Monday, January 31, 2011

*happy sigh*

My cheeks are sunburned and my lips are chapped. I have a bruise the size of a fist on my right knee where a ram ran into me. I have muck on my pants and boots, and my car smells like sheep poop. I think I may have pulled my trapezius muscle from playing tug with Nash (Inigo) after a successful HRD training search. Lynx thinks that searching for the scent of cadaver is AWSM. Macha thinks that it's *very* interesting but does she really have to give back the stinky tennis ball?

Oda thinks that the sight of fleeing sheep is the best thing since Cats (and I don't mean the musical). Leia (Organa) hugged a ram. TWICE. Jedi has grown up beautiful and talented and very much a momma's boy. 
Jubilee is pretty sure that this lying down thing is just a silly idea of mine and if I would only look away for a second this herding thing could get VERY fun. Hunter has figured out that it's really very easy to make me happy if only she lies down when I ask her too and why didn't I explain that last year?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Goodbyes

Wonderful news! Musket is off to Georgia to be a Search and Rescue dog with Steve, who trained and certified Circe (Coal's littermate). Circe's now getting older and is facing some health issues, so Musket will be stepping right into work--and I think Musket can hardly wait! Hopefully Steve can keep up with him! :)

And driving off with Musket and his new person was Outlaw. Steve's fiancee has a 9 year old therapy dog and has been looking for a new dog to step into that role. She appreciated Outlaw's sweet personality, gentle mouth, and great love of physical contact. I think Outlaw has found her place.

I'm delighted both of them seem to have found their people and will have jobs, doing good things for other people. I hope Steve and Pat have many, many happy years with them both.

Musket and Outlaw--BFF!

Friday, January 28, 2011

E-collars and e-pinions

A recent blog post by a veterinarian/behaviorist has garnered quite a bit of attention in the online dog training realm. This post discusses an article published in 2004 that claims to investigate whether electronic "shock" collars are painful for dogs:

This blog post has been a topic of discussion in several dog-related forums that I follow, and many have pointed out some of the flaws of the research. My main issue with this article is that it seems to be studying the improper and extreme use of e-collars--that is, what they are describing is the first thing that people are told *not* to do with an e-collar--and using it to condemn any and all use.  All in all, I wish they'd done this study with less bias and a little more training sense--I'd find it far more useful.

gathered a few links that give additional information and/or critiques of the original article.

Here's a good critique of the study:

A little more "heated" critique can be found here:

But what I found really interesting was this link to some additional info about research that has been done on the (lack of) physical harm an e-collar can cause--from the Handbook of applied dog behavior and training, a textbook on applied behavioralism, by Steven R. Lindsay.

This is an issue that polarizes dog trainers, and it is hard to find unbiased information. For many people, the issue is black and white, and it has become politicized by those who would like to see all electronic training collars banned (as happened in Wales in 2010).

I've seen dogs' lives improved  by the careful use of these collars, cases where dogs are permitted freedoms they might not otherwise get, for example, in a yard with an invisible fence (although invisible fences have significant issues that owners must be aware of!) or getting to accompany someone on a long horseback ride or stopping a dog from chasing horses and getting his skull kicked in or preventing a dog from dashing into traffic. Some trainers have found the pulse/vibrate feature on some electronic collars to be invaluable in training distance communication with deaf dogs; other trainers have found that the vibrate feature interrupts the unhealthy behavioral loops of some dogs who are scared and aggressive with new people.

But it's also true that these collars have been overused and abused and over-recommended and inappropriately handled--and dogs have suffered for it. But the same can be said of a leash.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All Grown Up

One of the things I enjoy the most is getting to see my puppies all grown up--working or playing or relaxing--happy and making their families happy. So, today, I share some of the pictures.

So if you don't see a picture of your Blackthorn puppy here, please e-mail me a picture and, if you haven't told me recently, tell me how your "puppy" is doing!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Evidence for the 1 Dog Axis of Evil

Blackthorn's Oda
--it's a good thing she's so cute

Yesterday, I bought a new keyboard because after I caught Oda chewing on my glasses, she jumped up on my desk and knocked a soda on the keyboard. Subsequently, the X key no longer made Xxxxx, instead it made Zzzzz. I figured that after it dried out it might work again, but instead, I got neither Xs or Zs.

Sadly, I need all 26 letters of the alphabet, so new keyboard it was.

Earlier in the week, I was very naughty and bought myself a set of weave poles and a new matching collar and agility harness for Oda from CleanRun. So when I got home with the new keyboard, the mail had the new collar and harness. I was totally *glee*--although I am still waiting for the weave poles.

Oda poses with her new collar
So, I got home and slipped the collar on Oda and then tried the harness on. It fit ok, but I wasn't sure if the front loop was too loose (it's not adjustable). I left it on her while I hooked up the new keyboard. But... well.

She was in the room with me!

After reviewing the evidence, I suspect that the front loop was indeed a bit too big for her.

Hey now, I'm trying to take a picture of that!
She looks so remorseful. Don't believe it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Too nice a day for this

Musket almost just killed Macha. I don't mean that as hyperbole, I mean it literally. When I got out there, she was lying still and had begun to lose consciousness.

Musket has no ears. These pictures took a lot of bribing.

They had been in the front yard for maybe 15 minutes. I was inside on my computer, working. I heard snarling and knew immediately it wasn't play growling.

I took a quick look out the window and saw Musket standing over Macha, she appeared to be submitting to him. She doesn't submit to him--she beats her brother up when he goes for her ball. There was no more fighting. But I took off running to the back door anyway, I knew what had happened. I should have stopped for the scissors in the kitchen, but I didn't.
It's only shocking they don't all look like this.

When I got to them, Macha had blood on her tongue and her muzzle was being held in Musket's mouth. She was limp but watching. He was bleeding from the mouth too, and her collar was wrapped around his lower jaw. Yes, I knew that could happen. I've heard stories. I knew he liked to grab collars when playing. He grabbed, she jumped and twisted, and suddenly they were in a lethal tangle. I knew this could happen.

Naked dogs, no collars.
But that didn't matter right then; right then, I had to get her free before she died from lack of blood to her brain and lack of oxygen to her lungs. How does one do that? Well, there would have been no way except that Musket was a good boy--he let me push his head closer to her neck and somehow I managed to get enough slack to get the slimed and bloody collar off his lower jaw, freeing  her to breathe, to live. 

He stood up and backed off, somewhat cowed by the incident; she got up and moved off, weaving, not trotting in a straight line. I went and sat on the steps and they both came to me for comfort. She was cautious of him, and he of her. The took a few laps of water and leaned on me a bit. She reached over and licked his muzzle a couple of times, checking in--all is well, all is forgiven.

Musket's jaw isn't broken, but his gums are bleeding a little. Macha seems to have bitten her tongue but no other wounds. He's got a little bit of blood on his ruff, his cheeks; she's got mud on her forehead and muzzle. I get mud and blood and slobber on my hands as I run my hands over them, checking for injuries
It's all very exciting to Musket.

I took their collars off, both of them.

They are living beings, things happen. But I knew of the hazard, except for that moment this morning when I opened the door and let them out together, collars on.  Did I forget, did I think it wouldn't happen? It doesn't matter. It doesn't take long for disaster and then there's no fixing things.

I am glad I heard that few seconds of serious snarling. I'm glad I recognized it. I'm glad I wasn't in the bathroom or out by the kennels. I'm glad the TV was off and no music was playing.

I need to remember this. As it is, I have blood on my hands this morning.
Musket's ready to get on with things. Macha's wondering how many cookies I have left.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Puppy brags

"Nash was fabulous yesterday!  We passed our state evaluations for field work.  I was so proud of him!  I have to brag."

"2 acre sector, one cadaver source.....47 seconds....priceless!"
Nash (Blackthorn's Inigo)

Best update ever from Leslie, the owner and trainer of Blackthorn's Inigo (Nash), who is trained for HRD (human remains discovery, or cadaver search and recovery).