Saturday, June 30, 2012

Movie Madness even ...

Today another no Sally day so I actually left her with Big T and Sam and headed to the shoot with Sir Wyn and Brody (along for company only today)

Filming with Wyn was short (he is playing the role of a critically ill dog's sole surviving orphan) but there was lots to do to get the shots the director wanted. I also did a fair bit of work to make sure that the "mom" dog was also comfortable and being taken care of. Quite enjoying the animal wrangling - though the time required is a little more than we had realized.

Friday, June 29, 2012

More Movie Mania

except Sally had no scenes today (she was with me of course - and not too happy to have no work)

this was a quick scene with a bunch of animals in a lab ...

3 rabbits, 5 cats (including Puddles kitten, Travolta and Purdy)  and 4 dogs (including Brody)

all were excellent ...

we got to watch the playback of the scene with the director  which was quite cool - and quite a lot spookier on screen then it was shooting it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mania Two ....

Two Sally scenes shot today  ....

One easy one - her being handled off creep to creep ... through a door to the great outdoors ...

She was a super star for that,  hung back just enough to be appropriate but never enough to wreck the scene

Second one was much tougher for her ... she had to lie on a table and look sickly .. while a vet and her adult family discussed her prognosis ... she did a great job! Impressive girl.

Her work ethic is amazing ... take after take after take ... happily repeating whatever she had to do - the folks on the movie are very sensitive to her needs ....

Ahhhhhh 'gility ...

Fabulous night last night playing on Purple Hill

 We ran a lovely zippy jumpers course to warm up with a nice pinwheel and a couple of fun spots to try different handling ... very neat to see and work through Sally's responsiveness ... she really is a Maserati!

Then switched fields and did a cool opening sequence ...

we played with start lines, Lead Out Pivots, threadles, aframes, funky tunnels and more

then we went up and played with a dogwalk, tunnel and weave thing ...


working through puzzles with three humans all of whom like the thinking part of agility and are willing to try "it" to see what happens, two lovely dogs with great work ethics ...

Sally and I need agility ... all there is to it ...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

film mania ...

First day of shooting done ....

Not the opening scene in the film which I am glad of - I think Sally will really like the opening shots-waiting to make her that happy is probably smart - the last thing I need is for her to be "agility happy" on her way to filming.

There were three separate shots that called for Sally to work. She had to let a stranger grab her leash and pull her out of the back of a van then slam the door shut. She had to jump into the back of a van full of dogs reacting to her and then she had to sit on the bench in the van and look cute.

All easy enough in many ways. All had little challenges though too.

She had absolutely no issue with the character grabbing her out of the van. She worked beautifully for him. She was happy to jump into the back of the van in rehearsal/blocking with me even with the dogs barking in her face (she barked right back at one point  - exactly what would likely happen in the real world).The space for her was tiny. (She had to fit in front of Sugar - the white dog in the bottom right)

 She did not trust the actor quite enough to give him a big jump up. He also inadvertently put pressure on her by applying leash pressure to try to pull her up into the van to help her. That, she wasn't too happy about. It occurred to me that she was finding the pull quite aversive and reacting to it. Every single time I showed her she did it with grace and poise. I was proud of her for working through what to her must have been a fairly confusing experience. Pulls on her leash have never been part of her work. Van tail gates slamming loudly and dramatically down had not been in her experience either. The final scene we did involved her sitting in the van as it pulled into a parking spot. She was hot and tired but quite content to work through it. She did get too hot at one point so I called for water for her. It was brought quite quickly.

What a lovely group of people to be working with!

What wonderful dogs to be working with.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

12 hours

until filming starts. 

Sally is confident, happy, and clueless. I'm wondering what on earth I've gotten us into.

We had fun doing a wardrobe shoot on the lawn this evening. I don't think I've ever purchased a collar and leash for Sally. She also got a "Dinah" tag.

 Serious look!
 Happy Goofy look!
It is always an adventure with Sally. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To Sir With Love

~a short treatise on having responsibility for a neonatal puppy~

Neonatal: "of, relating to, or affecting the newborn infant"

Sir Winston Churchill arrived more neonatal a dog then most people have ever seen. The vet estimated he was 5 days old (making his birth date June 6th) but I now suspect he was probably three days old or so. His umbilical cord had come off but the naval area was quite open and "fresh" (for lack of a better word). His eyes and ears were shut tight -and still are quite closed. He ate every 90 minutes around the clock for a full week with us. He mewled and moaned and made little seagull noises for over a week. Yesterday and today he yipped tiny little baby barks. Last night he slept for one 3 hour block. Excitement is coming easily these days. 

He spends his days in a mesh pet carrier that I'm sure was designed for guinea pigs. He has three water filled latex gloves on top of his round bed and under his towel to give him the sensation of moving puppy bodies around him. (When it's chilly I can heat the water in the gloves and put a warm snuggle safe under them to keep them toasty).

He needs stimulation to keep all his systems functional  - although he has pooped twice by himself now. He has had a couple of little baths to keep him clean and fresh. And I have done a LOT of laundry. 

We have spent two hundred and twenty four hours together already and he has rarely been out of my hearing in that time. He came to the dentist with me and delighted them all. Amazing how something sleeping so soundly can be so appealing. He comes to work with me daily and the timing should be quite good as once he is a more active toddler type puppy I should be on summer break. 

It's amazing how attached you become to something so demanding!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's my reality ...

I am, by nature and by choice, an optimist.  A pragmatic optimist it's true, but still someone likely to see the silver lining in the clouds.

I like to be busy and I tend to get things done. So I get asked to do a fair bit. A couple of good friends remind me to say No sometimes so I heed them as often as I can. (Wow was I good on Friday - I was throwing No's out the way I usually toss please and thank you around!)
I suspect I frustrate them when I don't say no. In that protective "why do you do this to yourself"  kind of way that people feel about choices others make they see going wrong - when a solution seems so simple.

I have a confession though, something that I really don't share publicly or with any one individual. I spread the load occasionally but never on an animal by animal basis. This was hammered home yesterday when I realized my Mum -who is certainly in the top three about knowing what animals are in and out of the house - hadn't even heard of a broken little kitten Big T did amazing therapy work  with until she was adopted last week.

I say no many many times a week. Year round, 52 weeks a year since 1994 I've been saying no more often then I want to - once a week year round and up to 25 or more times a week at this time of year.

I have walked through many shelters making choices about who I can help through a network of foster contacts, my own fostering and a network of rescues. The flip side of that is saying no to many many faces. I get phone calls on a weekly basis and emails on a daily basis asking for help. Again I say yes sometimes and no much more often. People swing by my office at work hoping I can place an animal in need. Same dilemma.

Just say no is a lovely motto. Take care of yourself first is another good one. I appreciate the reminders to do both of these things - and I need the reminders (being an optimist and all) but the reality is if I'm not a little bit stretched I'm likely feeling pretty awful as animals somewhere paid for my No.

I really hate myself when I slap people in the face with my reality. But I suspect Sir Winston Churchill will bring out a sleep deprived whine or two from me that may leave you wondering why  I didn't just say no.

just a few photos of a few of the reasons No is not easy 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Quoting myself all over the place ...

To bed at 1 last night (thanks to a rarely seen friend sleeping over!), up at 2:30 -3:00, 4:30-5:00 and 6:45 for the day ... I hear you now - Suck it up Buttercup!
Why you ask?
The answer:

Dragged my sorry self up to agility on the Hill tonight - wondering if it would rain, if I could keep my eyes open, if Brody and Sally would recall any agility at all after a long break .... they were very happy!

the sun came out - the wind was fresh and lovely, the dogs were HAPPY and we had fun running standard  and jumpers masters courses from regionals. FUN!
Hung out with Theory too - adopted over a year ago I just love seeing her :) She's Sallyesque in her love of the world and her smarts!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Suck it up Buttercup ...

No not you, I would never tell you to suck it up  ... but ...

Sally channeled her doggy self today and ate a wild baby rabbit ... she killed another but she left it for me - she was quite happy to share her great find with me - generous soul that she is. As I thought about pitching a hissy fit and being grossed out I told myself to suck it up buttercup. Sally is a gentle sweet soul who actually has a fairly low prey drive but is fascinated by movement. She seems to know what belongs in our house too - curious about chickens, rabbits, parrots, cats and kittens without ever even being rude.

Our current foster kitten - he makes our heart melt - hence his name  Puddles! Sally loves him.
Thinking about my own reaction  to her natural being made me think about all the other time Suck it up Buttercup could apply in life (and agility). Many of the can'ts and wills could be answered in this way. I can't lead out. My dog will knock a jump after a straight tunnel (or miss a contact in a particular situation, or only weave one side, or whatever). Suck it up Buttercup. You trained (or didn't!) it - deal with it. Many of the "my dogs"  quirks can also be addressed in this fashion. My dog hates poodles, will be distracted if you open a bag,  doesn't like barking, can smell it if you have cookies in your pocket - whatever! Suck it up Buttercup. Deal with it, ignore it or do something about it. Your choice.

All there is to it really!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Yup, it's back ...

The blogger day of action has returned with the topic of Attitude. I have written about my attitude towards agility and competition and my dog's attitudes many times before. I have been wrestling with this particular post for what feels likes weeks now.
Attitude can be so many different things.
Positive or negative, deliberate or not we all carry it with us.

Once upon a time, about 19 years ago, in a large large city the Airmiles program was being introduced.  A client bought gas and went into the station to pay. The clerk asked if they wanted to sign up for airmiles. The client said "no", abruptly and rudely.  The clerk, having been recently trained in the joys of Airmiles Reward program was not deterred. They persisted in hawking this amazing, spectacular, free program. The client was quite desperate to escape and getting shorter and shorter with the chit chat. The clerk persisted until the client actually shouted and stormed out of the store.

I was present that day, I was the client. I am still horrified by that day. I will never forget it. I still, silently, apologize to the clerk in the store every time I drive past that location. I tell the story every year as I try to help my students understand that all kinds of factors can influence people's attitudes and we can never get in the mind of another person. I was driving urgently needed medical supplies from the hospital my grandfather was dying in to the bedside of my also dying aunt. They were both dead within 12 hours of this incident and I was one of the primary caregivers for both of them.  That clerk had absolutely no need to suffer from my lousy, self centered attitude. She pushed my buttons, it's true, but she also taught me a huge lesson. Now when someone is short with me I work hard to recall that day and that lesson. People look at things from their own perspective and set their own priorities: being nasty does nothing positive for anybody. I wasn't even all that nasty (and I did pay my bill) but I am not proud of that moment in any way shape or form.

I apply this lesson at trials. If a gate steward is a little, ummm,  hyper I make sure they know where I am. If I'm first on the line (which happens amazingly often to me so I'm quite fine with it) I am ready to run before the judge is in position. If something truly awful has happened I warn the people I am volunteering with and carry on. There are times attitude really is nearly everything.

In the mode of playing  training dogs an honest look at where one's head is so important. If your attitude sucks it seems pretty likely that the work you accomplish will not be stellar either. How can you just change your attitude though? It seems to be trickier for some people than others.

Self evident that our attitude affects our dog's attitude? You'd think so eh? But the cycle can work the other way round too. I get positively INFECTED with joy when I stand on a start line with any of the three pooches here. Their joy rushes up the leash into my hand and up my arm into my heart and brain.

I am so very fortunate!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

and Sally's news ...

Sally inspired the photo shoot  in the field today as she needs a little tuning ...

She is going to be filmed in movie called Saving Dinah .. she has been cast as Dinah. Gulp. She has a myriad of scenes. Many of which are pretty natural for her - I can already tell you her favourite shoot will be the fetching the ball day! Some are a little more complex. Opening a crate is one -  something I've actually been trying to discourage gently but I guess it goes on cue now!

Fascinating process so far - I've done quite a lot of tv work with animals and a little stage work but a movie is new to me and all of this is new to Sally - fingers crossed we can muddle through it ok.
Sally has a page on FaceBook now as per her director's request.(Feel free to 'like' Sally the entertainer - you'll recognize her - but if you don't the link is   with the oursally carefully chosen) So far she has been her most excellent self.

Portraits of happiness 

and gratitude too - Big T started cutting the agility field ... Yay for us!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby!


the goof ball is 3 (yesterday in fact!)

2.5 years have passed in the blink of an eye

For the first time  since he's arrived he had totally normal bloodwork on his last check -may that trend continue!
Here's to many more years of fun!