Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Well It's been almost a week- the dogs have all ridden in the vehicle (car, truck, just xterra? what do you call an SUV?) and I am mostly getting the hang of driving a standard. I haven't braved the highway, or the drive-thru at Tim Hortons yet. That will happen this weekend though... ;)
I am quite happy with the layout- Boone, and the two Cardigans ride in crates in the back seat area normally. Boone doesn't like big spaces, and the corgis don't listen so need to be in crates. They think it's cool to jump out of the extra tall vehicle and land on their heads. So crates it is. Controlled exit. I think it will be awesome in the summer too- containing all the wet icky dogs to one area will be great.
So far I am loving it- and I am less nervous driving it as time goes by.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Wicca's vibrant tan points, and her black face are fading more and more. I swear everyday I see more little grey flecks. This past month I noticed her eyebrows are now changing color too!
I remember her "Grama" had a completely white face as an 11 year old dog. Wonder if Wicca is heading that way....
She's still her fiesty self though not to worry. Although I did find a new lump on her side so we'll be getting that checked out shortly...
Monday, January 28, 2013
This is Kit, she belongs to my friend Louanne. I think I've blogged about her before.. And I looked after her litter brother (Try) for a day or so a bit ago.
Kit is here for a mini vacation, and to learn about city life. She has been in training to be a workin' dog, but you can never have too much socialising. I've got her for a few days and so far she has been great! We've been to lots of places, and met lots of new people.
Confidence galore, except in new places which we are working on. She is a nice pup- and today finally the other dogs played with her. She was very happy. Here are some photos from our walk this afternoon.
|no puppies were harmed...|
|she sniffed at this weed for like five minutes. Apparently she has never seen one before. lol|
|Run Free Puppy!!! Well, sort of. Her recall sucks so she was on a long line.|
|her ears have no idea what they are doing...|
|kisses for Brit|
|She loves Leo and will stop and sit with him whenever he stops to stare at stuff..|
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Another herding blog post coming your way. Sorry to the non herding folks. ;)
Brit and Leo both have the same problem. Coincidence? I think not.
Dogs should bend off pressure. Especially soft squishy ones like Brit. Why then does she have a horrible outrun? Well because she doesn't take me seriously. Stick or no stick Brit is all about having a good time when there are sheep around. I try to be serious and "mean it" but I am not conveying that to my dog very well. I have a problem with all the "grey" in herding. Nothing is ever the same, the rules change, the plan changes, it's always different. So I get kind of wishy washy because I am trying to process it in my brain as to wether it was good enough or not. Meanwhile my dog has cut in on the sheep and they are running 100mph towards me. Instead of all that thinking and watching I need to act. And mean it. Be confident, etc. Louanne calls it "Purposeful." Apparently I don't have that. lol
I also worry about her feelings. She can be sensitive. But isn't as soft as I think. She can take pressure, and she can work through stress. Stress isn't a bad thing, I get it. She wants to work, and will continue to want to work. I need to keep that in my head. Less worry, more purpose. lol.
I can picture the outrun I'd like. But so far I haven't managed to get it. I hate being frustrated. So I'm going to buckle down and be "purposeful," no more negotiations. And I'll try to do that without a smile on my face, and I'll not watch my pretty dog make mistakes.
I'll let you all know how that goes.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I've committed to another year in the Flickr group- 12 Months for Dogs. It's one photo a month. Easy Peasy. ;)
Except that this year I'd decided to do a group photo. I felt confident that I could do that, I mean I take group photos of them all the time.
Apparently when you add the pressure of "you must take a photo in January" it becomes impossible. This is my third attempt, and I'm not happy with it. The light was icky, I wish Brit was sitting and they were closer together. But it was cold and windy and the dogs and I lost our patience pretty quickly.
But I posted it anyway. It'll only get better from here right. lol
Getting them together for a group photo is generally not a problem. I have loads of group photos. However I've been trying all month and it's not going so well. This isn't my favorite, but the pressure is getting to me. Hopefully next month I'll get into the swing of things more!
Brit was happy and waggy, but still a bit stressed. I can tell in her delayed response to cues, and her lagging. With her it is definitely just an experience thing. The skills are there and we just need to take it to new places. I need to take my own advice. lol.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Saturday was spent at Spruce Meadows at the dog show. Which was a bust. But still fun. ;)
Pixel actually did not do too badly. She was just so-so. Her heeling was off (no surpise since I haven't trained it at all....). She missed the Drop on recall. She was a little nervous- which is not normal for Pixel so I wasn't prepared at all. She actually took a big detour around where the people were standing against the ring fence. Oh, and she stepped on the broad jump. Oh, and I missed the long sits and downs so I am not sure if there has been progress or not in that aspect. On the plus side her fronts and finishes were awesome! Best yet. So at least some of the training is paying off.
Brit had a meltdown. Hated the building. The smells, the crowds, and the noise. It was interesting because she normally isn't affected by things like that. But apparently her weird border collie-isms will now include crowded buildings. She had some nice work in the ring- she started strong, had great fronts and finishes. We NQ'd when she went around the jump. lol. Really. She was in heeling mode and didn't even look for it. Strange but true. After that I played and touched her and rev'd her up as much as I could. So not a total loss as I think the experience was turned into a good one.
Scenthurdle was wild. But fun. Brit was great- only one mistake. Our team didn't have a box loader so we had a few errors on the human side, but I think we rocked considering we don't normally box load. lol. I think that Brit earned enough points for her Scenthurdle Dog title, but don't know for sure.
After that long and exhausting day we headed to the Connely's where we spent the night in comfort, had a great breakfast with friends, and even a bit of a visit!
Sunday was another in the Highwood Series Stock Dog Arena trials. I have been working so hard with Brit. And I am thrilled with her! She was full of confidence and zip today. If I was an emotional person I would have cried. No hesitation or fear. Of course I didn't get any video :( I was busy in between and didn't think to get it out of the car. In any case I am very happy with her. We did NQ in the first round- I was so happy that the lift was so fast and clean that I kind of forgot which way she was supposed to go around the post. Ooops. lol. Brit didn't know or care though so we continued on. Our second round was much better. Some fumbling on my part- but I'm still happy.
And now it's Monday. And I'm tired. Not a good start to the week.
Friday, January 18, 2013
When Leo first came he had plenty of issues. His main issue- nipping. Fast movements, sudden noises, anytime he was startled or unsure and those pearly whites would make an appearance. A sneak attack and quick retreat. I'm happy to say that he is mostly pretty great, and I'd even go as far as saying that he's as good as he's going to get. He LOVES meeting new people- and is a fully trained moocher. Through lots and lots of socialising he has learned that people are pretty much cookie dispensers... He is still unsure of men however, and in my experience I don't believe that is ever going to change much. He will approach a friendly man, but is on guard and I watch him very carefully for signs of stress
Leo was a classic shut down dog. A dog who had a hard time offering eye contact, taking a cookie, or engaging with a person. He would melt into a pile of mushy border collie if you raised your voice at him (or anyone else). That has all changed. He is confident, and is 100% willing to take a cookie. lol. He also has learned to play! This was a big step, and I think is what really taught him that people are fun. He loves squeaky things, wubbas, and tug toys. He is still figuring out fetch, but is a fantastic tugger.
The other thing that has drastically changed in five months is his health and fitness. He was very overweight, and could hardly run. He was always miles behind the other dogs. His coat was wiry, and dull. Now he is in very good shape- well muscled, and lots of stamina. He is quick, and agile, and running is one of his favorite things. He is soft, and shiny and just healthy. It's amazing what exercise, and good food can do for a dog!
He has natural stockdog sense. And has been a lot of fun to work with Sheep. A keen, powerful dog with a strong eye. He has no problem taking control. He does love herding, although I am not set on trying to find him a herding home. There are just not that many recreational herding folk around here. And in a perfect world he would be a pet more than a working dog.
When he first came I doubted he could make a performance dog. But now, I'd changed my mind. He has plenty of drive, likes to work, loves food, and tugs! He is also built very well. And sport people tend to work around quirks more so than a purely pet home. Leo needs a home where he will be loved, exercised, and kept mentally busy. He needs an experience home that will be able to help him work through his fear of men, or at the very least understand that there is a risk of a nip if he is put in the wrong situation.
I think the right home for Leo is out there- somewhere. I just need to look harder. I've decided to go ahead and put him on Petfinder. The worst that will happen is I'll say no. But that right person might be looking on there so it is worth the hassle. Leo is a good boy. Full of sweetness and happiness. He is incredibly affectionate and loves to be with you. He will make someone really really happy!
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Saturday, January 12, 2013
There is another arena trial coming up, and after the disaster of last time I have been working as much as I can to rebuild the lost confidence. The rules have gone out the window essentially, other than she must lie down. Today I worked her at Phantomridge and we tried all sorts of things to let her feel that pressure, and have to work to get them off the fence.
Louanne and Craig put the whole flock in the chutes to encourage the working bunch to stay at the top. No problem. (although I was reminded to shut up and let her cover on her own...)
Then we put the whole flock in the arena and went out in the field with the working group. Sometimes the draw of the gate, and the flock can be stronger. Easy. Brit even moved the whole flock into the arena without hesitation. The sheep were oddly cooperative today.
Finally Louanne suggested Lambs. They dont' act like normal Sheep. And split up, run away, or into fences, or sometimes just stand there stupidly. Surely Brit would have to work at moving them. No such luck. She had no problems at all, except when she would forget one or two...
The lambs did provide a chance to take some photos though- Louanne worked her for a few minutes so I could try and get my 52 Weeks photo. It was funny. Brit was happy to work until she was asked to Lie Down and then it was chaos. Lambs running every which way, Craig busting into the field, Brit running to her momma. Chaos.
It was a good afternoon though- Brit took our challenges in stride. I am going to enter her at the trial Sunday. I think she's got it figured out.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Warning. This is long. And mostly I am arguing with myself.
Do you think that there is such a thing as PTSD in Agility? Really. I think I have it. I still love teaching agility, I still like watching agility, and I still love learning about it. But the thought of doing it with my dogs makes me uncomfortable and stressed out. I am so worried about hurting them that I can hardly stand it.
I think there is such a thing as being too aware. A case of knowing too much. It has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion, but I am like a nazi when it comes to my dogs movement. I am watching all the time. By watching all the time I make it worse. Maybe I am even seeing things that don't exist. lol. Because I think about it all the time. In my defense there are definite problems with the dogs. Pixel's limp is not imagined. And Brit's hip and leg is not quite right.
For example Pixel hasn't done agility for a long time. We still walk, and exercise, and train other fun things (like tricks, and obedience-minus the heeling.) Sunday I took her to the barn with me to watch a seminar. We did a few recalls, some bits of sit/down/stand, nothing too fancy. That night she limped around my house for a good ten minutes. I would have videod except my house is a mess. Front left shoulder- again/still. Frustrating. Scary. And sad. The dog CLEARLY can't even stay sound with real life activities so should not be doing agility. As I said before the risk terrifies me. I can't do it. I lost one dog young to a back problem. I would be absolutely devastated if it happened again... (and for the record it wasn't even agility that caused that dogs problem...)
Brit came to me with no muscle, and a weak rear. If you pushed her off balance she would fall over, or trip in an effort to right herself. I had her looked at by a rehab vet when I first got her. She thought a mild hip problem- not displastic in her opinion but an issue that could be resolved by muscle and exercise. That was more than a year ago. Brit is pretty fit now, good muscle, she's filled out. We do lots of conditioning. The Peanut ball, specific exercises like side passes, sit ups, back ups, leg lifts, etc. She runs like a yahoo, and can trot beside the bike comfortably for as long as I can pedal. lol. And still- that leg. She holds it out funny, and will limp if she has run too hard. I am afraid to do agility with her. I can't imagine her jumping 22", or doing the frame, or even having power to push through weaves. Am I setting myself up for the exact thing I've just gone through with two corgis? I think so. I think the next step with her is to take her to my trusted rehab vet and hear what she has to say. I've been afraid to. But maybe there are things that I can do to make it better that I'm not already doing. Or maybe there is a whole other issue.... In any case I really feel that doing agility with Brit will either give me a heart attack, or indigestion.
I do realise I am not being completely rational about this. There is risk in all things- real life included. Pixel could jump off the couch and bust a leg, or hurt her back. And I still let her jump off the couch. I know that dogs can't live in bubbles. I know that there are no perfect dogs. That all dogs can (and do) get hurt. And I also know that they are just dogs. They live in the moment. Of all my dogs, Wicca LOVED agility the most. But she is just as happy now as she was then. We just do different things. Not doing agility is of no matter for my dogs. But it matters to me. And I can't seem to shake the scared feeling I get. So it's me.. The problem I mean.
But at the same time as being scared, I am sad that I have no agility dogs. None. Five dogs and not one of them can play. It's depressing. How can I be an instructor and not run a dog? You lose the feel, the eye, and the heart. So do I quit agility until I have a dog that can do it? How do you quit something that has been a part of your life for 10+ years? How do you quit something you've poured your heart and soul into. And how do you quit your friends, your lifestyle? It's tricky. And sad. And I am not sure I want to do it.
A week ago I had decided that I was quitting. I'd teach until I couldn't. I've been struggling with this for a year. Back and Forth. Quitting, Playing, Dog Injured, More Breaks, Playing, Quitting. Repeat. It's been ongoing. So I finally made a decision. And now it feels wrong. Part of that is now I feel inspired. This past weekend we brought in Kathy Keats for a seminar. It was so good. It made me miss it. It made me want it. I was jealous.
There are millions of dogs in the world that do agility. Weaving. Running. Jumping. Slamming into poles. Running off contacts. Flinging themselves over jumps. And they are sound. And healthy. I want that. I want to be able to play agility with my dog and not worry about that tight turn, or a scramble up the frame, or when they land a jump hard.
It not feasible for me to get another dog. I have five dogs. Which is plenty. Plus Leo. I live alone, in a small house (that I rent). I work full time and pay my bills, and for dog stuff and that's it. No extras. I'm still paying off Pixel's last appointment with the rehab vet and her xrays. I have two senior dogs who will need extra veterinary care in the coming years. I absolutely can't afford another dog. And I don't have time for another dog. I do just fine with the ones I have, but any more and I'd have to quit my job so I could have time to train them all. lol. I only have myself to blame. For having a house full of non-agility dogs. I wouldn't call them bad decisions because they were meant to be mine and I love them to bits. But certainly thinking with ones heart instead of ones head is not always the wisest. Wicca was destined to retire early, I knew that when she was young. She is c-r-a-z-y fast and reckless. Boone can't handle the stress of life (and was that way when I got him..). Vito has a severely crooked leg, and a less than ideal work ethic. Pixel has had inury after injury and is only four years old. Brit was unsound from the start. Everyone of my dogs has been an impulse. All of them. You'd think I'd get lucky, or learn or something.
So now I am completely overwhelmed with the whole thing. Agility is not my whole life. But it has been a big part of it. My dogs are first and foremost my pets. Rehoming any of them is absolutely not an option. Ever. So there isn't really that many options left for me. Stop being a baby I suppose. Just make a decision. Leaving agility now doesn't mean I couldn't come back in five or six years when I have a dog that is sound enough for it. Or maybe I just do what I can with the dogs I have. Pixel could probably do jumpers no problem. She isn't crazy fast. It's 6", and in moderation maybe she can stay sound? But am I really going to take her to practice every week to do a few jumps? Is that little bit worth it? I just don't know. Brit knows a fair amount of stuff already. Maybe we could just play, and see where we get to. Or I obsessively stare at her leg and think horrible things the whole time she is on the dogwalk, or jumping, or whatever.
All those things swirling around in my head. I have no idea what to do. Where to go from here. So much for my "year of doing!" I'm already stalling on the very first thing.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
|It's my birthday. I should get to eat it. Not stare at it.|
|Further torture by making her hold it for a photo. lol|
Thursday, January 03, 2013
This will be my 5th year participating in the Flickr group 52 Weeks for Dogs.
The group has not only kept me on track and motivated to take photos, but has also challenged me to become better with my camera!
In fact, I've only had my camera for about six years and my photos have come a long way. AND- I even take it off the Auto setting for the most part now. ;) I've never taken a class, but I fumble around or google, or ask friends when I need it.
This year Brit will be my project dog. She's a tricky one. Her split face is hard. Either over exposed, or too shadowy... But she is a fun dog so I'm sure I'll get lots of great photos this year!
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Wicca was officially retired. October of 2011 was her last Agility anything. She came out one last time for Rally, and although in the moment it was fun I still have some guilt about the discomfort she felt afterwards. It's funny that she is everything I could ever want for in a dog. And her body gave up long before was fair. It was a heartache that took a really, really long time to get over. If possible I love her even more since her retirement from dogsports. It's hard to explain. But I am happy. She is still happy, sassy and her normal bossy self. A Normal Dog Life. I let her have free reign on off leash runs, and as long as she is not completely retarded on a walk she is mostly sound. I did say that I wanted to start tracking with her. And I never really got around to it. lol. BUT- I am signed up for a long distance Tracking Coach thing. I am hoping to get up to Calgary to meet with the instructor so I can get started. I do think she would love it.
Pixel was hurt. Pulled from Regionals after one day. Recovered. And then hurt again. She is recovered but will not be returning to agility. Although her Xrays came back great she is not structurally sound enough for the sport. The risk is too great for me. A hard decision but one that is right for me, and for the long term health of my dog. We did try for our CDX more than a few times this year. But we are still one leg away. Some confidence issues, combined with some physical ones made our time in the ring challenging in one way or another. She has matured a lot this year- and seems like she has finally grown up. I have her entered in January for another go, fingers crossed our training holds up. I've started Utility training- it will be more than a full year of training before we are ready, but that will be what we are working towards this year! We are not training or working on heeling at all- she knows how to do it and I don't want to ask her to have her neck craned like that anymore than I need to. The utility stuff will be fun because there is so much MORE than just heeling. I'm looking forward to teaching new things to her. She's a thinker.
I stopped even pretending to train Brit for agility and switched gears to herding, herding, and more herding. With some obedience/rally thrown in for good measure. Agility is not in her future. (It's mostly me, not her- and a whole blog post on it's own) We will continue on this herding adventure- where I learn something new each and every time I go, and the feeling I get watching her work brings a smile to my face. I can't even help it- even when i should be getting after her I smile or laugh, or just watch her do something naughty. lol. It's hard to explain. But I love it and it is like nothing I have ever done. Obedience is still something we are working on- heeling makes me nervous but at this point I am working on bringing her focal point lower- to my right hand. Hopefully this will be easier on her neck, and on my heart. I entered her in a Rally Advanced run in January- and am hoping to hit the Novice ring in the spring.
And the boys. Vito had a pretty exciting year- earning a few Q's even! At this point he is the only dog I have that can do agility, and he physically is not able to do much. I worry about his crooked leg with anything more than once in a while. He's my buddy through and through. The dog ALWAYS at my feet. That's not about to change anytime soon.
Boone is Boone. A year of just being a dog. He goes through cycles of strangeness. And then back to a relatively normal, goofy dog. He's a funny dog who is happily going through life with little expectations and lots of fun.
And myself. A full year of independence. Crazy really to think about that. I think I have changed the most this past year than in any other time of my life. I started thinking about myself a little, and not so much about everyone, and everything else. I lost passion, and then found it again in something completely different. I lost heart, and while I am still searching for it I can almost feel it. This year I have shed more than a few tears. But I am strong. I have discovered that I have an inner strength I didn't know I had. I lost confidence, in myself, my training, and my teaching. I am working on getting that back. But it has been hard. And will take some time to build. It's like I am rebuilding who I am. Finding myself I suppose- even though I am now 30 and should have known myself by now I think.
Many things happened this past year to change who I am. But there are only two that I feel comfortable sharing with the universe.
My mother breaks my heart. And I finally admitted defeat. I gave up, and although there is guilt with that decision I am happier for it. I love the person she is under the disease, but am no longer willing to watch it happen. Instead of trying to fix it, I embrace the rare moments of normalcy, and walk away from everything else. It is intensely private but is a big part of this past year. That decision changed me.
I quit Rescue. Burnt out. To a crisp. I am glad to not have that extra stress, the cramming of stuff into every empty second, the heartache that comes with dealing with what people do to dogs. Relief. A deep breath after being dunked under water. That's what it feels like.
This year, 2013 is going to be better. Better for me, Better for my dogs, and Better for my Friends and Family too! Our small agility family lost more than it's fair share of dogs. My family has had plenty of heartache. It's time for the good stuff. The stuff that makes you smile, makes you want to hug the person next to you, makes you want to scream from the roof top. The kind of stuff that makes you belly laugh.
Some things are going to be different this year. Not goals, Not resolutions- they just are. I've always been relaxed about stuff- decisions, life, whatever. What happens happens. But this past year I found myself stressing about too much. Worrying about things I have no control over. I cannot change how people think, or feel. It is up to me to change how *I* think about it. So no more bitching, no more whining, and less worry. Instead I will try to DO SOMETHING to change the things that stress me out- Stressed about money? Spend Less, Make more. Stressed about a decision? be rational, but don't debate about it forever, go with your gut. Those are just two of my most common issues. lol. And it is easier to type than to actually do. And that is what this year is going to be about. Doing.
So I officially declare 2013 my Year of Doing.
The Year of Doing what makes me happy
The year of Doing what is best for the future.
The year of Doing things that need to be done.
The year of Doing things that are hard
The year of Doing things without thinking too much about it!
The year of Doing what is best for me.
The list could go on and on. But these are the main ones. The ones I need most to think about and Do.
2013 is gonna be a great year. It's gotta be better than 2012. So here's to Doing!
After I published this I saw this gem on facebook. It goes so well with what I am trying to say, and how I am going to try to be a better person.