Friday, May 30, 2008

On the Road Again!

Well we are off for another agility adventure. This weekend we get to visit lovely Turlock.

Turlock is a city in Stanislaus County, California, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 55810. It is very flat and is the home to "Nunes Agility Field" where we attend many agility trials.
Turlock is also the home of the "Bistro" where you can find some of the most amazing food. I had a ahi tuna sashimi there once that knocked my socks off. I actually wanted to send my main course back and get another tuna appetizer. Unfortunately, that is not a regular menu item but was a special for that day.
I am looking forward to the trial. Yes I am. It will be fun. But what is my main motivation for driving 93.8 miles to Turlock is my salivary glands.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Murphy's Law of Position Cues "The Threadle"

Threadle: You have taught your 180s and 270s perfectly and you get on a course and there it is...the dreaded threadle. Sending your dog over 1 you scream the dogs name whilst lifting your opposite hand in the air, stopping momentum and turning into your dog...then watch your dog ignore you and do a perfect 180 taking the backside of 2. The dog of course is having the time of his life. The correct handler position after this happens is to crumple to the ground and cry.

Right now I'm working on teaching Fin "the Fish" Whisner to threadle. Somehow I forgot about this most wonderful cue until Laura set up a small course and asked me to do it. "Ahhhh," I said, "I forgot about threadles but doesn't she do a nice 180!" Laura frowned of course and shook her head and said, "Since you never taught Tazz to threadle, I figured you'd forget with Fin." This is why we call her Laura "The Wise One" Pryse.

Actually it is fairly easy to teach. You just have to practice ALOT! I do ground work (either circle or straight), raise my opposite hand running backwards and feed. Fin got it right away. Then I did it on 180 jumps where first I did a bunch where she had to take both jumps of the 180 and then I called her through using my threadle arm. She is doing them like she was born to it. We'll see what happens when I put a few jumps together and she is speeding along :)

Next Murphy's law will be Serpentines! Why, when you use the same arm on a Serp it is totally different than a threadle...position woman! position! (aren't you excited for the next installment)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The fire is 100% contained and now only the hot spots need to be put out. Whoopppeee! People are going home (those that still have homes!). Horses, dogs, cats, and all the critters are on their way if not already there.

The virus is not contained. Trish also caught the cold from Kel (put an "h" sound in front of his name)! And it has now spread to San Mateo. Hopefully containment isn't far off.

I decided to start a new "working name" for Fin. Fin is too much like Wynn and when I am at Laura's working and I say "Fin" I get a big slobbery 45 pound dog leaping in the air and slamming into me with enthusisum. With a tongue as long as my arm I usually come away from these encounters totally slimed. I will now use "Fish." Fish sounds NOTHING like any of Laura's dogs names so slobber containment has begun. Hopefully when Fin learns her new call name, we'll be at 100% slobber containment.

Here is a picture of Wynn before he became a slobbery goober.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Containment, contamination, and a movie review

The fire is 50%+ contained. Looks like they are letting it burn itself out. The smoke is blowing in a different direction and today is a beautiful day. The sky is a wonderful shade of blue and our garden is breathtaking. The helicopters and airplanes seem to be taking a different route rather than over my head so we can hear the birds chirping. So nice.

Amidst all this wonder, a poor gopher gave up his life last night. Currently he is down at the bottom of the pool but I'm hoping that Kel will remedy this situation soon.

Kel came home with a cold last week. I was convinced it was his allergies due to the smoke. I was wrong. Just 5 weeks ago I had the flu. Now I have a cold. It is a miserable thing and my sympathy for what Kel went through has reached an all time high. I waver back and forth from being mad that he brought home some strange bacteria to telling him I'm so sorry he felt this bad.

This was a good weekend. Even with the cold. I started cleaning and reorganizing, did a little gardening, spent time with Trish, and played with the dogs. We also saw the new Indiana Jones flick and I've got to say it was fun. There could have been more plot and I felt that the cutting of the film made some leaps that needed more content. A few things in the plot sorta were there for no explained reason...just for the action. But I would definately recommend it. Go with no expectations and you'll enjoy yourself.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jumping with Road Kill

Fins new favorite toy is a disemboweled squirrel. You will see me using it as our tug toy. Forget the expensive riot sticks and rope tugs, just give her a 10 year old toy that the dogs have pulled all the stuffing out of and we've got ourselves a motivational toy!

Well we've started a few sequences. We still have alot of one jump work to do and LOTS of circle work, but we are having fun and that's what counts.

I'd like to improve on the number of steps she is taking between jumps and get her focus on the jumps rather than me...but that will come in time. She is still pretty intense on wanting to focus on me so I have my work cut out for me.

The fire is still going in the hills. In the first video you can hear the helicopers above us taking water to be dumped. The wind seems to be blowing the smoke away from us so we took advantage and spent time outside. It is 35% contained so that is really good. Lots of people still waiting to get back to their homes.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We Interupt Our Agility Coverage...

...for a Brief Fire Update

We are all smiling here. Rain is in the forcast so that is wonderful news. All the best to the fire people out working the lines!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fire and training update

Well the winds have died down, but shifted. Yesterday the winds were headed east so the fire was going south east towards Santa Cruz/Watsonville. Today the winds shifted first north and then west. At about 3:00 pm I looked out my office window and could not see my back fence. I actually panicked a little as my first thought was the fire was upon us.

I ran outside and the smoke was heavy and thick. I could not see anything beyond 100 feet. I came back in and turned on the TV and checked the internet. Basically within an hour, the smoked mostly cleared and I felt silly for feeling nervous.

Here is a map of where the fire is right now. We are still 3-4 miles from the fire and there are LOTS of homes between the fire and us. I can't even image that it would go this far since the wind has died down.

Alot of people have lost their homes. The fire is raging on, but they seem to have it more under control now that the winds have died down. We might even have some rain this weekend!

I did train today...a little smoke does not stop training! We trained at Lauras and Fin did well but stressed a little. I think that she was nervous as the dogs were barking, but she did some nice combo drills and lots of footwork.

This afternoon I set up some boxwork in the back and started her on some simple front crosses. she is working really nicely and seemed to enjoy the jumping. She is getting better about coming into me when I run fast and each day I see improvement.

I'll get some video up this weekend of the amazing Finmiester!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crazy Wind

I'm sitting here watching things blow into the pool.

There's got to be a song here somewhere:

The chair goes, the wind blows
The house shakes, my agility dog quakes

No one wants to go out to play

Oh, crazy wind, crazy wind, you've got stickers under my skin.

The sun shade is down
The trees pound into the ground

oh look, a sage bush has come to stay

Oh crazy wind, crazy wind, you've got stickers under my skin.

A fire is raging,
two hillsides away

My van is ready if needed today

Oh crazy wind, crazy wind, you've got stickers under my skin..

Ok, I know, I's the best I can do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Party dogs

Well it is almost party time! Fin got a special breakfast and has lots of training time with the Momma today. You only turn 1 once!

Lots of Milestones Today

Today a number of milestones have been achieved. First of all I must say that Kel and I have been married 20 years! The time just flys by. We are looking forward to another 20 for sure.

In addition, our little Fin "HiMarks Holy Mackerel!" turns one year old today. We can't believe our little baby is a young lady.

And lastly, our cruise tickets arrived today. We are really going!

It has been a busy week. Sat Kel and I took the pups for a walk and then headed down to Monterey for the day. I originally had imagined going down and taking the pups for a walk along the ocean and Kel imagined a romantic outing just the two of us...we did what he wanted to do. In the end I really enjoyed the time with Kel. It was fun to "practice" our upcoming vacation. I even "dressed up" and wore makeup. Imagine that...maybe I should add "wearing makeup" to the milestone list.

Fins training is going well. We went up to powerpaws for our regular privates with Nancy Gyes. Fin was amazing. She was a good girly and did EVERYTHING asked for. We started her on the A frame and she was AMAZING. She really enjoys flying through the air. I'll get some video up later in the week. She is ONE amazing dog.

Our milestones are fun, but they are just stepping stones in life. I truly enjoy this journey I'm on and every stone I step upon is a memory.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to identify agility dogs

Really fast agility dogs can sleep in the comfort of the bed on your high priced linens as easily as... in the dirt...actually, they first sleep in the dirt and then they sleep in the linens, just so you know that they are dirt dogs.
Smart agility dogs claim the most comfortable chair for themselves.
Easy going agility dogs sleep in their own bed, but require down comforters.
Mamma boy agility dogs sleep under mama's desk. Mama boy agility dogs don't want to be outta site of the mama.

Where does the time go?

June 2007, I had an idea to go on vacation with my husband for our 20th wedding anniversary.

He is a good husband. A loving man who quietly goes about his life letting me do whatever the heck I want with very little complaint. So last June I was feeling quite loving toward the man and thought I'd plan a "big" vacation for he and I to "get away."

At first I thought we could rent an RV and with all the dogs, travel for a week. We could go from one National Forest to another hiking, reading, bar b quing.... His sad face said it all. The man wants to "get away" and I can see the definition of that is "no dogs."
In the end, we choose to do a cruise. Peg and Rich are going and cruising is a great way to travel when you are traveling with another couple. It is also less expense (given the Euro to $$ ratio) than getting a car and going around Europe on your own and it has an elegance and luxury about it that is relaxing and rejuvenating.

That was last June.

It is now May 2008. The reality is that I'm going to "get away." I'm excited about the trip (no doubt about that) but nervous about being away so long. We will be gone 16 days! My stomach does a little lurch when I think about it. How will the pups handle it? Is it too much to ask my sister and friend to watch them? What if something happens? What, how, why, ohhhh. I'm sure once I'm on the plane I'll be fine.

June 12-15 we will be in London visiting with our good friend Julie and her husband Nick. We will be visiting the Natural History Museum, the Tower, going to a musical, strolling along the Thames, and taking a ride on the "eye."

On June 16 we go to Harwick and board the Jewel of the Seas.

Kel and I have a "balcony," room and I'm looking forward to spending time just hanging out there. Although it is a full itinerary, we will have plenty of time to relax and "hang out." We'll have special dinners and romance. And best of all, Kel will "get away" and we'll be able to dance and hug without four youngsters barking at us.

I will be taking my computer with me (so I can download pictures each day). I will also try to update the blog a few times while we are away.

It will be fun and I'll miss the dogs, but it is good to spend time with ones husband and family. I'm thankful to the individuals who are making this possible and helping me with the pups so I can go have fun.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A new Series! Agility Video Reviews - Start Lines and Impuse Control

I'm going to start an irregular series of blogs on agility videos. Today is the first so I'll include a brief introduction.

The truth is that I like to think that I have a specific methodology to my training. The truth is that no body knows it all and everyone can learn. This is why I beg, borrow, and purchase dog agility videos for my own education.

The one thing that I've learned is that if the trainer (presenter) on the video does not train in a similar methodology, that I don't learn much. It isn't that the handler isn't a great handler with great dogs that has something to teach, it's that if I decide to train their way I'll have to start over.

A good example of this is the Jenny Damm videos. She is a great handler, been on the world team, her dogs are amazing, I've met her and she is a nice person. However, her handling style is so unlike my own, that watching the videos was not really for me.

I watch alot of videos. In no particular order, I'll preview them for you here on my blog.

I've been watching the Susan Salo Jumping series, but I'm not done with it. I'll wait and do that one when I'm finished.

The first one will be...ta da....

Start Lines and Impulse-control Games - Julie Daniels
Available through (or you can always borrow from me:) )

This video was taken during the 2007 Clean run instructor camp. Julie Daniels is nationally recognized instructor and seminar presentor. I found her to be entertaining. She had a demo dog that she demonstrated, but most of the video was her speaking.

Basically she uses the methodology of operant training (clicker training) in that the dog is constantly asking what's in it for me? She wants the dog to think that their behaviors are resulting in them getting what they want.

The basic idea is that you start with the release and work backwards to the "hold position" (basic backchaining). I thought the video was interesting, but did not blow me away.

My recomendation is to "borrow this one" and view when you don't have much else to do.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fun Times

A fun weekend and a clean pool. What more could one hope for.

Tazz and I went to the Bayteam two day show with our buddies Laura, Wynn, Havoc, and Brazen. Special appearances were made by "my husband" on Saturday and a surprize visit on Sunday by "Trish."

Some might think that the best part of the weekend was my "FOUR!" qualifying master runs, or my TWO 4th place finishes with Tazzie in our first weekend in all Master classes. But the truth is that having my husband hang out with me and my sister pop in for a visit was more uplifting than all the "Q's" in the world (although they sure help...keep it up Tazzie!).

Tazz is now an official "Master Jumper." I thought he was a master jumper a few weeks ago, but I didn't realize he needed 5 "Q's," I thought he only needed 3. Now he can hold his tail up high as he got his two jumper q's in one weekend.

Fin stayed home this weekend with her daddy, Rocks and Maddie. She has had too much fun running around the pool and has tore off one of her pads. Little gimpy girl hung out with her dad on the sofa chewing on bullies and watching sports on TV.