Friday, October 31, 2008

Hot Dog!

Hot Dog!

This month there have been any number of synchronicities and general happenings around hot dogs - here are a few:
  • The MSH had a category "hot dog" for which I submitted the above photo
  • Despite being told not to feed a dog pork I've also been told by lots of people that sausages, and in particular hot dogs, are wonderful as treats during training
  • Jim likes the children's cartoons about Charlie and Lola - he showed me one he'd recently recorded that featured Lola "training" a friends dog who is called Sizzles and "will do anything for sausages" - after watching it we went out and for the first time met a dachshund in the park
  • Soon after this I bought a fox from the dog toys available at the vets... Jim then pointed out that Lola had a fox toy she's got Sizzles to play with... not so much a synchronicity as suggestion!
    Who is sleeping in my bed?
  • We've enrolled on a puppy training course and one of the recommended training treats is hot dogs - when I saw the price of the ones specifically for dogs I was rather amazed - when asked the trainer said that those for human consumption were okay for dogs... so I got a tin from Tesco but I didn't like them much... then yesterday I was in Waitrose and not thinking about hot dogs at all when I overheard a woman rejecting the jar of Frankfurters that some Waitrose staff had found for her and then being led off to the fresh ones in the chillers.

    I stooped down (they were on the bottom shelf) and picked them up - it was the last jar there! And they are altogether nicer than the Tesco ones... if I have to share sausages with my dog these will do!

    I also looked at the ones in the chillers but they won't last long enough... Teasel is so small she only needs about quarter of a sausage to make lots and lots of treats!
  • We've been out with hot dogs as rewards for coming when called a couple of times - she is pretty good at coming for these... the day I forgot them and attempted to use less tasty dried treats she seemed to go deaf ;-)
Yesterday in the park was this little girl in her Halloween costume a little early:

Cat meets Dog

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crossed Wires!

You Don't Say

Last night Jim and I played "You Don't Say" a game invented by Karen Pryor to teach clicker training through experiencing it. In each round of the game one person is the learner, the other the teacher. No one speaks. Only the teacher clicks. (Anyone else present watches, and probably laughs.)

It comes with all sorts of small objects, a clicker and a little booklet giving various games to play.

As the leaner one simply reads the learner's section that pretty much tells you the idea is to explore the things on the table and to collect tokens. Every time one does something the teacher wants to encourage one gets clicked and each click earns a token.

The teachers section is a bit longer and gives instructions for several different games.

As I started off playing the learner I didn't have any idea what the teacher's instructions were until after the game.

I started off touching various objects on the table - when I got to the red dinosaur I got my first click - yippee!

I bounced the dinosaur up and down vigorously in front of Jim. Jim clicked some more. Then he realised that although he'd clicked me he hadn't given me any silver tokens. I'd forgotten about the tokens too - I wasn't yet "conditioned" to getting a token for a click - so I was especially delighted to get several along with the clicks my enthusiastic bouncing had caused.

I think he thought I'd been so bouncy because I hadn't had my token... and maybe some where deep inside me that was true but it wasn't conscious.

I now proceeded to play with the dinosaur a lot - I put it in various places and on me in lots of ways - I sat on it, decorated myself with it - my favourite place was behind my ears - made it bite other things, etc. and I was getting clicks and tokens but it also seemed like I wasn't doing whatever it was that he wanted me to do with it... and then he held up the Queen of Spades.

I felt like he'd thrust it far too close to me and rather aggressively (I'm long-sighted and it was too close to focus on). Oh oh I thought - I've been black-carded! That must mean stop; whatever I'm doing isn't right... yet he also clicked me and gave me a coin... confusing! Okay that must mean I'm right about the dinosaur but I need to do something different with it...

I then tried several different things with the red dinosaur and all of them seemed to earn me the black card, plus clicks and coins... what was I doing wrong? What else could I do with it? What on earth had I missed out? Why did I keep getting clicks and coins when I'd been black carded?

Then Jim took away the dinosaur!

I was bereft. I'd obviously been very naughty and got it all wrong...

I picked up all the other things that were left - and I got a click and a coin! Oh maybe the point was to pick up everything except the dinosaur! I shook them and threw them about... I wasn't really aware of what was getting clicked and what wasn't at this stage.

Then as I was picking up all the pieces off the floor I happened to be holding the blue die. Now what do you do with one of these? Roll it of course! So I did. I got lots of clicks and lots of tokens.

In fact I'd got all the tokens... and then Jim simply swooped in and stole all my tokens!!!

What on earth had I done to deserve that. He hadn't even given me an IOU!

I kept on playing with the blue die and got some of my tokens back. Then he showed me another card... the two of diamonds! That isn't the black card so it must mean carry on.

I carried on rolling.

I began to worry about what number was coming up and whether I'd yet managed to roll all the numbers... Jim kept on thrusting the 2 of diamonds right in my face... too close for me to focus on it... hmm... he must mean he wants the number 2. So I picked the die up and showed him the face with 2 dots and carefully angled it so it was as much like a diamond as a square face can be. I got a click and a token...

Then he took the blue die away from me!

I was devastated.

I'd lost both my toys.

The ones that had earnt me all those tokens (and don't forget all the stolen tokens too)... and now I was just left with all the boring other ones... none of which had apparently been any use before...

I was feeling much less enthusiastic by now.

But then I got a click for touching the green fluffy ball.


Now I just KNEW it must be to do with a sequence.

He wanted me to put coloured things into a sequence - red, blue then green!

We carried on for a bit longer and at some point I got back the dinosaur and the die. Jim held up various cards to annoy me and I attempted to get things into the right sequence.

Eventually I'd managed to put the red dinosaur on top of the Queen of Spades card (it was face down on the table but I knew which card it was), the blue die on top of the two of diamonds and the green fluffy ball on top of another card that Jim had also started to flash about.

Jim said we'd finished and that I had obeyed all the cues.

But I didn't really understand at all!

I may well have been performing as he expected but in that part of me which has any vague semblance of consciousness I was still thinking of these cards in all the wrong ways.

From Jim's point of view he thought I was being particularly obtuse to take so long... the idea had been that each card was a cue to each object. That when shown the Queen of Spades I was meant to touch the red dinosaur, when shown the 2 of diamonds to touch the blue die (without any concern over the number showing or the orientation) and when shown the eight of hearts to touch the green fluffy ball. He claims that by the end of the game he'd got me doing that and that he'd done so without sticking to any particular sequence....

I now have a great deal of compassion for any animal being trained... although I doubt they'll have my sorts of confusions going on they could have all sorts of others and at a stage when it seems they have really got it may still be operating on an entirely incorrect set of rules!

For some great examples of pets being clicker trained see the free flicks at clickerflicks. My favourite so far is of a miniature pony being trained to pull a cart and a close second is this of a cat doing an agility course.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Catch up time!

Look what I won!

This is what I won in Ellen of Creative Laundry's giveaway. Isn't it gorgeous! Thank you so much Ellen.

Looking at it is giving me ideas for using the same technique.

Though when that will be I've no idea - time currently revolves around puppy things.

I have had time to read some books - dog related ones - my favourite of the most recent ones is Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor (UK, US):

Don't Shoot The Dog!

Its a great contrast to the No Diet Diet as its all about creating behaviours, skills (or habits) and using rewards to ensure that the best behaviours are encouraged. The book is full of anecdotes about training all sorts of animals, as the author used to train sea mammals to perform for fish or other rewards and has used the technique of marking a good behaviour (e.g. with a click or a whistle) and then rewarding it to train all sorts of creatures - including cats, fish, elephants, polar bears and of course dogs. And also of course humans - herself included.

At the moment I feel its an idea that I understand intellectually and think sounds really useful but really don't seem to be able to put into practice... so I've ordered a DVD to help me see it in practise... after all humans learn by copying others.

One of the anecdotes in the book was about a cat watching a dog being taught to rock on a child's rocking chair and being given meat rewards along the way. After an hour of training the dog had mastered it and the training session finished. Then with the rocking chair unoccupied the cat coolly got on and demonstrated how it should be done and to get its own meat reward!

Now you might think that being a copy cat like that makes the cat cleverer than the dog since it only had to be shown and it could do it too... but the dog will have got more than one reward as it went along... and a whole hour of attention too.

Going for a walk!

Last Saturday one of Jim's cousins was here having played a concert in Bristol the night before - she plays the baroque horn and let us both have a go - it was most odd attempting to make it sound and just getting little tiny squeaks coming out near my right ear - she then showed us how it was done and she found that there was one note that got Teasel singing too - since then we've had several family howls as we all sing along together unaccompanied!

For the monthly scavenger hunt this month one of the categories was "black and orange" - now I'm sure that was there so people could put in pictures of their Halloween things but this is my entry:

The Black Dog of Woofington

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puppy Party!


Yesterday I was 50 but tonight it was Teasel who had a party... she preferred the little girls who were there with their puppy to the other puppies... some of the other puppies were enormous compared to her despite their being several weeks younger!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Secret Feathers

In my last posting I showed the above white feather and pink feather and asked what you thought they might mean if interpreted as a sign - thank you for all your suggestions - its great to have different ideas. I loved them all whether they'd been given somewhat tongue in cheek or seriously.

I put a comment on that posting to a flickr photo of what I'd bought whilst at the shops just after taking the pink feather photo. The first of the books that I've looked at (and already read most of) was this one - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne:

I bought it from a charity shop and its in nearly new condition - indeed if a volunteer hadn't used an overly hard pencil to write its price in I could get away with saying it was new - and I might have been tempted to give it away as a present to someone else...

Instead I've read it. In the foreword I found this:

Note the "specific feather". And later on in the book the story of such a specifically imagined feather coming when asked for is given (pp 64-65):

I've been vaguely aware of The Secret as a phenomenon and must admit was rather annoyed at all the fuss! And having read it I'm still annoyed at all the fuss but I will admit that the ideas are very well described - however they are hardly a secret from anyone who has read a self-help or spiritual book in the last 30 years! And if the fuss has helped more people play with the ideas then maybe I'll stop being upset by it...

It is all about intention and setting one's intention appropriately. Lots of different people have ideas about how to do this effectively and in The Secret Rhonda Byrne has set out some good guidelines.

When talking to both Jim and my sister about it they mentioned this book from 1977, Illusions by Richard Bach:

Which brings us back to feathers again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A good day

Wet Feather Floating in the Sky

This is a feather I saw this morning when I went down to the shops.

Later in the day we discovered that Jim had won £1100 on the premium bonds! He's putting it down to Teasel being a lucky puppy... I think its the surge of love he's feeling for her! This evening she's been with us a full week.

I then went down to the shops again in the afternoon - I felt quite compelled to go.

Outside the front door was this:

Dry fluffy pink feather in leaf litter

If you wanted to interpret a message that came this way - first as a white wet feather on a black mini that reflects the sky and then as a bright pink dry feather amongst leaf litter - what would you think?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Teasel makes herself at home

Hello, my name is Teasel

We picked Teasel up on Thursday evening... and since then everything seems to have been puppy... or recovering from puppy...

The worst thing so far was yesterday... Jim had put up a small run so we could let her out into the back garden without fear of her escaping... and in the hope that this would help in house training her too.

He then went out.

A few minutes later he returned and rang the door bell... he'd forgotten his keys... he only came back because he'd put a few photos of her onto his USB stick and was hoping to show them to Colin... having said goodbye again Teasel and I went out into the outside run... after waiting in vain for ages for her to actually relieve herself one way or another it started to rain... in I thought... but no!

Somehow the door latch had come down and we were locked out!

Two and half hours later one of the neighbours came back from work and took us in... Jim returned about half an hour after that... and rather luckily had his keys with him!

The neighbour was one I'd said hello to before but never chatted to, I didn't even know his name before... he took us both in, gave me a hot drink and didn't even seem to mind when the long awaited wee came out of Teasel in his flat! (Given how hard it seems to be for her to control herself - how on earth did she keep this in so long???)

Thank you to Nick our lovely neighbour!

Here are some more photos of Teasel:

Miniature Shnauzer with her Schnozz enhancer

Just what do you want me to do now?

Teasel checking out Buddha

Smile please!

Dog tired

Sorry I've hardly visited any blogs recently... I'm just too tired most of the time... that or I'm sitting in the garden huddled up against the rain hoping Jim will come home!