Pet store again

Another puppy class graduation yesterday. Pretty good. Actually let one of the instructors go over him without flossing her teeth (on the second attempt). Walked politely in and out of the building. They combined 2 classes and there was a VERY yappy Mini Schnauzer in the other class. Which was fine, I kept Spy out of her way and he didn't get excited about all the noise. I was annoyed when I got out of the truck to go into the class, though. Got out, got Spider out, walked to the grass beside the treat to potty him and BAM, this Mini (on lead) is underneath him screaming in excitement. I backed up into the street, working to get his attention, and they kept coming. Finally we're out in the middle of the street, I've got his attention, a truck is waiting to go past us, and the woman chirps "We're the BAD one!"

Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.

While we were waiting to go through our turn, we had a little discussion about how I don't have to pay him every 10 seconds for lying down at my feet, and how when he DOES get a treat for lying down at me feet, getting the treat doesn't mean he's done and can get up and go visiting. He's almost convinced.

When we got home, Ron and I were watching TV. Spider climbed up on a large footstool/couch piece/upholstered coffee table thing between our chairs and went to sleep. Ten minutes later he rolled off it, hit the floor with a loud thump, and didn't even wake up. Dear little Tat.

And then we met idiots again today. Time for another couple of bags of dog food, so we went to the pet store. Looked around, clear route to the dirt spot behind the building, got him out, and BAM again, two Westies on leash right in his face. And again, as we back up, they come right after us. I'm stuck between them and my truck, the car next to us, and the open back door of my truck. MOVE AWAY! Finally they did, we spent a minute getting him focused, and then we had an absolutely lovely Loose Leash to the potty spot, another one back to the store, and then he entered the store under complete control. Good Puppy!

And then we walked around the store for 15 minutes BRILLIANTLY. Loose leash, responded to my Nos when he stuck his nose in the treat bins. Lovely lovely lovely. When we occasionally came in sight of the Westies, he was interested but not hysterical. Didn't floss any teeth. Didn't eat any treats or bounce any balls that weren't his. Didn't try to knock anybody down.

On the other hand, his skull has exploded. Today his lovely long lean rectangle of a Schnauzery head looks like a balloon with a snout stuck on one side. I trust that the rest of him will grow to match it. I trust that the rest of him will grow to match it. I trust that the rest of him will grow to match it...

The glory of the time at the pet shop is still with me.

Teenage blizzards

Minor grooming day today. Dremelled his nails and scissored the tulips around his eyes to make him look like a Schnauzer again. He's officially a teenager - got a ton of brown undercoat showing through on his legs and The Blizzard has arrived - white hairs showing up in his jacket. Both will be gone in six months or as late as a year.

Reminds me of a pup I sold to someone who wanted to show. When The Blizzard arrived, she called me, all hysterical. I told her it was no big deal, after a stripping or two they'd be totally gone. So she stripped out her 5-mo puppy and guess what - the new coat had A LOT more white hairs! It took a lot of effort to calm her down!

I really enjoyed watching him fall asleep on the grooming table while I did his nails. Good puppy!


We had a good weekly session with Barb and Dory yesterday. Dory's teaching him how to be a good friend to little dogs - squashing them to the floor with a mighty paw isn't generally construed as friendly so he's started lying down with his cheek on the floor so they can play together.

That's it, buddy, up from the bottom makes them WANT to play with you

and sometimes you have to let them think they're winning!

We got back to doing some actual training before the rip-and-tear session. Two dogs working at the same time is just the way life works as far as they're concerned, and the couple of times we called them away from the arena of battle, they came cheerfully and quickly.

We tested some Level 2 behaviours out and worked on others. Got a great touch on a piece off wood, a good grab of a metal and plastic wall hook. I've been wracking my brain for a good trick to teach him, then I realized he already has one - putting his head down on the floor. I taught him this when he was on his side on the grooming table, but he extrapolated it to any down anywhere - and with any of three cues. I can tell him to put his head down, I can bow my head or body toward him, or I can lower my hand. Clever boy!

Did some nice work on sit and down stays. Worked the sit up to 8 seconds and then he finally figured out that he can stay while I walk around him. Distance up to 15 feet was WAY easier than going behind him.

I MUST remember to work more sits than down, given the Giant's tendency to think military - never miss an opportunity to eat or sleep...

Floor Zen is still good. We practised it in beginners class last week while we were waiting for something else to happen. He's a thoughtful lad. I'm not asking him to stare at me as we walk by a treat on the floor. I'm letting him walk up to it, look at, hover over it, and then decide for himself that he should leave it alone.

We gave closing a door a shot. Nope. We tried it once before with shaping and it worked ummm ok - we got the drawer closed, but he was doing it repeatedly with his shoulder, so that's one we'll have to start from scratch.

Nice loose leash in and out of the building, obnoxious joy at seeing Barb's carpenter, and he didn't have to pee until we left the building when we were done.

The good news - he's made the leap to the idea that playing with a toy WITH me is more fun that playing with it alone. This is huge. He's bringing me all kinds of toys. He doesn't exactly hand them to me yet, but he saunters past just just within grabbing-distance, chewing seductively and glancing at me out of the corner of his eye.

The bad news - he's growing up. He's taking a moment to scan the area for ear-posting paraphernalia before he decides to come when I call him. He's going farther afield on our runs. Yesterday he ducked under the fence when my back was turned and went to herd llamas. They walked quickly around the pasture rolling their eyes and exclaiming "Woe! Woe is me! This Great Beast shall surely tear me limb from limb!" Darkwing Duck, the appointed guardian, didn't even bother to stop chewing his cud. Spider came nicely when I called him though - a third of the way back, then he paused, turned around and started back toward them. Another call, another nice come, and one more pause before he finally joined us. And looking back on the incident, he was doing a nice job of herding them - trotting, not dekeing back and forth trying to get them riled up, just going around the outside of them. Definitely time to meet some sheep!

And yes, he is definitely going to spend the rest of his life putting his cold wet beard on me to say thanks Every. Single. Time. He. Drinks.

A walk and a ride

Yesterday's bit of news was that Ron took him for a walk on leash out to fix some equipment. I was on pins and needles but Ron reported that he was excellent, didn't pull, and was happy to stay with him. I feel like I got a gold star on my homework!

Today I took him along when I took Syn to the pet store for a bath. There was nobody else in the 2-tub space enclosed by a half-wall and a wrought iron gate, so I turned him loose while I worked on her.

He was good for maybe 15 minutes. Wandered around, sniffed everything, found the dish of treats on top of the wall but didn't climb up to get them. Put his paws up on the tub and watched what I was doing for a bit, licked my hair...

Then he lay down on the cool tile and went to sleep.

And then he woke up. Bored. Not the centre of attention. Hey! This is not how life works! He paced. He whined. He paced. I was just about ready to tell him to lie down and shut up when people started wandering past. That was fun. He talked to a bunch of them through the gate and surprisingly didn't rear up to talk to them over it. Then when the last of them had wandered on he jumped up on the desk in the corner and looked eagerly over the wall. Five times he put his paws on the wall... four times I said No! and he put them back politely on the desk for a few minutes. The fifth time I had to go to him and tell him to get down.

Another nap, and when he woke up I was towelling Syn off. He helped and she leaned into his tongue Obviously he's a better toweller than I am.

He LOVED it when I started using the dryer on her. He climbed right in the tub with her and constantly got in the way, biting at the air. I teased him a bit with the air, flashing it at his mouth and his paws. He thought this was enormously funny.

I wasn't brave enough to walk them in or out together - I brought Syn in, left her on a stay in the tub, and went out to bring him in. On the way out, I left her in the tub again, walked him out to his crate in the truck, then went back in to get her. The walks went well. Not perfect yet, but decent. He's listening brilliantly to Zen cues.


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.

Pet store. Yuck.

We stopped at the pet store for another go this morning. Not our Finest Hour.

I ran out of treats before I checked out, which was one of the worst ideas I've ever had. He kind of lost it and I basically dragged him out of the store while he tried to snag a chewstick on his way by or get back to play with the Boxer or the kids.

It started out well. Nice loose leash across the parking lot, good entry into the store after a couple of tries. Decent job walking around.

I've often said if you're taking your Service Dog candidate to a store on a training run, do NOT go there to buy stuff because the buying will take over from the training. Earth to Sue...

I found an amazing ball that I knew he'd love:

Try carrying that sucker around a store while keeping a Giant puppy under control and rewarding often enough! And yes, he does love it.

Left the ball at the counter and kept working. And a toddler came boo-ing up from behind him. Yikes. I managed to keep him from knocking the kid over in his enthusiasm, but wasn't fast enough to contain his tongue from washing the kid's face. Reminded me of the old joke - Johnnie, Johnnie, did the big dog bite you? NO (wailing) BUT HE TASTED ME!

Fortunately the kid had a smart mom who came over and petted Spider to show the kid that he meant no harm. I offered to hold his head while they petted his butt but the kid had turned shy (for some reason).

Then a fat old Pug and his owner started following us around going "*I* don't mind if they meet! He LOVES other dogs!" I told her Spider loved other dogs too but that he'd thwap the Pug into next Tuesday with his paw and consider it a polite greeting, so I'd rather not have them meet. She said she understood and proceeded to follow us all over the store letting the Pug get closer and closer as Spider and I ducked around corners. Which is why I ran out of treats before I was ready to leave.

So not a horrible session, mostly good in fact. Just didn't end particularly well.

I also got him some really hard bouncy slightly-larger-than-tennis-balls balls (and a bigger bait bag, and a snood to wear over his naked little ears when winter hits). When we got home, I realized that I had forgotten - Giants don't play with the same toys as PWDs. Oh yeah, they'll play together, but when they're playing alone, it's different.

I had a Giant - Panda - who would mouth a ball at the top of the stairs until the ball got away and rolled down the stairs. She'd chase it and carry it back up to the top of the stairs. I considered her incredibly intelligent. Now I just wonder if the traditional training I did then shut down exploring minds before most of them tried stuff like that? Spider has already figured out the ball-stairs thing, and knows that the higher he takes the ball, the longer the run after it will be. He's also mastered the "basketball bounce" - he walks along carrying the ball, drops it, and catches it again after the first bounce. Then he was walking all the way through the kitchen dropping it and catching it again once for every step he took. I'll be fielding scholarship offers next week. I suspect he'll be fanTASTic on defence when he's a little older.

Sweet stop at a park

Well, we know he's purebred! He loves plastic bottles and he steals neck pillows.

This afternoon, to get back into the swing of things after my "vacation", we went to a new park in a new suburb. Friday afternoon, and 5 degrees, so no more than one kid at a time, easy to stay away from.

I was expecting very little correct behaviour. What I got was amazing.

I'd been wardriving trying to find some reliable wifi to do my classes, so he'd been in the crate in the car for a couple of hours. He tried once to rush out of the crate when I opened the door, but settled immediately when I stopped him and waited politely while I sorted out a leash and collar for him.

Nice LLW across the street to the park and into the park on the sidewalk. He got treats for having the leash loose, but not many since he appreciated them but didn't seem to NEED them.

We walked all around the park on the wood chips with a loose leash. While we were doing that, several leashed dogs went by, which he glanced at but mainly ignored.

On our second lap, we hit most of the playground equipment - wobbly things, bouncy things, hammocks, stairs, very short slides. The guy is fearless. He loves to explore new things. What a fun pup! Even the truly difficult item - a series of hammocks set off the ground at various distances from each other that needed to be walked over as if they were branches of trees or lily pads in a pond - gave him pause but didn't scare him. With one back paw back THERE, one up HERE, and both front paws on a third hammock, it was patently impossible for him to take another step forward to a fourth one - but when I told him he could and put a wiener in front of him, he gave it a shot and discovered that he COULD do it (with a little help). What a fun pup!

More dogs went by, and a youngster came out of nowhere galloping toward him yelling DOGGY DOGGY. I called him, he came, and we went for a lovely loose-leash trot in the opposite direction while mommy got her kid under control. That surprised me. He love love loves kids but he came quickly and cheerfully when I called him. When she was playing her own games, we went back near her and practised remembering how to do short sit and down stays.

On the third lap we went briskly. He tried to stop me a couple of times but was unsuccessful. I kept going, called him when the leash tightened, and rewarded him again when he'd walked a bit with it loose.

The fourth lap we went slowly and he got to do some detail sniffing.

On the way back to the car, we worked on paying attention to which side of a post he has to walk on. It took him 8 tries to remember that the correct answer was MY side, but at least he's very good at untangling the leash when he's mistaken about the original attempt.

Lovely session. Calm, relaxed, friendly, cheerful. Marina, you make good puppies!

Away for a week

My parents aren't quite up to large and exuberant so Binkie stayed home with Ron and Syn. Got a nice phone call from Ron a couple of days ago. He came around a corner into the kitchen and found Spider IN THE KITCHEN SINK.

He appears to have grown another six inches and gained about 50 pounds. I sat down to watch TV. He didn't even have to jump, he just WALKED into my lap, lay down, and watched TV. He WATCHED TV. I don't mean he pointed his nose at it, there was a basketball game on and he WATCHED the ball. He watched it bounce and he followed it when it was in the air. My last Giant watched TV - she tried to head off herds of sheep going across the screen, and she watched Paul Simon's African concert with utter rapt concentration for 7 hours, but none of the PWDs have ever shown the faintest interest in it. Different eyes? Or different brain?


Bit of a scare today. I don't know what he got into. The photo doesn't look bad at all but a hand on his belly felt like he'd swallowed a lead watermelon. I spent the day watching him like a hawk for any signs of bloat or torsion.

I took him for a gentle walk at supper time and - whew, he blew diarrhea all over the place. Can't say I've ever been thrilled so to see diarrhea! Just an upset tummy, thank goodness. No supper for you tonight, my lad!

Long day, no exercise

Whoof, long day on the computer! Fenzi classes started three days ago and they've got me hopping. Also I'm discovering parts of lectures that weren't explained very well, which gives me a chance to use Spider to fill in the gaps. Here are a couple we did today:

We went to our beginners' class again last night. They did good stuff, and they did stuff I wasn't interested in, which gave us lots of opportunity to work on other things. They were doing left finishes by leading the dogs back behind them and then back up into heel position, so Spider and I practised our pocket hand swing finish. He'll be better when he's finished growing, and he still wears out quickly, but when he does it it's grand.

He's a lot more comfortable being on my left side instead of out in front of me all the time this week, and that translated into me getting to move all the way around him while he was doing down stays. Sit stays not so good - he's big and still sloppy and it's really easy for him to slide down to the floor. I'll have to get busy on the Level 2 Sits before he loses them completely.

His eye contact is brilliant considering that three weeks ago he didn't know I had eyes. He's started giving me default eye contact while he's doing dish Zen as I put his meals out for him. Clever boy.

One thing I really have to get on his case about - he's started mounting Stitch. While Syn has no difficulty telling him to drop dead, Stitch can't do it. She doesn't think about telling him, she just starts screeching GET OFF ME! ARE YOU INSANE? Then Syn runs over and starts trying to control the situation. Gonna stop. ASAP. Haven't decided how yet.

Well, as I said, long day. Nearly 10 o'clock and raining all day so no exercise for anybody. I clocked a whopping 817 steps today and have muddy paw prints all over the floor. G'night.