Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can't leave Brody out ... what a good great super fun dog he is!
We step to the start line and while I know it may not be perfect (he popped out of weave poles this weekend once - always something new!!) I do know it will be fun and happy and comfortable.

Yay for us!

Go Sally!

Sally had a lovely weekend.
She missed one Q when I took a detour to add weaves to her end run in Jackpot - had I skipped the last set of weaves she still would have had plenty of points  so I'm just wracking it up to a lessson! We also missed a tunnel entrance and pulled a rail in colours taking us out of contention for a Q there too.
She had one what would have been called a refusal in her jumpers run - figuring out how to start the serp required a little more thinking than I was capable of on my 30th run but she was awesome all weekend. She wasn't as fast as I've seen her sometimes (she ran about 4.2 yps across the board) but it was smooth and steady. She did 21 contacts and steadily hit her yellow zones .. I released her a little early probably - she hasn't generalized holding a contact on course very well - though her dog walks were nicer than I thought (she does 4o on teeter and dog walk). Enough of the chat ... here's her video:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thea's very good, full of love weekend

I just counted as well as I could - I *think* Thea has 825 points towards her level 1 title - I'd better start working on weaves and the teeter eh? (She needs 1,000 to get her level one points award)

This is her compilation video from the weekend ... pretty much unedited except when people stood in front of the camera or you couldn't see Thea ...

Thea is so much fun to run - given good directions and a clear path she is quick quick quick - the second she doesn't understand she gives me a piece of her mind and waits for clarity. I wouldn't mind if she made stuff up but it's apparently not in her nature! I was so pleased with the way she ran this weekend. She continued to do her part to bring converts to the small dog world very effectively.

Good dog!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Boring Record Keeping - Fun stuff soon I promise

CPE - Red Barn trial .. another awesome,fun weekend

Thea - 10/10 - including a level 3 jumpers - fun fun fun!!
Level 1: 4 standard, 1 of wildcard, snookers, colours, jackpot, and fullhouse
My guess is about another 200 points to her point title ... it's in sight now :)

Brody 9/10
Level 4: 3  standard (missed one - popped weaves) to finish his level 4 standard title, 1 of wildcard (last one), jumpers (second one), jackpot (first one),  ..
Level 5: 1 of colours (first one), fullhouse (second one), snookers (first one)
Brody needs level 4 -2 more jumpers, 3 more jackpot otherwise all in level 5...

Sally 8/10
Level 2: 3 standard to finish her standard title (HOW?)
Level 3: 1 of  jumpers (last one), wildcard (last one), jackpot (first one), snookers (last one)
Level 4:  fullhouse (first one)

so Sally needs level 3 standard 6  - HAHAHA,  colours (one more) and jackpot (two more)
otherwise she's now in Level 4

Sally's sister Sophie also had a fun weekend knocking off a bunch of Qs and titles
(and we got some great video and  pics - thanks NF)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Changes ....

People really do change at trials.When we change one thing the ripples can be felt far and wide. At the trial this weekend it was evident that people, myself included, were changing things based on being at a trial. Hard not to do but such a silly thing. Criteria slippage, positional changes, weird running styles, pointy fingers (well I have that issue everywhere!) and windmill arms.  Tight leashes, stompy feet, grouchy voices, hurky jerky bodies. The list is long. Most changes I saw were not for the betterment of either the handler or the dog.
Why, why do you change?
There were lots of really nice moments too. Smooth handlers cruising around courses, striding dogs easily adjusting for different equipment and lines. Praise, and off leash romps and cookies and toys. But the ones that  I fear will stick the longest are the changes. What can a dog learn from the changes? Trials are stressful?
I am who I am - why can't you be you?
I used to think that the more people trialed the less they'd change at a trial. Now I think the opposite may be true. After you trial a lot it seems possible that the not so sweet changes may become part of your trial persona unless you really identify them and work to overcome them. Psyc courses tend to teach "the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour". Dr Phil popularized the phrase.

Seriously it freaks me out when you change!
Change can be good - so embrace the change you want to see in you! We all know and work hard on the changes we want to see with our dogs (faster, more focused, perfect contacts, no bars, start line stays, whatever) let's agree to do the same for ourselves!

I can't mature if you keep changing ..

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank you ...

no really THANK YOU...

I don't say it often enough
I don't say it loudly enough
For the little things and the BIG things - THANK YOU!


Got some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes to plant because somebody thought of me - thank you AFJ!

Get to play an amazing sport, with amazing friends, because of so much support - thank you, and you, and you and you too! Trial hosts including Spot On, judges, volunteers, coaches, training halls (especially All About Dogs) and training partners it wouldn't be possible without you. Merci beacoup! If I started listing people the music would start playing me off stage ....

Get great blogs to read and laugh and cry along with - thank you for writing and sharing! There are days your posts have my brain thinking all day!

Have a truly supportive (if tiny) family - who not only go along with my craziness but actively support it and enrich it- my gratitude knows no bounds! Words fail me.

Have wonderful rescue partners who work tirelessly to help animals in so many different ways and are truly inspirational. I've worked with, and for, many different agencies over the years Project Jessie is my first love - and the people who work with and volunteer so much time provide a bedrock that keeps me grounded. SHY, JA, LL, LW, and you all have pushed me past anything I would ever have thought possible.

Am so deeply grateful - and so frustrated by my own thoughtlessness. Please accept this bouquet as a small token of appreciation!

(I think it's pretty self evident I am very grateful to the gang here for everything they give me so selflessly to help me learn, laugh and grow - if you didn't know that - now you do!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

coming soon to a snookers field near you

Snookers keeps me humble
Sally actually belongs to a more elite club than the 1 point club  - she earned zero points  when I set her up just a little crooked and a tunnel was half a field away from her. I released her from a beautiful start line stay and watched her rocket into the tunnel. I don't even think I called her. Just watched in shock and awe.

Snookers keeps my brain working 
with Brody I make a plan - stick to it and see how far we get before we run out of time.. the thinking is all ahead of time
with Sally I make a plan - then start running it - if I am thinking on my feet I figure out what to do when she doesn't do the up contact on a teeter, or knocks a bar or otherwise changes my plan. so far I'm not very good at that ...but wow am I learning... We do have 30 snookers qs  under our collective belt .. and still ...

Life long learning is SO much fun!

Now I wouldn't mind at all if Sally and I got another Starters Snookers Q and moved on up the ladder ... but if we sit in Starters Snookers for years I'm ok with that too. I've decided I'm entering every Snookers class I can FEO or running and eventually I'll figure out how to help Sally tick around Snookers like Brody does ... she's faster, more accurate in many ways and has real distance skills - this should be a fun mission for us both.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My donation to the Trial Host

and it was a lovely trial ... so it was worth every cent!

We drove over 400 km on a prime planting day  and caught up with dear friends, lovely acquaintances and met new people and puppies.
We had fun, we had a good run with one just ticked rail (whoops), a great run and this run:


To those of you wondering what happened - I should have lead out a little more or been a little more clear about STOPPING my movement - Sally read me well - and was quite sure the next obstacle should be the frame not the tunnel.

Did I mind? No, not much ... I was pleased the frame has been paying so well that she wanted to do one correctly - it was too bad it was snookers not gamblers but thems the breaks! She was a bit frustrated though at a run ending so quickly so we went and did some work at the warm up jump which she and I both enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Premack and the Real World ...

The Premack Principle is, in a nutshell, as best as I can explain it, is that if one can create a link between less desirable and probable behaviours and desirable and less probable behaviours that the more desirable behaviours will start occurring more frequently.

Sampson is the poster child in our household of how Premack can be useful... he marches to his own drum and for him sticking his nose on the ground, flagging his tail and working a field is about as close to heaven on earth as he can get. Coming and sitting quietly by us is not exactly what he wants to do. Walking into daycare could easily be a drag to the bush outside the door .. but premack has saved my shoulders. I'd let him leap out of the car and cue him to go sniff (knowing he would) he'd sniff the bush and I'd reward him for sniffing. We repeated this - send to bush, reward him for going multiple times over 2 days. We play with it  every few days since the original investment of time. This morning I could barely get him to look at the bush. YAY for Sampson! He was choosing to stay in our collective game. He often chooses to join the human games now. He will always love to sniff and work a field, I have no doubt of that, but by never getting upset with him and always making sure being with us was also a good, fun, rewarded option we've used premack to our benefit. He now leaps into the open car and patiently waits to do something fun. Even if it means leaving something fun! Astounding really.

I really grasped the concept of Premack with Sally - she hated to release a toy to me and she LOVED to tug. She very quickly learned that the fastest way to get to tug was to release the toy.

It's easy to get confused with Premack. Linking the desirable and the probable behaviours can be tricky with our canine friends. (It's easier with my human students I simply can say things like "if you are all on time for class 3 times I will give you a reward" and then do it.) How does Sam know when I am OK with him sniffing and when  to focus on the play work I want done? I am careful to release him to the desired behaviour - timing is critical here - he should not be the one choosing to opt out. I am careful to have good rewards for what I accomplish between his releases. Yes, the probable behaviour is a reward in itself (according to the principle) but other meaningful rewards will make things gel much faster. I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination. I do what works for the dogs, and me, to keep our play fun and engaged.

More reading should you so desire:

Monday, May 07, 2012

Guess who turns 9 today?


the Princess

the Boss

the Lover of All (and best ear cleaner a human could ever need) 

the Dynamo who keeps our whole house positive

the kitten and puppy (and Sally!)  Entertainment Unit

the Chocolate Squirrel (and sun worshiper)

one mighty delightful dog 

we are so lucky to share life with one easy dog!! 

Happy Birthday Thea and siblings! Hard to believe it was nine years ago I first laid eyes on you!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Working out up on Purple Hill ...

Spring is my favourite time of year ...

Up high on Purple Hill I really appreciate the season .. the green, the promise, the winds of change all seem so evident there.

It doesn't matter if my head is resenting the changing pressure or I've had a long week at work. On the 60 or so km to Purple Hill I watch for the tractor dealers, horses and signs of country. We turn off the street to head east and Sally jumps up and starts peering out the window whimpering in anticipation of fun.

Things don't always go perfectly at Purple Hill but it's always fun. Last week Sally actually shot through the fence on the trail of some AMAZING scent. Yesterday she found a couple of weave entries tricky tricky. Thea is starting to LOVE Purple Hill in a way I wasn't sure she'd ever love agility. We played with contacts yesterday - flying dog walks and aframes - so much FUN! Brody worked on his weave footwork and a little bit of distance (HA  - I should do starters gambles with him - he'd think they were fun!) Sally practiced sticking her contacts, worked the spread a little and did some distance work (gosh it's easy to send her too far!).

Of course, one of the nicest things about Purple Hill is sometimes, when I'm lucky, the owner has time to just hang out with us - we chat about things dog and things not dog, and she might even suggest a drill or two to try. We laugh at Thea together and generally just enjoy the season. I was thinking today this is my fifth year of sneaking up to Purple Hill in the spring - tho  most years I have only made it a few times ... no wonder we  agility addicts all have such pleasant associations with Spring, Spot On and the Hill!