Friday, November 27, 2009

The Class Clown :)

We had our very last obedience class last night. The school we have been going to for 14 years ( 4 dogs ) is closing because the trainer has decided to retire. Oak made sure his last performance was very memorable! I'll just let the video speak for itself :)

I hope all our American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. I am very thankful for my goofy buddy :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Practicing in the Park

Yamei our trainer was over yesterday for our private lesson and Oak did a fabulous job! He was very focused and even stayed in front of me not moving while Yamei was walking back and forth. He did move when she tried to run past, but considering what an excited little guy he is, I think he did wonderful!

So, today we decided to up the distraction level a bit. I took him to the park to practice his Relaxation Protocol.

First we went for a walk through the park and played fetch to expend a bit of energy.

Then straight onto the tasks at hand. We have moved up to Day 2 of the Protocol for Relaxation so everything is new, different and a wee bit harder. I had him sit in front of me and stay still for 10 sec.

Yeah! He passed with flying colours! Then I stepped back 3 steps. He still stayed. Yeah!

He was doing such a fabulous job. There are even a few other people and dogs in park. He looked around a few times, but mostly he just sat in a nice relaxed position and stared at me.

The next few steps were a little more active, I had to walk around beside him, then come back, walk to the side while clapping, then return. I think he's more relaxed when I move then when I just stand in front of him. After the moving tasks, he had to sit still for 10 sec. again and he got up and left. He went to grab the stick, obviously he was getting bored with all the sitting and staying, so I let him play for a bit again. He is supposed to be learning to relax and I didn't think he would be if he was bored and I had to try to force him to do the protocol. After we played a little longer, we went back to the lessons again. He was so relaxed this time around, that he decided to lay down, not just sit.

I'm going to have to ask if this is ok, since it does say "sit" on the sheet, not lay down. But from everything I've been reading about the Protocol for Relaxation, they did mention it is NOT an obedience lesson, so I figure that means if he's more relaxed laying down, then he should be allowed to do that. We never actually finished the entire list of tasks, but I'm still really happy with the progress.

Yeah Oak!! Great Job Buddy!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Trainer

We are trying out a new trainer who positive reinforcement training. She came last week for an initial consultation. I was really impressed with her methods, thoughts, and questions. She was here for almost 2 hours and had a full questionnaire that needed to be filled out. After she asked the questions, she did a little demonstration with Oak and a clicker. I hadn't really thought that a clicker worked that well but she had him touching her hand on command within minutes. It was all very interesting to watch.

At the end of the consult she gave us a small bit of homework and then was going to come up with a plan of attack for the next 4 weeks of training. Oak's main problem is jumping up when guests in the door. He just goes nuts, and doesn't listen to anything I have to say. I've tried telling people to ignore him, I've tried to get him to sit and stay by me, I've even tried treats. None of these things worked, he just wanted see the new person at his door. The only thing that does work, is to lock him in the basement while I answer the door, and if the guest is staying, I end up putting him on a leash to control him for the first 30-45 minutes until he calms down! The beginning step to help with this problem, was to get him to sit and stay for a few seconds. Each time he did, I released and gave him a treat(cheeiros are working really well!) We slowly started increasing the time he had to stay before being released.
When she came back this week, we showed off his new skill. She was really impressed that he stayed for 15 sec without moving.
She came with a plan of attack and we went through all the lessons we have to practice. We are back to concentrating on the basics. Teaching him to focus, leave it, sit and stay for short periods of time and an Orienting exercise. We are also expanding our skill at the door too. He sits and stays, while I walk over to the door and open it! He's catching on to them all quite nicely. A thousand more times and he'll be perfect :)
And to top it all off we are following a Protocol for Relaxation by Dr Karen Overall. It's a 14 step program to help calm and relax over excitable canines like my little Oak.

Like Julie says, by the end of the lessons and practicing he'll be Super Oak, ready to leap small buildings in a single bound, or at least calmly meet guests at the door :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Lane

It was a beautiful day on thursday, so we decided to take the dogs for a walk at the conservation area. They were all very excited and running about like crazy puppies :)

There were trails to run down, fields to search, fabulous smells to investigate!

Oak, Lite, Dougal and even Zanara ran, played, ran some more, found sticks to play with, then ran some more. They were having an exceptional time! Then to top it all off, there was a river to swim in. Yeah! Now that he know how, I think Swimming is Oak's favourite past time. He is really going to miss it when the water all ices up!

About 4 or 5 years ago, we went on a similar walk down these same trails. At that time we had Finn, Phoenix, Zanara and Ebony with us. We stopped at a small hill to take a candid shot of them all sitting with each other. This is the picture, Finn is on the end(right side), then Phoenix, then Zanara and Ebony is laying down in front. Since that day all those years ago (actually in the past year) Finn, Phoenix and Ebony all died of cancer.

When Finn died, his owners (he was a client's golden) rescued Dougal. When Phoenix died I got Oak, and when Ebony died my daughter Mandy and her family got Lite. So we wanted to take another picture in the same spot as the older one. We took this shot of Oak(on the right), Zanara, Dougal and Lite is laying down.

They had difficulties sitting still that long, but I think we ended up with a nice picture in the end. And another happy memory of a special day spent with our best friends :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009


In my search for alternative healing methods for Oak and his bad hips, I discovered the science of Reiki. It is a holistic hands on technique that uses energy to assist the body's natural ability to heal itself.
The first step was to take First Degree Reiki healing. Which we did from a great lady who owns Cedar Cove Wellness in Baltimore. I found it very interesting and informative and I learned facinating things about the world around me. The next step was the Animal Reiki Workshop. Finally, I got to learn how reiki could help the animals around me. We studied colour, crystals and animal chakra's. I learned other ways of using reiki energy for animals by energizing their food, water, homeopathic remedies, beds etc. Then it was time to practice on the animals. Our teacher took us to the Primrose Donkey Sanctuary to help out the pets there and encourage us to use our new found skills.

This is me giving Tabby some reiki energy. He just loved it! There was a couple of times I thought he was going to go to sleep!

At first, the other donkeys didn't want to have anything to do with us. So we let the energy flow to them from a distance. This is Charlie Brown enjoying the feel of the energy.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of our circle of healing, something amazing happened, the donkeys started flocking over towards us. They felt the energy Charlie was receiving and wanted some too!

Miranda was especially attentive. She was really enjoying the energy healing. She kept moving so we could place our hands on her hips. Obviously, she felt this was the spot that needed the reiki the most.

We had a marvelous day helping out all the donkeys, cats and even a pot belly pig and a couple of sheep.

By the end of the afternoon, the donkeys were feeling frisky and playful. This is Charlie Brown and Joey. Charlie Brown recieved alot of positive energy today and it showed!

This is Patsy kicking up her heels(or scratching her back, but I think the former sounds more exciting!)

I feel like this is the beginning of a great new adventure for Oak and I!