Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dog Brick

Katrin gave me the Nina Ottosson game Dog Brick last night. This is the next step up from the game I have, Magic. Hooray and thank you, Katrin!
We played last night when we got home. Ike went first and he took quite some time sorting it out. I don't think he ever really figured it out per se - it was solely the terrier perseverance that got him through.

Then it was Bug's turn. You will recall that Ike rocked the Magic game and it took Bug multiple attempts to finally sort it out. Last night was a different story. Bug figured out the Dog Brick game SO much faster than Ike. He actually understood - almost immediately - that he needed to slide the bricks back and forth. He reminded me a bit of an elephant using his trunk the way he was using his nose to push the bricks.

It was fabulous to see, literally, how differently the two boys' brains work. What is easy for one is not easy for the other necessarily. They are so individual. It was also interesting to see how differently they deal with frustration. Bug backs away, lays down and if that doesn't work starts to bark. Ike wags very hard, bounces about and just keeps trying as hard as he can.

Once we have fully mastered Dog Brick we'll have to move on to a even more challenging game. I highly recommend these games if your dog likes to work. They are a lot of fun.


Bug and I had a herding lesson yesterday. Diane hadn't sorted any sheep or ducks when we arrived so she asked what we wanted to work on. We are attending a 3 day clinic at the end of January that will focus on ducks and the last time we worked ducks was the winter of 2008. So...we worked ducks.

Ugh. That sums up how I feel about the lesson. I feel exactly like the first few times we worked sheep. I couldn't seem to do anything right; I was repeatedly in the wrong place; I repeatedly, and ACCIDENTALLY, verbally corrected Bug at the WRONG times. It felt like a complete disaster. That being said I do distinctly remember Diane saying, "That was nice" and "Good dog" multiple times.

Bug was diving into the ducks a lot. Fortunately for us the ducks started correcting him by themselves (by flapping) so we did not need to (as much).

We worked the full hour + taking only one break. By the end of the lesson Bug was working a LOT better - I think because I was running out of dog!

The disconcerting news is that Bug is still being super spooky about the rake and stock stick. We started with a homemade stock stick that was made from very thin pvc. Then we moved to a traditional stock stick. Then, because Bug was still being spooky, Diane went inside and got a shorter stock stick she has. She said we might have to start working with a piece of hose instead - that is how spooky Bug was acting about it.

This spookiness started the week before our first lesson. the good news is it is not because of our lesson. The bad news is I have no idea why he is acting so spooky. He is acting spooky at home too. He is very leery of sudden movements. I need to schedule Bug's annual vet appointment. I have the week off between Christmas and New Years so I am hoping to go then. I don't know what the vet will be able to offer, but I am going to talk to her about how spooky he is acting. I know dogs can start to act spooky with TBDs. We'll see if the vet has any other thoughts.

If we can not get to the bottom of it with conventional medicine I think I will make an initial appointment for him with Dr. F., the homeopathic vet.

The great news is that Bug worked very hard, for a long time, and....he was not stiff afterward. Hallelujah!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"Advice is what we ask for when we know the answer but wish we didn't." - Unknown

I read this quote today and it immediately, and deeply, resonated with me.

It made me think of all the times Ike has told me something that I then sought confirmation from someone else to intellectually and/or emotionally validate.

I wish I had seen this quote earlier in our relationship. I think it would have saved me some hemming and hawing; perhaps not though. It has taken me a long time to learn to listen to myself, to stop the voice in my head that analyzes everything to death and go with what my gut and my dog says is right.

I have done the same thing with Bug – about different issues. I knew he wasn’t ready to go back to work and I kept asking with great reservations. Thinking about it now, it wasn’t really when PT told me that he could go back to work that I chose to start herding lessons back up – it was when Bug told me.

I think I am starting to live this lesson.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday BUG!

Happy Holidays from the Blue Boy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sheep Game!!

For those of you who want to practice herding and have no access to sheep. Check out this game!

Monday, December 6, 2010

All the Way from Cali...

Cardi Claus has arrived! There was a package on my stoop with a lovely calligraphy address label. The boys and I could not wait to open it.

I opened the package and what should I find, but a lovely note from Melissa, Darby & Pumpkin and all sorts of goodies for human and canine!

The boyz could NOT wait to get their little paws on the mini water bottle crunchers!

I have to say Ike has an odd relationship with toys. Usually he will do the terrier neck breaker and then trot off to bed with the toy in question, make a nest with the toy in his mouth, and go to sleep. Not with this toy. He ran off with it and proceeded to chew and chew on it! And Bug, well, I can STILL hear the bottle crunching in the other room! I think the boys agree these toys are winners.

They caught a whiff of the Natural Balance rolls, but I think I will save those for training. I don't know about your dogs, but mine think those are pretty high value.

It is supposed to be very cold this week so the new hat is just in time (especially because I have only managed to find my mittens and not my scarves and hats)! It smells lovely, a bit like lavender, and I am sure it will be very warm tomorrow morning on our walk!

I haven't read the book (The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog) and look forward to any book that includes dogs! :) Perhaps I will read it with a fire going by my christmas tree. With hot cocoa! Doesn't that sound perfect?

Melissa, Darby, and Pumpkin - thank you for a lovely package!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Good Sign

I watched the Bug like a hawk last night....and other than being EXHAUSTED he was in good shape! No signs of stiffness and he readily hopped up on the couch, etc. I know I will need to continue to be vigilant with his stretching and making sure we rest adequately and do not overwork. However, for the first time in a long time I am feeling the optimism his physical therapist and chiro feel!

I spoke to our chiro earlier this week and she agreed it would be smart to incorporate a proactive approach that a blog friend had mentioned. I proactively gave Bug arnica Tuesday through Thursday and Traumeel Friday, Saturday, today. I plan on switching and continuing the arnica for a few days this week.

As with all things it is hard to say if it is necessary or if he'd be fine given all the time and money we have spent rehabbing. I feel like erring on the side of caution. It's not as though arnica or Traumeel are expensive and there are certainly no ill-health effects.

I think it is too early to be as excited as I feel. I don't want to assume Bug is 100% and then be sorely disappointed, BUT I really am feeling optimistic! We have scheduled another lesson for the 18th and dog gods willing will be herding all winter!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


After almost exactly a year off (I think our last lesson last year was late December - injury occurred in January) Bug and I had a herding lesson.

I felt so much anxiety as I was warming Bug up. I got to D's early so I could walk, jog, and stretch him. I was anxious about how rusty I would be and whether Bug would be stiff after the lesson or not.

We worked on flanking and some small outruns. We had previously done A LOT of fetching and we worked a bit on that today. The sheep were very light and Bug needed to give them more space then he was used to in order for them not to run me over. That didn't go so hot, nor did our driving.

The biggest thing I noticed is that I fell back into my very early habit of watching my dog and not my stock. Oh, bad handler. Given it was a somewhat easy habit to break previously I hope it will be again! Bug was MUCH better about stopping and downing than he was a year ago. We have worked a lot on that and his down has gotten pretty snappy.

He was VERY sensitive to the rake. He has always been sensitive to the rake, but if you didn't know better you would think I have been beating him with it in my spare time. We switched to the stock stick fairly early.

D said a lot has changed in the way she is teaching things and I am really curious how. What I appreciate about D and continue to appreciate is how she adjusts for each dog. She is very cognizant of what they need.

Depending on how Bug feels tonight we will either continue working sheep or switch to ducks. We will likely be working ducks this winter anyway. D has a new indoor arena that she has access to so we can train all winter!! I am so excited because usually our last lesson would be at the end of December and we wouldn't get back on sheep until around early April - depending on the weather, lambing, etc.

The weather was perfect - cold, but sunny. Bug was so happy - you could see it in his carriage. I was rusty, but it went better than I expected. The only downer is the sheep did knock me about a bit so hopefully they didn't knock me out of alignment. One year they knocked me out of alignment every week!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I like my dogs kept skinny. Not quite as skinny as some people, but none-the-less I like to feel ribs.

My mother constantly refers to my dogs as bony – she says we are all bony (truth in jest). Oh well, her opinion. :) The vet always calls vet techs in to see Ike and Bug – to see what dogs *should* look like (their opinion - I obviously agree!). The physical therapist think Bug looks like a corgi should – if they are meant to last.

I feel comfortable about my dogs being skinny, but it does make some people uncomfortable. A lot of people are used to dogs being pleasantly plump and that is what they visually and tactilely prefer.

Recently we had friends up for the weekend. The wife asked if Bug had previously broken his rib or done something to make it feel it feel the way it does. Huh? Those are his ribs! I guess maybe she never felt a skinny dog before? I thought it was pretty funny.