For the first time ever, I arrived at Camp Buster early (insert in the daylight), which left plenty of time for a photo op at "the sign." The sign is only 5 miles from camp.
Finn's and his new friend Simon, play at the beach on the first day.
Sophie wants in!
Paw print tiles made at Barks N Crafts will adorn the dining hall next to the camper's handprint tiles.
Viva la Buster!
17 years young
These two sweet young goldens are neighbors in New Hampshire.
Lifes a beach.
Saturday afternoon at the beach duirng Retrieve and Deliver class.
Fun with Barks 'N Crafts.
After making her tile, Charlee, a 4 year veteran of camp, took her self to the pond, to wash the paint off her own paws, to the amazement of the rest of us.
Finn, first thing Sunday morning. It didn't take long for all the dogs to scare the Loons away.
Tammy and Kiva early Sunday morning.
Benji, the black lab shown swimming, dove into the water in search of a marrow bone that I had taken away from another dog and thrown off the dock 10 minutes before he even arrived. Benji could air scent the bone, much in the same way that cadaver dogs can smell through water. How cool is that?
For a very long time I have been meaning to take pictures of Charlee hitting the Staples Easy button. I teach a monthly tricks clinic, and I wanted to add the photo to the Gooddogz Training School for Performing Arfs portion of my web site. Hitting the Easy Button is a trick that everyone loves to learn and it is not that difficult to teach, although a butler bell with a button on top is actually easier because the dogs don't have to touch the bell as hard to make a sound.
I love my new digital camera, but the few second delay can get really annoying and it was quite a bit more difficult to capture Charlee and the Easy button than I thought it would be.
I got lots of really cute pictures like this one of the dog
just after she hit the Easy button in a play bow expectedly awaiting her treats and praise.
Mostly I got a lots of blurry total photo misses, that I won't bore you with, but we did get a few decent shots.
Charlee soon got bored, rolled on her back and played dead to let me know she had just about enough. What we ended up with was (what I find hilarious) pictures that I just submitted to stuffonmymutt.com
Rule number one of trick training. Take what your dog gives you and run with it! Some of the world's best dog tricks were the dog's idea. It is much easier to put a trick on cue that your dog enjoys and offers to you, then to teach something totally foreign.
Now if I can just teach Finney to hit the Easy Button resting on Charlee's belly, we would really have something.
Easy button on my dog.
That was easy!
Recently I posted about how dogs have a big thing about space. Space is an important resource to a dog. "Top dogs", older dogs and dogs who understand doggie etiquette well, don't as a general rule appreciate their space being invaded. That pretty much sums up what Charlee is all about.
When Sadie the wonderful puppy was here, Muttlover asked to see pictures of Sadie with my two other dogs. I snapped a lot of photos, and mostly captured big blurs. I got plenty pictures of Finn and my kids and the puppy, but Charlee was not very interested in hanging around with her. Don't get me wrong, Charlee tolerated the puppy, but like an irritable aunt who gives the diapering chore to a younger cousin, it really wasn't her thing.
I don't think Charlee's idea of the pup is more clear than in these two photographs. Can you see the force field?
In the photos you can clearly see Charlee using her "energy" to keep the puppy away. In the first photo Sadie seems to be saying "Hey wanna play"? But in the second, taken only seconds later, she seems to be saying "yes maam, I meant you no disrespect maam."
Puppies can learn a lot from what is often referred to as a "seasoned bitch". A seasoned bitch is a dog who is good with pups, won't hurt them, yet teaches them all the rules. Guess we got that one covered.
Quite a few readers asked me to write about how we humans can use our own need for personal space in training dogs and asked for help especially in dealing with unruly dogs. That was a great question and one that I will write an in depth article about just as soon as I work on my summer a little bit first.
Here it looks like Finney is about to eat the puppy, but he is clearly smiling and enjoying their play time. She is letting him know that he getting too rough and Sadie used her body language to chill him out a bit.
I don't usually post forwarded email poems, but I really liked this one. Thanks Donna!
On Christmas Morning
For every dog
searching trash cans for breakfast,
a filled bowl with his name printed in bright letters.
For every dog
who slept fitfully last night,
chained in a frozen yard,
a soft, warm bed
with a person snoring gently nearby.
For every shelter dog,
spending Christmas morning in an ugly, soiled run,
a forever home,
filled with sounds and smells of a loving family.
For every "Christmas" puppy
a tolerant, caring owner
who won't abandon you
as you grow into an adult dog.
For every ailing pet,
enough money for your owner
to pay the bills to make you well.
For every lost dog,
a clear, safe road,
and well marked path,
to lead you home.
For every old and tired friend,
a warm fire, and a soft bed,
to ease your aches and pains.
For every Heart Dog at Rainbow Bridge,
a moment when you know that you
are remembered today,
and loved forever.
Today I am an ace sleuth detective. I slip into the furniture store wearing inconspicuous clothing and dark sunglasses, determined not to make another furniture mistake. Purchased less than a year ago, our current couch has turned out to be a “dreaded dog hair magnet.” So under the cover of anonymity, I wander purposely around the store, searching for suitable fabric that will camouflage and repel fur.
Having dogs, and therefore having dog hair, you learn things about material. Parachute nylon-good; codura nylon-bad, very bad. It’s embarrassing watching the kids go off to school after their backpacks and pants appear to have spent the night down wind to a furball tumbleweed. Denim is usually good, but I do not want to live in a denim house. As a grown-up, I long for a real couch, instead of the usual fur and jelly cushions.
At the end of the aisle, I spot Ultra Suede. Very interesting. As I stand there pondering, I’m startled by a voice: “Can I help you?” Then before I can answer, I’m receiving the spiel about the wonders of this new miracle fabric: stain resistant, easy to clean, and guaranteed. “Sounds wonderful,” I say and then excuse myself to the ladies room, only to double back a few minutes later when the coast is clear. Carefully I open my zip locked bag of dog hairs and scatter a few on the sides of the arm. To my astonishment, it looks as though the couch is playing catch with the fur. My mouth is gaping as I witness a perfect couch landing. The hair went south and due west to connect with the ultra suede. Another dreaded pet hair magnet! Could there be above average static electricity today, for some reason? No, this cannot be. I have come prepared and reach into my bag to retrieve a dryer sheet. Palming the “Bounce” like a magician, I stretch my arms and covertly wipe the couch arm, and then drop a few hairs once again. Inconclusive. Back into the bag one more time for the lint brush and tape. The ultra suede passed the removal test unlike some fabrics that just seem to inhale the hair.
Moving on, I methodically test couch after couch. Some seem to be feeding on fur. Note to self; write a B-movie about couches that need dog hair to survive.
I do not even bother with the silk and chintz type materials. Never mind dog hair, they would never pass the kid test. We are a tough family-the kind of family that stain-resistant fabric was invented for.
Moving on, I arrive at the home entertainment couch. It has rocking seats, moving foot stools and hidden compartments. Storage bins could hold a weeks worth of food. The next Noreaster, we would only need to leave the couch for bathroom breaks. I start to feel sea sick, so continue on. Here is an interesting one. They call this brushed fabric. The fabric looks tough, but it’s also very similar to what we have now, and I know that doesn’t work for us.
And then I spot the leather. For a few moments I allow myself to dream of life with this beautiful couch, love seat and ottoman, but then the reality of canine toenails, Koolaid, and the ache in my foot where I was impaled by the ears of the Lego giraffe this morning sets in. We would destroy this couch in no time flat.
My high expectations are gone. I ask for several swatches and head for the car. At home I will double stick tape the swatches directly to the dog’s bed for further observation. Deep in my heart I know we will be a slip cover family for a few more years.
William Wegman fabric. It was not yet invented when The Couch was written.
One would think that I would have freaked out when my new puppy Finnegan growled at my soon to be kindergartner. Well I didn't, and I say good for Finney, who prior to the "event" was very nearly asleep, and the only reason he growled was because he was inadvertently hurt by my precious darling daughter dishing out too much love in all the wrong places.
So what DID I do? I called my kid "off" that's what. I didn't make a big deal about it, and let Finn go back to sleep. I did make a promise to myself that starting first thing in the morning I will get started on what is sometimes called "pawsitive touch". That is where you hand
feed the dog extra special goodies while gently touching them all over and gradually working up to the force and unpredictability of a toddler. It is homework that all my group classes receive on the very first night of class and something that I have been remiss in starting in my own home.
Shame on me.
Please note! If you have reason to believe that your dog is aggressive-call a positive reinforcement trainer right away and do not try this at home!
I will also include my soon to be kindergartner in fun and yummy activities with the puppy to help him to make great associations with her.
She will help with plenty of kid proofing, and I will of course as always, supervise supervise, supervise!
Living with kids is tough on a dog, even dogs with sweet and wonderful temperaments like my new Collie Finn. What we need to do with all our dogs is to help them to make wonderful associations with kids, and for most dogs that revolves around lots of yummy food, playtime, and all around good times. Here is the cardinal rule of kid proofing.
Dogs who are good with kids LIKE KIDS!!!
Last week I had a phone call about a 3 year old protection breed who was threatening the 5 year old in the home, and the owners were very concerned. Now I do not give aggression advice over the phone, but I will play doggie detective and I ascertained that they had trained the dog using out dated dominance methods (just like the one you see on "that show on Tv").
Now, I am not going to name the breed, because in this case the breed of dog really doesn't matter. What does come into play here is that these owners have a big and powerful protection breed and they have been led to believe that they need to dominate and force him into compliance and "show him who is the boss". This is just not so and what you may do instead is create dangerous dogs who seem to bite from virtually out of now where and for no reason.
What does matter is that for the last 3 years these owners thought they were doing right by their family, when in fact they have inadvertently created a dog who has made very bad associations with the child and maybe even fears it. At the very least, there is no love there.
Think of it from the dogs perspective.
Kid enters room. Let's assume the dog was getting a belly rub. Kid goes towards dog and stumbles and falls on dog. Dog growls, and next thing you know the dog is pinned to the floor by well meaning parents. This is TERRIFIFING for a dog and it is not something that dogs do to each other unless they mean to kill. All this dominance bull is based on flawed studies of wolf packs. Would you go to the zoo to watch chimps to learn how to discipline child?
Next time kid comes in to the room, dog is weary and on edge. Owners notice this and give it another dose of '"whose the boss". From that moment on things may never have been the same for the dog, who has no reason to like, or trust or want to be around this child. To the dog, this child brings scary times along with dose of sharp pain.
But why the sudden change in the dog's behavior? There could of course be a medical cause, and I advised the owners, as I always do, to visit the Vet and let the Vet know about the increasing aggressive displays and rule out any possible medical condition. But it is more than likely that they are now seeing the mature dog. It is not uncommon for dogs to go through many changes on their way from youngster to maturity, and to get increasing more aggressive over time, especially if not treated properly.
As an aside the owners have an electric fence and the dog is outside by himself or with the kids with no adult supervision. This is a serious red flag and one that I alerted them to, and they told me they will not change this. Dogs exhibiting aggression have no place outside by themselves,on an electric fence. Period. I don't much like them anyway, but in this situation no electic fence, no way, and this is a no brainer!
No surprise that they didn't want to hear this either.
What is the prognosis for this dog?
The prognosis for this dog and the five year old boy is not very good I am afraid because they decided against positive training and instead found a trainer who will keep on using harsh forceful methods (as seen on TV). They want no part of positive reinforcement. A lesson we learn in pet rescue early is that you can't save them all and at this point, I doubt I would go to the house even if I was begged, because I know in my heart and soul, that this family will revert to what they have done in the past, and I don't want my name on that type of situation.
Trainers are only as good as the people carrying out what we teach them.
As for my sweet puppy, let's just call this a case of practicing what I teach. I WANT a dog who loves kids and who will let kids know that they have hurt him or that he is uncomfortable. Finney reacted normally and he certainly was not punished for doing so.
Let us not forget that all dogs have the potential to bite and it is our job to teach them how to peacefully coexist with us.
Gotta beat the heat where ever, whenever, and how ever you can! When 4 year old asked if she could take a dip this morning, sans bathing suit, when I dropped the 9 year old off at camp I said sure why not!
Location and more pics from today will soon be revealed in the next "Where's Charlee".
Since yesterday's blog was (once again) about dog poop, it only stands to reason that today's blog will touch on dog poop's gastrointestinal cousin, dog vomit.
Lets jump right in, shall we.
Are you (like me) happy when your dogs '"clean up" their own vomit before you get a chance to?
Come on, admit it, you are happy when your dog cleans up their own puke (and the kids and cats to).
Puke eating makes me so happy that it has prompted me to invent two new sniglets to describe the event. A sniglet is a word that should be in the dictionary but isn't. Sniglets were made popular in the 80's by Rich Hall on HBO.
Just last week I was driving on 95 and I heard the tell tale gacking noises coming from the back of my minivan, but I could not pull over for several miles. When I finally did, I was overjoyed to find that I couldn't find a trace of vomit, because Charlee had done such a good job of taking care of it herself.
Here are two new sniglets that I have been toying with that describe just such an event event:
Yupchuck (works on two levels because my dog's name is Charlee)
used in a sentence:
When I was driving to work Charlee Yupchucked so well I couldn't even find it.
used in a sentence
After the holiday feast there was a lot of regurgelation , because grandpa fed the dogs all his leftovers.
Do you have a better one to describe a dog eating their own vomit?
Do you know any other good dog sniglets?
Please post them here.
Here are a few more dog sniglets to help get you started.
Pupkus-the moist residue left on your window after your dog presses their nose to it.
used in a sentence:
I need to get out the glass cleaner and clean the pupkus off the car windows.
Teenis-tiny penis (my youngest made that one up when she was only 3)
used in a sentence:
That puppy has a teenis.
Muddzle-a muddy muzzle, usually formed when dogs try to play ball or stick while wearing a basket muzzle.
used in a sentence:
Keep the balls away from Rollo or he will be wearing a muddzle.
and my new and hard to beat favorite...
Tinselrectomy-what your dog needs after they have eaten tinsel off the Christmas tree.
used in a sentence:
Never try to give your dog a tinselrectomy. Call the vet!
Many well-known trainers and behaviorists have come forward to issue warnings about dog parks. Even off-lead puppy classes have come under fire. Why? Because people often don’t know how to recognize or respond to problems when they arise and can inadvertently do more harm than good.
Many owners treat their dogs like children. But would you let a two-year-old play unsupervised with significantly older children while you had coffee with the other children’s parents? Would you allow a toddler to wrestle, bite and annoy a senior citizen? Would you allow the neighborhood bully to repeatedly pin your child down without intervening?
Owners have an obligation to their dogs. They need to better understand their dog and know how to interpret their dog’s body language. Dog parks can be wonderful places for canines and humans but they hold the potential for conflict and consequences.
Watch out for the bully dog! It’s a fact of life—some dogs will attempt to bully or intimidate other dogs; some occasionally, some constantly. Some dogs don’t do well in multiple dog situations and may become aggressive. Some breeds are more likely to inflict harm. On one of my recent trips to a dog park a young female chased younger dogs down like prey animals. She bit their necks, rammed them and pinned them down. Many secondary fights broke out as the dogs collided with their owners in their attempts to escape her. Clearly this is the time to make your exit! Allowing your dog to be traumatized by the bully dog could make your dog fearful of other dogs and hamper future training.
Dog parks are not for every dog. Don’t take it personally. Just as some people don’t like crowds, some dogs are uncomfortable in groups. Keep in mind that your dog’s tolerance for time spent at dog parks may diminish with age, much in the same way your tolerance for crowds has diminished with age. In the case of Pitbulls, dog parks are not recommended past early adolescence due to the likelihood of dog/dog aggression.
Beware the ‘Resource Guarder’! Not all dogs are willing to share their playtoys or treats! Owners need to use extreme caution when playing with toys and handing out treats in a dog park setting.
Beware the Fence! An agitated dog on the outside of the fence can aggravate dogs inside the fence’s boundaries. Allowing the dogs to meet through the fence is not recommended and could lead to barrier frustration/aggression. Don’t allow your dog to run up and down the length of barrier on either side especially if other dogs are getting agitated.
Don’t allow dogs to congregate at the gate or exit. Allow newcomers to acclimate and have an escape route. Dogs need to be able to flee. If your dog has learned some obedience, by all means practice before you let them loose. Let the park be your good dog’s reward!
Protect your dog and be on the look out for trouble around you. Often times people do not read their dog correctly. If your dog comes bounding back to you and there are other dogs in hot pursuit, chances are he is looking for a little back up. Always be prepared to step in and protect a frightened dog.
Don’t take females in season to the park! Enough said.
Beware of intact male dogs. An intact male is often (but not always) a predicator that his owner is not responsible. Beware of more than one unaltered male dog in the park at a time; problems can quickly escalate.
Be aware that different dogs have different play styles. Help your dog choose friends that he is comfortable with. Some dogs like a paws off approach to play, while others live for wrestle mania. As dogs mature their behavior and tolerance levels change. Just because your dog played well with a dog as a puppy, does not mean they will be lifelong friends.
Do not take a sick dog to a public place. Just common sense!
Children should remain within an arms reach of adults at all time. Use extreme caution when bringing children to a dog park. Many dogs at the park have not been exposed to kids and even the best behaved child is unpredictable.
Use extreme caution when taking small dogs because ‘predatory drift’ can occur. Predatory Drift is when a dog’s prey drive kicks in an instant. It is often triggered by high pitched squeals, or small dogs running. It can be fatal to the dog who is attacked. In a dog park setting, other dogs may join in.
Do not assume that everyone else knows what they are doing! Dog ownership, like everything else, has its share of clueless people. I always hear lots of really bad training advice passed on at dog parks. Dog parks are a great place to practice selective hearing, (just like most of the dogs).
If your dog is getting to wild try ‘Time Outs’ and help him regroup. Try Leashing your dog and escorting him away from the group. If you have learned calming commands like “Settle,” this would be the time to use them. Once your dog relaxes, reward him with more playtime. If he remains agitated, call it a day.
Properly socializing a dog does not mean allowing your dog to run wild, as some individuals mistakenly believe. Socialization takes place when our dogs interact with other dogs in a safe, supervised environment. It occurs when our dogs have positive experiences with other dogs. And socialization takes place in a group training class where they learn to work and pay attention under your guidance. With proper socialization our dogs develop self control and bite inhibition. It is important for dog owners to learn how to read dogs’ body language on the road to helping their own dog become confident. Dog owners should exercise their dogs like they drive their cars—using common sense and acting defensively.
Portions of this article previously printed in the Casco Bay Weekly. Used with permission
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This is a story with a happy ending, and who doesn't love a story with a happy ending? It is the story of Heidi, a deaf Cattle dog mix who was lost 3,0000 miles away from the people she loved.
It is also the story of how one dog touched thousands of people over the Internet. What began as a simple plea on Craig's list and the Deaf Dog Yahoo site, became an orchestrated exchange of information, passed on at lightning speeds. Dog people are notoriously wonderful at forwarding information,and within hours of the dog being lost, pleas for Heidi's return were popping up in email boxes everywhere.
This is the story of how powerful a tool the Internet can be when people use it to reach out and try to help each other.
I am proud to say that I am part of her story, all because I blogged it on Maine Today.com. By detailing her plight, A Dog's Life became the place for people to check for updates and to find out what they could do to help find Heidi. Many people of Portland printed and posted flyers, sent email alerts, made great suggestions to the family, notified nearby work places, left Heidi food, and physically went out and looked for her, while people in California and around the Internet hung their hopes on every word. Dogs lists everywhere pointed people to my blog where many were checking in several times a day awaiting any news of sightings and to learn more about how they could help. It was a place of support and hope.
Basically the story goes like this:
July 7th, Heidi was shipped to Maine in anticipation of her families move from the bay area, to the East coast.
Unfortunately she panicked when she was being picked up, and she slipped her collar and bolted. She was struck by a car, and according to the driver, rolled three times and then got up and fled. Many people tried to find her (including me!) , and she was spotted only a couple of times in nearly two weeks. Her owner Paul, who by all accounts has a tremendous bond with the dog came east to find her, but was unsuccessful and had to return to the bay area and finish up his personal business on the west coast before moving. During this week, Heidi sightings were few.
Back in California, Heidi's family was distraught not only for loosing the dog they loved, but because they felt that the dog must have felt they had abandoned her. For the people who loved her, this was nearly too much to bear. Her owners told me that her deafness had never really been an issue until this happened. It wasn't an issue when they adopted her, or when they trained her. Her deafness was just the way things were. But for the first time in the four years they had her, they wished more than anything that she could hear, so she could hear their calls.
There were no reported sightings of the dog from Wednesday the 13th, until Sunday the 17th. On Sunday the 17th Paul returned to Portland and on that day she was spotted back at the Portland Jetport. I remember when I got that update from Linden in California, I got goose bumps and thought to myself, how can this be? Heidi returning to the Airport, to me was the most incredible part of the story. The dog had been hiding in the woods for nearly two weeks and came back to the airport on the day that Paul flew back. That night Paul camped in the woods at a location where Heidi had been sighted in hopes that Heidi would find him, but the family was gravely discouraged when she was not seen.
But for the first time in nearly two weeks, I was hopeful.
When we take children places we tell them "if we get separated stay where you are and I will come and find you", but how can we communicate this to our dogs? It makes you think that this dog, this special dog had a connection that is inexplicable. She just knew.
Monday night the 18th, Paul was back camping at the Jetport, the last place Heidi had been spotted. Early Tuesday she came to him, after being gone nearly two weeks.
Heidi smelled rancid, she was covered in ticks and she had lost 3 pounds, but other than that, she was in great shape.
Many people have written to me wanting to know more about how Paul and Heidi are doing now, and I will tell you all after this weekend when I meet them in person. Can't wait.
A Dog's Life Heidi blogs
Lost Dog Alert
Update for Heidi the Lost Dog
Desperatley Seeking Heidi
Heidi has been found!
Be sure to click the picture link in the comment section of Paul and Heidi. Great shot!
The morning article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle regarding pets and hazardous lawn chemicals reminded me of a phone conversation I had this spring. Upon hearing of this phone call, all my friends exclaimed, "You've got to blog it! Poor guy, did he get the wrong house!"
Them "Good morning Mrs Smith, I am calling from the 'Name intentionally left out chemical company' and I have a special offer for your household today."
Me "Sorry but we don't put toxins on our lawn."
Them "If I could just have a minute of your time, I would like to tell you about some of our chemicals that are less toxic and mostly organic."
Me (I pause, not really sure I heard what I just heard)
Them "Mrs Smith..."
Me "Less toxic and MOSTLY organic? Isn't that like being a little pregnant!!! Sorry but we are not interested. What is it about Americans that they need to have uniformed little green pieces of grass that all match. It's unnatural. Maybe I like weeds! Weeds are good for the eco system, and water from my yard empties into Capisic pond, and then out to sea. I love my 3 kids and my dog and I will not risk their health for an unnatural lawn that is not found anywhere in nature. What is wrong with you people? Aren't you concerned about your own health spraying toxins all day? Have you seen the studies about bladder cancers in Scottish Terriers from the University of Perdue?
Hello? You still there?"
This blog is dedicated to Shelby, a Lab/Aussie mix who died from cancer.
I noticed today that I'm starting to feel better. It happened about the time that my dog brought me a tennis ball for a quick game of catch. She didn't put it on the floor or fling it at me as usual, but instead brought it to the couch and interrupted my movie by placing it gently beside me with an expectant look.
Not that I was surprised.
Dogs most definitely have a sixth sense and Charlee's has been working overtime during my recuperation from stomach surgery. She gets up when I get up and follows me ever so carefully to wherever I need to go, settling down nearby. Currently she is sleeping under my desk.
My doctors orders are to not lift more than fifteen pounds. But I couldn't stand the pleading look in Charlee's eyes as I was refilling the bird feeder so it was with some trepidation that I put a halter on her and took her outside for a quick walk around the yard. I have written several times about how my dog can be reactive and will often act without thinking. But even when the neighbor's Beagles rushed their invisible fence baying loudly, she stayed by my side.
Not that I was surprised.
There is that unspoken something that can pass between man and beast. It didn't just "happen" between Charlee and I though - we earned it over time. It was during this illness that my dog crossed the invisible line from "Just Dog" to "Heart Dog." Heart dogs do not come along every day as any dog person will tell you. I have been fortunate to have had two - Dina was my first. I never thought I would have another one. Most people are lucky to have just one in their entire lifetime. A heart dog makes you think you could never own another dog because your heart will break when you loose them. A heart dog has an inexplicable connection to you - and you alone.
Charlee joined our family at a very difficult time as my Dina was dying from a brain tumor. There were times when I resented Charlee for being so alive, difficult and downright awful when my perfect (heart) dog had left me. I remember when I first started bringing her to agility lessons. My friend made the most appropriate comment saying, "Working through things with the tougher dogs can be the sweetest. Besides, anyone can train an easy dog. How boring!" I rolled my eyes just as Charlee lunged at the nearest dog and I thought again "What have I done? What was I thinking?"
Charlee has been a great learning experience for me. Not only did she do all the things that my students' dogs do - like jump up on the counter to steal food, pull, run away, and nip (Hard!) - but she also had psychological issues and would lunge at other dogs or get so high I couldn't calm her down. I even discussed the idea of trialing her on drugs with the vet. At times she reminded me of a thoroughbred race horse, snorting and prancing about with uncontrollable excitement. My Dad tells anyone who will listen how she didn't like to be petted or touched for the longest time. But he's equally quick to brag, "But just look at her now!" No one in my family let her into their hearts for the longest time and we would look at her and wonder to ourselves why she was with us when Dina's life had been cut short so early. We were all thinking it.
When I consulted two good trainer friends of mine for help with several behavior issues they both said the same thing. "Just because you can help the dog doesn't mean you should. Maybe you should send her back to rescue?". Of course I said, "No way." Maybe Charlee wasn't the level-headed demo dog that Dina had been, but I learned TONS from her about what it is like to live with a reactive dog (and a smart one at that). She has taught me many lessons that have proven invaluable to me as a trainer and in helping other people with their fearful and reactive dogs. Reading about it, watching a training video, attending seminars for reactive dogs just isn't the same as living day-to-day with the uncertainty of a reactive dog.
When I was at Maine Med last week I had the honor of a therapy dog visit and that was a wonderful experience. But my real therapist is sleeping right now under my desk. So if Dr. Charlee says I am well enough to throw a tennis ball around for a little while today, it must be true! She knows me so well...
Dina and Charlee
Be sure to check out all the pages including Agility Barbie's favorite dog vanity plates.
I woke up this morning thinking about my dog's behavior yesterday at the Quarry Run Dog Park in Portland. I was surprised and impressed by it and wanted to share the experience.
As we all know, there is a lot of snow! Snow to some dogs, means "Hey, now I can just step over this fence in my way!" That is just what my dog’s friend, Iris, a Border Collie-mix did.
Yesterday morning we were walking abound the park with a small group of dogs when Iris decided to wander away. Her owner was concerned and went to retrieve her. The snow accumulation is high in this area and Iris had managed to step over the fence and was heading up the hill towards the rock quarry (which is very deep). Though melting, the snow made going a little treacherous for Iris' owner. We could see her, an older woman, having difficulty making it up the tall hill after her. I said "I'll send Charlee".
So Charlee and I go down the hill we are on, and easily step over the fence to the road. I send her up to get the dog just as the owner disappears from sight over the ridge. My dog hesitates and I'm unsure if she'll follow, but suddenly she runs full tilt up and over the ridge. By now we have a crowd of about 15 owners all calling for Iris to "Come back". For a minute or so both dogs are out of sight and I don't say a word. Visions of both dogs frolicking to their death running head first down the rock quarry do come to mind when suddenly someone yells "Here they come!" and I see Charlee and Iris heading down the hill quite a way from where I last saw either one. I yell to the owner that Charlee has her, and Charlee flies down the hill to me, while Iris stops to sniff a bit more along the way. Once I started rewarding Charlee's rescue success with treats, Iris was right there for me to leash. The little stinker made someone carry her back over the fence too. This dog has taken "jaunts" before and has been known to be gone for hours.
Go Lassie (Charlee) go! I was delighted to see that Charlee knew what her job was and she went to do it! She is a mixture of two high-energy herding breeds, Border Collie and Australian Cattle Dog and this experience has made me realize that I really want to test her skills on herding sheep this summer!