Saturday, January 23, 2010

A training breakthrough!

Not MirĂ³’s breakthrough but mine. It’s an ongoing struggle to keep his attention when we see another dog or some crows on the ground or a squ****l when we’re on a walk. Instead of “no pull” or even the “look” command, I say, “Touch.” He has to turn his attention from the object of interest to touch his nose to the palm of my left hand which is down by my side. I laugh and he gets a treat.

We learned “touch” in beginning obedience as a way to start teaching a dog to heel off leash. You can also put your hand against the wall or door knob (like I’d want to teach him to open a door). The problem is that I never learned what comes next. For instance, what if I want him to put a nice, snoolly nose print on the window instead of my hand, how do I teach that?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The body count of Mr. Destructo

This pink elephant survived four or five years of Darwin and Keeper with only one set of sutures (use unflavored dental floss, very sturdy). Miro tore it open and extracted the grunter, which I took from him before he could eat the plastic. Then he set to work on the innards.
This penguin, still looking cute despite foot laceration,

is no longer a pretty sight.
Partial body count.

The artist loves his work.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not as smart as fifth graders

In daily walks around the neighborhood, I've been impressed by the doggie-knowledge of some of the children who've stopped to talk. Anywhere we go, most children ask if they can pet the dog--or their mothers make them ask--before approaching. Twice I've encountered boys who have clearly done some training, as they knew how to gesture and command "sit" and "down," even as Miro tried to leap forward to greet them. One even put his hands down and turned away until Miro calmed, just as we're told in obedience class.

The adults are another story. I live near two parks, both of which have signs saying that dogs must be kept on leash. In both parks, people let their dogs off leash. Last week Miro and I were crossing the schoolyard attached to one park when a young pit bull came charging at us from the opposite side of the field. I had seen him running loose but the owner had leashed him as we entered the grounds. The pit bull was trailing a flexi-lead and I put my foot on the lead while extending the hand holding Miro's leash as far as possiblle from the other dog. So there I was trying to make my arms and legs as long as possible between two dancing dogs, the pit bull wrapping the flimsy flexi-lead around my leg and his owner toddling along toward us, calling her dog who was completely ignoring her. Wouldn't you be in a flat-out run if that were your dog? Did I mention that we were not far from a street?

When she finally got to us and I was trying to unwind myself, I said that a flexi-lead is not a secure leash. She said, "I know. It broke in just a couple of weeks. I'm going to take it back and get a new one." It says right on the packaging for those leashes that they're not meant for strong dogs who pull. Stupid! It that had been a hostile dog, I might not be here writing about it.

Yesterday in the other park, we encountered a hostile human on a trail. Since it was a sunny day, there were lots of people in the park and on the trails. Ahead of us was a large woman not paying much attention to her blue heeler mix that was some distance behind her. I put Miro in a sit when the dog turned around and came toward us and I called, "Will you please control your dog?" Like the other dog (and all the off-leash dogs I've encountered) this one ignored his owner when she called him. As she approached, I said, "This isn't an off-leash area." 

She yelled at me, "Well, if you're going to have that kind of attitude, I'm not going to work with you at all."

I said, "I'm not asking you to work with me; I'm asking you to obey the rules."

She yelled, "F--- you, bitch!" and a few other choice words before turning and marching away, ignoring her dog who was ignoring her.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fashion week for chickens

Whenever I contemplate re-learning to knit, I wonder what I would do with the products of my busy hands. Nobody needs more knitted scarves. My sweaters would be full of irregular lumps and gaping holes, since I have no reason to believe my knitting skills will have improved since childhood. Now, however, there is someone who would wear what I knitted and never complain about its appearance.
Naked chickens need sweaters.

As the chickens walk around the yard in their new sweaters, they utter bewildered-sounding whines. This is normal and it's one of the things I like about chickens. I am often bewildered, too.

Here are more photos and a pattern.  Now, what's the cuteness rating?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I took last year's doggie holiday cards off the refrigerator before putting up this year's but stopped for a minute to contemplate what a mostly blank refrigerator looks like. The previous owners must have thought this variety of refrigerator very elegant but I find it useless. Magnets won't adhere to the surface; instead, every spot of water or snool shows. It will look much better when I get those cards back up.

Because of postage being up and the economy down, these past few years haven't brought as many members in the card exchange as there used to be. I'm happy to have enough cards to cover some of that boring blank refrigerator just down far enough to keep them out of easy reach of Bignosepokes. As long as I don't splatter spaghetti sauce on the cards, they should remain safe from Miro.
This is just to add a photo of something prettier than a blank refrigerator. I bought a new pet plant yesterday to replace the cyclamen that died. Usually my indoor plants grow to the size of small cars because I can't bring myself to prune them. At least an African violet will stay small.