June, 2002

June 8, 2002

Okay, I *know* I just missed the first week of June. I got the copy-edits on my book from my publisher, and I've been heads down.

Last week was kind of frustrating. Pax's training is going fine, but I may not be showing him this fall. The budget belt is tightening. The fact is, showing isn't cheap. First, there's equipment -- show collar, show lead, grooming table and equipment, cooling mats, etc. In addition, fun matches -- which I truly believe are necessary for preparing a dog to show -- and the show itself cost money. Because I'm a novice, I also need to attend some shows ahead of time to watch the details I haven't paid attention to before, such as how the collar should be positioned when stacking and gaiting. Those shows would have entrance fees, catalog fees, and of course it would cost gas money (and let's be honest, I'd want lunch too). All those little expenses add up.

I'm not going to stop training him though (but I will admit that it's tough to motivate myself to work with him without a goal). He'll be showing eventually. He just may have to do his "practicing" as an adult instead of as a puppy. <shrug> A pain in the butt, but not tragic.

Anyway, here's a current picture -- taken today, his eight-month birthday. He's getting big! He is just a tiny bit shorter than Rain, my adult Newf -- though he's only half Rain's weight. He's also growing a bit unevenly -- look at how high his hips are. (His back should be level.) Too funny.

June 21, 2002

Holy cow! I can't believe the month is almost over. Not much is happening around here. I've been working on edits from my publisher and an update of the CS Web site (hopefully finished by Labor Day). Soon I have to get busy on my next book. I'm still on a major budget, and showing Pax this fall still looks unlikely. Therefore, I haven't been very motivated to work with him. Some friends of mine are going to hold a clicker conformation class in August, and I'm going to splurge and enter him in that. I'm also hoping to make a trip to the Washington peninsula at the end of August to see Bob Bailey when he visits Terry Ryan.

Pax is his typical delightful self. We made a trip to PetSmart -- our first since early May. He was terribly distracted at first, but I persisted with clicks and treats for any attentive behavior, and eventually he was heeling nicely and doing sits and downs. He wasn't as sharp and attentive as he was when we were training regularly, but I didn't expect him to be.

Rain has him completely cowed. Obviously I'm not in Rain's head, but if I had to theorize about what's going on, I'd guess that Rain is responding to the testosterone surge that accompanied Pax's arrival at adolescence. Rain really tightened up control around the house, making sure Pax knew his place was firmly at the bottom of the ladder. I try to stay out of it, except when Rain and I have different goals. Rain my want Pax to stay out of the living room, but if I call him in, I want him to come in unmolested.

Pax is very funny about all this. He is a very polite pup, very appropriate with other dogs. He has no desire to challenge Rain. He has decided that he isn't allowed to come into the living room without Rain's permission, and he'll sit in the doorway and whine softly, even when Rain is completely ignoring him. If I don't call him in -- and sometimes even when I do -- he'll run across the end of the room and navigate his way to me by sneaking behind the couch. The funniest part is that both Rain and Pax have designated the ottoman "home free." Once Pax gets there, he's free to be obnoxious and Rain will leave him alone.

How do they come up with these rules?

June 25, 2002

I am constantly fascinated by my dogs. Pax's vision is so different from mine -- so different that scientists aren't exactly sure what dogs see -- but it's utterly extraordinary.

Last night, Pax and I were looking out my north-facing, second-story, bedroom window. It was after 10:00. There was still some light in the western sky, but it was getting very dark. To me, the world has faded to muddied, hard-to-distinguish shades of grey, all washed with a dark but transluscent blue. Details were lost to me.

Pax became focused on the window -- the glass itself. I looked, but I couldn't see anything in the darkness. He was so intent, though, that I crouched down and positioned myself so the the glass was contrasted against the light in the western sky. I finally found what he was staring at -- an insect I call a "mosquito catcher" -- it looks like a giant mosquito. He could see it when it was still and when it moved. It was behind the glass, so he couldn't, to his dismay, catch and eat it. What fascinates me most was that he was looking down -- his view didn't have the contrast that I needed to find the bug. Even when I knew it was there, I couldn't see it (still or moving) if I sat up.

It's possible that he was using his sense of smell, not his eyes, but I don't think so. I was watching him, and his nostrils weren't "scenting." My vet told me that the configuration of a dog's eyes makes them see exceptinally well in low light. (Differently from a cat, however.) I believe it!

July, 2002

July 8, 2002

Apparently I've begun to believe that the month begins on the 8th, not the 1st. Oh well. Better late than never. Here's a less-than-perfect picture. (I know it's way too dark. I'm still using Paint.) He's in a funky position, but you can see how tall he has gotten, and you can see that his front end is catching up with his back end.

He has developed a fetish for unripe fruit. We have several fruit trees in the back yard -- fig, a couple of plums, apple, and several pears. Pax started by picking the unripe figs. Though he does shred them, his initial purpose is to play with them on our hardwood floors. It's the same game he plays with ice cubes -- he tosses them, bats them, pushes them with his nose. Mama and daddy are forbidden to participate in the game, except to retrieve errant pieces of fruit from under the furniture.

He has stripped the fig tree as high as he can reach when standing on his hind legs. So now he has turned to apples. Although it's devastatingly cute, it's also devastating to the trees. Jay is about to kill him. I've told Pax that he's close to getting locked in the house, but he seems unconcerned.

He's just too cute. I've started walking him in a harness. I've made a "rule" for our household. On the harness, he can act like an idiot and walk most anywhere as long as he isn't actually pulling me around. On collar he must walk nicely beside me. (Dogs are excellent discriminators, so as long as I reinforce appropriately and consistently, he can learn the difference.)

When we go out on harness, he pulls his bucking bronco routine for the first five minutes or so, then he settles and walks pretty darn normally. Those first few minutes are simply "getting the ya-yas out." He's entitled -- poor kid has more energy than he knows what to do with. So I just hang on, play tug, and try to keep my feet when he slams into me, and within a few minutes, he settles and trots along nicely. Too, too cute. (He doesn't, by the way, like to be passed by big trucks when we're walking along the shoulder of the road.)


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