Saturday, December 29, 2012

she weaves again and Christmas pictures

My dad bought me a set of 12 weaves when Amber was first starting to learn agility. They're spaced 20" apart. Amber and Rye never had a problem practicing on them even though at trials they used weaves set 24" apart for a long time. Indi has been learning on stick in the ground weave poles which feel a lot different than a real set of poles with a solid base. When she got the hang of six straight poles I attempted once to run her through my set of 20 inchers but quickly realized she is much too long and tall for them!

So Indi's Christmas present came a day late. A new set of six 24" weaves! (I'll have to save up for that second set)

Here she is the morning after bringing them home, weaving a real set for the first time. I thought maybe it would look and feel different enough that she wouldn't be able to do them right away but that was not the case. She does every once in a while get caught in them like I've seen larger dogs do.

She still doesn't always want to bring me back her toy and I think we need to work more on recalls! She was super excited though and that makes her more likely to do victory laps instead of returning.

The weekend before Christmas we went to visit our family in New Meadows, Idaho.
There, Indi got to drag Emma, my inlaw's Vizsla around with a toy.

Help open presents.

Help break down boxes for recycling.

And best of all, play frisbee in the snow!

We hope you all had a most beautiful Christmas day!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

the river in December

Our once weekly foray to the river. It's getting low and that means, a little swampy and green. I really should give Indi a bath after getting in it but I am lazy. I use a spray on shampoo (argh, how do I get rid of these link thingies?) and brush her coat really well instead.
I gave Rye a haircut on Thursday. I love how shaving his coat down a bit really makes his spots show.
Here he is on duck watch, his favorite passtime. He usually doesn't get out any deeper than this in the water so he doesn't get smelly.

Indi has started to point!

Indi loves to stick her whole head in the water and take big mouthfuls and then turn around and RUN straight at me. She gets wild!

The scratch between her eyes happened while playing with another dog. I really hope the hair grows back in!

And finally, here is Rye being his beautiful setter self.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

she weaves!

Four poles!
We've been doing the two by two method which is how Rye learned. Amber learned with channel weaves. I can't say either one was better for us since Amber almost always had really solid weaves and Rye didn't in competition but that may just be an individual dog thing. I do like the idea of the two by two method better. It feels to me that the dog really learns it well independently. It is working well for Indi since she is so toy motivated.

Next up, add two more off to the side and slowly move those in line with the other four. I started these about two weeks ago, working a few times a week and just yesterday she really had the idea down.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Indi turned a year old this past Tuesday!
A few weeks before that we got as many of her 16 siblings as we could get together, which turned out to be only four, for a pre birthday celebration.
This is her brother Wilson. Also a crazy retriever/water dog. Wilson is about the same size as Indi. He was the smallest puppy in the litter.

I've included their puppy photos that I took for their webpage to show how they have changed.

Wilson at 8 weeks.

Her brother Enzo also loves to retrieve and swim and is just a little taller than Indi. Enzo's owner cooks for him!

Enzo at 8 weeks.

Here is Wilson and their sister Zeva. Zeva was returned to the Vizsla rescue a few months ago and still needs a home.  No surprise, she LOVES water and balls. She was the most shy out of the litter at 8 weeks and still is a little hesitant in new situations.

Zeva at 8 weeks.

Indi and her sister Zeva. Indi is such a big help!

Indi, Enzo and Zeva.

My beautiful, 62 pound girl, Indigo.

Indi at 8 weeks.

And, to illustrate Indi's personality perfectly, a photo from when she lived with her first owner. A puppy playdate with brother Wilson and a different black and tan sister, Daphne. Two against one and look who's winning?

Here is a little video of Indi doing some agility a few weeks ago, bars set at 12 inches.


B is for bone!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A seminar!

I am taking an online course called "Building Relationship Through Play". It's being taught by Denise Fenzi who's blog I have been obsessed with reading lately. I really admire the way she works and plays with her dogs. She values each one of her dogs for the individuals that they are and you can see that they feel that.
The coarse will be about three different play types; toy, personal (just you and your dog) and food play (why did I not think of food play before?).  At first I thought it would be focused more on toy and personal play, now I see that she believes it is wise to have a balance in all three areas. Each one is useful in different situations. If you don't use a form of play very often, it can become something your dog just doesn't find reinforcing. I am noticing that with food. I have been playing so much with a tug toy with Indi that food is just not as exciting. I guess I need to find a way to make it fun. She gets very excited for her meals at home, kibble dog food, but out in the world she isn't RABID about treats.
Since I signed up as an observer that means I can't post videos or ask questions but I still thought it would be fun to make a few videos and post them here.

 Here is Indigo playing with a toy with me.

I know that I need to stand up straighter (better for your back of course).

I need to remember to let her win the toy more often to encourage her desire to play with me. If she were to get this toy to herself she still has the tendency to  run away with it. She will bring it back if I call her to come, and sometimes she will bring it back to play with me but she mostly wants to run in circles with it, shaking it to death.

She is very fun to play tug with! She will tug on just about anything.

And just for fun (and cuz I'm a nerd), here is my first installment of "Things Indi can hold".

                                                                      A is for Abalone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

play and not play in Pocatello

We took the dogs on a trip to visit my dad this weekend.
 These pictures were taken along the way there, next to the Snake River at a place called Massacre Rocks State Park
Indi isn't satisfied with simply hiking, she has to harass Rye while he tries to hike. He sometimes decides to play back and sometimes gets angry at her for her obnoxious behavior. I let it go on for a minute or so, long enough to see if he is going to play or if he is not in the mood.
This was play.

A beautiful place to hike.



These pictures are from a hike with my dad. Pocatello, Idaho is FULL of beautiful foothill trails. Amazingly, it seems like hardly anyone uses them so we had it mostly to ourselves.

And this was not play, at least not from Rye's point of view. Indi running at him full speed, knocking into him. He gets as tough as he can, barking at her and she still doesn't listen. I have to take her collar and tell her to keep walking, then she stops.

Knock it off, black dog! I'm trying to eat snow!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


No matter what her dna is made up of, at heart, Indigo is a retriever.

She gets this fire in her eyes when she's fetching something. It's so much fun to see.
So fun that, even though I dislike the idea of killing stuff very much, I took her to a hunting retriever trainer yesterday for a lesson. He has a very large property with beautiful ponds, fields and wetlands to use. It was a long drive but was worth it.
He asked me to bring something that she liked to fetch so I brought her frisbee.

I threw it out into the field a few times and she did chase and retrieve it.
Then he brought out a plastic bumper and wanted me to throw it. Indi only had eyes for her frisbee. At home we do switch toys here and there, it's not like the frisbee is all she ever plays with! It was cute, my husband brought the frisbee back to the car and Indi followed him all the way there and back. And here I thought she loved me....turns out she only wants me for the things I throw for her.
Once it was out of sight she decided the bumper was her only option for fun.
The trainer asked if she liked water. It was a colder day than we've had so far this fall and I didn't know if she would get in the water but I threw the bumper in to the small pond. She plowed in.
After observing her for a little while the trainer brought out his starter pistol. We walked well away from him out into the field and threw the bumper, he shot. Indi didn't even seem to notice. We kept throwing, and he kept coming a little closer, shooting after each throw. She never flinched. 
I think we'll go back for more lessons but in the mean time I bought a book on positive gun dog training techniques and our very own bumper.
I probably am not going to go buy my own shot gun and Elmer Fudd hat but I wouldn't say no if our friend wanted to take her (and me) hunting one day.

I found this blog that I like very much.
I was surprised to read a technique for teaching a solid hold that involves playing tug with the bumper. Indi approves of that advice. She is getting better and better at delivering the toy right to my hand instead of dropping it. We have used tug to improve that ourselves so it was nice to know that a real retriever dude uses it with a bumper. I really don't know that much about hunting but I have been told by a few old fashioned hunter peeps that tugging with your dog is FORBIDDEN.
This morning we worked on an exercise from that blog. The walking recall. I put Indi on a long line and took her for a walk. I brought small pieces of chicken and her kibble mixed up. I let her go to the end of the line, in front or behind me, she stayed in front. I called her to come every once in a while. The method suggests mostly calling when you're pretty sure she will come but mixing it up by calling when they may not respond right away as well. I did get a few chances to call her with a squirrel as distraction. She actually only hesitated on the first squirrel. If she didn't turn to come right away I gently reeled her back to me. I think she has a very good recall already but I need to remember to keep practicing it and using the long line was a good way to work with distractions which we havn't done much of. The trainer from 2q says that he rewards every recall in practice. I did give her a jackpot of extra treats for the squirrel recalls.

This duck dummy was Amber's favorite, and now Indi loves it too. I don't know why they like it so much, it's hard and heavy and you can't thrash it around like you can a softer toy but she just goes crazy when I get it out.

A Sunday morning update: Indi was very nervous about something this morning. I took the dogs on a walk around the neighborhood before work and she kept looking over her shoulder, had her tail tucked low and then when we got back to the house and got her breakfast ready she wasn't super excited about it right away but kept going to the back door to look outside. I couldn't tell what she was worried about. I didn't hear anything or see anything obvious. Very strange.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working girl

Indigo loves her work! On my mornings off I take her to a neighborhood park with a tug toy and practice. We heel, sit, stay, down, stand, come, pivots, eye contact, all for that toy. The one we're using now is a Chuck-it brand floating bumper toy which is pretty strong but starting to tear in the center. She isn't always 100% accurate but is so fast and so willing to do what I want to get that toy. I love her eagerness. Her down at my side is always on my foot. She tugs like a Schutzhund dog.
Then the days I work she goes with me and I take most of her breakfast kibble with us. When I have breaks in my day I take her out to practice and she is just as awesome and focused. She sometimes gets to play with other dogs who are in boarding. She is learning to come to me briefly for a treat while playing but that is not her strongest feature.
At the school yard down the street, the moment I take off her leash she turns to me for the frisbee. Even if there happens to be another dog on the field.
Our beginning agility lessons are going really well, with that same focus.  We're working on just the basics in class, more eye contact, hand touches, basic clicker training. At home we work on some of the obstacles, she is fast and loves it. She has really good endurance.
All this awesomeness and I took her to my obedience teacher last week for her first lesson and she was horrible! She didn't want her toy or my string cheese. Her nose was on the ground almost the whole time we were there. I was so looking forward to showing off what she had learned! My teacher asked me if I had taken her anywhere else to work besides my back yard.
Then last night we came home from work and the sun was hitting my fall blooming crocuses just right to give them a funny look. WOOF! I wonder if her eyesight isn't 100%?
I have been reading about using just yourself as the interaction and reward and thought I'd try a little bit of that instead of the toy. She bites! She definitely likes it but is still so mouthy, it just doesn't work for me. She also goes looking for a "toy" after a few seconds. A twig works just fine for her if a real toy isn't available.
My husband keeps reminding me that she is still a puppy. I know that but I feel this giant pressure for her to become a perfect adult dog. What if she is never able to compete with me in anything? What if she keeps having these moments of being spooked by random things? What if she develops hip dysplasia?
I paid the $35 last week and she is now my registered AKC "canine partner". 
Here she is, my crazy, almost 10 month old girl. Indigo Jane.
I do love her.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

a weekend away

A weekend spent with family in the mountains was quite nice. A nearby wildfire made for smoky air though. We have been breathing smoke in Boise for a few months now so it was nothing new.
Yesterday morning I took Indi on a hike up the hill across the street. First stop, the overturned boat we had to pass by. She was very cautious of it but when I climbed up on it, she did too and then was fine.

Early morning light showed how smoky the air was.

Indi is a little cautious in the woods. Where Amber was queen of the jungle, perfectly comfortable in the wild, Indi is clingy and worries a little about sounds and does not wander very far. She is getting better and seems to enjoy it more and more the more I take her out so I hope she keeps getting better. When she seems worried about something I can almost always fix it by throwing a stick or a pinecone for her to go get.

She likes the walk back better than the walk in and gets very excited.

I don't want to stress her out but I also want her to enjoy hiking with us! It is part of our life. Do any of my readers have advice for us?
Also, she is much happier to be out hiking when Rye is with us. I had to leave him home the first time due to all the stickers he always gets on this hillside. It is a giant pain for both of us to brush them out once we're home. I have had to cut his tail feathering off a few times because of the burrs. 
Of course anything involving water makes her feel comfortable. This was this morning at "Fish Lake".

After retrieving her stick a few times we hiked around the rocks a little bit.