Friday, April 10, 2015

No Therapy For Us


After a few more Therapy Dog visits with Dot, it became apparent that therapy work just isn't Dot's calling.  She is a friendly dog, outgoing and willing to go and be anywhere.  She greets people.  She knows a command for go say hi and a command for resting her head on their lap.  But if were up to her, she'd spend about 10 seconds with each person and then move on!  She just wants to move, see what's next, get to the next room, smell the next hallway, see who is around the next corner.  She doesn't want to linger and let someone pet her for ages and ages.  She kind of wants to move on, which I can only imagine makes the person being visited feel left out and longing for more interaction, not exactly the feelings aTherapy Dog should bring out in people. 

When visiting nursing home patients or students stressed about finals, she is not the patient, ever-present calming force with others that she is with me.  With my husband and I, she is insistent and merciless in her quest for attention and petting.  She is the dog that nudges and rubs and forces your hand onto her.  And I thought sure she'd be that way with others, but not so.

After I had already made the decision and contacted our local therapy contact who had been supervising our visits, a friend posted a link to this blogpost.   It is so true, people want to be out with their animals, sharing them and doing good but it really is a small percentage of all dogs that actually enjoy and crave that type of activity.  While I wouldn't say the Dot didn't enjoy it at ALL, there were certainly other things she'd rather be doing if given the chance.
These two photos are examples of Dot would rather be!

Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 AKC Rally National Championship


After I decided to enter Taco in the AKC Rally National Championship, I had major butterflies and almost wanted to call it off.  But I had paid my money.  We had made hotel reservations and got someone to watch the cat and made plans.  I had hyped it up to my friends.  These are not good reasons to go, but they are reasons.
So we packed up our bags
And took the short drive to Purina Farms. (The dogs fell asleep, as usual.)
Upon arrival, the dogs enjoyed their hotel room bones.
We set up our crates (including the new quilt and matching crate tags!)
In the HUGE crating area
And got our first look at the rings
Wow, this was going to be quite a production!  Then on Friday, I tried to keep Taco's attention.
And despite being very stressed out, he was overall a very good boy.
Long story short, Taco was not ready and I knew that going in.  I don't think the experience negatively impacted him in the long run, after a couple of days he's back to his normal happy self and enjoys training just as much as he did.  But the trip wasn't his favorite experience in the world.  New places, strange dogs, off his routine, all caused a major down-shift in Taco's usual happy attitude.  He mainly wanted to spend time in his crate.  He was able to play with toys at the show site, so that was a good sign but in the ring he was stressed and moving in slow-mo.  He was so worried that he popped his elbows on BOTH down-walk arounds.  He just wasn't prepared for such a dramatic change in environment and to ask him to perform in these new and stressful surroundings was just too much.

Our scores were 78 and 71.  Overall we came in 64th out of 73 teams in novice.  Nothing to write home about.  But I feel like the experience was VERY educational.  I know a lot more about Taco now than I did before we went.  And hopefully that will help me create a plan to more adequately prepare him for travel and experiences he's likely to encounter throughout his life. 

On the way home, this happened.
So cute!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recent crafting

Recent crafting included some dog-related fun!  In honor of attending the AKC Rally National Championship, I decided to get fancy with our show set-up.  I made quilted nameplates for both dog crates:
 Stay tuned to see the matching quilt I made to go under the crates!  That's sort of a thing here in the midwest, a quilt or special rug to go under your crating area.
And I finished the February Block of the Month from QuietPlay.  Cute little baby penguin!

Review-Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Bones Dental Chews

Thanks to Chewy.com, we got the chance to try out some Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Bones Dental Chews.  I was really happy to find these because most edible dental chews contain grain ingredients but these are grain free!  They also don't have any fish ingredients so perfect for Dot with all of her food sensitivities!  Taco was the first one to try them out since Dot had just had a dental cleaning and I thought her mouth and gums probably needed a little down-time before getting back into extreme chewing.
Taco tore threw the large-sized chew, first chomping it into two smaller pieces and then going to town on those.  I was a little disappointed it didn't last a little longer but Taco's super jaws extinguished this treat in around 5 minutes.  It lasted linger than a similarly sized biscuit treat so that's a plus.  He seemed to enjoy it, retreating to the back of the room so he could gnaw in peace.

I am not convinced that chews like this actually do much cleaning of the teeth but he liked it enough and it didn't upset his stomach so I'd be willing to give them both one every once in a while.  Can't hurt, but it certainly doesn't replace brushing and annual dental cleanings.

Disclosure: Chewy.com provided me with one package of treats to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs'.  :) 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intro to nosework: Fenzi Academy class vs Leerburg DVD

Having taken the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy's Introduction to Nosework class and watched Leerburg's The Foundation of Nosework DVD, I thought I'd compare these two different training options here on the blog. I find that taking online classes at bronze is a little more immersive than just watching a DVD because you get to read the interactions with other students but at bronze, I was still only an observer.  I think these two options compare fairly well.

Both instructors (Fenzi's Margaret Simek and Leerburg's Andrew Ramsey)  emphasize commitment to odor and pinpointing location of odor.  But I found Margaret's system a LOT easier to implement in my home.  Why?

Ramsey's training starts with a "training lab", basically a lot of chests with drawers, that will be the search area for all training.  Much of the beginning of the DVD focuses on getting dogs used to this environment, getting them comfortable being assertive and sticking their noses in drawers and such.  This is before any odor is added and seemed necessary only because he sets up this sort of artificial searching area.  I don't have this set-up and there were not any other options given.  Margaret uses boxes, not a permanent training lab situation.  This was much more easily moved from place to place, I found it way easier to fit training with boxes into my life than to set up a room or even part of a room with a permanent training set-up.

Ramsey's system requires multiple people to set up the training scenarios.  One holds the dog while the other riles them up and makes the hide.  One handles the dog's line while the other moves in with the reward at source.  I don't have another handler.  I only have me!  Margaret's training program assumes only one handler.

Ramsey also uses toy-motivated dogs in the majority of the DVD.  He does have sections that address food-motivated dogs and how to condition a dog to a food tube ("Classically Conditioning Food Delivery Device" as they put it) but for the most part, instruction is given for a dog that is over-the-moon about a ball on a rope.  The dog I am working is not.  In this regard, Margaret's system works better for me right now.  But if I was working a different dog, this would not have been such an issue.  I could just as easily criticize Margaret's approach for not including options for dogs that were not food motivated.

Minor point but parts of the DVD also seemed like a commercial for the Leerburg Nosework kits.  I got my scents separately and assembled my own kit for way less money.  I like that Fenzi Academy classes don't try to sell me things.

I did a complete review of  the Fenzi Academy Introduction to Nosework Class which you can read for even more info on it.  I am now taking Dot through the Fenzi Academy Introduction to NW Search Elements, which is the next in the series but is taught by Lucy Newton. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Liebster Award

The sweet DZDog Mom chose me as a recipient of the Liebster Award, along with a couple of other really cool dog bloggers.  Thanks, DZDogmom!
liebster-award
By accepting this award we agree to answer 11 questions given to us by the blogger who nominated us, as well as list 11 random facts about us/our blog. We must then nominate 3-11 bloggers that have less than 3000 followers and provide 11 questions for them to answer.

Here are my answers to her questions:

1.   What is your most memorable trip with your dogs?  We used to take lots of road trips when we had Sully.  Now, with two dogs, it's harder to take trips so we have yet to go anywhere with both.  We WILL be going to the AKC Rally National Championship next month and we're taking both dogs (even though only Taco is competing).  My favorite trip with Sully was to Colorado.  We had such a relaxing time, we went to lots of fun places and it is really memorable!
 
2.   If you could take your dogs anywhere in the world where would you go?  I would love to do something outdoors with these two.  I would either choose a beachfront rental so we could easily access a dog-friendly beach every day, have picnics, and relax.  OR I would choose a cabin in the woods, maybe something like this!  We could eat breakfast on the porch, take a hike and cook out!

3.   What is is that attracted you to your dog's particular breed if anything? Brittanys are not a particularly popular breed around here, except for hunting.  We don't have many of them at our dog training club but there was a girl with one in my 4-H dog training class about 8-10 years ago.  I remembered the dog being SO FRIENDLY, easy going, so happy to be where ever it was.  I tucked that away in the back of my brain "Someday, when I am looking for a dog that isn't a Corgi, I will get a Brittany" I said to myself.  And we did!  When we had to put Sully down, I just couldn't get another Corgi.  We looked on petfinder at Corgis but I just couldn't picture a Corgi that wasn't Sully in our family yet.  So Brittany it was!

4.   What is your favorite pet product?  Lately, it's Nature's Miracle.  With the cat hacking up hairballs, Dot having urine accidents every once in a while, and guests dogs throwing up I have bottles and bottles of Nature's Miracle hanging around the house.  Not a glamorous favorite product but useful.

5.   Does your dog sleep with you? On their own bed? Crate? Kennel? Couch?  Both dogs sleep in crates.  This is not because they get into trouble, they are both trustworthy in the house and are left out at various times during the day.  But crating at night gets them acclimated to crating which is handy for traveling, overnight vet stays and if they need to be boarded.  As someone who cares for other people's pets, your pet sitter THANKS you heartily if your dog can sleep quietly in a crate when required!  Nothing worse than getting NO SLEEP because your dog guests is used to sleeping in bed with mommy and daddy and won't stop whining and barking!

6.   What is the purpose of your blog? And has it changed since you first began writing?  I honestly don't know.  At different times, I have used my blog for many things:  keeping track of things like diet and exercise, hosting and participating in mail swaps, meeting new friends, keeping myself accountable for training goals, reporting exciting news, soliciting feedback on problems. 

7.   How would you describe your personality?  I am an friendly, funny, anxious overthinker.  I like interacting with others but it makes me nervous.  Sometimes I just don't talk to people because I am too nervous or worried and I worry that sometimes people think I'm snobby.  I want to help, LOVE to help, I will give my time and talents to just about anyone, any cause, any time!  But sometimes I worry I am not doing enough because I haven't been asked and I can't help if I don't know I'm needed.

8.   What is your favorite doggy game?  This may not count as a game but I really just like a nice, relaxing walk.  It is one of the most stress-free, enjoyable things I can imagine, walking a calm, easy going dog for miles and miles at a nice, quick pace.  I don't like dawdling walks, I like walks that go someplace!

9.   What is your number one talent that sets you apart from the rest of your "pack"?  Ooh, goodness, that' is hard.  I don't think I have a specific thing that I am really good at (like baking or writing) but what I excel at is perseverance.  When I get something in my mind, I WILL do it.  It might drive me crazy (anxiety) while I research how to go about it the right way.  It might take me a while since I might have to learn a new skill to do it.  But I will get it done!

10.  What is your ultimate dream come true?  This is going to sound really cliche but I would love to win the lottery, a really big one, so that instead of working I could volunteer full time.  It's not that I don't enjoy my job, it's not bad as far as jobs go.  But my dream come true would be to have complete control over every hour of my day, to be able to choose what to do and when to do it and not be dependent on trading hours of my life for money.  Do I ever play the lottery?  No, I don't like gambling!  So maybe my dream should actually be for a money tree to sprout up in my backyard!

11.  Does your dog have a favorite treat or toy?  Dot really and truly loves starting at and chasing birds better than any toy or treat.  We use running after birds as a reward when we are at obedience trials, once our run is through she gets to run outside immediately and take off after birds.  Indoors, she will play with a variety of toys, especially when other dogs are involved.  Taco love tennis balls and furry, fluffy tugs.

And 11 random facts about me:

1.  I am a fiend for free stuff.  I would much rather try and make a free piece of furniture work in my space than buy the perfect item.  If the free stuff is craft supplies, I will hoard it, I may need it someday!

2.  I have never set foot on a golf course.

3.  My favorite flavor is chocolate and if given a choice I will always pick chocolate desserts.  But some of the best desserts I've ever had were not chocolate!  I only ate them because I didn't have a choice of chocolate.  So sometimes I wonder, do I actually like chocolate the best!!?  My absolute favorite cake on the planet is Princess Cake, which doesn't include chocolate!

4.   I love to whistle, it reminds me of my dad.

5.  I don't like getting gas or getting my car washed.  They both seem to take WAY too long and are just an annoyance to me.

6.  However, I look forward to things like Dr. visits and having my oil changed because of the unstructured wait time where I can read a book, crochet or peruse Facebook without thinking about other things I should be doing.  I'm stuck there!  (But not dentist appointments, that's just stressful.)

7.   I am very frugal and I don't like to spend money on myself very much.  (Hence the obsession with free stuff!)  But I will spoil my dogs rotten!

8.  When I get off work, the first thing I do is feed the dogs, then look at my to-do list for what I need to do that night.  This list includes household chores, as well as any events like classes that evening AND routine stuff like shower, change shoes, brush your teeth. If these things are not written down, there is a good chance they won't get done.  Is that completely sad?

9.  I am getting back into Yoga after a couple of years off.  My flexibility is no where near what it was previously.  Am I getting old?  Will I ever get back  to where I was?  More things to worry about!

10.   Sometimes I wish my dogs were smaller so I could just pick them up and carry them.

11.  I am a very slow reader.  And I am a librarian.

I have chosen some great blogs to nominate! Check them out if you're looking some new reads.:
Dino-I chose Dino because we haven't heard from him in a while!
CorgiTales-Gotta have a Corgi blog on the list!
DogBird Daily -Another Corgi! And I've been keeping tabs on Peri's progress in Fenzi classes.
Dog Business -I love all the personal stories about dog health issues.
His Muddy Paw Prints-This girl is awesome and she reminds me so much of my 4-Hers!
Identity:V+E-She's got a new puppy! I'm not a puppy person but I love seeing updates of others working with their performance puppies!
Marciel's Dog Blog -Another Fenzi student!
MargeBlog-An agility blog that doesn't use too many big agility words that I don't understand!
Reactive Champion -As someone who knows the trials of reactive dogs, I LOVE following the developments on this blog.
Rollin' with Rubi-Another blog we haven't heard from recently!

My questions for them:

1. Tell us briefly about your very first dog.

2. Is there a dog product that you are fiercly brand-loyal to? (example, you ONLY feed one brand of food or you will ONLY buy one brand of leash even if there are many other available.)

3. Where do you train and what type of flooring do they have? (This question is a little selfish because I WANT new flooring at our facility and I%27m curious about what other places have!)

4. What dog venues do you compete in and why did you choose those?

5. What did you want to be when you grew up?/What do you want to be when you grow up?

6. What is the very first thing you train a dog when you bring them home?

7. If you could not longer have dogs but you could have any other animal in the world, what would it be?  (Price is no object and someone else will clean up after this fictitious pet)

8. What time of day do you generally blog?

9. What is your favorite type of weather? Is it different from your dog’s favorite?

10.What is one thing that you have struggled the most to train your dog?

11. What is your favorite holiday?

Should you accept this award, you'll need to know the rules, which are:

1. Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
2. Copy & Paste the Liebster logo onto your own blog.
3. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
4. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
5. List 11 facts about yourself.
6. Nominate and link to 3 - 11 other blogs you love that have less than 3000 followers.
7. List 11 questions for your Award nominees on your blog.
8. Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on your blog.
9. Post the rules to be followed!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Crafting

I have declared 2015 the year of consistent quilting!  I plan on doing two different Block of the Month blocks each month to keep me steadily working toward quilts this year!  Over my winter break, I got my aqua and red quilt top (from a swap 2009!) quilted!
 This is January's block from Quiet Play's Zoo Animals BOM.
The other BOM has not started yet but it is also paper piecing and is "Wild West" themed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fenzi Academy Introduction to Nosework Class Review

This winter, I took NW101: Introduction to Nosework with Dot at the Bronze Level.  This class was taught by Margaret Simek and introduced the very beginning foundations of Nosework, a fun activity to play with your dogs that involves teaching them certain odors to recognize and alert to.

I like that this class required NO previous experience and assumed NO prior knowledge of scent from the dogs.  The equipment needed is minimal, you will not use all the items on the supply list in this first course but you will need them if you continue on through the series. I purchased my essential oils on amazon separately much cheaper than buying a complete kit.  The other items I was able to find around my house and at dollar stores.

If you would like to see an actual lecture with videos for this class, it is the sample course available to view for free.  You can watch Margaret's lecture on handling odor and creating hides as well as see the first two games in the progression!

I very much appreciated that the method Margaret uses does NOT first have the dog searching for food.  In teaching Utility scent discrimination, I find this cheeze whiz method to be cumbersome.  The removal and fading of food adds an unnecessary step that can be hard for some dogs to overcome.  Using the method in this course you can utilize a clicker or not.  I chose not to as I think it draws the dog toward me when what we want is for them to stay at the odor.

At the end of the course, Dot was successfully passing up distractions (some of the containers have smelly leather gardening gloves, cat toys, socks and treats in them and my movement around her is a distraction that she had to learn to ignore), indicating odor and staying at it.


Margaret explains proper technique for handling odors (how to avoid contamination and possible alerts without reward).  She also explains a bit about how scent travels and how environment can affect the path and movement of scent.  I will admit that this was not a terribly thrilling topic for me, but I appreciate that the course included what I considered to be just enough of the topic to hold my attention and not overwhelm me.

The class progresses through a series of fun games to play with your dog, each adding a different element of challenge for the dog.  I enjoyed the video lectures.  While I don't think I would be able to learn by videos alone, watching the video and then reading the instructions gave me a very good idea of each lecture.

As in other classes I've taken at Bronze, I was able to benefit greatly from the Gold students videos and Margaret's discussions with them.  Any question or problem I had eventually came up for someone else.  There were a few dogs that were working at nearly the same pace and style as Dot, so we followed those dogs closely and took note of the comments made on their performances.

Excellent value at $65 for Bronze Level.  If you had an exceptional dog, 6 weeks could get you nearly ready for your ORT (Odor Recognition Test) in Birch!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tooth Gel Showdown Results

Way back in November I began a Tooth Gel showdown, with each dog using a different brand of tooth care gel.  I will admit that the dogs did not get tooth gel applied every day for 30 days.  We kept up with 5-6 days per week for a month and have since been consistently applying it at least a couple of times each week.  It's time for the after pictures!

Taco was using PetzLive Oral Care Gel with Wild Salmon Oil.  He got used to the taste and didn't mind having it applied but after each application he would rub his snout on the carpet or blankets like the mint was just too powerful for him!
Taco before
Taco after
Dot used TropiClean Clean Teeth Gel.  She didn't mind this as much as Taco minded his gel at first, she pretty much just put up with it.  After it was applied, she would lick her lips and teeth but didn't act like it tasted terrible, just that it was odd.
Dot before
 Dot after
 Dot before
 Dot after
In my opinion, the tooth gel made very little, if any, difference.  There might be a tiny reduction in the amount of inflammation around Dot's teeth but the tartar is still there.  So Dot has an appointment for a dental next month.  And Taco will get one when he needs it next.  After the teeth are clean, I will continue to brush/apply tooth gel in the hopes that it will prevent or at least stall new plaque and tartar from forming but I don't think we'll be able to skip the vet visits for professional cleanings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review-Dogswell Vitality Jerky Bars Chicken & Veggies Dog Treats


This month, Chewy.com kindly provided us with a package of Dogswell Vitality Jerky Bars Chicken & Veggies Dog Treats to test out and review.  I liked that the ingredients list was short and included things that sounded wholesome and would not cause Dot any allergy issues (no grains, no fish).

Ingredients:
Chicken, Tomatoes, Cranberries, Flaxseed, Cane Molasses, Peas, Carrots, Spinach, Apples, Salt, Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Zinc Propionate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate

When I opened the package, my first impression was that they smelled a bit burnt or smoky.   The bars are roughly 1 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches, which is larger then I like to give our dogs so I chopped a few up into 6 sections each using a kitchen knife.  The bars were a little dry in places and had a bit of snap to them, like a dehydrated treat. The texture was inconsistent, some spots were pliable, others were hard.  Maybe this is due to the veggie chunks and the meat cooking differently within the same bar.
I used these treats for a few training sessions with each dog.  They liked them well enough.  They were not as crazy about them as a moist treat such as Happy Howie or a piece of cooked chicken breast but they were more excited about them than kibble.  They were a little crumbly in my pocket, veggie bits and crumbs broke off but this is mostly my fault for breaking them up.  Left as a whole bar, they are not crumbly or messy at all.  But that would be a pretty big jackpot!

After a couple of days, Taco had terrible gas and both dogs were belching more than usual.  For dogs their size, the package suggested feeding 2-5 bars per day and I certainly wasn't going over 4 bars per dog.  I'm not sure if it was the cooking process (which left them slightly burnt) or a specific ingredient the produced the gas.

I wanted to like these treats.  I liked that they didn't have any fillers or artificial ingredients, no glycerin or soybean meal or corn flour or wheat middlings.  But something about them didn't agree with either dog.

Disclosure: Chewy.com provided me with one package of treats to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs'.  :)