A brain appears

We had a lovely session with the dumbbell yesterday. Got lots of nice quiet holds of at least a couple of seconds, and I was able to let go of it a few times as long as I kept his chin palm rest available. It's easier for him to think when he's lying down. Have to remember that.

And this morning he's showing a Giant Schnauzer brain. His favourite little soft ball that is the only thing he chews but doesn't shred hid under the couch. I saw the lightbulb go on. He came and got me and led me back to show me where the ball had gone. I lifted up the couch so he could get the ball. He got it. I put the couch back down. He DELIBERATELY rolled it under the couch again. Yes he bloody well did.

I lifted up the couch and got the ball myself and tossed it away into the kitchen. He brought it back and rolled it under the armoire. I moved the armoire and he got the ball. I turned around and he was rolling it into the middle of my office chair legs - and yep, it got stuck in there.

I see Hell gaping open in front of me. I HAVE to show him how to roll the ball down stairs so he can chase it without it getting lost.

Long day training

First to the bathing pet store for a walk-about. Very well-behaved. I WILL use the halter for some time to come, but I want to use it as little as I can because it's really easy to see how using it becomes a habit. It's very easy to think that he's controlling himself when it's the halter that's doing the job. It's easy to think the leash is loose because I can control him with only a little pressure on the halter. It would be easy to think he was learning things that he isn't actually learning. The halter is ONLY a means to get him out and about so he can see that meeting people calmly is more fun than not meeting them at all, and also, unfortunately, a means of controlling him physically while my shoulder is screaming for mercy. Four more bloody months until I get a new one (I can't believe I let Ron talk me into waiting that long - obviously it didn't hurt as much then as it does now), and then as I understand it, another three or four of rehab, and we really want to have Syn ready for Courier Excellent and Masters Water Dog next summer.

I bought them a kicksled.
Of course he's too young to do any actual work yet, but I'm hoping once the city walking trails get hard packed, Syn will show him how to pull it. She does 90% of the work no matter what dog she's running with (which was truly an adventure with Syn and Stitch in Brace Draft Dog where I spent the entire course surreptitiously whispering at Stitch to at least LOOK like she was doing something and at Syn to rein back and let Stitch do some of it). Combine that with my shoulder and fibromyalgia and we might get a couple of blocks of actual pulling involved. He won't be old enough for draft tests next summer, but that'll give him a good start.

I still have my dear old racing dog sled
but it's badly in need of varnish and retaping, new runners wouldn't hurt, and it won't fit in car, whereas the kicksled folds flat.

Anyway, back to Bobo.

After the store adventure, we spent a couple of hours working with Barbara and Dori. Barb and I had lots to talk about so Spy and Dori had a good loooong wrestle and rip - backwards, I believe strongly in training and THEN playing - and then we worked.

We got a lot done - crossed off another five or six Level 2 behaviours. Even though it feels like I'm hardly doing anything, we seem to be getting through the behaviours nicely. He has virtually nothing in the way of duration, but distances are great. He especially loves behaviours that involve objects - jump and go-around and go to mat and crate.

One that we tried about a month ago that didn't go well that we got a really good start on today was shutting a cabinet door. The first time we tried it he kept banging into the door and shutting it with his hip (see the entry from yesterday with the cat food cans) - got the job done but not what I wanted. This time he got targeting the spot on the wall immediately and closed the door four times. He doesn't have that one yet. So far he thinks the click is for poking the door with his nose but hasn't done it enough that I can start letting the click of the door be his click.

Tomorrow we'll work on the retrieve some more, and then I'll be off to Saskatoon for another few days.

The Screamer

In his regular pet store yet again yesterday with his halter on, he was brilliant. Next time we'll try it without.

So we went to a new shop, and at the cash register there was a Screamer. OH MY GOD I NEVER KNEW THERE WERE BIG ONES! OOOH HE'S SO CUTE! HELLO SWEEEETIEEEE! Oh. My. Gawd. Greeting Dogs 101, lady - NO SCREAMING. No dancing around waving your hands as if your fingers are on fire, no bouncing up and down.

In retrospect, he was actually remarkable sane, although nowhere near sane. With the help of the halter I managed to keep his feet on the floor and, when he seemed incapable of cooperating, to turn him back toward me, get eye contact, and remind him to breathe, after which he turned back and did a pretty good job of saying hello.

Then we walked calmly around the store for half an hour, sniffing dog food and keep "our" noses away from the unwrapped treats. And then... and then... and then I called his name because he was getting too far ahead of me just as we walked by an entire shelf of stacked little cans of cat food, and dear little Ferdinand turned immediately back to see what I wanted, this wiping out the entire shelf with his butt. There were cans everywhere. I tried to help pick up, but I wasn't much help seeing as how I was trying to keep him from eating the cans and flossing the screamer's teeth at the same time. After we got them picked up I figured I'd better buy something and then we left.


Today we went to the physiotherapist again. Remarkably, since his last visit two weeks ago, his front feet have straightened out
and on the way home, he spotted some Gigglers (obviously he thought they were kin to the Screamer) in the parking lot:

Sorry about the leash, he caught me by surprise.

We've got some stretching and massaging homework to do to keep his front end loose. Apparently galloping through the snow tightens it up.


He's got the pet shop cased. He can greet everybody in there politely. Time to try the other pet shop. Then we'll go back to the first one and try it without the halter. He was also good in front of Costco today, but it was too cold to stay for long.

Last night he fell off the bed. At least he woke up this time. Let me describe the talent it takes to fall out of bed, though. It's a waterbed. Basically a water balloon inside a bed-shaped cup. I couldn't fall out of it. Babies can't fall out of it. He's amazing.

Halters! Yes!

Went to the vet first this afternoon to get some pills for Stitch and a weight on Spider. 29.5 kg. Spent some wonderful time in the waiting room. Peed outside before we went in, walked politely through the door. I had to back up a few times to get out of the porch and into the waiting room on a loose leash, but once we got in he was lovely. Got on the scale (he loves to get on things)(he lives to get on things). Then we hung around a bit as various dogs went in and out. He was particularly enamoured of a very nice Greyhound with a coat and a pretty necklace. The owner and I agreed that they could meet if Spider could keep his paws on the ground. He couldn't. And then he had his long-expected hissy fit about having a halter on that prevented him from talking to the Grey. Lay down on the floor pawing at it. It was vehement but very short-lived. Once he stopped and settled down, he got to sniff the Grey's butt. Another couple of minutes of hanging with the odd reward for being civilized and we walked out on a sweet loose leash.

Next stop was Home Depot where we spent half an hour outside the entrance. Again, a polite walk from the car to the entrance. Spider wagged his tail every time he saw a person approaching, but maintained his composure, seeing a person and then turning to me to get a treat. Eventually people came and asked (!) to speak to him. I explained that he was young and in love but otherwise safe, and he got to meet a LOT of people. MUCH easier to keep his feet on the ground with the halter, mostly due to the mechanics of the situation. A tight leash doesn't have to go through his neck to his nose, but pulls his nose away directly. By the end of the half hour he was still overcome with glee by every person who touched him, but it was taking him longer to lose his cool and he was spending very little time trying to leap.

One lovely couple came up and said "We used to have a Giant Schnauzer!" I asked them where they got it and they said "From Sue Ailsby". That was funny. Good people from 30 years ago! They gave Spy a good scrub in all the right places.

And eventually a lovely loose-leash walk back to the car.

We were out for 6 hours, what with one chore and another, and once again I'm struck by what a blessing it is to have a dog who's good in the car. Little man didn't make a peep all day. The large delicious bone in his crate was only partially responsible for his behaviour. He's a good pup.