Sunday, August 3, 2008

Invisible Fence -- Off Leash At Last!

Mimi! Off leash!! Finally, the day we've been waiting for! At her feet are two new toys: a red Jolly Ball, which is based on a horse ball like the one she already ripped, and a new flying toy that I bought at the supermarket. The Jolly Ball is her new favorite. I bought it online by researching "horse ball" -- that's a game, I gather, that can be played with a horse ball and actual horses -- but when I found this on Amazon, it was clear that dog owners are the real consumers of this product. She doesn't much care for the flying toys; I clearly buy them because I want her to like them. I'll learn.

Mimi in motion, ball in her mouth. This was yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. Starman wouldn't take her off lead earlier in the day, and I really wanted her to start to burn off all that excess energy.

The Jolly Ball is a soft ball, and Mimi has already punctured it. The handle is rigid, though, and sometimes she'll carry it around by its handle. We can claim it and then throw it for her to catch, but she also likes the game where Starman runs after her and she runs away.

Hey, look -- we've actually tired her out. This was taken this afternoon. She had a long morning session with me, and then a long afternoon session with the Starman. That's what exhausted her. It's not hot here today, so even the panting is a good sign. You gotta love a tired dog!

And this was her reward for a stint of distraction training. She loves the car, and was happy enough to just loll on the back seat while we chatted nearby.

I was afraid earlier today that she might have run through the fence when our neighbors drove by. Well, I don't she can have actually done it, but it looked bad for a moment there. We're supposed to do the distraction training on lead, but the running around & play time is off lead. We had done the distraction training (Starman on a bicycle, Starman with the weedwacker, even her beloved Jolly Ball outside the fence wasn't enough to get her to risk the "correction," as they euphemistically call the shock) earlier, with the leash on her. But the leash comes off for playtime, and that's when our neighbors drove by. Mimi raced after the car, but stopped when I yelled, "Back!" She took off after the car, though, and initially I thought I saw her on the road (i.e., on the wrong side of the fence). Doesn't seem to be the case -- when I got up to the driveway, she was up on our deck, drinking water. Good dog!

We still have some adjustments to make. She was happily flaked out in the morning room with me, and Starman had closed both doors to keep her from roaming into the kitchen. I was working on the computer when she shifted slightly, made a quiet but odd noise in her throat, and then peed on the brick hearth. I mean, seriously, the whole thing from dozing comfortably to peeing was less than 5 minutes, and her "warning signs" are bloody subtle, if you ask me. (As she may have been doing!) I don't know what we're doing wrong, if anything, but I do know we did the next bits right. She got her collar back on, went outside, and I cleaned up the stain with Nature's Miracle. The brick is 200 years old and pretty porous, so all I can hope is that soaking in some Nature's Miracle on top of the urine is sufficient.

Just in case you've forgotten that we have two cats, here's one of them: Linus, looking pretty regal on a silk cushion.

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