Friday, August 22, 2014

Mushroom gets a 2nd chance

A typical night for us involves putting Badger and Mushroom in their crates for bedtime. We started doing this when Badger was a puppy (and Mushroom wasn't even with us) to get him used to his crate and keep him out of trouble during the night. But the dogs don't get into much trouble these days, being older, more used to our apartment, and more settled in their routines. So at the start of summer, we decided to try out letting the dogs sleep uncrated in our bedroom.

The first night was a disaster. As L was moving the dog beds from our living room to our bedroom, Mushroom actually peed on one of them. This was unexpected considering that we always take them out to potty before bedtime, and the dogs almost never have indoor accidents. I convinced L to let Badger stay in the room, but Mushroom went back to her crate for bedtime.

That became our new routine - put Mushroom in her crate, then we would go into our room with Badger. Mushroom didn't seem to mind, but we felt a little bad for her. We decided to let her have another chance last night. Despite me having to shoo her off the bed three times, we considered it a success as there were no accidents. Well, I consider it a success. I think L might have gotten up several times during the night to make sure everything was okay.

I'm not a morning person, but this face gets me out of bed

Do your dogs sleep in your room at night? How does it affect your sleep?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Catching up: Hiking

Badger and I had quite the adventure on the 4th of July last year. We were supposed to meet up with friends and drive up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, but I was running late and told them I'd meet them there. As I neared the White Mountains, I realized that I did not have any cell phone reception. A few text messages managed to get through, and I finally found the right hiking path, but about an hour or two too late to meet up with my friends. As a result, Badger and I did the hike on our own, which included splashing through a stream, getting coated in mud, and a pretty steep climb. We never did find my friends, but we still enjoyed the hike!

My two shadows

Badger slept for the entire three-hour drive home. Amazingly, even though he was muddy from the hike, when we arrived home, he was completely clean. The mud had dried and fallen off (into my back seat). Unfortunately for Badger, we gave him a bath anyway.

Looking extra fluffy after his bath

This year for the 4th of July, we stayed home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Catching up - town dog event (from last year)

I have a whole year's worth of pictures of Badgershrooms on Facebook that I'm going to start slowly posting to this blog. Here we are at our town's "dog rally" in June of last year. (Are these showing up for you?)

Here's what I remember: We spent most of our time hiding around the side of the DJ booth and clicking/treating when they saw another dog. Some kids came over and petted Mushroom (Badger was too excited). And the DJ asked what breed they were. We gave our typical answer of "they're rescued mutts - they could be anything". (He thought they were some specific breed because they look similar to each other). Overall, we left thinking it was a good training experience.





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What cool trick should we teach our dogs?

Badger and Mushroom have been showing a lot of improvement in our Control Unleashed class, the third of which we attended this past Saturday. I've been handling Mushroom while L handles Badger, so most of my observations are on Mushroom. She was easily distracted by the scents on the ground, so for this last class, we gave her higher value treats (microwaved hot dogs), and she responded well. As a recovering reactive dog, I'm proud of her for not reacting to the other dogs in the class, including a little Schipperke who occasionally barks at her. She's also seen a few dogs in the parking lot of the training school (which is attached to a dog shelter), and she was interested but not barking, pulling, or whining. Badger has had trouble staying calm during class and will start whining, but he seemed quieter than he was in the last two classes.

Slimy, yet satisfying

At one point, the trainer had us practice listening skills with our dogs. We were to call out different cues at random so the dogs would have to pay attention to which action they did. They had to be cues that didn't involve a hand signal or an object, which narrowed our list to just "sit" and "down". (Perhaps this was helpful for Mushroom because she already has trouble distinguishing the two.)

Some of the tricks that the other dogs in the class did were "speak", "spin", and "sit close" (which makes me assume there is a "sit where you are" cue to go with it). I think it would be nice if our dogs picked up a new trick for this exercise, and just in general. (Well, maybe just Badger. I don't want Mushroom to be too confused.)

Mushroom slept like this through the rest of Saturday

The question is - what trick should they learn? We've avoided teaching cues for some behaviors that we don't want, such as pawing, standing on hind legs, and barking, because we've been afraid of reinforcing them. That leaves tricks that the dogs don't do as part of their normal behaviors, such as spinning in a circle or sitting in a particular location, and we have no idea how to teach those.

Does your dog know a cool trick? How did you train them to do it?

Friday, August 15, 2014

The longest three miles

I ran my first 5k last night, and the results are in! Let's just say I won't be qualifying for the Boston Marathon any time soon, but since my goal was to survive, and I'm alive enough today to write this blog post, I'll call it an overall success.

There were a few things I did not expect (I almost typed "roadbumps" but decided to skip the pun):

  • There was a guy who power walked past me while I was running. That was a low point.
  • There were lots of people who gathered around the course to cheer on the runners, and some of them even brought their dogs! I knew people did this for longer races, but apparently they do it for shorter ones too.
  • And there was a mountain of ice cream sandwiches at the end, which was the high point for me. My coworkers and I also hit the bar afterward for a few beers (this was expected), so overall I was less healthy than if I just never showed up for the race.

There are a couple of dog-friendly 5k races coming up in the fall, and I was thinking of signing up with Mushroom as my running buddy. I did some training with her prior to this race, and despite her looking like a sausage with short legs, she is amazingly fast. Well, maybe not so amazing if you take into account how slow I am, but she could easily handle a 5k.

"Can I get ice cream afterwards too?"

Has anyone done a race with their dog before? Would you recommend it?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The yo-yo of life

I haven't posted for over a year. For a time, I even completely forgot this blog existed. Things in my life tend to be cyclical. Sometimes I'll spend all my free time playing one video game, only to put it down a month later, forget about it for a year, and then come back to it with all the zeal of the first time around.

This is also why I can't get on a regular exercise schedule. During the first month, I will be very devoted to exercising, but by the 2nd month, I'm making excuses and having to drag myself off the couch. Of course, I'll still be eating like I'm burning the extra calories. Maybe I should explain to my doctor that trying to exercise actually makes me less healthy in the long run.

Meanwhile, life with the dogs has become, well, normal. We've trained them into a decent level of calmness at home, and they've trained us into a decent level of feeding them and avoiding other dogs on walks. Could they be a little better behaved? Yeah. Are they basically good dogs? Yeah. Are we super lazy? Definitely.

I've found that when I don't have the internal motivation to make a change, the best way is to find an external motivator. In terms of exercise, the external motivator was joining a running group at my office and signing up for a 5k, which will be this Thursday. (My goal is simply to survive.)

In terms of dogs, we signed up for a Control Unleashed class, which started two Saturdays ago. Now that I finally have something to say about the Badgershrooms again, the blog is back!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cows

Badger shows off his new cow-themed collar

Mushroom shows off... her eye booger? Poor Mushroom