Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teaching "leave it" and other talents

Today in one of my housekeeping fits, I began scrubbing at one of many old spots on the carpet with a damp rag. Miro dashed over to help by grabbing the rag. I said in my stern voice, "Leave it!" and because he did, I then said, "Good boy," being careful to keep my enthusiasm dampened down despite my desire to clap, jump and generally carry on. As I leaned again to scrub, he darted in and glopped me in the eye with his big, wet nose in his own version of "dampened down" response. We both jumped back, he grinning and me going, "yugg."

When training some dogs, you need to hype them up, getting all happy and enthusiastic. With Miro and most other Airedales, you need to do the opposite, keeping all praise unnaturally low-key so that the dog doesn't forget what he's doing in the leaping joy of the moment. Airedales have lots of leaping joy, or just leaping.

I've written about Miro's ability to stick his nose in the water bowl and blow bubbles. He can also talk with food in his mouth. When he eats, he flops down on the floor, front legs on either side of the bowl. He barks at intervals without pausing in his eating. A slightly less advantageous talent is his ability to pee on the backs of his front feet. I hope he soon learns to lift his leg and aim like a big boy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rude people and badly behaved dogs

With my son's help, I've taken Miro to the nearest Sunday farmer's market a couple of times to get him used to being around crowds and other dogs. He won't pass a Canine Good Citizen test until he can learn to walk calmly (maybe in 10 yrs) past other people and dogs, so we need lots of practice. My son hangs onto Miro while I buy fruit and vegetables, then I walk Miro around and reward him with bits of chicken when he (Miro, not my son) behaves.

Today we'd just arrived and were walking from the car to the market when a couple with a sheltie on a flexi-lead came walking straight toward us. Normally people with another dog move to one side or another but they didn't. Their dog pulled to the end of its lead and barked. We stopped, not knowing which way they were going. The sheltie charged up to Miro and would have gotten right in his face if I hadn't stepped between the two dogs while Marty held a jumping Miro back. The woman holding the sheltie's leash made no effort to pull her dog back while she and her companion came up to us and started walking by.

I said, "Would you please move your dog away from mine?" instead of the "Control your dog!" that I actually wanted to say.

She laughed and said, "You're in public."

I thought she said I was impertinent, though I realized people don't talk that way any more. I said, "I'm trying to train my dog."

Walking away, she said, "Well, you're still in public." As if being in a public place gives her the right to let her dog go where it wants and be aggressive to another dog.

I was both angry and puzzled that she would think it was OK to let her dog charge at mine when I was clearly trying to prevent that from happening. For the sake of politeness alone, wouldn't you haul your dog back if someone asked you to?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ice fishing

Lots of people put ice cubes in their dog's water dish to keep the water cool in summer. I took some ice from the automatic dispenser, conveniently dropping a couple of cubes on the floor as usual. Miro darted after them like a shark while Alanis sat looking at me as if to say, "Where's my treat, please?" I pointed to an ice cube. She looked at it, looked at me with the same hurt, puzzled expression. She's too polite to look disdainful.

Meanwhile, Miro crunched the ice with his brand new grown-up teeth while I put the other pieces in the water. Normally he plays with ice, then leaves most of it for me to mop up. Not today. Today he decided he had to have all the ice, including the partly melted bits in the water dish.

First he tried getting the ice by lapping. Didn't work. Then he plunged his nose straight in, blowing bubbles and grabbing a piece of ice at the same time. He emerged triumphant with water running out his mouth and dripping off his beard across the floor as he carried a piece of ice away to eat it. Then he went back for the second and the third.

By the time I stopped laughing and got the camera, he was about done. Giggling while you're trying to take a photo doesn't work too well, but I thought I'd post the least bad ones (which shows you how bad the rest were--as in black and tan blur). Then I mopped up the lake that had spread across the floor.
The wet-beard look.
Resting after a job well done.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stripping knives

Hi Karen and Bentley! On the left are my two old knives with the new one on the right. It's not one of the premium brands; I think several companies make the same type of knife. This one says CP Classic and I ordered it from Cherrybrook. Other grooming suppliers probably carry the same one.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Super simple stripping

We pet owners are always searching for grooming tips for our Airedales. Few of us have the time or stamina to keep our dogs hand-stripped. I've always used a combination, stripping out the undercoat before clipping, in an effort to preserve the rough texture and black and tan color. An Airedale without a dark undercoat can end up looking more grey and blond after years of clipping. A friend put me on to this extra-easy stripping knife:

It's the easiest one I've used for undercoat because it works like a comb. You don't need to tire out your wrist and thumb with this one, though you still need to hold the skin taut with one hand while wielding the knife with the other. Hold the knife at an angle so that the teeth are not perpendicular to the dog's skin and comb through with short strokes. As with all stripping knives, dull the tips of the teeth by filing the knife across a rock or concrete before you use it on the dog for the first time.

Fuzzy undercoat. This gets dirt and dander out, too.

If you are a lifelong amateur like me, your method isn't always elegant. The point, however, is not to do this like a pro but to keep your Airedale looking totally cute and/or gorgeous.

And happy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chickens love nectarines

One over-ripe nectarine, six chickens. One puppy trying to get in.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arming up for July 4

I hate July 4th and New Year's Eve because my neighborhood sounds like a war zone during those holidays. It's hard enough for me to endure the explosions but it's torture for a dog who is afraid of loud noise. Having been introduced to noise from an early age, Miro should be OK. Alanis is another matter; even the occasional distant booms of the past few days have sent her running indoors from outside or searching for me if she's inside.

As much as I'd like to hunt down and do violence to the people making the noise, the law forbids. Instead, I'm getting the dogs ready, laying down a stock of Melatonin and Acepromazine for Alanis and conditioning the dogs as best I can with bubblewrap practice.

This training exercise requires sheets of the large-size bubblewrap, high caliber treats like chicken or stinky liver, and the ability to hop around like a fool while chanting, "Oh boy good doggies," and such. A little bit of dexterity is needed, as you crumple the bubblewrap in both hands so that it goes pop-pop-pop like firecrackers, hop around, praise the dogs, and hand out treats at relatively the same time. We have been doing this nightly. Miro thinks all excitement is good; even Alanis is working up some enthusiasm. Whether or not bubblewrap explosions will help inure her to real fireworks remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, a spur-of-the-moment view of Biteyface: