Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tug = life.

Or at least that's what Simi seems to think today. I had just a random rope toy we leave laying around today and was tugging with Simi and I grabbed it from her, and held it where she couldn't reach. Of course, her first thought was to jump on me and try and bite me... so she did. But then after that she sat back, looked at me, barked at me... looked at me... then offered a down. Good puppy! So we played like that a little more until I went and got her real tug, to which she responded with a "ohemgee yay dead thing!" which roughly translates from Simineese to English as many excited jumps and biting. So we did the same thing some more with that tug, and by the end of it there was no hesitation from her sit to her down, just stop tugging, look at me, sit-down. No waiting between which there has been in every other session before.

I was having a hard time using treats and getting her to offer a down quickly. Whodathunk all I needed to do was whip out the tug toy?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lots of Jibber Jabber.

So nothing new worth posting has really happened, but I have cute pictures to post so I might as well throw some words in there, I guess.

Zoey's been really clingly lately, but oh so adorable. She and Rhyme and Tinky got into a little fight the other night and she got a good wound on her belly, so I think that might have a lot to do with the clingy thing. Rhyme was pretty good about the fight though and let go of her right away, which she doesn't always do. Sadly, with 7 dogs, arguments between our 5 bitches happen sometimes.

Crash is as adorable as ever. I've decided I want to start working on his agility stuff this winter. I'm really kicking myself for not doing it last summer but I don't think he was quite ready for it, mentally, then. I think he is now. That said, if I'd have started him last summer he'd be ready for trials this up coming summer and he'd be doing some serious training at the barn with me this winter. I guess part of me doesn't want to do agility with him, because I'm already way to attached to him, and Dad wants to keep him when I leave, so I don't know... I might be able to talk Dad into letting me take him. We'll face that when we get to it.

Psyche is still the most amazing dog I've ever met. She's so perfect. Even with all of her "issues". Speaking of! We've found a trainer who's going to work with us on those problems and we start on the 20th of January. Starting 2012 right. (I can't remember if I've already mentioned this here or not?) But I'm really excited for the lessons. We'll be traveling 2 hours each way to get there... but I don't even care. We're probably only going to do one or two a month, but the trainer thinks that'll be enough and that we'll make some improvements. Mom is going to be going with Tinky, too, so that's good. I really hope this helps mom and Tinky, as well as Psyche and I, because mom really needs the encouragement with Tinky.

Simi is awesome. She's so much fun to be around and she's starting to look less like a little tiny mutant thing and more like an awkward young dog. It's great! Her ears are finally starting to return to vertical, rather than flopped over, and thank god for that. No one's gonna take my little schutzhund dog serious if her ears fall over her face. I still haven't been teaching her much of anything, but we've done lots of work on sits and some on her down, which she'll offer, just takes some time to offer/think of, but I'm wanting to get back to her tugging because she's having a hard time going from treats to the tug, and I want it to be the other way around. Tug is awesome, treats are just okay.

Anyway... From my crew to yours, happy holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Missing Bella

As Christmas is fast approaching, I'm reminded again this year of my lack of heart dog. I try to stay happy, and for the most part succeed, but times get tough and it gets hard not to really, really miss Bella.

Things have changed so much in the year and a little bit she's been gone. When the idea that someday I'd loose Bella to her mental issues first arose, I told my mom, "If I can't have Bella, I don't want to do the dog thing anymore." My days leading up to losing Bella were spent upset that I was losing her and half convincing myself I'd have to find homes for Psyche and Zoey because I didn't think I could do this, this dog loving, putting my heart and soul into things, all of that, if I didn't have Bella there to drive me onward. I tell people about this now and tears come to my eyes, because I can't imagine my life without Zoey, Psyche or the other dogs now in my life. Psyche pulled me through losing Bella. I don't know how she did it, but she did. Psyche is a soft dog. She's timid, fragile even, and yet, when I needed her most she was the strongest pillar in my life. She never wavered when the wind blew at me and tried to push me down, when the world gave way beneath me and tried to make me fall, when the heat bore down on me and tried to make me hide--through all of that, Psyche was strong, despite her weaknesses.

And now, coming up on my second Christmas without her, I've added two more dogs to my canine family and I couldn't be happier. Crash came into my life after turning down a puppy from my dream bitch's litter. I had decided I wasn't ready for another dog... and then Crash came along. He needed me and someone, somewhere decided I needed him, because for some reason I brought him home as a foster and now he's here for good. There have been moments in having him that I've looked at him and swore that Bella was looking out his eyes at me. He gave me the challenge I hadn't had since Bella, just not as extreme.

With Simi I don't relate her to Bella at all. They're totally different dogs, even though they're both German Shepherds. Simi is different and I still love her, but she'll never be Bella. But that's okay. I don't want another Bella. I had the real Bella, and she was Bella--there's no replacing her. That said, there are times that Simi settles down for just a few seconds longer than others and a part of me thinks there's a connection being made there... that Bella's looking down, smiling, happy that Simi and I have finally been matched up. Who knows. Maybe Simi's what Bella would have been like had she been normal, maybe she's not, either way, Simi is her own dog and as much as I feared at first I'd try to make her live up to Bella's standards emotionally, I'm not. My heart tells me that even though they will be similar in breed-type ways, they are not the same dog and my heart is right. Just the other night Simi and I were outside and I picked her up and while I looked up at the stars, she stilled in my arms and titled her head up to the sky, and I knew then that Bella was smiling down at us. Call me crazy if you want, I can live with that, but I know when things are right, and they are now.

As for Little Zoey, I'll admit, the first year was hard. There were days I looked at her, after just losing Bella, and there was blame in my mind. It wasn't fair to Zoey and I never said anything about it, but it was hard to look at Zoey and not see her as the reason that I'd lost Bella. That has changed though. Zoey no longer represents Bella's bad days. In my mind, she and Bella are still what they used to be when they ran the back pasture together, friends, and when Bella jumped off a snow bank on top of her, to which Zoey responded by doing the same to Bella, the swims in the pond where Bella could actually coax Zoey into the water; those first moments together where nothing stopped them from loving each other unconditionally, without hesitation. Those were some of Bella's best moments and Zoey helps me remember them. They may not have been friendly at the end, but that wasn't the same Bella we knew at the beginning, the one who's mind hadn't yet been polluted by disease. The puppy who took everything that happened in her life and let it go with the wind; she forgave and forgot. Zoey knew the real Bella; the Bella Bella wanted to be and tried to be, right up to her last minutes.

So as much as I miss Bella, she will always live on. In my heart, memories and the stories I share of her, yes, but also in my dogs who were there when she lived and in my dogs who have come since losing her and who have yet to come. She influenced who I am today and in doing that she made me a better person, better capable of caring for the canine family I've been given and will be given.

I owe more than I could have ever imagined to that hairy, hyper, long tailed mutt. I miss you, Boo.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here's the scoop on Simi.

Just wanting to let you all know how Simi's been doing, how life's going with her, and how things are in general about Simi.

Her ears are, of course, still doing some very wonky things, but she's completely adorable, no matter what. She was going through a spell when she first came home with soft stool, and that was hard to deal with for me. There's a lot of stress around this puppy. I'm so worried about keeping her healthy and perfect that the smallest thing stresses me out. She's doing fine now, though, after some more adjustment time and a trip to the vet (where they said nothing was wrong!).

In terms of training, we haven't done much. She's got her sit pretty much solid, no matter the situation and she offers it all the time. We've mostly just been doing lots of playing and tugging and being happy. She has, however, gone out and about a fair bit. Last weekend we were out Friday, Saturday and Sunday and she did great each day!

Friday was a trip to the vet for her next set of shots and her nails to be trimmed. At that point, I hadn't really had her on leash much besides in the house, fooling around, and so she was a little iffy about that, but with some help from "her girl" (Brooke, the little girl I watch every night who comes to see her once a week) she was good to go and pranced into the vets office, greeted everyone, then came back and sat at my feet and watched with interest at the happenings.

Saturday I decided I wanted to take her to town to get some new textures, locations, smells and sights. We went to Boot's new home (seen above with her) to let them visit with him before he goes home and we had our first real session of walking loosely on a leash beside me. We were happily wondering along, leash loose, clicking and treating after no time at all. She was offering sits and eye contact like crazy! She loves to work for me.

We went to PetSmart after that, where she was allowed to meet lots of new people, but I kept dogs away from her, just to be safe. She was mauled with attention, to say the least. She accepted all the cooing and aweing, though, with ease and was offering me eye contact every chance she could. At one point she'd been picked up and put on someone's lap, and even with them snuggling her, she was still watching me.

On Sunday we went to the Costco parking lot. That was an experience. Not too many people stopped to pat her, but lots of cars going by, people walking by, shopping carts, etc.. She was loose lead walking along side me, no problems. Our only issue we ran into, really, was that there were cigarette butts all over the ground and she kept thinking they were really great treats. Urgh. I wish people would think of things like that before flinging them everywhere, but I digress. She was really good. I was quite proud, to be honest. You'd think I'd been training her a lot more often than I actually am.

On both Saturday and Sunday she had her picture taken with Santa. On Saturday with Boots and the picture was CRAP. So we went in for a re-shoot Sunday and got a much better shot, all by herself, so I've got a good memory of her first Christmas.

Over all, we're using everything we do as a learning opportunity without making it a structured training situation. I don't want to burn her out without too much learning, but at the same time, I want her to learn, so I'm trying to keep it a happy medium. Everyday we plan and she learns more and more about how to play, be confident and happy. Really, what I want is a dog who can control themselves in any situation I need to put them in and who can be confident in new areas. Simi doesn't seem to have a problem with any of this yet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snow's here!

So winter has arrived on Rocky Valley Farms and snow has filled our agility field to the point that it was finally time to pick it all up and put it away.

I donned my boots, jacket, shark hat and gloves and went out to try and dig my jumps out and I brought Psyche along. She mostly just ran around and goofed off until I was done and when I spoke to her to get her going along, she came over excitedly bouncing, tail wagging looking at me with a 'what we gonna do, Momma?' look, and so I half-heartedly attempted some agility with her. No toy in my hands at all, no treats, no "reward" other than my voice and myself. She eagerly did a 8 obstacle sequence, very fast, very committed and at the end threw herself into my arms, tail wagging and licked my face.

This was a monumental moment for Psyche and I. I've known all along that Psyche loved agility and it's clear she loves me, but I've never been able to get her to realize how much fun both of those things are, without a toy.

It might have been a one time thing, but hey, it happened and that gives me a little bit of hope that someday it can happen consistently and that day will be great.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Good Uppy!

So Simi went for her second set of shots today, and she was such a good girl.

I haven't really done much leash work with her at this point, honestly, but today I took her to the vet with a collar and leash, and it took a few times of Brooke (her little girl) getting down and speaking to her but then she was happily coming with us.

She went into the office and she greeted everyone happily and then promptly came back and laid down at my feet and took everything in. She then went into the room and got her needle, as well as her nails trimmed and was super good, even though the vet made her bleed giving her the shot, and then we happily trotted out of the office.

I'm just very pleased with how she handles herself in new situations. She only got slightly excited when a Golden made eye contact with her, and she totally wanted to play with him, but when she realized it wasn't time to play, she just laid back down.