Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekend Updates

Busy busy weekend! We had a bunch of friends in from out of town, so much of the weekend was devoted to non-dog stuff, but I still managed to sneak a few things in here and there.

On Saturday I dragged my ultra hungover ass to Chester for the 2013 WUSV world championships. This is an international competition among the best of the best in IPO/Schutzhund, although only German Shepherds may compete in this event. (Belgians, the other major category of IPO dogs, have their own breed championship, and then there's a third major international tournament that is open to all breeds.)

I got to watch a few rounds of the protection and obedience phases. Tracking was at a different field that you had to take a bus to reach, so I missed that one.

It was pretty pretty spiffy. SUPER impressive teams, awesome helpers, tough judges. It was incredible to watch teams trialing at that level -- inspiring and intimidating all at once.

The next morning I went out to do an obedience practice match with Pongu. We did two Novice runs; the ring steward was a little puzzled when I asked to do CDSP instead of AKC, but she improvised quickly and we did our runs with only the minor adjustment of needing to use a high jump instead of a bar for the Recall Over Jump exercise.

Pongu refused the high jump his first time, but (to my considerable surprise) jumped it cleanly on his next two tries, so if it had been a real match we would have earned one imaginary Q and one NQ. His performance on the other exercises was pretty good -- not awesome, but for our first stab at a new sport with crazypants dog, I'll take it. I will be thrilled (and, again, considerably surprised) if he does as well at the actual trial, especially since we're going to be attempting this at a new venue.

After we got back from the practice match, I took the other two dingbats out to the Sunday farmers' market at Headhouse Square.

For the most part, they did quite well. I tethered them to a post across the street from the actual market while I was shopping, because it's not practical for me to try wrangling two dogs while also attempting to purchase assorted sacks of apples and grapes.

To my surprise, though, Dori (as Florence has been renamed, after Hodori, the mascot from the 1988 Seoul Olympics) snarked at a couple of passing dogs while she was tethered to the post. It wasn't anything serious, just a little posturing, but it still came as a bit of a shock to hear a growl from a dog who's otherwise been super sweet and almost completely silent except for "he he he" eagerness panting when she wants cuddles.

As soon as I untied her, she quit behaving that way. I don't know whether it was a territorial thing where she wanted to guard her space, or whether her intent was to frighten off the other dogs while she felt vulnerable being tied to the pole, or whether it was frustration that she couldn't greet them properly... but either way, it was a peculiar, if non-serious, incident.

Once I got her loose, she was fine again, and reacted with her normal sociable interest and pulling toward other dogs with no sign of snarking. Just like before, she was very easy to redirect with "Watch" and hustle-walking past the other dogs, with lots of treats and praise for coming with me. Dori has great focus, and it's been a joy watching how quickly her attention span develops. (Major advantage of starting with a grown dog -- no puppy would have that much concentration in less than a week's work!)

Later that night she also did some alarm barking and growling when my husband came home late and walked in through the downstairs lobby door as I was exiting with the dogs. As soon as she recognized who it was, she melted back into her loose happy tail-wagging self, but it seems that Dori's got a teensy bit of a protective streak when it comes to strangers after dark. And I'm fine with that; I think a lot of people would prefer a dog who barks and growls a little when someone unfamiliar comes into their homes. Better than one that tries to hide under the couch, anyhow! And if it's an undesirable behavior in her final home, it should be one that's pretty easy to fix, at least, since Dori was quick to calm down from her initial state of wariness.

On Monday morning, Dori had her spay stitches pulled. She was fine at the vet. Reasonably calm in the waiting room, tolerant (if unhappy) about being rolled over on her back on the cold tile floor and having her wire sutures pulled out. She weighed in at 42 pounds and is probably still a couple of pounds light, so I'm guessing her healthy weight is around 45.

Once she had her stitches out, Dori was able to play (a little, supervised) with Dog Mob... by which I mean, of course, "Crookytail," since Pongu still wants nothing to do with her.

(Pongu is not just ignoring them in that clip. I put him on a Down-Stay because (a) he needs to proof it anyway; and (b) when I don't actually tell him to stay out of it, Pongu cannot resist running over to yell at the other two and bite them both repeatedly in the face. He ruined all my previous attempts at getting a clip of the other two playing until I finally told him to lie down and stay there.)

That's pretty much it for now. Dori seems to have relaxed enough to potty almost as often as the other dogs. Previously she would hold it for a whole day at a time (once she went over 30 hours without pottying, even though I took her out all the time), but as she relaxes, she's moving toward a more normal schedule.

Her Sit is great and has become a strong default behavior. She's doing well with the Shell Game, too -- she's on Stage 3, which means she's almost finished, and just needs to quit making so many wrong guesses out of impatience before landing on the right one. Dori's fallen into the pretty common trap of thinking that it's easier and faster to just hit all the pots instead of trying to figure out which one is the actual correct pot (although I know she can tell, because occasionally I catch her doing it), so we just need to get the paw touch under better stimulus control and then she'll be done.

Will it happen by Friday? Who knows! But either way, that is the day she's going home.

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