Monday, March 24, 2008

I love it when people hate on Jon Katz ...

After reading some of his columns in Slate, I have never been able to bring myself to actually read one of Jon Katz's books, because his columns have made me think he must be a supercilious imbecile. Pretty much everyone I know who does any sort of dog training agrees with me, and I don't have enough spare time to read his books to confirm or deny. So thanks to Luisa at Lassie Get Help for this post, affirming my gut instinct that I can put off reading Jon Katz until I'm stuck in a body cast or something and have run completely out of other things to read.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Update-a-rama ...

I haven't been blogging a lot because I'm obsessed with houses: a) selling one, which involves lots of constant vacuuming up dog hair and snippets of chewed toys, wiping muddy paws and paw prints and picking up dogs toys and beds (only to put them back out later when the coast in clear; and b) buying one, which is anxiety-inducing because I can't afford anything decent, so my mind is engrossed in mulling over all the compromises I will have to make.

Anywho, the dogs ...

First Lucy: She's no longer lame. I have no idea what it was. We're going to the doggie chiropractor this week--if Lucy jammed a toe or something she might find it.

Also, I could have entered a local NADAC trial last weekend, but I've been so busy and exhausted I decided to skip it. I'm glad I didn't enter, because I would have been worried about Lucy's lameness returning in the middle of the trial, and then I would have felt awful. So instead she got to go to the park many times (every time I have to vacate the house for a showing, the dogs and I go to a park for a while) and we both took it easy.

Pinky: Still appears to be under 16 inches tall, but she now weighs slightly more than Lucy. She's a little rock--skinny as a rail but very muscular. After a couple of months of very sporadic training due to my life circumstances, I'm getting myself back into the mode of teaching her some foundation skills. A few friends and I all have young dogs, and we've started getting together once a week to help each other with foundation training. Well, we've only actually met once, but we plan for it to be a weekly thing. I really like training with others, because it gives me some direction. Left to myself, I have a hard time deciding what to teach or try next. I've never trained an agility dog from puppyhood before (Lucy and Mr. Gomez were both 6 years old when I started them), and there are endless possibilities. It's fun and intimidating.

I've decided to teach running contacts, because the two-on-two-off thing just never worked out so well for me, and I hate it. Lucky for me several of my friends went to a local Sylvia Trkman seminar and are going to teach their dogs using her methods. So I'll just let them help me train Pinky ;-) I missed Sylvia's seminar because 1) busy getting the house ready to sell; 2) poor; and 3) I want people I know to try out the person first, and if they report back favorably then I'll spend my money on them. So far I've heard mostly good things about Sylvia, so If I get another chance I'll take one of her seminars. Until then I'll just siphon her knowledge second-hand from my friends.

Anyway, what appeals to me about Sylvia's method is that aside from taking a lot of time, repetitions and patience, it's fairly simple. I don't mind spending a lot of time on something (I spent what seemed like ages running Lucy and Mr. G. through weave channels before starting to close them), but I hate really complicated methods. The way Sylvia trains, it's really doing the same thing over and over--she runs her dogs full speed across a board, and then gradually increasing the angle as the dog progresses.

I'm hoping that very soon I will have lots more time to train my dogs and write blog entries about it.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Mystery malady

Lucy came up lame last night, and I have no idea what happened. We had done some agility practice and then a little off-leash running around, and she was fine. We came home, she had dinner, went outside ... still fine. Then she relaxed on one of her cushy beds for about and hour or so while I checked e-mail, and I decided Pinky should go out again. Lucy got up to come with us and she was limping severely--she didn't want to put her rear right foot on the ground. I checked for the obvious stuff--torn pads, thorns, anything stuck between her pads--and there was nothing. I gently felt her feet and legs to see if one particular spot made her wince--still nothing. Nothing felt swollen or out of place (not that I really know the proper places of all a dog's foot innards, but the hurt leg felt just like the other one).

Mr. Gomez came up lame a lot. Sometimes it was a torn pad, sometimes it was who knows what--he does everything with such an overabundance of enthusiasm that he's always hurting something. It got to the point with him that I would just automatically decide to wait and see if he was still limping in the morning before I took him in to be checked, because it almost always was temporary. Buy Lucy is different--she's very careful and doesn't fling herself around the way Gomey does, so she's hardly ever lame. When she is it's usually been a thorn, something stuck between her pads, or a bee sting. So I didn't even think twice before calling the emergency vet. Right before I took her in, I decided to let her hobble outside to take a whiz, and as soon as she got out the door she shot across the yard chasing a squirrel. Hmmm ... can it be that bad if she's rocketing after squirrels? But as soon as the squirrel was gone, she was back to limping severely . So even though the pain wasn't bad enough to keep her from chasing a squirrel, I was still really worried. So I took her in anyway.

But them two hours later, when I was trying to keep from falling asleep in the waiting room (I'd had a long a tiring day), I decided that maybe I'd rather just monitor her and then bring her back this morning if she was still limping. But she wasn't--we got up this morning and she was fine. We went to a park where she likes to hunt voles, and she was fine. We went to another park later (there was an open house at my place today and I had to be gone) and she was still fine ... until we got home and she got out of the car. She was limping again. But now, a few hours later, she's not limping anymore.

So now I guess I'll just run her into the vet tomorrow and have them look at it. My bet is that they will find nothing, but it will make me feel better. At least a vet has a better idea of what to feel for than I do. I'll also call the doggie chiropractor, because I'm thinking maybe she jammed a toe or something, and the chiropractor will be able to feel it. I hope it's nothing worse than that.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Getting bigger ...

my girls
Originally uploaded by bunchofpants
The nail-biting has officially commenced ... Pinky has reached 15" at the shoulders and she's only six months old. Yikes. There are two things buoying my hopes: 1) Smaller dogs reach their adult height at an earlier age than bigger dogs. Lucy was very close to her full height at 6 months, and the rest of her growth was mostly filling out--her chest expanded a bit so she didn't look so gangly; and 2) Pinky's growth has definitely leveled off over the past two months. I now find myself wishing she would hurry up and go into heat so her growth plates will close sooner rather than later (Lucy had her first heat right at 6 months).

I know it won't be the end of the world if Pinky exceeds 16" because she is incredibly athletic and I think she will easily jump 22" (Lucy has no problem clearing 22" ... she actually went over a 26" triple once). I just like being in the 16" height class. It's not dominated by border collies. In fact, around here there is no single breed that dominates. The shelties are always very good, and there's that one mini--er, I mean very, very small--aussie that completely kicks butt, but I feel like Lucy can compete with all of them and I'm confident Pinky would be able to as well.

But border collies are the intimidators of agility--they seem unbeatable sometimes. Now I know perfectly well that they aren't, because the very speed and alacrity that makes them win spectacularly also very often sends them hurtling off course or causes them to obliterate jumps, miss up-contacts, etc. And who's to say that Pinky won't have speed and alacrity? She's got plenty of enthusiasm and loves to play and learn new stuff (she thinks tunnels are awesome!), so maybe I'll have the kind of nutso dog who can't be beat when she stays on course and keeps her bars up. I'd just rather she do it in the 16" class against the shelties and very tiny aussies ;-)