Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29th Gearing Up

The new leads I ordered came in Monday, and I used the new Martingale lead at Tuesday night's class. It worked much much better than the slip lead, and Princess had no lead fighting issues. I think she's ready for her first show a week from Saturday. I'm not sure I'm ready, so I'll let her do all the showing. She certainly knows her stuff.

It will give us a bit of experience to take with us to the Blue Grass Classic in September.

Buck's foot is continuing to heal up nicely and is only slightly discolored between the toes now. He and Freya chase eachother relentlessly around the yard, through the house, tumbling, mouthing, yapping and having a great time. I think she will miss him greatly once we find him a good home. Buck is a sweetie, curling up with me when he's exhausted from playing with Freya, and content to be petted until he's rested up for another round. He and Moon are sometimes at odds since Moon thinks she's the pack leader and Buck doesn't think she should be. As they get older it may become necessary to separate them when we are not around. There has been nothing serious yet, but their arguments get a little more boysterous than mere disagreements. This could morph into something worse as maturity hits and hormones start kicking in for Moon. But it may well go the other way and disappear. Buck will steadily move towards mental maturity since he has been fixed, so I don't expect any serious behavior changes in him although instinct will still tell him that Moon is female and a potential mating partner even if his hormones don't.

Moon... she's a beautiful little girl that is full of energy all the time. This is not so good since Jim (her caretaker) is not. Consequently, she gets in to trouble... A LOT! Tuesday she chewed the bottom on my wood nightstand, tore a hole in my carpet and ate the runner that was by my door. This was the day that Jim and James were home all day... You can guess I wasn't too happy and was not blaming the dog... Guess that bumps up replacing the carpet in my room a couple of notches...

Xena does good, she goes outside alone and does her business, loves to cuddle, and is very sweet and cuddly. She, Bandit and Demon hang out together and play all the time. Bandit sometimes breaks away to go play with Buck and Freya, but generally he LOVES Xena and not in only a plutonic way. Going to be tough when she goes in to heat.

Ace and Moon play a lot together, and it keeps Ace out of trouble. She also likes to play a lot with Princess. Princess adores Ace and G'kar. I'm not sure if it is because they look so much alike, but she will play with Ace as much as possible and will try to goad the Red Menace into playing with her. Sometimes she even succeeds. Princess is the only puppy G'kar will play with. He will tolerate the others at times, but will only play with her or chase Yukon.

Yukon loves playing with Bandit and Freya. They are the only two in the yard that can keep up with him, but Yukon adores Freya and G'kar. I'm not sure what he thinks of G'kar, but I swear sometimes he courts the Red Menace as if he were a female. Freya, though, is HIS mate. He's ok with Samantha, but not as interested in her as in Freya. I still love his little "Oh!". It is the cutest husky noise ever.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26th Buck's Toes

I'm happy to say that Buck's toes are finally healing up! He has been happy and extremely playful now that he is feeling better. It is good to see him romping around with such fervor again! He and Freya play and play and play, and Freya loves every minute of it. She loves having someone to romp with that has as much endless energy as she does. And I love it too, keeps her in great shape and fit for fall training.
However, that training seems far away with the temperatures in the 90's for the last couple of weeks... Grates on my nerves as I can't get much accomplished outside. The bout I had with heat exhaustion has left me little tolerance for long hours in the hot sun, so I try to get as much done in the mornings as possible. With high humidity, though, it takes too long for the grass to dry enough to mow. At least this week temps are cooling off into the 80's, so hopefully I'll be able to weed my gardens...

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23rd Buck's Foot

Such a sweet little boy. I still don't know how he hurt his foot, just noticed him licking it a lot and saw that it was red between the toes deep in. I cleaned it and put bactine on it, and antiseptic cream, but it became infected. I took him in to the vet, and she cleaned it again, perscribed prednisone and doxy, but though the infection seemed to recede, his toes never healed completely. So I took him back again for another round of antibiotics, anti-inflamitory, and this time the vet added in an antifungal after describing Bucky's favorite activity (jumping into the horse trough, digging/splashing water, and blowing bubbles with his nose). She also prescribed a comfy-cone collar to keep him from hiding and licking. Poor boy. He is enjoying getting to sleep in my room with the adults and Princess, but he is getting tired of wearing the cone. Who can blame him? I see an Elizabethan collar and I run for the hills! I could only imagine what it would be like to wear a grammophone on your neck...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21st Off Lead Surprise

Last night at class, we had quite a few new dogs and puppies show up. I was very proud of how well behaved Princess is around other dogs. She is curious, but not overwhelmingly so, and never once reacted to a threatening dog with fear or aggression, just a certain aloof non-chalance of ... well... a Princess.

The only dog she really seemed interested in was the Malmute puppy, and more freindly curiosity than anything else. All night she kept trying to turn around and look behind her. So we had a little battle over the lead control. We did a 'Free Baiting' test, and Princess did not want to cooperate with lead direction. So, our instructor told me to drop her lead. With a little uncertainty, I did as she asked. Lo and behold, Princess became a Pro Star Performer! Who would have thought? She heeled great, free baited great, and even trotted around the arena leashless past all the other dogs at heel! I was so proud of her.

The only things she seems to have issues with is keeping her feet still when she is supposed to be stacked, and loud 'crowd' noises. She about wet herself when the people watching started cheering and clapping at our instructor's request. So she was perscribed a new method of training to get her used to loud noises, crating at least 2 hours a day with loud rap music. Well, I can't torture my Princess that much, however, I did think that putting on a ballgame on the tv or the radio would be better since it has crowd noises.

This morning Jim put Princess in the crate in my room when he took James to school, and my little angel was a good girl, not one whimper. So I told him to turn on a ballgame tomorrow when he takes James. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile I will be working on making her stand still when stacked. That to me will be a bigger challenge... heh.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15th The Husky Walk

Walks are almost never tiring for a husky, so in order to tire out Princess, we do some special training while out walking.

Step one is to acquire the 20 to 25 foot or longer leash. 6 foot leads just do not have enough leeway for an energetic, intelligent and curious husky. Put the looped end around your right wrist and pray that your husky does not pull your arm out of its socket. With your left hand, guide or gather the leash when needed.

With this setup Princess and I set out on a walk. She is hyper and ready to go, whining and pulling as hard as she can. For the first three minutes of the walk, I let her have the whole lead (provided there are no traffic or other distractions/dangers) so she can run back and forth, ahead and stop, sniff and catch up then run ahead again. In this manner, she runs about 5 times as far as I walk, she is constantly running, and she has a ball! Intermittently after that, I do 'recall' training, heel training, and mushing commands training. As she weaves back and forth, seeing and investigating all there is, I coordinate her movements with the commands for mushing.

When she veers left, I tell her good "Haw". When she veers right, I tell her good "Gee". When she walks on the left shoulder I tell her good "Haw Over", and right shoulder is "Gee Over". When we stop for an oncoming car I recall her with 'come', tell her haw or gee over and whoa. When she comes to me I praise her greatly and pet her, and sometimes if I have chopped hot dogs on me I give her a treat. Once the car has passed, or she has been randomly recalled, I ask her to heel for a short time, shorten the leash and get her to walk with me for ~20 feet or more. Then I tell her whoah, give her more praise, pettings and a treat, then let her go on the long lead so she can run around some more. If she pulls excessively, I stop and wait for her to look back at me and let slack in the lead. Huskies HATE stopping, so it isn't long before she figures out that in order to keep going forward, she has to slacken up. When she does, she gets more praise and the reward of going forward again.

This is a great game to Princess, and she loves taking walks this way. By the time I've walked two miles, she's run about six, is tired and happy as a clam. Plus, she's been in training and learning commands the whole time. She also loves the time spent with me enjoying the outdoors investigating and playing like a puppy should.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14th Princess' Training

One thing about Siberian Huskies that endear them to me so much is that each one has a very distinct and unique personality. I'm not talking about variences within a breed, but truely unique which makes them one of the more challenging breeds to train. However, there are some constants which make the challenge easier once they are completely understood. The first constant is their love of running. This is their bread and butter, what they were bred to do since their domestication, and probably even long before then. A Siberian Husky will learn a lot of things from you if it involves running in some shape or form. (notice I said running, not necessarily pulling) Siberian Huskies are normally people oriented dogs. This means they respond very well to your body language, your actions and your emotions even when you don't want them to. What this means to your training regimen is that you must be very careful of what signals you give to your husky. It also means they respond VERY well to positive reinforcement training.

With these in mind, you can then move on to determining what works for your individual husky. Bear in mind that they are extremely intelligent, but also have very strong instincts. With intelligence comes individuality and sometimes independance. What works with one husky may not necessarily work with another. For example, a squirt with a water bottle for Princess is an invitation to drink water from said bottle. For G'kar, you may as well have yanked the world out from under him as squirt him with the same bottle. The rest of the pack responds in a variance of reactions ranging from the one extreme to the other.

So, what works with Princess. She's a very kind if playful soul, and responds very well to positive reinforcement training. Of the pack, she is probably the easiest to train in this manner. That being said, she is also a Siberian Husky, and unlikely to be interested in training until she has had a good run or if her training includes running.

My mistake last week was not to have tired her out prior to class, ergo, she was all bubbling over with energy which means excitement, which means basically ignoring me. This week, I took her for a long walk Monday (I will describe how I walk her and why that involves running and husky satisfaction later on), and asked my son to walk her prior to class. What a world of difference that makes! She was a perfect angel last night! You wouldn't believe she was the same dog. So, I learned a valuable lesson on how to train Princess, make sure she's tired out, then use a lot of positive reinforcement, oh and when she's thirsty, squirt her with the water bottle...

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12th They Ate the Couch

4 bored Siberian Puppies + 1 Couch and two hours of alone time = mayhem.

Yup, my darling husband left the four girls in the house when he took my son to college this morning. He forgot to do the single most important thing when you have 4 puppies in the house... leave them chew toys!!! Yeah, he took off and forgot to give them chewies and their kong toys. Needless to say the puppies found other things to chew on. So, now we will need to do some repairs on our couch. Jim blames the puppies. He has restricted their house area to the kitchen and half the dining room. We'll see how long that lasts.

The Adventures of Princess Squeaker part 1:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7th Princess ADHD

These are the cookies I baked for the 4th of July. They were mighty tasty and didn't last the night.

At class last night, Princess was waaaay too excited and wouldn't settle down. Consequently, she didn't do very well for the first half hour. She kept turning around, refusing to come near the table where the little dogs stack, moving around when she was supposed to be still, and generally being an antsy child. She was being more than a handful, but eventually she settled down and got serious, but by then class was half over.

We learned patterns, the triangle, the
diagonal, and the "L", how to handle the dogs at each of the turns and how to approach the judge. Near the end of class, she was performing like a professional, but this tells me I need to have her tired out before class so she will settle enough to learn.

When I got home I asked James to walk her around 4pm on Tuesdays so she will already be a bit tired before class.

Our road was closed this morning, so I ended up driving around the long way. It is very pretty winding through the hills, and there are lots of old forests that give the feeling of antiquity. To me it felt as if I should have been there long ago, as if I belonged and they had been waiting for me to rediscover their secrets.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 6th Good Times

Xena pauses to watch Bandit and Buck play.

It was a very eventful weekend for us, starting early Saturday morning. It was 52 degrees F, so I hooked up Yukon, Demon, Freya and Bandit (Cat), and we went for a 1.5 mile run. Freya was howling and screaming to run. She jumped and squirmed so much, Jim had to have James help him hold the rig so I could hook up the other dogs. Bandit was great! He sat most of the time even though it was quite obvious he was excited to get running! He is an awesome sled dog, and nothing ruffles his fur! His disposition is the best in a husky that I've seen! He pulled hard the whole way, never slacking up once. He and his mother make an awesome team! If he keeps shaping up like he has, he will definitely be on my dryland team this coming fall! I can't say enough about this marvelous up and coming dog! He's already getting the hang of Gee and Haw, and has learned that most important command "Whoah!" Incredible!

When we returned, and after the dogs were snacked with their customary frozen meat patty, I gave them each a good rub-down and checkup. It was still in the 50's, and the dogs were all happy. Jim and I gathered up the fishing poles and tackle and headed down to the local dam to get in some fishing while the weather was cool. I caught a bunch of bluegills, and one small bass, all that I threw back in, and Jim caught one bluegill. It was peaceful and a very beautiful morning, and the park looked like a great place to hike. I think I'll plan one there in the near future if the weather cooperates.

Later that evening, I de-installed the old dishwasher and picked up the new one we bought Friday and re-installed it. It is a very nice Whirlpool brand with the silverware trays on the door. It works a hundred times better than the old one that was limping along on its last legs since we moved in over a year ago. It also matches the new stove and microwave combo, silver and black. We are slowly getting things together to improve the house, one bit at a time.

Sunday we spent all day in family time, meaning no one allowed to be on the computer or in their rooms away from the rest of the family. It was great, and we watched some movies, socialized with the pups and each other. It was very pleasant. In the evening I grilled out some steaks and later on, Jim lit off the fireworks.

Bandit was so excited to see what was going on, he begged to go outside and watch, so I put him on a lead and took him out to watch the fireworks. Nothing startled him, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy all the colorful sparkles in the air. Even firecrackers didn't phase him. He took it all in stride and loved being in the middle of the action with his people. What an amazing dog he is! I'm pretty sure if I was in an area that I didn't have to worry about livestock, I would be able to train him off-lead. As it was, he stayed relatively close and though he was curious and stepped away from me quite often, he never pulled on the lead, content to stay close by my side.

Any time I've taken Bandit for a walk, he instinctively heels, and I've never had to teach him to be good on lead which is amazing when I consider how well he pulls in harness!

Monday was another quiet and lazy day.

Tonight I'm off to show classes again with Princess. She is learning faster than I, but I can be taught.