Monday, April 30, 2012

Totally Like Me.

Dog show number 2 of 3 in the series is complete. Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to do this again??

But this time around doesn’t seem so horrible. The Dog is holding up well and is looking more and more comfortable at 26”.  She does well in practice so really, at this point all we can do is trial and see what we have and where we are at.

And I think we are in a really good place!
Going into the weekend, I was working off of goals from last weekend- control “self-talk” being the main one. For me, this means thinking in positives and if things should go downhill, not letting negative thoughts cause a traffic jam in my head.  I can’t say I have the easiest time letting go of bad runs, especially if they pile up. This of course leads to MORE bad runs if you don’t let them go. Hence the traffic jams. So I wanted to work on just letting the less desirable flow through. Learn my little lesson and move it on.   I decided it was totally like me to be that way.

And I totally was!
While we didn’t have any ‘bad runs’ we left Saturday with lessons learned but otherwise empty handed. This is the sort of thing that I would usually think about after a day like that, while driving home, maybe even when trying to fall asleep- why did I do that- of COURSE she would knock that bar, dumbdumbdumb, etc but because it’s like me now to just let it go, we came back Sunday and I had a totally clear head. Yup, mistakes happened but goodness! I didn’t have to relive them again. We all know how crazy-making Groundhog’s Day was. Important life lesson somewhere in that movie.
The result of moving on?

Fantastic Dog! Qs happening! Good team work on all sides!

Amazing what you can do when you start dropping some baggage.

Things that I am REALLY happy with, therefore allowing to make a home in my brain:

Driving her dogwalk! Yay! Here is a video-

Yes, criteria was not exactly met on the first. BUT this is a situation where she would have crept before. Now, from a standstill, she works her butt off to get up to speed and run ahead. (And hey, he didn’t call it so if you are going to miss, miss it FAST. Hehe!)   All of the other dogwalks for the weekend were really good. Like, REALLY good.

Jumping! And my handling of her when jumping!  No video, but she had an AMAZING Jumpers run. Clean, fast, perfect.  I even found the ‘secret’ to rear crosses- cue her for them from ahead. Sounds weird but people do it all the time.  She keeps her bars up when I stick downstream of her because she has better information then.  AND I remembered to trust the doggy. She is responsive. SHE IS.  No need to talk to her (or lose my head and scream at her) when jumping.

Our front crosses just keep getting better and better. She is picking up my collection cue now too- like, for real! Collecting! Once again, I have Daisy to thank for this little gem. And probably Tracy too.  It all mushed together for me finally though.

And can I just say again that she is responsive?  I am so, so proud of this. Remember when she wasn’t a few months ago? And went to China? And didn’t know how to pull past anything because she was so obstacle focused? ALL GONE! She feels so different.  She follows me! Sunday’s Standard course was very trappy and by golly (heck YES I said by golly!) she just went right where I did.
STILL looking for a solution to start lines. This feels like the last missing link to complete and total awesomeness.  I’m hoping that the change of venue next weekend will provide feedback either way. She was MUCH zippier during our last out of town show.
Speaking of a change in venue- super excited for next weekend! WTTO! FEO fun time for us! Cheering on the competitors (ESPECIALLY BROTHER DOG)! Face melting courses!! It’s gonna be awesome.
Oh, and in the spirit of NOT throwing anything at your dog for the first time in a show…

Homemade viaduct jump!! Haha, heavy emphasis on the DUCT.

I may go into business. “Love agility? Want to train more at home but can’t afford such luxury materials as rubber, metal, PVC and wood needed to make your own equipment? Well, here is your answer!  Cardboard Cut-out Agility! Dog tested. Homeless person approved.”

I’m thinking millions. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grin and Bear it

Because really, what else can you do?
Trial last weekend, filled with lots of successes though most won’t be reported to the AKC.

And that’s ok.
My goals for the weekend were to:
Focus on the process NOT the outcome
Work to mentally rehearse the look AND feel of each run before hand (this is harder than you’d think!)
Control my “self-talk”
Play within our skill set which includes trusting the skill set we do have
Find a routine that I can apply before and after every run and, well, apply it.
Yes, if it sounds like I’ve been reading self-help books, I sort of did.  After I read Blink (which was AWESOME) I decided to read With Winning in Mind because the former frequently referenced the latter and, as mentioned, I had decided that mental management was probably a necessary step.

WWiM turned out to be pretty awesome also, and not TOO self-helpy so I didn’t feel completely sad and desperate.  Lots of very thought-provoking ideas in there.  I recognized some things that I had been doing that were working against me, so now have decided it is no longer “like me” to do them. Take THAT, stupid limiting self-image! I’ll teach YOU to be lame and keep me at some bogus ‘comfort level.’

Or something like that.

Is it bad to yell at your self-image? He didn’t directly address that.
Anyways, so based on my goals it was a great, successful weekend.  It really did help to try and mentally run through the feel of the run in advance.  I found that I held to my plan much better than before.  I also was WAY better about focusing on the process before, during and after- each maneuver, each obstacle, each course matters, not the outcome.   Again, it helped me stick to my plan better and forced me to consider the skill set item more carefully. As a result, I think we did a great job in working our strengths.  And for me, a big ‘win’- I did not make the same mistake twice. Hooray for learning and adapting!!

I found a few things that we are calling ‘successes in process’ i.e. things to improve with a plan already in place.  While overall the ‘routine’ worked well (happy happy Startline Dog!), I’m still searching for a solution to the issue of waking The Dog up before the first JWW run when she is first dog.  My idea is to wake us up REALLY early and go for a run those days.  Since I probably can’t give her 5 Hour Energy. 

And I’m working on the ‘self-talk.’ I will be better next time.
Overall, I have to say The Dog looked amazing. She was feeling SO much better after her adjustments and moving really nice. Her jumping was back to effortless and her extension was FULL. This was probably the best and most consistent jumping I’ve seen of her in a show.  To think it will only get better!  She was really fun to run on those courses, very challenging and interesting standard set-ups. Her attention to my motion and location cues was tested pretty heavily and she read every line I put her on perfectly AND is really nailing the decel/front cross cues now.  Lastly, glowing over her perfect contacts. Last DW was a tough push into space with a 90 degree turn following and she ran off and responded so well. Glowing!!
The Pup ran as well- possibly her last show for the summer. We'll see. I pulled her from the next trial and am still debating the memorial weekend three day, then she isn't entered after that.  

While her first run was filled with social calls, she came back and had REALLY good focus for the other three runs.  She waited on the table!! And the teeter!! And maintained all her other good behaviors!! So much improved.  She even got a standard Q!

However- she is clearly a baby still. Her brain needs more time to bake. I don’t want to run the risk of rehearsing the unwanted or shutting her down because I have to get on her about the one naughty thing that continued- trying to leave the ring at the end to get her cookies!! Naughty ring-wise Pup!! I noticed for her second, third and fourth runs that although her focus was awesome, she faded out on me a bit for the last few obstacles. By the last run I knew why- she was anticipating leaving and getting treats. WAY TOO SMART.  I did manage to catch her after the clean standard run, but she unfortunately vacated without me after a lovely JWW run, so NQ there! She NQ’d the other Standard run after running into me (blocking, even if it was her head crushing my leg!) because she stopped focusing at the last obstacle and I was in the way of the path to the treats. So we are planning to teach her to target the bucket (yes, worth the risk!). 

So we will take at least a month to work on that. Plus I will start classes with her again. Time for her to get to be ok with people in the ring. I think I’ve asked enough people to hop out when we run. So after we solve THOSE issues, we will worry about finding more. Whether this happens before the memorial day trial is up to The Pup!


Project Puppy Nephew is doing awesome as well. He is so much fun.  And I can’t believe how well he retains things- we can go a week or two without working something and he always comes back stronger! Latent Learning is his BFF. 

He has mastered:
Targeting with his paw
Back up
Here (which means he has to shove into my hand with his collar, since he didn’t like being held)
Tunnel (ruh-roh! A little TOO much!)
Table with an auto-down
Four feet in a box
Four feet on

And has started:
Plank familiarization
Wobble boards
Perch work (starting to move back feet really well!
Front crosses
Circle work (he SO wants to herd me)
Falling in love with Marvin the MM
Cone work

Such a party with the Nephew!!
Oh, and my opening advice - grin and bear it!

Sometimes, it’s all you can do. Like when your glasses fall off during your fabulous run and you are blinded and send your dog in the wrong tunnel. Because you are blind.

And then everyone gives you duct tape to prevent this from happening again.

The best thing to do?


But then get contacts. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ban on Bad

I have a lot of swirly whirly thoughts right now.

The good news: none of them are bad!

Good thing #1. The Dog is fixed!
After her last show I was seriously worried that she had somehow reinjured her shoulder.  I put her on the Boring Regime. How boring for her.  Even on the Boring Regime her stride was hinky, so after a few days I asked my student (wonderful, generous student who is a vet) if she wouldn’t mind watching her walk to see if I was crazy or not.  Wonderful, generous student she is, she did a full on chiro adjustment and evaluation. Love!  Poor little Dog was all kinds of out of sorts in her neck, which explains what I was seeing in her gait and jumping.  We had a follow up at my normal chiro vet Tuesday who did a little work with her spine but declared NO SHOULDER ISSUE! Woo! and cleared her back to Normal Regime.  Thank all that is holy because…

Good thing #2. We had a seminar with Daisy Peel Wednesday!
I’m so aglow after yesterday.  It was exactly what I needed.  Were we perfect? Nope. But finally FINALLY we are getting somewhere. 

The last day of the seminar was “Handling like a Pro.” Lots of jumps, tunnels and weaves.   Slightly awkward lines, Trappy McTrapperson off course draws and- a ban on verbal directional cues.  She wanted us to work on communicating with our bodies.  Well, to be more specific, our shoulders and legs.  Not so much the windmill arms or jazz hands.  And that we had to rely on MOTION CUES and LOCATION CUES.  You know, work on running our dogs off the things THEY actually care about not what we think they should care about.  I felt a bit…auggghhh! before we ran the first courselet. Because like, I use directionals. And I use jazz hands.  And historically The Dog doesn’t follow my motion cues OR location cues correctly (remember, obstacles focused doggy?). But if I learned anything from the day, I learned that The Dog has officially gotten the memo on motion. And has received the letter on location.  She paid attention!  To me! 

I forgot how much I liked getting A’s on homework.  Totally an awesome feeling.  All the homework we have tackled since our private two months ago made yesterday feel like we just completed a HUGE assignment and PASSED the test. 

Of course, now there is MORE homework.  As expected, Daisy delivered another round of amazing insight.  She suggested The Dog is ‘test ticking’ bars to see if I will maintain criteria or let her off.  The Dog was a bit sloppy to start and well, I let her off easy since she hadn’t run in two weeks.  But Daisy said THBBBT to that and after I started *trying* to mark ticks instead of drops. It was interesting. If I let a tick go, there were more until a bar came down, then bars (plural). But when I stopped the sequence, she got better.  It is SO like the dog to do something like ‘test tick’ bars so I’ll work with the theory for awhile.   I can believe it because she started her circling a little after I stopped her several times (it’s better though!) BUT did not circle when I kept making a mistake (like 10 times…oops) and stopped her. HMMM.  So anyways. We will up criteria on bars and see!

The other ridiculously helpful thing that was pointed out- apparently what I have called an issue with making difficult weave entries is actually an issue with a certain Leader forgetting to tell a certain Dog to WEAVE.   I’ve convinced myself that I need to manage her weaves for so long that I’ve stopped telling her what to do and actually do everything but. We worked on two tough entries and she missed them both.  Daisy pointed out that I either didn’t ever SAY “weave” or I waited until it was too late (like, she was past the plane). But as soon as I cued with good timing, she adjusted herself and got in.


Sorry Dog, guess we aren’t codependent on weaves after all.


Good thing #3. The Dog is amazing. 
And well trained! I think I’m really starting to understand. I’ve sort of made excuses for her and have done the kid gloves thing for awhile. She is my little bird! I feel so protective of her. But I suppose it’s time to have some faith.  She IS amazing and I want so much for everyone else to see this too.  For that to happen though, I have to just let go of some of the history, because it’s ancient now.  The only thing in our way is…me!

Good thing #4. No really, knowing that is a good thing!
I’ve decided that while she may be accident prone and there IS a history to deal with, those things don’t account for all our issues.  And they don’t define her now or even explain the last hurdles we still have to overcome. What’s left is in my head.  It’s hard to explain. I’ve never had a ‘mental management’ problem, at least not in the traditional sense. In general (everyone has an off day!), I feel like I look at things the ‘right way’ and have maintained positivity and perspective.  I don’t focus on winning or dwell on losing. Shows and competition thrill me- they don’t make me want to barf.  With my Sheltie, I had the ‘show zen’ thing perfected and I feel that way with The Pup.  Even if she is a bit of an a&$hole at the moment I have this weird peace- I’m totally secure when it comes to her future and clear minded when it comes to her. Something about The Dog just plays with my head and my heart though. Because I care SO MUCH and a million other little things.  And lately I have felt like MY issues are turning into OUR issues.  Well.  No more.  I started suspecting a few months ago that our last hurdles were going to be more about my self-improvement than hers.  

Sooo… mental management 101! WEE!

A little research and reading points out quite a few ‘easy’ adjustments to make.  It’s not just maintaining positivity and perspective.   Or good goal-setting.  There is so much about having faith and focus in the process that I need to learn, ESPECIALLY when it comes to The Dog. While I might not need an entire 180 on my thought process, some things are skewed that can do with realignment.  

Good thing #5. Step one: Ban the bad!
No, this doesn’t mean The Pup is moving out.  Negativity no longer has a place here. Nor does complaining. Or excuses.  I’m just… done.  I don’t want to hear it because hear it, be it.  Don’t tell me you can’t. Tell me you can.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to turn into one of those people who walk course with earphones.

You’ve been warned!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (A Star is Born???)

So glad I was sent a link to a clip of this obscure 70’s show last week.  Hilarious! But totally relevant. Since running agility with The Pup is totally like a cheesy crime-fighting duo of chicks battling villains. 

Our Arch Enemy…the TABLE! Dastardly scoundrel.

Now each week we will employ our top secret gadgetry against him in pursuit of justice, honor and a Standard Q.
Yes, The Pup had her debut.  If you missed it… you missed a great show! In true Pup fashion, she did it with flair, originality, and just a touch of amazing to ensure her continuing survival. 

First of all, I’d like to say to everyone who secretly rolled their eyes at my seemingly bizarre behavior before we ran…TOLD YOU SO!!!! Mwaahahaha! And YOU thought I was paranoid!

Ok, so while I had HOPED that my Pup would show her mad skillz and be a complete rockstar, I suspected that, having her first run ever in Standard, at the end of the day, in front of actual PEOPLE and around working DOGS would result in some theatrics.  My main worries were a friendly maiming and mauling of ring crew, picture takers and judges, running amuck and skirting attempts to secure her leash upon exit, general escaping, and chasing furballs.  In order to prevent any of the above I may have gone a bit (some might say) “overboard” by briefing ring crew, competitors and bystanders with a Pup Protocal and testing the integrity of the ring barriers.  So what if this meant I had people closing off the exits, ring crew hopping out of the ring or squishing themselves into little invisible balls?? AT LEAST NO ONE WAS HURT!!!!!

The judge was the only one who didn’t listen very well… and look what happened to HIM!

Lesson learned.  He was new; he was going to learn one day anyways, why not now?

She fulfilled every one of my worries into fruition in Standard. Furballs- chased. People- maimed. (And maybe smacked in the junk a little.) Amuck- run. Leash- Avoided.

Oh, wait, taking it back. SHE DIDN’T ESCAPE THE RING!  That’s why we tested for integrity, people.

WHY did this happen in Standard, you ask? Gee, aren’t you the one that works so hard on the weaves and contacts and table and yadda yadda? Yes, that’s me.  And we do. But, what I hadn’t foreseen was that a five second wait is ETERNITY to a Pup who loves people and wants to see people and ooo, look, a person! Walking over and talking- must want a friend??? Well, she nearly made it to “go.” Sigh.  Pups require constant motion, apparently. Even though the table has been our #1 friend since she was 9 weeks old, the count is simply too long and boring when there are friends to be made.  And when I just stand there.  Perhaps I needed to use some Electra Woman moves to keep her attention. 
At any rate, she did a lot of good things.  AWESOME start lines.  NICE contacts, though adrenaline put her departures a bit higher than normal. HOORAY WEAVING. Jumping and response to handling was good too.  And of course, she was the Angel of Attentiveness is JWW.  Perfect little girl.  She is always sure to throw me those bones.

So for next time. DON’T LOOK AT THE PUP!

Or maybe we will train that little issue.

The Dog had a Weekend of Sadness.  Q in the first class, where she took awhile to get into the run, Q in the last where she tried her butt off but was more careful than I’ve ever known her to be.  In between…ugh. Sadness.  I thought she was being particular at first, then stressed, but after a whole weekend of signs I have settled on sore.  The weekend before we had a HUGE practice outside and I think that did her in.  So we are resting now. Chiro next week. Then she gets to be my running partner because I think she just needs real exercise.  I should put some video up in comparison of the last trial, but I don’t want much to look at it again. Once was enough to know I’m right in my diagnosis.

She did have this one dogwalk though…shazam.

We both liked that part the best.