Friday, May 13, 2005

Only three weeks have past this time

Well, it's me again, writing from cloudy Ann Arbor. My person has been pretty busy these last couple of weeks (that's what she *always* says, but who knows) and I'm sure I"m losing fans because I'm not able to pen my thoughts as easily. Maybe things will look up in the near future--we'll see.

Big news on the flyball front is that my buddy Renzo had a real-live, regular running spot on a team at Spring-Loaded's tournament last week-end. He had a little trouble (but it wasn't really his fault), but I think things are really going to fly for him.

For me, well, I realized that the box is really pretty scary when there is a ball in it and I don't much like it when the ball pops out. I had a perfectly good solution, which was to just pull the ball out of the hole rather than hit the box--kills two birds as it were. I don't have to hear that loud sound and the ball doesn't pop out at me.

But for some reason, all the people seem kind of unhappy with this solution. So, my person and I are working on something she calls "desensitization". I"m not sure what it means, but I know that she carries me (yes, physically, since I won't go to the box on my own) to the box and then when it makes that awful loud sound, I get a cookie. I still don't want to stand too close, but who am I to turn down cookies (especially because they are "dehydrated lamb lung" from Solid Gold).

My person is feeling a little dejected because she thinks I've regressed. But the thing I keep trying to show her is that I've got all the pieces, but I'm still mulling over how to put them together. I'm not as fast to get it as some dogs, but I have no worries that it'll come together.

So, the lesson for today
It all comes together in the end, and that's what matters the most

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I'm back

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

It's true, it's been a while. My person, who I'm dependent on to keep up with my blog since I don't type very well, has been "busy" with whatever it is she does. I try not to make a fuss, but really, it's pretty unfair that she chooses other things over keeping my fans up-dated on what's been going on in my flyball life.

That picture up there is a picture of me with my sister Hazel at the Davisburg flyball tournament in February. She's a cutie, isn't she. Pretty different looking than me--first off, she's a lot smaller and doesn't have quite the fringe that I do (you can sort of tell if you look closely at my tail). She also had a much shorter nose and bigger, rounder eyes. I don't like to talk about it too much, but she also has ears that both do the same thing--stand up.

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

In that picture, I'm saying hi in my usual way, which is to show that I'm not trying to be anybody's boss. Hazel was a little surprised--I don't think she's used to having someone lower on the totem pole than her. We were both a little wary and didn't really play much.

Hazel's already competing on her flyball team. I'm not yet, but I have learned some new tricks. I'm going down over all the jumps, hitting the box and coming back with no trouble (I've had about 3 weeks off, but I didn't forget anything). Yesterday at practice, we added the ball in. Not sure about that--I thought it was pretty good to just stop at the box and pull the ball out gently and gracefully. No need for all that racousness and banging and loud noises when you can just pull it out. I heard them whispering that that's not really allowed, but to let me go ahead and explore. I hope that I heard them wrong, but I'm a little worried because today at home, my people were having me stand at our box while they popped the ball out. Still not so sure about it all, but I liked grabbing the ball!

So, what have I learned in the last six weeks?
As usual, patience is a virtue

Monday, March 07, 2005

I made the whole run

Well hey ho, yesterday I did the whole flyball run (without the ball, but still, big step). For the first time since I've been learning (which is about 10 mos.), I went all the way down, over all four jumps, hit the box (with a pretty good, tight turn), and came back over all four jumps. Driving pretty hard, too. I rock--anyway that's what my people said.

My buddy Renzo also did just great. He was able to run the whole course with a dog running next to him AND a dog he had to pass. he crossed over the first time, but after that, he understood his job.

Yesterday was really a big day for both of us and it was so cool to see my people so proud of us.

So, what I'd learn in the process?
Going over four jumps is really not that different from going over one or two.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

So, being Saturday and all, both of my people were home today and spent a lot of time with us pups. They are working hard to get me to associate playing fetch with tugging. In flyball, it's really good if we have something like a tug to run back to. My buddy Renzo will only run for food--that's fine too, but our team captains say that dogs run harder for tugs. I love to tug as a general thing, but I don't really see what it has to do with flyball, so I"m kind of disdainful of it when it shows up while I'm practicing.

When my person tries to get me tug before she will throw the ball, I usually just look at her patiently and eventually, I just walk away (she tries *really* hard not to give in and throw the ball anyway, but I put her in a kind of a bind--cause it's also not so good for me to decide when it's time to stop playing--something about getting a big head. Whatever, people are kind of weird.

The real thing I've been learning today, though is "be nice". See, I get a little persnickety when other dogs get too close. It's not all that predictable...for my person anyway and she doesn't really ask me what's the trigger, I'm not telling. In any case, the people don't like it, so today we've been working on "be nice"--which basically seems to mean, stop snarling and look at person. When I do that--bingo, a treat. Yay.

And that means today's lesson is:
Be nice, then you get a treat and keep everybody else from snarling

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Harnasses are for the birds

Normally when I play flyball, my person holds on to my hips. For a while I wore a harness, but that was back when I didn't have a very good recall and the team capitans said that it would be better for me to learn with a leash attached to a collar (that's for a leash correction--boy, I'm glad I got past those!

Anyway, today my person decided to put my harnass on me again. This is what it looks like

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

I don't really notice it that much, but when we went to run flyball (yeah, that's right, today is flyball day--yahoo!), my person held me by the harnass--I didn't like it one bit. I'd much rather be held by the hips--you know, a much more hands-on, feel-good touch just to set the right mood for a good, clean run. Much more civilized than being held like a common dog (or, dare I say it, a kitty... my kitties go outside with harnasses--never really though it could come to that for me)

What I learned today?
I don't like harnasses, BUT I really like flyball a whole lot

Big woofs to my pal Renzo, who had 10 pretty clean runs today--and even sort of passed into another dog. He does a good job, but boy is he a barker. Also, licks and kisses to Tansy who is doing a good job soaking in the whole new environment. It would have been great for her and us if she'd been with us from the start, but what matters most is that she's with us now!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What kind of dog are you

I'm out of lessons for today, but here's something fun to try:

What kind of dog are you?

My person is a Keeshound. They look like this

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

She doesn't though....

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

By Jove I've got it

My person has been working with me over the last couple of months to learn to shut a cabinet door by pushing it with my nose (initial command for that is "touch"). The problem for me has been that I also know about shutting drawers by hitting them with my feet (initial command for that was "push"--that's a flyball command, too).

So, I'm a kind of pawsy gal and think it's a lot more efficient to shut things with my feet, so, while I would touch the cabinet door with my nose, I made it close with my feet.

My person was pretty patient--only rewarding me for closing the door with my nose. And if I just wasn't getting it, she'd back up and reward me for just touching the door with my nose adn once I remembered to close it with my nose, she'd go back to only rewarding that and eventually moving to a variable reinforcement (click here if you want to read more about this kind of dog training or read the book "don't shoot the dog").

Anyway, today I did it right right off the bat. My person could even send me from about 6 ft. out and I'd go close the door with my nose. I'm pretty cool, huh?

So, what'd I learn today?
With enough repetitions and the right kind of encouragement, just about anything is possible.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Well, hey, I learned something today...I went with my person for a playdate with a poodle about my age. For whatever reason (my person has been speculating, but, really, sometimes it's hard to know what's going on in our little brains), I was not going to play with her. In fact, I made it pretty clear that i wanted her to stay away.

I was definitely not charmed by her cute butt waggles or her play bows or her jumping like a pogo stick (even though my person was). I'm not going to let my person in on this, but at some level, it really doesn't matter WHY I didn't want to play--what matters is that I didn't. Basta.

I also continue to refine my lesson from Saturday that it's possible to nap while not in a crate. I'm getting pretty good at this lesson and am glad to learn it.

But I digress. Today's lesson
I didn't want to play with the poodle, even though she was cute as a bug.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Some days there's not much to learn

Well, I did a lot today--played with Tansy and Darby, went on a long walk, played with the kitties, played ball, ran around in the snow....but I don't think I really learned much.

Then, what did I learn today?

Some days you can do a lot without learning much at all.

Big woofs to my pal Renzo who ran at the tournament this week-end. Good going buddy--I'll be there to watch you next time.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Well, big stuff at our house this week-end. First off, we have a visitor, Darby.

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

She's a real cutie as you can see. We think she looks a lot like Inji, our old matriarch kitty. She hisses like Inji, too (and in fact, they hissed at each other earlier today). I didn't know dogs hissed--but she's done it several times to me, too. When she got here this morning, she and Tansy both stress-peed on the floor--I was keeping my distance from both of them.

She's the friend of Brody, who stayed with us in October. She kinda looks like him, too. She's a kai inu/shibu inu mix.

Since Darby was coming to visit (she'll be here til March 7th), one of my people stayed home with me and Tansy (who is downstairs playing with a squeeky toy because she doesn't think anyone has noticed--that's the only time she plays with toys) and the other one took Renzo to a flyball tournament. Lucky boy--but he deserves it after this long time when he's been benched because of the dew claws. And I've not had to go in my crate at all today (and once my person finishes channeling me for this blog, we're going for a W.A.L.K.). And that's the lesson for today:

I don't have to be in my crate to take a nap. I can take one just about anywhere.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Tansy is fun

Well, there's nothing like another Border Collie in the house to make life just nothing but fun and games. Me and Tansy have been playing all day long (except for some requisite long naps). She's starting to play with balls and to leap and pounce with joy--just like me. Even Renzo got in to some of the fun today and chased her around and teased her into chasing him.

Here's Tansy and me looking kind of like we're singing and dancing--I guess we are...

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.
My person's been pretty happy today too--something about listening to country music (though she also gets happy when she listens to lots of other kinds--today's just been country). She even did some housecleaning while we played.

Lesson for today?
Even a snowy day in late February is fun with Tansy and country music

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hitting the box is FUN

Today was flyball day. Yay!! I love flyball practice. I get to play and I get to watch all the other guys. Plus all my favorite people and dogs are all together in one place. Can't beat it. Everybody did really well today, too, which makes all the people pretty happy.

I did really good. My box is coming along well with a pretty good turn and a pretty quick release. Plus, I'm single stepping the jumps most of the time. Best of all, I'm learning to cock my body when my person says "Ready".

So, what'd I learn today?
It's easier to get a good running start when you cock first.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ice is slippery

We went for a walk today. Pretty cold, just a little snow on the ground, but lurking underneath were patches of ice. Luckily, when I slide around, it doesn't much bother me, but not so my person. She fell. Twice. I felt pretty bad for her, but what can you do.

What I learned today:
Ice is slippery and when people hit it, some of them fall down

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

10 days: 10 things I've learned

So, I know I said I was going to write one thing I learned every day. But, well you know that problem of being dependent on someone with opposable thumbs who also has a demanding job as an academic.

I sometimes think I take precedence over her students, research, and other commitments, but these last 10 days, I've been decidedly further down the list. It's not that she doesn't love me, I know. And I know she feels really bad too. So, I'm cutting her some slack (that's the good thing about us dogs--we don't really hold any grudges). But, to catch everyone up, I'm going to write down the things I've learned since Feb. 11.

Feb. 12:
Flyball practice on Saturday throws everyone off schedule
Feb. 13:
There are "valentines". My friend Jake sent me one that he got as part of a fundraiser for Valentine, a foster available from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue.
Feb. 14:
Some dogs really don't like it when you get near them while they're chewing a bone. Not me though.

Feb. 15:
If you stand up and "shop" the kitchen counters, you often find tasty treats AND your person will pay attention to you (that's the main lesson--the treats are really just a lagniappe)
Feb. 16:
Anything can be a tug-toy
Feb. 17:
People have "birthdays". Dogs have "welcome home days".
Feb. 18:
Three dogs can really wear a single human out.
Feb. 19
Running up-hill in the snow is excellent training for competitive dog sports like flyball (doesn't hurt the humans either).
Feb. 20
Sundays are really no different from any other day if you're a border collie. Except that the people are around more and dress differently.
Feb. 21
When people go away, they almost always come back so there's no need to worry. Even when they're gone for several days.

And the thing I learned today?

Nothing says "I love you" like a peanut butter-filled toy

Friday, February 11, 2005

Still smooth sailing

I just kind of feel like writing in green today. Things are still going pretty well with our new friend Tansy. In fact, I kind of think she might be the dog leader me and Renzo have been needing. All the information about her said that she's timid and shy, but we've found that she's really pretty sure of herself and doesn't care one whit if one of the people call her off something (like a cat). When I get called off, I usually need to go right over and give lots of kisses and butt waggles, otherwise they might stay mad at me (I'm kind of like one of my people that way--though she tends not to do many butt waggles).

On the flyball front, well, yesterday my regular person trainer had to stay at work, so my other trainer person took me instead. I tug like a maniac when I'm watching other dogs play flyball (just not when I'm playing) and so my people thought it might be a good idea to use a harnass so that I don't strangle myself with my own excitement. I found it was just a different way of getting tangled up, but don't tell them or anything. I like to humor them.

I've been looking at some other blogs lately and I think I might be too wordy. So from now on, I'm going to try and write just one screen's worth of stuff. Maybe I'll try with just "what I learned today" (kind of like the guy who is writing about his awful roommate, but nicer).

So, what'd i learn today:
Tennis balls are pretty hard on the teeth when they're frozen

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

New stuff at my house

So, it's been a while since I posted I know. I've had a couple of flyball lessons since my last post. Right now we're working on moving me to the tug toy as a reward for playing flyball. I'll pretty much do the jumps and the box, but only for food. Now I need to learn that the tug is really fun, too--way more fun than food.

My person's been practicing at home, so we'll see how I do tomorrow at class. I've been doing pretty well at my companion obedience class. This week we had to be willing to give up a tasty rawhide if our person asked us to. That's a piece of cake for me (I know both give and drop it). Then, we also had to ignore other dogs coming around while we were chewing our bones. We also had to do some heeling and staying. Then we got to play the game "My dog can do that"--that's really fun and so far I can keep up with everyone just fine.

On a really exciting note, I've got a new friend living at my house. My people brought home Tansy last week-end. She's a border collie like me, but already 4 years old. The person who had her for the first 4 years really neglected her (she wasn't actively abused we don't think, but definitely deprived of the kind of environment us border collies need. As far as we know, she lived in an outdoor pen her whole life and really never learned much of what dogs need to know if they're going to live with humans.) She's doing great at our house, fitting in just beautifully and even Renzo doesn't seem to mind having her here.

Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.

I love it because she wants to play as much as I do! She's going to come to flyball class with me tomorrow just to watch. I bet she'll be really excited.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The words I know

We don't have practice today, so I thought I'd give a run-down of all the words I know (My buddy Renzo knows most of these t0o, so I'm not really showing off). Right now, I know 80 words and phrases (by "know" I mean that I will do the desired action or provide the desired response 80-90% of the time in ideal, non-distracting conditions. For most commands, I will do the action 70% of the time or better with distractions--depending on what they are, of course. My people work with me every day to "proof" many of the commands, especially basic obedience)

Basic obedience commands (15 words):
Sit, Down, Settle, Come, Wait (my people use this instead of "stay"--I don't know why), Heel (honestly, I'm not that great at Heel, but I know what it is), Leave It, Off, Quiet, Back, Yes (I've completed whatever command I was given), No (I've chose something that I really shouldn't), Wrong (I did the wrong command or did something I wasn't supposed to--less serious than "no"); Okay (I can be released from command); Oops (Wrong command--basically synonymous with Wrong),

Useful commands (24 words):
Bring your X, Get your X (synonymous with Bring), Drop It (I'm pretty much 100% with this command), Find (your) X, Where's X (bascially synonymous with Find), Up, Go to Bed (for crate in bedroom where I sleep); Crate up (for crate in living room where I hang out); Go to the Couch; Get in your Boat (my people call the plush bed Renzo and I share our "boat"--I don't know why and think it's a little weird), Easy; Let's go (when sniffing and snorfling around on walks), Come along (synonymous with Let's go), Right, Left, Watch, Catch it, Push (hit something with my feet), Touch (hit something with my nose), Through (just a general command for going through something--I have more specific commands for going through agility obstacles), Tug, Give, Hop up (get in the car), Bring it Here (put something in person's hand)

Things my people call tricks (12 words):
Bow, Crawl, Bang (this is basically play dead), Twist (turn clockwise), Spin (turn counter-clockwise), Left shake (shake with left paw), Right shake (shake with right paw), Wave, Whisper, Speak, Weave (walk in Figure 8 through person's legs), Shut the drawer

Commands specific to agility or flyball (12 words)
Tunnel, A-frame, Walk It (dog walk), Tire, Over, Big over (I'm not sure I really know this, but my person thinks I do--this is for the broad jump), Target, Teeter, Table (again, I don't feel that confident with this one), Jump (this is for flyball hurdles and differs from Over in that I'm supposed to jump flat for this one and jump "hilly" for over), Ready (means something's about to happen-it's more a cue for me than a command to do something), Weave pole

Names of people or things--these words can be combined with "Bring" and "Find" and "Where's" (7 words)
Renzo (my good buddy), Fritz (kitty I especially like to chase), ball, toy, puppy (specific toy), Susan (one of my people), Robin (another one of my people)

Random phrases that elicit a response from me (10 phrases)
Wanna go for a walk, Wanna play flyball, Wanna do agility, There's your friend X, You're o.k., Are you hungry, Want your dinner, Want your breakfast, Want a Kong, Want a cookie

Commands I know by hand signal (7 commands)
Sit, Down, Come, Wait, Bring/Get, Bow (rather than hand signal, I do this when you blow in my face), Bring it here

Words I'm learning now (9 words)
Talk, Loose (for loose-leash walking), Get ready (this is for flyball and means face the course and get ready to run), Line up (synonymous with get ready), Leash, Hold it, Sit up, Shut the cabinet door (with nose), Fuss (heeling on the right),

Words that my person would like me to know but isn't ready to teach me yet:
Roll-over, Roll the ball, Ring the bell, Turn on/off the light, Sneeze, Gather the laundry, Backwards weave, Frisbee

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by Pippin Noodle.
See this cat? This guy weighs in at over 24 lbs (just for reference, I'm about 34 lbs) and is one scary feline. Actually, that's not really fair, it's not that he's so scary, it's that he and my buddy Renzo have a long-standing disagreement about whether or not dogs or cats take precedence in the Huck's household. Renzo thinks dogs do, but Huck lets him know in no uncertain terms that dogs "drool" (you know, like in that dumb saying, cats rule, dogs drool). Anyway, I tried to stay pretty agnostic on the whole matter, seeing as I was a guest in Huck's house and all. But, once Huck got riled up at my buddy Renzo (who has no fear and so doesn't really care that much if Huck is mad--in fact, Renzo thinks it's great fun to egg Huck on), it was over for all us dogs.

And seeing as I'm a bit of cautious girl, Huck saw me as an easy mark. Basically he terrorizes me everytime we visit. I try to stay out of the way, mind my own business and all, but NOOO, when Huck smells dog, he's ready to rumble.

It's great for my people, though, because Huck keeps me pretty well contained in a room and I don't have much desire to get into mischief because he could really be anywhere...

I'm glad that only one of the kitties at my house is a caninanthrope and she pretty much just wants to be left alone--she doesn't actively seek out dogs to harrass

New flyball class started

Hey, it's me again--two posts in one day, can't beat that. Some of my fans have complained to my person that I'm not posting very often. Luckily, she doesn't try to pin the blame on me, but still it makes us both pretty embarrassed. Anyway, a couple big milestones for me in flyball this week.

First, I've been getting to go to practice all by myself because my poor buddy Renzo had to have his dew claws removed and has been out of commission for the last couple of weeks. Poor guy, but hey, it means I get sole attention from my people at flyball practice (and it's pretty quiet without Renzo barking out his cries of joy over and over and over and....).

So, anyway, last Sunday one of my people decided that we had to try a new strategy for keeping me focused on flyball and not on going to visit. So, she told all the people to be really mean to me (actually, she just told them to tell me "no" if I came over, but as far as I'm concerned, she might as well have told them to kick me in the gut...). And then they did tell me no--I went from person to person, wiggling my whole body, trying to lick and say hi, but they all said "no" adn some of them even stamped their feet at me. I was really confused, I mean, really, really confused--I thought everyone really liked for me to come and say hi and I know that I like it. But all the while my person was also calling come and it was so much nicer to be with her than with all those people being mean to me. So, slowly but surely, I'm starting to understand that I can only go visit when my person says it's o.k., not when I decide it's o.k. Hard knocks, really, but my person hopes that I'll start to see that flyball is really the ultimate fun. I probably will.

Then, I started a new flyball class on Thursday with a new instructor, Pam Shulz from Slammers flyball club. She's pretty cool and was able to keep a pretty unruly bunch in line. I got to run and noodled off to visit, but remembered after just two no's that I was supposed to stay with my person. I did really good on the box-=hitting it hard and coming back to my person. I'm also feeling more and more confident. I think I'll be pretty close come summer, but who knows, life is so full of fun that you never know what might be waiting for you around the corner...

I'm also taking another obedience class at Country Kennel with my good friend Neva. I'm the baby in the class. There are several labs and they are just really different dogs than me. I don't get the whole laying around thing, but that's what makes it such an interesting world--we're all a little different.