Hoku lands in the pokey.

Hoku was pulled over and taken into custody for “not being able to see over the steering wheel and driving like a maniac.” Allegedly, he took his mother’s SUV out for a spin and  to pick up his friend, Ranger, while mother, Kathy Lam, was on vacation. No word yet from Lam as to whether or not she gave Hoku permission to do so.

Hoku contends that this was just a kangaroo court and he doesn’t like kangaroos…for obvious reasons. Ranger’s mum is unaware that he was missing at any time during the day or evening, however, she does admit to having an inability to remember much of anything in general. Investigations continue.

Ranger explains “Intermittent Reinforcement”

I usually struggle with to how to explain the concept of “Intermittent Reinforcement” in a way that is simple to understand. Ranger said he could do it. What the…? <shrug> I have no idea, but I’m too tired to question it. With that, I give you Ranger…the dog.

Hi, Ranger here. In yo face! Hee Hee

<“Ranger, you’d better be writing.”>

Intermittent Reinforcement should be called “Playing Wolf.” RrRrraR! I like it for obvious reasons, but also I don’t know what those other big words mean. This is how I use it with Mommmeeee.

<“Use my real name, please.”>

I love Mommy  Sara, but at night she does something that I don’t really like, so I decided to train her to do what I like her to do instead.

I like to sleep right next to her under the covers and in the middle of the bed. But when she sleeps she moves around a lot: Sometimes she moves so much that she kicks me and I fall out of bed. And then she doesn’t wake up or move over so that I can get back in. So, this is how I trained her.

If Sara knows that I need to go outside to use the potty, she will get out of bed to open the door. This has always been a big deal to her.  She might even still be asleep when she gets up, but she always gets up. It’s perfect for me because when I come back inside, I can zoom in and get back my spot in the bed.

I let her know I need to go outside by scratching on our front door. And, even though I’m not a puppy who doesn’t know better than to potty inside the house anymore, she still always says “Good Boy, Ranger” and then lets me get right back into bed where I like to be.

But, when I get pushed out of bed, Mommy doesn’t wake up or move out of the way so that I can get back in. So, I tried pretending that I have to go potty. I walked to the door and scratched. She got out of bed and opened it. It worked!!! Instead of going outside, I zoomed back to the bed and got back into my spot. tricked her and it worked! She laughed too ( “Very clever, Ranger”). I like making her laugh.

So, I started tricking her a lot. One time I tricked her 4 times in a night. HeeHee! Then Mommy seemed kind of mad. Instead of laughing, she said “Hey, what are you doing? I’m asleep. Stop playing games.” I didn’t want to play games either.  I was super tired too, but I wanted her to move over so that I don’t end up on the cold floor!

I thought she would understand, but then Mommy started doing something new that I didn’t like. I would scratch at the door like I always do and then…she stopped getting out of bed at all! She said, “Go to bed.” and “Stop it!” I couldn’t believe it. It made me sad.

Then one time I really DID have to go to the bathroom. But, when I scratched, she didn’t get up. That’s our signal, and it didn’t work. But, I REALLY HAD TO GO! I didn’t know what else to do, so I scratched nicely again. But, she just kept sleeping–she didn’t even yell anymore. I almost went potty in my pants, so I decided to show her how badly I needed to go. I scratched really loud and hard on the door and I didn’t stop. And you know what? Mommy got up to see what was going on.

“What’s going on?!”, she hollered.

She walked over to the door and opened it. I ran outside as fast as I could and Mommy(oops, Sara) said, “Oh, you really did have to go out! I thought you were just crying wolf again.” When I came in, she said, “Goodness. I’m sorry. I love you so much. Thank you for letting me know that you needed to go out. Ok, get into bed. Nighty Night.” She hugged me.

So, crying wolf by pretending that I needed to go outside backfired on me. She ignored me. But, when I sometimes go out, she is happy. So, I decided that sometimes I’d better go outside and at least try to go potty so that she continues to make an effort to go to the door and then even hug me. Sometimes when I fake and run back to the bed she sounds sort of mad, but I need to get back in too! So, the secret is that I keep her guessing.  And it works every, single time!

She calls it “)*#!!! Intermittant Reinforcement.” I call it “Teaching.”

Post Script by Sara: Thank you, Ranger. It really does make the concept of Intermittent Reinforcement crystal clear for me now. And you are now giving me new ideas about how to motivate you to do a few things I’ve been meaning to work on with you as well. But first, I’m ordering a new, bigger bed.

Cute, Amazing Things You Wish You Had on Film

Chai, a very handsome, smart, and rowdy husky puppy (that might have been redundant) went to the dog park with Ranger today. They had a ton of fun.

One of the most intelligent(?) or at least one of those things I never get tired of is Ranger when he understands what I want.  He just “gets it” even though I haven’t ever formally tried to train this.  Caveat: It’s not always reliable, but when he does this behavior, it is invaluable.  Might have something to do with spending so much time together that I can sort of point and suggest things and he guesses pretty well.

The park is enormous and Chai (6-mo. old puppy) went happily bounding off , to play with a group of dogs. More dogs were coming in, and I wanted to kind of help him not get caught up in a dog drama. Wasn’t critical (or I would have been over there myself) but, just trying to stay one step ahead of the predictable.

Ranger was happily cuddled up next to me. I touched him, pointed, and asked “Will you go get him?” He checked in with me and I encouraged him, “Yah, will you go get him?” and pointed again.  Yep, he understood and didn’t get distracted. He ran across to the end of the park and engaged the puppy in play and then teased him all the way back to me.

If you’re not really watching, those behaviors are really easy to dismiss or overlook, but I’m always impressed and fascinated. Yes, Ranger looks to be partially a herding breed of some type, but he really doesn’t generally exhibit herding behaviors, except an occasional classic stalking pose when something intrigues him.

The other behavior that is pretty close to this is that I can point to an object (say at the beach) and ask, “Ranger…take it.” He will look in the general direction that I’m pointing to and trot out and start to look around. When he gets near it, I can usually say, “Yep, that’s it. Take it.” He’ll pick it up and I can usually say “Bring it” and almost always, he’ll bring it back to me (or at least pretty close).

Love that.

The Games Dogs Play (1)

Numerizing these, because I’m sure there will be more.

As we know, dogs definitely play games with each other. And, often they invent the rules. Here’s a current, embarrassing (for my dog) game he plays with his small, fluffy gal pal.

Stealing

Necessary supplies: Two yummy, long-lasting chews or stuffed, frozen Kongs.

Object: Tease each other to no end and try to steal each others toys without directly intimidating or harming one another.

Recommended for: No one, especially aggressive, toy/food aggressive dogs. (I don’t even want to imagine.)

Who laughs hysterically every time these two particular dogs play this:  Sadly, me.

Why? Because the rules are:

  • Whatever you have is not as interesting as whatever the other one has.
  • Must not let the other know that you are secretly coveting and calculating how you will attempt to snatch away the item.
  • Bonus Points are awarded for the ability to snatch the other’s item and quickly return to your own and sit on it so that you have one to tease with and one to hide.

Some Strategies:

  • Chew the one item you were given (that you normally couldn’t give a **** about) as though it was what was on your Christmas list, delivered personally by Santa. This is to capture the attention of the other and develop a heightened demand.
  • If you fall for the first strategy and it is obvious that it worked on you, just admit it and go ahead and abandon your own item. Walk straight over and openly stare (from a safe-enough distance) at the one who is currently winning. Stare hard, don’t blink, and will the other one to give it up. Sometimes it works; the other one gets bored of being the champion.

THE single best strategy when you are hideously losing thus far:

  • Stop chewing. Stand up and act as bored as a DMV employee and casually walk to the front door.  Out of the blue, deliver the most shockingly, loud outburst of a bark as possible and begin to scratch at the front door. The poor, unsuspecting victim will suddenly rise and run to the door with you thus allowing you the advantage of knowing that you will dash back to their/HER bed and greedily snatch and openly, furiously, and cruelly chew on the coveted toy to upset your opponent so badly that they can’t think straight enough to understand that the process will work equally as well on the offender.

Note to originator of this amazing strategy, if you use this technique on me one more time in the middle of the night to Punk me out of bed for the purpose of letting you outside to use the restroom, only to turn around and run into the kitchen and paw at your food bowl because you’re having a snack attack (Hint: Your outfit DOES make you look chubby!), then I might decide to start playing that fun game where I pretend to throw balls into the bay for you to chase.  Respect is a two-way road, Man.

 

 

Ranger earns (and gets) an apology.

My dog barks.

Bark.

BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark

Not-so-surprisingly people who are not me are even less thrilled than I when he gets on a roll. In fact, they can get downright steamed up…(MOM).

Well Ladies and Germs,  I am a hear to howl it from my doorstep that e.v.e.r.y  dog indeed gets his DAYAYAYAY!

Let me see if I can recall the parting sweet words of praise that this unsung hero finally got to hear, “That’s a good boy, Ranger.” (Mom, 2011) The apology was not as clear to hear; it was mainly implied…even after many collection attempts on my part. I tend to think it says more about the person who can or cannot give a compliment than it does about the person (or dog) who might deserve it.

So, “check it” (I’m now Randy Jackson)… While staying with my mother the other night, I learned that a new neighbor moved in across the small lane from her. The man  wasn’t even settled in for more than a mere 3 hours when a fire truck, an ambulance, and a police car arrived and carted someone away from his place in the ambulance.  Via eavesdropping through our window (and being fortunate enough that he speaks at a volume like he’s coaching Little League), I learned that the ‘accident’ stemmed from a drunken brawl between this new guy and his ‘friends.’  It was during the drama that I commented to my mother that this 50-something, sunburned, loud boozer seemed dicey (code for ‘likely going to be the source of ongoing annoyance for my mother who craves stone-cold silence’).

That’s when she told me that, in fact, she had met him earlier in the day and that he boldly came over and introduced himself in a way that made her feel very uncomfortable (“HI THERE! I’M YOUR NEW NEIGHBOR! WANT A BEER?”). And, yes, he speaks in all caps.

On a parallel note, it is at approximately 5:30 p.m. when Ranger seems to enjoy a good bark like it’s a Cuban cigar from a private reserve. It’s nerve wrecking to my mother and annoying to me, but it IS predictable.

“Hmm!” I  thought in my head (as opposed to..?) “How about putting Ranger outside on the porch and letting him bark at whatever moves him (the neighbor)?”

And so it was.  “BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark” Every time the man either went in or out of his RV. Even as the man boldly tried to force himself onto other unsuspecting residents (i.e. ‘socialize’), Ranger demanded to be noticed and make himself the center of attention..”WOOF!” I peeked to see if Ranger was getting noticed. Check. At one point, Ranged managed even to stop the man’s loud, drunken bullsh***ng session with someone entirely and take full notice of ‘da dog.

The double-edged beauty of my K9 is that if he isn’t already your friend, he doesn’t go out of his way to solicit new friends. The harder a person tries to sweet talk him (especially if you are not a senior citizen woman), the more wild he barks.  I’ve appreciated this feature when solicitors come to the door (“What??! What? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you…the dog, you know. Bye.”) Ok, so the downside is that if he needed to be rescued, well…hopefully it would be by a senior citizen woman in a wheelchair.

For the first time, Ranger’s bark was a comforting sound to my mother. “Keep it up,” she said. “Let ‘er rip, Ranger!,” I cheered.

“Think you’ll be able to sleep well tonight?” I asked my normally fretting mother.

“I sure don’t think anybody will want to bother us if they think they have to get past Ranger first.”

“What? I can’t hear you. Did you say that Ranger’s bark is valuable??”

“Good boy, Ranger” she acknowledged.

“And what else?” I asked.

“What?”

“An apology for being annoyed with his practice barking–he has to stay in tune like you do with singing,” I pointed out.

“Yah, well…ok.  I’ll just record his voice and play it now and then to make it sound like he’s here.”

“But it’s his size and looks that achieve the total effect.”

Yah, whatever.

So, today (2 days later), I went by to visit Mom with Ranger and his little cowgirl friend, Elsie Mae. Elsie is small, white, and fluffy.

My mother was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine in her wheelchair. ‘Manchild’ was making himself right at home (and the center of attention) in front of my mother’s house drinking and playing a game of juvenile football toss with another like type.  Don’t we all pretty much  know what happens when  a football is informally thrown around people (especially people in wheelchairs who cannot easily get out of the way and are limited in their options as to where they can enjoy the outdoors? It will inevitably hit or scare someone.  Total shocker, right? And, you know how you feel when said person is your own mother.

It happened as I pulled the dogs out of the car. As predictable as Richard Simmons becoming more flamboyant by the year, the football hit my car (located about 3 feet from my mother) and went underneath it (“Heh, heh, WHOA! Heads up, folks! I’ll just come over and get it” yelled the socially deaf one.)

Before I knew it, he was walking toward us. Ranger assumed ‘the position’ and gave him his best performance of ‘This is a PRIVATE party, friend.” I backed him up by adding, “Wait! Stay there.  Let me get him into the car first. He’s not the friendly one.”

<Takes a bow>

I performed a convincing act of loading a barely restrained Ranger back into the car as the guy repeated, “Oh, he isn’t the friendly one.” I kept little Elsie with my mother.

A classic Good Cop; Bad Cop move. It worked. He carefully and quietly retrieved the ball and ended the game.

I whispered to my mother that due to current demand (and lack of prior proper appreciation), Ranger now charges $10/hour for his services. He likes cash. That golden bark and intense stare with a nice, stiff tail and rigid body posture is exquisite when desired.

She had a new appreciation for the formerly accused  “shedding parasite carrier.” I then mused aloud if it was safe for my “Golden Pipes” to be in her home. Surely I wouldn’t want to expose him to any potential parasites or chemicals that could cause him to fall ill. Mwah ahh ahhh. Victory is sweet.

I haven’t even come to the best part.  My mother’s favorite part of the day is reading everybody’s horoscope  (right before forcing us to listen to the obituaries). It’s also the time I tend to roll my eyes a lot and become semi-comatose. For the heck  of it, I asked “What sign is Ranger? What does his say?”

Turns out that he’s a Libra. And, I quote (from the San Diego Union Tribune) on the date of his first Bark-Ranger duty…

“The challenges of the day call for boldness. You bravely speak your mind, support the side you think is right, and facilitate justice. You’ll sleep soundly tonight knowing you’ve put in a solid day’s work.”

Priceless (and a little cosmically unnerving to a non believer).