Saturday, April 30, 2011

on aac ....

As I am sure I've said before - great dogs ~ shame about the handler :) Actually I am well pleased with the start up for 2011.

Sally had a steeplechase which was a bit of a trainwreck. I was in the wrong place; she was in the wrong place; she blew the aframe and I put her right back on it. She touched and touched again and I could see the wheels turning in her brain. I actually think that was a really good choice (as you'll see in snookers report). We had NT but I wasn't too stressed about it. She was working so hard. She reads body language so well. I need to learn to be aware of exactly where I am sending her when I run in any given direction.

Sally  had a small issue in her first advanced gamblers - the judge was standing on my chosen opening line. Whoops - I hadn't even looked as Brody is so steady he doesn't even see stuff like that.  We got a little off track  but Sally recovered quickly missing just one planned jump. She got the mini - which was the double (4 points)  to tunnel to repeat the tunnel for 16 points and then the 4 point double again .. for 20 points. Spinning dogs around back into the tunnel made interesting handling  for many dogs. I just did a post turn and Sally blasted into the tunnel. In the opening we also did a tunnel, a couple of jumps and the aframe (yay contact) - 27 point opening. The gamble was a jump, a  tunnel then a push out to a jump beside the tire ... many many dogs couldn't get the jump and did the tire instead- I booted it and called her and she was MOST excellent. She earned 54 points so not a million extra but the job was done ... and that makes me laugh. If Brody ever earned 54 points in a gamblers class I'd be hysterical and giddy!

In her second gamblers class she was a little worried in the weaves so popped out once (they were the second obstacle). I just carried on with the plan and did the four point chute twice then a jump and a GORGEOUS set of weaves ... through a tunnel and down the eight point mini (like a superstar)I turned back the whistle went and I was in the perfect place for the gamble. I sent her out and she flew with confidence but the second obstacle was the teeter and I froze when she was half way up it - I don't think we've done a teeter from 18 feet laterally before.  Dumb me as she jumped off the side to make sure I was ok - then sent out to finish the gamble no problem. KEEP MOVING should be my motto so many times.

Sally's  first snookers class. Whoops! Although I was using my brain so it was good for learning again. I  thought my way around the course. Sally pulled a rail in the 7 combo (the first time through) .. so I did the 6 point teeter twice .. sadly the number 2 rail also came down in the opening or we would have been just fine ... she was attentive and excellent.  I think the rails came down because I wasn't driving the way I usually do. The curse of overthinking. I was pretty determined to earn the Q in the second run. "Enough of no snookers qs" said I!  I carefully looked at the course. The only way I could see to be ENTIRELY sure of getting the q was to do 4 reds and 4 weaves (the 7 pointer). Even if we had a meltdown I decided working weaves in a trial made a whole lot of sense. The first two sets were a little worried and required a reset - the last two sets were HEAVENLY. She got through 2,3,4, and the 5 point aframe sticking a very nice contact! The whistle went somewhere in the 6 point combo but she earned over 40 points anyhow. Good girl!

DUMB Handler in advanced jumpers with her. 10 faults in one class (How can a dog jump a tire a handler is standing right in front of? Sally wonders too). 5 faults in the other. Good dog. Smooth happy running so it will come. She was really really good.

Brody only had 4 classes. 2 snookers and 2 jumpers. My snookers King wasn't ... we were 2 and 4 points short respectively but he ran well and happily - just long courses for little legs. He was a jumpers star though happily earning both Qs and finishing the aac part of the weekend with an extra Q than required for his Masters Jumpers Dog of Canada.  I was amazed - he was 15 seconds undertime on one run and 12 for the other. He didn't trot one step. A little bittersweet as I'm fairly sure that will be his last AAC title. I think everything else requires an Atch and I'm not planning on doing gamblers classes with him anymore. He is such a pleasure to play with.

Good, GREAT, marvellous dogs. CPE afternoon tomorrow. Maybe Sally will be tired :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pre-trial routines...

I have a pretty tight warm up routine for both Brody and Sally now .. Brody gets brought out about 20 minutes before his run - a pee, a stretch then back for a power nap then 5 minutes before his run - out for a jump or two, a little push back charging, a spin or two and then away we go ...about half an hour before Sally's run she gets a outside break: fetching and tugging and a pee break ... she stays out with me until it's time to run: hand touches, stays, right and left, maybe some crate games if the weather is gross - I keep her in focussed mode .. her routine is about 20 minutes to Brody's 7 minutes ..I'm not looking forward to them being in the same classes (if that ever happens!)

My day(s) before routine is not nearly as defined ... today was rainy, gross and I had too much to do ... so I did some fun games with Brody and some self control games with Sally .. we'll see how it works :) Of course my favourite thing to do is 5 minute agility 2 or 3 times on the lawn with a couple of long off leash walks but that isn't possible at this time of year ....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

first aac trial of the year ..

approaches ... one half day of a trial under our belt for the year (cpe in Feb) so far so I'm looking forward to testing where we are at in the ring ...

the dogs have been working well and I feel pretty good about my handling so we'll see what happens!

Monday, April 25, 2011

some video from the demos ...

Sisters weaving ...  in the last show of the weekend Sophie and Sally were the weave demo dogs - it was very cute as they happily worked alongside each other ... I was amazed to find them on youtube!

Brody's last run was rock solid as was all his work ... in 6 shows over three days doing four "runs" or more in each show Brody and I made two mistakes ... he didn't realize the aframe was on course once and he blew one weave entry ... both mistakes were mine - I didn't ask him to do anything  - so he didn't! Brody did these runs right out of his crate, on the start line and go ... right back into his crate so I could run Sally in the right place and do the run order... he was amazing ..(the last run on this clip - at 2:09 or so- is Sophie .. Sally's super sista!)

Thea ran a little on the first day but managing 3 dogs and filling in for some holes proved to be a bit much. She enjoyed it though which was really nice to see. I had been a little concerned that the atmosphere would shut her down.

Skill sets were something we demonstrated too ... crate games, tricks, building hind end awareness and focus and one jump work. This clip shows what a work horse Miss Sally is - she starts and ends the clip.

Doing demos with Brody has always been fun - he is so steady and such a little shag muffin it's a pleasure to play with him anywhere. Sally has done a grand total of one demo prior to this- she was excellent but there were maybe 50 people then. Of the 6 shows the bleachers were absolutely packed for 2 of them and more than half full for each show. That has to be a couple of hundred folks. She was a superstar this weekend. She had issues with the footing but she was full of drive, focus and was just a joy to work with. Thursday morning we did the local TV clip. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were two shows each day. Today was a lovely off leash walk at the beach .. she ran and ran and ran ... now she's catching some zzzz's finally!

The intro lap - I have never run as fast in my life I'm sure: go sally!

Many thanks to whoever filmed the dogs ... too much fun to find them :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

agility demos ...

Happy Easter Weekend to you and yours :)
For the 16th year I find myself spending Easter Weekend hanging out a huge pet trade show ... I have worn many hats over the years but consistently have delivered a message of humane education and adoption. My dogs have been excellent ambassadors for positive training and while the show exhausts me I always have a blast. This year I have gotten to work in agility demonstrations. 4 shows down, 2 to go and while it's been crazy it's been a ton of fun! The dogs are running well - although the footing is slick for Sally and the spacing of obstacles is a bit tight for the long striding girl. Brody is the best dog ever... he runs and runs and runs... he isn't speedy but he hasn't missed an obstacle, contact or weave all weekend. Thea came Friday and was a riot  -- she bombed over, under and around jumps .. and just had a great time. I wasn't sure she'd run at all with the crowd  - and the crowds were deep but they really didn't phase her at all! Good girl.
I was quite shocked yesterday - twice people commented to me about the show and picked Brody as the favourite dog. That steady fellow is attracting his groupies it seems. Didn't get a chance to poll people today but Sally had her fans too - people came down from the bleachers just to see her!
It's already been a LONG weekend. I was at the show from 6:45 to 5:15 Thursday - didn't realize til I got in the car to stagger home I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day. ( There was a local tv spot filmed in the am - and I was present to promote both the agility bit and the adoption area - went super well!) Tomorrow is going to be a long day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Click what?

 I got some new clickers in the other day (if anybody needs a cute clicker let me know - I'd be happy to send you one!) and ended up on the lawn with a clicker in my pocket. I rarely use a clicker for jump work as timing what you like the best in a jump can be difficult (say, for example, you clicked and the bar came down - WHOOPS!) but with a translucent, good looking clicker in my hand how could I resist testing it out?

I started with Brody and tried to click drive. So I set up my three jump line and did serpentines and threadles and clicked when Brody was really moving. He loved it. In hindsight I should have just set a straight line up and clicked for a rocket Brody probably but Brody is a fluid and happy jumper so it worked.

Then it was Sally's turn. I decided to click tight turns on a 270 with her. I clicked the first effort as it was pretty good and I wanted her to know I had a clicker. The second effort she swung a little wide so no click. THE HORRORS! She immediately set herself back up and (on release) aced the turn. a 270 with one stride. Honestly I didn't know a dog could get so tight to the post on 24 inches. And how on earth did she decide that was what was paying? How did she know?

I wonder what all the people I know who love dogs and enjoy living with them think of the work we do around here. Many people I know; including everyone in my family has dogs, enjoys their dogs and does nothing with them at all except occasional walks or games of fetch if the dog instigates it. They are well fed, well cared for much loved family members but it's different somehow. I love living with dogs, don't get me wrong. Nothing makes me happier than gardening with the posse sprawled out relaxing; or going for a walk at the farm (aka dog park) and just letting everybody be dogs; or waking up at night to feel Brody snuggled against my hip; or , you get the idea. But I LOVE the relationship building part that comes from playing working the dogs frequently. I am addicted to agility (still not sure why) but I enjoy all kinds of training. Maybe it focuses my brain and helps me have goals.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cue who?

As the weather gets better, the light lingers longer and I get more motivated I am working hard to spend a few minutes playing training each of the dogs every day.

I presumed I was the one setting the time aside to play work but upon consideration I'm not so sure I'm right. I find myself tripping over dogs at times now. And that prompts me to think. "What have I done with (Sally, Sampson, Brody, Thea) today?" When I think "nothing" that's my cue to get organized and do something. So the dog cues me that it's game time.

The dogs are always around. Don't misunderstand me. If I can't feel a dog touching me I look around for them. I can always see all of them. When Sally is awake she is watching me (which if you think about it makes sense- there is no doubt she has gotten the lion's share of the play training around here). That's just the way it is. But now that I've been making an effort to do more with ALL of them they are much more aware of when it MIGHT be game time.

What have I been doing with the gang? Depends on the dog, and the day honestly. Lots of  Zen for everybody. Flat work with the agility gang. With Thea I've been trying to do lots of confidence building things. Holding her back, revving her up and having her chase me. Brody does lots of zipping, a little tugging, some start line stays. Sampson mostly works on his listening skills. Tugging and releasing, sitting automatically coming straight to hand. Sally and I shake it up a lot. Some minutes are devoted to maintaining drive (tug, release, tug),  others to calm down. I'm working hard to tweak her coming into position beside me and setting to work on position for start lines. She has not been taught this skill before and I'm annoyed I never realized how important it would be.

Literally 6 minutes is all I have some days. Less than 2 minutes a dog but every one is lovin' it. (Except maybe Big T who finds we are all a little wired post work for a bit)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

frame that!

Well well well - much to my shock and delight the aframe seems to be coming together for Miss Sally ... it isn't perfect (in that I don't have the confidence to run her at it hard and leave her in 2o2o yet) but the potential is there. The promise of the frame is exciting. Sally seems to understand (suddenly) that the aframe matters. She can hit 2o2o without falling off the end of the frame - her balance is better; her position is often excellent. I suspect the 20 bottoms a day we did for the three days of Webb made a powerful impression in her mind and on her body. Tuesday night we did 5 bottoms on each side and then  ran two full frames each way. Lovely. Poetry. Perfection. On course they weren't perfect (stay in 2o2o is challenging when there is a course calling) but they were good and worked. I held criteria really easily as I finally have a CLEAR picture of what we want on the obstacle.
Brody did no work and was quite unhappy about that but he was three legged lame for no apparent reason Monday night so he sucked it up and watched. He is a fine supervisor!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Last of the Webb photos for now

Sally worked hard this past weekend but not so hard that she didn't get lots of chances to rest.
 This picture is interesting to me - the only thing really identifying which way she should go is the turn of my body and my left foot. Those two cues alone are obviously enough for her. (This picture was taken during the second video run)

 It looks like I really watch the dogs move. I'm glad to see that as I would have thought my old school horse training about watching your path might have overridden keeping my dog in sight.

Here my whole body is spinning really supporting the tight turn I quite obviously got a stride later. Everything here says TURN and I was working hard not to use verbals doing this drill.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Terrific Tuesday

Great runs last night!! Interspersed with some Webb photos (with thanks to AFJ for taking them!)
Warm up was three stations - one a little jump circle (with teeter and a couple of tunnels) that gave opportunities to practise gambling skills ... Brody LOVED it ... Sally nailed it too.

finding balance points for tight turns

Two was dog walk then a jump then a little serp line was interesting to play with my position to see how that smoothed out the line. Turns out being ahead of the dog s they can see where to go next helps a lot - figures but trying it both ways helped me feel it :) Only did this one with Sally

Three was tunnel aframe jump weaves (or tunnel tire weaves for a straight approach) Sally was NAILING all her entries - from anywhere .. she is awesome. Also worked on the aframe and did a few full aframes - LOVELY work ... just lovely :)

Sally wants to GO - NOW - enough thinking already!
Then all the elements got put together in a course. Hilarious course. Some good questions but lots of flow and GO. Brody ran nicely - as the pathfinder he and I nearly missed a tunnel entry - but he was a good boy and gave it to me  - I had more confidence to leave him once I saw him commit to the tunnels which let me be in a much better position for the weaves. I ran the outside of the tunnel to aframe and that let him build a whack of speed for the frame. He was excellent! Sally ran a "Brody" run; she was faster (of course) but as fluid and with me as he is usually. Poetry - it was one of those runs that just makes you feel warm and happy right through your core.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Webb Mania - part two ...

Video footage - with huge thanks to Nancy for capturing some of the seminar on tape ... you hear how much too much I talk ... and double cue touch :(  Both these runs were Sunday afternoon - this is Sally as tired as I've seen her. (Which was not so tired as to come home and missing playing Kong with Sampson!)

this next run has a couple of moments to note (or not). Yes, that is Sally unbalancing right off the dog walk .. and it includes a huge "AHA" moment - where I realize Sally does NOT generalize a stay in 2o2o into staying in that same position on the aframe.

Sally's aframe made HUGE strides this weekend. I have a clear picture of what I want and a reasonable view of how to get there. I did at least 20 aframe bottoms every day. That's all it took - 60 reps for me to get into my brain what I wanted it to look like. Still need to work on problem solving (as you'll see) but I finally feel like there is hope on the aframe.

Webb was great - I totally enjoyed the learning  for a couple of different reasons. One is how respectful he is of different handlers and dogs. You don't ever feel badly running a different or low drive dog. Sally was the highest dog on Saturday by a long shot and I learned a lot from him with her too. Sunday I largely ran both Sally and Brody and that was great - flipping back and forth gave me a good handle on how different they are.

Webb has some good sayings too. Webbisms I think I'll call them.

Run 'Em Like You Stole 'Em

Your Ball has Brains

We Are All Builders

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast (he credits John Woods for this - whoever JW is?)

Practice Perfectly

Don't Look at the Rock


lots of big concepts too - like defining your primary skills; knowing what you want from the sport .. more on those later I'm thinking :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Webb Friday

Friday with Webb Anderson
I worked in private and semi private lessons - it was nice being fresh .. we worked hard and given that we've worked together before it settled into a working groove quickly.
I actually worked Thea just a little. We worked on the concept (for me not her) that if I keep her in sight she can't drop behind ... if she does I'm to stop and quickly  move her into the right place . She seemed to get the concept too.  We also worked on six weaves. I am seriously considering putting weaves back on her. The plan is to  use a touch plate so she learns to drive to the end .. break off and do something else if she gets too confused. It is so strange working her - she is so obviously a "lured" dog. It drives me nuts but she is darling and tons of fun!!

Brody - we did 10 minutes with Brody - Webb says speed up the weaves. I tried a "good boy" half way through and B kicked into high gear. Interesting as I avoid cheer leading at all costs usually. At one point I tried to leave Brody behind me on a line of jumps and I couldn't, which I thought was hilarious.

Sally's turn included showing Webb where our contacts are at - frame is a problem - but with reps he feels she understands the job and will figure it out . The dog walk was good.  I am to wait til frame is all together too before proofing too much. The teeter was fine - he worries she'll worry if tipping point changes so I'm to put her on as many teeters as possible just to practice. He showed me some good start line stay work - turning towards her ... presenting my side.. presenting my back (sad to say the only one I'd done) She broke the second time I faced her but that was it ...
She is incorrect in the weaves and losing time ... her footwork sucks .. she is not single footing or double footing but paddling (though if she was a horse I'd be thrilled to get 11 lead changes every stride. Fixing it may be impossible ... that was the last discussion we had and it's weighing way too heavily on my mind ... we'll see - and obsess about it.

Webb was obviously getting sick - I felt very badly for him I think he's going to have a long weekend :(