Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Puppy Love

Week One with new pup, Cadence, could not have been any better, and we are completely in love with the little guy. He has been such a good puppy. He sleeps through the night already – in fact on Memorial Day I awoke after having slept in an extra hour to hear him awake in his crate but contentedly gnawing on his chew toy until we woke to take him out. He doesn’t fuss at all when crated, and is happy and wagging his tail all the time. He loves to play, and will tear after us, tug on toys, and even retrieves a tennis ball already, but is also happy to be sweet and lovey and just hang out with us. He is a very cool little man.

For the first several days, we mostly focused on name recognition, getting acclimated to the new home and surroundings, accepting handling and a collar, and playing with us and learning that we are lots of fun. We made sure he met someone new every day, and had plenty of friends and neighbors stop by to pet him. By Friday, we decided to take him out in the world, and took him for a healthy puppy check-up with our regular vet. He was a real trooper, and enjoyed a visit to the neighboring pet supply store afterwards. Met lots of people there, and was very happy and friendly with everyone. His only annoyance was with his collar and leash, but he is gradually accepting that as a fact of life.

Saturday we went downtown to another pet supply store, where he met several people, including quite a few children. The children were all polite and asked to hold him, so we sat down on the floor and passed him around. It was a great experience for him to learn about kids, and he handled it all perfectly.

Sunday we walked/carried him down to the nearby canoe livery and park. By this trip, I think he was really starting to learn that excursions into the world can be fun adventures, because he was downright full of himself. We hung out at the park for a while meeting strangers, watching canoes go out, and watching geese on the river. He had his tail up and his happy grin on his face the whole time.

Over the weekend, we introduced him to the clicker, and started training “sit” and a target nose-touch to my hand. He has picked up both concepts in just a couple sessions, and is already looking to me ready to work and learn when we go out.

His first interactions with the other four dogs have gone well. He spent much of the first week in an ex-pen in the living room when the others were loose in the house, and everyone would get treated and praised whenever they were near the ex-pen. All are starting to associate good things with being in close proximity to each other. He has had supervised one-on-one sessions with the adult dogs for the last couple days, and all go smoothly. He seems to have very good social skills and body language for a pup, and Tristan especially will play quite gently and nicely with him. The others are less impressed with him as a playmate yet – still a little small to be much fun – but are tolerating him politely.

This week we will continue the socialization experiences, “sits”, and target work, and add in “down” and working on his recall. We’re also working on basic crate manners – not barging out the door when it is opened and going in voluntarily – but he is already quite good about both those things.

All in all we couldn’t have asked for a better first week with a pup, and are looking forward to all the fun to come.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


OK, so he isn’t actually red, but our newest family member is still pretty darn cute, and a great little guy.

This weekend, my dad and I made a road trip into Ontario to pick up a new addition – a 7-week old male Border Collie from Rival Kennels. With credit to our friend Jill for coming up with the registered name, we are calling him Rival’s Drum Roll, Please - “Cadence.” I have been thinking of the name Cadence for a few years, as I wanted something that conveyed balance and rhythm. Plus, it is also a cycling term, and as bicycles are my other great love, it seemed right. I think it fits this little guy very well.

Since I recently made the decision to retire Jade and since Django is at the peak of his career, I figured this summer would be a good time to add on my next performance dog. I thought a lot about what I wanted in my next dog, decided I really wanted another male Border Collie, and decided to look into a breeder that has produced some of my absolute favorite dogs that I’ve seen around here. I discovered there were puppies available from a Spur/Beren breeding, and as I learned more about those dogs and their lines, I grew very excited that this could be the pup I was looking for.

I’ve always felt that all our pets were sort of fated to be ours. I remember seeing Maebe’s litter when they were two days old, and being immediately drawn to her. Likewise, when I first saw photos of this litter, I felt drawn to “Male #2.” He had a very large white collar, a somewhat asymmetrical blaze, a cute little black spot on the top of his head, and a little tuft of white fur in the middle of his black back. Maybe it helped that he was distinctive and easy to pick out in the photos and videos, but as I watched him week by week, I kept noticing him and feeling drawn to him.

As it grew closer to selection time, I learned more about his personality and looked at photos of his structure. He was built very nicely – good shoulders, lots of rear angulation, and a nice topline. The breeder said he had a great stride length and will cover ground fast. She told me he was a cool pup, very eager to please, and had lots of drive, yet very sensitive and sweet. He sounded like a great fit for what I was looking for, but I vowed to keep an open mind when I went up to actually meet the boys.

The big day came, and I had great fun meeting the whole litter. They were all happy, friendly, wild little pups, and I sat on the breeder’s kitchen floor getting mobbed by puppy kisses. As expected, we left a couple hours later with “male #2,” and his littermate, Spy, who we were taking to Ann Arbor to be picked up a couple days later by his new owner from Indiana.

The boys did great on the car ride. We stopped at my dad’s for another hour so they could play a bit before the last leg of the trip. It was there, away from the frenzy of the litter, that I really got to see Cadence’s personality come shining through, and I fell madly in love with him instantly. He would chase me all over the yard, dive at my feet, play tug with any toy I picked up, and confidently marched around checking out his new surroundings. We had another quiet car ride back to Ann Arbor, and by the time we got home all of us were ready to drop.

We spent Sunday and Monday just playing with the two boys, and couldn’t get over what cool dogs they are. Monday afternoon, little Spy was picked up by his new mom, and while Lowell, Cadence, and I were all very sad to see him go, we have now been enjoying bonding and playing with little Cade all on his own. He is an absolute blast – always ready to play – and the sweetest little thing you could hope for.

I am so excited about my new little companion. I have been immersing myself in videos, literature, training seminars, etc. while making plans for his socialization, training, and care. I think I have been keeping Clean Run in business for the last several weeks with all the DVD purchases, and am planning on being rather strategic in how I raise and train this pup. I am determined not to give in to the desire to rush into performance training right away. I have lots of time for that, so for now we are going to focus on foundations and obedience, and developing into a healthy, happy little guy.

So, this blog will probably follow a lot of our journey together over the coming months, and will help me track my goals and our progress, as well as just being a nice journal of our time spent with him and with all our “fur family.” We are looking forward to both the challenges and all the fun ahead.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mud Dog

We spent last weekend camping and competing with the dogs at the Dutton, MI CPE trial. Django and Maebe were entered both days. We chose to enter this trial as it was offering many of the classes that Django still needs for his C-ATCH, and we are happy to report that he made great progress toward that title.

The weekend did not seem promising at first. We had planned to bring the camper and stay a few miles from the trial site, but our camping plans fell through on Thursday. Friday morning I was looking frantically for another campground in the area that was open this early in the season, when I learned that the trial chair was looking for someone to stay on-site at the park to keep an eye on the agility equipment. We jumped at the opportunity – free camping and couldn’t get a more convenient site after all. So, Friday afternoon we quickly loaded up the trailer and headed for Dutton.

Saturday started out great. Django qualified and got first place in his first Jackpot run, and just barely missed qualifying in his second Jackpot run. Pesky A-Frame contact zones. It is pretty rare for him to blow a contact, but occasionally it happens. He kept up the good performances though, and qualified in Standard and Wildcard, even though his Wildcard run was done in the pouring rain.

The real story of the weekend turned out to be rain. It rained, and rained, and rained from mid-day Saturday all through the night and morning Sunday. We stayed cozy and dry playing Scrabble in the trailer all evening, but awoke Sunday to find an agility field covered in standing water and MUD!

Things got to a slow start due to the course conditions, but Django ran a perfect day on Sunday, getting a Full House leg and two Standard legs. He is now only four legs away from his C-ATCH! I was extremely proud of my big guy. He slowed down a bit in the mud on Sunday, and it took a little persuading to convince him that he could go into the tunnels even though there were pools of water forming in them, but he was a trooper. Plenty of seasoned dogs were having none of it in those conditions, but Django surprised me with his focus. It is also a relief to run a dog that has the sense to slow down a bit in poor conditions. I would have worried about running a dog like Maebe on the contacts in that much rain and mud, but Django clearly was watching his footing and being careful which I appreciated. Don’t know how you train for that though – certainly he is probably the only one of our pack to have that much common sense and regard for his own body.

The weekend easily could have been a disaster. We lucked out with the camping situation, and having the trailer there made the trial much more tolerable in the awful weather. We headed home Sunday very proud of our dogs and happy that we could have so much fun together even when things weren’t perfect.