I <3 My Purebred Dog (and my shelter dog)

I keep tabs on the local classifieds sites, mainly seeing if there are Belgians being advertised and in need of rescue. Unfortunately, I can’t help but notice the various scams connected with “rescue” dogs.

Like the ad which said “Rescue puppies for adoption” and proceeded to explain that the parents of the pups were on-site for viewing, had been rescued themselves (from what?), and were going to be fixed after “this one litter”. I call bullshit… that’s not rescue. That’s using a fad to sell your overpriced mutts.

I have a purebred dog. I love purebreds. I love the predictability inherent in purebreds. I love breeders of purebred dogs, especially the breeder Castle is from. There is nothing wrong with purebred dogs or the breeding of them, except according to radical animal rights groups whose stated goals include the eradication of all pets.

I have had mutts in the past. I loved those mutts. There is nothing wrong with mutts–and to be honest, there is nothing wrong with breeding mutts, if the breeder is educated, responsible, and puts the time and money into planning and raising the pups well. There’s nothing wrong with getting a mutt from a shelter, or a private rescue, either. Those dogs need homes just as much as any.

What’s wrong is intentionally breeding a litter, and then labeling them “rescues” just to tug on peoples’ heartstrings. They aren’t rescues. They were intentionally brought into the world; hopefully the reasoning is something other than “well, Fluffy and Mr. Studly are such nice dogs and we could use some cash”.

There is nothing wrong with breeding when the intentions are good: the necessary checks are done, the breeder has clear goals for the outcome of the breeding, and will provide a lifetime of support to puppy buyers. If you bring a life into this world, you are responsible.

Play. And….shameless advertising.

I’m taking this course with Castle. I have long known that I need to move towards using more non-food play and less treats when training. Looking ahead to next year, and thinking about competing in agility with Castle made this jump to the forefront of all the various things I want/need to work on. Then Denise Fenzi announced that she was running a course all about how to play with your dog in a fun, rewarding manner for both of you. I nabbed a working spot… we just completed our Week 1 homework and I’m looking forward to Denise’s feedback on our videos (gulp!).

Denise Fenzi

On and off I’ve talked about play on this blog.  Maybe more on than off.

I happen to find the topic completely fascinating – You and your dog; interacting in a manner that is interactive, rewarding and joyful.  Maybe using toys or food but often with nothing at all.   How can a dog person not be fascinated?

Indeed, so fascinating that Deb Jones and I ended up writing a book about it, titled “Dog Sport Skills:  Building Relationship Through Play”.

That’s the good news; a book is in the pipeline.  The bad news is that it isn’t likely to be ready for awhile, as it is the second book in the series.  While written, we’d like to publish the first book….first.  Hopefully you’re waiting on pins and needles.

So…what’s a person to do while waiting?

Well, step in Tracy Skenlar from Agility University, who has asked me to teach…

View original post 310 more words

Puppy Reflections

So Castle, my Belgian Shepherd, is now 7.5 months old and is on the verge of being an adolescent. He is my first positive-reinforcement-trained (+R) dog and I just wanted to share a few things that have really stood out compared to my past dogs.

First of all, he is both more active and more calm. By nature, I think he’s a higher-energy dog than my first Belgian, Stormy, who was a couch potato by Belgian Shepherd standards. However, Castle is calmer in that he isn’t frenetic in his activity (in general–he still gets the zoomies). I largely attribute this to having taught him what TO DO, instead of constantly scolding him for getting into things he oughtn’t. I was obsessive about supervising him up until about 4 weeks ago, and if I couldn’t keep my eyes on him, he was confined to a space where there was no wrong choice of activity. This is now paying off in spades as he now has the run of the house in the evenings before and after dinner, and I’m confident that he will behave himself while I work on the computer or do the dishes.

I think the key was not only was I supervising him constantly, I praised and treated him every time he picked up one of his toys for the first three months we had him. In the evenings, we made the toys more interesting by playing with them and him. Even now, I will praise (and occasionally treat him) him numerous times every evening for playing with his toys. There is a solid reinforcement history for playing with the items I’ve given him and it really really shows.

The second huge difference I’ve noticed between Castle and past dogs (Stormy especially) is how little conflict there is in the relationship. When I was training Stormy, the dominance myth was in full effect, and everything was a struggle. “You must make your dog obey, because if he doesn’t, he’s challenging you for DOMINANCE!!1!” was the theme.There was a lot of anger and “do it or else” thinking that went into training. Also, a lot of drilling. In the end, I had a trained dog (to the best of my abilities) but it wasn’t particularly fun. She participated because she had to.

Training sessions with Castle are a game. They’re fun and sometimes kind of silly. I start out with a goal, but refine it or change it depending on how he’s feeling and whether he’s “getting it”. Or sometimes, if things really aren’t going well, I’ll just toss a bunch of treats on the floor and call it a day. When I get out the clicker and treats, Castle’s eyes light up and his ears look like they’re glued together on the top of his head. He prances about and races me to the training room. He WANTS to participate. He shows up, ready to play. It’s my job to make the tasks achievable for him. And the look on his face when he understands what I’m clicking him for… it is amazing and addictive, for both of us. Often, I find the two of us are in a state of flow, with the training having taken on a rhythm.

I can’t wait until our next training session.

Reflections on a 30 Day Primal Challenge

Well, our 30-day primal challenge is nearly over, and I’d like to put down a few thoughts about my experiences and where I’m going from here.

First, a little background: I have been on-and-off Paleo/Primal since October 2009. I fell off the wagon (so to speak) for the first few months of 2010 and have really struggled getting back on track. This Challenge was my way of giving myself a boot in the rear to shape up. I managed to convince two other people to commit to this with me, my boyfriend and a good friend. Unfortunately, my friend’s schedule included so much traveling in foreign countries over the 30 days that it proved impossible for her to keep it up. There is an adjustment period for sure, and I totally understand that, as I don’t really consider myself adjusted ;)

My boyfriend, MC, has done an amazing job with this challenge. I was absolutely incredulous when he committed to doing this with me, as his view on food has always been, “if I want to eat it, I will”. But he put in a fantastic effort, taking it seriously and forgoing free pizza and beer several times while helping friends with a house reno! It made it easier and way more fun to have him on board.

So, to sum up my experiences:

  • It *is* difficult. Eating Primal/Paleo requires planning. I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle on thinking ahead to the next meal, defrosting meat, shopping ahead of time, etc. It’s definitely a learned skill.
  • I initially started out trying to avoid grains, soy, all dairy except for cream in coffee and a little cheese, legumes, and refined sugar. We ended up including a fair amount of dairy, mostly butter, cream and cheese because all our go-to recipes have dairy in them! For the last two weeks, I went hard-line on the “no grains/soy/sugar” and just let go of any aspirations of avoiding dairy.
  • I didn’t do measurements or weigh myself before so I have no comparison point. That was a mistake. I need data… and MC would probably appreciate it even more.
  • It is so important to have the people around you on board with changing your diet. You get a team backing you up. You can cheer each other on, or provide a well-timed push in the right direction when there are temptations.

So what now? I don’t know if MC is going to incorporate any of this into his life going forward. That’s his choice. My choice: hardline on no sugar, grains or soy. I’ll stay away from the legumes for the most part, because they’re not very nutritious by weight, although I will still eat fresh green beans when I can ;)

Looking ahead to the next 30 days, I’d like to try going dairy free. There are confounding factors. These will need to be discussed, strategized about, and solutions put in place. But I love n=1 experimentation, and this is the next one.

Google I/O 2010: Thoughts and Comments

This is really rough, pretty much a brain dump of thoughts bouncing around in my head after I got home. Apologies… please comment if you want me to expand on anything!

Equality and Whatnot
-more women in the audience than expected but so few female presenters
-demographics info?
-curious about developer gender breakdown w/in Google?

Social Web:
-“Social” problem is not solved
-more room for innovation
-niche markets are where it’s at: FB/etc. are a one-size-fits-all that really doesn’t work for anybody
-privacy is a BIG ISSUE
-how much to share?
-how much to share automatically?
-goal is interoperability, path is open standards
-niche sites satisfy ppl’s need for keeping multiple personas separate
-ppl most comfortable sharing “professional” persona, i.e. LinkedIn

Android
-OMG phones!
-Nexus One: very slick. Like it. Interface fairly intuitive, mostly homogeneous. Works in Canada with Fido… except for 3g (EDGE only on their network)
-HTC EVO 4g: OMG <3. Big == good. Gorgeous screen. Feels very responsive. I can has unlock?
-Exciting time to be developing for Android
-platform gaining momentum
-App store changes will make it more accessible; nice to sit @ computer and browse apps on a big screen
-Flash on Android: open platform supporting proprietary product, unlike Apple, a closed platform refusing to support closed product
-"inclusivity"/"openness": we will see.

Chrome/GWT/Google Apps
-lots of neat demos
-GWT is pronounced "gwit", btw
-need to play with these tools and see what I can make

HTML5
-it is the way and the future
-Amazing demos
-major browsers should support 5 by end of 2010
-looks like it will replace some instances of flagrant and unnecessary Flash (yay)

Other
-two days didn’t seem like enough… but it was exhausting
-definitely worth it; will consider going next year for sure
-best part: listening to Vic Gundotra slag Apple for being closed
-best demo: Sports Illustrated’s new online interface. Wow, talk about geared to users’ activities.
-annoyance: keynotes were WAY TOO LONG and threw off session schedules
-what I can apply to my work at the ETCL: better knowledge of web standards, ideas for how user interfaces can be tailored to the specific needs of their users; contacts in Google who are interested in what we do… and excitement over what we can do with all these cool new toys :)

Hello world!

Yes, I am starting this blog with a computer joke. But this is not a “computer” blog! There will likely be a smattering of stuff about computers and computer programming, as well as dogs, nutrition, and CrossFit.

I haven’t written a blog in years, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge. I don’t really know what audience will be interested in this particular mix of topics. Hopefully there are a few people out there besides me who love dogs, computers, CrossFit and nutrition!