Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Looking back

7 has recently become much more an adult dog than a baby. His behaviour and appearance have more of an edge to them these days as he matures. I was shown a picture of him a couple of days ago from when he was three months old and I barely recognized the fat, wrinkly red blob in my arms. It inspired me to make this video documenting 7's physical journey so far in his short life...Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I've written a bit about Cooper and his somewhat rocky relationship with others of his species, but I haven't mentioned the progress he has made in that area and the training that went in to helping him be more accepting.

(Cooper being snarky with our first foster, Daisy)

Cooper is not a terror with other dogs, I would describe him as being more innapropriate and over reactive in his interactions with other dogs. He is social but when he feels threatened he will lash out. He has come leaps and bounds from the days when he would bark fearfully at every dog we encountered on a walk. He used to snap and make a lot of noise when a strange dog showed him too much attention. Today our hikes are non-eventful. He doesn't feel the need to get proactive when he sees another dog and in fact has learned that when another dog starts encroaching on his space he should turn and come to me for reinforcement and to allow me to deal with the dog. This has given him a lot of confidence and I can see how much more secure he is when we come accross strange dogs on our walks.
Also, having a virtual revolving door of dogs coming into the house and living with us for periods of time have helped Cooper to understand more about body language, and how to communicate more effectively without resorting to turning himself into a toothy whirlwind.
Puppies have always been a sore spot for Cooper. I believe he finds them to be quite scary as they regularly push blindly past his comfort zone due to their ignorance of his cues to "back off!" This has caused him to get on the offensive when he is faced with a puppy which is not a pretty sight. So when I made the decision to add a puppy to our household it was with the understanding that I would probably have to keep everyone pretty seperate for the first year to limit Cooper's stress and possible outbursts. Then, I got a surprise! While Cooper made it clear he was not happy interacting closely with the new red bundle of joy, 7 showed himself to be quite adept at reading the signs Cooper was giving off and simply decided it was best to have nothing to do with him. This suited Cooper wonderfully. He didn't feel threatened by 7 because 7 understood that Cooper should be avoided at all costs. Everone coexisted beautifully. Cooper was able to slowly get more and more comfortable with having 7 around and slowly began to interact more with the pup. Then, one day...it happened. Cooper made his first playful advances toward 7. Being the proud dog-mom I am, I quickly grabbed the camera to document this momentous occasion. Now, in these videos you'll see that 7 is not entirely comfortable with the situation. This is because days earlier Cooper lost his patience with him and gave him quite the fright. 7 and Cooper had been underneath a chair when all of a sudden Cooper lost it. He began his routine of snarling, snapping and screaming while body slamming poor 7. This sent 7 into a terrified frenzied sprint into my arms "prey screaming" all the way. He was scared so badly by this interaction that he emptied his anal glands all over himself. Now, this is more of a reflection of 7's colossal wimpyness than Cooper's savageness as upon later inspection it was revealed that 7 didn't have a single mark on him...not even spit which is sometimes left behind when a dog restrains his bite. In other words, during this ordeal, not once did Cooper put his teeth on 7. But, it made the normally cautious 7 even more wary of his big brother so when Cooper started to playfully interact with him as shown in the videos, 7 wasn't entirely sure what to think...

Now, since this day when Cooper let his guard down enough to at least hump his new little brother the two have become fast friends. Today, they participate in lengthy sessions of doggy smackdown and bitey face games without incident and Cooper seems to truly enjoy the company of his young brother.
Here is a video of one of their bed wrestling sessions...


This puts a wide smile on my face as I know it shows that Cooper is much more comfortable and happy. When a new foster or boarder comes to the houes, Cooper is secure enough to coexist and only has real reactions now over resources like treats, or toys. He still puts on a "smile" if he feels the dog is invading his space but he very rarely backs it up with a snap and I can break his attention easily. While, he will never be a "dog park" dog I don't care as that is not why I have dogs. He is a fantastic companion and no other dog out there could ever beat Cooper in a snuggling competition!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

She'll be comin' 'round the mountain

She's coming back! She's coming back!!!!
That's right, my agility idol Susan Garrett has announced that she is coming back to Vancouver in June for a workshop (eeeeeek!) The last time she was here (and the only time) I put Cooper (this was before I retired him from agility) in a working spot for her Novice handling class, and audited her puppy day and Contacts/weaves clinic. Those three days were a total blast for a rediculous dog nerd like me :-) I learned a tonne and had a LOT put in perspective. This was all long before I got 7 so I'm more than a little excited (can you tell?) to learn from her again with a new puppy that loves the work.
Susan is not only my agility idol but she's also one of my favourite dog trainers. You won't hear her mentioning dominance or punishment in any one of her talks unless it is to explain why she doesn't use such archaic methods.
I will also be attending two Kim Collins Outreach weekends before then, which will also help to keep me on course with 7's agility stuff. All in all I'd say this spring is going to be chock full of great learning opportunities.
The best thing about all this is that it's coming at the perfect time for me. 7's 8 1/2 months now so he's going to be just at the right age to start doing full height agility equipment and sequences just before she comes. Also my plan is to start his 2*2 weave training at a year which gives me a month to work on it before she gets here and then I can ask her about anything I had trouble with.
Having a special date like this is also very helpful for a lazy dog trainer such as myself to kick herself in the butt and work her dog more often.

Oh, little puppy...you've got no idea what you're in store for!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fun with friends!

The dogs have had a great weekend hiking with their friends, yesterday the pups got to romp in the snow with Faren's gang and today we went to more local trails with Jody (Nutty Mutt) and Wendy's very high energy herd :-) Jody has Ryan the border collie, Abby (my favourite super-mutt ever!) and Wendy owns Xylo the "you can't keep me down!" Pit Bull mix. 7 and Fenway once again spent the vast majority of the time playing "catch me if you can!" only this time they had Ryan and Abby to contend with, who most definetely could catch them!
This group meshed VERY well together, somewhat surprisingly considering the fact that there are some rather strong personalities involved and enough spastic energy combined to power a jet engine. 7 and Fenway provided the rest of the group with some very fast moving punching bags and the rest of the dogs basically ignored eachother in the pursuit of said punching bags. Excluding Abby of course who, when frustrated by an unfruitful chase will take her frustration out on her much abused brother Ryan, who is regularly seen with little brown blur hanging off his neck during these high-speed pursuits.

7 doing a spot-on imitation of Abby
Fen getting some love from Wendy

And the chase is on!

Jody with her awesome camera and far superior photography skills took some really fantastic photos of this dog bonanza. Hopefully she will post them up on her blog "(no) tails of a nutty mutt" real soon so we can see them *hint hint*

If you're wondering what this hike might have looked and sounded like in live action, take a look at this video...

"look ma, no paws! Cookie now pleez"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

First snow

Well, as it seems like we're probably not gonna get any snow here this year (which is fine with me after last year's blizzards.) Faren (mutts-unleashed) and I headed up to Cypress with the pups to expose them to their first snow. 7 is a summer baby and Fenway's about 5-6 months old so I'm pretty confident he's never seen snow before. Beezer, Faren's dog, is also just 5 months old so it was a puppy party! Jazz and Cooper stayed home due to their both being shaved naked. Who would do such a thing in the middle of winter? *shrug*
Ruby and Murphy came along as well as Faren's older dog Amigo. Boat loads of fun was had by all!

Did I mention Beezer is freakishly adorable? 'Cause he is!

Seven:"Amigo!? Did you know there is cold, wet, deleriously fun white stuff all over the ground!? Why didn't anyone tell me about this!!?"
Amigo: "Throw a pinecone or get lost."

7, Beezer and Fenway spent 90% of their time running full tilt all over the trails taking turns chasing eachother.

It is such a joyful experience watching young pups running their hearts out. It's great to see them having so much fun but the real kicker is the knowledge that when you get home, there will be very tired puppies lying still and sleeping. It doesn't get any better than that!

On another note, what do you do when you come accross a small snow cave? If you answered "stuff puppies into it", you win!

Fenway and Beezer were not as thrilled with the idea as we were...

But, 7 was right on board and cut out the middle man, trying to stuff himself in the snow cave...His plan had a flaw........

And now I sit in my perfeclty quiet home with all the dog's konked out in exhausted sleep (Jazz and Cooper must have exhausted themselves pulling out all the garbage because they're snoring too.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How to...

Steal a bone from a Vizsla... It's much easier than you might think! Fenway the foster took about five minutes to figure it out. The trick is to employ the cunning use of snuggling, "No, not snuggling!" says 7.
stealing through snuggles
Reaping his reward, Fenway contemplates trying his new technique on Cooper who has already put a couple of holes in his face...

"Go on..."

"Make my day!"