Friday, November 12, 2010

Getting Savvy

Things have been progressing slowly but surely. Bella is so eager to pick things up for me and I've slowly started to make her bring items from the floor at a distance and also to bring them towards me. I really like to see her think, she is learning to try her luck and doesn't shut down anymore if things don't work out the first time. She's also getting a lot better with distractions (as long as they don't go woof or miaow).

After a hard workout it's really cozy to take a nap in the sofa.

Sometimes it's even better to conquer my normal resting place.

I also figured out I could perhaps teach her to pull an IKEA bag and fill them. Lightweight and disposable in case training sessions go too far. And speaking of that, I really need to chase my socks that don't land in the laundry basket nowadays. She loves picking them up and running AWAY with them. I think she knows I rather want her to do the opposite and because I care for my socks it's an easy ticket to wake me up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Iron Woman

After being diagnosed with borderline iron deficiency my energy is coming back through iron pills and viamin C to help absorb the iron! I'm also trying to lay off the dairy except for the occasional indulgence. I survived today without a nap, that's impressive in my books!

Bella is now pretty consistent with picking things up, I need to up the ante and get her to bring them to me. I've been able to throw her cow toy and she'll come racing back with it but with objects she picks up she holds them a bit and then releases before coming towards me for the reward. I actually also need to get a basket or something where I can teach her to put items into. So much to do, I barely know where to begin.

I got a little bit of comparison today as my cousin's dog is now picking her daughter's toys up for her. I was quite jealous to hear it! With a small dog, I also think I'll need to teach Bella to stand up on her hind legs to hand me items so I don't need to bend down to take them from her. With my bad back, I can definitely see that as an asset. All in good time. My cousin has several years' worth of experience in owning dogs and has been training her two bitches for search and rescue work. I'm not going to compare me and Bella to that. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Yellow Card

It would seem that the day I will be considered unfit to work draws nearer. I was informed that in an appointment I had with my midwife yesterday.

Unfortunately, limping and pain when standing up or moving around is a part of my daily life now. About two months ago I was able to take Bella for 30 minute walks without being off, now walking her a 5-10 minute route near our home usually has me limping or near-limping in the end and done for afterwards. I must confess that most days the past two or three weeks I just don't feel like I can do it.

I quite enjoy my job but it has gotten more difficult since I got pregnant. Another side effect of my pregnancy is excruciating pain in my lower back if I sit for too long. My back just can't handle what's going on. I never sit at home anymore except when I eat but most of the time I must work sitting down. My employer has been helping me find solutions that have kept me fit to work so far, like changing the shifts and shortening them. I am now down to 50% work load and with short shifts my lower back doesn't get time enough to complain. Now all the pain walking, twisting of hips and the creaking (yes, my hips creak like an old haunted timber house at times) is making these short shifts more difficult to endure.

For now, I am fit and capable at work but I admit I will also be relieved when I stop. I can tell that every shift takes more energy to complete than before all this started. I'm usually done for the day after I come home, which isn't the home life I want to be having!

The good news is that Bella is really enjoying to take things or pick them up for me! Especially if I slip her a piece of her feed. She even picked up a sock of mine, which I thought of trying after she came running with it and was preparing to play with it. She was very enthusiastic in taking it up for me but when I thought of using my phone camera to shoot a short video of it she got a little confused and acted like she had no clue what I was asking. So I put it away and then she picked the sock up for me once again.

Me and my fiancé also took her out to let her run loose and had some tasty treats with us. We put some distance between the two of us and called her back and forth. She loved the exercise (and treats!) and got some sprint running done at the same time.

However, after the outing I caved in and am now sick on top of everything else!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Friday on a Wednesday

Winter is here with bitter cold and chilly winds yesterday and rather quite christmassy snow this evening. Bella was overexcited and surprised when I took her out in front of our house after work. She ran back and forth like crazy, trying to bite at the snow and figure out what is going on.

Inside my home, things are looking up. Bella is showing consistency in taking objects and even if I used another one of her toys she picked it up from the floor when she had figured out that there was food on offer. Maybe I will be able to get the laundry dog I want afterall!

I now have the next three days off from work so I am sure we can get up to something fun now that the ball is rolling.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quarter of a Century

Today it's my 25 year old birthday and it was a pretty good Monday. I started by paying the final deposit on my apartment and signed the ownership transfer. It feels a bit unreal as me and the fiancé have been living here for 11 months now. Now we're officially responsible.

I was a bit lazy with training this weekend but yesterday and today I had taken a few short sessions with Bella reinforceing the sit and lie commands. She sits like a pro most of the time but as I had mentioned, lying down isn't as natural to her. She always obeys in the end though and I can now make her lie down from a standing position. I have also been teaching her to stand up from the lie and sit positions.

Bella was however very kind to me -and I'd like to consider it a birthday present from her to her worried dog owner- regarding the 'take' command we've been working on. I have a chik-fil-a cow that a US friend kindly sent to me ages ago and is now an indestructible toy Bella has claimed. I asked her to take it for me and she did so I decided to reward her with food even if I had sworn not to do that for a while. She got excited about the food and I decided to lie down in the sofa and dangle the toy a bit. She wasn't going to bite first but then she took the cow twice. Like the proud owner I am I got super excited, praised her and gave her more food. Then I was going to call it a day and let the toy on the floor. Bella wasn't quite content and did what I hadn't managed with the clicker alone, went and tried to figure out what I wanted her to do with it! She picked it up! yay! I got even more excited and gave her more food and put it again on the floor which triggered the same fumbling which resulted in her taking it again. Not once but twice? woohoo!
Looks like the mix of play and treats is paying off. We're both learning to tune ourselves to the same wavelength, it's exciting!

The interesting thing is that I have been using dog food as treats lately. We are mixing two foods as we plan to change feed and I'm intrigued with the idea of giving the dog its food as treats and making it work for its dinner. So she gets the new feed as treats and old food as meals. She's really keen on the dog food as treats, although I still use hot dogs as a point of interest around other dogs!