Monday, March 24, 2014

Cinder Size & Cinder-Sized

     Firstly, for those following my blog posts via Facebook, I'm sorry for spacial oddities, gaps, and lack of pictures or videos in these blog posts. Facebook doesn't import pictures or videos within the blog. Where there are gaps and spacial oddities, it is likely due to the missing pictures/videos Facebook doesn't upload with the content. If you want to see the pictures or videos I include, you'll need to visit the blog. 
     On to Cinder's latest adventures:  

     Last week Cinder had several new adventures. She went on some off-leash cross-country jaunts with the big boys at the barn; she met some chickens up close and personally; and she met a few more of the draft horses, one of which stomped at her and scared her (goodie, I want her to stay away from the horses). She did quite well with everything, even a few long-distance recalls and a sit-stay with a chicken wandering by!

     Cinder remains uninterested in balls and frisbees. To me, this is a sad thing to say about a Border Collie but, it's okay that she has her own personality and interests. Maybe she'll develop more interest in them later. Her real passion seems to truly be jumping.  While we've managed to rein her in from jumping on and off the furniture, she displayed her honest love of jumping repeatedly on our cross-country jaunts.  She was was working her way through a thicket with a nice opening over or under a huge grape vine-she jumped the grape vine. She  later breezed over a smallish tree limb across her path and without even a second of hesitation. She ran through the woods with many opportunities for her to walk around or under things,or climb over things but she never considered less than jumping her way over everything in her path.  I guess we need to take different routes so she won't do that so much. 
However, a puppy in a natural setting that's jumping small objects with landings on soft ground is much different and less problematic than jumping off furniture onto hard floors. None-the-less, she seems to LOVE jumping and hesitates at nothing. I hope that transfers to agility later on! She also got to play in a small creek, learning to scale steep banks and forge through the water. She loved playing in the creek, but I think she enjoyed climbing the banks as much or more!

     Over the last week, we have really noticed that "Cinder size" is 
changing by literal leaps and bounds. It's amazing to look back just a few weeks past and see how much she's grown in such a short time! Everything about her is bigger, including her play with the big dogs. She's getting the hang of true life lessons through playing with the older boys. She's becoming far more assertive and aggressive in how she plays with them and is large enough now that she's becoming a formidable adversary. We have seen her out-think them numerous times, resulting in gaining an upper hand on them. I think it will take some work for the boys to stay ahead of her as she continues growing and learning. Things will be very different in the way they play by the end of this summer! I think we'll be seeing the boys (and maybe we humans) often being bowled over or manipulated by her, which we will call being, "Cinder-Sized!"
     Last week I was quite surprised to see another potential skill set to develop with Cinder: she ran to the bedroom and barked when my alarm clock went off.  I have a special alarm clock for the Deaf and hearing impaired. It can be set to a loud, audible buzz and/or the flashing light. Often I change the settings and sometimes I accidentally switch it to the buzzing alarm setting, which is not audible to me without my hearing aids or when I'm out of the room. Apparently it was on the buzz setting several times and each time, Cinder raced to the bedroom and barked at it.  To most people, that may be very annoying, but for me, it's very helpful because I may never have known it was on had she not done that. So, she got high praise for alerting me to the noise.  I will always encourage and reward her for alerting me to noises I may not notice.
     Yesterday, Cinder had her nails trimmed. I was able to do it by myself and she didn't fuss at all. I am so glad she continues to be good about nail trimming because many dogs are not. Good grooming behavior is a must for Cinder-especially if she goes on to any form of competition or pet therapy.
     Trick training has been waylaid by my injured back and a sudden burst of demands on my time. However, even though we haven't been doing any dedicated training sessions, we have continued spontaneously doing some or all of her tricks randomly when we have only a minute or so to do something. We did add "push door" (which will become "close door") when she began doing it on her own when we went outside and she was ready to come in and started pushing the door to come in. She's doing pretty well with it and has shut a few doors randomly without prompts! Her leash training is going well despite two different versions of it: one being the normal leash training as for obedience and daily living; the other being attached on a harness by a 25' long line for jaunts on which I approve some distance for her to have fun, but don't want her racing off beyond that.  She does quite well with both and seems to understand the difference already. On her flat collar, she's developing a nice, brisk but controlled walk beside me with a crisp "sit" when we stop. For only doing it about 6-8 times, she's doing amazingly well.

   Once again, this brings everyone up to speed. Thanks for checking in and/or following us as we continue the adventure of raising Cinder. We think she's special and hope you enjoy our successes and even our failings as Cinder grows and we endeavor to provide her a good life and a lot of love. It aint all purty but it is all real!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Puppy Antics can be Harmful

     I've been asked about the problem I have with Cinder's newfound joy of jumping-particularly from the furniture to the floor.  To be clear, it's not merely jumping down from lounging on the loveseat or a chair but full on, high speed, running, jumping and then launching into the air from the furniture and landing 1/3 - 1/2 way across a room. Let me explain:
     Cinder is a mere 13 weeks old, however, that doesn't curb her appetite for jumping now that she's learned how. In fact, like many daredevil children, a newfound skill is a newfound thrill that can be quite dangerous-aside from being a bad habit that gets annoying.  Puppy bone structures are not fully developed until sometime between 12-20 months of age and until they are, their bodies can both sustain and weather many minor injuries well, but some things can cause permanent damage that may not even be seen until later life. The concussion and trauma sustained from jumping too young can cause immediate and/or later life damage which cannot be reversed. Typical problems can range from obvious issues such as dislocation, breaks and injured muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as hidden damage such as micro fractures, joint compression that causes joint deterioration; joint or spinal misalignment; shoulder and/or hip and back injuries or predisposition to later life problems caused by the weaknesses created by all the concussion to their bones and joints.
     Yes, all puppies run, jump and play-it IS totally natural and in natural settings with other puppies or dogs, that kind of normal play is totally acceptable and desirable as part of normal growth. However, what Cinder is doing is completely OUTSIDE the realm of anything remotely normal for puppies or even adult dogs. Cinder is engaging in running as hard and fast as possible and jumping onto furniture, which she uses as a launchpad to literally launch herself into the air and land part way across a room on hard surface floors. The way she does it is absolutely amazing and totally resembles the way skateboarders and snowboarders use ramps and walls to gain propulsion for their jumps. The worse news is that there is never any predicting when she'll start this behavior and by the time she starts it, she's done it 10 times before you can intervene in any manner.  We've tried a number of things to curtail this behavior to no avail. 
     I've raised MANY puppies and Cinder is the first I've ever had to exhibit this particular behavior-to an extreme. The only predictability to it seems to be that she's more likely to do it when she's tired.  Like a baby fusses to stay awake, she becomes akin to the Tazmanian Devil to keep going instead of laying down to sleep.  We now recognize that her playtime needs more firm limits to help eliminate that as a prompt for her.  Since reprimands and redirection don't stop or even slow her down, we've resorted to placing as many obstacles in her path as possible to make it more difficult for her to engage in the behavior since it's not always possible to catch her before she starts it.  Once she starts it, I've been jumping in her path and taking her outside for a potty break; then we come in and get a puppy snack in her crate and she takes a nap. That seems to be the best means of stopping her once she starts the running and jumping behavior. Now we're working on doing it BEFORE she gets that tired, but being an energetic Border Collie puppy sometimes often makes recognizing her exhaustion level a guessing game.
     Since I want agility to be part of Cinder's life, I really don't want to quash her love of jumping, but merely stave it off for about six-nine months and re-shape it. 
     Luckily, Spring is finally here and that means we can take Cinder outside for more outdoor activities and exercise befitting a puppy. With luck, being able to get her outside and engaged in other more healthy activities will help curtail what I hope is a crazy phase in Cinder's puppy life. It certainly has been one of the more fascinating problem behaviors to get a handle on than any other I've ever encountered in such a young puppy.  I suppose this is one of our first REAL challenges in our adventures raising Cinder.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fun has Begun

    A few weeks ago Cinder discovered jumping. On one hand that's cool and exciting to see her be able to jump and see how much she seems to like it. On the other hand, bad things happen to pups that jump too much when they're too young and 10-13 weeks is too young. However wrangling Cinder and keeping her from jumping is proving quite challenging as she finds new things and ways from which to jump.  
     Cinder has discovered and learned a lot the last two weeks. She began going for car rides and the first times in the back seat were less than stellar-she managed to get out of both her harnesses multiple times (BEFORE we even got her door shut); once I tried riding in the back seat with her and she threw up.  I finally got her to ride well by putting her in the co-pilot's seat up front so I could easily touch and talk to her. That worked well for about four days before we tried taking all three dogs to the barn in the car together for the first time.  I opted to put Buzz in the back seat and Cinder was paired with Gilley in the far rear area of our Jeep Patriot.  Gilley is a GREAT traveler-gets in, lays down, does NOT move until we stop; and never barks or fusses about anything.  Cinder did great riding in back with Gilley and Buzz did great riding in the back seat.  I think that's the way we'll travel when all three go together.
 Otherwise, Cinder's already grown so big that staying in the front seat is about over for her and the back seat is the best place.  Traveling is coming along well and Cinder's starting to become comfortable with it so that she also lays down and sleeps.  

     Cinder's been learning to walk on a leash and a long rope for our barn treks.  She's done quite well so far and I'm very proud of her progress. She's honing her "sit" beside me pretty well.  Her other tricks are all the same with the addition of this week's new trick: "shut door." Cinder learned on her own how to push the back door open to come in, but I decided she needs to know how to shut it again too.  So far, she's been doing very well at it and today, she began shutting the internal garage door after Brian went out and didn't close it behind him.  For her learning fun, I'm going to make a miniaturized "teeter-totter" using a piece of 4" PVC on the ground and a plywood board about 4' long.  The elevation will be minimal but enough to give her the sense of walking on something that moves.  I didn't do that with Gilley and eight years later, he still hates doing the teeter-totter in agility so Cinder's going to have some playtime equipment that leads to bigger things later.
   Cinder's been exploring more and her door opening  and closing tricks evolved out of that. First she found out that toilet paper is a fast and easy way to decorate while having fun strewing it about and chewing it up!  Cute, but messy and annoying for the hu-mom.  Next she realized that all her food and treats seem to come from the same place all the time and she now goes and sits in front of the food prep area and barks for treats when she's bored.  She doesn't get them, but she does get to work for them.  Today she discovered that if I leave my house shoes out when I'm in a hurry, they are available for serious chewing pleasure-especially the insides of each shoe.
 Luckily those were six year old, very worn out old house shoes instead of my more expensive shoes!
     Cinder's full of life and she is definitely keeping us busy trying to keep her busy with the right amount of learning, play and undivided attention.  It's a challenge to find balance, but we're getting there. She's sleeping about 6-8 hours at night now so we are back to a reasonable sleep schedule. The rest of the time, she's awake and on the move or can be found snuggling with Gilley or Buzz during quiet times they inspire.
      The dynamics of the pack are definitely different now that Cinder's been here about six weeks.  Both older boys now engage in play with her regularly, often initiating it with her.  For Buzz, that's a major shift in his life because until Cinder, he NEVER engaged in any real play with Gilley.  Seeing both the older boys engage in and initiating play is great fun-not to mention, a great break for me!
    Cinder is awake and beckoning to be released from her crate so time to wind this up!  Once again, this brings you up to speed on things so far in the adventures of raising Cinder.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You Know You're A Dog Person If...

     You know you're a dog person if:

  • You have at least one more dog in your house than humans.
  • You greet friend's dogs first.
  • Your dogs have premium brand name dog food with the best nutrition available in five wonderful flavors dogs love, but your fridge has eggs, three day old salad, shriveled tomatoes and all the condiments you need for the food you don't have.
  • You have shampoo for each dog, specific to their coat type, and hypoallergenic; your shampoo is the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart.
  • You are sure to groom your dogs and do give them pedicures regularly while you haven't had a manicure or pedicure you didn't do yourself since college.
  • Your library consists of books about dogs, dog training, dog stories and whatever books friends gave you as hints you need to expand your reading selection (which you haven't read yet).
  • Your furniture is covered with blankets, sheets, or slipcovers because you want to be able to quickly pull them off to provide a cleaner, more hair-free spot to sit for any non-dog company that drops by.
  • You arrange your furniture for optimal dog compatibility - play area, nap areas, cuddle spots, and clear paths to doors.
  • Your dogs have coats and booties for different weather and/or activities, but you have one coat for chores and one for public wear.
  • Your wardrobe can be divided into two categories: acceptable dog activity clothing and dress clothes (you know, the one dress and two nice suits you own and never wear unless someone gets married or dies).
  • Your dogs have collars with ID tags, license tags, Microchip tags and you have a worn out wallet in which you can never find a single piece of your ID-but you have pictures of all your dogs!
  • Your back yard is not really landscaped except for a few holes (dug by the dogs), numerous brown spots, and agility equipment.
  • The car/truck/SUV you drive was chosen based on how you can travel your dogs easiest and still have a vehicle suited for the times when you don't take the dogs.
  • If you plan vacations around your dogs, dog events, dog shows, dog training sessions; and your vacations include taking the dogs so you go somewhere that accepts dogs.
  • Your dogs have nice, thick memory foam orthopaedic comfort mats and your mattress and box springs are 18 years old from the Mattress Factory factory seconds section.
  • You know you're a dog person when you look at your phone contacts and each of your friends is listed with their dogs' pictures for the contact photos.
There are more clues which would lead people to think you're a dog person, but I think you get the point.  If everything you do or have is based on your dogs, you're a dog person. Unless you've got a special dog themed handbag and you're one of those people who dresses your dog like a human and carries it in the handbag - that just makes you a weird dog lady!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Cinder's Adventures Begin

     It's been a busy couple weeks for us since the weather finally broke enough to get out and start doing some things. In a matter of weeks Cinder's life has dramatically changed in a lot of ways.  One thing is certain, she has more than doubled her size in the last month-particularly the last couple weeks!  Her adventures in life are really beginning now.
    A couple weeks ago Cinder discovered she can jump and ever since, trying to keep her from it has been quite the impossible dream! Her favorite thing to do when she's fighting being tired is to kick into high gear and zoom at full speed around the house, jumping on the furniture and jumping off it onto Gilley and Buzz. She also discovered that she's tall enough to reach a lot of things a little pup shouldn't reach - like the tops of tables!  So far, we've been able to keep the tabletops free of dangerous, valuable, or food items, but I'm sure time will get the better of us and she'll soon abscond with something she shouldn't.  She is the most food motivated little pup I've ever had too and she hasn't found anything she won't at least attempt to eat.  Her girlish figure is going to be a challenge to maintain as she ages if her voracious appetite doesn't soon diminish!
   Other recent adventures include her first car rides without being held on one of our laps, but rather riding on a seat, tethered by a car harness.  The first endeavors to travel have been short, taking her to the barn and friend's places.  The first ride to the barn was successful but scary.  The second was less successful because she was not happy being in the back seat while I was in the front and kept getting herself worked up about it.  The third time we had Brian chauffer us with me in the back seat next to her to give her some support and confidence-which worked until she got sick and threw up.  In case you want to know, feeding a puppy within an two hours of taking a car ride is probably a bad idea.  Today we achieved total success by me driving and her being seated in the front passenger seat so she was close enough for me to give her some pats and consoling chatter. When we arrived at our destination, she got to meet two of our best friends who made all over her since they hadn't met her yet.  Then she met their dog (a great dane) who's head is as big as Cinder's entire body-that was funny but they got along well.
     Cinder's starting her leash training this week in tandem with her travel training so our trick training may not progress so much, but leash work is important stuff.  I'm hoping we'll be able to take her on the local bike paths soon so she can not only have a great walking place, but a great learning experience as she learns about dodging bikers!  We have an abundance of bike paths that converge in our town and go all over the state so I like to walk the dogs on them often since they are mostly well shaded and reasonably well groomed areas. The opportunities for socializing with people and other dogs is good too.
     In the month that we've had Cinder, she's become a fixture in our world.  Gilley and Buzz have totally accepted her and engage in all kinds of play with her daily now. Her presence has already impacted all our lives for the better, getting us all up and moving more than we have been for a while, and of course, who can resist cuddling a cute little puppy at every opportunity.
     That's the update on Cinder for now.  Now that Spring is about to bloom forth, Cinder's adventures are really about to begin so look for more updates on our activities and don't forget to check us out on Facebook for updates there too as we continue raising Cinder!


Chris, Cinder's hu-mom

Monday, March 3, 2014

Challenged by Lifestyle

     A brief online chat yesterday reminded me that not everyone truly understands the challenges of raising a Border Collie in a small city versus on a farm.  Trust me, it had been my hope that we would have a small farm of our own long ago as I have never adapted well to city living. But, when life doesn't work the way you'd hoped or planned, you deal with it. City life is itself a challenge in my world, but successfully raising any pets in a city setting is definitively NOT ideal and far less than ideal for raising highly energetic and intelligent Border Collies.
    Ideally, Border Collies should have a LOT of exercise both physical and mental to channel their energy and keep them fit.  Many scoff at the need to keep them busy but if you've ever had a Border Collie, then you know they truly require something to do for every waking moment, particularly while they are young. If you reside on a farm or home with a large area in which they may run and exercise, it's easy to wonder why anyone would need to entertain a puppy because given that kind of space and lifestyle, they will easily burn their energy running the property-even without much of a job.  Certainly if they live on farms where they have both space and jobs, their lives are easily filled with daily exercise.  However, when you live in a city and have a less than a quarter acre of yard space, the challenge of keeping Border Collies physically and mentally fit require you to make a concerted effort to provide them enough exercise and entertainment.  Many Border Collies and Border Collie crosses have ended up in shelters and rescues because people didn't fully understand their herding instincts, intelligence, and need for exercise and interaction. Truly, if you don't channel their minds and provide things to do, they will find their own entertainment and it's often not healthy for them or your household! I have never wanted to fail my dogs by not doing my best to meet their needs, but I know we often lack the physical exercise during winter months when taking them somewhere is just not possible.
     Fortunately we are older and have no children or grandchildren which makes our home relatively quiet most of the time. It also means our only diversions are our jobs and our hobbies which means our dogs really are our primary focus in our home. We live in town, but we have good friends with large farms close by that allow us to use their farms at will to exercise our dogs; and there are several dog parks nearby.  I tend to steer away from dog parks because  you never know how well other people care for or handle their dogs and I fear the exchange of illnesses and potential dog fights. The big problem is that being older and having physical limitations, simply walking the dogs does little in terms of exercise for them.  Border Collies really do need to be able to cut loose and run-a lot. Needing to take them somewhere to get that exercise is often impossible due to weather.  That forces us to find ways to mentally stimulate their need to be busy in ways people with spacious yards or farms do not necessarily need to do.
     Finding things for Border Collies to do is not really the challenge-if you have the time and commitment to working with them.  Their intelligence means you can teach them a LOT of tricks and as they learn more individual tricks,  you can combine them to form more and more complicated ones.  But when they're puppies, there is a certain amount of pure play and interaction they need to keep them healthy and developing. Creativity is a great thing with Border Collies because if you can think of something to teach them, they generally like learning so you can devise some great playtime activities that are also training them for future tricks and jobs.  Agility is an awesome way to occupy Border Collies and their inherent characteristics make them REALLY great at it.  Nothing says you have to compete in agility trials, but teaching them agility components and being able to set up small courses in your small yard gives you an alternate way to exercise the dog mentally and physically. As puppies, they can learn a lot of basics necessary for them to do agility with some very simple and fun activities.  Frisbee and ball chasing are other activities Border Collies love and help keep them busy too.  Raising and maintaining Border Collies in a city isn't impossible, but it is more work than sending out the back door to get some fresh air for a few minutes and relieve themselves; or taking a walk around the park.  
     I attribute our success raising Gilley and keeping he and Buzz healthy to our diligence in keeping them occupied; taking them places as much as possible; and having a quiet home in which they can be inside resting or interacting with us to play games.  They keep us from being couch potatoes and we totally enjoy their antics. Cinder needs our interactions to keep her on track and not chewing her way through the house or demonizing us due to boredom.  Her youthful energy is good for all of us, forcing us to all be more active and engaged than we have been the last couple years and frankly, we need that as much or more than she does! Her little mind at work forces us to keep challenging her.  Despite the work she requires of us, her presence has already enhanced and enriched our lives and we look forward to more fun and folly in our adventures raising Cinder.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gilley to the Rescue Teaching Cinder

     Halted progress this week due to my back - I have a bulging disk and pinched nerve inhibiting just about everything including working with Cinder.  We managed to continue honing what she knows already.  However there were some fun and important new developments this week without my help.
       Last week, Gilley finally decided to make up with Cinder and began playing with her.  Now, the two have become true BFF's.  They play every day and this week, I couldn't be more glad since my mobility as been seriously limited, making play with Cinder pretty minimal.  Gilley has been the one to initiate playing as much or more than Cinder.  I think he's finally glad to have a play pal that we'd always hoped would be Buzz, but has never happened.  Buzz does not know or want to play the way Gilley enjoys play.  Cinder NEEDS play so having Gilley finally engaging with her is awesome for both of them and me!  
  Aside from playing, Gilley's also been teaching her when it's time to rest quietly because the adult dogs want quiet time.  Additionally, he has been helping her hone her stalking.  Stalking is important for herding, but apparently Gilley thinks it's important all the time.  I managed to capture a brief stalk and attack by Cinder on the video below.  

Laying by Chris on the loveseat
Additionally, the boys are helping teach Cinder that outside doors don't open until everyone sits first. She's doing well with that lesson but needs human reminders and praise. Cinder seems most proud of being able to now jump onto the loveseat.  She could climb onto it last week, but she discovered the art of the jump this week during playtime with Uncle Gilley.  I'm not sure whether to thank Gilley or strangle him for showing her the artful means of jumping onto the loveseat or chair because now she wants to do it all the time.  They race through the house full speed and get a running start and jump onto the loveseat or a chair and she thinks it's awesome cool, but I hate the idea of her jumping down again onto the hard floors so I'm trying to discourage this newfound, fun skill until she's older.  We'll see how that works out.  I think it'll be easier once we get through this wintry blast and finally have spring at last. Playing outside more will mean playing inside less and thereby, less jumping. The one advantage has been since my back flared up, Cinder seems proud she can easily jump onto the loveseat beside me.  That's been Gilley's "thing" for eight years-lay beside me on the loveseat and snuggling.  Now, Cinder's been doing it and it's been interesting that Gilley hasn't even tried to dissuade her these last three days.  Perhaps he senses that it's the best and least painful way for me to be close to her while my back heals; but maybe he just figures it's not worth the fight because HE still holds the crown that entitles him to a coveted spot on our bed.

     Cinder is also developing her "racing speed" as she races around the house and yard attempting to keep up with the big dogs.  Amazingly, she's pretty quick for her size but those little legs make for a much shorter stride.  She does have a very competitive side so I think she will always try to outdo the big dogs whenever possible.  I can't wait to take her places and get her out where she will literally have hundreds of acres to run with the boys.  Come on Spring!
     Meanwhile, Buzz is content to have Gilley play with Cinder because he had Cinder duty for the first few weeks.  Gilley is his respite from having her drag him across the kitchen by his tail.  He still plays with her but clearly it's Gilley's style of more interactive play that she prefers (and needs). Gilley is her favorite now for that reason if no other.  It's all part of life raising Cinder.