Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keep 'em busy

Some days, I just don't have the time/daylight/weather to make sure the dogs get the exercise they need to be satisfied. If I have a little bit of time, I hold longer or more frequent training sessions in the house. However, there are times where I come home with just enough time to go to bed so I can get up and be productive at the work in the morning.

Those are the days I pull out the interactive toys. Eating kibble from a bowl is not very exciting so I use use the interactive toys to make the dogs to work for their dinner. It takes longer for them to eat and it requires them to use their brains.

One of my favorite toys is the Squirrel Dude from Premier. The large sized toy can hold a whole cup of kibble, the medium holds slightly under half a cup. Here is a video of Tanner and Shine working on their Squirrel Dudes.

The other toy from Premier that I like to use is the Tug - A -Jug. We haven't had these toys as long but Tanner is quite adept and getting his treats out of it.

When using one of these toys for the first time, I used a small sized kibble and put in some bits of beef jerky to provide extra motivation for Tanner. Once he learned how to manipulate each toy to get the treats out, I moved to a normal sized kibble and using less jerky. I wouldn't have to use any jerky now but I like to spoil him.

Shine often gets a portion of her dinner in one of these toys regardless of the amount of exercise she has received. I like the fact that it takes her longer to eat this way.

There are many other types of interactive toys out there, these are just two of our favorites. I would love to hear if any of you have favorites that we should try as well!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Greyhound Space Issues

One of the traits I dislike about greyhounds is their space issues. When laying down many of them have a "personal space" that they don't like other dogs invading. And they let them know when startled or touched. I have noticed over the years that most of my dogs are happy to lay next to or on other dogs until somewhere around 6 months then things change and they prefer to lay apart.
Lisa's greyhounds(one of which is Darby)tend to show this trait less than my dogs. One day I realized she asks her dogs to be in proximately of each other and deal with it. Hum...I thought can this behavior/tolerance be trained?

Lyric and Darby's picture was taken today. Lyric was asked to lay next to Darby to have her nails dremmeled. Darby didn't seem to mind in the least and seemed to find her flank a nice pillow. Lyric seemed okay with being a head rest.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bacchus the cat

Time for an update on the cat situation. Unfortunately Genghis the cat wasn't a fit in the household and had to be rehomed/returned. Rarely have I ever had a pet not work out but Genghis wasn't happy about being picked up and handled. In fact he downright resented being handled and would lash out. Although I found a new home for Genghis as an outdoor barncat the rescue group wanted him back so back he went. In his place is Bacchus known as Ping at the shelter. The economy is taking a terrible toll in California. I think we are worse off than the rest of the country. Ping was turned in just over a year ago because his owners lost their house and had to move. Ping wasn't allowed to move into the apt so his owners drove over an hour to take him to the no kill shelter Town Cats

Bacchus is an excellent cat and is fitting in quite well. He obviously had never been around dogs but is quickly learning to hold his ground-and the dogs will leave him alone. Now if only Miss Cleo would be as tolerant!

While at the shelter I noticed all the cats had ear mites to some extent. In talking to the shelter people they were aware of the problem but were only able to treat so many cats a week. Consequently they couldn't get rid of the mites since all animals have to be treated at the same time. Since I mentor veterinary students from the new veterinary school Western University in Southern California I decided to make a field day and take the students down to the shelter and treat all cats for ear mites and fleas. We did physical exams and treatment plans for the sickest cats. In addition to the veterinary students I recruited many additional helpers with cat experience. We treated 165 cats one Sunday and at least 50 cats were feral!! Quite a learning experience for the students-and for me. Exhausting but tremendously rewarding to help so many cats.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dog Fun

Since I ask a lot from my dogs I try to be fair and give back to them what they enjoy most-free running. Luckily I live close to many East Bay Regional parks which allow dogs off leash. These parks generally are many hundreds to thousands of acres. Wild life and wide open spaces abound.

The dogs particularly like water ponds to run and play

The smallest stick or bark can start a game of chase

A tired dog is a happy dog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dog Cars

Why I Suffer a MiniVan

I say suffer because there is no looking cool in a minivan, like say you would in a nifty little sportscar or convertible or even an older SUV (like my old Bronco!). There is NOTHING you can spice it up with that will make you anything more than a Middle Aged PTA Soccer-Mom to every other driver on the road, even if you have no children and play old-skool punk at full volume. A MiniVan is just not a fun vehicle, utilitarian and convenient yes, but fun? Not really. But I have 4 reasons to own one.

3 big dogs and 1 little troublemaker need lots of space to travel. And dog pillows. And fuzzy blankets. It looks like a harem quarters south of the drivers seat. I don't crate my dogs when I take them in the van, so they need to get along and have reliable car manners. I'm very proud of them in that respect. Everybody knows 'in the car', they each find a spot and curl up. Dee likes the front passenger seat, Darby likes the back bench seat as his perch when I have it locked in place (funny, just like his mother), Dretti likes to lay with his head propped up on the center console, and Q pretty much takes whatever space is left over. Nobody fusses or snipes. Once we're underway, nobody moves, unless it's to smear noses on the side windows until I open them up so they can taste the wind. Darby is tall enough to stand and get his face out the window easily, Dretti and Dee aren't quite tall enough so usually you just see their noses skimming the top of the open window. Funny. The sunroof is fun, it allows for GPS (greyhound positioning system) and the ever entertaining flappy-wind-lip.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tracking Harness

All dressed up with no test to enter.

Although there are nicer tracking harnesses out now my tracking harness has used on every one of my greyhounds since I started tracking 25 years ago. It has used for certifing and testing all my dogs since my original greyhound Shattab(Ch Ekohils Cinnamon Life CD CC TDX VCX). All in all it has been used for 7 TDs and 5 TDXs titles. It has a lot of sentimental value as well as being quite a durable piece of equipment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tracking Tests

Tracking season has started along with the frustration of entering tests. Whisper is ready for TDX tests but so far hasn't drawn into a test-she is an alternate.

Tracking is the only sport that randomly draws for enteries. That means even if you are the first entry sent and received you have no greater chance than the last dog's entry to get into the test. There are so few tests for so many dogs. Once the deadline closes all the enteries are put in a hat and the first dog drawn gets into the test and so on until the limit is reached. Since TDX tests are so much work and need so much land to plot the tracks generally only 2-3 tracks are offered. Occationally if a club is holding only a TDX test-not combined TD/TDX there may be 5 tracks offered. The most recent trial I entered offered 5 tracks with a 16 dog entry. If one is lucky enough to get in the test you still have to pass and the pass rate is only around 15%. One year I applied to every TDX test and never drew a track. Hopefully Whisper will be luckier.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Whisper's Weekend

Most of my recent posts have been about agility. My next posts will be about my new cat-or tracking-or anything else but agility.

The same weekend I entered Lyric of course I entered Whisper. She is a fun responsive dog to run. She is learning to really love the game and always wants her turn. Hopefully my handling is getting up to her speed. I know she would like to go faster than I can handle her. Consistently she is better in Jumpers than Standard. She earned her MXJ this weekend with this run.


In Standard we seem to have problems consistently hitting the contacts. So each run I am worried about the dog walk or the A frame and something else happens. In the below run she is handling well but after the tire I have to call her off the table. Later in the course I send her to the table. She looks at me to make sure I am sure that is the next obstacle. Well in Excellent B that fails her run. Frustrating because how to train for that. Better direction I guess. Oh well at least we hit the contacts!


On the last day I am very cautious of the contacts and now nervous about the table as well. She QQed that day.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Lyric's Agility Weekend Part 2

The first of a three agility trial dawned cold and grey. Perfect weather for running a greyhound. Lyric had to wait all day for her Open Jumpers class. Whisper had some nice runs earlier but I will post her results in a different blog.

To encourage Lyric I took in to the agility building and played with her over the practice jump. Lots of encouragement for quick returns to hand. We also did what our trainer Nancy called running heel. We would run as fast as I could with her trying to outrun me but paying attention to staying with me. Then I would throw a food or toy reward out ahead of me or sometime it would be in hand. The whole idea is a fun game of chase. By paying attention and staying with me she gets her reward.

So I waited nervously for her turn. Finally it was our run and she seemed comfortable entering the ring. I had decided no leadouts this trial rather run with her from the start. She ran the course with no refusals and no indication of wanting to leave the ring. She did however seem slow and unsure of her self. We definitely haven't worked as a team for long. Our cues to each other are rusty. I was unsure how much she remembered-at one point I questioned could she do a wrap for right handed weavepoles(she could). She qualified and earned first place-and her first leg.

Her run the next day was more confident but she NQ by taking a wrong entrance to the tunnel. The rest of the run was good. By the third day she was enjoying the attention and actually pulled me into the agility building to "play" and have her turn.

Her third run was another qualifying run and she handled more confidently more responsive than her previous runs. I love her attitude at the completion of the third run. She was headed straight for the exit and could have left. Instead she quickly and happily came to her name. She earned her second leg with a second place.


After the trial and at home with her reward.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lyric's Agility Weekend-Part 1

All of my posts about agility have been about Whisper's efforts. Lyric was injured about 1 1/2 yrs on her third novice jumpers leg. She flayed back some skin on her foreleg in a tunnel and never forgot. She earned her Novice Jumpers title but went no further-she hasn't wanted to play the agility game since.

It has been a long year and a half trying to convince her it really can be fun. Various training methods were tried and discarded. At times I would feel like I was making progress only to have her run out of the training area again. Along the way I learned less is more with her. I learned an actual agility class was way too much for her. Most of the recent training efforts concentrated solely on fun and playing chase. If she missed a jump I directed her to-oh well my goal was only that she was happy and running with me. Very little to no teaching weavepole entrances, front/rear crosses or actual competition skills. The months went by and I mostly concentrated on Whisper and recently Echo. I started catching glimmers that Lyric wanted her turn again. Two agility matches said she might. Over New Years Eve was a big three day trial. As she knew and I hope remembered the basics of agility from pre-injury I decided to enter her in Open Jumpers and see if she would stay in the ring and work with me. Qualifying runs were not a goal but would be a bonus. If she decided to stop or run out the ring I had decided I would give up and just continue training her in other areas.

The next posts will describe her weekend.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you a year of joy!
Aragon Greyhounds