Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tomorrow's the Big Day

Tomorrow I plan to change the name of my blog!

The "Trio" part no longer applies, though the "of Trouble" part certainly still does - it's time to change the name.

So tomorrow my blog name will become Wags n Woofs.  Please keep visiting us!

Ziggy is happy with the name change.  He never thought he was trouble.  

Indeed, here's a picture of Ziggy trying to make us all think that he's not trouble....

How could a cute dog on a garden bench be any trouble...?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Corgi Problem Solving

Ziggy may not be tenacious when it comes to holding his sit stays, but he IS tenacious when there's an important problem to be solved.  Let's take a look.

It appears The Child has left something after snack time.

Let's zoom in for a closer look.  What could it be?
A cheddar bunny perhaps?

Hmm - something IS there.

Maybe my tongue will reach.
Nope.  Need longer tongue or a better angle.

Maybe this side will work.
Wait.  It's further away now.

I know!  I'll climb up INTO the chair.
From the side.  That's the easiest, isn't it?


Thursday, July 22, 2010


I won’t talk about naming of dogs here, but naming in general. I’m finishing a project here at work that addresses naming standards.    Now I can't help but think about names, see good/bad names, etc.  It's kind of like when you get a new car - you start to see them everywhere.

I’ve learned a few important things along the way that seem to apply well to the blogosphere:

Consider your audience.

Who needs to understand what you’re offering?

What are the key things you want your audience to know about what you’re naming? A name can’t convey everything, so what are your priorities?

An example here is the name of my friend’s blog, “A Day in the Wife.” The name conveys a certain wit, and it relates back to the blog topic – her life as a wife and mother.

In which countries/geographies does your target audience reside?  If it’s an audience that crosses regions and geographies, make sure your name means what you think your name means in all geographies.

How broad is your audience -- is it just “insiders” who would understand industry specific terms, or is it more broad than that?

An example here goes back to a conversation I had with The Husband recently:

The Husband, “Do you mind if I stay in Iowa City overnight so I can go to a BioMixer?” Me, “That really doesn’t sound good - a bit unsanitary. Why would any wife let their husband go to a BioMixer!?!”

Turns out it’s a mixer for those in the BioTech field. Hmmm… maybe they should have thought of a different name….

Make the name easy to understand & pronounce

Avoid acronyms and names that are hard to pronounce. Acronyms only make sense to “insiders.” And heck, who wants to struggle to figure out how to pronounce a name?

It’s hard for people to talk about something if they can’t pronounce it,  and it’ll probably take more effort for it to catch on (if it catches on at all).

We can all think of blog and/or kennel names the we see and wonder how in the world to pronounce.  As a rule of thumb, if you have to explain how to pronounce it to your target audience, it's probably too difficult to pronounce in the first place.

Think about the future.

Where are you headed? You don’t want a name to be too restrictive, or to make no sense if you choose to expand.

An example: The name of my blog “Trio of Trouble.” I tested the name with my target audience, it’s easy to pronounce, and it relates back to the trouble that 3 Cardigans can cause. But what if I get another Cardi? Or what if I one of the dogs moves to a new home? (oh wait, that actually happened) Then the name just doesn’t fit. It’s too limiting.

This reminds me.  Maybe I need to change my blog name.  Whaddya think about Wags n Woofs?

Here's a good example in these 2 signs.   Tell us what your store does, and don't forget to think about the future.

Hobby Lobby.  Got it.  Something to do with hobbies and stuff to help me with them.

The second sign down:  An example of not thinking of the future.
"Just Cabinets"  Oh wait, we'd better explain.  What we mean is furniture and more.

 (Pardon the poor picture.  I took it while stopped at a stoplight..)

Happy naming!  Maybe I've now sucked some of you into the world of heightened name awareness....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Little Obedience Addict?

The Child has helped me train scent discrimination articles a couple of times.  He helps put the articles out and move them around as necessary.  Yesterday he didn't want to be left out, so he grabbed his stuffed dog, Bree, and got to work.

Bree is a black lab and picked up on things very quickly.

Here's the step-by-step method:

Teach your dog how to hold the metal article 
- use lots of praise and encouragement

Scent the article by rubbing it between your palms

Set out the scented article

Follow your dog to the pile

Dog works the pile
- praise dog when it finds the right article

Lots of praise when dog returns the right article!

(Please pardon the shirtless Child with farmer's tan.  It was a hot day, but when he came inside to the A/C he decided to go shirtless...  For the first time ever.  I can't explain.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

Last week I had one night as a single parent – which means a busy evening, but time at the end of the evening when I can do/watch whatever I want.  After training the dogs a bit, I settled down on the couch with a glass of wine and a video.  The video?  “Around the Clock Scent Discrimination” by Janice DeMello.

Yes, I took my rare free time to finish watching the video on the Utility articles (aka scent discrimination) training method I’ve chosen for Maggie.  It seemed a natural choice.  Glass of wine, training notebook (I had to take notes!), and a VCR tape (borrowed from a friend who bought it years ago) of a woman training her dogs in her basement.  What could be better?

It was somewhere around the time I was taking notes on week four that I realized my behavior is just a bit abnormal and geeky.  I’m headlong down the rabbit hole of competitive obedience.  There’s just so much to learn.  I’m not striving for a perfect 200 score – I want to have fun with the dogs, keep them interested, and learn how to train new things.

So far, Maggie and I are really enjoying this training method.  It’s all about teaching to dog how to be right, and challenging them more & more each week.  For Maggie, it involves lots of squeeze cheese, treats & praise.  The only thing she’d change is the metal articles.  She really doesn’t like them, and gives a long-suffering look as she’s returning them. 

Maggie and the leather article

Maggie and the metal article.
Note long-suffering look.

For those of you who aren’t crazy obedience people – in the Utility Articles exercise the dog is sent to a pile of dumbbells laid out on the ground.  One of these dumbbells (aka articles) is scented by the handler.  The others aren’t.  The dog picks up the article with the owner’s scent and returns it to the owner.  This is done two times – once with a metal article, and once with a leather article.  Utility articles should be easy for a dog.  Sniff around a pile of utility articles, pick up the one that smells like mom, and bring it back to mom.  Easy for a species with a great nose!  I’ve never trained a dog to do articles before, so poor Maggie gets to suffer through my learning curve, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Maggie's Cheering!

Maggie in action

In my quest to make myself more interesting to Ziggy, I've been playing with him more - tug, tricks, etc.  It's a lot of fun, and Z seems to enjoy it.

The problem:  Maggie.

Maggie likes to bark.  No, that's not true.  Maggie LOVES to bark.  When she's excited, she barks.  And barks.  And barks.  Maggie's way of participating in Ziggy's play is to bark incessantly.  This doesn't bother me, but The Husband and The Child aren't fans.

Last night Z and I were tugging.  Maggie was barking as usual.  The Child decided to yell at Maggie.  This scared Ziggy, so he stopped playing.  I told The Child not to yell at Maggie; that she just likes to bark.  His reply, "Oh, so Maggie's just cheering for Ziggy." 

Ziggy tugging.  Maggie still cheering!

Exactly!  What a great way to think of it.

Once The Child established that it was just cheering, the barking ceased to bother him.  Now if I can just convince The Husband that corgi "cheering" is fun, I'd be set!

Still cheering.....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Maggie's Mojo

It's four days since Denzil left, and I finally feel like I've got Maggie back.  Tuesday and Wednesday especially Maggie was acting in a way that I can only describe as "mopey" -- maybe even a little depressed.

Symptoms included:

  • Much less happy barking than usual 
  • No desire to go outside unless absolutely necessary
  • No following The Husband or I around the house
  • Sleeping under the bed most of the time
  • No helping her brindle brother protect the house
  • No barking and running to the cupboard when the word "biscuit" was said
The Husband pointed this out to me on Wednesday, and sure enough - she was a mopey girl.  Thankfully she continued eating, drinking, peeing & pooping normally - so I didn't worry that something physical going on.  I realized then that Denzil really never went anywhere without Maggie - except to class or for a short walk.  Maggie has gone places without Denzil many times (dog shows, seminars, a week for the National Specialty), but he'd never left her.  I'm pretty sure she knew something was up and didn't like it.

So how to get my sassy old lady back?  I decided to train her more (the girl loves to work).  We're learning Utility scent articles which requires her to think about doing something new.  It also involves lots of treat, praise, and cheese whiz (yum!).  I've been keeping the training extra-lively and get her to bark, woo, and even frap a bit between tries.    It also takes about 20 minutes to run through the exercise every day, so she gets lots of my undivided attention.

It seems to be working.  I wouldn't say she's 100 percent herself, but she's much more lively, gets excited to go outside, and is back to following me around the house.  Whew.

This is how I like Maggie to be - wagging, happy & sassy

Denzil update:  My dad and Denzil made it home safely yesterday, and Denzil seems to be settling in fine.  My mom has already started to call him "our dog" - which I take as a good sign :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Denzil goes to Washington!

My favorite Denzil picture

Denzil left today to go to a new home in Washington State.  He is moving in with my parents, in the hope that the slower pace of life will enable him to be more comfortable.

The decision was a very tough one for both The Husband and I.  Denzil is an absolute joy of a dog.  He’s well-trained, he’s always ready to go, he’s sweet, and he’s friendly.  Unfortunately he’s also got bad knees.

We’re able to keep him comfortable by restricting his exercise (no frapping with the other dogs, always on leash for walks, etc.), giving him supplements to help his joints, keeping him lean, and giving him a Deramaxx every other day.  The problem with this regime comes from the “no frapping with the other dogs” part.  Denzil will frap anywhere, any time.  Inside?  No problem!  Outside?  Even better!  With 2 other dogs this restriction became very difficult to manage.  Either Ziggy or Denzil had to be in a crate inside unless very closely supervised (i.e., in the same room).

We were considering finding a more relaxed, more temptation-free home for him.  We’ve been considering it for a while.  Then we went on vacation and I forgot to leave the house sitter instructions NOT to let Denzil out with the others (BAD LANI!!).  When we got back from vacation, our months of restricted exercise were undone, and Denzil was limping for weeks afterwards.  Then we started to think about the winter.  Iowa winters – with snow and ice for months – are not easy on short-legged dogs with bad knees.

So I called my parents.  They live on about 1.5 acres – all fenced.  They have a one-level home, and no other dogs.  Since they’re both retired, Denzil will get plenty of attention and regular exercise to keep him fit, busy, and happy. 

The best part (if there is a best part) of the whole arrangement is that we’ll get to see Denzil whenever we go visit my parents.  Come to think of it, that may be one of the reasons they agreed to this.  Denzil = Lani coming to visit more often = getting to see the grandson more regularly.  Hmm…

So off Denzil went today.  In a car with my dad.  Filled with everything one needs (and more, probably) to keep a Cardi happy & healthy.  I even created an “owner’s manual” to go along with Denzil.  I hope the transition goes well, and I look forward to seeing Denzil when I visit my parents in just a few weeks!

We miss him already.  The house seems quite a lot emptier without him here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I agree with Kristine

For those of you who get Clean Run magazine, and have read this month’s opening article – you know what I’m talking about.  For those who don’t get Clean Run –shame on you – you’re missing some great agility tips and articles J.  

One of these great articles was written by a fellow Cardi-crazy, Kristine.  Her article is about training and competing with a “less than perfect” dog.  You know, one of those dogs that doesn’t live to compete –who will never earn a MACH or an OTCH or perhaps even an “excellent-level” title.   She talks about having fun training and competing with one of these dogs.

I absolutely agree.  Right now, Ziggy is one of these dogs.  He is a challenge to motivate and even more of a challenge to take into competition-type environments.  Sometimes --  like last Friday at an obedience show-n-go when Ziggy decided the people serving as figure 8 posts were absolutely going to get him and he needed to RUN AWAY -- I feel despair that all of my training is futile.  Great dog in training; weirdo who seems like he’s never been trained when he’s “tested.”

Most of the time, though, I enjoy working with the Z.  He is making me a much better dog trainer, and is teaching me training techniques that I never knew existed.  I’m attending seminars, reading new books, re-reading old books, and watching my fellow dog trainers much more than I would if Ziggy were as easy to train as Maggie & Denzil were.  And, I’m having fun doing it.

Yes, I hope that someday Z and I will have a “breakthrough” that allows me to have the fun, happy, bouncy, dog in the ring that I have when practicing.  But that’s the challenge of the journey.  And I’ll be SO thrilled when I get an obedience score in the 190’s with Ziggy – or when I get a clean, fast run in agility.  It’s just going to take me a (long) while longer….

Ziggy -
 Completely unconcerned that he'll never earn an OTCH

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