Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Birthday Candles for Christmas

It's official. The Pup has survived year one.

And so did everyone else!

Well, everyone except Wooden Bear Ornament.

And several dozen socks.

I might be more sad that my little puppy was turning a whole year old if I thought she was anywhere close to mature.

But she's not! 

She's still my little baby.

I'm just not sure the socks will ever be safe?
Yes, 12 whole months gone. From one week:

To one year:
And so much in between.

I'm lucky, right? I feel lucky.

I'll admit it now- when I envisioned my puppy, it wasn't exactly her. I'd fallen in love with border staffys after meeting her older brother who was a red, and her older sister, a fawn with the sweetest face ever. So when the litter was born, I fell for the red girl hard. I don't think I gave The Pups week one to six pictures more than a cursory glance. I was pretty hard core in my hints that I preferred the other sisters. So I was surprised to learn that the WHITE one was going home with me. 

Then I looked at her- I mean, REALLY looked- for the first time.

Hey, she was kind of cute.

Kind looking.

The only puppy stalking the toys from the get go.

A balance disk fool.

And were those freckles coming in?

Tan AND black freckles?

I've always wanted a dog with tan AND black freckles.

And then there are all those weird noises she makes...

Yep. I'm lucky.
The Pup had her first Christmas too. 

Due to prime rib and ornament overdose, she is unavailable for comment, but trust me. The Pup loves her some Christmas. 

Random gifts? Trees in houses? Food- EVERYWHERE?

These are a few of her favorite things.

Now all that's left is all the sad posed critters by the tree with bows.

Those are some of MY favorite things.
Christmas Cat- The Pup thinks she is a gift from Santa.

So... full. Could eat some more though.
Nothing makes Black Dog stand out better than green!
Taken in the only two seconds she sat still all weekend.
50 tries later, one useable group shot.
BIG Black Dog does have ears. Swear.
Raise your paw if you love Christmas Cat!
I can haz Christmas presents NOW?
Tis the season for sharing.
...And death to evil bows.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Photo Shoot! Holiday Style.

Falalalalaaaaaa lalalalala! Tis the season to pose doggies with xmas props for entertainment purposes.
And this year, I have TWO doggies to force into Santa hats!

The Pup is fascinated with all things Christmas.  Kind of in the Jack Skeleton (twisted) way...

She REAAAALLLY liked the hat. 


Until I made her wear it. 

Same with the lights.  Though I can't say I had to make her wear those. Sigh...

 And this was the happiest she has ever been.

 The Dog is the Christmas Angel, as always. 

SHE doesn't try to eat the props...

Like some doggies...

Trying to show off the sisterly love in the holiday season.

It isn't easy.  

The Dog swears she isn't just going through the motions. 


The Pup can only hold off her ADHD so long.
The poofy ball on the hat was REALLY enticing.

I think The Dog likes her hat.

She spreads holiday cuteness along with cheer.

Merry Christmas and stuff from the Project!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beware the Awesome

I do love the furry crew.  At the very least, one of them can be found at any given moment doing something amusingly naughty, but more often than not, they just bring the awesome to the moment.

The Pup kicked the weekend off by throwing down some great weaving.  6 poles, conquered! Well, at least: 6 poles, satisfactorily resembling real weaving! She's starting to get into them a little more.  Her entries are perfect (thanks, MEB for the method!).  Remembering to stay in was about 80% but that's only when we introduced more speed in. 

Proof Positive: weave awesomeness:
We've got some trick awesomeness happening too. The Dog is continuing her education in Helpful Dog 101 and has adorably achieved status of Chief Door Shutter.

The Pup still has some, ah, polishingto do before she earns apprentice status even.  She prefers to go through the door and peek out cutely.  Ok, click/treat anyways.
Sadly, no video, but The Dog was extra awesome at the BCSA AKC show this past weekend. We have one less QQ to rack up for Tulsa now and a shiny new MXJ title to add after her name (er, before?).  One more Standard leg to go for the MX.  Which we would have had if I wasn't a panicky dork.  So, The Dog was quite perfect all weekend.  The Leader claims all responsibility for the sad NQ. It's just that sometimes, apparently, brains fall right out of heads and make people call their nice doggies off of jumps that their doggies are headed to. Correctly.  Panicky! Dorky! Me me me!!! Ga.  

Anyways though, it was MUCH better than last weekend.  She took first place in Standard on Saturday with a super fly time.  JWW that day was extremely conservative on my part.  I completely fell pray to QQ desire and made the trade off of wide turns for bars that stay in their cups.  Slightly annoyed with myself but better than doing something really dumb like calling your dog off the jump that they should be taking. Who does that?!?!  I digress...  JWW Sunday was enough to make up for Saturday, we ran fast and I handled and good times were had by all.  We even threw caution to the wind and tossed in an a$$ pass at the end for good measure.  

Then there was the Sad Run. Which was actually a really fun run. The Dog, Dramatic Queen of Expressions, cracks me up.  As I was yoinking her around the (right) jump, she gave me a look like, 'Um, boss, you sure? Cuz it's right here... ok, whatever you say but I'm really not sure where this is going- there doesn't seem to be any equipment where we are headed...'  Smart Dog.   The rest of the run was exciting and action-packed. She did a WONDERFUL dogwalk- from a sharp turn onto it from a tunnel under the DW to a full run, sustained into a wall!  Then she nailed her weaves, we did another a$$ pass and she rocked the tough ending.  Oh yeah, then she knocked me over. Revenge, Dog style.  

I'm just glad my pants stayed up.

So, weird dog thing of the week.  

Table fascination. 

For some reason, both girls have decided that the table propped up in the living room is the best place for napping.  Why?
Apparently, it's also prime real estate for bone chewing.

 Dogs. So weird. 
Also so cute. Love the adorably naughty and awesomely fun furry crew!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eat, Pray, Run.

That about sums our lives up!

So. Much. Eating. 

The Pup had her first Thanksgiving. Tragically, tryptophan had no effect on her. 

The turkey overall though... mmmmm.... Happy puppy.

Um, did you guys want a bite or something?

The Pup continues her study of White Dog's counter surfing techniques.

Well, no one said White Dog had a perfect record.

The Dog is also an old hat when it comes to counter surfing. However, typically not as successful due to her stubby little legs.


 Black Dog would like it noted that she takes no part in naughty counter surfing.  

When people are looking, at any rate.

The Pup was able to catch on fairly quickly...

Curse those short legs. 

 Hope everyone else enjoyed their Turkey Day as much as we did! Is anyone else currently subsisting on sweet potato casserole? I know I am!
So basically I have some new great things to be thankful for.

Enter the 'prayer' segment.

I've been crossing all available appendages, hoping and praying for an offer on a position I'd recently interviewed for. I didn't dare mention it in case of unintended jinxing, but it's official:

The Project has a new payroll funding our weekend antics!


I'm so excited.  The pretty much best part? TONS of vacation time!

You know what that means...

More three day agility shows!

Double Yay!

The Dog was helping to celebrate. She is such a booze hound.

Sorry, Pup, none for you.  I just don't trust you with a glass bottle...


And then there's the running. 

Who says that just because it's nearly December in Minnesota you can't play agility?

So much practice recently.  I've triggered my favorite recurring injury of shin splints- or whatever, someday I might figure out what's actually going on- running so many dang dogwalks.

Just in time for a show this weekend!

Luckily it was *only* AKC, so I figured it was safe to navigate all of four runs spread out over hours and hours. I actually fared pretty well, only having spiky pain after those dang dogwalks.

The Dog was, I think, having her own pains as well.  I'm not sure; she may have been full of turkey, but she wasn't moving exactly right this weekend.  THREE rounds gone to knocked bars.  Weird bars too, not her normal in/out of tunnels or ones down due to me getting in the way.  Her first standard run looked pretty good and she had a nice fast time but one weird bar at the end.  Her JWW run looked terrible to me, many bars.  After Saturday I got clever and enlisted kind folks to take video.  Both runs showed some odd jumping style- chin down and head very high. Not a lot of power.  I want to say that there is something funny in her front or neck- she stretched out really well in her shoulders and rear so something that I don't know as well. A new problem area?

At any rate, she held it together for a pretty nice last run.  Still the odd jumping form, but it was a pretty friendly 'Dog course' so she made it through and ended up in first. I must say, she turned it on for the dogwalk and aced that part. At least I know she had a little fun!


Another AKC show next weekend. Potential to finish off her MX and MXJ this year, which would be fun!  Mostly, time to start working on 6 double Qs... since the plan is Tulsa 2013. Exciting!
 In Pup news, she's still being awesome.  In this brief respite from updates, she's turned 11 brilliant months old.  Her big breakthrough has been on the weave pole plane. Here is a super crappy clip of her weaving 2 sets of 4.  Sorry if it makes anyone barf.  It's quite Cloverfield-esque.

Since the video, she has gone on to weave 6 poles.  I'm so proud! We aren't doing too much since she's still young (though thankfully not growing anymore) so I'm impressed that she has caught on so quickly.  Clearly she is doing her part to get ready for the big debut set for 3-31-2012. Woo!  The BEST part is that she's weaving and running for toys now! And bringing them back! WOW!
We're all having fun with tricks now too.  After taking the summer to train, you  know, agility, it's time to get back at trick fun time.

I'm thinking I'll get some adorable video of the girls at it this week- The Pup is learning 'bow' and 'hug' and moving on to the next step in cik/cap turns.  She's also learning how to chill out ALONE when The Dog has a turn.  So far we haven't gotten to the point of any doors being shut. Solitude makes The Pup VERY sad.

The Dog is finally learning the shut doors.  Now I'll have one dog trying to slam my fingers in drawers and another trying to to lock me out.

My favorite, though, is 'hug sister' where The Dog is supposed to put her arm around The Pup.

She's getting pretty good at not mauling The Pup's face!

Click, Treat!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Home for the Holidays

2011 travel is officially closed out. This past weekend we made one last trek to Destination: Chicago.  I don’t quite remember how or why we decided to go since we still have plenty of local shows...   Maybe it was habit after going so many times this year, maybe it was because we just loooove Illinois or more likely it was that we are somewhat masochistic since that is one painful drive.

But at any rate, we somehow ended up at the ol’ soccer arena again over the weekend.   The courses were…difficult.  Not really in an obvious way- very subtle with sneaky hidden serps and depressed angles and off-course opportunities that just kept popping out and saying “HI!”  

I mostly just noticed the very evil entries and exits for the dogwalk.  Lots of ‘into the nothing’ and lame obstacles before or after (DW to the table or weaves? Thhbbbbttt).  We’ve done a lot of turns to jumps and call offs, but haven’t even started thinking about incorporating the dogwalk into sequencing like that yet.  And I’ve never worked more than one or two ‘nothingness’ exits in a session so we were educationally unprepared for a judge with an apparent anti- running DW vendetta (I can only assume?).

Alright, I think that covers all the performance disclaimers? Those being said, I think The Dog did a stupendous job.  How about a recap? Ok, reader, since you asked- why not?

Gamblers:  1 for 2.  Round one had a crazy wild opening including one dogwalk with a crazy wild leap, but then another with a lovely perfect dogwalk.  She did the Gamble up until the last jump, finding it easily, then shot off to an even harder jump randomly.  Watch the video. Hilarious!  Round 2 was a Q, leapy dogwalk with odd stride and I think I pulled her off.  She was clearly tired of dumb exits and just plain tired. 

Standard: 1 for 2.  Round one had a PERFECT dogwalk with a tough turn.  Kind of wild still and pretty wide but clean.  Round two had a knocked bar at the very end and a collected dogwalk- this was on to a table though and out of the weaves. How demotivating. 

Pairs: 1 for 1! First place with Black Dog on a tough course.  Collected dogwalk- I cued the turn VERY early.

Snookers:  0 for 1.  Sigh.  I fail Snookers lately.  I’ve got to figure out why.  She knocked a bar early in the close. 

Grand Prix:  0 for 1.  Sigh! The Grand Prix curse continues. One bar, one missed DW. Again, I think I cued early since it was a 90 degree turn to the weaves again. 

Steeplechase: 1 for 1…sort of?  Awesome round one with a Q and 1st place!  Round two continued our Round two curse and she found a super weird off course.  That’s my girl, who needs that money!? Oh, wait…

Jumpers: 2 for 2! Probably the highlight, oddly.  Second place round one and first place round two! I was really proud of her speed and attention on both courses.  Only one poorly timed front cross in round one leading to a WIIIIIDDDDDDE turn but otherwise perfectly in step for both courses.  Round two she found this invisible line buried in the last 6 jumps and performed her secret power of just …going.  Most dogs were frazzled and missing jumps or just checking in for the last sequence but not The Dog. She said ‘c’ya at the leash, k?’

Hm, think that’s it?  Things to note for the weekend- she really needs to have motivating dogwalk sequences to continue running throughout a weekend.  There was just too much calling off and no drive in to keep her speed up.  It’s ok- training point.  Another training point will be jumps after tunnels. Naughty bars down a few times!

Good lessons- thanks to the notes I got at the recent seminar… we can do serps again!! She didn’t miss the middle jump on a single one all weekend.  I finally figured out the right cue for her and got some patience and wouldn’t you know? It worked! 

I also- for the most part- was much better on my decel cues coming at the right time.  She didn’t have any China moments as a result.  And since I didn’t cue too early either, she didn’t slow down and start second guessing me.   We totally synchronized our decel watches finally. It was awesome.

She, lastly, gets a big virtual tennis ball toss for having awesome weaves. Good girl on her entries (I even trusted her a few times!) and really good speed.
Annnnnnnd video:

So at this point, USDAA is done for the year. Tear!  Even bigger sad face since The Dog has her Silver ADCH hanging now on 1 pairs Q, and is within a Q or two of three gold titles.  Guess we have to save something for next year!  
Also have to share a mashup I made of The Pup’s seminar.   Thanks to the videographer for living in the danger zone for the day. She was only mildly maimed.  

Mostly outtakes, but some good girl stuff too.  If you like what you see- go see Tracy for more!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Girl Panties Status: ON. (Or, How We Survived Our First Seminar!)

Well, it’s the Monday after The Pup’s first ever seminar with workin’ spot.  I’m proud to say that we are both alive to see this day!

We probably couldn’t have picked a better seminar to start with; Tracy Sklenar was everything promised- fun and easy going and willing to work with you. And she likes mixes. Phew! 

And she even had some great material- bonus!
It was certainly a different ‘feeling’ seminar.  I always wondered why people attending weekends with TS had very little to say about them except ‘what fun!’ and ‘what a lot of work- in a fun way!’  Was there no message? Did you have to take an oath of silence?  But I get it now- you don't really come in to a weekend with her and go away with tons of new training tricks and tools- it isn’t like, here is how you do running contacts and here is how you get tight turns- not really a step-by step ‘formula’ that’s offered up.   There was a lot of handler focus; things like tight turns and dog/path management were incidental to the big picture of being a clear handler.   It was all very much about fixing the handler, and the dogs just fell in place. It was pretty amazing to see baby dogs (since we did Novice/Open Handling Day) do things that they hadn’t even been trained to necessarily just because TS was able to tweak the handler’s timing and cues to the point of pretty perfect information.   So it was very ‘individualized’- no two pairs run alike so you could bet she would give you specific feedback on YOU and YOUR dog (again, no formulas!).  Getting video of sessions is priceless- see the difference position and timing make! Just see!!!! 

I can see why so many people are ‘repeat offenders’ (very high level of recidivism, hehe!).  The blanket concept she presents has to do with running mechanics, for the human.  For many of us, it’s a HUGE retrain.  Not something that is easy to pick up and run with, literally.  You need to see her again, and again and again, to get all that muscle memory down and down right.  To get a reminder.  Because, after all, you can’t see yourself running.  Her trained eye is what you need!
What I REALLY liked was this point- it isn’t so much about perfect position, but timing.  Her ideas on physical cues work up close if you can get there, but they work far away too!  She said something great about not sacrificing the timing of information for position (something I think I do a lot!) which I kind of forget the exact words of, but that’s the idea.  It’s nice to have solutions for every team that don't revolve around 'get there' and 'be faster.'
MY big revelation was not so much with The Pup, but on my timing with The Dog.  I’d wondered WHY she seems to miss my decel cues so very much, or reads them so early.  Then Taa-daa!  Answer? My decel cues are not very obvious.  The times when we ‘run fast’ look shockingly similar to when we are supposed to brake.  BUT I can make it all totally obvious by changing my run form for each speed.  I need to also work out when she needs the information, since when I DID make it obvious that the run form was changing it was too early.  My new goal is when we are ok to run fast, I must run fast exactly how I run with her on her dogwalk. She gets that when the Leader doesn’t run like a girl, all overly upright and no arm movement, it means run fast.  Upright Leader should mean decel.  Time to re-program!!  
I did get some helpful information on The Pup.  My feedback was sort of what I figured out a few weeks ago, but to the next level: Pup needs Leader to run fast.  There were pretty dramatic differences in her striding and extension when I did the Non-Girly run.   Overall though, it was made very clear that she is my little Velcro buddy.  Really, REALLY in tune to my speeds in general- she read decel like a champ, but too much so at times (made rear crosses really hard!!).  Now is the time for extension running.  Our homework is teaching her to drive ahead now when I drive. She seemed to pace me, which is good sometimes, but she has to understand that it’s okay to beat me at other times. 

Like The Dog.  She has zero problem deserting me on a straightaway.  That’s fine, Dog. See you in the next county, ok? We can meet at the Kwik Trip for that front cross.  
I have to say, I was REALLY proud of my little baby though. She was by far the youngest dog and hadn’t been trained a lot of the handling skills but she still managed to do all the exercises successfully.  And she kept her little baby brain all day!  Ok, so she mugged our videographer once and tried to attack TS for her peanut butter and got away from me once to steal the toy from the poor working dog.  But that’s all in normal day’s work for her.  She’s a hedonist.  BUT she maintained enthusiasm (even having to do start lines, and only jumps and tunnels!) and didn’t seem stressed or lose attention when we had to have do-overs.  I’m pretty sure she had an awesome time.

And holy cow, did she sleep well after!  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dogs So Good, It’s Scary!

In honor of Halloween, the girls decided to try and shock me to death with their awesomeness.  They almost succeeded!  This was a weekend of firsts.

Requisite Halloween picture- NOT the first... or last!
The first ‘first:’

The Pup ran in her first fun match!

It was adorable.  Video (Disclaimer:  video taken by nice stranger unfamiliar with iPhone camera location, please excuse the finger ghost at the top of the screen, and also the terrible lighting):

I won’t lie; I had no clue if she’d run away, or visit the people milling around in the ring, or sniff the new place… in fact I was pretty sure she’d try at least ONE of those out.  But I was wrong, The Pup was great!  All her contacts were solid and she stayed on track.  I proved to have some lame handling at the end (I was out of gas after running The Dog already just minutes before) and she responded (like a good girl) by following me rather than going to a few obstacles.  (Shame on me too, didn’t I just admit that tunnels are weak as far as sending?) She ran around the teeter too by way of inspection; it was the first she’d encountered without an obvious base/pivot.   After we ran the little course, we did go back to the jump-teeter and tried the end again and the second time through she was perfect and had an amazing teeter and dogwalk.   

So I learned that she likes playing more than I anticipated, and that she really needs me to give 110% on drive and focus.  NO cutting corners or general laziness!

I also learned that agility is the secret to creating Perfect Pup. Perfect Pup will go lay down by herself without being placed suggestively in her crate.  She will chew a bone instead of the walls.  She will sleep instead of bark at The Dog.  Amazing!

So her chosen sleeping place is under a table... I see no issue!

We of course went to the fun match mostly for The Dog. There is an AKC trial at that site at the end of November so I wanted more exposure to the dogwalk in advance of that.  She nailed all the dogwalks we tried, though was a bit flighty on her attention- or maybe I was being too lazy there too? I wouldn’t put it past me. 

Just in case it was me, when we went to the USDAA show yesterday I set the goal of handling The Dog like I would The Pup (when not exhausted).  Trust her, but no cutting corners and absolute attention to my cues.  Since we’ve been a bit off recently it was pretty important to re-establish our prior Avatar-like connections.
We started with Grand Prix, since I elected not to enter Jumpers in the early morning.  The dogwalk entries and exits for all three classes we were to run were terrifying, but Grand Prix took the cake as worst since there were issues with both the on and off.  I hemmed and hawed and decided it was either going to happen or not, but probably not if I did anything weird so enter that little Trust thing I mentioned.

Frankly, though I knew we could technically do it, I had very little expectation for a Q in Grand Prix.  The course played to none of our strengths.  It was really very Anti-Dog.  But off we went to make a go of it. 

The dogwalk was at the start: entry a wrap from a tunnel underneath, exit a pull to a far offside tunnel, with the wrong entry staring the dogs in the face about five steps away.   Imagine my shock when she a) wraps tightly and accelerates from the dead stop onto the dogwalk into a run, b) nicely hits her down contact without leaping, c) pulls easily off the wrong tunnel and d) finds the correct side without hitting a tunnel bag. I think I yelled GOOD DOG but I may have just stood there slack jawed for a minute. Eventually I remembered to keep running and we finished up clean. Hooray for our first 2012 GP Q!

The gooey delicious icing on the cake?  She won! She had a scary good time too. So we got a bye as well, our first!  Oh curses for not having video, it felt absolutely wonderful but I wish I could see it! 
Seconds later she tried to eat the Bye. Oops.
Standard was next, the same exit on the DW, the entry was straight on, but with the first obstacle actually pointing at that naughty tunnel still sitting there so it proved pretty difficult.  The Dog chose wisely and had an even better dogwalk.  I let her run all the way off before calling so it was a bit dicier getting the tunnel but she listened really well, again getting the correct side without hitting the tunnel bags!! (Can you tell this is an issue for her?)

It was a really nice run; the place that I didn’t run in a crystal clear way I caused a bar.  I’m grateful for the reminder to not be lazy!  She was really awesome on her weaves and teeter, though naughty slow drop on the table and did some obstacle shopping at the end (“I can do DW again???).  Even with that, she had the best time at least so still happy.

We ended on Pairs with Diva Black Dog. The Dog needs Pairs for her Silver ADCH so it was my goal for the day.  Oddly, when choosing sides I stuck Diva with the side less friendly to her and took the evil DW half for the Dog because I couldn’t pass up the challenge.  So much for playing it safe! 

Not only was it a terrible DW exit (pull off a dead-on jump to a 90 degree turn, then an awkward send through a box), but it was an awful weave entry (for us) which required babysitting and potentially getting behind for the DW.  The Dog nailed the weaves and I took a millisecond to shoot her in the tunnel before bolting to the end of the DW. I don’t think I bothered to see if she took the tunnel OR the DW, so I am really glad she did! All that mattered was me beating her down for a pivot to the correct jump and I DID!  And she had a great DW contact! Then she saved me on the box and Diva Black Dog did her half like the champ she is.  Totally vindicated for not playing it safe.  One down, two to go!
In sum, dogwalks are now our beotch.

The dogs are awesome.

It’s Halloween.

That’s really all there is to say about that!
Closing Monday Humor:

Apparently my spot on the bed is a hot commodity.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pupdate 10.0!

My baby is ten months old. 

It’s not as bad as nine months.

Ten months sort of seems more like a ‘fun age.’  The age I’ve been waiting for.

You see, for a small-medium puppy, ten months means that the fun can REALLY start. I think it’s safe to say she’s done growing so now we can get to work on the last few elements of training.


Weave poles!!!

So I know I initially said I wanted to train channels, no wires.  But I hit a wall where I wasn’t able to crank them any tighter because of her age. And now that she’s old enough, its basically winter and there is no place to work channels every day.  And believe me, I don’t want to wait until spring to start the long process of teaching channels.  Magic solution?


I was very… thbbbbtttt about the thought of teaching this method.  But knowing what I know now about The Pup’s food-drive, and that she prefers challenges and shaping to repetitive muscle memory tasks it seems that 2x2s are the best method for her. 

I decided to go with MEB’s method of 2x2s, a slight derivation of Susan Garrett’s.  You can see MEB’s method here.   The main differences that I see are that the poles are always in line (not opened up for an easier approach) and that it’s less um… particular. There are some dos and don’ts but it made more sense to me and less like a ticking time bomb of failure if you didn’t do EVERYTHING exactly as prescribed.

So we started last night and boy, do I like being right. The Pup was much more into it than she ever was with the channels.  She caught on right away and after we raised the bar from ‘any offered pole passing behavior gets the cookie’ to ‘correct entry only’ she never offered anything but criteria.  She was even an angel about running back without back weaving.  But the best part was how fun it was for both of us.
So that’s it, that’s the last element to her obstacle training. 

However, now we go back and start filling in the outlines.  For the progress record (that was the basic point to the blog, so sorry if lists are not the most gripping text I could share):

Tunnels:  Good drive to and from (better from).  Needs some work on committing; she will turn back in an ‘are you sure’ manner if there is a cross before. 

Chute:  If Marvin awaits her at the exits, awesome. No Marvin…eh…  sometimes she forgets that she must burrow through.  Work in progress.  Probably the weakest obstacle now.

Tire: Awesome!  Really good about going through the circle, hasn’t discovered going under or around (jinx?).  Will seek the tire from any angle.

Table: Also awesome! Very nice auto drop and will stay for a 5 count.  I can move around, run past and send, but I can’t circle her yet.  She likes to follow me around (though at least tries to remain down then?).

Jumps:  Nice at 12”, working on 14”.  Not ready for anything more yet.  Solid on lines, angles and pinwheels, pretty good sends and commitment, NICE wraps and post turns. Backside annoys her.  I plan on doing a lot more one jump work this winter to start putting commands to the maneuvers and keep her motivation up for jumping in general (though it’s been really building on its own funnily enough. Hmm.)

Teeter: Love her performance now.  Drives through the tip and has a true understanding of the 4 on.  She will stick it if I run past or cross or drop all the treats everywhere (oops).  Sends to it very well.  Might be her favorite thing, close call between teeter and table.

Aframe:  She’s still working out how she’s doing this.  I have Marvin out for most reps still; when he is there she thinks less about what she’s doing, in a good way. She doesn’t do scary boingings over the apex anymore with him there either so, phew!  Without him she has the tendency to rock back much more and take more small steps. Not bad, but not running like she can. 

Dogwalk:  PERFECT with Marvin.  Fast and good extension.  She needs more exposure to different dogwalks at this point, finding entry from angles, and continual work on fading Marvin.  When it’s dogwalk into a tunnel I get a pretty close performance to Marvin, but to nothing I can beat her. She has still yet to leap though.  That makes me happpeeeee.

Hmmm, if I forgot anything, someone had better tell me!
As for what it’s like to run now… mmmm… better than cupcakes.  She figured out quite recently that there is no “I” in “Team” and it feels like we are working together now.  Her agility switch is officially on. 

Like I mentioned, I started her this week in classes. She was a star!! Quite loud and obnoxious, as promised, while waiting to go but focused and brilliant for her turns.   I admit, when we first started doing obstacle work and handling groundwork I really didn’t see how she was going to end up with the running speed and style I wanted.  But now… my baby is fast! AND smart!  
And in life…well, she’s grown up there too.  I’d never thought I’d say this, but she can sleep out now!!  All of a sudden, she turned into bedtime snuggle pusher.  As soon as I am in bed, she’s there squishing up in a little Pup ball next to me.  And there she sleeps, the whole night. 

Still a holy terror during waking hours though.  Some things never change. Why o why did I teach a dog to be so explorative?  No cupboard is safe. 

That’s it! Ten months, in a nutshell (though it’s a big huge hazelnut shell I guess). 

Because you can’t post without mentioning The Dog, here is The Dog in her new PINK Thundershirt. No, not scared of thunder, just anxious about life.  What can I say? The Dog needs a big pink hug. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Post Apocalyptic Agility

Ok it’s happened. I think I finally need therapy!  I've had the strangest agility dream ever.

While it isn’t unusual for me to dream about post apocalyptic societies or agility, it’s rare that the two combine.

I mean, I thought the dream where I was running at the Nationals staged in a fiery Zombieland was relatively normal in comparison- the worst part about THAT dream was that my teammates totally blew the relay final. 

So anyways, we are at Cynosports and its being held at this crazy square building on a military base in a barren, remote location and then it was suddenly World War 3- bombs flying, huge planes coming and going. Total chaos (and of course we are still running). Then it got weird. So, we are at the USDAA Nationals. But it’s really the World Games, see? So USDAA is actually revolting against the USA… and siding with the world stage?  So it’s rebels and Japanese and some people from Mexico, etc. And most of us are banding together in packs to fight off the onslaught and then all of a sudden all the people on the AKC World Team are putting on their Red, White and Blue uniforms and turning on the USDAA supporters! And then they let the American Government in and woo boy. It was all over pretty quick. It wasn’t so bad though, being captured. I mean, Karen Holik was nice; she helped get me medicine for my injuries and I was being marched off to the internment camp.

What does it MEAN??

I must be feeling more subconsciously conflicted than I thought about wanting to do more AKC in the next few months?  

Or my first theory- totally losing it.
But we had a nice lazy (read: recuperative) weekend involving no agility and very little training.  The dogs are both bored and hate me now so that’s the end of that. I suppose it’s time to get back into it again- veerryyyy slowly though. Don’t want to pull anything. We’ve got one half day of showing this weekend (in search of elusive GP and pairs Qs!), then THE FIRST SEMINAR with The Pup (EEK!) the following weekend, then an out of town USDAA show (again, elusive GP and Pairs Qs), then AKC at the end of November and beginning of December.  

To prepare, I’m even going to start heading to class again for the first time in months, this time though with BOTH dogs. I’m excited (nervous) to see how The Pup handles it on an on-going basis.  While I don’t love taking group classes, I need to not always run my own sequences and get both dogs working happily around distractions and when I am annoyed (though The Pup will be the annoying, distracting one in HER class so that will be a fun change!).  Also winter here really limits getting on equipment so there is some necessity if we ever want to see a dogwalk again (though I REALLY hope The Dog is past the need for twice daily reps…).   Though the table and a jump fit well in the living room so we can keep drilling happy table (which hasn’t happened since last winter, oops) and cik/cap turns! The Dog remembers it really well from all our work last spring though she did try and hug the standard the first dozen or so times.  While I’m still not sure I’ll use it with The Pup it really can’t hurt (and admittedly she probably does need work on driving out of turns joyfully since I recently discovered her hated of decelerating).
Our one thing we did over the weekend was take a nice walk on probably the last gorgeous day of the year.   We went to a popular park filled with people and screaming children, partly because it’s huge and purty so kinda worth it but also partly because I’m putting The Dog into those icky loud situations when I can so she can learn to deal. She got her ball and was mostly happy. 

Attempts at cute dog posing:

Mostly giant fails since THE PUP WILL NOT LOOK AT ME!!

She is always staring off at…something?

At least she didn’t run away.

More than once.