March 29, 2011


I finally got around to making a YouTube account to share some of our exercises and training experiences. If you want to check out what we have so far, the like to our channel is
We have a video explaining 52 rally signs, a video on training a handstand and a video with some slow motion agility jumping and beginning weaving.
I'm hoping to add videos pretty regularly and will probably post about some related topic with a link here when I do.
Hope you enjoy the videos! :)

March 27, 2011

Hard work pays off

Mya's always loved to pick things up and carry them around so you can't get them. Many times have we had to corner her to get muffin wrappers, shoes, toys and other non-dog items from her mouth. The retrival of the item was also combined with a "drop it now!!!" from the retriever. So, inadvertantly we taught Mya to spit out items in her mouth not when we say "drop it," but when we say "now."
Even so, "now" only worked when she had a low value object and I had a higher value one. This was a problem when she caught shrews, voles, and snakes and grabbed human items she shouldn't have since "leave it" only works on objects not yet in her grasp. Thus began our training of dropping toys and other objects that she grabbed - just for the attention - on the cue "now."
Whenever she actually spit something out of her mouth on cue I acted as though I'd won a million bucks at that moment. We partied and played with toys and she ate treats. Gradually she got better and better, but I still wondered how good the cue really was.
A big test came tonight when we were doing some agility in our backyard. I was taking a break to read over some notes and Mya went off to romp. She ended up finding a half-eaten vole from last year that had recently emerged from under the melting snow and was tossing it around and playing with it. I assumed she had a stick at first and went over her direction but soon realized it was a dead something. I decided to try and test our cue since she had been working on it with tennis balls moments before and low-and-behold the word "now" spoken in a normal voice caused her to spit it out like it was a piece of junk and walk away.
Luckily I had some chicken pieces on me and I grabbed her and gave her some and praised like the dickens. Then I quickly grabbed the vole before she could again and went and tossed it in the woods.
It just goes to show you that hard work in training really pays off, no matter if it seems like you'll never get there at the level you're currently working at. I'm really hoping it wasn't a fluke, but this is the second time she's spit out something I could have never dreamed of her willingly giving up before. I'm so happy we've made it to this milestone and I'm looking forward to the many more in our future.
We may not be OTCH or MACH yet (or ever!) but at the end of the day, what really matters is what you've acomplished as a team with your dog, setting your own goals however big (like competing at high levels) or small (like your dog choosing to look at you instead of the tree).
I have the best dog in the world and I'm glad to share this journey with her, whatever goals we actually meet and dreams for which we just hope. :)

March 15, 2011

Adopt the Internet!

Today is Adopt the Internet day, a day started by Petfinder to spread awareness about adopting pets! Go to for more info. Please check out your local shelter for adoptable pets just waiting for you!

I haven't had the privilege to adopt a pet, but have fostered over 50 cats and kittens in the past 2 years. It is SO rewarding to be searching and searching for a home for your foster pet and then to find them and see them become a part of the family. I encourage anyone who has the ability to foster to do so - it really makes a difference for the animal.
And don't forget to adopt - the animals in foster care need a place to go to! All of us foster parents love you for choosing to give pets in shelters, rescues and foster a chance at a normal life.