Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stays with distractions

At Barbie's last obedience class, after everyone had done their test and passed (some took longer than others), we played a little game.

We were each given a stick of dried kangaroo, and a plastic cone. We had to put the roo under the cone, and then get the dog to down/stay 10 metres from it, and then walk to the cone, get the roo, walk back to the dog. Barbie didn't move. Her stay was as solid as I've seen it. I was very proud of her.

Then I realised that in the class there are probably less distractions than at home! I do down/stay practice with the dogs together. The cats are always around. Barbie is usually the one to break but she is learning quicker than Bender did when he was young. I think it's reinforcing Bender's stays as well. I can see he has deliberately planted himself on the ground. All his muscles are tense but he doesn't move.

Last night I had them both in a down stay and I was about 10 metres away, but still in sight. Mittens was dancing around in front of them and headbutting them but they did not break!

It will be very interesting to see how Barbie goes with all the activity at an agility class. She still has her timidness to overcome. I have been asked to write an article about Barbie for the Greyhounds As Pets newsletter. They haven't updated their testimonials page for a long time so I'm not sure if they are going to put it together, they will probably just wait for my article. I think I'll write it for her Gotcha day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Barbie passing level 1

(Barbie and Mittens chilling)

Barbie passed her level 1 test today. I am so proud of my little greyhound. She still didn't want to go with Desma when she led her away for the recall. I found a bigger tunnel today and Barbie actually put both her front feet into it. It's still not as big as a competition tunnel. The two little dogs went through the tunnel a lot. There is a little mop called Bowie who is still a pup, food motivated, toy motivated and loves the jumps and tunnels. They have joined up with Cloverdale agility club and I am looking forward to seeing him in action. Barbie was even sitting for the other people in the class. She is familiar with them all now and was willing to take direction from them!

Bender, Barbie, Nic and I are going to check out a local club on Friday night. Hopefully the Level 2 course will start soon, and then Desma is planning on holding the first Canine Good Citizen course in Western Australia (and Barbie will be the first WA Greyhound with a CGC). We need to suss out the club first in case they don't want a greyhound in their midst while the stupid laws are still in place. I won't be quoting the Dog Act to them though.

My ankle is healing up OK, and I can walk like a normal person. My finger is pretty gross looking, but I've adapted to typing with 9 digits instead of 10. I am looking forward to checking out the local agility club.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Greyhounds and Cats

Some friends warned me against getting a Greyhound.

"Your cats will get eaten" they said. I didn't believe them. I'm glad I didn't because Barbie is awesome. She makes my day every day.

Here is her interacting with her friend Frou frou.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

jumping practice

This video came at a cost! I twisted my ankle jumping over that first jump (not on the video)! I also haven't posted because I smashed my finger in the car door on Saturday so I can't really type.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jumping video!

Bender is actually a top class jumper. I think he will jump full height (I think he's a 60 cm dog) already. He got a bit sloppy after a few goes and knocked the old mop down so we stopped. He was getting a bit manic. I am going to try him out with jumping. It depends how he pulls up after doing a full course. He does have issue with his wrists after an hour of chasing his ball, so I'm not sure if jumps are doable for him or not.

Barbie can jump, she just doesn't when she has to think about it. Before I put the mop up, I saw her jump down from the retaining wall, take two steps and then jump the length of a xxlarge trampoline type dog bed. We'll get there. She approaches it all with a good attitude.

Teaching the dogs to salute

I was puttering around on the internet late yesterday, waiting for someone to come up and see me or respond to an email or something, and I googled 'cute tricks to teach your dog'.

The first one that I found which I was interested in was to teach them a 'salute'. The method was to put a piece of not-very-sticky tape on the dog's head and then ask them to sit. They then lift their paw to get the tape off their head, and you click, then treat.

Seemed pretty simple and I thought it would be a good trick for Bender because his sits are solid as a rock.

Bender is a strange dog though, and sometimes there's no accounting for his reactions!

I called Bender into the bedroom first, and shut Barbie out. I attempted to put the tape on his head. It really was not sticky as I'd stuck it to my jumper first. I told him to sit. I went to put the tape on his head. He ducked and dodged. I tried again. He ran away, put his tail between his legs and started grovelling.

Oh, dear.

I can't teach Bender salute that way, then.

I swapped dogs to give Barbie a go. Barbie was almost the opposite. I got her to sit, put the tape on her head, and it was like she didn't notice it was there! I touched it a couple of times, and she lifted the paw and swiped it off. So we got 3 successful salutes, click, treat. Then she stopped noticing it was there at all. I took it off her and we did some 'commando' just to finish on a positive note.

'Touch' is coming along OK. Bender is actually better at it. Barbie seems to lose interest. It's not challenging for her. I think we shall progress to touching objects.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The week that was - big plans that don't eventuate!

Due to an unforseen injury on Thursday morning, agility obstacles were not fabricated on the weekend ::sadface::

I had a very sore back. Now Barbie, bless her, has not yet mastered the art of jumping. She won't jump into my 4x4 because it's too far off the ground for her to contemplate. She will, however, scramble her way into the back seat of Nic's little Honda Civic which is probably a massive 30 cm off the ground if I throw treats in there.

When it came time to go to dog training on Saturday morning, there was no way that I was lifting the little princess into my car, so we took the Civic. Desma had a jumpy little dog with her, which I didn't think was one of hers. Turns out it was rescued from death row at the Gosnells pound. Desma asked for name suggestions and she got two - Bambi & Gremlin. I thought little Gremlin was adorable and looked like a 'small' variety 'camp dog' from the Goldfields. Desma thought she had Basenjii in the mix. She had all her adult teeth and was pretty snappy for treats. My hands smelled like the polony that I had been giving Barbie so when I tried to talk to Gremlin, I got a nip on the finger. When I got home I washed it out with disinfectant but it looks pretty gross at the moment. I thought Gremlin was adorable - I have a soft spot for high spirited dogs. I don't think Barbie shared my opinion, however. When little Gremlin started bouncing around too close, Barbie let out a bit of a warning growl. She doesn't put up with any nonsense, my Barbie.

Bender did better being left home alone this time. There was no crying or barking that I heard. When I got back I wasn't up to taking him out, but they both got a walk together in the late afternoon.

Sunday we went to the dog park. They didn't go last weekend and all their hiking was on-leash so they were both super excited. Bender was so excited that he escaped from the car and ran up and down the car park 3 times before I could talk sense into him. He also was so excited that he forgot to watch where his ball went when I threw it! I had to go after it too and find it for him. Gah.

Barbie took off for some blistering laps. I practiced her recall a bit - it's not 100% - she ignored me once (the chase was too interesting).... and then when I called her she trotted up to another woman, who was closer and similar in height to me. I think she was confused momentarily. I was like 'Barbie, you are meant to be a sight hound!' and everyone at the park laughed. She played chase with a young boxer pup, and it ran into the fence. Barbie almost hit the fence too. The boxer pup didn't seem too perturbed about the whole thing - it came back to her for more, but I told Barbie to leave it and she did.

The Huskies as usual were wrestling and making a lot of noise. Barbie kept zooming past them, passing centimetres from them and half speed - trying to distract them and get them to play her game. Some of the guys laughed at her for that too. She does provide a lot of entertainment.

I saw some sharpeis coming in the gate at one point, and the younger one was barking and snapping and carrying on, so I held Barbie gently by the collar. I didn't want her to get involved. They went for a lap around the park. Bender was getting other people to throw his ball, as usual, and wasn't in the slight bit interested in me. Then Barbie took off and the young, barky sharpei took of after her. He gave the best chase of the day, and he didn't give up but Barbie well and truly burned him off. Then I realised that the older, tan sharpei was Betty! Betty belongs to a friend of mine, who I hung out with a bit in Kalgoorlie. It was cool running into them, and I barely recognised Betty because she was walking a lot better than she used to. Poor Betty had a few mishaps as a pup that involved broken legs - but she is on glucosamine and fish oil and it's done her a lot of good.

The young sharpei's name was Frank. He didn't seem to like Bender very much (because Bender was ignoring him). He was great with Barbie though.

After an hour and a half, we called it quits. Bender was being silly and pulling on the lead on the way out. I think because there were two dogs waiting to come in who always harrass him. I trod on Barbie's foot and she let out the greyhound scream of death. Then she got tangled in her lead and she screamed some more! I told her to stop being silly and somehow managed to untangle her while keeping hold of Mr Boof Head. Everyone thought she was being murdered. She hasn't really screamed at the park before.

She's better than she used to be. She used to scream if you took hold of her collar! She knows she won't get sympathy from me. Although I did apologise for standing on her foot.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I choose you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Sweet Dogs!

Last Sunday we spent many hours down at Riverside Gardens awaiting the paddlers finishing the Avon Descent. The paddlers last year started finishing at about 11am, but this year because of the very low water levels, the paddlers were finishing at 1pm. The dogs were very well behaved, mostly.

We walked about a kilometer to the river, and Barbie walked very slowly. We put her muzzle on because there were City of Bayswater Rangers around and I didn't fancy being fined. Bender realised we were going to the river, got excited and started pulling like a freight train. Nic had trouble holding on to him for a while. When we got there he kept looking at us.

"Where's my BALL? Why are all these people at my park?"

It took him a little while to 'get' it. We even walked past the 'horsie' rides and neither of the dogs reacted to the horses. Which is good, because Bender is slightly freaked out by all farm animals. He hates cows the most, but he isn't a fan of horses either.

There were a couple of guys dressed up as sea captains, with boats they made out of foam hanging off their shoulders. They stopped to talk to us, and both the dogs dealt well with these two strange people waving these weirdly shaped pieces of foam around.

We found a spot to settle down in. Barbie decided she wanted some nearby people to pat her. She is a sweetheart. She will just stand next to someone and wait quietly for them to notice her. Then they do, and give her a scratch and she wags that long tail of hers. A 12 year old girl pretty much launched herself onto Bender while he was minding his own business. I think he gave her a kiss. She came back a second time. He loved her.

Bender also found a little scrappy dog, and crawled on his belly into it's family group in order to interact with it. The fluffy dog's family loved on him. Had a few hairy moments when Bender spotted soccer balls and footballs nearby. He lunged towards one and got his front feet on it. Nic managed to pull him away before he put holes in it!

After a while, they both settled on the blanket. Then Barbie found a comfy spot in Nic's shadow, and slept for an hour or so. Bender got a bit grumpy and started barking at dogs. We went home before the powerboats made it over the line. I think the doggies did really well, and I was very impressed with how confident Barbie was with so many people around. There were quite a few people who stopped us to tell us how unfair they thought the muzzle laws were.

I also got a letter this week from the Minister for Local Government. I had written to him about the muzzle laws. The letter stated that he would be drafting legislation to allow for retired greyhounds to go muzzle free by the end of the year. Good news for Barbie!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I have a photo post on it's way, but last night I got distracted.

I opened up Photoshop and started playing with a photo of Barbie. Somehow this photo took on a life of it's own and became a 'design'. I decided to see what it would look like on t-shirts, and jumpers and the like, so I logged into my unused Cafepress account. I placed it onto several pieces of merchandise, but then I realised that the bank balance wouldn't stretch to an order then and there.

Now I'm thinking about it - is wearing a jumper with an image of your own dog printed on it a bit too much? It's not as bad as wearing a jumper with an image of yourself printed on it, I suppose. I wonder if people make items of clothing with their children printed on them? I can't imagine any child being as pretty as Barbie, though. Maybe I'm biased as I tend to enjoy canine & feline company more than the company of humans.

In other news, the coordinator of Greyhounds as Pets here in Western Australia (Kerry) told me that she is going to put a youtube link and the stories I have told her about Barbie on their 'testimonials' page. I will post the link when it's done. She was particularly impressed with how I trained the 'sleep startle' response out of Barbie. The method, for the record, was throwing treats at her while she is fast asleep to make her start, but then realise it's raining food. It worked really well. I can't remember whose blog I borrowed the idea from! Manhandling her while teaching her to roll over has also helped. She doesn't mind if I drape myself over her now. She used to hate it!

I also sent Kerry a link to Jen's blog about her wonderfully versatile dogs. She really got a kick out of it.

While I am a beginner in these things, I have the support of my local dog trainer, Desma, in introducing Barbie to agility obstacles (she bought jumps and a tunnel in to class last weekend). I think teaching her to cope with agility obstacles will make Barbie a more confident hiker, and hopefully teach her how to use those gangly legs and powerful muscles of hers for movements other than running! We don't have a lot of space in our yard, but I am going to build a couple of jumps to practice with at home. I am now more confident in my ability to gain and hold Barbie's attention, while I am still learning her limits, I believe that we are not far off being able to do off leash agility training at one of the local clubs. I think I need to take her to an agility night just to see how she reacts to it all. We are going to start some target training tonight.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day One of the Avon Descent

Oh, we're in the car again?

We went for a drive out to Toodyay to watch the poor suffering paddlers who took on the race down the Avon/Swan River despite the pathetic water levels. There were no free rides today and I think a lot of the paddlers appreciated the puppies watching them.

We walked along the river for an hour or so, checking out new vantage points...

It was very fun! Barbie had already been to obedience class for an hour, and Bender had been to the river closer to home. By the end of the day the Greyhound was most tired!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I was in the kitchen doing the dishes last night when I heard the familiar sound of greyhound claws gripping the carpet in the act of running, as well as her collar rattling like she was shaking her head. I flicked the suds off my hands and made for the living room. In the minute it took me to get there, Barbie had stopped what she was doing, and was standing, tail swishing slowly, looking sweetly up at me.

I could not figure out why she had been running around like a maniac.

Then I looked at her bed. Two of my shoes were right there, from different pairs. I threw her her kittie fluffy, and she ran around with that instead.

She definately has a shoe fetish.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Being vocal

As far as greyhounds go, Barbie isn't exceptionally verbal.

But tonight she had a good old yap at Bender, and I can't think of a reason, other than the fact that he is, again, asleep in her crate. She was sitting on the couch, staring at him, her ears up, and she started with a whingy sort of sound, which progressed into short sharp barks, until I told her off. Bender responded with a growl. I am not sure if she wanted to go in there or not but I don't think she likes Bender in there.

I successfully got her to go in there more than a few times tonight by feeding her dinner in portions and then stashing a stuffed Kong. In order to succeed I had to put Bender outside. As soon as I let him in, he was back in the crate!

I think I am going to have to buy another one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 4 of roll-over training...

I think she's made progress.

On the other hand, I got a nice big crate for her and when she saw it, the expression of disgust on her face was priceless! Bender proceeded to go lie in it, and when he left, the cats went in, but Barbie hasn't put more than her two front feet in. It was like she knew exactly what it was and didn't want a bar of it! I've put her bed in there and fed her in there. I will take it slowly with her. I have a feeling that Bender will be in there a lot of the time though!

Monday, August 2, 2010

More Dog Training

I will get some new videos up on the weekend. Barbie actually offered a 'roll over' tonight even though I didn't ask for it. So now she offers sit, then lie down, then paw, then roll over.

Bender is getting commando now, though he does it slowly, like houndstooth's description of the 'Old Yeller Routine'. Bender is definitely slower on the uptake than Barbie is.

Here is a picture of me and Barbie at obedience class taken by my lovely friend Kim.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Barbie at the Dog Park

I have two very exhausted puppies lying in my living room. Here is probably Barbie's third of fourth sprint for the day. She did a few more after that too. Notice the dog she was trying to get to chase her gave up, sat in the water trough, and then rejoined the chase on the second lap.

I have to get better editing software and then I can upload some more high resolution videos.

Intense Debate

I have installed intensedebate to allow comment threading and the like. Let me know what you think.

We're all off to the dog park now!
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