May 182019

The Couch Princess Rocks On!
by Doranna

Three years!

Alice has been here three years this month, which makes her eight years old.

All things being equal, we like to get our dogs as pups and start training right away.  But some times all things aren’t equal, and one ends up with a hole in the pack, and and one is really, REALLY lucky when the perfect dog comes along to fill it.

Modest Alice

The Princess is too modest for paparazzi.

We lost our pack princess, and five-year-old Alice happened to be looking for her own pack.  She was everything we hoped for–a well-socialized champion of lovely temperament from an expert breeder, the perfect age for our pack, and the boys luuuurved her at first sight.

Alice is a soft, sweet, giggly girl who wasn’t reliably housetrained because she’d talked herself into believing she had no other option.  (Demonstrably not true, but this is the way of it sometimes.)  Because of that, she’d gotten into the habit of bedwetting from a deep sleep…even if sitting on the couch right beside you.  (Ask me how I know.)

We knew this ahead of time, of course; my hope was to resolve this issue in time but without rushing her, and we had plenty of options to manage it in the meanwhile.

We also hoped she would like to play in rally obedience, but again, without rushing.  Because of her soft nature, I gave her nearly half a year of settling in and structure before we started training games, plenty of chance to connect and feel safe.  (I’m sure this time frame could have been sped up considerably, but I had no reason to push it and I didn’t.)

Dart sitting on Alice

Dart (sitting) doesn’t like Alice at all. Not one little bit. He never cuddles with her. At all.

It was another year before she tested for her CGC, and then a few more months before her first rally trial. She earned her novice title in three straight classes with high placements.  That makes her an Achiever Dog, too!  (CH Luvbug Copper Rose More Than Feeling RN CGC)

And, she would like you to know, we worked on housetraining along the way and she’s been accident-free for well over a year.  She also giggles a lot, asks for training sometimes, and has learned to ring a bell on command just for kicks.

All of that’s just a bonus, because the moment she walked into our yard, she owned it.  She became the stabilizing center of our pack, and in that she has never wavered.  We are unendingly proud of the way she broke through her own preconceptions about learning and, er, peeing, and we adore her.

Every year for Gotcha Month, Alice likes to donate to adoption organizations.  She usually chooses Animal Humane and All Ears Basset Sanctuary, both of which with we’ve had personal experience and admire greatly.

She thinks all sweet, giggly lady dogs should have their Gotcha Months, too.


May 082019

This blog is harder than you think it’s gonna be
by Doranna

There’s a thing about animals, and it is this: An animal in an unbearable situation shuts itself down to cope.

So you get horses like Takota, who–still recovering from long term undernourishment and circumstances in which he didn’t thrive–was expertly assessed as super thoughtful, super eager to please.  (Well, he IS eager to please.)  And I totally get that, I don’t judge that–it’s exactly how he presented.  Only when he grew healthier, had his new routines, his new safety, his new mental freedom, did his true anxiety come out.  [He’s doing very well now, a year later and on a magnesium calmer.  Still very much himself, and starting to blossom into the horse everyone thought he could be.]

And you also get a dog like Benjy.

Very much loved in Home2

In six months of his known history, Benjy went from pack dog to loose dog to Shelter1 to Shelter2 to Home1 back to Shelter2 (not housebroken, DUH) to Home2 for only a month before his separation anxiety made clear it wasn’t a good match, no matter how he was loved.  (And he was.  Very much.) We connected through a caring breeder, captivated by his description as a gentle, quiet dog who would fit perfectly into our pack for his golden years. Continue reading »

Apr 072019

by Doranna

Benjy Beagle is a handsome elder statesman originally from West Virginia, where he spent his life in a hunting pack.  No one has to guess at this, although he came through the shelter system without identifying details–his freeze brands tell that tale. Continue reading »

Mar 032019

by Doranna

As we know, Bob, it’s been a while since I was blogging with any regularity.  Long enough, in fact, that Things Canine have undergone quite a few changes.

Tristan, for instance, was less than six months old when I last blogged.  Now he’s a young man with significant titles on both ends, about to head to AKC Agility Nationals!  So here’s a part 1 re-introduction: Continue reading »

May 122015

by Doranna

decisions-407742_1280The last time I blogged through, I was pondering the effects of a rut of bad luck/stresses/downturns in a number of areas in my life–the slow transition to floundering joy and the sensation of ongoing loss and failure.

The solution, I decided, is to reframe the journey. Targeting not being [anxious/stressed/sad] is still, in the end, focusing on those negative things. Seeking confidence, on the other hand…

Definitely working better. But not without ongoing opportunities to practice. Continue reading »

Mar 312015

by Doranna

grrr!  grrr!

grrr! grrr!

I’m no stranger to dog fights.

I started my first pack while living remotely in the mountains—extraordinary, experienced varmint hunters who didn’t just squabble when the time came for the changing of the guard.  No, they inflicted significant damage.  As we were three hours from the vet we couldn’t afford, it behooved me not only to know how to break these fights up, but how to prevent them.

With a former feral dog as the pack’s foundation, I’d always managed them on a fairly primal level—as part of the pack, on their terms.  Boss bitch.  But while this allowed me to break the fights up without taking damage, it didn’t prevent them.  And as they escalated, I decided that they needed more than policing—that in fact, the policing sometimes made things worse.  They needed, individually, to know they were secure and loved. Continue reading »

Mar 252015

Tristan Beagle continues to grow up faster than I can even type about him.

tb.teeth.469See? Teething!  And between the day I took this pic and am writing this blog, those missing front teeth have largely grown in!

He has a lot of fun stuff in his life, along with the ongoing ball of activity we dryly call the PuppyCat Unit.  He visits my dad at the hospice residence, goes to Connery and Dart’s obedience drill for a few moments of play and socialization, heads to our version of a National Forest to play with scent on our tracking practice grounds, and loves the daily games also known as training.

(Many of those games are simply building body awareness, but he also has an early understanding of sit, down, stay, heel, show stacking, bringing me an object, taking an object from hand, come, go to kennel, stay in kennel until released, wait at door to come in, leave it alone, let it go, and I’m probably forgetting something because these are all just things we DO.)

Most recently, he attended a puppy party. Continue reading »

Mar 142015

0711.connery.teeter.LJIt can be hard to work with genius.

Take Connery Beagle.  He’s honest and hardworking and loves to sing his song of self, and did I mention honest?  By which I mean internally as well as externally.  He’s not so tangled in his inner thoughts that he gets in his own way.

But Dart’s an unusual boy.  He vibrates with atomic intensity, he’s brilliant, and he desperately wants to be good and right.  But he’s so emotional—and so completely devoid of impulse control—that he constantly gets in his own way. Continue reading »