Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Graduate Novice Retrieving Game

I've been trying to figure out ways to help Ziggy understand the game that is the dumbbell retrieve in obedience.

I started by trying to clicker train the dumbbell retrieve.  I succeed in getting a dog who loved to pick up hte dumbbell, but one who also promptly spit it out as I approached, anticipating the treat that always follows the click.

Since I now had a "hold" problem, I tried teaching him to take the dumbbell, then hold it.  He looks at me as if he's long-suffering, and drops the dumbbell as soon as I step away.

Next I tried a "restrained recall" retrieve.  I'd get Ziggy all revved up, hold his collar, throw the dumbell, and release him with the retrieve command (I use "take it") while he was still eager.  This helped get him running after the dumbbell and bringing it to the front position.  Then promptly dropping it.  Hmmm...  Noticing a pattern?

Then, last night, I was reading an article in a back issue of "Front & Finish" magazine.  The author was talking about the benefits of the non-regular AKC obedience classes.  She talked about how many of the non-regular classes build skills for a nice progression through the levels of obedience.

One of her examples stood out to me.  She mentioned how the Graduate Novice recall-with-the-dumbbell exercise taught dogs the useful skill of holding the dumbbell, not just chasing it and bringing it back.

Tonight I was doing a bit of training with Ziggy and that comment came to mind.  I decided to work on that exercise:  sit the dog, tell the dog to take the dumbbell, leave the dog, walk away, call the dog to front, take dumbbell from dog.

The game part came in when Maggie got wind that we were training.  She happened to be on the "training" side of the baby gates, and demanded to be part of things.  So I used her experience and keen attitude to my advantage.  Here's what I did:

  • I took both dogs and put them in a sit next to each other.  
  • I had Maggie take the dumbbell and hold it.
  • I left the dogs and walked down the hall.
  • I recalled both dogs to me.
  • Ziggy (the non-dumbbell holding dog) got to me first, so I threw a treat and sent him through my legs.
  • I closed my legs back together, and had Maggie do a proper front.
  • I took the dumbbell from Maggie.
  • I put both dogs in a sit, but this time gave the dumbbell to Ziggy.
  • I left both dogs and recalled them.
  • Again, the non-dumbbell dog (Maggie this time) got to me first, so I sent her front through my legs to get a treat.
  • I closed my legs back together and had Ziggy do a proper front with the dumbbell.
And guess what?  Ziggy held the dumbbell the whole time, and didn't drop it when he came to front.  His position at front was ugly, but he held the dumbbell!

I repeated a few times.  Both dogs thought the game was great.  Maggie was barking (which is how she expresses her joy) and Ziggy was even wagging his tail!

I just might have to work on this game a little more.  Recalls got quicker, Z is holding the dumbbell, and the old lady Maggie gets some low-impact work.  And, if the AKC ever makes Graduate Novice a Brace event, I'll be set ;)

Here's the setup:
Both dogs sitting 
One dog (Ziggy this time) holding the dumbbell
Both dogs awaiting the recall command (look at Maggie's eager expression!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Property pictures

Ok, so here's some info about our property:

14.9 acres
Great horse/animal property!
Most of it's in hay right now, but some trees
Partial views of Mt. St. Helens (when it's not cloudy - so @ least 10 days a year)

Ridgefield, WA
One exit N. of the Fairgrounds
Easy to access to I-5

I've always wanted to own land
Think how the Cardis will love nearly 15 acres!
The property is great; the house is not -- leaving many options

Show me:

Fields!  Trees!  No neighbors around to complain about barking!

Room for woods, fruit trees, and cross-country fences!

The NW field.  Lovely.

Tree-lined drive.
Yes, we need to clear some brush so the trees can thrive...

Part of the back of the house.
Yep - the house needs LOTS of work.
But it's all one-level (corgi friendly!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finally, a weight is lifted!!

Remember I said life was murky?  Well, here’s what was dragging me down:

You may recall that in February I posted exciting news that The Husband and I were buying a property in Southwest Washington State.  If you don’t recall, here’s the link:  http://wagsnwoofs.blogspot.com/2011/02/can-we-move-there-now.html

I outlined in the post how we’d been looking for a property for over a year – trying to take advantage of lower property prices to get our feet/paws in the door. 

Well, I posted the good news a little too soon. 

Shortly after that post we had a home inspection done.  While the house looked great inside, there were some problems hidden from view.  Some pretty big problems.  Problems like mold in the attic, a water leak from the upstairs bathroom that hadn’t been properly repaired, water in the crawlspace under the house, and more! 

We started adding up repair estimates, and came up with a pretty significant amount of cash that would be required to get the house fixed.  So we sent a revision to the seller.  We finally heard back from them in mid-April (2 months into the contract).  They thought we were crazy and didn’t accept the revised price, so we were out.

We started looking for houses again. 

While all of this was going on, a property we really liked was foreclosed and auctioned/sold back to the bank.  We saw this property back in December, but the day we wanted to make an offer (literally, the same day) the property was taken off the market. 

Then, in late-ish April, we received word from our Realtor that this property was on the market again – this time listed for even less than it had been before!  We were so excited! 

Apparently a bunch of other folks were excited too.  By early the next morning, 2 other offers were already on the property.  The bank decided to give all the buyers (4 including us) until end of day Monday to put in their best offer. 

Our Realtor advised us to have the property inspected before we put in our offer, so that our offer was as “clean” as possible.  We took her advice, and had inspections done on Friday and over the weekend. 

We submitted our offer on Monday, and held our breath. 

A couple days later, we received the good news that our offer was chosen.  As an added bonus, we found out that ours was not the highest offer, but since there were no contingencies, the bank chose us!  Yippee!!

Well, sort of yippee.  We were soon to discover the joys of buying a foreclosed property.

Here’s a summary of the agony that has been the past 4 months for us:
  • Bank sells property to us, but company specializing in REO properties (REO "experts") manage the sale for Bank.
  • REO company has a very detailed, very strict contract - with bad terms for buyer (us) and no bad terms for them or bank.  How convenient.  We grit our teeth, curse at them, and sign anyway.
  • Deal set to close in early May.
  • Hassles regarding financing arise.  There’s a broken pane of glass and the roof needs $400 of repairs.  It seems like this will prevent financing (thanks, Fed Gov’t for those new rules!).
  • Cr*p – if no financing we need to sweep cash from every corner to come up with purchase price.
  • I tell our cats & dogs to get a job to help out with cash crisis.  They refuse.  The Child refuses to hand over piggy bank.
  • We sweep up enough cash – but not before The Husband is nearly driven insane.
  • Mortgage lender figures out a way for us to get financing.
  • Previous property owner owes millions in back taxes so Fed Gov’t has a lien on the property.
  • Oops, Bank doesn’t have the paperwork right.  Does bank own property?
  • Fed Gov’t lien means we can’t close for another 90 days (Aug 5)
  • Property listed as open space.  Sort out open space designation forms for county.  Nearly everyone in the county needs to sign form (or so it seemed…).
  • Nearing August 5th – hey, where has the county paperwork and title gone? 
  • REO company doesn’t care where paperwork has gone, and suggests we just cancel the contract instead of them having to figure it out.  (insert expletive here) 
  • Our Realtor says no way to cancellation.
  • Our Realtor camps out at county office until paperwork is found. (Someone filed it in the wrong place…)
  • August 5th passes.  Contract extension until August 12th.
  • Other Realtors call our Realtor.  They have people who want the property.  Is it really going to close?
  • August 10th –The Husband and I sign all of our paperwork.  We’re ready to get the keys on the 12th!
  • Oh.  Bank still doesn’t have their sh*t together.  No closing on the 12th.  But at least we’re in the queue (?!?)
  • Contract extension to August 26th.
  • Title limping its way through the system. 
  • The Husband bugs our title company and our Realtor nearly every day.
  • Everything lined up and ready to close.
  • Oh, wait, we need more of your $$ for taxes, since contract has drug on so long.
  • My dad (bless him!) rushes a check for taxes to title company.
FINALLY, today it closed!!

We now, officially, own a house in SW Washington!

But now I’m worn out from typing this post, so I’ll share pictures and details tomorrow…

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Right now life is a bit murky

I have been a bad blogger - it's been nearly 3 weeks since my last post.  Right now a few things in life are in flux and I'm just not feeling too inspired to post.  Nothing horrible is happening, just some things weighing me down.

Dog stuff has been weird.  Last week I had my trip to India postponed/cancelled for the THIRD time since March.  This stinks because each of the weeks I'm supposed to have gone there's been a dog show somewhat nearby.  Since trips to India consume two weekends, I haven't been able to enter.  The trip that was just cancelled overlapped with a 4 day show just a little over an hour away.  I didn't enter, as I was to be out of town.  The trip was finally cancelled two days after the show closed.  Grrr...

Since I didn't have any shows on the horizon, my training has been a bit haphazard.  Right now I'm:

  • Working on dumbbell retrieves and drop on recall with Ziggy (in the great hope that one day he'll go into the Open ring).
  • Working on various exercises with Rip:  teeter in agility, backing up, recalls and stays (this is a big gap for us now).
  • Getting back into agility with Ziggy.  I made it into a local agility trial in early October.  It's at one of our local training buildings, so I'll have a chance to practice there a couple of times a week between now and then.
Hopefully some of the murkiness will clear up in the next week or so and I can get back to dogging and blogging.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ziggy Loves to Meet and Greet

How to put a smile on Ziggy's face?
Take him somewhere he'll be petted!

This summer we found a new love for Ziggy.  Meeting and greeting new people!

The Child was in a summer program at our local elementary school.  Our house is just a few houses away from the school's sports field, so we walked to and from school each day.  In the evening the kids were playing outside, so we often took a dog with us on the walk.

Whenever we showed up with one of the dogs, the kids would come over to say hello.  When we took Maggie, she tolerated a few gentle pats.  When we took Rip, he leapt up and gave the kids with one of his "spearing" licks on the face.  When we took Ziggy he was in heaven.  He loved the hugging, he loved the petting, he loved it all.  He was sweet, polite, and tolerant.  Ziggy was even enthusiastic about the whole thing!

When I got home from work, changed my clothes, and headed to the front door Ziggy would get very excited (yes, Ziggy got excited about something).  When we headed out the door the ever-polite, non-leash pulling Ziggy would start wagging his tail, and go as fast as I would allow over the school.  So sweet!!  He developed a bit of a fan club (2 little girls and one of the kids' counselors LOVED him) over the course of the summer.

This makes us think that maybe Ziggy wants to be a therapy dog.  Last night our kennel club did a demo at an assisted living facility, and The Husband took Ziggy to help.  Apparently Ziggy had a great time.  He got to do some basic obedience as part of the demo, then got to meet each of the residents.  Happy dog!

Now the trick is finding enough time in our crazy lives to get Ziggy to be an "official" therapy dog....
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