Black Acorn Dogs

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More from the road

Another airport, another blog entry. Today was Columbus, Ohio to come meet with my marvelous development team. The weather is really nice and I'm sorry I brought a jacket, although last Friday when I was in NY, I was sorry I hadn't worn layers because I was freezing all day.

Ebby had another fabulous class this week. When we get to class these days, I switch from the big heavy hemp leash that we use for normal walking to this teeny tiny leather leash that's intended for toy dogs. I still take her by the collar during parts of class when we're in tight quarters because she'll snap that thing in a second if she hits the end of it excitedly, but it's amazing to me that this is the same dog who years ago I doubted would ever be able to simply walk past other dogs without going nuts. I have her signed up for another Rally Obedience trial in May and this time around, I'm hoping that we won't just qualify but may also make placements (translation: you need to score 170 points out of 200 to "Qualify", but placements means getting a first through fourth place ribbon. Any number of dog/hander teams can "Q" but only the top four scores "place". Three "Q"s and you earn the "title" for that level of competition. We got our 3 Qs but we weren't in any danger of winning the class any of those times.)

We're in a very frustrating place with Indie. We're still working on his reactivity with other dogs, and we're making progress, but I'm in a place where I want to see improvements more quickly than what is realistic. I've really been having to step back and remind myself to take it slow. It's easier to give that advice than to take it though. Last week I'd been advising someone that they needed to take a particular training exercise much much much more slowly than they were doing it. "Slow and steady wins the race," I said. "Practice the easy stuff before you push the harder stuff so you can build a strong foundation," I said. "Take what your dog finds easy and practice one step *easier*," I said. I got home and realized I really need to take my own advice. Sheesh, don't you hate when that happens?

I'm looking forward to the Dulles Pet Expo this weekend. Our local Shiloh club (ISSDC/SE -- International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club, Southeast) has a booth, so I'll be spending quite a bit of time on booth duty. I'll probably bring Ebby out for a little bit if it's not too crazy in there.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Apparently exhaustion + a cup of half caffeine/half decaf coffee for a non-consumer of caffeine does not equal "somewhat perked up". It equals exhausted plus a little twitchy. Bah.

I'm still really excited about the new van. I really love driving it, and that includes two trips out on the Beltway where there are high speeds at bumper to bumper with hairy-scary lane changes and all. In some ways maybe it was actually even less hairy-scary in the van since I'm higher and have better visibility. Or maybe people just get the heck out of my way... who knows! At any rate, I had to drive the Rav4 somewhere Saturday and I was sorry I wasn't driving the van, so that's a good sign that I won't end up with buyer's remorse that I'm selling my little vehicle. Yes, parking will still be a bitch, but I can deal.

On a similar note, my gas tank holds 32 gallons. I almost choked on my own tongue when I saw how much it cost to fill from needle being on E. (Hint: it was more than $80!). Thankfully that tank should last me for more than a month of regular driving. No word yet on what my gas milage will be though.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Van Story

On airplane to NY again, so you get a blog entry. Ha ha. (Actually, now I'm on the shuttle bus from Teterboro Airport in NJ into Manhattan, but let's not be picky.)

The story behind the van is that I can't fit more than one dog crate in either of our current vehicles. Both dogs can fit in either vehicle crateless, and that's fine for trips to the woods and that sort of thing, but it doesn't work for training classes where I have both dogs and need to have them take turns. Once warm weather hits (which won't be long!) they can only be left in a vehicle if I can leave doors and windows open, hence the crate requirement. The van will also make it more practical to take trips with the dogs, say back and forth to NY, and the plan is to have enough room to be able to sleep back there as well. At minimum, I'll probably use it to do overnighters at some of the trials I go to since anything more than 2.5 hours round trip is a little much to do back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday. So, we'll see how it goes. It's a little scary to be getting rid of the Rav4. It's been a really great little mini-SUV and I'd fully expected to have it 10+ years. It's been nice having so much cargo space but compact car parking. It's also going to be weird stepping down from a new-ish Toyota with bells and whistles to a 10-year old vehicle with... power windows and door locks (doesn't even a low gas light!). I'm excited about it though. I've been looking forward to doing this for a while.

I'm going to try to put up some pictures this weekend. I especially want to try to get one of the Rav4 in front of the van, like one of those illustrations in the science books where they show how a city bus next to an apatasaurus or T-Rex. I'll try to put up a shot of my new haircut too since I know there are a few enquiring minds.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Introducing.... our new BeastMobile! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Photo from ISSDC SE Event

Ebony and me at the Shiloh CGC & Temperment Test Day

Another Airplane Update

(This is actually from Wednesday but I forgot to post it)

There's something about when I'm in an airplane that gets me in the mood to blog. Maybe it's the fact that I have 15-30 minutes of sitting quietly that get me reflective. Maybe there's something about seeing the sun setting from above the Earth that makes me want to reach out to my fellow humans. Or maybe I'm just bored since there's no Internet access and I can't surf the web. I guess we'll never know for sure.

I meant to post two weeks ago after our first ISSDC Southeast event (International Shiloh Shepherd Dog club). It was about two hours south of us near Culpepper, VA, and I took Ebby with me. I couldn't have been more proud of her. Not only did she weather the two-hour drive well, but she had a very polite meet-and-greet with a young female Shiloh immediately after getting out of the car, before she even had a chance for a potty break or anything. While we were there, she strutted her stuff by continuing to show herself off as a well-mannered little lady. She was very polite with all the other dogs, and she was about as obedient as I've ever seen her. This turned out to be a Very Good Thing because I let her loose in the training room when we were all on lunch break, and she was extremely interested in everyone's food. We do NOT beg or mug people for food at home, but clearly we weren't at home, were we? It was a good thing that she knows the command "Leave It" so well because I think she came really close to sampling Heather's sandwich right out of her hand while Heather was distracted chatting with someone else (and not expecting a dog to come share her lunch, I'm sure). After that close call, we practiced stays at my feet while I made my lunch, and then more stays at my feet while I ate it. Heh heh.

At the end of the day she got to have a romp with her old foster-brother, Much, and I think that alone made it worth 4 hours in the car for her. She adores her boy Much. She adores him so much that she tries to leap on the head of every other huge male Shiloh she sees, whether they want it or not. That's one of her remaining social skills she hasn't quite figured out yet. She gravitates right to the biggest male in the pack and tries to initiate Chase & Pounce. That's one we'll keep working on.

The next day, Sunday, Ebby had her first obedience run-throughs (aka practice trial). It was the first for both of us, actually. She did really well there too, and continued to make me proud. We're really not ready to go into actual trials for a while yet I think, but the run-through helped me see where we need to practice. I have it on video tape thanks to my marvelous father and step-mother and this year's Christmas present, so I may put it online at some point in case anyone is interested to see.

I'm really jazzed about the camcorder for taping practices and trials, and I'm now extra jazzed because we got Diane a DVD-R as her Christmas present (belated) and what that means for me is that I can take all the trial and practice tapes and burn them on DVD, which is a FABULOUS way to save them for watching again later. Not only will the quality hold up, but it's all indexable by chapter so I don't have to go searching if there's a particular 4-minute segment I want to see. Considering 1 DVD will be comprised of about 30 4-minute segments, this is way cool.

Ebby started class again last night; still Novice [Competition] Obedience. She again made me very proud. We've started practicing regularly again though, after me slacking through most of the winter. She's good enough that I can slide by a lot of the time, although we do have some weeks like the second-to-last of last session where she was all over the place and kept wanting to leave the building! Just goes to show that we all get our good days and bad days. Dog training keeps you humble.

Neither of Indie's classes start until next week. He's doing Sub-Novice/CGC again (4th time). This time his litter-mate Saphira will be in class with us, which should be fun. He's flunked the CGC the last three times and I expect to flunk it again this time, but we'll see. We fail on dog/dog reaction (have to be able to pass another dog and handler calmly... we can't get near enough before he starts a barking fit) and the 3-minute away (have to be able to hand him off to another person and go out of sight for 3 minutes. It doesn't go well, but we're also bad mamas because we don't drag other people in to practice it out of class.