Friday, August 31, 2007

Small bites

I had been meaning to post something about a rather crummy dog instructors' seminar I attended a few weeks back--in which I did actually learn a few useful things, but then I decided I just didn't feel like being negative. The biggest problem with the seminar was that it was disorganized and chaotic, which made it rather excruciating, but I still caught a few bits that will help me improve my puppy classes. I will try them out this session and if I find them useful, maybe I'll write something then. Otherwise, I found myself disagreeing with a lot of the trainers' methods and thinking Ï would never do that in my class," but it was still interesting to hear how other people do things.

In other news, I have a three-day USDAA trial this weekend at my home turf, and I can't wait. I had planned to go to a trial in August, but as the closing date approached I found myself a bit lean on funds, so I decided to pass. So now I'm itching to compete, and I hope Lucy feels the same. After several weeks of record high temps here, we're actually looking forward to three days in the high 80s/low 90s. It will feel refreshing to us.

This weekend will be my first DAM team tournament. My pal Amanda and I have resurrected the Odd Dogs (a team name we used for an ill-fated PVP attempt last fall) with a third member. Our lineup is Lucy, my little speckled mix, Weaver, an American Foxhound and Machias, an Akita. We figure the "Odd Dog" moniker is fitting considering that two of the three dogs are definitely not your usual agility types. We have shirts and hats and are hoping that even if we don't Q, we can at least take the "Team Spirit" award that's being offered. I just hope Lucy doesn't step on a bee, as she did last year.

And on a completely different topic, Blogger has fixed whatever bug had made it impossible to edit my template, which means I can update my list of blogs over on the right when I get a few more minutes. Until then--and I promise it will happen because some of my few readers have great blogs--I'd like to give a shout-out and thank you to Terrierman for posting this highly entertaining vid of a Jack Russel doing Schutzhund.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gratuitous cute puppy blogging ...

every office needs one ...
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants
Someone brought a pup to work today--a little rescued chihuahua, about 7 weeks old, who had been near death when he was rescued along with his sister. The sister dog apparently still needs a home. Hmmm, I was thinking, I've seen a few nifty little agility chihuahuas ... and they're so small it would be a barely detectable increase in my household doggage ... But really, I don't think a chihuahua is really the dog for me.

In other news, I went to a really awful instructors' seminar this weekend ... I'll post more about it later.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The "dog days of summer": a misnomer, plus a word about retractable leashes

I've been remiss in my dog-blogging, partly because I haven't been doing a lot of training, thanks to a recent heat wave here in NC. Temps weren't so bad last week, but they were still warm enough to keep my training time to a minimum, and this week temps have been at or above 100F, with high humidity that has pushed the heat index up to 110 on some days. It's so oppressive that all classes have been canceled this week at my training facility, even the ones in the covered arena, which at least has the benefit of providing shade.

I have been trying to at least get my dogs out for regular walks in the mornings or late evenings, because the exercise is essential for all of us. I'm also a firm believer that being stuck in the same old house every day, even if there's frequent backyard access, makes a dog bored, frustrated and even neurotic. A dog has to get out and smell the world, I think, to be happy.

This brings to mind a great topic that Christie Keith, one of the bloggers at Pet Connection wrote about yesterday in her San Francisco Chronicle column: retractable leashes. Some people love 'em, some not so much. On the first night of every puppy class session, I always tell my students that they should not use a retractable leash until they get their dog under control on a 6-foot leash. But then I never really incorporate any lessons on using retractable leashes because there's just not enough time in my 6-week puppy class (and frankly, most of the students still haven't mastered the control issue in that period--most need to advance through the pet obedience class before they can get and maintain control on-leash).

As for my own dogs, I only use a retractable with one--Lucy--because Mr. Gomez never seems to be able to get the distinction between being on a retractable and being off-leash. Once he gets past the 6 feet he's used to getting on his regular leash, his brain jumps to "off-leash" mode and he rushes ahead, only to get pulled short at the end of the retractable. I think with careful training and practice I could get him accustomed to it, but it's just fine with me to keep him on a regular leash. He's a bit reactive around other dogs and small children, so it's probably easier for us to stay out of trouble on a 6-foot leash. When I've only got Lucy, however, we do quite well with a retractable.

At any rate, I'm very happy to see Keith's article, because she very nicely explains the ins and outs of retractable leash use. I think I'll add copies of it to the materials I keep handy for students who want more info than we can cover in class. In fact, maybe I should carry copies on my walks and hand them out to people who seem like they could use it ... we usually run into several of them along the way, and I usually end up crossing the street to avoid them.