Inara and I are on the news!

For something good, I swear!  LOL

A Cleveland councilman is trying to get the breed specific language removed from the city’s vicious dog legislation.  It was up before the Public Safety committee today and I, along with several others, showed up to support it and provide testimony.  After the meeting, a reporter who had recorded the whole session approached me and said she really would like some video of a pit bull and would I mind letting her get video of Inara?  I said that would be outstanding and we arranged a time.

A friend brought over her pit mix as well so the reporter could get video of the two dogs playing.  She recorded me playing with Inara; Inara playing with the other dog; us all walking down the sidewalk (trying hard to look super casual!), and then us sitting on the porch.

I thought there would only be that video in the news clip but nope!  Part of my testimony was in there too!  Eek!  And she actually showed a decent amount of video of me & Inara, not the 2 seconds I was expecting.  So it was pretty awesome and exciting.  🙂

Anyway, here is a link to the video (you may have to copy/paste):

http://www.fox8.com/videobeta/92d55d41-dfdc-4f0c-9146-2e1f723a431c/News/Changes-Possible-to-Dog-Ordinance

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Exciting weekend!!!

I know I’m a bit late in posting, but Inara and I had a super exciting day this past weekend!    We were entered in beginner obedience and beginner zoom rally at a C-WAGS trial on Sunday.  I was pretty nervous because I had never been to the facility before, but Ginger told me to bring Inara early so she could sniff around before other dogs got there.  Great idea.

So we get Inara’s sniffing done and do a little training to get her into working mode, and then other dogs started arriving.  I decided that Inara would probably be more relaxed staying crated in my car than crated in the building with all the other dogs.  However, it was rapidly getting very hot so I ended up having to bring her inside anyway.  And miracle of all miracles – she didn’t bark as I brought her in.  NOT ONCE.  There were dogs out on leash, and dogs crated, and dogs barking, and she went by them all to the corner I’d chosen for her.  Whoa.

Our turn to do our first run-through came up and in she went.  She kept pulling towards the judge in between exercises because it was a new person and darnit she wanted to say hi!  Fortunately that didn’t count against us, LOL.  She had a couple bobbles in her routine – she popped up from her down during our position change exercise, and scooted closer to the judge during the greeting portion.  But other than that, she was outstanding!  Her heeling was gorgeous (she did bump me a bit on our left turn) and during her down/walk-around, apparently a dog in the other ring was doing an off-leash recall (possibly over a jump?) and according to Ginger, Inara thought about getting up – BUT DIDN’T.  My goodness, my girl is learning self-control!

So we finished and I was pleased.  My goal for each run-through of the day was just to qualify.  I didn’t care if I didn’t place high, I just wanted to qualify and have fun.  So the judge gathered us to hand out ribbons and says, “1st place goes to team #52, the pit bull.”  I was looking around trying to figure out how another pit bull competed without me noticing when Ginger said, “Liz, that’s YOU.”  Holy cripes we got 1st place.  *insert shocked face here!*

So then we did our 2nd obedience run-through.  Again, a couple bobbles, but over all very nice and I was pretty confident I was going to at least get another qualifying ribbon.  The judge is handing out ribbons, and I hear “2nd place, Inara!”  WHAT???  Whose dog have I stolen and been competing with???  I was totally grinning from ear to ear.

Then we did our Zoom Rally run-through.  That one was tougher because Inara was getting tired and over-threshold.  The first few exercises I just kind of dragged her through, but then she engaged with me and we finished pretty well.  However, I was still going to be shocked if we weren’t NQ’ed.  But oh no!  We got 4th place!!!

We were scheduled to do one more Rally run-through but Inara had had enough.  She lost it at another dog and I couldn’t get her back, so I withdrew her even though we were already in the ring.  It wasn’t going to be productive for either of us to try to force her through.

So now Inara has 3/4 legs for an obedience title, and 1/4 legs for a rally title.  And I’m floating on air.  🙂

This is our 1st run-through, with 1st place:

This is our 2nd run-through, with 2nd place:

This is our Rally run-through, with 4th place:

Silly pet tricks, Part 1

For some reason, I got it into my head that I want Inara to stick her tongue out on cue.  Why?  Why not?  Unfortunately it’s slow going.  For some reason I’m finding this a hard behavior to catch with the clicker.  I’ve had three little sessions and I think we’re seeing a bit more tongue action, but I don’t think she’s realizing that’s what I’m clicking.  You can see that she’s up and down and throwing behaviors at me.  Which also doesn’t make it easier to see when her tongue flicks out.  But we’re trying and we’ll get there!  Anyway, here are the first three training sessions we’ve done.  They’re not exciting, but I thought it would be fun to be able to see any progression.

On a random note, we have our first C-WAGS Rally competition this Sunday, so wish us luck!!!

Perfect trifecta for brilliant behavior?

Could it be?  Have I found the penultimate trifecta that inspires genius in Inara?  That keeps her from over-reacting but keeps her drive up enough to provide a brilliant rally performance?  I’m not sure I should share this secret!  But I will, because I know others may benefit from it.  It has three main ingredients (hence the word “trifecta”).

1.  New treats:  Nothing extraordinary, just a generic lamb-based food roll cut into training treat sizes.  Inexpensive, easy to carry, not messy.  Stinky but not in an offensive way.  However, they must taste divine.

2.  New diet:  Inara used to be on high-protein grain-free kibble.  Last week I switched her to raw, which has about 18-20% protein, about half of the kibble she was eating.  Pertinent?  Perhaps…

3.  Calming collar:  I bought this from Ginger 3 or 4 weeks ago.  I hadn’t noticed anything at first, but last night Inara was such a different dog that I’m wondering if this is one of the key aspects of the trifecta.  Anyway, it’s a possibility.

So what happened last night that made me discover this miraculous trifecta?  We had Rally class.  It’s a new session (last night was week 2) and there are three pit bulls (two of which are reactive), a 10 year old Border Terrier (completely inoffensive but apparently has a target painted on him) and a reactive Lab.  The first week Inara had snarked at the Border Terrier, just to let him know that she was a bitch.  Not that that’s difficult for other dogs to notice.  😉  But last night the Lab broke free from his owner, just one of those horrible accidents that happen, and went after the Border Terrier in a very intent way.  Fortunately everybody was on their toes so the kerfluffle was short and no harm was caused.  However, the noises during the incident!  Holy cripes.  Barking and snarling and more barking from the reactive dogs.

All but one.  Inara whipped around to see the fiasco but as soon as I called her name, she whipped right back and focused on me.  Not a peep out of her.  *insert SHOCKED face here*  That’s right, my dog who still barks upon entering the building just to announce her presence did not bark.  My dog that holds a grudge against any dog that snarks at her did not bark.  My dog who occasionally barks obnoxiously at dogs completely ignoring her did not bark.  Not only did she not bark, she stayed focused on me, eating treats and looking relaxed.  *insert shocked face again*

Short of magic, the only thing that changed last night was that perfect trifecta.  Same seat.  Same dogs.  Hell, I probably had the same outfit on.  Same everything, except the trifecta.

So, gentle readers, there you have it.  Treats cut out of a lamb food roll, new lower protein diet and a calming collar gives you a perfect dog.  Who knew?

She of the trifecta

Can dogs be bipolar?

If they can, I believe Inara is.  And I say that with love as I wouldn’t have her any other way! “But Liz,” you may be asking, “why ever would you think that your sweet, innocent little doggy might be anything less than perfect?”  Well, gentle readers, let me tell you a couple fun things about gorgeous Miss Inara.

1.  Last night we started a new session of Rally.  We’ve taken it several times but each time there are different dogs.  Inara actually started off doing pretty well, a few barks here and there, but just her standard “Hi!  I’m here!” barks.  So Ginger sets up a practice course for us, and off we go.  Obstacle number one?  No, not a rally obstacle – a real-life obstacle.  We have to pass by the seriously non-offensive Border Terrier.  FAIL.  Inara pretended as though she just noticed he was there – RARARARARARR!  Really?  So I smile sweetly, grit my teeth, and pull her back to where her brain can turn back on.  Just like that, she’s with me again.  Alright, off we go to the starting line again.  We start, and again have to pass by innocent Border Terrier minding his own business.  RARARARARARARAR!  *sigh*  Find the magic location in the room that turns her brain back on, and off we go again.  With some fast talking and quick thinking, we make it through the course with only a few more grumbles.  Then our turn comes up again.  I brace for the outburst and…nothing.  Perfect show dog.  “Mother,” I can hear her saying, oddly enough in a British accent, “I have no idea why you think I would create an outburst.  How gauche.  Pish posh, let’s trot along and have a spot of water, shall we?”  I simply shrug and go with it.

2.  Walks.  While walking, should another dog have the unmitigated gall to step on her path and come close, Inara does her most spectacular Cujo impersonation – barking, lunging, throwing the f-bomb, insulting their mother, etc.  It’s charming.  Fortunately, with bipolar doggy, it lasts less than a minute and then off she trots, quite pleased with herself, acting as though nothing out of the ordinary just happened.

3.  Very rarely is she just “there.”  She’s either UP UP UP!  Or asleep.  Thrashing a toy around wildly or snoring on the couch.  Playing tag with me or laying in the sun.  Very few in-between states where she is conscious but not doing much.  Asleep or wild.  On or off.

So yes, I do believe I have a bipolar dog.  Any others out there feel me?  Have any bipolar dogs of your own?

Inara in a rare moment of conscious calmness, with glowing ears.

I feel like chicken tonight!

So I fed it!  That’s right, switched Inara back to a raw diet.  She was on it years ago but it just got too expensive.  However, I spent some time sourcing food and I can feed her for less than a dollar a day, about the same price as her kibble.  I’m also keeping an eye on CraigsList for a used freezer so I can buy in bulk.

Inara seemed VERY excited when she saw me getting chicken out for her.  It makes me happy to see her enjoy a meal so much, and know how healthy and appropriate it is for her.

Being the total dork that I am, I took video.  So, enjoy!

Steve & Jen White

Went to a seminar at PosiDog this past weekend.  I wrote this part for my forum on Saturday evening, after the first day:

So this weekend I am at this: http://www.posidog.com/sjw/ . I didn’t attend the Friday event, just today and tomorrow. I’d never really seen Steve and Jen at all, but every time I mentioned their names, I heard, “OMG they’re awesome! I’m so jealous!” And now I see why. They are SO much fun. So charismatic. And so sweet together, too. :-)

PosiDog, the training club this is at, is an outstanding facility. It’s very spacious and the staff is SO accommodating to, uh, special needs dogs. :wink: They’re letting a few of us crate our dogs in an office area so it’s quieter for them and they’re blocked from each other’s sight. They have a ton of lightweight visual barriers that they have set up to designate several working areas. The area for the “banana bunch” (space sensitive dogs wear yellow bandanas, and we’re all in one group, working one at a time, so we’ve been dubbed the “banana bunch” :giggle: ) is completely enclosed so the dogs can’t see out at all. They also let me bring Inara over to the club last night so she could check it out so it wouldn’t be as new for her today.

Inara was pretty amped up this morning – not barking very much, but definitely not paying attention to me. I considered it a miracle when I managed to get a glance from her. But by the end of the day she was giving me lovely attention.

S&J are alternating lecturing (I use that term loosely) with working. And the way they’re having us work is so odd to me, but it’s really working. They’re having us use a “training triad” – handler, trainer and coach. The handler handles the dog, the trainer provides feedback to the handler, and the coach monitors the feedback between the two to make sure it stays respectful, positive and helpful. They’re having us write out training plans before each and every working session. I hate training plans, but I have to admit they’re helping. Our first working session of the day we just did 5 reps to get a baseline. My plan was to work on our Attention Heel, but that was a no go. My goal was reduced to “get Inara’s attention.” It was really nice because after my baseline session, one of the girls told me what a beautiful calm energy I exude and another girl said that it’s obvious Inara and I have a really good bond. That was really nice to hear. :)

After our first session, each working session consisted of 5 reps, 3 times in a row with feedback from your trainer and coach in between. It was a really bizarre way of working for me because it only took about 5 minutes to do your 3 sessions, total. But it was working.

During lunch, I inhaled my lunch and then spent the rest of it working with Inara. Most of the dogs were put away so we were able to work in the main area a bit. At the end of lunch, one of the staff members came up to me and handed me a big bag of Fromm’s treats. She said, “this is for you because I’m just so impressed with how you’re working so hard to make Inara comfortable and happy in this space.” It was so nice!

After lunch, they asked for a volunteer to do their 3 sessions in front of the whole class, on video, with feedback from S&J themselves. I raised my hand, of course. So Inara and I got to strut our stuff, and thank god she actually did pretty well! It was kind of nerve-wrecking having everybody stare at us and videotape us, but Steve said he was extremely impressed with my poise and how calm I was with Inara. He said that it’s pretty obvious she could easily be worked to over-arousal, but that my calm, relaxed way of working with her really was beneficial. He also asked me to get some video of us working later down the road and send them to him because he anticipates we’ll go far. :D

So then I put her away and they played the vids of us working up on the screen. Several times for each video and we all analyzed what I did well and what I could have done better. We noticed that I’d taught Inara a pattern (I’m good at that :rolleyes2: ) – I was just walking around waiting on her to provide eye contact, and it turned into “change direction, tight leash, loose leash, eye contact, treat, repeat.” So I had a new goal for our next working session: kill the pattern! lol

It was a really fantastic day and Inara and I are whipped. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. :)

The 2nd day was actually more frustrating for me with Inara than the first day – she had seemed to regress to the point where she would spend minutes barking upon entering our training section.  Fortunately, the subject that day was problem-solving!  So I problem-solved and tried not to get discouraged, but it was so hard.  I know how far we’ve come and I know what she’s capable of, but for some reason (perhaps the 19 other dogs?  strange facility?  strangers?) I felt like we were back at step 1.  I do have to admit though, using the training plans and the 5 rep sessions, we made progress throughout the day.  Our final session we had no barking and she was able to take one step in an Attention Heel position.  I called it quits after that.  Always end on a good note.

Overall, I cannot rave enough about Steve & Jen.  They are so very kind, funny and willing to help.  And the PosiDog facility was one of which I am totally envious!  So definitely a worthy weekend.  Inara and I were beat, I have a new respect for how far we still have to go, but I also had it brought to my attention several times what a great handler I am.  So we’re on the right track.  We’ll get there!!!