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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Growing Up Gimme

In honor of her 8 month birthday, here is a short time line in pictures of Gimme...  (she provided her own commentary)

At eight weeks after the romantic rendevous, I was already stunning. 
I may only be one day old... but I'd already made a name for myself.  That's me toward the back with the pretty pink ribbon.
Naturally, at three days, I was already my mother's favorite.
I'm only ten days old here, but you can already see what a beauty I will become.  That's me, the first one to the left of the pile.
I've just turned four weeks and am enjoying my first picnic. 
Here's another picture of me at four weeks.  Again, its me on the left.  Those three little dots on the back of my head will later grow together to become a perfectly formed heart.
It's probably a surprise to most people, but even a beauty like me doesn't always want to have her picture taken.  I may only be one month old, but I'm not shy about expressing my opinions.
At this age (again 1 month) I have far too much to do to be standing around taking pretty girl pictures.  By the way, if you look carefully, you can see where those three dots are growing together and already starting to form a heart.
Here I am at seven weeks and you can already see what an elegant and powerful personage I will become. 
At eight weeks I'm already a babe.  If you look along this side of me, there are at least three more hearts.  Mom has since found another heart, a snowman and M. Mouse. 
Sometimes you just have to take charge of the situation...
Naturally when you are this good looking, this young, its easy to fall into the habit of admiring yourself.  Only two months and one week old and already gorgeous. 

Tana says I've always stopped to admire myself in mirrors.  Mom always sits us by the mirror at rally class so I can have something beautiful to look at.

My Mom's ability to stack me properly leaves a lot to be desired.  (two and a half months)  Fortunately my inner beauty shines through anyway. 

It was dang cold out when we took this picture.  I'm three and a half months old, but I'm not a dummy.  You'll note that mom is all bundled up in a big thick coat and all I get to wear is that little collar.
No, I did not lose my tail when I turned five months old.  Sometimes it just wags too fast to be captured on film...
I am six and a half months old and getting more elegant by the day.

I still like to pose for people - I get on the dogwalk in the front yard and strike a pose whenever there is someone walking by.  I just know they want to admire me.

And here I am in all my glory.  Let me just close by saying...
               "It's all about the attitude."

8 Months

We Could Go For Miles and Miles...

And we often do...  Gimme and I walk a lot on the Fort Lewis training areas.  They are wonderful places to let her get off leash and be a dog.  She really loves it and I'm sure it contributes a lot to how fit and agile she is.  Here's a photo essay from a recent day on area 23...

There are hills... 
 And flat areas...
That seem to stretch on for miles and miles

This area is an underground petroleum pipeline.

This spot in particular, I call the "hill from hell."

I'll let you guess why...

Gimme is fond of surveying the furthest reaches of her domain...

She also loves to run with wild abandon...

This plant is popularly called "skunk cabbage", because it smells like a cross between skunk and cooked cabbage.

I usually smell skunk cabbage LONG before I see them - their odor does travel on the breeze. 
This is the time of year when skunk cabbage makes its appearance in the many wetland areas...

Gimme loves to snoop around the edges.  She's even getting braver about getting her toes wet on occasion. 

I doubt she'll ever take up swimming.  So, I guess there's no dock diving title in our future...

Passing through this area was really a pleasant end to our walk...

Wish I had it in my back yard...
Upon closer inspection, in some places you could see beds of snow flowers... called that because they look like patches of snow from a distance.  They have no leaves.

Gimme found this lovely bunch of wild daffodils right at the end of our walk... just a couple dozen yards from the car.  She's a wonderful walking buddy who never misses a thing.  I would have missed them entirely.

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course

Gimme has done really well in her training - which is, of course, to be expected with such a smart girl.  This is a picture of her at Rally class.  If you look carefully, you can see the glimmer and sparkle from her halo.  <g>  She'd do better if her person was a bit more adept. 

I did learn during this class that I'm going to have to revamp our cue system (and the sooner the better).  Since I'll be training her for freestyle at the same time as rally/obedience... if I use the same behavior - at the least I have to give it a different name.  I found during this week's class, that when she came in to "front", she kept wanting to spin and back into "under", which we'd been working on.  While incredibly cute - it won't be particularly helpful in obedience and rally. 

Of course, Michele Pouliet made the point that you need to train positions for freestyle different anyway, since you almost never want them sitting.  So once I retrain that way, the confusion should clear up, methinks...

Despite my efforts to have Gimme get used to horses when she was very little... she has since decided they are evil devil spawn that are not to be trusted.  I think the real problem is that she mostly sees them while we are out walking - where they seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere (lots of woods and paths that come from both sides).  After being surprised by having them appear from wherever they lurk, they are actually 100 yards away, and having her react poorly, we have been putting a special effort into getting her used to them.  You'd think 100 yards would be far enough for them to not be threatening, but I think Gimme thinks that the whole 100+ acres per training area is all hers. 

I'd been using lots of treats, but it didn't seem to really be working.  Then someone suggested (for something else) that I get one of those tubes that hikers put peanut butter into for traveling (you can buy them at sporting goods stores).  I was going to look for one, but then saw at the seminar that someone had made one out of a toothpaste tube and a hair barrette.  Since I was near the end of a tube and already had barrettes, I made one too.

Its easy to make and they can easily be opened for refilling.  Empty out that toothpaste tube and trim away the crimped edge.  I actually had two tubes that were near the end, so I selected the one with the flip top (don't want to worry about keeping track of a screw top).  Open up the tube and clean it out thoroughly (I found a tooth brush worked well) both in the tube and near the place where the paste will come out.  Then fill it about two-thirds full with your reward of choice (I used a butter knife to fill it).  Carefully fold over about a quarter inch of the open end.  You may have to fold in one corner if the barrette isn't wide enough.  Place the barrette on it.  I like the kind that snap closed; you squeeze the sides on one end to open it.   

Our reward of choice is peanut butter.  Gimme loves peanut butter better than anything else.  That's why her recall is so good, because most of the time it is rewarded with peanut butter.  You could really use anything soft - like baby food meats or cream cheese.  One of the advantages to peanut butter is that it doesn't have to be refrigerated between uses.  But, of course, you'll want to go with what works for your dog.

I hold the tube in my hand, with my thumb holding the snap lid up out of the way, and I gently squeeze as needed.  The great advantage to this is that you can really prolong the experience, getting a lot of mileage for your counter-conditioning time.

We recently ran into a lady with a grey horse she was unloading from the trailer.  My friend walked up and asked her if we could bring Gimme closer and do some training.  Fortunately the horse folk that we run into on the training areas are, for the most part, very willing to indulge my training requests.  I'm sure they'd like to have my dog comfortable with the horses (and quietly not-barking) as much as I would. 

Anyway we stood there chatting while the horse hung out a few feet from Gimme.  Mostly she was intent on sucking as much peanut butter from the tube as she could get.  She was clearly aware of the horse and I watched Gimme very carefully to let her set the tone of how long, how close, etc.  Toward the end the horse was close enough to reach out and sniff Gimme.  She momentarily turned her head from the tube to see what that was and then calmly went back to her priority mission.  I considered that a HUGE SUCCESS and squeezed hard to give her a big glob of peanut butter.  Then we ended the session and walked away.

Someday, if I can scare up a horse resource, I'd like to train for a road trial title.  Naturally, its essential that Gimme be very comfortable with horses.  Now that we've found a way to use peanut butter -- I see that as a very realistic possibility...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Busy-ness...

I don't know why I'm still surprised by how smart Gimme is... but some of the things she does just astound me.

Recently I decided to INTRODUCE the "under" position, where she stands between my legs facing forward with me - for our future in freestyle. I emphasize introduce, because its usually a slow process for that position - at least it has been with my others and other dogs I've seen being taught to do it. In no time she was completely comfortable in the under position and so we quickly played with doing a figure-8 between/around my legs. It was really fun.

Then she just "invented" the cutest move. She was sitting at front, staring at me and I was trying to free-shape something else. Apparently she wasn't done playing with the under, and did a spin on her hieney, while scootching toward me and ended up in under position. Of course, I jack-potted the dickens out of it, so got it several more times. Actually that's a pretty advanced move - so I know she wasn't the first to invent it. It just amazes me that she figured it out on her own.

A couple weekends back, I went to two obedience seminars. The first was a 4 hour Denise Fenzi workshop, where I took 5 pages of notes. Then there was two days of Michele Pouliet, where I took 15 pages. I learned so much I hardly know where to start. Sure am glad I hadn't done much with the retrieve as I really like what Michele showed us. I also learned tons from other exhibitors, since I had a million questions.

The really big news is that Gimme did soooooo well when I took her in the building. I was able to get her in three times a day: before the seminar started, during lunch and after the day ended. I set up her soft side crate and used it to practice the Relaxation Protocol. Gimme did sooooo well on that - much more than the limited practice I'd done deserves. I do think it helped that we had practiced RP in that crate - so she knew what to expect and how to win treats.

She also did well with general attention. She was, of course, highly distracted by all the people and dogs and general activity and newness.... but then after a short while, using what I learned from Ursula, I was able to help her get through it and get some responsiveness to cues she already knew. Sunday she was only distracted by people and/or dogs when they got within about 15 feet. She might watch them if they were moving around at a distance, but didn't feel the need to respond - watching them with interest and calmly. Our last session after the end Sunday, we actually had a very short training session and she invented something new... its like a get in... I don't think I can use it in obedience, since it includes a serious lean on my leg (she's practically resting her head on my knee with me standing), but I may be able to build on it to get her backing around me. I know I've said this before, but she is soooo smmmmarrrrht.

This is huge progress for her since she was a whiny fussing wild child at the seminar in February, so much so that it was very distracting for other participants, so I could only expose her during breaks. Of course she's two months older now, but I also think the work I've done and my new understanding of how to get her brain in gear makes a big difference.

The funny thing was that in the hotel - she was quite pleased with the fact that we had a second bed. Both nights she spent the majority of the time laying sprawled diagonally across the bed and really effectively taking up the whole thing. (boy how I wish I had a picture of that) The first night she slept there all night. The second night she started there but crawled in with me when it got colder. That Sunday night she was quite disappointed to realize that Serta failed to make their delivery while we were gone. She walked in the bedroom and looked around as if to say, "there's something missing here." Every night since, she walks in the bedroom, stops in the doorway and then sighs. Sadly for her, my bedroom is too small for a second bed.

Also she just thought up another fast one. I have a bell hanging on the front door so she can tell me when she wants to go out. She rang it earlier and when I got in the living room I found her waiting at the door to the kitchen. So apparently she now thinks its the bell for her servant to come running. Not! I made her go outside anyway... the stinker...