Monday, November 30, 2009
Our lesson went well. We started by working on driving and off-balance work. Both Bug and I are really starting to get this and it feels really good. Last week Diane worked her AS Dually a bit on this to give Bug a break. Dually had never done the off-balance work before either, so it was helpful for me to watch Diane work him through the same things we are working through.
Then we went into the big field to work on some outruns. Our goal was for Bug to move out more and have a nice arc. Go By was lovely. Away to me he tries to come in much too straight. We manipulated the situation so he would need to go around a panel. Go by no problem – Away to me he still tried to cut in.
We also stopped him on the opposite side of the sheep. The goal was for the distance to be equal-distant from where he started. This did not end up happening most of the time. He did a decent job stopping for me considering he doesn’t seem to have a stop on stock right now.
We interspersed this with fetching.
Then we worked on penning which is quite hard if your dog does not have a good stop or flank commands. I know I can practice flank commands dry – Jan taught us how this summer. However, no matter how great Bug is with a stop or down off the sheep he sucks on sheep. Diane suggested (tongue-in-cheek, I think) I buy ducks or chickens. John said maybe they could live in the attic. Hah. I guess we just schedule as many lessons as possible.
We moved three sheep into the control pen and then out. Then we moved an additional three sheep in to the control pen and out into the big field. Then we moved six sheep back into the control pen. It figures that I am getting comfortable with the off-balance work so we move on to something that makes me feel like I am all thumbs again!
Diane and I talked about where I want the sheep and where Bug needs to be in order to hold the sheep, but not push them past the gate. In truth it was MUCH more successful than the last time we worked on penning, but it still feels awful.
It was a good lesson, but we ended on a difficult task. Had we started with penning and ended with off-balance work I would be more elated. However, I tend to see a big improvement between lessons – almost as though Bug processes it during the week. I suspect if we work on penning next week it will feel better.
AND Bug was less stiff afterward! Hooray!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Inside was a lovely Angel of Friendship ornament - very appropriate! :-)
Heidi, I do not know your blog address - or perhaps I do and just didn't know your name? Either way I hope you post a comment so I can add you to my blog roll.
Thank you so much for brightening my day with such a nice gift!
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Last night Bug and I attended our first agility class at Canine Mastery. Due to Bug’s lack of generalizing when it comes to contacts I wanted to put him in a class where the contacts do not have rubber!
Kathleen, the instructor, lowered the A-Frame and we worked on having him run it. She did say that the A-Frame is a bit slippery, so I kept that in mind. Initially Bug said, “um, no thanks.” Then he would run up the contact area and immediately turn around. Kathleen had me pick him up and put him up much higher on the frame facing down. After that, while still needing some cheerleading, he was successful and offering to run up the A-frame. Kathleen would toss the treats forward onto the ground as he finished the A-Frame and Bug thought that was a great game.
The course was more AKC-style, for example it included an ugly wrap and general lack of flow in the course. Take that with a grain of salt, I am used to NADAC where flow is important.
First run through Bug bypassed the tire. This is a piece of equipment he has not seen a ton of. I neglected to treat him after he took it correctly. Bad handler!
He has a very nice table. Our table default is a down. When we got to the A-Frame/tunnel discrimination, Bug was meant to take the tunnel and given where I was he really should have – but he started doing the A-Frame. Goober. That’s okay – I want him to love contacts – especially contacts without rubber.
Next run through Kathleen suggested I have him do the A-Frame instead of the tunnel – what did he do but choose the tunnel. Like I said, goober! I called him back and we tried again.
The two biggest pieces I took from class are:
1. Don’t treat Bug from my hand. Kathleen said Bug and I are adjusting our speed for each other and treating him from my hand is just reinforcing he doesn’t need to run fast - or he only needs to run as fast as I am. I had string cheese cut into discs and Kathleen recommended tossing it to get his prey drive kicking. The flooring is black mat so the white cheese is very visible. The only bad thing (i.e. bad handler) is that a couple of times I tossed the treat before he had committed and completed the obstacle. Um, it becomes a lure instead of a reward with early release, Julie! I have to work on my timing and tossing confidence (this seems to be a recurring issue - why do I resist practicing my throwing?). But I can see how it will help Bug stop worrying about where I am and drive ahead.
2. Work on my “Go.” This is something we worked on in one of Katrin’s foundation classes and haven’t practiced or kept up on it.
Also, I wonder if some of Bug's A-frame issue is rear-end strength? I find that hard to believe considering the muscles he has back there. Maybe he doesn't know how to USE those muscles? I will start doing more ball work, backing up (which is also good for sheep), and stool work. It can't hurt, right?
Bug is SO fast when he is frapping or playing with the sheep. However, I don’t see that in agility and I think it is totally my fault.
I plan on doing some “Go” work. If the weather stays wet it will be inside. I might use the Manner’s Minder. I also need to start working on his weaves now that the iliopsoas injury has resolved itself. I will have to be careful NOT to practice daily – maybe every two days?
Either way, it was a good class and I have some things to think about and work on. I was also impressed by how focused Bug was with a whole new group of dogs and humans.
Oh! And Ike has been asking for a job. I think he wants to do agility again (but ONLY in class). I asked Cheryl to ask him and she confirmed he would like to do agility again, just NO TRIALING. So, I am going to bring Ike on Tuesdays and attend Kathleen’s drop-in class (which is after Bug’s).
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sunday Bug and I had a herding lesson. We worked on off-balance work and our “That’ll do.”
In the off-balance work, the dog is driving the sheep from behind. Last lesson this was VERY difficult for Bug (and me) to understand. This lesson he did so much better. He was actually nipping at hocks (which is a GOOD thing according to Diane)! Ultimately your dog will be ahead of you driving the sheep forward. Right now Bug is more beside me. I am holding the rake over the sheep on its side pointing in the direction I want to go. This gives Bug guidance in regards to what is off limits (i.e. coming up the inside too far or going too far forward on the outside – unless he is pushing sheep back).
Bug thought the off-balance work was much more fun than fetching! I am really pleased with how he started to “get it.” What a HUGE difference from last lesson – he was not constantly trying to get to the heads. WOW.
Then we worked on our “That’ll do” I would send Bug around – back to the corner where he had been – when he settled ask for a wait/stop and then tell him that’ll do. He was definitely better than he has been lately. I did have to throw the rake to interrupt his path of travel a couple of times, but nothing like a few weeks ago.
Diane and I decided to make “wait” my stop word as Bug understands it and is much more responsive to it that asking for a down. With “wait” he gives me my down much more quickly!
Weather permitting we are scheduled for a lesson next weekend and the following weekend. Hopefully Bug will continue to improve. He also did not seem as stiff in the evening. He was still stiff, but not AS stiff. Progress!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Rescue Trust
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I am headed to the Thanksgiving Cluster this Friday and hope to spy a cool ornament!
Last night I started asking for a down-stay when we exit or enter the house. Bug is usually high as a kite at these moments, as a result we already incorporate a "wait" at all doors.
Well, a down-stay is totally different! And let me tell you - I saw Bug acting like he had SHEEP! on the brain, i.e. not wanting to hold his stay. PERFECT!! We will keep working on this and hope to see an impact with the sheep.
I am also going to ask for a down-stay once he has left his crate in the car. THIS will be super hard for Bug. Usually once I put the car in park Bug starts making this terrible high pitched whine I do not hear anywhere else. His "wait" is weakest here and we have fought about it on occasion. Perfect training opportunity!! I think I have identified two moments that closely mimic the excitement of the sheep.
I also have some additional great training ideas to try out.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Regarding the tick bite reaction, my homeopathic vet said “The picture shows a classic cutaneous inflammatory response to any tick bite or similar trauma.” He recommended an immune stimulant supplement. I started Ike on Standard Process Immune Support (which I happen to have). We are speaking today and I will ask him if that is adequate or if he really feels I need the one he recommended, Xymogen IgG 2000 DF, and what the difference is if yes.
Part of the reason I freaked about the tick bite is Ike has been acting odd lately – at least for him. That and the fact that he has never-ever had a skin response like that. For the past two weeks he has been VERY needy, running hot (i.e. panting lots), selecting really unusual spots to rest in (at least for him), jumping the 24” baby gate (and yesterday the 28” gate). If I am in the bathroom he scratches like a maniac to get in and once he is in he lays down on the bathmat. The only time he has done anything similar is if I am training Bug and he wants to get into the room and then he certainly doesn’t lay down!
The only thing I can think of is we recently gave him a new remedy (sulphur). I will be really curious to hear what Dr. F thinks when I speak to him today.
Yesterday I said to John, "Well, we think he is acting odd but are the behaviors themselves really that odd? They’re only odd for Ike." So maybe the remedy triggered something and this is just giving us more info. I find his reactivity has decreased in my opinion. Very interesting!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I entered Carmen in Nov. Touch n Go, Nov. Regular, Open Tunnelers, and Open Jumpers. I entered Bug in Nov. Tunnelers and Nov. Jumpers. I took pictures of the course maps but forgot to take a picture of Open Jumpers! D'oh. It was a nice course.
I was a bit worried about the lighting. The barn had no sun lights (and it was pouring so there was no sun to be had), but it did have some material on the sides that allowed light to pass through (if there was any). The lighting seemed dim - see the picture below.
The footing at this facility was great - dirt and not too thick. The only downside was given it was pouring every time you came back in dirt stuck to everything. Carmie looked like a mud covered drowned rat!
Amazingly, Carmie did not have ANY issues with the lighting. I think consistency of lighting must be more important for her than the quality at this point? Good to know. She also wasn't too stressed about staying at my friend's house which I consider another sign of her vision health.
Novice Touch n Go Carmie FAILED the discrimination between the A-Frame and the tunnel. She could have been successful except, I called her TOO hard and she ended up taking the opposite end of the tunnel. There is a middle ground, I know there is.
Really nice things about this run....it was our first run and I was really worried about the lighting, BUT I did not babysit the hoops! I have never practiced with hoops other than running courses with them at trials. I worry that Carmen doesn't know her job in regards to them and typically babysit them a bit.
Yesterday I ran this course like I meant it and Carmen was really moving nicely. Coming out of the 6 tunnel, through the hoops, tunnel and dog walk she really picked up speed and I didn't baby sit. Carmen has really nice contacts. A lot of dogs where having difficulty with the dog walk. The ramps were very steep and there were no slats. You repeatedly saw dogs crouch as though they were on the teeter. No issues for Carmie. NQ/1.
Novice Regular we failed the discrimination AGAIN. This time I put Carmen in a stay slightly angled to the left of the dog walk. Hoping to take the tunnel out of the picture. I led out slightly further than mid-way between the jump and A-frame and called her hard to me and said A-frame. She took the tunnel. Gah! All I have to say is I am going to make DAMN sure this is not an issue with Bug. We are going to work REALLY hard on discrimination issues. She nailed her weaves which made me very happy. NQ/1
Tunnelers was a fun run. I have had an epiphany of sorts. Last trial both dogs ran Tunnelers in the exact same course time. I realized that both my dogs are running at my speed and in general I do not run courses like I mean them. I play it cautious. I decided that I would change that. I hadn't consciously formed the thought, but I acted upon it in Touch n Go. In Tunnelers I consciously made the decision I would try to run my butt off and trust my dog(s) and I did! And both dogs had SUPER runs. Carmie was at least 5 seconds under course time (maybe more), which given she is running in Open and it is tighter for us is a big deal. Q/2 for both dogs.
Carmie's Open Jumpers run was really nice. I again ran like I meant it and called her off of jump 16. However I got her back with out her back-jumping it and she nailed the course - well under time. Q/2.
Novice Jumpers was the last run of the day and Bug was fried. He went around the 2nd jump - I think with the intention of visiting. I got him back and thought I would be successful in getting him over the jump, but then I crowded him and pushed him around it again - and he back jumped. The rest of the run was smooth, fast, and beautiful. And, even with all the fussing around jump 2 he was only 2 seconds over course time (with a 10 pt fault). NQ/4.
It was a great day and gives me hope that Carmie can continue to trial indoors for a bit. I don't think the lighting was ideal and she handled it well - moving very confidently.
Now the bad news. I was about a half hour into my trip home when my dashboard started going haywire. The ABS light came on, then the brake light, then the airbag light. The dashboard lights started dimming, my headlights started to go and when I tried to put my hazards on and pull over my car started making a bizarre buzzing noise. My brakes and steering wheel didn't want to cooperate. When I finally got pulled over I couldn't get my car into park. When I called AAA they said they couldn't come get me because I was on a privately owned highway (the Mass. Turnpike) and connected me with the State Police!
An hour later a tow truck arrived and I was on my way home. The two truck driver and my husband think it is something electrical. I just had my car in for a 15,000 mile check up last Saturday - so I hope it is something small.
We were supposed to have a herding lesson today, but with no car (although John said I could borrow his) and a VERY late and stressful night I decided to scrap it and stay home and relax. Hopefully my car will be fixed quickly and we'll be ready for next week's lesson.
Friday, November 13, 2009
This morning I called the vet. The red circle is more likely an allergic reaction than a sign of Lyme disease. Dog’s do not typically display the red bull’s eye rash that humans do. It’s just odd as Ike has never had a reaction like that and it is so perfect and so red.
This is followed by about a week and a half of Ike acting really weird. He has been running hot and panting a lot, choosing odd locations to rest (like the bathroom – a Buggie location), being super needy, and jumping the 24” baby gate repeatedly (he jumps 12” in competition). All adds up to Ike being odd.
I have a vet appointment on Monday. Ike was treated for Lyme about 5 years ago and hasn’t been treated or tested since. He has muscle-tested positive for an active Lyme infection multiple times and was treated with a nosode.
The vet actually suggested we do a more complete blood panel. I am not really sure what to do. I will at a minimum do a C6 and depending upon the $$ of more extensive tick panels I might do one. Fortunately I have an appointment on Tuesday with my homeopathic vet already scheduled. Dr. F recently changed Ike’s constitutional remedy, so we need to follow-up and see how he is doing.
I am off to Northampton shortly. Bug, Carmen, and I are staying at a friend's house and trialing in South Hadley tomorrow. The trial is at an equestrian center - very convenient since the forecast for tomorrow is rain! I think we are seeing some of Ida.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Diane asked what we had talked about working on next. Now that I begin to understand what is going on, I can tell her. We wanted to work on our flank commands, "Away" because Bug is more resistant to that direction (although he wasn't today!), "that'll do" and off-balance work.
We started by working on flank commands. I put Bug in a down walk to my sheep, face him, and ask him to go "Away to Me" or "Go By." Bug makes one and a half rotations - I ask for a "down" in the corner. The first few times I didn't understand exactly what Diane wanted and I stopped Bug WAY too late. Then I stopped him early. Finally I got some really nice downs in the right spot!
We did some "that'll do's" and lets just say my rake throwing leaves much to be desired. I can be so black and white. Diane says "say That'll do" - I say "That'll do." I don't try to tell Bug "Here" or "Come" when he tries to dive for sheep. I am doing exactly what Diane says. Today she said, why don't you use "That'll do - Come?" I said, "I can do that?" D'oh. Master of the obvious I am not. "That'll do - come" did seem a bit more effective.
The big thing we worked on today was the off-balance work. In this exercise Bug is driving the sheep with me from behind and I am holding my rake over the sheep, on its side. I did not have a very clear picture in my head initially and we had a VERY tough time of it. Add to that Bug aggravated one of the sheep into trying to butt at him. This happened because Bug kept trying to get to the heads of the sheep because that is how he prefers to work, and I kept asking him to go to their rear.
Next time in the pen we switched the sheep that didn't like Bug out for another sheep and it was a much better dynamic. Bug was really successful at walking-up and driving the sheep. I could feel how much better it was than the previous attempt (which sucked, basically).
Bug got tired much quicker today, even though we broke the training up quite a bit. I think it was because the off-balance work was so mentally difficulty for him. He isn't clear what his job is yet and so his brain is in overtime trying to figure it out. The difference between our first attempt and our second was pretty huge. Now I know what it feels like and I think we'll have a lot more success with this next week.
The best news is that when we got home, I did Bug's massage and stretches and .... no stiffness!
Note: I take it back - he was stiff later in the evening. Not too bad and certainly not as bad as last weekend.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Fabulous PT Cathy shared her gross anatomy book with me and I *think* I've got it now. Cathy went over Bug with a fine tooth comb and felt like his muscles were soft and supple, except for his left iliopsoas - that had a little knot. So I will be sure to give that area a little extra attention going forward.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have used Animal Communicators in the past with Ike and recently used one with Bug when he was recovering from Lyme. That reminds me that I should e-mail the Jessica and let her know something she mentioned in the communication has come to fruition. She did a body scan to let me know if there was anything I should be aware of. She mentioned Bug’s liver seemed tender (at the time he had just finished the doxy for Lyme and I had just taken him off milk thistle), so I did another 30 days of milk thistle. She also mentioned that his front and forearms felt stilted to her. At the time it just worried me, however since then he has been stiff after herding and come to find out his bicipital tendons are tender!
I cannot do a blow-by-blow of the animal communicator seminar and do it justice. Prior to attempting to connect with any animals Carolyn, the instructor, had us do an exercise. She handed everyone a handful of cotton balls, which are supposedly excellent energy conductors. While she read a meditation we were to breathe deeply and visualize something. Then we passed our cotton balls to a neighbor and did a similar meditation with their cotton balls – to see if we could pick anything up. When I was handed my neighbor’s cotton balls I immediately thought/saw blue; while I was holding them my palms tingled.
We then went around the room and talked about what came to us. Carolyn said when you get a color like that it can often be related to the chakra – in this case blue is the throat chakra. My neighbor definitely was not a believer and I think was there to humor her sister. It was pretty obvious the entire thing was making her uncomfortable.
Then we swapped pictures and did another meditation. My picture was a 10 month old cat named Mittens. At first I did not think I was getting anything, but I wrote down everything that came into my head.
Salmon – crunchy
A window looking out on a moderately busy street
One of those toys that is a stick with feathers or strings attached
When it was my turn to speak I said I didn’t think I got much, but when I went through my list – everything I said resonated with Mittens’ owner. I said, “She thinks she is very beautiful.” And her owner said “I tell her she is all the time.”
Salmon-crunchy – she likes seafood but actually prefers the crunchy kibble
I described her street correctly and Mittens does like to watch the traffic and leaves
I described Mittens’ favorite toy and she does enjoy playing.
I thought Mittens was saying that she is not skittish, but her owner said she is very skittish – so there was a miscommunication there – or perhaps Mittens does NOT think she is skittish.
One of the things Carolyn said is that even if the owner says ‘no, that doesn’t make sense,’ often times it will eventually make sense, the owners don’t know about it yet, or it is the animal’s perspective.
I spoke to Cheryl our chiropractor, who has taken this seminar, and she said I could talk to her male PRT Spot anytime I want – apparently he will talk to anyone. Cheryl said the big thing is you must trust yourself and write down what you are hearing/thinking. She also said it is important to practice.
I think it is really hard for people to trust themselves.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We started out in the control pen and we did a small bit of fetching and then an exercise I am not quite sure what to call - it is a balance exercise. We are fetching, I walk through the sheep, have Bug get around in the other direction, I pivot and walk backwards - where my dogs was. Rinse and repeat.
We also worked on Bug's "That'll do" which had been decent and now sucks. Every time I say "That'll do" Bug is diving for the sheep. So, Diane had me toss my rake between Bug and the sheep. I explained that I am a TERRIBLE thrower and she suggested practicing. She also helped me out by tossing a rake for me. A couple of times I was able to step on the line and Bug corrected himself quickly. We'll have to keep working on this!
Diane noticed that Bug was getting bored so off we went to the big field. First we moved the sheep that were hanging out there into their pen. Then we moved the three sheep we were working into the big field. We started with a nice outrun and did some fetching. For the first time, I did not walk backwards while fetching! And Bug did not push the sheep past me. good boy!!
Then Diane had us do a ASCA Started course. Wow! Through 2 panels (no more than 10' apart) around another panel turn around go past the single panel and through the 2 panels. Throw in a down or stop. Bug did a great job.
We did this again and then Diane had me pen the one heavy sheep in our group of three so that Bug could work with the lighter sheep. She thought that would be more fun for him (and boy, was she right!). Penning the heavy sheep of three sheep was tough for us. In part because Bug wasn't holding his stay when I went to unhook the gate. He was, however, much better than our last lesson. It makes sense to me that a stay with sheep is tougher for him - the rules are so ambiguous. Sometimes it is okay if he breaks his stay - sometimes it isn't. It all depends and where I am, where the sheep are, how he's moving when he breaks.
We worked some more on outruns and fetching. It became very clear that Bug favors "Go by" (clockwise) and really doesn't like to go Away (counter-clockwise). To date we have been practicing them fairly equally. We need to start practicing Away MUCH more so that Bug becomes more comfortable and doesn't resist it as much.
It was an excellent lesson. The only downer is that Bug was stiff in the evening. I think in part that is because he worked for a SOLID uninterrupted hour. We usually work in 15 - 20 minute intervals. Wow! And he never quit. What a great boy.
The reason the stiffness is a downer - other than the obvious - is I have noticed that he appears stiff in the front after herding lately. It typically appears within 6 - 10 hours of herding and he looks stiff getting up from laying down and has some difficulty jumping up on the bed. I massage and give him Traumeel. The next day he is fine.
As you all know from reading my blog, I am paranoid about my dogs' health and my chiropractor Cheryl recommended a rehab vet that quite a few other corgi people I know have used.
So I went on Columbus Day with the Bug.
Basically Bug's bicipital tendons (bilaterally) are tender (left more than right). Dr. M said at this point there is no scar tissue - it is just tender. They gave me a slew of exercises and massage techniques to do 3 x a week to prevent it from getting any worse and becoming bicipital tendonitis. She said given the starting and stopping a dog does in herding it could be a fairly typical injury.
We have been doing our exercises religiously and have seen NO stiffness after trialing in agility or running off leash on hikes. However, I knew the real test would be herding.
Yesterday's stiffness was, I truly feel, in large part due to the amount of time Bug worked. However, to be on the safe side I have scheduled an appointment with the physical therapist to make sure I am doing the massage techniques correctly. I am supposed to do something called "friction massage" ON the tendon. I am afraid perhaps I am missing the right spot. So on Thursday I will do Bug's stretching and massage in real-time and the therapist will critique my technique.
Cathy, the physical therapist, said she is not surprised he was stiff after working an hour. She said a soft-tissue injury can take months to heal. She suggested that I make sure we only work in 15 - 20 minute intervals next week. She said she was sure I would see a major difference working in intervals. I asked if I should stop herding and she said absolutely not. I am relieved because Bug ADORES herding. It is amazing to me how much more strenuous herding is on the dog's body. The rehab vet commented on what a "hard body" Bug is. She said he had tremendous muscles! That is all due to herding.
There you have it, that is the herding update. I have a herding fool, without a doubt!