Monday, September 29, 2008

Decoys aka "Call offs"

I noticed the judge at the trial this weekend incorporated a lot of call offs in his courses. Or decoys as I referred to them! "Call offs" being when it appears to you or your dog you are "supposed" to go one way and take whatever equipment is over there, when in reality that is part of the challenge - you aren't supposed to take equipment x - you are supposed to take equipment y!

Addicted to Agility Trial

Carmen and I ran Saturday in Addicted to Agility’s trial. We entered Jumpers, Regular, Tunnelers, and Touch and Go. I scratched Carmen from Regular (due to the lack of fully trained weaves) and tried running Ike. He politely told me, “No, thanks.” Just throw something at me.

Saturday Carmen Q’d in all three of her classes. I was particularly happy about Touch N Go. Last weekend we had an off course into the tunnel beneath the dog walk. This weekend I was able to call her off the dog walk! Woo-hoo. Amazing what an alignment does. Last weekend I had to beg her to take contacts – this weekend I had to call her off them! Hopefully I will be quicker on the uptake next time she acts wonky about her contacts. We do need to work on discrimination. I want Carmen to take the obstacle I call (verbally and via physical cues), not the one she prefers! ;D

We finished our Novice Tunnelers title on Saturday in the pouring rain. Yippee Carmen!!

Carmen and Bug saw Cheryl on Saturday. Carmen’s pelvis held (and I remembered to bring arnica to the trial to give her and Bug after their adjustments). Poor Bug - BOTH sides of his pelvis were out of alignment. Oi!! Not good – no wonder he was bunny hopping Tuesday. Cheryl made one adjustment and I decided I would come back to the trial again Sunday in order for her to do the other side. And since I was going to be at the trial I opted to enter Carmen in Jumpers. And she ran awesome! I did a two jump lead out and she was rock solid. She finished her Novice Jumpers title with a first place Q. Yay, Carmie!!

Carmen’s YPS (yard per second) is also improving. Last weekend she was averaging 3.99 this weekend she was averaging 4.10. Not a huge difference, but I am hoping as our relationship evolves and we both become more comfortable it continues to increase.

Other highlights of the weekend included seeing Bug’s half-brother Ransom and the boys having an opportunity to play. Ike also played with Ransom – more so than he does with Bug (odd dog!). And Bug apparently likes Obi so much he has decided that all FCR rock. He befriended Astro (FCR) this weekend – they had a great time wrestling and rolling about. Even Carmen started playing with strange dogs. She befriended a black poodle puppy!! (I thought perhaps it was the end of the world?)

And we got to see classmates Matt, Julie, and all-American Callie play at their first trial. Callie’s weaves even earned an “oh” of appreciation when I was scribing one of her regular runs. They took home their first Q in Touch and Go. Congratulations! Hopefully they will be hooked.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of Carmen. I have to say, having a dog that enjoys running in trials this much makes the sport of agility that much more addictive!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teacher's Pet

Last night around 8 pm I decided I would work on the table and board with Bug. John had gone out to meet some friends so I moved the coffee table and brought both up to the living room. I set the board up against our couch and the table at the other end of the room.

I measured my table and it is 12 1/4. Pretty darn good measuring job! I obviously didn't take the plywood into account!!

I didn't crate Ike because he screams if anyone else is working and it was a bit later - didn't want to disturb the landlord. Well, what do you know - Ike wouldn't let Bug get on ANY of the equipment. Not maliciously, but as Bug was thinking, Ike would hop up and start offering various behaviors. Goober!

I can see I am going to have to figure out a way to manage their training time. Ike might just have to scream. The upside is that I spent a lot of time sitting on my living room floor c/t Ike for touching the rake while Buggie watched and working on Ike's table behavior! Ike was a very happy Schnauzer!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wheee! Bug

Bug is downing on cue - no lure! Yay!!

Now I just have to work on the onion's down too!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chute Progress

Last night Katrin set up a very nice course for Carmen's class, Putting It Together (or something like that). But first let me tell you the saga of a screaming schnauzer wigging out a poor unsuspecting Vizla!

Last week Carmen screamed the entire hour before her class. So, I decided I would bring the wire crate into the barn and crate her during Bug's class. I think she is jealous of me attention to anyone OTHER than her - she screamed in the barn, too! And poor Tessa, Bug's classmate, got all weirded out by it. Oye! Back to the car, little missy.

I left the crate up and later, while we were walking the course in her class, I left her in it. This worked out super since she can be a little brat at times. Last night's class focused on "Go's" and Carmen is actually starting to grasp the concept (as am I) - she moved comfortably ahead of me. Not by much, but it is progress none-the-less. I am thinking of breaking out the Manners Minder to reward Go's at home. Of course I need to find the time, but it is a good idea.

Additionally, the teeter was out and the chute. Big progress with the chute. Carmen actually went through it by herself. At this point she "commando-crawls" through. We'll have to continue working on this. She is weirded out by having a sheet thrown over her, for dog-god's sake!

She also continues to crash into the table. Bizarre. Katrin wonders about her eyes. I hope they are okay since she certainly has the joy of agility in her!

Things to work on this week:
  • Go's
  • Make the bed with the puppy in it (sheet and heavy rewarding = oh, I can push through fabric?)
  • DOWN!!!!

Oh, That Bug O' Mine

Katrin was asking whether the Bug has an official nickname from John yet – and to date he does not. Going on 5 months and no official unofficial name?! Monty had one in three days! John does love saying, “Oh, that dog o’ mine” in a certain cadence to Bug. It gets Bug GOING!

Last night I got my first taste of the wily corgi way from Bug. Bug and I have been working hard on down. Not hard enough that he is doing it on cue, but I have been making him do down in very exciting places (hoping to capture the sheep pen excitement) like the barn and at trials. Bug doesn’t give it a second thought. Hooray!

Last night we introduced the dogs to two new pieces of equipment – the table and the chute. I was afraid he might roll in the chute but had no such fears related to the table.

He easily hopped up on the table, but wouldn’t down. It was really strange. Katrin is a proponent of having a default behavior for the table. So if you are competing in AKC you are automatically right 50% of the time. CPE doesn’t require a contact behavior and I believe it is a down in USDAA. I aim for a default down.

Bug wouldn’t down. I couldn’t figure it out. Katrin made me just “wait, Julie” even though I was willing to just ask him for a sit. I am such a sucker! He was nudging my hand and being a nudge – unusual behavior since I have been asking him for downs frequently. Finally he downed and then did it quiet quickly after that.

Lesson learned: Bug is not a Schnauzer in Corgi clothing. Patience! He was playing me. Oye!

On the teeter Bug was not as confident as last week and would only eat cookies from Katrin. It didn’t matter what I had.

When we were not working on new equipment we practiced jumps. Bug was a little bit odd about them and when we went to practice the chute, Katrin commented that he seemed to be bunny hopping. Most likely his pelvis is out – hence the oddness about jumping (and probably the teeter too). It is AMAZING what a difference it makes. I can see the difference adjustments make the most with Ike, but little things with Carmen and Bug prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is very effective.

No chute issues for the Bug. When he gets wet and I try to dry him off he takes being covered with a towel as an invitation to ROLL about and be silly. So I suspected the chute wouldn’t be a major issue – unless the issue was that he thought he needed to roll his way through.

He was much more excited about the tunnels this week.

We also practiced our contact behavior on a board (wait) and Katrin reminded me NOT to race my dog. Especially my dog who is oh-so-much faster than me!

This week with Bug I need to:

  • Practice Contact behavior on my board
  • Practice downs on the table – might have to saw a wee bit off the legs, but other than that it is finished!
  • Practice down in more exciting places and get off the lure!
  • See the chiropractor!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Addicted to Agility NADAC Trial

Addicted to Agility hosted their third NADAC trial in Wrentham this weekend. I entered Carmen in one Regular class, Jumpers, Touch n Go, and Tunnelers on Saturday only. The plan was to scratch from Regular if her weaves were not there yet - and they weren't.

However, there was a slight change of plan. I brought both the Bug and Ike to the trial and the weather was cool (total-Ike weather). I asked the trial secretary if I could put Ike in the regular class and scratch Carmen. I decided I would view it as a donation to Addicted to Agility, nothing else.

Jumpers was the first class we were entered in and Carmen had a terrific run. She had a nice start line stay and I focused really hard on my speed being consistent. This paid off. Carmen confidently moved AHEAD of me - I actually did a rear cross (with no spinning!). I walked the course with a front cross in mind, but when we were running Carmen was ahead of me, so change of plans. I also did a blind cross at the tunnel. Again I intended to do a front cross when I walked it. Really nice run. Carmie almost broke 4 yard per second (3.99 yps). I am used to Ike who broke 3 yps once! Carmie Q'd and placed 2nd.

Next I ran Ike in Regular and it was just flat-out a beautiful run, IMO. He was happy and flying. No hesitation about anything. I think the last three obstacles were jump, a-frame, tunnel. Anyone who has read my blog or seen Ike at a trial knows we had some major a-frame perching going on for a while. We finally fixed it by doing some serious rear-end building last winter and allowing him to essentially have a running a-frame. He charged the a-frame and flew down it. It was gorgeous. 3.24 yps, Q, and 1st place. He had a blast! So I think 1 run every six months might be about Ike's speed. Of all the classes NADAC offers, Regular has always been his favorite. Although surprisingly I think Hoopers might be a possibility - more on that later.

Next was Tunnelers. I had a handler gaffe taking the long way at one point, but Carmen stuck with me and kept working. Such a great girlie. Q and placement.

Touch n Go was a nice course with a dogwalk/tunnel discrimination. I suspected Carmie might have a bit of trouble with this since she is still such a agility-baby and it was set-up so the dog could easily take their preferred obstacle if they so desired. Carmen took the tunnel but turned around for me and did the dogwalk. Good girlie!! I noticed some significant hesitation at the a-frame which reminded me she was weird about the a-frame last time I saw Erin. Carmen was such a contact monster previously that it stuck in my mind. Lisa mentioned that one side of Carmen's rear did appear more developed than the other. Hmmm....

At the end of the day Addicted offered a free training session on Hoopers. Last trial I tried this class with Carmen and really enjoyed it, so I decided I would hang around and listen to the instructions again and run Ike. Here's a link to a previous post on the Novice rules for Hoopers.

Ike had a BLAST!! He really enjoyed it, not only did he willingly and happily play with me - he would have made course time. I am beginning to think that Ike's dislike of trialing/agility is a multi-faceted issue. I think part of it is the people, but I also think a large part of it is that he does not structurally feel good doing agility and then having the Lyme issue on top of that. Hoopers is on the flat, so definitely less wear and tear on his body.

Driving home I was thinking some more about Carmen's contacts in Touch n Go and marvelling that she did them for me even though she obviously did not want to. A member of the Act-Up club is also a chiropractor, so I called and made an appointment with her for today at the trial. Lo and behold, Carmen's pelvis was out of alignment. Cheryl, the chiropractor allowed me to feel the muscle difference prior to adjusting her and Carmen had a very tight muscle on her haunch. Poor baby. Cheryl took care of her and will be at the trial next weekend, so Carmen can have a follow-up appointment.

It was a really nice day - happy dogs, great weather, and great people.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh Ikey

I posted a few weeks ago about Ike refusing to go to my in-laws. I did speak with two different animal communicators, to confirm what I already knew. Ike doesn't want to go there. As my husband said - "It is not so much that he REALLY wants to stay home, he just REALLY doesn't want to go to Washington Street." I suspect it might have to do with the citronella collar my in-laws bought for Carmen. Laugh all you want but I swear to the dog gods that Ike is an empath - he is SO incredibly sensitive to emotional discomfort/discord.

The second communicator I spoke with also does Reiki and she felt Ike might be dealing with a Lyme flare-up. Considering one of the main symptoms Ike displays with his Lyme is moodiness, I thought it was a definite possibility.

I have noticed some other distressing signs - we do hand touches in the air and the last few times I asked him to do "nosey" he was unable to stand up on his rear. Eeek! I wasn't sure if this was due to decreased activity, Lyme, his pelvis being out, or all three things.

Ike's eyes have been very glassy for the past couple of months. His allergies have been particularly bad this year.

We had an appointment with Anne yesterday. When Ike went to jump in the crate, he jumped with complete confidence, but his rear legs completely missed the crate! He was able to pull them in, but this is VERY strange.

Anne confirmed that his pelvis was out of alignment (again!) and he is experiencing a bad Lyme flare-up (again!).

Ugh. Not sure what to do about his Lyme long term. He appears to have somewhat of a chronic situation. I am attending a seminar in November on Alternatives to Treating Lyme hosted by the New England Terrier Club. Hopefully that will give me some more leads. In the mean-time Ike is getting Lym-D (nosode), Standard Process' Canine Immune Support Supplement, Solid Gold Life Exxtension, salmon oil, and kelp added to his food. He is FINALLY off the thyroid supplement and also the milk thistle, yippee.

I am going to find out how long I need to wait after the nosode to do a C6 - I think I'd like a baseline in case he continues to have flare-ups. At a certain point I am certainly willing to think about doxy.

And, I have to get the boy in a Rally class. He says he is being neglected!! He says, dogs that don't do agility are NOT second class citizens in the doggie world, dog-gods dammit.

Crazy Carmie!

Ah, Ms. Carmen. Her class is after the Bug's on Tuesdays. Guess what she did the ENTIRE hour prior to her class? SCREAMED. She had gotten much better about being crated, but recently my in-laws purchased a citronella collar. I think they might be over using it. Now when she comes to class she knows she can vocalize at will. I will have to talk to them about using it more conservatively. I am also going to try bringing a hard crate next class and bringing it into the barn. I'll put it near where my bag and Buggie's water is. Maybe that will help her out.

Carmen had an excellent class. Her start lines are really nice and she is moving for me. My front crosses are definitely getting better! To see the course plan visit Katrin's blog, By My Side.

We need to work on:

- driving into tunnels - particularly where there might be a back cross involved;
- driving up the teeter - we have the creepy-crawlers!;
- handling 180s;
- and, of course, me being more consistent with my speed.

I find the consistency issue to be sticking around. It has a slightly different effect on Carmen, but it still effects our performance and not in a positive way. The biggest difference I notice if I do not regulate my speed is that I run out of room to run and then Carmen says, "why'd ya stop?" and, of course, stops! Whereas it slowed Ike down overall, in addition to making him stop!

All in all a good class. When we got home Carmie played with me in a particularly maniacal way. Love it! She was acting like I was Ike, grabbing my sleeve and TUGGING! I am going to see if I can get her that revved up this weekend at the Addicted to Agility trial.

Super Bug!

Tuesday was Bug’s first equipment foundations class. I was very nervous given Bug’s attitude about new stuff, i.e. tendency to be nervous/hesitant.

But the boy surprised me – he is getting braver!! Hip-hip-hooray!

The class is made up of two young dogs Buggie knows - Tessa, Vizla and Aidan, AS. The only problem is that Buggie wants to play with them. Just kidding - it's not really a *problem*. What is VERY cute is that Aidan is a blue merle with tan points - so we have a big and small version of the boys.

We worked on going over jumps. Bug thought 8” looked intimidating, so we dropped it to 4” initially. He was flying over them and being SUCH a great boy. Katrin said, "ask him for a stay." I scoffed. See previous post – we have only worked on wait in doors, but - surprise! - wait translated quite nicely! He was super.

We took a break and then worked on the teeter. Buggie wasn’t too bad about it. He was a bit hesitant, but didn’t put the brakes on – either about going up the teeter or Katrin holding onto his collar. Hooray! I was getting worried that Bug would think Katrin equals nail clipping!

Then we did a short sequence - wing jump, tunnel, jump. For some reason Bug would not go into the tunnel initially. I tossed a treat in it and Katrin “yelled” at me. I was being a goof. A cardinal sin – the treat tossing, not the goofiness unless said goofiness involves treat-tossing into tunnels! Bug got over his momentary, "This isn’t my tunnel – it’s YELLOW" and did it the next time without issue.

I am so pleased with how the Bug was in class – he really seemed to enjoy himself. When we were doing the sequence he actually opted to take the wing jump AGAIN on the way to the start line. Whatta boy! Not that I want him taking equipment willy-nilly but it is amazing to see him, a dog who was afraid of jump stanchions a few weeks ago, take a wing jump at 8" for HIMSELF! A jump with wings! Because it was in his path.

I think I should break the teeter out for Bug and Carmen. Last time Carmen was on the teeter at Erin’s she almost flew off and it has definitely made her a creepy-crawler about the teeter. I am considering playing teeter games with them - I am undecided at the moment but definitely mulling it over. Definitely lots of jumps in the backyard for the Bug in his near future!

Super class - I am so happy to see Bug gaining confidence.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yesterday's Sheep

These were yesterday's sheep. I think two of them are going into the freezer for Colleen's pack. The black one because he doesn't shed his hair and the white one (in front and giving us the stink-eye) because he has started head butting dogs and jumping 4" fences! Trouble!

Herding with Bug

Yesterday Bug had a herding lesson (as did Blue and Iris). Colleen had the time available and both Blue and I felt it would be good for Bug and Iris to have two lessons so close together.

Iris went first so that Bug could watch and he definitely did less rolling about and more watching, which is good. We did have an odd incident where Colleen's neighbor's son came out to the pen and Bug barked like he'd seen a ghost. For whatever reason Bug who loves children, thought the boy was creepy. Colleen had him (the child) sit down and let Bug smell him. Bug immediately started licking his hand. Silly dog.

When Bug and I went into the pen Bug immediately went to the end of the lead. He wanted to chase those sheepies! Yay, I am so glad he was still "hot to trot" about them (and last week wasn't a fluke!). Colleen had us practice "get-around" which is walking the outside edge of the pen and asking your dog for a down at various points. The dog is on the outside, the handler closest to the sheep.

I still have not worked on Bug's down and was luring it. Colleen suggested I step on the leash close to the collar, like she has Blue doing with Iris. It is a way to force the dog into the down without putting your hands on them. Bug didn't have a terrible reaction to it, but I will admit that I am very uncomfortable with it. To that end one of the MAJOR things I am going to spend a LOT of time on before Bug's next lesson (probably mid-October) is his down.

While we were practicing "get-around" on both sides Colleen gave me a thin stick to hold. We are working up to the rake! Bug didn't seem phased by it, which is good.

The next thing we would have worked on is having Bug do a down-stay and me going out to touch the sheepies. I have not worked on "wait" except in the context of doors. So, we had Bug face the sheep, asked him for a "down-wait," and practiced taking a step away toward the sheep and rewarding him for his "wait." Another basic to work on at home.

Finally we dropped the lead to let Bug herd those sheepies. Colleen had me use a stick in place of the rake to change Bug's direction. There were a few instances when I was attempting to change his direction that he acted as though I was going to haul off and beat him with the stick - dropping into a down and not moving! Really I think he was about to slip into his default of offering the belly, so I am EXTREMELY proud of him that he did not. He dropped into a down, thought for a minute and went back to the sheep.

It was an excellent lesson. I feel like Bug made some significant progress. Colleen suggested we keep a small notebook and bring it with us to class. That way we can keep track of what we are working on and remind her! She also lent me a small rake since I hadn't managed to make it to the hardware store this week.

Here is what Bug and I will be working on in the next month:

  • Being touched by the rake
  • Me holding the rake and moving
  • Down
  • Down beside me
  • Wait (this I think will transfer well to the conformation ring as I plan on making it a stand-wait first and we currently do a stand-wait at doors)
  • Stay
  • down-wait
  • down-stay

Check out Blue's blog to read about their lesson. I think Iris had a bit of a breakthrough lesson. Previously she had very little control when she would get too close to the sheep - she would all of a sudden hit the end of her leash. Yesterday it was as though a light went on and you could literally see her thinking, "Hmm...when I hit the end of the lead mum turns me around. When I don't we keep moving forward." Very cool stuff!

I almost forgot, after our lessons we helped Colleen lay some fence line. Then we let the dogs run in the big field before heading home (Iris found some VERY stinky manure to roll in!). I was talking to Colleen and Blue about Bug and how stressed he gets when ever you "change the picture." Colleen suggested I think of him as a four month old puppy - I think this will be beneficial to our relationship. I mean, I sometimes forget he's only been here for four months! Let alone how much he has been introduced to in those four months. So, it is an "obvious" suggestion but I haven't been doing that, so I am going to try to keep that closer to the front of my mind.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh no, Ike!

Sept. 12, 2008 -- Hurricanes come in all sizes, from speedy little cyclones with small sharp teeth to giants that maw and pummel away at large swaths of earth for days. Ike is one of the latter -- a super-sized storm with winds howling over vast fetches of water, piling up massive storm surges like those now being seen in Texas.....

HB 5092 (formerly HB 1948)

If you live in Massachusetts, please visit the Federation of Massachusetts Dog Club and Responsible Owners web site. Please consider joining. More importantly get the facts on House Bill 5092 and write your State Representative and the Steering Committee.

I have included the text of my letter. There are some things that could have been phrased better, but if having the text to crib from helps you get a letter out - do it!!

Dear Representative Galvin:

I am a resident of Canton, MA, a dog owner, and a member of the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners. I am VERY distraught by the changes proposed in H5092 (formerly H1948). I feel these changes are anti-responsible owner.

I am involved in performance sports with my dogs. It is generally recommended that dogs are left intact (un-neutered/un-spayed) until growth plates have closed. This is to prevent future injuries and is supported by research. Research also shows that in addition to the structural benefits there are life-long health benefits in delaying both spaying/neutering or leaving the dog intact. Growth plates close typically around 14 months of age for small and medium size dogs and a minimum of 18 months for large breed dogs. One of the new components of this revised bill would have responsible dog owners paying $500 annually for the right to keep their dog intact. Does it matter whether the choice is an educated choice? According to the law, no.

One of my males is intact, one is neutered. I will not be neutering my intact male unless forced. Why? I am a responsible owner. My dog is never unattended, my dog has no behavioral problems that warrant neutering, and I do not want to risk putting him under anesthesia unwarrantedly. Unfortunately this fee is going to ensure that people do not license their dogs correctly due to the financial hardship they will face.

I am also extremely concerned by the idea of state mandated vaccination schedules. Dr. Jean Dodds is one of the foremost authorities on the subject and has recommended minimal vaccinations – less that your typical veterinarian recommends. There is bountiful research to suggest that the over-vaccination of our pets have contributed to the overall decline in pet health. State mandated vaccination schedules will only punish the educated owner who has done their research and knows the science behind a minimal vaccine schedule, not the average owner who does what their vet tells them to do.

Allowing towns and cities to impose breed-specific ordinances guarantees MORE dogs will be euthanized. Breed specific legislation is ineffective, costly to residents and unfair to responsible dog owners. The following organization are all AGAINST breed specific legislation:

  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • The American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • The United Kennel Club (UKC)
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA
  • Dog Legislation Council of Canada (DLCC
  • American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS
  • National Animal Control Association (NACA
  • Maryland Veterinary Medicine Association
  • Humane Society of the United States (HSUS
  • American Canine Foundation (ACF)
In today’s day and age with mutts/mixes/All-Americans abounding, why should a responsible owner be punished because their dog “looks” like a pit bull/Rottweiler/etc? Why punish the responsible owner? The individuals that this law is aimed at are not going to be affected by it because they will pay it no mind. However, the damage to the responsible dog owner and their companion is great.

Please suggest that the bill is returned to study, or in the alternative back to the Joint Municipalities Committee for consideration and public comment on the policies contained in HB 5092. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Julie Garland-Powers

We are SO not living in the 80s, people~

This morning while walking the dogs I encountered a loose chocolate Lab. I have encountered him once before and he was super - laying down to greet Ike. This morning, while he was not reactive - he was on alert and he did not lie down. Ike and Bug had a lot to say to him.

I live on a cul de sac that is off of a "cut-through" street off the main drag in my town. This dog lives off of the cut-through street on the other end of it.

I really think it is a hazard to open your door and let your dog roam wherever he wants. When I was a kid we let our dogs run loose, but I also backed up to more than 250 OPEN acres in a subdivision - not on a well travelled street. Last winter I personally saw two dogs get hit by cars on the main street. One died and the other appeared fine. I suggested the owners take the dog to the vet but I have no idea if they did, and if he really was fine. Both dogs were running loose at the time. I do not want to offend the owners but I think they need to know how far their dog is travelling (on his own!). In addition my town DOES have a leash law. This morning was really stressful, Bug wanted to play and Ike wanted to react; AND the dog kept following us!!

I am thinking I might write a NICE letter alerting them to how far their dog is travelling on his morning excursions and that this isn't the first time I have encountered him on the "other" side of the street quite some distance from their house. While the dog does have superior dog skills, it is still a hazard IMO.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Turned on"

This weekend Bug & Iris had lessons with Colleen. Bug watched Iris and Blue during their lesson (as well as rolling in glorious sheep manure!). Iris and Blue had a great lesson - they are really starting to figure things out. Iris definitely has her own ideas about things!! But she is a very good girlie for her human.

Then we had our lesson and Bug "turned on" to the sheep!! He suddenly (suddenly, hah, we've been building up to this, no?) lost his fear and started herding the sheep. It was awesome!! He even let out a few grumbley growls at them! Words do not do it justice, so I will share some wonderful pictures that Blue took. You can see what a good time he is having.

Me cheer leading - I do it so well!

Look at the streamlined Corgi!

Bug was doing so well that Colleen suggested I pick up the rake. Boom, Bug literally went in sat in the corner. Fortunately, once I put the rake down he was more than happy to come back and git those sheepies! So, I am buying a child's rake and will have it in the house and maybe even take it on walks with me. Yes, I will look like a dork but my dog will hopefully get over his rake fear.

Things will be taken nice and easy with the Bug - and I will TRY to remember he has only been with me for four months! It feels like so much longer - in the best possible sense!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Training and Lack of Training

I haven’t been staying on top of my blogging~

Last Saturday Carmen and I went to a training party hosted by a friend who has small dogs. I brought Carmen solo and she was GREAT! Typically I bring Bug or Ike as a travelling companion, but I decided that Carmen needs to be able to function alone too. There might be a reason some day that one of the boys CAN’T come.

Marie, the hostess, does a lot of AKC and the courses she had set up reflected that. They were tighter than what I am used to seeing, but Carmen was a good girlie. She seemed to take a lot of turns pretty wide, especially 180s. I feel pretty confident this is a reflection of my handling. Carmen is compact enough that physically she CAN take tighter turns.

We have been practicing our weaves on a daily basis (not that you can tell!) and I added a 180 to the mix to see if I can work on tightening up those turns.

Wednesday we had a private lesson with Erin and I mentioned I wanted to work on my front crosses and Carmen taking turns wide. We never got to work on Carmen’s wide turns – she was very distracted and acted like she left her brain at home. VERY similar to her behavior during the wildcard run at the Gemini trial. It was VERY hot at the practice field. So, I am starting to think that Carmen really doesn’t tolerate the heat well. Not a huge surprise since Ike doesn’t.

Erin helped me out a lot with my front crosses. She commented that she often sees me moving backward which I should NEVER do (and Katrin confirmed the tendency to move backward). Then she recommended thinking about a front cross like this, you move forward to point x and turn, that is your front cross. Don’t know why, but this helps me have a clearer idea of what I should be doing with my body that I am not. The crosses feel a lot better. I just have to REMEMBER to do this! In the heat of the moment I fall back on my backward double-step. Hopefully with time it will become second nature. Oh, and breakthrough!! I was not having such a hard time with the course – My brain is beginning to be able to comprehend twisty courses. Hooray!

We also got some more table, tire, and chute practice in. You see all three of these items in CPE (not the chute so much, but on occasion) and not in NADAC. Carmen is BIZARRE about the chute. I think I am going to have to suck it up and buy one.

Yesterday Bug and Carmen had class. I have been super neglectful about training the Bug! I have been hyper-focusing on Carmen’s weaves. New plan of attack is 10 minute training session for each dog every day. My FIL and I have figured out the lawn guy’s schedule so I can leave my equipment out for 10 days before having to pick it all up.

Last night in Bug’s class we worked on tight, switch, and out with poles on the ground! Bug said, “Oh dear.” He got over it though. He was much more stressed than the last lesson two weeks ago. We also worked out with actual jumps, but for the bug it was much more about getting him used to the jump stanchions. I haven’t done this at home because he does get stressed. I wanted Katrin’s watchful eye on us! He was becoming more confident when the lesson ended, so I will plan on working on this with him this week.

Carmen had a good class, Katrin had a pinwheel set up the ended in the chute and went into another pin wheel.

Then we lost the center jumps of the pinwheels and did two 180s. Very fun. Carmen did do a good job, even though poor Katrin had to take extra time with our chute issue. To end class we did a four jump jump-chute. Carmen seems to have poor depth perception. Katrin has noticed that she often takes off for jumps early. She recommended setting a bar in front of the jump – it can be up to the height the dog is jumping plus half. You can also do this on the landing side if your dog is having difficulty. It is stolen from the horse world and gives the dog an actual marker for where to take off. I think this might be Susan Salo’s method? I will have to search. Anyway, everyone saw improvement in their dog’s jumping form. I will def. use this more with Carmen. Especially now that we are settled on 12” until she reaches Veterans.

Monday, September 1, 2008