Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My first Christmas without you...Your first Christmas in Heaven.

Christmas was a little different this year, that's for sure. There was no Bella in the house, and it was wrong. My heart ached at how wrong it was. But I spent Christmas how Bella would have wanted me to; with my family, enjoying their company, and thanking God that I still have them.

I was awaken by my mother, which is no new surprise, this is what happens every year, and I got up to let the dogs out. They all went out to do their morning business and were brought back inside to be given a Christmas treat. I'm currently dog sitting a German Shepherd named Cappie who's crate stays in my room, beside Bella's. So I went up with Cappie after giving all the other dogs their treats and saw Bella's empty crate. Her food dish still where she left it, the hair still dusting the tray, all with a layer of dust over it. It makes me crazy to see her crate so empty, but I'm not ready for anyone else to have her things. I don't know if I'll ever be. I felt a pang of sadness in my heart, in that big gaping hole where Bella's antics and amazing personality used to thrive, now just memories and thoughts of my Boo and where she is now, at looking at her crate so obviously lacking of her again. But I had my family, and so I went on to do our morning Christmas routine - gathering all together and opening presents.

I wasn't expecting much for Christmas this year, nothing at all, to be honest. But I was pleasently pleased by what my family was able to bring together to celebrate. Once the presents were all opened, my sister said there was one more, and went scurrying to her bed room. She came back with a long flat rectangle and handed it to me. I ripped the paper off, and before I even saw it all there were tears in my eyes. She looked at me and said, "Christmas wouldn't have been the same without a little Bella in it."
In one of the spots on the frame, the words, "Some animals come into our lives to teach us lessons that most humans do not have the capacity to teach.
And, completing that, leave us to learn lessons that they can't teach us from others - having changed our lives forever."
were written, speaking of my Bella.

This gift, so simple to some, holds so much weight in my heart, and I'm very thankful for not only this gift, but for my sister who gave it, and my family who not only let me get Bella in the first place, put up with her problems while she was here, but has also supported me in my grieving of my best friend.

I hope everyone took the time this holiday season to remember loved ones, and not only be sad for losing them, but be happy because you knew them at all.

And for those of us who spent our first Christmas without a loved one here this year, please, take the time to read this beautiful poem.

My First Christmas In Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with the angels this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away, We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with the angels this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold.
Please love and keep each other, as our Maker said to do.
For I can't count the blessings he has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear
Remember, I am spending Christmas with the angels this year.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Big Girl, You Are Beautiful.

Today is a fairly good day. There is snow on the ground, and I know Bella would have loved it. I hope where ever she is, waiting for me, that there's snow for her to play in. She loved snow.

Last night I was sent a link to a video a friend of mine had made for Bella. She'd used the song Yesterdays by Switchfoot that I'd quoted in an earlier post, and the video made me laugh, cry, and clutch Psyche, knowing she misses Boo just as much as I do. I still miss Bella everyday, but I was proud that I could laugh at some of those foolish pictures of her that were in the video. Thank you again, Abby. (To see the video go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suUUN1_QZD8 )

Today I'm watching old videos of her, and they make me smile. I miss my Boo with every fiber of my being, but I feel like I'm finally able (or at least today) to look back and smile about her. Love that I had her at all, love what she gave me, and just love her. I hold my memories more dear to my heart then ever before the longer she's gone.

My favorite video of Bella today:


Oh, my Boo. <3

No real point to this entry, I guess. Just some stuff on my heart I wanted to get out. Thanks to my friends and family who have been so supportive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Months

I can't even fathom the idea that I've been without my Bella for two hole months as of today, but it has. In a way, I can't believe it's been two months already, but at the same time, I feel like it's been ages since I've seen my Boo and I miss her like crazy. I still sometimes feel like this isn't real and I've just sent her to stay with someone else for a long time; a part of me is still waiting for her to come home. Today is one of those days where it just doesn't seem real. How is it possibly real that my baby girl, who taught me so much and means so much to me is actually gone from this world? Just so unreal to me. And I wish it weren't real.

My thoughts lately have not only been of Bella, but also of a few friends of mine who recently lost their loved ones. It saddens me to say that Bella has friends playing with her now, but it only saddens me because I now have friends here on earth, missing them. Duke, a young German Shepherd, taken way too soon from his momma. Koda, an Australian Shepherd who's momma made the decision to end his suffering and see him free. And so many others who I'm sure have been lost within the past two months.

My heart goes out to anyone who said goodbye to a best friend, ever. I know that it's a tough situation. And to the people who have just recently said goodbye, know that it gets easier. Not easier to not think about them, or to not miss them, but easier to look back and love the moments you had and cherish the memories you were given. After two months I have days where I can finally look back at pictures and videos of Bella and instead of sobbing and hating that she's gone, I can look at them and smile because Bella was a goof, and she was perfect, and amazing, and she was my Boo, and I'll miss her forever, but at least I have a reason to miss her - I knew her, and that in itself is amazing.

Think today of your lost loved ones, and don't dwell that they're gone, but be happy that they lived, and that you were lucky enough to not only know them, but to love them.

Boo, I miss you more then anything in the world, know that you're always on my mind, and you're a being who came into my life and did amazing things. For that I'll forever owe you, and I will never forget you, and all that you've done for me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bella's final gift to me

This past weekend I attended an agility trial with my young border collie, Psyche.

Psyche and Bella were very close when Bella was still with me. Bella was instantly best friends with her when I first brought her home, and they've been buddies since. Bella and Psyche played for hours, slept together, snuggled, and were over all an amazing pair. Between those two I never had a second where the thought that I owned amazing dogs wasn't somewhere in my head.

When we (and I say we as in anyone who ever knew how amazing Bella truly was) lost Bella, I was devastated, but so was Psyche. We both missed her, and still miss her. And because of how much the two of us miss Bella, we rely on each other a lot more. She understands when I want to just lay in bed and cry for a little bit, and I understand when she doesn't feel like playing. We get that we're both sad.

The weekend after putting Bella down, Psyche and I both sucked it up and went to the trial we'd entered in. I wasn't expecting to have a great weekend, and for the most part, I spent it in near tears, trying to keep myself in check while people told me how sorry they were for my loss. But when it was our turn to run, Psyche made it all better. She showed me with everything she did that she still loved me, even though we were both sad, and she gave me her all.

It still wasn't a "perfect" weekend to some, but it was great to me. I thought Psyche and I were finally starting to come together as a team.

This past weekend, Halloween weekend, Psyche showed me that, yes, we are coming together as a team, and even better, we're going to be an amazing team.

Psyche and I loaded up and drove 3 hours to our first ever indoor trial. It was new to Psyche and new to me. We were entered in 8 runs total (all that was offered) and it was the most I'd ever entered Psyche in - remember, she only started trialing this spring. Of those 8 runs, Psyche and I had 6 amazing runs, and the other two were good, just not as good as the others she gave me that weekend. We were truly connected, and everyone who had seen us run before knew it, saw it, and commented on it. We had an amazing weekend.

This weekend, Psyche gave me not only her first Q (qualifying run) but also my first ever Q with a dog I'd trained. She ran with me through a Snookers course that I planned out with the help of friends, and not only ran clean and under time for me, but managed to snag a Q and a first place ribbon!

I don't remember when it happened, or even if it was before or after our Q, or who said it, but this weekend someone of the agility community looked at me and was saying how great Psyche was doing, and I gave my usual response "Yes, she's doing so great, and I'm so happy... but it's sad that what seems to have brought this around was losing Bella." and without even skipping a beat this person replied, with a pat on my shoulder, "This was her last gift to you."

Tears come to my eyes writing this now, because I know it's true. Bella, in all of her foolishness and pure beauty made it so that even through our grieving and missing her, Psyche and I would find each other and seek out comfort and come together as an amazing team.

I like to think that when I'm out there, having amazing runs with my Psycher Doo that my Boodleshnitzle is right there along side us, keeping pace and urging us to be the best we can be - together.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I remember you like yesterday.

I wrote this on my iPod (have to love that "note" feature!) on October 14th. Thought it might be something worth posting on the blog, just for you all to get a taste of what I'm feeling.

"I spent the last half hour just playing with Psyche. She was playing with a sock, a piece of paper, a feather, my blanket, and my pillows. She will play with anything, just to play.

It was nice. I think tonight will be the first night I've gone to sleep with some happy in my heart - she's just too cute for me not to be happy about.

She's laying beside me on the bed, me on my belly, propped up, her laying flat on her belly, head down, resting on her paws, just laying beside her momma.

I've been so thankful for her this past month. She has helped me so much in dealing with the loss of Bella. At first my tears, and the way I breath when crying freaked her out, but she's gotten used to them and comes up to just love on me when I'm down. I think she understands why I'm crying - gets why I'm sad... Because I think she is too. I know she missed Bella, at least a first, but I think now, even a month later, Psyche still has moments like I do - oh where's Bella? She's gotta see this! But she's not here to see. And I think that's just as hard on both of us.

Psyche sleeps in one of Bella's old spots - the spot up by my head and pillow where Bella used to lay her head, her big German shepherd body crammed into my lower back. Now a smaller dog lays there. I sometimes wonder if it makes her feel closer to Bella. I know being in my bedroom makes me feel closer to her. Most of my memories of her are in this room, or at least the more fresh ones. I'm scared for the day when even the fresh ones seem old. I'm scared for when I grow old and forget the little stores about my Bella. I'm terrified I'll lose her completely by forgetting. I don't ever want to forget."

It's been really rough for me - I won't even attempt to hide that from you, it wouldn't be possible. But I can say with all of my heart that the only reason I've managed to be as strong as I'm being is because of Psyche. She's keeping me going, reminding me that I need to get up and live my life, I can't just spend my time crying over what can't be changed now. She looks at me with her soulful eyes and I can't say no to her, I can't not be the owner she needs me to be, because I know she needs me to help her deal with the pain of this loss, and her way of dealing is to be with me, and be happy with me. I think in a way she understands better then I ever will how Bella would want me to be living. I know Bella would want me happy, but that doesn't mean it's easy to just do that.

A friend of mine, Abby, who I thank for being there for me, recently mentioned to me a song, and I'm so grateful she did. It's called Yesterdays by Switchfoot and the lyrics so a special something that seems to ease my soul. I thought I'd share those lyrics with you all, simply because it makes me happy to do so.

Flowers cut and brought inside
Black cars in a single line
Your family in suits and ties
And you're free

The ache I feel inside
Is where the life has left your eyes
I'm alone for our last goodbye
But you're free

I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone, oh...
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
And until I'm with you, I'll carry on

Adrift on your ocean floor
I feel weightless, numb, and sore
A part of you in me is torn
And you're free

I woke from a dream last night
I dreamt that you were by my side
Reminding me I still had life
In me

I'll carry on

Every lament is a love song
Yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone
So long my friend, so long

I know the lyrics are kind of morbid and sad, but they don't make me feel that way... The "you're free" bit gives me a great deal of comfort, because I know, Bella is free. From all her demons, from all her problems, from all her downfalls. She's free of all the mental suffering she's endured through out her short life... Bella's soul is free, free to find a spot that makes her happy and comfortable until we meet again. However she comes back to me, if at all, or even if I wait to see her at the bridge some day, I can't wait for that, but I know she wouldn't want the moment for me to cross that bridge with her to come too soon, and so until the time comes, I hope my baby is happy and free somewheres.

You're free, Bella.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I woke from a dream of you last night.

This is my first real post since losing Bella, not counting her memorial post, which was just a copy and paste jobbie.

It's been one month and two days now, and that one month and two days have been the hardest of my life. Everyday there's a second where I border on the edge of a mental break down, no matter where I am - school, the bus, at home alone, out in public with family. I'm just 100%, undoubtedly, uncontrollably sad.

On Sunday night, the night of one month, I had a dream of Bella. I was walking into a building/room, with walls painted light blue, and when I came in, I looked ahead of me, and there was Bella. I remember her coming up to me, doing her happy dance, jumping up but not toughing, spinning in joy, and rubbing against my legs, and then she put her front paws up and stood with me holding her upper body close like we used to, and instead of her being her happy, wiggly self that she usually is at that point, she just calmed and rested there happily in my arms, just soaking in being together.

I told this to my sister, who lost her beloved mare to colic years back, and she told me not to be sad, but to think of it as Bella telling me she's okay, healthy and happy, but that she misses me, and I think she's right. And I hope she's right. I can't stand to think of Bella as just dead. She's not. She's gone, but her spirit is waiting to find it's way back to me some how in this realm, or waiting for my spirit to make it's way to the place hers is, and at this point I need to believe that I will see her again someday, somehow, because that's the only way I can function.

I don't know what to say to you all, or how to keep it happy and joyful when my heart is neither happy nor joyful. I'm full almost to the edge of sorrow and upset over losing my best friend, my heart dog, my Bella. However, there are moments of each day where her memories make me smile and allow the pain to slip away for long enough for me to enjoy my other dogs without the nagging thought of "If this was with Bella, it'd be even better."

I've stopped feeling guilty over being the one to decide it was time for her life to end. There's no point beating myself up about it - she's gone. Now I'm full of sadness and fear because she's gone, and I'm scared so much that someday I will forget her memories she's left behind, and I don't want that to ever happen.

I'm making it, day by day. I've lost animals before, but never in my short life has it ever hurt this much. You know you've had something special when it takes this long to even consider a way to function normally with the pain over the loss.

I'm not sure what will be done with the blog. I don't want it to fade away, I want it to stay, representing Bella in her life. You mostly all heard the good things, and that's what I want the world to see, for now. Someday I'll tell the whole story of Bella, and my life before and after her, but as of right now, I want to keep most of that to myself. I will keep using the blog for memories of Bella, "that time when....", I think. I'd be happy doing that, putting my memories somewhere where I wont forget them. And you may even see some training/general updates of my other girls too, since they're what's keeping me even a little bit happy these days. I don't know what I'd do without them.

I guess that's all for now, folks. Just hang with me for a little bit - it's going to take a while for my posts to go from sad to happy again, but I just need to get it out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

To the best dog who has ever been mine.

READ: I guess I was proved wrong from my earlier post. Things in this household went downhill. Real downhill.
-----

February 11th, 2007 - September 17th, 2010

Today I made the very tough decision to say good-bye to my heart dog until we meet again, and to end a journey she and I had started together. Today ranks in one of the saddest, and hardest days of my life.
I didn't even know how to begin saying good-bye to a dog that has become my life, my love, my best friend, my everything, but I had to. On Tuesday night Bella attacked Zoey, leaving Zoey torn and lame. That was strike three for Bella, and we realized what we thought we had solved by rehoming Gyp hadn't and it was still a problem, and one we didn't know how to fix. After talking to vets we decided it was a mental thing with Bella, and always has been.

I spent the last two days crying, cuddling, and sleeping. I was sick thinking I'd be saying good-bye. This morning I woke up, cuddled her, took her for her last van ride, and then let her go out in the field with Morrie and Psyche to have one last romp. As we were cooling off in her little kiddie pool the vet drove down the drive way (we had him come and do it here on the farm to be easier for her and I) and I prepared to say good-bye. I wasn't ready for him to be there yet, but looking at it now, I don't think I would have ever been ready for it.

As he got out of the car Bella gave me one last reason to brag about what a great dog she was. She greeted him with such grace and happiness that you'd never guess she had issues with people when I first brought her home.

She passed easily enough, with her face buried in my neck, while I cried repeating "you're a good girl, Bella. A good girl."; I just didn't want her to go without her knowing that. I watched as her beautiful soul left the vessel she had loved me in, and I cried. For lost chances, for failure, for Bella and I losing the chance to grow our love even stronger.

My sister snapped this shot today while we were playing, and for that I'm grateful.



I'm holding on, and I'll stay strong, because I know that's what Bella would want, but I don't feel right. My body is missing something, and I know that a part of my being left Bella's body with her soul today.

So cry a tear for us, as we part our ways until we meet again.

We'll meet again, Bella, and when we do, I'll love you just as much or more. Time will never erase the memories you've given me, or the lessons you've taught me. Rest easy, Baby Girl, I miss you like crazy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Woah, I still suck at blogging!

Well, yeah. I'm not going to lie and say I'm good at this, 'cause obviously I'm not.

Anyway, here's the general update. Bella and I quit agility classes, because she got loose one night after the classes were done and she went after another dog. I hesitated there, not knowing what to call what happened. She got her crate open (even though I was certain I had my "back up lock" on it) and she went after a Pyre that happened to be out and training at the time, as soon as she got there, she grabbed for him, and got only a mouth full of hair (even more reason for me to love the breed) - and just then I said "Bella, here!" and she dropped the entire event like it had never happened, came over to me, and calmly walked back to her crate without even thinking about going back towards the dog. It was a strange event, and not as serious as some things I've seen her do with our dogs, but still enough for me to say no to anymore classes with her.

So she and I have been mostly doing nothing. We cuddle, and chill, and just enjoy the lazy life. But still, I feel bad not doing anything with her, and I miss working with her, because she's honestly a love to train, when she's not reacting.

The other day, yesterday, to be exact, I was going to the agility field with Zoey and Psyche for some work, and I said "what the heck, let's bring Bella too." and so Bella came along. We worked on some agility stuff, and she did great. It was only me and my mom there, so only dogs she knew, and she handled it all really well. We worked on some jump stuff, the tire, the chute, tunnels, and her contacts - working on getting a 2o2o. She loved working with me yesterday, and I loved working her.

I think here begins the road of "at home, at the field, at the barn for FUN only training". I don't ever want to trial her - ever. However, I'm thinking I'd like to be able to take her out, set up a course, and run it. And since I'm doing that with the other two for training anyway, why the heck not?

So that's how she goes right now. Bella's doing incredibly well now that Gyp's in a new, happy home (Gypie's a JOGGER NOW! Can you imagine? Fat, tubby, doesn't even like to go for walks with us, Gypie is a JOGGER! So happy for the girl!) and all the dogs are happy to live together in peace.

I love these peaceful days, and I'll cherish them forever, because I never know weather or not the last time we had a huge inner family issue was the last. I live a day to day life with Bella.

School has started, so no promises I'll keep this blog updated.. but here's a picture to make up for that, or at least try.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Perhaps we're getting somewhere?

Last night Bella and I did something that was either going to be very good for us, and make us happy, or it was going to be very hard for us, and make us stressed.

Bella attended a class last night where she was put a field, with her crate there as a place to hide, and 8 other dogs. Only one of which she knew. In this class, the dogs played with their owners (tugging, chasing, running together), they did restrained re-calls, and circle work.

Believe it or not, this was Bella's first agility class.

I started with Bella outside of the ring, where I basically just let her see everything, and clicked and treated her for every little thing she did. Dogs walked past us, people said 'Hi!' and I just clicked and treated every thing. We worked on some "Bella!" where if she's looking one way, she's the turn and come with me in the other direction, some "Leave." which has become her "leave it" command (just dropped the "it" cause it's easier), and we did lots of her favorite things so she'd realize that it was a place for fun, not a place where I'm going to make her sit and stay for a long time, because that bores her.

After I moved her into the field - where I had her crate set up, with a sheet over it, away from any other dogs expect for the one we knew - I took her over towards her crate and just clicked and treated for being closer to the dogs, who were at this point, playing with their owners and practicing commands they knew. She was quiet, had no issues.

They then started playing with toys, where owners where trying to get their dogs hyper and excited. I didn't try this with Bella, because I need to keep her as low on the excitement scale as I can, for now. Bella was fine with the other dogs doing this. She watched them, then looked back at me, completely at ease, looking for her treat (I loooove the "look at that!" game!).

They did restrained re-calls after playing, where all the other dogs were on leash, or in their crates, and the one doing the re-calls was the only one out and "off leash" with the leash dragging. I put Bella into her crate for this one, because a) I didn't want other dogs coming up to her and b) I know that dogs running like they do for re-calls bothers her, so I didn't want to stress her too much. So I clicked and treated her in her crate for watching the dogs. She was great. No issues with that. She started to get worked up, but she has stages of getting worked up now that are very visible to me. She'll look at it and the first sign is that she'll whine, at that point, I can say her name, and she'll look to me for a click and a treat, second sign is barking, not her deep throat reacting full-out bark, but just a playful "I wanna run too!" bark, third sign is full out reacting, barking (not always her low gruff bark) and pushing at the sides of her crate with her body, or lunging if she's out of the crate. I almost always catch her at the first sign now, where she's easy to get her attention back. However, she rarely showed any of these signs last night, except for when the biggest dog in the class was doing a re-call, and even then it was only whining. Bella did her re-call, too, and she was great. They had my Mom hold her, so it didn't stress her out. Next week I'll probably ask the trainers to hold her.

After that they did some circle work, I believe, and that freaked her out a little bit. All of the dogs walking around and closer to her then they had all night, so I put her muzzle on, and faced her away from the dogs walking. Soon she calmed down (by soon, I mean like, a minute) and so I shortened her leash so she couldn't get far from me (probably a 2 foot leash) and took her muzzle off, facing away from the dogs, and clicked and treated for focusing on me. When the last few dogs were heading back towards their crates, I turned her around so she could see them. After that, Bella and I went alone and did some circle work in a spot away from the other dogs.

She was really great. She got impateint with being in her crate, of course, so next week I'll bring her kong for her, I think, and leave that full for her in her crate, because I can't be clicking and treating her all the time, and if I don't, she gets saussy. (She "lectures" me where she'll look at me and whine and whimper at me!) So I think she'll do well with the kong. She has no food aggression issues, so the food shouldn't cause any more of an issue for her.

And what also made me really happy was that a man came up to us, and Bella went right over to him and was cuddling with him. There were times in the last 2 years I've had her that if a person came up to us, she shut down and hid behind me. She greets them all now with a "I loooove you!" attitude, and I love that. She doesn't see people as a bad thing anymore, not like she did when I first got her, she sees them now as friends; so long as they don't bother her mommy.

Over all, very pleased with Bella. I wasn't expecting to get the good behaviour that I did, and I feel like Bella generally enjoyed the class. We will be going back next week (this was a "try one week for $10 and see how you like it" type thing), that's for sure.

Anyway, Bella was great, and it was really what I needed, and what I feel like she and I deserve, so we'll see how next week goes. I'm not expecting her to be that good again, really, but I hope she and I will be able to make use of these 6 weeks, even if she doesn't learn any agility but only learns how to handle herself better.

Way to go, Good Dog!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blown Away!

Wow, wow, wow! I am so incredibly impressed with this dog!

So on Sunday I took Bella to agility again, kept her in her crate, and I varied my rewards more. [She's getting sassy -- if I'm not treating her and she's behaving she will stomp at me and sometimes bark in my direction!] She stayed in her crate most of the day until I took her out while Mom worked her dog Tinky. She was great with Tinky, and usually she has a hard time controlling herself, even if Tinky's just playing, she always wants to chase and tackle her (not in an aggressive manner, but in a rough play way). She behaved great - really focusing on me, and behaving, so other then just clicking and treating her as a reward, after Mom put Tinky away, I let her do a jump or two and the tunnel a few times (she loves tunnels!).

I worked her some with all the other dogs away, and then said "okay, will you bring your dog out?" to the lady training with us. She just walked him around her -- on leash -- for a bit, then I had her jog past, then when I was really comfortable with how she was behaving, I said you do the tunnel on the other side of the barn. Bella loves tunnels, and hates when other dogs do them, so this was a "tougher" thing to ask. I asked Bella for nose touches, spins, downs, 'dead's, sits, etc., while the woman was doing it, and Bella literally didn't flick an ear.

After that I had her jog around some more, and Bella was REALLY focusing on me. She'd look at the other dog every once in a while, but if I said "Leave it." she was very quick to respond to that command.

I am so pleased with her -- Good Dog, Bella!

Monday, March 22, 2010

One More Step Towards Good Dog-dom!

I am so incredibly pleased with my Bella dog right now.

Yesterday at the barn was a terrific day!

I took a crate for her, a blanket, my clicker and lots of treats.. Oh! And a chair so I could sit and reward like crazy for good behaviour. I started with only the back, where I was sitting, un-covered. She could only see me, but she could hear the other dogs. She did well with that, so I un-covered a side again, so she could see me, and also the crates beside her, which the closest one had my other dogs, and the one beside that had 2 stranger dogs. She started to bark at them, but turned back to me instead. Click, treat!

I then took the other side off, so she still couldn't fully see the dogs, but she could hear them, she did well, so I moved my chair to the front of her crate and un-covered all sides.* She barked once, and when she did, I covered her again on all sides. She quickly (like, as soon as she realized she was covered) stopped her little fit, and calmed down, I waited a few more seconds then un-covered her again. From there she went to watching a Sheltie do a full jumpers course, to a Collie doing the same, and then to a Border Collie doing it as well. All with out any fits.

Of course, she was getting a boat load of treats, and I was practically shoving them down her throat, but still, she was behaving, and doing what I wanted (which was paying attention to me (offering eye contact) and not reacting at the other dogs), and so she got major rewards for that!

I was very pleased with my girl. Next week we'll do the same thing (in her crate) except for the fact that I will be adding more time between rewards, and asking for more - longer eye contact, some downs and sits, etc..

After that, depending on how she does next week, I may try opening the door some (with her leash attached to her, and a hold of her leash), and eventually move to just outside of her crate, to someday out of her crate.

Just a general update on how yesterday went. We're looking into agility classes in May, and I'm very excited because it feels like we're finally getting somewheres!

*This was all over the span of about 2 hours, and it's also her 3rd week working on the issue in this manner

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Working more on the motion!

Today I took Bella to the barn again. I'd told the lady that I was going to take a break from working with her dog, and just work on my own thing with our dogs.

So I packed her crate today, and a blanket too. Took lots of treats and prepared to basically spend the whole 2 hours there beside her crate with her. I covered all 4 sides of her crate, except for one corner, where I was sitting - this corner was facing away from any of the other dogs, into a wall. From there I just treated for looking at me, offering eye contact, downing and sitting (in her crate) and behaving. All went well.

When she was doing well like that, I took one side off of the crate so she could see out, asked the same thing, and then eventually a half of the side closest to the dogs working. Any time she barked or whined, the cover went back down.

This worked well, and I felt like I was able to better control how close she was getting to her threshold. We're going to keep doing this, hopefully, until she can sit in her crate with no covers on it at all. After that she'll get to go out while our dogs do agility, and after that, while another dog jogs past, moving it up to the strange dog doing agility.

While I'm building up to the final result, I will work more on keeping her attention on me for longer, and up my requirements. Psyche's taking a break from agility for the next 3 or 4 weeks, so I'll have more time while at the barn to be there with her -- when I wasn't there to treat her for behaving, mom was. She was constantly rewarded for behaving, and I even let her out to do a couple of tunnels - which she loves - while the other dogs were out.

I'm pleased with today's success. No videos, sorry, because she was just in her crate, really.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Third Birthday!

Bella hits 3 years old today!

It seems like she's still a pup, in some ways, and in others, I can't believe she's this old already.

She got some hugs and kisses, and I'm planning a trip to our newly opened PetSmart to pick her up some treaties for her birthday - maybe tomorrow night.

On Sunday she'll be going to the agility barn with me again. She really seems to enjoy going, and I like taking her, so I'm going to keep bringing her!

Before this turns into a sobfest, I'll wrap it up with a

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BELLA!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coming up on 3 years old, and training success!

On February 11th, Bella-baloo will be 3 years old! Time sure has flown since I brought that straggly 10 month old girlie home!

Now for her training success. I took Bella to the agility barn for training Sunday. Not to do agility, but to be around dogs who are moving quickly - because that's her issue now.

So here's a video of Bella's aggression...

Or reactivity or whatever you want to call it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHOEKCJcGxo

I realize that I pull on her collar several times, and shouldn't. I was REALLY uncomfortable with that red leash, and so I was tense because of that and acting stupidly. Note to self for next week.

I hope to get some videos from next weeks session as well, so if I do, I'll be sure to post.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Food Tube!

Today I was working Psyche on her distance work for agility using a tennis ball (the hollow kind) with an X/t cut into it, the inside washed and wiped out, and then treats put into it. Psyche likes toys, but she always looses focus for them, so I've been using the tennis ball with the treats to try to get her more motivated for it as a reward for agility - because as of now, she'll only do agility for a stick. So, after trying this, I thought I'd try Bella with a food tube.

I took Bella out, just worked on some circle work, sit, stay, down stay, etc., and then used the tube as a reward. She LOVES it. Took her a few tries to realize "Oh, I can put it in my mouth? Cool!" and then she was barreling after it and coming back to me with it. Good Dog!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fancy New Diggs!

Tonight Bella got a nice, new, pretty collar. Not for any special reason, other then I'm making collars to sell now, and I figure why not practice making them, and give them to my dogs or sell them cheap?

Anywho it's a martingale collar made like this one (this one is currently the collar around Psyche's neck!) :

And it's made in this fabric:


It's pretty cute.

Bella's doing well since Gyp's gone. No issues in our pack now, and we got an update on Gypie; she's doing great and really fitting in with the family. I'm really glad.

So nothing new is really happening, but I thought I'd let you all know that I've started a business to make money to get my dogs all the care, training, and stuff they need (to rely on my parents less) and I'm offering a sale on martingale collars (like the one above). Let me know in the comments if you're interested.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gyp found a new home....

As sad as I feel for it being Bella's fault she had to be rehomed, life has been easier since Gyp went to her new home.

A family of 4 from a french community about 2 hours away took her. The parents both jog daily, and the girls were very good with her. Patient and loving. They came to meet her, and as soon as they left to think about if they wanted her or not, the family all decided that they'd be a great fit for Gyp. Dad didn't like the idea of getting rid of her, but he knew it was for the best, since there's no way we could have rehomed Bella, she would have had to be put to sleep.

We got an e-mail from the family the night they arrived home with her, they had stopped and bought toys, treats, collars, and leashes for her on the way home, and when they got home, Gyp decided on her favorite spot in the house - in front of the fire.

She seems to be doing well, and I'm glad about that.

As for Bella, she's doing well too. She's not in her crate as much now that Gyp's gone, and she's getting along great with all the other dogs, like we knew she would. She's got some chasing Tinky (mom's Mini Aussie) issues, but she just chases her, never tackles her, and we're working on that in our own method until I have a chance to try the Control Unleashed DVD/Book Set on her.

Happy New Year, everyone!