I caught Tom red tongued, gently picking pea pods off the vines. And here I was blaming the chipmunks!
Zora is perturbed. She’s more than perturbed quite frankly. See, I put a bell on her.
The bell is on her CoyoteVest that she wears on our woods walks. And it means she can no longer chase chipmunks. I’ve spoiled all her fun.
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling. The chipmunks all know she’s coming.
More importantly it’s now much easier for me to keep track of her when she’s off leash. The foiling of her chipmunk chasing is just a nice (for the chipmunks) side benefit. Hopefully it keeps the coyotes away too!
the pipes the pipes are calling
from glen to glen, and down the mountain side…
Been singing this tune all week because we have Danny visiting!
Isn’t he adorable?! His family has been doing an awesome job with him, making my job as easy as can be this week. Which is wonderful.
Danny is a 3m old lab pup. His owners say he’s a “silver” lab, but really as silver is just a genetically dilute form of the chocolate coat coloration in labs, he’s a chocolate labrador retriever.
As most lab pups who have come through my door for training or boarding, Danny has benefited from learning about balanced reciprocal play and that dogs don’t enjoy having their heads jumped on as a way of greeting. Zora is, thankfully, a great puppy teacher and has been enjoying making Danny her minion. She tells him what he can and can’t do with her, and with some consistent reminder’s he’s steadily grasping the realities of dog social interactions. Just yesterday, for the first time, I saw him actually ask her politely if she would play with him, and it worked! She obliged. This morning, on the other hand, he forgot and tried the classic lab jump on her head, which yea dude, that’s a no go, she no like that.
He is a sweet moose of a pup. And a labrador in every sense. Sweet, a bit slow on the uptake, needs loads of consistent repetition, and is currently a puppy version of Jaws. Seriously, he tried to eat my concrete garden statue, ignoring the antler lying right next to it. He is for sure all lab.
A lovely morning for a walk. Tom guiding on my left, Dulce spaniel and Zora walking nicely on my right.
Nearing the end of the walk, final stretch of sidewalk towards home. I live on the main road through town, so there is always traffic, it’s busy. It’s trash day. It’s the time of year for road work so various bits of construction. You get the picture.
Dulce, who is walking with her gentle leader head collar on flicks her head and does a little woof, the way she does when there is something ahead she’s unsure about. So we stop, do a couple of hand touches for some treats, she settles. I glance ahead and see the orange and silver stripes of a traffic barrel at the edge of the sidewalk. Ok, makes sense Dulce is unnerved, she can be worried about stuff like that.
Dulce is willing to trust me, and Tom and Zora are unphased, so we keep going. As we are passing, the traffic barrel says, “Hi!”
Not a traffic barrel.
I can only imagine what the construction worker thought as I’m approaching, telling the dogs, “Don’t worry, it’s just a barrel.” LOL
Corgis are notorious control freaks. Nosy control freaks. Want to know everyone’s business and what’s going on and why weren’t they informed gosh darn it!?! And rules, oh the rules! The glee they get when someone is breaking the rules!
Zora is no different. There is a fine line to balancing what could be very bossy (and rather jerk) behavior in her. Most of the time she is able to walk the line. Thankfully. Monty, he was trouble, ‘fine line what fine line? Oh you mean that one I stomped on and ignored, that line?’ In the old west Monty would have been a gun slinging head of the outlaw gang, Zora a badge toting law enforcing Deputy (I’m glad she considers me worthy to play Sheriff).
But a side benefit is Zora’s a fantastic tattle tale.
She can be sound asleep and some visiting dog makes some movement or noise or gosh knows what and she’s up in a flash off to investigate. If something is amiss and her sticking her nose into it isn’t enough for the other dog to stop, she trot trot trots on over to me to tell her tale, “That dog is breaking rules! Go tell them so!”
I have to say my favorite move of hers though is when the other dog is getting into something, drops it when Zora approaches, and she picks it up in a swoop, trots it back to me gleefully to deposit her prize in my hand. Another LEGO brick saved. Thanks, Zora.
Dog play is fascinating and hysterical!
Lucy spaniel invented this game today and played it over and over and over.
She takes the ball, and goes under the a-frame. Pushes the ball in the space under the a-frame, then uses her paws to pull it back. If it goes too far out of range, she barks. Zora grabs it, decides it is too slimy and gross, and spits it out. Lucy takes the ball back, and under the a-frame to play her game once again.
A favorite dog of mine, Rose, who belongs to a good friend has been ill for the past couple of months. Steadily going downhill. Thursday my friend learned Rose’s symptoms were due to cancer. It beyond sucks. Rose is a lovely dog and only 6.
Because Rose hasn’t been feeling well for a while, and hadn’t been eating well or absorbing nutrients, she’s lost a lot of weight. Over 10% of her body weight. Closer to 20% at this point. For a dog who was svelte to begin with this isn’t good.
Thankfully her owner is now working with a fantastic vet (we won’t go into the way her regular vet dropped the ball on this situation). In addition to prescribing some meds to help Rose feel better, the new specialist vet has given an ultra digestible food for her to eat. One that her body can at least get some nutrients from. Which is great. Except it tastes like crap. And she’d rather eat other things, which unfortunately right now her body can’t actually use.
So, how to get a dog who is essentially starving and anorexic to eat food that will help her but tastes like garbage?
This is where Rose’s years and years of training history are proving to be a huge asset. Rose loves to train. She loves puzzles and thinking and problem solving. She also loved toys, balls in particular. And she loves games that involve her figuring out what to do in order to get the ball to be thrown. My friend has developed an awesome relationship with Rose these past 6 years, with training games being a huge part of their daily fun.
My friend had to go out of town this weekend, I had Rose and the challenge of figuring out: how to get her to eat food that tastes like garbage and she would rather spit out?
Knowing Rose as well as I do, I figured let’s try rewarding eating it with ball play. And see if that ends up reinforcing eating. The good old Premack Principle.
Then build up how many kibbles she has to eat in order to get the ball thrown.
It worked! So far she’s up to a handful of kibble individually hand fed to her at a high rate per ball throw.
Because the goal is for calories in to well exceed calories out for her right now, the ball throws are short to minimize how much energy she spends with the ball part of the equation. But for about 4 short ball tosses per session she’s willing to eat usually 2.5-3 handfuls of kibble now 4-5 times a day. Which is awesome. She’s actually eating and getting in calories her body can do something with.
And it is clear she has grasped its an if then equation. Every so often she’ll try spitting a couple out. When that doesn’t get the ball to happen, she’ll make a clear point to eat the next one. And get very happy when that does make the ball occur.
Thank goodness for training histories and a smart dog. Sure is improving Rose’s quality of life, even with cancer. Fingers crossed she’s willing to play this particular game for a long time more.
Rose this past fall when she was feeling her usual bouncy happy poodle self on one of our walks.
This is Rey
Rey can sometimes be a bit of a snot rocket. Really she can be a bit of a resource guarder if you want to get all technical. With other dogs. She’s lovely with people. Except she likes to guard them. From other dogs. And food, and toys, and places to sleep, and door ways, and water dishes, and you get the idea.
Rey has stayed with us a number of times over the past couple of years. And she really likes Zora. REALLY likes Zora.
The last time Rey stayed with us, compared to the times previous, though her resource guarding had gotten much worse. But her owners were receptive to feedback and they worked with her on it a lot.
So this stay she was really appropriate and not guardy for the first 4 days. Then Monday came. With non stop torrential rain for 12 hours. We didn’t go for a walk. The dogs napped all day. Rey was still good.
Until Tuesday. When she regressed to her old ways. And guarded the water dish. And some toys. And the kitchen table. And the back door.
Tom decided he wasn’t going to come out of the bedroom until she decided to play nice. And Zora decided she was going to pretend Rey didn’t exist.
Wednesday found Rey a very sad little red corgi. Neither Tom nor Zora would acknowledge her. At all. She was being shunned to the max.
Rey assumed Zora would want to play their usual morning wrestle game. Nope, Zora wouldn’t even give her the time of day.
Rey assumed Zora would play their usual chase games in the yard. Nope, Zora walked right past her without a second glance.
Rey was very confused. Why don’t they like me anymore?
She came over to me with her sad corgi moves. “Sorry kid, that’s what happens when you don’t share. No one likes it.”
Cry “They don’t like me anymore?!” It is very pitiful when a little brown corgi cries.
She tried all manner of things to get Zora to talk to her again. Appeasement behaviors. Wiggling. Play bows. Invitations to chase. Nothing worked. Zora maintained her position that Rey was not to be acknowledged. (Tom still refused to come out of the bedroom unless he knew Rey was behind a gate).
A full day of being ignored by 2 dogs she likes very much and Rey has gotten herself back on track.
This morning Zora decided to give her another chance. Rey was delighted. “She LIKES me again!!” Racing and wrestling ensued. Then some sharing of toys. Happy wiggling. “Zora likes me again!!!” I’m not sure I’ve seen a dog so relieved in a long while. “She likes me again!!”
Zora is more forgiving than Tom, Tom is still saying “brown corgi? What brown corgi? No brown corgi here. Stupid corgis.” Though he as at least decided to come out of the bedroom. Which is progress. (Tom really does think corgis are devil spawn. Zora slightly less so than others, thankfully. He secretly likes Zora though will never admit it if asked. Rey he puts squarely in the ‘devil spawn’ category.)