Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Recalls with Miss Tula

Guess what? I, Mango, am enrolled in Canine Good Citizen skool! That's right! I had my first class last week. It is really hard. I had to sit still while some lady came up and looked in my ears and touched my feet, but it paid off because after that she brushed me which felt really nice. Momma says I am only learning how to be a good citizen in the skool yard, but who cares? It is fun!

Loyal readers know that I, Mango, attend graduate skool with Miss Tula. She is HOT! Now some doggies are afraid of her, but not the Mango! No way! So a lot of the times I am partnered with her during walkie practice where you promenade around the ring as close as you can to your walking buddy.

This week we were walking so close I was almost faint from her Tula'ness. She kept sneaking looks at me and even did a grrrrr. Oh yeah, playing hard to get, right? Next week is the last class, so I am hoping to get in a quick butt sniff. Oooo la la!

We did some super duper hard recall work. Trainer dude setup a bucket of cookies and we each took turns going over and getting a cookie right out of the bucket. Nommy! But then we had to do a recall thingie past the treat jar!

Tula went first and got off to a great start. I can't believe her acceleration!

Ruh roh! Seems the treats are more interesting than her momma.

But she got it on the third try! Go Tula, go!

Me? I made it like a shot first time. Of course part of it might be trying to get away from trainer dude who is clearly a bit touched in the head all flapping his arms like a big chicken.

And again! Notice my turn of the head away from the food to demonstrate that I, Mango, made a relentlessly huge decision to go to momma and avoid the food despite my obviously emaciated and starving condition.

Wanna see an action video? I thought you might. Just click here.

Yuh, and it being Halloween, check out the lovely Tulip. Subtle, but charming.

I opted for a seasonally appropriate bandanana. But I took it off halfway through school because it was kind of tight.

The DOH is still super busy, but she promised some blogging time today to visit my pals. I certainly hope so.

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

P.S. My pal, Bolo, is running a contest to show how much your humans look like you. I submitted a picture. Hehehe. You can enter by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordy Wednesday - book review

It seems that one award winning moment in my Monday post stood out for several readers. For those of you lacking the high speed internets, here is a reenactment...

Hey! It's all Mango! It's all good.

Now I will reluctantly turn my blog over to momma for a boring book review. But first I want to let you know that we are super busy around here so be patient with us if we are slow to post and comment.

Mango Momma here with a doggie book review
The nice folks at National Geographic sent me a copy of their new book, DogTips from DogTown for a review.

Let's cut to the chase. I liked this book.
The first part of the book is dedicated to understanding more about dogs and how to know whether you are really ready to have one and if so, how to choose a dog.

I particularly liked the section on dog body language. For example, a great explanation of the subtleties of tail wagging. Doesn't mean the dog is happy. Often I have had people approach Mango even when I could see he was stressed (oh, but his tail is wagging). NOT! They also go briefly into the mistakes that a well meaning human can make during training. Like one dog whose owners snapped at her for soiling in the house and the result was that "She learned if she had to go to the bathroom, she had better find a spot where people could not see her." Then they go on to share a better way to house train.

Lots of good advice about adopting a pet and how to at least try and be rational about your decision. This passage I really liked;

"At Best Friends, some adopters mistakenly believe their dogs will feel thankful for being rescued and taken to forever homes. Although the dog understands the value of a warm house and big backyard, she won't credit the adopter with the change and immediately show her gratitude by obeying every cue or signal."

I was amused by the section on how to condition your dog not to jump as it cited the danger of bending down to calm an excitable dog and getting a face butt. Mango has given me a bloody nose twice and Dexter has given me a black eye from just such encounters.

The layout of the book is great (better editing than their first book). It is divided into short sections with bold faced headers so you can easily skip to areas of interest.

Loyal readers know that I am NOT a positive training only person. That said, for an inexperienced handler, making a mistake using positive reinforcement will have less dire consequences than a mistake with a pinch collar. And the whole mindset of positive reinforcement rings true. Better to reward good behavior if you can catch it (that said, I would hate to see how my kids would have turned out if we had never spoken sharply with them or slapped a wayward hand away from a hot stove).

Plus, not all negative training takes the form of physical punishment. As my training pal, Wild Dingo has pointed out many times, withholding affection, removing desired objects, etc. are all forms of negative training to the dog. Now I will say, that training collars are not for the inexperienced handler and never ever ever use it for tricks of other funballs stuff. I reserve training collars for a brief reminder during obedience work and on walks and am mindful to not put myself or my dogs in a situation where I am going tug, tug, tug. It is really an extension of my arm (which is not long enough to get to Mango's face if he is in front of me). Hey, if he is being a dope during less formal work I give him a bop on the head to get his attention. It doesn't hurt him, just a quick "hello!"

My one criticism is similar to that I had with their previous book. I would like to see more cautionary tales of well intentioned, good people, who bite off more than they can chew and need to return their dog. As heartbreaking as it is, if the dog doesn't fit your home or life style, the best thing for the DOG is to help him/her find a more suitable settlement.

They stress repeatedly that you need to work with the dog you have, not with the dog you wish you had. That is important. Not every retriever will fetch and some mastiffs enjoy agility. You can't bring a dog home with an agenda. Sure, you might want an agility champion, but if your border collie decides that running about all jumping and whatnot is not his cup of tea, either re-home him or find something he likes. They also try to drive home that your training methods should adapt to the dog. Mango is very bull headed and does not get cowed by harsh language. Dexter, on the other hand acts like an abused dog if I raise my voice. So, more happy voice with Dexter and more reliance on targeting and body language with Mango. Get it?

I highly recommend this book to anybody considering a dog for the first time and first time owners. Having read about a gazillion training books, there wasn't anything new in here for me, but it was an easy read and did reinforce some of the work I do with Mango and Dexter.

While I have your attention, I also recommend On Second Thought.

This isn't a dog book as such, but will have you looking at both yourself and your dogs in a whole new way. The book discusses all the ways our brains are hard wired to react to different stimulus in ways that our logical mind would find peculiar if we could only step back and see what is happening.

The author cites tons of psychological experiments which are somewhat disturbing. It also is a good reminder that those looney psychiatrists are never testing what they say they are. After reading this, it is unlikely you will be able to change a lot of your emotional responses, but at least you'll have an awareness that your reactions might be based more on primitive survival skills than you think. I found lots of practical examples at work in the endless meetings I sit through watching group think and other maddening behaviors get in the way of logic (even to the point where one manager said the now infamous quote "let's put the data aside and go with what we know to be true" and everybody in the room except me was nodding in agreement). Oh save me!

And yes, we will be a bit absent from blog land the next few days and might employ the mark all as read by the time the weekend comes. All good, but very busy.

Mango Momma

Monday, October 25, 2010

Special Messages for Mischka and Miss Puddles

I asked momma to make a special video recording message just for my good friend, Mischka. Here it is, hope you like it, buddy.

That phrase that gotta momma all tangled up was unternehmerischer Typ. Wow! German has a lot of letters in it.

Alert readers might recall that we posted a tutorial movie on how to speak Boston and invited our friends to teach us how to speak like them. Well, so far, the only taker was the divine Miss Puddles who provided a handy training manual for speaking Southern.

So I give you, Mango Momma Speaks Southern.

Mango Man ! Oh yeah!

P.S. For reasons unclear to me, Momma likes to try and talk like people who are not her, so if any other readers want to challenge her mentals, just provide a guide to speaking like you and she'll have a go. Of course not too late to make your own Boston speak video.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween and Slobbers by Dexter

Boy do I ever hate Halloween. I am just a natural kind of dog and even though I have long since lost the battle to go around nekked, the only article of clothing that I wear regularly is my collar. Sure, in the winter I agree to a reflective vest for night walkies, but that is where I draw the line.

I know lots of doggies dress up for Halloween, but I hate it. Now, some relentlessly huge monster dogs think nothing of making total idiots of themselves.

Check out you know who. A bumble bee? Are you insane?

What? Where did this photo come from? Must by photoshopped.

You know what else? I had to crop the bottom off this picture. Wanna know why? Can you say "lipstick?"

You know you are in trouble when one of the keywords for you blog posts is "slobber." Now I have frequently seen comments on OUR blog with words like, "oh I always wanted a mastiff" or "Mango is so adorable, I would love to smooch him."

To which I reply, are you freakin kidding me?

Any sane human really want to live with the slobber beast? Seriously. The slobbers on our CEILING are one of the main attractions during tours of the estate. Not to mention slobbers on the TV, kitchen cabinets, furniture, MY BED, and various guests.

But worst of all is... oh man! Is there something on my head?

Crap! On my beautiful feathered labratail too. ICK!

See what I put up with? How can I be expected to go out in public like this? So wrong.

Dexter done!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dexter's Training Update

About a month ago, Trainer Dude payed a visit to our estate for some special private training. His mission? To help us learn to take turns when we are learning our skills. Not as easy as it looks.

We've been working hard, but it is little baby steps, especially when the short attention span dinosaur sized beast is involved.

I made a movie to show you how far we have gotten. We work on taking nommy treats without being greedy and watching each other do target practice and other stuff. The hardest part is sitting still when Momma does a Relentlessly Huge recall, but I am getting it.

Watch the movie here.

That was fun, right? Well, maybe not as much fun is momma's insistence that I learn to crawl under her legs. Seems to me just a lazy woman's excuse for training as she is seated during the "exercise."

What's up with doing this in the kitchen? How can I get any leverage. Yikes! Do I actually bend that way?

I tried to talk some sense into her. She suffers from mastiff vision and always thinks I am so much smaller than I am. Poor me. The crosses one bears.

But she kept demanding, and, well, you can see the results just by the look on my face! ENOUGH!

Wanna watch the movie? Just click here.

Speaking of training, momma signed me up for a six week class of something called Control Unleashed. She says that I need to work on calm attention. Sounds pretty dull to me. Plus it means another six weeks without proper agilities. The RH has been somewhat optimistically signed up for a CGC class. I doubt he'll pass, but it will get him out of the house once a week and stimulate his mentals.

Dexter done!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Space Invader and Tennis Ball El'bow Update

It might be purple, but it's still MY bed!

Look at him! He doesn't even care that I am there!

Oh poor ME!

Under the circumstances, I resorted to crying to momma. Sure, I could have grabbed the runt by the head and tossed him aside like a bag of labrastuff, but that would have been frowned upon so instead I howled and moaned until the DOH woke up Mr. Piggy Bed Hog and told him to go to his couch.


In other news, momma's el'bow therapist has been giving her something called iontophoresis with dexamethasone. Now there's a mouthful. Apparently she gets hooked up to a car battery twice a week and that generates an electrical current in her arm and then there is a patch of charged particle medicines on her el'bow and the current pulls them into her El'bow. Yeah, I think it is pretty far fetched myself, but she swears that she is FINALLY getting some relief and of course I am getting some relief from her constant crying, so whatever works.

If you want to read about this voodoo hocus pocus for yourself, try clicking here.

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Discover a Place Named After ME!

My good buddies, Scruffman and Stanny have been staying at my estate due to several unfortunate incidents which have left them on the outs with their mumsie. Well, I am always happy to see them and had just settled in for some heavy guy stuff...

When I received a peemail from alert reader, Sadie, telling me that she had found an entire settlement right in her home state of Florida that is totally dedicated to the Mango! Well, this is something that must be looked into.

As always, Scruffer had brought along his blow torch and after loading up on broccolies and livers, I was all gassed and ready to go. Light 'er up, Scruff, we're headed for Florida!

Ever resourceful Scruffy had brought along a whatcha call, GPS. Although his back seat driving did get a bit screechie. Approaching beastie decibel. Ow! My ears!

Once we got close, the roads were very well marked. I could hardly believe my eyes! We're headed for MANGO!

PeeWee bailed out to go visit his friend, Moose. Fine with me. Who needs their little brother following around when they are on a big adventure?

Sadie was there to greet us at the official Mango Dog Park. She even brought refreshments.

Aware of my impending arrival, the Church of Mango had allocated space for me on their agenda for some Relentlessly Huge sermonizing.

I kept my message brief and relevant. No point blathering on and on, right?

I was awarded an honorary degree from the local skool! Now we all know that I seriously am way beyond the elementary educations, but they were so earnest in their desire to put my name on their list of alumni that I had to comply (I just hope they don't start hitting me up for donations).

Our last stop was the Mango Ridge Estates. I am thinking of getting a time share there.

Time to go home...

When I went to fetch the Pea from the Moose estate, I ran into a bit of a pickle. Now, I, Mango, am of the opinion that all labradorks are pretty much interchangeable, so this was a puzzle I was not keen to solve. But Momma seems to think that little Pea is unique, so I put my brains to work.

Clever chap that I am, I quickly put out a bowl of Dexter's favorite food... ROCKS! Aha! Gave yourself away little doofus. Even Moose isn't dorky enough to eat rocks. Sheesh!

Home at last and, frankly, too tired even to be bothered by PeeWee's proximity or to rotate my sleepy photo.

Thanks Miss Sadie! It was a wonderful trip!

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

P.S. To learn more about Mango, Florida, you can click here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless WTF Wednesday

Et tu, Khyra?

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

P.S. Tune in tomorrow for a BIG ADVENTURE!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I FINALLY Get a Bed in the Living Room

I am happy as the next guy to partake of my meditations in the dog cave, particularly when Momma is close by working on the computer.

But I really don't like it when I wake up in there all alone.

I used to have a nice soft bed in the living room so that I could hang out with the family whilst they were watching movies and whatnot, but ever since master redid the room and they got some fancy pants foo foo interior decorator in to help them choose furnitures and carpets and tables, there has not been a soft spot in there upon which I can rest my unusually large and needing a cushion self.

My misery was compounded by the fact that PeeWee has always enjoyed his very own couch in the living room. Even though we allegedly have a "no dogs on furniture" rule, he was somehow able to strike a special deal wherein he gets to use this couch as long as there are no human guests around. Not fair!

Well, good news! I FINALLY convinced the evil witch that she could tuck one of my beds behind the coffee table and it would be out of sight and not in the way of normal "traffic."

What a relief! Now I can be close to my family without having to suffer the discomfort of laying about directly on the floor.

Only problem is that it is kind of a tight fit and I am forced to use the coffee table as an adjunct to my bed. I did try pushing it out of the way, but momma told me that all four legs of the table must remain on the carpet or the deal is off.

So I manage.

I even found a manly brown bed cover to replace that icky purple one (note coffee table is as close to the edge of the carpet as I can get away with).

What the heck?

Hey! Check out this cool Mango pumpkin picture OC sent me! Now THAT would scare the kidlets.

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

P.S. Spare a thought for our good friend, Greg. He works at NPR and has been sent on assignment to the war in Afghanistan for a month. Come home safely, buddy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Goodbye Ellie

Our hearts always melt when we need to say goodbye to one of our friends. Today I learned that sweet Ellie crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I hope that she meets up with my Grandpa Angus for some dale fur flying fun. You will be missed.

12/22/97 - 10/16/10