Monday, 23 February 2009

Sleets first anniversary of being with us.

It is exactly a year ago today when we went to buy Sleet as a 12 week old puppy. She was one of two bitches left, the other one being quite a little bully who barked a lot at Sleet whilst we were there. Sleet on the otherhand was a nervous little recluse but I took her anyway over the other one. Within a couple of days of being with us, she was a different pup. She was running all over the house, would bring all her toys into the front room one by one, run around like a mad thing, wanted the cats to play with her, playing tug of war with us and using those needle-sharp teeth generously in play and beating up my sisters adult male BC when she brought him round. Getting away from that bullying sister was the best thing that happened to her. She still sits there and looks scared if a dog yaps at her in play though. She never forgets that. Normally, she LOVES to play with other dogs but she still doesn't like them barking AT her. At the same time, she soon learnt ground rules and tricks and our general routine. She only ever chewed her toys, never anything of ours...other than our hands, feet and arms, lol. Not like Wren who wanted to chew everything she shouldn't..and still does sometimes.
Sleet has thrown quite some challenges and has proven to be a very smart dog...learnt to open doors as soon as she could reach the handle. She has quirks I've never had to deal with previously and has taught me a whole lot more than what my previous dogs had taught me and still does. She's definitely a character..and a poser!!
Here is a recent pic taken a couple of days ago. Sleet just knows how beautiful she is and makes sure everyone notices...or else:D
Beating Monty up as a puppy....

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Sleet and Wren news..and a bit of art.

Most of this is old news as I've just gotten around to updating this blog regarding Sleet and Wren. Firstly, after several weeks of not training due to being in season, Wren had her first tournament at Markfield on 31st of January. Considering her lack of practise and the fact that she's hardly done any changeover work period, she ran really well. The team didn't get anywhere because a couple of other dogs that ran with us didn't want to play ball but I had no complaints about how Wren ran. On a team with other reliable dogs, I'm sure she'll do well. At least I know she'll run fine in a noisey hectic atmosphere which is a little different to training. The other good thing about Wren is that she saves her energy for racing. Even next to the ring with other dogs racing, she's as calm and laid back as can be but then is ready to go once we line up ourselves to race. She doesn't even try to turn herself inside out when we line up and waits patiently. Not like Sleet who's constantly barking and pulling to join in and then bucking like a rabied beast when we line up.
Sleets feet are also finally on the mend after being mauled and re-opened numerous times by the little rascal. She still experiences some slight tenderness of the pad on hard ground but is fine on grass and soft ground now. The pad is healed but just needs to harden again.
The pair of them also got to experience some decent snow. I was hoping they'd get to see some but the last few winters here have seen hardly any snow..then this year we have well over a week with snow on the ground and more falling and settling each time the last lot starts to melt away. It has finally gone now and we have the crappy sludge back instead. Boohoo!! I enjoyed coming home from walks clean for a change. My poor camera was smokin by the time I'd done with it over those first few days of snow. I took hundreds of photos of the dogs in it.
This week has been my week off work. Back to the gulag tomorrow.:( I've taken the extra time do to more training with the dogs. They've both had a couple of skateboarding lessons. Sleet is pushing it about really well now but then she responds better to a bit of assistance whereas Wren doesn't and needs to be left for more free shaping to figure out what i want her to do. She's learning that she needs to push the skateboard forward with her front feet and sometimes puts one of her back feet on it too which is even better or she just stands on it with all four feet but only when it is still. They both love playing with it though.
I've also been working on heel work. Mainly for focusing more than anything else. I'll not be doing obedience in a serious way. I started off with both just walking about and changing direction and rewarding eye contact and following me in general then I started to reward better positioning until they were right up against my leg and looking at me. Sleet has been coming along really well and has developed good positioning and left turns when on right side. Today, I also had her backing up in a circle turning left when she was on the left. She found this dead easy being as she circles round my legs backwards anyway. Within a minute or so, she figured that she needed to wait for me to turn around with her this time and did a very good tight little circle with me. I also, just for fun, had her standing facing me with nose touching my legs and turning in a circle with her needing to stay in that position so she has to move sideways. Again, she seemed to pick this up very easily. She was slightly destracted a few times because there were a couple of motorbikes zooming around just down the hill and she could hear them but she seems to be developing quite a liking for our little heelwork sessions...especially as she comes to try and heel when I'm working with Wren also. I sometimes let one heel on one side and the other on the other side and reward them both.
Wren hasn't been doing heelwork quite as long as Sleet and was a bit put out at the thought of being really close to my legs at first but she's now definitely getting the hang of it. I am still just working on walking straight forward and some gentle turns away from the side she's on at the moment.
Tricks wise, they've both learnt to scratch the floor on command, Wren has learnt backward figure of 8 and just needs a little more practise alternating the legs, Sleet worked a lot on upright work whilst her paws were bad as she didn't need her front paws to do that. Wren has also started taking a few steps forward with hind legs up. They've also both learnt to lift a front leg and a rear leg on the same side at the same time but this takes a lot of balance practise and is ongoing.
We had some flyball training yesterday and both dogs really enjoyed themselves and seem to get faster each time they go. Sleet has a nice little turn on the box but Wrens boxwork is clumsy. She's not quite sure what to do with her back legs yet and needs some work on that. Otherwise, she's doing great.

On the art front, I had Emerald Gaze, my tabby cat painting, accepted into an exhibition in Hull. I'm yet to see how that gets on. I'm also working on a commission right now. It needs completing by the end of this month so I need to get a move on. The subject is a recently retired flyball dog but it is a secret for the owner so I daren't say more than that. I'll have to wait until the painting has been presented before I post it anywhere that such a person might just look.

Below are some photos of Sleet and Wren enjoying the snow.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Knightshade - completed..

I finally completed Knightshade last night. Here it is. Tricky to photograph because all that black wants to reflect the light. Here is a closer up photo of the horse.
My next project is a commission of a recently retired flyball dog.