Black Acorn Dogs

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I wish I could transfer things from my brain to video tape like you can with television. Last night Indie and Ebby were playing in the living room, and Indie leapt over Ebby like Jack jumping over the candlestick. I could have cried laughing. I don't even think he touched her... just tucked his legs, flattened out and sailed right over. She's still several inches taller and quite a bit wider than he is, for comparison. Hilarious.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Joy of Drive

Ups and downs continue as usual. Indie is shaping up to be my little genius boy. We've been doing lots of "backyard" agility training around the electricity post in the back common area, and we've started doing front and rear cross practice. Last weekend I realized that there's a tree near enough our utility post that I can send him out around one, then front or rear cross him out around the other.

I did have one realization about my handling, and that's that I always tug on the right, and therefore when we're playing agility, I can't get him to come to my left. On leash, or in low intensity circumstances, he heels on my left nice as you please. Get that tug-happy adrenaline going, and he'll just bark and bark at me if I try to get him on my left. D'oh! I've been working all week on tugging with my left as well as pulling the tug out with my left hand. Progress is being made. It better, because I'll end up landing on him one of these days from him dancing in front of me anticipating reward from the other side of my body. Treats are always in the left pocket, by the way, so I thought I HAD anticipated the potential for this problem. In fact, I thought I was going to have a problem getting him comfortable on the right side, not the left. Silly me!

Poor boy's been a little stir crazy the last few days because the rain and mud has been such that we can't play very roughly out back without completely destroying the grass. It's a swamp out there today, and it hasn't been solid enough to play on since early last week. We still run and tug around the neighborhood, but it's not nearly as intense as when we're off leash and I can send him around obstacles or to go lay down on our flat "table". If I can keep the level of sheer speed and enthusiasm that he shows today, there's no question that he'll be my agility boy. He ADORES it.

The "downs" is that Ebby's training has been frustrating. Class started last week again, and she was an absolute gem, but she's been very antsy all week, and just a little... funny. I can't even put a finger on it. I know that one problem is she's not getting nearly enough exercise. She's so hard because I can't run her off leash for some child on a bike will pop up under her nose, and even on a long leash, she'll only run for about 30 seconds and completely shuts down. Before Indie, I used to tug with her for short times out back, but since we've had him, she has no interest. She gets out what little drive she has spent on playing with him. Not that she EVER gets bored with that.

I think the most frustrating part is not that Ebby is having any particular issue, but that Indie is starting to show so much promise. Training him is a singular joy. Ebby loves to train, Katie loves to train, but Indie LOVES to train. When I get the tug out as a reward, I am the most exciting thing in the known universe. At this point in time (yes, this will slip some), I can call him off birds and rabbits and reward with the tug. We've taken him several times in the woods, entirely off leash, and he has never gone further away from us than the distance that we'd have with a retractable leash. That includes sniffing around and chasing things. Yes, I have a pocketfull of the good treats, and we do several rounds of tug, but I still have solid attention the whole time. Yes, I expect that to have some slips over the next 6 months. But we couldn't be coming into his adolesence with a better foundation for recalls and attention.

The other thing is that I can shape Indie to learn new things in no time flat since he's been clicker-trained from puppyhood. Left finish? Done. Right finish? No problem. Run to that table and lay down? Got it. Weave between my legs? C'mon... too easy. (Course, I'm still trying to shape him to put his his paw over his face, and I haven't been able to get it. I'm going to have to get sneaky with that one.)

I don't want a dog with so much drive that they need stimulation 24 hours a day, but it is a DREAM to have a dog that turns on like Indie does and has the Go. It's not nearly as much fine to have to build it from scratch in a case like Ebby's. She really is wonderful, and I know I can get a lot more out of her than I'm getting now, but how much cooler is it to have a dog that's already as into it as I am?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

... The Bad and The Ugly

It's usually more fun to post The Good, but here's some of the other.

My morning.

Kate sometimes has nasty diarrhea in the middle of the night. She usually barks and wakes us up. We think it's related to chicken, which she isn't supposed to be allergic to, but it stopped when we'd had her off chicken for two weeks and it just returned when we started her back on chicken Sunday night.

Last night apparently we didn't wake up for her. There was a very yucky poo on the carpet outside the bedroom door when she barked for us at 6:30 this morning. 6:30, I should mention, is already earlier than normal for me to get up to let everyone out.

I got up and let everyone out. Came back in the house, realized EBBY had pooped in the house. Okay, fine. Her poop is easy to pick up. Ebby's deal is that sometimes she holds it forever, and then eventually just has to go. We sometimes have to take marathon walks to make sure she goes and try to walk her in specific spots with the right kind of exciting smells to motivate a poop. Again, we're working on this but it could be worse. She does try to leave it by the door and she's never once peed in the house, for example.

Enter the Good Puppy. The potty-trained one. The one who poops and pees on cue. The one who... runs right through Ebony's poo and start stamping paw prints all over the white carpet.


So now it's 6:30 AM, there's a pile of diarrhea upstairs, Ebby poo in front of me, and a goofy overgrown puppy leaving poo prints everywhere. Deep breath... all is good.

I told Indie to Sit and Stay while I grab a papertowel. He does. GOOOOOD boy. He even held still (mostly) while I clean his paw.

Then I see Ebony EATING her poo (which she never does)

I absolutely lost it. I mean, I just LOST it. I started hollering fit to wake the dead, and I stood near the poop area guarding it and snarling.

I guess it's a sign that my dogs rarely see me like this because they were startled and curious but mostly unphased and were trying to figure out if it was some new game. They'd have been MORE obedient if I'd just sternly said "Mine" while guarding the area. Wild-eyed, crazy Momma was a new one on them, though.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bah, I say... bah.

Bah. Instructor thinks Novice Competition Obedience will be too advanced for Ebby and I but that we could do Rally if there were spaces; since I don't think there are spaces and Rally is on Thursdays where I'll have two conflicts with a monthly volunteer meeting that I can't skip, I'm going to have to pass for this session and stick with Sub-Novice again. It'll mean having two classes back to back (Indie's Basic class is right before it) which is extraordinarily draining, but I just need to prepare myself that it's okay to cut out early if I peak. Considering the final class ends at 9:45, I don't feel too guilty. At least we do both dogs on the same night so I don't have to leave work early twice a week. Bah, anyway.

Hey, motivation is good. We can use this time to try to bone up anyway. This means we could be in Rally class in July/August, and that's not so bad.


Monday, March 14, 2005


It took me some time to get to this, but Cynthia asked what an Atom feed is. Well, Atom feeds (and RSS feeds) have been around for a long time but I'm just finally jumping on the bandwagon. It's a way to syndicate your blog out so that people can have it delivered much like email.

Most of the major blog software, or at least Blogger and LiveJournal for sure, have the option to have your blog published by atom feed, and it's turned on by default. So I subscribe to Cynthia's blog by using a Feed Reader (currently RSS Owl, was using Sharp Reader but for a memory leak) and subscribing to I also subscribe to Dinah's Having Fun (, Adventures of Bad Hamster (, Jigsaw Thoughts (, and SHU GIRLZ (

I love it because I can read and comment all in one place and I don't have to remember to go check everyone's blogs for updates.

Back in the Saddle

Been a bit since I've blogged. Indie was so sick for four days, no eating and no wanting to eat, vomiting, the works, and he's 100% better now with no explanation of why he was sick in the first place. I guess I'm just glad he's better. After he was sick, I got sick for about 8 days, and thank goodness the dogs were all so patient in the meantime! They definitely got the short end of the stick during that whole time.

I had the horrible disappointment a week or so ago of being closed out of "Heeling, Fronts, and Finishes" with Ebony for the next session of class. That would leave us taking Sub-Novice Obedience, CGC Prep for the 4th time. That class is the last one that's still weighted more heavily toward pet owners than competition focus, so, while it's still no waste of time, I'm bored to tears just thinking about doing it one more time. I realized today that Novice Obedience, the one right after Fronts and Finishes, still has openings, so I've written the instructor for permission to skip ahead to that one. Cross your paws for me.

I spend the weekend at Pawsabilities in Harrisburg, PA working the Friends of Rumble booth. Sunday was slow so I got to spend quite a bit of time watching the Rally O trial, agility run-throughs, and obedience show-n-go. Watching everyone else perform is so motivating to me... it really gets me jazzed up. I don't care about competition for the sake of competing, if that makes sense, but I like having something to strive for. I want to get one of the dogs good enough to take into the ring to participate, even just in run throughs. I REALLY want to do agility, but I'll take what I can get with what the dogs offer. I think Indie will turn out to be my good little agility boy based on the training we're doing now, but we're still a year out from him being old enough to compete, and I don't think Ebby will ever really have the drive for it. So Rally is still what I'm hoping to do as a nice compromise. And we'll do Novice Obedience if it happens while we're at it.

Bad Hamster, there was a woman with an adorable mini-Eskie named Parker that was a little joy to watch in the obedience run-throughs, and I told her about you. Not like it matters that some stranger knows that one of my friends would be jealous of her dear little dog, but there you have it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And Better Still

Indie's a little spitfire again today and very interested in food, so I guess we're less worried that we don't know what caused him to stop eating for four days and more glad that he's our silly little boy again. We're still feeding him very sloooowly and he's visiting with his pals at Ashburn Farm Animal Hospital again today, but he may be back to his old self by the weekend.

Surprisingly, I expected him to drag his feet going back to the vet after Day 3 of getting ditched there, but he pulled eagerly to go in and even looked pleased about getting to his "personal kennel" with blankets and two of his toys. Well, until he realized we were leaving him again. I know they're taking good care of that little pup!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Better Today

Our little boy is doing much better today. He threw up a little this morning, but he was pretty perky before we brought him back to the vet's for the day. He ate a little there and held it down, and he's quite the spitfire tonight. He's going to spend the day with them again tomorrow for more fluids, shots, and observation, but he's looking so much better. It wasn't pancreatitis and still not a clue what it was, but if he's getting better, who cares. Considering his last meal was Friday night, I'm just glad he's upbeat, much less a terror that we're having to keep calm. Poor Ebony just wants her playmate back, but we keep having to break them up. We do so love that baby boy.