Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cadence Turns Two

IMG_0284 It is hard to believe that two years ago today, I got the e-mail I had been excitedly awaiting, announcing the birth of the litter that would include my next little boy.  A few hours later, I received the first photos of the seven newborn pups.  There were three boys.  Male #1 was a cute split-face, Male #3 was a very traditional black and white, but I fell immediately for Male #2.  He had rather traditional markings with a lot of white – a full blaze and wide collar – which I liked.  But I fell for him because of his spots.  He had a little black spot on the top of his head, and a little white spot between his shoulder blades.  I thought he was adorable. 

DSC_0044 The weeks passed, and I was thrilled to receive regular photos and videos of the litter as they grew.  I loved watching them all, but my eye always went to the little spotted guy.  I just knew he was mine.  When the breeder began to assign names to them, she somehow never came up with the right one for him, and so he became “No Name.”  I actually appreciated this fact because I knew his name.  He was Cadence. 

Seven weeks passed and it was finally the day to make the trip to pick up my boy.  I had second pick of the males, and knew that the first person had already selected the split-face, so I got to choose between little No Name and the traditional male.  I pretended that I was going to keep an open mind and choose after observing them both, but I knew that my mind had been made up.  No Name looked very promising to have good structure, with nice front and rear angulation and a crazy long neck.  And, more importantly, I knew where my heart was, after all.

P1000528 I talked my dad into making the drive to Canada with me, and in a few hours I was sitting on the breeder’s kitchen floor, with seven tiny black-and-white balls of fur scrambling happily around me.  Eventually, I was asked what my decision was, although she knew already there wasn’t actually any question.  I would be taking home No Name, now Rival’s Drum Roll, Please, aka Cadence.

Cade DSA In two years, we have already had a blast together.  Cadence has accompanied us on many road trips, including to CPE Nationals in Massachusetts and Florida, where we were competing with our older dogs.  As a ten-week old puppy, he visited Niagara Falls, sat by the ocean in Maine, and enjoyed attention from park staff at Acadia National Park.  Last year, we hiked together at Mammoth Caves and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This spring we enjoyed runs along the river north of Chicago.  He’s come Cade runningto Dog Scout Camp for two years, and has earned his Dog Scout  title and a number of badges.  He has also represented Dog Scouts at various pet expos, where he politely greets the public while we discuss positive dog training and responsible pet ownership.  He is a great traveler, camper, hiker and backpacker.  And since he became old enough to start running last fall, he has run 200 miles with me and is a phenomenal, tireless running buddy who motivates me on many a dark morning when I’d rather stay in bed.  He is always up for anything, and I love to go anywhere with him.

ItsYerChoice I have made it my goal to raise Cadence without using punishment and by shaping, or clicker-training, behaviors.  In the process, I have learned a ton.  Cadence and I have gone to Susan Garrett’s Puppy Camp together, to a “Get Connected” workshop with Brenda Aloff, and two ClickerExpos, where we have learned from some of the best trainers out there.  We’ve been able to challenge each other and learn and grow together, which has been an exciting process.

Is he perfect?  Of course not – what dog is?  He has his quirky moments.  At his worst, I could describe him as a snow cade 2mischievous little monkey with ADHD.  His attraction to motion is beyond even my other Border Collies, and he can tend to be easily distractable and easily frustrated when something is moving that he can’t chase.  He can sulk and pout like a 15-year-old girl when things don’t go his way.  In contrast to Django, who will try over and over again to get something right, if Cade fails too many times in a training session he is quite ready to go find his own entertainment.  

But what has been the result of his quirks?  I’ve become a better trDSC_0079ainer, with better observational skills and much quicker timing.  I have had to become creative in controlling reinforcement, and knowing what will motivate him and keep his focus.  And I’ve had to become much better at “splitting” behaviors when we train, not moving forward too fast, and keeping a high rate of reinforcement while still challenging him to progress.  Many times in an early training session for a new skill, I’ve felt like we weren’t getting anywhere, but then been delighted when the next day, he’s got it down pat – he’s mastered it. 

helper cade We’re working, and I think this year he’ll be ready for prime time, and in the process, I love every minute of it.  I can’t look at him without smiling.  He is the silliest goofball of a Border Collie ever, and incredibly sweet.  He is constantly by my side, and thinks that at least one hand should be petting him at all times.  He fancies himself to be a 33-lb lap dog.  He is incredibly in tune with my moods, and always ready to cuddle if I’ve had a tiring day.  It is impossible to get mad at him.  Life is fun with him, and he makes us laugh constantly.  Cade Lake MI

So, again, is he perfect? 


Yes, of course he is.



Happy birthday, Noodle!


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