Thursday, April 30, 2015

Visit from Miki and Lilit

My "niece," Lilit, was born one day after Cai. He's been visiting her since she was an infant and he was a puppy. At first he didn't care about her at all - sniffed, then ignored. He wasn't bothered by the sounds of baby crying or laughing or shrieking. As she began to walk and reach out and touch, he became just a little nervous about her. (Many dogs dislike toddlers because of their unpredictable movements and noises, and grabby-ness.) Treats and careful supervision are steadily bringing him around. The last visit was particularly sweet - he sat on his Auntie Miki's lap, and gave Lilit sniffs, kisses, and tail wags.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Recent pictures

Drooling after too much excitement over female dogs. Gross.

Hunting for lizards(?) in the scrap wood pile at N's farm.

Investigating the rolled up pasture fencing.

Sniff sniff...

It's an agility tunnel!

Playing with a top hat toy. (There are tiny stuffed bunnies inside that he was trying to pull out.)

Right before he walked into a kitchen cabinet.

He knew the stairs were somewhere in front of him, and thankfully stopped walking just in time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chiropractic fix up

One more story of note from the past couple of months - Cai had suddenly started being hesitant on the teeter, and even jumped off in the middle at one point. A few weeks before that, he had been consistently popping out of the weave poles around the 10th pole. That's a common issue, but it appeared suddenly when he had never done it before.

I got him to the chiropractor, who reported that he indeed had a disc out of alignment again. Our next opportunity to do the teeter was two weeks later, and Cai was back to his usual form. In fact, Blancett told me to stop babying him at the drop and instead start running past and testing his contact behavior (4 on). He still popped out of the weave poles, unfortunately. Back to training!

Rally-FrEe Novice title

I am so behind in updating Chimera's blog! I've had a lot of other things going on - check out my other blog detailing the adventure with chickens, gardening, and crafting. That said, there's no good excuse for not posting about Cai earning his Rally-FrEe Novice title!

This was back on January 11th, when the Redwood Empire Doggy Dancers hosted California's first Rally-FrEe trial. Cai did "okay" in the ring. He certainly had distracted moments, but when he was paying attention, he performed very nicely (other than sometimes going wide on the Circle Around signs). He earned 7-9 points at most of the signs. (I think the scoring was a bit lenient - but maybe that's just because I'm used to Obedience scoring!). In the morning we scored 156, and in the afternoon it was 152.

Here's our morning run. The first sign was "Right Heel Forward," but because I was nervous, I reverted to my Rally O roots and started Cai on the left! I realized that the signs were on the wrong side for left heel after the second sign (free choice).

Here's the afternoon run. You can tell that he's more tired.

So now his full name is MicFriends Chimera Monstra R-FE/N!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rally-FrEe practice

The local freestyle club, Redwood Empire Doggy Dancers, is holding California's first Rally-FrEe trials tomorrow (one in the morning and the second in the afternoon). Chimera and I are entered in both, though we only need one more qualifying run to earn his novice title.

Today they hosted two WCFO freestyle trials, and a run-through at the end. I volunteered as the camera person during the freestyle runs, and brought Cai into the building for practice during breaks and the run-through. As has been the case recently, I was prepared for explosive reactivity and no focus, and instead I had a very, very good dog. There were minor incidents of growling or barking, but he was easily redirected. In the ring, he was focused 90% of the time (though with treats and personal play).

I would still prefer not to enter him into any trials yet, and do more proofing and fun ring time instead. However I couldn't pass up the opportunity to support the growth of Rally-FrEe! We'll do more fun matches afterwards to balance things out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Second Rally-FrEe Novice leg

I participated in December's World Wide Video Event. This was our run:

We qualified with a score of 168 - much better than our previous score of 133! We still lost some points for Cai losing focus, and for overly-obvious signals, but both things were much improved. We lost 7 points on the playbow since Cai did a down. D'oh!

Last Saturday we met up with two members of a local freestyle club to prepare for an event on January 10-11th. Saturday will be two WCFO Freestyle trials, and Sunday will be two Rally-FrEe trials. I fully expect us to lose points again for Cai losing focus, since there will be other dogs and people moving around. But I'm crossing my fingers for earning a third Novice leg and our title!

On a side note, Cai's leash reactivity has improved so much, that he did not bark or growl at the other dogs in open station wagons! He wagged his tail and his body was loose, even though he was pulling toward the dogs. Inside the building, he did get upset when the youngest dog was playing and jumping around, but he was quiet the rest of the time. Good boy!

We're practicing again this Saturday.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Full Metal Papillon

I made this coat a couple of years ago for Dragon, but Chimera is almost exactly the same size. (He's a good replacement.) My family went to Truckee, up in the mountains, for Thanksgiving, and Cai needed coats to keep him warm and dry. He didn't like this one very much, since the sleeves are restrictive, and ugh, the hood.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

First Rally-FrEe Novice leg

I got three of my former Rally-FrEe students to sign up for a video competition with me. I knew that Cai wasn't quite ready - I hadn't done enough prep work for going through an entire course without rewards, and he still gets easily distracted. However I wanted to go ahead and compete so that I could see where any other holes show in our training, and get an objective evaluation.

Here was our entry, due on 11/17/14:

We qualified with a score of 133 of 200. (125 points are needed to qualify.) The scoring in this sport is strict, which I like! We got dinged for: large/obvious hand and body cues, doing more of a pivot instead of a proper circle on the 270s, and Cai's loss of attention. My own stress made me revert to the large signals and smaller circles, so I need to remember about that under pressure.

I'm glad that we did this competition and I saw these problems. Now to continue practicing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Back to agility!

After a month long break from agility class, Chimera and I were ready to run again! Cai did great; it was like there was no break at all. He was completely quiet in his crate between turns and was frequently offering the behavior of lying down with his head down - something I reward because it is self-soothing for him. The only silly mistake he made during his runs was that when I took my eyes off him to look ahead at the next jump, he cut behind my back to run up the teeter.

We've been working on the teeter here and there during private lessons with Sandy, and he was doing well, but I was still so nervous about letting him do the full teeter without any support (ie, changing the speed, reducing the bang, or delaying the drop). I was scared that he wasn't ready, would get frightened, and then we'd have to backtrack the training. I'm sure that this fear was because Dragon had trouble with the teeter that we didn't resolve before he died, so the issue still hangs over me. Plus, I always err on the side of caution when pushing a dog to do something. Clearly, in this case I was too cautious, as Cai had no problem with the full teeter experience and kept trying to go toward it again. The history of reinforcement was winning out and he was getting sucked toward the teeter like other dogs go for tunnels. Wow!

With that obstacle behind us (pun intended), I decided that Cai is ready to trial. We still need to attend fun matches as often as we can to work on focus in new places and among many dogs. However there is a small club holding TDAA trials about an hour away, a few times per year. That easy-going, less crowded atmosphere will be perfect for our debut.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baby's first emergency vet visit

Chimera has been staying with my parents while I do a long pet sit. This morning my mother called me to report that he had been lying down a lot with his head between his front paws (rather than the more relaxed lying down on his side) and not following her around as much. He'd also stopped walking and hunched his back here and there. I suggested a GI problem and said to monitor him closely. An hour later my dad called - he was now hunching over a lot and his back legs were shaking. My parents both took him to the nearest emergency vet.

It turned out that one of his anal glands had gotten infected, swollen, and burst. It was bleeding when they reached the vet. Fortunately, the vet's assessment was that pain killers and two week of antibiotics should clear everything up.

I wasn't able to drive down and meet them because I had to teach two training classes while this was going on. That may have been for the best, though - I would probably have been a crying wreck in the waiting room.

He's doped up on pain meds but is resting much more comfortably.