Saturday, 26 April 2014

Jack...and Daisy's first wins

It's been an eventful few days in Daisyville! Thursday evening was our first intra-club obedience progress test. I think I found it a lot more stressful than she did (she got bored waiting for her turn) - many years ago I used to work a boxer/collie in obedience competitions and we won a large number of junior comps, plus a fair number of senior events. I'd made the mistake of mentioning this at the training club, and consequently (and probably unnecessarily) was really feeling the nerves before we did our round.
Once we were moving it was fine though - lost a few marks for over enthusiasm as she bounced up and down next to me during heelwork, and a few more when she crashed off my knees after coming in like a rocket on the recall. But at this stage in the game I'll take inaccuracy caused by trying too hard.

Anyway, once a couple of dogs at a similar standard to her broke their stay and she got through hers unscathed, we won! It's not exactly Test C, but it was still lovely to get even that little bit of recognition that we are on the right lines. And the trophy...I'm assuming it's from the olden days and has been repurposed, but seriously, you could kill someone with that thing. It weighs a ton!

Anyway, onto the weekend, and the discovery that a photo of Daisy as a pup won first prize in the "bonniest baby" category of an online photo show in aid of Battersea Dogs Home, organised by the fabulous Beau's Bakery. So our very first rosette coming our way by post next week, along with an order of treats from the bakery shop. (Cheese and marmite anyone? Sounds far too good to waste on dogs).

Then there was today's adventure. Daisy and I went for our third visit to see a fabulously amazing 16 month old collie called Jack. He is in rescue in Wellingborough, after his owners broke up and couldn't keep him. Kennel life isn't really working brilliantly for him, as he's really high drive and just wants a job to do and to make someone happy, but because he is so focused on working he doesn't want to play. And Daisy loves other dogs and only wants to play. So that's a little tricky. They are getting better together, but I'm sort of having to resign myself to the fact that it probably isn't going to work out enough that I can adopt him - because Daisy is a little on the insecure side, she ends up really subdued when she is ignored. And since her happy, bouncy nature is one of the lovely things about her, I don't want that squashing. I had hoped that she would draw Jack out of his shell a little, but it doesn't seem to be working that way so far. But I shall persevere a little longer in the hope that they will begin to interact a little more. We have made baby steps I suppose in that he initially warned her off completely, whereas now he just ignores her...
This is Jack. He has amazing ears that go from flat to fully pricked up and everywhere in between

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Terrible teens

Daisy has recently entered the canine "terrible teens". She is driving me mad - just little attempts to push her luck. Last night on our walk was our largest disagreement to date though as she refused to come when called, barked at the horses in the field and wouldn't stop, chased after a cat (fortunately it had the sense to climb up a fence, from where it launched a barrage of abuse) and THEN, having driven me mad for an hour, she rolled in some fox poo.

I gave her a bath in cold water. It made me feel slightly better.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Happygrumpy Easter from Daisy

She is most miffed because I didn't love her enough to buy her an Easter egg (doggie version) of her very own, nor will I share my (human version) one with her. She isn't buying my line on it being bad for her. She was even more miffed when I got an egg, and she got...the bow from off the egg.

Radnor Forest

Daisy and I are spending part of the Easter weekend with a relative who lives in darkest Wales. It's actually rather lovely - though I'm woefully underprepared for spending time in Wales, as I've forgotten a waterproof jacket. But so far, we  haven't been rained on.
Today we headed out into Radnor Forest for a long walk. We only saw one other dog in three hours - the rather fabulous Bear. Bear is the biggest and friendliest Rottie ever, and he and Daisy charged around for a bit, until his owners sensibly got a little concerned that my little terror was leading him astray by crashing about in the undergrowth so we parted ways.

We attempted to follow a marked path, though this got quite tricky at intervals due to forestry clearance (bottom photo - the post in the foreground is a way-marker!) But we got back to the car eventually, which given my sense of direction was no mean feat.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My puppy...growing up!

Daisy is 8 months old this week (or so - while she is a rescue, we don't have her exact date of birth). My little baby, all grown up!


Trying out a harness

Daisy is for the most part very trainable, and she loves to work - pretty typical for a collie. We have started doing obedience classes with a view to eventually competing (it's going to be a while away yet!), and have also begun puppy agility, which she is awful at for now. I suspect she will improve, and I also suspect that a lot of why it's not going so well right now is my inexperience - she is very sharp, and everything is always done at a million miles an hour so if I miss the right moment to give her a cue it all goes a bit to pot. But she loves her agility and I always come home happy at how hard she has tried and how much fun she has had.
Once place we are not doing so well is on lead walking. Rather than teach her that she has to walk by my side at all times, I've tried to keep the lead length consistent but allow her to walk wherever she wants around me, conditional on there being no pulling. The intention was to try to avoid her being a "left-sided" dog, and also to get her comfortable early to being on either side, behind or in front. But it hasn't really worked - what I've found is that she just pulls on all sides. Not too badly, but enough that it makes walking her harder than it needs.
To complicate matters further, I do quite a bit of running with her. So that I don't stand on her (and because running is waaaay easier when you're being towed along) I've been encouraging her to run out in front of me. Different command and all, but still it's a lot to ask in understanding: "when we're going slowly I have to not pull, but when we're running then pulling is actively encouraged". So that confusion, coupled with some concerns about putting pressure on her neck when running made me think that maybe a harness was the way to go for running while keeping the collar for walks.
Our local doggy day care (who are brilliant - of which more another time) recommend a particular type of harness (these, in fact), so with a certain amount of trepidation, we gave it a go. All I can say is I wish I'd tried it months ago.
Once poor Daisy was over the confusion of suddenly wearing a whole set of purple fleecy straps round her body we gave the harness a road test on the evening walk. Because my connection point to her is much further back on her body, it seems it doesn't trigger the same urge to pull as when the lead is attached to her collar. So mission on the not pulling on walks accomplished pretty much instantly - though I don't know yet how long it'll last. Course that doesn't solve the issue of "one attachment point for walking with no pulling and a different attachment point for running and encouraging pulling", but we'll try out a run with harness and see how we get on. At least I know that she is happy to wear her very fetching new outfit, and it has modified her behaviour in a very positive way...for now at least.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Crazy Collies - they're the BEST

Daisy (of the title fame) is a little mostly-collie who crashed into my life in November last year, aged 14 weeks. She was rescued from a barn in Limerick after someone heard her barking, and made her way to a collie rescue in the UK, and then to me via a foster home.
She is a typically active collie, and we are having a ton of fun together. I know every person thinks their dog is the best, but mine might actually be...

It's a hard life

It’s exhausting being 13 weeks old and meeting people you don’t know…Daisy came home with us about 24 hours before this photo was taken. Which means a grand total of 24 hours before the "no dogs upstairs" and ESPECIALLY "no dogs on the bed" rules went flying out of the window, never to be seen again...