Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Denzil Update

(Denzil aka the shameless little flirt)

One of my goals for the year was to develop a long-term plan for Denzil.  I set a date of mid-March.

Well, it's the end of March, and I've actually followed through on this goal (yippee!).

A couple weeks ago Denzil and I went back to our vet for a consult on his knees.  No tests, just a quick checkup for Denzil (soundness and flexion tests) and some good discussion between the vet and I.

Based on the x-rays we got last time, and the state of Denzil's current soundness, the vet thinks that his lameness is caused by torn (but not ruptured) cruciate ligaments and a bit of arthritis.  Denzil's lameness got quite bad at times this winter - I think in part to all of the snow and ice we had.  Leaping through the snow and frapping on frozen ground is not good for the boy.

Denzil has been on Deramaxx every other day for quite a while, plus an omega 3 supplement and  chondroitin, glucosamine & MSM every day.  He seems to do well on this, unless he overexerts (which Denzil likes to do as much as possible.)  We just had blood tests done, and Denzil doesn't seem to be experience any ill effects from the Deramaxx, which is good news.

Given all of this, where did we land?  Basically, neither the vet nor I think that Denzil's knee problems are surgical.  Our plan of attack is to continue with the supplements and Deramaxx, and control Denzil's activity for 12 weeks to see if the lameness starts to get better.  He's not on crate rest - just no frapping or running, with all exercise on-leash and some conditioning to rebuild muscle in his hind end.

We've been at this for two weeks now, and Denzil is doing really well.  His lameness is greatly improved and he seems a lot happier - much more like his usual busy self.  It's great to see.  We're still working on a sustainable long term plan, but it's encouraging that he seems to be getting better.  If only I could explain to Denzil that he's a "veteran" now and needs to slow it down a bit.  Slow down just isn't in his vocabulary....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bridget Carlsen Seminar

This weekend I spent auditing an obedience training seminar given by Bridget Carlsen.  Bridget is consistently one of the top obedience competitors in the country.  Her accomplishments are impressive (many OTCH’s, MACH, MH, etc).  One of her current dogs is the first-ever OTCH Norwich Terrier.  This was not a high-drive dog when she got him.  Now he’s an amazing little bundle of focused energy.

I really enjoyed this seminar.  It was well worth the money, and early weekend mornings.  I am not a morning person, and I rely on weekends to catch up on my sleep, so getting up before 5am on both Saturday and Sunday and me feeling like it was worth it is a big deal!

So why did I enjoy Bridget so much?  Similar to Celeste Meade and Sylvia Bishop, Bridget trains for attitude.  Her dogs love, love, LOVE to work, and it shows. 

As you know, I struggle with attitude with Ziggy.  Over the past 8 months (since the Celeste Meade workshop I attended last summer), I have been working on making Ziggy more bouncy, animated, happy, and attentive while working.  Z has gotten much bouncier and happier at home and at our kennel club building (where we go a lot), but when I take him to new places, or if he’s around a lot of other dogs, his energy level drops precipitously. 

So what did I learn that I think will help us?  Many things – but I intend to start by focusing on a few areas:  
- Building attitude using jackpotting and a cue word 
- Fun heeling games 
- Breaking exercises down into small pieces 
- A more militant approach to sniffing

So this post doesn’t get too long, today I’ll focus on the one I’ve already started with – jackpotting and use of a cue word.


The thought behind jackpotting is that, since food can’t be taken into the ring for Rally, Obedience, or Agility, the dog needs to learn to work for a handler when the handler isn’t “packing” treats.  In order to do this, the dog needs to understand that even if they can’t see the food (or other highly desirable reward), that they will be rewarded. 

With jackpotting the dog learns that working without a constant stream of food can be fun, because there’s a little party with lots of treats and play if the dog performs well.  This little party with lots of cool stuff is the “jackpot.”  The dog’s thought should be, “when is she going to have the party?  I don’t know, but I better pay attention so I don’t miss it.”

I recently read a book (which I’ll review sometime soon, because I thought it was really good) that talked about jackpotting.  Bridget helped me understand it more, as she ties a cue word to the jackpot and has a system to build drive and want  connected to the jackpot and the cue word.

For Ziggy, I’m using food as his jackpot.  He doesn’t have a ton of play drive (we’re working on this), so right now we’re on food instead of toys.  I’m working with his breakfast & dinner as my training & jackpot time, so he’s nice and hungry and really wants to get that food.  The cue word I’m using is “supper.”  Any word could be used, but I’ve chosen supper because I think it’s a fun word to say over and over again in an excited tone (try it, “Supper! Supper!  Sup sup supper!  Who wants their supper?!” – isn’t that fun?!)

Phase 1

Right now Ziggy and I are in phase one –with the jackpot readily visible and on me.  This means that I have the dog bowl with his food in my hand as we’re working.  I trot around saying “do you want your supper?  Here’s your supper!  What do you want to do for your supper?” (basically I say supper a lot in an excited tone).  If he offers a high drive/excited behavior (leaping in the air for instance), I give him some of the food (“that’s what you do for your supper!  Good boy!  Here’s some supper!).  Then I’ll ask for a behavior (close, down, sit, stand, etc.).  If he does it with the same drive and enthusiasm, more supper comes his way (“great close, Ziggy!  Here’s some supper!  Yippee!).  I repeat this process until the food is gone.

I’ve done this three times now, and Ziggy seems to LOVE it!  Excitement, food, and work all at the same time!  I’ll continue in phase one until Ziggy understands that “supper” is an exciting word, and he’s consistently working with a lot of drive when I’m holding the bowl.  I want him to offer excited behaviors when I say the word “supper” – even if the food isn’t around.  This will show me that he’s connecting the cue word with the good times!

Next steps

For the next phases, I'll move the food bowl away from me, but in sight, and finally out of sight. 

In the end, Ziggy should work for me with high drive & enthusiasm – even if the food is far away, because he knows he’ll get the food and the fun.  Also, he should be really keyed up when I say the word “supper” – as we’ll have spent lots of time connecting the word to the party! I should also be much more fit, as this training method is an aerobic workout for the handler, as well :)

I’m really excited about this approach, as it helps with a couple of challenges I’m facing with Ziggy – lack of drive, and lack of attention without food.  It should also help me get over my attachment having food on me at all times.  I’ll admit that I feel less secure and confident when I don’t have a treat bag.  With food-lovers like Maggie & Ziggy, my treat bag serves as a bit of an “invisible leash” for me.

There are a couple of drawbacks to this method:  
- The Husband is now pretty sure that I’m insane (what kind of person runs around the with a food bowl in their hand, excitedly repeating the word supper supper?!?)
- I have to contain the other two dogs when I work on this.  Denzil gets to stay in his crate.  Maggie has to be outside because Maggie turns games like this into barkfests (she’s either the party police, or mad that she’s not in the game – I can’t tell which) and I can only take so much incessant barking.

I’ll let you know how it goes!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free: Therapeutic dog bed insert

While in India, I received this picture from The Husband with the caption, "Still, I will not lay on it."

That's it.   The Trio has spoken.  I've given up.  I've called it.  The expensive therapeutic dog bed has been taken out of service.

The dog bed cover is really nice, though, and it complements my decor.  I didn't want to get rid of it.  So what have I stuffed the dog bed cover with?  Down!!  The Trio's favorite bed (excepting the Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair) is a Planet Dog down/feather bed that I got from a friend as a gift years ago.  When Ziggy was a naughty puppy, he chewed through the original cover, so my mom made a new one.  On Saturday I decided to wash that cover, only to discover that it was on its last legs as well. 

Rather than throw the down bed away, or make yet another cover for it, I had a "brilliant" idea.  I asked my mom (who was visiting) to make a new insert/case for the down.  She made it the right size to fit in the LLBean cover.  Then I transferred the down/feathers from the old bed case to the new one.  Voila!  A new down dog bed in the stylish LLBean cover!

Well, maybe "Voila!" is missing a few steps.  Here's what our front porch looked like after I finished the feather transfer (heck, that's pretty much what it still looks like).

And to think that at one point I thought doing the transfer inside the house might be the way to go...

The Child and I had a good time on the front porch playing with the feathers.  We discovered that it was fun to grab a handful of feathers, take them to the sidewalk, and throw them into the wind.  My, how far those feathers can fly!  (Sorry to my downwind neighbors.  No, a goose didn't meet a bad end in our cul-de-sac.)

As a final note -  if anyone wants the insert I'll bring it to the National Specialty with me.  It's barely been used!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

But "mark" sounds a lot like "bark"

Here's a picture of what Maggie and Ziggy like to do in their off time (in a perfect world, the cat wouldn't be there):

Yesterday the brindles didn't get their normal amount of sofa time.  Instead, I took Maggie and Ziggy for a private lesson with our obedience instructor.  I missed our Utility class on Tuesday, and want to make sure I'm heading in the right direction with Maggie.  Ziggy and I can always use the extra help.


She is doing really well on the signal exercise (including heeling).  She's also doing well on the first steps of directed jumping.

My instructor made the comment that Maggie is a "thinking" dog.  (My instructor really likes Maggie). This showed when we began to work with the gloves.  Maggie and I are starting with just one rolled up glove, working on the "mark" command.  I want her to look in the direction that I point when I say "mark."  First, we were using just one glove.  I'd throw it, say "mark" and send her on her way.  She learned this one really quickly, so we moved on to the same exercise, but with another glove laying out already.

She got this quickly, too, so we moved on to one glove placed (not thrown), and added in the turn.  We completed the turn, I gave her the hand signal and told her "mark."  She didn't quite know what to do.  I could tell she was really thinking.  I gave the command again.  I could see Maggie searching her database for the command.  She came up with "bark" she barked very gently and looked at me.  This cracked me up.  I have to say that "bark" is the closest of her other commands to "mark." Since she missed twice in a row, I took one step back (throwing the glove) so she could have success.

Maggie really seems to enjoy learning something new.


My instructor hasn't seen Ziggy in a while, as we've been working more on Rally and Agility lately.  She was pleasantly surprised with his progress.  His attention is better, and he is more animated during the exercises.  For the most part, he really seems to enjoy obedience!  We still have a long way to go, and Ziggy still has a very short attention span (his attitude seems to be, "we worked on this already, I'm done now"), but it's progress!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She's not really thinking about it, is she?!?

Oh yes, yes I am.

Those of you who were "lucky" enough to see my outstanding (and not in a good way) brace performances at the National Specialty last year may be thinking to yourself, "what will it take for that woman to learn her lesson?"  Clearly, I haven't found an answer to that question, and I've got a better plan this year.  Maggie + Ziggy.

Last year I had:
Denzil + Maggie = really not pretty, but vaguely resembling a Novice test
Denzil + Ziggy = disastrous corgi frap-a-thon resulting in more than one premature "exercise finished" from the judge

Denzil was the common denominator, and the instigator of naughtiness.  

The only combination I haven't tried is Maggie + Ziggy.  

I haven't made the decision yet.  I have another week or so to figure it out....


For those of you who've never seen a brace competition - it's when a (barely sane) handler takes 2 dogs into the obedience ring and performs a Novice Obedience test.  The dogs can be disconnected (2 leashes), or connected via a coupler (shown above), with only one leash used.  As in Novice obedience, there's also an off leash portion of the test.  This is where things can go very badly wrong.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ahh, it's good to be home again.

I made it back from India safely, but not without a bit of a hassle.  We arrived in Chicago after about 25 hours of travel only to find that our final flight had been cancelled.  The next available flight was 4 hours later.

I've been burned before in Chicago (waited for the later flight only to have it delayed), so my colleagues and I rented a car and drove home.  Thankfully there's a Starbucks at the Travel Oasis right outside of O'Hare, so we stopped for a couple shots of coffee and hit the road.  2.5 hours later we were at our local airport (I drove a little over the speed limit).  I love the flexibility of being able to drive home from O'Hare!

I arrived home to no find more snow on the ground.  It's mud season now, and the Trio are all looking (and smelling) a bit dingy.

Here's a pic taken about a week before I left.  I like this one of the Trio. Unusual to get one of all 3 together when they're not all on leash!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Home, Home!

I leave for the airport in 4.5 hours.  I'm still up packing, of course.  Well, not really packing, as I'm writing a blog post.  So really I'm procrastinating when I should be packing. 

Perhaps staying up late when I have to get up at 2am isn't the smartest thing to do.  But then again neither is eating a full Indian meal the night before I have to be on planes for close to 20 hours. 

But who cares?  Carpe diem!  Woo hoo!  I'm homeward bound to the human and canine pack.

Of course, tomorrow is a day that will last nearly 37 hours for me, so what's a bit of late night?

Anyway, back to dog posts soon!

(Don't miss my traffic post below - it will give you a look at things you won't see in US)

India Traffic

India traffic is a cultural experience.  The roads are crowded and the traffic signals, signs, and traffic control are few and far between.  Really few and far between.

Thankfully, our company doesn't let us drive whilst in India, so I don't have to deal with the traffic.  I've just learned to trust the driver, have my camera ready, and not be in a hurry to get anywhere.

On my last trip to India, I spent a LOT of time in the car.  Along the way I saw nearly every (or perhaps every) conceivable form of road transport.

In case you think I'm exaggerating,  here we go:

"Traditional" Motorized

See what I mean by bad traffic?

The best seats available.  And I mean seats.

It's a bus.  Not much to say here.

Entire family on motorcycle.  Note the woman riding sidesaddle.  I don't know how they stay on with all of the swerving required in India traffic!

 Moped turned sales vehicle.

"Non-Traditional" Motorized

Auto-rickshaw.  This one's empty.  I've seen more than a dozen passengers "in" one of these.

Tractor.  Why is this non-traditional?  Because tractors here often drive on the same roads as the cars - and not at "off peak" times.  And, it's used as the family station wagon when not used for farming.

"Traditional" Non-Motorized Transport

A cyclist.  There's lots of these.

The women here look beautiful even when walking on the roadside.

"Non-Traditional" Non-Motorized Transport
(Here's where it gets really fun )




Horse with a very fancy bridle.


Ok, so these water buffalo aren't pulling anything, but they are walking in the road.  So wouldn't they be considered "traffic"?

But don't worry.  If you get tired, just sleep in the road.  The cars, trucks, camels & scooters will go around you. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

India - I miss Muzak

That's a statement I never thought I'd say.  But, like many things, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Last night (Thursday) we met some colleagues at a nice restaurant for dinner.  When we arrived, they were playing instrumental, modern, Indian music.  Forgive me for that description if you're a music person, but it's the best way for me to describe it.  I sat down and thought to myself, "oh no, I might not be able to do the blog posting I'd planned about missing Muzak," as the music they were playing was appropriate to the atmosphere in the restaurant.

This lovely music continued in the background until we were nearing the end of our main course.  Then I was vindicated.  Suddenly, the music stopped.  When it re-started it was house and dance music.  My colleague (also from the US) turned to me and asked, "when is the disco ball going to drop?"  Now I like house music, (and part of me was tempted to throw my napkin on the table, shove back my chair, and start to dance)  but house music is a bit incongruous in the middle of a nice business meal.

During similar meals I've also experienced: 
'80's pop music (not so bad), Eminem and hard-core US Rap (this one's my favorite, as it occurred while dining in the ballroom of a 5 star hotel), and other various combinations of 70's, 80's & 90's pop.

I have to just smile at the disconnect between music and atmosphere and say "sure I'll have another drink.  Oh, and will you pass the naan?"

India - Nice pictures and a nice story

Nice pictures

Ok, so I realize that my trash/litter post probably didn't contain the photos of India that one might hope to see, so today I'll share some photos that I think show some of the interest/beauty of India that I captured on my last trip here.

A procession walked by our hotel. In the middle of the day. Complete with well-dressed people, flags, and a fancy cart & horse

Beautfully dressed women carrying a grass/plant of some sort

Roadside stand with vibrantly colored produce


Boys selling fruit to passengers on the bus in front of us (we were stopped at toll for a long time)

Nice story

There are a few feral/stray dogs that live across the road from our guest house.  You might remember from my last India trip (in October) that there are quite a number of these dogs in India.  Occasionally we hear a kerfuffle between them and other strays.  Today on the way to work we heard barking.  When we got to the road one of the dogs looked at my colleague and I and started to follow us.  (To provide a visual for you dog people, he looked like a basenji pointer cross).

The dog continued to travel along with us - sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, sometimes to the side.  Once he even walked right up to us, stopped, looked at me, and gave a sweet doggie smile.  He continued to follow us the entire 1/2 mile to work - including crossing a 4 lane road right by our sides.

When we started to approach the office (30 yards away) he looked at us, smiled, turned, and walked away.  

What a great way to start the day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

India - March trip: day two (or is it 3?)

Ah, the joy of jetlag.  To bed at midnight.  Wide awake at 4am.  I'm really looking forward to a full day of meetings, followed by a dinner w/ my company's India leadership team.  I ought to be on great form by the time dinner starts at 8pm. 

Caffeine.  My friend.

I promise a longer post later today or tomorrow morning when I'm up at 4am.

Here's my "random India picture of the day"

Who would litter if they had such cute trash cans? 

Oh, wait a minute.  Maybe it takes more than just cute trash cans.

At least the pigs are helping with cleanup.

Monday, March 8, 2010

India - March trip: day one

I arrived safely in India this morning at 3:00 am (local time - 3:30 pm in Iowa).  There was a long line at customs, so I didn't arrive at the guest house until 4:00.  Of course I couldn't get to sleep immediately, so I decided to read.

Which brings me to Ken.  Ken is great.  Lightweight, easy to read, held his charge.  The only problem I had is with the book I decided to read first.  "Izzy & Lenore" by Jon Katz.  One of my fellow Cardi bloggers recommended this book to me.  It's a great book, but NOT a book for a plane.  Why not a book for a plane?  Because it's a tear-jerker.  I've done the sobbing on public/mass transport thing before, and I've got to tell you, it's not for me.  Not only is this a tear-jerker, it's so good that I didn't want to put it down.  But, after the second tissue and some concerned looks from my fellow passengers, I just had to do it.  The joy of the Kindle?  It took me no time at all to find another book to read.  No rummaging through my carry-on.  No cursing because I left the book at home.  Just back to the "home" menu to choose another book.  I think this relationship with Ken is really going to work out.

Back to my day.  After falling asleep at ~7am, I woke at 10:30 to get ready for meetings all afternoon (thank goodness for caffeine).  Now it's 8pm and I'm going to sleep.

Or maybe I'll read a bit first....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

For the next week, the dogs have some time off.

I'm headed to India later today, so it's a week off of training for the Trio.  Not that they like having a week off - they all like to work.  This trip isn't coming at the most convenient time, as I have 2 rally trials with Ziggy in early April.  Nothing like a week off training before our first trial of the year.  Yippee!!

On the plus side, I am looking forward to finally getting some uninterrupted time alone with Ken (Kindle).  I finally get to dive into the books all of you recommended!

I have some India posts in mind that I'll try to do in the evenings.  I really hope the company guest house has a good internet connection!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trio Off-Leash Decision Tree: A new smell!

Ziggy & Maggie get a fair amount of off-leash time when the bike path near our house isn't busy.  The love to run through the grass and trees, sniffing everything they can.

Having spent years observing their off leash behavior, I would like to share the Trio's off leash "decision tree"  when they happen upon a new smell.

Step one:  Identify new smell

Decide:  Is this a really raunchy smell?

-->    if NO - sniff lightly and return to mom.

--->   if YES, proceed with decision tree

Decide:  Can I eat it?

--->   if YES, eat it and return to mom looking smug and enjoying the horrified look on her face.

--->   if NO, proceed with decision tree

Decide:  Is this something stinky enough to roll in?

--->   if YES,  roll for as long as you can.  Ignore your mom's calls.  You're rolling; it's heaven - who needs her?  When you're finally done rolling (and not a moment before) - return to your mom.

--->   if NO, pee on it and return to mom

Now that you're back with mom, begin to look for something else to sniff. 

 Repeat decision process as necessary.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trio Product Review #2: LLBean Therapeutic Dog Bed

Denzil wanted me to post a product review for his dog bed.
This is the LL Bean Therapeutic Dog Bed

My mom bought this bed for me a while ago.   She claims that the bed is high quality, and that the bumps on the bed should "eliminate pressure points" and "ease joint pain."  This may be true, but I do not like this bed.  I refuse to lay for any amount of time on this bed.

Here's what the bed looked like for a long time:

It was in the family room but I would not lay on it.  Notice I am not on this bed.

Sometimes I would lay my head on it:

It makes a pretty good pillow.

Sometimes I use it to prop myself up:

It works nicely as a paw rest, but I do not like to lay on it.

So my mom moved the bed to the bedroom and put it into what she calls the "prime sleeping location."  Yes, this location is closest to her, but I would still not lay on it. 

So she tried to put an extra dog bed on top of it.  She claims this makes it softer and better for nesting.

I still will not lay on it.  At night, she sometimes puts me on this bed.  I stay on the bed until she's asleep, then I move to one of the other dog beds.

I find these beds much more appealing.  

Now, I don't want you to think that I am picky about where I lay.

I sometimes just lay down on the floor (it's better than that dog bed).

I love to lay on the sofa.  My mom lifts me up and down so I can snuggle with the pack.

I also love to lay in the Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair.  This is my brother's chair, but he doesn't stay in it all the time.  Sometimes I get my turn.  He loves this chair.  I think he's told you about it before.  

It's nothing against LL Bean.  They make nice dog beds, and dog blankets, and floor mats that I lay on.  We even have another LL Bean bed that's almost just the same.  Without the therapeutic pad.  I love that bed.

I have also been known to lay in mud puddles when I can find them.  My mom doesn't have a picture of that, but she says she'll get one once Iowa thaws out enough for mud puddles.  

You see, I'm not a picky dog.  But I do not like to lay on the therapeutic dog bed.  I do not recommend it to other corgis.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...