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These are the contacts in our neighborhood

Sing along with me — ye, of the Mr. Rogers generation. These are the contacts in our neighborhood … in our neighborhood … in our neigh-bor-hood. One of my made-up strategies for getting Lilly used to performing agility in public settings is to use things we find on our walks (especially in town) as obstacles. I figure if I can get her to do various agility-like things while other people and dogs are walking by, while cars are zooming past, that it may someday translate onto the training field or the competitive ring. So, here’s a photo tour of a recent walk.

There’s a loop we often walk down in town, along a major creek. It’s a nice paved path in small-town America, with various things we use as obstacles along the way.

(Keep in mind that Lilly is still not keen on the camera, so she’ll often look away from me, when I point it at her. She really *is* having fun. I promise.)

I know it doesn’t look like it in the photo, but this is a pretty good-sized rock. It’s steep on one side, so I use our A-Frame command “fly” to get Lilly to climb it.

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Here is a brick wall that’s about chest height for me (so maybe 3.5 feet high … I’m only 5 feet, 1 inch tall). I use our Dog Walk command “Walk it,” and Lilly easily leaps up and runs the whole way across. It’s probably 30 feet long.

After she ran it, I asked her to “Freeze,” which is her standing stay command. So, this is as close to a free stack (for those who know what that is) as we get. In other words, this is Lilly’s impression of a “Show Dog.” Look at that muscle tone!

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Season’s first SNOW

It started snowing Saturday night and didn’t stop until early Monday morning. It was warm enough, though, that much of it melted as it fell. Plus, I took these pictures late Monday afternoon, so a lot was already gone. But, it means it’s time to adjust my dog management plan for winter. Otherwise, these two knuckleheads are going to drive me batty.

I don’t really mind the snow, but Tom was traveling last weekend, so I was a single dog mom for a couple days. That’s also OK, except when everyone is cooped up due to snow. I did bundle up a couple times and venture out into the snow and wind to play with the dogs, but I don’t last as long as they do in the cold.

One of the old farmer dude neighbors always chastises me that there is no cold weather, just cold clothes. So, I try to gird myself for the weather and let the pups burn off some energy.

Lilly, in particular, turns into a wild jackrabbit of a dog in the cold weather. She races around at top speed, daring Ginko to take up the chase. When he does, she gets so excited that all the hair on her neck and butt stands on end. It’s very funny.

Tom had the camera with him over the weekend, during the worst of the snow, but here are a few I shot on Monday afternoon.

This photo shows them just before an explosion of wrestling and chase.

snow 1 snow 2

Then comes a good wriggle by Ginko. Lilly just waits for him to finish so that she can instigate another game of chase. Sometimes I think he’s trying to self-handicap so that she can play top dog for a while.

snow 1

When that doesn’t work, she grabs whatever she can find to entice me to play. Yesterday it was a dried up sunflower. Of course, when I tried to take a photo of her, then she would not play with it. BUT, before the camera came out … she pranced around with it in her mouth until I threw it for fetch several times.

It makes me wonder why I bother with toys. Often, Lilly’s play item of choice is something she finds in the pasture.

Hey, buddy, are you LOOKING at me?

I often find myself at my desk, working away, until a commotion outside gets my attention. It usually starts with catching a black streak out the window in my peripheral vision. Then, the noise hits me. Oh, is there barking? Indeed there is. So, I stop what I’m doing and go see what exactly has Lilly’s attention this time. Last week, it was cows.

There’s a hobby-type ranch right behind us. It’s about 200 or so acres, and someone in one of the two houses over the ridge runs cows and horses on the land. The herd makes a pretty steady route from end to end each day, which means they pass by here around supper most days.

Often they settle right behind our fence, and Lilly sits with them. Until last week, I thought it was because they liked Lilly or that she somehow sassed them into laying down. But, a neighbor crushed my delusions. He said, the cows have always settled in behind our house. Oh, well.

So, once I got Lilly to stop barking at the cows, I asked her to sit. The conversation went a little like this.

“Lilly, leave it. Watch me.”

“Lil, lil, Leave IT! Come.”

“LILLY, ENOUGH, COME.”

Eventually, I did get her attention.

“Leave the cows alone. SIT.” I told her.

And, she did. BUT, she really wanted to keep an eye on the herd.

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Then, just yesterday, it happened again. So, I got her to stop and look at me. BUT, you can totally tell that she’s fighting the urge to look. Check out her eyes.

I swear she’s like … “Must … look … at … mom … BUT … want … to … stare … at … cows …”

Bless her heart. She does try to do as I ask, but sometimes it’s indeed hard work. For their part, the cows are waiting to see what will happen next.

Sheep herding slide show

Another border collie gal I know here in CO sent me a link to this photo slideshow from a recent herding trial. Since it has been l-o-n-g day, and I’d better spend time with Lilly rather than write about her today. I’ll simply share photos of other very hard working dogs, amazing dogs.

Link to slide show page. Then, click on the box that says Watch dotPhoto Show to see the slideshow and hear the music.

Enjoy!

I’m off to play a little hide and seek with Lilly since it’s cold and wet outside tonight. She’s a total cheater, but sometimes she’ll wait until I hide and then come find me.

Stage mom?

I know that my non-agility friends don’t
get it. I’m quite convinced they are quite convinced that I’m a total
stage mom. Those of you with performance dogs (not pets) understand the
distinction. We know and love our dogs in ways others likely do not
understand. That said, don’t you ever look at your furry star and
think, “Man! She ought to be in pictures …”?

Thanks to the media demands of blogging, however, I will have to be
satisfied with the images I post here. For the record, I’m happy to say
that shooting photos for the blog seems have gotten Lilly over her fear
of the camera. She no longer automatically slinks off or stops what
she’s doing when I point the camera at her. She still will act shy,
sometimes. But, it’s no longer a given.

Victory!

We threw out a bunch of sunflowers in the upper pasture in the spring.
The results weren’t quite the full field we’d hoped for, but a few
rather large flowers did come up along the driveway.

It took me a while, but I finally found an inflatable ball
for Lilly at an outdoor clothing store. I’m using it to teach her to
play volleyball with her nose. My goal is to be able to play extended
volleys over our split-rail fence, but so far, we can only do 4-5 at a
time, with me catching the ball between Lilly’s errant shots. I toss
the ball toward her head and say “Pop,” which is her cue to poke it
into the air with her nose. Sometimes she even jumps up to do it.

I’m also trying to teach her to catch a cloth
frisbee. Because I tried to teach the two tricks too close together,
however, she often just hits the frisbee with her nose, rather than
catching it.


I’m thinking about sending this photo to the Life is Good people. Maybe they’ll decide to use Lilly in their advertising. (ha ha)

Either way, I hope that even when your own training doesn’t go as well
as you hope you can remember that indeed Life is Good … when you
share each day with a dog.

WHO'S IN CHARGE?

Based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (USA), Roxanne Hawn is a veteran journalist, author, blogger, and influencer.

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