Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Where did my little Puppy go????

Lola Sprout is 4 months old today!

I took some shots to compare her to the other dogs...don't know if you can tell how big she's gotten, but she's gaining on Penny...and Sherman!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, so I took a personal day. My appt was at 8:20 & that left me w/ the rest of the day to do my own thing. The weather is turning cold...I shouldn't complain, it is February...and I decided to take all 3 dogs on their own walks.

This is by far Sherman's favorite thing on Earth (besides me!). I walk him on a 16 ft Flexi and he has lots of room to "hunt" in the neighborhood. I know a lot of people dislike Flexi leads, but I wouldn't walk him on it if I didn't think it was safe. First of all, I know how to use the darn thing. So many people forget there is a button that will stop the lead from spooling. Second, Sherman hates the street & will not step foot into it unless I do or I tell him OK. He basically ignores any other people, dogs or cats (unless they have food), but will zero in on a squirrel if it falls in front of his face. But, I have really good voice control over him & that's never been an issue. Basically his main concern is peeing on everything in sight & "securing the neighborhood".

Penny is a doll and a different dog when it's just her. I work a lot on LLW w/o the Easy Walk and she is wonderful. I also make a point of practicing heeling, but give her plenty of sniff time.

Lola is a trip. Eveything is still new to her. She think everyone wants to be her friend. We see someone across the street & it's like "PEOPLE!!"...her butt wiggles and she dances around. Most of them keep walking, but we did get a Police officer & an Ambulance driver to stop. Both were in uniform and she didn't think anything of it. I really need to find a mailman!

This is us at the library checking out the pond...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

We had another great class at WPHS...both for what was being taught & what we learned ourselves. Lola had a great play session & is officially out of her shell. Marsha brings her dog, Madison, to class & Maddy is really great w/ the puppies. At one point, one of the black LabX pups was getting a bit too rough w/ Lola & Maddy heard the squeals and flew across the room to correct the Lab. It was really cool to watch. While I was busy watching the other dogs play, Marsha pointed out that Lola got in the middle of two squabbling pups and diffused the situation. Good girl! I'm sorry i missed it.

We continued to review real life things...this week it was more handling, Down & cutting toenails. The toenail part took quite a bit of time as there are 12 or so pups in class and Marsha demonstrated individually how to do each puppy's nails. While she was doing that, Lola & I practiced Downs. I no longer have to lure her w/ food, but do use a hand signal in addition to the cue. She really is getting it. By the end of class, she was offering Down's more than Sit. That is saying a lot b/c Lola Sits for EVERYTHING. It's her default. That was done on purpose and I need to start reinforcing Down as much as Sit this week.

I don't know if you can tell by this picture, but Lola is all long legs & big feet right now. She has gotten so big, I can't believe it. I almost can't lift her!

When anyone asks how Sherman is dealing with our new addition , I reply..."He's waiting for her to leave". Truth is...Sherm is warming to her. It will be gradual, but eventually they'll be buds like he & Penny became. It just takes some time. This picture would not have happened a month ago.

Ok...so he doesn't look thrilled. But that's Sherman for ya! He's in a perpetual state of grumpiness!!

Friday, February 24, 2006

What's that saying...Life gets in the way. I haven't posted in a few days b/c work has been really busy and I really haven't done diddly w/ my dogs. Other than the usual walk, play, feed, sleep.

I realize I have concentrated most of this Blog on Lola and this is "The Dog(S) of Jackman Avenue". I will make sure to post more about Sherman & Penny. Lola is just so new right now...and she's learning so fast and so much. I haven't had Penny in class for many months...but we go back starting March 13th! Penny loves to learn and really loves class. I love taking her to class. That one on one time is really precious & I promise to give her more of that.

Sherman is just Sherman and his daily life is pretty routine. I don't do a whole lot of specific training w/ him other than daily life stuff. He's an old man, set in his ways. TBH, he's not a whole lot of fun to train, esp in a class setting. That sounds terrible but he doesn't have fun & I don't have fun. All he wants to do is jump on the other dogs and I end up frustrated. We do our bonding on our walks, which he gets...just me & him, at least once a week. He would take that any day over a class.

So, while I'm still gonna post lots about Lola...I'll make sure to include the original 2 in my updates!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

We graduated from the AF class today! Lola did everything that was asked of her and has made amazing progress from her first class 5 weeks ago. She did her puppy push-ups like a champ (granted...we used a little luring), walked well on leash (believe it or not!), showed that she'd let me take anything away from her & has great food bowl manners (no doubt due to LOTS of practice at home).

And as you can see...she's no longer afraid to run w/ the other dogs!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

As if I needed another reason not to want kids...the little brats in my neighborhood gave me one today. Scotty took Lola on a walk & I got to walk Sherman & Penny. As it was a gorgeous day and I knew CA ave would be crawling w/ people walking their dogs, I took them through the neighborhood. Shortly after leaving the house we walk toward two boys riding their bikes. They make no attempt to share the sidewalk & kept coming in our direction. I pulled S&P over to the side as there was no indication that they were going to go onto the street and they just rode past us. I stood there for a minute thinking "Wait a minute...I'm the one that pays the taxes for this stupid sidewalk & I'm the grownup here. They should have stopped & let ME pass".

So we kept going & I was still irked by the whole thing b/c I detest bratty, obnoxious kids. Then about 1/2 a block down the street I hear what sounds like an industrial fan followed by a SSSCCRREACHHHH behind me as the kids hit their brakes & ride up on the hill side right next to us. I jump about 10 feet in the air, Penny whips around...teeth bared, hackles up, fire in her eyes...and the little punk is standing there w/a smirk on his face that I had to restrain myself from knocking right off his stupid little face.

"Ya know...that's a great way to get yourself bit" Still smirking "And if you don't think that my dog is quicker than you, try it again & we'll see how fast it takes her to latch onto your leg" Smirk slowly turns into a frown.

Sheesh! So we continue on our walk & on the way back I have to pass by the same kid...still riding his bike down the sidewalk. So I just crossed the street. More for his safetly than mine b/c if he pulled that again, I would have to level him. Out comes Mom from the house...calling him to come in. Little brat starts giving her more backtalk than I did in my whole career as a kid. Mom continues to call him & he continues to backtalk her. I can still hear them when I'm a block away.

So I start thinking...maybe it's not the kids I hate...maybe it's the parents.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It was incredibly beautiful today & I took advantage of the nice weather by taking Lola for another walk. More of the same from yesterday...she was near perfect. She did start to pull a bit in the beginning, but after two or three times stopping, she got the point. Toward the end of the walk, she really started to lag behind. She'd just stand there & stare at me. I think the walk might have been a bit long for her (about 25 minutes). I picked her up and carried her about 25 steps, put her down & she was fine.

I like this block though b/c it exposes her to lots of different things. If the weather holds out tomorrow, I may drive her up to Bellevue & walk her through that section of CA Ave. She'll get all kinds of exposure there!!

We had a very good training session tonight. I started w/ Attention. She getting really good at this. Of course there are no distractions and I need to start adding in small ones. There's time for that. Then we started working on Down again. I lured it about 10 times & then just started using my finger to target the spot. She was confused at first, but I waited it out & she got it in a short time. Then the phone rang & it was my Mom. While talking on the phone I was careful to
keep my eye on her b/c she was still in the Zone. She offered quite a few Sits which I C/T and then I stopped rewarding Sit. I ignored while I talked on the phone & wouldn't ya know it...she slid into a Down & stared a hole in my head! Jackpot! The last treat I threw away from her so she'd have to get up. She walked back over to me & plopped into another Down! We continued this about 15 more times & then I ran out of food. I threw a toy at her & we played Fetch for a minute or two. She may graduate after all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I took Lola on her first real walk tonight. My plan was to see how she did to the end of the street & then go further if she wasn't pulling. As I haven't really done any LLW training yet, I decided to put Penny's Easy Walk harness on her & see what would happen. She's gotten so big that if I tighten the harness as far as it will go, it fits her.

We had a blast. Lola was so fascinated w/ everything and took it all in stride. She got to meet the two Bearded Collies that live on our block & was as sweet as could be. When we hit California Avenue, she was exposed to all kinds of new things...kids on bikes, a bus, another dog across the street & a very loud power generator. She also met a nice little girl (and jumped on her more than I would like) and her mom. She didn't pull at all and alternated sticking by my side and getting brave & walking ahead of me a bit. I really like that when she's unsure about something, she turns to me rather than reacts. I reinforced that a lot. I didn't take any treats w/ me b/c I knew she wouldn't take them. Turns out I didn't need them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

We did it! I love this puppy! I was bound & determined to get Lola to get Down tonight. I've tried lots of things short of shoving her on the floor (which I obviously would never do). Luring didn't work, surprisingly...the old fashioned way (puppy in a sit, draw a line to the floor & out), under the knee, on the stairs, under a chair...nada. I tried caputuring a down (ummm...she's 15 weeks, she doesn't lay down much!), but nothing. Admittedly, I really didn't put a lot of time into this behavior, so I'm committing myself to getting a nice Down on cue from her by Saturday.

Took about 3 minutes and a hunk of cheese. Geez. And I thought this was gonna be hard. Looking back, I realized I tried to get this from her in class or while S&P were nearby....too much distraction. I got about 20 Downs & 25 puppy pushups. By the end I was able to fade the lure and use my finger as a target. We practiced Attention and then called it a night.

After a couple of weeks of quiet nights, the last few days have brought on a fun new late night event. Shrill, ear splitting barking at 2:00 in the morning. Started on Friday...Scott was sound asleep (thanks to the Penn Brewery) & slept through the whole thing. She barked for about 15 minutes. I waited it out & she eventually barked herself to sleep. Saturday night, she started at around 1:30. I was willing to ignore her again, but Scotty was not so patient. After about 90 seconds, he screamed "SHUT THE (insert 4 letter word) UP!!!!". Surprisingly, that didn't work (grin) so he went downstairs to sleep on the couch. I pulled her crate next to the bed and went back to week 1 of putting my hand at the front of the door. About 30 seconds of whining & I got the "I give up" sigh and heard her plop onto the dog bed. The snoring started about 60 seonds later. Sunday night I heard her whining & didn't wait for the barking to start. I pulled the crate next to the bed & she was silent the rest of the night. I think I'm getting smarter.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

2nd class at WPHS. My mom & I went to lunch at Bravo & then she came with me. I love this class! Marsha is fantastic...and her assistant is really great too. The puppies had a chance to run around at the beginning of class and as you can see...Lola is no wallflower!

She's the white blur in the middle

The brown one is Lola's boyfriend...Chester. He was cheating on her in this shot.

Lola and her buddy Sadie. These two play together for the majority of the play time.

After about 10 minutes, we all got down on the floor and got the puppies into a Settle. I didn't get Lola to lay down, but she was Standing & Sitting w/o any barking or fussing the entire time. Next week we're going to be trimming nails so we also did some handling of feet. Lola's not a big fan of handling yet. We did some more work on Sit & Attention, reviewing what was learned last week. Lola has great attention at home and I need to gradually work on it w/ distractions. This is trying to move from point A to Z! Yet another thing to work on this week. Her Sit is great as she has to do it at least 50 times per day for anything she wants. Two things new for the week were Come & Wait. Marsha empahasised that she wants us to learn real life behaviors and will get to the fun stuff later.

For Come, we basically walked away from the puppies, called them to us and rewarded them. Lola had no problems with this. Wait was "wait at the door for me to go through first". Lola knows wait at the back door to go out, but this has not been transferred to any other doors. But she did fine. The hardest part was getting her to sit when she knew there was a fun puppy right behind her!!

The final thing we did was discuss luring. Marsha demonstrated the concept by having the puppies Spin. This was a piece of cake for us!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

4th puppy class at AF. Lola has finally emerged from her shell & loves to play w/ the other puppies. We reviewed Leave it, Come & Drop it from last week and did some more work on Down. **Nope...I am not laying down no matter how much peanut butter is involved!!** ~sigh~ Looks like I need to get my butt back in the bathroom. We WILL be able to down by graduation!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Snow is delicious!!

We were supposed to get this huge snow storm this weekend, but it blew east & missed us. We did get some snow...enough for the girls to run around in. Lola has taken a liking to eating it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So the funniest thing that happened all day...Penny squished herself in Lola's crate. B/c the crate in the bedroom is still too big, I took the "roof" off of the little plastic crate. This is the perfect size for her b/c she can stand up & lay down very comfortably but I've blocked off all of the extra room so she can't pee in it.

Apparently Penny misses her crate b/c this is how Scotty found her at bedtime.

Sorry Sweetpea...but you don't fit!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I had a bit of a breakthrough tonight...not only w/ Lola, but w/ myself. I was actually successful free shaping a behavior! This is a big deal to me b/c I've attempted this w/ Penny & just end up frustrated. I have the patience of...well, a puppy! But Lola is a clean slate and I thought I'd really give it a go. I gave myself 15 minutes to free shape Go to Mat. I put a blanket in the middle of the floor in the bedroom & then sat down on the bed. Lola went through her best behaviors...sit, attention & targeting (my hand). This was my warm up. Then I waited. She sat & stared for 20 seconds...then her head turned toward the blanket (C/T). 5 more seconds...head turn (C/T)...body turn (C/T)...walk toward blanket (C/T)...front feet on blanket (C/T), etc. It took 7 minutes before she was running to the blanket w/ all 4 feet in a little puppy sit. Yippee! Success!! Ideally I want her to lay down, but I stopped w/ our victory.

Without even realizing it, I have been gearing my training toward Sue Ailsby's Levels.


I've referenced her website on more than one occasion and have read & re-read Stich's Blog many times. But I was looking at it this weekend & realized...Lola was just about ready to pass level 1. I need to work more on Down, but we're a nosehair short of passing. Not too shabby @ 15 weeks. We also have a nice start on Level 2.

I'm focusing on this right now so I can get a clear picture of just what I'm trying to teach Lola. Level 2 is the basic behaviors I really feel all dogs should have. Does this mean Sherman & Penny could pass Level 2??? Ha!! Penny could (w/ the exception of Distance...I could have her doing that in a day)...Sherman No. But I think I could get him to pass w/in a week if I worked w/ him every day. Do I see a challenge for myself??? Maybe.

I do think too many behaviors are added between Level 1 & 2. But I didn't make the whole thing up, did I??? Maybe I'll make up my own Level 1.5.

I'm hoping Debby will be my tester. I really want to do this right & have someone "judge" my progress. It's way more fullfilling that way.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Today was the day to recover from the SuperBowl. I'm pretty sure I had every muscle clentched during the entire game b/c I feel like I've been hit by a truck.

Lola also had a trip to the vet. I'm lucky that I can walk there so I took the opportunity to practice our LLW. Right now Lola's idea of walking on leash consists of flinging herself out in all directions so she can check out everything in sight. This is fine w/ me as long as the leash doesn't get tight. When she hits the end of the leash, I say "Whoops!" and stop moving. Takes about 3 seconds for her to turn and look at me ("What'd ya stop for??") and then another 10 seconds for her to get frustrated and turn back to me. I then say "Let's go" and we continue walking. A 3 minute walk took us about 15 minutes.

My little girl is now 18 lbs!! I knew it! She's doubled in size since we brought her home. She had her last set of shots and doesn't need to go back till May, when she'll be spayed. I had them trim her nails b/c I haven't gotten up the nerve to do it myself. I've never had to do S&P's nails b/c they get walked everyday & their nails are naturally warn down. So the vet tech restrained Lola while Dr. Nagle chopped her feet off...kidding, of course but that's what you would have thought she was doing by the way Lola was screaming. So now I need to teach little Miss Full of Herself to tolerate being restrained.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

SuperBowl Sunday!! WooHoo! We're having a little party for the big game, but before the guests arrive, Lola has her first puppy class @ the WPHS.

When we got there, I noticed there were a lot more puppies there than I expected. And what I was very pleased with...all different kinds of people. Different ages, different races, different sexes...all very good flor Lola's socialization. She did, of course, think they were all there to play with her. We started class by letting the puppies off leash. Lola took off like a bullet. First she ran to the people and wiggled around getting pets...then she realized there were other puppies around! She zeroed in on a yellow lab puppy and decided that would be her playmate for the day. My scared little girl gots some guts in class yesterday and you really would never know she was afraid before. I personally think this has to do w/ how young she was when class started. I guess all puppies are different and 12 weeks was just too early for Lola to start. Apparently 14 weeks is just right.

The pups played for 10 minutes or so and then we rounded them up to start the class. The first thing we worked on was settle. Marsha teaches this differently than AF does. She had us get down on the floor and gently restrain the puppies. The idea is to get the puppy to lay on it's side and run your hand down it's body from head to the tip of the tail. After about 2 minutes, everyone puppy was relaxed and getting lots of love from their owners...except Lola.

**I do NOT want to settle! I want to play with the other puppies! Let me go!!!!**. This protest continued for a while and she finally gave in. I am quite sure this little outburst was due to the fact that she was very overtired. Lola & Penny had played for about 3 hours and Lola took little random naps all morning, but never really got any serious snooze time. I need to remember this for next time.

We did some work on Sit and Attention and this went very well. I had about 80% complaince on both behaviors. Class wrapped up & we headed home to get ready for the big game.

We had about 10 people over for the game & let me tell you...it was stressful. I was sweating the whole time!! But the boys in Black & Gold brought it home!

Thanks for a great Season boys...see ya in September!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I went to Kuhn's this morning and asked the butcher if they had any marrow bones & "soup meat" in the back. She brought out a tray of really nice marrow bones and asked how many dogs I have. I told her I'd by soup meat by truckload if they had it & she said that chicken is on sale this week so I should call on Friday & they would package me up a boatload. It's the trimmings from the chicken breasts & they'll give it to me for 59cents/lb! They also gave me a package of liver trimmings (which was just small pieces of liver) for 28cents. I love Kuhn's!!

We had our 3rd puppy class at AF today. There were only 1/2 of the puppies there most likely b/c of the Super Bowl. It actually made for a nice size class. Lola definately thought so. There were about 5 puppies total & I suppose that was less intimidating for her. The first play session she only ran to hide under the chair twice. The second one she really got into it & showed very little fear.

We reviewed LLW and did some recalls. Lola is doing pretty well w/ both of those. The new things for the week were Down & Drop it. We haven't done much w/ down and she was not interested in laying down at all. This is something I really need to work on before next week.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday night in the Steel City. The Super Bowl is upon us & the whole town in covered in black & gold. Just a little side note...I'm a huge Steeler fan. Not a fair weather fan...a win, lose or draw fan. It all started in college when my roomate, Katie, (during my 5th year at IUP) refused to let us do anything on Sundays but watch football. She was actually pretty good at explaining stuff & HEY...it was 1995. A coincidence? I think not.

I went to a Super Bowl party that year w/ a couple other college friends and I don't need to tell you...we lost. Sad to see grown men crying in their beer. But I was hooked and loved the game ever since.

10 years later and we're back! This town has come alive! Pittsburgh really is a "Town". The greatest "Little" Big City in the USA. I love it here & despite my complaints about the winters...will most likely never leave. And we sure do love our football. From the little old ladies in their sparkly Steelers gear to the big, brawny men in the way-too-big Big Ben jerseys.

When we decided to get another dog, I did a lot of research. I chose the breeder route (for reasons too long to lay out) and started thinking about what puppy we might get. Being the B&G gal that I am...I wanted my Steeler Fever to show in our new puppy! I had it all picked out even before the litter was born!

If we would have decided to get a boy ...his name probably would have been Milo (SteelCity Mile O' Minute) or Bettis (SteelCity BusDriver) ..but we decided on a girl. If she were Fawn, she would have been "Rooney Steel my Heart" (aka Stella) and if she were white..."SteelCity Copacabana" (aka Lola). The little white gal w/ the fawn eyepatch won me over & Lola really is "K&L's SteelCity Copacabana". She's named after my beloved Black & Gold (and the Steelers main man, Myron).

Time to take a deep breath & chant "Let's go Steelers!". It truly is fate that we get "one for the thumb" this year. My favorite big man, #36, is back in his home town. We gotta win!!!!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I didn't do a whole lot tonight other than try to catch a few pics of the pups in their Steeler gear. After 20 minutes of attempts, I only got two decent ones.

I did switch Lola out of the small plastic crate and into the big wire crate. I was expecting a sleepless night, but she just got in the crate & went to sleep. I guess I need more confidence in her. The crying & screaming during the day has just about finished. I still have a fight getting her in there, but she will clean out a PB bone and I throw a handful of goodies for her to hunt & find. We are making progress!