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.