rally class was cancelled, due to freezing rain.  I feel like I've been waiting FOREVER for this class to start, and now I have to wait 2 more weeks (we have league next Saturday).

The good news is we will have more time to work through the heeling steps. 

That is if I can get the ball out of his mouth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

heeling stuff

Oreo & I have been diligently working on our 7 steps to a perfect heel.

We are at step 3 now. We are practicing getting Oreo into position on various objects and adding verbal cues. I felt as though we were almost ready to move on, until I watched this footage.

I was clicking for when Oreo touched my leg, but it seems as though his back end is still not where I want it. I don't want to rush to move on before I'm sure he completely understands where I want him.

I plan on doing a couple more sessions like this, and trying to click for a better position.

I think Oreo really is getting the hang of it.  He is going the "hard" direction more often than the easy way now.  He learned he was getting bigger rewards that direction.

I was hoping to be further along before our rally class on Saturday, but I think everything we've done so far will still help us in class.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

what would happen....

Today, I had my kids doing a reading comp. exercise about Groundhog Day. As an anecdote, I told my students about a story I had read about last year's Groundhog Day. Apparently, one of the groundhogs had bit the mayor of NYC.

"Why?" my ever inquisitive, let's get off topic student, asked.

"Well, because he's a wild animal, and they aren't used to being handled. It would be like you touching a wild raccoon." 

I mentioned "raccoon", because we had a long Q/A about raccoons before.  There is a poster of one hanging in the room, with some sort of inspirational message, but the raccoon creeps us out. 

"What would happen if I touched a raccoon?" he asks.

"Um, he'd probably bite you."

"Why?" he asks.

"Well, the raccoon would feel threatened and react.  He's not used to being touched by humans."

That led to yet another question, "What would happen if the raccoon bit me?"

"You'd have to go to the hospital, have the wound cleaned, probably get a tetanus shot, some antibiotics, and maybe a rabies shot." I explain.


Are you kidding me?

Blah, blah, germs, blah, blah, infection.

He looks at me, nodding his head.  I can see his next question formulating in his brain.

"What would happen if I bit the raccoon? Would he get sick?"

I ask, "Why would you bite a raccoon?"

No answer, just another question,"Would he die?"

OMG.  This kid kills me.  Every class, he asks me 20 questions, drives me nuts.  But, he asks with such sincerity and inquisitiveness, I have to play along.

ok, this is ridiculous

The photos in yesterday's post were taken before the "monster storm", as the media is calling it.

This is after the monster....
Where's Oreo?

Where's our picket fence?
And we got a lot less than they were predicting!  15 inches, instead of 30.

So glad the groundhog didn't see his shadow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

tricky t-day~twist

I had my swiffer mop out to play limbo with the dogs, and it reminded me of Ricky's cane tricks.  So, we started messing around with doing an enlarged figure 8 trick.  Oreo caught onto that pretty quick, now we are working on doing the whole trick in reverse.  Still have a ways to go with that one.  Although, once we get our heeling down, it should be easier,because I won't have to resort to luring.

This was supposed to be last week's tricky-t-day.  You'll see Misty in the background of this video.  I was going to reshoot the whole thing, but thought again.  What's wrong with seeing Misty?  Sadly, she was working on this trick too, but wasn't feeling up to doing it when I shot the video.

 Yesterday, I received a card in the mail from my regular vet.  I was wondering what it could be, because they had already sent a sympathy card.

It was  a card saying a donation had been made to the Arbor Day Foundation, and a tree will be planted & registered in Plumas National Forest in honor of Misty. I thought that was so sweet.  I admit, I had to google Plumas National Forest, to find out where it was!  Turns out it's in California.  A long way to go to visit Misty's tree, but the forest suffered damage due to fires recently.  Misty's regal presence is needed there.