Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gimme Does Presents

After spending Christmas Eve afternoon, evening and night at my parents' and part of today - we finally got back to town.  Gimme was in need of some activity, so we arranged to meet Mary and Grafton for a walk.  Then we came home and Gimme got to open her presents.


To be clear... all her gifts were in this bag, start to finish.  I video taped her present opening.  The original video was more than 45 minutes and I've cut it down a LOT.  After getting out the second toy, she spent time playing with each toy in turn, before checking the bag to see if there were more.  Later she went back to play with the first two.

Clearly, while Gimme has a great life, I have no life other than being her doting minion.  Enjoy...

Here are most of her presents (realized I'd left out the tug toy) and am too lazy to set them up on the table again...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nosework (2/10)

We've been staying busy.  Naturally Christmas is a very big holiday for my work (American Greetings) and I am doing too much as usual.  Gimme is totally unimpressed with me spending so much time sewing gifts.  She thinks I should have started all this stuff back in January and not waited until the last minute.  Clearly, sewing that interferes with what she thinks is the barest minimum amount acceptable for training is just wrong on so many levels.

I keep trying to tell her that a little break from training would be good for her and that she'll be more enthusiastic after the break is over.  She's not buying it.  If it weren't for the walks, she probably would have fired me by now.  She is also concerned that I may not fully understand her pre-eminent and exalted position as Empress of the Cosmos. In any case, she is starting to express her creative cleverness at getting my attention in a somewhat naughty way - so I am making a special effort to resume daily training sessions.  Obviously I don't want her going down THAT road.

Today's nosework class was fun.  We had two container searches and then one interior search.  There were 24 containers, mostly boxes, plus 4 chairs, one piece of luggage and 6 cookie containers (those clear plastic round ones that you get at the bakery).  Some of the cookie containers were on the floor and some on chairs.

The first search had odor in one of the boxes and also in a cookie container on a chair.  Gimme went full throttle, as always.  Stomped a few boxes in passing, tried to convince me that one was it, but didn't hold to it when I started moving around her - then finally settled on destroying the right one.  After that she stomped a couple more before finding the odor on the chair.

Joyce is not quite as amused by her box demolition as I am.  You know me, I'm inclined to let her be who she is when it doesn't have long term consequences.  Before long there will be no boxes except for the Clove ORT and she doesn't do that over-the-top indication with anything except boxes, so I don't see it as a big deal.

On our second round, odor was in the handle of the luggage and in another cookie container on a chair.  As handlers we had to identify which of two handling tasks we were going to focus on.  1) to keep moving when the dog was indicating (something I've gotten really good at), or 2) keeping the line either consistently loose or taut.  I chose keeping the line taut.

Gimme found both hides very quickly.  I was so focused on the line handling that I wasn't ready with the treats fast enough for her first find on the luggage hide, so Gimme walked around to the other side where she was facing me, looked me in the eye and put a paw on it - just to be sure I was paying attention.  The one on the chair came so quickly after that, so I didn't really get too engrossed in line handling and she got her steak treats fast enough to suit her.

Our third search was an interior search of the room.  Gimme found odor in a corner and kept wanting to go back and re-indicate it for more treats.  Early in their training we do pay them a second and even a third time for returning to a hide they've already found and then ususally pick it up.  But then there comes a time when they are getting ready for level 2, that they have to learn they are only getting paid once on each hide and the hides stay down.

This is a change to the rules as Gimme sees it... so she was pretty persistent about trying to show me that hide again.  Of course, she thinks I'm broken and just need to be given another chance to remember that I'm supposed to pay up.  Basically I just got in her way a bit to discourage her from trying to find that one again and she finally moved on.  Then she found the second hide very quickly.  She tried to re-indicate it too, but moved on much quicker to go find the third hide.

She's a very smart cookie and it doesn't take her too much to figure out what does and what does not pay for Gimme.

Cross your fingers that tomorrow is not raining and that Mary gets off work in time, so Gimme & me and Mary & Grafton can meet for a walk.  It'll probably be dark by the time we get together, but the walk around the lake (2 miles) is well lighted and so we do it whenever we can. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nosework (6/9 and 1/10)

Sorry I haven't been blogging this last week.  I've been busy getting ready for Christmas and have had a bad cold for a couple days and someone ran into my new car and I spent a day helping my Mom.  Gimme has been mostly bored to tears with just a couple of walks to keep her from going stir crazy.

Class last week and this week has been at the Sportsmen's Wharehouse.  Mostly its just been hides here there and everywhere.  The challenges for the dogs are:

First there are lots of interesting and distracting things.  There is tons of stuff made of leather, which the dogs all want to check out.  They seem to find rough-out leather more interesting.  Gimme had a particular fascination for the shelf where all the bottles of critter scent were.  And then there was the wall where the beef jerky display was.  In all those cases, she checked things out and then moved on.

Second there are customers walking willy nilly through our search areas, sometimes right when the dogs were actively searching.  Gimme doesn't seem to pay any attention to them and if she does its very brief.  Grafton worries about men, but he ignored them all tonight.  Maddie is highly anxious about all strange things, but did well with it tonight.  Even little Becca, who is very people reactive, basically ignored them and only let off one woof and then went right back to work.

The third challenge was the type of shelving they have, its got a wire grid backing, so air and odor easily flows through the backing, presenting on the other side - which is a puzzle for the dogs on how to get to source.  In this building the air flows consistently from right to left (as you enter the store).  As handlers, even though we knew where the odor was, we were mostly letting the dogs puzzle through to solve the problem and find source.

Last week, Gimme's best search was the first one and they she got flitty on the second search as we were in the aisles where the wire grid shelving was, so she was just all over the place and it took her a long time to find source.  The third time she did better and found odor must faster.

This week she was kind of all over on her first search - which I tribute to having been so pent up this week as I've been laying around.  The second search she was very serious and really worked the problem to find source.  The third search the two hides were between gun safes.  The first one there was air current coming through from the back and all the dogs found that quickly - Gimme had it in just a couple seconds.  The second one was harder because there were giant solid boxes backed up against the back of those safes, so there was no air current.  All the dogs found it, and Gimme was the fastest. 

While there I bought her a neon green bumper toy. When I first tossed it for her, she spent awhile pushing it around the floor with her nose and then came to me without it.  I sent her to go "pick up" and clicked while she was holding it.  Within just a couple of clicks she was going after it and bringing it to hand.  So then I put it away while she was still excited about it.  I thought it might be a nice toy to take to the fort with us, so I can throw it for her to retrieve when we don't have Grafton there to run the pants off her.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dilemma Solved

I've been trying to teach Gimme to do repeat/alternating lifts of her front feet, for a freestyle move that I will call "tap".

I tried doing this in class the way Ursula suggested but ran into difficulty.  Her method was to use the "paw" that we'd taught, cue it and then as the dog reached for it, to pull the hand away and click/treat.  What I discovered was that Gimme found that punishing and quit trying after 2-3 repetitions.  I believe this comes from my snatching my hand away when she muggs me for food. 

So I've been trying to free-shape it with minimal success.  I got lots of repetitions, but not much height.  We've done several sessions and just seemed to be stuck.  Tonight I decided to try it on the grooming table.  Then I could stand back far enough that Gimme really had to reach for it - and click before she whacked my hand and not have to pull back.  We made some amazing progress very quickly - probably a three minute training session.

I realized that my hands could be the signal for the move, and that I could make them kind of dance like.  So I tried to tape this little video of the hand signal I envision to see what it was going to look like from a different angle.  Clearly this signal needs to be refined.

I only share this with you because the moment Gimme saw me doing it, she tried to get into the act.  I can hardly believe that my brilliant little girl picked it up so quickly.  Though why it should surprise me after so many instances of brilliance, doesn't make sense.  I guess I'm just a slow learner...

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Today we went for a walk on the fort's training area... and while it was raining when we started, it really poured it on while we were there.  When we got back to the car, Gimme was eager to get in, to say the least.  I wanted to towel her dry, but she wouldn't come to me at all.  However, when I opened her crate she dived in.  I think she somehow thought I wanted her to come back out in the rain and she wasn't going to cooperate with THAT plan.

After we got home, she was happy to be dried off and snuggled under some blankets.  Toward evening I was getting tired of rearranging her blankets for her every time she got out from under them.  Apparently I needn't have bothered - since she clearly is able to get herself sufficiently snuddled in without my involvement.

Here's a picture of Gimme with boyfriend Grafton... from August, when the weather was still warm and enticing...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

3 For 1 ORT

What a day!  I entered Gimme to get one Anise ORT and came home with three ORTs.

Gimme got hers without too much problem, though she did still give me the whole attitude thing.  Sometimes I think she does this to make the "fun" last longer.  Basically she stepped on or pawed all twelve boxes, then did several more, crushing one, on her way back to get serious about the real box.  Still its better than what she did for the Birch ORT where they had to replace 5 boxes and the odor box - this time it was only 1 box and the odor box.  Susan's husband was nice enough to video it for me.

While you are viewing this... if you really watch carefully, you'll see Gimme tilt her nose toward the correct box between stepping on the 4th and 5th boxes.  So she knew it was "over there" that soon.  I have to admit that I didn't see that nose tilt in real time, though its very clear in the video.  And lest you criticize me for not calling alert the first time she scratched the correct box - I've learned that when Gimme is searching with the multiple hits like she is here, to make sure she is more specific in her alert.  So I wait for her to "stick" the box, which means that she stays with it even though I move past it.  The first time she didn't stick it and the second time she did (not to mention she got more serious about demolishing it).

Nova arrived with her dogs just after I finished with Gimme.  So we didn't have to take any special measures to ensure Gimme, Empress of the Cosmos, didn't get her nose bent out of joint.  Within a half hour of her arriving, we went in for Freea's first run of the day on Clove.  It occurred to me that we could have someone in the room to videotape, so decided it might as well be Nova, so Freea would be happier.  She's still a Momma's girl, and you can see where she wants to go to Nova in a couple places, but I was able to get her to work again and she did a good job.

After that we had two hours to waste, so Nova took me Ridgefield for lunch.  Found a sweet little Mexican restaurant and pigged out.

For Freea's second run (Anise) I had Nova go into the gymnasium ahead of us.  That way, Freea could see her and then move on without looking back to see where Mommy was.  As you can see in this video, it worked very well and she got it in 8.5 seconds.  She's a good girl and it was fun to play with her.

Gimme is miffed at me right now.  She was just sure as soon as we got home that we'd have a training session - and yet, here I am, on the computer.  So, I better get off the computer and get on to doing the things that SHE deems important...