Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another Anniversary

Yesterday was significant not because Eclipse has technically reached an age where he should be more "mature" *ha!* but because I arrived home with our giant black puppy a year ago yesterday. Granted we picked her up the 23rd but didn't arrive home for almost another 24 hours so that's the day that's significant to us.
^When I look at those pictures all I hear is a collective "AWWW"^

 Now she looks so grown up!
 But still oh so adorable!
 Although for the most part, now she's all shiny and black instead of having a chocolate undercoat she does still have chocolate points, like the tips of her jowls. She also has random white hairs that have appeared in random spots on her body.

While fun, it certainly hasn't been an easy ride. Tiki has her issues and sometimes (most of the time) I doubt she'll be able to graduate as a working dog. We're doing what we can with her, though, and hope she'll be ready to go back to school when she'll leave in the next 2-3 months. (She's due to be returned just weeks before this baby is due so will be returning a bit early). Because of her issues we don't love her any less, in fact she'll always have a special place in our hearts and when she does leave I know Eclipse will miss her but also be much easier to live with! The boy has zero self-control and since she plays just as hard and constantly as he does it's like a constant 135 lb wrecking ball in the house constantly!

She's a sweet, sweet girl, though and we love her, just the way she is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

3! Already!?!

It's hard to believe these four pups entered our lives almost 3 years ago!
Can you believe this little guy
turned into this?

 Or this little charming lady 
 Became this?
 I can't believe they're THREE today!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shame shame

I got pictures! The shame part is they're from 3.5 months ago!




 The goldens don't care to cooperate, usually.
Case in point: She looks cute and he looks like he sat on a corn cob

He looks cute and she looks like she's been denied her last meal of steak and potatoes

The only thing that they look cute together for? A dog, of course
(I'm not going to admit how many bloopers could be posted right now) 
 Alex making goofy noises only worked so much...
You may have noticed there were no individual pictures of Comet...
Yeah, she wasn't so comfortable up there so we let her get down. I'll try and get some pictures of her at her (hopeful) graduation next year, though!

There are more pictures from the archives to come, bear with me

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Still No Pictures

Sorry, but all's well here. Tiki's doing well and looks great in her new collar. Eclipse is such a momma's boy it's not even funny. Teddy and Kira are their normal, easy-to-live-with selves. Nothing much going on, other than it's been hot and we've been kind of miserable.

Oh, yeah, and I'm pregnant. We welcomed little Carter into the world 10 days ago. In 6 months we'll (hopefully) be welcoming a healthy little one into our home. I'm 13 weeks today and all is well. We have another ultrasound on Wednesday that we're looking forward to. We're doing things a little different than most people choose to, though. We're not going to find out the gender of this baby! We're excited, scared, anxious, and so happy for this little one! We've been trying since May of last year, so it's been awhile coming. It's okay, though, because we're well on our way now!

I'll try to update again soon... you know, on the dogs that this blog is about.

Ally w/Eclipse, Tiki, Teddy & Kira

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wow!

Over two months with no blogs! Part of it I blame on not having a functioning computer, but that only accounts for half of that time! Now, I have a functioning computer, but one that doesn't like to read memory cards. I promise, I have pictures, lots and lots of pictures, just no way to upload them right now.

Some of our fun adventures, Tiki's in obedience class and almost a year old, Eclipse went camping for his first time ever and Teddy went for the first time in 6 years, Lucy is visiting again (oh, I haven't blogged about her. She's a month younger than Tiki, is a golden retriever and this time is staying for 9 days while her owners are on a honeymoon), we just won a collar from L^2 & Jack's collar raffle, the auction starts Monday so help as you can, um... yeah. Lots to update on, little motivation to do so! I'll post pictures when I can!

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Adventures!

Sorry, I've been a slacker, again...

First, I'll show you a major breakthrough we had with "the boy".
Why yes, that is The Boy laying down in the car! I'm so happy you figured it out! The best part, this was on the way to our outing, not on the way back after hours of mental/physical exertion. Notice a difference from past pictures? That's right, he's not in the backseat, he's on the floorboard at my feet. He still displays some mild stress signals, especially when the car slows to make a turn or comes to a stop, but he's so much more comfortable and hopefully soon he'll be just fine! (This is even without L-Theanine which we ran out of but will replenish soon as we noticed a vast improvement in his anxiety levels while on it)

Now, onto the outing and why it was such an adventure.

Well, first, isn't Tiki turning into a gorgeous dog!?! I may be slightly biased, but I find her to be a gorgeous lab and her frame is nearly perfect!
Okay, no more distractions.
HEHE! Okay, enough.

For those of you that have read my blogs since I started blogging you may recall that I have never had a dog that really likes to swim. Kira will wade up to her stomach if there's something interesting in the water (leafs are very interesting, don't ya know?) and Eclipse will get in the water but he's not big on the act of swimming yet.

Well, Tiki's a different story! A couple weekends ago we went to the lake to go fishing and have a barbecue and took along the retrievers. After awhile of no bites fishing and the other people that were there left Alex grabbed a couple tennis balls and we decided to give the dogs a little exercise. Well, if you haven't caught on yet, Tiki's a major dork, potentially a bigger dork than Eclipse although that's still up for debate. So, the dorky dog literally rolled a tennis ball into the lake. Of course she rolled it hard enough that it was out of reach of us short-limbed humans so we encouraged Tiki to get the ball. It took a few tries but eventually she gave us this:
Um, yeah, not so successful. And yes, her head went way under so she chickened out and came back to shore. (Notice Eclipse in the supportive big brother role? Yeah right, he was just waiting to tackle her!)

 Yet there was still promise:
And success! She's a driven dog, who may or may not be slightly obsessed with tennis balls, which we may or may not be working to fix when she's "working", which we may or may not be using Eclipse to help with...
So she wasn't so graceful, at least we got the tennis ball back!

Then she asked nicely so I tossed it back in the water a short way.
 This time went much more smoothly. 
 She kind of reminds me of an otter.
 See, not so supportive, just wanted to play!
We even used the time to practise impulse control with her in a sit/stay when the ball was being thrown. She looks so grown up! It's not fair, she was barely 9 months old that weekend!
Although this picture helps a little
 It reminds me of just after she got home... so much has changed since then!

This post is pretty long and full of pictures, so check back in the next few days for more pictures, more adventures and more TIKI! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

QRSTUV

WXYZ! Now I know my ABC's next time won't you sing with me?

Only two of those letters are applicable, I just couldn't help myself. This post is all about Eclipse, so if you're looking for a Tiki update come back tomorrow for that, and I apologize that it's been well over a month since I've posted an update on any of the dogs.

As you all probably know, Eclipse has a lot of anxiety issues. I think part of his "reactivity" outside is pure generalized anxiety, but I think there are more parts to it. I think he doesn't trust that I will respond to his signals and do the responsible thing and remove him from a situation he's not comfortable in. I also think a lot of his anxiety stems from me or Alex or who ever is handling him not communicating clearly with him. Eclipse isn't a guesser, well, he'll guess but the more he guesses or if he guesses and gets it wrong, the higher his anxiety goes. I feel bad, since it took this post to help me realize it, but at least now I have realized it and am acting on it. Before that post (and some posts to a dog training Yahoo! group I'm part of) I was thinking that Eclipse's issue was purely generalized anxiety so I was attempting to purely counter-condition (change the association with the "stressor" with the use of positive things happening everytime it was near) yet since we couldn't identify every stressor, it was failing miserably. (Although this post is about handling styles/communication Eclipse (and Teddy) is taking a natural pill every day that helps with anxiety and it seems to be helping. He's also got a thundershirt that he wears quite regularly and it seems to be helping as well)

I've ordered some books to help me communicate with Eclipse and identify signals he can give me that he can trust I will respond to every.single.time. In the meantime, I decided to start on what's known as an "auto check-in" and rewarding any and all offered eye contact. Since I wanted it to be as purely self-triggered as possible I put Eclipse on a long-line and took him outside in front of our house. Of course the first thing he did was run to the end of the line so I waited until he started back towards me and I clicked and gave him a kibble when he reached me. Then he realized I had kibble so he stuck close and we practiced some loose-leash walking with the long line dragging behind him as I only had ahold of the handle. He did so good! He'd rush ahead of me a bit to begin with but after 2-3 steps would turn and return to heel position. As the session went on he traveled ahead of me less and less and stuck more to my side. Now, I'm not looking for a perfect obedience style "heel" when we're out walking but I do prefer him to stay by my side just as a personal preference. There were a few times where we'd reach an area (just in the alley way in front of our house) that would put him on high alert and he'd rush to the end of the line and look around. Thankfully while we were outside the areas that freak him out were harmless as the dogs are either gone or were inside so we got to work him through those. After he stood and watched for maybe 5 seconds he'd turn back towards me and get a click and treat. He did so good! I can't express in words how good he did! It was such a great breakthrough it gives me a lot of hope for when we start practicing the techniques in the books I ordered. Hopefully someday he'll be calm in his own skin and be able to truly trust that I'll protect him.
We walked up the road a little ways
As we got further away from home his trips ahead of me got more freguent and more "intense" but he was still coming back to my side pretty quickly and taking a few steps beside me.
Then he started licking his nose and I knew it was time to turn around, so turn around we did
As if the nose licking wasn't enough of a signal he also started sniffing around, so I was happy I had listened to him and we were heading home. The only thing was I wasn't signaling him back to my side at all (unless he reached the end of the long line) so the nose lick was followed directly by the sniffing.
Thankfully I listened to him soon enough that he was able to walk back home in a nice position beside me as he wasn't too stressed out.

 We even worked on him offering eye contact and while the day was starting to get busier with a lawn mower starting and kids playing he offered me eye contact quite a bit! I want him to learn that it's OK to look at what scares him and then he can look at me and I'll take on the responsibility to get us away from it.

The moral of the story?
Listen to your dog and be responsible so they can trust that you'll protect them. Otherwise you have to not only build that trust from a deficit but ensure you act on it every.single.time to help your dog. I would do anything for Eclipse, and changing how I do my normal routine and how I communicate him is no skin off my back, but means everything for his health and happiness! Look at that face, though, how could I ignore what he tells me?

More later and we'll definitely keep you updated on our progress!