Saturday, February 2, 2013

I'm not dead yet!

We've been busy....and apparently I have ADD (no really, I'm seeing a specialist about it) posting about our canine exploits frequently gets forgotten.  Looking back at my posts, I last wrote in April about what I did in February of 2012!  That means I have a whole year's worth of dog-riddled fun to share with you! 

First, Hoagie continued with his Freestyle last summer, complete with a second video. 

I have to admit that I like our first performance better.  I think I was trying to put some new moves in this performance that weren't quite ready.  We are currently taking another freestyle class, and should have another video for you soon!  Hoagie truly loves dancing, and I love dancing with him.  He's a great partner and I hope to continue for as long as he's willing.

The second bit of news is really special.  After all our hard work, in the middle of a rain storm, and amidst a chaotic conformation dog show, Hoagie and I earned our first qualifying Rally Obedience score! 

Posing with his ribbons.  Always the serious boy.

It only took 3 years, and a very kind judge.  It certainly wasn't the prettiest performance, but we squeaked by, and came out with a qualifying score and a 4th place ribbon.  Now we only have to do it two more times, and Hoagie will have a bona fide AKC rally obedience title.  Truly, I'm thrilled with a qualifying score, and if we never do it again, I will still feel as if we accomplished something significant.  This little milestone means a great deal to me, and the ribbons will always have a prominent place on my wall.  It may not seem like much, but considering what we've been through to get there, that green qualifying ribbon means more than any huge trophy ever could.

And now, we can't forget about Pretzel.  The little guy's also been a busy pup!
"Yeah!  Don't forget about me!"

This December we enjoyed walking in our first Christmas Parade with SLODOG. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of Pretzel in the parade, but I was able to find a video online.  SLODOG comes up at about the 25 minute mark.  Just a warning, the commentary and video quality are terrible, but we get a couple minutes of air time.  Pretzel got to ride in the decorated garden cart and hammed-it-up all the way through the parade.  We are definitely looking forward to next year's parade! 

Stew did manage to get a couple cool pictures of other folks in the parade.

Sweet light effects bro!

The last event of the year was probably one of Pretzel's favorites.  Our friend Katie invited us to try straight track racing with the newly formed CCASH: Central Coast Association of Sighthounds (an LGRA club)  Before you say it: no, pretzel is not a sighthound.  He's a, thing.  The great folks at CCASH however let us try running, and Pretzel may have found his new favorite sport.  All he had to do was run after a toy on a pulley system.  No training, no other dogs, no need to pay attention to Mom; just run like heck.  He turned out to be more enthusiastic about running than some of the actual sighthounds!  I'll have to wait until next time to get some pictures of him, but in the mean time, enjoy photos of some exceptionally beautiful and graceful sighthounds.

Beautiful Borzoi

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Silken Windhounds

Katie's gorgeous girl, Groovy, a Silken Windhound 

The majestic Chi-Peka-Shihtz Terrier:  Apparently built for speed.

So, all in all, we've been busy people and pups.  There's definitely more to share, and lots coming up soon, but that's for another blog post.  More Freestyle, Nose Work, and even some Agility on the horizon!  

Thanks for stickin' with me while I took a little writing hiatus.  Because you're all awesome, have a bonus ridiculous Christmas picture!  See ya'll next time!

*We moved to Nipomo in August, so our new backyard is a bit sandy.  We've taken to vacuuming a lot...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Video evidence of my insanity.

I present the long awaited video of our first Canine Freestyle performance!  (There are two run throughs of our routine on the video.)

This was taken at our last Freestyle class at Gentle Touch Pet Training back in February.   I got a bit lost towards the end of the 1st run, but I think we faked-it alright. 

Hoagie did fantastically, especially considering he had a bit of a traumatic run in with another dog in the class.  One of our classmates lost control of her dog during their routine, and he decided to be a bit forward greeting Hoagie.  As I may have stated before, Hoagie isn't exactly the "meet and greet" type when it comes to unfamiliar dogs.  With the help of Ivy and Teah, we were able to break things up, and after a little breather, Hoagie came out ready to shake his tail for a second run.

Despite the drama, everyone in the class did really well.  It was truly entertaining watching everyone work with their canine dance partners.  Between our performances I was able to get some great photos of all our classmates.  The pictures came  out a bit blurred due to the low light in the room, but let's just pretend they are intentionally dramatic action shots! (and not just due to me avoiding distracting the dogs with the camera flash).

Donna and Booker

Their pink theme was adorable!

Taz the Golden rockin' it!

Shiraz the cocker lookin' cute!

Teah, the owner of Gentle Touch with her English Cocker, Shamie.

I love the look on Teah's face in this picture.

Our starting pose.

Awesome figure eights!

Toe touches!

High five!  Ta-da!

Hopefully we will be able to continue working on our freestyle routine as we learn more moves and improve our skills.  We had lots of fun and look forward to plenty more doggy-dancing silliness!  Enjoy the video, but be nice, it's our first attempt.  Thanks, as always for reading!

P.S.  You can keep updated on all our pup related exploits by liking Short Paws blog on Facebook!  Thanks!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Pretzel!

April 7th was Pretzel's 1st birthday!  Yay!

Pretzel looks thrilled.

He did however have a nice day.  We went to SLODOG run through and handed out homemade dog cookies to all his canine friends.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them.  You really can't go wrong with pumpkin-peanut butter cookies!

Bone and squirrel shaped.  Yummy!

Pretzel certainly enjoyed his cookie.  (In his favorite spot on the nice carpet, of course.)
Big brother Hoagie even got a squirrel!
Then, Mommy subjected the boys to the obligatory birthday photo shoot.  Turns out Pretzel isn't quite the photo hound his brother is...

...but he's getting better.

Look at him rock that 70's background.  Not every pup can pull that off!

So happy 1st birthday to the best little Heinz 57 pup ever!  It's been quite a year, especially the 8 month's he's been with us, but we're happy to have him in our little family!

Happy Birthday Pretzel!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Don't Forget Pretzel!

Looking through my last couple posts, I noticed that we are lacking in Pretzel material!  I have to admit, this is partially due to a lack of Pretzel pictures.  Poor guy has been subject to the fate of all second children, and isn't getting his equal share of photos.

You're kidding right?  How could you resist photographing this adorable mug?
Seriously!  Look at these puppy eyes!

So, I figured the little guy deserved his own training update post.  Earlier this year he finished his first big-pup class: Elementary Clicker Training down at Gentle Touch.  There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but we both got a lot out of the class.

The first class was a great intro to clicker training, complete with a demonstration of doggy skateboarding.  Seeing Blaze the Swedish Vallhund skateboard definitely made my day.  Pretty much any dog skateboarding is crazy cute, and seeing it in person was even cuter!  (I don't have a video of Blaze doing it, so enjoy this adorable Boston scooting around Paris.)

The second class, however was where our challenges started.  Pretzel decided to show his hand, and remind me that he has some reactive dog tendencies.

*hangs head in shame*  I'm sorry Mom, I'm just a pup, and I'm still learning.
All the dogs were much bigger than him, and after feeling a bit threatened, he cried havoc upon a Belgian Sheepdog puppy.  Pretzel definitely struggled through his obvious dislike for the big black dog throughout the remaining 5 weeks of class.  On the up side, having floundered through this kind of thing with Hoagie, helping Pretzel through his fearfulness was comparably easy.

Yeah, um, you're welcome, I guess.

Besides his issues with his classmates, Pretzel and I learned lots.  He now has most of the basics under his belt, and is a pro at targeting and spins.  We even had the time on our last meeting to learn how to ring a bell.  With some extra work at home, Pretzel now happily rings a service bell for treats!

I can haz hotdog?

Pretzel, however, wasn't the only one to get a lot out of the class.  Ivy and Lisa are great teachers, and I really saw how much I still have to learn.  I definitely need to improve my clicker coordination and make sure I always have a flexible plan when training.  Pretzel reminded me that every dog is different, and has his or her own way of learning.  While Hoagie is a quick study, Pretzel requires a bit more practice to understand each behavior.  On the flip side, Pretzel is far quicker to offer new behaviors, making free shaping a bit easier.

So, all in all, Pretzel and I have come a long way through his first class, but we still have a long road to travel.  I'm looking forward to the trip with this wiry little pup!

 PS.  I haven't forgotten about my promise of embarrassing Freestyle video.  Currently waiting to get the video files from the videographer.  Soon...

Saturday, February 11, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I began a substantial new chapter in my decent towards total, crazy-dog-lady madness.  I started taking Musical Canine Freestyle at Gentle Touch Pet Training with Hoagie.  Yes, I've taken up dancing with my dog, and ya know what?  We are having an absolutely wonderful time!  I've been pondering this dog activity for a while, and am finally taking the plunge.  Don't get me wrong; this dog sport is ridiculous.  It truly takes a certain level of crazy to want to do this ↓ with your dog, much less in public.

I, however, have never been one to shy away from making a spectacle of myself, and I am only more pleased to have my best furry friends by my side to support me.

I worked 2 summers at a Civil War living history site and did 8 years of marching band.  Looking strange in public does not faze me in the least.

The final incident that pushed me towards trying Canine Freestyle, was the Rally-O practice I described a couple weeks ago in this blog post.  Hoagie and I have a lot of fun goofing around, doing tricks, and just letting him utterly ham it up!  That lead to the conclusion that Musical Canine Freestyle would be perfect for the Hoagmeister!

"My public awaits."
So, I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.  We've chosen our first song: : "Just What I Needed" by The Cars.  I believe we'll have a video of us doing our routine at the end of the class.  Though video evidence of me acting weird does make me a bit nervous, I'll try and get that posted for all of you to "enjoy."  Until then, we'll be practicing our leg weaves, backwards heeling, and spins.

In the mean time have an example of some amazing Canine Freestyle done by Michele Pouliot and her dog Listo (who, by the way, is doing a seminar at Gentle Touch this fall!)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Resolutions and Requests

Let me start by stating that I'm not particularly one for resolutions.  I tend to consider myself a bit of an "obsessionist" and therefore easily distracted by the next exciting project, interest, or shiny object.  This isn't something about myself I'm necessarily fond of, but I've come to accept it as one of my many personality flaws.  Now that I think of it, perhaps my obsessionist tendencies are partially why I relate to dogs...

Need I say more?
Anyway, I digress.  My dislike for resolutions is occasionally overwhelmed by my desire for self-betterment.
This year I have given in and made a couple resolutions.  The two that concern ya'll are that I have resolved to: A.) Work with and train the dogs on a more regular basis, and B.) Blog more often.

So far I'm doing fairly well on both accounts, but it is only January, and being both a realist and an obsessionist, I see the impending need for some form of external motivation.  That's where YOU come in!  I am interested in what you, my faithful readers would be interested in seeing more of in this blog.

I can tell you now that, although I liked doing them, I'm not prepared to do too many more of my stick figure drawing.  They are simply too time consuming.  (I know, I know, they are stick figure drawings, but have you ever tried to draw with a mouse in MS Paint and make it look like something recognizable?)

Good grief.
I'm still going to post training updates, and report on any activities, classes, or trials I attend with the pups.  That's what I started this blog to record.

Hoagie always wants more posts about how awesome he is!
Would ya'll like to see more training information?  Videos and articles?  Would you be interested in book reviews?  Cute pictures?  A bit of everything?  Anything you would like to see less of?  I've put a poll on the side bar for easy voting, and also on the Short Paws Blog Facebook page.  Feel free to comment below.  We'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sensei Hoagie

The boys and I enjoyed a nice SLODOG run through today.  It was another beautiful, sunny, winter day in San Luis Obispo.  (Though I miss ya'll out east, I love being back in CA.  It's hard to beat 70 degrees in January.)

As the new Rally Obedience organizer for run throughs, I had more on my plate than simply managing my two hooligans, but I think I fared alright.  Everyone seemed to enjoy my first attempt at designing a course, and importantly, I don't think too many people got lost mid-run.

Hoagie had a nice couple runs, but not before he taught me an important lesson.  Hoagie apparently shares a motto with Ben and Jerry's of ice cream fame: "If it's not fun, why do it?"  He reminded me that training, competing, and working with dogs is supposed to be, above all, FUN!

Hoagie does love ice cream.

I started practice today by marching directly over to the Rally course with Hoagie in tow, set my shoulders, took a breath, and walked towards the first sign.  I noticed fairly quickly that the pup wasn't terrible "into it."  His nose hit the grass and stayed there through the first two signs.  I gave him a couple gentle tugs to keep him moving. His gaze instead switched to the bushes on the other side of the park and he firmly planted his butt on the ground.  He wasn't having any of it; Hoagie checked out and left no forwarding address.

Sensing I wasn't going to get any more out of him for the moment, we broke course and headed over to the adjacent empty field.  There we watered a couple trees, and took a mental break.  We checked out the bushes he was concerned about, he earned a couple treats when he looked back to me.  Together we did a few of his favorite tricks.  I realized that when we started doing tricks, both of us relaxed.  His face softened up, he gave me his full attention, and instead of wanting to drag me around, he happily heeled by my side.  The light bulb went off above my head.

Good grief, my mom is dense sometimes.

I was being entirely too serious about running through the Rally course.  The reason we started Rally Obedience instead of formal Obedience competition was because of it's relaxed attitude, the ability to talk to and encourage your dog on course, and the emphasis on having FUN together!  Heck, part of your score in a trial is whether the dog looks like he's enjoying himself!

Once we were both more relaxed, Hoagie happily trotted back to the course with me.  I used an upbeat tone (and a couple nibbles of cheese) to encourage him through the signs, and he gleefully obliged.  We finished with a big hooray, a puppy high five, and a big bite of liver treat.

Oh yeah!  Gimme some paw!

Hoagie has been, and continues to be my master teacher in all things doggy.  Don't get me wrong; the folks at Gentle Touch Pet Training, and Canine Academy are amazing instructors!  I've also learned tons from incredible dog authors such as Patricia McConnell, Karen London, and Karen Pryor.  Hoagie however is the Mr. Miyagi to my Daniel-san.  He's taught me an unbelievable amount about how his little puppy brain works, the relationship humans have with animals, and the importance of learning to relax and have fun!

Teacher Hoagie wants you to hit the books.

Today Hoagie reminded me that we ought to do dog sports because our dogs enjoy them.  I could have forced him to finish that first attempt.  I could have yanked him around the course, scolding him for sniffing and pleading for his attention.  Would that have been fun for either of us?

Skeptical Hoagie is skeptical.

So, instead, here's to many more fun practices with my pooches!  Here's to happy pups and a relaxed dog Mom.  Here's to doing it for the dog, not for the ribbons and titles!

I look forward to many more lessons with my puppy professor.  As long as I'm ready to listen, Hoagie has plenty to teach.

And now, with Pretzel in the house, I have a second professional perspective to learn from!  (And you can bet the Terrier School of Doggy Education definitely has a challenging new curriculum for me to study.)

Professor Pretzel says:  "This will be on the test."

Have fun listening to your dogs!  They definitely have lots to teach, as long as you are willing to listen!

P.S.  Yes, I do love staging elaborate and silly dog photos.  Don't judge me!  You know it's cute!