Flyball Seminar Coming Up!

Woo Hoo I am so excited! I’ve been sleepy today but then I got my confirmation papers (email) for the Touch n Go Flyball Seminar in Last Vegas in.. in only a week!

Three days. Well, Friday will be for Tatum, and Saturday and Sunday will be for Chase. Looks like our team, Thunder Paws here in Utah, will have to bring our own box. And I have crates and food and clothes to bring, too. Man, there is always a ton to bring when bringing the dogs. It was so weird going to the Clicker Exp and only bringing stuff for me. I felt so light and empty.

We still haven’t decided who is driving down with whom.. or if we are taking one van or two cars. Or when we are leaving from Salt Lake City and when we are leaving from Las Vegas to come home. But it will all work out in the end.

I will have to pack this weekend, get all my stuff together. Monday will be busy, and Sunday a little bit with a private lesson and puppy class, but I should have some time. And Saturday will be my self-imposed down day. I’m going to need a zero gravity recliner when I get back, in order to rest! I’m sure it will be an information packed weekend and my brain will be loosing it by Sunday. But it’ll be fun!

Muffit is Better

Well good news, after a couple of days on the new meds Muffit is much better already. His breathing sounds clear, no more snuffling and no more major green nasal discharge! Yay! He is eating well, and starting to play, too. Still a bit low on energy but that will come.

I’ve started him on the clicker and he doesn’t quite understand yet, but he will soon. We’ll start with what he knows, sits and downs, and add the mat work. Tatum really liked starting with the Mat.

So the days go by, we wonder what to feel and do about Lucy, and we just plug along.

Poor Muffit

Well the newest member of our family, Muffit the Muppet, isn’t feeling to well so we took him to the vet today. Poor guy. We got some new meds for him. And the vet wanted to take his blood.

Well, he would have none of that and boy can that boy squirm. He was so afraid, we had to muzzle him because he would snap at us, and yes, I expect he would probably bite while under such distress. When he looked at me with those big brown pleading eyes, absolutely terrified, we decided it was time to sedate him.

I’ve never watched a dog be sedated before.. it’s very odd, he slowly goes to sleep, though the vet said he’s mostly aware of what is going on. It was almost like watching him die.. but he kept breathing. She drew the blood, they drew a lot, so I asked if she had enough for titers and she said yes, so we are going to get titers on him too. I don’t want to vaccinate this boy anymore, he’s probably been totally over vaccinated being moved from home to home, and he recently got DHPP booster at the Utah Humane Society. Ugh. Wish we could have gotten a hold of him before that happened.

Anyway, she drew the blood, and then injected him with the wakeup shot, and he slowly woke up. Now he is sleeping next to me, still snoring, poor guy. I can’t pick him up.. he turns his head like he’ll bite. So I just put my hand on him and encourage him to move, and he does.

We are going to be spending the next months, probably years, regaining his trust. It’s been pretty shattered over the years. He is not aggressive, don’t get me wrong.. but he’s afraid if we handle him in certain ways. And that’s okay, he can be afraid. He’ll get a lot of clicker training to boost his confidence, and when he does flyball with the Thunder Paws here in Utah, I’m sure that will help his confidence, too.

I got a little harness for him as well, it fits him, but it’s too small for Tatum and Chase. Such nice harnesses! Well, maybe I will try to make something, if my husband will help. Maybe there are some Robert Allen fabrics out there that would work for dogs!

Tatum is Officially Clicker Savvy

First off, dogs like to lay their heads on keyboards, and it makes it hard to type!

So anyway I want to teach Tatum flyball the right way. And she’s not very high drive when it’s just me and her… so we are working on the small bits. I want her to have a nice swimmer’s turn.

There is a good article on training the box, which starts with very basic steps, over on Flyballdog Tag. And we need basics. Microshaping, even.

I got out the clicker and treats and I put down a white lid. Tatum knows to touch it with her nose, to run over to it and get treats, but not how to put her feet on it. So first step, get the feet on it. Well, she wasn’t moving her feet at all, so I put the white lid away and started to teach her to just move her feet.

She laid down, which was fine, and to get her to move her feet I put a treat in my hand and moved my hand far too her right. When she turned her body (lying down) to get closer to the treat, I clicked and gave her the treat. I kept moving my hand around to encourage her feet to move during the first training session.

We did this for a few minutes and then stopped.

A few hours later we tried again. I’ve been wondering how clicker savvy she is, as she’s very calm and subtle in her movements sometimes. We did the same thing.. I’d move my hand, she’d move her foot (either one, didn’t matter) and click treat.

Then I stopped moving my hand to see if she was getting it. First couple of times she just stared at my hand for a good minute, I swear. So I moved my hand again. But she was thinking about it. So I laid my hand still again, with treats in it, and she moved her foot! Click Treat! After a couple of those, she started putting her foot on my hand! Yay!

She is officially clicker savvy! I’m excited. She doesn’t offer much behavior to me.. not like Levi does, who throws himself all over the place to see what I want. But she’s a girl, she’s more posed than my goofy boys. And she’s still a bit shy when we work alone together. But to see her think and figure things out is great. I’m excited. I need to just learn to understand how she learns, and how she offers behavior, and how to shape her so we find out what we want.

And then put the behavior on cue, Only on cue, and Always on cue! Then I’ll be happy with my own training!

Oh.. so the next step is to get her to put both feet on the target, then put the target on the flyball box, and then get her up with all four feet. But that’s a while away so far. It’s gonna be great to have a flyball collie!

I just watched the AKC Invitationals… I would love to see Tatum there. Would love too! Sometimes I have too many toys hooked up to the HDTV and I need HDMI splitters too watch all I want. I want an HD DVD or a Blueray DVD… someday!

Drawbacks:
Now I have to also consider the consequences of doing this. At first, I was letting her nibble on my hand to get the treats. But she has such a soft mouth now I don’t want to reward her for being bitey when taking treats so I stopped that.

In addition I need to consider the white target. I use it for other things too, and usually it’s just a target to do a nose touch with and to get treats from. If I teach her to put two paws on it, she has the potential to do that all the time in all training environments.

So maybe I need to use something else.. when we reach that point. Maybe I need to make a special flyball target so I can still use the white lid for obedience targets and agility targets. Hrm… something to think about.

Muffit the Muppet

Muffit! This is Muffit. Okay, his name started out as Wheatie, and then he came to live with us for a while as a foster boy. And for some reason, I just wanted to call him Muffit! Remember Muffit, the mechanical dog from the original Battlestar Galactica? Well, yup, that’s what I like to call him.

But then he went to his new home and they named him Shiloh. We fostered him for CAWS, and they are a great rescue organization. They did follow up calls, made sure all was well. I even saw Shiloh at an agility demo about a year and a half ago.. and he was running around and looked happy and I was glad to see him. It was pure luck.

Well, while I was in Los Angeles at the Clicker Expo, my husband got a call from CAWS. Poor Muffit had been dumped at the Humane Society of Utah. Not only that, the HSU didn’t scan him for a chip for two weeks! So now he is sitting next to me on the couch and he has a nasty cold. His breathing is labored. He’s super skinny, and when he came back to us his poop was complete liquid and crimson with blood. The vet thinks it was stress induced colitis. He’s on antibiotics.

He is not eating too well yet, I’ve tried raw, kibble, canned, cottage cheese.. and he just kinda picks at his food. He’s getting some down, though.

Poor guy. He’s only 26 pounds and needs to gain at least 5 to be healthy. My husband really wants to keep him. It makes us furious, and breaks our hearts, that this poor boy ended up at the shelter. The excuse was the family had to move and couldn’t take him with. The contract says, and the adopters say over and over, you return to him to the rescue! Not dumping him in the shelter! We are furious.

Well, he is safe and happy now. He might just stay here for a while.. or forever… he would make a great flyball dog. 🙂 I wish we could give him something for his cold symptoms.