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.