Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pitching In - Blog Day ...

Steve at agility blog has started a movement.
He has asked us (those of us who blog about agility) to blog about volunteering at trials.

I volunteer quite a bit - both as part of my day job (coaching, working after hours etc) and as part of being a global citizen (fundraising campaigns for many organizations, political advocacy, and of course my animal welfare work). When I started attending agility trials I started volunteering. Some trials I work a lot more than I run!
I LOVE volunteering. Course building has sort of become my thing- perhaps because I often run multiple dogs in multiple levels so finding a class I can volunteer in is tricky for the volunteer scheduler.
I LOVE hearing how the judges think as they walk the final tweak. I LOVE watching handlers and dogs run when I am ring crew or timer.
I find the scoring process fascinating when I scribe (not often to date).
I like being fed, and I like the chance to win a new toy for the dogs. I like getting to know people.
For me volunteering is a way to give back to a sport I get an awful lot from. I don't suffer from ring nerves much but if I did  I think it would be a good way to control them.

Helen Keller
 I am very grateful to the volunteers who give so much of their time so I can play this game. And, I express it to them, often!
Should every one always volunteer? Nope - there are times that you need to focus on the job at hand. But most days, most trials I don't see any reason not to do SOMETHING. Even if the something is emptying the garbage at the end of the day; that saves some other volunteer some work.

My whole attitude towards volunteering is perhaps best summed up by my all time favourite quote. Helen Keller said " I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Great eh?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

lovely lovely weekend ...

Sally is the picture of tolerance with the little ones!
and what the heck do you think Quiz is? The more I know her the less I'm sure... she is an odd shape, an odd size, marked like a gsd or rotti, and has a tail that curls like a chihuahua. Whatever she is she's a good puppy.
The girls enjoyed playing most of the weekend. The boys hate Quiz.

No big expectations for Quiz this weekend - house training (and she was clean all weekend in the house - not ONE mistake - I'm pretty proud of us all) and learning to come when we call (love taking advantage of puppies desire to recall). We haven't needed to do bite inhibition at all, she's got a very soft mouth at the moment. Lots of socializing. Puppy has met - dogs (all sizes) cats and rabbits - she's walked on grass, gravel, pavement, dirt, decking, carpet and straw. She's eaten in a crate, in an xpen, from my hand. I put a collar on her for about 5 seconds. That's as formal as we got.

Gracie, the perhaps sibling of Quiz, enjoying a stick!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Little Quiz ...

just moved into our home.
Her probable possible sibling Grace was dropped off at a foster home on the way here. I fully expect that Grace will be a resounding foster failure. Her foster mom took one look and said "ooooooo". Her adult son went all googly eyed at the puppies. I'd take bets but I don't think that would be fair.

Quiz has been here for 3 hours. She's done her business outside twice; horrified Sampson and Kizmet and been horrified by Sally*. She is now snoozing in an open crate beside my chair. I have no idea what she is - but darling certainly fits. She is too small and her face is the wrong shape to be a shepherd but her ears are starting to prick more than not and her colouring could be. Gracie looks like a little lab. I am not convinced they are siblings as Grace weighs nearly a full kilo more than Quiz too. (Today Quiz weighs 2.3 kg ~ she's probably just over 8 weeks ~ if anybody has comparative weights to share I'd love to know them. Our mixed breed gsd puppies weigh about 10 kg at 10 weeks!)

Hopefully I can find a decent camera so I can share some decent pictures of her.
(She is the black and tan puppy; Gracie is the black with white chest puppy)

* Sally really does adore visitors, especially puppies. Tonight she lay beside Quiz and slowly rolled back and forth hoping to entice a puppy play session. Quiz was having none of that though I suspect tomorrow will be another story.

Monday, June 20, 2011

oh those puppies

 cute tiny social lab mix puppy ... very very cute and saucy

tiny teeny mix puppy - terrier? quiet, lethargic and so so sweet ...

more foster puppies seem imminent ...

oh boy

Sunday, June 19, 2011

not a gardener ...

We did more agility today.
Had a run in the pond field.

We didn't do enough agility according to Sally.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gosh Play is Hard Work ... for some of us anyhow ...

and for some of us work is all play ...

at least that's the way it rolls out around here ...

I worked all the dogs a bit today

Sally did some complicated rear cross work and directionals  through tunnels and jumps .. she did some HARD weave entries and she grinned, and bounced and played through it all

Thea just did a few tunnels and front crosses; a little work on the table and  a couple of efforts at the weave poles .. she was THINKING .. and WORKING and I felt sorry for her .. it was hard work to have that much fun today! (She didn't shut down, opt out or otherwise stress but she also didn't pass me once ... which means gears were turning!)
Brody just toodled through some tunnels being rewarded heavily if he flew them. He was not particularly impressed but he obliged. Much later on I worked on his play drive. He has been shaped to tug a soft toy. He tugs strictly because he knows it is a behaviour I want - and he has trouble doing it in the face of a high value reward. Tonight I had chicken rollover which is quite high on his list so thought I'd shape tug again. The first time I held the toy Brody absolutely ignored it. He danced, spun, bowed, barked, backed up and finally glanced at the toy. A quick mark, treat and repeat. I raised criteria quickly but was game to start with a look as the last time I shaped this activity was either last summer or the Christmas break. So - it went look, look, mouth on toy,mouth on toy, mouth on toy, teeth on toy and short hold, teeth on toy and short hold, teeth on toy and short hold, then rip it out of my hand. He repeated the rip it away twice then I held on gently .. and he tugged. Repeated twice perhaps three times and then we were done. The whole process took maybe 4 minutes - and that included rewarding Sally's nice down and Thea's nice sit as they watched. If I want Brody to drive for toys, on course, where ever, I MUST keep paying him for this behaviour. Revisiting the shaping work just made sense tonight - and it worked! I love it when it works!

Sampson got to play today too. He did jumps and tunnels and a couple of very very short sequences.
I also pulled out a long plank to start shaping him to run along it (in preparation for dogwalk/teeter work). I have never shaped this equipment before but Sampson was starting to get the hang of it - he was running his front two feet along it at least! (When he started he was leaping the plank and bouncing and was quite positive that it would burn his tender toes). The temptation to lure him was strong as he is very motivated by both food and toys but I am really curious to see what happens to a fully shaped dog (if it's even possible!)

Hard, fun work  play for sure!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sally's life is now complete

We won this flyer as a volunteer prize at the trial. Obsessed is a serious understatement for Sally's new found adoration! She, in case I haven't said it before, slays me!

Monday, June 13, 2011


National entries for both Brody and Sally submitted.

Got us some work to do between now and then.





Sunday, June 12, 2011

deets... for those who want them and for the records ,,,

Brody - 7 firsts, 1 second, 7 Q's... missed Q was a standard run  that I ran off course ,,,

earned Q's ... level 3 jumpers, jackpot (with 52 points - woohoo), level 4 -wildcard, one standard, colours, wildcard, snookers ( ... good dog ...

Thea - the superstar of the weekend ... 5/5 Q's ... more points for our level one title ..  snooker (44 points!), colours, fullhouse, jumpers, wildcard

Sally - what an naughty sista! She was a lunatic yesterday although she settled down ..I made some bone dumb errors handling her too  - ignored the basic requirements for one course - DOH! snookers pulled a rail at # 2 on an otherwise beautiful run, one standard leaped off the aframe from the first slat(yes you read that right!), and her wildcard course was crazy - ignored the basic requirements for the course there too (getting all of the more complex choices when we should have done one easy option). Better rounds were colours earned a smoking level 2 Q for a title :), a level 2 jackpot (37 points) so only one left at level 2, a level 3 jumpers earned (slowly 4.7 yps) and ... are you ready for this? a level one standard - as usual it was a lovely run and she got her aframe - YEEEEHAWWWWW :) nice note to end a great weekend on that's for sure :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

my head hates spring...

and fall - and pretty much anytime the weather systems change quickly ...

had fun at the trial today anyhow though ...

I skipped a jump in the first standard round - DOH - so Brody ran a most excellent wrong course ... hate that ....
Sally was a lunatic in her first class (standard) so again I'm back to thinking she'll never get a standard q in her life

next class was Fullhouse - maniac Sally accumulated lots of points (38 if memory serves me right) but failed to get three single bar jumps (a requirement) so NQ ... that would be twice my lack of ability to count got us into trouble in all of 5 runs ... DOH
Brody nailed a nice little course in that class as did Thea. Thea was a MONSTER - she was covering more ground that Sally .. a veritable "pistol" to quote one observer ...

third up was snookers ...
Sally ran a lovely opening, 3 reds and 3 sevens but pulled the  two point opening ... it was on an angle and I'm just not sure why that happened but I was pleased to have my dog back instead of the nut from the first two classes...24 points

Thea ran an awesome course too - three sevens for her too - and she got through 5 as well - to be honest she probably should have gotten 6 too ( there was a timer malfunction and we should have had 5 seconds after the whistle - the whistle went as she was coming down the frame (5 point) I'm sure she would have finished the frame and gotten the tire too - but she had lots of points in the bank - so why fuss? 38 points

Brody ran a happy course - 2 sevens and a three and he finished through six ...40 points - good boy

Colours was a nice way to end a great day - all three dogs ran strong and sane and all earned their Qs in plenty of time ... I would like to figure out some yps but I left the results at the trial overnight :)

Sally's sister Sophie came with us and had a most excellent day too - finishing a title even!!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

she never fails to crack me up

Sally couldn't resist taking hanging out with Big T to a new level tonight. Kitchen lights weren't on so it's even grainier than usual - apologies- but I'm glad I caught the funny frog moment. She hung there for a couple of minutes then slid down the couch to the floor. Silly, loveable Sally.

Summer Fun night ...

Games were entertaining ... We started with the snakes course - up and down and round and round ... dogs were happy and Sally got her aframe

Next was a round the clock game which I adapted from Clean Run's Book of Games ...

two tables were out and there were obstacles all around the place ... you got points (gamblers type points) but if you faulted you lost ALL your points .. to bank the points you had to hit the table ... then the points accumulated were safe ... it was very very fun to develop strategies and then run ... gave me a good chance to work offside weaves with Sally too (weave, table (as you couldn't go back to back obstacles) weave, repeat three times then go do something else)

then we ran a human jumpers with partners handling each other around the course- INTERESTING experience ...being the dog was quite amazing ..you run flat out with little idea where you are going ...

next up tunnel snookers ... ( the tunnel is the "red" and worth two points - if you fault in opening you can do closing anyhow) lots of fun - both dogs ran perfect paths :) I really should do 4 reds with Sally in aac  it works just fine - she finishes the courses with plenty of time in the few times Ive been able to try it

Last was a variation of mat gamblers ... the gamble mats were laid out  already  so you jumped on the mat did whatever you could then carried on - on a basic standard course

I was busy enough judging that I didn't pay much attention to the points but I think Sally and Brody both had moments of glory (only fitting for National qualifiers!)

It was a late night and lots of work but lots of fun too!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

rough tough weekend ...

We weeded, walked (checked out an addition to the dog park - now need to win lotto!) planted, watered, and worked hard. Sally and I played too. Played weave jump; weave tunnel .. played with bits from regionals courses..
We all had fun .. I looked over to see Big T and the boys snoozing on the swing .. unusual to see Big T or Sampson relaxing when the sun is up so I had to snap a picture .. Brody and Big T woke up - Sampson didn't!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Sad and Confused ...

The Webb Anderson workshop for next weekend was cancelled. I am totally bummed out as my handling improves every time I work with him. He was hit by the tornadoes that hit the southern states last month so I suspect he wants the time to repair stuff. I really would have liked to work with him before I have to decide about Nationals though. I am not sure AT ALL about going to Nationals.

On the pro side :
  • fun
  • amazing to watch the other handlers
  • relatively local

On the con side:
  • Brody hates heat
  • Sally is very green
  • leaving my garden (and chickens) for 4 days mid summer is really tough
  • the money can always be used for other things
Have to decide by mid month. I really didn't know making all these choices was going to be one of the toughest things about agility.