Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Agility update

Katie, her Daddy and I went to our second beginning agility class tonight.  Katie has been wound up like a top all day and I didn’t have high expectations for class.  I wasn’t wrong, at least at first.  They started out with the dogwalk and she was having none of that.  There were only three of in the class at first, and three instructors, so one of them took us aside and wanted to work with her on the wobble board.

This is when I had a memory flash of Dianna’s blog where she said she should have listened to herself rather than let an instructor tell her what to make Miley do on the table.  I know that the wobble board was what got Katie totally freaked out last week.  So when the instructor tonight suggested we use it to get Katie desensitized to the dogwalk I said NO.  I told her it had caused Katie to shut down last week.  So the very nice instructor went and got a blue board that sat flat on the floor and a lower table, and I worked with Katie to first touch and then get on those.  It took awhile and a lot of chicken, but eventually she would sit on the blue board, then on the low table.  By the end of the class she’d jump on the taller table.

She never did walk the dogwalk, but she’ll put her front feet on the yellow part.  And she’ll do the same for the A-frame.   She just won’t put her back feet on anything!   The teeter?  Well, she’ll quickly put ONE paw on it and then take it right back off then look to me for a treat.  She’s so funny!  I guess she’s right, she did touch it! LOL!

They also introduced a longer tunnel, the tire and the chute.  She loves tunnel and jumps and only balked at the tire a few times.  I think that was more me than her, she wasn’t always sure where she was supposed to jump with it.  I was worried that she wouldn’t do the chute, but she was on a roll running through stuff, so even when they dropped the chute on her she ran through.  I don’t think she’s ready to just charge through it without someone holding it open yet, but she sure didn’t show any fear.

In fact, I think she had a blast today.  We made sure to make it all fun and not force her to do anything.  We’re going to be working on our board in the driveway.  This past week I got her to walk it a couple times, mostly though she’d rather avoid it.  I did use Marie’s suggestion with the board that if she touched it I threw the treat away from the board to alleviate stress.  She doesn’t seem as afraid of it as she used to be.   If I can get her to run it regularly this week I’ll raise it up a tiny bit see how that goes.

Tomorrow is our rally class.  I used obedience/rally stuff tonight to warm Katie up and she was spot on.  Maybe tomorrow will be a great class too!  After that husband and I are going to the North American Auto Show.  We haven’t been in years.  Should be fun.

Katie 2231


Katie says it's a whole new world

We’re still enforcing the “OFF!” for the furniture, including the bed.  It’s very hard for us, harder for me than for my husband.  Sometimes we’re sitting on the sofa doing something and don’t even NOTICE when she jumps up and sits down next to us.  Of course the sooner we say “OFF!” the better, but once in awhile one of us notices the other person sitting on the sofa or asleep in bed with Katie curled right up against the totally unconscious person.  I have to say she’s not stupid!  She’ll try and if she gets an inch she figures she’s in like flyn.  NOT!  Mostly though she’s trying really hard to be good, though you can see she really wants to be next to us.

And to keep her busy…we’re in two classes this training session!  Last Thursday husband and I took her back to the rally class.  That’s 30 minutes of obedience and 30 minutes doing rally.  Katie kind of enjoys this because she understands what’s expected of her.  Though she HATES being put in a crate so that I can walk the rally course prior to us trying to execute it.  She backs right up if she figures out we’re heading over to the crates.  Here’s a picture of little Katie in a huge crate next to a huge dog in a middle sized crate.  The big dog next to her LOVES shelties, but Katie isn’t so sure she wants to initiate a friendship!

Katie 2237

Yesterday Katie, husband and I went to a beginning agility class.  There were only 6 dogs in this class so that was nice.  Katie loves to jump and run through the tunnel.  But she continued her fear of the dogwalk.  Sometimes I could get her to jump back on and walk down the other side, but as the class continued and we tried again she balked and refused to do anything whatsoever with the dog walk.   As for the teeter?  No way no how.   By the time we got to the teeter she wouldn’t go anywhere near it.  I’m sure it looked a lot like a dogwalk.  The other two dogs in my group (a poodle and a miniature aussie) of course had no trouble with anything.

This morning Katie and I went back to our rally class.  The agility stuff was still set up in a ring, and as we were early to rally we went over there so she could sniff it.  My rally instructor came out of the bathroom and stopped by to see what we were doing.  I told her about the dogwalk fear and she said let’s try!  She allowed me to put Katie on the top of the dog walk and as she spotted one side, I walked the other so Katie couldn’t jump off.  Katie walked down the ramp just fine.  But she was still scared to walk onto it herself.  Wednesday night the agility instructor wouldn’t let me pick up Katie and put her on anything.  Ah well.  We’ll see how it all works again next Wednesday night.  Husband dug out the plank I was using last summer and says he’ll put it up on a couple of concrete blocks so Katie and I can practice walking just slightly above ground on a board.  Maybe that will help!

Meanwhile, I took a picture today of Katie on the table.  She wouldn’t stay on it Wednesday night (she’s not allowed on furniture at home you know!) but she stayed on it today for me.  Such a girl.  And a picture of her sitting next to the dreaded dogwalk.  She looks happy, but I think it’s an act!

Katie 2233

Katie 2229Today in rally she was about perfect.  I got a shot of her in the line of other dogs doing her sits/downs.  She never moved, even though she was right at the end next to a fabric wall behind which were three owners who were practicing open sits/downs and had “left the room.”  They were talking quite loudly and she kept looking over that way but she never broke.  Even when one of them sneezed!!  And then someone knocked over a CHAIR for heavens sake!  She flinched but didn’t move.  I’m very proud of her for that.

Katie 2234

Katie 2236

We’re also working on “Paw” where I ask for her left hand.  She’s obviously a right handed dog as she wants to offer “Shake.”  But sometimes she will raise her left paw fractionally and she almost always shifts her weight over to her right foot when I ask for PAW!  So that’s some progress.

Sweet girl.

Aug 22 07


PS: a little bit of this and a little bit of that

For those of you interested, here is a link to an Ann Arbor review of the concert I went to.  If you scroll down to the bottom you can see Dr. Nel play the piece he played for the encore.  The one that made me cry.

And for those dog lovers out there, Katie and I were in obedience class tonight.  She was “on” right from the start, though she threw up right at the beginning of the heeling.  Don’t know what that was about, she was fine the rest of the class.  During the long 3 minute sits and longer downs I was standing away from her, arms folded, watching her watch other dogs get up and I thought – “Sometimes I just love you so much Katie-girl!”  She was SO GOOD!

Katie 2076


So it's Tuesday. I think.

Remember when I said that having a random work schedule made it difficult to figure out what day it was?  That the weekends had no meaning and I was always checking the calendar to figure out where I was supposed to be and when?  Well, let me tell you,  being unemployed is even more confusing.  With nothing at all scheduled I have no place to mark time.  So I’m just going to have to fill up the space, organize some organization into my days, get myself going.  Or not.  It’s taken a couple of weeks, but I’m beginning to like this feeling of not knowing what day it is – and not caring anyway!

Katie and I do have the Monday drop in competition obedience class…but I don’t have to go every week.  And last week I did start her in a Rally class on  Thursday mornings.  So I guess there is some semblance of organization and purpose in my life.  Or in hers anyway.  We went to Obedience last night.  Twenty-four dogs (at least) there.  Way too big, we had to do things in groups and wait while other groups were working.

Katie and got there an hour early so that she could acclimate to the building.  We sniffed all around the edges of all three rings.  Looked at the agility equipment piled in the corner of the building, caught our reflections in the mirrored wall…sniffed all the dog crates.  And suddenly as I was wandering with her I realized she was heeling and looking at me expectantly!  All by herself!  And we were only 10 minutes into our hour!  What a girl!  So we did some practicing of our own in the empty rings.  Heeling, staying, coming, more heeling.  She was spot-on.  Of course after all that I still had 30 more minutes to fill before class began.

We met three other shelties, and I got to have a long talk with the owner of one of them, a small breeder, about sheltie attitude and shyness and what they (the breeders) were doing about trying to be careful not to breed shyness into the dogs.  Mostly though I waited my turn to get a little ring time.  Katie is not a patient dog, and was barking when she had to hang around too long.  Another sign she was acclimated and feeling her oats, the fact she’d bark at instructors and other dogs.

This week she waited when she was supposed to and didn’t follow me out as we were doing recalls.  And she was perfect on her long sit.  We were doing long sits and downs near the end of the class and a large group of people were gathering (maybe for another class) in the waiting area.  They got louder and louder until it was difficult to hear our instructor.  There were lots of dogs waiting as well, and Katie, sitting near the edge of the ring had her back to all this activity.  She was doing a pretty good job of ignoring it all when suddenly two big dogs, waiting with their owners right in back of her, got into it.  They growled and barked at each other in anger, and Katie went straight up into the air then began running toward me on the other side of the ring.  I was already moving fast toward her and we met in the middle.  I led her back to her spot, put her back into a down while the dogs on either side of Katie were struggling with their owners, refusing to go back down.  Katie just sat and watched each of them, her ears flat.  One of the instructors came up behind me and said “Good recovery.  It’s OK to go back to her tell her she’s a good girl and come back out.  They all need a little reassurance sometimes.”  So I did.

That was the end of our class and Katie was glad to leave.  I think she won’t need as long to get into the training mode now, and we won’t have to be there so early.  She really was ready to go home about the time the class began!  And it’s just way too big.  So when our 8 visits are over we probably won’t go back.  The Rally class is much smaller, the building is more quiet, and she gets 30 minutes of obedience which is just about right for her.  So we’ll enjoy that more I think.

On the other hand, when we got home she still wanted to play and brought out some of her favorite toys to entice me.  Silly dog, she should have been worn out.  I know I was!  But she’s still ready to go Go GO!

Katie 1687


Planning ahead creates focus for the sheltie

Katie 1811Tonight was another Monday night class in the big building near the noisy airport with all the other big dogs.  We got there an hour early and I let her sniff all the scary corners of all the rings and watch all the other dogs arrive.  About 10 minutes before class she accepted a treat from me without spitting it out.  So I knew she’d focus on me because now she was interested in the chicken!

I lost count of how many dogs were in the class, I think 16 or so, lots of shepherds, a roti, one other sheltie, a few irish setters, lots of goldens…and an afghan puppy which was the cutest gangly thing!  During the long sit and down the afghan kept getting the young shepherd next to Katie to move.  Katie watched the two of them closely but didn’t break either her sit or her down!  GOOD DOG KATIE!

We spent a lot of time doing heeling tonight, which is exactly what Katie and I need to do.  She was focused about 50% of the time, which is about 49% more of the time than in recent weeks, so I was pleased.  We were practicing corners; 90 degree and about turns.  We got advice on footwork that really made a difference for me.  Especially since Katie is a dog that watches feet for direction.

But on her recalls..well, again I had trouble.  This time every time I walked away she followed.  She NEVER does this!  I think she is still unsure in the big noisy building and wants to stick with me.  I am going to have to take her to some new big places to get her used to sitting and waiting.  I never got to call her because she was always already there!    This is such an odd thing to have issues with, because it’s always been her strongest skill.  Silly girl.

She’s taking a well deserved rest now.

Katie 1986


Distracted heeling

I took Katie to one of the pet stores to see if I could get her to concentrate on me instead of everything else that is so distracting.  We spent quite a lot of time walking around the back of the store, back and forth, up and down the isles.  She got better as we went, I was pretty pleased with her behavior.  I had her stop and wait at one point, not noticing where we were.

She said “MOM!  It’s boring here in the kitty litter isle!”

Katie 1973

She was much more content near the dog food.

Katie 1978

After we had practiced quite a bit I told her “OK! You can go for a walk now!”  And off she went on ahead of me, free to explore.  Of course we ended up near the toys.  She doesn’t need another toy, but she likes to look anyway.

Katie 1975

“Can I have THIS one Mom?”

Katie 1976


The squirrelly one

Katie 1967The good part about not being employed is that I get to take the Katie dog to school on Monday nights.  We missed last week because I had to work, and I was scheduled to work tonight and next Monday night too.  Good thing I got layed off!  Because missing even one week has turned Katie into a squirrel.  Really.

She was extremely excited to be going to school, running out to the car and standing on her hind legs to get lifted into the back.  She pulled as usual, eager to get into the building once we arrived.  But inside she shut down almost immediately.  I cooked fresh chicken that morning, and had little chunks of it in her treat bag on my hip.  I gave her a taste before class started, so she’d know what she was working for and she spit it out.  Great.  That’s the first sign she’s not going to pay much attention to me.

There were 12 dogs this week.  Three Shelties, a few German Shepards, a totally deaf dog that sort of looked like the dog for Target, some Goldens, a Border Collie and I can’t remember the rest.  Katie got totally freaked out doing healing around the ring, running to keep up with the dogs in front of us, and never ever looking at me, so she was always surprised when we turned and went the other way, or slowed down, or sped up.  And certainly had no clue when we were going to stop.  Sit when we stopped?  Oh no, not going to happen.  Chicken?  Who likes chicken?  Not Katie for sure; makes her feel sort of ill.  Apparently.

We did long recalls.  Both times she sat while I walked away but ran to me immediately after I turned around, long before the instructor told me to call my dog.  And both times she ran right past me, did a victory lap around me and than wandered.  She never does this!  I’m going to have to tell them I need to go back to her rather than call her for the next couple of weeks.  And probably not go so far away from her either, until she gets used to the building and the class and feels better about being away from me.  After the second long recall she asked to be picked up she was so scared.  I didn’t….pick her up that is.

She was weird for 45 to 50 minutes of the class, spooked and distracted.  It wasn’t till we were doing returns, pretty much on our own and I moved away from the others that she settled down.  “Front did you say Mom?”  OHHHH FRONT!  Well OK!.  HEY!!! You have CHICKEN?!!  Why didn’t you SAY SO!.  Watch me sit and look expectantly at you!  Watch me strut my stuff and look at you adoringly!”   And then we did stand for exam, which she rarely ever does correctly.  And she stood right there when I asked, waited her turn and let the instructor come up and PET HER WITHOUT MOVING! And then the instructor and I stood there and talked and Katie still didn’t move!  Way to go Katie!  You redeemed yourself!

So.  Tomorrow we go back to the park.  But maybe we have to go somewhere else, somewhere she’s less comfortable, to practice tomorrow.  Wednesday is a fun match, where we can go and pretend we’re at an obedience trial.  It’s in the same scary building.  I guess I’ll see how she is tomorrow., since it’s almost morning here.  She’s having no trouble sleeping.  Me?  I’m still kind of weirded out myself about not having a job.  Guess we’ll both have to learn to adjust!

Katie 908


A contemplative afternoon in the park

Katie 1939 I’ve been promising Katie for what seems like days, and probably seems like weeks to her, a trip to her favorite soccer field/park.  Today I wasn’t scheduled to work, it wasn’t raining, and even more motivating was the fact that there were contractors in the basement sawing a window well and a crawl space door into the wall.  After hours of listening to the screaming, grinding saw Katie and I ran away to the park for the afternoon.

Since we missed doggie school last night because I had to work, Katie and I practiced our heeling quite a bit today.  She did awesome, probably in part because she hadn’t been fed yet so was highly food motivated!  This makes me know for sure that she knows how to do everything.  Sometimes she choses not to do them, but she sure knew how today!

After we did about 30 minutes of heeling, sitting, staying, stand for exam and recall I switched her to her long leash and we went exploring.  I was looking for pretty places to get her portrait.  She was more interesting in sniffing stuff.

Katie 1940

As we walked along I saw this tiny little nest that was in a bush right at the side of the walking path.

Trees 1232

I stuck my finger in this shot not because it’s such an attractive photo, but to give you a sense of scale.  I wonder if it’s a hummingbird nest.  If not, what other bird would be that small?  Maybe a chickadee?  I need to look this up and see what I can learn.

After our walk through the fields we wandered back to the pond.  Katie actually stepped on a garter snake!  Her back feet sort of hopped up which is what she does when she steps on a thistle or a stick, but she kept on going.  I glanced down and realized it was a snake!  I didn’t get a picture of it as it slid slowly off into the tall grass, but I got a picture of another one we came across, about the same size.

Trees 1239

Do you see it? Katie never saw the second one, though she did wait patiently while I photographed it.  She’s used to waiting on her Mom while she takes photos I guess.  We sat by the pond for quite awhile, listening to the quiet and watching water bugs on the surface of the calm pool of water.  Then she heard a chipmunk.

Katie 1952

And off she ran to investigate.

Katie 1950

Hmmm…I thought.  Here’s a good chance to see how she is on distracted recalls!  So I called her in my school voice; “KATIE!  COME!!  And instantly she turned and ran right back to me!

Katie 1951

And then of course she sat for a treat.  Like a good girl.

Katie 1959

She’s adorable, and I’ve been a bit grumpy with her lately.  So as we sat pondering things, watching the water, I told her I was sorry I’ve been mad, and promised her we’d come back to the park more often this fall.   She said she forgave me.  Cause she is, after all, Mommie’s girl.

Katie 1946


Back to school

No, not me…Katie and I went to doggie school tonight.  In the past 8 days we’ve been in obedience classes three times.  You’d think she’d be back in the swing of it.  But no such luck.  Tonight’s class had 20 dogs, 4 other Shelties, 4 Shepards, an Irish Setter, a Whippet, a Roti and several others that I lost track of.   Katie was excited to go to school, pulling on the leash as we approached the building; but once inside she was overwhelmed by all the activity.  Her focus was nonexistent, and she wasn’t tempted by treats again this week.  And the one thing that I can always count on, perfect recalls, fast and straight with an immediate sit..well…she ran right past me tonight!  She’s never done that before!  She was, however, simply wonderful on her long sits and downs.  Probably because she was afraid to move!  I wish I had a picture of her sitting there next to a Mastiff, a Roti and a Shephard!  She’s so tiny!

Now that we’re back home she’s fallen asleep.  Upside down of course, against the back of the sofa.  I tried to get a picture, but of course that made her wake up.

Katie 1916

And now she’s a CRANKY sheltie…so I have to go!

Katie 1917

We’ll be practicing in the driveway this week, especially on our heeling and our figure 8’s.  Maybe I can get her confidence higher.  And mine too.

Katie 1923


Stand for exam

I decided Katie needs to go back to school.  She’s out of control and doesn’t listen to me at all.  I think she needs more structure in her life.  Plus she used to love going to school.  So, given my random work schedule, I found an obedience class that allows us to drop in on the Monday evenings that I’m not working.  Tonight was our first night.  New building, 14 other dogs, most new to her, different smells, sounds…it was all a bit intimidating!

Katie 1890

She reverted a bit to her initial school behavior of refusing treats.  That worked out fine though, she THOUGHT she wanted a treat so she pretty much did as I asked, but when she earned a treat she held it in her mouth and then spit it out.  Apparently the stress of being in school again.  I remember when I first took her to school, they thought she wasn’t motivated by food!  HA!   And like previous classes, she has a 45 minute attention span.  Then she’s just DONE.  And isn’t afraid to express her feelings either!

The best part though?  We did “stand for exam” where she’s supposed to stand from a sit, then let me walk away from her and allow a complete stranger (the judge or teacher) to walk up to her, pet her and move away, and she can’t move her feet at all!  She has never never never succeeded at that.  Either she won’t stand, or she shys away from anyone walking up to her, or if she knows the person, she jumps on them in happy greeting.  Tonight she was perfect!  She stood when asked…and let TWO strangers walk up to her and pet her without moving her feet!  I think she was just scared, but I’ll take it!


Katie 1810