Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Planted peas on March 29th

This is the first installment of our garden journal for 2009. I planted Cascadia snap peas from Territorial Seed Company last Sunday. They are supposed to take two months to mature, and I hope they do before it gets too warm. If it gets too warm the shells become tough. I think it should be fine as long as they are done by the first of June. I will post some picture once they sprout in 6-14 days. Nothing like fresh peas right off the vine- besides fresh almost anything else. But hey, peas are pretty good too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Adjusting to Teal & Puppy Boot Camp

Some of the time Indy and Teal wrestle and tug together (Teal always wins). Its fun to watch them play nicely together.

Last night Indy must have decided that she needed a break from Teals antics. Hopefully this does not become a regular thing. As I write this Teal is successfully stealing a chew toy from Indy. Life for Indy is going to be different and obviously introducing a new dog always brings changes, but its still kind of sad for Indy. Im working on teaching Teal to back off when appropriate. Its only been a few days, so we will see how their relationship develops.

Here is a few of the dogs that Teal will be spending next weekend with at Mary's house AKA "puppy boot camp".

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teal's Flyball Journal

I am going to try posting weekly on Teal's progress with flyball training.

Today we had a "green dog" practice with the puppies and new dogs, perfect for Teal. It was Teals first practice here in Massachusetts. Ben has been frustrated because Teal is extremely focused on other dogs and getting her attention is difficult during practice. Today I was reminded of this right away when I took her out for recalls to the tug, she ran right past me, around the baby gates and into the other lane to the other dogs. She is obviously not ready to tug in public, especially when other dogs are running at the same time.

I tried to work with her along the sides of the lanes and rewarded her with treats when she focused on me. The point of this is to break her cycle of obsessing over the running dogs. Anytime she started obsessing and would not pay attention at all, I removed her from the situation (put her in her crate or outside).

I was feeling pretty frustrated with her, and it does not help that I keep comparing her to Indy, who picked up the game almost instantly. And then Sue (Canine Mutiny Captain) came to the rescue. She is an excellent trainer. She gave me a bag of cooked hamburger meat and a clicker. We put Teal on a long lead and after letting her smell the meat, Sue restrained her, I ran away and she came right to me! From there I ran back toward Sue and Teal followed. This was happening while other dogs were racing in the other lane.....a first for Teal!

After realizing that hamburger works, we did some work on the shoot. Sue showed me how to snap her off. There was an exciting moment when she looked over at the other lane, thought about herding other dogs, and then decided she would prefer to work for meat.

It was a good day for Teal. We have one week in between the next two tournaments, so hopefully we will have another "green" dog practice. I would love to have her running over puppy jumps and using the box by the time I turn her back over to Ben in July, but that might be a long shot. Either way, I am making a commitment to stop comparing her to Indy and let her progress at her own pace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flyball Practice - Ari

Here is an old photo Ari at flyball practice. He is now mostly retired and he doesn't mind one bit.

Winter is Finally Over & Making Progress with Puppy Training

I officially survived a New England winter. There were certainly some depressing points. When the thought of going outside at 5 pm after working gave me chills. The evenings are very dark, bone chilling cold and there is no sign of life.

I entertained Indigo inside most of the time with new tricks and flyball drills. Im working on teaching to to pretend she is injured with a limping trick and a headache trick.

The past few days have been a different story. Its been warm, clear and sunny. I am elated to wake up to singing birds and see the crocuses blooming. The streets of downtown have populated again by musicians, people with dogs and strollers, and the quirky students from the 5 colleges.

Socializing Teal with Kids

It was great to have Ben here for some of these nice days. Hopefully he will remember this place as fondly as I do and will consider moving here someday. We did not have a lot of time to take a long trip so we went to a town called Turners Falls, MA. There was a nice grassy area near the Connecticut river to let the dogs run, but the town itself was mostly desolate and sad.

Connecticut River

Unity Park

We made the decision to have Teal stay with me. She will have her own personal dog walker everyday for a 1/2 hr walk. I have been taking Teal and Indigo to the dog park everyday and rewarding Teal for good behavior when interacting with other dogs. Today she only went crazy on one dog, who gladly reminded her that she is only a tiny puppy and needs to learn her manners. She also bravely ran up to an English Mastiff, who, with one paw smack had her pinned.

I am beginning to feel better about her progress with car chasing as well. We sat on a street corner and worked on "leave it", which she learned quickly. Now we just need figure out how to get her to stop herding cars while she is in the back of my car.

She has an excellent recall for a puppy her age and learns new things much faster than Indigo does. I just signed her up for Level 1 Obedience class and she will be spending a weekend with a friend with lots of training experience and 11 dogs.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flyball in Gettysburg: It wasn't just Indigo and I this time.

Ben flew into Newark late on Thursday night with a special travel companion. After a crazy, stressful morning of scrambling to find a new dog sitter, Ben decided that the only real option was to bring Teal with him on his visit.

I originally thought that this would be a reasonable idea since he was going to bring her in June anyway for our road trip back to the West Coast. We figured he could just leave her here until then. I guess our best decisions are not made a the last minute. It is great to spend time with her, but there are various reasons why having a puppy in my apartment is not going to work very well.

We haven't made a final decision about where Teal will spend the next few months. We will see how she does this week and then figure it out.


Ben, Indigo, Teal and I drove 3 hours from Newark to Gettysburg for some out-of-region flyball. We arrived on Friday afternoon and met up with the Canine Mutiny crew to watch a Civil War movie and walk through a museum. Leashed dogs were allowed on the battlefield so a few of us took a nice long walk. Ben and a group of our flyball friends went to on a haunted ghost tour. I was way too tired.

We had just enough time to get unpacked and get to the flyball facility for single dog racing. We had a goal for Indigo to beat 3.94 seconds. We got her all amped up and she ran two 3.8's over 7" jumps! Her best was 3.86. She had her official personal best time the next day when she ran 3.90 as start dog over 10" jumps. Her team keeps getting more comfortable racing together and our passes are getting better. The team broke the club record again with a 16.70 seconds. We didn't stick around to see where we placed, but it definitley wasn't last this time!

Sue and Stingray the borderjack

Slingshot the borderjack

In addition to single dog racing, the hosting club offered a lane for practice. We bought Teal 5 minutes of practice time and she managed to focus for about 2 minutes. We were happy with that considering it was her first flyball tournament experience. Amanda gave us a mesh tug to use with her to get her attention with cheese when other dogs are around. She made some great progress overall with all her issues this weekend.

Ben had fun running Indigo when she was start dog. He also ran Selma, a black and white border collie that belongs to Kerry and Dave. I ran Amanda's dog Chase all weekend. It was one of those flyball tournaments that does not involve a lot of sitting around. With only 8 of us and two teams, we all had to be doing something! It was lots of fun and definitely worth the 6 hr drive back to Massachusetts.

I will post updates later this week about Teals training progress. In between dog training, hopefully Ben and I will have some time to tour the area before he leaves on Saturday.

Indigo was very unsure about Teal since she is not sure how to interact with other dogs. Teal has snapped at Indigo, but has also tried to play with her. Today Indigo gave in and they played like crazy. It was very sweet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Pictures of Teal

We got Teal's pedigree in the mail today so I took a couple pictures. We let her spell her name and she made a few mistakes, but still did a pretty good job. We would have just used Igniteds Passing With Flying Colors, but Flying Colors is a kennel name and it cannot appear in a dog's name anywhere. Well Teal sure showed them. Hopefully she will be a champion in the show ring one day so someone has to say her name out loud. At least Joy will have to say it when she gets her flyball awards.


Here are a few newer pics of Teal. We went out in the field again on March 14th. She had a blast, but it was rainy this time. She got wet, but we got warm in the car driving between my sites. She was much braver this time about running through the brush and you can see that she hit her right eye a little. I took another pic once we got home so no one is worried that her eye is damaged. She is back to normal now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another video of Teal

I got some needed advice about how to train Teal, and this is my attempt to put the advice to good use. Teal really likes the tug, but it appears that she likes the ball almost as much. I am going to have to work on that with her. I need her to drive harder to the tug so she jumps off the chute faster. This is only her second attempt on the chute so I am not too worried, but it is definitely something to work on. She seems to get the general idea, but the "snap" off the box needs work.


Well here they are. It took so long to upload them I lost interest in writing anything about them. First two are sheering sheep and the last one is Teal trying out the chute for the first time. If the last video makes any sense to you I would appreciate feedback about how to improve her training.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

dog sports performance & bday weekend with the parents

My birthday was on Friday and since I really don't know many people here in Massachusetts it was not very exciting. I took Indigo to her first chiropractor visit with Dr. Bud Allen. It was surprisingly short, but I did learn that she has a very tight pelvis and that she needs to gain some muscle weight in her legs. It will be important for me to make sure I deal with these issues to prevent future injury. My plan is to continue taking her to the chiropractor on a regular schedule for adjustments, feed more protein and work on strengthening. How will I work on strengthening? Ben read my mind and sent me a video called "Strengthening the Performance Dog" for my birthday. I watched half of it so far and can not wait to try some of the exercises with Indigo. I also plan to get her an exercise ball from Clean Run.

That was pretty much the highlight of my birthday. Even though I spent my birthday doing nothing, Ben did his best for me to have a good birthday by sending me some amazing gifts. The highlight was a new Canon video camera! I am so excited about this new camera. My flip video camera is nice, but very limited. Watch out for some better videos very soon!

For my birthday weekend my parents came to visit. We started out Sunday morning going out to breakfast, where I would like to report I had my first eggs benedict ever. It was served with smoked salmon, it was rich and it was good. I look forward to eating this lovely dish again. When Ben came to visit I took him to Willamstown, MA to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. At the time I did not realize that this is one of my grandmothers favorite museums. Her and my grandfather used to visit this museum when my uncle went to camp in Upstate NY.

When I suggested that we go to this museum, my mom remembered it and was excited to check it out. To get there we took a giant loop through the Berkshires. Our first stop was the Old Creamery Grocery and Deli.
Its a little old-fashioned grocery store that was packed with locals eating breakfast. It was adorable and something that is valued in New England and no where else in this country. I will miss these little markets when I leave.

We also stopped at the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail for a short walk with Indy. Our walk was cut short due to ice on the trail. The abundance of rail trails in New England will be another thing I miss when I leave.

After our walk we drove a few more miles to the museum. We thoroughly enjoyed the special exhibit, by Toulouse-Lautrec with his "vibrant and racy Parisian nightlife" lithographs. We also loved their permanent collection. I highly recommend this museum. It is worth the scenic drive to see this inspiring place. I wrote down my favorite paintings and lost the piece of paper.

On the way back we stopped at the Montague Book Mill. This place is like nothing I have ever seen before. The setting was shockingly beautiful. The GPS took us on a route that I was sure would lead no where and suddenly we end up in a parking lot overlooking a raging Sawmill river far below. It is a bookstore that took over an 1838 gristmill. Grain was brought in on the railroad to this building to be ground into flour and was a pick up point to supply local families with flour. In 1987 it was bought and transformed into a book store, and cafe. My favorite thing about this magical place was the relaxed feeling and the welcoming of dogs. Indy loved running around with the other dogs that were allowed to run free on the grounds.

For dinner later that night we went to Carmelina's in Hadley, an upscale Italian restaurant with high quality food and presentation. They have the option to order small plates, which is always very much appreciated.