Guys, I’m a little worried …

… is it normal for a dog to have this much tongue?

ha ha!  I’m not really worried, obviously … this dog has so much EVERYTHING.  So much leg, so much ears, so much keen, so much tongue.

So much busy!

Of course, I say that and he is actually asleep across 3 kitchen chairs (don’t ask), but while he is awake, he is always on the go.  I did cure him of his habit of bolting out the door as soon as I opened it (not to run away – he just wants to RUN) and now he waits for permission to exit.  But I didn’t manage to cure him of his residual take-off-at-a-dead-run-as-soon-as-he’s-allowed-to-leave-the-house, and he passed it on to all my other dogs.  So now when I open the front door, a raucous, barking, merry band of collies goes tearing off across the acreage, down to the barn and back again.  My neighbours must hate me!

But you know what they say – don’t complain, train!

But they also forgot to tell you that if you are too lazy to train (especially at 5:20AM on a work day) you can just build a fence. I bought this much fencing off of craigslist the other day:

I’m not sure how many feet total it is, and neither was the seller, but I told her I was looking for several hundred feet and she said it was that, “at least,” and so I bought an assload of fencing for just over $100.00.  Woot!

I’m going to have a fence building party in June, and contain the damn dogs!  Wanna come?

TWooie is blissfully unaware of my plans to curtail his habit of running onto the road to confront other canines.

Although Wootie is already trying to curtail that for me.  The other day TWooie tried to run out on the road (don’t fret, it’s a dead end road and has almost no traffic) to take down a passing Labrador, and Wootie drove him back into the yard snapping and growling at him.  That’s new.

The other thing that’s new is that I have started teaching TWooie a tiny bit of agility.  It’s slow going – you never met a more unmotivated dog to learn something new!  But I can now get him to take jumps, albeit slowly, and to do the tunnel (even more slowly).  The tunnel took a loooong time, because he would initially peer in it and ascertain that there was no way he was going in that giant pink intestine.  So I began by tossing a hard cookie a little ways into the tunnel, then a long way into the tunnel, and then pretending to toss a cookie into the tunnel and running like stink to the other end and holding out the cookie – not running like stink because he goes through the tunnel quickly, but rather because he had to see the cookie in my hand at the other end or he would turn around and leave the tunnel again.  It took about a week to convince him that there would always be a cookie waiting at the other end for him, and now he’ll happily amble through it (and I do mean amble), but I still have to pretend I am throwing a cookie in it first.  Transferring the cue of “tunnel” to a verbal, or a body cue, has proved to be more or less impossible.

Trying to get TWooie to LEARN is an arduous task.  He really likes to be rewarded for things, but I’m starting to realize that he doesn’t necessarily make the connection between what he did and what he’s being rewarded for.  Even with the clicker, his rate of learning new behaviours is remarkably slow.  Even Wootie, who is supremely self centered, picks up new behaviours more quickly than TWooie does.

Finally, you recognize my innate brilliance!

I wonder if the total lack of reward for spontaneous performance in the first 5 years of his life has anything to do with how slow he is to make connections now?  I know that Dexter, who had the luxury of being introduced to the clicker at 9 weeks of age, absolutely loves to try his paw at anything and will offer me countless behaviours in the process.  But how much of that is conditioning and an environment where I encouraged him to offer behaviours, and how much is just Dexter being Dexter?  I mean, give this dog a top hat and a piano and he could probably perform a one-man off Broadway show in a sensory deprivation tank.  But is TWooie just a product of TWooie, or he is a product of his environment?

Nevertheless, I am awfully proud of TWoo, who can now do jumps, the A-Frame, the first two weave poles, and the tunnel.  World Team contender he will never be, but hopefully it will expand his narrow little horizons, at least a little bit.

Of course, now TWooie thinks the tunnel spits out cookies and he’s become a little, errm, guardy over the the tunnel.  I have to put him in the house if I practice with Dexter now

otherwise he tries to bite him when he goes near “his” tunnel.

I went in the tunnel once, now it’s mine.

I’m tired of you talking about TWoo.  Pay attention to me now.

I’m always tired of you talking about Dexter.  I’m gonna take him down!

Are you going to talk about me now?

I’m not going to talk about Tweed.  Nor am I going to talk about Regionals, because I’m SO BUMMED that I won’t be competing :(  Hopefully, I will have some photos to share afterward though, when I go visit on Sunday.

In the meantime, I’ll try to make myself feel better by imagining that one of you is going to adopt my buddy Franklin at the shelter.

I picked up quite a few extra shifts next week so I may not be able to blog much.

But don’t forget about the fence building party!

Or else Piper might get ANGRY.

Comments

  1. I second the write a book idea. You photos are fabulous and I love reading your blog. While not addicted to it, if I see in on my FB page I jump right over and read.

  2. Excellent price on the fencing.

  3. Natalie says:

    LOL I laugh at your descriptions of trying to train TWooie. Oreo was smart and would offer behaviors, however she was ENTIRELY food-motivated. I remember many many afternoons spent with me standing on the other side of a tiny jump holding out a cookie, begging Oreo to please please come get it. It’s not that she didn’t understand – she did, perfectly. She just had to think really hard about whether or not the effort was worth one cookie. Definitely not agility-champion material there. LOL

  4. FL, that sepia-toned photo of Twooie is absolutely beautiful (and would make a great desktop background, methinks)!

  5. I Love RAWR! Can I have it for a FB profile pic, puhleeeease? Just the head shot, with the teeth!

    (Obviously we are talking about Piper.)

    And I agree, TWooie’s shot is awesome!

  6. I will come help you build fence in the middle of July. Srsly.

    P.S. You do know that you need fenceposts too, right?

  7. Ah! If only the fence-building were in July! I’d bring you my dog-crazy aunt from Ontario, my Australian aunt, and my task-oriented mother. Oh, and me, of course :) That fence won’t stand a chance.

    And it’s exciting to see your progress with TWooie. I laughed when I read that he’s become protective of the almighty cookie-givin’ pink intestine. But at least he’s learning! And food motivation does seem to be the way with most of the older dogs I’ve known. My best friend’s Cairn terrier, anxious about whatever one might be eating, inhales in such a vigorous fashion that we’ve taken to referring to it as “perv breathing.” She’s such a little dog, and yet she sounds like some kind of pervert, breathing over your shoulder while you eat. It’s only become bad since she turned seven or so, but the noise is unmistakable: desire!

  8. Training Twooie sounds like training Grady. A lot of work for very little reward (for me). I still have to remind him EVERY SINGLE TIME I want him to do whatever I just taught him. Unless of course, there is food involved, at which point he will do every single behavior in his repertoire at lightening speed!

  9. The Food Lady says:

    Silly, I know I need fence posts! I have lots of fence posts, and they are like $3.00 each so I can buy more. And at least half of one of the fenced yards already has posts up… just no fence on them. I am so excited to be able to do stuff like put the dogs in one yard while I mow the other, or hang around outside in the sun reading a book with the dogs loose, and not having to tie up the evil WooTWoo whilst I do :)

    Who knew a fence could be so exciting?!

  10. Robin Layton says:

    Oh yeah, a fence is LIBERATING. When I leave town to escape fireworks in July I don’t know how I am going to contain my dogs without a fence at a cabin in the middle of the woods. I guess the dogs will get non-stop attention as well as avoiding the horror and fear of fireworks.

    Being able to let dogs out to potty without worrying, having a drink on the deck, and chores without constant corraling of dogs, its all good.

    Robin

  11. Don’t forget – you’ll need a come-along for that wire fence.

  12. I have to recognize that quite likely your most intelligent dog is Woo, though I keep preferring Dexter. He is lovable not so absolutely independent that you never see him around. Woo on the other hand is way too independent for my taste.

    It’s great to see that Twooie is learning new things and very happily as the photos show, it’s certainly a great progress with.

    And I love seeing Pipper completely recovered she looks fantastic in the first photo (not the one with mad teeth, the one before).

    Don’t worry about the Regional’s you’ll be able to go next year, take of yourself and good luck with the fencing party.

    Best wishes

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