Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Boys ....

....ROCKED the a.m. walk.

During the latter half of our walk the new neighborhood beagle came out of his house. I saw him before my dogs saw him and was prepared with clicker and handful of treats to do the pez dispenser act. Beagle started BAYING, barking, and pulling on his leash. I gave my dogs 110% of my attention.

Both boys - BOTH BOYS - were AWESOME!!!!

Hallelujah! I am so proud of them (and me).

Sunday, March 29, 2009


What's that?

Oh! I know what that is!

Are we gettin' some? Soon?


The corgi tries to steal the spoon!

Act-Up Club Meeting and the Bug-a-boo

Yesterday evening was the Act-Up Club Annual Meeting. I brought Bug because I want to work on focus with him. Lately I feel like I am losing him at moments. I also knew our chiropractor would be there and wanted to have her muscle test him to ensure he is not allergic to InFlight.

Bug did very well. Granted the deck was stacked in his favor - it was a small meeting. But seriously, he hung out on leash and was crated for periods of time and he was very well behaved and attentive. He even made best buddies with a dachshund/beagle mix named Dasher.

Cheryl muscle tested Bug for the InFlight. He is not allergic. She was petting/massaging him when we both saw Bug tighten up. His psoas muscles were like ROCKS (they continue into the pelvis and without attention would most likely result in his pelvis ending up out of alignment). Uh-oh.

Based on that reaction I asked if Cheryl was willing to do a session on him. His pelvis was in place but portions of his lower back were out of alignment resulting in severe strain on his psoas muscles. I mentioned that we were learning to weave and practicing tops 3 minutes a day.

Cheryl said given his long back that could definitely be what is causing this. So Bug is on a strict massage and traumeel regimen. Cheryl also asked that I not practice weaves for the next two days, at the very least. I need to ask her if that is what she really wants or if we should hold off longer.

Ironically I just got around to opening the April issue of Clean Run and the Editorializing.... note is by Ann Croft and is about widening the spacing between poles from 20" to 24" due to the wear and tear on dog's bodies. The piece in the magazine is abridged, you can read the full article with pictures in the Magazine Forum of the Clean Run web site. Definitely food for thought.

Cheryl also checked Bug's head to see if it was in alignment; often times sound sensitivity is related to the head being out of alignment. I didn't know that, although it makes sense. Bug's head was out of alignment in a sit and down. So Cheryl adjusted both of those. It will be interesting to see if it helps his recent sound sensitivity. My DAP diffuser arrived on Friday, so that is plugged into the socket in the bed room where the boys spend the day.

This session with Cheryl also illustrates to me how important it is to give your drs, chiropractors, etc as MUCH information as possible. Sometimes I do feel like I have verbal diarrhea going on, but this is a perfect example of how little nuggets of information can lead you down a different path that might hold the answer.

Rally-O Class

Ike had an even better Rally-O class than last week!! Amazing. He was bright eyed, attentive, and moving quite briskly. I can only imagine the combination of factors that made him feel so good. I wonder if his stress was lower because he didn't have to listen to the men working on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday? Or perhaps because the class was tiny yesterday? Or maybe because we are using his homeopathic remedy at a different potency and in a different manner? As is often the case with Ike, who knows! And do I really care, as long as he feels better?

Yesterday's course:
  1. Start
  2. Halt/Call to Front/Finish Right
  3. 270 Left
  4. Halt/1 step/Halt/2 step/Halt/ 3 step/Halt (I love this sign - it is so perky and brisk!)
  5. Right turn
  6. Halt/Sit/Stand/Walk Around Dog
  7. About Right Turn
  8. Spiral Left
  9. Halt/Down/Sit
  10. Moving Side Step Right
  11. Finish

Ike's call to front are improving markedly. I am using a recommendation from Penni and having him get out pretty wide before coming in to Front. Outside the ring his fronts are just about perfect (seriously!). Inside the ring I am doing something different because they still crooked, but significantly better than what they were before. I haven't figured out what I am doing yet....

I need to practice Finish Right more as Ike doesn't have a solid cue on around yet and you use it in the Left About Turn, too.

Ike's Downs (with duration) are 100% improved from where they were.

On station 6 (Halt/Sit/Stand/Walk Around Dog), because we are just starting to work on Stand I put Ike in a sit and walked around him. He did a great job!

Later in the night at the Act-Up Club meeting I was talking to some people who do APDT Rally. One of them has a dog who is VERY easily stressed and he has excelled in APDT Rally. APDT Rally has 4 shows on a given day. I am thinking this might be a nice venue to try with Ike. Lower stress. If he does well in it we can always segue back into AKC Rally (or not), but it might be the perfect thing to help him get over his stress.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ike Practiced, too....

Not to worry, Ike is not being treated like a red headed step child. He also got to practice last night! We practiced moving downs, halts, and halt down with his new leash!

I took Jenny's advice and picked up a smaller leash for Ike. I weighed the two leashes and it is 1 ounce compared to the previoius leash which was 3 ounces.

It felt really good last night. We will see how it is at class today; if it makes a difference.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weave Poles Day #15

Bug did a super job today with all the cages off the right side. Tomorrow I will put the cages back on the right side and start removing them from the left side. Yay, Bug!

Yes, Carmie!

Today my boss sent me home at 2pm. It is a BEAUTIFUL day in New England. Before heading home I stopped at the in-law's and practiced weaves with Carmie.

First we did a series of jump/weave poles with cages just on the left side of the weave poles. Then a series with cages just on the right side. Then cages JUST in the middle, entries open. She was doing AWESOME, so I became bold and took off one of the middle cages.

So, one lonely cage. Guess what?

She did GREAT!!! I hope this is the progress I have been looking for. As it is I am getting so befuddled and desperate that I have e-mailed everyone I know about how they train weaves. I have one friend who has trained all their dogs with the WAM method and we have scheduled a date for me to go over to her house to play. Erin uses wire guides, I began to think perhaps that would be better as they are less to fade visually. I e-mailed poor Katrin AGAIN to discuss options.

I just do not remember Ike learning to weave being this difficult. I do not know if weaves are so hard for her because she was JUST a pet for the first 6 years of her life (and not as operant as my guys?), or because of her vision, or what. However, this small but significant break-through gives me a glimmer of hope.

I have a chiro appt for me and then it will be Bug's turn for Weave Poles Day #15. You can believe I will be practicing in the rain tomorrow and Sunday with both of them!

Weave Poles Class #4

Last night Bug and I had weave poles class. We have not practiced our weave poles in two days due to hectic scheduling. I think it showed! Granted last night’s class was particularly difficult for the dogs. The gates were off the entries. Gulp! At home we have all the gates off the right side and while Bug is fairly consistent he isn’t 100% accurate.

First run through took Bug quite some time to nail the first set of 12 weave poles. He kept missing the entry. Second run through he was SUPER! He tried to go around a couple of jumps, but in general he is getting much more confident and happy about jumping. Hallelujah.

I brought a soft-crate and crated away from the bench where everyone clusters. We worked on driving into the crate on cue and once he is in the crate relaxing, scooting back and getting the pudgy front paws in. We also did a wee bit of Stand and Fix it. The in between runs training went well.

Bug nailed his start-lines last night too; the first time in some time. I was a little flustered last night after what had happened last week with Baxter. Bug was a more distracted than I would have liked him to be. Katrin asked why I wasn’t working his start-line stay like I was at home and I was like, “but I released him” – totally missing her question. Oi! I guess Bug and I were BOTH distracted.

Toward the end of the class I could tell he was getting tired (he spent the day at the office with me again) as Neil (with Vizsla Tessa) had left the barn and then come back in and Bug thought he needed to alarm bark. Considering his long day, that is not too bad.

The learning process is stressful!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whirlwind Day

Yesterday Bug and I had a half-hour private with Erin and handling class. In an attempt to maximize both these lessons I brought Bug to work so he would not have a whole day listening to the men working at home and getting himself worked up. He was very good at work. And given there is a suite being worked on and more ambient noise than usual – very chill. Good Bug!

In the morning I sent Erin the following list of items I wanted to try and work on:

Work on keeping him focused and engaged on/with me given all the excitement at canine mastery.

Work with a series of a few jumps so that he starts being happy with jumps outside of the barn and more confident with jumps (he isn't very!) - do things like 2 jumps, reward, 2 jumps, reward.

I would like to work on his contacts in a new and stimulating environment.

Start-line stays - In class he constantly breaks his stay. At home he nails them - with distractions and life rewards. I think he might be stressing about jumping. At home I have started practicing with having him stay in front of a jump and then releasing him to chase a tug toy either behind him or to the side. Sometimes over the jump too. I have been keeping it varied.

We started with start-line stays and Erin recommended I bring a jump bar inside and practice stays from about 10 feet away. She suggested I move closer to the jump bar as Bug gets better about waiting. She recommended I move more briskly since when I am trialing the Bug I will want to be moving fast not creeping.

She also suggested I lose my “oops.” She said it is too happy and that she spied Bug’s tail wagging. So, definitely not a NRM for him! It is interesting because most of the time when Carmie breaks her start line stay I don’t say anything I just get her back in place. Once in a while I will make a very shocked noise, but that is about it.

Next we worked on the A-frame.

A few weeks ago I sent out a frenzy of e-mails to Katrin, Erin, Holly, and some other Corgi people. I do not feel Bug is comfortable stopping on the A-Frame and waiting and I wanted an alternative plan for his A-frame contact.

I have decided to go with a running A-frame, like I do with the Schnauzers. After talking with Erin, Katrin, and the corgi people I have been convinced that most Cardigans can safely do a running contact primarily due to the front end configuration. The weight and momentum tends to keep them from blasting off (although not all corgis know they cannot fly, Mister Monty!).

We practiced last night and Bug was not leaving the A-frame until about 6”-8” from the bottom. And he was QUITE happy about it. Cool!

We worked on Go’s with jumps. Erin recommended I bust out the target plates and use them to motivate the Bug. Bug definitely understands the concept of the target plate, so this is a good, basic idea for him.

He was also much better about keeping the focus on me and we did some tugging to reward too. All in all it was a successful lesson.

Then it was off to handling class.

Bug and I have been working on him fixing his front feet and he has gotten MUCH better about it. But guess what? I haven’t put it on cue yet! Kerry reminded me yesterday I had better do that.

Pointers from yesterday:

Feed from the RIGHT hand NOT the hand closest to your dog. D’oh!! How hard is that for an agility person? You spend all this time training yourself to feed from the hand CLOSEST to your dog!

If I am reaching over Bug to adjust his left front or hind leg be careful not to make actual contact with my chest to his back as it will muss up his topline.

I felt like we had a good class. Bug’s “Stand” and “Fix it” are coming along.

Then we went home and CRASHED! Today Bug is in the office again as tonight we have Weave Pole Class # 5.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tues. Nite Class - Jump Boxes

Last night Katrin set up some jump box exercises focusing primarily on front crosses. The first exercise also had you layer a series of jumps.

For those who are casual agility players, layering a series of obstacles means:

Layering – A distance-handling maneuver, which is particularly useful when a group of obstacles is clustered tightly together. The handler directs the dog to execute one obstacle while another obstacle is between him and the dog (the handler is staying on the outer “layer”). In this close-quarters situation, pushing in toward the correct obstacle could actually cause the dog to push away from that obstacle to an incorrect obstacle.

Guess what? Carmie NAILED it. Not a huge amount of distance, but none-the-less, I am SO proud of her. The blue/black line is the handler. I really want to put some distance on her. We have been working at it – I am just surprised it is actually happening!

The second exercise the dog spliced the first three jumps and ended with TIGHT. While we have taken Katrin’s 5 directions class and have the foundation of our five directions; we really haven’t worked on it too hard. Directionals appear to be a second summer project (weave poles still take precedence ATM). Katrin reiterated given carmie’s eye sight I should make directionals a priority as it will ensure she gets to play longer.

Very fun class!

Weave Poles day # 15 .... Mission Aborted

Yesterday Carmen had agility class and I brought Bug and Ike over to my in-law’s house to spend the evening with them. I attempted to practice Bug’s weave poles in the back yard prior to leaving for class with Carmie.

After one run through I canned that idea. My in-law’s have a very large backyard that backs up to a creek. On the opposite side of the creek is a field where kids play softball, soccer, etc. Well, the kids were out in force and Bug couldn’t keep his eyes off them! He was so distracted by the children (at least 200’ away) that I was afraid I was going to lose him. I already know he likes swimming in the creek , so I had visions of him taking off and crossing the creek to get to the kids!

I got him refocused on me and in we went!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bug is Being Barky

So, it is official....Bug is being barky.....displaying elevated signs of noise sensitivity. This is new. I think it is definitely the men working on the house. CRAP-TASTIC!

I have been keeping the boys in the bedroom during the day while I am at work since last Thursday's debacle. Perhaps I should re-frame the incident and just call it an eye-opener and reminder to be mindful. Fortunately the work is on the opposite side of the house, so with the boys in the bedroom and the door closed - less triggers.

I think I am picking up a DAP diffuser. I am not sure how long this work is going on, but I see a difference in my boy. The only other change is I added InFlight to his supplements. I am going to have Cheryl (his chiro) muscle test him to see if he is allergic to it (it contains pork cartilage) and if that could be causing an increase in his reactivity.

Sleuthing to be done....

Ordered a DAP Diffuser.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weave Poles Day #14

Bug did very well today, except for when I was on the side with the cages and we were heading toward the door/sun. Every other position he nailed.

We worked on the trouble side and it seemed to click for him. Today one cheese stick was the limit. This is Day 3 with all cages off the right side and I think, depending on tomorrow, I will probably spend at least one extra day on it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weave Poles Day #13

Today I took the Bug to my in-law's house to practice his weaves. This is day 2 with no cages on the right side.

My in-law's live on the main drag in Canton and their back yard is not fenced. At times working in their backyard can put your heart in your throat - there is a lot of car and foot traffic. This is the first time I have attempted to work with Bug in their backyard. He did very well. He missed many more weaves than he does in my mudroom. Hmmm....wonder why!? :-)

In general once he realized he could be out there and focus on me he did really well.

We also practiced stays in front of a jump - then tossing the toy behind him or to the side. He did really well with his stays. We'll see if it transfers to class.

I also practiced with Carmen and she did very well with cages only on the left. I remain torn as to what is the best course of action with her.....

New Treats and a Wash

Friday I stopped in at a shop in Foxboro, MA called Pawsmopolitan. They have a wide assortment of treats available I have not seen carried locally at reasonable prices. Of course I needed to pick up a variety to try with the boys! I was also able to get replacement squirrels for Bug's Hide-a-Squirrel. That is a serious score as it means no shipping charges!

So far, we have yet to try the Fruitables, but the boys say the Sammy Snacks (which I taste-tested at the shop as they are made to SHARE with your pooch), Grandma Lucy's Pumpkin bears, and the Animal Food Freeze Dried Chicken bits are great!

Today Bug visited the Dirt Dawg Wash.

Wet and slightly Mortified Bug at DDW

I picked up some sample sizes of the Chris Christensen Thick and Thicker and After Bath. I wanted to try these products PRIOR to his bath for the April shows. One of the After Bath claims is it cuts your drying time....and I think it really does! Woo-hoo. And I feel like I am mastering the bum hair!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stellar Ike

Perhaps he was not perfect, but Ike and I had a super Rally-O class today. He was happy and engaged.


1. Start
2. 360 Right
3. Halt/Down/Walk Around
4. Halt/Right Turn/ Call to Heel/ Halt
5. Off-Set Figure 8
6. Right About Turn
7. Left Turn
8. Weave Twice
9. Halt/Stand/Down
10. 270 Right
11. Left Turn
12. Send Over Jump
13. Finish

Ike nailed his Halt/Down/Walk Around the second time. He almost had it the first time too. When I got back into heel position he popped up. I eh-eh'd and back down he went. We are getting there! Thank you, Katrin and your cookie dropping recommendation!

I was very pleased with Ike's Halt/Right Turn/ Call to Heel/ Halt - I think maybe we have seen this once before and he was not phased by it at all today.

Had some difficulty with the off set Figure 8 with distractions. The distractions were clear plastic lids, which we play touch with. OOPS!!

Ike does not have a Stand on cue. For Halt/Stand/Down we did Halt/Down. Ike was great about his down and not popping up.

Jenny spoke at length to us before we walked the course about getting our dog's "ready" to work in the ring at a trial. It was more or less a reminder to be observant and mindful - note how your dog reacts when you change a piece of the routine, etc. Should you change a piece of the routine to make your dog more desperate to play with you?

She also spoke to me about Ike and said while I had displayed a super amount of patience in the ring with Ike it might be to my benefit long-term to be willing to have an NQ from the second we walk in the ring. If Ike is slow to respond, walk him in a circle and try again. Repeat if he is slow to respond. Kind of cleaning the slate and starting over - like a re-try, but do not limit myself to the two allotted. I think I will have to be willing to NQ if I want to do this because Ike at a trial is a different beast than class. Granted if he hates outdoor trials too, I am not pushing this.

Also talked about NRM and using one with Ike - agreed with Katrin. Ike has gotten MUCH better about being wrong, so I think used wisely this will be hugely beneficial to us.

When Ike and I entered the ring I walked him over to the start which was on the opposite side of the ring. Jenny had me walk out and walk back in - she stressed, especially with Ike, I need to be connected with him every step of the way - and happy. She's right.

During our run through she commented a couple of times when I was getting close to a tight leash and commented on how I held my leash with two hands at the trial. This is because when we practice, either at home or with Katrin we are NEVER on leash. Jenny said, "oh so you need leash handling skills." Basically. When Ike is on a leash I do not know what to do with the leash!

She thought that might be why Ike lagged at times and recommend I get a show lead with a very small clip. While my leather leash is not overly thick it does have a honkin' big clasp on it.

So, a very educational class! And Ike was a little super star for me. He really was SO good and having such a great time.

Weave Poles Day # 12

No cages on the right side. Bug did SUPER!! (I started taking cages off the right side first versus the left side.) Two or three pop-outs, but a THINKING corgi.

Am re-reading the portion of Shaping Success about training 2 x 2s and the Excellence in Weave Pole Training workbook. Am leaning ever closer to just training Carmie with this method and working it concurrently with Bug while he does the cage method.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Weave Poles Class #3

First the bad, while I was chopping up some cheese and Bug was tethered (4 ft leash) to the wall literally beneath my feet – he lunged at Baxter Black. CRAP. I am not clear if he made contact or not. I didn’t think so, but I think Katrin said Sandy did think so. CRAP. Sandy left class. CRAP.

My brain left with her. Bug was the first dog to run and I was completely discombobulated. Yuck. I know, I know….these things do happen.

The only upside, I did not yell “HEY.” That used to be my old default when any sort of altercation occurred. I think I thought it helped to interrupt the behavior, but most of the time I think it just adds to the din. All I did was silently grab Bug.

Course contained three sets of six weaves. All the weave poles had one cage off at an entry.

His wait at the start line was piss-poor every run. Bug was convinced there was something delectable in the dirt. Maybe he is lacking B12. Hah.

Bug was MUCH more willing to jump. First set of weave poles - he was missing the entry. I was causing that – of course. Due to my distress about the incident that had literally just occurred I wasn’t in good trainer mode. I asked Katrin if I could lure him with cheese. She said NO – fortunately. Bug figured it out.

His run after the first set of weaves was great. I am so pleased he is a bit happier about jumping. I made sure to click and treat frequently. I meant to bring some smoked kippers and sneak in a VERY high value reward at least once a run for jumping. Next time….

After his run Katrin asked if anything had changed at home as he was a bit barky when Neil (with Viszla Tessa) entered the barn before class and at a horse before class. Initially I said no, other than adding the InFlight supplement (for coat). Then I realized my landlord is having an addition built and the guys are very loud. They are building a small room off our floor, too. Katrin wondered if he might be getting himself all wound up during the day. Hmmm….

I closed the door to the bedroom today and left the boys with plenty of water and toys. I suspect they spend most of the day on the bed anyway, so no biggie. Next Thursday I might bring Bug to work, and Ike to the in-laws. We’ll see if this has any effect on him.

Second run you could really see Buggie thinking. He is luvin’ his weaves. HOORAY!!!

I do not understand the start-line stay business. We practices waits in more novel locations than I can count with really high value life rewards. And he rocks them – he has super control. Why do they suck on the start-line? Katrin thinks it might be stress related to jumping. Frequently the first obstacle is a jump. Hmm

I decided I will practice waits at home with a jump. I will put Bug in a Wait and then move out and return to heel position or throw the treat behind him so that he is reinforced for waiting in front of an obstacle – nothing more – nothing less. See if that helps.

Given the incident with Baxter and how fried it left me emotionally, I feel like it was a surprisingly good class. I sure wish that hadn’t happened though. Since Katrin and I are the first people there I will make sure I tether on the opposite side of the barn with Bug. There is a bench and people tend to cluster around it, which (as we see) can lead to problems.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Handling Class

Yesterday I took Bug to handling class at Masterpeace. Kerry had some helpful pointers/instructions for me.

She asked me to keep his head up while he is on the table. She said that when he is looking down, a judge who isn’t good at judging shoulders might feel him quickly and not like the way his shoulders feel – even though he has nice shoulders. She had me feel the difference between when his head was looking up straight ahead versus if he was looking down. Wow.

I asked if it was okay to feed him while he was on the table or have food out. She said it depends on the judge; she has had judges smack her hand away while others do not care.

Note, I did a MUCH better job setting him up on the table!

When gaiting she recommends I have the lead under Bug’s chin and keep my arm DOWN. She said if his ears are not forward and I have the lead up high it is going to knock his ear. Also she feels like his shoulder and top line look nicer when the lead is below the chin and my arm is down. She said when I am holding it up; it alters/drags his lines.

She thought Bug looked really good with the extra weight and that he *felt* good. She asked if I feed him raw and commented that she feels feeding raw puts the weight on differently, in a good way.

It was a fairly big class with a herd of Boxers, so Bug and I worked A LOT on shaping a Stand and Waiting in a Stand. Bug did very well with that. Hooray.

Toward the end of the class she moved the table and some crates around to get the baby dogs used to seeing that sort of movement in the ring. She had everyone feed their dogs the entire time. Bug thought she turned into some sort of monster and did some alert barking. Odd boy!

I also asked her my clothes questions. She said she has only ever worn pants in the ring once, but that is how she personally was trained. She said with Bug she would wear light colors as he has a nice top line and the only thing we would want to hide (the slight turn-out) is white.

I got a lot out of the class and feel like Bug and I have come a tremendous distance since the first drop-in class I attended there last summer. Totally different handler!

Weave Poles Day #10

Bug continues to do well. I was a bit speedier yesterday and it definitely distracted him coming out of the weaves without the gate. He blew by the last pole twice.

Other than that he continues to make great progress and enjoy weaving. We have class tonight and it will be interesting to see how he does.

Tues. Nite Class

Course contained two 180s, 12 weaves, and the teeter.

*I* learned a lot.

Katrin asked if the two 180s were a serpentine or 180s. I said, “Not sure, I’ll say serpentine.” She said, “Nope. Look at how your dog is entering the series of obstacles and exiting (in terms of the obstacle they are coming from and next obstacle to take). If your dog was splicing those jumps coming off the final jump they would take an off course onto the A-frame.” Our A-frame is stored in the corner of the barn when not in use.

Oh! This qualifies as a light bulb moment for me. Katrin has probably said this before; about the obstacle the dog is coming off and will go into determining if the series of jumps should be handled as a serpentine or 180. My brain mustn’t have been capable of understanding it and retaining it then. So, that was great – I now firmly have in my head how to tell the difference between serpentines and 180s. Woo-hoo.

I did a rear cross between tunnels 1 and 2 – just to practice as it is not somewhere I would EVER have put a RC in before and I felt like I could do it in a fairly low-stress manner.

I did a FC after the weaves (between 3 and 4) and after the first jump in the 180 (landing side 8).

I did a classic, walk the course one way and then run it differently when I got to the teeter. First run I am not clear what I was trying to do. Katrin asked why I didn’t have Carmen wait on the teeter and lead out to get my FC in, the way I had walked it? Hmm….I don’t know….Why don’t I do that.

I have never had Carmie wait on the teeter while I lead out, but she does have a solid wait. So I did that and it worked well. The amount of time I had her wait would never hurt us in the venue we compete in which has the teeter (CPE – NADAC does not) – of course getting her to wait in a trial in mid-course versus class? I have no idea how that would go.

A very educational class; I feel like I am learning a lot of handling nuggets lately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weave Poles Day # 9

Oh, Bug, how I love thee. He has such a different brain than Ms. Carmen. Not that I do not love Carmie – her brain just challenges me in different ways.

Switched the gates – yesterday was the first day with the gate off on the other entrance. The Bug did a super job.

Now Ms Carmen …. I also practiced with her before last night's class. It was frustrating. I really do not feel like she “gets it” (at all). Once the cages are removed the picture is TOTALLY different for her and she starts stressing. Yesterday we were working with just one gate and she was repeatedly missing entries, etc. And stress sniffing! Not something she usually does. :-/

I think I have two choices. See if I can get someone to lend me their 2x2 DVD (since I nervous about purchasing both a set of 2x2 weaves and the DVD at the same time given the economy), OR start from scratch with the cages method again.

I *think* I am going to start from scratch again (since that just costs time not $$) and be as meticulous about her weaves as I am being with Bug. Carmie learning the weave poles has been a very frustrating (and long) process; as a result I am being meticulous with Bug. I think there is the possibility Carmen would benefit from the level of meticulous planning I am displaying with Bug.

This training issue reiterates to me how incredibly different each dog is and the way in which they learn.

If after starting from scratch with Carmen’s weaves we still do not see success, I am going the 2x2 route. I do have a set of stick in the ground poles, so I can work entries with just two poles. Katrin and I also discussed how Carmen might be a good candidate for Weav-A-Matics. Of course, I have never used Weav-A-Matics, so that would also mean a new set of poles and training dvd. At least with the 2x2 method I have attended a seminar where it was reviewed and I have a decent idea of where/how to train it.

I am in the process of creating a cheat sheet for Katrin’s weave class to track our progress, which I think will be helpful for both.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obedience Semi-Private

Tonight Ike and I had a semi-private with Katrin. It went REALLY well. I am VERY pleased.

The main thing I wanted to work on with Ike are his down-stays and sit-stays.

I mentioned how manic he gets at home, offering behaviors. Katrin suggested I need to work on his duration and make him understand that STAYING in the down or sit is exactly what I want - nothing more.

Katrin suggested dropping cookies on his head. At first I bent down to hand him the cookie and of course he popped up. She re-iterated - "No, I meant drop cookies on his head!" This was quite successful, except when I dropped poorly and Ike went scurrying after the cookie!

Ike was offering super quick downs. Then he started offering them willy-nilly, so I mixed it up with some halts and Halt/Walk Around Dog. He did super. I hesitated to do Down/Walk Around Dog tonight. I didn't want to blow his brain and things were going well. I am pleased with how well he did in a new-ish location with a happy FCR in the room.

Katrin and I had discussed whether or not I should use a NRM with him or not when he pops up from a down. To date I have been saying "oops," and essentially starting over/trying again. She suggested trying a NRM. I expressed some concern that Ike might 1.) freak out and shut-down; 2.) think it is part of the behavior chain. Katrin doesn't feel that will be an issue with Ike given the way his brain works.

Katrin had me put Ike in a Down-Stay, walk away and toss a treat at him. The first time I walked back toward him to toss his treat, he sat up. I said "eh-eh" and WAITED. I did not repeat the cue, I was a very good handler and waited. Ike returned to a down. Good boy, Ike!!!

All in all, an excellent lesson and I feel like I have some specific things to practice that will be very helpful. We plan on meeting again next Monday.

Weave Poles Day #8

S-U-P-E-R Bug!!

Today is day 4 of this set-up:

Tomorrow I will put the cage that is currently off on and take the other (on the same side) off.

Bug is happy, nailing his entry, and getting speedy with me in many different locations. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rally Trial Debut - NQ

The good – I displayed an intense amount of patience and Ike tried to overcome his stress and work with me. The bad – Ike was all googly eyed and very stressed out. :-(

That really sums it up, to be honest. Lots of TL (tight leash), SR (Slow Response), OOP (Out of Position), 2 RTs (Re-Try), etc.

The tight leash is comical since Ike naturally walks loose-leash. However when you are stressed and staring at creepy things, sometimes the paws forget to move and the handler tries to keep moving. Oi!

In the Halt, Down, Ike sat for about 40 seconds before going into a down – he also licked himself prior to doing the down. Stress much?

In the Forward from a Sit, we had just completed the 270 in the corner where a creepy (Ike's adjective) tall man wearing a hat with a video camera (definite Ike triggers – gah) was right at the gating, and Ike took his SWEET time sitting. Another SR. He did sit though. And the next station Fast Pace was his only clean station! Kind of ironic that Ike nailed Fast Pace!

Call Front Finish Left Forward – Ike actually had a VERY decent front given how terrible we are at them. It was very straight. When I asked him to finish left he was busy staring at someone outside the ring. I had already used my two re-tries, so we failed that station. I will have to ask Jenny – at that point maybe I should have just fixed his finish-forward?

So, it was kind of a disaster.

I think we will continue class and try one more trial. See how it goes. I think I will look for an outdoor trial. Ike typically did much better at agility trials that were outdoors. If Ike is still a stress-ball at an outdoor Rally trial we're shelving the whole "trialing" thing!

Weave Poles Day # 7

Woo-hoo! As suspected/prayed for/hoped Buggie had a break-thru regarding the ungated entrance this morning. And in general he is starting to think weaves are great fun. Yes!

Went over to the in-law's house and worked Carmie outside. Here is where she is:

The green cage is in the process of being faded. Right now if I move it any further away she goes between the poles and the cage. I am going to leave it here for a few days and work it. Then move a bit further away. She is starting to pick up speed and bounce. Hooray. D-Day is May 9th.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weave Poles Day #6

Bug continues to have difficulty with the entrance with the cages off if I am on the opposite side. Doing REALLY well in every other position.

He is becoming MUCH happier about the weaves and offering more behaviors aound them. Pretty sure we will have a break through shortly.

Rally-O Class

Ike and I had Rally class this morning. In general I feel like it went well. We did not have Halt/Down/Walk Around Dog. On the one hand – hooray! On the other hand – This means no practice in class and I am so afraid I’ll see it tomorrow and we will fail miserably. And if we fail? That IS allowed!

Today’s course contained Halt/Walk Around Dog. Ike actually did fairly well on this once I remembered that at home I typically give him a fair amount of space. In class today I was kind of on top of him and he kept breaking once I got to about 2pm on him. Once I realized I was crowding him he did SUPER. Jenny suggested I take two steps forward to ensure enough space, but make sure my toes were angled in the direction I was going.

We saw Down/Stop. Ike tends to pop up quickly and Jenny suggested that rather than waiting for a count of “good dog” while he is in a down – if he appears to be popping up – go. She said it will depend on the judge how they handle this, i.e. how many points they will take off. She feels I am better off handling it in the manner than a re-do (you are allowed a maximum of two re-tries – I believe).

Today’s class also had the sign Halt/ 1, 2, 3 Steps Forward. Ike was SUPER with this sign. I couldn’t be happier with today’s performance of it.

We had a really nasty Call Front/Finish Left Forward. Ike’s Fronts are just horrific. I am going this week to Home Depot to get the plywood to make a front box. We work and work on them and they are just SO damn ugly – and he is in alignment, so I can’t blame it all on that.

The Spiral Right was also on today’s course and I finally do not feel confused by it (I think)! Ike did well with it.

Ike was a bit distracted and lagging in general. Jenny suggested rather than clicking at him with my mouth I should walk quickly with small steps – almost a scurry. I did this the second run-thru and I do feel like it helped his lagging.

The big thing I need to remember tomorrow is to TAKE MY TIME.

There is absolutely NO NEED to rush. In Rally-O course times are ONLY used for placement in the case of a tie. Course times do not disqualify a dog. Ike and I can take our sweet time being as perfect as Ike would like.


Today I was stressing about tomorrow and was rushing. It affects Ike SO much. He hates stress. He creates enough of his own I do not need to create it for him.

Ike has come so far. We have made huge progress. This trial is a test to see whether or not Ike and I CAN trial in Rally or if it stresses the boy out too much. Nothing more.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Weave Poles Day # 5

Bug was super with all the cages on. Much more relaxed about working in the mudroom. After a few very successful and happy reps with all the cages on I took one cage off.

Bug was excellent entering on the side that lacked the cage regardless of my location.

If I was on that side without the cage when he was exiting (having started on the end with the cages), he was fine. If I was on the opposite side without the cage when he was exiting (having started on the end with the cages), he had great difficulty completing the poles correctly. I'll have to see how it goes tomorrow.

Not too bad.

Ike also had a training session, working on the dreaded down-stays. We had a couple of SUPER reps and I wish I stopped then. I don't think I am working him enough - he acts crazed lately every time I do!

Weave Poles, Class # 2

Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind between Saturday’s intensity (Rally-O and TACT seminar), class Sunday, and my FIL coming home from the hospital (he’s doing well, thank you everyone!).

As a result Bug practiced three days prior to class – we are just about ready to take a cage off the left side. I was/am considering waiting as he is being odd about my practice location (my mudroom which I think was a porch at one time and is LONG and can fit weaves easily). Now that the weather is changing and the ground is drying out I will try and switch between the mudroom and outside.

3/9/09 Poles #1 – All cages on
1st training session in mudroom. Bug was an Eeyore; VERY nervous about poles with cages in my mudroom. What?! Rewarded with treats and intermittent tugging.

3/10/09 Poles #2 – All cages on
2nd training session in mudroom. Bug was less of an Eeyore but still not 100% about the poles like he is in the barn. Very odd. Used unusual treat (provolone cheese) to reward with, and intermittent tugging after particularly whole-hearted weaving. One piece of cheese limit = 6 – 8 reps.

3/11/09 Poles #3 – All cages on
3rd training session in mudroom. Still being an odd duck, but less stressed that day 1 or 2

Class # 2 – or Day 4
Class started with cages on all the weaves. Bug was much happier this week - wanting to break his start-line, willingly jumping, and in general being a happy corgi. No hesitation about entering cages. <>

Second run-thru all cages were removed on the left side. Bug did really well.

The key points I took away from last night’s class have more to do with my handling.

I need to bend my knees more and not bend OVER Bug.

I need to reward every two jumps. I am SUPER good about rewarding after the weave poles. I want to build desire for this obstacle.

I am an ASS about rewarding after jumps. Even though my corgi has NEVER liked jumps - I FORGET TO REWARD HIM for doing them!! Gah!!

So, Katrin reminded me to reward him every two jumps and reward during/after every cross. You will see jumps in just about EVERY course - I better help him build a solid love of them!

In general it was a good class. He was much less distracted this week, than he was last week. His stays were NOT as good as last week, though. Learning curve? Corgi snottiness? Who knows.

His jumping was much better last night (at least the 1st run), although he did attempt to cut behind me at least twice. I need to catch him BEFORE he commits to doing that.

He seems to be developing a grasp of the weaving concept. I hope speed will come next. If not I can always do what I did with Ike. Once Ike had the weave poles down we worked them with channels and picked up a lot of speed.

Pan on Practicing Day #5 tonight after dinner. One cage off the left side.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Spy Progress....Tues. Nite Agility

Last Night Carmie and I had a good class. I would venture to say the best one in a while. I did not attempt one front cross! I did not do a front cross between 4 and 5 or between 11 and 12. (I expect to regress next week.)

I did a rear cross going into the weaves! The first time I blew it by not stopping my motion enough and allowing Carmie to get ahead of me. After that we were successful. Very interesting.

I find I have more success in class if I think throughout the day about what I want to accomplish. I kid you not. Yesterday, all day, I kept thinking, “Let her get ahead of you. Make her move. Go Slow.” And I was much more successful!

I didn’t worry about the serpentine at all. I reserved all my anxiety (needlessly) for the rear cross into the poles.

The first run-thru the first set of poles had all the cages on. The second set had cages only on the left side. During the second run-thru the first set had cages on the left side (and the second set was the same as the first run-thru) and as we ended the course the dogs could really build up some speed. I was SO pleased that Carmie nailed the entrance.

In other news, I must have been reading Katrin’s mind because I was thinking this week I really need to teach Carmie “down” on cue. How sad is this? She is a good little worker and I have never spent the time to teach her to “down.” I planned on reinforcing Carmie’s sits and working on down between runs. Then I saw the table in yesterday’s course and Katrin’s request for a down on it. Hah! Serendipity, I guess.

All in all a good class. I do wish I had brought my camera last night. I do not think I have ever seen the barn so muddy. And there are lots of dogs with pantaloons in class (3 Aussies and one AA)! What a mess. Carmie looked like she was wearing brown boots by the end. Needless to say she got a bath when we got home. She was NOT a happy camper. Lucky for her I didn’t decide to torture her and make her sit for 10 minutes with White on White on her furnishings. Wouldn’t that have been cruel!?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Liz provided a link to the photos from the Bo-Gee Trial. Thanks, Liz - I would have missed them. As I mentioned in my post, the lighting was poor.

I have created an album to share - you can view the album at the following address.

The password for the album is: ikeyprocks

Select "slideshow" from the second, lower menu (on the left).

The first shot, labeled "terrible form," illustrates just how bad the lighting is. Carmie is jumping 8" - no WAY she'd take off this early (and ugly) unless she was just blindly trusting me. And she didn't knock a bar - all day. Sniff.

Next is her perch in Wildcard...."Whoa....they're running another agility ring over there, and basketball, and soccer. How do I get down?"

And to end on an uplifting note is a cute shot of her.

Have I mentioned what a great girl she is? She works her heart out for me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Touch Click Calm Workshop

Saturday afternoon Bug and I attended a Massage seminar at Masterpeace. It was taught by Julie Robitaille, CAMT.

I signed up for this seminar because I want to be as proactive with Bug’s structure as is possible. For example, when Bug’s sacrum is out and then adjusted he displays noticeable sensitivity in his back; it is tender. I want to know how to be able to help him recover quickly. When we saw Debbie Gross Saunders, she commented on his right side (the side with mild HD) being tighter. I am more than happy to spend the money on a professional occasionally, but I want the basic skills to be able to maintain and help my boy myself, too.

Julie is a graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in Worcester. She did her internship at Sterling Animal Impressions Rehab in Walpole, MA. Her specialty is Swedish Therapeutic Massage. The first portion of the seminar our dogs were crated and Julie’s goals were:

- Learn what massage is;
- Massage history;
- Why it benefits dogs;
- Common positions;
- Body language;
- Body mechanics.

What I expected when I signed up for this seminar was a primer on massage. I did get that in a very digestible manner. What I did not expect is, in a way, what the seminar was really about – helping reactive dogs. Huh? I knew Emma Parsons co-teaching the seminar and I wondered why.

Julie and Emma are co-writing a book that is due out in the spring of 2010. It is about a new modality Julie unintentionally (at least in the beginning) created which she is calling TACT: Touch Associated Clicker Training. The concept is that relaxation is a behavior and we need to find a way to capture that feeling/moment and put it on cue.

Having a reactive dog, who has been stuck on the “I saw a creepy person, didn’t react, please pay me” plateau for a few years – this is a really interesting concept. Julie has a reactive dog herself and large portions of her clientele are reactive dogs. What she saw as she worked on these dogs (these dogs that their humans didn’t think were capable tolerating touch from a stranger) is that the massage helped relax them in their everyday life.

Julie assists Emma with her reactive dog class and they talked not only about the need to write a book about this but taking it to the next level – giving the dogs the key to being able to tap into this relaxed feeling on cue.

More on all this later, for now – more massage info.

Massage is the manipulation of soft tissue to create a therapeutic response in the body.

Massage was developed in Europe and brought to the U.S. in the 60’s. In Europe it is commonplace for massage to be utilized in hospital settings.

After extreme, vigorous exercise, 5 minutes of massage will give you the same response as 1 hour of relaxation. (Research supported.)

Tense muscles (either knots in shorter muscles or ropes in longer muscles) are much more likely to be hurt. Unlike humans, dogs lack the ability to self massage. Julie believes that hot spots are likely an attempt to self-massage.

Benefits of Massage Therapy (these are scientifically proven not MT-proven):

- Strengthens the immune system.
- Decrease muscles soreness and stiffness.
- Relieves and reduces pain.
- Maintains tone and flexibility.
- Decrease blood pressure and heart rate.
- Increases comfort level of older dog.
- Builds trust and aids bonding.
- Enhances athletic performance.
- Increases circulation and blood flow.
- Stimulate and soothes the nervous system.
- Hastens muscle recovery.
- Reduces stress & anxiety.
- Assists in excreting toxins from the body – stimulates the lymphatic system (be sure to give your dog extra H2O to aid is excreting toxins after massage)
- Stimulates digestion.
- Increase range of motion and lengthening of muscles.
- Promotes all over well being.
- Drug free – only natural drugs produced by the brain!

Behavioral Benefits
- Physically relax body – changing dog’s perception on touch

When you should NOT massages dogs (Medical Association Guidelines)

- Cancer: Disease of lymphatic system – massage increases lymphatic circulation. “When in doubt, leave it out.”
- Acute Disc Disease: Primarily re bulging discs. With a bulging disc, muscles have tightened around the bulging disc to support it. A massage loosens the muscles holding the bulging disc in place causing a blown disc.
- Broken skin, trauma.

In addition Julie stressed a couple of key points:

This should be a POSITIVE experience for your dog. GO SLOWLY. No restraining. Watch YOUR body language and the DOG’s body language.

Body Mechanics – when giving a massage move your knees, your “breakpoints” and body in fluid motion. “Roll with it” versus only using your arms. Julie said you’ll end up broken in about 10 minutes if you only use your arms to give a massage.

Watch for “bad” body language: excessive head turning, yawning, licking lips, freezing. If spotted – SLOW DOWN.

Julie said that dandruff during a massage is the one instance in which a typical stress sign is not necessarily stress. During massage dandruff is frequently a result of increased circulation, pressure, and exfoliation.

Balance – you do not want a lopsided dog! If you massage one side – do the other.

On to the dog portion!

The first thing we worked on was creating our Comfort Conditioned Relaxation Mat. Julie recommends using the same mat for massage – each dog if you are in a multi-dog house – gets their own mat. The mat ONLY comes out when you are doing massage. Eventually if you bring this mat to a more exciting location you’ll should be able to give your dog a brief massage and quickly evoke a relaxed feeling.

I have not taught Bug “Go to Mat.” I shaped it, much like we teach it at Maplewood. In less than 5 minutes Bug was offering a down on the mat consistently enough I could up my ante when he left his front paws hanging off. Sometimes he is just brilliant. Of course, as John pointed out, he does REALLY likes mats, blankets, dirty clothes….anything suitable for lying on.

The first thing we worked on is putting lying on side on cue (lateral left, lateral right). This is VERY helpful for vet office visits, which are already a stressful experience for many dogs.

Ask your dog for a down. Use a treat, moving it along the foreleg until you reach the elbow, and then slowly move up the shoulder. You teach this the same way you teach roll over except you click and treat when your dog is lying on his side. Bug was super about lying on his right side, but not so good about rolling on his left side. Perhaps compensating for the weaker right side? We will work on this.

The next thing we worked on was a quick stretch. Have your dog “down.” Use a treat to lure your dog’s head back to his rib cage. Do this on both sides. Bug’s hind end was rolling a bit and appeared to be doing most of the work. I asked Julie about it and she said he is probably not capable of stretching that far yet and to work up to it.

On to the Massage!

The first stroke Julie taught us is called Finger Petrissage. You use the pads of your finger tips (four fingers for large areas and large dogs, two fingers for smaller areas and small dogs). Place the pads of you fingers on your dog; apply a gentle amount of compression (pounds per inch dogs like less compression than humans – keep that in mind). While holding your compression you roll your finger pads in a circular motion. You gently release. Julie suggests keeping your fingers lightly upon the dog as you move to the next position. Finger Petrissage is used most commonly on the muscles of the skull, jaw, sides of neck, shoulders, around hips and thighs.

I found it a bit difficult to capture the rolling motion – I assume it comes with practice. I also caught myself applying too much pressure.

The next stroke we learned was Effleurage. This is a gliding stroke following the flow/direction of the fur. Using the whole palm for larger areas or fingers/thumb pads for small areas on small dogs, apply a gentle amount of compression (pressing down into the muscle tissue). While holding the compression gliding your palm or thumb pad along the body area then gently releasing your compression at the end. This stroke can be short and overlapping or long covering the whole length of the body. Julie recommended this stroke for muscles on the SIDES of the spine, rib muscles, ears from base to tip, down thigh muscles and pectoral muscles.

Web of the Hand Petrissage is a massage technique I use frequently without realizing it. Using the web between your index finger and your thumb, apply a gentle amount of compression gently grasping the tissue. While holding your compression Apply a lifting motion then release. This motion can be repeated for six set. It should be rhythmic and flowing. Use on the back of the neck, in front and behind the elbow and hind legs.

Palm Petrissage is the same premise as finger petrissage but you do the compression and roll with your palm instead of individual fingers.

Final stroke we learned was Vibration. Using your finger pads in a claw like position. Use all five fingers for larger body areas. Two fingers for smaller areas.

Apply a very light amount of compression, while holding your compression gently vibrate/shake your hand while continuing to hold the compression – us the compression and vibration while gliding your hand down the body area.
You can use this stroke everywhere except bony prominence.

A few more things to remember:

LIGHT compression.

Avoid direct contact with bony prominences…..avoid any direct contact with the spinal column – ONLY massage the muscles on either side of the spine.

Watch your body mechanics and go SLOW.

To pull all that we have learned together into TACT, Julie suggested starting a massage with finger petrissage on your dog’s face/head. Move down the body using web of the hand petrissage. Then effleurage or palm petrissage on the body of your dog. When you have completed the massage strokes above and your dog is relaxed use some vibrational massage and c/t your dog for being this relaxed.

Julie suggested a word like “Nice” as your cue for relax. She originally though about using "Relax" but thought if an individual heard you cue "Relax" they might think there is a reason to worry about your dog and their body language might change causing a change in your dog’s response. "Nice" is a non-reactive word for humans.

Eventually if you opt to work this plan and take it on the road you will ALWAYS give your dog a bit of vibrational massage when you cue them with your word.

It was a huge amount of information to take in and I have probably not done it all justice.

I do feel like this is a good next step for me and Ike. Having read Click to Calm and attended one of Emma’s seminars, that book changed my life. I felt like Control Unleashed was a tremendous step forward along the same path. I feel like TACT presents an opportunity to take it beyond the “I saw a creepy person and didn‘t react. Please pay me.” It takes it beyond conditioning a dog to react a different way when presented with something creepy to having a preconditioned cue that CHANGES the way they are feeling. I definitely believe this is possible with work.

Julie took our e-mails for a follow-up seminar – possibly in a month, to see where we are and perhaps move forward to the next step. I can’t wait.

Rally with Bug

Saturday morning Bug attended Rally-O class. Ike had been sick since Thursday but seemed much better on Friday. However, he started vomiting Friday night and by Saturday his vomiting had inflamed his stomach to the point that there was blood in the bile. Poor pumpkin. (I need to do a major Ike Homeopathically update – he has been doing really well in general. His return to normal after the vomiting has been SUPER fast.)

I e-mailed Jenny first thing Saturday morning and explained that Ike was really ill and wouldn’t be able to attend class, but that I wanted to. Our first Rally trial is Sunday and I am nervous. The whole spiral business throws me for a loop! And Ike’s Down-Stay-Walk Around dog still sucks. I explained that I would have Bug with me since we were attending a seminar later that afternoon. She suggested I work the Bug. Very exciting since I wanted to ask if that would be okay, but thought it was a bit presumptuous to ask!

Bug was a good boy. He was pretty distracted, and I am starting to think we are either going through a distracted phase or we need to work harder on our foundation stuff (I suspect it is the latter). Left turns were particularly difficult for us. No walk off a cliff heeling was visible Saturday! :-)

I give Bug a lot of credit. He has done minimal basic obedience “stuff” (bad handler, I know), but he REALLY tries to work with me and is a quick learner. In this particular course, the Halt-Down-Stay-Walk Around dog was right beside the moveable wall and the playgroup was on the other side. Bug was DISTRACTED!! First run-thru he did nail it, second at the end of the class – eh… not so much.

Bug also had the opportunity to meet Kody (Marlene’s GR). I think a play date is absolutely in order! He really wanted to play with Kody – they would probably be evenly matched.

Having Bug attend Ike’s class REALLY makes me want to get him in an obedience class. I know that Obedience and Rally-O classes switch to weekday evening classes when agility moves outdoors. Depending on which day it is I might try to keep Ike in the Rally class and put Bug in the obedience class. I find it so much more helpful to be working on basic skills in a class setting. It helps to keep you honest!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bad Corga-Muffin

I still need to post about Saturday's Rally class (Bug attended, Ike was sick) and the massage seminar (which was mind-blowing). Until then here is a picture of Bug stealing a nap on the blanket I JUST finishing making Katrin's dogs. Hopefully they won't mind one nap.

Oh, that bad corgi! Just make yourself comfortable, why don't you!

Katrin has three FCR, so when I happened to see this hunting theme print I could not resist.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weaves Poles, Class #1

Yesterday was Bug’s first class in learning the obstacle Weave POLES (or how to weave).

This class is large with mostly young dogs, and contained the most obstacles he has been asked sequence to date (13 last night, I think).

Overall I think it went REALLY well. He was distracted by all the dogs and people, but held his stays VERY nicely. Our hard work (and I kid you not, I have been analyzing this to death) is paying off. He was easily distracted, but given his baby-brain and the challenges the class presents – not a biggie. He came back to work when I called.

There were two sets of six weave poles and one set of twelve poles in last night’s course. Katrin wanted us to do the set of twelve with the weaves poles on our left. I thought she meant out pretend-left and walked the course doing a FC with those weaves poles on my right! D’oh. As a result of doing the set of 12 poles on your left you had to RC into a tunnel. I was a very good doobie and did the rear cross on the flat with enough space (i.e. rather properly) – Bug was not phased at all. Hooray!

Katrin teaches weaves poles with the cage method, which I like. I think Bug will have no problem with this method (unlike a certain very literal Schnauzer I know who is still fading a cage or two). Due to a dearth of cages not all the poles had cages on them. Good challenge for the baby-Bug. He made the “right” decision quite a few times. Very impressive considering he has only seen the poles/cages a few times before.

About 20 minutes into class a horse trailer arrived to drop off some new equine boarders. All the dogs went nuts. It was kind of funny, to be honest. The distraction level was SUPER high.

Between runs Bug worked on settling in a down – which he is really getting good at, stay, “hit it” (nose touch which he is quite mediocre at – guess we’ll be working on that), and STAND. “Stand” is better than it was – he is definitely getting the idea, but we still have a lot of work to do.

He does a very funny thing if he thinks I asked him for a “down” and he should be rewarded. He dips his head toward the ground and then looks up at me, almost like he is saying, “Alright, now what’s going on here – don’t you see I am “Down?” I think I should put it on some sort of cue and incorporate it into a trick. Maybe the cue could be “Don’t you agree?” I’ll have to think about it. Any ideas?

He wasn’t keen about jumping last night. A little worrisome, but given he had a chiropractic adjustment the night before and his sacrum was out of alignment I am pretty sure that is why. Also I have been packing the pounds on him (*sob*) for the show season and while he still has a waist at the moment, he is carrying a fair amount more weight than he was. Jumping might feel different to him right now.

I went and bought some Traumeel at lunch for him. In addition to Arnica it contains Hypericum perforatum (which acts as a natural sort of anti-inflammatory). Take a look at the description from Homeopathy for Health. Hypericum is specifically useful for spinal irritation and tailbone injuries (like the sacrum!).

Hypericum has been shown to be an important remedy in pain relief for injuries to areas rich in nerve endings.

For pain that radiates or shoots from the injury. Keep on hand in the first aid kit for crushed fingers from slammed doors, puncture wounds (including bites and from medical procedures), 1st and 2nd degree burns, tailbone injuries.

Hypericum is indicated in spinal irritation, sticking pains, tearing pain, hypersensitivity to pain.

All in all I felt like the Bug had a very successful class. He thinks agility is tough work - he slept the entire ride home!

My poles and a jump will be moving back into the mudroom today/tomorrow. I am looking forward to Bug learning this skill and loving the poles!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bug!

Today my Bug turns 3 years old. Thank you Holly, Leonard, Rita, and Demi for bringing this wonderful boy into the world. Bug's birthday gift - other than some Yƶghund Frozen Yogurt - is attending Weaves class (although maybe I should be calling it POLES class!).

Holly was kind enough to share some Baby-Bug pictures with me a couple of months ago. Take a look....he's been a cutie all along. And you can tell he loves his bro Luther.

Here is to a wonderful 2009 for the Dream litter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chiro Appt - Poor Buggie-Boo

Bug threw his pelvis out of alignment about 3 weeks ago with a teeter fly-off. Two weeks ago Cheryl saw him, aligned him and we made plans for his follow-up visit that Saturday. Then Jack was sick. Screeech - change of plans.

So, we missed the follow-up appointment and weren't able to go last week cause of everything going on with Jack. Bug was definitely off at class two Thursdays ago - he was tentative about the contacts and a bit of an Eeyore. I think part of it was having just been aligned - the rest was the wind and rain.

Bug saw Cheryl today and while his pelvis held, his sacrum was out, and he was VERY tender. Poor pumpkin. Good thing he gets to go to a massage seminar with me this weekend!

We'll see Cheryl again next week and hopefully the boy will have held his alignments and be on the road to balance.

Tues. Night Class

Last night was Carmie's agility class. Quite a few of the people who have been in class are taking the Thursday night class, and quite a few people who had taken the last session off were in class. A different mix!

Carmen started off in rare form last night being fairly reactive and yelling at everyone. Unusual barn behavior. I would not have been surprised to see behavior like that a year ago, but now? Not sure if it was a stress reaction from what is going on at home, she was just having a day, or what. None-the-less, she got herself under control and while I walked the course she was a quiet, good girl.

I decided this is going to be a very visual post. I asked Katrin for a copy of the course map and then used Real World Paint (cool free software) to mark my course choices and classmates course choices.

Figure 1:
the course - lots and lots of opportunities to cross.

I walked this course and I just saw lots of sweet front cross opportunities! My head said, "Rear cross, where?" Originally I told Katrin I was going to try and run it with only one FC, then as I walked it I said, "Maybe two..." A big problem for me is due to Ike's speed (rather lack-of-speed) I relied on Front Crosses to motivate him for a long time. As a result when I look at a course I see Front Crosses - they are much more second nature for me. So this is very much about me learning to reframe the way I read courses.

Last night I made the decision that I would try to sneak more Rear Courses into my runs and ask Katrin more frequently where she would RC versus walking it with a FC. I also decided that giving up Front Crosses cold turkey to learn to do Rear Crosses properly isn't wise, so I am going to go back and work on foundation behaviors for both me and the dogs. These things don't happen over night (unfortunately!).

Figure 2:
How I choose to run the course

Note the rear cross! And we actually nailed it every time except for once when I got WAY too far ahead of Carmie. Possibly part of the reason I am not as keen on rear crosses is because I need to consciously think about pacing myself and allow my dog to get ahead of me. When I am able to get all zen about it and breath deeply it works really nicely. When I do not, it is a train wreck!

Figure 3:
The Rear Cross version

This is how a lot of the other stuents handled the course - a rear cross between 4 and 5 in addition to between 8 and 9.

I would not be surprised if it takes me about a year to *get* the rear cross. That is about how long the whole consistency thing has taken to sink in and I still revert when I am tired or stressed! Fortunately I can start Bug out being ambidextrous about crosses. He will probably end up with a preference, but I would like him to be comfortable with both.

Challenging and cold (for me at least) class. Carmie seemed a bit off at different points during the night. As I mentioned the evening started with a woof, so it might have been stress. There were a couple of moments on course where I am not clear if she was tired or she might not have been seeing 100%. I have to be careful not to look to hard to see signs of her eyesight deteriorating, or use it as an excuse. It makes it more difficult to know what is going on with surety, but hey....what can you do.

yay for craigslist!

I have been diligently browsing Craigslist on a daily basis, looking for a reasonably priced Vari Kennel to use with Crate Games (all I have are soft crates and wire crates - not ideal for tossing treats in). I didn't want one that was TOO big, but it did have to be comfortable for Bug - my longer dog.

I don't think $60 (in this economy where I am fearing for my job safety) is reasonable, which is what most of the Vari Kennels are being offered for (and they weren't LONG enough that I felt comfortable the Bug would be comfortable).

Today I received confirmation I snagged a 30L x 24W x 24H for $30 and I am super pleased. This is a great bargain and only 20 minutes from my work. I am picking it up today. Watch out Bug and Ike, more games to come.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Daddy's Boy

Official Goodnight to Ike's Agility Career

Yesterday Ike was sniffing Carmen's ribbons from the Bo-Gee Trial. I asked him, "Have you reconsidered? Would you like to try it again?" He immediately stopped sniffing the ribbons and made a bee line for the door out. Message received loud and clear.

Today I took down Ike's ribbons from his brief, traumatic, frustrating, but INCREDIBLY educational agility career (it only took me an additional year to finally concede not only did I get the picture, I would really respect it). Without Ike I cannot imagine how long and how many dogs it would haven taken me to realize that there is a balance and if your dog isn't having fun you need to look closely at what IS going on. Good dog gods, it took long enough!

Blessings come in many different ways and sometimes it is only with space that you realize what a blessing it was. Ike has made me cry a lot (not just about agility), but he has taught me invaluable lessons. I would not be having the fun I am having with Carmen, Bug, and Ike (in Rally) that I am - if not Ike's exceptional communication skills. Granted he had to yell REALLY loudly at me.

Additionally, Ike told me that John has offered to start awarding couch-sitting and napping ribbons. Ike certainly excels, ENJOYS, and deserves those!

Bo-Gee CPE Trial

Yesterday Carmen and I were entered in the Bo-Gee CPE Trial. I brought Bug along as the companion dog. This trial was at an indoor sports arena only 1 hour and 15 minutes away from me. Super! The footing was excellent, but the lighting was quite gray (not so good for a dog with PRA, at all). It was fairly noisy - although not an intolerable din - with basketball and soccer games going on in adjacent courts. It was also a two ring trial, Carmen's first.

When we arrived I found a place to crate and went to pick up course maps. Alas, they only had course maps for 4/5/C - all the lower level course maps had gone missing. Fortunately, I do a lot of NADAC and NADAC does not give you course maps to obsess over (a good thing for our minds I think). I copied the Snooker map as that was the only one I was really concerned about and took pictures of the maps later for my blog.

I entered Carmen in Jumpers (L2), Wildcard (L3), and Snooker (L2) - no Standard yet (weaves - although I plan to enter her in Standard in May at her debut trial anniversary).

I felt really confident about the Jumpers course. It allowed for a nice lead out and two easy front crosses.

Carmen had a different idea though and while I got my FC in with plenty of time I took my eye off her for a second and she had an off-course. The nice thing about CPE is you can still Q with an off course in Levels 1, 2, 3.

Here is how I ran the course with Ms. Carmen. The green is our first trip around, the red is her off-course, and the purple is the second loop. It was a nice course. Q/2. This was Carmie's final L2 Jumpers and her Level 2 Fun Games title (CL2-F). She is now in Level 3 Jumpers.

What was really fascinating was watching the Level 3 class. I was the Assistant Scribe so had a front row seat. There were some slight changes that made it so the course would run much smoother with an emphasis on rear crosses. I watched handler after handler neglect to cue their dog for a lead change and spin after spin happen. Now this is not penalized, but it is ugly. You could definitely tell who runs NADAC as those handlers would cue their dog for Switch.

I know Katrin trains with an emphasis on RC because she trials primarily in NADAC and she has fast dogs and feels it's a useful skill. We have discussed how some people do not even train Rear Crosses. I have stated repeatedly that I have a preference for Front Crosses. After watching this debacle (my opinion - not really as the the course was typically easy for the dogs - tough on the handler), I have decided I am going to have Rear Crosses with Carmen and Bug in my bag of tricks if it kills me. Katrin, are you happy reading this?! ;-)

Our next class was Wildcard. In Level 3 you must chose two B obstacles and one A. If your dog chooses for you, you need to change your plan on the fly. If you end up with two A obstacles it is an NQ.

There was a tight moment between Jumps 3 and 4. When I originally looked at the course map I planned on taking the B obstacle, but when I walked it it felt much better and smoother to squeak a front cross in there and take the A obstacle.

We did have an A-Frame perch for the first time ever. The other ring was right beside the A-frame and I swear to the good gods that Carmen got up there and thought, "Holy Cow!" She got right back to working with me though. Q/3.

Our last class of the day was Snooker and it was pretty sweet. The red jumps were in the corners which made it easy to plan a course with flow. The green line is our opening and the red is the closing.

I drew out two different plans and decided to go with the plan above - almost! My plan was after the third red jump to take the tire and the start the closing, taking the tire again. Ms. Carmen saw that A-frame and said, "Pretty please!?" So A-Frame it was. Probably less than a second of perching - due to the hub-bub and lighting.

During the closing she perching again an woo-woo'd at me, which was pretty funny. Q/1 - 47 points (you only need 28 for L2). This was Carmie's final L2 Snooker. She is now in Level 3 Snooker.

I liked the venue. I will trial here again with Bug, but not Carmen. I couldn't figure out why she was running so slow and then I noticed how gray the lighting was. I asked some other Schnauzer people who were there if they also saw the gray cast and they agreed it was gray and dim. One of my Schnauzer friends had a dog who experienced vision loss and agreed that the gray lighting would wash things out for Carmen. This puts the speed and A-Frame perching in a different light!

Due to her PRA I need to be very careful about where I run her. She only has an unknown, but limited amount of trials left and I want to make sure they are fun for her.