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Category Archives for Dog Video

Snowball Fetch

Clearly, Lilly loves fetch, but it’s hard to play in
deep snow. Even her double-size ball gets lost. So, we play snowball
fetch instead. It’s a challenge to capture on my own since I have to hold the camera in my
right hand and throw with my left, but here is one clip that shows just how
funny snow fetch can be. Lilly uses this same technique to catch mice in the
pastures during the summer. I think her pounce mechanics are pretty good.
Goodness help us all, I figured out how to do slow motion. Watch out!

You can see the shadow of the snowball flying off to the left.

Lilly Navigates Deep Snow

Saturday morning, when the snow levels went past two feet,
we let Lilly and Ginko out to potty after breakfast, as usual. In her search for
a clear-enough spot to go, Lilly ended up on an odyssey. I couldn’t help but
film her from the upstairs guest room window. You can see her create, then retrace her own maze. When she’s moving more quickly, she is inside tracks she already made. (They are hard to see in this lighting.) When she breaks trail, she ventures out into new snow. You can see her thinking her way through, as she battles the deep snow. Rest assured, we were prepared to
mount a rescue, if needed. Lilly is very tough, very strong, very persistent. I wish you could feel how muscular she is. It’s amazing. I wish I was as fit!

Snow Report from Lilly’s Valley

This most recent snow storm, which lasted here from Thursday at dinnertime through Saturday around bedtime, dropped somewhere between 3 and
4 feet of snow her at Chez Champion of My Heart. The much-needed moisture is
great. The stability of our various utilities in recent days and other
weather-related drama — not so much.

This is my version of what my friend Sharon Anne Waldrop calls, “You know you live in the country, when …” Usually her examples are cute, like realizing while you’re at the post office that you still have eggs from the hen house in your pocket or stopping to help a neighbor round up wayward horses because you happen to have spare harnesses and rope in your car. I certainly have those examples too, but today, I’ll share the sometimes frustrating side of living in a relatively remote area … while trying very hard to work from home:

  • Wednesday (which was a warm, beautiful) no
    power, ended up having to take notes during phone interviews by hand
  • Thursday, monster snow begins
  • Friday, monster snow, inadequate plow equipment,
    and no internet connection
  • Saturday, monster snow, no phones, car nearly
    off the embankment of own driveway
  • Sunday, snow finally ends, but no internet connection


In the midst of the snow clearing drama on Saturday, I’m sorry to report I took no photos. Imagine one tired/hungry/frustrated spouse (after 2+ hours of struggling to get my car unstuck on his own). Enough said?

Ultimately, it took like six people, three shovels, one snowblower, and an ATV with a plow to clear the steepest part of our driveway (near the main road) enough that we could get another vehicle in to pull mine out. We tried using Tom’s truck to pull mine backwards. No luck. I just slid further down the hill. We tried our neighbor’s Suburban to pull it from the front, but it nearly got stuck too. Finally, one of the old-timers came up the road in his ancient, 40-ton snowplow, tank-like thing with big metal treads. He cleared more snow, then pulled my car to safety.

What an ordeal!

More snow videos coming later this week, but for now, I’m at the end of my patience for things going wonky on the technology front. I have very simple needs: food, water, shelter, wood, electricity, phone, internet … and, of course, warm pups.

A little sledding perks a girl up too!

(I shot this Sunday, after a 60+ degree day greatly reduced the thigh-deep snow.)

Weekly Training Update (April 17)

I’m swamped with work, so I didn’t get to do much scent work this week. I tried capturing some of our struggles on video, but it’s really hard to train and deal with the camera at the same time, so instead … you’ll find another trick video below. (Are you sick of me and the new camera yet?) BUT, you’ll also find a written recap of our scent work so far and photos of Katie’s latest visit for a play date

Scent Work Continued
As I mentioned earlier, we started with beer on a cotton ball inside one container, and all Lilly wanted to do was pick up or otherwise mess with the container. I was NOT convinced she was using her nose. So, I went to scent inside one container with one decoy, then two, then three.

I clicked and treated her any time she picked the right one (even if she knocked over all of them before getting it right). I thought about only rewarding right-on-the-first-try responses, but she got very frustrated and discouraged.

I found that sitting on the floor with her and having her in a DOWN across from me worked best. I could play the “shell game” and slide the various yogurt cups with lids around. She honestly seemed to be sniffing the more we played at the game. I could even hear her sniffing.

Full-disclosure — I went to WHISKEY because getting a little out of the bottle makes more sense than messing up a beer (or gasp, having to drink one) to get a little for training. The whiskey smell is much stronger, obviously.

(Yes, there’s a bottle of Maker’s Mark in my cabinet. Don’t be shocked. It’s been there for going on 8 years. I mostly use it to marinate steaks.)

Even with three decoys and the one scented cup, Lilly got really good at picking the right one.

In an attempt to make it easier and potentially easier to film, I put velcro on the cups and attached them to a piece of cardboard. Genius, I told myself. Just brilliant.

Guess what happened?

Lilly thought ripping the cups off the cardboard and getting to hear the velcro
tearing sound was a HOOT. She completely stopped trying to smell anything. It
like a ghetto version of a Hide-a-Squirrel or something. She had FAR too much
fun ripping the set-up apart.

First, I was frustrated. Then, I couldn’t stop laughing.

So, we haven’t revisited the smell game since. I promise we’ll try again soon,
when I have a spare second not soaked with deadline worry.

Katie’s Visit After a Month-Long Break

Katie is now clear to play again, after a month to rest an injured wrist, so
one day this week when a scheduled interview evaporated on a warmish afternoon,
I ran up to get her for a visit. I let Lilly and Ginko out onto our property so
that they could see me bring her back. I hoped this would prevent any surprise

When I got to the gate, I threw a handful of food to distract Ginko. Lilly and
Katie tore off racing around, while he snacked. When he decided to join the
game, he went barreling toward the girls and made Katie scream. Poor sweetie.
He can be a bit much.

Since it had been a while since the threesome had played, I stayed outside with
them for most of the playdate so that I could monitor them. I tried to get some
good action shots of the racing and playing, but I’m not nearly as good as Dog-Geek at capturing
the fun.

Honestly, though, they didn’t really play that much. All three kind of poked
around and did their own thing. Ginko had the ball. The girls sniffed around,
splashed in the pond and such. I guess I should have brought out more toys.

I did a bunch of treat feeding for all three to make sure everyone felt the love and got rewarded.

katie and pups

Katie’s ultimate fate is still undecided, but it’s looking less and less like she’ll get a dog friend at home.

Another Trick Video
I can’t help myself. Another video of Lilly showing off. It’s under 1 minute.



P.S. My blog software does not seem to like when I post photos AND video in the same entry. Often I get things just right and save it, only to find most of what I wrote and inserted gone the next time I get into the file. So, I pasted everything into a Word file just in case. When I pasted it back in, however, I couldn’t fix the font to match. It’s very aggravating. So … if there is ever a post that seems all out of whack, that’s why. I’m hoping this redone version works.


Hiking with Daddy-O

Despite threats of rain/snow, we took Lilly for a fairly long hike last Saturday. I moved slower than Lilly and Tom, after a week of intense weight-lifting workouts left my hamstrings screaming on the climbs. So, Lilly enjoyed more time with Tom … as I poked along behind them.


We saw a herd of deer. We heard an owl, but we could not find it in the trees. And, as I made my way up the final climb back to the parking lot, Tom and Lilly made friends with an open space volunteer. Lilly did not seem afraid of the woman or the horses being saddled nearby, so that’s nice.

Here is a little video clip I shot at the highest point on our climb.

Dog Trick: Shake & Other Hand

Here’s another little 30-second video I shot and tried to edit. It shows Lilly doing her SHAKE and OTHER HAND trick. Whichever hand she gives me first is SHAKE, which makes the other one OTHER HAND. I did not teach this as right-left thing. You also get to see her worried, round head … when Ginko comes into the room behind me.

What you don’t see is her growl and chase him away. She resource guards me MUCH more, if I’m bending down or sitting down on the floor.

Scent Work Video

You’ll have to stick with me, as I figure out the new camera and video editing software, but here are a couple clips of our do-over initial scent work, where I’m simply rewarding Lilly (click/treat) for paying any attention to the single container with the beer scent inside. BUT, I’m still not sure she is using her nose for real.

Gigi (our trainer) suggested using cocktail napkins, and KB is going to try putting the beer scent inside a Kong since her labs are want desperately to retrieve. Maybe she’ll have videos or photos to share too.

I guess I need to decide if I want her to alert to the scent as she is naturally here, to find it and bring it back, or maybe poke it with her paw or something. I have NOT been very skilled at training footwork other than SHAKE and HIGH FIVE.

If nothing else, I’m thrilled for all of you to see Lilly’s happy face. I see this relaxed, ready-to-learn face a lot at home, but I’m afraid those of you who have seen her in public or at class know that it can be a very different story. I’m never convinced that still photos show her true sweetness, but I love the way she watches me (outside of the frame for help, info, instruction).

For what it’s worth, I probably shouldn’t be asking her to FIND IT. Right?

We, as always, are a work in progress.

Video Editing Fun

Goodness help me. That darling boy I’ve been married to for 17 years (as of two days ago) got me a new camera as a belated b-day + anniversary gift to help with the blog. It has more features than I’ll ever use and WAY better video functions — the most important of which is that it makes files compatible with the neat video editing software that came with Vista on my new computer that I had to get in October when my old one got so slow it was greatly impeding my productivity. So, fair warning, I’ll probably overload you with photos and videos now.

I’m excited with the camera for a few other reasons:

1. I finally have my own camera. See … until now, we shared one, and since Tom often needs it for work (and he works all the time), there were many, many, many times I wanted to snap a shot and couldn’t.

2. It’s quite small and takes both stills and video clips, so I can take it on our adventures (like KB, Dog-Geek and others do).

3. It’s fun to have something new. I’ve always been a frugal girl, but out of necessity I’ve been more so in the last couple of years. That means, it’s pretty rare to have something new and exciting.

4. Plus, I get to learn how to make neat videos, with edited clips, easy graphics, and (once I figure it out) music.

Here are the details on what I’m using now:

  • Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
  • 10 mega pixels
  • 4x optical zoom
  • Image stabilizer
  • Video function

It has special settings for:

  • Portraits
  • Landscapes
  • Night shots
  • Indoor shots
  • Super close ups
  • Panoramic shots (easily stitched together)

Not impressed? Well, is also has a special setting for kids & pets, who often move. Ha!

Plus, through a menu, you can pick preset functions for shooting:

  • Night scenes
  • Sunsets
  • Foliage
  • Subjects in the snow
  • Subjects on a beach
  • Fireworks
  • Aquariums
  • Super high ISO speed

It’s going to take me ages to figure all this out. You know how dogs are. They do something cute and you try to capture it FAST. So, I’ll probably just keep it set on Kids & Pets and hope for the best at first.

So, as my first entry in the Champion of My Heart video hall of fame, here is a tiny clip I made last night based on a trick slash training game I play with Lilly. I say, “Wag if you love mommy.” And, she does.

I suspect I’ll have to do some counter-conditioning with the camera, like what KB has been doing with her youngest R, since indeed Lilly looks a little suspicious.

Still, it’s a cute trick.

Meet Our Soulmates

I “met” Debbie Jacobs through Twitter  (that social networking & mini-blogging site I mentioned a while back). We are fellow crusaders against out-dated training methods, especially when applied to fearful dogs. She’s the person behind the info site and blog as well as the e-book called A Guide To Living & Working With A Fearful Dog. We share many of the same insights, methods, and worries from our lives with fearful dogs. Today, to introduce our readers to each other, we’re doing a little Blog Swap Q&A. See her answers to my questions below. My answers to hers here.

Give us a little background on Sunny’s circumstances, age, depth and kind fears, etc.

Sunny is a survivor of a 477 dog hoarding site discovered in AR after the hurricanes of 2005. My best guess is that he was born at the site and lived in an outdoor pen with a number of other dogs and limited exposure to people. I’m not exactly sure of his age when he arrived, but it was probably between 1-2 years. His triggers are people and novel objects or situations. He’s great with other dogs, loves being outdoors, and though he will startle at noises, he’s not phobic about them, thank goodness. Maybe living around nearly 500 barking dogs desensitized him to noise

What kind of dog training experience did you have before Sunny?

I have female cocker that loves agility. Most of my dogs have been through at least a class or two, but she enjoyed it so much that we took classes for years. I’ve also attended obedience and rally classes with my other dogs, but I’m not into competing. I primarily enjoy the classes because they help me learn to communicate with my dogs more effectively, and the dogs like a night out. I am planning on becoming a certified dog trainer in the next year or so.

What methods do you use with him?

The first and most important step I took with Sunny was developing our relationship. Because Sunny had no positive experience with people, he had to sort out what I was good for so that he could begin to look forward to my arrival and being with me. We started with food but moved on to toys and eventually to running in the woods. I am aware of his triggers and thresholds and use counter conditioning and desensitization to help him change how he feels about scary things.

All of my training with Sunny is based on positive reinforcement. I use a clicker with him often. Any kind of aversive techniques are far too risky to use with a fearful dog. Even dogs without fear issues can end up with behavior problems when punishment is not used correctly, and most often it’s not. It doesn’t mean that he is allowed to behave in ways that I think are inappropriate, it just means that I try to teach him the behavior I want, not just try to stop the behavior I don’t. For a very long time I was very careful to ensure that he did not have any reason to wonder whether being with me was a good idea or not. Now, we can do things that might not be fun for him, like vet visits, but because we have solid relationship he bounces back quickly instead of needing to hide from me for the rest of the day while he decompresses from the stress of the experience.

How long have you been together, and what improvements have you seen?

Sunny came to live with me in December of 2005. He arrived a terrified and shut-down dog with no skills for interacting with people at all. He would defecate when handled or moved. He had never lived in a house before, everything about his new life was horrifying, except for my other dogs. He is still what I would call a fearful dog, but he can go for off leash walks in the woods with me, loves to chase frisbees and tennis balls, attends training classes, jumps on the bed for scratches and belly rubs in the morning after my husband leaves the house. He is still afraid of him and other people, but his reactions are becoming less intense.

What mistakes have you made, or what key lessons have you learned?

My biggest regret with Sunny was that when he first arrived I did not provide him with a safe place to hang out and hide. I believed that I’d only be ‘enabling’ his fear and that if he just faced his fears he’d get over them. I now realize that is so off the mark and wonder what additional damage I may have caused him as he lived for weeks in a corner of our living room, too afraid to move.

The biggest lesson I learned is that you cannot reinforce fear in an animal by comforting them when they are afraid. Their brains and our brains don’t work that way. I have also come to accept that because Sunny’s brain was not given the best start in life he may never be like my other dogs, but that’s ok, I am committed to working with him for the rest of his life. And I just adore him.

When did you launch the site, and what are your goals for it?

I created the website in 2007 and my goal was to create a resource for dog owners and rescuers working and living with a fearful dog. I wanted to include the most up-to-date information available about how to change the behavior of a dog with fear-based issues (or any dog for that matter). There is quite a bit of good science and research about animal behavior, but unfortunately too much of what is passed off as training advice is not based on what studies have shown really works. It’s not too difficult to get a dog to do something, and it’s not even that difficult to get a dog to do something AND enjoy it, but most people still hold rather archaic views about training dogs.

I wrote the ebook “A Guide To Living & Working With A Fearful Dog” to also help folks think about the best ways to work with their dogs. The biggest challenge for most owners of fearful dogs is changing their beliefs about how to work with them. I hope the book aids in that process.

If you know modern, positive methods trainers around the country (or even the world), please let Debbie know. She’s creating an online directory of people who can help others with their fearful dogs.

Weekly Training Update (March 27)

Between taxes, errands, magazine deadlines, and other grown-up concerns, we didn’t do much training this week. Katie is on activity restrictions at home due to a puffy wrist, but Lilly did visit once with Tom, and he said she was very good at calling off from Katie. So, that’s good to hear. Otherwise, I present a photo and video contribution that show just want a difference a day can make around here. This is probably the most snow we’ve gotten in one day all winter (even though it’s technically spring.). So, we played a little FIND IT, which is our very remedial scent work.

This is the snow in our bird bath that’s protected from the blizzard-like winds. We measured just 7 1/2 inches Thursday afternoon. They were predicting 1-2 feet, but we’ll take what we can get.

*** I inserted a tape measure photo here. It’s on my editing screen, but lost somehow on the blog … Sorry! ***

Oh, for pete’s sake … now the other photos are gone and a bunch of the text. Sorry for the technical drama. Very frustrating!!!!