Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There is a big show in Calgary at the beginning of August- it is hosted by the Alberta Kennel Club and is four days of CKC Conformation, Agility, Obedience, and Rally. Jolene and I had decided to go a while ago but I still haven't sent in my entries...(they close on the fourth).  Pixel is just not ready for Open and Rally is only on the same day as Agility so I was not sure what I was going to do. And then as I read the premium list it came to me! BRACE OBEDIENCE!!!

I am super excited to try it. I have always wanted to give it a try- the only requirement is that both dogs have a CD. They can be owned by different people, be different breeds- it doesn't matter. It looks like a lot of fun- basically you are working two dogs at once through a whole novice obedience routine.

I think it will be a lot of fun- I've already decided that Wicca will be on the outside as she she is a more powerful heeling dog. I did a little practice with them in the yard already. It will take some fine tuning but I think on a whole it shouldn't be too terribly difficult, and I have a month or so to work on it. :)

I will do CKC agility the other two days- we don't do much CKC agility but Wicca can now jump 4" as a vet so we may start doing more.

Anyway, just was super excited about the Brace Obedience- it's all I've been thinking about all afternoon. Of course I will make sure that someone Videos because it is sure to be very entertaining!!!

Oh- and there is team obedience aswell- not sure I can sucker in enough of my friends to try it. That's FOUR dog/handler teams working through a novice routine. Super Cool...


Summer 6/12/Pixel, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.

Only one more day until my holidays start. I am super excited. I have like a whole week off work, plus a long weekend and a regular weekend. That's a whole lot of sleep in days. :)

The dogs and I have a CKC agility trial this weekend, and a demo on Friday for Canada Day. But other than that I have no pressing plans for my days off. I am going to spend a few days at a friends acreage, play some agility, let the dogs be dogs, maybe do some river swimming, and just relax.

Hopefully I will come back to work refreshed and a little less cranky. At the very least I will be able to get caught up on some sleep.

It's going to be great. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I don't work weekends.

Just joking of course. ;)

I saw that Steve from AgilityNerd is having a Blog Action Day where Dog Agility bloggers all blog about the same subject. Today's subject being volunteering. Apparently there is much debate about this right now. Which seems a little odd to me. In our area where trials fill up, but are small compared to most of the US trials (1 ring/350 runs per day), we are all expected to volunteer. Those who don't are likley not to get into the next trial. That's how it works around here and I think it's great. It forces people to actually help out, and take a part in the event. There are exceptions of course- people who seem to never volunteer but always manage to get into trials- they must have other redeeming qualities. lol

I think that Volunteering is great for a few reasons. First, it's the best seat in the house. I enjoy watching all the talented little starter dogs, and it helps me to remember where I started at. Also I think that for "newbie" people volunteering is a great way to learn more about the sport. Not only the agility aspect but all the stuff that goes along with hosting a trial.  Sarah and I teach our students right off the bat about volunteering, stepping up if something needs to be done. So by the time they get to a trial they are well trained. It's also helpful that we only have the awesomest students. :)

For the AAC trials in our area the clubs have a poster board with all the classes scheduled out and space for people to volunteer for what they want. I think this is a great way to ensure that people only volunteer for what they are comfortable or good at. There is nothing more stressful than the poor Starter who is scribing for Masters Gamblers... Signing up for what YOU want is also a good way to ensure that people are commited and realise they have a job. It's not fool proof of course as we all forget at one time or another but I think it helps.

I try to sign up for at least two or three things a day. Typically I like Timing/Scribing and I am a wicked Gate Steward. (I am very loud and bossy). Even though I only sign up for two events I often step in to help pole set if I am standing around and I see they are short volunteers. I think that these little gestures go a long way to making trials go quickly and smoothly. The more volunteers, the faster the day will run, which means the quicker we can get home and relax (or have a drink depending on who you are traveling with. :) )

I am also careful to only volunteer for things that will give me time to warm up, or exercise my dogs. Often I am either first or last so on the days when I am first I would never sign up for the event right before mine. I don't like to rush, and don't think it's fair for my dog either. I also need to make sure I give myself time to relax, walk the dogs, eat lunch etc,  and of course visit with friends. I find three things a day to be the maximum amount I am comfortable with.

Because our trials and clubs are small we don't get much in the way of thanks for volunteering- some trials have free goodies (chocolates,cookies, etc) and others do volunteer draws at the end of the day. The volunteer poster is all cut up and the names are drawn for some cool prizes- free trials entries, guaranteed entries, dog stuff, gift certificates etc. I never win those sorts of things but I am happy to work for a thank you.

I do think that regardless of the type of thanks Volunteers get they need to be appreciated. Treated well, and with respect. We don't typically have problems in this area with that sort of thing. I think our area is too small to ruffle feathers like that. Everyone knows everyone and word would get out pretty quick who the bad apple is. Likewise I think that all competitors should volunteer to some extent. Even people with multiple dogs- if you can't work a class then there is always course building, or set up...there are always ways to help out if you want to. And at a trial there is never shortage of work!

From an email from Agility Nerd:

I've been contacting dog agility bloggers in an effort to organize a "Blog Action Day" where we all post to our blogs on the same subject. There have been a lot of of email list discussions about volunteering at dog agility trials in the last few weeks and I thought this might be a good subject on which we can open up a discussion with our readers. I'm certain we all have different, and possibly conflicting, views on the subject that will make for good reading!

After discussion with some other bloggers we chose Tuesday June 28th as the day we'll post an article discussing the subject
I hope you will join us on June 28th! When you post your article please send me a link so I can put it on my blog. Monica at Clean Run will also host a list of all the articles - I'll forward your link to her for you.

I scoured the internet for dog agility blogs and tried to find their owner's email addresses. If you aren't a dog agility blogger I'm sorry for bothering you!

Please forward this email to every dog agility blogger and occasional agility blogger you know, I'd like to get everyone involved!

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Best Regards,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brit Update

So I mentioned briefly in a post a few days ago about Brit's obsession with Pixel. I thought I had it fixed once already. When I first got Brit I knew right away there was going to be an issue. She would follow her room to room, in the yard I couldn't even get her attention. So they were seperated. No off leash runs with Brit and we did TONS of recall work, and focus. Which was great- and has payed off immensley. Brit has the best recall of any dog I've ever had.

Now that I could get her attention and call her away from the obsession (Pixel) I started letting them have free yard time, and off leash runs again. Ha! Now it appears as though I am back to square one. The only difference is that I have a recall and she will look away from Pixel when I say her name.

But it's still super annoying. She watches Pixel always- will lay in the doorway and blast up if Pixel makes a move. For her part Pixel doesn't seem to care, and may even like the attention. But it bugs me. I should be Brit's focus. Not Pixel.

So more relationship building. Which means more crate time for Brit. If I can't focus on her, she is away. Crated in a room with a gate so she cant' stare at Pixel. I've even moved their daytime crates so Brit can't see her. Brit is also tethered to me in the house, and she isn't allowed in the yard with Pixel either. It seems extreme, even as I type it. But really- I don't want to have a dog who would rather play with the other dogs than to be with me. So we are working through the issue.

And of course we are doing all sorts of training and such- building our working relationship. She is doing awesome training wise. Her tugging is going great, and I am actually able to use a toy as a reward now. Woohoo! We have started some one jump work, and did our first jump grid the other day (equal height, equal distance at approx 4.5 feet apart). She was awesome. :) I really am enjoying this dog- she is so fun and I love her to bits. I just wish she wasn't so annoying when it came to Pixel. I know Pixel is cute and all but it's a bit ridiculous....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Busy Dog Day

Today was a busy day, but in a good way. The rescue had a fun meet and greet this morning at a local, very busy park which was great. We had a decent turn out and some very serious potential adopters so that's great. Fingers and toes crossed that they follow through with an application!

After that I ran home to get my own dogs and headed to a different park to do some training with a small group of people. It was great!!! The rain mostly stayed away and I think everyone had lots of fun. The park set up was perfect- distraction, but close parking, and lots of space to spread out.

Kim and I put each other through and Open routine. Oh My. Pixel was awful. I think she failed everything but her heeling. Her fronts are worse instead of better, and her drop was horrible. The only thing that was perfect was her heeling- oh, and the broadjump!!! Woo Woo for the broad jump! In any case I am really, really, really glad I did not enter her in any trials anytime soon. She is certainly not ready.

Kim put Wicca through the rally course which was cute- Wicca is a super heeler- but like to forge. It was funny to watch. I was so busy watching that I just realised I forgot to put my own dogs through. lol. I meant to put Vito and Pixel in. Funny. I did work Brit- she was focused as always. She can heel for three or four steps now which is great. She is making good progress.

We ended with some scenthurdle racing- Pixel was right every time. Even with the makeshift box (I forgot that I'd leant it out to someone who couldn't come today...duh.) In any case the practice went well. The newbie dogs are coming right along which is great. We are racing in just a week now. I am getting nervous. lol
okay, so not Pixel obviously. :) But it's hard to take photos and run your dog at the same time.
Instead I wanted to show you all how CUTE the other height setter on our team is.
 This is Crawford. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Short Dogs in Long Grass

With all the rain we have had the grass in our favorite walking place is more than a little overgrown. Often all I got photo wise was an odd tail, or ear. :) But I am not complaining! I love how green everything is right now! It truly is a gorgeous sight to see the coulees green, instead of the usual brown.

Pixel taking a rest from bounding through the grass. It is a great workout having to run/jump the whole walk!

caught mid bounce.

the three shorties...

Wicca taking a breather. The dogs aren't quite used to the heat yet...

Boone watching ahead


happy vito...there was lots of good stuff to roll in.

the boys...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kort and Brit

Kort is only here for a few more days so I figured I'd better take some photos on our run today!

Brit is on a "Pixel diet"- as in she is not allowed to run off leash with her anymore, and spends part of the day tethered to me in the house, and I try to have Pixel out of sight for at least an hour in the afternoon. Simply put Brit is obsessed. We had gotten past the worst of it, but I still find the staring annoying. And Brit tries to guess where Pixel might go next, or what she is going to do which is more than a little annoying... Anyway- this post isn't really about that- but it has worked out well with Kort here because then Brit still gets to play with someone, just not Pixel. :) (I have a blog post for next week about building relationships etc that will talk more about my plan with Brit)

Kort and Brit are well matched play wise- they both like to chase and be chased and don't really like wrestling. So it's pretty perfect. :) Here are just a few of my favorite photos from this afternoon...

more to come later of the rest of the crew!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Smile (x2) 25/52

Smile (x2) 25/52, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.

We are all very happy that tomorrow is Friday. We have almost a whole Saturday with nothing planned. Woohoo! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


How hard do you work when you know at the end you get at most a thank you, and sometimes nothing? If you are like most people you don't. That is the whole point of a new class that Sarah and I (Go Dog Go) are doing. We've called it LMFAO- Learning, Motivation, Fun, and Agility Obstacles.

Tonite was the first night. I think it went awesome (although we could do without the millons of mosquitos...)

The whole goal of the class is to teach people to better use their motivators, and themselves. To be fun, and exciting, to be the center for their dog. To be more exciting than grass, or gophers. It doesn't sound all the hard- but trust me. It is.

We've found that for some people it comes naturally, and others it has to be drilled into their heads for them to get it. This class hopefully will improve the dogs performance, and their relationship with the handler.

I think often times it is easy to get caught up in the equipment side of agility- the sequencing, the handling, the training and we forget about the stuff we start with. The foundation games that we all do with our dogs (well, I hope that we all do!). We stop using it, and then it's gone. And when the training gets harder, we move to higher levels, the dog starts to learn how to avoid agility, showing stress in the ring, shutting down. And we are left wondering how it happened.

Not all dogs are super fast, super motivated, intense agility dogs. And that's okay. I know lots of dogs who aren't turbo charged who are still awesome agility dogs. Pixel is one of them. As long as I have (or might have) something she wants she is quite happy to run hard for agility. The tricky part for most people seems to be the "finding what she wants." You have to be creative, you have to train it, you have to proof it, and you have to build the value! The same as any other behavior. I remember when I was teaching Pixel to tug and we got to the point where I had a cookie in an open hand and asked her to tug. It took us a week to get past that. A week, of doing it every day. lol. But we worked past it- and now she will tug anywhere, any time I ask. It is something she sees value in. She wants it. Bad. Her eyes pop out of her head. It's awesome. We talked about how we unintentionally take away value for the toy by offering the toy, the dog doesn't want it, and then we give them a cookie instead. What did we just teach them? I hope by talking about that people will start to see that themselves.

We brought all sorts of things for students to see as rewards- a whole roasted chicken, hotdogs, big strips of jerky, canned dog food, a chip bag, whatever excites the dog- use it! I think they got the message. :)

Tonite we had people do things like play with their dogs for one minute- no toys, no food. Keeping them engaged just with yourself- your movement, your touch, your games. The collar game was refreshed- I showed people that when I grab Pixel's collar she immediately rears up like a horse and pulls against me- instantly excited and ready to go. We also played the gopher game. (the gophers at our training field are an incredible distraction...)To increase the distraction Sarah shoved a roasted chicken down a gopher hole. People had to spend a minute in a small space around the gopher holes/chicken and keep their attention using their top motivator. It was fun- but definitely challenging for some.

We also talked about random reinforcement, and how we deliver the reward. Our delivery is as important as what we are giving. Do you treat your dog while they are still moving? Or in a sit? If you have a slower or hard to motivate dog then I hope you said while they are moving. Make the delivery exciting. When you deliver the reward is important too- we did a tunnel loop with random reinforcement. Changing out the reinforcement and surprising the dog at different times. It really picked them up and everyone did great with that exercise. That was only agility equipment we did all class. :)

Anyway, I know there are lots of people out there who struggle with a lower drive agility dog. I believe in sharing information and thought it would be a good blog post. I sure wish that I knew all this stuff when I started with my shepherd way back when!

For Jolene

Kort is having a holiday at my house while his Momma is away. He's settled in and having a good time playing with the girls.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Final Regionals Results and Wrap Up

The regionals results were posted last night.

There was an adding error at the Awards ceremony- Wicca actually placed third, not second. I am still super stoked about the whole event though. Second place was great of course, but I'll take a Third.

I've emailed the real Second place winner and we will do a ribbon exchange. The difference is just a few points, but I know I'd want the correct ribbon!

Wicca's end score is 473.56 which is the highest we've ever had I think. I am still just so proud of us. It certainly proves that she *can* be as awesome as I think she is. :)

Pixel's score and placement is just like I thought. An awesome second place finish to a world team dog. I really shouldn't say it again but really I am so, so, so proud of Pixel. She is still so young and inexperienced. We have a lot to learn together still!

As I talked about a while ago on my blog we won't be going to Nationals this year. I am in money saving mode, and it is just so expensive!! Even the entry is expensive, nevermind the flights, the hotel, the vehicle rental.....Next year Nationals will be in BC, which is awesome as I have family there. We'll make a whole vacation out of it. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teaching Brit

Brit is scary smart. I mean, she is just so operant that she catches on to things uber fast. It has been a test to my training ability for sure as I have already found that even if my timing is just a fraction wrong I end up with a whole different behaviour. She has been a very fun dog to train and I've succesfully taught Brit a whole load of fun behaviors already.
Stand on a board
Pivot on a stool
Sit Pretty

All the while we've been working on making the above behaviours solid we've also been working on Tugging.

Tugging is something that I think is important for agility training. It's not 100% neccesary and lots of agility dogs don't like toys and tugging. But *I* want her to tug. I like to train my dogs when they are "high" and a tug is a great way to get that and reward "in action" so to speak. Besides, for me it's weird to only rely on food to reward. I don't like it. lol

As I've talked about before, Brit came to me with little interest in toys. We started teaching a fetch right away and she is 100% solid now- bringing whatever item I've thrown to hand. And she's excited about it too. It's not just a boring behaviour. We've made it into the most fun game so she is pretty amped up during the retrieve. She actually has taken a few detours to play by herself with the toy a few times. I was pretty happy about that. :)

The next step is the Tug. It's been a bit of a process but tonite we had a breakthrough!!! I started with fleece tug just in my hand. C/T for any interaction until she was grabbing it. Then I upped the ante. Only C/T when there is a solid grab. Tonite I made it even more difficult by withholding the reward until she pulled backwards in frustration. C/T JACKPOT!!!!! Woohooo!!!! Three times in a row I got a fierce tug and quit the session. I am super excited about the progress tonite.

I can't wait to try again tomorrow. :) Once I have drive and excitement for the tug then I will start more serious agility foundation training. Fun!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video Time :)

Princess Perfect Pixel

and Wicca Naughty Pants. :)

Again, I am just so proud of them and of myself. I was confident with my dogs, and my own abilities. I didn't get caught up in self doubt, and managed to keep a positive attitude for the most part. I won't lie though- I was certainly more than a little annoyed at Wicca after Friday but I told myself it is what it is and no matter how mad I was at her it wasn't going to change things. After last years fiasco I have worked hard at never letting her get to me on course- once that happens the whole run goes to crap. I was proud that even after a bobble, or a glimpse of naughty wicca I kept it together. Yay for me. :)


If I had to choose one word to describe the regionals weekend it would be incredible.

the site itself was gorgeous (minus the landfill on the left )
the weather was almost perfect (a little cold, a little sun, no extremes)
the courses were fun and challenging
the company was great (we stayed at our friends Jan and Dave's who are the most amazing people)
and the host club did a fantastic job.

Oh, and my dogs were awesome and I didn't have a freak out. :)
the go dog go gang at regionals- photo by Sarah Novak
I am so proud of all of the Go Dog Go students and friends. Our group is very tight knit and it showed. We supported one another all weekend and there was lots of encouragement and applause after a run. I am proud to be involved with such a fantastic group of people.

I am also so very proud of my dogs.

Pixel is all heart and I am so grateful to have such an amazing little dog. She may not be the speediest but she is accurate and steady. Two traits that I've never had in a dog before. She just blew me away this weekend. She only had two faults all weekend! One was mine (an off course in a standard), and one a refusal at the weave poles (which is just her inexperience). She got both gambles which just blows my mind. I went knowing that distance was not her strong point, and expected to get a few minis but as soon as I saw the main gamble I knew she could do it. And she did. Both days. That alone is pretty awesome for her. But to run clean in both jumpers, and a standard aswell is something I don't even know how to put into words. She earned 450 points this weekend. We needed 350 to qualify. She placed 2nd in the 10" Regular height category. A class full of speedy little papillons and itty bitty shelties. I am still trying to absorb this weekend. I love my little Pixel no matter the outcome but moments like this are just the icing on the cake.

Wicca started out in typical Wicca style. A little crazy, and very fast. The steeplechase Friday was a disaster. I actually picked her up and walked off the course. It was pretty upsetting.  I was feeling pretty nervous about the dog I would have to run regionals with. Saturday morning started with a gamble that quickly went south. She was out of control for the most of the run, and did not get the gamble. After a stern talking to the rest of our weekend was incredible. I am very grateful that we started with gamble on Saturday morning. lol.  The best moment of the whole weekend was running the Saturday Jumpers clean. Clean! Jumpers!!!!! I am so proud of us. She placed 2nd in the 6" Specials category. I was so surprised that it took a moment for it to sink in when our name was called. I don't remember how many points she got- I am going to be obsessively looking at the website until the results are posted. lol. I do know that it was one of those weekends where teamwork between Wicca and I was there for almost every run. She tried hard, and I worked my ass off to be in the right place for her. Some of the runs weren't perfect, but I am happy. Wicca is an incredible little dog. I love her even when she is naughty, but when she is good- well the feeling is indescribable.

I will have videos tonight or tomorrow. I took the day off work to catch up on housework, laundry, and to just hang with my awesome dogs. Oh, and to process all the video. lol

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Regionals is Upon us...

This weekend is the AAC Alberta/NWT Regional Championships. The girls and I are pumped and ready. I am probably more comfortable than ever with Wicca, and am looking forward to the experience with Pixel. We are leaving tomorrow afternoon.

Friday is Steeplechase and the Warm Up Rings will be open. I have Wicca entered in both Steeplechase, and one warm up. Pixel will be conserving her energy. :)

Saturday and Sunday are the main events. Our group is starting with Gamblers on Saturday, and Jumpers on Sunday. It will be nice to have the Jumpers out of the way early in the morning. For me that is the most brain power. lol.

So wish us luck for...

no missed contacts...

a happy (speedy) Pixel

all 12 weave poles :)

Clean jumping

lots of tunnels

only a little craziness

and most of all a weekend full of fun, and teamwork!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The rain isn't so bad...

The only thing I hate about the rain is how muddy the dogs get. But the actual rain isn't all that bad. The dogs and I had a great walk this afternoon. I put on my rain gear, put a bag over my camera and away we went. All of us- even little Catch. :)

there were many puddles to play in, and run through...

lots of tall, tall grass for the short dogs to get lost in (can you see them all?)

lots of bossy pixel- THROW THE BALL NOW!

A stalking border collie...

a very happy puppy

who ran with all his might to keep up with everyone. (is he not the cutest thing?!)

a frolicking, peeing-on-everything, Vito

a puppy who is in love...

a loud, shreaking Boone...

and lots of rolling on gross stuff...
All in all a pretty awesome walk. I was smart and put them all in crates to dry off while I ran some errands. One of my brighter ideas today. :)

The Entertainer

Boone had a blast at the last two agility demonstrations we've done. He is happy, excited, and working through all sorts of distractions and normal stressors. It's amazing. And makes me very happy. We did some demos last year too, but I don't think I realised just how much he enjoyed himself.

For such a nervous dog I didn't really expect him to really enjoy demos. Often it is crowded, in strange places, and noisy. But he seems to be able to work past that. I am looking forward to the summer- we have quite a few demos planned and I think it may be a good way to bridge agility training, and trialing. He's been on a bit of a break for a few months- only playing in the yard. I was seeing lots of stress at training and at trials, and didn't want our relationship to suffer for the sake of agility.

We've been rebuilding fun into "hard" agility and I am hoping that soon we will be able to return to normal training and a few trials. I'd like to be able to get his confidence up at trials, and maintain a connection throughout a whole course....

In any case I think that demos will be a fun thing to do with him this summer. We've been working hard at some new tricks, and he is very cute and charming for the spectators. Demo's may just be his "thing."