Monday, November 30, 2009


It is hard to believe but Ambrose is 11 months old today. It is shocking that I have had to put up with his goofiness since he came to live with us in February. I am always saying bad things about him but, while he does drive me crazy, he does some good things. He is a sweet boy and gets along with everyone. He has good play skills and is always up for a game of chase or bitey face or tug. He minds me when tell him to leave my toys alone.

We have many photos of goofy Ambrose. Barbara decided she wanted some non-goofy photos to show that he is really growing up. I do not want to say how many shots she had to take to get these but we are grateful for digital cameras.

While Ambrose is not much in the obedience department, even I have to admit that he has learned a really good recall. When Barbara says "come", Ambrose comes fast.

So while Ambrose is a pest, a doofus and a goofball, he is our goofball and I think that we will keep him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my dog blogging friends and to your people.

We got up early this morning to meet some friends for tracking, my favorite activity. It was very foggy when we started, but the conditions were perfect for the scent. Ambrose's friend Scout it a very enthusiastic tracker.

Ambrose likes to track too but gets very silly on the course and is easily distracted. He has no work ethic yet.

Look how serious I am about my track.

My reward for finding articles this morning was turkey sausage so you can see why my nose is so deep into the track.

After a great morning of sniffing we came home to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and the National Dog Show. The house smells great because Barbara is making pumpkin soup. I hope we get a taste before she goes off to Thanksgiving dinner at friends and abandons us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Good Dog Play

In my mission to encourage good dog play, I thought you would like to see a short video of me and Ambrose playing chase and a bit of bitey face. Barbara was too slow to catch us running away so the video picks up as we race back in her direction. Every time you see shots of the ground it means we crashed into her knees! Ha! Amazingly, no HBO words were used in the making of this video.

You can see how well I control the play. Ambrose has learned my cut-off signals and when I decide that the play is over for a bit, he goes away. Goofy as he is, he is learning good skills. Barbara never let him play with bad companions when he was little and of course he has had me as an excellent example. This is critical in developing a good play style. If you are bullied as a puppy, you may grow up to be a bully.

Thanks for all your concern about the dog-crate-on-wheels. The insurance will pay for the repairs but there is a long wait to get it fixed. It still drives though so we can get around to all our activities. I would not want to miss out on our Drill Team practice tomorrow.

Hope all of you had a chance to play this weekend.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good Dog Play

This past weekend Barbara drove us to Concord to a big dog show. We weren't entered but Ambrose's father and some of his littermates were entered. His brother Wallace did really well and got many ribbons and even won Best of Breed. The people were meeting up to form a Gordon Setter Club in North and South Carolina so that we could all do fun Gordon Setter stuff together. I look forward to that.

I can tell you that Ambrose's litter mates are just as goofy as he is. His sister Torri is a bold little thing. Look at the way she is staring at me!

Ambrose hasn't seen his brothers and sisters since he was 8 weeks old. I think he was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. He got put in a big pen with all of them. At first he wanted to get out.

After awhile he got used to them and they all hung out together.

I did not have to go in the pen with all those goofy adolescents. They barked like complete idiots when they saw me. I stayed out with the people and even got some good people food like wieners with sauce and a big shrimp.

I know you saw my post about the dog park fiasco early last week. Well I wanted to show you a video of some good dog park play, the way it should be. Ambrose may be goofy but he does have good play skills (which I taught him) and can get along with almost any dog. Watch him and Cherie play in the video. You can see the nice play bows, the intention moves and the reciprocal style of play. When we dogs play this way everyone can have fun.

Ambrose and I still go to the dog park but we have changed the times we visit so that there aren't many dogs there. Barbara does not like us to be subjected to a crowd of dogs with their oblivious people.

You can see that Ambrose and I like to play fast chase games. As he is growing he is getting a little more coordinated.

Unfortunately he is still pretty goofy. Look at his big lips.

The dog-crate-on-wheels was seriously injured last night when some big tree limbs fell on top of it. We were not in it at the time. It was quite a surprise this morning.

The top is so crushed that it pushed the roof down into the inside of the car.

One of the doors got smashed.

It is all going to get repaired but they said it will take 10 days! I hope that my outings don't get curtailed because of it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Duke Canine Cognition Center

Last week I got to participate in a real scientific experiment at the Duke University Canine Cognition Center. Dr. Brian Hare studies cognition and evolution. While he mostly studies chimpanzees and bonobos, he is also very interested in us. He wants to know how dogs solve problems and how our social intelligence evolved. You can read more about his fascinating work here. Unfortunately I did not get to meet him while I was at Duke. I think anyone who walks around with a bonobo puppy on his head must be a nice guy.

Barbara had signed me and Ambrose up for the research studies and I got picked to be in one of their experiments (who knows what results they will get if they ever test Ambrose?). We arrived at the center and the students all made a big fuss over me. They let me sniff all around and get used to the room.

These students conducted the study. First they had me practice getting treats on the floor (I hardly needed to practice that!). Then one of them put a treat under one of two plastic cups and I had to find it. Sometimes Barbara would point to a cup and sometimes one of the students would point.

I thought it was a very easy test. I mean I get cookies out of treat dispensing toys all the time. It was not hard to find a treat under a plastic cup! Sometimes they would trick me though and only pretend to put a treat under a cup!

Now I will say that the treats that the students used were pretty boring. They had obviously not read my ground breaking treat palatability research study that I posted last week. If they had, I am sure that they wouldn't have used 1 paw and 2 paw level treats. Maybe I should try to get my work published in Science or Nature.

I was very pleased to be included in this important problem solving research. I hope it helps them learn more about how dogs' minds work. And of course I am always up for any opportunity to get more treats.

It has been raining a lot here lately so we haven't been able to do to many fun things to blog about. Tomorrow we are going to see some of Ambrose's brothers and sisters. I hope that they are not as goofy as he is. I won't be able to stand it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dog Park Fiasco

I was all set to post about my experiences at the Duke Canine Cognition Center but I am so mad that I will have to postpone that for another day. On Monday mornings we like to go to the dog park in Chapel Hill to meet our pit bull friend Cherie. She is a sweet girl but sensitive so we don't go to the park at times when there are lots of dogs and people. Unfortunately when we got to the park today it was packed. Cherie's person decided not to bring her in but Barbara let us go in to run around for a bit. The park is quite large and Ambrose and I mostly played with each other since Barbara did not like the play style of some of the other dogs and was rather annoyed with the casual attitude and general cluelessness of some of the people there.

We weren't there long when Barbara decided to take us out. All of a sudden a big dog fight broke out. She called us over to her and put on our leashes and took us straight out of the park as she didn't want us involved. The dogs were picking on a young Bernese Mountain Dog but the worst thing was the idiot owners! Barbara said many HBO words about their lack of intelligence. One idiot person grabbed his dogs and did an alpha roll on him. Like that is going to teach the dog not to fight! None of the people whose dogs were involved in the fight took their dogs out of the park even though the dogs were still very aroused. They let their dogs go after the Bernese again and pin her.

We did not hang around, even outside the fence, to see what happened but I have a few things to say. First of all the alpha roll is a ridiculous way to train a dog and it is a good way for a person to get bitten. No matter what some famous TV trainers do, it is still not right. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers has come out with a position statement on "dominance" in dog training. You can read it here along with lots of good information about proper training, dog park play and safety tips.

Just say no to the dominance model of dog training!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2nd Annual Treat Palatability Research Study

I know that you have been anxiously awaiting the results of my treat research study. You wouldn't want your people to waste their money on treats that don't taste good and of course you don't want to have to eat them. In the name of science and for the good of my fellow canines I have undertaken this arduous but important experiment.

Barbara brought a huge bagful of treats for me to investigate. You can see what a difficult task I had in front of me. I tested some of these treats last year but wanted to see if they stood up against the new treats.

The first step in the experiment was for me to sniff a treat in her hand.

Then she would put it on a plate, let me sniff another treat and put that one on different plate.

I had to do a sit stay and look at the plates.

When she said OK I went to the most delicious treat first and she wrote it down for me.

We did many repetitions of the experiment. She would switch the treats to different plates, switch the order etc. to account for any right/left bias. We compared dry treats and then soft treats. The winner in each set of trials was compared to the winner from another set of trials until we reached the best treat of all.

Last year I did a four paw rating system. I've done it again so you can see which ones you should get your people to buy for you.

4 PAWS: Scrumptious - will eat them even when I see squirrels
Buddy Biscuit Roast Chicken Madness, Grilled Beef Madness

3 PAWS Delicious - will eat them most of the time
Buddy Biscuit Peanut Butter Madness, Bacon & Cheese Madness

2 PAWS Tasty - will eat them when there are no distractions
Cloud Star Tricky Trainers, Train-me, Pet Botanics Reward

1 PAW slightly better than cardboard
Bennies Bullies, Charlee Bear Cheese and egg

However the very best, most delicious treats were so yummy that I did not have enough paws to rate them!

They are the Merrick Gourmet Sausage Treats and they are the best treat I have ever had! There are several flavors. I liked them all but the best (according to my research) was the French Country Cafe flavor.

Tell your people to get this treat for you!!! I have no idea how much it costs but whatever it costs, it is worth it.

You may ask where Ambrose was through all this experimentation. In his crate! Barbara thought that he should get to try the test. I knew it would be a disaster. Ambrose does not have a discriminating palate and has even been known to eat glass.

Barbara tried really hard to get him to work with her. Even when she would point to the plate, he couldn't seem to figure out that the treat was on the plate and not in her hand.

Look at his goofy expression. I fear that he has no future as a scientific researcher.

Finally he figured out that the treats were on the plates and ate them.

I hope this helps you and your people when selecting treats.

Tomorrow I am going to be in a real scientific experiment at the Duke University Canine Cognition Center. I am not sure what I will have to do in the experiment but I understand that involves foraging. I am sure that I can do that. I will let you know how it goes.