Ack! My brain is jumping around. This is going to be a short-attention span blog post!
A Great Chance to Learn From the Experts
I finished writing a long article for the December issue (all about canned dog food! Exciting! lol) and shipped the December issue to the printer just yesterday. And this morning, I have to write something for this space before I can leave for a very exciting “vacation”: a four-day workshop with two animal behavior/training experts, Dr. Susan Friedman and Kay Laurence.
I’ve attended umpteen dog behavior and training conferences in the past. Have never signed up for a “working” spot, where I bring a dog and stand up in front of everyone with my dog and try to do the things the instructor asks. Until now! I’m bringing goofus doofus Woody to the workshop! Also, I’m going with my good friend and frequent WDJ model, trainer Sarah Richardson, who is bringing her quirky mini Aussie, Minnie. I’m impossibly excited. Although, there is a 10-hour drive to do between writing this and our hotel tonight. And I haven’t started to pack my clothes and things yet. (Woody’s soft-sided crate, long-line, harness, food, treats, balls, bowls, leashes, etc. are all packed and ready by the door, waiting for Sarah and her van to get here).
I’m not even sure what the focus of this workshop is. Sarah and I signed up for this in March, when it was first announced. The idea of four days of getting to learn from Dr. Friedman, whose articles I’ve read and who I’ve seen interviewed many times on the topic of animal intelligence and learning theory, was irresistible. But this whole summer has been so busy, has gone by so fast, I’ve hardly had time to think about it. And now it’s here! I promise to take pictures and post. Likely on the WDJ Instagram page from over the weekend, and then in this space again next week!
Getting Ready for the Trip
I took a long off-leash walk with my two dogs and a friend and her dog last night; I wanted my senior dog, Otto, to have a nice walk with me before I left for five days, especially after having to cool his heels with NO walks for the past week while I was on deadline. A week without walks is not as bad as it sounds; this summer, we built an office (the county building department calls it an accessory building, which makes me want to fill it with accessories of various kinds) on our property, so I can work at home now, no more driving to town to work. We have two fenced acres for the dogs to roam, and now they can do so all day; until it gets cold, my office door is now open all day for the dogs to wander in and out. But that’s not the same as a walk!
At a still healthy but slowing 12 years old, Otto is so lovely on walks. Watch him if you want to spot wildlife; he sees everything – birds, deer, a distant fox or coyote – and will freeze, and then glance my way as if to say, “Do you see that?” He leads every recall back to my side, and serves as a wonderful sort of retired general, keeping order in the doofus-dog ranks. (My walking friend’s dog is only one year old, and deep in the derp phase of his adolescence. Otto goes after him for crimes of basic rudeness in a retired-general way at least once on every walk, and we praise the sputtering old guy every time. “Thank you, Otto. He is rude, you’re right!”)
We had a lovely walk, though we mismanaged the time a bit (stupid daylight savings!) and did the last half a mile or so in the pitch dark. And Otto is a little stiff and sore this morning, so I regret that. Time to schedule another senior vet visit, and maybe talk about some anti-inflammatories for post-hike days. Goodness knows, I need some Advil after certain workouts.
Hey! Last thing: Another thing I’m impossibly excited about, and can’t wait to investigate: I saw a post last night about the dog whose owner trained her dog to use those talking “buttons” to presumably communicate her wishes and thoughts. WDJ’s training editor, Pat Miller, has an article in the December issue that mentions training dogs to use these buttons, and gives a source for buying them. But I’m certain that Pat hadn’t yet seen anything about the woman whose dog seems to have learned ways of making sentences out of the words the buttons say. I am betting that Dr. Friedman will have things to say about this. I just can’t wait to find out!
Have a good week. Take a walk with your dogs! Leave earlier than you think you should! I have to go pack!