Monday, October 29, 2012

A Few Good Dogs

Yes, plural. As in, The Dog wasn't the only hard working teamie this weekend at USDAA. We now can count The Pup among the few and the proud!!
I'm so (I repeat, SO) happy with The Pup. I ran her in just a few classes Sunday and she showed up to both!! Not naughty ADHD Pup who chases fuzzies. And visits. And runs away at the end of the run. No, it was my good fast girl. Who knows things and has a brain between her most giant alien ears. We finally saw a glimpse of her future, and boy. Shiny.
We followed Jen's advice. The hard bit about No Free Love. Only The Leader may bestow love and pets and eye contact. Essentially, all her friends largely were made to ignore her. She lived out in the car alone and only got to come in to play with me. We tried a new warm-up routine- sat and played ball before her turn, no arguing at all about paying attention to me. Much less stressful going in, I think. And those were only the beginning of the changes.
She was so much better dealing with the pressure and distractions. She seemed to acknowledge the people in the rings but had no pull to them. She could have left the ring to molest the crowd and steal a toy, but instead came easily to jump up after. Happy to be caught and get her rewards in due course.
The Pup fell asleep on my beer. Cute yet disturbing. 
As for the pressure, she broke a bit early on the first stay (on eye contact). She missed a jump towards the end of Jumpers and I ran her back, which wilted her slightly. She checked out a fuzzy right after but it was just a quick sniff where before the pressure of that redo would have put her to the point of all out fuzzy hunting and Pup-style validation seeking. She dealt with being 'wrong' much better than she ever has before.
The rest is just gravy. She ran FAST in jumpers before the missed jump. Like, hee-haw. Best extension yet in a show.

Until Standard, that is. What a great run. She held all the stays: start line, table, teeter. She ran her A and DW really well and stuck her weaves. Everything else in between was awesome too! She drove ahead which she hadn't seemed to feel like she could do before, and my was that drive in a nice gear.

AND we got another measure for 16"- one more to go before 3! Ga!
Lest we forget, my fluffy Dog. I figured something out. Why her brain broke. Or my brain. Whatever. Looking at this from the mental management standpoint, we were running in full Competitive mode with zero training of new things. Maintaining the machine through Cynosport. The machine had to be turned off during Recovery. Then our machine needed a reboot, so back to our foundations we went for Preparative measures.  Learning new things, modifying old. Our devices just haven’t been syncing yet with these developments, and in that case she reverts to thinking over doing.

I hadn’t realized this until most of the way through day two of our three day show.  I worried over the reasons for her somewhat hesitant runs early on- sad? Hurt? Issue with the facility? But then I had the lightbulb moment and I got smart and got clearer, and she turned around a lot. I'm not perfect. We had a meltdown in Steeple Rnd 2 even after I figured things out, but otherwise an awesome end to the weekend, each run better and better. Where we started with communication errors and carefulness, we ended on mind reading, good team work, and a fast happy Dog. It was very interesting.

Despite the weird that crept in, we still had a successful weekend on paper. (Although she ABSOLUTELY did NOT want to do her good 2o2o teeter. I asked her to the first run and she was SO SAD.  After that I didn’t ask for it and she offered a controlled-no boinking- 4 on the rest of the weekend.  I think I need to find a fun match to do some test runs before we pull that out again.)  We have our Steeple and Team Qs for Tennessee, we got TWO jumpers Qs (just two more to go before Gold ADCH!) and placements in all of our qualifying classes. She blazed through GP (one bar….GA!) so feeling good about future byes happening.   Overall actually, her standard type classes were really, really good. It was a weekend where I loved having running contacts. Sunday’s standard run was such a RUSH.  At the end both The Dog and I were like…heck yeah! If we were dudes we would have punched each other. That run is the perfect example of why I will not give them up, even if turns with her make me insane and sometimes it means we don’t qualify. 
No video. I agree, how lame. I so wish I’d recorded both girls’ standard runs yesterday.  But I have bruises all over from The Pup being caught and The Dog mauling me with joy afterwards, so that will serve as a tiny (painful) reminder for some time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nonpartisan Post

Sometimes I’m surprised at how hard it can be to find time to jot down my thoughts. I didn’t think I had that many? But I guess life has been pretty demanding. So that, plus a Leader living in her head equals not a ton of production and output for the past few months.  I thought though that I might try and shake a few things out to make room for what’s coming up. 
Pensive Pup lives in her head too.
It’s been some forced rest since the Nationals. The Dog showed me immediately after that she needed a break.  She pretty much mentally collapsed as soon as we got home; all agility knowledge fell out of her brain and she reverted to freezing and questioning.  We thought maybe it was all a bit too much, holding herself together so well for so many days in Colorado and in the time leading up, but there was likely also ME to blame: I needed a break too.  She is smart. She picks up on these things. So we broke so that we wouldn't end up all broken.

We are showing this weekend though.  Back at it, and then back off it for another month, taking it nice and easy through the rest of the year.  While I’d sure love some Jumpers Qs and a few things knocked out for Nationals next year, I think the reconnection with the dogs is a better goal.
Yeah. I said dogs. Plural.  Running The Pup again. We haven’t trained much agility with her. Just lots of time working on life skills. Like, How Not to Be an A$$. What to Bite Instead of The Dog, volumes one and two. Stop Barking and Go Lay Down.  I had noticed how much more focus and control she had back in the day when all we did was Smart Puppy (behavior) Skillz. Moving over to more agility training, less skill work was a bad move (apparently).   She knows equipment. She knows handling.  These are not what she needs to practice.  Hence, return to Smart Puppy.

This discovery was well-timed; Jen Pinder was in town last weekend and had many observations.  She was not fooled by The Pup’s excellent drivey agility and called her out for what she is. That would be, a thief. Among other things.  So having realized what she needed, I got a lot of ideas on how to get her there.  No telling that anything will have rubbed off in time for the weekend, but at least she is slightly easier to deal with in general.  Someday she will have patience. And coping skills under pressure. And the ability to drive and think at the same time. Surely?

As a note, I really liked Jen. The seminars focused a lot on contacts and I think it was the right move given her talents there. She had some fantastic observations, helpful ideas, and process guidance that was so in depth. Contact foundation to the extreme.  I audited most of it and came away filled with tips on training and mechanics and…everything.  There is a real science to it that I hadn’t realized.  I’ve been a bit, well, whatever, as long as you have criteria that you and your dog get that you maintain, it works. But the details of the position itself really matter for whether or not it will hold up over time.  There is really too much to say, but I think I will be a better teacher going forward and will be able to do things with my own dogs in an optimal way.

I will say though, I had a lot of Ah-Has! over The Dog’s teeter performance.  At the base is her issue with not liking the reverberation of the plank. And where she was “stopping” trying to hold a 4 on was right in the reverb sweet spot.  Add in letting her lay down on the teeter…  And not having her release forward… Ah-HA!  No wonder she hated the end and boinked off the side.  (Plus, I had let her run it sometimes. Oops.)  So I was at least on the right track a few months ago when I asked her to start doing a 2o2o, but now we have the rest of the formula and- wait for it- she actually is driving her teeter! And waiting!  She is a nerd; I should have known she would take to more criteria.  Now though, let’s see how well the Leader remembers to uphold it. 
After this weekend, a seminar with The Pup, and then like I said- nice and easy for a few months. I want to teach my dogs silly things again, have a life, and probably deal with some things I should have a year ago.

Er, but first I have to finish all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  
Can you believe how long I have been doing this??

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cynosport 2012 Recap-A-Palooza

Hello technology. Sorry to give you the boot the last week or so, but it’s good to spend time apart, you know?

I thought about updating during the nationals, but I opted to be selfish and take the week for me and The Dog. I don’t have the option to just immerse myself in agility so many days that I forget what day it even IS more than this one time a year- so why not?  I imagine others enjoy weeks camping in the mountains or wherever for the same reasons and this way I at least got to sleep indoors, take showers and have Panera coffee every morning.
Oh, what a week.  For all the hemming and hawing about nationals outdoors in Denver this year, the weather was great, the site was lovely, and no dogs were apprehended and arraigned on ten counts of being a pit bull. Sure, some hiccups occurred, but they probably always will. Life happens; it’s just in how you deal.

So that was goal number one this year. Keep calm. Move along. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  Last year I couldn’t shake the bad; couldn’t block out the crazy.  This year my new mental management skills provided a warm fuzzy shield. Bad run? Meh. Crazy? Deflected. Grumpiness? Hola, here is a smile for you.

I imagine others wanted to kill me but hey, so much better for me and The Dog to actually ENJOY the week.  At the very least I wanted to know that I had fun- sadly I don’t think everyone can say that.
Let it be said- I DID have fun.  Me and my rusty fat Dog had a blast.  I went in just plain glad we had the chance to run at all.  I knew we were (both) a bit out of our peak, but I also knew that just weeks before we’d been there and it probably wasn’t completely gone. I believed that all of the work we’d done this year would get us through.  I focused on our best moments of the year and decided that there was no reason we couldn’t do well.  Goal number two was set- individual placement!
We had a lot of chances this year.  We got to run in the team classes and semis, but also the IFCS as well. I figured our odds were good, even given the impressive competition.  The Dog has some tricks up her…well, not sleeves, but you know.   So every run, I went in with that goal in mind. It’s the NATIONALS. If you aren’t going to pull the tricks out now, then when?
Overall, The Dog was amazing. She had a good Gamblers run, and a GREAT Snookers run.  That was the only team class that had me scared- I had walked a lame plan and then realized there was time to be more interesting. So I went back and forth over three different (unwalked!) options all morning, finally settling on one as I went to get her out to run. I knew it was iffy, but in the end we pulled it off with time to spare.  That run ended up 13th (one out of placement); so pleased with that contribution!

Then we had Team Jumpers, AKA the course that SURELY was meant to be the IFCS Jumpers course??? Nope, sorry! Apparently the judge from Asia wanted to um, challenge us. That was absolutely the most fun course.  So much fun to watch too!  The Dog aced it, and ended up with the 12th best time, just 1/100th from placement (at this point goal number two was just taunting me!!) behind a three way tie for 11th.

Our last team class was Standard and she nailed it. I can’t see anything I would change about that run. And it was good enough for 6th place!  The score table told me there were 290 22” dogs running in team. Having my little Dog in the very top for multiple runs is so HAPPY MAKING!!!
Our group goal (and goal number three for me) was to make the dang relay finals.  Since our teammates (Black Dog and BFAM!) were amazing, we finally did!  We had a scary but not TOO scary relay run and ended up 8th overall out of 170 championship teams. My secret goal was Top Ten (to get the good loot!) so I was beyond happy.

As far as our semi and IFCS performances: She ran clean in IFCS Jumpers but was unfortunately pretty sloppy on her contacts on the Agility run so no finals there. Her Agility run though was, I think, her best of the weekend otherwise and maybe my favorite run. She was so frickin’ SMART! That was not an easy course and there were a lot of Es, but she made it so smooth and put up an awesome time.

Her one bar of the weekend happened in the Steeplechase semi.  It was also the one run she looked a little hesitant.  I’m beyond happy that we recovered from that run to go on to some of the best she has had!  

Grand Prix semi: semi-filled with regret. The DW to weaves combo was the EXACT Achilles heel of our RDW training. We have worked this so much, but it still plagues us.  I have to have perfect timing and I didn’t- pulled her off the side, slipped and she ran into me. This greatly offended her so it took a bit to get back on track, but then she had an awesome end.  Per my camera timer, even being liberal, it would have been fast enough otherwise so… NEXT YEAR!
So, goals accomplished.  Next year we up the ante. I see what I have, and it’s really enough. She may not be able to win the finals, but there is no doubt she could be in them.  I have some homework to get us there (and it mostly centers on DOG WALK TURNS!) but I am thrilled with how far she has come in a year.  Guess what? I have a teammate!  This is what I’ve always hoped for with The Dog! The rest is just gravy.  
Video, of course (the song is sort of lame- YouTube made me change it from the awesome thing I had which was from public domain, so, huh?): 

And video of The Pup rocking the Lure for the Cure! She thought it was AWESOME until they tried to stop her from busting down the end gate to get the 'squirrel.' Jerks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Playing Catch Up

After a mandatory and unwelcome three week break, I’m happy to report that The Dog is back.  She was most happy to be released from the injured list/bubble wrap and I was most happy to oblige and dust off the agility leash.  We celebrated her return in the best way we know how- a trial.
Hola, unrelated hiking adventure picture for post jazzing-up!
So many sad stories that could have been ours too: No Dog, or Long-term Damaged Dog or Dog Who Could Never Show Again.  I have been fretting over which draw we’d pull from the Outcome Lottery for weeks.  Considering that The Dog has STILL not let go of being bit by a fly several years ago, it seemed a very real possibility that she would not be ready so soon to deal with the dog show world; strange dogs, forward dogs, crate-guarding butthead dogs, all seemed so scary and PTSD-inducing now where before they went largely unnoticed. 

A wall! What we are looking for is the river though!
But, save some wide-eyed looks from her in the early morning on Saturday, she survived this first test.  How lucky we are that she seems no worse for the wear, physically or mentally. Terrible haircut, as I keep lamenting, but for all the trauma I still have my good Dog.  

Well there it is! Er, these coordinates seem off..
It was an uplifting weekend.  It will send me into next week with a lot of good feelings, regardless of how things turn out.  She did a great job.  Besides showing up happy and excited and ready to run (which is really all I was hoping for) I think we lost nothing in those three weeks.   Her jumping was awesome, teeters were better than ever (though not saying much, but she is applying a behavior instead of going WEEEEE!), Aframes were perfection… and just plain old good attention. (Side note of happiness: we got to help Black Dog finish off her Platinum ADCH! With the worst relay run ever! Black Dog rocks!) 

Our only oops/disconnect moments came immediately after the DW in both standard runs.  This was something I did NOT expect. I thought for sure her DWs would be sticky if anything given the courses.  The rings were very small and one course ran into a wall (And in GP, REALLY ran into a wall, so much I elected not to run it- scary!!) and the other had a 180 degree pull.  Surely sticky-inducing?  But no. Fast Dog runs DWs very happily super straight off…and then goes WEEEE! I think I was verrrry slow in my turn cues. I really misjudged her speed, but goodness was glad to see that confidence! 

Maybe try this vertical descent? 
So yes. We feel good. Some homework planned for the week, but much less than I thought we would have to deal with.  Mostly just have this feeling I am going to finally be able to enjoy a trip to Cyno.  

We are set with byes, so no round 1 stress. We get to play in the extra classes so won’t be as bored. I took a look at the schedule and based on the running order, everything is pretty ideal. And bonus, I sure like Colorado. It’s just all shaping up to be a fun time I think.  And who knows, maybe more doors opening?  I have to think that at some point in time, it will be ‘our time;’ so why not now? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.


Well that pretty much sums up my contribution to DABAD. See ya!

But basically, yeah. It takes a special person to be a good teacher. Anyone could run a group of people and dogs through sequences and spout some feedback once a week. Being a good instructor is more than the imparting of helpful knowledge... facts... information. Yes, instruction of this kind matters.  But if you aren't leaving these sessions with more than homework, something may be missing.

Does your teacher inspire you? Hopefully, you've connected with someone that you admire, for whatever reasons. Whether it's their talent and ambition, or simply that they really seem to like their dogs, your teacher should have some qualities that you aspire to achieve for yourself that you can't otherwise achieve on your own. If they've nothing to inspire you, how can they motivate you? How can you change?

Does failure present a challenge, or a conclusion? Failure is an opportunity. It is not a closed door, it is not the end. A good teacher accepts failure as such. Problems are for solving. The best teachers look forward to the toughest of problems with excitement. If a teacher has no interest in learning, how can they expect their student to?

Do you feel as though they truly want to help you along further than even they have been? A teacher will want to see you better. Not just better than the old you; better than themselves. The best. A testament to any good teacher is that they want the next generation to go beyond the first. Lead the way, open the door, and watch their student move forward alone. Celebrate your success with more joy than their own. If your teacher cannot lift you in this way, then they are only holding you down.

What are their reasons for teaching? Einstein said "Love is a better teacher than duty." He's right.
Even if it means I travel, even if it means I only work with my teacher a few times a year, what I need is understanding. And as an instructor, I will continue to TEACH, not do, every single week.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Weekends Off Are Bad for Your Health

Let it be written that I tried a weekend off, thinking after the last show that surely non-stop agility weekends could not possibly be healthy.

CLEARLY wrong.  There are FAR WORSE THINGS. 
I’m assuming at this point most everyone knows what I’m referring to.  If not, well, not sure you want the nightmares so maybe come back and visit another day.

My poor little bird. I keep thinking about it, and what could have been different: how it could have been worse, how could it have been better. These thoughts are unnecessary…torturous…dangerous. Sigh.  Can’t stop them from coming though.

We all remain shell-shocked.  I take the girls for a walk and wince at the site of other dogs with their owners.  Do these people, too, believe their dog is incapable of being a threat? How tight is their grip, how well staked is their line?  I see my once solid, confident, appropriate Dog try to hide from them in doorways.   I am so upset at the site of unattended dogs that I (the world’s most passive of passive aggressives) complain to property management and demand action.   I am so upset that even taking that step, I don’t think we will go for walks here anymore.

I’m sure she will be ok. Only a few weeks and I will have my girl back where in another reality maybe I wouldn’t.  I am buoyed by this. I am satisfied that the property management takes these things seriously and has already formed a plan. I am beyond thankful that my family was there in that moment and that my parents were champions for The Dog when my hands were otherwise occupied.  Grateful too that this meant my Pup is safe and whole.  But it doesn’t stop the heartbreak or the fear, can’t erase what is done and I don’t know what will.  Time makes things like this burn less brightly; fur grows back… but the marks will be there, just under the surface.  I can’t tell yet what this will mean for all of us.

But for now, looking forward, I will try to focus on being proactive and thankful and I am hoping that will move us through the shock and past those unnecessary thoughts.
Feelin' much better without the drain. Soooo.... ball? 
Mega holes. Ear on right. 
In case anyone would like a drain close-up.
Blackmail photo. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why the Silver Medalist Cries and Other Things I Learned Last Week.

Our epic travels are done; a brave experiment was conducted as to whether or not traveling for two back-to-back Regionals was going to be a GOOD idea or a BAD idea.

Well, as most of our adventures seem to go, it turned out that wasn’t so much about the outcome as it was about the journey and what we learned along the way.   
Last year, you may recall, the NC Regional was the site of a Major Crisis of Confidence. It was one of those weekends that made me seriously reconsider well, everything.  My handling, my attitude, The Dog’s attitude, our combined mental fortitude, our knowledge, skills, abilities, etc etc… it was all center stage suddenly and not making the cut.  

It was pretty sad-making.

But as sad as I was, when the time came that I chose to continue or not, I picked continue.  I was not immediately rewarded. The Nationals dealt another blow shortly thereafter.  (I know this comes over as very dramatic- I realize none of this is life or death and in the end that the joy is where I make it. But- and I know I’m not alone- there IS a lot of joy in attainment and if you aren’t emotionally invested to some degree, then I’d ask you- why bother?)
After the Nationals, it became clear that we needed Change. There was no way I’d reach the level of Attainment with The Dog that I wanted without it. 
Enter: Daisy Peel, mental management and the best piece of throwaway advice I’ve ever received.
One changed the way I approached the course, one the way I ran the course and the other the way I felt about the course.  The end result was that, at least sometimes, and with growing frequency, we could run to our potential. And when it mattered!
Coming full circle then, after a year of what I would call True Investment, we land back at the NC Regional.  I had hoped there would be some amount of redemption- that I would be able to say THERE. Hard work pays off. See how different?  Truthfully, it was different. But the end result on paper? The same.  No byes. Still a sad car ride home, feeling very upset.  And then angry with myself for feeling very upset because I’d set a goal of getting through the weekend with a happy dog who could hold her own against some good competition and we had achieved that goal.  SHE did great. We had no melting or bad runs with Es and actually had some frickin’ fantastic moments with just some plain, old fashioned Bad Luck in the runs that really mattered.  But I could not stop thinking “a whole year later and I’m still sad in the car???” Silent Screaming and all that. 
So, while I initially thought the Russian gymnasts were being dramatic, crying over their silver medals, I sort of get it.  Because you HAVE to invest big if you’re going to even get to the Olympics.  Big investments = big disappointments if you can’t make it the most amazing performance of your life when you need it to be.   I decided that it was okay for the silver medalists to cry.   But then what?
Now again, I was at somewhat of a crossroads. After doing literally everything I thought possible to set myself up for a great weekend, and not (on paper) having the outcome I’d expected, I could likely look to the second Regional as DOOOOOOM…
But luckily, the night I arrived back home, I read “Freedom Flight,” a story of sorts that was a thinly veiled mental management guide.   The story was weak but the message was oh so strong. And appropriate.  At the heart of this book is the reminder that sometimes, it is just not your time…Yet. But if you want it enough, doors open.   Events do fall in line, but not until they are supposed to and until then you get what you need.  The first Regional…not ours.  But not time wasted. I learned exactly what to do to have success the following weekend.  Sure enough, from the moment we arrived, everything fell in line.  Doors falling open. I wasn’t worried about the outcome, because I already knew what it would be. 
Maybe it’s My Time to play the lottery too?
Pup and her Cat
Cat Wuvs Pup!
Whaaaa? I get to spend THREE DAYS WITH MY CAT??
The Very Serious Sheriff of Rm 108
Black Dog! Big Mouth!
More Big Mouth
Wittle Mouth
Posed for pouncing.
Artsy medal pose.
Medal jealousy and photo crashing.

Monday, July 30, 2012


That’s pretty much all the quality conversation I have time for these days.  If you see me, insert above! Please rest assured that though my 'out of office' is on, I’m thinking of you.
I don’t know when things got so runaway busy again. I tried to slow down? Didn’t I? I thought I did? Hm. Maybe The Pup stepped on the “FF” button of my life remote- she has a knack for doing that in reality. Poor remote.  She also has an uncanny ability to hit the combination of buttons that puts on the PIP, SAP, and breaks cable forever. 

Anyways, quick update:

Awesome. Cuteness. Fluffy.  Physically sound (knocking on wood).   Wrapped in bubble wrap for two weeks to remain so. Chicago Regional this week.  Kansas City, MO next week.  Feeling good, not like barfin.

Dogwalks of amazingness.  LOTS of actual training, she may now understand about not bailing off the side early. Shocking. 

Show last weekend= fast smart Dog- Minus her Teeter of Horrors.  Discovered extended spread to be mortal enemy.  Two things then to work this week from within bubble wrap.  Snooker GOLD (8 Q’s from ADCH GOLD! 11 from LAA Silver! WOW!). Start line of Magic continues to be magic.  Very happy with jumping, wrapping, post-turning, and a$$-passing.  Mad Skillz. We gots ‘em. 
We gots a QQ recently too. Drought has seen an end. 
Naughty. However. Will suck it up and run her in Starters Jumpers in a few weeks. Gulp Gulp.  This video may include evidence that she exists still. I forget what's in it. 
Has achieved Mad Crazy Hose Killin’ Bad A$$ status.  Best weekend of her life. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boiling Point

No Channing Tatum, I'm not actually talking about you (though everyone else on the planet is. Enjoy your moment.)

I knew we would pay for that mild winter. KNEW IT. Karma is a record lack of snowfall followed promptly by record heat. As in, there was a moment that MN was the hottest place to be in the country. Barf. So wrong.

The thing is, ugh, I just don't do heat. And humidity. Not together. So this heat wave led to another impromptu break from any and all outdoor training. Annoyance at this status increased with the realization that I actually trained more in the WINTER than this SUMMER so far.
As of Friday last, the boiling point was reached. Tempers as high as the heat. Snapping doggies. Button pushing doggies. Every which one getting all fat. This would be 'crazy-making' for those of you already familiar with sad-making.

And then, for five minutes, it rained.  Not a moment too late. The world is no longer an oven. Now we can train.
Saturday morning we hit the field at 6:30 am.  Taking NO CHANCES with the heat.

Our BIG challenge for that morning was finally trying to work out some agreement with The Dog on exits off the dog walk. After hemming and hawing for ages I finally decided what I want: run over then off. Straight.

Uh, not earth shattering I know, but the alternatives are teaching turn cues or teaching her to interact with the board further down or adjust her stride depending on what I'm doing. So there was a choice to make and what I truly want it for her is to just go straight off. Running. Still not okay to leap. Not okay to cut out early off the side. I'm trying to finally incorporate a "go" too, that will mean it's ok to power off as far as you want, and take what's in your path as the case may be. Mostly for helping her into nothingness.

I really want that she doesn't check in until after the DW. I would like her independence to increase a bit since her responsiveness overall has increased too. This has made her exits more manageable but definitely don't want her trying to respond while ON the obstacle.

So. How to train this?

The issue so far has been that she gets clever fast and predicts what is coming. I don't think I ever want her to get predictive. Go off straight, look for your cue. In my mind. So at the last seminar, when the predictor starting showing up, I received a great suggestion for proofing I had to try.

Hence- Crazy set up with every possible exit! No way Dog knows what's coming next!
That's not a bug, it's the dogwalk!

It actually worked quite well. Reward finishing the board before she moved on commitment-wise. And it gave me great information on when she is taking cues and what she is taking as a cue. General rule seemed to be NO abruptness on my part. The old adage holds true- treat the last board like a jump. If I cue something big during that section, explosions! But I CAN subtly decel and accel. And I CAN get good response when waiting until after she is off to do something big. That felt good.

Our two tricky exits were the abrupt turn away to the tunnel (with that jump there luring with its siren call) and the weave entry. We had to break down the tunnel turn (NO BAILING OFF THE SIDE!) but eventually worked it out. The weave entry wasn't as hard, that was all about well-timed decel coupled with a strong, supportive weave cue. Otherwise, she did really well with sends and pulls. And awesome discrimination!
Then there was The Pup.





Seriously. She gets it. She gets it all. Thou shalt not leap. Thou shalt not ever leave the board early. She will zoom off straight if I ask. She will pull tightly. She will turn away tightly. Or less tightly. Whatevs. Without ever being really taught to, she will adjust her stride to interact with the bottom most section of the board JUST to make sure she never departs prematurely. Like there was a tiny pole at the end for her to wrap around. One time we had to work the abrupt turn away twice, but it was because she turned in instead. Such a good girl.

I must get video. You must see this. It is a tiny miracle  coming from the ADHD baby who gets all this but doesn’t get that there is not a lingering kibble bit under the stove.

You ate it already Pup. IT’S GONE.
Anyways, good training day.  At least there was one.  The Dog went to class last night but she was being full of herself.  I think she is REALLY tired of the downtime lately. One or two training days in three weeks are ok for me and The Pup, but The Dog needs more or she acts like an @$$; at least, as much as any good doggie can.

Solemn promise to The Dog: Fear not. The time-sucking trial is this weekend. After this we will have doggie smart time again.  We will go swimming  instead of answer emails. We will go for walks and not sort scribe sheets. PROMISE.

Just in time. Regionals, just around the bend. Only a few short weeks to garner her favor again and bring Queen Uppity Fluffy Pants back to earth.

And after that maybe, MAYBE, The Pup will re-debut.

I mean, you GOTTA see this dogwalk!

Sorrow is not getting to chew on the NEW bone. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Waning and Waxing

Like the moon, my goals seem to change monthly! Ga!

While it seems to be good to evaluate and re-evaluate goals per my mental management class, I wonder if what I do would be considered THAT or like… giving up.  

Or being flaky. Uncommitted? I don’t want to be those things but I am a bit transient.  I’m famous for very big ideas and little follow through. It’s not like I am not adverse to hard work. But I feel like reality kind of catches up to me.  Oops, out of money.  Ru-roh, you really can’t show every weekend.  And then I get to thinking…eh… is this really what I wanted? And I wane… 

Here is where I’m coming from today.  Last year, The Dog was really doing well in AKC. Minimally showing and we could have gone to the nationals.  So I thought, YEAH! Let’s go to Tulsa! Show a little bit more, and we are THERE!  Granted, I had the 26” venture (another diverted goal) but we are so not there.  QQ wasteland.   EIGHT MONTHS. 

I sat there Saturday and Sunday, really trying to figure out what the heck the deal is.  She and I are gelling. Her contacts are spiffy.  Her jumping has improved greatly since I improved my handling.   I don’t feel nervous, or bored, or like I am doing any of the weird pinchy over/under handling of yore.  I have found a way to approach AKC that allows me to engage in every course. What gives?  

Things that came to mind (this is the waxing part I think)- well, ok, she was slower.  Not too much but could be a factor. And per the ‘cycle of training and trialing’ we are technically in the preparatory phase not competitive. But the big one:  last year I was running much more in survival mode (aka weird pinchy over/under handling).   Watching runs over the weekend, I saw a lot of that.  My reaction was never again. Then I thought beyond that, so what do I value?  I value the best run possible and I do NOT define best by qualifying or winning or fastest. Just quality.  I am learning now how to have quality on demand.  My hope is that with time that will result in things like qualifying and winning and fastest, but for now, a quality run by my standards will do.  Based on that, I’m not sure my values realistically align with that organization.  After a serious THINK, my thought is that I just don’t care enough about qualifying every single run. Which is kind of the point in AKC; they don’t make a lot of room for the wildcard. 

So anyways.  I think I will take a break from AKC and see what we can get together as far as quality on demand.  I’ll move our nationals goal to 2014- see, not giving up! Just giving time to align with reality.
Speaking of preparatory phase- oof-da! Super unglued on Friday.  Two very wild and crazy runs.  One positive was a nice running DW, right off the bat.   Saturday’s only goal was to reconnect, which we did.  Her JWW run was my favorite of the whole weekend, very fast and tight.  Another rocking DW in standard, this time into nothing.   Yesterday the judge hated our contacts and I wildly contest the calls on her teeter and DW (into super nothingness).  I guess that being "in" doesn't count if you don’t have stopped contacts. Hm. I stand by the run though and only frowned upon the dropping of the panel.   Our last run in JWW was fair, one insane off-course call-off hear the end.  She was all of a sudden very excited about a line of jumps, and adorably sheepish when she came back.

So, thanks to all that, some training comes to mind to get to our quality on demand state:  Everyone’s favorite- Jumping grids! Including but not limited to: jumping into me! Bounce into extension! Speed circles with spreads into tunnels!  What fun.  Also, teeter as always and some tough weave entries. I discovered one we really haven’t worked much.   

Insanely elated with her dogwalks and start lines though.  Driving both! Even breaking the start line, little bugger! 

Our one run on video. The contact-hater judge getting her upper arms workout.  I still like it, happy (almost broken) start line, drivey contacts and an @$$ pass at the end for fun.  

And The Pup's weekend of pouting encapsulated in one picture: 

"SCREW YOU! Not sharing, it's all I have in the world!!!"
She was very angry at no fun time. At one point she got all "WTF" over only getting to do the practice jump and escaped into the ring. Luckily they were just course building, but she definitely wanted more action. Maybe I'll show her again someday. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What a Way to Spend 3 Weeks!

Alternate title:

“Why My Dogs Hate Me and Act Like Insane Prison Escapees.”
So I volunteered as trial secretary for my club’s summer AKC show.  I thought it would be good for learning, giving back, and something that capitalizes on my skills.

Ugh. I mean, hooray for volunteering!

It IS a learning experience.  I am learning to decipher cryptology… I mean, handwriting. I think. That is a “b”… right??? Could be a “z” but gosh neither makes any sense in the context.

I am CERTAINLY giving LOTS AND LOTS back to my beloved agility club.  ALL the free time. For free!

It DOES capitalize on my skills of NOT killing others or needing much sleep. 

But I’m ok. I’m still glad to do it (or will be glad to do it in the future when everyone’s information is in the database and I never ever have to do THAT part again…shudder…). 


1.  When someone puts in three weeks of ALL THEIR FREE TIME to put dog/owner information in the database… please at least take three minutes to check the confirmation that asks you to check the confirmation. Like, right away. Not after you’ve received three confirmations.   It is sad-making when you report errors or missing information or want to add random things AFTER the Queen Secretary believes your entry is done because she sent you three confirmations and hadn’t heard about any of those things.  And now has to edit again. And send confirmation number 4.

So many entries, so little time for The Dog
2. Penmanship. Learn it. If not… Fill-able forms are online!  And then- use a printer cartridge that HAS INK.   It is sad-making for the Queen Secretary if she can’t make out the misspelled foreign words that comprise Fluffy’s registered name and then you are angry because the misspelled foreign word is misspelled.

The Pup can't read that writing either...
3.  It is sad-making when we are on closing day at noon and you would like to enter by mail. I don’t like saying no.  Even if I am the Queen Secretary.

I am confident that the NEXT trial everyone will abide by these three simple rules for no sad-making.
And if clear begging doesn’t work, maybe sad pictures of sad doggies that didn’t get to do squat for three weeks will make more of an impression.  I’m not kidding when I say that they hate me or liken them to prison inmates of the escapee variety these days.  

Sad sepia doggies
The Pup has especially suffered. At least The Dog had one day of showing and one seminar day. The Pup had absolutely nothing.  At first she was terrible to deal with; constantly stealing envelopes, trying to eat vouchers...

 and getting barky at the laptop that took up her resting place. 

Stupid laptop has to die sometime...waiting...

But towards the end she just became dejected and depressed.  Sad doggy.  

Super sad!!

Her one joy was being allowed to act as the ‘official shredder’ but even that seems to have lost appeal.

BUT she did FINALLY get to play Tuesday! She was a bit of a prison escapee (meaning, wild animal on the loose) and came away with a sore throat from trying to strangle herself.  Though overwrought most of class she did manage to focus nicely a few times. Her contacts were REALLY GOOD and in fact she has decided that running the dogwalk at warp speed is awesome (even though she runs REALLY FAR OFF).  I am trying a Tug-it with her, which is a revolting toy but seriously genius. She gets food and toys at the same time!  And drive that comes from toys! And attention that comes from food! Hooray.  She even started unsticking from me and sending. Oooooo!  The best part is that I can toss the Tug-it and, while she doesn’t bring it back, she doesn’t run away with it. I’ll take that.  Finally, getting better in a crazy class setting!

Now if she would just stop stealing and running away with our classmates’ toys…
Iz can help!! Please let me help!!
The Dog remains a perfect angel.  She wasn’t happy with all the downtime, but she is a super helpful secretary assistant. If I dropped ANYTHING, she would gently bring it back.  Not run away with it and start eating it, like SOME dogs.  Tuesday we did some contact repair and while the teeter is still poop, her DW has been so pretty.  Really powering straight off and having good interaction with the end of the board.  My favorite part is that she is becoming manageable after the DW, not merely running 50 feet ahead and then checking in.  So much is working between us now!  I am so excited to show tomorrow and apply it.  I’m even looking forward to JWW.  Yes, you heard it, I want to run a jumpers class and will have fun doing it! 

Hm. Maybe I am delirious from all the sleepless nights?

Monday, June 18, 2012

More weekend, please…

I swear, that was the shortest weekend in history. When the alarm went off today I could have sworn it was in error.  Time flies when you are having fun I guess!
Friday night did not include slaving over a draw for the MAC AKC trial. HOORAY. So instead there was wine.  Which may explain where some of that time went…hmmm…

Saturday was an early start, as teleportation has not yet been invented (unless the government is holding out on us??) and we had a trial to get to waaaaaay out in St. Cloud.  Though actually, way less way out than the old site. Only an hour away now, cool! And a pretty nice site. Too bad this one came with a crazy neighbor too (but as far as I know, no police were involved- at least when I was there).

It was HOT but thankfully the rain held off so, win.  We had entered all 4 classes (how often do we get to play all four classes in AKC??) and had fun in all four classes. The Dog was very good except for one naughty start line so we had one naughty dogwalk.  She hasn’t missed in a long time, so ok. It was going to happen sooner or later.  But I really don’t think she wants to go to Tulsa.  All the one-off, teeny tiny weird things preventing the QQ magic have to be coming from somewhere.  What other explanation can there be?? The Dog is Anti-Oklahoma. (That’s where Tulsa is…right?) Hate Crimer.

We’ll see if we get there or not. It’s getting a bit down to the wire unless I want to enter many back-to-back weekends and…ugh. I don’t.  Maybe The Dog is trying to make qualifying more climactic. Er, yeah.
Sunday was an International Handling Day seminar with Tracy Sklenar.   I can’t say I learned anything groundbreaking but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t helpful! It was nice to get a bit of a shot in the arm to run harder.  And once again, I am told that The Dog is a master manipulator and that I shouldn’t bend to her sad-face on things like the start line.  After the battle to get as far as we have I’m not sure how much I will press it, BUT I will continue to ask for more drive in when we are on the course, and I will ask her to take her reward with me (I throw a lot).  That was a fair point to Tracy. 

Aside from that, Tracy helped with some footwork since I was adding unnecessary yardage by not being as precise as I could be.  As I’d hoped, she also helped me pinpoint when to transition into decel mode and out again.  That was my big goal with ‘New Dog’ who pays attention to motion and location cues now.  Also gave me some needed grief over baby-sitting her weave entries too. How many more times must I hear that The Dog is not as bad at finding entries as I think? I guess at least once more.  

The courses she chose were fantastic. Perfect for testing all the little things I was hoping to, including my new course-walking goal of find the true collection point/s (a.k.a. “critical points”) and work out how to be there. I was so happy to be on the right page with what I thought those were! I still have to get better with walking every single option.  On the very first run through, I walked the way that I “knew” would be my path, but OOPS, things happen. I tripped ever so slightly at the second obstacle and could not believe how that escalated! I was exactly opposite of my plan for HALF of the course, so it sure would have been nice to be slightly prepared.  A very good lesson for me.
At the end of the day, I am so, so pleased with what I have right now. The Dog is simply brilliant. I found her to be so…easy at the trial Saturday.  Attentive, predictable, trustworthy.  I hope she thought the same of me!  And Sunday. Such a good girl.   No off-courses. Is that right? I think it is. Even after Tracy said it was time to push harder, and I did.  She got SUPER high on the last course where it was all a blur and she still was right where she was supposed to be.   Some of the lines she found…how? I just thought it, no handling took place, and she was there!  And then, when there was intentional handling and it came together- even better! We can threadle! (Turns out the scary throw back blind wrap was the secret?) And serp! And pull past! She turned the wrong way just once (but yes, it was the right way based on ME), she knocked one bar ALL WEEKEND on an errant rear cross. How is this possible??  Do I really have this now? Ga. I hope so.  I love it.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gain some latitude from your attitude

Rhymes are nice.

How about your attitude?
Something that really hit home this year. Attitude counts.  It matters. And other people’s attitudes matter too. A Bad Attitude at a trial can dampen the atmosphere, and if you are me, it can dampen your spirits as well. 

One rotten egg can really spoil the cake. 

I have no earth-shattering advice for dealing with the competitor with a Bad Attitude.  Best case scenario is avoidance- tent far, far away.  Find those people that you like, or those who are at least like-minded, and put them between you and the Bad Attitude.  Surround yourself with Good Attitude- don’t eat the cake!

And then focus on your own attitude.

The thing about attitude is, it’s catching. Transferable. Communicable. While a Bad Attitude can transmit like a disease, a Good Attitude can make the rounds as well.  If you want an environment of positivity and fun- foster it in yourself first.  

Be helpful. Be the bigger person. Encourage. Say nice things to fellow competitor’s faces…and behind their backs. When someone says they can’t do it, tell them to look for what they can do.  Chip in. Be a sounding board when things go wrong, but only for so long- at some point find away to turn the Pity Bus around. Speak constructively, not destructively.  Patience. Perspective. Laugh. Love your dog. Show that love. 
Be the example.

Lift others up, and you will lift yourself.