Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sometimes You Just Gotta Hit That…

If you don’t have a bloggy, or have one but don’t really explore the features very much, you might not know that there are all sorts of statistics that Blogger, at least, puts together for you.  It has the obvious statistic on how many hits you get, but also some verrrrrry entertaining statistics regarding the traffic sources.  I love this because I’ve been able to find some new blogs to read and ‘meet’ some new people this way. But I REALLY love it because of the ‘Search Keywords’ section.  This generates what searches are giving your site the most hits.

While most of the ones listed are ‘normal’ and make sense (i.e. “Go Dog,” Project” or my name, etc) there are some that are really out there and hilarious. First, what prompts these Googlers to even string some of these words together in the same search box? Some favorites…

“Naaaaa nananana 2011” (What could that possibly be for??? No wonder the internet gave them me. It had no other option.)

“Cocaine Puppy” (Do they want it for their puppy? Did their puppy already have some? Is it a puppy made entirely of cocaine?)

“Cleaninig a Curse” (OK. I get this one- I dedicated a whole post to bona fide research on this point, but spelling errors make me say ‘tee-hee!’ Also most people wouldn’t search curse cleaning. That would be a removal, folks.)

“Pork Come Tree” (Again…what? Three most random words ever. Possibly entirely too kinky for my taste.) 

“RVs a Rockin’” (Also kinky. Yes, I had a post entitled this sort of. But unless the person was trying to find me again, they were in for a huge letdown. It wasn’t what you’d think!)

“Susan Garrett Cult Dog” (The funny thing is I get a LOT of variations of this. Why? I had never even mentioned SG until recently, but have had this particular search lead people to me forever.)

And then, for whatever reason, they apparently click on the little Go Dog link and are sorely disappointed.   Maybe they don’t bother reading the description that goes along with the generated post and are just impatient, but maybe sometimes you just gotta hit that link.
***
In other, relevant, news: Dog, Pup, Leader and Boyfriend are all still alive. Maybe the Curse of Threes won’t strike after all. The Dog ran very well at practice last night and showed zero signs of bother during, after or this morning. Wise mother says she thinks the scary bump IS a coffee table ding and not anything out of place. I have my doubts, but I supposed one way or another we will find out soon enough.

I tentatively believe we have something that is working on her DW. It seems she doesn’t get running and not leaping and she doesn’t get 2o2o either.  The only thing she seems comfortable with is checking in with me and pacing me off the board. I fought her doing this for a long time (for reasons agonized over in a previous post) but like the start line it seems to no longer be worth fighting over. It makes her happy and I think we can make up the time elsewhere on course (it raises the obstacle time to 2 to 2.5 seconds, depending on my timing) with better turns, tables, teeters (darn T obstacles!) and more consistent weaving. So we’ll see if we can get another show with actual consistent contacts.  If a pattern is established, then maybe we DO have something!

See what you think- 







And happily, The Pup is back to better health. She made it through the Scary Zone (Um, STUFF is moving through again so she obviously is not obstructed) and is clearly feeling herself again.  She ate like she’d gone 24 years instead of only 24 hours without any food yesterday and this morning was running her heart out from corner to corner of the house. 

Her new favorite activity (possibly tied to the starvation issue) is trying to find a way to bust into Mr. Garbage Can.  She has been ‘casing the joint’ for awhile now for signs of weakness. I feel her studying me every time I step on the peddle to raise the top. Could she really be figuring it out? I get the feeling that she is going to be in a kennel when we aren’t there for a loooooooooong time.

Evil Genius (on FB already but if you missed it!)- though you wouldn’t guess it from some of these clips… (ahem, Fun with Wind Up Toy…)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Are One Sick Puppy, My Friend...

Oh my. If bad things happen in threes, then everyone I know had better WATCH OUT!

First, The Dog. There is SOMEthing wrong with her shoulder. I *think* (not a vet, never was a vet, only a really good Googler) that she has a ligament or similar out of place. She had this huge bumpy bump the other day and I thought it was a coffee table ding (she is a bit of a dingy dog). Now I know it was a swell around this SOMEthing, because it is no longer swollen, just weird.  I am hoping that massage and maybe an adjustment will sort her out.  I am also thinking of letting her practice anyways tonight since we are supposed to go out of town to show this weekend- at least some tunnels and low jumps. I want to see if she shows it at all when running. So far, nothing except a little tightness when I extend it.  Otherwise being her normal bombacious self at home.

...I might be blowing a teeny SOMEthing out of proportion, I don't know. I do that. Once a hypochondriac, always a hypochondriac, even on behalf of the dogs!

But no elaboration needed for The Pup's symptoms. Poor little raptor discovered that the world isn't made of sunshine and cookies, but sometimes poo and barf. 

I came home yesterday to a very sick tummy so took her to the vet. Once there she gave an amazing display of her stomach's contents via projectile vomiting. We all decided it was likely caused by the stolen and henceforth eaten rawhide end piece from the night before so she had some xrays and testing and stayed at the vet for monitoring for a few hours (there was a LOT coming out of her so she needed fluids) because they were of course worried about an obstruction.  Luckily she did seem to run out of innards and was able to come home for another 24 hours of obstruction watch. They felt pretty confident that one of her transactions contained the guilty party, but still gave me the anxiety-producing warning of 'any more vomit and get her to the ER for possible surgery!'

Once at home I had the saddest puppy on the planet. 90% of the night was cuddly baby seal hug time. She gave a half-hearted attempt at playing with The Dog but actually ran away from any food. Definitely not feeling herself! She didn't even want to chomp at all. So we all had a good rest night and watch a documentary on Earth which both dogs enjoyed greatly due to all the predator noises.

At this point, we are nearing the end of the Scary Zone (hour 20!!). The Pup seems much better, chomping at everything and was ravenous when I went to give her some soft food a bit ago. Wanted to romp a bit. I let her have alligator toy so that The Dog wouldn't steal it or want to play with it (since I am trying to rest her!), since she hates stuffed toys.

Oh wait, The Pup has a toy? Then The Dog wants it. More than anything on the planet.


Resting, Dog. RESTING. Not playing! I will not throw that! Especially since you stole it from a sick baby!


Sick Puppies still love documentaries with wolves.


But they also love to snuggle.

Now the only thing left is to wonder what's next?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Puppy Growth Should Be as Forbidden as the Castle Journey Ride in Harry Potter World…


Well, we are back from vacation- bank accounts empty, but we’ve got tans and plastic souvenirs to show for it!

Florida was completely awesome.  Stressful going down, as Minnesota tried to hold me hostage at the airport with the snow storm, but smooth sailing once I touched down. The weather was perfection- 80s and 90s with a breeze.  Mr. Sun graced us with his presence all day, every day (and it is storming there today and maybe all week long so we are really lucky!).

OMG The crowds! Almost as big as the castle!
We did a LOT in just the four days we were there:  Both Universal Studios parks, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I HIGHLY recommend Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure.  So much to see and do! We spent the majority of our time there, though a big part of that had to do with the fact that HARRY POTTER WORLD IS THERE!  It was amazing!!! If you are a fan… GO!!! Even if you aren’t a fan- GO!  They did such a good job.  The Forbidden Journey ride in the castle was the best ride I’ve ever been on. First you tour the castle, so the line doesn’t even feel like a line (though it was- an hour wait or so each time we went). Then you hop on some ‘enchanted benches’ and get swooped through the castle and castle grounds in a mix of real life scenes and Omni-max like projection screens. I can’t really do it justice, but it was worth waiting for time and time again. The other rides were great too and the whole village setting was perfect- fun stores, good food, and excellent atmosphere. It did the books justice, and anyone who is a fan should know what that means- it had authenticity, which isn’t easy to achieve if you are replicating a magical world!

So yeah. We had fun. We ate a ton of awesome food too, so don’t you worry about how I managed to survive a vacation on THE REGIME- didn’t even try (though scarily, found myself eating healthier things anyways… what is WRONG with me??).  Joyfully, I only gained back a pound or so, thanks probably to all the walking we did.

Amazing dinner at Emeril's restaurant:, Truffle Pizza, Wine, oh my!
Me- so happy to go have butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks! YUM!
Me- so sad that they NEVER have a "Shenna" Keychain...
Of course I was overjoyed to see The Dog and The Pup yesterday. As much as I hate coming back when there is a 50 degree difference in temperature, I missed the girls too much to stay away much longer!  They came with to the airport to pick us up and The Dog nearly squeezed herself through the crate wires à la PlayDough in a PlayDough Factory trying to get to us.  I was happy to see she didn’t hold any grudges. It sounded like she had a fun vacation herself at Grandma’s though- she got to play crony #2 to White Dog’s Mob Leader; a role she dearly loves. AND sources say she even looked out for The Pup and kept her safe from Black Dog (possibly using excessive force though… she does love biting Black Dog…).

And The Pup was excited to see us too, after she remembered who we were!  I was very mad at her though- I gave her orders NOT to grow AT ALL without me and she went and had a spurt! NOT FAIR!!! Now her front legs are all knobbly like she is Popeye and her back legs look very stretched. Her ears grew about two feet too. She looks like a rabbit overall.   

Fighting hard to get one rabbit ear up!
Gangly weird phase! My little Tween...
But she still chomps like a Velociraptor. I told her all about how we went on the Jurassic Park ride and it featured her ancestral Velociraptors playing with wires. They looked just like her.

I do have a training video of her- almost ready to go.  I’m really happy with how she is coming along. It doesn’t look like she forgot anything after 5 days without training. Oddly, her recall is better than before?  So we are making sure to always have some form of reward around to mark that good stuff. She even called off of The Dog last night. AND she called off of chomping the Boyfriend’s ears. WHOA! Major improvement. Though not really on the chomping front…

I evidently missed the sign up for the Recallers e-course while on vacation but think it was a tad out of my price range anyways. SO instead I signed up for Silvia Trkman’s online puppy course.  I’m excited to try the online format and to do total emersion into Silvia’s methods from the ground up with a dog… and to have some help if something goes horribly wrong. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Luck of the Irish??

Not sure what the difference was this weekend. I’d like to think it was the payoff of hard work, understanding and dedication, but maybe there was just a dash of luck thrown in there too. Whatever the cause, the effect was one great weekend of agility with The Dog!

It was pretty much the opposite of the last CSA show in February.  Like being in an alternate universe. Wait. Is this the Twilight Zone?

Our first class was rocky. She was ‘sticky-‘ slow and tentative off the start line, borderline Aframe’s, sluggish teeter and then a total blown Gamble.  Big time confidence deficiency was apparent.  I decided then that, although we REALLY needed a Standard Q, we also really, really needed some feel-good fun or the whole weekend would be down the tubes.   So for Standard, I went in with a 'screw you accuracy and control' attitude and jazzed and cheered the whole way through. And wouldn’t you know, she actually responded amazingly?  She had a very good time, listened really well and did a happy auto-drop even (the true measure of the version of The Dog I am running is found in her table performance).  Near the end of the run, she gave me the best dogwalk she ever has in a show so of course I marked it with a super mega “YES” and clapped and woo-hoo’d…causing her to knock the jump after. Oops.  Still glad I did it!

Because we consequently had super mega awesome dogwalks the whole rest of the weekend (Note- DW performance not true running, but paced to me).  After the boost she got from Standard she was able to deliver a clean (though a bit more reserved) Grand Prix run on a crazy course.  (I think the most accurate quote to summarize the crowd’s feelings about the course was “WOW… I feel like I have just been through a WAR!”-uttered by anonymous shell-shocked competitor.) Then we ended the day with a really clean Steeplechase round. I was blown away by her time; I thought for sure the two sets of weaves would result in a slower run, and was worried as to whether we had qualified or not but she ended up in 4th with the 2nd and 3rd times within 10ths of hers.

Sunday was a great day in itself.  She qualified in everything, which meant a Bronze ADCh for her after Standard (with ANOTHER GREAT DOGWALK!) followed immediately by a Pairs Q with Black Dog, securing her Bronze ADCh too.  (I can’t believe they finished another title on the same weekend, it’s too funny.)

In honor of the day, we had her bronzed...
After that high we ran the second round of Steeplechase. The Dog was doing brilliantly but had one of her rare yet spectacular altercations with a jump- she kersplatted (yes, that’s a word, no matter what spell check says!) the broad jump and it was like a NASCAR crash- no recovery possible. She went down terribly so I had to check her out to make sure her face was in one piece. She was fine other than the amount of black turf pellets she had plowed into her open mouth (she HATES anything like that in her mouth- very upsetting!)- but our run was done. Oh well! I am sure it would have been a great score!  At least she was ok.  

We ended on Snookers and Jumpers. The jumpers run was nice and fast, even with three big China trips (a bit high I think after Snookers). I was very happy with her time- it was right in the cluster for placement- the top 5 times were all less than half a second apart (she was 5th, and was out of 4th by .01 seconds). Her Snookers run was, I think, the best of all her runs.  It was a very interesting lay out and I chose to experiment.  My plan had an “out” (run around and take the backside of a jump coming in) in an unnatural place (coming down a line of jumps- the obvious thing to do was take the jump straight- very difficult setting for an “out.”), a giant run across the back of the course to send to a jump followed by a sharp weave entrance (for her), and then a run back across to the close, where the ‘2’ jump was buried amongst three other jumps. She managed all three challenges very well.  I was honestly shocked that she sent to the jump across the ring so easily- she was like a little jump seeking missile! Then she nailed the weaves and, even more shocking, directed to the correct #2 jump from the long fast run in from her last color. The rest of the run was perfect and overall good enough for 2nd place (again though, just 10ths from the best time!).  She is now a real joy to run in this class- it was like pulling teeth for a long time but I think she is starting to see the fun of this class. And that is the real goal! 

Puppy had a good weekend too. It was her first road trip! She did really well with the travel and fair to good at the hotel (“Whaddaya MEAN we have to sleep now? We just slept 6 hours on the way hereeeee!”).  She got an A+ for good behavior at the show again- nice and quiet in the crate and silent yet attentive while watching. She did some training in a new place and stayed very focused.  And of course, she made a million more friends.  We introduced her to her brothers Decker and Kai- Kai who is her older clone brother. She LOVED him and wishes she could have taken him home. It was so cute to see them together, though next to impossible to get pictures of the moment!  If only they weren’t so identically bouncy.  Really cool to see both older boys running too. Glad they are around so we can watch them evolve in person!  

Clone and Clone unite!
Dynamite and Kai in a rare moment of stillness!!
Perpetual Motion Machines!! 
Just to show how hard picture taking is!
But she WILL sit for food- if no one else is looking!! 
Treat please! NOW!
***
She got a D- at the vet this morning though! She chomped on EVERYthing. She perforated the vet tech AND the vet. She tried to dig a hole in the exam room. She somehow climbed into a cupboard and wouldn’t come out. She stole a leash and chewed it up. Very naughty!  Healthy though, and a whopping 10 pounds.

The Dog was her best ever at the vet. She felt she had to make the puppy look bad I think (not that puppy needed help there). Normally she is a terror and has been known to poop on the vet as a revenge tactic. But this time she let them do whatever- though she was tenser than a steel girder. She was standing on the tips of her extended claws and was more immobile than any statue I have ever seen. The vet couldn’t believe she was able to hold that pose the whole exam- I explained that we do a lot of conditioning. Hahaha!

My dogs are weird. They are very exhausting. I always get the feeling the vet and vet techs are a bit relieved when they see us leave. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Falling Off the Wagon…And then some!

So here is a funny AND sad confession.

Funny: Tee-hee! I’ve been cheating on THE REGIME.

Sad: When I say ‘cheating’ I mean, cutting off the ‘cool-down’ on the work outs or having an extra ½ ounce of almonds in a day (note- this amounts to about 5 almonds).

We are on week 9 at this point and the going has gotten tough. Luckily we just finished a ‘rest week’ and are starting this week fresh with new food and exercises. Those middle four weeks were HARD. Not so much the actual working out being physically taxing, but the planned food was NOT substantial or energizing enough to carry us through each day.  It was becoming a real chore to try and work out on low reserves at the end of the day. And when you add in a new puppy?? Plus we were STARVING. This last leg should be great though- the diet is meant to fill your energy stores so you can GO to the extreme.  Overall, results have been excellent, even with minor cheating (we fell off the wagon for real and HAD to eat out last night.  But we got salads with no dressing!!! And I only had ONE cocktail…) and we are looking to finish strong.

However. We do have one more teeny departure from the wagon planned. Next week we are going on VACATION!!! A real, not for a dog show VACATION- to a sunny destination and everything.   We are going to (pardon me while I nerd out for a sec) HARRY POTTER WORLD!!! YAAAAY! Yep, I’ve been dreaming of going for a whole year now and we are finally doing it.  So excited to go to Florida again and be warm and have no snow and so much I can’t even fit it all in a sentence! We are going to Disney and both Universal parks, but the main point is totally HP world. Laugh all you want, but I am going to buy a wand after I let it chose me. And then I will drink a butter beer. And do a bunch more nerd-tastic things. Hoo-ray.

That means the doggies get to live with ‘Grandma’ for a few days. Therefore I was tasked with getting puppy some semblance of manners before then. I like to think we are somewhat successful in this venture. She WILL sleep through the night every night now. She IS potty trained (sooo cute how she will run down to the door and paw on it. Good baby!). But she also is growing in destructive tendencies. It’s gotten worse since the last naughty report. Maybe Grandma’s house is still wrecked from when Black Dog ate everything when she was a baby??

On the training front (video later this week), we’ve conquered ‘high five’ officially, sit and down (including the auto drop on the table!) are old news and we’ve started ‘ok,’ ‘wait,’ ‘leave it’ and ‘get it’ for toy retrieving.  She will do the ‘pink belly’ trick (Which is basically “lay on your side and let me see that tummy.”) and also will roll over. I made her learn that on her non-dominant side so it was hard but worth it to have some ambidextrousness! We started four on position for the teeter, she already fights for four feet. SO CUTE. Puppy has also perfected beginning perch work in just a few sessions. She will swing independently in both directions, so now we can move it into ‘heel’ and ‘side’ taps. Also have nose touches (‘here’) down pat. 

The only problem I see is the recall when I don’t have food. As in, I don’t see it. As in, if she would rather sit and eat crap in the yard (Ewwww! Ew ew  EW!!) than come to an empty hand, she will do as she  sees fit. BOO. So, perfect timing, I may try and get into the next round of the Say Yes Recallers e-course that should be starting up soon. (How could I not? I am so easily influenced by marketing and all those videos on FB have brainwashed me!) Five minutes a day to a brilliant recall is well worth it if it means I don’t have to chase the puppy out into the snow in SOCKS to prevent her from eating any more crap.

We have our first show on the road with the puppy this weekend. The hotel should be interesting. Like… sleeping dangling above a pool of angry sharks? Black Dog thus far is terrified of puppy, and we all know how THAT manifests (“grrrr…” “BARK!”  CHOMP).  Not sure how The Dog will hold up to that stress either.  This whole puppy thing is already wreaking havoc on her delicate nerves. She had a meltdown this last weekend because I was sick and the puppy was not entertained enough and everyone was crabby and had cabin fever so The Dog decided that meant she simply HAD to lay on someone’s head nonstop. Guess whose? As if I didn’t have enough problems breathing as it was.  

But even with the stress at home she was excellent at the fun match we went to over the weekend. Not a paw out of line, but a little bit slower than usual on contacts. Not sure if her confidence is down still or if she was just plain exhausted mentally. Practices tomorrow and Thursday though, so we will see how she does there. We ended on a bad note- she had her first agility related ‘injury’ and we had to stop. She- I think- smacked her wrist on the chute and came out limping heavily and looking at it like OW, what the heck??? But walked it off quickly and no signs of anything since so hope it was just a stinger. Such an awful stomach drop feeling to see that happen though, even if it’s ‘nothing.’

Speaking of awful stomach drops, I think we all shared the collective feeling of anguish to see the photo of the tsunami over-taking the agility field in Japan. But I am ridiculously heart-warmed now at the out-pouring of love and concern to our Japanese counterparts in the agility community. Here is the link to donate to their cause for anyone who may have missed it:


Dog people are the best people. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

POP QUIZ: How Much Naughty Can One Puppy Contain?

            A.)  None. Puppies are sugar and spice and everything nice.
            B.) Some amounts are possible, but all beings are inherently good.
            C.)  It’s 50/50. The sweet cuteness balances the naughty proportionally.
            D.)  Trick Question. There is no limit to the amount of naughty contained in a puppy.

If you have answered “D” give yourself one point. And then a cookie because like me you probably need it (make it a cocktail if your puppy has demonstrated this point first-hand in the last 24 hours).

If you answered any other option, minus 5000 points and give yourself a pinch on the arm. From me. There. Let that be a reminder of your foolishness! Now you know better.  

Puppy has now discovered that the house has so much more to offer than the toys and food we present her with.  Why eat dinner when you can chew on the bathroom wall? Who wants a sock-like toy when you can steal real socks? And why lay in your crate or pen when you can wedge yourself behind the couch just out of reach with the aforementioned sock?  

Naugh. Ty.

I mean, socks are one thing. But the wires... and rocks… and bits of plastic she got from… where? I don’t even know… but they are not good things for puppies to have. And the worse it may be, the more she wants it. And is inclined to run away with it. Then the hiding and wedging ensues.  Or, if we are really lucky, she will try to bury it. In the carpet…

We just lost our best line of defense- she was scared of the strange shadowy places (e.g. behind the couch, under/behind the entertainment center, behind the coffee table…) and of going downstairs, so many things were protected in the shadows and by hiding downstairs (that was The Dog’s escape route). All of a sudden the other day she decided that she was 100% fearless. Plop, plop, plop, down the stairs she went to bite The Dog’s tail.  And oops, who is now scurrying around chomping the Wii controller under the TV?

Again, I am reminded of Jurassic Park, when they realize that the electricity went out on the raptor paddock and that the Velociraptors were free.  There is that moments when they see that they are kind of screwed.  They clutch their only weapon, a semi-automatic, a little closer. Been there, done that.

Except instead of the gun, we have a small canister of Scope breath spray. This is all that stands in the way of total annihilation now.  A teeny one ounce spritzer.  Eep.  But it’s gone a long way with preventing further perforation of our body parts. (Probably wouldn’t work as well with a real Velociraptor though.  Good thing she is only part.) At this point, she truly despises the bottle and will back off immediately when it appears. However, I can see her calculating the best way to bring about its destruction.  I’m sure she has plans to bury that too once she figures out how to touch it. Hasn’t worked that bit out yet, she settles for growling and yipping at it- scare tactics for now.

I’m not  complaining, more amazed at the amount of raw energy and visceral brain crammed into one little package.  Harnessing and diverting this into the right outlets is the key. There are a lot of good things waiting to be drawn out and used. The mix of BC/terrier tendencies makes it a particularly fun learning experience.  Seeing which traits pop up and when is really interesting. Like split personalities. One second she is stalking Border collie-style, the next going total terrier with the burying/rooting stuff. I’ve got to learn to speak to both sides when working with her… sort of like having two puppies at once, I would imagine. (*Involuntary Shudder* Can you imagine?  I don’t know how people can do that!!)

The important thing to remember is that she is ALL puppy regardless of the mix in there. Puppies are only “naughty” because they don’t know better. Patience and positive reinforcement are the words of the day and will get me farther than anything else now.

But it also helps to share!! So here is an ‘outtake’ video of sorts. Conglomeration of naughtiness.  Love it, since someday it will translate to an awesome Aframe or something! (I hope!!!)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth)

I saw that song pop up on my iPhone the other day and couldn't figure out why a feeling of doom filled my tummy. 

Oh yeah, I know now.

Allergy season.

Thus begins my love/hate relationship with spring.

Dear Flowers: I hate you. Stay away from me. 
But what I don't get- it SNOWED yesterday. SNOW still covers all. How is this possible? I thought everything was still frozen. Where could the pollen be coming from? Iowa? Is it Iowa? So help me, Iowa, if you are sending pollen up here I am going to be so mad at you. 

Sigh. 

Preparing to lose all functionality due to a mass dose of prescription and OTC allergy drugs in 

5...
4...
3...
2...
1...

ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Course Map Wench:

NOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!!!!

As if your ominous last updated post that appeared on my Blog Roll this morning wasn't bad enough, you also took down your site completely?!?!


What did they DO to you? Where did you GO? Why did you go there? 

So many unanswered questions. 

Well, maybe you left the internet in an under appreciated flurry.  Perhaps one too many judges came after you about posting courses or commentary (though I never saw any?) or maybe the throngs of site visitors became too demanding. Maybe it just took too much time away from training and trialing your dogs. The world may never know. But because I never said so, and maybe should have taken the time, you were my favorite go-to place for USDAA course maps. You had quite the catalog. Before every show with an unknown judge we would visit your blog to look up course maps to practice and prepare. I owe you many qualifiers. 

I wish there were an emoticon sad enough to explain the depths of my sorrow here. 

Who among us can take your place? 

Ugh, not me. I'm way too lazy and would fall apart under the pressure. I can't blame you for quitting. 

Here is one I like well enough. They have all the major organizations though are still working on matching the former's extensive listings. 


I think it relies on everyone to pitch in though, so don't be as lazy as me- post your course maps! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

“So… what IS it?”

I will really need to get used to this question for the time being.  Having a Fraken-Puppy Monster does lend to some queries when people meet her, and boy, did she meet a lot of people over the last week.


This past weekend Crack Puppy laid siege to the world of AKC agility. All who met her trembled in fear and recoiled in horror.  Pitchforks and fire-y torches ensued.

Nah!  But that would make a good story!

Reality was much less interesting but probably better for building those socialization skills than being run out of the building would have been.  The club hosting the show was awesome and made room for all the ‘six month old puppies’ coming in for exposure, among them my Franken-Pup.  Puppy made lots of friends and enrolled most of them into the Bite of the Week Club- five puncture wounds and the last one is on the house.  (We DID get lots of helpful advice on that little issue, now that people believe me about the Velociraptor-like nature. THANKS! She’s getting better already actually.)  She got to play with tons of nice dogs too, work on some foundation in a new place with LOTS of distraction and just hang out in the show environment. I was blown away by how settled she was; clearly she is made for the agility world. She chilled in her crate without a single hint of a complaint and I couldn’t faze her if I tried. To her joy, she got a bunch of new toys too. She even stole... er, I mean, picked out a teeny ducky squeaky all on her own from the vendor.  

Even the most die-hard breed enthusiasts gave her a warm welcome.  There were quite a few surprised blinks and “Ohs!” when they heard what she is (it was really funny, clearly they expected a Jack or something)- I’m not sure the term “sport mix” has infiltrated every circle yet and the idea of such a blend hasn’t even occurred yet in the imaginations of some.  But they know now! There was a general assent that it could be awesome. MN is so nice and progressive. Like San Francisco with better cheese.
***
Of course, the actual point in my being there was to run The Dog (who is feeling remarkably crabby about this second billing here).  As you may recall, I was completely unsure as to what version of Dog I would have.  Turned out to be a bit of everything!

On Saturday, she had probably one of her nicest Standard runs ever- pity about the weave pole entry though! (Once again, hate winter. Cannot train entries and she is starting to miss with regularity now! GA!!) Even with a refusal/restart she had a fantastic time. I can only predict what could have been without that refusal, but since it was already one of the fastest in the class… Oh well!  I will take the good feeling over the Q any day. She had so much fun and worked so well with me it almost made me a bit teary.  Then she ran JWW just as happily (though perhaps without quite the control) and qualified in 4th even with a trip to China (or three), so a nice day.

Sunday we started with JWW and I expected her to be a bit calmer (not a morning dog, especially when it comes to JWW). HA! HAHAHAHAHAHH! She took some of the puppies’ crack I guess. A spectacular off course over a jump instead of going in the tunnel.  I had to laugh as she trotted around the backside of the tunnel- all I saw was her ears twitching in annoyance that I didn’t appreciate her unique course design. She begrudgingly got in the tunnel and on we went.  Fine after that and good spirits, until she crashed the last jump. I was surprised and made a small gasp. Big Mistake, Leader.  That plus the break in the run earlier turned The Dog into Atlas, with the weight of the run on her shoulders.  We played after and had some rewarding fun on the practice jump, but it was not enough for the self-flagellating dog. Sigh. She ran in Standard with 100% care but about 1% zest. That is about as zesty as white bread.  Which means of course her contacts were ALL sticky (even the Aframe), she did an abused dog auto-drop on the table, and she ran like Velcro through most of it.  She qualified- she made DARN sure that she would be perfect- but I don’t like the trade off.

Oh well. What can you do? She’s sensitive, but she will get over it, more quickly than me, I suspect. Cheese bites and getting to play with coveted widdle baby toys go a long way to restoring confidence, so we went home and played on a jump, rewarding tight turns and did some happy fun tables too.  

Puppy got to do some training too and made a movie. MOST people have already seen it, but the FB protesters (ahem, MOM) can watch it here.

We also took some great pictures of her at her first show.  Since I can’t get anything of her that isn’t blurry (unless she is sleeping) it was necessary to get someone with a good, non-cell phone camera to document the day. I will share those as soon as I can get them edited.  Enjoy the somewhat fuzzy fun for now.  


"Come out of here? But I WANT to sleep in the dog toy bag!"
She was dreaming of nursing or chomping. Wonder which??
Super Head Tilt Pose with new JOLLY BALL!
Isolated moment of sweetness. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dog Discovers Dynamite

It’s not what you think. No dogs were blown up in the making of this post.

The Dog has acknowledged puppy.  She finally admitted she existed, and it wasn’t just an excuse to bite her, either!  

Last night at bedtime the puppy got the insane zoomies. (Naturally, everyone is exhausted and ready to sleep but of course she has stockpile of energy. Curse you again, crack!)  She made a Frisbee stuffy toy her accomplice and together they went on a tirade around the house.  After performing several fly-bys on The Dog, The Dog finally took the bait and joined the spree.  Little known fact: The Dog’s favorite ‘game’ to play with others is ‘Chase the Dog with the Toy.’  She doesn’t want the toy, but boy does she want to race around after the dog.  And so it went, for about 30 minutes the puppy played keep away with The Dog to the mutual joy of both. Here is proof that the interaction actually took place:


video



So happy.
***
In other news, we’ve commenced with Operation Saturation (sounds kinda…gross…) which entails exposing puppy to everything on the planet. We launched a World Tour of sorts Wednesday to start hitting all the popular joints and “the regulars” there.

First, she got to come in to work for a few hours and chew on my coworkers. (In reality, she was very well-behaved for the most part, giving many tail wags and kisses. And at least she didn’t bite any of presidents. She did however attack anyone wearing earrings, wedding rings and bracelets. Girl has expensive tastes.)

Then we went to our ring rental time and she got to meet my mom finally and a few other friends, none of whom did she chomp on. She met White Dog, who believes puppies should be neither seen nor heard, and Black Dog, who gave her only the slightest glance which is all we were looking for at this point. She also got to meet a dog that actually liked her! Yay!  We did some recalls with her on the Smurf Turf and let her step over poles, sit on the table and explore.  The Dog let her chase her some while she fetched her toy.  Puppy is uncoordinated obviously and looked pretty drunken but had fun running as fast as her little legs could go. Which, all things considered, was pretty fast! She had to use The Dog as her drag chute though.

We also went to PetCo for a lifetime supply of rawhides (a.k.a. the only thing that will keep her quiet when we need to do THE REGIME) and she charmed the staff there into many free fancy cookies.  She picked out a bone for The Dog too which was pretty nice of her.
She slept well that night…

The tour continued with a trip to the vet here for the first time.  Direct quote from the vet: “DEAR GOD her heart is strong.” (Probably a good sign. The crack isn’t causing any damage.) She liked the vet as much as anywhere else, so she’s a bit weird like that. Also found out she is a whopping 6ish pounds.

Last (for now) she came with us to our class that we teach.  She passed the most important test of being fairly quiet in her crate while we taught.  She also played with a puppy, did recalls there too, practiced laying down and focusing on us with people coming in and out. Pretty good for an “ooo, shiny!” baby.  Puppy then proceeded to meet 10,000 people who have claimed her for a future flyball height dog. We will see!

Next up, the show this weekend. Hopefully she can behave and be quiet in her crate there too. She certainly hates being in there when The Dog and I are having fun elsewhere and I won’t have the option of shutting her in a quiet room. I may need to find some volunteer puppy holders. I think I will have a sign-up sheet next to the massage area.
***
The Dog gets the last word, since she is that awesome. She did her first cik/cap style turns in sequence last night. It actually worked!  I’m completely sold on this idea.  She also had rock star Aframe contacts even in some of the situations she has been failing lately.  She is such a good girl. (Nothing like a wild untamed baby to give you new appreciation for your well-mannered trained dogs.) 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Raising the Bar: Skill Acquisition and Development

I have to remember that life exists outside of the new puppy fog. The Project is still the main focus here, and what is it all about? Improvement! Development! Learning! First we better ourselves. Then we can play with the puppy.

A few fellow internet writers (sorry, but the word blogger makes my skin crawl…so does moist and purse. Icky!) were recently passing around a great NY Times article on memory. (Click HERE for the link.)  If you’re lazy, in short a regular Joe decided to train himself for the world of speed memory competitions and in one year of hard work went from event spectator to ultimate champion in the task of memorizing an entire deck of cards.  The whole concept of training your memory was interesting enough, but the part that I found fascinating was his discussion of new skill acquisition and a thing called the ‘O.K. Plateau.’ It was incredibly relevant to my cause within the Project and may be as relevant to yours, so I thought I would share.
***
At an early point in his training, after showing nothing but improvement, he hit a wall. Despite diligent and disciplined practice he could not move beyond his current best times. His coach recommended looking into research on speed typing, where he found that in nearly every case, people went from concentrated ‘hunt and peck’ style to fluid, effortless typing. At this point the process seemed unconscious and in fact, the skill progression had stopped and truly become automatic.  As the idea of ‘practice makes perfect’ has been drilled into our minds, the concept that skill progression halted despite hours spent typing each day is a bit boggling. It is  due to the O.K. Plateau.

Scientists studying this broke the learning process down into three phases- cognitive (where we are focused on the new skill and learning to perform more efficiently), the associative phase (less concentration, fewer errors and more proficiency) and the autonomous phase where we have achieved the level we need to be at and can perform by rote. The third phase is the O.K. Plateau. Many researchers used to think that you could not improve your skill beyond this point- that you were as good as you could possibly be (scientifically, the ‘upper bounds of innate ability’).  

However- not so.  You set your own acceptable level of performance, it is not pre-set. I am as good as I need to be at typing, so I operate at the level. But I could be better. (And here is where this is actually applicable to agility, folks!)

The scientists who studied the plateau also found that top achievers in ANYTHING usually follow the same pattern, which starts by developing strategies for staying out of the third phase such as focusing on technique, being goal-oriented and getting immediate feedback on their performance.  The example they used was an amateur vs. professional musician; an amateur will practice a whole song, but the professional will work exercises and the hardest parts of the pieces.  The amateur will work on what they have mastered- the comfortable parts. The professional will work on the parts they have difficulty with.  The idea is not just to practice, but to always push yourself past that wall of your own limitations- go faster, make it harder, make it different. You have to pay the most attention to how and why you fail. To do this, you must let yourself fail.  When a breakdown occurs, you must take the time to study what obstacle prevented your success and make note. The largest difference between the best and second best was that the best treated the whole experience like an experiment, with a hypothesis, tests and data tracking. Analyzing the process was key.

To bring it fully back to our world (though you can apply this to any skill needing improvement), you can see many handlers who live on the plateau, whether by choice (Which is fine. I respect that a clean run is more than enough for some.), or without knowing it. I suspect many do so without knowing it, based on the comments I hear.  MANY people seem to live against their own personal walls. So here is some advice, if you want to move on:

Set goals. Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely).

Work on technique. It is one thing to run your dog around the course and “pass” but completely another to fine-tune the intricate handling maneuvers.  Drill, drill, drill.

Allow failure. Failure is where you learn. Don’t just drill the comfortable parts. Pick what you have the most trouble with and learn to make it work.

Study failure.  When it didn’t work- why? Track your progress. But remember, the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting different result.

TAKE VIDEO. You can’t always rely on another person’s opinion of your run. And you certainly are in no position to analyze while you are running and practicing (yes, video practice too!). Video is invaluable and can show you what you didn’t even know was happening.  Plus, it’s another great way to track progress.
***
There lies my intelligent thought for the day. Now I am sleepy. So let’s end with a quote:

“There are no limits. There are plateaus, and you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.”-Bruce Lee 

While I don’t love the part about being killed, I do love the relevancy. Go Dog likes Going Beyond.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Goooooaaaaaal?

So I have this goal for The Dog of being in the Top Ten someday.

Let me start by saying I know that this totally does not count as “Goal: Achieved” by any means, but it still gives me a teeny thrill to see The Dog (however temporarily) in the Top Ten in USDAA in not one, but TWO classes.  

Ta-daaa! Gamblers:



And Snookers (tied for tenth- it counts!):


(Totally crap pictures, but take my word for it- she's there!)

Yes, it is still very early in the year.

So early in fact that it isn’t much more than incidental.

But it wasn’t incidental. And if we can have a good start to the year, why not a good finish? We’ve even gotten several more points since the ‘most recent update’ date.  It could happen.

If anything, it is a little boost to help get us to the final point, and who doesn’t need a boost now and then?  I will take it and run with it.
***
Speaking of taking things and running with them, puppy is now fully naughty. As promised, she is stealing things and running away faster than a greased pig. Its time for baby’s first Hannibal Lector getup (harness!).  I also get the suspicion that her mom was not a Border Collie as I was told, but is in fact, somehow, a Velociraptor.  She is very…um… chompy. And zoomy. And ingenious. Just like a Velociraptor.  All I see when I watch her is the scene from Jurassic Park where the T-rex comes in at the end and the Velociraptors all try and take him on.  That is pretty much what she looks like!

Dynamite, smiling for the camera. 
But, she isn’t totally unruly. She can ‘sit’ on command now and will ‘get in jail’ and ‘go potty’ readily. Also she knows her name and LOVES it. She will come flying at you when you call for her and will usually respond to a casual ‘come’ too.  Clever girl.  Excellent problem solver. (Again, like the Velociraptor).  The only undesirable behavior right now is the chomping.  If anyone has any ideas on getting her to stop the biting? Let me know.  Normal tactics are not working.  When I said I hoped for her to think of me as the greatest fun toy ever, I did not quite mean in this fashion.  Gotta love her spirit though! 

As for The Dog, she deserves an update too (must treat dogs equally! No favoritism!). Her ‘turns’ training is going very well. I will try to get video at some point.  She graduated from cones to jump standards (posts) and is really starting to like the idea. She was digging in for the turns and has picked up which is which even with speed and options.  The turns themselves are killer- very tight. We are going to progress very slowly from here though as I don’t want her to lose the idea and revert to extended jumping.

We have a(n AKC) show this weekend and may actually be prepared (shocking!) We’ve gotten in lots of work since the last show and I have practice tonight and tomorrow too.  I’m wondering how she will do though with all the recent stress. My guess is that she will be angelic, but as I have said before… The Dog has this funny way of surprising me…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Crack Cocaine is Bad for Puppies.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement: 

Puppies and crack do not mix. If you feel your puppy may be on crack, seek medical attention- for yourself, because you most likely have puncture holes and other signs of abuse which require treatment. You also may need to find a qualified handyman to fix the damage no doubt caused to your home and other worldly goods by your crack-infused puppy.  Don't bother trying to learn where the crack came from as addicts are very evasive; it is unlikely you will ever get a straight answer. And the puppy probably ate the evidence anyways. Besides, once the crack reaches their brain it is too late. 

You've got a crack puppy. All you can do is pray.

So yeah, puppy came out of her shell. And with that brought quite the onslaught of terror. 

I mean that in a good way. 

She started out not too interested in toys. Now everything is a toy. The Dog's tail is a spectacular toy.  So is my hair. And socks. Who cares if they still have feet in them? 

Observe- Crack Baby:

video

We gave up trying to stop her and made her a sock toy (Leader = enabler?). Which she loves. Along with all the other toys. I have a video of her manically bounding from toy to toy squealing like a stuck pig but thought that was overkill. We already know she is on crack, I don't suppose I have to impress upon you that point any further. 

MY TOYS. Preparing to procure another in 3, 2, 1...
Crack puppies can appear innocent at times. However, this typically just means they are carefully plotting their next big score. 
Yup... just hanging out being cute...

Fooled you! My toy now too! 
Luckily, crack puppies are similar to meth puppies in that they crash pretty hard when the juice burns off. 
Dreaming of her next fix, I am sure.
The Dog is a fine outstanding citizen who would never do drugs. She would however facilitate the sale of one particular crack puppy on the black market. 
IDEA! What's the number for the sex traffickers in Sweden? 
I'm certainly glad she has made herself at home. 

But did she have to make our home a crack den?