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Monday, June 17, 2019

So many changes...

Since the last entry which wasn't nearly as long ago as I feared, we've moved out to Virginia to be closer to my family.  We've also added Raven to our household and though she firmly believes she is just another Aussie, we're pretty sure there's some Sheltie in there.  She is, as is everyone, a frisbee dog.

These days, when we bring the pack to an event, we usually choose UpDog Challenge events.  They have multiple games and allow rollers which means that Steel gets to play and we don't have to worry about him making stupid high jumps and bad landings that injure his back and paws.

Now about Rogue.  She is what this is all about after all.  She and I have exploded in our disc ability.  This year alone, we've qualified for the Ashley Whippet Invitational world championship, took first place in Throw and Go at our last Updog Challenge event, took first place in Time Trial for our division at a Skyhoundz Discdogathon and are currently tied for 8th place out of well over 1000 international dog/handler teams in the K9 Toss and Catch League. I can't get too excited about that one yet since we're only in week one of five but holeeeeeee...

What happened?  Rogue is a natural athlete.  She is a world championship caliber dog without a doubt.  After she realized what this whole frisbee thing was about and how fun it was, the real handicap for our team was me. I was throwing just over 20 yards all over the field.  The total points of our first five weeks was 35.  (max possible in one week is 55).   This year we've exploded.  I have started throwing over the 40 yard line occasionally and our Spring score (three years after our first Spring score was 148 points.  Wow.  We practice a lot and since we don't have a big yard at our house in VA, we visit a nearby dog park at noon 3-5 times a week.

 And here we are.  I'm throwing farther than I would have ever though possible and we'll be heading back to Illinois for the AWI world championship as a qualified team and not help.    It's still sinking in.

We've traveled a lot already this year.  We went to Maryland for the AWI qualifier, we sent to North Carolina for an Updog event, we went up to Canada for Updog and to visit Rogue's breeder, Teri for the first time since I brought her home five years ago.  We took the whole crew down to southern Virginia for Updog and Rogue and I went up near Chesapeake Bay for the Discdogathon. 

I haven't yet met any other deaf disc dogs since Decibel is retired.  I met her handler in Canada.  But I've heard that there are more deaf dogs playing disc now than ever before and that makes me happy.  I'd like to believe that Rogue and I have played a part in that. 


So, looking forward to more disc this year and years in the future. 

The only thing Rogue can't do is hear.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What is that funky smell...

Skunk.  Yep, that's right.  After going seventeen years with dogs without an incident, we've had three and two of those were less than ten days apart.  You would think the dogs would be smart enough after the first, and maybe the second time to not go chasing after the 'striped kitty'..  Nope.  And Steel was the culprit all three times.

There are plenty of thing that people claim will get rid of the skunk smell.  I will share with you what we found that works and works well.  We should know.  We've had to use it three times.  Now, keep i mind that a dog who has been skunked will still smell somewhat when they get wet or if you get your face into their coat.  We now have our very own skunk kit in the kitchen which made the second two instances a lot quicker and easier.

Here are the items in our skunk kit.
Nature's Miracle Skunk odor remover (not your regular Nature's Miracle.  This is a different thing entirely)
Dawn dish soap.  (must be Dawn.  Generic dish soap does not have the same detergent content)
A pump sprayer
PVC gloves
Oatmeal dog shampoo
Wash cloth
Slip lead
5 gallon bucket

Nature's Miracle's Skunk Odor remover and pump sprayer

Step one:  get the dog out of the house or make sure the dog can not get in the house.  I know it will be dark out (skunks are nocturnal) but trust me on this.  Skunk odor is like fried bacon.  It gets in the air and lingers there.  

Step two:  Put the slip lead on the dog and spray them down with the Nature's Miracle Skunk.  Most of the time, your dog gets it in the face.  Do not spray them in the face.  Saturate a washcloth with it and rub down their face.

Step three: If the dog has good recall let them go.  The odor remover has to stay on them for at least five minutes.  e actually played fetch with Steel to keep him busy while the neutralizer does it's work.  
Step four:  Fill the bucket to the point where you can carry it and won't spill it all over with warm water and some Dawn.  If you put the Dawn in first, you don't have to stir it.  Soak the washcloth in the bucket and then dump the rest of the bucket over the dog.  

Step five:  With the gloves on, work the soapy water into the dog's coat.  This is dissolving the oil to make sure it all gets out of the coat  Use the washcloth on the face.

Step six:  Rinse all the soap out. with the hose.

Step seven:  Massage a conditioning shampoo into the dog's coat to get the last of the detergent and solution out and to put some moisture back in the coat.

Step eight:  Rinse again.

Steel.  Skunk hunter extraordinaire.

Because this always happens at night and because it's been really cold, we then followed it up the next day with a trip to the local self service dog wash to make sure everything is out of the coat when we have sufficient light.  Note:  They will not allow your dog in until the worst of the scent has been neutralized and they will know.  Trust me. In fact, most grooming places have the same rule.

The good news is that Rogue is the only one who was smart enough to avoid the skunk every time.  In fact, we tried to gt her out of the back yard while we were hosing down Steel and she jumped the fence... to get back into the yard.

We have been working hard in our Reactive Dog class.  We've started making her work for the fetch that she loves so much   She has to sit, lay down, or touch before we'll throw the ball for her.  Mostly what we're working on is her coming to us and paying more attention to us.  She's been getting a bit spoiled and possessive of things like the bed and this simple thing has just about eliminated that behavior.

She has also been running with some new dogs lately as we go to our favorite off leash forest preserve.  A lot of experience with some new dogs helps.

Rogue and her new friend, Radar

While her off leash manners with other dogs are awesome, her on leash manners still need work  It's a work in progress  We're trying to get her to look to me when she sees other dogs instead of just reacting.  It's a challenge for her and she is exhausted by the time we're done with our one-hour class. 

We'll get there.  I takes time for her to overcome her perception of being trapped when she's on leash and to get her to trust us enough to let us make her decisions for her.  We'll just keep working until we get it right. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

It just might be you

So, the pups were well spoiled on Christmas as usual.  Our holiday card was a huge hit.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted but it was still pretty good.

And appropriate.  Though the naughtiness here was staged.

Speaking of naughtiness, Rogue continues her leash reactivity and the husband and I have decided that we're too close to it to be able to deal effectively with training her out of it alone.  What that means is, it's probably us.  There's no shame in it.  Even the best dog trainers can be blind to how they are affecting their own dogs' behavior.  We're too close and it's often hard to observe the behavior when you're in the middle of it or at the other end of the leash.

So, we start reactive dog class this week.  In preparation, Rogue and I have walked about 8 miles over the past four days to get the edge off her activity level.  Not to tire her out.  It takes a lot more than that, but to take the edge off.  The holidays were hard on them in that our schedule was off and they were home alone a lot more than normal.  Rogue likes her routine and the changes made her crabby and she'd take it out on her siblings.

This is our favorite park.  It's 2 miles of wooded trails that allows dogs off leash.  Not all of our walks were off leash, but many of them were.  Rogue and I did three miles on leash one of the days this past weekend.  Her leash manners were starting to slide.  I'm planning on doing a lot more on leash walking with her while we're attending class.

Rogue flushes out a Zubat while Pokehunting on our walk.

I'm pretty sure a lot of our problem is that she is possessive.  For some reason, on leash, she's more possessive of me than off leash.  It's something we'll be talking about with the trainer in class, but I'm pretty sure it's me or something I'm doing.  I may give her what she wants too often or haven't made her confident enough in my ability to handle situations when she's on leash that she still feels like she has to do something.  She's still adores people but she's still having issues with other dogs.

I'm confident that class will help.  It may be that she's not ever going to be happy around other dogs on leash and that we won't be able to make her a therapy dog.  That would be a shame, but it does take a special kind of personality for that work.  We shall see.

Hope everyone has a great New Year!  I'll keep you updated on our progress at reactive dog class.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Checking in about check in

Most dog trainers will agree on the top five important commands/behaviors for your dog to know.  They may not agree in which order, but they will probably agree on Recall, drop it, leave it, stay and maybe the fifth is in dispute.  I'm not going to try to diminish the importance of these in any way but, when you're dealing with a deaf dog, no matter how well they might know any or all of these commands, it makes no difference if they aren't looking at you.

If you ever want your deaf dog to be able to be off leash and in an emergency situation when they get loose, the most important thing you want is for them to look to you to tell them what to do or just check in with you to see what you're doing.  Check in isn't put on a command, it's a behavior you want to teach them to do automatically.  You want them to periodically, no matter what they're doing, check in with you.

I tried unsuccessfully to video Rogue checking in on our last walk, but apparently failed miserably so we'll go back to words.  When Rogue is off leash, or on leash for that matter, she will periodically look back to me.  Off leash, it's less obvious (Dogs have much more peripheral vision than we do so she doesn't even have to turn her head all the way to see me) and it doesn't interrupt what she's doing.  She just gives me a glance back to make sure I'm there.  Occasionally, she'll even run off the trail with Steel but she is only gone for a few seconds before she comes right back with or without her blue buddy.  It's been a real help with teaching her disc because the moment that disc is in her mouth, she's looking at me and I can tell her to drop it right there or encourage her to run back to me as fast as she can.

Let me be totally  honest, some dogs can't ever be trusted off leash.  That's going to be a case by case basis and based entirely on the specific dog though some breeds are less likely than others to go off leash in a non fenced area.  When in doubt, keep your dog on a leash.  If you have good check in, only let your dog off leash in areas where it's permitted.    Herding dogs, because of their nature of needing to know where everything is, tend to be naturals at this skill.

How do you teach it?  You reward your dog for looking at you.  Keep treats in your pockets, around the house, at all times.  Any time your dog looks at you from something else they're doing, you mark the behavior (thumbs up, flicker, etc) and treat them.  Now sometimes, if you do this, they won't want to look away from you.  The behavior you're trying to capture is them looking away from whatever it is they're doing to look at you so you give the mark and throw the treat away from them so they have to look away from you.

I had the opportunity to practice this with Luna, another deaf dog I met a couple of weeks ago.  It was a very very distracting environment for her.  She had only been with her current family for a month, it was a dog sporting event so there was high excitement everywhere and a lot of people and dogs she'd never seen.

With her owner's permission, I took her out on a long line.  There were so many things for her to see it was easy to get her to look away from me.  Every time she looked at me, I marked the behavior and gave her a treat.  I worked a couple of five to ten minute sessions with her and then it was time for one of her sibling dogs to compete.  She darted off a few feet and before she hit the end of the long line, stopped and looked at me.  SCORE!!!

The lovely Luna

Obviously, Luna's Mom is going to have a lot of work to do before Luna can be trusted off leash but since one of her hopes is that Luna will be a disc dog like Rogue, check in is going to be vital.  I look forward to seeing Luna at disc dog events in our future.  

Speaking of disc, Rogue and I had a phenomenal day at toss and catch league on Saturday.  She has gone from the dog who had no interest in a disc to our personal best score.  She ran clear across the field to catch a bad throw on my part and wowed everyone there.  I'm very proud of my little black and white dog.

I took her to a local haunted house before it started with the hope of exposing her to people in scary costumes and masks in my efforts to make her a bullet proof therapy dog.  They hadn't dressed up yet but were more than willing to give her some love.  One man did go get a creepy looking clown mask and got down to her level.  She sniffed the mask once and then nudged him for pettings.  She also really wanted to go get the football they were playing with in spite of the fact that it was bigger than her head.  

These weren't exactly the type of friends I wanted her to make at the haunted house.

While Rogue is not really a human sports fan, she was grateful that she was not dressed up after the Cubs won the World series like her siblings.

And since Veterans Day was last week, I took this photo of Rogue at the Oswego Veterans monument.  I have many family  members, friends and family members of friends who have served so, from me and Rogue, thank you for your service.

Next week, she'll have her third birthday.  It's so amazing to believe that it's been that long.  In spite of the fact that she's yelling at me at the top of her deaf dogs have no volume control voice to get off the computer and play with her, I love her more every day.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Has it been a year already?

To say that 2016 hasn't been one of my favorite years would be an understatement.  It might be better to state that this New Year's Eve I will be making sure that the door hits it on the rear end as it makes way for 2017.  Without boring you with too much detail since you aren't here to read about me, we had to move, I broke my right and sprained my left ankle (at the same time and while we were moving), went down to one car and had two very close family deaths.

For those reading this, thanks for sticking with me.  It was fans of the blog that made me sit down today and add another chapter in the adventure that is living with Rogue.

It hasn't been all bad since the last entry.  Rogue participated in her first Updog Challenge with a lot of the same people who saw her in July last year.  She also competed in two other disc competitions in May and September.  I've got a real disc dog now.

Look who is on the cover of this article.

But disc isn't the only sport we've tried.  She's been lure coursing, got her novice trick dog  title and was in her first Barn Hunt competition.  She's not a fan of Barn Hunt.  She loves to roll in the hay, but isn't a fan of the rats.  I think it's more that it's not as interactive with me as the other activities.  

There is no pond in back of the new house and she, Ruby and Steel are really missing swimming time

She loves her new life jacket because it gives her enough buoyancy that she can spend more energy on speed and less on keeping herself afloat.  She doesn't wear the life jacket for swimming most of the time, but we got it in case we take her in a boat.  And how could we resist the one with the fin?

We continue to struggle with her reactivity to dogs that make eye contact with her while she's on leash.  It's our biggest challenge in getting her to be a therapy dog.  She's been getting lots of practice.  She has visited a rehab facility and it was amazing how just her presence brightened the residents' faces.

Here she is at a disc dog demo.  I love the fact that I can hand children a disc and she will chase that disc with as much enthusiasm as she does with me and drop it at their feet.  She still loves kids and they certainly seem to love her.  

Our plan for the reactivity is we're going back into training.  I'm hoping that a class with other dogs will give me an opportunity to reward her for ignoring them.  Sometimes, it takes someone else's perspective to get you past a problem you're having issues correcting.  This applies to hearing dogs as well as deaf ones.  

Another plus is the progress of her relationship with my husband.  They've always had a bit of a distant relationship with her really having little to do with him unless I'm not around.   My dear hubby has gone out of his way to work on that and the results are a testament to his hard work.  I've found that she really likes physical affection on her terms.  She's very snuggly in the morning and at bed time but she also likes chin scratches and butt rubs during the day.  She's not a daytime snuggler, 

It's time for my butt rubbins!!!                                                             

So we progress.  She'll be three next month and it doesn't seem like it could possibly have been that long.  She is an adult, but she's an adult like a 20-year-old is an adult.  From my experience with Steel and Ruby, she doesn't become a true adult for another year or two.   She frustrates, infuriates and amazes me still.  

And even though she's standing next to me right now yelling at me because I am not throwing any of the five toys she's brought me as I'm working on this, I know it's not just because she is looking for something to do, it's because she's looking for something to do with me.  

I think that's pretty cool and I'd better get to it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Deaf Dog Appreciation Week

Rogue and I would like to take a moment to appreciate and thank everyone who has ever brought a deaf dog into their home.   This includes foster homes as well as those who have welcomed a deaf dog into their family.  As I sit here at the computer and play fetch with the dog who will not EVER stop, I can't imagine life without her and she can't imagine that I would ever want or need to stop throwing the toy.

So, since last time, Rogue has earned her Canine Good Citizen certification.  I admit, I didn't expect her to pass and took the test to see what we needed to work on.  She was awesome and did everything I asked of her.   This is a great first step toward therapy dog certification.  It's not necessary to get the CGC to be a therapy dog, but it includes a lot of the same tests and it's a good measure of what you have to work on before you try therapy dog certification.

At the Australian Shepherd Rescue Midwest party and fund raiser, Aussiepalooza a couple weeks ago, she was great.  There were a lot of dogs and the only time she had issues was when we were in some tight quarters.  Her dog reactivity is still a concern since she doesn't give any subtle hints but goes straight for shouting at the top of her voice.  Work in progress and only a problem when she's on leash.  In fact, there were over half a dozen aussies frolicking in a fenced field with her and she had fun when she wasn't sitting by the fence wondering where I was.

At one point, I was able to leave her with a couple of kids while I went into an enclosed area and it worked out well.  The kids enjoyed some Rogue kisses and I was able to see how she is with other handlers when I'm within sight.  She was great!

Rogue makes two new friends.  

She was well loved and I was surprised how many people asked me if that was THE Rogue.  I can't imagine there being two of them.  She's getting a bit of a reputation in the places that we frequent and made a great impression at the feed store that just opened up.  Everyone always comments about how sweet she is.  It really warms my heart to hear that.   The breed isn't known for being that accepting of strangers.  

So, now that we have our CGC, what next?

We're still working on Barn Hunt and I'm going to start trick training her.  We need something to do once it gets too cold to swim in the pond and chase frisbees.  I want to work on some disc dog tricks that don't require a lot of space so that once it's disc season again, we'll be ready to do more than just toss and fetch... assuming she's not sick.  (sigh)

Not so much exciting at the moment, but I couldn't not post on Deaf Dog Appreciation Day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Deaf dogs CAN

It amazes me sometimes to hear how surprised people are at the things Rogue can do.  Currently, there's nothing we have tried to train her that she hasn't learned to do. In addition to canine disc, we're starting to learn Barn Hunt.  She's been dock diving and we're enrolled in a Click-a-Trick class.  I can't forget training for her therapy dog certification.  I know hearing dogs who can't do all this stuff.  And, of course, she can get a jar of grease out of the sink and lick it clean in under ten minutes.  (sigh)

Yes, that's a glass jar formerly filled with grease.  

But it's not just Rogue.  Other deaf dogs are proving just how much they can do.   Here is Decibel, a canine disc dog who this year won a Freestyle competition in Quebec.

Is that awesome or what?

Don't let the fact that your dog can't hear convince you that you can't do all those fun things you always wanted to do with her.  

Kira, is her human buddy's running partner.   

With those ears, you'd think she could hear something.

And Rogue's buddy, Belle already has her Master of Tricks and is all the way up to NW3 in nosework.

I smell the food.  Give me the food.

When she's not kayaking.

So really, it's not the dogs preventing us from doing what we want with them... it's us.  They are just as eager and happy to learn as their hearing brethren.  Communication is the key.  Dogs are used to communicating mostly in a nonverbal manner, it's we, the humans, that have to get with the program.

Someone shared this video with me on Facebook and while it's not specifically geared toward training deaf dogs, it happens to be pretty awesome for doing just that.

Now, one little point here and it was something we discovered.  When we were training Rogue, Curt didn't bother saying anything because, well, she's deaf.  He had a lot of trouble getting her to respond because since he wasn't verbalizing, he wasn't conveying any sense of excitement or fun. When he went back to verbalizing, his excitement carried over to his body language and Rogue learned quicker.

 Obviously, the guy in this video is very animated so it's not a problem for him but it is something to keep in mind that we have to convey excitement with our bodies since they can't hear it in our voices.  One more thing that I'll go into more detail once I get my video done, when you're trying to come up with a sign for what you're trying to teach, make it natural.  There's nothing wrong with using ASL signs, but you may find in the process of teaching your dog something, they find a cue from your body language that will become their sign for that activity.  I do have a video of some of the signs we use on the list.

What's going on in Rogue's world right now?  Well, we have been busy.  We did a demo at the Wisconsin State fair and Rogue learned that she really likes to perform in front of an audience.  We have a big disc dog competition this weekend she is staying home from because she has kennel cough.  This is the same competition she missed last year because she was in heat.  

She's still pushing boundaries and our buttons and she's still the most challenging dog we've ever trained completely outside her being deaf, but we love her.  Of course, you might want to check out #goddammitrogue to see some of her antics.  Here she is, resting after a day of chaos with Steel.