Friday, January 29, 2010

Mika and Shadow in 2007

Cute photo from Dec. 2007. A rare moment between Mika, then 3 years old, and Shadow, almost 13 years old. Thought I'd share.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dog saved from an ice floe

Found this today. What a lucky dog!!

Dog Adrift On Ice Off Poland Saved From Baltic Sea

"A frightened, shivering dog has been rescued after floating alone on an ice floe down Poland's Vistula River and then 15 miles (24 kilometers) out into the Baltic Sea.

Now his saviors just have to figure out who really owns him.

Four people have already claimed him, but so far rescuers say there's been no wagging tail of joy from the miracle dog they nicknamed "Baltic."

The dog's frozen odyssey came as Poland suffers through a winter cold snap, with temperatures dipping to below minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 Celsius).

The thick-furred male dog was found adrift Monday by the crew of the Baltica, a Polish ship of ocean scientists carrying out research in the Baltic Sea. Researcher Natalia Drgas said Thursday the rescue was difficult and at one point it seemed the dog had drowned.

"It was really a tough struggle. It kept slipping into the water and crawling back on top of the ice. At one point it vanished underwater, under the ship and we thought it was the end, but it emerged again and crawled on an ice sheet," Drgas said.

At that point, the crew lowered a pontoon down to the water and a crew member managed to grab the dog by the scruff of his neck and pull him to safety.

Too weak to shake off the frigid water, Baltic was dried and wrapped in blankets. After he warmed up, he was massaged, fed and soon got on his feet to seek company, Drgas said.

A firefighter on duty in Grudziadz, on the Vistula river 60 miles (100 kilometers) inland from the Bay of Gdansk, told The Associated Press the dog was spotted Saturday floating on ice through the city. Firefighters tried to save the dog but could not approach him on the shifting ice sheets, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Baltica crew, now moored in the port city of Gdynia, have been searching for the dog's owners, ship captain Jerzy Wosachlo said. So far four people have claimed him, but Baltic has not claimed any of them back, Drgas said.

The dog didn't welcome the first two people to come for him, keeping his distance and showing no recognition to a couple on Wednesday and a woman on Thursday who both said he was theirs. Two other would-be owners were still on their way to Gdynia for a possible reunion.

Once in port, the brown-and-black mongrel was taken to a veterinarian, who found him in surprisingly good condition and estimated his age at around 5 or 6. Veterinarian Aleksandra Lawniczak, said the 44-pound (20-kilogram) dog was clearly frightened but in strikingly good shape and had suffered no frostbite.

She described him as a friendly dog who was clearly well treated before getting lost.

Wosachlo said the research team is prepared to adopt Baltic if his original owner is never found."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Anybody ever heard of this sport? It's basically "ball-herding." There are eight balls, and the dog has to kind of herd/push the balls into a net. Competitions are being held in Germany and Sweden.

What does everyone think about this? Here are a few videos I found.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making snowballs...

...the schnauzer way!

Mika showing off her snowball-making skills.

Next time she's wearing her Jammies that cover her LEGS, that's for sure!!

And a couple of favourite, non-snowball-related photos from the bunch:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just dozin'

Where are Mika's eyes?! :O

I've noticed that the pigment on her nose is fading again; I guess because it's winter. I'm pretty sure she has "dudley nose," where a black nose fades to brown or pink as the dog ages. But her nose usually darkens in the summer and then fades again during the winter, which sounds like "snow nose," although from what I've read most snow noses turn pink in the winter, not brown. Oh well, it's a seasonal thing, so nothing to be worried about!

Wall-e looks so innocent when he sleeps. It's no wonder I used the song "Innocence" for his very first video when he first came home!

(I've really got to stop posting sleeping photos, hahaha.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Worried Wall-e update

Many of you probably know about Wall-e's very stressful experience at the fun match in the middle of December. If you missed that post, you can read it here if you like.

Ever since that day, Wall-e has been terrified of the sound of the kitchen fan over the stove. We have a really loud fan. It completely freaked him out. Before the fun match, he was a bit wary of it, flicking his ears back occasionally, but he didn't mind being in the kitchen and eating his supper there. But after the fun match, he wouldn't even step anywhere near the kitchen. He'd lie on the couch in the living room at the front of the house, looking stressed the whole time. Thank God I've experienced stress with Mika or else I probably would have tried to lure him into the kitchen, which would have put a ton of pressure on him and wouldn't have accomplished anything at all!

He would take food while lying on the couch while the fan was on. So I just fed him a treat and left. Then I'd come back to feed him again, and then left again. I did this again and again for a few days, every time the kitchen fan was on.

A few days later, after I gave him a treat, he dared to jump off the couch as I started to leave. Jackpot! I fed him a whole handful of treats. That was a huge step for him. Soon he was following me down the hallway. He'd stop about halfway down the hallway.

Every day he'd improve. He'd walk a couple little steps further than the day before. Finally, at the beginning of January, he could walk into the family room, next to the kitchen. I allowed him to leave the room to escape into the hallway after I fed him a treat. I've learned from Mika that the biggest thing about counterconditioning stressed dogs is letting the dog make all of the decisions. Wall-e bravely walked into the family room on his own, unprompted. I didn't lure him forward at all with a treat. I fed him wherever he stood, and then let him leave. He would lie down in the hallway each time he left (he tends to lie down in situations where he's stressed).

Soon after, he actually walked far enough that his toes touched the kitchen floor. Woohoo! Jackpot time! The same evening, his front paws made contact with the kitchen floor, and then the next day, his whole body was in the kitchen. Awesome job, Wall-e! I rewarded him in the family room when he stepped into the kitchen because of how close he was to the fan (about 15 feet), so he wouldn't have to stay that close for an extended period of time.

Gradually, over the next one or two weeks, he grew more and more comfortable and offered to go closer and closer to the fan. Soon I could give him his supper in the kitchen (which he found too stressful before because it meant he had to stay in the kitchen for a longer period of time).

Then one evening, almost two weeks ago, he must have been feeling especially brave. I was at the kitchen table, and he looked at me and walked closer to the fan, about 7 or 8 feet away. He had a very relaxed expression, ears pricked and jaw relaxed in a little smile, so I rewarded him where he was and went back to the kitchen table. He started to follow me and then went back where he was. He did that a few more times. And then (listen up, here's the big part), he actually walked right over to the stove, where the fan is, and stood there with a cheerful expression, looking at me expectantly for his reward! MAJOR JACKPOT!! GOOD BOY Wall-e, GOOD BOY!!! I gave him so many treats that it could have been his two meals for the day and then some.

So that's Wall-e's accomplishment of the year. No, really, I'm super proud of that dog for completely overcoming his worry of the kitchen fan. He went from escaping to the living room when it turned on to being able to stand right under it happily and relaxed. Worried Wall-e is such a brave boy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter conditioning...playtime!

We don't go for really long hikes in the winter because it's too cold, so right now Mika and Wall-e's main forms of conditioning are playing and fetching. Or a combination of the two, as you can see in these photos! (Well, Mika was doing the fetching and Wall-e was doing the playing.) Thanks to my mom for taking all the photos.

Mika always wanted to go through the tire. Poor dog is deprived of agility!

"MOVE, ball, MOVE!"

Wall-e the Ice-Eater

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wall-e's startline stay

I worked on the Control Unleashed method of teaching (and maintaining) startline stays with Wall-e this morning. Control Unleashed is AWESOME, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone with a reactive dog, or even a puppy because a lot of the exercises are great for foundation training.

I used (and still use) very similar exercises to many of the CU exercises, to bring Mika's reactivity to other dogs down a notch, especially the concept of looking at other dogs to be rewarded. That was a huge part of her reactivity training. She used to be very reactive to other dogs, but now I can manage it.

So anyway, back to today. I worked on Wall-e's stays. He's been breaking his stays occasionally. Not very often, but enough. I don't want it to turn into a problem, so he's had a few stay-training sessions in the past couple weeks. He sits in front of a jump, and I reward, giving him his stay cue as I feed him. I walk ahead beside the jump, lift my arm and tense my body, and go back to reward when he stays. In the first two sessions he broke his stay a few times, but this morning he never broke in the 4 reps that we did! He's learned that when I raise my arm, it doesn't always mean that I'm about to release him.

The point of the exercise is to disconnect the jump from the stay. Dogs break because they're anticipating the obstacle in front of them, but if they don't know which reward they'll be getting (either food/toy or the jump), they'll stay because they don't know what to anticipate.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nice weaves

Trained weaves (6 poles) this morning with both dogs. I just practiced straight-on entries with Mika. Yeah, I tend to train things that are easy for Mika and "forget" about training the challenging stuff. We do need to work on tougher entries. But she had fun with the straight entries!!

I practiced some 90 degree on-side entries with Wall-e from a distance of 20 feet, which he got really nicely, never making a mistake! Looks like I won't have to do much more entry training with Wall-e. we just need to work on contacts.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

See you next Christmas, Santa

Time to pack up the Christmas stuff, including Santa.

Mika and Wall-e wanted to help, of course!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 and 2010

Happy New Year everyone! I really can't believe that it's 2010 already. Seriously, 2009 seemed to go by way faster than any other year!

2009 was a very memorable year for Mika and me! We competed at our first AAC Regionals in May, getting 6th place overall, as well as a 3rd place in Standard, a 6th place in Gamblers, and a 7th place in Jumpers...and qualifying for Nationals with 422.42 points. I was completely in shock!! Then we competed at our first Nationals in August, which was awesome. And to finish off the year, in October we performed at our first SuperDogs show as apprentices, which was a HUGE deal for Mika because just a couple years ago, she was very reactive to other dogs. I also can't forget our first trial of the year, in March, where Mika ran fast without any reservations! She kept up that speed throughout the year and even got faster. I couldn't ask for more. I'm so proud of my little dog who has come farther than I've ever imagined, and I will never forget this year.

In 2009, Baby dog Wall-e got to start his agility training. He went to his first fun match in June at 13 months, and then ran at three more throughout the year. The little man got to work sheep for the first time at his herding instinct test in September. We trained the Silvia Trkman method of running contacts for 7 months, but when I realized that he wasn't generalizing the method, I experimented with almost every running contact method out there!

In 2010, I'll continue to work on Mika's ATChC title, which we probably won't get this year, but that's okay! We'll also definitely try Snooker this year, since she now has tons of confidence in the ring. I would have loved to go to Regionals and Nationals again, but they're a bit too far for us this year, so we'll most likely be going in 2011. I hope to increase Mika's muscle mass, and I will begin supplementing with Sashas Blend. But above all, I want to keep her amazing attitude and drive for agility, tricks, and anything else we do together.

I will complete Wall-e's dog walk and A-frame training, with a 2o2o for the DW and hopefully a running AF. 2010 will be Wall-e's trialing debuting year -- He'll begin trialing in September at 27 months old. I'll start him in Jumpers only, and then add Standard and Gamblers at the next trials. Throughout the year, I'll be preparing Wall-e for the 2011 AAC Regionals. And I'll work on increasing his speed and drive, so that he can run in "car-chasing mode!" :)

2009 was an AMAZING year. Let's hope that 2010 will be a great year as well. For all of us! :)