Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is that a...?? No.

So lately I've had the pleasure of trying to introduce the Swedish Vallhund to the non-AKC world. It's amazing the different types of dogs, or mixes, they think Mesa is. "Is that a German Shepherd puppy?" No. "Is that a Corgi?" No. "Is that her (as in Dally's) puppy?" No. "Is she a mutt?" Definitely NO.

It's especially hard when taking her to the veterinarian for her puppy shots. Apparently their office management system hasn't read the latest AKC Gazette to know that there is such a breed as the Swedish Vallhund. When I made her original appointment, they admitted that there was no selection for a "Swedish Vallhund" in their they put her as a mutt. Now no offense to mix-breeds, but she'd be a rather expensive mutt. Today, for her second visit/last set of shots, it was discovered that she was inputted as a Corgi. Thankfully, the receptionist knew enough to know she wasn't a Corgi (anyone with any sense will see there is hardly any resemblance between her and Dally), but instead left her breed designation blank, rather than put "mutt." My sanity thanks you...

Another frustration is trying to learn more about the breed. When I got Dally, my family was able to buy me two really great books on the Pembroke Welsh Corgi which opened my eyes to the stubborn, too-intelligent darlings before I experienced her with all her "Corgi quirks" in person. These books are easy to find at your local PetsMart, Borders, etc. However, try looking up a book on Swedish Vallhunds, and you'll find the selection is nill. According to Mesa's breeder, there are such books...they just happen to be printed and sold in England and cost around $100 each. Yeah...umm, the last time I purchased a book for more than $20 was when I was college and those were required.

So I guess I'll keep browsing the different Vallhund sites (which aren't many) and hopefully I'll get to start talking to other Vallhund owners to learn more about this different breed. Like this blog is's all a learning experience...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Educational agility blog

So, thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter (yes, I tweet--@MLArszman), I found an educational agility training blog that has recently started posting chapters from a clicker training book! I invite everyone to check out the Agility Nerd for some interesting exercises and notes on training for agility at any level. (

I've already downloaded the first chapter to Click and Play Agility: Clicker Training for Successful Dog Agility, by Angelica Steinker and saved it in Word. I'm going to wait for the next chapter to come out so I can read through both chapters at once to get a good idea and a good start on Mesa's clicker training. If anyone has read this entire book, please share with me any thoughts. I've been slowly looking for a book, but I don't want to purchase one online unless I can flip through it and see if I might like to read it. (I'm picky, what can I say?)

On another note, the other night when I was working the clicker with Mesa (we do it every other night, when I remember), Dally actually stayed just on the other side of the coffee table from us. I was happy to see her out and not quivering in the corner, so every few clicks I'd throw a treat out to her and praise her for being so brave.

Mesa's getting bigger! I had to loosen up her collar the other night. I'll try to post a new picture later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a little advertisement

I just wanted to through in a little advertisement for my mom's Etsy store, AllWooledUp. She makes recycled, re-purposed purses/totes from Wool sweaters (some top-of-the-line sweaters like Abercrombie, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.) and uses felt to create designs. Everything is done by hand, from the cutting, design, lining, re-purposing purse handles, etc. She can even do custom work (she's made pillows featuring Dally's head, my cat's head, a friend's Cardigan Corgi, and a purse with a friend's Chihuahua) if you send photos.

She also has been making necklaces in various sizes and colors featuring glass, natural stone, and wood beads.

Anyway, please take a moment to check out her store:

She'll also be opening up another Etsy store featuring re-purposed/recycled dog toys. She'll custom finish a toy specifically for your dog. Does you dog like teddy bears that squeak? She can insert as many squeakies into a stuff teddy bear as you'd like. Does he like the crunch of a water bottle? Those can be inserted as well. It'll be called "Smokey Joe's Toy Box" (after her Swedish Vallhund) and I'll keep y'all updated with it's debut.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Riding shotgun...

The other day, Mesa took a step towards being a big girl by taking her first ride in the truck riding shotgun, and not in her pink crate (which was provided by her breeder as a stopgap until I can find a bigger wire crate like Dally's). On my lunch break, I loaded up Dally and Mesa into the truck and headed off to Mesa's first veterinarian appointment.

We're still a little shaky while riding shotgun (I put the consul up in the truck so the girls can share the bench seat with me), but after a while she relaxes and starts to enjoy herself. I'd like to think that Dally's whispering to her, "It's OK, kid, just enjoy the ride, it's fun! And when you get big enough, maybe she'll let you hang your head out the window like me," as she's standing up looking out the window.

Mesa's gained a pound, now weighing in at 8.5 pounds. I've continued with the clicker-loading with treats, meanwhile teaching her to "spin" (which I use to warm Dally up before our runs) and sit. She's so excited to get the treats, I don't think she really understands what she's doing, just that when I say something and she does it, she hears the click and gets a treat (at this time, a kernel of cat food). If that's what clicker training is all about, then...well...I guess I'm doing it right. I still need to do some research into finding the right book to read on this topic.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's been a week...

It's been a week...a busy week...which explains why it's been a week since I last posted.

LaMesa is now 12 weeks old and will go for her 12-week shots tomorrow at Gainesway Animal Hospital. In the past week Dally has accepted the puppy into the fold. We finally had playtime with eachother this past Friday. I was excited to see Dally warm up to Mesa and play with her like she would a co-hort. They even played tag while doing the Dally-patented "Rumple Run" through my small apartment. Seeing the two of them play together warmed me to the fact this could definitely work.

On Sunday, Matt, Dally, Mesa, and I loaded up into my truck and headed South to hit the last day of the Nashville Dog Training Club's agility trial in Franklin, Tenn. We had to miss Saturday due to the ice/snow storm that hit Tennessee, but by 4 am Sunday, the roads were fine for me to drive the 3.5 hours down. Well...that is until we hit Nashville, and the roads were horrible. Either way, we got there and Dally had two great runs! She ran fast in her Standard, but we got two refusals due to her slowing down before a jump because she had to poop. (She wouldn't poop on the ice outside.) I somehow talked her out of relieving herself on the course and we finished more than two seconds under standard course time, even with the two slowdowns! I was thrilled!! Jumpers saw a slow start, but a sprint to the finish of a great run! We stopped the clock just a second over standard course time. No Qs this day, but I was so happy with how she ran without any training/trials since the first weekend of November.

It was also Mesa's first agility trial. Matt was put in charge of her, which meant taking her for walks, letting her be played with and loved on by others, etc. She was a rock star. In that one day, we had her leash-trained and trained to go up and do stairs. Strangers and strange dogs alike played with her, and she was fearless. A lot of people were impressed by her attitude and the way she is put together, which made me feel good. I was even told she could be something special on the agility field for me. If only our debut wasn't more than year away.

For now, we are going to start working on sits, downs, and stays. I'm also trying to work on the clicker with Mesa. Dally had a bad experience with a clicker this fall when I accidentally flicked her nose while treating and clickering her. She was so scarred by that, that she cowers every time she hears the clicker--even a quiet one. I thought maybe watching the puppy get treated and clickered would make her be jealous enough to want to be treated too. Nope, not so much. If anyone has any tips on what I can do with Dally, please share!

I'm also going to try to do things differently with the puppy by teaching tricks and doing the clicker. However, I need to read up on this stuff, so if anyone has any recommendations, I'd greatly appreciate it.