The Heart of a Champion

Tilly is fourteen years old, and has been a much loved family pet for years.  Until now Tilly did not go to class because Tilly did not need class, she has basic obedience down and is generally a mellow girl.  But the family thought that Low Impact Agility looked like fun, and that maybe Tilly might want to try it.  And that is when we realized that inside Tilly beat the heart of a competitor . . .

Tilly is a Low Impact Agility Super Star!  She used to take a minute to run through a course but now she can do it in 30 seconds, and her tail is wagging the whole time.

Best of all her family says Tilly seems to be more relaxed and confident in their home.  When you say “school” she gets excited and runs to the door.  While I love working with all the dogs, dogs like Tilly touch my heart in a special way.  I love seeing these “Elder Dogs” have fun and use their brains and get out and just have fun and all the benefits that come from that.

Allow me to brag . . .

When your 14 year old dog earns his second Wag It Games Sniff It Title you are supposed to brag right?  Shadow earned his fifth qualification in Search last night getting him his Search Wag It Games 1 Title.

GreatestElkhoundEver.JPG

So proud of this boy!  He has only been working for a little over a year and a half and did not start until he was 12 years old, but he took to Sniff It and does it with joy and focus (mostly).  When we were posing for our picture he wanted to go back and look in the tents some more which made me smile – even though he was totally ignoring his recall and doing what he wanted, what he wanted to do was work.  That’s my boy!

And a private victory is Shadow did it while being polite among the other dogs, no barking or staring or kicking up a fuss, Shadow was there and ready to work and relaxed (mostly) around the other dogs.  Time and patience do so much, and yes, old dogs clearly can learn new tricks.

Katy Bug the Brave . . .

What does a beagle do when they come to scent class?  They put their nose to the ground and they get to work!

This video is extra special because just a few months ago Katy was living in a lab being used for pharmaceutical testing and research.  In December she found a home and now she making up for lost time, getting out into the world and experiencing lots of new things.

It has been a pleasure to be a part of helping her learn and build confidence, and watching her and her mom become a team.   I have loved seeing her go from the shy dog, quietly entering class to the dog pulling on the leash excited to use her nose!  When Katy is working she is on a mission and her tail is up, her nose is down, and she knows just what to do.

Happy Birthday Jackson!

When you are taking Beginning Scent Work on your birthday, sometimes the finds are a little extra special!

 

Happy Birthday Jackson, aka Bubs, aka The Cheese Thief!  And thank you for bringing treats to share with your friends.

And great work to all the dogs in class, I’ll be posting more videos soon – you all worked so hard and had such fun it was wonderful working with you.

Sweet Potato Jerky

If you ask my dogs one of the best things about Thanksgiving is the post-Thanksgiving sales on sweet potatoes, because sweet potatoes mean sweet potato jerky!

When you have a chubby senior pup with a thyroid issue treats can be a problem. Well, as far as the Elkhound is concerned the lack of treats is the problem, for me the problem is more finding things that will leave him satisfied without packing on the pounds, so, sweet potato it is!

You can buy sweet potato jerky or you can make it – it is super simple!

img_5872

Just cut your sweet potato into either slices or rounds about 1/4 inch thick – you can go a bit thicker but try not to go smaller, they will burn!  And if you can tell by this picture, they are definitely closer to 1/3 inches then 1/4.  Really getting slices the same thickness is most important so they all dry evenly.  If your knife skills need some practice feel free to cut the sweet potato in half first so you can lay the flat side down on the cutting board so they are easier to cut.  It is what I do!

img_5881

Once they are cut lay them out on parchment paper and put them in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours.  The low heat will dry them out and make them nice and chewy, but I suggest turning them at least once half-way through.  I admit to being fidgety and flipping them every half-hour or with the idea it will help them dry out more evenly, but there is no method to that madness.

img_5883

When they are done lay them on a rack to cool and watch the dogs gather and beg.

img_5886

If you like a crispier treat you can but them back in and dry them out a bit longer, no more then a half-hour more is suggested.

img_5893

Please store them in the fridge to keep them fresh, they only last about a week though so I like to keep mine in the freezer and take them out a bit at a time at a time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 Sweet Potatoes

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Wash and dry your sweet potatoes.
  4. Cut the sweet potato in half, lay the flat side on the cutting board and cut into slices about 1/3 to 1/4 inches thick (no thinner then 1/4 inches).
  5. Lay the slices out on the parchment paper and bake for 3 hours, turning over once after an hour and a half.
  6. Remove from tray and place on a cooling rack until cool
  7. If you want a crispier treat you can put them back in the oven for another half hour or so, but watch for browning!

Low Impact Agility – Week 1!

I am just so impressed, so impressed!  Three dogs, all seniors, two of which have never even been to a class of any kind, and by the end of one session they were all doing small courses!

These guys are the perfect example of older dogs still enjoying learning, and being active – look at them go!

Doing activities like this keeps the brain and body moving, something important for all dogs, but older dogs in particular.  And in the meantime they are practicing heeling and looking to their owners for directions and clues.

Many of these activities are based off the Wag It Games Obstacle Skills and I am so excited to be offering this in the area.  Stay tuned to see more!

 

Find it!

We just started a Scent Class for reactive dogs, and two weeks in I am not only impressed at how great the dogs and their owners are doing, I’m also excited by the positive feedback we’re already getting.

I’m hearing how the dogs have more confidence, how they are happier, how they are sleeping after class and excited to get into the car and come back – it is wonderful and total reinforcement of why I do what I do.  So happy to be helping dogs, particularly dogs who do not always get included in things outside of basic behavior.

This is a video I put together from the scent runs on our first week of class – some of these dogs had never tried scent work before and by the end of the hour they were consistently identifying the boxes, and better yet, they were excited to work!

Such a great group of dogs and people!

 

 

Tell your dog he is handsome . . .

Tell your dog he is handsome . . .
Yesterday I was at the vet, and as there was a long wait we spent some time in the lobby practicing our sits, our downs, and getting lots of treats.  It is hard for dogs to be bored, and even harder for them to be bored when they are in a stressful place, surrounded by distractions.  The Elkhound knows things happen at the vet that he does not like, his nails get trimmed, they take his temperature, they put him on the ::gasp:: scale . . . none of these things are fun and while he does handle it with as much grace as an almost 14 year old dog can muster, any chance for him to head to the door he will take.  And he needs his space from other dogs to make it even more of an adventure.  So keeping him distracted and focused on me is important, even if it means letting him eat treats directly from the bag as the techs try to find and trim his front dewclaw.  But I digress . . .
As I was sitting in the lobby telling my dog how amazing and handsome he is, one of the receptionists, who has been there for years stopped, paused, and told me how nice that was to hear.  I looked at her shocked, I mean, clearly my dog is incredibly handsome.  Amazing is debatable at times but he had just saved me and the entire building from a squirrel who ran by the window by barking at it and driving it away, so, clearly at that point he was amazing.  Clearly.  But I thanked her and told her he may not always listen, but he is always handsome, so, of course I am going to let him know.  And then she told me something that made me a little sad, she said they do not normally hear things like that in the lobby, and it was just nice to hear someone saying nice things to their dog.
But the thing is I know you all love your dogs, and you all say nice things at home – but why not at the vet?  From now on I propose we tell our pets how great they are, no matter where we are.  You can deny it all you want but I know you are probably talking baby talk and snuggling away in the privacy of your home, but bring that love out into the world.  Particularly at a time when your dog probably needs to hear happy things the most, like at the vets, in the car, or at the groomer.  Maybe it is embarrassing, or maybe you think it will distract the other dogs, or maybe you think you have to be serious to be taken seriously as a dog owner, or maybe you are just distracted.  I get it, and sometimes that is me too.  It took having a dog who needed reassurance and monitoring to get me to where I realized the benefits of talking to my dog, and feeding him treats, and telling him he was awesome were all worth looking silly, or being loud.  Giving compliments and hugs and snuggles took vet visits from a chore to a chance for bonding time, and yes, we would both rather be somewhere else, and yeah, no amount of treats and soothing words will convince him that a nail trim is fun, but a bag full of liver treats fed with a happy word makes it better for both of us, and apparently it does not happen as much as it should.
IMG_4042
So tell your dog he is handsome.  Tell her she is smart.  Tell him he is sassy.  And yeah, sometimes they are a jerk and needing three pokes with the needle to draw blood may be considered karmic justice for bopping the tech in the face with their paw during the nail trim, but tell them that in a loving tone too with lots of hugs.

Tabby

Tabby started in our home as a foster dog, for two years.  Peppertree Rescue, Tabby is a shy dog working very hard to be brave in the world and looking back at the early pictures, and e-mails, oh how she has grown.

Tabby was a fearful dog, and a life lesson for me.  When she arrived I tried to desensitize her to a lot, walks, cars, people, dogs – and I watched her just tense up and shut down each time.  So, we slowed down, we went at her pace and we focused on quality, not quantity.  I took the pressure off her, and me, and with the help of time, puzzle toys, snuffle mats and some good meds, Tabby has become a braver dog.  She still does not want to go on walks, but, she loves her car rides, and she went from being a nocturnal dog who ran at the sight or sound of people to going out in the sunlight and barking at the neighbors.

IMG_2467

The biggest positive change in Tabby’s life came in the form of two kittens.  We had always joked that Tabby was a cat trapped in a dog’s body, but when we brought our foster kittens home we saw this in truth.  She would groom the kittens and snuggle the kitten and to this day Rory would rather snuggle with his Tabby then with us.  Because of their bond she wanted to be where they were, and would start exploring more parts of the house as they explored.  And then when we added Jasper, whose puppy enthusiasm for play and all things naughty were not to be ignored, Tabby started playing more, and that led to her engaging with us more, and now she is a dog who greets me at the door with the rest of our slightly dysfunctional pack of dogs and cats, instead of waiting upstairs with a tucked tail and worried wag.

IMG_5931

Tabby still hides when people come over, and sudden movements will sometimes still send her running.  She still hates walks, and she will not pee for days when she is being dog sat, but Tabby is happy in her day to day, and getting more confident.  Cannot wait to see how she continues to grow.

Yaddo

Yaddo, also known as Shadow, also known as the Elkie.  A senior Norwegian Elkhound that brought a lot of laughter to our lives, and who I am pretty sure was around to keep me humble.  While he was officially a Canine Good Citizen, Canine Good Citizen Advanced, and a Therapy Dog, Yaddo was also a stubborn, independent dog that liked to live life his own way and reminded me daily that dog training sometimes requires creativity, and always requires patience.

Yaddo is why I work to keep things fun, and was a wonderful example of how training can enrich a dog’s life, regardless of their age.