Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall In New England

November is here and with it comes the beautiful colors of Fall, the cool temperatures of Autumn and the threat of winter. When I was younger I use to dread this time of year because I love the warm weather and being outside and always thought of November as a depressing month. As I get older though and my children grow up I have found things to like about this time of year. Though I love the summer, I have to say the Fall is welcomed relief from all the humidity and heat of the summer months. At our house we consider Fall “dog weather”. Our Goldens love the change in season and love to run in the woods and swim any chance they get. They will swim until the ponds and lakes are frozen so cold temperatures don’t bother them in the least. They love to run in the woods but where we like to walk it is hunting season this month which makes our walks a little more risky. A blaze orange bandana, a cow bell on the collar and bright orange hats for the humans is a necessity so as not to be mistaken for a deer J ! We try not to walk anywhere where there would be hunters but sometimes trails and wooded areas overlap or are not clearly marked and you never know. In November we tend to do the longer hikes on Sundays where there is not suppose to be any hunting. Some of my favorite memories of dogs past were made walking a quiet trail on a crisp Fall day, leaves crunching underfoot and my goldens running full tilt , ears flying, tongues lolling, a look of complete joy on their faces. Eye candy for those cold winter days when I can’t bear to be outside for more than a 1/2 hr before I want to come in and warm up !

During the summer, the nice weather makes being outside high on my priority list, the Fall and winter starts to invite more down time indoors and with that extra time the chance to work on some training projects and catch up on my reading. I usually have a very long list of books I want to read, some fiction, some non-fiction. Training books tend to pile up on my bookshelf while I get through all the other things I have to do and I look forward to finally getting to read them. Journals and magazines also start falling into that category and they are so full of good information I can’t wait to get through them. I am always amazed that despite having 20 yrs experience training dogs there is always something new and fresh in my reading that I can share with my clients and the dogs I train. This year I am hoping to get back to teaching more tricks and getting more of the started behaviors on cue. I’m sure that this happens to you too, but I am guilty of having started to teach a lot of fun behaviors but never actually put them on a reliable cue. Every once in a while I get serious about finishing what I’ve started and go back and get those started behaviors on cue.

Recently I was asked to provide Golden Retriever puppies for a photo shoot for Oreck vacuums. The producer wanted cute fluffy golden pups for both the still shots of the model with the vacuum and a short commercial where the pups had to sit on a white chair while the model vacuumed and them jump off the chair and leave the set. Luckily I had bred a litter and had access to the pups so it was a cinch to provide them with what they needed. The producer, photographer and camera people had really good animal sense and had very reasonable expectations. The pups were only 10 wks old so they were not expected to hold a stay or pose but because they had so much socialization and handling, thanks to my wonderful staff and puppy families and friends, they not only went along with everything we wanted they lasted a really long time. The staff could not believe how long these little puppies worked for before they needed a break. We accomplished everything in 2hrs and they were thrilled with the results. This just goes to show you that the real work of raising a well adjusted dog goes into the time you put socializing the dog and teaching him basic rules of living with people, including the quirky stuff. It’s not so much the trained on cue behaviors that are so important, it’s the handling of the feet, ears, holding, picking up, brushing, grooming, handling feet, trips to new places, noises, dogs, cats, kids, and all different types of people. If you live in the city go and explore the country, if you live in the country go and explore the city. Don’t just go once and think you’re done, go on a regular basis until nothing fazes your pup. Scared pups need slower more careful socialization, bold pups need to learn moderation in all these new environments, both personalities need frequent field trips to these places so that they acclimate and process the experience and learn from it. Whenever I have an experience like this I remember how important the basics are and even though it’s fun to teach fancier behaviors that are polished and on cue they will never be more important than building a strong foundation for learning and surviving in our crazy world. A pup who is given a lot of social experiences is ready for life and can learn anything you care to take the time to teach him as an adult dog. This is comforting as the list of “things I want to finish teaching the dogs” grows longer each year.

The schedule for the New Year is finally finished and should be posted on the website soon. We have added a lot of fun classes for our clients who want to come out and have fun with their dogs. We are offering a Tricks class, Fun and Games, and Agility in addition to our Beginners 2 and Intermediate Obedience classes. We hope you can come join in the fun !! We are also offering some seminars including two new offerings that we think you might enjoy. In addition to our very well attended and popular Dog Speak Seminar we are offering a Dog Chiropractic Seminar which will be presented by Dr Sheryl Russell a human and animal chiropractor and a Raw Feeding Talk offered by a fellow breeder/groomer Shannon Gervais. Shannon owns 3 of my Goldens and has been feeding raw and raising her dogs naturally for many years. Paul and I have been raising our dogs on raw food and using alternative medicine for years now and we want to share some of what we have learned through these offerings. There is always something new to learn and improve in raising dogs and we are working hard to bring them to our clients who want to learn more. We hope that you will join us.

Enjoy the nice Fall weather and get outside and enjoy your dogs !!!

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