Saturday, May 31, 2008

I've been tagged!

The other day I was tagged by Johann ( to answer some questions so I'll give it a go!

#1. What was I doing 10 years ago? - Well, I was born on February 15, 2007, so I don't know about 10 years ago. I think my great-grandfather was winning lots of conformation shows at that time. His name was Cruise and he is supposedly pictured in the newest edition of Sheltie Talk.

#2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today? - Today is almost over so I'll answer for tomorrrow. Poop, pee, eat, sleep, and follow mom around to do whatever she is doing - agility, obedience, tricks, walking, gardening, etc.

#3. Snacks I enjoy: I like almost everything but some of my favorites are - Zuke's minis in salmon or peanut butter, string cheese, chicken jerky, cheerios, apples, carrots, and strawberries.

#4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: I would save the symphony where my mom and dad work so that they would still have jobs, I would try to help homeless pups in any way that I could, and I would build an agility training center so that mom and my trainer Deb could open up their own school.

#5. Three of my bad habits: barking at people, dogs, and motorcycles that go by my house, jumping on mom when I get overly-excited, and car chasing (although I getting better at that one).

#6. Five places I have lived: I've only lived in two places - the home where I was born and the one I live in now with mom and dad.

#7. Five jobs I have had: going to obedience classes, agility classes, following mom everywhere, guarding the house and yard from everything!, and chasing birds, squirrels and rabbits out of the yard.

That's about it. Hope you are all having a good weekend! Oh, BTW, mom and I practiced with our chute (including making it seem darker by putting a blanket on it) and I had no trouble with it at all. Hopefully I will be fine at our next agility class.

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Agility Level 1 Class 3

Last night's agility class did not go well. It started out kind of ok. The class was split into larger dogs and smaller dogs again (about 6 dogs per group). The smaller dog group went to one side of the room and practiced jumps. Three of the dogs are repeating level 1 so the instructor always has them go first - like they are the demo dogs or something. But they are not very good. So it means a lot of waiting around for my turn while these dogs repeat their exercise. First we did straight tunnel and then a three-jump chute. That went ok for me. Then we tried it tunnel, jump, jump, post turn, tire. I kept blowing mom off and taking the third jump by myself. Maybe mom was cueing me to turn too late but sometimes I think she said "here" at the right time and I just wanted to take the third jump any way. We also practiced this with going to the table and then the broad jump. Here our troubles continued because even though I jumped the broad jump last week, this week I decided to walk over it. Finally with a big running start, I jumped it. Also kind of funny, but mom tried to be quieter and not yell so loudly (since Deb suggested that the other night) and the instructor told her she need to get her commands out louder and get excited, etc. Go figure.

After about 40 minutes it was the small dogs' turn to go to the other side of the room. Here's where things got ugly. The instructor introduced us to the chute for the first time. Now at home we have a chute made out of a shower curtain - it is a light color (so not very dark inside) and not as long as a real chute. But I have done it successfully many times. So mom thought the real chute wouldn't be much of a problem for me. One instructor rolled it up and held it open for the first few times so it just looked like a tunnel. When it was my turn, mom said "go chute" and started running and I refused to go in and went around. After a few tries, I did go through. But the instructor kept having us go again and again (at this point only the three dogs who had never done the chute before were working on it). There was barely time to catch your breath or get some praise and a treat before it was time to go again. I didn't like the noise of everybody yelling, I didn't like it when dogs came out of nowhere near me because their owners were not able to control them, I didn't like the instructor holding me at one end so mom could call me through at the other end, I didn't like the constant repetition...... The instructor said she wanted all dogs to go through with the chute completely on the ground before we could move on to the dog walk. Mom tried to tell them we had had enough but she wasn't firm enough about it. Basically it ended up with trying to shove me into the chute and I got bummed out and was not having fun (and needless to say, neither was mom)! Finally the instructor said that was enough for now. This was like after our 25 try! I went on to do really well on the dog walk - last night it was set up with the ramps on a table. And I did great on the a-frame.

Mom was really disappointed with herself for not putting a stop to the frantic chute training. We are so new to all of this - agility and dog training in general - and sometimes it's difficult because you are trying to follow the instructors' directions - I mean they are the instructors after all! And it's funny because they are always saying stuff like you don't want to scare your dog or turn your dog off, etc. Then they go and do something like this with the chute last night. We don't know why it was so important to try to progress to having the chute all the way on the ground in one session when they teach everything else in maddingly slow increments! But mom and I learned an important lesson and in the future mom will be much quicker to question what is going on and to stand up for me.

This morning we did some fun jumps and weaves and later mom is planning on getting out our chute and trying to erase the bad memories of last night. Wish us luck!

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I love doing tricks almost as much as I love agility! Mom and I have been learning new tricks for as long as I can remember. I keep bugging her to help me make a trick video. This week mom finally learned how to use our video camera and the tripod. So with a little planning, we should have a trick video up on YouTube soon! In the meantime, we need some new ideas for tricks. I think we know the basic ones. Right now I am working on walking backwards (eventually I want to weave backwards through mom's legs (I already can do it frontwards), cop cop (standing between mom's legs with my feet on her feet and walking), push a door closed (I do touch and then I do scratch at the door which isn't exactly push!), and today she started teaching me how to nod my head and also to jump over and go under mom while she does a push-up (kind of). I would love to learn to do a handstand, and we've seen some great videos on YouTube about how to teach it. We also love to check out Dog Trick Academy for advice and ideas. We have never done clicker training, so we do the best with tricks that can be taught with a food lure. Mom usually alternates teaching me tricks and teaching me the formal obedience exercises to keep it fun. All she has to say is, "Ricky, do you want to do lessons?" and I'm right there by her side! So if anyone has any good suggestions for tricks, let us know!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Wed. Agility Class/Thurs. Advanced Obedience Class

I've been a busy pup the past few days! Wednesday night was our second level 1 agility class. It went really well. I did my first-ever a-frame (although it was set lower than usual). I just walked right up and over it and did my hit-it at the target on the other side. Mom was impressed but she knew I would not have a problem with it. I also did my first-ever broad jump - also no problem for me. So far we are basically getting introduced to all of the equipment and hopefully soon we'll start to do some sequences.

Thursday night was the fourth advanced obedience class with my trainer Deb. We missed the third class since mom had to work. So it had been two weeks since we had seen Deb and the other pups in the class. Last night only three of us showed up so we got lots of individual attention. We worked on off-leash heeling and attention, figure eight, sit and down stays with distractions, and get-up, get-over, get-back. I don't like the get-back part but I am good at the others. Then Deb got out a couple jumps and the tire and we did a little agility for fun. At the end of the class, we did a little work with the dumbbell - a Golden in our class is getting really good at it. He will take it, hold it, drop it, heel with it, do a recall with's very inspiring. I will kind of hold it if mom puts it in my mouth but I am very good at dropping it! So guess we need to work at that. Deb thinks it's a good idea for me to get my CD title in obedience because she says all the work mom and I will do together to get that title will make us a much better team at whatever we want to do including agility. Also Deb told mom that she is too loud when we are doing agility and recalls (mom gets so excited!). She thinks that mom should save her loud excited voice for special occassions in agility - like when she really needs to get my attention. Mom is going to work on being more quiet - after all I am following her body language really well and I don't need all that yelling!

Today mom took me to our favorite park! We hadn't been there in quite awhile. After we did our usual meandering around, mom got my long line out of the car and took me out into a big grassy area and we worked on sit/stay and recalls. It was so much fun and I did a great job if I say so myself! Then mom walked around and I followed her everywhere dragging the long line behind me. Every time mom changed direction, I followed. If she ran, so did I. And if she called me, I went straight to her. It gave us both a sense of freedom and also hope for the future that some day, just maybe, I can be trusted off-leash! For now, though, the 30ft. long line is great!

Gotta zoom!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Cool May

We have been having uncharacteristically cool weather these past few weeks - lots of rain and clouds and temperatures in the low 60s. Mom and I have still been doing our morning walks and a little agility training and some gardening. The front flower garden is starting its third year and the perenials are really getting big. Looks pretty lush behind me, right? Guess it is all that rain! In the backyard we have the fish pond garden. It doesn't get a lot of sun so mom always used to fill it with impatiens for the summer. This year she decided to try to get a few perenials going because I use the garden for a zoom path from the gate out into the yard when I am chasing motorcycles or loud cars or the mailman!
All of our flowering trees bloomed up a storm this spring but strangely enough the azalea behind me skipped blooming this year altogether!
You can just barely see my weave poles in the background. Lately I have been skipping the fourth pole regularly - I think I am in a hurry to finish and get my reward! Mom is worried that I am developing a bad habit. So today we practiced teeter and then jump chutes - with mom running with me, then leading out, then calling me over them, and then sending me. Sending is the hardest for us, but I was doing pretty well overall.

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Agility Level 1

Last night was our first level 1 agility class at the club. It was great to be back in an agility class after having three weeks off. The class is in the actual agility building this time, and we are in the first class of the night. So not so much waiting around for the last class to finish and fewer treats left on the floor for me to hoover up! Last night was a get-acquainted with obstacles night for pups who might have never seen jumps and tunnel before. We started with some heeling to get loosened up and then split into two groups - smaller dogs and bigger dogs. I got to go through a really long straight tunnel - I was super fast and had mom running full-out to meet me at the other end. And I even got to try the curved tunnel - my first one ever. No problem. We did a wing jump (also never seen one of those) and walked a real dog walk plank although it was on the ground. When it was time for us to try the weave poles, they had them set up with wires and a straight channel. Mom told our instructor that I already knew the concept of weaves so she let us do it without the wires and with the poles in a straight line. I wasn't perfect but did prove to her that I had the idea so she said we shouldn't use the wires. Cool. Mom was worried that they would make us start over and that it would mess me up. We also did three jumps in a row and table. The only thing last night that was really new to me was something called a buja board. For any dogs who have never been on a teeter before, it gets them used to motion under their feet. It is a like a plywood board about 3'x3' and it has a small ball underneath it and this makes the board rock around. I was not fazed by it - mom tried to let me figure it out slowly, but I just climbed on and started walking all over it and smelling it. This class will introduce us to all obstacles except the teeter. It will be fun to get used to regulation equipment. And I am sure mom will learn more handling skills - she's gonna need them if she is going to keep up with me!

Today mom read a jump exercise in an old Clean Run magazine - make a box out of four jumps and teach jump left and jump right and also go out jump and here jump. She set it up and I did great and I was so excited about jumping and getting rewarded with tugging on my slip lead that I didn't even notice that no food treats were involved! When we were finished with the exercises, mom threw my frisbee and that gave me the zoomies! I zoomed faster than ever around the backyard and took two jumps in a row on my own at full speed! Wish we had a video of that! I have always liked agility, but now I think I'm starting to LOVE it!

Gotta zoom!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Trip to the Vet

This morning mom and I went to see Dr. Jan for my yearly check up and vaccinations. The last time I got any shots, I was less than thrilled. But what puppy is happy about shots when you're just a little guy and they stick those needles in you so many times in so few weeks! Other than that, I had been to Dr. Jan for that nasty cornea scratch back in November - I remember that very well - all those drops in my eye! Yuck! Mom has taken me to the vet office to get weighed and to get heartworm and flea medicine, and I don't mind those trips because I get these really good treats just for going in there and sitting on the scale. So I was feeling pretty good when we walked in the door of the vet office this morning. I stood on the scale again (14.3lbs) and then sat on mom's lap while we waited. When the nice vet tech came to take us into the exam room, I first headed for the door to exit the building, thinking that possibly our getting up meant we were done. Oops, guess I was wrong because mom headed in the opposite direction. Ok so then we were shut in a little room which I remembered from the eye visit (I was a little nervous about that). Two vet techs came in and drew some blood from my leg - not too bad, I took it well. Then we waited for Dr. Jan. I could hear her in the hallway. When she came into our room, I couldn't decide if I wanted to jump for joy (I really like her!) or run for the hills! She gave me a quick exam and with the help of yet another nice tech, gave me my shots, and it was over in a flash! I was back down on the floor, and Dr. Jan gave me a huge biscuit - at first I didn't even know how to eat it but soon figured it out! Then she gave me half of another one! Mom was protesting that she was giving me too much (shh, quiet mom!). Mom didn't want me to get sick from eating so much biscuit that I'm not used to having. I think mom should realize that if I can eat my weight in bunny poop and be ok then I can surely survive eating biscuits at the vet's. Any way after that we said our goodbyes and came home! No big deal really now that it's all over. Hopefully I won't be back in that little exam room for another year, and I can just look forward to seeing Dr. Jan here at my house when she brings her son for viola lessons!

Gotta zoom!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

A lot of work and a little training

Mom has been busy at work this week, so she hasn't been able to help me type until today. She's glad for the work, but I am not used to spending so much time alone. I have been a good boy though and just sleep until she gets home. For her part, mom has made sure we go on long walks in the morning before work, and she comes home at lunch to see me and to let me go out.

We had our second advanced obedience class with Deb on Thursday night. I am pleased to report that I was more focused on what mom was telling me to do than last week. When we got inside the building, the first thing mom did was a little heeling with me and then a sit/stay. I held it too! So that was a good sign. When the class actually started, we did some more heeling trying to work on attention and straight sits. We did it on leash and then tried it off leash. Mom and I practice off leash heeling at home all the time. Combine that with the agility training we do and it makes me pretty good at staying by her side. We also worked on military and around finishes - I'm already fairly good at those. Then we did some out of sight sit/stays and down/stays. I am king of the down/stay and did well on the sit/stay except I have trouble staying there on mom's first command. After class anyone who wanted help with dumbbells could stay late. So we did and mom learned some more about getting me to take it, hold it, and drop it. I had to sit in heel position and then mom had to gently force me to take it, then tip my head back and hold under my jaw to keep me holding it, and then the drop it was a piece of cake. So with practice we should get it. We are working this week to get a 15-sec. hold.

Today we had our first hummingbird in the yard! A female came to our feeder but didn't stay long. Probably the water was too dirty. Mom and I changed it and are all excited that maybe this is the beginning of seeing a hummingbird regularly at our feeder.

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Big Backyard Bird Day!

Today we woke up to lots of birds singing in our backyard! May is a big month for bird migration and for some reason many decided to land in our neighborhood last night and rest up from their travels and eat and sing! Mom and Dad have learned to identify many birds by ear. So they would listen to a bird sing, and then find the bird with binoculars. There were a total of 28 different species of birds seen and/or heard from our backyard today! The highlights included chestnut-sided, blackburnian, tennessee, nashville, and yellow rump warblers, american redstart, ovenbird, swainson's thrush, blue-headed vireo, orchard oriole, baltimore oriole, and catbird. I didn't get nearly as excited by all these fancy birds as mom and dad did - these birds mostly hang out way up high in the trees and I can't get near them. Give me robins, mourning doves, and house sparrows any day - they are more down to earth and way more fun to chase!

Yesterday afternoon a great-blue heron landed on our neighbor's house - he was eyeing the fish in our pond! But I barked at him and told him to get the heck out of there and he flew off shortly after we took this photo (if you click on it, you'll be able to see the heron much better!):

Gotta zoom!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The nearby farm

On our way home from the cemetery, we stopped at a farm that is only about a mile from our house. It is part of the local university and kids study agriculture there. We love it because even though it's in the city it feels like you're way out in the country. In previous years, (before I was even born), mom and dad have seen lots of wildlife there - including deer and coyotes! You can see the city is sort of visible in the background - this is not a great picture! Here is one of the cow pastures.
This was the first place I ever saw and smelled cows! Wish I could get out of the car and run after them. All I get to do is watch from the window and bark a little.
This cow came to check us out - she's probably not more than five feet from our car.
We're so glad we had the opportunity to get out and enjoy the gorgeous weather - sunny and not too hot! Too bad all days can't be like this one!

Gotta zoom!


Birding in a Cemetery

Mom and Dad took me on a birding trip to a local cemetery this afternoon. Birding in a cemetery you say? Yep, this place is a hot spot for spring migration - lots of warblers and other migrants show up here every May. Part of the attraction is this old quarry pond that I am sitting next to. It is ringed with big old trees and birds love it. On the rest of the cemetery grounds there are lots of old trees - many, many varieties. It's a lovely place to walk even if you're not looking for birds! Good thing, too, because we didn't see many birds! There were more warblers in our own neighborhood than at the cemetery today! We did see a rose-breasted grosbeak, a warbling vireo, and a great-crested flycatcher. Here I am posing on a crypt (I think that's what it's called). Eastern wood peewees nest on this structure every year.
And just to prove that we are indeed in a cemetery, here I am paying my respects to fallen servicemen.

Gotta zoom!


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Past Few Days

Today is a rainy Saturday - perfect time to try to catch you up on what I've been doing for the past few days. Thursday mom went and bought some annuals to put in pots on the front porch and on the back patio. Our super nice neighbors had given us a gift card to a local gardening store, so everything mom got was free for us! The flowers look little in their pots right now, but they should grow and be big and beautiful in a couple months. Mom also planted canna lillies in several places in front and back and also along our neighbor's house. I helped by being good on my leash in the front yard and by doing a stellar down/stay in the backyard. (Mom prefers that kind of help from me rather than the barking and excited circling that I would do otherwise! I mean shovels and dirt and watering cans excite me, what can I say?!)

Mom decided that we would take my trainer Deb's off-leash advanced obedience class again - we took it in August/September last year, and we thought maybe since I am a little older and mom is a little wiser we might get more out of it this time. The first class was Thursday night. There were only 5 pups - we knew two of them from our foundation agility class and one of them from a class field trip. I was thrilled to see Deb! But my performance in the class left something to be desired. It started out with some ok on-leash heeling. But then we lined up for recalls and when the first person called their dog, all 5 of us jumped up and started running. I admit it, I was confused. I kind of looked to the left and to the right and at mom and thought, "well all the other dogs are running, guess I should be too!" And after that, I just couldn't hold a stay for the life of me! I knew that mom was getting frustrated but so was I! Deb started wondering if there was a full moon! And one of the mom's that we knew from agility told mom that I was a dog that seemed to be better at agility than obedience! Come on, it was just the first class and I wasn't used to the room and the pups and people that were there! And the class is at 8:45PM and frankly that's past my bedtime! I know I am making a lot of excuses but we plan on proving that I can be a good obedience dog too - for example, I did an excellent stand for exam, and I gave mom a lot more attention (ie. watch me) than I did when we took the class before. I do awesome sit/stays and down/stays at home - it's hard to practice the effect other pups and people and floors (my back feet slip a lot) have on me unless we practice in these classes. But we are really happy to be a part of Deb's class - it's a great alternative to the advanced novice class we postponed taking at the club. Also I get to see Deb each week!! Hurray!

Gotta zoom!