quiet days

Husband left on mission again early this morning – I had to drive him down to where they were being transported from, just before 0100. Took the dogs with, and Azzie (being the sensitive fur child that she is) picked up on my husband’s excitement and nervousness and impatience (the army does things in weird roundabout ways that take ages) and behaved like a complete crazy idiot. She leaped around and barked and whined and bashed into people and pulled me around. Husband lost his temper (not his fault – a lot going on) and couldn’t understand why she was behaving like that – I tried to explain that she was just picking it up from him, but he felt he was being calm and didn’t agree. On the surface he looked very calm, but she’s a sensitive dog, so she saw what was really going on inside him. This was proven when we said goodbye to him and headed back to the car – we were barely 10m away and she was suddenly calm, relaxed, walking easily on the lead with no pulling and no excitement. Hopped in the car just fine and all three dogs were quiet on the way home – heads out the window like usual – and they didn’t even bark at the MP and gate guards like they did on the way out.

So next time we go say goodbye or send him off somewhere and the dogs come with we will ALL be glugging some Rescue Remedy down :)

Dogs are amazing, really. Can’t hide anything from them.

The “silence’ experiment is going quite well: I’ve been walking them in near complete silence, with only positive remarks occasionally. I think that my tone when I speak all the time is perhaps confusing the dogs because my body language says something else, or my energy or something, I really don’t know. Or maybe it’s because by not talking I’m expressing my frustration/annoyance less, so it’s helping me remain calm? Could be a combination of all of that. We’ve encountered a few dogs in the distance and while my dogs have been interested (a bark from Odin, a small whine from Azzie and Gina puts her tail up and huffs) we’ve kept on walking without incident and with very little resistance from the dogs, even while the dog we’re passing by goes nuts on the end of their lead. We haven’t seen the Smug Man and his Husky recently: that will be the ultimate test for this experiment.

 

Now I have to get back into “mission mode” while my husband is away. I have to stop checking my phone for messages, and stop expecting to see him pull into our parking lot in Helga (our BMW) or hear his key in the front door lock. Will take a few days for me to sleep as well. Always does.

 

Progress

Just wanted to update everyone on Odin’s progress with settling in. We just got back from an AWESOME dog training session – he mingled with other dogs, with no issue except with a very dominant over excited young German Shepherd named Delta and when Punchen arrived (the deaf Great Dane puppy – the size of a small horse already) the excitement levels in the ring went a bit over his comfort zone, so we quietly slipped out. He also had a bit of an issue with Buddy (a stray/rescue from Spain) but I think that’s because Buddy is so unbalanced (waivers between terrified/anxious and dominant/over excited) and Odin is actually a very balanced dog, since he had to be a real dog his whole life. He had quite a calming influence over a crazy, dominant German Hunting dog called Nina as we went for a short walk together (he needed to poop, and he doesn’t like doing it in front of all the other dogs, weirdly enough) and by the end of it she was much calmer. Still a feisty little thing, but much more relaxed around him.  Odin did the rally course (obedience course) twice and was near perfect – seriously: his only mistake was when I asked him to “wait” and I walked around him, he lay down instead of standing. That was it. Otherwise – BEAUTIFUL! Stephanie (Punchen’s owner, and the one who supervises the rally course) was so impressed by him and how far he’s come.

We also did a little bit of agility – he walked the raised ramp, even did the see-saw (raised up to a normal height, with a little help from the instructor) and I started him getting used to the weave poles: he’s a little wary of the plastic mounts for the poles. We also did some jumps (the instructor even raised them to give him a little challenge) and he did them really well :)
I was so proud!

On our walk this morning we also encountered a military working dog at the main gate and he was quite calm (calmer than Azzie, who I had to correct: but she also behaved after that) and I had no issues with him.

 

It was a good day. Long may it continue!

 

well pleased

This last weekend was our second attempt at dog obedience/training classes.
We took Odin on his own on Saturday, but unfortunately due to staffing issues, the trainer couldn’t stay and had to return to OR to man the desk/counter, so instead I sent Odin and husband off to walk with the only other people who pitched up: Punchen (not sure how to spell it) the deaf, albino Great Dane pup (only 7 months old and he is over 130lbs) and his owner, Stephanie. Initially Odin was very wary of the big lug, but my husband said that as they walked, he got over it, and eventually they were walking side by side for quite a bit of the walk. That’s awesome news.
And then Sunday, the trainer suggested we take Odin early, on his own, for the “puppy play class” just so he could chill and watch and see how things went without worrying about Azzie. He didn’t have to do anything (but he did go into the agility arena for a walk around with the other pups) and he just chilled, while the puppies ran around and played together. My husband said he was very good – just a few “moments” but much better.
Then I arrived with Az and G, and this time around I let Azzie greet all the dogs (on her own) and she was 99% better. She’s a social dog and likes to meet everyone, which is my main issue: when the dog doesn’t WANT to meet Azzie she still wants to go say hi – so I thought that letting her say hi and interact a bit with the others would put her more at ease… and it WORKED!!
I was so proud of her! The only barking/craziness came when she was playing with husband and Ods in the “time out” area (it’s enclosed, so he took them in there for them to play when we got there – as Odin desperately wanted to play with his big sister, after watching all the other dogs play together) even though they weren’t in time out, while I took Gina into the agility arena and ran her through that. Gina was AWESOME!! Everyone was so impressed. She didn’t do the raised walking thing, or the rigid tunnel (it was set up in a curve, so she couldn’t see the other side, and she’s never done it before so the trainer said don’t worry about it this time) and she did a shortened version of the soft tunnel, but she jumped everything, and even did the see-saw and BOTH sets of weave poles :) I was so pleased with her! She was also very pleased with herself! She LOVES to do that stuff!
Now that Odin knows some of the commands (he does, however lay down for “sit” and for “down” and for “relax” and for “gentle” – but we’re working on getting him to tell the difference) I took him through the rally course (obedience course) and while he was a little wary of the pieces of laminated plastic attached to the cones, he did really well :) He really is a smart dog, and is coming along so nicely. Everyone noted his progress, just as everyone commented on how good Azzie was this time around too.
Next week, I want to take Azzie through the agility course, and maybe even Odin… and then impress everyone with Gina on the rally course 😀

All in all, a really good weekend with them. A huge relief after the hell-hounds of last time.

Clean slate, fresh start.

Due to some technical issues, I have unfortunately kinda “lost” my old posts and media.

My techno-whiz friend Vanessa (of The Vanessa Macleod Creative Agency ) has done what she can to save my archives (all the way back to 2006!) and they will be available as she gets the chance to import them.

But for now…

It begins again, from here.

 

So this is my first “proper” post on my new host.

A small update, I suppose, as I try and remember what I last posted about and what has happened since then!

First things first – just over a week ago (Saturday 24 November 2012) my husband and I made the decision to adopt/rescue another Bernese Mountain Dog. She was being moved from foster to foster and was already 7 months old and we wanted to give her a good home.

Her name is Azerenka Victoria – we call her Azzie.

She is a gorgeous girl with enormous paws (larger than a Great Dane’s, actually) and lots of puppy manic energy.

She’s learning fast – very intelligent, like the rest of her breed – but we are in the middle of house training her. Yes, 7 months old and not house trained. She’s from a litter of 11 so she was initially used to fighting for every scrap of food or treat or anything, and she never had her own toys.

She’s come a long way in the week or more that we’ve had  her – no more hoarding of toys, no more snapping at Gina when it came to food, no more panicked hoovering of her food to the point where she can hardly breathe.

She’s calmed down, has learned “sit” and “wait” and “uh uh” and “no” and “good girl” and is happily going in to her crate at night.

She has, quite understandably, quite severe separation issues, but we will work on those once we get her house trained – she’s growing DAILY, literally, and soon she will be too large for her crate, so we need to work on the house training first! Right now my husband are exhausted, as we have to take 2 hour shifts to take her downstairs to pee or poop (or both!)  – slowly extending the time by a few minutes each night. But it’s slow going – we don’t want to have any accidents, so we go backward in our training with her.

Gina has bonded quite well with her – after the initial posturing and figuring out who is in charge – G is starting to stand up for herself (a lot of that confidence is from playing tug of war with my husband – he goes on hands and knees and uses his teeth like a dog) and there is no more tension between them. Sometimes Azzie oversteps a bit, she’s a puppy – but Gina very clearly and quickly puts her back in place, without drama. She’s a gentle soul, our G-Girl, and she’s being every bit the “big sister” – including bad habits! But we’re working on that too.

One thing at a time, and baby steps!

Secondly – SNOW! SNOW SNOW AND MORE SNOW!!! It’s WONDERFUL!!! Bloody cold at night, when husband and I do our shifts taking Azzie down… but I’m still enjoying it immensely! My only issue is that my snow boots don’t do well with lots of water – they handle snow fine – so I get soaked, cold feet when we walk out in the slush, or in the wet grass. Meh. So I’m going through a lot of socks!

 

Thirdly – due to the new puppy and our tiring schedules with her, husband and I have not been swimming, and I have not been running since we got her :( We can’t leave her on her own yet, as she barks (LOUDLY! She has a HUGE bark) and we don’t want her to be a nuisance. We’ll work on that later. I told husband he needs to go though, on his own. I will give him his training schedule and he must just do it. However, with all the snow and icy weather, the roads (especially the very long, steep hill up to the swimming pool) are pretty dangerous, and Helga sometimes gets so cold she doesn’t want to close her door… Plus, husband is so tired from our up and downs at night that he is just not up for it.

We’re hoping that as we get the time extended between pee breaks, for Azzie, we can start finding a bit more energy for other things!