Thursday, December 29, 2011

Herding, Lesson 2

Yesterday Irie had her second herding lesson. Wow, what a difference a month+ makes. At her first lesson Diane said she showed sustained interest in the ducks, but she really just watched them and moved them slightly. This lesson she was VERY interested, and had a blast moving those duckies around.

The first time in the pen we let her move the ducks by herself, just to see what she would do.

There was a 15 week old Boxer there for a lesson, as well, so we put Irie up in the car and watched him work. He was quite awesome!

The second time Irie went in the round pen, Diane started to tell me what she wanted me to do and then asked if I would prefer she go in. With Bug I would almost always say "no." In this instance I said, "YES!" I would much prefer Irie have a very positive experience then deal with me being stressed and fumbling to be in the right spot. We can do that later! ;)

At the end of the lesson Irie walked the ducks in to their kennel.

Diane also went over the dry work we can be working on at home, including getting the pups used to the rake. I am SO happy Irie isn't phased by the rake at ll. She respects it, but does not think it is a big deal at all. I am happy that pressure sensitivity is not something we will have to work on. We will have to work on a steady flat-footed walk-up. As you can see in the video her natural stride is a bit exuberant!

Diane's sheep are due to lamb in January, but if the weather holds we are planning on a lesson in about a month.

I am so excited about this girlie. She is just a joy and, although I am biased, I feel like she really has the little extra intangible you cannot put a word to.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Liebster Award

Ellen over at Pupparoos awarded us with the Liebster award.

Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
Don't feel obligated to play - I won't be offended! Here are the five blogs I'll name (and I have no idea what some of them have for a follower count):

1. Agility Adventures: I love reading about Kathy's training adventures with Cricket, Breeze and all her dogs. Kathy shares a lot of great info.

2. Merlin's Friends: This blog posts infrequently and it is different than a typical blog. Bobbie, the blogger from Merlin's DM Blog, started this blog after she lost he PWC, Merlin, to DM (Degenerative Myelopathy). Each post is from a different contributor and talks about their experience with their dog and DM. It is a heart wrenching blog to read, but I think it is really important to have these stories out there. There is a lot of disagreement in the Cardigan world about how worried we should be about our dog's DM status. There is not much you can do if your dog tests Affected (just supplements which might or might not help and PT when symptoms appear) and to date we haven't really seen what that means in Cardigans. Personally I think we should test breeding stock and continue to breed Affected dogs, but to Clear dogs if possible. I have one Carrier and my new puppy is either a Carrier or Clear. I think, even if it is an old dog disease in our breed (some think it is), it is still a difficult thing to go through. Reading these stories gives you a better appreciation of the emotional strength these owners must show when there companions are faced with a debilitating disease that destroys the body slowly, but leaves the mind and spirit intact.

3. Wags n Woofs: Lani blogs about training her three Cardigans in obedience and agility, her international travels, and her new home and family. Recently her middle dog went down in the back (IVDD), so she has blogged a bit about that experience and his recovery.

4. 4 The Dogs: Kathy blogs about her Cardigans and the rescue she is involved with, ForPaws Corgi/Corgi-x Rescue.I love reading the inspirational stories about the dogs and puppies who come through her rescue as well as her successes in the rally ring.

5. Tail of Two Corgis: Taryn blogs about her two corgis Wilson and Jimmy; Her journey toward her and Jimmy's MACH; and provides great photos and comic relief along the way.

Thank you, Ellen for making me think about the blogs I read!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011


With the holidays we do not have class for 3 weeks!! 3 weeks - wow. That means we have loads of time for training. Puppies say - thank goodness!!

Wednesday night Irie and Bug both worked on duration in their stays and finished with playing Dog Brick. I forgot to bring my Flip down so did not get to video Irie's first attempt. She found Dog Brick much more difficult than Magic (as she should). She hasn't figured out how to push with her nose yet. She is very oral and tries to pick everything up. Unfortunately these pieces cannot be picked up! She did start to get it, but it took a lot longer than Magic.

Bug needs a more difficult dog game. I might see if I can borrow the difficult Kyjen game my agility trainer has. It is star shapes and I think it has 4 pieces that spin.

Katrin's Monty is staying with us for a few days while his mum attends a wedding. Irie thinks he was invited over just for her and Monty says, "doG save me!!"

Bug had PT on Thursday and, hooray, he was in good shape. Still too skinny though. He has been getting increased calories for 2+ weeks and hasn't gained any weight. I re-ordered some Organic Coconut Oil from Swanson's Health Supplies (they have a great price - $6.79 for 16 oz. and flat $4.99 shipping) and will begin adding that to his diet again once it arrives. I am tempted to do the pancreatic function test because I am not sure why he is losing weight. However, he is not showing the typical signs of EPI, at all (YAY), and I know Dr. F would just say it is a matter of his energy being out of balance and finding a "name" for what is going on will only make me feel better not accomplish anything. Which is true.

All three dogs also saw the chiropractor. The boys were in pretty good shape, but Ms. Irie's pelvis was out. I had noticed her stools were loose, so I am not surprised. This doesn't happen with Bug, but when Ike's pelvis is out he usually has diarrhea. The loose stool started when I started giving Irie lamb, so I am pretty sure it doesn't agree with her. Cheryl (the chiro) is currently doing some advanced schooling in Kansas and one of her classmates is a vet and an acupuncturist. She told Cheryl that Lamb is a "hot" meat, which I knew, and that it should not be given to allergy dogs. This is counter to what "we" are told. Generally people/vets suggest lamb and rice for allergy dogs, so I thought that was interesting.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention - Irie has her 2nd herding lesson scheduled for the week between Christmas and New Years. I can't wait! I think John might be able to come so perhaps we will even have VIDEO!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Performance Puppy #6 and Puppy K

On Thursday Irie and I had our last Performance Puppy class. SNIFF!!! This is so sad. It was an awesome class and I have loads of things to work on with Irie this winter.

In our final class we worked on the It's Yer Choice recall some more - with classmates as partners. This meant our puppies needed to be quietly chilling in their crates while we worked with our classmate and their dog. I was very proud of how quiet Irie was. The first session I covered her crate, the second session I did not. She didn't make a peep. Knock on wood, she has super crate manners.

The It's Yer Choice recall is in many ways the equivalent of a "leave it" with no cue. We are going to have to work the HELL out of this as Irie has already picked up some unidentifiable item and eaten it! She's such a corgi!

We also started shaping the pups to go around an item. In the case of the short dogs, we used a large cone. The large dogs used chairs.

To end the class, Kathleen had us set up all the perches, boards, buja boards, fitness pods, and equipment we worked on in one long line. Then we asked the puppies to walk over the various surfaces.

If you are in Southeastern MA and have a puppy you are interested in doing performance with - this is the class for you!

Sunday, we had Puppy K. This week we went over nail trimming and worked on adding duration to our downs and sits. Irie is doing really well with adding duration. One issue I am running into is she doesn't believe me when I release her from a sit, down, or her crate with her release word. She thinks it is a trick, or I am testing her resolve. Katrin suggested I have her "heel" out of her stay for now which worked well.

Her down is really nice now and she maintains great eye contact.

We will have two weeks off before our next Puppy K class. Katrin is going to be running a Rally class/Foundation Comp. Obedience class in January. I need to decide if I am going to put Irie or Bug in it. I am leaning toward Irie since she is such a little sponge and seems to have a natural aptitude for heeling, etc. This means I would need to put Bug in another class somewhere else; either Nosework or Jenny's Rally class.

Of course, since I have no class for two weeks that means time for training at home!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Performance Puppy #5 and Puppy K

I have been really busy and missed blogging about Performance Puppy #5 and Puppy K this week.

In Performance Puppy # 5 we started class by working on our nose target. Irie’s nose target has been weak to date. She mostly sniffs the lid, doesn’t actually hit it. Kathleen said the way she taught her girls a really strong nose target was to hold the clicker on the back side of the lid. This way every time they hit it hard they would actually be causing the click (on two levels). I saw an almost immediate improvement with Irie’s nose touch using this method, but we still have a LONG way to go.

After working on targeting for a bit we broke into two groups. Half of us revisited the buja boards and the other half worked on the contact trainer and 6” x 6’ raised boards Kathleen had placed around the training facility, and then we rotated.

Irie had a bit of a head start with the contact trainer/board work since Katrin and I put her on the dogwalk, teeter, and A-frame at Katrin’s house. This was a great way for me to reinforce that positive experience and after feeding Irie in the contact zone I released her to tug. She thought that was fabulous.

We ended class with an advance “It’s Yer Choice” game. Kathleen asked us to give her some low value treats and get out some high value treats. She put our low value treats on the ground between her and the handler/dog. Once your dog was able to pay attention to you, you walked them past the low value treats, on a loose leash, and fed them with the high value treats. We did this three times. The first time Irie really struggled, which I find funny given how awesome she is at “It’s Yer Choice.” I will have to get John to work this with me as she found it really challenging.

In Puppy K this week Katrin asked us to bring our puppy’s breakfast and bowl in order to work on handling and preventing resource guarding. For me this meant I arrived with a fork and a bag of raw lamb and cottage cheese!

Katrin had us put a small amount of food in the bowl, and while our puppy was eating, lift their feet. We added more food to the bowl and handled their tail while they ate. We added more food to the bowl and “bumped” them gently so they had to move their body out of the way while they ate. Finally we handled their ears and touched their face while they were eating. In true corgi fashion, Irie could have cared less – she was eating!

We also worked on “Sit” and “Down.” I am happy to say Irie has learned “down” using the “capture” method. I was going to cheat and lure it because I am lazy, but I decided not to. So, pat on the back to me for not cheating! I am adding the word to it because she is offering it pretty quickly. We also worked on loose leash walking and Katrin commented on what a natural heeler Irie is. Right now she is better than Bug!

I really liked the “handling” exercise while puppy is eating and I have been doing it about once a day. I think it is a great preventative exercise.


If you saw the recent NYT article, After Lean Acorn Crop in Northeast, Even People May Feel the Effects, you know we will likely be seeing more ticks (and Lyme Disease) this year in the Northeast. The article suggests the lean acorn crop will provide a natural culling of squirrels and field mice, which will in turn force ticks to look for additional hosts. Joy.

When I took Ike to the vet on Monday I snagged this cool tick identifier card on the counter.

I ignored the fact that the back claims vaccination is an essential part of protecting your dog from Lyme disease.  ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Heart Health

Yesterday I took Ike in to see the vet. After 3 crashes in a row at agility class, with no physical indications of an issue, I wanted to have his eyes checked. He also has a lump that has changed slightly, so I wanted to have that aspirated.

The good news is his eyes are fine. There are some normal signs of aging, but nothing that would affect his jumping. NO signs of PRA. Hooray!

We will get the news back about the lump on Thursday. Hopefully that is nothing.

The interesting news is he has a Stage 1 mitral murmur (he is a lean and active 9 years old). Heart murmurs are rated on a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the worst.

The vet suggested I consider an echo in 6 months to a year. I am not 100% sure I am going to do that for a Stage 1 mitral murmur.

I posted about it on the Performance Schnauzer list, to see what people’s experiences with murmurs have been. Most individuals that responded had a dog that was diagnosed with a murmur, stages 1 – 3. An echo was never suggested to these individuals and the dog did not pass of Congestive Heart Failure. A long time breeder said she was told rating heart murmurs in an extremely subjective thing. One individual had a Standard with a heart issue and saw a huge improvement when they started using the Vetriscience product CardioStrength.

I am strongly considering the Cardiostrength. It contains Folic Acid, among other things, which kept coming up in my google search as an important heart health supplement.

Edit: In case anyone is interested, my agility instructor informed me last night that Standard Process also has a cardio health supplement.

I would be very curious if any of my readers have had dogs with murmurs and whether you chose to add any supplements as a result? Ike and I thank you in advance!

Noisy Girlie!

With the addition of Irie to our pack, breakfast time became a VERY noisy event at my house. Irie is a corgi, and in true corgi fashion she is a food hound and likes to bark.

The Problem:

At meal times, while I prepped meals (I feed raw and use supplements), Irie jumped on the cabinets and barked like a fool.


I want Irie to learn impulse control in all aspects of her life, so I chose not to crate her during meal time. Instead, I purchased a 3’ tether from my trainer-friend Katrin. I attached this tether to the leg of my island. Before I went to prep meals I would put Irie on the tether. A criteria for her being fed was that she sat quietly as I put the bowl down and remained in a sit until I released her with her release word, “Break.”

Evolution of the Problem:

In 2 meals Irie understood 100% that the bowl would not be placed on the ground until she stopped barking, and that she had to hold her sit until released. If she tried to break her sit without being released I removed the bowl from the floor. This is a very practical application of the “It’s Yer Choice” game.

What this solution did not address was the barking during prep. I decided I needed to end this problem before it became such a well reinforced habit it would be a “real” bear to break.

Solution Con’t:

Every time Irie barked during prep I walked away from the prep area (“away” being between 5’ and 10’), kept my back to her, and busied myself with a sip of tea or reading something quickly. As soon as the barking stopped I returned to the prep area. When she started barking again, I walked away again. I repeated this until I completed the prep and was ready to feed the dogs.

The first two meals took the longest. You really need to build a bit of cushion in your schedule to address this appropriately. The funny thing is, it did not *really* take that long, but because she was barking and I was stressed about the time (in the a.m.), it *felt* like it took forever! Since I didn’t end up late to work it couldn’t have taken that long.

I saw a noticeable improvement with Meal 3 (Day 2!).

I am now on Day 5, and just fed meal 9. I had barely any barking this morning. Irie barked a little bit at the very end when I was mixing the food up. I think the mixing sounds have already become a conditioned reinforcer, so I expect those barks will take the longest to extinguish.

Overall I am really happy with how easily I have resolved this issue, 5 days with minimal work and consistency is not bad!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cardi Claus Arrived!

Cardi Claus arrived last night from Grants Pass, OR. What a long trek!! Thank you Minnie, Zoe and Missy Bigelow of Spyrock Cardigans for a lovely package.

The dogs seemed to know the package was for them from the minute it was delivered bu the USPS. I had a VERY attentive audience as I opened it, including a rude Schnauzer and a rude Blue boy, who thought perhaps they should be opening it THEMSELVES, goshdarnit!

Treat and toys for the puppies and two adorable ornaments for me! This is my first b/w Cardigan ornament, which makes it special. I am also very touched that a Schnauzer ornament was included. We haven't got our tree up yet, so this should be the kick in the bum I need to get moving!

Below you can see Ike trying to sort out how he can get a hold of those treats, goshdarnit!

And here is Bug with his three favorite toys. He says real dogs love pink, and adamantly contests that toy might have been purchased with Irie in mind!

Unfortunately there is something wrong with my camera and it would not allow me to download the cutest pictures I took. Boo! I will try downloading them at work and see if that makes a difference.

Thank you Janet of Simple Things/Mockingbird Cardigan Welsh Corgis for organizing this event for the third year in a row. I am so happy to take part; it is a wonderful way to meet other Cardigan owners and bloggers. I don't know that any other breed does something so fun. We are a small community and it is a pleasure to be part of it.

Big thanks to our new friends, Minnie, Zoe, and Missy, for a lovely package. You are now at the top of the pups list, that's for sure!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cardi Claus and Training

Cardi Claus has left Massachusetts and is headed west with a package. Unfortunately my ornament did not arrive in time for the December 1st deadline. So, I decided to ship two packages. I sent the package today via Standard Mail - it should arrive by the 8th. Hopefully the ornament arrives today or tomorrow and I can ship that right off too!

I find I am as excited about my Cardi Claus gift making its way to its new home as I am about receiving my package!

In training news, Ike had an awesome class Tuesday night and I had really nice individual training sessions with the dogs last night.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A girl and her man. Now lets hope those ears stay up!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


On our way to the Cluster on Friday Katrin asked if I had put Irie on any agility equipment yet. Ummm, nope. We made plans to get together today and expose her to all the contacts and tunnels.

I had no fear that Irie would think it was anything but a fabulous game. We started with the teeter. Katrin's teeter has rubber contacts and Irie didn't hesitate at all to climb it. The first few times we controlled the tip for her, then we allowed her to control the tip.

Next up was the full height dogwalk. Missy scooted right on over it and got fed copious amounts in the contact. Same story in on the a-frame.

We scrunched the tunnel up and had her go through it straight, then with a slight curve, then a more exaggerated curve, finally in a "u" shape. She did have to do some problem solving with the "u" shape. She wasn't sure why she had to go through the tunnel at first since I was calling from right beside her.

She offered the a-frame a few more times and was very drawn to the teeter.

Irie also got to hear the leaf blower going in the front yard and gun shots from the gun club that is nearby.

We ended with a little play session between Irie and Uncle Niche (Katrin's Flat Coated Retriever).

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Yesterday Katrin and I hit the Turkey Cluster at the Big E in West Springfield. I go every year for the shopping, this is the 2nd year I have gone with Katrin. Hopefully I will be going in the future with Ms. Irie (agility) and Bug (Rally) to trial.

We got there in time to watch some of the Flat Coats (Katrin's heart breed) and the Cardis. I got to see both Irie's father, Shade, and her uncle, Magnum. It was nice to see what a nice mover Shade is.

Then we headed over to the agility building in time to catch a very pretty run by Kris and Bette (Bug's cousin) in Exec B Jumpers.

I had sent the boys' collars to EZUsigns to have new id plates put on them, so I picked them up. I also got a fabulous deal on fish skin chews. Victory Raw was there and they were her show special - 50% off. So I bought $20 worth, the pups are set for a while! I also picked up some freeze dried cod at the Bravo! tent and some dehydrated duck feet (the pups LOVE THEM!!!).

I guess I should revise the statement that I go for the shopping, I really go for the treat shopping! And of course it is lovely to run into other dog people that I only see at trials, etc. Oh, and I also picked up a little something to send with Cardi Claus!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Here is Irie playing the Nina Ottosson game "Magic" for the 2nd time. I wish I videoed the first attempt. There was no vocalization or frustration. She immediately went to work sorting it out and required no assistance from the human.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Everyone saw the chiro last night.

Both boys were very sore. Ike I am kind of surprised about, kind of not - in the last month he has crashed 3x in class and lost his pelvis (the 2nd time he crashed). I haven't made a vet appointment yet to have his eyes checked, but I am going to. Just to be safe. He was super tight on his left side which is incredibly unusual for him. He is the soundest dog ever.

Bug was out is stair position and in a sit. In a sit his right hip, which is radiographically better looking but overall much more painful (the vet suspects microfractures), visibly jumped with every adjustment. I wonder if that is part of the reason he has seemed a little down lately - that he is in pain. I know he is enjoying Irie's company, but thought he was depressed about less one-on-one time.

I also confirmed Bug is allergic to Cedarcide. I am bummed about that - it works so well!! I guess better to be allergic to Cedarcide than a protein. I bought the Cedarcide at the same time I bought some Bravo! pork. His eyes started weeping like mad - he constantly looked like he was crying. I was afraid he had developed an allergy to pork, which would stink.

Irie continues to hold her adjustments. Puppies totally bounce.

Today I am taking everyone to Dirty Dawg Wash for baths and to groom Ike. Should be a long day!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Middle Child Syndrome

Yesterday I took Bug to the farm stand. He was a hit. He needed some one on one time. He is not in class at the moment and I feel like he is suffering from Middle Child Syndrome.

I have to admit I don't really get that excited about Rally and I know it transfers to my dog. I am really not sure what to do with him. I am thinking about doing a few privates in Rally with Katrin and then putting him in Jenny's Rally class for a 4 week session. Before we stopped working, due to whatever was going on with Bug's health, Katrin had suggested it was time to start attending some matches. Jenny's class is much more like a run thru than a class, so it might be a good opportunity to try out what we worked on all summer.

The other option is Nosework classes, but good gods they are expensive. I am talking to my herding instructor about trying to set up a tracking seminar next year because I feel that is something Bug would excel at. I could also put him in an advanced manners class - just to work him but that seems rather silly at this point.


No Crashes

I forgot to post after Ike's Tuesday night class. No crashes!! Hooray!! Ike enjoyed himself, there were some pretty serps to complete. His weaves looked nice, and I got to run Darcy (SS) again.

We are at a bit of a plateau at the moment. We are much more confident with our rear crosses and his contacts are looking much better.

Act-Up is having Amanda Shyne out in January for two days of workshops (4 in total). I signed up for her jumping skills workshop because I think Ike will really enjoy it (I took one with Carmen a few years ago and got a lot out of it). I wanted to sign up for Building Speed and Drive workshop, but I am not sure it is a workshop Ike will enjoy. It took me a super long time to teach him to tug and I accidentally ruined it last winter. So, putting him in a situation where play is very likely to be a large part of the workshop doesn't seem fair. I wish I could do it with Irie! I will probably audit it and perhaps sign up for something else with Ike.

Performance Puppy #4 and Santa!

Thursday night Irie and I had Performance Puppy #4. What a great class. I in no way feel like I am keeping up with the class, but I am learning the training techniques for these skills and introducing my puppy to some excellent things. I figure this week, in which I have NO classes and very little work, I can really focus on training and start to catch up. Once class is complete I can perfect the skills.

On Thursday we introduced the puppies to buja boards and balance discs. Irie has no fear about wobbly surfaces. : ) Kathleen had three rows of buja boards set up. The first row didn't have that much rock to it, it was the introductory row. The second row a bit more and the third row - a patio table top with a decent sized hard ball attached to the bottoms. Surfs up!

Kathleen suggested we click and treat for the puppy getting on and then any movement they made. That was very easy. I was pretty quickly able to ask Irie to tug on the buja board. She had a blast. Off the buja board, tug stopped. On the buja board, TUG!!

She just as quickly adapted to the balance discs.

We had three stations set up Thursday night: buja boards and balance discs, perches, and the back-up station. Irie and I started with the buja boards and then moved on to perches. I have been using my body pressure to help Irie move around the perch but have decided to go back to basics and make it more independent. I think that will be more helpful if I want to do Rally or Obedience with her in the future, which is always a possibility (look at Bug!). Plus, I am having so much more fun with the independent back-up.

We did not practice our backing up last week, so class was only the second time Irie had ever done it. She seems to understand, on one level, that backing up is what is getting her the cookies - she is backing the whole length of the board pretty quickly, but she doesn't really "get it." She is not looking at me as she backs up, yet. So we will work on this during the week. It is a fun skill and as Kathleen said, it looks flashy to see a dog back-up by themselves without you moving.

Performance Puppy is an awesome class. I wish more places offered something like it. I am really lucky with my timing that a class was just starting up.

Now, on to Santa!

Yesterday I took Irie to have her picture taken with Santa. My friend Blue is a photographer and she has some photo dates set up with Especially For Pets, an independent local pet store.

Irie's "photo shoot" was scheduled for 1:15. It was a busy day at the store.  Amazing Greyz, a greyhound rescue organization, was there (20% of the photo proceeds went to their organization); a California Natural rep was there and there was a wheel you got to spin once you made a purchase (I won a key chain). I think it is safe to say that Irie won everyone over. The Cal Nat rep must have given her 5 Evo Wild Craving Herring Formula cookies. She LOVED them - needless to say I bought a bag!

She loved Santa and I have no doubt that Blue captured a super photo of her. I think her early exposure to kids and Darth Vader at Halloween has assured her that no matter what a human looks like, they are okay.

I am constantly amazed and feel so damn lucky by how confident she is. I hung around a bit to talk to Blue, and another friend showed up with their three dogs, so Irie got loads of exposure to other dogs and kids. In fact she was swarmed by a group of pre-teens and she was in her GLORY!!!

I know I sound biased, because she is my dog, but she really is special. There is a level of confidence and comfort in her interactions which I do not see with my other dogs, and in fact don't see with a lot of dogs. I am so hopeful that I can nurture this and not ruin it in any way! We spent a total of 3 hours traveling and at EFP - she was pooped afterward!