Saturday, April 30, 2011

new puppy

Welcome my new puppy to my world!

Puppy is an 8 week old sable male, and he came home with me today. 

 So far, Oreo is tolerating him, but I know in a few days they will be best buddies, as they both adjust to their new situation.
Trying to choose a name for the little guy. My list was Twix, Twinkie or Cookie. Then, I've gotten some suggestions already...Pecan Sandy, and Jolly. Jeff says Chewy, because he looks like Chewbaca from Star Wars. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

tricky t-day ~all 4 in

Last week, Kathy posted a video of Cricket cramming all 4 feet into a small container. I've seen Ricky do this as well.

At a standstill with some of our other tricks, I decided this was a good one to try, because I felt we could accomplish something in one session.

I did start with a very large container, and Oreo picked up on that in seconds. So, I brought out the next, smaller size. It took him awhile, but by the end of our session, he knew exactly what I wanted. The hard part was preventing him from sitting in the container.

We'll practice this a couple more times, and then move onto an even smaller container.

Monday, April 25, 2011

misty monday ~ egg game

Many of you have seen this video before. Honestly, it is one of my all time favorite videos. Misty finally found something that she could do better than Oreo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thanks Mom & Dad

Oreo did great with my parents while we were away. He got better and more comfortable with each day that passed.

I was simply thrilled that he ate/peed for them. It was a bonus that he actually played in the yard, slept with my parents on the bed, and got involved in the sheet changing process(one of Oreo's favorite games).

The best part was I enjoyed my vacation without any worries.   Thanks so much mom & dad.

Of course, I was very happy to see the little guy when we got home though!

After unpacking, Jeff made Oreo a toy out of his old socks. Oreo thinks it is the best thing ever!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back Home

We are back home!  What an amazing vacation. Weather was perfect...82H, 75L everyday.

If you are ever planning a Caribbean Vacation, I can't recommend our bed and breakfast enough.  It was like living in our own private mountain side villa, with a gourmet chef for our breakfasts (starter of fruit/mini muffins or granola parfait, a fresh fruit frappe, and then your beautiful main course). We had the pool to ourselves, and really enjoyed swimming under the beautiful flowering trees.  The scent was amazing!  Wendy and Doug go above and beyond to make your trip perfect.  Wendy even let us stay well after check out, loaning us beach chairs for one last trip to the turquoise waters.   When it was time to leave, they both walked us to our jeep, and said good bye as though we were family.  You won't get that at an all-inclusive.

St. Thomas is a beautiful island, full of steep, windy roads that we got to explore with our jeep.  Jeff somehow was able to drive on "the left".  Driving the roads in St. Thomas is akin to an amusement ride at Disney World.  Big drop offs, no guard rails.

You never knew what breathatking view you would see around the next bend.

A day trip to St. John was one of our favorite parts of our trip.  St. John has amazing views, and hardly any development.  We had a delicious chicken BBQ lunch there, topped off with some homemade cake from a local.  Plus, we enjoyed a somewhat private beach at Hawksnest bay.

On our first day, Jeff and I asked a waitress for directions to a grocery store, so we could stock our fridge with ginger beer.  Mingling with the locals was fun.  Our innkeeper was shocked we went to that "Pueblo" market, as she has never even been there, and would have sent us to a "safer" one.  But we enjoyed the adventure, and found it to be a friendly place.

The beaches are beautiful, and have nice trees to sit under for shade. The water was as warm as bath water, and clear as can be.

If you want, here are some of our vacation photos:

Here is a tour of our B&B:

Now back to reality.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New buddy

Here's my new buddy, Mocha. 

I also got to hold a goats leash today, and watched a rooster attack an iguana.

Rooster won!

Tricky t-day

No tricky tday this week.  I'm too busy doing nothing in St. Thomas.

I've been reading everyone's blog, but am having technical difficulties.commenting.

I'll be back soon!

Monday, April 18, 2011

misty monday~hiking

Misty loved to go hiking. I would let her off leash, and she would take long stops to sniff. Then, she'd realize I wasn't sniffing with her, and run to catch up with me.

These photos were taken in the woods behind my house during the days after Munchkin had died, and before we brought the annoying black and white thing home.

Those one and a half months were the only time in Misty's life when she was an "only dog".  I tried to give her extra attention and fun adventures, because I knew she was feeling very lonely.  She cried loudly every time we left the house. Poor girl.

We had many fun, adventurous, peaceful walks in the woods during that time. It made me feel good to give her those moments of exploration, because she loved every minute.  It was a time of healing for both of us, as we began our new life without Munchkin.  She was my smile during that sad time. 

Everyday after work, we'd head into the snow filled woods.
"Here I come Ma!"

"This is great, no one else has been here but us and the woodland creatures."

"Why does it seem like it is uphill both ways?"

"Sure would be nice if there were an actual TRAIL!"
Trees and downed limbs were no match for Misty. She would either leap over them, or duck under.  Can't tell you how many times I had to CARRY Munchkin over a log.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

yes, we're still working the plan

Oreo and I are still hard at work dealing with his fears.

Everyday on our walk, we work on heeling & sit/stays with attention.  Overall, I feel as though Oreo is learning to look toward me when he sees something that would have previously sent him into a frenzy.

However, we still have a long way to go, and I realize this training will never be over for Oreo. 

Often, it can be difficult to catch him below threshold, because he can go from calm to crazed in a millisecond.  Luckily, he is recovering quickly from reactions, and the attention behaviors I have taught him are key to calming him.

Below are some videos and our behaviorist's responses to them. I'm only sharing because I know many of my readers have dogs with fear/reactivity, and you might find them & the doctor's responses helpful. I won't be insulted if you don't watch them, because they are long, tedious, and boring!

Both videos were shot when no people were around, although Oreo had just barked his head off at a couple deer, who were completely unphased by his barking!  

This is what our behaviorist said about the video:

There were some marvelous attention spots where you said yes and timing great—maybe would be worthy of a treat. When you reached that hard corner—some more parallel work might have helped ie he is not turned about to retreat in the same line over and over. You did a little of that later on. Also, how about some break out in the middle for a game or toss a batch of treats instead of always heel / sit?

Here is another video working mostly on sit/stays:

Here is her response to that work:
You guys look great. You are one dedicated trainer! Nice attention and nice spontaneous checking with you. Experiment with the reward there since you do want to maintain that behavior.

What I have been doing when we see something that would typically cause Oreo to panic, is feeding him until he calms enough to look at me (sometimes we have to increase our distance from the person). Then, I ask him for the learned behaviors, so he has something else to do besides panic.

Our biggest issue in everyday life are my next door neighbors. That is going to be one of my main areas to work on this summer.  Today, Jeff tells me, Oreo was able to pee while one neighbor was walking through the yard!  Oreo never took his eye off him, but he peed!  Wow.  That was huge.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

tricky t-day ~

I got nothin'!

Tried shooting a trick video Saturday afternoon during the traumatic "petsitter hours", but Oreo was still a bit out of sorts, and couldn't really focus. 

He seemed much more relaxed on Sunday, but I knew I'd be planted on the couch, watching the masters tournament all afternoon, not in the mood to edit a video.

Those are my excuses.  However, we have not been complete slugs.

Here is Oreo practicing sitting calmly before getting in/ or after getting out of the car on one of his new barking dogs blankets.
I am addicted to the etsy website right now.  Not only have I bought barking dog blankets, but more purses than one really needs   

Monday, April 11, 2011

misty monday~teaching Oreo

"Make sure you check back with Mommy every few steps while we're out walking."

"Don't leave the yard without permission."

"Lookout for neighbors, deer, squirrels and anything else that moves.  Hey, where you going? Huh.  Guess someone else will have to work on your watchdog skills."

This weekend I was really missing Misty.  It was perfect spring weather.  I know I would have had a hard time getting her to come back inside.  She'd choose the sun over me on days like these. Misty would enter a doggie zen.  Boy, did she love to be outside doing nothing.

I even found myself looking for her as I cleaned up the yard, expecting to see her in the dog garden, or find her head resting on the deck railing. 

Oreo seemed a bit out of sorts too, not knowing what to do with himself.  He used to settle next to her.  Instead, he did a lot of laps around the garden.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

crisis averted

Jeff & I are going on vacation in a couple weeks. I had a brilliant idea to introduce Oreo to a petsitter, with gradual, quick visits while we were at work, prior to our departure. I thought it would give Oreo time to get to know the petsitter, see her as a good person, who brings good things.

The petsitter made 6 visits (2 with me present). Things were going OK. He spent most of his time hiding in the bathroom. However, he was eating treats from her hand. He would let her put on his leash and bring him outside. She thought he was getting better each visit.

Then, Jeff was home from work one day, and Oreo was cowering in the bathroom, refusing to come out. He wouldn't eat treats. Unheard of behavior for Oreo. Oreo usually hangs out with Jeff on his day off. 

Jeff texted me photos of how Oreo looked:

looking toward door

"I'm not coming out!"

treat sat there for over an hour!

When did this behavior happen? During the hours the petsitter usually arrived!

Obviously, this sweet petsitter, who I really liked, could not come back.

Good thing I had a Plan B (and C)! My parents.

Actually my parents had been my Plan A, but I didn't want to inconvenience them, and I thought it might be nice if Oreo learned to like a petsitter. Might come in handy someday.

Anyway. Since Oreo was obviously traumatized, I was worried he might now be afraid of EVERYONE who came to our house. He has never had a problem with my parents. My mom is the Food Lady after all.


Last night, I invited my parents over for dinner. Oreo was a bit wary at first, but with a few pieces of rotisserie chicken, he was back to his ol' self with my parents.

Stayed in the same room with us. Hopped onto the couch with my mom, asked her to rub his belly.  Herded them when they were getting ready to leave, and followed them to the back gate. No hiding in the bathroom.

Can't tell you how relieved I am.

Thanks Mom & Dad.  I think I can actually enjoy my vacation now.  Jeff thanks you too.  You know what I mean.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

tricky t-day ~herd

I found the cutest stuffed sheep at Target.  Jeff said, "Oh, you can teach Oreo to herd the sheep!"

Had to buy the sheep!

Here is Oreo learning to "herd".  He has "herding the coffee table" down pat. However, when I put the sheep down, Oreo has been doing so many paw tricks lately, he kept offering me his foot on the sheep, and knocking the poor thing over.

I noticed he prefered herding the sheep AND me at the same time, but he did get it in the end.

Monday, April 4, 2011

misty monday~couches

Misty really loved Munchkin. They spent a lot of time on couches. Together.
the dog couch

sharing a good spot

furry butts make the best pillows

Saturday, April 2, 2011

bad start, good ending

I went to rally class today with high hopes.

Then, had them crushed the minute we pulled into the parking lot. I almost turned around and went back home.  Oreo was spazzing out.  I used every tool in my kit, but nothing was working.

Finally, I decided to walk Oreo in front of the cars, instead of behind, in a wide arc. We made it to the front door, Oreo peeked inside, looked up at me and seemed completely fine!

Inside, he gave me attention, checked out the people and other dogs. Did some nice sits, while looking up at me.

I was shocked.

We did two different full size courses.  For our first turn, the instructor had all the people (including shriners) sit at a table and carry on normal conversations, and told them to avoid looking at me and Oreo

Well, Oreo did so much better than last week.  A couple times, I turned us around to face the group when we were really supposed to have our backs to them, and then Oreo was able to do the tasks on the signs.  Overall though, Oreo was "with me" 85% of the time.

On our second turn, the people again ignored us, but the instructor stood in the ring, at a distance.  Her movements distracted Oreo a bit, but never did he seem panicked. 

Overall, once we got in the building, I felt Oreo was displaying way more confidence than fear. 

I think I may have to carry him through parking lots, until we can work through that issue on days when we're not heading to a class.

scaredy dog

I showed the video I had taken during our last rally class to our behaviorist.

Her impression?  Oreo was panicking.  I needed to help him out.

Her advice (in summary)... do only a few signs (1-3) & repeat until Oreo is "with me".  Work facing the people/dogs as much as possible, so he doesn't have to turn around in worry. 

I emailed her suggestions to the instructor of the class.

The instructor told me that she feels Oreo is much more at ease when we work with all the people/dogs in the ring at the same time.  That way everyone is busy, and not staring at Oreo.  She also felt the building, and changing class members are working against him.

Both the behaviorist and instructor gave me a lot to think about.  I really value their insight.

So today, I'll be trying these things and listening for more suggestions. 

Anything to help out my scaredy dog.

I had us signed up for a couple runs at a CPE trial tomorrow.  Even though we did really well at the last CPE trial, we're going to skip this one.  Oreo has had a lot of stressors lately, and I don't feel he's in the zone for a trial right now.