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JLM
California
Journalist and obsessive amateur dog handler.
Recent Activity
I'm moving this blog to WordPress. The new url: http://fivestationsdog.com . Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Five Stations of the Dog
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If you have any kind of social conscience or sense of responsibility to our wounded planet, the single-minded intensity of dog training can leave you with the heavy guilt of misspent days. (I can see it now, my dismal epitaph: “While the climate changed, she ran around with dogs.”) Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2014 at Five Stations of the Dog
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For Thomas to lie down in a group of unfamiliar dogs, almost every one of them bigger than he is, requires enormous reserves of confidence and self-control, reserves he has built up gradually over seven years of conscientious work. It also requires trust. By leaving and not looking nervously back, I signal to him that he is safe. And he always has been. Thomas fails groups sometimes. He has stretched out lazily during more than one long sit; he's been made nervous by jumpy labs. He’s even left the ring to jump in a lake and chase fish. But he’s never had an actual conflict with a dog. Until, that is, we were one group stay away from a UDX leg on this hot San Diego morning. Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Five Stations of the Dog
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I think my dogs would like Sage Kotsenburg. I think my dogs would like it if I were Sage Kotsenburg, or could at least emulate the Kotsenburgian sureness that all will be okay because it is always okay. That whatever it is, it is what it is, whether you stick your landing or fall on your butt. Nothing important is riding on anything, because in the end a gold medal isn't as important as whether you enjoyed yourself getting it. Shred and have fun. That's it. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2014 at Five Stations of the Dog
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The judge could not believe how badly I threw the dumbbell. On the first attempt, it fell short of the jump. On the second, it flew low and banged into it. On the third, we both had to duck. Exercised finished. Finally, with my confused dog (Tabitha this time, my... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
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I saw the Malinois and her handler, floating so beautifully from one station to the next, performing each exercise with a clarity and precision I didn't even consider might be possible with a dog. It looked to me like an extended magic trick. And when I got home, I acted out parts of it for Billy: “The person rubs her hands all over a metal dumbbell and then the judge takes it away with a tongs — a TONGS! — and puts it in a pile of other dumbbells. And then the dog has to find it with her nose!” Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
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It was in this raw frame of my mind that I arrived at the Ventura Fairgrounds on Friday morning to take another stab at Utility A with Thomas. Dogs don’t allow you to brood while you work with them — I mean, you can brood, and they will sit nearby and watch you, but you cannot brood and have the clarity to issue commands or engage in a meaningful game of tug. If you are distracted, the dogs will busy themselves with other things. You will blame them, as I did Friday morning when Thomas launched a screaming terrier attack on a perfectly calm Bernese Mountain dog a half-hour before we were due in the ring. Ten minutes later when he went after a husky, I thought maybe the crowd was getting to him; Ventura Summerfest is a busy, stinky, nerve-wracking show. I think I understand now that the crowd was getting to me. Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
JLM is now following Barbara Abercrombie
Jun 28, 2013
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I’m not saying there aren’t challenges specific to training a terrier. I personally lack the experience to say what they are, though, because I didn't know about this deficiency until I got into this competitive obedience racket five or six years ago. Like my friend and her silky, I didn’t pick the dog for the sport. I started “seriously considering” obedience competition well into the process of training the dog I already had. That dog happened to be a cairn terrier named Thomas, who was getting nice enough scores in Novice A to inspire me to pursue the matter through Utility. I thought he was great. I had no basis for comparison. Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
Excellent analysis.
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2013 on The Great Spoiler at Living the Romantic Comedy
1 reply
I just saw a couple of screaming fast Welsh Terriers in agility this past weekend — I think they're great dogs. David, you may in fact be a terrier person. In fact, I'm sure you are.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2013 on The Do-Over Dog at Five Stations of the Dog
JLM is now following Catherine Svehla
May 28, 2013
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My regret was not that I didn’t let him go sooner. My regret, silly as it sounds, was that I had trained him and taught him tricks and taken him with my everywhere, and yet never put him into the obedience ring where I could show off all that he was. Blame the legacy of Toto: I had grown up believing that the Cairn Terrier was among the smartest and most noble and biddable of dogs, and neither the patient and brilliant trainer I had worked with, Marion Lewis (then of River Falls, Wisconsin), nor Seamus himself disabused me of this notion. For 15 years he did not see leash; he walked so reliably near me on the streets of Hollywood that I kept losing whatever leashes I had for him. He jumped into my arms on command, sang, sat up and begged, retrieved without coercion. Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
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Learned helplessness refers to a discovery psycho-behaviorist Martin Seligman made in the late 1960s while messing with the minds of dogs; dogs exposed to electric shocks and offered no way out stopped trying to escape even when a solution became clear. A less dismal version of a similar phenomenon is what Ur-clicker-trainer Karen Pryor calls “extinction”: You, the rat, hit the lever over and over and no little piece of food comes out. You, the dog, scratch on the box where the scent is and yet never hear the click and get the Charlie Bear. You, the human, venture into the competition ring over and over again and yet never get to stand with the judge and other qualifying teams and receive that little green ribbon that says success. You get anxious. Depressed. Eventually you stop trying. Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
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I am the owner/handler/guardian/whatever of two spectacularly well-trained dogs, Thomas, a seven-year-old Cairn Terrier, and Tabitha, a four-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier (you can call her a pit bull; she's a rescue and probably is one). I compete with them in one sport or another nearly every weekend. I'm obsessed with them, with the game and sport of agility and the Supreme and Limitless Challenge of competition obedience, and with their furious ability to learn and play and surprise me and think and generally just be awesome. Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2013 at Five Stations of the Dog
JLM is now following The Typepad Team
May 3, 2013