the sheltiechick blog

More Snow Pics

I meant to post these last week; right after I accepted that we wouldn’t be getting any decent snow, we got decent snow. We got more yesterday, even, and will get more tomorrow. Of course, it does me little good when I’m sick. Now that I think of it, standing outside in the snow taking photos of your dog is probably not the best way to get better, either. Oops.

Anyway, here we go!

This was the night we got the snow. I left work, raced home, let Auggie out immediately… but still didn’t really have enough light to get good photos. The few that turned out are pretty cute since he plunged his whole face right into the snow.

Sound effect: PLOOMPH.

These were taken Saturday afternoon, once I got out of my all-day class. It was about 4PM so the sun was starting to go down, but I still had some sunlight. This is how Auggie plays best. He will fetch, yes, and wrestle and tug… but he loves, loves, LOVES to run.

Specifically he likes being chased. He gets a kick out of me going “AAAH’M GONNA GETCHA” and starting towards him. He’s like a little kid, going “Eeeee hee hee!!” and running away squealing or something.

I’d like to make Auggie a slot car and race him on a track. Wheeeee!

The next day, Sunday. I stood out there, feeling sick, nose dripping with snot, hollering “RUN, AUGGIE! RUN RUN RUN!” And he ran.

He ran so far away.

This photo reminds me that I should live every day with Auggie’s mentality. That is… “WHEEEEEEEEEE!!”

Okay, to me, in this one he looks like he’s going “Huff… huff… can I stop running now? Huff… you’re right, Mom, I did get fat… huff… oh God I’m out of shape, huff… why… why…” I later found out that my dad, who thought he was doing everybody a favour by feeding Auggie breakfast the two weeks he was off work for Christmas, had been over feeding him. I KNEW IT. I knew he was fat. See, I wasn’t just being mean – he was being overfed and he really DID get fat.
Anyway, that was a month ago and I’m pretty sure Auggie is back down to his regular weight now. He got a bath last week and his body shape under all his fluffy fur looked correct to me, so I think we’re good.

Okay, I got some cute Auggie + snow pictures. My Midwestern winter for 2007-2008 is now complete.

Contact Obstacles

Alternatively, “count your blessings.”
I’ve been sick for over a week at this point and am rather doped up on cold meds, so please forgive anything random, weird, or horribly misspelled in this post.

Contact obstacles have always presented a challenge. Not for Auggie, oh no. For me. Auggie, you see, just loves contact obstacles. He loves jumps too, and tunnels, but there is little else in this world so rewarding to him as charging up an a-frame, the teeter, or the dogwalk. When it comes to the a-frame, there is also little else so rewarding as springing OFF it about halfway down the other side, completely blowing the contact area. This has never been as much of a problem with the dogwalk or the teeter. They are thin enough that he is usually watching his step and moving at just enough speed that his brain can catch up and remind him that there is a behaviour he needs to do to correctly complete this obstacle down at the bottom.
The a-frame, however, is so big and wide, and he gets SUCH a kick out of it, that his brain apparently flies out the window. Have you ever seen those dogs that LEAP over the top of the a-frame like it’s a jump or something? It’s pretty scary, right? Yeah, Auggie likes to do that sometimes. Scares the crap out of me. See, on the a-frame, all he cares about is the “WHEEEEE!” of running up it full speed, hopping over the top, and flying off it as soon as he thinks he can safely land on the ground and less about the “whee” involved with scooting his little butt down to the bottom of the a-frame and doing the obstacle correctly.

Now, I will reiterate here that Auggie is not the best judge of what is safe for him. This is the dog who ate a poisonous amaryllis bulb; the dog who ate a poisonous mushroom with gusto, and then, as I was trying to keep him away from it while I scooped up the remaining mushrooms, tried to gobble the rest as though I had spilled dog treats all over the floor and he was trying to thief them before I could pick them all up. OBVIOUSLY he is no judge of “what is safe for Auggie” and “what can kill Auggie.” Similarly, he is not the best judge of “what is safe for Auggie to leap from” and “what can break Auggie.” This has always been a big pain for me as I’m SURE he is going to hurt himself, or at least will suffer joint pain later in life from the constant shock he MUST be feeling when he jumps off that a-frame completely clear of the 42″ long contact zone.

So it is for two reasons that it is agonizing that Auggie enjoys blowing is a-frame contact. It’s agonizing because we’ve never Q’d in standard because of it and sometimes I think we never will, hahaha. But it’s also terrible to think of him hurting himself.

We had a fun run yesterday, and given Auggie hasn’t been on a full-height a-frame since October or so he was like “OMG YAAAAAY!” and off-courses onto it (it was actually set up right behind the first jump we took, and he broke his sit-stay to go check out the a-frame before we even got started – snot!). Since it was a fun run and we were allowed to re-do things if we wanted, I ended up putting him over it about five times (when it was ACTUALLY time to do it) before he remembered what I was expecting while I was screaming “YOU TOUCH YOU TOUCH YOU TOUCH” at him, and it still was a less than perfect 2o2o. By that I mean I stationed myself right at the bottom of the a-frame and screamed “TOUCH TOUCH” at him and he pretty much crashed into me because I was body-blocking him. *facepalm*
To his credit, in the next course he managed a FAR better 2o2o… that is, I still body-blocked him but he didn’t crash into me, he hit the brakes early enough.
I can hardly call this entirely his fault. He got out there and was like “OMG OMG OMG THIS IS AWESOME” because we’ve been working indoors for ages and don’t have nearly the amount of space the club has, so not as much stuff set up. Not to mention I’ve been sick for a week so we haven’t even been able to play together much. This was the most exciting thing in the world for Auggie and part of why I dragged myself out to the run, despite being sick.

So obviously, training a target command and re-working his contacts are still on our Agility Goals list.

Now, you might remember that I said this could be alternatively titled “count your blessings.” I say that because I know a lot of people who have other real issues with contact obstacles… dogs that won’t go up them, dogs that don’t pick up enough speed to make it over the a-frame, dogs that are fearful on the teeter, dogs that bail on the UPside of the frame, so on and so forth. Besides one time that Auggie got teeter buggies for no apparent reason (and then got OVER his teeter buggies for no apparent reason… go figure) we have never had a problem getting him to take any obstacle at all. He loves them and has never been afraid of them. Yes, this love and sheer joy he gets out of performing them is the same that leads him to blow contacts with gusto – but I think I will still count it a blessing.

Oh yes, and the other major occurance in the fun run… we haven’t worked a heck of a lot on obstacle discrimination, particularly when it comes to the tunnel under the a-frame (or dog walk, even.) Given the choice, Auggie will want to take the contact obstacle 99% of the time. Well, in the second course they placed the tunnel under the a-frame. “Crapmuffins!” I thought. There is no problem getting him up the a-frame when it’s time for that, but getting him to take the TUNNEL rather than the frame is the challenge. There was a horseshoe of jumps set up before we got to the tunnel, and I decided my only hope was if I started to scream “TUNNEL TUNNEL TUNNEL TUNNEL” as SOON as he was in the air over that jump, in a desperate attempt to get him to really hear me and look for the tunnel. I kid you not, while walking the course I fiddled with that multiple times to try and remind myself to frantically start screaming “tunnel” with the proper timing. The other issue was that I wanted to be on the side of the a-frame, to try and physically block him if I had to, so I would need to rear cross. We have come leaps and bounds with our rear crosses into tunnels this winter, which was a big goal for me, but we’re certainly not perfect with them, so it was a toss up if he’d even allow the rear cross.
So let me walk you through what I went through. Auggie comes off the table, goes over jump 1, jump 2, here comes jump 3, okay he’s in the air TUNNEL TUNNEL TUNNEL TUNNEL!!!!
He looked at the tunnel. He saw it. Would he take it? Would he stay in once he realized I was rear crossing him, or go “HEY WAIT!!” and pop back out on me?
He went into the tunnel.
I crossed behind, and while crossing I could see his little butt vanishing away into the tunnel, unphased and undeterred by the fact that I had rear crossed him.
I pumped my fist and hissed “YESSSSSS!” to myself. If I had video I bet it would have looked hilarious, the victory celebrating I was having mid-course as I hustled to the other end of that tunnel.

But if I had dropped dead at that very second, I guarantee you that I would have died the happiest, proudest dog owner in the world.
Which is saying something since all the screaming basically destroyed my voice, and right after the fun run, I immediately went to the doctor to discover I had bronchitis. Whoop whoop!

A little on grooming – brushes

For those of you who own cordless/battery powered nail grinders (I personally use the Dremel MiniMite) – recharge your battery after EVERY session. Seriously. After every single one. There’s no harm in it. Your battery won’t be overcharged or anything. Yeah, you have to unplug the battery from the grinder, plonk it into the charger, and find somewhere for that rather large charger to plug into an outlet. But seriously. It’s a good idea.
Poor Auggie is lop-sided as he currently has freshly dremelled front paws, three nails on his back right paw dremelled and the one remaining nail about 80% dremelled… and one paw that I didn’t get to before my dremel died.
Poor, poor Auggie. All because I didn’t plug the stupid battery in after our last session (I’m lying. LAST THREE OR FOUR SESSIONS.) to charge it up.

Anyway, the subject of brushes came up on a group I belong to; usually it starts with somebody asking about the Furminator and people start chiming in what they like to use instead. I thought it would be interesting to put down here for my lovely readers what brushes I use on Auggie. I have quite a selection, you see. All links are to the exact product I own from the exact place I purchased it from; you can probably find the same or similar products other places.

First, I own this pin brush that I always start with. Everybody should have a basic pin brush, IMO, for simple day-to-day brushing. It’s good for grabbing a lot of the already loose hair and getting some of the other dead hair to loosen up, but not a heck of a lot else on a double-coated breed. A good pin brush won’t pull or scratch, so even if it doesn’t do a lot for the actual fur managing, it’s great for getting your dog used to sitting for some gentle grooming… making grooming a pleasant experience! For Auggie, it’s the warm up brush, the relaxing brush. Sometimes I finish a grooming session with this brush, too.
Second, I purchased a Master Grooming Tools Ultimate Coarse Comb from a local groomer who was placing an order with PetEdge (it’s VERY expensive to order from them if you aren’t buying a lot of stuff.) and I love love LOVE it. I actually have two and one stays in my car with the other dog gear that I haul around. With this, I continue in long, gentle brush strokes. This is REALLY great for getting out dead hair from Auggie’s pants, which are a different texture than the rest of his fur; for the rest, it just pulls out more of the undercoat.

For the more stubborn hair – that is, for our serious grooming sessions – I have other brushes I continue with. I have a shedding brush that was recommended to me by a guy at the dog park when Auggie was a wee little guy; he demonstrated how great it worked on his own double-coated dog because Auggie had no loose coat at the time. I went to PetSmart and got two of them a few days later – one for me and one for my sister’s two shelties. They unfortunately don’t carry it anymore which is a REAL shame… it really does work wonders on removing undercoat, and I especially like to use this on places that have shorter, tougher-to-remove fur, like his armpits and his thighs. I do find that during heavy shedding seasons, this can pull a little bit when it gets “clogged” with fur, so you have to make sure you remove the already brushed out fur from it fairly often. I find this brush to be a lot gentler than many other brushes and combs I’ve used in the past; I think it has to do with the varying length and the slightly wider spacing of the teeth.
This is the ONLY brush in my toolbag that I would say there’s no replacement for, no buying from another store. I haven’t found anything quite like it anywhere else. This brush is just fan-freaking-tastic. It’s a tragedy they don’t carry it, or anything even remotely like it, at PetSmart anymore.

Next, I have a fine-tooth comb that I purchased at Target before we brought Auggie home. I don’t have a link for this one because I don’t think they sell it anymore; but a fine-tooth comb is pretty much a fine-tooth comb as long as it lasts. Mine has held up through the three years (the first pin brush I bought for Auggie from Target bit the dust after about a year; pins were falling out.) The fine-tooth comb I use mainly for brushing behind Auggie’s ears, trying to get rid of the crimpy dreadlock look. (I also use a pair of thinning shears on the hair behind his ears, which also helps; the comb then is great for going through and getting out all the hair that has been thinned.) This kind of brush CAN be used on those sheds-a-lot parts as a de-shedding tool, but it also tends to pull far more than the above tool, so I really hate to use it for that purpose.

I also have this slicker brush (I think in the medium size) that I use during shedding seasons. The other brushes do a really good job any other time of the year, but this is really helpful to use on longer fur, like down his back, when he’s blowing coat. I find this does a great job of picking up undercoat more than really helping to loosen and remove it, so I guess that’s why I like to really only use it during shedding season, when the fur is already lose. I also don’t brush very hard with this, so that might be why… I’m hesitant to apply pressure with it.

Last but not least, I own a Zoom Groom that I use during bath time. It’s wonderful to get him all lathered up and to start working the dead hair lose in the tubby.

Finally, yes, I do own a Furminator. I got it for a fairly good deal, which is good since I hardly use it. I don’t like what it does to the texture of Auggie’s fur. I don’t believe it breaks the fur like a lot of people do… but it definitely does something odd, something not pleasant. The only places I will use it is on the SUPER short hair on the top of Auggie’s head, his muzzle, and on his paws… those are the only places where it doesn’t seem to have a weird affect on his fur nor cause him discomfort. I’m not sure if it pulls or scratches his skin; all I know is that he is not comfortable with it and therefore I am not either.
So, when it comes to the Furminator… if you have a pal who owns one, see if you can borrow it to try it on your pet first. Observe your individual pet’s reaction before you make a decision. I definitely don’t believe the Furminator is a tool for every pet out there, it needs to be judged on a case-by-case reaction from your particular pet. If you can’t borrow one, make sure that, if you don’t like how it works for your pet, you can return it to whatever place you purchase from – be it PetSmart, Target, or an online shop.

And there you have it… my brush collection!

Not-a-lot-of-snow Pics

A few days ago, I looked on The Weather Channel to see how the weather would be for the weekend. The front page reads in ominous letters, “BIG FREAKING SNOWSTORM COMING RIGHT FOR THE MIDWEST WHITE DEATH IT’S AWFUL!” (Okay not that exactly, but you get the idea.)
Unfortunately, upon checking our local forecast, I discovered this big snowstorm was actually only going to hit the NORTHERN parts of the Midwest. You know, like Chicago isn’t getting enough snow anyway, right? Of course, it didn’t really give a decent snow when I was IN Chicago, but it sure is snowing there now that I’m back in Central Illinois.

It’s almost mid-January and I’m resigned to the fact that we probably won’t get a good snow here this year. We MIGHT get a blizzard around Valentine’s Day… that happens on occasion, though we had one two years ago or so and I think we’re good for another 8 years until it happens again. So I’m not counting on it.

Therefore when I looked out the window today and saw big snowflakes floating through the air, I bundled up, grabbed the camera, and hauled Auggie outside for snow pictures… less than an inch of accumulation or not.

I attempted some Auggie-running shots, but he wouldn’t run unless I threw the tennis ball.

I shoot action shots on auto-focus, and in the unfortunate case of snow, the auto-focus seemed to be more interested on… the tiny little snowflakes rather than the DOG bearing down on me.

I threw the ball a total of three times; Auggie only retrieved it a total of 2 times. He was far more interested in searching the backyard for rabbit poop and trying to eat it. Therefore all of the rest of these photos are rather static.

“Shake off first, Auggie. Auggie, shake off. Shake off. Auggie…”

Nope. He insisted on going inside with all that snow on.

And now, some blooper photos…

I love when people are like “Oh your dog is so handsome!” No he’s not, he’s an idiot.

I frequently catch shots of my dog burping. Like this one.