Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First-ish snow.

At nine, six, and four months old, this will be Violet, Piper, and Dewey's first winter. So far they've have had their first tiny-bit-of-dusting-on-the-ground snow a few weeks ago, and their first seeing-the-flakes-fall today. Still waiting on the first real snow.

Snoozy Collie.

Licking snowflakes.

Collie ornament.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Training updates.

Just a little training update.

I am terrified of stay. This is ridiculous, because it's absolutely one of the most important, basic commands. You'd think Violet would have known stay before spin, but for weeks it's been "The next thing I teach Violet will be stay, but first maybe she should learn another thing," because she's so damn exuberant. She flies through her commands, which is my own fault. In the beginning, when we were working on building training drive and making it a game, I was playing the how fast can you go game, "sit-down-sit-stand-touch-touch-touch-down-spin-paw-touch-sit," and she loved it, but I didn't segue out of that and into adding time and distance to my criteria as well as I should have. I'd set myself up for a disaster in teaching stay, and every time I'd tried, it was a disaster. I was doing it when she was too charged up to be still or using treats that were so high value that there was no way she'd be still for them. It was going badly and I was getting frustrated and discouraged and guiltily shoving stay to the bottom of my to-train list for my nine month old. Eric asked yesterday to just work with her for a few and see what he could do, and I'll be damned if she's not doing wonderfully now. She was alert but not off the wall and he was using her regular kibble, right after dinner. The timing was ideal, but probably more importantly he didn't have the "This is going to fail" air that I'd had. We've had a few more training sessions with stay since then and she's doing amazingly. Yesterday she sat and stayed in a corner of the room while I walked around, turned my back, talked to Eric, picked things up, opened the door, and came back and she hadn't moved. Without a doubt, my dog is smarter than I am; her training issues are generally only me. It's hard to believe that a year ago I was utterly disinterested in training or dog sports and new to herding breeds. Now, I can't even decide where to start. I'm interested in herding, agility, rally, obedience, working on her CGC, I have a bee in my bonnet that I want to get her trick dog titled, the list goes on.

Piper, meanwhile, is not very drivey at all. Eric is the resident GSD person (though since we've met I've become very, very, very fond of the breed), and GSDs work unlike any other, so he understands the way her mind works and is in charge of her training. The only training issue (not really an issue per se, just a challenge) that she's had that I have some kind of personal interest in solving is that we haven't really discovered her currency. She's not food driven, she's not toy driven (she enjoys toys under the right circumstances, but when she's training she's all business), she seems to find praise rewards frivolous. I was messing around with some online dog IQ test a few days ago that required me to put a treat under a cup and see how long it took them to get it out from under there, and I used a piece of roast beef lunch meat. Piper went nuts. She reacted similarly to a small piece of chicken that I slipped her a few days ago. I'm interested to see how she works for some sort of meat the next time she's training. I feel like a dunce for not trying that sooner.

Dewey. You have to see him train to understand him, but he's really something special. He's the driviest dog I've ever personally met, and even Eric says that the only comparable dogs he's seen have been Border Collies and Cattle Dogs, and he knows more about drive than I can ever hope to. Dewey pretty much came to us obsessed with frisbees, to such an extent that I think it'd almost be inhumane not to do disc with him, which pains me a little because competitive frisbee does not ring my bell, never has. But, then again, neither did training, and then along came Violet, so...more personal growth here, I suppose. Dewey has more or less become mine, he was not working at all with Adam and he just clicks more with me than he does Eric, which is ironic, since Eric is the frisbee fiend (as is Dewey) and I am disinterested on a good day, but that's the way the cookie has crumbled and now it's time for me to pull up my bootstraps, follow Dewey's drive, and let the rest develop on its own. When he trains, he is insane. He's so smart it's unreal, and he's so excited to get the next command that he's barely able to be still. I was also intimidated by stay with him, perhaps a little more understandably, but I knew I needed to buckle down with this one while he's 16 weeks old, not 9 months, so we started on him with stay at the same time as Violet, and to my surprise he caught on almost instantly. He's wicked smart, but self control is not his biggest strength, so I wasn't certain how it would go. I've been watching him work with Eric on the frisbee, but I know that they're not going to go far with it together so I'm learning and may work with him on it alone today, after I hit the gym and run some errands. He's a completely different can of worms as far as learning style, compared to Violet, and neither of them is a thing like Piper, so it's interesting, switching my own training styles as I move between dogs.

That's all for today. It's just a very interesting time, all of them are at important stages as far as learning, and I'm learning right along with them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dachshunds, grandparents, so on.

My grandmother is 65 this week - we had our little family dinner last night. I told her that I'd bake whatever she wanted, and she requested a cherry pie. (Mom's in next month - she wants a cannoli cake.) They've gotten a new dachshund, Chloe (an 8 year old, short-haired black and tan dapple), since Lizzie's untimely death, and Eric met her for the first time. She warmed up to us after a bit. Here are pictures.

Chloe and my mother's dachshund, Jack.

Jack is a cutie pie.

My grandparents.

Eric is not a dachshund person, but Jack could win anyone over.

I tossed a stuffed squirrel at my Gramps and took a picture. I don't know, I had the giggles. It was pretty entertaining. Doesn't take much. 

My mother lives in the apartment building next door to my grandparents. Her dog Jack carried his squirrel the entire way home without setting it down once.


Also, Eric noted last night that we have 18 dog bones in the house that aren't missing. I didn't believe him. He showed me. Actually, there are 21.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I have so much to be thankful for that I could never list it all here. But, naturally, I'll try.

I'm thankful for Eric. (Who, by the way, is blogging now.) I'll keep it short, but that man is my best friend. And I'm marrying him. He gets me, I get him, he makes me laugh so much, he takes care of me better than anyone ever could. He is such a pain in my ass, and I would trade it for absolutely nothing in the world.

I'm thankful for Violet. I don't know how I was ever without a Collie, and my world would be a less bright and vibrant place without her in it.

I'm thankful for Piper. Like Violet, I can't imagine how we were ever without her stoic, silly, serious self. Our co-pilot, Violet's best friend.

I'm thankful for Dewey. He's the token mutt that we never knew we needed until he came along and just fit in like he'd always been there. He's the easiest puppy I've ever raised, thank God.

I'm thankful for my parents and stepmother.

I'm thankful for my grandparents.

I'm thankful for my brothers and sister and brother in law.

I'm thankful for my sweet nephews.

I'm thankful for my upcoming-in-laws.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to start school in January.

I'm thankful for the time to pursue my hobbies - scrapbooking, photography, cooking, baking, reading, Sims, dog training...

I'm thankful for volunteer opportunities.

I'm thankful that we have a car that works.

I'm thankful for my friends.

I'm thankful for my health, and the health of my loved ones.

And since this is a dog-centered blog - holy meatballs I'm thankful for how the dogs behaved yesterday. It was their first big gathering, and Piper's just getting over her reactivity turbulence and Violet's just coming out of her intense, knock-you-over teenage exuberance, and the house was crammed full of people and food and a very energetic child...and we decided to go ahead and leave all 5 dogs roaming freely and hope for the best. (Well, semi-freely - Piper started out on a leash and Gentle Leader hooked to Eric's belt loop, but was quickly released for good behavior.) And it went perfectly. Violet didn't bark once (okay, once - but it was literally one bark), was impervious to any chaos, settled down with a bone. Slept through most of dinner. Let the 8 year old smoosh her against the back of the couch, lay on her, hug her around the neck, put a tiara on her head, anything. I've never been prouder. Piper was equally flawless. She sat calmly by Eric's side through dinner, was reserved but calm with Cassie (8 year old), sat like an angel for pictures in front of the tree. (These weirdos put up their Christmas stuff on Thanksgiving, after dinner.) She didn't have a single flicker of a second of issues with the behavioral problems we've been working through. Dewey, who tends to be just slightly skittish around children, was perfect with Cassie, settled into his open crate to nap during dinner, didn't have a single accident, chewing incident, nothing - he's 16 weeks old. It went off without one single hitch.

This morning we took Piper to Petsmart at 7am for Black Friday. We got there at about 6:55, 5 minutes before opening, and spent a little time in an extremely civilized, friendly line of about 15 people outside. It was very chill in the store, we got a couple dog beds, new collars for all, sweaters for Dewey, a bunch of toys, a Collie Christmas tree ornament, a velvet Christmas collar for Violet, for super super cheap. It was fun and stress-free, and the dogs' Christmas shopping is so done.

Cooking With Collies - Pie Edition.

Homemade graham cracker crust, homemade crust for pecan pie.

Pecan pie.

Dewey got a pre-Thanksgiving bath.  

Mary and Adam.

Under the table.

Mary making green beans.

Putting on Peep's Gentle Leader.

The (in)famous pearch cobbler.

Watching things from the living room.

Peep's place during dinner.

Dewey's place during dinner. Sound asleep, 3 feet from the dinner table.

And Violet's dinner spot. 

Eric's Nan.
Eric and Adam trying to find the light that didn't work.

My armadillo ornament. <3

GSD ornament.

Such a bad picture of me, but Peep... <3