Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book: One Nation Under Dog

I finished reading this last week. There are a lot of books that explore the ways people interact with dogs, but Schafer's book was primarily focused on the industries surrounding dog owners. High tech vet facilities, Bravo's processing, Kong history, and what I found most dog training.

Overall, I thought it was well done, not extremely biased one way or the other (...though not completely un-biased!), and an interesting/fast read. If you have some spare time, read a few chapters. I do find it easy to forget how big the pet industry is and that there are no ends to what people are doing for animals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great Weekend, Trialing and Camping!

On Sunday, I took the boys to a local APDT Rally trial. For once, things were on schedule and as usual I was behind schedule. We signed up for the afternoon Level 1 Classes.

I hadn't crated indoors with two dogs before, both Blaze and Luna do much better in the car. With an 80* day and high humidity that was not an option! Griffin learned how to behave in a crate, our good friend assisted in that when I was busy with Blaze. Blaze spent some time in the crate but in general, he's not doing so well right now making crating very. hard.

Blaze wasn't as responsive as he sometimes can be, but we completed the course, he didn't have a seizure in the ring, and we had some good moments. We (finally) got our second L2 leg and a third place! If I had handled things a little better (verbal AND visual cues instead of just one), we would have done even better.

Griffin thought the chicken sandwich on the stewards table looked delicious. We have good stationary exercises but (not a surprise) lack in duration on heeling. After about half the course I asked to leave and we headed out. I didn't want to continue with the (lack of) heeling we had.

We packed up very quickly to take Blaze home and repack the car. Griffin and I went with friends on an adventurous camping trip with missing items, getting lost (a lot) and way too much food. Griffin is fabulous and thinks camping is the lifestyle! He hung around our area and would try to solicit petting and snacks from everyone. In the tent he would alternate between cuddling up with me or curling in a corner. Occasionally he would try to use someone else as a pillow.

Pictures to come as well as some discussion on obedience training.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Water and Responsible Pet Ownership

We hear a lot about responsible pet ownership and welfare for our cats, dogs, and horses. We hear about welfare concerns for exotics and livestock. But other animals matter too.

Griffin and I were teaching a Rally class at the groom shop tonight and were interupted by someone coming in to ask about fish care. His place of work had betta fish needing homes. He had two out in his car and he needed help in knowing how to care for them. (And I have to wonder... he stopped at a grooming shop?)

We very quickly talked about care and where to get more information. The story came out, the fish were the leftover from a big event held yesterday. If homes weren't found, they would be "disposed of." The fish were from wedding centerpieces.

I'm sure the fish looked wonderful, and they could be an appropriate decoration. But to then leave them for the hotel to deal with ("dispose of" or go to homes that didn't really want them)? That's a bit scary.

Griffin enjoys being under water too. Here's a repeat of what he's done in the creek. Too silly!

Enjoying the Water

This is one of Griffin's favorite things to do. I'm not sure how he learned to hold his breath underwater....but he will stay under for 5+ seconds!

We've been focusing on duration of stays and heeling in preparation for this summers activities.

Training has been happening everywhere we go, visiting about 6 different places a week, half of them 'new locations'. I do need to get better about spreading these visits out over the week instead of doing 4+ on many days and none on others. And what do we do at all these places? For the most part, we work on the behaviors we focus on at home. Front, Left/Right Finishes, Heeling, Stays, Attention, Sits, and Down Mostly un-cued responses, working towards the fluency we get at home and the shop.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finding Appropriate Professionals

With the health and behavior challenges we have faced with Blaze, we have received help from many different people; local and not-so-local training/behavior professionals, our local vet, not-so-local specialists, local specialists, and many friends.

Today we had a trip to visit the neurologist at MedVet and had a good time. This was my first time to MedVet, though I'd heard the many horror stories of high fees. We weren't visiting as an emergency so our bill was very reasonable! More importantly the vets we met were very professional and excellent about explaining things.

The trip didn't result in good news or bad news. The aspects of Blaze's seizures and less than normal behaviors make it very likely that there was some sort of permenant non-changing damage to his brain. This news does not really change much, and as we already knew he would never attain 'normalness'.

Where would we be if we had not met with the neurologist? With our many vets? With the behavior consultant that sent us to the veterinary behaviorist? What if I had stuck with the initial advice from a very well-meaning instructor that "He needs to know what he is doing wrong. You need to spend more time training him. This is a simple training issue." I can't begin to imagine what situations we would be in or my frustration levels.

Please do what is necessary to find appropriate professionals. Check out this article from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior about how to choose an animal professional. Get your network of professionals and get the help that your pet needs.

Happier things and my new training tool later!