Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walking, walking, walking

We've had a problem recently.  There is a new housing development going up around our normal dog park, and this had made it largely inaccessible to us.  We love that park.  It isn't well kept, but it's natural and has plenty of room, bush, and water to play in.  It's a LOT quieter than the other parks, as it is on the very edge of the city and isn't well fenced.

The other dog parks in the city tend to be overcrowded, and just aren't preferable for Epic and Dixie.  We've been taking Bailey and Legend this last week, because they can handle the crowds.

Side note: Today a pair of rammy dogs were hounding the puppy, and eventually sent him running in fear, and rolled him.  I was there to help him out (along with another dog we were walking with), while the other owners half-heartedly tried to call their dogs off from a distance.  SIGH.

As Legend has been getting quite a bit of special time lately, I took Epic for a leash walk this afternoon. I can probably count on one hand how many decent leash walks he gets in a month, as he is kept busy with other pursuits.  When I do take him out, it's usually just to the little park beside our house, where we kick around for 20 minutes.

So today I grabbed a long line and we made the 5 block journey to the *big* park.  This park covers a large piece of land, from 33rd St. up to the railway tracks along Circle.  It is under-utilized, because it's often too wet to mow properly.

Epic and I don't care.  We spent almost an hour exploring.  He chased ducks out of the slough and looked for mice in the tall grass.  He ran snapping after dragonflies, and zooming down rabbit paths.  Then we happened to wander to the other side of a stand of trees, and we found ourselves in-between the chain-link fence protecting the tracks, and the berm designed to block the train noise for local residents.

This little slice of park was empty, untouched, and extended for miles.

And for a little while, it was ours, and ours alone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

3 days later

The puppy is 18 inches, and 28lbs.

He does a lot of zooming in the yard with the other dogs, and a lot of laying around the house.  This is, in part, because none of the other boys will actually let him *do* anything in the house.  Dixie has taken a strange liking to the beast, but no one is particularly willing to let him into their space.

He did, however, manage to worm his way into my bed instead of his crate last night.  We stayed there for 9 hours, with the massive puppy curled up at my back, and Epic against my chest.

There are no guarantees that tonight's sleep will be as easy.  Epic seems to be having some kind of back or hind-end pain that is causing him to limp occasionally, and be EXTREMELY cranky.  It forced my hand a little, and I gave him some metacam in hopes of making his night easier.  We'll try to get him to the chiropractor in the next few days.

In regard to training, Legend came to us with a decent recall, and knowing "sit".  I hadn't done a lot of training with him in the first few days, because I thought I'd let him settle in a bit.  Judging from his mischievous streak, he's settled now.  After a few 5 minutes repetitions we seem to have "down" figured out, although it of course needs some work.  We also have the makings of what could be a pretty spiffy heel!

I really hate this initial training period.  I'm lucky that Legend came from a great foster home, so his learning base is really good.  I just find myself wanting to rush through the "down" and "stay" stuff, to get to the fun tricks.  And of course, there is merit in teaching the fun tricks side by side with the boring obedience stuff, but the fun doesn't really start without the basics to build on.

I've also noticed a huge difference between the way I train Epic, and the way I need to train Legend.  Epic has always been exceptionally quick to learn, and our training sessions are rapid.  He has a great work ethic, but I need to stay calm and quiet when working with him, to keep him engaged and thinking.

Nothing about Legend is quick, although he is intelligent.  I feel like I spend a lot of time waiting for Legend.  This is fine.  He's IS getting it, and he can't really move that fast anyway, as his long noodle legs tend to betray him.  The challenge isn't the dog, but rather that it's a new set of skills for me to learn, and I have to flip the switch depending on which dog I'm working with.

The size difference between the dogs will also prove to be interesting, from a training standpoint.  I'm used to working with my compact little dog.  Legend needs a lot more room to manoeuvre.

And that's where we're at right now!  Puppy is growing, but slowing.  Epic is sore and cranky.  Dixie is in love.  Bailey is a Bailey.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So I did something

Epic and I went to a rally trial the weekend before last.  Fantastic!  I saw his very best during the advanced rounds (although no Q), and we took home high in class in Novice Team with our good pal Spencer.  We had a PB score of 198/200, and I couldn't be prouder of those boys.

There was another special little boy at the trial.  I had visited with him before at drop-in classes.  He was a little staffy cross being fostered by a local trainer, and his name was Chaos.  The weekend of the trial, Chaos was going out to an adoption event.  And I got nervous.  I got waaaaay more nervous than I had any right getting, because I had no desires to get another dog.  So I tried to push him to the back of my mind.

He came home from the event on Saturday evening and he had a family interested in him.

I panicked.

His name is Legend now.  He's ~ 4 months old, and 17 inches tall (!!!).  He's currently at about 25lbs, and growing like a terrible, invasive weed.

He came home last Friday.  The first night was pretty normal around the household, because puppy was very tired from a long day of daycare, and very stressed.  By Saturday the rest of the four-leggers realized the puppy wasn't going anywhere, and they started teaching his *very important* puppy lessons.  These include subjects such as: 

"That's my toy, not your toy"
"You're not allowed to touch that"
"That's where *I* lay"
"You're not allowed to touch that"
"Don't jump on me"
"You're not allowed to touch me"
"You're not allowed to touch that"

Poor hard-done by puppy.  Dixie and Ep WILL run with him in the yard, but the house is still a bit unsettled.

So, while Epic is my heart dog, I've opened myself up and let a Legend in too.  He's sweet and snuggly, and he makes us smile.