Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Little Dog Makes a Huge Impression!

Bea-Bea Update!!!

This very cool puppy has come a very long way, and grown some as well!

Bea-Bea is becoming more, loving, and focused every day. She's well house trained, and loves her crate- good stuff happens there! We haven't done much leash work, because she comes running ever time she hears her name called. The only time she gets out, and she does, it's to be near me. Bea-Bea looks forward to lots of "mushy-time" when we're relaxing at night. She is super social with dogs, loves the kitten, and has learned how much fun people are too!

I'd love to see her go to an agility home, she's primed and ready for an experienced "shaper." Bea-Bea shows some interest in the ball, tug toy, and Frisbee, but much prefers to run alongside the others that participate. Bea-Bea really looks forward to running alongside the golf cart, and has a good vertical leap too.

She easily clears the baby gate, but has fun stalling on top of it now; she's very athletic. I'm not an agility guy, but I'd love to see someone put her through a more agility specific evaluation. It's not a requirement, so long as she goes to an active home, but...

Don't wait too long for this one; if I do start working agility, I may have to keep her myself!

This Australian Cattle Dog Mix has been this weeks focus for me, and the "canine crew" here at Sit & Stay. Ezzy, Esmeralda, first came to my attention when I saw the collective cry for help to bail her out of a S Florida shelter. This posting was a "call to arms" to the performance/rescue dog community at large; it bounced from coast to coast.

The chain of communication and custody is a short list of people that consistently go above and beyond to improve the lives of every dog they can. Thanks to Stacy Bonner McIlvenn, Andrea Rigler, Chris Engel, Karen Dale Avick, Holly Ryerson, Gisele Veilleux, and Caroline Tart. Caroline helped Ezzy with the last, four hour, leg of her journey here, her new foster home.

When they arrived at my door-step, Ezzy was reluctant to come inside. With a little coaxing, and some nudging we finally got her to her own room for that first night. I don't think she's been indoors much in her first year of life. I set her up with her own dog bed, complete with night-light, fresh food, and water. She tucked herself into the furthest corner away from the baby gate, and successfully hid from my "crew" until potty time the next morning.

It was a little tough not getting emotional that first morning. Ezzy was literally rattled; her little 30lb frame was visibly shaking. Amazingly she ate the cup of food I left her. However, it was roughly an hour before Titan, my Border Collie, seemed to have a calming effect on her. That ,in my mind, was the beginning of her new life. By mid-day she showed signs of a dog learning to be comfortable in her own skin.
That "first day" I ran into a little complication, when I praised her for doing her business outdoors. My "Izzy" got so excited that she blind-sided me with a reverse vault off of my mid-section. The name "Ezzy" needed to change; I wanted to make a connection to the disc dog community, but "Disc" is too masculine...ha,ha! Okay so how 'bout "bee?", no, that will bring Titan running! Maybe "Bea-Bea"; she loves it, and I only get one dog when I call it out! For the most part, I didn't do much more than allow her to assimilate herself into our routine the first day. That included moving into her own crate in my room at bedtime; she wasn't happy.

Bea-Bea's second day started with a game of "I'm not touching you." She'd approach, sniffing a foot away, then haul butt in the opposite direction. I broke from my usual restriction to the day rooms for everybody, so the sweet little girl could move into my space of her own accord. Basically I set her up to move a room closer to me each day; by day four that restricted area would find her with me. At this point she's got no real social skills, but she hasn't displayed any anti-social behavior whatever.

By the third day, Bea-Bea started showing a real sense of belonging. This step in the right direction began with her "air tag" game right out of the crate. Then she moved outside with the pack, and relieved herself immediately; she is housebroken. Three days here means exposure to tons of new stimuli. There are people in and out, as well as other dogs, and tons of activities. Bea-Bea loves to run along side the golf cart, and shows no intention to break out to leave us. I've been running her slowly, because she was spayed right before she left the S Florida shelter. By the end of the day she's touching her nose to me before she darts away. Bea- Bea's not aware, but she's also been funneled another room closer.

Her fourth day with us was a breakthrough day. Not only is she now mouthing me in a hit and run fashion, but she's looking to me for direction. In addition, Bea-Bea has no issue with walking in her crate on her own. That first night she did a hand-stand, quite naturally, rather than allowing herself to be nudged inside...funny stuff! Once more her free roam zone has been choked down, finally to one large room with me and the others. On this day Bea-Bea discovered the TV.
I'm kicked back watching the tube, zoning, when I realize she's trying to find the source of those sound and movements behind the set. Then she came over to me, as if to ask for an explanation. Of course, she took-off when I tried to touch her...almost. Well, I lost interest in watching TV, and got a big kick out of the repeated tilting of Bea-Bea's little head. Her perfect ears were moving independently, and her blue/brown eyes were bugging-out. She's very alert, but her nervous energy is diminishing into a more focused, playful energy.
Day five of Bea-Bea's stay with us started with a walk on lead to our driveway gate; about 5 minutes. She started off between my feet, then against my left leg, and finally in the heel position quite naturally. When we got to the gate I praised her tons, and let her off lead to follow me back to the house. She's really starting to enjoy the security of home life, that was so alien to her on "day-one."

Now I'm tethering her to me with a slip lead, in short intervals. She's showing less resistance to my touch every day. This week I plan on working more one on one play. It was apparent from the beginning, this young dog somehow spent a year devoid of positive stimulus. Bea-Bea's current favorite recreation is butterfly catching, there are dozens out today. She's so intense, and seems to enjoy getting some air under her...? Now, this very athletically built little girl may have a performance life ahead of her. "B"... "off Titan!", is super fast, and agile!

I'm very proud, and honored to have been mentioned with the likes of the performance, and rescue "personalities" that made this pups rescue possible; no pressure. This week promises to be full of more new, and fun adventures, for this playful piece of molding clay. By the way, she's also good with "Murphy", the kitten.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quotation/ Poem of the Week

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be.

Today I sniffed
Many dog butts — I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paperboy — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Garbage man — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I lift my leg and
Whiz on each bush. Hello, Spot —
Sniff this and weep.

I Hate my choke chain —
Look, world, they strangle me! Ack
Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot — no greater bliss — well,
Maybe catching cats.

Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much I do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program

Carson and Joan, demonstrating how to react to another dog with the assistance of Charlie "G", and our own Nina "Beans"!

What are the judges looking for?

The test is broken down to ten parts, and is basically meant to show how well they behave on leash in a typical social environment. Your dog needs to allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak to you in an everyday situation. They need to allow that stranger to pet them, while remaining calm, and polite; no jumping or pawing. Then, the dog needs to allow that stranger to brush, examine their teeth, paws, ears..etc.

The fourth skill you'll need to demonstrate a short controlled walk on a loose leash. Next, the handler and dog must show that they can pass three or more people, a simulated pedestrian and public situation, in a controlled manner.

Responding well to commands is required as well. Sit, Down, and then Staying in place. Followed by coming when called, the proctors will ask you to drop the leash, take ten steps from your "pup" while in the Stay; they will have you pause, and now use the Come command. That sets you guys up for the next segment; reaction to another dog.

Now, you're asked to demonstrate that you can approach other handlers and their dogs in a polite manner, allowing you to greet and then shake hands with the other handler(s). If you can do all of that, you only need to work on two more skills.

If you regularly work with your dog in public, you're all to familiar with dealing with distractions; the slamming of a car door, kids screaming, a bird or squirrel in the dogs line of vision...etc. The proctors will most likely drop something or create a loud sound, and then evaluate your dogs reaction, and your control. Almost done!

The last requirement can be the most difficult. While we want to build a strong bond with our dog, we need to encourage them to be secure with others too. You'll approach a stranger with your dog once more, but this time you need to ask that person: "will you watch my dog?" Hand over the leash and get out of sight for three minutes. The proctors will look for them to be comfortable and calm: no excessive whining or tugging on leash...this can be tough, but you can do it!

Practice, patience, and consistency are key. Even if you have no plan to get involved with volunteer, or therapy work, it's a good idea to work with your dog on these skills. Everyone knows their dogs need physical exercise, in order to keep healthy; it's equally important to exercise, and stimulate your pups mind. A working dog is a happy dog; they need to know they're earning their keep.

I'm certain you can find a qualified local trainer that will help you to communicate your and the public requirements of them. I've been fortunate to meet tons of great, dedicated, and caring positive dog trainers in person and can too. There's an incredible trend of responsible dog owners, handlers, and trainers today. Training should be fun, and above all positive; dogs, like us, learn quickly when they're having fun. Your good dog, should, and can be great!

Our star students, Joan and Carson, are coming by for a play-date today! They're two of three supervised visits away from completing the pre-requisites required by "Caring Canines." At that point the only thing left to make them "official" is the convented AKC CGC award.

We're doing one more mock-up of the CGC test here on the 25th, then they're going for it on the 29th. As Joan reminded me, I said "Carson will do great" in these pre-rec's; "the best" of the current group moving through that program. I'm very proud to have been a part of this teams success. Get'em, calmly, guys!