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Reconnecting with Chispa

I got home from the European Open late Tuesday evening, so Chispa didn't make it back to the household until Wednesday morning. She grew! And, oh, I was so happy to see her. She seemed especially happy to see me, which made me feel great, but I'm guessing she greets just about everybody with a similar zest, so it's possible she was just responding to MY especially effusive greetings.

Chispa 4.5 months

Chispa 4.5 months. She is bigger than Axel now!

While I was in France, at the European Open, I got to see FIVE of her littermates, all in tow with people either competing or visiting to spectate. They are all cool little creatures. I also got to see FOUR half siblings, either from her mom or her dad, in the ring competing. I am so excited about this little puppy; there's a strong belief within me that she is great, and that she will continue to be great. The only limit will be ME. Without that faith, without that belief, our dogs are DEFINITELY limited. With that belief, their potential for greatness isn't limitless, but certainly, it's greatly expanded.

Linda Mecklenburg Quote

So, I think my puppy is amazing. I'm pretty sure my skills as a trainer are up to snuff. Now what? Chispa seems very game to play, and I am totally in love with her – but this was not the case for me with Frodo, and so I'm well aware that it's not THIS easy for everybody with their puppy. Not everybody's puppy is latched on to them immediately. Frodo, for example, curled up in a corner and wanted to hide when I first started trying to clicker train him. NOW, he's fine. And NOW, I can look back and say that probably if I was less close to the whole thing, I could have more quickly found a way to speak his language. But at the time? It was not what I would call fun. It was more of a thing I knew needed to happen, and through the process of the training, eventually, we found a way to connect. But that connection was not there from the start.

So, if it seems like I'm gushing and bragging about Chispa, I promise you, part of it is that I've been there, with a puppy I don't really feel connected with, and it DOES work out, for the most part. And I'm even more grateful for Chispa because of it. The REAL trick will be to stay open, and greatful, when the NEXT puppy comes along that I don't have an instant bond with – because it's bound to happen again.

Chispa is 4.5 months old now, and while I was away in France, she popped out most of her front teeth, to be replaced with the most ridiculously large adult teeth. You know, that look kids have, when they're rail thin and have HUGE brand new sparkly teeth?

Big, shiny, new TEETH. Just need to grow in to them now!

Big, shiny, new TEETH. Just need to grow in to them now!

Yep, that's Chispa. This morning, on our walk, of her own volition, she got in the pond and started swimming. I didn't even realize she'd gone in; she was ahead of me on the trail, and I didn't hear a sploosh or anything. Just, there she was, swimming by herself. We kept going down the trail til we got to the dock, and she hopped in again, milling around with all the dogs that were with us.

She swam and swam and swam. And, much to my delight, she did not swim and swallow water, the way Solar and Jester like to do. And now, she is SLEEPING, giving me some time to catch up on this blog, and other much needed items on the to-do list.

Anyway, what's next on my list? Now, things are going to start to get even more fun, because now, I'm going to start in on tricks. Fun tricks. Tricks that require a lot of microfailures. Try, try again. Have fun. Try, reward. Try, no reward. Lots of encouragement. Get your body and your brain to do some neat things. Solar learned a ton of tricks as a puppy. I didn't polish a lot of them, but they were fun to try and train, and definitely set the stage for teamwork in the future.

So, get ready, because the next few weeks, while I continue with the day to day life skills behaviors, it's also going to be TRICK TIME! Tricks for thinking, tricks for moving her body, tricks to make us both laugh…it's back to chicken camp, Chispa, and guess who is the chicken? Wait, don't answer that…

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3

Slowtime Summer

While there are 2-3 items I have on my list of things to do this week with respect to posting actual TRAINING to the blog, today was just a fun day. After a long morning of talking to various mortgage lenders about refinancing the house, I found I was kind of mentally and emotionally wiped out. So, an afternoon walk in the woods seemed like something mindless yet productive. Off we went.

I'm so fortunate to live just a few minutes away from some glorious trails, including ponds that the dogs can swim in. They're fishing ponds, which means that the hotter the weather, the less likely the fish are biting, and the more likely the dogs can swim without interrupting somebody else seeking solitude as well. I don't get a chance to walk every day, although with a little effort I could, and should be out there every day that I'm home. Even so, a walk in the woods is always so nice.

And…ever goal oriented, I figured it would be an opportunity for Chispa to work on thinking about swimming, maybe. Of course some of her littermates have already been in the water, so I figured, must keep up with the Joneses, right?

Chispa is brave about many things, but about water, she is not so sure. In the past, I've taken the heave-ho approach, which is to say I just toss a puppy in, provided I think they're brave enough to handle it and they seem to WANT to go in. That first step is the hardest, right? But, you know, I didn't really feel like it this time. No need to be overbearing, just let her go in at her own pace. Baby steps. Of course, I had incentive – treats that float!

It's a small tragedy that I filmed vertically rather than horizontally with my phone. The puppy cuteness will make up for it, right?

Chispa after swimming, 7-11-16

Chispa after swimming, 7-11-16

Chispa got in after some convincing, but she was not thrilled about being wet. It was pretty cute, she kept squatting like she thought she had to pee, because water was dribbling off of her lady bits. She only swam for a few seconds longer than the video above captured. Like just about everything she does, it was not without at least some forethought. She's lively, and vivacious, just like her name (Chispa means “sparky, lively, vivacious” in Spanish), but she's not careless, really, and seems to have a lot of good German logic about her as well. It took a little bit of build up before she decided to wade in and swim after the cookies that were floating just out of reach.

What just happened?!

What just happened?!

When she was finished with her tiny swim, she had to back up and sit down for a moment to think about what had just happened. Then she tore around and rolled a bit, squat, roll, squat, roll. It was pretty funny.

Again, like a doofus, I filmed vertical. But again, who cares, because…puppy!

She was a little square, and now, she's a little rectangle!

It's funny how sometimes I don't think she's grown at all, and then, there are moments, like today, where I realize, she's really getting BIGGER. And right now, her rear end doesn't quite match the front end. But, oh my goodness, I am smitten with Chispa. She is so right up my alley, and I am enjoying her so much. She probably won't learn oodles of tricks; it's just not something I have time for at this point in my life. But she IS learning, bit by bit, and it's at a pretty enjoyable pace for the both of us. And she's just so much darned FUN. Her name fits her perfectly.

Nothing but puppy gushing for today; tomorrow it'll be back to “real” training. But as far as developing the dance, the dance the two of us will do as a team in and out of the ring, even slowtime summer days like today are “real” training. No need to worry about accomplishing this or that trick or behavior each day. It's not a job, it's not a “must do”, it's just fun, enjoyment, and relaxation. Chispa has far more freedom than any of my other puppies have ever had, and guess what? She's doing just fine. Instead of me constantly trying to solicit HER attention, it's the other way around – she solicits MY attention. And when I do need a snuggle and she's too busy to settle in to it (which is always), I hold her just long enough for her to give me a kiss and a lick, and then I put her down and she's off again. And even THIS is “real” training, because over the past few days, guess who is settling in to do a lot more licking and kissing and snuggling? Yep.

Now hey there, Chispa, quit chewing on my laptop! Reverie over…

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Subscribing below will sign you up to an email list to get notifications of new content only in this blog, and nothing else 🙂 You won't be able to see ALL of the content unless you are a paid subscriber.

Want access to ALL the content in this blog?

Paid subscribers get access to details on the training Daisy is doing with Chispa, as well as access to handouts, videos, and a discussion forum where a group of select (non-BC) puppy owners are working alongside Daisy with their puppies!