Sunday, June 27, 2010

Catching Up

We've been pretty busy the past couple weeks.

Grandma and Grandpa stopped by on their way to Alaska, and Sunny found a playmate in Grandpa . . .

Star got what she likes best from Grandma . . .

It rained a lot so we got to splash in the mud . . .

Star got a used crated for Agility, and Sunny moved right in . . .

Now I know why he naps smooshed against the wall on his dog bed, and sleeps jammed into the corner on top of the blanket chest in my room at night. He was apparently raised using a crate for a safe sleeping place.

Star did a great job getting used to the crate (without the door on) when we were in Moscow. Then a bad thing happened. Mom went away from the crate and Star, whose leash was clipped to the window bars, tried to follow Mom and pulled off the top (which wasn't attached).

The next morning a good thing happened. She did the same thing, but a bowl of treats on top of the crate spilled all over the ground. What a great reward for the wrong behavior, but it did remove the sting of the roof falling on her head. Now she sits calmly inside, watching me prepare my strategy or the equipment for her agility exercises . . .

or just waiting out of the way while I'm putting my shoes on to take a walk . . .

Sometimes they both get in together . . .

We went up to the mountains for a day - we sure took a lot of stuff for just one night.

But we gotta keep Star practicing her moves . . .

And Mom has to keep up on taking pictures in preparation for the Safe Harbor 2012 Calendar Photo Contest.

The dogs posed very patiently and professionally for 25 shots in this configuration . . .

and 29 shots down below on the grass . . .

One of Sunny's favorite activities in the mountains is intently staring at the hummingbird feeder 6 inches outside the window . . .

And Star shows off her new crate once again . . .

Aren't I Just The Cutest?!?

But Star Sure Missed Sunny

Totally wiped out from the weekend hanging out at the Agility Trials, Star snuggled up next to Sunny and slept all the way home when we picked him up after his weekend with Uncle Tim(othy).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunny Doesn't Miss Me

On Jun 18, 2010, at 4:51 PM, Timothy wrote:

the good news is that your dog was oblivious to your departure.

the bad news is that your dog was oblivious to your departure. I mean he jumped in an unfamiliar truck without being invited, curled up, and went to sleep.

when you said "gentle leader," i thought you meant a prong collar. The leader looks too complicated for me to figure out, but we don't seem to need it.

I'll try brushing him with the clippers. The ears seem a bit long, anyway.

From: Kara
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2010 5:40 PM
To: Timothy

I meant to give you the dog brush, not the nail clippers, I realized
as i pulled away. He goes comatose sometimes when you brush him.

I hope he wasn't too traumatized when I pulled away.

Have fun!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thump Thump Thump

I lied! Here I am writing again, after I just said I wouldn't write again for 2 weeks.

I just had to share a couple fun images, mental images, alas, from last night.

I didn't feel like getting up and getting the camera, even though I knew the moment was developing. Sunny has a new habit. As soon as Star and I are all cozy, snuggled into bed at night, Sunny goes back out to the living room and gets another tennis ball. I guess he figures he's finally got a captive audience. So I indulge him, having declined him earlier in the evening when I sat in my microfiber rocking rotating recliner that I don't want destroyed by wet tennis balls.

The game has become Kara tries to toss the ball into the laundry hamper, in the closet across the room. The first time I got it in the hamper was empty. It's a tall one, so I had to get up and retrieve it after watching his desperate and futile attempts and rescue and recovery.

But last night, it was about half full so I decided to let him work it out. I have learned from observing the dog groups that I do that letting a dog solve a problem is a good thing, and it was a fun exercise. One of the best parts was when he got his teeth around the handle and tried to lift the whole hamper up. This hamper is taller than he is so it was a real stretch. He managed to move it around the closet a bit that way.

At one point he went behind and I thought for sure he was close to figuring out how to tip it over, and of course that's what he eventually did, after moving it around by the handle a few more times.

Good job, Sunny! You got the prize, and your reward was a dozen more ball tosses before bedtime was enforced.

The other image that I love happens frequently. The dogs and I will be laying on the bed. They have their heads on my shoulder and my stomach, or are sandwiched up against my side. They'll be totally still, but when I say something, one or two tails will go thump, thump, thump. When I stop talking, the thumping stops. I start again - thump, thump, thump. It's so cool. I guess it's fun because I can turn it on and off so easily. But I wonder too what it means. Does the sound of my voice make them happy or excited? I just love it.

And as a final note - I went back last night and re-read a lot of my old posts. I was surprised to see that when I wrote less often, it seemed more inspired. I chose more recently to write weekly, to capture more of our story and to get more practice writing, but I don't feel the result is as good. I miss the old stories that were better stories, in and of themselves.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tricks and Train Wrecks

I'm developing quite a backlog of pictures and stories, and, after being in our new home for a month now, things are starting to get busier, so the backlog might get deeper. I probably won't write again for 2 weeks after this post, because Star and I will be away next Saturday watching Agility in Moscow (the one in Idaho) in the midst of crashing through the last 2 weeks of this crazy summer school class.

And you might ask - where is Sunny going to be?

Well, Sunny met his uncle Tim(othy) this week when we fetched him from the airport. Sunny seemed to think Tim needed his face washed and Tim seemed to like it. They bonded pretty quickly during the car ride, so Sunny is going to spend next weekend with his uncle in Idaho.

Before he heads up there, Sunny wants to share a couple pictures with Tim so he knows what his smart, furry nephew can do.

First, he picks up his dinner dish and hands it to you at meal time:

And he can also pick up his leash and hand it to you. We haven't tried this trick recently so it might be a little rusty.

This next set of pictures was taken in rapidly fading light, hence the blurs, a week before we left Colorado, in the backyard of another Uncle Tim. Sunny had just started playing ball again after his 2nd knee surgery, and Star hadn't even been with us when we put the balls away in preparation for the 12 week recovery, so I didn't know what she would do. The behavior you are seeing here I hope has almost been eradicated because when they collide like a high speed train wreck, poor Sunny gets seriously slammed around.

It starts with Sunny enjoying a nice game of fetch. Fetch the Tennis Ball, that is. To Star, this becomes a game of Fetch the Other Dog, as she roars down the track after Sunny.

Just as he turns around to bring the ball back, she slams into him, spinning him back around. Often the ball goes flying out of his mouth.

Then she grabs an ear or a scruffy piece of neck and rides him halfway back.

Eventually he manages to shake her off and they trot back side by side, ready to go again.

After we got to our new home and started enjoying our "back yard", this game of Fetch the Other Dog became a real problem, with potential for a real injury. While I started working on keeping Star seated next to me, Sunny started working on evasion tactics. First, he learned to jump out of the way at the last second before getting the full contact body slam.

Meanwhile, Star was getting smarter too. She learned that by sitting next to me, she could scarf down treats while Sunny was off doing the hard work of chasing down that little green ball and bringing it back.

The other thing Star learned was that she could wait until Sunny was about 10 feet away on his return, and then she could charge out and slam into him. At that short range, he doesn't have time to change direction and avoid the direct hit, but she also isn't going as fast.

This has all happened over about the past 2 weeks. This week I made even more progress with Star and only about once per noon play session does she slip away to chase after him chasing after it.

All in all, they are pretty good friends.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chuck-It Induced Insanity

Today you are going to get a guided tour of our new dog park. We really lucked out - there's just one in the whole area and we are only 3 quick miles away, both of us right at freeway exits. In fact, the park is an old highway rest stop at the state line. I thought Colorado was making some awesome dog parks, but this one is nothing to be ashamed of.

It has the required double gate entry but also has running water at a few places around the park. All the parks in CO were dry and folks brought bottles of water with them to fill the bowls.

Nice big trees and covered picnic tables ...

A lightly wooded area with meandering walking paths in the back corner ...

And a big huge open grassy area with 2 pipe tunnels. Count 'em - two. (The other one is off-screen. Ha!)

Does it seem odd that there are no dogs in the pictures? There are rarely a lot of dogs at the park, especially not down in the field. They all seem to congregate around the people, who congregate around the tables. But they say it is a heavily used park, and portions will be closed off for revegetation or whatever that word is supposed to be.

It's just lucky that we can go mid-day and mid-week when not many others are there. Star and I can practice agility stuff in the tunnels and on the table, while Sunny chases the ball. But I like it when a few other dogs are there sometimes too, so Star can have a good romp. She likes to get the whole pack chasing her and she runs so fast that all the spectators just ooh and aah at her speed.

Now that I've figured out how to get the Chuck-It in and out without beating Sunny over the head with it, I might get brave and try taking the camera in with the dogs to get some pictures of that chase. Have I talked about CII before? It's a horrible disease that Sunny has. CII stands for Chuck-It Induced Insanity. If I have the Chuck-It in my hand, we can barely make it across the parking lot and through the gates without me wanting to strangle him. If I hold it up over my shoulder, he practically climbs up my back to get to it. We can't walk in a straight line. And it's down right embarrassing to have so little control over my dogs with everyone watching our approach.

So now the C-I comes out of the car first and gets threaded through the fence. Then the dogs get walked calmly to the gate. And life is good.