Monday, December 28, 2009

Changing Vets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday Night Agility Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays

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

Bug in the Snow

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Traveling with Dogs

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

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

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

Temperament info?

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Serendipity and Agility Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday Night Agility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Very Bad Ike

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

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

So, what to do?

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

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

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

I am really down about this.

Herding in the Snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday Night Classes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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