Another beginner class this evening. We dedicated the evening to greeting people with 4 on the floor. Well-trained people help a lot. Poor baby, he's just BURSTING with love! He seems to understand why people are turning their backs on him, he just never expects it to happen.

He was a little upset because he didn't have supper before his 8 PM class. We did some hand Zen, and then I tossed a big piece of wiener on the floor. Boy howdy, that was tough. He was HUNGRY. After a few minutes of work he could walk by it within grabbing distance. He kept looking back at it longingly, though he knew he couldn't have it. I tossed a second piece down 2 feet from the first one. That was funny because then he was very confident in his Zen of the first one but was right back to the beginning on the second one. Eventually he could walk by both.

We practised the Name Game, then walking toward other students and calling them back to us before they met. He's better at sitting near them or watching them go by than he is walking toward them and remembering to control himself.

I started tossing treats through my legs. I figured I'd better teach it to him now before he gets big enough to give me pony rides as he goes through. He liked that. Then I did a few minutes of shaping the rays for a front. It only took him a few reps before he realized I was looking for eye contact as well as position. Clever boy.

Finally, I worked some Yes Floor, tossing a treat and having him stare at it and lean toward it on the collar before letting him go get it. The Zen treats were still on the floor, and he ignored them completely. On the way out I told him he could have them and he was a little doubtful.

Excellent class.

To the park

At the park this afternoon we met a LOT of people - out for what might be the last nice walk of the season (serious snow usually starts right after Hallowe'en). We went for an hour-long walk around the lake. What a thrill! He's certainly not ready for a Level 4 walk with no thought involved, but he was super.

My ego has to say that he's 5 months old, looks adult, and people don't know he's still a mini version of his real self. He's stunningly beautiful. Striking. He just knows how to hold himself. He's getting cat-called from passing cars (in a nice way) - WOW THAT'S A BEAUTIFUL DOG! People are driving around the block to see him again. That's nice but it's not the really good part of the walk.

In an hour, I used 1.5 wieners and he PULLED on the leash twice, both times toward kids (he Loves Kids). He touched the end of the leash fairly gently maybe 6 times, either for dogs that were passing closely or people, also close. Every time he felt the leash touch him, he turned back to look at me (treat!). Many times he turned back before he felt the leash.

We did a little bit of gentle parkour, we practised some stacking on a wide wall.

My next priority is to solicit help from passers-by to teach him that nobody will talk to him if he doesn't keep four on the floor. If he can sit and make eye contact automatically when I'm holding his dish, he can learn not to wrap himself around peoples' heads in ecstasy if the look at him.

Back to training

We met Barbara to train together this afternoon. Since we haven't worked for a while, I started on sit stays. He's getting pretty good at letting me go around behind him and back into heel position. When he remembers, when he loses sight of me behind him he flips his head to his right to watch me come up beside him. I did't go for any duration, but I got out to better than 15 feet away and back. Then he got tired and started rolling back onto his butt instead of sitting up straight so we did a few down stays as well.

Then I thought I'd work on some of the stuff my conformation students are doing. Yikes, we're behind! He remembers giving to leash pressure, that's fine, but holding his muzzle and asking him to give his head to hand pressure - I don't THINK so. We moved on to the arcs - nope, back legs bopping all over the place. We'll try that on the table later. I've got work to do!

Since the importance of a great recall was pointed out so strongly to me by the bunny the other day, I did some Name Game stuff, tossing a treat and then calling his name just as he finished eating it. Tossing another as he was coming back to me in response to his name. That went well (again) - it's a super game and can be done with no thinking on my part...

Then he was revved up so we turned our dogs loose. Barbara's marvellous "scruffy little dog" is Dori. She and Spider rolled and wrestled and chased and bit. Funny to watch Spider get almost her whole head in his mouth while she's trying desperately to get her mouth around one back hock of his. He was much better than he was in his puppy class - barely used his paws at all, stayed with mostly chasing and mouthing and rolling upside down and apparently trying to swallow her whole. Once he smacked her with a paw in full run while he was chasing her and Dori leaned back and snapped her teeth at him (bear in mind they've been tooth-wrestling for 10 minutes at this point). He got the picture immediately and did a really neat 360 without breaking stride. When he was facing her and chasing her again, he was careful to keep his paws away from her.

And now he's home and napping - and making wrestling-Dori noises in his sleep. Cute puppy. He's wonderful.

They listened! OMG! They listened!

Oh what a wonderful day! Spider has grown up enough to begin the twice-daily ritual of planting his lovely wet kibbly face and beard on my arm and shoulder directly after eating a meal to say a warm and loving thank you for being me and for feeding him. I expect he'll continue this heartwarming Giant tradition by putting his face on my lap if my arm and shoulder aren't available. What a thrill. This picture isn't nearly as bad as the actual experience.

I bought him a snood to keep his widdle ears warm in the winter. All my Giants used to wear snoods in dogsled races when it -20 or colder. He was... not impressed. I guess I forgot that I've actually TAUGHT my dogs to wear stuff. After I rescued him twice when he pawed it down over his eyes, I let him wear it on his neck for the run. We'll try again later. It's far too warm today.

He makes it look so easy, look so clean,
He moves like God's immaculate machine.

Oh Oh Oh! And on our run this afternoon a rabbit popped up an inch from my front tire and took off with everybody in hot pursuit. We were only about 300 metres from the highway so you can imagine how energetically I called them!

Syn turned back in about 10 metres, Spider took 20. Let me tell you, treats rained from the sky! They both got a really good butt scratch and Spy got a tooth wrestle. Stitch? She couldn't hear me calling but at about 50 metres she forgot what she was doing so she drifted to a stop and just waited there wondering what was going on until we caught up to her. Can't believe she actually ran that far!

No training today, darn it, but I got Stitch washed, all nails done and paws tidied. Spider's urine sample was normal so I guess he just decided to drink too much. I'm closing the bar at 18:00 for another couple of days.

Growing up

Stopped at the vet with another urine sample - had a few accidents in the house and crate yesterday when he's been brilliant for weeks and weeks. Got his weight while we were there - 64 pounds. Poor Ronnie-baby thinks he's as big as he's going to get. I'd tell him that when he's trained, he'll seem smaller, but that would mean I'd have to tell him that he isn't even CLOSE.

This is Hawkins, a bitch, at 7 months:
and Spider is barely past my knee at 5 months. He's got a ways to go yet, Ron. Sorry about that!

I've been busy with my parents and my shoulder and stuff lately and haven't been doing a lot of training, and it's showing. He's good when I'm keeping him cookied, but if I slack off he's gotten old enough to go off looking for his own amusements. Still light on the leash most of the time - when he reaches the end he usually comes back willingly - but it's more work than it was a couple of weeks ago. Sit and down stays are coming along nicely. I'm still only at the length of the leash, but he knows what he's doing there now.

I worked pocket hand again tonight, it's wonderful. I even got some movement with a signal and then was able to finish the swing off with the full pocket. I.Will.Not.Put.This.On.Cue.Until.It's.PERFECT. 57 years of crooked finishes is pretty much enough.

His mom got her BH last week. The IPO heeling is so pretty. Makes me want to cry. Do I have the stamina to teach that? Not right now. I have VERY high hopes for my new shoulder.

We went to the pet shop for a bath today. He was such a good boy! Didn't mind the water or the shampoo or the blow dryer. Halfway through the bath a Malamute went in the other tub. That was like having a movie screen during his spa treatment. He was fascinated! Still, didn't spend too much effort trying to get to Mal and accepted that he really did have to stand in one place in the tub.

Getting in and out of the store was more challenging than it was last time - touch with your eyes, Bubba, not with your mouth!

What a stunningly beautiful, thoroughly outgoing, wonderfully confident and cheerful puppy! I so didn't realize how much I missed having a Giant.