The RoxyLog June 2003 (days 1-24)

Roxy training diary days 23-24
Mon Jun 30 to Tue Jul 1 2003

Not much happened, training-wise, on Monday. Catching up after taking time off for Dad's visit and getting ready for this new job really occupied much of my time. We are continuing to work on the house training front. Basically, she can do it if I keep an eye on her. She's very, very good about defecating in the house – we've had maybe two or three such accidents, all attributable to my inattention – and she still is likely to urinate here and there but we are restricting her water in the evenings which keeps us from being awakened in the middle of the night.

The other night, I forget which one, she was whimpering in a dream, but it woke me up and I took her out at 3 am. She just looked at me like,"WHAT?!?!?" and then finally squatted and peed.

Her official AKC paperwork came in the mail Tuesday. So now she is, once and forevermore, Hit N Heel No Red Light.

Have I mentioned to everyone what a beautiful attitude she has? I just love training her. She is a party.

Tuesday is class night, so Roxy came along to be a demo dog. She surprised me by doing a credible stay for a few seconds. I haven't taught it to her; she just knows it somehow. We've been working on "wait" as we get in and out the door. She was also a demo for nail grinding. Then pre-agility class, and we got to work the equipment at lower height. She did the AKC regulation A-frame (5'6") and a slightly lowered dog walk (about 3 feet off the ground), all on lead. She's seemingly forgotten the tunnel but we can work on that. Tonight was the first exposure to weaves; we did the walk-through on the offset weave poles. Did I mention she's fun to train?

I've always been nervous in the show ring. But this dog – she knows what to do. Now I know what my friends must feel like when they go into the ring with their dogs, knowing they can do it, rather than wondering what is going to go wrong. There's a different kind of bond there. It's nice.

Rosemary sent me a lunchtime email about another breakthrough:

Poor Roxy, she was taken away from her family and dumped in among the biggest group of canine grouches ever!

When I was home at lunch and noticed that Annie went out to the middle of the yard and started rolling around. Roxy went out to investigate and Annie let her touch and sniff and roll with her. They did a fair amount of actual smile-on-face playing! Annie was genuinely having fun and then she remembered her position and did a bit of muzzle grabbing to remind Roxy that this was an aberration. Sure.

Roxy training diary days 20-22
Fri Jun 27 to Sun Jun 29 2003

Even though this spans three days, not too much to report, since most of those three days were spent doing this-and-that with our houseguest – my dad. The best part was, Roxy now has another admirer and she had lots of time for attention and play. Three people in the house means 50% more playtime!

Her height is now 14½ inches and her weight is now 21 pounds. That's one inch and six pounds more than when she came here three weeks ago.

We continue to work on the clicker training. She is really tuned in to the clicker, and so it's easy to teach stuff. Everything goes through the cycles of:

  1. Confusion
  2. Oh! I see what to do!
  3. Are you sure that's what you want?
  4. How about this?
  5. I can't figure this out.
  6. Oh, I see now.

With all that, she's pretty solid on the sit and she can do the down with a finger point (I'm working on fading that, but the vocal alone is not doing the job). We need to work more on come and maybe start mixing in some other behaviors to train with the clicker as well. I might start doing touch stick and touch pad work just to mix things up a bit.

Saturday night, we watched the Miss Mississippi pageant together and Roxy became fascinated by the opera singers during the talent portion. Her ears pricked, her head twisted, and she stared intently at the TV whenever the singer hit a high note. It was so cute we took pictures (thanks, Rosemary!) but they don't do it justice. In our house, two dogs could care less about the TV (Kodiak, Annie); one is waaaay too excited by the TV (Dylan); and it's too early to tell what Roxy will do.

Kiri, the stray I adopted who died before I got Annie, was a big TV watcher but she only went for sports, mainly baseball. Dylan watches anything, and attacks the TV if a dog (or most any other animal) appears. Roxy is our first opera-loving dog. Her favorite did not win. The good news is, we get a second runner-up as a medical student this year, so if you're out there Misty Rea, you already have a fan in Roxy.

Roxy and my Dad spent lots of time getting to know each other and snuggling. As Dad says, "she is a charmer." I couldn't have put it better.

Finally, Dylan is starting to play with her. He'll now initiate a game of chase or tug, which he wouldn't do previously. It's as though he finally realized that she's a dog.

Roxy Listens to Opera

Roxy Snuggles with Grandpa

Dylan Learns to Play with Roxy

Roxy training diary day 19
Thu Jun 26 2003

Annie and I worked on signals and go-outs in the kitchen just for some alone time.

Roxy and Annie got deeply involved in a game of tug, and Dylan wanted to join in but ended up mostly on the sidelines, barking. Since I was home most of the morning, we did lots of trips outside to reinforce the house training.

In the evening, it was time for some more clicker training. We worked on 'sit' for a while, and that seems to be going well. We have also started with the down. She is a little shakier with the down. It takes more of a body language cue (finger pointing at the ground) and every once in a while it simply goes away, and she does other stuff. Then we have to go back to luring with food and start over again, but each time it gets a little more solid. I can see progress. She has kept her puppy joy of learning, and she seems to be having lots of fun with learning new things.

Rosemary keeps finding a new squeaky toy every once in a while, and since there is a narrow window when she can have fun with them without destroying them, she gets a new one practically every day. That's a blast for her.

Roxy Listens for a Click

Roxy training diary day 18
Wed Jun 25 2003

Rosemary reports that Roxy woke up at 4:30 am and needed to go out, but I slept through it.

Tonight, she got a full pedicure with clipping and grinding. Lots of peanut butter made it all go smoothly.

Her new touch stick and clicker came from Click and Treat.

Roxy training diary day 17
Tue Jun 24 2003

There are advantages to living with people who teach Basic Home Manners and agility classes.

Today was a rushed day with final preparations for Dad's visit, plus both of us were backed up at work. So the training sessions were compressed into the evening hours.

We had to set the agility equipment back in place for the Advanced Home Manners/Pre-Agility class, and everything was set very low, so it was a good opportunity to get Roxy out on the equipment for her first try at some things. The 30' tunnel was a real challenge. The tire was old hat for her; so was the seesaw set so low it was just like her tippy board at home.

The dog walk, set at about 18" off the ground, was a new challenge but like all things, she just took to it like she had been doing it all her life.

We also did some offset weave poles, nothing special, just the stage where she got to practice walking in a straight line, with a food lure, between two sets of three poles. There's plenty of time for weave pole practice in her future.

Then, after we got set up, Basic Home Manners class. It's always fun to demo a "puppy recall" with a real puppy! There was some work on sit and down and come and backward walking, so a lot of good practice was had by all. Annie got to demo her scent articles with lots of other dogs around; of course she had difficulty but we will work on it again soon.

Now Roxy is getting lots of attention with a houseguest and of course everyone loves her – she's already convinced of that.

Unfortunately no pictures of any of this, but no one is perfect.

Roxy training diary day 16
Mon Jun 23 2003

See That Girl With the Blue Ticking?
She Knows How To Shake That Thing.

Roxy Gamboling About the Yard

Waiting for Go-Door

Morning fun was had by all. For some reason, the only game Dylan and Annie will play with Roxy is "chase me!" so Roxy gets them started with that. This morning, all three of them were zooming through the tunnel like a demented doggie conga line on crystal meth. Unfortunately, the camera does not capture those Kodak moments, so Rosemary and I will just have to treasure the memory. You shoulda been there.

Then, work, go out at lunch, and more work. Miraculously, there have been no fecal-type accidents in the house, but she more than makes up for it with the amount of urine she produces – my word! That girl can pee. Tonight in the yard, I swear I got her to pee on command for me (our command phrase is "go hurry"; I said it; she squatted and peed). It may have been my imagination. She seems to be trying to hold it for us, but her bladder is still the size of a pecan.

Lots of doggie playtime in the evening, despite the mosquitos, and Roxy did some serious puppy gamboling in the yard. Annie still won't share her toys, but she did show Roxy how to break the neck of a soft frisbee something like 3,000 times. It's hard, you see, because finding the neck on a disc is no mean feat, but somehow Annie has that special skill. Ray Charles (What'd I Say?: "See that girl with the diamond ring / She knows how to shake that thing") would be proud of her.

Everyone then piled up against the door waiting for:

  • The Air Conditioner Vent (Annie)
  • A Drink of Water (Roxy)
  • I Don't Know Yet; I Will Scream For It Later (Dylan)
  • Door? What Door? (Kodiak)

After human dinner, Jim decided to finally drag in the seesaw. He thought Rosemary wanted him to put Roxy on it, but it turned out that was a huge miscommunication; Roxy was scared of it and while she would do it, she was clearly not happy. So, we went back a grade to the tippy board, which is just the seesaw with no base; that was much easier and now Roxy is the Official Mistress of the Tippy Board.

All that demanding and watching wore Dylan out. Nighttime found him splayed out on the couch, in one of those positions that dogs must find comfortable but that look awfully unwieldy from a human perspective.

Tomorrow: more visitors!

Roxy Confronts the Big Seesaw Challenge

I Prefer the Tippy Board

Thanks to Grandma Denise Frick for these pictures of:

My Mom, Twist
(up to her neck in pig s**t, I kid you not)

My Dad, Tate

Dylan Relaxes After an Exhausting Day

Roxy training diary days 14-15
Sat-Sun Jun 21-22 2003

Not much training happened this weekend. My dad is coming for a visit this week (more socialization!) and the house desperately needed cleaning.

Roxy did get a bath, however, and she was a little trouper. She even tolerated having her face done with baby shampoo, which is always a big step.

She has become adept at getting out of her Central Metal Products crate if we leave the top open, so now we have to shut it which makes it that much harder to get her in and out in a hurry.

She also has a new condo: we stacked two of the 300 crates from the van and made them into apartments for Dylan and Roxy. Roxy has the upstairs because it's easier to get her out in the middle of the night to go pee — no lifting! Last night, she took a while to settle in to the new arrangment and Dylan was mightily huffed that the upstairs neighbors were dancing, clomping around, and generally making noise. Everything about this puppy is annoying to the "big dogs" most days.

Roxy training diary day 13
Fri Jun 20 2003

Take Your Dog To Work Day.

Today was "Take Your Dog To Work Day", so I did. Roxy continues her goal of total puppy domination of humans, with more converts to her cause. Today, she got to meet Jayne Bernanke and Lisa McCammon from work, but she got her picture taken with my new program coordinator, Kathy Squires. Kathy will be responsible for running the Office of Faculty Development while I sit in my office, think Big Thoughts, and continue to pursue my goal of writing The Ultimate Memorandum. So, it's a family picture of sorts, with Rosemary, Roxy and Kathy, from left to right.

Roxy Goes To Work

Today was a major breakthrough. At least, I was excited. Roxy and I were sitting around on the floor this morning before work, messing around with the clicker, and I thought, "I'd bet a 5 dollar bill that she will sit on command." That's the criterion that Gary Wilkes taught us to use when deciding when adding a verbal command. So, without using any obvious body language or cues or luring with food, I said, "Sit." She did. I was amazed, and I still had my $5, so I did it several more times in that spot, then moved to the other side of the kitchen, stood up, and said, "Sit." She did it again. Well, that was nice, because I realized it's the first time she ever responded to a command in English.

Here's another neat thing. We know that dogs, when stressed, will tend to revert to the earliest behavior they learn, so whenever anything goes horribly wrong with Roxy, she will sit down. That won't always be good, but there are much worse first commands you can teach a dog.

I am constantly overwhelmed by how smart she is, and what a quick study.

Lunchtime found us at work (see above), working on sits, downs, come, puppy recalls, roll over, and for the first time I got out the Alley Oop (see picture at right) and did some targeting with her (forgot the clicker, so I improvised with just treats) and she was a little starlet. She is a ham like Annie, which is a good thing.

The "big dogs" are finally starting to play with her a little bit. Tonight she started running around the yard (and later the kitchen) at full speed; this got the cattledogs excited about chase games and a fun time was had by all. The tiny Boomer Ball (Boomlet Ball?) is getting some use, and I punted the flat Broncos football a few times so Annie could catch it and carry it around like a leather taco.

Annie, Punt Return Specialist

Let The Games Begin

Roxy training diary day 12
Thu Jun 19 2003

Not too much on the training front today.

The one big breakthrough was our first clicker session this morning. I sat on the kitchen floor with her and a baggie of liver brownies; it took perhaps a half-dozen clicks and treats for her to get the idea pretty firmly lodged in her head that a click is a pretty nice thing.

Since she is so good at sitting, that's what we worked on. In pure Gary Wilkes fashion, I said nothing, just worked on the behavior.

This is so much easier when you know what to expect. So, when she apparently "forgot" what we were working on, and got frustrated, we just worked through it. It came roaring back, faster than before. It was a blast to watch.

Oh...I'd be remiss if I didn't note that this is the second night in a row we haven't been awakened. I did get up at 6 am to take her out. If I'm not mistaken, she's getting a lot of her housetraining experience from the other guys. She is sniffing them as they are peeing in the yard, and seems to be saying to herself, "Gee, this is what I should be doing". That's what I want.

Roxy training diary day 11
Wed Jun 18 2003

Roxy and Annie Play Ball

Roxy Tries to Convince Kodiak that She Is a Puppy

Dylan, Gobsmacked, Takes Solace in Holding His Balls

We seem to be settling into a routine.

Mornings are for sitting in the kitchen. While I read, Roxy tries to take a run at swiping some shoes. Roxy has become obsessed with shoes of all descriptions. I think she may have a fetish.

Midday, I come home to let her out. She's doing better about holding onto her urine, although it's guaranteed that the excitement of my arrival will cause some leakage. She's doing so much better than I expected with housetraining.

Another group of admirers from work wanted to see her, so I dutifully loaded her up in the van and took her to the lawn outside the Union to meet her adoring public. I should charge admission. Today was Anna Lerant, Kim Simpson, Rick Lin, and the two undergraduate students working in the Simpson-Lin lab over the summer. I had some leftover beef jerky saved, so I used that as training treats to show them what Roxy knows, which right now is "sit", "down" and "come". I think she is starting to "get" the idea of each without the food cue, so every once in a while I try a bold body language signal but I am fading the food. She is not as reliable that way, but she seems to be getting the basic idea.

We talked some about modern training philosophy and then just for grins I decided to show Anna how to teach Roxy the "roll over". Amazingly enough, she did it on about the third try! (Roxy, that is. Anna stayed upright.) Of course, Roxy is at that stage of puppyhood where she is about to tip over at any moment, so that makes teaching it that much easier.

Back to work for the afternoon, then home and time for a round of "play ball". Rosemary unearthed a miniature Boomer Ball which is safer for Roxy play; she's less likely to be steamrolled by it. Annie and Dylan can be pretty rough with the 10" Boomer Ball, using it as a wrecking ball more often than not. I won't soon forget the sound of that damn ball hitting the side of our plastic storage building over and over and over.

Annie mostly prefers to ignore the existence of Roxy, but when she does look down to see the puppy, she basically makes Roxy grovel and pay homage to her superior blueness. The boys are taking it a lot harder than we thought they would. Both have upset digestive tracts. We knew already that Kodiak hates every dog, but Roxy is working hard to try to convince Kodiak that she's a puppy and therefore harmless. He seems dubious but is not smart enough to see the ruse.

On the other hand, Dylan has not become the big brother we figured he would be. He seems to feel unsettled by her presence. Luckily, he can take solace in the fact that he has two balls (see picture at right).

After dinner, we decide to try some nail grinding. Denise Frick, our breeder, had already trimmed the nails, but they had grown to the point where they had to be done. To our great relief, Roxy is not a "foot princess" like Annie. She didn't seem thrilled to have them done with the grinder, but she didn't put up too much of a fuss, either.

First Nail Trim

Everything Goes Better With Peanut Butter

Roxy training diary days 5-10
Thu Jun 12 2003 to Tue Jun 17 2003

Annie Teaches Diving
(see Roxy in lower left corner)

Annie Lifeguards as Roxy Swims

Family Swim Time

Lots of firsts these last few days.

  • First long trip in the van: we went to Perry, Georgia (an 8 hour drive) for a huge agility trial there, a USDAA Regional Grand Prix.
  • First stay in a hotel room. She was a good little citizen, very well-behaved.
  • First time to sleep through the night: Thursday night (actually Friday morning) she only made it to 2:30 am, but then she was so totally and completely wiped out by Friday and Saturday, that she made it through the night in her crate in the hotel room.
  • First time swimming. She likes to do whatever Annie does, and Annie went swimming, so she did too. No one was more surprised than I when she let her feet leave the bottom of the pond at the Perry site and actually started swimming!
  • First time meeting large groups of people. As expected, there were hundreds of agility competitors there, and seemingly everyone wanted to see her, which was great socialization. We also spent lots of time around the rings and on the floor of the dirt arena, mostly between runs, so she could get used to the show site and the noises and smells and sights of the show environment.
  • First time (since we got her) that she's been away from her Dad. I had to take a business trip Monday, so I caught a ride to the Atlanta Airport with Pam Reid (more about that some other time!) and then flew, dogless, to DC, while Rosemary and the dogs drove back to Jackson. Rosemary gets some sort of special prize for that, I think.

I've been slacking off on the training, just working on socializing mostly during our Perry trip, so today I will try to carve out some sits and downs and comes. Rosemary and I both think she is starting to learn how to do the behaviors without food, so I'll probably try and fade the food reward and see what I get. One day soon, I need to teach her the clicker too. So much to do, so little time!

Cute Under the Holly

A Brief Training Session

Roxy training diary day 4
Wed Jun 11 2003

Housetraining update. Good news: Roxy made it to 4:45 am. More good news: Roxy and I made it outside before she peed; I carried her in my arms to the door this time, like Rosemary suggested. Bad news: No one could go back to sleep. Oh well, it was a good chance for Annie and I to go for a walk. Unfortunately, my sweet puppy was possessed by Moaning Myrtle and we could hear her a quarter mile away through the wall of the house! Back home, some quick Binaca, but that did no good. Annie and I walked anyway, and Rosemary had to deal with Moaning Myrtle.

More tunnel practice this morning. All dogs, big and small, got to romp in the (hot, damp) backyard.

Every day with this puppy, I bless the day I met DeeDee and she showed us how to train dogs. It's so much easier, so much more fun, and it's a blast taking advantage of this sponge-like puppy brain.

Not much more to report today. We were busy packing and preparing for our Perry, Georgia trip. Rosemary wants me to remind y'all that there will be no daily updates until Tuesday, June 17. I will keep notes on our trip and post a mega-update when I get back.

Roxy training diary day 3
Tue Jun 10 2003

Housetraining proceeds apace, with Roxy getting me up at 4 am to go pee. We made it to the door, but no further. Rosemary suggests carrying her to the door, which I might try; I worry that she will pee all over me instead of the floor.

This morning, Annie and I went for a walk for some alone time. Today is my first day back at work, then we have class tonight; Roxy should do a great puppy recall as a demo. Today in the yard, she saw Annie do the weaves. We also did the tunnel straight, which she thought was great fun; she's still the age where coming to us is a blast for her. Oh, that it would last. We also worked on sits and downs in the kitchen, with Annie and Dylan helping. Dylan, as usual, wins the fastest down contest.

Roxy, Miss Popularity, is continuing to make friends everywhere she goes. After a fairly rotten morning at work, I went to get her at noon, and she was fine until I came in the door and then could hold it no longer. Over the next few months, we will have the cleanest kitchen floor in town. Since I was not in the mood for work anyhow, I took her over to campus again at noontime and she met some of the office staff and others who had been begging me to see her. I'll call it socialization.

She was a HUGE hit with the construction workers at the new hospital site next to the administration building. Kay Fulton, one of the Dean's secretaries, came out in a very attractive skirt and blouse, and all the construction workers hooted and hollered and generally made asses of themselves. So, now we know that they like puppies a lot. Lots of people came and made a fuss over her, then I moved the illegally-parked van and we did it all again next to where I usually park. While she was being a little star, I took some jerky and worked on her now-familiar sits and downs and comes on the Flexi. She is getting brisker and brisker, and I might start fading the food over the next few days and see how she does. Tonight's class will include puppy recalls and I'm hoping she will be a good demo doggie.

The afternoon went much better knowing that she survived being alone for three hours in the morning. I know it's irrational, but I still worry every time I have a new puppy. I spend time when I should be working imagining the different ways she can hurt herself. Why is that? And why does it go away with time?

Tonight at Basic Home Manners, Roxy got to be the demo dog for the first time, with some important practice at what we call "Cookie-Pushing Stays", backward walking, and Puppy Recalls before a sudden thunderstorm came up and ended class 15 minutes early.

On home, where Annie got some much-needed article practice (top picture).

Annie then promptly got herself in royal trouble by swinging her Booda around so hard that it smacked Roxy. Rosemary and I both thought Roxy had broken her left foreleg but after about 5 minutes of whining and being checked over by her Dad, nothing seemed seriously wrong. She rested for a while, then walked it off, then seemed back to 100% in the way only a puppy can. The only permanent damage seemed to be to her face, which is now permanantly twisted into a weird grimace (see second picture from top).

That was a good excuse as any for a rousing round of Playtime. Annie, Dylan and Roxy re-enacted the climactic final scene of the Clint Eastwood classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (third from top). A dinosaur then attacked the house, and thanks to the quick thinking of Roxy, it was rapidly vanquished, making the kitchen safe for Dogocracy once again.

After all the excitement of the day, a snuggle with Mom was well-deserved and just the thing for a tired puppy who now has crashed in her crate.

Housetraining is going quite well. Rosemary and Jim are getting better at Roxy's "tells", and there have been no accidents this evening but there have been three or four chances for praise while she peed outside. Good Roxy!

Annie Does Scent Articles

Roxy's Face is Screwed Up

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Dinosaur Attack

The Dinosaur Is Vanquished

Roxy training diary day 2
Mon Jun 9 2003

Got up early, thanks to Annie's announcement that all was not right in the house. Apparently, new puppies are not only a rulebook violation, but some sort of severe problem that needs immediate action. Lots of work on house training, no accidents -- yet. We are all living in fear of the Margie English method if there is an accident.

First walk -- down the drive, to the property line in the street, back up the street and up the driveway.

First fetch session -- she picked up an unattended Booda while the guys were out playing with Rosemary, and so I tossed it for her maybe a half-dozen times.

Dylan has gone from 'You will submit to my superior WILL' to a boyish curiousity. He may be getting a crush on her.

Now off to the vet for our first vet visit.

Back from that, 15 lbs and all is well. That's a relief. We had a family play session after we got back. Annie and Dylan had been pretty much ignoring her (puppy? what puppy? we want to see Mom and Dad) so we took matters into our own hands and started them playing with each other. There were cross words from time to time, but both Annie and Dylan used proportionate force and did not hurt her. There was one especially cute moment -- Annie was carrying the inflation tug toy in her mouth and Roxy dashed up, displaying her 'Puppy License', and ran off with it, leaving Annie looking stunned.

Noontime found us on the UMC campus, showing her yet another location with grass, trees, and open spaces. People made a fuss over her, and she was obviously pleased with herself.

We all took a well-deserved two-hour nap in the afternoon.

Measured her at 13½ inches.

Kodiak is taking to her better than expected. He tried roaring at her once this afternoon, and Dylan jumped him, which was overall a bad situation but Roxy just took it in stride. Kodiak has now gone to just ignoring her, which is far better than he's done with any dog previously. It took him the better part of a month to get used to Dylan five years ago.

Evening came and time to learn to ride the tippy board. She smacked it around a few times in the ex pen, then we set it out and let her take food off of it for a while.

While the bait was out, it was a good time to do some sits, downs and come. The sits and the downs still use food as a lure but she is much brisker now. We did DeeDee's "puppy recalls" to great effect. She ran her little heart out across the kitchen floor.

We unwrapped Aunt Liz Sharpe's present, which turned out to be a Wiggly-Giggly ball embedded inside a platypus, so perfectly appropriate for an Australian Cattle Dog.

After all that excitement and dinner, it was time to relax and hang out by Dad's feet, which is where she can most often be found for now.

Roxy training diary day 1
Sun Jun 8 2003

Introducing Hit N Heel No Red Light (Roxy).

I woke up early because of the time difference, and got to spend some quiet time watching Roxy and Thorn play. Roxy had a bit of meat from last night's pizza, which made her sick to her stomach so another lesson was learned by both Jim and Roxy. Denise and I sat and drank coffee and chatted, which didn't involve training at all but Denise and Steve are fun to talk with. Audra, Denise's friend, also stopped by and we also had breakfast.

Then it was time to go to the airport. Getting in the Sherpa bag mostly involved turning it on end, then dumping her in and closing the zipper before she could escape. She had half a Dramamine for her trip which I must say really helped her "motion sickness". She didn't move around much, and I didn't get sick of her.

The rental car return, the ride to the terminal on the shuttle, and the checkin at the ticket counter were all uneventful.

I had checked everything but Roxy and her bag, so when we got to the security checkpoint I told the TSA agent, 'hey, this dog is not going through the X-ray' and of course we had a good laugh about that. As it turned out, her bag got X-rayed but she got to be carried through the metal detector in my arms, everyone smiling and happy. She passed, as did I. Shoes back on, belongings collected, we got on the plane.

I had tried and tried to get a better seat than the middle somewhere in the belly of the airplane, but it was no-go. When I got to the gate, I asked the gate agent, 'hey, I got this dog, it's gonna be a drag, can you do any better than this?' She refused to even look up or look at my boarding pass, said, 'I can't help you, there are people who can't get seats' and then I felt very small and insignificant compared to the starving children in Ethopia and all others who can't get seats on planes. Now I know what my $75 pet charge was for, was to remind me how lucky I am. Gosh, Delta service just gets better and better post-9/11.

Since I was mildly pissed off and did not care for the rules at that moment, I took the unused table for hand-checking baggage, plopped Roxy's bag on it, and proceeded to train her on the floor with the bits of beef jerky I had saved.

The window seat woman was dour and humorless, while I had a young teen girl on the aisle. The kid thought I was a mite strange, reaching down into my bag and stroking it from time to time. Only about halfway through the flight did she realize I had a puppy. She had seen me in the terminal and exclaimed, 'Oh! So you're the dude with the dog!'. I said 'yes, I am'. Roxy slept and was quiet the whole way. She was a trouper.

More training during the layover in Atlanta. We worked on sit, down, and come and she was doing quite a credible job if I do say so myself. Still luring with food, but she was working more and more briskly each time.

A warm greeting at the airport from New Mom Rosemary, then on home, where we introduced her to the cattle kids one at a time. Neither was much impressed nor angry, so it was off to bed. After some discussion, we decided to let her sleep in Dylan's crate, which is nearest my side of the bed, and everyone was pretty good about the new arrangements.

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