Today Elly is 4 years old! We don’t do major hoopla for birthdays around here, but we did manage to get in a few of her favorite activities and she even got a new toy.
In the morning we went for a walk to her favorite park. I allowed a little off leash time outside the dog park and she got extra time to check out each gopher hole inside the dog park since no one else was around.
When we got back from the park I decided to take her to a couple pet stores to pick out a new toy and maybe a treat. It’s also a great place to work on her socialization skills with people and dogs. She also got several treats from employees. She is even brave enough now to go behind the counter and ask for treats!
We looked at several toys but she seemed quite intrigued by the funny noise one particular toy made. I also got her a small beef trachea for her treat.
After the pet stores a nap in the sun was in order.
She also spent time sleeping in the sun in the side yard while I was pruning the apple tree. Every now and then she would come to the back yard and check on my progress… she was not at all helpful with pruning.
After my nap (pruning is hard!) and her dinner it was time for her birthday treat and toy. She ate the trachea so fast I didn’t get any pictures. But I did get this video of her playing with her new hedgie.
Next up was her normal food toy- she usually gets one every night as part of her core and balance exercises. But for her birthday she got some extra special treats. I always put a few treats in that won’t come out on their own so she has to bring me the bottle after she gets all the easier ones out. I had just broken up the last couple treats and given the bottle back to her when I shot this video.
It’s funny how she has learned to take the bottle to her bed when she gets tired. She chases it around the room for awhile but usually ends up in her bed at the end.
Speaking of tired, after the trachea, hedgie and bottle it was time for another nap, she is after all 45% pug!
While I was typing up this post she snuggled down in her bed in my craft room…to wait until we go to bed!
The judges may ‘Pronounce’ handler/dog teams demonstrating exceptional technique and/or teamwork at each NW1, NW2, NW3, Elite, and Summit League trials. This is not part of the title, but rather an acknowledgement of exceptional teamwork on that particular trial day.
We earned our NW2 Title in October, guess what else we got?
The designation of Pronounced is hard to earn at a trial, each of the four element searches have to designated as Pronounced independently. In addition, at this NW2 Trial only 8 of 38 dogs earned their Titles.
I’m so proud of how far Elly and I have come- Elly gaining confidence and amazing NW skills, me… just keeping up with her!
When we go to class or compete at Trials she is so confident and focused, she really loves playing ‘the game’. Look at her body language in the photo below- she can’t wait to get going!
Here are two photos from the Exterior search we did. There were two hides to find in this element.
Here are two photos from the Vehicle search, there were 4 vehicles and only one hide.
I like the last picture because of her reflection in the car… my truck is rarely clean enough to see a reflection!
We didn’t get any pictures from the Interior searches or from the Containers search.
We did get video from Exteriors, Vehicles, Containers and one of the two Interior searches. It’s rare to get Interior search videos- the spaces used are often not big enough for a person to shoot videos. The one we got was done with a remote GoPro set up.
I buy the videos whenever they are available. They are one of the best learning tools available. It’s not always pretty watching the searches, but I learn so much about how Elly acts and reacts to the environment and to what I am doing.
There are good things in each video, and definitely things in each for us to work to improve our skills.
VEHICLES: 4 cars, 1 hide. The hide was behind the tire she focuses on, considered inaccessible- she can’t get right to it. I could have called ‘alert’ much sooner since she was close enough, but I LOVE watching her work and try to get right to the source.
INTERIORS: there were two rooms with one hide each, we only got video of one room. As you can see when she finds the hide, we went past it a couple times. This would be considered a ‘threshold’ hide- that is near the doorway. We train so that she should find a threshold hide on the way into the room, so we need more work there.
EXTERIORS: two hides in an outdoor courtyard. She found the first one right off- I would consider that a threshold hide, so that was a good find for her. She wandered a bit after she found the first one, but that is sometimes how she picks up the odors. Near the end but before she finds the second hide you will see that she changes direction because I step into her path. That’s bad on my part and something I have been working on. As it turns out she went toward the hide, but in a past trial I redirected her like that and pushed her away from a hide.
CONTAINERS: 3 hides in 18 containers with 3 distractions. At level 2 and up distractors can be used in containers- it can be food, toys or other things placed in the containers. This is to demonstrate that your dog can disregard ‘distractions’ and find and alert on the correct odor. The first white box closest to the door had a toy in it, Elly never looked at that box. In the second orange box (from the door) there were corn chips. She never really went to that box, but sniffed around that end of the search area. The row of plastic boxes closest to the camera had a bagel- you can tell the box when Elly get to it. She sniffs, but doesn’t alert me. I knew she was interested in the smell, but I knew she was not on odor. Ideally in a container search you would go up one row and down the next, checking each container. Elly tends to be quite random, I’m not sure if she is chasing odor or just wandering around. We get to the right conclusion but we could be much more efficient. This is something we are working on quite a bit right now.
We are doing really well especially considering Elly was afraid of boxes less than 2 years ago and would not enter a room with strangers inside. But there is so much more to learn! As long as Elly still likes it and keeps making progress with her issues we will keep playing the game.
I usually feed Elly her breakfast in a mushroom shaped food dispensing toy. I put it on the easiest setting to start but within a few days she was emptying it in a few minutes and I had to make it harder. That slowed her down to about 10 minutes per meal but again she mastered it and was emptying it in record time. So now I have it set at the hardest level, she still usually empties it in less than 10 minutes. She rolls it around the living room, sometimes picking it up, running with it and then letting it go. She burns a little energy and works on her balance too!
This past Sunday though she took a different tact. Usually after I give her the toy she will run off with it and I can hear her rolling it around the living room. On Sunday she took off with it but then it was quiet. Quiet generally means that it is stuck under a chair or stool and she waits for me to come get it for her. I went in to see where it was stuck on Sunday morning and found her sitting in her bed with her toy.
She spent almost 15 minutes eating her breakfast without leaving the bed. It took so long that a the beginning of the video (I recorded her whole breakfast) the entire bed was in the sunshine coming though the window, by the end of the video the left part of the bed was shaded.
Sometimes a girl just needs breakfast in bed on a lazy Sunday!
(be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear her crunching)
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I updated this blog. A busy summer working the Shakespeare Festival, some family health issues and my arm in a cast…blogging somehow didn’t rise to the top priority!
I missed blogging about Elly’s one year ampuversary although I did manage a forum post. She has been home for more than 10 months now and is really comfortable here. She is still wary of strangers and dogs and pretty much anything that she hasn’t seen before. On one of our morning walks we came across a donation bag sitting on the sidewalk- it took her 5 minutes to get the nerve to sniff it and finally walk past. Since plastic bags seem to be one of her triggers we’ve been working extra hard on getting comfortable with them. If we walk early enough in the morning there are usually several newspapers in driveways in plastic bags. Elly will now ‘tag’ them (touch with her nose) on command!
We have also completed two more classes. One was called Canine Confidence which gave us some insight on shy and traumatized dogs. And tonight we completed our third Strength, Balance and Body Awareness class. We’ve had the same trainer for all three of these and she is really impressed with Elly’s progress, especially with her confidence. Vicki was nice enough to video our second run through the equipment course tonight. I hang onto to Elly’s harness to keep her safe on the taller equipment and because I take her leash off, she freaks out when her leash drags across her back (so many issues!).
Here she is, although tired she still Rocked the Course!
If figures that I would adopt a puppy during an El Nino year! I’m happy about the rain, we need it to get out of the drought and water use restrictions, but tiring out a puppy without any outside time can be tough. I’m lucky that Elly likes to practice obedience skills, work on core strength, and play food games. Her big brother Obie likes to play with us sometimes too.
I’m working with Elly on some tricks too…but that is for another post.
Obie sitting on the balance disc… and waiting for his treat!
Elly on the FitBone with brother rooting her on.
Elly on the FitBone. She is really good at two up (feet) but we are still working on 3 up.
Elly playing Dog Twister. I feed her part of her dinner this way sometimes.
Obie and his Tug-a-Jug, he loves this thing. I don’t think Elly knows how to play with this one yet, but she knows to follow Obie because treats magically appear!
Elly and her Hol-ee Roller ball. She is still working on her strategy with this one.