Sunday, June 24, 2012

Working Ryder

Guinness Got Gelded

I am pleased to announce on Thursday we had a successful castration!  I was worried because it appeared his manly bits had not dropped.  This would mean a surgery vs a traditional (vet) castration.  Sam knocked him out, helped him lie  down and tied up his leg.  Getting in there she smiled and said he  was up high but could still be easily and safely done.  I was thrilled.  This meant a major difference in the size of the vet bill.  

He'd been rather sassy.  But of course, the day I try to take pictures of him is the day he decides to join up and follow me around.  Here's my little boy (on day two after his "operation").  One year old already!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yard Eye Candy

Here's a sampling of some of my pots I've put together.  Love, love flowers.


Pansies - remind me of Grandma.

One of my favorite pots.

Cheerful Wave Petunias.

Pretty contrasts.

Delicate and feminine.

The Imposter.  Mixed in with my pink waves.  Needed it's own home.

These are all freshly planted.  Once summer is in "full bloom" I'll take some fresh pictures to share with you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Deep Breath

This week I met with a (new) friend.  I wanted to opportunity to do some dog training with Ryder.  He was really reactive to the dog.  I miss my nice little boy.  He's normally fairly good.  Normally he'll respond to redirection and listen really well.  I'll keep working with him.  That being said, I've set myself a deadline.   If I can't get things rolling on the right track by the end of July I've made the heartbreaking decision to send him out for training elsewhere.  He doesn't have to be perfect but he does have to be showing improvement.  Then the decision will be to decide who and where I send him to.  I love him too much to not let him be the best he can be. 

This would let me focus on Diva while someone focuses on him.  Meanwhile, the plan is to do as much stock work as possible, as well as lot's and lot's of one-one town exposure to work on increasing his tolerance for different settings, situations and dogs.  I also want to hook up with Justine and Gisela and do some work with each of these talented ladies.  I know they will have some insights that can help Ryder and I improve our relationship and communication.

Taking a deep breath...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And The Thunder Rolls

Summer storm season is rolling it's way in.  I've recently learned that both Ryder and Diva don't like storms.  Ryder gets worried, pants, and hides.  Diva gets manic.  She circles, barks, leaps at the windows, and jumps on and off the couches all with an edge of hyper desperation.  When the first rumble came from the sky, I ushered the dogs into the house and gave them a dose of the herbal stress relief.  Ryder then sat beside me on the couch panting, while Diva did her wild dog routine.  Eventually I was able to get Diva settled on the couch sandwiched in between Ryder and myself.

I've discovered that much like some the special children I've worked with she really likes pressure.  If I hold her squirmy little body and apply pressure (pushing her into the cushions of the couch) she seems to become calm.  It settles her down.  I noticed this with the submission roll (yes, even though it has been likened to child abuse).  For that reason I think as long as I'm gentle and it works to settle and calm her I'll continue to do it.  I think animals, like people are individuals.  For Ryder, pressure would stress him out and for that reason I won't ever do it to him.

With Diva it can be as simple as placing my hand on the back of her neck and holding her still.  Or pulling her onto my lap and cuddling her close.  Or holding her in a lie-down position.  I'm never rough  or aggressive.  I've discovered this strategy works when she's overly excited (she's a bit special on that side of things), stressed (either at home or in public).  When summer arrives and I'm not so pressed for time I'm going to do some research into pressure therapy and dogs.  I've grown curious on the topic.

Less Than Thrilled

Last night - while I was procrastinating on my work - I finished reading How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren.  My intention with reading the book was to learn more about dog behavior so I could better help my dogs.  I was disappointed.  The book talked a lot about what abilities the dogs have and how they communicate with each other. It told me how to greet a skittish dog and how to avoid being bit by an aggressive dog.   It even told me how to not communicate with them.  What it didn't do was tell me how to communicate back when they were struggling.  Coren (2000) writes, "having your dog under full control is achieved by a combination of two factors.  The dog must accept that you are the Alpha dog and the animal must want to please you" (p. 240).   This is lovely advice.  It did however leave me with the question of what do you do with a dog like Diva?  A dog who really does march to it's own drum.  Diva really does NOT want to please me.  To be honest, I don't see that changing any time soon.

Coren also likened things like the Alpa roll to child abuse.  Strong words.  What he didn't do was provide advice of how to address dog aggression or communication problems.  He provided some tips but they were minimal.  This has left me feeling frustrated.  Do I now have a good understanding of how dogs communicate?  Yep.  But I did before I read the book.  I have learned to be very observant of my dogs.  I watch them while they play.  I watch them while we walk.  I watch them when we are at rest.  I've developed a very good understanding of who they are as dogs, what things are red flags, and am left with the missing piece of how I can help them be the best dogs they can possibly be.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Herbal Help

I was given the lead that Bach Flower Remedies could be something that might help Ryder.  I've really felt something was off with him.  He seemed sad.  Worried.  I went to the health food store to see what they had, and have started the dogs on Rescue Remedy.  This stuff is supposed to be good for stress.  Since I'm stressed I figured my dogs might be having a reaction to that.  I've been putting drops in their water, and I give Ryder a squirt before I leave for work in the morning.

I wasn't sure if it was helping until tonight.  Tonight I was cutting the grass.  Diva was tied behind the house to the deck (she wants to "work" the horse) and Ryder was loose.  Ryder mostly followed me around, laying down and watching from a safe distance.  I was surprised at how busy my little subdivision was.  I happened to be cutting grass in the front, Ryder lying by my truck when a couple with a little fluffy white dog approached.  Now, as embarrassing as this is to admit - my dogs are not the "nice" dogs of the neighborhood.  Pulling the mower to a stop I called Ryder.  With no toys, I played with him while the couple and dog walked past both times.  He was awesome.  He wasn't as "alert" as he can be (particularly when myself or the property is concerned).  He didn't even bark!  A

I kept mowing while two other families went past.  He didn't race out to bark at them.  He recalled to the mower and listened really good.  I was in the back area when another dog walked past and he sat by the horse fence and watched.  No barking.  No racing towards the fence.  I was thrilled with his behavior.

I don't know if it was the herbs.  I don't know if it was the fact Diva, his sidekick, was tied up.  I just know I was happy with him acting like a well adjusted dog.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Not sure who owns this - pulled it off Facebook - but thought it was super cute!  True, t'boot.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weigh In!

I took Ryder and Diva to the vet's on Saturday to pick up some dewormer.  While there I put each one on the scale.  Ryder weighs 49 lbs and Diva weighs a hefty 45 lbs!  Considering how much shorter she is that's a big little chunk!  She's mostly muscle and explains how come she seems so strong!  Ryder is super lean right now - he's a picky eater and I'm working on putting weight on him.  Once he's up he'll pass the 50 lbs mark!  Amazing given that Tessa has hovered around the 35-40 lbs mark her entire life.  Funny the variation in Border Collie size.