Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


If it's Monday it must be obedience

So we went to week 8 of novice obedience school tonight.  Katie is much more comfortable in class now, as long as those other dogs and all those other people don’t get too close.  She’ll even stand for exam and let strangers touch her as long as I’m at the other end of the leash.

She was perfect on her sits and downs tonight.  We had a substitute teacher who did lots of distracting things.


Like putting a piece of cheese on the floor in front of each dog.  I  knew we were safe there as Katie won’t take treats from anyone but me.  Still, I was proud of her for not moving or even looking at it.  She was staring at me because “The lady was sort of close Mom!”

And on the long downs the lady walked back and forth in front of the dogs squeaking toys and throwing them around.  She walked behind dogs too, which I knew would totally freak Katie out…but the good news is that Katie had scooted back so far there wasn’t any room for the lady to walk behind her…so she sat still as a mouse while the lady marched back and forth in front of her.  Katie never took her eyes off of me.  I guess she knows she’s safe as long as she can see me.  That might be a problem if we ever progress past novice and I have to leave the room during the sits and downs.  But for now as long as we concentrate on each other we’re cool.

I think.



Training Challenge # 9

For our challenge this week Katie and I went on a photo shoot.  Our tiny little town is having what they call Heritage Days this weekend.  For a couple of weeks now I’ve noticed scarecrows, each wearing a different outfit being placed along the road heading out of town.  First one, then another.  Then last night I was at the library and saw a picture of “their” scarecrow, dressed as a woman reading a book.  Turns out local groups and businesses dressed scarecrows, complete with pumpkin heads and entered them in a contest.  They are all numbered and you get to vote for your favorite.

During the weekend there were tours of a local historic barn, houses and other historical sights.  Early Saturday morning the downtown was getting ready for the tourists, setting out sidewalk sale stuff, sweeping the walk, watering the planters.  Everyone was very busy as Katie and I strolled by.

Katie and I went early that morning, because I love taking pictures in the early morning sun…and because Katie was already awake;  she’d been barking at the sound of duck hunters on a nearby lake since 7 a.m.

The challenge for Katie was to sit quietly while all sorts of activity was going on around her.  Lots of cars and trucks driving by, up close and personal.  Many of them had extra noisy trailers hooked up behind, hauling trackers, antique and new, up to the big barn at the top of the hill.

Those trailers were the worst for Katie to sit through; they make so much noise!  And a few times she just couldn’t handle it and would lunge and bark.  But for the most part she sat when I asked her to, though her head was swiveling around keeping track of all the people and traffic.

I took pictures of her sitting near some of the scarecrows or in front of pretty displays.  She got to sit next to her very own tractor.  It took a bit of persuasion for her to sit so near that tractor tire!

You can almost see the scarecrow sitting on the tractor seat.  The sun was just moving over the top of a building and the light kind of obliterates his head…anyway Katie is prettier and a better focus.

Here’s the library staff’s contribution to the contest…

…and the one in front of our local yoga and meditation studio…

…and Lady Harriet Heritage herself!

…where Katie says “GEE MOM!!!  How many more of these do I have to sit for?  And can I have another piece of CHEESE?”

All done now sweetie….wait…how about one more!  In front of the historic Candle Factory!  This will be my FAVORITE!

All in all, though she wasn’t perfect, she did sit when I asked her, most of the time, and only lunged at two trucks.  Well, maybe three.  She isn’t as good at heeling when we’re around all this interesting stuff and lots of people, so we need more practice there.  And of course we always need practice not barking and lunging at cars.  So we’ll be doing more of this.

Meanwhile, I hope you all enjoyed a beautiful weekend!  Katie sends kisses.


Training Challenge #8

This week we took our cue from Oreo over at Sara’s blog.  We’re working on the vacuum cleaner!

Ever since she was a little tiny puppy Katie has hated the vacuum cleaner.  I don’t know if she thinks she is protecting me, or if it’s a game, but she barks and growls and pounces and bites the vacuum.  She’s so vicious I am afraid she’ll break a tooth.  So mostly I put her outside when I do the vacuuming, and frankly I don’t vacuum as often as I should.  Which isn’t such a bad thing when you stop and think about it.  Sort of liberating actually.

But wait.  I digress.

I can’t even touch the handle of the closet door behind which lurks the evil vacuum without her spinning in circles and barking hysterically. To actually drag the hose out creates mayhem.  And turn it ON?  Unthinkable.

So one day this week I put her in a sit/stay and opened the closet door! If she barked I closed the door and walked away.  No treat.  I tried again later.  Eventually she sat while I opened the door and she got her treat.

Next we tried MOVING the vacuum hose.  Same deal.  Sit, don’t bark and you get a treat.  I’ve left the hose and the vacuum heads sitting in the middle of the living room floor for a couple of days now.  She doesn’t have a problem with that…

…until I move that evil vacuum head…it’s not even turned ON yet…then she gets all crazy again.

Sigh.  So much more work to do.  Of course we haven’t put in the hours and hours of relaxation work that Sara and Oreo have done.  Just goes to show…if you don’t do the work, you don’t earn the treat.

My treat would be to vacuum in peace.  I think.


Katie says – "Look what Daddy built me!"

Earlier this summer husband built Katie a dogwalk and a full size teeter!  And right about that same time I hurt my knee and was spending most of my days reclined with ice on my leg.  I tried running with Katie on her brand new equipment, but that really aggravated my knee.  So all these weeks Katie’s new stuff has been in the garage.  Waiting.

Last night Katie’s dad put the dogwalk and teeter up, set out a few jumps and the weaves and when I got home from work Katie and I played for awhile.

Remember when she was afraid to walk on the board when it was flat on the driveway?  And when putting the board up on bricks freaked her out?  It was only a year ago when she would run the other way to avoid running over the board as it sat on a 2 inch pipe!  Silly girl.

Now my biggest problem is that she runs up and over the dogwalk and then turns around and runs up and over it again!  And regardless of what obstacle I think we’re going to do, she’s doing the dogwalk first!

And maybe all those weeks in agility school working on the dreaded teeter was worth it.  Because look at this!

“I’m not afraid of any ole teeter Mom!”  Watch me!  Watch me!!!!

I’m watching Katie-girl.  And I’m in so proud of you!


Knee therapy – not!

Katie was an extra specially wound up Sheltie-girl yesterday.  And if you’ve ever lived with a Sheltie — well — you know that they’re pretty much wound up enough on a normal day.  So even though I knew that I couldn’t walk around on the uneven ground of the park she had me at my wits end by late in the afternoon when I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride.


So we went into the neighboring village, a small quaint town with expensive homes and a tiny downtown.  Also a very busy town, lots of cars and motorcycles and people and other dogs and stuff.

We parked at the main intersection and sat there awhile getting used to all the weekend traffic.

She did pretty well, but the flat ears belay the fear.

So we moved a bit away from the corner to sit on a park wall.

That was a lot better.  For a moment.

Then we walked through the two blocks of town.  Katie got to check out the old bank and see if she had any money deposited there.  She did not.

Getting away from town was more enjoyable, we walked by old houses…

…and smelled lots of food being grilled in the back yards.

At one point she stopped on the sidewalk as if to say…”carry me Mom!”  Sorry baby, you’re going to have to walk yourself.  Mom’s knees are done!

We had a lot of fun, met some resident pups, smelled some good stuff and got a little less scared of new places.  All good things.   Except for the knee which is now elevated and being iced.  Again.

Hey Mom! Wanna PLAY?


Training Challenge #5

Since I’ve been sitting most of the week with my leg elevated and iced Katie and I haven’t done much work on anything.  You can tell.  She wants to GO TO THE PARK RIGHT NOW MOM!!!  But I can’t walk that much, and certainly not on the uneven ground at the park.

So we went to a pet supply store and worked on keeping her attention on me rather than all the good sniffing spots.  She’s a bit of a vacuum cleaner and I’m worried about our next Rally trial, which is a week from today!  (OH NOOOO!)

I did a bit of Rally stuff; heeling, sitting, turning, lying down.  It went OK.  Pretty good I guess given all the distractions.  It all seems to depend on what the treats are.  If they’re tasty and special enough a typhoon could go by and she’d continue to stare at me.  If it’s just her regular kibble….well….lots of stuff is more important and more interesting than her regular kibble or her Mom.

Next Sunday is our Rally trial.  I guess that will be our Training Challenge #6!


Training Challenge (4)

All this lunging and chasing cars while barking hysterically is a really big problem.  When Katie and I are out and about she generally behaves, probably because she’s out of her element and doesn’t feel a need to defend her place.  But back at home she reverts to her crazy self.  Especially when it’s the mail lady’s diesel truck.  That starts and stops, revving up that noisy engine at each mailbox.

So I’ve been trying to get her out to the driveway whenever we hear the mail truck approaching.  We have three times each day that she goes by; the first time is on the side road as she approaches the subdivision.  It’s our first notice that she’s on her way.  Then she comes back our way, putting mail in the boxes across the street.  And finally, once she gets way up to the end of our road she comes back down our side of the street and puts mail in our box!  That’s just the WORST!  I can often get Katie to sit quietly and wait when she goes by on the side street, but it’s just about impossible to keep her in a sit when she’s on our street Mom! The crazy dangerous mail lady is  ON OUR STREET!

So here’s the story, in Katie’s own words:

I’m waiting for that mail truck to come by…

There it goes!!!  Up the other side of street!  GET IT!!! GET IT!!!

Ok.  Mom made me hang out further up the driveway, away from the road in the hopes that putting some space between us will help me concentrate on sitting when that truck comes back.  Yea.  Like that’s gonna work.

NOW she has decided I wasn’t far enough away, so she’s making me sit way over here in the front yard.  Sheesh! This is mortifying.  I can do this, what’s she thinking anyway?  (I hope this involves treats!)

Hey!  I hear the truck coming!

It’s coming, it’s coming!  I see it!

I’m SITTING!  I’m SITTING!  SEE!?!?!?!  SEE!!!!!  And it’s RIGHT HERE!!!  She’s TOUCHING MY MAILBOX!!!!

I did it!!! Yes I DID!  WAIT!!! WAIT!!! The truck is moving AWAY!   I’m trying to sit.  Yes I am.  I’m TRYING!  BUT I CAN’T CONTROL IT ANYMORE!  I HAVE TO BAAAAAAAAAARK!!!!!!!!

Darn.  Sorry Mom.  Sigh.  Hey – Got any cheese?


Training Challenge (3)

This week I decided to take Katie to a place she’s never been before with smells she’s never smelled before and sights she’s never seen before.  She was all happy to be GOING SOMEWHERE!  She loves to travel and we had her car back from the shop so she got to travel in her very own comfortable and safe crate.  Happy happy dog.

But as soon as I arrived at my surprise destination and opened up the back she started to shake.  Typical Katie; new smells, new sounds, new everything is just so scary!  So.  Do you want to know where we went?  Is this a clue?

We visited a local dairy farm where they sell the most wonderful ice cream.  People buy the ice cream and then wander among the dairy cows.  It’s a pretty unique experience – to be eating the sweet ice cream while smelling the sweet …well…  smells of cows.  Up close and personal.

From the start Katie wasn’t too keen on the whole thing.  There’s a covered picnic area quite a ways from the cows, and we walked around there for awhile till she stopped shaking.  Then I started doing obedience patterns with her and since I had cheese, well cheese trumped fear, which was a good sign that she was adjusting.  When she’s really scared she refuses cheese, and we were never in that place on this adventure.

Eventually I heeled her over nearer the cows, and then we just walked in the middle of the walkway, not too close, all the way to the back of the barns.  She was interested in all the animals but not pulling on the leash to get any closer to them.  Till she saw the baby pigs.  THOSE she wanted to meet, and they wanted to meet her too!

Then it was back through all the big cows, and she tried to sit where I told her to, but it was just too close and she decided she’d rather not.  LOL  I didn’t push the issue, my whole goal was for her to get comfortable quickly in a totally foreign environment and I think she did that.

On our way back to the car we stopped to let a family with three young children pet Katie.  Another thing we need to work on.  She allowed all three to pet her gently on the side, but only after I asked her to sit, and got down there with her.  Otherwise she continues to shy away from people that want to meet her.

All in all it was a successful trip.  And mama didn’t even eat any ice cream!