Who's a Good Dog?


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OMG puppies!

When people find out I volunteer at the shelter, they will often say something like “I could never do that.  It would be too sad.”  And I admit, some days it’s not easy.  But yesterday was not one of those days because–puppies.

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I got to spend part of my afternoon hanging out with a litter of five-week-old puppies.  Technically, I was there to help socialize them.  But that pretty much amounted to being buried in puppies and squeeing over their cuteness.

If you’d like to have some of this puppy cuteness for yourself, the Center is looking for fosters.  Visit their Facebook page for more info.


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Inside Games for Bad Weather Days

The dogs and I are taking a great online class through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy called Stir Crazy.  It’s taught by Donna Hill and focuses on games you can play in small spaces–like in your living room when it’s raining outside.  Here’s a clip of Arlo, Katie and me playing one of the body awareness games.  I thought it would be a good post for Force-Free Friday.  The idea is for the dog to go around and through the cones without touching them.  At nearly 4 years old, Arlo is still wiggly enough that this game is a bit of a challenge.  But Katie is older, calmer, and more experienced, and she had no trouble at all.  I cleared out most of the furniture in the living room and used ring gates to create an “audience” area for the non-working dog.  (I had to revise that plan a bit after Arlo figured out how to get around the gate and ask whether it was his turn again.) One of the really nice features of the course is that the games are suitable for dogs with a range of abilities.  My senior girl Katie who has some mobility issues has been able to do everything so far.  You can see from the dogs’ body language on the video that they’re both having a really good time.  Ditto for me.


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Road Trip

Last weekend Arlo and I traveled to Lancaster, PA to spend some time with one of my best friends (and my former college roomie) and her dog, a lovely black lab.  We didn’t have a lot planned other than catching up, knitting, and hanging out with the dogs.  As it turned out, the dogs had so much fun together that we spent a good part of the weekend just watching them play.

Callie was a perfect play friend for Arlo–tolerant and generous, and very clear about the rules (which she got to set because [a] she is older, [b] she’s a she, and [c] Arlo’s enthusiasm for play can sometimes be overwhelming).  The video is  3 short clips from lots more play that I was able to film, but it’s representative of their interactions:  lots of give and take, pauses to regroup, and two really happy dogs.


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CAHW Dogs

 

I recently started volunteering at the Center for Animal Health and Welfare.  Once a week I head over to the Center and work with one or two of their dogs on basic manners.  Yesterday was the fourth session with Ruckus, a young bully mix, who is a real charmer.  As his Petfinder page explains, he LOVES his toys (a plus for training because we’re teaching him to work for toys).  He also needs to learn some leash manners.  In the video clip above, he’s learning to wait at an open door until invited to go through.  (Apologies for the shaky camera–my fault.  I was filming while Maria, who works at the shelter, was working with Ruckus.)  You can see him figuring things out.  He makes mistakes, but that’s part of the learning.  He can’t learn that sitting works unless he sees that getting up makes the door close.  You can’t see it in this video, but he’s also learned to check-in after going through the door.

During my visit yesterday I also had the opportunity to meet two wonderful senior dogs, Merida and Big Bear.  You wouldn’t know Merida is 13–she dances around like a puppy and loves her toys.  But she is very polite when she plays.

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And if you’d like a swell guy to cuddle with you on your couch, Bear is your man.

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Dog Trick Geeks

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Grades are in, graduation has come and gone, and even though I still have a couple reports to write and meetings to attend (and although my CWP responsibilities continue all summer), I am looking forward to the somewhat slower pace of the next few months. As any academic will tell you, we don’t get the summer “off,” but for some of us it does mean a break from teaching and so more time for other kinds of intellectual work. For me it also means more time for activities that, while they don’t qualify as academic work, keep me balanced–e.g. gardening, yoga, dog training.

I’ve been putting in a lot of hours in the garden lately–trying to get everything in and, at the Community Garden, set things up so that I’m ahead of the weeds. I’m keeping a photo log of garden work here.

I have a long list of dog training stuff planned, but the first two projects (in addition to weekly Rally class) are (1) taking this online class and (2) making a video for the Dog Trick Geeks challenge on Facebook. I’ll write more about the online class after it begins (on June 1). But if you like trick training with your dog then you should definitely check out the DTG group page and website. There are 6 levels of certification from “Dog Trick Geek” to “Supreme Geek.” The training is all force-free and in good fun (i.e., my kind of training).  Arlo and I have been working on our tricks for the first level.  For a preview, watch the video at the top of this post.

#16!

#16!

And finally, on the topic of dogs, if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that Katie was ranked #16 for 2013 in level 1 World Cynosport Rally. It was totally unexpected, and a very nice surprise. (It was so unexpected, I didn’t even look at the rankings when they first came out.) Kate has slowed down a bit in the past few months (she just turned 12), and we may need to retire from competition. But she has been the best partner I could ask for.