Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dragon boat races at Tempe Town Lake

This morning Baloo and I went to downtown Tempe to walk around the lake. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Dragon boat races were going on. We sat for a while to watch and several people came up to pet Baloo. That was good, she is getting more used to people coming up to her and doesn't seem to mind. We met two women from Canada who were going to row in the competition. They told us all about their dogs back home, being attended to by dog sitters. Another woman complimented Baloo on her very calm disposition. She was so impressed that Baloo is so well mannered. She asked if I've thought about getting Baloo involved as a therapy dog. I said I might. I think the kids and adults alike would enjoy petting Baloo's ridge and she's never hyper. She has to get used to a lot of things first, but she seems like a perfect candidate for service work. There's a group called Gabriel's Angels that connect therapy dogs with work. I think Baloo would also like to be a dog that helps kids read. We'll work on getting her prepared to work, maybe by the time she's two she'll be ready for a job.

Curve the Tunnel - No Problem

Baloo loves the tunnel. Last Wednesday at agility class whenever we came close to the tunnel she nearly pulled me with her, she was so eager to run through. It seems that she now thinks tunnels are a lot of fun - or at least she's figured out that running through a tunnel is a pretty easy way to get hot dogs and cheese. Class went well. In this week's class, the tunnels were curved which sometimes throws the dogs off since they can't see all the way through. For Baloo, the curve was no problem. Also we were introduced to the chute. That was a problem for some of the dogs. Baloo was a little tentative, but did go through.

It was my first opportunity to see how Baloo would like her new soft crate - NoztoNoz brand's largest crate, the X48. It is a really nice one that folds down for easy transport. It's not too heavy - a little awkward to carry but manageable. It unfolds quickly and is easy to set up. We need to work a little more on Baloo's fear of the crate, but she did go in and stay for a few minutes while I helped put equipment away. I think Baloo is starting to realize that we go have fun and eat cheese and hotdogs once a week in exchange for climbing over and through things. I can already see that she is gaining confidence. The weave poles and see-saw are still difficult for her, but she no longer refuses to try things.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wow, What a Night!

Tonight was incredible. Wednesdays are agility class nights for Baloo. I left work early at 4:00, came home, and attempted to set up my vcr to tape the Suns basketball game. The Suns played the Dallas Mavericks, and I was seriously conflicted about taking Baloo to class tonight because I hated to miss any of the game. Turns out, I could not get the vcr hooked up correctly, so I called on good friend and sister Aggie to see if she would tape the game in case I missed too much. She said yes, so Baloo and I dropped the video tape by and headed off to class. I had high hopes for tonight's class. To set us up for success, I bought some all beef hotdogs from Target the other night, as well as some cheddar cheese cubes. I had taken the hotdogs to work today and microwaved them at 70% for about 6 minutes. Well, some of them were a bit overcooked, but many were okay. We arrive at Pomeroy Park for class, and we were armed with some really excellent treats. I did not bring Baloo's crate tonight, because we are expecting a brand new soft crate to come UPS tomorrow, and I figured one night I could get away with not crating her (it's a rule that the dogs must be crated before and after class so the humans can help set up the equipment). Before class, Baloo and I ran around the field a bit to loosen up. Then we practiced on some of the equipment that has been giving her trouble. I was hoping for a chance to work on the tunnel before class officially started. My classmates and instructors were trying to help Baloo through the tunnel, but she was quite wary. We probably tried to get her through a little too quick and she bucked about like a bronco. There's a fine line between coaxing and pushing with Baloo. So we eased back and put treats in the tunnel, a few at a time letting her take her time. Then she did it! With Kurt holding her and me on the other side of the tunnel calling and offering treats, she just went for it. Then we had her do it again. It was great. Class started after that, and Baloo had a special spring in her step. She did so well on the obstacles. We made progress on walking the plank, and when it was our turn to return to the tunnel we started on the compressed tunnel first and she ran through several times. Then we decided to go for the long tunnel. I couldn't believe it, she did it. Then we went through the tunnel again and again. We also had a new obstacle tonight, the A-frame. A little hesitation the first trial, and then she loved it. She actually looked like she was having a great time. And all those hotdogs and bits of cheese! What a great breakthrough class we had. When class was over, we grabbed our stuff and ran to the car. There was a Suns game to get to! The game was close by this time. The Suns up by 3. I didn't realize it, but they had been up by 16. As I drove home, the Mavericks were coming on strong and it looked like the momentum was in the Maverick's favor. I was so excited listening to the game on the drive home. When I did get home it was the last minute of the third quarter. But the Suns were really down. But then they had a miraculous fourth quarter. It was amazing! Steve Nash tied the game and they went into overtime! Then a second overtime! SUNS WIN! SUNS WIN! Wow, What a Night!

Baloo's Birthday Party

Last night was Baloo's birthday party at Carver dog park. I think she knew it was a special night, her and sister Jazz received a lot of dog biscuits before we headed to the park. There were so many dogs at the park, and so many of Baloo's friends were waiting for her when we arrived. She was so excited to see Dalton, who she hasn't seen for months. Dalton was one of her first friends and even though he is much much smaller than she, he is only 4 days younger and they play so good together. Baloo met Dalton during one of her first visits to the park, when her aunt Aggie was puppy sitting. There were at least 40 dogs at the park when we arrived, everyone played so nicely together. The weather was absolutely fabulous, one of those perfect spring evenings we Arizonans love. Baloo's friends included: Pumpkin, her mom Aimee, Pepper the dalmation, her dad Ash, the shelties Wendell and his brother, dad Mika, mom Eva and her pack Dalton, Copper, Kendra, and the newest addition who I forget; Fatso and Cookie with their dad Mike; Buddy and Charlie; Kojak the basset puppy who is 3 months to the day younger than Baloo; Bert and his mom Lynn; Yuki and Darby and mom Joe; Maia and her mom; and lots of others. Of course, daddy Andre and auntie Aggie were there as well. Most everyone received a bag of dog treats from Baloo. The dogs were all on their best behavior and Baloo got to stay out extra long. Baloo is lucky to have so many good friends and family.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Baloo turns One on Tuesday, March 13

Well, it's happened. A year has passed. This time last year I was anxiously awaiting Baloo's arrival, in three short days it will be Baloo's birthday. Time has certainly flown by, yet it seems so long ago that she was the tiny puppy sitting on the picnic table in that adorable 7 week pose. We have had so much fun together this first year. She has turned out to be one of the friendliest dogs I've ever met. Her latest thing is to lay down on her back, twisting and wiggling in front of the other dogs at Carver park to entice them to play, or maybe just to point out how lovely it is to lay in the grass in the spring. Playing keep away has always been a favorite, but now she's more driven to get the ball. Lately she seems more determined than ever to go after the ball and get the other dogs to chase her. Her most annoying habit lately is never wanting to leave the dog park. She has started to run away from me when it's time to go.

Our agility class met a couple days ago, on Wednesday. Baloo is still having tunnel and weave pole issues. Luckily, we didn't have to step through a ladder this class. Instead there was a set of about 15 pvc poles laid out and Baloo had no problem stepping through those, she's a natural at careful foot placement. She also didn't do too bad jumping through the ring. The plank walk, which she excelled at last week, was difficult this time because the plank was raised up on blocks. Each week the obstacles will be arranged slightly different than the week before - not only was the plank raised, but also the tunnel was stretched longer. Baloo is so wary of these changes and doesn't adjust very quickly to the new setups. So now I've set up a plank in my back yard. I'm also planning to get a set of weave poles on Wednesday - one of the instructors is making several sets to sell. Also, I'm considering getting an agility tunnel - but that is more of a consideration because it is a bit of an investment. Agility tunnels are pretty pricey. But there's no way to get her used to these things during the short time in class, we need to practice at home. I do see the potential for Baloo to lose her fear of these obstacles and we are going to keep practicing.