Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a Quick Update

Wicca playing at the beach on Ottawa River near the Quebec Border....

Check out the Go Dog Go Agility blog for updates on our trip!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leaving on Jet Plane

I told Vito that I am leaving him for 8 days. He was sad.

And then I told him he was going to Wendy and Marlins house.

He thought he'd better practice his toy stealing/tugging maneuvers...

If you want updates while I am gone don't forget to check out the Go Dog Go Blog

Wish Us Luck!!!


The goal was to succesfully train the chicken to peck a target. Placement of Reward, Rate of Reinforcement, and Timing of the click are all key to getting this.

On top of all of that, there was the chicken. Some hadn't been handled at all, and were reluctant participants. Others, were uber smart chickens and very food motivated. Oh, and I should mention I had never actually touched a chicken before. I was a bit nervous about it. Kim however was a pro and was the first to grab her chicken out of the crate.

We were split into pairs, and each person had two chickens to rotate through.

Before the chickens came out we practiced our "click and delivery" - it is much harder than you'd think as you have to be careful not to spill any or the chickens will just eat off the ground.

The next step was to get the bird on the table, and relaxed. So we fed them from the cups. My black bird figured this out right away. My brown bird not so much.

Once the chicken was comfortable on the table we introdcued them to the target, and the click. We started shaping our chickens to peck the target. Kim had the most success out of all of us. After just a few turns she figured out that the target is what was earning her the food. She got to the point where we introduced a colored target (red) and the next step would have been to teach her discrimination between the colors. It was very interesting to see the chickens thinking about it. Kim's chicken was moving all over the table wherever the target went- she followed.

My own chickens didn't fair as well. My black chicken did figure it out at the end- but she was a total gawker, any noise or movement and she'd forget what she was doing. I joked that I got the Flatcoat of the Chicken world. :o) I had to lower my criteria back to basic each turn as she didn't seem to remember where we left off the turn before. So each turn was started with rewarding a look or head bob towards the target. But I was getting solid pecks at the end. My brown chicken ended up not even willing to take berries from me- never mind the chicken feed. She was a wash out. :o(

Kim's Brown Chicken

It was a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon. Donna showed us a video of Bob Bailey's about the history behind Operant Conditioning and it was neat to see the progression and how it was used. The actual training of the chickens was fun, and I am looking forward to going again. It really is a great way to fine tune your timing, and rate of reinforcement. I can see how it would benefit all clicker trainers as you really have to be super aware of what exactly you are rewarding. I was rewarding my chicken for being precise and careful- whereas Kim was getting frantic, target throwing, pecks. We had to get a replacement at one point because Kim's black chicken ripped it almost in half!

I will totally be up for going again- even though I smelled like a barn and had to have two showers to get rid of the chicken smell... :o)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


So I am a complete nerd and had a party for Pixel. Well, it wasn't really a party as much as it was a chance for the dogs to play while we visited. Everyone had lots of fun- there was lots of fetching, wrestling, and playing. And there was cake! There was cake for dogs, and cake for people!

I didn't get very many good photos. They were moving pretty fast, and I was visiting and stuff. But here are the best ones!

neena the border collie
sophie the baby vizsla, and Sun'ar the cardigan.
Kort the collie and baby Sophie checking out the castle
Lacey, looking very giant!!
Jolene and Perkins were cuddling, and then Lacey came in for kisses..
Snap, a baby greyhound who is LOOKING FOR A HOME. She is available through PDCR rescue...
Esmae, and her baby blue eyes. She is an aussie pup.
and Kort- looking very happy with himself!

Pixel says thanks to everyone who came, and for the fun toys and goodies!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

If Looks Could Kill

Pixel was not impressed with her party hat. I think she looks cute. She disagrees.

Happy Birthday

I can't believe she is a year old. Wow. She has been a great little dog, and I feel very lucky to have her.

Happy Birthday Pixely....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Clicker training Chickens

Ever since I heard about Bob Baileys Chicken Camp I've wanted to go.

You think Timing, Criteria and Rate of Reinforcement are important with a dog? It is even more important with a Chicken. I think that by working on getting your timing right, and actually breaking down complex behaviors even more will make better dog trainers of us all. The Chickens can't really be influenced by pressure, or tone. It is all about the science behind the training.

No, I am not going to a Bob Bailey Chicken Camp. I wish. But my friend has gone to his clinics, and now has chickens at her place. She has invited a few people out to play. I am so excited.

Saturday afternoon, instead of packing for my trip I am going to clicker train a chicken or two...how fun!

I found a great article on the Clicker Solutions website about Chicken Camp and what it really means...

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Yes. I will be bringing my camera. :o)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Dreameyce posted this on her blog, and not to be a copycat, but well, I love the message, and I think that the more it is spread the better.

I love pit bulls. I would own a pit bull. but then i would live in fear. one day my dog could be taken away from me- just because of what she is. I wouldn't be able to travel. Imagine not being able to take your dog on holidays with you. Or having to put a muzzle on the dog to go for a walk. Owning a pitbull is a huge responsibility. That dog would have to be on her best behavior everywhere, all the time. There is no room for error when the whole world is waiting, watching for you to snap. I couldn't deal with the stares, the fear in people, and the issues that would arise when I defended the dog i love. I don't think I have the heart to do it.

I love and admire the breed and Pitties will always have a soft spot in my heart for them. I can't resist saying to hi to any I see on the street, and am always on the lookout for cuteness. But it is highly unlikely that I will ever get to own one.

Not to get into the whole breed specific ban, but it's a bunch of Bullsh*t frankly, and i have no patience for anyone who judges a whole breed based on a few bad owners. I am with dogs ALL DAY LONG. Big groups of them. The best "Greeter" is a pitbull. A cute little dog that I would take home in a heartbeat (he is much loved however, and has a great home) It is funny to me that the some (if not most) people who are afraid of the breed have never even met one. Serious. I can tell you I've had far worse experiences with shih tzu's and cockers than Pitbulls. It is all about the owner. There are bad dogs in every breed. A good owner makes a great dog, and a bad one, well what do you think happens??

Anyway, off my soapbox now, Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Best We Can

Wicca and I just got home from the best training session we've had in weeks.

We worked on everything on my short list and ran three sequences perfect- the first time. No bars, no bad handling. It was an amazing feeling. Her start lines were solid, and she is definitely paying attention to me. Our threadle, serp, and 270's were nearly perfect. My lead out pivots were mostly well timed, and we had a good connection tonite. I am so proud of her, and of me.

It is a feeling that I have missed the past few weeks. Like my heart wasn't in it or something. I didn't know what was missing, or why I was feeling so blah and stressed. But now, that it finally worked..I discovered the answer.

This morning I spent a few minutes emailing a friend advice in an effort to calm her down about Nationals. She was stressed about it, and how big her class is, and just being at such a large event. In my advice to her I found the answer to my own issues.

I am competing against myself. My goals are just that. My goals. They have nothing to do with any other dog.

I am doing this because it is fun. My dog loves it- screw ups or not. It is a great experience- one that many never get the chance to feel.

My dog is what she is. At this point (6 days before we leave) nothing is going to change. I need to handle her the way she is now, not the way that I wished she was. I will handle for my dog and what we understand as a team together.

These small pieces of advice that I gave out so freely really made me think about it. My little dog is amazing. She is a great dog, and has tremendous skill and heart. I have a good handle on her. I understand how to break down and walk a course. I am confident in my ability, and will keep calm and focused. We will be just fine, and we will do the best we can. That's all we can really ask for isn't it?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sport of Choice

Katrin at "By My Side Blog" posted a good conversation starter, not sure where it orginally came from, but thought I'd pass it on to my readers.

What got you into your sport of choice...why that one, why not another type of dog sport? What else have you tried, but don't care for? What haven't you tried but would like to?

Agility is my sport of choice. The first time I ever tried it was at a seminar put on by my dog club. I was about 14 or so, and my dog LOVED it. I still love it to this day- I think what I love most about it is the teamwork that is involved. It is also a good testament to your own skill- and doesn't rely just on the dog to do the job. The training is so broken down, and so specific. It is a great challenge.

I have tried LOTS of other dog sports-

Scenthurdle Racing was something I loved. Wicca also loved this game and never made a mistake. It was fun to train, and fun to race. Scent is slowly dying though, and there isn't enough interest in my area for a team. :o(

Sheepherding. My dogs love it (or at least Wicca USED to) and I remember the first time Wicca was on sheep. It was breathtaking and I got goosebumps. I will never compete in herding- I don't have the time or the inclination to train as often as I would have to. But we do enjoy playing once in a while.

Obedience. Competitive Obedience was my first love. I love the precision, the training, and the competing. Agility is much more fun I must admit, and I just don't have the time to do both seriously. But we dabble, and one day I will get Wicca's UD title...(first we have to get that darn CDX) I think what turned me off a bit is how competitive the other people get. Some are so hard core, and actually hurt their dogs in order to win. I just don't get that kind of competition, and I don't like to be around people who are like that.

Rally Obedience. When Rally first came to Canada I totally made fun of it. Really. I thought it was a joke, and made fun of how easy it was. And then I tried it, and then my dogs liked the fact that I could talk to them, and it was less rigid than regular obedience. And will you look at that- it's even challenging! I do enjoy rally now, and will continue to play when I have the opportunity.

Conformation. I showed Wicca for a while, but promptly gave up when I realised I was paying for her littermates Championship...I still like it though, and will one day have another dog I can show. I like it because it takes little training, and it's something that a young, young dog can do. I don't like the snobby handlers, and the politics that go along with said handlers.

Flyball. I only played briefly years, and years ago with my old dog Tina. It's just not my thing I guess. I cringe whenever I see the dogs hit the box (even with a swimmers turn) and can't see myself ever playing the game with my current breed.

Drafting. I played around with my parents Rottweiler cross, and even participated in a few parades. It was fun, but I don't intend on ever owning a dog big enough to do it.

Go To Ground/Earthdog. I LOVED watching this at the Jack trials. If I owned a terrier I would for sure let them play. This is a sport that doesn't need much in the way of training, as it relies on instinct rather than a trained behavior.

I have been a helper for Field stuff- and it totally grosses me out. But as long as I can throw with gloves I don't mind helping! I don't think that I would do it seriously/trial even if I owned a kick ass sporting dog...it's too icky. Wicca doesn't mind the fake birds though!

Tracking. I haven't ever gotten far with this. I don't have the know how, and I can't have time for everything. I was hopeful that I would start Pixel but that hasn't happened, and at this point isn't likely too. Maybe one day! I think this would be a great game for an older dog, or a dog who had to be retired from impact sports.

So friends and readers answer the question...

What got you into your sport of choice...why that one, why not another type of dog sport? What else have you tried, but don't care for? What haven't you tried but would like to?

One Week

In one week Wicca and I will be getting on a plane to fly to Ottawa for the AAC National Championships. The actual event runs from Friday to Sunday, but we are going early to let the dogs settle in, and to give us a few days to check the place out.

This will only be my second time flying. Last year we flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I feel much better about the flight this time around, so have one less thing to worry about. Of course we watch to make sure the dogs are loaded and unloaded- but West Jet took pretty good care of them last time.

This year Sarah's boyfriend Pete is coming, and our friend Jolayne (with Tag the BC) and her husband Aaron. I am looking forward to the whole trip- I've never been to Ontario before and we'll have a few days to sight see before the event starts. I am going to bring my camera and plan to take lots of photos.

The Event itself is very exciting. It is going to be huge- 581 dogs are entered to run. Wow eh??? There are more dogs entered in my division this year, and there is quite a lot of good competition. My goals this year is to place in the middle of the pack. To do that I will need to have two clean runs, and get one gamble. I think that it pretty attainable if I keep my head on straight and stay focused.

I am nervous, but am also confident in me and my dog. We had a great regionals, and we've improved a lot since last year at this time. Looking back on last years Nationals I was VERY nervous. I had never been to a National Event and didn't know what to expect at all. It wasn't nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be, and that gives me comfort for this year.

I am looking forward to seeing what kinds of challenges are going to be presented, spending a week with Friends (even if one of those is Aaron!) and playing with my dog. One Week Left. How exciting.

photos are from Sarah and I's national trip last year- sarah took the bridge photo, and some random stranger took the other one.... :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Agility in the Heat

We had an agility Funmatch Saturday morning, and it was pretty fun. It was very hot, and humid- which is not a very alberta-type weather. We are not used to that. Heat yes, humidity no.

The funmatch was great though. I actually enjoyed myself, and had some good runs with the dogs. We set up a standard and a gamblers from the Saskatchewan Regionals. The courses were fun and straight forward. We modified things for the starters dogs and then ran the "Masters" dogs on the actual course.

Boone's first standard run was pretty awful. I was rushed and didn't warm him up or let him chill at the field. It was pretty much a disaster. The gamble run was awesome though! He got 31 points in his opening and got the main gamble. Woohoo Boonie! His contacts have improved a lot and I he is starting to understand his job no matter my position. His A-frame contact is probably his strongest- with the teeter being the weakest.

Wicca had a pretty good day. Her contacts were actually very good. She popped off the teeter once, but otherwise I made her hold them- and fed her when she was particularily good. :o) The standard was a good course for her- we had two bars, but otherwise it was good. Oh- and a missed weave entry. I was happy with my handling though- I was a bit late on a FC, but otherwise I did a good job. The gamble was fun, although she was a bit frantic. It was hard work to keep her focused and not flying off and doing her own thing. She had me pretty flustered. In the heat of the moment I had some bad handling. like, something i thought i was totally over...and it reared it's ugly head. stupid. I redid it at the end and with proper handling. I worked so hard to fix that bad habit and I was pretty shocked when I did it without thinking. Geesh.

The heat was pretty crappy though. I was super overheated, and I know that Wicca was aswell. I am going to make sure to pack her cooling coat to take to Nationals, and I am going to see if i can find a hat that I don't hate, and one of those cooling neck things for people. I know I've seen them at craft fairs and stuff like that.

Last year at Nationals the weather was pretty perfect- cool, and overcast for most of the weekend. This year it is supposed to be hot!!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Sandy brought along her camera on our walk this evening. So there is now video proof of the obnoxious Vito. He really is a jerk. :o) Good thing he's so cute! and good thing Coulee is so obsessed with the toy she doesn't care!

Oh, and Sadie the smooth fox terrier makes a brief appearance too- her bark is shrill- but thankfully she doesn't bark much!!

Sandy took lots of pictures- I'll upload some tomorrow. The dogs had lots of fun- hopefully Coulee will be tired the rest of the night!

Shaping Games

I like to teach tricks, and I like to clicker train. It's a pretty good combination. I think all dogs should have at least one party trick.

Anyway, Vito's "sad" is the cutest thing ever, and was super easy to teach. So easy in fact that I taught Lacey in five minutes at work a few weeks ago. Having her at my house allowed me even more time to perfect it.

May I present Lacey's Sad.

She doesn't have the same sad expression that Vito gets...I think her tongue, and her crooked teeth make her look like she's smiling rather than being sad.... :o)Perhaps we should rename it "if your happy and you know it slam your chin on the floor...."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Full House

It's kinda fuzzy, but too cute not to post.


that Pixel IS scary cute...

photos by Sarah Novak :o) Thanks Sarah!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scary Smart

Pixel is a thinker. She is what I would call thoughtful. She has a definite process she goes through when learning something new. WATCH. TRY IT. COOKIE?! REPEAT. OKAY! GOT IT.

I started teaching her a formal "hold" the other day. Hold will mean to hang on to the item until I take it from you- a dumbbell eventually.

I start with a thick rope and we play with it, make it fun, make her want to grab it. I click when she closes her mouth around it. Three times I C/T for just grabbing it. Then I didn't click right away. Counted to five. C/T. Three times we did this. Present the rope. Grab. Hold for the count of 8. C/T. I now have a 10 second hold after only one session. That is 15 treats.

I love this dog.

We had our last puppy agility class tonite. We've done SO much with this class- it is kind of sad that it is over. They've all grown (mentally, and physically) so much over the last few months. Pixels foundation is coming along nicely, and I've started small sequencing with jumps/tunnels. She has also started some weave pole training- mostly two poles and she thinks it is pretty fun game! We are still playing teeter games, and are working on our travel board at home for contacts. I have decided to train 2 on 2 off contacts on all three contacts. (that's a whole other post)

We've also been doing quite a lot of obedience stuff lately- her heeling is very nice. I am very pleased with how "up" she is. I've actually taught this dog what stay means without a doubt, and she can hold position in a sit, down, and stand.

Pretty good for a not quite one year old puppy!


So I am completely paranoid that Wicca is lame, going to become lame, going to break a leg, going to become crippled, etc. etc. etc.

I have serious anxiety about this. And it bugs me a lot. It gets in my head, and I sometimes can only think about that. It is hard to train and handle my dog when I am so worried about potential injury. With Nationals in only a few weeks I am even more worried.

My experience with Sam has completely freaked me out. One minute a happy, healthy, active, agile little beast, suddenly injured, and then gone. It broke my heart, and I don't think I could stand it if something happened to Wicca.

Wicca is a very intense dog- she is very fast, and she doesn't care for her body. She has been injured in the past. She is quite often stiff after a weekend of trialing, and even sometimes after training. It is worrisome. I keep her trim, and active. We do lots of conditioning- running, swimming, up hills, down hills, stretches, massage...all in an effort to keep injury at bay.

My handling plays a big role in what Wicca does with her body. A late front cross can cause her to attempt to change leads in the air, slam in to a bar, land and jar her body in an effort to turn the other way. I have become a better handler- so it really takes a load off my mind- but there are instances (like last night) that my handling still causes my dog to be unclear as to where she is going.

Last night I don't even know really what happened but on a handling/jump sequence she came off limping on her right rear leg. She was fine after walking around for a few minutes- and it probably was just a stinger from a bar. But still. The bar came down because of me. Ugh.

Of course I am not to blame for all of her potential injury causing stuff. She slams her body into the upside of the a-frame, and hurls her little body through the weavepoles at breakneck speed, and she is the one who chooses to barely clear the bar. I have tried to fix her a-frame approach, but at this point I don't think I will be able to change much about it.

Physically Corgis aren't the best for this kind of sport- their long backs, short legs, and heavy front end do not help them to jump, bend or twist. Wicca has a pretty good build- she is small for a cardi. Although her high rear, and slightly roached back does not do her an favours. But she loves this sport. More than anything. Nothing makes her happier than agility. As long as she is having fun, and physically is able to play we will continue the game.

I do realise that I am being paranoid, and a bit like an over protective parent. But I have the right and I believe, the reason to worry.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


training tonite went pretty well. wicca missed two turns due to naughty contact performances, but mostly was a good girl. I did lots of breaking things down and rewarding- tight turns, proper contact performance, weaves, and the like. My timing still sucks, but i was feeling kind of "off" tonite so it's most definitely NOT her fault...

I am going to give her the rest of the week off- but we are having a funmatch this weekend that I will run her in. It will be a good opportunity to run a full course.

Next week for training I want to work on Weave entrances (2 and 3 poles only) and handling. I am going to give her the week off from contacts, and full weaves. I worry about so much repetition. All I need is a broken dog.

The Dentist

Hurray for Me!
I went to the dentist yesterday.
I got half a root canal.
And it didn't even hurt.
At all.
I closed my eyes almost the whole time.
Only because I didn't want to see the needles/drills/etc.

Even now, a day later.
Still no pain.
I am waiting for it.
But nothin.

This going to the dentist thing is a big deal for me.
I hate going to the dentist, or the doctor.
My tooth has been hurting for a long time.
Like more than a year.
I'm a procrastinator.
The past four months have been hell.
I've been living on Advil and T3's.
Constant Headaches.
Lots of Ouch.
The whole works.

Hopefully that will be a thing of the past.
No more tooth pain.
Hurray for me!

I go back for the second part after Nationals.
Oh, and now my friends will hopefully stop nagging me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In the Coulees with Coulee...

haha, I couldn't resist.
Anyway, now that's outta my system

I took the Girls (minus Pixel) for an off leash walk with Jolene yesterday afternoon. It was kinda nice without barky-face Vito...

I am dogsitting Coulee and Lacey until Saturday. So far, they're doing great and have settled into my schedule...


Yesterday Sarah and I went for a herding lesson at Phantomridge Border Collies near Okotoks.

It was Pixels first official lesson and she did great! She was a little nervous at first, but quickly remembered how to boss those sheep around. Louanne said she has nice balance, and was very sensible. She looked very cute with those big sheep!

Boone on the other hand was a bit wild. And sneaky! He would be doing well, circling, circling, circling- and then rush in to bite. If we put too much pressure on him he'd wander away un-interested. He got better at the end, and he did have LOTS of fun!

The both worked up a thirst!!!

Thanks to Sarah for the photos!!!