Archive for the 'carriage dogs' Category

Introvert Person, Extrovert Dog

amywink March 24th, 2013

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Lily made her debut as a true “Austin” dog this weekend with our adventurous trip out to The Mighty Texas Dog Walk. She loved it. Her whole body said “This is absolutely fabulous!” as we approached the venue at Auditorium Shores on Lady Bird Lake.img_3873.jpg She did so well with the crowds of people and was ecstatic at the dogs. Clearly she had no idea such a festival FOR dogs would be possible and it Made Her Day. Now, it is relatively easy to make her day and she often has The Best Day Ever with a relatively small outing or an encounter with a child or a nice walk around the neighborhood. But this event made her extremely happy. She spent most of her time on the actual walk sniffing the ground, which was Much More Interesting that her usual ground.

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Or she was looking at me with this goofy-oh-so-happy-dog face:

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It was a great crowd but I don’t think we broke the record (set at The Great North Dog Walk in the UK). We did have a really good time.

It’s not usually the kind of event that I really go in for, preferring smaller groups of people, but it was completely Lily’s kind of experience. One dog selection book even recommended that introverted people might prefer to find an extroverted dog who might create an acceptable path to more extroverted experiences–though that assumes that one finds being introverted a kind of problem that one might want to overcome (Thanks, I’m actually fine with it). But having a dog that can go places is a treat–having had a dog who Could Not.

While Lily enjoyed the large exciting event, she is also quite happy doing quite things as well and doesn’t always need constant stimulation of a large crowd–and we took some “quiet” breaks for nice lake-side photo sessions.

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Since I have worked with her to make her an acceptable public dog, she’s actually quite a good extrovert dog–able to manage most of her impulses for attention until they are welcome, and thus being easily rewarded for her politeness.

The last time we visited a similar event, a dog agility event, she completely lost her sense of decorum and started to leap on every person she encountered–as if saying “Dog people! Dog people!!” This time, she her feet stayed mainly on the floor except when she was was greeting her dog-peeps from Dog School. By the end of the day, though, she was putting her paws on me and looking at my face with unrestrained happiness, as if to say “This was the Greatest Day. Thank You So MUCH!”

Of course, I was completely happy to have provided her with the day.

Ears of Joy

amywink March 9th, 2013

Practicing with my new camera has lead me to an new appreciation of Lily’s ears. As I worked on learning the settings, figuring out the correct focal length, etc, I captured many amazing shots that capture her sense of joy and excitement. Often she reminds me very much of dancing Snoopy.

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Photography also has been a good tool for dog training. This week, when Lily was Wild in Play, I got out the High Value Treats and did some sit/down training….also known as “posing”
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Of course, when I asked her to get into the flowers, she was reluctant. . . unlike when she is getting into the flowers of her own volition.
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Full disclosure, in this photo above, the adoring look is because I had a piece of pork roast in my hand. But still, lovely pose. Good dog!

We have also registered for The Mighty Texas Dog Walk and we will be practicing for that for the next 3 weeks. I suspect Lily will be ecstatic with the experience and I am happy to get her involved in some “Austin Dog” events.

Carriage Dogs and Straighter Lines

amywink February 18th, 2013

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Lily is making swift progress in her work as my carriage dog and this weekend, we had a good drive together again while I worked on straight lines with Blessing. She has decided that lying across or under my feet is really most comfortable and she is now sleeping during most of the drive with little issue.

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She is now waiting quietly tethered to the carriage while I harness (not while I hook–we are safe). Look how nicely she waits here!

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For a 10 month old dog, she’s doing miraculously well with all of her training and duties.

Her reward (aside from being with me, which is her Life’s Dream) is a happy romp with Cookie, who now is very eager for our visits.
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Lily’s improved carriage ethic has made working on driving more possible and this Sunday I was very pleased with our work on straight lines. Though I could see my tracks in the dry soil of the arena, I couldn’t tell how well we’d done until I looked at my GPS tracks. Granted, the GPS unit is not on Blessing’s bridle but the carriage went straight! and these lines are greatly improved from our last attempt at straight lines

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I can tell that we have a little terrain issue on some of our lines because we keep having a wobble at the same place…a place where there’s a noticeable dip in the terrain. We’ll work on that as well but so far, I ‘m quite pleased with this progress. We only have a short drive, just 30 minutes, but even short workouts can be productive. I also worked on myself more, fixing my eyes on a focus point at the end of my line and keeping my hands quiet when Blessing moved correctly into line. I am still working on my hands and keeping the light contact that works for her.

Straight Lines

amywink February 9th, 2013

With Blessing home, I have been facing the new challenge of driving two horses. Will is shocked SHOCKED that Blessing now drives and when I harness her, he looks sadly on, one ear turns sideways, head handing sadly over the gate. When I drive Will, Blessing mopes at the fence and looks on with the same bewilderment. People may think horses don’t have very expressive faces but they are NOT looking at mine. The guilt is tremendous. And then there’s Lily, who feels SURE that I am going to forget that she’s supposed to be inches from my feet at ALL TIMES.

They are all learning to share but it is a hard for everyone.

And of course, driving two different horses been a learning experience in itself. The one time I was able to drive both on the same day, I chose Blessing first because she is so light and I didn’t want to be overtired when I drove her. Will is not “heavy” but he does require more contact than Blessing. Because he is older, he also moves differently–though I also think he’s hollowing his back at the trot and we need to strengthen his back with some canter work–and Blessing is more…flexible, as in we are really having a time making a straight line!!

So straight lines have been my task for the month, particularly with Blessing. We are working on starting straight from a halt as well as a long straight line on the diagonal as well as any straight line we attempt! As you can see from our GPS tracks here, we have a ways to go:

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After this showing, I took a lesson at Francine’s with the gorgeous Joyante (BB) and managed to do a wee bit better:
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But then I tried the next week with Will and we wobbled wildly….screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102347-am.jpg
before we manage to get our act together to make a few respectable straight lines. screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102355-am.jpg screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102427-am.jpgscreen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102451-am.jpg

And then there’s this very nice straight line across the bottom of the arena on a short diagonal–as I was making room for Lisa ground-driving her mare Windy.

I will admit to some interference with Will since I also had Lily in the carriage and she was often a little more helpful than she ought to have been during our drive. Still, she is coming along very well in her carriage training for a 10 month old puppy:
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I’m rethinking the type of carriage I want to purchase since I have been driving with Lily. She’s as long as she will be but as you can see from this photo, she’s almost longer than the footbed of the carriage. Though I have added a corrugated plastic “fender” to keep her in the carriage, I think I will be looking for a carriage with a more “basket” design, something like a used Glinkowski Pony Sport. I have begun to dither quite a bit about that so I hope I will be able to find something that works for Lily as well as the horses and my pocketbook. But for now, we’ll carry on and keep working on straight lines and keeping everyone worked and happy.

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Progress: Lily and Cookie

amywink February 6th, 2013

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After a couple of carefully orchestrated play dates, Lily and Cookie have developed a good relationship, though we still have issues regarding who’s Special Person I really am. Generally, all seems peaceful as long as we can run and run and run.

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