Saturday, December 23, 2006

Freeze Frame

My new computer has a built in webcam and I was taking some videos of Abby and I playing frisbee. Then I started playing around with freezing the frames.
I'm planning on making another music video with some of the new video clips...except that SOME people think that the fact that I have the trick movies and the music video of Abby up here is extremely nerdy. But honestly, I am writing a blog for my dog. You really can't get nerdier than this, so I think that whatever I do from here on in, I'm pretty safe.
Oh and how cool would those pics be if I had a camera that took decent action shots (**fingers crossed for new camera**).


My dog is such a brat! We've been back at my parents' house since Tuesday, which is the official residence of "The Fuzz" (aka Peppy and Darla). A couple of minutes ago Darla was sharpening her claws on her scratching post, and Abby started to lunge at her. I told her "no", which stopped her and also stopped Darla. Then a few minutes later Peppy came along to scratch the post and Abby looked at him, looked at me, thought about it for a second, then slapped me in the face! It was like she was thinking, "if you won't let me go after him, you're gonna get it!". To further demonstrate her rudeness, Abby is tossing her gross slimy ball onto my keyboard this very moment. And, when I ignore her, she backs up and lies down forcefully with a loud grunt, then stares at me like I'm stupid.
I think Abby has been only dog for far too long now. She's getting spoiled by the one-on-one attention! That will be solved in the next two weeks though. I'm leaving the day after tomorrow for a two week vacation. Abby is going to stay with her boyfriend Tycho for the first week (and his big brother Zeus, who Abby respects due to fear for her life), and with my roommate for the second week. During the second week my roommate might also acquire another foster dog. So all together, Abby should get over her only-dog syndrome in the next few weeks! This will be the longest I've ever left her, but I'm so glad that I have friends who are willing (erm...can be coerced) into taking Crazy off my hands.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Abby and Darla

Friday, December 15, 2006

Darla demonstrates her impressive IQ

My parents are always trying to convince me that our newest cat, Darla, is smarter than she looks. They say that just because her eyes are slightly crossed and she falls off the bookshelf sometimes doesn't mean she has any less brain power than Abby.

Darla: Oh my gosh! The bag is moving! What's going on?
Peppy: Ha! Pesky creature. She'll never find me out.

Tonight I was talking with my mom, and apparently they have no electricity because of the windstorm last night. All of a sudden my mom yells to my dad:

"Quick! Get Darla! She's waving her tail back and forth over the candle! Hurry!!"

My dad rushed over and grabbed Darla, and then I heard him say,

"I think it's too late, her fur is all singed off in one spot"

Ha! Would my dog ever wave a body part over a candle? I don't think so.
The only thing Abby does to make me wonder about her smarts is pulling the door closed really hard when she wants to go out. Oh, and tonight she kicked a bucket (that was on the lawn) accidentally after she pooped, and scared herself so much that she came racing inside. Other than that, she's brilliant. Mostly.

"Dig your claws into my back!" "Click!"

I just taught Abby the most useless (and painful, for me) trick: She now knows how to jump up on my back when I bend over, and lie down with her head next to my head, over my shoulder. I definitely didn't think it through, because I now have scratches all over my back - oww! I'd like to teach her to sit on my feet when I'm on my back with my legs up in the air (I've been watching too many disc dog videos). I think I need some stronger leg muscles first for that one.

We had a funny moment with the "jump on my back" trick when she turned around to jump off, and started to slide accidentally...and took my pants down with her. I'm glad we were practicing alone in my room.

I'm also teaching her to put her toys in a box. That one still needs some work (I started teaching it with a really tiny box, and I should start with a big box instead).

Also on the list to teach is "where's your nose?". I'm having a lot of trouble with that one, since she doesn't care when I put a little piece of tape on her nose. "Let me sleep in past 8:00" would be another good trick, but that one doesn't seem to be going too well either ;)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hindsight is 20/20

A woman at the field this morning was encouraging her 1 yr old Duck Toller to chase Abby while Abby was chasing the frisbee. I don't really care, and it's good practice for Abby to just focus on her toy and ignore the dog...but, for the sake of the other dog's training I wanted to ask the woman, "Do you realize how many potential problems you're causing??". Before Abby would play fetch with me I thought it was 'cute' that she'd chase other dogs instead of her own toy. If I could go back, there would be a LOT of training to 'leave it' and play with me instead of learning how fun it is to chase other dogs.

It seems like I'm making chasing other dogs sound like Abby's major issue, but it really isn't. It's just the issue that I deal with the most right now. Abby has snapped at 2 of my roommates since September - first when one was rolling around on the floor laughing, and then at the other when she bent down over Abby and put her face right up to Abby's. I've been dealing with those by management mostly, since I really don't know what else to do. I don't let strangers pet Abby, and I keep a constant eye on her around the house. She gets put in a 'stay' if people are running/jumping, and my roommates have been asked to please not put their faces in Abby's face. I've been doing some training with leaning over her, petting her head, putting my face right up to hers and praising/treating for calm behaviour. Not sure how well that translates to anyone but me, though, since she has always been fine with anything I do to her. She is very much a one person dog.

The guarding me issue is also a big one. She has quite a range of tactics to try and get people out of my room. She'll jump on them, push them with her body, slap their faces if they're sitting down, lick their faces frantically (not in a nice way), jump on them from the back as they come into the room (if she doesn't notice right away). When I have a bigger room next term I plan to keep treats by the door, then have her go to her bed when people come in and they can throw some treats to her for staying. Right now my room is tiny and an awkward shape (narrowest part is at the door, and that's where her bed is - my desk is at the other end of the room - so perfect guarding spot from her point of view). I've basically given up on trying to change her reaction to people coming into my room this term, and have resorted to making her stay in one spot. I've been a lot firmer with her when I am sitting next to someone, or leaning towards them. She has to stay where she was instead of leaping up and trying to butt in between us.

On a better note, Abby is such a smart girl! I set up an agility course in the living room tonight - made a tunnel under the coffee tables, had a board for targets, some broom jumps in the hall and her bed at the end of the hall. She had so much fun and I was able to call her off obstacles even in that tiny space. Right now we're mostly practicing going 'left' and 'right' over jumps, and perfecting her targets (she seems to think targets are only for home practice, and not for class or trials...)

We're going to try herding in January, so I get to find out how Abby is with sheep! Should be exciting. And I'd like to try lure coursing in the spring, and also get more into Rally-O. Nuttymutt can do it all (with the possible exception of herding - I'll have to see if any sheep get eaten)!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Catching Yawns

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silly Puppy

Chasing Dogs

Had a very frustrating morning at the park. I am now resolved to bring the long line every time we go play fetch. Abby was in full chase mode the whole time, and was especially focused on one dog who isn't usually there in the morning, who was waiting for another dog to get up and play. Abby can always tell when a dog is waiting for something really exciting, and those are the ones that get her going. Today it took quite a bit of effort to call her away from the dog. First I tried 'putting pressure' on her by walking towards her and telling her "enough", but she started her new behaviour (as of 2 weeks ago or so) of racing in circles just outside of me and the dog she is fixated on. When she does that she looks exactly like border collies starting out at herding, with the handler standing with the sheep inside the circle that the dog is making. But...this wasn't sheep, and I was very VERY frustrated that I couldn't get her to stop (she wouldn't down, sit..anything). So I walked away and called her (had to jump around, act all excited, and use all the "something exciting is about to happen words" like "ready?? get your Frisbee!!"), then let her tug and grab a few close, fast throws of the Frisbee as a reward.

I'm just so pessimistic about the long line really making a difference. Right now me saying "NO leave it" obviously has no effect on her when she's set on chasing. I almost always get the 'no' in early enough, and sometimes it does deter her. If the other dog is really excited, though, it's like she doesn't even hear me. So I'm worried that the long line will only work when it's on her, and she'll just keep chasing dogs when I don't attach her to it. She gets so out of her mind frantic that it's hard to see anything working. I guess I should start out by being consistent and using the long line every time so that she never gets to chase anymore.

I guess I should be thankful that she is focused on her ball/Frisbee 90% of the time, otherwise I wouldn't even be able to let her run at all. This chasing really does have to stop, though. Today it had escalated to her running in and nipping at the dog's shoulders. The more I tried to get her to stop, the more frantic she got. That should be telling me that what I'm doing is not working. Maybe I'll also bring the whistle that she responds really well to. I talk to her way too much, so I'm sure my voice becomes background noise. Maybe the whistle will snap her out of it? I don't want to 'ruin' the whistle though by having her not respond to it at the park...

Hopefully my roommate's next foster dog will be a fetch maniac and I'll be able to work on desensitization a lot more easily.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


How's this for scary?

I found this picture on a flyball team site. The resemblance is a little scary actually. The fact
that the dog is a Border/Jack is even scarier.

Ok, so I know that no matter what her (lack of) breed is, she's still the same dog...but for the love of God, not a Border/Jack!

And as if this could get any scarier, this is Abby's brother (the blurry photo), and the above Border/Jack's brother:

One week down, one more to go

Another night of studying...sigh.
Can we please play now?
Happy with a bully stick (it lasted for the crucial crunch time before 3 exams)
In her self imposed torture position, under my desk
Pouting under the bed

It's been one week of exams and I'm happy to report that Abby knows no new tricks! She does now have a music video though...

Abby's music video

She has been one bored puppy this week, and has taken to making pitiful whining noises while staring at me from behind my doorway curtain. The only thing that seems to stop her is making her leave the room whenever she starts whining (it got un-cute reallly fast, about 2 hours into studying for microbi). We've been going to the field every morning for at least 45 minutes of frisbee, so that gets her tired enough to sleep for the next couple of hours. We have a short lunchtime play session, and then a half hour evening walk and some training games. She seems very confused as to why I'm home all the time. All morning she expects me to leave for class, and jumps up and runs into her crate at every one of the "signs" - if I close my laptop, brush my teeth, get dressed...It's hard to convince her that I'm not leaving.

It's funny that she still runs into her crate when she knows I'm leaving, since she never gets locked in there anymore. My roommates say that she comes out a couple of minutes after I leave, but as I'm leaving, she is always curled up all the way at the back. She won't come out, doesn't want me to touch her. She is most definitely pouting. When I'm gone she sleeps on my bed and will only come out of my room if coaxed. Such a mama's girl! She won't even play with anyone if I'm not home, especially now that Tryp is gone. He was able to get her to play even when I wasn't home.

Abby's doing pretty well with strangers/dogs while on leash right now, but a lot of that is that I have much better management. She has started looking at me automatically when we see people. I still have to convince her to look at me when there are other dogs. She hasn't lunged at anyone since moving here in September. There was one incident on the field where a man started racing around suddenly to try and get his dog to play, and Abby noticed before I did. She ran after him and jumped on him.

Here's where we are right now with the common triggers/issues:
-people walking past us: she'll automatically look at me most of the time; looks really nervous when it's dark out and people come towards us
-dogs while on leash: we do a detour of at least 15 ft and I can get her to look at me; dogs barking at her will get a reaction from her 50% of the time
-dogs playing fetch: she can be called off the less hyper/enthusiastic ones, but still having a lot of trouble if the dog plays ball Abby-style (ie. super hyped up and excited)
-skateboards: haven't been around one in awhile, but last time we were too close and she screamed and spun
-squirrels: no hope whatsoever of getting her to look at me if they're close, but she will sit while staring at the squirrel

On a side note, Abby is quite good with puppies (off leash only, on leash with other dogs has been a disaster almost every time). There are three yellow lab puppies that go to the field and she is very tolerant of them (much more tolerant than I'd expect her to be). An adorable 10 week old border collie puppy visited yesterday, and she was very gentle with him (except when she smacked him on the head for jumping on me, then play bowed to him...weirdo).
She is much less tolerant with 'teenage' dogs, around 5-9 months. She tells them off constantly. She has been good with other dogs on the field lately, as long as we only go when there aren't big groups of dogs (we went when there was a big group during the snow, which was a mistake. One dog went for Abby after Abby was bossy, and Abby in turn went for every dog within reach, one at a time).

One last thing: She will finally play tug with her leash (funny that I tried so hard to teach her when I tried for years to un-teach Sam). She'll only do it on the 'tug' command though, and it's handy for when I want to play with her but didn't bring a toy. We went to a field tonight and I ran around with her and practiced having her not jump on me (a lot of 'off's, stopping, turning into her...and a couple of accidental leg lifts as she was starting to jump). We alternated running with leash tugging, which she really enjoys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Trick Videos

Here are some videos of the tricks Abby learned today and during midterms:

Get me a drink

Get your collar and leash

Open/close the door

The Exams Begin

Well, it's day one of the exam period and Abby can now find and bring me her collar and leash. By the end of these three weeks I'll either have a genius dog, or a very bored dog...and my guess is that the number of new tricks that Abby learns will be inversely proportional to how well I do on my exams. During midterms she learned to open the back door to let herself in and close it behind her, and also to get me a drink out of the mini-fridge. Let's just say that midterms didn't go so well :D