Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taught my first class!

Last night I got to teach my first Obed class at DMOTC - beginner's obedience!

I've always liked helping the public with the basics - sit, stand, walk nicely, attention, down, etc.  Lori has been nice enough to back me up on my first attempt - we'll see how it progresses!  I think it went pretty well, we have a lot of people who understand what's going on and only a few dogs that are...exuberant.  ;)

I put Rocket in an advanced class - there are only three of us, plus Sonia.  He's doing a good job so far - I really need to teach him out to sit properly, so I'm anxiously awaiting the return of Earl so we can find matting to put on our fun box.

He really likes the box...if he's waiting for me to set something up he'll run to the box and sit.  I still need to work on our attention span!  We learned how to move our butt around too so we have nice turns and figure eights.

Allie attempted to be a nice demo dog, but got too excited and wanted to follow me around instead of staying.  I wasn't too mad at's been a long time since she's been at the club and expected to behave!

Looking forward to agility classes starting up again - ready to conquer the teeter!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Allie's Tracking Progress

I can't forget about Allie's tracking progress!  Our tracking classes are every other Saturday, and she's gone a longer/older track each time - she's up to 150 yards, aged roughly 20 minutes.  Last Saturday we tried a real challenge - I accidentally put a track upwind, so we weren't sure if the scent was going to throw her off. 

Allie likes to cast for her tracks, so she's a zig-zagger, but this time she took the straight path to her gloves.  Of course we had a party.  :)  We tried the track upwind, and the scent pulled her to the track we just ran - but I was able to re-scent her and get her on her merry way.

She loves tracking - she gets serious.  Odd for the red-zone dog.  But I figured that if it was enough to make her serious, she must be serious about it.  I'll have to improve my line handling and get her out more often to get her a TD.

Another successful Saturday for Rocket

Since most of my training experience comes from Ruby, Rocket has always seemed easy - a dog that's willing to please and likes having a "job" to do.  My failure with him is I can't keep up - I'm pretty sure I'm holding him back from being more successful, faster - since I'm still a Novice A handler.

My main issue with him is his attention span.  He's still an immature dog, so I've been doing everything I can to reward him for looking at me and paying attention to me.  I try hard not to correct him much - I want everything new to start with fun and the realization that mistakes are mistakes - Mom doesn't love you any less, and we can keep working.

He's still intact.  He's hasn't been shown in a long time - we're waiting for him to fill out and mature.  His love of girls has only gotten stronger with time, and some days I wish I could neuter him.  I think his need to investigate everything girl related has thrown off his eating habits, and he'll go a day or two without eating.  He's so distracted by everything he'll refuse to eat - so instead of the 80+ lbs he should weigh, I think he's only tipping the scales at ~70.  I can't get weight on him - I swear anything he gets besides TOTW/Orijen and his training treats makes him sick.

On to his successes today - he's starting to realize that drop means drop.  I worked on some fronts, and he's starting to sit really close first instead of me asking him to fix it.  We did a little bit of box work, so he can learn how to sit properly and what heel actually means.  I was lucky enough to find a piece of spare wood in the garage that is a perfect size for his butt, but it's really slick.  I'm going to ask Earl next Thursday where we put the extra matting when we replaced the floor at the club so I can nail it to our box.  We did a few finishes - very nice!  A little heeling as well, and he's starting to get the idea of where his head needs to stay.  A figure eight or two, all very nicely done.  Some broad jump work - also well done for a beginner.  We did some retrieve over the high jump as well - he likes to jump, so I don't think I'll have any issue with the broad or high jump.  We've started our "get out" game too, for utility go outs - he's starting to pick up the command.  We're using a box as a marker, and he's getting sharp at taking off for the box, turning, and sitting - all very quickly - and waiting for a reward.

The best part was at the end of our session.  I was helping Sonia, being a good distraction while she was working Chance's broad jump - Chance LOVES the dumbbell.  Rocket was playing with his reward for a good day - his snake toy loaded with squeakers.  Rocket watched Chance go after our practice dumbbell twice and decided enough was enough - that was OUR dumbbell.  I threw the dumbbell again, and Rocket took off after it - picked it up - and did a victory lap.  Of course we went crazy with cheers, and he felt his job was done...until Sonia wanted to work on Chance's retrieve on the flat.  He realized that he really wanted Chance's dumbbell, and so he took off after it - only to realize that it's a lot heavier than our practice dumbbell.  We waited him out - he finally figured out how to pick it up - and decided to do another victory lap.  I called him, and he came back with the dumbbell in his mouth and held it for me!  Again, cheers ensued.

Sonia wanted me to try and get Rocket to get the dumbbell and come back over the jump.  On his second successful "take it", he did two victory laps and came back over the jump - then waited for me to ask him to give it.  I'm pretty sure I don't give him enough credit.  I know he's a very smart dog, but I didn't realize that he'd watch and learn, and then pick it up so quickly.  His willingness to try new things and keep an upbeat attitude never ceases to amaze me.  Both him and Allie offer behaviors when they want something...but he's much more persistent in regards to things he wants.  I've watched him offer my husband 6 behaviors, and when my husband didn't give up the toy he wanted after the 6th, he offered one that I had only taught him once - dead dog.

He's the dog that I see possibly getting an OTCH.  I can't wait to see what our future brings.  For know, I think I'll settle for his CH.

Oh Ruby.

I had to have "the talk" with Sonia today about Ruby's future in competitive obedience.  I hate to say it, because I feel like I'm giving up on her, but it's looking more and more like she's going to struggle to get her CDX.  She's got some baggage (I hate that word...sounds like an excuse) that we haven't been able to work around for years.  I know this dog loves me - the feeling's mutual - but I don't think that's going to be enough to get around her resentment.  I don't know what she's resentful about - I'm pretty sure it's something along the lines of "why do you keep pushing me?  I love you, I listen more often than not...what more do you want from me?"

I knew when I started that she could possibly be the biggest challenge...she's never let me down on that.  But this dog, who's been through so much and struggles with her inner demons's hard to watch her get down.  I know how much potential she has, how much she loves being in the ring with me.  I've loved watching her figure out what I want when we've been clicker training her dumbbell work.  I love seeing that tail wag every time I look down on a halt when we're heeling, and the attention she gives when she is really enjoying something.  I love the zoomies she gets when she realizes that yes, she can make a mistake...but it's not the end of the world.

I feel like I owe her more.  If that means finishing up her CD and working up to her RE and then hanging up her show be it.  I only want her to be happy, and someday realize that this is her home....she can relax...the rug isn't going to be pulled out from under her again.

To those of you who believe a dog is a dog is a dog...I hope you realize the damage you can do to a living, feeling animal.  You may not realize the harm you can do...but the rest of us who rescue have to deal with the issues that come from your ignorance.  A dog doesn't forget the things that have happened in their lives, and it shapes their outlook forever.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The First of Many

I need an outlet for my training progress and woes.....what a better way than a blog no one will read?  Prepare for sarcasm, pointless exclamation points, juvenile remarks, and lots of periods...not that kind.

I'll start from the beginning, when a girl met a boy, and they decided to buy a house......

We already had Noodle when we started looking for a house.  She's an opinionated snuggler (think of that friend that makes rude snorting noises when she's pissed) that routinely steals blankets and likes to get all of my husband's affection...all 6 1/2 pounds of her.  I was only able to teach her to sit... 

Shortly after moving in, we started talking about getting another dog.  I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday, and lo and was a dog.  Specifically, one that could "fetch and run around in water." (Because we spend so much time in/around water.....)  Petfinder was nice enough to point us in the direction of a litter of Lab puppies in a shelter an hour from home, so we made the trek and came home with Allie - all of 4 weeks old and loaded with parasites.  As she recovered from her not so great start in life, we realized that she was going to be a decent sized dog that was going to require some serious training.

I signed her up for a beginner obedience class at an obedience club.  She picked up things quickly, and I realized how much fun we were having.  Our instructors were nice enough to point out what we were doing right and what we could work on, and encouraged me to continue to put her through more advanced classes.  We also tried tracking that first year, and discovered her true love - the Sniff.

We realized that Allie needed a friend - she and Noodle got along, but a miniature Dachshund is a little small for a 60 lb dog that has no self control (also known as the "Red-Zone Dog").  I asked my husband again what kind of dog he wanted, and a Boston Terrier search was on.  I visited the HUA rescue website ( and found a few Bostons that were recently rescued from a puppy mill.  After being approved, we drove the 2 1/2 hours to NE to meet the newest member of our family.  Unfortunately, when we arrived to pick her up, the rescue had just found out she had heartworm - again - and she couldn't be adopted.  We visited the rest of the dogs at the rescue, and really liked a Siberian Husky, only to be told she had been adopted.  One of the volunteers helping us that day remembered that a nearby foster group had brought a Sibe in for a spay and shots, and suggested we visit them - Richardson County Humane Society.

We drove 45 minutes more to meet a liver colored abuse case that was being housed in an abandoned garage - all of their foster homes were full.  She was being properly cared for, but because of her previous situation, she was (and still is, at times) afraid of everything - she didn't want to come out of her doghouse to see us.  We were finally able to coax her out, and once she warmed up to us, we decided she would be a good fit.

I wish I could say she's an "easy" dog, but those first few days we had her home were rough.  She was scared out of her wits - I remember the first time we left her alone at home in a new crate - only to come home to a dog out of the crate we left her in, her head stuck in the cat door of the room she was quarantined in.  She managed to pull the wire crate door in with her teeth and open the latches..we had to have one of her bottom canines removed later on from the damage.  She had to have a leash on for the first few weeks, because anytime Allie or Noodle would walk by, she'd lunge and snap.  We thought about giving her back up to rescue - we weren't prepared for her. 

We managed to work through that first month.  Over time she adapted to our home and seemed to finally relax.  I signed her up for obedience classes, since I knew the horror stories of Sibes - digging, jumping fences, home destroyers, untrainable - and wanted to get a head start.  She did well - sadly, food is a fabulous motivator for a dog that never knew when her next meal would be. 

Later on that year I applied for membership to DMOTC - Des Moines Obedience Training Club.  Once I was approved, I was able to go to member nights, where classes are held to help prep for trials.  I assumed that Allie would be my show dog - after all, who shows Sibes in Obed? - and took both Allie and Ruby with me that first night.  It was a novice Rally class, and I remember how well Ruby did that night, and how much she wanted to work - I couldn't see her potential, but my sponsors did. 

3 years and many, many training hours later, and Ruby is Alruno's Rock of Love, CGC TDI - with 2 CD legs and 1 RN leg.  I don't trial very often - in Iowa, that would require a lot of travel I don't have room for in my life right now.  We've been sticking to local shows and fun matches to keep her Novice skills up, while training in Open and a few Futility (haha) exercises.  She's the dog that made me realize that I want to do this - training - as long as I can - it's rewarding, although very challenging, but so worth it. 

Ever heard a Sibe's opinion?  Usually a few growls mixed in with some yipping and nips..bringing us to our Growl - Ruby.

Did I mention that I have always wanted a Doberman?  I was lucky enough to meet a fellow Doberman lover, who had gotten two dogs from a breeder she had been friends with for quite awhile.  We went to visit her in IL one weekend, and I got to have my first experience with Dobe puppies.  I fell in love with the male in the house - Breaker - and always said that I'd love to have one of his sons.  I wanted to try conformation - I've never done it before, and this dog stuff gets addicting - you have to try everything once!  I gave Sandi a deposit for a future show prospect, but never expected it to happen so soon...

As luck would have it, Breaker (CH Bruda Lord of the Rings) was bred to Savannah (CH Bruda the Artist is Savannah), and Sandi had one black male left - a show prospect she saved for herself.  I met him one weekend - spunky, hilarious, but oh so loving - he followed me everywhere in the yard.  My only obstacle was my husband...did we really need 4 dogs in the house?  After a lot of conversation, I was allowed to bring home Rocket - Bruda Up Like a Rocket - currently 19 months and AKC ptd from the puppy classes.

If you've read this far, you rock.  Seriously.  That means you know what's coming next...if Allie is Sniff, and Ruby is Growl....yep.  Rocket is Fart.  Ever had a Doberman?  You learn really quickly that the farting is common and strong enough to clear a room, unless you find their kryptonite - in Rocket's case, Orijen or TOTW. does one Novice handler train three very different Novice dogs?  Easy.  A lot of free time, no expectations, and people who will help, no matter what - my fellow members at DMOTC.  Yep, it's hard.  Some days it feels like a war being waged between myself and Ruby.  I'm a pretty stubborn person, so if you can imagine how things work out between myself and one very intelligent, half mule Siberian bitch...I wish I could get video of our training sessions sometimes.

Tomorrow's another day...let's see what we can accomplish!  We usually train with Sonia - one of my sponsors - for about an hour on Saturday mornings.  I help her out with her BC Chance and her Springer client girl Prada, and then we go home and veg.

I'm teaching my first Obed class on Tuesday night - Beginners.  A little nervous, considering it'll be the first class I'm in charge of.  Might have to practice my outside voice.