Monday, 7 October 2013

Timing is everything ... sometimes.

Argh! This innocuous-looking gizmo caused me much frustration on this morning's walk. It's a clicker. Pressing on the inside metal bit produces a very distinctive sound — a clic! — which, for a dog who's been trained to associate the sound with a treat, can be used to "mark" desired behaviours (ie. "Hey, when I do X, she makes that sound and I get a treat. I'll keep doing X!"). I've used clicker training for Freddie's alert work, but I'm not very good at it. Timing of the click is crucial, and I have lousy timing.

The behaviour I was working on this morning — a follow-up to last night's class at Dogwise — was getting Freddie to look at me immediately in response to his name. He knows his name and does generally respond to it; however, partly because Paul and I say "Freddie" a gazillion times a day, for all sorts of reasons, he doesn't associate "Freddie" with looking at us immediately. So we're working on it. In an ideal training scenario, I say his name, he turns to look at me right away, I click the instant he turns, and he gets a treat. Easy-peasy, right?

Yeah, right. Add to the scenario falling chestnuts, scurrying squirrels, blowing leaves, barking dogs, etc. etc. etc., and the easy-peasyness is seriously undermined. The fact that I could not, on top of that, get my thumb to press the damn clicker the instant Freddie turned to me (those precious few times he turned right away) was crazy-making. As our teacher (an excellent dog trainer) put it last night, I was "clicking crap." I will never go on Jeopardy, even if my brain happens somehow to acquire a stockpile of trivia ...

... like the name of this pretty, curly plant:

... or the significant historical details about Rosemary Brown:

This blog is much more a walking blog / dog blog than it is a diabetes blog (diabetes already gets WAY too much of my time and attention). However ... since Freddie is a diabetes alert dog, and diabetes is the reason his fabulous furriness came into our lives, I will at least acknowledge its existence. Here's my  glucometer, showing my pre-walk blood sugar level — 9.1 mmol/L. Not complete crap by Type 1 standards, but not good either. The two previous readings (7.0 and 8.4) are pretty meh as well. The sweet spot is somewhere between 4.6 and 6.8 (a maddeningly tiny bulls-eye to hit — and, yes, I'm mixing metaphors here); Freddie alerts at 4.2 and below.

By my mid-walk test, I was down to 7.7 mmol/L. Walking is good.

I brought along an umbrella this morning but didn't need it. Yay. Like most Vancouverites, I own at least one black umbrella ... but sometime during a recent bout of Vancouver greyness I bought this cheerful psychedelic brolly as an act of resistance. Freddie's nonchalance vis-à-vis the umbrella reminded me of one of the little temperament tests that were done on him and his litter mates when we were selecting our future alert dog. The "umbrella test" simply checks a dog's response to a strange and unfamiliar object. Even as a tiny puppy, Freddie was pretty unfazed by umbrellas (and he rocked the other tests as well :-)).

Just for fun, here's Freddie as a tiny puppy (photo credit to Shari at Olympic Labradoodles!):

Freddie doesn't usually sit on benches, but this scene looked so much like the one below — Sehmel Park, near Freddie's first home in Gig Harbor, WA — that I had to get the shot.

Again, photo credit — and slobbery kisses from Freddie — to Shari!

Finally, a couple of shots from our late-morning outing to Musqueam Park with Teagan (lovely big golden doodle in the middle) and his humans, Cora and Paul. Freddie and I met the Teagans on one of our neighbourhood walks back in early summer and have had a number of fantastic romps with them since.

This 5-month-old standard poodle, Asia, wasn't too sure about Freddie, but Freddie was in LOVE with her!


  1. I don't think I knew that Freddie was US-born. Is he a dual-citizen dog now, or has he flipped over to Canadian (and can therefore vote here when he's of age) completely?

    1. Interesting point, Leigh. We're thinking we'll let Freddie keep his dual until he's old enough to decide for himself.

    2. Freddie is a citizen of the world.


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