"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it along to someone else." Mitch Albom

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Enjoying a day at work

Enjoy a few pictures of Churry at work.  These were printed with the parent's permission, of course!

 Enjoying a nice belly rub because the students earned a chance to pet at the end of the day!
 She loves "holding hands".
 Still working on riding in the car without our kennel.  Obviously, in our lap is not the best choice, but it's better than in MY lap while I'm driving!  She does really well some trips, but this particular morning she was NOT getting in!  She was pulling back, throwing her head around and everything else to try to get away from me.  I had to resort to lifting her in so we could get to work on time!
 Hanging out during class time.

 Finally relaxing a bit towards the end of the ride.
Waiting patiently to lead the kids out at the end of the day.  You can't really tell in this picture, but Churry is doing an excellent job of walking through the mobs of kids on a pretty loose leash and not soliciting attention when we travel around the building.  And she does a really good job at ignoring the kids who are soliciting attention from her!  I could tell on Friday that this whole work thing was already "boring" to her.  She adjusts so well to new experiences and places!  I can now work on some specific tasks with her while she's visiting.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

BRRRR! It's cold out there!

    Winter has finally chosen to arrive here at my home, minus any snow to make it fun.  I've had to dig (not too far) in my heart to find the motivation to walk Churry this week!  Luckily, my dad gave me some fantastic gloves for Christmas, my mom gave me some great jackets that layer well, and my Secret Santa at work gave me some hand warmers!  I've had good use of all of these items this week!  It's so much easier to exercise Bailey for many reasons...1.  We don't really care how perfect her "heel" is, so I don't feel the need to practice it very often.  In fact, we often walk her off-leash.  It would be frowned upon by her hunting partner (Pat) if she stayed glued to his side the entire time they are looking for birds.  The most important reason I can think of for her to be proficient on the leash is so our kids can easily walk her, which they can. 2.  Bailey is the most trustworthy dog in the world when it comes to playing in our yard.  She doesn't leave and she doesn't eat stuff/destroy stuff she shouldn't.  Which is why when she disappeared for 3 1/2 hours a couple of years ago we were convinced someone had kidnapped her.  It turns out she had accidentally gotten shut in our neighbor's garage.  And being the good girl she is, she wasn't barking or whining.  She was very politely sitting on their step until they opened the door to leave again.   3.  Bailey has almost perfect recall.  We usually don't even have to call her name...she just knows when she hears the door open to come check in.  All of these result in the fact that she's much easier to exercise...we can leave her out to run fairly unsupervised without worry.  I could NEVER do that with Churry.  Who knows what she would do!  And if I'm going to be out in the cold to supervise Churry playing for her exercise, I would rather walk her.  At least I generate some warmth and get some exercise!  She did get the privilege of just running wild for exercise tonight, though, because it's that depressing time of year when I get home from work after dark.  :(  So my wonderful husband had already supervised their play hour by the time I got home.  I feel sorry for dogs whose owners don't give them proper exercise.  Dogs love it so much and behave so much better when they have a proper amount of energy release!  And happy, tired dogs make my evenings easier!

    On another topic...Churry went to her first movie!  I've been really nervous about taking her to one because, while she has excellent obedience skills for her age, she lacks a very long attention span.  She feels if she has to wear her cape, then she wants to be up and about doing something, seeing something, learning something...which is not really good for relaxing movie watching.  Basically, unless Churry is in her kennel, she's up and about.  I'm surprised she sits in her spot at school as well as she does.  But, she surprised me again with her behavior in the theater.  She got up just a couple of times and didn't really cause a problem, just stood there for awhile watching the movie.   I was also VERY pleased with her food refusal!  Her basement lessons must be working because she TOTALLY ignored all of the popcorn on the floor.  And there was a lot!  I was starting to think they purposefully spread it around on the floor just to test her!  Now, she's ready for a move with a few more sound effects.  I very carefully chose one that I was pretty sure wasn't going to have loud scary sound effects.  One obstacle at a time!  I would highly recommend the movie "Courageous" for any parent out there, too!  It's by the producers of "Fireproof" if you enjoyed that movie.  Low budget, but great message!



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Food refusal is so hard!

    Raising Churry has been a fairly easy journey as far as teaching her commands and self-control with the exception of one thing...food.  She has no control over food crumbs, other dog's/cat's food bowls, trash, bugs, or anything else she happens to see on the ground.  So I am going to make this a goal for the next month.   We started off today in our "practice room" a.k.a. our almost remodeled basement.  This is the first time I have really had to use food rewards with her, but we've been having such a hard time with it I thought I would try it.  Her first "obstacle" to pass by was a bowl with some of Bailey's food in it.  After about 25 times of going back to the beginning with me yelling "Leave it" and "no" she finally got the idea to walk past it without grabbing it.  So she got a piece of kibble.  I thought this would catch her attention, but we had to go through the same process with the second obstacle...some orange peels.  After the second successful obstacle and a reward of kibble she started to get the idea and improved very quickly on the next several things I had laid around.  I was doing this all off-leash so I also had her do some sits and downs mixed in there.  I also scooted some of the obstacles closer together and had her walk in between them to me from across the room.  Once she did that successfully she got to quit for her first day of practice.  I found it to be a successful session.  If anyone has any other ideas I would LOVE to hear suggestions!

      Churry's 2nd full day of 1st grade went as well as her first.  She was able to experience an all-school assembly.  This was no big deal to her until I had to go to the front and speak in a microphone.  I left her with my co-worker so the kids didn't get all excited and apparently she whimpered a bit, but then quieted down.  She also had just a wee bit of trouble passing by a therapy dog that was there, but certainly nothing major.  She is only 7 months old after all!  I forgot to mention that the first day she went to school with me she went through a fire drill!  Nothing like breaking her in to school life on the first day!  It didn't even seem to phase her.  She just looked around and then went right out with me calmly.  I thought that was a great sign for her!  Hopefully, she continues to be that brave as she grows into a mature adult!

      Churry also got to go to our monthly puppy class yesterday where she reunited with her brother Perdido.  They were so sweet together.  It was amazing that they really seemed to remember each other and had a connection!  It makes me feel better that she'll have her litter mates when she returns for formal training.  I'll just think about her, Perdido and the other 7 having a party!

    After puppy class she got a trip to her favorite place  Bass Pro Shop/Cabella's.  They are the same place as far as I'm concerned.  She so much loves to admire the animals and watch the fish!  She also got lots of attention and very good questions from the employees there.  I've never been in a place with unfriendly employees with her, but these two places the employees are always so genuinely interested in her and welcoming of her.

    Hope everyone enjoys their extra day off tomorrow if you're fortunate enough to get one!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cold Winter Nights

   This has been one of the first nights this winter that I've really been unmotivated to walk Churry.  I don't always take her outside walking... sometimes we go on an outing, sometimes we go for a regular walk like a regular dog, and sometimes we do some training with different commands.  But tonight, it's freezing cold, the wind is blowing like crazy and it's starting to snow.  Not to mention I'm stressed about work.  So all that turns into a very boring night for Churry and I feel guilty.  So I got my lazy self up and played a game with her that she's getting good at and really seems to enjoy.  Our basement is in a permanent state of remodeling so it provides us with a nice space to practice because there is minimal furniture.  We went down and played a "listening" game.  It works on all of her commands at once during the game.  I put her in a spot I select and I move away from her to another spot in the room.  Then I throw her favorite toy somewhere else in the room.  When we first started this game she would just take off after it.  Then we worked up to her staying and waiting until I said she could go get the toy.  Now we've worked up to she has to come over to me rather than go get the toy.  When she finally figured out that's what I wanted her to do, she would sprint over to me, "check in" with me as fast as she could and then sprint over to the toy.  But, now, she comes to me and sits until I tell her she can go ahead and go get  it.  Sometimes I mix it up and she has to "stand up" or "lie down" or "stay" while I throw it again.  She is improving at listening to what command I'm going to say every time we play the game.  It's really funny now when I throw it and tell her right away she can go get it.  She looks at me like, "Is this a trick to get me in trouble?"  As usual, I'm always really happy when I get off my lazy behind and do something rather than just vegetate on the couch.    Or maybe I'm actually using Churry to get out of grading papers?  HMMMM?

 I like to practice commands.
 And this new carpet smells VERY interesting!  It's hard for me to listen when I'd rather investigate and sniff every square inch of it!
 Who knew sleeping in this position was comfortable?

And I'm very good while Daddy gives me a pedicure!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Churry Loves the Kids!

    Churry has had a pretty busy week with me including many new experiences.  One of the most fun things for her was learning a new game...hide and seek!  It was a game I had tried with her a while back and forgotten about, but was reminded of on another blog.  It is great practice for her "sit and stay" and works on recall.  Although, as quickly as she found me a few times, I'm pretty sure she hadn't held her "stay" like she was supposed to!  Kinsey had a blast playing this with her after Churry learned the game well.  And this actually worked to my advantage because I could make sure she actually "stayed" until Kinsey called for her.

    On Friday, Churry spent the entire day with me at school with the students for the first time.  She did far better than I could have hoped for!  The students at my school did a fantastic job of just ignoring her in the hallway while she was working.  Then, recess provided a FABULOUS distraction for Churry!  All these running, screaming, loud children playing with balls and jumping around on things!  She would have really loved to go play with them, but she very calmly sat by my side and even showed off some of her commands to a crowd of kids.  Which I'm proud to say she did like a pro even with them crowded around her squealing and saying her name.  

    On Saturday Churry went with us to an event that my oldest daughter was in charge of putting on at a local church for her 4-H club.  It is called January Jamboree and is an event for children to come to to make various crafts.  It's a great activity to get out of the house on a cold winter day, even though yesterday was beautiful.  Churry once again did fantastic around the big crowd of people.  Her biggest challenge during this experience was ignoring things as we were decorating the hall.  I'm pretty proud of the decorations my kids, along with a few of their friends, made.  They turned out pretty amazing!

 Churry was using every ounce of her self control to not play with these balloons that kept falling all around her!
 Waiting very patiently while I was setting up some tables.
 My kids version of the house from Up.  You can't see the mailbox very well that Jacob and his friend created, but it looked awesome!  The snowmen were an addition from some leftover decorations they had created for the event last year and they thought the house needed since it is January.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Churry's first "official" day at work

Churry had her first "official" day of work today, even though there were no students there.  I say it's her first "official" day because she actually stayed there all day with me rather than just a few hours.  She did a really good job, except the part when my friend was petting her and she got a little too excited and peed!  Other than that she did well.  Just hung out in her spot and slept most of the day.

After work, she went with me to Kinsey's dr.'s appointment.  She did pretty well staying under my legs/chair for the most part.  She army crawled out a couple of times...I guess hoping I didn't notice?  I put her back a few times and she decided she would just go to sleep.  I was very bothered by that trip, though, because a very well-meaning woman in the waiting room has "trained her own dogs to be service dogs" and wanted to know where she could get one of those vests.  Now, I'm sure she probably really did get them certified as therapy dogs, but when I tried to very politely explain about the program and KSDS she interrupted me and announced that she thinks she could just make one of the capes for her dogs.  Then, she talked to me about how nice it is that she has trained her dogs because now she can just take her dogs to restaurants and everything.  I guess because she pushes them in a stroller and has self-proclaimed them as "service" dogs?    Experienced people....how do I begin to respond to this?   Back to Churry...

Then, our last stop of the day was at the vet to get weighed.  You would have thought the vet tech that she sees every time she goes there was her long lost best friend!  She did her "hugging and whimpering" show with her like she does with me when she hasn't seen me for a few hours such as when I get home from work late.  It was very endearing...and I guess it's good that she's so fond of her!  At least I know she's treated very well there!  I also love that they know both of my dogs by name without knowing in advance who is coming...because for weight checks I just pop in.  They always are very interested in her and remember so much about her!  And they always ask about Bailey, too, which is nice that she hasn't been forgotten just because she's not always with me. 

And her busy day has done wonders for her behavior at home tonight!  She's been very calm and just wants to play with her toys by herself.  And I reassured her I would NEVER push her around in a stroller in public.  :)   I look forward to her spending more time with me at work this semester!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Trip to Grandma's Farm

     My Christmas break has flown by!  There are so many things I had in mind to do and just didn't get time for them, as usual.  But, Churry did get several new experiences in addition to running the regular boring errands with me.  For starters, I exposed my poor defenseless dog to Wal-Mart.  I promised her not to do this often as I hate going there myself.  She was a very perfect little lady in there, which is more than I can say for many people I encounter in that store!  She also went out to eat with us at Arby's in Lawrence after we picked up Pat at work.  Then, we packed up and went to my parent's for the New Year's weekend.  She was able to participate in the last Christmas celebration of the season.  She went through a buffet style food line with me and behaved very well while I got my food.  She also enjoyed some attention while we opened a gift.

Then she took a nap for the rest of the afternoon while we were there.

The next day we visited my parent's horses.  She really enjoyed all of the animals there, especially the cows.

After she had settled down a bit we worked on some commands in the new environment.  She did really well with a "stay".  We also tried jumping on some unfamiliar things.  She enjoyed the hay bales, but was not interested in getting up in the tractor seat.

And finally, we stopped at the Buffalo Bill statue...because we are the "Birthplace of a Legend"!  She thought it was fun to sit on the statue and try to climb up the very slick surface.

And finally, she and Cooper posed for a picture at the cutouts.  Churry was not impressed with sticking her head in to look like a Wild West girl!

Cooper took the job very seriously though! 
I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's and all of your dreams and goals come true!