An exchange today in the park..
The setting: a wooded park, next to a stream where Marge is dipping her feet and sniffing for stinky things.
The characters: myself, my sister and Marge, and a man and woman with a large Yellow Lab.
*woman begins to approach with her dog, who is pulling on the leash to come over to Marge* Woman: "Is your dog friendly?"
*with her approach, I begin to gather up Marge's 20' leash and move farther down*
Me (not wanting to go into the whole fearful dog spiel, nor thinking that I need to): "No, I'm sorry, she's not friendly."
*Marge, at this point, looks up at the Lab*
Woman (obviously mistaking Marge's apparent curiosity for wanting to come over): "Are you sure?"
*I now begin moving away more quickly as she is obviously not getting the hint*
Me: No. She is not friendly.
Woman: Well.. you could at least say it nicely!!!
Me (puzzled): Well.. you could ask before you start approaching!
Woman: I DID ask!
Me (not wanting to argue with this horrible example of dog ownership): Okay then. You have a nice day. *walks away*
I was appalled at this woman's pushiness.. yet, I was wrong for not allowing her dog to approach mine. People are so quick to question what a dog's owner says about it's behavior, yet if anything were to happen, who would be blamed? There are plenty of times where I do let Marge approach other dogs, but I know her triggers (large bumbly Labs are one of them) and I do not need a total stranger commenting to me in this manner. I was not rude, either.. I was moving away because she was moving towards my dog.
This was not our only problem today at the park.. before arriving, Marge had the displeasure of seeing our dreaded, scary neighbor from inside my car, and that set the mood for the subsequent trip to be tension-filled. She actually full-out reacted towards a man she saw in the park.. he wasn't paying her any mind at all, either. I believe this is a trickle-down effect, so to speak.. because any time she sees (and reacts toward) this particular neighbor, she is usually edgy for some time afterward.
Hopefully, with the colder weather coming, we can regroup, avoid these unwanted encounters and start off on the right foot into next year's Spring.
Now, I'd like to acknowledge a couple of my blog friends.
First, a very overdue thank-you to Rufus and Indie, who sent us a gift when we placed in their Summer Photo Contest. Marge finally got to try the biscuits they sent over to us for the first time the other day, and she certainly enjoyed them. Thanks again, guys! (And we're glad to see you blogging again after a long hiatus!)
We've also been tagged by Bijou to play in this game.
I don't do these all the time, but this one is just irresistible. We have to blog about a time where Marge stole human food that she wasn't supposed to get.
It's probably happened a couple of times.. reaching up to lick something on the table, pre-washing the dishes before they go into the dishwasher. But the most memorable time was when she stole my mom's bagel. My mom left her bagel on the counter and went to use the bathroom. I was going out the door for college, and didn't think anything of it. Well.. as soon as I left, Marge reached up and took a piece of the bagel. My mom came out of the bathroom to find her chowing down. So, yes.. Marge is a convicted countersurfer, and probably knows she shouldn't be doing it based on the fact that she always waits until everyone's gone to do it.
Fotunately, she pays no mind to the vegetables or bread (wrapped up, of course) that are often left on the counter.. it is only prepared foods, left completely out in the open, that catch her interest.
And so our summer ends. It was a roller coaster ride for Marge, thanks largely in part to the incessant fireworks and construction that continued all througout July and August and spoiled our walks. With the cooler mornings and nights setting in, I'm starting to see glimpses of my beloved "Winter Marge," who is much more carefree and happy than the summer version, who is bogged down by heat, humidity, and the constant threat of a loud noise or scary person to come our way. So, even though I hate watching the sun go down those few dreaded minutes earlier every single day, and I'm not thrilled with the prospect of returning to another 16 credits of college work tomorrow, I know I'll have my girl back soon, away from the demons that seem to haunt her the most when the sun is shining the brightest.
Monday, August 31, 2009
An exchange today in the park..
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I suppose the title is somewhat misleading, as we did have my mom, grandma, and sister there too, but for all intents and purposes, we had the training hall all to ourselves for one hour last night.
Here's my makeshift course map, if you're interested. I originally thought we weren't going to be able to do a darn thing with this course. When I ran Marge through it the first few times, she was totally not listening and I was screwing up. She was undoubtedly feeding off the laughter coming from my family members as she barreled through the chute over and over again even when not asked to. Thankfully, we pieced it together, though I do see some things I could have done better.
Posted by Sam at 9:26 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Posted by Sam at 2:20 PM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Posted by Sam at 10:25 PM
Monday, August 24, 2009
It started out innocently enough, with Marge chasing her toy as I threw it around the yard.
But, sure enough, chasing turned into tugging..
And tugging led to this..
Which led to this..
I usually don't allow Marge to rip up her toys and have patched up some of them on numerous occasions, but this one was so far gone that I took the squeeker out and let her pull out the stuffing. She doesn't eat it, but really gets great joy for some reason in gutting the toy.
So, Marge won this time. Good thing we get our toys cheap!
We had a weird day today. Lots of short walks, with the first being better than the other two. She was mildly frightened on our walk around 4:30 and also on our walk around 7; however, the incidents were isolated and she seemed to bounce back decently. She has gotten much better in terms of walking near people playing sports in the field, so that's a plus. She also made a turn on her own terms onto a sidestreet, where I let her sniff a tree and then called it quits. Oh, I also lost my keys in the grass, so I brought Marge home (the field was too busy to continue walking her), waited for someone else to come home to let her inside, and then had to go back out and retrace my steps with my mother and my sister in the fading light. I found them just as the sun was going down, luckily.
More on walks n' stuff (minus the losing keys part) tomorrow for Tuesday Training.. oh, and we're going back to Agility after yet another two-week layoff. Woohoo!
Posted by Sam at 9:32 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Posted by Sam at 7:42 PM
Friday, August 21, 2009
The MargeBlog posts have been so infrequent this month, and believe me, it isn't because I'm lazy or unwilling to update.
Posted by Sam at 8:17 PM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Hallo. A very angry Marge here with today's post.
I have come here to tell you about the injustices I've suffered this week. Just lookit my face.. my mad face.. mad mad mad.. hmmph.
First of all, it has been much to warm for a dark doggy like myself. This means:
- there are sticky things called humidities in the air, so my hooman doesn't want to walk me, which I do not like.
- there are no gilities being run, which I do not like.
- there are booms in the air - I think my hooman calls it "thundar" - which I do not like! But today she bribed me with some treats and at least we got to play the flying kibbles game. This "thundar" is less scary to me when kibbles are flying. Go figure!
Also, my hooman is suffering from a disease known as "computer trouble." This disease makes her angry when she sits in front of the big box with the letter pad that she uses to type up MargeBlog posts. That's why I took over this week! I am sad to see my hooman act like this, but she assures me she's backed up all 1,500 pictures (yes there are about that many of just me) that she has of my pretty Marge mug so they will be safe forever, and the disease will be over soon. She says the computer needs to be "wiped out" for everything to be fixed. I wonder if that's the machine version of spaying and neutering? EEK!
Lastly, my hooman teased me with a very brief visit to the park last night. We don't get to go to the park as much anymore because of the humidities. Being there was kind of sad :( because they told me I wasn't going to be able to stay long because it was getting dark out. And, to top it off.. my hooman pulled me away when I tried to roll in a gorgeous, ginormous pile of horse poop! That is just not right!
We stopped in Petsmart too while we were out, where I got pats on the head from a nice lady - my hooman says it reminded her of when I took the See-Gee-See fearful dog bravery test and it made her happy. I also got some stuff for home, but not nearly enough. When they only spend $9 on me, I know something is wrong. One bag of treats and one squeaky toy just does NOT cut it!
My hooman tells me I need to look on the bright side of things instead of yackin' about the bad stuff.. but c'mon, 'tis a hard life for a dog like me.. all we can hope is that next week is better. More gilities, less humidities, no computer troubles and lots of treats. My hooman will be back soon with a "regular" blog update... worth reading, but certainly not as interesting as mine are!
Posted by Sam at 11:58 PM
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The $30 I spent last night on Marge's training was well worth it.
Posted by Sam at 1:45 PM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I've been a little camera-happy lately.. specifically, video-happy.
Shot this last night. Marge had been cooped up all day due to more thunderstorms in the forecast (that never actually came) and got fed up with me not paying attention to her. She took matters into her own paws.
I thought the fact that she play-bowed to her inanimate friend, waiting for him to do something, was absolutely hysterical.
Posted by Sam at 6:28 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I am happy to report that she had no reactive incidents tonight. There were only two of us in class tonight as opposed to the usual three plus the occasional drop-in. She is able to watch the other dogs run much better now that she used to. Certain dogs set her off, yes, but on the whole she can watch and not react. Playing Look at That from Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed has truly been a Godsend in this scenario.
Because of the heat and humidity, we didn't do too much. There was only a Jumpers course out, and we did a couple of different sequences on it. This one was the first:
I'm thankful for Marisa being there to yell out to me, as I would have had so many more mistakes without her there. I kept screwing up and not helping Marge though the weaves enough, and had the same issue repeatedly with the tunnel, as you'll see in the video. She took the reins from me at one point and took Marge over the triple and through the weaves. Marge worked really brilliantly for her. Still, I'm really proud of my handling down those straight three jumps and doing that front cross. Marge was on her A-Game tonight and I'm glad we were able to get a sequence as large as this one in.
Posted by Sam at 10:55 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I went out to Louie's for most of the day yesterday, so I wanted to leave my family with a tired out Marge who wasn't looking for something to do or trying to find me. So, I woke up at 6:15 AM to go on one of the most memorable walks I've taken with Marge so far for forty five minutes across the street in Miller Field.
It was absolutely gorgeous out. Everything was coated in golden. The sun was just creeping up, so the heat of the day had not yet set in. There were not many people out at all, and the only sound we heard was the garbage truck picking up waste from the perimeter of the field. No clicker needed, no treats, no distraction games. Just, for the most part, me, my dog, and an abundance of smells for her to poke at.
We had a couple of good walks today during the day, too, but I kept them ridiculously short, maybe ten minutes each. However, Marge's toy drive has increased so chasing toys in the backyard has become a means of exercise for her as well. She had a zoomy fit that I know must have taken some steam off. Later, too, we will stick close by the house, as the humidity is on the rise and the forecast for tonight doesn't look so good.
Tomorrow is supposed to be one of the hottest days of the summer, and I am sure the next week will be littered with thunderstorms, so I may have to wake up for another early morning walk. I've never been a morning person, but the prospect of walks filled with nothing but beauty and peacefulness are enticing.
Posted by Sam at 3:20 PM
Friday, August 7, 2009
My sister, Marge and I are starting to get ourselves better acquainted with the endless miles of forest trails we have going through our otherwise traffic-ridden island. We went to High Rock Park for the first time not too long ago and decided to head back out for an early hike this morning.
Not knowing much about hiking, I don't know if these symbols are familiar to you all, because I don't know if they're used in other places besides here. But they are the trail markers. The blue trail is one of the longest and we ventured down part of it today, working our way towards the small but pretty Walker Pond. Marge dipped her feet in and came out with paws full of mud.
Though nothing more than a mere stroll in the woods in comparison to some of the adventures other people go on, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were quite pleased with the fact that we were able to navigate the trails without much difficulty. Everyone has to start somewhere.
I tried to get on the Yellow trail, which the Parks Department calls a "moderate-to-difficult" trail, but we seemed to reach a dead end at one point and could not continue. We followed all of the markers, but kept winding up at the same spot, surrounded by downed trees and lots of mud. The Yellow trail leads up to Moses' Mountain, the highest point in the Greenbelt, where we'd really like to go sometime soon. If only we could figure out how to get there!
Unsurprisingly, Marge appreciated being away from the sights and sounds of regular living and had a great time wandering through the park. We walked through the woods at ease, met by very few other individuals - only 2 or 3 (all men) - who Marge wasn't really shaken by. She did hear the sounds of the Boy Scout Camp in the distance near Lake Ohrbach when we decided to wander up that way, but since the goal of this trip was to stay away from everything and just take in nature, I didn't press the issue. We had already been there almost two hours, the temperature was climbing and we were all tired, so we packed up and headed home. She slept contentedly in the living room for a few hours afterward.
Posted by Sam at 4:57 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
We finally got back to Agility this week after a long layoff. It was good to be back at the field, and I'd say it was a positive experience.
I always make sure I get there early with Marge so she has some time to get used to her surroundings. I initially thought we were going to have a rough night, but she seemed to get all of her reactivity over with before class. Her victims:
- a Northern Breed dog (maybe a Malamute?) who she has never seen before. As soon as she saw him setting up in the ring for his run, she got VERY aroused. Didn't bark/lunge, just kind of tried to get at the fence, hackles up, a little bit of forward pulling. It was easy for her to recover from this as we simply played Look at That for the remainder of his run.
- the owner of one of the dogs in our class. She knows this woman, and this woman has given her treats before, so I'm a little baffled over this one. The only thing I can think is that she was carrying a really huge tug toy in her hands and was walking straight towards us. Oddly enough, Marge was VERY happy to see her again at the end of class, when she gave me a piece of burger to hand to Marge. I hope this was just some kind of fluke, because she has never been reactive towards people by themselves at agility.
The actual class pretty much went off without a hitch. I mostly kept Marge away from the other dogs and worked on very simple things, like the tire, chute and tunnel, but she did do some work in close quarters and did just fine.
We did one sequence each with the instructor. It was supposed to be just a simple 3 jump serpentine, but she extended it for Marge and I:
I think my handling is improving substantially. I no longer hunch over when I run, I'm a little more fluid I think, and now I just have to work on my hand positioning. Either it's all over the place, or, like in the case of this video, I'm consciously telling myself (and being repeatedly told) to keep it up, so it looks artificial.
Does her stride look okay to you guys in the video? She seemed like she was popping up over some of the jumps rather than gliding over them. The flew through the chute and tunnel every time we did it, though. She didn't seem to have a problem with anything else, but did look a little shaky at one point on the Dog Walk. I'm not too worried, but I'll keep an eye on her. She had no hesitance to do anything until the very end, when she refused the tire.
We also did serpentines with front crosses, and I invented a couple of my own, very simple, one-sided sequences to work on. One was taking a jump and pushing her hard into the chute - no problem with that, probably because of the novelty of the chute. Another was some tire/jump/tunnel combinations. I don't like to get too creative at class, because I'd rather have a non-reactive Marge doing simple sequences than an off-the-wall Marge doing harder ones.
After class, Marge socialized a little bit with the dogs in the class after us, who are MUCH more stable than the ones we're in class with. She met a very handsome Viszla boy for the first time and seemed rather smitten with him. We've seen him before at the field, but never said hello. Sweet, gentle dog.
And that was it from tonight. In related news, I am probably going to be renting the training hall so Marge and I can work solo, without the threat of reactivity, uncontrolled dogs, strange people or hopping bunnies in the background. The rates are very affordable, and I think if we get some extra time in, it'll make being at the field easier for her.
I'm still giving Melatonin on and off, mostly before long walks and storms. I'm not sure that it has much of an effect, but we're only a week into it and the vet said to give it three weeks.
In terms of regular walking, we did none today and will likely do very little tomorrow, due to heat/humidity and possible thunderstorms. I had a huge breakthrough with Marge last night using a cup filled with wet food. I put a little bit of wet food onto a spoon and that would be Marge's reward. She was perfectly comfortable walking in the crowded field using this high-value reward. To save the novelty, however, I will probably only use it sparingly and mostly use it for walking on the actual streets.
I guess we're headed in the right direction. I hope so!
Posted by Sam at 10:31 PM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Posted by Sam at 3:15 PM
A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
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