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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Embarrassment 101

Lessons in too much trust too soon.

So things have been going well with the little bat dog, we did som' training in the street, where we practiced recalls, default check ins and just general Stay-wif-dee-hooman stuff. He did fantastic. Like Emma or Chili type fantastic. Very focused on me, not a care about anything else. Very "show me what you want" or "phhht, my last owner taught me this" Good stuff, really good stuff. So that, coupled with the "omg don't leave my sight to go to the bathroom, or to turn off that light in the other room" syndrome filled me with a sense of trust. This dog likes me, wants to be with me inately, and will respond to me if I need him too.

A false sense. Apparently.

So I decided this morning to take the smaller dogs to the dog park. This is an ordeal because I have to get collars on them all, which is fairly normal until Chili's collar comes out. Now we know som'thing special is happening. Chili's collar only goes on him if we are actually going som'where, because Kiwi feels the need to "play" with him by grabbing his collar and picking him up. *sigh*.

The way I get 4 very excited dogs into my car and maintain sanity breaks down like this.

I bring the car close to the gate. I open the passenger door. I check for cars, dogs, cats, people. Anything monkey wrench really. I then go to the gate and open it. The dogs wait in a sit until I release them with "go to the car". Dogs then turn left and go to the car. Treats inside car waiting. Point A. to point B. Simple stuff.

Especially easy since they seem to understand the concept of car rides being the prelude to the park or whatever. So they tend to just want to be in there. Car equals cookies, car equals rides. Yay, fun fun fun.

So I figured, me, and three other well trained dogs, all going to "the car". It would be safe to just let Radar hobble along with them. Unhindered. I don't have a harness for him yet, and he can't have anything on his throat because of the infection. A leash would make him more excited and less focused. Plus its only about 10 ft from the gate to the car. Call me lazy, but leashing four very excited dogs and walking them 10 ft, and then unclasping them all is a circus, usually involving som'one getting stepped on or choked. I figured if the old man strays a bit, I'll just redirect him. I figured the worse that would happen is he would pause to smell the mailbox. Besides he'll just naturally want to follow the other dogs and me, Chihuahuas are very group oriented.

Ha. Wrong.

So I open the gate, release them and several things happen. Emma, being the saint she tends to be, goes and gets in the car like instructed. Radar on the other hand, takes off full tilt in the other direction. I mean, FULL TILT. How an old dog with two luxating patellas and hip dysplasia runs that fast is beyond me. He looked like a fleeing rodent.

And of course, Tippy follows him. So Chihuahuas ARE group orriented! Just not in a way that benefits me. Fantastic.

Tippy also runs alarmingly fast for a neuro dog that falls over, shes right on his heels.

Chili, confused by the whole scenario, runs into the center of the street, and starts sniffing the ground in obvious displacement behavior, perhaps deciding between the car and the chihuahua 500 thats occurring.

So I scream Tippy's name, and she stops. I recall her, and while shes running back to me, I tell Chili to get in the car and he does. Tippy cannot jump into the car, so I now have to wait for her to recall, then pick her up and load her. The guy across the street raking his dirt has decided to pause to watch the "dog trainer" as her world disintegrates.

At this point I don't know where Radar is anymore. I did see him run into one particular yard, so I start there. I call his name. Nothing. So I listen and hear his tags clinking not far from me and follow the sound. I see him, as far into my neighbors yard as possible. So I now have to run across their yard, in front of their open front door (I could hear them inside talking) past their cars, boat, etc. Basically if there was any privacy left to violate, I'd probably have to walk inside to do it.

I see him. He sees me. Hes now cornered more or less. Im about 15 ft away from him. I call him. He looks at me, then at the gate hes in front of, weighs his choices and then decides that their iron side gate is the better choice than coming to me. He starts to climb through it. WTF is the only thing running through my head. You want to escape my yard to climb into another one???? Why are you running away from me???? Every interaction we've ever had has been pleasant and cookierific!!??? Right??? Gah!!!

Oh, and nevermind the 80lb unaltered Rottweiler that is dog aggressive that lives there. I'm sure they can be friends. Right.

So I snatch the little punk up about 2 seconds from him having a very bad day.

Back in the car, we drive miles to the dog park. I'm still anxious and upset over the whole thing. Everytime som'thing you think is trained, fails, you feel like a complete idiot. Its not the dogs fault, at all. Its mine. At the same time, while I do expect a little falter, most people dont expect a fullblown meltdown of expected behavior. You do expect your spouse to perhaps, admit he/she hides a tiny bit of money from you, or say, hasn't told you this or that. You don't expect an out of the blue "I have 5 other families, I'm gay and Im leaving you". Such things hurt the head a bit.

Not helped by the fact that Radar doesn't seem to like car rides, and is now throwing himself at the windows, trying to escape. I'm so upset that I almost miss the exit, and have to cross a tiny bit of paint divider on the freeway as to not miss it.

Which of course, many miles later, turns out was full of nails. When I arrive at the dog park, my tire is hissing at me and rapidly going flat.

Have you ever drove four excited dogs AWAY from a dog park without actually going in? It much like taking a bus load of kids to Disneyland, parking, and then telling them tough shit and turning around. Its full blown mutiny generally. I don't advise it.

I'm too scared to take the freeway at this point, so I take surface streets home. I figure if its going to blow out and we all spin around in flames, the car ejecting a dog here or there, it would be better to do it at 45mph instead of 80.

Do you know how many traffic signals are between the dog park and my house? Nineteen. I know because I counted them as I sat at nearly all of them on our epic quest to get home. On an empty tank mind you. I figured I had enough gas to get to the park, and would just get more on the way home. Doesn't matter anyway, because on the surface street route, there are no gas stations! One less thing to worry about.

Got home and unloaded everyone. The white bat was carried from point A. to point B. and is now sleeping as if he had the roughest day of his life. Chili is looking at me like he got shafted, and Kiwi can't get over the fact that OMG YOU'RE HOME.

So apparently, dogs love trucks, but cars are another matter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Criosphynx and the tiny thieves.

I try to go out at least once a month and photograph the garden, and the dogs. Try being the operative word...when the weather is nice, say may -nov, it generally gets done, but the rest of the year, save one photoshoot in Dec, is a mystery.

That's probably for the best, after all the plants are not in bloom generally, and this past year were VERY frost damaged. The dogs are all wearing silly sweaters and don't want to move around I guess I'm not missing much

Tippy is driving me nuts. She had decided to take a break from ripping apples off trees and eating all my strawberries to stealing tomatoes. Not eating, just taking them. I currently have so many tomato plants in so many places that I quite often have no idea where the little snot got it from. She doesn't even LIKE tomatoes. Each one she kinda tastes, makes a "wait this isn't a giant strawberry" face and then walks away from it. While I'm cleaning it up shes found another one. I finally just picked everything within 3 ft of the ground. This worked for about five mins until she decided the green ones must taste good too and tried that...I don't think she'll try that again though.

Chili seems to ruin almost every set we take. First, hes not the most attractive dog, and he never sits still. He does however seem to like to pose in front of whatever dead, ugly thing he can find. Note the uncut weeds/grass and the lettuce I let go to seed. So if a person just browsed Chili outdoor pics, they'd think I live in a vacant lot. Anyway, I think that he, as usual, is just trying to make us all look like chumps.

So I have som' OMG adorable pics of my new little man. Sans cone o' shame

I think he looks like a jackolantern here, a happy one. Then he has on the "Imsoseriousface". Nothing beats the chihuahua signature pant/squint thing they do. This guy also does seriousface pretty good, almost as good as a cat. I have no idea why he was sitting with the ball. Perhaps he has photo sense and knew it'd make a good prop.

Kiwi ponders the sprinkler head. I swear this dog does nothing interesting, unless you count ignoring me, blowing me off, looking at me when I call her and then going back to what she was doing, and avoiding me. When not doing those things, she does things like this.

Emma finally figured out there were blackberries to pilfer, which is ok with me since this year there are more than I'd care to eat alone, and plenty of those are up high, out of the reach of tiny dog thieves.

The amount of food stealing that goes on here in the yard has already convinced me that dogs are omnivores. That or my dogs are simply tiny, furry kleptomaniacs.

anyway, until next time. Radar bites his lip in your general direction.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Busted Seams

Anyone who I come in contact with on a fairly regular basis knows about our "new" dog.

New as in pre-owned.

Pre-owned as in...missing the mirrors, slashed the upholstery and the tires are flat. Or gone

An "as is" type of sale.

Whats really ironic about the whole ordeal of removing the cancer bits and sewing him up to keep the stuffing from falling out, is that he is a really, really, nice dog.

A nice dog being, well, the polar opposite of everything Chili is.

I love his little cone that he was forced to wear. Actually, not forced, ENJOYED, dare I say, wearing. He'd stand there and let you slip it on him, and fix his ears. Then he'd wander away and nap. All with happiness.

Chili, on the other hand, tried to rip out my trachea this morning when I tried to apply 3 droplets of Frontline to his shoulder blades. This was after chasing him. Yes, chasing the little shit around my tiny house for a good 5 mins. I must admit, we do this for fun, so its possible he thought it was a game, but I usually can catch him during the games...I couldn't this time. Mr. SpringyStep seemed to have extra incentive today.

He took one look at the tiny, terrifying tube of dog death juice and decided not to cooperate. The trainer in me kept saying "make it a fun training session! Condition him to like it! Hes only biting you because hes afraid of everything! Its not his fault!!"

The normal, human, frustrated, primate part of me, chased my dog, grabbed him, and told him "tough shit" while I squeezed frontline onto his flailing body. I must note that this is not "normal" for us, but I was having a very bad day, admittedly.

Keep in mind I don't think Chili is actually afraid of the frontline. More like "anything without som'thing in it for me, I wont do it! sort of thing.

I know better than to say that dogs are "stubborn" or "will full". But when I tried the same thing, 10 mins later, in a official "training" session (I had guilt) he didn't object at all. In fact he practically took it out of my hand and applied it himself.

My dog is too smart. Despite me not bribing him, hiding the treats, never showing him the reward first, keeping treats in other rooms. Etc. He is fully aware as to whether I plan on paying him or not. I don't know how he knows. But that little shit knows. They call these types of dogs "Wise".

As in, the dog is RingWISE or means, in training colloquialisms, that the dog had figured your plan out. He knows your next move before you do. The "you blink different when you don't have treats and I know it" sort of thing. All Clever Hans and such. IN. YOUR. HEAD.

It doesn't even matter what I pay him with. It could be half a Kibble. The human equivalent is probably like getting a $2 check from grandma for your 21st birthday. Chili doesn't care. All he cares about is being paid. Its like hes stuck on the principle of the whole thing.

So maybe next time the preowned dog is being stitched up, I can get a tattoo on Chili's tongue that says "pay it forward".

Until then, don't shoot the dog.