It has been a slow news week here in Nashville. The weather has been iffy, but we’ve snuck some runs in while we could, and some yard play in when we couldn’t.
Devi and I have been working on our precision heeling, and are slowly making progress. She’s gotten pretty reliable on her pivot disc, but as soon as I remove it, she reverts back to gluing her head to my thigh. I don’t see a ton of point in taking her to shows when I know we’re going to lose 5 points automatically in heeling without making any “mistakes”. We will probably spend the next few months working on this with the goal of re-entering competitions in the winter months.
In other news, poor Devi got attacked by a loose dog this past week. She was on a walk (leashed) with Jake and a neighbor’s large dog escaped its yard, ran over, and jumped Devi. Jake was able to head the dog off when it came back for round 2, and no harm was done to Devi. In all honesty, she didn’t seem concerned about it at all, but Jake was livid (and so was I when he got home and told me about it!). Here’s to a dog with a solid temperament!
This past week was another hectic one! On Tuesday morning, Devi and I went for a run in the park, and ran straight into a dog. Limping around, at 5am, in the fog. No owner. We jogged home and I left Devi, and drove back down to the park hoping that someone else had picked the dog up. No luck. He was super friendly, had no problem hopping in the car with me, and so I brought him home. He was older, and obese, and had a collar but no tag. I took him to the vet when they opened – no microchip. I tried to get him an appointment at the humane society, but it turns out, they don’t accept dogs over the age of 8. He’s pretty close to 8 if he’s not there already. His leg was clearly causing him pain, so I took him to the vet, and they turned him over to metro animal control. They have a vet on staff and by all accounts, they are doing a really good job of caring for dogs. I’ve been keeping an eye on him via their website, and he looks much better. Still no sign of his people though… (and really, who believes that an injured dog just happened to wander out into the middle of a park at 5AM?). Anyway, I hope some kind soul adopts him. Jake would murder me if I took him 😉
The other big news for the week is regarding horses! Merlé and I went to our first show together. We had 2 rides on Saturday and one on Sunday. The first ride on Saturday was a total disaster. Merlé’s last competitions (prior to me taking the reins) were in FEI (international level) dressage. In those tests, you enter the arena at a canter. So, what does she want to do with me?, enter the arena at a canter. Too bad that in my test, you are *supposed* to enter at a trot. So, we cantered the first part of the trot work, and then it became clear that she was not going to trot, so I just withdrew from the test. The second test was only an hour later, but she managed to trot in, and we ended up scoring a 66% for first place. On Sunday we repeated the test that we flubbed the day before, and while it wasn’t perfect (and she still tried to tell me we should be cantering), we got through it. We ended up with a 63% and another first place.
Poor Devi wants to know when the blog posts are going to be about HER again?! 🙂
It was a busy work week for me, and poor Devi was feeling a bit neglected. I worked from home on Friday, which she enjoyed, but she didn’t get to accompany me anywhere this weekend. It’s gotten too hot for her to come to the barn unless I know that the owner’s dog will be away, so poor Devi had to stay home with Jake while I went to ride. Training wise, we are still working on our precision heeling. She’s starting to get it, but she needs pretty constant reminders to keep her head off my leg. I’m sure it will come, with time. We’ve also started to work on Denise’s engagement class, which so far has been interesting. Devi is pretty engaged at home, so we’re keeping up with the class work just fine, but I will be interested to see how she does when we practice in more difficult environments.
I am happy to report that we made our return to obedience class this past week. The instructor was polite and even complimentary of our performance, so that was a nice change. There are only 2 weeks left in class, and I won’t be sad when this session is over. In other training news, Devi and I are working through Denise Fenzi’s precision heeling course again. Devi’s heeling is very enthusiastic, but she’s gotten in the habit of gluing her head to my left thigh, so I am trying to fix that. We’re making progress. We are also taking Denise’s class on engagement, which starts June 1st. I’m hoping to learn a few games for us to play when Devi is in a show so that I can better judge her mental readiness for work.
This weekend Devi got a long overdue haircut; now she’s nearly naked! We’re on day #4 of 80+ degrees so I hope that she will be more comfortable when we go running. I haven’t run with her in a couple of weeks, first because she hurt her paw, and then because it has been so hot and humid. I’m looking forward to having my running buddy back!
I’ve also started to work though our old Precision Heeling coursework – I have rewarded too many times with my right hand and created a wrap. So, back to the basics we go! I have also decided I will return to our in person obedience class, if for no reason other than to not let the instructor ruin it for me. I was thinking about posting about the incident on the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy FB group. It’s usually a safe place to get a “there, there” and commiserate with likeminded people. Well, I am sure glad I didn’t do it, because as I was scrolling through my FB news feed this morning, I saw that the instructor herself is a member of that FB group. What she is doing there I do not know, since clearly the way FDSA trains is not the way she trains, but the fact remains, she’s a member. Will keep that in mind going forward… 😉
The honeymoon phase is over for me and the “new” instructor in our obedience class. Last night (2nd class) was about attention; how do you get it, how do you keep it, and how do you let the dog know that it is his/her responsibility to “watch” you until you say otherwise. According to our instructor, if the dog looks away, you should “pop” him or her with the leash so that s/he will think a “gremlin bit” him/her, and that the only time the gremlin doesn’t bite is when the dog is looking at the handler. I don’t “pop” my dog, ever. Unfortunately for me, Devi and I had to be the first in the class to heel past the instructor as she shoved a giant stuffed lion in the dog’s face as a distraction. Devi, of course, looked at it. I did nothing, just waited for her attention to return to me. The instructor told me I wasn’t doing it right, and I explained that there was a disconnect between where my dog is (there’s a giant stuffed lion in my face, must look!) and where you want her to be (ignore all distractions), and that I wasn’t comfortable bridging that with corrections. I thought I did a good job of summarizing my issue while not saying anything negative about the instructor or her methods.
Apparently, the instructor did not agree. She told me, and I quote, “you will never succeed in this sport if you don’t use physical corrections.” She then stopped the entire class, pointed at me, and said “She wants to use positive methods only. She is going to NQ at every trial she enters.” The instructor then turned back to me and said “Please continue to enter our trials. We want to take your money.” I said nothing, but as you might imagine, I was fuming! How DARE she! I still haven’t decided whether I want to go back or not. I think she does have some good advice on handling, which is why I didn’t just leave last night, but is it worth being held up to everyone as an example of what not to do?
Jake was in Chicago this weekend so Devi and I were left to our own devices. Poor Devi has been a bit under the weather; she got a blister on her paw from running on hard ground, and when the blister popped, she was in quite a bit of pain each time she put weight on her foot. A trip to the vet taught us that there’s nothing we could do except wait, but I didn’t think she’d be able to stand for 4 hours while she was groomed, so I cancelled her appointment. Naturally, she was nearly normal by the time the appointment rolled around, but I wasn’t able to rebook until 2 weeks from now. She’s going to be a very shaggy girl by then!
In other news, our in person obedience class started last week. I really, really, like the instructor. This lady is new (to me) but has been with the club a long time. In just one session she helped me figure out the root cause of Devi’s head sticking to my leg while we heel, and gave me a couple of really helpful tips on other things. Not much else new with us – just enjoying some long-awaited sunshine!
As Jake has been reminding me, it has been ages since I have posted! How is he to know what we’re up to without a blog post? 😉 We have had a pretty busy spring, thus far. With the arrival of warmer weather, the jasmine in the park has bloomed. Early morning runs with the smell of jasmine are some of my favorites, and Devi and I have been enjoying those. It hasn’t been too hot yet, but Devi is scheduled to get her summer shavedown this weekend. It has been months since she’s been groomed, and while I did give her a haircut a month or so ago, it was a bit sloppy. It’ll be nice for her to lose the homeless Bouv look!
In other news, Devi and I resume our in-person obedience classes this week. We’re taking a “novice” class again because it’s the only one that works in my schedule, but I’m hoping to train some of the open exercises on my own. If we’re lucky, we’ll earn our CDX title this fall. What we will do after that depends largely on how my riding is going, but I am sure we’ll continue to train in something. Perhaps we’ll try tracking? At the very least we will enjoy one another’s company and go for runs 🙂 In the meantime, I will try to be better about updating the blog.
We’ve had a crazy last month or so, which explains why it’s been so long since I have posted. I was traveling for work, then got really busy cleaning up the mess that inevitably occurs anytime I’m away. The most exciting news is that Devi turned 5 on March 27th! We celebrated by taking a fun romp through the woods. I’ve discovered a trail that is mostly deserted, is pretty straight and wooded heavily on both sides; even though dogs are supposed to be on leash, I feel OK about letting her off. She has a grand time running around, sniffing things, and generally just being a dog.
In other news, I passed the half of the board exam I took back in February, so now I just have to pass the 2nd half. I am debating whether I should take it in early August or wait until next February. The only other excitement has been the arrival of spring! The trees in the area are blooming, the crawdads are out, we’ve had to call the lawn guy to come and mow, and Devi got her spring haircut. Goodbye to winter 🙂