Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Boone last night was amazing. For half the night. The first half of class was awesome- he was a weaving machine, only missed one "off side" entry, and got all the hard entries I could throw at him. He was fast, and didn't pop any poles. We ran two sequences with some discrimination, and a dreaded threadle. He was still focused, and having fun. The second half of the class he said he couldn't possibly. The train went by at that moment (well, actually it stopped) and we were on the side of the field closer to the highway. I totally lost him. No focus, shaking, spinning. And I couldn't get him back. Which is unsual. Most of the time I can get him focused and happy again with a few tricks, nose touches, and spins. Not so last night. Sigh. He is such a brilliant little dog and runs so well ....sometimes. I truly can't wait until we move indoors this winter. Everyone else hates it- but I like it because I can work with the "not scared of the traffic noises" dog. Only one more month.
I brought Wicca last night and did about 10 half frames, and two full frames. I think she is doing great. She is still relying on the "okay" for the release, and my movement- but hey, when we first started she wouldn't release at all, and last time she went to her 2on2off three times. Last night only once. There is progress, and I am on the right track. Again I forgot to take the hoop home last night. I am going to write a note on my freakin' hand.
We have a one day trial this weekend- we won't be ready to use our new contact so I will have to just quick release her...if I was a really good trainer I would pull her and only run classes where she didn't have to do the frame. But I'm not that person....
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I've had two sessions with Wicca and her new running A-Frame.
Last night I did five reps of her about a foot or so from the end of the a-frame. "Okay, Run" are the words I am saying right now. Without the Okay there is no way she is leaving the A-frame. She is convinced it is a trick and can't possibly leave her position....
I need to work more on the hoop away from the frame so she understands better what I want. I want her to think "see hoop run." Right now she is thinking. "This is a trick. I know it. But if she says okay, I guess I can go. "
I also need to work on my timing of the click, oh, and the throwing of the toy. Apparently I can't throw it closer than 20 feet.
Wicca and I don't do change very well.....but we are slogging through and I think once we get it down and I can get the words spat out in a reasonable tone, and time we'll be all good. In the mean time we are fairly entertaining.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Years ago when I first got Kate a trainer friend told me that same thing. We get the dogs we deserve, and each dog has so much to offer. I didn't really get what she meant then...I sure do now.
When I got Kate I wasn't a dog trainer. I was a dog owner who was trying desperately to get through to her dog. To establish confidence, and train her to be an Obedience and Agility dog. Kate taught me so much about dogs in general, behaviour, and patience. At the time I didn't appreciate the challenge. I wanted a dog that could just get out there and do it. But looking back, I am a better dog trainer because of her.
When I got Wicca I had a plan. That plan backfired and then sped away. :o) The stuff I learnt about patience and training with Kate came in very useful. Wicca taught me not to rush, and not skip the good stuff. She taught me how to run, and how to be a better handler. Wicca has given me so much freedom and was a well needed break from the challenge of Kate.
Sam was the perfect dog. I had him for a short time, not nearly long enough. But it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to train a dog who is already perfect. He had only minor issues, and was a dream to train. Quick, Smart, and Eager. Perfect. I deserved him for longer.
Vito has taught me the most important thing. Accept the dog that you have. You cannot make a dog love something they don't. Pushing, Bribing, and Hoping are not effective tools to get a dog to do what you want. With Vito I have learned to lay off. Period. He does things on his own terms and I do not push. Ever. We had some serious relationship issues because of my desire to make him play agility. I laid off. He is happy in his role of house dog with the occasional outing. I love him for who is he is, not for what I wanted him to be.
Boone needed me as much as I needed him. I needed a distraction, and he needed to learn to live in the real world. This dog has taught me to laugh. To lighten up and enjoy the moment. Again the patience I learned with Kate came into play, but this time I could see the light. Boone always had the "want" but didn't know how. He has taught me to be a better problem solver, and how to look to the heart of the dog.
Pixel is perfect. Not even kidding. I so deserve this dog. Sure she does the occasional naughty puppy things, but basically she is one of those dogs who just get it. All of the things I did wrong with Wicca I am doing right with Pixel and the pay off is amazing. It is like a breath of fresh air sometimes. A dog who never questions, and just does. If I've taught her correctly she will do it. Every Single Time. Like I said, I deserve this dog.
Without these dogs I wouldn't be the person, or the dog trainer I am today. They have each taught me so much, and with each of them I have grown as an owner, and as a trainer.
Thanks Loretta, for reminding me to appreciate what I have, and more importantly what they've taught me.
The demo went pretty good- we weren't running it, just participating so it wasn't as well organised as it could have been- but hey, it was nice to not have to haul equipment! The Go Dog Go dogs all ran really well and as usual Wicca had a blast. She loves the straight line, take whats in front of you kind of agility. :o)
At the last minute I was also asked to provide a dog for a demo of the Canine Good Neighbor test. Ha! Good thing I brought Pixel!!!!
Pixel did great and passed each stage with flying colors. I had never practiced for this sort of thing, and really had forgotten what each "test" entailed. But she did each part of the test like a pro. It is not a particularly difficult test- just basic obedience and listening skills. Being "examined" and groomed, recovering after loud noises, or weird sights, meeting people, loose leash walking, walking through a crowd of people, a stay and recall, and being left with a "stranger" for a few minutes (she only had to do it for 20 seconds)
None the less I am pretty proud of her- she is such a great little dog. I got lots of compliments on how well behaved she is and she did great with all the people and other dogs as a distractions.
Wicca would have failed miserably I am sure. Good thing for the young dog! I might just have to enter her in the real thing this fall...
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This was my submission for this weeks 52 weeks project.
Pixel is in training to be an agility dog one day, and had a great time watching all the "grown up" dogs compete this weekend.
Part of my 52 weeks project is to showcase her growth, and life. I thought this was very fitting.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
My issue these days is Wiccas health and safety. I worry a lot about the impact agility has on her body. You all saw the photo from a few weekends ago....she is very fast, and has no concern for her own well being.
My job as her owner and trainer is to keep her safe or to train her in a way that will not harm her. Having stopped two on/two off contacts on the A-Frame is not safe for Wicca.
The debate of running versus stopped contacts has been an ongoing one. I've read with interest the articles in Clean Run and have watched DVDs and You tube videos of all the different methods out there. I have always been a firm believer of stopped contacts. I feel that it is the method that is most clear to the dog what is expected of them. I also think it is the most consistent.
But- for my dogs long term health I am going to change to a running on the frame. I will be keeping my 2o2o on the dogwalk- the impact is far less than the frame and there is no possible way I will ever be able to beat her across the dogwalk.
So- my plan is to teach Wicca a seperate cue that means to run off. I think there needs to be a cue as without something she will default to her stopped contact. I am going to use "run" which will mean to keep going.
I am going to teach this on the ground with a hoop first, and then backchain the a-frame. It will be a couple months of retraining before I can put it to use.
In the mean time I am quick releasing. Which I hate as I think (know) it dilutes my bottom cue quite a lot and she starts pushing them all...but until she understands the new behaviour I need to do something...
Wish me luck- I have never taught running contacts before so this should be interesting. Unfortunately this will also make her faster which means that I will have to be faster....not sure how that's going to work but we'll see!
I'm behind in my blogging because I've been so busy- but I promise to have some interesting blog posts tomorrow and Friday...in the mean time here is a picture of Pixel from a few weekends ago. She has lost almost all of her coat so she looks like a puppy right now.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
We had a great weekend in Medicine Hat- yet again my my dogs ran awesome, our GDG students rocked, and overall it was a fabulous weekend.
Except for the weather that is. Saturday it was 35 degrees celsius. That's hot. It was windy, which helped a bit- but mostly it was hot. Sunday it was cold. Like 6 degrees Celsius and pouring rain. I of course did not bring a jacket and had only one sweater. Andrea took pity on me and offered me a rain poncho (i.e blue garbage bag) It would have been pretty humorous except we were sooooo cold. Thankfully the rain stopped mid day and the sun even came out.
The dogs ran so well.
Boone takes center stage for this post. Oh. My. God. I LOVE this dog. He did SO well. He had some amazing runs and two times over the weekend I had to hold back the tears after a run. Wow.
In the first Advanced Standard on Saturday he had a wicked run- smooth and effortless. It gave me goosebumps. We had the FASTEST TIME OF ALL OF ADVANCED. Serious. Boone. I was so excited for him! This is his second Advanced leg.
He rocked the first gamble too and racked up 70 points, and got the gamble.
On Sunday he got a second gamble Q- this time barely squeaking by point wise- he was a little flaky and had a hard time with the mini gambles. But I was so proud that he was able to pull it together. He moves up to MASTERS Gamblers for his next trial. Cool eh?
The last event on Sunday was snooker- and he totally rocked. We did FOUR 7's! Something I only do with Wicca on occasion. But he did it- and it was the same path I took with Wicca essentially. Not only did we do four sevens, but we made it all the way to the end. 59 points. Perfect. It doesn't get any better than that!
It wasn't all rosy with him though- he had a bit of a melt down in the rain and WOULD NOT lay down on the table in the puddle. I had to physically make him. But he recovered and finished the run. We also had a 12 point snooker run. :o) But wow. He is just the most amazing dog. To see him so confident and enjoying himself is just the best feeling.
Wicca had a stellar weekend- she is running so well these days...
Gamble 1- had a nice opening, and nailed the gamble- she had 92 points in total. Q
Gamble 2- had an AMAZING opening- 63 points in the opening alone and was the ONLY dog to do the mini gamble twice. However she knocked the bar going into the gamble so we didn't get the Q- but wow- that was SUCH a great run.
Sundays Snooker. We did four 7's, and almost had it for a Q- but she went back into the wrong tunnel. It was a nice course though, and she listened. Like actually paid attention to where I was sending her. It was nice to have that connection on a snooker course, so even without the Q I am proud of that run!
She had very minimal bar knocking- some ticking, but nothing major. Also she didn't injure herself in the poles. I also did something different with the a-frame, which will be a blog post all it's own later this week...
our steeplechase run on sunday was amazing. it was such a rush and was SO fast. it was not an easy course either and I really had to haul ass to get to where i needed to be. I am so proud of that run- it was perfect. She ran it in 32 seconds and had the fastest time of ALL THE DOGS. Serious. My little dog. WOW. This was her 12th Steeplechase Q...
Her 10 point Snooker run on Saturday. I was actually not even really annoyed at the time..but geez.
The challenge course. This was the first time I've run one- it was interesting- really tight course with LOTS of off course options, a fast time, and it is LONG- 23 obstacles. It was not a very pretty run and we made a pretty good mess of it...Sarah also called me last night to inform me that when she watched the videos she noticed that wicca MISSED her dogwalk contact. Wicca NEVER does that...
The cool- Jolayne ran her in jumpers for me and did awesome- she had two bars but Jo handled her very well and it was neat to get to watch. I love Wicca's tail when she runs. AND wow- is she fast!
Vito also got to run once and he did so good. I entered him in Gamblers and he racked up 31 points in his opening! Which means that he actually ran, and he took direction. He is so cute this dog. We didn't get the actual gamble because I lost him! He was right beside me and then he was gone- visiting the judge...I told him how wonderful he was anyway- visiting the judge is a good thing when you are Vito.
I took Pixel out lots this weekend- and we played and did some training in the extreme weather. She is getting more and more confident with her jumping and it was very apparent on the weekend.
Our students totally kicked butt- sarah said that between all the GDG people (11 I think) we had 45 Q's or something ridiculous! Crazy eh? Sarah will update the Go Dog Go blog later today or tomorrow with the final count.
The Go Dog Go set up...
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
On the way home from the Kimberley trial Wendy, Cindy and I were discussing normal. Wendy said I am not normal. I asked her to give me a reason.
"You have four dogs"
"You work, and live for your dogs"
I told her that I was insulted. Of course I am normal.
I have four dogs in a small house. I spend every spare penny I have on dog stuff, or trials. I Have no spare time left because it is all spent with the dogs. I Spend four nights a week teaching other peoples dogs. I Have no friends outside of dog friends. Have nothing else to really talk about except dogs. I Have Corgi figurines and such in my house displayed with pride. All the pictures etc on my walls are of my dogs, or dog related. I have four dogs to share my bed, and four dogs to share the couch with. I have to Vacuum once a day to keep the hair downl. I often check my drinks and food for stray hair. I read dog blogs everyday and search the internet for new and interesting dog sites. I work at a dog daycare. I hear barking in my sleep. My cell phone and computer wallpaper is a picture of my dogs. I rarely take photos that are not dog related, I carry photos of my dogs in my wallet....the list could go on and on.
Those are all normal things, that lots of people do.
In all seriousness I do consider myself mostly normal. I am only a little quirky, and bossiness is a normal trait. Right?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
This past weekend on the gamble she got stuck in the poles, and yelped. The angle wasn't super awful but I think she tried to collect for the poles and slid. From what my friends said she slammed her shoulder/neck into the poles and then her body flung into the other pole. Poor Woo. We stopped of course to make sure she was okay, and I kept an eye her for any soreness later on. This picture was snapped by my friend michelle. I can't remember which course it was- but look at her....totally psycho.
Her second attempt to injure herself was on a standard. She had so much speed and momentum that she flew over the top of the a-frame, touched the down side once, and jumped into position (2on2off) Ugh. I saw her out of the corner of my eye and was horriified. Geez. Wendy even managed to get a photo. You can almost see her legs quivering in this photo.
Someone commented after one of my runs and asked if I was scared because she runs so fast, and so hard. I said yes.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Wicca got her MAD (masters agility dog) title!
I cannot even begin to express how exciting this is for me. I have NEVER had a dog with a MAD, nor did I ever think that Wicca and I would get there. I mean, she is an amazingly fast dog- but we crash and burn often enough to make things like a MAD, or an ATCH one of those dreams that seem so far away.
The course we got it on was not an easy one either and I had to work super hard. She ran it in 42 seconds, and we smoked it. We've needed this one standard Q for a long while, and I was thrilled that she got it at this trial. We got a nice fancy ribbon, and it was great that all my friends were there to tell Wicca how wonderful she is. :o)
Boone has exciting news of his own- he earned not one, but two titles this weekend! He qualified in 6 out of 8 runs. Pretty amazing to think that two years ago he was a nervous mess. He earned his ADC (Agility Dog of Canada) and his Starters Games title with a Snooker Q. Boone was excited and focused the whole weekend, and ran like he never has at a trial before. He was confident and his tail was going the whole time. He was always SO excited when it was his turn- It was an amazing feeling to run him.
Vito also wanted to let everyone know that he ran TWO courses and did a pretty great job. He had a great gamble opening with lots of points, and missed the gamble only because I forgot that he needs more oomph to send to a tunnel. His jumpers round was very cute- he was running pretty fast, and only got distracted when he sniffed out his favorite person (Wendy) and then had to go visit the timers...yes, my scared little dog went to visit!
oh, and Pixel says that she was still the cutest dog there, even though there was a pretty cute baby pembroke pup....
I am so proud of my dogs. There were some not so easy courses, and they all did very well
Here's the breakdown (more for me, than for you...)
Gamble- 48 points- she got STUCK in the weave poles in the gamble and even yelped. I pulled her off course to make sure she was okay. Just about gave me a heart attack!
Std. 1- 42.09 (69.00 sct) amazing. Q!- earned her MAD
Std. 2- E- 15 faults...three bars I believe
Snooker 1- I can't remember this...but we got whistled off pretty quick
Snooker 2- 45 points. she knocked the second red so I had to think on my feet. She rocked it though, and I was super proud of that run. Q!
Steeplechase- it was loopy, but so doable. it was pretty disasterous...all my fault of course.
JUMPERS- we did totally awesome. no bars, perfect. and then I forgot where number 11 was..so we had an off course, but we recovered and ran the rest clean.
Adv. Gamble- 90 POINTS!!!! Q! woohoo!
St. Standard- 50.41- great run- he was so excited and DOVE into the weave poles. ADC!
Adv. Standard- can't remember what happened. he had weave issues...
Adv. Standard 52.41 Q! I was so proud of this run. I thought he had gotten a refusal on the table, but I guess his little table detour was far enough away!
Steeplechase- did pretty good- but had weave pole issues- he is jumping the base at 6 poles...
St. Snooker- 50 points! Q! his last starters game- earning him his Starters Game Dog Title
Adv. Snooker- 38 points- Q! by one point!! we finished all the way to seven. It was a good plan!
Adv. Jumpers- last run of the weekend and he did great- he was a little pokey, but ran clean and had fun. Q!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
i LOVE scruffy dogs.
Carter is a Picardy Shepherd or Berger Picard. He is 12 weeks old and was recently imported to Canada from France. He is a beautiful little puppy- and has the most amazing expression.
The Picardy Shepherd is a French Herding dog. They grow to be about 25 inches tall, and a long and lean. They have almost a terrier type coat that doesn't shed much, but will need grooming. The breed is not reccomended for first time owners- typical of herding breeds they need a job, and can be head strong. Carter is no exception and had a little tantrum that lasted almost 5 minutes... :o)
He has lots of growing up to do, and it will be so neat to be able to see him grow and develop. I've jokingly told his owner that I am now his stalker. I LOVE this puppy....
Monday, September 07, 2009
Wicca and I had a great weekend. She was SUCH a good girl.
She did however manage to knock a bar each round except for two. BUT- she got every weave entrance, and didn't have one off course, or one awful run. She was perfect every single time.
Std 1- ONE knocked bar
Std 2- knocked first bar
JWW 1- knocked last bar
JWW 2- clean
Std 3- two knocked bars
Std 4- clean
INT. JWW- one knocked bar
INT. JWW- two? knocked bars
We struggle sometimes on the teamwork aspect of trialing, and this past weekend was great for us. She had awesome contacts- only came off the teeter once, and otherwise stuck them good. Her bar knocking wasn't bad really. The courses are really open, flowy and fast. Like 18 seconds. When she is running flat out like that well, she jumps flat. Also, she was jumping two inches higher than her normal height. She tried very hard to keep them up though, and compared to the mass destruction that we can get I am pretty thrilled with her. She didn't have one melt down, and I handled her really well.
She did manage to move up to Intermediate Jumpers w/ Weaves for Sunday- so it was nice to do a course or two that actually required some thinking...the courses were very easy, and simple. Sunday's were more challenging and there were some pretty interesting weave entries.
The trip was well worth it- I think it was good for Wicca to be able to open up and have a chance to really go. We had lots of fun, and it was neat to see some different dogs than usual.
Kim had a fabulous weekend with her Berners. That Bosley is such a great dog- he worked hard all weekend, and Maggie had some nice runs too. The weather was perfect for them, cool/windy/rainy off and on.
Kim was bit twice by wasps on Sunday just as we were packing up to leave. She was rushed by ambulance to the hospital as she is allergic to bees, and started swelling up. It was pretty scary for her. But- she is okay, and after sitting in the hallway of a hospital for 45 minutes she was feeling much better and we headed home. Thanks to everyone who helped out, and a really big thanks to Julia and Pat!!! Not sure what we would have done without you!
We got home super late, and I am very tired still. Thankfully today is a holiday and I was able to sleep in!
Friday, September 04, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
For this weeks 52 Weeks photo challenge I was inspired by a local celebration. The bridge behind Pixel is turning 100 years old this week. The High Level Bridge is the highest longest train bridge in the world. The city is having a party in it's honor, and will have it deocorated and lit up on Saturday evening.
I really am pleased with how this photo turned out. Oddly enough it was pretty windy when I was out there taking the photo and I think the wind blown look adds to the photo.
Pixel is standing on top of the car :o) She is so short that even on a bench the bridge was not noticeable...
For more information on the bridge-
Tuesday I took Wicca and did some handling. Rear Crosses specifically. She did VERY well when I was handling her correctly. Some days my head just isn't there, and that's how the night started. I really need to work on my timing. But I pulled it together and am pretty happy with her. We also did some weave entry work. She still struggles with an open entry, and needed help a few times- but there is progress as she is actually trying now, and not just missing.
I brought Boone on Tuesday night aswell and worked on Handling, and Weaves. He is a very smooth dog to handle, and did the rear cross exercises better than Wicca! He loves to jump, and was able to stay focused during his turns. We also worked on weaves, and he is doing 12 poles pretty reliably. He popped out at 10 once, but is getting his entries.
Pixel's class was last night. She is doing so well. We are back chaining her contacts right now and I am very impressed with how well she is driving into position. We also did a small bit of sequencing last night and she did great- lots of forward focus. She is so cute that I find myself watching her a lot during class. Will have to work on that. :o) I have been making sure to alternate rewards (food/tug) throughout the class and she will take whatever I present her with. (Yay!)
I am going to bring Vito out to class next Tuesday. I want to get him on the contacts once more before next week. I've been puttering in the yard with some jumps and some handling. Unfortunately for the other dogs all the toys will be going away in the house on Monday. I need to be his only source of fun. I have him entered in two events next weekend- a jumpers, and a gamblers. I think that mentally he should be able to handle it. And he may even enjoy himself!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
She is aging pretty gracefully, and is doing pretty good healthwise for an old dog (especially a shepherd!) She is a beautiful old dog.
A few months ago she was diagnosed with Pannus. Which is an eye disease that will eventually cause complete blindness. It is known as a "German Shepherd Disease" that typically affects much younger dogs- but we don't really know how long she has had it for. The symptoms only started a few months ago- but she could have had it for years. The disease causes lesions that eventually cover the eye. It hit her hard, and by the time we had it under control she has lost the vision in her right eye, and has very limited vision in her left. She is adjusting well though, and carries on just like she always has.
Other than that she doesn't act or look her age at all- she can be a bit stiff at time, but her arthritis is managed with supplements. She has a few odd lumps and bumps, but nothing major. Her teeth aren't great, but she still has a great appetite, and her heart is strong.
Kate and I have been through a lot. I got Kate when I was a teenager, and she was the first dog that I had trained from puppyhood. I did a lot of wrong things with that dog, but I sure learned lots! It is because of her that I switched to more positive methods, and she has taught me more about dog behavior than any of my other dogs. She was a great dog despite her social issues. Kate has been plagued her whole life with severe anxiety and fear issues. She would panic if left alone, and would panic if you brought her. We worked through her issues, and she did pretty well most of the time.
She played agility, and obedience for me. Because I asked her to, not because she enjoyed it. We got a CD, and made it to Advanced level in Agility before I retired her. I wasn't having fun, and she wasn't having fun anymore, so what was the point. Our relationship improved alot after that, and I was able to enjoy her for who she was, not what I wanted her to be.
Kate lives full time at my parents and is enjoying retired life. Lazy morning and evening walks, wrestling with her good buddy Drewdre, killing the occasional toy, napping on the couch and sleeping at the foot of my parents bed. That is the life of an old dog. :o)
I go over and see her usually three times a week and play some light fetch, cuddle on the couch or go to the park so she can roll in the grass. She will get a new toy in honor of her birthday- something with lots of stuffing so she can rip it out and leave it laying around my parents house. Maybe I'll buy her something with a loud squeak too....
Happy Birthday Kate!