Saturday, July 31, 2010

blow me over with a feather ...

Today is Brody's 10th birthday.

I was checking the aac stats pages (wondering in fact when I could add the link to Thea's page) when I noticed Brody has 4 snookers qs! How'd that happen? After our last snookers outing I was thinking it might be forever til we got another snookers q. Blow me over. I redid my math and that lovely last run we did had 1+7+1+7+1+4+2+3+4+5 = 35 points - Brody is a vet and only needed 34 points ... I thought we needed the 6 we so nearly got but we didn't. What a nice birthday treat eh? I was happy with the run anyhow. Usually surprises in my life haven't been positive lately so that was a most lovely shock!


Happy birthday rockstar, rock, a piece of my heart.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

B.A.R. F!

oh she LOOKS innocent doesn't she?

And no I don't mean the biologically appropriate raw food diet some people feed their dogs. I mean Sally makes me want to hurl. On Tuesday and Wednesday she dealt with road kill in a stomach churning manner - for me not her. Today, after 4 + hours in the car we went for a lovely walk at the farm. Second cut hay was off the fields and I'm not sure if the machinery had caught some small animals or hawks and coyotes had with the more naked fields. Either way Sally spent quite a lot of time "cleaning up" little bits of dead animals and one quite large one. It seems to bother me a lot more than her. Thank heavens given her predilection for getting herself in trouble. On reflection maybe the BARF diet suits her .. at least when it's her own finds...interestingly all the other dogs think she's disgusting too!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I nearly did it

I had EVERY intention of taking a day off agility today - which would be the first agilityless day since July 1st.

I still did dog stuff (of course): downs with Thea; GO with Sally; the never ending wait with Sally; some fitness and balancing work with the Brodster; some drop it stuff with Sammo; cleaning up half eaten road kill with Sally (oh yes that was SOME Spesul) but I didn't do a table, tunnel or jump. I did calculate the cost of the agility equipment I want. ***

I did garden stuff. Rabbit stuff. Chicken stuff. Housecleaning stuff. Ate dinner.

Then our house guest Lily asked to go out. So we all went out. And I SWEAR my weave poles called my name. They were lonely. We hadn't used them since Saturday.

So Sally worked weaves for her disc and was FABULOUS. Brody worked weaves for chicken - also fabulous. And I finally pulled a 2x2 set out and worked Thea on entries a little. She was getting it. The little Princess of Lure was actually shaping a wee bit. And Brody showed off.

So I'll have to try an agility free day some other time- like in September!

*** anybody have a few thousand dollars they don't want or need lying around?

Monday, July 26, 2010

meaningful monday ... more quotations to ponder

today's topic - but first meet Lily - one of this summer's house guests - she won't be doing any agility don't you worry - She is totally blind (in point of fact she has no eyes but that doesn't bother her so I try not to let it bother me)


I have to be honest - I'm loving 3 minute practices multiple times through the day - sometimes we work 5 or more times eh? THIS is THE LIFE

Sally loves them. Thea loves them. Brody wants to work once a day without the wild women anywhere in sight. And that's OK too.

Ray Bradbury has this to offer

"I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

Unlike many of the practise quotations that I read Bradbury wasn't a sporting person yet I think this thought will make my ultimate top ten list of agility quotations. I can be lazy about practise sometimes but boy when I put work into it it pays off in spades. I do enjoy the sport - bordering on obsessive love and it seems so sad to me to watch people who are not enjoying the day at agility.

"Practice as if you are the worst, perform as if you are the best."

I can't do this with Brody. Brody isn't an easy dog to practise with. He hates drills, gets bored and turned off easily if he gets something wrong but he will practise. Just going back in time to weaving when he really didn't get it at all I took Christmas wrapping paper tubes and set them in glasses and put 6 out in my living room/dining room. every single time we went through that space we weaved. (And rewarded heavily for correct performance). It worked.

"What a player does best, he should practice least. Practice is for problems."

This is great for Thea. She is truly a tiny dog. Two long sequences for her are like running a marathon would be for Sally. So we focus our practises. We do lots on wobbly boards and planks. A little jumping but not much and only a tunnel or two. We should do more weaves.

"It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice" Eric Lindros

This just fits this summer so well. When we practise I take time to have a plan. I organize the rewards. I know what I want from who. Sometimes doing all that takes longer then the practise (with all three) does. Usually it takes longer than one dog's run to organize.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Silly Sally

may have to give up her "silly" moniker

Sampson is turning out to be quite the goof ball

yup that's his tail - a year old and he still thinks it's funny to chase and chew his tail

it's even more fun stealing the camera bag while Thea and Sally are having their photo shoot!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

jump jump jump

oh now that was some FUN

The wild women had a trial last night, if you can even call it that. Thea had a jumpers class and Sally had a standard class and a jumpers class.

First (in discussion not in order of go) the disaster - the standard run. I sat Sally and said go not wait. OOPS! She came right back before crossing the start line and sat again but was PEEVED. She was barking and tossng her head and just hilarous. I released her. She flew the jump and brought it down, raced for the dog walk and was NUTZ the rest of the round. She actually ran over to investigate a lab playing outside the ring - I actually touched her to return her to the last obstacle - the tire. Silly Sally. But there were a few good things to keep in mind. It took awhile but we got our table count done. Her weaves were amazing - hit 'em frst try - popped the last pole (the tunnel was callling her name loudly I guess) but came right back and did a fabulous job. Her teeter was solid and she waited to be released. She stayed on course though she added one obstacle.

Jumpers, in the other hand, was AMAZING. Sally held her start line stay perfectly and read the turn to a pinwheel despite a jump right in front of where a straight line would take her. Many dogs didn't turn for the pinwheel. Many dogs dropped bars. Some dogs missed jumps. Miss Sally, my wild dog was in control. She had FOCUS. She was fast. AND she was careful. She was clean. She earned a Q. She ran like a dream. She was only the third dog in the ring so people weren't really watching or appreciating the challenges of this little starters course. Applause was very scattered (which is fine with me - I don't suffer ring nerves much at all and don't pay any mind to the people around me).

Thea was last in the class. Thea creates buzz where ever she goes. Her joy? Her size? I don't know but I do know if I could clone her I could rehome at least one of her every time I was in public. Thea ran another stunning fast clear round. She sent out to the tunnel so I could get a cross in to set up for a tricky last line. She motored around the pinwheel even though we haven't done many of them with her. She was quite frankly a super star! She was the second fastest dog in the class; only Sally beat her time. Sally and Thea were the only two qs in the class.

Q or no q I am so enjoying the comeback tour. But a q or two make a night such fun!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

another 600 kilometers and a whole lot of fun

Thea and Brody waiting patiently - the story of life with me - hurry up then wait your turn, hurry up some more then wait again
We took Nancy and Sophie to an outdoor agility practise yesterday. It added a bit of time to our trip but was great. It is good for Thea and Sally to have a dog working beside them and I always enjoy seeing my former foster puppies! Nancy and I talk training, agility, dogs and life non stop too so that makes the miles fly by.

Spot On is a lovely venue - a little shade, a nice breeze and cheerful company with two full rings - yesterday laid out in a starters jumpers course and a masters standard course. Brody, and am sure this shocks you, ran two tidy clear rounds. He wasn't blasting but he was foot perfect and enjoyed himself. I didn't repeat or drill anything- simply thanked him and let him snooze in the truck while the wild women worked.

Thea was FULL of beans - she blasted off the start line without any clue at all where she should be going. Hilarious but not exactly what I wanted. I reset her and she was most bemused so she actually paid a little more attention. She ran the masters jumpers course (minus the teeter) in a very competent manner. She NAILED the dog walk - no concerns at ALL. I was quite excited by that as she can be a little cautious on dog walks. Her aframe is a thing of beauty!
In the jumpers run she would NOT run through the puddle INSIDE the chute and I thought that was fair. Apart from that she was perfect and quick!!

Sally ran the jumpers course first. She added a jump on the way to the tunnel when I didn't give CLEAR directions. But otherwise she was SUPER too. She thought the puddle in the chute was GREAT. She would have spent the whole session running through that I think!
She was a bit restless and barky on the table but we worked through it. She did get a little sniffy at one too - but I think that was largely my issue - 5 runs had tired me out so I wasn't focused. None of my dogs focus when I don't.

We took a short break and I played judge for Sophie (and only got mauled briefly - good girlie!)
then we went into the masters field and broke it down into chunks. Sally did 3 aframes with her brain on. Three nice dog walks too except she released herself instead of waiting for me on the first two. Weaves were AWESOME! I was thrilled. New weaves, new location, 12 of them and no problem at ALL. BOOM BOOM through them and back to me. By the end of working our way slowly through that course Sally was walking jumps! Sally walks exactly NOWHERE. Certainly not in the presence of agility equipment. So I figured she was hot and let her rest for a minute. Went and "judged" Sophie again and she was PERFECT. A good note to end on.

So we moved onto what is often my favourite part of a practise at Spot On. A wander around the outside of the field. And Sally got her zoom back. She is a quick girl!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

another lovely Sunday

weeding, collecting for the bunnies, admiring the chickens, playing a little agility, cutting the agility to be field, and just hanging out ... or hanging on as the case may be!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

a wee bit of our day ...

dial up and pictures don't totally agree with each other but how can I resist

after snapping away all day ... here are some telling a story of a LITLLE bit of our lovely day ...

Big T offered to snap a picture of Sally mid jump so I could see her form
it wasn't successful - but it was fun! There were a fair few pictures of a jump - with nothing else!

the compression in her hind end is amazing - I also think Thea is pretty darn cute watching ;

put the word "tunnel" to Sampson's behaviour today - he trained me to reinforce him coming back to me back through the tunnel too - very cute - and made snapping a picture easier - so thanks Sammo

Samaroo doing his best impression of an alligator in long grass instead of water - he was having way too much fun!

Brody and Thea checking out the future agility field

Sally in the middle of that same field - looking rather pensive eh?

Friday, July 16, 2010

proofing ...

if Sally can run an eleven obstacle sequence at home at 26 inches - cleanly, quickly and carefully with a chicken talking to herself as she lays an egg, and a rabbbit in an xpen, Sampson galloping around with his Magic Kong, and Thea yelling from a crate on a lawn I think she'll be able to handle trials ok ;)

We had fun - one line I set was actually tight but I didn't notice it til I ran Thea of all things ... it was jump, weaves, table, jump line of three in a straight line, tunnel, jump, jump, jump, jump with a threadle in that last bit and a 270 ...

She was smoking - she is puffing still - we did it twice - put her in a crate on the lawn. Pulled Thea out did it twice (also very good and QUICK!) then invited Brody out of the house to do it once- he was happy to do it but I'm not convinced he's sound so I let him take it easy ... he was clean and accurate of course ;)

Sampson did a couple more tunnels - still no cue but he obviously thinks it's great fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Snookers ...

I like snookers .. really I do.

Am I a little bit frustrated that my last three attempts have not been successful? Yes, if I am completely honest with myself, I guess I am a little.

I had two snookers classes last night. It was hot. Brody and I had driven over 400 km by the time we got to the trial. My brain should be ON for snookers and Brody should be well rested. We did fine. The first class was a bit fluffy. Brody took my motion cues very literally and went a little wide at the tunnels and we wasted some time so we only got 2/3 of the 6 sequence completed. 25 points. I nearly went home (did I mention I was hot?)

But I didn't. Which I'm glad of as Brody rocked the last course. We were last dog of the trial - cars were pulling out mosquitoes were zooming in and we did everything we wanted to. Perfect tunnels, easy flow. His nose was coming out of the last tunnel he needed for the points when the whistle blew. We did our best and it was 1/10 of a second too slow. And you know what? That's OK. Brody did the teeter 7 times with confidence last night. He did cross canter *at one point which is a sign of how uncomfortable/tired he was- I've never seen him do that before.

The venue isn't Brody's favourite though it is mine probably. I am very pleased with our last run.

It will come. I know it will. I just don't know when.

* cross cantering is when front and back legs are on different leads. It is not easy to do. And never asked for.

Shaping Sampson...

this is NOT exactly the new toy - but the new toy is a kong with blue canvas hanging down from it - Sam would love this toy too. He should be the spokesdog for Kong - only dog I know who adores them better empty than with food stuffing!

I was waiting for the heating inspection guy to come so I could open the gate for him and had a new toy out to distract Sam and Sal

Sampson wanted it badly .. so I decided to give shaping a try and I didn't have a clicker on me - OUTRAGEOUS! So I chose putting him through a very short straight tunnel ... he looked at it - "yes" and got the toy. He stepped towards it "yes" and toy was presented. THIRD time he went through the tunnel like a pro - he got the toy thrown out in front and BINGO the light bulb clicked on in his little brain. So we did that both directions a couple of times. The fellow to inspect the system arrived. We chatted for a few minutes then he got to work. So Sam and I went back to work.

I put a soft curve in one end of the tunnel " J". No problem. Both ends to make a "C" . No sweat. Took a break. Then an "S". No cue yet. I'll add tunnel next time I grab a minute to play with him or the time after. We spent maybe 15 minutes on this - spread out over the hour our visitor was here.

I shape often
. I shouldn't be so surprised when it works so well. But it is SO MUCH fun.

The visitor was pretty impressed too. Asked lots of good questions. Has a min-pin. Took my number and email.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

reflecting ..

There were other things about yesterday that were such givens for me I didn't even think to note them.

Sally waited for her release before leaving her start line - I didn't challenge her a great deal but lead out effectively to or just past the first jump
The gamblers class I chose to start with a mini which meant a long lateral lead out - she was rock solid that way too - amazing!

Thea zoomed off her start line - with enough speed I may need to put a start line stay on her!

Brody and I did our usual routine - there was no need for a start line stay with I'm anywhere.

Thea never crossed behind me - or thought about it - apparently I was getting her info about where and when she needed to be in a timely enough fashion for the Princess.

With Thea and Brody both running 6 inches I'd be horrified if they pulled a rail - neither ever have in class and Brody only did once in a trial and that was at 12 inches. (Given he isn't quite that high and the ground was deep I did eventually relax about it.

Sally also didn't drop a rail - she took some crazy angled approaches, she back jumped once but her bars stayed up. She knows her jumping stuff.*

All dogs behaved in the ring- didn't worry about ring crew, leash runners or the judge.

They were really truly excellent dogs.

As Stevie Wonder said "We all have ability. The difference is how we use it." The gang used it as well as they could with the information I could give them. Great dogs ~ shame about the handler ;)

* when she pulls a rail at home if it was a complex move she gets a "good girl" no food, marker or toy and a chance to repeat (which is rewarding to her - have no doubt of that). If it was a simple move and she's being a goof the jumping just stops for a bit. Neither happens often mind you.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

what a HOT day .. luckily the gang was ON FIRE..

well relatively anyhow

I didn't stay for results as the trial was running way behind but I do know Brody q'd in master jumpers (his 3rd q in that class) and didn't in snookers - he either ran out of time in 6 or I put him in the wrong end of the number 6 tunnel - actually I did that - DOH two trials in a row picking the wrong tunnel - but I think he ran out of time - we would have had to do one jump afterwards anyhow and I'm positive we were that tight to the time that it wouldn't have happened. Handler error in the heat - that's what I'm calling it anyhow. He was remeasured and is certainly under 12 inches now. (Probably always has been but what can you do - seeing as how he can still jump 16 inches without much effort I would never have worried about it if not pushed by the masters judge clinic participants)

Sally had three runs - jumpers, standard and gamblers. Jumpers incuded an off course for team us- and a couple of time faults but given that the course was largely straight lines strung together with straight tunnels I think an off course was a miracle.

Standard by some standards (hahaha) was a train wreck - 45 faults. But they were honest faults if such a thing is possible. I wasn't where I should have been a couple of times so she went off course and did an extra tunnel. She did 12 weaves - not as confidently as at home or in class but she did them and with enthusiasm. The table came after the weaves and a LOT of the dogs struggled with the table. I knew the off course had already killed us so made the choice to put her up and if she did her automatic table to release her quickly. She freaking ACED it. So on the judge's 2 I called her off and raced off - the next bit of the course (spread, tunnel, tunnel, teeter) was PERFECT. Coming off the teeter I wasn't too sure which side to be on so she blew past a jump then came back and did it fine. A frame - PERFECT, flip away to a tunnel - PERFECT end tire - PERFECT. So you can see why what was really 2 off courses on her part don't upset me much at all. The scariest thing is that Sally would come third in that class if all heights were combined. Most dogs were eliminated. The "winner" had 5 faults; second place had 23 then us - crazy eh? It was a very challenging course for starters. Opening was a chute; then an offset line of 2 jumps to a tunnel under a dog walk then a flip up the dog walk then weaves and on to the rest. I counted 6 major challenges in the course. It was a fun course to run actually though. (and the weaves, the held contacts on all equipment, the table and the 2 places the flow was heavenly are what I will take away from that class!)

Sally's gamblers class was amazing. So glad I stuck it out in the heat to have that run. She got 3 mini's, 2 4s and a bunch of singles ... and the main gamble but she was 2 seconds overtime. She was so much fun to run. I couldn't be more pleased with her.

Thea was the queen of the day though. Her only class was starters jumpers and she NAILED IT, ROCKED the course, had a blast and easily happily and with great joy earned her first aac q!!

Way to go Princess Thea!!

Friday, July 09, 2010

box work of the vareharri sort



J -----------------J
u----------------- u
m ----------------m
p----------------- p


no idea if the formatting will work but I have been playing with a box of sorts the last couple of days

Table 1

6---- 2

J 7 ---------------3 J
u ------------------u
m----------------- m
p 9 ---------------5 p

8 Macaroni 4

one example of the fun Sally and I have been having :)


7-- 3

1 J ------------2 J
u -------------u
m ------------m
8 p 6 --------4 p

Macaroni 5

they type of thing I ask brody to do
He can easily threadle or serpentine just about anything

Thea does lots of straight simple lines - but even that's been good for teaching her not to drop behind me

Three days of box work in a row - have I mentioned I like summers?

the biggest challenge is having all the dogs wanting to work at once - Sally has to do a down wait but I can see it kills her .. good for her though right?
Brody won't wait but he trots along at my feet unless he's cued to do something .
Thea will jump with Brody and try to grab his tail as he passes her - she's HILARIOUS.

Today I too advantage of the desire to work together and sent all three dogs to the table together - whoever got on it first got a treat - Thea and Sally were seriously racing each other!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

well ... I've done it

Do you think Sampson is sad he has no trials and no plans for any agility at all in his future?

I have a couple of trials booked more then 2 days ahead ...

one is actually Saturday - Brody in Master Jumpers and Snookers
Thea in starters standard (only a chute to maybe worry about there)
and Sally in starters jumpers (yah - I agree - stupid) standard (yup - even dumber) and gamblers (potentially my only smart move)

Why am I running Thea you ask? Well she's my fun dog - I am not sure I'll ever put enough work into her to be trial ready so I might as well let her play. I would happily only play CPE with her but there is no CPE around here so starters jumpers it has to be. I'd do snookers with her too actually.

Why am I taking Sally you ask? That's a little harder to answer. She is running well and having fun. I know I'm a confident enough competitor to simply say forgive us judge we are running FEO this run and make up my own simple course if it looks like it will be ugly. We don't have contact equipment at home and the only way we get to use any if to trial. Someone lost a 4 year old dog yesterday to bloat and I realized if I never get to trial Sally again I'd be devastated. She LOVES agility in a way that puts my addiction to shame.

So there. Maybe not the smartest move training wise but for me right now important.

On Wednesday night Brody has 2 snookers runs. Maybe a standard run too. Hmmmmmmm

Then July 21 Thea has a jumpers run and Sally has a jumpers run and a standard run.

So I have some agility in July. Cool. (Well actually very hot right now but you understand me I'm quite sure)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

dog days??

Sally is NOT buying what the net tells me "dog days" means.

"the hottest most humid days of the year"
"The term itself was coined by the ancient Romans, who referred to these days as "caniculares dies" (days of the dogs), after the constellation Canis Major, of which Sirius is a part of. As these days coincided with the time when Sirius was visible they believed that Sirius was increasing the heat."
"Dog days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant."

Stagnant? Sally?

You really haven't met her have you?

Today, the second day of a blistering heat wave, the first day in 6 Sally hasn't done agility in the am, run like a wild child at the farm and done more agility at night ( yes I am a lazy/add soul - I often work in short increments), Sally was frantic to WORK. She threw herself into the send out to the jump, tunnel, jump. Blasted the weaves with me both on and off side. (All this for a ratty old throw stick)

She's a firecracker, a ball of energy, a going concern, and hilarious. As always I am grateful for the joy the gang brings to our house. (Brody is heartedly unimpressed today - I've misplaced the clippers but he NEEDS a haircut so he's getting scissored. Have I mentioned before he HATES being groomed more than anything? He'd rather be polite to a PUPPY for Pete's sake!)

Monday, July 05, 2010

100 % recall

Susan Garrett posted a link to a survey she asked folks to complete - I'm really bad at links but I suspect those of you who might be interested already keep an eye on her blog. (If not, ask and I'll post the link). She is trying to find out about recall rates.

She asked if any of your dogs had a 100% recall and two of our dogs do. I could not think of a situation that Brody or Sally won't come in if I go to fail safe recalling. We have different levels of recall around here .. just saying the dogs name means look at us, a "check in" means circle back towards us until we holler OK then off you go again.. stay close means stay within flexi lead distance .. 'this way' means join on us the trail we are on and "HERE" means come to sit in front of us (or stand if you are a tiny dog) and stay close until you get another direction. "Come" simply means head our way til you here what my slow brain is actually processing.

I am not a dog trainer and chose to simply manage a lot of behaviours. My dogs will eat cat food if they get a chance and raid a garbage can too. My dogs jump on some of their favourite people (who, let's be serious, encourage them). Our dogs are primarily companions though and a solid recall can be life and death for them. They don't live in crates so could conceivably sneak out the front door when there is a delivery made - they'd better come back if they head for the road.

We are very fortunate to walk on a 107 acre property - but there are deer trails, baby ducklings, coyotes, hawks, wild turkeys, tractors doing work, atvs etc as distractions. If a dog's recall isn't pretty solid you can't exactly let them off leash in the face of those potential distractions. We want to be able to have our dogs running off leash and enjoying the great smells. So, I teach a rocking recall!

I often have a clicker in my pocket on walks, I often have some treats - sometimes just kibble sometimes something FABULOUS. Once the dogs know the terms sometimes they get a reward sometimes they don't.

Thea's recall is probably about 80% - she is the third wheel dog in my training life so I'm pretty impressed with 80% now that I think about it. I cheat with Thea too - I pick her up when the hawks are close for example. It's kind of challenging having a 6 pound dog who thinks she's a big farm dog too.

Sampson's recall improves every day - in some situations he's 50% in some he's 70+. His issue is he hasn't really mastered the art of check in yet ... he's either slamming into a excellent recall right in front of me or got his nose to the ground with his tail flagging furiously as he inhales the odours of nature. My goals for him this summer are mastering the various comes and down :)

I enjoyed the survey - I found it thought provoking. It is quite interesting to me that folks who read Susan's blog might not have pretty solid recalls in all situations. What does the lily pictured above have to do with recall training? It was planted three years ago and finally flowered this year. It took faith and time to mature into the beauty you see now. (I'm lying about the reason for posting it though the story is true) It's the nicest picture I have on the computer that I'm sure you've never seen before! And I appreciate a thing of beauty so thought you might too.

Friday, July 02, 2010

wisdom from Pippin

as expressed by Ann Burns

Pippin's Agility Trial Rules
During your run, the dog is always right.
Keep moving. If you are lost on course, make something up.
Don't stint on the treats, praise and other rewards.
Have fun with your dog.
Make sure your DOG is having fun with you.
Give the dog one more potty break than you think it needs.