Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Corgi Chiro

Bug saw Cheryl tonight and she thought he felt MUCH better! I think I am becoming totally paranoid. She agreed he is still quite tight but that he was a million times better than he has been. And his pelvis held!

She checked his pelvis in a sit because his sits still are not looking terrific (i.e. perfect) and sure enough - he was out in a sit. Then we checked with him standing up on me and he was out there. She adjusted both the sit and standing up position.

Then she did a bit of gait analysis and pronounced that he looked MUCH better. She gaited him for me and he did look better. Sigh of relief.

I called a local rehab place on the way to our appointment and got a price quote, just in case things don't continue to progress. I plan on making my rocker board this weekend and Cheryl said I should bring it to our next appointment and she'll show me the exercises she would like me to do with Bug. I was also able to find two articles in old Clean Runs on making and using rocker boards by different authors.

Tues. Nite Classes

Katrin set up a jumpers course for last night’s class. Small dogs, or rather short dogs, ran last. I gave Bug a Traumeel before leaving the house. I stretched and massaged Bug the entire time prior to his run.

I ran Bug and he was a totally different dog. He was happy, engaged, and was jumping REALLY well. I was shocked, albeit pleasantly.

One run and I stretched, massaged, took him for a brief, brisk walk, and then stretched and massaged a bit more before putting him up. I think this will most likely become part of our permanent routine, which is not a bad thing.

During Carmie’s class Katrin noticed I wasn’t consistent about when I was telling her to jump. The funny thing is I noticed this over the weekend. I noticed it mostly because she was moving slower due to the heat and it became apparent to me that sometimes she was almost on top of a jump when I said “jump” and sometimes she was strides before a jump when I cued her.

I am trying hard to be much more EFFECTIVE in my verbal cues with Carmie to help prolong her playing time and give her more info as her sight diminishes. Katrin suggested I aim to cue “jump” a stride and a half before she jumped. We tried this and Carmie was much more confident! I did tell her “Go” in a straight away sequence and she clicked both bars. She didn’t knock them but she clicked them and that is unusual. Afterward I gave up the “Go” and cued “Jump, jump” – no clicking. Not sure if it was just bad luck or if it had something to do with the lack of cuing.

I need to firm up Carmie’s “out” command and practice more lateral distance with her. Now that the backyard is drying up I should be able to set up some short sequences.

I am debating purchasing some snow fencing and closing off a portion of the yard when I work. This would be so that eventually Bug (when he is healed completely) could also work in the backyard. Currently he is so sharp-eyed and visually stimulated I do not feel it is safe for him to be loose in the backyard – it is too close to a major street and Bug is too fast.

This morning before work I massaged and stretched Bug to see how he was and whether he should see Cheryl tonight. His iliopsoas muscles were still tight (there was no uncontrollable spasm-ing, just tightening) and his sit was a bit sloppy. I spoke to Cheryl and she thinks the sloppy sit could be because he is a little sore from yesterday or it could be habit. I decided I will have her look at him tonight. If she does not need to do an actual adjustment she will do trigger point therapy in the muscle. At this point I would very much prefer to err on the side of caution.

Thursday night I am picking up the materials to make a rocker board - cheaper than PT (although believe me I will do PT if necessary!).

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Bug Update

Bug saw Cheryl on Wednesday and had a moving gait adjustment, i.e. he was adjusted on each side while either leg was extended as though in movement. He had held his pelvis but his iliopsoas was still quite tight. When Cheryl tested him in the moving gait position his pelvis was out. It is amazing to me that his pelvis can be out in different positions – it makes sense, but still….

Bug saw Cheryl on Saturday and had what is called a fixed gait adjustment. He was adjusted on each side while in a fixed gait position – leg extended but on the ground. His pelvis had held even though I took him for a short (but ROCKY) hike on Friday. Hallelujah! Granted after the hike I kind of freaked out because I did not think about how much scrambling would be going on-on this particular trail (Skyline Trail at Middlesex Fells) and immediately massaged and stretched him (in a near panic). Bad human!

It was interesting that he was extremely uncomfortable having Cheryl adjust his right front leg, which is the leg that has the slight turn-out.

Sunday Cheryl took a look at him and she felt he was not nearly as tight as he has been. Given the fact he had been scrambling about on Friday, wasn’t *that* tight, and held his pelvis…. well, that’s huge.

He is also sitting better (straighter) and jumping up at me more. Not that I like him jumping up at me, but when him not jumping up typically means he is out of alignment or hurting, I will gladly take it!

Cheryl gave me a couple of additional stretches to do and reiterated that I need to make a rocker board. She also suggested that the next step might be adjusting him when he has his front paws either up on a stool or standing up on me. re: physical therapy - she said to wait until we see how he does this week.

Cheryl said we could go to class tomorrow! Gulp. I am to give him Traumeel before class. We will do one run and then immediately work on massage and stretching. If he is sore and or his sit is still looking crappy we will see Cheryl Wednesday. If not, we will see her next Wednesday and continue to slowly add work back into Bug’s life.

I put him back on his regular amount of food (i.e. a diet). I can’t handle the damage the weight has done. I hope he is still enough of a porker at the end of May/beginning of June for the Shows in Wrentham and Topsfield. Kris, who has three corgis, saw Bug this weekend and said she feels that the judges are more forgiving with lean corgis as they are meant to be working dogs. I sincerely hope that is true, but even I notice how much more “mature” Bug looks with the weight on. Sigh. It sucks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quickie - Addicted to Agility Trial

Yesterday Carmie ran in Tunnelers and Chances. She finished her Outstanding Novice Tunnelers title and nailed her weaves in Chances. Hooray!

This morning she finished her Novice Touch n Go title with a very sweet run. I am very proud of her as we really struggle with discrimination issues. Second run was Jumpers and I ended up pulling her half-way through. The course took a turn into the sun and she stopped dead and was distracted and disoriented.

She Q'd in Tunnelers and we missed the distance challenge in Chances. I feel like I cue'd her late for the weave poles and she missed the first pole. I do think it was a combination of the sun being in her eyes and my cuing her late - as a result I opted not to try and "fix" it. Chances was the last run of the day - it was REALLY hot, Carmie was tired, and the sun was blazing. I felt like she was exhibiting a bit of anxiety and decided it was more important for us to end on an up note than with stress.

We have been having really super tunnelers runs. This is funny because I don't really care for Tunnelers!

Although I truly feel it was a good weekend, I am sad about Carmie's eye sight. Carmie is really struggling with the bright sun. I am dreading when she can't run anymore. However I feel confident we still have time - particularly if I seek out indoor trials with good lighting. (This means we will most likely be doing more CPE.) I will just have to play the outdoor trials by ear.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tues. Nite Classes: Loaner CWC and Weaves

Last night was the first night of the new agility session. Bug's class is at 6:30 and Carmie's is at 7:30. Bug is slightly broken at the moment, so Katrin let me work Monty. How fun!!

I had a blast running the Mont-a-monster. He is such a fast little doggie and naturally has such nice distance. Last night's courses involved distance challenges and I had to be super careful with Mont to give him enough space. I kept pushing him around jumps. It was an excellent learning experience for me.

While waiting for our turn we working on "Doggie Zen" (because he can be a bit of a shark) and "Down."

There must have been some confusion about the start of the new session because no one showed up for Carmie's class!! The course had a three distance challenges and Carmen nailed two out of three.

She had great difficulty coming off the dog walk to go out to a jump. I am not clear why. She didn't have the momentum she had in either of the other distance challenges (coming out of a tunnel and off the weaves), so that might be why. It is also a corner she tends to have a bit of difficulty with (a little bit dimmer), so not clear if that is part of it too. Either way I am going to set up my teeter and some jumps in a similar pattern at home to practice that configuration and increase our distance.

During the course she did her weave poles with one cage on and had super entries even coming off a couple of jumps with some nice speed. After we were done I ran Carmie over a jump and through the weave poles with ZERO cages a couple of times and she NAILED them. She was also faster than she has been at home. I am so excited! I am still mentally doing a happy dance! Yay, Carmie.

All in all a very nice couple of classes.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Worrying about things you cannot control at the moment.

Something I *try* not to do a lot of.

Bug saw Cheryl, his chiropractor, on Wednesday. His pelvis was out, as was his lower back. His iliopsoas muscles were still tender. Bah.

Bug fell last weekend coming out of my in-laws’ Explorer. John was there to lift him, Bug tried to jump, and the leash got tangled. Not good for any dog, least of all a long-backed dog that is already dealing with tender iliopsoas muscles.

Bug saw Cheryl on Friday. His pelvis was out AGAIN and his iliopsoas muscle was visibly spasming being touched.

Bug saw Cheryl Saturday and Sunday. His pelvis held and both days he was less tender.

Traumeel and massage; and massage and Traumeel.

My poor boy. I am worried, worried, worried. Cheryl mentioned that I might want to consider PT with him.

We suspect the iliopsoas muscle strain occurred due to the repetitive nature of weave training combined with the weight he has put on for the breed ring. After talking to some people over the weekend, iliopsoas injuries are frequently caused or aggravated by jumping. The best thing you can do for them, other than rest, water therapy, ect, is keep the weight off.

I am considering long-term that I might run him as a Vet in NADAC and CPE. They both have Early Vet programs for certain breeds. This means he would jump 4” versus 8”.

I have to be honest, if it means he can play, that is what I will do. To me, it’s not the amount of height but getting through the uprights that matters.

We will see how this plays out. We have an appointment with Cheryl on Wednesday and will see her again on Saturday, and possibly Sunday. We are doing a multi-phase adjustment; I forget what it is called. Based on how Bug appears to be recovering I’ll make the decision about PT. At the very least I will start doing rocker board (aka wobble board) work with him. GOTB is too sketchy for him right now where he isn’t holding his adjustments well (which is very unusual for Bug [all of this started with the additional weight]).

Bug will not be attending class this week. Possibly not next week either. UGH!!! The bright side is he is a baby (i.e. young) and with proper care he should recover without an issue.


First Act-Up Trial of the season

Saturday Carmie Q’d in all three classes (Chances, Jumpers, and Tunnelers).

In Chances mid way through the course she ran to the fence. I have never in my life seen her do that. She obviously thought she saw something – maybe my FIL Jack? Fortunately she is a fast little cookie – she came back to work with me, got the distance challenge and was 2 seconds under course time. Apparently the judge said she could have taken another second to futz around if she wanted. Goof ball!

That finished her Novice Chances title. I am going to keep her in Novice until she earns her Superior titles in the novice classes. Or at least in order to earn her Triple Superior title (which are Superior titles in Chances [Gamblers], Regular, and Jumpers).

Her Jumpers run she stopped dead before a jump in the middle of the course. Another first – for a second I had flashbacks of Ike! It was a sweet little course, pretty much a big loop – so I suspect she was having an off day? It wasn’t overly bright – so I don’t think it was her vision. Fortunately I was able to get her back to work with me. Q/2 - that finished her Outstanding Novice Jumpers Title.

Last class of the day was Tunnelers. I am not a huge fan of Tunnelers. Not sure why, I just do not really care for it. Maybe I have a sour taste in my head about it because Ike hated it SO much? He thinks it is the stupidest class on earth! Anyway, Carmie had a VERY nice run and I was pleased I was able to keep her with me/keep up with her. Q/1.

Yesterday was a mixed bag.

Regular ran first, so all Carmie’s classes were later in the day and it was very sunny with zero cloud cover. Jumpers was at about noon and Carmie had a very nice run. Q/1 (This is her first leg toward her Superior title).

Next was Touch n Go and the first third of the course was a dream. Coming out of a tunnel and into the sun, Carmie stopped dead, very disoriented and started air sniffing. I was able to get her going again, but then again coming out of a tunnel she became very disoriented – it was right before the dogwalk/tunnel discrimination and gods bless her, I called “HERE” and she came right to my voice.

I scooped her up, gave her lots of kisses. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was too bright for her. One of the things that happens with PRA is bright light washes everything out.

Cheryl, the dogs’ chiropractor, needed to adjust Bug again and I know she has taken some animal communication workshops so I asked her if she would try to connect to Carmie. As soon as she did connect, Cheryl’s eyes started watering. Cheryl confirmed Carmie wasn’t able to differentiate between obstacles, ect due to bright sun. I scratched her from Chances (the next class) after that.

I had second thoughts later as I was walking her – she seemed fine until we turned a corner and were heading into the sun. She started to whine anxiously. It was heart breaking (and obvious) that she was having trouble seeing.

I scratched her from Tunnelers too, but by the time novice tunnelers was running the sun had changed a lot and I felt like it was safe to run her.

She was so excited she tried to pull into the first tunnel with her leash still on. She had a GREAT tunnelers run. She was very responsive and fast. She Q’d (1) and got her second leg toward her Outstanding Tunnelers title. I didn’t walk the course because I had scratched her, so I am very proud of myself for handling it “cold.”

The lessons learned this weekend?

I will probably have to scratch afternoon classes at outdoor trials and think about the sun more (versus worrying about grey days). Indoor trials where I know the lighting is good might be the way to go, although that means more CPE and I love running Carmie in NADAC.

I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear. I need to be super-vigilant and pay attention to what Carmie tells me. I do not want to make the mistake of running her for too long and have her start to have anxiety about agility. I also need to remember that Carmie could care less about progressing through levels or acquiring titles. She just likes to play with me!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Springfield and Fun Runs

Bug and I went out to Springfield today. The other dog did not show, so zero points were available. Bug won his class (obviously) and went Best of Opposite.

I tried standing in front of Bug while he was on the table and he leaned away from the judge! Granted, he had a chiropractic adjustment on Wednesday (his pelvis was out) and he was tender.

So, I learned that I will most likely NOT stand in front of Bug on the table in the future. I do feel like he moved well for me. I tried to lengthen my stride and incorporate all of the tips people had for me.

Then we headed to Wrentham to help set up for the weekend's trial and the Fun Run. I was more nervous about the Fun Run than I care to acknowledge. I thought Bug was going to go hog-wild being outside on a warm gorgeous day and have no use for me. He was totally awesome. He stayed with me and was happy as a clam to be running through tunnels! Hooray! I was floored. I am trying not to be so shocked.

After two runs we saw Cheryl for his Phase 1 adjustment and his pelvis was out AGAIN!! No wonder he was leaning away from the judge while she was feeling his back and hips. He was also funny about standing on the table at the Dirty Dawg Wash Thursday night. all makes sense now.

I am so worried about him. Usually he holds his adjustments really well, but he has been off and in pain since we started putting the weight on for the breed shows and learning weaves. I am not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I suspect they are both to blame and it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Yuck.

Tomorrow looks like it will be a nice day - mid-60's and sunny (at least in the morning). I am looking forward to agility with Carmie!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forgotten Rally-O post, Practice, and Weave Poles

Last weekend was so busy I forgot to post about Ike’s Rally-O class on Saturday. It went really well!

The course consisted of:


  1. Serpentine, Weave Twice
  2. Halt, Down, Sit
  3. Moving Step Right
  4. Halt/Right Turn/Call to Heel/Halt
  5. About Right Turn
  6. Left Turn
  7. Send over Jump (Broad jump)
  8. 270° Left Turn
  9. Slow Pace
  10. Normal Pace
  11. Left About Turn
  12. Left Turn
  13. Stop and Down


Station # 5, About Right Turn should have been simple. Heading toward this station, we were heading toward the entrance of the ring – where everyone is clustered. Ike didn’t balk, but he did slow down and get stress-y. The second run through a man wearing a hat was passing by to get to the rest room. Same stress-y response. Jenny asked the class if they’d be willing to wear hats next session on occasion to see if we can work through at, at least.

In general it was a great class. Ike’s downs are SO much better. He did the broad jump for the first time. And our Around is also getting better. Hooray


Last night Carmie practiced weaves. They were “just” okay. Sometimes I hate the learning curve! She is still doing a million times better than a month ago, but not as good as last week. Some pop-outs and a general, “what do you want me to do?” look. I did get down on my knees and realized that the sun was right in her eyes where she was missing and could have been washing things out for her (with the PRA). Oh the things to take into consideration. All three dogs are seeing the chiro tonight and hopefully I will be able to squeeze a weave pole practice in before we head out to do that.

Bug practiced Stand and back leg placement. Wah!! We also practiced “Left Finish.”

Ike practiced Downs with duration, moving downs, and Around. I think he just about has Around, I need to make my hand motion more subtle.

I also am starting to lean towards not trialing him, but that is another post. There is an outdoor Show-n-Go in May - we'll see how that goes first.


A few posts ago, when I discovered that training the weave poles was causing Bug some strain in his psoas muscles, I happened to read the Clean Run Editorializing by Ann Croft suggesting 24” weave pole spacing.

If I thought this would be adopted any time soon I would probably hold off on training weaves with Bug, in all honesty. But I do not think it is likely, so we are training weave poles on a slower schedule that allows his body to deal with the repetition better.

Apparently NADAC has already accepted 24” weave pole spacing, but clubs are “grandfathered.” They do not have to replace the current weave poles, just the new purchases must have the 24” spacing.

Clean Run is hosting a poll on their Magazine Forum – they will be sending the results to the AKC and USDAA. If you are interested in the weave pole spacing changing (or staying the same), I suggest clicking through and completing the poll. It is in the lower left corner.


This weekend looks to be a bit crazy. Friday I am going out to Springfield with Bug to show him in breed. There is only one other dog entered (I think everyone is at the Specialty), hopefully the other dog shows up!! (Bug is starting to blow coat so I think I am going to skip Maine at the beginning of May and focus on Wrentham at the end of May and Topsfield in June. Hopefully that will give him enough time to blow all his coat and grow some back.)

Then off to help set-up for the Act-Up trial this weekend and Bug gets to participate in his first Tunnelers Fun Run. Gulp!

Carmie is entered both Saturday and Sunday at the Act-Up trial. I hope the weather stays nice – that would be awesome! I am looking forward to seeing everyone and the sun shining! Paws crossed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Read - Dog Park Etiquette Article

There is a good article in Sunday's 77 Square (Madison State Journal ) on dog park etiquette. The article is called Before hitting the dog park, brush up on canine expressions by Chris Martell (interviewing/with Patricia McConnell).

Personally I only go to the dog park if it is pouring rain and I know no on else will be there. Dangerous places, dog parks. :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weave Poles Class # 6

Thursday night was our final Weave Pole class. I definitely got a lot more out of this class than I did when I took it with Carmen. Because Bug lives with me it was MUCH easier to practice on a daily basis (at least until we ran into the psoas muscle issue) than it was with Carmie.

There were things I was pleased with last night and things I was not pleased with.

I am pleased that Bug is jumping much more confidently and having more fun. I am pleased he did so well with the weave poles (only two cages on each set of six) given we have had to back off our training schedule (and are still working with 3 on ATM).

I am NOT pleased by how easily distracted he is in the barn. Last night he did a little circuit, running around, and was very visually stimulated and not very connected to me. At a later point in the same run he saw a mouse and he thought he needed to try and get it. Obviously I need to do more foundation work with him!

I feel like I could have set him up for more success by taking him out for a brief walk before his run too. Short dogs went last, last night so he worked on “settle” while we were waiting and it took some time to get through the other dogs. After working on stationary exercises and being quiet I definitely should have given him an opportunity before his actual run to unwind. Bad handler.

I had lent Shaya (with Tom) my copy of Control Unleashed. She returned it last night. I think I will re-read it and work the exercises with Bug.

I am guilty of my own version of tunnel vision. I think about Control Unleashed and I think about Ike’s reactivity, not Buggie’s lack-of-focus (on occasion). It is applicable for both, though!

Not a bad class (start-line stays were pretty good, fun with jumping, nice weaves) but lots to work on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


If you are not a member of the Susan Garrett e-mail list, I suggest you subscribe. During the month of March SG shared a tip a day. This month she shares a podcast. I had a chance to listen to it last night.

The key point:

Reinforcement builds behavior.

Such a no brainer and yet how difficult is it to remember?

People are so quick to stop when an error is made. People reward ENDS rather than tough, good choices.

I am so lucky that my primary agility trainer (Katrin) works this philosophy.

I think EVERYONE can benefit from listening to this podcast, but particularly those who train complex behaviors. Sometimes when we are running a course or sequence in class (the optimal time to make mistakes) we get tunnel vision about finishing the sequence - it is SO much more important to stop and GIVE YOUR DOG A COOKIE (as Katrin would yell) when they do something right.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guess who did their Weave Poles?

With no cages?


I am so excited. We have been working really hard and are down to one cage in the middle of the weaves. Today, I took the leap and removed all the cages and you could SEE her thinking. Right now she is slow, but I hope with confidence and more practice she will pick up the speed.

I can't believe it - we have struggled so much with this. I know we're not done, but none-the-less, I am so excited!

Of course, I pushed it a bit longer than I should have (BAD handler) and the sun started getting lower and she woo-woo'd at me , like "what do you want you crazy lady?" But we are almost there!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weaves Day #17

Nearly a full week later and Bug doesn't miss a beat with the cages on the right side and one off of the left side. Slow and steady. Today we worked for just under 1/2 a cheese stick.

To make Ike happy he got to work the other 1/2 a cheese stick. Wow, is all I can say. He was BOUNCING through those poles.

Now to massage the Cardi.


Last night I practiced with both boys.

Bug worked on stand and allowing me to move his hind leg, judge side. I tried both ways that have been suggested (moving by handling the hock and pushing the stifle). I am not clear yet which worked better or if they worked equally well. I will have to fool around with it.

I bought the ebook Click to Win by Karen Pryor. It is a collection of articles she wrote about clicker training show dogs for the AKC Gazette. I hope it has some useful pointers. Last year I bought Positive Training for Show Dogs - Building a Relationship for Success by Vicki Ronchette. I felt like the Positive Training for Show Dogs book would be a better fit for someone who already has experience in the breed ring and is looking for a way to cross-over into a more positive training style, not the newbie to the breed ring I am!

The Ike worked on Finish Right, Left About Turn (both of these use the Around cue), heel, Down-stay, and sit-stay. He was VERY eager to work. I made sure we worked with his leash on too.

We finished the night with both boys receiving massages!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Things to Work on....

....from various sources. Thank you Baledwr, Katrin, Penni, Jenn, and Cat!

Stand more in front of him so he doesn't have to turn his head to look at you while in line.

In the very beginning, I would try to stand in front of Bug, not at heel position. He is looking up at you during the judge's first look, so the judge can't really see his head or expression at all. If it's a judge that puts a lot of importance on head/expression... well, there you go.

Lesson/tip: Don’t stay in heel position. Move in front of Bug while waiting in line.

On the table …. I would try to hold your bait hand down a little lower.

When Bug is on the table, I would try to get a little more control over his head. Pause the video at 1:21, THAT is the judge's second impression of your dog, and although his feet are in all the right places (c/t, good handler!), his head is tilted up and his ears are back. I would use my left hand to hold up his collar. If you're controlling his head a little bit more on the table, he'll also be less likely to move his feet on the table.

Also, it might help if you move in front of him as soon as the judge has examined his mouth so that he can look at the person he loves. ALWAYS smile at him. Our dogs read our expression and if we look stressed, they sure aren't going to look happy!

Lesson/tip: Hold bait lower, move in front of Bug once judge has examined his head/mouth, hold collar.

... just need to keep an eye on him and make sure he isn't schrunching up his back feet.

The one thing I saw to watch for is that when you free stack Bug he likes to pull his rear foot on the judge’s side out of place and put it forward, which screws up his top line and tail set.

It looked like his judge side rear foot was turned out a little.

Lesson/tip: Work on keeping his rear foot, judge side in the right place. Work on him being comfortable with me handling his hock to move said foot (right now he’ll sit if I touch his hock. Goober.)

With the freestack at the end of the down-and-back, again, his head is too far up.

Lesson/tip: Possibly kneel to bait him so he isn’t looking UP at me, or toss treat.

… on the first go around is that you could have given the illusion of moving out more...give the (slow) dog in front of you time to get going and room before you move so that you don’t have to hold your dog up when you catch up to him.

Do not move out directly on the heels of the person in front of you. Allow the first person to go, count to three, then start your dog.

Lesson/tip: Count to three, breathe and then move out.

I did not see you ever move Bug fast enough. You need to match your stride to his body length as he moves so that you do not distract from the dog.

Lesson/tip: Practice matching my stride to his body length.

Thank you all for the feedback. this is very helpful. I now have a list of things to work on!

Day 3: Even Better

We still did nothing (2nd out of 3 in Open Dogs), but I felt a million times better about our performance together. I even received a compliment on his free stacking which we have been working very hard on.

Here is a video made on my camera by my friend Michele. I would love constructive criticism from those who how shown breed before. Just be gentle - I am a soft human! ;-p

Day 2: Better

Yesterday there were fewer handler errors, but we did nothing. I was happy though to not have made the same mistakes I did on Friday (I think I made new ones!).

Two things I would like to change, okay maybe three.

Once Bug was off the table I am not clear I stood him in the correct place. When the other handler went to place her dog in line after being on the table, it was tight and awkward. I am going to ask her today if there was a better or more correct place to stand and free stack Bug.

On the down and back I did remember to free stack my dog (but I think the judge might have already made up his mind as he gave Bug a VERY cursory glance). I wish I had done it just a wee bit sooner. I feel like we were kind of under the judge's feet.

Third, the first trip around the ring gaiting. We must have been gaiting slow as the other handler and dog ran up our butt. This didn't happen on Friday (with the same dog/handler), but did happen yesterday and wasn't comfortable. I am sure it doesn't look good either? But of course I don't know!

My friend Michele is going to come with me today and video tape it so I can share with Holly, Katrin, and Kerry to see if there are any absolutely glaring mistakes. Otherwise I have the feeling this is just the way the game is played.

I will say, for a performance person, the subjectivity of it all is hard. I am SEARCHING for things to fix, but even with everything "fixed" it might not matter!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 1: Handler Errors

Today was the first of a three day weekend showing Bug in breed out at the Big "E" in Springfield. Today we did nothing, but I learned a boatload! The majority of my obvious nerves I got rid of at the UKC show, but apparently I was(am) still quite nervous as I made many handler errors in the ring.

Fortunately Katrin and Holly were there so they were able to give me constructive feedback and I know quite a few things to try and remember NOT to do and to do tomorrow. I also realize that with practice this will get easier.
  1. Both Katrin and Holly said I was holding my leash too much like heel position and that I can still hold it low, but to hold it away from my body.

  2. When stacking Bug on the table, TAKE MY TIME!!! I didn't, I totally rushed and didn't adjust him as I would in class. NERVES!

  3. Down and Back, the dog is supposed ot be in the center of the mat, not the handler. Doh. Common sense!

  4. Don't forget to free stack in front of the judge (I did that today! Gah.)!

The good news is that Holly thinks Bug looks great in terms of coat and weight (yes!) - that must be at least 80% of the battle, right? Now if I can just clean up my end with the handling

Bug had a big day - he got to see his grandma, which was SUPER exciting, meet Snickers who had her first run in the ring today, and see his bro Luther! I don't think I have ever seen Bug so "high." The boys were being intact snots, but Bug thinks Snickers is just as sweet as her name.

On to tomorrow!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Immediately following practicing the weave poles I did some light massage on Bug. He was tight. Crap. Gave him some traumeel and off we went to handling class.

Handling class went well. When we first got to class it was VERY full and VERY bustling. Bug was stressed. Fortunately, once we got into line and started working on “stand” and “fix it” he visibly de-stressed.

It was a very full class with two dogs I would categorize as reactive, plus a third who is unpredictable. Eeee. The two reactive dogs were staring a lot and their owners were not interrupting said staring behavior. There should definitely be a PSA on staring and dogs and how it can cause massive problems!

Bug was great and the two times he did get barky (once watching a broad jump apparently move by itself across the other ring [couldn’t see the human, just the jump moving], and the other time when there was a wee escalation of staring between two other dogs), I asked him for a down and fed him for being so super and willing to down when he felt like he needed to be on alert.

I set Bug up on the table better than I have in the past and made sure to keep his head up while Kerry was giving him the once over. Kerry asked for a triangle.

In the past I would turn left into Bug. As Bug is becoming more confident with me and moving out nicer I find it very awkward and we nearly crash (Rally-O would help with that!). Last night I did an about right turn and headed up toward Kerry. This felt MUCH cleaner to me.

Kerry recommended I toss a treat in my hand to “get ears” when I free stack in front of the judge. It worked well – as long as I don’t lose the treat (which I did last night)!

When we got home I did some massage and stretching on the Bug and he felt MUCH better. Hooray!

Tonight it is off to the Dirty Dawg Wash for a shave and a haircut!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weave Poles Day #16

All the cages on the right side, one cage off the left side. Bug did an awesome job. I kept it shorter than ever - 1/2 cheese stick. Bug was motoring through the weave poles.

In an attempt NOT to strain his lower back while we are learning the weave poles we will NOT be practicing daily any longer. I plan on practicing every other day to every two days - depending upon how tight he feels.

Now to stretch, massage, and give him some traumeel. Then off to handling.

Tues. Nite Agility - Jumpers

Last night’s class was a jumpers course.

First run-through was okay. I chose to do a rear cross where I would typically squeeze in a front cross (heading into a pinwheel). I was very good about doing the rear cross on the flat and having CARMEN do the cross (not me) – the first two times.

Coming out of the pinwheel I almost lost Carmie to a series of straight jumps. Next attempt I turned my shoulders sooner and still almost lost her. Katrin noted that I was telling her Jump and then Here versus Here-Jump. That small change helped tremendously.

Carmen was VERY slow last night. At first I thought maybe she needs a chiropractic adjustment (she is due next week), but Katrin said her jumping form was nice. So either she was having an off night or her eyes are worsening. The lighting in the barn is adequate but not super.

I did notice significant hesitation with the tire. I really think it is something about how she sees it. She doesn’t have issues with the tire in trials – just Katrin’s tire! It is really strange. I was really able to witness her gathering herself up though, so ….

It was an okay class. Second run throughs weren’t as nice as the first. First attempt I did the rear cross, but Carmie’s treat got caught in her beard and I ended up doing the crossing, not her. We did finally nail the jump-here coming out of the pinwheel. Second attempt I decided to do a front cross as Carmie was moving fairly slow. We almost crashed - she sped up because I was running faster. Which does make me wonder if the speed issue is because I was running slower to try and allow the RC to happen?

In other news, the last three weeks we have been working on down in class (and only in class!) between runs. Last night I stopped the exaggerated hand motion and waited patiently for Carmie to get it. I had those Spanish brown eyes staring at me with such an intense look of inquisition, trying to figure out what I wanted ….then s-l-o-w-l-y DOWN. I am very proud of her for making the leap. It is odd to me how she can excel at agility and yet not be as operant as Ike and Bug. I am VERY hopefully this mental breakthrough will help her weaves continue to progress.