March 29, 2009

marching

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I just uploaded a new video I took this evening of a training session with Dazzle. I'm trying to teach him to lift his feet with mine to look like we are both marching. Right now, we're both stationary but I hope to eventually be able to do this moving. And maybe eventually get him to trot with a prance, but I think that might be a ways down the training road.
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The video started out pretty dark, but I lightened it, so that's why it's a bit washed out. Disregard the junk in the background, it's my husband's old computer we just changed out and haven't moved yet.
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In the last 2 training sessions, Dazzle has really seemed to catch on to what I wanted and I have dropped the use of hand targets. I noticed in the video that a few times he would lift a foot, look at my leg and change to the correct one. So it seems he has the understanding now that my leg lifts MEAN something :-) We've made a lot of progress!
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He is still trying to swing in front of me. You'll see I eventually give up trying to get him back to my side and I'm the one to move into the proper position. :-) If I do that too much, we might be marching in a circle! Hmmm, that could be cute!!
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Here's the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zjjbsMWY_k
It's faster to load the videos to YouTube and it takes up less of my allowed space for the blog too! So I'll likely be doing all future videos that way. I have several other videos on YouTube. Some with Bear, some videos I liked that were made by other people, but mostly the videos of Dazzle I previously posted to this blog. Now you can easily find them in one place without having to search through the posts :-) You can see all the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Scoutdogs I also added a "gadget" to the left that links directly to my videos.
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I've been working with him on both sides of me. He seems to scoot out of position less when he's on the "heel" side.

March 27, 2009

GRRRR!

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I have been having some issues of the electronic kind lately. The following is a rant/vent, and NOT dog related, so feel free to skip it.
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I started teaching a clicker training class last week and as part of the class, I intend to upload the training steps for each of the behaviors I'm teaching them in video clips to YouTube. This will allow the students to see what we covered in class (and the steps the dog's weren't ready for) without the stress and distractions of the class environment.
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Problem #1 arose when the video editing software I had been using stopped working. Admittedly, it was a trial version that I had gotten a LOT of use from by repeatedly removing and reinstalling it :-) But that finally stopped working and I needed a new program to edit the videos for the class. So I went and bought a new program for $100.
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Problem #2: Get it home and find that it won't work on my old computer. My ranting and raving at my computer prompted Mike to tell me "just go buy a new computer!" I was hesitant because I knew we couldn't REALLY afford it. But he said to put it on the credit card and he could pay it off. So on Tuesday I drive 45 minutes to Microcenter and come home with a new computer- $575. Mike's computer was in worse shape than mine, so now he has my old computer. I had to set that all up as well, but now he's happy because it runs MUCH faster than the one he had (on which he had gotten the "blue screen of death", but somehow got past it and got it to limp along again.)

I take half a day to get the new computer up and running and find that the video program works great on my new computer! So I edit the videos and get them uploaded. Today, I get around to hooking up my printer and find...

Problem #3. There is NO port on the back of the computer to hook it up! No printer cable port at all! I try calling Microcenter, but they are so busy no one answers the phone. So I call Staples to see if there's an adapter cord. Sure there is! For $40! So I drive drive 10 minutes to Staples and get the card using a $25 gift certificate I forgot I had that helps bring it down to a more reasonable price. Get it home and find...

Problem #4- It's not for the IEEE type cable my printer uses and won't work. So I pack it all up and take the cable off my printer and drive BACK to staples. I get my money back for that cord and the sales clerk looks and doesn't find any adapter that will work. So I decide to drive all the way back to Microcenter.

Get to Microcenter, explain that my printer works just fine (no, I don't want to buy a new one!) I just need to be able to get this cable (brought in the store as a prop) to talk to my new computer!! Well, apparently there's no adapter for a cord that old (that's when I learned it used really old technology, even though my printer is only 5 years old) BUT I can spend $20 and get the plug in that can be installed inside the computer. Of course, then I need to go home, get the computer, bring that back and pay $35 to have them install the dang thing. I asked how hard is it to put it in? The clerk showed me how to do it using the floor model of the computer I just bought. I knew I could do it, so I spent the $20.

Get it home, it goes in without any problem. It says the drivers loaded properly - yea! Says my printer is recognized - yea! I think ok, we're good to go. Try to print something and get a line of gibberish printed on multiple pages. After a LOT of fiddling and restarting of both items in various orders I still wasn't getting it to work. I went on-line to look for an update or something I thought might be needed. That's where I found...

Problem #5- The printer manufacturer's website said the printer was no longer supported and it didn't work with Vista. Great. I just spent $20 for NOTHING! I'm rather pissed off again and once again yelling at the computer. Mike, who didn't have a printer with his old computer said- give me your printer and go get a new "cheap" printer.

So I move my printer to his desk (at least I know the printer and my old computer will work together!) and back to Staples I go. I find one for $79, the catch? It doesn't come with the $20 cord that is needed. After being assured that the cord will plug into the computer and that the printer works with Vista, $100+ later, I have a printer... sort of. The one I wanted was out of stock. So they are having it shipped here and say it will be here on Monday.
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So, about $800 later, this has been the most expensive class I have ever volunteered to teach!!!!
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Oh, and I just found out there is NO photo editing software on my new computer. The program I had been using on my previous computer came with it, so I can't transfer it. So don't be surprized if there are no photos on the blog for awhile. Unless I edit them on Mike's new machine (my old one) and put them on a disk to load them on my new computer.
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Aren't computers wonderful?! NOT!!!
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March 23, 2009

FUNNY!

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Mals are definitely a creative breed! I have noticed lately that I can't find any of Dazzle's tennis balls or other round toys anywhere around the house. I checked under and behind everything I thought might be hiding them. When I couldn't find them, I thought maybe the holes he has been digging were for burial of these objects.
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But last night, Mike came in and said "Are you looking for tennis balls?" I said "Yeah! I can't find them anywhere. Did you find his hiding place?" He had to show me and I figure a few photos are worth more than trying to describe it.
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Apparently, he likes to have them right by the back door. Maybe teaching him to put the money in the bowl has turned into a bit of creativity on his part - Put the ball in the hole :-) Of course, once he drops them in, he can't get them out. We put the temporary "wall" up when my elderly Rottweiler kept stepping off the "porch" and losing his balance. I used the gravel to build up ramps so there was no step on the two main sides and added the wall to save on gravel. I have since leveled the gravel and I think I'll be taking the wall down. I wonder where Dazzle will put them then?! We'll see!

March 22, 2009

Our weekend

Read about Dazzle's water adventures below the tracking info...
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This weekend I got up before dawn (I know, WHAT was I thinking!) to help with a tracking test near Dayton. It was only in the 50's by the time I left yesterday and was much colder at dawn when I arrived. On Saturday, we plotted out where the tracks would be laid and then we were free to go. I was a "cross track" layer for the 1st TDX track, so I was done pretty early. For some reason I was expecting low grassy fields or maybe plowed fields for the tracks. Not for the TDX apparently! We were walking through areas 99% of people would not try to walk! There were dense and thick, waist high weeds (some 1/4" to 1/2" diameter stalks) that liked to grab your feet, scrub brush and thorn bushes that liked to grab your clothes, all between scrub cedar, pine and a few coniferous trees. Had I known, I doubt I would have volunteered. I was SO sore after one track that I had trouble walking today. I don't know HOW the judges walked ALL the tracks on both days! Each was about 1/4 mile through that mess. As I was driving home, I realized I should have gotten a photo of it so everyone could see just what I was talking about, but I didn't think of that when I was there.
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Sunday morning (today) came much too early and painfully, but I had committed myself and I knew that today's walk was much shorter. So I was up before dawn again to head back up there. I didn't need to walk the whole track, just cross it twice (along with another person) in the places designated by the judges (and by flags, which we removed as we passed them.) I had to stop a few times (but not near the track) to rest my legs. I was SO happy for the tramped down deer track we were able to follow for part of the way!
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It was really hard on me, but I'm glad I did it! I learned a lot about tracking from the people there and saw what Dazzle and I could be facing if we choose to do a TDX. I think we'll shoot for a VST instead though :-) I heard those are usually on a bit easier terrain (but includes solid surfaces, which don't hold scent very well.) One tidbit of info I found to be interesting: One person there said they were having a debate (in the recent past) about double walking the practice tracks (meaning you walk one direction, then re-trace your steps to get back to the start) versus only going one direction away from the start and circling back well away from (and down wind of) the track to get back to the start. They laid one long track in a single direction. They brought several dogs up to that track from the side (90 degree angle) to see which way they would choose to go. The dogs that only practiced on the tracks laid in one direction went to the "hotter" scent (the direction the person walked.) The dogs trained on double practice tracks went the opposite direction (toward where the person started.) So I don't think I'll be re-walking my practice tracks! :-)
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Unfortunately, none of the 7 dogs passed their tracks successfully. One handler missed the dogs cue regarding a dropped article and failed to pick it up (disqualification) while others took the wrong track (either deer trails, horse trails or in one case it was the cross track, but not mine.) So that was eye opening as well. None of the dogs (even the short corgi or the PBGV) had issues with the terrain though. I was VERY surpized no one passed, but I was told that's not uncommon because it's very hard for the dogs to stay on track that long. But neither of the 2 TD (beginner level) dogs passed either. There was a good mix of breeds represented: 2 Goldens, PBGV, Corgi, Bernese and 2 German Shepherds. I also met a nice Laekenois (sorry if I misspelled that) that was just visiting, not competing. They are very rare in the U.S. and they are the "curly coated" version of the Belgian Shepherd (Dazzle is the short haired version.)
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After all the tracking was done, I got Dazzle out of the van and walked him to the small nearby pond. He was so determined to drag the huge tree branch out of the pond that he actually did his very first voluntary swimming today! He really had to work up the courage though because the entry into the pond was a sharp drop off to about chest deep water. He ran back and forth along the bank whimpering because he REALLY wanted that branch out of there for some reason, but it was out of his reach. On several attempts, he was balancing right on the very edge of the bank, just teetering there or reaching out with his paw into the water willing that thing to get closer to him. When it didn't, he took that first step and realized it wasn't too deep to stand and got his other front foot in (but it did drop away quickly to swimming depth.) Then he just pushed off the shore, swam out and got that big tree back to shore! I showered him with praise and he was VERY proud of himself! As soon as the tree was successfully rescued from the pond, he had no further interest in it. He immediately started looking for other stuff in the water to fetch, I tossed in a pine cone and he swam right out and got it. I did that twice more and then he was shivering so I made him come away from the water. I let him run around a bit to dry off some before putting him back in the van for the drive home.
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Even though I was very sore, I decided to go for a ride with Dazzle. I figured I could at least sit on a bike so he could get out and stretch his legs a bit more. I had put my bike in the van just in case. He was stuck in the crate almost the whole time I was helping with the tracks both days and was SO good and patient I had to reward him. Plus, it was such a nice day I didn't want to go inside yet. :-) So after I pulled over and took a 15 minute nap on the drive home, we went to the park. When I saw how crowded the trail was, I drove to a usually quiet part of the park that has a small hill. I was planning to just toss his ball down the hill several times to wear him out. However, after a few tosses, we were innundated by a group of teens that were setting up to play soccer. Of course as soon as Dazzle saw the soccer ball, he was right over there meeting them on their way down the hill to the field below. Thankfully they didn't mind and had fun playing "keep away" with him. He had a blast running around them with his tennis ball in his mouth trying to get the soccer ball. At one point he stood directly between the two water bottles they were using as a goal and the kids got a big kick out of it. It looked like he had decided to play goalie! After a few minutes of that play, I decided we should move on and I went back to the bike trail with him.
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It was a BEAUTIFUL day today and the park was VERY crowded, but he did great ignoring all the other bikes, roller bladers, strollers, people and dogs we passed (and we were almost constantly passing something or someone!)
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At the mid way point, I stopped at the water for him to play again. He had a great time splashing around and there was quite an audience with so many people having the same idea for their dogs and kids. He got a 6 year old? to toss a stick for him multiple times. I was so proud of him because he wasn't taking it out of the kid's hand as soon as it was picked up, he waited patently for the kid to toss it and then went to get it and dropped it at his feet for another toss. Other kids were throwing rocks in the water and that was almost as much fun for him. He kept "diving" for them but because of the delay on my camera I only got one decent shot of his head in the water. He was dunking it completely though (past his ears) to snorkle! Definitely a "water dog!"
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He didn't want to leave! He was shivering, but wouldn't come when I called him. He went trotting a little ways away to play with another kid that was skipping rocks, so I moved back behind the row of people and waited for him to realize I was "gone" (not where he left me.) When he did, he ran up and down the short rocky beach looking for me and then ran to the parked bike and I called him so he wouldn't run in front of any passing bikes. He was very relieved to "find" me and I gave him treats, but then he wanted to go back in! If I hadn't had his leash, I know he would have gone back in. But we completed the rest of the ride without incident.
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Here's some photos:
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Running though the water (Actually he tended to bound like a deer!)
Some of the kids that were tossing sticks and rocks for him (including water logged sticks that sank) :-)
Full speed past the kid that was tossing the stick the most (The water was COLD! but the kid's getting soaked didn't seem to mind):
ALMOST got the head dunk here (darn digital delay!):
Any fish in here?
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"SHAKE!"
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I'm SO bummed that the only blurry photo out of many was this one! I think it would have been such a nice photo...

March 19, 2009

Biking

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On Tuesday, before class, the weather was nice enough to meet some friends in the park with their dogs for a picnic dinner. After that, we went for a walk on a fairly flat trail along a stream. Dazzle had a BLAST!!! He was doing great recalls and even found a ball to play with which he carried for almost the entire walk. He and the other dogs were having fun jumping in and out of the water too. I took a few photos, but when I just went to edit them, they were not on my camera!? I have no idea why. I saw them on the camera view screen after I took them, but now they are not on the card. I'm bummed because I think I got a good one of him with his face in the water diving after a stick. I'm wondering if the card got corrupted because it's a 2 GB card and wasn't that full, but I was getting a "card full" error message. I did delete a few images to make room to take the water photos, but apparently that didn't work. I'll get another card as soon as I can.
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Yesterday, it was a beautiful 70 degrees and I had to get back out to enjoy it. I have been slowly introducing Dazzle to my bicycle in the basement, though he has never showed any concern about it. So I felt it was time to put it to the test and take him on the trail. It was the first time he was hooked to the bike and he did GREAT! He pulled a few times to the side for interesting smells, but learned that wasn't really working and stopped doing it. He really seemed to enjoy being able to move at his ground covering trot and had a big grin on his face! Other than a few times mentioned below, he completely ignored everyone else on the trail that we passed. People out walking and jogging, other bikes, kids in strollers and on bikes, even a couple horses.
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He got a bit excited by 2 wild labrador puppies that we were trying to pass and I had to stop and let them pass us so he didn't get in front of the wheel. He's so darn long bodied, that when he is attached to his harness with the Springer, he could still get his head/front feet in front of the wheel if he really pulls. But that is partly because he was able to spin the springer equipment forward. I have since tightened the bolts so it shouldn't move. I also had him hooked to the rear loop of the pulling harness (between his ribs and tail) and after that, I moved the snap to the attachment that was closer to his ribs (where a normal harness attachment is.) So that should prevent him from being able to get in front.
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We only did 1.5 miles which was the short bike trail plus the trail around the ranger building by the lake. Since it was pavement, I didn't want him to wear the pads off his feet. In the middle of the 1 mile bike trail, we stopped at the river and I let him play there. He even got some passing walkers to throw his stick for him when they came down to the shore to look for skipping stones. I tossed his stick in a swimming depth section and he did try to get it, but wasn't quite sure about swimming so he let it float down river. Then he got out, ran along the shore and got it from the shallow part :-)
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We did have a minor incident at the end of the ride. A little kid was throwing food into the lake for the ducks. Dazzle couldn't resist and did get in front of the bike before I could stop. He yelped and held his front paw up for a bit, but I checked it and didn't see or feel any injury. After a little bit of limping as we were stopped there, he put it down and seemed fine. We continued the short ride to the van. When he got in the van, I saw a spot of red on the side of his paw at the top of the pad and checked it again. He had scraped it a bit and it was just oozing blood, not really bleeding. I put a bandage on it with antibiotic cream, but that seemed to bother him more than the injury. I took it off when we got home and after a bit of licking, he was back to ignoring it.
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I went back out later that afternoon to the training center with him to work on some freestyle, but for some reason the player/CD that worked just fine at home was having issues when I tried it there. We played around a bit anyway, till he bumped/scraped his foot going after a ball and started limping and licking at it. So I called it quits. He's fine on it today, running in the yard, etc.
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On the way home, I stopped at Walmart and picked up a pouch for the front of my bike (bigger than the little fanny pack I had straped there to carry a water bottle and folding bowl) so I have room to also carry a small first aid kit and my camera. I'm hoping the tightening I did to the springer will prevent any future problems (that and the memory of what happened when he tried to get in front.) So hopefully I won't need to use the kit. But it's a good thing to have. Especially if we try the much longer bike trail at some point. I also got a better seat for my bike. Dazzle was pulling the bike just enough that I could remain seated and help peddle while going up the small hills, so it wasn't hard on my knees like I thought it would be. When we weren't on an uphill section, I was mostly hitting the brakes from time to time to keep him from getting too fast. No peddling needed. I think this is going to be a great way to exercise him till it gets too hot.
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Last night a front came through and it's back in the 50's and I'm staying inside. Probably better biking weather, I know, but I'm going to let his foot heal a bit more before we go out for another ride. I'm REALLY hoping it will be warmer than what they are predicting for this weekend. I'm going to be helping lay tracks for a tracking test on Sunday near Dayton. I have to go up on Saturday too to figure out where the tracks will be laid, get instructions, etc. For some reason they feel the need to start the day up there at dawn! Since it's about an hour and a half away, it's going to be a couple very early mornings. But I think it will help me see what I need to teach Dazzle with regards to tracking, because I have never seen a tracking test. I'm also looking forward to meeting others in my area that do tracking.

March 17, 2009

On the road to recovery

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I got a chance to weigh Dazzle at the vet today when I was picking up meds for Coyote's eyes. In 2.5 weeks, he has gained 1.7 pounds. So he's now 48.7 lean, muscular pounds. I also got a chance to edit the 4 photos I took of him Saturday while I was still sick but starting to recover. The editing had to wait till I was caught up on the 1000 emails that piled up in the 4 days I was off line. I'm on a couple really busy lists at the moment.
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This is the view I kept seeing over and over... "come on mom... You can DO eet!"
Which turned into this... "Puleeeezzzz..."
"Digging? Not me. Must have been that other dog..." (You can barely see some of the mud/grass stuck to his foot too)
"I don't have any friends, nobody loves me anymore, no one to toss a ball for the poor little Malinois puppy... Guess I'll just pout " (his eyes kept checking with me to see if I was noticing his "poor dog" routine and hearing his heavy sighs. :-) Then he would decide it wasn't working and would try something else.)
He is SO happy I'm feeling better now! I have gone out several times to toss the ball the length of the yard with the ball scoop/sling. A tired Mali is a happy Mali! We're back to using his meals for training (no more free meals like he got while I was sick. :-) He was also my "demo dog" at the clicker class I started teaching last night and learned to "bow" in just 4 clicks! It didn't really show much "shaping" but it certainly demonstrated the power of the clicker!
I have 12 students (though one is a troop member that has agreed to be my assistant instead of bringing his dog.) Should be a full class next week! This week was without the dogs so I could teach the humans with their full attention. We'll see how well I did next week with getting them all started. :-) Tonight is the C-wags class. We're back in the swing of things again. All I have to do now is get rid of this annoying dry cough and the tickle in my throat causing it.

March 15, 2009

Sick week

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Monday, I felt just fine. Tuesday as soon as I woke up I knew I was not well. It wasn't until today (Saturday) that I felt well enough to get out of bed and on the computer again. I spent 4 days between the bed and huddled under a blanket on the couch. ALL the dogs did a great job of offering comfort, except when Dazzle decided to jump from one couch to the other onto MY HEAD! But aside from that, even he did a fantastic job of keeping himself entertained (only lost 1 pillow and one pencil, which thankfully he didn't eat!) and not bugging me to play too much. Other than tossing a few toys weakly across the room from where I was, I just couldn't do much more.
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Even today, well yesterday since it's after midnight when I post this, I am still sore and achy, feverish off and on, coughing, sniffling and not ready to go outside to play. So Dazzle is REALLY bored after 5 days of NO training and no directed exercise. Thank GOD for the hard blue ball I got him when he was a pup (that is in several of his growth photos.) He wears himself out pushing it ALL over the yard! And he forces the other dogs to play too and mostly they oblige. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel well enough and strong enough to go out to toss the ball for him.
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When we got home last week from the park, when it was such nice weather, I filled the baby pool for him. He would shove that ball around, then take a break in the pool, then go back to shoving it around. I think he's going to be as much of a "water baby" as Buster! He also enjoyed dropping the smaller toys in the pool and batting/splashing at them with his feet and "diving" for them by sticking his long nose under the water to get them. He was also willing to lay down in the water though I know it had to be cold straight from the hose.
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It was either last Sunday or Monday that I FINALLY got a decent bit of video of Dazzle and Bear playing! They do this quite often, but don't like anyone to watch them play. Like it's their secret game or something. So I stayed in the kitchen and shot the video through the window. They would stop from time to time when they heard a noise and check to see if anyone was watching. Then Coyote saw them and had to run outside to "break it up" with his presence :-(

I put the short clip to music. Enjoy!
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I measured Dazzle on Tuesday, but he hadn't grown since last week. Didn't get a chance to weigh him.

March 07, 2009

Went to the park

We went to the park today because it was just TOO beautiful not to be outside! Seventy degrees and mostly sunny! On one of the trails, Dazzle found some fast running water and played a bit in it, chasing sticks and leaves that were floating down. He got a bit deep a few times unexpectedly when he stepped off a rock shelf but after the initial surprize he got himself back to "higher ground" without a problem. I think he is going to be a "water dog" like Buster :-) He was really having fun splashing around! I didn't get photos though. :-(
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Then, because I wasn't ready to go back inside, we took another short trail and I walked slow while he ran ahead and back. He has a really nice auto check-in at just the right distance. Meaning he would only go about 25' ahead, then he would stop and wait for me or come running back before he went on. We did some recall practice too. He also did a great recall away from the one other person we saw on the trail, even though he saw them in the distance. I was surprized with the nice weather that we only passed one other person on this trail. But it's not connected to any other trail and maybe it's too short for most people's hikes? The one person we did meet, happened to have a really friendly female mountain cur (yes, it's a breed.) She and Dazzle had a BLAST running around the open fields where we happened to meet. I DID get some photos of that....
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Here they are in a "stand-off" waiting to see who will dash off first.
ZOOOOMM!!!
Hide and seek in the tall grass:
Resting... Or is that "recharging?"
Posed on a bridge: (It will be nice when the green leaves come back and the dreary brown goes away)
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When I got home, I spent some time playing in the yard with all the dogs. They really enjoyed that! By the end of the play session, everyone's tongues were wide and long and big grins were seen all around. They are all crashed out in the office next to me as I type this. Listening to the sounds outside the open windows.
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Sure wish these tempuratures would stick around, but it's supposed to get colder next week again :-( Thankfully not as cold as last week though. So there's hope!

March 06, 2009

Spring blog header

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I changed the blog header to a more "spring" like photo in hopes that the warmer weather we are having will stick around! It's supposed to be 70 degrees tomorrow- Yee Haw! The title photo and others posted here were taken in the garden displays at the Home and Garden show we visited Thursday.
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I had to stop and sit a lot, but Dazzle did GREAT and was a hit with many of the vendors and attendees, who asked me all about him. His new harness came in handy to get me out of a few of the low chairs without having to strain my knees. Thankfully we found the hidden elevator so I didn't need to do the steps. Not sure what the designer was thinking when he placed the elevator! I had to ask for directions to it and it was hidden in an alcove.
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As I was setting Dazzle up for his photos, there were a few times when other people took their own photos of him :-) I asked the vendors if it was ok before I put him up on the walls and both times, the vendors took their own photos, with big grins on their faces, saying things like "what a cool dog!" He was very respectful of the displays and didn't do his usual "gardening and pruning" as he walked by that he likes to do with other landscaping. He did grab a nibble of mulch at one point though.
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Things that got his attention were some golf balls being putted on a fake putting green, ribbons blowing on an HVAC display and a person bouncing a basket ball in one of the booths (selling portable B-ball hoops.) In all of these cases, he wanted to get the items and play! But he did come away from them with encouragement. He was unsure of some of the cement statues in the garden department, but after carefully sniffing them, he acted like they were no big deal, even on a second pass later. I did need to pet the big cement "pig" (which I admit was an evil looking thing with very beady eyes) to get him to trust it. He had no issue with any of the cute and jolly pigs though.
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Only thing that spooked him was a water fountain right at his nose level that filled a bucket, which dumped just as he looked away. He didn't expect the bucket to dump and it surprized him. But he did eventually (15 seconds or so) recover and go back to sniff it and never barked. Given how many strange things he saw at this event, he did exceptionally well! Stuff like guys climbing big trees at the Back tree services booth, 2 screaming kids in a double stroller going right by us, a display of blowing packing peanuts in a big clear box, LOTS of people of all shapes and sizes, waterfalls, things hanging and moving over head, strange statues at nose level, screeching microphones and who knows what else that he took in stride and I didn't notice.
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There was only one small patch of the carpet runners he was REALLY interested in and didn't want to leave, but everywhere else (same carpet, as well as different flooring surfaces) he ignored the floor. I told the people watching him that I didn't know what was so interesting in the carpet and probably didn't WANT to know! :-) There were several stains I didn't let him investigate, but he was pulling for them and I just waiting till he realized pulling wasn't getting him anything and he came back to me. I had to remind him a few times he was supposed to be with me (not whoever was walking in front of us), but I'd say 98% of the time he was by my side with a loose leash.
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Here's an Easter Theme photo.
Such an adorable face :-)
While his front legs aren't straight here, it's clear he's out of square again. His butt is higher than his shoulders. He grew a 1/2 inch last week though. He's now exactly 23" tall at the shoulders (7 mo. and 1 week old.) I wonder how much he will grow to "square up." Looks like at least an inch based on this photo :-)

March 02, 2009

Cobo Hall weekend

Very tired pup! But he did a great job raising funds for DSA.
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This past weekend was a very busy one!! Dazzle and I drove to Detroit on Friday and checked into our free room at the beautiful Ritz hotel. All of the staff was wonderful and welcoming the entire weekend. The Ritz Dearborn allows dogs and I highly recommend it if you need to be in that area!
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Saturday started early and we went to Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit for a HUGE dog show where we were in the Dog Scouts of America booth to help raise funds for DSA and tell people about the organization. Dazzle did great with all the crowds, noises and commotion. Our booth was right under the track for the "People Mover" (a rail system to get people around downtown, like a small train.) It sounded like a plane flying over about to land on the roof when one went past! He never even reacted to it. We rode it on Sunday, more about that below. The first thing we did after getting settled in, was to make a round of the vendors! I wanted to get that out of the way before I got too sore. Lots of great booths with plenty to see. We were stopped several times by people wanting to meet Dazzle and inquire about his breed. He was soaking up the love :-)
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Doing the whole body wiggle while meeting some kids:

Back in the booth, he played/wrestled with a few of the other dogs there. Then he put his training from earlier in the week to good use. He raised over $50, mostly $1 at a time! Joanne and Jill took some short video of him working for me:

video

I was borrowing Lonnie's wheelchair because it was the most comfortable chair and it kept me off my feet, thus saving my knees/back/neck from feeling worse than they did by the end of the weekend. Dazzle wore his Dog Scout uniform on Saturday but Sunday, when the video and photos were taken, he refused to wear it so I let him work "naked" :-)
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Saturday night, we ate at Frisch's but it was REALLY cold in there. Even Dazzle, who was laying on the cold tile floor with 2 other service dogs, was shivering. But everyone at the table was having fun catching up on what has been happening since we last got together. LOTS of laughs and fun. I put my coat over him to try to warm him up a bit and once he realized it was warmer, he laid back down and went to sleep. I cranked up the heat when I got back in the van for our ride home though! That evening we had a board meeting for DSA in my room and Dazzle mostly slept in his crate while the other dogs (other than 1 young border collie) were crashed out around the room. :-)
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He is starting to feel his age/hormones though. He growled a couple of times at the other dogs that got too close to "his" water bowl (that wasn't really his, but he had just gotten a drink out of it) and in the hotel room when they got close to his crate. I'm hoping my reaction to his behavior will help put an end to that. I'm going to re-read the book called "Mine!" by Jean Donaldson though :-)
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After a short night of tossing and turning, Sunday was check-out day. I packed up all our stuff and loaded the van. Thank God for the cart that let me roll everything rather than have to carry it! Back at Cobo Hall, I dropped off our stuff in the booth and then went up to the people mover level to take Dazzle for a ride on that. He was a bit off balance at first with it's stops and starts, but then learned to balance himself. He was taking treats a bit hard, but other than that, there were no signs of stress. He was looking around, tail and ears were up and he was just sniffing whenever the doors opened at the various stops. I was very pleased with his comfort with such a strange experience for him. It was just like a train with the track clicking sounds, screetching of the tracks (very loud at times) and the feeling of it's movement. We rode the whole loop around downtown and back to Cobo Hall.
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After a trip outside, we went back to the booth to start more fundraising and promotion of DSA. Dazzle raised a total of $183 during the weekend! A great start toward his Community Service badge. He did get rather worn out though and took a nap in a tent Lonnie brought as a prop. It was way too small for him, but he seemed to really love it. I had brought his large rectangle crate made of the same super lightweight material and style, but he wanted to be in the small square tent :-)
I enjoyed watching the Malinois working in the next ring for the Michigan Search and Rescue team. They had a big set-up to demo their dogs abilities. Dazzle spent some time watching them too, but was able to focus on me when I needed him to do so.
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Things that really distracted him were balls being bounced by people going by the booth (someone was selling tennis balls the size of a basket ball!) and when some of the other people in our booth were working on retrieve training in the booth behind us. I had to ask them to stop so Dazzle could continue to take money. There was also, near the end, a child about 10 years old that ran up to him in a way that every footfall was slapping against the concrete floor. That spooked him and he didn't trust that kid. He did bark at him a couple times too. I had the kid give him several treats on a flat hand and had him drop his dollar donation on the floor instead because Dazzle wouldn't take it from his hand. He was fine with the kid's brother and all other kids after that though. So I think it was an isolated incident. There were other times when I thought he might react (various sounds or actions) and he took them completely in stride! So I think he did a fantastic job with such long days in a crazy environment!
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I drove back home Sunday night, but had to stop and take a short nap a few times. I hadn't slept well in the hotel and was quite tired and sore from the activities all weekend. Dazzle slept the whole 5 hours home and was ready to play by the time we got there. I checked my email for anything urgent then went to bed.
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This morning I took him and Buster in for their Chiropractic adjustments. Both did well, though Dazzle was very wiggly and gave the vet a workout :-) He's 47 pounds now. He did need the adjustment, so I'll continue with them every couple months at least till he's finished growing, then we'll see how he's doing and how often he needs adjusted. The vet said his jaw and head needed a good bit of adjustment. I figure it's because of all the ball flattening he does and all the high speed retrieves he does when I throw the ball across the yard.
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I had been waiting for his new harness to arrive before I left on Friday, but ended up leaving before it arrived because I wanted to get to Detroit at a decent hour. I did get some photos of him in his new harness today though. I colored the grass again and sent the photo to the company where I bought it. Who knows, maybe he can be an example for their website! It's a really nice "V" front harness called a Yurkiw named after the officer that designed it for tracking/protection. I like it for a service harness and the company put heavy-duty velcro on the back of the patches they sell so I could add them to the harness. I originally ordered a Med. size, but it was too big and I returned it for the small he's wearing. I also think I need to loosen the strap between his legs so the chest piece can be a bit higher.