Archive for July, 2012

Big Day at the Barn

amywink July 30th, 2012

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Blessing is turning out to be a gorgeous mare. She has always been very pretty, but now that she is in such excellent condition, she’s really kicked it up a notch–though perhaps “kick” is not the right term for a driving horse. We had an excellent drive on Saturday morning. I am starting her off in the round pen now, to get her warmed up, and harnessing her myself. This makes it clear to her who is in charge and she’s accepting that quite graciously, though her tail has a few things to say when my driving is a bit off. We worked on circles a bit and I need a bit of work on that but we’ll make it. She’s an exceptionally fine drive and I’m glad I’m not starting out with her as my first driving horse. I’ve developed quite a lot in my driving and I’m glad I’m a lot better now than I was when I started driving Will. I am sure he will appreciate my increased skills too whenever we get back to driving.

Lily had a big day at the barn too. She got to spend her waiting time in the dog pen instead of her crate, like a big grown up dog. She did get to spend it with Tex, though, who was Not Happy about not getting to go along! He cried more than she did. Whew.

She also got her second carriage ride, this one on the back of the carriage as we rode along on a lesson for another driver. She did spectacularly well for a young dog, as you can see from her posture here on the back step of the carriage

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She did check things out and of course didn’t hold still for the entire ride.img_5629.jpg, especially when her buddy, Tex hopped on board: img_5634.jpg

And after it was all over, she had a little chat with Blessing, who leaned out of her stall to check Lily out.

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Glad I had the camera ready. :)

Routine Maintenance

amywink July 27th, 2012

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I’m a person who enjoys a routine and for many years now, my morning routine has been wake early, drink coffee, write emails. It’s a nice slow morning ritual, a delicious rut.

Lily finds it boring.

BOH-RING.

In fact, she has found several of my routines very dull indeed. She has settled nicely into the Major Routines and understands when I am heading to work–it didn’t take her very long to recognize the “dress shoes” and “work clothes”–and she settles into her crate nicely when I am leaving for a regular class schedule. She enjoys the Saturdays at the Barn with gusto and any trip in the car.

But she really thinks I should Definitely Not sit down at the computer immediately on arriving home from work! Or when I wake up in the morning. She protests quite assertively and she has challenged me to change my routine. . . with vocal commentary and determined feet, which she can place on my lap *or* desk!!

I had tried to explain that this is what I do in the mornings but she is having none of it and has demanded some excitement. So this morning, we ventured outside instead. I took my coffee–which I am not giving up for her!!–and set up her swimming pool (her 14th week birthday pool!) and let her go to town.

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She tackled her new toy, the empty cat litter jug, with gusto as well.
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And thus my morning routine has shifted. Lily first, email later. So far, so good. After her wild hour of play, she’s resting comfortably under my desk as I write, perfectly happy to take her other work as Writing Dog *after* her work as “Fun Dog” is over.

She’s doing a great job of both.

Lily, Sit! Lily, Down!

One Month

amywink July 14th, 2012

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This Saturday is the one month anniversary of Lily’s arrival in my life and she has really changed it. She’s quite the character, full of happiness and humor. She’s learning very swiftly and this week, we had great success with “come” and “down”. The key seems to be organic turkey hotdogs. Now she checks back *just* to see if I wanted her to come back…you know, just in case…just to be attentive…..in case there’s a bit of hotdog to be had. She has a very enthusiastic “down”, dramatically flopping her front legs down on command. Adorable.

I found myself reading Gun Dog magazine online this week for the excellent articles on training spaniels. They also have very good information about Welsh Springers. Since I am working on her retrieve, the articles were very helpful. While I don’t really plan to have a “gun dog” per say, the articles were very helpful in their approach.

I’ve also been glad of my little “It’s Me or The Dog” addiction because I’ve learned quite a lot about getting what I want out of Lily without any arguments. I’m beginning to wonder if Puppy Kindergarten might be pointless by the time we get there. We’ll see. I’ve been cautioned against going too soon to avoid exposure to diseases. I’m fine with that because a sick puppy is just not an experience I need right now! Instead, we are working at home in the yard and inside and getting quite a few things accomplished. And having a good time doing it. She weighed in a 17 lbs this week at the vet’s, where she is very very very popular and where she works her wiggly magic on everyone.

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This week, I did have a driving lesson with Blessing and my coach this time was Francine. She’s whipping me back into shape again and getting me ready for driving Blessing on my own. I got to harness her this week and start out with her. We did pretty well and eventually got our straight lines really well. I could tell because the dew revealed my delightfully wavy tracks as we went around the arena. She seems very mature all of a sudden, though she is approaching her 5th birthday (October) and she has been in training a long time. I’m extremely pleased with her and continue to enjoy developing our relationship. I’m going to take a break from the riding lessons for a while to refocus on my driving. It’s a good time since the heat is getting bad and getting a drive in seems more important than getting a ride in at this point.

I am working to create some kind of reasonable schedule for everything but July seems to be a month that just is not going to let that happen. I will have to just let things work out and hope some reasonable pattern emerges.

Get It!

amywink July 10th, 2012

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While I wait for Lily to be safely vaccinated for more public appearances, I am working (playing) with her in the yard and teaching her to retrieve sticks, balls, and rope toys. She’s a very speedy learner and so far, she is pretty consistent in racing out to “get it” and getting better with “bring it”. But she also really enjoys a good tear around the yard and dropping the toy for something far more interesting….like the trail of some night-walking critter who wanders through our yard. She air scents and ground tracks as well and her actions make me consider scenting work with her.

This morning, after our torrential rains last night, we headed out to the yard and played in the wet grass until she was ready to come in and rest for a while. While these photos are out of focus, they do give a sense of her spirited retrieves–and make me think about new cameras. . .

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I haven’t yet caught her front head roll flip on camera but she tumbles end over head when she ducks to get her toy.

We are also working hard on Not Biting and managing Puppy Crazy Hour. I had been letting her race around the yard wildly but this didn’t seem to be actually doing much for the crazies except to accelerate them so I’ve taken to another accepted practice of “Time Out” when she gets too nutty. So far, this has worked extremely well and she only needs a 2 minutes time out to come back to herself from her Ms. Hyde personality. Turning my back on her when she becomes overly excited is also working very well. Eventually, I suspect that “Time Out” will be a command she knows very well and will call her to order without much else.

So far, I have focused on play training and she’s getting quite into the game. I tried organic turkey hotdogs this week but the treat made her so attentive she wouldn’t leave to be called back!! I will keep working with that and see what I can accomplish with the correct treat.

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