Disc in December!

This has been the best winter ever!  With no snow on the ground I've been able to continue playing disc with Vito.  We take a nice walk down to the park and then he gets to play. Throws long and low reduce risk of spaztastic jumps.  Sometimes I even take Fi and Lance along to run.  Fiona is showing a strong interest in the frisbee and even Lance is having fun chasing after rollers.  If I'm lucky he will even bring one back :)

Vito playing some disc.  No plan just having fun:

 





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Baby Bjorn 12/30/06-12/27/11

Rest in peace Bjorn.  His initial name when we got him was Baby and of course that didn't stick with us.  However Bjorn means bear in Norwegian and for some reason being Baby Bjorn seemed to fit him.  

Bjorn was the biggest thief in our house.  All the ferrets love to hoard things, but Bjorn was the greatest at it.  His favorite thing to steal was pens but he would eye any new object.  Successful thefts have ranged from a hammer to an extremely large Loofa doll dragged under a 1/2inch closet door.  He's also had wrestling matches with Adam over who gets to have the Wii remote.
Everyone who has met the ferrets loves Bjorn the most.  He had the softest fur and was the most patient ferret for being held by adoring fans.  Of course he was still a ferret and couldn't tolerate being still for too long.
Bjorn was a ladies man.  His best friend was Molly and I know she will miss him terribly.  He was also Lance's introduction to ferret play, teaching him just how hard he can bite their tails before ferrets strike back.
Goodbye buddy.

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CDSP Obedience


Vito
Today was a big test for Vito.  I wanted to see how his anxiety would hold up being back in the obedience ring and a CDSP trial is the perfect place since they allow praise during exercises and treats in between.  It was also a very small trial so Vito would feel less pressure from people.

Run #1
I thought Vito did pretty well.  He was a little bit stressed setting up but held it together nicely.  A few times he scanned the audience and he eyed the judge before the drop on recall but mostly he remained working, even if it wasn't as enthusiastically as I'd like.  Vito even retrieved the dumbbell when it landed right at the judge's feet.  Miraculously Vito even did a mini go out despite our very little practice in it.  We qualified for our first Open leg.
Video here

Run #2
I debated about entering Vito in a second round but decided to go for it.  The trial environment itself doesn't bother him at all and he was still working with great attitude outside of the ring.

A few more glances at the judge in the second round during the set up and heeling but then I felt he did a better job of remaining connected in between exercises and was more excited about his reward then in the first run.  Until he thought I dropped a crumb before the retrieve.  I got him back but then on the send I said take it and Vito took 2 seconds to sniff the supposed treat spot before getting his dumbbell.

The last exercise is where he fell apart.  Right after I set him up Vito became distracted by a team warming up right at the ring gate.  He looked over his shoulder and on the third look I backed up to get his attention but Vito barked.  I thought I still might have him but he barked another time, I of course step on his tail and of course Vito starts reacting more heavily so I excuses ourselves and exit out the back.

Thankfully because it was CDSP I had treats in my pocket and I was able to reward eye contact and moving with me.  He was still very focused on the other end but I was able to back up towards it, staying in front of him, and then back off by moving forward away the other end.  He was quiet within 30 seconds and relaxed within another minute or two.
Walk of Shame Video here


Sigh.

Lance
Lance did 2 runs of CDSP Utility today.  Except for thinking he was the Incredible Hulk on the first run and crashing through the jump, he did very well!   We qualified the second round to get leg #2.
Video here

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Merry Christmas!


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Vito on Clonidine

Vito started on Clonidine to help his car freak outs and general anxiety on November 24th.  He started on a very low dosage and I've slowly been increasing it since we aren't seeing any adverse side effects.

Initially it seemed to help him, even at the lowest dose of .1mg.  But after a few days the anxiety was creeping back.  Which each increase the Clonidine seemed to help but then backed off or fluctuated.  Some times he would be completely relaxed on a drive to a location but freak out on the way home, or reversed.  Currently we are at .25mg and initially it seemed to go the same.  Some good trips, some bad.

But the last several days have been miraculous.  These last days Vito has been given the pills twice a day since he had to come with me at work all day and then to the obedience club in the evening.  They were very long days and while he still isn't doing great at work he has done worse in the past.  But for the car rides Vito has been very calm!  His eyes even seem heavy like he wants to sleep but can't, and Vito is even eating treats in the car now.

Vito panic attacks not even a month ago:

Or one of his original melt downs here

The new calm Vito:

Vito also seems to be able to handle social situations better.  He's always done pretty well just hanging out at obedience/agility settings but can tell the difference between a trial or class type of setting and everything else.  The later makes Vito anxious.  Actually it makes Vito over excited and in turn he becomes anxious.  But lately he seems to be making small steps of progress.  Earlier this month I took Vito and other dogs to work where we were hosting pictures with Santa for the puppy raisers.  Even though it was the same building he walks in several times a week, as soon as we entered Vito knew it wasn't a normal work day and started to stress. The good news is he did not start trembling and stuck with quieter whining as opposed to much louder whines and/or screams.  He was able to look at me when I said his name and calm down within 20 minutes.  (Video here)

At an agility seminar lecture a week later (on speed, drive and motivation!) he needed to watch everyone arriving and was clearly anxious but only whined a little bit, was not over excited, and was able to lie down for most of it.  He reacted a few times to people arriving late but was quieted quickly. (Video here)

Hope.

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Vito in 2011


Same long and heavily edited video as in Lance's post:


A look back at Vito's year.

Anxiety
In February I decided to see our vet about starting Vito on drugs for his separation anxiety and general anxiety.  The behavioral modification that we had done with Vito had helped but Vito could still not be left for more than 2 hours and he had never once slept while left alone.  His anxiety was starting to increase to the point that Vito would again start howling when we were gone.  In public his anxiety was also increasing as Vito was starting to get worried about people watching him while working and overstimulated in any new place.

Vito started with Clomipramine but was only on it for 25 days before I took him off.  Maybe it was too early to tell, but it seemed as though Vito's reactivity was increasing and he was becoming more anxious in his crate at trials.  His appetite decreased a lot on medication and remained decreased for most of this year.  He then started Fluoxetine (Prozac) and after 6wks Vito slept for his very first time in his life when left alone!
The Prozac initially made him very flat so I quit training him and pulled him from his obedience trials.  While Vito was much more relaxed when left alone on Prozac he would often be restless; wanting to sleep but constantly adjusting position every few minutes.  Combined with his general anxiety still getting worse we increased the dosage in July.  After 6wks the increase dosage helped his seperation anxiety immensely.  Vito can be left for 5.5hrs (and likely longer but not tested) and I don't worry about him!  It is a huge relief to be able to get out of the house without worrying about my dog!

Along with our success in July, Vito's car anxiety started.  It came out of the blue and was full blown panic attacks.  Vito restarted Xanax which helped control it but his reaction to the drug seemed to fluctuate.  Some days Vito would act very sedated and other days he seemed fine.  On lower doses the Xanax had no noticeable effect on him.  I discontinued Xanax in September because I hated it and of course his full panic attacks resumed.

In November I finally went to see the behaviorist at the University.  Vito started Clonidine to help with his car anxiety and general anxiety and we are slowly increasing the dosage.  It is still too early to say if we will stick with it or not but so far it seems to be helping.  We also have recently lowered his Prozac since Vito is doing so well on it. Hopefully we can lower his Prozac to a more reasonable dosage.


Agility:
We didn't do a ton of trials this year so despite Vito competing for 1.5yrs he hasn't actually done much.  Vito's been slow to start showing the world what he's capable of.  This year Vito still did a lot of happy bouncing around versus truly running.  While agility trials don't give him the time to worry that obedience trials do,  there are still times where he will start stressing and chooses to fixate on a person.  The leash runner, judge, or even Daddy have all been targets for Vito fixating on and then going up to say "hi" when the course brings him there.  There has been no rhyme or reason to when he's going to do it but I can always tell when I walk up to the line.  Thankfully it's not too often!

Our last trial, in October, has been the first time that I felt we were really connected.  Vito was excited, he actually ran with some speed, and walking up to the startline he kept his focus on the job at hand.  It was also the first time I switched our waiting in line plan (1-2 dogs away from our turn).  I didn't keep tugging, didn't offer treats, and didn't have him do any tricks.  All we did was crouch down and let him look at the ring.  The last week of December is our next trial so I'm hoping we can get the same results despite it being so long since the last trial.

This year his running contacts have been doing fabulous.  There were several months this summer that I spent trying to get turns off the dogwalk and I felt like we were starting to make progress.  But then I stopped going to practice after we moved further away.  Vito's doing a really nice job of listening to me and turning on the flat and I'm happy with not messing with driving all the way down.  I don't think he missed a single dogwalk or aframe in (his limited number of) competitions this year!!!

Obedience:
Because of Vito's increased anxiety this year and the effects of the medications, Vito has done very little obedience or rally this year.  January and February Vito was still doing pretty well and wasn't on drugs yet and during those months he earned his last leg for his AKC Rally Novice title, two legs towards Rally Advanced, and his first two legs towards CDSP Novice Obedience.  After that time, any trials entered were done as tests to see where he was at and I only entered one run or ended up pulling him from other runs because of his flatness.  During those test runs, Vito did earn his last legs towards his Rally Advanced, CDSP Novice, and APDT Lv2 titles.

Most trials Vito has been very laggy and flat.  Now that the drugs are sitting better with him the flatness is gone, but he still has some anxiety about the ring.  I believe it's the pressure of a crowd watching him as he does better in less crowded areas and tends to be worse the closer he is to the entrance/stewards.  I've taken him to 2 run throughs the last month and Vito is doing a much better job of working through the pressure.  We will be entering a CDSP trial next week where I can give treats in the ring.  My hope is to have a happy dog!

Disc:
Vito still loves it but I don't think he's any better at catching discs!  The dog is just so intense and won't actually collect to jump nicely.  The result is lots and lots of late jumps and tipped discs.  I've been learning to throw long and low and Vito can do pretty well as long as that disc stays out ahead of him.

We've also been working on eye contact and impulse control ever since the Pawsitive Vybe Seminar in May.  While he is much better about not screaming or punching me after a few throws, Vito can now even give me eye contact when asking for that first disc!  Walking onto the field is much improved but still not consistent.  I think this self control work  has come a long way towards Vito being able to think and do his tricks when I have a disc in my hand.  Still VERY hard but it's now possible!

This year I pushed myself and we did our first few freestyle routines.  I didn't actually have a set routine in any way but figured it was about time we do it.  Vito has placed first in the novice division.

Tricks:
We didn't work on too many tricks this last year.  Vito hasn't been too excited about his food ever since he started medication and my usual training time is with their dinner.  We did get duration on his paw over his nose (finally!), taught light switches on a lowered switch, and recently learned to drum.  I also played around with getting Vito to hug a toy while begging, but most of that work was Vito thumping his legs towards his chest!


Goals for 2012
1. Obedience: My number 1 goal is to have a happy dog.  I would love it if Vito could get back in the obedience ring next year but I won't do it if I think it's going to stress him out.

I plan to work on obedience in different environments, hitting as many run throughs as I can
Working on entering the ring behavior, finding a way to get him ready to work immediately rather than having him do a wakeup routine first.
Work on out of out of sight stays around the house and in other areas.

2. Agility:  My hope is that Vito starts to shine this year.  He's been happy and now I hope that happiness turns into actual running :) 

Work as many trials I can so I can enter more trials this year.
Start doing USDAA with him and see if I like it.  Continue doing NADAC because I like distance work and I'm hoping that the flowiness helps Vito to be confident to run fast.

3. Disc:  Keep Vito safe!

Practice throwing more so I am more confident in my abilities
Develop an actual routine or at least several sequences I can draw from to combine.
Keep working on impulse control and develop a way to walk out onto the field consistently without Vito screaming and punching me.

4. Increased exercise: This last summer I started running with him and I shocked myself by not hating it too much.  Of course I quit as soon as it got a little cold.  But Vito really needs more exercise so I want to make it a goal for me to find a way to exercise him more in the winter and then hopefully start running again next spring.

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Lance in 2011

Another year almost gone!  Here's my yearly wrap up video!  The great thing about editing a video is that I can pretend all the frustrations and issues didn't exist and only show the good stuff :)  I took a lot more footage this year so sorry about the 10min length, but of course it easily could have been 30!



I'll write up Vito's year in a few days, but for now here is a look back at Lance's accomplishments in 2011.

Obedience:
We had done one graduate open trial in December and we did a few more in the beginning of the year to earn 2 legs.  Lance gained confidence as we went although we struggled with self doubting on the articles, straight go outs instead of to the glove location, and taking bonus jumps on the directed retrieve.  After a Denise Fenzi seminar in July I made some changes and Lance's problems with articles disappeared!!! Later that month we went to a CDSP trial where Lance earned his CDSP open title and even got a leg towards CDSP Utility.

In September I became brave enough to try our first AKC Utility trial!  We did a few trials where Lance attracted quite the crowd with his happy attitude and we earned our UD this December!!!  


Rally:
Lance didn't do much rally this year as he only needed 1 leg for his APDT RL3 which we earned in April.  He also took over Vito's APDT runs so has 1 double Q towards an ARCH.

Agility:
Poor corgi.  Lance's proofing towards his 4 on the floor was going really well and he was nailing it in trials!  But I was still very unhappy with the safety of Lance's aframe as he would launch and then fold up his leg to smash into his down at the bottom.  In February I decided to go with a running aframe and since I was already retraining I added in the dogwalk.  I spent all summer working on running contacts with him every morning before work.  We made a lot of progress in the dogwalk but then it would fall apart as Lance would start to stress.  Rebuilt it multiple times until I finally decided to give up in September.  And the aframe was just a wreck.  Now since I can't bear the thought of retraining the corgi again, we are going to managed contacts.  No criteria on his part :)  His dogwalk is actually going really well, likely do to all the work put in this summer.  The aframe I'm still not sure how to handle it without him flying into space.

With our contacts retraining, Lance did very few agility trials this past year.  When he did compete we only entered runs without an aframe or dogwalk.  Lance still has a major stuttering issue on the jumps and it hasn't been a priority for me this past year with all the contact training.  It's part of the reason I have decided to focus only on NADAC with him.  I like doing distance training and more hoops mean less jumps.  Although the greater distances between obstacles actually results in more stuttering as Lance seems to do better on twistier courses.

Tricks:
I wasn't very ambitious this year in our trick training.  Several tricks were started, failed, and restarted multiple times.  The attempted tricks:
- Hold a toy in his paws, while sitting up.  Semi accomplished. Lance really gets the concept and reaches for the toy when presented.  He also understands his feet have to come together.  As long as I hold an end, it looks beautiful.  But if I let go Lance tends to spike it to the ground.  Sometimes we have it but usually it's balancing on his chest.  Lance has tried to tell me it's impossible for corgis but I don't believe him.

- Drumming.  Win!  Lance learned to drum his front paws on a cookie tin.  He also thinks he has to drum his back feet at the same time...


- Cover nose with paw.  Fail.  I've wanted this trick with Lance for a long time but just can't get it.  He'll swipe at his nose but has no duration.  Or he'll have duration but without his paw actually making contact.

- Backwards hind foot limp.  Fail.  I managed to get one step backwards while he's holding up his back leg.  But mostly it's a lot of grunting, hopping, and kicking  a nearby dog with his back foot.

Goals for 2012:
Work towards Lance getting his UDX, earn at least half of the QQs by the end of the year.
Work on at least one new idea to fix his forging during heeling, especially on the starts.
Figure out a way to handle his no criteria contacts in agility :)

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More Kitty Training

I've still been training with the cat a few times a week.  Luke still likes to rub, rub, rub against me wanting me to just give him the food already.  I'm not so good at raising criteria with a cat.  Sometimes I think I'm asking too much too fast and other times I think he's playing me for a fool.

We're working on shake, spin, beg, and jumping up on surfaces I target my hand to, including my back because who doesn't wish their kitty could do a back stall? :)

Cat video:

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Fiona 7 months

Fi is 7.5 months  (And only 40lbs.)  She is doing very well in her training and I love working with her.  She has great drive and loves working for a toy as much as she loves working for food.  Big change from the little puppy where I had to work very hard at building toy drive and even harder at being able to do tug with the possibility of food being present.  For a lab she's pretty cool ;)
 Video!


For the most part her submissive issues are gone.  She is very confident out in public and loves everyone she meets.  But at home we're still having the occasional wussy Fi show up.  Every now and then she will submissive pee when she thinks she could be in a little trouble, even if I'm just praising her for finding a bone.  When super excited she will also pee, especially if she is asked to sit.  And there are also times where she will suddenly hide in her kennel and not want to come out.  Thankfully these situations are rare, occurring a few times a month rather than on a daily basis.  There's hope for her!

Fiona is also a complete teenager now.  Her biggest testing has been with loose leash walking.  OMG my best friend!  Oh, my other best friend!!!

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Lance's UD!!!!

The corgi did it!  Leg #2 on Saturday and #3 Sunday to get his UD!!! 
Video proof!!:


I have never been so thrilled about an accomplishment as I am right now!  I didn't think Sunday's performance was his best one (and was shocked at how generous the judge scored us with a 192!) but he certainly keeps his attitude up throughout.  As an interesting side note, Lance has earned all 3 of his AKC obedience titles at this venue!

Now I need to decide how to move forward.  I do want Lance to get his UDX but that's an expensive journey and funds are almost non existent.  With Lance's stay problems he had in going for his CDX (usually sat or stood on the long down) I'm not sure if I should just enter open to gauge his readiness or bite the bullet and enter both since he can certainly use more experience in utility as well.

Breakdown of Sunday's trial:

Signals- 2pts
Not as great attention as usual, he looked away a few times.  I'm not sure what happened on that first halt!  Signals were good and he didn't move on the stand again!  He finished without my cue, went as soon as I started to look down at him.  I had just started to give my hand signal when I saw the corgi already moving but the judge apparently didn't catch it.

Article 1&2- 1pt
Another confident and quick search of the piles!  Lance finished on the judges order on the first send but once again the judge didn't mark it.  I'm not sure how we've gotten so many free passes the last 2 days!

Glove (#2)- 1pt
I turn left to the #2 glove since Lance usually loves his left turns but like yesterday, Lance didn't go very smoothly with me.  I was a bit worried as I gave my mark as he was slightly facing the #3 glove, but since I went straight down with my hand and practically touched his head he never even looked at the #3.

Moving Stand -1pt
Forging was worse than yesterday if one can imagine.  He took 2 steps after I left him but didn't move during the exam itself at all.

Directed Jumping-3pts
Mostly straight go outs but Lance came in a tiny bit before sitting the first send.  Same on the second send but he decided not to sit.


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Utility Leg #2

We qualified!!!


Signals -2pts
Right off the bat I screwed up and cost us points by giving a verbal heel.  As soon as it came out of my mouth I recognized my error and grimaced.  But it turns out the judge didn't register my mistake so I actually didn't lose any points.  His heeling was pretty good in the forging department but he got distracted on both the about turns.  The signals were good and this was the first time in a trial that Lance did not move at all after I left him on the stand!

Articles -.5pt
Confident find and no tasting of any! 

Glove (#3) -.5pt
Lance didn't turn very nicely with me although it wasn't too bad.  He also broke eye contact and looked at the jump.  I waited a second for him to break focus off the jump before giving him his mark.

Moving Stand -1pt
Forging but not as bad as his last 2 trials as Lance was at least somewhat with me.  He moved as the judge approached but he at least didn't move as I left as he has been doing recently in trials.

Directed Jumping -6pts
Lance was excited and wanted to go before we started but caught himself :)  Mostly straight go outs and he took the correct jumps without knocking them!  Auto finish after the first jump and the second send out he turned when I called the sit but then decided to turn back to the gate and raised a paw towards it before turning back to me and sitting. 


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New Ferret Video

A couple people have asked me about the ferrets recently, wanting a new video.  But sadly the ferrets are all getting up there in age.  They sleep a lot more and steal a lot less.  As the youngest one, Opie is still causing a bit of trouble and doing a great job at keeping the lab in line.  Fiona loves rolling around on her back for him to crawl over her and most days I still hear her crying when she gets nipped at.


But to pacify the ferret fans, I compiled some older footage of the ferrets.  Most of it is 2yrs old.

Sadly, Bjorn seems to be on his last leg.  He has lost a lot of weight and mainly just sleeps.  I don't think he will be with us in 2012.
Photo by Sarah Beth Photography

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Vito sees a Veternarian Behaviorist

Vito had his behavioral appointment at the University of Minnesota.  While I really like and respect our normal veternarian we were at a loss for where to continue with Vito's anxiety.  He has been doing so great being left at home but his car anxiety is still very intense, he still can be reactive towards people, and he has general anxiety in public places (especially evident at non dog shows).

Right off the bat Vito was giving an excellent example of his issues.  He was panting and whining in the waiting room and continued his panting once in the exam room.  Vito settled down quite a bit and was very cuddly with the doctor but was still very alert to sounds outside.  Twice he had reactive outbursts and I was able to prevent him from starting a few other times.  He started trembling and tried to hide for the basic physical exam we saved for near the end.

The doctor agreed with me that the Prozac is going well with helping Vito's separation anxiety.  She did note that he is on a very high dosage and has plans to decrease it in a few weeks.  Vito was initially on 20mg but was increased to 40mg since while the Prozac was helping at the lower dosage he seemed restless and unable to fully relax when left alone.

We are also going to be starting Vito on Clonidine to help with his car anxiety and general anxiety.  While we can use it on an as needed basis, because Vito has to go in the car a minimum of once a day we're going to be likely giving it twice daily.  My fingers are crossed that it doesn't give Vito any sedation effects like the Xanax did.  The next drug she suggested was Trazodone but he definitely couldn't start it until his prozac was lowered and she didn't think it would be as good of a fit with his issues.

As additional work for me, I'm going to start some ds/cc work in the car.  She agrees with me that it is likely won't help since I will be unable to keep him below any threshold we might build.  Because Vito HAS to go in the car for at least one trip a day it will destroy any progress made.  Nevertheless, I will start working on it by hanging out in the car with Vito and some treats in the Minnesota winter.

She checked to see if Vito had any mat work and I sent him to my jacket.  I thought she was going to recommend the formal relaxation protocol and said I really didn't see myself doing it!  But since Vito was so visibly relaxed on his "mat" and not any operant relaxed fashion of just trying to get treats, we passed and she said I didn't have to :)  But it was recommended that I actually work on mat work a bit more and to reward him if he doesn't react to stimuli. 

We talked quite a bit about trialing for obedience and agility.  I explained my hypothesis of Vito's anxiety being linked to the pressure of a crowd watching and his need to really take in the environment around him.
Our last agility trial in October was the first time that Vito and I were connected at the start line for all of our runs.  It was also the first time that after doing some tugging to warm him up I just crouched down and let him watch the ring before going in.  I don't know if doing the same for obedience would work but I do need to find a routine that would allow Vito to be ON as soon as he steps in the ring.  And I need to start doing it in our little practice sessions instead of letting him do his little stretches that he can't do in a real trial.  The run through went fantastic last weekend but I didn't do anything differently as a warm up.

I look forward to seeing if the Clonidine is going to help Vito.  The good news is that I should know soon as it is a fast acting drug.  We're starting out on a really low dosage just to make sure we're not getting any bad side effects and then will slowly up it until we find a dosage that will hopefully help him.

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Chuck Graduates!

Chuckles and his new mom are now an official team!  The graduation ceremony for Chuck and 14 of his friends was this past weekend.  We got to be reunited with Chuck before the ceremony and then walk him up the stage to hand him over to his momma.  Chuck has already been living with his new mom for almost 4 months as they have been diligently practicing their skills at home and out in public.

Most of his job involves retrieving.  He retrieves her crutches, her prosthetic leg, and things she drops.  Chuck also braces to help her get off the floor or out of a chair, and opens doors using the push plates.  And his absolute favorite task, and the one most helpful to his new mom, is tugging the laundry basket out of the closet, out the apartment door, down the hallway, and to the laundry room.  That is quite the distance!!!



Reunited!
Some of the other puppy raisers/fosters with their dogs

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CDSP Run throughs

I took the dogs to do some run throughs today at the same building the CDSP trial will be held next month.

Lance
Lance went first for his utility run and made several errors.  First he sat after I turned to face him on the signal exercise.  On articles he found and picked up the right one pretty quickly but then dropped it after taking a few steps back to me.  A problem he used to have under pressure but hasn't done in a long time.  No issues with either glove send at least.  On his go outs the first one was really nice but then he started to arc back to me and I think it was from the pressure of the other dogs in the warm up ring directly behind it.  The sends after that were good.  But on the first jump Lance again veered off to my left!  I interrupted him to send him over my right and then tried again.  On the 2nd attempt Lance looked to my right and stared right at the judge before smiling and taking off to the left.  Odd because the judge is our weekly instructor and Lance normally is not that sensitive to pressure from people.  We do it one more time at a shorter distance and Lance was successful.  Moving stand he didn't take any steps as I left but did take one during the exam.
 But despite all our bobbles he was a happy corgi!

Vito
Vito was having a good day!  He was very excited during his warm up and kept most of it during his open run.  There weren't a ton of people there and he knew the judge so I think that helped him.


No lagging at the start :)  He did look away briefly before the first turn but I called his name and did a little sidestep as I turned and he drew back in.
I've never done a running broad jump with Vito before and I think he thought my backing up was so he could jump on me as a reward!
I put the toy behind him on the drop on recall and sent him to it as his reward.
Vito knocks the dumbbell with his foot on the retrieve (I don't know how to fix that!) but does one of his closest fronts ever!
Retrieve over the high and Vito again knocks the db with his foot but does another really close front!  I played the video in slow mo and I don't understand how Vito is knocking it.  He comes in  with his head lowered, all poised to turn as soon as he grabs it but his foot slides it a split second before he can grab it.
There's a go out from the center of the ring in CDSP open and Vito's training isn't quite there. On our first attempt he went out to the pole so I went out and showed him where I wanted him to go.  The 2nd attempt I was closer and Vito went to the right spot but didn't quite touch the gate like I wanted him to.
He didn't really want his toy as we were done but I did get him to tug a little bit before we left.

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Obedience Pictures!!!

Pictures!!!  I've never ordered pictures from an obedience trial before, but Amy Johnson got such nice photos that I couldn't resist and bought the cd!  We didn't qualify this trial due to wrong jump but the pictures don't let on :)

Signals
 

Articles
Gloves
Moving Stand

Directed Jumping

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Kitty training

Ever since seeing Pawsitive Vybe's kitty doing 2x2's (seriously!!!) I've felt so much like a slacker that I became inspired to train the cat.  I briefly tried training Luke around the time that Vito was a puppy but stopped because I didn't hate myself that much!  Training a cat certainly requires patience.

Kitty has had a few sessions so far and is learning how to beg, and lift a paw.  I'm trying to get a spin but so far it has only resulted in a butt nudging up against my leg.  I don't know how butt marking fits in with the whole hunting process but every time I feed him he has to rub and rub.  The one thing Luke has been taught since a kitten was to go to his chair and sit to wait for food.  But 4yrs later and he still has to rub up against the chair at least once before sitting.  Doesn't he know by now that it only delays the food?!

This time around is going better than last time at least.  Luke eats wet food ever since his bladder problems started and he is much more motivated to work than he was just using his kibble or even dog treats.

Awesomeness.  Clearly not my cat:

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Lance Utility

Lance and I played in the Utility ring again today.  Still having a blast and making everyone in the audience smile!  Another NQ as the poor guy crashed the last jump.


Signals
Oh the forging.  But Lance did settle in decently on the fast and more after the first about.  I think we just need a change of pace to reel him in!  He moved a bit when leaving on the stand and his finish sucked.

Article 1:
Tasting again.  And sniffed a spot on the floor in the middle of the pile.

Article 2:
No tasting!

Gloves
#1, again.  Happy bouncing to and from.  Sitting further on the front like he's done the last 2 trials.  Huh.

Stand
Crazy forging, moving again when I left and a tiny bit on the exam

Directed jumping
Straight go outs!!!  No sit on the first send but did on the 2nd.  Took the correct jumps!!!  But really bad bar jump where he jumped early landed on the jump and crashed it. 

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Training Progress?

It's been a month since I've vowed to restart training with the Toller.  It's helped that at home he's been eating every meal and sometimes he's even excited about it ever since I stopped his Xanax 1.5 months ago.  I'm still not doing a lot of training at home and haven't started any new tricks.  Mainly we've been doing a little bit of fronts with the dumbbell, still working on closer fronts and making the dumbbell a toy.  And also having him do his shake and paw most days making sure he actually makes contact with my hand.  Because Vito's paw sensitivity has increased so much this last year I'm starting with him making contact with me and then will go to me reaching for and holding his paws.

At the obedience club is where we've been making the most progress.  We're still not in a regular class but are focusing on playing with me in the ring for about 10min twice a week.  My main goal for the month was figuring out how to play with him without toys since I've seemed to have lost the ability to play the games he used to love.  Mainly I've been encouraging a lot of jumping up on me in order to get a treat.  He seems to like it as I back up and I hope that I can get to the point where jumping up for petting as the main reward is seen as pretty cool too.  Vito also loves butt scratches and while me standing and reaching over to give him one is still a bit of pressure that causes him to back up, if I crouch down and clap my hands he often comes in for a nice happy scratch.  While Vito knows a ton of tricks he doesn't seem to have any that pop out as super rewarding like Lance's rollover.  I was hoping I could get his hand touch to that level but I'm not sure.

I'm not sure if it's due to my effort in reasserting playing with me over the toy or the stopping of his Xanax, but Vito has been getting more of his drive back too!  When I do use a toy in obedience he is back to his old levels of intensity and even in agility we haven't had any "tired" days in awhile.  Goodbye flat Vito!?!!

I know we still have a long ways to go for Vito to be confident outside of a practice session.  At the obedience trial two weeks ago Vito was even worse on Sunday when we thankfully weren't entered than
he was on Saturday where he had his rally entry.  Vito would tug with me a little bit and would work for food, but as soon as he wasn't actively being engaged he had to look around at everything.  It was harder to get his true focus even though I usually had his attention.  Then at a presentation I used Vito as a demo as he once again wanted to look at everyone watching him and just went through the motions of the exercises.  I found that really interesting since we were even in the same ring that we practice in every week.

Car update
Vito's relative calmness in the car was short lived.  Less than a week after the post Vito's anxiety spiked and now we are at heavy panting and trembling, again.

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Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween!

The Queen of Hearts


The White Rabbit

The Cheshire Cat

Attempted group shots
 
Um, your highness??

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Happy 3rd Birthday Vito!

Happy birthday Vito!



Here's hoping this next year is a better one for you.  I love you!

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NADAC trial!

The boys got to go to an agility trial today!!!  They really haven't gotten to do many agility trials this past year
and it's been 2 full months since the last one.  Lance even got to do runs that had contacts in them for the first time since I quit his 4 on the floor and gave up on the running.

Vito
I don't know if it was because of the long break but both dogs had more fun today than I have ever seen them have!  Vito was pumped.  He excitedly tugged with me before going into the ring, kept that connection with me while waiting on the start line, and actually ran!  I think this is one of the first trials that all 3 of those pieces fell in line and it felt fabulous! 


Vito's Regular-Elite run:


All of Vito's dogwalks and aframes were spot on!  Even the one in the video where I *thought* I was turning him on the flat and letting him think he was going to go straight, Vito actually read my turn and didn't leap!  Of course I then was too busy looking at his dogwalk to actually properly cue him to take the aframe instead of the tunnel.

Q-wise we didn't do so hot.  Vito only qualified in 1 of his 4 runs today and it was novice jumpers.  He was so close in everything else though and actually his touch n go run was perfect but he got an "unsafe performance" on the aframe as he stumbled but still managed to hit yellow. 

Lance
Even Lance was super squirrely and actually had a few off courses as he blindly ran ahead ignoring me!  Go Corgi!  Lance was thrilled with the no criteria aframe and dogwalks and he did manage to do all the dogwalks decently.  One of them was even a gorgeous run down, but the others wouldn't have been in if it was a 36" zone.  His aframes I'm not so sure how it's working out.  I think most had a paw in but it was close.  At least he's running out of them nicely and not thudding.  He's still aiming to land right at the very bottom of the ramp, where he used to do his 4 on the floor so perhaps that's causing the higher hits?


Lance also only qualified 1 of 4 runs due to the off courses.  I take blame for one of them, the other 2 I give to him.  He did save my butt though on open chances when I mis timed my running and came to dead halt at the gamble line.  Lance looked back at me but kept going the remaining 2 feet over the jump and then we did the rest of the gamble nicely together.

No other videos of their runs as battery was shot in the camera.

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Lance Utility Attempt

Another day and another NQ.  But Lance won't let me lose sight of what is most important in our quest!  Don't ever lose that attitude Lance!


Signals
Decent heeling.  Took a step when I left him on the stand, but at least he stood today!  He didn't do his fold back down that he always does but didn't really move forward at least. 

Articles
I was not a fan of how the judge handled this.  We had to reach into the bag to grab one of each and she wanted the same numbers.  This meant ignoring my dog!  Plus I grabbed metal #7 (which I didn't mean to put in there) and I didn't have a #7 leather and she almost grabbed it out of my hands to put it back in the bag so I could take another!  I clenched up on it as there was no way I was putting it back in after I held it and the judge decided it wouldn't be the end of the world after all.  I just have never seen article selection done this way!

Lance got both articles right and was a happy boy!  No tasting any of them either!

Gloves
#1 again.  Out of our 5 attempts we've gotten #1 4 times.  I didn't pivot as far as I needed to but in some sense I'm glad as Lance really only saw #1 as the option then.  He blindly went out to where I shot him off to and then looked over to find the glove.

Moving Stand
Holy forging!!!  Lance hasn't forged that badly in months!  Every step he got further and further ahead until I became amazed at how he could still "heel" with eye contact!  If dogs were judged based on their back feet being inline with me then we would lose no points!  Miraculously he stayed and let me walk by him :)  Moved as the judge approached.

Directed Jumping
2 Straight go outs although the first one Lance didn't sit.  And then he took the wrong jump...  The 2nd time I even tried to send him to the jump on the right again and thought I did a good job of looking at it and reaching for it, but Lance happily shot off the left again.  Turd. 

We try again in 2 weeks, one day only.

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Vito's Rally trial and Lance Utility

Vito- Rally Advanced B
I was really debating on whether I should enter Vito in anything this weekend.  Ultimately I decided to do one day of rally since it would be in the ring he's used to practicing in and I could talk to him if needed. 

I needed to.  Even though we qualified with a lovely score of a 99 (and our Advanced title), it just wasn't the performance I was looking for.  I could tell Vito was stressed the moment we walked into the ring and while he went through all the right motions his heart just wasn't in it.  Vito lagged through most of it although it was only a slight lag.  We just didn't have that connection.  On the positive side he did have good attention and did do all the exercises nicely. 

I had high hopes before going into the ring since he was very happy to be at the trial, loved seeing Grandma, and warmed up really nicely even with a tug toy.  I guess Vito is back on hiatus from showing in obedience again until I can figure out how to have a happy Vito in the ring.  I don't care about the scores or placements if my dog doesn't have that happy attitude.

Looking at the video some of you may be questioning my judgement since he doesn't look like a dog who's been beaten, but it didn't feel like my dog when running the course.  And if my dogs are lagging it's a very good sign they're stressed.


Lance- Utility A
Signals, NQ
Lance didn't charge off as usual on the start!! Actually when looking at the video he was already in a forged sit while waiting to start...  Still ended up forging very quickly but at least he took his first step with me and he settled back into a nicer position during the fast.

I don't know what happened on the stand signal but Lance stood for a tiny bit and then sat.  I'm going to take the blame for it since I for some reason wasn't expecting the command yet and I think I felt weird when giving the signal.  I stood him again before leaving and the corgi still took a step as I left.

Articles- 1pt
On the first send I think he quickly tasted 2 articles before grabbing the right one. While waiting for the second one he kept looking at Daddy but refocused before the send.  The article was in the middle and Lance still struggles with that in practice but kept searching nicely today!


Gloves- 1/2pt
Glove #1 went nicely although Lance sat farther away from me than I've trained and thus was a bit crooked.

Moving Sand- 1/2pt
Once again he moved a bit after I left him.  But he has the best call to heel he's ever done!

Directed Jumping- NQ
The first go out Lance started out straight but alas veered off and took the jump on the left.  At least he continued going out a bit.  Then he took the jump closest to him instead of going out across the ring.  We've been practicing off centered jumping in practice but I guess we're not there yet.  The second go out was perfect!  Although if I was thinking I should have sent Lance to the other jump instead of letting him do the same one again.

So a happy performance but not meant to be.  Tomorrow we try again!

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Calm in the car!

Things seem to be on the up for Vito's car anxiety!  The last 3 days he has had multiple drives with periods of NO panting or trembling!!!  Actually, starting Oct 1st his overall anxiety level seemed to be going down.  He was still trembling lots but the panting had gone down to "mild."


The best blurry picture ever!

We didn't do anything different to account for the awesome change.  Vito is actually no longer on any fast acting drug to help with the car anxiety since I took him off his Xanax over a month ago.  His anxiety greatly increased when first stopping the Xanax to the point that I was starting to doubt my decision even though I hated Vito on it.  Fingers crossed that these past 3 months of sudden panic attacks in the car will soon be behind us!

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Fiona 6 months

Fiona seems to be turning around these last two weeks to the point that I actually think she might make it through the program.  For a month she was going back and forth between sassy/confident to submissive wuss.  Fi would submissive pee for people at times or would melt into the ground and even at home she would suddenly go and hide in a crate, refusing to come out.  Thankfully she has had very few "bad days" recently so I'm hoping she's done with that silly phase!  I really wasn't sure that she was going to make it as a service dog before.

Tricks!  I've been feeling motivated recently (coincidence!!!) and we're playing around with our trick training again.  Backward circles came really quick so we started on backward figure 8's.  Rolling up in a blanket has proven to be hilarious!  She is trying so hard and it's looking like she's drunk as she throws the blanket in the air, spins around in a circle and then somersaults around.  And I'm finally getting around to teaching her bow and crossing her paws.

I suppose more importantly I've actually started taking her out in public to places other than agility/obedience/disc trials.  I'm a really bad puppy raiser when it comes to public outings.  Thankfully she's never pulled the submissive crap out in public anywhere as she's too busy focused on me.  That's what I love about treating socialization as attention exercises.  She's getting to see lots of weird things and people of all ages that she is free to look at and check out if she wants to, but is heavily rewarded for eye contact.


Proof that she's been out at least once!

Fiona will be 6 months old one week from now.  She's a tiny 34lbs which makes me wonder if she'll even reach 50lbs fully grown.  I'm going to guess 46.

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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