Wednesday, May 11, 2011

foster dog

Hi everyone! Long time no see! It's me, Kiri, and I can't believe it's been 6 months since I last wrote here! Time flies when you're buried under 4 feet of snow!

But I'm not here to talk about me right now (don't worry, at some point I'm BOUND to talk about ME, the most wonderful dog on the planet!!). Instead, I'm here to introduce you to my new friend:

This is "Mae" and she's a foster dog. I didn't know what that meant, I thought maybe it was a fancy breed or something. But my sister Joy, who has lived here the longest of any of us dogs, says that a foster dog is a dog that needed to leave where she was living for some reason and didn't have anywhere else to go. A foster dog isn't a new sister, she's just a visiting dog who'll live with us for awhile until she can find a new home of her own. Unlike April, the Big White Dog, who is a rescue dog that moved in here permanently.

My sister Grace says Mae is a Border Collie like her. Mom says she's still a puppy at 8 months old. (Heck, I feel like I'm still a puppy at 17 months old!) But she needed to leave her owner's home because he and his wife couldn't handle her energy level.

You see, he is an elderly man, and Border Collies are meant to run hundreds of miles over hills and fields every day. Her owner just wasn't able to give her enough exercise, so she was developing a lot of bad habits that were making living with her difficult. Aunt Wendy is Mae's vet, and she told the owners that she had a friend (my mom!) who could take Mae and work with her and find her a more appropriate home. So even though her owner loved her very much, he sent Mae to live with us because he knew that it was the best thing for her.

Mom says it's hard to take in a new dog like Mae. Her owner lived a very quiet life, and Mae didn't get out much to see the world, so she's nervous about a lot of things she's never seen before. Like the Things. (Ok, I'll admit that my Things are pretty weird little humans, but they are definitely NOT scary.) She can't seem to make up her mind about them. She loves them if they are sitting still and ignoring her, she wants to climb into their laps and give them kisses. But if they move around a lot, she gets scared and barks and growls at them. She even tried to bite Thing 2 once when he tried to pet her.

But my Things are very wise about dogs, and they know to just ignore Mae and let her try to get used to them. She really WANTS to like them, but it's going to take some time for her to trust them completely. Because of this, Mom says that Mae will have to go to a home without small children (Things), even if she learns to love my Things. (Which I know she will -- my Things are weird, but they're very cool!)

So now I have a very important job. I have to tire out Mae so that Mom can work with her. Mom says if all Mae can think about is how much she needs to run, there's no way she'll learn anything. So Mae and I get to run around and wrestle and play tug for a couple of hours every morning. (I get this job instead of my sisters because I still have "puppy energy" to keep up with her, and because all of my sisters seem to hate Mae. Mom says it's because Mae has "bad energy" and they want to fix it themselves, but Mom says it's better if she fixes it instead of them.)

Once I get her good and tired, Mom takes Mae on her walk with the Things. It's kind of a bummer for me, because that's MY time for a walk, but it's only temporary. Once Mae is done learning how to walk nice on the leash, I'll get to go too. Mom says it's really important for Mae to know to walk politely on the leash for her next owners. Mom also works on her responding to her name, and normal obedience stuff like sit and down, while they are on their walk.

Afterwards she gets time to just hang out with Mom, the Things, and whatever barn cats are around. She's starting to get used to all the things that live here. Pretty soon Mom will start taking her to do chores so that she can get used to being calm and listening to Mom in more distracting situations. And Mom will take her to a place with lots of working Border Collies so that people who might be interested in adopting her can see how she works. Maybe someone will want to train her to be a sheep dog like my sisters!

By the time she's done with training, she's ready to settled down and chew on a bone for a bit, or go into her crate to practice quietly waiting there for the next time she can be with Mom or me. Mae doesn't like being alone, so this is one of the hardest things for her, but she's learning to accept it and is realizing that the only way Mom will let her out of her crate is if she is quiet. When she first came last week, she screamed for a long time. But it's getting shorter and shorter every day, and now she's even getting in the crate when Mom tells her instead of Mom having to shove her in there. So she's learning!

Well, I'd better run, Mae's ready to play. I'll keep you all posted on how things go for Mom and Mae!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hi everybody! Kiri the blogging Lab here, trying to make up for Mom's snafu earlier today (posting something, then deleting it, then expecting me to post a retraction, getting all my loyal readers excited at seeing a post from me, only to realize it really says absolutely nothing....).

Anyway, I figured I'd try to make things better by posting some pictures from our walk this afternoon at our favorite dog-and-thing walking spot. (We missed you, Auntie Christine! Maybe next time!) Things are getting dicey out there, with hunting season underway (oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy....) so the area's not available for us family dogs much this time of year. So this might be our last chance to use it for awhile. But there was nobody there today to speak of, so we basically had the place to ourselves.

Here's Thing 1 (in the front), Thing 2 (near me), and me arriving in all our glory:

That place smells GREAT right now -- bird scent EVERYWHERE! I couldn't help myself while walking through the fields, I had to keep slamming on the breaks and sticking my nose in the direction of those birds! Mom says I was "pointing" and that this is a field she used to hunt in with sisters I never knew. I sure wish she brought a gun with her today, we could have had some good eatin' tonight....

Eventually we got out of the fields and I was able to work off some energy in the river:

And as luck would have it, the Things found me a tennis ball and we played fetch all the way back to our car. It was so good it almost distracted me from the birds. (But not quite.)

Ahhhh....what a day! Just me and my things. Oh, and Mom. You know, we could probably do just fine without her, except none of us can drive. So I guess we'll keep bringing her with us.

See ya!

please ignore!

Hoo boy. Please ignore that last post (which Mom has since deleted, so maybe you never saw it) -- she accidentally posted an entry on MY blog (she has a nerve!) that she meant to post on the Big White Dog Blog. I knew allowing her access to my account was just asking for trouble....

Please return to your normal daily programing, all is cool here. (Literally -- it's sorta nippy out there in the mornings, isn't it?!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

fun photos

So I've been on Mom's case lately about my lack of access to the computer. She says it's because the computer is sick and we need a new one (funny, she didn't have problems with it before I started typing on it....). But anyway, I totally insisted that she let me post some pictures from our super-fun hike at that great dog-and-thing walking place I posted about previously, and she said that would be fine. So I hope you enjoy the pictures!

This was a couple weeks ago with my good friend Solena the Golden Retriever and Solena's Thing (which is a girl Thing, as opposed to my Things, which are boys -- they were with us too, I just didn't include any photos of them, 'cuz they get way too much exposure on Mom's blog anyway). Solena's Mom was there too, my Mom really likes her, they talk and talk and talk and talk....sheesh! But at least that gives us dogs and the Things plenty of time to have fun!

Ah, friends.....there's nothing like 'em!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

big white dog

Armph, chomph, shlarp, scrunchph....

Oh excuse me! Hi, Kiri the Blogging Lab here! One of Mom's students brought me some cool new toys (thanks Barbara!) so I've been living it up out in my yard....

But anyway! On to the news!!! Are you ready for this?????.....

Ok, seriously, could ANYBODY have been ready for THAT?!

Yup, you guess it, Mom brought home a new sister for me. Only this one isn't a sheep-moving sister, she's a sheep-guarding sister. She's big. And white. And she's supposed to live with the sheep and the chickens and keep the foxes and coyotes and fishers away from them all. Which works for me just fine, so long as Mom doesn't take her duck hunting. I don't think there's much worry about that. I mean, LOOK AT HER! She's a moose! There's no way she's fitting in a duck blind!

But really, anything's cool with me, so long as Mom's friends keep bringing ME all the toys! Haha!

And in the spirit of sharing, I'm letting Mom use my blog space to set up a blog for Miss-Whitey-Pants (whose name is actually "April" by the way). So go check out her blog, the Big White Dog Blog (yeah, way to go, real clever Mom....) and read all about how she and Mom found each other, and no doubt all sorts of other sheep-guarding stuff.

Me -- I'm back to the blue koala bear....mmmph, crumph, schlorph....

Monday, August 9, 2010

long time, no woof!

Hi everyone, remember me? Kiri, the blogging Lab?? It's been so long since I've written here, I wouldn't be surprised if nobody even checks in anymore to see if I'm around. In fact, it's been so long that the Internet place canceled my email address, so if anyone tries sending me emails, it's not going to work! (Mom will try to fix that at some point.) I'm already 8 months old, can you believe it?!

I know you're all dying to know what I've been up to lately, but it's not as exciting as you might think. Really, I've just been busy growing up. I've been at the age where Mom uses a lot of management (see my blog post on that topic!) and not a lot of training, to keep me behaving myself and not developing bad habits while my body is developing a lot of size and other useful stuff, like coordination.

Here's one of the new management things Mom has done with me the past few months since we last talked. This is a special leash called a Flexi-Lead retractable leash, and it feeds out and retracts as I move around. It sort of gives me the feeling of being off-leash, yet Mom's always got control if she needs it.

Mom's not a real big fan of the Flexi-lead usually -- she says that it does a pretty good job of teaching dogs to pull if they don't already know about walking on a nice loose leash, since it gives constant leash-feedback on our necks. She would never, ever use one when she is first teaching a dog to walk nicely on a leash. But since I'm such a good leash-walking dog from her work with me while I was little, she decided that I was experienced enough to understand the difference between when I'm on a regular leash and when I'm on the Flexi.

I really like my Flexi, because it lets me go for relaxed walks with Mom and the Things up our street, which is a totally cool place to go for a walk. There's really not many cars, and there's tons of woods and fields and cool stuff to sniff and explore along the way.

One other management thing Mom does for me while we're walking is to give me my "walking stick". That's what she calls that really cool chunk of branch I've got in my mouth. Without the "walking stick," here's what happens:

Yup, I just can't resist putting that leash in my mouth! And Mom says Flexi-leads don't grow on trees, so she doesn't want me biting through it. However, sticks DO grow on trees, so I can chomp down on my walking stick all I want and nobody minds.

So when we get ready to go for a walk, someone just hands me my walking stick, and away we go!

Speaking of which, the Things are ready to go, so here we go!

Mom has just started taking me to a dog class again, so training is underway again (hooray!!!), which means I should have plenty of stuff to write about soon. Hopefully I'll be around a little more from now on. So come back and look for me soon!

See ya!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

box work

Hey, everyone! Kiri here, waiting for Mom to do some box work with me.

What's box work, you ask? Well, I'll show you!

You know how some folks encourage you to think outside the box?

Well, my Mom encourages me to think on top of the box! Watch this little video clip to see what I mean:

You see, Mom started clicking and rewarding me for putting my two feet up on the box and staying there. Once I got good at that, she went on to the next step, which was clicking and feeding me for moving my hind end while I keep my front feet on the box:

Then she started moving to my side to feed me there after clicking me for moving my butt. She calls this "placement of reinforcement". Phbbbt....I call it having a snack! (I call a LOT of things having a snack....):

That's when I started figuring out that I could just move along with her and get my treats faster that way:

Now, I know you're wondering where this is all going. I'm gonna let my Granny Annie and my brother Apolo show you. Watch how Apolo moves along with Granny Annie and tries to stay right next to her side just because he's watching her and knows where he needs to be:

Here's my friend Tessie showing that she can move with Auntie Christine in both directions on the box. (whoa, advanced stuff!):

Ok, so here's the point of all this. Once we figure out that we need to be in that spot next to our Moms, we can get in the right position to do what Mom calls "heeling". The sheep-moving sisters have told me about "heeling" -- it means moving in unison with your Mom or Dad while staying exactly in position on their left side. Here's Tessie and Auntie Christine doing this "heeling" stuff, while Mom bugs them with directions:

See how Tessie knows to get into that position even when Auntie Christine is doing weird things? That's what Mom's teaching me with the box work!

Ok, enough work, time for some recreation! Maybe today's the day I catch those Wood Ducks by surprise....

See ya!