Written by Marilyn Miller
We do not have a newspaper delivered on Saturdays. Occasionally I will buy the Boston Herald for Glenn. The beginning of November I bought the paper and Glenn noticed an add for a male Lhasa Apso. We checked the phone number and it was the same breeder we got BLAZE from two years ago. I had pretty much resigned myself to just having one dog. Glenn must have wanted the puppy or he would never have shown me the add. He knew I would not waste any time calling Andus, the breeder. There was only one male left so I immediately sent a deposit. Rocko was only three weeks old when I called and this cover photo was taken. We had to wait five more weeks before we could pick him up in Quincy, Mass. It is a good thing I called as soon as I did as Andus said he had fifteen more calls shortly after mine. Rocko was the first male his mother, Noel, had had in five years. It was her last litter and she has since been spayed. Everything just fell into place, as if it were meant to be. We took Blaze with us when we picked Rocko up. We felt it was better if she met him on neutral grounds. Andus wanted to see her also as it had been two years since we picked her up. He thought she was a beautiful Lhasa and loved her hair cut. However Blaze was not allowed in the house as he had two females, the father and little Rocko. He thought a third female might be too much. Blaze never did get to meet the puppy until we got home. I am sure she could smell him in the car. Blaze was in the back of the Outback in her crate and Rocko was on my lap in the back seat after I removed him from the Sherpa bag. We did meet both parents, Noel and Nicki who were very friendly. Noel looks a lot like Blaze. They are the same parents as Blaze, and Rocko is her full brother ! These siblings get along great and they play well together. We watch them every second they are together. Blaze is three times Rocko's size and they play rough. He gives as good as he gets. When he is much larger and Spring comes it will be fun to watch them run around the yard.
We had not named the puppy before we met him. Glenn choose the name Rocko and I added the rest. Andus (for the breeder) and Jingle Bell Rock for the Christmas Season. We picked him up on Dec. 17th.
In the meantime Blaze and I have been working to improve her heeling. We work almost every day in the basement. Merrillynn Hill, our trainer, suggested putting several cones on the floor in different patterns and heel around them. Sometimes Blaze and I do weaves, serpentines, figure 8's or the Rally spirals. Also straight heeling at long distances around two cones, about turns (left and right), diagonal heeling around different cones on the floor. We do fast, slow and normal paces. Sometimes to music. I have a total of 8 cones I use. Blaze really likes these variations to heeling. She acts as if it is fun and it is. I do a few minutes on leash, then take the leash off. We also use three pvc ring gates to heel around. I set them up in different patterns and can extend or shorten the width for the left and right about turns. The heeling is definitely improving. Not too much sniffing anymore. I rarely use the long - handled wooden spoon with cheese on it to lure her head up. We limit the number of sits as they can become boring. When my neighbor Hilary comes over on Sunday mornings to help me train Blaze, I have her put the cones down on the floor in different patterns.
This morning when Hilary came over we did some Rally work for a change. I had Hilary read the Excellent cards and Blaze and I did the exercises. We did the first set on leash and repeated the exercises off leash. We always warm up a bit with a little heeling. Blaze has difficulty with the stand for exam so Hilary was the judge for that today. For some reason Blaze has started to sit on this exercise. Merrillynn suggested I keep Blaze on leash, stand at a close distance to her and help her stand if necessary. Give the "stay" command and keep tension on the leash. Have Hilary or Glenn (sometimes I do it myself) give the exam. Then I return to heel position keeping tension on the leash, pause and move off before she can sit.
I have no formal chute to use for the recalls, however it is easy to improvise. I use a couple of the broad jump boards some days. Other days we use several cones. Packages of bottled water will work, etc. The distance between the two sides of the chute should not be much wider than the length of my foot. I had been using a much wider chute so the first time I narrowed the distance between sides, Blaze took a detour around the cones. After a couple more tries with me luring her with a treat she got used to the narrowness. Now we are extending the distance of the recall into the next room. Going through the doorway "threw" Blaze the first try. I vary the exercise by setting Blaze up at different distances and angles (left or right of the shoot). Ring gates may also be used as a chute.
Since we got Rocko Blaze seems to be concentrating more on her lessons. Her heeling has improved and her attention is better. This could be because her time with me is now being shared with another dog. Or it could be that she is happy to have a playmate. Fortunately she is crazy about Rocko and he loves her. They are such fun to watch together!
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