A blog about my life with dogs.......

Monday, November 7, 2011

Have you heard about the silver fox experiment?

Have you heard about the Silver Fox Experiments? The Silver Fox Experiments have helped scientists learn a lot about the domestication process, helping us understand how wild wolves became our dogs. I find this very intriguing. That said, seeing so many animals in wire cages is somewhat disturbing to me, even in the name of science.

In other news..............
    I've been trying to dream up new tricks to teach the boys. Bugsy and I are working on a form of doggy basketball. His stuffed basketball is his favorite toy. The basketball is this cheap stuffed ball with a squeaker inside. I bought it on a whim while at the grocery store. He loved it so much that I've bought him a few. Heaven forbid the grocery store stops selling them! Back to the trick, the idea is he chases down the basketball, brings it to the 'basket' which is a purple laundry basket and puts it in. Easy enough, right? Well, here's how our training session went.....
(fatal error #1- I haven't used a clicker with him in a while and I didn't "charge it up" before I used it!)
     I tossed the ball across the room and Bugsy ran after it and brought it back to me. I held the basket in front of me as I knelt on the ground placing the basket where he would usually deposit the ball for me to throw again. When he brought it back Bugsy would ever so politely drop the ball in front of the basket. So he didn't get a treat and I would say "uh-oh". Also, I avoided giving him too much eye contact or petting him at all. Bugsy is a love bug and these things are rewards to him. After several throws and retrieves, and me tipping the basket at an inviting angle Bugsy still wasn't getting the hint. He laid down and made a "arrrrroooooohhh" noise.  I imagine him wondering what I could possibly be wanting him to do. So I decided to monitor how close the ball came to the basket and click and treat at a certain distance, then work closer and closer. After a few retrieves he started putting the ball next to, even touching the basket. Ding ding! He got what I wanted! But he wasn't getting the put it into the basket thing at all. Who can blame him, as long as we have been playing fetch I ask him to drop it and I pick it up off the ground. So I decided to try a different route. I picked up the basketball and held it over the basket. "Bugsy, Take it!" I said. By the way, Bugsy is G-R-E-A-T at "take it". He is willing to pick up most familiar and some unfamiliar objects if I point and say "take it".
     As soon as Bugsy took the ball in his mouth I said "drop it" and now we are putting the ball in the basket! Wahoo! I clicked and jackpot treated him. I swear, I could see the little gears in his head turning,trying to figure out which part of what he had done was getting him the reward. We did this a few more times and then took a break. I meant to get back to it later in the day, but a long hike with Bugsy, Comet and Craig, a long sit at the table accounting for our monthly spending's and a stuffed baked squash later the 2nd training session will have to wait for tomorrow. I've got lots of shaping yet to do if this trick is going to turn out. So I wont go blow my bank buying more basketballs, yet.

     Oh Harry. My sweet old man dog. I'm still brainstorming a trick to teach him. Tricks aside, Harry is doing well these days. His arthritis has had me worrying the past few years. So we have taken a proactive multi-route, first I put Harry on a diet. It seemed like one day he was 58lbs then suddenly was 64lbs! In addition to slimming down his diet I have tried to pay special attention to his exercise. In his age he will often choose to lay on the couch all day, never pleading for a walk or a ride in the car. To increase the motion in his limbs we walk slopes and avoid stairs.Harry also takes a supplement to help is joint health.  Over a period of a year and a half he is now down to a comfortable 51lbs and I am observing less limping and more mobility. He's no spring chicken, but today he chased me through the yard!

    Earlier, I mentioned I baked and stuffed a squash. Here is a photo of that post scrape out. I took the insides, some extra scrapings, as well as the seeds and put them into a freezer bag. Later I will cook them a little and serve them to the dogs as part of a meal.

To end this post I'd like to give a good 'ole wag of the tail to My Pet Carnivore. I sure think they're swell. The people are really friendly and the products are great. I have been impressed with the variety and quality they offer. So, if you're raw feeding, or thinking about raw feeding check out the website!

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