Tag Archives: obedience class

Happy Gotcha-Day Callie-Wag

To the girl who started it all, the one who fit the missing space in our family, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love you.

You are magic. Your presence has changed our family for the better since the day we saw you; first on Petfinder, with your terrified eyes and ridiculous looking picture – you still make yourself look like a fat turtle in some photos – and then, in person, at the rescue. Again you looked scared beyond belief but you rose above your fear to protect your fellow adult rescue, cutting her off to keep her from pacing too close to the wires where she would jump up and cut her feet. That’s who you are. A lover, a protector of other animals from whatever possible abuses you had experienced at the puppy mill where you had been churning babies out for years.

Even in your eyes on the car ride home, I could see the love blooming, despite your understandable myriad of fears.

I can’t fully put into words just how special you are, Callie, instead I have a photo tribute. Happy First Gotcha-Day baby girl!

The ride home from the rescue
Is that love hidden behind the fear? The car ride home.

 

Callie snuggling on couch
Callie learned that kids make the best friends, and cuddle buddies.
Callie running
Callie learned to go for walks, even if it meant she had to run to catch up
Callie walking
She got a little better at walks šŸ˜‰
That first time you fell asleep on me. ā¤ļø
Callie watching us in the snow
Callie learned what snow was, but questioned why we played in it.

Callie did amazing in her first obedience class.

And then she got to learn what a real vacation was on ourĀ Cavalier & Mother’s Day vacation at Wilburton Inn in Manchester, VT.

Our Twitter CavPack book with our dear friends’ faces and silly pictures throughout.
That time we brought home a puppy. You don’t look very happy in this photo, Callie.
Rescue Cavalier's Callie and Charlie snuggle
Serious little brother love happened anyway.

So much so, he taught you to play –

We started having doggie play dates and you found a new best friend.
Although you’ve been a bit sick lately and we’ve even started acupuncture to help, that hasn’t changed everything about you.
Callie's smile
You’re still one of the smiliest girls around šŸ˜Š
We were bad, we couldn’t resist getting her some kind of treat for her gotcha-day šŸ˜‰šŸ˜
Because this girl gets to experience freedom forever, even the freedom to go past the yard limit and get in trouble (recognize that facial expression anyone šŸ˜‚)

Mom made her dinner gotcha-day cake, although sitting at the table was a little scary!

Charlie's bowtie
Charlie looked dapper with his first bow-tie

I love you forever Callie Wag. I hope we will be so lucky as to be celebrating your gotcha-day next year when you turn 8.

pic of Callie snuggling
My heart and soul. This dog is magic.

If you want to see another small tribute to Callie, check out this post from the mini version of Callie’s Wag, a new blog on a local website called the DailyUV.

Doggie Dates

It’s been a little difficult to find playmates for Charlie. Callie isn’t big on puppy play although within the last week or two she has started to wrestle a little and play back when he gets obnoxious.

Due to his health issues, we were delayed in signing up for a puppy class with an obedience instructor I like and trust, so we’ve now missed out on that chance for socialization as he will be too old to be in a puppy class during the next session.

All of the other young and/or playful dogs Charlie has met are larger than him, usually by quite a bit. These bigger, bouncy, playful dogs tend to intimidate Charlie although there are a couple, like my ex-h’sĀ excellent Lab, Cyrus, with whom Charlie has learned he is safe.

I was beginning to get frustrated, not even running into other people with small playful dogs, so I wrote to our local listserv. Yes, that’s right, here in the boonies we still work with listservs and theyĀ are GREAT! The basic idea is – every town around us has their own listserv where people can send in messages which get delivered in a daily digest to subscribers emails. There is also one for, what’s called, the Upper Valley, which is the region we are in. I sent a message to the main listserv for the whole Upper Valley as well as for my local town asking if anyone else had younger, smaller puppies they were looking to exercise/socialize and if so, to contact me to set up a play date.

The next morning I had two responses!

The most exciting,Ā for me anyway, was an email from a woman who lives in our town and owns two Cavaliers, Gibby and Cider, 3 & 2.5 years (L, feel free to correct me if I got their ages wrong.) While the two dogs weren’t as young as I had hoped, one of the things I have been really missing is a little local “cavpack” of my own that can hang out together. Many of those on Twitter live near each other in the UK and can have meetups with the dogs, to which I am endlessly jealous.

L (Gibby and Cider’s mom) described the dogs, and they sounded like a great match, so we met for a walk.

Gibby on the pation
Smiling, sweet Gibby

 

Gibby is a big goof who loves other small dogs, although he, like Charlie, has had some chance encounters, and unlike Charlie, remembers one particularly not nice one that involved a larger dog. They are working on that.

 

Cider, our other new Cavalier friend
Cider the Beautiful Blenheim

 

Cider is a sweet, petite beauty who loves to play but, like many female dogs, is also happy to be independent among other dogs.

 

 

The walk went GREAT! We went down to a boat launch area, and Callie even thought about swimming! Callie, out of the two, was not the one I would have guessed to be the water dog, but we have to get her out swimming as it is such great exercise and easy on her stiff joints.

After the test walk, we decided to have a play date at L’s house as she has a fenced in yard. Her daughter, A, is 12 and fantastic at helping handle the dogs. She really made the playdate happen! I think L and IĀ were too busy talking.Ā šŸ¤£

The doggie date was awesome. All the dogs had nothing but waggy tails and big grins the whole time. And when no one else would play puppy games with Charlie, A stepped up and was psyched to have a puppy to run around with again!

 

Callie, of course, found herself a new boyfriend.

 

 

 

And the best part is, we get to do it again today!

Nothing but WAGGY TAILS here!

 

 

Healing and Heeling

I’m so proud of Callie. She taught me aĀ valuable lesson last week, and together we informed our obedience instructor of a new piece of information to add to her large knowledge base.

After the dragging required by our instructor last week (when Callie would stop walking… read more here) Callie was totally afraid of the word heel and would pull back immediately if she hit the end of the leash, as if in preparationĀ for being dragged. She was also a little more fearful of me.

So, I started over. First, I rid the word heel from my vocabulary. Then I refused to drag her along as I walked. For the first couple of days, I would stop when she did, give her leash a quick tug, saying, “come on,” or “let’s walk” show her a treat and call her along. Then I moved to pulling her along for two steps, stopping, calling to her and usually she would start walking so she would get a treat.

I did go get a martingaleĀ collar and a much lighter leash to which she responded very well.

Finally, on the day before class, I began reintroducing the word “heel” on occasion, interspersed with the other commands I had been giving. She would stop at first but grew more comfortable as we went along.

Tuesday came, and it was time for class. I spoke to the instructor ahead of time. I tried to explain about puppy mill dogs and how they are only ever grabbed by their scruffs, why that might make Callie react the way she does when pulled on the leash. The instructor listened to me, although I am not sure she fully paid attention to what I was trying to tell her until class began.

Beforehand, I had been smart and stopped for some smoked cheese. I broke it up into little bits in my treat bag and mixed it with her regular Zukes treats so those would be coated with cheese too.

We began class with heeling around the room, Callie started with a pause, a little nervous and reactionary after the week before. Who could blame her? But I got out a little cheese. Suddenly, I had a dog who was heeling perfectly around the room. A few pieces of cheese kept her going, but she was passing other dogs who weren’t behaving quite as well. The instructor’s jaw was nearly on the floor.

We worked on heeling turns next. Callie seems to get really frustrated when she doesn’t know what I want from her, so I had to help her a lot with this, keeping her in place while trying to turn, LOL.

We heeled around the room again, stopping to do heeling turns. Callie did great, especially with the cheese as an incentive, but finally, she hit her limit and sat, refusing to move. I recognized that she needed a break, so I just sat in the middle of the floor with her while all the other dogs went around us.

The last thing we did in class was begin work on recall with the instructor holding the leash and us across the room. Not only did Callie do a beautiful sit-stay while I walked across the room from her, but she ran to me with excellent speed and intent.

Callie was the star student last week. Now let’s see if we can keep it up tomorrow. All I know is that learning with Callie is often following along blindly and stumblingĀ our way through each moment.

Jess and I took Callie to the park this weekend. She made a new best friend, the flying turtle! Plus she practiced her obedience work outside with kids around. My brilliant dog šŸ˜Š.

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Flying turtle!
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Happy Dog!

Guess what else! This morning I got my first semblance of a doggie smile while giving Callie some scratchies šŸ’–Ā fullsizeoutput_d7f

Callie, Cavitude, and Obedience Class

Oh, Callie. There were a couple of stressful events in her life last week.

Last Monday an excellent traveling groomer came to our house to give Callie her first groom since the one she got when she left the puppy mill – aside from a few terrible hack jobs by me on her feet and ears.

I chose to have a groomer come here rather than take her to one because I could only imagine the stress she would experience. The groomer, Dirk, was fantastic. He spent about 15 minutes on the floor with her first, just talking to her and letting her sniff him, his equipment, etc.

When I put her on the table, she didn’t freak out or try to get away, that’s not Callie’s m.o. anyway. She sat, stoically, or stood, depending on what he needed, for a long time. I never left the room, he and I chatted the whole time – either to each other or to her – and she took it in stride for a while. Then she decided she was done.

When Callie is done, she is DONE. She sits and won’t move. You can pick her up, but she won’t move her body out of the sitting position. You can offer her all the treats in the world, she’ll eat them, but she sure won’t change her mind.

Dirk, having worked with animals for years in different settings, recognized this immediately. He tried a couple of his own tricks and when they didn’t work either, “we” decided the grooming was over.

He did a fantastic first job on Callie. I was impressed with his ability to recognize what was too hard for her and stay away from it. Did she end up with the full cut she needed? Not quite, but he listened to her instead which was far more important to me. And she looks great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The attitude she gives when she is done with something – that’s Cavitude. Cavaliers are sweet, loving, easy-going dogs who are relatively well-behaved and usually easy to train, except every now and then a little ‘tude sneaks in, and you get Cavitude.

Previously, Callie has decided that she is DONE when I am in the middle of a store, like the pet store, and will sit down and refuse to move. Public Displays of Cavitude. The easiest solution for me is to pick her up and move her to wherever I need her to be, but now that has gotten me into a lot of trouble.

Tuesday, Callie and I had our first obedience class. Given that I am relatively dog experienced and that she is a rescue, I wanted to give her time to let down and bond before we moved into classes. We’ve done home training up until this point.

Callie knows to sit and wait to be released for her food. She’s working on stay, come, down, and still, her biggest fear – going down flights of stairs.

I tried to remind myself of how good she is, how she follows me, etc., as I went into class, and I started to feel pretty confident. Shoulda just smeared dog poop on my face right then. #Cavitude.

After being given some time to investigate, we started with heeling around the room. Apparently, Callie thought the floor was so much more exciting than walking with me that she continued to stop every few feet.

I got in trouble for letting my dog teach me to stop whenever she wanted. So the trainer made me keep walking when Callie stopped, as in drag her. Nobody could believe just how stubborn Callie was being about walking, refusing to get up. My treats weren’t tasty enough, though thankfully we located some cheese which helped the situation immensely.

The whole time I was there I felt embarrassed about my skills as a dog trainer but, afterward, I wondered whether she was really right. Whether it was just stubbornness. While she’s correct to an extent and I can’t just let Callie stop me whenever she wants, I also think it’s detrimental to continue to drag her if she continues to refuse. And it goes against all my positive training methods.

I don’t think this woman understands the mindset of puppy mill rescues – if it gets scary, most dogs will run away or bite or do something whereas for many puppy mill rescues,Ā specifically, if something gets scary, their first instinct is to hunker down and not move. I forgot that too, knowing Callie as I do.

How much of Callie’s refusal to walk part of the time – we did get her walking – was caused by her stubborn personality I have come to know, and how much was caused by her natural fear reaction? I don’t know. But I think the instructor and I are going to have a talk about how I am going to get Callie prepared for the “heeling” part of the obedience class. Without being stopped every 3 feet or dragging her.

By the way, Vermont played an April Fool’s joke this year. It was super funny:

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