December 31, 2008

Still in the great white north

I'm feeling much better now, but I have no voice. I lost it three days ago and it's still not back yet. Very annoying!
The dogs are doing well and Dazzle is enjoying the snow. He keeps going to the back door and when I let him out, he turns around and looks at me like "aren't you coming?" Sometimes he goes out and races around the fenced area by himself, other times he just wants back in.
He's been going a bit stir crazy cooped up in the house while I've been sick, but tossing his ball to the top of the steps and having him run up and down them has been a life saver. Dad took him out yesterday and played fetch in the fenced area for awhile till his hands got cold. Even Bear got in on it and was racing around the yard and trying to get the toy. He did manage to get it once and played keep-away from Dazzle for a bit before he got it back. Then the tables were turned and Dazzle spun in a circle to play keep-away from Bear. It was great to see the two of them out there racing around having so much fun.
Coyote watched them from inside, with me, but didn't want to join in. I'm having to put him and Dazzle outside separately because Dazzle wants to bark right in Coyote's face. Coyote is tollerating it, but I don't want to push my luck. Coyote does NOT find it nearly as much fun as Dazzle and has started to not want to go outside if Dazzle is out there. Hence, the separate times outside (especially since I can't stop them with my currently non-existant voice.) They did get into a fight over this a few days ago and Coyote got a cut under his eye and Dazzle got a small puncture in his nose. Not sure how (or if) this will carry over once we are back home and they have access to a dog door again.
We haven't been doing much training. I figure it's Dazzle's vacation too :-) In the few sessions I've done with him, he's still doing great so I'm not worried he will lose anything. But I do plan to enter the Show n' Go at Kuliga scheduled for the day after we get back home. I have been working on teaching him the "Crate Games" on the video done at "Say Yes Dog Training." I'm drawing a blank on the instructor's name though.
We started with his wire crate and have now progressed to his tent-like folding crate. It's super light weight and large enough for him to be comfortable. But he could get out of it in an instant if he really wanted to. Hence, the training to help him LOVE the crate and want to stay in it. :-) So far, it's been going well and he stayed in the open crate all through dinner last night (treats getting tossed in from time to time.) This morning, I had a hard time getting him OUT of the crate when I was done training, so I think that's a good problem to have.
Here's a few photos that were taken by Chad (or was it Sarah?) last month when I stopped by to see them on my way to NY.
One of the best trotting photos I have of him.
Recall and a Wha hoo!
Or maybe this is his flying reindeer imitation? LOL
Normally he does this closer to the height of my shoulder!
Speaking of jumping, he learned today to jump a baby gate. NOT what I really wanted him to learn. :-(

December 26, 2008

Ho Ho Humbug!

Is there any worse time to be sick than when visiting family for Christmas? I think not. But since the day after I arrived, I've been laid up with a nasty cold that seemed to love my throat and nose. Not being able to talk (or breathe) without hurting is no fun. So until today, I've been mostly on the couch under a blanket.
Coyote is the one who wanted to snuggle and lay by me the most. Dazzle just wanted to jump on my head (literally!) and seemed to wonder why I didn't yell at him or get up to play.
Thank God my husband was here to help care for the dogs. My parents helped too, but not having to get out of bed early on the day I felt the worst to let them out and feed them was a big help. Dazzle has been a real trooper, given his drastic reduction of play and training. He got in a few fights with Coyote and pestered Bear more than usual, and somewhere found a full roll of toilet paper to shred, but was otherwise a good boy.
This morning I felt much better and was able to do a quick training session with his breakfast. Mike went back home with 2 of the dogs (King: his shadow and Buster.) Buster did really well this trip. He actually stayed on the first floor in the living room next to me or Mike (instead of hiding upstairs the whole time.) And he came to the table to get bits of toast from my mom too! After Mike left, I bundled up and took Dazzle out to toss the frisbee for a little bit to let him run off some pent up steam between rain showers.
I'll be staying up here till next year, probably the second or third of January. Which sounds so far away, but is less than a week. Where the heck did 2008 go!?
I did also manage to get a few photos today, since I missed taking his weekly photo yesterday. I'll have to see if I can get a measuring stick to check his height since I forgot to bring the "official" one I'm using to mark his growth. Not the usual standing photo though, just a few action shots and a posed shot.
Nice Trot (blurry but you get the idea):
The three amigos (Dazzle, Coyote and Bear):
Frizbee face:
Fast return:
He really likes getting this Kong Frisbee in the center instead of on the edge. He tries to scoop up other things in the fold like leaves and grass. I think he's been talking to Buster, who does the same thing and brings half the yard back with the frisbee!

December 20, 2008

Holiday activities

Yesterday we had a busy day. I did all my Christmas shopping in about an hour at Wal-mart, then I drove to the other side of the city (a.k.a. East Bajezus :-) to meet-up with friends for a dinner at Magiano's at East Gate mall. Dazzle did very well with the wall to wall people at the Wal-mart store, though I was feeling rather stressed by the crowds! Holiday shoppers are the worst!
We walked around the mall a little bit because we were early for dinner. I got a couple things at the dog boutique including a "talking Babble ball." When we got back home, that was a big hit with Dazzle. When he first picked it up and it talked, he dropped it right away and gave it a long look. Picked it up again, heard it talk and dropped it. After that, he delighted in carrying it around and shaking it to get it to talk. It says things like "Ouch! Don't do that!" "Na, Na, Na, Na Na" "Ohhh you got me!" "Good doggie" "Hey that tickles" and a growling noise among several other things. Mike and I were laughing our heads off at it!
The restaurant was crowded, but Dazzle and I found a spot in a corner and he laid down next to me. After a few treats, he decided it was time for a nap. He woke up a few times when I (or the person next to me) moved our chair, but he would lay right back down. Due to the crowds, our food took awhile to arrive, but good bread, friends and conversation helped pass the time. During the meal the head chef came out to check on us. Turns out he knew one of the people with us and they talked for a bit. After dinner, we passed around the gifts. I made chocolate chocolate chip cookies for everyone and they were a BIG hit! One of them was given to the head chef and he liked it, giving it high praise. So I think I did ok :-) Then he treated us to a sampling of each of the restaurants desserts!! Huge pieces we passed around the table: a really rich chocolate cake (which was my favorite), cheesecake with strawberries, an apple crisp, terimisu and it seems like there was another one, but I can't recall what it was. All of them were delicious! By the time desserts arrived, we had ben there nearly 2 hours and dazzle was getting restless. He would get up, I'd tell him down, he would lie down, but then after a minute or two he would be up again. Not bad for his age and the chaos and the amount of time spent there! I went home feeling over stuffed, but very satisfied. A really nice evening (& I got some very nice gifts too!)
Here's Dazzle when he was awake :-) He didn't stare at me the whole time, he was looking around too. Thank-you Evelyn for these photos!
There was a brownie in the dunkin donuts bag near him and the bag that got moved out of the way to get the photo was full of the cookies I brought. At one point he was using it as a pillow. So he's nicely food motivated, but not obsessively like a certain Cattle Dog I know and love. :-)
He's still certain most things he sees on the ground as we are walking are his and edible though he's doing much better with leaving them. Of course his definition of edible and my definition are very different; leaves, paper, plastic, pebbles, beads from Christmas decorations, are all in the edible category as far as he's concerned! LOL He had a hard time with all the stuffed critters (mostly stuffed animals for kids) being right at nose level in the shops of Metamora (read below), but was even doing much better about that by the time we left.
Today Dianne and I toured the shops of Metamora Indiana. We took our time and several breaks, but we ended up staying FIVE hours!! We stayed long enough to see the shops lit up in lights and the luminarios along the canal and some of the walkways. Very pretty! Thank God for heat wraps! It was cold, but not as frigid as the Carriage Parade. :-) Plus we were going in and out of the shops, so it gave me some time to "thaw out" inbetween times in the cold. Dazzle did VERY well, but by the last few shops, he was done with the shopping experience and being good- he wanted to PLAY! But after a few tosses of a stick in the park area, he held it together for the last few shops and we called it a night. I'm so proud of him and because he does so well, it's easy to forget he's still so young! We did play for awhile when we got home. Then I had to focus on getting packed and ready for our trip to see family tomorrow. I'll post when I can, but it might be longer than usual between posts.
Here's a photo of us near the gazebo in Metamora. My camera is picky about light levels, so even though it looked good on the little camera screen, turns out it was blurry. Oh well, you get the idea.

Here's a photo I just got that was taken on another person's camera while we were at the carriage parade last weekend. This is the group I met with that very cold day.

December 18, 2008

Twenty Weeks old

Today Dazzle is 20 weeks old. It seems he has taken a break from growing because he only added 1/4" in height this week. Maybe there's hope he won't be the size of a Great Dane! :-) I weighed him at the pet store and it said he is 30.6 lbs. That's 3 lbs in 2 weeks, if the scale at the store is close in accuracy to the scale at the vet office - probably not. :-)
I bought a bag of lamb and rice and he did much better with focus at Biggs today. I also went to the mall to look for something I need and had his dinner (raw) with me. So his focus was rivited on me. He did lose focus for a bit when he saw a remote control car a clerk was playing with, but then he was able to do some sits and heeling around that distraction. I was very glad to see the focus come back! Note to self- don't use the fish and sweet potato for training :-)
He actually got to eat his breakfast from a bowl this morning. I had intended to do my errands in the morning and use his breakfast, but decided instead to work around the house while Mike was out shopping and did my errands later in the day, using his dinner for training instead. I'm sure he enjoyed the break from training, but instead of napping late morning, he got into mischief. It seems he and Bear found a mole hole and decided to excavate. While I was sweeping the floor, they were digging to China. Not sure if they caught the mole or not, but when I looked out and saw only half of Bear sticking out of the hole, I banged on the door and they both came racing in. Of course that left many muddy footprints on the floor I just cleaned before I could get them contained. Arggg! So they both got their feet washed and I cleaned the floor... again.
Some candids from this past week:
All Legs!
Interrupted "face fighting" play with Bear

Dazzle checking to see if I'm still at the computer or coming to play with him. He races to the doorway, slams on the breaks, checks on me, then goes back to playing. Usually he does this with a toy in his mouth.

He now knows "where's mom?" which Mike says when Dazzle is bugging him so he will come find me (and I give him a treat.) :-)

Playing in the corner of the yard

December 17, 2008

Earth to Dazzle...come in Dazzle

I think the allure of his dog food is losing it's magic. I have been having a hard time keeping his attention the past three days. Maybe he's lost some brains along with all his canine teeth :-) Yup, It's official, he has no more needle sharp teeth in the front, only baby molars left. He looks kind of like the Bumble after the dentist got him since the adult teeth have just barely broken the gums :-) He has a hard time keeping the racquette ball in his mouth too, it keeps "squirting" out! LOL

I have started using toys to work on stuff he knows and I get intense focus that way. Almost too intense, his hearing seems to shut off when I have a toy. :-) He stares intensely at me, but doesn't respond to cues right away. He's starting to get a much faster down now, but sit is still in slow motion as though he's a loaded spring and about to bolt at any moment. The raw food still keeps his attention too though. So it's just the kibble. Dang! I just realized I switched the flavor of the kibble three days ago! DUH!! I guess he likes the lamb and rice much better than the fish and sweet potato. Go figure. Well, at least that mystery is somewhat solved. I can't believe I didn't make that connection before just now.

When I do have his attention, he's doing well. But the frequent attention loss drives me nuts. It happened a lot at training class last night, but I think he was just bored. When we work at home, we are constantly working on something. In class, there's a LOT of talking time by the instructor and the down time between activities is hard for him (& me.) I was trying to keep him engaged last night by working on my own thing between exercises, but it wasn't working as well as I had hoped.

I tried a shorter traffic lead, but he was insistent on chewing on it. So much so that I had to switch back to the leather lead to get anything done and then he wanted to chew on the leather lead. Arggg. I was also trying new treats- 100% deydrated turkey bits. I don't think those were going over very well, so that was likely part of the problem too. Who knows, maybe his mouth is hurting and crunching the dried food hurts? I'll just have to keep playing around with it and pray the focus come back!

December 16, 2008

Fun stuff for the blog & training

I added a slideshow and Dazzle's horoscope to the left side. I think that if you click on a photo in the slide show, you'll be taken to the Flickr site where you can see all the photos.

As far as training, this morning we spent nearly an hour working on several different things.
Lightswitch: He's doing great with the light switch, but he's not tall enough to reach a full height switch, so we'll set this training aside now till he gets taller. I don't want him to have to reach up with his paw, I want him to use only his nose. Otherwise I'll have major scratches on the walls!
Ladder: I had him go over the raised "ladder" and with me helping him, he did much better. I think it's finally "clicking" in his brain that he has to consciously place his back feet and not just hope they land on a rung. Not his favorite activity though. I'm guessing that once he masters it, it will be more fun for him. Right now it's just a lot of work for his brain and body.
Stay with distractions: I put him in a stay and tossed some tennis balls around (both sit and down stay.) THAT was hard for him! But he did it, even when I was tossing balls right past him. So I'll continue to work on that and add in other distractions.
Heel with distractions: I also had him heeling while I tossed tennis balls, but he couldn't handle that yet. So instead I would just drop them by my right side as we were heeling and he did that ok. His body was like a coiled spring though ready to pounce on the ball. We'll work up to my tossing a ball during heeling.
Tunnel: He is now flying through the tunnel on cue, so I started adding "right" and "left" cues as he enters the tunnel to indicate the direction I want him to turn when he exits. I'm using my movement (he can hear which way my voice goes) and then tossing the ball to the indicated side of the tunnel. So he wraps around the end of the tunnel and comes back toward me to get the ball. Not sure if he really has this yet or if he's just guessing correctly :-) I did a few standing still and his ratio of correct went down, so I think he was relying on my movement/voice. We have worked on directionals before, so that part isn't new, just the combination of tunnel and directional is new.
Weaves: He really loves them, so I let him go through them a few times after a long break from not working on these at all. I don't think having him go through them a few times now and then will hurt.
Get it: He's doing well with getting stuff I drop. The other day he pushed Coyote out of the way to get a pencil I had dropped :-) We just worked on the leash during this training session, but in other sessions we have worked on various objects like my keys, paper, pens, etc. Yesterday in Biggs, he picked up my shopping list I had accidently dropped and got a jackpot of rewards.
Go outs: He LOVES go outs! I got a clear plastic target and started using that today in place of the DSA rubber jar opener. There were times he lost sight of it, but he would accidently step on it during his search and then drive his nose onto it :-) I also did a few where I had him sit after he nosed the target. He's able to go about 15' from me before he forgets what he was doing on his way to the target. LOL Still very much a puppy, but a darn smart one!

So it was a busy session and using toys as rewards for a few things helped extend the session past the amount of food I had for his meal. We're supposed to have class tonight, but I'm waiting to see the news to decide if I should drive to class tonight or if the snow/ice is too bad. We only have a dusting here so far, but no idea what the rest of the area looks like.

December 14, 2008

Santa Baby

While at Complete Petmart today getting dog food, I saw that they had a Santa there for pet photos for donations to a cat rescue. There were two kitties just finishing up with Santa that did NOT look happy to be there. :-) I got the dog food and then decided to try another photo since the first went well, but the lighting wasn't the best. Once again, Dazzle did great and got right up in his lap. I was able to stand right behind the photographer, so he's looking right at the camera. I think it turned out really nice!
This morning we covered basic obedience and some rally moves. He is doing really well with that and I'm looking forward to a Rally class in January at QCDTC. I still have food all over the floor that he notices from time to time, but he doesn't try to get it.
This evening we did something new. I got an innexpensive light switch from Home Depot that matches the ones we have in the house and mounted it to a piece of foam board. It didn't take him long to figure out how to move it on and off with his nose. Of course it's not hooked up to anything, but it does click when he pushes it hard enough with his nose to change it's position and he can feel it snap into either on or off position.
By the end of the session, I had mounted the foam board to 2x4's so I could raise it a little at a time as he masters each height. We quit when we ran out of food and the switch was just barely reachable for him from a 4 on the floor standing position.

December 13, 2008

Lost a big tooth!

Tonight I found a tooth on the floor, one of his canine teeth! I'm sure it won't be long before he has a mouth full of full size choppers. And then I'll be able to look at the tooth and say "It's SO TINY!" :-) Like the one that's digging into my finger in the photo.

Reindog parade

Today we went to the HUGE annual Reindog parade in Mt Adams. It was definitely warmer and better weather than the carriage parade last weekend!
UPDATE: an estimated 650 dogs and about 3,000 people attended the parade. Here's a news article about it:
We started by meeting a few other troop members at a pub type restaurant, which had good food, but REALLY slow service. Thankfully we arrived there early to try to get a good parking spot and had some time to kill. Dazzle did a fantastic job of settling in and relaxing during our time there, even catching a nap, even though there were other dogs on the outside patio that were playing, barking and coming up to the floor to ceiling window right next to him. He also ignored the young kids who were literally running around and yelling/squealing right past our table. Though he did nicely greet the polite kids that came up to say hi.
After lunch, I put "hot hands" type heating pads on my knees and back, bundled up (it was still cold, just not frigid, and the sun was out) and we headed out to the parade site. I don't know how many hundred dogs were there, but it was a LOT of dogs! Most had some type of costume on and there were people in costume as well (wise men, santas, clifford the big red dog, snow princesses, etc.) Dazzle treated them all as if people and dogs wearing strange outfits was a normal thing he saw every day. :-)
I had his boots on him at first, which everyone seemed to really like. They were amazed he kept them on, but after our time at the TX camp with all the grass burrs, he doesn't mind wearing boots. But with the sun being out, and standing in a location that was protected from the wind, it was relatively warm. So I had him get up on a landscaping wall so I could take his boots off. I also took his cape off since he didn't need to wear it. So he watched the parade "naked."

We didn't walk in the parade because Mt. Adams isn't just on a hill, it IS a hill, steep hills that require parking brakes be set and I don't think there is any part of their roads that are level. The parade just went around a few of the blocks, but we took up a position along the sidewalk to watch. I should have gotten a picture down the hill of the huge crowd held back by barricades and the swarm of participants that filled the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, it was quite impressive!
I lasted long enough to watch all the participants go by, but then needed to sit. So we walked across the street to the steps of a church? and I put the blanket I had brought on the steps so I could rest. Dazzle climbed in my lap and started to fall asleep. But sitting out of the sun was cold, so I didn't stay there long. I waited till I saw the troop members come back and said our goodbyes. It was still early and I considered heading to the museum of art, but decided I'd prefer the natural history museum.
I borrowed a wheel chair and Dazzle did great staying beside me or going in front and backing up when space was tight. I was tempted to let him pull the few times he started to, especially UP the slopes, but I didn't have a harness on him so I discouraged him from pulling. We went through the bat cave and the glacial cave and wondered around the other exhibits. He was a bit spooked by the life-sized, realistic wolf sculpture that was directly on the floor beside the path that didn't smell right and didn't move. After I petted it, he relaxed and came up to sniff, then ignored it. We only spent two hours there, but I saw what I wanted to see and Dazzle was getting tired so we headed home. A very successful training day!

December 11, 2008

He's a DOG now!

Well, I just did another age progression set of photos and it's clear he's not a puppy anymore. Not sure if I'm happy or sad about that. :-) He really looks like a miniature Malinois now. I'm sure he will continue to mature, but it's harder to tell he's a puppy in his photos now. He is just shy of 20" in height and he's only 1 week over 4 months old! That's only 3 or 4 inches below the minimum height for an adult Malinois (AKC is 24" and UKC is 23") And he still has a lot of growing to do. It wouldn't surprize me if he was over the maximum heights of 26 and 26.5" But I'm not showing him in conformation, so I don't care about that. His dad was 27" tall, so I think he'll be at least that tall. I AM glad I'm not having to bend over nearly as much to train him!

Below is the original age progression and then the more recent one.

He still has his baby canine teeth, but the front teeth between them are all adult and look like they are almost all the way grown in. I'm sure it won't be long before he has adult canines; I'm checking them every day. :-) So far, I have only found the one baby tooth I collected and saved.

I'm thrilled with his training progress. Today we worked on go outs (which he loves!) and go around's using first a narrow/tall box, then the upended tunnel. He seems to like these also. I had him go across the raised ladder, but he's still not sure of where his feet are and he tries to rush across. He was starting to purposefully place his back feet when we called it quits this evening.

He has developed the bad habit of rushing through the basement door and flying down the steps. So this evening, I put his collar and leash on before we got down there and practiced waiting at the door till it was fully open and I went through. It was really hard for him to contain himself, but he did. It's similar to his getting out of the van. He wants to bolt out, but is learning he has to wait till I tell him he can get out. Self-control is so hard for a young dog, but he's doing really well!

He's also doing exceptionally well working with food all over the floor. He's completely ignoring it and even chose not to dive on a treat I was giving him that fell to the floor. He looked at it as it fell and hit, then looked right back to me. Big jackpot for that!

I had a meeting today in Indy and took him along. He was a perfect gentleman and stayed in a down next to me the whole 2 hr meeting. He slept through a large part of it, but I had to wake him up when he started barking quietly in his dream! He went right back to sleep and seemed to have dreams that didn't involve barking. :-)

December 10, 2008

Training is going well

Last night in the obedience class, Dazzle was acting like a beagle. There was a beginner class in there ahead of us and he wanted to help "clean" the floor. I did a lot of work during the class on "leave it" and an implied leave it. By the end of class, he was doing well ignoring the food he knew was there.

So I decided to work on that more at home. During the training session this morning, I dropped food all over the floor. After a few initial pulls on the leash, he understood the game and was able to do the whole session while walking over the food, doing sit and down stays inches from food he could reach and off-leash recalls past/over the food. I'll have to practice this more in public, but I think he'll understand pretty quickly. I also droped food (accidently and on purpose) and didn't let him get it.

I continued to work on getting him to pick-up dropped objects. We worked with his leash and a pen today. He is really coming along well, but still often needs encouragement and more than one try to get it to my hands. This will be a huge part of what I need him to do for me. While the doctors can't figure out exactly what is going on in my joints, they do know it's progressive and degenerative. The less bending and kneeling I do (while maintining the muscles through resistance and no-impact training), the longer the joints are likely to last. Around the house, Coyote is still the one I call to pick-up stuff I have dropped but Dazzle is watching closely and I don't think it will be long before he takes over that role. My Doctor loves Dazz and is happy I'm in a position to have a dog help me early on to help slow the progression. What worries me is I'm starting to feel it in my hands. I try to limit my typing, but it doesn't really happen. I do my best not to complain and try not to let it limit me. But it does, especially this time of year. Sorry, enough venting, back to training!
I left the food on the floor in the training area (with strict orders to my husband not to let the dogs down there :-), so we'll start with the leave-it's again in the session this evening. He's doing really well with all the obedience, so I think I'll pick something new to teach him this evening. Maybe we'll just work more on his go around's which we've only done a few times and teach him left and right. We'll see!

December 07, 2008

2008 Christmas Photo

It took some work, but I got them all to stay and act kind of like they don't mind sitting so close together :-)
Merry Christmas everyone!
In the photo (L to R):
Dazzle (4 mo old Belgian Malinois)
Buster (12 yr old Cattle Dog)
Coyote (9 yr old Cattle Dog)
King (11 yr old blue tick Beagle)
Bear (5 yr old blue tick Beagle)
Abscent is Splash, the cat, who didn't want to act like she liked the dogs :-)
Now the X-pen gate is back up around the tree so Dazzle doesn't steal any more handmade ornaments. As I was getting the boys in place, I look up and he's across the room starting to chew on one! I was right next to the tree, how did he get it? Thankfully he came when I called and the boys stayed in position while I went to get it and while I put Dazzle in position. I had to use my flash to get enough light to keep the picture in focus, even though I brought up two big floor lamps and opened all the curtains, so the eye shine couldn't be helped.

December 06, 2008

Horse-Drawn Carriage parade

Oh the things we do for socialization! If it weren't for Dazzle, I would have NEVER been outside on a day like today. Certainly not standing by the side of a road to watch a parade in the snow and sub-freezing temps! But winter tends to limit opportunities for outdoor crowds and the horse drawn carriages were a nice unusual occurance to use for socialization. So I bundled up and we headed out into the snow.

The parade was part of the Winter Festival in downtown Lebanon Ohio (about an hour north of us.) We were at the very end of the parade, so the streets weren't as crowded or decorated as in town, but that was ok. It was slippery though. At least one of the horses we saw slipped and went down and had trouble getting back to his feet.I arrived early to meet with a few other troop members for lunch. The cafe where we had originally intended to eat was no longer in business, so we walked down main street and found an ice cream shop that also had other food. It didn't have a line like all the other places, but it didn't take long to realize it was because they had no tables. We ate there anyway and used the stools and chairs along the wall. Dazzle did well and mostly sat or laid down by me, even as new people were coming in and going out right behind him.

After we ate, we headed back out to find our spot along the road. I should get some boots for Dazzle because crossing the salted and wet roads, then walking on the snow on the sidewalk was really freezing his feet. He did stop to pick up a rear foot once, but that was the only indication he gave of a problem. I ran my gloved hand over the pads of his foot and knocked off the snow that had built up and after that he seemed fine. But I'll get him some boots anyway (even though I don't intend to be out walking much in the snow) just to protect his pads from the salt.

Once we reached our spot, closer to where the others had parked, they got their dogs out and Dazzle did a nice job of saying hi. He wanted to play, but he was wearing his SDIT vest, so I didn't let him. He has grown into the vest, which was too big for him when he was smaller. I had tried it on him when he was smaller, but it flopped and tickled his shoulders and he couldn't take 2 steps without biting at it. He's MUCH better about it now that it fits :-) In this photo he looks cold. He did get cold near the end, but he handles the cold a LOT better than I do! It's not visible in the photo, but Evelyn let him use the bath mat she had brought for her dog (who was barking and got put back in the car.) At first Dazzle didn't want to get on it. By the end of the parade, he had curled up on it. :-) Dazzle says "Thank-you Evelyn!"
We stood around freezing as we waited for the parade to start. Since we were at the end, it didn't start "on time" for us because the horses had to get through town first. But when the first few horses came down the street, they had the dog's full attention. A few barked, but Dazzle just watched silently. He was interested, but not overly intense. I continued to offer him treats, which he took, between horses. After the first 10 or so horses/carriages that went by, it was "old hat" and he wasn't as interested in them anymore. He still watched the ones that jingled though. He seemed to like the sound of the bells on their harnesses. There were horses and carriages of all types and sizes; from tiny mini horses about the size of a Rottweiler to the team of Clydsdales with massive hooves. The team of 6 tiny mini's pulling a mini stage coach was one of the cutest. The team of 6 jet black Percherons decked out in all silver gear was very impresive and beautiful. Dazzle took it all in stride.

Once the parade ended, a couple of the folks and their dogs walked main street to see the shops and listen to the Christmas music. But I couldn't feel my feet, all my joints were stiff and I was more than ready to leave. I sat in the van for a full 10 minutes with the heater blasting before I removed more than just my gloves. I was wearing 3 warm layers of clothes under a Carhart suit, insulated boots and a really thick/warm rabbit fur lined hat. But since my poor circulation generates very little heat, the cold air outside all those layers was winning. Dianne was sweet enough to give me some "hot hands" type heat pouches to put inside my gloves. It's the only thing that prevented my hands from going numb, so THANK-YOU Dianne! If I hadn't had an hour drive or if I had access to a changing room once I had arrived, I would have put on the self-warming heating pads designed for backs and knees. But I didn't want to sweat before going out in the cold, and couldn't get through the layers to apply them once I arrived, so I relied on the layers which didn't quite get the job done. I really hate the cold. Someday I'll live back in a warmer climate!

You'd think my outfit would be warm enough, but no! Dazzle watching the jingling horse. Our dogs got a lot of positive attention and good comments from the carriage riders and their walking helpers. A few asked what breed Dazzle is as they went past.
What the heck is it mom? (or "Can I go clean up the "cookies" the horse left me mom?")
Lots of bells on these horses caught his attention
Nice focus in light of all the distractions.

December 04, 2008

Four months old today

I only took a few photos today because it was frigid ("real feel" of 19*) and my hands weren't working normally (& the camera battery was about to die.) But I got this one that is decent. He is now 19" tall (1/2 an inch of growth in 7 days!) Like I said, if you watch closely, you can see him grow!
I'll know tomorrow how much weight he has gained since the last vet visit. Should be interesting.
Training sessions have been going well. I'm working most on getting his sit, down and stand faster and getting him to remain in position (not move his front feet) when he changes positions. Today, to try to make that more clear, I set-up a mat with a low barrier in front of it. He was confused at first, but by the end of the session he was getting it and not moving his front feet between position changes.
I have created and printed some Rally Obedience training log sheets. I'll start using them next week, but till then I'm still working on just the basics with him. I found out Kuliga is going to have a C-WAGS trial in April, so I plan to enter him in that. I'll likely enter him in the Rally trial in February too.
I was adding up how many hours he has had of training already and it surprized me. Almost 20 hours of public access so far (I estimated low, so it's likely higher than that.) And nearly 60 hours of training in other places (and including home sessions) on basic obedience. He really seems to love to train (good thing!) and didn't want to leave the basement when the session ended this evening. He kept going back to the mat as if to say "But I got it mom, look!" :-)
UPDATE: I forgot to post after his vet visit on Friday, so I'll just add that info here. The vet was very impressed with him and had lots of compliments about his weight, training and temperament. He didn't feel anything wrong with his hips like the other vet thought she might have felt. But because he is growing so fast, he advised putting him on Canine Joint Support which I did and we'll continue that till he's at least 18 mo old. He now weighs 27.5 pounds! He's put on 10 pounds in the past month and still looks very lean. The vet said he's a perfect weight.
He also got a chiropractic adjustment and his rabies vaccination. Knock on wood, so far no ill effects or behavior changes since that vaccination. The vet said he could tell Dazzle plays hard. He was a bit out of alignment, but getting him adjusted every two months will help his growing body. I told him how he doesn't slow down coming through our hard plastic, heavy duty dog door, he just lowers his head and slams his way through at top speed. The vet said he could tell :-) So far, so good on his health!

December 03, 2008

2nd obed class

The class tonight went well. All the practice we did during the week paid off. His stand for exam was great, his recall/front/finish was AWESOME and he did well with heel and response to the front, sit, down and stand cues. I was very proud of him and everyone was very impressed.

I hope it continues. I signed him up for an obedience match on January 18th. :-) He won't be 6 mo. old yet (2 weeks short), but since it's a non-sanctioned match it won't matter. If he does as well at the show as he did at class tonight, he'll do really well.

I plan to start working on Rally moves and "go outs" now.

December 01, 2008

Watching Agility

Sorry, no photos in this post either. Scroll down the page to the previous posts for lots of photos :-)

We went to a CPE Agility trial this morning way on the other side of town to watch and socialize. I only knew a few people there, but enjoyed talking with them. Dazzle did great, keeping focus on me amidst dogs and people walking and running past us, dogs barking, dogs on course, dog's in crates barking, getting run over by a sheltie :-) and the general show noises. He was much better with applause today and by the end wasn't even tensing or reacting in any way. He met several nice dogs and people and did polite, proper greetings. Overall, a good association with a show as far as I could tell.

After the show, we went to Walmart so I could get a new belt clip for my phone. I put his new cape on him, but he didn't like it. He hardly had his ears up the whole time we were in there and he kept stopping to chew at it. I'll need to do some classical conditioning with it. The belly strap needed adjusting because it kept sliding backwards to the narrow part of his waist. I shortened the chest strap to bring it forward once he was back in the van and I could work on it without bending over. But I didn't walk him around to see if it fixed the problem or not. I hope it did.

I used his breakfast as treats during the show this morning, but did a training session with his dinner. I worked on stand for exam using cement blocks for him to stand on. He seemed to have a LOT of trouble getting into the stand position from a sit when he was on the block. I moved him off the block and tried it that way and he did much better. So I skipped the block idea.

I also had his collar and leash on him, which I don't usually do in the basement. But I was thinking of using the dropped leash as a stay signal (like ground tying a horse.) I just don't recall what happens with the leash in a novice stand for exam, so I don't know if that would be a useful signal. I'll have to look that up. Other than the rocky start, he did well in the session this evening. I also worked on heeling a bit and let him run through the weaves a couple times. We haven't done any weaves for awhile, but he remembered just what to do. He found a ball and wanted to play, so I threw it several times and had him practice "front" and a "hold till I take it" behavior before I would toss it again.

He fetches things with such enthusiasm I'm afraid he will hurt himself! He crashes into things, gets his legs going several different directions, it's scary to watch. I try really hard to throw it in a way that reduces the chances of him hurting himself, but somehow on an empty floor, he can manage to do something dangerous looking. I haven't been tugging with him because of him losing his puppy teeth, so fetch is a good exercise alternative- if he doesn't hurt himself. :-) He does seem to really like the small Orbee ball I got him yesterday. It surprized me to find that it is strongly mint scented, but he doesn't seem to mind.

Mike laid face down on the floor a few minutes ago to see what Dazzle would do. He was really curious. He tried to lick his hidden face, then went about trying to stand on him, paw at him, lay on him, tunnel under his hidden face, dig on the back of his legs... It was very cute because he was being gentle. His ears were back, tail wagging, whole body wagging and loose. He wanted to play, but wasn't sure what to do with the "big lump" that wasn't playing back :-) When Mike lifted his head, he gave him lots of kisses and tunneled under his chin and rolled on his back to wiggle around in front of him.

November 29, 2008

Watching Obedience

Today I took him to an obedience trial at Queen City Dog Training Center. He's so used to hustle and bustle that the crowd and dogs were no problem. Though once he saw a dumbell thrown, he really wanted to get it! Then he wanted to get the little DOG that got the dumbell. He barked a few times in frustration at being restrained as I tried to get his attention, but I was able to get him looking back at me. He was also geeked up by the occasional applause, but only barked once. The other times there was applause, I was stuffing string cheese in his mouth :-) As this went on during the time we were there, he started taking the cheese more softly. At first he practically took my fingers with it because he was so amped up over the applause (he normally has a soft mouth and when there wasn't applause, he took treats really nicely.) After a few hours, I was getting really stiff and sore, and Dazzle was getting tired so we left. It was really nice seeing and talking with people I hadn't seen since I was training at Waggin Tails with Coyote about 6 years ago. I look forward to training with them again.

It seems his understanding of sit, down and stand has returned- WHEW! I gave him a break from training last night and just gave him his food in a bowl on the floor. What a novel idea! :-) I think we both needed the break. Our sessions aren't all that long, but there has probably been less than 10 times since I got him that he has eaten his entire meal right from the bowl without having to do anything for it. We are only in the 9th week of his training with me, so he is doing exceptionally well. Much better than I could have ever dreamed!

This morning I did a training session with him and he did really well with stay (sit and down), front (after a short chase of a treat away from me), heel, sit, stand and down (though I couldn't get him to do the latter two in heel position for some reason- he kept swinging away from me to lie down or stand. In the session this evening, I put his sledding harness on, attached him to the wall with a bungie leash and let him pull into it for about 5-6 different treats. Then I took that one off and put the tracking harness on and let him walk around in it. He wasn't too sure about the second strap around his mid-section, but was willing to walk, trot and sit while wearing. When that came off, we worked on all the cues from this morning again and all was back to normal. He is up to a 1 minute sit stay and a 2 minute down and allows me to walk behind him (to return to heel position.) It's clear that he has a hard time just doing "nothing" for that long. He stares at me for awhile, then his attention wanders and he starts looking around like a little kid trying to find something to get into :-) He still moves more often than not when I practice the stand for exam. I think I'll put him back up on the boards to help him understand I don't want his feet to move. :-)

I started him on some "voodoo remedy" :-) in anticipation of his rabies vaccination on Friday. I'm so worried he will be one of the dogs that gets aggressive from the shot and I'm praying it doesn't happen. My vet said the reaction of increased aggression after the shot is a form of vaccinosis and it's a reaction that causes minor symptoms of the disease. Severity of the symptoms has a wide range. Hopefully the fact that he's not getting the vaccine in conjunction with any others, his good genetics, good diet and the voodoo stuff will help stack the odds in our favor. My stress levels will go down after I see there's no reaction.

He also gets another chiropractic adjustment and I'll be interested to see what this vet says about his hips (the other vet in the office, on a previous visit, thought they felt loose.) I'm also curious to see how much he weighs now. It's already hard to recall how little he was when he arrived, just 9 weeks ago.

If I'm up to it, tomorrow we'll be going to Clermont Co. DTC to watch CPE agility. I was looking at last night for upcoming shows and I'm already looking at deadlines for Rally entries for shows in March when he turns 6mo. old. :-) I figure that just about the time I put out money for a show entry, he'll go through the "brainless puppy" stage where he forgets everything he has learned. :-) I better get more on video to prove "he really does know it" (famous last words of compeditors everywhere) LOL

Dazzle meets Santa Clause

Bass Pro Shop was having free photos with Santa today. While dogs are allowed in the store, Dazzle was the only one I saw in there today. I found out about the Santa photos from Kim, who took her dog there the day before and found out Santa LIKES the dog photos. And we must have gotten the same Santa. When we were done he took a few minutes to talk to me about him and thanked me from bringing him and giving him "a break" (said with a knowing look.) I think he liked the dog better than the kids :-) Can't say I blame him since the three kids that sat on his lap before Dazzle were all screamers. Ahhh, memories... "And this is when we traumatized little Billy..." :-)

I was fully ready to say "forget it" and walk away if Dazzle was afraid or bothered by the suit, set-up, noises, screaming kids, etc. But he did even better than I expected. He didn't even try to eat all the fake snow on the ground!! Yeah! But he did want to eat the pointy lights along the sides of the line we were in. Other than trying to taste a few lights, he waited politely in line, accepted petting and attention from several people and a few kids who couldn't resist. When it was his turn, he walked right up to Santa and sniffed him. He was wagging his tail because Santa was talking to him sweetly. He said "well, I wonder if YOU would like to sit on my lap?" I patted his knee and Dazzle put his front feet up and inspected his beard. A bit more encouragement and he was in his lap, tail wagging. He couldn't figure out how to kiss him through the "fur" though :-)

His focus turned to me as I moved out of the photo. But he stayed put (it helped that Santa was holding him) and a really cute shot was captured forever. I had to scan the printed photo, so it's not the best quality. I should have snapped a photo with my own camera, but I thought of that too late. I'm guessing this might be the only year he is all the way on Santa's lap (unless he continues to think he's a lap dog like my 120 lb Rottie did.) :-)

Now that I know he won't be bothered by it, I might go get in line for a photo I'd have to pay for (& I'd use my own camera!)

He looks so tiny in this photo. Not sure why. Oh, the elf reminds me, he was facinated by the moving elves beside the line we were waiting in. Too cute! It was a really elaborate set-up for free photos. They had the real (stuffed) reindeer in the back, rippled plastic with moving blue lights behind it creating walls that looked like ice, lots of trees and shrubs covered in snow, a full "workshop" for the kids to make little art projects, several animated elves, sound effects and several adults dressed as elves, which reminded me of "The Christmas Story" (especially as the kids were screaming on Santa's lap. :-)


November 28, 2008

More pictures

I took more photos yesterday...

You can see how much he has grown in just 7 weeks! I added the line because it's hard to tell just where the top of the ball is in relation to their size without it. Obviously it's not Dazzle on the left, but I used Bear in the photo to show what Dazzle's height was at 10 weeks old when he and Bear were the same size.

Pretty trot... (He's not fully extended here, but you get the idea. I'm glad I'm not trying to show him in conformation- I'd have to run full out to keep up with him!)
Run Bear!!
He is quite the boxer with his ball
Na Na Ne Na Na, You can't catch me. (If you look closely, you can see Dazzle has his tongue sticking out :-) Jaw Breaker (Malinois size)

What happend to the water? Even though it looks warm and sunny in the photos, it was still pretty cold. The herding group, almost all the same size now. Buster is actually a bit taller than Coyote. He must have been crouching down or something.


Big size difference now. I couldn't get them to stand side by side, but you can still clearly see how tall Dazzle has gotten.
Chasin' my bro...
Bear back ride... get it? Ha ha!
Who's taller?
Coyote's official height card says 18". My best ability to measure Dazzle puts him at 18.5"

teeth! and training frustation

The training session this morning was good and bad. He's doing really well with "front" position now. I started by putting narrow planks up on blocks in a straight line. I would stradle the planks with him on them facing me. If he didn't want to step off, he had to stay right in front of me when he sat (instead of swinging into heel position.) When that was good, I separated the boards and blocks into three different raised sections. I placed one out at 12 o'clock, one out at 3 o'clock and 1 out at 9 o'clock and I stood in the center. I would turn to face the end of a board and Dazzle would get on it and sit in perfect front position. Then I would pivot to face another board and the process was repeated.

Once he understood what I wanted on the boards, I removed the cement blocks from under them and placed the boards right on the floor, same pattern. He had a bit of trouble, since now he could sit crooked and not fall off. But with practice he understood and got good at that. Then I removed the boards and tried to get him to repeat it. If I faced the spot where a board had been, he was great. If I turned to where a board hadn't been, he tried to line up with where it was! Too smart for his own damn good!

I put the boards back down, but moved them around to practice in different places. That helped him understand and when I removed the boards, he had it. All this took 5 training sessions. This morning he was still doing well with sitting in front position. Too well.

It seems he has no memory of the cues for stand and down now. All he was willing to offer without help was front and if I waited, he would lie down. Arggg. I did several tries of prompting and luring, but I've done so much "leave it" work, a lure generates focused eye contact. Moving my hand makes him think I'm trying to distract him from the eye contact and it only makes that stronger.

I was getting really frustrated, so I quit the training session. I'm still not sure how to remind him of the sit and down cues. I did very little luring when I taught it and he picked them up pretty quickly. He has responded correctly to them in many different places (every hotel room, my parent's kitchen, malls, etc.), so I'm not sure why the understanding is failing in the place we have trained the most when there are no distractions. I tried using a toy as a reward, but he is too intensely focused to think when a toy is in my hand and might be thrown or offered for tug.

I need to work on his stand for exam. Once I was able to get him into a stand, he still has the implied stay. I think this evening I'll place him into the stand and focus on the walk away and approach (stand stay) and just work on the cues to get him into position later.

On another note, I got some photos of his teeth. They aren't the best because in order to stop the motion, I had to use the flash, which reflected off his teeth. But you can see that the new teeth are significantly larger than his baby teeth and he has big gaps in the front where he lost his baby teeth and the adult teeth haven't come in yet. I did find one tiny baby tooth on the couch last night, so I saved it. :-) Hopefully I will find more.


You can see where he lost the most recent tooth

.Baby canine teeth and adult front teeth except for the one on the far left of the photo (right side of his mouth)
Would you believe I taught him to move his tongue out of the way so I can see his teeth? Just kidding. I caught him mid-lip lick/yawn. :-)