Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Visit, Two Walks and "Leave it" Failure

The day was cold enough for me to need mitts when walking Black Jack, and I was in something of a take-it-easy mode, but we still spent lots of time outdoors.  l was in my housecoat, sitting on the back steps, with Black Jack on my knee, when I took the first picture, zooming in to catch what I think could possibly be a Pine Siskin in my neighbor's yard.
We then went off to Jericho for the third Sunday in a row.  I was cold, and Black Jack, on her long leash, was picking stuff up from the ground constantly.  It drove me crazy, and I felt I had only myself to blame, since Oregon Sunshine had kindly taken the time to e-mail privately several times, and she also posted a detailed plan to work on the "Leave-it" command.  What I confirmed today, although in my common sense moments, knew before, is that becoming angry and punishing her is useless.  It might work with some dogs. Not Black Jack.  My punishment, after saying "NO" and trying and failing to wrestle whatever it was out of her mouth, was to shorten her lead from the long one she loves.  I made it so short, she couldn't get her head down to the ground.  After ten minutes or so on the short lead, I tried giving her the long one again.  Boy, did that strategy backfire.  She became almost frantic about grabbing tufts of dirt, grass, anything she could get.  Today's strategy was NOT the route Oregon Sunshine had laid out, and I knew that.  I did try her plan of high and low value treats, but the problem, I think, is that Black Jack doesn't consider any treat low value.  The exercise was fun, and she quickly figured out that backing off the offered "low value" treat got her the one behind my back.  After eating that treat, she backed off again, and stared at the low value one, which I (perhaps mistakenly) gave her.  I did this for about two weeks, but gradually drifted back to our old bad habits.  And here I am again, after two very frustrating walks, determined to give it another shot.  I've reread Oregon Sunshine's plan, and, since I know the problem is my laziness, and not Black Jack's inability to learn, will try to work on my consistency first.  Anyhow, while the walk today was admittedly challenging, I did have lots of enjoyable moments too.  I liked this picture by the pond, because it shows that a grey, coldish day can have its own charms.  
Again, just like last week, I saw a heron.  I assume it is the same one, but have not confirmed that. I think I should find a name for the Jericho one.  Any suggestions?  I've gone with dp's idea of Nicky, for the long-legged, knobby-kneed one that waits across the river from my school in North Vancouver.  The one at Jericho seemed to be showing off its front feathers today.  There was a momentary burst of sun, so here are two pictures that point out its impressive and (I think) beautiful bib .

We took a different path home today, along streets that were new to me.  These crocuses, with the heather beside them, were the most vibrant I've seen yet.
This tree, just a block away from where I live, seemed particularly beautiful today.  The sun, again, came out for just a few moments, to make the photo work quite well, I think.
Bill and I had a latte at The Wicked, and I took this poor quality photo of some tiny, white flowers near the cafe. They seem to have an evergreen leaf.  I googled, hoping to identify them, but found no images that appeared to be similar.  Any ideas, dp or other readers?
Bill's sister, Phyllis, is in town to spend time with her daughter, Glenys, and her much loved new grandson, Oscar.  We all went for a walk together, and got caught up on news.  Talking with Phyllis is always great fun.  Her sense of humor, her keen observation of the world around her, and her ability to say it just like it is are just some of the qualities that I enjoy.
And Oscar!  Look at the expression in those eyes.  He is one gorgeous fellow, all decked out for Winter in Vancouver.  He reminded me that I keep pushing for Spring, when perhaps I should accept that Winter does have to run its course.  It certainly did this weekend.  Over the past couple of days, we saw sun, rain, sleet, hail and snow!  Phyllis, used to Winnipeg weather, was just fine today, and Oscar didn't complain at all.  No comment on my rather wimpy response:) 
We saw this couch during our walk.  Black Jack was quick to test it out.  
We said good-bye to Phyllis and Oscar, after an entertaining walk, and look forward to seeing them again soon.  Home to another of Bill's suppers, a long nap, a little laundry, some blogging, and now to bed.  A good day.  I always seem to sign off the same way.  Taking time to blog points out that there are a lot more positives than negatives, in most days.  As far as training goes, "Try, try again," is the word of the day.  As far as the weather goes, it's really not such a big deal to dress for it.  Oscar and Phyllis knew that, as did Bill, in his down-filled jacket. It was great to spend time with them, and it was, indeed, a good day.


  1. I love the various layers in the pond picture! It's hard to see, but could the little flowering plant outside the cafe be another type of heather? I've only this year found out what heather actually looks like (even tho, at one time I adopted that as a nickname).

    I like the gender-non-specific name "Nicky" for your one heron--tho the beard would tend to make me think "old man"--what about "Ned?"

    And the crocuses (crocusi?) are a sure sign that spring is on the way, so take heart!

  2. Also, on Oregon Sunshine's "leave it" method--we've been trying that one with Sandy and her toys (you can't play fetch if she won't give you back the toy), and having some success--as long as she knows that the treat is forthcoming. Like BJ and the low value treat, after awhile, she won't chase the toy 'cause she just wants the treat!

  3. Amazing heron pictures - I don't think I've ever seen a heron with the "beard" all flowing and fluffed out like that. I wonder if it reflects mating season? I sometimes see one in my neighbour's pond but the front is always smooth.
    I empathize with you re Black Jack's snacking habits. Oliver is fine onleash, but let him off and it's nom-nom-nom - dirt, poop, grass, snow, gravel.......I seem to be constantly on his case. And, like Black Jack, all treats are high value to him.

  4. I think EvenSong is right -- that looks like a white heather to me (there's a couple of different kinds), but I can't see the flowers clearly.

    OS's "leave it" method is very good. Mine is much less friendly, but effective for my dogs. They will get into stuff if I'm not watching, but are smart enough not to try when I am watching. I do not enforce any such rules with Titan and the pet dogs find it very unfair. The other day he was chowing down on some horse manure and Willow was looking at me as if to say "are you seeing this?"

    I keep meaning to say: yes, a good headlamp with fresh batteries will light your way on your bike -- much more effectively than something mounted on your handlebars. If you spend $50 or more you will be pleased, I think.

  5. -Evensong, thanks for the encouragement that Spring is coming, but yikes - snow again yesterday!
    -I reread Oregon Sunshine's instructions and am giving it another go. The problem, I think, is that I never made it to the second phase.
    -And you and dp are right, those little white flowers are heather. I saw some again yesterday, but for some reason, the flowers are really difficult to photograph.
    -Ned, he shall be! I'm pretty sure he is indeed a male, after Jean's question about the "beard", so it's the perfect name. Now, I have two herons, Nicky in North Van and Ned at Jericho, to know on a first name basis. The only challenge will be to figure out if any impostors lurk in the same area:)

    Jean, you were right! I found this info about mating habits: The grown heron bird has a yellow bill and long neck feathers only when it breeds. The bird also has long and showy plumes on its head, breast, and back while it is in the breeding season. It breeds in the habitat of brackish and freshwater marshes, fields, and other wetland areas. The male will perform a number of things to attract a female. For example, it flies over its own nest in three hundred and sixty-degree turns." I went back to look at the photos, and can even see the yellow bill. For some reason, I find that really exciting:) Thanks!

    dp, funny, how horse manure is appealing to so many dogs. Kim, my dog before Scott, used to come to the stable with me, and it's all coming back now:) Gross question, but do the worms transfer from horses to dogs?
    -Thanks for the light info. Have decided to get one.