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Frogs & Dogs

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Posts posted by Frogs & Dogs

  1. Things are going well here. After just a couple of hours, he picked up a default sit. Today we worked hard on crate games (permission to exit the crate) and he's totally getting it! It's like 99% better than the behavior I witnessed when I met him on Saturday. As I type this, he's dozing in his crate with the door wide open - his choice to go in there. He also learned to jump into the back of my car today. I dug out my old basic obedience manual from the days when Kit was a puppy. It's full of useful exercises, so we'll be working our way through that.


    He pooped and peed twice today instead of only once, so that's progress. I think he learned to hold it when he was in the shelter. No accidents yet. He's still pretty quiet. I realize that could change as he gets more comfortable here, but he certainly doesn't seem shut down to me.


    I know everyone here liked "Quill", but I'm leaning towards "Tux". For agility, a dog that looks like his name is very useful - no one will look at the score sheet and wonder if they've got the right dog. And the T and the X are distinctive consonants - great for recall and grabbing attention on course.


    Vet check (including x-rays) is tomorrow. I'm really hoping for a positive outcome because I want to keep this boy. Badly. He'll be sedated for the x-rays, so tomorrow will probably be a loss as far as training.

  2. After losing my beloved Kit to cancer in April and deciding that I don't like my life without a dog in it, on Saturday, I adopted this boy from a rescue in the LA area: http://www.bordercolliesinneed.org/border_collie_rescue_and_adoptions/blackbart.html


    It's still early, but so far, I'm utterly impressed. Despite a rough start in life, he's remarkably stable. I haven't witnessed much fear. He notices everything, but isn't reactive. He loves people and other dogs. Good food motivation. Likes toys, but doesn't understand yet that it's a game we can play together. Very quiet. And really smart. Seems like he'll be a cinch to train.


    Going to try to get seen by the vet this week for xrays and physical exam. I don't expect to find much, but since he will hopefully be my new agility partner, the adoption is contingent on the outcome at the vet.


    I'm still working on a name. Under consideration: Tuxedo (Tux for short), Quill, and Pelé (like the Brazilian soccer player). Other suggestions welcome.





  3. Black Bart is mine. :) I'll be changing that name, though. And me keeping him is contingent on good vet check including xrays.


    We've only been home for ~6hrs. So far, I'm utterly impressed. This boy is a blank slate - no one has worked with him at all, so he knows absolutely nothing. On the flip side, no one has messed up his training yet, either. From what I can tell, he has no baggage. I keep seeing little flashes of brilliance - there's clearly a lot going on upstairs. He has already figured out what the clicker means and mastered a default sit since we've been home. And I've barely heard a peep out of him. He hasn't pottied yet - it could be a long night waiting for him to go.

  4. The reason I'm holding off is that I have at least one trip coming up in the near future. I absolutely hate being dogless, but it turns out that one small advantage is the ability to travel more easily. I'm definitely away thru Aug 12, and found out yesterday that I *might* be out of the country for a month after that. So trying not to get my hopes up about any dogs currently available, because they could be gone. In part, I'm testing the waters now to see how often a dog that I'm truly interested in becomes available. This might dictate how picky I can be when the time comes.


    But honestly, they're looking for a specific type of home for a dog like Maissi and while those aren't completely uncommon they're also not a dime a dozen.

    Yes, I've got this on my side. In fact, this should apply to dogs in shelters, too, because any dog I'd be interested in will be too much for the average owner. And this *should* be immediately obvious to any shelter worker and potential adopter (unless they're just totally oblivious).


    Here's something else I have on my side: Last time I adopted a dog, I was a first-time owner and totally unproven. I would have had reservations about adopting a dog to me! This time, I have references out the wazoo. You want to talk to my agility instructor? Which one? How about the owner of the dog I currently run? Former landlord? Vet? Or even the shelter worker who adopted Kit to me? No problem - I'm in touch with all of those people and they're all on my side. Each and every one will attest that Kit was a dream dog and that I was as devoted to her as she was to me. I expect that this will be worth a lot.


    ETA: They're getting harder and harder to resist. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35598806

  5. In public shelters, "desirable" types (eg not bully and hound mixes; purebreds) tend to be snatched up really quickly before they hit the adoption area by rescues--and in this area

    Depends on where you are. Kit was in a public shelter. Even got returned there after a failed adoption. She was STILL there a week after I first met her (it took me that long to get up the nerve to say "yes"). Around here (southern CA), there seem to be plenty of large dogs including herding mixes languishing in shelters for weeks/months at a time. And if I need to go North to Oregon (land of border collies), I have a whole network of agility people there who would be delighted to help.


    To get one of these really "desirable" dogs, it really helps to be a shelter volunteer or associated with a rescue.

    I'm looking for a needle in a haystack. The chances that I'm going to find it in the shelter/rescue I choose to volunteer at are slim to none. I'd rather expand my search geographically to increase my chances. Besides, I DID fill out an application to foster at the local shelter. Any breed, any size, I don't care. It's been 8 weeks and I've fostered exactly zero dogs. So...


    Frogs & Dogs, I know you'd have to work out transport and you might have better luck finding something closer, but if you're interested you could definitely start talking to ABCR about either Maissi or whoever this foster gets next. Might be a good way of getting at least a semi-known quantity.

    I'm trying to hold off on contacting anyone until mid-August when I'll be ready. I don't want anyone to hold a dog that could otherwise start a life in a forever home. It's definitely hard, though! Thanks for posting - if you want to keep me in the loop as this foster gets dogs in the coming months, I'd appreciate that.

  6. I was at a disc dog competition over the weekend and the only truly wide chested dogs were the bulkier bully types. Several BC/BC mixes, whippets, etc that I wouldn't exactly call wide in the chest.



    Oh yes, a very wide chest is probably just as bad (if not worse) than a very narrow one. I ordered Helen King's book "What's your angle" last night. I'm eagerly waiting its arrival so I can learn more.


    Thanks, PSmitty. I saw Maggie on one of the many FB pages I've recently liked. She sounds cool. Doesn't Cate look amazing? She'll probably be gone by the time I'm ready, but *swoon*!


    TxMom, Maissi sounds awesome! I love it when rescues take the time to type out everything they know. You just get a much better picture of what you're getting into.

  7. ACK people used to tell me my first border collie's chest was too narrow.

    Many border collies have chests that conformation folks consider too narrow or angulation insufficient to be suited for the work they do.


    Oh believe me, I'm not one of THOSE people. In my 7 years of dog ownership, I never gave a single cent to AKC, and have no plans to do so in the future. I think the conformation ring is slowly ruining breed after breed, and as a biologist, I worry about the long-term effects of inbreeding.


    That said, a narrow chest seems like a bad thing for a sports dog. Think of a dog leaping for a frisbee and then landing. Distributing weight across a larger area is going to help prevent injury. In agility, the A-frame is notoriously hard on dogs with weak front ends. Lastly, I've read that a narrow chest can increase risk of bloat. Happy for others to chime in here with more specifics...


    Here's a pic of Kit on a contact. Note the chest width.



    And another.


  8. Yes, PSmitty, I'm open to shelter dogs as well as those in rescue. I'm also 100% open to mixes. It will still be over a month before I start a search in earnest, but here are a couple of dogs I've got eyes on:



    She sounds pretty awesome.



    I'm not convinced about physical structure - chest looks quite narrow.



    Interesting story.


    I've been watching the Adoptable Sport and Working Dogs page on FB, but haven't seen Molly. If she's still available, can you post a link please?

  9. I think I'm getting a clearer picture. Kit had very high toy drive - at 7mo (when I got her) nothing would make her disengage from a ball. It took me months to teach her that the ball was her reward for other stuff, and it was only hers if she could focus on something else and perform in its presence. She was not easily aroused, though - she was confident enough to ignore just about any kind of environmental trigger, and was especially good at doing so if her focus was elsewhere (toy, food, me). Starting this search is breaking my heart all over again, because it's making me realize just how special she really was.

  10. In my experience, one of the most telling clues that show the difference between arousal and drive is the dog's ability to return to a normal state of mind from that state.


    Arousal is going to cause chemicals to release in the dog's brain that will change the dog's state of mind, and the dog will not snap back from it immediately. You can see this in a lack of ability to carry out known cues, or lack of ability to settle, or sometimes even in displacement behaviors.


    With drive, the dog will be able to snap back right away, respond to known cues, settle down, and just return to a normal state of being.


    Sometimes arousal and drive can look the same on the surface. Example - dog stares intently at a tennis ball. But . . . can the dog disengage from the tennis ball to carry out a task in its presence? That sort of thing will help you to see the difference.

    Interesting. Scrolling up, I think I see a difference of opinions here. Previously, drive was defined as focus and intensity, and arousal as bouncing from one thing to another. Here the definition is nearly opposite - drivey dogs disengage from an object more readily, while aroused dogs don't. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding?

  11. There's some good facebook groups where they get dogs and post videos, etc of evaluating the dog. High drive dogs is another.

    Excellent! Looks like the majority of posts in this group are in CA, and many in southern CA, which is perfect! I currently live in Santa Barbara, so my new addition will get regular trips to the beach. My search officially starts on August 13th.


    ETA: Stumbled upon this video. Very helpful!

  12. If I was specifically looking for a sports prospect, I would go to a breeder.

    I appreciate this perspective, and most of the sports enthusiasts I know would agree. However, I am committed to go the shelter/rescue route now and into the future. Here's article listing some good reasons why: http://teamunruly.com/?p=3399. I'm fully aware that a similar article could be written from the opposite perspective. That's all I'll say about why - I'm more interested in having a conversation about how.


    Several people have said it's difficult to evaluate a dog in a shelter environment. I'm curious to hear perspectives on false negatives vs. false positives. In medicine, if you get a test for some disease, there's an error rate associated with the test. If you have the disease and the test comes back negative, that's a false negative. If you don't have the disease and the the test comes back positive, that's a false positive. The developers work hard to minimize the rate of false negatives, even if that means a higher rate of false positives, because it's worse to have a disease and not know than not have it and think you do. I'm wondering if this might apply to the task at hand. Shelters are stressy places. A lot of dogs aren't going to be themselves there. You might get a lot of false negatives - dogs who fail your temperament test but actually do have the temperament for sports. But I don't think you'd get a lot of false positives - dogs who pass your temperament test but actually don't have the temperament for sports. In other words, if they can hack it in the shelter, they can hack it anywhere. Thoughts?


    Thanks for the thoughts on drive vs. arousal.


    Re: Hunting/Herding crosses - they can be great, they can be super spazzy/aroused. I knew one that was, well, a bit nuts. It all depends on what genes the dog inherited and what the parents were like.

    It occurs to me that our definitions of the perfect sports dog might differ. Most people would describe Kit as "a bit nuts". In fact, a friend of mine liked to call her "your psycho dog". But she was nuts in all the best ways and none of the worst ones.


    Maralynn, can you share the names of those FB groups? Or PM me if you don't want to do so publicly.

  13. I want to hear more about arousal vs. drive. You both mentioned it, but I don't know the difference and therefore don't know what to look for.


    Also, Laurelin, it's interesting that you say next time you'd want a pure herder. One thing I liked about Kit is that she was very clearly a herding x hunting cross. The two breeds really balanced each other out, IMO. I can see how terrier x ACD could just multiply things, though.


    A few things that I loved about Kit that I'll be looking for again: Extreme food/toy drive. Confidence. Intensity. Loved all people, ignored most dogs. Bomb proof. Handler-focused. Great off leash. Goofy.


    And a couple of things I'd change about Kit if I had a magic wand:

    1. The shedding. OMG, you wouldn't think a smooth coat could shed that much.

    2. Separation anxiety. It was mild, so I don't have much to complain about, but it caused me some worry.

    3. Physical structure could have been better, quite possibly due to early spay (~5mo). Never caused a moment's trouble, though. Also would have preferred about 5lbs smaller (she was 40lbs).

  14. For those who have gone through this process before, I'd be curious to hear what you'd do differently (if anything) than last time. If you chose your shelter/rescue dog with sports in mind, did you get what you were looking for? If not, what were the subtle signs that you missed but should have picked up on? How exactly did you evaluate the dog (actions, not just criteria)? What tests did you perform on the dog, and/or what tests should you have performed? I'd like details because I'll be doing this in a few months. Also, anyone in the Southern California area who would like to help, please keep an eye out and contact me if you know of a sports prospect in need of a home. Thanks!


    For what it's worth, here's Kit's adoption story: As I said before, I did not get Kit with sports in mind, but all the right signs were there, if I had known what to look for. I called ahead, so when I got to the shelter, they brought her out on leash. She was *so* excited to meet me - like utterly out of control bouncy. She insisted on licking me all over. Once she got over the excitement of meeting me, she barked her head off at a man behind a fence. I thought for sure she hated men and this was fear/aggression, but it turned out she was barking to get his attention - he was her friend and she was asking him to come play. At the suggestion of a shelter employee, we went on a leash walk. She had no idea how to walk on a leash and covered at least 5X more ground than necessary to get from point A to point B. But that was because her focus was on me rather than on her surroundings - she was literally bouncing circles around me. Once we reached our destination, a grassy field, I pulled out a frisbee, which she chased with gusto (on leash). I pulled out treats and she went nuts. We were both covered in mud when we got back to the shelter. Because of her insanity, it took me a whole week to commit to adopting her, and I spent the next 6 months getting her to a point where she could go out in public. Admittedly, though, she was my first dog, so I really didn't know what I was doing.

  15. Congrats on the pup, Laurelin! And thanks for rescuing. You might remember me from another forum - GottaLuvMutts? It's been a LONG time since I've been around, but I stumbled onto this thread while googling this exact topic.


    The reason I'm googling this topic is extremely sad. I lost Kit (my first and only dog and a shelter rescue) about a month ago to cardiac hemangiosarcoma. She was only 7 years old and in perfect shape. We were one Q away from our NATCH. From the onset of symptoms to death was 8 days. Utterly tragic, and I don't know how I'll ever be anything but devastated about it.


    Anyway, it will be mid-August before I'm ready to start looking again, but I'm starting to poke my nose around shelters and petfinder for my next agility prospect. Anything but a rescue would be an absolute disgrace to Kit's memory - she was a living testament to the fact that a shelter dog can make a wonderful sports dog. I very much enjoyed the "Gone to the Dogs" article that someone posted early in this thread. Reading it made me realize how lucky I was to find her. I did not get Kit with agility (or even sports) in mind, but from the moment I met her, she ticked off every point mentioned in that article. She dragged me into agility, not vice versa. I'll consider myself extraordinarily lucky if I can find another dog that meets those criteria.

  16. Thank you, I never really considered this, but I could see how it would come in handy. Is there anything special to it or do I just say, "Okay" after I receive the behavior I want for the duration I want and then treat?


    That's pretty much it. Here are a couple of examples where it will come in handy to have a singe release cue:


    You're walking the dog and run into a friend, so you stop to chat. You put the dog in a down stay while you chat, so that he doesn't pull on the leash, sniff strangers, etc. If he doesn't have a single release cue, he's going to assume that any word that comes out of your mouth is his release, but you're just trying to have a nice chat with your friend.


    Your dog spies something really smelly and delicious a few feet away. You tell him to leave it. He's waiting for only one command (OK) instead of taking any little signal as an invitation to dig in.


    If you ever want to try out a sport, a single release cue is really helpful. I use "OK" as a release cue for contacts in agility, and also for start line stays. I proof contacts by teasing my dog with all kinds of other words, motions, and actions. I get right in her face and yell "O-B, O-C, O-D". I run around the agility barn and pretend I'm an ape. I keep running right past the contact full speed and depend on her to stop. She knows that all of this is just a great big joke. The ONLY word that means squat is "OK".

  17. I usually take stray dogs I find to the shelter. It's a well-run shelter where they will be treated with kindness and will not be PTS unless they're too unhealthy/aggressive to be adopted out. I figure the fine that the owners will have to pay to spring them might make them think twice about letting their dog wander again. And as a bonus, the shelter gets a much needed donation! I've always done this anonymously, so there's no chance that the owners will seek retribution for my actions.

  18. Looks like things are coming along well!


    I would suggest choosing a release word and sticking to it. Several times you just gave the command for whatever you wanted her to do next ("on", for example), or even her name as a release. If you work on a single release cue (I use "okay") that applies to all behaviors (sit, down, wait, whatever else), you'll thank yourself later. This is particularly important for impatient dogs or those without impulse control.


    I was impressed that she didn't pay any attention to the other dog in the room, and the other dog didn't butt in too much. In effect, the other dog is a distraction, and the pup is doing a great job at ignoring him. In the future, and especially if you're going to work on something hard or new, I'd suggest working away from him. Later you can bring him back in the room as a planned distraction.

  19. Most trials in my area are indoors, because we can't count on decent weather at almost any time of year. There was a question this winter of whether one trial would happen, because road conditions were predicted to be such that travel would be unsafe for some competitors. We were promised a full refund if the trial was cancelled, though it ended up taking place as planned.

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