We picked Darby up at the boarder's yesterday afternoon and I'm not sure who was happier--Darby or me!
But, it was obvious that she enjoyed her stay at the Bed and Biscuit Inn, because she kept alternating between happily wiggling and nuzzling me and doing the same thing to Michelle. She was pronounced a "real angel" which I'm not entirely sure was the truth. She made real progress during day care play times, too--still having trouble when first introduced to a new dog, but getting more comfortable all the time and playing long and hard with the dogs she got to know.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera in with me to catch a photo of Darby and Michelle, so these photos of my niece's dog Nico, will just have to do!
Nico is a seven year old English Springer Spaniel that my niece and her husband adopted from a rescue organization. She is a lovely dog!
As you can see, she loves to snuggle. (Maybe she can give Darby some lessons!)
We frequently joked about Nico needing to chill out. My little nephew needs to do that, too!
Nico and her humans live in the Virginia countryside. A beautiful area with rolling hills--just the perfect place to take long walks in the cool, fall air.
It is good to be back home with my Darby-girl, but I miss my extended family and wish we could get together more often.
The funeral is behind us. It was a very sad, but excellent service. All sorts of things my brother loved were there--his family, his Marine friends, horses pulling the casson carrying his coffin, swords, a military band, a gun salute, and bagpipes. It was a dreary cloudy day, just perfect for a funeral and and late that evening after all his friends had left, rain came along with two loud claps of thunder and bolts of lightning -- a perfect end to the funeral day of a man who loved storms. As excellent as his funeral was, I wish he was still here and there had been no reason for a funeral at all.
But, of all the people about whom it is said "he wouldn't want us to go around crying" I think it is especially true of my brother. So, I'm trying not to do any crying. It isn't easy because, not only do I miss him, I also miss my Darby!
There is someone canine here at my niece's house who is temporarily taking her place--Nico, the springer spaniel, who, my sister discovered also loves to sleep on the sofa on her back with all four legs up in the air! Kathy spent a large part of yesterday evening with Nico's head in her lap!
I'd post a picture of Nico here, but my iPhone died a bit ago when I was out walking and pulled it out to take a photo of a white tailed deer who ran across the road in front of me! Maybe that California-bred iPhone just couldn't take the 40 degree temp!
The nearest Apple store is an hour away, and I am here for seven more days. I think I'll have to make the drive!
Glenn and I are going to my brother's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery and Darby has to stay behind. She will be staying at the "Bed and Biscuit" Inn portion of the facility where we are taking the beginning agility confidence classes and where we took our puppy classes, so at least she will be familiar with the setting and the people. It makes me sad to think she will think I'm gone forever! But, she will be in a nice, home setting with people who really, really like dogs and will be with her 24/7. (She could even sleep on the bed, if we allowed that!!)
I hope she remembers me when we get back! I wore a t-shirt to bed last night and I stuffed it in with her bedding, so she can sleep with it and remember me!
When I was in that terrible "pre-teen" stage, I hated brushing my teeth--that's probably why I have a mouth absolutely full of fillings! My mom would send me off to brush my teeth before bed and I would make a show of doing it--turn the water on, wet the brush, let the water run while I "brushed," tap the brush a few times on the edge of the sink -- done! But not!
I think Darby does something similar sometimes, although, of course, not over brushing her teeth.
Sometimes I walk her out to the grass and say "Go pee-pee" and she walks out a ways, makes a mini-squat, then comes running back -- done! But, not!
Makes me laugh when it happens.
This photo has nothing to do with pretending to do something you don't want/need to do, but I have always liked the white "flag" on the end of her tail.
Did Darby and I have fun Sunday morning! And Glenn was there to record some of it with the camera. (Next time I'll remember to show him the zoom function!)
The class is called "Agility Confidence" and the title definitely reflects the effect the activity is having on Darby.
In puppy class she spent a large part of the time nervously barking at the other dogs telling them to stay away. At the first agility class she did an awful lot of barking, too. But, already, in just the second class I can see a difference in her behavior--and the instructor commented on it, too. Today, while we were waiting for our turn, like here at the very short JUMP (made short for everyone, but even shorter for my Short Stuff) she waited quietly with me.
Not only is she not barking at the other dogs so much, but she isn't having to be coaxed into trying new things. She remembered how fun TUNNEL was and didn't have to be coaxed through again--like some of the dogs did--when we bent it into a U shape and she couldn't see straight through it.
And, she remembered CLIMB and started trying to run instead of trot up then down the other side.
The instructor promises the class will help develop confidence, grace and improved communication between dog and human. I'm hoping for confidence for Darby and grace for me!
Seems to me that one tennis ball is pretty much the same as another. But, not to Darby.
The ball on the bottom is called a "Tuff Ball" and it is indeed tough. A little harder, and little rougher than a "regular" tennis ball, like the one on top.
Darby has a decided preference for the Tuff Ball. If I throw the regular ball, she will run after it, but more often than not, leave it lying there while she runs back to me. If I throw the tuff ball and regular ball at the same time, she will sniff both of them and pick up the Tuff ball and bring it back.
I wonder what she doesn't like about the regular ball--the feel? Or maybe the smell? Maybe it smells like the veterinarian's office where we got it on Saturday when Darby also got a kennel cough shot--maybe it brings back a bad memory?
I said in an earlier post that I hope it is Darby that has to do the climbing and crawling in the agility confidence class she and I are taking.
Well, she did all of the climbing, but I had to do a good bit of crawling in our first class today!
After lots of discussion about safety for both the dogs and us humans, we got to go out to the yard and try walking the dogs across a short bridge. All the other dogs charged right up, over and down. But, not Darby. She had to be coaxed and smooched and bribed with treats the first time. But, after that she had no problem at all! The humans walked alongside the dogs with our fingers through their collar just in case they decided to jump off. No one, including Darby, thought about jumping off. Thank goodness!
The tunnel was another challenge for Darby. The teacher stayed at one end with the dog and the human ran to the other end and called the dog to come through the tunnel. Again, Darby was the only one who had trouble. I knelt at the end calling her, offering her treats, making smooching noises, but she dug all fours in and wasn't going through. This is where me crawling comes in. The teacher suggested that if I didn't mind crawling in to meet her half way, it might make it easier for her. And, sure enough, when I army-crawled half way in, she came running in to meet me.
Let me tell you something--it is difficult for an awkward, stiff, 56 year old to army crawl backward quickly with an excited 29 1/2 pound puppy pushing from the front!
But after that first time, Darbs came charging through the tunnel without a bit of trouble!
These challenges are just why the teacher suggested Darby and I take this class. Shy dogs benefit from this sort of fun, gentle training. As the class synopsis says, both dog and human gain grace, confidence and trust in each other.
Sorry, no photos from class. But, here's one of Darbs in her kennel in the car.
My mom would be happy--that's a St. Francis medal hanging on the kennel dog.
As we have for the last several years, Glenn decorated our yard but we sat in our neighbors driveway, had dinner, gave out candy and talked. Darby joined us for a large part of the evening. She barked a bit--especially when large groups of big kids came by, but for the most part she was just fine.