Monday, March 28, 2016

Adorable and Smart

Archie has it all wrapped up in one feisty smooth fox terrier package.

He got the nod from the instructor of his puppy class to advance to a beginning agility class—she said that he had a “solid foundation.” (preen, preen)

Yesterday, the last day of our spring break, there was just enough sun in the afternoon to take Archie’s training session outside. I had mowed the backyard on Friday so there was a relatively smooth surface for us to run around on. It’s been a battle with the grass: the non-stop rain makes it grow quickly, but there’s so much standing water that I often can’t mow in between rainstorms.

I’ve been working with him in the living room on the skill of going out around a cone. The determination of whether he goes to the left or right side of the cone depends on his position relative to me when I send him to the cone. That is, if he starts heading for the cone from my right side, he goes to the right side of the cone and turns back to me. I’ve been increasing the distance but that is pretty limited in the house!

So during our allotted five minutes of sun that day, I set up two cones and my tiny table with no legs. He’d never seen two cones at one time and he’d certainly not seen the tiny table. But his mat training is pretty solid so he picked up the concept of the table in just a few clicks: get on it, sit, and wait to be released. I gradually moved farther and farther from the table before releasing him and that seemed pretty solid. I then played some “ready, ready, go” games to send him to the table with speed and that seemed pretty solid.

Then I asked Archie to make a huge conceptual leap: sequencing. Cone-cone-table. Table-cone-table-other cone. I started slipping in front and rear crosses. Rate of reward was high but there was always a treat after he completed at least two obstacles in a row.

Archie didn’t even blink. No missteps. No hesitations. He even figured out on his own that instead of wrapping the cone in a tight 180 like he does in the living room, if I was heading to the table or the next cone, he needed to change the angle of his exit from the cone to also head in that direction.

I made absolutely sure to stop while he was high and happy. I can’t wait until the weather starts to dry out so we can play outside more regularly.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Joy = Puppy

Like most puppies, Archie assumes that anyone he meets, regardless of species, must be as interested in him as he is in them. That's generally true of the human species: who among us is immune to the cuteness of puppies? Archie is attending puppy class in large part to make sure he isn't an annoying asshole in public.

As I mentioned a post or two ago, the Beast seems to think that whatever Archie wants is just fine by him. But who uses a cat as an arbiter of decency and good behavior? Cats are aliens, have no doubt about this. Mimi, who by necessity inherited the mantle of resident CrankyPants from Harry, has other ideas. She has a remarkable level of tolerance for puppy bumbling but she does have her limits. 

Azza has no limits for puppy bumbling. She exploits every excuse to incite the puppy to even greater heights of silliness.

I give you this as evidence: Azza and Archie collapsed together after an excess of exuberant and joyful play...

Friday, March 18, 2016

An Early Arrival

Anna's hummingbirds remain in the Pacific Northwest during the winter so I've regularly cleaned and filled my feeder, even moving it to a more sheltered spot next to the house so that it was less likely to freeze. During December and January, I would take it in at night. The feeder is monitored twice daily by a male Anna's. Sometimes a female shows up, sometimes another male Anna's drops by, but mostly it's this one male.

The male Anna's knows both me and the dogs and will come into the feeder even if we are walking around in the yard. So it caught my notice a couple of weeks ago when a tiny, very skittish, orange-ish hummer starting showing up.

In the summer, I have up to five species of hummers show up. One of these is the rufous hummingbird. They are distinctive birds with their coppery backs, black wings, white neck ring, and iridescent red throats. I had both male and female rufous hummers visit my feeder last summer.

It's a male rufous, possibly a young one because he is extremely tiny. I have definitively identified him after numerous sightings, made rather difficult because he'd flit off if he even saw me through the kitchen window. I finally got a photo, not the best because it was taken from inside the house through dirty glass and a screen. I had to hide around the corner and slowly extend the camera out so that this little guy wouldn't zip away in fear.

He's here far too early in the season, I think. I hope he survives until the weather warms up. I've been thinking that I will set up a second feeder to increase his chances.

My First Diagnosis?

Take a look at this:

Yep. That thin, curved tooth is a retained deciduous canine tooth (baby tooth). I've never seen it before but it's apparently common enough. I've been watching this situation for a couple of weeks, waiting for the darned things to come out on their own. But the adult canines came in farther forward along his jaw instead of directly behind the baby canines, so they didn't properly push the baby canines out.

Archie is scheduled for oral surgery on Wednesday!

Diary of A First-Year Vet Student: I Thought It Would Never End

I am now about 15% of the way to being a DVM. Sounds daunting, doesn't it? Believe me, it is.

We finally finished this winter term. With no breaks or holidays since MLK day in January, which occurred during the second week, and with 4 quizzes or major exams every week of the term, many of us were getting pretty wobbly towards the end.

For our gross anatomy lab final, we had cadaver specimens of cats, dogs, ferrets, rats, chickens, pigeons, horses, and cows (just the heads of the latter two species; we'll study the rest of them next term). The written part of the final included questions on all of these species plus hamsters and gerbils.

Our microanatomy final was comprehensive for both this term and the last term. Just ponder that! Stained slides of every single tissue type that can be found in animal bodies was fair game for that final. Studying for it was overwhelming but I gritted my teeth and plodded forward.

But I now have ten days of no vet school to look forward to.

My plan is to do none of this:

Somehow, all of this made it into my brain in 10 weeks. The notes will be archived for when I have to study for the board exam.

and much more of this:

I can't seem to get enough photos of CircusK9 catching the obligatory 5 minutes of sun we are allowed each day. Descriptions of the rain this winter have surpassed "biblical" and are now approaching "mythical".

or weather permitting, more of this:

It's still winter here in the Pacific Northwest. But sometimes the obligatory 5 minutes of sun occurs in the afternoon so it is warm enough to sit outside.

Monday, March 07, 2016

I Blame The Cat

Archie is growing like a little weed. An athletic, naughty little weed. To keep the naughtiness down to a low roar, he still has to navigate plenty of rules. If he goes outside and has a big, satisfying pee before I get in the shower, I allow him to run around with the other dogs. If he goes outside and farts around, he gets to sit in his crate while I shower. He's a quick learner. Today, he got to run around the house.

They still get into plenty of trouble but at least I know he won't pee on the floor somewhere.

I finished up in the bathroom this morning and went on a hunt for the dogs, only to discover Archie dragging the cat across the living room by his head. Just like Azza.

Good grief.