Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parker's Big Outing

Yesterday I took Parker back to the training center to watch a rally class. Not to participate, but just to watch. He did really well, politely greeting some other dogs and renewing his love affair with Missy, the Golden Retriever. He said hello to a couple of people, but was mostly standoffish to them, which was okay.

I wanted to go, not only because it’s fun to watch rally, and to get Parker out, but because I had taken Emmy to the vet’s that morning for some teeth extractions, and I was nervous about that. I needed something to keep me occupied. As I was leaving the class, I got a call from the vet. Emmy had taken the surgery well and was in recovery. Ten teeth taken! She only has two left. One fang and one front tooth.

As usual when I take Parker out, he got home exhausted and just slept most of the day. I went to get Emmy around 5:30, with a stop at the grocery store for a supply of soft food for her. She’s on only soft stuff for at least a week and maybe forever. Damn, that stuff is expensive! When I got her home, I kept Parker in his crate while Emmy and Tilly went outside. The vet said to keep Emmy’s activity level restricted for a few days, and Parker tends to play chase games with her, so I thought it best to keep him inside while Tilly and Emmy were out. When they came in, I went to release Parker, Emmy at my heels. As soon as I opened his crate, he bounced over to Emmy, who snarled at him and lifted a lip -- a rather pathetic sight with only two teeth, but Parker immediately dropped to the ground and rolled over onto his belly. For the rest of the evening, Emmy put Parker through his paces. With really very little effort on her part, she kept him racing around the house. Then she took a break and went to *his* bed. That stopped him in his tracks.

At least it kept him occupied and allowed me to get some serious knitting done.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day One of Basic 2

I’m thinking this might have been a mistake. I should have paid more attention to the syllabus. I thought it would be more obedience training -- off leash work, fetching, that sort of thing. Turns out the goal of the class is to prepare the dogs for passing the Canine Good Citizen test. So there will be lots of hands on stuff. Hands on by someone other than me.

The teachers seemed to think that Parker did really well. Personally, I think he was just to rigid with fear to do anything other than hold his sit while strangers either pet him or took over his leash while I walked away.

However, he didn’t try to jump on anyone (like the Lab or the Golden). On the other hand, he didn’t happily lick the face of someone leaning over to scratch a chest (the little Chin mix) or roll over onto his belly (Cocker) for a rub. I never got a chance to interact with the Airedale.

One of the teachers suggested I take Parker out everyday to local strip malls, pet stores and wherever else I can get him to walk amongst strangers. Damn it, I *hate* socializing personally and now I need to do it more with my dog.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've decided to let him live

I was sitting in the living room, quietly knitting, wearing a brand new white shirt, thinking how soft it felt and how much I liked it. That’s when Parker came up to me and laid his head on my shoulder. Cute, huh?

Except he had just finished munching on a black gel pen.

On the rug.


I used almost an entire can of spot remover on the rug (didn’t do much good) and I’m afraid to look into the washing machine to see if my new shirt is salvageable.

Parker Makes it onto the Bed!

Several years ago, Tilly’s arthritis prevented her from making it onto the bed. She would try and try and cry and cry when she couldn’t do it. In order to help her up, Mike getting tired of getting out of bed to lift her up, we bought a couple of ottomans to put at the foot of the bed to give her a boost. That worked for a while, but this winter her nights curled around our feet were few and far between. She usually sleeps on an old down comforter on the floor of our bedroom on those nights when she even bothers to join us instead of sleeping in her bed in the den. But the ottoman’s remain there (they’re good hiding places for Christmas presents that accumulate during the year).

As for Parker, although he has demonstrated that he can leap small buildings in a single bound, he’s never figured out how to get onto the bed. A few weeks ago he finally got one hind leg onto an ottoman, but couldn’t figure out how to use them as stepping stones. This is the same dog who can leap five steps at a time onto the deck from the yard with plenty of clearance. But, in the mornings, when I’m trying to sleep in, he will get at most his front paws onto the bed by my head and whine.

I’ve been doing physical therapy every morning for a coupla months now which include exercises with me lying on the bed. Since only one arm is in motion during most of my exercises, Parker obviously thinks it’s a waste of a good petting arm not to employ that other arm, so he usually positions himself to make that easier for me. But when I’m on the bed, he just gets his two front paws on the bed, one hind foot on the ottoman and tries to figure out how to get to me.

This morning he finally figured it out and I found a very excited dog bouncing on the bed next to me as I tried to exercise. Laughter may be good medicine but it doesn’t do much for physical therapy. Not that I care.

Once those exercises were over and I got off the bed I got some more good laughs in as he tried to figure out how to get down, which he eventually did. While I continued with several exercises using both arms (nothing left over to pet with), he got up and down from the bed several times, as if cementing the process into his brain.

Looks like those morning lie ins may be a thing of the past.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jumping the gun

Okay, so classes don’t start until *next* week. So I have eight days to get Parker trained.



Just a test

Sometimes software sucks.


My calendar just notified me that tomorrow is the first day of Basic 2. I had had grand plans for having Parker spot on with Basic 1 commands.

Not gonna happen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I guess Harvard is out of the question

I decided to try the Dog IQ test. ( Not that I think it’s the be all and end all of measuring devices, but what the hell.

First test was treat under a soup can (show the dog the treat, put it under a soup can and encourage him to get the treat) and Parker scored a four out of five. Not so bad.

The second was a towel over the head (throw a towel over the dog’s head and shoulders and see how long he takes to shake it off. Parker got a five out of five on that one, although his initial response was to not move, which I rather liked.

Third: this was weird. When you get the dog’s attention, count three seconds and smile broadly. The dog is supposed to respond to this by coming toward you. Parker didn’t budge. Possibly because he was wondering about this strange facial expression on a person who rarely does it. So he got a one out of five. Wasn’t possible to get a zero.

Fourth: covering food with a towel, see how long it takes the dog to get it. Again, it wasn’t possible to get a zero, so Parker got a one although he didn’t make any moves toward the towel. Neither, for that matter, did Emmy when I tried that one with her. Didn’t want to wake Tilly up to give her a try.

Fifth: put a treat under a low table so that the dog has to use its paws to get it. Parker got a two for trying to sniff it and get it with his muzzle. No paws.

Sixth: Call the dog’s name in a happy voice, but the name is “refrigerator.” Parker turned his head but kept where he was. Do it again, using the word, “Movies.” Same response. “Parker” brought him right to me, so he got a five out of five for that one.

Total score: 18

Web scoring sheet:

Over 25 points...
Your dog is a genius
15 - 25 points....
Your dog is smart, but won't go to Harvard
5 - 15 points......
Your dog is not too bright, but is most likely very cute
Below 5 points..
Your dog must be an Afghan

Stupid test.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just when I was thinking he was clever

Yesterday, while I was knitting, Parker wandered off. I meant to follow him, but wanted to finish counting stitches first. That’s when I hear him whimper. So I went off to find him. Walked all over the house -- no Parker. So I called his name and followed the sounds of him in distress to the closed door to the bathroom. That would be the bathroom where the kibble bin is in the closet. Apparently he had gone into the bathroom and, in an effort to get to the kibble, had closed the door. I opened the door to be greeted by one very happy boy, thrilled that I own opposable thumbs.

You might think this falls into the category of lesson learned. Au contraire. I went back to my knitting, had just sat down and realized he hadn’t followed. Sounds of whimpering. Yes, he had gone right back into the bathroom and done it again.

After four of these episodes, I finally closed the door to the bathroom, but, when I went to Tai Chi class last night, with Parker in his crate, I left the bathroom door open. When I got home and released him, he went outside with the other dogs, came in with them and -- yep, closed himself in the bathroom again.

So much for a Poodle’s superior intelligence and ease of training.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Training outside of class

I’d really like to see some serious progress with Parker before Basic 2 Classes start in a month, which means getting serious about training between now and then.

Yesterday, armed with about thirty tiny pieces of cheese, we ran through sits, downs and target stick work. He started out enthusiastic enough, but the requests for downs slowed that way down.

Today I had about the same amount, but we did less. Just lots of jackpots for downs. But we added a few comes and he did -- okay. The really good result was that, although he started the day full of zoomies, a short training session seemed to have taken it out of him, so I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done while he snoozes out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day Eight -- It's Over

Hard to believe that today was the last class. We just did some heeling to warm up and then the teachers set up a rally course. (1) 360 to the left, (2) 270 to the right, (3) Halt -- one step, two steps, three steps (with sits after each), (4) 270 to the right, (5) sit then down) (6) stop, lace dog in front, finish to the left, (7) 180 to the left, (8) weave around four pylons twice, and (9) finish.

Parker and I got called second, “Because this will be a breeze for you,” although the “judge/teacher” said she would stay far away from us so as not to scare Parker. Then she proceeded to stay just a few feet away, so Parker was less than perfect. And the down was a complete loss.

Then, while we waited for the rest of the class to go through the course, I got into it with one of the teachers. She said she didn’t like rally and preferred obedience. I said I found obedience to be somewhat artificial. Not exactly politically correct, and she didn’t like that much.

Then, with little time left, we did a heel-off. We started out heeling, with some about turns thrown in and then, when the teacher said, “Halt,” the dog which sat last was out. Now, in Parker’s defense, he was the only dog heeling with a loose leash (I had it thrown over my shoulder to free both hands) and the only dog who sat without getting hauled up on a choke chain with one hand and who didn’t get his butt pushed down with the other.

He was great. Okay, his sits were crooked, but he was very responsive. However, when the person in position nine was called out, instead of doing what I’ve done in all the class sessions -- cutting across the ring when the folks in front of us started to bunch up -- I started out at their snail’s pace. Wo when the person just called out came right up behind us, and the teacher called, “Halt,” as Parker started his immediate sit, he got a nose in his butt, which made him pop back up and knocked us out of the running. My competitive juices were pissed.

And now it’s four weeks before we go back for Basic 2.