Friday, September 21, 2007

Hanging with the boys....

Murphy (left) and Teller

I wrapped up another week oncall. It was a long week - a lot of nuissance pages, a few actionable items and a lot of disrupted sleep. Fridays of my oncall weeks leaves me feeling a bit like a drunk zombie and the afternoons are almost always unproductive. That generally carries over to the evening as well. I knocked out a couple of things on my punchlist and then turn into something that resembles a vegetable. I did take a few minutes to work with the boys - just a little bit of heelwork, then I went out to throw the ball for hour later he finally resembles a yellow furry vegetable...Murphy on the otherhand took one look at the ball and fetch routine and went in the house for a nap.

I was working stays today and thought I'd take a picture of the boys - Murphy is now three - and baby Teller....the baby is now eight and a half months - hardly a baby I suppose.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How time flies...

I found this video the other day - Murphy doing a rally run-though when he was 6 months old. I'd forgotten what a shining star he was back then - he really was very cool. How can I get back to that enthusiasm? All these bobbles we've had recently have made me think of retiring him - I'm not sure that's the answer - but I do know the question is how to get back to the dog in the video below even if he never puts another paw in the competition ring...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shelburne Museum goes to the dogs...

After last weekend's diaster at Carroll County I wasn't looking forward to obedience demos at the annual "Shelburne Museum goes to the Dogs" event. I hadn't planned on participating but got roped into it as part of BOTC public education. Anyway, picture 3000+ dogs (of all shapes, sizes and temperments) and their owners - pet owners. A couple of observations - pet people are out of their minds! No, your dog can't "say hi" to my dog - I don't care "how friendly" you say he is, his body posture is telling me otherwise. Yes, my dog does walk nicely on a leash, yes he does sit when I stop - no, he didn't come that way he's got hours and hours and hours (and months and years) of training under his belt. How long would it take me to get my dog to do that?Honestly? There's not enough time left in the universe - seriously, you put a prong collar on your friend and yank him around - that's why you can "only walk him on the prong". Or my favorite - if he's not on the prong he's aggressive....swell.

Only one guy really flipped me out - walking a GSD (yeah my favorite) on a 20' flexi - dog is 20' in front of him and comes barreling at me (and Teller), I body block his dog from getting to Teller with my knee up (which keeps the dog the maximum distance from my body and dog) then I hear the words that make me cringe "he only wants to say hi" - Well he can say hi to someone else you idiot...I didn't say it of course - the dirty look and continued body blocking should have been his hint...hey dude "here's your sign".

Anyway, I learned two things - the first is that Murphy is an enigma, we must have covered 10 miles wandering around the grounds being social, doing heelwork, just getting him out and about (I did another 5 with Teller and man are my hooves sore tonight!). Today, with all of the dogs and all of the people Murphy wasn't stressed in the least. Walking around the grounds like he does it every day - no stress. No stress in the demos either.....yeah, I'm ready to kill him...He's either on or off and he was so damn on today. He worked three open routines and two rally demos. The third obedience demo he was DONE, but sucked it up when I broke out some turkey bacon (smoke flavoring added).

The second thing I learned is to not take Teller for granted. Teller is so cool in so many ways - I forget sometimes that he's a baby and still learning. I have to keep remembering that. Don't rush things, let him be who he is and everything else is going to fall into place with him. That's the kind of dog that he is....He does these things that are so awesome sometimes - occaisionally doing things correctly that I haven't taught him - he learned a right finish while I was warming him up for the rally demo - in 4 reps he went from a lure, to an exaggerated hand movement with a "catch me" cookie, to just a hand motion. We've worked formal heelwork maybe 6 times and he's really getting it - but - and I should know and expect this - he can't put it all together yet for any length of time. I had been thinking about entering him in a rally trial at BOTC in November - this demo day was really helpful in helping me make that decision. He's going to be an awesome worker - he already is - what is the point in rushing anything with him. He can come to the show, he can do heelwork and rally moves outside the ring - but he doesn't have to go in the ring now - there's plenty of time for that when he's really really really solid and ready. I want him to be my three for three dog not just my "we qualified" dog. No pictures of Teller today...Next time I promise.

The group stay from today's demo - Left to Right: Sophie (poodle), Minna (poodle), Taris (golden), Queenie (lab), Rah (sheltie), Higgins (golden) and Murphy (swamp collie). Click for the full size image.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Meerkat Manor..

Teller fixated on the meerkats...Also know as "Teller-Tube-ey"

Teller watches TV, I've noticed this for a while. I won't pretend that I think he understands what the images are - but he has started reacting to what he sees on TV. A week ago I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon an episode of "Honey we're killing the kids" - at the part where they were aging the children. Well, this pudgy but cute 10 year old boy morphed into a pediphile in mere seconds - Teller protested with his best big-boy bark, walked over to the screen and continued to bark at the "offender" until the image left the screen. I couldn't help myself to laugh - even though barking is in fact frowned upon in this house....

Fuzzy family of Meerkats

Today we had just come in from swimmies and a walk around the block and I put Animal Planet on while I started making dinner. There's this show that features tribes of little rodent critters called Meerkcats. It's presented a bit like a soap opera more than a nature show - though there are defineatly harsh animal realities for the characters who have cutsie names like "Flower", "Bubble", "Squeak" and "Sparkle". The various tribes are always at war with each other over resources and the baby meerkats, well, let's just say that they have a pretty rocky childhood with a low survival rate. Some of the older critters wear radio collars for tracking - tracking what I'm not so sure, the cameras seem to have the varmits in sight all the time. Regardless, they're cute and the move fast - all the things that make tv watching enjoyable for Teller.

Teller looking handsome.

And completely unrelated...Here's a cute head-shot of Teller looking away from the TV for a moment...






Saturday, September 01, 2007

Peace is two tired dogs...

Awww, the joys of a lazy Saturday. I shamefully slept until 11 and then after the dogs were fed and pottied we all climbed back onto the couch for another nap - I woke up at 4:00 and realized I'd napped the day away. There are certainly worse ways to spend a weekend - but it was a waste of a beautiful late-summer day. I'll selfishly claim that I needed it - it's been a rather long time since I've had a day to myself - just me and the boys and a nice long nap :-)

I did get out and work with Murphy some, he's always game to play a little. Steady progress towards next weekend. Murphy has been working pretty well these days - his heelwork is decent - always is though isn't it. If we can manage to leave the baggage outside the ring we just might make it through next weekend. I hadn't been working anything else with him and I felt like I should make sure that he remembered all of the other puzzle pieces. As expected the rest of his open work is nearly flawless, he's got a slow drop sometimes - but he's consistant and I know that he will drop when asked to so I'm honestly picking my battles - if we can get through the heelwork without one or both of us stressing I'll be a very happy camper...

The past couple of nights I've brought Teller and Murphy next door to play with Melody's puppy (a couple of months older than Teller) Quinn. Quinn is one of those dogs that was shipped up from the south for a fresh start. Who knows what Quinn actually is - Melody was told that she was half golden retriever - I don't see any golden in there - something brindle - maybe boxer? Lab? A wee bit of pitt bull or Am Staff? They said that her mother was a golden, my guess is that she may have been half golden, half something else and Quinn the product of quarters...Anyhow, what Quinn missed in her formative weeks Melody has actually more than made up with. The "broken" puppy she brought home at 16 weeks of age - who didn't want to play with other dogs and was pretty leary of people has absolutely blossomed into a stable outgoing and even tempered little (40lb) dog. The only remaining sign that Quinn hasn't always lived a life of ease is the missing hair on her tail where she was likely burned by a muffler when she was a young pup - the hair hasn't grown back and probably won't ever come back - it's like one of those marks that will always remind us that her life started out very different from that of Teller and Murphy's life of entitlement...

Teller is absolutely smitten with her - and they play SO well together...alternating between running full speed and playing bitey face. I always like watching dogs make up their own games - Quinn has dug herself an impressive hole in her backyard, she'd run and lay in the hole and Teller would bite her bottom, she'd then get up and run around ending up in the hole and the cycle would repeat - FOR HOURS. Needless to say, Teller is pretty much passed out cold now - occaisionally stirring to make sure that Murphy and I are where he thinks we ought to be.

Murphy is still my nervous nelly, even though he's just next door from his house he's worried, doesn't settle, doesn't play with the other two - preferring to hang out with the people. He's always been this way I suppose. But I think he's becoming more concerned about his surroundings not less - and that worries me a little. I know that his sister Molly is indeed a worry-wart - it's not unlike her to walk around drooling from stress - the two of them are a drooling riot. Murphy was better tonight than last night on the worrying front - I think part of what worries him is when Teller plays roughly with Quinn - I'm not sure I'm ready to say that I think Murphy thinks Teller will be hurt because I don't think that dogs think that way - but it's the same "something is wrong" reaction that he gets when Teller and Q (the cat) play roughly too...It'd be easy to dismiss the behavior as jealousy - but it's not. Anyway, Murphy too is doing his very best rug impression this evening...waiting to hear that it's "bed time".