Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2 Months Down, Countless More To Go

Eclipse came home two months ago today, it's another nice milestone to meet. I don't have a current weight on him (will get on the first though) although I don't think he's gained much more than five or six pounds since he came home. That's still huge though, for a guy that has trouble putting and keeping on weight. His weight gain slowed in part because his daily treats were cut down, he was getting a ton of treats but with his sensitive stomach we cut out everything but veggies, chicken and his kibble. We'll start giving him Milkbones again probably today to see if they cause gas, that extra 200 calories really helps the boy!

Below are photos from his first couple days at home (forgive the photo quality, I was getting used to Not having my finger in front of the flash *wink*)
^Teddy and Eclipse were both Not thrilled to have to pose for pictures^

Here are photos from today, two months later!
^This one's not from today but last week^

He's such a happy boy who makes me laugh everyday with his goofy antics. He's doing great and is helping me. Since I have to tire him out somehow everyday he motivates me to get out on at least one walk everyday and I'm now training all three dogs individually so they all get their one-on-one time, which I certainly enjoy. He's doing great. You may remember he came home with some bad habits, namely counter surfing, getting on furniture without permission and jumping. Those are all issues of the past (well, if there's an empty bowl on the couch he'll lick it but he leaves food alone) although I'll never be fully comfortable leaving him lose in the house with food on the counter but that's where management and setting him up for success comes in. He's so good about respecting furniture now that I can invite him up with me (on the bed or couch) and if he jumps off for whatever reason he won't get back on without another invitation. He's easy to live with and does us all good!

On the training front, here's an updated video of him putting away his toys. Our biggest struggle is that he picks up toys from in the basket, so I do tell him to leave it and no at times in the video, but only if he's going for a toy in the basket. Once he gives up on the toys in the basket he realizes he's supposed to pick them up off the floor so he does that. You'll also notice he does it in an order, he always picks up the black kong first, then the red kong. Enjoy the video of the goofy boy but forgive the lighting and background noise, we were having a horrible windstorm.



Happy two months, baby! It's so good to have you home!

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Training?

So it was quite obvious after watching the videos of Eclipse "putting his toys away" that I needed to reevaluate not only my consistency but also my plan of action and the method in which I was attempting to train it. So, I watched some videos on YouTube, saw how they suggested training it, and I took their suggestions. Here's a video of our third time trying this in with the new plan of action and at this point he's just bringing the toys to my hand, but soon we'll add the basket. This is what clicker training is supposed to look like!


(I have a very hard time looking at an end behaviour I want and saying "ok, here's how we'll get there", I miss the in between steps a lot so until I develop that ability I'll be relying on tutorials a lot!)

Still no relaxation protocol training, but hopefully soon! Just need to get myself into gear!

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Can You Believe It?

Eclipse is 18 months old today! It was a nice milestone to hit with the boy and while we haven't done much (I hurt my heels from walking the dogs too much in shoes that rub and they are sore) we did get some fun in for the boy! One of Eclipse favorite games has always been when one of "his people" hides under a blanket and calls him. He goes absolutely batty! So we played that fun little game on the bed today, which is just a slight variation from when he was younger and it was played on the floor. To make it even better, Dad and Mom both played with him! The boy couldn't have been any happier it seemed!
^Eclispe at six months playing with Alex^
We've been having absolutely gorgeous weather here recently and so Thursday we ventured out to Whistler's Bend Park despite my aching feet and not feeling so well. Eclipse had a blast though and is really growing into a nice dog, despite still being very much a puppy! Then yesterday we had to go to town so took Eclipse with us to make a stop at the dog park on the way back since my feet hurt too bad to walk him enough for adequate exercise. We didn't stay long since the only dogs there were quite grumpy and wouldn't play with the boy. Enjoy the photos! He's getting more handsome every day it seems!
He looks out of control but really we were playing the come game with him and he was dodging trees :-)
I know puddles can be bad but this one wasn't there for long and no cars go there to speak of
He wasn't happy to have to stop his wanderings to pose for a photo
Some of the absolutely stunning country we live in. I love spring in Oregon
Eclipse posing with a flower Alex picked for me. Alex was making his ears perky with funny noises, thus the giraffe pose!
I went barefoot after the majority of the mud and on the way back to the car Eclipse carried my shoes for me, the lovely boy. Okay, so he wasn't so thrilled to do so but he wasn't upset at all :-D
Playing fetch with a stick at the dogg park! He doesn't play fetch much other than inside so it was nice to see!

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse (the 1.5 year old!), Teddy & Kira

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Relaxation Protocol

I've been looking for possible solutions to Eclipse's dog reactivity online for some time now and haven't come across much besides "be prepared to turn around and walk in the other direction" which isn't real feasible on our street, we wouldn't even be able to leave the house if that was the solution! However I was doing some blog surfing and came across what is called Relaxation Protocol. (On this blog) Basically what it does is proof a sit stay to an amazing level and teaches the dog to learn to relax and look to the handler in stressful situations using systematic classic conditioning through the use of quiet praise and treats. I read through the program (downloaded at the link provided above) and it looks intimidating. However, listening to the MP3s (also availabel for download at the above link) it seems much easier, less time consuming and much more straightforward.

I have yet to start it with Eclipse, but plan on starting today (we'll see about that). The protocol is broken up by the day and there are 15 days worth of exercises, but that doesn't mean the process is completed after only 15 days. Oh no, 15 days worth of exercises in one room of the house with no other distractions going on, no other dogs, no food cooking, no tv on, you get the picture. Then 15 more days of the exercises in different rooms of the house. Then 15 more days in our driveway, then in a park, and then and then and then *wink* It's going to be a long process, but hopefully a very rewarding and fulfilling one as not only will it help Eclipse learn to relax (which heaven knows he Needs!) but it will also help our bond. I plan on doing it with Kira as well since it would help her not bark at the door, but we'll see if I can get my rear in gear enough to do so.

Below I've included the Day 1 exercises for you to see part of the process and what it entails. I attempted to upload the MP3 too, but it's too much work! If you are curious just download it and listen to it, it's about 4 minutes long and really cool! I plan on putting it on my ipod and listening to it while training Eclipse since it tells you when the time is up and everything! Happy relaxation everyone!

(Note: After each exercise the dog is praised quietly and given a treat)
Day 1: Dog's Task


Sit for 5 seconds
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step to the right and return
Sit while you take 1 step to the left and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps to the right and return
Sit for 15 seconds
Sit while you take 2 steps to the left and return
Sit while you clap your hands softly once
Sit while you take 3 steps back and return
Sit while you count out loud to 10
Sit while you clap your hands softly once
Sit while you count out loud to 20
Sit while you take 3 steps to the right and return
Sit while you clap your hands softly twice
Sit for 3 seconds
Sit for 5 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step back and return
Sit for 3 seconds
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit for 5 seconds
Sit for 3 seconds

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

He's A Maniac!

Eclipse is an utter and complete goofball. He's even earned himself a new nickname that fits him to a "T": Roo. You see, one of his nicknames is Ciperooni, Ciperoo for short. The other day at Coreena's I accidentally shortened it to Roo and it's just kind of stuck. Really though, I wanted to document and show you all just how much of a goof Eclipse really is, so we did some videos today!

This one is Eclipse trotting alongside my bike. I need to get in better shape before I'll be able to make him run with the bike but he is doing very well! He even gets really excited when he sees me get the bike out and will even tolerate me putting his gentle leader on and hold still for it! (Which is huge for the dog that used to run from his head collar!)



I just took him to my mom's and back which totals about a mile but that was all I could take and thankfully it made him a bit tired as well. When we first got back I thought he had plenty of energy to spare but I was mistaken.

^That's a dinobone tucked between his cheek and leg^

Yesterday Alex was complaining about being tired (we got a slight cold or something) and he was laying in bed reading his book so I told him he had to take a nap. I had Eclipse turn off the light then I put the fleece tug on the bedroom door and he shut the door for his daddy to go night-night. *grin* Smarty pants me left the tug on the door and Eclipse started tugging it randomly to make us laugh (and to play with it, he loves that thing) but he took to walking backwards inside the room while tugging it so it shuts the door but not all the way. He seems to greatly enjoy doing that so I got a video of it although it's not as enthusiastic as he normally is since I have some of his kibble.


Then we tried putting toys away. We obviously need to work on this a lot better and I need to be more consistent in the command I use (he knows "get it" but I want to phase out "get it" and "put it away" to just "pick up" but I need to get the behaviour much much more solid before I do that) and I need to look at the environment a lot more closely in regards to what I want him to do to set him up for better success. This is why I love videos, I can see the stupid mistakes I'm making that are hindering his progress!

This next one is where you see how bad my consistency really is (I'm ashamed!) and I start to get a tad frustrated with him which I didn't Feel but you can hear in my voice.

He truly is a complete goofball and it's very evident that the typical mental retardation that results from malnourishment in utero doesn't affect my boy at all, although the other possible results could play into what makes Eclipse my little Roo *wink*. Below are just some cute random photos of the kiddos, enjoy!
^Haha! Kira's anything but dignified!^

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh Siblings *Edited*

For our new followers out there, Eclipse and Eva aren't the only two in their litter. In fact, there are five more pups from their litter. Two we watched grow up and they even spent time in our homes, Eola and Echo. They were both recruited to be service dogs in training along with Eclipse and Eva from a private litter. There were three other pups in the litter as well that went to private homes as pets, one female stayed with the breeder, one female went to a home and the seventh pup we don't know if it's male or female but it's in a private home as well.

Eclipse and Eva both have kidney issues. Eva has little to no kidney function and never has that we can tell. (It's completely amazing that she's still alive at nearly 18 months, we never thought she'd make it to 1 year) Eclipse has 31% kidney function according to the last tests that were run. It's reported that Eola's kidneys are fine but with kidney issues they can appear out of nowhere. Echo was career changed in January I believe, and I can only assume that he likely has some kidney issues as well from some of the health issues he dealt with along the way. The other three pups, I'm not sure if they're healthy or not, or even if their owners would know if they weren't.

Those siblings aren't what this post is about though. Eclipse, Eva, Echo and Eola have more siblings and it was only by utter chance that we found out about them. You see, Martha invited Coreena and I to the Golden Retriever rescue fan page on facebook. On their fan page it was mentioned that there were 8 6-month-old pups from Yachats (the very small town Eclipse and his littermates are from) at the rescue in foster homes and a photo of one of the pups posted. The photo looked strangely like the "E" litter and so Coreena got to work getting in contact with the rescue due to the liklihood of there being family-ties and thus, likely health concerns.
Thankfully the rescue took it very seriously and put an adoption freeze on all 8 male puppies and went about getting to the bottom of things. Turns out the pups are from the same "breeder" and beyond that, are directly related to our kids. Five of the pups are full siblings to our darling puppies, three are out of their sister "Jasmine", sired by their father. Yes, they're father/daughter inbred. It's disgusting and heartbreaking and so very disappointing. I know how sweet all the pups in the litter that I've interacted with and I can just imagine how Jasmine is. I would do anything to get her out of that situation and into a loving home where she'll never have to bear pups again.

All 8 puppies are 6/7 months old and are currently in foster care. The rescue plans on doing full-scale kidney tests to ensure that at this time they have no active kidney issues and all adoptive homes will be fully disclosed on the likelyhood of future kidney issues popping up. Although... after some research, it doesn't seem as genetically based with our kids as we had originally thought. There's a reason. You see, all 8 pups at the rescue look like "normal" goldens. They have normal proportions, are big and beefy and appear healthy. None are showing any symptoms of any health issues, thank goodness. Want to see? Look here for the photos of the pups on Golden Bond Rescue's fan page.

That leaves the question though, where did our kids get their issues? The rescue's group of vets think that it's more than possible that their mother was malnourished when pregnant with the "E" litter, thus causing their many health issues, Eva's potential lack of kidneys, their strange proportions (the look more like field labs in body shape than heavier boned goldens) and overall "specialness".

*Edit* I forgot to mention that the pups are at the rescue because the breeder couldn't get rid of them and also that all involved seem to be taking steps to make sure this woman is either shut down legally (turning her into the AKC since these are registered litters, contacting animal control, etc) as well as simply warning people that are interested in purchasing goldens from a breeder locally to stay far from her. The "E" litter is ok for now, and the younger pups sound like they're all doing great and are enjoying their foster homes*
I do know that the stud was neutered, thankfully, and that there were 8 females from the two litters that found homes. I also know that JLAD was contacted to verify the information Coreena provided and to gain more info on Echo and Eola, although I do not know what that information is. So that we know of Eclipse has 22 siblings, some full, some inbred. I hope them all well, and I hope them all full, complete, happy lives. I just wish I could take on one of Eclipse's little brothers. How perfect of a playmate would he be?

I hope the 8 little younger guys get through their testing quickly and find their forever loving homes. I just wish Eclipse hadn't been part of the litter from when their mother wasn't being properly cared for, in fact I wish she'd either been cared for or not had a litter, but then I wouldn't know my love, and honestly, I wouldn't change him for the world!

A New Outlet

Eclipse is a young Golden, which means that he has energy. Sometimes a lot of energy! He's not distructive in the house or anything but we lack a big backyard where he can go and run. One of our ultimate goals is to move to a place that has no limit on the number of dogs with a big fenced in backyard and to get Eclipse a friend (probably a rescued lab for Alex), but for now that's not an option. Since Eclipse is lacking a friend, when he gets riled up he tries to get Kira to play with him and let's just say, she's not a fan. I've been slacking on his walks because I haven't felt well, have been uber emotional and could only find my skate shoes which don't give my highly arched feet the support they need (planning on transitioning to barefoot walking for this summber but haven't done it yet). I could come up with more excuses; oh yes, another good one, Eclipse's dog reactiveness!

This weekend though, Eclipse got quite a bit of exercise. He was getting some serious cabin-fever so Alex and I took him and headed to Coreena's to visit his sister Eva and cousin Charlie. It was quite nice out so we took them to the dog park and let them run around for about 45 minutes before they all indicated they'd had enough. They had a blast and so did we!

Then Alex left his phone up there so we had to go get it yesterday so we took all six dogs to the dog park and let them romp and run and have a good time. It was nice seeing them let lose, I need to take them to the school at least a few times a week to let them run but I can only take Kira when Alex goes since she doesn't register that I'm calling her so she just keeps wandering.

I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to let Eclipse's energy reserves fill back up so we started our new exercise today. We got my parent's bikes last week sometime but it was either raining or too hot (last April Eclipse had an issue with heat intolerance so we're watching it this year) so we haven't gotten to go out on them yet. This morning it was nice and cool and dry so I decided Eclipse and I would go on our first bike ride together. We didn't go far, only just under a half mile, but it was enough to get him used to running beside the bike and enough for me to get used to handling him while not falling off the bike (I'm not so coordinated). It was good for him, he did well, we'll just have to keep an eye on dogs that he reacts poorly to, although the gentle leader helps greatly with that. Hopefully we'll get up to riding a couple miles a day soon, as we could both use the exercise!
On another note, his gas has gone away! It's nice to not have a green cloud hanging out in your house all day everyday! We cut out all treats, in fact everything except for his kibble and supplements but then I got a genious idea. One of his favorite treats as a pup (and non-gas causing ones) was plain cooked chicken so we gave that a shot and it worked. I'm not sure yet how motivating it will be when he's around dogs behind fences but at least now we have something else in our arsenal!

Right now Eclipse is peacefully conked out on the dog bed, surrounded by his favorite stuffies. Ah, the life of a dog :-D
Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Friday, April 16, 2010

Strange

Very strange indeed!

Eclipse, that is.

You may remember a post I did back in January of last year of Eclipse's quirks. He was a mere 13 weeks old at that time and I'm happy to report that Eclipse is just as quirky as always!

It's hard to say what he likes more, stuffies or nylabones. He's often seen carrying around or snuggling with a stuffie like your typical Golden. His favorite position to play with toys? On his back :-D He's a cutie, that's for sure. There are a ton more quirks about Eclipse that we could talk about, like his inability to contain his wiggles and keep his feet to himself when he just gets So Happy! But that's not what this post is about.
I was reading a blog yesterday, Eve a puppy-in-training who is going in-for-training at GDB soon, and they mentioned that their leader thinks that some things are just part of a dog's persona, such as in this case, barking at the door. (Kira!)

In Eclipse's case, it's being reactive to other dogs. I was hoping to get him into Rally-O and agility and to get him his CGC and possibly into a reading program for kids, but with his reactiveness, I don't know if we'll be able to do any of those things. Honestly, I've yet to be able to pinpoint what exactly it is that sets him off. He's not aggressive, but he is defensive. Some dogs he completely ignores, even if they're standing at the fence barking their fool heads off. Others don't even have to bark and he's having a tissy fit. I think I'll have to get Alex to record us walking by various dogs, and more specifically, record the other dogs before and as we're walking by before I'll be able to see it. Although I do have a feeling that he only reacts to dogs that are overly alert/looking dominant.

We may still be able to do events and get him his CGC since he doesn't react as bad to dogs that aren't behind fences, in fact he's got picture perfect pacification signals, but I don't know if I want to push him. I know that Cesar Milan would say he's instable, but I'm not willing to "break" Eclipse's spirit to make him "stable" and I still think he'd be reactive to other dogs, he has been since day one.

He was doing really well when I was able to redirect him to some extent with very rich food, but with his sensitive stomach (and horrible gas and diarrhea from treats) that's no longer an option. He's not motivated by kibble at all, despite the fact that he loves his kibble now, and he's not motivated enough by toys to pay them any mind when we're outside. I'm happy he's more tolerant of his Gentle Leader now, because if he weren't in it walks would be unbearably stressful and the poor guy would never get out.

Any ideas? I'll try and get some videos of soon but I think it's a defense mechanism. If he sees a dog that's dominant he hackles, holds his tail very high, stands on his toes, growls, barks and tries to lunge. It seems to me like it's a "I'm bigger than I look and I mean business, don't mess with me" but only in response to dominant dogs. Does that make any sense? If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them! I love operant conditioning, but it's difficult when there's nothing positive I can give him when he does what I would like him to do.

I have a strange strange dog on my hands, well, three actually! What can I say, I like the "special" dogs! *wink*

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Woops!

I missed my three year anniversary of being a "dog blogger"! Of course it didn't start on this blog (this blog is only like 17 months old) but I've been blogging about the dogs for three years as of 16 days ago! Crazy!

It's A Beautiful Day!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my arms are dead!
^The view from our back door^

Really, though, it's a beautiful day in Oregon today, in the 60's and although we've been this warm this year already, today we're lacking the atrocious winds that we'd been bombarded with on the previous nice days. (other than last weekend but we were out of town) I'm daily reminded why I love living where I do. It seems like spring arrives overnight. While, yes, we'll backtrack to "winter" a few more times with wind and rain, the spring leafs are developing. I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, although I assume it's much the same in areas with a similar climate to ours, but it literally seems like we go one day with bare trees (and their evergreen cousins of course, which we are overflowing with) to the next day having leafs sprouting and the trees looking vibrant and alive again.

My arms aren't sore from the weather though. *wink* My parents live just under a half a mile from us (er, we from them since they lived there first) and they have started a weight training routine three days a week. My first real day of joining them was yesterday and my mom kicked my butt! I'm lifting less than the others since I haven't done any weight bearing activities in 3.5 years (crazy!) and it's somewhat depressing knowing how good of shape I used to be in, and where I am now. Yes, I have health problems that make losing weight harder, but despite the health issues I can be in good shape, and I aim on being. My shoulders are pretty dead today, but they'll get stronger as the days go on.

^Back in the day, 3.5 years ago, when I worked at the Wildlife Safari with the African Elephants^

I spent much of my day watching tv and being lazy. Then Tabatha mentioned what a gorgeous day it was so I opened up the blinds and lo-and-behold! It's a gorgeous day! Even better, it's supposed to get up to the low 70's by Sunday, although the clouds are supposed to return tomorrow. I opened up everything in the house (besides the front door since we're lacking a baby gate for it since my mom broke mine!) and am letting it air out. I've had a fever the last couple days so of course I'm wearing a hoody but it's nice to have the breeze able to come through the house!
^Yes, this is how Eclipse can usually be found, a stuffy in his mouth asking for a petting^

I even managed to take the dogs on a walk today! I've started taking all three together since I find if I take only one then I neglect the other two's walks, so we just get it all done at the same time. I walk Teddy and Kira on one leash with a coupler and Eclipse on another on my other side. Thankfully I started using Eclipse's Gentle Leader on walks again the other day because I need him to get used to it. You see, I forgot how many people just let their dogs out in the yard when it's nice, so our "safe", nearly dog-free walking route that we take Eclipse on was not so safe today. In fact there's a female yellow lab that seemed like she wanted to kill him and he wanted to kill her right back (although I doubt he would have done anything, simply his insecurity, if she'd have been lose he'd have submitted immediately). So in my arms being dead exhausted and Eclipse (and Teddy and Kira) trying to "kill" this female yellow lab, I was extremely grateful that I had his Gentle Leader on him or I doubt I could have controlled them!

^After our walk today, you can see the black spot on his tongue^

The reason for the Gentle Leader reintroduction is that now that it's spring again Alex and I are going to be going bike riding a lot and since Eclipse enjoys jogging so much, we figure he'll enjoy running with a bike much more (and it will keep him engaged so hopefully he'll ignore other dogs to some extent). Teddy knows how to run with a bike but won't be able to join us until we buy him boots for his feet, but Eclipse should be able to build up to running with a bike for a couple miles. We'll start out slowly of course since he's still young (he'll be 18 months next week) but the Gentle Leader is for my protection. While training him and seeing if running will actually keep him engaged enough to run past barking dogs he'll wear the Gentle Leader so that he won't have the strength to pull me over and injure me.
^Teddy being cute enjoying his bed^

Three more blog posts coming soon, one of some siblings of Eclipse and Eva's, one more in depth on Eclipse's dog issues, and the other on cameras once again.

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira