Saturday, April 28, 2012

100 things #8: Dahlia goes fishing!

I arrived home tonight from our Irish traditional session with food in hand for Dahlia, as I usually do. I've been trying to get her to catch food. Usually when you toss food at her she simply flinches and let's it fall to the ground. So I've been dropping it from just above her mouth to get her to realize she can catch it.

Well, she has TERRIBLE eye/mouth coordination. Her method now is to just open and close her mouth rapidly in the hopes of catching it. Most of the time she misses. Sometimes she's lucky enough to get it. Tonight I decided it would be fun to take the camera out and take photos of her attempts.

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm | f/2.8 | 1/2000 | ISO 800 | 28mm

Friday, April 27, 2012

100 things #7: A visit to the groomer

Our groomer always puts a bandana on the dogs after they're groomed. She's thankfully not one who sticks silly ribbons in the female dog's hair (the groomer for Pepper, our childhood dog always did that and it always looked ridiculous). The bandanas are always adorable and often themed for the holiday if it's done right around a specific holiday. This one was adorable and pink and covered in cupcakes!

silly9 EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm | f/5.6 | 1/50 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

Thursday, April 26, 2012

100 things #6: Flopped!

Dahlia visited the groomer today, so I couldn't resist taking some photos of her. When she flopped over on her side with her head over the edge of the stairs, I thought it was far too adorable to not take a photo.

silly32  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm | f/2.8 | 1/125 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

100 things #5: The Snuggie edition

Something made me decide that it would be hilariously stupid to put my Snuggie on Dahlia. Yes I own a snuggie. I bought it when we were camping last year. It got down to something ridiculous like 35 at night and I was so cold. We ended up at Big Lots to find things to keep us warm and I found a Snuggie for $3. Let me tell you, it helped a lot when I was sitting at the campfire!

silly18  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm | f/5.6 | 1/30 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

100 things #4: Hoodie

Dahlia shows her support for Trayvon Martin.

silly2  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28mm | f/5.6 | 1/30 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

Thursday, April 19, 2012

100 things #3: Shhh!

This was inspired by another community whose theme was "Studious." I think this is Dahlia's librarian look. Can't you just hear her say "Shhhh...we're in a library!"

random13  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28-80mm | f/5.6 | 1/30 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

100 Things #2: Box-head

This one was done especially for a friend of mine.  A long while back we had this joke going about pit bulls and the box-headed thing and our dogs disguising themselves as pit bulls with kleenox boxes on their head. It ultimately resulted in this photo taken this afternoon.

random3  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28-80mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 100 | 28mm

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

100 things #1: Babushka Dog

I'm participating in a 100 Things blogging challenge.  You can find out more about it here. One of the challenges I'm doing is to get 100 unique photos of Dahlia. (The other one I'm doing is devoted to music; you can find that at a new blog located here.)

I stopped at Petsmart today and found a silly leopard print bandana.  I couldn't resist putting it on Dahlia for my first 100 things post.

So here's a very serious Babushka dog.  I do a lot of shots of Dahlia at her level.  For this one I got down on the ground underneath her to shoot up at her instead.  I like the effect.

day1-3  EXIF data: Sony A580 | Sony 18-55mm | f/10 | 1/200 | ISO 400 | 35mm

Wordless Wednesday


Friday, April 13, 2012

Why hello there

Recently someone said "I would hate to be her dog."

Yeah...I would too.  Look at that unhappy dog.  Such an awful life she leads, don't ya think? ;-)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What would my dog choose?

Here Dahlia shows off the wonderful freedom
she gets even without a shock collar
Recently I came across this post on the "truth about shock collars" page.  Now, don't be fooled here.  They're not really giving you the truth about shock collars, but rather their twisted version of the truth (it doesn't hurt, there's no pain, it's just a stim).  But here Robin MacFarlane asks her readers if they believe their dogs would choose to be trained using an e-collar (which is really the most common euphemism these days for a shock collar).

It's an interesting question to ask.  Would your dog choose to be trained the way you train the dog?  Would your dog choose to do obedience or rally or agility?  What sorts of choices would your dog make if given that sort of freedom?

Ms. MacFarlane cites many choices we make for our dogs: vaccinations, what they eat, and what dogs they interact with, among others.  I cannot argue with her there.  There are many choices we cannot allow our dogs to make because they would make poor choices.  I can guarantee my dog would love to eat any leftover meat she found in the garbage.  I'm sure she would prefer not to go to the groomer or ever have a bath again.  She sure wouldn't choose to be hosed down after taking a dunk in our rather disgusting pond and coming out smelling like the swamp thing (please note: I allow her to chase geese into the pond; she does this on command; it's fun for her but it does result in a dog who smells terrible and requires a bath).  In fact, making the choice to drink from the pond at one occasion was also a poor choice she made (resulting in rather a lot of stomach upset and a bacterial infection that required antibiotics).  Dogs aren't known for making the best choices.

But does that mean they would choose to be trained using something that causes a pain in their neck every time they do something wrong?  Would they choose an uncomfortable sensation when they do something wrong over a reward when they do something right?  I may not be a dog, but considering that dogs tend to be comfort-seeking "do what's best for me" types, I would imagine that dogs would answer with a resounding NO.

I know how my dog would respond.

She responds with stress signals to a harsh voice.  I'm not talking voices directed at her, but for example, we adopted our dog during the 2008 presidential election.  There were many evenings of angry shouts at the television.  We had to stop watching the debates because our dog was stressed out by our raised voices.

When we first got her, we didn't expect her to try to herd UPS trucks and when she tried to, in an emergency stop sort of situation, we had to yank her back hard by her collar.  She shut down and rolled over.

I've reached out to touch her and accidentally shocked her (dry winters around here).  She once wouldn't go near me for an hour and after a shock or two, she starts to flinch if I reach for her.

She flinches when I reach for her.

And this is not a purposeful shock.  This is entirely accidental, but it's enough punishment to make her hand-shy for a time.  If I inflicted that on her day after day, year after year, in the name of training how do you think she'd react?  I think I know how.

On the flip side, seeing how she reacts to being rewarded, how her drive in agility has increased as has her tug and toy drive, tells me that she loves the rewards.  Seeing how agility itself has become the reward tells me she loves the rewards as well.

So would my dog choose to be trained using a shock collar?  No.  I can say with absolute certainty that no, she would not choose that.

Free free to comment, shock collar users and trainers.  I will warn you that comments are moderated, but only to stop spam.  I will gladly allow you to have your say.

A clarification: My dog does not eat the garbage.  She goes into the pond when I let her.  Drinking the pond water was unexpected and happened as she raced into it, gulping the water as she went (chasing geese into the ponds is no longer happening).  My dog only flinches away from people after being shocked (a smart move, in my opinion).  She is not afraid to be approached by anyone (including young children, other dogs, and cats).  My dog is an easygoing joyful dog to live with, a happy dog who has never been abused in any way.  Any issues she had (e.g. her frustration reactivity to other dogs) has been dealt with in a positive manner.  She does not live her life on the end of a leash.  She is a wonderful dog who is granted a lot of freedom (not crated in the house when we're out, off leash hikes, etc.) because she makes the right choices and she knows that sticking by me and coming back to me are hugely rewarding.

Anyone who comes to this post and thinks I haven't trained my dog and am some sort of martyr with a bad relationship with my dog could not be more wrong.  Perhaps those people should read past this one post that they take issue with because they train using shock collars and I choose not to.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday: The non-wordless edition

I guess I haven't had much to say here lately.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my life I just forget that some interesting things are happening. 

Dahlia and I continue to improve in our agility classes.  We have not made it to another trial since the one in December.  Unfortunately, the handful of indoor trials in central NY during the winter months get overrun with entries and we were wait-listed in both January and February and never got into either trial.  After a rather disastrous "show 'n' go" in which Dahlia refused to (yet again) get up on the A-Frame and Dog Walk and acted like she had never done agility a day in her life, I wasn't terribly disappointed at not getting in.

We finally discovered Dahlia's problems with A-Frames and Dog Walks and it centers around her not striding properly.  She gets too close to them, has to take a short step, and then doesn't have the back end strength to push herself up onto them and so balks.  We've been working on increasing her back end strength, improving her striding, and making the contact equipment so rewarding that she just can't help but run at them full tilt.  All have been working well, but the latter is the best part.  She now runs out in front of me to take the A-Frame and occasionally does the same on the Dog Walk.  We're currently signed up for a trial later this month, so we may get a chance to see how this all works out in a real trial situation.

Dahlia's health
Dahlia is all healed up after her January surgery.  The hair is growing back and it's starting to be less and less noticeable.  She doesn't look like a Frankendog anymore!  On the flip side, she just recovered from a nasty intestinal thing caused by her taking an impromptu dip in our local (really disgusting and swampy pond) and drinking from it.  Amazingly, she never acted sick throughout the entire illness.  I was thankful for that.

My photography continues to improve and the major improvement lies with my obtaining a new Sony A580 body.  I absolutely adore the camera.  It's a huge step up from the A230 I was using before.  I've only had it for a few weeks (and unfortunately injured my back rather severely last week and so have not been able to take pictures for over a week now!) and there's still much to learn about it, but what I've gotten out of it so far has thrilled me.  I'll share a couple photos of Dahlia I took at agility class a couple weeks ago (only two days after getting the camera!).  Remember that this is inside the agility barn and all photos were taken at ISO1600.

If you're wondering how I ran her in agility and took photos, I wasn't running her.  My instructor took her out for a spin so I could take photos, which was an awfully nice thing for her to do for us.



I promise to post more often in the near future! 

Wordless Wednesday: Serious Woe Face Edition