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

29 July 2013

Going to the fair, plus harness training

Lately we have been going to fairs and doing harness training with Kaline (what it says on the tin). Two weekends ago was the street fair in Menlo Park, where we live, and then last weekend was the street fair in Redwood City. Vendors at both were pretty disappointing, but it was definitely good for the pups.

I have discovered that while Kaline has no problem doing walks, or even trotting briskly, in shoes, he does not believe he should be asked to do what I think of as fine positioning work while wearing them. We're talking swinging into a block position or coming back to heel. He kinda freezes up and then you have to ... unfreeze him. Other than that, he was fantastic. We did a lot of going through crowds, and Kaline's sniffing was exceedingly minimal. Most of the time he didn't even turn his head at all. He mostly ignored the various other dogs around too. I won't get into a rant on those but let's just say a lot of people brought dogs who were not prepared to be in that situation, either in a physical or a mental sense.
Kaline at the street fair in Menlo Park.

People lost their marbles over Kaline and Juno's shoes. I enjoyed spreading the Gospel of Shoes to anyone who asked where they could get such awesome protection for their dogs' feet, but the pointing and squealing got tiresome very quickly. I told several adults curtly, “It's rude to point.” We met another Doberman, Duke, a month older than Kaline and significantly larger and goofier! So adorable. Kaline also worked on ignoring people petting him (I want to do a practice Public Access Test with him soon, just for shits and giggles).

The Redwood City fair had even worse vendors, was much smaller, and had great blues acts and freaking delicious barbecue. It wasn't that hot, but Kaline started doing the dance on the pavement so on went the shoes. We met up with Sonja, Chief, Hendrik, and their two friends from Germany, which was delightful. Later we all went to Crissy Field to let the dogs run about.

Kaline and Chief at the blues concert.
Kaline and Chief ignoring the delicious barbecue.

On to harness training. Kaline is going on the Michigan trip, due to the fact that all the people I know who normally would be able to take him cannot—and neither can a shit ton of people I don't know. Juno is going to have a delightful spa week with Sonja, Chief, and the “old ladies.” She's obviously much lower-maintenance than Kay and more importantly, can be trusted to be around Chief without a human hanging onto her front paws.

Obviously, going on the trip means Kaline's duties are going to expand, at least temporarily. He's not old enough to do counterbalance or brace work, but thankfully he is old enough to do what I need most in terms of mobility: momentum pull. Basically it's the same as when you see crazy dogs pulling like sled dogs in back-attaching harnesses, only Kaline will be paying attention, pulling at an appropriate level, and not going nuts. And instead of pulling on a leash he'll be pulling against a handle. Point is, doesn't hurt a young dog.

Our first session was really short and kind of feeling things out. I just took Kaline outside with the Petjoy harness on, and any time he made the floppy handle taut, I rewarded him. Then Juno decided to come participate, so I put her in a down stay by our house walkway and took Kaline away from her. Then I just let him walk back to her—he pulled beautifully and slowed to a stop right in front of her, so we started practicing a stop command too. Saying “easy” was not so good at first as a slow-down cue because that usually means he's about to be told to sit. We've worked on it since, and now he's just slowing down, and not turning to face me as much.

We did another session where I gave Kaline a target like I give Juno. BAD IDEA. Well, bad idea in the sense that I used Juno as the target. Kaline practically pulled my arm off in his frantic efforts to catch up to the Holy Grail of his big sister. He freaking hates it when he can see her pulling away from him and I make him keep heeling or whatever. Yeah, need to work on that. I took the harness off and just made him do very basic obedience with Juno far in front. Any time I asked him to sit, for like fifteen minutes, the word “sit” would elicit the most agonized shriek from my puppy. It was almost funny.

Our latest session went really nicely. I had gotten a lot of great suggestions on harness training from others with mobility SDs, and one of them was to take Kaline on a routine walk (i.e. he knows the exact path already) with the harness. So we did that, and mostly it went really well. Without the target, he did not pull nearly so hard. We worked on our various harness commands: forward, easy, stop, left, and right. For left and right, I'm making these huge ridiculous hand signals right now, exaggerations of the ones I do when we're heeling. Kaline got a break in the middle of the session to pee and sniff and all that; I had to hype him up about pulling afterward. Like Juno, he seems to like having a sidewalk to follow, and we were in a parking lot. So, I made a fool of myself, got Kaline all bouncy again, and off we went home. I was really pleased with his progress!

Juno has been busy as well. She came to a play with me and my bestie, Rachel, in Aptos. We did a walk along the beach, where a little girl saw Juno and said, “That dog is alllllllll princess!” Most adorable thing ever. I was stiff and in a lot of pain after the play ... something about the seats. Juno supported me carefully and slowly down the stairs, and in the lobby afterward. She's just the best.
Juno at the beach.

14 July 2013

Juno is my Rally champ

We just had an awesome weekend in Carmel at the Del Monte Kennel Club Dog Show! Dad and Kaline accompanied me and Juno, though they weren't allowed to be around while we were prepping and competing (Juno will book it out of the ring to go to my dad).

After walks on Friday, we loaded up the dogs and all our crap in the car and headed to Carmel. We stayed in this really adorable dog-friendly hotel, which kindly didn't charge us pet fees for even one dog (which they totally could have, since only Kaline was working this weekend). It was Kaline's first time since babyhood sleeping out of the crate at night, and it was wonderful snuggling with him. If only I had a queen bed he'd sleep on in my room at home! Juno slept with Dad, although during the rest of the weekend it became clear she wasn't above sleeping on the same bed as Kaline, as long as he behaved himself. Much snuggly cuteness.

We got up ridiculously early Saturday to get to Carmel Middle School by 7:30 (Excellent check-in was at 8:00; I like to watch them). It was crazy cold and foggy, and the Rally ring, regular OB rings, and the Rottweiler ring were all on the grass within the school track. Literally everyone not only had a crate for their dog(s), but also these huge shade tents (i.e. not the kind of tent you camp in) to put them under. And big plastic tarps to protect everything from the damp grass. And here came Juno and I, with our one folding chair and roll-up mat.

The cold was actually good, because Juno is peppier in the cold. A nice lady set up a high jump and broad jump and said anyone could practice on them, so thank goodness, we were able to warm up jumping before going in the ring. Cause, yeah, we don't actually have a jump at home to practice on.

Right before we were set to do our Advanced B run, the sun came out and all of a sudden it was hot. Juno started panting, I was freaking out a little inside, etc. I tried to keep her shaded and did stationary practice to keep her amped in some kind of controlled way. The run went pretty well, though at the jump, I was so focused on not leaving Juno room to go around it that I actually clanged into it myself. There was no figure eight or broad jump, so hurrah! We ended up getting a 96, and earned a fourth-place ribbon! Not to mention our third leg and thus our title! It was super exciting, because I never thought that competing in B-level anything I'd ever get a ribbon.
Fourth-place ribbon!
Once our Rally stuff was done, Juno and I trundled over to conformation with our rollie to find Dad and Kaline. I was on the phone with Dad, about to tell him that oh my goodness, there was another Doberman SD at the show, when I realized it was my Doberman. Heehee. We ran into our Dobie friends and got to chat with them a bit; I had missed the Dobie breed judging, but oh well. I managed to resist the vendors, just got some gelato. Kaline did fairly well; he still looks at other dogs for too long, but it's not terribly hard to get his focus back. No one gave us crap about his prong collar either.

After a cuddly nap, we took the dogs to a baseball field that wasn't in use. Kaline got to have a blowout run and work a bit on recalls, while Juno and I practiced exercises for Excellent. I pulled up the regs on my phone and had Dad call out all the different exercises to us. Except for the jump, we practiced all of them until I was satisfied Juno was solid on them. 

For dinner, that was the one time Juno went vested; I worked both dogs for the first time in ever. We met one of my mom's friends at a place called the Forge, which was so dog-friendly it had a dog menu.

I was really glad we were inside, because outside were show people with their dogs including a Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch who was in heat. Yeah, don't need my intact teenage male around bitches in heat! Plus, even inside, Kay was cold. He was snuggled up as tight as possible to Juno. He was a bit overly antsy, but when I felt how cold his mat was when I was rolling it up, I couldn't blame him.

Hardly slept Saturday night, due to Tim Lincecum pitching a no-hitter for the Giants, and when I did sleep, I had nightmares. I woke up from a really terrifying one with Kaline curled up into a tight ball, pressed into my stomach. I love my puppy so much, even though he's going through a lot of teenage brattiness right now.

Today, we had our first run in Excellent, and that's just what Juno was. Everything worked in our favor: we went in the first group, so it stayed cold; the course was full of things Juno is good at, and lacked pretty much all our major weak points; and Juno was just freaking on. The practice jumps were out again, and I think our little run-throughs really helped—we not only practiced jumping but also all the turns that preceded and followed the two course jumps. In the ring, I kept both my hands up like I was holding a treat, and just tried not to rush and to do things right instead of fast. Juno was staring up at me all the time, which she doesn't usually do. She was freaking awesome, I was so proud of her! And we got a 98—ended up being good enough for first! There was a nice photographer ringside, and hopefully I can get a print of this one photo he got, where Juno is flying over the jump with her eyes locked on my face. I am so proud of my wonderful girl!
Blue ribbon girl!
Kaline and Dad came over to meet us after awards, and we watched Kristin and Ben run (perfect 100 to earn their Advanced title!) and also got to see Sue Korp run her fantastic Dobe bitch with All The Titles in Utility. What an amazing working Doberman! She was just unbelievable. Kaline was a bit less focused today, probably tired from the day before. But no big issues; I think it's really good for him to have this exposure to tons of dogs. We saw another service dog team, a big gorgeous Leonberger, which was pretty cool. And I gave in and ordered myself a beautiful leash I don't need, as my reward for the first place.

Juno's reward for first place? A hamburger and gelato and later, some french fries! She liked that a lot better than she would've liked a leash, haha.

We went to lunch at a burger place and had both dogs outside and off-duty. Juno flopped down in the shade, while Kaline switched back and forth between snuggling with his oddly permissive sister and coming next to me to be a solar panel. And then we drove home. We were very tired when we arrived, as you might imagine!
Which brings me to last weekend, which was also really fun. Dad and I took the pups to Crissy Field for a blowout run, intending to eat Let's Be Frank hot dogs there. No hot dogs, but the dogs had an absolute blast—even Juno ran around like a maniac!

We headed to Pier 39, with Juno on-duty because I needed the momentum pull pretty bad after Crissy Field.

We found a lovely Italian place, but they had just closed the outdoor seating. Nonetheless, the sweet hostess said that since Kay was a SDIT, it'd be fine to take both of them in. They were impeccably behaved (it helped that Kaline was exhausted) and we had a wonderful time. And then on Sunday Kaline did really good work in his morning PA, and then we met up with Marissa and Macro for a run at the grove, and a little PA at Stanford. I was really proud of my wee man, he was such a pro, for the day.

Lest this sound overly gleeful, let it be known that Kaline has definitely hit his Doberteens. Sometimes it's like his brain has fallen out. We're working through it, I'm not freaking out, but it does suck a little. I can't wait for his brain to come back, you know? Sometimes he will just look at me like, “Make me.” This too, however, shall pass. We're not having any huge behavior problems, just annoying stubbornness and hardheaded-ness. And of course my champ Juno provides a much-needed break from all that, whenever I need it. Grin.

01 July 2013

Kaline meets his cousin; Juno goes to Pride

We had a very exciting weekend! The week was mostly a slog due to a disgusting heat wave, lots of walks in said heat, and the air conditioning not functioning properly. (WHY?!) But then Kaline's cousin Rowan, and his mom Amber, arrived in town after a very long drive from the magical land of Canada, and that made everything wonderful and exciting.

Saturday was a little bit crazy. I got up early to take Kaline to class (Dad and Juno skipped), and he did pretty well. There was a lot of stationary stuff because it was so hot. We came home and I did his nails at warp speed, because I had to get Juno to her massage appointment. (Don't judge me, it definitely helps her not have soreness.) After her massage, I switched dogs yet again and took Kaline up to Berkeley to meet Sonja, Chief, Amber, and Rowan at Paco Collars! Did I remember to get the keeper I've been needing for Kaline's collar for MONTHS? No, I did not!

We arrived and there was Rowan in all his glory. He and Kaline were immediately friends. Kaline licked Rowan's ears and face and Rowan seemed to find this delightful. He also did not mind Kaline swatting him with his paws, and swatted happily back. The cuteness was just overwhelming. Sonja and I were exceedingly distracting while Amber was trying to order Rowan's Paco, which will be totally gorgeous. Alas, she did not choose to have Canadian flag conchos put on it. I cannot imagine why!
Canadian Dobermans! Rowan's mother, Lucy, is a littermate of Kaline's mother, Dolce.
I was allowed 15 minutes of comparing Kaline to Rowan, so I will do a little of it here too. Rowan is five months older and looks (and acts) so much more mature. His chest is much broader and he's definitely taller. The boys' paws are the same size though! I actually hope Kaline doesn't grow much more vertically, because right now he is the perfect height. They have just the same play style and a lot of the same happy scratching spots. Rowan is so freaking snuggly and cute, and gives lots of kisses if you ask. I was kind of cheating on Kaline and Juno with him, it must be said.

After Paco, we took the dogs to Cesar Chavez Park to play off leash. Kaline did well except for a really annoying interlude where he would not hold a down-stay for love or money. This after a morning where he did perfect out of sight down stays. I definitely got overly frustrated with him, and must work on not doing that. Otherwise, everyone had a complete blast. Well, maybe not Chief, who had to be carried a lot or the Dobermans would have broken him with their insane crashing about. They absolutely loved playing together and racing around like maniacs! Whenever there was a lull Kaline would practically put his face into Rowan's mouth. So much cute. We exposed the dogs to a flapping kite at the end, right in their faces ... didn't care. Woot.
Kaline and Rowan at Cesar Chavez Park, photo by Sonja.
Sunday was the Pride Parade in San Francisco, which was extra festive and huge because of the recent Supreme Court rulings. Originally Sonja wanted to have our own contingent to march, consisting of owner-trainers of service dogs. But we couldn't get enough people or monitors, so when the Atheist Advocates of SF sent out an email asking for more marchers, I volunteered us. I went up with my high school friends Rachel and Lia, and we met Sonja, Hendrik, Amber, Chief, and Rowan in Brisbane, where we caught a bus.

Juno in her Pride gear!
Juno looked super, with rainbow ribbon wrapped around her guide handle and a big rainbow bow on the saddle of her BLD. She also wore her rainbow Glow collar from Paco and a rainbow bandanna from Rachel. At the parade, the only thing people could talk about was her boring, grey Ruffwear boots. Le sigh.

It was Rowan's first time on a bus, and he did wonderfully. Juno even let him touch her. The bus driver on the way there was amazing. He made all the people in the disabled seats move for us, and kept looking out for us the whole ride. Definitely planning to write a complimentary letter!
Rowan and Juno on the bus to Pride.
We got to the assembly area at the appointed time, found the atheists, who were absolutely LAST in line to march ... and waited. For over two hours. The dogs met a lovely cockatoo named Casper and got lots of oohs and ahhs. Did really well in the crowds also. Juno's pulling was, shall we say, spotty. But we all have our off days, right?

We waited in various places around the bus plaza, keeping the dogs and ourselves cool and hydrated. Unfortunately, Rachel and I both had to be back in Menlo Park in time for 6:00 dinner plans, so we reached a point where even if our group started marching that second, we wouldn't make it back in time. And thus we didn't get to march. Sad face. We still had a good time!
Rowan with rainbow ribbon and stickers.
Adorable Chief.
Juno looking less than thrilled about holding this ...
Amber & Rowan; Sonja & Chief; me & Juno
Rowan, Chief, and Juno.
Rowan on the bus back--such a fantastic boy!
Since Juno had done Pride, Kaline came to Dad's birthday dinner. It was his first time at a really nice restaurant (I think). He was so good. He stayed under my legs quietly the whole time, ignoring dropped french fries and such. On the way to the bathroom (TMI, I know, but there's a point!), he was very deft at swiveling his butt out of the way of doors opening and closing. Maybe he's finally getting some body awareness! Wouldn't that be wonderful.

Other developing stuff with Kaline: His anxiety/panic alert is supposed to be a leg nudge. We're working on this. But he has other thoughts. For a while, it was jumping on me in a non-excited way. I would tell him “off” and then get the nudge, and then he got to do DPT, which is basically a reward for him. So he's not really doing that anymore. Now, he's freezing in place and staring hard at me. Absolutely will not move. I appreciate the alert, but even after DPT he's reluctant to move, and that's a little inconvenient. So we need to figure out how to get to that elusive leg nudge. Homework!