Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bizarro - hee, hee

I love DawnWatch (an animal advocacy e-mail)!! If you are interested, you can sign up for your own e-mail media alerts here.

Visit with Dr. Anne

I took Ike in to see Dr. Anne today for a tune-up and to pick her brain a bit about Ike's steady weight (while there is a dearth of calories), chicken wings, and tick repellents.

First, and most importantly, Dr. Anne said Ike's pelvis has held up very well. Even with the indoor trials his body was in good shape. Hooray!

I mentioned to her that I was trying to have Ike lose a half pound, maybe a pound, and that it just wasn't happening. For those of you who haven't been to see Dr. Anne, not only is she a chiropractor and a homeopath, but she also practices kinesiology.

From the Applied Kinesiology web site (you all know how terrible I am at explaining things!):
Applied kinesiology (AK) is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person’s body is functioning. When properly applied, the outcome of an AK diagnosis will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Since AK draws together the core elements of many complementary therapies, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to health care.

Wendy Volhard has a very readable chapter on it in her book The Holistic Guide for the Healthy Dog (a good resource, and one I need to add to my dog-book library).

Anyway, Dr. Anne asked Ike if he had low thyroid. The answer was yes. She selected a bottle of powder and then asked what amount of supplement for Canine Thyroid he should be given (1/4 teaspoon 2x day). Interesting. I mentioned to her that his test results has just come back as completely normal and she suggested it could be that his thyroid is sub-clinically lower than normal. So, I am going to give it a go.

I told her that I am now feeding Ike a completely raw diet but not as many whole bones as I would like. Ike really does not seem to like chicken wings no matter what I do to them (smash 'em, cut them up, etc). Anne suggested if I wasn't using organic chicken wings (I'm not) that I try organic. She said her Kelpie will not eat non-organic chicken wings! In fact he has gone so far as to urinate on them.

So I am going to pick up some organic chicken wings and see if it makes a difference. I am also considering ordering some quail from Hare Today an on-line raw food supplier. Anne also suggested that lamb's neck would be appropriate - I mentioned the high incidence of pancreatitis in Schnauzers and she didn't feel like the occasional lamb's neck would send Ike into pancreatic shock when he eats well over all.

Finally I asked her what should would recommend for ticks. I currently add BugOff Garlic to Ike's meals and while that works well for fleas, lately I have been finding a fair amount of ticks on him. I had just read (oh, the danger of the web) that black walnut hull can be given with your dog's food twice a day to repel ticks. When I told Anne that, she told me it was a poison and recommended a spray instead! If anyone is interested, let me know and I will share. It is simple and not as strong as some other natural oil sprays.

We have a follow-up appointment in two weeks for a final all over tune-up.

Updated Course Set-Up

Thank you, Katrin!

As Katrin mentioned in her comment in the previous post, the entire lesson was about attempting to view the course from your dog's perspective and how that perspective should inform your handling decisions. This is why the theory of arcs works for a dog - if you are in a stay behind the left wing of the first jump, and your handler is out by the 3rd jump, well duh why would you even consider the tunnel? Dog-sense.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Handler Exercises

Otherwise known as exercises in futility! Just kidding.

Below is a rough approximation of our course last night. Rough because I made it in PowerPoint and because if we didn't actually do an obstacle during class I can't recall it. And it obviously doesn't count if Ike just *chose* to do it - JUST KIDDING. I have limited memory power; need to start eating some Ginko or something!

We started off class doing the two wing jumps (those are the ones with the cute little blue boxes) and the single jump, then a switch and single jump into the tunnel. Katrin asked us to do a back cross/switch after the first single jump. With Ike, in my heart-of-obvious-hearts, I wanted to do a front cross after the first single jump. However I did the requested back cross, and this is a great thing because I need practice on how the heck to do those. Someday I will have a dog that is not Ike.

Katrin suggested setting our dogs up to the left of the first wing jump (right behind the wing) and putting them in a stay so they need to hop the first jump. Start-line stays are kind of new to me. I typically do not do lead outs with Ike because in the beginning (of our competitive agility training) I was so concerned about demotivating him. Now that he enjoys agility it is kind of a moot point and in fact might actually help us out, so start-line stays and lead-outs here we come.

Anyway, Katrin introduced us to her theory of arcs, essentially, a dog will be inclined to act somewhat like a boomerang and arc back in the direction from which they started with momentum. In this case, that meant choosing the single jump over the tunnel and it worked beautifully. My uneducated inclination was to do the exact opposite, start the dog on an angle behind the right wing. I was thinking he would move in a straight line. Eh....the things you learn.

Ike handled this really well. I was surprised and thought he would go for the tunnel. Yay for the theory of arcs! Of course, considering he still doesn't really know switch that well, as I prefer practicing the table, I almost stomped on him when I did the back cross. We both recovered much more quickly than we would have a year ago! I suspect with more practicing of switch at home and some more back cross practice this will stop being an issue for us. Hooray. At one point with Ike I just assumed we would never be able to do a back cross! I still have a preference for front-crosses considering the speed Ike typically moves at, though!

Next we did two wing jumps, tunnel, double jump, weave poles, dog does a 180 into the second set of weave poles. Ike had a heck of a time chosing the tunnel over the single jump. First it was my fault, I kept moving and he was just watching my forward movement, then I dropped my hand too soon and it looked like I was cuing him to do the single jump even though verbally I was yelling tunnel. Then he was somewhat pattern trained. However Ike responds super well to a verbal uh-uh (which I do try to avoid nowadays) and I was finally able to get him to do the tunnel.

HOWEVER, again with the bad handler, I wanted to reward him after the double jump and I bent down and was kind of facing him which caused him to drop the bar (should have just done it before the double - screw momentum - this is practice). ARGH!! Poor Ike. Thank gods he is a forgiving pooch. Onto the weaves in a 180 formation. I ended up handling this as Katrin suggested, by staying between the two sets of weaves, even though I wanted to babysit Ike and do a front cross so I could be on the entrance side of the second set of weaves.

It was a challenging class for me. Ike is at a wonderful point where he just enjoys agility, so I think he had fun too. And even though both dogs in our class are young and playful Ike does not get overly upset about this. In fact, he appears to like them. Yay, Ike!!

Table, Part II

We worked on shaping the table some more last night. Ike isn't quite sure where I am going with this. He is laying down beside the table with one paw on it. Occasionally he is laying down on the table. Hooray! He doesn't seem to get that I want him to lay down on the table. That might be because right now the table is a very similar color to my rug. Hmmm....not exactly what one calls setting their dog up for success. I will have to move downstairs into my mud room which has a lovely 70's era orange rug, a nice contrast to my yet unpainted plywood.

He understands I want a down - he just isn't able to discriminate where yet. It would make the most sense if I just finished making the table and then worked on it. Otherwise, hmmm, I might just have to start over anyway. Ah well, it is an excellent training exercise for both of us. My patience grows daily! ; P

I heard from Dr. Warner yesterday. All of Ike's bloodwork is completely normal! Apparently he just has a slow metabolism!! I am going to call her back - I was half asleep when I spoke with her so am afraid I didn't ask all the questions I wanted to. Like, does this mean he is just the size he is supposed to be!? : P

I was running late again this morning so Ike got to deal with a gaggle of teenagers; and he was such a good boy. He continues to amaze me!! per the recommendation of my rawfed list (they can be a bit nazi-like about food) I have stopped giving Ike any treats that aren't just meat. I am mixing in some evo cat food and dog food with his regular jerky type treats. Theories abound that dogs store the food their bodies reject as fat, etc. I am not sure I totally buy in to the theory but it certainly can not hurt to try cutting out Charlie Bears, etc.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The truth about adding a dog to my family....

Well, the truth is out. John is apparentally a fan of the "devil you know" saying.

Saturday night, Marlene and I came home from the Thanksgiving Cluster having seen MANY gorgeous dogs, including Harry (Anna Ericsson's super-fast Schnauzer). We were teasing John that we had a Cardigan out in her truck for him, when John said he would be fine with another Schnauzer, that-that is what he wants. He quickly followed that statement up by saying we need to own a house, etc. But, I think the crux of the dog issue is that he wants another Schnauzer!

The new issue of Clean Run arrived today and the On Course article is with Webb and Leslie Anderson. Argh!! Schnauzers everywhere!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shaping the Table ... funny work!

Ike has come so far - while the gears in his mind turn - his little stub wags like mad. He thinks learning is so fun!

It took a while for Ike to do more than paw at the table and walk around it tonight! I haven't completely built my table yet - right now it is just a 2 x 2 piece of plywood. I brought the plywood upstairs and put it on the living room floor. I clicked and treated Ike for sniffing the table, pawing at it, and then we waited; then Ike put two paws on the table. Yay!!

I moved and he walked across the board. Yay! I clicked and treated when all four paws were on the board and "jackpot'd" him on the board. Pretty soon he figured out that this table business seemed to happen when all four feet are on the board. Three times he chose to lay down. Jackpots!! I ended on a high note. He wasn't consistently laying down and I figured if I didn't stop after the last time he laid down it might be pushing him too far for one night. We'll work on it again tomorrow night.

Great and exhausting fun for the boy - he has gone to bed!


Today I taught the Maplewood classes with no Katrin, and I feel like I did a good job. Hooray!!!!The students help a LOT; they want to learn which is wonderful!!

Puppy K was a small puppy class because Cat and Strata were not there and Li and Ryan were at the Thanksgiving Cluster in support of Ryan's breeder and Vizlas. The Tibetan Terrier in the class worked hard! Basic Manners class is a blast. Yay, yay, yay.

Thanks, Katrin, for giving me the chance to teach alone. : )

I just spent some quality play time with Ike and after dinner we are going to work on Table. yay!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Ike and Nellie's Thanksgiving Treat - marrow bones! Yum!!

My mum still has denial issues with my vegetarianism, hence I bring my own veggie entree~ And I bring some for all!! Yum! Acorn Squash stuffed with whole wheat bread, wild rice, red onion and garlic.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy turkey day!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Switch" and "Table"

We had agility last night. Hooray!!

We started class off working on the table. Internally, initially, I was a bit resistant! CPE does utilize the table, but they have no criteria for it. In CPE, a dog may do anything on the table - even touch it with a paw. Thinking about it, I am sure the reason I was initially resistant is because, haha, we might not succeed immediately. Goofball!! I can be so intolerant of the learning curve.

So, we did jump-tunnel-table. I had a tough time getting the word "table" out before Ike was there, so Katrin had me say "Go, Table" as we were headed into the tunnel. As she said, Ike was already committed to the tunnel. Ike is much less stressed by agility class than he used to be. In general he thinks it is great fun - the third time we did jump-tunnel-table, after I had FINALLY gotten my timing (heh-hum), I SENT Ike to the table and I could tell by the way he wiggled he was having a blast. Of course, I didn't trust him to do a down on it from the distance. Bad, Julie, trust your dog! and WHO cares if he doesn't do it the first time?!

Ike and I have actually been working on distance downs so I should have given it a go. I will practice this at home. I am going to use a variation on the technique Leslie McDevitt uses in Control Unleashed to teach Go to Mat to teach it; shaping it. My criteria will be a down-stay.....until released. We'll see how this goes, but it is more fun than working on "switch," although less useful, unless I break down and try USDAA.

Next we worked on actually using "switch." Two jumps leading into a 180 followed by a lead switch/jump and tunnel. Ike was awesome, even though my positioning was all off because I was gulping dramatically and thinking 'oh how nice a front-cross would be,' he committed to taking the jump! Yes, Ike! Who is this big, brave dog? We did this three times and I think my positioning got slightly better each time. I am SO impressed Ike was willing to commit to the jump each time even though I couldn't believe he was and stood there jaw agape! Good Ike. Julie, trust the damn dog!!

I was also very impressed by Ike's demeanor when cute little Callie decided she was going to try and play with James (Katrin' black FCR) who was tied nearby. James was not happy and was vocal about that. Ike didn't get involved! Or feel the need to bark his disapproval! It helped that we were practicing "spin" and giving/getting a massage intermittently. None-the-less....yay, Ike!!

So, lots to work a piece of board and work on downs on the table, practice "switch," and bring my weave poles back inside to keep working on them! Since the majority of our CPE classes will now be level 2, we'll be seeing at least six weave poles in our classes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What a good boy!

Every morning when Ike and I walk we see a variety of people. If we are running late we see LOTS of teenagers either walking to the high school or walking to their bus stop, if we are on time we see industrious-sorts speed walking for exercise or walking to the commuter rail. We occasionally see a woman who obviously fosters dogs as she is always doing very decent walks and her dogs change every 3 or 4 months! And occasionally we see a couple who own a cairn terrier named Duncan who thinks he is tough.

This morning we were running a bit late and therefore saw lots of teenage boys. Yikes....Ike's LEAST favorite sub-species. I handle the teenagers one of two ways. If we are on the opposite side of the street I halt, ask Ike for set-up position, reward, walk, halt, ask Ike for set-up position, repeat as necessary. If the teenagers are on the same side of the street, I remove myself about 5 feet onto the lawn, ask Ike for the Front position, and then Finish position. Then I click and treat as necessary.

On our way back to the house, after I thought we had seen all the teenagers on our side of the street, a door suddenly opened and out popped a hooded teenager. As I went to grab a handful of treats, I dropped the leash! Gulp. I figured if I lunged for the dropped leash I would lose Ike's attention and set him up to reinforce his barking, "Mum, I see a teenager!! He's gonna get me!!" Instead I just stopped, asked Ike to set-up, treated, walked, halted, asked Ike to set-up, and treated. We were successful even though the teenager came directly at us and we shared the sidewalk!

Hooray for Ike!!!


Side Note: I called Dr. Warner yesterday about Ike's blood work. It hasn't come back yet. I am impatient!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A quiet weekend for the boy....

Yesterday Ike and I went over to Marlene's for a playgroup with Agility-for-Fun friends. Maria brought her small dog Coco and I was HOPING Ike would really like her. Instead it was a very low-key playgroup, with not that much playing. Even though Ike's favorite red dog Jazmine was there he wasn't doing much playing until the VERY end. He seriously thought about playing with Kody. Hooray!! Awesome!!! Did the planet fall off its axis? ;P

By the by, Kody is featured in a new Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue children's book created while he was a resident of the shelter!!! The book is called It's as Easy as ABC and a dog is featured for each letter (Kody = K). Check it out.... if you know any young'ns that need a holiday gift you might want to pick one up!

I almost forgot to mention that I met Cat's new Sheltie puppy, Strata. HE IS A DOLL. And Tessie seems to almost like him!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Our Quote....

So, as Katrin noticed, I not only changed the title of the blog I also added a quote:

There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going

I have been thinking a lot about all of the changes that have occurred with Ike in the past year and thinking about how I never remotely thought any of them would be possible. What Ike and I have now, this relationship, has taken 5 years to build and has been incredibly hard work; I wouldn't trade a second of it.

In retrospect I am amazed that I kept at it. Ike is the reason I want to train dogs and train their humans. He infected me with the bug!

When I got Ike, I had dreams of him being a therapy dog. Therapy dog certification was my goal for my new dog. Pretty quickly I discovered that Ike had a lot of fear issues, and it started to seem less and less likely that he would be a therapy dog. It took me two years of trying and discarding different "training" techniques to stumble upon one that was helpful. I put training in parentheses because, sorry, I don't consider shaking a can full of marbles at a dog training.

In general I don't consider using an aversive training. I think of training as working together toward a common goal. The operative words would be working together and common goal.

For the life of me, I can not recall how I stumbled across Emma Parson's book Click to Calm. The book had just been released and she was giving a two-day seminar at Masterpeace. I signed up, hoping that maybe it would help. Ike had just turned two and was starting to lunge at strangers on walks. I knew my dog was moving from fearful to reactive and aggressive because I did not have the tools to help him. I knew he could be helped, I just didn't know how.

The seminar was earthshaking for me. Emma laid out the science behind dog training and I had an "ah-ha" moment. I started to work with Ike from that day forward using the Click to Calm methodology. I also did a couple of privates with Emma to get some more insight into what the heck I was doing. I was already using a Gentle Leader at that point, which Emma was a big fan of.

In the beginning I would click-n-treat Ike the second I saw him inhale deeply (think of old-fashioned bellows); that was the first cue that Ike was gearing up to explode. I would click-n-treat, click-n-treat, click-n-treat, trying to build a positive association between the scary man, biker, etc. I learned to be MUCH more observant. I would scan for people or situations that might set Ike off and then MANAGE those situations. Sometimes I managed the situation by choosing an alternate route more often it was removing myself a good five feet off the sidewalk onto someone's lawn where I could click-n-treat in peace, obviously training.

There were still explosions and in the beginning the bad days FAR outweighed the good days. Considering where I live, in Canton, with lots and lots of sidewalks and lots of sidewalk traffic I really didn't have any alternative but to keep trying/working. As my husband John can attest, there were many days I cried. I bought stickers and placed a different sticker on each day depending upon how terrible or good it was. Initially I never broke more than one "good" day a week, but the stickers reminded me that there were good days.

The biggest change occurred when John, my husband, got on board with the clicker and bait bag. Things started to move more quickly then, but still it was very much a work in progress. We had gotten to the point that Ike would actively scan for people to be able to look at me and say, "see..." and get clicked and treated.

We had been working the Click-to-Calm methodology for two years when I started working with Katrin. I had just taken Ike off of the Gentle Leader after three years. Ike and I had gotten to the point where I recognized that Ike was NEVER going to be the dog I thought I *wanted* when we brought him home. I recognized my responsibility in making our relationship work.

When I started to work with Katrin I realized how little I had let Ike think. That was a sad thing to realize; to realize that there was this magnificent spark I had never let the wind catch. Thank the dog-gods Schnauzers tend to live a long time.

Shortly after I started working with Katrin (10/06), Ike and I took a two-day seminar to prep and take the Therapy Dogs International test. Well, we passed. I couldn't believe it. In general, things have continued to accelerate since that moment.

The biggest change came this summer when I finally realized that Ike was not enjoying the therapy dog visits, that he was only doing it for me. Well, that's no good. Around the same time a bunch of things happened all at once: Katrin asked me what my goals - true goals - for Ike are, I started feeding him a completely raw diet, I decided to focus on just agility instead of multi-tasking before I had even gotten that far....a perfect storm for me and Ike.

So, this quote strikes me so deeply in the heart.

There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going

I never suspected that the depth of relationship I have with Ike was even possible. Thankfully the dog-gods thought I was up to a challenge and set me up with Ike. Without Ike, so many amazing things would never have happened, including me finding out that training dogs and dog-people is something that makes me feel incredibly alive. Ike has changed the way I view the world, and I have obviously changed the way that Ike views the world. He still tends to think that people in general are out to get him, but he is becoming more and more confident. He trusts me. We have a true friendship, and typically we work REALLY well together.

So while it was much more work (and still is) than I ever expected, I could not be happier that a fluffy black schnauzer decided to sit on my mother-in-law's head. Yeah, that was the deciding factor. It does explain a lot, doesn't it?

And, hey, it's only taken me two days to write this!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's Official....

It's a few hours early, but the new official name of the blog (by one vote!) is Molasses Ain't Got NOTHIN' On Us. I took the liberty of changing it from Molasses Ain't Got NOTHIN' On Me to Us. After all, Ike and I do have a partnership! So, I owe someone dog cookies!!

Let's hope we can live up to our new blog name! ; P

A Vet's Perspective on Feeding Raw

I have become a fan of the Dolittler blog written by Dr. Patty Khuly, a Miami vet. She recently wrote a good post on feeding raw that I think is worth checking out. As a concerned pet owner, it is very interesting to read a well-written blog by a concerned vet.

The post to read is called, To BARF or Not to BARF: One vet's answer to the question of feeding raw.....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All Dogs Gym "Thanksgiving" CPE Trial

Ike and I had a great day on Saturday at the All Dogs Gym Thanksgiving CPE Trial, but it certainly did not start out that way.

For those of you who have never been to All Dogs Gym, they have a REALLY nice facility. However, it is quite loud, the crating is in a separate room, and the seating in the ring area is crowded. After setting up Ike's crate I brought him into the main area to try and acclimate him to the environment. He went into shut-down mode, which means he didn't want to move and wouldn't take treats. He was wearing his most pathetic face with one paw lifted at all times.

Well, CRAP. When Ike is so obviously shutting down I have to admit I start to feel like I am going to vomit. I put him in his crate, covered it and went to watch the higher level classes do the Jackpot course while internally debating if I was going to end up leaving early and what would be fair to Ike.

CPE has Traditional Jackpot and Non-Traditional Jackpot.

In TRADITIONAL Jackpot, you collect required points in the opening until the whistle blows, then do the gamble, which has 4 obstacles, worth 2, 4, 6, and 8 points (total of 20 points). There is a line in the gamble that you must NOT step on or cross (dog can cross line and then go back). You MUST successfully complete the gamble to qualify. The last obstacle in the gamble stops the clock and can be a bar jump, tunnel, or table.

In a NON-TRADITIONAL Jackpot, the gamble is placed anywhere on the course and can be done at any time. There may be several gambles with different point values so all level dogs can run the same course. Each judge decides how to do this, so rules are up to the judge.

Saturday the judge, Jean MacKenzie informed us that it was a Non-Traditional Jackpot and we could do the gamble at any point during the run. The gamble was jump, tire (VERY scary tire in a wooden frame that I saw a dog hang himself on at the end of the day. GULP!), tunnel, jump at a 5 foot distance. Level one must accrue 12 points plus the gamble.

There were not that many Level 1/2 dogs, so I went to get Ike when the Level 1/2 dogs began and he was still not accepting treats and being distant, scared dog. I hoped when I put him in the ring he would feel safer because he would have some space. Well, hooray! I put him in the ring and he was willing to work. He was doing slow-Ike, but hey I was proud he could bring himself to play.

Silly handler made Ike gather too many points before starting the Gamble. My practicing distance has paid off! He didn't think TWICE about taking the gamble, he just went right ahead and took all the obstacles. Unfortunately when Ike came out of the tunnel he realized there were still other people in the room and he froze stock-still, deer-in-the-headlights and wouldn't move! The whistle blew. Oh well, not bad for our first Jackpot run. I was terrified he wasn't going to be able to function let alone actually take the gamble. I am SO proud of him.

I worked as Scribe in the higher level Standard classes and Wildcard & Colors classes. I am now very familiar with the intricacies of CPE which will pay off for Act-Up in May.

Our next class was Standard and I was a wreck because....the judge included the chute! EEEK! Ike's least favorite obstacle. The only positive is that it was the final obstacle after two jumps, my hope was Ike would have enough speed going into it that he wouldn't over think it. In addition, it was a very long chute and dark colors. Gah, talk about setting Ike up NOT to succeed.

Fortunately Jackpot got all of the Scaredy-Ike out of his system and he was back to his new normal self, wanting to play. He handled the Standard run beautifully, chute and all! In fact he Q'd and placed first! Hooray! This means he got his Level One Standard Title (CL1-R).

Ike also Q'd and placed first in Wildcard and Colors. Our next trial we will be doing Standard, Wildcard, and Colors at the Level 2 level. The only major difference is that Level 2 includes weaves.

We also met a gorgeous chocolate Cocker Spaniel named Minnie who got her C-ATCH last weekend in Springfield. Ike attempted to engage Minnie in play like I have never seen him behave before. It was AWESOME!

So, a very long and successful day. I am so glad Ike was able to gather himself after his initial fright. I really think allowing him the down time in his crate before Jackpot helped; and the fact that at this point he really enjoys agility and knows how to play it with me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Good Manners Class # 4

So, I am a bit discouraged after tonight's class. I know this is the learning curve and it happens with most things. I just felt flustered tonight. The class is full of stereotypes - the attention-getter, the quiet couple, the clueless couple. Everyone is actually doing pretty well, it is just tough finding a balance between giving everyone enough attention and keeping the class moving. Denise swears that it gets easier with practice and as I am aware not every class is terrible or awesome, etc.

Ike Update

I posted about Ike's weight issue on my rawfed e-list. One suggestion, from Judy, is to try and switch him to a single feeding daily. She said she had one dog who absolutely thrived on that routine.'s a thought.

I have my appointment on Monday and plan on doing a wellness blood check, a full thyroid panel, and the C6 Lyme test. I also scheduled an appointment with Anne Crawshaw - the first available was for 11/28. I am going to have her test Ike to see if he might be allergic to the quail, or anything else I am feeding him, and also do a tune up. My feet were so sore after the trial, I can't imagine that Ike's little body isn't feeling it too.

It makes me think hard about indoor trials, but CPE is a really great venue for Ike. He can jump his preferred height, the course times are generous enough for him, the games compliment our relationship....and there are a lot of these trials through the winter. I think I will just have to see Dr. Anne more frequently and, of course, ask her if there is anything I can do to help lower the general impact on his body.

Long Term Goals

I think I feel confident enough in my relationship with Ike to say I would like to try and get our C-ATCH (CPE Championship) someday. Who knows if it will happen, but I think it is within the realm of possibility, and something worth shooting for and training for. It's scary to me to admit I have such a lofty goal, but there it is.

I am also thinking more seriously about exploring Rally-O. I need to look up the rules, or ask Marlene or Katrin, if there is "Stand for Examination" in it. That is the toughest thing in Obedience for Ike. If there is no "Stand for Examination," I could maybe explore Rally as a gateway to general Obedience. Just a thought....or rather just thinking in type.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ike's Weight

I have an appointment with my vet on Monday at 5:15. Ike's weight has gone up a pound since the last time he was at the vet (about a year ago this month). He is currently 22.6#, which makes NO sense. He currently gets 3 oz. of meat which is less than half of what he *should* be getting based on the model (2% of current weight [22.6#] = 0.45 pounds or 7.23 ounces). 2% of his ideal weight (say 19#) = .38 pounds or 6.08 ounces.

I have been supplementing the 3 oz. with green beans and he gets a fair amount of treats because we do a lot of training. Either I have cut his intake so severely that his body is reserving its fat, in which case he shouldn't even be able to do agility, etc. OR something else is going on. ARGH!!! Any thoughts?

He gets quite a bit of exercise. The only other thing I have noticed lately is that he has had more Schnauzer bumps than is typical, but I attributed that to allergies. I know he is allergic to grass and my own allergies have been brutal lately.

A few people whose opinions I trust have suggested he lose a little weight (like a pound or two, a lot for a small dog!). I think my vet would say he is okay for a "pet" dog. He is a miniature schnauzer, nearly 16 inches at the withers. Right now my plan is to have a CBC, thyroid test and Lyme's test on Monday. Thanks for any thoughts on this.

I'm in a bit of a tizzy about this. Funny how all of a sudden something will hit you and really bother you. It just makes ZERO sense to me. He should be a Schnauzer-skeleton with the amount of food he gets!


Last night Ike and I had our first group agility class in a while. We have had a few privates over the summer with Erin Schaefer, but limited group classes. After some discussion with Katrin, she and I agreed that "Continuing On" was the better class for Mister Ike to be in.

Less dogs = less people = less stress for Ike. Hooray!

Click-n-Treat to me for getting that without Katrin having to beat me over the head with a bumper. It's not all about me, it's all about what allows my dog work at his optimum.

When the "Competition" class arrived I was VERY glad with this decision as it is full!

Class started with running a series of jumps in a circle, perhaps you'd call it a pinwheel? It was quite spread out so I am not sure. Anyway, Katrin called me out on a couple of things.

1. I ONLY cued Ike, I did not verbally reward him or encourage him while running.

This is a result of a combination of things, previously I have heard people told not to talk so much to their dogs while running, and most recently Erin told me to try and run more quietly as she thinks Ike tunes out in the trial atmosphere and it is just more for him to listen to/be overwhelmed by. What Katrin said last night is essentially, like all things, there is a BALANCE. Ha! She said one hopes ultimately to be able to send your dog with your body language and not actually have to say, "jump" for every jump. This leaves you time to say "yes" or whatever your reward marker is when your dog does something particularly brilliant.

Ike has had a complete about-face about jumping (he actually appears to like it!), so I see the potential for this. In fact I tried to utilize it later in class with the Serpentine.

2. I was LEADING Ike - i.e. my body was essentially in front of the jumps as Ike went to take them.

I think this is a bit of mal-adaption from something Erin said. Where Ike is definitely so motivated by my movement, Erin had recommended that I continue to move after sending Ike into an obstacle. Well, yes, that makes sense, but what I turned around and did was make that into follow the line of the obstacle as tightly as possible until he has committed to the obstacle. some degree Erin might have actually meant that, however, I would like to not have to do that as I'd like a Q in Chances some day! And again, it is the BALANCE issue. Sometimes, yes, that might be necessary or be helpful, but should you be spoon feeding ALL of the time?

3. Serpentines! I love them!! I remember less than a year ago when Ike did not know how to splice a jump (take an angled jump moving forward in a straight line).

Ike handled this very well purely on my body cues - of course I did forget to verbally reward him and the first time I tossed his ball for him I threw it BACKWARDS!! Oye.

4. His Ball. Ike JOYFULLY pounced after his ball with PEOPLE around. Yippee-yahoo. This has come around because I FINALLY realized that if Ike ran quickly after his toy and pounced, that was enough! He isn't a Border Collie, or any sort of dog with a super high toy drive. I need to be excited for him on his terms.

5. Switch. One of the benefits of staying in the "Continuing On" class is I have already been through some of these lessons and revisiting them makes them much clearer. Also, Ike is actually in a position now for me to start trying to really work on "Switch." Last year there was so much that was new it was overwhelming at times.

So, for homework/practice I am going to set up one of Ike's jumps and practice having him switch leads over it. He is already starting to spin back at me immediately after crossing the jump, so I asked Katrin if I should have him target a plate to continue the forward motion. She said no, because then he would be focusing on targeting not what he's doing. With a toy, he'll focus on doing what gets him the toy.

AND, there is a cute All-American named Callie/Kali in class that Ike likes to throw his bum at. She was DESPERATE to play with him. She is a really nice, fast dog.

So, not only did Ike play with his ball with strange people around, but he tried to engage in play with another dog with people (including a man!) around. A successful evening.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Control Unleashed Seminar

Yippee-yahoo!! I got an audit spot for the Control Unleashed seminar in March. I am so impatient I e-mailed Clean Run today to find out whether or not I got in. They are not sending out confirmations for a few weeks because they want to allow time for Leslie to pick which dogs will be working.

I am so excited. For those of you who are curious, Control Unleashed is a book written by Leslie McDevitt. From Dogwise description:

Learn how to turn stress to confidence and distraction to focus using methods that are 110% positive. Leslie McDevitt's versatile Control Unleashed program is designed to help "dogs with issues" learn how to relax, focus, and work off-leash reliably in either stimulating or stressful situations. Whether you're training a challenging dog on your own, an instructor trying to figure out how to help dogs in your classes, or an instructor who wants to design a special program just for stressed out dogs, this book is for you.

While I do not have a control or focus issue with Ike I certainly have a confidence issue with him. From my perspective there are a lot of similarities in the aforementioned behaviors, just dogs expressing the underlying issues differently. For those of you who haven't bought the book yet, and you know who you are, do it!! I am super excited! Hooray!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thanks, Cat!

You're probably asking why? I followed a new link Cat recently added (Dogged Blog) to her blog and read a GREAT post about the feeding raw debate and found an awesome blog. Here is a permalink to the post, Picking the Bones of the Raw Diet Debate.

And I am such a dork (I know, you gals already know this) but having just finished Works Wonders by Lonsdale and re-reading The BARF Diet by Billinghurst one line in particular made me laugh. And the line I just wrote explains SO much about my personality! Oye!!

AgileDogs CPE Trial @ the Big E Fairgrounds

Ike and I had a GREAT day yesterday out in West Springfield. We Qualified and placed in 4 out of 5 runs and earned our Level One Handler Games Title (part of the Level One Title)! Ike and I have come a HUGE way since our first CPE trial in August where we had our first qualifying run.

Yesterday we were entered and competed in Snooker, Wildcard, Colors, and two Standard runs.

The trial was held at the Mallary Building in the Big E Fairgrounds (or, compound! Holy Cow!). The mats that were used on the cement are a brand new product called True Blue K9 Training Mats (bright blue in color), 20mm thick EVA foam, interlocking design. I liked the interlocking design as it makes the mats really easy to move, etc but did not find them to be any thicker or have any more bounce than the flooring at the Shelter or other indoor venues I have been to. My feet HURT at the end of the day. Poor Ike, I can only imagine how he feels. Paging Dr. Crawshaw....

This was Ike's FIRST indoor trial. Let's just say while an audio CD certainly helps it does NOTHING to compare to the real thing/atmosphere. And joy of joys, our first run was snooker.

I have created major snooker anxiety for myself after our first snooker-scapade. In August this was our last run at the end of our first trial on a brutally hot day. My brain was fried and I was super-stressed about what the heck snooker was all about. Ike took one jump, because I begged him to, saw my (ferret)friend Michele outside the fenced field, ran over to where she was and literally tried to dig UNDER the snow fencing. It was hysterically desperate. Poor Ikey.

Yesterday Snooker was our first run of the day and for the first time the game itself made sense to me (yes, doing does make it much easier than *thinking* about doing). Hooray!!

Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) Ike was out in La-La Land. He was back to his slow-self as he took in the ambient noise, bleachers, etc. My thought....CRAP - oh well, first indoor trial, what's to be expected.

Brief review, in Snooker the handler and dog must complete a red jump in order to complete a colored obstacle. You do this three times before completing the closing which consists of obstacles numbered 2 thru 7. Each obstacle is worth the points it is numbered. In the opening sequence the handler can choose to do red jump (1point) + A-frame (7 points), different red jump + A-frame again, etc. in order to accumulate as many points as possible. In Level One the handler-dog team must accumulate 28 points.

Ike and I did red jump (1pt), tire (5pts), red jump (1pt), a-frame (7pts), red jump (1pt), wing jump (2pts). Then we had to do the wing jump again in order to start the closing sequence. The buzzer went off on the down contact of the A-Frame, the final obstacle, so we got those points as well. And ran for the table. Having never successfully completed a snooker course I assumed that we were disqualified. Oh well, I felt really good about what we accomplished - getting Ike to focus on me in this very exciting environment.

I worked as the timer for the level 3/S/4/5/C classes (this seriously lasted about 2 hrs! There were 750 runs yesterday) and a Schnauzer friend I made in Adams asked the scorerunner to let me know that Ike and I had Q'd and placed 2nd. Holy CoW!!!

I was happy with the way Ike had performed prior to finding out we had Qualified. The fact that we Qualified, well that was just too exciting.

After my two-plus hours of timing Snooker for the upper levels I took the boy out for a walk in the raw-raw world and got ready for Wildcard (the only class we Qualified in-in August). I like this class and can't wait to play it at the higher levels. Basically you have a course that requires you to take one "hard" obstacle and two "easy" obstacles (in Level One, the amount of obstacle, etc change as you move up). If your dog is not really tuned into you can really have to do some thinking on the fly. Fortunately, as Eliza pointed out, Ike is with me 90% of the time. That's why we got our Handler Title!

So this course started with two jumps that led to your first obstacle choice, broad jump (Hard) or straight jump (Easy), leading into a curved tunnel that had to be entered from the left (directly in front of the broad jump), coming out of the tunnel was your second obstacle choice tunnel (E) or A-Frame (H) onto a pinwheel that lead into either the tunnel (E) or series of jumps (H) ending with the tire.

Ike and I did jump (E), A-frame (H), tunnel (E). Originally I intended to do the broad jump, tunnel, tunnel. However, sometimes Ike and I miscommunicate and the way the course was set up I had a feeling if I chose the broad jump, coming out of the tunnel Ike was going to be inclined to take the A-frame when I wanted him to take the tunnel. Weird, I don't know why I felt this, just the layout. So I went with my second choice which I thought was a little bit harder but worked out perfect! Q and 2nd place. Yay, Ike.

Next was Colors, which at Level One is too easy for words. I say that because my dog does what I want the majority of the time. If he didn't I can see how all of these game classes can be a complete nightmare. Colors is essentially two different courses that share some commonalities. At the start line you have to tell the judge whether you are running white or red. If you go off course during your run you are whistled off. Very easy, sweet run. Can't wait to do this at a higher level. Q and 2nd place.

About two hours later we ended the day with our two Standard runs. The first Standard run Ike made a very odd decision. During the first third of the course your dog takes the dogwalk - there is a tunnel beneath/beside it, but it was absolutely NOT a discrimination issue because of the way the tunnel was angled. Ike had two paws on the contact and suddenly decided to do the tunnel! It was hysterical. He also blew by one jump. I could tell by his pace and the way he was running that he was EXHAUSTED. The fact that he saw the tunnel and thought, "Well, that's WAY easier than the dogwalk" says it all. No Q but a good run for belly laughs.

I put Ike in his crate and let him snooze for about 20 minutes and then we had our final Standard run which was great. Ike was still moving a bit slower as he was EXHAUSTED, but we ran really well together and ran clean. Hooray for Ike!! We got our first CPE Standard Q!!

We were chasing our Schnauzer friend Jane and her dog Daisy's heels all day. She is a lucky Schnauzer owner - her dog LOVES to run.

A brief run down on what a Level One Title consists of:

  • The Standard Level One Title (Two Legs in Standard)
  • Handler Games Title (Two legs, One Colors + One Wildcard)
  • Strategy Games Title (Two Legs, One Snooker + One Jackpot)
  • Fun Games Title (Two Legs, One Fullhouse + One Jumpers)

Ike and I have completed no classes toward our Fun Games Title and need another Standard Q and a Jackpot Q for our Standard Level 1 Title and Strategy Games Title, respectively. We are competing next weekend in the All Dogs Gym CPE Trial in Manchester, so we'll see what we can do!

We had a blast this weekend. CPE people are awesome; So, so friendly. We made some nice friends that I am really looking forward to seeing at future CPE Trials. And we got to meet Deco, a Cardigan Corgi, who's son might be bred to Destiny the bitch that stayed with Katrin earlier this summer. He was gorgeous. Unfortunately he did not sell John on Cardigans. He is thinking about Aussies. Katrin, I think we have to pull out the big guns and introduce him to Monty.

Ike thought the best part of the weekend was staying at the Red Roof Inn. He found the comforter delightful!! Oh, and trialing sick is not like working sick (granted I did take a Claritan and was drinking Vitamin Water all day). Although, hmmmm, I did end up sleeping until 11am this morning which is UNHEARD of for me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Trialing while under the weather....

Ike, John and I are leaving in a half an hour to head out to Springfield. Ike and I are entered in the AgileDogs CPE trial held at the Big E Fairgrounds. I have been really looking forward to this and am bummed that I feel pretty crappy. My allergies have been KILLER lately and my standby (Alavert) has decided not to work any longer. I bought some Claritan but am nervous about taking it and running Ike tomorrow as it makes me feel zoned out. Oye! I guess we will see how I feel.

This trial coincides with the World of Pets Expo, so it should be interesting. This will be Ike's first trial in an indoor setting on turf other than grass. I will let you know how it goes.