Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Meal Time

So, to make up for no individual pictures this weekend, I have video!

I got a neat little inexpensive vidcam, a Kodak PlaySport Zx3--it's waterproof! So come summer, I can make pool videos!

I put together my first little movie of the puppies getting their lunch today, so, enjoy!

Pardon the mumbling commentary--next time, I'll turn up the mic and mumble less!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Schutzhund training seminar weekend

I do not have awesome, amazing, adorable pictures of puppies tonight. :(

Won't you play with me?

I prevailed upon a friend to take over things for me for a couple of days and I took off for parts north to attend a training seminar with Bernhard Flinks. I attended one of his seminars back in 1999 or thereabouts, so some of what I learned was re-learning, some was re-awakening old knowledge, some was just plain good learning.

Flinks takes a very methodical and endgoal-focused approach to schutzhund training--but, as he says, he wishes to train "with kindness"--while still focusing on getting international levels of performance from his own dogs. (That's not to say he's not also excellent with beginning dogs and handlers--indeed, he was very good with some of the brand-new people who were at the seminar, and I very much hope they were able to absorb most of what he was saying.)

One of the conversations that was very interesting to listen into is how much schutzhund training has changed in the past 15 years--the general level of knowledge of training and behavioral theory has greatly advanced and some of the harshest training methods that used to be semi-openly used are broadly disapproved of, discouraged, and for the newer members of the sport, unthinkable. This, I think, is very good.

One of the great joys of the weekend for me, in addition to getting to talk dogs and pedigrees and training and learning theory and drives with like-minded friends, was getting to watch Bandit, the sire of Xita's puppies, go through his paces.
V Bandit v Wolfsheim, KK1a, SchH3, FH

In Bernhard's words, "He is a great dog." He had all his titles (SchH3, FH) by the time he was 2.5 years old so he could be sold, and his fast (and harsh) training left him with some training problems that his handler here in the U.S. has been picking apart and mending a little bit at a time.

Bandit brings the anger to the blind...

She has been greatly successful and I think the training with Bernhard helped to put a bit of polish on these areas of retraining. They worked on speed on the escape bite and running to meet the helper where he was going to be rather than where he had been

I had seen Bandit work in tracking and obedience and had seen videos of him in the bitework. But it was significantly better to watch him in person. He is there on the field with all his heart and is thrilled by the fight with the helper. His courage tests were impressive as he sped up and launched himself in the last feet of the run down the field.

Finally, I got to watch a 7-month-old Bandit daughter get her start in protection...

Monday, March 14, 2011

First Day Outside

all 9 pups
These pups are precocious! At four weeks old, they are very active and forward and quite confident. They're rather rough with Xita when nursing--she seems to grit her teeth and then will growl at them and leap into the other half of the box, leaving them to catch up.

The milk bar is FULL!

The wobble boards and wiggle seats have been crawled, walked, and climbed over--they are completely unfazed by changes in surfaces or moving footing. And they make good pillows!

He looks so sweet and innocent here.
Agility training is hard work!
Yesterday was warm and sunny and clear, so I took the pups outside for their first time. Normally puppies seem kind of lost and worried on their first adventure outside, but not these guys--they were only worried about the heat of the sun--and spent a fair amount of time trying to squeeze into the shade.
Look at little Pandora out there trying to get Oda to play with her!

Oda was in *love* with the puppies. She ended up pressed up against the wire, kissing puppy faces and playing footsie with any puppy who would come her way.

Peregrine checks out Oda.
Pele looks for the exit
The puppies have been starting to show more and more of their personalities. Pagan and Pandora are living up to their names--Pagan is really rough and tumble and bold and showing the beginning of prey drive, grabbing and shaking blankets.

Pagan checks out Oda

Pandora is quite the explorer--she gets into everything! Pele is a sweetie-she makes really intense eye contact, demanding you pick her up, then she calms quickly and just enjoys being snuggled.

Petunia is right much smaller than her siblings--but she's still very confident and adventurous--but also really likes being held--she's quite the kisser if you pick her up.

Panther is big and stout and very forward and so is his brother Pollux (who seems to be hiding from the camera this day!)--they don't hesitate to tell me when they're unhappy--big mouths! I think both of them are going to need working homes. (Which is good, because that's where they're headed!)

So far, Primus and Peregrine aren't showing me their personalities--they seem to be asleep a lot of the time. And Piglet.. err, Puma... well, she's still living up to her name--very confident and food motivated.

Puma, Primus, Petunia, and Panther

See the rest of the pictures from this week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Three weeks--expanding horizons

Puppies are now 3 weeks old and have turned into a horde of adorability. They've started moving toward me whenever I am near them and if I pick them up they gum and lick me, so it's a bit like being pursued by very slow, fuzzy, cute zombies.

Puma and Petunia
I was missing my hand model this weekend, so I have some pictures of the puppies in their newly expanded and enriched habitat.

I haven't turned the TV on for them yet, but that's coming soon!

Primus, black male
The expanded area is the 4x4 Durawhelp box arranged so it rests against the front of the collapsible wooden box I built last summer. Puppies were escaping EVERYWHERE so, I made it so they have twice as much room but they are all safe. And it's pretty easy for Xita to jump in and out.

Xita has added toys to the box--she would like to have every toy in the house in there, but I have taken out anything hard that could hurt a puppy if it were dropped on their heads (e.g., bones). I also added a little wobble board and some balance disks--one with the "smooth" side up and one with the "nubby" side up--so they'll have something else to climb around on and experiment with.

 The wobble board is certainly being explored--they seem to like to climb over it and I've seen a couple of them experiment with standing on it.

Panther sneaks up on the wobble board

Athlete in training!

I don't have pictures of every puppy this week, at least not individual pics. They are all doing great--and they raise quite a ruckus when it's time for lunch, or dinner, or a midnight snack! I'll probably put collars on them next week to make it easier to identify them in the pictures. For me, it's a matter of knowing who is in the photo when I take it and of checking *really* carefully and then double-checking against my notes.

Pollux always has a purpose

Sometimes it's a process of elimination (no pun intended!)

For example, there are two "red sables" who are very tan right now--Pollux, male, and Puma, female. The female doesn't have the white on her chest and she has a different head shape. The male has distinctive black and red markings on his face already.

Pagan is adorable.
There are 3 black sables--big (the male), medium (female), and small (female). The smallest is Petunia and she has a white star on her chest. The medium girl is Pagan--she's the darkest and has a tighter coat than her brother Panther; she's also got a white blaze that is narrow but a couple of inches long. Panther is quite big and has a fluffier coat with gray tips on it (at the moment, at least)--and no white.


Between Pandora and Peregrine, I have to see the toes to tell the difference--at least at this age. They are very similar in appearance. Pandora has the white toes. She also seems to get in more trouble (shocking, I know!).


Peregrine seems a bit milder mannered, although it's hard to be sure.


Friday, March 4, 2011

More Herding and HRD

Blaze (Ilya)
Today, I went herding with Jubilee, and Macha, and Hunter--Jubilee continues to show that she knows what she's doing better than I. And she's going to make me be right so she can be right so the sheep can be right. IOW, don't get in front of her shoulder dummy, and let her balance. The first session she was very good--got out, balanced, downed when asked. Second session, she was a bit wound up and when she sped up instead of downing immediately, I thought maybe I should break and do a bit of "play my way or don't play at all" obedience, but T. said to set her up again and give it a go. So I did.

And Jubilee went hahahaha ..|. and proceeded to blow me off. *Then* we did some HI LOOK I DO EXIST obedience (which is just asking for her to focus on me around the sheep, down, here, no you don't get to try to run forward and grab a sheep tail when I call you away) and sent her around again--and she was beautiful and lay down when asked, and we quit there.

She needs me to have a zero tolerance policy--when I say down, that means RIGHT THEN. Not down in another 20 strides or after you speed up and try to slip by me then grab a tail and try to take down dinner. It's a good reminder--dogs do best with really clear criteria. Not gray lines, not criteria that change depending on the time of day, the mood you're in, or whether you're paying attention.

One day, I will have pictures of my dogs herding again.
Until then, you get pictures of  Blaze playing ball!
Macha was loverly. She needs a "stop" -- that is, I have to teach her a sit and down that isn't just me standing in front of her with cookies. More sits for a ball, with me beside her behind her in front, and more lie downs, same thing, and more stand stays. More stays in general so I can leave her in a stay and move toward the sheep so she can start doing some mini-gathers.

Hunter ... well I saw some things I really liked and I'm figuring out our communication issues. If I say sit, she downs, and if I say down, she has a micro-panic. So, I'll be using a "whoa" command that just means "stop there". But I got some lovely come-by gathers with good attitude and a nice, calm space. She likes the come-by (clockwise) work--so we'll be doing a bit more of that direction as she and I continue to build our communication bridge.

After morning herding (we started early!), I audited a search training seminar by Jonni Joyce--learned a lot just from listening. Learned that any discussion of cadaver dog training can be subpoena'd if your dog ever has to go to court about a find. So, it's generally inadvisable to talk much about cadaver dog training specifics other than your training logs.

At some point during the early afternoon, L. and I snuck off to take a few pictures of Blaze in his vest, doing his favorite thing EVER--playing ball. That was a lot of fun--Blaze reminds me a lot of his grandmother Frost. :). Also, I get awful bossy when you put a camera in my hands--Go over there. No, there. Back up. Further. Do that again. Stand still. Throw it again. Not at my head!!!!  Other side of the road. No, the other other side!

 And then I got to see Nora for the first time in months and months! She GREW!!!!