Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bella vs. the Baby Pool

On Sunday, Chassie and I went over to Sawyer and Ashley's condo to celebrate our birthday and to see their place for the first time since we helped them move in. While we were there Sawyer asked if we had taken any video of Bella. He had let us borrow a camcorder (is that 21st century terminology?) when she was about to graduate from Intermediate class. We haven't recorded anything. Sawyer's response was "Your puppy is going to grow up and you won't have any video memories of her." Now that's a very good point Sawyer.

To help remedy that situation, we returned home on Sunday with a helium balloon in tow (remember it was a birthday celebration). We gave her the balloon, wondering what her reaction would be. She liked the string on the balloon more than the balloon itself. We taped the ensuing proceedings, seven minutes of it to be precise. I understand the general public does not want to watch seven minutes of footage for the few highlights that occurred, so as soon as we can get the tape to our editor (Sawyer) and figure out how to post video to the blog, you, faithful reader will be the first to see.

Our second idea, which actually may have been the first, on the way home from Sawyer and Ashley's was to get a baby pool for Bella. We decided that since she is a lab and waterproof, she may enjoy getting in the pool for a while. We don't have a lake or other body of water easily accessible, so this may be our opportunity to introduce her to being submersed in water. That sounded like a brilliant idea.

Monday afternoon, I headed over to the local K-Mart and saw a bunch of these baby pools directly in front of the door. It had a sale sign on them and I thought to myself, well this is turning out quite well for me. I took the baby pool, which is close to six feet in height inside the store and to the first cash register. She scanned the bar code on the side of the pool and I fumbled for my money clip, getting out a twenty and handing it to her while balancing the pool precariously on my shoulder. She handed me my change and I put the change and my money clip back into my pocket, the pool slipped off my shoulder and knocked the credit card machine off the counter. My mouth dropped open, I think I may have apologized, but she smiled and said no problem, "It happens all the time." May want to think about a better system, K-Mart.

K-Mart fiasco aside, I start walking back toward the truck and then a thought occurs to me. Will this fit in the back of the Explorer? I have a vision of having to tie the baby pool to the top of the truck, a gust of wind catches it and there it goes, rolling down the road for someone else's puppy. All for not, however, as the pool folds up just enough to slide inside the back of the Explorer.

We know she's a chewer. Is she much of a swimmer? No, not really. She was curious about what we had put in the backyard. We only filled it about ankle deep so just in case she didn't like it, we didn't have a lot of water to dump out. She would stick her muzzle in and blow bubbles, which she sometimes does in her water bowl. She walked around the outside of the pool, drank the water from the pool and acted like she was going to get in, but never actually got in. To speed up the process, I picked her up and gently placed in her. As her feet hit the water, I watched her paws turn into webs and thought that she was going to like it, but she took two steps inside the pool and was out the other side. So the pool wins round one. To be quite honest, if someone wanted me to get in a big round object with water inside and pictures of water creatures, including a duck wearing goggles, holding a cupcake, I'd be skeptical too.

Again, we may post the video once it goes through the editing process. We'll give the pool another attempt at some point, maybe next weekend.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The advanced training class consists of four other dogs beside Bella. They are all between seven and ten months and have gone through the training classes together. Since Chassie did not mention their names, I'll run through them quickly.

The Tri-Red Australian Shepherd is Lucy. She walked up to me last Saturday and sat politely in front of me, waiting for me to notice her as I watched the commotion that Bella had caused upon arrival to class. When I looked down, there Lucy was, patiently waiting. She seems like a very laid back dog, but to hear her owner talk about her she has a wild streak.

The two Goldendoodles are named McGee (the cream colored male) and Zeva (the black female). After the first class, I knew that the black one was named Zeva and I figured it was from NCIS. I did not know that there other dog was McGee and when we found that out this past Saturday, Chassie confirmed with the owners since she is a fairly dedicated viewer to said television show.

The terrier is Morgan. I thought it was a dude. I just assumed, I shouldn't have but the dog looked like a male and I couldn't decide if Morgan was a boy name or a girl name. The only Morgan's I can think of off the top of my head are Morgan Freeman and.... I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Those are the dogs. The "pet parents" are some very nice folks. The couple that has McGee and Zeva both have attended the two classes we have. Lucy's handler is a very nice gentleman who greets Bella very enthusiastically. Morgan's owners were both present the first week, but only the man came for the second class. I joked with Chassie on the way to the second class that it should be nicknamed the Geriatric Puppy Club. I know, I know, I just can't help myself.

My favorite part of the class is the play time the dogs get at the beginning. I was a little nervous before the first of our classes, just because I didn't know how well Bella would interact with the other dogs. There was never an issue. As soon as we walked through that door, the dogs seemed like they knew each other.

All in all, the class is very good. The biggest thing is it wears Bella out. It also gives us a chance to practice in a controlled environment with distractions which is very beneficial.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Advanced Training Class

Bella, Dave and I started Advanced Training Class last Saturday. We originally signed up for the 5:00 class but no one else signed up for that class. And interactions with other dogs and people are really important to the Advanced Class curriculum. Sarah, our trainer, told us there was a 4:00 Advanced Class which started on June 2nd and we could join that class for the rest of their sessions. But attending a 4:00 class would be difficult with Dave's work schedule. After discussion with Sarah we decided to attend the 4:00 class at 4:30 and then have private session starting at 5:00 as needed. It was pretty nice of Sarah to be so flexible and we will get private lessons!

Last Saturday we arrived at class around 4:15-4:20. A little early, which was good because they had not officially started class and were still in the play time. Bella joined in with the other dogs in play. And she got along with them as if they were old friends.

This class has four playmates. All of which had been in the same Puppy, Intermediate and now Advanced Training Classes together. We were not officially introduced so I am unsure on their names. First was a 9 month old gorgeous Tri Red Australian Shepherd. Two Goldendoodles, one black (10 months) and one cream (7 months). And finally and most likely Bella new best friend, a 9 month old Airedale Terrier.

Sarah started class with supervised separation. The advanced class is a prep class for the CGC. One of the test items is supervised separation. Sarah took each pup for a short walk around the store without its owner. And everyone passed with flying colors including Bella. Which I was worried about since Bella has never been away from Dave or I for a walk. It was like she didn’t even notice we weren't there. Next we practiced Sit and Stay with distractions. Sarah ran around the room throwing tennis balls. Again everyone did very well. Next we left the training and went out to the store floor to practice walking though a crowd and reaction to another dog. A couple store employees made up a crowd and each dog walk though it without being distracted. Everyone was doing very very well! Next for reaction to another dog, two dogs walked by each other down an aisle. The first time Bella tried, she really wanted to say hi but I gave her a correction and she responded. Sarah said she was impressed anyway. By the fourth time she made no movement to say hi and Sarah was super happy with the progress.

We went back inside the training room to practiced being groomed and petted. We received our handouts and class was over.

As I mentioned earlier, this Advanced Class is a prep class for the CGC. All of the dogs in the class, Bella too, are going to take the CGC at the end of the class. Since this class started on June 2nd it will end before we finish. (we will continue on until July 21st). So everyone will take the CGC the first or second week of July. I am not sure if Bella will take the test then. If Dave, Sarah and I think she could be ready for the test there is no harm in taking it. It would be good practice if she failed. And then we would have two or three more classes to practice on the trouble areas.

Our homework for this week has been to start using her collar more. We have only been walking her using the EZ Walk Harness and that will not be allowed for the test. So we are starting to introduced the collar on walks. We are also using Draco when training for the “Reaction to another dog”. We all go outside and walk in opposite directions toward each other on the sidewalk. And it seems Bella did much better in class than she has done at home. But we will continue to work at it.

I am feeling a lot more pressure to do well in this class than any other class. I know it is because the CGC is looming in our future and Dave and I are worried she will not pass. But she is smart and we need to make the effort at home to practice and let her know what she needs to do. I just need to focus on positive thoughts…like her CGC certificate framed and hanging on the wall!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Most Common Dog Name is What???

From the title of this post I am sure you guessed it…Bella. The most common female dog name, regardless of breed, is Bella. How did this happen? I come from a family of uncommon names and Dave and I named our first dog together the most common dog name in America?
Now to be honest Bella is just a nickname. Her full common name is Bellatrix. And her non-official AKC name is Faithful Bellatrix In Hiding (the one chosen by us but not register by AKC). And her official AKC name is Chilbrook Jolie Le Ve (the one chosen by the breeder and she won’t let us change it). But we call her Bella for the most part.
I am sure the reason Bella is the most common name is because of Twilight. And hey I am a Twilight fan so I get it. But seriously? Dave and I (and Kirstin) spent hours researching and discussing Harry Potter names. And in all that research and all thought processes we never considered that Bella would turn out to be a common name because of Twilight.
It is pretty darn disappointing since names are very important to me. I wrote my college entrance essay about personality traits that associate with your name. And I am very sensitive to my own name and who calls me which name (Chase vs. Chassie).
Even though Bella is the most common dog name in America, Dave and I picked it together with extreme care and thought it is the perfect name for our little pup.

Complete Meltdown

I was aware I was having a complete meltdown...but I couldn't stop it. I had to let the meltdown run its course.

Dave tried to help. He said "Calm down". And we all know when you tell a person to calm down in the middle of their meltdown it makes it worse.

I was already a little wound up and stressed out. But when I saw Bella with my glasses in her mouth that was it.

Here is what happened:

It all started because Bella needed her afternoon walk. I needed to change my clothes for the excursion so I went upstairs. Bella is now at the age where she can be left out for short periods of time without supervision…or so we thought. When I came back downstairs, she was prancing around the room with glee which normally means she has something she shouldn’t. I hurdled the gate I saw she had my glasses in her mouth. I tried to catch her but couldn’t. So I had to throw treats at her with the hopes she would abandon the glasses for yummy treats. It worked. I grabbed my glasses and saw teeth marking everywhere.

Enter the complete meltdown zone.

I won’t go into the details of the meltdown. And I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But adding a visit (which is way overdue by the way) to the eye doctor is just adding to the monster list of things I have on my to-do list.

So after some tears, hugs and kisses from Dave and pizza from Dominos (and a Skinny Girl Cosmo) I calmed down and realized it’s not the end of the world after all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Day Bella Met Superman

I imagine I would be in awe if I was to meet Superman. I would stand there with my mouth gaping open and fumbling my words. But Bella had a different reaction.

Bella and I were on the tail end of our daily afternoon walk. It was a nice day and as we walked by one of the sidewalk crosswalks there Superman was. He was walking down the sidewalk towards us. I noticed him first, he wasn’t what I imagined him to be. He was short, very very young and had a parent with him. But I’m sure Bella thought he was the real thing.

As soon as Bella noticed him she dropped to the ground. Went into a lay position with her head resting on the ground. I was not sure if she was trying to hide or was showing her respect to Superman. As Superman came within a few feet of us he asked politely, like the gentleman Superman is, if he could pet Bella. I told the miniature version of Superman: Yes. I asked Bella to get into a sit, which she did without taking her eyes of Superman. I held some treats in front of her nose to keep her calm for the petting.

Let me stop the story right here. For you to understand the amazement of the rest of the story, I feel you need a little background info. Bella doesn’t sit politely for petting. This is one of our most difficult areas for Dave and I to train. She just won’t sit still. She is just too excited.

Back to the story. Once Bella was in a "sit" and was interested in the treats in my hand the young Superman petted Bella on the side of her neck. As soon as he touched her she looked as him with wide eyes but didn’t move. I was astounded. She has never sat politely for petting. When Superman had his fill of Bella and turned around and flew (okay ran) home.

If she is going to sit politely for petting for just one person I guess it should be Superman.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mouth II

In college, a few of my friends had a nickname for a certain member of our group. That nickname was 'Mouth of the South' and sometimes shortened to 'Mouth.' Mainly because this person (who shall remain unnamed) talked a lot. That particular member of the group could not and will not ever be replaced, possibly because of that certain characteristic which created the nickname.

It's a different reason, but the nickname applies to Bella as well. I'm pretty sure Bella isn't happy unless there's something in her mouth. I take her out of her 'playpen' in the evening on our way downstairs and she stops by the basket that holds the dog toys. She stuffs her nose inside and pulls out the one she wants and prances downstairs with that toy in her mouth. She will drop it before we go outside, but as soon as we get back inside, she pounces on it. Unfortunately, she's a pretty heavy chewer and the plush toys have not lasted long with her. Antlers and Nyla-Bones have lasted longer, but sometimes they don't hold her attention for very long.

One of my co-workers has a three year old lab and he says that whenever someone comes to the door, she will greet the guest with something in her mouth, usually a shoe. I can see Bella being the same way, hopefully the shoes are out of the equation.

Pics of Bella

It has been a while since we have posted pics of Bella. So here you go...

She is a cutie, isn't she?