Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sydney's Rules for Play

I will admit, I really have absolutely no idea why Sydney and Darby are so compatible. Not because of Darby, but because of my little "angel" Sydney. Syd desperately wants someone to play with her, but she plays SO rough, the other dogs just cringe and run away after a body slam or two. And Syd is *very* persnickety about play. "OK, now you will run to the left corner, then I'll chase you and knock you over, and then you get up and chase me back to the other side of the yard, and then you spin around and I'll tackle you." She organizes and runs the show when it comes to play time. And oh, if you DARE to not follow Syd's rules of play, well, then there is heck to pay.

One of the KEY rules to Sydney play is "You will not flip the Sydney on her back." If anyone dares to play and Syd flips over for some reason, she will get up as her evil twin and grab whoever it is by the face and tell them they'd better not do that EVER again.

In nutshell, Syd has some play issues.

1. She plays WAY too rough for the other dogs in the house.
2. She must make all the rules, and those who don't follow will catch heck.
3. She isn't really much on other girls. Period.
4. No flipping Syd on her back, EVER.
5. No flipping Syd on her back, EVER.
6. No flipping Syd on her back, EVER.

So, when Darby came along, I was very watchful and never let Syd and Darby into direct contact for quite a while. Darby is so amicable I was afraid she would walk into a Sydney Play Trap and get herself chewed up and spit out. So we did gradual introduction, through the fence of the dog yard, then with Darby on leash with me and Syd running around, then both loose and me with the rake (I felt like I was at a herding lesson), and then finally I let them play for a few minutes at a time, then put someone in the dog yard so that every session ended on a good note. I wasn't sure how Syd would be because Darby is a girl, but I was hoping that maybe being a puppy would work in Darby's favor.

Nowadays, I can put Syd and Darby outside together for hours, and there are no problems. Syd is so happy, and Darby is smart enough to handle Syd. When Syd gets really wound up, Darby will still engage in play, but she uses the A-frame, or under the deck to put some space between them for just a split second, then she pounces out and tackles Syd. Yes, you heard it right, Darby can tackle Syd. The first time I saw Syd flip over on her back while playing with Darby, I sucked in a breath and prepared to go save Darby from a real discipline session. But when Darby let Syd get up (yes, you read that right), Syd just did a play bow and took off running for another chase. I'm sure my heart stopped beating for a moment.

I even have it on video, because those who know Syd best would never, ever believe that she and Darby are the unlikely best friends, and this clip even catches (gasp) Syd, flipped on her back! I wouldn't believe it either, if I didn't see it myself every day!

Friday, August 21, 2009

This Is How I Roll

and slop, and run, and splash.

Ugh. THIS dog really doesn't even remotely resemble my pretty girl in the photo to the right on the blog, or the Redemption photo from a couple of weeks ago. Syd is never happier than when she's sloshing around getting dirty. And for some reason, with the torrential rain we've had over the last week, the mud has a different consistency, more like paint than mud, and it seems to be sticky, too. But how can I get mad at that happy face?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stupid Human

Some days it doesn't take any imagination to know exactly what my dogs are telling me. This morning was one of those days!

Because Sydney needs lots of structure and lots of activities to work on impulse control, one very simple exercise we do is at feeding time. When I have time, I ask Syd to work for food, and I feed her by hand. Most mornings, though, that doesn't happen! So, instead, we work on our start line stays that will hopefully help in agility. I put Syd in the hall, I stand at the doorway, and I ask her to BACK up, at least 5 feet, and then DOWN. I set the food bowl down, and then I walk away from her, back toward her, turn my back, feed another dog, etc. All that time, she has to stay where she is, in a down. Then at some point, I give her the, "All done, Good girl" release, and she jumps up to snarf down her breakfast.

This morning, I went through the routine, and was already picking up some of the dog bowls in the kitchen, when I heard, "Bark, Bark, Bark" from Syd. I thought that was strange, she should be in the middle of inhaling her breakfast. I walked out of the kitchen and around to the hallway and realized that WOOPS, I never did give the release word, and Syd was still plastered to the floor in her signature SPLAT down, just staring at her food bowl 5 feet away. So, I guess we can all translate the Bark Bark Bark, your version probably isn't very far off from mine!

Telling Secrets

Have I ever mentioned how much I love this dog? The sweetest moment of our adventure to the Lake of the Ozarks last Saturday, Kane telling secrets to my friend's daughter, Ashley, resting his chin on her shoulder, just checking to make sure she was OK. Of course, Ashley was up to no good, that orange tube is a water blaster, and she was parked at the edge of the dock, blasting her dad, brother and sister in the head with water! But she looks sweet in the photo, if you don't know what she's up to. :-)

I'm sure this sweet face would never be up to any trouble! And what you can't see in this photo is Gizmo cruising the edge of the dock, because Ashley had, um, a bit of "casting trouble" and her hot dog bait was flopping off the hook and onto the edge of the deck 9 times out of 10. Never fear, Gizmo was always available for clean-up duties. No hot dog went to waste!