Wednesday, July 31, 2013

how deep is the bond?

Bugsy is not an affectionate dog.
Well he loves you and will show you that he loves you but he isn't the dog that is going to snuggle up with you or allow you to pet him.
I accept this about him and am happy when he chooses to lie down within 5 feet of me.

However, I have seen our bond deepen, day by day, event by event and outing by outing.
Oh, and injury by injury.
Sadly, we have spent a lot of time rehabbing. Bugsy doesn't seem to mind but its been hard on me.
I have been able to see though that my involvement in rehabbing - which has been solely my involvement - has deepened our bond.
Training classes, field work, and all 'silly' training have deepened that bond too.
By silly training, I mean the little bits of clicker training we do just to use his brain for a bit or the little games we play also to use some energy.
Our lake trips and downtown trips and car trips all include some type of communication that is training based. And each one adds to our bond.
I marvel sometimes now at our communication. I smiled earlier as he was standing on the deck looking into the kitchen and all I had to do was give him a look and he came in.
That is a bond.
Too often I find that people have expectations that dogs fully understand human communication and ways, some do, but only when effort by the human has led to the depth of bond for the dog to know what is desired.
Each of us, as a dog owner is responsible for creating a communication system with our dog(s). They excel at interpreting our communication but only when we are consistent and work WITH them.

Some times I am sad that Bugsy is going to be 8, at his size he's been a senior since he was 5, but in other ways I understand why the love for an older dog is deeper than when they are young.
I miss the youthful nuttiness, don't get me wrong, but there is something powerful about looking into your dogs eyes and seeing the bond, that is born of time.
I suppose that some people experience this when their dogs are young, I didn't. So I equate this incredibly deep bond with his age and the time and energy spent in teaching him what I want and helping him to recover from orthopedic surgeries.
I pray that you don't need to rehab your dog, but if you do, I assure you that the time and emotional energy you put into their rehab isn't lost on them.
They know.
And they are thankful

Thursday, July 4, 2013

You can never question his enthusiasm

Bugsy is prone to getting excited.
This is a huge understatement.

He absolutely loves 'learning', grab a clicker and watch him spin.

I have recently built a wobble board for him. This is basically an unstable board that he needs to balance his weight on. I am using it as part of his rehab from shoulder & elbow surgery.

He, as always, boldly goes on it and waits for his click/treat after which he launches off it at all sorts of crazy angles, risking life and limb to get off it.
A bit of an overreaction but hey that's how he rolls.

Last night I decided it was time to increase the challenge and affixed a small bowl under the board.
I used glue to do it, to help it set,  I put a large book and a 5 lb dumbbell on top of the book.

So this morning he followed me up to where it was and proceeded to stand on the board, pick up the dumbbell and toss it to the side, paw at the book to knock it off and look at me for a click/treat.
This occurred in, I don't know, 10 seconds or less?

I struggled to get him OFF the upside down board but eventually  I succeeded.
While I was turning the 4 foot by 4 foot board, he was attempting to stand on it.
Up until then, I kind of thought he had two brain cells that connected. LOL

OK finally I got the board in position and he jumped on it, the surprised look on his face as it wobbled was awesome. But he steadied and waited for his treat before making another high risk exit.

Why oh why can he not go SLOW?

Anyway try as I might to not laugh, it was hysterical.
I bet we worked with it for less than two minutes then I had to stop due to his high risk board exits getting faster and riskier.
He looked like I was running video on fast forward.

I honestly have no capacity to slow him down - he walks fast, goes up and down stairs fast, eats fast, tries to 'work' fast, and goes to sleep fast.
He just has the one gear and OFF.

When I picked the board up, the bowl was no longer attached and had broken.
Ah well, we'll try again another day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Today was the day I was hoping would happen :)

Hey its been a long time since Bugsy was well Bugsy.
I've been noticing the glint in his eye was getting sparklier and sparklier, and today was the day.

Those who know him know his prey drive - for large birds in particular - is rather high, *cough, cough*.  We have had many adventurous trips to the local lake due to this special drive of his.
However, starting all the way back in September when we first started rehabbing his shoulder (prior to surgery), he's been remarkably easy to handle at the lake. He was pretty much like a normal dog LOL

Today though was the day.
I knew he was full of the devil and that his battery was fully charged early this morning.
I could tell when we arrived at the lake that his whining and spinning in the car was exceptional, I was going to have to be on the ball.

We followed our routine with me setting up the boat, parking, taking him out and suiting him up (Ruffwear PFD, floating drag line with climbing strength carabiner, and e-collar) and sending him to the boat with me in tow.
He bolted to the water today and was bouncing and bouncing waiting for me to throw his toy. I heaved it as far as I could and zoom off he went.
For the first time, he had reached the toy before I even was fully launched into the water.
He swam a LONG way and then I steered him towards our little dock we use as a pitstop.
On the end of our little dock was a cormorant drying its wings.

He caught wind of it and made a beeline for it! It flew off a little too close for comfort.
If you've seen a cormorant 'take off' you know they are lousy flyers and their wings slap the water over and over before they are fully airborne.
Feathered wings slapping water are very exciting if you are a dog who loves large water fowl.

Happily after a short consideration he decided to come to me instead of chasing the bird.

In what is totally new, he belly flopped off the dock a few times. He would likely say he dock dived and for him it is huge. I am hoping he continues to improve his form LOL
I think you'll agree that belly flop is a more accurate term

So after a few of those it was time to go for another long swim back to our landing area.

This is where the fun begins, thanks for sticking with me here.
He set out as per normal and then he clearly got scent of the cormorant again.
This time it had perched to dry its wings on one of the "no wake zone" markers.
These are a good way out in the lake.
So now he's swimming at a good clip, retriever dummy in his mouth, nose high and working.
"where is that damn bird!"
I assure you that is what he was thinking

I allowed him to wander, at times he lost the scent and circled but he'd pick it up again.
Meanwhile I followed behind and tried to shoo the cormorant, who at the least was smart enough to draw in its wings and be very still.

Bugsy closed in on it and when he got pretty darn close it finally took off.
So did Bugsy.
He picked up speed, was high yipping and whining as the bird slapped the water and flew off.
OK now he's really out in the lake, this is a BIG lake.
He's blowing me off  (still carrying his toy though) and going in the direction of the bird. Sigh.


I finally sidled up next to him - despite him trying to pull away from me - at one point I was holding him with the oar LOL (So glad he isn't very spookable) - and was able to grab hold of his line and attempt to turn him around.

Note to self. Bugsy is now a strong swimmer, wearing a good PFD, I am in a unanchored boat that only moves when I paddle. This was a fail.

Ah well - in the end I was able to convince him the bird was on the shoreline and he swam back to where we needed to go.
Here's a little bit of video I captured before having to make catching him my main concern

Its been a long time since Bugsy was Bugsy. I know I shouldn't be wearing a smile as I recount this episode but I am.
I realize that subsequent lake trips have just become more work for me, but I'm wonderfully happy about that (now anyway).

So welcome back Bugsy! I've missed you <3 p="">
PS that swim from 'our' dock to the shore line was 25 minutes or so of intense cormorant chasing, direction fighting with me, kayak bashing swimming.
Add in the first swim and he was hard swimming for about 40-45 minutes. I'm exhausted thinking about it!