Monday, December 28, 2009

Changing Vets

This week I am changing the dogs' vet. Gulp.

I am really nervous about this. I think I am nervous because I am worried that I won't be happy with this vet and will need to change AGAIN.

The reason for the change is that since my beloved vet left the practice the boys are currently at (more than 2 years ago now), I have "butted" heads more than a few times with my new primary vet and the practice owner. I do not feel like we have a partnership of any sort and I often feel like my opinion and/or thoughts are discounted. For someone like myself who takes the care of her dogs so seriously this is very hard to swallow.

I have been thinking about making this change for at least six months (longer really). The final push is that Bug needs to have a follow-up C6 (six-month follow-up), and in fact I think he is displaying signs of an active lyme infection again. The past week he has looked off to me - not stiff but not right. He has also been extremely noise sensitive. I could be wrong. To that end I am also scheduling a chiro appointment this week. He could very well be out of alignment. I am also going to call Sterling and ask them about acupuncture. I know multiple people who use Dr. Kris in Stoughton and are very happy with her. However, given Bug is already being seen at Sterling, if they can do the acupuncture too I think it would be a good idea to keep him there.

In addition, Ike is coming up on his Rabies vaccine (1/9/10). Gah! I do not want to vaccinate him. We will see what Dr. M says. The other option is to go down to CT to see our homeopathic vet Dr. F. I am seriously considering this. Given Ike's recent reactivity about T I don't really feel like a rabies vaccine is the best thing for him, but I am unclear that there are any other options. Hopefully Dr. M will have some thoughts.

Wish us well. I have heard lots of good about this vet and the bonus is that she is very familiar with corgis.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday Night Agility Class

Tuesday night Bug and I attended Katrin's drop-in agility class at the barn. Brrr!! It was cold, but well worth it. I asked Katrin for a copy of the course map and she was kind enough to provide it. Thank you, Katrin!

I was really excited to see that the course contained both the dog walk and the teeter. Contacts! I asked Katrin if she would support the teeter when we got to it since Bug is in the process of getting over his teeter fear. I wasn't sure what he would do about the dog walk. I don't think he has been on the dog walk since he jumped off Amanda's this summer and landed on his post-sternum. I could be wrong though - we might have attended a run through after that.

It was a great class! Bug did hesitate on the up-ramp to the dog walk (and did Eeyore ears), but once he "got" that it wasn't a teeter he moved pretty nicely. At the end of the dog walk I tried tossing his Cuz for him but he wanted treats! So I put the Cuz away. I need to buy some of those thistle sacks - I have been lazy and haven't gotten to the hardware store.

I did a front cross after 4 and sent him into the 180. Bug has so much more natural propulsion that he handles 180s really nicely.

I gave him plenty of room at the tunnel and he got the near entrance correctly, then on to the weave poles. Bug has not seen weave poles since April when he injured his iliopsoas (8 months ago). We put them on hold until he fully recovered. At that time I think we had only taken one cage off. Katrin had cages on one side. Guess who did his weave poles effortlessly with no help from me - at all? Bug! Wow! Who is this dog - apparently he learns by osmosis? The break was good for him? I am really excited.

After the year long debacle with Carmie's weave pole performance I was nervous about training poles with Bug. I borrowed the 2 x 2 dvd from Kathleen to have a back-up plan. I will probably use it too, but it looks like we are partially there!

I handled 11 to 12 with a switch. Not my strong suit, but it was relatively smooth. Bug tried to blow by the teeter initially but then agreed to try it. Katrin noted that when the teeter banged his ears went flat against his skull. Given her teeter isn't that noisy (it is wood covered with rubber on a sand floor), she wonders if his Lyme is acting up and making him more noise sensitive. I have noticed he has been noise sensitive and wondered if his head is out of alignment. He is coming up on his six-month c6 test in January - hopefully the titer will give us some insight, and I plan on having Cheryl look at him.

We worked a bit more on the switch with me trying to give Bug more room. Unfortunately then I started stopping my motion too abruptly and Bug started looking at me like, huh? When I wasn't thinking about it I was doing it better - although too close to Bug and the jump. Once I started thinking about it, it became very choppy.

Next run through Katrin gave me a line (about 4' out?) at the weaves because Bug was handling them so effortlessly and she didn't want me on top of them when I don't need to be. Bug could have cared less. So exciting!

We worked switch some more. It is something I have to focus on because hopefully Bug is just going to get faster! We were beginning to get a bit smoother.

Second time on the teeter Bug was committed to the obstacle but not really 100% about it. I really hope between class and the workshop I am attending in February (down in CT) on teeters that we can kick this fear to the curb. While Chris was getting his dog out of his car I put Bug on the teeter once more. He is definitely gaining confidence but isn't crazy about the noise.

I really enjoyed the course and felt like Bug and I got a lot out of the class. Katrin thinks that Bug has more obstacle focus than he used to - which is absolutely true. Everyone else in class kept commenting on how much happier he seemed. I don't know why. I suspect the fact that I agreed to focus on herding and we did the Beyond Basics class has had a big impact - that and being skinny and treated for the Lyme.

Kathleen is on vacation next week too, so I have asked Katrin if we could attend her class again. We'll have to see how the holidays go - I might need a mental health break and not be up to it.

It's an awesome opportunity to work on different equipment with trainer who's focus is different. For example, I haven't worked on Switch since Katrin changed her class schedule and I couldn't attend most weekends!

I wish the classes weren't on the same day and, more realistically, that I could afford to take two classes! I can only imagine the improvement we'd see!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays

Don't look at my poor attempts to get rid of the doggie-red-eye.

Bug in the Snow

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Traveling with Dogs

In April Bug, Ike, John and I plan on traveling to Pennsylvania for the CWCCA Specialty (yay!!). I am wondering what information people typically include or do NOT include on their dog's crate while traveling?

I feel like this is something I should have done in the past given we frequently travel a few hours away (and out of state) for trials. However, this will be our longest, multi-state trip and I want to be prepared.

My thoughts are:
color, weight, height
vet information
my information
alternate contact information (ie: hotel)
photo copies of vaccine records tucked in

Temperament info?

I ordered some engraved signs that say “Dogs are protected by microchip and tattoo” that I will attach to the crates. (I stole that one from Katrin. Thanks, Katrin!)

I think I will be purchasing small locking clasps for when the dogs might be left in the car. Perhaps that is a bit paranoid.

What do you’all have on your crates and what info do you travel with? Do you have any helpful additions?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Serendipity and Agility Class

Sometimes the universe really does conspire to give you the life lesson you need.

I started classes with Kathleen 4 weeks ago to help get Bug acclimated to non-rubber contacts. In October I realized that my dogs were running at my speed when both Carmen and Bug had the EXACT same time in a Tunnelers run. I decided I would change the way I run and try to run less conservatively.

One of the first things that Kathleen said when I started classes with her was to stop feeding Bug from my hand – I was ensuring he would be slowing down and running at my speed because he would be concerned about getting his reward. Ohhh…

Last night we had class and while Bug’s class was excellent (he continues to drive over the A-frame, I realized if I give him more lateral distance at the tire I don’t push him around it, and he began to conquer his teeter fear) – Ike’s class was truly stupendous.

Last week Kathleen commented that Ike is very precise but we want him to be acting more like he is chasing rodents or attacking teenagers than worrying about being precise. We worked a lot on “go” and really got him hyped about that game. Kathleen noticed that Ike slowed down when I used the phrase “C’mon” which has obviously become conditioned to mean “go slow” – I made a pledge to Ike that I would try very hard to drop that phrase.

Last night I did not use that phrase once, I rewarded frequently with tossed food, and I had a very speedy and SUPER happy Schnauzer. The Schnauzer grin was out all night!

Kathleen commented that my energy is different when I run Ike versus Bug. She said it might be because I have decided Ike is “retired” and class is for him to have fun and me to work on my training. Either way we agreed that I need to run Bug more like I have started running Ike.

To top off yesterday’s classes was Susan Garrett’s post this morning, Aiming for Perfection where she discussed her recent attendance of a Tony Robbins seminar.

TR said:
“Perfection is the lowest standard a human could ever take on because it is unattainable therefore you ultimately have no standard at all. You are preparing for failure, because that is your ultimate expectation.”

She said when she asks students what they are aiming for with ______ (fill in the blank), they often reply perfection. Now, I would never say that. I would say having fun with my dogs, a better performance, etc. But guess what? I think my mouth would say that – not my actions. It is true I am a perfectionist - and it can be a serious fault.

Do you know what EVERYONE who has seen Ike run in a trial says? “He is so precise – just slow.” “He is so perfect – just slow.” "He has the skills - he is just slow." Yes, very slow in a trial situation because apparently I have been aiming for perfection at the expense of fun without realizing it.

Susan said, ‘I tried to inspire people to exchange “perfect” for loads of fun and “roughly right”.' And boy does that hit home for me. It has not been a conscious decision, but I think unconsciously I have been aiming for perfection. Read the post, it is well worth reading even if you are not an SG fan.

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions? Because I think I know what mine is, give up perfection and embrace roughly right.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday Night Agility

Bug is driving up the A-frame, albeit lowered, but he is DRIVING.

Kathleen’s courses give me a headache! :-) As I said before, they are much more AKC-style and I am not used to it. I feel like I am learning a second language. I’ve had this feeling before, when I was taking lessons with Erin, and I said the exact same thing.

Tuesday night’s course had two wraps in it that I had some difficulty figuring out how to handle. Well, that isn’t entirely true – but I could only immediately wrap (ha-ha) my head around one way to handle it. With Bug in both instances I threw my hip forward and had him go beyond me. Or tried to do that. In both instances I think I stopped my motion too abruptly (what me?) and Bug started to cut behind me, although I was able to correct his path-of-travel.

Later when Ike ran the same course Kathleen had shown someone else how to do a front cross by driving forward as if you were going to go by the jump then pivoting on the take-off side and sending the dog over the jump. This worked beautifully for Ike and I think it would have for Bug too.

The course also contained two 180s. Bug has enough natural propulsion and seems to understand what his job is in this instance. Ike is a bit loggy. I will need to practice.

Things of note, Kathleen typically ends the class with a speed circle of some sort. Bug was flying. I pulled him off a jump and faltered – do I try and make him do it again or keep going? I opted to keep going, but that second of hesitation and suddenly I had a dog that was moving slower and worrying about being right for the rest of the course. Argh. I am making my dogs slow. It is ME!!

Ike and I were having a speedy little run. I used the phrase, “c’mon” as he came out of a tunnel. Kathleen said he immediately slowed down. She suspects it is a word he has heard so many times when he was running slowly that running slowly has become a conditioned response to the word/phrase. Gah! Must remember not to use “c’mon” with Ike – ever. Run quieter.

We worked some more on “go” with Ike and he was really driving over the jump. It is going to take MUCH longer to train me than Ike. We ended when we actually got a little Schnauzer smile!

I am hoping I will retain enough of the course in my memory that I can try and draw it out. For whatever reason I had a very difficult time handling it. I got lost every time I ran it with Bug.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Very Bad Ike

Sunday Ike stayed at my in-laws while I had a herding lesson and John was at a friend’s for a gathering. The reason, we had an electrician coming in to wire something for the new addition that the landlord is STILL having work done on. Even leaving Ike home crated would be a disaster – he would bark the whole time and work himself into a tizzy.

When I got home John said he had some bad news. Ike had nipped at my nephew (who is 16 yo). I am heartsick. He really tried to get him – he got his pant cuff. I am not sure John really referred to it like that (“bad news”). I am not sure how he referred to it. All I know is that it is never acceptable and I KNOW my nephew doesn’t do anything that warrants that kind of reaction. Ike has been increasingly reactive to T – barking at him when he enters a room, but this level of escalation is unexpected and horrifying.

So, what to do?

Step one: I have asked T if he would be willing to help me do some counter-conditioning with Ike. My nephew is staying at my in-law’s for the next few weeks while my SIL travels for work. Very convenient.

Step two: Ike is now on-leash at the in-law’s if my niece and nephew are there.

Step three: I am considering seeing if I can join Emma Parson’s Reactive Dog class at Masterpeace. The only reason I hesitate is because Ike is not overly dog-reactive (although he can be slightly) – it is people that get his goat. Also he frequently does not display reactivity in a class setting. In addition I have done privates with Emma years ago and attended her Click to Calm workshop, so I feel like I know the drill. I have also done a lot of the Control Unleashed stuff with him. However, a class might be a good refresher. Not sure.

I am really down about this.

Herding in the Snow

Well, not really! Saturday night the weather forecasters were claiming we would likely get 7 inches of snow. I think we ended up with about 2 inches of heavy, wet snow. Snowball snow.

Sunday we had a herding lesson scheduled and I wasn’t sure if we would have it with the snow. Diane checked out her control pen and said, yes. Hooray.

By the time we could there at 1 pm, between an earlier lesson and the feeble sun the control pen was clear. I did act proactively and put Musher’s Secret on Buggie’s paws just in case we ended up working in actual snow.

Kris, with Darwin (Ransom’s brother by another mother), also had a lesson at 1 pm and I was very excited to have a chance to watch them work. Blue and Iris had a 2 pm lesson scheduled so I planned on staying to watch some of their lesson, too.

Diane had Bug and I start with off-balance driving but asked me to move further into the pen so that between me and the fence were the sheep. I held my rake perpendicular over the sheep and Bug’s job was to stay behind the sheep and drive them. He was a little wild at first and actually was doing some “holding” ( I think that is the right term - grabbing the sheep and not releasing the bite) which is NOT allowed. Nipping ankles to get sheep that are not moving to move is allowed.

Once we got that out of his system he worked REALLY nicely. Diane commented that we were working her heaviest sheep and the fact that he had them moving pretty smoothly was excellent. We had a couple of moments where Bug tried to do his job and I prevented him and a couple of moments were I made the right decision in correcting his path of travel and I could TELL I made the right decision!

Bug took a break and it was Darwin’s turn to work. I ran off to walk Bug and do his active cool-down before crating him and then returned to watch Darwin and Kris. Darwin talks a lot while he is working and has a lot drive. I think they were working on flanking and ended with fetching.

Next Bug worked on outruns and he was diving into the sheep. Diane commented that I really need to exert more pressure on him before he begins. I was having trouble with the mental image and then I was having qualms because I still think of Bug as soft around sheep. Diane said it was likely Bug would sort of shut-down when I began exerting more pressure because I am making him do it my way, not the way he likes to but she didn’t feel there was ANY way I would turn him off sheep. She coached me to exert pressure and then verbally reward him for making the right decision. Once I started exerting more pressure Bug went much wider.

We also did some “That’ll do’s” and holy cow – they’re back. I was/am SO ridiculously happy that Bug came with me and didn’t try to dive back into the sheep. Yay, Bug!!

Another break and cool-down for Bug and Darwin worked again. He did some VERY nice fetching for Kris.

Kris, Frank, and Darwin left and I stayed to watch Blue’s lesson and put Bug in the pen once more. He still had a bit of work left in him.

Blue is working very hard at teaching Iris she can work sheep Blue’s way and still have fun. Diane says this is a very typical Aussie mentality – they want to do it their way or forget it.

Bug worked one more time. We worked on driving from corner to corner on line. Flank Bug around the sheep, stop him in the corner, there, walk up. I was stopping him while facing him and Diane asked me to stop him so we were both facing the sheep. That took a bit of finagling on my part – I just wasn’t sure how to do it. I did start to get it and we quit on a positive note for both of us.

Iris worked again and then we all quit for the day – frozen!! Diane lent me a couple of books on herding which I am looking forward to digging into. Next lesson is 12/20 – weather permitting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday Night Classes

Last night Bug had his second class with Kathleen. I felt like the course had more flow this week than last – it included the A-frame, chute, and tire. Bug has rarely seen the chute. First time through he kept backing out, so someone held it open for us. After that he was golden – he flew through it! No attempts to go around the tire, but to be honest he had little choice – it was against a wall! He powered up the A-frame repeatedly. GOOD BOY, Bug!!

Each time Bug ran we did the A-frame a couple of times and rewarded highly with tossed food.

I was talking to Kathleen about how last week I all of a sudden wondered if it was a rear end issue versus a generalization issue. She said if anything she thinks it would be a shoulder strength issue which brought me up short – I have never thought about it as a shoulder strength issue. However, in thinking about it and thinking about how low a Cardi’s post sternum is and those short legs I can see it. Especially since his bicipital tendon has been tender. She said she has had quite a few Cardis in her classes (Dina, I remembered you to Kathleen!) and that for a lot of them the a-frame was a challenge, more so than for Pems.

She suggested I might want to see if I can get Bug some swim time. So...I might call Sterling and see what their rate would be and how often he would need to go for it to be beneficial. I definitely think the ball will help with this too.

Then it was Ike’s turn to attend the drop-in class. I am pretty sure he had a great time. Kathleen really wants me to work on “Go” with both dogs. Last night we ended the drop-in class by working on sending Ike over a single jump. Kathleen asked if Ike would work for her. I said yes, but wasn’t really sure. It takes Ike a VERY long time to warm up to people. Like years – and even then he often won’t work for them. He worked for Kathleen no problem and was REALLY driving over the jump and ahead. Yay, Ike! I guess he really did want to go back to agility!!

Basically we were sending Ike over the jump with the inside arm and tossing the treat with the outside arm once he committed to the jump/was nearly landing, etc. Ike thought it was an awesome game. For Bug Kathleen recommended I get a finch feeding sock (for lack of a better word - no idea what it is really called - you put nyjer seed in it) and put something stinky in it like liverwurst. So when I toss it he and I could also play tug with it.

I am happy. Bug is making progress with his contact issue, Ike is having a grand time, and I am getting a different perspective and training techniques!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Off-balance, Outruns, and Penning

Bug and I had a herding lesson yesterday and it was a STUNNING day. I heard on the radio that it will likely be the last of our warm days. ::sniffle::

Our lesson went well. We started by working on driving and off-balance work. Both Bug and I are really starting to get this and it feels really good. Last week Diane worked her AS Dually a bit on this to give Bug a break. Dually had never done the off-balance work before either, so it was helpful for me to watch Diane work him through the same things we are working through.

Then we went into the big field to work on some outruns. Our goal was for Bug to move out more and have a nice arc. Go By was lovely. Away to me he tries to come in much too straight. We manipulated the situation so he would need to go around a panel. Go by no problem – Away to me he still tried to cut in.

We also stopped him on the opposite side of the sheep. The goal was for the distance to be equal-distant from where he started. This did not end up happening most of the time. He did a decent job stopping for me considering he doesn’t seem to have a stop on stock right now.

We interspersed this with fetching.

Then we worked on penning which is quite hard if your dog does not have a good stop or flank commands. I know I can practice flank commands dry – Jan taught us how this summer. However, no matter how great Bug is with a stop or down off the sheep he sucks on sheep. Diane suggested (tongue-in-cheek, I think) I buy ducks or chickens. John said maybe they could live in the attic. Hah. I guess we just schedule as many lessons as possible.

We moved three sheep into the control pen and then out. Then we moved an additional three sheep in to the control pen and out into the big field. Then we moved six sheep back into the control pen. It figures that I am getting comfortable with the off-balance work so we move on to something that makes me feel like I am all thumbs again!

Diane and I talked about where I want the sheep and where Bug needs to be in order to hold the sheep, but not push them past the gate. In truth it was MUCH more successful than the last time we worked on penning, but it still feels awful.

It was a good lesson, but we ended on a difficult task. Had we started with penning and ended with off-balance work I would be more elated. However, I tend to see a big improvement between lessons – almost as though Bug processes it during the week. I suspect if we work on penning next week it will feel better.

AND Bug was less stiff afterward! Hooray!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cardi Claus Package.... ready to go!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cardi Holiday Ornament Exchange!

A package arrived via FedEx for me today from Heidi!

Inside was a lovely Angel of Friendship ornament - very appropriate! :-)

Heidi, I do not know your blog address - or perhaps I do and just didn't know your name? Either way I hope you post a comment so I can add you to my blog roll.

Thank you so much for brightening my day with such a nice gift!


My mum's dog Nellie stayed with us this week while my mum was in Richmond visiting my brother. Bug and Nellie LOVE each other and neither has any sense of space. I was desperately trying to get a picture of the two of them spooning, but every time Nellie saw the camera come out she acted like it might steal her soul. So, I snapped this single shot in the sly.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Agility Class

Last night Bug and I attended our first agility class at Canine Mastery. Due to Bug’s lack of generalizing when it comes to contacts I wanted to put him in a class where the contacts do not have rubber!

Kathleen, the instructor, lowered the A-Frame and we worked on having him run it. She did say that the A-Frame is a bit slippery, so I kept that in mind. Initially Bug said, “um, no thanks.” Then he would run up the contact area and immediately turn around. Kathleen had me pick him up and put him up much higher on the frame facing down. After that, while still needing some cheerleading, he was successful and offering to run up the A-frame. Kathleen would toss the treats forward onto the ground as he finished the A-Frame and Bug thought that was a great game.

The course was more AKC-style, for example it included an ugly wrap and general lack of flow in the course. Take that with a grain of salt, I am used to NADAC where flow is important.

First run through Bug bypassed the tire. This is a piece of equipment he has not seen a ton of. I neglected to treat him after he took it correctly. Bad handler!

He has a very nice table. Our table default is a down. When we got to the A-Frame/tunnel discrimination, Bug was meant to take the tunnel and given where I was he really should have – but he started doing the A-Frame. Goober. That’s okay – I want him to love contacts – especially contacts without rubber.

Next run through Kathleen suggested I have him do the A-Frame instead of the tunnel – what did he do but choose the tunnel. Like I said, goober! I called him back and we tried again.

The two biggest pieces I took from class are:

1. Don’t treat Bug from my hand. Kathleen said Bug and I are adjusting our speed for each other and treating him from my hand is just reinforcing he doesn’t need to run fast - or he only needs to run as fast as I am. I had string cheese cut into discs and Kathleen recommended tossing it to get his prey drive kicking. The flooring is black mat so the white cheese is very visible. The only bad thing (i.e. bad handler) is that a couple of times I tossed the treat before he had committed and completed the obstacle. Um, it becomes a lure instead of a reward with early release, Julie! I have to work on my timing and tossing confidence (this seems to be a recurring issue - why do I resist practicing my throwing?). But I can see how it will help Bug stop worrying about where I am and drive ahead.

2. Work on my “Go.” This is something we worked on in one of Katrin’s foundation classes and haven’t practiced or kept up on it.

Also, I wonder if some of Bug's A-frame issue is rear-end strength? I find that hard to believe considering the muscles he has back there. Maybe he doesn't know how to USE those muscles? I will start doing more ball work, backing up (which is also good for sheep), and stool work. It can't hurt, right?

Bug is SO fast when he is frapping or playing with the sheep. However, I don’t see that in agility and I think it is totally my fault.

I plan on doing some “Go” work. If the weather stays wet it will be inside. I might use the Manner’s Minder. I also need to start working on his weaves now that the iliopsoas injury has resolved itself. I will have to be careful NOT to practice daily – maybe every two days?

Either way, it was a good class and I have some things to think about and work on. I was also impressed by how focused Bug was with a whole new group of dogs and humans.

Oh! And Ike has been asking for a job. I think he wants to do agility again (but ONLY in class). I asked Cheryl to ask him and she confirmed he would like to do agility again, just NO TRIALING. So, I am going to bring Ike on Tuesdays and attend Kathleen’s drop-in class (which is after Bug’s).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Herding Lesson

Sunday Bug and I had a herding lesson. We worked on off-balance work and our “That’ll do.”

In the off-balance work, the dog is driving the sheep from behind. Last lesson this was VERY difficult for Bug (and me) to understand. This lesson he did so much better. He was actually nipping at hocks (which is a GOOD thing according to Diane)! Ultimately your dog will be ahead of you driving the sheep forward. Right now Bug is more beside me. I am holding the rake over the sheep on its side pointing in the direction I want to go. This gives Bug guidance in regards to what is off limits (i.e. coming up the inside too far or going too far forward on the outside – unless he is pushing sheep back).

Bug thought the off-balance work was much more fun than fetching! I am really pleased with how he started to “get it.” What a HUGE difference from last lesson – he was not constantly trying to get to the heads. WOW.

Then we worked on our “That’ll do” I would send Bug around – back to the corner where he had been – when he settled ask for a wait/stop and then tell him that’ll do. He was definitely better than he has been lately. I did have to throw the rake to interrupt his path of travel a couple of times, but nothing like a few weeks ago.

Diane and I decided to make “wait” my stop word as Bug understands it and is much more responsive to it that asking for a down. With “wait” he gives me my down much more quickly!

Weather permitting we are scheduled for a lesson next weekend and the following weekend. Hopefully Bug will continue to improve. He also did not seem as stiff in the evening. He was still stiff, but not AS stiff. Progress!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

CorgiAid, Inc. and CWCNRT

Chase Community Giving is donating $5,000,000 to charities around the USA. Facebook users are voting for the recipients. If you are on Facebook, please take a few minutes, become a fan of Chase Community Giving and vote for CorgiAid, Inc and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust. These organizations could receive $25,000 which would be a truly amazing holiday gift for groups that do tremendous work. You MUST vote by December 11th.

CorgiAid, Inc.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Exchange

Janet at Simple Things has organized a holiday ornament exchange between the Cardi bloggers. VERY COOL!! I received the name of who I will play "Cardi Claus" for on Monday and I cannot wait to find the perfect ornament to send.

I am headed to the Thanksgiving Cluster this Friday and hope to spy a cool ornament!


Bug has been having some issues holding his stay for the repen. he usually breaks when I start fiddling with the gate. Then we have to get the sheep back in position and start all over. I have now discussed it with quite a few people and have some great ideas to work on his down-stay at home and with the sheep.

Last night I started asking for a down-stay when we exit or enter the house. Bug is usually high as a kite at these moments, as a result we already incorporate a "wait" at all doors.

Well, a down-stay is totally different! And let me tell you - I saw Bug acting like he had SHEEP! on the brain, i.e. not wanting to hold his stay. PERFECT!! We will keep working on this and hope to see an impact with the sheep.

I am also going to ask for a down-stay once he has left his crate in the car. THIS will be super hard for Bug. Usually once I put the car in park Bug starts making this terrible high pitched whine I do not hear anywhere else. His "wait" is weakest here and we have fought about it on occasion. Perfect training opportunity!! I think I have identified two moments that closely mimic the excitement of the sheep.

I also have some additional great training ideas to try out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Odd Isn’t Really Odd?

Yesterday John and I took Ike to the vet. We opted to have a super chem. done since he doesn’t appear to be displaying any typical TBD signs. Ike has lost a pound since his annual in April. I cannot seem to get his weight right. If I feed him 3 ounces daily he gets fat (IMO) – if I cut it back he gets too skinny. I actually think he is just about perfect at the moment but was shocked he had lost a pound.

Regarding the tick bite reaction, my homeopathic vet said “The picture shows a classic cutaneous inflammatory response to any tick bite or similar trauma.” He recommended an immune stimulant supplement. I started Ike on Standard Process Immune Support (which I happen to have). We are speaking today and I will ask him if that is adequate or if he really feels I need the one he recommended, Xymogen IgG 2000 DF, and what the difference is if yes.

Part of the reason I freaked about the tick bite is Ike has been acting odd lately – at least for him. That and the fact that he has never-ever had a skin response like that. For the past two weeks he has been VERY needy, running hot (i.e. panting lots), selecting really unusual spots to rest in (at least for him), jumping the 24” baby gate (and yesterday the 28” gate). If I am in the bathroom he scratches like a maniac to get in and once he is in he lays down on the bathmat. The only time he has done anything similar is if I am training Bug and he wants to get into the room and then he certainly doesn’t lay down!

The only thing I can think of is we recently gave him a new remedy (sulphur). I will be really curious to hear what Dr. F thinks when I speak to him today.

Yesterday I said to John, "Well, we think he is acting odd but are the behaviors themselves really that odd? They’re only odd for Ike." So maybe the remedy triggered something and this is just giving us more info. I find his reactivity has decreased in my opinion. Very interesting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ace Agility Trial

Yesterday Bug, Carmie, and I attended the Ace Agility Trial at the Mount Holyoke College Equestrian Center in South Hadley, MA. We stayed at a friend's house in Northampton the night before so we wouldn't have to leave the house at 5 a.m. - that was a wise choice given Saturday ended up being VERY wet!

I entered Carmen in Nov. Touch n Go, Nov. Regular, Open Tunnelers, and Open Jumpers. I entered Bug in Nov. Tunnelers and Nov. Jumpers. I took pictures of the course maps but forgot to take a picture of Open Jumpers! D'oh. It was a nice course.

I was a bit worried about the lighting. The barn had no sun lights (and it was pouring so there was no sun to be had), but it did have some material on the sides that allowed light to pass through (if there was any). The lighting seemed dim - see the picture below.

Amazingly, Carmie did not have ANY issues with the lighting. I think consistency of lighting must be more important for her than the quality at this point? Good to know. She also wasn't too stressed about staying at my friend's house which I consider another sign of her vision health.

The footing at this facility was great - dirt and not too thick. The only downside was given it was pouring every time you came back in dirt stuck to everything. Carmie looked like a mud covered drowned rat!

Novice Touch n Go Carmie FAILED the discrimination between the A-Frame and the tunnel. She could have been successful except, I called her TOO hard and she ended up taking the opposite end of the tunnel. There is a middle ground, I know there is.

Really nice things about this was our first run and I was really worried about the lighting, BUT I did not babysit the hoops! I have never practiced with hoops other than running courses with them at trials. I worry that Carmen doesn't know her job in regards to them and typically babysit them a bit.

Yesterday I ran this course like I meant it and Carmen was really moving nicely. Coming out of the 6 tunnel, through the hoops, tunnel and dog walk she really picked up speed and I didn't baby sit. Carmen has really nice contacts. A lot of dogs where having difficulty with the dog walk. The ramps were very steep and there were no slats. You repeatedly saw dogs crouch as though they were on the teeter. No issues for Carmie. NQ/1.

Novice Regular we failed the discrimination AGAIN. This time I put Carmen in a stay slightly angled to the left of the dog walk. Hoping to take the tunnel out of the picture. I led out slightly further than mid-way between the jump and A-frame and called her hard to me and said A-frame. She took the tunnel. Gah! All I have to say is I am going to make DAMN sure this is not an issue with Bug. We are going to work REALLY hard on discrimination issues. She nailed her weaves which made me very happy. NQ/1

Tunnelers was a fun run. I have had an epiphany of sorts. Last trial both dogs ran Tunnelers in the exact same course time. I realized that both my dogs are running at my speed and in general I do not run courses like I mean them. I play it cautious. I decided that I would change that. I hadn't consciously formed the thought, but I acted upon it in Touch n Go. In Tunnelers I consciously made the decision I would try to run my butt off and trust my dog(s) and I did! And both dogs had SUPER runs. Carmie was at least 5 seconds under course time (maybe more), which given she is running in Open and it is tighter for us is a big deal. Q/2 for both dogs.

Carmie's Open Jumpers run was really nice. I again ran like I meant it and called her off of jump 16. However I got her back with out her back-jumping it and she nailed the course - well under time. Q/2.

Novice Jumpers was the last run of the day and Bug was fried. He went around the 2nd jump - I think with the intention of visiting. I got him back and thought I would be successful in getting him over the jump, but then I crowded him and pushed him around it again - and he back jumped. The rest of the run was smooth, fast, and beautiful. And, even with all the fussing around jump 2 he was only 2 seconds over course time (with a 10 pt fault). NQ/4.

It was a great day and gives me hope that Carmie can continue to trial indoors for a bit. I don't think the lighting was ideal and she handled it well - moving very confidently.

Now the bad news. I was about a half hour into my trip home when my dashboard started going haywire. The ABS light came on, then the brake light, then the airbag light. The dashboard lights started dimming, my headlights started to go and when I tried to put my hazards on and pull over my car started making a bizarre buzzing noise. My brakes and steering wheel didn't want to cooperate. When I finally got pulled over I couldn't get my car into park. When I called AAA they said they couldn't come get me because I was on a privately owned highway (the Mass. Turnpike) and connected me with the State Police!

An hour later a tow truck arrived and I was on my way home. The two truck driver and my husband think it is something electrical. I just had my car in for a 15,000 mile check up last Saturday - so I hope it is something small.

We were supposed to have a herding lesson today, but with no car (although John said I could borrow his) and a VERY late and stressful night I decided to scrap it and stay home and relax. Hopefully my car will be fixed quickly and we'll be ready for next week's lesson.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Foul Ticks

Yesterday night John discovered an engorged deer tick on Ike’s neck. The bite location was swollen and there was/is a perfect red circle around it. ARGH!!! Last night I was thinking Lyme disease.

This morning I called the vet. The red circle is more likely an allergic reaction than a sign of Lyme disease. Dog’s do not typically display the red bull’s eye rash that humans do. It’s just odd as Ike has never had a reaction like that and it is so perfect and so red.

This is followed by about a week and a half of Ike acting really weird. He has been running hot and panting a lot, choosing odd locations to rest (like the bathroom – a Buggie location), being super needy, and jumping the 24” baby gate repeatedly (he jumps 12” in competition). All adds up to Ike being odd.

I have a vet appointment on Monday. Ike was treated for Lyme about 5 years ago and hasn’t been treated or tested since. He has muscle-tested positive for an active Lyme infection multiple times and was treated with a nosode.

The vet actually suggested we do a more complete blood panel. I am not really sure what to do. I will at a minimum do a C6 and depending upon the $$ of more extensive tick panels I might do one. Fortunately I have an appointment on Tuesday with my homeopathic vet already scheduled. Dr. F recently changed Ike’s constitutional remedy, so we need to follow-up and see how he is doing.

I am off to Northampton shortly. Bug, Carmen, and I are staying at a friend's house and trialing in South Hadley tomorrow. The trial is at an equestrian center - very convenient since the forecast for tomorrow is rain! I think we are seeing some of Ida.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Herding Lesson - Off Balance Work

Today Bug and I had a herding lesson with Diane. While the weather holds we are going every Sunday.

Diane asked what we had talked about working on next. Now that I begin to understand what is going on, I can tell her. We wanted to work on our flank commands, "Away" because Bug is more resistant to that direction (although he wasn't today!), "that'll do" and off-balance work.

We started by working on flank commands. I put Bug in a down walk to my sheep, face him, and ask him to go "Away to Me" or "Go By." Bug makes one and a half rotations - I ask for a "down" in the corner. The first few times I didn't understand exactly what Diane wanted and I stopped Bug WAY too late. Then I stopped him early. Finally I got some really nice downs in the right spot!

We did some "that'll do's" and lets just say my rake throwing leaves much to be desired. I can be so black and white. Diane says "say That'll do" - I say "That'll do." I don't try to tell Bug "Here" or "Come" when he tries to dive for sheep. I am doing exactly what Diane says. Today she said, why don't you use "That'll do - Come?" I said, "I can do that?" D'oh. Master of the obvious I am not. "That'll do - come" did seem a bit more effective.

The big thing we worked on today was the off-balance work. In this exercise Bug is driving the sheep with me from behind and I am holding my rake over the sheep, on its side. I did not have a very clear picture in my head initially and we had a VERY tough time of it. Add to that Bug aggravated one of the sheep into trying to butt at him. This happened because Bug kept trying to get to the heads of the sheep because that is how he prefers to work, and I kept asking him to go to their rear.

Next time in the pen we switched the sheep that didn't like Bug out for another sheep and it was a much better dynamic. Bug was really successful at walking-up and driving the sheep. I could feel how much better it was than the previous attempt (which sucked, basically).

Bug got tired much quicker today, even though we broke the training up quite a bit. I think it was because the off-balance work was so mentally difficulty for him. He isn't clear what his job is yet and so his brain is in overtime trying to figure it out. The difference between our first attempt and our second was pretty huge. Now I know what it feels like and I think we'll have a lot more success with this next week.

The best news is that when we got home, I did Bug's massage and stretches and .... no stiffness!

Note: I take it back - he was stiff later in the evening. Not too bad and certainly not as bad as last weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Technique Critique

Yesterday Bug and I visited Sterling Impressions Animal Rehab to see if I was doing the friction massage on his bicipital tendon correctly. As I suspected, I was NOT. I was not "rolling off the shoulder head" correctly.

Fabulous PT Cathy shared her gross anatomy book with me and I *think* I've got it now. Cathy went over Bug with a fine tooth comb and felt like his muscles were soft and supple, except for his left iliopsoas - that had a little knot. So I will be sure to give that area a little extra attention going forward.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Animal Communication Seminar: Part 1

Tuesday night I attended part one of a two part seminar on Animal Communication. I am not speaking about communication between the species but telepathically between animals and humans. :-) The “woo-woo” stuff. I have been really interested in this for some time – especially because Ike speaks to me and I do not always listen. Once in a while I hear Bug.

I have used Animal Communicators in the past with Ike and recently used one with Bug when he was recovering from Lyme. That reminds me that I should e-mail the Jessica and let her know something she mentioned in the communication has come to fruition. She did a body scan to let me know if there was anything I should be aware of. She mentioned Bug’s liver seemed tender (at the time he had just finished the doxy for Lyme and I had just taken him off milk thistle), so I did another 30 days of milk thistle. She also mentioned that his front and forearms felt stilted to her. At the time it just worried me, however since then he has been stiff after herding and come to find out his bicipital tendons are tender!

I cannot do a blow-by-blow of the animal communicator seminar and do it justice. Prior to attempting to connect with any animals Carolyn, the instructor, had us do an exercise. She handed everyone a handful of cotton balls, which are supposedly excellent energy conductors. While she read a meditation we were to breathe deeply and visualize something. Then we passed our cotton balls to a neighbor and did a similar meditation with their cotton balls – to see if we could pick anything up. When I was handed my neighbor’s cotton balls I immediately thought/saw blue; while I was holding them my palms tingled.

We then went around the room and talked about what came to us. Carolyn said when you get a color like that it can often be related to the chakra – in this case blue is the throat chakra. My neighbor definitely was not a believer and I think was there to humor her sister. It was pretty obvious the entire thing was making her uncomfortable.

Then we swapped pictures and did another meditation. My picture was a 10 month old cat named Mittens. At first I did not think I was getting anything, but I wrote down everything that came into my head.

Salmon – crunchy
A window looking out on a moderately busy street
One of those toys that is a stick with feathers or strings attached

When it was my turn to speak I said I didn’t think I got much, but when I went through my list – everything I said resonated with Mittens’ owner. I said, “She thinks she is very beautiful.” And her owner said “I tell her she is all the time.”

Salmon-crunchy – she likes seafood but actually prefers the crunchy kibble

I described her street correctly and Mittens does like to watch the traffic and leaves
I described Mittens’ favorite toy and she does enjoy playing.

I thought Mittens was saying that she is not skittish, but her owner said she is very skittish – so there was a miscommunication there – or perhaps Mittens does NOT think she is skittish.

One of the things Carolyn said is that even if the owner says ‘no, that doesn’t make sense,’ often times it will eventually make sense, the owners don’t know about it yet, or it is the animal’s perspective.

I spoke to Cheryl our chiropractor, who has taken this seminar, and she said I could talk to her male PRT Spot anytime I want – apparently he will talk to anyone. Cheryl said the big thing is you must trust yourself and write down what you are hearing/thinking. She also said it is important to practice.

I think it is really hard for people to trust themselves.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Herding Lesson

Sunday Bug and I had a herding lesson and John came to watch!! Very cool.

We started out in the control pen and we did a small bit of fetching and then an exercise I am not quite sure what to call - it is a balance exercise. We are fetching, I walk through the sheep, have Bug get around in the other direction, I pivot and walk backwards - where my dogs was. Rinse and repeat.

We also worked on Bug's "That'll do" which had been decent and now sucks. Every time I say "That'll do" Bug is diving for the sheep. So, Diane had me toss my rake between Bug and the sheep. I explained that I am a TERRIBLE thrower and she suggested practicing. She also helped me out by tossing a rake for me. A couple of times I was able to step on the line and Bug corrected himself quickly. We'll have to keep working on this!

Diane noticed that Bug was getting bored so off we went to the big field. First we moved the sheep that were hanging out there into their pen. Then we moved the three sheep we were working into the big field. We started with a nice outrun and did some fetching. For the first time, I did not walk backwards while fetching! And Bug did not push the sheep past me. good boy!!

Then Diane had us do a ASCA Started course. Wow! Through 2 panels (no more than 10' apart) around another panel turn around go past the single panel and through the 2 panels. Throw in a down or stop. Bug did a great job.

We did this again and then Diane had me pen the one heavy sheep in our group of three so that Bug could work with the lighter sheep. She thought that would be more fun for him (and boy, was she right!). Penning the heavy sheep of three sheep was tough for us. In part because Bug wasn't holding his stay when I went to unhook the gate. He was, however, much better than our last lesson. It makes sense to me that a stay with sheep is tougher for him - the rules are so ambiguous. Sometimes it is okay if he breaks his stay - sometimes it isn't. It all depends and where I am, where the sheep are, how he's moving when he breaks.

We worked some more on outruns and fetching. It became very clear that Bug favors "Go by" (clockwise) and really doesn't like to go Away (counter-clockwise). To date we have been practicing them fairly equally. We need to start practicing Away MUCH more so that Bug becomes more comfortable and doesn't resist it as much.

It was an excellent lesson. The only downer is that Bug was stiff in the evening. I think in part that is because he worked for a SOLID uninterrupted hour. We usually work in 15 - 20 minute intervals. Wow! And he never quit. What a great boy.

The reason the stiffness is a downer - other than the obvious - is I have noticed that he appears stiff in the front after herding lately. It typically appears within 6 - 10 hours of herding and he looks stiff getting up from laying down and has some difficulty jumping up on the bed. I massage and give him Traumeel. The next day he is fine.

As you all know from reading my blog, I am paranoid about my dogs' health and my chiropractor Cheryl recommended a rehab vet that quite a few other corgi people I know have used.

So I went on Columbus Day with the Bug.

Basically Bug's bicipital tendons (bilaterally) are tender (left more than right). Dr. M said at this point there is no scar tissue - it is just tender. They gave me a slew of exercises and massage techniques to do 3 x a week to prevent it from getting any worse and becoming bicipital tendonitis. She said given the starting and stopping a dog does in herding it could be a fairly typical injury.

We have been doing our exercises religiously and have seen NO stiffness after trialing in agility or running off leash on hikes. However, I knew the real test would be herding.

Yesterday's stiffness was, I truly feel, in large part due to the amount of time Bug worked. However, to be on the safe side I have scheduled an appointment with the physical therapist to make sure I am doing the massage techniques correctly. I am supposed to do something called "friction massage" ON the tendon. I am afraid perhaps I am missing the right spot. So on Thursday I will do Bug's stretching and massage in real-time and the therapist will critique my technique.

Cathy, the physical therapist, said she is not surprised he was stiff after working an hour. She said a soft-tissue injury can take months to heal. She suggested that I make sure we only work in 15 - 20 minute intervals next week. She said she was sure I would see a major difference working in intervals. I asked if I should stop herding and she said absolutely not. I am relieved because Bug ADORES herding. It is amazing to me how much more strenuous herding is on the dog's body. The rehab vet commented on what a "hard body" Bug is. She said he had tremendous muscles! That is all due to herding.

There you have it, that is the herding update. I have a herding fool, without a doubt!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Schnauze

Who knew it had so many colors?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beyond Basics #7

Tuesday night Bug graduated from Beyond Basics.

We practiced our stays, loose leash walking, and recalls. All-in-all I think Bug and I got a ton out of this class. Canine Mastery has a class that takes place outdoors at shopping centers and various locations. I forget what the name of it is, but I think I will put my name on the list for when they it next (they do not schedule it until they have at least six participants). I think that would be a fun class to do with Bug.

Seven Groups

About a week and a half ago Amanda at ManyMuddyPaws did a post on the CKC/AKC seven groups.


Group 1- Sporting
Group 2- Hound
Group 3- Working
Group 4- Terriers
Group 5- Toys
Group 6- Non Sporting
Group 7- Herding

Recently both Katrin and Cat answered the question on their blogs and it reminded me I intended to post on it, too. I forgot all about it.

So here goes:

Group 1 - Sporting: I am actually not crazy about any of the breeds in the Sporting Group. If I had to choose I would say Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Primarily because I like the slightly more petite build, compared to some of the other dogs in the Sporting Group, and I know a breeder in MA who I would definitely consider getting a dog from.

Group 2 – Hound: Long-haired Dachshund. I have met quite a few that do Earthdog and like their tenacity. I would worry a lot about IVDD, but that is a possibility with Cardis too. Given they are hounds there would also be the challenge of their noses – hopefully tracking would give them a good outlet for that.

Group 3 – Working: Portuguese Water Dog. I have always liked them and after going down to CT with Katrin to check out a local breeder, I really like them! Only downside would be that it is another dog with a coat that requires serious grooming, but I could try water sports!

Group 4 – Terrier: Welsh Terrier! I have met too many recently with super work ethic to say no to this compact terrier. JRT is a close second.

Group 5 – Toy: Not much calls to me from this group. If I had to choose I would say Havanese. The Havanese I have met seem to have a pretty even temperament, are cute, and seem fairly biddable.

Group 6 – Non-Sporting: Having spent some time with Kerry’s French BulldogsOMG, what a lovey little dog. If I were looking for purely a pet I would certainly pick French Bulldog.

Group 7 – Herding: I would like to have an Australian Cattle Dog at some point. I love their structure and tail and they just seem fierce. I think they would be a very challenging dog to own and work with. However, I think an Aussie would be a better fit with my husband!

Anyone want to play?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Busy Winter for the Bug

It is shaping up to be a busy winter for the Bug.

I just signed Bug up for two seminars - one on Nosework in January and another on Teeter Troubleshooting (based on Susan Garrett's Say Yes! framework) in February. Act-Up is also having Tracy Skelnor and Debi Hutchinson out in January and February. Woo-hoo. We will be busy absorbing as much info as possible!

More on Nosework.....

Apparently the East Coast has its first certified Nosework instructor in residence and he is giving two seminars at Masterpeace - one in December and one in January. Here's the blurb from Masterpeace:

What is Nosework? In this sport, dogs indicate the location of a "target" scent by using their natural sense of smell. This seminar will focus on teaching you how to encourage and develop your dog's natural scenting abilities by using their desire to hunt, and their love of toys, food and exercise. Your dog will have fun, build confidence and burn lots of mental and physical energy.

I know Whole Dog Journal did an article on it in August, but I didn't know there were any trainers out our way. I am really excited. I would love to do this with Ike, but given he stresses in a seminar situation I think I will do it with Bug.

It is always nice to have things to look forward to!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Odd Ike Rally-O

Ike and I had Rally-O tonight. He was a bit off. He worked the stations well, but was easily distracted by crumbs, signs, cones, and the broad jump. I also found him to be more reactive prior to our run-through.

The second run-through Ike stopped mid-course because Amy's human father came to pick her up and Ike heard his voice. Eeek!

What is interesting is I left him in the car until after we had walked. I used to bring him in without issue, but lately he has begun barking in his crate during the walk through. This is a new behavior for Ike and I am not sure what is prompting it. Currently I am going on the assumption that it is stress related. I suppose it could also be demand barking? Either way, until I have time to deal with it properly I do not want him reinforcing himself by barking rudely. So, I left him in the car. I am not sure if leaving him in the car contributed to his increased reactivity or not.

I am still not 100% and forgot to write down the course. In part this was because I wanted to give Ike my undivided attention - he seemed like he needed it.

The positives - our down, walk around dog was GREAT as was our About Left Turn!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rally Practice

Bug has gone to watch the Pats with John at a friend's house. So I practiced Rally with Ike in the front yard. I got some of the behaviors I witnessed at our one-and-only Rally Trial - he was slower to respond and watching to make sure no terrorists creeped up on us. However, in general I was heartened. He had no problem with down-stay-walk around your dog or halt-stay-walk around your dog. I did notice his halts were a bit off, but his fronts were very nice. And he was VERY happy to be playing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beyond Basics #6

Tuesday night Bug and I had our 6th Beyond Basics class. I thought it was our last - however, I forgot this is a seven week session. Woo-hoo! One more class to go.

We worked a lot on stays and recalls with distractions and off-leash walking solo and with another dog.

The first stay/recall exercise we worked on, we all lined up along the long side of the wall. Handlers put their dogs in a stay and then one at a time the handler walked to the opposite side of the room and called their dog. Bug self-released the first time and made a bee-line for me. I am happy he made a bee-line for me and none of the dogs - especially considering we were in close proximity!

I put him back in his preferred position (down) and walked across the room. He waited - patiently - to be released. GOOD BOY.

Next exercise we worked on loose-leash walking. Once our dog was totally connected with us Joyce had us drop the leash. I obviously underestimate both myself and Bug. This is our weak point, BUT I work hard to keep him engaged and he stays engaged! Last night was more challenging because Buster, the intact dog Bug is not fond of, was there.

I started the class out on the right foot though. Buster entered, and I c/t for Bug looking at Buster. Bug thought that was great."Cool. I get cookies for looking at him and not reacting? Sweet!"

Next exercise was loose-leash walking with another dog also loose-leash walking. Then, if we had a nice connection with our dogs, dropping the leashes. Joyce paired us with Tagget (who Bug and I love and is a b-o-u-n-c-y, happy shepherd boy). I was beyond impressed that both dogs stayed with their respective handlers. Tagget's mum does a very good job with him. Actually all the owners do a great job with their dogs.

The final exercise of the night was loose-leash walking around and over a distraction. I used a sample package of Zuke's that had been opened. I let Bug sniff it and then put it down and proceeded to walk around it. Bug thought something was afoot and NEVER once looked at the distraction. To be honest, I think this stressed him out a little bit!

One class left. Boo!! I just found out there is a class after this called Above and Beyond. I am tempted to put Bug in it - I am having such a good time.

No Rally-O this week. We had class, but I skipped it to stay home and sleep. I was WAY too pooped after the trial this weekend.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Act-Up Trial

I am back from the trial. Today due to the inclement weather we had more scratches than I think I have ever seen at a trial! I was on the road for home, after staying to help break-down, by 3:30. That must be some sort of record.

Yesterday the weather ended up being really nice. Cold, but no rain. Carmie ran in her first Open Jumpers class and Q'd. She had a nice run. I think she was about a second under course time. Open is a lot tighter for her and the sun was actually out and bright when she ran.

Bug did not Q in Novice Jumpers. He had a tougher time of it. The judge was trying to beat the weather and during Jumpers asked that each dog be on the line as soon as the previous dog left the line. Katrin's Monty ran before us and all Bug could think about was playing with Monty. I think this would have been the case irregardless of the dog ahead of us. For his boy brain it was just too much.

I waited until I had eye contact, took his slip lead off, and he turned around to see if he could exit and play with Monty! Oops. I got him back and off we went. He handled up until the serpentine really nicely, then thought perhaps he needed to visit the judge. I was able to get him back pretty quickly. He then went around a jump, but once again I was able to get him back (without back-jumping) and complete the course.

Amazingly, Bug ran clean and was only over course time by .94 of a second. Wow.

I then left at noon to attend my workshop on Animal Communication. When I arrived I was told the class was cancelled due to low-enrollment. I was really frustrated - not only was I looking forward to the class, but I had paid to run Carmen in Regular and ended up missing the runs to attend the workshop. The woman had my e-mail and could have alerted me to the fact that she wouldn't be holding the class. They refunded my money and I have already enrolled in another seminar and will just attend that one.

We headed back to Wrentham and I ran both dogs in Tunnelers. It was a very nice, flowing course and both dogs Q'd and took first in their height/class (Open and Novice). The really funny thing is that the dogs had the EXACT same course time. This leads me to believe that the course time is actually MY time and the dogs base their speed off of me. What are the chances that they would have the EXACT same course time? This Q also finished Bug's Novice Tunneler title. Yay, Buggie. This is his first title!! And it was Carmie's second Open Q.

Today , as I said earlier, was not such a nice day. It rained non-stop all day and just got colder as we got along.

Carmie's Jumpers run was WILD. She was really booking and had three off courses into the tunnel. However, the joy was just too priceless. I could NEVER be upset with a dog when they are having that much fun. Well, I couldn't be upset anyway - that's the wrong word. Anyway, she had a blast.

I opted to run Bug because it was not raining that hard yet and the traction was good. He had a LOVELY run. There was another serpentine and he handled it really well - quite tight - I was very impressed. Q/1. Yay, Bug!

I ran Carmen in Regular 1 and Regular 2. In Regular 1 she had a SUPER run, sweet weaves, etc, until the second to last obstacle - which was a discrimination issue. Dogwalk versus tunnel. I stopped my forward motion, yelled Carmen really loudly. She actually stopped. I tried to get her over to me and to take the dog walk. She was stopped, she looked at me and then she said, "Nah...I want to do the tunnel." Stinker! It was still a very nice run.

Regular 2 she bobbled her weaves, I called her back to try again but didn't move back far enough and screwed up her entry again. Since it was pouring, cold, and my fault I said screw it and didn't try to fix it.

I scratched both dogs from Tunnelers since the rain had been unrelenting and at that point I thought it would be risky to run either one.

All in all it was a great weekend.

I am happy with how Bug is coming along. I wish we could have days like yesterday more often - it would allow Carmie to run a bit longer. We now have one more NADAC trial this year on 11/14. That will be in a horse barn. We'll see how it goes.

I almost forgot to mention that Darwin, who is owned by Kris (who has Bug's niece Bette and is half-brother Ransom) finished their NATCH today!! Apparently Darwin loves mucky weather. They had a GORGEOUS Regular run and a nice Chances run. In Chances he had to yell at his mum a bit but finally decided to do what she wanted! Congratulations, Kris and Darwin.
Corgi Power!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Outdoor Trial of the Year...

...and we had snow flurries this morning! Eeek. Massachusetts should not have snow in mid-October. brrr!!

The weather forecast does not look great the Act-Up Agility trial this weekend. Cold and Wet....

Saturday I have Bug entered in Jumpers and Carmie in Open Jumpers and Nov. Regular (2). I am leaving mid-day to attend the first of a two part workshop on Animal Communication. I have wanted to explore Animal Communication for a while and this workshop is taking place in the town next door at The Healing Moon for a very reasonable price.

Sunday, I have Bug entered in Jumpers and Tunnelers, and Carmie entered in Open Jumpers, Nov. Regular (2), and Open Tunnelers.

The whole weekend could end up being a bust. If it is raining I do not plan on running Bug. I don't feel like risking an injury with him. Depending upon how gray it is, Carmie may not be able to see.

We will be playing it by ear and trying to stay warm. One sure fire way to stay warm is to work lots!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day '09 Climate Change

I have really struggled with what to write for this year’s Blog Action Day topic, Climate Change. I discovered to my personal embarrassment that climate change is something I know is occurring, and know the skeleton of, but don’t really know THAT much about the nuts and bolts of it! Well, how do you like them apples?

So, rather than quoting a bunch of articles and trying create some semi-coherent blog post about said articles I thought I would share some of the resources I found while trying to figure out what the heck to write about.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a kids page on Climate Change. Cool! Climate Change Kids Site – if kids can understand it than certainly I can, right? here is the "adult" page, too.

Grist Magazine – a favorite online magazine of mine - has a page devoted to climate change as well as a page to track what is happening with the Senate Climate Bill - Climate Citizens.

7:21 p.m. - Grist just posted on Blog Action Day!

Given the awesome Ken Burns’ National Park pieces that have been playing on PBS non-stop and my LOVE of Acadia, I thought this piece by David Frey, National Parks are a Climate Change Canary, was very interesting.

And finally, here is a list of books on climate change. Before I decided how much time I wanted to/was able to realistically invest in this post I consider reading up and found this useful list: Books about climate and climate change. I read reviews of all the books I thought I might read and narrowed it down to The Change in the Weather: People, Weather, and the Science of Climate by William K. Stevens. You can read a compelling review here. My library has this book and I plan on picking it up today (along with the Omnivore’s Dilemma!).

I hope this post, given it wasn’t about dogs, agility, or herding, made you think for a least a moment about the impact we are having on the climate and the impact climate change is having on our world

The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we're contributing to the warming of the earth's atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.

-Barack Obama

Beyond Basics #5

Tuesday night Bug was a little rowdy; a few booming barks for no real reason. Everyone is always surprised by how BIG his bark is. My landlord is STILL having their addition worked on and the men were particularly loud Tuesday. I noticed that the DAP diffuser is empty. Hmmm…I wonder if there is a connection.

First exercise was Stay with distraction/Come with distraction. Three dogs and their handlers stood at the far end of the room in a line (side-by-side). The dogs/handlers on the outside put their dogs in a stay. The center dog was restrained and the handler walked away and then asked the dog to come. This was VERY hard for the dogs in the Stays due to the proximity. Bug did fairly well. The first time he stood up – although he didn’t lunge or attempt to “Come” with. He just found it a bit too stimulating. Next dog in our trio I made sure Bug had MORE treats and he held his stay. When it was our turn to do the recall, Bug came without a second of hesitation. Good boy, Bug.

Next exercise was Recall with distractions. Joyce asked us all to actively play with our dogs. If our dogs would not play in public she suggested having them heel around our chair. Anything that involved movement was good to go. This is a big class, so a come with all these dogs playing truly was a feat. Fortunately for us Buster, Bug’s Lab nemesis, was not in class.

There is another young male dog that is part Shepherd and just lovely. His name is Tagget and he is 18 months old. Bug is always very interested in him – friendly interested, not Buster-I-am-more-macho-than-you interested. Tagget was VERY actively playing during Bug’s recall. Watching Bug come was like watching a cartoon. He came quickly, in a straight line to me, but his head was turned watching Tagget the entire time. I laughed myself silly! And boy am I proud Bug could resist Tagget tugging!

We ended the class by individually loose leash walking around the room in a zig-zagging pattern – NOT a plain ol’ circle with a limit on treats – only two allowed. I think of loose leash walking as one of our weak points, but Bug did GREAT! I had him do some 270s and he stayed right with me making super eye contact

One more class left. I have really gotten so much out of this class. It certainly helps that the other students are equally committed to training with their dogs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Subject Near and Dear to My Heart

If you do not do performance sports with your dogs, you would be AMAZED at the amount of dogs that compete in agility who are significantly overweight. It is mind boggling. These owners are asking for the dogs to be injured, IMO. I am sure that you have seen the overweight pet dogs who's owners somehow think food equals love and are very offended if you comment that Muffy needs to lose a pound or too.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is conducting their third national pet obesity study. If you would like to take part in a 10 question survey, click here.

"Overweight pets increase their risk of heart disease, osteoarthritis, several types of cancer and a host of other illnesses." Hmmm...sounds very similar to their human counterparts, no?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The BIG Field

Yesterday Bug and I had a herding lesson with Diane. We worked on small outruns, fetching, and some flanking. We also worked on Bug holding his stay.

Diane had me put Bug in a stay and walk up to the sheep - touch them - and return to Bug. Then she has me walk up to the sheep and around them and return to Bug. Unfortunately Bug found me touching and walking around the sheep VERY exciting and broke his stay FREQUENTLY. I got in trouble for relying on my line to stop him instead of blocking him with my rake. I think Diane had to yell at me a couple of times about that before it sunk it. Bug is funny because he knows stay and we now practice stays while dropping toys, etc - but toys do not equal sheep! He finally did a couple of nice stays and we moved on to fetching.

Our second time in the ring Diane had us move the flighty sheep into one pen and move the heavier sheep down from another pen into the control pen. We did this by me opening the gate and placing Bug in a stay right inside the gate. Then moving half-way between him and the sheep and sending him around on a small outrun. Then I stopped him before entering the next pen. It worked quite smoothly.

Next Diane had me place Bug in the far side of the control pen in a down and go over to open the gate and let the sheep into the big field. Bug was able to hold his stay until I jangled the gate trying to open it, then he would break his stay. So, we worked on this for quite some time before I was FINALLY able to get the gate open and let the sheep into the big field.

Then we did a small outrun in the BIG field and fetched the whole bit of it. Wow!! We also changed directions with me walking through the sheep and reversing Bug's direction. I don't think we have ever done that before. Bug was pretty excited before getting into the big field and I wasn't sure if he was going to be a nut with all that space but he worked so well. I am really proud of him.

Something off that was happening yesterday, was that I would put Bug in a down after fetching for a bit and return to him, give him a long stroke and then say "that'll do." Last week he was moving away with the "that'll do" very easily. This week he was trying to charge the sheep each time - as though either I had given him permission or he was just attempting to get in some more sheep time. It was odd. However, Diane said she has a good exercise that will break that habit in a snap.

All in all it was a great lesson. I have a trial next weekend so I plan on trying to get a lesson in this week.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Addicted to Agility Trial

Today Bug, Carmen, and I attended the Addicted to Agility NADAC Trial in Wrentham, MA. I have already filled you'all in on Carmie - here's the Bug update.

I entered Bug in Jumpers and Tunnelers. I was very nervous because we have not been in an agility class in a couple of months. We have been working on our relationship, foundations skills, and herding. Well, I think all of that has helped us a lot in agility.

We had a very nice Jumpers run. I feel like we started the run the right way. In NADAC you may not remove your slip lead until the judge says, "Good Luck." The judge said "Good Luck" and Bug was watching something other than me - perhaps the judge. There was a time when I would have removed his lead anyway and then wondered why we weren't that connected. Well, today patience and training won out. I waited until I had solid eye contact before releasing him. You wouldn't think this would be such a hard lesson to learn, but you'd be surprised at how dense I can be sometimes!

About 6 jumps into the course I almost lost him when he saw his very cute niece Bette being walked outside the ring BUT he came right back to me and worked. When I say I almost lost him, he didn't literally leave me, but it was as though a magnet was pulling him off-course and to Bette. The fact that he so quickly righted himself and tuned back into me was very impressive.

I ended up missing where I intended to do a front cross (between jumps 11 and 12) because the wee little corgi was moving faster than I expected. I should have done a rear cross, but I just didn't feel competent/confident, so....I ran it UGLY (i.e. the long way). I REALLY need to work on my confidence level when it comes to rear crosses - I will need them with Bug. Bug earned his first jumpers Q and a placement (3rd).

After the class, I stretched the boy and gave him lots of cookies for being so brilliant.

Later in the day Bug ran in Tunnelers. I think it is safe to say he had a blast. We stayed connected and had a very nice run. Q/2nd place. After this class we did some serious stretching and massage.

It is interesting, Bug has now been with me for one year and 5 months. It truly feels like he has always been with us. However, it is only in the past three months that I feel like we are developing a really nice working relationship. I am not sure what changed. I don't know if it is just the length of time, if it is the herding and herding seminars we did/are doing, the Beyond Basics class......what am I saying? I know the answer - it is a combination of ALL these things! Dogs are not like instant pudding, regardless of how badly we wish it were so sometimes. :-)