Life with Sampson and Delilah….The 411

Here Has Many Meanings

We’ve had a humid streak in the northeast for the last few months.  It’s actually been so bad that I’ve had to keep the dog’s walks to about 30 minutes.  Much more than that and we are all just about ready to drop.  Even on those mornings when we’ve been able to get out early, the humidity really does us in.

Friday night we got some big thunder storms which thankfully drove the humidity away.

Hubby and I take turns sleeping in on the weekends.  Unless Hubby has to work on Saturdays, that is his day to sleep in, while mine is Sunday.  I love sleeping in on Sundays.

Yesterday was no exception.  I’m not sure if it was the cooler, fresh air pouring in through the open windows or the Xanax I took just before bed, but I slept pretty darn good; only pulling my lazy butt out of bed just before nine.

It was so nice yesterday morning I couldn’t wait to get out with the dogs in the cool morning air.

As I’ve noted before, I’m calling the dogs back to me quite frequently.

What I found out yesterday is the Here command can be used for more than one purpose.

Delilah loves to roll in things, especially when she’s in the soccer field.

Usually it’s a clump of fresh-cut grass, but you never know with Delilah.  I’ve caught her rolling in worse.

I can tell she’s on the scent of something and I try to distract her, but some days it’s just inevitable that Delilah will roll in something.

Yesterday was one of those days.

She was just too quick for me.  Maybe it was the after effects of the Xanax but before I knew it there Delilah was rolling around on the ground.

Here, I said reaching into my treat bag.

She immediately stopped what she was doing, jumped up and ran over to me. 🙂

Focusing on just one command has been beneficial to the dogs but it has also been really good for me.  It is far easier to remember one command rather than here, come, leave-it, wait, sit, down.

Well you get the point. 🙂

Most of the people who follow this blog and train dogs, work with the positive reinforcement method.  I train this way because I want my dogs and I to have a bond and I believe that is achievable through positive reinforcement training.

A couple of years ago I stopped at a tag sale a couple of streets away. I was very impressed with a woman and her dogs, they stayed calmly in the yard and followed her around.  I told her how I was struggling with Delilah.

The woman went in the house and brought out a postcard stating she was a dog trainer along with all of her contact information.  She asked if I would like to walk with her sometime.  I told her I would love that.

I waited a day or so (I didn’t want to seem TOO eager) and contacted her via facebook.  She asked if I wanted to walk and I said yes.  I then gave her my schedule for the week.

I never heard from her again.

In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise.

This is the same woman I mentioned in my Passive-Aggressive post.

The same woman who deliberately left her dogs for seven to ten anxious, panicked filled moments, while she taught them a lesson about traveling with the wrong pack.

The same woman who thinks dogs have the capability of being passive-aggressive.

The same woman who lets her dogs roam all over the woods with no regard for anyone else or their dogs.

The same woman who has no identification of any kind on her dog.

As I stood there in the woods last Saturday listening to these two women talk about the archaic methods they use to train their dogs, I took a moment to say a prayer of thanks that I don’t travel in her pack.

Clueless

The park at the top of the street isn’t an off-leash dog park.  Heck it isn’t even a dog park if you want to be technical.  It’s a soccer field surrounded by trails.

Most people who walk on the trails either have a dog, or have had a dog in the past.  Most of these people walk(ed) their dogs at the park off-leash.

There are a lot of people who use this park, but most of them don’t care to walk their dogs with me.  When I mentioned that in a post a couple of days ago, a few of you asked why.

This is the way I see it.

I’m a conscientious dog owner.  I want to make sure that my dogs are well-behaved and respectful.  I do not want to be the reason that animal control says you can’t walk your dogs up here anymore.

Okay, I do admit I fall into that…..what did Kristine call it?

Oh yes…..MDIF (my dog is friendly) category but for the most part I’m very consciousness when I walk my dogs.

I keep my dogs close by and do not like them to be out of my sight for a number of reasons.

Poop

I always pick up after my dogs when they poop.

Okay you got me… if Sampson goes off the trail and poops, no I do not go in after that, and yes  I might sometimes push some poop off the trail if Delilah decides to squat where she’s walking.

But I never, ever leave my dog’s poop anywhere that someone could step in it.  When they poop in the field, I pick it up.

Besides, I need to make sure their having normal poops. 🙂

People

Most of the people walk with dogs, but there are some who walk alone.

Let’s face it, not all people are dog people and those people do not want to come across an unaccompanied dog that they have no idea whether the dog is friendly or not.

This person could call animal control or worse, scare or hurt your dog.

Or your dog could hurt someone else.

“S’s” dog Brady is a jumper.  Not too long ago he jumped on a mentally disabled person causing them to lose their balance.  The person went down a number of stairs, somehow (amazingly) managing to remain on his feet.  Imagine the trouble ‘S’ and Brady would have been in if he hadn’t.

Property

Delilah loves to run off the trail and scope out other people’s property.  She will scrounge around looking for food.  Maybe this doesn’t bother some people, but what if she damaged something?  Remember the time she got caught on the air conditioning unit?  It’s a good thing (for me) that she didn’t do any damage, I would have been responsible for that.

Other dogs

The few people who do walk their dogs on leash do so for a reason.  Perhaps their dogs are fearful, maybe they are runners like Delilah.  They do not want unleashed dogs rushing up to their dog.

One would hope that no-one would let an unpredictable dog off-leash but we all know that not every dog owner is responsible.  I like to supervise any meetings my dogs have.

Injury

We are walking on hiking trails.  This means there are rocks, cliffs and fallen trees.  How can I help my dog if (s)he becomes injured if I do not know where they are?

Not to mention animals.  There are wild animals that could really hurt my dogs up there.  Granted they should not be out during the day, but I’m pretty sure if they’re rabid they don’t worry about what time of day it is.

Illness

I have big dogs, I worry about bloat.  I’m very cautious about making sure we wait two hours after eating.

Sometimes I walk before breakfast, but I still make sure to wait an hour before I feed them their meal.

But there are kids who like to go into the park at night and have bonfires.  They sit around the fire drinking alcohol and baking potatoes.  Not that a potato should hurt my dogs, but you never know what else those kids are doing.

And it’s not just food items that can be dangerous, there are bugs, small animals and plants that can be dangerous to your dogs.  If you don’t know where your dog is you cannot monitor what your dog is eating.  And if you don’t know what your dog ate, you can’t tell the vet and get the proper treatment.

You get the point, right?

Most people who walk their dogs where I walk don’t think like this.  Walking with me doesn’t jive with their way of thinking.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who walks up there that even has a clue about what could happen with/to their dog.

Are you like me, surrounded by people who don’t train the same way you do?

Follow-Up Friday

For those new to the blog, my follow-up Friday provides me with an opportunity to update or revise a post from the previous week.

You know sometimes you post about something and you need an update but it doesn’t warrant a whole blog.  Or sometimes someone made a comment that really resonated with you.  Yup, Follow-Up Friday baby!

Please feel free to grab the badge and join me in recapping or wrapping up your week.   It doesn’t matter if you do it every week or just once in  a while.

This week’s posts have been largely focused on training.  If you have a dog you understand some part of your life will always include training.

I’d like anyone who’s struggling with a challenging dog to know that there is hope.

Don’t give up, check out new trainers, new sports, new groups.  Find something that works for both you and your dog.

Practice Makes Perfect –  Update:

On yesterday’s walk I took Delilah off-leash again.  As soon as I took her off, I called her back.  Anytime she got too far ahead of me, I called her back.  Most of the time she kept coming back to me on her own, or kept looking back at me, as if she wanted my approval.

I gave it to her, along with lots of treats.

Again I kept her off-leash time to a limit, then back on leash she went.

It is the small successes that add up.

Passive Aggressive – Author’s Note

I think I could write another full post on this particular topic.  There is so much I want to say, about the way people around me train and take care of their dogs.  Look for me to come back to this topic at a future date.

WTF/Whoo Hoo Wednesday – Update

Pamela was kind enough to point out that I missed a great big Whoo Hoo.  And that would be to the eight strangers who banded together to get the GDS, Misty down from the mountain.

That was my bad.  I was trying to shorten my post and get it published in a timely fashion.  And truthfully, sometimes the WTF really brings me down.

My friend at 2 Brown Dawgs blog mentioned in the comments that she read the entire thread regarding Misty’s rescue.

I didn’t.

Apparently the dog’s plight was posted on the message board and a group of people got together and went in and rescued Misty.

Then her owner came forward.

Which once again is a topic for an entire post, but only after I read the entire thread. 🙂

That’s it for me, hope you have a great weekend!

Most Improved

Well hello, most improved the instructor said in a high-pitched meant-to-praise-and-reward-your-dog tone of voice.

It worked.

Delilah lifted her head up as Jackie our instructor reached down and took Delilah’s face in both hands, bringing her own face down to deliver a kiss on the end of Delilah’s nose.

We had just completed the last class of our Intermediate Dog and Handler class put on by Pet Education and Therapy.

Jackie looked up at me and we shook hands.

Thank you, I said.

Thank you very much.

It was my pleasure, really.  You know you could title her in Rally with no problems, Jackie said.

Really? I may have sounded slightly incredulous, I mean this is Delilah we were talking about after-all.

Oh yes, no problem.  She’d pass first time in the ring.

If she did as well in the ring as she did in Tuesday night’s class, yes she could pass in a Rally ring.

Our class was held outside.  We started with a quick recap of sits, downs, looks and stays.

Then we went advanced.

We did Figure-Eights.

Using two cones and starting in the middle, work your figure-eight with your dog in a heel position.

We worked on recalls.

Jackie had us line up and then she walked up to the first dog, took the leash from the handler and the handler crossed the field and recalled their dog.  She did this super quick, so we were running.  On the second pass she didn’t tell us, but she was holding a handful of treats.

I had to call Delilah twice, the first time she didn’t even look at me. 😦

Using a jump, we practiced our wait command.

This is Mopar, he is nine months old; waiting was hard for him.

We then worked our stay commands.

Delilah was the one of only two dogs who did a three-minute down WITHOUT breaking.

Three minutes, that’s nothin! What else ya got?

She was the ONLY ONE who did a one minute sit.

Jackie says the sit stays are really hard, because some dogs want to just lie down.

Lastly we walked past another dog, making sure we had a loose leash.

I think this class was really good for Delilah and me.  I really do feel like we have formed a bond.

And I’m really grateful that Sara has no problem with me checking out another trainer.  Sometimes I think it’s good to hear the same thing from someone different.

I know there are things that Delilah and I learned in this class that Sara has tried to teach us.  Maybe it’s because I’m so comfortable with Sara that I don’t pay attention enough. :-0

Surprised, eh?

Me too.

What surprised you the most, that Delilah and I were most improved or that I don’t pay attention? 😉

WTF/Whoo Hoo Wednesday

Please note this post is not meant to make light of the deeds described here, only to make fun of, ridicule, bully and just plain beat the shit out of the idiots who commit these stupid acts.

Town wants family to get rid of pet bunny, New Haven, CT

Yeah, apparently New Haven has a zoning law that says rabbits are not allowed on properties if the property size is less than 2 acres.

I have one question.

WHY?

What’s the reasoning behind not letting a seven-year-old keep one little rabbit?  I can understand why you wouldn’t want tons of bunnies hopping about but what’s the harm in one?

What can I say about this?  It’s a bunny people, it hops around, chews wires and leaves little pellets of poop.

Oh and once a year it delivers eggs.  (Why does a bunny deliver eggs?  Wouldn’t that be better from a chicken? I guess here comes the Easter chicken just doesn’t sound right.)

I’m a little nervous for New Haven’s Easter Egg hunt next year.  I hope the site they choose is over 2 acres.

Dog Abandoned in Mountains, Colorado

I first saw this post on My Girlz Got Paws, and followed her linkage to the LOST AND FOUND page.  I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day.

Rocky Mountain High.

Yeah, someone is high in Colorado all right.

You don’t take your dog hiking, let it walk to the point that its paws get torn up and then leave it on the stinkin’ mountain.

You’ve been hiking too long and the altitude has gone to your brain.

Have you ever seen the picture of the person wading waist deep in water with their dog on their back?

Grab a vowel Vanna, there are ways to move your dog if you need to.

I often think about this while I am out in the woods with my dogs.

What if one of them became ill or were injured?  How would I get them home?

Yes, I’ve actually thought about this.  I would remove my shirt or pants if necessary and drag my dog if need be.

Relax, I’m pretty sure Hubby would be able to help me to prevent that, but I reserve the right to keep my options open. 🙂

Puppy Stuffed In Bag Thrown Out Of Moving Car In Brentwood, West Islip, NY

A three-month old puppy was thrown out in a plastic bag from a moving car.

The puppy named Joey, broke his neck, bruised his lungs and has chest trauma.  The vets are not sure if he will ever be able to use his front legs again.

The puppy also showed signs he may have been used as a bait dog for dog fighting.

Honestly what kind of sub-human species does this?

I hope they find these sick SOB’s and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

Better yet, I like the idea of a Bully Beatdown.

Have you ever watched this show?  It’s on MTV.

I know who watches MTV anymore?

This former UFC fighter takes on people who bully others and puts them in the ring with professional fighters.

Yup and then they get their asses kicked.

Oh to live in Jodi’s world. 🙂

 Miami-Dade Residents Vote to Keep Pit Bull Ban Tuesday, Miami, FL

I had hopes that Miami-Dade would be my Whoo Hoo segment but sadly ignorance still abounds in Miami.

Tuesday just over 63% of the voting population chose to keep the 23-year pit bull ban in place.

Disappointing?  Yes.

Surprising? No.

Unfortunately even though we live in the information age, many people are misinformed about this breed of dogs, mostly because of the ignorance and cruelty of a small, select group of individuals.

Let’s not take this as a defeat but as a lesson learned.

Educate and advocate.  That should be our battle cry.  Together we CAN defeat BSL.

Whoo Hoo

After all that awful shit I had to leave you with something beautiful.

John Unger and Schoep, Bayfield, WI

You’ve all seen the photo on facebook.

A man standing in the water cradling his dog.

A dog that has been his companion for 19 years.

A dog old-age is creeping up on.

When John carries Schoep into the water, Schoep finally gets relief from his aches and pains.  The comfort of his human, the rocking of the waves and the lack of pressure on his joints allows him to finally get some sleep.  Sometimes they stay there for hours.

After all the ugly and sad WTF stories, it restores my faith in humanity to see someone taking such care of their geriatric dog.

How was your week?  Anything exciting to add to this Woo Hoo post?

Passive-Aggressive

Everyone knows Delilah’s on a long leash.  It’s a pain in the bum walking in the woods with a dog on a leash.  None of the people who walk their dogs in our woods likes to walk with me because of the way I train my dogs.

None of them use treats, none of them use leashes.  There is no boo-hooing on my part, those are the facts.  The truth of the matter is, I don’t like the way any of them train their dogs either, so I’m quite content walking with my dogs.

By myself.

While on our Saturday walk we ran into Brady and his mom, ‘S.’   After a few minutes we ran into the dog trainer, ‘B.’

Trust me the irony of the ‘B’ and ‘S’ initials are not lost on me.  But those are really the initials of their first names.

‘B’ usually has at least six dogs with her, she’s told me before her car can’t hold more than six.  Some of these dogs are hers and I believe some of them are fosters.

‘B’ and ‘S’ were talking on the walk and ‘B’ said, adoption fees have gone up to $450.00 so she was not going to do it anymore.

I said, it’s better than paying a breeder thousands of dollars.

She countered that most of the dogs she gets are results of people not spaying their animals. (I’ll give her that, I have no idea where she gets her dogs from.)

We reached a turn in the path and ‘S’ and I, along with Sampson, Delilah and Brady made the turn.  Up ahead of us, was one of ‘B’s’ dogs.

B’s dog was up past where Sampson is in the photo, while B was further back than I was.

‘B’ stood at the beginning of the trail and said, he doesn’t see me.

‘S’ said go ahead and call him ‘B.’

‘B’ turned and went the other way.

It was at this point that I had called Delilah to me, and Sampson, Brady and ‘B’s’ dog all came running.  While I was doling out treats we were joined by another one of her dogs.  They traveled with us for a short distance and then they went off.

‘S’ and I stopped to chat about Brady’s behavior and how she was going to take the advice of the dog trainer at Cabella’s and jack his electric collar up because she was tired of his behavior.

Naturally I lodged my protest, but it fell on deaf ears.

‘B’ then arrived with four of her dogs, the other two still  MIA.

None of ‘B’s dogs wear collars and unless they’re chipped, they have no identification on them what-so-ever, in fact I’m not even sure they are registered with the town.  So if someone found these dogs, they would more than likely call animal control.

‘S’ said the trainer at Cabella’s (who by the way does this for free) said her dog cannot sleep on her bed with her, he must sleep on the floor, maybe even in his crate because otherwise she is not the pack leader.

‘B’ started on about a dog being passive-aggressive.  Her example was a dog jumps up on the couch and comes over and puts his paw on your shoulder.  In his mind he’s elevating himself above you, but he’s not being aggressive.

Personally I don’t believe dogs are capable of that particular thought process.

But I played Sergeant Shultz, I said nothing.

The talk then turned to her two missing dogs and she said, they chose to travel with the wrong pack, we went off to a party and they spent the time stressed and anxious.  They’ll think twice next time.

I know when you are training a dog off-leash you play a lot of hide-n-seek.  Where you pop around a tree and wait a few seconds for your dog to ‘find’ you.  This was not hide-n-seek.  She left those dogs for a full five to seven minutes.

I said, it doesn’t matter to Delilah, she’s gotten stuck before but that won’t stop her from running off.

‘B’ said, well she trained you a long time ago.

Talk about a passive-aggressive statement.  It ticked me off so bad I wanted to rip off her arm and beat her over the head with it.

There’s no passive in that aggression.

(Yes her dogs did show up.  Apparently they went to wait for her by the car and returned to her when they heard her voice.)

Practice Makes Perfect

There are actually two stories that came out of our Saturday walk.  One was AMAZING and one was aggravating.

I was going to write the entire post with both stories and then decided that the really good, exciting thing should be celebrated all by itself with nothing negative involved.

On our Saturday morning walk we ran into Brady and his mom.  We walked for a few minutes and then ran into the dog trainer who always has about six dogs with her.

If the dogs are approaching cautiously I generally keep Delilah on leash.  If the dogs are running at us, I usually drop the leash, let them greet and then pick the leash back up.

I was feeling either brave or crazy Saturday and decided to take Delilah completely off-leash.

I made her wait, while she was un-clipped and then FREE DOG.

Delilah was off-leash.

She stayed right with our little pack as we continued our walk through the woods and when I called her to me, she came right away.

I guess in retrospect I was feeling brave, because I definitely wasn’t crazy enough to leave her off-leash too long.  I kept it at about five minutes and then secured her once again.

This was the first time she has been unleashed and allowed to run in about six months.

I was so pleased with her and so proud of her.  I wanted to dance a jig through the forest.

What a good girl!

Will I ever let her start our walk off-leash or let her free in the areas I know are tempting?

I’m not sure.

But this small success proved to me how imperative it is for me to work on their recalls every single day.

Practice makes perfect.

Light Bulb Moment

Yesterday I hinted at a light bulb moment I had during our Tuesday night training class.

If there was an incident or comment that caused it to happen, I can’t put my finger on it.  All I know is I was struck by an epiphany.

I don’t work with my dogs enough.

Granted since we started taking this class, I’ve gotten better with practicing, but I still haven’t set time aside each day to work with the dogs.

I can’t expect Delilah to know what I want her to do, when I’m not consistent with my requests.

It’s not like I don’t attempt to train my dogs, it’s just that once I teach them a command, I expect they know it and then I sort of don’t reinforce it as frequently as I should.

Which brings me to our recall.

How in the world do I expect Delilah to return to me, if I only ask her for it right when she’s found a really enticing smell?

It’s not like Sara hasn’t drilled this into my head.  How many times have I heard her say, I call my dogs back about 75 times a walk?

So how is it, that it never sunk in before?

I’m reminded of learning my multiplication tables, I said it so many times over and over again that it is ingrained in my memory.

Seven times seven is forty-nine.

Which is exactly what I need to do with the dogs, I have to work it over and over again until it is second nature.

I want to work it so much that my dogs come back to me every couple of minutes all on their own.

Is that even possible?

Do you have a training schedule set aside for your dog?  How frequently do you reinforce your commands?

The bigger question is, where do you find the time?

Team Delilah

I wanted to share something really amazing that happened at Delilah (and my) training class last Tuesday.

The class is held in a smallish size gymnasium.  I’m very grateful the class is small because it gives us a bit of room to spread out and not be too close to another dog.

It was our next to the last class and Jackie, our instructor had a little Rally ring set up.  Just to give people a small taste of what Rally is all about.

Before we had the opportunity to do Rally, Jackie stated she was going to test us with our leave it command.  (Coincidentally this is also the class where I had my light bulb moment of everything I’ve been doing wrong, but that is a post for another day.)

I watched as Jackie, armed with a squeaky toy and a handful of treats approached each team in turn.  For whatever reason Delilah and I were last.  I stood facing Delilah, waiting anxiously,  worried that I would fail Delilah and myself.

Finally it was our turn.  From the corner of my eye I saw Jackie approaching from my right, I can’t tell you how close she actually came but I would guess it was within three to four feet.

I had Delilah focused on me, by having a treat in my right hand, with my right fore-finger resting on the tip of my nose.  Our gaze was intent, there is no other way to describe it, I didn’t dare look away.

Squeak.

Delilah’s head shifted slightly to her left.

Eck!  Look, I said.

Snap her head turned back to me.

Squeak, squeak.

Look. That’s right, stay focused on me.  Good girl, you’re doing fantastic.

I heard the handful of treats drop, but neither Delilah nor I looked, or even flinched.

Our eyes were locked and Team Delilah rocked.

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