Sunday, May 29, 2011

Embarrassing Confession

They say the first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one, so here it is: I'm not potty trained. Well, I mean, I kind of am now, but it's still a work in progress. Let me explain...

When I first got to California and was staying up at the barn, they noticed that I would pee in my bed a lot. I had just been spayed and had a slight UTI, so I was on medication but after that was done I kept on peeing my bed. I would go outside, too, but I really had no problem peeing on my blankets and then sleeping on them. They call that being a "dirty dog" but I didn't see what the big deal was.

When I went to go stay with Ana, she knew I had this problem and began a puppy potty training protocol. At work, we would go outside to the right spot many times a day, especially a short while after drinking water or eating. But the problem is that the world was too exciting, so I would go out and sniff, sniff, sniff, then we would come back in and I would promptly pee on my bed. This lasted a few days, but Ana was patient and very consistent in the routine. She never yelled at me for peeing inside, just made enough noise to interrupt me, and then would take me outside really fast. If she didn't notice I had peed until after the fact, then she wouldn't say anything at all because she knew I would not make the connection that what I had done was bad. For a long time, I would hold it all day or pee on the bed.

At her house it was much easier, since the yard is very small, it is not very exciting so I don't get distracted. Many dogs have peed there before, so I knew what to do. Even though I kept peeing on the doormat, Ana would throw a big party for me and tell me how wonderful I was. I guess she figured the doormat was better than my bed and that I needed to make an association to the word "potty." Every time I would pee or poo on the doormat, she would get really excited and then we'd play a game and I'd get scratches (and then she would curse about how much Nature's Miracle they were going through).

Finally the big day came at work... I peed in the right spot outside of work! Oh man, was that a big party or what! After I did it, I got so many scratches, and we went running up and down the sidewalk. Sure I've made a few mistakes since, progress is never a straight line, but I pretty much know how to potty in that spot now and I'll even do it for other people besides Ana if she's too busy to take me out.

Back at home, Ana decided I was reliable enough that it was time for me to learn to potty in places other than the doorstep. Sometimes feeding a dog where you don't want them to pee is a good way to teach that, but since I eat in my crate, and am still willing to pee there, that was not an option. Instead, she stood on top of my spot. At first I was really confused because I couldn't get to my spot, but after about 20 minutes I finally broke down and did it somewhere else, where I was supposed to. Man, there was a big party then, too!

All these parties are slowly working. Just this week I went potty twice in novel locations: I pooped in Sacramento and I peed in a front yard. These may not seem like big accomplishments for the average dog, but for me they are huge. I'm not totally potty trained yet, but this is progress.

Since this is a stinky process, the other day I got my first bath. Here I am before I knew what was going on.

And this was me after

I love life, can't you tell?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Secret Spots at Sunset

There aren't many places in the city a girl can stretch her legs without running into off leash dogs, but Ana has a few tricks up her sleeve. The other day we went to this cool place underneath the freeway. It was sunset next to the train tracks. I got to run around and sniff a lot of things. Since I'm not allowed off-leash until I'm much, much further along in my training, I stayed on a long line which gave me plenty of room to cut loose.

After I got my kicks out, we practiced some long-distance stays and recall. Here I am staying and looking at some train hoppers in the distance. Isn't the light at sunset beautiful?

It's kind of hard to stay when there's a photographer squatting right in front of you, but I'm trying. Really hard.

Did you say, "take a break"?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Art Appreciation

My foster home is located in the Mission District in San Francisco, an area known for its rich Mexican-American history and vibrant murals.

We were out on a walk this weekend when we ran across a pretty cool one, so Ana made me pose in front of it. She told me this mural was extra special because it was painted by Jesse Hernandez, who is also a volunteer for BAD RAP. In fact, his whole family is uber-involved with pit bull rescue and they're even fostering Zippy.

I felt pretty honored, so I put on my best posing face.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rain Schmain

So the other day it started raining, which was weird because it's nearly summer here in California. Ana insisted I wear a rain jacket so I wouldn't get soaked. It tickled at first and I tried to shake it off but that thing wouldn't budge. Oh well, took about two minutes and then it was like I'd been wearing it my whole life. I wouldn't have picked blue, but it's not the worst color for me.

We go out on training walks several times a day, rain or shine. Ana kept telling me how impressed she was with my ability to deal with the rain. She kept saying something about Californian pit bulls being made of sugar and melting in the rain, but to me that's just nonsense. I'll walk right through puddles, don't mind the wet grass, and I'm not afraid of wet concrete. I mean, check out my awesome down-stay on the wet ground... I'm not even hovering!

Okay, maybe I'm hovering a little, but nothing compared to those weather-wussy California dogs. All I have to say is that if this is the worst it gets, I'll take it!

Bye for now!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Treats

The other day I got my first raw marrow bone.

At first I really didn't know what to do with it. It was too good to be a gift, right? Must have been some sort of trick.

But then I got into it. It was so exciting that it triggered my scratching reflex.

Yeah, I eventually got the hang of it.

And remember that cute head tilt thing I said I can do? Here it is...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Poor documentation

Ana was cursing a lot yesterday. Mostly it was some form of, "Why does the @#!% good camera have to be out of batteries?" Apparently I was doing some pretty adorable and amazing stuff that required documentation, but to me it was just a normal day.

First, we went to work. My job is to hang out on the bed and behave when dogs and people come in. I work really hard.

Then we went out to lunch with Muggy and Donyale. Muggy taught me to be calm no matter what is going on around me. Look at how calm I am! Even when the waitress came by, I didn't jump on her once.

Then I hung out in the car when my roommate Xdog was doing nosework practice. There is a competition in a couple weeks so she and some other dogs are meeting a lot lately. I didn't get what the big deal was, but after all the other dogs were done the other dog handlers thought it would be fun to introduce me to the sport... not to brag, but I am really good at it! Even though it was just my first lesson, I caught on pretty fast and show good, how do you say, "aptitude."

The coolest part was after the class when I realized all the people in the room had food, and boy do I know what to do when there's food.

So one of the cutest things I do is tilt my head when I hear a strange sound. The gurgling of the coffee maker prompts it every morning and I look just like the RCA dog. This is a terrible picture, but you get the idea.

Ana assures me that she will keep the good camera charged from now on. It might be illegal not to get so much cuteness in focus.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let me introduce myself...

Little Ayse

My name is Ayse and I'm from Ohio. I happened to be at the right place at the right time and now my job is to show everyone back home that a little dog like me can succeed.

People tell me I'm smart, but I already knew that. They also say I have a lot of drive, which means I have a strong inner desire to always do something. Basically, I have two modes,"on" and "standby," and I'm always looking for the next activity. In fact, that's probably how I ended up at the shelter in Cleveland, I figured out how to break out of my yard. I could probably pick locks if I put my mind to it.

Anyhow, I came to California on a plane and spent a couple weeks up at a barn. That's where I learned cool tricks like "sit" and waiting for my food. I learned about toys, how to play fetch, and socialized with other dogs. This stuff all came to me very quickly. Since I have so much drive, it was easy to channel it into something for which I could be rewarded. Finally, it all began to make sense!

While I was up at the barn I made friends with a girl named Ana. We have the same color hair. She knew that eventually I'd be ready to learn about the real world and asked to take me home to foster when the time was right. She lives in San Franciso, which is waaaaay different than the barn, but she knew I could handle it.

It's been a really big transition. Every day I see and learn new things. When we go out, I notice everything. I'm the kind of dog that sees the bird on the very top of that tree before you ever will. Not to mention my nose is better than your eyes, and I can smell all the dogs, all the cats, all the food, and all the people that have passed through. Think of every one thing that can get a dog's attention, like a stroller, or a person, or maybe another dog across the street, then multiply that by a hundred and you have the city. Sometimes when so many new things hit me at once I get over-stimulated, my brain shuts off, and I can't hear you anymore (well, I can hear you, but I am not going to do what you ask of me) .

Good thing Ana has a solution for that: we go slow. The more excited I get, the slower we go. My first day it took one half an hour to go one block. She let me sniff everything and explore. I am not afraid, but it is all very exciting until I have learned about it, then it is not so exciting. At the same time we practice "sit" and "come" and I earn my whole dinner on a walk like that. Today I have been in the city almost one week and I went for my first jog. Even though I saw many new things, they are all not so new now and I was able to concentrate on my job as jogging-buddy. By the way, I did really well as jogging-buddy.

Little Ayse and the big bed

Ana tells me that I have to earn my freedom through good behavior, so right now I spend a lot of my time in a crate or on a tie-down. It's good for me, actually. In a kennel I will pace, but the smaller space makes me relax so I sleep a lot now.

I live with a little hairless dog called Xdog (I can't pronounce her real name). We're not really friends yet, so I just call her my roommate. It's kind of like a Craigslist situation where you live together and tolerate each other, but you wouldn't choose to hang out if you didn't live together. Still, we're learning to get along. There's also a cat at this place, which is weird for me since I only know cats from chasing them. This one doesn't run, but I also haven't had the chance to chase it since one of us is always contained when the other is out.

I am really good at learning, even survived my first BAD RAP training class (and did better than everyone thought I would!), so I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me. Everyone keeps telling me I can do anything I put my mind to, and that makes me dream real big.

p.s. don't ask about the silly outfit, these Californians have no idea what cold really is!