It's not just about the dog itself, but the relationship you have with it!

ForPaws Helps Corgis and Corgi Mixes

Dedicated to Bart, who had the Most Beautiful Tail

"It's very simple. Dogs and cats and other talented animals have tails; their tails, with their thousands of flourishes, provide them with a wonderfully complex language of arabesques, not only for what they think and feel and suffer, but for every mood and vibration in their feeling tone. We have no tails, and since the more lively among us need some form of expression, we make ourselves paintbrushes and pianos and violins..."

Hermann Hesse

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Puppy Training Classes - Second Level

How do you make sure your puppy looks like this at the end of the day? Keep him really busy! Sage's activity calendar was full today, culminating with the first meeting of his second series of puppy training classes.

(Candid pose - seriously!)

Gotta say, I was a little skeptical about puppy training classes. I figured it was primarily for the puppy-to-puppy socialization. Happily, I was really wrong about that!

Sage started his second series of puppy training classes this evening. The first session was six meetings. Now we have another six weeks. In the first session our dogs learned a lot. In addition to being introduced to all sorts of other dogs and all sorts of other people (many bring their kids to these classes too), the puppies have actually learned all of the basic obedience commands, and then some.

Sage can now execute come, sit, down, stay, and  on-your-side (still working on "stand"). He even sits reliably when called to come. He also knows that "leave it" means he can't charge for a treat, but must wait to be released. "Off" means to back away from anything he's focused on at that time. "On your bed" means to get on the mat, bed or just the area I'm pointing toward and lay down. He's also learning that "walk" means to walk nicely on a leash. It looks like he might be relatively easy to heel train..Yeah!

I know that I taught Denali all of these same things, but at that time I had Bart around to help me. Denali watched Bart and modeled after was so easy. Bart really trained Denali while I supervised.  He did the same with Kenai, even though she was a much older puppy, coming to us at 10 months of age.

Even though Denali knows all of this stuff and executes well, she's very pushy about having all of the food rewards for herself, so she's not a good formal training companion. No question, Sage has learned a lot from watching her, but I can't work with the two of them the way I did with Bart as a demo dog. 

Fortunately, Sage is an excellent pupil. He's really smart, catches on so quickly, and the challenge is to keep him from getting bored with the exercise. He actually seems to have a bit more focus than Denali did at this age (no surprise!)

Tonight's session was very good. We started working with clickers. Although I've now trained a number of dogs, I've never used the clicker, so this was a good new experience for me too. This class has fewer dogs, about eight, versus the twelve in session I.  It makes for a better class. 

In the group Sage's sweet temperament shows itself, as does the corgi in him. When all of the puppies are released to play, Sage first makes the rounds of all of the people standing around. He smiles and does his best to look so cute that no one could resist giving him a treat. So he gets the extra treats, while all of the other puppies are wrestling. Sage has Denali at home to wrestle, so this isn't as crucial to him.

After sucking up to everyone, and checking the floor for crumbs, he's then ready to join the fracas. He's a perfect medium dominance level, doesn't push to an extreme, but won't let another dog take advantage of him either, no matter how big they are. He smiles the whole time!

There is a playful little terrier mix, just about Sage's size and the two of them had a meeting of the minds when it came to play styles. So when he got home, it didn't take long before Sage looked like this:

He found his favorite spot, right there in the chair legs, and passed out. 

Earlier in the day he accompanied me on errands too, 
so this was a big day in Puppyville!

Night, night Sage! Sleep tight!

Friday, March 27, 2009

So Many Gifts

Observing Sage over these past weeks, I am struck by how each dog brings his or her own special set of talents to the plate. 

For example, our first cardi, Kenai, was the most joyful social butterfly. A true natural athlete, she always had energy to burn and a body of muscles that were like steel bands. But her real love was gardening! Never was there a dog who could more expertly separate incredibly long lengths of drip irrigation hose and remove it from the area, leaving no possible clue as to location - until the plant started to die!

It appears that the love of outdoor plants was passed along to Denali, who showed herself to be the resident expert when it came to "transplanting" virtually anything in a pot! Again, with amazing speed and range. She could scatter dirt and plant parts for miles - all from one small pot!

Both of our cardi girls also proved to be excellent huntresses. We have a huge oak tree (200+ years old) adjacent to our property.  The base of the tree is in the creek bed next to us and much of the tree's canopy extends into our yard. As a result, we have literally hundreds of squirrels. 

Initially they were really a problem, digging up all of our plants in order to bury nuts and find them later. Then Bart arrived and that was that. He quickly trained Kenai, then Denali. Both of them took this job very seriously. Now Denali will spend hours keeping a lookout to ensure no invasion. She's actually been able to catch and dispatch a couple of squirrels, and a few creek rats over time. I wouldn't mess with her if I was a rodent!

So...what about Sage? What will his unique talents be? Now that he's getting older he's starting to develop his own set of skills.

Will he too be a stalker of big game? appears the instinct is present!

But that's not all!

Just like his sisters, Sage possesses multiple interests and abilities. But seriously, how could one ever imagine that a puppy this sweet...

might do this?

Easy...another gardening expert. 
This time a specialist in pruning the indoor plants!

Ahhh...the many gifts they bring to enrich our lives!

(Now, how to get the R.E.M. tune, Gardening at Night, out of my brain!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Growing like a Weed...or a Puppy!

When Sage was 11 weeks old, he liked to sleep at my feet, wedged between the legs of my desk chair. 

Since he only weighed about nine pounds, it was pretty easy to slip into that spot. But things have changed in the past twelve weeks.

He still likes that spot just as much, but he doesn't fit in quite the same way.  Yesterday he tried to walk underneath a plant stand that he used to play under when he was really little.  When he bonked his head instead and found he didn't fit, it was a bit confusing.

This morning he officially outgrew his puppy collar...sigh! He needed that next inch, and something a little more substantial. How quickly things change when they're so young.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Got Sheep? Let's talk about Dolce!

Got sheep?

...then maybe you need this young lady to help you out? This is "Dolce," our latest rescue girl. She's currently living in a small house in the San Francisco Bay area, but she really needs to live on a ranch...or at least with someone who has a very large yard with room to run, and plenty of energy to keep up with her! At age 2, this dog still acts like a 6-month-old puppy - ready to rock!

Dolce means "sweet" in Italian, and she is just that. This is a very nice little Pembroke, but she was put in the wrong place when she went to live in a small house, with a small yard in the city. Dolce is probably the most energetic corgi we've ever had in rescue. She was originally bred in Missouri and she really would have been happier if she'd stayed there and been put to work herding a nice flock of sheep! She runs and jumps continually, and would make a great herding or agility prospect for the right corgi-knowledgable person.

Dolce loves people, loves other dogs, and loves to run! She's happy and sweet, a typical female PWC, who likes to run the show, but isn't overly dominant. She's good with most other dogs, but we wouldn't put her with another dominant dog. She's great with people, but too much dog for little children - a typical corgi.

We'll be posting Dolce on the ForPaws Corgi Rescue website within the next few days and looking for just the right home for this beautiful sable girl! 

If you've got the knowledge to work with her, this girl is a real natural as 
a herding or agility dog! She'd be awesome!

More Puppy Teeth!

Sage presented yet another puppy tooth this morning.  Another nice upper canine!

Quite a collection we've got here!
The one on the upper left is the latest addition.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Molly - A Special Home/A Special Portrait

Last year one of our rescue dogs, a BHT female Pembroke Welsh Corgi, "Molly," had the good fortune to go to an incredibly wonderful home in Ontario, Canada. Her new parents adore her and she's turning into quite a nice little performance dog with her new Mom's expert training. We anticipate seeing Molly compete in the obedience ring on her way to a CD very soon!

Recently Molly's dad had a cousin visit from England. While visiting she did this wonderful pastel portrait of Molly. Knowing how much we love hearing about our rescues in their new homes, and seeing pictures, Molly's mom sent this. We think it is beautiful, and a wonderful keepsake of this special little girl!

Thanks Shani - beautiful work!

Monday, March 16, 2009


On the eve of his 21st week Sage weighs in at 20lbs, exactly!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Up to Five, and counting!

The collection of Sage's puppy teeth keeps growing. This morning he presented us with his upper, left canine - tooth number five in the collection!

A Message from Denali

My Little Brother:

Now that I am the Alpha Queen of the household you'd think that life would be easier - scratch that! In fact, much of my new responsibility centers around keeping my new little brother, Sage, occupied and out of trouble. There are times when I just "tell on him, " kind of like Bart did with me when I was a puppy.

Admittedly, most of the time I really like playing with him. He's really smart and catches on quickly. During this past month Sage has demonstrated an ability to use logic and mount strategic attacks, causing me to invent new counter measures. At times he figures things out a bit too quickly, and I have to change my tactics on the fly. 

He's old enough now that he's lost his "puppy pass." I've been clear with him about the limits and he quickly learned not to question my authority when it really matters. All of this has prepared him for his Puppy Kindergarten classes, where he has to interact with about a dozen other puppies of all sizes and temperaments. 

Now that Sage is getting older he's also beginning to learn that he has some responsibilities to his older sisters. This morning he washed my face and Elbee's ears. I have to say, I'm beginning to get attached to this little guy! 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aikido Black Belt Test -This was Moe's Day!

Moe has been studying Aikido for a number of years. This morning he took the test for his black belt. 

For those unfamiliar with this martial art, here is a nice description.  Anyone interested in learning some of the common terminology associated with Aikido, can visit this link.

The black belt is a pretty big deal. It signifies an advanced level of expertise.  There are a multitude of moves, and combinations of moves, that one needs to learn and demonstrate with proficiency. 

At this level you also must be proficient with moves involving traditional weapons, and you must be able to show that you can fend of multiple attackers.

Others tested today for belts of lower levels.  Three blue belts, and one brown belt were awarded, but the Sensei (instructor) referred to Moe's test as "the dessert" for those observing. (Other levels did not require a knowledge of the weapons, or the need to respond to multiple attackers simultaneously.)

Unfortunately the venue was a bit dark and most of my photos were just too blurry to make sense. Here are a few that will give you an idea, as well as some showing the actual award of the various belts at the conclusion of the testing. 

Aikido is a martial art that does not involve offensive moves, but merely the defensive tactics required to disable an "attacker." Here Moe has to show what one might do if another tries to grab you by the shirt. He is working with his Uke, David (thanks David!).

Although my photos are blurry, some of the blur here is definitely action. Much of Aikido is about leverage. It is amazing how quickly you can turn someone around and upside down, and make it look like it was so easy!

Watching, it is amazing to think that much of what we see in practices and tests is done in "slow motion." This is the only way to mitigate the real injury that would otherwise be sustained were you truly mounting a defense against an attacker.

This was the part of the test that everyone, except Moe, wanted to see more of. In this case two attackers come at you and the person being tested must quickly respond in an appropriate way to keep both of them at bay simultaneously. It is exciting to see - more exciting to execute!

Sensei O'Quin presents Moe with his black belt.

Three Senseis observed and graded Moe's performance

All of the recipients of new belts were honored. Congratulations to all! 

Awesome job Moe!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Week 20 - 18 lbs (oops.. as of Friday 3/13/09 he weighs 19 pounds)

Yes, I know - he chewed a hole in my carpet. Sigh...he's still the Best Puppy!  He lost a little weight, as he's been finicky about eating while teething, but now he's up to 18lbs.

Nothing sweeter than a sleeping puppy!

Wow...guess what I found?

Remember that little pink hole in Sage's mouth, where his lower, left canine tooth used to be? Well as I was coming in from the backyard I happened to look down and you won't believe what I found! That's right...the tooth that came out of that hole! It was just laying there on the carpet and it's amazing that I saw it. 

Puppy teeth are not very big!

Here's a closer view

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chompers for Life

Sage is 5 months old now. Right on schedule, he's teething - and the hole in our living room carpet is a testimonial to that fact. I'd been so careful, but it takes only a moment (seriously - 60 seconds) for a crafty puppy like this to wreak havoc on a carpet seam.

Here's a little bit of information on canine teeth, lifted from the Dog Owner's Guide:

Like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth in their lives. The 28 baby teeth erupt through the gums between the third and sixth weeks of age. Puppies do not have to grind much food, so they do not have molars. Puppy teeth begin to shed and be replaced by permanent adult teeth at about four months of age. Although there is some variation in breeds, most adult dogs have 42 teeth, with the molars coming last, at about six or seven months.

The order of tooth replacement is incisors first, then canines (fangs), and finally premolars. The teething period can be frustrating; the puppy clamps his mouth on everything he can reach, from body parts to Johnny's $80 sneakers, in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. Teething can be accompanied by drooling, irritability, and fluctuations in appetite.

I also found some good tips regarding teething and training for bite inhibition here. We started bite inhibition training on Day One and he learned not to chew on people, or our clothing right away- smart puppy!  At this point he's 90% good as far as chewing on things that are not his toys, but no puppy is trustworthy this early in life and he's MUCH more oral than Denali ever was. (Typical boy!)

During the course of the past week, Sage has presented us with three of his baby teeth. Unlike Denali, who swallowed all of hers, Sage isn't interested in keeping his old teeth, now that he's got some nice Big Boy teeth coming in.

Here are our "momentos" to date:

Sage doesn't look to be following the order as far as loosing teeth. It looks like we've got some molars here, but he's still got three of the four baby cuspids (canines). I thought perhaps I might be able to get a baby canine tooth tooth if one was loose. I checked his mouth and saw that the left lower one was already gone, but the right one was still there. I decided to test it.

So for a bit I wrestled with Squirmy Puppy, who did NOT want me messing with his mouth, and hasn't yet figured out that I always win. It is definitely difficult to hold a wriggling puppy with one hand, while attempting to pry open his mouth with the other. 

But I did manage to check things out and take some progress photos of his teeth. Indeed, the incisors have already been replaced by new adult teeth. He's still got three of the canines and it appears that there are stubs where some of the adult pre-molars are in process of coming in. This explains why he's been so restless during this past week and not always interested in eating all of his food.

Some of the angles on these are odd. It is difficult taking photos with one hand and holding the mouth with the other. Unfortunately, even though I did rotate these to get a proper view, Blogger refuses to recognize the edits when the photos are uploaded.

See the little pink hole on the lower left side of his mouth 
where the lower canine tooth used to be!

This is an upside-down view of the new bottom incisors.

Beautiful chompers! 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Looking Back

My...what a change two months have wrought! This first photo was taken January 1 when Sage was 11 weeks old. The rest were taken March 9, almost 20 weeks of age.