Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jury Selection for Vick

This comic is drawn by Gary Varvel - he is an editorial cartoonist for The Star. A friend sent this to me and I had to share....

Monday, August 27, 2007

The private that wasn't, more raw, etc.

I guess Ike and I are having our summer break at the moment! No trials scheduled until September, no classes except Agility-For-Fun, minimal rehab/nursing home visits....Jeez, the world must be ending. In reality though, it's not a bad thing.... # 1 Ike does deserve some down time occasionally and # 2 it allows me to over-research the BARF diet and the decision to feed raw. Anyone that knows me well, or has any intention of knowing me well, quickly learns that I research things to death. It's just the way I am. I figure if you have a problem/question research and more research is the answer!

Of course, all this research about raw is making my head spin. There is just too much info out there. I have joined a raw New England e-list and I am hoping that will be helpful, I am reading The BARF Diet by Billinghurst, and searching the web at a ridiculous rate for more info, more info!

Ike was very good at Agility-for-Fun Saturday. It was really hot even at 9am, so anything I got out of Ike was a bonus. That dog hates the heat! We still have a ridiculously slow chute performance and I am not sure how to speed that up....The impression I get from the way Ike does the chute is, he enters the tunnel, sees the closed fabric, takes a deep breath and STEELS himself before CRAWLING through. I *think* he is still afraid, even though he braves his way through. I know there *MUST* be a way to get a confident quick performance out of him....I wonder if I use canned evo when he starts to emerge form the chute if that might excite him a bit more.

I arranged to have a private lesson on Saturday at 3pm. I was looking into taking an agility class while Katrin is taking her summer break, and wanted to have a private with the instructor prior to enrolling in one of her classes. The trainer called about an hour before the lesson was scheduled and suggested rescheduling due to the heat. I returned her call, left her a message saying that made sense and please call me to reschedule. No call to reschedule yet. It was ridiculously hard to get a hold of this individual and set up the appointment, so I have decided the performance gods are trying to tell me to just sit tight and work on what I can until October rolls around. She referred to Ike as having a motivational issues. Interesting, because to me Ike is motivated he just isn't fast. He's methodical as all heck, and willing to work for me, but SLOW! Maybe I don't understand what a motivational issue is, perhaps the fact that I can't motivate Ike to move quickly is a motivational issue? Thoughts?

I am in the midst of doing lots of doggie reading during this downtime. I just finished For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend by Patricia B. McConnell. I particularly like the chapter on fear, having dealt with quite a bit of it with Mister Ike. However, overall I enjoyed her previous book, The Other End of the Leash MUCH more. Part of the reason I am only lukewarm about this book is because I am not quite clear who the audience for it is. There wasn't quite enough training info to keep me completely hooked and yet there was too much behavior info for the average pet owner. So overall, I liked it but I am not sure who I would recommend it to.

I am about a third of the way into Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote. I can not put this book down - Mr. Kerasote is a nature writer and that would be writer with a capital W. The writing is gorgeous. It is the story of his coming across Merle, a 10-month old stray in Utah and deciding to keep him. It's interesting because this book is written by someone who isn't a dog person/dog trainer, but has obviously done a LOT of research. So far, I really like this book - I'll let you know if that changes as I continue to read it.

I am bringing Ike to the ARFF trial on Sunday. I did not enter him in any classes; I am bringing him for the trial exposure and to build up his stamina. The dual benefit is that I can check out the USDAA atmosphere and think about whether I want to enter Ike in any upcoming USDAA trials or stick with CPE, NADAC, and ASCA (I am entering another ASCA trial in February).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Act-Up Agility Club/ASCA All-Breed Trial, Seekonk, MA

Sunday Ike and I attended the Act-Up Agility Club/ASCA All-Breed Trial in Seekonk, MA at Canine Mastery.

It went really well, although it was a TERRIBLY long day. Apparently the judge is known for being very SLOW. We were entered in a Regular class and two jumpers. Ike ran really well in his regular class - in that he took the teeter and dog walk even though he found them scary. We ran cleanly but our course time was 91 seconds!! I think the max time allowed was something like 49 seconds!!

We scratched our final jumpers class because we finished running the first jumpers class at 5:30!! Can you believe that? Ike and I were just too tired.

And my poor, good friends Michele and Marlene came to check out the trial and be supportive and arrived after Ike's regular class; and his jumpers class didn't get under way until something ridiculous like 4:30! Bummer. Thank you ladies for coming. We appreciated it very much!

Some really positive points about the trial .... Ike's performance in Regular - He trusted me even though he really wasn't sure about the teeter and dog walk. In jumpers - he was TIRED after a long and stimulating day but tried hard for me and only knocked one bar. Considering we were jumping 16" which he is not terribly fond of, I am pleased! And his crating behavior was stupendous. I brought a sheet and covered his crate part-way. I left him crated for a little less than an hour at a time and he actually slept! This is a huge, huge deal for a dog that was never previously crated in a super stimulating environment.

So, although we didn't Q, I am pleased with our "performance." I also decided that I am going to really focus on CPE and maybe NADAC (really haven't decided about that yet), because they are much more Ike's speed and personality. I mentioned this on the Performance Schnauzer list and the recommended continuing to try and compete in ASCA as well since the course flow is so similar to NADAC.

Something I do wonder is when or if Ike will become better at regulating his energy expenditures. Does that make sense? He gets SO pooped at the trials. Does everyone's dog go through this?

I noticed on Sunday that Ike requested his crate more frequently and actually slept in it versus at the Adams trial where he always seemed to be standing around trying to figure out what to do with himself. I hope that this means he is getting better at self-regulating because this will be good for my trialing dreams.

I asked the performance Schnauzer list what they thought I could do to help Ike's stamina and everyone suggested 2 - 3 mile walks/hikes. One woman recommended Carnivore Cookies - I will have to find more time to walk with Ike. I am not sure when this will be though!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Okay, it is official.....

I need to enroll Carmen in an agility class with Katrin. Let me explain....

Today I had Agility-for-Fun at the Shelter. Ike was a VERY good boy; apparently the key to that is John, my husband, not coming to class. Who knew!? Tony, the fellow I train with at the Shelter, let me take home a teeter that we never use in class. As I mentioned in my last post Ike has been having some issues with "real" teeters; he loves the baby teeter at the Shelter.

So, I get to my in-law's house with the new-to-me teeter. I asked John if he would come over and help me unload it and bring Ike. It took some luring to get Ike to get up on the teeter. He has had a few instances where he was going too fast and flew off the end of Katrin's teeter. I think the fly-offs combined with his general personality is what has made him so wary. He feels like he shouldn't risk his tail unless there are major treats involved! He's a smart cookie that Ike.

So, really quickly I have Ike doing the teeter with a bit of confidence. Yay; that's great. My in-laws ask if I will try Carmen. So, with minimal luring Carmen is FLYING up the teeter. Holy crap, she is a focused dog. I swear I don't know if it is the one-on-one interacting, the treats, or just the "playing" that gets her so revved. Within five minutes Carmen is doing the teeter with more speed and confidence than Ike will EVER do the teeter. They are such incredibly different dogs.

So, we continued to horse around for a while. Then, out of nowhere Ike aggressively instigates play in a very Carmen-like manner. He's jealous! Katrin mentioned that a puppy might add some speed to Ike, that the competitive drive might kick in. Well, I do not think we need to wait for a puppy. I think Carmen might be able to get the boy kick-started!! I absolutely want to enroll her in a class. It would be good for her mentally; she obviously really enjoys the interaction. And it might be GREAT for Ike.

We are headed to Canine Mastery tomorrow for the Act-Up/ASCA trial. The weather is supposed to be much like today, cool and sunny. This is Ike's kind of weather.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

AgileDogs CPE Trial - Adams, MA

Well, this weekend was Ike's first trial. It went REALLY well. We got our first Q and it is a blue ribbon! Of course, that is because Ike was the only dog in the class for his height! However, if we hadn't qualified we wouldn't have gotten that pretty colored ribbon.

Our first class was Fullhouse which we bombed. In part I think this is because we (my friend Michele, Ike, and I) got off Route 91 and picked up Route 2 WAY too early. This turned a 1 hour drive from Northampton, MA to Adams, MA into nearly two (2!!) hours! The judge was leaving the registration area when we arrived; she measured us on her way out! And then it wasn't too long before we were heading into the ring.

The basics of Fullhouse: Obstacles are worth a certain amount of points. Jumps are 1 point, circles (tunnels and tire) are worth 3 points, the judge names the Joker and it is worth 5 points. For a Level One dog and handler the team must accrue 19 points. You are allowed to accrue these points by taking obstacles of your choice in any order. When you hear the buzzer dog and handler must go to the table. The dog must touch at least one paw to the table.

Since Ike is such a slowpoke I thought the teeter was the answer and tried to start our run with it. Ike took two steps up the teeter, stopped cold, and said, "This isn't my teeter." I was being bold - I should have tried to make as many points as I could w/o pushing Ike first thing. But 5 points.... it would have really helped us out. Instead we got 5 pts in total (jump, tunnel, table). Ah well, on the bright side I wasn't upset with Ike - I know he has some teeter issues. And now I know I MUST work much harder on this obstacle.

Second class was Standard - Ike was AWESOME!! Especially considering I had brain freeze half-way through the course and forgot where we were going. I didn't hear the buzzer and thought we Q'd; he did so well. But nope we did not Q; not surprisingly we were a bit too slow! He was super though - took the dog walk, a-frame, tire, and spread jumps without a hitch. After the teeter balk in Fullhouse I was really nervous that this might be a contact issue.

Third class was Wildcard which was where we got our Q. Nice game; I really liked it. It made "sense" to me and Ike was great.

Wildcard Basics: Essentially the judge sets up a course where you can chose one of two ways to complete it, multiple times during the course. For Level One there were three scenarios labeled "a" and "b" that the handler must chose an option. The catch is that you must have one "b" option and two "a" options, I think. I'll have to look at my rule book. This becomes an issue if you have a dog that suffers from tunnel-suck or you aren't giving clear signals to your dog. Seems to me that the fun and difficult part of these game classes is that the courses are almost designed to make the dog chose its favorite obstacle and this can then require strategizing on the fly for the handler.

So Ike was really good about following my lead and I was really good about positioning my body so he knew what my lead was. Hence the Q. Yippee!!

Final class was Snooker and Ike was TOAST (and I was majorly confused!). He took the jump, tunnel and then spotted my friend Michele outside the ring and thought she might save him from the taskmaster mum!!

I really do not get Snooker. Jumps are flagged with a red flag and then other obstacles are considered colors and numbered (2 thru 7). So the handler and dog take a red obstacle and then a color obstacle. They must do this three times and then complete the obstacles in the numbered order all within course time. First, I think this game requires a ton of strategizing and in our Snooker course there were two obstacle "combos." I have no idea if "combos" are a normal sight on a Snooker course or not. Either way, this was the only time during the day that I was extremely stressed out. I just didn't get it. With both Wildcard and Fullhouse the courses and point of the game made sense for me during and after the class - not with Snooker.

Cat, if you are out there, USDAA has a Snooker class right? Can you explain?? I am going to post to the Performance Schnauzer list and see if anyone can help me make sense of this. I think trial-by-fire is typically one of the better ways that I personally learn and I certainly will continue to enroll in Snooker classes, but I would LOVE to know what the heck I am trying to do!

All in all it was a super weekend. Everyone was super nice, the weather was great, and Ike handled the environment and classes with aplomb! Yippeee!!!!!!!!

And now I know I need a teeter for home!

My friend Michele took a boatload of pics and video which I will share and here is a link to the professional photographer Barry Rosen's web site. You can see that Ike looks happy! And you will see there was another Schnauzer there!

Monday, August 6, 2007

a stellar weekend....

Ike continued his stellar doggie behavior all weekend. Holy dog gods....mark this day.

Ike was terrific at Agilty-for-Fun Saturday at the Shelter, even though by 9am we were already melting. I am so grateful Ike doesn't mind being soaked! There was no real lesson to this week's Agility-For-Fun class - we were all just back after a month off with a new dog in class.

The new dog is Ruby a 2-yo pug who has a bit of an attitude. Ike liked her, so that was very cool. Ike is the only male dog in the 9 am class, the rest are females. Predictably there was some tension between some of the dogs. Hopefully Angela (the owner) and Ruby will arrive early next week and Ruby can get to know the other dogs in class.

Since I help train the Agility-for-Fun classes I know Ruby from her earlier classes; it was interesting to see her behaving in such a subdued manner! Obviously she wasn't sure about the dynamics of the class.

Ike was his typical slow-poke self in class, but he really listened to me and did what I requested instead of doing his favorite obstacles (seesaw, anyone?!). I don't know if this was just Ike having a great day or if it was because John wasn't there. It will be interesting to see how he is on Sunday - John won't be coming to the trial, my friend Michele is instead.

Sunday Ike and I hit playgroup at the Shelter. Ike accepted much love from various tall men which was AWESOME! He also developed a dog-crush on a new-to-playgroup shy rescue named Lucy. This is the second red female dog that Ike has taken a distinct liking to - it makes me think about my next dog....would I consider a female? There was a lot of chase, playing, wrestling, and a couple of scuffles and Ike did not do his fun police routine. Hooray!! He also got into the kiddie pool by himself again - YES!

About a half-hour into the big dog playgroup Ike came and got me, so we headed home. Between the heat and all the dogs I could tell he had-had enough. We stopped at Crescent Ridge Dairy and shared a vanilla frozen yogurt; he deserved a treat for being such a good boy.

Next Saturday evening we will head out to Northampton to stay at a friend's house in preparation for the Agile Dogs trial in Adams, MA. I think an hour ride from Northampton to Adams versus a three hour ride from Canton to Adams will be a lot easier on Ike! I am nervous, isn't that goofy? I think I better start taking Rescue Remedy myself!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Where in the world is Ike!

Ike has been on sabbatical the past week, just kidding. We aren't currently enrolled in an obedience class and Katrin is on vacation, so things have been quiet (TOO quiet!). We have been spending a lot of time working with our target plate, aka the "fun plate," and working on our board and distance.

Our "board" is a 6' long, 12" wide, 1" thick piece of wood cover with rug grip (the stuff you use beneath throw rugs so they don't skate around). I actually bought a second board and some hinges to make a mini A-frame/dog walk/whatever. One of our biggest challenges is distance and since I do not see myself being able to afford a real dog walk or seesaw any time in the near future I might as well see what I can concoct! The funny thing is that I got the new issue of Clean Run yesterday and it has directions to make this very thing. Of course, the suggestion is to use it with a puppy. Ah well, we are where we are!

We have been using this a lot inside, and Ike seems to be doing well. I need to move it outside and set up some tape at various distances and see how he does with distraction and more distance.

I am REALLY missing not having class and am worried (only a little bit) about what I'll do when Katrin goes on her long vacation. I will have to see when Esther's next session starts and see if I can get into it.

Yesterday I stopped by Coolen's Aquarium & Pet Supply to pick up pellets and shavings for the pigs, seed mix for the cockatiels, treats for Ike, and a special chew for him. Today is test day for the Shelter's CGC classes, and Ike is going to be the unknown dog for the dog-dog interaction (or lack of interaction) component. So I want him to have something super yummy for when he needs to be crated!

The good news is....

I was able to convince John that we want to be feeding Ike raw. Now I need to pick up The BARF Diet by Billinghurst and decide whether I am going to do a commercially prepared raw diet, and if yes will it be a complete commercial raw diet or will I supplement, or go raw-raw, i.e. not commercially prepared. Yesterday when I was in Coolen's I was talking to the fellow who owns the store and he gave me a "starter kit" of Primal Pet Food to try. They are out of San Francisco and offer both raw supplies and complete raw diet. I currently feed Ike Nature's Variety by Prairie, so I lean towards feeding Nature's Variety Raw if I am going to go with a commercial brand, but the Primal complete diet does have a lot of great stuff in it. I'll have to pick Katrin's brain when she returns from her vacation - she has been feeding her dogs raw for seven years or so. And a plug for Coolen's....I get almost all of my supplies there. Guy, the owner is willing to order anything I need in bulk; and that is important since I have 1 dog, 4 guinea pigs, and 4 birds!

An Update....

Ike was fabulous at the Shelter tonight. I am very proud of my boy. He was at the shelter for about 3 hours, crated on and off, and he was only minimally barky (and only after the 2nd hour). He was an excellent boy with the dog-dog meeting. Yay, Ike!!

EO results

The European Open results are posted and Leslie Anderson has shared some pics from her trip; Anna and Harry were members of her team. Anna and Harry placed 52nd out of 277 in the Jumpers class. Their team, which consisted of three Schnauzers and a Sheltie were ranked 25th in the team rankings.

Of the USA dogs, Zoom was ranked 5th overall, Nigel was ranked 8th overall, and Harry was ranked 12th overall. wow!! There were 35 dogs on the USA team.

Apparently the consistency of the rings was pretty terrible - a sand mixture. It was compacted every morning but by the end of the day it was like running on the beach. Imagine! And Italy was in the midst of a heat wave; Some little Schnauzer I know would have been MISERABLE!

Here are some photos of the Schnauzer team and a link with a load of EO pics.

Leslie & Zoom, Webb & Nigel, Anna & Harry

Schnauzer butts

The Whole Team