Monday, May 17, 2010

A Weekend in Review

Wow, this weekend flew by fast! Saturday started out a bit early for a couple of reasons. It was the Oregon Humane Society's Doggie Dash and we were registered to walk with PDX Danes. But first I had to run to Fed Ex Kinko's to pick up the brochure I had made for people expressing an interest in owning a Dane. With Marmaduke coming out soon, all of us who love Danes are a bit on edge as to what this means for rescues, shelters, and the damage to the breed from overpopulation by BYBers and the like. We arrived downtown right around 8am and then had to park. Leo and Vegas and I got all loaded up, hooked up, and were quickly on our way. We walked about two blocks to get to Naito Parkway, crossed the street, and headed straight for the registration tables. Once we were checked in and got our t-shirt we headed over to meet the group. Several were already there and more were showing up. In the end, PDX Danes helped to make a $505 donation to the Oregon Humane Society by their participation. It was really great to see everyone come together for a great cause - helping the animals.

There are several dash "options" available to participants. I was on a bit of a schedule so we did the shorter walk so that I could go meet up with my peeps at Spot Magazine and do some socializing, schmoozing, and networking.
The "kids" did great although I have got to figure out how to make them both walk in the same position consistently. Vegas, of course, is more experienced than Leo but boy that kid goes back and forth and around and around. To his credit, nothing concerned him much except the metal grates and plates that we encountered every once in a while along the river wall. Silly boy would not walk on them and continually had to go around. Other than that, we just spent our walk being vigilant for the poops that inevitably didn't get picked up and chatted with fellow PDX Daners as we went.

From the Dash, the dogs and I headed back toward home. I had to make a stop at the garbage dump to get rid of some things since they were having a cleanup day where disposal was free (Yay!). Once that chore was done, we went home. After a quick bite to eat, Leo stayed home happily munching on a Greenie while Vegas and I went shopping. I was super naughty and went to the Woodburn Outlets to spoil myself a little. I bought a gorgeous new Coach purse for spring and I was super excited to find out they didn't bat an eye at my bringing Vegas in with me. In fact, the store personnel practically fell over themselves to say hello to Vegas and I handed out several PDX Danes business cards. It was really nice at how casual they were and it makes me want to go back all the more. After we were done at Coach, as I had promised Vegas, we headed over to the pet store.

I used to be a diehard believer in the Gentle Leader head collar, but now I'm not so sure. Vegas is the first dog that doesn't mind pulling through it. And mind you, she doesn't pull hard and it's not like she doesn't respond or come back when you tell her. But I want a dog that really minds well and walks on a loose leash close to me. Heal position doesn't have to be perfect (although I would love her to know it and do it in command), but the pulling out in front is not practical for most situations with a 100+ pound dog. At trials, dog shows, and other public places, she could very easily get in the wrong person or dog's face and it could be bad news. So, in my quest for the right way to manage her, we have used the Gentle Leader head collar, martingale collars, a harness, a pinch collar, and what I bought on Saturday was the Easy Walk Harness. I have seen a lot of Dane owners use the Easy Walk harnesses (or variations thereof) where the point is having your leash connected in the center of the chest. I talked with the store employee and she helped me fit it to Vegas. We left the store using it and, I must say, the remainder of our walk around the shopping center was quite pleasant except for the fact that Vegas kept walking into me which was rather strange. Her leash was loose but I felt like I had to keep pushing her to my left so she didn't run me into things or people.

After we left the mall we headed to Wilco Farm Stores. I have a huge yard and if I ventured a guess I imagine it's about 1/4 acre to mow. I only have a push mower and the lawn left much to be desired when I moved in and hasn't improved much. The moles are abundant and that doesn't help either. I made the decision recently to fence off a portion of the yard for the dogs and kill the rest. I can't keep up with it all summer and I end up having to pay for an extra yard debris bin just to handle about 1/4 of the excess grass. The rest gets piled around the yard in hopes that some day I can dispose of it. Quite frankly, it stresses me out and is ridiculous. So, at Wilco we picked up some U-posts for the corners, some fiberglass posts to stabilize every 10 feet or so, and some lovely orange plastic fencing material. They, too, allow dogs in the store which was another reason to make all these stops in one so Vegas could go along and we could have a girls day. Since we were keeping in theme of having fun together, one of Vegas' favorite treats is vanilla ice cream. I started the tradition with trialing last year and had dropped it for a while due to a study I read that indicated dairy and the enzymes might be a trigger for cancer. But, since she gets it so rarely, I'm letting her enjoy her ice cream again. So off to Dairy Queen we went for a cup of vanilla. Being as I wanted to get on toward home, I flipped the console down in the truck. Needless to say, she enjoyed it immensely and I didn't have to tell her twice that the treat was hers.
Once we got home, we all crashed for a little bit. The dogs all sprawled on the floor and me sort of just vegging in the living room. It was a full day and I didn't feel much like doing anything at that point. I will say that at this point I had taken Vegas' new harness off. I was shocked and annoyed to find it had rubbed her hair off in two places - one on each shoulder. Each rubbed spot was about the size of an egg. Very frustrating!

A little while later I decided to walk down the street to the grocery store and rent a movie from Redbox. Of course I took the dogs with. This time I decided to fit the harness upside down as I had seen others do with their Danes before. Surprisingly, with little modification, the harness fit better. The chest strap rode really low when it was on "correctly" but when flipped over, the chest strap was more across her chest instead of the front of her legs. Well, the fit was all fine and dandy - but it didn't work as well! At this point I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'll probably give it a try again tomorrow at my son's baseball game and see if it helps at all. Otherwise its' back to the drawing board with what to do to make walking more manageable.

Today was a lot less eventful. I wasn't feeling well when I woke up so the poor dogs only got a potty break then back to bed. I was really sore in the upper back, neck, and shoulders - more so than usual - so took Advil and didn't get up until noon. At that point I fed the dogs and decided to go out and mow the lawn while I could still expect sunshine. As things have been going lately, I've only been able to mow every other weekend or so and the grass is easily 12" by then. Of course the dogs hung out in the yard with me, following me around, bouncing around playing occasionally (Leo more so than Vegas), and Vegas tried to roll in something stinky at one point - ugg! After mowing I had to get ready quick and go to a meeting then pick up the kids. Shortly after we got home though, she and I went out into the yard to work on weaves and some jumping maneuvers again as I have been trying to do every day or every other day. At this point my focus is just on the repetition, working on sending and recalling her through the weaves, changing sides on her, moving ahead while she's in the weaves as well as working with her, speeding her up, and making it all about fun - which translates to lots of treats, pets, and atta girls. So far so good. She's ready to run every time I ask her to. I had hoped to make it to the practice barn over the weekend just to get a chance to work her. Hopefully Friday night I can in addition to our regular Thursday night session to make sure we can still work together and not have her shut down.

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