The RoxyLog September 2003

Roxy training diary week 16
Sun Sep 21 to Sat Sep 27 2003

Roxy is now 17 ¾ inches at the withers and 36 pounds. We weighed and measured her to celebrate her six-month birthday, which was Monday or Tuesday depending on how you count. We like to think that Roxy was born on Annie's 10th birthday, which is March 22; Rosemary insists that Roxy was the first out and so she was born March 22. Denise tells us the puppies were born overnight and the "official" papers say March 23 so her six-month anniversary was either Monday, Sept 22 or Tuesday, Sept 23. She's such a squirmy thing right now that it's hard to measure her. She's somewhere about 17 and change, because she's at least Annie's height and I'm certain Annie is 17 ¼ inches.

We continue to have serious house-training issues. I'm confident of our methods; I guess the lesson we've learned is, each dog is different and it just takes some time with some of them, just like not all kids are out of diapers at the same age. I will try installing a bell on the back door and see if that helps.

This week's work was on heeling. We took two short walks, just going around the long block on Chippewa so that's about ½ mile for each. She got treats for keeping all four feet on the ground and doing something that looked a bit like heeling. No point in asking for too much precision at this stage of the game.

Rosemary continues to work on her gaiting and stacking in preparation for the ACDCA Specialty. She's leaving a week from Friday.

The coolest thing Roxy does right now is a drop on hand signal. I give the signal (which looks like a traffic cop's "stop" hand signal) and she flops herself down on the ground. It can't be photographed, but it is extremely cute. She just looks so happy and proud of herself. We did some "who can do the fastest down" contests this weekend.

When I was judging Sunday the 21st, I picked up some new toys at the vendors. I got a mini-tire for Dylan, but he was forced to share with the others and of course things degenerated into a three-way game of tug. It's called a Tire Biter and it's a cute toy, but it sure does stink. Another, similar toy is just a cut-out hunk of tire sidewall, and Dylan got to chew on that for a while too until he started taking chunks off of it.

I'm giving serious thought to making the RoxyLog monthly starting in October, unless someone gives me a good reason not to. She's developing more slowly now, and there is less to report.

Three-Way Tug

Roxy training diary week 15
Sun Sep 14 to Sat Sep 20 2003

I've been away from home more than I've been home, or so it seems, the last two weeks, so it's another brief report. It's awfully hard to train your puppy by phone.

September 11 through September 15 found me either on a plane to Portland, in Albany, Oregon, or on a plane home from Portland. I attended another AKC Agility Judges' Seminar, and once again it didn't work out for me, so I'm giving up on my dream of being an AKC agility judge – although it's hard to call something a dream when it represents so much work. Agility is fun, and being a judge has its fun moments, but no one would confuse it with real fun. It's kinda like Garrison Keillor's description of "Better Than Sex" pie: "it was really, really good, but it wasn't that good."

So, as it turned out, the best part of the trip was getting to hug Roxy as I packed. Rosemary surprised me with the camera.

Back for four days of work, and one day of rest. During the week we got some more training in. Roxy was a demo doggie for Basic Home Manners Tuesday night, and we got in some heeling practice and work with stays. She can sit-stay with a little bit of movement on my part. Afterwards, when the agility field was open, we practiced a little bit on the obstacles and she did the full-height seesaw once or twice. She's still pretty apprehensive about that and I'm thinking I'll back off a bit before she gets terrified of it. Her offset weaves are improving, though I can't say I see her getting the "point" of the weave poles, and we got some contact work in as well.

Saturday was another practice day, this time with Jim and Marsha Jones.

Her body continues to defy description. The feet have straightened out, so the "east-west" front seen in previous pictures (like last week's Assistant Princess photo) is gone, but her back legs have grown faster than her front so she looks like a jacked-up racecar with a spoiler in back. Her body still has a lot of filling in to do.

Roxy Says Goodbye

Roxy training diary week 14
Sun Sep 7 to Sat Sep 13 2003

Getting an early start on this week because I'll be out of town for half of the week and all of the weekend.

Roxy is now 17" and 33 pounds. She's still gangly but seems to be filling out a little bit.

Sunday, we moved the "old" A-frame and dog walk from over at the Dog Wash. We rented a U-Haul truck at 9 am Sunday (the only time we could get), retrieved the equipment, mowed the yard and plunked it down. The trip back and forth to get the equipment and return the truck took just about 1 hour, and the time worked out well because there is almost no traffic at 9 am Sunday in Jackson.

Once everything was set up, then it was time to let the dogs play on the equipment, as shown in the pictures along the bottom. Roxy inspires Annie and Dylan to do more creative things with the contacts. She is still freelancing by going any direction she chooses, and the contacts are of course optional. We're trying to keep her from launching off things but still giving her a chance to approach agility with a bit of fearlessness. She has that part down. Yes, we always stay with her and try to make sure she doesn't hurt herself; notice the disembodied arms and legs hanging out in various parts of the pictures here.

Monday it was time for some obedience practice in the kitchen. She started off really unsure about the down on hand signal, but after a while started to get it. Then, later, she took to flinging herself onto the floor, Dylan-style. She would plop herself down and look up as if to say, "See Dad? Aren't I gorgeous?" Of course she is.

Then we did some dumbbell practice, which is devilishly hard to photograph because of the delay between the shutter control and the actual flash and shutter opening on the digital camera. Undaunted, photographer Rosemary gave it her best effort which is documented here. Roxy started out not being sure about even touching the dumbbell, but by the end she was holding it against resistance.

Roxy, Assistant Princess

Roxy Learns the Dumbbell

Roxy Holds the Dumbbell

Let's Meet on the A-Frame

3 Dogs, 3 Ways to Do the A-Frame

Annie and Dylan Do the A-Frame

Roxy training diary week 13
Sun Aug 31 to Sat Sep 6 2003

Lots of rain early in the week and that means training is that much more difficult. We started a new Basic Home Manners class Tuesday, and only got 3/4 of the way through before the sky opened up. So even though Roxy got to be a demo doggie, she didn't get much work outside of class that day.

She does a pretty good stand, sit and will down from either the stand or sit. She still needs lots of cues to do the down but...she actually did the down for me once on a hand signal, without a lot of pointing and food luring, so there is hope. I think it was more-or-less an accident but it's these accidents that we turn into "teachable moments" as they say. We also did a little work on heeling, but her attention span is still too short for what I would call true heeling. If she ends up even with me, at a reasonable distance, and parallel to my direction of travel, well, it's really an accident if I'm honest with myself. So, we continue to work with "wooden spoon heeling" and little tiny walks here and there (like out to get the paper in the morning) but not much else, because it's just frustrating for me and her both.

We've had lots more luck with things that don't need as much focus or attention, like the sits, downs and stands. So on Wednesday, for no particular reason, I decided to start on the inducive retrieve. We got out Annie's dumbbell – causing Annie no end of distress in the process – and I tried to slip the kid a cookie whilst slipping the bar of the dumbbell into her mouth. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I'm pretty sure the light flickered once or twice and I think she might be figuring out that I want her to put this hunk of plastic in her mouth. Oh well, we have a few years to work on it and I'm a patient man. As long as she's not sending it flying to Timbuktu like a certain blue cattle dog I know, it will be all right with me.

In between all of that training time, which was not that much time at all, there was time for play and just general hanging out. Roxy is getting to be quite the playmate. Not a Playmate®, which is a different thing entirely, but a playmate, as evident in the photos of her and Annie and Dylan.

Another political development on the homefront is that Princess Annie has appointed Roxy Assistant Princess, with all the rights and privileges thereto pertaining. Which means that they are now partners in whatever criminal enterprise Annie sets her mind to, whether it's destroying the yard, tormenting Kodiak, or chewing on a forbidden object.

Roxy and Annie Tugfest

Dylan Plays Tug Too

Back to this month's RoxyLog

RoxyLog August 2003 (weeks 9-12)

RoxyLog July 2003 (days 25-54)

RoxyLog June 2003 (days 1-24)