Boneyard Crew at Runyon Canyon

Thanks to the Boneyard Crew for the great pack mentality today at Runyon Canyon! Sabrina, Finn, and Marty all helped Charlie acclimate to this thing called hiking, something he’s never done before. They were really supportive and showed him how to behave off leash on the hike. He stayed close to me most of the way but occasionally explored on his own to smell the greenery or the buttocks of another dog.

Charlie just keeps on impressing – or, moreso, shocking – me with his leaps and bounds from where he was just two months ago. I’m so proud of him!

Thanks to Tanai for the GREAT idea to do the hike. Now, we have no choice but to make this a weekly thing – we all loved how good it felt for both us humans and for our dogs!

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The Boneyard Crew at Huntingon Dog Beach

The Boneyard Crew consists of the best dog owners I’ve ever met – Karen, Gabby, Norma, Tanai, Barbara, Nancy, and so many others who’ve helped me grow in the area of dog owning. The Crew is a regular set of folks who go every weekday morning to the Boneyard dog park in Culver City to hang out, socialize, and tire out their dogs before work. It’s a great group of folks who are genuine and generous, and whom I’ve had the great pleasure to know and get close with thanks to a common thread we all share – we love our dogs! I’m thankful everyday that I started taking Charlie and Jemy to the park – otherwise, I wouldn’t have met such an awesome set of people. They’ve mentored me in how to be patient with a dog like Charlie, they give me tips about training, and some of us are even taking the same agility class! I just feel so blessed 🙂

Once we started getting closer and getting to know one another and each other’s dogs, we knew we wanted to do a doggy trip somewhere. So Karen, the appointed event coordinator of the group, tried a second time to get the group together for a trip to the Huntington Dog Beach. The first time she tried planning the trip a couple weeks ago, it ended up raining, but this past Sunday was perfect weather! It was sunny, warm, and the drive to and from Huntington Beach was short and sweet. Not everyone could make it, so it was just me, Karen, Gabby, Tanai, Tanai’s friend (her name escapes me…), Scott, Christine, and our dogs Charlie, Jemy, Franky, Finn, Sabrina, Roscoe, and Marty.

I was, of course, afraid for Charlie – I wasn’t sure how he was going to react to an unfenced dog beach. I know that at the dog park, he feels safe with the four walls of fencing so we were going into the unknown. But the Crew kept encouraging me to try it – otherwise, how would I know? When we parked my big Buick, I knew that Char would exhibit his normal leash aggression – bark at every passing dog – which he did. At one point, he escaped my hands and barked like mad at a shitzu and his owners. The owners were scared to death but I reassured them that Char was just a barker – he didn’t attack the dog or the owners but still, it was a scary thing to have a black dog aggressively bark at you. Moving on after that, I suspected that maybe bringing Char to the beach was a bad idea. Even Karen started to doubt Char’s ability to cope in the environment, which says a lot, knowing how patient she is with him.

But Charlie was completely fine once he was off his leash! He did the normal things he usually does at the dog park, which some owners wouldn’t understand – he barked at dogs first instead of sniffing their behinds. He hasn’t yet learned the social order of things, which I’ve accepted. We’re working on it. He even tried going into the water, but once a wave hit him, he was done. That’s fine. Running on the beach is a good alternative anyway – I find that he gets restless just lounging on the beach towel and starts barking at everything so I just have to be proactive and take him on walks or jogs around the beach every now and then.

What a great day at the beach, besides a few incidents with Charlie and the other dogs in the group. I wait for the day when he can truly relax and play with them, like I know he wants to.

Huntington Dog Beach is a great spot for you and your dog and it’s a perfect time to go with summertime just around the corner. Go before it gets too busy! And as promised, here are some pictures and a video showing the dogs in action at the beach!

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Charlie’s 2nd agility class (Zoom Room Culver City)

Charlie’s 2nd class was postponed thanks to the Easter holiday and I was afraid he’d forget all the commands between the 2-week break.

But gratefully, he’s too smart to forget– he did a great job today and I’m so proud! And what impressed Karen and me even more (yay, classmates!) was how calm Charlie was immediately after entering the classroom. I was afraid he’d be really leash aggressive toward the 5 other dogs but he was quiet, calm and submissive.

Our trainer was just as impressed with him this time around as she was the first time she met him two weeks ago. He did everything so well – “A-frame!” “Mark!” “Tunnel!” We’ve finally found his calling in life and I’m so excited for the next class.

The only problem we had today was with a puppy Charlie didn’t particularly like – everytime the pup would go up for his turn to practice, Char would go crazy. I’ve never really learned how to keep his leash aggression under control but at least he didn’t bark until the pup walked across the room. Otherwise, Char would ignore him. I expected the trainer would help me with that, but me and the other classmates like Karen, Lisa and Scott, all realized that maybe the trainer was too focused on agility rather than overall behavior.

We all went to Boneyard after class to enjoy the beautiful, sunny day with our dogs. Char continued to impress Karen and me – a few times (more times than ever) he left my side to approach a dog to play. None were too interested in him so Char quickly gave up, but in any case, this was the most confident I’ve seen him. Perhaps it was his confidence from agility class that gave him enough courage to approach a couple dogs, and I know the only way for his confidence to go is up.

This post is in desperate need for pictures and video, so I promise both for the next agility post! I also need to remember to take pictures of all of us, we have such a cute group of dogs– Franky, Simba, Finn, and Char. But we’re going to a dog beach in Huntington Beach tomorrow so pictures to come, for sure!

As always – Good boy, Charlie!

Charlie’s 1st agility class at Zoom Room

Charlie’s not a social dog. (He has exactly 2 close doggy friends – my chihuahua-pug Jemy and my sister’s pomeranian-chihuahua mix, Twix – with whom he’s most comfortable around and can play with like a normal socialized dog.) A month ago, I started taking him to the dog park hoping to address his anti-social disposition. With our constant visits on weekday morning and some evenings, he’s made a few acquaintances – this just means he’s become indifferent toward them rather than fully interested – like Finn, a basenji mix; Charlie, a terrier mix; Sasha, a pit bull; and Sabrina, a mini pinscher. But with strange dogs or strange people, he doesn’t quite know what to do or how to say hi. He becomes an anxious, nervous dog in scenarios heavy with strangers, especially at the dog park – he barks at every new dog he’s never met and herds them when he sees them run around and chase each other.

Taking him to the dog park to address his social skills, it turns out, isn’t enough, though. So I consulted a trainer at Zoom Room Culver City and asked if an obedience class would be appropriate. But the trainer recognized that Charlie was already an obedient dog in some aspects, so obedience class wouldn’t be entirely helpful in addressing his social skills. Instead, to raise his confidence, he recommended Agility 1, and at that moment, I was the happiest girl in the world. I had searched so long for a program like it but was never successful. Thanks to Karen who recommended Zoom Room!

We had our first class yesterday morning and I’ve never been more proud of Charlie. The trainer, Stephanie, was so impressed with him, knowing how nervous and shy he is. Despite his disposition, he picked up everything without a problem – learning the concept of the ultimate Table, walking across the a-frame, walking through the weave poles, jumping over the hurdle (just 12″ for the first class but I know he can clear at least 2 feet), and coming to me through the tunnel. She said that it helped he was shy since all he wanted to do was please me – most dogs can’t get through all the features in the first session, shy or not. And by the end of the 30-minute session, Charlie was panting and relaxed. What a proud mother I was!

And later in the evening, when I brought him to the dog park, though he still expressed his nervousness with some barking every now and then, I was an even prouder mom when he started playing with a poodle mix. He chased dogs every now and then as usual, more out of intimidation than anything else, but with the poodle, he did that playful bow that expresses friendliness between dogs. He’d never ever done that to a dog outside of his close doggy friends, and I raised my hands in victory and yelled “Landmark!” to Karen, who was there to witness the whole thing.

What a great day for Charlie. Good boy, Charlie! Eventually, let’s enter some agility competitions, like the FCI Agility World Championship, okay?