Friday, April 4, 2014

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.



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