Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cinder's Got Game!

     Last week was nothing remarkable throughout the week.  We didn't really do anything special and nothing new was added to Cinder's repertoire until the weekend.  My time was spent attending appointments and preparing for the Easter weekend.  
     Easter Sunday, in the early morning hours, we were having coffee in the living room while the dogs played.  Suddenly I realized that Cinder had another growth spurt - legs, she's all legs right now!  At four months old, she is a nice sized girl. I can only imagine what her biggest brother, Storm, must look like now! As I watched silently, I noted that her coat is changing.  Her coat is getting thicker and she's developing feathering on her legs and backside; she's getting a rough; and she already has tail feathering.  Her soft, fluffy, puppy-smelling coat is now being exchanged for a real dog coat. My puppy is now officially a teenager.
     Gilley and I began a game of ball.  He LOVES playing ball in any variation.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied Cinder watching intently. She stopped playing with Buzz to watch Gilley and I play ball. She sat down and intently watched our every move-still as a statue except for her eyes darting side to side. Gilley and I continued playing ball when suddenly, Cinder darted across the room, careened into Gilley; grabbing the rolling tennis ball just as it went under a kitchen chair. She grabbed the ball, turned around, and brought me the ball!  Then she nudged me and nosed the ball as if to tell me, "Hey, I wanna try now!"  I rolled it and she retrieved it, bringing it back to me again.  The next time, I opted to do a close little ball toss to see her response.  Imagine my surprise at her catching it in her mouth, first time, first try!  After that, it became clear that rolling the ball on the floor was not interesting, but tossing it led to her trying to jump into the air to catch it rather than sitting or standing and waiting for it.  That was the first time Cinder's show n any interest in balls or playing with them. I guess we can now say she's interested in playing ball, but not if it's only rolled along the ground.  I guess in her world, she subscribes to the "go big or go home" theory. After all, why sit on your butt when you can vault into the air and snatch something mid-air? I guess the mid-air jump and snatch is more fun and definitely more entertaining. I'm just excited that Cinder's got it - Cinder's got game!


     The irony of the timing was appropriate because the day before, I said I have the only Border Collie puppy I've ever known or heard of that doesn't have any interest in balls of any kind. It didn't matter in the scheme of things, but being able to play ball with the dogs is fun for them and me. 
     I finally got to play ball with Cinder for the first time - on Easter!  Gotta love the little darlin' because she's keeping me guessing about what she'll do in her future. That's the highlight of another week raising Cinder.


Home Dog Bather for the Financially Challenged

     If you wash your dog in the bathtub as I do, then you’ve probably discovered the joys of using a hand-held dog bath sprayer that connects to your faucet or your showerhead.  They’re similar to kitchen sink sprayers for dog bathing. If you’ve got one of the average dog bath sprayers and connected it to your showerhead, then you’ve probably been a little disillusioned by the short length of the hose (unless you splurged on a higher-end model). The hoses average 6 - 7 feet long, but if you have a 6’ tall showerhead, it’s about two feet too short of being perfect for dogs shorter than Great Danes. I have GREAT NEWS if that’s your experience!
     Our old dog bath sprayer recently died an ugly death after years of great service (I got a good one).  I was disheartened by the selection of new models.  They’re cheaply made and of course, none of them have hoses longer than 72 inches until you get into the higher priced versions.  Prices vary widely; but higher prices don’t always equate to better quality.   Frustrated by the quality and costs of new dog specific bath sprayers, I went to Lowe’s in search of a way to make a dog bath sprayer that connects to my showerhead AND has enough hose to easily reach the whole distance from showerhead to the opposite end of the tub. 
         I looked at bathtub hand-held shower sprayers and kitchen sink sprayers.  I opted to for a hand-held shower sprayer primarily because I liked the larger sprayer head and multiple spray settings that aren’t available in kitchen sink sprayers. My search revealed several cheap models that quickly and easily attach to the existing showerhead. However, they too came with an average 60 – 72” hose.  Grrrrr! I decided to use our old sprayer hose and use a coupler to attach the new sprayer hose to it, creating a 12’ hose with a coupler joint in the middle.
    We left Lowe’s with a $13 hand-held shower sprayer kit and a coupler to fix two hoses together for a total of a 12 foot length of hose.  Our total cost was $21.  One detail I overlooked was that the shower sprayer doesn’t turn on/off by depressing a trigger.  Another easy fix for with an in-line hose shut-off valve placed at the base of the sprayer handle.  All of this was EASY and we ended up with a much better dog bath sprayer that now has a 12’ hose and three spray adjustments.  We could’ve gotten a dog sprayer for the same or less money, but they are much poorer quality at less than $50. This isn’t high quality, but it’s better than the average dog sprayers and cheaper than most of them. It’s a little better sprayer and a LOT better hose length – all for under $25.
     Cinder, Gilley and Buzz may now get as dirty as they want as often as they want because now, I’m armed with our new bath sprayer to make it easy to get them in the tub and bathe them clean again.  I already tested it on Buzz-it was wonderful and he enjoyed not being made to move around so I could reach all of him. Now it’s time for bathing a certain puppy - another adventure in raising Cinder.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Growing up Fast

Raising Cinder is pretty similar to being a parent: constant supervision required, constant trips to potty outside (also supervised), feeding, teaching things, play time, disrupted sleep in early morning hours...  Even bedtime has a ritual similar to my son's-a snack of frozen yogurt; and off to bed.  You try your best to love and raise them, hoping you're doing the right things-at least as right as you can in the given conditions. But the hardest thing is to spend every day with them and suddenly REALLY notice that they're growing up-fast!
I can hide behind this!
I be stuck now!
     Sometimes it seems like I just brought home my tiny little Cinder puppy. She was a little bit smaller than my foot at the time.  Two months have passed since then.  I look at her now and wonder where my little puppy went!  In two months, she's grown so fast that there have been times when one day she was so small she could fit into the tiniest spaces and the next day, she's either gotten stuck or can't even get into those same spaces because she's truly grown overnight.

    Like children, it's sometimes hard to remember that despite her growth and all she's learned, she's really only been to "kindergarten."  It seems she ought to be in "middle school" by now, but she's only rounding the corner to head for first grade in another month or so.  I have friends that due to time and distance, have not yet met Cinder in person. By the time they do, she will surely seem at least half grown even at less than six months old.
      I have totally enjoyed having a puppy in the house again, but I'm glad I am able to do it now and not in the five years from now that I'd planned to think about another puppy.  Waiting five more years would've been too long.  Gilley and Buzz would definitely be too old to play with a puppy by then; and they'd be far less tolerant of one by then.  As it is, it took three weeks before the boys accepted and regularly engaged with Cinder for more than a couple minutes. Now, they are all BFF's-playing and racing together as if they've always been a threesome.  
      Cinder's been good for all of us despite the moments of frustration we've all had with her puppy antics at times.  Buzz has truly learned to play for the first time in his life since he was a tiny puppy.  Gilley has always loved playing and now, Cinder is his regular play pal.  Cinder is such a sweetheart and lovebug that we're enjoying her puppy neediness of us and our affections.  She's reminded Brian that parenting-puppies or children-really is a job and doesn't wait just because we're tired or we don't feel great. She's reminded me that despite the hardships of daily struggles, there can be great joys and one of those is being needed; another is being loved.  There is something to be said about being a parent - to a child or a puppy - you can learn as much from them as they will ever learn from you if you allow yourself to be taught.  Cinder's turning out to be a good little teacher for such a young puppy that's growing up fast!
     And now, a return to daily life and the evening chores that await, including those chores that are part of raising Cinder.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Recalls-The Canine Kind or "Cinder, COME!"

  If you ask different trainers what they think are the top two most important things to teach a puppy, you're bound to start a conversation that could go on for weeks.  Everyone has their own version of what's important and sometimes picking a "most important" becomes a matter of perspective.  In my world, it's always subjective and varies with situations and settings as to the importance of certain things a dog should know. I'm topping my list with having a good recall. For those who may not know what a recall is: recall is your dog coming when you call, without any hesitation; and without detours along the way.
   Cinder will never be a working herder. We have nothing for her to herd. However, we will be taking her to all kinds of places and doing all kinds of things aside from the 340 acres of farm we roam regularly.  I'm also hoping that if she likes and shows promise for agility, MAYBE we will try a few trials. Obviously that means she needs a good recall.  
     Today was our first trial run to test her recall on the farm without the big boys with us. Gilley has a FANTASTIC recall for which I am grateful, but Cinder needs to learn to come on her own, without Gilley or Buzz.  We took her to the horse barn with us and took a walk with her on a long-line (25' rope). 
     The first test was just getting her past the chickens darting around the barnyard! Once we got her out of the barnyard and headed to the back fields, we were able to start letting her loose. I was apprehensive because she has a great recall within the confines of our house, but when she's with the big boys, she's merely following them.  With 340 acres to run, I got concerned when our first dozen recalls on the long-line were questionable because she kept sniffing and snooting - I had to tug her most of the way to me.  After about another dozen successful but lacklustre recalls, I was a little less hesitant to turn her loose, but not entirely convinced. 
   Finally I decided to let her loose with her long-line on.  My thinking was that if she headed into the woods, she'd get snagged up and I'd be able to get to her.  Once she discovered she was free, she took off at dead run and I was a bit afraid she may not stop.  As I crested the hill, I spied her atop the hill, stopped and staring at me.  I called her and  she came. Yay!  After that, Brian and I kept her in a big field punctuated with small hills; and surrounded by woods.  Using the hills, edge of the woods, and some old round bales of hay, one of us would "hide" while Cinder wasn't looking. After a few minutes, the person hiding would yell for Cinder to come.  It was me to start and then we alternated calling her between us.  Each and every time, she came running directly to whomever called, trailing her long-line behind.  A few times I thought to detach the long-line, but I decided it wasn't hurting anything to leave it alone.  We played this game all the way back to the little creek.  
     At the creek, we generally leash the dogs because that's a sort of last rest area before we're back in the barn yard and turn-out area.  Buzz has a horrible track record around the horses and chickens; and no recall once he starts a chase.  Gilley's awesome because I raised him going to the barn every day and he learned how to behave around the barn animals, but Buzz was already three when we got him. We worked to teach him barn rules and on leash, he's GREAT but the minute he's free, he becomes an unstoppable Tazmanian Devil, killing chickens and chasing horses (NOT herding, chasing); and he ignores all efforts to recall him or stop him.  Rather than fight it, we just habitually don't give him the chance. Cinder will learn by trips as the single dog with us and trips with Gilley. Hopefully she'll become trustworthy at the barn like Gilley, but right now, we have to reinforce the whole recall and be able to get it reliably before we tempt fate and let her loose at the barn. 
 Overall, Cinder did well for her first test on recall over distance and without the big boys.  I'm very pleased because I sure wasn't counting on it. Now we just have to keep working on it and add distractions to start making that recall reliable. Next time, I'll take a drag rope (a leash about two feet long) to attach so she'll have something we could grab if we need to, but not something 25 feet long trailing behind her.  We'll start varying where we walk so she learns in different settings, including the woods. For now, I'm happy enough she had good recalls in the open field and the trail to the creek.  She gets an "A" for today.  Bonus: she got her exercise, we got ours; and now she's tired enough she'll be easier on the big dogs this evening.

 That's one more small hurdle successfully accomplished in our daily life as we continue raising Cinder.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Making a Stuffed Squeaker Toy

  This morning, after Cinder got up from playing with her favorite alligator stuffed squeaker toy, Gilley absconded with it.  In less than 30 seconds, it was shredded with a hole in one of the two squeakers in it. Cinder was completely upset I wouldn’t let her have the gator pieces back. He was her favorite toy.  I couldn’t stand her pouting – it was worse than a little kid!  I had Brian puppy-sit while I went to the sewing room and rummaged through my scraps to find something with which to make Cinder a new, “improved” gator.  A while later, I returned to the living room bearing a new stuffed alligator squeaker toy for Cinder, fully aware Gilley WILL get his teeth on it. This gator will hold up longer than the last one because I made it MY way.  I did this more than a few times for my last puppy – Gilley the stuffed toy destroyer! I was hopeful Gilley was past that and that MAYBE Cinder wouldn’t be a toy destroyer.  What was I thinking?  End result is I made a new gator toy with more squeakers and Cinder is happy again.

A friend asked for a “tutorial” for making the stuffed squeaker toy so here it is, to the best of my ability to explain it:

Things Needed:
  • ·        Basic sewing machine
  • ·        Tissue paper or plain (non-fusible) interfacing to create your pattern
  • ·        Scissors
  • ·        Pins
  • ·        tailor’s marking chalk (optional)
  • ·        Heavy denim, canvas, or duck cloth.  I also like to recycle old jeans.
  • ·        Optional heavy polar fleece
  • ·        Sewing thread
  • ·     Hand sewing needles and either upholstery or jeans thread for stitching the toy closed  after stuffing.
  • ·    A small bag of polyester fiberfill stuffing for toys.  Do NOT use foam, foam shreds, or thread/string shreds because if a dog eats them they can be devastating!!!
  •       At least one or more round plastic toy squeakers

     Dog toys don’t need to be difficult. I like to keep things fast and simple so I make my dog toys in TWO (2) pieces – a top and bottom.  The more separate parts you have, the more work to make it; and the faster it comes apart.  *If you’re a beginning or basic sewer, this is easy!  If you mess it up, you’re the only one who will know!!! The dog will still play with your toy no matter how nice or nasty it looks!
     Draw a basic “concept” design of the toy shape you want.  I suggest something easy like a “gingerbread man” for your first one. 

     Proportions are up to you however, you need to make everything big enough to easily turn your sewn toy inside out; stuff it easily; and fit your squeaker(s) in the area(s) you want it/them.  Be sure to include at least a quarter (1/4) – half (1/2) inch seam all around it.  It will seem huge when you cut it out, but it will be smaller than you think when you’re finished.
     Don’t forget to mark a place to leave unstitched for turning and stuffing your toy!  Typically, I like to leave a space that is wide enough for at least three of my fingers.  A good opening should be at least three to five inches wide, but I have large hands.  On the gingerbread figure, I place it on the inside of a leg. Place openings in straight areas of your seam lines, but not near a corners, tight curves, or points.  
     While you are designing, keep in mind that the smaller you make it, the harder it will be to turn inside out and stuff it. The size of your dog/puppy relative to the toy is also important. After all, if the dog can’t carry the toy, he’s not likely to play with it much.  Likewise, if the toy is too small, a big dog may eat the toy instead of playing with it!  Size really does matter in this endeavor.

    Once you’re happy with your “mock-up” pattern, create the real pattern on your tissue paper or interfacing.  Remember to mark your opening and include enough size for your seams. 
     When you have a final pattern, then you’ll be able to tell how much fabric you’ll need to make it.  I don’t worry about which way the grain of fabric is on dog toys because I usually use scraps.  The dogs will never know or care either!  I just find scraps big enough for my pattern to fit any way I can. If you have to buy fabric, you’ll want to measure your pattern or even take it with you to the fabric store.
     I ALWAYS use at least two layers of heavy denim, canvas, or duck cloth for each piece of the toy top and bottom.  The alligator I made Cinder is three layers of denim on the bottom; and one layer of denim with two layers of heavy polar fleece on the top. 
Top layer sewn around the edge to my denim layer. 
*I don’t bother with pinning & cutting the fabric around the pattern. Instead, I lay my pattern on the fabric; and use chalk to draw the outline around the pattern on the top layer of fabric.  I take that layer with the chalk outline (face up) and place it on the second layer of fabric; smooth the layers out and pin them together in key places.  I then take the sandwiched layers to the sewing machine and sew them together by sewing all the way around on the chalk outline.  Then I trim away the excess fabric.  I do that for both the top and bottom pattern pieces.  

*OPTIONAL:  I randomly “quilt” my two 
layered pieces together so they’ll act more like a single heavy fabric rather than two separate fabrics sewn together. It makes it harder for the dog to pierce and rip a layer if the layers are quilted together. Once I’ve done the “quilting” of the top and bottoms, I’m ready to sew the top and bottom together to form the toy.
     Put the top and bottom pieces together – inside out – to sew the toy’s seam.  Pin in position as needed.  Starting at one side of the space to be left open for turning/stuffing, backstitch a couple times to start, then sew all the way around the toy’s seam line to the opposite side of the opening space; and backstitch a couple times to end.  Sew around the seam a second time in a slightly smaller stitch to reinforce it.  Trim the seam allowance no closer than one quarter (1/4) inch from the stitching; clip curves and points.  Turn the completed toy body inside out so the right side is now on the outside. 
   Take your squeaker(s) and make little “pocket(s)” with a piece of hosiery, lightweight cloth or interfacing. This is to keep the fiberfill from plugging the opening of the squeaker(s) and preventing it from squeaking once you install it in the toy. 
    Stuff the extremities of your toy first.  Do not overstuff-you want it to have flexibility. If it’s not flexible enough, you’ve probably overstuffed. If it’s too flexible, it’ll be floppy. When inserting a squeaker, be sure to insert stuffing on all sides of the squeaker.  If desired, you can keep shifting of stuffing to a minimum by sewing a line across the extremities at places where a “joint” might be and another line of stitching at the joint of the extremity and the body.  Then fill the body cavity and insert squeakers as desired, with stuffing around all sides of the squeakers.  *If your toy has a head and/or tail, you should also stuff those areas before filling the body cavity.

  Once your toy is stuffed, check all the squeakers to be sure they still squeak and they are covered by stuffing but not so buried by it the do will not be able to find and squeak them.  If you’re happy with the way the squeakers work and the stuffing is finished, sew the toy opening closed with upholstery or jeans thread.  I use an invisible stitch because I don’t want the thread on the outside where the dog’s teeth may easily catch it.
     At this point, you should have a completed stuffed dog toy with at least one or more squeakers inside.  Check it once again to be sure you’ve clipped all your threads and be sure your seams are all closed.  Give it to your dog as soon as you’ve done your “quality control inspection.”
     Like all dog toys, especially stuffed ones, please always supervise your dog while playing with it!  They shouldn’t eat the fiberfill or plastic squeakers!  Once you see the toy has a hole, either patch it or take it away.  I like to patch them if I can – it adds character and longer life to the toy.  Once it’s beyond repairing, take it away from the dog and recycle as much of the stuffing and squeakers as possible for the next new toy!

     I’ve made a LOT of dog toys for a lot of dogs.  I almost always want to buy some because they’re often so cute, but by the time my dogs shred a few, I’m done buying and back to making them.  Mine last a LOT longer, endure rougher play – even being used as tug toys – and I can often recycle the stuffing and squeakers several times.  If you figure the “quality” stuffed toys are $7.00 - $50.00, I’m able to save a lot of money and spend only a little time to create my own stuffed toys.  The bonus is that I can create more than two toys for only $8.00 in fabric, $7.00 for a bag of squeakers, and $8.00 for a sizeable bag of fiberfill. It costs even less if I can use recycled jeans and the stuffing and squeakers from old toys!
      Truly, your dog is not going to care how cute or ugly the toy is so don't be afraid to try it and experiment with different ways to make your toys and different shapes. You may even get good enough that you could make some for local dog clubs, rescues, or humane societies for gifts, prizes and fundraisers!  

If you're thinking of trying it and have any questions or get stuck and need help, I'd be glad to help you.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Remembering Rex

Today is a sad day for Finch Creek Farm. Rex, a Belgian gelding, had to be euthanized last night.  
I could go into great detail about how Rex was truly a once in a lifetime horse.  How he'd been rescued as a lone survivor in a field of dead horses; he'd come to Finch Creek Farm; and how I'd been brought to the farm to train him. I could mention that Rex was a horse with a personality that you couldn't ignore - a cocky athlete, a goofy goober, a ham, and a charismatic grand gentleman rolled into a horse who thought he should be a lap-dog. I could mention his versatility as a riding horse, lesson horse, driving horse, farm work horse, and a logging horse. Those are all just unimportant details and filler.  The real story is how that horse could fly. I can't begin to describe how awesome this plain looking fellow really was, but I can give you an idea of what it was to watch him go:




Anyone who saw him drive knows he had his wings long ago because that boy could fly! I guess he's traded up for even better wings because now, I know he has angel wings.

Good-bye ya big goober. You will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Fly with the wings of an angel - you earned them.

P.S.  Don't give God a slurpy with your mouth full - it's not attractive even if it is funny.

Catching Up on all Things Cinder

 Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s catch up on Raising Cinder!  Cinder continues growing by leaps and bounds.  She is so big that we had to “up-size” her crate and gave her Buzz’s (since we never use it).  She’s now big enough she no longer has to jump on the furniture because she can easily climb or hop up without a running jump. Cinder is now 15 weeks old and she’s already about half grown I think! Her paws are as big as Buzz’s and bigger than Gilley’s! I was hoping to have a little lap cuddle-bug for a while longer, but she’s already outgrown being a lap sized girl.  Although she appears long and lean, she has fairly dense bone.  She eats like a ravenous wolf at every meal and it’s truly, “Gone in 60 Seconds!” 
     Last week Cinder and Buzz had a big fight in which the end result was Buzz got mad at
Cinder during some rough play and suddenly made sure we all knew it. I had to pull him off her at the right moment to keep him from going too far and probably seriously injuring her.  It was a good thing I was there to stop him, but he did enough to scare the heck out of her for a while. Luckily, she escaped unscathed but her little feelings were hurt –for at least that evening.  They were playing together again the next day. I’m sure she’ll push more of Buzz and Gilley’s buttons as she grows, but that first big fuss was all I needed to get my heart jumping! She learned that her puppy license has limits and Buzz WILL enforce them.
     Cinder’s visits to the barn, or as she has learned it from our neighbor children, “the horse house,” are increasing; but require structure and limits to learn essential barn rules.  Now that spring is finally here, getting the horses and equipment cleaned for our horse driving season and preparing for horse activities is a big time suck so Cinder’s going to have lots of “horse house” adventures. She met the two newest additions to the horse herd: two BIG, black Percherons arrived to become part of the Finch Creek Farm and Logging string. They were in a small turn-out when we went to examine them and Cinder met them up close.  She barked and tried her best to fend them off, but the end result was the big boys gave us some friendly nuzzling and slurpy licks, which Cinder didn’t care for much.  The upside to taking her to the barn is that she gets worn out so when we return home, she’s quite content to lounge and play quietly – most of the time. 
     Cinder seems highly sound sensitive. Luckily, the noises that seem to bother her are things like alarm clocks and timers - things which are supposed to be annoying.  Since I have profound hearing loss, it’s nice that she’s sensitive to those noises and goes directly to them, sits and barks at them.  In fact, that’s exactly what Hearing Dogs are supposed to do. I miss having my Hearing Dog for such things so I am fostering that behavior since it’s something she does naturally which is very helpful for me.

      Cinder’s play in the creek is fun to watch! Most recently at the creek, Cinder discovered jumping off the bank into the water. Adding to her newfound fun was a moment in which she spied Buzz, oblivious to her, wading and lounging in the creek about 10 feet from she and Gilley. I knew the moment I saw her look at him that he was about to be pounced. Sure enough, she jumped off the bank and onto Buzz, knocking him down and taking him under water (luckily only about two feet deep).  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they both flailed about and resumed play without any more surprises.  Despite all things, Buzz is very tolerant of Cinder’s puppy antics. 

     It seems the pack dynamics are evolving already.  Cinder’s puppy license seems to be intact for now, but the limits on it are growing. I suspect her puppy license will expire this summer, when she is big enough to be truly adversarial in her games and female enough to punctuate her intentions. Currently, Gilley seems to be the primary educator of tactical strategy and maneuvering while Buzz seems to be the “test dummy” on which Cinder attempts to apply the lessons.  Cinder is still baby of the pack, but becoming more assertive with each week. Ultimately I think Cinder will rein as queen and pack leader-in about 14 months. 
  Last week I got the agility tunnel out for Gilley and without me prompting her, Cinder decided to “play through” as well!  The first part of this week we made Cinder a training teeter-totter.  I’ve come to learn that the teeter-totter is one of the scarier items Agility dogs learn because it involves shifting movement. Gilley didn’t learn it until the end stages of his agility training and he never mastered it – in fact, he really hates it.  I don’t want to actually train Cinder on the teeter-totter yet, but I do want her to “dabble” at being on one once in a while to gether used to the movement of it. I'm hoping when it's time to train for the teeter-totter, she will have no fear of it. 

     The last few days our focus has been more leash training and a couple new tricks. Training time is always a learning curve for us both – which is half the fun.  I love how Cinder tries SO
hard to figure things out.  She learns fairly quickly once I find and repair MY flaws in teaching her. She is the MOST food motivated little pup I’ve ever seen! She truly needs a sign, “will do anything for any food, any time.” She goes to the treat counter, sits and looks up at the counter and yips – her version of, “time for work because it’s time for treats!”  I can’t fault her for a work ethic, but it’s actually more about the “puppy paycheck” she wants! Thank goodness we make our own treats and they are quite small!  
       I was feeling pretty good about Cinder's training until I saw a FaceBook post of a woman and her pup of the same age. Her pup is already doing 10 times anything I ever thought of; and executing things much better and consistently.  I confess, it made me feel extremely inadequate and totally inept.  I was both envious and disheartened.  However, I discovered that she grew up in Scotland with access to many Border Collies and many of the best BC trainers in Europe, some of whom trained her; and she's been doing advanced training for 25 years. She should have the skills and ability to select and train a top-notch puppy!  Now I'm okay with where Cinder and I are in regard to training because we aren't professionals; and I've had about a month of problems with my back to inhibit our progress.  I think we're doing okay all things considered.  At15 weeks old, Cinder has learned 33 different things.  That doesn’t mean her execution of each thing is excellent, merely that she knows what each thing means and makes her best effort to comply. Her effort and demonstrated knowledge is very good on all items at least 98% of the time.  I may be too easy, but for a puppy her age, with me for her trainer,  I think that’s pretty darned good. Whether it is or not, that's where we are and we endeavor to press forward at OUR pace because it's not like Cinder MUST be a great trick dog.  Cinder just has to be a good companion dog for us -anything more is just "value added."
      That brings you up to speed on everything that we've done for the last two weeks.  As I said, nothing exciting, but it is all part of our daily life as we continue raising Cinder.