Friday, December 31, 2010

Spring? Ahead of schedule that's for sure ...

The weather this year has been odd - to say the least ...

We arrived to snow .. and quite a bit of it .. the temperature dropped to below minus 10.

Now it's plus 10 and the snow is gone. The ground is wet and muddy. The grass is green.

So strange.

Sally could care less - as long as there are sticks to be thrown she's a happy girl.

Sampson is finally tolerating the puppy without big over reactions when we are all outside.

Brody likes the cold cold weather - wet snow balls in his feet so he doesn't come on long hikes when it's "warm winter". Thea is happy by the fire from October to March pretty well no matter the air temperature!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

cute Coco pictures and an apology ...

Apology first - I can't seem to comment on blogs (including my own) at the moment. You'll have to trust me I'm reading - thinking awww Misty... I didn't know that about Dunbar.. great picture - I'm glad you are doing dog 2 next year or I'd miss it ... go Marge ...etc etc ... hopefully I'll be able to actually comment instead of just in my head soon ...

On to the puppy ... Coco's brother Freckles has been adopted - being picked up tomorrow .. and Coco continues to thrive .. she is wearing a collar, sits, pees outside, eats dog food and LOVES to play. Kizmet barks whenever she comes near him. Brody growls and leaps up away from her. Thea and Sally play with her and poor darling Sampson continues to be terrified of her.

Imagine this face striking terror into any heart?

Thea would rather not admit she plays with puppies.

(excuse the mess) Sally LOVES playing - she can't get enough!!
A woman I work with named Coco - it isn't my favourite name so I've been kicking around names for the puppy. (Who comes to puppup or puppy not Coco anyhow).
Any great names out there for agility dogs?
I was thinking Destiny ... Dez for short ... yah .. dangerous thinking no doubt ;)
I love the name Kizmet - but we have it in use for our senile brain lesion dude.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

and a merry christmas to all ...

a lovely break so far

and the best news of all - little Coco puppy is finally THRIVING
she's bouncing and bright and her skin tones are pink not ghost white
she's managing to stay hydrated with out me doing sub q fluids
she's eating well

she wears a collar happily
she has a sweet default sit
she is testing puppy teeth on everything
she is all Sally wants for Christmas
she scares Sampson

she meets a potential home tomorrow - cross your fingers for us all :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

We ain't in Kansas anymore Toto

7 days without agility ... HOLEY SMACKERAL ... been a long long time since we've suffered this kind of withdrawal
Tuesday night the weather was lousy and I was overwhelmed with life - the parvo puppies * ended up in isolation in my basement - the most recent batch of orphan kittens was going back to the shelter Wednesday and the thought of fighting snow and lousy drivers across the city and back just exhausted me. So we hung out at home. The right choice for us that night no doubt.
Wednesday was wild. Thursday the Christmas parties started. Friday was lovely I got home around 3:30 for the first time this year. Sally and I did a little directional play work for a tossed Kong .. it's pretty cool to see her spinning in the direction I'm about to throw the Kong just on a quiet "right" or "left". (It's also good practise for me to practise which way Sally needs to go no matter where I am).
Saturday was hubby's family Christmas do - 800 million relatives I swear it!! It was super to play with the younger generation too (ranging from 10-4) and catch up with the middles (now in their 20s). Sunday was packing for the county and driving down. Today was waiting for the Bell repair person and a little Christmas shopping. Sally and I worked a little "touch" work but that's it. Maybe tomorrow :)

* the parvo puppies were with me for 4 long nights - changing every time I did anything with them, washing hands like a mad woman etc - then both left for Friday night, then sick wee Coco came back to us. More on her in a post all it's own, soon, I promise!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

House League Two

Today was the second house league

Rainy, gross day but at least it wasn't snow and ice!

Dogs were superstars - ignored in a crate basically unless they were running .. warm up was one jump done two or three times then running a course - not the way I like to warm up but ok to try for once
Brody started as slowly as he did at the trial last weekend but actually ran some nice runs

First class was a game - Snakes .. the purpose was to twist up and down the course racking up points in 60 seconds ... Brody earned 45 points; Sally 38 (as she added some off course options to her run)
Second class was steeplechase Brody ran a lovely clear round and ended up in 2nd for that class - Sally had a couple of faults (a missed contact and an offcourse) so was 8th overall.
Final class was the standard run ...Brody ran a faultless clear again but wasn't bombing ..Sally was a full 10 seconds faster at 57 seconds but had 5 faults ...
I enjoyed the judging too - neat way to watch dogs (though I did have to do some VERY fast table counts once or twice)
Trying to make people happy is always interesting too :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

foster faces :)

adorable eh?
Coco and Freckles .. recovering from parvo so in a foster home without other dogs but they hung out in my office Friday - what sweeties :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

$%^& Contacts

still not happy with Sally's contacts - dogwalk was great at trial I really thought she got it ... nope not if last night is anything to judge by ...
Aframe still upsetting me ..

Brody's were fabulous - all weekend and last night- always in fact


enough said? probably eh?
just call me broken record ...

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Learning Never Stops

Bullets of Thought
  • Running hard induces deep sleep it seems
  • Sally's start line is eroding methinks - or is it my faith in it?? hmm

  • What should I do with Brody? Oh Oh I know wait til I get that last jumpers q and figure it out then

  • My bumper got stuck in a tree. Good thing it was a multiday trial - eventually I got it down!

  • Sally ran 4.6 yps and didn't feel fast - how fast can she run?

  • Why was Brody so slow?

  • How can I speed up his tunnels again?

  • The snooker King never waivered - 2 more masters qs!

  • Brody had fun on the gamblers courses - he would also have had fun chasing squirrels in the backyard

  • Sally was amazing at gamblers

  • both dogs ran better on the last day then the first (though both were good all runs)
  • I ran 19 courses and didn't get lost once - 12 of them were masters levels

  • none of the dogs I ran even looked at a decoy or off course

  • I tried hard not to yak on course (not sure how I did)

  • I found a good balance of working, running and playing with the dogs

  • I ran a new dog in team and had a blast! Harley rocks! (and what a compliment to be asked)

  • Sally and Brody both enjoyed massages
  • Brody sped right up when people started hooting and hollering

  • I liked running to music

  • I still love this crazy game

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My dog came back ... the very next day

Brody was back today - thank heavens as I was worried about him a little. He wasn't foot perfect but he was enjoying life and moving much more freely.

Sorry for the lousy quality but this is Brody's snookers course today. As you can see it was twisty through the 3 part number 6 combo!! (Which we did three times in the opening thank you very much!) Brody liked this course - it doesn't look flowy but it was for us we just circled and crossed and circled and crossed and had fun :) Nice little trick up at 4 which blew a couple of dogs minds too!
Next class was team - I hate running team as I always worry about disappointing and today Brody blew the weaves making us a whomping 3 seconds OT :( I may not do team again for awhile if ever!
His last class was standard - and though he blew the weaves he was steady and thoughtful and A OK. I like the concept of the better spaced weave poles but for small dogs who have done closer ones for many years it's tough. I'll have to get me some I guess, and do what I did with the 21 inch ones. B just can't hold a footing pattern yet in them.
It was a good day! I got Brody a message and he really enjoyed it - and I enjoyed chatting to the human too :)

Here is Sally's steeplechase course:

What a lovely way to start a day. We had the second rail down (accelerating for the frame maybe? she rarely knocks things as she collects??) I was THRILLED with her run. The weaves were thought provoking for her - but that's a good thing.
Next up was snookers. You never stop learning. I had a lovely doable opening planned. Sally did a red, the weaves another red and I wanted to do the weaves again. She ran over to look at the teeter - the judge thought she made contact - I didn't think she had. We did the weaves again and got whistled off. When in doubt do the contact. She could easily have done the teeter twice (we had planned to do it next) and made the course without a hitch. DOH!! Serves me right for running such a snooker king usually!
I decided to enter starters standard to do the table and try the contacts in a trial setting. Sally was great. She didn't get the frame contact (BOO) but she got the dogwalk nicely and the teeter nicely did a perfect table and solid weaves too. I can live with a 5 fault run for any of my dogs - for Sally in standard I'm thrilled!!

A good weekend all round ... more later I'm sure

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Two, Four, Eight ... and the beat goes on ...

Two dogs ... Sally and Brody

Four qs ... 2 starters gamblers for Sally, 1 masters snookers for Brody, and 1 advanced jumpers for Sally

Eight seconds between the 4 qs and earning 7 qs (2 runs 2 seconds overtime; one run 4 seconds overtime~all Brody)

and so it goes sometimes :)

Brody's runs have all started slowly - there were tunnels on the first few courses to start - B is not a big tunnel fan which may partly account for the slow start ups .. last run today folks cheered him home and he just BLASTED the last line - was great to see :)
(I must not fiddle with Brody - in the spring it was my hair, this weekend pulling my pants up blew us a weave entry ... DOH)

One of Sally's advanced jumpers wasn't pretty - she pulled rails and barked and was goofy
though I stopped, regrouped and ended the last half well. Snookers was short - 1 point!! HAHA
Two gamblers classes went well ... first one we did the mini (out to a tunnel) easy peesy - and the tunnel was the 4 pointer too :) the gamble went jump jump and tunnel under the aframe
- Sally didn't even think about it - BING BANG BOOM ... I didn't need this gamble - it was the second q under the same judge so I decided to do weaves ... she did them just fine
also did a nice dog walk - YAY Sally ... 11 obstacles before the whistle ... for 64 points ...
The next gamble was also pretty doable ...jump tunnel jump ...another nice dog walk, a teeter (two actually but she missed the up contact on one) the mini twice (jump, tunnel, jump) the 4 point spread twice for an awesome 66 points ...what a good dawg ... her last today was advanced jumpers - lots of LONG running lines but tunnels in the corners to let me get where I needed to be ... she was fabulous - one very wide turn but not a foot wrong ... what a dog!!

Brody's two gamblers classes went well too - but very differently - my goal with him was to get enough opening points and have him do something confidently away from me - he did both both classes .. not exactly what I need to have at his level but just fine for our first dip in the water ..

all in all fun so far - just a couple of classes left tomorrow :)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

have you heard of simple sudz?

I hadn't til I was at the All About Pets show last March.

I was wandering the vendors chatting up Project Jessie (the rescue I work with) and stopped to look at a booth named Simple Sudz. I decided to buy a spray bottle of the stuff. With the amount of cleaning (thanks foster critters and my own gang) I do I'll try anything to make life a little easier and give me more time for the hands on care bits I like to do.

The fellow at the booth was so helpful .. he actually sent me away with a spray bottle and the creamy basis to mix more spray bottle material. (Which can also be used right on heavy stains apparently)

I tried it once in the spring then kind of forgot about it over the summer. However, in this lovely city house we didn't have built there is a cream coloured floor in the kitchen - which is how the dogs access the back yard. The muddy muddy back yard at this time of year.

This is my kitchen floor on muddy days:
I was desperate .. I was giving up on the floor when I saw the simple sudz. I tried it. I love it. I spritz it on then wipe it up and the dirt peels off.
This is my kitchen floor less than 30 seconds later (with Sampson practising downs cause he's a GOOD boy):

It's all natural so I can wipe off the dogs thinking plastic food dispensers and feed them immediately without waiting. The other thing I really like about it is it doesn't smell .. so I'm not sitting in a pool of orange or banana scents (two other cleaners I find quite effective). Low odour and natural ingredients are really important around here because of the birds.
(did you know we have foster and rescue parrots too? we do)
Simple Suds - a life saver around here!
(a simple PSA for your information - Simple Sudz doesn't know how happy I am with the product ;))

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

class report: was fun

Ran Brody in the earlier class which gave me a good chance to work on his teeter - it's good but it's something I think should be paid well for if I expect things like 4 in one class (Snookers) or to be done in a gamblers class. The course was lovely - very flowy and straightforward - just the kind of note I like to have before a trial.
My usual class Sally got to work the whole class - and while she was a little wound up she settled and worked hard. LOVELY tables which blew everybody away but really they were just her normal tables in a non class setting. Aframes were MUCH better - maybe just maybe we can do a standard course before her 10th birthday!! I don't actually want to do a frame in a trial until I can do it from anywhere though - and right now I need to really support the frame. (So I'm hoping for a dog walk in this weekends classes! Steeplechase for the first time with Sally this weekend so I will get one aframe at a trial to see what happens)

not so profound thoughts
I learn so much from these dogs. There was a woman in class who has been told her dog is slow, blah blah blah. She ran the weaves from the left side only and said something like "oh we can't do them the other way" R. laughed and walked her over to introduce her to me. (Brody is very one sided about weaving - too many years of me being one sided). All of her complaints were things I am sure other people have said about the Bman. However having Sally to work with makes me appreciate Brody's attitude even more. Yes, he does agility for me. (and yes he enjoys it too). And yes, when he thinks he slows down. And yes, he is not excited to work away from me. But wow - he pays attention to me. He thinks. He listens. He gives it his all. He is a rockstar. He has taught me consistency, appreciation, timing, the value of building rewards.
So then you think ~ do I hate working Sally? Nope. Her enthusiam, her speed, her brain are all exciting to work with too. Her profound JOY in all life offers is inspiring. Her absolute addiction to agility puts mine to shame. She has taught me patience, timing and to LAUGH.
I am so very very lucky to be able to learn so much ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

pooch notes ...

Tuesday night seems like an awfully long time ago ...

it was a fun class though.

I did 3 of the 4 stations with Brody and 1 with Sally.. then ran Brody once on course and Sally the rest of the time.. both were good - Brody was quick and thoughtful. Sally was over wrought then settled into working just fine. I CANNOT crowd her table. She knows her job I need to trust her to do it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

action packed week ...

busy at work (nothing new there)
and fun agility week too -
Class was OK - dogs were good - didn't do much of anything special - very much same warm up as last week - jump circle, teeter thing, dog walk thing and aframe weave thing - 4 stations 5 dogs in class. Course was fine too. Nothing exceptional (though Sally and Brody were great).

Had fun at the schoolhouse with Sally yesterday - weaves to tunnel/ jump thing and two jumps at a 90 degree angle - amazing how much you can do with two jumps! Brody worked hard too - and had a blast. Thea did a couple of tunnels. Sampson bounced over jumps and through tunnels and wondered what weaves were.

Today was the inaugural House League.
It was fun but it was a HECK of a lot of work to organize.
Teams. Run list. Score Sheets. Scribe sheets. Volunteer Schedule.
I sure spent more time organizing it then running dogs.

The first class was Tunnellers. H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. Honest. 6 tunnels out. Nothing else. 18 obstacles. People got SO lost it was great! The only faults we got (all three dogs played) were TWICE I sent dogs to the SAME off course. DOH! So Thea and Sally wore 5 faults in that class. Thea did the chute. She thought about backing out but bravely pushed her way through :)
Sally had 6th fastest time even adding an extra tunnel ! HAHA. Though Brody was faster then her somehow. Huh? Did not realize that til I looked.

Next class was jumpers. Nice course with some interesting off course options. I ran good dogs. Sally ran one off course tunnel but funnily enough Brody did too. (though he picked the hard/far end). Sally was the 4th fastest dog on this course. Thea ran a nice clear run but her little legs have a lot more steps to take.

Final class was standard. Blech course to end on but made sense in terms of course building. I ran Sally til her tongue was on the floor. It was a good choice. She blew her aframe contact and jumped off the table early but that was it. I had to send her back into the weaves but that was a function of speed - blasting through a chute to weaves is tough. Brody ran a truly truly foot perfect clear run. He felt great! It wasn't fast (Sally was nearly 5 seconds faster) but even so only 4 dogs were faster then him. (Sally was third fastest!) I don't know why I seem so obsessed with speed in this report... I'm not .. I just find it fascinating to look at what works; doesn't and comparing tiny dogs to long legged gazelles! Brody ran on a total of 5 faults today. Thea on 5 too (though we didn't do standard with her) and Sally kept her total faults to 20. Not too shabby really!
Nice to have all the paperwork figured out. All I have to do next time is a volunteer schedule.

Was fun. And good practise if I am seriously thinking about hosting a trial. . . yikes

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Just an amazing day here ... worked in the garden in the morning - did a little distance work with Brody and a little more distance work with Sally. It went OK. (Which is good as I also mailed off an entry for a trial that includes a gamblers class for Brody - I figure I'll use the time as practise for wracking up points in the opening in Regionals if the gamble will be impossible for him!) He actually layered out past a tunnel to three jumps and it took very little work for me to show him what I wanted. I was pretty impressed. Sally did the same thing and added tunnels both directions and weaves .. I was about 30 feet away from the furthest point .. she blows my mind!

Did some weave entries with Sally too and some one jump work by the fire. (Burning just a little of the detritus from the garden- most goes in compost but some has too many weed seeds or is just too woody). Too funny to multitask like that but she was amazing. Did a little discrimination work, by standing equidistant between the one jump and a set of 2x2 with "over" and "weave". It took her a minute to start listening instead of assuming but she did. Good, crazy, maniacal girl. She's sacked out now. Very peaceful.

It's been wonderful to have an extra stolen day. It's incredible that the weather turned out to be this phenomenal.

Friday, November 12, 2010

the old dogs adventure

We had a nice road trip today. Mum was a guest speaker at Queen's University so I decided to tag along and bring the old dogs with us. My point in Kingston was to chill with my young (and much taller than me) cousin Maddy. It was great to see her. I hadn't spent time with her since June.
Wilkie doesn't know she's nearly 11 so she bounced on my lap trying to see all the sights as we crossed the ferry. Eventually she settled down though she remained optimistic she might be allowed back on my lap. Brody curled up and slept in the car but once we got to Kingston he was happy to truck on down Princess Street (the downtown drag) checking out all the good smells.

I had originally thought I might get a trial in today but the location had an issue and the trial had to be cancelled. I had a lovely lovely day hanging with the Brodster anyhow.
(and did agility on the lawn at home with Sam, Sally and Brody - the weather today was incredible!)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Head Games

had a chance to do an online survey which offered some feedback on my mental game

Coping With Adversity
This will give you an idea about how well you will perform even if you experience setbacks during competition.
0-4 Below average - You better hope nothing goes wrong.
5-9 Average - Improve and you'll be more consistent.
10-12 Above average - You're well prepared for whatever comes your way.

Your Score: 10 / 12 I think I'm fairly resilient ...

Peaking Under Pressure
This can tell you about how performing during your most important events makes you feel.
0-4 Below average - You run the risk of choking at important events.
5-9 Average - There's room for improvement. Sometimes the pressure can get to you.
10-12 Above average - You're at your best when it's all on the line.

Your Score: 11 / 12 - frightening but true. I have yet to experience anxiety about a particular run - the last run at regionals was our best run - I knew I could have about 20 faults and still qualify (my goal) and we ran a smoking clear that got us bonus points and a 6th place!

Goal Setting & Mental Preparation
This gives you an indication of the preparation you have invested in your training and performances.
0-4 Below average - You may experience ineffectual practices and a plateau in your skill level.
5-9 Average - You may find that you struggle with motivation and often have slow starts in competition.
10-12 Above average - You have efficient, focused practices and you're persistent in the face of obstacles.

Your Score: 7 / 12 - no shock - despite my agonizing in this area I get nowhere! I think actually my motivation and performance goals are reasonable - where I fall apart is training goals for EACH and EVERY time I do agility with the dogs. It's too easy to just play with them sometimes.

This will show your ability to focus your attention and fight off distractions.
0-4 Below average - Distractions easily affect your performance.
5-9 Average - You may experience a loss of concentration especially if you're fatigued.
10-12 Above average - You have laser-like focus.

Your Score: 8 / 12 - most of the time I'm OK - and when it's big and important I'm fine but I have had some off courses that are nothing but my fault and Sally's attack rattled me badly - I still hear dogs squabbling when I'm running

Freedom from Worry
This tells you if you view your performances as positive or negative experiences.
0-4 Below average - You experience lots of negative thoughts about your performance.
5-9 Average - Sometimes you focus too much on the consequences of a poor performance to have fun.
10-12 Above average - You chose to enjoy your performance over worrying what others think.

Your Score: 12 / 12 - isn't that ridiculous? However my competitive streak is alive and well and I do this for pleasure - I find it interesting that the test picked that up

Confidence & Achievement Motivation
This can give you an idea about your confidence in your skills and how motivated you are to achieve your goals.
0-4 Below average - You often doubt your abilities and consider quitting when faced with difficult obstacles in your training.
5-9 Average - You're confident to a point. Sometimes tough challenges can make you doubt your skills.
10-12 Above average - You aren't afraid to push your limits and unsuccessful performances drive you to work harder.

Your Score: 10 / 12 - I don't know what I think about this one - I can say I know I run GREAT dogs - and the errors made are mine ...there is no doubt screwing up makes me work harder ...

This is about how well you handle criticism and your ability to make changes to improve your performances.
0-4 Below average - Improvement during training is slow, you have trouble managing your emotions when criticized.
5-9 Average - You benefit from your coach's comments but can lose motivation during practice if there is a lot of criticism.
10-12 Above average - You make adjustments quickly and enjoy the challenges of training with a demanding coach.

Your Score: 8 / 12 I am a little sad to see this - I'd like to be more "coachable" but I know I get frustrated at times with some of the coaching I've had ... don't know how to change this one
I don't like being nagged -but my coaches don't nag me ... something to work on ...

Athletic Coping Score
The combined score on the ACSI can help identify those athletes who are at risk of underachieving, as well as those athletes who have prepared themselves for peak performance.
0-39 Psychological skill set needs improvement - Risk of underachieving
40-60 Average psychological skills - Average performances
61-84 Solid psychological skills - Opportunities for peak performances

Your Score: 66 / 84 - obviously brought down significantly by coachability and goal setting ... and that darn concentration thing .. I do know I have opportunities for peak performance - thanks to the gang nice to see I might be able to contribute to their success too!

got my dawg back ...

Thank heavens our Sally was with me at agility Tuesday night.
I'm not sure who the mad dog of the last two Tuesdays was and I'm sure handling her was good for me but I was very relieved to have wild Sally back.
She held start lines; did the table cooperatively many times; used her newly reinforced skills on the dogwalk and aframe (and I used touch plates every single contact!). She was great. Brody was great. I was exhausted so I was relieved!

The rest of this week was a total training bust so hopefully I can get motivated to get out in the cold this weekend!

and on an unrelated note: I am sick of ticks ... one on Wilkie, two on Brody, one on Thea - BLECH.. memories of the fall of 2008

Monday, November 01, 2010

no boxers, some briefs, a collie mix and a shimaltipoo

Puppy Ryder enjoyed meeting lots of new people and watching agility! Schnauzers, lab mixes, bcs, a portie and more - what a delightful couple of days the Webb Anderson seminar was. The Saturday morning was mostly the dogs natural path which is something I have always considered so find that work very rewarding . All of the courses over the weekend had things I hadn't seen much (if at all)- a teeter pointing at a wall; a tee bone turn into weaves; a pinwheel that repeats with a 180; a serpentine that was a tunnel, jump, aframe. First course I got lost on (this happened in the spring at the Webb seminar too) DOH. Brody was great (of course). Second course was smoother but I nearly got lost - and Webb caught my very slight hesitation. Brody saved my bacon. Good to get caught, usually I fake my way through stuff like that OK. We had a lunch break which was lovely - potluck - lots of yummy pot lucked things :) After lunch we did another course which I hardly remember - except Sally did a good job. And I didn't get lost for ONE second. Interesting huh? Webb suggests maybe I have time to think with Brody and if I think I second guess myself and I wonder if I'm on course. Webb encouraged me to run harder with Sally - and to be SURE I keep moving. Good advice. I let Sally warm up in the other hall. Threw her Frisbee and asked her to touch and weave a little. It was good - she was tired if anything. The last thing we did was a gamble line. Honestly if you'd asked me I would have said Sally would do it no issue at all. I would have been wrong. I didn't really warm her up - it was only 20 minutes between runs maybe. She was INSANE. From the minute she hit the floor til I collapsed on the floor. Her teeter was awful. Her ability to float a pinwheel vanished. She did some nice minutes (maybe just seconds) and we got some of what we wanted. The highlight of this run was letting Webb see just how bad it can be. (aka where I am afraid of going if i let things derail at all). I was exhausted. However, I brought Sally and Brody home and then took Big T out to dinner with some of the seminar folks. We had fun. The next morning was fun. We ended up spending an hour with Sally looking at her aframe, dog walk, teeter, and weaves. She was EXCELLENT. Attentive and easy to work with. (Yes, when we started talking she offered a couple of jumps, a couple of frames, a tunnel of two but it wasn't frantic, it was optimistic!) Watched a lesson, chatted, and had lunch. YUM. Next step was a lesson with Sophie. Again informative and fun. Started with a cool jumpers type course. Lots of pinwheels. I was pleased with Sally though I blew a line or two - they were honest errors. We were both on our game. we played with a couple of interesting spots until they felt great! Brody ran a flawless round. He is such a good boy. The post turn is VERY hard for me... must add it to my list to work on! Last course was also FUN. Zip, zip, flip and fly :) Brody added one jump as I built a wee bit too much momentum for the aframe but that was just fine by me. I could have called him harder and he would have listened but he was having a blast - so I let him blast! Sally was super too. It was a great note to end on. I'm ramped up and have some planning to do - and some goals to work on. What a great weekend. Webb has a perspective that is unique up here .. and it resonates with me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

serious sunday ...

Had a FANTABULOUS time at the Webb weekend - enjoyed working Brody and Sally very much and hanging out with agility people is always fun too. Big T came out to dinner with a bunch of us last night ~ what a sweet guy!

More on that later - I was surfing looking for a good title to label the seminar post and tripped across these beauties ... I like quotes as I believe I've mentioned before ...

You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures. - Charles C. Noble

I need to develop some long term goals for my own sanity I think ... I'm not frustrated particularly though Sally can certainly push my buttons

Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

Always been one of my favourites - gotta know where you've come from - but never be afraid to dream

Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones to genius. - Elbert Hubbard

What an excellent reminder for me in life, not just agility (though you must know there is no just about agility in my life!)

I never worked a day in my life. It was all fun! - Thomas Edison

And while I have worked a couple of days I think Edison and I are pretty darn lucky!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

no trials but plenty of tribulations ..

a more peaceful memory to hold onto in turbulent times -
not that she's ever entirely resting unless she's asleep

First things first - Brody was a SUPER star last night - 2 runs - bing bang boom .. excellent to handle - fun to run!

Second things second. Sally's warm up through the stations was fine though 7 dogs make things a little crowded and a dog running amok through the stations was a bit problematic.

Third things third. Sally. Was. Insane. On. Course.
"Start line stay? say WHA?"
believe me we got them but it took way too long

"Table? do WHA? BARK BARK BARK - k"
got that too but WAY WAY WAY more work than usual.

To be fair the table was set at 16 inches - the one size I never work. I'm thinking about insisting we change the table out- it's too high for Brody and too low for Sally. I guess it's a reasonable compromise but it isn't right - and both dogs seem to know it. (Brody builds speed to it - so falls off it!)

Also, to be fair to Sally Bark Bark Sally, she didn't get her usual warm up - equipment is not the way I warm up for a trial - we play Frisbee, we walk, we work on focus, we touch hands, we spin left and right.. we don't work on crate manners then go right to running. Will try our usual routines this weekend and hope my dog comes back. This one is amusing for the people watching but irritates the heck out of me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thinking hurts my head ..

But my brain doesn't turn off easily.

It's a rainy cold day so I've collected apples for the rabbits and done work around the house (inside!)

Big T took the big dawgs down the road but even they were anxious to get back inside by the woodstove.

We are playing in Webb Anderson seminar next weekend. Looking forward to it yet unsure how to play who and when. Should Sally do most of the work? Should Brody? Leave Thea home on seminar day and bring her out for a few minutes on lesson day? Should I introduce Webb to Sampson? What to do...

Busy week coming up - leading a learning experience Wednesday morning on a topic that many staff are bored by then have commencement on Friday. Wanted to trial that weekend but between seminar and commencement it ain't happening. Frustrated.

Sally has a huge welt on her thigh. How'd she do it? Is it a sign of her immune system failing her? Should I be worried? More worried?

I got a bunch of bulbs planted but have more and garlic to do still. When am I going to get them in? Garden needs work. How can I make time in light to do it?

One of the rabbits (Daisy) has lost a ton of weight. Why? What am I going to do about it? Another (The Mrs) has a bump on her nose. Why? what am I going to do about it?

How long am I going to be living with hedgehogs for? What do I need to do to take care of hedgehogs? Heavens above.

Is life really reduced to series of unanswerable questions at the moment?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sampson's Big Adventure

Poor Sampson was sad. Big T had a conference out of town (in Ottawa in point of fact). I've been exploring options just for times like this and found a boarding establishment on the way to my workplace that offers day boarding. Parkers Pet Care has a great reputation and so far Sammo and I are both thrilled.

I was a little leery of trying it but there were a few things I liked. Dogs can be fed through the day; they are kennelled individually; they get out three times a day; water is changed three times a day. Sampson is already a staff favourite and was very relaxed and happy to return to the kennel today. Staff really listen and try to oblige requests. I watched him being walked toward me today and the staff person was positive and persistent - Sam wanted to be bouncy and rush but the staff person remembered our discussion yesterday and just softly asked him to walk nicely. He was happy to oblige her and was nice and relaxed by the time he got to me!

He was mellow and content last night and, despite me having to go back to work for 3 hours tonight, is mellow tonight too. He isn't exhausted; he's playing with Sally and bright but also fine with lying at my feet. I'm so glad to find him something to enjoy for my long stupid days. A couple of days a week should work well. I'm wondering about trying Sally too - but if ever there was a dog who will be a problem it's Sally!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


oh did you hear that? apologies... my ears hurt too

Sally was, umm how to say this? A LITTLE over the top at agility last night.

She started humming as we turned off the highway to get to the facility. Humming really does describe it. She wasn't whining or barking or squealing just issuing this low buzz. Not a growl. It was deep and chesty and like she was trying not to whine. (Whining doesn't amuse me generally- her humming is quite funny)

We walked nicely into the facility. We walked into the hall. And BARK BARK BARK. Work. BARK Spin. BARK. Heel. BARK Flatwork. BARK. Warmup. BARK. You get the picture.

She barked on the start line for pete's sake. She BROKE her start line. I barked. She didn't repeat that trick again.

She sassed me on the table like I haven't seen in over a year. I waited, waited, waited, waited some more. She finally SHUT UP, lay down through about 4 counts and let me lead out. I stayed patient and I managed not to crack up too badly. She ran well actually but LOUDLY.

Brody ran brilliantly. We only did one course but he was FAST and accurate and wonderful. It seemed so quiet when we were on course. Afterwards he happily played tug and treat with other dogs around. AMAZING.

It was a fun night.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

shades of grey

(a little more Jane Savoie) (and some cool pictures I didn't know I had on a computer)

One of her key concepts is that attitude is a choice. Something I profoundly believe in anyhow. Watching people die with grace and dignity and humour does that maybe. Many people in agility/obedience/dog sport land get obsessed with a q or a placement. I see it on blogs, I see it ringside. But to q or not to q, to place or not to place is awfully black and white. If we can see in shades of grey we can actually identify progression (or regression); identify things to train; see how our dogs are feeling; identify our personal strengths or weaknesses separate to our dogs. It just makes to much sense to me.

See the black and white for sure - after all that's how our dogs see things. (NOTHING grey in Sally world let me tell you - or she'll tell you and she's a lot louder than me).
Did you get the contact or not? Did the cross you used get the desired result? But consider the grey too .. you felt awful leaving the ring as you had a fly off the teeter but your dog held a start line stay better than ever. You won the class and got the q but you thought your dog missed a contact. Both cases are cause for the same work to be done but if you don't notice grey you might not do your homework properly.

A good to school yourself to see grey is to ask questions.
Was my posture better?
Was I in the right place for the cross?
Did my dog hold a steady start line stay?
Was my contact/weaving criteria met? was it better than last time?
When I warmed my dog up did he stretch better and stay more relaxed then last time?
Did I remember the course more easily than last time?
Did I stay more focused than last time?
Did I reward my dog for every effort that was closer to what we were looking for?
Did I feel like I was having a better dialogue with my dog? That is, I was a bit clearer in what I was asking him to do, and he understood me better.
Did I think throughout the majority of my run?

and so on ...

happy grey Sunday to you all :)

basic concept for this is from Jane Savoie as stated - specific examples here:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

cross your fingers ...

have I mentioned Sam is Kong OBSESSED? I've never seen anything quite as crazy.

Sampson had a blood test today ... I'm optimistically hoping that the results will be as positive as the July test was - and he can stay off fortekor and transition from his special diet (which doesn't entirely agree with him) to something else. I hadn't posted about his condition much, if at all, but after we adopted him we realized part of why he was given up may have had something to do with some health issues. He peed a lot. He drank a lot. He was quite pale. Turns out he was anemic and blood work showed kidney disease. Kidneys aren't supposed to get better- maintaining the level is the goal with kidney disease however, somehow, Sampson went from pretty grim results to perfect health results. Go figure. And cross your fingers it has maintained his EXCELLENT blood work.
He's gained 7 pounds (and I am sure he's lost some since the end of summer as he has missed his late meal a few night since life has gone nuts again)

He got his vaccines today too so now, if all results are good, he can try a local day care where he won't have to play with other dogs but will have people play time and outings through the day .. would be so nice for him and me.

Sammer is tired tonight. He was pretty darn funny at the vets, it wore him right out which is fine with all of us but Sally!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

a little dream weaving ...

Last night was fun. I arrived a little early so took Thea into the empty back hall and did some dogs walks and aframes with her. We worked through the chute too but she needed quite a bit of support for that. Did our end of teeter excerice as well. She was excellent - happily lying on it as I gently moved it around. We then went and watched a class running it's courses. Good for her to be around dogs doing agility; even if it has to be in the safely of my arms.

Brody did the warm up stuff - he was fine - though taking weird angles to get on the teeter if I sent him to it. He rocked his courses though. ROCKED them in fact - he is pretty cute when he is flying.

Sally was pretty over the top to be working there. I need to discipline myself to take her over and NOT do agility I guess but what fun would that be?
At one point she went wide on a front cross and ended up backjumping towards me. She immediately knew that wasn't what I wanted so started doing her own one jump working hoping I'd say "yes" and carry on with her. I was TOTALLY frozen in place just waiting her out. She did the jump (back and forth and forth and back) at LEAST 14 times. Finally she dropped to place - I rewarded her by moving fast to do the jump, the weaves, a tunnel. She was THRILLED.

I got home way too late - and fell into bed with happy visions of agility dancing in my head to weave into the fabric of my dreams ... happy dreams indeed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

the apple of my eye?

you know we could be doing agility?

'Tis apple season around these parts ... our school house has 4 ancient apple trees around the perimeter. The dogs love the windfall apples (as do the bunnies) ...

Sampson celebrates his one year anniversary with us this weekend. He fell into our laps and while our year has had some significant challenges (rude, adolescent, never been played with or walked on leash, never met dogs or cats or toys before, borderline SA, had some health issues) he is turning out to be a DELIGHTFUL soul.

Kizmet the little black and white shi with brain lesions has made it through a full year plus a little (2 weeks maybe?) with us. He is not what anyone could call a normal dog but with a solid routine he spins less and takes pleasure in simple things like a chin scratch!

Sally celebrates FOUR years with us as of tomorrow. This dog has aged me like no other. Like most everyone here she kind of fell into our laps. We didn't want a puppy - in fact we placed both Sally's sister Sophie and brother Duncan after fostering them through the summer. They were amazing puppies and I would happily have kept either of them if I had been looking for a one. Sally was placed in a home too. A good, loving, nurturing home. But she was sick. And getting sicker. The home decided they couldn't face losing her - and death seemed imminent so she was returned. Big T and I do palliative fostering, in fact often it's our speciality so we were asked if we could take her in. The expectation was we would love her and she'd have a couple of quiet months with us then we'd be euthanzing her; likely before Christmas. We said Yes. Life has never been the same.

She came to work with me daily and had weekly vet visits. She ate every 2 hours around the clock for about 2 weeks. (Yes, I got tired). We developed a special diet for her. Home cooked and with supplements. A Canine nutritionist developed the diet with my vet's cautious blessing. Monica Segal (the nutritionist) was amazing to work with (as was my fabulous vet Dr Au). I do NOT recommend home cooking for a puppy generally. I believe the diet is too hard to balance correctly however Sally was out of other options. (At that point Sally was actually known as "Oh Daisy Doodle Carmel Been Sick" which became "Oh Sally Daisy Doodle Carmel Been Barking" a good sign really. She got named Sally abot u6 weeks after coming to us when Big T said - daises die in the fall we need to rename her again - it was her third name in her short life -apparently third time was a charm in this case!)

It wasn't all a bed of roses - until March I wasn't sure she'd survive. She had great days and weeks, then dreadful days and hours. I'm still not sure she'll survive - she tests herself and my heart often still ;) even before I was certain she'd survive puppyhood I started taking her to classes and letting her enjoy life as much as she could.

She's got that down to a fine art!

Thea joined us in a June - a perfect time of year to adopt a perfect puppy! her first adventure with us included sneaking into fancy hotels and resteraunts in Montreal in a bag as we couldn't leave her but we had this trip booked and paid for way ahead of time.

Brody came to us in a January - a HORRIBLE time of year to adopt a baggage filled adolescent!

I couldn't pick one apple of my eye - all are fabulous in their own ways!

And yes we've been doing agility all weekend - yesterday we worked serpentines and threadles pretty much. Even Thea was doing them. Today we worked this routine , the speed trap one, from Bud Houston's blog (except we had to use jumps and the weaves as we don't have contacts here yet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

That winning feeling

Brody has NO ribbon pictures at all - so I decided to remedy that with this shot - his most recent title ribbon (masters snooker dog of canada)

Don't get me wrong - I like ribbons - they are pretty and they hold lots of memories but ...

It's Not Just About The Ribbons.

Honest, Jane Savoie says so.

She should know.

She was a Olympic contender and is an Olympic coach.

Her sport is dressage (fancy horse dancing for those who know nothing about horses) and it's a serious, hard core sport.

I got her book, It's Not Just About The Ribbons, a couple of years ago; read it; enjoyed it and revisited it at bedtime last night. I read articles by her back BA (before agility) and found them meaningful. As an event rider dressage was always my biggest challenge - my horses thought it was boring and so did I. (yah I know - no shock they did if I did ... I got that even then!)

I have my own mental psychology thing going on with dog sports - I don't get nervous about a run (though I can imagine runs I would be nervous about when a LOT was on the line for example); I really am at a place now where I can enjoy the run. The Q is nice, the Q is a just reward for hard work and lots of money but it is not the be all and end all for me.

However the thing that STRUCK me last night was her discussion of insecurity. Of course her book is horse oriented but she feels, and I agree, that everyone suffers from insecurity to one degree or another. She believes that horses humble people (I'd say many dogs do too) and we have to always struggle to master new skills. Hitting plateaus in training don't help and given the competitive nature of our sport(s) we compare ourselves to others all of which can lead to lack of confidence.

She discusses the challenge of training alone all the time (prompting second guessing - did I do that right? can I do this? and so on) and the challenge of only working with a trainer watching - which can create dependency and a lack of self faith. Interesting eh?

She also shares the story of jumping fleas. If you put fleas in a jar without a lid on it they will eventually jump right out of it. If you put a lid on that jar with new fleas in it they will jump for a bit and stop jumping when they realize they can't get out. Once the lid is taken off the jar they WON'T jump out even though they easily could.

I believe her point is we should all find any ceilings we've put in place on our abilities and let go of our perceptions around them. we don't know what we can achieve until we do it.

Other tools she offers for insecurity are the "as if" principle and "changing your physiology" .

"As if" simply means acting confident. Eventually you won't have to act confident you'll simply be confident. I do "as if" all the time. I learned that one back in riding days when I would be so nervous going into a ring I'd literally be shaking. Shaking doesn't make for a confident horse so I HAD to get it under control. As if was my technique.

"Changing Physiology" is similar (if I understand it properly). It is putting on what you need in a situation. Does it matter if you sing when you're happy or dinging makes you happy? Not really if what you need to do is sing. Either scenario leads to singing and that's the goal.

I hadn't realized that I got my goal setting habit from Savoie until last night. More on that another time.

It's a good book if you know anything about horses or can work around examples that may not be intuitive for you. I'll work my way through it with you in doggy terms anyhow though!

Sampson says enough thinking ... how about throwing the freaking Kong already??

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I got a beautiful feelin '

you didn't think I could do that did ya? HA!

Down in the county this weekend - what a glorious day today is. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you (like me) who have a long weekend this weekend!

Started my day with some chain saw action. I have a little saw and a big pile of wood too small for Big T to waste his time on that burns as well as any other wood and won't fit in the fire unless I get sawing. Got maybe a third of my pile done.

Nice walk at the farm with Big T, Ma, Wilkie, Sally, Sampson, Brody and Thea.

Then it was time for agility work. Thea wasn't too sure about jumping while I sat on the ground and snapped. Once she figured it out she was pretty cooperative though.
She has done no agility at all in over 5 weeks so some simple one jump work and a couple of tunnels, and some 2x2 shaping were plenty for her.

I set up a loop long tunnel, jump, short tunnel, jump, jump, jump, weaves
It wasn't quite a simple loop but pretty close as I realized Sally never gets to do weaves at any speed at all - we have been separating them out from the courses pretty much and I wanted to see how she would do. She was great. Her offside weaves took a trial run through before she realized she wouldn't get rewarded if she popped out early but then she buckled down and concentrated and found her entrances. So nice to have such independent action.

Brody, on the other hand, could NOT figure out how to weave offside. I have been doing some shaping with him on 2x2 so he actually found his entrance from either side but he COULD NOT stay in past the third pole if I was offside. His onside weaves were great though so again I think I'll work around them. I was sort of thinking it might be worth the work to fix em .. but why would I bang his head and mine on a brick wall that hard? The last thing he deserves is to get demotivated or stressed by my stupidity. And it's not like he'll ever weave away from me no matter how much work I put into this at this point.

I'm glad I got out there and did a bit of work. I was tempted to let it slide then thought about how much I'll be missing it on rainy, snowy and otherwise impossible days. Brody is still alert and would go again but he always keep something in the tank. Sally and Thea are wiped out.

Ummmm yes- Sampson did a couple of tunnels ... this time with a little jump between them!

Friday, October 08, 2010

and ..goal setting revisited

I have tried to goal set over the two and half years but really my only goal should have been getting back into agility.

Now however I have been back for 4 months. Time to kick my sorry ask me now more questions self into gear and figure out a plan. So from now to regionals (ish):

Brody - the BIG debate still raging in my head is go for ATCH or not....
the masters gambles will be very very hard for my steady velcro freddy ... if I want to do them I'd better get started on them seriously soon ....
other goals for Brody- AAC - snookers title ... with one to go I know that will happen
participate in regionals (location dependant) and perhaps qualify for nationals ( points # dependant) - Or maybe I should just express that as earn 350 + points at regionals ...
CPE - finish all level 3 titles (1 standard, 1 colours, 1 fullhouse, 2 wild card and 3 jackpot to go- dunno about jumpers ...missed that class somehow in my counting) and see where we get ... CPE trials are done til feb at the earliest so we may not quite this knocked off but we should be able to make a good start

Thea - AAC - advanced jumpers earn another 2 qs and be in mastees jumpers - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (better work on chute too then) - think about regionals
play in snookers and gamblers and see where we get
CPE - earn 300 more points towards our level one points title (the very most any class can earn is 25 points - and many are 20) so thats at LEAST 12 classes
overall - chute, teeter, weave training - get those skill sets in place :)

Sally - AAC - earn starters game title (2 snookers, one gamble to go); start playing in standard classes; work on advanced game title
CPE - earn all level 2 games titles, earn level one standard title
overall - get an aframe I'm happy with and maintain criteria across the board

My goals - maintain my training, maintain my attitude towards trialling as a stepping stone to what I want - as someone emailed me today - don't get sucked in by the mighty Q god ..

My q rate has been pretty high over the last 4 months - both collectively and individually but that wasn't my goal .. it's a lovely side result of the work we've invested in agility- I need to accept that it probably won't always stay that high depending on who I'm running where and for what purpose. \

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Best things ..

about Sunday trial

Sally continues to hold start line stays ...
Brody RAN the dog walk hard and got his contacts (aframe too)
Brody entered weave poles and weaved all weekend
Brody was quick and obviously happy to be playing
Sally was able to both collect and extend as required
Sally got her dog walk contact (only had one contact but got it!)
Sally and Brody were quiet and fairly relaxed in crate
I got to watch hundreds of runs with a critical eye
warm up routines for Sally and Brody both worked ..

I got to play with incredible generous dogs ... aren't I lucky?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

blurry eyes and brain

a 12 hour day - hundreds of clicks on the truck - cold , hot, damp and happy

CPE morning (running and volunteering)+ AAC afternoon (volunteering)= happy me

restored me maybe even - at least a little

I felt guilty about going to the trial but I had committed to help the whole weekend so felt guilty about just going one day too - this was actually a reasonable, working comprimise as it turned out

Our first class was a level three standard - Brody's run. Brody ran in 3.8 yps. No bobbles, no worries. LOTS of dogs struggled with a turn to a chute off the dog walk then another turn after a line of jumps to a teeter. Interesting but Brody had no issues.

Then Sally had a colours course - 4.5 yps and we held on the dogwalk to reinforce that. She was fastest dog of all at the level 1-2 (she was running as level 2) There was a nice tunnel under the dogwalk away to the far side of the course thing too. She handled it like the pro she is turning out to be.

Brody's Colours course was smooth as it could be honestly. Not speedy but flowy and lovely, certainly not slow. 3.7 yps it turns out - pretty quick when you consider the dogwalk and weaves were both on course.

Brody's snookers was next - again I went for flow - 7, 7 (a three part combo) then 2 ..we often do one jump drills so I really dont mind pulling my dogs around to rejump (not back jump) number 2. Brody made it all the way through the freaking closing!!!!!!! I'm sure we've done it before but never with 2 sevens as part of our path. What a boy!!!

Sally's snookers was next (and last). We did three sevens in our opening and she was FANTASTIC. Again it was a 2 jump, one tunnel combo and we did some slicing that a lesser green dog wouldn't have managed. However, I was in a BIZZARe place for the single number 5 jump and it came down. Fair enough - Brody could have done it - Sally could have done but there was a turn to a tunnel afterwards and the combo of my position and the next obstacle was a little over her head. I let her do the tunnel anyhow as it was on the way to the finish line as I was well pleased with her run.

What good dogs!!

Saturday, October 02, 2010


My second blog entry ever was about getting a teeter for my birthday in 2007. Big T and my mum combined forces this year to feed the addiction something fierce. And my birthday is more than a month away!!

They are apart at the end of the driveway at the moment.

Getting them was much more difficult than it should have been (on the last day of the month I don't recommend trying to find a truck to fit a dogwalk. It felt like the whole world moved Sept 30 this year and I had virtually no notice of my time line for moving the equipment~ geez I need cheese for that whine ~ forgive me!)

They are old; they are heavy. Actually they are HEAVY! But they are solidly built and only need a coat of paint. (Input on colours welcomed and appreciated actually)

(this aframe isn't quite right - ours is more like the dog walk above actually. I promise pictures of ours if we ever get it back together)

Sally is FASCINATED. She can't walk by them without sniffing and pawing the pieces. I'd swear she's saying "Put em together lets GO GO GO". Big T is sure she's saying "Get this junk off the driveway and tucked away into the garage".

I'm excited. It seems to be coming together somehow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

life, death and agility

Work is insane. Truly, madly crazy.

Hondo died this week. 64 years young and a force of life to be reckoned with. He stowed away on a ship to Australia when he was young and in love. He then worked in mines, tuna factories and more. Then he went to university (a first in my family) and became a teacher. he deep sea dived, was an incredible (and awarded) artist, athlete, mentor, husband, father and my uncle. 4 male mentors of mine have died this year. One in his 80's, one in his 70's and 2 in their 60's. I will miss each of them very much but Hondo is the only one who has been part of my life since I was born. I adored him in a way I think only children can. With all my heart and faith and trust. I have to speak at the service for him. Not just a reading but my own writing. Wow. I need to rehearse it something fierce and get my head together.

(Thea looks insane here but she loved Hondo, and Hondo thought she was amazing - this is a picture from last Thanksgiving - just a little less than a year ago - how quickly things change eh?)

I dragged Brody, Sally, Thea and myself to agility last night. Thea didn't end up playing but Brody and Sally did. Class started with a speed circle. Just what Sally needs - more speed!! She was excellent. Flying the course like the super star she is. I did a couple of aframes with her and a couple of one jump things then the warm up .. one was a dogwalk, jump jump tunnel jump teeter tunnel dogwalk routine - the other was a chute, table, jump, tire, weave thing. She was awesome.

I put her away and brought Brody out to play for a bit - he did two rocking courses. Gosh he's a good boy. He went away and Sally came back out after class to try the course. She was pretty wild (10 extra hours of sleep a day while I'm working does that to a fit active dog I guess) but collecting well and listening so hard to me it was amazing. I do need to run her into the ground between now and Sunday somehow though. She has two classes and Brody has three in a cpe morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sometimes mail is fun

One of the sad things about growing up for me was how unfun mail became ...
bills, notices, requests for money .. I'd bet less than 10 percent of my mail comes close to approximating fun now ...

Today was different though ... I got a medium sized envelope from South Lyons, MI - home of CPE.

Inside that AIRMAIL, DO NOT BEND envelope there were certificates

Thea's CL1-R (Standard) and CL1-F (fun*) certificates arrived and so did

Sally's CL1-S (Strategy), CL1-H (Handler) and CL1-F (fun again - how fitting!) certificates.

Thea could now, if I put initials after my dogs names, wear "Thea CL1" with pride - she's earned all the cpe level 1 titles - at least I think that's what the title is once they are all done

CPE only updates the website once a year if you don't keep membership up .. but they do send the certificates as earned - very nice little pick me up today!!

I actually missed class this week - worked too late and felt too punk when I got home

Thea is home again ... we haven't done anything yet but love on her but we are all enjoying that!!

* isn't that a great title name?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Problem Solving - aka more $%^& aframe

oh my word - I was looking for a specific quote about problem solving I shared with my students today that got my brain puzling over Sally's aframe woes ... and I have found a whole string by the same person that may have relevance to the great aframe dilemna.

Here they are:

Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.

It is better for people to be like the beasts...they should be more intuitive; they should not be too conscious of what they are doing while they are doing it.

I'm working very hard to identify what the challenge is about an aframe with Sally. Is she unclear about touch behaviour? On the flat she's fine, on a step, teeter or dog walk it's clear (though often her 2 off is 2 toes off .. which I'm actually fine with. She doesn't really care about doing it a bunch of times while I watch and bite my nails and worry it will never come. I need to just work it through.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

So clarify, simplify and don't give it is my take away from this combo of quotes ...
and, finally, the one that led me on this hunt

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

As I'm not sure what created this issue it's hard for me to know what not to repeat ... however it seems that putting her endlessly on the side of the frame and having her bounce into 2o2o is NOT likely to solve the problem as she GETS what to do in that set up. So these great quotes haven't solved the problem but they have given me fodder to mull over.

Who expounded all this wisdom for me to consider as I ponder the freakin' aframe issues? I'm so glad you asked. Albert Einstein. Yup - a fellow I'm pretty darn sure never even imagined agility let alone pictured aframe issues.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday wonderings...

Sitting here with 10 extra minutes as I have to drop a foster kitten off at the vets for the day to have his leg staples removed. Travolta is a real cutie, solid grey with a fine featured face - and one affectionate funny sweet baby. Do I spend the time cleaning? Not when I have a session last night to report on and waffles in the freezer!

I was early enough to watch the group before us work- they are HILARIOUS. Out of control - all over the place but so much FUN! It was a riot to watch them.

Then we were up - I decided to do the warm up with Brody as he doesn't get as much fitness work as Sally through the fall. There were three stations - one was a chute, tire, tunnel , and 3 jumps that could be run as a straight line that didn't look like it could be ... a _ I kind of thing ...

another was aframe jump tunnel weaves and tunnel under the frame

the last was dogwalk, flip to tunnel jump jump turn to teeter tunnel and dog walk

the course sort of put together all these elements

Brody had no real issue on course - he saved me once the first run, reading a weird send correctly and getting the tire without much effort. The second run was one of those runs where it is just a thing of beauty - everything gelled perfectly - I was on, he was on - sheer freakin' poetry!

I brought Sally in afterwards and she was pretty amazing too - she was over the top in some ways - barking and barking but she actually stayed focussed through the barks and did everything asked well - including weaving past toys on the ground - WOOHOO! I was almost trying to drive her batty - just walking slowly and not letting her run. Sometimes having to exert that much control and collection is good for her. She was exhausted afterwards so I know she was really working.

I then hung out too long catching up (life, love, the pursuit of happiness type stuff) and got home at midnight. Now it's my turn to be exhausted but, like Sally last night, it feels good.

What good dogs I play with!

Monday, September 13, 2010

this that and then a little more this ...

OMG - I logged in to yak about the demo yesterday and looked out the back door to see Sally with her head STUCK between the railing of the deck ... She twisted her way out but was CERTAINLY stuck. What possesses her? If I ever understand her I'll be shocked; I actually think it's the combination of smart, joyful and no fear that gets her into these positions - what a wild gal!

Demo yesterday was fun. Brody saved me twice on his course ... I ended up flailing a little more than I do usually and also ended up standing in front of a jump. I have NO idea how Brody knew where he should be but he followed me then self corrected - Wow! Since I've started Sally up seriously I don't think I give my generous, giving, rockstar Brody enough credit. He's awesome!

Sally was good too - the ground was rough so I wobbled which pulled her off course once but she sent away, listened though some LOUD rocking music and did a nice 12 weaves with quite a crowd beside them. (Man everybody, agilityphiles or not, love watching foot work through weaves... people started clapping when she hit about pole 4). The course was nice - long lines which is just what I need to practise with Sally!

Thea is hanging with her aunt Judy at the moment - so she didn't get to play ... which I am sure she was fine with her (sunbathing suits her to a T too)!

Working the dogs when I can. They love it and always want MORE MORE MORE. Doing some interesting flatwork with both Brody and Sally which is good for my footwork if nothing else.

oh yes and Happy Birthday Mum ... words really are inadequate to express how totally lucky I am to have this amazing, strong, elegant woman in my life! Pretty flower is for her - it's the first time I've been able to grow sunflowers and Big T has been asking me to grow him some for years so it's a happy picture - just for Monday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

reflections and practise

Sept 11 - again. What memories flash back annually. Certainly THE moment my generation (and many others) will never forget what they were doing as the towers fell. It was a gorgeous day here today. So I remember, I grieve for all whose lives changed so dramatically that day and in the following days but I celebrate the freedoms we have.
Which today included some rocking agility work. (play?).

Brody was up first while Sally went for a road walk with Big T and Sammo. I staggered 3 jumps so they weren't in a straight line but went away from me. I then ran straight and pushed Brody out to the jumps. He read me well. So, I made it harder. I asked him to come off the line and do a tunnel then finish the line. I worked on start line stays. We did a LOT of very different things with what seemed to be a pretty straightforward set up at first. Then we went and caught up to the road walkers!

Sally played with the same lines though with her I called her to me, sent her all the way along the line and did the run as well. I left sticks on her route and spun her in and out of tunnels and up and down on the table. She was, no shock, amazing too.

Later on I did weaves with them both. Not easy this weaving stuff. Though both were moving pretty fluidly through the poles after a couple of reps. Sally worked both sides quite well.

And even later on I did a jump grid fan. 3 jumps in a tight pinwheel. Both dogs wanted to wobble off a definite line but it didn't take long to get them working hard and straight (on the curved line). I was pleased as both worked really well on both sides.

So three chunks of agility, working on different skill sets and we are all happy and content now. Demo tomorrow at a park I've never been to - will be good for all of us :)

oh .. yes... in case you wondering resistance IS futile - I did work Sampson a bit - a couple of tunnels and a simpler three jump line .. he was very good .. oh dear ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

and so it starts again and again ...

well back to routines approaching normalcy for 10 months of the year ...

less blogging, less reading, less gardening, less walking, and less agility training ... ACK !!

good thing I like fall is all I can say

I feel for the dogs - the change is pretty drastic for them too...

however agility last night was good

I did 2/3 warm up stations with Sally - she was great - nice offside weaves though they are still slower than onside weaves ... I don't get it - must be me!

I missed the first station as I was my usual cautious self and just watched the other dogs at first - especially the 2 I didn't know at all.

Station we missed was a dog walk, tunnel, tire combo

Station two was a teeter a tunnel a jump and weaves

Station three was jump jump tunnel jump tunnel

Then onto the course ... jump, dog walk, tunnel, table, tunnel ,(tricky turn) jump, aframe, weaves, tunnel, jump, (tricky turn) tire teeter, tunnel jump, chute, jump, jump, tunnel

Sally nailed it .. she popped up on the table once or twice but settled in for the full count after two false starts .. her aframe was OK but I micromanaged it - GAH - BAD HANDLER .. but I am convinced she doesn't know the job - so what I should be doing is an alternate - on this course there was no easy alternate though

I then went and got Brody - he did the course twice back to back - he FLEW it ... layered an aframe .. read rear crosses like the little rock star he is ... he actually surprised me twice and I had to hustle to get where I needed to be

I ran all three courses pretty well flat out - there were lots of crosses and handler options out there - kept me very engaged - which was good as the other folks are not quite as competitive as I am .. both in an attending trials sense and in a challenging themselves sense ...

I was puffed at the end - which delighted me as the last thing I want to do is lose the summer fitness I have now

good no GREAT dogs, shame about the handler as usual

Sunday, September 05, 2010

lazy training day ...

I guess I wasn't totally lazy as I worked rear crosses on the three jump set up with Brody. Brody and Thea are not rear cross dogs. I have always thought it was me but with Sally I have little to no trouble with them so I guess it's a combo thing. Today Brody was rocking his rear crosses too. It was really fun to see him start to get the hang of what I might be doing and drive ahead anyhow.

Sally? I was lazy with. I stood in one spot and spun in circles. Sending her over a jump through a tunnel over the jump again through the other end of a tunnel, over a different jump, through a tunnel, a jump jump combo ... whatever I wanted Sally freaking flew it. She is a dream dog to run. NOTHING gives her more pleasure than agility. Big T watched for a minute and commented afterwards that Sally's joy doing agility is so obvious it's like she bounces with every step. I'll call it working on gambles skills but really what we were doing was having fun. It may be a LONG time til we can goof around like that. I literally took one step in any direction at the most.

(apart from training lazy today was NOT a lazy day - we moved the chickens to their wnter home; I cleaned out the coop; we turned over 2 beds and harvested on bed of potatoes; buried Asia and Ibby; Big T cut wood.. we should be sore tomorrow!)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

camping last night

With a clicker in my pocket ... boy Sally loves working ... walking in the field spinning right and left on cue beside me .. Brody danced and danced and spun ... Sampson galloped around smelling good smells and came instantly on every recall no matter what he had to leave to get to me. His default sit is well in hand now and his down is much more relaxed. My summer goals for Sampson were met. YAY! I don't think I set summer goals for anybody else .. but I exceeded whatever they might have been.

Big T made a LOVELY dinner on our tiny portable grill somehow. Salmon steaks, rice and a cucumber .. YUM YUM YUM. He also snuck a little chocolate bar into the cooler for a late night snack to share. He goes out of his way to make sure I enjoy camping with him and I truly do.

It was actually pretty funny last night as we ended up watching an episode of Breaking Bad on my computer. In the middle of nowhere with no lights except two flashlights no power .. and still we manage to use technology!

We sleep in a tent trailer on the farm .. it's amazing .. you are part of nature yet when it rains (as it did last night) you stay dry and pretty darn comfortable.

The coyotes run right along various trails overnight. yipping and yapping and downright howling at times. It's a beautiful symphony as long as you know you won't get a full solid sleep. We knew that last night ~ so could really appreciate the chorus. Sampson was pretty freaked out .. Brody just quietly growled and Sally just listened attentively. Sampson did well - it was his first night sleeping out of a crate and I suspect he liked it! Nice way to wrap up a lovely lovely summer.

Agility happened before we left to camp. I set up a three jump exercise I've never seen anybody use before. It was like a serpentine but I picked up the middle jump and turned it on a 90 degree angle then spread out the line a little. It made a great pattern for pretty fancy figure eights and front and rear crosses. I am surprised I haven't seen it before.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

Somehow last night in the middle of the night I was reminded of The Itchy and Scratchy Show.
You may recall the mice and cat from the Simpsons who killed eachc other multiple times in the most gory of ways?

Our own itchy and scratchy dog spent much of the night unhappy and uncomfortable. Poor Sally, her allergies really are dreadful at this time of year. Benedryl doesn't touch them and while Vanectyl-P helps I do try to keep the doseage minimal as it is a steroid. Ideally I'd have her on 2 pills every 48 hours - the best I've been able to do this season so far is occasionally extend her dose to 36 hours.

Big T once named a pair of foster pups we had Itchy and Scratchy - they were in our isolation suite downstairs with nasty cases of both parvo and mange. They were only about 12 weeks old when they moved in - it took about 5 weeks to clear them for real life. Socializing puppies through isolation was interesting. Luckily they are very sweet girls and were happy to work and play through their sickness and back into health. They were adopted together and renamed laker and Brooke.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

bet you didn't know

retrievers come in a silver brown too?
at least after they've been rolling in a mud flat ...

Brody waded in it too - he was DISGUSTING ~ at least his bottom half was

Sally raced through it in graceful arching leaps so hardly got muddy

but Sampson really took the cake - rolling and wallowing and just having a great time - I wish I'd had the camera on me there ... however he was still quite a sight when we got back the truck (and camera)

Agility drill today consisted of 2 arched tunnels with one short straight tunnel in the middle - practised rear crosses and complicated pulls to proper ends of the tunnel .. also let Sally blast a couple of nascar circuits - which she thought was FABULOUS.. but she kept her head together and shot off to jump and weave and turn as asked ...

Friday, August 27, 2010

relationships ..

Agility is all about relationships. In fact our life with dogs is all about our relationships with them.

That might be a rather evident thought - and I think I have danced around this issue before but I just came in from a rousing game of rolling on the grass with Brody and it struck me. I was working on agility as I grabbed his toes, threw a little stick, let him tug on my sweatshirt sleeve. He had fabulous hairy fits in circles round me but kept coming back for more. I was working on his fitness, I was working on our relationship. I was working on agility.

This is a 10 year old dog who I have always described as sober and aloof. He will do all kinds of things as tricks - as long as payment is apparent but playing crazy names is nowhere on his daily to do list. About once a month or so he'll play a little with Thea, Sally or I but his usual choice when I'm playing with anybody else is to lie in the shade and happily watch.

Was he looking to work on our relationship too? I suspect so - the agility gang got 2 full days off agility (though they got walked, stretched and played with) and 2 very light days of work - a simple jumping circle, a teeter or two. Perhaps Brody knows as well as I do the Mark Twain quote

"Work and play are words used to describe the same thing

under differing conditions”

All I know is we had fun.

Sally worked 12 weaves this morning. she wants to do MORE!! NOW!!

Trying to sort out my fall schedule - making me crazy. I think I will try to do pair days or even singles - mostly anyhow. Finding half days that have two classes I can run in is harder than it should be. I guess organizers try to spread out classes people may want so people end up volunteering. I just don't have enough time to be at trials all day all weekend through the fall.