Sunday, March 28, 2010

Speaking of outings

It turns out that my local Lowe's is VERY dog friendly. I decided to go check out the rumors myself with Jenny today. They definitely have no problem with dogs in the store. They even keep dog treats all around the store for all those that come in. We were invited back. The exact invitation was "Come back anytime. We are super dog friendly. All dogs are welcome. We love dogs here." Well I guess it can't be more clear than that!

She looks so impressed doesn't she?
I want the screen door seen behind her.

Here we are picking up more fencing for signs. I now have enough for a full course set. It took her a few minutes to recover from the big scary moving doors. By the time we left, after some practice with those in the garden area, she had gotten the hang of them. I think she even figured out she could make them open herself. I think she likes having the power. I better be careful, to much power may go to her head. You know how pugs are, today sliding doors, tomorrow the world.

Rally signs part 2

So I decided to twist the top pieces down abit more from my original design. The pieces just being folded over were catching on each other when I stacked them. It was annoying.
I also discovered (purely by accident) that if you forget your clothes pins for the corners you can simply tuck the sign under the folded top pieces and the sign will stay.

But the clothes pins are better.

I now have a box to hold signs, holders and the corner pins. No more forgetting. There is a Rally match coming up in May that I am planning on taking Jenny to. There is an APDT rally show sooner in my area as well but I know I won't be ready in time for that. I also don't know the difference between the APDT and AKC signs. (and honestly I am still learning the signs) I may go watch though. Plus Jenny has never been to a show so I need to get her used to a show site first. So unless something else comes up sooner, the May match may be our first official Rally outing. Is it to soon to be nervous?

Friday, March 26, 2010

How to make your own Rally O sign holders

I admit it. I love finding ways to make something that saves me money. This idea came to me after seeing this post:

However I feel I have improved on the original model. First you start with a section of cheap garden border fencing. It looks like this in the store. (This is a 18 inch by 8 foot section folded in on itself.) This is one section from the fencing.

You can go this route and simply clothes pin your sign to the section with it pushed into the ground like this:
Notice I didn't cut the end pieces off yet. (seen on the right side-those should be cut off if you are going to make these type of holders) I wasn't completely happy with that model because it meant I could only use the holders outside on grass and soft ground. I thought about it and came up with this design instead:
I simply turned the section over, cut off the side pieces, bent the pieces that would normally be pushed into the ground, and then bent the now bottom piece under so it would be a stand alone piece. Here is another view:

And from the back:
Now don't throw away those cut off side pieces.
On windy days those can be used as tent stakes (on grass or soft ground) to keep the sign from blowing away. You just need to open them up abit so they fit. Needless to say I am VERY excited to finally have some affordable Rally sign holders. One ten foot section has 6 sections and only cost $4.47 at my local Lowes store. That equals 6 sign holders. Since you need 28 signs to do a full course you can get enough to make 30 holders for under $25 total. Much better than the 50 or 60 bucks I see the official rally sign holders selling for. Plus they are very easy to make. All you need is a pair of wire cutters and pliers. I made this one during my lunch break. (and took most of the pics then too) Quick, easy and cheap. The trifecta of back yard do it yourself. VBG
I downloaded and printed off a full set of beginner signs awhile ago on one of the the many Rally e-mail discussion groups. I keep them in a binder in plastic covers. This means I can keep them organised and find which ones I need easily. I also leave the plastic on to protect the signs from damage from the elements. I do need to go through and see which kind I have (AKC vs APDT) and to also check and see if any have been changed since I downloaded them.
I also printed off a few set course maps. This helps me be able to come up with practice courses aside from my own which may not be proper. (I readily admit that I am pretty much a Rally beginner.)
I have been taking a Rally class locally with Jenny which has been a lot of fun. It has gotten my own training juices flowing. So much so that I sent in Jenny and Jack's application to APDT so I can compete in either venue if I desire. I also finally got Jenny's corrected AKC pal listing paperwork back so she is all official now.
I hope this idea is useful to other Rally O converts out there. Rally On!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cute puppy photos

Play is hard work!!!

Puppy videos!

Having puppies on the program means we need to make sure they get play time with other dogs as much as we can. There is a window of socialization that closes with puppies if you don't expose them to other dogs when they are young. If you miss that window you may end up having to do counter conditioning to other dogs instead. I want to make sure they don't miss that window being in such a controlled environment. Fortunately some staff at the facility bring their dogs in sometimes so they have met a few other dogs as well. Here are some video of dogs I have brought for the handlers to work with and for the puppies to socialize with after we train.
Here is Jenny, my pug, begging for treats from one of the handlers while the pups play with each other. She did interact with them more when she first got there. Then she got focused on the treats after I had one of the handlers work with her. Patty was a little standoffish with Jenny at first but she recovered well. The videos may look a little odd because I was trying to keep the handlers out of the frame to protect their privacy.

This is Patty and Jack playing with Brutus, a yorkie cross puppy, and being around my sisters bulldog Minos. Minos did got some off leash time with them as well once he settled down a bit. I had to make sure he wasn't going to be to rough because of the size difference. Brutus is a bit shy with new people so it was good for him to learn how to be around strangers as well. (and is also the reason I had him drag his leash)

More of Brutus with the pups.

Today I took a jack russell pup named Lucy that they learned to work around as a distraction. Lucy was learning to walk wearing a head collar. Because she can be reactive with other dogs we didn't let them interact very much. Instead we covered how to create a greeting between dogs that don't always behave appropriately (and ones who do) and the handlers learned about the proper use of a head collar. (when, why and how) I like head collars for reactive dogs because with them you can control the dogs line of sight when needed. They also give you a leverage advantage for large strong dogs. Unfortunately my camera's battery pooched out on me so I have no video or photos of that to share.
Things are going very well for the pups. I need to get more pics and video of actual training but at this point I forget my camera until after the real work is done. For anyone interested in the applying for either of these pups you have to contact the for more info. I have NOTHING to do with the adoptions. I just wanted to make that clear because I have started to get calls and e-mails.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Doggy dedication

So I ran into a client at the local tattoo shop a couple of weeks ago. OK that sounds like the beginning of a joke doesn't it? VBG Check out the tattoo he was getting on the back of his shoulder. He and his wife have a cute, sweet, smart and VERY feisty terrier mix named Howie who looks exactly like this:

Since I personally know Howie I can attest that this is a fabulous likeness. It was sweet to see how excited they were to show it to me. I had to wait for it to heal to share a good photo. They really love their dog and will do anything for him. All dogs should have it so nice. He sure is one very lucky boy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A prison puppy update.

Here are some photos of the puppies on the Humane Society of Knox County's prison program K-9 Corrections. This is Patty at 9 weeks. (she is a gorgeous silver color which doesn't show well in this photo)
And this is Jack, her brother. They are shepherd/husky mixes. I don't think they will get very big. Maybe 45 lbs max if I had to guess at this point.

They are doing wonderfully so far. I am very impressed with the handlers and things seem to be going smoothly one week in. For those interested, the books we are currently using on the program are as follows:
Dr. Dunbars Good Little Dog Book by Dr. Ian Dunbar
How to teach a new dog old tricks also by Dr. Ian Dunbar
(Thank you James & Kenneth publishing for the donations of the titles above for the program)
Dog Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden
and 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy
I plan to add "Don't shoot the dog" by Karen Pryor and "The thinking dog - crossover to clicker training" by Gail Fisher as soon as I buy some extra copies. (P.S. Donations to the program are always appreciated. Most of the current educational materials of books and videos are my own that I lend out at this time.) It is very helpful that this time I have handlers who are excellent readers and enjoy reading. In the past I have had to work around reading issues with handlers.
Videos we are currently using are The power of training dogs with markers by Leerburg
and The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs
The tv shows I encourage the watching of are It's me or the dog by Victoria Stilwell, and Underdogs to Wonderdogs with Andrea Arden and Superfetch with Zak George.
For training techniques we use positive reinforcement methods of both lure reward training and marker (clickers/verbal) training.
This is our first time with young puppies. Normally we have either adults or adolescent dogs on the program. Needless to say there is already a LOT of interest in adoptions for these two sweeties.
I know not everyone likes the program. There is a not so small group of people out there that think prison should just be punishment for the inmates and having dogs or puppies there is the opposite of that. I can understand that thinking. But here is my rebuttal: This is a minimum security facility. It is the place the prisoners/inmates go just before they get released from serving their time. Shouldn't we give them skills that can help them make better decisions in their lives and teach them that they can change behavior without using physical force?? Working with dogs also teaches patience, another very useful skill in the real world. Not to mention this is about making the dogs we send to the program more adoptable. It is our goal to give the the dogs great skills for long term success with a family. And for those places doing this in maximum security facilities, consider the benefits for the dogs if not the people there. Off my soapbox now.
The puppies are doing very well learning their basics. We have also started them off ringing a bell to go outside for potty time. They have picked up the ringing the bell part, it may take a little more time before it becomes solidly linked to asking permission for a potty break in their minds. Can you imagine adopting a puppy that already knows how to ask to go outside to pee? That alone would be priceless for some people.
I'll try to remember to get more photos and videos as we go along.

FMI on those books and videos listed above:
Marker training DVD by Leerburg:
The TV shows I listed are on

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

This is Jack at the door when we watch the kids getting on the bus. He likes to oversee the operation.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's a go!

K-9 Corrections has officially begun. (again) Here are the puppies Patty and Jack shown with warden Patricia Barnhart and Captain Ivey, head of security. More photos to be forthcoming as we go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Killing them with kindness?

I am one of those people that hates to see fat pets. Unfortunately I get to see far to many of them at my veterinary job. (and tho the above dog isn't a client, sadly he looks just like a couple we do see) I was very happy to see an episode of Underdog to Wonderdog that addressed this issue last night. The dog they chose was being overlooked for adoption due to her being obese. And this was a sweet dog that loved to play! How sad and unfortunately all to common.

I think part of the problem is that people really have no idea how bad it is for their pets. "So my dog has a few extra pounds, what's the big deal?" Well it depends on how much extra weight they are carrying. Extra weight causes more stress on their joints which for some can be very debilitating. Our pets can't tell us that it hurts to walk. Extra weight can also cause breathing issues. If your dog gets winded from a short walk to the mailbox and back then that is a problem. Struggling to breathe is a very scary thing for a pet! And consider the fustration of not being able to scratch an itchy spot. We see dogs like that every week. In cats we see a lot of them simply unable to groom themselves which causes painful matting and even urine scalding. (just imagine not being able to wipe yourself and then sitting it in all day)

So I found this chart which might make it more helpful for people to understand how a little bit of weight can be more of a problem than they realize.

In toy breeds 1 pound of extra weight = 31 pounds on a human body
+2 lbs = 63
+3lbs = 94

In small breeds 2 lbs of extra weight = 13 lbs on a human body
+4 lbs = 26 lbs
+6 lbs = 40 lbs

In medium breeds 4 lbs of extra weight = 17 lbs on a human body
+6 lbs = 25 lbs
+ 8 lbs = 33 lbs

In large breeds 6 lbs of extra weight = 11 lbs on a human body
+8 = 14
+10 = 18 lbs

In giant breeds we are equal 10lbs = 10 lbs and so on.
Here is a chart that lets you see how to assess your dogs body condition:

In cats the weight comparison is based on breed body types too. However for the general domesticated shorthair the comparison is as follows: 4 pounds of extra weight = 36 lbs
+5 = 45lbs
+6 = 54 lbs

So you can see how just a few pounds for some of our companions can be a very large problem. In some cases I even consider it abusive. They can't feed themselves. WE are responsible for what goes into their mouths after all.
This doesn't mean you can't spoil your dog (or cat) with treats, just make them smaller. Consider the size of their stomach and adjust. Measure meals and keep track of their calorie intake. If you need to put your dog on a weight loss program start slow with the exercise. You don't want your dog collapsing from the stress. Teach your dog to play fetch. This is a FABULOUS game to play when you can't get outside for a walk! Or maybe you are feeling lazy and don't feel like taking the dog out. This gives you a back up plan for exercise on those days.
I know part of the problem is that we consider food equals love for our pets. They love to eat and we love to feed them. We need to stop killing them with our kindness. I mean after all, isn't it more kind to keep them comfortable and free from pain?? And let's not kid ourselves, extra weight on bodies shortens lifespans. For all of us.

(comparisons above are based on a 125lb woman's body)

The risk of not vaccinating

This is a dog that came through our clinic that tested positive for distemper. The head spasm is what is called a "gum chewing" seizure.

Unfortunatly it took the owners finding us after 2 other vets had seen the dog to figure out what was actually wrong with her. The dog had been adopted from a city pound (in another state) where they only vaccinated for kennel cough before sending them on their way. So for those that think these diseases aren't out there, you are incorrect. There is a difference between not vaccinating and not over vaccinating. This sweet dog is still in treatment with no guarantees. Hopefully it all turns out well for her and her new owners.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some catching up and news to share

No matter what crappy things are happening, life does go on. On the training front I have started a Rally O class with Jenny. We've only had one session so far but it was fun. It is just nice to be able to take a class for a change. Since I might actually get in the ring again and attend shows I have also started getting her used to a soft sided crate. I found it for a steal at The Christmas Tree Shop. (only $25!!) This is her at my work last saturday relaxing. I also got her PAL # back from AKC. Unfortunatly they left off part of her name so I had to call. (she is currently Prones that's my ... ) They will be sending a new certificate with "girl" added.
In other super exciting news the prison program K-9 Corrections is starting up again on Saturday. I got to help interview the handers this time which was interesting. In the past we have only had 1 dog there but we are doing 2 this time, one in each unit. We use two handlers per dog, one primary that is responsible for the dog and a secondary that is a back up. This allows the primary to be able to take breaks and it allows us to have a handler ready to go should something happen to the primary. The secondary becomes the primary for the next dog in the program as well saving some training time. In a nutshell my job is to train the handlers to train the dogs. The dogs then live at the prison while in the program getting 24 hour care and training for 8 to 12 weeks. (typically) This helps make them more adoptable for the general public and teaches the handlers some skills as well. It is a very win/win situation. I am very excited to get started again. We have graduated 7 dogs from the program previously. My sister is doing up some new logo designs for the program that I hope we can use on some t-shirts for fundraising. I'll keep you posted.

Memories live forever

First thank you to all who commented, called and sent cards. You all were so wonderful and I really appreciated your thoughts. I always knew I had great friends and blog readers. You have forever proven that I was right. Thank you.

I hate the adjustment of losing a dog. It's just an odd feeling in the house. Yes we have other dogs, but they just never fill the space in the same way. Much like a child could never fill in for another. Having them around certainly helps tho.

It is hard to say what the other dogs really know about the whole process. I took Missy's crate pad with me when I took her in. She was lying on it when we said goodbye. When I came home I set it on the floor and let Jenny and Jack smell it. I thought it might help them understand. Jenny seemed very interested in how it smelled. I haven't really noticed a change in Jack. Jenny however whined a lot the first day afterwards and for a few days would go sit in Missy's crate and look out at me inquisitively. That was tough.

Her ashes came back this week and I thought I should share abit about her since I couldn't do it before.

Missy was one of those dogs that loved being with her people. Because of that she was super easy to train. I actually felt like taking her in the ring was cheating. (and for the record we only showed twice and DQ'd both times due to my own mistakes, not hers) I can see why people think some dogs live to please. She would do anything for me. But to burst that "dog's wanting to please us" bubble it was because she simply wanted to be WITH me. Dog's live to please themselves, I just happened to be her special reward which worked out well for both of us.

She was also the first dog I trained using NO leash corrections. She taught me that type of training was indeed possible. (not to be confused with no corrections, positive does not equal permissive after all) She came to us as 4 year old adult with no previous training under her belt. She was also my very first flat faced dog and because of that taught me a lot about really reading canine body language. She definitely helped expand my training knowledge in so many ways.

Missy was a people dog. She wasn't all that interested in other dogs or playing with them. In spite of that she was a great help when it came to teaching other dogs or puppies good social skills. She always knew when to say enough and used just the right amount of force to do it. Puppies always learned how to be respectful thanks to aunt Missy. She was also a good splitter and would stop the other dogs from playing to rough when she deemed it necessary. She was a great demo dog for me. I never had to worry about her breaking a stay or not coming when called. She was the first dog I had that I trusted 100% off leash.

The thing Missy will be most remembered for was her sweet disposition. She loved a good ear scritch and snuggle. I will always be grateful for the wonderful things she taught me during our years together. We were lucky to have shared our lives with such a funny, sweet, and smart dog. She may be gone in body but not in spirit. We will love and remember her forever. Godspeed our dear sweet Missy. We miss you.