Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Triptych: I wish my dog would stop scaring me like this.

Sometimes Chandler scares me.

This has nothing to do with flaws in his temperament or any sort of fear for the well-being of my self or my friends around him. Chandler is mostly marshmallow, or pure fluffernutter as one of my friends has put it.

It has everything to do with his propensity for mishaps.

In his first year and a half he fell into a river in flood, caught a hind leg under a root while running at full speed, got roughed up while protecting his friend Crevan from a larger dog, impaled himself on a 7 1/2 " stick, and was attacked by bees three times in a single summer.

After that I got wise...or perhaps paranoid would be a better word. I will admit it is still very difficult to watch him accelerate while we are hiking in the woods. Fortunately he seems to have learned his lesson about sticks that don't get out of his way. Sometimes it is hard to balance safety and freedom; he isn't a dog that should be kept on a 6 foot leash his entire life.

Still, things like this have the power to make me flinch a bit:

Zoom! Whee!


Stabilizers deployed, recovery achieved.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Connecticut woke up to this winter's first substantial snow.
Here are some images from Chandler's morning.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

It has been a quiet Christmas here. Ashke is feeling better now that I'm stuffing four pills into him daily to help with his gastrointestinal issues. Rowan was very busy with the new catnip toys and is now curled up sleeping. Chandler tried to help unwrap everyone's presents; I think he thought they were all for him. :)

Is this good? I'm posing with the gingerbread guy.

I'm busy with this cat toy...hey, is there a gingerbread theme going on?

No gingerbread here...why am I being asked to pose when I am recovering?

I told you I was busy with this cat toy!

Ok, I'll pose for the sake of the photo album.
Here's my best cute kitten impression instead.

Holidays are exhausting.
So many toys, so little time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Catching up: Thanksgiving Cluster

Between work, looking for a new job, holiday preparations, and an ill cat, I seem to be about a month behind in posting. Because of car repairs, other expenses, and a lack of time, Chandler and I haven't been able to attend Nosework classes. There hasn't been much time to practice at home either.

However, we did manage to get to the Thanksgiving Cluster dog show at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds on the day after Thanksgiving. We go every year and have a great time. This may seem a bit odd, considering that Chan is an English Shepherd and the cluster is an all AKC show. To be honest, I am very glad that my breed has largely avoided the diversity depleting rigors of the conformation ring, and would prefer that the English Shepherd is never even a blip on the AKC's radar. When we go to the cluster, Chan largely masquerades as a Border Collie unless somebody directly inquires about his breed.

For me, the draw to the cluster is the shopping. Vendors like Bravo, Clean Run, and Dogwise are there every year. I generally try to budget for a new collar, some treats, and maybe toys or training materials.

Usually I try to meet up with a friend at the cluster. It is always more fun to watch the Agility competitions and peruse all the stuff if you aren't doing it alone. This year was a special treat for me, because it turned out that the woman behind It'za English Shepherds, Vivian, was going to be in the area for Thanksgiving. Chan's dam is an It'za bred dog, and although Vivian has been out of breeding for a while, she was happy to have an opportunity to meet one of her dogs' descendants. We both agreed that the Cluster would probably be the most convenient place and time for us to meet.

Apparantly Chandler and I were not difficult to recognize, because Vivian and her niece walked right up to us on the grass outside the Mallory building. We proceeded to have a great day spectating at the show and talking about English Shepherds. It turns out that Chandler reminds her a lot of his uncle Pen; Pen was her "court jester", and Chandler seems to share some of those silly tendencies, in addition to being similarly colored. Vivian remembered her camera and got some pictures.

Me, Chandler, and Vivian
(Chandler, true to form, tried to wade in that ornamental pool behind us.)

My friends Jen and Laurie also showed up that day with their ES. I ended up feeling a bit like I was ping-ponging between groups for a while, but Vivian got a photo of this four dog lineup. Notice which dog has broken his sit and is grinning at the end of the line. Vivian says that happened because her niece was squeeing at the sight of four dogs sitting on a bench and staying in place. Personally, I think Chan will take any excuse he can get to be silly. Maybe I've been hanging around Jen and her excellently trained dogs too much. I don't see anything unusual with Chandler staying put and posing when I ask him to do so.

Finn, Nixie, Helo, Chandler

It ended up being a long day. I was there most of the morning with Vivian and Allison, her niece, and then I spent a lot of the afternoon with Laurie and her friend Sandy. My memories of the day remind me of a collection of short films:

...talking about agility as we watch dogs compete.

...noticing that Nosework class has made Chandler's food detection abilities EVEN BETTER, as he'd quickly home in on any treats at any of the vendors or being held by the competitors and spectators. Unfortunately, Chandler did manage to make a stealthy raid on the freeze dried turkey breast at the Bravo booth before I caught on to him. One second he was walking along airscenting, and the next I had to pull him out of the bowl of samples on the table. Very embarrassing.

...Chandler schmoozing Vivian and Allison for pieces of pretzel when we paused for lunch...and then attempting to introduce himself to the person at the other end of the table and those on neighboring tables.

...Chandler finally relaxing and looking happy as we shopped the vendors in one of the conformation buildings. For some reason, he usually wilts in the conformation buildings. I think it may be the added tension in the atmosphere around people showing.

...Laurie, toting a HUGE bag of stuff she had bought as Christmas presents for her dog friends. She was quite glad I had mentioned the show to her, because it was a dog lover's gift bonanza.

...the man at the Dogwise booth vigorously ruffling and petting Chandler while declaring what a great dog he was, and Chandler having a great time despite his tendency to be wary of men. (Woohoo, a good experience with the Y chromosome!) I have to add that the Dogwise people were great. Chandler mooched a drink of water from Sandy next to their booth; he's a messy drinker and splattered the floor a bit. Perhaps they were just happy that it wasn't urine, but they were nice about the accidental mess. Yes, I did buy a book from them. :)

...having somebody ask if Chan and Helo were English Shepherds, being shocked that anybody would know enough to ask, and then finding out that the person was a canine massage therapist who had worked on Chan's cousin Nixie.

...the girl who fell for Chandler while we were shopping for collars. I cautioned her that he was a lot of work and his good behavior was the result of years of training. She offered to train him for me for the next six years. I politely declined. ;)

...running into Michelle and Muffy, who have Chandler's grand-niece. They were showing one of their friends the dog show, and happily paused to point out that Helo and Chan were English Shepherds, just like their own Kateri.

I'm sure there were more moments that I have forgotten. It was a great day to meet new friends and also see some old ones. Hopefully we'll have as good a time next year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nosework Outtakes

The K9 Nosework article that I wrote for the the English Shepherd Club's Newsletter, the Shepherd's Call, should be arriving in the December edition very soon. I thought it might be fun to post some of the outtakes from my photo shoot for the article. Chandler had a LOT of fun while I was taking photos; it seems that I still have the class clown on my hands.

Lay on the mat? I thought you said PLAY with the mat!

Boxes are fun!

Boxes are so much FUN!!!

Pay attention! It's in here...

...did you get that? Good. Now I'm going to go...

...and play with my mat some more!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chandler & the turkeys

This is an old Chandler story from August 2007; he was two at the time.
I am very thankful that his recall has improved.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Chandler has been discovering the joys of suburban life.
Late last afternoon I was out in the yard "walking" my two indoor cats,
while talking on my cell phone. I had just hung up when I see the
local wild turkey and her seven chicks walk around the corner of the

My first thought was"uh oh."
Yes, Chandler had already launched himself, and he *totally* ignored my
recall yell.

Turkeys and dog disappeared around the corner of the house to a
soundtrack of much gobbling, and then some sort of poultry explosion
happened. Suddenly there were turkeys flying everyplace.

My second thought was "wow...I don't think I've ever seen a turkey fly
that far." Chandler had managed to scatter them across three or four
sizable suburban lots.

My third thought was "Bad dog!"

When I managed to get to the scene, Chandler was frantically rushing
about in the woods next to the house, looking for turkeys. There was no
way I could go catch him on that slope, and it took multiple commands to get him back
in the yard and calmed down. He rushed down in response to my recall once,
then zoomed off to search the woods again. Finally I managed to get him
to come out of the woods.

The cats were looking at Chandler in disgust like he was a maniac...
or had ruined a perfectly good chance to stalk turkeys.
I retrieved his 30 foot lead from the garage and practiced a few recalls
in the back yard.

Of course, he did those recalls just fine...the distracting turkeys were gone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

This one is for you, Sue. :)

Chandler and I went to a holiday fair hosted by the Protectors of Animals this weekend.
While at the fair, Chandler charmed a lot of people and posed with the "Clauses".
I find this photo apropos, given that we are about halfway between Halloween and Christmas.
Mrs. Claus seems to be keeping a wary eye on the smiling demonpuppy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

All in the family

Chandler's grand-niece Kateri attended a Nosework Workshop in October. Her owner, Michelle, has given me permission to link video footage here.

This is the footage of her second run:

...and her third:

I think Kateri has that "wag while you work" thing that Chandler does. :)


She's showing some good tenacity here to push the boxes over, and is also very discerning to figure out that the food is in the top box. Kateri seems to share Chandler's tendency to make a systematic search. Luckily for Michelle, she doesn't seem to share Chandler's tendency to run into the room at warp speed.


I find it very interesting that Kateri carefully checks the box where the food had been in the previous run. This may be due to residual scent, but Chandler has shown a tendency to check spots simply because he remembers them.


Kateri seems to be moving very enthusiastically between boxes in this last clip, although she still isn't quite the rocket that Chandler usually is. She's doing a really good job of finding the food too. I find it fascinating to see the differences in the way she and Chan work. I hope Michelle goes on with Nosework training so we can do some practicing together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

From Chandler...

...and Rowan...

...and Ashke, who is good at the grumpy look, but not the possessed look.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Foxhill Fun

Continued Nosework, Week 6

Construction Edition!

Tails U Win is expanding into the front of the building that the training center occupies. During our last class, we snuck through the secret passage (a blocked off area that used to be a closet cubbyhole) and explored the parts of the building that were being renovated. I think the expansion will almost double the size of the training center. During the initial tour, Chandler wanted to climb the stairs and check out the second floor. He was the only dog that seemed driven to go upstairs and check out the entire space. I'll just put that down to having a smart and curious dog. Unfortunately, after our explorations, we didn't have as much time to do our scent searches, but it was worthwhile to do the searches in the new space available. When we were finished, we blocked the opening in the wall again, and an impressive set of dusty footprints led across the training room and disappeared straight into the back wall.

Run #1

Unfortunately, construction meant bad light conditions, so it is practically impossible to see Chandler making the second find in this room. It is hidden in a pile of vertical construction stuff by the door. I had trouble locating it even when Chan was standing with his nose practically on top of the hide. The box hide was easier, although Chan is apparently excited enough to want to continue searching before he even collects his reward for finding the first hide.

Run #2

Chan is a trooper. His enthusiasm didn't diminish even when a stray screw got stuck to his paw. He shook it off, and got down to work. The first two hides in these rooms were easy to find, but we had more difficulty on the last two. I think we need to do more practice with multiple hides using only food. I think if he eats the food, and then the hide is gone, he'll pick up better on the idea that he has to find the next hide, and not go back to a previous one.

Run #3

D is for downpour. It is also for Distracted Dog. Once again we have trouble with multiple hides; and the total downpour outside was also a distraction, as Chandler was quite interested in looking out the window at the miniature waterfall coming off the roof. I think part of the problem is that I have some trouble reading his alert signs since he will sometimes move away from a hide before he gets his treats.

This footage was from our last formal Nosework class; at the moment I'm taking a break from classes because my work schedule has gotten very busy in October. I'm planning to do some informal practice around home, if time permits.

Continued Nosework, Week 5

We resumed outdoor searches during week 5, and Chandler seemed to have gotten over his tendency to be HORRIBLY distracted during the initial searches.

Run 1

There's some really good enthusiasm visible here, although I am beginning to wonder if Chandler also thinks that stepping on the boxes is fun. Given how goofy he can be at times, I would not put it past him. Interestingly, in this run Chandler identifies the correct box only after examining it twice, which seems a bit odd.

Run 2

In this run, Chan only needed to sniff the box once to identify it. He did get a bit distracted when examining the second box; there must have been an interesting smell on the grass nearby. However, he did return to the task at hand and examine the other boxes. I must say his indication style in this run was making me feel like I should be part of a comedy routine- try to circle around the dog and open the box while he is shoving the box in the opposite direction!

Run #3 which we continue our comedy routine and I orbit Chandler. (Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?)

Run #4 which the dog's owner has learned in which direction to move to intercept a box being pawed. :)

Run #5

This search along the side of the building had a lot of possible distractions. Most immediate were the poop clean up bucket and any interesting scents that might be coming from inside the dumpster. There were also some leaves and other "flotsam" behind the dumpster. Despite these challenges, Chandler quickly homed in on a scent coming from the right side of the dumpster. The birch scented Q-tips were near the rear of the dumpster in a tube that ran along the side of the dumpster. I assume a dump truck somehow uses these tubes to grasp the dumpster when it is emptied. The scent ended up blowing through the tube, and I could not initially see where the Q-tips were hidden. I find it interesting that Chandler, with no more direction than me standing up, independently moved to examine the rear of the dumpster in more detail, including standing up on his hind legs to look over the top.

After the dumpster find, the other hides were relatively easy. There was one on the front wheel of the car, and one on the corner of the building. Interestingly, Chandler independently made a choice to search the car. This is the first time he has searched a car without being directed toward it.

Run #6

This building exterior search was more challenging, because this area tends to be used as a canine latrine. Chandler, of course, took this as an invitation to leave his mark and demonstrate his "manliness", as I call the ground scraping procedure. He wasn't as focused for this last run, and missed the hide on the brown pipe during the first pass, and then initially missed the hide near the concrete ledge. I think these problems occurred because of the greater level of distractions, and perhaps fatigue. Otherwise, Chandler was typically Chandler; he was the only dog that troubled himself to jump on the ledge and walk along it.

Overall I was pleased with this week. Chandler seemed to be progressing in his search skills.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday Boy

Chandler is five years old today. I think we've done well together, despite the fact that I was crazy enough to want a serious working breed as my first dog. We've made it through accidents and his fear issues. I think he is a very happy dog, although we're still a bit rough around the edges in places. I know he'll be happy today, considering that he gets cake.

**Above: What would be the "embarrassing baby photo" if Chan was human. Fortunately, he's a dog and won't complain.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Today is the funeral of a friend that I never got to meet.

She was a member of the English Shepherd Community, and for a long time I only knew her through her contributions to the English Shepherd Club, and her presence on discussion lists. This changed when I offered to paint an ornament to match a person's dog for an online auction to benefit National English Shepherd Rescue. Marcia won the ornament, and quickly talked me into painting three more for her. She wanted to have remembrances for her dogs that had already passed. I got to know her much better during the flurry of emails that passed between us while I was getting those ornaments "just right". Her love for her dogs was obvious, and she missed the three that were gone.

As I shall now miss her. Yet I know my sadness cannot compare to the pain her family has felt since the day she died in a tragic attempt to save her puppy. My thoughts and sympathies are with them, and will be for some time to come.

Goodbye my friend. I wish we had been able to meet in person. I wish I could have introduced Chandler to Keeva, and that we could have spent hours talking about dogs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 4

After last week's challenges of a novel search area, blowing wind, and possible critters, it was pleasant to back up a bit and continue practicing indoor searches in the training room. This week's challenge turned out to be dying camera batteries. Oops. We did make it through all the searches, but in the last three the camera kept turning itself off, so I ended up with some choppy video. I spliced everything together using Windows Movie Maker, but some image quality may have been lost in the transition.

Run #1

I'm glad to see that Chandler seems to have gotten over his inability to focus during the first run. That is a bit improvement over last week. I think I should try to minimize his distractions in new search areas until he gets a bit more reliable. Accordingly, I also need to work on his drive and the difficulty of the searches in areas he is familiar with.

Run #2

Chandler is a bit hard on boxes. One thing I need to work on is learning to read the more subtle cues he makes when indicating a find.

Run #3

Poor, poor suffering boxes. Also of note is Chan's rather systematic search technique.

Run #4

Most interesting in this short run was how definite Chandler was about indicating that the lower box had the hidden scent. I think this is the first time that this sort of indication has been obviously clear.

Run #5

I really should have given Chandler credit for finding the scent tin that was left out on the table. It wasn't his fault that somebody had forgotten it there, and technically it was in the search area. It seems counter intuitive to say "everything in here is the search area, except (whatever)" if there is no kind of visual definition of the limits of the search area.

Also of note is that we need more practice on the brown boxes that don't have the foldable lids. If Chan can't pound on a box, I have more trouble seeing his alert.

Run #6

At about 1:22 into this run, Chandler does something very interesting. He leans up against a wall to check a spot where scent had previously been hidden. There is no floating scent to lead him to this spot; he simply remembered that it had been there before, and decided to check it. In fact, I don't believe scent had been hidden there for several weeks. The trainers seemed to think that this sort of memory was unusual.

Chan seems to be getting a bit tired in this run; he looks like he has less "oomph", although he does shove the box pile around and make the last find in the corner near the door. I think he tends to initially miss stuff near the entrance because he wants to zoom into the room.

Run #7

I'm not sure why Chandler pounded on the empty box. Residual scent? Scent floating from the chair? Maybe he was running out of steam and wanted to see if he could get rewarded for a false indication? He just likes to pound on boxes? I suppose it could be any of those. The important point is that he is willing to redirect and continue his search when I show him it is empty.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 3

I fear it has been a busy few weeks, and I am very behind in my Nosework posts; so without much ado, here is week three of "Continuing Nosework".

Run #1

Once again, Chandler seems to be having trouble getting into the groove of things at the beginning of class, so much so that we abort the search and start over from the beginning. I think a number of factors contributed to this problem.

1. Chandler is still distracted by the different dogs in this new class.
2. A totally new search area.
3. Use of the tan boxes rather than the white ones.
4. Background barking from a dog he is unfamiliar with.
5. It was a little windy.

All of this adds up to too many distractions, and Chandler initially can't focus on his job, although he does eventually indicate the hide. If you look at his tail, especially in the first segment, it is waving all over the place. It looks frantic compared to his more usual "happy search" wag. He doesn't seem to settle until after he shakes in the second segment.

Run #2

Whew! My Nosework dog seems to have returned!

Run #3

Yes, Chandler is back on the job. His rapid tail wags may still indicate excitement, but he has more focus, and his tail isn't flailing at the air in all directions.

Run #4

This search had three hides along the building. The one in the plastic hummus container that was hidden on the picnic table was an easy find. Chandler had a little more trouble with the other two. #2 was near the clean up bucket, and the odors of dog waste may have proved distracting, although Chandler seemed to be better at ignoring them than the other students. I think the odor for #3 was flowing along the building; that would explain why Chandler did a lot of sniffing near those dents in the siding.

Run #5

This was another difficult run. The three hides were somewhere around a line of big rocks at the edge of the woods. Not only was there possible "critter" scent to deal with, but the rocks had probably been urine marked by dogs coming off the nearby agility field. I think Chandler did fairly well, despite the distractions. He did pass by one hide, but he found it on the second attempt. I do have to say that I am amused by Chandler's technique for finding the final hide: climb on all the rocks (for the fun of it?) and come down on the scent from above.

Overall this was a tough week. I think a number of factors conspired to make things more difficult for the dogs. Personally, I would prefer to back up a bit and work on Chandler's enthusiasm and focus; once those are solid, then the difficulty and distractions can be raised.

Monday, September 13, 2010


This post is for Ziva, whose puppy photo is posted above. I just found out this morning that she died of some kind of acute illness last year. She was Chandler's sister, although she was from the litter after Chandler's. I feel so sad and sorry for her owners. From what little I know, she had that sweetness of character that is one of the facets of Chandler's complex temperament. I'll be shedding a few tears tonight for this loss that really isn't mine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 2

An additional student showed up for Nosework class this week. The new dog was a gorgeous female German Shepherd that turned out to be a Fidelco dog. Unfortunately, she did not make the cut to be a guide dog because of some hip structure issues, but she was lucky enough to stay with the lady who had been her puppy raiser.

We were outside again this week, as the weather was decent. It was slightly humid, but not horribly hot at the time our class was held. Shade from the training center's trees was enough to keep us comfortable between runs.

Run 1

I think Chandler got distracted by the sound of squealing brakes that was coming from a nearby warehouse. During his fear periods he spent a sizable amount of time being afraid of trucks, forklifts, motorcycles, and things that go "beep" when they back up. After a lot of work and time he is much better, but sometimes my frightened and unsure dog emerges again. That didn't happen here; Chandler's tail remained up and waving, but the noise was enough to make him want to get a good look to determine it wasn't an immediate threat, I think.

Run #2

Chandler says he wants to search the trainer's car. It is just off camera, and he is absolutely certain there is food hidden in it; after all, he can smell the food. Cars are fun to search anyway because interiors sometimes contain squeaky toys. Unfortunately for him, all Nosework searches are done on the exterior of the car, so he never gets to check out the interior. For this particular run, once he is notified that the search area does not include the car, Chan gets to work and finds the scent in the correct box.

Run #3

Yes, that car is still fascinating, but Chandler can be redirected away from it. I can't say quite the same for the grass. I was under the impression that I had a sheep dog, not a sheep, but Chandler seems to be a bit confused on that point. This was a run that had four separate hides along a building. Because of the (apparently succulent) grass, it turned out to be a bit of a struggle. Chandler has always enjoyed a bit of grazing where possible, but I must admit his timing surprised me in this case. Maybe he figured he could eat his grass and get his meatballs too? Given his talents at multitasking, I would not put it past him.

Run #4

While Chandler did very well searching the end of the building despite loud industrial noises (and I am very proud of him for that), the grass turned out to be my new outdoor nemesis. So I took a tip from farmdog training 101 and simply stopped. In farm dog training this usually means that a dog that is not focused on farm chores is tied to a fence where he can watch everything, but is not allowed to participate. Job motivated dogs do not like this. In this case I quietly walked back to the shade, sat at the picnic table, and let Chan watch all the other dogs work. Chandler was less than thrilled. However, when we resumed our search AFTER the other dogs had taken their turns, Chandler ignored the grass and successfully found the hidden scents. Unfortunately, I have no footage of this final search, because my trainer was not prepared to be a cameraman again on short notice.

Overall, this was a mixed week. Chandler is still getting distracted, but in many ways that is typical for him. We also did not get to practice at all during the week, as my job had suddenly become very busy, and I was putting in extra hours.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Continued Nosework, Week 1

Chandler and I are in some sort of K9 Nosework limbo right now. The rest of our class did not move on, so we essentially got tossed into the group that was doing a beginner's class. It is an intermediate class for them, but the trainers are making it a bit more challenging for Chandler. (Or perhaps I should say they are having great fun being diabolical about where they hide the scent.) The two other dogs in class are a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Maltipoo. Unfortunately, neither of them seems to be very dog social; the Pointer seems uninterested and the Maltipoo greeted Chan with a curled lip and airsnap while his nose was still at least a foot away. Of course, that could have been a resource guarding issue, as Chan was busy snuggling up to the Maltipoo's owner at the time.However, from the amount of whining that Chandler did, I think I can safely say that he misses his Whippets.

Run #1

I will admit to wondering what happened to my Nosework dog during this run. The scent is in the third box, but Chan seemed to have some problems finding it, although he gave that box a few extra sniffs. He just seemed to lose focus. I've thought of two possible explanations. First, it is possible that he was still overly excited and distracted by having two new dogs in class. The other possibility is that the q-tips were hidden in a new container. Most of our finds have been in metal containers, either Altoids boxes that have been altered for Nosework, or purpose made Nosework containers. This time the scent was contained within a plastic hummus tub that had holes punched in its top. It is possible that the different plastic scent of the container threw Chandler off.

Run #2

Woohoo! My Nosework dog has returned!
...and he still loves to pound on those boxes.

Run #3

By the third run, Chandler seemed to have settled back into his job. He was systematically checking boxes as he swept through the room.

Run #4

This was an interesting adaptation of Chandler's alerting technique (translation: box pounding) to an elevated hide. I really am beginning to suspect he enjoys making as much noise as he can with the boxes.

Run #5

This run had two hides, and ended up being shot in two parts. In this run Chandler suddenly transformed into Distracted Dog. The culprit was a set of clear plastic bowling pins that had colored balls inside them that rattled. Chandler thought they were great; maybe he does like making a lot of noise and commotion. One nice thing about Chandler is that he does redirect well without getting upset. Of course, he is persistent and had to be shooed away from the toys multiple times. I think it took him a while to find the hide under the basket simply because those wonderful bowling pins were nearby. I'm rather torn about this. I do like that he lives with a lot of joy- or as one of my friends has put it "Chandler has gusto." However, play breaks are a bit problematic in the middle of a Nosework course. I'm not sure what to do about this. Maybe I can teach him that he can rattle the toys after he has finished the course?

Run #6

Woohoo! Bowling pins! *sigh* This video has a better view of the infamous bowling pins. However, Chandler did settle into doing his job- or at least he did after being directed away from the food that belonged to our classmates that was sitting temptingly on the table. His thoroughness checking the basket where scent had been hidden during a previous run was amusing. I also find it notable that he reared up against the wall to check the spot where scent had been hidden in previous weeks. After the run I was told he might have showed interest in the blue block because they had hidden scent there, but they had moved it because they were afraid he'd tumble the block around and they would not be able to get it back out.

Run #7

Our third car search was very successful. In retrospect, I find it rather ironic that Chandler had already caught the scent and was beelining toward it at the time I was instructed to refocus him upon the cars. The boy works fast when bowling pins aren't involved. :)

Overall, this was another fun week of Nosework. I'll have to work out what to do about the bowling pins, but I'm happy as long as Chandler is enthusiastic and wagging.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 6

Sadly, this was our last week with the Whippets. Volley is off to agility class, and Skylar is taking a break from Nosework. They are a lot of fun, and I think Chandler will miss them. I know I will.

Run 1

This was one of Chan's quick runs directly to the hide. Interestingly, he doesn't wait for me to open the box and feed him, but instead goes to check another box. This could pose problems if I am not sure whether he has really found the hide. I wonder if it is a case of him being so revved up that he cannot stand still, given that he shakes right after returning to the original box? Of course, he may just want to check the second and third boxes. I really wish I knew what he was thinking.

Run #2

In which Chandler gets to indulge in pounding upon a box.

Run #3

The beginning of this run belongs in a blooper reel. When I said "Search", Chandler immediately shot over to his mat in the waiting area and flopped down on it. Perhaps I had been giving him a bit too much reinforcement for staying quietly on it while Volley was doing her search. Otherwise, I'll just have to put it down to hooliganism.

Despite the false start, we pulled ourselves together and continued searching for the two hides. At about 45 seconds in, Chandler gives me the LOOK after making a find. I generally translate these as "Hey, numb-nose, it's here!" The second hide was at the far end of the table. I think we need more practice finding scent in odd places.

Run #4

Chandler certainly loves his boxes. He seems more enthusiastic about the hides that are in them. Perhaps he finds banging on boxes intrinsically rewarding. The second hide was up on the wall. I think he finds hides that are greatly elevated to be the most difficult. The end of the video is rather interesting, because Chan does walk straight to the third and final hide after taking his "thinking break". Maybe he really did need to take a short break?

Run 5

Sorry...I ran out of memory card on this one. He found it. I don't remember where it was, but he did find it. :)

Nosework Fun Match

The fun match turned out to be an education. It was the first time that Chandler and I searched for scent dipped q-tips that were taped to objects.. The hides were not as easy to access as we had worked with thus far in class. I think Chandler was a bit confused because nobody from his class was present, and we were searching areas that were unfamiliar and also not scattered with the Nosework boxes he is accustomed to.

Run 1- The bathroom.

Most notable in this search is the LOOK that Chandler gives me at about 36 seconds. Apparently, it is his way of notifying me about a find when he can't pound on a box with a paw.

Run 2- The office

I imagine that most real Nosework trials would not occur in areas where yummy dog treats and interesting dog toys were immediately accessible. We had some problems with the cart because Chan knew there was GOOD STUFF on it. I had to step between him and what I think was a treat pouch that had been left on the cart's lower level. As can be seen in the video, Chan is very persistent. Perhaps he considers the food a valid find after having trained for weeks using food. Because of the amount of distractions, this was a very tough search.

Run 3- Building exterior

Distracted dog strikes again! Well, we were the last team to run through the course. I think Chan was more interested in sniffing out the trails of the 20 or so dogs that had searched along the building before he did, and he was most interested in the crumbs of treats that he found just below the hide. Obviously, I need a bit more practice getting his nose off the ground in distracting circumstances.

Run 4- The car

I think there might have been some initial confusion where Chandler thought he should be searching the building again. However, we did get back on track and eventually found the hide in the car's body behind the right front wheel. I don't think Chan did too badly, considering that was only his second car search.

Overall, the fun match made me realize just how much more practicing we need to do, especially with distractions. However, I am very proud of Chandler. At about eight months of age he went through a fear period where he decided all men were EVIL. He's mostly over it, but occasionally will have a barking fit over some person that he considers suspicious or somehow intimidating. His breed does have a significant suspicious/protective streak. I consider these occurrences a glitch in his judgment about what is really dangerous. Both the judge for this fun match and our timer (who kindly also consented to video our run) were very tall men. Chandler did great, even when we were working in small areas like the bathroom or office.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 5

It was less hot and humid on Thursday, so our class was able to take advantage of the weather and do some outdoor searches. In between runs Chandler entertained himself by repeatedly attempting to steal a rabbit fur covered squeaky toy that belonged to Volley. I watched him very carefully to be sure he didn't manage to eat a piece of the fur, like he did last week.

Run 1

As we were in a more distracting outdoor environment, food was included in this hide. Chandler was not distracted, so it was a quick find.

Run 2

No food. No problem. :)

Run 3

This search was interesting because Chandler actually missed finding the box on the first sniff. Instead he focuses on a different box nearby. I'm really not sure what was going on, unless the scent had somehow traveled and pooled.

Run 4

I think Chan is slowing down a bit as the temperature rises. This is a more leisurely find.

Run 5

I really have to wonder if Chandler peeked while the scent was being placed on the pipe. The only other possibility is that scent was being swept down the side of the building. I really wish I had noted which way the breeze was coming from.

Run 6

This was our first attempt at a car search. Given that we have neighbors that like to greet Chan while they are in their cars, I may have some difficulty teaching him not to place his paws on the car. This "no paws" issue may prove thorny, as Chan's favorite find indication is to paw at the box. I think he was a bit at a loss as to how to indicate there was scent behind the license plate.

Run 7

Here is our first attempt at searching the exterior of a building. The scent is hidden on the pipe just past the door. Once again, I think Chandler is at a bit of a loss how to indicate a find when he can't paw at it.

Run 8

Unfortunately, I didn't get footage of our last search. It was set up like an Odor Recognition Test. There were 12 boxes set up in a "U" shape in one of the training rooms. We had 3 minutes to figure out which box had the birch scent inside.

It took Chandler 14 seconds.

I'm proud of my boy. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: On the dock.

I really love my new camera.
I also love friends that help me edit photos while I am learning how to do so.
Thanks L.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Updated photo of Kateri

Here's a more recent photo of the birthday girl. I'm glad you liked the birthday message, M. Kateri has grown up beautiful.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Snapshot Sunday: I LOVE my new camera.

Happy Birthday Kateri!

Today is Chandler's grand-niece Kateri's first birthday.
She lives in the next town over.
Happy Birthday, Kateri!
The photo is from when she was about 6 months old.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 4

Thursday did not have an auspicious start. Rowan ran me over just past 6 am, demanding breakfast, so I crawled out of bed and fed the cats and Chandler. Usually I can get some more sleep after feeding everyone, but a thunderstorm rolled in, and I gave up on sleep and got an early breakfast of my own.

The Labrador was back in class this week, and a lady with a cattle dog and merle Border Collie (I think) had also joined us. She kept her dogs out in the other room. Chan wasn't as fast at making finds this week for some reason. I'm not sure whether it was stress because of the early storm, the presence of new dogs, lingering scent in the boxes from the previous beginner class, or something else.

Run 1

The simulated effects of an earthquake about 30 seconds into this video were caused by yummy food in a bowl on the table where the camera was. I really can't blame Chan, and I don't know why the food wasn't in a sealed container. It seems odd that it wasn't after the dogs have spent weeks looking for food in boxes.

Run 2

I think Mr. Hooligan was attempting to stage a raid on that bowl on the table again. Nancy blocked him, and he decided to get down to work. I find it interesting that Chandler looped out around the yellow cone before homing in on the correct box. It makes me wonder what way the scent was flowing.

Run 3

I do like Chan's enthusiasm...however, I did have to restrain him from checking out the table again...although he does manage to bop the camera. It is interesting how much "shaking off" Chandler did while searching. I think it is a sign of him being a little bit stressed during this particular class, maybe because we won't let him check out the table.

Run #4

I do wish the I had better footage for this run. There are two hides, one of which is about 3 feet up on the right wall. He had difficulty with it. I need to find the time to practice height with him. Interestingly, he quickly finds the second hide on the back of the chair, even though he had walked past it several times previously.

Overall, I found this week's class a bit perplexing. For whatever reason, Chandler seemed to have more difficulty working.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gratuitous Video Footage Tuesday: Whippets R Fun

Ever since Chandler began to show a tendency for hindquarter strains and injuries related to his loose hips, I've been cautious about taking him to dog parks, despite his sociability. There is always the chance that a more assertive dog will make him over-accelerate or just plain not allow him to stop. These outings pretty much ceased when he reached his second birthday and his natural bossy English Shepherd nature started blossoming. There was just too much risk that he'd try to be the "fun police" and get himself in past his abilities; you never know what's going to walk in through the gate at a dog park.

Because of this most of his canine social outings have been with smaller groups of my friends and their trained and socialized dogs. Both of the Whippets in Chan's nosework class are quite nice, so I've slowly been letting him play with them. Being light, they also essentially rebound off him even if they collide. Last week, I quickly removed Chan when I thought he was getting a bit too bossy. This week my smart boy did not even try to herd Whippets.

First on the scene here is Skyler. His sister Volley arrives later and takes full advantage of her female prerogative to leap all over the boys. Skylar's owner is the one busily praising Chan for polite play. Please excuse my chuckling in the background. ;)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Intermediate K9 Nosework, Week 3

It has been a busy week. Between work and other concerns, I had no time to practice any Nosework with Chandler. However, he was in high spirits when we arrived at Tails U Win Thursday morning. Apparent, Skyler the Whippet was also, because Chandler and I were greeted with happy "wow-rowrow"s as we exited the car. Once in the building, Chandler didn't want to wait for the finish of the Beginner's Nosework class that proceeds our intermediate class. I diverted him by walking away from the door to that classroom, and ended up introducing Chandler to a couple elementary school age girls who were waiting for their mother to finish class with the family dog. The youngest was really taken by Chandler, and declared that he was "talented and sweet." I'm so glad he has gotten over that single bad incident with children that happened when he was two; he seems to be a magnet for little girls, and it is so nice to have a dog that is happy to see children rather than nervous about what they might do.

It turned out that the Whippets' owners had also not managed to find time to practice during the week, and the lab once again had to miss class. I don't know if it was the lack of practice or the slightly rainy weather, but both whippets seemed a little confused and off their game during the first run. As far as Chandler goes, perhaps the girl's words about talent were prophecy, because his attitude can probably be best described as:

"I'VE BEEN WAITING ALL WEEK FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Chandler sees boxes scattered all over the room. Chandler wants to sniff. Chandler wants to search. Chandler does not want to play with the Whippets. Chandler wants to work.

...and so he did.

Run 1

Sorry, the camera was turned on a little late for the first run. Showing his typical excitement, Chan shot into the middle of the room, and then had to circle back to find the correct box.

Run 2

Mr. Hooligan still wants to mess with the camera. I'm not sure why. It could be the quirky sense of humor that I think he has. He also likes to poke the cats with his snout to make them mew and complain. I wouldn't put it past him to be amused that we jump to protect the camera.

The "waiting area" behind the ring gates is also visible for the first time in this shot. If we're back there, I generally keep Chan distracted so he's not trying to peek out through the sheets. My class seems to have dispensed with the crates because everyone is dog friendly, so I brought a mat to do some matwork with Chan in between runs.

Run 3

This run is interesting because Chandler seems to catch the scent in the middle of his initial zoom into the room. He quickly turns around to zero in on it.

Run 4

This run was very quick. It looks like Chan is not having trouble with hides on top of chairs anymore. Chandler is doing very well, and Nancy wants to know if Chan is signed up for the Sniff Weekend the training center is having on the 14th and 15th of August. He is; at least for Sunday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Run 5

This was a rather odd run, because Chan immediately found the correct box, but then seemed to dismiss it. He actually "hit the brakes" to circle back to it the first time. I'm not sure why he left it to check out other boxes. It could be because the birch scented q-tips were in a small round tin rather than the larger Altoids box that he was used to. Eventually, he did come back to the correct box.

Run 6

There were two hides on this run.

Mr. Hooligan wants to check out the food dishes on the table. You never know, there might be something in them...and there is some birch scent floating around back there.

That little round tin is still giving Chan some trouble. and he paces right past the cone that it is hidden in several times. However, to me, it seems like he goes straight back to that cone when he realizes there is another hide to find. Maybe he knew it was there because he just passed over it? I may have to practice more multiple hides with him. Unfortunately, I need more scent holding tins before I can do so.