The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

07 August 2012

Horses, ponies, grocery store, and other fun things!

Kaline finally got some good exposure to horses yesterday. We live about 30 minutes (walking) from the Menlo Circus Club, which has a big charity horse show each year. After the two morning walks and a nap, I took the pups over there to see the horses.
Five-pack waiting for their treats at Mills Florist on University Avenue in the morning.
It turned out that it was just a warmup day, so we didn't have to pay admission. It's a dog friendly event, they just have to be on leash. (Should be common sense, having dogs on leash around a ton of horses, but some people are idiots. There's a big sign as you walk in that if your dog is loose, they'll call the SPCA to come pick him/her up.) The big polo field was divided into several smaller rings, with shady corridors in between with bleachers in them. We went in the first corridor and plopped down in the cool grass.
 On one side were the big jumps, and on the other side people were just putting their horses through their paces. Horses would come cantering by fairly regularly on the jumping side. At first, every time Kaline heard thundering hooves he'd startle. I kept treating him for lying down, for looking calmly at horses, anything good. Pretty soon, a fast-moving horse didn't concern him. Two people just let their horses stand, hanging out, near the dogs, which was also great.

Once Kaline was calmly lying down and not paying much mind to the horses, I kind of got to enjoy myself looking at them. In middle school and high school, I used to ride and work with horses (I liked working with them on the ground much more than riding). So I miss them a bit, especially the way they smell. And these horses were just gorgeous. I was especially taken with this exquisite pony. I guess normally I expect ponies to be little chunky, shaggy, somewhat ungainly creatures; this pony was just a small horse. Delicate legs, a gleaming coat, and a fine and sensitive face. So, so pretty.
Pony from far away.
After about half an hour, Juno had had enough and was whining softly (she is still not completely convinced that horses are not enormous dogs). Kaline was a little antsy, too. So off we went back home.

We ended up going out to dinner at Milagros. We ate outside, because there really wasn't sufficient space for the dogs to both be inside. They still went vested, so Kaline would have a signal that it was work time. There were many crushed tortilla chips under our table, so I spent about fifteen minutes not paying attention to anything but Kaline, and trying to redirect him off the chips. Eventually he curled up nicely on his mat, facing away from the crumbs. He will get the hang of this!
The Milagros patio is very pretty.

Training today went really well. I got to work Kaline briefly on a ton of different commands. The only thing we're really struggling on outside is the recall—he can count, I'm convinced. Three recalls, when it's warm outside, and then he is done. On those first three, at least, he is coming in closer, not rocking back as much, and sitting a bit straighter. After three, he'll come in grudgingly, won't sit, and won't even make eye contact. Maybe when the weather cools off, and his attention span gets bigger. Plus, my new bait bags just came, and they have hidden pockets where you can keep super high value treats separate from the rest. Maybe I'll start taking some hot dogs or something, just for recalls.

Other than recalls, he was great. We worked on heeling—right and left turns, about turns both ways, five-step halts, quarter-turns in place. We did remote sits and downs; I think he's ready for me to start separating the verbal cue and the hand signal. We did touch, both hands, with him having to take several steps to get to my hand. For fun, we also did "high five" and "other hand." Last we worked on stand, and I was actually able to stand up and move around him without him moving any of his feet! And he maintained eye contact! Very exciting. A solid stand is key for blocking, which Kaline will need to do when he gets bigger (blocking = standing in a designated position relative to me to keep strangers out of my personal space/keep them from sneaking up on me).

Juno did heeling and off-leash long recalls, which are always great fun. She finally got to do the flyball jumping (four low jumps in a row). Once she was doing all four, running to me at the other end, we started working on getting her to go out and get the dumbbell. This proved to be harder than expected. I think it's partially due to Juno's eyesight, which is good but not great. She's also not a trained retriever—she's locked on my face, while you can tell the trained retrievers to "mark" and they'll pay attention to where the bumper/dumbbell lands.

So we backed off a bit. I put the dumbbell in her mouth, then went to the other end of the jumps and had her do the jumps with it in her mouth. Then I stood with her and only threw the dumbbell over one jump, sending her while it was in the air. She has a much easier time if you send her while the dumbbell is still moving. She did fine on that, so then I threw it over two jumps and she did that too. Then we decided she'd jumped enough for one day!

Kaline and Juno both did nice Kumbayayas with the crazy doodles, plus Peter the Poodle, who has come incredibly far in his training. (Speaking of doodles, Freddie just found out that some idiots calling themselves "breeders" are now producing—I won't say breeding, because that implies actual thought of a breed's well-being—things called "double doodles," Lab x Poodles combined with Golden Retriever x Poodles. How insanely dumb can you get.)

On the way home, I got a call that we needed eggs, so Kaline's first grocery store outing happened. I usually like to plan such firsts, but it went fine. He peed before we went in, and pretty much held his focus the whole time. He was fine with the cold aisle where the eggs were and sat nicely next to Juno while I picked a box.
Kaline being a focused, good little boy in Draeger's.
 Our only issue was waiting in line to check out. Kaline was sitting next to me in heel position, with Juno blocking behind me. Suddenly this woman came up and in an injured voice said, "I can't touch them?" Well, no, that's kind of why both dogs are covered in patches saying that very thing. I tried to be nice, explaining that they were working and that I was training the puppy. She smiled and nodded—and as soon as my back was turned, leaned down to Juno-face-level and said, "I can't touch you—but I can talk to you!" I was so tempted to say something snarky, but by then our eggs were paid for and we could just walk away. The pups actually did a decent job of ignoring her. Pissed me off a bunch though. Perhaps after this training entry I will post a wee rant. Grin.

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