I can't believe I missed Pizza's 10 month birthday on May 31st! Her puppy months are flying by, and I am extra sad because the stupid pandemic is making me lose her puppy career completely. Thank goodness I was able to get enough accomplished in February to earn enough points for her Puppy of Achievement certificate from AKC.
I spent a lot of time outside with the dogs today, and I also spent a lot of time packing and obsessing over what I need to bring with me to Texas this weekend. Flying a puppy makes me very nervous. I am fully prepared if the airline decides to not let me bring the puppy in cabin, I will rent a car and drive the 2 day drive home from Texas. Man, I hope that doesn't happen!
And heeeeeeere he is! Introducing "Dolphin, known formally as Image's N About Time's Making A Splash I arrived in Texas this afternoon, and the picture-taking started. My beautiful Pretzel litter has already started to go to their new homes. The other three puppies will stay in Texas.
In preparation for our big trip, Dolphin got his first bath today. Like a typical Weim, he wasn't exactly thrilled with it, but he tolerated being soaped up and rinsed. I spent the evening getting things prepared for our long flight home tomorrow - packing some extra dog food, getting his carrier ready, and generally stressing about getting him through the TSA and on to the flight. You know, usual stuff for me.
Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams.
It is so easy to get caught up in the past - woulda coulda shoulda! Regrets can wear a person down. This year - NO REGRETS. I am going to try to spend less time worrying about what happened, and more time making plans and then executing them. It is time to GET IT DONE. Keep dreaming, but put some action behind those dreams and drive them forward!
We got up early and headed to the San Antonio airport. Dolphin whined and cried the entire car ride, even though he was in my lap the whole time. This didn't bode well for the all-day plane trip!
Our first hurdle was getting through the baggage and ticketing check-in. Easy-peasy. I paid the $95 to bring the puppy as a carry on, they tagged his carrier, and didn't even inspect it.
Next was the TSA checkpoint. I got him out of the carrier and carried him through the x-ray. The TSA agents loved him, petted him, scanned me and waved us on through. Another hurdle crossed. I am starting to feel more confident about this trip.
Boarding the first flight was actually pretty easy! The flight attendants were excited to see him, and told me I could take him out of the carrier and hold him in my lap for the flight. This first flight was only from San Antonio to Houston, and was just an hour long. Dolphin was SO much happier being in my lap, and he slept most of the flight.
In Houston we had a 2 1/2 hour layover. I took him several times to the family restroom, laid potty pads down in hopes that he would go to the bathroom, but no luck. For the most part he laid at my feet on a blanket, but when some young children came by to pet him, he was very excited and animated.
When we boarded the plane, the staff once again was super nice and let me hold him in my lap for the flight. One flight attendant was especially nice. She sat near me for part of the flight and petted on him, brought him some ice cubes and a piece of chicken as a treat. The thing I was most worried about - the flight - was actually the easiest part of the whole trip! This was totally due to the great staff of Southwest Airlines. I will definitely fly them again.
Very cool side note - we flew pretty close to my house when we got to Columbus! I don't think I have ever done that before!
When we landed in Columbus, I hurried to a family restroom, and Dolphin peed a small ocean. I cleaned it up, met Mark at baggage claim, and off we went to Dolphin's new home! I first introduced him to Pretzel on leash in the front yard. Pretzel was pretty excited to meet him. Then we brought out Pizza. Pizza was overjoyed to meet him! It was a bit overwhelming to Dolphin, but he gradually got more comfortable with them. He sticks to my side like glue. The plane rides really bonded us tightly. It will be interesting to see if this holds into the future.
Our first night was pretty uneventful! Dolphin cried in his crate for about 5 minutes, but then exhaustion overtook him and he fell asleep. I set my alarm and woke up around 2am to get him out to potty - he was dead asleep when I got him up! We went outside, he pottied, and back to bed we both went for an uneventful rest of the night.
Our first full day together in Ohio was filled with exploring the property and getting to know Pizza and Pretzel. Pizza is rather obsessed with him, Pretzel tolerates him. Dolphin stayed glued to my feet the whole day, so it was tough getting photos of him. As the day went on, he got more comfortable around all of us. It will take a few days to get use to our house's routine.
I hesitate to say it, but Dolphin has fit into our house and our daily routine seamlessly! He is sleeping well at night. Instead of setting my alarm, I set the camera on his crate and had the motion and sound sensors activated to notify me on my phone if he moves around or starts to cry. He has been sleeping until 4:30-5am every morning before waking up and needing to potty. This is great! I am seeing a lot of Pretzel in him - he is very sensible. I am working hard to try to not compare him to Pretzel at every turn...but it is difficult when I look at him and it's like looking back in time to 2012 when Pretzel was a puppy.
Today we had our first experience climbing on the wobble board. He was very brave, and the moving platform didn't seem to affect him at all. This is step one of our agility training!!!
This morning I took Noodle and Pizza to my field trainer's to work them. I got Noodle out of the van and DANG, she is in season! I swear she wasn't in season when I put her in the van an hour ago! Ugh. Needless to say she wasn't at her greatest. Pizza was a train wreck herself. I think all that distraction of playing with a new puppy the past few days has made her brain a bit scattered. Hopefully things will calm down as we get more into our new routine.
Busy day today, as will be all my Thursdays for a while. I started off the morning at 8:00 am with Noodle at agility class. She is in season, and a hormonal mess. She actually did pretty good, all things considered. She has been hiding out at home under blankets, behind doors, and next to the couch. Hormones do weird things to her.
Pizza had her very first agility class at IncrediPaws at 10:30am. She is advanced enough for the class that she got to be the demo dog on a lot of the exercises. I was pretty happy with how god she was - very little distraction with all of the other dogs working around her. I love that!
This evening, I had a very special photo shoot scheduled with Cherry Williams - Dolphin's puppy photos and also a father-son photo shoot with Pretzel. This is a preview of our photos...I cannot wait to see the rest of them. This makes my heart overflow!
Noodle got e-mail! With our successes doing the at-home trials for UKI, she earned her first UKI Agility International title. This trial at home stuff has been a total blast, and it has kept me sane during the lockdown months. I also like that Noodle and I are getting better under pressure. I try to nail the course on my first attempt each week, to make it more realistic. We also have distractions of the other dogs, the neighbor and his dog across the street, traffic, birds, you name it.
What is even more special about this week's trial is that Noodle is in full-blown season. I am talking hormonal, neurotic, unsettled mess. Her focus was terrible, but even terrible she managed to do really well for me when we recorded our runs. That is a very good sign! I hate that she is giving me hope...it's amazing how a few good months can completely erase the 2 1/2 years of bad memories of her agility disasters and behavior. I have to keep reminding myself that things aren't "fixed", they are a work in progress and I should expect to see some backsliding as we keep moving forward.
I guess we shall see soon...we have 3 weeks until her AKC agility trial. We are only doing jumpers, one run each day. Dipping our toes in the water to see if we have truly made progress. Stay tuned...
I decided I haven't taken nearly enough photos of Dolphin (*haha!*) so I grabbed my good camera this evening and took several hundred shots. He is such a photogenic puppy! I looked back at Pretzel's puppy photos and the resemblance is uncanny! I am starting to stack him a little bit, just getting him to stand still for a few seconds and letting me move his legs around. After I worked with him I worked a bit with Pizza. Funny...she seems SO incredibly well-trained after working ith a raw puppy! I worked a bit on gaiting Pizza, using my square play area with a fence to help her know when I am turning. She looked phenomenal, striding out with her head up and legs stretching. I am so excited to show her again! Hopefully everything will be a go at the end of July and nothing else will cancel.
Pizza had her semi-private lesson today. Since she seemed so tired last week, I tried to keep her inside this morning, and didn't let her run the property all day. Her energy level seemed OK, but she wasn't the crazy puppy she had been a month ago. She was actually really well-behaved, and while I like that, I do not want to see her lose her enthusiasm and drive! Possibly she is getting tired of all this foundation work that is so repetitive. I need to find other things for her to do that involve interacting with me alone and are exciting and get her moving.
I received my photos from Dolphin's puppy shoot! They are amazing! The father-son photos with Pretzel are breathtaking. Here is a sampling:
I took Pizza for a walk by myself today, adding another couple miles to our "COVID-a-Thon". It was hot, so we didn't go any farther. I came home and decided to stack her and Dolphin to see where we are at. Crazy...Dolphin suddenly grew a lot of leg! His body now needs to catch up. Pizza stacked beautifully for me. Hard to believe she was a frustrating, untrained puppy just 7 months ago. We've come a long way, baby!
Today was a hot one! I managed to get Noodle's two UKI standard runs done for our agility trial-at-home. I also entered jumpers this week, so that will be on tomorrow's agenda. Noodle is super hormonal and in season. I mean SUPER hormonal - making nests out of cushions, hiding behind tables and doors, completely neurotic. She actually did OK with her agility runs today, all things considered. She had a couple brain far moments, and then I had one where I threw a front cross in at the LAST possible second, giving her zero information, and she still managed to twist around and get the jump. I like it when my dog can work beyond my faults LOL!
Tonight I started the very first shaping training session with Dolphin. I was curious to see how he handles shaping, and would he offer behaviors in order to earn the treat? I am starting with shaping him to place front paws on an upside down food bowl. I was really happy with how he acted - he was very interested in trying to figure out what I wanted. I hate to keep saying this, but he reminds me SO much of Pretzel. Pretzel was so fun when I started shaping training because he so badly wanted to do things right. I know I have to stop comparing Dolphin to Pretzel, but there are so many similarities! I am looking forward to our training future. I want to do right by him, and not make all the mistakes I made with Pretzel when training. Poor Pretzel had to be my agility training guinea pig...I have learned so much since then. Still learning...it is amazing how much there is out there to discover!
Today was a mishmash kind of day. It rained in the morning, then got a little steamy in the evening. In the mail today I got some custom-made masks I ordered. I figure if I am going to have to wear masks to show in, I want them to be cool and unique! Cool being the operative word, since several of my upcoming shows are outside. At least I hope they are upcoming. Shows are still being cancelled ever day. I am praying hard that I can actually get to shows later this summer and fall. I have two wonderful puppies that need to get out!
Pizza had her semi-private lesson today. We got to do the lowered teeter and A-frame, and she was pretty fearless. She likes to stop at the peak of the A-frame, so i worked on encouraging her to keep moving over the top. We are doing stopped contacts, because I would really like to stay in control, you know what I mean?
I did some shaping training with Dolphin over the past couple days - training him to put his front paws on the bowl. He is one smart cookie! He caught on pretty fast, which I love to see. Plus, he stayed engaged with me. I only worked about 3-4 minutes at a time, to keep him interested and wanting more. We are also working on stacking. That is a LONG process for a puppy, and I am staying patient since I just went through this with Pizza and remember how painstaking the training can be.
Pizza crying over a new bone that Dolphin got...she wants it so bad but she is polite about it. I just love her kind spirit.
So the past couple days, Pizza started regurgutating undigested food again. She did it twice on Tuesday evening, and another couple times yesterday evening. With a sinking heart I realized that we needed to go to the vet yet again to check for a blockage. So I got her in to my vet early this morning. They x-rayed her and found her stomach was clear, but there was a mass in her colon. It was fecal matter, with who knows what else. I left her there all day. They walked her, fed her, tried to get her to poop, but nothing happened. They had me pick her up later that evening to bring home and see if she might be more comfortable pooping at home. I swear we weren't home 10 minutes before she pooped a nice large amount in my yard. I bagged it to take to the vet tomorrow to look at. I should mention that throughout this whole thing, Pizza's behavior and attitude never changed. She was still a bouncy, happy puppy and never acted like she was uncomfortable or in pain.
I started off the day by heading over to see Cadence. I am absolutely amazed at how well she is doing. She has so much handle to her, it's hard to believe she is a 2 year old only under saddle for around 4 months. I have never been a fan of showing 2 year olds, but she is so strong and mature, we might actually get to a show this year. We are letting her decide how fast to push her. What's cool is that she is training so well and so easy, she doesn't need to be schooled very hard at all. Man, I hope she stays this way forever!
Darla is heading to Oklahoma for most of August to do the youth and NSBA world shows, and I made the decision to allow her to bring Cadence with her. Not only will her training continue, but it will be a good experience for her to travel and deal with being at shows. Before that, we are planning on taking her to a show in Ohio for 5 days in July so she can experience working in traffic. Now that will be a big training moment. I expect that won't go as smoothly as everything else has.
I had dropped Pizza's poop sample at my vet this morning, and they called to let me know that when they sifted it, all they found was feces and some grainy mineral-type stuff. Basically, I think she ate a whole lot of mud and dirt, and it temporarily blocked her a bit before moving slowly through her system. I am going to have to crack down hard on her digging and eating dirt and other things. No more freedom for her!
So far, the show we are planning to go to in Pennsylvania at the end of July is still a "go", so I am practicing hard with Pizza to get her ready. Hard to believe we haven't been to a show since February! Practicing with Dolphin on the loose is a challenge, but on the plus side Pizza is learning how to hold her stack through lots of distractions! Hopefully this will work in our favor next month. I can't wait to get back to the shows!
Today starts a couple weeks of intense heat (I am NOT complaining, I do LOVE the hot weather!). Unfortunately, the a/c at the training building went out, so Pizza's lesson was cancelled. I was setting the course for Noodle's jumpers course for the UKI at-home trial, and I had Dolphin in the agility yard with me. After moving the tunnel, he followed me and promptly ran through it! I decided to encourage this and do a little tunnel work with him. Fun!
Noodle's at-home trials have been going well and we had a 100% Q rate...until yesterday. I managed to NQ by sending her over the first jump the wrong direction in one of our standard runs yesterday, and didn't notice it until after I had submitted the video. Poop!. Today we did both jumpers courses, and qualified in both of them.
Crunch time comes this weekend - I have Noodle entered in a jumpers run each day at an AKC trial nearby. Just testing the waters, so to speak. I haven't trialed her since October. I feel like all of our field training has done wonders with her agility. It has taught her how to handle the adrenaline rush and stay focused and obedient. I feel like since I started doing all of this field training all winter, it has made serious improvements in our agility. Am I right, or will she just break my heart again? Hard to say, I guess you will have to check back this weekend and see what happens. I am cautiously optimistic, and that worries me...