Saturday, February 18, 2012

Misc. Updates 2/18/12

It's been a month since Crookytail arrived, and although I still sometimes have secret qualms about keeping him (mainly when he decides to ignore my shouts of "nooooo" and eat some soggy hamburger bun off the street, or tries to galumph toward an obviously unreceptive dog to say hi, despite my best efforts to haul him back, or is just a drag-ass pain in the butt generally), he's still an exceptionally easy and friendly dog -- such a good family dog that I feel vaguely guilty claiming him as my own foster failure.

But mine he is, and here's where we are training-wise at the end of month one:

He also has "Box" (go into the crate), Front, decent leash manners (apart from the snarfing of ground treasures, pulling toward other dogs, and occasional random balkiness...), and an okay-ish recall (which is actually a very good recall for one month of work, but I am demanding and impatient). So: not bad, but now that he is My Dog instead of a Temporary Dog, I'm always about wanting more more more.

That's doubly true of Pongu-e. We're working on position practice and paw discrimination exercises. I recently got Julie Flanery's T.A.P. DVDs and realized just how weak our foundations were (Pongu didn't even have a proper Stand cue, that's how feeble we were on foundations), so that's what I'm trying to teach and sharpen up now. Got a ways to go...

The T.A.P. program has also been humbling in that it's shown me several mistakes I was making in my training, such as allowing physical cues to overshadow verbal ones. The solution is so simple that I'm embarrassed I didn't figure it out earlier: instead of giving the verbal cue simultaneously with the gesture, give it a second or two before the gesture, so that the dog learns to anticipate the sequence and is soon performing based on the verbal prompt alone. This is literally twice as fast as what I was doing before, and good lord do I feel dumb for not having realized it sooner.

Oh well. Got it now. Here's Pongu learning "Cross Your Paws" by repeated verbal --> gesture prompts. By the last one he's going on the verbal without waiting for the physical, although unfortunately it's hard to see because each successive repetition shifts him slightly to the left so he's partly out of frame by then.

Goals for the next few weeks: sharpen up Pongu's position exercises, get them performed reliably in Heel and Right position (Pongu's pretty good at Heel, not as good at Right, doesn't have the first clue about Behind, so we'll have to start from zero on that one), and start Crookytail learning the same.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crunchy Chewy Chicken Feet!

Warning: gross pictures ahead.

Still don't have much time for blog updates (sorry kids, I know you're devastated) but as a Valentine's treat to my dogs -- who are, of course, my real Valentines; to hell with that other two-legged person-thing who lives in the house -- I bought them a bag of locally raised, vegetarian fed, humanely pastured chicken feet from the Fair Food Farmstand.

(I'm not sure who else buys these chicken feet. I suspect they are like the beef hearts at the Winter Harvest CSA: a novelty item that gets listed because the butchers who supply these markets like to show that they really do use every last bit of the animals, and that occasionally people buy in a rush of misguided optimism, but that no one other than my mutt monsters will ever actually eat. The guy at Winter Harvest was super stoked to see someone else buying beef hearts, and excitedly asked me if I had any good recipes for them. He was disappointed to learn that I just use them for dog food [high taurine! high iron! a fine supplement for your dog's diet!] and then sheepishly confessed that he'd had a beef heart in his spare freezer for about a year without any idea what to DO with the thing. So next time I stop by Winter Harvest he's going to give me that beef heart for free, just so it doesn't go to waste. Score! Although I do feel bad I couldn't help him out any better than that.)

Anyway, so back to chicken feet. I threw them in the oven for a couple of hours at 200 degrees to kill off germs and because Pongu missed the memo re: dogs are supposed to love raw food. He refuses to eat raw meat (with a grudging exception for quail); I have to cook things before he'll touch them. However, chicken feet do have small bones in there and I'm paranoid about splintered bones causing problems, so I kept the cooking to a low-heat minimum and the bones stayed nice and flexible.

A Valentine's heart of nasty scaly lizard feet for my puppies. <3 <3 <3
The dogs LOVED them. So much. Pongu ran around trying to rip extra toes right out of Crookytail's mouth. Mmm, toenails...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pongu and Crookytail Watch COBRA

Pretty busy so don't have time to blog much, but here's a quick series of photos of Pongu and Crookytail (not) enjoying the Sylvester Stallone 1986 action epic COBRA, featuring hott '80s hairspray and an axe cult dancing in a warehouse and a whole lotta super tough match-chewing.

Crookytail gave up on this thing almost immediately. Pongu hung on a while longer (I like to think he was marveling at the WTFness of it all as much as I was) but he conked out before the credits too.

Their increasing disillusionment with this movie brings me so much joy.