Sunday, February 27, 2011

Froufrou the cat convertor

Froufrou came from an automotive wrecking yard that my dad was working at. He told me about this sweet grey kitten who would sit on his desk all day and purr at him. He ha already taken a few cats home from the yard and didn't have room for her, so he asked me if I would like to have her.

I said of course, because I was getting a puppy too and I wanted them to grow up together.

I borrowed a cat box from a friend and went to the yard with my mum and dad. Froufrou tried to run away because all of the cats in the yard knew that a cat box meant they were going to be taken away. Most of the cats made themselves scarce, except for a big white cat, who was meowing and trying her best to get my attention. My mum had to pick up the white cat and hold her so that dad could catch Froufrou for me. He finally got her and we put her in the box. I drove her an hour home. I wanted to take the white cat too but she struck me as kind of predatory - I thought she would scratch little Bender's eyeballs out.

When I let Frou out of the box she freaked out. She had never been inside a house before.

Eventually she settled down into home life and bonded with Bender puppy despite his habit of chasing and mouthing her.

I went overseas a few times in the first couple of years of Froufrou's life, and we left friends to look after her. Everyone who looked after Froufrou fell in love with her, but she was shy and would take a while to get used to new people.

Then I joined couchsurfing and we had a lot of different people staying with us. Froufrou went from hiding under the couch or bed for two days before coming out to meet people, to being on their laps within the first half an hour.

Frou on your lap purring and rolling around is very very cute. Almost irresistible in fact. She is a class A cuddler.

One of my friends said 'you should have named your cat convertor.'

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Froufrou sits!

Froufrou shows her sit on command. I really should train her to do more, as she is very food motivated. Problem is she tends to drop treats, and then the dogs come in looking for leftovers. There is a great three way smooch with two puppies and a kitten!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Barbie's High Five Trick

I saw that a friend of a friend on Facebook had taught his young Border Collie pup this trick in like... 5 minutes, and I thought, Barbie could do that.

So I sat her down, held my hand out flat and asked for a High Five. She pawed at various bits of me til she got my hand and got rewarded. In usual bright Barbie fashion she picked it up quickly, and now I can get a High Five while I'm standing.

Next is to teach 'wave'.

I also tried to teach Barbie to weave through my legs as per Hsin-Yi's suggestion of throwing the treat between my legs so that Barbie would go after it, and then come around the front for some more. The problem with that is after a few repetitions she hung around behind me and wouldn't come back around the front! I think I can probably teach her that way but maybe not when it's so hot! It was 38 degrees today and the heat is really sapping Barbie's energy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First scratch

This is what Mittens looked like a few days after we found her howling her lungs out in our front yard.

She was a gorgeous kitten and I really thought someone would be looking for her. I called all the local vets and put posters up around the neighbourhood, but noone claimed her.

While she looked cute, she had a bit of feral about her. She did not like to be picked up or held. She would yowl and carry on until you put her down, but she never scratched anyone.

Even now, she accepts being picked up, and patted (some times) but she does not like it.

Both my cats are inside cats, as I don't believe the neighbourhood is safe for kitties prowling around by themselves, and I don't want them trespassing into other people's yards or catching native lizards and birds.

Froufrou has grown fat and lazy and doesn't mind that she spends her life indoors. Mittens on the other hand is always ready to make a break for it.

This morning I got up at 5.30 to let Barbie out for a wee, and Mittens escaped out the back door. I had to chase her into the garden, pick her up and bring her back inside. She ran away from me as quickly as her little legs could carry her, saying 'brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt' as she went. She then stopped and rubbed her head on the pavers manically, scent marking. I grabbed her and carried her back inside, and she was grumbling under her breath.

It sounded a bit like 'meewwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemm'.

Just as I got in the door and let her go, she scratched me as she jumped down.

So Mittens has lost her title as 'the only cat I've ever had who hasn't drawn blood...'

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guess who is officially a Good Citizen?

Barbie passed her CGC with flying colours today, along with two other dogs - Poppy (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and Bowie (Cav King Charles Spaniel x Toy Poodle). An Honorable mention goes to Kumo the Japanese Spitz, who didn't quite pass today , but I'm sure he will next time!

As Barbie and I did all the facets of the test first, Barbie is the first dog in Western Australia to pass the Canine Good Citizen qualification. I expect there will be an article in the Greyhounds As Pets newsletter. One I don't have to write!

We all did our Level 1 and Level 2 courses together and it is amazing seeing what everyone has achieved with their dogs. Poppy is the calmest Staffy I have ever met now - though when we first met her in level 1 class she was the kind of dog who would try and jump up to lick your face. Bowie is a really smart and lovely little fella, and never really seemed to have much trouble with the test requirements (except for supervised separation), and Kumo just needs a bit more doggie confidence. Barbie's weakness is anything that requires her to hold a 'sit' so we had to repeat the 'sit and wait in the doorway' exercise, and the 'sit and accept pats from a friendly stranger'. Something that she was disadvantaged at because she doesn't like to sit (yes, she can do it, but it just takes more effort to hold herself in that position than it does for other dogs)! I was very impressed with her performance with everything else though.

I am really happy with the way she handled the situation (spending all morning, running each of the dogs through the 12 parts of the test, one at a time), and how she chilled out and relaxed on her blankie between exercises. Conserving energy is important!

Anyway a big shout out to Billy's Doggie Daycare for providing the venue and volunteers, to Desma's Dog Training for going the whole way with this CGC thing, and Leslie from Good Manners for being our independent assessor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bender's new dance move...

I mentioned in my previous post that I was teaching Bender to go 'through' my legs. I had to get hands on with Bender as he was just dancing around and getting frustrated so I gave him a bit of physical guidance as well as luring with a treat. This is the result after a couple of sessions.

He gets it but I think my flailing arms are confusing him a little. He seems proud of himself that he learned a new trick though!

N got home from a swing at work and I showed her the new tricks. She was impressed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

barbie's 'pray'

So she's mainly got 'pray', next time I'll work on the head position, but it kind of looks like praying! :) she's got it down in one move now but I think she's being queued by the object (the chair) as well as the verbal command. I will work on it with park benches and stuff like that when we are out.

I think I need to get one of those 101 trick books to see how many I can get Barbie to do. She is such a sharp little cookie.

So here is the video. Excuse Bender's barking. I am proud of Barbie not being distracted though. Also note Mittens lazing on the couch, she is probably thinking 'I'm glad I'm not a dog!'

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Barbie, Bender, N & I went on a different walk last night. The walk that requires us to cross the train line. It has probably been a few months since we have walked that way because Barbie is scared of trains, and would stop and refuse to walk any further towards the level crossing.

Last night though she did really well. She watched the trains go past with only slight trepidation and willingly took treats. She didn't freeze up at all when we were heading back although she was clearly a little hypervigilant.

I am so proud of my little greyhound. She has gotten much more confident in the past 6 months. I think CGC training has helped her as well as taking her to many different places to socialise with other people and dogs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dogs at the Tour Down Under

As I mentioned previously, we recently went over to Adelaide to watch a bike race. The Tour Down Under was 6 days of bike racing, and in the end was won by WA rider, Cameron Meyer.

While the cycling was exciting and awesome, we were without our dogs for 10 days. There were a lot of people bringing their dogs to the stage starts and finishes, and they attracted our attention.

This fellow was very charming and calm as he wandered through the crowd.

Shelties are just so pretty.

When waiting to get on the bus for the Mutual Community Challenge ride, I met this lovely old Border Collie called Jess. She belonged to the truck driver who was transporting our bikes to the start line. She had found the only stick in the place (it was a massive car park) and was trying to get people to throw it for her. She also accepted scritches and cuddles.

I love this old fellow's beard! He looks like a Schnauzer x Labrador. Talk about mystery dogs!

This pup was one of my favorites. We had a good play and he used his sharp little teeth on us.

There were a lot of socialising opportunities for the Tour dogs. I think next time we go we will have to do a road trip, drive across the nullabor and take the doggies with us.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shaping behaviours

I think I'm finally starting to understand why Barbie is so much easier to teach tricks to!

The way that I teach my dogs is to take an 'offered' behaviour and shape it into a trick.

So when I taught Barbie 'paw' (or cockroach) - it was because when she was really happy and I would stoop down to her level she would roll onto her back and wiggle her feet in the air. I almost taught it to her by accident. 'Roll over' then was just an extension of that.

Last night I was playing with the dogs, and got the treats out to see what they would do. They both sat, lied down, did commando, and a few other things, but then Barbie started lifting up her left paw in the sit. So I started getting her to put her paws on a cushion which I was holding against my thigh from a sit position. I think this is going to be 'say your prayers' where I put the cushion on a chair and get her to put her feet up on that from a sit, and then get her to put her head down.

The problem with Bender is that he hardly ever offers something new when I'm training/playing with them. He is very solid in the things he has learned how to do, and once he has them in his head he is more consistient than Barbie. For instance now I can get him to spin three times before he gets a treat and he's very confident at jumping through a hula hoop that I'm holding in the air. His sits and downs are solid.

It's like Barbie is the 'flashy' dog and Bender's the old tractor. She likes to learn new things while Bender is happy plodding along and doing everything 'right'.

Anyway video of new tricks to come....
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