Today, he hung out in the yard with my roommate, and his girlfriend. They each have a large boisterous dog, and were busy working on a bike in the yard. It was perfect, as they both ignored West. He hung out very near Brad, but did not solicit attention (Brad really was ignoring him completely, though). He showed no signs of barking, though he did enjoy chasing the dogs as they played in the yard. I expect that another short session near Brad would have him soliciting attention very quickly, but I'm not sure Brad is game for it :) We'll continue to hang out near him when he's busy, as much as we can.
Wednesday, West has a play date with a friend, Claudine, and her dogs, and hopefully her husband! Hopefully, that will go well. Then we have class Thursday evening and West might come to that. Depends how Wednesday goes, though.
Sorry for the non-West post. I've been away all weekend, and West spent some time with Chris. He hasn't been with him for a while, and Chris sort of started out where they left off. This proved to be a bit stressful for West, so I just let Chris know he needs to start back at the beginning. Things will progress far more quickly the second time, though!
Anyway, I'm home now. West has a playdate on Wednesday, so hopefully I can remember a camera!
This post, though, is about a video I think you should watch. It's great for anyone who feels passionately about any subject. I think there should be an entire day dedicated to the theme, see blog title. Anyway, here ya go.
I can't believe I forgot my camera AGAIN. I MUST remember it next time! Jeez!
West and I went on an official "play date" today. I've put a request out on the local dog training board for people with playful dogs and fenced backyards. So far, I have several volunteers, and have one more 'officially' booked for next Wednesday. I feel like a parent, trying to coordinate West's play date schedule! And it's forcing me to have a social life! Eep.
So, back to today. We loaded up in the car, just him and I and some cheese. We drove into town and found the place. I went in and asked the owner to stay inside, I'd bring West in, then she could come out with the puppy. She agreed (people are SO agreeable!) so I went to get him.
When I leave West alone in the car, I put his Calming cap on him, just so if someone is stupid and comes right up to the car, he isn't too stressed by it. He's totally fine watching people go by, but I just don't trust the average passer-by not to torment him, and it's smaller and easier to carry than a crate!
I took off his cap, and put the leash on, let him out of the car. Right away, he just wanders and saunters like he's a perfectly normal dog. I dunno what flipped with this guy, but he's a changed dog! He led me into the yard and we headed to the side farthest from the house door. Nova came out with her owner and I took West's leash off. He greeted her beautifully, looked briefly a tiny bit worried about the strange lady, I called his name, and he went right back to playing with Nova.
West was rolling around in the grass, covering his Thundershirt with dry grass, so I pulled both that and his harness off him. He shook, and was off chasing Nova again!
Nova is persistent, so she kept West going most of the 2 hours we were there. Within about 20 minutes, West approached the new stranger for pets, and cheese. This was again without any intervention, coaxing or otherwise, from me. He repeated this 4 or 5 times throughout our visit, and never barked, nor even look stressed.
Nova's housemate came out briefly. She is a bit dog reactive, but she did well. West was very appeasing to her. Nova would not play with West while her housemate was out, so she went back in the house so Nova and West could play again. Which they did.
Overall, the visit was remarkably boring. West played. Nova played. West got pets and cookies from strangers. West laid down when I asked him to. West came when I called him. Very normal-dog play-date!
When we were ready to go, Nova stayed in the yard, while her owner came out front. West was leashed at this point, and was watching people walk by on the path across the street (The street, plus maybe 5-10' of driveway, and another 2' of grass on the other side) without a problem. He was more than willing to approach his new friend for more pets, even though this was a different area, she was standing, and West was leashed. No problemo!
Back in the car, West laid down and mostly napped all the way home. He's sound asleep now, totally exhausted. Archie, on the other hand, is wondering why I'm not taking him to these play dates.. hah.
Oh. Right. Yesterday, we took all 6 up the hill for a hike to the lake. We didn't get to the lake, cause I had to be back in time for puppy class, but the dogs had a blast in the mud!
A herd of 'sheep' for West to keep gathered:
And what do you mean, I'm a pigsty? -- sigh. soo much mud right now.
I know I promised to bring the camera today, but I forgot. Sorry!
I loaded the boys into the Sprint today and we drove to meet a pet sitting client. She's been a member of the dog group for years, but she quit competing right around the time I moved here, so we'd never really met. She needs someone to look after her two dogs, and I need work, so we both win!
The hope is that I'll be able to bring the boys with me when I house sit at the end of May for her, so that's why they came along. I left West on his car-control strap, with his thundershirt and calming cap on while I went inside. Archie was crated.
When I came back out, he was just chilling, lying on the passenger seat. He did not appear worried at all!! I took Archie to the backyard, then came back and got West. I just used Archie's marti-lead (thanks to Premier for custom making that one!), so I was extra careful to make sure West was well under threshold. He walked with me beautifully and when I opened the yard gate, he WENT IN AHEAD OF ME. I'm fairly certain he hasn't ever crossed a new/unfamiliar threshold ahead of me before.
I let him off, shut the gate tight (6' privacy fence for the win!) and opened the door to let the two resident dogs into the yard. The owner of the dogs agreed to watch from inside, so as to not intimidate West. The young havanese immediately started a game with West, and he was more than willing to play! Even Archie joined in a bit! West was coping very very well, so after about 10 minutes, I invited the owner outside (into her own yard..) to see how he did. West noticed her, but kept playing. We sat outside for almost an hour, with West mostly playing, Archie eventually being removed and returned to the car, and overall great fun. West actually approached the owner totally of his own accord in a very friendly and almost confident way! He did VERY well.
The neighbour's dog was barking at us a good part of this time, and at one point, the neighbour male came out and shouted a few commands and some "no"s at the dog. West was a bit worried by this, but didn't bark and just approached me for reassurance. He was able to return to dog play almost immediately! Fantastic bounce back!
Eventually, we had to call it quits, so I put West back in the car (with thundershirt and calming cap in place) on his strap. I went to meet the neighbour, and when I returned to the car, West was almost totally relaxed, sprawled across both seats. I had to shove him over to sit down! Normally, he leaps up as soon as he hears me.
After we got home, I played with Archie out in the yard for a bit, then went in. I brought Archie in, let him get a drink, then put him away and opened the door for West.. who bounded in, covered HEAD TO TOE IN MUD! Sigh. I guess he went down to the creek for.. a roll? Jeez. His thundershirt and harness both need a wash!
All in all, a very very good day.
Look how CLEAN everything is!! Sigh. Spring, I love you, but.. mud?!
Wow, sorry guys. I need to start posting daily again.. I need to get the camera so I have photos to post daily again!!
West has come so far from the beginnings of this blog. He's still likely to woof when he's worried, but always moving away, escaping if that's an option.
He greeted Lindsay without even a worried look yesterday. He has met her twice before, and both times required some serious time and her staying perfectly still, etc. This time, she came into the RV and he was crated, uncovered. He was fine when we entered (did his usual LET ME OUT fuss, but settled), then gave a random demand bark (very much NOT his "I'm scared" bark). I decided to give it a shot and opened up his crate. Lindsay is VERY dog savvy, so I wasn't worried she'd do anything weird or be terribly upset if he did go off barking.
West came out of his crate, leapt on me, and when I asked him to get off, he approached Lindsay right away. Almost totally soft body language, seeking attention. Put his feet up on her, got some pets from her. We hung out for about 5-10 minutes inside and he was great. I let Archie out and we went outside, and he was also great outside, though I was tossing the ball for Archie, so mostly he herded Arch.
Still... A few months ago, this would NOT have worked. A few months ago, he leapt barking at my sister, twice. And he'd met her far more times than he's met Lindsay. Good job, West!
On another note, I spent a couple hours out in the yard this evening (yay for warm!) putting all the agility equipment together. I now have 4 complete jumps, one pvc 2x2, and an 8 'rung' ladder. The ladder needs some.. repairs.. but I think it will be okay for now. The jumps are still in great shape. I'm quite amazed at the people who say their PVC equipment doesn't last more than a season.. This stuff is at least 4 years old now, and I think I have a total of 4 broken pieces (mostly Ts that were frozen to the ground when a certain border collie puppy ran straight into the upright/weavepole and SNAPPED THE T IN HALF). They've been moved in a not-very-secured moving truck, stored outside all that time, and generally not treated very well. Even the taped bars are still in fine shape. I guess I'm lucky!
While I was doing all this, West managed to get Archie to play a couple times, for about 20 seconds at a time. Better than nothing. I'm hoping that as I spend more time just busy outside, they will play more. West is coming into town with me tomorrow for a possible play date, depending on how many people are around, etc. Hopefully, it goes well! I'll try to bring my camera! Jeez!
Today, we had the magic combination of SUN, a CAMERA, and my remembering to TAKE PHOTOS all in the same time period! Amazing!! My sister must still have her camera, so I borrowed the 'good' camera from Chris (which actually belongs to my sister's boyfriend.. long story!) to get some sunny dog photos today!
I wanted to get some nice shots of West wearing his fully-matching Premier gear. I know we all decided on Royal Blue, but sometimes things don't happen the way you expect :) My mom placed the order for me, and got a bit mixed up.. So we ended up with Cadet blue instead. I think he looks quite smashing! ;)
Trying to get photos of this dog on a leash is like trying to nail jello to a wall. I dropped the end of the leash over the weave poles, so I could get a few feet away and try to get some decent photos. He knocked the poles over, then proceeded to stand there looking stressed as heck!
West says "Why are you making me sit here, away from you and with no archie to chase??"
So, I snapped a few pics quickly, then moved on. This was not going to give me the photos I wanted!
I managed to get this one:
No, I have no idea either. Maybe just before a full body shake?
Here, we're getting closer:
But of course, It's of his shadowed side. Sigh.
West rolled in the snow some, and I got a couple "ok" ones of that, showing the underside of the harness..
So then I hooked his leash over a tree branch. This was far less stressful (Maybe because archie was running after a ball at this point, or..?) so I got some nicer photos.
I love this one, as it shows exactly how a GL should be fit differently from a collar, and is also kind of an interesting photo. I wish his harness strap was visible too..
I took off his GL and leash, and got some shots of him in his usual "travel wear" with his muzzle on too. The Thundershirt fits nicely over or under the harness. If I need the back attachment on the harness, I put it on top. If I just need the car control ring, it sits between the chest and belly straps of the thundershirt, so it doesn't matter which is on top.
West straddling pipe and looking sort of evil in the shadows..
Waiting to pounce on Archie
Ready to goooo
The Car Control ring:
All in all, I'm very happy with the equipment. Just as I was taking that last photo, new roomie came up the driveway to his car with his two dogs. West would love to play with them, I think, but new roomie is a dude, so I sent West into the yard. Archie charged over to the dogs (I've met both, but he hadn't met one of them, nor the roomie), I called I'd be right back, and locked West in the motorhome (I can't lock him in the yard anymore. He jumps over. Thanks archie..). I went over to chat with roomie and Archie had some amazing zoomy fun with the two big dogs! Wahoo! Archie rarely plays, so this was very nice. We'll have to get them together again. When I came back in the motorhome, West was sitting by the door inside, and Archie didn't bite him :D
West needs to spend WAY more time watching things/dogs move without being allowed to chase them. Impulse control. Pronto!
Holy smokes! I missed updating you guys on West's last class, and a few other things! Life has been busy!
West had his last Rally-O class on Thursday. I'd been forgetting his L-Theanine, and I definitely noticed a difference. He did well, overall, though. I'm working on shaping a Bow and a Rollover, as stress relief tricks :)
He's mostly been spending his time as usual. He still loves chasing Archie out in the yard, and has quit harassing the chickens now. He's ALMOST figured out how to catch popcorn if I throw it just right. I think I managed to get one piece out of about 50 into his mouth! So, we're getting there.
We went for a hike today up by the dump. West rode in the back on his new harness/car control strap, cause we took the little car (did anyone else notice fuel is WAY expensive??). He did very well! He ran and chased and played with Gypsy. He tried to play with Candy, but she wasn't interested. He has adjusted very nicely to his body harness (Premier Sure-fit) and matching collar.
After the walk, we stopped at the gas station to fuel up. West had been so quiet, I sort of forgot about him, until he raised his head and noticed a big strange man about 4' from the car (fueling up his own truck)!!! He didn't bark, and I was able to easily redirect him and give him some cookies. Good boy, West! That certainly would not have been possible even a month ago! His reactions when startled are starting to change from "OMG" to "Hey, we're playing that silly stranger game again, aren't we?" which is fantastic.
Archie, Gypsy and Sheela debuted at their first AAC agility trial. I had my sister run Sheela for me so I could focus on Archie. There is video of one of Sheela's runs, and nothing else! But there was a pro photographer there, so there may be photos. Both Gypsy and Sheela got refusals in Jumpers, but otherwise did well. Archie was unable to cope with the situation both runs, so he didn't get to do much. Sheela got 22 snooker points on a VERY difficult snooker course (for those who know agility, the teeter was #5 and the weaves were the #7. Sheela hasn't got a teeter or weaves yet.. and #6 was chute, jump, tunnel!! So, way too many yards for her to be able to get enough points), but had a total blast. Gypsy got one snooker point, I think. It was cold, but we had a decent time. Lots of work to do with Archie! :)
Leave something in the comments if you want me to write, video or photograph something specific. I'm considering making this blog a bit more general and not focusing on West so much, since his life is pretty routine now. Any thoughts on that?