Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

Yum!!

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

I recently was in Rochester Minnesota visiting my best bro who was having surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital (part of the Mayo Clinic). That may be another post for down the road.

St. Mary's Hospital

St. Mary's Hospital

While I was there I discovered a GREAT little restaurant directly across the street called the Canadian Honker.

If you can’t find something on the menu you want, then you just don’t like food! They have some of everything: really unique burgers – steaks - yummy sandwiches – walleye – ribs – wraps – shrimp - soups and pasta. And if you’re still hungry after all that, you can get a piece of Bunnie’s Coconut Cake – a Honker Favorite. They had other sinful looking desserts as well, but I opted to pass on the extra calories.

The restaurant has a nice homey feel to it, and 2 out of 3 nights that I was there they had a solo guitarist/singer.

The 2nd night that we came in, our waitress actually remembered what kind of wine my sister in law had the night before. Seriously? That’s some pretty awesome service.


Anyway – I don’t usually do restaurant reviews, but just wanted to give a SHOUT OUT to all the folks at the Canadian Honker that helped make the trip enjoyable, and give the rest of you a tip on where to eat if you’re ever in the area. Try it – you’ll LOVE it!!!




Micah’s October Challenge

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Halloween presents an especially difficult scenario for the socially challenged.

Dogs that have social “issues” have an especially hard time on this night of nights, with ghosts and goblscaryins running through the neighborhood, ringing doorbells and yelling “trick or treat”. Can you imagine what they must be thinking? Don’t worry mom - I’ll protect you!!!!!

Micah tried REALLY hard to be a good boy tonight. (I temporarily have a couch sitting almost directly in front of my front door. Not great decorating, but hey – it’s just temporary. The couch is on its way out).

So Micah planted himself on the arm of the couch and sat patiently waiting for his reward for being good. And he WAS good.

That is until the doorbell rang, or he heard the squeals of the kids running up the walk. As soon as I opened the door he would leave his designated spot on the couch to run to the door. Try as he might, it was a tough task for him to hold his position.

Dog training is a process. Sometimes it’s a L-O-N-G process. He’s definitely not an automaton. He’s a feisty little terrier boy, high on the scale of reactivity. And so, we continue to tame the wild beast within. Stay tuned.

Try New Things

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The excitement was in the air. We had our “Intro to Earthdog” talk from Karen M who filled us in on the rules and regs. She was running the ring we would be in, and we were excited to be there with our 10 year old Rat Terrier, Ruby. Ruby has “back issues”, and isn’t able to do much in the way of dog sports. (She’s been the resident “house princess” of our pack for many years).

However, we knew that finding the rats at the end of the tunnel would be a big rush for her. How fun!!!! Chasing quarry, AND spend the day with mom and dad without her brother!! Major score!!

So in preparation for today, we bought a couple of cardboard tubes for her to practice running through. We give the cue “tunnel” and she runs through like she really MEANS it!!! YES! She is ok with going through something a little dark.


The tunnel used in the earthdog intro is a straight 9” square plywood tunnel with one 90 degree turn. Rats are at the end – in a cage – behind wooden dowels. No rats are hurt during this exercise! In fact they looked amazingly indifferent throughout the process.

The moment was approaching. Ruby was dog #7 in the lineup for Intro. I couldn’t WAIT to see our little girl dashing through the tunnel, barking and scratching at the end where the rats are.

Since she had never done this before, Karen took the cage with the 2 rats out of the tunnel and dragged it along the ground. Ruby expressed a mild sort of interest. No, more like a mild dis-interest. Yeah that’s what it was. It was like “What is that? A what? A rat? Oh Hi! Want to be friends?”


Woah!!! Uh – Ruby – you DO realize you’re a rat terrier right? A RAT TERRIER! Hello!! OK – so much for breed expectations. If the squirrels in the yard had seen that, they never would have believed it!


Oh well, no harm, no foul. We had a nice morning, met some new friends, and had a little fun. As for Ruby, she has returned once again to her preferred position of “house princess”. Good girlie.

rubsheets


The Bucket List - Revisited

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A few years ago I wrote a blog post (Cross One Off the List) about one of my bucket list items (shooting a gun) that I tried, and didn’t care for. So I crossed that one off my list.

handgun1


I named a few other things that would really be cool to try before  I die, but I really haven’t given the list much thought since then -   at least not until a few months ago. One thing kept creeping back  into my stream of consciousness saying “do it – do it”. “But I don’t have time” I retorted (all in my head you understand). “I REALLY need to get the house in order (please God) before I die, and painting to do, and a million more dog books to read and dog video’s to see, and new flooring to put in”, etc. etc. etc. But the voice . . . the VOICE kept saying “do it – DO it”.

After all – one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be a more well-rounded person. To NOT be “all dogs, all the time”. So on a busy Saturday afternoon, I dragged my husband with me to the music store, to look at bass guitars. Mind you – I had NO intention of buying one that day – I was only there to look. Yeah, right. So much for self-control. If you know me very well, you know that I’m an “instant gratification” kind of girl. Not something I’m proud of, but hey, I am what I am.

So - we brought this beauty home.

bass

I say “we” because I think Big R (who is already      pretty musically inclined) will get as much enjoyment out of the bass as I will.

Can I explain or justify my getting something like a new bass guitar when I have no idea how to play it? No. (I played acoustic guitar when I was young - about a million years ago, but that’s a completely different thing from playing a bass).

Do I think that eventually I will join an “all girl band” and make my fortune playing for the high-society folk? No.

Did I do this purely for the crazy fun of it? ABSOLUTELY. Make sense? Probably not, but sometimes in life you just have to go for it, and do things “just because”. Just because the feeling moves you, or just because there’s a calling there, or just because you WANT to. Life’s too short guys, and sometimes you just have to grab a little gusto and run with it! Life’s a BLAST!!! Have fun!!! I know I will!

So the only question that remains is – will I ever get to sing backup for Tina Turner?   :-o  Who knows?

Fun Dog Sports

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The great thing about having a dog these days is that there are a TON of different things that you can do with him.

Agility
Flyball
Earthdog
Competition Obedience
Rally
Freestyle
Disk Dog
Dock Diving
Conformation
Carting
Field Trials
Herding
Lure Coursing
Dog Mushing
Tracking
Treibball - another new personal favorite
Weight Pulling

Whew!! That’s a lot of dog sports. And now there’s another to add to the list. K9 Nose Work.

nose2tes2

It was founded by a group of folks in California that are involved in Search and Rescue. They thought it would be great if the average pet on the street could have as much fun with their nose as the S&R dogs. Turns out they CAN! And so “K9 Nose Work” was born.

These folks have put a lot of thought and effort into this new sport and the dogs are LOVING IT!! They don’t need any special training (or actually ANY training at all) to participate. Since only one dog works at a time to get the “find”, even dogs that are reactive or dog aggressive can play. There is no interaction between them whatsoever.

The first set of classes is Introduction to Nose Work and the dogs learn to find food with their nose. It’s a win-win. Find the food (which is fun) and eat it!!! Also fun! Once the dogs get accustomed to searching and finding the food, they move on to odors. The odors are first coupled with food, so that they are getting both scents together. Then they move on to straight odor.

nose1

Least you think “duh, what dog couldn’t do that” you should know that by the time they get to where they are testing to get certified, the dogs are searching for odor on something as small as a q-tip in an area that could be as large as a warehouse or an elementary school. It’s not exactly easy, but they all work their way up to the challenge. They also learn to do exterior searches and vehicle searches.

In one of my classes we took the dogs to a local home improvement store where they proceeded to search for the reward in an isle filled with bins and compartments and small containers. They did AMAZINGLY well! I was so proud of them.

It’s just one more venue among a myriad that we can have fun with. If interested in getting more information please see the following link:

http://www.k9nosework.com

By the way – I give Nosework classes at Dog City Training Center if you happen to be in the Dallas area.

http://www.dogcitytrainingcenter.com

We have lots of other fun classes as well!!!
Happy Training!

Crack Balls

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago at agility class, Micah had to run over and “snark” at another dog. He does this occasionally. Not a lot, but occasionally. Especially if there is someone new in class that he’s not familiar with. After working with him for. . . what . . . 4+ years now? I started thinking that I might be trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Even though he is physically Perfect for agility (lean and leggy), his inability to focus is getting me down. I started to entertain the idea that we may never be able to really excel at this sport, and I might have to look for something else to do with him.

micah_400p3

Tonight at agility class at Dog City Training Center, Micah discovered the “crack balls”. (We just call them that because it seems that ALL dogs LOVE them). He has a special toy at home that he’s totally nuts about, but I think the new crack ball will give it a run for it’s money. He was absolutely spastic as I placed the ball on top of a shelf while it was our turn to run; jumping and {{{quivering}}} and yipping for the ball. Please momma, please momma, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!!

I tried to get him to come but he was having none of it. So my instructor suggested that I put the ball in my pocket and throw it for him as a reward at the end. It was a good idea – at least in theory. He had a lot of trouble completing his sequences because he kept pulling off to come (try to) get the ball. However – his level of excitement was unbelievable, and he was TOTALLY focused on ME. As she pointed out, he didn’t so much as LOOK at another dog during the entire hour we were there. And that’s saying a LOT for Micah.

crackball

Since this was our first attempt at training with a toy instead of food, I do realize that this was the roughest night. I’m sure that as he gets accustomed to using the ball, he will be able to focus a bit more, just knowing that the ball is coming. I’m very excited about this new possibility.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet. Fingers crossed!

Stay tuned.

Fun Party Trick

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Dang it!!! I just can’t get the video link to work. Not so computer savvy - but REALLY wanted to show the VIDEO!!!!

So I’ll have to settle for this not so great quality pic of Micah - the most fun boy EVER - and his new party trick called “feet”.

"feet"

Here’s one more that is really poor quality - but shows what good “vertical lift” he’s getting.

More "feet"

Good Boy Micah!!

The Power of “Shaping”

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

For those of you not fluent in “clicker” language, shaping is a process wherein you “click” (thus telling the dog – yes – that’s exactly what I want) for tiny approximations toward your goal behavior. It is a powerful, powerful tool.

Let’s say I want to train Micah to make a figure 8 around two traffic cones. First I would click him for just looking at the cone(s). I will usually click twice for the same behavior. Then the third time he looked at the cones I would just wait (and NOT click). I would wait for him to offer SOMETHING ELSE. More than likely he would take a step toward one of the cones and I would click again. The next step would be for him to actually get close to one of the cones, and I would click for that.

IMG_1657.JPG

Then he might turn back toward me, asking “is that what you wanted?” No click for turning back toward me. So he would probably go and sniff the cone, for which I would click again. Then I would withhold the click until he made just the slightest movement toward the back of it. Click! As he starts to move around the back of the cone – click again.

Hopefully you’re getting the idea of how shaping works. The process of getting him to go around the 1st cone took about 2 minutes. Getting the figure 8 around both cones took less than 10 minutes. I dare say I would have had a hard time training that behavior in 10 minutes with any other method.

Dogs that get “shaped” on a regular basis are pretty savvy on how to play the game. Instead of just standing there looking at you – waiting for you to “lure” them into position, (or better yet, physically push them into position such as pushing a dogs butt to the ground for a sit), you get a dog that thinks “hmmmm – what can I do to get mommy to make that clicking sound”, and will try behaviors on their own. They will actually search out ways to make the clicker “click”. The science of behavior has proven that when a dog makes a conscious decision, it releases endorphins in the brain. This is a very good thing! The behavior sticks because they have learned it ON THEIR OWN. THEY did something that caused the click, and hence the reward (be it food, or play or praise). They learn NOTHING by having their butt pushed to the ground, and they learn PITIFULLY LITTLE (I would guess virtually nothing) by leading them with a treat in front of their nose. In fact, the treat in front of the nose (for most dogs with a pulse) mainly makes them deaf, dumb and blind to much of anything else.

I can’t emphasis enough what a HUGELY powerful tool shaping is. If you want to prove it to yourself – conduct a little experiment in “free shaping”. Get out your clicker and some yummy treats and just wait for your dog to do something – anything. If he hears something and he turns his head to the left – click. If he sneezes – click. If he lies down – click. (The only things that I would NOT click would be behaviors that you don’t want such as barking, etc).

What he will start to understand is that, HE is somehow causing you to click (and reward). Just play the game for 2 to 3 minutes and then end with a “good dog” and maybe a short game of tug.

The next time you get out the clicker, he will start offering even more behaviors. Experiment with putting various objects on the floor. Will he put a paw on it? Will he touch his nose to it? Will he pick it up and fling it across the room? These are all behaviors that can be put on “cue” or command. You may ask, why would I want to put a head turn, or a fling across the room on cue. Why would I want my dog to do that? Quite simply, the more a dog learns, the easier learning becomes. And if you want to get a little creative, you can do some pretty interesting things with a few simple behaviors strung together.

Don’t forget – just like people – dogs need mental stimulation, as well as physical exercise. Learning is fun, and will make him a better, more enjoyable dog. I promise!!!!

Happy Training!

The Turbinator

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

There’s really nothing exciting going on at the moment, so I thought I would just share a short clip of my Doberman Turbo. Turbo is a special needs boy. He’s a little short on the gray matter, but is the sweetest boy in the world. He took a Doberman temperament test once and failed the part that involved an “aggressive stranger”. He was supposed to get aggressive back, but instead he just stood there and looked at the guy. I’m quite OK with that, since he’s 90 pounds of muscle. (Don’t need 90 pounds of “aggressive” muscle). :-)

Anyway, here’s a clip of his best tricks. Enjoy!

Silly Dober-boy

Micah’s 2×2 Weave Pole Update

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

I know it’s been some time since I said I was going to post video of Micah’s progress with his weave poles. Our progress has been a little slower than I would have liked, in part due to me! and my lack of organization. But I think he’s coming along nicely.

He is doing 8 poles at home, with a fair amount of speed, but he lacks consistency. He frequently doesn’t complete all 8, but I have a plan for working that. Alas, I was so excited to go to agility class the other night and show my instructor how well he is doing, and he looked at her set of poles like he had never seen one before! Ha! What was that about generalization? And how dogs aren’t very good at it? (That’s why you always have to work something in LOTS of different places, for the dog to really GET it). OK dog trainer – start moving those weaves around the yard a bit. Oh yeah, I remember now. Duh!

Anyway – here’s the video of him and his 8 poles. I have a longer version (still under 3 minutes) of a summary of 2 poles to 8 poles, but I really think the only one who might be interested in that is Gail. Let me know if anyone out there is dying to see it, and I’ll post it.

Here’s the link:

micah doing 8 poles