Friday, October 9, 2015

An adventure before our morning appointment

D'light had an early morning appointment with his very favorite trainer - Lori Stevens.  So, I headed out extra early choosing to bring Viva along to explore the Rose Garden at Woodland Park Zoo prior to D'light's appointment.

Viva was very curious about the fountain.  She wants to jump up on the edge but, she's not sure its wide enough. She learned a lesson from a fountain at another park.  If you overshoot your jump... into the water you go! 

This is a beautiful garden and while the roses were just about gone, there were other lovely plants and flowers to look at.

We were at the garden early so we had it all to ourselves! It was nice to explore the garden and listen to the early morning birds.
We find a reflection pond and Viva goes up.  You can see that she almost went in!  Way to use your core and back leg muscles!

Viva likes walking the walls of water features

Pretty reflection pond

Viva says "I hear another water feature!"

"Lets go!"


Her attention moved to the blue jays in the trees.

The Rose Garden is 2.5 acres in size with over 200 varieties of roses

Viva could care less of the roses!  She's sure there are critters around.

A good diet, portion control and exercise gives you a fabulously fit Viva!
Time to leave the garden and start heading back to the car.

As we leave we encounter the baboons
This is typical of what Viva does if she sees something in the environment that she is uncomfortable with.  She will start to growl and want to head in. 

You can see her give a direct stare to the statue, tail flagged, tense body and she is growling.

One of many things I'm working on with Viva is that when she is uncomfortable to have her retreat from what is upsetting to her.  Ideally coming back over to me.  Right now she is still practicing that skill.  If the thing in the environment is too upsetting she reverts to old behaviors of wanting to charge at the thing.  This baboon was upsetting to her and she rapidly goes over threshold.  When a dog is over threshold they can't think about options.  Here's a good article talking about Over threshold 
Below is a video of Viva engaging with the statue.  Viva gives a lot of body language and you can see she is a fearful dog who is unsure and wants to sort this out very quickly. Viva is very smart and clearly she thinks this could be a live animal. So she goes in wanting to do a butt sniff to quickly gather the threat level.  Her tail wagging is not a friendly wag and had this statue moved she would have escalated in behavior and I would have not been taping this because we would have been moving quickly away from it to give distance between us.
Here's a great video that will give your more information about  Understanding Dog Body Language - Tails,Ears & Body
 And a good article Canine Body Language
Here are two other great videos:
Once Viva realizes this thing isn't alive and isn't a threat she moves on.

Then she finds these Baboons and they didn't create a similar response to the baboon on the ground.

She's very curious about this guys.

Love this picture of Viva with the baby baboon.

She jumps down and  goes over to see this guy again.  She didn't have the same reaction as earlier but, she doesn't want to get closer.

We move away from the baboons and find this rock.

I opt for a game of find it.  We play this game a lot on our walks.  We play it for fun, we play it after she's seen something upsetting in the environment.  The game is something she's good at, she gets food reinforcement quickly and it helps to change her current emotional state.

We play this game for a couple of minutes and continue heading back to the car.

Taking in the large flat area

Viva sees something she's curious about

We find the big ship guns from Illinois ship that served in the Spanish-American war.


Viva gets one last sniff in before we are back at the car.
Still time before our appointment so while Viva rested in the car, D'light did some crittering.
"Where are you?!"

Sniffing the air...

He ran forward a couple feet then swung around and took after whatever he smelled in the air.

Then he came running forward!

"Get out of my way MOM!"

Action shot of getting after that critter.

We had our appointment and it was wonderful.  We have a conditioning plan in place to help strength D'light's back legs and core.  We want to make sure sweet D'light can critter and lure course for many more years!
Once we were home, I went looking for Catty.  She was where Brett left her...asleep and covered under a blanket on the couch.
"Oh hi mom! I was sleeping!"

Big stretch
So many yawns...

"I'm nice and warm and want to go back to sleep so, please leave me alone!"



  1. Looks like you have a lot of beautiful parks to choose from in Seattle! What do you do with D'light when you leave him in the car? Is he crated? We are still conditioning our ratties to like riding in the stresses them out. We have yet to work on leaving them in the car (once it's cool enough to do that).

    P.S. LOVE the baboon photos :)

    1. Yes so many parks - we are very luck! D'light stays crated in the car. He travels in a soft sided, oversized crate. When D'light first came to us in foster care he was super stressed out with having to go in the car. Started with very short trips in the car and our destination was always something fun. Even if that was driving down to the end of the block, getting out of the car and playing find it with high value treats. Then back in the car home. I did that over and over, increasing distance but always going some where fun for him. By doing that you change the emotional response to the car. Most dogs only go in the car to go to the vet. That's no fun and they associate getting in the car with going to the vet. Catty had horrible car anxiety/sickeness (she would loose bladder and bowels, throw up and drool). I worked on this with her for 3 years and no progress. Then I had Nose Work as the fun thing at the end of the car ride and I gave her a raw bone to chew on as a distractor while I was driving. Changed her car riding experience and we can now travel. Viva doesn't do well crated if we are not around. However, she will crate in the car for hours on end because we go so many fun places. She has an extremely positive emotional response of the crate in the car.

  2. Thanks - we'll have to make list of fun places and start today, and see what's available around her for nose work classes!