Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lure Coursing

We did Marley's favorite thing today.  I signed her up for the 300 yard course and at the last minute it was decided she could do the 600 yard course.  She loved it!

I mentioned before the event how I couldn't let her see the course because she would go ballistic!  A friend laughed and said, "She's not as wild as the dobermans."  I laughed with her and as soon as the event started Marley lost her presence of mind and whined, yipped, and squirmed trying to get the lure.  My friend looked at us and said, "Oh my gosh, she is more wild than the dobermans."

This is such a fun activity for all dogs.  I saw a tiny chihuahua run the 300 yard course and she was awesome! We gave her a standing ovation for completing the course, she was so tiny she had to leap up to see the lure over some the grass.

Thanks to Joyce for taking such nice photos of both Marley and Piek.

Marley at full speed.

Check out her stride!

600 yards is a lot for a little dog!
Piek loving the long run.

Awesome stride!

Piek is so graceful!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Piek and the Magic Pants

Waiting for treats during their mid-day walk.
Piek is settling in nicely.  He knows Marley is in charge, Bob is to be avoided at all costs and Mojo is his buddy.

He spent his first month trying to convince me his name was not Piek and he had no idea what "sit" meant.  Once he realized I have magic pants that are filled with yummy treats he decided his name was in fact Piek and he might know a few things.

He is fantastic on his own, his lose leash walking is fabulous.  He'll look at me for cues and maintain my pace (mostly, he still likes to pee on everything).  He'll wait inside the door until I invite him to step outside.  He loves people and feels everybody is his friend.

He is awesome until Marley joins us on a walk...at which point he forgets everything and he pulls on the leash and allows Marley to trick him into barking at everything. It takes him a while to realize I'm wearing the magic treat filled pants and its in his best interest to behave. Marley seems to be incredibly amused and tries to trick me into giving her extra treats because she is such a good dog.

In the morning we walk to the local tennis courts and Marley and Piek practice recalls and stays.  Piek is doing fantastic, I can place him on a stay next to Marley and I can do jumping jacks and some of my cool dance moves and Piek will maintain a solid stay.  This is really fantastic!

He has also attended his first Jo Sermon Workshop.  Of course it was a puppy workshop and he was the oldest dog there and he did great.  Jo gave me great advise on how to increase his focus and attention.  She is a wealth of information and I highly suggest if you have the chance to attend one of her workshops, you should.

Right now we are working on some attention and focus exercises.  He is a lovely dog and Marley likes to pretend she doesn't care he is here but I've caught her playing with him.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I took the plunge, we have a new addition.

I've spent this last year reading about different dog breeds and talking to a ton of people about adding a dog to my household.  I've taken the plunge and added Piek to our family.

He is really sweet and is looking at Marley for household cues.  He is a bit toy obsessed which is a nice change from Marley's indifference.  He is not quite sure what to make of the cats.

Marley likes him, but she seems to be waiting for him to go home.  The cats are not happy.  Bob is determined to put him in his place and Mojo is just hiding.  I think its pretty good for our first day.

I'm very excited and I hope to share his adventures with you this next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We tried Barn Hunt

I kept hearing about Barn Hunt and I was intrigued.  I spoke with a few friends who had "interesting" experiences I decided I wanted to start with a workshop.  I love workshops, can you tell?  In my quest I found Straw Bale Productions and I signed us up for a clinic.

We had a great time.  Bruce and Scott were friendly and very helpful.  Bruce is the nosework guy and Scott is the rat guy.  The morning started by a quick review of the sport and the rules.  They had copies of the Barn Hunt Association rule book for us to review.

They mentioned some dogs get it immediately and others need some instruction; actually the humans need the most instruction.  It is very similar to nosework, in which the handler needs to recognize the signs that the dog has found the rat and be confident when calling the rat (basically indicating where the rat is located).  This is not as easy as it sounds.  In addition to finding the rat the dog needs to go through a straw tunnel and climb a bale of straw.

They had three stations stet up for practice.  The first was just a bale of straw and a rat in a clear tube.  The second was a novice set-up, and the third was an advanced set-up.  Each station was staffed by a volunteer.

I started at the first station with the rat and the one bale of straw.  Marley went right up to the tube and tried to get the rat out.  The second time she just looked around and tried to go into the other stations.  I walked her around and asked her "Where is the RAT?"  I think the most difficult part was trying not to use "find it" which we use for nosework.

The second station with the novice set-up was interesting.  Marley was just excited to be off leash near straw.  It took a while to get her to focus on looking for the rat.  It took us a while to sync into a team. She received a lot of praise and I decided to try the first station again before progressing to the more advanced station.

The second time at the first station I made it a bit more difficult for her by standing further away from the station and asking her "Where is the RAT?"  Once she was really excited and had some easy success we moved on to the more advanced station.

The advanced station was larger, more complex and we were timed.  This was not a blind search, I knew where the rats were located and could provide "help" if needed. I have to say the most difficult part of this station was keeping track of my dog.  She was just zooming around the straw and I kept losing her.

Once everybody has cycled through all the stations they ran us through a mock novice trial.  We had to call the finds and the dog had go through a tunnel and climb a bale of straw. We didn't know where the rats were hidden.

Marley completed the course in a minute and forty nine seconds.  She just ran by the empty tube and found the rats right away.  It took us longer to go through the tunnel because she kept looking for rats.  She was fantastic!

Bruce gave me great advice on adding another scent for her to find and how to help Marley distinguish nosework from barn hunt.  He also provided information on how scents move through straw.

If you want to try Barn Hunt I highly recommend starting with a workshop or clinic to introduce your dog to the concept.  I liked how quickly Marley picked up the concept and is excited about hunting rats.

The rats were well taken care of and they were rotated at least once with fresh rats.  The rat in the clear tube spent the entire time grooming and sleeping.

We had a great time and I look forward to entering a trial soon.

After the workshop Marley and I went hiking at Point Isabel.  We do not go very often but every time we get close, Marley gets really excited.



Finally, we have exciting stuff happening in the next couple of months. This means I'll have more to share.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Also known as Mojo's Day! 

Mojo started his day by sleeping on Marley's tail, followed up by chewing on it for a while.  When Marley got up, he stalked her tail.  A game of chase followed the tail stalking!

Stalking Bob is always a fun game after breakfast.  After a busy morning Mojo will nap all day until dinner. He'll recieve a new catnip filled toy tonight.  Its a great way to celebrate his day.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Canine Cardiologist

I had the most surreal experience at our vet's office during Marley's annual exam.  The vet complemented Marley's svelte figure and sparkling teeth.  We talked about nutrition and she casually said, "Marley's heart murmur seems fine."

My response was, "No, Marley does not have a heart murmur!"  My vet looked at me and offered to check again at the end of the exam.  Once she did she confirmed the heart murmur and started talking about quality of life. I totally panicked and started asking a ton of questions in which I'm sure was a high pitched scared tone.  My vet suggested I schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, who might be able to answer all of my questions.  She referred me to three. I made appointments with all of them.  Did I mention I was panicking?

After conducting some research and calling all the cardiologists multiple times, I settled on one and tried not to overreact every time Marley coughed.  I found an overwhelming amount of information on canine heart murmurs and  a lot of anecdote about other dogs.

Our Canine Cardiologist was wonderful.  She conducted an EKG and an Echocardiagram on Marley.  The results indicate she has a degenerative mitral valve disease

This is a genetic condition and Marley was diagnosed at a rather young age. Her heart is still normal and her EKG and blood pressure are also normal.  We have a follow-up scheduled and will hopefully determine the rate of deterioration.  

The good news is the cardiologist gave us permission to allow Marley to gain some weight and we can continue our regular activities. 

I am still a bit overwhelmed at the fact that my sassy, athletic dog has a heart condition.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014