For one thing this is my first post in over a year! But this is about Elly and a weekend full of firsts for her.
We went to a Nose Work Trial in Southern California on the first weekend in May which was our longest road trip so far, over 6 hours in the truck each way. Elly has never slept in the truck, she is usually sitting near the center consul so she can touch my arm, it has been this way since I adopted her 2.5 years ago. But on this trip she did finally take a little nap of about 3o minutes on the way home, probably out of sheer exhaustion!
We stayed two nights at a hotel, the first night she was a little growly when she heard people in the hallway or outside the window but she got used to it pretty quickly. One funny thing happened in the hallway- we were walking past someone who was knocking on a door and Elly started barking. In Elly’s world no knock goes unanswered!
I also built a road case that we could pack our stuff in and would also function as stairs so Elly could get up and down from the bed by herself (like our stairs at home). I didn’t get it finished until the day before we left so we didn’t get to practice. She was hesitant at first but got comfortable with it pretty quick although I had to watch her to keep her from jumping off the bed instead of using her stairs.
It was pretty warm down there, 90 degrees on Trial day, so I took the cooling vest I got for quad Pug boy Obie. When you are at a Nose Work Trial your dog has to wait in the car or in a crate next to the car between turns. Elly had never worn it, she doesn’t get as hot as Obie does and I usually wouldn’t have her out for long periods of time when it was 90 degrees. She wore the vest like she had worn it forever! Between the cooling vest and a battery operated fan she was very comfortable and not even panting most of the time. BTW- I make what I call our fort in the bed of my truck. There is an awning over the lumber rack with aluminet shade tarp over the top and covering the sides, this is where we wait together for our turn. The two pictures below were taken in the fort- I forgot to get a picture from the outside.
Oh- and then there was her first Nose Work Title! She was perfect in four interior searches and earned her Nose Work 1 Interior Title in an Element Specialty Trial.
I am so proud of how far Elly has come, she is far braver and more confident than when we first met. When we stared nose work over a year ago she wouldn’t put her head into a box or walk under a chair. If anyone in the room moved or made a sound she would stop searching. She wouldn’t let anyone approach us without hiding behind me. She also has severe separation anxiety which makes leaving her in the truck between her search turns in class or at a trial problematic. With the help of our trainer we have made great progress with the sep anx. At first she would flip out when I simply opened the driver’s side door. We started there and have made incremental but steady progress. At the Trial I had to go to a pre-brief which took 20 minutes so Elly was alone in the truck all that time. She was pretty ramped up when I came back but settled down quickly. Before the Trial the maximum amount of time I had left her in the truck was 15 minutes. The fact that she recovered from the 20 minutes and was able to do her searches with success gives me confidence that we will continue to progress as we go forward with Nose Work Trials and life in general.
I was skeptical when the rescue group told me that Elly was a Puggle, she is really small for a Puggle and doesn’t look like any Puggle that I have ever seen. It wasn’t the breed that attracted me to her anyway, it was this face:
I do see the Pug in her and she does spend a lot of time tracking and sniffing like a Beagle. Her doggie friend Sophie is a Puggle and when they are together they act a lot alike.
I was hoping that knowing her breed(s) might help me sort out her behavior issues: she is skittish and very slow to trust, she is afraid of loud noises and many things that move, she has a weird form of separation anxiety, just to name a few. On the other hand she spends most of her time on walks with her nose on the ground. She would chase cats if I let her and she has chased squirrels out of the back yard. She recently discovered that creatures live in the holes in the park and she started digging.
I hope the breed info from her DNA will help me understand her better.
Without further ado here are Elly’s breed results from Embark:
9.0% Shih Tzu
5.5% Brussels Griffon
I’ve had years of experience with pugs but I don’t know anything about the other breeds. I did some reading and I do see some Chihuahua traits in her. I think her coat type is from the Chi as well as her inclination to shake when she is really scared. The thing that doesn’t match in my mind is that all of the listed breeds are known to be outgoing and confident… certainly not Elly!
Elly also spends most of her time with her nose on the ground tracking, a trait that the majority of the identified breeds don’t seem to have. Of the listed breeds the only dog that has a history of tracking or chasing is the Brussels Griffon- they originated as rat killers in Belgium.
There are some other interesting results from Embark such as their estimated weight of 8 pounds for Elly’s weight (she is healthy at 15 pounds) and her ‘Wolfiness’ score of 5.4% which is exceptionally high (forum post on Wolfiness score). She also tested clear on most of the genetic disease markers. Her coloring also fascinates me, its called piebald with black ticking, which could of come from a couple of the identified breeds. Embark does not test for the piebald gene yet, according to them she should be solid black. But these topics are for another post.
Back to the blog title…of course I called it Life with a Tri-Puggle when I started the blog since Maggie’s blog is Life with a Tri Pug, but Elly is clearly not a Puggle. Dogs that are pug/chihuahua mixes are called Chugs, but she is not a Chug either since she has several other breeds swirled in her DNA. Her highest percentage is Pug so I kept the Tri-Pug and added the only other thing that makes sense…MUTT!
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)
We have been enjoying a few days of sun after quite a bit of rain. We have still been getting out almost every day to Elly’s favorite park. Her fav activity at the park is to cruise back and forth across the grass checking out the newest gopher holes. She hasn’t seen one yet but she likes to stick her nose in any open hole she finds. The grass is deep and until a couple days ago very wet- actually a great workout for a Tripawd! When no one else is around I can let her off leash in the fenced dog park, although until today it was too muddy to follow her around. Today I stalked her with my GoPro on a stick and got some pretty cool photos. Enjoy!
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!