Saturday, December 17, 2011

Maestro's Agility Adventures Part 2 and The Joys of Dog Sitting

Maestro and I had our last Agility class today. We absolutely loved it! I can't believe how fast Maestro picked it up. Over the course of the class we learned regular jumps, the tunnel, the pause table, and the dog walk. I really think that we're going to continue with our agility training because we had such a blast! Maestro just did everything so enthusiastically! I have a lot to learn as a handler, of course, but I'm certainly up for the challenge! I think I'm going to coerce one of my friends to help me make some agility equipment so we can practice at home too. It's just such a good way to challenge him mentally and a way for him to put all of his energy to use! Anybody who has a dog with an abundance of energy should definitely give agility a try.

We've also been dog sitting this weekend! Burton the two year old leonberger has been sleeping over with us and we're having a blast. He's such a great dog and Maestro LOVES him. I think Maestro really loves when we dog sit because that way he gets a constant playmate. He's always a little sad when a dog goes home after staying over for a little while. Luckily, he still gets to see most of our clients on their walks!

It's weekends like this when I realize how much I love my job! I get to spend time with so many different kinds of dogs and I couldn't be happier about it. I've always loved giant dogs so having Burton over has been delightful! Makes me want a giant little brother for Maestro. Thanks for coming over to play Burton! We're glad to have you!

Meet Taylor!

Taylor is one of our newer clients and we couldn't be happier to have her as a part of the Boston Bruff! family! She's a year and half old boxer mix who was rescued from the South. We're so glad to have her here in Boston!

Taylor is an absolute sweetheart. She adores people and is always trying to get a good snuggle in. Not only that, but she's already great friends with Maestro. The two of them romp joyfully on leash whenever we visit the park near her house.

She also looooves food! She'll happily sit for a treat and is very polite on the leash. Thanks for being such a darling dog, Taylor! We love getting to walk you each week!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maestro tries Agility!

I admit it.

I'm definitely the dog owner equivalent of a crazy soccer mom. I schedule all sorts of organized activities for my dog. I've driven an hour to take Maestro to herding lessons (and I've gotten up at 5am to take him to an all day herding clinic!). We've gone to obedience class. We've attended Yappier Hour (an event hosted by a local hotel where dogs and their owners can come to an outdoor bar to mingle and drink cocktails). We have play dates with Maestro's doggy friends. You name it, we've tried it!

I can't help it! I love spending time with Maestro and I'm addicted to trying new things. So the poor little guy is subjected to my every whim when it comes to doggy activities.

So our latest endeavor? Agility! I've ALWAYS wanted to try out agility with Maestro, but I was told I had to wait until he was a year old to start it. As soon as he turned one (last month) I was immediately on the prowl for an affordable agility class.

I stumbled upon a place called "Magical Mutt" and decided to sign Maestro up for their Agility for Fun class.

Well, we've taken two classes so far and we are loving it! The first class was just sort of a dog introduction class. The instructor had us working with our dogs to see where we were in our training and how well they knew basic commands (sit, stay, come, down). I was very proud of Maestro! He did a great job with all of his commands, but that's probably just because he was getting so many treats...

One thing I liked about the class immediately is that there were only two other dogs in the class! So each  one of us got a ton of individual attention. So even though the first class was just the basics Maestro and I still had a great time. I think it's really good for him to have some practice doing his commands when there are other dogs around to distract him. He loves other dogs so sometimes that's a challenge for him.

The second class was a BLAST! We worked on three different obstacles. The first one was the "Pause" table which is just a table where your dog has to either hold a down or sit for five seconds before you cue them off of the table. Maestro had no problem with that! The second obstacle was the jump (the one I was most excited for!) and he picked up on that really quickly too! The last one we did was a hoopy thing...which isn't a real obstacle in agility, but it was good for the dogs to get used to having something above them when jumping through obstacles. At first Maestro just ran around the side of it as if to say "Silly human! I don't have to jump through the hoop to get to you!". But after some encouragement he made it through! Not only that, but the trainer let us try it off leash and he did it!! He didn't even try to run towards the other dogs! Again, I'm sure the abundance of treats kept him focused, but that was still some great progress for him!

I can't wait for next weeks class! If any of you have dogs with extra energy to burn I highly recommend this Agility class! The instructor is great, the content is fun, and it's not too hard to get to either!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ramsey's Story

I was recently lucky enough to foster an amazing pup named Ramsey. We had no intention of fostering a dog when I first stumbled upon his page on petfinder. In fact, the only reason I was on petfinder at all was because I wanted to help Kyler find a puppy!

While I was browsing petfinder I stumbled upon Ramsey's sister Ellie and her page read "URGENT: Just discovered Ellie and her siblings are living outside in the cold! Need foster homes ASAP so these babies can have a warm place to stay when the cold weather hits!".

I immediately copied the link and shared it on facebook, hoping that somebody I knew would be able to foster the poor cold puppy! Not really thinking  I'd be able to do it.

Well my roommate Lauren responded with "Why can't we foster her?!".  And after discussing it we realized that none of us could resist! So I e-mailed the woman who ran the rescue organization (which was based in Arkansas) and inquired about Ellie.

It turned out Ellie already had a foster home lined up (Yay!), but her brother Ramsey hadn't received any inquiries. So the woman asked if we'd foster him instead. Well, OF COURSE! She told us his entire story. He was the product of an accidental litter and the owner of his mother was keeping him and his siblings locked up outside in a kennel. He had never been inside before. Never walked on a leash. Never interacted with any other dogs besides his siblings. And the worst part? The woman tried to have them euthanized! She brought them to the vet to have them killed, but the vet refused because they were healthy, non-aggressive dogs.

The woman running the rescue was very honest with us. She told us that he was very fearful, refused to walk on a leash, and wasn't house trained at all. We were a little worried, but at the same time that just made us want to help this poor guy more!

So a few days later Lauren and I went to the parking lot of a Walmart in Hudson, New Hampshire to pick up Ramsey. He was brought up to New England by a group called Alpha Dog Transport. An amazing group that makes weekly road trips up North to rescue dogs from kill shelters in the South.

It was incredible watching all of the dogs being uploaded from the trailer to greet their new families! We were about third in line and a very sweet man carried Ramsey out of the trailer saying "This one is just a big baby!" before setting him down in front of us.

Poor Ramsey was clearly terrified, but we did our best to comfort him. In time he started to follow us on leash and we joyfully encouraged his every step. Eventually we got him into our car and soon discovered his keen interest in Lauren's apple juice. He happily lapped it up then slept the entire ride back to Boston.

Once we got home it was astonishing how quickly Ramsey adjusted to his new life. Initially he was wary of Maestro, but after a day or so they were romping together just like old friends. Not only that, but Ramsey started picking up on house training right away. Sure, he had accidents, but we started making progress with him immediately. And he was smart! Already learning sit and down within the first couple of days! We were so proud of him!

After only a couple of days with Ramsey we had somebody interested in adopting him. A kind gentleman and his wife who lived out in Western Mass. They had a big fenced in yard, another dog (named Betty!), and the man was looking for a doggy companion to accompany him on his fishing trips.

It sounded like a pretty perfect match. So they came to meet him and even though Ramsey was very shy with them at first, they decided they wanted to adopt him! The wife hugged me and said "Thank you so much for taking care of him!" and I knew Ramsey would be happy in his new home.

So how's Ramsey doing now? Well, it seems like he's fitting in with his new family perfectly! They e-mailed me this past weekend and said:

"Marie wasn't thrilled when she learned "Ramsey" was also a condom. So we changed his name to "Jake". Simple, and also slang for firefighter. He's doing just great, we love having him".

Ha! We had no idea Ramsey was also a condom, but I sure am glad he got a nice new name. He's pictured here with his new big sister, Betty. I swear he already looks bigger than when we had him! I'm so happy that Jake got to be a part of our lives, even for a short time, and it's amazing to know that he wound up in such a great home.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Training Tip Tuesday: Teaching Your Dog Sit!

We've just finished our first official Training Tip Tuesday video! I know a lot of our lovely clients have already mastered "Sit", but in case you need a refresher, or if you've gotten a new puppy hopefully this video will help you!

While we do use Clicker Training in this video any type of verbal word marker works (I'm a big fan of "Good boy!")! All you really need for training is a whole lot of small treats and, of course, your pup!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meet Jace!

Jace is a very handsome young Rottweiler. He our biggest client, but of course, he is also one of our biggest love-bugs. Jace is wonderfully trained (sit, stay, down, paw, and lots more) and gets to go out in his backyard everyday to hang out. He is a very loyal dog with the most adorable grumble you can imagine; it is like a cat purring, but it is his way of telling us that we found “the spot.”

Jace’s mom told us when we met him that he may be skeptical at first, but once you get to know him, you will have a friend for life. I have to say, she was exactly right. Jace listens very well, is very respectful, and when we go out in the back yard, after business and sniffing, we do lots of belly rubs and ear scratching; his favorite. I look forward to my time with Jace everyday. He definitely is my newest friend!

Boston Bruff Presents Trick Tip Tuesday!

One thing I've always loved to do with Maestro is to teach him fun tricks. It's a great way for me to bond with him and to challenge his doggy brain! Basic obedience, of course, is the most important (and we'll go over things like sit, down, stay, and come). But why stop there? Dogs love to learn new things and have a blast trying to figure out what behaviors can get them a tasty, tasty treat.

Here's the best part! Kyler is getting a puppy on Saturday (yay!) and we thought it would be fun to document him through the training process! So each Tuesday we'll show Maestro demonstrating the trick alongside Kyler's puppy learning the behavior step by step.

To get you excited about Trick Tip Tuesday we've made a video of all the tricks that Maestro currently knows. Enjoy!