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The last of summer's blooms, hanging on.
Yesterday yielded a good block of time to take the dogs out for some serious water retrieving.  We went to a slow-moving waterway - although with the wind yesterday, the dogs may argue that it was fast-moving - and retrieved all by our lonesome.  I sat down at the edge of the bank and fingered the grass and dying blooms of the fall.  The dogs seemed to love coming up right beside me, dropping the ball, and then shaking the cold water off on me!  Normally I avoid this by backing up as I say, "Release!" but since I was being a lazy bum, I guess I had it coming!

Trooper completely dominated the water retrieves yesterday.  I could NOT wear that dog out.  Usually it takes about 20 throws and he starts to swim more slowly and becomes more lethargic when coming out of the water.  Not yesterday, though.  I threw the ball about 50 times and not once did he slow down!  Cosette wasn't her usual rockstar self, but she managed to get a few balls in.  She's taken to waiting until Trooper is fully in the water before she dives in, which gives him a head start which she just can't compete with.  I have no idea why she is waiting, and she only does it some of the time. 

I then brought them up on dry ground and had then retrieve in an empty field.  That seemed to finally tire them out.  Once they were marginally dry, we headed back to my car.  They were tired enough that they just walked peacefully beside me, sans leashes. 

I love my water-lovin' dogs.  =)
 

Squares

10/05/2010

2 Comments

 
Well, I’m very happy to report that our work yesterday went well.  I took both dogs out to a field behind our house and worked with them.

I worked with Trooper for an hour and a half – I was surprised when I realized what time it was when we came back.  We walked squares on the long lead, worked on heeling, sits, and long stays off lead.  He did very well, considering the amount of traffic that was driving by on two sides of the field.  I felt a little silly walking around in squares in front of cars, but it proved effective.

I worked with Cosette for about 30 minutes.  We also walked squares and worked on long stays.  She’s not as skilled with the stays which is ironic, considering how calm and still she can be when she’s around the house.  She is much more likely to break her sit.  I was also working intensely with her on nosing ahead of me when she’s heeling. 

The long time with both dogs paid off in the evening.  Joel and I both settled down to do some computer time and grading, and the dogs curled up in the living room next to each other and chewed on their bones.  There was significantly less dog rough-housing, which I don’t tolerate for long periods.

I was very happy to read about this article, reporting that it is National Dog Walking Week.  I liked this excerpt:

  "With more and more people becoming sedentary and gaining weight due to a lack of exercise, dogs don't get the necessary outlet they need to stay physically and mentally healthy. I feel that part of the overpopulation of dogs in this country is hugely associated with our growing waistlines. Generally, the less a person exercises, the less a dog exercises. Having trained thousands of dogs in the last twenty years, it's my estimation that at least 75% of dogs in shelters are there due to a lack of exercise, which has thus resulted in serious behavior issues such as aggression, destruction and separation anxiety issues. Often, dogs run away from home because they're kept sequestered all day long in a crate or a small yard, says Paige, which only exacerbates a dog's destructive, aggressive or anxious tendencies. This, coupled with too much fatty food, leads to obesity, as well as medical issues like pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease and the number one killer of dogs – cancer. October is a beautiful time of year everywhere to get outside. Walking your dog on a daily basis not only increases the endorphins in both human and canine brains but it improves the bond between the two.”

I’m looking forward to working with them both tonight.

 
 
It turns out that being unemployed keeps me busy!  Well, I’m not completely unemployed  - I have a long-distance telework arrangement with the winery, and I teach a graduate class on Fridays.  Both of those are occupying some of my time.  The other parts of my time are filled up by editing my dissertation, preparing a follow-up study to my dissertation, creating additional studies, and a few other academic pursuits.  The dogs are enjoying the house.  I find myself wishing that I could take them for more walks or do more water retrieving, but doing so involves us out and about in public.  Both dogs have small issues I have to work on, and taking both by myself just seems somewhat insurmountable sometimes.  Well, not insurmountable, but more difficult.  And if I only take Cosette, Trooper howls and yelps up a storm (separation anxiety – which is an issue unto itself).    Cosette is in need of a few retouches on her heeling – she regularly walks with her shoulders ahead of the line of my hips, which is a no-no.  I’m considering going back to basics with her, and restarting.  Trooper is just in general all over the place, so he needs attention 100% of the time when we’re walking together.  Together, they are a little too much to handle – especially if there is another dog crossing our path.  The other day we were having a bit of a challenging walk and there was a dog standing in his own lawn minding his own business, and Cosette and Trooper saw him and just went nuts and ran in front of me to start barking.  Luckily I had a good grip on their leashes and gave them a quick correction and walked away from the distraction.  But, it still stands:   I don’t have as much control over my dogs as I want.  

This is a several part problem:  (1)  not enough exercise, (2) not enough training on my part, (3) not enough consistency.  It’s very much an avoidant thing – because it’s bad, I avoid it, and by avoiding it, I make it worse.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible or anything, but they certainly are not laid-back Labs.
Sigh.  I should go walk them some more.  I’ll go walk Trooper now, and Cosette later when Joel gets home so Troops has some company.  Peace!

 
 
The dogs are loving the new digs.
Just wanted to post some photos of the two beauties!
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Big Easy

06/26/2010

1 Comment

 
I'm currently working hard in the Big Easy - holed up in my hotel room with the occasional break for a networking session or a walk down and around Bourbon street - but I'll try and satisfy any Lab appetite you have with a few older pictures of Cosette that I have tucked away on my laptop:
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Such a soft, kissable head.
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She used to chew on her leash during walks - so glad to be rid of that habit!
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A bonafide water dog at 10 weeks old. :)
 
 
Yesterday it rained in the afternoon, so I decided to bring the dogs outside to enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures with a good game of fetch.  After nearly an hour of retrieving, Trooper decided he was hot and done.  He walked over to a puddle in the yard and laid down and splashed around in it.  He couldn't be convinced to get up and play fetch anymore.  That's when I decided to grab the camera.  So, may I present:  Splish Splash!
 
 
Here's Cosette at 5.5 months.  She'll be 3 years old on March 28!
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Hello, I love Labs and my dog is a shit.  Well, at least she's been a shit for the past week.  Cosette, has, to my best estimation, been rebelling against the fact that I'm always working.  Let me share a story with you. 

I don't have a fenced yard, for several reasons.  One being the house did not come with it.  Two, I'm not living here long enough to justify the purchase.  Three, my neighborhood is famously without fences.  During the summer months, the kids run around the neighborhood going past the houses and through the yards.  One person's backyard is everyone's backyard.  Four, I don't think my yard would look nice with a fence.  I kind of like the no-fence approach right now.

So, when it comes to dogs, when I let my dogs out to do their business, I, as a courtesy to everyone, stand outside with my dogs while they relieve themselves.  This way I can monitor exactly where they are at (if they poop in my neighbors' yard, I pick it up with a bag I have handy) and mostly they stay in the yard with no problems.  This excuses me from having to pull leashes out, attach the leashes, get shoes on, walk them out to the front/back yard, stand there and wait, etc.  It's a lazy persons' ideal situation. 

However, and this is a big however, my dogs will suddenly and with little warning get a wild hair up their butts about once every three months.  This problem usually happens with Joel, who loves the dogs fiercely but is less of a disciplinarian than I am.  I have a feeling this will be the same way when we have kids.  But that's another matter.  If Joel lets them out, they tend to walk a little further, wander a little farther, take a little more time.  If I let them out, boy howdy should they ever get their little butts inside faster than a New York minute or there will be trouble.  But sometimes, this wild hair rebellion thing happens with me too.  For instance, the other morning, I let Cosette out in the front yard for her morning pee.  She without warning, tore straight out of my yard and into my far neighbor's yard (3 houses away).  I'm out in the backyard with my frickin' pajamas on, shivering in the chilly air, my breath steaming up the patio.  I whistle instead of yell, because it's early morning and my neighborhood looks sleepy.  She looks up, and  the continues to ignore me as she trots further away.  I meanwhile drag Trooper inside, go put shoes on, grab a jacket, and meander out the back to go fetch her.  Turns out by the time I had done all that, she had come to the back door, waiting to be let in.  I didn't say anything, only opened the door and let her back in (because as we all know, one of the worst things you can do is to punish a dog for coming back).  I promptly informed Joel that she would need to be let out on a leash for a while.

Well, she gets the leash treatment on and off, and I think that may be the problem, and it also may be the fact that she's been holed up in my guest bedroom as I've been pounding away on my work, poor thing, and Joel decided to let her out this morning.  She peed, and then without looking back, tore off.  I MEAN THAT DOG DUN RUNOFT.  So, Joel walks around the neighborhood and doesn't see her whatsoever.  He comes back to the house and says he's going to drive around to see if he can find her.  I sigh heavily, wondering why she hasn't come back in the first place. 

I haul on some shoes, pull a jacket on, and then go for an early-morning walk around my neighborhood.  Halfway around my block, I spot her in a neighbor's yard, sniffing away.  This neighbor is actually one of the houses behind me, so technically she's not far from home.  But her little shenanigans make me think that SHE IS A LITTLE SHIT.  Look at her, making me exercise in the cold morning air.  For shame, for shame, you little shit!
 
 
How many of you bought wigs for Halloween? 

How many of you put said wigs back into their bags and stowed them away?

Show of hands.

Who took those wigs and said, "What else can I do with these?"

I did.

Who else took the wigs and said, "I know exactly what to do with them."

I know I did.
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Oh yes, I went there.
 
 
You know, it's funny.  Just as sometimes my ovaries mysteriously and with no apparent warning sing out, "MUST HAVE KIDS.  SOON!" I experience the same thing with my brain when I see puppies, especially Lab puppies.  I don't think you can get any cuter than Lab puppies.  I know I'm so very biased, and I fully admit it.  There's a big temptation in me to want just.one.more, perhaps a yellow, to round out the furkids.  But!  And this is a big but!, not unlike my own, we don't know what the living situation will be in the next year.  Have no clue.  Both Joel and I are coming on to the job market, and we are looking internationally as well.  Some international appointments have restrictions on how many dogs you can have, so that is a current deterrent. 
Alas, I will have to deal with the mental anguish of not having another for a while, and love what I have.  And boy, do I love them.  =)