Monday, January 21, 2013

Bad Habit

Ninety-five days... that's how long it's been since I wrote to you, dear reader. That's almost two years in her life and I haven't updated you. I feel bad. Though when there isn't much to inform you on, there wouldn't be much of an update. Honestly, not much has happened. So you will then say, something must have happened for the sudden reappearance of a fresh post on the blog. Oh, you're in for a doozy if you care. Settle in with a cup of cocoa or whatever keeps you warm these winter nights....

Annandale, we have a problem!

So, I'll fill you in on the past few months quickly. She's grown to about full size (I hope). She's a little restless on the upstairs levels but settles down very easily in the basement when I'm around. This scenario changes when it's just Chassie in the basement in the afternoon. She walks "decent" on a leash. There are times when she is an absolute angel and then sometimes that Bellzebub returns. She loves Draco. "Loves, loves, loves," as Chassie would say. Draco only tolerates her. Though they do have very cute moments together. Overall, I'm very happy with her progression. She wants to be a good dog and at times she's perfect. There's very few times I've wanted to turn her into the pound.

Now to the story at hand. This past Friday, the third Friday of the new year I dropped Bella off at Doggie Day Camp (DDC) in the morning and called Chassie as I drove to work. This is usual. We take her Mondays and Fridays and as I leave, I call Chassie at work to give her an update. Most of the time those updates include whether or not she pooped in the middle of PetSmart. I'd be curious to know what the exact number is, but for those that care I'd say 40% of the time I'm picking up poop before she makes check in. I believe this particular Friday there was no issue, we checked in and I was out very quickly.

I have no reason to worry during the days she's at DDC. I had no apprehension after I dropped her off that morning. Chassie called that afternoon though and I knew something was amiss. The first thing she said was, "The ring is okay..." (For those that don't know, I finally asked Chassie to marry me and she agreed...phew)


(There's a blog post in that if you care, it did involve a dog, the other dog though.)

Sorry, I digress. Chassie says there's a problem. She wants me to guess. Honestly, I don't remember what I offered. She recounts the story: Jessica (manager at DDC) says, "She picked up a bad habit today. She ate poop."

For dramatic effect, I'll restate that more clearly. Bella ate another dog's fresh poop. Disgusting.

Awesome. That was what I thought. No lie, straight from the brain to the page. "Awesome." We've got a poop eater on our hands. I think back to the last of our latest training sessions with Sarah (the trainer) and how she said that some of the dogs that attend DDC eat poop but none of the class do. Oh, what would she think of us now.

The next part of Jessica's story was, "It didn't agree with her and she threw it up." Well, thank goodness for that...

So, we watched her. So far it doesn't seem to be an issue. It could just be a learned behavior, much like her trying to hump Draco when they are playing. We all know that won't work.

I now refer to her as "Poop Eater." This will hopefully be short lived, like most of the other nicknames I've given her.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Attack of the Water Bottle

A couple of weeks ago I went to Petsmart to pick Bella up from Doggie Day Care (DDC). While I was waiting for the person in front of me to pick up their dog, I watched Bella play through the glass walls. Bella was standing in front of the DDC employee and he sprayed her in the face with a water bottle.
Now, before I go on. Petsmart uses water spray bottles as a negative punishment for unwanted behavior.  Every dog must pass a behavior evaluation before they can be accepted into DDC, so most of the dogs are well behaved.
You might ask why the employees would need to use spray bottles. I would assume the spray bottles assist them in managing the collective dog behavior. I use the word assist because they should all know how to interact with a group of dogs and how to redirect unwanted behavior.
Back to the story at hand…
I cannot be totally sure, but from my perspective, the DDC employee sprayed Bella because she was too close to him and was crowding the doorway. When I saw him spray her the first time I was a little shocked but willing to reserve judgment. But when he sprayed her again almost right afterward and then raised his arm over the half glass wall, that separates the room into two small play areas, to spray another dog who was barking I was upset.
When it was my turn in line I filed a complaint with the manager. I told her Bella is a well trained dog. She is CGC certified and knows commands like “no” and “back up”. So when the DDC employee didn’t tell her any command and just sprayed her in the face twice, he will not accomplish anything. The only thing that he would accomplish with Bella would be to teach her to not like water. Dave and I do not use negative punishment. We both believe positive reinforcement is the only way we want to train Bella (and Draco). I mentioned how he sprayed another dog in a different section of the room. And that I think he needs to be instructed on how and when to use the spray bottle. I also requested water spray bottles not be used on Bella. Ever.
The manager was completely understanding and told me the DDC employee would have a verbal warning about the over usage of the spray bottle.
Afterward, when Bella and I were at home cuddling on the couch with Draco, I wondered if I over reacted. I looked down at Bella sleeping happily at home without a care in the world. I reached my hand down to pet her on the head and my hand brushed across two wet spots on her fur. Wet spots created by that spray bottle. Wet spots that shouldn’t have been there.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Boring Bella

I know our loyal followers (Hi, Claire, Jimmy, JR and Chris) have noticed Dave and I have been absent from our blog lately. And we could give you lots of excuses.
Like my sister had a baby, fall is a busy time for Dave at work, the holidays, Dave threw out his back or I broke my foot…but we don’t need excuses.
The real reason is because Bella has become boring.
We don’t have any good stories. She is a well behaved (for the most part) puppy. She is well trained. If she jumps on the couch and tries to lick Draco’s ears we say:
Leave it. Off.
And she stops licking and jumps off the couch. Sometimes we have to say it twice but she does it.
I can walk her with my boot cast on my foot. I am not suppose to but she will walk on a loose leash enough that I can walk her without losing my balance.
She doesn’t eat/chew on our belongings. She sticks to her toys. If she does have something that is not hers; we tell her to drop it and she will.
She doesn’t eat Dandelions anymore.
She doesn’t go potty in the house anymore.
She has stopped humping Draco (okay maybe this one needs a post….)
She is not perfectly behaved, she is only 15 months old. But for 15 months is a really good dog.
Here are a few of the things she knows:
With me (run to my left side and sit)
Heal (she needs some more work on this one)
Front (Sits in front on me)
Back up (walks backwards)
Leave it
High five
Pound it
Sit and wait for permission before walking through a doorway
Loose leash walking
Roll over
Sit politely for petting (she sometimes forgets this one)
Sits when I stomp my foot (not how I broke my foot by the way)
That is a lot for Dave and me; and for Bella.
But back to Bella being boring…well there is not too much to write about.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm aka Hurricane Sandy

Yesterday afternoon and last night the Frankenstorm swept through the Mid Atlantic and northeast. It was one of the biggest (in land area) ever. And some of the strongest winds the Washington DC area has ever seen in a hurricane. Plus it dumped almost 3 feet of storm in the Potomac Highlands.

But Draco and Bella didn't care about any of those stats. And honestly they didn't notice anything was different until we went to bed.

Draco doesn't like the rain. So he didn't want to go outside much but when there's a shower in April he doesn't want to go out then either. As the winds started to pick up he didn't react. Around 5pm I gave him an Ultra Calm so I thought it was doing its magic. But as it turns out the reason he didn't react to the high winds was because the tv was on and Dave and I were just relaxing watching the constant coverage on NBC4.

But when we turn out the lights and the tv off he started to stare out of the sliding glass door and became anxious. He started to pace and pant. He got on the my side of the couch then jumped down, got on Dave's side of the couch then jumped down, went upstairs panted paced and couldn't find anything to make him happy. I followed him around trying to soothe him for an hour. When nothing I did worked I decided he was on his own and I went to sleep. When I woke up 6 hours later, the power was still on, the winds were quiet and Draco was asleep by the couch on his bed.

She didn't notice anything at all. She went outside all day and ran around eating leaves like it wasn't raining and the winds were strong enough to blow her away. When we took her out around 11 when the winds were at the highest she still didn't care. Thank goodness! Let's hope her carefree attitude never changes and starts to influence Draco.

We survived the Frankenstorm of 2012!

How about everyone else?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Good Judge of Character

All has been relatively quiet on the puppy front of late. Except last night. It started out about the same as the nights have been recently. She played around for a little while and then moved to her spot on the couch and closed her eyes. She was asleep for about twenty minutes when the action started.

I was watching Discovery Channel, which was airing a special on Osama Bin Laden. About ten minutes in, I paused the television and called my parents. The image frozen on the screen was of Bin Laden himself. I spoke with my mom for a few minutes when I noticed Bella wake up. She looked at the TV, then sat up and started growling, low and throaty at first and then getting louder. The growl led to a few quick barks. I said to her, "I know he's a bad man, but he's not going to hurt you." She continued to growl. I hit 'play' on the remote and let the image change before pausing it again. Bella looked at the TV growled once more and laid back down.

I think we'll stick with football tonight.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rally-O Class #2

Bella and I attended our second Rally-O Class on Sunday. And it didn’t feel like the first class as much as I thought it would.

I remembered how to get there and Bella remembered too, she tried to drag me all the way there from the car. I recognized several of our classmates and our instructor, Patsy. Even Patsy remembered who we were.

Side note: There seems to be a trend in dog training. Everyone knows the dog’s names but not the human handlers' names. So when someone wants to get my attention they say “Bella”.

The three week hiatus from class seemed to lower the attendance. We lost one of the dog/human pairs. The sheep dog was missing from class. And Mocha the chocolate Lab/Weimaraner mix showed up late and was asked to leave early.

Apparently, while we all were working the course, Patsy asked Mocha and her handler to exit the course and took them aside. Pasty was concerned Mocha’s handler was too rough with the leash corrections. Pasty instructed Mocha's handler on the "art" of treat luring and showed her how to use treat luring to achieve the maneuvers. After a few minutes of practice, Patsy felt she was too frustrated to continue and asked her to go home and come calm down and practice the treat luring. I was shocked when Patsy told us. I didn’t notice them at all because Bella and I went onto the course before them. But I have never heard of a handler and dog being asked to leave class for improper leash correction.

Bella and I had spent the last three weeks practicing the maneuvers from class #1. The practice seemed to help us. But this week’s course was way different than last week’s (every week has a new course) and it seemed way harder. Here are the maneuvers we preformed:

Moving Down Walk Around Dog
270° to the Right
Send Over Jump, Handler Passes By
360° Right Turn
About Turn Right
Call Dog Front, Finish Left, Forward
Straight Figure 8 Weave Twice
Moving Side Step Right
Halt, About Turn Right and Forward
Down Stop
Halt, Turn Right One Step, Call to Heal, Halt
Moving Down, Walk Around Dog
Back Up Three Steps (HARD!)

Wow I am tired just remembering. We did the full course three times. And the jump several more times individually. At the first class she went over the jump like she had been doing it all her life. But on Sunday she was like, “What is that?!?!…I don’t think so, I will just follow you”. She finally got it. I think we will still have to work at it. Patsy sent us some instructions to make our own jumps at home to practice. They require a PVC pipe and a drill. I guess Dave will need to dust off his work belt...okay okay...I guess Dave will need to go buy a work belt and Handy Man for Dummies book.

I was nervous before class but when we got home Bella was happy and sleepy and slept for the rest of the day so I was happy too.

I am looking forward to the next class...I just hope I don’t have to wait three weeks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Our 2nd Rally-O Class?

The last two Rally-O classes were cancelled. The September 30th class was cancelled because our instructor had a wedding and a family reunion. And last week’s because of the rain.

This means Sunday’s class is going to feel like the first day of class all over again.

I hate the first day of class. It is awkward because you don’t know anyone and you are unsure what to do. I really don’t want to do that again. It won't exactly be like the first class. But I still don't really know anyone and I am not really sure what Bella and I are doing yet.

But on Sunday we will have our second class of the course. Bella and I have been practicing. And we got a new leash which should help my hands out a lot. The nylon leash killed my hands last time. So we are ready to go.

I just hope we have class on Sunday…