Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Another Day In Paradise

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog (I usually try for once a week), but what can I say? Rubi and I have been busy!

Rubi and I started our new growl class a couple weeks ago. My goal for this class was primarily to smooth out the unpredictability she’s had since The Incident. If you remember, I avoiding working on this for several months as we were busy preparing for our fantastic BWCA adventure. After watching Rubi in class, and then more in the last several weeks, I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that Rubi is back to her old self. She’s still over enthusiastic and high on life, but she’s not really unpredictable anymore. I love it when I ignore a problem and it goes away.


Class resembles real life: on a field trip to Culvers, Rubi asks,
"See how hard I am not stare at your tuna sandwich?
Isn't that worth, like, half a tuna sandwich right there?"

 I did have a minor shift in philosophy while taking B to growl class this time around. We spent a large amount of time during class focusing on encouraging our dogs to relax. I have come to the conclusion that this is an unrealistic expectation for Rubi. While “calmer” is a reasonable goal, she is never going to be really relaxed around other dogs. Among other things, it’s simply not who she is. Maybe if she were younger (she’s seven now), and we had more years to work on it. But then, maybe if someone hadn’t left her tied up in their back yard for the formative years of her life, maybe she wouldn’t be reactive at all. If only wishes were cookies. I’m okay with the idea that Rubi may never have an “off” switch; I think I’ll be pretty happy with a “keep a lid on it” switch.

I’ve decided to switch Rubi out of Growl Class and run Jai instead as I think he needs the exposure more than she does. I am horribly lazy about training on my own time, but signing up for classes is a great way to get me out and working with my dog. The Growl Class is very easy going and will put a lot less pressure on Jai that his previous class. I’d like to see how much of our previous class stuck.

In other news, Rubi had her first Dog Safety Program with another dog, Andy the Arm Candy, a few weeks ago, and it went swimmingly. But then, I knew it would. I don’t say that to brag; I say that because I don’t do programs with dogs unless I am 99.9% certain that they will go well. I over prepare because there is no room for error when working with little kids, particularly when you have pit bulls and Rottweilers. As a side note, Andy did spectacularly on his first Dog Safety Program. Pretty soon I’m going to have to change his name to Andy the Bombproof. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. 

"Hold a stay while you're on the other side of the room and an unanticipated kid comes in?
Why yes, I can do that.
But I'm not going to look as happy as Andy about it."

This session of Rott n’ Pit Ed, I took a break from my beloved reactive dogs to teach a CGC prep class (and can I just say how nice it is to teach a class where all the dog can look at each other? Not that I don’t love my crazies, but it’s nice to mix it up every once in a while). In honor of over training for the test, I brought Rubi to class to play decoy dog. The class is seven really, really well behaved dogs and their handlers – only one of which Rubi has ever met before. I’ll be honest, I pushed the hell out of her doing this. It was certainly more pressure than I would ever consider putting on Jai or Maus.

And she loved every minute of it.

My students are welcome put their thoughts in the comments – heaven knows you have a different perspective holding the leash than watching the leash being held, but Rubi acted like a pretty typical untamed pit bull. Which is fine with me, considering how far it shows we’ve come that Rubi can fake normal on any level. She screamed a few times, but her vocalizations were directed at me, not the other dogs. She required fairly frequent reminders to keep her on task. I thought a few times that she was going to wag her tail right off her body, and she was utterly smitten with the black’n’tans, but at no point was she out of control. Rubi was even able to do the formalized neutral dog greeting that the CGC requires.

Six of seven new dogs in a new environment, and Rubi didn’t have a single meltdown. Have I mentioned lately how when I got her, Rubi couldn’t see another dog three quarters of a mile away without loosing her mind? How if she heard another dog, all bets were off until she could find that dog to scream at? How she couldn’t smell a strange dog without whining? (Took me a while to figure out that was what was going on there – I thought my dog was just schizophrenic.)

Speaking of which, the CGC dogs took their test this weekend and every single one of them passed. That’s seven more rescue dogs – four pit bulls, two rottweilers, and one pit bull mix - added to the professional ambassadog world. Included in the count is Tally, a fighting bust dog from Florida, and Mercury, who came up with Andy as part of the Texas 200. And Izzy, Shelby, Penny, Mardi, and Suzy Q (who Rubi wants to become one with). I am so proud of them all. 

Photo courtesy of Jen. I think.  
Including Maus, who played the part of neutral dog for the test. As usual, he made me look good. It was a particular accomplishment for Maus as I brought him on the pack walk earlier that morning. Usually, Maus starts to show signs of stress if we leave the house for more than an hour. The pack walk went well, even when another handler took him for a bit so I could work with Rookie, an ARLP adoptable, for a bit. I made sure to within arm’s reach of Maus, and I know he took note that I wasn’t holding his leash because he refused to take treats from his new handler. But he took treats from me and otherwise seemed his usual self. He was also fine for the CGC test later, although he did pass out once we got home that afternoon. Faking normal is emotionally exhausting. 
Maus multitasks: making me look good while discussing the restorative properties of dark roast.
Photo by Paige. 

Rookie says, "Adopt me!"
Maus says, "For the love of god, please!"
Photo by Paige
For my next circus act, I’ll be giving a one hour lecture on living with multiple dogs for Rott n’ Pit Ed (wish me luck – or at least, less swearing than usual!). I’m hoping to use Rubi, along with Maus and Piper, as demo dogs, which should be entertaining if nothing else. Luckily, I’ll be amongst friends, so if I need to hand off a dog for being an unruly bitch *cough*Rubi*cough*, I’m sure I’ll have a few trust-worthy volunteers. Although some days, the idea of handing her off someone untrustworthy and then never seeing her again certainly does have it’s appeal . . . 

And just in case you thought I’ve been slacking for the last month, last week was this summer’s third Get Your Fix! Fair, and I again spent the day getting puppy kisses –er, I mean, giving distemper shots. Seriously though: almost thirty puppies under twelve weeks (many of whom were also getting spayed or neutered, so you can go ahead and feel good about this, rescue people). I damn near had a puppy-breath induced joy coma. 

Typical boxer puppy. Piper was like this once. Sometimes I miss it.
Photo taken by Sara.

My favorite bracelet, a quote from Game of Thrones. In case you can't read it:
"And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things . . . "
Story of my life. Photo by Sara.

My favorite puppy, probably because she reminded me of my first dog, Riley.
Go rest high on that mountain, big guy.

The great thing about puppies is that they still love you even after you've given them shots.


One of my favorite dogs, Chance. 

Sweet, shy, handsome dog, sexy, devoted owner -
really, what more could a girl ask for?

My favorite adult dog, Playboy. Came right over and sat his big, hairy balls right in my lap.
Then decided he didn't like me behind him for some reason . . . 


  1. Several things. Suzy Q wants Rubi to know that maybe they can hang out again. Like, you know, within some feet of each other :) Second, I'm glad you thought the guy in the AE shirt was hot as well ! Thirdly, you are an AWESOME teacher. Q and I would not be where we are without the awesomeness of you, Jen, and Blair from Canine Coach :)

  2. How I adore these blog posts, let me count the ways....

  3. There are WAY too many super adorable dogs in this post for me to handle. I must leave now. Haha.

    ps~ Hi Maus! You 'purple' nosed pitbull, you! (Oh my gawd that was so funny when you told him that)

  4. Such a great post, thanks so much for sharing! I always enjoy the photos! :)