Thursday, April 28, 2011

obedience training: lesson 1

at our first training session, we were taught an official way to command desmond to sit. this is less because desmond doesn't know how to sit and more because we need him to learn, once and for all, that we are in charge--no matter how much he whines or how cute his face is. basic obedience training like this is the foundation of everything else, and it will, in turn, curb desmond's separation anxiety. or so we are being told by a trainer and behaviorist who is charging big bucks.

from what i have gathered, a behaviorist is a type of trainer who can charge more for his/her services than someone who is purely an obedience trainer. this particular dude is also a judge at dog shows and has a list of other credentials that make me feel confident in our decision to go with him. he also has a calm demeanor, which i really like, because i'm hoping that will help me to be the same way with desmond.

one of the things i found surprising was that he doesn't use treats with his training and suggests that you not use them either--at all, ever. he sees no reason to spend money on something that isn't actually helping the dog follow the commands or respect you. he sees it like this: the dog is working for food, not because he is supposed to listen to you.

it's not that we've never heard the pros and cons of using treats when you train--we have, and we mostly agree that using them to train is defeating the purpose a bit--but i was taken aback by the idea of never treating desmond to something yummy, either for doing a good job or for no reason at all.

i guess the theory is if you're feeding the dog the correct amount of food every day, treats are nothing more than empty calories and a waste of money--they aren't productive at all. yet, if there's one thing i've learned over the years, it's that you can't be productive all the time, even when you really want to be. i've also learned that loving hard & fast & too much is OK, especially when that love is directed at another living thing you've chosen to spend your life with. we will continue to give him treats, though we may not buy quite as many or as often, and i, personally, will stop using them to train him on commands as we get past them in our lessons. now that we've done sit and sit-stay, i won't use treats for those commands anymore. in the meantime, when my adorable doggie gives me a paw because i asked him to, he's going to get a lovely little snack.

anyway, the sit lesson. it's not simply, "hey dog, time to sit." it begins with some walking back and forth--and there's a special way to do that walking. also, it begins with a new way to hold the leash.

an overhead view
you need a six-foot leash; you need to keep the dog on your left and grab the leash fairly close to where it hooks onto the dog in the same way you would hold handlebars; and you need to keep your arm down and relaxed. (joey held the leash up and out to get a better view of the position.) with your right hand, you take the loop of the leash with your thumb--don't put it around your wrist; don't wrap the leash around your hand. you just hook your thumb into the loop.

from the front

then you use your right hand to reach over & down on the leash, toward your left hand. your right hand then pulls some of the excess leash over, to be kept in your right fist (with the loop that's hooked on your hand). you'll have most of the excess hanging down between your two hands.

this is pretty much the opposite of how i was holding the leash. when i'm walking desmond, he still pulls a little too much (or darts out after birds, rolling garbage cans, floating paper towels, etc.) for this kind of hold on the leash. i've tried it, and it hurts quite a bit when the leash rubs against my left pinky. kind of like a rug burn = not fun. we'll keep trying though.

in the meantime, it doesn't matter because the training is supposed to be done indoors only for now, so i can use my ridiculous wrapped-around-72-times thing on my right hand and hopefully save a few neighborhood squirrels and butterflies.

after you get yourself set up with the dog on the leash, you pretty much just walk around your house with him. no need to go far--i don't think we walked more than 10 steps at any point.

crappy quality, i know. sorry!
here, desmond is getting distracted by his bed and toys and the possibility that maybe some treats magically appeared in his puzzle while he wasn't looking, as tends to happen. no matter: you just keep on walking. drag the dog if you must.

then you stop and look at him and quietly ask him to sit. if he sits right away, great! praise. if he doesn't sit right away, you wait to see if he will, but if he still doesn't after a little while or starts getting all distracted by random things, you jerk the leash with your left hand (this is why you need your hand pretty low) and say, "no." then ask him to sit again. you keep doing that until you get a decent sit and always praise when you do, of course.

good boy!
after that, you start walking again. then you stop for some more sitting. repeat a bunch of times.

again, i know it seems really simple and very "no kidding, dummy." i don't care. we're going to do whatever it takes to make this dog the best dog he can be. so much love for that guy!

desmond owes us money

for all the damage he's done in the house. minor though it may be, repairs aren't free.

scratched up, chewed on door frame next to the spare-room door
scratched up spare-room door

clearly delicious bathroom door frame
after finally being shown an additional cushy lounging area... (photo credit: t. schatz)

someone remembered that we have this chair...

and learned that cushion buttons are fun to chew on

he also really got the plant good this time! the poor fella was dragged out from that now-empty corner and off of his floor-protecting mat. then he was attacked by a crazy dog. so sad.

lucky for desmond, he's allowed to pay his bills with hugs and kisses. later today, training post! prepare to be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

desmond & nala & stuff

nala is the rhodesian ridgeback puppy cousin who belongs to joey's sis & her fiancé. nala is 7 months old. nala is huge. nala is FULL of energy. nala is actually only five pounds or so heavier than desmond (hard to believe, especially when you compare the size of their butts!). nala is totally adorable, even if she is too much for poor mr. sleepypants to handle. the two got along great, though they are not quite on the same page in regards to enjoyable activities, and desmond was such a trooper through a long day away from his home, outside, on concrete, being chased by a crazy giant puppy. i think he got back at her just a little bit when he stole away her chew treat that grandpa bought. grandpa gave one to each of them, of course, but nala was too slow with hers and desmond seized the day. he did let her eat her special easter cookie that we brought from the barkery pretty much without harassment. good boy!

that's nala in the back, which seems obvious to me, but you never know

snack time with grandpa! also, put-freshly-cleaned-bed-back-together time for nala's daddy. she didn't do so well on the car ride down to queens from goshen. poor nala. and poor jen's original outfit.


here's a good shot of desmond's wonky legs, by the way

treats! thanks mom/aunt jen!

no, desmond, you cannot eat the whole bag

watching nala lie down

a walk to the park--that didn't allow dogs. :-( "hi cousin desmond!! hi! hi! hi! wanna play?????? let's play! can we play when we get to the park? can we play now? wanna chase birds? let's run somewhere!"

"no, cousin nala. aren't you tired? we've been out all day. is this walk over yet? sheesh."

on another note, i finally sat down last night to work on posting about the first training session and some additional minor damage that desmond did last week, but a) the trainer came early and b) i had photo-uploading difficulties. so, this is what you're stuck with for now. i should be all fixed up tonight.

when i do post about the training, it will be far less exciting than you're expecting, i assume. the lessons are basic obedience training, but the commands are taught in a specific way. so, it may seem dumb to you. it may seem like, um, anyone can do that. i kind of agree, seeing as how we were making progress with him on certain things; but i mostly disagree, seeing as how the things he "learned" were being performed perfectly only 50% of the time. i'm glad--very glad--to have the help. and desmond's a quick study. he did great the first time around with the "sitting and walking" lesson and even better at last night's "sit-stay" lesson. in no time we'll have him fetching us beer and switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer.

on another additional note, he was an angel again on monday and tuesday while we were at work. he definitely moves things around--the couch and console table are always askew (the couch has migrated a good foot from its position the day he came home with us)--and enjoys lounging on various surfaces (dining room bed, living room chair, couch). he also has been doing a lot of exploring and playing with his toys, which i like to credit (discredit??) to our hiding treats around the rooms for him to find all day (yeah right. he finds them in like 10 minutes. he's already on a mission before we're out the door.). we have been finding toys strewn about the three rooms, and we noticed that he located my snuggie, which is folded up in a box/basket that we keep under the console table behind the couch. he didn't do anything to it except try to pull it out from the box, unsuccessfully, but i love that he wants to get all up on my snuggie. because everyone loves a snuggie, am i right? plus, it smells like me, so obviously it's a little slice of heaven right there in the living room.

no, i do not have one of these, but you have to know i want one, right?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

mini photo break

desmond fully enjoyed his human cousin and will be a superb baby guard when the time comes at the forge house (photo credit: j. menzer)
desmond does not appreciate being handed an empty plate, even if it is his cute new friend giving it to him (photo credit: j. menzer)

daddy & a very very pooped desmond (photo credit: j. menzer)

guarding his new monkey. our friend & cousin jamie gave this monkey to desmond, but i have no idea if we should call her cousin jamie or aunt jamie, based on my original theories. i am inclined to go with cousin jamie, since my actual human child will be jamie's cousin. all that being said, i have fully confused myself and, likely, you. (photo credit: j. menzer)

enjoying the sun at the waterfront (yes, that's his happy face)

enjoying the unkempt spring grass in our yard

desmond & his car buddy, kona

Sunday, April 24, 2011

why i am angry

i have no idea who the horrible humans are that first brought desmond to their home. i have no idea if it even was more than one person, a family, someone young, someone old, someone physically unfit to care for an animal, or anything like that. i don't know where he was living, geographically. all i know is that whoever had desmond when he was a baby and doing all his growing is an absolute monster (or monsters).

we already know that his feet and legs are wonky and crooked and not formed correctly and sensitive because he was raised in a cage or a crate. not crate trained, but raised in there. as in, didn't spend much time out of it. as in, got too big for his space and that's why his legs and feet are like that.

i don't really have pictures that show just how bad his back legs are, but maybe you can tell in some of these:

his two back legs turn in toward each other. they appear to rub against one another when he walks, but they don't. he looks somewhat like a deer on ice. it affects his walking, running, sitting, jumping, and ability to use stairs. he isn't in any pain, and we're pretty sure he's not uncomfortable either, but it's something he has to live with and work around on a daily basis. it sucks. we hope he'll be OK in his old age, and the vet thinks he will be, but we'll see.

this makes me incredibly sad whenever i think about it, but within seconds i start feeling full of rage. what the hell is wrong with people? i just don't understand. i would love to hunt these losers down and yell at them a lot and attempt to have them arrested or, just, something. i don't know.

desmond's nails are always going to be on the long side. the vein is pretty much as long as his nails are, for reasons i don't totally understand. i have heard that if you cut long nails such as his a little bit every few days, you can "train" the vein to recede, and eventually your dog will have short nails (though, the groomer that joey took desmond to today did not mention this, which would allow him to have us come in and pay him $10 rather often, so i find that odd). in addition, i am aware that your dog's nails will be naturally filed by the ground outdoors during walks, and that this greatly assists in the process of nail trimming.

but desmond was raised by awful jerks, so his nails don't grow down toward the floor--they grow left, right, up, down, at an angle, straight out. though you can absolutely hear him when he walks, his nails don't hit the ground in the way necessary for this filing assistance.

so, we are tasked with doing our own filing to help keep his talons at bay. and what will we be filing with? oh, no. not this thing:

i loves me some good ASOT infomercials, but the products themselves often let me down

but with this thing:

oh, yes that IS a cutter/sander/router

don't freak out. it's totally OK! we will not be cutting or routing the dog in any way. the pedi paws is basically the same thing as the sander attachment for the trio--and we already own the trio, because we can't resist a power tool on sale (especially when it's one i read great reviews for and insist i can actually use myself, even without supervision for all my DIY/crafty projects i'm going to start one day. for really reals. you just wait.)

UPDATE: i originally started writing this post on friday (and i don't have any clue how to change the date on a post once it's drafted, by the way). weekends are completely insane at all times, and i normally don't get a chance to get anywhere near the internet for more than checking the weather, so please forgive my odd posting schedule. in any case, i wrote this when i was under the impression that we'd be using our dremel trio to file desmond's nails.

yesterday, husband announces he is going to the pet store to A) return the crate we bought before we brought desmond home with us (we never intended to use it but held onto it just in case things got to that point. they have not. we will put up with desmond's little destructions for as long as we need to while we train him out of it. we can't bear to put him back in the thing that he is most afraid of and has spent so much of his life in already. say what you want. think that we are naive or letting him be the pack leader. we don't care. we refuse to crate this dog. end of story.) and B) look for a pedi paws.

as you can imagine, i was confused, and slightly annoyed since i had already written this post--not that joey knew that--and questioned his random desire to spend money when we didn't need to (we are both pretty cheap). what was his reasoning for this? he doesn't want to have to pull out the whole dremel every time desmond's nails need a filing. so, laziness seems to be winning out over cheapness. i'll definitely remember this for a future date and time when i can use it to my advantage. ;-)

that being said, i convinced husband to at least wait until we were taking a trip to the further-away, better, less pricey pet store to get the pedi paws. yay for compromise!

he did, however, come home with two special easter treats for desmond and his cousin nala, whom he'll be meeting later today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

getting his nails did

husband is home with dog today and has been tasked with the mission of getting desmond's nails cut, for real this time. the vet tried to do it, but desmond threw a hissy fit and made it very difficult. he's going to meet his cousin nala this weekend (along with various human family members), so we cannot have him romping about with his eagle talons-turned-nightmarish nails. we'll see how that goes!

hoping to get some pix tonight of what we learned at our training session this week, so i can share our progress in a more concrete way. don't want to give away all the trainer's secrets though, so i'll be attempting to use what little discretion i have.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

our gardener should be fired

granted, the work is cheap (as in FREE), but you always get what you pay for, don't you?

for 21 days, he ignored the plant entirely. wtf?

daddy let him know that it is not OK to trim the foliage while we are out, and desmond got all guilty and sad about it, but soon went back to his busy schedule of napping. i guess all that chewing/pulling/playing tired him out. 

desmond, anytime you wanna do this all day long, you just go right ahead

he's done something small/semi-harmless like this every day this week. (and before you make assumptions, yes, that plant is nontoxic to dogs.) i still think he's doing these things more or less right away after we leave, and not out of boredom--we give him lots to do--though it makes me want to set up a video camera and spy on him.  

then again, this is the kind of stuff that our trainer says will stop happening by the time he is done training desmond/me/joey. yup--we hired a trainer. more on that soon enough!

cleaning with desmond

one day, while husband was doing some cleaning, he decided to see how desmond would react to the scooba. we both assumed, based on skinny butt's usual temperament, that he would either be totally frightened of it or completely oblivious. and never did we consider the idea that he would dislike scooba in an "attack" way. he landed somewhere in the middle of all that.

"stop looking at me, swan!"
he showed interest, observed and stalked the floor-washing robot calmly, then got bored and went back to sleep on the couch.

comfortable position, no?
i had really been hoping that he would do something cool and/or funny with/to the scooba. kind of like what happens in this video of not my dog:

oh well. at least cleaning is easy without having to console a crazy dog.

sometimes what gets cleaned is something of his. when we do this, it disrupts his beauty rest. (all these shots were taken before we took the gate down, obviously. what can i say? i'm slow.)

giving the "where the hell is my nuddle and why aren't you on the couch?" face

not quite as soft or large as the nuddle, but easier to move around--and therefore to burrow into

a few minutes later, he flipped around into what i call his "sideways sit" position, and i felt compelled to try and tuck him in a little for a good nap

later still... "ask me if i care about your stay-on-the-towel rule."

once desmond starts rolling around on the couch like that, he often finds a way to roll himself right off. the first few times, he would simply fall on the floor and be all confused about what had happened, especially if he had been sleeping. he has since figured out how to catch himself. like so...

"oh, darn--down here again."

"may as well make the most of it and go for a little walk."

"but first i think i'll use the couch for stretching leverage. oh, yeah... that's the stuff. hey, mom, when are we joining that yoga class?"
(apologies for the awful photo quality here--i was just snapping away, trying to capture it all without thinking about adjusting settings.)

have you noticed?

we're on twitter!

also, we're really, really, really embarrassed by the mets. and it shows...

"you can't be serious, right?"

"this is really not funny."

"i'll just hang my head in shame and hope this stupid hat falls off."

these were gifts from grandma & grandpa K, and although desmond is less than pleased, mom and dad found this more than amusing. too bad no one finds the mets amusing--or even mildly entertaining, as was exemplified during the broadcast of last night's game, when keith & gary spent at least five minutes discussing the new burgers at keith's grill instead of whatever was going on (or not) on the field. fun fact: his gold glove burger comes with a tootsie pop. of course.
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