Saturday, June 25, 2016

You Know What Delilah Reminds Me Of?

The 'raptors from Jurassic Park!

Intelligent, agile, fierce... and yet... able to be tamed?

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Gear: My Quest to Find a Tiny Dog Harness

So the other day Delilah ate her generic back clip harness.  I left it on her in the car and she just casually gnawed through the chest strap while I was driving.  Over the past couple of weeks I've been on a quest to find her a new one.

She had an Easy Walk Harness in the past, but it always rubbed under her armpits, leaving red marks and once actually cut the skin.  I quickly pulled out the other harness, a nylon strap back clip harness which didn't seem as bad, but still left red marks on occasion after a long walk or hike.  With both harnesses she did NOT want them on- she'd run away and shake when I picked up the harness or asked her if she wanted to go out.

My criteria for a new harness:

- Soft wide straps, mesh, or padding so it wouldn't hurt her skin.
- Doesn't physically restrict her movement.
- Durable so that it can withstand hiking, pulling, and... chewing...
- No clips against her skin that could pinch her or feel uncomfortable.
- And lastly, finding one in her size was going to be a challenge!

We went to PetSmart and were disappointed that the harnesses they had there didn't come in a tiny size for Delilah.  The extra small could have fit a dog twice her size!  They had another design that fit a little better but it restricted her movement rather significantly- she could barely walk!

I went home and started looking at harnesses online.  Julius K9 has some really nice harnesses that look like they would fit her.  I hesitated though, because the appeal for me would be getting custom patches to put on the harness.  It did not appear as though the company sells custom patches for the Baby 2 size.  They had some odd premade patches though- like "Dylan."  I mean, who names their dog Dylan?  I can't imagine that's a best seller.  I would have done "Bella" or "Riley" or something a little more popular...

ANYWAYS, while I was worrying about all of that, my boyfriend took the initiative to buy Delilah a harness on his own.  I'm actually impressed by how well he did.  It's a Precision Fit harness by My Canine Kids and so far has been great!  It's an awesome highlighter yellow color that looks really good on her.  She seems really comfortable in it- she doesn't try to chew it off and she's not scared of putting it on.

I was a little skeptical of the design- two straps came up over her back and velcro'd together, each strap with a D ring at the velcro end so the leash could clip the two straps together.  I was glad that there was no buckle that could pinch her, but I didn't think the velcro would hold up against her pulling.  I'm probably one of the very few owners out there that not only lets their dog pull, but encourages it.  But so far it's been great and she's pulled me all over the neighborhood!

Sam also picked up a Lupine training lead.  It's super helpful to have out in the yard where she's not allowed to be off leash- this way she has room to play and train!  Very soft and comfortable to hold as well.  It's kind of annoying to manage it though, I used it on our hike today to practice recall and it kept getting tangled around the trees, undergrowth, and even roots.  But it seems like it will come in handy on occasion, especially out in the yard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So... the Barn Hunt Trial Went Okay...

Apologies again to any followers I might actually have- my life's super busy with work, music, and dog stuff so I try to post when I can.

Last Saturday Delilah and I drove 3 hours to Raymond, NH for a barn hunt trial.  I honestly had no idea how'd she do.  She has a very high prey drive but she also obsesses over clumps of hair, dust, spots on the ground, and light/shadows.  I wasn't sure if she'd look for the rat or just fixate on those stupid little things and ignore everything else like she does in agility.  We couldn't make it to the practice in NH on Friday night.  I brought her to the pet store on Friday to show her some rats and get her excited but of course that was the day all of the animals were out of stock.  So we just had to wing it.

She was so confused at first- we were sitting at the debriefing before the first trial and she was just staring at me because she didn't know what was going on. She actually did okay with reactivity- unless people came over to talk to me or she heard other dogs barking, she was pretty well behaved. And there were actually a lot of reactive dogs there so at least she wasn't the only one!

The first trial was her instinct test. I was holding her in the starting box and let her go, and I saw she was about to run over to start chasing the clumps of hair on the ground so I yelled, "Delilah, let's go!" and started running towards the rat tubes. She ran after me and sniffed the first tube, ran to the second and got very interested. I called "rat" and we were right! She got the fastest time out of the small dogs, a ribbon, and her RATI title.  I really had no idea how she'd do and was so happy that she found the rat instead of chasing hair/dust/shadows.

Unfortunately, the second trial we did was the Novice trial, and she didn't do as well. I released her from the start box and she went right to the fence and started chasing hair. I did EVERYTHING- I called her, yelled, clapped, ran around, looked like an idiot lol. She completely ignored everything I did- I couldn't touch her or we'd be DQ'd. I had been so hopeful and my dreams died right there. I was really frustrated and embarrassed. I watched her chase dust for two minutes until our time was up.

The last trial, I thought she'd do the same thing again but I figured I already paid for it and drove 3 hours to get there so we might as well try again. Nope, she did the same thing. I was able to call her away once and I got hopeful again because she ran towards me through the tunnel (in novice the dog has to do three things: go under a tunnel, jump on a hay bale, and find the rat). But then she ran right back to the fence and started chasing... things... again.

I think the judge noticed that I was disappointed and told me that once she "gets it" she's going to be amazing. It's the same thing with agility though- she would be wonderful if she didn't fixate on the hair/spots/shadows on the ground and ignore everything else.

Now I've definitely made up my mind to call a vet. behaviorist before continuing with agility or barn hunt though. If my terrier won't even go after a rat because she's fixating on these stupid little things, then there's definitely something wrong with her. I really hope we can figure this out because I got a dog to do things with- and if I can't train her because she fixates and can't take her places because she's reactive- well, I'm not going to get rid of her or anything but I didn't get a dog to leave at home all the time. So I don't know, we have stuff to figure out. It's just hard being online and in real life seeing everyone doing amazing things with their dogs while my dog is broken, after waiting so long to get one of my own.

Otherwise, it actually was a lot of fun and everyone was really nice. I hope we're able to figure out her issues and do this more in the future, maybe even start a VT team or club!

On the bright side, here she is with her ribbon! She's super cute, she's got that going for her.

Friday, June 3, 2016

In Memory of Mia

Mia passed away last Saturday morning unexpectedly from heart failure.  She had just turned 12 years old.

She was the best friend I ever could have asked for.  She was the perfect dog.  Mia was one of those rare dogs that was naturally well behaved, and oh so sweet and gentle.  She helped us raise ducklings and chicks.  She'd watch toads and caterpillars- lying down and occasionally giving them a nudge with her nose.  When she found baby birds on the ground, she'd get so agitated and find a human, leading them to the bird so they could help.  She loved babies.  

Mia loved hiking.  We'd go on adventures all around Vermont.  She never ran off, she always came when called.  She helped me teach younger dogs off leash manners, like Delilah and some dogs I dogsat.  They'd always follow her lead and I was able to get reliable recalls from everyone whenever we went hiking.  Delilah and Mia were kind of jealous of each other so there was definitely some competition/sibling rivalry going on as well.

Mia taught me so much about dog training.  When we got Mia, I had wanted to do agility, but I was too young to take classes.  So I taught her a bunch of tricks and we would do obstacle courses in the backyard.  The last time I stayed at my parents house, I was practicing agility with Delilah.  Mia wanted in on it and started jumping the jump, which was the only obstacle set up that she knew how to do.  She such a smart, eager dog.  She learned everything so quickly and listened so well.  We had a "special trick"; I taught her to heel off leash so I would walk her around my neighborhood off leash.  I could tell her to sit-stay or down-stay and keep walking, and she would stay there.  I would then say, "Okay, heel" and she'd trot to catch up and then go back into a heel.  Lastly, when our house was in sight, I would put her in a stay and get a head start.  Then I would yell, "Okay, go!" and we would race back to the house.  

She never did anything bad.  Even when she was "naughty," it was actually really endearing.  When she was a puppy and we first started leaving her out of the crate, she found the toilet paper hanging in the bathroom, grabbed the end, and ran around the house with it.  When we got home, the entire first floor was TP'd!

I felt really guilty about getting Delilah.  I didn't spend a lot of alone time with Mia this past year.  I just wish I could have done something special with just her before she left.

Mia, I will always love you.  Thanks for the memories. <3