Friday, August 31, 2007


Of regularly occuring, dependable nature.

Today I want to talk about consistency. However, first I must give credit where credit is due. The photo of the day is from my friend Rob Michaski. He is an amazing photographer/dog trainer/english professor that I've gotten to know over the past 5 years. Just getting back from Australia, he shared some of his pictures with me. They are LOVELY. This one is an example of what he was able to capture on his trip. The timing is perfect a few minutes either side and the clouds would have changed the whole dynamic of the image. Rob's timing seems to be impecable in many areas of his life. He truly is a mentor for consistency.

This photograph makes we want to be there. It draws me in creating a sense of warmth and beauty. Our lives should be more like this photo. What we do should make us feel good and want to do more of it.
Procrastination is the enemy of consistency. I find myself procrastinating even when I want to do something. Consistency is hard, procrastination is easy. It is easy to do nothing for no reason. It is difficult to do something for some reason - until of course you do it, then you say, "Well that wasn't so hard, looking back I don't know why I didn't do it before."

I look around me and I see people who are better at being consistent in their lives than me. I see people who struggle with consistency on a daily basis. I spend alot of time myself struggling with consistency. I think my goal for this week is to be more like how that photograph makes me feel. Calm, cool, warm, inspired.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Fashion. There are these tall, thin individuals who walk around wearing expensive clothing with beautiful hair dos and makeup. Then there is me
Fashion. Amazingly groomed shelties with hairspray and white powdered coats that strut their stuff for the judges and are all about looks and gait. Then there is Fin.
Fashion faux pas. Me and Fin, we are just your average joes. Heck we probably clean up pretty good if we try, but we'd rather play in mud puddles than strut our stuff on the cat walk. As a matter of fact, take 5 people (one of them me) and have them pull weeds in the back yard for 10 minutes and the result will be 4 clean individuals with maybe a little crumb of dirt on their pants and me, covered in mud, dirt, and some slime that I slipped in. I just can't help myself, and my little girl seems to be just like me.
So the question arises. Why is it important for me to glue Fins ears? She is not a glamour girl and will not do conformation. I am amazed by the individuals who have told me that I "must" glue her ears for a "proper" sheltie ear set. These people have no appreciation for "Bat Girl!" Even my husband was like, "you've got to do something with those ears!" What's wrong with letting them do what they want.
I was inclined to glue her ears when I got her. I was very good about it. But the last time the glue wore out, she was so cute with her little bat ears that I just couldn't do it.
There are those that will critize me for my lack of conformity. The truth is, I think she is adorable just the way she is and have decided to go all natural! This doesn't mean that she will not learn proper grooming habits. She will learn to properly stand still so I can brush her and trim her nails.
BTW. between you and me, every day her ears are looking more and more "perfect." Despite my lack of attention, she is turning out pretty good :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Broken Toes and a Virus

This has been a tough week. I'm on week 2 of my broken toe. I'm in the, "I'm grumpy" stage. Then I come down with an intestinal virus on Saturday in LA, in a motel six, with my friend Laura. That really sucks. It could have been worse I suppose, but holed up in a motel six with 4 dogs and your best friend is not the most fun ever.
Despite that, I'm doing ok. I ended up sending her to the dog show on Sunday and she came and got me before the last run of the day. That gave me 4 hours in the air conditioning letting my two dogs have WWWF on the hotel floor. They had fun and I watched what not to wear so now I know how to dress.
It was a LONG drive home, but home we are.
Today I'm focusing on getting HP work completed and taking breaks for training time. Working on more solid play and getting stronger responses to my cues. She is fun to work and just full of so much joy it is enjoyable just to hang out with her. She really has a great personality and hopefully will mature keeping this good nature.
This weekend is SMART and I'm going to try to run Tazz in Standard. I will probably still ask Laura to run him in a couple other things, but I'm determined to start to run him again.
No words of wisdom or funny lines today. Just need to focus on work.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Garbage Day

Garbage day is every Thurs morning. Wed evening we have to cart all the various objects de garbage' up the driveway and put it in the street for pick up.

I hate garbage day. You'd think I'd love garbage day. You take all the stuff (some of it pretty smelly) up to your driveway and some nice truck comes and takes it all away. If they didn't take it away, I would soon be up to my armpits in unwanted refuse that I would have to find a place for. The truck is a blessing. I still hate garbage day.

I somehow feel that this is not my job and I resent doing it. Interestingly, with Kel in Phoenix, I ask my rational self, "Who's job is it?"

Maddie doesn't want to do it, she hates the trucks that come and would prefer the garbage to stay at home where it belongs.

Tazz would gladly take the garbage out, but he would spend alot of time sorting it (I might have thrown out something good), and not much would make it to the top of the driveway (in a bag anyway).

Rocky helps all he can by picking up all the old apricots off the ground and eating them (the result is more garbage for me to poop scoop, but I don't tell him that, I like him thinking he is helping).

Then there is Fin. She would be willing to help I suppose, but only weighing 7 pounds, I'm not sure she can handle the large amounts of trash we accumulate.

That leaves me. So last night I sat with my broken toe in the air considering the trash. I could have organized it and taken it out last night, but noooooo. I waited till 4:50 this morning organized everything and to the chorus of barking dragged the trash up the driveway.

You'd think it would end there. But now the fun begins for Maddie. The trucks come, she barks, and they leave. I've tried to explain to her that they will leave with or without her barking, but she will have none of it. I crate her, I put the citronella collar on her, I give her a big juicy bone to chew, I've held her in my arms. NOTHING, and I mean nothing stops her from barking at the trucks. I have to plan my business conference calls around the trucks coming. I ask myself, what kind of dog trainer allows this behavior. The answer is quite simple. It is easier to have her bark for 5 minutes than to stop her, so she keeps barking every Thursday.

There are alot of lessons to be learned from garbage day. I'm a little busy trying to stop Maddie from barking to understand everything I have to learn, but I'm sure it will come in time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fin training Aug 15

To day I have a few goals I'm working on:

-quite time in the crate can be fun

-walking along my side is very rewarding (as opposed to darting through my legs at 50 miles per hour)

-back up

-pivot board






-restrained recalls

I'm starting to add verbals to the down cue and getting it 100% of the time if my hand is also cueing, I'm trying to fade the hand cue and go to just verbal.

Tomorrow I'll sum up how our day goes.

Wed August 15 - Invoice Day!

This blog is going to be about training dogs. It is my experience with training. In it I will discuss what I do on a daily basis and try to measure my progress toward my goals - keeping in mind of course that often times, my goals and my dogs goals are quite different.

Soo...what the heck is training anyway. Wikipedia says: Obedience Training usually refers to the training of a dog and the term is most commonly used in that context. Obedience training ranges from very basic training, such as teaching the dog to reliably respond to basic commands such as "sit", "down", "come", and "stay", to high level competition such as agility, competitive obedience, or herding.

I don't find that enlightening. I'm not really an expert in dog training. My dogs however, are masters of human training. My blog is going to be about my adventures in trying to learn from my dogs on how to effectively illicit intended responses . I feel what this means is that my goals for their behavior is going to blend with their goals of getting resources.

I'll begin today by introducing the characters you will meet during the time I maintain the blog. I have four dogs:

Rocky: The Rock of our little band. He is protective of our home and of us. Definitely can depend on Rocky in a dark alley. We nicknamed him Eeyore. He is the grumpy guy in our house. Definitely a pessimist, his favorite thing in the world is fresh apricots off our tree second only to a specific squeaky ball we call "puppy crack," and of course, we can not forget his love of splashing water.

Maddie: The Sweetness in our pack. Maddie is my most accomplished trainer. She could teach courses on manipulation. If Rocky has something Maddie wants, she will pick up something that she doesn't want and start to play with it. She will toss it in the air, pounce on it, getting closer and closer to Rocky. She will increase her intensity and just when Rocky can't stand it any longer, she will toss the toy in the air close enough that Rocky will drop what he has and pounce on it. Maddie calmly walks over and gets whatever Rocky had (what she wanted in the first place) and leaves Rocky standing there with a toy in his mouth nobody wanted anyway. This works EVERYTIME. There is definately something to learn from this.

Tazz: My Shadow. My blue eyed brown eyed nutball. Tazz has a busy mind. He is always wondering what other dogs/humans are doing and forgets to focus on me. He is also a very good trainer. He has trained me to feed him, to give up when he acts like an idiot, and to reduce my training criteria when I shouldn't. But Tazz has taught me a great deal more than the negative. He has taught me that ego has nothing whatsoever to do with dog training. It is best to leave it at home in a box and not bring it with out when working your dogs. He has taught me that patience is the most important criteria of training.

Fin: The baby. Why oh why you ask did you get a fourth dog? Hmm. I think that is like asking "why'd you eat all of that?" I couldn't help myself. Fin is now 12 weeks old and is definately the baby. She is a spitfire of energy and is showing signs of the kind of trainer Maddie is.

You will find alot of Fin in this blog as much of the "training" that will be undertaken by me in the next couple years will be focused on Fins development. Rocks Maddie and of course Tazz will also be featured as I'm always trying to teach new things to all my dogs.

During the next few years, I'm hoping to share humor, drama, and perhaps a few words of wisdom along the way.

That's it for Aug 15 2007. Vici