Yoshi Training Diary - December 2006

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

Feedback is welcome:

Sun Dec 31
Well a new journey begins today as we drove home with Freckles now known as Trek.  She accepted all sorts of handling including a hip x-ray (which looked good), has a soft mouth, and seemed interested in learning, and most importantly got along well with Yoshi.

I had no idea that you could drive from Idaho to here all in one shot, but we did - took about 10 hr 45 min.  I think the stops were a total of an hour or so.  Trek must have felt like she was being kidnapped (well in a sense she was.)  Just about every time we took them out of the crates they were in a different state.

Thu Dec 28
We're leaving tonight for Redding to get the van from Terri's mom and the next day we'll head to Winnemucca, NV, and the next day we're off to Idaho.

This morning I mentioned to Yoshi: Do you wanna go get a sister?  He ran to the door.  Well, er, later today.

Hope Freckles works out.  I need to write down what I'm looking for and here's just as good as anyplace.

She's 2 so what we see is what we get.  This means a lot less guesswork.

Initial greeting and impression
This is what won Coe over and make her think to tell me about this dog.  I don't have Coe's email in front of me, but it was along the lines of taking the 2 stairs in one leap, bounding up into her lap and basically looked right at her saying "Hi, you'll do."  Coe was tempted to take her, but was more looking for a mellower boy and Kathleen indicated that Freckles might be a little much for her..  Coe immediately noticed the similarity in attitude to Cali and made a mental note to tell me about her.
- willingness to maintain eye contact and desire to DO something

Accept handling
   - paws
   - roll on back and hold down (some struggling is fine and even expected, just not serious biting)
   - how is she about being carried?

- does she stand square?  Some back easty-westy is not a disqualification - Cali had it and was fine - Front is much more a concern as they land hard on their front
- have someone walk her out away and watch her locomotion

Make a jump out of something.
 - how does her jumping style look?  Feet up in back or dragging behind.  Jumping style can be taught but a good foundation is always nice.  (Video it)

Get the tunnel out.
 - I don't care if she'll go through the tunnel as it's my job to teach her but is she afraid of it?

- make a sudden sound (drop something or hand clap) and see how she reacts
- turn on a dremmel, hairdryers or garbage disposal
- put on a hat or noisy jacket and see her response

 - conditioner to the clicker
 - by the way, does she chomp or polietely take the treat?  (Can teach but it's a hard habit to modify)
 - will she stand on a target or other weird surface?

Toy drive (just looking for basic interest)
 - does she like toys
 - will she interact with a person using a toy
 - any impulse to carry or fetch a toy
 - possessive of toy?

Bones and other valuables
- tolerant of person holding a bone for her to chew
- tolerant of person taking the bone away and then giving it back to them?

 - what does Yoshi think and what does she think of Yoshi?
 - do you think she'll eventually get used to telling him what to do?
 - does Yoshi bully her (a concern) - if he does, what's her response?

I'm assuming that she's crate and house trained and used to riding in cars, but not much of an issue if she wasn't.

Wed Dec 27
It feels strange not to have a second dog around, good thing we're going up to see Freckles as otherwise I'd be in danger of stealing Cooper permanantly and somehow I don't think that would go over well.  With any luck we'll both get females and all the dogs will get along and we can play dog round robin where we can pick any combination of the 4 and things will be fine.  (Well I can dream can't I?)

Mark came and got Yoshi again for another day of play.  He came back tired - hooray.

Tue Dec 26
We took Maddy home today at noon.  Right before we had one last incident of Yoshi biting at Maddy's ruff in what appears now to be a heavy handed correction.  It happened when Mark had walked in (as he was picking Yoshi up to go play at Cooper's house) and started to say hello to Maddy.  So he's starting the look like he's resource guarding people from other dogs (sort of like how Rosie does but not really).  I lifted him off by the scruff walked him away some (still holding him in the air) and put him down and started firmly lecturing him on how he needs to behave better (once again words don't matter so much as attitude).  In a second he chilled out but I was enjoying the peace between them.  It tells me that I have to watch out for any transistions as he doesn't yet handle them well.

Mark says that he and Cooper had a grand time racing around the yard and chasing squirrels and each other.  We're going to try to get them together a lot in the next couple of days as life will be different if we come back with another dog.

Mon Dec 25
It's evening now and it's been such a peaceful day (and last night).  After my little "pep talk" with Yoshi last evening he hasn't bothered her at all.  She's gone from being a destabilizing influence (if you can call it that) to a calming presence.  I can give them both treats at the same time.  And when I'm working on one's nails the other will come up to watch.  I'm almost about to ask if she can stay longer as we're not leaving till the 28th to go get Freckes/Trek.  But I was hoping to steal Cooper for a bit to let them spend some time together before new doggy shows up.

He was staring at her this morning but didn't seem to be in an aggressive way.  Maybe more like a typical herding dog way.  I could try to explain to him that he's a loose eyed breed but I don't think I'd get anywhere and when he's herding or chasing squirrel he doesn't stare excessively and he can't stand it any longer and races around in a circle.  It's funny thinking of him as the great squirrel hunter.  "There's one!!" And race off in the other direction to circle around.  Some hunter. Wish he'd do that when he visually locks on to a dog.  Nope, in that case he wants to race straight up to them.

Took Yoshi for a dog park perimeter walk.  He met a Newfie and a Bernese Mtn Dog, and was doing well until a couple of young Pit Bulls ran up (boisterous Pit play) and this rankled him some so I walked him a ways off till the Pits had run on, then was able to get closer.  On thing that took me by surprise is that a needle nose Greyhound with a blanket on stuck her/his nose through the fence and Yoshi nipped her/him on the nose.  Granted it wasn't very polite. but now that I recall it, I laugh.  He didn't seem terribly threatened and he's met Donna's Greyhound Shadow before and was ok.

There were a number of dogs being walked on leash in the area so I had a couple of opportunities to kneel down and watch a dog walk by somewhat in the distance.  Because it seems to help me communicate I spoke in long sentences that he has no hope of understanding, but seems to put me in the right frame of mind to get something across.  Kinda the same mantra as before: <blow on him as he's barking, he then looks at me> "I know this is hard for you, but I need you to chill and not freak out."  I'm holding him by the collar and petting him when he settles down and telling him he's a good boy.  We continue to watch the dog.  Sometimes I'll give him treats, other times not as it seems too disruptive.  Did this probably about three or more times.  I think the kneeling down (Trish King taught me that) let's him feel less vunerable and the calm of my voice helps him focus.  I think he's honestly trying once he realizes what I want.  This is reminding me of a movie and I can't remember what it is where one character is helping the other stop freaking out.  This might be more effective than yelling or correcting him (though I was certaining doing that with his interactions with Maddy) as it doesn't have the same emotional upset compounding factor.  If you will.  In other words yelling can make a dog more upset rather than calming them down.  Though sometimes it does get their attention.  I usually just use the word "HEY!" for that purpose.

I've been working on Maddy's nails as she needs them done in the worst way.  I did one pass through and now am revisiting the worst ones multiple times.  I did all this with the manual clippers, but I think now that they're almost to the point of just being excessively long I'll have to see what she thinks of the dremmel.  Yoshi needs his nails done so I'll do his first and see if she remains anywhere near or races out of the room.

Sun Dec 24
What a very interesting and enlightening day.

First of all I woke up, and realized I was being silly worrying about Yoshi snd Freckles.    They'll probably get along just fine and Yoshi's initial response will likely be similar to his response to dogs he likes at the dog park.  Can we take 'em home?  Please please please?  I'm sure I'll know if the first five seconds of their meeting if they'll be ok.

Had Yoshi and Maddy interact with Yoshi wearing the muzzle. This time I put the larger size 5 one on.  It technically is too large for him, but it feels less confining to him and he doesn't look quite the hangdog with it on.  Though he still sulks.  But there was one interaction in the backyard where he could have easily tried to latch on to her and wasn't able to so it may prove to be one way to show him that there are other less violent ways to interact with dogs.

I later took the muzzle off and watched out for any grudge bearing.  No sign of any and he even walked past her.  I told him he was a good boy.

Again I wouldn't do this with just any dog.  Maddy is the mistress of calming signals and she has that thick Labrador skin (in more ways that one) especially around her neck which is where he tries to latch on to usually unsuccessfully.

They had walked into the living room and I was in the kitchen as they were walking back, Yoshi went after her.  I went in there and told him to knock it off (he hadn't made contact yet.  I could tell that he wasn't completely gone mentally though was heading in that direction and I still could [mentally] reach him.  I physically got hold of him and shook him some and again told him to stop.  He half heard me, but was still focused on her and tried to go towards her and I shook him again by the scruff/collar looking at him "Hey I mean it, knock it off."  He heard me and disengaged from being [mentally] locked on to her and stopped trying to get at her.  Good boy.  He heard that too.

[later again]
Maddy has a growth on her eye lid that is going to likely be taken off when Jennie gets back.  It causes her eye to weep and it does look someting like the Evil eye.  It took us until now to figure out that's part of what Yoshi is reacting to.  He was in my lap and weirding out about her again and Terri cleaned her eye off some and Yoshi seemed to relax some.  Hi demeanor is different depending on what side of her face he is on.  Tolerance to diversity just doesn't come naturally to him.  Good thing dogs don't see the whole spectrum of color that we do or we'd have even more work to do.

Took Yoshi for a short walk around the block (about all I was physically up to).
I've decided that I need to expect more of him and it could be summed up as "I know this is hard for you, but I need you to hold it together."  Saw one dog and even though I saw them in time to get across the street I really didn't have time to properly set up to tell him to maintain so he had a small minor meltdown on the corner (the other dog was spazzing out too).  We then continued down the street and there was another dog that I again saw before Yoshi did.  We crossed the street and this time I found a driveway and kneeled down in front on him and had one hand on each side of his head a hold of his collar.  (Yes I know this telegraphs a lot but it's certainly worth trying.)  He sees the dog and tries to flip out.  "Chill." <blow on his face> he looks at me.  "Good boy."  (repeat about three times).  I have no idea if we're getting anywhere but it's a heck of a lot quieter.  This time I hadn't put on his Gentle Leader so I wasn't able to pull up with steady pressure which is highly effective and tells me that it's still quite useful.

While writing the above Maddy noticed that Yoshi wasn't in his snuggler at my feet, but just beside it so she walks right beside him and gets in the snuggler.   No response from Yoshi.  Ok Maddy I'm done worrying about you.  Nice to know that one dog around here trusts me managing the other dogs around here.

[from an email to Kathleen]
Funny I was just about to write this in his diary.  I think I'm being silly and worrying too much.  I know when I'm walking him around the dog park (on the outside of it) he'll meet a dog through the fence and the response is clearly: "Can we take her home?  <play bow>  Can we?  <play bow> Can we? Pleeeeeese?"  I'll likely know in less than five seconds.

Yoshi is 3 and I've had him since he was 8 months.  He lived with Cali till April '05 and he's been an only dog ever since and it's really not his thing.  I try and get him and his best friend Cooper together 2-3 times a week and he doesn't understand why Cooper can't come live with us.

He's completely different with Corgis and Border Collies, though he has had issues with easily intimidated corgis.  Freckles doesn't sound like she's in this category.  And Yoshi is not a strong Alpha.  In fact he doesn't want to be an Alpha at all.

Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to discriminate on gender at all save for finding the smell of intact animals intriguing.

I think the issue between him and the Lab is that he doesn't know how to handle Maddy's deferral to him.  He never had the experience of another dog deferring to him and he's always had trouble with it and I don't know how to teach him really.  Beyond teaching him basic dog politeness of "Don't stare" and don't attack a dog that has deferred to you.

The muzzle worked fine once and I'll have to try it again today.  He didn't seem to hold any grudges when the muzzle came off.  Trish King has used muzzles to let aggressive dogs have the experience of playing together safely.  Controversial, but I think a good thing to show them there are other ways to interact.  I would use basket muzzles instead of the clamp shut kind as then they can breath, bark and eat and pretty much just be dogs.

I'm sure we'll work this out and in either case we'll come up to let them meet on the 30th.  If for some reason he or I don't think he's ready, I'll plan to come up in a couple of months via Alaska Air as I could use the miles, and they're great with animals either in the cabin or in the temperature controlled hold.

Sat Dec 23
We've been having a series of small earthquakes on the Hayward fault centered in Berkeley which is right near us.  While this is good as it relieves pressure on the fault, it could be a precursor to a much larger one, so I need to run out and get an anchor for the heavy book shelf that's here in the office.

Still watching Yoshi and Maddy closely.  When Terri left the house one an errand, both dogs walked to the door.  Then Maddy turned around and from the looks of it was trying to get out of Yoshi's way. Right then he appeared to get an adrenalen burst and lunged at her neck trying to bite down (she's a sturdy Labrador, so while I don't let him abuse her, he's unlikely to hurt her.)  While he was trying to bite down (and growling fiercely) I picked him up by his back legs which is how your supposed to break up dog fights and I usually never do as I prefer to grab at the back of the neck, which I've been told is risking a bite.  That got his attention (I had him airborne and upside down - though I had to take a step away to get him to stop trying to get at her.

I now have him on leash in the office and Maddy is hiding in the crate.  This time I didn't throw him in the crate as I wanted to work on this, but Maddy is wisely not so inclined. 

In general it seems to be transistions as they are usually fine with each other.  It mostly seems when Maddy panics a bit and tries to get away  by walking rapidly by Yoshi which elicits a reaction.  We can work on this by having both dogs on leash and walking her rapidly by him (we'll have him on a gentle leader.)

He snapped at her and he got lifted by the scruff and crated.

What's interesting is that I'm in the middle of a nasty cold and can't yell.  Yelling seems ineffective anyway so this has been a good experience.


Some more experiments.
Sitting with Maddy in the kitchen.  Terri went and let Yoshi out of his crate and put him on leash.  I then sat with them both initially one on each side then let Yoshi go over.  Spent about 20 minutes like this and ended on a good note and put Yoshi back in the bedroom.


Put a basket muzzle (the size 4 this time, he's sort of inbetween 4 and 5 so I have both) on Yoshi and let him interact with Maddy in the backyard.  Such a pitiful hang dog, yet he can bark so he's not completely stiffled, but this has really taken the wind out of his sails.  He seems to think that since his jaws are restricted that his whole body is and he's moving really carefully and stiffly.  Maddy is keeping a careful eye on him but despite his moving stiffly (which should be a warning sign) she seems to realize something is different.  Took them inside and Maddy was fine with him around even walking side by side into close quarters situations (I set these up) where he would have reacted even earlier today.

The muzzle seemed to have a calming effect.  I took the muzzle off and now have him on leash and he's now dozing at my feet.

And Maddy, the good sport, is resting peacefully at Terri's feet.

So while this is all progress I'm now wondering if bringing Freckles (who I hope to call Trek) into this situation right now may not be fair to Freckles.  I mean yes, he's far better to corgis, but he's clearly not yet stable.  Maybe I should give his treatment and training a couple of more months.  I'll ask Kathleen what she thinks.

He now has been taking 5mg of Prozac for 6 weeks (started Oct 31), and is now also taking Shen Calmer and L-Theanine.  I could up his dosage to 10mg (he littermate is taking that) but that's a little more complicated for me logistically.  Or I could consider switching him over to Clomicalm.  It's a shame as the Prozac clearly helps him some and the Shen Calmer seems to help too.  (didn't notice any difference when I added the L-Theanine).  In fact, a couple of the issues this morning were before I'm had a chance to give him his Prozac (though he had had the Shen Calmer and the L-Theanine).  I'll have to talk to Dr. Williams and see what she thinks.

Fri Dec 22
It feels so strange but I'm realizing the more I micromanage Yoshi's interactions with other dogs the better he is.  Recently I've made all of his dog greetings save for Cooper on leash and that seems to make things go smoother.  We have Maddy, Jennie's sweet senior labrador, over for a couple of days and the initial greeting was on leash.  I did later have him off leash and Maddy is a master of calming signals but she is bigger than he is.  So he did take one opportunity to growl and try to latch on to her neck.  Fortunately I was there are watching and immediately grabbed him by the scruff and lifted him to him crate.  I then brought him out fairly soon after that as I wanted to work on this, and had him on leash,  but they both seemed uncomfortable so I let Yoshi go back to his crate (and I closed the door).

It's like he wasn't comfortable with her deferring to him and felt he needed to demonstrate his authority by bullying.  Does he suck as an Alpha Dog?  Oh yes.

Wed Dec 20
Well I've pretty much decided on Freckles.  If Elizabeth finds a workable way to get Violet out here then I have someone in mind who I think would be an excellent home for her.  I need to float the idea to them before I go mentioning any names.

I called Tim and spoke to him about Page the dog he has available.  He thought I should follow my instinct as a year from now I would still be wondering "What if?"  Page, while a great dog, is a finished champion and low to the ground and heavier in bone.  He reassured me that she won't have any problem finding a good hom and not to worry.

So it's still a road trip in winter to Idaho.  Guess I need to start provisioning the car to avoid showing up on national news. :)

Tue Dec 19
I just saw a photo of Violet at 10 months and I'm hoping to see a more recent photo of her.
I'm really now torn between Freckles and Violet.  If getting Violet is at all workable it world be financially advantageous, but Freckles is closer and I could go see her right now (unless there's a storm.)  I wish I could just see them briefly - then I would know right off.

So to fly up to Boise would run around 220 (southwest just raised their prices - drat)
To Burlingame will definietely be higher.  Just checked it's not dramatically higher just dramatically longer and there are no non-stops.
I also just noticed that I can get to Boise via Alaska Air so I would be more inclined to do that so I can get the miles and so that I could take a dog back if I chose. 

I think for this second it's still a road trip.  I  may change my mind tomorrow .

Dogwalk to look for dogs.  Suns out so even though it's the middle of a weekday we have good odds if we hang around the local park.
Sure enough saw 4 dogs on walks.

- Brindle coated dog that resembled Jesse, walking towards us.  I saw the dog first and moved about 30 feet away - he reacted when he saw the dog, and didn't want to stop when I told him not to though he did dampen his response some.
- Medium sized black dog across the street moving away - no reaction
- Light colored Aussie.  I saw the dog before him (actually I did in all cases).  Stopped 30 feet away to let the dog pass in front of us - no reaction though he bristled a little.
- Followed the above dog until time for us to turn home but I saw a black Lab across the street diagonally so we paused to let Yoshi see the dog from a distance.  The Lab moved further away to the opening of a store and we crossed.  No reaction. We crossed again to the same corner that the dog was on.  The lab started to bark in a friendly way which normally would have set Yoshi off.  No reaction.  We maybe getting somewhere.

Though the trouble is that the fact that his reactions are dampened makes him look even more crazy when he does.

Cathy and Jesse were over in the evening.  When she knocks or rings the door bell I put Yoshi into the crate in the living room which makes things go SO much more smoothly.  We then let him out when things have calmed down.  The evening went fine except right at the end when Jesse was on the way to the door to leave and trotted behind the sofa that Yoshi and I were on.  He immediately started growling and lunging (Well sort of as I had hold of him.)  It's like he was just reacting to the motion and the transistion.  This is a dog he knows and just spent about 2-3 hours with.  It's like it's an endocrine response and nothing to do with his forebrain (the trained part) at all.  This would dovetail with what Joy Mason said.  It's not something that he has good control over.  It seems very much a biochemical issue. 

Though I still haven't had his eyes checked.  Will do that when I have more money again.

Kathleen just sent me some great photos of Freckles going in on leash to their pheasant pen.  I had asked her how she thought Freckles would react to birds since Cooper lives with 20 birds some of which are loose in the house.  Though Freckles was intrigued with the birds - especially when they got very excited and tried to flush, in the photos she was not dragging Kathleen around, just more seemed interested.  I think it's pretty clear that while initially she shouldn't be trusted with the birds unattended, that she could definitely be taught that the birds were family members and not prey.  I'm constantly amazed that Yoshi doesn't react to the birds yet Elizabeth has a parrot that her dogs are afraid of, so he treats birds in the house differently than birds outside (which he does chase).

Just to complicate things, Cali's breeder Bill called me to say he'd mentioned our dog search to Tim and Tim does have a retired Champion that he needs to place.  I wish I'd heard of this a month ago as now I'm intrigued with Freckles and also Violet, so I think I'm going to pursue those options first even if Tim is local and it would be way easier.  (Absurdity is something of an attraction for me I must admit - I went to Edinburgh alledgely for a party once - of course I have lifelong friendships from that gathering, so my love of the absurd just gets reinforced.).  I need to let Tim know about this decision.
Mon Dec 18
I got a surprise from Diane who's also a student of Joyce's.  Turns out she was taping one of our herding sessions:

Diane Blackman wrote:

>you can get the original full size from here:
Hi Diane,

What a surprise, I didn't even realize you were taping. You chose the
part where we actually looked decent. as opposed to the part where I got
knocked over by a sheep. (And I and likely Joyce thank you for taking
the audio out. :) You can do an audio on it the future when you let me
know ahead of time so I know not to swear. :)

Though it's a little misleading saying he's just getting started on
herding since this is likely the 15th time or so that he's been on
sheep. I'm the beginner - it's only been my 3rd time.

She's only going to leave the full size one on her site for a couple of days, so I'll likely download it and put it on frap.
Now it's at http://www.frap.org/Images/Herding/yoshi-herding-SantaRosa-17Dec06.mov

Went in to the backyard and played toy fetch for a while.  We switched to the ball for a short while but it doesn't hold his attention as well I've noticed  I can get him to hold the tyoy food pounch for a second or two before I grab it, but I haven't pushed on it much since he's just getting interested in the game.

I've noticed that when he's herding he can take a lot stronger directions/cues than he could otherwise.  His drive is strong enough to overcome his lack of confidence and he's gained a lot of confidence in the past weeks.  So if you have to yell or wack the ground, it may startle him but it doesn't make him quake in fear.  In fact yesterday he ran past me at least once when I was trying to get him to stop.  It's was very much "Sorry can't hear you I gotta get this sheep."  Wacking the ground with the stick does work though.
When I want him to stop I nold the stick horizontally in front of me with both hands.  I'm trying to learn to say "Stop" instead of "Wait" as Joyce thinks that's more correct and stronger.  I think for a little while it will be Stop - Wait (new cue - old cue).  Of course the trick is to get any command to work when there's sheep flying by.

Sun Dec 17
[after herding]
I again have a deliriously happy, tired, filthy dog.  It's such a relief to see him in such bliss as I usually seem him looking stressed unless he's chasing a squirrel or Cooper or if he's dozing on his back or in my or Terri's lap.  Unfortunately I've never seen him appear truely happy with agility which is a shame.

And yes, the Keens now have mystery mud on their soles.  This was also the first time using the wand I bought which looks suspiciously like a cane for the blind.  In fact given that it has a red tip on the end I'm sure that it actually is one.  Herding for the Blind.  Has a ring to it I must say.  Anyway because it's white, Yoshi seems to see it better than the dark colored wands.

Herding wise I need to work on getting him to slow down and he's running the sheep around too much.  I looked at his nationals herding DVD and there he is moving the sheep in a controled way so this may change when we get out of the round pen and in to the bigger pen.

While waiting for one of our turns, I spoke to Elizabeth on the phone to see if there were any candidates who wanted to come live out here.  The last time we talked about it I was just looking for a house manager, not an agility dog.  Now that it's pretty clear that for the foreseeable future Yoshi won't be doing agility, it would be nice to have a house manager that also wants to do agility.  She's pondering that right now as they would like to shrink the size of their doggy household anyway.

And to complicate things, I just found out that a dog that I love named Lia (Golden Road's Silver Medley) is being bred.  So now I have 3 choices to agonize over.  Kathleen's dog Freckles.  A dog from Elizabeth (likely Violet).  Or the possibility of a puppy who doesn't exist yet.  The first 2 are 2 years old and could start training right away.  Right now my thinking is that I should go see Freckles and see if she looks like she would like to train to be a performance dog.  If not then perhaps go to Vermont and look at the dog that Elizabeth comes up with and if nothing there then wait to see how the puppies come out.  The only thing about that plan is that a dog from E wouldn't  cost any further money beyond a plane ticket as I have already purchased a "player to be named later" from her, but Coe says Freckles reminded her of Cali's temperament and I love that "Let's go do/eat something fun.  NOW!" look on life.  Although I wouldn't mind if Freckles was less sniffy than Cali was.

Sat Dec 16
Haven't gotten too many responses to our House Manager ad except for all the folks saying that if they were a dog they'd sure apply.  There are a couple (well more than 2) dogs in Idaho that I'm planning on going up to take a look at Dec 29-30.  I keep wondering if there's something obvious that I've missed locally as it seems odd that I'm not getting more responses.  Is Yoshi that terrifying?  Hardly.  Seems as if no one has any dogs they're considering retiring from the show ring as the 1-3 age range is usually dogs that have been held back for the show ring and then something didn't quite work.

This shouldn't be this hard really, but I may not be asking the right people in a way.  I've mainly asked around at agility trials and on performance lists (and corgi-l).  I'm thinking I need to make a list of the local breeders and check with each one individually.

Herding tomorrow - I'm looking forward to it.  I'm a little worried as I just bought shoes specifically for standing around in a sheep pasture (Keens).  I could have gotten Wellingtons but I grew up with something similar and my feet would always sweat a lot in them so I really didn't want to go there.  Plus if I wanted to I could wear the Keens elsewhere.  Well if I took the sheep poop off.

Thur Dec 14
I swear I keep waffling on this.  A really solid puppy wouldn't probably be too influenced by him.  I should stop worry about puppy vs. adult and just see what temperament I can find.

After a fair bit of eyes wide open soul searching, I'm now thinking that our lives are sort of intrisically corgi sized.  Though I have a house it's only on 1/8 of an acre and BCs live life large and 1/8 of an acre seems a little confining even though I could certainly come up with plenty of mental stimulation, so I'm thinking that if I wanted to go that way that I should look into a well bred Aussie, but I'm still going to try to find the right Corgi. 

Wed Dec 13
So I was up last night and this morning thinking and worrying about a BC puppy vs an adult.
So many considerations.  Now I'm thinking that we really need an adult so that Yoshi can't teach a puppy any insecurities.  Though honestly if we got a stable puppy she wouldn't be so influenced by him.  But it would likely be a lot easier to start with an adult especially since I really do want a puppy out of Mr Bee next year and if I got this puppy I wouldn't be able to afford it.  (Plus getting a puppy now would wack the learn-to-backcountry-ski plan and that's really important to me.)

So I need to find a rescue in this area that would work.  Doesn't have to be a BC either though one that looks like one would help a lot.  A BC would relish the job which kinda argues for one.  Bill P also has Libby a corgi that he might rehome next year and she would make a good sargent too.  Though two female corgi's under one roof can be a bit much at times.

The Shen Calmer did seem to mellow out Yoshi a fair bit-almost too much.  We'll see over time if he gets used to it.

I took him over to Cooper's and they spent the afternoon and early evening together playing, racing around, snoozing, playing with toys and just being general fools as usual.

Very interesting development:  I heard from my ex-partner Coe who was Cali's co-owner and now has a corgi from Kathleen Mallory in Idaho.  When she went to get her dog, there was a female corgi there who jumped in her lap and instantly and confidently claimed her in that of course you love me sort of way, plus she obviously loved to jump and was very agile.  Coe was there to pick a male up but this dog reminded her of Cali's confidence so she mentioned her to me.  I wasn't looking for a dog at the time so filed the email away and then promptly forgot about it (and breeder's don't keep dogs that they're not showing for very long before rehoming them.)  Well Coe had the insight to realize that I'd probably forgotten about this and rementioned the dog even though this dog wouldn't be a puppy any longer.  "Would I be interested if that dog was still available?"  Oh yes.  Very much so.  Even though she's in Idaho?  Yes.

You see Coe knows what Cali's personality was like and would recognize it instantly.  It's like having someone prescreen dogs for you.  Of course we don't know if that dog is still even available and Coe just sent Kathleen email asking.

I've been wanting a corgi puppy from Mr. Bee but that dog doesn't even exist yet, even in gestation.  Though I'd probably have to give in and get a slightly older dog than a puppy (something I swore I wouldn't do again), if I got one that was confident and chaos tolerant, it might work.

At the gym I was mentally composing a silly wanted ad for such a dog.  Maybe I'll circulate a less silly version if need be.  Or maybe I'll just circulate the as is version.

Save me from getting a Border Collie!  (You have approx 9 weeks)
WANTED:   Female Corgi House Manager.  We have an opening for a Benevolent Dictator to run a household.  Must be confident and able to resolve disagreements with non-violent style and grace.  Hell on Wheels Bitches are certainly considered, though please keep in mind that we are seeking a leader who is fair rather than The Canine Devil Wears Prada.  Must take competent direction and leadership from the humans in the house though questioning authority is not a disqualification.  Features are a take charge manner, yet able to be friendly to her underlings.  Intelligence is a must as well as excellent physical health.  Love of chaos is required.  Major pluses are speediness and love of agility and problem solving.  Being cuddly is a plus though not a strict requirement.

Other duties as necessary: compete at agility trials sometimes at a national level.  Possible other functions: obedience, rally, advanced clicker training workshops, and taking part in hair-brained doggy mind games that her wannabe behaviorist human has dreamed up.  Herding is handled by another member of the household though may be made available if desired. Travel in well appointed crate is required though all expenses (within reason) are covered.

Being fired from previous jobs is not a disqualification.  If you've been fired for being too bratty, too bossy, too smart, or too active, we want to talk to you.  Rescues of solid temperamant are certainly considered.

Age is negotiable though we would expect around 1-3 years.  Confident puppies who promise not to learn bad habits from the other canine(s) in the household (there is one full time resident and one part time and often visitors).  This job is likely too demanding for most seniors and we would like you to be able to perform the job for many years to come.

Disqualification's are fear and anxiousness as those duties are already covered by the other household member.  Aggression is a no go.

Pembrokes are preferred, but light boned Cardigans will also be considered.

Candidates should be on the west coast or at least the western states as interviews will be in person.  If you already reside in Northern California you will be transported to our house so you can meet the other full time canine resident.  Otherwise one of the humans will come out to meet with you.  Relocation expenses will be reimbursed.

We do not discriminate on color.  Standard coat type preferred simply out of practicality.

Salary is excellent. Paid in treats (toys, games, scritches too) and inversely commensurate to waistline.

Tue Dec 12
It rained all last night and Yoshi is racing out to pee and then racing back in.  Silly double coated dog - like you even notice the rain really.

We continue to conspire against our antihero...

Help!  I'm falling for a Border Collie puppy.  Well actually more than one: http://www.bordercollie.tv/webcam.html
I've been corresponding with Karen Moureaux the breeder of Contact Point Border Collies telling her about our search for a house manager.  Now a puppy would not be ideal in that it would be a while before she would be in charge, but last time at herding Yoshi was nipped by a 15 week old female BC and he instantly deferred, so it honestly wouldn't be too long.  And she would no doubt make his life a living hell which he kinda deserves in a way. :)

Of course the one that has my heart is the one that is struggling.  If you look at the cam most of the time you will see 5 puppies but there are actually 6.  One, that she calls Prof Plum, is being tube fed every 2 hours.  She can nurse, but gets pushed out of the way by the larger puppies.  The one that is probably the most appropriate for us is Mrs White who often is crawling on top of all of the puppies (and probably will be a real handful.)  But if Prof Plum pulls through and develops normally physically and socially (she often segregates herself now which is not a good sign if it were to continue) she likely would be a good size for us.  Karen says she's gaining weight every day.  I hope she pulls through whether or not she's involved in our household or not.

I need to write up Yoshi's Hollistic Vet appt but first...

I've been watching the interactions of the 7 day old BC puppies on the cam and they are already developing som interesting relationships.  In particular is Mrs. While (lots of white on her face) and another puppy, seem very fond of crawling around on top of each other.  Trading off who's on top but still remaining close.  In contrast Prof Plum is very much aloof and when close to the other puppies, moves further away.  Wait PP just moved closer.  Then crawled further away again.  The other don't obviously push her away but they don't seem to interact much yet anyway.  It's possible that the other pup with Mrs. White is either Mrs. Peacock or Mr Green (can't see the back legs and that's how I can tell the difference.  If it's Mrs. Peacock then she might also be a good choice for us as she'll let Mrs White push her around then do whatever she wants anyway.  This is reaching but that's possibly showing good frustration tolerance.

Took Yoshi to Creature Comfort Holistic Vet Center where he got lots of attention and scritches.  Dr Kristen Williams took a very thorough history of his (they also have the Park Centre records too) and gave him accupunture and I took photos though the needles are the same color as his fur so they don't show up well.  He was fine about having the needles inserted and she left them in for about 10 minutes while she researched her recommendations.  He quieted down and lied down and rested.  It truely did seem to calm him until he heard another dog and then started to bark.  He stood up and they lied down to bark almost as if he was too tired to stand.

Her recommendations
 - Shen Calmer - an herbal mixture for calming and anxiety  (reputed to not induce drowsyness which is what I experience with Pet Calm).
  1/8 tsp each meal for 5 days
  1/4 tsp each meal afterwards
 - Back Flower Essences (I have those already)
  Aspen, Vine, Holly, Chestnut Bud (1 drop of each in waterbowl daily
- L-Theanine (Suntheanine) (100 mg)
- Comfort Zone with DAP (dog appeasing phermone) - a plug in
- contiinue Prozac for now

Mon Dec 11
I was out of town visiting my parents in Seattle.  I got my dog fix by spending time with my brother's two Bernese Mountain Dogs.  They're wonderful dogs and I'd by happy to have one if they'd only live longer.  They're seniors at 7 and live usually 7-10 years.  i work so hard on training my dogs, that's just not long enough for me (though I did lose Cali at 9 but that was a rare thing and I was competing with her through 8 years old.)

Yoshi and Cooper got together yesterday though Cooper had been to an agility fun match and was pretty tired.

For dinner we played fetch with the rabbit fur pouch in the kitchen.

Thu Dec 7
Uh-oh.  Cheryl in Ventura just posted about a rescue corgi that she had that would make a good agility prospect and is a Bossy Female.  She's being rehomed as she fought with the alpha bitch in the house though Cheryl says that she gets along with her 3 (one or more is female).  Interesting.  I've sent her email about it.  My concern is that she might fight with Yoshi, and I do want a puppy next year.

Wed Dec 6
Dog park walk.  He still is lunging (3x) in the first 10 minutes then seems to settle down.  This seems to be a pattern.  Wonder if I should just take him out and run him around some to get him a little tired, but I know from taking him running in the past that even though the run was good for him it didn't seem to reduce the reactiveness.  Maybe it would now.

Got him home just in time for Mark to come by and whisk him away to "hunt" for squirrels with Cooper in Cooper's backyard.

To continue his full day, took him to watch agility class at Sharon's.
Same routine.  He barked and growled initially but then settled down though he's still very suspiscious of Cruiser the Cocker.
When they moved up to the upper field we went up on the embankment and he was able to relax enough to play with his rabbit fur toy.  I'd put it on the ground (or toss it a short distance) and he'd pick it up and put it in my hand.  i then opened up the velcro enclosure and gave him a treat.  And repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.  I'm thrilled.  He's still not relaxed enough to chew a bone and still growls when a dog is playing in a dark part of the field's side area.  I really do need to get his eyes checked.

Sharon very kindly said that if I wanted to, I could take him to the lower field while they're up in the upper field, close the gate and work on some jumps.  Cool - maybe we'll do that next time. 

Tue Dec 5
I went and stole Cooper at noon so the boys could spent the afternoon together.

I just found the most fascinating sounding book on Amazon.  I was searching for "stockdog" and what matched was a primarily about humans book called Biology of Violence: How Understanding the Brain, Behavior, and Environment Can Break the Vicious Circle of Aggression by Debra Niehoff.  She talks some about herding dogs and how it's a useful behavior even though it's origin is aggressive.  i'm so far behind on my reading that I'm just going to add it to my wish list but I don't see how I'll ever get to it.

One thing she says in passing is that a typical punishment for human prisoners is solitary confinment which increases violent behavior.  Wonder if that's true of dogs too.

Sun Dec 3

(Just so I can keep track - I trimmed his toenails)

[after herding]
I have one filthy, smelly, tired, deliriously happy dog.  It's like he's just come out of a closet swaggering "I'm a ranch dog, this is who I am."  (Never mind that he of course is going to expect to sleep on the bed tonight - I'll try and wipe off the sheep poop from his neck first.)

What really intrigues me is that he seems fairly relaxed in the environment at Joyce's.  He did fine herding at Debbie's but he was still uncomfortable around the other dogs.  And he was pretty much always stressed in the agility environment.  This time except for a few growls and pausing while working in the pen to bark at a passing dog, he doesn't seem to mind the other dog's much.  Maybe it's that I'm less stressed.  Maybe it's that it's mostly just herding dogs around though Lee has her Boston Terriers out, but maybe their black and white coloring makes them funny looking Border Collies in his eyes.  But he's growled and barked more than once at a Sheltie and he nicely said hello to one today.

We're working in the round pen so I can catch up to him in skills then after a few times we'll move to the larger arena (ulp).  I'm just thrilled that I can work in the round pen without getting dizzy.  A few months ago I would have, but that MS symptom seems to have receeded.

Sat Dec 2
Worry.  Border Collie rescue approved our (ok, my) application.  I was absolutely honest in saying that I didn't know if a BC was right for us, but that Yoshi had been bugging me for one for months.  Maybe they noted that I do agility so dogster would have an outlet and also that I know what I would be getting into.  Wish I was a fly on the wall for that reading of the application.  Here's there email with my application answers at the end. My application is in HTML Form format so their questions are abbreviated into form variables (I've expanded some of them for clarity).  If you want to see the actual application it's at: http://bcrescue.dogsaver.org/

Thank you for submitting your application to Border Collie Rescue of Northern California.  The written phase of your application has been approved.  Your next step is to visit our website and contact the person listed with the dog(s) you are interested in.  They will screen all applications and decide on the best possible match for their foster dog.  Please note:  Even if you've listed a dog that interests you on your application, we will not contact you.  We prefer that you initially contact the foster family.  If you don't find a dog that interests you, please check back often as we get new dogs in all the time.  Your application will remain on file with us indefinitely so if you see a dog that interests you at a later date, there is no need to reapply unless your information has changed.
Thank you for thinking rescue first.
Border Collie Rescue of Northern California

> Your BlueMail form has been completed, following are the results:
>     Field Value
>     visitor_name        Ellen Clary
>     Adult-family-members        2 women
[some stuff deleted]
>     Occupation        Computer System Administrator
>     Work-Phone
>     Why-a-BC        My Welsh Corgi Yoshi has been bugging me for one for
> months, and we are feeling the loss of our female Corgi house
> manager.  He wants a boy playmate and I want a girl to be in charge.
> (I'm open to whatever gender works.)This probably isn't enough space
> to write all the considerations (email me and I'll elaborate all you
> like) and I'm not sure a BC is a good fit for us or not (I'm hoping
> you'll be able to give me your opinion on this), but we're great dog
> owners so I thought I'd fill this out so you all have it on file.
>     What-training-will-you-give        I mostly do agility, but I excel at
> behavioral training.  Though honestly my corgi is currently so high
> maintenance I think a lower maintenance BC would be a boon (if such
> is even possible).My corgi is doing herding so that's also a
> possibility, and I'm a regular at Oakland Dog Training Club.I'm also
> a Clicker Trainer and I wouldn't mind having a dog that is chaos
> resilient enough to take on the road to attend advanced clicker
> training workshops.One consideration is that any dog I get I would
> like to be ILPable so we can do AKC performance events too.
>     owned-a-BC-before        No
>     training-experience        (Just remember you asked :)  > http://www.frap.org/Yoshi/yoshi_training_diary.html
>     still-have-dog        Which dog?  I currently have Yoshi and I had Cali the agility corgi.
>     last-dog        Cali passed away due to a very rare cancer - we miss her very much.
>     lost-a-pet        No
>     poisoned        No
>     hit-by-car        No
>     loose-in-truck        Not a chance.
>     die-due-to-disease        See above.
>     Other-animals        Yes
>     Animals-ages        Welsh Corgi boy, 3 years going on 1
>     Children        No
>     living conditions        House
>     rent-own        Own
>     Yard        Yes
>     Fenced        Yes
>     type-of-fence        I currently have corgi sized fencing (ok they are
> trelisses turned sideways) that I would probably have to replace if
> we got a larger dog.  It hasn't been much of an issue since the dogs
> are never in the backyard unattended.
>     adults-work        Yes, locally.
>     anyone-home-during-day        No
>     if-home-alone        One of us comes home at lunch to let the dogs out to
> pee.
>     -hours-alone        4-6 but with another dog
>     will-dog-stay-indoor-outdoors        Indoor
>     sleep-where        In the bedroom.
>     sex preference        Yes
>     male-female        Female
>     color-preference        Not really,
>     color        Yoshi the Corgi likes Black and White, I don't care though.
>     Consider-Opposite-Sex        Yes
>     Consider-Older-Dog        Yes
>     to-what-age        not sure - one that can still do agility
>     what-size        small to medium
>     everyone-aware        oh yes
>     financial-resp.        Yes
>     moving soon?        NO!
>     allergic        No
>     regulations        Yes
>     Is-this-a-gift        No
>     do-they-know
>     spayed-neutered        Yes
>     home-visit        Sure come on over.
>     what reason would you give-up a dog        If the dog was miserable in my household and really
> wanted to live elsewhere then I would do what was best for the dog.
>     hear-about-BCR        Nearly every agility BC person I know
>     fee        Yes
>     neuter-deposit        Yes
>     specific-dog        I like Tom and Scout but neither is probably
> appropriate for our household - we are also open to be a foster home.
>     date        11/30/06

Back to some semblance of reality...
Took Yoshi to Marin Humane just for the exposure to lots of different dogs and some chaos.  He did fairly well considering the stimulating environment.  There were at least 4-5 times when he tried to lunge at a dog walking by, but there were at least twice that many when he chose not to.  One dog was far worse that he was and we stayed clear of them as Yoshi barking at him was completely justified.  In a way I felt like I was playing a sort of shell game trying to keep enough distance between him and other dogs.  Over time I was able to close the distance.

Also Andrea was there and had her poodles Freddie and Django out and we walked along with them.  He did so well with them Andrea said that in a way it was hard to believe he was reactive at all, but he knows Freddie and is relaxed around him.  I've always found it a little odd that he's generally ok with Poodles as they look odd to dogs (I'm reminded of Rita Rudner wondering if other dogs thought Poodles were members of some weird religious cult) and he's certainly growled at other ODTC poodles and PWDs.  But he's had the experience of meeting very friendly curly coated dogs like Freddie and also Pam's PWDs (Rio and Jet) who are very friendly.  Andrea pointed out a while back that Freddie's best dog friend is a Cardi which helps a lot.  Freddie's "Hi! Of course you like me - I'm sweet and friendly" attitude is so instantly disarming (and so non-poodle like in a way since they can be so "I'm smarter that you are" aloof.)

I think we're going to make a habit of going on Saturday.  This time we got there around 11ish and I think we'll shoot for 10am as Trish teaches a dog trainer class at 1pm.  He did get to see Strider and Sophie for a little bit on her lunch break.

One of Trish's consults was a dog that had very similar coloring to Jesse.  I think it caught Trish's attention that Yoshi didn't seem to be being hostile to that dog and I mentioned that the dog looked like a friend of his.  Given that dog was in a consult with Trish sort of implied that the dogs probably shouldn't meet (friendly happy dogs usually don't need consults with behaviorists) and Trish agreed though the dog (whose name I didn't get) was able to pass this really unusual temperament test that SF Animal Care and Control uses.  That test was to tether the dog and walk another dog past and see if the dog reacts.  Er.  Well duh of course they're going to react and Trish says that about 80% of dogs would react.  Unfortunately, this dog has to pass this test since s/he has been classified by SFACC as a dangerous dog since s/he got into an altercation with a puppy and even though it appears to have been the puppy's fault, this dog (some sort of Pit mix) gets the label and the accompanying requirement to have to wear a muzzle when in public in SF.  So Trish is teaching the owners to have the dog pay attention to them when another dog walks by.  It's working.  What I can't figure out is why SFACC uses such a strange test as SFACC is headed up by Donna Duford who knows her stuff.  Clearly there's more to the story that I know.

Tomorrow we're going to Joyce Shephard's for herding.  That should be fun and I'm looking forward to it and Cooper may be able to join us - I'll hear more on that tomorrow).  There's also a holiday party at Sharon Freilich's at 5pm that I'm going to try and make it to.  They're having a gift exchange and I just can't resist making a cheeze whiz and squeeze peanut butter care package that I'm sure most dog trainers will be thrilled with.  Where else can you give cheese whiz as a gift?

Fri Dec 1
I kidnapped Cooper so the boys could spend the afternoon together.  We had a noisy brief game of fetch.  Clearly I'm going to have to work on fetch with Cooper separately as he gets completely distracted with Yoshi barking at him.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to have them both playing fetch at the same time.  I think not, as Yoshi is way more drawn to a dog playing fetch than fetch itself.  So I'll have to get Cooper more consistent about bring it back to my hand and then I can add Mr Bark-at-moving-animals (as opposed to Cooper: Mr Bark-just-for-the-hell-of-it) to the equation.

Cooper is so into working for treats that I wonder if I could use him as an Advanced Clicker Training dog..  He's certainly interested in working, but it's the working and thinking part that I'm concerned about.  Certainly worth a try if I can teach him how not to chomp my fingers.

Go to:

Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - June 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan 2006

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2005
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Yoshi Training Diary - Jul 2005
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Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan  2005

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2004
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